Never Play f3

On page 136 of All The Wrong Moves,

by Sasha Cohen,

one of my favorite parts of the excellent book, a discussion between teacher, Ben Finegold,

and student, Cohen, can be found:

Never Play F3

Most of the time, it’s not a good move.

Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Face

“What did I tell you last lesson?”

“Never play f3.”

“And what did you do yesterday?”


“You fucking played f3!”

I’d played f3 in a tournament the day before, against Aleksey Kazakevich, a far superior opponent, rated about 1900. It was one of my best games. The whole thing resembled a drawn sumo match – we fell all over each other, creating one violent, sloshy hug, canceling each other’s aggression. The game ended in a draw. After the game, his son confronted him at the board.
“Why did you play for a draw, Dad?”
“I didn’t play for a draw. He just made no mistakes.”
Hearing this made me feel good about myself. But Finegold was not stunned by my game.
“Sure, you played good,” he said, “but your position was better than his, and maybe you could’ve won. And then you fucking played f3!”
“But, okay, you didn’t lose you pieces. Good job. Very good. Let’s talk about the next game, with Matt Barrett. I saw that game. I was disappointed, because you had a decent position, and then what did you do?”
“I played a sacrifice.”
“You played a fucking sacrifice! What was my rule?”
“Never sacrifice.”
“Then why did you do it?”
“I don’t know.”
“And you lost.”
“This is my life. People pay me to tell them things, and then I tell them, and they don’t listen. Even my wife. Every game she gets into time trouble. And I’m like, play faster! And she’s like, okay. And then she sits there, staring at her pieces.”
He sighed loudly and talked about his wife for a litte while, and then started talking about me again.
“Look. I’m an idiot, too, okay? It’s hard. Before the game, you have this idea about how you’re a great player. And then you get in there, and you’re a sweaty mess, and you’re nervous, and you forget everything you know. You know what Mike Tyson said?”
“Um, ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee?”
“No, he said everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
“So how do I deal with that?”
“You mean, like, how do you retain your plan when you get punched in the face?”
“Get punched in the face more.”

If you play Chess you will be hit in the face, upside the head, and generally knocked around and punched all over, even getting the shit kicked out of you, metaphorically, of course, over the board. To become good at Chess one simply MUST get up again and again like Cool Hand Luke, who, even though down refused to stay down, even with everyone shouting, “Stay down, Luke, stay down.”


This post is not about getting slugged but about shooting yourself in the foot…by needlessly moving the f-pawn.

IM Teja S. Ravi (2464) – GM  Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (2602)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 05

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 a6 6. O-O Nc6 7. e3 Rb8 8. Nfd2 e5 9. Bxc6+ bxc6 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. Nxc4 Be6 12. Nbd2 Bb4 13. b3 (13 Qe2! Just sayin’…) 13…h5

14. f3? (How bad is this move? Before the move white had a nice advantage of about 3/4 of a pawn, according to Stockfish, which Ravi could have maintained with the best move, 14 Qc2, or even 14 Qe2. After fatally moving the f-pawn Ravi was down about half a pawn) 14…Nxe3 15. Nxe3 Qd4 16. a3 Be7 17. Qc2 Qxe3+ 18. Kg2 h4 19. Ne4 Qxb3 20. Qxc6+ Bd7 21. Qxc7 hxg3 22. h4 Rc8 23. Nd6+ Bxd6 24. Qxd6 Rxh4 25. Bd2 Rc6 26. Rab1 Rxd6 0-1 (

IM Raymond Song (2478) vs GM Maxim Matlakov (2698)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 05

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Qxd4 a6 6. Bxd7+ Bxd7 7. c4 e6 8. Nc3 Nf6 9. Bg5 Bc6 10. O-O Be7 11. Qd3 O-O 12. Nd4 Rc8 13. b3 Qa5 14. Bd2 Qh5

15. f3? (This gives the advantage to black. White retains a small advantage with 15 Re1) 15…Rfd8 16. Rad1 Be8 17. Rfe1 h6 18. Kh1 Nd7 19. Be3 Qa5 20. Bd2 Qc5 21. Be3 Qa5 22. Bd2 Qc5 23. Be3 Qc7 24. Qd2 Nf6 25. Rc1 b6 26. Qf2 Qb7 27. a4 Nd7 28. Qg3 Kh7 29. Red1 Nc5 30. Rb1 Bf6 ½-½ (

Never Play f3 or f4!

GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2698) vs LTGM Natalija Pogonina (2479)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 05

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. e3 Be7 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 b6 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Rc1 a6 10. g3 Bb7 11. Bg2 Bd6 12. O-O Re8 13. Nd2 Rb8 14. Qc2 b5 15. Rfe1 h6 16. Ne2 Ne4

17. f3? (Chucky tosses away his advantage with this ill chosen move. 17 Nf4 retains the advantage)
17…Nxd2 18. Qxd2 c5 19. dxc5 Nxc5 20. Nf4 Bf8 21. Red1 Qg5 22. Nxd5 Qxd5 23. Qxd5 Bxd5 24. Rxd5 Rxe3 25. Bf1 Nb7

26. f4? (White is winning after 26 Be5, according to Stockfish, which gives the following variation to justify the 1.8 advantage given to the white position 26. Be5 Ba3 27. Rc2 Re8 28. f4 Re1 29. Kf2 Rb1 30. Rc6 f6 31. Rxa6 Bc5+ 32. Bd4 Bxd4+ 33. Rxd4 b4 34. Rxb4 Nc5 35. Ra7 Rb2+ 36. Kf3 Rxh2) 26…Ree8 27. Bh3 Rbd8 28. Rxd8 Rxd8 29. Rc2 Nc5 30. Kf1 b4 31. Bg2 a5 32. Bc6 Nd3 33. Bb5 ½-½

A note on Pogo’s title, “LTGM.” Pogonina “earned” the WFM title back in 2001; the WIM title in 2002; and the WGM title in 2004, according to her official FIDE page ( There is no mention of what title she would hold if compared against all other Chess players, regardless of sexual orientation, at the FIDE website. From this point forward I refuse to use any title beginning with a “W”. Therefore, since the WGM title is a much lesser title than simply GM, a title every player, regardless of sex, is able to obtain, I have chosen to call Pogonina a “Lesser Than GM.” I considered using “LTGMBMTIM,” which stands for, “Lesser Than Grandmaster But More Than International Master,” but I have no idea if the woman is “more than an IM.” Maybe a WGM should be considered an IM, but who knows for certain? Someone recently mentioned something about a woman rated 1800 something who is a WIM! This kind of thing obviously denigrates the title(s). It is way past time to do away completely with any title beginning with “Woman.”

GM Fernando Peralta (2574) vs GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2770)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 05

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O Na5 11. Bd3 b6 12. e5? Bb7 13. Nf4

13…f6? (There are many better moves in this position. Stockfish shows both 13…Rc8 and 13…e6 best. The Fish also shows 13…cxd4 and 13…Qd7 are better than Shak’s poor move. Thing is, Mamedyarov was the top rated player in the field. He later became ill and withdrew from the tournament. Maybe he became ill after reviewing this game? His 13…f6 does leave one feeling sick) 14. Qg4 fxe5 15. Nxg6 hxg6 16. Qe6+ Rf7 17. Bxg6 Qe8 18. dxe5 Bc8 19. Qd5 Bb7 20. Qe6 Bc8 21. Qd5 Bb7 ½-½

There are exceptions to every rule

GM Ivan Cheparinov (2686) vs GM Maksim Chigaev(2616)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 04

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Be3 b6 11. h4 e6 12. h5 Qh4 13. hxg6 hxg6

In this position it is mandatory to play: 14. f3 Bb7 15. Qd2 cxd4 16. cxd4 Qe7 17. Rad1 Rac8 18. Bg5 Qd6 19. Bb5 a6 20. Bxc6 Qxc6 21. Qe3 Qb5 22. Rd2 Rfe8 23. e5 Rc4 24. Kf2 f6 25. exf6 Bf8 26. Qf4 Qf5 27. Qh4 e5 28. Rh1 Kf7 29. Qh7+ Ke6 30. Qg8+ 1-0



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