Archive for the ‘Rybka 3’ Category

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 10s: The Case of the “Forgotten” Move in the 2 Knights

April 5, 2010

Black Can Play Better in the 2 Knights!

Recently some games have appeared in the 2 Knights – they all share the same characteristic that a principal move for black is not mentioned!

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5!? The venerable, if somewhat time-wasting and primitive, attack on f7.

4….d5 5. exd5 Na5! The only good move.  Friedel has had some good results with the crazy Ulvestad lunge 5….b5?! but that looks unsound.

5....b5? Ulvestad's move just doesn't work!

6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3!?

Obviously self-blocking but white does have an extra pawn.  This is how Nakamura suprised Friedel in the competitively important last round of the US Championship last year.

8…Ng4! The best move!  Not played or MENTIONED in any of the recent games that have graced the virtual pages of Chess Life Online!

8...Ng4!, without a doubt the best move and unfairly ignored in recent press!

Why is it systematically ignored by:  Nakamura (in his notes to the Friedel game), Friedel (in HIS notes to the Nakamura game) and Molner and others in the Molner-Mitkov NAO 10 game? The move 8….Ng4! has history on its side.  It was tried out by none other than…. OK readers look it up!  Friedel played some slow Be7 and O-O and just lost due to white’s extra pawn.  Mitkov played 8….h6 and ….Nd5 and gained some activity but in the end Molner had, well, superior activity and the extra pawn.  I am baffled why it went without passing in ANY of the recent games’ annotations.

Stay tuned, I will post here further analysis on 8…Ng4!.  It has the distinct advantage of forcing white into passive situations, often with a compromised pawn structure.

The Fabulous 10s: Perplexizoid Dragon

February 28, 2010

The Inscrutable Dragon

A game from GM Baburin’s excellent daily newsletter ‘Chess Todaycaught my attention: from the recently concluded J. Polgar – G. Kaidanov Sicilian Theme Match held in South Carolina!  A big mystery lurks under the surface.. of course, the bigger mystery is why the Sicilian lost every game in the four-game regulation match!

[Event “Sicilian Theme Match”] [Site “Hilton Head SC USA”] [Date “2010.02.23”] [Round “2”]

[White “Polgar, Judith” 2687] – [Black “Kaidanov, G.” 2583]

[Result “1-0”] [ECO “B78”] [EventDate “2010.02.22”]  [Source “Chess Today”]

Typically for Judith, she follows the main line very strictly in the following sharp battle.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rc8 11. Bb3 Ne5 12. Kb1 Re8 (?!)

Perhaps it’s just me, but 12…Re8 looks passive.  Are there good alternatives?

13. h4 h5 14. g4 (?!) I don’t believe in this brute force approach but it’s very good in faster time controls.  Unless, of course, the opponent is prepared. :O Take a look at Sherzer-Shirov, given below, for the dangerous motif Be3-g5 aiming to get rid of the linchpin black knight.

14…hxg4 15. h5 Nxh5 16. Rdg1 e6?! This move has been seen a lot, but Golubev in Chess Today mentions 16…Qa5!? as playable.   Here is the mystery – in fact, my computer loves 16…Qa5 to death and gives black a huge plus.  Dragoneers, what’s the truth?

16...Qa5! Love it... live it.

For example,

16… Qa5 (Rybka – !) 17. Bh6 Bf6 18. fxg4 Nxg4 19. e5!?  (A tricky try) 19…Qxe5 20. Qd3 d5! (20… Qxd4?? 21. Qxg6+ mates – 21…Bg7 22. Qxf7+ Kh8 23. Bxg7+ Qxg7 24. Qxh5+ Nh6 25. Qxh6+ Qxh6 26. Rxh6#) 21. Nxd5 Bg7 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Qd2 e6 24. Ne7 Rxe7 25. Rxg4 Rh8 and black is very happy.  The text weakens d6 and this proves very important later.

17. Bh6 Qf6 ?! The computer prefers 17… Bh8! 18. fxg4 Nf6 19. Bg5 Bg7 20. Qf4 Rc5 21. Bh6 Bh8 22. g5 Nfg4 and black is all right.

Can anyone shed light on what’s really going on after 16…Qa5 – how good is it?

18. fxg4 Bxh6 19. Qxh6 Qg7 20. Qd2  Nf6 21. g5 Nh5 22. Nce2! Very strong!  Black is worse and went under in short order to direct attack.

22…Nc4 23. Bxc4 Rxc4 24. b3 Rc5 25. Ng3 Nxg3 26. Rxg3 Rec8  27. Rgh3 e5 28. Rh4! exd4 29. Qh2! White is just winning now.

29…Kf8 30. Qxd6+ Kg8 31. Qxd7 d3 32. c4 Qc3 33. R4h2 b5 34. e5 Qxe5 35. Rh7 R5c7 36. Qd6 1-0

Dragon Nostalgia

This game harkens back to the fantastic brute-force 1990 World Junior game Sherzer-Shirov. In this game, the exceedingly dangerous try 15. Bxf6!? was employed.

Sherzer-Shirov 1990 World Junior

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Be3 g6 7.f3 Bg7 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Ne5 11.Bb3 h5 12.O-O-O Rc8
13.Bg5 Rc5 14.g4 hxg4 15.Bxf6!?
An unusual method of removing an important defensive piece and well worth further study.  Students of famous encounters will recognize this theme from a Rauser variation battle Joel Benjamin – Vishy Anand Groningen 1993, annotated in Anand’s best games book.  Joel has also annotated it separately.  Anand came a millimeter from getting checkmated on the open h-file and won a thriller after some white miscues.  It’s rather unfair that both Alex Sherzer in this game and Joel came up short after executing a surprising new motif and getting a clear edge.

Benjamin-Anand Groningen 1993

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.O-O-O O-O 9.Nb3 Qb6 10.f3 Rd8 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.Bxf6! Bxf6
13.g4 g6 14.h4 a6 15.g5 Bg7 16.h5 b5 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.f4 b4 19.Na4 Rb8 20.Qh2 Kf8 21.Rd3 e5 22.f5 gxf5 23.Rh3 Ne7 24.Rh8+
Ng8 25.Rxg8+ Kxg8 26.Qh7+ Kf8 27.exf5 Bxf5 28.Qxf5 Qc6 29.g6 Rb7 30.Rh7 Qxa4 31.Qg5 Qe8 32.Bxa6 Re7 33.Bd3 e4 34.Bb5 Re5
35.gxf7 Rxg5 36.fxe8=Q+ Rxe8 37.Bxe8 Rg1+ 38.Nc1 Kxe8 39.a4 bxa3 40.bxa3 Bc3 41.Rh4 d5 0-1

15…Bxf6 16.f4 Nc4 17.Qd3 b5

I recently got an email query from John Anderson (London) asking if I had looked at 17…Qc8 here.  No, I have not. 🙂

18.e5! White is better now, but loses his way in the complications.

Bg7 19.h5 dxe5 20.Ndxb5 Nxb2 21.Kxb2 Rxb5 22.hxg6 Rxb3+! Wow!

23.cxb3 exf4 24.gxf7 Kxf7 25.Rh7 Qc8 26.Qd5+ Be6 27.Qe5 Rg8 28.Rd4 Bf5 29.Qxf4 Kg6 30.Rc4 Qe6 31.Rh2 Rd8 32.Qc7 Rd3 33.Rc6 Rd6 34.Rxd6 exd6 35.Rd2 d5 36.Ka3 d4 37.Na4 Qe3 38.Qc6+ Kg5 39.Rh2 g3 40.Rg2 d3 41.Qd6 Be5 42.Qd5 Qe4 43.Qd8+ Kg4 44.Rd2
Qf4 45.Rxd3 Bxd3 46.Qxd3 Qf8+ 47.b4 Qf3 0-1

In Facebook News

Nigel Davies recommended Ray Keene to me and Ray set a world’s record in prompt “confirmation”!  I saw Ray play at the Marshall Chess Club once in the early 1980s.

General Societal Decline Observation

I recently was forced to switch to AT&T having purchased an iPhone.  I had the misfortune of needing to dial 555-1212 (information).  A female robovoice chirped, “Let me give you some INFO!”   “Hold on… here’s the INFO!”   Whatever happened to the word ‘information’?    I didn’t like the robovoice getting all old-timey and folksy.

Maybe Society Not Dead After All

In a second, more uplifting, observation, I was following  Toyota Tundra on an interstate and the license plate was custom, “1 COWGRL”.   Near the plate I saw a bumper sticker and it said “If your going to ride my ass pull my hair.”   The most knee-slapping thing about this bumper sticker was the “your” instead of “you’re”.  Nevertheless, kudos to that particular Toyota Tundra driver.

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hedgehog chess opening 1
chess “two knights” ginsburg ulvestad 1
70s newfie jokes 1
lego tiger woods 1
play the sicilian kan 1
simone sobel 1
2 dogs fighting 1
sicilian defense all formations 1

The Fabulous 00s: Death of the Main-Line Ulvestad

December 31, 2009

Ulvestad – What is This?!

Some analysis of recent Friedel games caused me to double-check analysis of what looks to me to be a highly dubious opening: the Ulvestad!

In particular, Michael Goeller’s notes to MacKinnon – Friedel Edmonton 2009.

Here is what I consider the bust of the “Main Line” Ulvestad.  Goeller pointed me to some analysis from a book by “Pinski” but I think white can overcome it, as follows:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 3…Bc5 according to Karpov. There is something to be said for posting the bishop on the c5-f2 diagonal!

4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 b5 Putting a dangling pawn out on b5 is cute, 1800’s Romanticism and all that, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

6. Bf1 Nd4 The cold-shower computer hates, and I think quite rightly, the move 6…h6?! as in Zierk-Friedel, Las Vegas 2009, but we’ll consider that bust separately. There now follows a series of moves that results in black’s king going to d8.  Technicians are laughing.

7. c3 Nxd5 8. cxd4 Qxg5 9. Bxb5+ Kd8

K on d8, what the heck is this??

I am not a big “two knights guy” but the king on d8 makes for a very unhealthy impression.  If white can castle (and he can), then it should be lights out.  If I was guaranteed before the game black would wheel out this [insert perjorative], I would become a huge fan of 3. Bc4 – but there is the answer 3…Bc5!

10. Qf3 Bb7 11. O-O Rb8

The best try but black is hanging together by the proverbial thread. In a fast time limit USCL game, black (who didn’t have doughnuts, coffee, and/or both) played the immediately losing 11… e4? and white was most happy to reply 12. Qh3! winning.  That nasty reply threatens mate on d7. 12…Bc8  (this forced undevelopment is taking the already ridiculous Ulvestad to new lows) 13. d3! Qf6 (13… Nf4 14. Bxf4 Qxf4 15. Qe3 wins) 14. Qh5 Qxd4 15. dxe4 and white won quickly, Charbonneau – Schneider, USCL 2009.  To illustrate what a complete short-circuit 11…e4? was, the simple 12. Qxe4 also wins (and is the materialistic computer’s preferred choice) as black has no follow-up.

12. dxe5! Friedel escaped this crummy situation and even won after 12. d3? Qg6! in the MacKinnon game referenced at the start of this article. As Goeller points out, 12. d3? is “a known error since at least Leonhardt – Englund, Stockholm 1908.”

12…Ne3 The plausible 12…Nb4 13. d4! wins for white. The nasty point is 13…Qxc1 14. Qxf7! blammo.

13. Qh3! Threatening mate on d7 and forcing black’s reply. Already I think white is completely winning.  Take that, Ulvestad fans.

White wins. Oh, the Soviet boredom.

The matter is now up to plain old Soviet-style technique.  And it’s not difficult.  Black is now in the iron grip of a Smyslov or a Botvinnik or a Petrosian.

13…Qxg2+ 14. Qxg2 Nxg2

An elementary blunder is 14..Bxg2? 15. fxe3 and wins since B/b5 guards f1.

15. d4 Nh4 Alternatives are no better.  For example, 15… Be7 16. Be2 Nh4 17. Rd1 Nf3+ 18. Bxf3 Bxf3 19. Rd3 Be4 20. Rg3 and white should gather the point.

Note: I draw readers’ attention to a comment I just received:

“A possible improvement for Black could be 15…f6 as played in Chemeris(2265)-Petkov(2484) in 2008, where Black obtained some nice play after 16.Nc3, Nh4: 17.Be2, Nf3+; 18.Bxf3, Bxf3: 19.Re1, Rb4: 20. Re3, Bb7: 21. Ne2, fxe5: 22.dxe5, Bc5 with clear compensation.”

However,  15…f6 16. Be2! followed by f2-f4 wins easily for white.  Once f3 is under control, black’s compensation disappears and it’s smooth sailing for white.

16. Bg5+ Be7 17. Bxh4 Bxh4 18. Nc3 Bf3 19. Rab1! Goeller told me that Pinski gives 19. b3 here, following up for black with a similar …Rg6+ sac idea.  In any event, it looks like this position is a simple win for white – the Rg6+ idea does not work. Here is why:

19…Rb6 20. Bd3 Rg6+(?) Not good at all, but what else? – I consider this move only to bust Pinski; other moves that don’t lose material are stronger but white is left with a big plus and should convert.

21. Bxg6 hxg6 22. Rfe1! A simple defense, preparing Ne4.  I think black is totally lost.

White wins

22…Bg5 22… Rh5 23. Ne4! just wins.  23… Rf5 24. Ng3 Rf4 25. Re3 and wins.

23. Rbd1!! The star defensive concept which any technician would find immediately.  The timely return of some material is always the receipe to break a premature “attack”.  Worse still for black, the Pinski  …Rg6 “adventure” just resulted in mass simplification making white’s ending task easier.

23…Bf4 Depressing for black is 23… Bxd1 24. Rxd1 Bf4 25. Ne2! and wins.

24. Rd3!  Bxh2+ 25. Kf1 Bb7 26. Ne2 and wins!  Note how Nc3-e2 is so strong defensively in these lines.

Conclusion: the main line Ulvestad is hopelessly unsound.

Readers, any improvements?   I think we should go back to Karpov’s 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5! 🙂


GM Yozhik – IM Aries2   Ruy Lopez Cozio Madness

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nge7 4. Nc3 Ng6 5. h4 Nf4 6. d4 exd4 7. Nd5 Ne6


8. Ng5 h6 9. Qh5 Wow! This surprising move actually forces a draw in a bizarre way.

9…g6 10. Qf3 hxg5 11. Nf6+ Ke7 12. Nd5+ Ke8 13. Nf6+ Ke7 14. Nd5+ Ke8 15. Nf6+ Ke7 {Game drawn by repetition} 1/2-1/2

After the game I was in for another shocker: white told me he planned to continue with b2-b3!

Absolutely classic! When have you seen Ng8-e7-g6-f4-e6 before in the opening? 

An Indecent Proposal from China

I think the term “supper league” was the first signal all was not well in this email I received recently.

The CHONGQING LIFAN FOOTBALL CLUB intends to invite experienced coaches/players/expatriate capable of rendering expertise services the chinese national team and there clubs in the chinese supper league divison.their enthusiasm fed by huge media coverage.

To coach and provide leadership instruction to the chinese national team.
*Development of team strategies; analyze performance of football team and adjust strategies as needed.
*Coordinate team travel arrangements.
*Scouting and recruiting more players into the national team.
*Coordinate coaches clinic; supervise dress code for staff and team members.

Education and Experience:
Bachelor’s degree in relevant field,
SALARY: US$29,000.00, Monthly, can be transferred to any Bank or Country of your choice and all transfers must be made in conformity with the existing tax situation in China.
CONTRACT DURATION: 48 months (Liable for upward review depending on your commitment and expertise)
The Management hereby inform that you are to INCUR all expenses associated with the processing of your relevant papers for commencement of work.
The chinese football association will disburse Six (6) months Upfront salaries and relocation expenses on confirmation of your required documentation (including immigration papers) from the relevant authorities here in China

We hereby inform that if this Offer is acceptable to you, you are requested to send us an acceptance letter with your passport photograph via email, and your C.V/RESUME to enable us proceed with relevant processing.
We await your response in this regard.
Mr Cho Ti

Captain Christopher Pike before he was Pike


And in News from Denmark

Le roi est mort. Vive le roi.

The Fabulous 00s: Gentlemen, Test your Engines

December 4, 2009

Perplexing Sidelined Knight!

This highly perplexing ending just surfaced on ChessToday.Net (Mikhail Golubev commenting).  Thanks to chess enthusiast Kurt Stein for bringing this intricate ending, and the problems computer engines have with it, to my attention.

GM Viktor Laznicka (CZE) – GM Viktor Bologan (Moldavia)

World Cup  Khantiy-Mansiysk

As a preamble, I enjoyed GM Josh Friedel’s Chess Life Online narrative of the trials and tribulations just to get to this Siberian way-station. And then, to be eliminated practically as soon as one arrives is truly agonizing!

I thought it was bad enough to venture up to Toronto for a David Lavin tournament from New York City (taking People’s Express to Buffalo, then transferring to a bus across Niagara Falls and being faced with hostile customs questions) – this is worse. 🙂

Here’s the action after Laznicka launched a clever combination to put Bologan in quasi-zugzwang.

It’s a good position to test chess engines, because most scenarios are well beyond the engine horizon, even for the big names such as Rybka.

Position after 55. Kg2

Black to play.  Is this real zugzwang or quasi-zugzwang or pseudo-zugzwang?

Golubev indicates white is playing for a win, and that he surely is, but what’s the correct result?  A great computer test!

Black played 55…d4 here and lost slowly.  White’s king *carefully* approached the pawn and never allowed black knight fork tricks.

It is my contention that 55…Nb7!, shuttling between b7 and d6, draws if black leaves the pawn on d5 for the time being.  The point is, when white tries to approach the p/d5, THEN black gets fork tricks.


55…Nb7! 56. Kf2 Nd6 57. Ke1 Nb7 58. Kd2 Nd6 59. Kc3 Kxh4! – only now! and black is saved due to a fork.

Or, 59. Kd3 Kg4! 60. Kd4! is the only way for white to draw.  If 60. f6? Kf5! 61. Kd4 Ke6! wins for black.

In fact, there are some pure fantasy variations here with DOUBLE fork tricks!

Here is a really nice line from the start position:

55…Nb7 56. Kf1 Nd6 57. Ke1 Nb7 58. Kd1 Nd6 59. Kc1 Nb7 60. Kb2 Nd6 61. Kc3 Kxh4! (well-timed!)  62. Kd4! (not 62. f6? Ne4+ 63. Kd4 Nxf6 64. b7 Nd7) and look at this position:

Black to play. What's the best move?

Unbelievable analysis position.  It turns out black actually has two moves.

But NOT 62…Nxf5+?? 63. Kxd5 Ne7 64. Kc5! and the pawn queens – a common beginner’s error to snatch a poison pawn like this.  The mundane line is 62…Kg5 63. Kxd5 Nb7 and draws.  Hidden, though, is something much prettier.

62…Nc4!! Wow!!!  63. b7 Na5!! (Fork Trick #1) 64. f6? (64. b8=N! draws!) 64…Nxb7 65. f7 Nd8!! (Fork Trick #2!!)  and now forced is 66. f8=N (another under-promotion on a different square) 66…Kg5 and black has an edge (but not a forced win) in the resulting ending after 67. Kxd5 Kf5!  Wow!!    The multiple fork tricks and the multiple under-promotion defenses are really something special.

Conclusion: I don’t see any win for white if black just hangs tight with Nd6-b7-d6 shuttle, waiting for WK to approach.  Readers?

Thinking Your Way To Chess Mastery – 2nd Installment

The second installment of my live Internet-TV show has been postponsed to Monday, December 14th, at 2 PM PDT (5 PM EST). Register for free at Chess.Com and tune in (under the “Fun” tab on the right, you see the “TV” link).  This is different from most chess videos online because here you get people and chessboards, imagine that.  And live Q&A throughout.

Chess Today

I just started subscribing to GM Alex Baburin’s excellent, regular, chess periodical (emailed to the readers with PGN and CBV attached).   Good stuff!

In “CT”, I noticed GM Nakamura missed many chances to put long-suffering Ni Hua away, starting with the crunching 35. Rxh6 winning – for example 35…Ke4 36. e6! and fini.

My Laznicka-Bologan analysis (above) made it into CT Issue #3319.

And Readers Deserve to See

Maria Yurenok (photo from John Saunders London Press Release)

London Calling

The Fabulous 00s: New-Age Chess Programming

November 19, 2009

New-Age Chess TV Programming at Chess.Com

Chess.Com is using an interesting technology to beam chess “TV shows” on the Internet.  Not just a board with a voice that you replay from an archive; this is a live person, a board and a voice…. chatting with viewers…. like a simultaneous lesson…all live – can you handle it?  🙂

Viewers can chat in a separate window to interact with the lecturer in real-time which helps learning.

Already, IM David Pruess (the Content Manager for Chess.Com) has some nice TV shows there.

On Monday, November 23, at 2 PM Pacific Time (5 PM Eastern) I will inaugurate a live show on “Thinking your Way to Chess Mastery”.

This multi-part show will have me analyzing especially complicated GM struggles from recent events and leave every episode with a “cliffhanger” where the viewer is challenged to come up with a plan.  Often times, there are more than one correct plans, depending on taste and style!  The games will all feature tough, double-edged struggles between top players.  In the following week episode, I will “solve” the cliffhanger and hopefully this will prove to be very instructional.

And today if anyone is quick on the draw, Thursday, Nov 19, 5pm PDT we have:
Your Games, Analyzed – w/ IM David Pruess.

To see it, simply get an ID at, then tune into Chess.Com/TV.  If you forget this web address, the TV broadcast is located under the “Fun” tab at on the far right.

You will see this broadcast screen:

We Control the Vertical; We Control the Horizontal

But instead of a blank “OFFLINE” screen, you will be watching and learning with titled players, live.  😀

In Other Chess.Com News: Smart Phone “postal” chess

Chess.Com has also come out with a mobile application for smart phones (most brands supported).  It hosts “asynchronous” games between members where one player starts the game, then the other player can respond using a smart phone, and so on.

Here are the supported brands:

Nokia Samsung Motorola LG Blackberry
Sanyo Siemens Audiovox Treo SonyEricsson

Once you download the mobile application on your phone it will add a icon to your menu. You can then launch the program. You will need to login with your member name and password (you can choose to save your login info). Once you login you will see a list of the games where it is your move only. You can then view that game and make your move, offer/accept draws, resign, etc.

There’s also a similar app for the iPhone.  Consult the mobile information page for more details.

I don’t want to cause information overload, but….

Here is David Pruess’s short blurb about the same topic at the Chess.Com blogsite.

Week 1’s Chess.Com TV Exercise

Here is the exercise I gave the viewers in Week One (11/23/09).  We’ll solve it in Week 2 (11/30/09) and give a new exercise.

In the Becerra-Ramirez game (USCL 09),

(257) Becerra,Julio (2615) – Ramirez,Alejandro (2601) [B04]
USCL Miami vs Arizona Internet Chess Club (10), 04.11.2009

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6 6.Be2 Nd7 7.Nf3 g6 8.c4 Nc7 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 Ne8 12.Qd2 Nd6 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Nf6 15.h3 Nf5 16.Qd2 Qc7 17.Bd3 Ng7 18.Rfe1 Rd8 19.Qe3 Bf5 20.Bf1 Be6 21.Rad1 Nf5 22.Qc1 Qb6 23.Na4 Qa5 24.Nc5 Nxd4 25.Nxd4 Qxc5 26.Nxe6 fxe6 27.Rxe6 Rxd1 28.Qxd1 Rf8 29.Qe1 Rf7 30.b4 Qd4 31.Rxe7 Rxe7 32.Qxe7 Ne4 33.Qe8+ Kg7 34.Qe7+ Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

We went over in week one’s broadcat (11/23/09) how white can play for a win with 31. Qe3!?.

Your task is to identify another plan for white on move 31 that retains winning chances (but is entirely different; a question of style).

Add comments/ideas to my Week 1 Solution blog entry (no heavy analysis, just ideas).  You need to register to get a free Chess.COM ID if you don’t have one already.

-IM Mark Ginsburg 11/23/09 7 pm

The Fabulous 00s: Where is the Caro Complaint Department?

November 17, 2009

Kompliant Karo in New In Chess

In the 2009#7 issue of New in Chess, Nigel Short presents a Caro-Kann sideline that I tried as well in USCL action.

Caro-Kann Foxy Two Knights Foxy Deviation Line with 6. Be2!?

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3

Fischer used to play this just to get away from the tedious main lines.  Can the bishop pair count?  He certainly did not do well versus the likes of Keres (three times) in his early career (such as twice at the mammoth all play all four-times Bled Candidates ’59) when he coupled this idea with g2-g3, fianchettoing.  It was just too easy for black to play.

Fischer-Keres 0-1 Bled ’59 Part One

Fischer-Keres 0-1 Bled ’59 Part Two

Finally Fischer draws, Fischer-Keres 1/2, Bled ’61

5…Nf6 6. Be2!?

No fianchetto!  An interesting try.

Give up the center? Why?

The essence of this particular Caro deviation. White hopes for a miscue and in fact gets it right away!

6…dxe4 (?) 7. Nxe4 Nxe4 8. Qxe4.

In one game,   Short-Gagunashvili (2564) Calcutta Open 2009, there followed 8….e6 9. O-O Nbd7 and now Short found the “move of Frolov” (from 1990): 10. b4! with a significant edge.  In Merida 2001, Short had played 10. d4? versus Vishy Anand and got nothing, but Short and Rybka are both correctly enthused by 10. b4! – a nice move.

In the main game annotated in his article, Erwin L’Ami at the London Staunton Memorial 2009 played 8…Qd5 9. Qg4 Nd7 10. O-O Nf6 11. Qa4 Qe4 12. Qxe4 Nxe4 13. Re1 and black had not equalized.

So far so good, right?  However there is a problem.  Black’s 5h and 6th move combination is rather obviously not very good.  The essence is that there is no reason to rush to give up the center; doing so makes the two bishops count more (especially in the “Frolov Improvement Line” mentioned above).

I run into an Improvement

Try instead the move order from MG (ARZ) – L. Kaufman (BAL), USCL 2009,

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 e6! 6.Be2 Nf6!

Ye Olde Bricke Walle

This move sequence for black on moves 5 and 6  is so obvious in hindsight.

Where does it come from?  The games Fischer was tortured (see above links) vs Keres! Simply maintain the center with a rock solid game. White has nothing that I can see! So do I complain to Short, Short’s opponents for gilding this apparently attractive path, the NIC Editor for running the article without the improvement, or Larry Kaufman for being too prepared?  Or am I missing some hidden improvement?  To my mind, Kaufman’s moves look logical and what are my bishops doing?  Larry assists with Rybka programming and development, maybe this improvement is just “oude kuch” (stale cake, as they say in NIC Dutch language) to him and I stepped in some NIC doo doo.


See the USCL website for the rest of my crazy game. I tried an early pawn advance which didn’t work at all. The only thing I’ll say about that one is that black missed a nice knockout with 19…Nc5! with the very nasty idea of Nc5-b3, winning.

Spot the Problem

From the USCL website, a preview of tomorrow’s playoff match:

New Jersey Knockouts (9.0 – 2.0) vs New York Knights (6.0 – 5.0)
New Jersey receives Draw Odds

All Time Series Record:  (New Jersey leads 3 – 2)

Starts at 7:00 PM ET       Time Control – Game in 90 with 30 second increment    

New Jersey Knockouts New York Knights
GM Joel Benjamin: 2641 GM Giorgi Kacheishvili: 2666
IM Dean Ippolito: 2535 GM Pascal Charbonneau: 2560
SM Mackenzie Molner: 2446 NM Matt Herman: 2275
Sean Finn: 2114 NM Yaacov Norowitz: 2354
Avg Rating: 2434 Avg Rating: 2464
New Jersey Total ——- ——- New York Total

Astute readers will notice the problem: “NJ Receives Draw Odds.” Far too great an odds in a 4-person match (this is obvious, right?). Recently I canvassed readers for alternate solutions – how to give a slight edge to the team with the higher seed. The collective braintrust is still working. See the comments section of my prior post.

And in Marketing News of the Weird

My blog received a “comment”:

“[random site]  is currently in the progress of choosing chess blogs/clubs to receive recognition from [random site] as Top Resources. This award is not meant to be anything other than a recognition that your blog/Clubs gives information about tactics that directly or in directly raise Chess awareness. Simply place the award banner code on your site and your resource will be listed as a Top CHESS Resources on [random site] once you place it. [random site] is a Private Global Chess Server which offer FREE Chess Games and Guidelines for learning chess and whose goal is to promote Chess (which game has lost his fan base) through the spread of information globally. Thank you for your dedication to your Club/blogs. Please reply me back with the subject line as your URL to avoid spam and to make sure that you only get the award banner.”

I have a better idea.  Random Site must recognize my blog as the primary chess knowledge source in the known universe and place that accolade in an obnoxious scrolling LED style banner on their home page.  Then I will make a link to my new friends and my deserved accolade.  But the real take away lesson – when you have a bad position, just think to yourself “which game has lost his fan base ” and tell yourself it’s not yours.

Mystery Photo



Test Your Eastern Bloc Humor

Rate this on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “huh?” and 10 being “Mirthful indeed!”

What do you call one Russian? –A drunk.
What do you call two Russians? –A fight.
What do you call three Russians? — A Party cell

What do you call one Jew? –A financial center.
What do you call two Jews? –The World Chess Championship.
What do you call three Jews? –Native Russian Folk Instrument Ensemble.

What do you call one Ukrainian? –A partisan.
What do you call two Ukrainians? –A partisan cell.
What do you call three Ukrainians? –A partisan cell with a traitor in
their midst.


The Fabulous 00s: WGM Hou Yifan’s 8th Move Offends me to the Very Core of My Chess Being and Hanken foists some nonsense on CL Readers

February 5, 2009

Hou Yifan Offends and Wins

Corus “B” Wijk aan Zee 2009 [Round “12”] WGM Hou Yifan” (2571) – Vallejo Pons (2702)

Watch what young WGM Hou Yifan does in this game.  I could not believe it when I replayed it on ICC.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 g6 5. e5 Ng4 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. h3 Nh6 8. g4?

OMFG.  What a horrible move.  She gives up her light square bishop then opens up the d5-h1 diagonal to create a “fake bind” against the black knight on h6.  I wasn’t there, but Pons may have glanced at her with a pitying “you’re a beginner” look.  Pawns-don’t-move-backward.  The last time I saw a hideous lunge like this was the “fugly” Caro varation discussed in a prior post. The fact, as a commentator pointed out, that the move has scored well in Megabase 2008 means very little – it’s still incredibly unaesthetic.

So Fugly

So Fugly

Position after 8. g4? : Is Corus “B” a beginner’s sandbox? Then the game proceeded incomprehensibly (giving the false appearance of a smooth and logical white victory) which seems to have “tricked” newspaper columnists Peters and Kavalek by the Siren’s Song of the Final Result (a typical bias in the rushed day to day life of the newspaper writer).

8…Bg7 9. d3 f5 10. exf6 exf6 11. Qe2+ Kf7 12. Be3 Re8 13. O-O-O Kg8 14. d4 cxd4 15. Nxd4 Qc7 16. Rhe1 Nf7 17. Qc4 Qh2 18. Nce2 Qxh3 19. Nf4 Qxg4 20. Rg1 Qd7 21. Nde6 Qe7 22. Nxg7 Kxg7 23. Nh5+ Kh8 24. Bc5 Qe6 25. Rge1 Qxe1 26. Qxf7 Qxd1+ 27. Kxd1 Bg4+ 28. Kd2 Rad8+ 29. Kc3 Bxh5 30. Bd4 Rxd4 31. Qxe8+ 1-0 and the 2700-rated Pons had suffered a humiliating defeat.

My reaction at first when I played this continuation over is that Pons must have missed many ways to get a good game.  This was validated with Rybka 3 and indeed, Rybka found some really amazing resources for black.

Quiz for the readers:  how should black play after white’s 8th?  To help answer the question, what does 8. g4 do wrong?  Verbalizing the answer helps construct the responses.

1) It helps the player with the bishop pair try to open the game later with pawn breaks such as f6 or f5, or h5 after the N on h6 moves.  In addition, when the black king is safe and he breaks with f6, after white takes on f6, he can break again with f6-f5!  After the second break, black’s knight finds a great home on f7 attacking and defending.

Black only needs to be mindful to do this when his king has been secured (Pons forgot that).

2) It does not develop. Let’s now see the various ways black can react – by preserving dynamic potential and not letting his kingside pieces get hemmed in the “fake bind” of P/g4.  It’s a position where time is important, so black should try to do things with gain of time in order to wrest the initiative – a big factor with the latent power of the bishop pair.

And of course, king safety is a consideration – for both sides.   The “executive summary” is that black must try to expose the complex of weak squares that g2-g4 created. We start with the game moves 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 g6 5. e5 Ng4 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. h3 Nh6 8. g4? – I’m sorry, this move is just a lemon.

A.   8…Bg7 Safe and sound.  Pons played this. Let’s consider this last.

B.  8…Ng8!? Challenging.    Black dispenses with Bg7 and will hit right away with h7-h5 and we get some very unusual positions. Let’s see some sample lines. 8… Ng8 9. d3 h5 10. Rg1? (pretty much forced is 10. g5 Be6 11. Be3 Qd7 and now, e.g.,  12. Bxc5 Bxh3 13. Qe2 Bg4 and this is a position of “mutual ugliness” – for example, 14. Qe3 Bg7 15. d4 b6 16. Ba3 O-O-O and black is OK; there are other lines but black always has nice posts for his QB) 10… hxg4 11. hxg4 Nh6 12. g5 Nf5 and black has a great game.

C  8… c4!? Also very interesting.   Black dissolves his doubled pawns and retains the bishop pair for the time being. 8….c4!? 9. Qe2 Be6 10. Ng5 Going to nullify the bishop pair.  This sortie, moving a developed piece twice, fizzles out to equality. Note in passing Rybka 3 shows a truly amazing resource on the plausible 10. b3  cxb3 11. axb3 Bg7 12. d4 Ng8 13. Be3 h5 14. g5 Qd7 15. h4 Bg4 16. Rg1 Rh7!!  A fantastic, inhuman Rybka move 17. Rg3 e6 18. Ne4 Ne7 19. Nd6+ Kd8


Position after 19…Kd8 (analysis).  Rybka steered for this position (!!). 20. Nxf7+ Kc7 21. Nd6 Nf5 22. Nxf5 Bxf5 23. Kf1 Bf8 24. c4 Rf7 and black has juicy  compensation – an incredible line where black connived to leave white with useless pieces by suckering the active knight deep to f7 where it was then exchanged.  Did anyone expect the mysterious R on h7 to get so active? It could only do so by luring the WN to f7 to win a pawn.  A fantastic and original conception.

Going back to the move 10. Ng5, 10… Qd4! gums up the works. 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Qe4 O-O-O 13. Qxd4 Rxd4 14. d3 cxd3 15. Be3 Rd7 16. cxd3 Nf7 17. d4 c5 18. Rc1 cxd4 19. Nb5+ Kb8 20. Bxd4 (On 20. Nxd4 black has the cool 20…Bh6!  totally equalizing.  For example, 21. Nxe6 (21. Bxh6? Rxd4 22. Be3 Ra4  and black is on top) 21… Bxe3 22. fxe3 Nxe5 and it’s equal) 20… b6 and again this is equal.

Let’s go back to (A), 8…Bg7, as played by Pons.  Nothing wrong with this.  It develops and prepares castling. 9. d3 f5?!  Pons played this but there was no rush.  He could have simply castled with a fine game.  Once his king is safe, he can break with no qualms and black will being work against white’s weak squares. For example, 9… O-O 10. Be3 f6!  and it’s surprisingly safe to “lose” the c5 pawn.  White is way behind in development. In fact, this line is very easy to find and I’m surprised Pons did not do it.


Position after 9…f6! – not even a sacrifice.

A1.  11. Bxc5 fxe5 and black cannot complain.

A2.  11. exf6 exf6 12. Bxc5?!  Prima facie, very risky.   (12. Qd2 Nf7 13. O-O-O Qa5 14. Kb1 f5 15. gxf5 Bxf5 16. Nd5 Qd8 17. Nc3 b6 and black is fine, or 12. O-O f5 13. g5 Nf7 14. Bxc5 Re8 15. h4 Qa5 16. Bd4 Bxd4 17. Nxd4 Qb4 18. Nce2 c5! and black is doing well) 12… Re8+ 13. Be3 f5! 14. g5 f4 15. gxh6 Bxh6 and black is on top) The above sample lines give a rich idea of black’s resources.

Even in the game Pons was fully OK until later. Going back to the Pons game, his miscue was not fatal. After 10. exf6 exf6 11. Qe2+ Kf7 12. Be3 Re8 13. O-O-O Kg8 14. d4  he made a more serious misstep with 14…cxd4? opening the game at the wrong moment.  He had the rather simple 14… f5! 15. dxc5 Qe7!  with excellent play.  After, for example, 16. g5 Nf7 17. Qe1 (17. Rhe1??  Bxc3! 18. bxc3 f4 ooops!) 17… Ne5 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 and black has great activity.

Returning the the Pons game, 15. Nxd4 Qc7 16. Rhe1 Nf7 17. Qc4 Qh2 18. Nce2 Qxh3 19. Nf4 Qxg4 20. Rg1 Qd7 21. Nde6 Qe7?  Here is where he missed his last chance.  He had  21… b5!? hoping white will follow the tactical course in the game. After the tactical shot 21…b5!?, if 22. Qc3 b4 23. Qc4? (wrongly following the actual game’s tactics; 23. Qxb4! is correct with a white plus) 23… Qe7 24. Nxg7 Kxg7 25. Nh5+ Kh8 26. Bc5 Qe6 27. Rge1 Qxe1 and now if white plays as in the game, 28. Qxf7??  backfires horribly and gets White mated to 28… Qxd1+ 29. Kxd1 Bg4+ 30. Kd2 Rad8+ and the pawn on b4 plays a key part hemming in the white king.  So white would have to play 28. Rxe1 with a complex struggle.  After this missed final chance, Pons did indeed go down the drain.

Chess Life Editor Asleep at the Switch: Hanken allowed to write chess comments unedited and CL Suffers!

Jerry Hanken annotations cannot be passed through to the readership unedited!  In a recent February 2009 CL, Hanken “annotates” a main line Dragon.  But he goes horribly awry, puzzled over the main line move.    This would be bad analysis in even a state magazine; I hate to be the bearer of really sickening news, but here is what he wrote, incredibly enough, on page 29 of the 2/09 CL.

Sevillano – Khachiyan  American Open 2008 Dragon MAINLINE – BUT VIRGIN TERRITORY FOR HANKEN

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. N:d4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 This position has occurred in thousands of master games. Yet Hanken acts like he’s never seen it before. Sevillano played the normal and strong move 12. Bd4!.  Hanken, led astray by the RESULT of the game (a common blunder by would-be commentators, but CL desparately needs better), says “White’s move here is hard to understand.   He yields one tempo for what?” What an incredibly bad comment.  White, obviously, is shutting down the h8-a1 diagonal after the game continuation 12…e5 13. Bc5.  As master games have shown, white scores better than 50% from here, keeping the diagonal shut and black’s counterplay on the queenside, in most cases, is insufficient.  Check, for example, Friedel – Harper, Foxwoods ’08.  And many other games. White is not yielding a tempo.  He makes black block the diagonal, then repositions the bishop.    It is normal, strong, and postionally motivated.  A brief glance by any master would “reveal” this elementary conclusion. Someone MUST supervise Hanken’s comments or else there is no hope for CL.

Conclusion:  CL Editor, you must check Hanken’s chess notes and pass them off to a competent second set of eyeballs!  The net effect, as it stands, is that CL continues to be a laughingstock in the chess world.  It used to be different with Gligoric and Benko and Kavalek writing lengthy, thoughtful, articles.  Reclaim chess accuracy in the notes!

If you agree, I would think a letter to the CL Editor is in order.  Changes need to happen.