Archive for the ‘Chess Tournaments’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 7

October 8, 2008

USCL Week 7:  Sicilian Kan Excitement

Matthew Herman (NY) – Ilya Krasik (BOS)  USCL Week 7  Sicilian Kan

My favorite opening!  Black got a good game…

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. g3 Bb4 7. Bd2 I think 7. Ne2 is stronger with a later slow advance h3, g4, and Ng3.  Kudrin played this way against me in a Bar Point International in the 1980s and a hard-fought draw resulted.

7…Nc6 8. a3 Be7 9. Be3 Nf6 10. Bg2

Some hidden ICC knowledge here.

10…Ne5 On ICC a certain Israeli GM who always shouts “ooh la la chess” has demonstrated to me in blitz that the surprising but logical 10… h5! is strong here.  For example, 11. h3 h4 12. g4 and now 12…Ne5 13. O-O Nc4 14. Bc1 O-O 15. b3 Ne5 16. Bb2 Ng6! and through craftiness, eyeing f4, black is fine.  Play could continue 17. Re1 d6 18. Nce2 Bd7 19. f4 d5! with excellent chances.

11. O-O Nc4 12. Bc1 O-O 13. b3 Na5 14. Bb2 Nc6 15. Kh1 d6 16. f4 Bd7 17. g4?! Hyper-aggressive – quite Bulgarian.  But white’s name does not sound Bulgarian….

17…Nxd4 18. g5 The “point” of the 17th move.  But this doesn’t really work.  I guess you could say it’s a high class bluff.

18…Nc6 In a Boylston blog entry, Marc Esserman points out 18…Nxe4! is a very good alternative here.  For example, 19. Qxd4 Nxc3 20. Bxc3 f6! 21. f5 e5 22. Qd5+ Kh8 and white is out of steam.  Or, 19. Nxe4 Nf5!  20. c4 Bc6 with insufficient compensation for white’s pawn minus. The text is also fine.

19. gxf6 Bxf6 Marc Esserman mentions 19…gxf6!? – after 20. Qh5 Kh8 21. Ne2!? Qa5!? chances are equal.  But after 21. Rf3?! Rg8 22. Qxf7 Rg7 black is a little better.

20. e5 dxe5(!) 20…Be7 21. Ne4 leads to unclear complications after both 21…d5 22. Nf6+!? and 21…dxe5 22. fxe5.  The text looks risky, but due to black’s improvement on move 21 I think it is good.

21. Ne4 White is certainly making menacing moves.  But his king is also open.  This is the key moment.

21…Be7? A reflexive retreat but this piece jams up black’s defenses. Also not good is 21… Bh4? 22. Qh5 Be7 23. fxe5 g6 24. Qh6 Nxe5 25. Ng5 Bxg5 26.Qxg5 and black collapses.  Nevertheless there is a great resource here.  It is 21… Kh8!! 22. Nxf6 (22. Qh5? g6 followed by Bg7 and black wins) 22…gxf6.

Now if 23. Qf3 Nd4! 24. Qxb7 Qxb7 25. Bxb7 Rab8 leaves black on top.  Let’s say white plays the more aggressive 23. Qh5. Doesn’t this look scary for black?  No!  23…Rg8! and ignore what white is doing!  White can never play Bg2xc6 because Bd7xc6 is CHECK.  This is black’s secret weapon – the naked white king. Note in passing 23…f5? is weak due to 24. Rae1 f6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 26. Rxe5! fxe5 27. Re1 and white has exploited a tactical hole.

After 23…Rg8!, if 24. Rad1 Rg6 25. fxe5 Na5! is a subtle and good answer, similar to the next line, which is 24. fxe5.  On 24. fxe5, play might continue 24… Na5! — a very powerful shot to clear c6 for the bishop and hit c2.  These are hard moves to find. If 25. Rf2 Bc6 26. Rg1 f5! and black has eliminated problems on the b2-h8 diagonal.  27. Qh4 Rg6! and he’s on his way to victory since he has completely taken over the initiative.  This defensive motif deserves a picture.

Position after 27…Rg6! (analysis).  Black takes over the attack.

Black’s game mistake of 21…Be7? is easy to understand. It’s very hard though to accept Ne4xf6 and the ruining of the pawns around the king, and the scary looking dark square holes with white’s bishop sitting on b2.  In most Sicilians, black preserves at all cost the dark square bishop.  This case was a big exception.   In the game, black got into a logjam and after further inaccuracies white quickly broke through.

22. fxe5 Kh8! 22… Rfd8 23. Qh5 Rf8 24. Nf6+ is crushing.

As Matthew Herman points out in the comments, black is already lost.

23. Qh5 g6? A fatal misstep in a tough position.  23…h6!? 24. Rxf7 Rxf7 25. Qxf7 Rf8 is good for black.  But white can improve with 24. Nf6! Bc5 25. Rad1 Rad8? 26. Bc1! intending Bxh6.  Black in turn can improve here with 25…Be8 and if 26. Bc1 Qxe5 and he fights on, although it’s good for white after 27. Qh3.   Best seems the cold-blooded 23…Rad8! and if 24. Nf6 h6 25. Rad1 Nb8!! (very difficult to spot, defending and counter-attacking)  26. Bc1 Qxc2 27. Bxh6 Qg6! deals with white’s mating plans!

As Matthew Herman points out in the comments, 23….Rad8 24. Rf6! wins for white. as does 23…h6 24. Rf6!  A nice interference theme with the same winning move as the famous debacle Fischer-Benko US Championship 1963. Amusingly, Benko blamed this loss in his autobiography on too much partying with the ladies the evening prior.

24. Qh6 Nd8 25. Nf6 1-0

And for Something Different: Bellwether

On the financial news today, I heard the phrase “IBM is the bellwether of technology stocks.”   I knew the term meant “an indicator” – as it goes, so do the tech stocks.  I thought the word was “belleweather” as is “good weather” but that doesn’t make sense.  I was wrong, it’s spelled “bellwether”.  Where does this word with its strange spelling come from?   I looked it up and I was surprised to see “castrated male sheep” was part of the word’s origins (   Ow!  See below.

And ‘bell’ may well  indeed be from ‘belle’ (French, old English for ‘pretty’) – note the female connotations in the definition for ‘belle’ below applied then to the castrated male sheep in the compound word ‘bellwether’.  What a fascinating word!  Bellwether!    Queens is the bellwether of the USCL East.   A counter-argument can be made that ‘bell’ is just a bell so the Bellwether is the male castrated sheep with a bell around its neck (an “indicator” of the herd’s travels).  We might have to time-travel back to Hastings, 1622, to learn the truth.

Belle  –noun

1. a woman or girl admired for her beauty and charm.
2. the most beautiful, charming, or engaging woman or girl among a number: the belle of the ball.

Main Entry: bellwether1
Part of Speech: n
Definition: an indication of a trend
Etymology: Middle English belle ‘bell’ + wether ‘castrated male sheep’

This website is the bellwether of posts about bellwether. Ron Young is the bellwether of USCL Predictors.

To prove the topicality of this apparent dribble, this just in on October 10th, 2008:

“On Friday, General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) reported third-quarter financial results that were in line with estimates. The company posted a 10% drop in earnings from continuing operations and an 11% gain in revenue, meeting analyst expectations.

The company is considered a stock market bellwether, so its financial results are closely watched. The company had previously lowered its guidance, citing the financial crisis. GE reaffirmed that outlook and also said its financial services arm, which has been hard hit by the crisis, reported a 30% drop in profit that met forecasts. GE shares rose 1% Friday morning.”

And there’s even a bellwether town in Ohio. High-pitched baa!

And on the Chess Teaching Front:

From: Precious Garcia

Hello,I am Precious Garcia,My son is coming for an holiday in your area,His name is Andre,14 years.I want him to be busy in the day. I have decided to let him attend your lesson for 1 hours in a day in the morning or time that you will be chance. i want you to calculate the cost of 1 hours each day for Mon, Wed & Fri for the whole 1 Month and send me the total cost,i will be paying you with Certified check ,so get back to me with your cost.I have someone that will always drive him down to your house or lesson venue.Kindly get back to me with.1.YOUR CHARGE FOR 1 HOUR. 2.TOTAL CHARGES FOR 1 MONTH THAT HE WILL BE TAUGHT 3 TIMES PER WEEK.3. FULL NAME AND ADDRESS WITH ZIP CODE.4.YOUR PHONE NUMBER.Don’t hesitate to e-mail with your total charges.Thanks and looking to hearing from you soon. With Best Regards.Precious Garcia

I gave the usual response of converting in Pounds Sterling and awakening the Caissic Intermediates.  Waiting for Andre.

Comic Interlude

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping
trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they
were exhausted and went to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his
faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell
me what you see.” Watson replied, “I see millions and
millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?”

Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it
tells me that there are millions of galaxies and
potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I
observe that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, I deduce
that the time is approximately a quarter past three.
Theologically, I can see that the Lord is all
powerful and that we are small and insignificant.
Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a
beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”

Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke.

“Watson, you idiot, someone has stolen our tent.”

Editor’s note:  depending on your audience, substituting ‘asshole’ for ‘idiot’ in the punchline may generate more laughs.

The Fabulous 90s: The Manhattan CC 1990 International

October 7, 2008

The Big 1990 Show at Carnegie Hall

The July, 1990 round-robin international at the Manhattan Chess Club (Carnegie Hall, 57th St and 7th Ave., NY NY) was very strong.  We had:

  • IM Alex Fishbein (Samford Award winner, who made a GM norm in this event)
  • GM Gregory Kaidanov
  • Future GM and well-known USSR Trainer Avigdor Bykhovsky.  Bykhovsky stayed with Joel and I and brought with him plenty of food supplies:  dozens of tins of USSR preserved meat that resembled deviled ham (I think).  All he needed to borrow was a can-opener and he was all set.
  • ex-WC Candidate GM Yefim Geller now in the twilight of his career (he passed away shortly after the event)
  • GM Bozidar Abramovich
  • IM (future-GM of course) Alex Sherzer, my guest for the event.  Alex stayed over at a gigantic 3-bedroom apartment real estate barons Joel Benjamin and me controlled on the Upper West Side.
  • IM Michael Brooks
  • IM Mark Ginsburg
  • GM Alex Wojtkiewicz
  • GM Alex Ivanov

It all started well for me in the first round.  Although I was working at a programming job for SIAC (yuck!!) in “Metrotech” (some called this place “MetroDreck”) Brooklyn, I seemed fresh enough here:

Mark Ginsburg – Alexander Fishbein (2470) MCC Int’l 1990 Round 1.

Dutch Defense, 4. Bf4 gambit line

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4 Just another weird anti-Dutch gambit, not allowing 4. f3? e5!.   For more gambits, see this post.


Position after 4. Bf4.  By transposition, the  Pöhlmann Defense of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

White plans to simply play f2-f3 and leave black with a sick pawn formation.

4…Nf6 5. Bc4 Very logical is 5. f3!? exf3 (5… e6 6. fxe4 fxe4 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6! 10. a3! and white has some compensation) 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Bg5 c6 9. Qd3 b5 10. Bb3 Na6 and now we follow a chaotic old James Tarjan game. (10… b4 11. Ne2 Qc7 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. O-O-O with compensation) 11. a3 Nc7 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 g5 14. Rae1? Unsound. 14. Bf2 is fine. 14… gxh4 15. Qxf5 Qe7 (15… Rg8 16. Nxh4 Be7 17. Qf2 Rg7) 16. Qg6+ Kd8 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nfd5 (18… Nd7 19. Ne4 (19.Rf7 Qg5 20. Qe4 Nd5) 19… Nd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Nxf8 23. Qxh6 Kc7 24. Nxb5+ Kb8 and white is a bit better) 19. Rf7? (19. Ne4! with a huge edge) 19… Qg5 20. Qd3 Rg8 21. Qf3 h3 (21… Nxc3 22. bxc3 (22. Qxc6 N3d5 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rf2 Nb6 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Bd7 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Qxa8+ Ke7) 22… Nd5 and black wins) 22. g3 Qd2 23. Re2 Qc1+ Now black should win. 24. Kf2 Qg5? (24… Bd7 wins) 25. Ne4! Qxe5 26. c3 Ne7? (26… Rg6 is fine for black) 27. Qd3+? (27. Nf6 is much better for white ) 27… Ncd5 28. Nf6 Qd6 29. Nxg8 Nxg8 30. Qh7 Nge7 31. Qxh6 Bd7?? A losing blunder. 31… Kc7 32. Qxh3 Kb8 33. Qh5 Nf5 34. Qh8 is equal. 32. Bxd5 Nxd5 33. Rf8+ Be8 34. Rxe8+ and it turns out white had the last laugh – 1-0 Tarjan,J-Gutierrez,J/Bogota 1979

5… e6 6. Nge2 Bd6 6… Nd5!? is interesting here. 7. O-O Be7 8. f3 Nxf4 9. Nxf4 is about equal.

7. O-O O-O Black can try to delay castling: 7… Nc6 8. Bxd6 cxd6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Bb3 exd5 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nef4 Bxd5 13. Nxd5 and white has some compensation.

8. f3 exf3 Playable is 8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.

9. Rxf3 Kh8 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Rd1 Re8 12. Bg5 Be7 Although it looks dangerous, 12…e5 was quite playable here.

13. Rh3 e5 14. Qe1!? At the time, I thought I was doing quite well with this ‘attacking retreat’. However, black does have a good move here, which Fishbein failed to find.


Position after 14. Qe1!? – not as great for me as I had thought.


This was the key moment. 14… Nxd4?? is very weak due to 15. Nxd4 Bc5 (15… exd4 16. Qh4 h6 17. Bxh6 Ng4 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qh7+ wins) 16. Qh4 Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Qd7 18. Nd5 and wins. The right move was 14… Ne4! 15. Nxe4 (15. Qh4? Nxg5 ) 15..fxe4 16. Bxe7 (16. Rxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qh4+ Kg6 does not work) Qxe7 and black stands better, having gotten out of the potentially annoying d-file attack by the white rook.

15. Qh4! White is much better now. Maybe black missed this simple move.

15…h6 16. dxe5 Bxg5? This is hopeless. 16… Bd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nf4 is terrible for black but still better than the text.

17. Rxd8 Bxd8 18. Qh5 Rf8 19. e6 Nce5 20. Nf4 From now on, there are numerous wins. White chose the primitive path of eating the most dangerous black pieces.

20…Kh7 21. Be2 Most effective is 21. Bd3! g5 22. Ncd5 Kg7 23. e7 Bxe7 24. Nxe7 gxf4 25. Nxf5+ Rxf5 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. Qxf5 Rf8 28. Qe4 and wins.

21… Be7 22. Ncd5 g6 23. Nxg6 Rather crude, but it works Black’s protection of h6 gets overloaded.


22… Bc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxe6 24… Nxg6 25. Bxg4 Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 fxg4 27. Qxg4 wins.

25. Nxe5 Rf6 No better is 25…Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Nxe3 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Qxe3 and wins.

26. N5xg4 fxg4 27. Qxc5 Raf8 28. Bd3+

Black resigned. He is down hopeless amounts of material. 1-0 To Fishbein’s credit, he did more than rebound from this first round defeat – he went on to get a GM norm!

In the middle rounds, I had “trouble” losing vastly superior games to Geller and Kaidanov and Avigdor Bykhovsky which I will come back to.  When in doubt, blame the payroll job.   The “Man” costs energy.

In the last round (round 9) this barn-burner occurred:

IM M. Ginsburg – GM A. Wojtkiewicz 2550 FIDE   MCC Int’l 1990, Round 9.  Saemisch Benoni

My first personal encounter with the humorous Alex who unfortunately passed away last year.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.f3 O-O 7.Bg5 e6 8.Qd2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 Igor Ivanov used to harshly criticize this move, saying the rook is much better placed on f8.

10.Nge2 Na6 11.Ng3 Nc7 12.Be2 a6 13.a4 Rb8 14.a5 Bd7 15.O-O Bb5 16.Na4 Bxe2 17.Nxe2 Nb5 18.Rac1

So far, both sides seem to be doing logical things. Now the game goes crazy.

Position after 18. Rac1.  Things get weird.


This move astounded me.  Black gambits king safety for initiative on a wing where there are no kings!

19.Bxh6 Bxh6 20.Qxh6 Qxa5 21.Nac3 Nxc3 22.Rxc3 Qb5 23.Ng3 Aren’t I checkmating this guy?

23…Nh7 24.f4 Qxb2

I really thought he had gone cuckoo for setting his king on fire in order to go after this b-pawn.  And maybe he had.  But I wasn’t up to the challenge (see note to white’s 27th).

25.Rfc1 Kh8 26.e5!

Obvious but nice. See prior comment.


Position after 26..Qd2!

Ingenious!  The lone queen to the rescue!  For some reason, I expected 26…dxe5 27. Ne4! Rg8 28. fxe5 and white wins easily.  Now I became disoriented.  To fight ingenious… one needs ingenious!


Wrongly forcing a draw.   The grotesque blunder 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Kh1?? loses, as 28…Qxe4 29. Rh3 g5! defends h7.  But white can torture some more with 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Nf2! Qd2 29. Ng4! Kg8 30. Ne3! with nasty ideas like 30…dxe5?? 31. Nf5! winning.  White keeps an edge.  This ingenious Ne4-f2-g4-e3 maneuver never occurred to me.  I didn’t have much time, but still this position is so “attractive” I should have worked harder to find something.

27…gxf5 28.Rh3 Qxc1+

With the grand fizzle – a perpetual check.

29.Kf2 Qd2+ 30.Kf1 Qd1+ 31.Kf2 Qd4+ 32.Kf1 Qc4+ 33.Kf2 Qc2+ 34.Kf1 Qd1+ 35.Kf2 Qd2+ 36.Kf1 1/2-1/2

It was a distinct relief to finally end this tournament.  Why?  When I fill in the report with the losses, you will understand. 🙂

And for Something Different

The Clock Punching Monkeys article in Chinese (translation requested by a curious Asian reader, I presume).  Click to enlarge.

Clock Punching Monkey Chinese Style

I just hope the Asian reader wasn’t trying to learn about monkeys and stumbled across this non sequitur.

The Fabulous 00s: Hammer Time

October 7, 2008

A Foray Into the English-Dutch with Mr. Hammer

No, not MC Hammer.  Jon Ludwig Hammer!

The talented Norwegian junior J.L. Hammer and I had a battle royale at the North American Open, Las Vegas, 2006.   He emanated a lot of original ideas in this game and other games.  It’s easy to see a future GM with this guy.

It’s kind of humorous that I was 2435 FIDE many years before he was born then he pops into existence and quickly eclipses me.

The author with pink glasses (OK one of two guys with pink glasses) and other ne’er do wells before their declining years. Pan-Ams, 1981, New York City.  Spot the future US Champion.

Join the workforce, Mr. Hammer!  Waste many years in doctoral studies!  See yourself decline!  (Sour Grapes).  Here’s his rating chart – quite a rise with it standing at 2522 at present.

Mr. Hammer is doing just fine, thank you.

M. Ginsburg – Jon Ludwig Hammer  Crazy Norwegian Subvariation of the English-Dutch. North American Open, Las Vegas, NV, December 2006.

1. c4 b6 2. d4 e6 3. a3 Bb7 4. Nc3 f5!? Very logical.

5. Nf3 Nf6 6. d5 Na6 Another perplexezoid variation here is 6…Bd6!? 7. Nd4 (7. g3) 7…Be5!? 8. dxe6 O-O! with good counterplay.  Both 6…Na6 and 6…Bd6 are totally viable.

7. b4

Position after 7. b4.  It’s Hammer Time.


Wow!!  I’ve heard of irregular openings… but this?   GM Bauer was unsuccessful with 7…g6! 8. Bb2 Bg7 9. Qb3 O-O 10. e3 c5!? in Suba-Bauer Calvia 2005, 1-0, 50 moves, but black looks all right at this point.  Black also has 10…Qe7!? 11. Be2 and now 11…c5 with very good chances at complete equality.  The line especially with the careful 7…g6! deserves to live!

8. axb4 Bxb4 9. Bd2 9. Qb3 a5 with very unclear play.

9…exd5 Not bad at all is 9…O-O!? and if 10. Qb3 once again the pesky 10…a5.  Better for white seems 9…O-O 10. e3 where 10…f4?! is insufficient due to 11. exf4 Bxc3 12. Bxc3 exd5 13. Be2.

10. cxd5 Qe7 11. Qb3 Bxc3 12. Bxc3 Bxd5 13. Qa3 c5?! Clearly it was on black’s agenda to attack crazily but 13…Qxa3 with a small disadvantage  would have been a lot safer.

14. e3 f4 15. O-O Be6 15…Bxf3 is safer.

16. exf4 O-O? 16…Ne4 was called for.

17. Bd3 17. Ng5 was also strong.


Now comes a good finish.

17. f5 Bxf5 18. Bxf5 Rxf5 20. Qa4! Double attack on d7 and g4.

Position after 20. Qa4.

20…Nxf2 If 20…Nf6 21. Rhe1 Qf8 22. Bxf6 Qxf6 23. Rxd7 decides.

21. Qa2+ The long-range queen picks up the N on f2.

21…c4 22. Qxf2 Rb5 23. Qd4 and black resigns.


If for example 23…Rc8 24. Rhe1 Qf7 25. Qxd7 is the end.

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Round 5 Carolina vs Arizona

September 26, 2008

Round 5:  Neither Team Deserves Kudos

Arizona and Carolina had a hard-fought but horribly blunderful 2-2 draw in Round 5.

On board 4, we were somewhat lucky as Warren Harper scored a win over Craig Jones in a game with numerous errors.  Warren made the proverbial next-to-last mistake.  On board 3, Robby Adamson’s opponent Simpson played a higly dubious opening but Robby tanked and could only get an equal rook ending – and drew.  Our top two boards were a major disappointment.  On board 1, IM Altounian was crushing over IM Milman.  We were hampered here as his computer kept disconnecting to the apparently finicky U of Arizona network.  He missed a mate in two and numerous other wins, to land in a B + 3 pawns vs lone Rook that was drawn, since the B was virtually a tall pawn. And I totally botched my game in mutual time pressure after playing a nice middle-game.

FM Zaikov (CAR) – IM Ginsburg (ARZ)  Round 5 USCL  Bogo-Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 a5 4…Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 Qe7 is quite possible; as is 4…Qe7.  I once shocked Seirawan, World Open 1984, with 4…c5 but many games have been played with that in the meantime.

5.Nc3 d6 6.Qc2 Nbd7 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Bxc3 At this point, Zaikov’s relayer typed bc3 and the computer, of course, played b2xc3.  The move was “taken back” on ICC and I was given 5 more minutes. USCL rules state this is what happens when there is a typing typo.  I wish he had been given 5 less minutes!

8…Qe7 9.g3 e5 10.Bg2 0-0 11.0-0 Re8 12.e4 b6!? 13.Rae1?! Aggressive but it looks strange.  In the game, since e5 strongpoint is held, the rook winds up doing nothing here.  I would prefer putting it on d1 or c1.

13…h6 Basically a waiting move to tempt white into his next.

14.Nh4 Ba6! If 15. b3 a4!

15.Nf5  Qf8 16.f4 White might as well try this.  He has used most of his time already.  But I have a surprise!

Position after 16. f4.  No need for panic.

16…Bxc4 17.fxe5 dxe5 18.dxe5 Rxe5! A N/f6 move would be bad for black.  The text is virtually forced and also good for me.

19.Bxe5 Nxe5 20.Nxh6+ Kh7 21.Rf5 Qc5+ 22.Kh1 Kxh6 Black has great compensation although white gains the exchange with his next move.

23.b3 Rd8 24.bxc4 Qd4 25.Qc1+ Kh7 26.Ref1 Nfg4 27.Qg5 Rd6 Black has the solid 27…f6 here and I have tremendous chances, especially since white is lower on time.  The text is fine but white counter-sacrifices to reach a draw.

28.h3 Rh6 29.Rxf7! Nxf7 30.Rxf7 Ne3 31.e5! Forcing a draw by interrupting the black queen defense of g7.

Position after 31. e5.

31…Qd1+??? At this point we both had less than a minute (but we get 30 second increment). I thought white had blundered and was looking forward to 32. Kh2 Ng4+ winning the queen and the game.  I didn’t get below 20 seconds here which is a mistake; I should have double-checked this.

Absolutely forced and drawing was the simple 31…Rg6.  If 32. Qh5+ Rh6 33. Qg5 Rg6 repeats.  If 32. Qf4 I can check on the back rank with my queen then take the bishop on g2.  His K will be too open and it’s an immediate draw. If he gets too frisky by running his king up when I check with the queen, I can even win.  I suspect he would have taken the immediate repetition.

32.Bf1! Oh. He had that?   Chess psychologists say the most commonly overlooked moves are the backwards diagonal ones.  G7 and E3 hang and I am lost.   IM Altounian missed the mate in two at some point after this horrendous blunder, so you get a sense for how aggravating this match was.

32…Rg6 33.Qxe3 Black resigns 1-0

Really an irritating collapse and unnecessary defeat.  Consider that it’s hard to construct any position where white has three pawns and a bishop versus a lone rook with no strange starting king placement and white cannot win (which is what happened in Altounian-Milman, as white ‘created a chess puzzle’ to reach a drawn game) and you will sense how incredibly annoying and aggravating (did I mention that? 😛 ) this match was.

An in an Unrelated Matter:  A Strategic Moniker Change for Humpy

Chessbase ran a story about the Humpy Koneru  (or is it Koneru Humpy?) exit from the World Championship cycle.    I think she would do better if she adopted a stage name suggested by an ICC wag:  Swindella McQueen. Many years ago Charlie Hertan adopted the name Mister Donkey in USCF play and such change of monikers makes sense:  as Charlie explained, if he lost, his ego did not suffer.  Only Mr. Donkey had to suffer.  The Chessbase article suggested Humpy had to get mentally tougher.  Well, under my dramatic moniker change, only Swindella has to get tougher.  Humpy can stay the same.    The reason I am suggesting this name change is the same reason the talent agent had way back when he told Penis Van Lesbian to change his name to Dick Van Dyke – the original name just won’t draw the big audience for the singing and dancing.  Just like ‘Humpy’ won’t pack the house in a chess event.

And When The Trend Catches Hold

If the Humpy strategem works out, we might see some other moniker changes.  Here is a set of representative items.

Old:  Elizabeth Vicary  New:   Micah Twinkleton Perth

Old:  Irina Krush  New:   Larabeth “Sandwoman” Gudmundsson

Old:  Anna Zatonskih  New:    Gerta “The Ligatrix” Raus

Old:  Chuchanik Airapetian  New:    Mokra “The Countess” Volovich

Old:  Rusudan Goletiani  New:    Nellie “Say What?” Fourflusher

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 5

September 22, 2008

In “Thoughts from a Bionic Lime“,a strange prediction is made in Baltimore-Chicago.
Here are the lineups.

Baltimore Kingfishers Chicago Blaze
FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat: 2446 FM Florin Felecan: 2449
IM Larry Kaufman: 2424 IM Emory Tate: 2392
FM Ray Kaufman: 2348 FM Mehmed Pasalic: 2375
NM Aaron Kahn: 2291 IM Angelo Young: 2356
Avg Rating: 2377 Avg Rating: 2393


I think its a bit early in the semester for Erenburg to be having midterms, so its a shame that he’s not on Board 1. Chicago pulls out a solid lineup and will burn the feathers off the birds.

Prediction: Baltimore 0.5 – 3.5 Chicago

That is an unlikely outcome.  Look for Baltimore to at least double or triple their predicted output.

Then the Lime gets too citrus-y in Miami-Dallas.

Miami Sharks
Tennessee Tempo
FM Bruci Lopez: 2486 GM Jaan Ehlvest: 2668
IM Blas Lugo: 2393 IM Ron Burnett: 2412
FM Osmany Perea: 2453 FM Peter Bereolos: 2304
NM Eric Rodriguez: 2242 FM John Bick: 2249
Avg Rating: 2394
Avg Rating: 2408

Quoth the Lime, MIAMI vs TENNESSEE (Monday)

Miami throws up their B-line up (B = Becerra-less) against the Tempo, probably assuming the Ehlvest wouldn’t play again. Wrong. The Tempo will pacify the Sharks like a Discovery Channel producer with a tranquilizer gun.

Prediction: Miami 1.5 – 2.5 Tennessee

Some comments:

A.  Miami made no such assumption

B. Their 3rd board is a moose (granted, this is a late lineup change that might have gone under the Lime’s radar)

C. Their 1st board is under-rated at this time control – Lime puts too much credence on static ratings.

Look for the Sharks to exceed expectations.

Miami vs Tennessee:  Narrowly Avoiding a Shark Bite

Here is GM Jaan Ehlvest’s second win in a row.  But as we will see, it didn’t go so swimmingly vs. the Shark.

Bruci Lopez (MIA) – Jaan Ehlvest (TEN)  Gurgenidze System

1. e4 g6 2. d4 d6 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4 d5 Needless to say, it’s a little bizarre for black to play 2…d6 and then 4…d5.

5. e5 h5 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be3 e6 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 h4 10. Bd3 Nh6 11. O-O Nf5 12. Bf2 Nd7 13. Ne2 a5 14. b3 Ba3 15. c4 Kf8 16. Rab1 Kg7 17. Rfd1 Be7 18. Rdc1 Nb8 19. Kh2 Na6 20. Bxf5 exf5 Strange, 20…gxf5 is tidier. 21. Nc3 Nc7 22. cxd5 cxd5 To give black this lonely d-pawn is a big accomplishment for white. 23. Na4 Ra6 24. Nc5 Ra7 25. Rc2 b6 26. Na4 Ne6 So far white has conducted the game very well whereas black has made some strange moves.

Position after 26…Ne6.  The Shark misses the Bite.

27. Rbc1? Here is a move I bet white would like to try again.  The obvious 27.Rc6! b5 (27… Rb7 28. Rbc1 Ba3 (too late for this now!) 29. R1c2 Bb4 30. Nc3 Bxc3 31. R2xc3 Rd7 and black is groveling for a half point; white has a big edge) 28. Nc5 Bxc5 29. dxc5 Rc7 30. Rd6 Qa8 31. Rc1 and white is crushing.

27… Ba3 28. Rc8 The mistaken idea that accounts for white’s 27th.

28…Bxc1! Of course!  White winds up paralyzed.

29. Rxd8 Bxf4+30. Kg1 Rxd8 31. Bxh4 Rc8 32. Bf6+ Kh7 33. Nc3 Rac7 34. Ne2 Rc1+! 35. Nxc1 Rxc1+ 36. Kf2

Position after 36. Kf2.  Black to play and win.

36…Bh2? At the threshhold of of victory, a serious mistake.  The pleasing geometric 36… Bd2!  wraps it up. If 37. Qd3 (the toughest is 37. g3 Be1+ 38. Kf1 Bxg3+ 39. Kg2 Be1 40. Qf1 Bd2 41. Qf2 Rd1 42. Qf3 Re1 43. Be7 Re4 44. Qg3 Nf4+ 45. Kh1 Re3 but black still wins) 37… Be1+ 38. Kf3 Rc3 and wins.

37. g4! Nf4 38. gxf5 gxf5 39. Bg5? Losing.  White can save it unexpectedly with 39. Bd8! hitting b6.  For example, the game-idea 39…Bg1+ 40. Kg3 Rc3 doesn’t get the full point because white achieves a classic domination of the bishop over the knight in the liquidation sequence.  After 41. Qxc3 Ne2+ 42. Kg2 Nxc3 43. Kxg1 Nxa2 44. Bxb6 Nc1 45. Bxa5 Ne2+ 46. Kf2 Nxd4 47. Bb6 Nxb3 48. Ke2 and it’s a draw.

39… Bg1+ 40. Kg3 Rc3 Now black wins. 41. Bxf4 Bxd4 42. Qxc3 Bxc3 43. a4 Kg6 44. Kf3 Bd4 45. Bg3 Bc5 46. Bf4 Kh5 47. Bg3 Kg5 48. h4+ Kg6 49. Kf4 d4 50. Bf2 d3 51. Be3 Bxe3+ 0-1

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And for Something Different

The Fabulous 00s: The 2008 USCL Round 2

August 30, 2008

And this fresh on YouTube


Week 1 GOTW Judging Missteps

Even if the judges aren’t good players (and even good players have a hard time if they are not actually playing the game; it’s hard to read players’ thoughts), they need to consult a database/engine (or ask someone!) to see if an outright blunder occurred.  Unfortunately, they did not consult and were “wowed” because a high-rated player played a sacrifice, reminiscent of the monkeys gathering around the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The move-order blunder occurred right after the sacrifice and then white had no chance.  There were many more competitive games in Round 1.  But not very good quality – murky GOTW territory!

They didn’t know (insufficient inquiry) that it was a simple move-order mistake. This thing actually happens all the time in chess when the writers don’t have much time (a deadline).  GM Wolff did know…

The bottom line is the GOTW should feature a tough (not one-sided) battle where both players demonstrate ideas and the game is not essentially decided by an opening omission.  But of course if the judges are laboring under a strict deadline then it gets tougher.  Actually talking to the players helps when that is possible.  Notice though there were very few such games in week 1.  The Altounian game was marred by a resource that could have turned the tables for his opponent.

“Patrick Wolff said…
I am puzzled by this choice for game of the week. Shabalov obviously just forgot to play Bg4 before Qc2, and his move order blunder was easily exploited. I think Black played well to drive the point home but I don’t think it is a “game of the week.”

Greg Braylovskiy said…
I agree with Patrick. In Jorge’s game, first 15 moves are theory; moves 16 to 22 are very close to being forced; and then Alex is just lost. Not sure what’s being rewarded here.”

The fix:  don’t go on the opponents’ ratings and the first impression that someone strong gave up a piece, this guarantees a long fight with interesting chances for both sides- it ain’t so.  Go on the actual moves in the game.

Round 2

Can the spectators really stand more USCL excitement?  It’s almost too much already!

Updates as of Sunday August 31 having just seen the actual rosters.

My Week 2 Predictions

WEEK 2: Wednesday, September 3rd

1. New Jersey Knockouts vs Queens Pioneers               2-2   Both teams are strong.  So there.  My prediction:  numerous fear/respect draw offers that float by unseen and unanswered as strong players get low on time and start flipping out.  Much sturm und drang followed by pax.

Update having seen the roster:

New Jersey Knockouts Queens Pioneers
GM Joel Benjamin: 2644 IM Dmitry Schneider: 2508
NM Mackenzie Molner: 2397 IM Eli Vovsha: 2532
NM Evan Ju: 2292 IM Alex Lenderman: 2528
NM Victor Shen: 2265 Benjamin Katz: 2108
Predicted: 2

2. Philadelphia Inventors vs Baltimore Kingfishers      1.5 – 2.5

Update having seen the roster:

Philadelphia Inventors Baltimore Kingfishers
GM Sergey Kudrin: 2600 GM Sergey Erenburg: 2592
FM Thomas Bartell: 2386 IM Larry Kaufman: 2424
NM Daniel Yeager: 2349 FM Ray Kaufman: 2348
NM Elvin Wilson: 2240 FM Ralph Zimmer: 2328
Predicted result: 2


3. Boston Blitz vs Carolina Cobras                               2.5 – 1.5 or 3-1  Ratings don’t always matter that much. Carolina will score a nominal upset on one of the boards and may pull off a nominal ‘draw upset’ on another board.

Amusing side-note:  The Lime puts this as Boston 3.5 – Carolina 0.5.  That’s not happening 🙂

Update having seen the roster – the match will be closer than I envisioned and Carolina actually has chances of the ‘mini-upset’ drawn match:

Boston Blitz Carolina Cobras
GM Larry Christiansen: 2670 IM Lev Milman: 2502
SM Denys Shmelov: 2446 FM Oleg Zaikov: 2376
NM Charles Riordan: 2326 FM Ron Simpson: 2346
NM Marc Esserman: 2307 NM Craig Jones: 2320
Predicted: 2.5

4. Miami Sharks vs New York Knights                    1.5 – 2.5    NY is out to avenge its sickening performance in round 1.  Have a pre-match prep/strategy session, guys!  Don’t play into the opponents’ strengths!  Less talk and more pawns!  More team and less individual!  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  JFern, this means more than bringing snacks.

Update – who the heck is on board 2 for Miami?  The answer (or non-answer) impacts the result greatly:

Miami Sharks
New York Knights
GM Julio Becerra: 2640 GM Pascal Charbonneau: 2524
FM Osmany Perea: 2453 IM Irina Krush: 2534
FM Charles Galofre: 2326 SM Gregory Braylovsky: 2445
NM Eric Rodriguez: 2242 NM Matthew Herman: 2271
Predicted: 1.5

5. Chicago Blaze vs San Francisco Mechanics               1.5 – 2.5  Chicago is always competitive.  Hopefully Shankland’s opponent will appear this week.

Staring at the actual rosters, I predict a minor “upset” in the form of a 2-2 tie.

Chicago Blaze San Francisco Mechanics
FM Florin Felecan: 2449 IM Josh Friedel: 2595
IM Emory Tate: 2392 IM Vinay Bhat: 2481
FM Mehmed Pasalic: 2375 FM Sam Shankland: 2364
IM Angelo Young: 2356 FM Daniel Naroditsky: 2321
Predicted Upset: 2


6. Tennessee Tempo vs Seattle Sluggers                       1.5 – 2.5  Similar to the NY story, Seattle is out to redeem itself.  But the road is not always easy to hoe against the Tempoiacs.  Todd Andrews just needs to be a little more mindful of pins before going hogwild and taking juicy pawns that turn out to be poisoned. Let’s see if GM Jaan “Cornpone” Ehlvest enters the fray to push some pawns, chew some chaw, and choke down some hominy grits.  I apologize in advance for the grotesque substitution of Alabama for Tennessee here.  If Seattle is dead-set on not winning this match and being the Great Bust of 2008, I think they can succeed.  Digression:  unrelated to the team result (1-3), Readey missed a sweet mate on move 31 vs Lugo in Week 1.

Update with roster:- Seattle should cruise (but they have to do something about their graphic logo, the cartoony knight has a mentally ill expression):

ennessee Tempo Seattle Sluggers
FM Todd Andrews: 2350 GM Gregory Serper: 2592
FM Peter Bereolos: 2304 FM Slava Mikhailuk: 2437
FM John Bick: 2249 FM John Readey: 2296
FM Jerry Wheeler: 2204 NM Michael Lee: 2314
Predicted: 1

7. Dallas Destiny vs Arizona Scorpions                         2-2    If Levon (or another board 1 we choose to employ) can neutralize in the best style of Petrosian and our board 4 is solid.   The hissing Scorpions will be quite happy to avoid being stepped out in this match (note, Scorpions sometimes survive a direct human step; they just don’t like being smashed by rocks very much).

Update with roster:  This is going to be ultra-tense.  I still see 2-2 as most likely.  The pressure is really on our boards 2 and 4, well, all our boards really.  Whoah. I am really at a loss, btw, to explain why other pundits such as the Lime, Youngovich, and the Sharmanator are picking us as favorites.  I see it as completely equal.

Dallas Destiny Arizona Scorpions
IM Drasko Boskovic: 2504 IM Levon Altounian: 2535
IM John Bartholomew: 2488 FM Danny Rensch: 2411
FM Igor Schneider: 2396 FM Robby Adamson: 2377
WFM Bayaraa Zorigt: 2217 NM Warren Harper: 2351

The Fabulous 80s: A Day of Shame – Losing to John Watson

August 18, 2008

Losing to John Watson???

Witness the “special talent” I showed at the end of the game featured here.  First of all, though, note Larry Evans amusing comment that “international titles have been cheapened.” This way back in 1980!  He would, I think, write these words more forcefully nowadays. 😀

John Watson won the 1980 Bar Point International but in the game above (click to enlarge) I contrived to lose while a rook ahead and easily winning! Game summary: John had an early initiative, I defended with some “active” but dubious looking tactics, then John totally freaked out and lost a rook for nothing – just a spite check. Then I completely totally freaked out and moved my king into a loss when it can go another way to keep the extra rook! Thank you Larry Evans for pointing this out in a syndicated column read by thousands.

The game was so poor I blotted it out of my memory until the verdammt Evans column was published! It was syndicated everywhere, including the Washington Post where I saw it. in a recent Chess.FM interview, John W. also disclaimed no memory of the above game’s details. Lay it to rest? Or put in a hall of infamy for me? I vote the latter.

Pretty sick. Even so, I made an IM norm. Yay.

You Can Never Get Enough 80s

Under the theory that there is never too much 80s, see these amusing news clippings and photos.

The Fabulous 00s: The National Open 2001

July 19, 2008

Playin’ At The Riviera

The Las Vegas National Open is always a good time. The Riviera hotel is so close to the Peppermill coffee shop! This Peppermill is related to, but much smaller than, the behemoth Peppermill Casino in Reno.

Let’s look at six interesting games I played from the 2001 installment.

Round 1.

M. Ginsburg – J. Riddell (2075) Stonewall Dutch

1. c4 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 d5 5. Nf3 c6 6. Nbd2 Bd6 7. b3 Nbd7 8. Bb2 Ne4 9. O-O Qf6!? It might look strange to move out the queen so soon, but this move has a certain logic (queen to h6, other knight to f6, look for chances).

Position after 9…Qf6!? – the Queen sortie makes sense.

10. e3 This is somewhat unusual.

White can try 10. Ne1!? O-O 11. Nd3 Qh6 12. Nf3 a5 and it’s murky. Also interesting is 12… f4!? 13. gxf4 Bxf4 14. Nxf4 Qxf4 15. e3 Qf5 and only with great care can white get anywhere: 16. Qc2 Qh5 17. Ne5 Nxe5 18. dxe5 Qg5 19. Rae1 Rf3 20. Qe2! Rh3 21. f3 Nc5 22. cxd5 exd5 23. Qc2! Ne6 24. f4 Qg4 25. Qe2! Rh4 26. Qxg4 Rxg4 and white is better after 27. h3.

More usual than my move is 10. Qc2!? but black has had good results in the database after 10 Qc2 g5!? – more tests are needed!

10… O-O

A chaotic example from around the same time as this game: 10… h5 11. h4 Nxg3? Hopelessly unsound. 11…O-O is correct. 12. fxg3 Bxg3 13. cxd5 exd5 14. Qc2 Qe6 15. e4 Nf6 16. e5 Ng4 17. Ba3 b6 18. Ng5 Qg6 19. e6 Bb7 20. Qxf5 Qxf5 21. Rxf5 Ne3 22. Rf3 Bxh4 23. Nf7 Nc2 24. Nxh8 Bf6 25. Rxf6 gxf6 26. Rf1 Nxa3 27. Bh3 Kf8 28. Rxf6+ Kg7 29. Rf7+ Kxh8 30. Rxb7 Nb5 31. Nf3 c5 32. a4 Nxd4 33. Nxd4 cxd4 34. Rd7 Kg8 35. Rxd5 Rc8 36. Rxd4 Rc3 37. Re4 1-0 Koch,J-Zuriel,A (2182)/Buenos Aires 2001.

11. a4 Bc7 I like 11…b6 here better.

12. Ne1 Qh6 13. Nd3 Ndf6 14. Qe2 Bd7 Black can consider 14…Ng4!? 15. h3 Nxe3!? 16. fxe3 Nxg3 with counterchances.

15. Nf3 Ng4 16. Nde5 Bxe5 17. dxe5 Qh5 18. h3 Nh6 19. Ba3 Rfc8 20. Qc2 Nf7 21. Bb2 Neg5 22. Nh4 Nh6 23. f4 Ne4 24. Bf3 Qf7 25. g4 g5? This just doesn’t work at all. Black had to play 25…Qe7 26. g5 Nf7 with some disadvantage.

26. Bxe4 gxh4 27. Bf3 fxg4 28. hxg4 Qg6 29. Rf2?! White will win quickly after the obvious 29. Qxg6+ hxg6 30. Kg2! Nf7 31. Kh3! g5 32. Bg2.

29…Nf5 30. Re1?! And here, 30. Kh2! Ng3 31. Qxg6+ hxg6 32. Kh3 g5 33. Ba3! finishes it soon.

30…Ne7 31. e4 Rf8 32. Bc1 Kh8 33. cxd5 cxd5 34. Qc7 The simplest win is 34. exd5 Qxc2 35. Rxc2 Nxd5 36. Bxd5 exd5 37. e6 Bc6 38. Bb2+ Kg8 39. f5 h5 40. Rh2.

34… Rfd8 35. f5 exf5 36. e6 Qxe6 37. Bb2+ Getting the queen IN FRONT of the bishop on the a1-h8 diagonal wins. 37. Qc3+! d4 38. Qxd4+ Kg8 39. Bb2 Kf8 40. Qg7+ Ke8 41. gxf5 Qf7 42. Qh6. The text is OK too.

37… d4 38. Bxd4+ Kg8 39. Rg2? Those with tactical insight will quickly spot 39. gxf5! Nxf5 40. exf5! Qxe1+ 42. Kh2 and wins.

39…f4! 40. Qxf4 Ng6? The comedy of errors continues. 40…Rf8! is correct.

41. Qh6 Qf7 42. Be2 Be6 43. Rf2 Qd7 44. Bf6 Rf8 45. g5 Qf7 46. b4 Rad8 46… Rae8 is met by the same move as in the game, 47. Ref1.

47. Ref1 Rd7? 47….Qc7 was the last chance to resist.
48. Bc3 Qe7 49. Rxf8+ Nxf8 50. Rxf8+ Qxf8 51. Qxe6+ Black could have resigned here.

51…Qf7 52. Qe5 Qg6 53. Bc4+ Kf8 54. Qh8+ Ke7 55. Bf6+ Kd6 56. Qf8+ Kc7 57. Qc5+ Kb8 58. Be5+ 1-0

Round 2.

V. Nembu (2175) – M. Ginsburg. Reti

I like this game because it shows the advantages of patience – taking one’s opportunities when they arise, no matter how small. The game was drawish for a long time but I found some resources to keep things going. In the end, I scored the full point.

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 c6 3. Nf3 d5 4. b3 Bg4 5. Bg2 Nbd7 6. Bb2 e6 Some players like to do …e7-e5 gaining the center. See, for example, Naroditsky-Friedel, Tulsa Qualifier US Ch 08.

7. d3 Be7 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. O-O a5 10. a3 Qb6 11. Bc3 h6 12. h3 Bh5 13. Qc2 Rfd8 14. Qb2 Nc5 15. Bd4 Apparently threatening b3-b4.

15…dxc4! Good tactical vision.

Position after 15…dxc4!

16. dxc4 White doesn’t gain much from the optically impressive 16. b4!? axb4 17. axb4 cxd3 18. e4 Rxa1 19. Rxa1 Rxd4 20. Qxd4 Ncd7 21. Qxd3 Bg6 22. Ra8+ Kh7 23. Nh4 Qxb4 equal — less good is 23… Bxb4? 24. Nxg6 fxg6 25. Nc4! with an edge. After, e.g., 24. Nxg6 fxg6 chances are balanced in the ending. (25. Qc2 Bc5 26. Ra4 Qb6 with play on the dark squares).

16… Bxf3 17. Bxf3 Rd7 18. Be3 Qd8 19. Qc2 e5 20. Bg2 Ne6 21. Nf3 Bd6 It’s still balanced.

22. Rfd1 Qf8 23. b4 axb4 24. axb4 Bxb4 25. Nxe5 Rxd1+ 26. Qxd1 Bc5 27. Rxa8 White offered a draw.

27…Qxa8 Clearly there is no risk so I play on.

28. Bxc5 Nxc5 29. Qd4 Ne6 30. Qb2 Qa5 31. Nd3 Qc7 Here white makes a psychological mistake. Ike should mark time.

Position after 31…Qc7. Not the right time for white to get all Nembu.

32. Qe5? An instructive error. This gives Black an easy plan. Simply *not* doing this would have been much better – i.e. leave the queens on.

32…Qxe5 33. Nxe5 Kf8 34. Nd3 Nd7 35. f4 Nb6 36. Nb2 Ke7 37. Kf2 Kd6 38. e3? A blunder. Superior was 38. Ke3 but even so, 38… Kc5 39. Nd3+ Kxc4 40. Ne5+ Kc3 41. Nxf7 Nc4+ 42. Kf2 Nc5 43. Nd8 b5 44. Nxc6 b4 45. Nxb4 Kxb4 46. e4 Kc3 47. e5 Kd4 and black keeps excellent chances to win.

38… Nc5! 39. Ke2 Nca4 40. Nxa4 Nxa4 41. Kd2 Kc5 White’s position is collapsing.

42. Bf1 Kb4 43. Kd3 Nb2+ 44. Kd4 c5+ 45. Kd5 Nd1 46. Ke4 f5+! Some nifty tactics spell the end.

47. Kf3 Nb2! 48. g4 fxg4+ 48…Nxc4! is the cleanest.

49. hxg4 Nxc4 50. Bd3 Nd2+ 51. Ke2 Kc3 52. Bg6 Nc4 53. e4 Kd4 54. e5 Ne3 55. Kf3 Nd5 56. Be4 b5 57. e6 Ne7 58. f5 b4 0-1

Round 3.

IM M. Ginsburg – GM Alex Chernin Catalan

In which I find myself in an unusual Catalan but adapt well.

1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. g3 dxc4 4. Qa4+ Nd7 5. Bg2 c5 I was already pretty much on my own after this move. Sometimes, knowing less is better as that leads to finding more natural moves.

6. O-O Ngf6 7. Qxc4 b6 8. d4 Previously seen was 8. Qc2 Bb7 9. b3 Be7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. d3 Rc8 12. Nbd2 Nb8 13. Rfc1 Nc6 14. a3 Qd7 15. Qd1 Rfd8 16. Rab1 Nd5 17. Ba1 Nc7 18. Ne5 Qe8 19. b4 Nd5 20. b5 Nxe5 21. Bxe5 Qd7 22. Nc4 Nf6 23. Bxb7 Qxb7 24. Bxf6 Bxf6 25. Qf1 Rd5 26. Qg2 Qc7 27. a4 Rcd8 28. Rb3 h5 29. a5 bxa5 30. Ra3 Rb8 31. Rxa5 Qd7 32. Rb1 Bc3 33. Ra6 Rxb5 34. Rxb5 Qxb5 35. Rxa7 Qb8 36. Ra3 Bd4 37. Qe4 g6 38. Kg2 Kg7 39. e3 Bf6 40. h4 Be7 41. Qf3 Bf6 1/2-1/2 Andersson,U (2585)-Tal,M (2615)/Stockholm 1976. My move seems more active and to the point.

8… Bb7 9. Nc3 Rc8

Position after 9…Rc8

Eventually a peaceful result occurred in 9… a6 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Rad1 Rc8 14. Qd3 Nb8 15. Nd2 (typical Ulf simplifications) 15…Bxg2 16. Kxg2 O-O 17. Na4 Qd4 18. Qxd4 Bxd4 19. Nb3 Bf6 20. Nxb6 Rc2 21. Rd2 Rxb2 22. Rxb2 Bxb2 23. Rd1 Bf6, 1/2-1/2 Andersson,U (2605)-Sokolov,A (2595)/Belfort 1988.

10. Bg5 Not very impressive. Trickier is 10. Bf4 Be7 11. Rfd1 O-O 12. Qa4.

10…a6!? 11. dxc5 If 11. Rfd1 b5! 12. Qb3 c4! 13. Qc2 b4!, a very nice series of pawn moves. Then, 14. Na4 Be7 15. Ne5 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Qa5 17. h3 Nxe5 18. dxe5 Qxe5 19. Nb6 Rc6 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Nxc4 O-O 22. Rac1 Qc7 23. b3 and it’s balanced. Or, 11. a4 h6 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. Rfd1 cxd4 14. Qxd4 Qxd4 15. Nxd4 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Bc5 17. Nb3 Ke7 18. Nxc5 Rxc5 19. Rd4 Rhc8 20. Rad1 Rc4 21. h3 g5 22. f4 gxf4 23. gxf4 Rxd4 24. Rxd4 Nd7 25. Kf3 f5 26. e4 fxe4+ 27. Rxe4 This is equal. Nevertheless, Yusupov playing black manages to ‘make something out of nothing’. 27…Rc5 28. Rd4 a5 29. Nb5 Rc2 30. b4 axb4 31. Rxb4 Nf6 32. Rd4 Rc1 33. Kg3 Rg1+ 34. Kf2 Rb1 35. Kg2 Rb3 36. Kh2? (36. Nd6! =) Nh5! 37. Nd6 Rb2+ 38. Kg1 Ng3! 39. Nc8+ Kf6 40. Rd6 Ne2+ 41. Kf1 Nxf4 42. Rxb6 Ra2 43. Rb3? (White can only toddle on with 43. Ra6 Nxh3 44. a5.) 43…Rxa4 Now black is completely winning. 44. Kf2 Ra2+ 45. Kg3 Ne2+ 46. Kg4 Ra4+ 47. Kh5 Nd4 48. Rg3 Ra5+ 0-1 Michelakis,G (2405)-Yusupov,A (2583)/Copenhagen 2003.

11…Rxc5?! Looks and is artificial.

11… Bxc5! 12. Qd3 (12. Qh4 O-O 13. Rfd1 Qe7 14. Rac1 h6 15. Bxf6 Nxf6 16. Na4 Rfd8 17. Rxd8+ Qxd8 18. Nxc5 Rxc5 19. Rxc5 bxc5 20. Qf4 Be4 21. Qd2 Qc7 22. Qc3 Qd6 23. Qd2 Bd5 24. a3 Qb8 {equal.}) 12… O-O 13. Rad1 Qe7 14. Rd2 h6 15. Be3 b5 16. Rfd1 Bxe3 17. Qxe3 b4 18. Na4 Rc7 19. Nb6 Nxb6 20. Qxb6 Rfc8 21. Ne5 Nd5 22. Qd4 f6 23. Ng6 Qf7 24. Bxd5 Bxd5 25. Nf4 Rc4 26. Qd3 Be4 27. Qd6 e5 28. Nd5 Bxd5 29. Rxd5 Rc1 equal.

12. Qb3

I think less good is 12. Qd3?! Be7 13. Be3 Rc8 14. Rfd1 O-O 15. Rac1 b5 and black is fine.

12… Be7 13. Be3 Rc8 14. Rfd1 Agreed drawn here. This is a case of giving the GM respect; after a continuation such as 14…O-O 15. Rac1 (15. Ne5 accomplishes nothing due to 15…Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Qc7 17. Nxd7 Nxd7 18. Ne4 Rfd8 19. Rac1 Nc5 20. Bxc5 bxc5 21. Qc4 Qc6 22. f3 Rd5 23. Nc3 Bg5 24. Rb1 Rdd8 25. Ne4 Be7 and this is dead equal) 15… Nd5 16. Bd4 Nxc3?! (16…Bc5! appears stronger) 17. Bxc3 Bd5 18. Qa4 Nc5 19. Qg4 Bf6 20. Nd4 g6 21. e4 Bxa2 22. Nc6 Rxc6 23. Rxd8 Bxd8 24. Bd4 Rd6 25. Bxc5 bxc5 26. Qf3! and white is better. At any rate, white was not risking anything and should not have curtailed the game after 14 moves.


Round 4.

In which mighty Irish GM Baburin unaccountably hangs a rook at the end of a virtuoso technical performance, drawing. He was so angry that in print later on he referred to this as a draw versus a random guy. I know how he feels. I have drawn “random” guys too (games I tried to put out of my memory).

GM Alex Baburin – IM M. Ginsburg King’s Indian Round 4

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nf3 c6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Bf5!? An under-rated line.

Position after 7…Bf5!?

8. Ne1 If this retreating move is the best white has, I am surprised we don’t see this line more often.

8…e5 9. d5 cxd5 10. cxd5 Na6 11. e4 Bd7 12. Nd3 Qa5 White has a perfect score (2 and 0) when I checked the database with this, but it’s actually about equal. That’s why it’s under-rated and deserves more tryouts!

13. a3 Rfc8 The clever 13… Qc7 14. Bd2 Qc4! is a nice, active regrouping. After the plausible 15. Qe2 Rfc8 16. b4 Rc7 17. Rfc1 black has enough activity.

14. h3 Of course, this position has been seen many times in practice. White also has 14. Bd2 and now black can choose between the normal 14…Qd8 and the surprising 14…Nc5!?

Let’s first see 14…Nc5!? 15. b4 (15. Nxc5 Qxc5 16. Be3 Qa5 17. f3 Rc7 (17… h5 18. Qd2 Qd8 19. Rfc1 a6 20. Rc2 b5 21. Rac1 Rab8 22. b4) 18. Qb3 Rac8 19. Rfe1 Nh5 20. a4 Rc4 21. Qxb7 R4c7 22. Qb3 Rc4 23. Qa3 Rb4 24. Rec1) 15… Qa6! 16. Nxc5 (16. Nxe5 dxe5 17. bxc5 Rxc5 18. Qb1 Rac8 19. Rc1 Ng4 20. f3 (20. h3 Bh6 21. f4 Qc4 22. Nb5 Qe2 23. Rxc5 Rxc5 24. Qe1 Qxe1+ 25. Rxe1 Rxb5 26. hxg4 Bxg4 27. Bc1 Rb1 28. d6 Bg7 29. Bd2 Rb6 30. Bb4 a5 31. Bxa5 Rxd6 32. Rb1 Rd7 33. Bc3 Rd3 34. Be1 Bc8 35. Rc1 Be6 36. Rb1 Bb3 37. Rc1 h5 38. Rc8+ Kh7 39. f5 Ba4 40. Rc7 Rd7 41. Rc4 Bb5 42. Rc5 Bc6) 20… Rb5 21. Nxb5 Qb6+ 22. Kh1 Nf2+ 23. Kg1 Nh3+ 24. Kh1 Qg1+ 25. Rxg1 Nf2#) 16… dxc5 17. b5 Bxb5 18. Nxb5 Qxb5 19. Rb1 Qa6 20. Qb3 Rc7)

Now let’s try the more solid move. 14. Bd2 Qd8, 15. b4 Nc7 (15… Rc4 16. Rc1 Rac8 17. Qe2 Bg4 18. f3 Bd7 19. Nb2 R4c7 20. Rc2 h5 21. h4 Bh6 22. Bxh6 Rxc3 23. Rxc3 Rxc3 24. Qf2 Rxa3 25. Qxa7 Rb3 26. Nc4 Nxb4 27. Nxd6) 16. a4 Nce8 17. b5 Nh5 18. Nb4 Qb6 19. a5 Qd4 20. a6 bxa6 21. Nc6 Bxc6 22. bxc6 Nc7 23. Ra4 Qb6 24. Qa1 Ne8 25. Rxa6 Qd8 26. Rb1 f5 27. Rxa7 Nhf6 28. Be3 Rxa7 29. Qxa7 Ra8 30. Qb7 Nc7 31. Bb6 Nfe8 32. Nb5 Rb8 33. Bxc7 Nxc7 34. Nxc7 and black resigned. Polgar,Z (2510)-Paunovic,D (2455)/San Sebastian 1991. It’s too soon to draw conclusions, but 14…Nc5 needs more checking.

14… Nc7 15. a4 b5? Correct was the psychologically difficult return with 15… Na6! 16. Bd2 Qc7 17. Rc1 Qc4 18. Qe2 Nb4 19. Nxb4 Qxb4 20. Qe3 Bxa4 21. Nxa4 Qxa4 22. b4 Qa2 23. Ra1 Qb2 24. Rfc1 a6 25. Bc3 Qb3 26. Bd2 Qxe3 27. Bxe3 Kf8 28. g4 Ke7 and black is OK. The hackneyed text gets black into a risky situation.

16. Bd2 bxa4 17. Nxa4 Qb5 18. Bb4 Nxe4? Very frisky but not good by the immutable laws of chess. 18… Nce8! is the sensible choice: 19. Nc3 Qb7 20. b3 Bh6 (for example) and the game continues.

19. Bxe4 f5 The craven capture 19… Bxh3 20. Nc3 Qb7 21. Bg2 Bxg2 22. Kxg2 Nb5 23. Ra5! looks really bad for black.

20. Nc3! Black has totally lost the opening discussion.

20…Qc4 20… Qb7 21. Bg2 is also very nasty.

21. Bxd6 fxe4 22. Nxe5 Bxe5 23. Bxe5 Nb5 24. Re1 Nxc3 25. Bxc3 Rf8 26. Qd4 Qxd4 27. Bxd4
Bxh3 28. Rxe4
Needless to say, this is horrific for Black.

28…Bf5 29. Re7 Rf7 30. d6 a6 31. Rae1 Raf8 32. R1e3 Bd7 33. Rc3 Re8 34. Rce3? 34. Rxe8+! is the easiest win. Then, 34…Bxe8 35. Rc8 Kf8 36. Bc5 Rd7 37. Ra8 and finito.

34… Ref8 35. R3e5 35. f4 wins easily too. 35…Rxe7 36. Rxe7 Rf7 37. Re1 Rf5 38. Be5 Kf7 39. g4 is a humorous rook trap.

35… Bb5 36. Re1 Bd7 37. b3 Bb5 38. Rc1 Rxe7 39. dxe7 Re8 40. Bc5 Kf7 41. b4 Rc8 42. Rd1 Be8 43. Rd8 Rc6 44. Ra8 Re6 45. f4 h5 46. Kh2 Re2+ 47. Kh3 Re6 48. Kh4 Rc6 49. Kg5 Re6 50. Rd8 Rc6 51. Ra8 Re6 52. Kh4 Rc6 53. f5 Rf6 54. fxg6+ Rxg6 55. Kxh5 Rxg3 56. Rxa6 With some nice maneuvering, white picked up another pawn. The end shouldn’t be too far off now.

56…Rg2 57. Kh4 Bd7 58. Ra8 Be8 59. Ra1 Ke6 60. Rd1 Kf7 61. Rd3 Ke6 62. Rg3 Rd2 63. Kg5 Rd1 64. Re3+ Kd7 65. Kf6 Rf1+ 66. Ke5 Kc6 67. Rd3 Re1+ 68. Kf6 Kc7 69. Re3 Rh1 70. Kg7 Rf1 71. Rd3 Bc6 72. Rd2 Bb5 73. Re2 Be8 74. Rf2 Re1 75. Kf8 Bb5 76. Rf5 Bc6 77. Bd4 Kb7 78. b5 Bd7 79. b6? Tired from the long game, white hangs his rook. 79. Rd5 Kc8 80.b6 Ba4 81. Ra5 Rf1+ 82. Kg8 Be8 83. Ra8+ Kd7 84. Bc5! is a nice maneuver that would have ended Black’s resistance. The game would conclude, 84…Bh5 85. b7 Rb1 86. b8=Q Rxb8+ 87. Rxb8.

79… Bxf5 It’s a testament to the strength of white’s game that he can withstand the loss of a rook without losing.

80. e8=Q {Agreed drawn.} 1/2-1/2

Round 5

An effortless win in an Eingorn King’s Indian as white.

M. Ginsburg – FM T. Brownescombe King’s Indian, Eingorn Variation

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5
Ne7 9. Bg5
GM Viacheslav Eingorn’s Line – I really enjoy it – it accelerates white’s queenside play. The cool thing about Eingorn is that it means “one horn” (Unicorn). A spelling variant is Einhorn.

See the Appendix at the bottom of this post for a related idea in the Bayonet KID, where white also gives up the queen bishop early for accelerated queenside play.

Position after Eingorn’s 9. Bg5.

9…h6 Of course, 9…Nh5 is a major alternative. I like to respond with 10. Ne1 Nf4 11. Nd3! giving black a choice between Nxe2 and Nxd3. White usually has f2-f4, counterpunching, in these lines. I have mostly good results with that treatment.

10. Bxf6 Not very thematic is the historical game I found 10. Bd2?! Nd7 11. Qc1 Kh7 12. Ne1 f5
13. g3 fxe4 14. Nxe4 Nf5 15. Nc2 c6 16. dxc6 bxc6 17. Bb4 Nf6 18. Bf3 a5 19. Ba3 Qc7 20. Qd2 Rd8 21. Rac1 Be6 22. Qe2 Qf7 23. b3 Nxe4 24. Bxe4 d5 25. cxd5 cxd5 26. Bg2 Rac8 27. Qa6 e4 28. Ne3 Nd4 29. Rxc8 Rxc8 30. Qxa5 Ne2+ 31. Kh1 d4 32. Nd1 Bg4 33. h3 Bf3 34. Qe1 Rc2 35. Kh2 Bxg2 36. Kxg2 Qf3+ 37. Kh2 Be5 38. Rg1 Nxg3 0-1 Golombek,H-Bronstein,D/London 1954.

10… Bxf6 11. b4 Bg7 12. c5 f5 13. Nd2 fxe4 14. Ndxe4 Nf5 15. Bg4! White enjoys an edge after this move. Possible is 15. Rc1 h5 16. cxd6 cxd6 17. Nb5 Bh6 18. Rc3 Rf7 19. Bxh5 gxh5 20. Qxh5 a6 21. Nbxd6 Nxd6 22. Qxh6 Nxe4 with craziness, Grivas,E (2485)-Arduman,C (2390)/Zouberi 1993. Black eventually won that game.

15…Nd4 16. Bxc8 Rxc8 17. Qd3 Qd7 18. f3 Rf4? Black needed to play 18… h5! 19. a4
h4 with activity.

19. a4 Rcf8 What are the rooks doing?
20. cxd6 cxd6 21. Rac1?! Tempting and strong was 21. Nb5! Nxb5 22. axb5 Qc7 23. Qe3 Qc4 24. Qxa7 Qxd5 25. Rfd1 Qxb5 26. Nxd6 Qxb4 27. Ne4 Qe7 28. Qb6 Kh7 29. Rd6 Qf7 30. Qb5 Qc7 31. Rd7 Qc6 32. Qxc6 bxc6 33. Raa7 Rg8 34. h4 Kh8 35. Rdc7 and white wins.

21… R8f7 22. Nb5! Returning to the correct idea.

22…Nxb5 23. Qxb5 Qxb5 24. axb5 Bf8?! Black needed 24…Rd7! 25. Ra1 b6 26. Rfc1 g5 27. Rc8+ Rf8 28. Rc6 Rfd8 and he retains defensive chances.

25. Rc8 Rd7 26. Kf2 Kg7 27. R fc1 b6 28. Ke2 Be7? A blunder ending the game. He needed 28… Rff7 ! 29. R1c6 Be7 30. Kd3 g5 31. Kc4 Kg6 32. Rg8+ Rg7 33. Rh8 Rh7 34. Re8 Kf7 35. Rec8 Kg6 to continue.

29. R8c7 Rxc7 30. Rxc7 Rf7 31. Rxa7 Bf8 32. Rxf7+ Kxf7 33. Nd2 Sadistic.

33…Be7 34. Nc4 Bd8 35. Nxd6+ Ke7 36. Nc4 1-0

Round 6

The dream felll to earth when I played an opening my opponent knew far better than I! I found out later he had suffered (for example vs Kasparov) in this system. No preparation = bad preparation!

GM A. Yermolinsky – IM M. Ginsburg Bogo-Indian, 4. Nbd2.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 I had introduced played 4. Bd2 c5!?? versus Seirawan, World Open 1984, and a hard-fought draw resulted. Some Russian sources mention Vitolinsh started it, but I’m not sure; we have to check the chronology. No such luck here, Alex goes for the same line. I was fundamentally not ready.

4…d5 I trust this more than 4…b6. However, I must know theory to play this (see note to black move 7) so as not to fall into a passive game with the opponent holding the bishop pair “for free”.

5. Qa4+ Nc6 A tradeoff: the knight blocks the c-pawn, but also the WQ isn’t so wonderful out on a4.

6. a3 Grossly premature is 6. Ne5? Bd7 (I played the hideous lemon 6…Bd6? a long time ago vs. Peter Biyiasis! — 7. c5, oops!) 7. Nxc6 (7. Nxd7 Qxd7 8. e3 e5 9. dxe5 Ne4 10. Qc2 Nxe5 11. Be2 Qc6 12. f3 Nxd2 13. Bxd2 Bxd2+ 14. Qxd2 Nxc4 is OK) 7… Bxd2+ 8. Bxd2 Bxc6 and black is doing great.

6…Bxd2+! Retreating the bishop yields quite a poor and passive game.

7. Bxd2

Position after 7. Bxd2. An important theoretical moment in the Bogo-Indian.

7…O-O? A theoretical lemon!

If black knew theory, he would select the freeing 7… Ne4! and now white has two main tries. A. 8. e3, and B. 8. Rd1. The practical examples are of great interest.

Try A.

8. e3 O-O 9. Qc2 and here the roads diverge.

A1. 9…e5!? 10. cxd5 Nxd2 11. dxc6 Nxf3+ 12. gxf3 exd4 (A very sharp treatment!) 13. O-O-O Qf6 14. Rxd4 Qxf3 15. Rg1 Bf5 16. Qc3 Bg6 17. cxb7 Rab8 18. Ba6 Qf6 19. Ra4 Qxf2 20. Rf1 Qxh2 21. Rc4 Qd6 22. Rc6 Qd5 23. Rxc7 Qa2 24. Rc8 Qb1+ 25. Kd2 Rd8+ 26. Qd4 Qxb2+ and drawn eventually in a fascinating tactical duel, 1/2-1/2 Ftacnik,L (2585)-Hracek,Z (2605)/Prievidza 1997.

A2. Quite playable here is 9… Nxd2!? 10. Qxd2 b6 11. b4 dxc4 12. Bxc4 Bb7 13. Qc2 a5 14. b5 Ne7 15. Bd3 Bxf3 16. gxf3 g6 17. Be4 Rc8 18. Rc1 Qd6 19. Bb7 Rb8 20. Qxc7 Qxa3 21. O-O Rfd8 22. Qxb6 Nd5 23. Qa6 Qe7 24. Bxd5 Qg5+ 25. Kh1 Qxd5 26. Qc6 Rxb5 27. Qxd5 Rdxd5 28. Rc8+ Kg7 and drawn eventually, Chabanon,J (2504)-Miralles,G (2451)/France 2003)

There is also

B. 8. Rd1!? and here B2 seems to be better than B1.

B1. 8… O-O 9. e3 Ne7?! 10. Qc2 b6 11. Bd3 Bb7 12. O-O Ng6 13. b4 (13. Ne5! right away!) 13…f5 14. Ne5 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Qd6 and draw, Petrosian,A (2495)-Spassky,B (2610)/Sarajevo 1986 but white has a small edge in the final position.

B2. Probably stronger is 9… Bd7! The computer approves of this move and says equality. 10. Qc2 Be8 11. b4 (11. Bd3 f5 12. cxd5 exd5 13. Ne5 Bh5 14. Rc1 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qg5 16. O-O Bf3 17. g3 Qg4 18. Rfe1 c5 19. b3 Ng5 20. Bc3 Be4 21. Bxe4 fxe4 22. Re2 Qh3) 11… a6 12. Bc1 f5 13. Be2 Bh5 14. O-O Rf6 15. g3 Bg4 16. Kg2 and draw, Lputian,S (2555)-Rohde,M (2555)/Saint John 1988.

Not knowing any of this, I get in a difficult situation. Boo!

8. Bg5! This is the problem! The annoying pin gives white an obvious edge! 9… h6
9. Bh4! “Soft” in Stohl’s parlance is the compliant capture 9. Bxf6? Qxf6 10. e3 Rd8 11. Rc1 Qe7 12. cxd5 exd5 13. Bb5 Nb8 14. Bd3 c6 15. O-O Nd7 16. Bb1 Nf6 17. Ne5 Ng4 18. Qc2 g6 19. Qc3 Qh4 20. h3 Nxe5 21. dxe5 d4 22. exd4 Qxd4 23. Qxd4 Rxd4 24. Rfd1 Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Be6 26. Rd6 g5 27. Kh2 a5 {1/2-1/2 Kozul,Z (2600)-Galego,L [2538]/Kusadasi 2006.

9… Re8 9… Bd7 10. Qc2 (10. e3) 10… Rc8 11. Ne5) If 9… dxc4 10. e3 Ne7 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Qxc4 {Obviously good for white.} 12…Bd7 13. Be2?! (more active is 13. Bd3! Bc6 14. O-O-O Qd6 15. Kb1 b5 16. Qc5 Qxc5 17. dxc5 e5 18. e4 Ng6 19. g3 Rfd8 20. Bc2 Kg7 21. Rhe1 Bd7 22. Rd3 Bg4 23. Red1) (13. Rc1 Bc6 14. Qc5 Kg7 15. Bd3 Nd5 16. h4 Rg8 17. Rh3 Kh8 18. Kf1 Qd6 19. b4 a6 {About even.}) 13… Bc6 14. O-O Qd5 15. Qc2 Qe4 16. Qc5 Ng6 17. Ne1 Qd5 18. Qc3 Nh4 19. f3 Rad8 20. Rf2 e5 and drawn eventually, Giffard,N (2324)-Villeneuve,A (2247)/Le Touquet 2005/EXT 2006})

10. e3 a6 At this stage it’s hard to offer advice. 10… Bd7 11. Qc2 Qe7 12. O-O-O a5 13. Ne5 g5 14. Bg3 Ne4 15. Bd3 Nxe5 16. Bxe5 Bc6 17. f3 f6 18. fxe4 fxe5 19. dxe5 dxc4 20. Qxc4 a4 21. Qc3 Rf8 22. Rhf1 Kg7 23. Kb1)

11. Rd1 Bd7 12. Qc2 Rc8? This is the last chance for a decent game with 12… b5! 13. cxb5 axb5 14. Bxb5 Nb4!? or 14. Bd3 e5!? in both cases with a defensible position and only a slight white advantage.

13. Ne5 g5 Dreadful. The alternatives were also unappealing. 13… Ne7 14. Bd3 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Nfd5 16. O-O f6 17. Nxd7 Qxd7 18. e4 b5 19. Ba2 Nf4 20. Bg3 Nh5 21. Qb3 Ng6 22. f4 Kh7 23. e5 Rcd8 24. Qc2 Nxg3 25. hxg3 c6 26. g4 and white is way on top.

14. Bg3 Ne7

Black suffers after 14… Qe7 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. h4 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Bb5 18. Bxb5 axb5 19. hxg5 Qxg5 20. Qe4 Rf8 21. Rh4 Kh8 22. Ke2 Qg6 23. Qf3.

15. h4

Now it’s just horrible for black. The irritating thing is that I posed no obstacles and white found simple moves to get a big edge.

15…Kg7 16. Bd3 Rh8 Black also has a very bad game after 16… Nf5 17. hxg5 hxg5 18. cxd5 Nxg3 19. fxg3 exd5 20. Bf5 Be6 21. Bxe6 Rxe6 22. Qf5.

17. Qe2 Ba4 Black can try 17… Bc6 18. c5 Nf5 19. Nxc6 bxc6 20. Be5 but again white has a solid edge.

18. Rd2 Ne4? Really a bad day. Necessary was 18… dxc4! to make some room and then 19. Bxc4 (19. Nxc4 Bc6) 19…Bc6 and black can play on. Even in bad positions there are ways to offer resistance.

19. Bxe4 dxe4 20. Qh5 Qg8 21. hxg5 21. Ng4! at first was crushing.

21…hxg5 22. Qxg5+ Kf8 23. Rxh8 Qxh8 24. Qh4 Qxh4 25. Bxh4 Ng6 26. Bf6 Nxe5 27. dxe5 c5 28. f4 b5? Another blunder, but after 28…exf3 white should win eventually anyway.

29. Rd6 Bb3 30. cxb5 axb5 31. Rb6 Bc4 32. g4 Kg8 33. Rb7 Bd3 34. f5 b4 35. fxe6 fxe6 36. g5 1-0

Uck! Very poor. This seems to happen at least once per tournament!

Appendix:  Related Bayonet KID Material

Readers will find the following interesting as an additional material to the Eingorn KID above.  In the following case, too, the white queen bishop is given up and the g7-a1 diagonal “points at nothing” to justify white’s play.

King’s Indian Defense, 9. b4!? Bayonet Attack

NM Mark Ginsburg vs NM Glenn Lambert
Lloyds Bank Open, London 1978

This game was really wild and featured (at the time) very topical Bayonet Attack King’s Indian Defense theory. GM-to-be Ron Henley was another practitioner of the white side.

1.c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4!?

The Bayonet Attack, 9. b4!?, was popularized much later by GM Kramnik. In the 70’s, we played it differently. The differences will become clear. At any rate, the white king is not in danger of being mated so that is a distinct plus of the variation.

9…Nh5!? The most testing reply. 9…Nd7? runs into the strong gambit 10. c5! as IM Eugene Meyer proved at least a few times. It’s no fun in that line to face 10…dxc5 11. bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ba3.

9…a5?! also isn’t great; Black is playing on the side of the board where White is faster. After 10. bxa5 Rxa5 11. a4 white established a big initiative and went on to win, IM Ginsburg-GM Biyiasis, Philadelphia 1982. We will cover that game in an installment of The Fabulous 80s. White also has 10. Ba3!? there, avoiding 10. bxa5 c5!? which GM Nunn said was good for black. That conclusion is not altogether clear to me – refer to a more recent installment to see more.

10. c5 Logical. White is preparing to give up the unmoved bishop on c1 to accelerate his queenside play. In later years, 10. Re1 Nf4 11. Bf1 came into fashion to ignore the N on f4, arguing it simply impedes the attack. The text is more to the point in terms of queenside activity and leads to positions that are worth a re-visit even in today’s theory landscape.


The former tabiya of this variation until 10. Re1 replaced 10 c5. Maybe the current game will trigger a re-investigation of certain key positions after 10. c5.

10…Nf4 One of the main moves. I have faced 10…a5!? in a tournament game, but playing all the board looks a little haphazard for black. Black also has 10…f5!? here which I was always curious about but never had to face. Black seems OK after 11. Ng5!? Nf4! as I learned in a blitz game with IM David Goodman so maybe white is better off with 10…f5!? 11. Bc4!? – the entire system needs more exploration. After the text, the next moves for both sides are clear for a while.

11. Bxf4 exf4 12. Rc1 h6 13. h3 g5 14. a4 (14. Re1!?)

14…Ng6? 14…f5 is superior here. Play might proceed 15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Nd2 Bd7 with a small edge for white.

15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Nb5! Now white is on top.

16…a6 17. Nc7 This piece is really powerful with influence all over the board.

17…Rb8 18. b5 Strangely, the hard to spot 18. a5! is strong here too. For example, 18. a5 Bd7 19. b5 axb5 20. Qb3 f5 21. exf5 Bxf5 22. Bd3 with a white plus.

18… axb5 19. axb5 Qe7 20. Re1! b6 20…Qxe4?! leads to big trouble after 21. Bc4 Qf5 22. Bc4 Qf6 (22…Qd7? 23. Bxg6 fxg6 24. Ne6! Rf7 (24…Rf6? 25. Rc7!) 25. Qd3! Kh7 26. b6! with total paralysis, an unusually nice winning line.) 23. Ne8! Qd8 24. Nxg7 Kxg7 with massive compensation after, e.g., 25. Qd2.

21. Na6 Rb7


Both sides are playing consistent moves yet white’s chances have to be rated higher, since he is faster in his plans.

22. Nd4? A blunder. 22. Bc4! or 22. Qb3! or even 22. Bf1 were all fine and black has a very bad position. White thought the e-pawn is immune, but it is not. After 22. Qb3!, the e-pawn really is immune due to 22…Qxe4? 23. Bd3 trapping the queen. 22. Qb3 Bd7 23. Nb4 and white has a big edge.

22…Bxd4? As so often happens, the opponent trusts an erroneous calculation and makes a blunder in reply. 22…Qxe4! 23. Nc6 Ne5 and black is back in the game although white has some compensation.

23. Qxd4 Ne5 24. Nb4 Qf6 25. Nc6 An amusing dance of the knights. White protects the queen on d4 and wards off tactics.

25…f3 Black might as well sharpen the game to the utmost because he is positionally behind.

26. Bxf3 Nxf3+ 27. gxf3 Qxf3 28. Rc3 Qf4 29. Kg2 f6 30. Rf3 Qh4 31. Ree3 g4 32. hxg4 Bxg4 33. Rg3 Kh7

The game is getting very exciting, and both players are getting short of time to the time control on move 40!

34. e5! Objectively white is winning now but it will be a nervous affair with both kings exposed.


34…Rg7 35. exd6 Qh5 36. Qe4+ 36. Kg1 is winning with less tricks. 36…Kh8 37. Ne7 f5

Black does his best to find tactical counter-chances. One slip up from White and the tables might turn completely!

38. Qf4 Ra8 Trying his last chance. Black activates his rook and tries to keep an attack alive.

39. Re1?! 39. d7 wins cleanly.

39…Ra4! Grasping at every possible chance and forcing a crisis.


Quick, you have no time, what do you play??

40. Rh1!!

Right! Deduct points if you played 40. Qxa4?? Bf3+ 41. Kf1 Qh1 and mate next move. In addition, the flashy 40. Ng6+? Rxg6 41. Re8+ Kh7 42. Re7+ is simply a draw. The text, temporarily sacrificing a rook, is the only way to win.

40…Qxh1+ 41. Kxh1 Rxf4 42. d7 Bf3+ 43. Kg1!

No points for 43. Kh2?? Rh4+ 44. Rh3 Rg2+ and black mates.

43…Rh4 44. d8=Q+ Kh7 45. Rxg7+ Kxg7 46. Nxf5+ 1-0

A tremendous fight! It takes two players to create such an exciting battle of chess ideas.

The Fabulous 00s: Close but no Mohata

July 11, 2008

Chess Life Online Weirdness

Often times, Chess Life online articles are written hastily (presumably to keep their entertainment value fresh) and the readers really miss out on what’s going on.

In a World Open 2008 article that just appeared, FM Todd Andrews presents some endings in an article titled “Endgame Joy in Philly”.

Let’s look at a particularly bizarre example – since it’s presented without notes and we are led to believe WGM Mohata playing black was somehow ground down (she was ground down earlier that day vs FM Andrews) – but what actually happened?  White was Andrews’ buddy FM John Bick.  CLO readers are having Caissic wool pulled over their eyes here.

Let’s start the action from Andrews’ first diagram.  Black to move.

Position after white’s 39th move in FM Bick – WGM Mohata.   Mohata all the way in this position.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  GONGING NOISE: Mohata stands better! The classical advantage of a 3 on 2 majority versus a 4 on 3 majority plus white’s b2 and a3 pawns are on the same color as the white bishop.  White has a bad game!   Mohata’s got the joy goin’ on!  GONG!!  CLO Readers WAKE UP!!! I can only hope that GM Benko never sees this article. He gets offended when the superior side loses.

To compound white’s difficulties, black can constantly threaten to make a K&P ending and invade with her king versus white’s rickety king-side pawns as the variations will show.  How could she lose?  It took something special, and something quite illogical. These are the questions Andrews might have talked about in the article.  But since the remaining moves (where White wins?!?!?!) have no notes, the reader might just believe Mohata was somehow outplayed.  The truth is black can easily win this position in many plausible lines and white at best can hope for a draw.  For black to lose is totally outside the pale of human dignity.

Let’s see how black can reel in the Bick for a full point using the above-named advantages in some sample lines where white makes even tiny inaccuracies.

For convenience, I will just call this move number 1.

1….Ke6! Always king to the center first before undertaking operations.  The f4 hole beckons.  1…Bd4? 2. Bc3 Be5?? (2…Bg1 =) 3. Bxe5 fxe5 4. Kc3 Ke6 5. Kb4 Kd6 6. Ka5 Kc6 7. g5! wins for white (not 7. Kxa6? g5! drawing).

2. Bc3 Bc7 3. h3 a5 4. Ke3 g5! and by fixing the hole on f4 black is totally winning.  For example, 4. Kd4 Bb6 mate! Or 5. Ke2 Be5 and black easily wins the K&P ending.  OK that defense didn’t work out for white.  Let’s try again.

4. Kc2 This hunker-down is plausible but not so easy to play OTB; the usual instinct is to stay more active.  4…a4!? A possible try. 5. Bd2 Bb6 6. f4 g5! A nice shot; if white takes twice on g5 black has Ke5 and Kxe4.  So white plays 7. fxg5 fxg5 8. Bc3! keeping the king out.  I don’t see a win then.

Let’s go back and see some more ideas.

1…Ke6  2. Ke2? This passive move is crushed!  2…Bd4!  3. Bc3 Ke5! White is running very short of move.   Do you want to see another nice move/plan?  The foxy 3…Be5! 4. h3 Bxc3! 5. bxc3 Ke5 6. Ke3 g5! (Always this move, fixing white’s f4 hole) and black wins. This suggests 4. h3? is a blunder crippling white’s majority and let’s try 4. h4! instead.  Now, 4…Bxc3 5. bxc3 Ke5 g5 is only a draw because white gets a protected passed pawn.  So after 4. h4, black should play 4…h5! fixing the h-pawn on black and retaining good chances.  If 4…h5! 5. Ke3? Bg3! wins.  White must play 5. Kf2 to guard the g3 square for the time being.  Then 5…Bf4 does not seem to lead anywhere; white can move his own bishop.  How about 5…Kf7!? establishing what may be a very pretty zugzwang?

5…Kf7 – Zugzwang!?

For example, 6. Kg2? (moving the king too far afield) and now the thematic 6…a5! winning.   A very nice shot here: 6…a5! 7. Kf2 Bxc3 8. bxc3 g5! making a passed h-pawn.  As has been written in many ending manuals, the white king cannot dance at two weddings!  Or, 6. gxh5 gxh5 7. Kg2 a5! with the brutal finale 8. Kf2 b4 9. axb4 Bxc3 10. bxc3 a4 and queens!  8. g5 Bxc3 9. bxc3 fxg5 and once again black will have his two remote passed pawns which decide.  Note also that 6. gxh5 gxh5 7. Bxe5 fxe5 just lands white in a lost K&P ending with inevitable zugzwang giving black’s king decisive entry points.

4. Kd2 a5! and black is way on top. A nice tactical motif.  For example, 5. h4 Bxc3+ 6. Kxc3 (6. bxc3 Kf4 wins) Kf4 7. a4 (or 7. Kd4 Kxf3 8. g5 fxg5 and wins queen and pawn ending) 7…bxa4 8. Kxc4  Kxf3 9. g5 (last try) 9…fxg5 and black wins the queen and pawn ending.

Let’s go back and try some other lines.

1….Ke6 2. Bf8 (Waiting).  2…Ke5 3. Bg7 With a USA-style subtle threat.  3…g5!! (Cold shower) and black wins.  Note how black can afford, in many position, to fix her kingside on black because white is so hopelessly compromised on black squares in the 3 on 2 majority situation on the queenside.

1…Ke6 2. f4! A plausible move getting rid of the hole on f4.  Now, if black plays 2…Bc7 3. Ke3 g5 4. f5+ Kf7 5. h3 Bf4+ 6. Ke2 Be5 7. Bc3 Bxc3 8. bxc3 the single white problem, the backward pawn on e4, won’t be enough. 8…Ke7 9. Ke3 Kd6 I do not see a win in this K&P ending, because if black’s king goes too far on the queenside white can break with e4-e5.  That position is a draw as long as white does not go crazy with 10. Kd4 a5 11. a4?? bxa4 12. Kxc4 Ke5 and black wins.

So let’s try the immediate  1….Ke6 2. f4 g5!? as a trickier try.  Of course, 3. f5+?? now loses to 3…Ke5 4. Bc3+ Bd4! and white has to resign.

White could answer with 3. fxg5 fxg5 4. Bc3 trying to keep the king out, but then black has the nice switcheroo with 4…Bc7! 5. h3 Be5! (The thematic idea to capitalize on the 3 on 2 majority).  Now, 6. Bxe5?? Kxe5 lands white in a lost ending with black using the usual motif of decoying with the remote passed pawn to win white’s remaining pawns.  He must stay calm with 6. Ke2 and hold on passively – indications are he can hold it unless I am missing a black resource.  There is actually a nice variation buried here to show how narrow the path is.  6. Ke2 Bxc3 7. bxc3 Ke5 8. Ke3 a5 9. Kf3 Kd6 10. Ke3 Kc5 (the only try) 11. Kd2 b4

Position after 11….b4 (analysis).  Close but no Mohata.

and now black is hoping for the blunder 12 axb4??+ axb4 13. cxb4+ Kxb4 14. e5 Kc5 15. Kc3 Kd5 16. e6 Kxe6 17. Kxc4 Ke5 and wins!  Correct for white is the tactical 12. cxb4+! (a narrow saving resource!) 12…cxb4 13. a4! Only move! 13…Kd4 14. a5 c3+ 15. Kc1 Kd3 16. a6 b3 17. a7 b2+ 18. Kb1 Kd2 19. a8=Q c2+ 20. Kxb2 c1=Q+ 21. Ka2 Qc2+ 22. Ka1 and draw.  Whew!

Let’s look at another, more craven, formation.

1…Ke6 2. Kc2 (Passive cowering). 2…Ke5 Black can also torture with 2…Bg1.

3. Bd2 (More passive cowering).  3…Bg1 4. h3 This incredibly passive formation is the best white’s been doing so far!  Maybe, just maybe, he can hold this one and make a draw.   There is a cool K&P variation hidden here:  1…Ke6 2. Kc2 Ke5 3. Bc3+?  Bd4 4. h3 Bxc3 5. Kxc3 Kf4 6. Kb4 and now black to play and get good winning chances.  Take a look.  Solution next time.  Hint, don’t play 6…Kxf3?? 7. g5! and white wins!  That would lose the game for Mohata, imagine that!

What’s the most iron-clad draw?  Many of the ‘draws’ above are kind of scary for white. Some of the lines above point out tenuous white draws.   But black is certainly pressing. Andrews should have pointed out Mohata’s fundamental advantages starting from his first diagram but I concede many Chess Life Online articles are crazy rush jobs.  I welcome readers’ inputs on these lines and also it would be nice if someone had a definitive evaluation from the diagram – black wins or a draw?    Poor Mohata – she lost the actual game. None of the instrinsic advantages were used.  Did I mention that?

3% Vicary

Elizabeth Vicary had minimal contribution to this post.

Postscript:  A Curious Warrior Gambit Opening Omission in Chess Life

In the curious article “The Bathhouse & the Indian” (yes, an ampersand was employed in this article’s title, Earth calling CL Editor) GM Kraai omits an important move that was known in the time of the Toltecs or, failing that, at least the To’hona Oodham and the Yavapai.  I did enjoy references to truck grease but I wish the article had included somebody eating the worm out of the tequila bottle.  Let’s get to the chess.

In his notes to  Johnston vs Leeds-Tilley, after the moves

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 0-0 6. Be2 e5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 For some reason, Kraai awards this an exclamation point.  Radjabov wouldn’t like that!

9. … Nd7? A huge lemon simply because it allows so many juicy white continuations.  Every Russian schoolboy knows about 9…Nh5!

Now, in the game, white played 10. Be3 and very oddly, this move passes by without comment.  White has a far more entertaining option.  Let’s go back to the position after black’s 9th move to summon the spirit of what is known from the past.  Eugene Meyer must have shown me these lines 30 years and many moon ago.

10. c5!

10. c5! Ye Olde Toltec Gambit.

Summoning the spirit of <insert deity/deities>.  Accepting is very risky.  For example, 10…dxc5 11. bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ba3 Nd7? 13. Nb5! with a juicy edge. For example, 13…c5 14. dxc6 e.p. bxc6 15. Nd6 with complete paralysis as in Schenk-Braun Boeblingen 2003.  Or, 12…b6 13. Bxc5 dxc5 14. Na4 and white has scored very heavily starting from here, for example 14…Nxd5? 15. Qxd5 Qxd5 16. exd5 e4 17. Nd2 Bxa1 18. Rxa1 and white won easily, Savchenko-Maier, Porto San Giorgio 2000.

Declining is the Better Part of Valor

In this gambit, declining looks like a better bet. For example 10…f5 11. Ng5 Nf6 12. f3 h6!? is not ridiculous. 13. Ne6 Bxe6 14. dxe6 d5 15. exd5 Nfxd5 16. Nxd5 Qxd5! is murky as practice has shown.  White might do better with  11. Ng5 Nf6 12. Bf3!? but here, black has what may be a TN, 12…a5!, with counterplay.  That suggestion is hot off the Rybka griddle. I don’t think that position has been seen before.

This gambit stuff would make the Yavapai proud!  Very bold and thematically fitting into the article.  I would lose the ampersand in the title, though – editor?

GM L. Ftacnik, Hero!!

Wish I had seen this.  From J. Shahade’s CLO World Open 08 story,

“Co-winner GM Lubomir Ftacnik became heroic to some and notorious to others early in the tournament when he grabbed the mike and yelled “Shut-up” repeatedly when announcements began, even though some of the games had been going on for 20 minutes”.    Is there any question?  Hero!!!!

By the way, Ftacnik was a runner-up in the epic World Junior Championship that the USA’s Mark Diesen won way back in 1976.  Ftacnik got there by swindling pre-tourney favorite Vladimirov.

What’s New Elsewhere

I just posted the blunderfest Ehlvest-Liu from the NY International 2008 Part Deux.

Awesome Error Message

From the site at 12:23 EST Sunday July 13, trying to read an article, I get:

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 262144) (tried to allocate 6144 bytes) in /nfs/eagle/export0/www/docroot/global/ on line 464

That’s better than the article!  All I wanted was a measly 6144 bytes!

Unrelated Query

Presumably correspondence players, having plenty of time to think (and even access to chess engines) should be able to find good moves.  Why is it that correspondence games presented in Chess Life magazine are usually of such poor quality?

The Fabulous 00s: The NY International 2008 Part Deux

July 1, 2008

More Games, More Drama

Here’s a barnburner I played in Round 3 vs. GM Michael Rohde.

IM M. Ginsburg – GM M. Rohde  Round 3, Hedgehog

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.O-O a6 7.Re1 Be7 8.e4 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 Of course the c4 pawn is not really hanging yet.  Black is just setting up a regular hedgehog piece placement.

11.Be3 Nbd7 12.f4 h5!? It’s a little unusual to do this at this exact juncture.  Some players like to go ….Rc8 and …Qb8 to attack the c-pawn “for real”.

13.Rc1!? 13. h3 is the most positionally careful but on this day I felt like throwing a knight into the middle (see move 14).

13…Ng4 14.Nd5! Maybe a TN!  It leads to what I think is a significant white edge.

Position after 14. Nd5!? – Maybe a TN!

14…exd5 15.cxd5 Qd8 16.Nc6 This is the point.  The pawn appearing on c6 will cause coordination problems for black.

16…Bxc6 17.dxc6 Nc5 18.c7?! Rather weak.  Correct is 18. Bd4! with excellent positional compensation.  This position merits careful examination to determine the ultimate worth of 14. Nd5.

18…Qxc7 19.b4 O-O 20.h3 Nxe3 21.Rxe3 h4!? If I were black, I would be more inclined to 21…g6!? but the text is positionally well motivated to gain more dark squares.

Position after 21…h4!? – the most aggressive choice.

22.bxc5 dxc5 23.Qg4 c4! Strong.

24.Kh1 b5 25.e5 Qb6 26.Re4! This is the only move to give black any problems.  Objectively black is better but it’s not easy with limited time to reach move 40.

26…Rad8 27.f5 Qh6 28.Rf1

Position after 28. Rf1.  Decision time.

28…Rfe8? In severe time trouble, black selects a nearly losing move. Correct is 28…f6! and black is much better.  The queenside majority is mobile.

29.f6 Bf8 30.e6! Naturally.

30…Rxe6 31.Rxe6 fxe6 32.Qxe6+ Kh8 33.Bd5! Rxd5 Pretty much necessary but now white has chances to win.

34.Qxd5 The position is now dangerous for black.

Position after 34. Qxd5.

34…hxg3?! 34…gxf6 looks better.  35. Rf5 could be met by 35…Qc1+.

35.Kg2? White gives away a pawn for no reason. Why on earth not first the natural 35. fxg7+ completely baring black’s king?  The queen and rook can then ‘bother” much more effectively and white has good chances to score the full point.

35…gxf6 Black’s king is now safe enough to draw.  Now both sides have very little time left and a set of fairly random moves appear on the board to get to move 40.

36.Rf5 Qg6 37.Rf4 Bh6 38.Qa8+ Kh7 39.Rg4 Qc2+ 40.Kxg3 Qd3+ 41.Kg2 Bg5 42.h4 Qe2+ 43.Kh3 A perpetual check is inevitable.

1/2-1/2 A tough struggle!

Last Round Thriller

IM Alfonse Almeida (2502, MEX) – IM M. Ginsburg  Round 9. Modern/Pirc

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bc4 In Round 1 IM Ron Burnett was successful with 4. Be3 c6!? 5. Qd2 b5!? playing black against IM Eli Vovsha.  The text move, the “Holmov Attack”, has been well studied by theory and is fairly harmless.

4…Nf6 5.Nge2 On the main move 5. Qe2, black has been doing well with the sharp 5…O-O!? 6. e5 Ne8, and the older 5…Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 is not refuted either.  The text should yield zero.

5…O-O The simplest way is 5…Nxe4!, but I was somehow probably unjustifiably worried about 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Nxe4 with some nebulous ideas of Ng5+ and Nf4 targeting e6.  After the game, my opponent gave his intention as 6. Nxe4 but then 6…d5 7. Bd3 dxe4 8. Bxe4 and black is completely fine with white’s odd knight placement on e2.   After the text move, the game becomes very sharp.

6.f3 c6 7.a4 d5 8.Bb3 dxe4 9.fxe4 e5! The usual reaction in the center, reminiscent of the Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3!? dxe4 4. fxe4 e5!?)  meets with a very nice response from white.  When I played 9…e5, I had no idea what white was up to and I thought he was just worse.  This isn’t the case.


Position after 9. Bg5! – I did not expect this move.

10…exd4 11.Qxd4 Necessary and interesting.

11…Qxd4 12.Nxd4 Nbd7 13.Rf1! The only move to keep pressure.

13…h6 14.Bh4

Now I had a bit of a think.  If I accept the pawn gambit I come under heavy pressure.  I opted for something else…

14…Ng4? This move, anticipating 15. O-O-O?? Ne3! winning, would be great if it were not for white’s next!

Position after 14…Ng4? – White has a shot.

15.Ne6! The opportunistic Almeida would not miss this.  As a testament to “how good” my opening was, I can play on with some pressure even after this brutal shot.

15…fxe6 16.Bxe6 Kh7 17.Bxg4 Rxf1 18.Kxf1 Nc5 19.Bf3 Be6 20.Bf2 b6 Black is doing the best he can, but his compensation is insufficient.

21.a5 Re8 22.axb6 axb6 23.Ra7? A huge misstep!  White had the simple 23. Rd1 with the idea of Rd6; white should convert that position to victory.  It is OK if he loses the a-pawn at some juncture if that means black’s dark-squared bishop leaves the board. After the text, white’s rook proves to be out of play as black generates unexpected counterplay against white’s king!

23…Kg8 24.Rc7 Bc4+ 25.Kg1 Ra8! Suddenly Bxc3 and Ra1+ are threatened!  White has to self-tangle.

26.Nd1 From this point on, the gamescore makes no sense.  Here are the right moves.

26…Bb5! A nice defensive motif. White’s rook is in serious danger of being trapped with Bg7-e5!  He has to resort to extreme measures and black is now off the hook.

Position after 26…Bb5!  Black wriggles out.

27. Bg4 What else? 27…Be5 28. Rc8+ Rxc8 29. Bxc8 Be2! 30. Nc3 This position is drawn.  Black just has to be a little careful.  The two bishops never become a factor.

30…Bxc3 31. bxc3 Nxe4 32. Bxb6 Nxc3 33. Bd4 Ne4 34. Bd7 Bb5 Black’s bishop and knight coordinate well.  White’s king cannot approach to do damage.

35. Be6+ Kf8 36. Bg4 Kf7 37. h4 h5 38. Bf3 Nd2! 39. Kf3 White offers a draw in light of 39…Nxf3.  For some reason on the site, the game continues to move 60 and rooks reappear on the board rather magically. Even worse for me, white is recorded as winning..  In fact, the game ended here peacefully.


Round 3 Sickness

Just for the sick blunderfest fans among us (I know you’re one), here is Ehlvest-Liu from the 3rd round.

GM Jaan Ehlvest – NM Elliot Liu  King’s Indian Defense, Round 3.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.e3 O-O 5.Be2 d6 6.c4 c5 7.Nc3 Soviet-style safety (SSS).   The chances are very high an American junior won’t know what to do.

7…h6 8.Bh4 g5 Here, the non-obvious 8…Qb6!? 9. Qd2 g5 10. Bg3 Bf5 is interesting on the grounds white would rather have his queen on c2, not d2.

9.Bg3 Nh5  The unusual 9…Qb6!? is interesting here too. 10. Qc2 Nc6 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. a3 Rfc8 with counterplay.

10.d5 f5 And here 10…Qa5 11. Nd2 Nxg3 12. hxg3 Bf5! offers an interesting game; black does not mind white weakening the dark squares considering his unopposed king bishop in the event of e3-e4.

11.Nd2 Nxg3 12.hxg3 Nd7 Offbeat but not ridiculous is 12…Na6!? 13. a3 Bd7!? 

13.Qc2 Nf6 14.f4 e6 15.fxg5 hxg5 16.dxe6 Bxe6 17.O-O-O Now, as if by magic, white has a strong initiative.  We have to credit white’s unusual system because the non-obvious variations above are all difficult to spot. After making some hackneyed KID moves (hunting down white’s QB and playing f5 to expose his own king) Black is in a very difficult situation.  GM Lein used to torture US Juniors in this line.  It must be a Soviet specialty. I did something like this as black against Lein Lone Pine ’80 (play rote moves and get a bad game) and also in my game I missed a win later when white overpressed.  Weird!

17…a6 18.g4! Qd7?! Since 18…fxg4 19. Bd3 is so bad for black, it’s hard to call it an improvement.  Nevertheless, the text puts the BQ on a very unfortunate square.

19.Rdf1 Now white is well on the road to victory with a huge edge.  I left the playing hall at this point having observed this dismal tableau for black.  But look what happens!  In fact, this phase might be characterized as a “hustle”  – Jaan starts missing win after win in the moves that follow; perhaps in the ‘anything wins’ mode?

19…fxg4 20.Bd3 The simple 20. Nd5! gets rid of black’s light square bishop and then the black king is fairly well toasted.  For example, 20…Bxd5 21. cxd5 b5 22. Bd3 is horrific for black.  For those who like tactics, here is a pleasing one:  21. cxd5 c4 22. Nxc4! Rac8 23. Kb1 b5 24. Bd3!! Rf7 25. Bh7+ Kf8 26. Nb6! splat!  The text move also gives white a big edge.

Position after 20. Bd3 — Something has gone very wrong from black’s point of view.

One of the things that makes Grandmasters strong is their vast experience with all kinds of opening systems.  Take for example the one Ehlvest played in this game (an old favorite of safety-first ex-World Champ Vassily Smyslov).  Liu played what so far seem to be quasi-normal moves and the diagram above looks like a simul crush.  I won’t embarrass either participant further with more diagrams, since the game degenerates now into an insane blunderfest.

20…Kf7 21. Run away!  But this shouldn’t have helped.

21.Nde4?! Ehlvest’s first (of many) failures to end the game in his favor quickly. 21. Bf5! is completely crushing.  Here’s a disgusting variation: 21. Bf5! Ke7 22. Bxe6 Qxe6 23. Qg6 Rf7 24. Rh7!  and black must resign in view of 24…Nxh7 25. Nd5+.  For sadists, examine the punching bag nature of 21. Bf5! Bxf5 22. Rxf5 Ke7 (what else?) 23. Rhf1 Qe6 24. Qd3 with total paralysis. 24…Rae8 25. Rxg5 Bh8 26. Rg6 Kd7 27. Nd5 Rf7 28. Rf4! Ref8 29. Re4! Nxe4 30. Nb6+!  (That devilish knight!) 30…Ke7 31. Rxe6+ and wins.

21…Ke7 22.Nxg5 Kd8 Necessary.

23.Bf5! Better late than never.

23…Bxf5 24.Rxf5 Kc7 25.Rd1? Extremely careless. 25. Rhf1 is overski:  25…Qe8 26. Qd3 Kc6 27. Nd5 and wins.  Black is paralyzed.

25…b6 26.Kb1 Rae8 White has bungled and almost his entire edge is gone.

27.e4 Qc6? Quite weak.  27…Kb8 is correct.

28.Rdf1?! Not the right timing.  28. Qf2! is right with a big edge after 28…Kb7 29. Qf4 or 28…Kb8 29. Qf4.

28…Kb7 29.a4?! 29. Nd5! is correct.

29…Nd7 30.Nd5 Rxf5? 30…Bd4 is much tougher.  The text allows a nice white win.

31.exf5 Nf6 32.Ne6?? White finishes it with 32. Nxf6 Bxf6 33. Nh7! – an elegant conclusion.  Black can limp on with 33…d5 (forced, any bishop move is crushed by f5-f6) 34. cxd5 Qd6 35. Nxf6 Qxf6 36. Qd3 and white should convert easily.  Was Ehlvest simply underestimating his young opponent after encountering very little resistance in the opening?

Bh8 33.Qd1? White is still winning after 33. Nec7 Rc8 (33…Re5 34. Nxf6 Bxf6 35. Nd5! also loses) 34. Rh1 Qd7 35. Nxf6 Bxf6 36. Nd5 Be5 37. e6! and wins.

33… b5 34.axb5? 34. Qb3! keeps a serious edge.

34…axb5 35.Qb3 35. Ndc7! is also strong here.  The weird thing is white is still better after the prior missed opportunities, but watch!

35…b4 36.Rh1?? A real lu-lu.  36.  Qd3! Nxd5 37. cxd5 Qa4 38. f6 b3 39. Qh7+!  Kb6 40. Qc7+ Ka6 41. Qxd6+ wins for white.  36…Kc8 is relatively best but white is still well on top. Clearly Ehlvest visualized something like this in his mind but his timing in the game is all vershimmelt.  36. Qd3 Kb8 is relatively best for black, but once again after 37. Ndc7! white is much better.

36..Nxd5 37.cxd5 Qd7 For the first time, black is back in it.  And here, 37…Qa6! was quite good with the idea of Ra8 and black is on the offense.

38.Qc4 Rc8? Time trouble?   38…Ra8! 39. Qxg4 Qb5!! 40. Qe4 Kb6!! and black has a huge attack!  But wait:  38….Ra8! 39. Rh7!! Qxh7 40. Qb5+ and a sudden perpetual check draw!   It would, of course, be difficult for white to reconcile himself to a draw after black’s opening butcheries.

39.Rh6 Ra8?! 39…Qa4! and white has to press the panic button with 40. Rh1 Ra8 41. Nxc5+! with a perpetual check, or 40…Kb6! (again this nice move) with a continued attack and no immediate draw.

40.Qe4?? White must have been in time trouble too.  40. f6!  is met by the nice bail-out sacrifice 40…Bxf6! 41. Rxf6 Qh7+ 42. Kc1 Qh1+ 43. Kc2 Qh1+ 44. Kb3 Qh3+ and this is a very pleasing perpetual check draw.

40…Qa4?? I am convinced, both sides were in serious time trouble.  Here, black had 40…Ra1+ 41. Kxa1 Qa4+ 42. Kb1 Qd1+ 43. Ka2 b3+ mating, or 41. Kc2 Qa4+ 42. Kd2 Bc3+! and now we’re in junior tactic land and black wins white’s queen for starters.

41.Nxc5+ Some good fortune for Ehlvest.  41…dxc5 42. Qe7+ is curtains. Lucky!  1-0

The moral of the story is, it’s not good to miss win after win.  One of them must be played!


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