Posts Tagged ‘Charbonneau’

The Fabulous 00s: Death of the Main-Line Ulvestad

December 31, 2009

Ulvestad – What is This?!

Some analysis of recent Friedel games caused me to double-check analysis of what looks to me to be a highly dubious opening: the Ulvestad!

In particular, Michael Goeller’s notes to MacKinnon – Friedel Edmonton 2009.

Here is what I consider the bust of the “Main Line” Ulvestad.  Goeller pointed me to some analysis from a book by “Pinski” but I think white can overcome it, as follows:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 3…Bc5 according to Karpov. There is something to be said for posting the bishop on the c5-f2 diagonal!

4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 b5 Putting a dangling pawn out on b5 is cute, 1800’s Romanticism and all that, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

6. Bf1 Nd4 The cold-shower computer hates, and I think quite rightly, the move 6…h6?! as in Zierk-Friedel, Las Vegas 2009, but we’ll consider that bust separately. There now follows a series of moves that results in black’s king going to d8.  Technicians are laughing.

7. c3 Nxd5 8. cxd4 Qxg5 9. Bxb5+ Kd8

K on d8, what the heck is this??

I am not a big “two knights guy” but the king on d8 makes for a very unhealthy impression.  If white can castle (and he can), then it should be lights out.  If I was guaranteed before the game black would wheel out this [insert perjorative], I would become a huge fan of 3. Bc4 – but there is the answer 3…Bc5!

10. Qf3 Bb7 11. O-O Rb8

The best try but black is hanging together by the proverbial thread. In a fast time limit USCL game, black (who didn’t have doughnuts, coffee, and/or both) played the immediately losing 11… e4? and white was most happy to reply 12. Qh3! winning.  That nasty reply threatens mate on d7. 12…Bc8  (this forced undevelopment is taking the already ridiculous Ulvestad to new lows) 13. d3! Qf6 (13… Nf4 14. Bxf4 Qxf4 15. Qe3 wins) 14. Qh5 Qxd4 15. dxe4 and white won quickly, Charbonneau – Schneider, USCL 2009.  To illustrate what a complete short-circuit 11…e4? was, the simple 12. Qxe4 also wins (and is the materialistic computer’s preferred choice) as black has no follow-up.

12. dxe5! Friedel escaped this crummy situation and even won after 12. d3? Qg6! in the MacKinnon game referenced at the start of this article. As Goeller points out, 12. d3? is “a known error since at least Leonhardt – Englund, Stockholm 1908.”

12…Ne3 The plausible 12…Nb4 13. d4! wins for white. The nasty point is 13…Qxc1 14. Qxf7! blammo.

13. Qh3! Threatening mate on d7 and forcing black’s reply. Already I think white is completely winning.  Take that, Ulvestad fans.

White wins. Oh, the Soviet boredom.

The matter is now up to plain old Soviet-style technique.  And it’s not difficult.  Black is now in the iron grip of a Smyslov or a Botvinnik or a Petrosian.

13…Qxg2+ 14. Qxg2 Nxg2

An elementary blunder is 14..Bxg2? 15. fxe3 and wins since B/b5 guards f1.

15. d4 Nh4 Alternatives are no better.  For example, 15… Be7 16. Be2 Nh4 17. Rd1 Nf3+ 18. Bxf3 Bxf3 19. Rd3 Be4 20. Rg3 and white should gather the point.

Note: I draw readers’ attention to a comment I just received:

“A possible improvement for Black could be 15…f6 as played in Chemeris(2265)-Petkov(2484) in 2008, where Black obtained some nice play after 16.Nc3, Nh4: 17.Be2, Nf3+; 18.Bxf3, Bxf3: 19.Re1, Rb4: 20. Re3, Bb7: 21. Ne2, fxe5: 22.dxe5, Bc5 with clear compensation.”

However,  15…f6 16. Be2! followed by f2-f4 wins easily for white.  Once f3 is under control, black’s compensation disappears and it’s smooth sailing for white.

16. Bg5+ Be7 17. Bxh4 Bxh4 18. Nc3 Bf3 19. Rab1! Goeller told me that Pinski gives 19. b3 here, following up for black with a similar …Rg6+ sac idea.  In any event, it looks like this position is a simple win for white – the Rg6+ idea does not work. Here is why:

19…Rb6 20. Bd3 Rg6+(?) Not good at all, but what else? – I consider this move only to bust Pinski; other moves that don’t lose material are stronger but white is left with a big plus and should convert.

21. Bxg6 hxg6 22. Rfe1! A simple defense, preparing Ne4.  I think black is totally lost.

White wins

22…Bg5 22… Rh5 23. Ne4! just wins.  23… Rf5 24. Ng3 Rf4 25. Re3 and wins.

23. Rbd1!! The star defensive concept which any technician would find immediately.  The timely return of some material is always the receipe to break a premature “attack”.  Worse still for black, the Pinski  …Rg6 “adventure” just resulted in mass simplification making white’s ending task easier.

23…Bf4 Depressing for black is 23… Bxd1 24. Rxd1 Bf4 25. Ne2! and wins.

24. Rd3!  Bxh2+ 25. Kf1 Bb7 26. Ne2 and wins!  Note how Nc3-e2 is so strong defensively in these lines.

Conclusion: the main line Ulvestad is hopelessly unsound.

Readers, any improvements?   I think we should go back to Karpov’s 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5! 🙂


GM Yozhik – IM Aries2   Ruy Lopez Cozio Madness

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nge7 4. Nc3 Ng6 5. h4 Nf4 6. d4 exd4 7. Nd5 Ne6


8. Ng5 h6 9. Qh5 Wow! This surprising move actually forces a draw in a bizarre way.

9…g6 10. Qf3 hxg5 11. Nf6+ Ke7 12. Nd5+ Ke8 13. Nf6+ Ke7 14. Nd5+ Ke8 15. Nf6+ Ke7 {Game drawn by repetition} 1/2-1/2

After the game I was in for another shocker: white told me he planned to continue with b2-b3!

Absolutely classic! When have you seen Ng8-e7-g6-f4-e6 before in the opening? 

An Indecent Proposal from China

I think the term “supper league” was the first signal all was not well in this email I received recently.

The CHONGQING LIFAN FOOTBALL CLUB intends to invite experienced coaches/players/expatriate capable of rendering expertise services the chinese national team and there clubs in the chinese supper league divison.their enthusiasm fed by huge media coverage.

To coach and provide leadership instruction to the chinese national team.
*Development of team strategies; analyze performance of football team and adjust strategies as needed.
*Coordinate team travel arrangements.
*Scouting and recruiting more players into the national team.
*Coordinate coaches clinic; supervise dress code for staff and team members.

Education and Experience:
Bachelor’s degree in relevant field,
SALARY: US$29,000.00, Monthly, can be transferred to any Bank or Country of your choice and all transfers must be made in conformity with the existing tax situation in China.
CONTRACT DURATION: 48 months (Liable for upward review depending on your commitment and expertise)
The Management hereby inform that you are to INCUR all expenses associated with the processing of your relevant papers for commencement of work.
The chinese football association will disburse Six (6) months Upfront salaries and relocation expenses on confirmation of your required documentation (including immigration papers) from the relevant authorities here in China

We hereby inform that if this Offer is acceptable to you, you are requested to send us an acceptance letter with your passport photograph via email, and your C.V/RESUME to enable us proceed with relevant processing.
We await your response in this regard.
Mr Cho Ti

Captain Christopher Pike before he was Pike


And in News from Denmark

Le roi est mort. Vive le roi.

The Fabulous 00s: 2009 USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week

November 1, 2009

USCL Week 9 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

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

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

Fugly Caro  Advance

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



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

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

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


Knight Jump! Do it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Other Week 9 News

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

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

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

Concluding Remarks

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


What if the World Had No Internet?

Amusing Postscript 11/10/09

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

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

The Fabulous 00s: Week 2 USCL Opening of the Week (OOTW)

September 12, 2009


In a GM matchup from round 2, we have Pascal Charbonneau (NY) tangling with GM Gregory Serper (SEA) in my favorite variation, the Sicilian Kan.  Surprisingly, Serper goes wrong early and Charbonneau won convincingly.  This sharp Sicilian Kan is this week’s Opening of the Week (OOTW) and we can learn a lot about move orders, nuances, and getting past the opening for black!

The raw game score:

Charbonneau (NY)-Serper (SEA)   Sicilian Kan

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 d6 7.c4 Be7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Qe2 Re8?! 10.Kh1 b6 11.f4 Bb7 12.Bd2
This rather primitive set-up is the favorite set-up across all rating ranges when I play ICC blitz. Therefore, black should be ready for it.

12…Qc7? Oops!  An unfortunate choice that sends black down the drain.

Just to show that the Kan poses problems in quick play, here is a quick digression M. Ginsburg – D. Gurevich, G/30 Champs., Milwaukee, WI, 2002.
1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Bd3 e6 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 a6 10. b3 Be7 11. Bb2 O-O 12. Rad1 Re8 13. f4 Bf8? 14. e5!

Oops! Black has forgotten about this possibility in a turn of events eerily similar to the current game we are analyzing.

14…dxe5 15. fxe5 Bc5 16. Na4!

White is winning.
16… Nxe5 17. Qxe5 Bd6 18. Qe2 Qc7 19. Rxf6 Bxh2+ 20. Kh1 Qg3 21. Rxf7!  The easiest. 21… Kxf7 22. Qh5+ Ke7 23. Qxh2 Qxh2+ 24. Kxh2 1-0 Dmitry didn’t have a chance after his miscue on move 13.

In another digression, just to show the Kan can create the pre-conditions for an upset, here is the great GM Dzindzihashvili taking too many chances and fumbling the ball against a young, inexperienced player in Chicago 1979.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 g6?! 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Bg5 Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 11. f4 Qc7 12. f5 gxf5 13. exf5 e5 14. Ne6! fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! Bb7 17. exf8=Q+ and white went on to win, M. Ginsburg – R. Dzindzihashvili, Chicago Masters/Experts 1979.

A final digression showing the dangers, with apologies to Viktor Korchnoi who clearly wasn’t fully awake that day,

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Ba7 7. c4 Nc6 8. O-O Qh4? 9. N1d2 Nge7 10. c5!  Yuck! 10…Ne5 11. Be2 b6 12. f4 N5c6 13. Nc4 bxc5 14. g3 Qh6 15. f5 Qf6 16. fxe6 Qxe6 17. Nd6+ Kf8 18. Bc4 1-0 Calvo-Korchnoi, Havana Olympiad 1966.

But fear not, Kan supporters.  This cagey opening can, and should, live!
Returning to Charbonneau-Serper, white strikes with the obvious but pleasing

13.e5! Nfd7 14.f5! … and White is completely winning already.  A very depressing opening tableau for black.

14…Nxe5 15.fxe6 Bf6 16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.cxd5 Nxd3 18.Qxd3 fxe6 19.Nxe6 Qf7 20.Qg3 Ra7 21.Bc3 Nd7 22.Qxd6 Qe7 23.Qg3 Bxc3 24.bxc3 Nc5 25.Rae1 Nxe6 26.Rxe6 Qd8 27.Qe3 Rae7 28.Qxb6 Qxb6 29.Rxb6 Rc7 30.d6 Rf7 31.Kg1 a5 32.c4 Rxf1+ 33.Kxf1 Kf7 34.c5 Ke6 35.Rb7 Kd5 36.Rc7 Black resigns 1-0

So what happened?  Serper didn’t react properly to Charbonneau’s common club-player plan of Bd2 and e5 (often with Rae1 thrown in).  The trick is that Bd2 tangles white’s minor pieces up on the d-file and black has to be ready to find tactical chances to exploit that tangle.

Let’s explore this a little bit more.   First, we take as already on the board black’s 9th move which looks a little fancy (delaying queenside development), but is OK.  White has just played 12. Bc1-d2 with obvious intentions.

Position after White's 12th move in Charbonneau-Serper

Position after White's 12th move in Charbonneau-Serper

Here, as we know, Serper played 12…Qc7? which loses for tactical reasons.

To exploit the tangle on the d-file after e4-e5, there are two black methods – placing a rook on d8 (after Qc7), or using the queen herself from d8.  Black can’t do the first method here, since he’s already played the slow 9…Re8.  So he needs to let the queen sit on d8 a little while longer to hold up e5.  After looking at this second method, we’ll return to the game a bit earlier and indicate how black can use the first method with a more crafty move order.

Let’s see it. 12…Nbd7! The first point is after the natural build-up 13. Rae1, black has the surprising 13…Nf8! and white’s e5 is definitely not playable. So white has to resort to slow methods and black has time to mobilize his whole army – the dream of the Hedgehog player who seeks to punch later in the middlegame.   But what about the immediate 13. e5!? which certainly looks dangerous? This is critical, but black can hold.

12…Nbd7! 13. e5!?  dxe5 14. fxe5 Nc5! There is no time for half-measures.  This is a solid defense.  Interestingly, there is another sharp defense here, 14…Bc5!? — after the plausible 14…Bc5!? 15. exf6?! Bxd4 16. fxg7 f5! black is all right.  However, after the accurate 15. Nf3! black has problems.

15. exf6 Bxf6 16. Rxf6! I think it’s very plausible to think that aggressive Charbonneau would steer for this apparently devastating attack.   Besides, on any other white move, black simply regains the piece with a very good game.  However, black has resources here.

Which way to take back?

Which way to take back?

Position after 16. Rxf6! – Analysis

The key for black is psychological – don’t lose your head when it appears your king is getting ripped apart!  Objectively black is all right.  The correct recapture is 16…Qxf6!.  No points for 16…gxf6? 17. Qg4+ Kh8 18. Bxh7!! and the king IS getting ripped apart; white wins elegantly after 18…Kxh7 19. Rf1!! f5 20. Nxf5! – what a pleasure it is for white to play all these moves! – and black has no defense.

So we have on the analysis board 16…Qxf6!

After this, black can look forward to what former WC Boris Spassky valued most highly; piece activity.  His coordinated activity saves him after, for example, 17. Nf3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 Rac8 or 17. Nb3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 e5!.  In many variations, this mobile e-pawn generates plenty of play.  Overall, chances are balanced in this sharp fight of two minors against the rook.

Let’s see a nice sample variation on the analysis board.

16…Qxf6! 17. Nf3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 Rac8 19. Rf1 Qf5! – a very pretty defensive resource.

Nice defense!

Nice defense!

After 20. Qe2 Qc2! black is hassling white big-time, and after 20. Qxf5 exf5 21. b3 Rcd8 you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to observe all black’s pieces are running on all cylinders with level chances.

Conclusion:  Serper’s slow 9…Re8 is indeed playable but he needed to be alert after white’s 12th and find this narrow road.

Let’s go back and try to set up black’s other method to deal with e4-e5, by placing a rook on d8.  How to arrange this before white blows up the center?   Here’s how to do it for all you Kan explorers in the audience:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 d6 7.c4 Be7 8.Nc3 b6 (no castles just yet) 9. f4 Bb7 10. Bd2 Nbd7 11. Qe2 Qc7 12. Rae1 and we reach a key moment.

Black has to be careful

Black has to be careful

As any good beginner’s book will tell you, be extra-careful when your king is not yet castled.  Thus the principle idea of Ra8-d8, while good strategically here, is bad tactically.  12…Rad8? 13. Nd5! (the punishment) 13…exd5 14. exd5 Nc5 15. Bc2! and white is totally winning.  Black wants to play Rd8, to hold up the e5 advance, but has to get the move order right.  Thus correct here is the apparently dangerous 12…O-O! first.  Let’s see it.  The testing line to calculate, of course, is the e4-e5 push.  With white’s king on g1, and not yet on h1, black has additional tactical possibilities.  And this, in fact, is what justifies 12…O-O!.

12…O-O! 13. e5?! dxe5 14. fxe5 Bc5! Threatening d4 WITH CHECK  and this is the saving nuance. 15. Rf4 What else? No going back now. White is already hoisted by his own petard.

15…Nxe5! A common tactical trick when there’s a d-file tangle.  Kan players must always keep this trick in mind. 16. Qxe5 Qxe5 17. Rxe5 Rad8! and white is caught in a set of lethal pins, since 18. Rxc5 bxc5 does not help!  Seattle wins the game and the match!

Going back, 12…O-O 13. Kh1 allows black to realize his principle idea with 13…Rad8! and the game is level!

Conclusion:  black can achieve the R to d8 “method” to hold up e4-e5 in this white setup but must be wary of move-order tricks and traps.

Overall conclusion:  the Sicilian Kan lives!