Archive for the ‘Chess Clubs’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: Scorpions Continue Winning Ways

October 29, 2009

Week 9 USCL Action: Arizona 3 Seattle 1

Going into the match, I was not hopeful at all about our chances.   HA81 said we would lose by the distance between two raindrops.  We were not sure what a “raindrop” is, but weather-wise we had woes: Tucson had encountered a cold snap and temperatures had dropped from the 80s to the 60s.  Our team was besides itself looking in closets for emergency general-use hoodies.  And, one of our team assistants came into the room having previously suffered from a combination of Swine Flu, Mono, and Regular Flu.  It was a potent and potentially lethal combination of virii.  Did you enjoy that plural of the word ‘virus’?  I know I did.  Virii!  In college, I took Virology (a Graduate-level course) from Dr. Jane Flint at Princeton.  I was a junior and full of hubris.  Having failed the first midterm with a 47 out of 200, (I was told this was more like a “K” or an “L” than an “F”),  I learned fortuitously I still had a day left to “Drop Class” option.  And Drop Class I did.  I’m going to have to blame the Student Union here.  They served beer to anyone (NJ was an “18” drinking age state at that time). But I remember that word, virii!  In summary, if elected, I pledge to bring back “18” drinking age states!

Here is a photo of our fourth board, Amanda Mateer, going over some opening possibilities with our first board, Alejandro Ramirez at the playing site (Agricultural Resource Economics Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ).  You know what they say about prep, the substantial majority of the time is spent on stuff that did not occur.


Prep Time

Soon it was time to start and the games got into full swing.  I went to our commentary room down the hall and monitored the progress from there.

The first board, Nakamura-Ramirez, turned into a very interesting strategical affair in an Alekhine’s.

Board 1. GM Nakamura – GM Ramirez  Alekhine’s Defense

1.e4 Insta-moved (after Naka was 20 minutes late to the board)

1…Nf6 Insta-moved.

2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 4. Nf3 is a whole different story.

3…Nb6 5.exd6! 5. f4 had its heyday in the 1970s and never came back. Ljubo defended some wild games on the black side.

5…exd6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.Ne2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nbc3 Re8 10.Be3 Nb4 11.b3 Nxd3 12.Qxd3 Bf6 13.Rad1


Tough Road Ahead

A nice setup for white. Although black nominally has won the bishop pair, he must still work hard to equalize from this start position.


Interesting.  Yermo was kibitzing and liked 13…Bg4 but it appears 14. Rde1! with the idea of Ne2-f4, defusing black’s plan of Bg4-h5-g6, leaves white with a plus.

14.a4 A good idea for white here would be 14. Ng3! controlling f5 and preventing black’s equalizing plan.

14…d5 15.c5 Bf5 16.Qd2 Nc8 17.Bh6 Ne7 18.h3 Be6 19.g4 Bh8 This bishop has to get out of the way to prepare …f7-f5 later, which will be a necessary space-gaining defensive mechanism.

20.Qf4 Nc6 21.Qg3 Qd7 22.Bf4 Rac8 23.Rd2 a6 24.Rb1 b6 25.b4 bxc5 26.bxc5 Na5

Typical of the Alekhine’s, the horse finds a nice spot on c4.  Black is fine.

27.Kh2 f5 28.g5 Bf7(?!)

28…Nc4!? 29. Rdd1 c6 is a very solid way to play.

29.Rdd1 Qc6

The queen looks a little strange here.

30.Ng1! Nc4 31.Nf3 Bg7 32.Re1 Suddenly black has problems!  White can choose when to occupy e5 especially with a bishop.  If black is not careful, the wrong pieces will come off the board and white will have a crushing grip on the dark squares.


Problems Surface!

32…Re4!? A radical Petrosian-style attempt to upset things, and it surprisingly works!  It’s often the case that “disorienting” moves work well.  However, in this particular position, white could have found his way clear to a plus.

33.Nxe4 dxe4 34.Ne5 Bxe5


Key Moment

35.Bxe5? After 35. dxe5 white is better.  For example,  35…Qxc5 36. Rec1! (an important move) 36… Qe7 37. Qb3! Nxe5 38. Qb7!.   Also, enjoy the geometric 36…Rd8 37. Qe3!! – imagine that occurring in a USCL game, the spectators would go nuts! This sort of tactical play is normally Nakamura’s forte.  He may have overlooked black’s response in the game.


A nice fully equalizing shot! Most ICC kibitzers were simply calling for black’s demise here, focusing on the ratings of the players, not the board.  I reminded them to look at the board and general confusion started to take over.  Then the kibitzers switched to the “black is mated on the dark squares” theory but that just isn’t happening here.

36.Qc3 Nf3+ 37.Kg3 Nxe1 38.Qxe1 Qxa4 39.Qc3 39. Rb7 is equal.  The text actually gives black something to work with.

39…Bd5 40.c6 Qxc6 41.Qxc6 Bxc6 42.Rc1 Bd5 43.Ra1


Quiz Time

43…Bc4 44.Rc1 Bd5 45.Ra1    1/2-1/2

A draw was a good result for us, but actually now, in the calm of the next day, the position is good for black.  As a test for yourself, can you identify a 43rd move for black that keeps very good winning chances?   Nobody noticed it while the game was in progress; it’s a hard quiz.

Stay tuned: I will post the other games in this spot.

Board 2.  Altounian-Mihaliuk

Good prep by Levon.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qh4 Nxc3 7.dxc3 Nc6 8.Bf4 f6 9.Bh6 This two-step with the bishop is all Greek to me, but apparently it was Levon’s comfort zone as he was playing rapidly.

9…e5 10.Bxf8 Kxf8 11.Qh6+ Kf7 12.e4 Be6 13.Bb5 g5?

Black should play 13…Qe7.

14.h4 g4 15.Nh2 Qe8 16.Be2 To show how positions can be approached differently, I would play here castles short, and (with perhaps Qe3 thrown in), then play f2-f4 with numerous very nasty threats to pry open black’s king like a sardine can.  Levon plays a completely different plan.

16…Qg8 17.0-0-0 Qg6 18.Nxg4 Qxh6+ 19.Nxh6+ Kg6 20.Ng4 And so white is just a pawn up with a big time edge.  Levon converts easily.

20…Rad8 21.b3 a5 22.Ne3 Ne7 23.g3 a4 24.Kb2 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Ra8 26.Bc4 Bxc4 27.Nxc4 b5 28.Ne3 axb3 29.axb3 Re8 30.Rd7 c6 31.g4 h5 32.f3 Black resigns 1-0

Board 3   Milat – Adamson Benko Gambit

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.g3 d6 8.Bg2 Bg7 9.Nf3 Nbd7 10.Rb1 Nb6 11.b3 Bc8 12.Nh4 h6 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Bb2 g5 I guess this is all topical theory, but black’s position is very precarious.

15.Nf3 Bb7 16.Rd1 0-0 17.0-0 Ra7 18.e4 Rc8 19.Rfe1 Ng4 20.h4 Ne5 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.Qe2 g4 It looks like black has to do this, but it’s very sharp and black had little time left.

24.Qe3 Kh7 25.f4 gxf3 26.Qxf3 Rg8 27.Qh5+ Kg7 28.Bh3 Qe8 But now white spends most of his time and accepts a draw offer!   Kg7 to f8 is not THAT scary.

Given the match situation, white must play on.  Boo. Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

Board 4.  Mateer-Sinanan  Nimzo-Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 d5 6.e5 Ne4 7.Bd3 c5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Nge2 Nc6 I don’t know theory, but black does not seem to be doing well here.  In addition, he was spending a lot of time.

10.0-0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 cxd4 12.Ba3 Interesting.  I expected 12. cxd Nb4 13. Qb1 Nxd3 14. Qxd3 with a definite plus.

12…Re8 13.cxd4 Qa5 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Bd6 Bg4 16.Ng3 Qd5 17.h3 Nxd4 18.Qb2 Bf3! A clever way to confuse.

19.gxf3 Nxf3+ 20.Kg2? It worked!  20. Kh1! is correct. Then black can play 20…Qe6 to set up the game drawing mechanism.

20…Nh4+? 20…e3! 21. fxe3 Nxe5+ and the bishop on d6 falls.

21.Kh1 Qe6 22.Kh2 Nf3+ 23.Kg2 White offered a draw and indeed this is just a draw.  Black should take it because first of all he’s a piece down; secondly every half point matters in USCL play and his game move was patently hopeless.  The real problem in this match was Milat not fighting on in the board 3 struggle enjoying a substantial time advantage and a plus pawn.

23…Ng5 24.Rh1 Qg6 25.Qe2 f5 26.Qh5 f4 27.Qxg6 hxg6 28.Nf1? Note here 28. h4! just ends the game in white’s favor.

28…Nf3 29.h4 Rac8 30.Rb1 b6 31.e6! Rxe6 32.Bxf4 Once again white is just winning.

32…Rc2 33.a3 Ra2 34.Rb3 Rc6 35.Ng3 Nd4 36.Rb4 Ne6 37.Be3 Rxa3 38.Nxe4 Rc2 39.Kf3 Rd3 40.Ra1 Rd7 41.Rba4 Rcc7 42.Ng5 Nd8 43.Bf4 Rb7 44.Re1 Re7 45.Rae4 Nc6 46.Bd6! A nice way to finish up.

46…Nd4+ 47.Kg2 Black resigns 1-0

When all was said and done, we had won the match 3-1!  Quite an upset!  And nobody was happier than Amanda Mateer, who found a nice Bd6! move to finish her game!  To his credit, her opponent NM Sinanan refused a draw in a drawn position (forced repetition) to battle on for his team a piece down. Some would just call it foolhardy, but it did give Amanda the much-coveted t-shirt.

Here’s a photo of the happy team.


The Happy Squad

From left to right:  Levon Altounian, Robby Adamson, Amanda Mateer, and Alejandro Ramirez.

We attracted quite a few fans in the commentary room.  There was even a dork wearing a strange T-Shirt (much inferior to the one Amanada Mateer won from Endgame Clothing!).


Dorky Spectator

Yale Wing Chun Kung-Fu at a Scorpions-Seattle match?!

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Opening of the Week (OOTW) Week 8

October 24, 2009

In Week 8, we had an interesting old-school Semi-Slav Meran (think Larsen, Uhlmann, and other giants of 1960s Candidate Matches!) with lots of twists and turns.

Quick Chess History Preamble

Before proceeding, you must, must play over these titanic Uhlmann-Larsen Semi-Slav games.  You’ll be glad you did.  Larsen in his heyday really uncorked some nice tactics and had a nice positional flow as well.  And Uhlmann was no weakie, scoring quite a few wins over Larsen in his career.

From 1968. Larsen finds a back-rank weakness to conclude the game, demonstrating the power of a Q&N versus weak pawns.

From the 1971 Candidates Match. Computers showed this to be a swindle where black should have lost but it was still a nice king-hunt.

And my personal favorite, also from the 1971 Candidates Match, Larsen ends the game with a spectacular bishop move that overloads white’s forces.

OK, now that this necessary historical detour is out of the way, on with the USCL action.

USCL Week 8 Meran Action

Vinay Bhat (SF) – Alexander Stripunsky (QNS)  USCL Week 8, Semi-Slav Meran

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5

The Meran

The Meran

8. Bd3

I want to draw the readers’ attention to the interesting try popularized by Larsen and Korchnoi in the 1960s, 8. Bb3!?.  After, for example, 8…b4 9. Ne2 Ba6 10. O-O Be7 11. Re1 O-O 12. Nf4 Nd5? (12… c5 13. e4 c4 14. Bc2 is very complex) 13. e4 Nxf4 14. Bxf4 white was simply better in and won in the ending,1-0 Kortschnoj,V-Ciric,D/Leningrad 1964.  And 8. Be2 is a totally different story, too.  The text is by far the most popular, but an argument can be made not to block up the d-file.

8… Bd6 9. O-O O-O 10. Qc2 Bb7 11. a3 a5!?

Here, 11… Qe7 was met by the surprising gambit  12. Ng5!? Bxh2+ 13. Kxh2 Ng4+ 14. Kg1 Qxg5 15. f3 and black could not hold the position in the long run,   1-0 Vyzmanavin,A (2580)-Shirov,A (2710)/Tilburg 1992.

To e3-e4 or not to e3-e4

To e3-e4 or not to e3-e4

12. e4!? Slovenian GM Alexander Beliavsky is a connoisseur of slow build-ups. Here, he preferred 12. Bd2!? Qe7 13. h3 b4 14. axb4 axb4 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Nf6 17. Bd3 c5 18. dxc5 Bxc5 19. Rxa8 Rxa8 20. Rc1 Bd6 21. e4 Nd7 22. Bg5 f6 23. Be3 Rc8 24. Bc4 Ne5 (24… Bc5!) 25. Nxe5 Bxe5 26. Qb3 Kf8 27. f3 Rc6 28. Rd1 Bxb2??  (28…h6 +=) 29. Bb5 Rc3 30. Qxb2 Rxe3 31. Qd4!  1-0 Beliavsky,A (2545)-Platonov,I/Kiev 1978.  A very nice piece win tactic at the end.  With the game move, white asserts in the center.  However, observe the note to black’s 15th and also black’s suggested improvement on move 16.  These seem to suggest black is OK here.  We might want to focus on 12. Bd2!? again as unassuming as that looks.

12… e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 Bxe5 15. h3 Re8!?

Dubious looks 15… c5?! 16. Bxb5! (The other capture, 16. Nxb5 is met by the perplexing 16…c4! 17. Bxc4 Nxe4 with some activity) 16… Bxc3 17. bxc3 Bxe4 18. Qe2 and white was definitely better.  However, black hung on and drew later, 1/2-1/2 Epishin,V (2615)-Dokhoian,Y (2545)/Moscow 1991/URS-ch

But very interesting and logical here is 15… Nh5!? 16. Ne2 Re8?  (16…Qd6! 17. f4 Rad8!, a key Meran tactic to remember, and it’s fully equal!) and white won, 1-0 Maric,A (2443)-Tkeshelashvili,S (2286)/New Delhi 2000.  It’s always thematic in Merans to work on the dark squares.

16. Be3

Key Moment

Key Moment

16…Qe7? Black misses the nice resource 16… Bd4! with level chances.

17. Ne2! Now black has problems with his sleeping Bishop on b7 and strange queenside pawns.

17…Bc7 Nothing is solved by 17… Rad8 18. Rad1.

18. Bc5! Bd6 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. f4? Up to this point, white had a clear and pleasant advantage, with the passive B/b7.  However now he’s too impulsive and lets that fellow out of the box. After the simple 20. Rad1!  black is suffering.  For example, (20… Qc7 21. Bxb5 Nxe4 22. Nd4 and white maintains a plus.

20… c5! We’re out of the opening now, and black opportunistically has created a good game. I will just draw attention at the end to one very USCL-style double blunder that occurred.

21. e5 Qb6 22. Rf2 c4 23. Bf5 Nd5 24. Re1  Ne3 25. Qb1 Nxg2  26. Rd1 Rad8 27. Bd7 Re7 28. Rd6 Qc5 29. Qd1 Ne3?? Time pressure?  Very nice was 29… Nxf4!! 30. Nxf4 Qxe5 31. Ng2 Qg3 32. Kf1 Be4 33. Nf4 Bd3+ 34. Nxd3 Qxd6 and wins.

30. Bc6? Maybe also time trouble?  White misses the escape 30. Bxb5! Rf8 31. Qd4 Qxb5 32. Nc3 Qe8 33. Qxe3 Re6 and it’s equal!

30… Rxd6 31. Qxd6 Qxc6 32. Qxc6 Bxc6 33. Nd4 Bd7 0-1

And in News of the Surreal: When Do Bots Go Bad?

When they shout one or more tokenizers!

TriviaBot(TD) shouts: *** Element 1 undefined in Congratulations to !1 for winning the trivia game with a score of !2 points.

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 6 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

October 8, 2009

The Inscrutable Chinese Dragon

I guess we could say it’s a gambit of structure (backward pawn on d6 after black moves e7-e5) for activity.  It’s not to my taste at all, but so far this USCL season Shabalov has tried it versus Kudrin and Kiewra just tried it versus Bick.  And black so far stands at 1-1.

Let’s see these games.

John Bick (TEN) – Keaton Kiewra (DAL)  Chinese Dragon

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rb8 The characteristic move of the Chinese Dragon.  In 1974-5, Paul Whitehead (upholding black) and Jay Whitehead (upholding white) were debating the merits of the other mainlines in countless blitz games at the San Francisco Mechanics Chess Club with 10…Rc8 and 10….Qa5 and ….Rfc8.

Chinese, anyone?

Chinese, anyone?

In defense of the Chinese, I think it makes more sense than …a7-a6 which Magnus Carlsen tried a few times (notably getting crushed by Topalov).  In case you were wondering how it got its name, Gallagher writes about its dubious origins in the 2002 NIC magazine.  Some journalist just happened to be in China…

11. Bb3 Na5

When the Chinese Dragon first got on the radar in 2002, Chris Ward tried 11… Ne5.  An unimpressed Joe Gallagher wrote in NIC magazine “I do not predict a bright and glittering future for the Chinese Dragon.”  Nevertheless, that game Gallagher-Ward British Ch. 2002 ended in a draw after  12. f4 (12. Bh6 Bxh6 13.
Qxh6 b5 14. Nd5 Nxd5 15. exd5 a5 16. Nc6 Bxc6 17. dxc6 e6 18. h4 a4 is an unsound piece sac for white — 19. h5 Qf6 20. hxg6 Qxg6 21. Qxg6+ hxg6 22. Bxe6 fxe6 23. Rxd6 Kf7 and black is better.

Also possible is 12. h4 b5 13. h5 Nc4 14. Bxc4 bxc4 15. h6 Bh8 16. Nf5 Bxf5! (not 16…gxf5?? 17. Bb6! winning)  17. exf5 Qa5 18. fxg6 Ne4 19. fxe4 Qxa2! (the tempting at first glance 19…Rxb2? 20. g7! wins for white) 20. Nxa2 Bxb2+ 21. Kb1 Bc3+ with a humorous draw!

12… Neg4 13. Bg1 b5 14. h3 b4 15. hxg4 bxc3 16. Qxc3 Rc8 17. Qg3 Bxg4 18. Re1 Qa5 19. c3 e5 20.
fxe5 dxe5 21. Nf3 Rxc3+!  Not very hard to see but nevertheless a pleasing drawing combination from Chris Ward, Dragon aficionado.

22. bxc3 Qxc3+ 23. Kb1 Rc8 24. Bxa7 Qd3+ 25. Kb2 Qc3+ 26. Kb1 Qd3+ 27. Kb2 Qc3+ {And drawn, Gallagher-Ward British CH 2002.})

Conclusion:  11…Ne5 needs re-examination because the way this game goes isn’t very pleasant for black.

12. Bh6 Bxh6

It’s not risky per se to have the white queen drawn out to h6, but it can always go back and black has not gained time. 12… b5 13. Nd5 Nxb3+ 14. Nxb3 Bxh6 15. Qxh6 doesn’t look too different from the game and black has problems.

13. Qxh6 b5 The weird gambit 13… e5 14. Nde2 b5? (marginally better 14… Nxb3+ {Kurnosov-Pavlovic, Hastings 2009 but black faced the usual difficulties and white won} was played in Zambrana-Yuan, Sao Paulo 2008.  White then played the lemon 15. h4? and lost but he should have taken on d6 with an edge.

14. Nd5! Of course!   This is a key moment.

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

14…e6?! As Shabalov played against Kudrin earlier in the USCL year, but this position is just suffering for black.  Die-hard Chinese-ites will play 14….e5 here and claim near-equality.  And maybe they are right – it’s hard to break down black’s game.  Afterthought: the move 14…e5 15. Nf5!? is interesting here and worth careful examination; white might keep a small plus. I don’t know how much 15. Nf5!? has been analyzed elsewhere; better ask Golubev. 🙂

From black’s point of view, it’s worth also looking at 14…Nxb3+.  This is actually transposing, usually, to 14…e5.  Then, 15. Nxb3 e5 is best met with 16. Nxf6+ Qxf6 17. h4!? or the simple 17. Kb1 and white has a small edge.  Instead,  Robson played 16. h4?! against Papp in Spice(B) 2009, and Papp gained equality after 16…Nxd5 17. Rxd5 Rb6.  Papp lost later after weakening himself unnecessarily with …g6-g5? on the solid kingside and falling prey to a tactic.  Conclusion:  this is the last spot for black to avoid getting  a lasting disadvantage with either 14….e5 or 14…Nxb3 (these two often converge).  We’ll have to ask Golubev what he thinks.

15. Nxf6 Qxf6 16. h4 Qg7 17. Qg5! Excellent, as Kudrin played against Shabalov.  Black is under pressure.   This move pinpoints black’s positional deficiencies and is exactly why I don’t like the 14…e6?! line for black.


It’s hard to recommend anything.  What do the waiting 17…Rb7 or 17…Rfe8 accomplish?  Shabalov played 17…Qe5 18. Ne2 Bc6 19. Rd2 Rfd8 20. Rhd1 Nb7 (clearly black is suffering) 21. Nf4 a5 22. a3 Re8 and here Kudrin could have capped his fine play with the powerful 23 .Qxe5! dxe5 24. Nd3 f6 (forced) 25. g4! and white will break up black’s king side structure with a winning edge. This nice sequence is hard to see in the rapid USCL time control.  Unfortunately, Kudrin went wrong with 23. Nd3? Qxg5 24. hxg5 Kg7 25. e5 Red8 26. exd6 Rxd6 27. Ne5 (white is still better) 27…Rxd2 28. Rxd2 Be8 and now he missed another shot to keep the edge, 29. Ng4! stopping h6.

After Kudrin’s second lemon, 29. Ba2? h6! black was fine and went on to turn the tables in a key match victory, Kudrin (PHI) – Shabalov (TEN) USCL 2009.

18. Bxc4 bxc4 19. h5?! 19. Qe7! looks good.

19…c3?! Leaving the pawn on c4 is stronger, for example 19…Rb7 preparing to double on the b-file.

20. b3 Now the c3 pawn is a goner.

20…Rb4  21. h6 21. Qe3 also kept a big edge for white.

21…Qh8 22. Ne2 Rb6 23. Ng3? The easiest win is 23. e5! d5 24. Nxc3.

23… Rb5? 23…Bb5 was the toughest.  Anyway, we’re far afield from the opening now, so we will show the rest rapidly.

24. Qe7 Qe5 25. Qxd7 Ra5 26. a4 Easiest was 26. Kb1! Qxg3 27. Qxd6 since the game motif 27… Qxg2 is met by 28. Qd4! e5 29. Qxc3 and wins.

26…Qxg3 27. Qxd6 Qxg2 28. Qd4 Qg5+ 29. Kb1 Qe5 30. Ka2  Qxd4 31. Rxd4 f5 32. Rc4 fxe4 33. fxe4 Rh5 34. Rxh5 gxh5 35. Rxc3 h4 36. b4 Rf4 37. Re3 Kf7 38. Kb3 Kg6 39. b5 Kxh6 40. a5 Rf1 41. Kc4 Kg5 42. Rb3 Rf8 43. b6 axb6 44. axb6 Kg4 45. b7 Rb8 46. Kc5 h3 47. Kc6 h2 48. Rb1 Rg8 49. Kc7 Rg7+ 50. Kb6 Rg8 51. Ka7 Kf3 52. b8=Q Rxb8 53. Kxb8 h5 54. c4 Kxe4 55. Rd1! 1-0

Sveshnikov Postscript: Further Weirdness

I’m not understanding why Herman in Herman (NY) – Uesugi (BAL) USCL Week 6 diverged from Martinez-Uesugi USCL 2009 Week 4 in his Sveshnikov matchup in Week 6. After all, maybe Uesugi had not read yet the refutation!

And for Something Different

Clouds whipping around an Island, Mon

Clouds whipping around an Island, Mon

The Karman Votices, a cloud weather pattern as viewed by a satellite.

The Fabulous 90s: From the Vaults – San Francisco 1999 Dake Memorial

August 22, 2009

The Arthur Dake Memorial was a 9 round invitational held at the venerable Mechanics Institute Chess Club in downtown San Francisco (Post Street, visit it at some point!).  I think I tied for 2nd by defeating NM Lobo in the last round.  My only loss was to IM Guillermo Rey. Here is a miraculous escape versus Vinay Bhat, who scored an IM norm in this event.  I believe Jesse Kraii did as well and also Omar Cartagena.  Most of the games were contested in the main room, but former US Champion John Grefe and I played our game in a drafty back room for some reason.

[Event “Arthur Dake Int”]
[Site “San Francisco”]
[Date “1999.07.14”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Bhat, Vinay S”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “B06”]

[WhiteElo “2388”]
[BlackElo “2381”]

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be3 a6!? 5. a4 Nc6 I don’t think 5. a4 is the most testing move.  Black is all right now. In fact, I equalized quickly with this line vs Ben Finegold, Brugges Belgium 1990.  Queenside castling is out for white.

6. h3 Nf6 7. g3 e5 8. Nge2 d5! How dynamic and natural enough versus white’s slow buildup!  It’s still about equal.

The Center Blows Up

The Center Blows Up

9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bg2 Nc4 11. Bd4 The line 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. b3 d4! 14. bxc4 dxc3 15. Qxd8+ Bxd8 seems OK for black.

11… dxe4 But here black had a serious choice.  Probably safer is 11… Nxb2! 12. Qb1 Nc4 13. exd5 O-O and black is solid.

12. Nxe4 O-O 13. Nc5 Qe7 14. O-O Rd8 15. Nd3! I really missed most of white’s regroupings in this phase of the game and my opponent got control of all the key squares.

15..Ne4? A huge lemon.  If black develops with 15… Bf5! 16. b3 Na5 17. Re1 he should be able to hold.

16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nef4! Totally missed by me.

17…Nc5? Flustered, I make an even worse mistake.  Required was 17… Nf6 18. Re1 Qd6 19. Qc1! and white has a big plus.

18. Nd5 Qd6 19. Nxc5 Qxc5 20. b4! I can resign!  From a good position on move 8 to this?  Boo.

20…Qd6 21. Qd4+ Qe5 22. Qxc4 Be6 It is blind luck that I’m not losing a piece.

23. Qxc7 Rxd5 24. Qxb7 Rb8 25. Qxa6? White is somewhat short of time and I start to get rays of hope.  Very pretty was the decisive tactical blow 25. Rae1!! Rxb7 26. Rxe5 Rxe5 27. Bxb7 Bxh3 28. Rd1 Bf5 29. c4 Bc2 30. Rd6 Bxa4 31. Rxa6 and white wins.

25… Rd6 26. Qa5 Qxa5 27. bxa5 Ra6 28. Rfb1 Rxb1+ 29. Rxb1 Rxa5 30. Rb4 Rc5 31. Rb2 It’s also hard work after 31. Bf1 Rxc2 32. a5 Ra2 33. a6 Bd5 34. Rb5 Bf3 35. Rb1 Kf6; black always has activity.  The shot missed on move 25 looms large.

31… Ra5 32. Bc6 Rc5 33. Bb5 Bxh3 34. a5 Rc3 35. a6 Be6 36. Bd3 Ra3 37. Kf1 h5 38. Ke1 More accurate is 38. Ke2.  The position is very easy for black to play and for white, without much time, it’s not a lot of fun.  But on move 39 (see the note) white could have gotten back on track.

38… g5 39. Rb6?! The computer likes the aesthetic 39. Rb4 Kf6 40. f4! gxf4 41. Rxf4+ Ke5 42. Rb4 and white has clarified the kingside and should be winning without too many problems.

39… h4! Of course.  Who knows how real it is, but it is counterplay.

40. gxh4 gxh4 This pawn looks scary so the players agreed to a draw here.  The position is a hard slog.  For example, 41. Kf1 Kf6 42.
Kg1 Ra1+ 43. Kh2 Kg5 44. Kg2 Bd5+ 45. f3 Kf4 46. Kf2 h3 47. Rb4+ Ke5 48. f4+ Kd6 49. Kg3 Rh1 50. Ra4 Ba8 51. a7 h2 52. Bc4 Rf1 53. Kxh2 Rxf4 and it’s still work.


International Quiz

The Return of Polugaevsky

A recent e-mail banter exchange.

The query:
dewaynepittman wrote:
I am SSG Dewayne Pittman, an active American soldier serving in Iraq, I am serving in the military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, as our mission here is highly exclusive due to insurgents everyday and car bombs are attacking our peaceful mission here. We managed to secure funds from the war zone. The total amount is US$ 9 Million dollars in cash.

We want to move this money out of this place,this place is a war zone, so that you may keep our share for us till when we will come over to meet you.We will take 70%, my partner and I.You take 30%. No strings attached, just help us move it out of Iraq, Iraq is a war zone. We plan on using diplomatic courier and shipping the money out in a large box, using diplomatic immunity.

If you are interested I will send you the full details, my job is to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us. Can I trust you? When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick communication also your contact details.

This business is risk free. The box can be shipped out in 48hrs if you want to handle the deal with us as brothers.

SSG Dewayne Pittman

The response:

Sounds great.

I am Lev Polugaevsky and I watched as Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan.   The next move is yours, mein Freund.

Stay tuned — let’s see if we can catch some bait with this lure.

The Fabulous 00s: Player Freakouts

July 27, 2009

Players and Their Freakouts

I laughed my butt off at Vinay Bhat’s World Open blog where he describes NM Chris Williams freaking out and the deleterious effect on Vinay’s opponent, FM Thomas Bartell.  Well, of course, it’s not so funny for Bartell who blew a winning game during the Williams freakout.  Apparently Williams was quite a distance away yet still managed to ratchet up the volume level to a full scream and, typical of freakouts, sustained the yelling for a good, long, while.

It reminded me of the time I was playing much closer (the next board over) in Las Vegas from a player destined (bad luck for me) to freak out in the round, Jerry Hanken.  In both Bhat’s case and my case, the offending party would-not-shut-up.

The Infamous Hanken Freakout

Perhaps even more infamous since he’s a perennial officer in the ‘Chess Journalists of America’ – but here he made it impossible for me to … play chess.  I would think “Chess Journalists” would want to allow chess to occur.

[Event “National Open”]
[Site “Las Vegas, NV”]
[Date “2005.06.17”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Steigman, A.J..”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “B23”]

Closed Sicilian

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nge2 a6 4. a4 Nc6 5. g3 Nf6 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O d6 8. h3 O-O 9. d3 Qb6 Just for fun, I’m trying something unusual.

10. g4 Re8 11. Ng3 Bf8 12. Rb1 Nd7 13. g5 Qc7 14. f4 Nd4 15. Be3 b5 16. Nce2 Nxe2+ 17. Qxe2 bxa4 18. f5?! This is not good.  Correct is … not to do it!

18…Ne5 Black can also play simply 18…exf5 19. Nxf5 Ne5 with some edge.

19. Rf4?! White should clog things up with 19. f6! g6 20. h4 Bb7 21. h5 d5 22. Bf4 Bd6 23. Kh2 Rab8

19… exf5 20. exf5 Bb7 21. Rxa4 d5 22. Rh4 Nxd3 23. Rxh7?? This move is not even close to working. 23. Nf1 Nf4 24. Bxf4 Qxf4 25. Rxf4 Rxe2 26. Rf2 for better or worse white has to accept this sort of inferior ending.



23… g6?? Correct, of course, was 23… Qxg3.  This should have been very easy to find.  However, Jerry Hanken on the adjacent board had just resigned and was talking to himself loudly. I told him to be quiet and he would not.   He would NOT.  ARGHHHHH.   As my time ticked down, and Hanken kept up his monologue rant, I could not focus so I committed a blunder that could have turned the game around 360 degrees.  After the correct 23…Qxg3! 24. Qh5 Qxe3+ This position is an elementary forced mate. 25. Kh1 Nf2+ 26. Kg1 Nd1+ 27. Kh1 Qe1+ 28. Kh2 Bd6 mate. Oh my God. The simple fact that black’s bishop can go to d6 in all  lines, giving check, had escaped black’s attention during the Hanken nonsense.   A “Chess Journalist” should not make noises (talking to oneself, or snorting, or fake-coughing) to disrupt other players.  I don’t think it’s just me with this opinion.

24. fxg6 Qxg3 25. Rh8+?? White is also oblivious to the tactical possibilities, in all likelihood due to the Hanken noise machine next board, and mistakenly goes for the perpetual. If 25. gxf7!+ Kxh7 26. Qh5+ Kg7 27. fxe8=N+! Rxe8 28. Qh6+ Kf7 29. Qf6+ Kg8 30. Qg6+ and white wins.

25… Kg7 26. Rh7+ Kg8 1/2-1/2 Guess what.  NOW, Hanken was packing up his pieces and was preparing to leave the tournament hall docilely and silently. ARGHHHH.

A Happy Ending Freakout

At the 1981 Lone Pine tournament, Reshevsky offered a draw to Fedorowicz.  After letting his time tick down, Fedorowicz accepted.  Reshevsky then in a bald-faced absurd maneuver, denied he had made the offer. A massive multi-party (the players, witnesses, the TD) lengthy freakout ensued.  The TD, Kashdan, eliminated all the witnesses saying they were “friends of Reshevsky’s opponent” and upheld Reshevsky’s fabrication.   I am not too nostalgic for the “old days” when TDs engaged in rampant cheating and/or bogus pairings on behalf on their buddies.

The Lone Pine game continued and …. Sammy lost.  Frontier Justice meted out in Lone Pine, which happens to be in Death Valley!

Even more rare than player freakouts are lengthy, borderline hysterical, TD freakouts.  The only one I’ve witnessed belonged to excitable “colors don’t matter in my pairings” Weikel.

And Now It’s Your Turn

Readers, please send in your own freakout stories, particularly if they influenced your game or a game you were watching.

Poll Time!

Enough Unpleasantness, Time for Some Chess

What’s the best way to get rid of the bad taste of player antics?  Some blitz chess!

Here I am playing a Ghost.

Information about F-Ghost(GM) (Last disconnected Tue Jul 28 2009 12:36):

rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Bullet          2405  [8]   195   169    21   385   2430 (19-Feb-2001)
Blitz           2923  [8]  1210  1095   272  2577   2981 (18-Nov-2000)
5-minute        2402        295   192    62   549   2515 (04-May-2008)

1: Born 1976 in USSR
2: Lost the way and perished in 2002 in BiH
3: —————————————
4: Kosovo je Srbija

[Event “ICC 5 Min Blitz”]
[Date “2009.07.28”]
[White “GM F-Ghost”]
[Black “Aries2”]

[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B40”]
[EventDate “2008.09.18”]
[EventType “blitz”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c3 d5 4. e5 d4 5. Bb5+ Bd7 6. Qe2 Nc6 7. O-O Nge7 8. Na3 Ng6 9. Qe4 a6 10. Bd3 Qc7 11. Re1 b5 12. h4 c4 13. Bf1 d3
Well, this attempt cutting the board in two is very optimistic, and demands a careful white reaction.

14. b3?! A little slow.  Faster is 14. h5! Bxa3 15. hxg6 Bc5 16. b4 Be7 17. a4 Rb8 with white initiative.

Time to Go Loco

Time to Go Loco

14… Ngxe5? Too frisky.  I was trying to emulate a classic brilliancy, Sax-Ljubojevic London 1980.  I recommend to the readers that they play over the Sax-Ljubojevic game; it is astounding. Better was the sane and very nice 14… Bc5! 15. bxc4 Qb6! (excellent tactics!) 16. Re3 Bxe3 17. dxe3 Qc5  and black is very happy.

15. Nxe5 f5 16. Qf3 Nxe5 17. Qxa8+ 17. Rxe5! puts an end to black’s fantasies.

17…Kf7 18. Rxe5 Qxe5 19. Qb7? Here although the path is getting a little harder, 19. Qf3 Bd6 20. g3 Rc8 21. bxc4 bxc4 22. Qf4! and white wins.  With the text, white presents black with an unexpected chance. Now, it’s quiz time. What do I do?

19…Ke8 WRONG.

The spectacular correct move is 19… Bd6!! 20. Qxd7+ Kf6  and black is assured of at least a draw!  Not so incredible, since white’s entire queenside force is ‘asleep’.  The line continues 21. g3 Bc5! and feast your eyes on the tableau:

Black's Tiny Army Fights Successfully

Black's Tiny Army Fights Successfully

Position after 21…Bc5! (Analysis).  Black has at least a draw!

22. Qc6 Qxg3+ 23. Qg2 Bxf2+ 24. Kh1 Qxh4+ 25. Qh3 Qe4+ 26. Kh2 and now black can play aggressively with 26… g5  or force an immediate draw with 26… Ba7 27. bxc4 Bb8+ 28. Kg1 Ba7+.   It’s amazing how black’s well-coordinated, but TINY army, saves the day and even preserves winning chances!

20. bxc4 Bd6 21. g3 The simple 21. Bxd3! winning demonstrates how bad black’s 19th was.

21…f4 22. Qf3 Rf8 23. g4! Effective enough.

23…Ke7 24. Bxd3 Bc6 25. Qxc6 f3 26. Qb7+ Kd8 27. Kf1 Qh2 28. Ke1 Bg3 29. fxg3 f2+ 30. Kd1 f1=Q+ 31. Bxf1 Rxf1+ 32. Kc2 Qxg3 33. Qb8+

HAHAHAHA.  Since black has seconds left and will lose on time in any event, white moves his queen en-prise.  A classical Naka taunt. 🙂

33…Ke7 34. Qxg3 1-0

And for More Humor: CNN Text Scroll Gaffes

For those who can’t get enough humor, I went to lunch today at PF Chang.  The TV overhead was tuned to CNN at a very low volume but it had a text scroll at the time (presumably for hard of hearing viewers).  Amusingly the text scroll made some mistakes that almost made sense in the context of the story, but not quite.

First, CNN was running a story on Pres. Obama addressing the AARP on health care reform.  According to the text scroll, Obama told the AARP audience, “I know hell care is not working for you.  I know I have to fix hell care.  I know we have big problems with hell care.”   That one drew some yucks.  The next story up:  quarterback Michael Vick was reinstated into the NFL after a long jail stint for dog fighting.  The text scroll kept saying “Victory Dogs…”  …. “Victory Dogs”…. the story was actually trying to say “Vick’s dogs.”

Playing The Oddball

The following poll starts to measure your oddball experiences.

The Fabulous 00s: Championing Dubious Systems

May 20, 2009

Say What?

A lot of authors champion some pretty bad things.  A duo of Dutch  amateurs champion a passive Philidor-type system starting with 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 and call it the “Black Lion” for reasons that are not clear on the surface.  It looks more like zebra meat a lion might enjoy as a snack.   A review by Arne Moll points out some of the authors’ analysis biases. In a worse vein,  German amateur Stefan Buecker used to champion the hideous Vulture (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 Ne4?) and subjectively bias the lines so that black was on top more often that not.  And I won’t even talk about what American blogger “Dana M.” is espousing in terms of opening systems.

Moving up the ranks of respectability in terms of both author and subject matter, GM Victor Moskalenko champions the Budapest (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5) in a recent book. What’s there to say?  Black relies on piece play without pawns in front, in violation of Kasparov’s famous attacking edicts.  I guess black is hoping white messes up, because it certainly looks like a safe += in the mainlines. Just to prove its tricky nature, though,I tried it as black versus an IM and was rewarded with a lucky win in ICC Blitz.   In passing, the Albin (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5) is fairly tough to break too, as GM Morozevich has proven in many games.   The Budapest and Albin are both apparently better than their long-standing reputations.

Event “ICC 5 0”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2009.05.20”]
[Round “-“]
[White “IM Dali”]
[Black “aries2”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ICCResult “White resigns”]
[WhiteElo “2291”]
[BlackElo “2421”]
[Opening “Budapest: Adler variation”]
[ECO “A52”]
[NIC “QG.01”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 Moskalenko’s Fabulous Move.

3. dxe5 Ng4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e3 White opts for the common, slow treatment, but since he hasn’t done anything wrong and black’s just floating out there in the center, I would be happy as white.   Slow pawn expansion should punish the dancing knights.

5…Ngxe5 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. Bd2 O-O 8. a3?! This cannot promise much. Quite interesting is 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. f4!? Nc6 10. Nd5! and white can claim a small edge.  Is this line a novelty?

8…Bxc3 9. Bxc3 d6 10. Be2 Be6 10…Nxf3+ is quite a reasonable alternative and black might be able to reaches full equality.  For example, 11. Bxf3 Ne5 12. Be2 Be6 13. b3 Qf6! 14. Rc1 Qg6 15. O-O Bh3 16. Bf3 Rfe8 and it’s balanced.

11. b3 a5 11…Qf6!? is interesting here.  12. Rc1 Qg6! and with this typical transfer, it’s equal.

12. a4 I wouldn’t be in a rush to do this as white but it doesn’t seem bad.

12…b6?! Once again black misses the Qf6! motif.

13. Nd4 Just 13. O-O first and wait and see.

13…Bd7?! Black misses the more active 13…Qg5! =.

14. O-O After numerous imprecisions, white now has a stable edge.

14…Qe7 15. Nb5 Rac8 16. Qd2 Rfe8 17. Rae1 What can black do?  17. Rad1 is also unpleasant.

17…Ng6 17…Ng4 18. Qb2! is not fun.

18. Bd3 Nce5 19. Bc2 White is gearing up for the central pawn blitz so I have to do something.


19…Nf3+?! OK.  Here we go.  I’m attacking without any pawns.  Chess principles say this cannot work.

20.  gxf3 Nh4 21. Kh1 Forced but good.



22. Qd5 This is fine.  To give us the satisfied feeling that chess principles are not broken in this game, those with sharp tactical vision see 22. Qd1! and now both 22…Bc6 23. e4! interference theme! and 22…Bg4 23. Rg1! are terrible for black. White should win after 22. Qd1!.  The presence of two good moves for white at this juncture mean black’s 19th was hopelessly unsound.

22…Bg4 23. Rg1 Qh4 Of no use is 23…c6 24. Qd3! Qh4 25. Qxh7+!  winning.

24. Rg2 Nxe1? Slightly better is 24…Re5 25. Bxe5 Nxg1 26. Bxg7! and white should win.

25. Qd4! Crushing!

25…Re5 26. Rxg4? A bad gaffe in blitz and where the game starts to turn 180 degrees.  After 26. Bxe1 black can resign.

26…Qxf2 27. Be4? A typical blitz collapse. White had to play 27. Bxe1 but black can play on there and doesn’t need to take a draw.

27…Nf3 28. Bxf3 Qf1+ 29. Rg1 Qxf3+ 30. Rg2 Rg5!


A nice finale.  The double threat on g2 and Qf1+ decides.

31. Qd2 Qf1+ {White resigns}

And the Next Stop on this Train is….


Now That’s a Dome!


Happy Marriage of Princeton and Yale: Sotomayor!

Referring to the recent Obama Supreme Court nominee, traditional conservative CNN windbag columnist Ruben Navarette writes, “How about on sheer qualifications? Sotomayor sure has them. Raised by her mother after her father died, Sotomayor graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude and from Yale Law School.”  He goes on to note, “radio talk show host [pill-popper] Rush Limbaugh called her “an affirmative action case extraordinaire,” although affirmative action doesn’t help you graduate summa cum laude from an Ivy League university.”   This is a good point, I hope “Rush” (what a name!) takes notice. I was not an affirmative action case and had a miserable GPA because the student union building also doubled as pizza and beer; New Jersey was a “18” state for drinking at the time.  I also noticed that critics routinely omitted the honors; I presume on purpose. An example of the omission: dogmatic conservative columnist Jeffrey Rosen rushes to omit by saying “She was raised by her mother, a nurse, and went to Princeton and then Yale Law School.”   Nice foxy omission, Jeff but it’s not going to work; she will get confirmed in a landslide.  At the very least, critics should get the bio right before falling over themselves to attack the candidate on the grounds of ethnic favoritism.  Postscript:  Newt Gingrich ‘tweeted’ (sorry, Newt is a cretin racist name) “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”   Newt?  Does this withered prune fellow have any credibility?   Did some young fascist Republican show him how to Tweet?  I can’t fathom the guy even logging on.  “Newt” and “Rush” are amusing cretin hillbilly names – quite predictable they would spew vitriol more often than not.   We could switch them around, two new hate-filled personas “Nush” and “Rewt”.   VIVA this happy union of Princeton and Yale.   It reaffirms an earlier post regarding Yale’s excellent graduate programs and Princeton’s tigerhold in the undergraduate arena.

Postscript 5/28/09:  Ed Rollins, Chairman of the RNC, agrees!:

“There can be no debate over her qualifications. Her lifetime achievements in the academic world, in the legal world and the judicial world are unchallengeable. If that was the only measure, she would be confirmed unanimously.

That isn’t going to happen! We are into full-bore political battle within the Republican Party, with conservatives and pragmatists arguing over what are the best tactics to stop the direction that this young president and his congressional allies are taking us.

But I just offer a word of caution. The confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor is not the battle to be waged and it won’t be won.”

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The Fabulous 60s: McKelvie upsets Benko

March 18, 2009

This just in from Dr. Neil McKelvie (Chemistry Professor at CCNY and Chess Master)

Mark…I noticed that (a) there have been no comments on my Denker submission; BUT (b) if you look up “Neil McKelvie” on GOOGLE, which I just did out of curiosity, I note that the first three entries – meaning most often accessed – are for me. (The next ones: I am not the principal of a religious English school in Yorkshire, and I do not play drums in a NZ rock band!) No 3 is for your BLOG. I have received no comments – have you?

MG Note: New Zealand (NZ) is a fantastic place, every chess player should visit it. The most recent NIC magazine has a story about the Queenstown, NZ Open organized by GM Chandler.  As Dr. McKelvie points out, in Auckland, NZ there happens to be MacKelvie Street but it’s listed as McKelvie Street.

McKelvie on Benko

Now: Pal Benko! I played him twice in MCC championships, and once in a US Open in Boston; but several times in Rapids (once coming in second to Bobby Fischer…7-0 I think was HIS score – ahead of Bisguier and Benko) This game is similar to the Denker game in that I played a highly speculative and probably unsound improvised gambit. *I* think that the most interesting Chess often comes from doubtful moves that no decent Computer would ever play! (Benko scored 7-0 the next year, ahead of Bisguier 5 1/2 – 1 1/2 and me 5-2)

McKelvie – GM Pal Benko Manhattan Club Championship – date 1966?

MG Note to readers: The Manhattan CC moved all over Manhattan, including a stint at the world famous Carnegie Hall at 57th and 7th Avenue.  This game was played before that venue.  Notes in the body of the game are by MG with Rybka kibitzing… see next section for McKelvie’s notes.

1. e4   c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3  e6 6. f4 a6 7. Be3 b5

As in many games, for example SM Bill Kelleher – M. Ginsburg, New England, 1980s (possibly early 90s).

Old Theory

Old Theory

8. e5!? Just as Kelleher played!  Theory presumes this to be premature but play gets very sharp.  It’s odd to see super sharp McKelvie openings because when I (MG) played him he reacted very passively in a QGD MCC Ch. 1985.  Maybe decaf that day?

In the 1970s, this type of structure was covered in a Scheveningen textbook.  Let’s see it:

What we had to work with in the 1970s

What we had to work with in the 1970s

However this 8. e5!? lunge was little covered.  I was certainly shocked when Kelleher tried it against me.

8….dxe5 9. fxe5 Nd5 Just for completeness, 9….b4!? TN 10. exf6 bxc3 11. fxg7 Bxg7 12. bxc3 Qc7 is a small edge for white – thus playable.

10. Nd5 Qxd5 11. Be2 Still following the Kelleher game.  I don’t have that game score handy….(I won after insane complications).  The bizarre computer choice 11. Nf3 retains equality.

11…Qxe5 I  believe that I, too, accepted this pawn because it’s hard to see what else black can do.

12.Qd2    Bb7 A very important position for the theory of this line has been reached.  Interesting, Rybka judges white has almost equal chances.  Black has one narrow way (see next note) to get something.  As McK mentions in his notes below, 12…Bc5! is a good alternative here and Rybka agrees.

13.Bf4    Qd5(? – McK) The best, not easy to see at the board, is 13…Qc5! 14. O-O-O Be7 15. Nb3 Qc8! 16. Bd6 Qd8! 17. Nc5 Bd5! and black has a small plus.

14. O-O-O! A wild continuation hanging a2.  However in the end this turns out to be justified. Rybka mentions 14. Bf3 Qd7 15. Rf1!? with compensation.    It also gives an inhuman line 14. Bf3 Qd7 15. Qc3 Bxf3 16. gxf3!?, also with good compensation.

14…Qd7  (? – Rybka) Benko blinks first, makes a move that doesn’t contribute to development, and he lands in a lost game!  But starting here we have a fascinating battle of the chess engines.  It would be interesting to turn even more engines loose on this one.

Naturally Rybka 2.2 doesn’t like this game choice and recommends 14…Qxa2 15. Nb3 Be7 (forced) 16. Bd6 Bf6 17. Be5! O-O (17…Be7?! 18. Bxg7 is good for white after 18…Rg8 19. Qh6)  18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Qf4 (or 19. Qh6) – thus far McK analysis- and now a truly amazing defense, 19…Nc6!! 20. Qxf6 Na5 and white has nothing better than a perpetual with queen checks on g5 and f6.  Incredible.   But hang on to your hats.  Rybka 3.1 has seen deeper!  19…Nc6 20. Qxf6 Na5 21. Nc5 Rac8 22. Rd4! and wins!  Thus we have to revise our opinion and say black should not grab on a2!

Rybka 3.1 indicates black should not grab on a2 just yet, develop with 14…Be7, but then 15. Bf3 Qxa2 16. Qc3! causes obvious problems.  Is there any defense at all?  Let’s take a look at this position; the resource it finds for black is truly amazing.

Position after 16. Qc3 (Analysis)

Position after 16. Qc3 (Analysis)

Readers:  A) What should black play from the diagram position above?  B) What’s the correct evaluation with best play for both sides?

15. Qc3! Now black has a horrible game in all lines.

15…Bd5? This makes it worse. 15…b4, while very lame, was the best chance.

16. Nf5! A real cruncher.  Black is dead lost.

16…Nc6 17. Rxd5! exd5  18. Bg4!  Kd8 What a depressing move to have to play. In fact, black could have resigned – see the note to white’s next move.

19. Nd4 (“!” – McK, “?”   – Rybka)

Rybka hates this move because of what’s out there.  Indeed, one of Rybka’s juicy moves, 19. Ne7!!, forces resignation after 19…Qxg4 20. Nxc6+.  Even worse, if that is possible, is 19…Qxe7 20. Qxc6 with utter destruction.   For the sadists in the audience, 19. Nh6!! is just as effective.  For example, 19. Nh6!! Nb4 20. Bg5+ Be7 21. Nxf7+ and it’s +13.95 in computer speak!

This just in from McKelvie:  “Just incidentally….I DID intend Ne7, which of course wins easily, but then picked Nd4, which wins a piece and ALSO wins easily. Why? After Ne7 Black can play B:e7 and then K:d7, with R+N for Q and dead lost, but at least developed and able to survive for a while. After Nd4 Black is still with a useless R and unmoved B. The way I played SHOULD have led to immediate resignation after Qe1/e3 instead of Re1…now THAT was careless of me, or perhaps I wanted to enjoy winning against Benko a bit longer!

I suspect Rybka cannot understand failing to win Q for two pieces instead of just winning a piece, unless I have missed some amazing defence after my Nd4.   Cheers – Neil McKelvie”

19…Nb4! Black doesn’t have to be asked twice to do this. He’s now at only -1.2; if white had done 19. Ne7 it would have been -5 in computer-speak.

20. Kb1 Qb7 20. Rc8 21. Qh3 also loses: 21…Qb7 22. Bg5+! Kc7 23. Qc3+ Kb8 24. Bf4+ and wins the rook.

21. a3 h5 22.  Bh3 a5 23. ab Ra6   24. Nxb5 axb5 25. Bc7+ Ke8  26. Re1+ Re6   27.B:e6   fe   28.Qh3    Rh6    29.R:e6+  Kf7  30.R:h6   gh   31.Qf5+   Kg8   32.Qe6+   Kh7   33.Qf7+   Bg7 34.Nd4    Qa7    35.Nf5    Qg1+ 36.Ka2    b3+  37.K:b3   Resigns

I will try to find the “counter-twin” Kelleher game.

Some notes by McKelvie

Some notes: 12….Bc5 looked good for Black, although after 13.O-O-O O-O (?! – Rybka)  (MG: Rybka likes 13….Bb7! first) 14.Bf3 Ra7 15.Bf4!? Qd4 16.Qd4 Bd4 17.Rd4 White has a little compensation with two Bishops…
13….Qc5 was much better than 13…Qd5. If 14…Qa2 15.Nb3  Be7 16.Bd6 Bf6 17.Be5 O-O(?)
18. Bf6 gf 19 Qh6 a5(?) 20. Bd3 f5 21.g4,,,,  (MG:  See game notes for a discussion of a preliminary computer try, 19…Nc6)
26. Qe3+ was quicker.

Cheers….Neil McKelvie

McKelvie Puzzle

One McK creation from MANY years ago…a Mate in Four (but the first move is fairly obvious).
White: Qh1; Kg2; Pg4; Nb4; Ne8 Black: Kd7 Pb7

9/21/09:  Neil sent in a correction, the above puzzle had a typo. Here is the right version.

White: Kg2; Qh1; N’s b5 and e8; P g4;

Black: Kd7; Pb7    White to play and Mate in 4.

Solution: 1.Ne8-c7
If 1….Ke7 2.Qh7+ If then 2…Kf6 3.Nd5+ and then mirror mates from 4.Qh5 or Qf5 Other moves are uninteresting. HOWEVER
If 1…..Kc6; some logic. Black’s possible second moves with the K are 2…Kb6; 2…Kc5 and 2…K back to d7.  For the Q to then mate in two more moves, it has to get to a3, d4, and e5 respectively. There is only one square from where all three can be reached: a1!
SO: 2.Qa1. But now; what if 2…Pb6. NOW, the K has three squares available: 3…c5 or d7 or b7. To mate then, the Q has to get to c3, e8…AND a8. There is only one square from which to reach all three:3.Qh8. Therefore: Z for Zugswang! Q from h1 -> a1; h8; and a8.

McKelvie on Celts, Irish, Scots

“Mc” and even “M’ ” are valid SCOTTISH (and Irish) abbreviations for “Mac”. For my family name, which comes from the whole area of northern Ireland, the islands to the north, and the Scottish land area to the east; south of Glasgow, “McKelvie is the Scottish spelling, and “McKelvey” is the Ulster spelling. We are supposedly all descendants of a chieftain named “Cielbach Mac Cielbach”, where the “C” turned sometimes into “K” and sometimes into “S” (the northern English name “Selby”) over 2000+ years.

Scots from the North ,”highlanders”, are invariably “Mac”. Lowland Scots, who originally came from Northern ireland anyway, are usually “Mc”. The ROMANS named the group from Northern Ireland the “Scotti”. They were in constant war with the O’Neill’s from the south of Ireland, and so pushed into the south of Scotland, then occupied by the Picts. The two groups united against the Roman invaders. Later a character called Kenneth MacAlpine had married a daughter of the Pictish King, and when he died he became the first king of a united Scotland, having had other claimants killed off. To this day the tall fair-haired Highlanders – descendants of the Picts? – look, think, and talk differently from the Lowlanders. The groups do not always get on well together.
So; the Northern Ireland conflict has a 2000+ year history.

MG Note:  Since I was/am a Philistine savage, previously I believed “Mc” was Irish and “Mac” was Scottish and that was that.  Clearly things are much “Highland mistier.”

The Fabulous 90s: The Manhattan CC 1990 International

October 7, 2008

The Big 1990 Show at Carnegie Hall

The July, 1990 round-robin international at the Manhattan Chess Club (Carnegie Hall, 57th St and 7th Ave., NY NY) was very strong.  We had:

  • IM Alex Fishbein (Samford Award winner, who made a GM norm in this event)
  • GM Gregory Kaidanov
  • Future GM and well-known USSR Trainer Avigdor Bykhovsky.  Bykhovsky stayed with Joel and I and brought with him plenty of food supplies:  dozens of tins of USSR preserved meat that resembled deviled ham (I think).  All he needed to borrow was a can-opener and he was all set.
  • ex-WC Candidate GM Yefim Geller now in the twilight of his career (he passed away shortly after the event)
  • GM Bozidar Abramovich
  • IM (future-GM of course) Alex Sherzer, my guest for the event.  Alex stayed over at a gigantic 3-bedroom apartment real estate barons Joel Benjamin and me controlled on the Upper West Side.
  • IM Michael Brooks
  • IM Mark Ginsburg
  • GM Alex Wojtkiewicz
  • GM Alex Ivanov

It all started well for me in the first round.  Although I was working at a programming job for SIAC (yuck!!) in “Metrotech” (some called this place “MetroDreck”) Brooklyn, I seemed fresh enough here:

Mark Ginsburg – Alexander Fishbein (2470) MCC Int’l 1990 Round 1.

Dutch Defense, 4. Bf4 gambit line

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4 Just another weird anti-Dutch gambit, not allowing 4. f3? e5!.   For more gambits, see this post.


Position after 4. Bf4.  By transposition, the  Pöhlmann Defense of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

White plans to simply play f2-f3 and leave black with a sick pawn formation.

4…Nf6 5. Bc4 Very logical is 5. f3!? exf3 (5… e6 6. fxe4 fxe4 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6! 10. a3! and white has some compensation) 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Bg5 c6 9. Qd3 b5 10. Bb3 Na6 and now we follow a chaotic old James Tarjan game. (10… b4 11. Ne2 Qc7 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. O-O-O with compensation) 11. a3 Nc7 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 g5 14. Rae1? Unsound. 14. Bf2 is fine. 14… gxh4 15. Qxf5 Qe7 (15… Rg8 16. Nxh4 Be7 17. Qf2 Rg7) 16. Qg6+ Kd8 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nfd5 (18… Nd7 19. Ne4 (19.Rf7 Qg5 20. Qe4 Nd5) 19… Nd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Nxf8 23. Qxh6 Kc7 24. Nxb5+ Kb8 and white is a bit better) 19. Rf7? (19. Ne4! with a huge edge) 19… Qg5 20. Qd3 Rg8 21. Qf3 h3 (21… Nxc3 22. bxc3 (22. Qxc6 N3d5 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rf2 Nb6 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Bd7 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Qxa8+ Ke7) 22… Nd5 and black wins) 22. g3 Qd2 23. Re2 Qc1+ Now black should win. 24. Kf2 Qg5? (24… Bd7 wins) 25. Ne4! Qxe5 26. c3 Ne7? (26… Rg6 is fine for black) 27. Qd3+? (27. Nf6 is much better for white ) 27… Ncd5 28. Nf6 Qd6 29. Nxg8 Nxg8 30. Qh7 Nge7 31. Qxh6 Bd7?? A losing blunder. 31… Kc7 32. Qxh3 Kb8 33. Qh5 Nf5 34. Qh8 is equal. 32. Bxd5 Nxd5 33. Rf8+ Be8 34. Rxe8+ and it turns out white had the last laugh – 1-0 Tarjan,J-Gutierrez,J/Bogota 1979

5… e6 6. Nge2 Bd6 6… Nd5!? is interesting here. 7. O-O Be7 8. f3 Nxf4 9. Nxf4 is about equal.

7. O-O O-O Black can try to delay castling: 7… Nc6 8. Bxd6 cxd6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Bb3 exd5 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nef4 Bxd5 13. Nxd5 and white has some compensation.

8. f3 exf3 Playable is 8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.

9. Rxf3 Kh8 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Rd1 Re8 12. Bg5 Be7 Although it looks dangerous, 12…e5 was quite playable here.

13. Rh3 e5 14. Qe1!? At the time, I thought I was doing quite well with this ‘attacking retreat’. However, black does have a good move here, which Fishbein failed to find.


Position after 14. Qe1!? – not as great for me as I had thought.


This was the key moment. 14… Nxd4?? is very weak due to 15. Nxd4 Bc5 (15… exd4 16. Qh4 h6 17. Bxh6 Ng4 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qh7+ wins) 16. Qh4 Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Qd7 18. Nd5 and wins. The right move was 14… Ne4! 15. Nxe4 (15. Qh4? Nxg5 ) 15..fxe4 16. Bxe7 (16. Rxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qh4+ Kg6 does not work) Qxe7 and black stands better, having gotten out of the potentially annoying d-file attack by the white rook.

15. Qh4! White is much better now. Maybe black missed this simple move.

15…h6 16. dxe5 Bxg5? This is hopeless. 16… Bd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nf4 is terrible for black but still better than the text.

17. Rxd8 Bxd8 18. Qh5 Rf8 19. e6 Nce5 20. Nf4 From now on, there are numerous wins. White chose the primitive path of eating the most dangerous black pieces.

20…Kh7 21. Be2 Most effective is 21. Bd3! g5 22. Ncd5 Kg7 23. e7 Bxe7 24. Nxe7 gxf4 25. Nxf5+ Rxf5 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. Qxf5 Rf8 28. Qe4 and wins.

21… Be7 22. Ncd5 g6 23. Nxg6 Rather crude, but it works Black’s protection of h6 gets overloaded.


22… Bc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxe6 24… Nxg6 25. Bxg4 Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 fxg4 27. Qxg4 wins.

25. Nxe5 Rf6 No better is 25…Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Nxe3 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Qxe3 and wins.

26. N5xg4 fxg4 27. Qxc5 Raf8 28. Bd3+

Black resigned. He is down hopeless amounts of material. 1-0 To Fishbein’s credit, he did more than rebound from this first round defeat – he went on to get a GM norm!

In the middle rounds, I had “trouble” losing vastly superior games to Geller and Kaidanov and Avigdor Bykhovsky which I will come back to.  When in doubt, blame the payroll job.   The “Man” costs energy.

In the last round (round 9) this barn-burner occurred:

IM M. Ginsburg – GM A. Wojtkiewicz 2550 FIDE   MCC Int’l 1990, Round 9.  Saemisch Benoni

My first personal encounter with the humorous Alex who unfortunately passed away last year.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.f3 O-O 7.Bg5 e6 8.Qd2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 Igor Ivanov used to harshly criticize this move, saying the rook is much better placed on f8.

10.Nge2 Na6 11.Ng3 Nc7 12.Be2 a6 13.a4 Rb8 14.a5 Bd7 15.O-O Bb5 16.Na4 Bxe2 17.Nxe2 Nb5 18.Rac1

So far, both sides seem to be doing logical things. Now the game goes crazy.

Position after 18. Rac1.  Things get weird.


This move astounded me.  Black gambits king safety for initiative on a wing where there are no kings!

19.Bxh6 Bxh6 20.Qxh6 Qxa5 21.Nac3 Nxc3 22.Rxc3 Qb5 23.Ng3 Aren’t I checkmating this guy?

23…Nh7 24.f4 Qxb2

I really thought he had gone cuckoo for setting his king on fire in order to go after this b-pawn.  And maybe he had.  But I wasn’t up to the challenge (see note to white’s 27th).

25.Rfc1 Kh8 26.e5!

Obvious but nice. See prior comment.


Position after 26..Qd2!

Ingenious!  The lone queen to the rescue!  For some reason, I expected 26…dxe5 27. Ne4! Rg8 28. fxe5 and white wins easily.  Now I became disoriented.  To fight ingenious… one needs ingenious!


Wrongly forcing a draw.   The grotesque blunder 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Kh1?? loses, as 28…Qxe4 29. Rh3 g5! defends h7.  But white can torture some more with 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Nf2! Qd2 29. Ng4! Kg8 30. Ne3! with nasty ideas like 30…dxe5?? 31. Nf5! winning.  White keeps an edge.  This ingenious Ne4-f2-g4-e3 maneuver never occurred to me.  I didn’t have much time, but still this position is so “attractive” I should have worked harder to find something.

27…gxf5 28.Rh3 Qxc1+

With the grand fizzle – a perpetual check.

29.Kf2 Qd2+ 30.Kf1 Qd1+ 31.Kf2 Qd4+ 32.Kf1 Qc4+ 33.Kf2 Qc2+ 34.Kf1 Qd1+ 35.Kf2 Qd2+ 36.Kf1 1/2-1/2

It was a distinct relief to finally end this tournament.  Why?  When I fill in the report with the losses, you will understand. 🙂

And for Something Different

The Clock Punching Monkeys article in Chinese (translation requested by a curious Asian reader, I presume).  Click to enlarge.

Clock Punching Monkey Chinese Style

I just hope the Asian reader wasn’t trying to learn about monkeys and stumbled across this non sequitur.

The Fabulous 00s: Getting Here from There

July 10, 2008


Getting Here

There are many chess information sites in the Blogoverse.  How do mortals traverse from one to another?  Some clues are offered in web referral (referral = the site you were on just before you visited my site) logs and search engine terms logs.

 Here are today’s Referrers:


Referrer Views 7 2 2 1… 1… 1 1 1 1… 1 1

All-Time Search Term Leaderboard

The top three searches to get to my site from its inception until now are:

  1. Kramnik
  2. Elizabeth Vicary
  3. Mark Ginsburg


And here’s today’s search terms:


Search Views
kramnik 3
1970s pictures 2
chess blockader widipedia 2
elizabeth vicary 2
“1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4” 2
sicilian basman-sale variation 2
photo elizabeth vicary 2
ginsburg chess 1
paul keres 1
aries backgammon 1
novality chess set 1
famous 1970’s historical photos 1
mark ginsburg 1
tal the chess player 1
“rook ending” “4 vs 3” 1
gorlin the pawn 1
chess life, the jacklyn brothers 1
mark ginsburg md 1
jeremy chess ny 1
john fedorowicz 1
import database in chessbase database 1
70s clothing pictures 1
washington heights in the 80’s 1
diana lanni 1
gggg 1
classical king’s indian na6 “10 c5” 1
chess life , the jacklyn brothers 1
playboy maroc 1
lego patterns 1
undesirable guy bum 1
smith-morra computer 1
famous photo + ’70s 1
andrew lawrence drexel burnham 1
george monokroussos 1


Unrelated News Item:  The Evolution of This Site and My Chess.FM Sicilian Defense Opening Segments


As part of this chess history site’s exploding fame, I am being interviewed by prolific and controversy-ridden IM John Watson Friday July 11th for his Chess.FM show.  This coincides with the release of some of my Sicilian Opening segment Chess.FM lecture shows.  So far, with the help of  production engineer Andy McFarland (“Zek”) I’ve covered Smith-Morra from the black side (taking into account IM Alex Lenderman’s previous Chess.FM shows) and also the 2. c3 Alapin Sicilian, also from the black side.  The theme of the shows is demonstrating treatments for black that are sound and positionally well motivated.

In addition, if you visit my home page, you will see on the upper right a link to “Chess.FM Training Tips”.  This link gives you some of my computer-aided analysis suggestions you can use to refine my Chess.FM suggestions, and you can use the relevant subsections on my site (for Smith-Morra, for 2. c3 Alapin, and so on) to communicate feedback and interesting games you may have played in these systems.

The Fabulous 00s: The NY International 2008 Part Deux

July 1, 2008

More Games, More Drama

Here’s a barnburner I played in Round 3 vs. GM Michael Rohde.

IM M. Ginsburg – GM M. Rohde  Round 3, Hedgehog

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.O-O a6 7.Re1 Be7 8.e4 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 Of course the c4 pawn is not really hanging yet.  Black is just setting up a regular hedgehog piece placement.

11.Be3 Nbd7 12.f4 h5!? It’s a little unusual to do this at this exact juncture.  Some players like to go ….Rc8 and …Qb8 to attack the c-pawn “for real”.

13.Rc1!? 13. h3 is the most positionally careful but on this day I felt like throwing a knight into the middle (see move 14).

13…Ng4 14.Nd5! Maybe a TN!  It leads to what I think is a significant white edge.

Position after 14. Nd5!? – Maybe a TN!

14…exd5 15.cxd5 Qd8 16.Nc6 This is the point.  The pawn appearing on c6 will cause coordination problems for black.

16…Bxc6 17.dxc6 Nc5 18.c7?! Rather weak.  Correct is 18. Bd4! with excellent positional compensation.  This position merits careful examination to determine the ultimate worth of 14. Nd5.

18…Qxc7 19.b4 O-O 20.h3 Nxe3 21.Rxe3 h4!? If I were black, I would be more inclined to 21…g6!? but the text is positionally well motivated to gain more dark squares.

Position after 21…h4!? – the most aggressive choice.

22.bxc5 dxc5 23.Qg4 c4! Strong.

24.Kh1 b5 25.e5 Qb6 26.Re4! This is the only move to give black any problems.  Objectively black is better but it’s not easy with limited time to reach move 40.

26…Rad8 27.f5 Qh6 28.Rf1

Position after 28. Rf1.  Decision time.

28…Rfe8? In severe time trouble, black selects a nearly losing move. Correct is 28…f6! and black is much better.  The queenside majority is mobile.

29.f6 Bf8 30.e6! Naturally.

30…Rxe6 31.Rxe6 fxe6 32.Qxe6+ Kh8 33.Bd5! Rxd5 Pretty much necessary but now white has chances to win.

34.Qxd5 The position is now dangerous for black.

Position after 34. Qxd5.

34…hxg3?! 34…gxf6 looks better.  35. Rf5 could be met by 35…Qc1+.

35.Kg2? White gives away a pawn for no reason. Why on earth not first the natural 35. fxg7+ completely baring black’s king?  The queen and rook can then ‘bother” much more effectively and white has good chances to score the full point.

35…gxf6 Black’s king is now safe enough to draw.  Now both sides have very little time left and a set of fairly random moves appear on the board to get to move 40.

36.Rf5 Qg6 37.Rf4 Bh6 38.Qa8+ Kh7 39.Rg4 Qc2+ 40.Kxg3 Qd3+ 41.Kg2 Bg5 42.h4 Qe2+ 43.Kh3 A perpetual check is inevitable.

1/2-1/2 A tough struggle!

Last Round Thriller

IM Alfonse Almeida (2502, MEX) – IM M. Ginsburg  Round 9. Modern/Pirc

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bc4 In Round 1 IM Ron Burnett was successful with 4. Be3 c6!? 5. Qd2 b5!? playing black against IM Eli Vovsha.  The text move, the “Holmov Attack”, has been well studied by theory and is fairly harmless.

4…Nf6 5.Nge2 On the main move 5. Qe2, black has been doing well with the sharp 5…O-O!? 6. e5 Ne8, and the older 5…Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 is not refuted either.  The text should yield zero.

5…O-O The simplest way is 5…Nxe4!, but I was somehow probably unjustifiably worried about 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Nxe4 with some nebulous ideas of Ng5+ and Nf4 targeting e6.  After the game, my opponent gave his intention as 6. Nxe4 but then 6…d5 7. Bd3 dxe4 8. Bxe4 and black is completely fine with white’s odd knight placement on e2.   After the text move, the game becomes very sharp.

6.f3 c6 7.a4 d5 8.Bb3 dxe4 9.fxe4 e5! The usual reaction in the center, reminiscent of the Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3!? dxe4 4. fxe4 e5!?)  meets with a very nice response from white.  When I played 9…e5, I had no idea what white was up to and I thought he was just worse.  This isn’t the case.


Position after 9. Bg5! – I did not expect this move.

10…exd4 11.Qxd4 Necessary and interesting.

11…Qxd4 12.Nxd4 Nbd7 13.Rf1! The only move to keep pressure.

13…h6 14.Bh4

Now I had a bit of a think.  If I accept the pawn gambit I come under heavy pressure.  I opted for something else…

14…Ng4? This move, anticipating 15. O-O-O?? Ne3! winning, would be great if it were not for white’s next!

Position after 14…Ng4? – White has a shot.

15.Ne6! The opportunistic Almeida would not miss this.  As a testament to “how good” my opening was, I can play on with some pressure even after this brutal shot.

15…fxe6 16.Bxe6 Kh7 17.Bxg4 Rxf1 18.Kxf1 Nc5 19.Bf3 Be6 20.Bf2 b6 Black is doing the best he can, but his compensation is insufficient.

21.a5 Re8 22.axb6 axb6 23.Ra7? A huge misstep!  White had the simple 23. Rd1 with the idea of Rd6; white should convert that position to victory.  It is OK if he loses the a-pawn at some juncture if that means black’s dark-squared bishop leaves the board. After the text, white’s rook proves to be out of play as black generates unexpected counterplay against white’s king!

23…Kg8 24.Rc7 Bc4+ 25.Kg1 Ra8! Suddenly Bxc3 and Ra1+ are threatened!  White has to self-tangle.

26.Nd1 From this point on, the gamescore makes no sense.  Here are the right moves.

26…Bb5! A nice defensive motif. White’s rook is in serious danger of being trapped with Bg7-e5!  He has to resort to extreme measures and black is now off the hook.

Position after 26…Bb5!  Black wriggles out.

27. Bg4 What else? 27…Be5 28. Rc8+ Rxc8 29. Bxc8 Be2! 30. Nc3 This position is drawn.  Black just has to be a little careful.  The two bishops never become a factor.

30…Bxc3 31. bxc3 Nxe4 32. Bxb6 Nxc3 33. Bd4 Ne4 34. Bd7 Bb5 Black’s bishop and knight coordinate well.  White’s king cannot approach to do damage.

35. Be6+ Kf8 36. Bg4 Kf7 37. h4 h5 38. Bf3 Nd2! 39. Kf3 White offers a draw in light of 39…Nxf3.  For some reason on the site, the game continues to move 60 and rooks reappear on the board rather magically. Even worse for me, white is recorded as winning..  In fact, the game ended here peacefully.


Round 3 Sickness

Just for the sick blunderfest fans among us (I know you’re one), here is Ehlvest-Liu from the 3rd round.

GM Jaan Ehlvest – NM Elliot Liu  King’s Indian Defense, Round 3.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.e3 O-O 5.Be2 d6 6.c4 c5 7.Nc3 Soviet-style safety (SSS).   The chances are very high an American junior won’t know what to do.

7…h6 8.Bh4 g5 Here, the non-obvious 8…Qb6!? 9. Qd2 g5 10. Bg3 Bf5 is interesting on the grounds white would rather have his queen on c2, not d2.

9.Bg3 Nh5  The unusual 9…Qb6!? is interesting here too. 10. Qc2 Nc6 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. a3 Rfc8 with counterplay.

10.d5 f5 And here 10…Qa5 11. Nd2 Nxg3 12. hxg3 Bf5! offers an interesting game; black does not mind white weakening the dark squares considering his unopposed king bishop in the event of e3-e4.

11.Nd2 Nxg3 12.hxg3 Nd7 Offbeat but not ridiculous is 12…Na6!? 13. a3 Bd7!? 

13.Qc2 Nf6 14.f4 e6 15.fxg5 hxg5 16.dxe6 Bxe6 17.O-O-O Now, as if by magic, white has a strong initiative.  We have to credit white’s unusual system because the non-obvious variations above are all difficult to spot. After making some hackneyed KID moves (hunting down white’s QB and playing f5 to expose his own king) Black is in a very difficult situation.  GM Lein used to torture US Juniors in this line.  It must be a Soviet specialty. I did something like this as black against Lein Lone Pine ’80 (play rote moves and get a bad game) and also in my game I missed a win later when white overpressed.  Weird!

17…a6 18.g4! Qd7?! Since 18…fxg4 19. Bd3 is so bad for black, it’s hard to call it an improvement.  Nevertheless, the text puts the BQ on a very unfortunate square.

19.Rdf1 Now white is well on the road to victory with a huge edge.  I left the playing hall at this point having observed this dismal tableau for black.  But look what happens!  In fact, this phase might be characterized as a “hustle”  – Jaan starts missing win after win in the moves that follow; perhaps in the ‘anything wins’ mode?

19…fxg4 20.Bd3 The simple 20. Nd5! gets rid of black’s light square bishop and then the black king is fairly well toasted.  For example, 20…Bxd5 21. cxd5 b5 22. Bd3 is horrific for black.  For those who like tactics, here is a pleasing one:  21. cxd5 c4 22. Nxc4! Rac8 23. Kb1 b5 24. Bd3!! Rf7 25. Bh7+ Kf8 26. Nb6! splat!  The text move also gives white a big edge.

Position after 20. Bd3 — Something has gone very wrong from black’s point of view.

One of the things that makes Grandmasters strong is their vast experience with all kinds of opening systems.  Take for example the one Ehlvest played in this game (an old favorite of safety-first ex-World Champ Vassily Smyslov).  Liu played what so far seem to be quasi-normal moves and the diagram above looks like a simul crush.  I won’t embarrass either participant further with more diagrams, since the game degenerates now into an insane blunderfest.

20…Kf7 21. Run away!  But this shouldn’t have helped.

21.Nde4?! Ehlvest’s first (of many) failures to end the game in his favor quickly. 21. Bf5! is completely crushing.  Here’s a disgusting variation: 21. Bf5! Ke7 22. Bxe6 Qxe6 23. Qg6 Rf7 24. Rh7!  and black must resign in view of 24…Nxh7 25. Nd5+.  For sadists, examine the punching bag nature of 21. Bf5! Bxf5 22. Rxf5 Ke7 (what else?) 23. Rhf1 Qe6 24. Qd3 with total paralysis. 24…Rae8 25. Rxg5 Bh8 26. Rg6 Kd7 27. Nd5 Rf7 28. Rf4! Ref8 29. Re4! Nxe4 30. Nb6+!  (That devilish knight!) 30…Ke7 31. Rxe6+ and wins.

21…Ke7 22.Nxg5 Kd8 Necessary.

23.Bf5! Better late than never.

23…Bxf5 24.Rxf5 Kc7 25.Rd1? Extremely careless. 25. Rhf1 is overski:  25…Qe8 26. Qd3 Kc6 27. Nd5 and wins.  Black is paralyzed.

25…b6 26.Kb1 Rae8 White has bungled and almost his entire edge is gone.

27.e4 Qc6? Quite weak.  27…Kb8 is correct.

28.Rdf1?! Not the right timing.  28. Qf2! is right with a big edge after 28…Kb7 29. Qf4 or 28…Kb8 29. Qf4.

28…Kb7 29.a4?! 29. Nd5! is correct.

29…Nd7 30.Nd5 Rxf5? 30…Bd4 is much tougher.  The text allows a nice white win.

31.exf5 Nf6 32.Ne6?? White finishes it with 32. Nxf6 Bxf6 33. Nh7! – an elegant conclusion.  Black can limp on with 33…d5 (forced, any bishop move is crushed by f5-f6) 34. cxd5 Qd6 35. Nxf6 Qxf6 36. Qd3 and white should convert easily.  Was Ehlvest simply underestimating his young opponent after encountering very little resistance in the opening?

Bh8 33.Qd1? White is still winning after 33. Nec7 Rc8 (33…Re5 34. Nxf6 Bxf6 35. Nd5! also loses) 34. Rh1 Qd7 35. Nxf6 Bxf6 36. Nd5 Be5 37. e6! and wins.

33… b5 34.axb5? 34. Qb3! keeps a serious edge.

34…axb5 35.Qb3 35. Ndc7! is also strong here.  The weird thing is white is still better after the prior missed opportunities, but watch!

35…b4 36.Rh1?? A real lu-lu.  36.  Qd3! Nxd5 37. cxd5 Qa4 38. f6 b3 39. Qh7+!  Kb6 40. Qc7+ Ka6 41. Qxd6+ wins for white.  36…Kc8 is relatively best but white is still well on top. Clearly Ehlvest visualized something like this in his mind but his timing in the game is all vershimmelt.  36. Qd3 Kb8 is relatively best for black, but once again after 37. Ndc7! white is much better.

36..Nxd5 37.cxd5 Qd7 For the first time, black is back in it.  And here, 37…Qa6! was quite good with the idea of Ra8 and black is on the offense.

38.Qc4 Rc8? Time trouble?   38…Ra8! 39. Qxg4 Qb5!! 40. Qe4 Kb6!! and black has a huge attack!  But wait:  38….Ra8! 39. Rh7!! Qxh7 40. Qb5+ and a sudden perpetual check draw!   It would, of course, be difficult for white to reconcile himself to a draw after black’s opening butcheries.

39.Rh6 Ra8?! 39…Qa4! and white has to press the panic button with 40. Rh1 Ra8 41. Nxc5+! with a perpetual check, or 40…Kb6! (again this nice move) with a continued attack and no immediate draw.

40.Qe4?? White must have been in time trouble too.  40. f6!  is met by the nice bail-out sacrifice 40…Bxf6! 41. Rxf6 Qh7+ 42. Kc1 Qh1+ 43. Kc2 Qh1+ 44. Kb3 Qh3+ and this is a very pleasing perpetual check draw.

40…Qa4?? I am convinced, both sides were in serious time trouble.  Here, black had 40…Ra1+ 41. Kxa1 Qa4+ 42. Kb1 Qd1+ 43. Ka2 b3+ mating, or 41. Kc2 Qa4+ 42. Kd2 Bc3+! and now we’re in junior tactic land and black wins white’s queen for starters.

41.Nxc5+ Some good fortune for Ehlvest.  41…dxc5 42. Qe7+ is curtains. Lucky!  1-0

The moral of the story is, it’s not good to miss win after win.  One of them must be played!


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