The Fabulous 00s: Almost a Curious Double Manufactured at Biel 2009

Game One

In our first game, we get one hot off the Presses at Biel 2009:

[Event “Biel 2009”]
[Date “2009.07.28”]
[White “Alexander Morozevich”]
[Black “Maxime Vachier-Lagrave”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B80”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e6 7. Be3 b5 8. Qd2 Nbd7 9. g4 h6 10. O-O-O b4 11. Nce2 Qc7 12. h4 d5 13. Nf4 e5 14. Nfe6!

This is not the first time Vachier-Lagrave has stepped on a land mine opponent preparation.  Nakamura demolished him spectacularly with homework in the Benko Gambit at Cap D’Agde, 2009.  Having sharp, narrow repetoires makes it fairly easy for nasty accidents to occur.

14… fxe6 15. Nxe6 Qa5 16. exd5 Qxa2 17. Qd3 Kf7 18. g5 Nxd5 19. Bh3 Nxe3 20. Nd8+ Ke7 21. Nc6+ Kf7 22. g6+?

This was the first golden chance to put away the young French player who so far, had just been carried along by the tide.

22. Be6+!!

This would have been one of the best games of 2009

This would have been one of the best games of 2009

Position after 22. Be6+!! (analysis)

It’s a chessic shame that Moro missed this amazing, deep shot.

22…Kxe6 (clearly 22…Qxe6 23. Nd8+ wins)  23. Qg6+ Nf6 24. gxf6 gxf6 25. Qe8+ Kf5 26.  Nd4+!! Kf4 27. Ne2+ Kf5 28. Ng3+ Kf4 29. Nh5+!

This is a fantastic pendulum!

Pendulum .... Guillotine

Pendulum .... Guillotine

29…Kxf3 (29… Kf5 30. Rd4 Qa1+ 31. Kd2 wins) 30. Qc6+ e4 31. Qxf6+ Bf5 32. Rh3+ Kg2 33. Rh2+ Kf3 34. Rf1+ Nxf1 35. Qxf5+ Ke3 36. Qf2 mate!   This would have been a fitting end to the game.  Of course, it’s a Caissic horror that Moro goes on to miss a more banal and crude win on move 26.  Pauvre Moro.

22… Kg8 23. Qxe3 Bc5 24. Qe4 Nf8 25. Rd8 Bb7 26. Rxa8? Another big miscue.   White had the rather crude 26. Rxf8+! Rxf8 (26… Kxf8 27. Qf5+ Ke8 28. Qxe5+ wins; 26…Bxf8 27. Qxe5 hits c5 and threatens Be6+, this wins too.   If 27. Qxe5 Bc8, 28. Qe8! mates!  Let’s play over the rest of the sickness without comment because I want you to compare the positions arising from 22. Be6+!! to Game 2!

26… Bxa8 27. h5 Rh7 28. Re1 (28. gxh7!+ Kh8 29. Kd2) 28… Bxc6 29. Qxc6 Bd4 30. Kd2 Qxb2 31. Qc4+ Kh8 32. Kd3 a5 33. Qc8 Qa3+ 34. Ke4 b3 35. cxb3
a4 36. Rb1 Qb4 37. Qc4 Qb7+ 38. Qd5 Qb4 39. Qc4 Qd2 40. Bg4 a3 41. Qf7 Qc2+ 42. Kd5 Qc5+ 43. Ke4 a2 44. Rc1 a1=Q 45. Rxc5 Bxc5 46. Qd5 Qe1+ 47. Kd3 Qd1+ 48.
Kc4 Qxd5+ 49. Kxd5 Ba3 50. Bf5 Kg8 51. Kxe5 Rh8 52. Kd5 Nh7 53. gxh7+ Kf7 54. Bg6+ Kf6 55. f4 Bc1 56. f5 Bd2 57. Kd6 Be1 58. Kd7 Bb4 59. Kc7 Ke5 60. Kd7 Ba3
61. Kc6 Kd4 62. Kc7 Kc3 63. Kd7 Kb4 64. Kd6 Kxb3+ 65. Kd5 Bb2 66. Kd6 Bf6 67. Kc5 Kc3 68. Kd6 Kd4 69. Kc6 Rd8 70. Kb6 Kd5 71. Kc7 Kc5 72. Bf7 g5 73. fxg6 Rd6
74. Be8 Be5 75. Kb7 Rb6+ 76. Kc8 Kd6 0-1

Game 2

Here’s the Doppelganger, note the very curious positions of the Kings.

IM Ginsburg – NM Jack Young, New England 199?

Dutch Defense, Sjödin Gambit

1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. e4 fxe4 4. Ng5!?

The strange Sjödin Gambit (so named, as explained to me by GM Ferdinand Hellers, after a Swedish amateur player). Sjödin is a tough word to pronounce! It’s something like “Shuhhh-DEEN.” Joel Benjamin tried this move versus a Russian 2400+ and was successful, although his game was not without chances for black.

4…Nf6 5. f3



Black must seriously consider 5…h6 6. Nh3, one of the main alternatives to drive the menacing WN offside. In addition, I think Joel’s opponent played 5…c5!? to challenge the dark squares and got a good game; the trick is 6. fxe4 cxd4 7. e5?? Qa5+! picking up the e5-pawn.

6. Qxf3 Nc6 7. Bd3?

7. c3 was circumspect. The wild text move is unsound. But if it had not been played, we wouldn’t have the following (possibly unique? – see below) crazy game. Them’s the breaks.

7…Nxd4 Of course. If your opponent hangs center pawns, take them.

8. Qh3 d5! Refuting white’s coffeehouse antics.

9. Nxh7 Nxh7 10. Bxh7 Nxc2+ 11. Ke2 Kd7!


Very convincing. White has very few resources left.

12. Rf1 Nxa1 13. Rf7+ Kc6?! A fairly easy win is 13…Be7 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Qc3 b6 and white runs out of steam. Black is still winning after the text, but he’ll need to find a tough move shortly.

14. Qc3+ Kb6 15. Be3+ c5 16. b4 At least white is making a little trouble now. The game is starting to take on very strange overtones. Watch the black king double back now and head into the center!



Finally black goes wrong. The difficult deflection, using a ‘doomed piece’, 16…Nb3!! still wins. For example, 17. axb3 d4! and white doesn’t have the b2 queen check as in the game. Or, 17. Qxb3 Bd7 18. bxc5++ Kc7 and black wins as well.

17. bxc5+ Bxc5 18. Qb2+ Kc6 19. Nc3? Too fancy, I was carried away. Correct is 19. Be4+! Kd6 20. Bxd4 and white wins.

19…Qb6? 19…dxc3 loses simply to 20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Bxc5+ Kxc5 22. Qxc3+ Kb6 23. Qb4+ Ka6 24. Rxb7 and mates. Black needed to play 19…a6! to take b5 away from white. For example, 20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Bf4+ e5 and there’s nothing more white can do. Now white is back on track again.

20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Nb5+ Ke5 22. Bf3!


Black’s king finds himself in a really bizarre mating net. His attempts to avoid it just lead the game into more and more surrealistic situations without changing the verdict: black’s king is trapped and cannot wriggle free. Enjoy this sideline: 22. Kd3! Rh4 23. Bf2 Rf4 24. Bg3 g5 25. Bxf4+ gxf4 26. Bc6!! (protecting the N on b5 temporarily is an important point)


Position after 26. Bc6!! (Analysis)

26…Qxc6 27. Qe2+ Kd5 28. Qe4 mate!

Or this, even more amusing: 22. Kd3! Rh4 23. Bf2 Rxe4 24. Kc4!!! and mate is forced in 10 moves! It’s really strange to have both kings participating in the center in the middlegame, with one king sealing the mating net on the other. Perhaps it’s unique in the history of chess!?? (readers??) Can you imagine this game played in the 19th century and some bearded fellow such as Steinitz announcing Mate in 10 in a grovelly voice?


Position after 24. Kc4!!! (Analysis) – Unique Tableau?

Here’s one of the shorter mates from this position: 24…g5 25. Bg3+ Rf4 26. Qe2 mate.

22…Rh4 23. g4! Caveman chess, brutally effective. White doesn’t need his queen anymore.

23…g5 24. Bxg5 Rxh2+ 25. Kd1 Rxb2 26. Bf4 mate

Not quite a pure mate; the N on b5 is not needed (guarding d6 twice).


It’s always nice to end a game with a queen sacrifice. This game was really way out there in deep orbit. It doesn’t stand up to serious analysis, but it did produce some unique situations.


If Moro had found 22. Be6+, there would have been a whole set of weird similarities between the two games!  Alas, Vachier-Lagrave (the modern day Dus-Chortimirski, bad openings and resourceful fighting in middlegame) went on to carry the day.

Some More Blitz

Let’s take our mind off the previous absurdities with two absurd blitz games.

Aries2(IM) – Smallville(GM) ICC 5 minute game, March 2009.   ‘Smallville” is Nakamura’s ICC alias.

1. e4 a6 2. d4 h6 Don’t worry, the game returns to normal channels soon.

3. Nc3 e6 4. Nf3 b5 A truly hypermodern opening.  White hits upon a good blitz plan of getting a minor piece near black’s king.

5. a4 b4 6. Ne2 Bb7 7. Ng3! One exclamation point covering moves 5 to 7.  When playing a stronger player, it is incumbent to try to mate!

7…d5 8. Bd3 Nf6 9. Qe2 Nbd7?! 9…dxe4 is correct with a fully acceptable game. At this point,  after black’s actual 9th move 10. e5! is obviously strong and I can’t explain why I didn’t do it.

10. O-O?! c5! Now the game is double-edged.

11. exd5 Bxd5 12. Re1 Qc8 13. b3 cxd4 14. Nxd4 Bc5 15. Ndf5 O-O White to play.  Is the sacrifice on g7 correct?

Sacrifice?  Yes, it is time.

Sacrifice? Yes, it is time.

16. Nxg7! Answer:  yes it is correct, because black’s king doesn’t have very many defenders at the moment.  But this is a good tactical quiz position, because some of the follow-up lines are not totally straightforward.

16…Kxg7 17. Bxh6+? The wrong way to do it.  As a GM kibitzer told me immediately after the game, 17. Nh5+! is right.   Black cannot take that knight due to forced checkmate.  17. Nh5+! Nxh5? and now 18. Bxh6+! (a clever move inversion from the game) forces mate.  So on 17. Nh5+, the black king must move.  17…Kh8?! 18. Nxf6 Nxf6 19. Bb2 looks insanely risky, so that leaves 17…Kg8.   In that case, the computer thinks black holds on after 18. Bxh6 Qd8! 17.  Rad1 Kh8! but it’s really necessary in blitz to make black find all these moves.

17…Kh8 18. Nh5?? This is an even worse lemon.  18. Bxf8 Qxf8 19. Be4 and both sides have chances.  Now black assumes the attack and white is lost.

Rg8 19. Nf4 Qc6 {White resigns} C’est la vie.


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Be7 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Bb3 Be6 8. Re1 8. Bxe6 fxe6 9. Qb3 Qc8 is all right for black.

8…Bxb3 9. Qxb3 Rb8 10. d4 Nd7?! 10…Qd7 and 10…a6 are less clumsy.

11. Na3 Bf6 12. Be3 a6 13. d5 Ne7 14. Ba7 Nc5 If I was white, I’d just take that horse and get a structural edge.

Snap the Horse

Snap the Horse

15. Qd1(?! but white gets another chance next move) Rc8 16. b4 Same comment; I’d snap off the horse on c5 and be happy.

16…Nd7 17. Be3 Ng6 18. c4 Nh4? Weak.  18…Be7 is solid and fine.  Black can get counterplay on the queenside with a later c6 and/or a5.

19. c5 Nxf3+ 20. Qxf3 Bg5 21. Nc4 Bxe3 22. Qxe3 Qe7 23. c6 bxc6 24. dxc6 Nf6 25. a4 Rb8 26. Rab1 Qe6 27. Qd3 Nxe4? Not good, but exciting and leading us to the fabulous quiz position after black’s 31st.  Just the normal 27…Rfd8 to keep going.

28. Qxe4 d5 29. Qxe5 dxc4 30. Qxc7 Rxb4 31. Rbd1 Qf6 This is a great tactical quiz position, pretty much impossible for humans to solve in blitz.

Quiz Time

Quiz Time

32. Rd6?? Correct is the rather difficult 32. Qd7! Rc2 33. Qd4! getting a winning ending.  The deep point (hard to work out in blitz) is that 33…c3 34. Qxf6 gxf6 35. Rc1 Rb3 36. Re3! uses all pieces to maximum effect breaking black’s resistance.

Another variation that pulls up lame but hard to fully see in blitz is 32. Rc1? c3 33. Qd7 (too late!) Rc4! 34. c7 Qf4! and the pawn on c7 is lost!

The text gives black an unexpected loophole.  So unexpected that I blitz out a weak reply not exploiting my chance.

32…Qc3?? When presented with a gift horse… well, find out about the gift!   32…Qe5!! leads to a black edge after 33. Rf1 c3; 33. Red1?? just loses to 33…c3.  33. Red1?? c3 34. Qc8 is a typical last-ditch attempt, but it’s rudely met by 34…Qxd6! using white’s back rank yet again.  Positions with mutually weak bank ranks and mutually threatening passed pawns are the sharpest in the pantheon of heavy piece middlegames!  Now all is silence.

33. Qe7 g6 34. c7 {Black resigns} 1-0

Postscript – US Car History

Some curious stuff I learned about the Ford Edsel. The more diverse factoids a chess player knows, the better he or she is off?!?!

Quoting from the Time.Com “50 Worst Cars of All Time” story,

“That’s why we’re all here, right? To celebrate E Day, the date 50 years ago when Ford took one of the autodom’s most hilarious pratfalls. But why? It really wasn’t that bad a car. True, the car was kind of homely, fuel thirsty and too expensive, particularly at the outset of the late ’50s recession. But what else? It was the first victim of Madison Avenue hyper-hype. Ford’s marketing mavens had led the public to expect some plutonium-powered, pancake-making wondercar; what they got was a Mercury. Cultural critics speculated that the car was a flop because the vertical grill looked like a vagina. Maybe. America in the ’50s was certainly phobic about the female business. How did the Edsel come to be synonymous with failure? All of the above, consolidated into an irrational groupthink and pressurized by a joyously catty media. Interestingly, it was Ford President Robert McNamara who convinced the board to bail out of the Edsel project; a decade later, it was McNamara, then Secretary of Defense, who couldn’t bring himself to quit the disaster of Vietnam, even though he knew a lemon when he saw one.”

Change of Pace Poll

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2 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: Almost a Curious Double Manufactured at Biel 2009”

  1. coelacanth Says:

    Announced mate should forever be associated with Steinitz – von Bardeleben. And speaking of Steinitz, isn’t there a Steinitz Gambit game which ends with both kings in the center, and the White king assisting in the mate of the Black king?

  2. coelacanth Says:

    Senior moment on my part–the von Bardeleben game was an announced victory in n moves, not an announced mate.
    In the comments in, it seems to be that he announced mate if his opponent played a plausible way, “or else ruinous loss of material.” Kind of a hybrid announcement.

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