Posts Tagged ‘Timman’

The Fabulous 00s: La Vache ne Rit pas

February 20, 2009

The Toasted Cheezer

Whenever Maxime Vachier-Lagrave plays, I take note.  First of all, Maxime seems to my untrained eye to be a girl’s name.   Somehow a perversion of “Maxim” (Dlugy).  Well, Catherine Keener was hot in “Being John Malkovich” playing Maxine.  Note the “n” there.  What’s “Maxime” about?  Many questions, no answers. Secondly, I think of La Vache Qui Rit (a kind of budget grocery store cheese that I liked when I was a kid).

So here is a cheesy game of his from the recent 2008 Olympiad.  The winner of the game, Vladimir Akopian, happened to be playing for the winning team, Armenia so you know he had plenty of motivation to beat the Toasted Cheezer.

[Event “2008 Olympiad”]
[Site “Dresden GER”]
[Date “2008.11.21”]
[Round “8”]
[White “Akopian, Vladimir – ARM”]
[Black “Vachier Lagrave, Maxime – FRA”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B90”]
[WhiteElo “2679”]
[BlackElo “2716”]
[EventDate “2008.11.13”]

As a preamble, I found it amusing that the “kid” Vachier-Lagrave had a higher rating going into this game than  experienced world-class Akopian.  This was more suprising to me than the chimp Travis going crazy and biting a woman’s head in Connecticut. A sign of the times?  Would V-L be favored in a match?

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. Be2!? The hackneyed 7. f3 b5 8. Qd2 Nbd7 gets us to regular English Attack waters seen too much in recent times.  Akopian prepped this move, but La Tartine aux Poires (Pear Tart) reacts well.

7… Qc7 8. a4 b6! 9. f4 Bb7 10. Bf3 Nbd7! I like the Cheezer’s piece placement.  Nice and flexible.  I set up like this once versus Leonid Shamkovich, Lloyds Bank UK 1978!

11. Qe2 g6 12. O-O e5! The French boy wisely avoids the “desastre des proportions mondial” of 12… Bg7?? 13. e5! dxe5 14. Ndb5!! axb5 15. Nxb5 Qb8 16. Bxb7 Ra5 17. fxe5 Qxe5 18. Qf3 and black is a burnt crouton.   Quelle nuance – I also played this way against Shamkovich.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

13. Rad1 A big deal was made out of this move since it involves a ‘piece sac’.  It’s  too risky, obviously, for black to accept.  In fact, no GM would spend even more than a few moments “pondering” 13….exd4??.  So, it really shouldn’t amount to much – just another prepped sharp line with a transparent trick.   Black finds the obvious and correct response at least on this move…

A "sac".  ZZZZZZ.

A "sac". ZZZZZZ.

13…Be7! Rather obvious; this is why white’s “spectacular” piece offer doesn’t itself merit an exclam.

14. fxe5 Nxe5? Oh no!   Boo!  After setting up fantastically, the Baguette Kid sets himself on the path of a rapid self-immolation.  Required is the obvious 14… dxe5! 15. Nd5?! (the more circumspect 15. Nb3 O-O 16. Bg5 Nc5 17. Qc4 Kg7 18. Bxf6+ Bxf6 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. Rxd5 Be7 is dead equal) 15… Nxd5 16. exd5 O-O 17. Nc6 (this knight invasion is rather meaningless) 17…Bd6  18. Qc4 Rfe8! (not falling for 18…f5?? 19. Ne7+! and white has a huge edge) 19. g3 e4 20. Bg2 f5 and I’d rather be black.   Timman in New In Chess speculated Akopian might go for 15. Nb3 since 15. Nd5 does in fact seem to be a dead-end, shifting the initiative to black.  Next time, Maxime!

15. Bh6 Bf8 16. Bxf8 Kxf8 17. Qe3 Posing an elementary riddle.

Les noirs echouent l'examen.  Black fails the quiz.

Les noirs echouent l'examen. Black fails the quiz.

White eyes h6, and plans the transparent 17. Qg5 on 17…Kg7, or does he?  This gets to the heart of the position.

17…h6?? Another horrible gaffe (a French word!) from Kid Vachier.   The Dresden Willies? (TM)  This move comes from the bottom of a bad cheese barrel.   He needed to play the simple 17… Kg7! with the cute point that the barbaric 18. Qg5?! is met by the cute pinning 18…Qc5! 19. Kh1 Nxf3 20. Nxf3 Nxe4 and he’s fine.  White would only then have a small edge.  I can’t imagine why he would prefer 17…h6?? over the solid 17…Kg7! anyway.

18. Bh5!!! CRUNCH.   This blows the hyphen away: Vachier just got separated from the Lagrave.  He must have been feeling like he had eaten yesterday’s spinach croissant with some bad bleu cheese interior.  To put it another way, the souffle has fallen. White explodes black on the f-file and the crazed cleric eats next on g6 with nastiness happening on e6.  Black’s pieces are now past the event horizon and they all get sucked into the tactical black hole.

18…Qe7 There was no defense.   If 18…Kg7, “too late”, 19. Bxg6! Nxg6 (or 19…Kxg6 20. Nf5 anyway, and wins) 20. Nf5+ and it’s a rout. The rest of the game is like Napoleon at Waterloo – frightened scared men being massacred by a surrounding pincer force.

19. Bxg6! Anyway.  Black could already resign.

19…Nxg6 20. Nf5 Qe5 21. Qxb6 Bxe4 22. Qxd6+ Qxd6 23. Nxd6 Bxc2 24. Rxf6 Ra7 25. Rd2 Kg7 26. Rf3 1-0

Les enfants de la patrie n’allons pas. Hardly a triumph of white’s prep, though, as black just blew up for no reason.

Relationship Advice for Men

Often times, women will become enamored with abnormally large coffee mugs and bowls.  If you put a regular amount of cereal in such a bowl, it is dwarfed.  If you put coffee or tea in the Giant Mug, it is similarly dwarfed by the massive porcelain artifact.  What to do?  Sneak out and get some regular sized stuff but make sure it’s in a compatible color or else Your Ass is Grass.

In Other Chess News

To help Chess Life as a magazine, fortunately momentum is growing to stop Hanken from writing about the game of chess in Chess Life.   Current thinking is to give him a sidebar once in a while where he can comment on a player’s appearance.  That might be the best way for the editor to go.  Accuracy in annotations should be the editor’s overall goal in a ‘chess’ magazine.

What does the Russian Supermodel Think?

Attempts to reach Natasha Poly to learn her opinions of where Chess Life should head were, as of this writing, unsuccessful.

Natasha:  Weigh in on CL for Us

Natasha: Weigh in on CL for Us

And Lastly – Music at an Art Show… or something

Courtesy of Facebook,

I think Lily Faerman, a chess personality, is about to do a music concert or … something .. … at an art show of Russian women artists? in March in New York?  I can’t decipher youth announcements.

Here is her poster, I think.  I could be totally wrong about all this.

No. 9 Project

No. 9 Project

The Fabulous 80s: All Things Bass!

February 1, 2008

IM Leonid Bass was a fixture in the New York chess scene through much of the 1980s.  I know at some point (in the 1990s?) he then crossed the atlantic to live in Caen (France — a northern town, not to be confused with Cannes on the Riviera) – not sure what he’s up to now.


From left: Leonid Bass, Linda Carrubba, and US Champions Michael Wilder and Joel Benjamin, World Open Player’s Bar 1986.

Here’s a tussle I had with him in the Bar Point International, August 1980. I think he became an IM in the next few years after this event, as did I.

Leonid Bass – Mark Ginsburg, Bar Point August International Round 5. Modern Defense.

1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Bg4 This is a very tricky opening that I recommend for the hardships and vagaries of tournament play.


Position after 4…Bg4.  Trickiness. 

5. e3 c5 Interestingly Rybka likes 5… Nc6 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O O-O 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 e5; for example 10. d5 Nb4 11. Bb1 Re8 12. a3 e4 with interesting play. Also possible is 5… Nf6 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O Nc6 8. h3 Bf5!? 9. d5 Na5 10. Nd4 Bd7 11. Qc2 c5!? with complications. I was following some old theory (a game, Portisch-Timman, where Timman made a comfortable albeit sharply played draw). I had the RHM Tournament book on Wijk an Zee 1975 where that exciting game was played and annotated by Timman.

6. d5 Portisch played 6. Be2 cxd4 7. exd4 Nh6! 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Nc6 10. d5 Ne5 11. Be2 Nf5! and black was fine, Portisch-Timman, 1/2, 47 moves, Wijk aan Zee 1975.  The two knights really worked well in the center. 

6…Nf6 7. Be2 e6!? Bass criticized this move since it obviously hands over d5. Still, black can play “around” the d5 square and get counterplay, as occurs in the game.  So maybe it’s not so bad; Benoni-type counterplay is going to occur no matter what.

8. h3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 exd5 10. Nxd5 Nc6 11. O-O O-O 12. Rb1 Nxd5 13. Bxd5 Rb8 14. a3 Ne7 15. b4 cxb4 16. Rxb4 Clearly black won’t have any problems now that white’s pawns are split.

16…Qc7 17. e4 b6 18. Bf4 Nxd5 19. cxd5 a5?! I could have played 19… Rbc8 with complete equality.

20. Rb1 Rfc8 21. Qd3 Be5 22. Rfc1 Correct is 22. Bxe5! dxe5 23. Rfd1 with a small plus.

22… Qe7 23. Be3 Rxc1+ 24. Bxc1 Qd7 Most accurate is 24… Rc8 25. Bd2 Qf6 26. Rxb6 Bd4 27. Rb1 Qxf2+ 28. Kh1 Be5 and black is fine.

25. Bd2 Qa4 26. Qb3? This is a bad stumble.  By going after an unimportant pawn on a5 white exposes himself to a very dangerous attack.  This makes sense because black is very centralized and white, after this tactical expedition, will be totally uncoordinated. Indicated is 26. f4 Bd4+ 27. Be3 Bxe3+ 28. Qxe3 with equal chances.

26…Qxe4 27. Bxa5


Position after 27. Bxa5.  Black has something!

27…Rc8?! Very strong is the attacking 27… Qf4! 28. g3 Qf5! (a very nice maneuver) 29. Kg2 Bd4 forcing the very sad 30. Be1.  Then, 30…Ra8 31. Rd1 Bc5 and white has a dreadful game; black should win.

28. Bxb6 Rc3 29. Qb4 Qxd5 30. Be3 Rd3 31. Qa4 Qa2 32. Rb8+? Another mistake. Correct is 32. Rc1 h5 33. Qa8+ Kg7 34. a4 Ra3 35. Qb7 and white holds on.

32… Kg7 33. Bf4 33. Kf1 Qa1+ 34. Ke2 Rxa3 wins for black.

33… Qa1+  This does not ruin anything.  But the nicest is 33… Bd4! and black wins very fast with the help of a pretty tactic. 34. Be3 Qa1+ 35. Kh2 and now we get to the nice moment.


Position after 35. Kh2 (analysis).  Black wins!

35…Rxe3!! 36. fxe3 Be5+ 37. g3 Qe1! (A really nice combination to explode white’s king shelter) 38. Kg2 Qxg3+ 39. Kf1 Qf3+ 40. Kg1 Qxe3+ 41. Kg2 d5! and it’s mop-up.  I missed a similar exploding tactic as black in a game posted elsewhere versus the venerable IM Sal Matera way back in 1977.

34. Kh2  Black is still winning.

34…Rxa3?   But not like this. Here black missed a beautiful shot: 34… g5!! 35. Bxe5+ (35. Bg3 Bxg3+ 36. fxg3 Rd1 wins) 35… Qxe5+ 36. g3 Rd2 and white has to resign.


Position after 36…Rd2 (analysis).  Black wins. 

The problem, of course, is that 37. Kg2 is rudely met by 37…Qe3! and the f2-pawn falls.

35. Qe4 Bxf4+?! The most accurate is 35… Ra4! 36. Bxe5+ dxe5 and black can torture for many moves. My play in this region of the game was very poor.

36. Qxf4 Qe5 37. Qxe5+ dxe5 38. h4! White reaches a position “every Russian schoolboy knows” to draw this 4 vs 3 rook ending. The rest of the game is not of interest; black manages to reach a drawn K & P vs K at the very end.

38…Ra7 39. g3 f5 40. Kg1 Re7 41. Kg2 Kf6 42. Rb6+ Re6 43. Rb7 Re7 44. Rb6+ Kg7 45. Rb8 Kh6 46. Rh8 Kh5 47. Kh3 e4 48. Rf8 Rd7 49. Re8 Kh6 50. Kg2 Kg7 51. Kf1 Kf6 52. Ra8 Rb7 53. Ra6+ Ke5 54. Ra8 Rc7 55. Re8+ Kf6 56. Ra8 Kg7 57. Re8 Kh6 58. Kg2 Kh5 59. Kh3 Rc2 60. Re7 h6 61. Rxe4 Rxf2 62. Re5 Rf3 63. Ra5 g5 64. Rxf5 Rxf5 65. g4+ Kg6 66. gxf5+ Kxf5 67. hxg5 hxg5 1/2-1/2