The Escape Artist

The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I had time last night for a brief discussion of the chess action happening this weekend. One of the topics discussed was the fact that the human World Champion played the Bishop’s Opening proper yesterday against Fabiano Caruano. As regular readers know, the BO, “The truth– as it was known in those far-off days,” according to Savielly Tartakower, has been one of my favorite openings ever since reading his quote in “500 Hundred Master games of Chess.” (see the book in GM Bryan Smith’s excellent article Magnus played the opening horribly, and lost. GM Yasser Seirawan questioned the moves of the World Human Champion, especially the move 11 Bg3. I questioned 13 h3, which allowed the Bishop to take the Knight, forcing White to capture with the f-pawn, disrupting the pawn structure in a horrible way. It is obvious things have gone terribly wrong after 14 fxg3. When Magnus played the move Qd8, after 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3, against Caruano at the Olympiad, I mentioned to Tim that players would now start playing the move, long discredited since Bobby Fischer beat Karl Robatsch in 20 moves at the Olympiad in Varna in 1962 and William Addison in 24 moves at the Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca in 1970, since Magnus had won the game. I also brought up the fact that before the HWC played the move, I had mentioned the possibility of purchasing the book, “The 3…Qd8 Scandinavian: Simple and Strong” by Daniel Lowinger and Karsten Müller, which brought ridicule from the Ironman. Last night I wondered aloud if players would now begin to play the BO because Magnus had played it. Before the Ironman could respond, I added, “Probably not since he lost.” Tim said, “The opening did not let Magnus down, Magnus let the opening down.”
One of the great things about chess is that a lesser player can question the moves of the great players. We may not often be right, but like that blind squirrel, we will occasionally find an acorn. Back in the day “BC” (before computers), we had to try and figure it out for ourselves. If a GM played a move, we accepted it as gospel. Today we turn on our “engine” and the “truth” is right in front of us. In a way this is a wonderful thing in that we now know if our move is better than the human World Champion. On the other hand, we now know that even the best human player is, well, human, and we humans make mistakes. As the Discman said, back in the day Grandmasters were “Gods.” Which makes me think of the famous speech by JFK in which he said, “…and we are all mortal.”

Schmuggy sent me an email last night after his game with Damir Studen, which I opened after noon:
Kevin Schmuggerow
Today at 1:09 AM
I had this one Michael, let it get away….
> e4 d5 ed Qd5 Nc3 Qa5 d4 c6 Bc4 Nf6 Ne2 g6 Bf4 Nd7 Qd2 Nb6 Bb3 Nbd4 Be5 Nc3 Nc3 Bg7 OOO OO h4 h5 f3 Ne8 Qg5 e6 Rhe1 Kh7 Qe7 Kg8 g4 Be5 Re5 Qc7 Qg5 Kg7 gh5 Rh8 Qg2 Rh6 Rg5 Qf4+ Kb1 Qh4 hg6 Rg6 Ne4 Rg5 Ng5 Kf6 f4 Nd6 Qf3 Qh6 Rh8 a5 a4 Ra6 Qc3 Ke7 Qc5 Bd7….Ne4 wins!! Mate in 7 (I played Rb8 and eventually got my rook trapped)

Looks strange without the numbers, does it not? Thinking the game would most likely have to be transcribed, I decided to hold off on going to the US Masters website until later. Fortunately, the whole game was provided. I broke out my trusty small wooden board and pieces and played over the game. Here are my thoughts…

Kevin Schmuggerow (1971) vs Damir Studen (2264)
USM Rd 3
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Bc4 Nf6 6. Nge2 g6 7. Bf4 Nbd7 8. Qd2 Nb6 9. Bb3 Nbd5 10. Be5 Nxc3 11. Nxc3 Bg7 12. O-O-O O-O 13. h4 h5 14. f3 Ne8 15. Qg5 e6 16. Rhe1 Kh7 17. Qe7 Kg8 18. g4 Bxe5 19. Rxe5 Qc7 20. Qg5 Kg7 21. gxh5 Rh8 22. Qg2 Rh6 23. Rg5 Qf4 24. Kb1 Qxh4 25. hxg6 Rxg6 26. Ne4 Rxg5 27. Nxg5 Kf6 28. f4 Nd6 29. Qf3 Qh6 30. Rh1 Qg6 31. Rh8 a5 32. a4 Ra6 33. Qc3 Ke7 34. Qc5 Bd7 35. Rb8 Qf5 36. Qe5 f6 37. Qxf5 exf5 38. Nh7 Bc8 39. c4 Be6 40. d5 cxd5 41. c5 Ne4 42. Rxb7 Bd7 43. c6 Rxc6 44. Nf8 Nc5 45. Ng6 Kd6 46. Rb5 Ra6 47. Bc2 Bxb5 48. axb5 Rb6 0-1

Wow, Damir was sooooooo busted! Poor Schmuggy…This game reminds me of many I played. If only IM Charles Hertan’s award winning book, “Forcing Moves” had been published in the 1970’s… Two things kept me from becoming a stronger player, one is not winning enough “won” games. The other will be discussed in a future post.
Damir’s 14th move looks weak. After 15 Qg5, white is all over him. After the obligatory 15…e6 Schmuggy played 16 Rhe1. I have to question this move. I mean, White is attacking the Kingside and threatening to open up the castled King position, so why move the Rook? I sat looking at this position quite a while…Obviously 16 g4 must be considered, but I wonder if this is one of those positions where a world class player would simply make a move like 16 Kb1? Then the thought hit me that Schmuggy could have played maybe 16 a3, but I like Kb1 better, but what do I know? One thing I have always taught my students is to count the total number of points one has in a sector, especially when one is on the attack. As it now stands White has a Queen, Rook, and Bishop, or 17 points, on the Kingside. Black has only a Rook, Bishop, and Knight, or 11 points. If White were to play 16 Ne4 he would have an additional 3 points, for a total of 20 points, versus 11. That is a huge disparity. And since Black has been forced to weaken himself with his last move, the Knight move takes advantage of the weakened dark squares. 16 Ne4 would be my move. Black would then be in “deep do.”
Schmuggy is right, 35 Ne4 brings the house down. It wins because it is a FORCING MOVE. The knight on d6 is PINNED. Another thing all chess teachers say is, “Pin to win.”

After going over the game I first went to the Chess Base database ( and 365chess ( to check out the opening. What I found was that Damir’s 7…Nbd7 is a TN. All games show 7…Bg7. Since the Scandinavian is Damir’s main (only?) defense to 1 e4 it is difficult to believe he came up with this move over the board. I must assume it was “home cooking.” It often happens that one can be burned while cooking at home.
Next it was put it into my now antiquated Houdini. I am sure you will do the same because that is what is done these daze. Some even put it into the machine before looking at it and thinking for themselves. Where is the fun in that? I find it shameful. After analyzing the game, my Houdini said, “The player with the Black pieces was the real Houdini in this game!”
What? Your computer program does not talk to you?

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes


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