Posts Tagged ‘Molner’

The Fabulous 00s: The Blumenfeld is not Good (This is Not News)

July 8, 2010

Decline the Blumenfeld!

I have seen quite a few Blumenfelds recently and some of them worked quite well (Molner’s win as black vs Shankland, actually winning a brilliancy prize game at the Copper State International, Mesa, 2010) but I must conclude that white does very well DECLINING this particular gambit.  ACCEPTING gives black a central preponderance with some not-so-vague attacking chances (see Alekhine’s famous win over Tarrasch, Bad Pistyan 1922) and DECLINING, in most cases, just gives black an ugly structure and white easy development, to boot!  An easy call!  I am surprised people accept these days because declining is so good.  I will be the first to admit that black SHOULD have insufficient compensation for the pawn if white accepts, but practically speaking I enjoy the structures that come out the recommended declining lines we see in this article.

Let’s see the powerful DECLINING. 🙂

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5?! If chess were this simple…. 🙂

5. Bg5! The ueber-powerful DECLINING. 🙂  Now we follow, for a while, the very convincing treatment of GM Kaidanov vs. GM Ray Robson, US Championship, St. Louis, 2010. Perplexingly, Kaidanov went wrong at the very moment of victory and only drew.  A lucky escape for young Robson.

Decline to Win!

This position is already bad for black. I first suspected this fact when a Blumenfeld theme tournament was run in Holland (alluded to in a GM Hans Ree’s article in New in Chess) and black encountered very heavy weather in the complex of variations following 5. Bg5!.

Declining in order to win the game is not only a clever psychological ploy; it also follows the French proverb, “Reculer pour mieux avancer!” (retreat for a better attack!).  Conversely, declining gives black ZERO attacking chances and white EXCELLENT chances for a major positional pull.  Enough said!

5…Qa5+ This move is tricky, but no more than that.  Black’s choices are limited, though.  I probably don’t need to convince you too much that 5…h6? is outright weak and 5….d6 also leads to a white advantage.  Let me know if you don’t know why.  Do you have any other black moves you would like to try?  It won’t help, white is convincingly better in all lines.  The text move should get black in a lot of trouble.

See the comments section for the turgid try (has the practical effect of limiting white’s advantage, though) 5…b4.

6. Nc3! Very strong, and a move unjustly ignored by most theoretical works.  Other interposition moves are weaker.  Now white has a clear edge in all lines.  Very surprisingly, though, Kaidanov goes wrong ON THE VERY NEXT MOVE ruining his powerful 6th.

6…Ne4? Yuck.  Robson played this lemon violating the well-known precept against moving pieces twice in the opening.  Doubly bad because this horse is really the only minor piece out there so far.  6…b4 is objectively stronger, but I don’t need to try too hard to convince you that black’s position is not good after the obvious 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4.  Let me know if you think black is all right there and I will give you a few more lines.

This position is terrible for black!

7. Bd2? No!!!!   Arghhh!   GM Kaidanov plays a shocking lemon in return ruining, for the most part, his fantastic position.

The bust to 6…Ne4? is the easy (and worse, known from theory) 7. cxb5!

Black is much worse in all lines.  I would expect any GM to win handily.  The variations are clear:

7. cxb5!  Nxg5 (very instructive is the bust to even weaker 7… Bb7? which is 8. dxe6 fxe6 9. Bd2 Nxd2 10. Nxd2 d5 11. e4! and it’s totally lost for black as in Borovikov,V (2472)-Sharapov,E (2387)/Sevastopol 2000) 8. Nxg5 Be7 9. Qd2 and white has a big plus.

Or, 7. cxb5! Nxc3 8. bxc3 Qxc3+ 9. Bd2 Qf6 10. e4 and white, again, has a big plus and should win. I will let the reader work out the powerful reply to the lame Benko-like move 7. cxb5 a6?! here.   Warning: in a prior game, white went wrong after 7. cxb5 a6 but as a clue, white has a big, big improvement right away (if you find that prior game, which might put you off course a little bit).

Here is the prior game: 7. cxb5! a6?! 8. Bd2! (only now!) Nxd2 (forced) 9. Nxd2! axb5 (nothing better) and now… what’s the right move?

White to play and get a big edge

In the prior game, the careless 10. e4? was played.  Unfortunately after 10. e4? c4! black has equal chances.  Replace the tenth move lemon with something stronger, readers.  Do you see it?  It results in a big white edge.  This is the final link in the chain proving 5. Bg5! is strong!

The Divergence 5. Bg5! d6!?

White, of course, can play 6. dxe6 and look forward to an edge.  However, also interesting is 6. cxb5!?.

A good answer to 5...d6

There might follow 6…Qa5+ (What else? 6…exd5? 7. Bxf6 is terrible for black; 6…h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. Nc3 is a solid white edge, and the lame “Benko move” 6…a6? is outright weak due to 7. e4! Be7 8. Nc3 with a big white plus) 7. Bd2 Qxb5 8. Nc3 (with white gaining so much time on black’s queen he must be better) 8…Qb7 (relatively speaking the best placement for black’s queen which is not a good advertisement for his position; of course 8…Qxb2?? fails to 9. Rb1 followed by Nb5 and white wins) 9. e4 exd5 10. exd5 Be7 (note that 10…Nxd5? 11. Qa4+ Nd7 12. Nxd5 Qxd5 13. Bb5+ loses for black. 11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. Bc4 and white is better.

For reader enjoyment, let me take one of these lines further:

5…d6 6. cxb5! a6? 7. e4! Be7 8. Nc3 exd5 9. Bxf6! (hyper-accurate!) 9…Bxf6 10. Qxd5 Ra7 11. e5! (a surprising unusual breakthrough!) 11…dxe5 (11…Be6 12. Qxd6 wins for white) 12. Qxc5 Rc7 (12…Rd7 13. Be2 wins) 13. Qe3 (or 13. Qb4 which is also quite good) 13…O-O 14. Rd1 and black is in very bad shape.

Dark days for the Blumenfeld, indeed!

Reader comments welcome.

The Fabulous 10s: Copper State International

June 10, 2010

Copper State, Version 2!

The second installment of Danny Rensch’s Copper State International was a big success, especially for norm hunters.  The event was made possible by the generous support of John Lalonde and his Abstrax, Inc. playing site in Mesa, AZ.

Mackenzie Molner made a 2nd GM norm with a superb score of 6/9 in the “A” group round-robin and what a bunch of games he played!  In the “B” Swiss, numerous norms were made too.  All the games posted here are from the Monroi website.

GM Timur Gareev (left) watches as Mackenzie Molner shows him the last round Bartholomew-Molner game that gave Mackenzie a GM norm

Here’s Molner’s last round game, a romantic 19th century Evans Gambit!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Black “Bartholomew, John”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2439”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2451”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4

GM Nigel Short did much to bring this opening back at top-level.  Kasparov has also toyed with it.

4…Bxb4 As is well known, this gambit must be accepted.  Declining gives white an edge.

5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.O-O Bb6 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.Bg5 c6 13.Rad1 Qe5 14.Bxf7 Kd8 15.Ne2 Bc5 16.Bf4 Qxe4 17.Qg3 Rf8 18.Nc3 Qf5 19.Rde1 d6 20.Qxg7 Nd7 21.Bg5 Kc7 22.Re7 Bd4 23.Qxf8 Qxg5 24.Ne4 Qf4 25.Qe8 Be5 26.Ng3 Kb6 27.Rxd7 Bxd7 28.Qxd7 Rf8 29.Bh5 d5 30.Qxh7 Qd2 31.Bf3 Bxg3 32.hxg3 Ka6 33.Qe7 1-0

Weirdly, earlier in the tournament Bartholomew playing black lost to Stopa in… a similar Evans.  But in that game Stopa was dead lost and only Bartholomew’s time trouble made him go wrong.

And from Round 3, a game that won Molner the brilliancy prize (this prize covered both A and B sections):

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.05”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Shankland, Samuel”]
[Black “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2507”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2439”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5?!

The Blumenfeld “enjoys” a terrible reputation theoretically.

5.dxe6 This is one of those gambits that White does not need to take. In fact, the text move gives Molner what he wants; activity.

Strong, for example, is the straightforward 5. Bg5! (long known to be a dangerous weapon) 5…Qa5+  (the turgid 5…b4 is tougher, but leads to ugly formations where white has a2-a3 at his convenience) 6. Nc3! – surprisingly strong and not the focal point of most Blumenfeld theory.

Quick Development to Challenge the Blumenfeld

Now, it’s not fun for black.  For example, the impulsive 6…Ne4? (6…b4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4 is an uphill struggle for black with white enjoying a nagging plus) and now 7. cxb5! as white SHOULD have played in Kaidanov versus Robson, US Ch 2010, and other games.  White is better in all lines after 7. cxb5!.  This rather little known line is quite powerful versus the Blumenfeld.  One example line: 7. cxb5 a6 8. Bd2! (always, this) 8…Nxd2 9. Nxd2 axb5 10. e3! (not 10. e4? c4=, as occurred in a prior game) 10..c4 11. Qh5! – a devastating blow.  White wins after all moves, including the tricky try 11…Ba3!? 12. dxe6 dxe6 13. Nxc4! and the smoke clears with white a clean pawn ahead.

5…fxe6 6.cxb5 a6 7.bxa6 Bxa6 8.g3 Nc6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.e4? (10. Bh3!?) 10…Qb6 11.Be2 White’s 8. g3 now does not make sense at all.

11…Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Nd4 13.Nxd4?! (13. Qd1 Nb3! 14. Rb1 and white holds) 13…cxd4 14.Nd1 Qa5?! (14…d5! 15. exd5 Bb4+! is very strong)

15.Bd2 Bb4 16.f3 O-O 17.a3 Bxd2 18.Qxd2 Qa6 19.Qxd4 d5 20.e5 Nd7 21.Kf2? White misses a great chance for an edge with 21. f4! – for example, 21. f4! Rac8 22. Ne3! Nc5 23. Rd1 and now 23…Ne4? is met by 24. Nxd5!, winning for white.

21…Rac8 22.Ne3 Nc5 23.Rae1 Nb3? A serious blunder in an otherwise snappy game.  23…Qd3! is crushing. 24. Rd1 Ne4+ 25. Kg2 Rc2+!! forces mate!

24.Qd1 Qb7 Now white is right back in the game!

25.f4? The right move, not easy to find, is 25. Rhf1!

25…d4 26.Nc2 g5! Black’s attack flares up again!

27.Nb4 gxf4 28.g4? The final miscue. 28. Rhf1 was relatively best with a small black edge.

28…d3! Now Molner is in total control.

29.Qf3 Qb6+ 30.Kg2 Nd2 31.Qxd3 Qb7+ 32.Kh3 Nf3! Winning.

33.g5 Rcd8 34.Qa6 Nxg5+ 35.Kg4 Qf3+ Forces mate after 36. Kxg5 Rf5+.  A very imperfect game but exciting and unusual.


A very creative treatment in the Blumenfeld and an impressive relentless hunt of white’s king!

More Chess

A rout by IM Pruess playing black over a strong GM!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Panchanathan, Magesh”]
[Black “Pruess, David”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2549”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2361”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Qc7 8.g3 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Bf4 Nfd7 11.Bg2 g5 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.O-O Be6 15.a5 a6 16.e4 h5 17.Nd5 O-O-O 18.f4 gxf4 19.gxf4 Qg7 20.Nb6 Kc7 21.Qe2 Bb4 22.f5 Rd2 23.Qf3 Rg8 24.Qf4 Rd6 25.Qf3 Rd3 0-1

A last round rout by Pruess over the tournament leader GM Fridman!  Fridman had been leading by a full point but this shocking defeat sent him back to a three-way tie for first.  Fridman recovered and won the blitz playoff (over GMs Kacheishvili and Kekelidze).

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Fridman, Daniel”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2654”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4

As Pruess tells it, he wanted to see black play 3….e6 as he was in the mood to just play that closed game.  In the game, Fridman goes a much riskier route (Fridman has even written about this in magazines) but gets annihilated!    3….Qb6!? is all the rage and favored by Georgian grandmasters.  For example,  the recent game annotated in New In Chess, Nepomniatchi – Jobava saw 3…Qb6!? 4. a4!? with insanity.

4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.O-O Ngf6 8.Bg5 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Qb6 10.Nd2 Qxd4 11.Kh1 b5 12.Bb3 Be7 13.Rad1 Qb6 14.Qf5 Rd8 15.Nf3 g6 16.Nxe5!

It’s so pleasing to land an elementary and decisive tactical blow like this versus a tough professional who competes in the top German Bundesliga!  How often does it happen?  Not often!

Rf8 17.Qf4 Nxe5 18.Qxe5 Rxd1 19.Rxd1 Ng8 20.Bxe7 Nxe7 21.Qd6 Rg8 22.Qd7 Kf8 23.Bxf7 Kxf7 24.Rf1 Kg7 25.Qxe7 Kh6 26.Rf3 1-0

Here’s a smooth effort by GM Amanov, a contender for best game prize.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Amanov, Mesgen”]
[Black “Bercys, Salvijus”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2479”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2427”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Qc2 h5 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.Rad1 e5 15.dxe5 Qe7 16.e6 Qxe6 17.Rd6 Qe7 18.Rfd1 Nc5 19.R6d2 Be5 20.b4 cxb3 21.axb3 Bxg3 22.hxg3 a5 23.e5 Qxe5 24.Bxb5 O-O 25.Bc4 Kg7 26.Re2 Qf6 27.Re3 Ba6 28.Bxa6 Rxa6 29.Rf3 Qg6 30.Qe2!

Incredibly strong.  The rook on a6 is tied to the knight on c5; the knight cannot move, but the queen by force picks up the knight!  Black cannot defend it!

Kg8 31.Qc4 1-0

And the actual winner of the Best Game prize was this nice game by veteran IM Nikolai Andrianov, coming off a three year period of no chess!   His victim, talented young player IM Jacek Stopa, was one of the pre-event favorites by rating, but had a horrible start.  He recovered somewhat in the 2nd half.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Andrianov, Nikolai”]
[Black “Stopa, Jacek”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2409”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2474”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.Nf3 e6 2.b3 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 f5 5.Bb2 Nf6 6.O-O Be7 7.d4 O-O 8.c4 Qe8 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.d5 Na6 11.Nd4 Qg6 12.Nxe4 fxe4 13.dxe6 c5 14.Nf5 Qxe6 15.Nxg7 Qc6 16.Nh5 Bg5 17.h4 Be7 18.e3 Rf7 19.Qd2 h6 20.Rad1 Rd8 21.Qc3 Kh7 22.Rd5 Qe6 23.Nf4 1-0

My own play was unconvincing.  I made  solid draws as black vs GM Yermolinsky and IM Altounian but early on I had an incredible miss, one that I definitely thought about after it was over.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Troff, Kayden”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteELO “2393”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2201”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d6 7.d5 Ne5 8.Nxe5 Bxe5 9.Be2 Bd7?! 10.O-O Rc8?! 11.Be3 Qa5? This queenside demonstration greatly worsens black’s position, losing multiple tempi, and these are important tempi helping white with the break that he wants, c4-c5.

12.a3 Nf6? Leaving the bishop out to dry.

13.b4 Qc7 14.Rc1 a5 15.f4 White also had Nb5-d4 with a huge advantage.

Bxc3 16.Rxc3 axb4 17.axb4 h5 18.Bd4 With this forever bishop, white is winning easily.

Rg8 19.Re1 Kf8 20.Bf1 Bf5 21.Rce3 h4 Black is making rather aimless moves all over the board.  Well, he has to, he’s almost in total zugzwang already. But an important principle comes to mind:  if black has played very weakly so far (far below his published rating) he has to be good at something!  And that something in this game is resourcefulness in lost games.  Still, the position has put black well over the edge into losing territory.  White’s next elementary tactical blow requires only a small amount of accuracy.

22.Rxe7 One way to win. Another elementary win is 22. Qe2 and e7 collapses.    I am not sure why I did not look at the obvious 22. Qe2.  After 22. Qe2 black has to resign.

22…Qxe7 23.Rxe7 Kxe7 24.Qe1+ Ne4 25.Bd3

25. c5! wins.    25. c5! Rge8 26. Qxh4+ Kf8 27. cxd6 and black collapses. The text also wins.

25…Rge8 26.Qxh4+? What a bad move! The first simple miss.  26. Bxe4 Kf8 (forced) 27. Qxh4 Rxe4 28. Bf6! Ke8 and now do you see it?  I thought black’s king was running so I didn’t go for this line, but here white wins easily. The answer is the nice quiet move 27. Qh7! (I overlooked this) and the threat of Qg8+ and Qxf7 is unstoppable and wins immediately.

26…Kd7 Black takes his chance to run in another direction but this should have been hopeless.  For some reason, I started playing quickly for no reason and let him totally escape. Quite an upsetting turn of events.  From this point forward, my calculation ability was non-existent!

27.c5! Of course.  White is still winning.  So far, so good.

27…dxc5 28.Bb5+? White doesn’t understand that better is 28. bxc5! Nxc5 29. Bb5+ Kd6 30. g4! and wins. For example, 30…Bd7 31. Qf6+! (this is why white needs to get the black knight away from e4!) 31…Kc7 32. Bxc5! and wins.

28…Kd6 29.Be5+?? A terrible blunder.  If white had paused a little, there are two wins remaining.  Win 1.  29. Bxc5+ Nxc5 30. Qf6+ (this resource was never on my radar) 30…Kxd5 31. Bxe8 Rxe8 32. Qxf7+ and wins.  Win 2.   29. bxc5+ Nxc5 30. g4! and wins decisive material.

29…Rxe5 What am I doing? 30.fxe5 Kxd5 31.g4? Yet another terrible move blitzed out.  31. Qe7 keeps good winning chances.  For example, 31. Qe7 cxb4 32. Qxf7+ and white will also pick up b4 and should convert the win.

31…Be6 Now all the wins have disappeared.  What an amazing number of bad blunders to not win!

32.Qe7 cxb4 33.Bd3 Kxe5 34.Qxb4 Nd6 35.Kf2 Bc4 36.Qe1 Kd5 37.Qe3 Bxd3 38.Qxd3 Ke6 39.h4 Rc4 40.Kf3 b5 41.h5 gxh5 42.gxh5 Nf5 43.Qd8 Rh4 44.Qe8 1/2-1/2

In a later round I played another little talented kid and  played better, but only won one rating point.  That’s the problem playing little kids.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.07”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Gurevich, Daniel”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2007”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2393”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 a6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 d5 6.d3 Nf6 7.e5 Nd7 8.Bg2 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.g4 b5 11.Qe1 b4 12.Ne2 f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.g5 Nh5 15.Qh4 g6 16.Ng3 Ng7 17.Bd2 Bd6

White never took his chance to play c2-c3 or c2-c4 in the early stages of the game, moves he needed to get chances.

18.h3 Ra7 19.Nh2 h5! Stopping the obvious threat of Nh2-g4. Now white’s king side pawns are fixed awkwardly. 20.Nf3 Raf7 21.Ne2 Nf5 22.Qf2 Qc7 23.Nh4 Nxh4 24.Qxh4 Nd4! Simple chess.  The f4 point collapses and the game.

25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Rf2 Bxf4 27.Bxf4 Rxf4 28.Qg3 h4 29.Qh2 Qe5 30.Rxf4 Rxf4 31.Kh1 Qxg5 32.Rg1 Qf6 33.Re1 Kg7 34.Qg1 Rf2 35.Qh2 Qf4 36.Qxf4 Rxf4 37.Rc1 e5 38.c4 dxc3 39.bxc3 Bf5 40.cxb4 Rxb4 41.Bxd5 Bxd3 42.Re1 Rb1 0-1

In the fourth round, I was astounded to see this discredited opening appear:

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Ravichandran, Siddharth”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2454”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6? Amazing brinkmanship and a move I thought was unplayable!  Joel Benjamin annotated the game Hess-Lapshun in US Chess Online but both players were not familiar with that.   In the online notes, the variation is just kaput for black. Ravichandran had apparently consulted some other theory source.  Ravichandran said after the game he wanted to catch white by surprise with this.  Well, it’s a shock for sure.

White starts out responding in the best way.

6.e5! Correct and natural enough.

6…Bc5 Black blitzed this out; he has no choice.

7.Be3!? This move is not bad.   Hess found the more forcing 7. Nd4-b5! and now Lapshun lost miserably with 7…Ng8.  In fact other players have lost this miniature too.  The f2 pawn is untakeable.  Why?  The variations are nice.

For fun, look at 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 (8. Kd2?? Qe3 mate would be embarrassing!) 8…Nd5 9. Nd6+ Ke7 10. Nxd5+ exd5 11. Qd5 Rf8 12. Bg5+f6 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Qe5+!! and forced mate!

For completeness, 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 Ng4 9. h3! Ng4 and now white goes on a king walk to win: 10. Nd6+! Ke7 11. hxg4 Qf2+ 12. Kd3 Nc6 and now white can win a brilliancy prize: 13. Nf5+!! exf5 14. Nd5+ Kf8 15. Be3! and wins!  If black put his king on f8 in this line, white can vary with 13. Nce4! and wins a piece.

I asked Ravichandran after the game and he said he intended 7….a6.  Apparently his theoretical source points to that.  Well, it’s the best move!

Pruess said after the game (separately) he was concerned about the 7…a6 resource since 8. Nd6+ is not clear.

Some junior at the tournament ran 7….a6 through an engine and told me later on that 7…a6 8. Qf3! (a resource not seen by Pruess but known to his opponent) is strong.  Computer power! Nevertheless, 8. Qf3 Nd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 Bb4! and black can fight on with a worse, but defensible, position.  What did we learn?  Not much, except that black in this game was successful with the early brinkmanship!

7…Nd5 8.Nxd5 exd5 9.Nf5? A big lemon.  White must have miscalculated something.

After the strong 9. Nb5! white can still fight for an edge.  9…Bxe3 10. fxe3 Qxe3+? 11. Qe2 is terrible for black. He loses after, e.g., 11…Qxe2+ 12. Bxe2 Na6 13. Nd6+ Ke7 14. O-O Rf8 15. Nf5+ and wins.  Needless to say, taking on e3 is not forced. 10..O-O 11. Qd4! leaves white with an edge but again black can defend.   Another example line:  9. Nb5! O-O 10. Bxc5 Qxc5 11. Qd2 a6 12. Nd6 Nc6 13. O-O-O with a white plus.

Qxb2 10.Nxg7 At this stage, it was impossible to realize the computer recommendation of 10. Bd4 is stronger with equal chances.

Kd8 11.Bg5+? The real losing move.  White must have been totally disoriented and thinking about earlier missed chances. After this white is just dead.  11. Be2 Bxe3 12. fxe3 and white can play that position and have good prospects to draw.  11. Be2 Bb4+? is bad: 12. Kf1 and black can’t take on e5 due to Bd4.

Kc7 12.Bf4  Qc3+ A lethal intermediate check well known to Sveshnikov lovers, this occurs in many early Be6 lines of the Sveshnikov forcing white to do acrobatics.

13.Bd2 The problem is that 13. Ke2 Qc4+ 14. Kf3 Qe4+ 15. Kg3 Bxf2+!  wins.

13…Qxe5 14.Be2 Qxg7 15.O-O d6 16.Bf3 Be6 17.c4 dxc4 18.Qa4 Nd7 19.Qb5 Rab8 20.Ba5 b6 21.Qc6 Kd8 22.Rad1 bxa5 0-1

So this dubious variation is marginally playable and in the game above, even netted black a quick victory!  It seems a little unjust.

Something Different: Endgame Quiz

Consider this position from Berczes-Horvath  Zalakarosi 2010:

Black to play.

Can black draw?   If so, how many drawing moves are there?

GM Alejandro Ramirez (center) recycles girls

The Fabulous 10s: The Case of the “Forgotten” Move in the 2 Knights

April 5, 2010

Black Can Play Better in the 2 Knights!

Recently some games have appeared in the 2 Knights – they all share the same characteristic that a principal move for black is not mentioned!

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5!? The venerable, if somewhat time-wasting and primitive, attack on f7.

4….d5 5. exd5 Na5! The only good move.  Friedel has had some good results with the crazy Ulvestad lunge 5….b5?! but that looks unsound.

5....b5? Ulvestad's move just doesn't work!

6. Bb5+ c6 7. dxc6 bxc6 8. Bd3!?

Obviously self-blocking but white does have an extra pawn.  This is how Nakamura suprised Friedel in the competitively important last round of the US Championship last year.

8…Ng4! The best move!  Not played or MENTIONED in any of the recent games that have graced the virtual pages of Chess Life Online!

8...Ng4!, without a doubt the best move and unfairly ignored in recent press!

Why is it systematically ignored by:  Nakamura (in his notes to the Friedel game), Friedel (in HIS notes to the Nakamura game) and Molner and others in the Molner-Mitkov NAO 10 game? The move 8….Ng4! has history on its side.  It was tried out by none other than…. OK readers look it up!  Friedel played some slow Be7 and O-O and just lost due to white’s extra pawn.  Mitkov played 8….h6 and ….Nd5 and gained some activity but in the end Molner had, well, superior activity and the extra pawn.  I am baffled why it went without passing in ANY of the recent games’ annotations.

Stay tuned, I will post here further analysis on 8…Ng4!.  It has the distinct advantage of forcing white into passive situations, often with a compromised pawn structure.

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 4 OOTW

September 24, 2009

USCL Week 4 Opening of the Week

Molner (NJ) – Herman (NY) Sicilian Najdorf  Bg5 AND Bc4 Combo Platter

It’s always funny when an ersatz pioneer “wings it” in a sharp opening, essentially making things up to confuse.    It didn’t work out in Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs Ludwig (DAL) in a prior week, but this time around white has better luck.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Bc4 A strange two bishop combo platter to see if white can confuse.  It is a good try  in this crazy USCL time limit!

Lunch Combo Platter

Lunch Combo Platter


Not the cleanest solution but perfectly OK. First of all, 8…b5? 9. Bxe6 is bad.  How do we know?  Because Polugaevsky himself lost to Tseitlin once in 1971 starting from here; the sacrifice is strong.  8…b5? is too much provocation.  Black’s game move is fine.  However, in Najdorfs, do as Gelfand does! 8….Qb6! and after 9. Bb3 Be7 white has zero, as has been proven in a bunch of games.  After 10. f5, lurching forward, both 10…Nc5  (Ljubojevic-Gheorghiu, Palma 1972) and 10…e5 are fine for black.  Going back, after 8…Qb6! 9. Bxf6 Nxf6 10. Bb3 black is fine, Beliavsky-Gelfand Linares 1994.  He played 10…e5 eventually drawing but had 10..Be7 (more normal) as well.  Finally, 8…Qb6! 9. Qd2? Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qxa3 is just a really bad Poisoned Pawn line for white.  It wasn’t poisoned. 🙂

9.e5 h6 10.Bh4 g5? This is the culprit.  Too much junior energy.  The simple 10…dxe5! 11. dxe5 g5 leaves white with zero after 12. Bf2 Nfe4 or 12. exf6 gxh4 13. O-O h3!.

11.fxg5 Nfe4? A sharp position cannot stand two blunders in a row.  The positional problem is 11…dxe5 12. Nf3! with a significant white edge.  BUT black had to play this as his move just goes down the drain.

12.Qh5 And white is winning.   But one more cool moment coming up.

12…hxg5 13.Qxh8 gxh4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.exd6? Here the shot 15. Bxe6!! demolishes black in short order and may have won Molner GOTW.

15…Nxd6? 15…Qxd6 and white is only somewhat better, nothing decisive.

16.Be2 Qg5 17.Nf3 Qa5+ 18.c3 Bd7 19.Qxh4 Nf5 20.Qg5 Qb6 21.Ne5 Qxb2 22.0-0 Qxe2 23.Rae1 Qb5 24.Qf6 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 Nd6 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qf6+ Ke8 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Qxa8 Be8 30.Qb8 Qa5 31.Rd1 Ba3 32.Rxd6 Bxd6 33.Qxd6+ Black resigns 1-0

In Other Matters: A Nonsensical Sveshnikov Makes an Appearance

Arizona lost narrowly AGAIN 1.5  – 2.5, this time versus the Baltimore Kingfishers.  The match was very tightly contested.

I was very surprised to read a passage on the Baltimore blog, “Now, as the match began, the players clearly made adjustments for the shorter (60/30) time control as they moved quickly through their openings, especially FM Shinsaku Uesugi, who had specifically prepared much of the Sveshnikov line he played on Board 4. He appeared quite calm and strolled about observing the other three games until about 24. Nb6. He had the worse position until NM Leo Martinez played 37. h4? instead of h3!”

This might make sense if we didn’t have access to the game score.  But what actually happened is that Uesugi played a  completely losing move on move 16.  Jansa showed us why in 1996 (see postscript).

In the opening, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.c3 Bg7 12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Nc2 0-0 14.Nce3 Be6 15.Bd3 f5 16.0-0 f4?? Oh, dear. 16…e4 is the main line for a good reason.

Prep Suicide Bluff

Prep Suicide Bluff

White found the right response with  17.Qh5! and yes, he is now officially winning.

17…Rf7 (forced) 18.Bxh7+ (sadly, 18. Qxh7+ and Bg6 next is also completely winning with similar lines) 18…Kf8 19.Bf5 and yes, White played fine and this is winning (although 19. Bg6 ALSO winning is more to my taste than the game 19. Bf5, as it allows less – I refer you to the Postscript for a completely crushing Jansa victory that should have wound up in the textbooks?   Everything was fine until the possible 3-fold repetition came up on moves 22 and 23.  It’s hard in a team event to know what to do – white is lower rated going in, and a draw in the abstract seems really good and IS good, for our team.  But white’s position is so good!  Our fourth board spaced out at this juncture for many minutes, not really looking at the board, just well…spacing out. Robby, our third board, and I noticed this and we each started praying independently he would repeat. The tough thing was none of boards 1, 2, or 3 were clear at all at this specific juncture. -it was still the early going  In the USCL time limit nothing is “winning” unless a player is likely to have a firm handle on all the tactics (see Benjamin-Kacheishvili, NJ vs NY Week 4, for an example of time pressure ruining a well played effort by white). But our 4th board in the end did not repeat, and it was pretty much a given considering his mental state he wouldn’t sense all the tactics and tricks coming up.  He wasn’t focused at all on his board. That’s exactly what happened; he missed a pretty simple tactic a few moves later and lost (by this time having very little time, since he spent a lot of time during the big space-out).    So in a twisted sense the Uesugi high-level bluff (‘prepping’ a losing move?!?) paid off big-time for Baltimore since it put our fourth board into deep orbit when the possible repetition came up.

Postscript: The Jansa Solution

The solution to the “Uesugi Problem” aka “Uesugi Bluff” was shown to us in 1996 by veteran GM Vlastimil Jansa.  In this game, Jansa shows fantastic tactical foresight.  Here is what happened in Jansa-Salai Hungarian League 1996.  I would assume this is in Sveshnikov handbooks, but readers…?

18. Bxh7+ Kf8 19. Bg6! Raa7 (nothing better) 20. Bf5!! A fantastic switch.  Why lure the rook to a7 you ask?  You’ll see!  20…Rxf5 21. Nxf5 Bxd5 22. Rfd1! Bf7 23. Qh7 Bg8 24. Qg6 and white win in short order as black collapses (that was the game continuation).  But if black follows the “Uesugi keep the white knights dangling plan” and plays 18. Bxh7+ Kf8 19. Bg6! Raa7 20. Bf5!! Qe8, then white shows the brilliance of his 19th move.  He plays 21. Bxe6 Qxe6 22. Qg4 and look!  Black can’t follow Martinez-Uesugi with 22…Qh6 due to 23. Qc8+ and mate!  Wow!  If 22…Qe8, for example, 23. Nc2 and white is winning.  What a nuance! So white just has a pawn up and all the light squares in an ending.

In case you are wondering, for completeness we have to look at one other defense, one that Salai avoided for good reason in the 1996  Jansa game.  18. Bxh7+ Kf8 19. Bg6 fxe3 20. fxe3 Raa7 loses to the nice domination  21. Bxf7 Rxf7 22. Rxf7+ Bxf7 23. Rf1 Qd7 24. Qg6 Nd8 25. b4 Ne6 26. Qg4 Qe8 (26…Ke8 27. Qxg7!! wins)  27. h4 and black is in total zugzwang

By the way for amusement here are the 16…f4?? USCL player’s ICC finger notes.  Joel Benjamin opined that he simply got confused because …f4 is perfectly playable in the Bd3-c2 retreat line (but not in the Martinez move order).

Uesugi-BAL has not played any rated games yet.

1: If you play 1.e4, I will play c5
2: If you play 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3, I will play Nc6
3: If you play 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4, I will play cxd4
4: If you play 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4, I will play Nf6
5: If you play 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3, I will play e5
6: If you play 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5, I will
play d6
7: I do not lie, be prepared