Archive for the ‘Chess Clubs’ Category

The Fabulous 10s: Liberties with Fischer

June 2, 2011

I chortled and guffawed through a recent piece of semi-fiction regarding the famous game Donald Byrne-Bobby Fischer, “The Game of the Century”, played at the Marshall CC in New York City in 1956, as recounted by ChessBase online.

This excerpt is Chapter 3 from the book “Endgame” by Frank Brady.  I put sections in bold that are particularly comment-worthy.

Let’s take a look at some of the writing in this chapter with my own comments in color.

“The club – which was located on Tenth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, one of Manhattan’s most attractive neighborhoods – had been quartered in this venerable brownstone (built in 1832) since 1931, when a group of wealthy patrons, including one of the Roosevelts, bought the building so that their beloved Frank J. Marshall, the reigning U.S. Champion, who would hold the title for 27 years, would always have a place to live with his family, and to play, teach, and conduct tournaments. Walking down the street with its rows of stately brownstones festooned with window boxes of flowers, and a private boarding stable on the same block, Bobby could have easily felt he was transported back to the Gas Light or Silk Stocking era of the 19th century.”

GM Kavalek has said the most dangerous thing to do for an analyst is place himself inside the head of the player.  I doubt Fischer felt anything like this, but I am certain Brady did, or does!

“Certainly, there was a sense of decorum that permeated the Club, even when it came to dress. Bobby’s habitual mufti of tee shirt, wrinkled pants, and sneakers was considered an outrage by Caroline Marshall, Frank Marshall’s widow and the longstanding manager of the Club, and on several occasions she informed him of his sartorial indiscretion, once even threatening to bar him from the premises if he didn’t dress more appropriately. Bobby ignored her.”

Mufti?  Geez.  What is this, 1830 Calcutta?   On a more humorous note, many years later Leslie Braun took on the role of fashion and manners police, physically booting young Maxim Dlugy out of the club for over-boisterous behavior.  I was booted simply because I was near young Maxim.    To give the readers a clearer sense of what was going on, Bobby had on crummy outfits.  Similar to outfits favored by future champions Fedorowicz and Rohde.    What do we expect, ascots and lace? 

A kibitzing GM here said that Black was simply lost in this position.”

Out with it, man!  Name this GM!  The only person I can think of is the late GM Larry Evans.  I don’t see the point of not naming the individual. 

““What is he doing?” said someone to no one in particular. “Is this a blunder or a sacrifice?””

Am I the only one who finds the above rather ludicrous?   Someone says to no one?   Maybe it was Jackie Beers talking to Asa Hoffmann.  And where are they located?  Near the restrooms? Near the coke machine?  Near the pay phones?  Right next to the players? 

“Bobby’s opponent that night was the urbane college professor Donald Byrne, an International Master, former U.S. Open Champion, and a fiercely aggressive player. Dark-haired, elegant in speech and dress, the 25-year-old Byrne invariably held a cigarette between two fingers, his hand high in the air, his elbow resting on the table, in a pose that gave him an aristocratic demeanor.”

Eh?  Byrne played quiet, passive openings, favoring long drawn-out English opening type positional battles.  This was no Tal.  Brady might be thinking of Robert Byrne (Donald’s brother), a much more aggressive player.   As for the cigarette, imagine a lot of smoking going on with no a/c and you can get a sense of how difficult it was to play in the summer there.    Again with the dress in this passage?   The dress would be more interesting if we were talking about Hastings 1895.

““The onlookers were invited to sit right next to you and if you asked them to leave or be quiet they were highly insulted,” Bobby recalled”

No criticism here, just a hearty laugh because there still are a bunch of the same type of people at the club!  (and also at the Manhattan Club while it existed).

“A whisper of spectators could be heard: “Impossible! Byrne is losing to a 13-year old nobody.”

What are the odds someone said this bizarre sentence?  Not very good.  And what is the plural spectators about, are we to imagine some kind of Greek chorus calling out this inane patter?   I can easily see instead some C-player babbling “Byrne’s losing to a freakin’ kid” near the Coke machine (curse words deleted).    It does sound accurate if this was Hastings 1895, for example:  “Balderdash!  Lasker is losing to an erstwhile Pillsbury Dough Boy!” 

“On the 41st move, after five hours of play, with his heart slightly pounding, Bobby lifted his rook with his trembling right hand, quietly lowered the piece to the board, and said, “Mate!” His friendly opponent stood up, and they shook hands.”

No criticism here, just another hearty laugh because many years later Tom Davidoff slowly executed a move with a trembling hand against veteran club member Alex Kevitz (I will wait for confirmation from Davidoff that this was, in fact, the Marshall CC – there is a chance it  may have been at the Manhattan CC which does not lessen the humor) and Kevitz barked out “Just move the piece, ya trembly-handed schmuck!”  Good times.

The Fabulous 10’s: Some Humoristical Think-Quick Endgames

February 27, 2011

Either You Know It or You Don’t

In an ICC 5-minute blitz game I found myself battling LeopoldStotch.  This person’s profile says he is 9 years old, from Colorado, and the current rating of the child genius at least in ICC blitz is 2506!

Let’s pick up the action at the very end, where I have 12 seconds left and the nine year old, (typical for nine year olds), has more than a minute.  Blitz is the ultimate arbiter asking “Do You Know This Position?”  A person “inventing a solution” for the first time, i.e. muddling through, won’t win in the 12 seconds!

IM Aries2 – LeopoldStotch (2506)

White to move

Well, 1. Kb6?? stalemate does not suggest itself.    1. Rf7 Ba7  2. Kc6 B-somewhere doesn’t get anywhere either!  I found the key idea, a tempo loss,

1. Rg8 (or other rook moves along the 8th rank).  Black’s reply is forced:


Do you see the win now?    Escaping me in the time remaining was the very simple 2. Rg7+ Ka8 3. Kb6 B-somewhere 4. a7! nailing the black king in and preventing the bishop return to b8.  Even if the bishop can now check the white king, the white king finds haven on a6 and there no stalemates, so white wins.

This tempo loss motif finds its way into other endings where white has to break down a compact black formation.

One such position is discussed in Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.







White to play


In a blitz or regular game sudden death finale, it really pays to know this, because otherwise one would run out of time!

The annoyance is that a player’s first tendency is to use the White King close up to mate the counterpart, but 1. Qa6? Rc7+ 2. Kb6 Rc6+! 3. Kxc6 is stalemate!  A typical blunder where the king and queen were just too close!

The win is quite elegant and not the most obvious.

1. Qe5+! Ka8 (or 1…Ka7, same thing) 2. Qa1+! (using the long-range power of the queen) 2…Kb8 3. Qa5! reaching the same position as our starting one except now it’s black to move.  It turns out black cannot keep his rook near the king, and it must move far away, where it is lost in a few moves due to the checks.  For example, 3…Rb1 (3…Rh7 4. Qe5+ Ka8 5. Qa1+! (this again!) 5…Kb8 (or 5…Ra7 6. Qh8 mate!) 6. Qb1+ is another excellent example of the queen’s range, picking up the rook) 4. Qd8+ Ka7 5. Qd4+ Ka8 6. Qh8+ Ka7 7. Qh7+ picking up the errant rook!

As Dvoretsky points out, Philidor introduced this study in 1777.  It demonstrates very well how the queen can make use of all the squares on the board. If I had seen it anytime between 1777 and 2009, I would have defeated IM Pruess in the Mesa International!  I could not figure out how to separate the K & R in a sudden death finale.

And never mind the time I could not defeat IM Danny Edelman at the Manhattan Chess Club in a Game/30 game, because I mistakenly believed in K&B&N versus lone king, the B&N *must* keep the opposing king penned to the last rank and shepherd it to the right corner.  That false idea kept me from executing the correct B&N mate, where the superior side *does* allow the lone king some breathing room while it is shepherded to the corner of the bishop’s color.  At least it was a moral victory of sorts since it was a good game before the botch (I recall I was white in a Winawer, but lost the game score.)  This game, of course, was a long time ago because the poor Manhattan Chess Club does not exist anymore.

Now I’m 0 for 3 in these things, but at least have started to collect the failures!


Try this agonizing puzzle from Dvoretsky’s excellent “Endgame Manual 2nd Edition”!

White to play and win.

A Real Head-Scratcher

The first moves are obvious: 1. b6 axb6 2. a6 Kb6Kc6  Now what?


Many readers are asking about 14-year-old GM Illya Nyzhnik (2530) from Ukraine (note: this is a Chessbase spelling, some people prefer Nyzhnyk which is cooler).  For example what does he look like?

Here he is.

The Nyzh

The Fabulous 80s: Richard Delaune!

December 25, 2010

International Master Richard Delaune (from Virginia) was a fixture in the Maryland/Virginia/DC tri-‘state’ chess scene.  He also played in numerous World Opens.  For some reason “Chess Canada” referred to him as “R.K. Deliune” and nobody ever found out why.   Richard passed away at a relatively young age (so did his Virginia chess friend, Don Barr).

Richard's in the back row on the left, seated. 1990s? Maryland?

The photo above may have been taken by the recently deceased Bill Hook but I’m not sure.

He was often the last player to finish in a round; a hard-worker, strategically minded, contesting more often than not long endings.  I remember waiting for him at some Maryland tournament to finish so we could go and having to give up after hanging out at the tournament several hours.

I played Richard in the last round Maryland State Championship 1982. I won that game (catapulting ahead of him in the standings, previously he was a 100% record with 4 out of 4) to win the event with 4.5 out of 5) and drew him sometime later in another tournament (Lawrence Pfefferkorn Open?).  Those were the only two times we were to play.  I don’t know when he became an IM, exactly.

The 1982 encounter? : 

[Event “Md. St. Ch.”]
[Site “College Park, MD”]
[Date “1982.??.??”]
[EventDate “?”]
[Round “5”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Mark Ginsburg”]
[Black “R K Delaune”]
[ECO “E41”]
[WhiteElo “2389”]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 O-O 6. Nge2 cxd4 7. exd4 d5 8. a3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Be7 10. O-O a6 11. Ba2 Nc6
12. Qd3 b5 13. Rd1 Bb7 14. Qh3!

This is a dangerous setup that I had seen mentioned somewhere.  I think Petrosian had success with it.  The move d4-d5 is always in the air.
The immediate 14. d5 exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bf6 does not look like much.
14… b4 14… Na5 seems more to the point.
15. axb4 Nxb4 16. Bb1 Rc8 17. Bf4!
A rather novel way to attack.  Bishop to e5, other forces gang up on g6.  It was motivated by black moving his N/c6 offside.

Position after 17. Bf4!

17…Qb6 18. Be5 g6 19. Qh4?!
As the game shows, 19. Nf4 right away is correct.
19…Qd8 20. Qh3 Qb6 21. Nf4! Nd7 22. Qh6 Nf6 23. Ra3!
The last reserve is brought up before the decisive action.

Time to act

24. Nxg6! fxg6 25. Bxg6 hxg6
26. Qxg6+ Kf8 27. Bxf6 Bxf6 28. Qxf6+ Ke8 29. Qh8+ Ke7 30. Qg7+ Ke8

(30… Kd6 31. d5! Nxd5 32. Ne4+ Kc6 33. Rc1+ Kb5 34. Nc3+ Nxc3 35. Rb3+ Ka5 36. Qxc3+! Rxc3 37. Ra1 mate)

31. Ne4! Qxd4 32. Qg8+ Ke7 33. Qg5+ Ke8 34. Rxd4 Rxd4 35. Qg6+ Ke7 36. Qg7+ Ke8 37. Nf6+ Kd8 38. h3 1-0

The author, New York City, 1983

The Fabulous 70s: Leslie Braun!

August 12, 2010

Leslie Braun (1936-1998)!

Leslie Braun was a big gangly guy who was the Marshall Chess Club Manager in the 1970s and 1980s.  One time he kicked out Maxim Dlugy from that venerable club on West 10th Street in Manhattan in the early 1980s for excessive loudness and I was caught up in that maelstrom and also booted.  He was a friendly enough fellow (just didn’t like people horsing around at the Marshall) and would have been a good circus clown with his expressiveness and gesturing.

Here’s a miniature from the 1977 World Open in which I tangled with this unique fellow.

For historical interest, at the time my rating was 2212 and his was 2232.

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.04”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Braun, Leslie”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B87”]
[Annotator “Ginsburg,Mark”]
[SourceDate “2007.04.24”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. f4

I had not played the Sozin before or since.  “Making things up” was very much in vogue pre-computer.

8…Qc7 8… b4 9. Na4 Nxe4 is a line.  The text is a good move.

9. O-O  Be7 10. f5 e5 11. Nde2 Bb7 12. Ng3

Black has a strong move here.

12…Nbd7 Surprisingly strong is 12… h5 !! 13. Nd5 Bxd5 14. Bxd5 h4 15. Bxa8? (15. Be3 Nc6 16. Ne2 Ng4 17. Qd2 h3 18. g3 Rb8 keeps things equal equal) 15… Qa7+ 16. Rf2 hxg3 17. hxg3 d5!! and black wins.

13. Bg5 Nb6 Again strong was 13… h5 and black is fine.

14. Nh5 Nxh5 15. Bxf7+ (!) Safe and good was 15. Qxh5 Bxg5 16. Qxg5 f6 17. Qh5+ Ke7 18. Be6 Raf8 19. Rf2 Bc8 20. a4! and white is comfortably better.  The text move should be a draw, thus it is not a good move due to the stronger alternative.  Still, it pays off illogically in the game.   The “refutation” where black can make a draw is actually a very tough variation to find and I present it as a tactical puzzle in the alternatives to move 17B.

15… Kxf7 16. Qxh5+ Kg8 17. f6

Decision Time

17…gxf6?? Losing.  A case of sacrificial shock? 17… Bxf6 and now the further sacrifice 18. Rxf6 is defused by 18… gxf6 (18…b4?? 19. Bh6!! wins) 19. Bxf6 Qf7! 20. Qg4+ Qg6 21. Qe6+ Qf7 22. Qg4+ Qg6 {Perpetual check draw.}

As a tactical quiz for the readers, obviously Braun was scared of 17…Bxf6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Rxf6. Qg7 20. Rf3! idea Rg3 winning.  What was the flaw in his thinking?

18. Rf3 ! Now white wins via direct attack as the rook threatens to switch to g3.  A brutal finale.

18…h6 Everything lost, i.e. 18… d5 19. Bh6 Bc5+ 20. Kh1 Qg7 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Rg3+.

19. Qg6+ Kf8 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Rxf6+ Ke7 22. Qg7+ {Black Resigns.} 1-0

Leslie died intestate in January 1998 (see Ron Young comment).   1998 was also my last year living in New York City; I was about to try out the Bay Area in August.   I had been in NYC most of the time since 1981.  End of an era!

Being intestate or being an outright pauper has been an occupational hazard of chess players for centuries (both World Wars have seen some famous players dying of starvation, and young Korchnoi had to pick through the ruins of post-siege Leningrad).  Braun’s body lay unclaimed for a while and kudos to IM Walter Shipman for taking care of the matter.

The Fabulous 10s: Chess and Online Media

July 26, 2010


Over at (aka ICC), I have been doing some Game of the Days for Chess.FM online broadcasts. I remember way back when Tony Rook started Chess.FM.  At some point, I suggested Skype be used.  Tony Rook was bought out, new leadership took control of ICC, and … Skype was introduced as a broadcast platform. 🙂  I did Game of the Day for Rounds 9 and 10 of Dortmund 2010 Sparkassen (Naiditsch-Kramnik and Leko-Naiditsch).  I learned from a viewer that Naiditsch is pronounced NIGH-ditch not NAY-ditch.


Over at, I composed some video lectures on “When to Use (and When Not To Use) Computer Engines.

Some reasons so far to use the engines:

1) you play a game or observe a game where the opponent plays an inferior opening and you forget what to do (or, if you are observing, the inferior side “gets away with it” illogically) – check later with a computer!

In Lecture 1, I went over 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Qb6? 6. e5! Bc5 7. Ndb5! as an example to see the comprehensive, computer-backed, refutation.

2) you see a high level game giving an inferior opening some rough treatment and you want to meld that into a complete way of dealing with it – check with the computer!  In lecture 2, I went over the Blumenfeld Declined (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5 5. Bg5!) as an example.  Why am I the only person who heard of the Dutch Blumenfeld theme tournament?

Chukcha Jokes

Chukcha (Russian Eskimo) is going to Moscow and his friends ask him to bring back some butter.

They tell him to find it on sale, simply find the longest line.

He found the Lenin’s Tomb line instead.

When asked why he did not bring back any butter, he said “I found the longest line, but when I got closer, I found out the salesman was dead.”

How did Jinky Fischer Come About

Answering an email like this:
My name is miss JOY YAK i am single and 5.5ft.How are you,
i hope your are find and in sound health.I went through your profile today and i took interest on it. I am interested in your profile,Kindly contact me. (
I will tell you more about myself and picture

And for Some Dutch Scenery

Mark Ginsburg and Christine Syben in Delft, Holland December 1989 - photo E. Tall

The Fabulous 10’s: Just a Draw?

May 25, 2010

US Championship 2010 Finals: Gruenfeld Perlexity

Shulman and Kamsky battled to a draw in a topical Gruenfeld Defense, and after game Kamsky said “The whole variation is basically a draw.”  Is it?  Well, it now appears that it is!

Shulman-Kamsky US Championship 2010 Finals

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Rb1 O-O 9. Be2 Nc6 10. d5?!

Not a good gambit

10…Bxc3+ Kamsky is right that this variation offers white nothing (at best a draw).  But can black try to win?  Yes, let’s see how!

11. Bd2 Bxd2+ 12. Qxd2 Na5 13. h4 This wild thrust is “logical” but at the same time unimpressive.

13…Bg4 14. Ng5 Bxe2 15. Kxe2

Black indeed has a winning attempt!

Here is where Kamsky can avoid a forced draw.  However, it appears too dangerous (see the comments).

15…e6 (?)  Probably too risky.  Let’s see one prior game in which black could have justified his play: 16. h5 Nc4 17. Qc1 exd5 18. Nxh7 (what else?) Re8! 19. hxg6 Rxe4+ (white is busted) 20. Kf1 Rh4! 21. Rxh4 Qxh4 22. Kg1 Ne5 23. gxf7+ Kxh7 24. Qc5 Kg7 25. Rb3 and here black turned a win into a loss with 25…Qc4??? 26. f8=Q!+ Rxf8 27. Qe7+ and black resigned, E. Bacrot – P. Popovic, Chalkidki 2002.  Black could have won with 25…Qe4! and after 26. Rg3+ Kxf7 27. Qc7+ Ke6! there are no more checks and black wins with no problems.   Postscript:  this try appears to be too risky – see the comments – due to 18. hxg6 fxg6 19. Rxh7! and white won some high-level games with this continuation.

15…h6(?) With the text move, it is indeed dead equal.

16. Nf3 Kh7 17. e5 Nc4 18. Qd3 Nb6 19. h5 Qxd5 20. hxg6+ fxg6 21. Ng5+ Kg7 22. Qxd5 Nxd5 23. Ne6+ Kf7 24. Nxf8 Nc3+ The reciprocal knight forks leave the position dead.

25. Ke3 Nxb1 26. Rxb1 Rxf8 27. Rxb7 Ke6 28. Rxa7 g5 29. Rc7 Ra8 30. Rxc5 Rxa2
{Game drawn}


An interesting winning try for black!

The Fabulous 10s: Weirdness in St Louis (US Championship Round 2)

May 15, 2010

Round 2 Jitters

The official St Louis chess club web page says (in a caption of a photo of Kraai wearing an old-timey hat),

“GM Jesse Kraai played the higher-rated GM Varuzhan Akobian to a draw in round two.”  As a good citizen, I wrote it so they could correct it.

Weirdly, Kraai missed a good chance to resist at the very end!

Check it out:

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Akobian, Varuzhan”]
[Black “Kraai, Jesse”]
[Result “1-0”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 Why on earth would Kraai play a Benoni, an opening antithetical to his style?  Just a rhetorical question.  Look at the problems Akobian had with solid Slav’s in the World Team! However, it worked out well for black up to a point given white’s bizarre moves… let’s see it….

4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Nd2 a6 11. a4 Nbd7 12. Nc4 Ne5 13. Na3 Bd7 14. Bf4 Nh5 15. Bxe5?! Chess is not so easy.  This should offer nothing.

15…Bxe5 16. Nc4 b5 16…Nf6 is fine for black.  Nothing wrong with the text move.

17. Nxe5 Rxe5 18. e4 Re8 19. Re1 Nf6 I think most routine Benoni players would immediately go for 19…b4! 20. Nb1 f5! 21. Nd2 Nf6! which is completely fine for black.   We should ask Vugar Gashimov what he’d do.

20. Qd2 Qb6?! 20…Ng4! is strong.  After 21. f4 Qb6! black is in no way worse.  However, both players keep playing second-rate moves and a strange roller-coaster ensues.

21. a5 Qd8 22. f4 b4 23. Nd1 Qb8 24. Nf2 Ra7 25. h3? Too slow.  25. Re3!

25…Bc8 26. Re3 26. Nd3!

26…Rae7 27. Rae1 Bb7 27…Nd7!

28. b3 Qd8 29. Kh2 29. e5! and take back on e5 with a rook is quite good for white.

29…Qa8 30. Qb2? 30. e5! is crushing.  It’s very unusual for Akobian to make so many second-rate moves in one game.

30….Nxd5! 31. Ng4 Nxe3???

31…Nc3! and quite amazingly white is held to a small plus after 32. Nf6+ Kf8 33. Nxe8 Qxe8.  For example, 34. Qd2 Qd8 35. e5 Bxg2 36. exd6 Rxe3 37. Qxe3 Qxd6! (37….Bc6?? 38. Qxc5!) and white will have to work hard.

To account for this blunder, Black said he was bothered by his premature draw in round 1.  It’s a long tournament!

32. Nh6+ 1-0

Deathly Hex Hat - must burn it

The hat looks like a Greg Shahade Porkpie special. It’s gotta go. 🙂   I suggest the Lucky Pen (Fedorowicz won the NY Open once with a Lucky Pen!) instead.  It will get Kraai on a lengthy winning streak.

One More Game from Round 2

Further chaos on a higher board…

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.1”]

[White “Nakamura, Hikaru”]
[Black “Hess, Robert L”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A17”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. Qxc3 O-O 7. b4 d6 8. Bb2
b6 9. g3 Bb7 10. Bg2 Nbd7 11. O-O Rc8 12. d3 Rc7?!
Gearing up to a faulty idea.

Example better line: 12… h6 13. e4 Qe7 14. Rfe1 Rfe8 15. b5 Ra8 16. a4 a5! and it’s OK for black.

13. e4 Qa8 14. Qd2 Rfc8 15. Nh4 b5? This doesn’t work at all.   American juniors almost always have a very tough thing doing nothing in particular.   And, among modern GMs, active Walter Browne lost a lot of games lashing out like this.

16. cxb5 c4 17. dxc4 Bxe4 18. f3 Bb7 19. Rfc1(?!) Easily winning was 19. Qxd6 Rxc4 20. Rf2 Bd5 21. Rd1 and white dominates.
19… Rxc4 20. Rxc4 Rxc4 21. Bf1 Rc8 22. Qxd6 h6
22… Bxf3 looks like a better try.  Now white is totally winning again, but the game is not free of further adventures – see the weird reciprocal blunder on move 33.

23. Rc1 Rxc1 24. Bxc1 g5 25. Ng2 Bxf3 26. Be3 Nb6 27. Bd4 Qd5 28. Qxd5 Nfxd5 29. Ne1 Bd1 30. Nd3 f6 31. Nb2 Bb3 32. Bg2 Kf7 33. Kf2? A serious lapse that is answered by a blunder in return.  Crushing was 33. Bxd5! with the study-like point:  33… exd5 34. a4! Nxa4 35. Bxa7! and wins, very nice!

33… e5?? A really bad blunder.  33… Nc8!  and black can hope for a draw.  For example, 34. a4 Nxb4 35. Bb7 Nd6 36. Bf3 Nc8 37. Bh5+ Kg7 38. a5 Nd5 39. Be8 Nc7 40. Bd7 Nd6 41. Bxa7 Ndxb5 42. Bb8 Bd5 and white has a tiny edge.

34. Bxd5+ Bxd5 35. Bxb6 axb6 36. Na4 f5 37. Nxb6 Ke6 38. a4 If you are curious, yes, 38. Nxd5 wins too.

38…f4 39. a5 Bh1 40. Kg1 Bf3 41. a6 e4 42. Nc4 e3 43. b6 1-0

Let’s See One More

Moving back to a lower board, more jitters!

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.8”]

[White “Bhat, Vinay S”]
[Black “Kudrin, Sergey”]

[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D89”]

This game featured some incredible and very difficult to find missed opportunities for white behind the scenes.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8.
Ne2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Be3 Bg4 11. f3 Na5 12. Bd3 cxd4 13. cxd4 Be6 14. d5 Bxa1
15. Qxa1 f6 16. Bh6 Re8 17. Qd4 Bd7 18. e5
Not a very impressive line, white is soon put in the position of having to find only moves to equalize.

Qb6 19. Qxb6 axb6 20. e6 Ba4 21. Nc3
b5 22. Nxb5?
The first miss.  The brilliant 22. d6!! exd6 23. Re1!  establishes enough domination to hold the balance.  For example, 22…Nc6 (23… Nc4 24. Nd5 f5 25. f4 Kh8 26. Nf6 Nb2 27. Bf1 Rec8 28. a3 b4 29. axb4 Nc4 30. Bd3 Bb5 31. e7 d5 32. Nxd5 Be8) 24. Nd5 f5 25. Bf4 Ne5 26. Bxe5 dxe5 27. Rxe5 Kg7 28. Nc7 and draws.  The maximum coordination established by 22. d6!! is truly remarkable.

22… Red8 23. Nc3 Bc6 24. Be4 Be8 25. Rb1 Rac8 26. Bd2 Nc4 27. Be1 f5? A serious blunder!

27…Nd6 leaves black better.   I can only guess black didn’t see white’s possible reaction.

A Missed Miracle

28. Bd3? Oh no!  White misses a truly incredible shot.   But it takes deep calculation and a keen sense of adventure to take the plunge on it…. do you see it?

It’s 28. Rxb7!! fxe4 29. fxe4 and feast your eyes on this domination!   White is a full rook down… well he has some pawns…. but here’s the kicker – he’s not worse!

First of all, the lame 29…Kf8? loses to  the nice “carom billiards shot” 30. Bh4.
Secondly, 29… g5 30. Rxe7 Bg6 31. Bf2 Re8 32. Rd7 Ne5 33. Bd4 Rxc3 34. Bxe5 is fine for white too. In no line is white worse.  But it was hard to see! The connected pawns set up a mighty force giving plenty of compensation for the oodles of lost material.  It’s really unusual to see how helpless black’s forces are.

28… Ne3! And white loses prosaically.  Too bad!

29. Rxb7 Nxd5 30. Nxd5 Rxd5 31. Be2 Re5 32. Kf1 Rxe6 33. Rb4 Bf7 34. a4 Rc2 35. Bd3 Rc1 36. Be2 Re5 37. Rd4 Be6 38. Kf2 Rc2 39. Rd2 Rxd2 40. Bxd2 Rd5 41. Be3 Kf8 42. Bb6 Rd2 43. Ke1 Rc2 44. f4 Bc4 45. Bf3 e6 46. g3 Rxh2 47. Bf2 Bd5 48. Bd1 Ke7 49. a5 Bb7 50. Kf1 Bg2+ 51. Ke2 Rh1 52. Kd2 Bb7 53. Bb6 h6 54. Be2 Ra1 55. Ke3 Ra3+ 56. Kd4 Rxg3 57. a6 Bxa6 58. Bxa6 h5 59. Ke5 h4 60. Bf2 Rh3 61. Bc4 Rh2 62. Bg1 Rg2 63. Bc5+ Kf7 64. Bxe6+ Kg7 65. Be7 Re2+ 66. Kd6 Rxe6+ 0-1

OK One More

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.7”]
[White “Shabalov, Alexander”]
[Black “Finegold, Benjamin”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D10”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. b3 Bf5 6. Nf3 e6 7. Be2 Bb4 8. Bd2 Ba3
9. Nh4 Be4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Nf3 Nd7 12. O-O O-O 13. Be1 a5 14. Qc2 Qe7 15. Nd2
f5 16. Nb1 Bd6 17. f3 Nef6 18. Nc3 Kh8 19. Bf2 Rac8 20. Rad1 Qf7 21. Bd3 Qh5
22. Bg3 Bxg3 23. hxg3 Qg5 24. Qf2 Nh5(?!)

Very strong is the powerful and aesthetic central shot 24… Ne4!!.  White can only grovel to equalize after that move.  25. Nxe4 (I cannot resist showing a mating line after 25. Bxe4 fxe4 26. f4? Qf5 27. Ne2 Nf6 28. Qe1 Ng4 29. Qd2 Qh5 30. Rfe1 Qh2+ 31. Kf1 c5 32. Rc1 cxd4 33. exd4 e3 34. Qc3 g5! 35. Rc2 gxf4 36. gxf4 dxc4 37. bxc4 e5!! 38. dxe5 Qh1+ and already the computer sees a long forced mate, here it is for enjoyment:  39. Ng1 Rxf4+ 40. Ke2 Rd8 41. e6+ Kg8 42. Qd3 Qxg2+ 43. Kd1 Rxd3+ 44. Kc1 Qd2+ 45. Rxd2 exd2+ 46. Kd1 Nf2+ 47. Kc2 Rxc4+ 48. Kb2 Rb4+ 49. Kc2 dxe1=N+ 50. Kc1 Rd1mate!)   Returning to the better 25. Nxe4, 25… dxe4 26. Be2 Nf6 27. f4 Qg6 28. c5 equal.

The game move is actually not bad and white immediately blunders.

25. g4? What’s this? Shabba goes a little bonkers, losing a pawn for nothing.  25. Ne2 was necessary.

25…fxg4 26. f4 Qf6?
Any computer will tell you the “carom shot” 26… Qe7 27. g3 Qb4! is very strong with a distinct edge to black.

27. g3 c5? 28. cxd5 cxd4 29. Ne4! And black has self-destructed.  Too bad!
dxe3 30. Qxe3 Qh6 31. Nd6 exd5 32. Nxc8 Rxc8 33. Bf5 Qd6 34. Qe6 Qc5+ 35. Kh2
Nhf6 36. Rc1 Qf8 37. Rxc8 Qxc8 38. Qe7 h5 39. Re1 h4 40. Bxd7 hxg3+ 41. Kxg3
Qc3+ 42. Re3 Qc2 43. Bxg4 Qb1 44. Re1 Qd3+ 45. Qe3 Ne4+ 46. Kg2 1-0

The Fabulous 10s: Accidental Brilliancies born of blitz

April 9, 2010

9. Nd2 King’s Indian Confuzzlement

Sometimes blitz games create confusion and in the cauldron of confusion bubble forth novelties and “brilliancies.”  Here is a case in point.

IM Aries2 – GM Fier  ICC 5 minute blitz

According to Fier’s finger notes, he is 22 years old, from Brazil, and has a 2581 FIDE rating.  What does one do against a high rating?  Just play directly!

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Nd2! Somehow the most logical looking move.  I recently made notes to Beliavsky-Nakamura, indicating where white could have played more strongly (Al reached a great game as white then went wrong in the complications).

9…Nd7 Kasparov’s “old” 9…a5 might be better.

10. b4 f5 11…a5 would transpose to a game I won vs GM Peter Biyiasis in Philadelphia 1982 after 12. bxa5 Rxa5 13. a4.  White stands better there.

11. c5 Nf6 11…dxc5 12. bxc5 Nxc5 13. Ba3 offers white great play for the pawn.

12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4

The course of the game suggests white might be able to do better dispensing with this move and playing 14. Ba3 straightaway.

14…h5 15. Ba3 Ne8 16. Nb5! a6

Pull the trigger!

17. Nxc7! The accidental blitz brilliancy!  This doesn’t regain the piece back right away, but it does set black difficult problems.

Qxc7 18. b5 In blitz, this is almost impossible to solve as black!

18…dxc5 The problem is that a normal defensive move, 18…Rf6, (trying to get white’s dark square bishop off the board), is met by 19. cxd6 Nxd6 20. Nxd6 Rxd6 21. Rc1 Qb8 22. b6! establishing a crushing bind!  A very aesthetic line – white disdains material and keeps his queen bishop.  Feast your eyes on some more moves here: 22…Bf8 23. Qb3 Ng6 24. Rc7! Rd7 25. d6+ Kg7 26. Rfc1! and wins!

19. d6 Nxd6 20. Qxd6 Qxd6 21. Nxd6 b6 22. a5?! Too fancy.  White had “chess memory” of Ginsburg-Christiansen, US Championship 2006, (see position after move 37W) where pawns opposed each other like this with great force for white (also, curiously, Ginsburg-Kriventsov, US Ch. 2006 – after move 23W).  The correct line was the simple mundane 22. Nxc6 Rfxc8 23. bxa6 and white is completely winning.

22…axb5 23. axb6 b4 24. Bc4+ Kh7 25. Bb2 Rb8 26. b7?? Another huge lemon and this one more serious.  The obvious 26. Ra7! won.  The reason being 26…Rxb6 27. Rxe7 Rxd6 28. Bxe5! and wins.

26…Bxb7 27. Ra7 Rfd8? 27…Nc8! would have turned the tables and black would get good winning chances!

28. Rxb7 Rxb7 29. Nxb7 Rd2 30. Rb1 g4 31. Be6 Interesting technical note: the computer points out here 31. fxg4! hxg4 32. Bf1! not giving black ideas against the f3-pawn that happened in the game.

31…gxf3 32. gxf3 c4? Panicky.  32…Ng6 was tougher.

33. Bxc4 Ng6 34. Kf1? 34. Bf7! ended it because 34…Nh4 35. Bxh5 protects f3!  At this point, white didn’t have much time left.

Nh4 35. Be2 Bf8 36. Na5? 36. Bxe5 won but white was just trying not to lose on time.

Ng6 37. Nc4 Rc2 38. Bxe5 Rxc4 39. Bxc4 Nxe5 40. Be2 Bc5 41. Rc1 Bd4 42. Rc7+ Kg6 43. Rb7 Bc3 44. h4 Kf6 45. Bd1 Ng6 46. Rb5 Nxh4 47. Rxh5 Ng6 48. Rb5 White should play 48. Rf5+ then run the king up.

48…Ne5 49. Ke2 Kg5 50. Bb3 Kh4 51. Rb8 Kg3 52. Rg8+ Kh3 53. Be6+ Kh2 54. Rf8 Kg3 55. Rg8+ Kh2 56. Rf8 Kg3 57. Rg8+ {Game drawn by mutual agreement}

A good blitz fight, don’t you think.  And some possible theoretical importance in the Nd2 King’s Indian!

From The Archives of Chess Today

Try this study!  (Golubev,  1984).

White to play and win.

The Fabulous 50s: Fischer takes on Petrosian in Blitz, 1958

March 18, 2010

Young Bobby

At the Moscow Central Chess Club, 1958, the following photograph was taken.

15-year-old Bobby Fischer was taking on future-WC Tigran Petrosian in blitz.   Click on the photo to enlarge. The interesting question is, who are the onlookers?


I posed this question on the social networking website “Facebook”.  It’s amazing what we found out.

The easiest identification is third from the left, standing.  That’s many-times Candidate GM Yefim Geller.

That leaves us with the puzzle of the others….first of all, GM Fedorowicz informed that the young fellow standing on the left is American Larry Evans!  (probably not a GM yet).

Then, Tom Bartell informed me that the person seated next to the board is Anatoly Volovich!  I played Volovich fully 30 years later at Hunter College, NYC, in 1988, in the fantastically named “Gnomes of Zurich” Swiss-system tournament (result=draw).  How did Tom know that?  Anatoly told Tom :).   The 1988-vintage Anatoly had a beard; it would have a stretch for me to have named him.

So now we are “hunting” for more names to put on the faces!

Postscript April 5, 2010

This just in from Dan Scoones:

Here is another photo taken during the same blitz session.  From this angle it’s pretty obvious that the guy in the upper left is Yakov Estrin.  And it’s also a good bet that the guy sitting to Petrosian’s right is Evgeny Vasyukov, who is also known to have played Fischer on this occasion.  The downside is that there are a lot more guys in the background who we will probably never identify!
Dan Scoones

Estrin! Vasiukov!

The Fabulous 00s: 2009 USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week

November 1, 2009

USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

USCL Week 9 action sees a Caissic Horror Show brought out of the storage closet for Halloween!

Charbonneau, Pascal (NY) -Enkbhat, Tegshsuren (BAL)

Fugly Caro  Advance

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. g4? LOL!  This move is not good! White ‘forgets’ to play the mainline 4. Nc3 first covering e4.  An ideal risky line in USCL fast time limit play unless black knows it (nightmare scenario).



4…Bd7?! LOL again!  Black submits to white’s bully-boy ploy and transposes inadvisedly into an old Bronstein-Petrosian 1959 USSR Ch. game.  Note his game is not at all bad here, but students of the Nezhmet-Mackenzie Wars (striking similarities to TV’s Clone Wars) know that black should pop into the juicy square with 4… Be4! 5. f3 Bg6 and white is hurting in all variations.  For example, 6. h4 h5 7.  Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 e6 and ewww.  Or, 7. Ne2 hxg4 8. Nf4 Bh7 9. fxg4 e6 10. Nc3 c5! and black is faster.   The nice thing is that black doesn’t have to do anything special, white’s problems are all self-inflicted with the 4. g4? lunge. Consult the above link for full gory details.

5. c4 Na6!?  A nice inventive move.  Black starts to redeem himself after the misstep last move. After the plausible but passive 5… e6 6. Nc3 Ne7 7. c5 (White might be better off not doing this) 7…b6! 8. b4 a5 9. Na4 Nc8! 10. Rb1 axb4 11. Rxb4 bxc5 12. dxc5 here Petrosian played 12…Qc7? and missed a great shot, namely: 12… Na6! 13. Bxa6 Qa5!! exploiting white’s uncoordinated army. After 14. Bd2 Qxa6 black is just better.  In the game Petrosian held on and drew, but Bronstein stood better with the space advantage (USSR Ch. Tbilisi 1959).

6. cxd5 After 6. Nc3 the move 6…Be6!? is very interesting.  For example, 7. Nh3 dxc4 8. Nf4 Qd7 9. Nxe6 Qxe6 10. f4 g6 11. b3 h5 12. f5 gxf5 13. Bxc4 Qg6 14. gxf5 Qg2 15. Rf1 Nb4 and it’s anybody’s game. Not for the faint of heart.  Even so, 6. Nc3 might be stronger; note black’s big improvement on move 6 in the game.


Knight Jump! Do it!

6… cxd5?! Boo!  Black doesn’t follow through on his nice last move!  Indicated was the logical and aesthetic knight jump 6…Nb4! exploiting the early g2-g4 opening of the c6-h1 diagonal. If  7. e6 (7. Qb3 Nxd5 8. Qxb7 Rb8 9. Qxa7 Nb4 10. Na3 Bxg4 11. Bd2 e6 and black is all right) 7…fxe6 8. Nf3 cxd5 and black is fine.  Another humorous line: 7. Nc3 Qb6!? (7…Nxd5 is dead equal) and black can always take on d5 with the knight later. This game was just one big set of black missed opportunities.

7. Nc3 e6 8. h4 h5 9. gxh5 Nh6 Here, the immediate 9…Qc7 10. a3!? Nc7!? makes sense, rerouting right away the problem knight on a6.

10. Bd3 Qb6 11. Nge2 Nc7 12. a3 a5? Last chance to be competitive with 12…O-O-O! unclear.

13. Na4 Qa7 14. Rg1 Bb5 15. Bc2 We’re far afield of the opening now, but just notice that the simple 15. Bxb5+ Nxb5 16. Bxh6 Rxh6 17. Rc1 leaves black with a completely dreadful game.  This is just to highlight that black drifted while white was purposefully developing.

15…Nf5 16. Bxf5 exf5 17. Ng3 Bd7 18. Be3 b5 19. Nc5 Bxc5 20. dxc5 Qa6 21. Rc1 O-O-O 22. c6 Be6 23. Qd4 g6 24. Bg5 Rde8 25.
h6 Kb8 26. Ne2 Qa7 27. Qd2 Bc8 28. Bf6 Rh7 29. Nd4 Qb6 30. Rg3 Rxh6 31. Nxb5 Rxh4 32. Bxh4 Qxb5 33. Bf6 Ba6 34. Kd1 f4 35. Rgc3 d4 36. Rf3 Nd5 37. Kc2 Qxc6+ 38. Kb1 Qb6 39. e6 Nc3+ 40. Ka1 Qxe6 41. Qxf4+ Ka8 42. bxc3 Qb3 43. cxd4 Bd3
44. Rxd3 Qxd3 45. Qg3 1-0

Well, I hope next time we see the juicy 4…Be4! on the board!

Postscript 11/4/10: I can hardly believe I’m writing this, but Teshburen played 4…Bd7? again, missing 4…Be4! again!  vs Esserman, USCL 2010.

In Other Week 9 News

I see Jan van de Mortel won Game of the Week with an interesting Dragon vs Bartholomew.  The variation as a whole does not have a good reputation.  I am still a fan of 14. Rc1! and am a) surprised Bartholomew did not play it and b) wondering how Jan would improve if Bartholomew had played it.  The full move order being

1.e4  c5  2.Nf3  d6  3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nf6  5.Nc3  g6  6.Be3  Bg7  7.f3  0-0  8.Qd2  Nc6  9.0-0-0   Nxd4  10.Bxd4  Be6  11.Kb1  Qc7  12.Nd5  Bxd5  13.exd5  Rfc8  14.Rc1!.

This inquiry, coupled with the Caro weirdness we looked at in this article and also in the “refutation post” referenced above, propels my “findings” onto center stage for future USCL duels.   Or, does it?  :O   🙂

Concluding Remarks

Thank you Internet, for enabling the USCL and other chess online . The next image shows what the world would be like without the Internet.


What if the World Had No Internet?

Amusing Postscript 11/10/09

Dana Mackenzie is at it again trying to resuscitate this ugly duckling (ostensibly excited by Charbonneau’s chaotic win) but … sorry.

I added a postscript to my original refutation to deal with this new attempts.