Archive for the ‘Chess Openings’ Category

The Fabulous 10s: Amanov vs Amanov Tangle in the USCL

October 3, 2011

Modern Benoni Debate

In the US Chess League, two Amanovs recently played one another.   They have the same last name, but are not related.  Mesgen playing white  is from Turkmenistan and Zhanibek playing black  is from Kazakhstan.

From the Chicago Blaze team’s blog, this entry by the winner, Chicago’s GM Mesgen Amanov.  He defeated IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA).  My comments in purple.

See this Stuff on an iPhone or iPad

My expanded comments are part of an iPhone/iPad app called “Chess U”.  It’s available from iTunes. 

Chess U is a free publishing platform and the Amanov battle is part of the “USCL 2011 – Volume 1″ course.  This app also contains courses by guest authors such as Levon Altounian and Marcel Martinez.

M. Amanov (CHC) – Z. Amanov (LA)  USCL 2011   notes by M Amanov

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. g3  I like Bishop fianchetto against Benoni

On the other hand the g2-g3 move is not one most aggressive lines; white has also e4, Bd3, Nf3, h3 (central strategy) which theory likes although GM Gashimov has upheld the black side a few times.

g6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O

Here we reached a tabiya of Benoni with a bishop fianchetto. Black has 3 options here:


[9… Nbd7 ;9… Re8 ]

It’s funny that Mesgen does not mention the weak 9… Na6? played by no less than ex-World Champ GM Mikhail Tal vs GM Korchnoi.  Korchnoi was rightfully critical of the move in his Best Games with White Volume.  Korchnoi rolled over Tal in a rather one-sided rout, but 9… Na6 still deserves a place in the list as the fourth move.

10. a4 Nbd7

[10… Re8 ]

11. Nd2 This position remind me a pleasant moment in my life when GM N. De Firmian played: Rb8?

Re8 [11… Rb8? 12. Nc4 Nb6?? Simply enough mistake, my opponent forgot to play Re8, let’s see what could happen if you do forget. 13. Nxd6! After this move game is over, due 13…Qxd6 14. Bf4 and the absence of Re8 doesn’t give black chance to block diagonal. But this is another story.  Ouch ]

12. h3 Rb8 13. Nc4 Ne5 This is what is considered the main line. Another option is Nb6 which leads to an absolutely different position where both sides playing on the queen side, black is preparing b5 and white is preventing it, if white knows what they are going they ended up in a better position. I recommend the “The Grandmaster Repertoire 1. d4 Volume 2” book by GM Boris Avrukh to see other variations.

14. Na3

This opening is a classic battle of chess ideas.  White moves his knight far aside in order to drive black’s knight back and then reoccupy the center with his knight.  The only question becomes, can black do anything with this gain of time before white realizes his plan and achieves total strategic domination?

14… Nh5 15. e4 f5   This variation leads to a temporary piece sacrifice.

The move f7-f5 is not necessary as black has non-sacrificial alternatives but a good choice at the USCL time control.

16. exf5 Bxf5 17. g4 Bxg4 18. hxg4 Qh4 19. gxh5 Now black sacrificed already 2 pieces, but soon white will be the one who will sacrifice something and black will remain balanced material


Sharp stuff

20. h6! This move is known and without it white would be simply lost

This is an interesting moment.  White is up two minor pieces and has the option here of 20. Bg5!? Qxg5 21. Ne4 Qh4 with further complications. I am not sure if white is lost here.  However, 20. h6!? may be the best move, but don’t rule out 20. Bg5 just yet until we check it further.  I’ll leave this placeholder to remind us to check 20. Bg5 more.  

20… Bh8 21. Ne4   We have followed a main line of the Benoni and only here in afore-mentioned book Avrukh volume 2, author recommends Nc4 with a little trap 21…Nxc4? 22.Qd3! White’s Queen transfers to h3 and kills Black’s attack. I could do that but was pretty sure my opponent would play the same move and position simply transposes to the main line.

Ng4 22. Qxg4 There is no other way of stopping checkmate; white has to give up the Queen.

Qxg4 23. Nc4 This moment is the first point when my opponent decided to take a serious thought, but I was sure he knows the position. The only question I had was “Did he analyze this position very deep over the board with a book say another 10-15 moves or he just looked at another 3-4 moves and checked with computer” As I knew computer gives advantage to black by -0.54 Houdini. Silicon brain does not understand this position. It is well known that engines are bad with a material imbalance like here with the Queen for 3 minor pieces.

There’s another factor here:  in the fast USCL time control, an active queen can wreak havoc in conjunction with other active pieces, even when faced by an army of three minor pieces.  This position may well be practically easier for black, keeping in mind the improvement on the next move.  The conclusion may be that this opening is a good choice by black in the USCL!

Key moment

23…b5   (?) It’s funny that Mesgen passed by this move without comment, but it’s a terrible move for black.   And as we see from Mesgen’s prior note, this was the first moment that Zhanibek had paused to think! This was one of the key moments.

23…b6! is much stronger to deny the a-file to white’s queen rook!  Take a look, black has excellent play!  White’s king is still not entirely comfortable. I will return to this in more depth soon.

24. axb5 axb5 25. Ncxd6 So far, I had played quick. I had analyzed this position maybe 6 monthes ago or more and did not exactly remember what would I do next

It’s funny that Mesgen had analyzed this position because it involves a black blunder, 23… b5?   Although it “seems normal” for black to expand with the typical b5 move, in this situation it’s weak because it gives white queen rook key perspectives to attack the black king.  Take that chance away, and black’s chances are significantly improved.

25…Be5 I kinda remembered what I shoud do here because I remembered that my King goes for a little walk to g3 in the main line and the only way to do so is to play f4.

26. f4 Bd4+ 27. Kh2 Rb6  This move was payed in a correspondence game.

28. Ra7 And here I am on my own. It took me 10 min to find this move, it turned out to be the best move! c4 29. Rc7N This move is novelty, but I woudn’t say a brilliant one. On the human level it’s a probably the best one, because if I play like in the correspondence game

when players can

check their analysis on the computer I should calculate next: [29. Bh3 Qe2+ 30. Rf2 Qh5 (30… Bxf2 31. Be6+ Kh8 32. Nf7+ Kg8 33. Nf6# ) 31. Rd2 Be3 32. Rg7+ Kh8 33. Nf7+ Rxf7 34. Rxf7 Kg8 35. Re7! only move, which impossible to find without computer on the deep depth. (35. Rg7+ Kf8 36. Rxh7 Bxf4+ 37. Kg2 Bxd2 38. Rh8+ Ke7 39. Bxd2 Qe2+ 40. Kg1 Qxe4 41. Bb4+ Rd6 42. Rh7+ Kf6 43. Bxd6 Qd4+ 44. Kh2 Qf2+ Leads to a preputual check! ) 35… Bxf4+ 36. Kg2 Kf8 37. Ra7 Bxd2 38. Bxd2 Qe2+ 39. Kg1 Qd1+ 40. Bf1 Qg4+ 41. Bg2 Qd1+ 42. Kh2 Qh5+ 43. Kg3+- Maybe next I’ll play it )) ]

29… Rd8? I felt this is a mistake, but for a long time, I could not find a refutation. I spent about 15 minutes before I found the best move! [29… Qh5+ 30. Bh3 (30. Kg3 g5 31. fxg5 Rxd6 32. Nxd6 Be5+ 33. Bf4 Qxg5+ ) 30… Rxd6 31. Nxd6 Be5 32. Rd7 g5 33. Nf7 g4 34. Nxe5 Qxh3+ 35. Kg1 with a prepetual Qg3+ ]

Black also has the immediate 29… Rxd6!? with interesting play.  Many tactical motifs involving g5 break and Be5 trick.   Black appears to be equal in both situations either checking with queen right away or taking on d6 first.

30. Bh3! Qh5 [30… Qh4 31. Nc8 Ra6 32. Ng5 Bf6 33. Ne7+ Bxe7 34. Rxe7 Qxh6 35. Rfe1 Qh4 36. Re8+ Rxe8 37. Rxe8+ Kg7 38. Be3 Rf6 39. Re7+ Kf8 40. Rxh7 Qe1 41. Bc5+ Kg8 42. Be6+ Rxe6 43. dxe6 c3 44. Rb7 Qh4+ 45. Nh3 c2 46. Rb8+ Kh7 47. Bd4 g5 48. Rh8+ Kg6 49. Rxh4 c1=Q 50. Rg4 Qd2+ 51. Nf2 Qxd4 52. f5+ Of Course I saw it ;30… Qe2+ 31. Rf2!! ]

31. Be3!! Very strong move! After this black is losing.

This was a nice shot and probably what Zhanibek missed.  Otherwise he would have thought again and found one of the drawing moves on move 29.

Qe2+ What else to do? Bxe3? Nf6+

32. Rf2 Qxe3 33. Be6+ Kh8 34. Nf7+ Kg8 35. Nfd6+ Pretending that I’am a professoinal. Before go any further I’am gaining some time.

Kh8 36. Nf7+ Kg8 I guess my opponent’s heart was squezed here with a hope of me playing Nd6+ with a 3 fold repetition.

37. Nxd8+ Kf8 38. Rf7+ Ke8 39. d6! If I wouldn’t see this move while playing Be3 or if I would not have this move position is equal according to a computer Qxf2+ probably desperation, but there is nothing left, as you can see in the following line: [39… Qxe4 40. d7+ Kxd8 41. Rf8+ Kc7 42. d8=Q+ Kb7 43. Qa8+ Kc7 44. Qc8+ Kd6 45. Rd8+ Ke7 46. Qd7+ Kf6 47. Rf8# ]

40. Nxf2 Rxd6 41. Ne4 Now it looks like I’m a simply piece up, but it is not true,

I’m threatening checkmate which is almost impossible to stop. Rxd8 42. Rb7 Bxb2 43. Bf7+ Here I premoved Ng5 with unstoppable checkmate,

but my opponent resigned. 1-0


This is a very interesting opening variation.  The way Mesgen played, with 20. h6!?, is not at all convincing, and after my improvement 23… b6! for black (instead of b5)I believe black has great play.  Check it out for yourselves!  Come back to this spot soon, I will provide additional lines.

The Fabulous 10s: Learning Tactics via ICC Blitz

June 19, 2011

Here are three very interesting 5 minute games I contested recently on ICC.

Use them as tactical training devices.

Game 1.

Impitoyable (Unforgiven) vs Aries2  Game/5  Keres Attack

Here’s more information about the Frenchman Impitoyable from his ICC finger notes:

Information about Impitoyable (Last disconnected Sun Jun 19 2011 15:10):

              rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Wild            2206  [1]   645   143    31   819   2301 (03-Jan-2011)
Loser’s         2037  [4]  1360   529    55  1944   2232 (10-Jul-2008)
Bughouse        1915  [6]    23    15     0    38   2011 (30-Nov-2006)
Crazyhouse      2244  [6]   863   307     0  1170   2307 (16-Feb-2008)
Bullet          2516  [8]  1229   543    83  1855   2706 (27-May-2008)
Blitz           3091  [8]   750   459   133  1342   3175 (29-Sep-2009)
Standard        2657  [6]   184    29    12   225   2682 (19-Nov-2010)
5-minute        2614       1237   445   181  1863   2726 (14-Oct-2009)
1-minute        2570  [8]  1493   945   121  2559   2570 (27-Jun-2010)
15-minute       2475         89     5     2    96   2475 (19-Jun-2011)
3-minute        2356        433   183    56   672   2519 (17-Apr-2011)
45-minute       1692  [4]     1     0     0     1                      
Chess960        2093        457   130    31   618   2213 (14-Jul-2010)

 1: “Impitoyable” : french title for the film “Unforgiven”, by and with C.
  Eastwood (and G. Hackman, R. Harris, M. Freeman …) ; but “impitoyable”
  means rather “pityless” or “mercyless” ; I will nevertheless accept takebacks
  for obvious mouseslips and ask for them … only in that case of course.
 2: International Master since 1996 ; maths teacher since 2001.
 3: Can you queen your f-pawn as early as move 18 playing black ? See my
  liblist, game Index 4 !
 4: You may improve your play in knights endings by analysing my defeat versus
  Vidocq, game numbre 16.
 5: You don’t get a chance each day to play as Morphy did at the Sevilla Opera.
  Egor Geroev-2 had this chance, see my  lybrary game number 18 (after 15 …
  Qxb5 16 Nc7+! ; Rxc7 17 Rd8 it’s exactly the same mate !)

He has a very good score against me overall.  I was looking to improve my statistics by following an obscure recommendation of Kasparov and Nikitin versus the popular Keres Attack.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Be3 Be7 9. h4 O-O 10. Qd2

Often times white likes to put his queen out on the aggressive h5 square.  Then, black can follow the same plan as in the game!

10…Nxd4  Part of a sequence that gives black freedom of movement.

11. Qxd4 e5 12. Qd1 Nb6!?

The interesting proposal of Kasparov and Nikitin from an ancient book on the Scheveningen.   White can opt to eat this horse with Be3xb6 to gain control of d5 but that move is definitely not on most attacking players’ radar screens.  They just want to give mate.

13. g6?!  This has to be too soon.

13…hxg6 14. h5 g5 15. Qf3 g4 16. Qg3 Be6 17. O-O-O Rc8 18. Be2 Rxc3! 19. bxc3

Black to play. Who's winning?

19…d5 20. Bxg4 Ba3+ 21. Kd2 Nc4+ 22. Ke2 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Qc8 24. Rhg1 Qxc3 25. Bxe6 Qxc2+ 26. Rd2 Qc4+ 27. Kd1 Qa4+ 28. Rc2 {Black resigns} 1-0

Why do I award black’s 18th move an exclamation point and then go on to lose in short order?  That’s the puzzle for you – identify the beautiful missed black win!  Immediately after the game I had the feeling I had blown a promising position but I didn’t know how promising until I checked with Rybka 4.  Embarrassing, black was totally winning!

Game 2

Let’s follow this embarrassing blown win with another embarrassing blown win, shall we?  This time we are dominating and crushing Logofet.

Some more information about Logofet:

Information about Logofet (Last disconnected Sun Jun 19 2011 12:08):

              rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Crazyhouse      1798  [6]     0     2     0     2                      
Bullet          2252  [8]   155   203    30   388   2433 (30-Jan-2006)
Blitz           2749       1404  1703   342  3449   3022 (21-Mar-2008)
Standard        2637  [6]     4     2     0     6                      
5-minute        2588       2563  1459   410  4432   2624 (30-Mar-2009)
1-minute        2250       4538  3640   525  8703   2508 (21-Aug-2009)
15-minute       1953  [4]     3     0     0     3                      
3-minute        1873  [8]     1     0     0     1         

I seem to remember that Logofet is GM Alex Lenderman.  Let’s see the game.

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Bd3 e6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Qe2 Nbd7 10. b3 O-O 11. Bb2

I love this attacking set up vs. the Hedgehog.  GM Nunn extolled its virtues way back in the early 1980s in a Philips & Drew tournament book.

I always show campers a forced win I missed vs GM Yudasin as well as a one-sided win over Teddy Coleman in the exact same line.  White’s pieces are all supremely active and pointed at black’s king.

Nc5 12. Bc2 Rc8 13. Rad1 Qc7 14. f4 a6 15. Rf3! g6 16. Rh3 Rfe8

It’s time to act and roll up Logofet.

17. e5! dxe5 18. fxe5 Nfd7 19. b4! Qxe5

19...Qxe5 Black's last gasp, or is it?

A forced sacrifice.  Dismal, but true.   Now I go nuts and hand my hand on a silver platter.

20. bxc5 Bxc5 21. Qxe5 Nxe5 22. Ne4 Nxc4 23. Nf6+ Kf8 24. Ba1 Red8 25. Rf1 Rxd4 26.
Bxd4 Bxd4+ 27. Kh1 Bxf6 28. Rxf6 Kg7 29. Rf2 Bd5 {White forfeits on time}

Challenge for the readers – point out the several wins I missed.  As a bonus, point out the easiest and most crushing of all the missed wins.

Game 3

Lest we get the impression I am always blowing winning positions, here is one where a nice tactic emerged and I also got the point.

FM Drunkenight – IM Aries2   Benoni

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 g6 4. d4 Bg7 5. e4 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. O-O Bg4 8. d5 a6 9. Be3 Nbd7 10. Nd2 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Qc7 12. Kh1 Rae8 13. f4 e6

This basic setup with a-rook on e8 I got from some obscure Spassky games dating back to the 1960s.

14. Rae1 exd5 15. exd5 Qb6 16. b3 Qb4 17. Ncb1 Ne4 18. Qd3 Ndf6 19. f5 Nxd2 20. Bxd2 Qb6 21. Nc3 Ng4 22. Ne4 Qd8 23. Bg5

Time to Strike

23…Rxe4!  A comprehensive refutation of white’s pin operation.

24. Bxd8 Rxe1 25. Bh4 Ne5!

Coup de Grace

This was a very pleasing move to play at the end of the combination!  A very unusual overloading where white’s queen cannot stay in touch with the rook.  Of course, White can resign now.  He played on, since it is blitz.

26. Rxe1 Nxd3 27. Re7 gxf5 28. Rxb7 Nc1 29. Rb6 Nxa2 30. Rxd6 Nb4 31. Rd7 Be5 32. Be7 Rc8 33. d6 Nc6 34. Rb7 Nxe7 35. dxe7 Re8 36. Ra7 Kg7 37. Rxa6 Rxe7 38. Rc6 Bd4 39. g3 Rb7 40. Kg2 Rxb3 41. Kh3 Rc3 42. Rc7 Rxc4 43. Rd7 Bf6 44. Rd6 Rd4
45. Rc6 c4 46. Rc7 Re4 47. Rc8 c3 48. Rc6 Re2 49. Rc5 c2 50. Rc4 Bb2
{White resigns}

Good times!  Well in Game 3.  Not in Games 1 or 2.

Shindig Chess

On June 14, an online tournament was held.  These GM players won in a five-round game/15 event:

Robert Hess 4.5
Giorgi Kacheishvili 4.5
Alex Lenderman4.5
Baadur Jobava 4.5
Bartosz Socko  4.5
There were 15 players in all.  I don’t know how the pairings were done, but guess how many of the winners I played?  1?  2?   No  3?  4?  No.
I played all the winner!  Every round, I was playing one of the above-mentioned guys!  A world record?  Never before seen in tournament play?  I think so!  Instead of dwelling on my bad result, here’s a great blitz game I played:
IM Aries2 – GM Baadur Jobava (GEO)
Mark Baadur
1 ♘f3 ♞f6
2 ♙c4 ♟g6
3 ♘c3 ♝g7
4 ♙e4 ♟d6
5 ♙d4 ♚0-0
6 ♗e2 ♞a6
7 ♔0-0 ♟e5
8 ♖e1 ♟c6
9 ♖b1 ♞c7
10 ♙d5 ♟cxd5
11 ♙cxd5 ♞h5
12 ♙g3 ♟f5
13 ♘d2 ♞f6
14 ♙f3 ♟h5
15 ♙a4 ♟h4
16 ♘c4 ♟hxg3
17 ♙hxg3 ♞h5
18 ♔g2 ♞e8
19 ♖h1 ♟f4
20 ♙g4 ♞g3
21 ♖h3 ♞f6
22 ♖xg3 ♟fxg3
23 ♔xg3 ♞e8
24 ♗e3 ♜f7
25 ♕g1 ♝f6
26 ♗xa7 ♜xa7
27 ♕xa7 ♟b5
28 ♕xf7+ ♚xf7
29 ♘xb5 ♝g5
30 ♖h1 ♚g7
31 ♙b4 ♝a6
32 ♘ba3 ♝xc4
33 ♘xc4 ♞f6
34 ♙b5 ♞d7
35 ♙a5 ♞c5
36 ♙a6 ♛b8
37 ♖a1 ♞b3
38 ♙a7 ♛h8
39 ♙a8Q ♝f4+
40 ♔f2 ♛h4+
41 ♔f1 ♛h1+
42 ♔f2 ♞xa1
43 ♘xd6 ♛h2+
44 ♔f1 ♛h3+
45 ♔f2 ♛h2+
46 ♔f1 ♛h1+
47 ♔f2 ♛h2+
48 ♔f1 ♛h3+
49 ♔f2 ♛g3+
50 ♔f1 ♛h3+
51 ♔f2 ♛g3+
52 ♔f1 ♛h3+
Time Remaining: 00:46 Time Remaining: 00:04

Draw  (this is the way Shindig outputted the game and emailed it to me).

Chess U News

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Recent developments:
  • Frank Johnson will author Chess-Coach 101, 102, and 103 for his chess schools and beyond.
  • Kamran Shirazi’s paper bag of recent scoresheets has been located and Jones Murphy and Kamran will select 10 good recent Shirazis for packaging into Shirazi 201.
  • I am working on Tal 301, a labyrinth of complications as one might expect.
  • Mountaindog is working on Classics 101, the ten most famous games of all time.
  • Marcel Martinez is working on Middlegame 201, 10 of his interesting efforts vs. luminaries such as Conquest, Hess, etc.

The Fabulous 10’s: Channeling A Vague Memory of a Friedel Game

February 10, 2011

A Familiar Schliemann

An ICC Blitz game in which I had to recall a miniature victory by White  where Josh Friedel beat Ray Kaufman convincingly in a Schliemann.   All I “knew” was that I had seen it via the USCL web page.  But, clearly, I had not (see below).

I tried to follow it!

IM Aries 2- GM Mandragoro  Schliemann

Before we start, a little about GM Mandragoro:

1: Account of GM Gerhard Schebler.Greetings from Duisburg Germany to everyone
2: No Takebacks please,i will never ask you too.
3: I am a chessteacher now for about 19 years and new students are always
wellcome :o)
4: I am still looking for a chessclub in France,Austria and maybe in your
country too.
5: Since i saw the film “Money as debt” i got interested in the biggest secret
called “capitalism”
6: No mass media is mentioning the biggest problem of our times.”exponential
7: “We can change”Obama said but can we change the system without seeing
another war?
8: Fur kleinere Einsichten :o)besucht bitte :Liebeangelamerkel de.Es lonht
9: There is much more truth inside of chess than in real life but maybe “we
can change”
10: When the nature strikes back we shouldnt ask why.Development doesnt always
mean progress !G.S.

Postscript Feb. 22, 2011 – curious about some reader comments, I ran Rybka 4 on this game and inserted some Rybka 4 evaluations.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Qe2 fxe4 6. Nxe4 d5 7. Nxf6+
gxf6 8. d4 Bg7 9. dxe5 O-O 10. e6 Ne5 11. Bf4 c6 12. Nxe5!  (?! – Rybka 4)

A Good Idea!

This was the key idea I got from Friedel-R. Kaufman.  White hangs the bishop on b5 (ignoring the threat of Qa5+).  I do not see any reasonable continuation for black.  What has gone wrong?

Rybka 4 is not so optimistic.  It gives 12. Bd3! as the best move, +=, and this sacrifice leading to equality.  The unaesthetic variations backing up 12. Bd3! are not pleasing at all, whereas the enterprising text is great especially in blitz.  Caissic injustice?   So in conclusion this “key idea” I remembered from a prior game is only sufficient for a draw, if black is prepared.


13. Bxe5 cxb5 (!)  It turns out (see below) that Ray Kaufman captured on e5 here with the bishop, but black lost quickly in that game.  Clearly unplayable of course is 13…Qa5? 14. c3 Qxb5 15. Qg4! and wins.

Rybka 4 likes the text move 13…cxb5 and says black is equal here.

14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. e7 Qa5+ 16. c3 Re8 17. O-O-O

Black’s king is just too exposed.  Something like this happened in the Friedel game. And after checking — indeed it did; the last (winning) move in the Friedel game was a rook lift!

Rybka 4 disagrees with all this.  It says both 17…Qc7 and 17…Qxa2 now are sufficient for equality!   Actually, it’s pretty clear that 17…Qc7! is a good move, since 18. Rhe1 (what else?) is met by 18…Qf4+ and now if 19. Kb1 Qe4+! gets the queens off and all danger disappears!

Qxa2 18. Qe5+ Kf7 19. Rhe1 b4 ? – Rybka 4

As a reader pointed out (see the Comments section), the ingenious 19..Qa1+! 20. Kc2 Qa4+ 21. Kb1 Qg4!! saves black (gives equal chances).  This is a very tough line for a human to find in blitz.

20. Rd4 (?!) {Black resigns} 1-0 As a curiosity, Rybka 4 gives 20. Rd3! as much stronger, although 20. Rd4 does win (takes longer).

I know a rook lift was employed too in the Friedel game.  OK enough vague memories, now I actually look up the Friedel game…

… … …

And … ta-dah!! Found it.  OK it wasn’t the USCL.  It was Foxwoods 2008!

[Event “Foxwoods Open”]
[Site “Connecticut”]
[Date “2008.03.21”]
[EventDate “2008.??.??”]
[Round “5”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Joshua E Friedel”]
[Black “Raymond S Kaufman”]
[ECO “C63”]
[WhiteElo “2531”]
[BlackElo “2369”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. Nxe4 Nf6 6. Qe2
d5 7. Nxf6+ gxf6 8. d4 Bg7 9. dxe5 O-O 10. e6 Ne5 11. Bf4 c6
12. Nxe5 fxe5 13. Bxe5 Bxe5 14. Qxe5 Qa5+ 15. c3 Qxb5 16. Qg5+
Kh8 17. e7 Re8 18. O-O-O Qc4 19. Qf6+ Kg8 20. Rhe1 Qxa2
21. Re5 1-0

This pair of games leaves me wondering about the Schliemann, it can’t be this bad for black, can it?

The Fabulous 10’s: King’s Gambit Mystery

November 7, 2010

King’s Gambit Mystery

In the finals of Cap d’Agde Rapid, 2010, we had Vassily Ivanchuk playing white against Hikaru Nakamura.  Actually, in the other rapid game with colors reversed, it was also a King’s Gambit! But let’s focus on this one.

The game featured a King’s Gambit mystery:

1. e4 e5 2. f4 Nc6 3. Nf3 f5?!


Pablo Zarnicki experimented with this in the past a few times, but I remember Khalifman writing white is better.  Doesn’t it look like black is trying for too much, too soon?  At any rate, Ivanchuk in this game quite surprisingly produced 4. d3 (?) to “avoid preparation”, I guess.  Although the game after 4. d3 (?) is dead equal.  The mystery is what does black do after the simple 4. exf5! – I don’t see an equalizer.

Sample lines:

4. exf5! exf4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3! guarding f5 6…Bd6 7. Nc3! (idea Nb5) Nf6 8. Qe2+! Qe7 9. Nb5! and white has the desired edge.


4…e4 5. Ne5 Nxe5 6. fxe5 Qe7 7. d4! (previously the weak 7. Qh5+? Kd8 was seen, giving black a free tempo on white’s queen after a later Ng8-f6; GM Hammer as black defeated GM Fier in a 2009 ICC rapid encounter.)  7…exd3 8. Bxd3 Qxe5+ 9. Qe2 Qxe2+ 10. Kxe2 d5 11. Re1 c6 12. Bf4 Nf6 (the computer likes the strange looking 12…h5 here) 13. Nd2 and white is happy.

Also, crazy lines occur after 4….e4 5. Ne5 Nf6 6. Nc3 Bd6 7. Ng4! Bxf4 8. Nxf6+ Qxf6 9. Qh5+ Kd8 10. Nd5! but white always retains some edge.

All in all, 4. exf5 must promise more than 4. d3 so I am wondering about that.  Will we see 4. exf5 when the line is tested again at a high level?

USCL Strange Double Blunder: Enkhbat Doesn’t Know It…Again!

November 2, 2010

Caro Double Blunder on the 4th Move!

In the recent USCL match Boston – Baltimore, we had this curiosity:

Esserman,Marc (2492) – Enkhbat,Tegshsuren (2425) [B12]
USCL Baltimore vs Boston Internet Chess Club (11), 01.11.2010

Caro-Kann Primitive Lunge Variation

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.g4?

A huge lemon!  Too soon!  Before we go on, read this article from 2009.

4. g4? - Known to be bad from 2009 USCL Action - LOL!


LOL! A gigantic reciprocal lemon!  Black misses a golden opportunity afforded by white’s premature pawn advance.  The right move, as you might have guessed, is 4…Be4!

Why?  With his 4th move, white is trying to get the bishop to go back to the horribly passive and self-blocking square of d7.  Black complies, but it was a bluff.  In many Caro variations, a bishop abandonment of the c8-g4 diagonal means white will get in the e5-e6 pawn sacrifice with good effect.  However after 4…Be4! 5. f3 Bg6, the e5-e6 move is downright weak, as a later Qd8-d6 eyes g3.  The details are in the prior article. Essentially by falling for the white bluff, black ruins his own game.  But if he knew the right move, he could exploit the weaknesses caused by white’s 4th.

5.c4 e6

At least Enkhbat should have tried 5…Na6! as he actually played in 2009!   The game could continue 6. cxd5 and now in 2009 he missed, but had at his disposal, the inventive 6…Nb4! with counterplay as was mentioned a year ago!

Talk about missed opportunities; these are opportunities already seen in Enkhbat’s prior game!

6.Nc3 Ne7 7.Nf3 Ng6 8.h4 Be7 9.h5 Nf8 10.g5 Na6 11.c5 Nc7 12.Be3 b6 13.b4 bxc5 14.bxc5 Rb8 15.Rc1 Rb2 16.Bd3 Qb8 17.Nd2 f5 18.gxf6 gxf6 19.Qg4 Kf7 20.Rg1 Ne8 21.Bxh7 Bd8 22.Bg8+ Black resigns 1-0

This game features, yet again, a double blunder on move 4!  4. g4? is very bad (it should be prepared with 4. Nc3) and then black inexplicably fails to exploit the opportunity by missing 4….Be4!.  The lemon 4…Bd7? has a pedigree – it was played by the great Tigran Petrosian vs Bronstein.  Yet 4…Be4! leads to an advantage in all lines for black.

We’ve seen this lemon line before in the USCL.   But the amazing thing is that Teshburen was involved in that game too. Incredibly, Charbonneau played 4. g4? against… the same Teshburen in 2009, who… played the weak 4…Bd7? – he didn’t learn from that incident!  However, Charbonneau, in a more recent USCL game, did demonstrate learning and found 4. Nf3! in Charbonneau-Kaufman  in earlier NY-Bal match action this year. White won that game convincingly after essaying a known gambit of the b-pawn.

The amusing thing about 4. g4? is that it really wrecks white’s game if black plays the simple 4…Be4! – white on no account wants to play f2-f3 but he has to!  With g3 weakened things go downhill!  Check the notes to Charbonneau-Teshburen for the gory details!

Fabulous 10s: The Holmov Attack Blitz Insano Variation

August 28, 2010

New Opening Trail that could only happen in blitz: 11 Consecutive Checks and Mate in the Opening!

From a recent ICC 5-minute tussle:

IM Aries2 – WIM Ellen-Hellen ICC 5 0   8/28/10

Pirc Defense, Holmov Attack

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bc4

The Holmov attack, always good in blitz.

4…Bg7 5. Qe2 Nc6 6. e5 Nd7 6…Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 is supposed to be good for black but who wants to play that in blitz?

7. Nf3 dxe5!!?

This move has been given in textbooks as losing.  However, black can play it!  The saving resource is quite hidden.

Tempting Fate

8. Bxf7+ “Of course”.  But this sacrifice does not win!

8…Kxf7 9. Qc4+ e6 10. Ng5+ Ke8 11. Nxe6 Qf6?? The saving resource for black is: 11… Nb6 12. Nxg7+ Kf8 13. Ne6+ Bxe6 14. Qxe6
Qh4!! defending against the threat of Bh6 mate and keeping equal chances! The text loses horribly.

Position after 14...Qh4!! (analysis).

12. Nd5!  Qf7 13. Ndxc7+ Now a droll series of checks start.

13….Ke7 14. Bg5+ 14. d5! wins prosaically: 14… Nd4 15. Bg5+ Nf6 16. Qc5+ Kd7
17. Nxa8)

14… Bf6 15. Bxf6+ Kxf6 16. dxe5+ Ndxe5 17. Qf4+? Missing the faster mate in 2: 17. Qh4+ Kf5 (17… g5 18. Qxg5#) 18. Qf4#

17… Ke7 18. Qg5+ Kd6 19. O-O-O+ Nd4 20. Rxd4+ The eighth check in a row!


Keep those checks going!

21. Qxe5? Fittingly, the right move is another check (ninth in a row!): 21. Rc4+!!  and in all lines the checks continue and end in mate!

21… Nxc4 (21… Kb6 22. Qe3+ Ka5 23. Qc5+ b5 24. Qxb5#) 22. Qd5+  Tenth consecutive check! Kb6 23. Qc5  11th consecutive check and mate!)

21… Bxe6 22. Qd6# {Black checkmated} 1-0

Question for Database Research

Readers, in the opening phase (defined as the first check starting before move 15) what’s the record for most consecutive checks?

And for Something Different:  The Mercedes-Benz E-mail Gambit!

This just received today.  Good times!

My name is Busayo green, I search and saw your email address on the net, i want you to know that i have a Mercedes-Benz that i want to give out but i don’t know if you will be able to take good care of the Mercedes-Benz for me. i have some problem with me that is why i want to give out the Mercedes-Benz because of the promise i have made to my husband before he pass away.I lost my Husband in car accident, he was on his way to pick up my Daughter from school that was where the accident happen, but police said that he might have lost his mind before the crash occurred. His car ran off the road and hit a tree.the driver of the car  that is coming at his back said the vehicle veered off the road and struck a tree, “No other vehicles were involved. There was no illegal or unsafe operation.he was going along just fine, but then veered into the median strip.”Before he die he brought a Mercedes-Benz for us, He want us to go on a long travel to don caster south Yorkshire England, with the Mercedes-Benz,he want all the family to go together, so before he pass away he said i should come and meet him at the hospital he told me that i should give the Mercedes-Benz out to  someone i don’t know, so that is why i am sending you this email, Let me know if you are going to take good care of the Mercedes-Benz for me.i know it will be hard for you to believe me. i want to give it out because i have promise my Husband that i will give it out, the more i see the Mercedes-Benz the more i think about him because i love my Husband so much i could not stand it anymore. pls take the Mercedes-Benz away from me and take good care of it. if you are interested let me know.
The Mercedes-Benz is in perfect working condition with nothing mechanically wrong – like new! The title is clear and I have already signed a release for the title to be transferred. You’ll also receive all the papers required for registration , owner manual, keys, a give contract already signed by me. I must inform you that currently I’m in Essex Uk where I’m staying. my daughter Sandra is schooling in London. Mercedes benz 500 S500 Auto 4 Doors, Automatic, Saloon, Petrol, ABS, Adjustable seats, Air conditioning, Alloy wheels, Computer, Cruise control, Driver airbag, Electric mirrors, Electric windows, Fog lights, Front armrest, Electrically adjustable seats, Headlight washers,Immobilisers,, Passenger airbag, Power assisted steering, Rear armrest, Remote locking, Radio/Cassette, CD changer, Side airbags, Rear headrests, Traction control, Private number plates, One year M.O.T, NEW Battery, Car do not have any scratch or dent’s, car is in very good condition, clean in and out
E-mail me for Pics

The Fabulous 10s: Chess and Online Media

July 26, 2010


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


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

Some reasons so far to use the engines:

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

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

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

Chukcha Jokes

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

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

He found the Lenin’s Tomb line instead.

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

How did Jinky Fischer Come About

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

And for Some Dutch Scenery

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

The Fabulous 10s: Copper State International

June 10, 2010

Copper State, Version 2!

The second installment of Danny Rensch’s Copper State International was a big success, especially for norm hunters.  The event was made possible by the generous support of John Lalonde and his Abstrax, Inc. playing site in Mesa, AZ.

Mackenzie Molner made a 2nd GM norm with a superb score of 6/9 in the “A” group round-robin and what a bunch of games he played!  In the “B” Swiss, numerous norms were made too.  All the games posted here are from the Monroi website.

GM Timur Gareev (left) watches as Mackenzie Molner shows him the last round Bartholomew-Molner game that gave Mackenzie a GM norm

Here’s Molner’s last round game, a romantic 19th century Evans Gambit!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Black “Bartholomew, John”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2439”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2451”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4

GM Nigel Short did much to bring this opening back at top-level.  Kasparov has also toyed with it.

4…Bxb4 As is well known, this gambit must be accepted.  Declining gives white an edge.

5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.O-O Bb6 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.Bg5 c6 13.Rad1 Qe5 14.Bxf7 Kd8 15.Ne2 Bc5 16.Bf4 Qxe4 17.Qg3 Rf8 18.Nc3 Qf5 19.Rde1 d6 20.Qxg7 Nd7 21.Bg5 Kc7 22.Re7 Bd4 23.Qxf8 Qxg5 24.Ne4 Qf4 25.Qe8 Be5 26.Ng3 Kb6 27.Rxd7 Bxd7 28.Qxd7 Rf8 29.Bh5 d5 30.Qxh7 Qd2 31.Bf3 Bxg3 32.hxg3 Ka6 33.Qe7 1-0

Weirdly, earlier in the tournament Bartholomew playing black lost to Stopa in… a similar Evans.  But in that game Stopa was dead lost and only Bartholomew’s time trouble made him go wrong.

And from Round 3, a game that won Molner the brilliancy prize (this prize covered both A and B sections):

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.05”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Shankland, Samuel”]
[Black “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2507”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2439”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5?!

The Blumenfeld “enjoys” a terrible reputation theoretically.

5.dxe6 This is one of those gambits that White does not need to take. In fact, the text move gives Molner what he wants; activity.

Strong, for example, is the straightforward 5. Bg5! (long known to be a dangerous weapon) 5…Qa5+  (the turgid 5…b4 is tougher, but leads to ugly formations where white has a2-a3 at his convenience) 6. Nc3! – surprisingly strong and not the focal point of most Blumenfeld theory.

Quick Development to Challenge the Blumenfeld

Now, it’s not fun for black.  For example, the impulsive 6…Ne4? (6…b4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4 is an uphill struggle for black with white enjoying a nagging plus) and now 7. cxb5! as white SHOULD have played in Kaidanov versus Robson, US Ch 2010, and other games.  White is better in all lines after 7. cxb5!.  This rather little known line is quite powerful versus the Blumenfeld.  One example line: 7. cxb5 a6 8. Bd2! (always, this) 8…Nxd2 9. Nxd2 axb5 10. e3! (not 10. e4? c4=, as occurred in a prior game) 10..c4 11. Qh5! – a devastating blow.  White wins after all moves, including the tricky try 11…Ba3!? 12. dxe6 dxe6 13. Nxc4! and the smoke clears with white a clean pawn ahead.

5…fxe6 6.cxb5 a6 7.bxa6 Bxa6 8.g3 Nc6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.e4? (10. Bh3!?) 10…Qb6 11.Be2 White’s 8. g3 now does not make sense at all.

11…Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Nd4 13.Nxd4?! (13. Qd1 Nb3! 14. Rb1 and white holds) 13…cxd4 14.Nd1 Qa5?! (14…d5! 15. exd5 Bb4+! is very strong)

15.Bd2 Bb4 16.f3 O-O 17.a3 Bxd2 18.Qxd2 Qa6 19.Qxd4 d5 20.e5 Nd7 21.Kf2? White misses a great chance for an edge with 21. f4! – for example, 21. f4! Rac8 22. Ne3! Nc5 23. Rd1 and now 23…Ne4? is met by 24. Nxd5!, winning for white.

21…Rac8 22.Ne3 Nc5 23.Rae1 Nb3? A serious blunder in an otherwise snappy game.  23…Qd3! is crushing. 24. Rd1 Ne4+ 25. Kg2 Rc2+!! forces mate!

24.Qd1 Qb7 Now white is right back in the game!

25.f4? The right move, not easy to find, is 25. Rhf1!

25…d4 26.Nc2 g5! Black’s attack flares up again!

27.Nb4 gxf4 28.g4? The final miscue. 28. Rhf1 was relatively best with a small black edge.

28…d3! Now Molner is in total control.

29.Qf3 Qb6+ 30.Kg2 Nd2 31.Qxd3 Qb7+ 32.Kh3 Nf3! Winning.

33.g5 Rcd8 34.Qa6 Nxg5+ 35.Kg4 Qf3+ Forces mate after 36. Kxg5 Rf5+.  A very imperfect game but exciting and unusual.


A very creative treatment in the Blumenfeld and an impressive relentless hunt of white’s king!

More Chess

A rout by IM Pruess playing black over a strong GM!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Panchanathan, Magesh”]
[Black “Pruess, David”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2549”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2361”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Qc7 8.g3 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Bf4 Nfd7 11.Bg2 g5 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.O-O Be6 15.a5 a6 16.e4 h5 17.Nd5 O-O-O 18.f4 gxf4 19.gxf4 Qg7 20.Nb6 Kc7 21.Qe2 Bb4 22.f5 Rd2 23.Qf3 Rg8 24.Qf4 Rd6 25.Qf3 Rd3 0-1

A last round rout by Pruess over the tournament leader GM Fridman!  Fridman had been leading by a full point but this shocking defeat sent him back to a three-way tie for first.  Fridman recovered and won the blitz playoff (over GMs Kacheishvili and Kekelidze).

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Fridman, Daniel”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2654”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4

As Pruess tells it, he wanted to see black play 3….e6 as he was in the mood to just play that closed game.  In the game, Fridman goes a much riskier route (Fridman has even written about this in magazines) but gets annihilated!    3….Qb6!? is all the rage and favored by Georgian grandmasters.  For example,  the recent game annotated in New In Chess, Nepomniatchi – Jobava saw 3…Qb6!? 4. a4!? with insanity.

4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.O-O Ngf6 8.Bg5 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Qb6 10.Nd2 Qxd4 11.Kh1 b5 12.Bb3 Be7 13.Rad1 Qb6 14.Qf5 Rd8 15.Nf3 g6 16.Nxe5!

It’s so pleasing to land an elementary and decisive tactical blow like this versus a tough professional who competes in the top German Bundesliga!  How often does it happen?  Not often!

Rf8 17.Qf4 Nxe5 18.Qxe5 Rxd1 19.Rxd1 Ng8 20.Bxe7 Nxe7 21.Qd6 Rg8 22.Qd7 Kf8 23.Bxf7 Kxf7 24.Rf1 Kg7 25.Qxe7 Kh6 26.Rf3 1-0

Here’s a smooth effort by GM Amanov, a contender for best game prize.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Amanov, Mesgen”]
[Black “Bercys, Salvijus”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2479”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2427”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Qc2 h5 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.Rad1 e5 15.dxe5 Qe7 16.e6 Qxe6 17.Rd6 Qe7 18.Rfd1 Nc5 19.R6d2 Be5 20.b4 cxb3 21.axb3 Bxg3 22.hxg3 a5 23.e5 Qxe5 24.Bxb5 O-O 25.Bc4 Kg7 26.Re2 Qf6 27.Re3 Ba6 28.Bxa6 Rxa6 29.Rf3 Qg6 30.Qe2!

Incredibly strong.  The rook on a6 is tied to the knight on c5; the knight cannot move, but the queen by force picks up the knight!  Black cannot defend it!

Kg8 31.Qc4 1-0

And the actual winner of the Best Game prize was this nice game by veteran IM Nikolai Andrianov, coming off a three year period of no chess!   His victim, talented young player IM Jacek Stopa, was one of the pre-event favorites by rating, but had a horrible start.  He recovered somewhat in the 2nd half.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Andrianov, Nikolai”]
[Black “Stopa, Jacek”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2409”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2474”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.Nf3 e6 2.b3 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 f5 5.Bb2 Nf6 6.O-O Be7 7.d4 O-O 8.c4 Qe8 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.d5 Na6 11.Nd4 Qg6 12.Nxe4 fxe4 13.dxe6 c5 14.Nf5 Qxe6 15.Nxg7 Qc6 16.Nh5 Bg5 17.h4 Be7 18.e3 Rf7 19.Qd2 h6 20.Rad1 Rd8 21.Qc3 Kh7 22.Rd5 Qe6 23.Nf4 1-0

My own play was unconvincing.  I made  solid draws as black vs GM Yermolinsky and IM Altounian but early on I had an incredible miss, one that I definitely thought about after it was over.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Troff, Kayden”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteELO “2393”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2201”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d6 7.d5 Ne5 8.Nxe5 Bxe5 9.Be2 Bd7?! 10.O-O Rc8?! 11.Be3 Qa5? This queenside demonstration greatly worsens black’s position, losing multiple tempi, and these are important tempi helping white with the break that he wants, c4-c5.

12.a3 Nf6? Leaving the bishop out to dry.

13.b4 Qc7 14.Rc1 a5 15.f4 White also had Nb5-d4 with a huge advantage.

Bxc3 16.Rxc3 axb4 17.axb4 h5 18.Bd4 With this forever bishop, white is winning easily.

Rg8 19.Re1 Kf8 20.Bf1 Bf5 21.Rce3 h4 Black is making rather aimless moves all over the board.  Well, he has to, he’s almost in total zugzwang already. But an important principle comes to mind:  if black has played very weakly so far (far below his published rating) he has to be good at something!  And that something in this game is resourcefulness in lost games.  Still, the position has put black well over the edge into losing territory.  White’s next elementary tactical blow requires only a small amount of accuracy.

22.Rxe7 One way to win. Another elementary win is 22. Qe2 and e7 collapses.    I am not sure why I did not look at the obvious 22. Qe2.  After 22. Qe2 black has to resign.

22…Qxe7 23.Rxe7 Kxe7 24.Qe1+ Ne4 25.Bd3

25. c5! wins.    25. c5! Rge8 26. Qxh4+ Kf8 27. cxd6 and black collapses. The text also wins.

25…Rge8 26.Qxh4+? What a bad move! The first simple miss.  26. Bxe4 Kf8 (forced) 27. Qxh4 Rxe4 28. Bf6! Ke8 and now do you see it?  I thought black’s king was running so I didn’t go for this line, but here white wins easily. The answer is the nice quiet move 27. Qh7! (I overlooked this) and the threat of Qg8+ and Qxf7 is unstoppable and wins immediately.

26…Kd7 Black takes his chance to run in another direction but this should have been hopeless.  For some reason, I started playing quickly for no reason and let him totally escape. Quite an upsetting turn of events.  From this point forward, my calculation ability was non-existent!

27.c5! Of course.  White is still winning.  So far, so good.

27…dxc5 28.Bb5+? White doesn’t understand that better is 28. bxc5! Nxc5 29. Bb5+ Kd6 30. g4! and wins. For example, 30…Bd7 31. Qf6+! (this is why white needs to get the black knight away from e4!) 31…Kc7 32. Bxc5! and wins.

28…Kd6 29.Be5+?? A terrible blunder.  If white had paused a little, there are two wins remaining.  Win 1.  29. Bxc5+ Nxc5 30. Qf6+ (this resource was never on my radar) 30…Kxd5 31. Bxe8 Rxe8 32. Qxf7+ and wins.  Win 2.   29. bxc5+ Nxc5 30. g4! and wins decisive material.

29…Rxe5 What am I doing? 30.fxe5 Kxd5 31.g4? Yet another terrible move blitzed out.  31. Qe7 keeps good winning chances.  For example, 31. Qe7 cxb4 32. Qxf7+ and white will also pick up b4 and should convert the win.

31…Be6 Now all the wins have disappeared.  What an amazing number of bad blunders to not win!

32.Qe7 cxb4 33.Bd3 Kxe5 34.Qxb4 Nd6 35.Kf2 Bc4 36.Qe1 Kd5 37.Qe3 Bxd3 38.Qxd3 Ke6 39.h4 Rc4 40.Kf3 b5 41.h5 gxh5 42.gxh5 Nf5 43.Qd8 Rh4 44.Qe8 1/2-1/2

In a later round I played another little talented kid and  played better, but only won one rating point.  That’s the problem playing little kids.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.07”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Gurevich, Daniel”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2007”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2393”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 a6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 d5 6.d3 Nf6 7.e5 Nd7 8.Bg2 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.g4 b5 11.Qe1 b4 12.Ne2 f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.g5 Nh5 15.Qh4 g6 16.Ng3 Ng7 17.Bd2 Bd6

White never took his chance to play c2-c3 or c2-c4 in the early stages of the game, moves he needed to get chances.

18.h3 Ra7 19.Nh2 h5! Stopping the obvious threat of Nh2-g4. Now white’s king side pawns are fixed awkwardly. 20.Nf3 Raf7 21.Ne2 Nf5 22.Qf2 Qc7 23.Nh4 Nxh4 24.Qxh4 Nd4! Simple chess.  The f4 point collapses and the game.

25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Rf2 Bxf4 27.Bxf4 Rxf4 28.Qg3 h4 29.Qh2 Qe5 30.Rxf4 Rxf4 31.Kh1 Qxg5 32.Rg1 Qf6 33.Re1 Kg7 34.Qg1 Rf2 35.Qh2 Qf4 36.Qxf4 Rxf4 37.Rc1 e5 38.c4 dxc3 39.bxc3 Bf5 40.cxb4 Rxb4 41.Bxd5 Bxd3 42.Re1 Rb1 0-1

In the fourth round, I was astounded to see this discredited opening appear:

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Ravichandran, Siddharth”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2454”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6? Amazing brinkmanship and a move I thought was unplayable!  Joel Benjamin annotated the game Hess-Lapshun in US Chess Online but both players were not familiar with that.   In the online notes, the variation is just kaput for black. Ravichandran had apparently consulted some other theory source.  Ravichandran said after the game he wanted to catch white by surprise with this.  Well, it’s a shock for sure.

White starts out responding in the best way.

6.e5! Correct and natural enough.

6…Bc5 Black blitzed this out; he has no choice.

7.Be3!? This move is not bad.   Hess found the more forcing 7. Nd4-b5! and now Lapshun lost miserably with 7…Ng8.  In fact other players have lost this miniature too.  The f2 pawn is untakeable.  Why?  The variations are nice.

For fun, look at 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 (8. Kd2?? Qe3 mate would be embarrassing!) 8…Nd5 9. Nd6+ Ke7 10. Nxd5+ exd5 11. Qd5 Rf8 12. Bg5+f6 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Qe5+!! and forced mate!

For completeness, 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 Ng4 9. h3! Ng4 and now white goes on a king walk to win: 10. Nd6+! Ke7 11. hxg4 Qf2+ 12. Kd3 Nc6 and now white can win a brilliancy prize: 13. Nf5+!! exf5 14. Nd5+ Kf8 15. Be3! and wins!  If black put his king on f8 in this line, white can vary with 13. Nce4! and wins a piece.

I asked Ravichandran after the game and he said he intended 7….a6.  Apparently his theoretical source points to that.  Well, it’s the best move!

Pruess said after the game (separately) he was concerned about the 7…a6 resource since 8. Nd6+ is not clear.

Some junior at the tournament ran 7….a6 through an engine and told me later on that 7…a6 8. Qf3! (a resource not seen by Pruess but known to his opponent) is strong.  Computer power! Nevertheless, 8. Qf3 Nd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 Bb4! and black can fight on with a worse, but defensible, position.  What did we learn?  Not much, except that black in this game was successful with the early brinkmanship!

7…Nd5 8.Nxd5 exd5 9.Nf5? A big lemon.  White must have miscalculated something.

After the strong 9. Nb5! white can still fight for an edge.  9…Bxe3 10. fxe3 Qxe3+? 11. Qe2 is terrible for black. He loses after, e.g., 11…Qxe2+ 12. Bxe2 Na6 13. Nd6+ Ke7 14. O-O Rf8 15. Nf5+ and wins.  Needless to say, taking on e3 is not forced. 10..O-O 11. Qd4! leaves white with an edge but again black can defend.   Another example line:  9. Nb5! O-O 10. Bxc5 Qxc5 11. Qd2 a6 12. Nd6 Nc6 13. O-O-O with a white plus.

Qxb2 10.Nxg7 At this stage, it was impossible to realize the computer recommendation of 10. Bd4 is stronger with equal chances.

Kd8 11.Bg5+? The real losing move.  White must have been totally disoriented and thinking about earlier missed chances. After this white is just dead.  11. Be2 Bxe3 12. fxe3 and white can play that position and have good prospects to draw.  11. Be2 Bb4+? is bad: 12. Kf1 and black can’t take on e5 due to Bd4.

Kc7 12.Bf4  Qc3+ A lethal intermediate check well known to Sveshnikov lovers, this occurs in many early Be6 lines of the Sveshnikov forcing white to do acrobatics.

13.Bd2 The problem is that 13. Ke2 Qc4+ 14. Kf3 Qe4+ 15. Kg3 Bxf2+!  wins.

13…Qxe5 14.Be2 Qxg7 15.O-O d6 16.Bf3 Be6 17.c4 dxc4 18.Qa4 Nd7 19.Qb5 Rab8 20.Ba5 b6 21.Qc6 Kd8 22.Rad1 bxa5 0-1

So this dubious variation is marginally playable and in the game above, even netted black a quick victory!  It seems a little unjust.

Something Different: Endgame Quiz

Consider this position from Berczes-Horvath  Zalakarosi 2010:

Black to play.

Can black draw?   If so, how many drawing moves are there?

GM Alejandro Ramirez (center) recycles girls

The Fabulous 10s: Trying the Ugly at the US Championship

May 21, 2010

News Flash May 22, 2010

Listen to my Chess.FM Video of Game of the Day, Round 8, US Chess Championship, St. Louis.

I’ll be doing Round 9 tomorrow (Sunday) also.

It’s free for everyone, including non-ICC members.

When Ugly Goes Unpunished

Young GM Ray Robson let fly with a very ugly opening (a Bad Blumenfeld) against veteran GM Gregory Kaidanov, quickly reached a lost game as a result of his choice, and then Gregory uncharacteristically let him escape.   I have noticed a theme:  when Slav players try to learn a second opening, they often choose berserker openings that, let’s just say, give them a handicap.  Chairman Mao would have labeled Ray a “reckless adventurer” in this game giving Kaidanov numerous white to play and win puzzles. Let’s see it!

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Date “2010.05.20”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Kaidanov, Gregory”]
[Black “Robson, Ray”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “E10”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5 This opening is actually not so bad, it is really black’s 6th move that is a culprit.

5. Bg5 Qa5+ 6. Nc3 Ne4? A terrible line moving the knight twice for no gain.  Marginally better, but still ugly, is 6… b4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4 Be7 9. Qd2 f5 10. Ng3 Bb7 11. e3 d6 12. Be2 and white enjoys a small but definite plus.6… bxc4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Nd2 is also a pleasant white plus.

7. Bd2?

Not the right reaction. 7. cxb5!  refutes black’s 6th move.  7… Nxg5 (very instructive is the bust to 7… Bb7? which is 8. dxe6 fxe6 9. Bd2 Nxd2 10. Nxd2 d5 11. e4! and it’s totally lost for black as in Borovikov,V (2472)-Sharapov,E (2387)/Sevastopol 2000) 8. Nxg5 Be7 9. Qd2 and white has a big plus.   7…Nxc3 8. bxc3 Qxc3+ 9. Bd2 Qf6 10. e4 and white, again, has a big plus.

7… Nxd2 8. Nxd2 b4 9. Nce4?! 9. Nb3 is better.  The text gives black free tempi.

9…f5 10. Ng5 Be7 11. Ngf3 Bf6 12. Qb3 O-O 13. e4 Re8? Better is 13… d6.

14. e5 Bxe5 15. Nxe5 exd5 16. O-O-O Rxe5 17. cxd5 Ba6 18. Bxa6 Qxa6 19. Rhe1 Qf6 20. Nc4 Re4 21. f3 Rxe1 22. Rxe1 Na6 23. d6 Rc8? Over-sharp craziness.  This should lose in multiple ways.  Necessary was 23…Qd4.  Uncharacteristically, white gets very confused now, perhaps precisely due to the surfeit of wins?

24. Re7 Nb8 Black was hosed no matter what.  For example, 24…Kh8 25. Qe3 and wins.  Now it should all be over very soon.

Can white not win?

25. f4? The first perplexing miscue.  The elementary 25. Ne5+ c4  (black’s “point”) 26. Qxb4 wins in short order.

25… h6 26. Ne5+ c4 27. Qg3? White has a strange allergy to 27. Qxb4! winning.

For example, 27…c3 28. Qb3+ Kh7 29. Rf7! Qxd6 30. Rxg7+! Kxg7 31. Qf7+ Kh8 32. Ng6+ Qxg6 33. Qxg6 and white wins.

27… Nc6? A blunder in return. 28. Rf7? And a blunder in return! 28. Rxd7! wins immediately.

28… Qxe5 Forced, but this should lose.

29. fxe5 Kxf7 30. Qf4? Oh, no!  30. e6+! is a nice clearance motif that wins. 30… Kxe6 (30… dxe6 31. d7 Rd8 32. Qc7 loses trivially as a piece hangs) 31. Qxg7 Kxd6 32. Qxh6+ and white wins easily with the passed h-pawn.  Now black survives!   White, like Vince Carter, missed some free throws to clinch the game (at several moments!).

30… Ke6 31. Qxc4+ Kxe5 32. Kd2 Rf8 33. Qd3 g5 34. h4 gxh4 35. Qe3+ Kd5 36. Qf4 Rg8 37. Qxf5+ Kxd6 38. Qf4+ Kc5 39. Qe3+ Kb5 40. Qf3 Rg3 41. Qf2 d5 42. Ke1 d4 43. Qf5+ Kb6 44. Kf2 Re3 45. Qh5 1/2-1/2

And for Something Different

King’s Gambit Action from the online blitz qualifier for Dos Hermanas, earlier this year!

White is former World Junior Champion Ilya Gurevich.  Black is strong German GM Jan Gustafsson. The game was “just” a 3/0 blitz game, but interesting nonetheless!

[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2010.02.26”]
[Round “8”]
[White “junior”]
[Black “GodGusti”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ICCResult “Black resigns”]
[WhiteElo “2931”]
[BlackElo “2923”]
[Opening “KGA: Kieseritsky, Berlin defense”]
[ECO “C39”]
[NIC “KG.01”]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ne5 Nf6 6. d4 d6 7. Nd3 Nc6 8. c3 Nxe4 9. Bxf4 d5 10. Nd2 Bf5 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. Bxe5 f6 14. Bb5+ c6 15. O-O fxe5 16. Rxf5 cxb5 17. Rxe5+ Be7 18. Qxg4 Qd6 19. Re1 Kd8 20. Qxe4 {Black resigns} 1-0

The Fabulous 10s: The Thing from Two Centuries Ago

May 18, 2010

Vienna Space Oddity

Hikaru Nakamura laid down what apparently was a fantastic bluff vs Alexander Onischuk in Round 4 of the US Chess Championship in St. Louis.   A bluff in the sense that Onischuk could have forced a favorable ending as black!  Let’s see how.

[Event “US Chess Championship”]
[Site “St. Louis”]
[Date “2010.05.17”]
[Round “4”]
[White “GM_Nakamura”]
[Black “GM_Onischuk”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteElo “2733”]
[BlackElo “2687”]
[Opening “Vienna gambit”]
[ECO “C29”]
[NIC “VG.03”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. f4 d5 4. exd5(?) Wow!  This just looks bad after black’s response.  In the past, white has tried 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. Qf3!? which looks pretty silly but actually contains some venom.  There is no reason to suspect Onischuk would not be prepared for that try, though.  However, it’s a legitimate try while this… is not. 🙂

4. exd5 - Revolting!

4…Nxd5 5. fxe5 Having said “A” white must say this “B” since 5. Nxd5, although played by many old-timers in European pastry cafes, is just horrible.

5…Nxc3 6. bxc3 Qh4+ This is a “winning attempt” for white?

7. Ke2 Bg4+! The cowardly 7…Qe4+? to regain the pawn is inferior.  Most players, even not particularly aggressive ones, will prefer the text which is quite a bit stronger.

8. Nf3 Nc6 9. Qe1! White is too smart to play the weak 9. d4? as occurred in Hamppe-Steinitz, 1859!   Black castled long in that game and won.  He could also play Be7 and castle short.  In either event, f7-f6 will pry open roads to the white king!

9…Qh5 ! Playable is the strange switch 9…Bxf3+!? 10. gxf3 Qa4! but black goes the more natural attacking route.

10. Kd1 Good for a laugh.  This was occurring on the top board of the US Championship!

Black to play and get the better side of a draw

10…Nxe5? A very strange black stumble.  The reason we won’t see this line anymore is 10…Bxf3+ 11. gxf3 Qxf3+ 12. Be2 Qd5! and 13. d4?? is unplayable due to the elementary 13…Nxd4.  But if d4 is not playable, white has problems!  Black retains a comfortable plus.  Let’s go a little further.   12…Qd5! 13. Rf1 (best) O-O-O! 14. Bf3 Qxe5 15. Bxc6 (what else?) Qxe1+ 16. Kxe1 bxc6 17. Rxf7 Bd6 and it’s not easy for white.  His pieces except for the lone rook intruder are totally undeveloped.  Black is better in that ending.   I think any of the old masters would have played this way without hesitation (choose from Emanuel Lasker, Botvinnik, Capablanca, Alekhine, Rubenstein).  Onischuk’s game move is bizarre and not good.

11. Be2! Suddenly white is completely OK  even with chances to get an edge if black is not careful!

11…O-O-O?! 11…Bd6 was playable and a bit stronger also but black is no better than equal in any line.

12. Nxe5 Bxe2+ 13. Qxe2 Qxe2+ 14. Kxe2 Re8 15. d4 f6 16. Be3 fxe5 17. d5! Apparently IM Shirazi won a game like this in the past with white… if Shirazi played it, it’s unsound!  (see note to black’s 10th move).

17…Bd6 18. c4 b6 19. a4 Rhf8 20. a5 Kd7 21. Kd3(?!) To play for a win, white had to try 21. Reb1 with the idea of 21…e4 22. axb6 axb6 23. Ra7!.

21…Rf6 22. Rhf1 e4+ 23. Ke2 Bxh2 24. Rxf6 gxf6 25. Rh1 Bd6 26. Rxh7+ Re7 27. Rh8 Rg7 28. Kf1 Bc5 29. axb6 axb6 30. Bxc5 {Game drawn} 1/2-1/2

Well, what can we say?  Onischuk played aggressively then switched to less aggressively and made a draw.  If he had played the best way on move 10 it would be white struggling.  A successful bluff to gain a half-point with even chances for more (see note to white 21st move)!