The Toasted Cheezer
Whenever Maxime Vachier-Lagrave plays, I take note. First of all, Maxime seems to my untrained eye to be a girl’s name. Somehow a perversion of “Maxim” (Dlugy). Well, Catherine Keener was hot in “Being John Malkovich” playing Maxine. Note the “n” there. What’s “Maxime” about? Many questions, no answers. Secondly, I think of La Vache Qui Rit (a kind of budget grocery store cheese that I liked when I was a kid).
So here is a cheesy game of his from the recent 2008 Olympiad. The winner of the game, Vladimir Akopian, happened to be playing for the winning team, Armenia so you know he had plenty of motivation to beat the Toasted Cheezer.
[Event "2008 Olympiad"]
[Site "Dresden GER"]
[White "Akopian, Vladimir - ARM"]
[Black "Vachier Lagrave, Maxime - FRA"]
As a preamble, I found it amusing that the “kid” Vachier-Lagrave had a higher rating going into this game than experienced world-class Akopian. This was more suprising to me than the chimp Travis going crazy and biting a woman’s head in Connecticut. A sign of the times? Would V-L be favored in a match?
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. Be2!? The hackneyed 7. f3 b5 8. Qd2 Nbd7 gets us to regular English Attack waters seen too much in recent times. Akopian prepped this move, but La Tartine aux Poires (Pear Tart) reacts well.
7… Qc7 8. a4 b6! 9. f4 Bb7 10. Bf3 Nbd7! I like the Cheezer’s piece placement. Nice and flexible. I set up like this once versus Leonid Shamkovich, Lloyds Bank UK 1978!
11. Qe2 g6 12. O-O e5! The French boy wisely avoids the “desastre des proportions mondial” of 12… Bg7?? 13. e5! dxe5 14. Ndb5!! axb5 15. Nxb5 Qb8 16. Bxb7 Ra5 17. fxe5 Qxe5 18. Qf3 and black is a burnt crouton. Quelle nuance – I also played this way against Shamkovich. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
13. Rad1 A big deal was made out of this move since it involves a ‘piece sac’. It’s too risky, obviously, for black to accept. In fact, no GM would spend even more than a few moments “pondering” 13….exd4??. So, it really shouldn’t amount to much – just another prepped sharp line with a transparent trick. Black finds the obvious and correct response at least on this move…
13…Be7! Rather obvious; this is why white’s “spectacular” piece offer doesn’t itself merit an exclam.
14. fxe5 Nxe5? Oh no! Boo! After setting up fantastically, the Baguette Kid sets himself on the path of a rapid self-immolation. Required is the obvious 14… dxe5! 15. Nd5?! (the more circumspect 15. Nb3 O-O 16. Bg5 Nc5 17. Qc4 Kg7 18. Bxf6+ Bxf6 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. Rxd5 Be7 is dead equal) 15… Nxd5 16. exd5 O-O 17. Nc6 (this knight invasion is rather meaningless) 17…Bd6 18. Qc4 Rfe8! (not falling for 18…f5?? 19. Ne7+! and white has a huge edge) 19. g3 e4 20. Bg2 f5 and I’d rather be black. Timman in New In Chess speculated Akopian might go for 15. Nb3 since 15. Nd5 does in fact seem to be a dead-end, shifting the initiative to black. Next time, Maxime!
15. Bh6 Bf8 16. Bxf8 Kxf8 17. Qe3 Posing an elementary riddle.
White eyes h6, and plans the transparent 17. Qg5 on 17…Kg7, or does he? This gets to the heart of the position.
17…h6?? Another horrible gaffe (a French word!) from Kid Vachier. The Dresden Willies? (TM) This move comes from the bottom of a bad cheese barrel. He needed to play the simple 17… Kg7! with the cute point that the barbaric 18. Qg5?! is met by the cute pinning 18…Qc5! 19. Kh1 Nxf3 20. Nxf3 Nxe4 and he’s fine. White would only then have a small edge. I can’t imagine why he would prefer 17…h6?? over the solid 17…Kg7! anyway.
18. Bh5!!! CRUNCH. This blows the hyphen away: Vachier just got separated from the Lagrave. He must have been feeling like he had eaten yesterday’s spinach croissant with some bad bleu cheese interior. To put it another way, the souffle has fallen. White explodes black on the f-file and the crazed cleric eats next on g6 with nastiness happening on e6. Black’s pieces are now past the event horizon and they all get sucked into the tactical black hole.
18…Qe7 There was no defense. If 18…Kg7, “too late”, 19. Bxg6! Nxg6 (or 19…Kxg6 20. Nf5 anyway, and wins) 20. Nf5+ and it’s a rout. The rest of the game is like Napoleon at Waterloo – frightened scared men being massacred by a surrounding pincer force.
19. Bxg6! Anyway. Black could already resign.
19…Nxg6 20. Nf5 Qe5 21. Qxb6 Bxe4 22. Qxd6+ Qxd6 23. Nxd6 Bxc2 24. Rxf6 Ra7 25. Rd2 Kg7 26. Rf3 1-0
Les enfants de la patrie n’allons pas. Hardly a triumph of white’s prep, though, as black just blew up for no reason.
Relationship Advice for Men
Often times, women will become enamored with abnormally large coffee mugs and bowls. If you put a regular amount of cereal in such a bowl, it is dwarfed. If you put coffee or tea in the Giant Mug, it is similarly dwarfed by the massive porcelain artifact. What to do? Sneak out and get some regular sized stuff but make sure it’s in a compatible color or else Your Ass is Grass.
In Other Chess News
To help Chess Life as a magazine, fortunately momentum is growing to stop Hanken from writing about the game of chess in Chess Life. Current thinking is to give him a sidebar once in a while where he can comment on a player’s appearance. That might be the best way for the editor to go. Accuracy in annotations should be the editor’s overall goal in a ‘chess’ magazine.
What does the Russian Supermodel Think?
Attempts to reach Natasha Poly to learn her opinions of where Chess Life should head were, as of this writing, unsuccessful.
And Lastly – Music at an Art Show… or something
Courtesy of Facebook,
I think Lily Faerman, a chess personality, is about to do a music concert or … something .. … at an art show of Russian women artists? in March in New York? I can’t decipher youth announcements.
Here is her poster, I think. I could be totally wrong about all this.