Archive for the ‘The 2000s’ Category

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: The end of the 2009 USCL Season for the Arizona Scorpions

November 13, 2009

Scorpions Squished

San Francisco defeated the Scorpions comprehensively last Wednesday 3.5 – 0.5.

Some observations about the 2009 USCL season:

A) The Scorpions are a much improved squad with the addition of GM Alejandro Ramirez. In addition, we had more communication pre-match although sometimes players would switch away from openings they had discussed with other team members at the last minute, with highly variable results.

B) We still suffer from logistical problems since our Tucson site and our Mesa (greater Phoenix) site are quite far apart.  This leads to roster problems, scheduling problems, etc.   Even so, the Abstrax site in Mesa is phenomenal.   The Tucson site is much improved too since we added a separate commentary room to herd the noisy onlookers.  Although there still is texting and giggling sometimes in the playing room.  Levon could not hear Wolff’s draw offer, although his sound was on, due to that sort of “ambient noise” !

C) I hated being an Alternate and sitting by passively watching the playoff.  Both Aldama and I had played two games, but he somehow was not an alternate although the playoff was in Tucson and he could not travel.  Ugh!!!  So there I am in the commentary room and it was Veterans Day and we had only 1 or 2 spectators.  All I could do was read HA81 (a better name is PA for Passive Aggressive) trashing Krasik on various blog sites  and vice versa (Karmic that their teams lost as well as our battlin’ Scorps – but I do feel sorry for LarryC, he played really creatively vs. Kach).

D) One of our highest scoring members, David Adleberg, was away at the World Youth and missed the playoff!  Unlucky!

E) Many of our players suffered from playoff nerves, understandably so, and it showed in shaky playoff openings.

F) Switching away from nerves into the simply bizarre, although Naroditsky’s bizarre ….Ng4?!?! foray in the Poisoned Pawn opening actually “worked” in some sense, I am at a loss of words to describe it!

The game (Adamson-Naroditsky Board 3) went:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6!?

8. Nb3 Qe3+ 9. Qe2 Ng4 ?!?! (or alternatively !?!? it’s truly shocking – an OTB inspiration?  It’s illogical in its face, but has value in the USCL time control!)


Wow! So much for "don't move same piece twice"!

Now Robby found 10. Nd1!. The game went on 10…Qxe2 11. Bxe2 Nf6 and here probably best for white is 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. Ne3! +=. That horse always is thinking about hopping to c4. The computer reveals 13…Nc6 14. Kf2! to meet 14…b5 with 15. a4! +=.   The position is difficult for play, for example 14. O-O-O?! would take away this resource for white and forfeit much, if not all, of his edge.

Further note 11/16/09: based on feedback from IM John Donaldson, 12. Bxf6 gxf 13. Ne3 Nd7 idea b6, Bb7 might be all right for black.  John and I both studied Bg5 Najdorfs in the early to mid 70s. At least I was able to surprise Jakovenko recently in an ICC blitz game in a different Bg5 Najdorf.  John says the most “name” player to previously try 9…Ng4 was Litinskaya (2375), former Women’s Candidate.

Another way to play for white is 12. Nf2!? and castles short, keeping the bishop pair.  As always, white wants to avoid castling long in order to always meet b7-b5 with a2-a4. After 12. Nf2 white has a small edge.

In the game white elected to keep the bishop pair and appeared to be a bit better as well, but black developed surprising counter-chances later.

G) I have some funny pre-match video of the team yipping and yapping which I will post within 2 days.  (along with team amanuensis Ben Marmont and the ever-stylish Amanda Mateer).

H) Our squad, along with Amanda and Ben, did make it for one last Applebees at 11:30 pm. They closed at midnight. The waitress addressed Amanda by saying “Whaddya want, Lady?”  to great merriment.  I called Ben a “Frosty Haired Choad” stunning the waitress because I had just rented “I Love You, Man”.   Danny Rensch queried the waitress “ISN’T IT TRUE EVERYTHING IN APPLEBEES IS MICROWAVED I KNOW IT IS MY COUSIN WORKED THERE AND IT IS”?    The waitress was assured she was getting a big tip.

Rules Reform Needed in USCL Playoffs

I think teams getting draw odds in the USCL playoffs are too great an odds.  So do others, judging from blog posts I’ve seen around the league.  I understand the desire to give higher seeds an edge, but this edge is too high.  It’s an easy rule to reform and still bestow the desired small edge to the higher seed.

Here are some proposals.

A) A single Armageddon game between Board 1 (or Board 2 at the higher seed’s choosing) with the proviso the opponents must be within 150 points of one another.  It will last only 12 minutes maximum and add thrills, and yes, more chess to the playoff!  An Armageddon game, let me remind the readers is:   Black gives white  7 min. to 5 min. time odds in a blitz game, but white gives black draw odds.  A very tense situation.

The higher seed can choose colors in the game – I put in that rating differential proviso to avoid the absurd scenario of the higher seed fielding a 2900 vs a 2400 or some such.

B) Some other proposal (I’ll leave it open to readers’ imagination).

USCL Finals Coverage – Ben ‘n Me

This just in – ICC Chess.FM will cover the USCL finals.  GM Ben Finegold and I  will do the honors.  So visit or logon to ICC in December (but not too late, figure out when the finals actually are :)) and watch the final matchup!

Dan Scoones Enlightens the Canadians

Re: Best Chess Blog/Site

I would add the blogs conducted by Michael Goeller and Mark Ginsburg: interesting, and there are substantial archives.

For Happy News Click Me

Hot Danish chess chick Carina Jorgensen.

The Fabulous 00s: No Computer Allowed Quizzes

November 4, 2009

Test Your Insight

Here’s a set of tough positions.   Each has interesting strategical and tactical elements.  No computer engines!   The harder you work, the better off you’ll be. 🙂

In each case, I’ll ask a poll question about it.   Post your answer as a comment.

Note: 11/14/09 – I posted solutions directly inline after the diagrams.

Position 1


Black to play

To give you some context about position 1, this was Nakamura-Ramirez from a recent SEA-ARZ USCL match.

Consider the position with black to play.

Support your viewpoint with some verbiage or a brief variation.

Solution: 1…Rb8!! gives excellent winning chances.

Position 2


White to play

In Position 2, above, we have Rini Kuijf (NED) – Stefan Kindermann (W Germany) from the 1988 Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece.  It is white to play.  This is a surprisingly intricate position with many twists and turns. Solve the following poll and post a supporting variation in the comments.

Interestingly (note as of 11/5/09) the poll answers to date are mostly wrong on this one, so it reinforces my view that Position 2 is a very hard puzzle.  Leave a comment with what you feel is white’s best first move.

Solution 11/11/09: Actually both 1. b5 and 1. Nd5 are strong and should win with best play. 1. fxg6? e5! unclear is weak. But you have to be aware that 1. Nd5 Nxd5 2. exd5 Rc2!! 3. Bxg7 Qxd5! piece sac is possible and then be able to work out the path to an edge!  Similarly after 1. b5 axb5 2. Ra7 it’s not a lot of fun, but you have to work out long variations defusing the dangerous try 2…Qb8 3. Rxe7 Rxc3!?.

In some sense, 1. b5 is a little bit cleaner than 1. Nd5 because black gets temporary activity after the piece sae (see above).

The solution was made harder by the confusing poll choices.

Position 3


White to play

In Position 3, your task sounds  ‘simple’ but it is anything but – –  Maximize your winning chances as white.  This is an exceptionally difficult quiz position that was an analysis variation in the game Pasalic-Rensch, USCL 2009.

Try the poll and post a comment with a supporting variation.

This is a very hard quiz and I would rate it at 2500-level.

Solution:  1. Qxe4 Qxb4 2. Nh4! is an iron-clad win in the Q&P ending.

And in Other News

The Arizona Scorpions fell to the Miami Sharks, 3-1 today in the final regular season round of the 2009 USCL.  Our team felt a little bit like the following photo.


Hard to Keep the Eyes on the Prize

But what we really need in the playoffs is some combination of the personalities shown in the next painting.



Oh maybe just play like Eli Wallach.



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

November 1, 2009

USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

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

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

Fugly Caro  Advance

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



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

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

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


Knight Jump! Do it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other Week 9 News

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

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

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

Concluding Remarks

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


What if the World Had No Internet?

Amusing Postscript 11/10/09

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

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

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 8

October 20, 2009

Scorpions Sting Again; ICC Kibitzers Hopelessly Confused

Well, the Scorpions did it again!  They squeaked by the Chicago Blaze 2.5 – 1.5

Let’s see a very important ending on board 3 where Mehmed Pasalic (CHI) was battling Danny Rensch. A very dramatic battle with several key, instructive moments.

Pasalic (CHI) – Rensch (ARZ)  Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 e5 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 b5 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Qe2 Be7 11.Kh1 g6?! I don’t understand this move. I would just cackle. I can do …g6 later, usually as a reaction to white’s probe Nf3-h4 move.

12.fxe5 dxe5 13.Bh6 Ng4 14.Bd2 Nc5 15.Rad1?! After something like 15. h3 h5 16. a3, black’s knight is just hanging in limbo on g4 and white is better.

15…Nxd3 16.cxd3 b4 17.Nb1 h5 18.Be1 Qb6 19.Bf2 Nxf2+ 20.Rxf2 Qe6 21.Nbd2 0-0 22.Nc4 f6 Black’s kingside pawns look funny but white doesn’t have the right pieces on the board to exploit it.

23.Qe3 Kg7 24.Rc2 Rfc8 25.h3 a5 26.b3 a4 27.Qe1 Rd8 28.Re2 Ba6 29.Rc2 Bxc4 More foxy is 29…axb3 30. axb3 Rac8 and black can decide when or if to play Bxc4.

30.dxc4 axb3 31.axb3 Rxd1 32.Qxd1 f5 33.Re2 Rd8 34.Qe1 Bf6? 34…f4 kept the balance.

35.Qxb4 Rd3 36.Qb8! This is strong and black might have underestimated it.

36…fxe4 37.Qb7+ Kh6 38.Qxe4

White has control

White has control

After an up and down game, white is starting to assert himself.   It is starting to get really interesting, and this is when I started watching. It didn’t look good.

This is a good moment to pause due to a tactical nuance.

Here ICC kibitzers initially were calling for black to take on b3:  38…Rxb3.  Another kibitzer pointed out that this was not playable due to “38…Rxb3 39. Nd4!” so we thought it was unplayable. But go a little deeper!    39. Nd4 Rxh3+!! (a fantastic resource!) 40. Kg1 (40. gxh3? Qxh3+ and black is not worse at all) 40…Qb6! and black is only a little worse!


Both sides were running low on time.  Here white missed two clean wins.

The easiest, as pointed out by IM D. Fernandez, was 39. Rd2!!  Rxd2 40. Qe3+ Kg7 41. Nxd2 and white is completely winning, maintaining the e4 blockade.

The second choice, and very popular in ICC kibitzing (but inferior to Fernandez’s move but it’s harder to work out), was the more complicated 39. b4. After 39…Rd1+ 40. Re1 Rxe1+ 41. Qxe1 e4 it’s time for another interesting quiz.   What’s best here?  Answer to be posted later.

White to Play. Quiz Time (analysis)

White to Play. Quiz Time (analysis)

Position after 41….e4; White to play and win (analysis).  Can you solve it?

39.Nxe5?! White bypasses both of those wins, but as we shall see, this should have been winning too.

39…Bxe5 40.Qxe5 Qxe5 41.Rxe5 Rxb3

Yermolinsky Sets Us Straight

Most ICC kibitzers felt this was totally drawn.  Only GM Yermolinsky was wise enough to enlighten us – see comment to white’s 43rd move.

42.h4! The correct first step to fix the g6 pawn.


Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth


Only GM Yermolinsky recognized this as a blunder.  He laid out a winning plan that is foolproof and brilliant in its simplicity.  In hindsight obvious, but he is the only one that saw it among the gawking multitudes.  Put pawn on c5, he said, and prepare then put pawn on g3, and Rook on g5 holding everything, and move king to queenside.  Indeed, that pins black’s king to g6, and black is helpless against the white king shepherding the c-pawn.  A fantastic, simple in hindsight, and very aesthetic plan!  Black is completely powerless to stop its realization.

Clearly Pasalic missed it, but so did most of the ICC kibitzers.

43…Rc2 44.Rc7 Rd2 45.Kh2 Rd4! By bothering white’s kingside pawns, the black rook “latches on” and prevents any further progress. The Scorpions win the match by the narrow 2.5 – 1.5 margin!

46.g3 Rd3 47.c5 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 Rc2 49.Rc8 Kg7 50.Rc6 Kf7 51.Kf1 Kg7 52.Rc8 Kf6 53.c6 Kf5 54.c7 Kg4 55.Rg8 Rxc7 56.Rxg6+ Kf3 57.Kg1 Rc2 58.Rb6 Kxg3 59.Rb3+ Kxh4 60.Rb4+ Kg3 61.Rb3+ Kg4 62.Rb4+ Kg3 63.Rb3+ Kg4 64.Rb4+ Kg3 Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2

Wow!  A great fighting, titantic battle in the best USCL tradition!

Last year, I, too, held a draw in a bad game vs Pasalic to win a CHI-ARZ match.  Chicago must be getting tired of us!

What Else is New?

I’m involved in a fierce smutty movie debate with a female chess player on Facebook. Fear not, gentle reader — our debate is not smutty – only the movie is.

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 7 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

October 19, 2009

Let’s explore an interesting junior battle.

Gerald Larson (TEN) – Trevor Magness (CHI)  USCL Week 7

Ruy Lopez Exchange

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 (?!)

Let’s try NOT doing h3 yet (this committal move gives black a ready-made lever on the kingside).  I’m going to recommend here 6. d3!? Qf6 7. Nbd2 O-O-O 8. a4!? awaiting events.  For example, 8. a4 g5 9. h3 Bh5 10. Qe2! Kb8 11. g4! Bg6 12. Nc4! and white has an edge.  Delaying h2-h3 looks foxier. It also probably has the advantage of taking black out of the well-known channels.

6…h5! Of course! Known to be bad for white now is 7. hxg4 hxg4.

I enjoy junior games.  There will always be the sharpest twist on the most innocuous starting positions.  No theoretical verdict has been reached on this line.  Let’s see what happened…

7.d3 Qf6 8.Nbd2 Ne7 9.Re1 Ng6 White is fairly tied up now due to the pressure on f3.  His next move alters the structure but he could also eat on g4 at this moment.

Key Moment

Key Moment


After the only optically risky 10. hxg4!? hxg4 11. Nh2? Bc5! black had a big edge and won in Fressinet-Kazhgaleyev, Paris 1996.  Correct is 11. g3! and white holds after some adventure: 11. g3! Bc5 12. Nb3! Bb6 (Looks terrible for white, doesn’t it?  But… white escapes!) 13. Bg5 Qxf3 14. Qxf3 gxf3 15. Nd2 f6 16. Be3 Ba5! 17. c3 O-O-O 18. Rad1!! Rxd3 19. Nc4! and draws!

10…Nf4 11.dxe5

I guess it’s too much to ask for the nice trap 11. hxg4 hxg4 12. Nh2 Nxg2!! winning, as has occurred in a bunch of games.

11…Qg6! 12.Nh4! The only way to hold the balance!  Still, black can and should have posed problems before white reaches safety.

12…Bxd1 13.Nxg6 Nxg6 14.Rxd1 0-0-0 15.e6 fxe6 The foxy 15…f6!? is perfectly possible but it’s still equal.  15…f6!? has the virtue of keeping things relatively speaking more complicated.

16.Re1 Bb4?! 16…Ne5! sets practical problems and black has the easier time of it.  The text forces white to make a useful move.  Anyway, we’re far afield of the opening now — black’s setup passed the theoretical test!

17.c3 Bc5 18.Nb3 Bb6 19.Be3 Rd3 20.Bxb6 cxb6 21.Rad1 Rhd8 22.Rxd3 Rxd3 23.g3 Kd7 24.Kf1 Ke7 25.Ke2 Rd8 26.Rd1 Rxd1 27.Kxd1 Ne5 28.Nc1 Nf7 29.h4 Kd6 30.Ke2 c5 31.Nd3 g5 32.hxg5 Nxg5 33.f3 Nh7 34.e5+ Kd5 35.Ke3 b5 36.Kf4 a5 37.Nf2 a4 38.Ne4 Kc4 39.Ke3 b4 40.Nd6+ Kd5 41.f4 b6 42.c4+ Kc6 43.Ke4 Kd7 44.Kd3 Nf8 45.Ne4 Ke7 46.Nf6 h4 47.gxh4 Ng6 48.h5 Nxf4+ 49.Ke4 Ne2 50.h6 Kf7 51.Nd7 Nc3+ 52.Kd3 Nxa2 53.Nxb6 a3 54.bxa3 bxa3 55.Nd7 Nb4+ 56.Kc3 a2 57.Kb2 Kg6 58.Nxc5 Kxh6 59.Nxe6 Nd3+ 60.Kxa2 Nxe5 61.c5 Kg6 62.Kb3 Kf6 63.Nd4 Ke7 64.Ka4 Kd7 65.Kb5 Kc7 66.Ne6+ Kb7 67.Nf4 Kc7 Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

And Did You Know?

For those curious about iPhone chess engines….

flyer tells you: hi…tried Shredder vs. Hiarcs (both on iPhone)…Hiarcs won!

tell flyer u can play engine vs engine on a phone?
(told flyer)

flyer tells you: my friend’s vs. mine!