Archive for the ‘Chess Tournaments’ Category

The Fabulous 10’s: Berkeley Chess International 2011

January 13, 2011

Return to Forever

It was a treat to go back to UC Berkeley for the January International organized by David Pruess and Arun Sharma.  I taught at the UC Berkeley SIMS School (now called the i-school) in the spring of 1999 and in the fall of 1998 I was a post-doctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley Haas School.

Le Roy and Cedar, an intersection near the chess site (a Harry Potteresque abandoned schoolhouse)

Super Happy Lucky Cat

The chess was a bit of a tough slog.

In Round 1 I failed to spot a nice win in an ending.  Actually I was simply worse (losing, really) in the early middlegame then white went wrong.

Manvelyan,Hayk (2158) – Ginsburg,Mark (2393) [B25]
Berkeley op Berkeley (1), 02.01.2011   Sicilian Closed

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.f4 e6 7.Nf3 Nge7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Rb1 Rb8 10.Bd2 b5 11.a3 Nd4 12.Ne2 Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 d5 14.c3 dxe4 15.dxe4 Qd3 16.Be1 Rd8 17.Bf2 c4

A rather crazy “gambit” but what can I do?  I played aggressively on move 15 then had no real followup.

18.Bxa7 Bb7 19.Qxd3 cxd3 20.Nd4 Rbc8 21.Nxb5??

Inexperience.  An experienced player would spot 21. e5! crushing black who suddenly has no play at all and is down material.

e5! Now black has irritating counterplay.  White’s bad reaction leads him into a lost game!

22.fxe5? Nc6 23.Bb6? Nxe5! An obvious exchange sacrifice.

24.Bxd8 Rxd8 25.Bg2 Nc4 26.Rfd1 Ne3 27.Rd2 f5!

Suddenly black is just winning!

28.Re1 Nxg2 29.Rxg2 fxe4 30.Nd4 Rxd4 31.cxd4 Bxd4+ 32.Kf1 e3 33.Rge2 dxe2+? Here for some reason I never saw 33…Ba6! winning, a very nice geometrical motif.

34.Kxe2 Ba6+ 35.Kf3 e2 36.b3 Kf7 37.Rxe2 Bxe2+ 38.Kxe2 Ke6 39.Kf3 Kf5 40.b4 h5 41.h3

Black made it harder on himself but the next move is a real lemon handing a square over that his own king needs.  Correct and rather elementary is 41…Bb2 42. a4 Bc3 43. b5 Ba5 and black will win in fairly short order.

g5?? 42.g4+ hxg4+ 43.hxg4+ Ke5 44.a4 Bc3 45.b5 Ba5 46.Ke3 Now black cannot establish a zugzwang.

Bd8 47.Kd3 Kf4 48.Kc4 Kxg4 49.Kc5 Kf3 50.b6 g4 51.a5 g3 52.Kc6 g2 53.b7 1/2-1/2

Round 2 was a bye to recuperate from this ordeal.  Round 3 was not much more inspiring:

Ginsburg,Mark (2393) – Kavutskiy,Konstantin (2170) [D34]
Berkeley op Berkeley (3), 03.01.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.b3 Be7 5.Bg2 c5 6.0-0 Nc6 7.cxd5 exd5 8.d4 0-0 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bb2 Bg4 11.Nc3 a6 12.Rc1 Re8 13.e3 Ba7 14.Ne2 Qe7 15.h3 Bf5 16.Ned4 Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Bxd4 18.Qxd4 Be4 19.Qb6

White has a pleasant game but black should not lose if he stays solid.

Rac8 20.Nd4 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 h5 22.Rfd1 Qd7 23.Ne2 h4?

A terrible move but white is not in good enough form to score the full point after this gift.

24.gxh4! Did black underestimate this?


White should seek improvements now because he is better.

25.Qa5 Rec6 26.Rxc6 Qxc6 27.Rc1 Qd7 28.Rxc8+ Qxc8 29.Qc3 Qf5 30.Ng3 Qe6 31.Qd4 Ne4 32.Nxe4 dxe4

After this trade white has very little as he soon realized.

33.Qd8+ Kh7 34.Qg5 Kg8 35.h5 Kh7 36.Kg3 Qd6+ 37.Qf4 Qe6! The drawing motif is simply to keep the white king at bay.

38.h4 b5 39.Qg5 Qd6+ 40.Kg2 Qe6 41.Qf4 Qd5 42.Kg3 Qe6 43.b4 Kh8 44.a3 Kh7 45.Qg5 Qd6+ 46.Kg2 Qe6 1/2-1/2

A 7th round where I messed up the opening badly but struggled back to draw with plenty of help from white.

Collins,Sam (2436) – Ginsburg,Mark (2393) [B07]
Berkeley op Berkeley (7), 05.01.2011   Sicilian 2. c3

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6

2…Nf6! as in a precise game Sevillano-De Firmian (drawn) must be more accurate.

3.d4 Nf6 4.Bd3 cxd4 5.cxd4 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.h3 0-0 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.0-0 Nh5 10.Be2 e5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Qxd8 Rxd8 13.Bg5!

This is just unpleasant for black!

f6 14.Bc4+ Kh8 15.Be3 Nf4 16.Rfd1 Be6 17.Bd5 Bxd5 18.exd5 Na5 19.g3 Nh5 20.b3 Rd7 21.Rac1 Bf8

Black’s position is horrible.


22. Nb5! looks completely crushing.

Ba3 23.Rb1 Kg7 24.b4 Nc4 25.Nc5 Rf7 26.Ne6+ Kg8 27.Bh6 a5

Black shows some signs of life.

28.bxa5 Rxa5 29.g4 Nf4 30.Nxf4 exf4 31.Bxf4 Bd6 32.Rbc1 Bxf4 33.Rxc4 Bd6 34.Rd2 Rf8 35.Re4 Kf7 36.Rb2 Rb8 37.Rd2 Rd8 38.Kg2 Rda8 39.Ree2 Bf4 40.Rd4 Bd6 41.Re6 Rd8 42.g5 f5 43.a4 Kg8 44.Ne5 Bxe5 45.Rxe5 b5 46.axb5 Rxb5 47.Re7 Rbxd5 48.Rh4 R5d7 49.Rhxh7 Rxe7 50.Rxe7 Rd4

Fortunately at this fast time control this is a simple draw.  White cannot construct any trick.

51.Kg3 Kf8 52.Rc7 Kg8 53.Ra7 Kf8 54.Rc7 Kg8 55.Rb7 Kf8 56.h4 Kg8 57.Ra7 Kf8 58.Rb7 Kg8 59.Rb5 Kg7 60.Ra5 Rc4 61.Ra7+ Kg8 62.Ra3 Kg7 63.Rd3 Rb4 64.Rd7+ Kg8 65.Re7 Rd4 66.Re5 Kg7 67.Re7+ Kg8 68.h5 gxh5 69.f4 h4+ 70.Kf3 h3 71.Kg3 Rd3+ 72.Kh2 Rf3 1/2-1/2

Some 8th round play vs. a rather passive French:

Ginsburg,Mark (2393) – Kuljasevic,Davorin (2545) [C13]
Berkeley op Berkeley (8), 06.01.2011   French Defense

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4?!

Black would be better off with the McCutcheon, an opening Kuljasevic has played in the past (4…Bb4!? 5. e5 h6).

5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.Qe2!

An idea from GM Bologan’s autobiography.  I believe Bologan beat GM Bareev in this line.  My opponent after the game pointed out that Morozevich has tried another dangerous move here, 8. Qd3!? with a later idea of Neg5 and h2-h4.

0-0 9.0-0-0 Be7 10.Ne5 Nf6 11.Nxf6+ Bxf6

11….gxf6!? leads to an interesting position.  My intention was Ne5-c4!? with an idea of Nc4-e3 and a complex struggle in sight.

12.f4 Bd7 13.Qf3 Bc6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Qxc6 Bxd4 16.c3

Here, 16. Qe4? Bxb2+ 17. Kxb2 Qxd1 18. Bd3 Rfb8+!  releases white’s mate threat and black wins.

Be3+ 17.Kc2 Qf6 18.g3 1/2-1/2

Actually white can and should play on.  He can play his B to d3 and launch a general kingside pawn storm, whereas black probably has to go for the passive retreat Be3-b6. White is somewhat better with no risk.

In the next to last round, a disaster!

Ginsburg,Mark (2393) – Evans,Bela (2262) [A13]
Berkeley op Berkeley (9), 07.01.2011    Catalan / Hedgehog Reversed

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 dxc4 4.Qa4+ Nd7 5.Bg2 a6 6.Qxc4 c5 7.0-0 Ngf6 8.b3 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bb2 Rc8 11.d3 Be7 12.Nbd2 0-0 13.Rac1 Qb6 14.Qb1 Rfd8 15.Rc2 Qa7 16.Rfc1 Qa8 17.a3 h6 18.Qa1 Bd5 19.Bc3!

White hits upon a strong idea.  Transfer the bishop to a5 and later play b3-b4 to chip away, in true Hedgehog style (colors reversed, of course).

Rb8 20.Ba5 Rdc8 21.e4 Bb7 22.h3 Qa7 23.b4 Re8 24.bxc5 Bxc5 25.Nb3 Be7 26.Nfd4 Qa8

At this point black’s position is in ruins.  The lights went out though and we had to relocate to the skittles room.  This change of venue somehow bewitched white who went completely wrong in mild time trouble.


27. Bc7 followed by Nba5 is crushing.

Bxc6 28.Rxc6

Of course this is great for white with the two bishops but black has some breathing space.

Rbc8 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Bb4 Bd8 31.d4?

Why?  The d3/e4 pawn duo kept black’s minor pieces at bay.  White should simply have played slowly to make the time control.

Nb6 32.d5?

And this is just irrational. White, with less time, launches an “attack” without supporting forces.

exd5 33.e5 Ne4 34.Nd4 Nc4 35.Nf5 Qa7

Black hits f2.  White’s knight on f5 is optically nice but he has no support.

36.Bxe4 dxe4 37.Qb1 Qb7 38.Rxc4 Rxc4 39.Nd6 Qd5 40.Nxc4 Qxc4 41.Qd1 Bb6

Now black is just winning.   A very sad state of affairs considering the nice opening.

42.Qd6 Qe6 43.Qb8+ Kh7 44.Bd6 Bd4 45.Qb7 Qf5 0-1

Finally I scored a win in the last round.  I was fairly irritated from the previous round and wanted at least to get to 50%.

Shivaji,Shivkuma (2303) – Ginsburg,Mark (2393) [B07]
Berkeley op Berkeley (10), 08.01.2011  Modern Defense

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5

I would prefer 4. Be3 guarding the sensitive d4 point.

c6 5.Qd2 b5 6.f4 Nf6 7.Bd3 b4 8.Nd1

This shouldn’t be a “scare” system for black but white is solid.

Qb6 9.c3 e5!?

Maybe too sharp.

10.fxe5 dxe5 11.Nf3 exd4 12.cxd4 Ba6

Not very impressive but black does have to develop.

13.0-0 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 0-0 15.Nf2 Nbd7 16.Kh1 Rac8 17.Nd2?!

There was no real reason for this passive regrouping.

Nh5 18.Nb3

And now although it looks rather schizophrenic white should have seriously considered 18. g4!?.

c5 19.Qh3 Qe6

I had not considered a strong alternative here, 19…Qb5.

20.Qxe6 fxe6 21.dxc5 Bxb2 22.Rad1 Ne5 23.Be7 Rf7 24.Bd6 Nc6 25.Ng4 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 a5 27.Nd2 Bg7 28.e5!

This position is very sharp and double-edged.   In time trouble white goes astray.

a4 29.Nf6+ Nxf6 30.exf6 Bf8 31.Ne4 h6 32.g4 Ra8 33.g5 h5 34.Rb1 e5 35.Nd2 Kf7 36.Nc4 Bxd6 37.cxd6 Rd8 38.Kg2 Ke6 39.Kf3 Kd5 40.Nb6+ Kxd6 41.Ke4

White notices that 41. Nxa4 Ra8 is hopeless and tries something else, but black has a winning ending in any event.

a3 42.Rd1+ Ke6 43.Nd5 b3!

Not a difficult tactic but nice.

44.axb3 a2 45.Nc7+ Kf7 46.Nd5 Nb4 47.Nxb4 Rxd1 48.Nxa2 Ke6

Now it’s just mop-up.

49.Nc3 Rd4+ 50.Ke3 Rh4 51.Ne4 Rh3+ 52.Kd2 Rxh2+ 53.Kd3 h4 54.Nc5+ Kd5 55.Ke3 Rh3+ 56.Ke2 e4 57.Nd7 Rf3 0-1

Questions of Modern and not so Modern Opening Theory

The following game was presented in GM Baburin’s daily online chess newsletter, Chess Today.  It caught my attention.

Conrad Holt – Lev Milman Nimzo Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 (?!)

Too soon, junior

I don’t see the motivation for this. Black has castled, white has not.  Black has a ready-made counterstrike in the center.  Even so, Irina Krush and others have played it; so it’s a good thing for black to know. I recently enjoyed GM Ivan Sokolov’s “Best Games” oeuvre.  He is a 4. Qc2 fanatic, and 5. e4 does not appear in his games!  I deduce that he believes 5. a3 is stronger!


For some bizarre reason, also (earlier, Round 2)  in this tournament, GM Magesh Panchanathan reacted here with the bad move 5…d6? conceding white a huge center.  Black, in some weird Caissic injustice, won that game with a combinational finish – of course white misplayed because he must have overjoyed to see the lemon 5….d6.

That game:

Holt,Conrad (2388) – Panchanathan,Magesh (2537) [E32]
Berkeley op Berkeley (2), 02.01.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 d6?  Why?

6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nf3 e5 8.d5 Ne7 9.a3 Bxc3+ 10.Qxc3 a5  Black looks significantly worse here but white for some reason hurries to give away the bishop pair.

11.Bg5 Ne8 12.0-0 h6 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.b4 f5 15.Nd2 Qg5 16.c5 Nf6 17.exf5 Bxf5 18.Bxf5 Qxf5 19.bxa5 Kh8 20.cxd6 cxd6 21.Qb3 e4 22.Rae1 Rxa5 23.Nc4 Rc5 24.Nxd6 Qf4 25.Qg3 Qxg3 26.hxg3 Rxd5 27.Nxb7 Ra8 28.Re3 Ra7 29.Rb1 Rxb7!  Ut-oh 30.Rxb7 Rd1+ 31.Kh2 Ng4+ 32.Kh3 Nxf2+ 33.Kh4 Rh1# 0-1  Why did white play on to mate?

6.e5 Ne4 7.Bd3 c5 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Nd7 10.Bf4 Qh4 (?) 11.g3 Qh3 12.0-0-0 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Ba3+ 14.Kb1 Nb6 15.Bf1 Qh5 16.Be2 Qh3 17.Nf3 Qf5 18.Bd3 Qh5 19.Ng5 h6 20.h4 Bd7 21.Bh7+ Kh8 22.Bg8! g6 23.Nxf7+ Kg7 24.g4 Qxg4 25.Rdg1 Qf5 26.Qxf5 exf5 27.Rxg6+!

A very nice mating combination.

27…Kxg6 28.h5+ Kg7 29.Rg1# 1-0

All very nice, but black’s 10th move looks insanely risky and totally impractical.  Why put the queen far afield when there is no need?  I had analyzed this variation some time ago, and white’s 5th move looks very loosening (that’s why GM Sokolov always prefers 5. a3).   All is well from black’s point of view after white’s 10th; his bishop is passively guarding a pawn on e5. The correct move is 10…Ndc5! and this looks dead equal.  I wrote in to Chess Today and got a response from GM Golubev that while 10…Qh4 may be viable due to some improvement, 10…Ndc5 is probably safer.  All of this was confirmed in this same tournament, (later game), as I found after writing in!  Here is the second game.  White didn’t need to lose the game, but still this indicates the correct treatment.

Conrad Holt – Daniel Rensch  Nimzo Indian
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 (?!) d5! 6.e5 Ne4 7.Bd3 c5 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Nd7 10.Bf4 Ndc5! 11.0-0 Nxd3 12.Qxd3 Bxc3 13.bxc3 b6

This looks completely equal!  White’s dangerous light square bishop (the one that killed Milman) has been removed.

14.cxd5 Qxd5

Note in passing that Black can afford to accept an isolated d-pawn here as white has weak pawns of his own.

15.Rfd1 Rd8 16.c4 Qb7 17.Qe3 Bd7 18.f3 Nc5 19.Bg5 Rdc8 20.Ne2 Ba4 21.Rd4 Nd7 22.Nc3 Bc6 23.h4 Qc7 24.Re1 h5 25.Rd6 Nf8 26.Red1 Bb7 27.R1d4 Qc5 28.Be7 Re8 29.Bxf8 Rxf8 30.Ne2 Qb4 31.Nf4 Qb1+ 32.Kh2 Qf5 33.Nd3 Rac8 34.Rf4 Qg6 35.c5 bxc5 36.Nxc5 Bd5 37.Ra4 Bxf3 38.Rd2 Bd5 39.Rxa7 Rc6 40.Nd7 Rc4 41.Qf2 Rd8 42.Nb6 Re4 43.Nxd5 exd5 44.Rd3 Qe6 45.Rf3 Qxe5+ 46.Kh3 Qe6+ 47.Kh2 Rf8 48.Ra5 Qe5+ 49.Kh3 Re1 50.Rf4 Qc3+ 0-1

GM Golubev was impressed by this coincidental find.

In another totally puzzling turn of events, black plays a bad Dragon line in the next game and the higher-rated white player strangely reacts badly and loses.  But it’s all well known to be good for white.  Go figure.

(233) Hess,Robert L (2572) – Kiewra,Keaton F (2337) [B76]
Berkeley op Berkeley (9), 07.01.2011   Sicilian Dragon

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxd4?!

9…d5 is the only testing move.

10.Bxd4 Be6

This is not a good line for black.


Quite simple and good for white is 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 Qc7 13. Kb1 with the idea of Rd1-c1, c2-c4, and a later h2-h4.  Black doesn’t have much play.  It cuts out all the play that actually happened in this game.  I totally tortured GM Kudrin (noted Dragon expert) with this in the early 1980s and it won some kind of stamp of approval as Kudrin adopted my treatment in his next tournament.

Qa5 12.Qg5

There is no need for this “fancy” reaction.  It’s quite impractical too since the line given above is a safe significant plus for white.

b5 13.h5 Rab8 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Bd3 Bxa2

Now it’s just a Dragon mess and black winds up on top.

16.e5 dxe5 17.Bxe5 Bf7 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.fxe4 b4 20.Qh4 h5 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.e5 Qa1+ 23.Kd2 Qxb2 24.Qg5 Rbd8 25.Rxh5 Rxd3+ 26.Kxd3 Qc3+ 27.Ke4 Qxc2+ 28.Ke3 Qc5+ 29.Ke4 Qc2+ 30.Ke3 Bc4 31.Qh6+ Kf7 32.Qf4+ Ke8 33.Rd8+ Kxd8 34.Qxf8+ Kd7 35.e6+ Bxe6 36.Ra5 Qc3+ 37.Kf2 Qd4+ 38.Kg3 b3 39.Qf3 Qd6+ 40.Qf4 Qxf4+ 41.Kxf4 Bf5 42.Rb5 Bc2 43.Ke3 Kc6 44.Rb8 Kc7 45.Rb4 a5 46.Rc4+ Kb6 47.Kd2 Kb5 48.Rc7 Kb4 49.Rb7+ Ka3 50.Kc3 a4 51.Rxe7 Ka2 52.Re2 b2 53.Rxc2 a3 54.Kd2 Kb1 55.Kc3 Ka1 0-1

To give some perspective on why Kiewra plays this bad line, he was probably emboldened by the successful result in this game.

[Event “USCL Arizona vs Dallas”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2009.09.30”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Adamson, Robby”]
[Black “Kiewra, Keaton”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B76”]
[WhiteElo “2354”]
[BlackElo “2365”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O Nxd4?! 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1 Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5

Pleasant for White!

Rfc8 14. Rc1! Correct, as in my Kudrin game.

Nd7? A rather serious miscue.  Black cannot stand this opening to the king at this moment.

15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. h4 h5 17. g4 Nf6

Critical Moment

18. gxh5?  Nxh5 19. Bh3 Rh8 20. Bg4 Qc4 21. Rce1 Qf4 22. Qc3+ Qf6 23. Qc7 Nf4 24. Qxe7 Rae8 25. Qc7 Qxh4 26. Qc3+ Qf6 27. Rxh8 Rxe1+ 28. Qxe1 Kxh8 29. Bc8 b6 30. Qe4 Kg7 31. a3 Ng2 32. c4 Qf4 33. Qxf4 Nxf4 34. Kc2 Kf6 35. Kc3 Ke5 36. b4 f5 37. Bd7 g5 38. Bc8 Ng2 39. Kd3 Nh4 40. Ke2 f4 41. Ba6 Kd4 42. c5 bxc5 43. b5 c4 44. a4 Kxd5 45. Bc8 Kc5 46. Bd7 Kb4 47. Bc6 Nf5 48. Kd2 Ne3 49. a5 Kxa5 50. Kc3 Kb6 {White resigns} 0-1

As an exercise to the reader, identify the key improvement early on in the above US Chess League game where white could have reached a huge plus.  As a hint, it occurred at the “critical moment”. This improvement completely refutes black’s treatment.  White probably missed it due to the very fast USCL time control.

As a final piece of evidence, consider this 2008 USCL game.

Event “USCL Chicago vs Arizona”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2008.10.22”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “VandeMortel, Jan”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B76”]
[WhiteElo “2410”]
[BlackElo “2460”]
[PlyCount “93”]
[EventDate “2008.??.??”]
[TimeControl “3600+30”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Nxd4?! 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1

White can do Nd5 next.  11…Qa5?? 12. Nd5!

Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5

Starting Point

The familiar starting point.  I think this is just bad for black.

Rfc8 14. Rc1!

The key idea that bothered GM Kudrin so much he adopted it.

14…Qd7 Trying for some counterplay via …b7-b5.

15. g4 b5 16. c4

White needs to get his own queenside space and he remains much superior on the kingside.

Qb7 17. h4 bxc4 18. Bxc4 Rc7 19. b3!

This is the key idea to prepare Qb2 and continue an attack.

Rac8 20. Qb2 h5? Black makes a mistake under pressure.

21. gxh5 Nxh5 22. Bxg7 Nxg7 23. h5 Rxc4 24. Rxc4?

White misses the h5-h6 interpolation concluding the game right away.

Rxc4 25. bxc4 Qxb2+ 26. Kxb2 gxh5 27. Kb3 Kh7 28. Kb4 Kg6 29. Kb5 Nf5 30. Ka6 Ne3 31. Kxa7 Nxc4 32. a4 e6 33. Ka6 Kg5 34. Kb5 exd5 35. a5 Nxa5 36. Kxa5 h4 37. Kb4 Kf4 38. Rxh4+ Kxf3 39. Kc3 f5 40. Kd2 f4 41. Rh6 Kg2 42. Rg6+ Kf3 43. Rxd6 Ke4 44. Ke2 f3+ 45. Kf2 d4 46. Rd8 d3 47. Rd7 {Black resigns} 1-0

The Fabulous 10s: Computer-Assisted Dragons

January 27, 2010

Or, Maybe, Computers NOT Assisting on Dragons in Holland

Random, bizarre move sequences appear on the board!  Or, maybe computers were NOT working – check the horrific blunder pair on moves 17 and 18!

[Event “Corus C”]

[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]

[Date “2010.01.26”]

[Round “9”]

[White “Li Chao”]

[Black “Robson,R”]

[Result “1-0”]

[WhiteElo “2604”]

[BlackElo “2570”]

[EventDate “2010.01.16”]

[ECO “B77”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. h4 Ne5

Since Robson was leading the tournament, this opening choice was a terrible idea! Why don’t American players have safety openings?  Now, OTOH (on the other hand), young Ray gets bravery points.  But if the Dragon is not his regular opening (and it is not), it is a monumental and perverse task to “get used to” its idiosyncratic patterns.  It’s a one-of-a-kind death-defying choice.

11. Bb3 h5

Personally I’ve always regarded this move (I believe popularized by Soltis first, maybe others?) with suspicion.  It increases the force of Nd4-f5 sacrifices in many lines.

12. O-O-O Rc8 13. Bg5 Rc5 14. Kb1 b5 15. g4 hxg4

Dangerous Deviation Alert!

16. h5

Deviation alert!  16. Bxf6! is a very dangerous try here, eliminating black’s most important defensive piece!  16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. h5 gxh5 18. Nf5! Nxf3 19. Qh6 Rxf5!! (only this way!) 20. Qg6+ with a perpetual check!  Wow!  If black avoids a perpetual with 20…Bg7?, after 21. exf5 white is much better.  The text is an old try and “discredited” in the sense white gets no advantage.  But maybe it caught black by surprise.  Note that 16. Bxf6 exf6? 17. h5 gxh5 18. Qh2! Nc4 19. Bxc4 bxc4 20. Qxd6! gives white a big advantage.

16…Nxh5 17. Nd5

Old Theory Quiz: Black's best defense is.... ?

17…Nf6? (??)

Maybe my theory is out of date, but 17…Re8! 18. Rxh5 gxh5 19. Qh2 (as in an old Short game, Short-Mandl Germany 1986 where black botched the defense and went down in flames) is met by 19…gxf3! 20. Qxh5 Bg4! and black holds.  This happened in a game Lagumina – Magalotti, Forli 1991 and black indeed drew.

Note that also in the precomputer era, 19. Qh2 Rc4? 20. Bxc4 bxc4 21. Qxh5 with a big white edge happened in Karpov-Sznapik, Dubai 1986 Olympiad.

The computer shows no advantage for white after 17…Re8! – readers?

The game move looks really bad; i.e. immediately losing.  Is it possible Robson was making stuff up in this, the sharpest of all opening choices?

18. Bh6??

A monumental blunder in return. It’s impossible to say what Chao was thinking.   The guy is rated 2604 and he misses a win that any schoolboy would play – capture, capture, and mate!  Isn’t that the entire point of the Yugoslav Attack?

The elementary 18. Nxf6+ wins easily. If 18…Bxf6 19. Qh2! simply checkmates black. If 18…exf6 19. Bh6! forces 19…Bh8, since 19…f5 is crushed by 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Qh6+ Kf6 22. f4 and wins. After 19…Bh8, white wins with the easy 20. Bxf8 Qxf8 21. Qh2 Qg7 22. fxg4 Bxg4 23. Rdg1 and wins.

What was in the water in this game? (or the Dutch pea soup?)

18…Nxd5 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Qh6+ Kf6

Did Chao miss the king could run? Embarrassing! But look what happens!

21. exd5 Nxf3 22. Ne2?

22. Nxf3 keeps the balance.  Now Chao has overstepped even the bounds of an even game!


22…Bf5 consolidates and wins for black without too much trouble!

23. dxe6 Bxe6 24. Qf4+ Rf5 25. Qxg4 Kg7 26. Bxe6 fxe6 27. Nd4 Nxd4 28. Qxd4+ e5 29. Qxa7+ R8f7 30. Qe3 Qg5 31. Qd3 Qf6
32. a3 Rf2 33. Qh3 Qf5?

Apparently black was down to increments.  33…Kg8! was bad  (but not losing) for him after 34. Rxd6 Rf1+ 35. Rd1! but it was forced.  But doesn’t white’s play over the last few moves look pretty random?  Maybe he was in time trouble too.

34. Qh8+ Mate 1-0

For the gawking observers, what the HELL was going on this opening? Will we ever know?

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 00s: 2009 USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week

November 1, 2009

USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

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

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

Fugly Caro  Advance

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



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

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

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


Knight Jump! Do it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other Week 9 News

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

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

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

Concluding Remarks

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


What if the World Had No Internet?

Amusing Postscript 11/10/09

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

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

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

October 8, 2009

The Inscrutable Chinese Dragon

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

Let’s see these games.

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

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

Chinese, anyone?

Chinese, anyone?

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

11. Bb3 Na5

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

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

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

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

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

12. Bh6 Bxh6

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

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

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

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

20. b3 Now the c3 pawn is a goner.

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

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

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

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

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

Sveshnikov Postscript: Further Weirdness

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

And for Something Different

Clouds whipping around an Island, Mon

Clouds whipping around an Island, Mon

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

The Fabulous 00s: North American Open 2008

January 21, 2009

Let’s see my 7th round game vs GM Slavko Cicak.  Shortly after this interesting game concluded, we could both be found at the Bally’s poker table.  I, in fact, lost my $100 chip stack in record time by betting wildly. GM Varuzh Akobian could be spotted at the next table over.

GM Slavko Cicak – M. Ginsburg  Round 7 NAO Las Vegas 12/28/08.

Sicilian Defense, 3. c3 4. Bc4 irregular

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Bc4!? A pet line of Cicak’s that he employed in a prior round (not known to me at the time of this game).


Position after 4. Bc4!?

4…e6 After lengthy reflection I could not work out the ramifications of 4… Nxe4!? 5. Qa4+ Nc6 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qxe4.  But more insight reveals the surprising 7…Qd7!  overprotecting the light squares  (less convincing is 7… h6 8. O-O e5 9. Na3 Qf6) and black is fully confident with the bishop pair.  For example, 8. O-O Qf5 9. Qe3 e5 10. Re1 Be7 11.d4 exd4 12. cxd4 Be6 13. Nc3 cxd4 14. Nxd4 Nxd4 15. Qxd4 Rhc8 and black is fine!  I am not sure if this approach has been seen in prior play.   Objectively 4. Bc4 cannot yield anything.

5. Qe2 Be7 6. d4 cxd4 7. cxd4 d5 8. Bb5+ Nc6 9. e5 Ne4 10. O-O O-O 11. Bd3 Black faces no particular problems after 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Bd7 13. Bd3 Na5.  After the text, black must find a promising pawn sacrifice since 11….f5?! looks weakening.


Position after 10. Bd3.  Time for black to fight back.

11… Nb4! 12. Bxe4 dxe4 13. Qxe4 Bd7 14. Qe2 During the game I was more concerned about 14. Nc3 Bc6 15. Qg4, but after the careful 15… Kh8! black is OK.  For example,  White can get tricky offering a piece: 16. Rd1 Rc8 17. Be3 Nd5 18. Ne4 h6 19. Bg5! Bxg5 (clearly 19…hxg5? is not possible due to the queen and knight mate)  20. Nfxg5 Qb6! 21. b3 Qb4! 22. h4 Rc7 and black has enough counterplay.

14… Bc6 15.Be3 After 15. Nc3 Rc8 16. Be3 h6 17. Rfd1 Nd5 18. Rac1 Qa5 19. Bd2 Nxc3 20. bxc3 Bd5! black has plenty of Gruenfeld-like compensation.

15… Bxf3!  It’s a shame to get rid of black’s beautiful bishop, but the shattering of white’s pawns leads to full compensation in all lines.

16. gxf3 f5! 17. f4 What else?  And with this move white offered a draw.  It’s card-playing time!   A sample continuation is 17… Rc8 18. Nc3 Qd7! (the most accurate; less good is 18…Qa5) 19. Rac1 Rfd8 20. Rfd1 Nd5 21. Qf3 Nxc3 22. Rxc3 Rxc3 23. bxc3 b5! and black keeps full compensation with an iron light square blockade. It’s almost impossible for white to undertake anything.


Position after 17. f4 – Final Position


Mark Diesen Memorial Articles Available!

My Mark Diesen (World Junior Champ 1976) articles are available at US Chess Online.

Don’t forget to read about Mark Diesen’s life and play over some selected games of his here (Part 2) and here (Part 1).

Facebook Rules

A lot of chess players are flocking to Facebook.  Each profile has a “wall” that can be scribbled on (and counter-scribbled).

Where else can you:

a) discuss astrophysics with Vanessa Pinkham in South Africa as she prepares to go to Madagascar

b) learn that Ben Finegold is a fan of Hypnotoad

c) see all the possible choices Carina Jorgensen has in eyewear (here’s one of her artworks).

d) gawk at pictures of Dave Vigorito and his fiancee

And for something different

The Streatham & Brixton Chess Club website has this pearl:

“Two could play at that

To his surprise, instead of making a pass at him, she sauntered over to join him at the service niche. She took up an Imperial armorers’ sponge in her fingers, and began cleaning and disinfecting the blade of an épée, which showed that she knew what she was doing.

Her curled hand stroked firmly up and down the long shaft, leaving a gleaming trail of moisture where the sponge in her palm had pressed. The erotic suggestion was almost certainly deliberate.

Two could play at that.

A short excerpt from Knight’s Fork by Rowena Cherry who, according to her publicity


…has played chess with a Grand Master and former President of the World Chess Federation (hence the chess-pun titles of her alien romances).

She has spent folly filled summers in a Spanish castle; dined on a sheikh’s yacht with royalty; been seranaded (on a birthday) by a rockstar and an English nobleman; ridden in a pace car at the 1993 Indy 500; received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; and generally lived on the edge of the sort of life that inspires her romances about high-living alien gods.

As for me, I’ve lived on the edge of the sort of life which inspires me to note that there are at least three errors of English in the paragraph above. But that’s probably why I shall be playing chess today, and Ms Cherry (not, I suspect, her maiden name) will be living a life among alien gods. Or something similar.

Or maybe she will be busy at her desk, adding to her apparently Orwell-inspired oeuvre – among which are such works as Forced Mate, Mating Net and Insufficient Mating Material.

I, at least, am not making this up.”

Author’s note:  the jig may be up – I may have to give up the anonymity afforded by the moniker “Ms. Cherry.”

Blast from the Past

Going back to 1990, here is the author tangled up with Jorge Zamora (Sammour-Hasbun) in Massachusetts.


Jorge was strong back in 1990, too

This may have been the tournament featuring my surreal victory over Jack Young. (Plymouth, 1990).

Search Engine Terms

Readers used these terms to find my site.

the watchmen 2 More stats
manhattan chess club 2 More stats
carina jorgensen 2 More stats
“lev alburt” 1 More stats
the watchmen characters 1 More stats
awardee “deming prize” 1 More stats
smith morra gambit 1 More stats
10.ba3 1 More stats
mark ginsburg 1 More stats
ozymandias watchmen 1 More stats
john litvinchuk 1 More stats
berkeley riot 1 More stats

The Fabulous 00s: Lars Bo Hansen appears on Chess.FM

November 4, 2008

A Danish Appearance

I just got a broadcast e-mail from John Henderson.  Danish Grandmaster Lars Bo Hansen is going to appear on John Watson’s Chess.FM Show.   A propos of Denmark, that’s where Shakespeare’s play Hamlet took place.  A quick refresher:

The protagonist of Hamlet is Prince Hamlet of Denmark, son of the recently deceased King Hamlet. After the death of King Hamlet, his brother, Claudius hastily marries King Hamlet’s widow, Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. In the background is Denmark’s long-standing feud with neighbouring Norway, and an invasion led by the Norwegian prince, Fortinbras, is expected.

The play opens on a cold night at Elsinore, the Danish royal castle. The sentinels try to persuade Hamlet’s friend Horatio that they have seen King Hamlet’s ghost, when it appears again. After hearing from Horatio of the Ghost’s appearance, Hamlet resolves to see the Ghost himself. That night, the Ghost appears to Hamlet. He tells Hamlet that he is the spirit of his father, and discloses that Claudius murdered King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ears. The Ghost demands that Hamlet avenge him; Hamlet agrees and decides to fake madness to avert suspicion. He is, however, uncertain of the Ghost’s reliability.

Busy with affairs of state, Claudius and Gertrude try to avert an invasion by Prince Fortinbras of Norway. Perturbed by Hamlet’s continuing deep mourning for his father and his increasingly erratic behaviour, they send two student friends of his—Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—to discover the cause of Hamlet’s changed behaviour. Hamlet greets his friends warmly, but quickly discerns that they have turned against him.

Polonius is Claudius’ trusted chief counsellor; his son, Laertes, is returning to France, and his daughter, Ophelia, is courted by Hamlet. Neither Polonius nor Laertes thinks Hamlet is serious about Ophelia, and they both warn her off. Shortly afterwards, Ophelia is alarmed by Hamlet’s strange behaviour and reports to her father that Hamlet rushed into her room but stared at her and said nothing. Polonius assumes that the “ecstasy of love”[7] is responsible for Hamlet’s madness, and he informs Claudius and Gertrude. Later, in the so-called Nunnery Scene, Hamlet rants at Ophelia, and insists she go “to a nunnery“.


A Dane Appears circa 2008

Going back to 1989, here is Lars Bo competing in the 1989 Berlin Summer Open (Joel Benjamin and I also made the foray to Berlin; this was just before the Berlin Wall came down!).


Lars Bo Hansen, Berlin, West Germany (American Sektor), 1989

What else is notable about this Chess.FM event?  Well, first of all, (and this is not widely known), John Watson was once a partyer.  What else is notable?  Lars Bo Hansen had a life as an IM before he was a GM!  Here he is as an IM battling yours truly in a provincial Danish town back in the day.

Mark Ginsburg vs Lars Bo Hansen (DEN)
Naestved Open, 1988

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Be7 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Bf6?! I don’t trust this variation for black; it looks too passive.

11. Be4 Nce7 12. Ne5 12. Qd3 is very popular in the database as well.

12…g6 Now if 12…Nc6?! 13. Qd3 and white has scored well.  White has to play very concretely now to compensate for his isolated queen pawn.


Position after 12…g6

13. Bh6 Bg7 14. Qd2 The main line in the databases is 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. Qf3. However, 15. Qd2! is dangerous for black (planning Rac1 and also sometimes h2-h4).   For example, 15. Qd2 b6 16. Rac1 Bb7 17. f3!? and white retains some pressure. The move in the game also has these dark square ideas.

14…Nf6 15. Bc2 It’s not clear how much of an edge 15. Bxg7 Nxe4!? 16. Nxe4 Kxg7 17. Rac1 Nd5 will be.  In addition, black can try 17…b6 18. Rc3!? Bb7! 19. Rh3 h5! (and not 18…Nf5? 19. g4!).  The kind of thing black does not want is instructive: 15. Bxg7 Kxg7? 16. Bf3! Ned5 17. Rac1 b6 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5! (19. Ng4? occurred in a minor-league game) 19…Qxd5? 20. Rc7! Qxa2 21. Ng4! and wins.  Or, 19…exd5 and white is comfortably better with the superior minor piece.  Nigel Short won a game recently with this kind of advantageous structural transformation.

15…b6 16. Rad1 16. Bxg7 looks more to the point.

16…Bb7 17. Bb3 Ned5 18. Bg5 A small change of mind but white retains some initiative.

18…Nxc3 18…Rc8 is more careful.

19. bxc3


Position after 19. bxc3

19… Qc8 20. Qd3 Qc7 An interesting moment.  If 20…Nd7 21. Nxf7!? is possible. 21…Rxf7 22. Bxe6 Qf8 23. Re3 Kh8 24. Bxf7 Qxf7 25. Re7 Qd5 26. Qh3 and in this scary situation, 26…Bc6! defends (but not 26…Qxg5?? 27. Rxg7! and wins).  25. c4!? is also possible in this line.  Black’s careful move avoids this possibility.

21. c4?! Correct is 21. f3 first.  21. f3 Rac8 22. c4 Ba6 23. Rc1 with a small edge.

21…Nd7! Now the b3-f7 diagonal is blocked off and black doesn’t have to worry.

22. Nxd7 22. Ng4 is met by the simple 22..h5! 23. Ne3 Rfe8! with excellent play.  Black is fine.

22…Qxd7 23. Qh3 23. d5 e5 is about equal.

23…b5! A well-timed bid for counterplay.

24. d5! This aggressive counter looks very good at first sight, but black can defend adequately.

24…bxc4 25. dxe6


Position after 25. dxe6.  Black to play and draw.

25… Qb5! 26. Be7 cxb3 27. Bxf8 Rxf8 28. e7 Re8 29. Rd8! Brief fireworks have broken out, but equilibrium is quickly reached.


Position after 29. Rd8

29… bxa2 30. Qb3! It is kind of cool to be able to hang one’s queen on purpose, but after black’s next white has nothing better than to steer for the draw.

30…Bc6! It was too much to hope for black to fall into the elementary tactical trap 30…Qc6?? 31. Qxb7 winning.

31. Rxe8+ Bxe8 32. Qxb5 Bxb5 33. e8=Q+ Bxe8 34. Rxe8+ Bf8 35. Re1 Bg7 And it’s a draw by repetition. A very interesting game! I had the distinct sense I was playing a Danish version of solid American GM Yasser Seirawan.


The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 10 — I cause the Scorpions to Miss

November 1, 2008

Narrow Miss for the Scorpions

Arizona defeated Seattle 2.5 – 1.5 in Week 10 but if we had scored 3-1 we would have made the playoffs on tiebreak, edging out both Seattle and Chicago, because Chicago (despite IM Pasalic defeating IM Bartholomew) lost to Dallas 1.5 – 2.5.

The Arizona match started well with IM Altounian holding += (and eventually drawing) vs GM Serper, and NM Harper winning a nice attacking game a while later on board 4 vs NM Lee.  That left Robby Adamson on board 3 playing WGM K. Rohonyan and me on board 2 as black against FM Slava Mikhailuk.

S. Mikhailuk (SEA) – M. Ginsburg (ARZ)  Catalan Accepted

1.c4  e6  2.Nf3  d5  3.d4  Nf6  4.g3  dxc4  5.Qa4+  Nbd7  6.Bg2  a6  7.Qxc4  b5  8.Qc2  Bb7  9.Bg5  c5 I had prepared something different but in the game white avoids the most critical paths.
10.0-0  Rc8  11.Qd2?! Trying to draw? 11…h6  12.Bxf6  Nxf6 Black has no problems and, as happened in the game, can put his dark-squared bishop to very good use.

13.dxc5  Bxc5  14.Qxd8+  Kxd8  15.Nbd2 15. Ne5? Bxg2 16. Nxf7+ Ke7 17. Nxh8 Be4! and white loses.

15…Ke7  16.Rac1  Bd5?! After a long think, a rather irrelevant move.  The simple and natural 16…Rhd8! 17. Nb3 Bb6 18. Ne5 Ne4! leaves black with a significant advantage.  For example, 19. Nd3 a5! with pressure.  I missed 18…Ne4! totally.   In addition, 16…Rhd8! might cause a miniature:  the plausible 17. Rfd1?? Ng4 18. e3 Nxe3! and wins immediately.

17.Ne5  Bd4!? 17…Bb4 18. Nb3 Bd6 is equal but I was anxious to “keep winning chances alive” – too bad the match situation eventually did not require that!

18.Nd3  a5

The computer spots 18…Bxa2!? 19. Nb4 Bxb2 20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Nxa2 a5! with interesting complications.

19.Bxd5  Nxd5  20.Nb3  Bb6  21.Ne5  a4  22.Nd2  a3! 22…Nb4 23. a3 Nc2 is also about equal, but with black more active.  The text frees up c3 as a post for black’s knight.

23.bxa3  Nc3  24.Kg2  Rhd8  25.Nb3  Nxe2?! Too hasty.  Correct, and a move I had seen but inexplicably did not select, was the “ejecting” f7-f6 and black has an edge.

26.Rc6?! Better is 26. Nc6+ Kf6 27. Nxd8 Nxc1 28. Rxc1 Rxd8 29. Rc6 Rb8 30. Nc1 Ke7 31. Nd3 with only a very small black edge.

26…Bc7  27.Nf3  Bd6  28.Rb6  Nc3  29.Nfd4  Kf6  30.Nxb5  Nxb5  31.Rxb5  Bxa3  32.Ra5  Ra8!  33.Rxa8  Rxa8 The smoke has cleared somewhat and black has a solid edge.  He has a better minor piece and pressure against the weak pawn.  This is actually a textbook example of the bishop’s superiority over the knight in an open board.


Position after 34. Rd1.  Black to play and torture white for a long, long time.

34…Bb4?? Totally wrong.  34…e5!  keeps the a-pawn locked up, prevents Rd4, and black continues  to improve his game with kingside pawn advances.   He can press for a long time for the full point.  At this point I had a psychological problem – I had glanced at Robby’s game and Rohonyan had a strong knight on d4 but some weak pawns.  It looked unclear to me.  Since we were about to go up 1.5 – 0.5 (Harper was winning) I wasn’t sure if I needed to win or draw.  This uncertainty persisted, because as I got low on time I didn’t recheck (a blunder) Robby’ game – he shortly won a pawn and was on his way to winning, but I never knew that.  If I knew he was winning, I would have saved a lot of energy and time just drawing and not pressing crazily for a win.

35.Rd4! Now white’s a2-pawn escapes its tomb and gets to a4 and it’s equal.

35…Bc3  36.Rc4  Be5  37.a4  g5  38.Kf3  Ke7  39.Ke4  Bd6  40.Nd4  f5+  41.Kd3  g4  42.Kc2  h5  43.Kb3  f4 43…Rb8+ 44. Nb5 Rb6! 45. Rc8 Kd7 46. Rh8 Bc5! is equal and easy to play.  In addition, 43…Kd7 (doing nothing) for example 44. Nb5 e5! preventing Rd4.

44.Nb5  fxg3 44…f3 is not bad either.  For example, 45. Rc6 Be5 46. Kb4 Rd8! 47. Rc2 Rd1 48. a5 Ra1! is dead equal.

45.hxg3  Rf8  46.Rc2  h4?! Too frisky.  46…Rb8! just waiting is correct.


Position after 47. Nxd6:  Problem-like continuation possible


The aesthetic 47…hxg3!! is a great move in sudden death.  On the very plausible 48. Ne4 black has the problem-like 48… g2! 49. Rc1 g3!! and only white can worry now.  In time-trouble white would probably choose the safe 48. fxg3 Kxd6 49. a5 and then 49…Rb8+! sidelines the white king — 50. Ka4 e5 51. a6 e4 and black will make a draw.

48.gxh4  Rf3+  49.Kb4  Rh3  50.Kb5  Rxh4  51.a5  Rh1  52.Rc4  Rf1  53.a6  Rxf2  54.a7  Rf8  55.Rxg4  Kd5  56.Rg7  e5  57.Rd7+  Ke4  58.Kb6 Even after black’s inaccurate play (considering the dream risk-free edge after the 33rd move), this position is still fairly easily drawn.

58…Ra8?? Why this passive move?  If 58..Kf3? white has the elementray tactic 59. Rf7+!, but with a little more time I spot the simple 58…Ke3! to assist the e-pawn and draw.  58…Ke3! 59. Rb7 threatens Rb8, but then 59…Ra8 60. Rb8 Rxa7 61. Kxa7 e4 and it’s a simple draw.   The text makes black’s drawing path narrower.  I had very little time left and was tortured by thoughts of “not winning” (not realizing Robby was winning) and didn’t know I only had to draw!  Bad team play.

59.Kb7  Rxa7+  60.Kxa7  Kf3  61.Rf7+  Ke3  62.Kb6

Position after 62. Kb6

The entire playoff comes down to this diagram.  Only one way to qualify…

62…Kd4?? At this late stage, it was still drawn.  The blunder in the game is the final straw.  A student of endings knows, without needing time to think, 62…e4! 63. Kc5 Kd3 64. Rd7+ Kc3 65. Re7 (65. Ra7 comes down to the same thing) 65…Kd3 66. Ra7 e3 67. Ra3+ Kd2 68. Kd4 e2 69. Ra2+ Kd1 70. Kd3 hoping for 70…d1=Q?? 71. Ra1 mate.  But black underpromotes, 70…d1=N+! and after 71. Kc3 Nf3! black draws and we make the playoffs.    Of course it would be tragicomic here if black had set ‘always queen’ on in Blitzin and that caused 70…d1=Q.    Very disappointing.

63.Kb5  e4  64.Kb4  Kd3  65.Rd7+  Kc2  66.Re7  Kd3  67.Kb3  e3  68.Rd7+  Ke2  69.Kc2  Black resigns 1-0

Robby won a few minutes later against WGM Rohonyan to give the Scorpions a 2.5 – 1.5 match victory  😦

An agonizing playoff miss by the narrowest of margins.

Unrelated:  Remind me why the ban on assault weapons was lifted?

The availability of weapons that spray out lots of bullets really fast is not exactly the best thing for society.  Let’s see two recently examples (every day there are more).  Conversely but not surprisingly, it’s hard to find a story where “Joe Six Pack” owning an AK-47 or an Uzi is a “good thing” for society.  In any case, thanks, NRA for this Halloween merriment!

SUMTER, South Carolina (AP) 11/01/08 — An ex-convict who said he thought he was being robbed gunned down a 12-year-old trick-or-treater, spraying nearly 30 rounds with an assault rifle from inside his home after hearing a knock on the door, police said Saturday.

And thanks NRA for good-timey machine-gun shoot-offs!

Westfield, MA 10/26/08

An event at a Westfield gun club turned tragic today when an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head and later died at a Springfield hospital, Westfield Police said.

The child’s death — caused by a fully automatic Uzi machine gun — appears to have been an accident; but it remains under investigation, police said.

The Westfield Police Department released a statement about what they described as a self-inflicted, accidental shooting, which occurred at 2 p.m. at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club on Furrowtown Road.

In a telephone interview tonight, Westfield Police Officer Carl Girard confirmed the boy died of his injuries — a wound to the right side of the head — at Baystate Medical Center. Police did not release the child’s name, nor did they say where he lived. The Springfield Republican reported that the child was not from Westfield.

“Witnesses state that he was shooting the weapon down range when the force of the weapon made it travel up and back toward his head, where he suffered the injury,” the police statement read.

The boy’s father was at the event and accompanied him to the hospital, police said.

The sportsman’s club was hosting its annual “Great New England Pumpkin Shoot” during the weekend, police said. Officials from the club could not be reached.

The event was organized by C.O.P. Firearms & Training, an Amherst company which, according to its website, organizes machine gun shoots throughout New England. Officials from that group also could not be reached.  (if they started to talk about the fundamental right to own assault weapons, that might generate further bad press).

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 9

October 23, 2008

Predictors Foiled by Wontons

The USCL predictors didn’t see the chameleon nature of the Scorpions in Week 9 – we came up hissing.

Ed Scimia wrote, “Chicago vs. Arizona: This is a huge match for the Blaze, while the Scorpions are only mathematically alive for a playoff spot. Much like Seattle, I think Chicago will come up big knowing they need the win. Prediction: Chicago 2.5, Arizona 1.5 ”  But a chess match is just four guys playing four games – no way for the squad to cross-energize itself with stunning coups. 😀

The Lime of the Bionic variety similarly went astray predicting Chicago 3 Arizona 1. Newcomer MatanP picked Chicago 2.5, and Ron Young hedges his with “probably” but went for Chicago 2.5 also.  Arun Sharma said, “Like previous matches, it’s clear who this match holds more meaning for given each team’s respective playoff hopes. Add to that the fact that Van de Mortel and Tate have both been playing quite well this season, and Ginsburg and Rensch have been struggling, I think this one’s easy to call. Chicago 3 – 1.”    Indeed, on paper, it was easy to call.   But we had an “X” factor!

What none of them knew was that our team ate a marvelous Chinese food meal before the game!  This boosted us (well, almost all of us) by adding 150 ELO points to each player.  Crab wontons, shrimp with orange peel, and other gourmet items normally only seen in World Championship matches.  It is absolutely critical to eat well (but not eat too much) before a match! I am not advocating here Feldsteinian eating-noisily-and-messily-at-the-board.  This “X” factor propelled us (well, three of us) into other-worldly Caissic strength.   So the next time a Scimia or a Young or a Sharma or even a “MatanP” (who??) sits down and ponders, ponder this:  will we be nourished by crab wontons?

The matches themselves

Chicago vs Arizona

1. GM Nikola Mitkov (CHC) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ)  0-1
2. IM Mark Ginsburg (ARZ) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC)  1-0

Sicilian Dragon

1.e4  c5  2.Nf3  d6  3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nf6  5.Nc3  g6  6.Be3  Bg7  7.f3  0-0  8.Qd2  Nc6  9.0-0-0   Nxd4 9…d5 is a whole other story.  I witnessed a game Josh Friedel-Warren Harper where white won fairly convincingly after 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 e5 13. Bc5. I don’t know the last word, though.

10.Bxd4  Be6  11.Kb1  Qc7  12.Nd5  Bxd5  13.exd5  Rfc8  14.Rc1  Qd7  15.g4  b5  16.c4 Black is theoretically OK after 16. g5.  16. h4 is possible but after 16…Qb7 I only see 17. c4 transposing back to the game.

16…Qb7  17.h4  bxc4  18.Bxc4  Rc7 The daring 18…Nxd5!? looks to be playable.  After 19. Bxg7 Nb6! 20. Bxf7+ Kxf7 21. Bc3 the computer says, believe it or not, 21…Ke8!? to hit f3.  It’s hard to believe, but the king seems to be finding light square safety on d7.  On the other hand, 18…a5?! 19. h5! looks good for white.

19.b3?! Not very impressive.   The non-human 19. Qa5! is a good choice.  The direct 19. h5!? Rac8 20. Qd3 is also possible with very sharp play. If 20. Qd3 Qb4 21. a3 Qa4 22. Bb5! gives white a good ending.

19…Rac8 19…a5!? 20. h5 a4!? with a crazy position is thematic.

20.Qb2  h5? This is a game-ending mistake.  20…a5! is correct.

21.gxh5  Nxh5  22.Bxg7  Nxg7  23.h5! Now white wins.

23…Rxc4 The point is 23…gxh5 24. Rhg1 (or 24. Rcg1) f6 25. Rxg7+! Kxg7 26. Rg1+ and white mates after 26…Kf7 27. Qg2.  White wins a piece and the game after the prosaic 26…Kh8 27. Qc1 e5 28. Qh6+ Rh7 29. Qxf6+ Rg7 30. Ba6!

24.Rxc4  Rxc4  25.bxc4? White could have saved time and energy with 25. h6! Nh5 26. bxc4 Qxb2+ 27. Kxb2 Kh7 28. Re1! and it’s over.  I didn’t spot the nice 25. h6! at all.

25…Qxb2+  26.Kxb2  gxh5  27.Kb3 Going for the a-pawn is simple enough.  Black is not in time.

27… Kh7  28.Kb4  Kg6  29.Kb5  Nf5  30.Ka6  Ne3  31.Kxa7  Nxc4  32.a4  e6  33.Ka6  Kg5  34.Kb5  exd5  35.a5  Nxa5  36.Kxa5  h4  37.Kb4  Kf4  38.Rxh4+  Kxf3  39.Kc3  f5  40.Kd2  f4  41.Rh6  Kg2  42.Rg6+  Kf3  43.Rxd6  Ke4  44.Ke2  f3+  45.Kf2  d4  46.Rd8  d3  47.Rd7  Black resigns 1-0

3. IM Emory Tate (CHC) vs FM Daniel Rensch (ARZ)  1-0
4. NM Joel Johnson (ARZ) vs Ilan Meerovich (CHC)  1-0

were fairly interesting.  I will go over some of them in a day or two after I recover from the verdammt drive to and from Mesa, AZ.

Chess Dregs

For a jaw-dropping sleaze maneuver, see this non-profit’s victimization tale. It’s hard to believe people would behave like this (perhaps learned in a bad MBA program or the perpetrator is otherwise hard-up for cash?).  Symptomatic of society in general or just an aberrant small piece of poop dropped on Illinois Chess by a diseased seagull?

Corporate Chess and Bridge News

In merger talks certain to doom both companies, National Master Stephen Feinberg and his Cerberus private equity firm are trying to merge Chryster and GM. This ‘maneuver’ is another question mark following the question mark move of Cerberus acquiring Chryster in the first place (and a share of the toxic GMAC).     And I cannot understand how bridge player Warren Spector avoided being on Anderson Cooper’s heavily watched video series “10 Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse.” A young guy groomed to be the successor of the (now down-in-flames) Bear Stearns (with plenty of aloof energy) is more to blame than his sedentary bridge-playing boss, Jimmy Cayne.  Have you noticed a trend?  Chess and bridge are disasters in the corporate setting. 🙂

Update: Chrysler Doomed – Checkmate

NEW YORK ( — Chrysler LLC plans to reduce its white-collar workforce by 25% by the end of the year, the company said in an announcement Friday.

The cuts, about 5,000 workers in total, will come from Chrysler’s salaried and supplemental workforce. Chrysler has about 18,500 white-collar workers.

Do Cerberus cronies suffer?   I think not.

As Peter M. De Lorenzo (author of “The United States of Toyota”) states,

“As I mentioned last week, the Cerberus infatuation with the auto biz is so done that they can’t wait to unload Chrysler, a humiliating admission from the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe and an emphatic indictment of the formerly unimpeachable Cerberus brain trust/posse. That the automobile business is unlike any other in the world was completely lost on Cerberus managers. And the fact that they entered the fray at the exact wrong moment in history is indisputable. But more on that in a moment.”

At least chess gets some good PR here – masters of some sort of Universe.