Posts Tagged ‘Akobian’

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

May 15, 2010

Round 2 Jitters

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

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

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

Check it out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25…Bc8 26. Re3 26. Nd3!

26…Rae7 27. Rae1 Bb7 27…Nd7!

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

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

30….Nxd5! 31. Ng4 Nxe3???

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

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

32. Nh6+ 1-0

Deathly Hex Hat - must burn it

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

One More Game from Round 2

Further chaos on a higher board…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s See One More

Moving back to a lower board, more jitters!

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

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

[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D89”]

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

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

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

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

A Missed Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

OK One More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fabulous 00s: Sadness and Despair at the 2010 World Team

January 8, 2010

Tough Times in Turkey: USA Gaffes vs Russia

The 2010 World Teams are in full swing in Bursa, Turkey.

The USA came out of the gate very lame versus Russia and was severely trounced as two of our players uncharacteristically didn’t know the opening phase.

[White “Malakhov, V.”]
[Black “Shulman, Y.”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C05”]
[WhiteElo “2716”]
[BlackElo “2624”]
[EventDate “2010.01.05”]
[EventType “team ()”]
[EventRounds “9”]
[EventCountry “TUR”]
[Source “Chess Today”]
[SourceDate “2010.01.08”]

Vladimir Malakhov is a rather conventional player and is best at opponents who commit senseless hara-kiri in well-known structures.  He is not very good in original strategic situations, as Mamedyarov has proved in the past.  Unfortunately, this important USA-Russia game belongs to the former category.
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Ngf3 Nc6 7. Nb3

A bizarre move, wasting several tempi to close off the queenside.

7. Nb3 - This?!

7…c4 A livelier game results from 7…f6 with equal chances.

8. Nbd2 b5 9. Be2 Nb6 10. Nf1 Bd7 Nothing is wrong with the simple 10..Be7 and 11…O-O.  What is black attacking?

11. Ne3 Be7 12. O-O Qc7 12…O-O is fine for black.

13. Bd2 a5 13…O-O is fine for black. 14. g4? f6! and black has a small edge.

14. Be1 O-O-O?

A huge lemon and very surprising from veteran GM Shulman.

After any move not committing black’s king to the queenside, black is fine.  For example,
14… b4 15. c3 O-O 16. g4 f6 and black is all right.

No... not king to the queenside!

15. b3 a4 16. Rb1 Qa7 17. bxc4 bxc4 18. Bf2 Even the simple 18. c3 already gives white a huge and fairly automatic plus.

18… Na5 19. f5 g6 20. f6 Ba3 21. Ng5 Be8 22. Bg4 Nc6 23. Nxe6! Child’s play for any grandmaster.  Black could already resign. A total debacle, doubly so in a team event.

fxe6 24. Bxe6+ Rd7 25. Nxd5 Nxd5 26. Qf3 Nd8 27. Bxd5 Qa6 28. e6?! To show best this situation, 28. Bxc4! Qxc4 29. Qa8+ Kc7 30. Rb8 instantly won.

28… Rxd5 29. Qxd5 Nxe6 30. Bg3 Nc7 31. Bxc7 Former WC Mikhail Tal would not have missed 31. Rb8+!! Kxb8 32. Qd8+ Ka7 33. Qxc7+ Qb7 34. Qa5+ Qa6 35. Bb8+ and wins very elegantly.

31… Kxc7 32. f7 Bd7 33. Qe5+ 1-0 Depressing.  Even more depressing was the next game where an American player gets a hopeless ending right away…. with the white pieces!

[Event “7th World Team Championship”]
[Site “Bursa TUR”]
[Date “2010.01.07”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Akobian, V.”]
[Black “Vitiugov, N.”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D10”]

[WhiteElo “2628”]
[BlackElo “2692”]
[PlyCount “146”]
[EventDate “2010.01.05”]
[EventRounds “9”]

[EventCountry “TUR”]
[Source “Chess Today”]

Young grandmaster Akobian is a young player’s favorite ever since he did an MTV video where he proclaimed washing socks and cooking food is a waste of time (his mother was in the background picking up socks).  Classic.  How many players will emulate these words?  I remember one famous junior who was described as, “if he can make toast or boil an egg, it’s a miracle.” However, in this game, something goes horribly wrong right away for the anti-laundry kid.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. e4?! The safe choice is 4. e3! b5 5. a4 b4 6. Na2 Nf6 7. Nxb4  equal, or 7. Bxc4 e6 8. Nf3 Nbd7 equal.  Former WC Karpov had no equal playing safe when surprised.  Akobian should pick up some clues from Karpov.

4…. b5 5. a4 b4 6. Nb1 Black is happy after 6. Na2 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Bxc4 a5 9. Nf3
g6 10. O-O Bg7.

6… Ba6 7. Qc2 White could have tried 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. e5 Nd5 to try to get out of the opening.

7… Nf6

Setting white a rather elementary tactical problem.

White to play and lose dismally

8. Bxc4? An incredible lemon.  Was white “faking” knowing this stuff? 8. Nd2! is a good try to save it.  For example, if 8…Qxd4 9. Ngf3 Qc5 10. Nxc4 e6 11. Be3 b3 12. Qxb3 Qb4+ 13. Qxb4 Bxb4+ and white will reach a half point.   Maybe if he picked up some socks in a pre-game warm-up or cooked the team a meal he would have been sharper in this encounter.

8…Bxc4 9. Qxc4 Nxe4 10. Qxb4? Ugh!  He had to try 10. f3 Nd6 11. Qxb4 a5 12. Qb3 Nf5 13. Ne2!  hoping for 13…Nxd4; black has 13…g6! =+.

10… e5 So simple.

11. Qb7 Did this absurd queen raid really appear on the board in this important team event?  It appears so, sadly.


Oopsie.  Black can just take this. Vitiugov must not have been able to believe his eyes.  This childish trap…. winning for black… is on the board!

12. Qc8+ 12. Qxa8 Bb4+ wins easily for black.

Qd8 13. Qxd8+ Kxd8 14. Nd2 Bb4 15. Ngf3 Nd7 16. Ke2 Nd6 17. Nb3 Ke7 18. Bd2 Rab8 19. Rhc1 Rhc8 20. Rc2 c5 21. Be3 c4 22. Nbd2 Bc5 23. Rac1 Bxe3 24. fxe3 f6 25. Nxc4 Nxc4 26. Rxc4 Rxb2+ 27. Nd2 Rxc4 28. Rxc4 Ra2 29. Kd3 This blunder doesn’t matter; white was lost anyway.

29..Rxa4 30. Rc7 Kd8 31. Rc3 e4+ 32. Ke2 Nb6 33. g4 Kd7 34. h4 Kd6 35. Rb3 g6 36. Rb5 Kc6 37. Rb1 Nd5 38. Rc1+ Kd6 39. Rc8 f5 40. gxf5 gxf5 41. Nc4+ Kd7 42. Rc5 Ra2+ 43. Ke1 Ne7 44. h5 Ke6 45. Rc7 Rc2 46. Kd1 Rc3 47. Kd2 Kf6 48. h6 Nd5 49. Rc5 Rd3+ 50. Ke2 f4 51. exf4 Nxf4+ 52. Kf2 Rf3+ 53. Kg1 e3 54. Rc6+ Kg5 55. Nxe3 Why did white not resign here?  This was the biggest mystery of the game.  Incredibly depressing game from a team standpoint.  Kibitizers were calling for Hess to come in off the bench (Hess, in fact, did come in the next round and convincingly win).

55…Rxe3 56. Rc7 Kxh6 57. Rxa7 Re2 58. Rf7 Nh5 59. Kh1 Kg6 60. Rf3 Ra2 61. Kg1 Nf6 62. Rg3+ Kf5 63. Rf3+ Kg5 64. Rg3+ Ng4 65. Rb3 Kf4 66. Rb5 Kf3 67. Rb3+ Ne3 68. Kh1 h5 69. Kg1 Re2 70. Kh1 Kg3 71. Rb1 Nc2 72. Rg1+ Kh3 73. Rg2 Apparently white did not resign in order to set up this deep stalemate trick.

73…Re1+ Vitiugov is too crafty to take the rook on g2.


And This Game Just in…

From today’s action, America’s young hopeful Robson luckily avoids a very aesthetic defeat!

[White “IM_Abdelnabbi”]
[Black “IM_Robson”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteElo “2448”]
[BlackElo “2570”]
[Opening “Sicilian: modern Scheveningen”]
[ECO “B45”]
[NIC “SI.22”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 d6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. Be3 a6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Kh1 O-O 10. f4 Qc7 11. Qe1 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. e5 Nd7?

A terrible lapse from a 2570-rated player.  13…dxe5 = is necessary.

14. exd6! The problem is e4 is now cleared for white’s pieces with gain of tempo.

Bxd6 15. Bd3? Why not the obvious 15. Qg3 with an edge.

15…g6? Another lemon.   I think the kid may have been nervous in this team tournament. 15…Bb7! =

16. Qh4?! 16. Ne4! is indicated with an edge.

16…Bc5 17. f5 exf5 18. Nd5 Qd6? A really bad blunder.  18…Qd8 was equal.

19. Rxf5 Bxd4 20. Qxd4 gxf5 21. Re1 Now white is winning!  Oh no!

21…Ne5 What else?

22. Rxe5 Rd8 23. Qh4?? An incredible final blunder in this blunder-filled game.  23. Bxf5! wins.  Do you think white was happy drawing his higher rated opponent and went for this perpetual?

23. Bxf5!!  Bxf5 24. Rxf5 Qh6 (threatening mate) 25. h3!! wins.  For example, 25…Rd6 26. Rf3!  Or, 23. Bxf5!!  h6 and I will let the readers find the win, it’s very nice indeed.

White to play and win (analysis)

The game concluded dismally for white:

23…Qxe5 24. Qxd8+ Kg7 25. Qg5+ {Game drawn} 1/2-1/2

Props to Chess Today

Thanks to GM Baburin’s Chess Today newsletter for providing timely reports!

The Fabulous 00s: North American Open 2008

January 21, 2009

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

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

Sicilian Defense, 3. c3 4. Bc4 irregular

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


Position after 4. Bc4!?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Position after 17. f4 – Final Position


Mark Diesen Memorial Articles Available!

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

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

Facebook Rules

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

Where else can you:

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

b) learn that Ben Finegold is a fan of Hypnotoad

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

d) gawk at pictures of Dave Vigorito and his fiancee

And for something different

The Streatham & Brixton Chess Club website has this pearl:

“Two could play at that

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

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

Two could play at that.

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


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

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

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

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

I, at least, am not making this up.”

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

Blast from the Past

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


Jorge was strong back in 1990, too

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

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