Are Armageddon Chess Games Fair?

Armageddon:

1.
a. Bible In the book of Revelation, the place of the gathering of armies for the final battle before the end of the world.
b. The battle involving these armies.
2. A decisive or catastrophic conflict.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Armageddon

7th Norway Armageddon can be found at the Other events today section of the wonderful website, The Week In Chess, by Mark Crowther. (http://theweekinchess.com/) Mark has been providing Chess information since the “First issue 17th September 1994.” Yet Mark cannot display the games from the tournament in Norway. Why is that? Why does the Chess world continue repeatedly shooting itself in the foot? The reason is m-o-n-e-y. Refusing to allow Mark to display any kind of Chess information may be good for the organizers in the short term (although FIDE has continually proven the opposite yet continues attempting to gather all the spoils it can) but it cannot be good for the long term health of the organization. I refuse to follow any tournament not allowed to be displayed at TWIC. The Norway tournament was even easier to eschew because so-called “Armageddon Chess” is ridiculous. The fact organizers thought they had to resort to such nonsense is proof positive the Royal game of Chess in a decisive or catastrophic conflict with itself. I spent some time attempting to ascertain the name of the lunatic who first had the idea of playing Armageddon Chess, to no avail. Evidently there are enough lunatics involved with Chess to have helped facilitate foisting the Armageddon abomination upon we Chess fans. The research did produce a few items of interest. Consider something posted six months ago by BackrankPawn:

Are armageddon games fair?

In the unlikely event that the world championship goes to an armageddon game, would players prefer Black with 4 minutes and draw odds or white with 5 minutes? Is it roughly fair?

Why don’t they auction time for the draw odds?

*edit* I buried the lead. I wanted to figure out how much time the draw odds are worth. We could let the players decide by auctioning seconds for black and draw odds. Whoever spends more, gets that much time taken off but gets draw odds. Then there would be no complaints about coin flips.

Then there is this from Leonard Barden on Chess:

Armageddon divides fans while Magnus Carlsen leads again in Norway

Controversial speed format designed to prevent draws sparks a chaotic scramble at Altibox event and causes online uproar

Armageddon is a chess penalty shoot-out, a controversial format intended to prevent draws and to stimulate interesting play. It can also lead to chaotic scrambles where pieces fall off the board, players bang down their moves and hammer the clocks, and fractions of a second decide the result. That is what happened in Tuesday’s Levon Aronian v Alexander Grischuk game at Altibox Norway. The loser called it “among the top three most disappointing defeats in my life”.

In an Armageddon game White has more thinking time on the clock than Black but a draw on the board scores as a Black win. Normally White has five or six minutes and Black four or five for the entire game but in the current Altibox Norway tournament it is 10 against seven.
Lewis chessmen piece bought for £5 in 1964 could sell for £1m
Read more

In response to growing complaints about too many draws the Altibox organisers made a controversial decision this year to limit classical games to four hours and to replay draws immediately as Armageddons. The scoring system is 2 points for a classical win, 1.5 for a classical draw and an Armageddon win, 0.5 for a classical draw and an Armageddon loss and 0 for a classical loss.
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jun/07/chess-armageddon-divides-fans-while-magnus-carlsen-leads

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
R.E.M.
Produced by R.E.M. & Scott Litt

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane
Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs, don’t misserve your own needs
Speed it up a notch, speed, grunt, no, strength
The ladder starts to clatter with fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, representing seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left of west and coming in a hurry
With the Furies breathing down your neck
Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s the)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s the)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

[Verse 2]
Six o’clock, TV hour, don’t get caught in a foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, blood letting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a votive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh-oh
This means no fear, cavalier renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine
(I feel fine)

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine
56
[Verse 3]
The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck
Right? Right!

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine

[Bridge]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine

[Chorus]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine

[Outro]
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it
(It’s time I had some time alone)
And I feel fine
https://genius.com/Rem-its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-i-feel-fine-lyrics

Anna Muzychuk Plays Early Qe2 in the B31 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rossolimo Attack

In the post, Women’s Candidates Tournament underway, by Kevin Spraggett, published June 2, 2019, the Grandmaster writes about the second round game between Anna Muzychuk and Nana Dzagnidze. After the moves, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Qe2 !? we read, “Not the mainline according to ‘theory’, but quite possibly the best line! The Muzychuk sisters are always on the leading edge of new ideas in the openings.”

The Muzychuk sisters

previously played the Leningrad Dutch and I looked forward to any tournament in which they competed. Then they stopped playing the LD and I spent as much time with them as with yesterday’s newspaper…

Regular readers will immediately know what comes next but for those who know little of the AW I suggest simply putting “Qe2” in the question box and you will learn, grasshopper.

Inquiring minds will want to know if the Qe2 move in the game is “quite possibly the best line!”

Anna Muzychuk vs Nana Dzagnidze


Anna Muzychuk vs. Nana Dzagnidze | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

Women’s Candidate Tournament

Round 2

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Qe2

Kevin writes, “Not the mainline according to ‘theory’, but quite possibly the best line! The Muzychuk sisters are always on the leading edge of new ideas in the openings.” 6…O-O 7.d4 d5 8.e5 Ne4 9.Rd1! According to my database, a new move. I like it.”

We begin after, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 g6 (Stockfish prefers 3…e6) 4.O-O Bg7 5.c3 (Komodo 13.01 would play 5 Bxc6) 5…Nf6 (The Fish among programs would print out 5…e5)

And here we are: 6 Qe2. Six Re1 has been played most often according to the CBDB, showing 1675 games with the move, which is the choice of the Dragon. The move preferred by the Fish, 6 d3, has only been played a couple of dozen times. Six e5 has been played a couple of dozen times more than 6 Qe2, but fourteen fewer times than 6 Re1)

6…O-O 7. d4 d5 (7…cxd4 has been played most often, and it is the choice of SF 310519 at depth 31, but go one click deeper and the Fish changes it’s mind while deciding on the game move 7…d5)

8. e5 (Almost invariably played but Stockfish would play 8 exd5) Ne4 9. Rd1! (GM Spraggett writes, “According to my database, a new move. I like it.” According the the CBDB Stockfish 310519 at depth 29 would play 9 Be3, but Stockfish 10 at depth 28 would play 9 Rd1 TN)

The rest of the game: cxd4 10. cxd4 f6 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 fxe5 13. Nxe5 Qc7 14. Nd3 Bf5 15. Bf4 Qa5 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Nb4 Rac8 18. Rac1 Be4 19. Bg5 c5 20. dxc5 Qxc5 21. Be3 d4 22. Bxd4 Bxd4 23. Qxe4 Bxf2+ 24. Kh1 Qe3 25. Qc2 Rc5 26. Nd3 Rg5 27. Qb3+ Kg7 28. Nxf2 Rxg2 29. Qb7 Rxh2+ 30. Kxh2 Rxf2+ 31. Qg2 h5 32. Re1 Qd2 33. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 34. Kh1 e5 35. c4 g5 36. c5 g4 37. Rf1 Qh4+ 38. Kg1 Qg3+ 39. Kh1 Qh3+ 40. Kg1 Qe3+ 41. Kh1 Qe4+ 42. Kg1 g3 0-1

From this we can conclude Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett

is on to something when he writes, “The Muzychuk sisters are always on the leading edge of new ideas in the openings.”

I do not know if the sisters Muzychuk utilize the fantastic ChessBaseDataBase (https://database.chessbase.com/) but the CBDB provides anyone who does use it to find new, and/or different opening move choices galore, as shown regularly on this blog. The game with GM Spraggett’s annotations and comments can be found @ http://www.spraggettonchess.com/womens-candidates-tournament-underway/

Qe2 Versus The Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Qe2

According to the ChessBaseDataBase sixteen moves have been played more often against the Najdorf than 6 Qe2 yet the move Qe2 on the sixth move has outscored all of the other moves. Granted the Qe2 move has only been tried 58 times but has scored at a 62% level. The next closest move would be 6 a3 at 59% in the 123 games in which it has been the move of choice. The most often played sixth move for white has been 6 Be3 and there are currently over 19,000 games in which Be3 was played while scoring 55%.

In reply to 6 Qe2 both Stockfish and Komodo show 6…e5 as best. Although both Stockfish and Komodo have 7 Nb3 as best Houdini shows 7 Nf3, a move yet to appear, as the best move in the position. The move 7 Nb3 has only been played, as yet, one time!

P.R. Watson vs Alec Aslett

Combined Services-ch
England 2002
Round: 7 Score: 1-0
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Qe2 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.g3 Qc7 10.Bg2 Rc8 11.O-O-O Bc4 12.Qd2 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Bxb3 15.axb3 h6 16.Be3 f5 17.h4 Be7 18.Kb1 Nf6 19.Bh3 g6 20.h5 O-O 21.hxg6 Ne4 22.Qd3 Nc5 23.Bxc5 e4 24.Qd2 dxc5 25.d6 Bxd6 26.Qxd6 Qg7 27.Bxf5 c4 28.Bxc8 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=202700&m=14

The most often played move currently is 7 Nf5 and it has scored at a rate of 60%. Although 7…g6 has been the most often chosen move, the world computer program champion, Stockfish, prefers 7…d5.

Alfonso Romero Holmes (2501)- Pentala Harikrishna (2682)

ESP-chT Honor Gp2 2006

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Qe2 e5 7. Nf5 g6 8. Ne3 Be6 9. g3 h5 10. Bg2 h4 11. O-O Bh6 12. Rd1 hxg3 13. hxg3 Nc6 14. Qd3 Nd4 15. Ne2 Nxe2+ 16. Qxe2 Qe7 17. b3 Bxe3 18. Qxe3 Bh3 19. Bf3 Ng4 20. Qg5 Qxg5 21. Bxg5 f6 22. Bd2 O-O-O 23. Bb4 Kc7 24. Rd3 Nh6 25. Rad1 Nf7 26. Bg2 Bxg2 27. Kxg2 f5 28. Rc3+ Kd7 29. Re3 Ke6 30. c4 Rh7 31. Rh1 Rxh1 32. Kxh1 fxe4 33. Rxe4 g5 34. Kg2 b5 35. Bd2 Kf5 36. f3 Rc8 37. g4+ Kf6 38. Kf2 Nd8 39. Bb4 Rc6 40. Ke3 Ne6 41. Kd3 Nf4+ 42. Kd2 Ke6 43. Bc3 Rc8 44. Kc2 Ng6 45. cxb5 axb5 46. Rb4 Nf4 0-1

Attila Czebe (2487) – Vladimir Vojtek (2295)

TCh-SVK Extraliga 2010-11

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Qe2 e5 7. Nf5 d5 8. Bg5 d4 9. O-O-O Nc6 10. Qf3 Be6 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. Bxf6 Bxe4 13. Qxe4 Qxf6 14. Nxd4 Nxd4 15. Rxd4 g6 16. Bc4 Bh6+ 17. Kb1 O-O 18. Rd7 Rad8 19. Rxd8 Rxd8 20. Qxb7 Rd2 21. a4 a5 22. Re1 Rxf2 23. Qb8+ Kg7 24. Qxe5 Qxe5 25. Rxe5 Rxg2 26. Rxa5 Rxh2 27. Ra7 Rf2 28. a5 Be3 29. Re7 Bc5 30. Rc7 Rf5 31. a6 g5 32. Bd3 Re5 33. Rxc5 Rxc5 34. b4 Rc7 35. b5 g4 36. b6 g3 37. bxc7 g2 1-0

Here is a recent game played by The Gorm,

author of arguably the most honest Chess book ever written:

Daniel Gormally (2477) vs Richard Bates (2378)

Event: London CC Superblitz KO

London ENG 12/10/2017

B90 Sicilian, Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Qe2 Nbd7 7.g4 g6 8.Be3 Bg7 9.O-O-O O-O 10.h4 Ne5 11.f3 b5 12.h5 b4 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Qa5 15.Kb1 Qxd5 16.Nf5 Qe6 17.hxg6 fxg6 18.Nxg7 Kxg7 19.Bh6+ Kg8 20.Bxf8 Kxf8 21.Rxh7 Nf7 22.Qxe6 Bxe6 23.Bd3 g5 24.Re1 Ne5 25.Be4 Rc8 26.Rf1 Bg8 27.Rh5 Rc5 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4084218&m=13

Magnus Carlsen Being Human

“Looking at computer games it’s clear that we still have a very long way to go when thinking about long term compensation and such things, because simply we misjudge positions and we draw our conclusions too early. It’s not clear exactly how you can improve these things, but it’s very, very clear to see that we’ve only still scratched the surface of what is possible to do in chess, because we are human and we make mistakes.” – Magnus Carlsen

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/a-new-age-in-computer-chess-leela-beats-stockfish

Chaos Chess

Began reading Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Strategy and the Promise of AI,

by GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan

recently. I have only read a couple of chapters and have no intention of writing a review because the book has been reviewed by almost everyone but this writer.

Kaissa vs Chaos

World Computer Championship, Stockholm, 1974

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. d4 Bg4 6.
Be2 e6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 cxd4 9. Bxd4 e5 10. h3 exd4 11. hxg4 Bd6 12. cxd4 Nxg4
13. Nc3 Qh5 14. g3

(A critical moment. Castling king side is the sensible option, with a balanced game, but Black goes crazy instead!)

14…Kd7

15. Nh4 f5 16. d5 Nce5 17. Qc2 Rhf8 18. Bd3 (A slow move which gives Black chances for a counterattack)

Nxd3 19. Qxd3 Rae8 20. Nb5 f4 21. Nxd6 Kxd6 22. Qa3+ Kc7 23. Qxa7 Qf7 24. Rfc1+ Kd6 25.
Qc5+ Ke5 26. d6+ Ke6 27. Re1+ Ne3 28. gxf4 Qd7 29. f5+ Kf6 30. Rxe3 Rd8 31. Re7
Qa4 32. Qe5+ Kg5 33. Nf3+ Kg4 34. Rxg7+ Kh5 35. Qh2+ Qh4 36. Qxh4# 1-0

For those of you who wish to read a review before purchasing the book I heartily recommend the one by GM Jacob Aagaard

in the best Chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, issue 2019/3. Kudos to the people at NIC who make the decision as to what goes into the magazine, and what stays out. Aagard was nice about ripping the authors new ones, writing, “Game Changer is an interesting but often also frustrating read.” In addition he writes, “However, the structural problems the book suffers from are certainly to do with the two authors, two voices and at least two different directions.” There is more but I will not dwell on it other than to say reading the review caused me to purchase the book after reading, “The book gets into a better flow over the next hundred pages, before becoming coherent over the last 250+ pages that look seriously at AlphaZero’s games,” which is the basic reason for buying the tome.