Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

November 2, 2010

Caro Double Blunder on the 4th Move!

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

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

Caro-Kann Primitive Lunge Variation

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

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

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


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

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

5.c4 e6

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fabulous 10s: US Chess League Benoni Insanity

September 10, 2010

Channeling Gashimov

From Week 3 action:

Joel Banawa (LA Vibe) – Dionisio Aldama (Arizona Scorpions)

Modern Benoni

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6(?!)

Very combative and probably not good according to the latest word in theory in this move order.  For adventurers, look at 3…a6!? hoping to get e6 in soon under better circumstances!

Too combative?

4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3(?)

As far as I know, the Modern Benoni in this move order is still considered dubious due to the straightfoward e4, f4, and Bb5+ despite some sporadic efforts by Topalov in the 1990s. That’s why it’s far more often seen after white commits his knight to f3.

6…g6 7.h3 Bg7 8.e4 0-0 9.Bd3

As recommended by Yermolinsky in the “Road to Chess Improvement” book.  Yermo scored several convincing wins in this clear-cut “central” strategy.

Previously thought to be very dubious for black, this setup has been re-invigorated thanks to the efforts of young world-class Grandmaster Vugar Gashimov.  Indeed, in the analysis room at the playing hall for Arizona, I instructed John Gurczak to kibitz “Gashimov!” around this point.

8…a6 10.a4 Re8

Igor Ivanov used to say categorically that any Rf8-e8 move is useless in the Benoni because the Rook needs to be on f8 to support a later f7-f5.

11.0-0 Nbd7 12.Re1 Rb8 13.Bf4 Qc7 14.Nd2 Ne5 15.Be2

I guess white wanted to observe h5 to prevent Nf6-h5. This position is fully acceptable for black.  But now mysterious things start to happen.

15…h6 16.Rc1 g5

I’m not sure about this move or the prior move.  White is gearing up for his strong 18th.

17.Bg3 Bd7 18.b4! cxb4 (?!)

In light of the unpleasant developments following this move, black should already be seeking alternatives.

19.Nb5 Qb6 20.a5!

Now it’s crazy (probably crazy bad for black).

Queen Quandary


What I wanted to see here was 20…Qxb5!!? 21. Bxb5 Bxb5, although 22. Bxe5 takes out most of the fun.

21.Nxd6 Ba4 22.Nb3 Qd8(?)

Here, I was expecting 22…Bxb3!? 23. Qxb3 Qa3!? with counterplay.

23.Nxe8 Nxe8 24.Qd2!  Now white is just winning.

Bxb3 25.Qxb4 Bxd5 26.Red1 Nc6 27.Rxc6?

White gets carried away.  27. Qe1 wins material.

27…Bxc6 28.Rxd8 Rxd8 29.e5 Nc7

Now black is very compact and white cannot break down the formation.

30.Qb6 Rc8 31.Bc4 Ne6 32.f3 Bf8 33.Kh2 Bc5 34.Qb1 Re8 35.Qf5 Bf8 36.Bd3 Bg7 37.h4 a5 38.hxg5 hxg5 39.Bf2 Rd8 40.f4 gxf4 41.Bh4 Rxd3 42.Qxd3 Bxe5 43.Qf5 Bc7 44.Kh1 a4 45.Be7 Bb6 46.Qg4+ Kh7 47.Bf6 Kh6 48.Kh2 Be4 49.Qg8 Bg6 50.Qa8 Bf5 51.Qxb7 Kg6 52.Be5 Bd4 53.Bd6 Bc5 54.Bxc5 Nxc5 55.Qc6+ Ne6 56.Qxa4 Kf6 57.Qc6 Bg6 58.Kg1 Kg5 59.Kf2 Kg4 60.Qd5 Bf5 61.Qe5 Bg6 62.Qe2+ Kf5 63.Qb5+ Kg4 64.Qe5 Bf5 65.Qc3 Kg5 66.Ke2 Bg6 67.Kd2 Kg4 68.Qh3+ Kg5 69.Kc3 Bf5 70.Qf3 Bg4 71.Qf2 Bf5 72.Qf3 Bg4 Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

Quite the tightrope act from Aldama!  Arizona wound up decisively winning the match, 3 1/2 to 1/2.


Swedish teenage phenom Nils Grandelius is not known to be a huge expert in the Modern Benoni.

The Georgians

The collective Georgian Women’s Olympic team also is not known to be a huge authority on the Modern Benoni.

The Fabulous 70s: The Anatoly Lein Chamber of Horrors

April 7, 2010

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

The Man!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ut oh

31…Rxc3+ 32. Ke2 Rc2+ 33. Ke3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13… dxc5 This is just very pleasant for black.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

41… h4! I see it!  Black wins now.

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

42… Kh8 43. Ne3 Rg8 {White Resigns.}


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

Lawrence Day, these days

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

The Fabulous 70s and The Fabulous 90s: Two Chestnuts

March 20, 2010

Chestnut 1

The scene:  Fairfax, VA.  1976 US Open.  Smoking allowed!  GM Bill Lombardy, 1957 World Junior Champion (he won every game), puffing away on a cigar versus young upstart John Fedorowicz.

Thanks to Bill Whited for finding this game.  I had confused it in another post on the US Open 1976 with a Lombardy-Diesen encounter.  I think the time control was the bizarre 50 moves in 150 minutes (need to check that).  I played in this event, drawing Wozney and Blocker (Ohio power!) but drawing an old lady (a photo of me vs. old lady graced the pages of The Washington Post).  The skittles room was dominated by a loud, blustery, rather irritating man who would shush people left and right – I later found out it was Hanken.  Smoke filled the tournament room.  Good times.  Trivia fact: Kurt Stein informs me that National HS Champ Ric Kaner was hassled/almost mugged in DC walking from a train station.

[Event “US op Fairfax (5), 1976”]
[Date “1976.08.??”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Lombardy, William”]
[Black “Fedorowicz, John P”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteElo “2520”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 Qb6 7. Nb3 e6 8. Be2 a6 9. O-O Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 10…gxf6! = has stood the test of time.

11. Qxd6 Black doesn’t have enough for the pawn but it’s entertaining.

11…Be5 12. Qd2 O-O 13. Kh1 Rd8 14. Bd3 Bd7 15. f4 Bb8

16. a3? 16. Rad1 is better.

16…Na5 17. Nxa5 Qxa5 18. Qe1 Ba7 19. b4 19. e5 is stronger than this lunge. While not totally horrible, the text move does not give a good impression.

19…Qc7 20. a4 Rac8 21. Ne2 Bb6 22. Ra3 Bc6 23. b5 Ba5 24. Qb1 Be8 25. Rb3 axb5 26. axb5 f6! Now black is fine.

27. e5 fxe5 28. c4 g6 29. fxe5 Qxe5 30. Ng1 Bc7 31. Nf3 Qh5 32. Qe1 Bd7 33. Be4 Rf8 34. g3 34. h3 was much tidier.

34…Ra8 Black gets frisky.  34…b6 is equal.

Can white snap on b7?

35. Kg2? Falling for what essentially was a bluff. Surprisingly, and this is not easy to see in time trouble, 35. Bxb7! Ra2 36. Nh4! is good for white.

35…Ra2+ 35…Bb6, waiting, was a good alternative.  The text lets white make a couple of quick moves and keep control.

36. Rf2 Rxf2+ 37. Qxf2 Qg4 38. Qd4 Weirdly, 38. Qe1 keeps a definite edge.

38…Bc8 While nothing special, 38…Bb6! works tactically and would cause white to take some time.

39. b6? Falling for a devilish tactical trick; the typical fate of a time-trouble addict. 39. c5! was good for white with the nice variation: 39. c5! Rd8 40. Qe3 e5 41. b6! with a big plus.  I am sure white envisioned something like this but mixed up the order of the pawn moves.

39…Bxb6! 40. h3?? Completing a collapse. 40. Qd3 equal, or 40. Rxb6 Rxf3 41. Rb2 equal. Bill had the unfortunate habit of minimizing his results in time trouble. As Korchnoi said, “In time trouble, there are no heroes.”

40..Qxf3+ Winning a full piece.  Disgruntled and disgusted and not hiding his emotions, Lombardy plays on.

41. Bxf3 Bxd4 42. Bxb7 Bxb7+ 43. Rxb7 e5 44. g4 h6 45. Rc7 e4 46. Re7 e3 47. Re4 Bc5 48. Re5 Rc8 49. Kf3 Kf7 50. Ke2 Kf6 51. Rd5 0-1 It may be (needs confirmation) that Lombardy adjourned at this point and forced his opponent to attend an early morning resumption the next day – whereas Bill did not show up. An interesting “gambit”. I can see Korchnoi pulling this stunt too. In the old days, we had quaint things like “adjournments” and “resumptions”.

In a 1977 Lone Pine, CA rematch, Lombardy had every chance to gain revenge, but again (probably time trouble!) let the win slip away and only drew.

Chestnut 2

Not for the faint of heart.  The scene:  Glendale, CA. World Student Teams, 1994.  The USA-Armenia match. 

[Event “USA-ARM”]
[Site “Glendale”]
[Date “1994.??.??”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Anastasian, Ashot”]
[Black “Gurevich, Ilya”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A15”]
[WhiteElo “2545”]
[BlackElo “2585”]
[EventDate “1994.05.??”]
[EventType “team”]
[EventRounds “4”]
[EventCountry “USA”]
[Source “ChessBase”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. b4 Bg7 4. Bb2 O-O 5. e3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. d3 a5 8. b5 Nbd7 9. O-O a4 10. a3 Nc5 11. Nbd2 Re8 12. Qc2 Bf5 13. Rad1 c6 14. Qc3 cxb5 15. d4
Nce4 16. Nxe4 Nxe4 17. Qb4 bxc4 18. Bxc4 Qb8 19. Bd5! exd4 20. Bxd4 Nc5 21. Ng5 Be6 22. Qc3! Bxd4 23. exd4 Bxd5 24. dxc5 Bb3 25. Rxd6
With excellent play up to here, white has gained a large edge. Black’s king is very lonely.

25…h6 26. Nf3 Qc7 27. Ne5 Be6
28. Rc1 Rac8 29. Qd2 Qe7 30. Qd4 Bf5 31. f4 h5 32. h3 Qh4 33. Kh2 Red8 34. Rf1 Be6 35. Nf3 Qe7 36. Rd1 Re8 37. Re1 Qc7 38. Re5 Bb3

It’s all roses from white’s point of view.  He has maneuvered very well and his pieces are all in optimal attacking positions.  Now, 39. Rxh5! is evident and wins immediately.

White to play and win (2 solutions)

39. Ng5?? The first major miscue.  It won’t be the last.  To point out how terrible white’s 39th move was, also winning was the easy 39. Rd7! Qc6 (39… Qa5 40. Rg5 Rc6 41. f5! wins) 40. Rxe8+ Rxe8 41. Ne5 Qf6 42. Rxb7 and wins.

39… Rxe5 40. Qxe5 Bc2 41. Qd5 Re8 42. Qd4 Qc8 43. Rd7?

Tacticians will spot 43. Nxf7! Kxf7 44. Rf6+winning; for example 44…Kg8 45. Qd5+ Kh8 46. Rf7 Qd8 47. Qxb7 g5 48. Qb2+!

43… Bb3 44. Ne4 Rxe4 45.Rd8+ Re8 46. Rxc8 Rxc8

White has won the queen.  He’s still winning, of course.

A matter of technique.

47. g4? Simplest is a move to break up the pawns:  47. f5! gxf5 48. Kg3! and white wins with no problems.  Such a move begs to be played.

47… hxg4 48. hxg4 Rc6 49. Kg3 Kf8 50. Qd8+ Kg7 51. Kh4 Kh7 52. Qd4 Kg8 53. Kg3 Kf8 54. Qd8+ Kg7 55. Kf3 Be6 56. f5 gxf5 57. Qg5+ Kf8 58. gxf5 Bd5+
59. Ke3 Ke8 60. Kd4?
60. Qf4! and the critical b7 pawn falls; white wins. White seems to moving aimlessly (time trouble?).  Maybe he’s not winning. But is he losing?  That is a stretch…

60… Bb3 61. Qf4 Kd7 62. Qb8 Rc7 63. Qa7 Kc8 64. Qa8+ Kd7 65. f6 Kc6 66. Qe8+ Rd7+ 67. Kc3 Be6 68. Kb4 Kc7 69. Kxa4 Rd8 70. Qe7+ Rd7 71. Qf8 Rd4+ 72. Ka5?? Oh no!  72. Kb5 Bd7+ 73. c6! (Clearance to avoid mate!) 73…Bxc6+ 74. Kc5 Rd7 75. Kb4 and white can continue aimless shuffling without losing.

72… Bd7 0-1 Suddenly, white is mated.  A game that goes beyond the pale of your everyday garden-variety swindle.

The Fabulous 00s: The London Chess Classic

December 10, 2009

Round 3: When a Badass is not True to Himself

Amusing stuff in today’s Round 3 action.

GM Howell played an absurdly passive line in a 2. c3 Sicilian (7. dxc5?, donating his entire structure to Carlsen in a dreary queenless middlegame) and was incredibly fortunate as Magnus blitzed past several easy wins, when solid material up, perhaps simply thinking anything at all wins.  Magnus must still be kicking himself about bypassing 52…Ra2+ which wins white’s knight.

But the amusing thing is that Howell’s wussy opening contrasts very sharply with Howell’s most famous exploit to date: coldcocking an Irish TD and laying him out flat!  (They were quibbling over a few lousy British pounds).  That qualifies him for the chess version of the book “Badass”!

No More 2. c3, Badass Howell!

In another shocking moment, McShane appears to have forgotten entirely about a simple opening shot by Kramnik (…Bxf2+) and lost very lamely.

I have noticed British Grandmasters, once in a while, do lose like this as white.  A famous debacle Short-Timman comes to mind in a 1993 Candidates Match.  Although Short crushed Timman overall in the match, there was one game as white in which, well, McShane would know all about it.

And in Cinematic News: Tiger Woods is Living this Movie

The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet) is a 1957 Swedishdrama film directed by Ingmar Bergman, about the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) across a plague-ridden landscape, and a monumental game of chess between himself and the personification of Death, who has come to take his life. Bergman developed the film from his own play Wood Painting. The title refers to a passage from the Book of Revelation, used both at the very start of the film, and again towards the end, beginning with the words “And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (Revelation[1] 8:1). Here the motif of silence refers to the “silence of God” which is a major theme of the film.

The film is considered a major classic of world cinema. It helped Bergman to establish himself as a world-renowned director and contains scenes which have become iconic through parodies and homages.

Readers, can you see what I see in the above passage?  That’s right, Tiger Woods is living his own hellish version of the movie, trapped in a mansion with an icy Swedish supermodel and… her mother!  Every day brings the most brutal kind of melodrama (Swedish melodrama) to Tiger’s beleaguered existence.  Expect more car crashes, to be followed by ATV crashes, helicopter crashes, and deep sea submersible crashes, all emanating from this Ground Zero of frosty Swedish hell, Orlando, Florida.

In the middle of the night, Death comes. Chess, anyone?

The Famous Tiger Woods SUV Accident Staged in Lego

Tiger Crashes his SUV in Midst of Swedish Maelstrom

This Tiger Woods stuff is the best news since Gormally punched Aronian.

The Fabulous 00s: Dos Hermanas OTB 2008

April 24, 2008

Topalov-Vallejo – What the Dealio in this Classical Ruy Lopez?

This game from Dos Hermanas OTB (G/20), 2008, (not the ICC cyber-blitz tourney), is interesting. I had never heard of the “Benelux” (Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg) variation before. It features the age-old question of when is h6 and g5 chasing away a white bishop on g5 too weakening?

GM V. Topalov – GM P. Vallejo Ruy Lopez, Classical. Benelux Variation. G/20 + 10 sec increment. Dos Hermanas 2008.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. d4 Bb6 7. Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 d6 9. Qd3 Bd7 10. Nbd2 g5?! TN? This is a key moment. To …g5 or not to …g5?, i.e. wait for later? Vallejo plays this right away and it might be new? Salov played the less committal 10…a6!? and drew against Ehlvest after 10….a6 11. Bc4 Qe7 12. Rfe1 Kh8!? (very mysterious), and 1/2 in 82 moves, Ehlvest-Salov, Moscow 1988, USSR Ch.

Anand tried to improve against Leko: 10…a6 11. Bxc6!? Bxc6 12. Rfe1, but after 12…Bb5! black would have been fine. Leko eventually lost (Anand-Leko, Frankfurt 2000) but it had nothing to do with the opening. Here is a humorous sample line: 12…Bb5! 13. Qc2 exd4 14. Nxd4 Re8 15. Nxb5 axb5 16. Nf3 g5 17. Bg3 Nh5 18. Qd3 Nxg3 19. hxg3 Qd7 20. e5 g4 21. Nh4 Qe6! 22. exd6 Qxe1+ 23. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 24. Kh2 Bxf2 25. d7 Bg1+ and perpetual check!

There is also the interesting and logical 10…Re8. After 11. Rad1, black could have played 11…exd4!? TN with an unclear game. The surprising point is that 12. cxd4 a6! 13. Bc4 Bg4 creates counter-pressure on the center. If 14. Rfe1 Bh5! the game is very sharp. On the other hand, 13…g5? is ruinous: 14. Nxg5! hxg5 15. Bxg5 Bxd4 16. e5! Bxe5 17. Qg6! and wins. There was a game 10…Re8 11. Rad1 Qe7!? and after 12. Rfe1 black missed a good chance with 12…exd4!? 13. cxd4 g5! and here this move works. He played 12…Rad8?! and eventually lost in Morozevich-Zhurov, Moscow 1992.

11. Bxc6?! A “soft” move in Stohl’s parlance. More testing is 11. Bg3 g4 12. Nh4 exd4 (there’s no other way to justify black’s 10th except by being greedy) 13. cxd4 Nxd4 14. Bxd7 Nxd7 15. Nb3! Qf6 16. Nxd4 Bxd4 17. Nf5 Bb6 and white has good compensation. The text prepares an adventurous sacrifice.

11…Bxc6 12. Nxg5 After 12. Bg3 Re8 black is OK after 13. d5 Bd7 or even 13. d5 Bxd5 14. exd5 e4. Black also has the crazy looking 12. Bg3 Nxe4!!? 13. Nxe4 f5 with decent chances. The text should lead to a draw.

12…hxg5 13. Bxg5 Kg7 Forced.

14. a4 a5 14…a6 is less committal.

15. Nc4 Qc8! 15…Qd7 16. Bxf6+ Kxf6 17. d5! Bxa4 18. Nxb6 cxb6 19. f4! with a clear edge. With the text, black eyes g4 as a defensive square for the queen and gives his queen bishop more scope.

16. Nxb6 It looks like a Cochrane Gambit after 16. Bxf6+ Kxf6 17. f4. However, black is OK as long as he is careful. The right line is 17…cxd4 18. Nxb6 cxb6 19. e5+ (or 19. cxd4 d5! 20. e5+ Ke7 21. f5 Kd8! 22. Qg3 Qd7 with a nice light square blockade) 19…dxe5 20. fxe5+ Ke7 and black is fine.

16…cxb6 17. f4 Nxe4! Correct.

18. d5 Nc5??? A horrific blunder, tossing the game away. The draw was there for the taking with the simple 18…Bxd5! (quite obvious) 19. Qxd5 (forced) Qc5+ getting the queens off with a good game. For example, 20. Qxc5 bxc5 21. Bh4 f5! and black is happy.

19. Qg3! Winning. Black must have felt sick.

19…Ne4 20. Bf6+! Maybe black missed this move; it is a KO punch.

20...Kxf6 21. fxe5+ Ke7 22. Qh4+ f6 23. exf6+ Kd8 24. Qxe4 Bd7 25. Qe7+ Kc7 26. Rf4 Qe8 27. Re1 Qxe7 28. Rc4+ Kb8 29. Rxe7 Bf5 30. Rcc7? White could have saved a lot of time with the obvious 30. f7! keeping this important pawns – it wins immediately: 30…Bc2 (or 30…Ka7 31. g4, same thing) 31. g4 Ka7 32. g5 and wins. Black can’t defend against the avalanche.

30…Rxf6 31. Rxb7+ Kc8 32. Rec7+ Kd8 33. Rg7 Kc8? Another bad blunder. The outcome is in doubt after the more active defense, 33…Ke8. For example, 34. Rg8+ Rf8 35. Rxf8+? Kxf8 36. Rxb6 Ke7! and black has enough counterplay. Of course white should not trade a pair of rooks at this juncture.

34. Rxb6 Now white is completely winning again. The rest of the game has no surprises.

34…Bd7 35. c4 Kc7 36. Rc6+ Kd8 37. Rg8+ Be8 38. c5 Ke7 39. Rc7+ Kd8 40. Rh7 dxc5 41. d6 Rxd6 42. Rxe8+ Kxe8 43. Rh8+ Kd7 44. Rxa8 Rd1+ 45. Kf2 Rd2+ 46. Kf3 Rd3+ 47. Kf4 Rb3 48. Rxa5 Rxb2 49. Kf3 Kd6 50. Ra8 c4 51. Rc8 Kd5 52. h4 Ra2 53. h5 Rxa4 54. h6 Ra7 55. g4 Ke5 56. g5 Kf5 57. Rc5+ Kg6 58. Kg4 Ra1 58…Ra6 59. Rc7 forces mate.

59. Rc6+ Kh7 60. Rc7+ Kg8 61. Kh5 c3 62. Rxc3 Ra6 {White wins} 1-0

Another Dos Hermanas Game

A perplexing Modern Benoni in an old favorite of mine (7. Bf4, 8. Qa4+) in the 1980s.   It turns out the player with the black pieces is named ‘Vugar’ not ‘Vulgar’ as I originally thought.

GM Ernesto Inarkiev – GM Vulgar Gashimov (Vulgar is a great name!)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 d6 5. Nc3 exd5 6. cxd5 g6 7. Bf4 Bg7?! It is more careful to play 7….a6 8. a4 Bg7 as has occurred in dozens of games.   The text is an important inaccuracy.

8. Qa4+! This is the point of the set-up. Black has fallen into a disguised positional trap!

8…Bd7 Former Candidate GM Borislav Ivkov destroyed D. Sahovic after 8…Kf8? 9. e4 Nh5 10. Be3, white won in 35 moves, Zemun 1980. The move 8…Nbd7? is simply unsound and Joel Benjamin beat GM Y. Kraidman with 9. Bxd6 Qb6 10. Nb5! and white is already completely winning, 1-0, 24 moves, Jerusalem 1986.

9. Qb3 Qc7 10. e4 O-O 11. Nd2 Uhlmann and Petrosian have been successful with 11. Be2. However, Ljuobjevic managed to trick Timman in Amsterdam 1972 and win as black with 11. Be2 Nh5 12. Be3 Bg4 13. h3 Bxf3 14. Bxf3 Nd7!? 15. Bxh5 gxh5 16. O-O Rae8 with murky play, 0-1, 37 moves.

11…Nh5 12. Be3 f5 “Active” but very weakening.

13. exf5 gxf5 Dearly departed GM Lembit Oll beat David Norwood in Groningen 1988 after 13…Bxf5 14. Be2 Nf6 15. h3 Na6 16. a3! playing consistently to restrict black’s knights and white retains a small plus.

14. Be2 Be8 The mainline of the 11. Nd2 variation, but doesn’t this move look artificial? At any rate, the main alternative, 14…f4?, is dealt with harshly after 15. Bxc5! Qxc5 16. Bxh5! and white is hugely better, or 15…f3? 16. Bxf3 Rxf3 (just unsound) 17. gxf3 Qxc5 18. Qxb7 and white won easily, Korchnoi-Nunn, London 1984. Lastly, 15. Bxc5 Na6 16. Ba3! and white consolidated and won in Malaniuk-Norwood, Lvov 1986. The tactics just don’t work for black after 14…f4.

15. O-O!? Very rare. White has an edge and indeed has scored heavily with 15. Nf3!, for example he gave up material for a big attack after 15…f4 16. Bd2 Qe7 17. O-O! Bxc3 18. Bxc3 Qxe2 19. Qxb7 Qa6 20. Qe7! Bg6 21. Rfe1 with a crushing edge; white won in 26 moves, Lputian-San Segundo, Chicago 1983. In this line, he even triumphed with the craven 20. Qxa8 Bd7 21. Rfe1 Nc6 22. Qxf8 Kxf8 23. dxc6 with a big edge, Spraggett-Norwood, Toronto 1985, 1-0, 35 moves. As we can see from this note and the prior note, David Norwood was busy exploring many avenues of this bad variation!

15…a6 16. Qd1 Nf6 17. Nf3! White was unsuccessful with 17. a4 Nbd7 18. Nc4 Nb6 19. Na3?! Ne4 and black won in 47 moves, K. Burger – J. Nun, Brighton 1983. But the departed American (Brooklyn, actually) International Master Dr. Karl Burger had the right instincts in steering for this position! All he needed to do was play Inarkiev’s strong move, aiming for g5, and this looks great for white!

17…b5 18. Ng5! White has a huge edge.  The simple 18. a3!, with similar ideas, also gives a big edge.

18…Bf7 19. Bd3 Qc8 20. Qf3 Bg6 21. Ne6 The move 21. Bf4 is also strong (it occurred in the game one move later).  21…Nbd7 22. Bf4 b4 23. Nd1?! 23. Na4 wins easily.  The pawn on d6 is hanging so black has no time to move the rook.  Black can’t defend: the simple trick 23. Na4 Qb8 24. Naxc5! spells finis.  This was white’s best chance to put Vulgar   Vugar away in short order.

23...Ne5 24. Bxe5 dxe5 25. Bc4?! 25. Nxf8! 25…Ne4 26. Qe2?! 26. Nxf8! 26…Re8 27. Rc1 Nd6 28. Bb3 f4 29. Rxc5 Qb8 30. Rc6 Ra7 31. Re1 a5 32. Ba4?! 32. Bc2 wins.

32…Ree7 33. Qd2?? Both 33. Nxg7 and 33. Qg4 are very strong.

33…Be8! Black is OK now.

34. Nc5 Kh8 35. b3 Nf5 36. Nb2 Nd4 37. Nc4 Bxc6 38. dxc6 Qc7 39. Ne4 Nxc6 40. Qd5 Nd4 41. Ned6 Ra6 42. h3 h6 43. Kh1 Re6 44. Ne8 Qe7 45. Bd7 Qh4! Holding the balance.

46. Nxe5 Qxf2 47. Nf7+ Kh7 48. Rxe6 Rxe6 49. Bxe6 Qe1+ 50. Kh2 Qg3+ 51. Kh1 Qe1+ 52. Kh2 Qg3+ Acquiescing to the repetition. Black can take on e6 with the queen, but that is equal anyway.  Poor Inarkiev.  Did you know his first name Ernesto is taken from the famous revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara?  Well, it’s true.


Appendix: A Gruenfeld Blitz Chestnut Played 4/24/08

Aries2 – ChessMedic ICC G/5 English/Gruenfeld Bf4

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Qb3 Nb6 I had an exceptionally pleasant memory of 5…c6?! 6. e4 Nb6 7. h4!? – MG – Lonoff, Midwest Masters 1987, 1-0 45 moves. In that game, I established a pawn phalanx at the cost of a piece.

6. d4 Bg7 7. Bf4!? An interesting anti-Gruenfeld treatment made possible by this move order. I have had good experiences with this (example vs Pieta Garrett, Az St Champ 2004), and also some reverses from good positions, for example vs GM V. Mikhalevski, Las Vegas, 2005. I will post the latter game when I find it.

7…Be6 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. Rd1 Nd5?!
9…O-O looks better.

10. Nxd5 Qxd5 11. e4 Qxa2 12. d5 Nb4 13. Qxc7 Now the game is completely crazy. Objectively white is doing well.

13…O-O 14. dxe6 Rac8 15. Qxb7 Nc2+ Somehow in the game I barely get my King to safety then proceed to attack. A typical confusing blitz game.

16. Kd2 Rfd8+ 17. Bd3 Bxb2 If 17…Qxe6, 18. Ke2 wins.

18. exf7+ Kxf7 Of course not 18…Qxf7 19. Qxb2.

19. Ng5+ Kg8 20. Qxe7?? Correct is 20. Ke2 h6 21. Nf3 and wins easily. Now black has his moment in the sun.

20…Bc3+?? A reciprocal blunder. Black wins with the brutal 20…Rxd3+!! 21. Kxd3 Ne1+!!. This is forced mate after 22. Rhxe1 Rc3+ 23. Ke2 (23. Kd2 Ba1#! discovered checkmate, an unusually nice mate!) 23…Qc4+ 24. Kd2 Qd3 mate. Another sadistic mate is 23. Kd4 Qc4+ 24. Ke5 Rd3# discovered checkmate.

If white does not capture the far-flung knight and instead plays 22. Ke2, then black simply picks up the white queen with 22…Ba3+ and Bxe7 next, winning.

If 21. Ke2 declining, that doesn’t help: 21…Nd4+ 22. Kxd3 Qb3+ 23. Kd2 Qc3 is mate. The text move hands the game back to white.

21. Ke2 Ne3+ 22. Kf3 No reason not to play the cold-blooded 22. Kxe3! Bd4+ 23. Kf3 and the king has an escape hatch; that wins too and more easily.

22…Nxd1 23. Qxh7+ Kf8 24. Rxd1 Qb3 25. Bc2! Deflection; of course if 25…Qxc2 26. Qf7 mate.

25…Qc4 26. Bd6+ Nicer is the obstruction shot 26. Rd5! and mates.

26…Ke8 27. Qe7# {Black checkmated} 1-0

The Classic 80s Part 9: Albany NY St Ch 1989

August 9, 2007

The NY State Championship in 1989 featured Kamran Shirazi, Larry Christiansen, and other notables. Here is a sample game.

Mark Ginsburg vs NM Alexander Sidelnikov
Albany NY St Ch, 1989

King’s Indian, Saemish Bg5

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. f3 O-O 6. Bg5!?

This line is quite dangerous. White aims for a space advantage.

6…Nbd7?! 7. Nh3! Seizing upon the fact the B on c8 is temporarily blocked.

7…e5 8. d5 h6 9. Be3 Ne8 10. g4 f5


11. Nf2!

The knight is really well placed here.

11…f4 A bit of a concession; black does not have very good counterplay now.

12. Bd2 Bf6 13. Qc2 Bh4 14. Be2 Ndf6 15. Rf1 c5 16. dxc6 bxc6 17. c5! A thematic disrupting move; black’s pawn chain falls to ruins.  The normally desirable response 17…d5? fails to 18. exd5 and the pawn on g6 unfortunately hangs.


17… Be6 18. O-O-O Bxf2?! With the disappearance of this important piece black has a very gloomy outlook but of course it was bad anyway.

19. Rxf2 Nh7 20. Na4 Qc7 21. Bc3 Rd8 22. Rff1 Rf7 23. cxd6 Rxd6 24. Rxd6 Qxd6 25. Rd1 Qc7 26. Nc5 Nf8 27. b3 Re7 28. h4 Bc8 29. Bc4+ Kh7 30. Qd2 Kg7 White has played cat and mouse for a while, and now it’s time to cash in.


31. Qxf4! Sometimes simple motifs like this (pin motif) are enough to win a technical game.

31…Nf6 32. Qd2 N6d7 33. Nd3 Kh7 34. Qe3 Qb6 35. Bd2 Qxe3 36. Bxe3 a5 37. Bd2 a4 38. bxa4 Nb6 39. Bb3 c5 40. a5 c4 41. axb6 cxb3 42. Bb4 bxa2 43. Kb2 Re8 44. Bxf8 Rxf8 45. Nc5 1-0


A nice, rather holistic game. This is the kind of enounter 6. Bg5!? advocates enjoy – when the black pawn break …f7-f5 doesn’t mean much.

The Fabulous 70s Part 7: The US Junior Invitational 1978

June 28, 2007

This is the high point in any American junior’s career – the prestigious closed tournament. In 1978 it was in Memphis, TN, hosted by the Little family. There was a distinct undercurrent of East-West hostility that boiled over at the end! Details in another installment.

Here are the players. Hair and clothing styles were certainly …. interesting back then. Click on the image to enlarge it.


How many of them can you name? Quite a few well-known players in this ludicrous tableau. For example, you have two brothers (Paul and Jay Whitehead), can you spot them? GM-to-be Fedorowicz, can’t miss his smiling face. And Yasser Seirawan, dapper as always and Mike Rohde with a very nice outfit.
Coming soon: I will post some classic games from this event.