The Kamsky Win
[Event "ch, USA Finals Match 1991"]
[White "Joel Benjamin"]
[Black "Gata Kamsky"]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O Qd6?! Not a trustworthy line although it was popular in the dawn of modern theory in the 80′s. White meets it effortlessly.
6.d3 Ne7 7.Be3! Ng6 8.Nbd2 c5 9.Nc4 Black has a very poor game already.
9…Qe6 10.Ng5 The computer likes 10. h4 also.
10…Qf6 11.Qh5 Bd6? 11…h6 was required.
12.f4! Black is toast.
Black toddles on to what should have been an early grave…
12…exf4 13.e5 Nxe5 14.Bxf4 White is completely winning. So simple!
14…Nxc4 15.Bxd6 Black is also not long for this world after 15. Rae1+ Be7 16. dxc4. The text should also win trivially.
15…Qd4+ 16.Kh1 Nxd6 17.Rxf7?? Oh no! The brutal 17. Rae1+ Kd7 18. Nf3! with the idea of Ne5+ crushes black. This backs up the psychological finding that the most common blunders overlook retreating moves. In this case, reculez pour mieux avancez! (to e5). But to make the blunder more perplexing, there are several reasons why it’s no good.
17… Qg4! Cold shower. The computer also shows that the cold-blooded and scary-looking 17…Nxf7! repels white after 18. Nxf7 O-O! or 18. Re1+ Kd7! 19. Nxf7 Re8! and white has no good discovery after 20. Rxe8 Kxe8. Or, 20. Qh3+ Kc6 finito. Finally, 18. Qxf7+ Kd8 19. Re1 Bd7 and black consolidates and wins.
18.Re1+ Kd8 19.Qxg4 Bxg4 20.Rxg7 h6 21.Nh7 Bd7 22.Nf6 Bc6 23.Kg1 Kc8 24.Ree7 Kb8 25.Rxc7 Ne8 26.Nxe8 Rxe8 27.Kf2 Re6 28.Rce7 Rf6+ 29.Kg3 Ka7 30.Ref7 Rxf7 0-1
Conclusion: Gata played black, didn’t know the opening, staggered into a lost game immediately, and then somehow was forced to win by his opponent who was, it is true, suffering from a virulent case of Rustam-itis.
The Kamsky Loss
Now consider game 2 from the 2009 Topalov-Kamsky match. This time it is Gata with the ‘unlucky’ white pieces in a Ruy. Once again black’s treatment does not impress.
[Event "Topalov-Kamsky Match"]
[White "Gata Kamsky"]
[Black "Veselin Topalov"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Bc5? 5. Nxe5! This line is just bad for black. What kind of Bulgarian preparation is this? We won’t be seeing this line again in the match, since Gata will have read my notes.
5…Nxe4 6. Qe2 Nxe5 7. d4 Black is not having a whole lot of fun after the simple 7. Qxe4 Qe7 8. Nc3. For example, 8…c6 9. d4!. There is also the nice pendulum variation 8. Nc3 Nc6 9. Re1 Qxe4 10. Nxe4 Be7 and now the paradoxical and hard to spot 11. Nc3!! which is very bothersome. I’m surprised white did not go for that, as Russians say “the game can only have two possible results” – white win or white draw.
7…Qe7 8. dxc5 Nxc5
Black’s pieces are poorly placed and he has lost the bishop pair. He has sold his soul for one lousy pawn which white can win back. We’re in 19th Century Dismal.
9. Nc3? The obvious first tendency for a novice player is 9. Bf4! giving a nice edge. Did white somehow out-think himself here? Maybe he just has a case of the Bulgarian Willies (TM). For example, 9…f6 (ugly! – but other moves are even worse, hanging the c7 pawn) 10. Re1! c6 11. Bxe5 and white is better. Or, 10. Re1 O-O 11. Bxe5 fxe5 12. Bc4+! (a nice zwischenzug) 12…Kh8 13. Qxe5 and white has an obvious edge powering through to the 7th rank. Another crummy variation for black is 12. Bc4+! Ne6 13. Qxe5 Qh4 14. Qe2.
Why didn’t he do this? Since the Topalov team is also reading this as I see from my access logs, expect some “fine-tuning” in the openings as the match goes on.
9…Ng6? This is not good. 9…c6 is correct. The psychedelic follow-up 10. b4 a6!! with level chances is quite droll. Topa didn’t eat his Wheaties on this day.
10. Qh5? Why lurch over there? Suddenly in aggression mode? The exceedingly simple 10. Be3 gives a nice edge. Next time order an espresso around move 5!
10…c6 11. Bg5 f6 12. Rae1 Ne6 13. Bd3 O-O It is totally unclear what white was thinking but his “tempo gains” have come to nought and black is fine.
14. Bd2 d5 15. f4 Qc5+ 16. Kh1? The elementary 16. Be3 kept the balance.
16…d4 17. Bf5?? What the heck? A tactical blackout reminiscent of low-quality 19th century matches. 17. Qxc5 was necessary with only a small edge.
17…Rf7?? Oh no! Black misses the simple 17…Nexf4! and wins! Was there something in the air or water?
18. Ne4 Qd5 19. Bxg6? 19. Ng3!
19…hxg6 20. Qxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rc7! Was this totally overlooked by white? Maybe.
22. c4 It’s just horrible for white after 22. Nxc8 Raxc8 23. Rxe6 Rxc2 24. Bb4 Rxb2 25. a3 d3 26. Ree1 Rcc2! and white is paralyzed. The text is also miserable.
22…dxc3 23. Bxc3 d4 And black is just winning. A truly bad game.
24. Bb4 Bd7 25. Rf2 a5 26. Ba3 b5 27. b3 b4 28. Bb2 Ra6 29. Ne4 Rac6 30. Kg1 Rc2 31. g3 d3 32. Rd1 f5 0-1
Do you see the parallels? We have two Ruys in which utter indifference was displayed to good moves in the opening.
In game 1 of our selection, Gata played the part of the Village Oaf in the opening and was forced to win. In game 2, Veselin played a dismal variation (were his helpers the oafs?) that might draw and might lose and Gata, through a “tactical firestorm”, forced Veselin to win.
In Other Chess News
The grass-roots movement to ban Hanken from writing about chess games in Chess Life is gaining momentum.
And In Other News – ChessBase Misses the Most Key Guy
ChessBase published what it considers the biggest (monetary) winners and losers in chess in the past year. It’s hard to understand why they would overlook Steve Feinberg, a chess master who has lost billions by an ill-timed acquisition by his private equity firm, Cerberus LLP, of Chrysler. Apparently knowing nothing of cars or recent history, he appointed Robert Nardelli (who had spectacularly failed at running Home Depot but awarded himself a gigantic “golden parachute” cash bonus for being fired) and also knows nothing of car companies. Guess what, Chrylser is going down the toilet and so is billions of U.S. taxpayer money in the form of (insane) government loans. And the story is never-ending – the government might flush billions more down this Caissic toilet. Feinberg’s losses dwarf the paltry $1.8 Billion loss of Boaz Weinstein – one of many risk-taking chess trader cowboys who has gone off the rails. Bankers Trust didn’t do well with the New In Chess-advertized “Chess players must be good at trading” thesis in the early 90′s.
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Facebook Suggestion Oddities
Sometimes Facebook recommends some pretty odd ‘friend’ possibilities. Recently I was amused to see a) a notorious tournament chess cheater and b) a psychotic (the best kind) female in my list.