Posts Tagged ‘Chess Today’

The Fabulous 10s: Chess Today, a daily chess newspaper

June 4, 2011

Chess Today – an Inbox Chess Tidbit Every Day!

I want to make sure everyone is aware of Chess Today, a daily electronic chess bulletin.  GM Baburin founded it, and GM Golubev also contributes analysis many times.  For a very low subscription price, people can follow current news and also get chess biographies.

An excellent daily treat in the inbox!  In addition, every month, a ChessBase archive file is sent out with all the games for the month, so readers can import them easily into ChessBase or some other database.

Here’s a brief sample from today’s newsletter.  GM Leonid Yurtaev passed away recently (1959 – 2011) and here is a very interesting win of his in the King’s Indian. GM Mikhail Golubev supplies the notes in the Chess Today edition but I removed them and just added a few of my own.

[Event “Riga”]
[Site “Riga URS”]
[Date “1988.??.??”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Tukmakov, Vladimir”]
[Black “Yurtaev, Leonid”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E68”]
[WhiteElo “2590”]
[BlackElo “2485”]
[Annotator “Mikhail Golubev (”]
[PlyCount “52”]
[EventDate “1988.??.??”]
[EventType “tourn”]
[EventRounds “16”]
[EventCountry “URS”]
[Source “Chess Today”]
[SourceDate “2011.06.03”]

{Leonid Yurtaev was an exceptionally gifted tactician who defeated many
world-famous players in individual games such as Tal, Ivanchuk, Morozevich,
the very young Kasparov and Aronian. He developed many special lines in the

{MG : I never met him, but I met his opponent this game Vladimir Tukmakov in Lenk, Switzerland 2000 and he is a very pleasant fellow full of chess anecdotes.  In particular, Tukmakov recounted some howlingly funny episodes involving classic chess character Yaakov Yukhtman. }

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nbd7 7. Nc3 e5 8. e4 exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8 10. h3 Nc5 11. Re1 Bd7

Golubev points out an interesting alternative: 11… h6  12. Rb1 Ne6 13. Nxe6 Bxe6 14. b3 Qc8!  {
(Kharitonov-Yurtaev, Sverdlovsk 1987)  and if white reacts with 15. Kh2 then black has the equalizing trick 15… Ng4+! 16. hxg4 Bxc3

{MG: I would be inclined as white not to trade on e6 (as in Kharitonov-Yurtaev), as the simplifying and equalizing
trick that occurred is fantastic!}

12.Rb1 h6  MG:  !? 

MG:  I never played Bd7 or h6 in this position, so I am definitely learning things.

Golubev points out the amazing Yurtaev idea  12… Qc8!? 13. Kh2 Re5 {, preparing …Rh5.}, as in Aseev-Yurtaev, 1988.

MG: I love this Yurtaev idea! (Re8-e5-h5)! It appears coffee-house, but it’s quite dangerous!

13. Kh2 a5 14. f4?!   Golubev prefers 14. b3.

14… a4 15. b4  axb3 16. axb3 h5 17. Bb2 c6

 18. b4 Na6 19. b5?!  Golubev points out white should throw in e4-e5 first.

19… Nc5 20. e5 dxe5 21. fxe5 h4 !!

{ MG: a great idea by Yurtaev!  He had as much in this game as I did in the game Yoos – MG, Pan Ams 1992! } 

 22. exf6  hxg3+ 23. Kh1 Qxf6

Black has a huge attack and white collapses under the strain.

 24. Rxe8+ Rxe8 25. Nf3?  Golubev points out 25. bxc6 is stronger and the last chance.
 25…Qf5!   26. Bf1  Re3 0-1

MG: A very creative accomplishment by Yurtaev! Too often, these strong grandmasters go virtually unnoticed in the west. Chess Today always sheds light on their best games.

Chess U News

The mobile Quiz application Chess U continues to gain traction.  We have signed up guest author Marcel Martinez to write about Middlegames for us.  Attack 101 is out, Rook 101 is out, Anand 201 is out coming within the next few days, and i expect Martinez’s Middlegames to be ready a little after that.    Right now it’s only on the iPhone/iPad, but we will go forward with Facebook native app and hopefully Android also.


Chess U

Update: on June 8, 2011, Anand 201 was released.

Here’s a screenshot of a quiz during the game Anand-Karpov Las Palmas 1996 (Lesson 6, Anand 201).

Quiz Time - Anand-Karpov

The Bad News and the Good News

May 2, 2011

The Bad News

Take a look at this diagram.  The play that followed, if it is true, sets chess back centuries.

White to play

It occurred in the 2011 US Women’s Championship according to a e-mail report I received from the always timely and excellent “Chess Today”, edited by GM Baburin.  My first reaction was this was a joke and Baburin must have gotten the position wrong.  I haven’t checked yet, but he goes on to say this was Krush-Zatonskih, a competitively important game, and that white lost the diagrammed position(!).   “How?” Baburin rhetorically asked.  “White moved her bishop twice randomly and allowed black’s king to a2.”

Are there any readers that can shed light some more (for example, time left, other information) light on this bizarre incident?  After all, it would only take a second or less to understand that 1. Bxb4 draws (among other things).  Worse yet, are there any unkind videos of this shipwreck?

The Good News

The iPhone ChessU App is born

After a year of group effort, my Chess “App” (it is called Chess University, or ChessU for short) is about to be approved by Apple and enter the iTunes store.  It is a set of guided quizzes with all the fancy visual interface features you expect in an iPhone.  The users gain “points” and can print out a diploma when they pass a course.  We will offer courses in Attacking, Playing Like Anand, and Basic Rook Endings for starters.

The Settings Screen

Take a look at the main announcement page    or the product page  for more details.

When the product is on iTunes, I will update this post! (hope it is very soon).  So far, we have the app (which you can download for free) along with a starter Course (also free) called Attack 101.  Once inside the App, when you graduate from Attack 101, you will have the opportunity for “in-app” purchase to move on to Rook Endings 101 (Rook 101 for short).  We are also finishing up another paid Course, called Playing Like Anand 101 (Anand 101 for short).  The paid courses will be available directly from iTunes or as an in-app purchase inside the quiz environment.

The target audience is scholastic kids who are used to the iPhone anyway and also people of any ages who wish to improve.   We will port to the Android later; we wanted to get the iPhone version first.  It runs on the iPad too.

This was a true international effort with programmers from Taiwan, Vietnam, and Australia.  The result is a platform that can play over any PGN feed or handle custom PGN marked up with Quizzes and answers.

The Fabulous 10’s: Berkeley Chess International 2011

January 13, 2011

Return to Forever

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

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

Super Happy Lucky Cat

The chess was a bit of a tough slog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly black is just winning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24.gxh4! Did black underestimate this?


White should seek improvements now because he is better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6

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

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

This is just unpleasant for black!

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

Black’s position is horrible.


22. Nb5! looks completely crushing.

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

Black shows some signs of life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the next to last round, a disaster!

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

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

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

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

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


27. Bc7 followed by Nba5 is crushing.

Bxc6 28.Rxc6

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

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

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

Nb6 32.d5?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qb6 9.c3 e5!?

Maybe too sharp.

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

Not very impressive but black does have to develop.

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

There was no real reason for this passive regrouping.

Nh5 18.Nb3

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

c5 19.Qh3 Qe6

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

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

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

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

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

a3 42.Rd1+ Ke6 43.Nd5 b3!

Not a difficult tactic but nice.

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

Now it’s just mop-up.

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

Questions of Modern and not so Modern Opening Theory

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

Conrad Holt – Lev Milman Nimzo Indian

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

Too soon, junior

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


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

That game:

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

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

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

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

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

A very nice mating combination.

27…Kxg6 28.h5+ Kg7 29.Rg1# 1-0

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

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

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

14.cxd5 Qxd5

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

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

GM Golubev was impressed by this coincidental find.

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

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

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

9…d5 is the only testing move.

10.Bxd4 Be6

This is not a good line for black.


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

Qa5 12.Qg5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pleasant for White!

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

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

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

Critical Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5

Starting Point

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

Rfc8 14. Rc1!

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

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

15. g4 b5 16. c4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fabulous 10’s: Russian Superfinal

December 22, 2010

Russian SuperFinal Puzzler

Here’s a puzzle for you in a competitively very important game that dropped Svidler out of the lead at the 2010 Russian Superfinals.

[Event “Russian Championship Superfinal”]
[Site “Moscow RUS”]
[Date “2010.12.20”]
[EventDate “2010.12.11”]
[Round “9”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “I Nepomniachtchi”]
[Black “P Svidler”]
[ECO “C45”]
[WhiteElo “2720”]
[BlackElo “2722”]
[PlyCount “78”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2
Nd5 8. c4 Ba6 9. Nd2 g6 10. Nf3 Qb4+ 11. Kd1 Nb6 12. b3 Bg7 13. Qd2 Qe7 14.
Bb2 O-O 15. Kc2 c5 16. h4 d5 17. exd6 Qxd6 18. Bxg7 Qxd2+ 19. Nxd2 Kxg7 20.
Ne4 Nd7 21. Rd1 Bb7 22. Nc3 Nf6 23. f3 Rfe8 24. Bd3 a5 25. Rhe1 Bc6 26. Nb5
Rxe1 27. Rxe1 Re8 28. Rxe8 Nxe8 29. Kb2 Kh6(?!)

Time for the first pre-test.  Suggest a ‘better’ move for black here (GM Zagrebelny talked about it on ChessPro.Ru).   I put “better” on quotes because black can probably save himself on the next move too.   The move is very clever indeed.

30. Be2

See it?

Much of the game’s commentary revolved around Svidler’s bad opening choice; how dismal the ending was, etc. etc.  But precisely here he can save it!  Or, if he is not saving it, he is coming very close (it’s still not clear after analysis).

30…Ng7? 31. Ka3 Nf5 32. Ka4 Nxh4 33. Bf1 Nf5 34. Kxa5 Ne3 35. Nxc7 Nxf1 36. Kb6 Bd7 37. Nd5 Kg7 38. a4
Bc8 39. Ne7 1-0

Looks like a clean win for white, right? Wrong! Find the rather unintuitive but clear draw for black starting from the diagram position!  And, for full credit, find black’s improvement on move 29 also!

Thanks for GM Baburin and “Chess Today” daily newsletter for pointing out some of the intriguing save possiblities that Svidler missed and thanks to for discussing some of the other save lines.

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: Spassky takes on Korchnoi again

December 24, 2009

Spassky – Korchnoi Redux

In Elista 2009 we have Boris Spassky playing a match with Viktor Korchnoi… again.

The two were on very bad terms in their Candidates match contested in the Belgrade 1977.  Time and again, Spassky would try to overcome Korchnoi’s French Winawer with overall poor results (for example this reverse). Spassky would retire to the back stage or turn his back on the board and watch on a big projector between moves (shades of Kramnik-Topalov!).  I would also become crabby confronted with endless French Defenses. I presume things are not so icy now.

One of their 2009 match games was especially interesting for a wild tactical line that remained behind the scenes – in fact, quite far behind the scenes, but so unique tactically we have to present it.  Thanks to GM Alex Baburin’s timely Chess Today bulletins for rapidly bringing this game to my attention!  Note the duo’s strangely depressed ELO ratings – tempus fugit!

Elista Match  Game 5   12/24/09

Viktor Korchnoi (2567) – Boris Spassky (2548).

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. a3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Qc2 Be7 7. e3 a6 8. Bc4
Nb6 9. Bd3 Qd7 N  10. b3
(10. O-O! f5 11. b4 e4 12. Nxe4! fxe4 13. Bxe4 with equal chances)

10… f5 11. e4?

Again, 11.  O-O! e4 12. Nxe4 fxe4 13. Bxe4 with equal chances.  Here is precisely where the incredible tactics lie, if we carry out a little.

13…Bf6 14. Bb2 Bxb2 15. Qxb2 O-O 16. Rac1
Qe7 17. Qc2 Be6 18. Bxh7+ Kh8 19. Be4 Bxb3 20. Qxb3 Qxe4 21. Rc5 Qg6 22. Ng5
Rf5 23. Rxf5 Qxf5 24. f4 Rf8 25. Rf3 Na5 26. Qc3 Nac4 27. e4 Qc5+ 28. d4 Qc6
29. f5 Kg8 30. Rg3 Qa4 31. Ne6 Rf7 32. Nxg7!!
and here we are starting the amazing adventure.  Yes, it’s a little far afield, but it has incredible fantasy value.  Take a look.

Position after 32. Nxg7 (analysis)

Black’s king is thoroughly denuded, but his remaining pieces are quite active.

This is just the start of the adventure.  Play proceeds 32…Rxg7 33. f6 Qd1+ 34. Kf2 Rg4!
Only move!

Not, of course, 34… Rxg3?? 35. Qxg3+ Kf7 36. Qg7+ Ke6 37. Qe7 mate.

Continuing, white has the delightful 35. h3! which in fact is the only move for white.  All these only moves for both sides mean the position is a real tightrope act.

Now we get to another great position!

Position after 35. h3! (only move) - Analysis

Now, black has two moves!    See if you can spot them both.

The first is 35…Nd2.

The second, more spectacular and good on shock value alone, is 35…Nd5!!  – by some perverse “logic of chess”, both moves turn out to have equal value.

Let’s look at the second move.

35… Nd5!! 36. Qxc4? (This is a blunder.  Correct is 36. exd5! Nd6! {Only move!  But now white faces a difficult problem!} 37. Qe3!! Only move for a draw!} Qc2+ 38. Kg1 Rg6 39. Qe6+ Kf8 40. Qe7+ Kg8 41. Qd8+ Kf7 42. Qd7+ Kf8 (42… Kxf6 $4 43. Rf3+ Kg5 44. Qd8+ Kh5 45. Qh8+ Rh6 46. g4+ Kg5 47. Qd8+ Kg6 48. Qg8 mate) 43. Rxg6 equal, or 43. Qe7+ Kg8 44. Qd8+ {Perpetual check})

Finishing the faulty 36. Qxc4?, that move is met by 36… Qd2+! 37. Kf1 Rxg3 38. Qxd5+ Kh7 39. Qf7+ Kh6 40. Qf8+ Kh5 41. Qf7+ Rg6 42. Qh7+ Qh6 and black wins.  So, in conclusion, 35…Nd5!! 36. exd5 Nd6 draws.

Now let’s go to the other, more conventional defense.  It leads to very wild situations!

35…Nd2 36. f7+ Kh7!

Position after 36...Kh7! (Analysis) - more craziness!

This surprising king move is the only move, once again, but an amazing resource!  Black must avoid the blunder 36… Kxf7?? 37. Qxc7+ Ke8 38. Qe5+ Kd8 39. Rxg4 Qf1+ 40. Kg3 Qe1+ 41. Kf4 Qf2+ 42. Kg5 and white should score the full point.

37. Rxg4! This leads to a draw.  Curiously, once again, it’s an only move.  Not the optically tempting underpromotion 37. f8=N+?! Kg8 38. Rxg4+ Qxg4 39. Qxd2 Qh4+ 40. Kf3 Qf6+ 41. Qf4 Qxf4+ 42. Kxf4 Kxf8 and black is clearly better.

37… Qf1+ 38. Kg3 Qe1+ 39. Kf4 Qxe4+ 40. Kg3!   Once again, an only move!. If 40. Kg5??, well that move is too frisky, and black wins:  40…Qe7+ 41. Kh5 Qxf7+ 42. Kh4 Qf6+ 43. Kg3 (43. Rg5 Qxg5+! 44. Kxg5 Ne4+ and wins) 43… Nf1 mate!

And we conclude this amazing variation with the prosaic

40..Qe1+ 41. Kh2 Nf1+ 42. Kg1 Nd2+ 43. Kh2 Nf1+ {perpetual check draw})  Wow!

Unfortunately, after the game’s lame 11. e4? move, the game concluded quickly in black’s favor:

11… g5! 12. exf5 g4 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Be4 Nc6 15. Ne2 Bf6 16. Rb1 Qd6 17. h3 gxh3 18. Rxh3 Bd7 19. Rd3 Qf8 20. Bxc6 Bxc6 21. Re3+ Kd7 22. Bb2 Nd5 23. Qd3 Bxb2 24. Rxb2 Qxa3 25. Rc2 Rae8 26. Qd4 Kc8 0-1

Match Postscript

The two titans of chess history wound up battling to a draw in the Elista 2009 match.  I suddenly remembered a Spassky interview I had read somewhere.  Readers, I need help with its time and place.  I am also paraphrasing, and need the actual interview text.  Somebody asked Spassky to assess Korchnoi’s strengths and weaknesses.

Spassky said something like this: “Strengths:  encyclopedic opening knowledge, ruthless fighter, fierce uncompromising will to win, flawless endgame technique.  Weakness: no talent.”  It drew quite a snicker from us humor-loving fans.

A Nice Ending

This ending has occurred twice in the last two weeks!  The first, a OTB encounter between GMs.  The second…

Kuzmicz (2415) – Musialkiewicz (2147) Amplico Lite Rapid (6) 12/19/09

Position after 76…Bg3

White to play and win

In the game, white played 77. Rb5? Kf8 and now there’s no way to prevent Kf8-e8 with a draw.  Once black’s king has freedom on the queenside squares, it is still just close enough to run back and stop the h-pawn when white goes for the Rxg3 idea.

The correct line is very nice.

77. Rf5! Bh2 78. Rd5! Kf8 79. Rd4 Bg3 80. Re4! with a winning zugzwang; black must give up the h-pawn and the game.

The Fabulous 00s: Gentlemen, Test your Engines

December 4, 2009

Perplexing Sidelined Knight!

This highly perplexing ending just surfaced on ChessToday.Net (Mikhail Golubev commenting).  Thanks to chess enthusiast Kurt Stein for bringing this intricate ending, and the problems computer engines have with it, to my attention.

GM Viktor Laznicka (CZE) – GM Viktor Bologan (Moldavia)

World Cup  Khantiy-Mansiysk

As a preamble, I enjoyed GM Josh Friedel’s Chess Life Online narrative of the trials and tribulations just to get to this Siberian way-station. And then, to be eliminated practically as soon as one arrives is truly agonizing!

I thought it was bad enough to venture up to Toronto for a David Lavin tournament from New York City (taking People’s Express to Buffalo, then transferring to a bus across Niagara Falls and being faced with hostile customs questions) – this is worse. 🙂

Here’s the action after Laznicka launched a clever combination to put Bologan in quasi-zugzwang.

It’s a good position to test chess engines, because most scenarios are well beyond the engine horizon, even for the big names such as Rybka.

Position after 55. Kg2

Black to play.  Is this real zugzwang or quasi-zugzwang or pseudo-zugzwang?

Golubev indicates white is playing for a win, and that he surely is, but what’s the correct result?  A great computer test!

Black played 55…d4 here and lost slowly.  White’s king *carefully* approached the pawn and never allowed black knight fork tricks.

It is my contention that 55…Nb7!, shuttling between b7 and d6, draws if black leaves the pawn on d5 for the time being.  The point is, when white tries to approach the p/d5, THEN black gets fork tricks.


55…Nb7! 56. Kf2 Nd6 57. Ke1 Nb7 58. Kd2 Nd6 59. Kc3 Kxh4! – only now! and black is saved due to a fork.

Or, 59. Kd3 Kg4! 60. Kd4! is the only way for white to draw.  If 60. f6? Kf5! 61. Kd4 Ke6! wins for black.

In fact, there are some pure fantasy variations here with DOUBLE fork tricks!

Here is a really nice line from the start position:

55…Nb7 56. Kf1 Nd6 57. Ke1 Nb7 58. Kd1 Nd6 59. Kc1 Nb7 60. Kb2 Nd6 61. Kc3 Kxh4! (well-timed!)  62. Kd4! (not 62. f6? Ne4+ 63. Kd4 Nxf6 64. b7 Nd7) and look at this position:

Black to play. What's the best move?

Unbelievable analysis position.  It turns out black actually has two moves.

But NOT 62…Nxf5+?? 63. Kxd5 Ne7 64. Kc5! and the pawn queens – a common beginner’s error to snatch a poison pawn like this.  The mundane line is 62…Kg5 63. Kxd5 Nb7 and draws.  Hidden, though, is something much prettier.

62…Nc4!! Wow!!!  63. b7 Na5!! (Fork Trick #1) 64. f6? (64. b8=N! draws!) 64…Nxb7 65. f7 Nd8!! (Fork Trick #2!!)  and now forced is 66. f8=N (another under-promotion on a different square) 66…Kg5 and black has an edge (but not a forced win) in the resulting ending after 67. Kxd5 Kf5!  Wow!!    The multiple fork tricks and the multiple under-promotion defenses are really something special.

Conclusion: I don’t see any win for white if black just hangs tight with Nd6-b7-d6 shuttle, waiting for WK to approach.  Readers?

Thinking Your Way To Chess Mastery – 2nd Installment

The second installment of my live Internet-TV show has been postponsed to Monday, December 14th, at 2 PM PDT (5 PM EST). Register for free at Chess.Com and tune in (under the “Fun” tab on the right, you see the “TV” link).  This is different from most chess videos online because here you get people and chessboards, imagine that.  And live Q&A throughout.

Chess Today

I just started subscribing to GM Alex Baburin’s excellent, regular, chess periodical (emailed to the readers with PGN and CBV attached).   Good stuff!

In “CT”, I noticed GM Nakamura missed many chances to put long-suffering Ni Hua away, starting with the crunching 35. Rxh6 winning – for example 35…Ke4 36. e6! and fini.

My Laznicka-Bologan analysis (above) made it into CT Issue #3319.

And Readers Deserve to See

Maria Yurenok (photo from John Saunders London Press Release)

London Calling