Archive for the ‘Chess Players’ Category

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)!

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

May 15, 2010

Round 2 Jitters

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

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

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

Check it out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25…Bc8 26. Re3 26. Nd3!

26…Rae7 27. Rae1 Bb7 27…Nd7!

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

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

30….Nxd5! 31. Ng4 Nxe3???

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

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

32. Nh6+ 1-0

Deathly Hex Hat - must burn it

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

One More Game from Round 2

Further chaos on a higher board…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s See One More

Moving back to a lower board, more jitters!

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

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

[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D89”]

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

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

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

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

A Missed Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

OK One More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fabulous 70s: The Anatoly Lein Chamber of Horrors

April 7, 2010

In the 1970s GM Anatoly Lein was a most feared competitor in US Swisses (along with his compatriot ex-patriot GM Leonid Shamkovich).  This dynamic duo ran rampart tearing up the field in many a major event.  It’s funny that back home, these feared emigres would not be favored to place in the upper half of a Soviet championship; it showed the difference in training very well.

The Man!

Lein had an imposing aura at the chessboard and was a burly, weight-lifting fellow. Here are some Lein games from the 1976 US Open in Fairfax, VA.  I learned, from ChessBase, that Denker’s middle name was Sheldon!  Imagine that.

[Event “US op”]
[Site “Fairfax”]
[Date “1976.??.??”]
[Round “12”]
[White “Lein, Anatoly”]
[Black “Denker, Arnold Sheldon”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “E27”]
[WhiteElo “2515”]
[BlackElo “2325”]
[EventDate “1976.??.??”]
[EventType “swiss”]
[EventRounds “12”]
[EventCountry “USA”]

I am not exactly sure how the lowly rated Denker finagled a GM title eventually but perhaps it was a homage to his lifetime contributions to chess in a general  sense as opposed to specific results.  I recall in the 70s and 80s there were a fair amount of “trade deals” going on between Federations where various players without enough norms (or any norms!) would get reciprocal titles to satisfy both parties.  If I am not mistaken, I think Mednis and Soltis got a title like that (with deficient and/or insufficient norms), but I need to check that.  Mednis was the quintessential journeyman although one cannot forget he managed to beat Bobby Fischer (Fischer often had freak-outs vs the Winawer before he righted his own ship in the Fischer-Larsen candidates match, where his treatments of  Winawers were on a higher plane). Deals were possible because often a USSR title contender simply had no chances to play in norm-creation events yet had an absurdly high ELO rating.  (I once played Bareev before he was a GM and his ELO was 2585!).  Thus the USSR would have their guy and we would have our somewhat deficient guy and a deal was struck. On the other hand, some candidates of ours were rock solid such as Jim Tarjan who proved himself by winning a strong US Championship. The FIDE back-room deals were frequent and hard to follow.  And, in a perverse turn of events, sometimes the USCF leadership (inept and/or corrupt) would neglect to apply for a legitimate title if they had personality problems with the applicant!

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 O-O 6. Bg5 d6 7. f3 c5 8. e4 Qa5 9. Qd2 cxd4
It’s really not good to undouble the white c-pawns like this in a Saemisch, giving white the bishop pair for free.  Too much respect?

10. cxd4 Nc6 11. Ne2 h6 12. Be3 Bd7 13. Nc3 Rfc8 14. Be2 e5 15. d5 Nd4 16. Bxd4 exd4 17. Qxd4 b5 Coffeehouse play… white, as befits a solid USSR player, calmly develops and black runs out of steam.

18. O-O bxc4 19. Rfc1 Qc5 20. Qxc5 Rxc5 21. Rcb1 Kf8 22. Kf2 Rac8 23. Rb7 Ra5 24. a4 Be8 25. f4 Nd7 26. Bg4 Rb8 27. Rxd7 Bxd7 28. Bxd7 Rb2+ 29. Kf3 Ra6 30. a5 Rb3 31. Bb5! Splat!

Ut oh

31…Rxc3+ 32. Ke2 Rc2+ 33. Ke3

Did you enjoy the rather sadistic entombing of black’s rook on a6? I did, Lein did, probably his opponent did not.  This game was a complete walk-over and not a real test for Lein although it did, according to the database, occur in the last (money) round.

Moving right along to 1977, here is how Lein derailed my red-hot start at the World Open.  This game is not in conventional databases (somebody feel free to add it!).

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.03”]
[Round “7”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark” 2212]
[Black “Lein, Anatoly” 2507]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A07”]

The ratings are given as a historical curiosity.  Note that in 1977, Lein’s rating of 2507 was absolutely astronomical.

1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6 3. Nf3 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. d3 O-O 6. Nbd2 a5 7. e4 a4! An exclam for weirdness.  I could not predict any of his moves around here.

8. a3 Nc6 9. e5 Nd7 10. Re1 b5 11. Nf1 Na5 12. Nd4 c6 13. f4 Qb6 14. Be3 c5 15. Nf3 Nb8 16. g4 Nbc6 17. Ng3 f6 18. Qe2 fxe5 19. fxe5 Bd7 20. h4 b4 21. Kh2? Nd4!  Oops! Now white has a very bad game.  Typical of juniors, though, I just battled on and soon I got my chance!

22. Nxd4 cxd4 23. Bg5 Bxg5 24. hxg5 b3 25. Rac1 bxc2?! (25… Qd8! is cleaner) 26. Rxc2 Qd8 27. Nf5 Qxg5 28. Bxd5! (28. Rc7 Rad8 and black wins.  The text move is a very good practical try and at this point I had taken 82 minutes; the time control was the strange 40 moves in 110 minutes.  Black, on the other hand, spent 14 minutes on his reply moving him up to 87 minutes.  He also had a bit of a freak-out, demanding that the TD move us to a board far away from the stage (he said the stage was too noisy).  I didn’t object to this request. So off we moved and the game continued.

28… Qf4+? It’s not totally easy to see, but 28…Rac8! wins.

29. Kh3 exd5 30. e6?? A hallucination.  After the correct intermezzo 30. Rf1! Qg5 31. e6 Bb5 32. e7!  the excelsior e-pawn saves the day.  For example, 32…Rfe8 33. Qe6+ Kh8 34. Nd6 Qxe7 35. Nf7+ Kg8 36. Nh6+ Kh8 37. Nf7+ and a perpetual check.

30… Rxf5 This wins.  To show how bad white’s move was, 30… Rae8! won too.  But one must see 31. Rf1 Qb8! (only!) 32. Nxg7 Re7 33. Rxf8+ Qxf8 and wins.

31. exd7 Rff8 32. Qe8 Rd8 33. Rc8 Look at me, I have a lot of heavies on the 8th rank.  But it’s not enough, and I succumb to zugzwang and a slowly advancing black g-pawn!  Oh no!


33…Nb7! Basically white can give up already.  No more ideas!

34. Re7 g5! Come on, resign!  35. Re5 Qf3+ 36. Kh2 Qf2+ 37. Kh3 Qh4+ 38. Kg2 Qxg4+ 39. Kh2 Qf4+ 40. Kh1 Qf6 41. Re6 Qf1+ 42. Kh2 Qf7 43. Re5 Qf4+ 44. Kh1 g4 45. Qe6+ Kh8 46. Qe8 Qf1+ 47. Kh2 Qf2+ 48. Kh1 g3 49. Qxf8+ It’s rather sad that I didn’t know how to resign at this point.

49…Qxf8 50. Re8 Kg7 51. Rxf8 Kxf8 52. Rc7 Nd6 53. Rc5 Ke7 54. Rxd5 Ke6 55. Rxd4 Rxd7 56. Rxa4 Nf5 57. Re4+ Kf6 58. a4 Rxd3 59. Re1 Rd2 60. b4 Nh4 61. Rf1+ Kg5 62. Kg1 Rg2+ 63. Kh1 Rf2 64. Rg1 Rh2#

Another victim of the Anatoly Lein chamber of horrors!  I dropped off the leader board. As a digression, to show how I got *on* the leaderboard, here is my interesting Round 6 win over Canadian IM Lawrence Day.

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.03”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Day, Lawrence”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A04”]

1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. d3 e5 7. c3 Nge7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 b6 This setup for white isn’t bad, but over the next few moves he starts playing passively.

10. Be3 h6 11. Ne1 Be6 12. Nc2  Rc8 13. bxc5? (An inexplicable choice. 13. b5 Na5 is double-edged and certainly not worse for white)

13… dxc5 This is just very pleasant for black.

14. c4 f5  15. Nc3 f4 16. Bc1 Qd7  17. Nd5 g5?! The computer likes 17…Bh3 best.

18. Rb1 Bh3 19. f3 h5 19… Nxd5 20. exd5 Nd4 21. Nxd4 Bxg2 22. Kxg2 exd4 23. Re1 is pretty much zero for black.

20. Bb2 Rf7 Now it’s about equal again.

21. Rf2 Nxd5 22. cxd5 Ne7 23. Bxh3 24. Qf1 24… Qd7 (24… Qxf1+ 25. Kxf1 is level)

25. gxf4 exf4 26. Bxg7 (26. d4 Ng6 27. dxc5 bxc5 28. Qa6)

26… Rxg7 27. Kh1 (27. d4 is playable but also about equal)

27… Ng6  28. Qe2 g4  29. Rg1 Ne5 30. fxg4 f3  31. Rxf3? White freaks out.  Correct is 31. Qd2 equal.   However it’s a fairly harmless freak-out because black’s advantage in the subsequent position should not be large.

31… Nxf3 32. Qxf3 Rf8 33. Qe2 Rxg4 34. Ne3? This obvious move is in fact inaccurate.  Best is 34. Re1 and black is only a little better.

34… Rxg1+ 35. Kxg1 Qg7+ 36. Kh1 Qe5 37. a4  Kh7? What a terrible move!  Simply 37… Rf7 wins as white’s king is just too uncomfortable.

38. Nc4 Qg5 39. e5?? White spent 3 of his remaining 5 minutes of this losing lemon.  Correct was  39. Ne3 and there is work left to be done.

39…Qc1+ Not the fastest. I must have been playing against his clock, a typical youthful indiscretion. The easiest win was 39…h4 forming a mating net.  39… Rg8 also won. 

40. Kg2 Qg5+ 41. Kh1 Not 41. Kh3?  Rf4 and white has to give up right away.

41… h4! I see it!  Black wins now.

42. Qe4+ 42. h3 Qg3 wins after a few white queen checks.  

42… Kh8 43. Ne3 Rg8 {White Resigns.}


If 44. Ng2 (forced)  h3 45. Qh4+ (forced) 45… Qxh4 46. Nxh4 Rg4 47. Nf3 Rf4 48. Ng1 Rf5 and black cleans up white’s pawns and wins.  A very satisfying win for me.  Only, as you see above, to be rudely brought back to earth by Mr. Lein.

Lawrence Day, these days

When I played Day he had a head full of black, curly hair.  Tempus fugit!

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

March 18, 2010

Young Bobby

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Postscript April 5, 2010

This just in from Dan Scoones:

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

Estrin! Vasiukov!

The Fabulous 10s: World Team 10, The New Chess

January 13, 2010

The New Chess!

When young Grandmasters whip out crazy theory backed by millions of pre-game CPU cycles, this is the new chess, Ladies and Gentlemen.

[Event “World Team”]
[Site “Turkey”]
[Date “2010.01.12”]
[White “Vitiugov, Nikita” (Russia)]
[Black “Rodshtein, Maxim” (Israel)]
[Result “1-0”]

[ECO “D15”]

1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. d4 b5 6. b3 Bg4 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3 e5!!?

The New Chess, Indeed

I believe Levon Aronian started to popularize this wild shot.  What follows is a sequence of bizarre and somewhat logical moves resulting in more computer-aided insanity.

9. dxe5 Bb4 10. Bd2 Bxc3 11. Bxc3 Ne4 12. Bb4 bxc4 13. Qg4

So far, so crazy modern theory.  Note that 13. bxc4 Nd7! (13…c5 14. Rd1!) 14. Rb1 Rb8 15. cxd5 cxd5 16. Qd1 Qh4 17. g3 Nxg3 18. fxg3 Qe4 19. Rh2 a5 is equal!

13… c5 14. f3 Nc6 15. fxe4 Nxb4 16. Qxg7 Rf8 17. exd5


17…Qh4+ My computer, admittedly running on fewer cycles than the players, prefers the absolutely craven material grab 17…Nc2+ 18. Kf2 Nxa1 19. Bxc4 Nc2 20. Qxh7 Na3 – talk about a laborious capture-and-slink-back! –  and here is a sample absurd continuation: 21. d6 Nxc4 22. bxc4 Rb8 23. Rf1 Qg5 24. Rb1 Rxb1 25. Qxb1 Rg8 26. Qb7 Qh4+ 27. Kg1 Kf8 28. Qc8+ Kg7 and black is happy since his King has somehow found safety.  Well, if my computer is much newer, its shorter ponder time might have accomplished the same cycles.  The players and I need to compare computer benchmarks.

18. Ke2 Qe4 19. Kf2 (19. bxc4?! Nc2 20. Qh6 Nd4+ 21. Ke1 Rb8)

19… Nc2 20. Qh6 Qg6 21. Qf4 Nxa1 22. Bxc4 Nc2 23. d6 Rg8 24. g4!

This is terrible for black.  White completely dominates.  I refer to the prior note on move 17 for a possible improvement.

24…Ra7 25. Rd1 Qg5 26. Qe4 Rg6 27. Ke2 h5

A nice win is to be had

28. Rd5?

Here White missed a vicious win.  28. d7+!! Rxd7 (28… Kd8 29. Bxf7 Rh6 30. e6 Nb4 (30… Qe7 31. Qc6 wins) 31. e7+ Qxe7 32. Qxe7+ wins) 29. Bxf7+ Rxf7 (29… Kxf7 30. Rxd7+ Ke8 31. Qb7 Qxe3+ 32. Kd1 and wins, an amazing variation and the one most likely missed by white!) 30. Qa8+ Ke7 31. Qd8+ Ke6 32. Qd6 mate)

28… Kd8? In mild time trouble, black has to try the tricky 28… Qh4! – the only correct response is  29. Qxc2!.  Note after 29. Rxc5?? Qe1+! black turns the tables and wins!

After 29. Qxc2!  Qxh3 30. Rxc5 white should take the point.

29. Qxc2 Now white wins without much trouble and even gets to finish it with a nice blow.

29…hxg4 30. e6 Qh6 31. e7+ Ke8 32. Qf5 Rd7 33. Qxf7+! Nice.  Mate in 8.

The rather cruel computer points out that 33. Rxc5 is Mate in 7!

At any rate, in the game, if black takes it is indeed mate: 33… Kxf7 34. Rf5+ Kg7 35. Rf7+ Kh8 36. e8=Q+ Rg8 37. Qe5+ Rg7 38. Rf8+ Kh7 39. Bd3+ Rg6 40. Qh8 mate.


A competitively important win for white – vive the New Chess!

Corus “B” Prediction

Here’s the round 1 pairings.

Round 1 – Saturday the 16th
Ni – E. l’Ami
E. Sutovsky – D. Reinderman
T. Nyback – L. Nisipeanu
A. Giri – P. Harikrishna
D. Howell – P. Negi
A. Muzychuk – V. Akobian
A. Naiditsch – W. So

Looking at this list of strong grandmasters, and noticing young GM Parmesan (Cheese) Negi, and other luminaries of the junior chess world, I predict the redoubtable Wesley So from the Philippines to have a monster result.  Not sure if he will win it ahead of tough cookie Nispy or Arkady (Mr Vienna) Naiditsch, but So has a great shot at winning the “B”.  So there!   Recent games from Wesley (Wesley is the name of a crazed serial killer in books by Andrew Vachss, but that doesn’t relate to the Corus prediction) have been most impressive.     Super young GM Giri is a force, but I think So having only half the letters brings double the chess to the table.  Look for Giri to do well and So to do even better.  Hopefully Naiditsch will lose in a Vienna causing him to CHANGE OPENINGS!   I don’t like it when a strong GM repeats a single, narrow variation ad nauseum.

For A Change in Perspective

First, a giant cactus.

It's tall

Second, a vessel sink schematic (you wouldn’t know this, but the material is Italian Travertine granite).


Thirdly, a new toy line.


The Fabulous 00s: 2010 World Teams – A Greek Tragedy Unfolds

January 12, 2010

Kotronias, the Minimizer

In today’s action, we had a sad occurrence.  In yesterday’s game, we had a very sad occurrence too.  Unfortunately, the same player got the short end of the stick both times.  A Greek Tragedy.
GM V. Gashimov 2759 (Azerbaijan) – GM V. Kotronias 2599  (Greece)

I thought Gashimov was really cool when I thought his first name was “Vulgar” but unfortunately it’s just Vugar.  Up to now, in his brief career, I have known for him for some dubious Benoni setups as black.  Nevertheless, he gets Cojones points for resuscitating Benonis. But presto… he has a 2759 rating!  What?!! The present game argues for some rating inflation.  Kotronias, on the other hand, is a well respected chess author and veteran on the chess scene for many moon now.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 b5 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Nxc6 Bxc6 12. Qe3 Qe7 13. Bd3 h5 14. Kb1 Qa7 15. Qh3 Qc5 16. Rhe1 Be7 17. Ne2 a5 18. f5 e5 19. Nc3 b4 20. Nd5 Bxd5 21. exd5 Bd8 22. Re4 Rg8 23. g3 Rg5 24. Rc4 Qf2 25. Rf1 Qe3 26. Rc6 Ke7 27. Qh4 Bb6 28. Qc4 Rb8 29. Be2 Bc5 30. Rc7+ Kf8 31. h4 Rxg3 32. Bxh5 Rg1 33. Bd1 a4 34. Rxg1 Qxg1 35. Qg4 Qxg4 36. Bxg4 Kg7 37. Kc1 Rh8 38. h5 Rf8 39. Bd1 Kh6 40. c3 bxc3 41. Bxa4 cxb2+ 42. Kxb2 Kxh5 43. Bc6 Kg4 44. a4 e4 45. Kc3 Rb8 46. Rxf7 Kxf5 47. Re7 Rb1 48. Bd7+ Kf4 49. Re6 Ke3 50. Kc2 Rf1 51. a5 f5 52. a6 Ra1 53. Re7 f4 54. Bf5 Ra4 55. Kb3 Rd4 56. a7 Bxa7 57. Rxa7 Rxd5 58. Rf7 f3 59. Kc2 Rd2+ 60. Kc1 d5 61. Be6

Let’s pause here and look at the situation.

Black to play and not win

I am surprised white (even with a 2759 rating, what miracles can occur here?) had not resigned already.  Maybe they were blitzing on increment?  Even so, black cannot avoid winning.  For example, 61…f2 followed by Re2 and Re1+, or 61…d4.  The pawns are unstoppable.  There followed:

61…Rd4 61…f2 is really the simplest.  The game now enters a Twilight Zone where black refuses various wins.

62. Rh7 Rc4+ Exceedingly simple again was 62…f2 63. Rh1 Kf3 64. Bh3 e3 and the dogies run home.

63. Kd1 Rc6 63…Ra4 or 63…Rb4 flush the WK out and win easily.

64. Bxd5 Rd6 I guess black was playing just on increment.  64…f2! 65. Rh3+ Kd4 66. Rh1 Rb6! 67. Ke2 Rb2+ followed by taking the bishop wins.  Sadly, black hasn’t ruined the win yet!

65. Rh5 Kf2 A nice geometric win is 65…Rd7 66. Ke1 Ra7 and wins.

66. Rf5 Rd8 67. Kc2 Ke3?? The final short-circuit.  Don’t you feel sorry for Kotronias?  67…Rxd5 68. Rxd5 e3 wins easily.   Just be careful of one thing: 69. Re5 Ke2! followed by …f3-f2 wins; not 69. Re5 e2?? 70. Kd2! and draws! (70….f3 71. Re3 drawing).  That would be very sad.

68. Re5! And draws.  Oh no!!

68…Rxd5 69. Rxd5 Ke2 70. Rf5 e3 71. Kc3 Kf2 72. Re5 Ke2 73. Kd4 f2 74. Rxe3+ Kd2 75. Rf3 Ke2 76. Rxf2+ Kxf2 77. Kd5 {Game drawn} 1/2-1/2

This kind of game, and the one Kotronias played yesterday, is enough for a few weeks R&R to recharge one’s batteries.

The game from the prior day was in some ways sadder.

Greek Tragedy Redux

Kotronias – Nakamura Petroff Defense

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nd6 7. Bf4 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 c6 10. Nbd2 Be6 11. c3 Nd7 12. Qc2 h6 13. Nf1 Re8 14. Ng3 Bf8 15. Re2 Bg4 16. Rxe8 Nxe8 17. Ne5 Be6 18. Re1 Nef6 19. Ng6 Qb6 20. Nxf8 Nxf8 21. h3 Re8 22. Re5 N8d7 23. Re2 Nf8 24. Re5 N8d7 25. Re3 Qa5 26. a3 Nf8 27. Be5 Qd8 28. f4 Bd7 29. Qf2 N6h7 30. Nh5 g6 31. Qg3 f5 32. c4! White was a bit short of time, but nothing serious.  The text move is quite strong.  I believe white had refused a draw a little earlier in the game as well.

32… Kf7 33. cxd5 cxd5

It started out so well

The solution is to tie black to the d5 pawn then gang up on f5 threatening a lethal sac.

34. Be2? A terrible follow-up.  Even without much time, 34. Qf3! with a big edge was easy to spot.  It is quite obvious the knight on h5 is immune and the d5 pawn is attacked.   Things are grim for black:  34…Be6? 35. Ng7! wins, 34…Bc6 35. Bxf5 gxf5  36. Ng3! is cute, and  34…Qb6 35. Qxd5+ Be6 36. Qf3 keeps the knight on h5 immune.

34…Ne6! Black is right back in the game.

35. Qf3 Bc6 36. Kh2 Qb6 37. Ng3? Time trouble? 37. Qf2 defending is fine for white.  The knight can always come back to g3.

37…Nxd4! Of course.  White’s spiral of misery continues.

38. Qf2 Nc2 39. Nxf5! Forced to keep the balance.
39…Nxe3 40. Nxh6+??
Oh no!   This hallucination is very hard to explain. 40. Nxe3 offered excellent compensation and a continued attack.

40..Kf8 Black is just up a piece.  Sadness.  But very good for the Americans to receive this unexpected game and match present.

41. Qg3 Bd7 42. Bc3 Nf5 43. Nxf5 Bxf5 44. Bf3 d4 {Black
wins} 0-1

The Fabulous 70s: The National Chess League

October 6, 2009

Before the current-day US Chess League, we had the National Chess League played with telephones!  (pre-Web).  Runners would relay the moves with lingo like “Baker echo 7” (Be7).  Often times, a move was mis-relayed causing the game to back up and restart.  Games could take hours with the relay delays, although nominally the time control was G/1 hour with no increment.

Here are 3 amusing contests from the 1979 season, including one from the playoffs.

IM Dumitru Ghizdavu (CLE) – Mark Ginsburg (DC)  Sicilian Scheveningen, 4/22/79

I would hazard a guess my opponent hies from Romania.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. Be3 a6 7. f4 b5 8. Qf3 Bb7 9. Bd3 Nbd7 10. g4 b4 A wild line very popular at the time.

11. Nce2 e5 12. Nb3 h5!?

Wild Stuff

Wild Stuff

13. g5 Ng4 14. f5 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 a5 16. O-O-O a4 17. Nd2 d5!? 18. exd5 Bc5 19. Qg3 Bxd5 20. Be4 Bxa2 21. Bc6

Key Moment

Key Moment

21…Rc8? I totally missed 21… O-O! 22. Ne4? (22. f6 Rc8  unclear) 22… Qb6 23. Bxd7 Be3+ 24. Nd2 Rfd8! and black wins.

22. Bxa4 O-O 23. Ne4 Qb6 24. Rxd7 Be3+ 25. Kd1 Rfd8 Still, I generate play against white’s floating king.

26. Ke1 Rxd7 27. Nf6+ Kh8 28. Nxd7 Qa7 29. b3 Rxc2 30. Qf3 Bxb3! The craziness continues.  Quite a game!

31. Qxh5+ Kg8 32. g6

Key Moment Deux

Key Moment Deux

32…Bh6? I don’t think I had a lot of time left.

This second blunder is fatal.  I could have survived with  the wild sac (consistent with the rest of the game) 32… Rxe2+! 33. Kxe2 (33. Qxe2 Bxa4 34. gxf7+ Kxf7 35. Nxe5+ Kg8 36. Qc4+ Kh7 37. Qxb4 Bc2 38. Qc3 Bxf5) 33… Bc4+ 34. Kf3 Bd5+ 35. Kg4 Bh6)

33. Bxb3 Qa1+ 34. Kf2 Qd4+ 35. Kg3 Bf4+ 36. Kh3 Qd3+

I should have at least tried 36… Qe3+ hoping for 37. Ng3??  Rxh2+! 38. Rxh2 Qxg3 mate but it is hard to believe Ghizdavu would fall into that one.

37. Kh4 Bg5+ 38. Qxg5 Qe4+ 39. Qg4 Qxh1 40. gxf7+  1-0

In an amusing postscript, Ghizdavu recently popped up on the Arizona Scorpions USCL blog (see Comments section) announcing he’s moved to …. surprise ….. Surprise, AZ!   I would have to guess that DC won this Cleveland match but I didn’t record the individual board results.

M. Ginsburg (DC) – Julius Loftsson (LA)  Sicilian Taimanov 3/18/79

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Nf6 7. N5c3

Unusual and tried by Ljubojevic sporadically.

A Ljubo Special

A Ljubo Special

7…Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O b6 10. Bf4 Bb7 11. Nd2 a6 12. Re1 Rc8 13. Rc1 Ne5 14. Bg3 Qc7
15. b4 Qb8 16. Qb3 Bc6 17. f4 Ng6 18. h4?!
A very junior move. All my pawn advances come to naught and black is fine.

Rfd8 19. h5 Nf8 20. a4?! a5! I have no idea why I played my 20th.

21. bxa5 bxa5 22. Bf3 N8d7

Time for a Horrific Blunder

Time for a Horrific Blunder

23. e5?? Utter confusion on my part. A really ugly and mistimed advance that should have just handed black the game.

23… dxe5 24. fxe5 Bxf3 25. Qxb8 Nxb8 26. Nxf3 Nxh5 27. Bh2 Rxc4 I shed some pawns with no compensation.  Can you envision white winning?  No?  But look what happens.

"White to play and win"

"White to play and win"

28. Ne4 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 g6?!

Simplest was 29… Na6 stopping any play; e.g.  30. Nd6 g6 and black wins.

30. Rc7 Nd7 31. Nd4 Nc5?

Black had the nice 31… Bc5! 32. Nxc5 Nxc5 33. Rxc5 Rxd4 34. Rxa5 g5 and he should win.

32. Nd6 Bxd6? Another mistake and this one is serious enough to turn the game completely around.  32… Bg5! 33. Rxc5 Be3+ 34. Kf1 Bxd4 35. Rxa5 Ng7 36. Ke2 Nf5 37. Ra6 Rb8 and black is better.  He was probably in time trouble.

33. exd6 Ne4 Black is also losing after 33… Na6 34. Nc6 Rf8 35. d7 Nxc7 36. Bxc7 Nf6 37. Ne7+ Kg7 38. d8=Q Rxd8 39. Bxd8

34. d7 1-0

I think that DC won this match as well against LA.

So we got into the playoffs and here is a game from the Semi-Finals, DC versus the strong Berkeley Squad.  This time around I did record individual board results (see below).

IM Julio Kaplan (Berkeley Riots) – M. Ginsburg (DC Plumbers)  King’s Indian, 4 Pawns Attack, Benko-Gambit-esque

If you are wondering about the Plumbers name, look up the White House Plumbers and the notorious Watergate Scandal that occurred during President Nixon’s reign of terror.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 d6 5. e4 Bg7 6. f4 O-O 7. Nf3 b5

Believe it or not, at the time I notated this as “!”  It works out well in the game but white was very compliant, opening lines up for black.

8. cxb5 a6 9. e5?! Former World Junior Champ Kaplan is aggressive, but I don’t like this at all.

9…dxe5 10. fxe5 Ng4 11. Bf4 Nd7 12. bxa6 Ndxe5 Black has a great game now.

Big Plus Already!  What can go wrong?

Big Plus Already! What can go wrong?

13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Qd2 c4! I’m playing well!  These motifs are obvious to Benko players but I was totally on my own.

15. Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Bxc4 Qc7 17. Be2 Bxa6 18. Bxa6 Rxa6 19. O-O Bxh2+ 20. Kh1 Be5 21. Rf3 Rf6 22. Rxf6 Bxf6 23. Ne4 Bg7 24. Re1 Rd8 25. Nc3 Qc4 26. Re3? A huge lemon, of course, but white had a bad game.

Qf1+ 27. Kh2 Bh6 As simple as that, black is winning.  But remember a kid is playing an ending, and accidents can happen to kids.

Yay.  I win?

Yay. I win?

28. Re1 Bxd2 29. Rxf1 Bxc3 30. bxc3 Rxd5 31. Rf2 e5 32. a4 Rc5 33. Rc2 Rc4 34. Ra2 Rxc3
35. a5 Rc7 36. a6 Ra7 37. Kg3 f6 38. Kf3 Kf7 39. Ke4 Ke6 40. g4

Is it possible not to win?

Is it possible not to win?

It’s hard to conceive of black not winning this position.


Easier is 40… h5 41. gxh5 gxh5 42. Kd3 Kd5 43. Ra5+ Kc6 44. Ke4 Kb6 and after dealing with the white pawn there are no obstacles for black.

41. gxf5+ gxf5+ 42. Kf3 h5 43. Ra1 Kf6 44. Ra2 h4? Completely off my radar was the simple 44… f4! 45. Ke4 h4 46. Ra5 h3 47. Rxe5 Rh7 48. Rf5+ Kg6 and black wins, since the h1-a8 diagonal skewer is decisive.

45. Ra1 Ra8?? Did I really do that?  What a nonsensical blunder. Well by now it was obvious I was incompetent so I doubt another stronger move would have “won” for me.

46. a7 h3 47. Kg3 e4 48. Kxh3 Kg5 49. Ra5 Kf4 50. Kg2 Kg4 51. Ra4 f4 52. Rxe4 Rxa7 53. Re8 Ra2+ 54. Kg1 Kf3 55. Rf8 Ra5 56. Rf7 Ra1+ 57. Kh2 Rf1 58. Ra7 Re1 59. Rf7 Re5 60. Kg1 Rg5+
61. Kf1 1/2-1/2
Quelle desastre!

Here are the board results:

DC                     –       Berkeley

Mark Diesen   0   John Grefe

future IM Steve Odendahl 0  Paul Whitehead (I commented that Odendahl stood much better and went nuts)

Larry Kaufman  1  Jay Whitehead

Richard Delaune 1/2  Cornelius

John Meyer 0  DeFirmian (I noted that John lost on time with a queen versus a rook!)

So we lost this Semi-Final match 2 to 4.

And for Something Different

World Open 1985

World Open 1985

Vince McCambridge (right) and a fan, World Open, 1985.

Military History, Anyone?

Is anyone awake at the Pentagon?

This Afghanistan story of heavy American casualties from

“The battle Saturday in which eight U.S. troops were killed was so fierce that, at one point, U.S. forces had to fall back as attackers breached the perimeter of their base, a U.S. military official with knowledge of the latest intelligence reports on the incident said.

Forward Operating Base Keating, seen in 2007, is surrounded by tall ridge lines.

Forward Operating Base Keating, seen in 2007, is surrounded by tall ridge lines.

The new revelations about the battle that engulfed Forward Operating Base Keating in Kamdesh District are a further indication of how pinned down and outmanned the troops were at the remote outpost. The base, in an eastern Afghanistan valley, was surrounded by ridge lines where the insurgents were able to fire down at U.S. and Afghan troops.

The facility had been scheduled to be closed within days, CNN has learned. The closing is part of a wider effort by the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to cede remote outposts and consolidate troops in more populated areas to better protect Afghan civilians.”

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t learned our lesson from famous failures in the past to hold remote outposts.  A classic siege, Dien Bien Phu, saw the French try to hold a similar, ridiculously located, forward base to great cost.  Read “Hell in a Very Small Place” by Bernard Fall for that incredible account. I attach more information about this amazing book at the bottom of this article.  Even the USA’s own President, LBJ, when fortifying the ludicrous outpost Khe Sanh in Vietnam said “I don’t want another damn DIN BIN FOO.”

Why did we try to keep and hold a new DIN BIN FOO in Afghanistan?  A failed strategy cannot work if you fast-forward it in time.  This is the theme of the classic book of repetitious military failure throughout the ages, “The March of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman.  Hello, Pentagon?  Once agin:  we don’t want another damn DIN BIN FOO.  Forward, remote operating bases are sitting ducks.

If we are going to be in a far-away country trying our hand at “World Police” (that didn’t work too well for the British in the early 20th century), we might as well learn from prior military disasters.

More on “Hell in a Very Small Place”

From Amazon,

“he siege of Dien Bien Phu, in which a guerrilla force of Viet Minh destroyed a technologically superior French colonial army, must rank with Waterloo, Gettysburg, Midway, Stalingrad, and Tet as one of the decisive battles in military history. Not only did Dien Bien Phu put an end to French imperial efforts in Indo-china, but it also convinced the Viet Minh, when they came to power in Communist North Vietnam, that similar tactics would prevail in their war with the United States. As an American army officer told Bernard Fall during the Vietnam War: ”What we’re doing here basically is, we’re exorcising Dien Bien Phu.”Bernard Fall in this monumental work has written an exhaustive, revelatory, and vivid account of the battle, leading the reader from the conference rooms of the U.S. State Department to the French Foreign Office to the front lines of Indo-China and the strategy sessions led by General Giap and Ho Chi Minh. Among the many historical curiosities here disclosed is evidence that then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles offered atomic bombs to the beleaguered French, and that then-Senator Lyndon Johnson played a key role in defeating a proposal to aid the French with critical air support. Without U. S. aid, the fortress at Dien Bien Phu fell on the very day that the cease-fire conference opened in Geneva.Based on hitherto unavailable documentation from the French Defense Ministry, and replete with detailed maps of the many assaults, Hell in a Very Small Place is a first-rate military history. But even more powerful is the political wisdom it imparts about a war that was not only the beginning of the end of the French colonial empire but a rehearsal for American involvement in Vietnam.”

Tragically, the author Bernard Fall died while embedded with Marines in South Vietnam in 1967.

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

August 22, 2009

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

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

[WhiteElo “2388”]
[BlackElo “2381”]

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

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

The Center Blows Up

The Center Blows Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


International Quiz

The Return of Polugaevsky

A recent e-mail banter exchange.

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

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

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

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

SSG Dewayne Pittman

The response:

Sounds great.

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

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