Crossfire Hurricane

On August 18th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 captured four different storms churning in the skies above North America.

The satellite captured aerial views of hurricanes Grace and Linda, along with tropical storms Fred and Henri. The satellite image also showed swirling billows of smoke streaming across the western U.S. from several major fires in California.
North America is surrounded by 4 storms and wildfire smoke in this satellite view

It was like a lyric from that Rolling Stones song Jumpin’ Jack Flash about being born in a “crossfire hurricane.”

However, I also was thinking of a biblical scripture in Revelation that says:

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”

Selected Games of Peter Romanovsky By Sergei Tkrachenko: A review

This is a stupendous book, breathtaking in its sheer scope of historically magisterial splendor. This is not only one of the best Chess books I have ever read, but one of the best books, period. This moving book grips a reader like a novel,

while reminding this reader of one of the most famous movies that caused the girls to swoon at the mention of Omar Sharif, and the boys to fall in love with Julie Christie:

This magnificent Chess book evokes those memories. Set against the backdrop of war, revolution, and more war, the Royal game is the thread that runs through the book. The author is Sergei Tkachenko

and it gets the very strongest stamp of approval from the AW. Other books by the author have been reviewed on this blog; all of them excellent. I would like to bring your attention to two of them: Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution: A Review (

and Yakov Vilner First Ukrainian Chess Champion and First USSR Chess Composition Champion: A Review (

All of these books, and more reviewed on this blog, have been published by the Elk & Ruby Publishing House. ( Reading and reviewing many of the fine books published over the past few years has been a privilege. Although it seems like yesterday the publisher, Ilan Rubin, sent the first book to be reviewed it has actually been a few years and in that time Elk & Ruby has become a powerhouse in the world of Chess books.

The Selected Games of P.A.Romanovsky is a wonderful historical book which details how Russia came to be a Chess powerhouse. After reading the book you will understand why “Every Russian cab driver…” is a strong Chess player. Chess is in their blood like vodka. The Russian Chess juggernaut did not just happen. Much blood, sweat, and tears was spilled to become the preeminent Chess power on the earth. How and why that happened is contained in this wonderful book. Without knowing where you have been you cannot know where you are, much less where you are going. After reading this book you will know not only where you are in relation to Chess, but why you are there. Without the Russians, about whom you will read in this book, Chess as we know it would not exist.

Some may ask, especially those who have not read the classics, and become champions without knowing the history of the Royal game, “Why should I read this book about a player who lived a century ago?” Master of Sport Lev Abramov

answers the question in the second part of the book when he writes, “Romanovsky spent much time with the first Russian world champion Alexander Alekhine,
Alekhine v Capablanca

as well as playing Lasker, Capablanca and other chess heavyweights of the first decades of the 20th century. At the same time, the outstanding talent of Soviet world champion Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik – Russiapedia Sport Prominent Russians

grew right before his eyes. P.A. Romanovsky was himself the Soviet Union chess champion and managed to bring up a host of Soviet masters. Among his students since their school years were V. Alatortsev, F. Lisitsin, V. Checkover, G. Ravinsky, to name a few. All in all, it would be hard to name a grandmaster or master whose winding sporting or teaching career paths never turned in the direction of the most ardent preacher of chess art for support or advice.”

The book is divided into three parts. Part one is one hundred seventy pages of, “The Biography of Peter Romanovsky, by Sergei Tkachenko. Part 2 is, “Pages from My Career – An Autobiographical Sketch,” consisting of thirty pages. The third part of the book contains the “Selected Games, by Peter Romanovsky,” which is one hundred seventy five pages of enough Chess ‘meat’ to have satisfied Senior Master Brian McCarthy, may he rest in peace.

The book begins with the header:

We Do Not Forget Our Heroes!

“While digging through the dusty archives, my conviction grew even stronger that life sometimes writes tragedies and dramas that are far more captivating than any stories made up by human authors. The biography of the chess great Peter Arsenyevich Romanovsky
Piotr Romanovsky, tan cerca de la locura, tan lejos

is one such story. His life history begs for a movie adaptation.”

Who was Peter Romanovsky and how did he come to be one of the most famous players in Russia and later the éminence grise of Chess?

“Chess historian Isaak Romanov, who knew Romanovsky well, described the family’s chess atmosphere in his book Peter Romanovsky: “Peter grew up in a house where everyone, from the oldest to the youngest, loved chess. Maria Alexandrovna didn’t just encourage the children’s passion: she took part in the home battles as well.”

“In 1906, the All-Russian Tournament was held in St. Petersburg, with his idol, Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin,

Ajedrez, la lucha continúa: Mikhail CHIGORIN - The ...
Ajedrez, la lucha continúa: Mikhail CHIGORIN

taking part. His older brother, Alexander Romanovsky, played too, sharing 6th and 7th prize. After each round, Alexander showed the games to his younger brother and described the tournament’s events.

“Unfortunately, this tournament was marred by a huge scandal. After an incident in round 4, Chigorin dropped out. The reason for this was the tournament committee’s decision to award a win to Stefan Izbinsky in his game against Chigorin because of the latter’s loss on time. This controversial decision was made retroactively by the arbiters, after the actual game ended with Izbinsky resigning in a hopeless position. Later, it was determined that the clock was faulty, more than five minutes fast. Chigorin’s appeal to reverse the decision was rejected, so the maestro walked out. This was despite the fact that Izbinsky thought that the committee’s verdict was wrong and he was ready to accept defeat.

After this incident, Alexander took his younger brother to the tournament. Romanovsky would recall his feelings about this chess feast in future lectures and meetings:
“I was very upset that I wouldn’t see Chigorin play, and my interest in the tournament dropped sharply. At the time, high school students weren’t allowed to visit clubs and other public places in the evening. So, I had to take off my school uniform and don casual clothes to go and watch the chess…
The round was over. The barriers were removed, and the spectators sat down around the tables, discussing the finished games with the players. Grigory Gelbak and my brother also started their post-mortem.
Then a group of people entered the hall, headed by a tournament committee member, the well-known chess patron N. Saburov. The hall suddenly fell silent. Whispers rustled like the wind, ‘Chigorin!’ And until the group entered the adjacent hall, everyone’s eyes followed him…”

After Bobby Fischer defeated the Russian Boris Spassky

for the World Chess Championship in 1972 he was flown in by Bill Church,

the owner of Church’s Fred Chicken for the last round of the Church’s Fried Chicken San Antonio 1972 Chess tournament (


The last round was delayed because of the late arrival of Bobby Fischer. My opponent in the last round of one of the lower sections, in which play had started, was Bill Church, who asked if he could stop the clock to go greet Bobby. “Only if I can go with you!” I said. When Bobby finally appeared all the clocks were stopped and “Whispers rustled like the wind, and everyone’s eyes followed him…” Then everyone, and when I say everyone, that includes the Soviet Grandmasters Paul Keres, Former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian,
Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian with the Piatigorskys at the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup
1963 (

and future World Champion Anatoly Karpov,

stood, and began to clap, giving Bobby a standing ovation.

Back to the book…

“Half an hour later, Chigorin again appeared in the hall, alone this time. Gelbak rushed up to him and asked him to look at his game against A. Romanovsky…”

This “look” lasted for almost an hour! Peter sat beside Chigorin this whole time, watching his analysis and severe criticism of the “creativity” of both players. Peter’s older brother bore the brunt of this criticism – he had failed to convert a large positional advantage. This was his first and only meeting with his idol (Shakmaty v SSSR, No. 5, 1959)

In April of 1909 P.A. Romanovsky participated in the St. Petersburg Chess Assembly Tournament, coming third after Levenfish, who finished with 12 out of a possible 13 points; and Platz, who finished with 10. Romanovsky was a point behind in clear 3rd place.

“Peter Romanovsky severely criticized his own performance, not seeking excuses in fatigue or a busy school schedule. He thought that the main reason for his poor showing was an “ultra-combinational inclination”, trying to orchestrate a direct attack on the king in every game above all else. This strategy hurt his opening preparation, as well as his ability to painstakingly defend or accumulate small positional advantages.

“Those were typical growing pains. Romanovsky would explain them by the fact that he started his chess career immediately in first-category tournaments, bypassing the usual qualification ladders…As soon as he recognized and clearly formulated his shortcomings, Romanovsky set off to eradicate them. This was a painful period of re-education. Temperament would push the young player to attempt combinations for combination’ sake, but reason commanded him to build a healthy positional basis first. He managed to achieve full harmony in his play years later. Only in the early 1920s, by his own admission, did he finally reach chess maturity.” (Romanov, Peter Romanovsky itl)

Romanovsky himself would describe this period of chess “rebuilding’ in Selected Games in the following way: “I accepted this evaluation as a fair assessment of my performance. It gradually came to me that my play was one-sided and that I was no good at positional planning.” Conversations with Alekhine, who insisted that a combination be totally sound, became an important influence, as he describes in that work.

The 1914 Mannheim

Mannheim 1914 and the Interned Russians, by Anthony Gillam ...

super-tournament went down in chess history as one of the most dramatic events of all time – because of the unenviable fate of the Russian players, interned by the German authorities after World War I broke out. The war began. All tournaments were stopped. As they say, muses fall silent when cannons talk.

Peter Romanovsky was one of the players interned. A fascinating account of their captivity by Fyodor Bogatyrchuk

Fedir Bohatyrchuk - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

in his book My Life Path to Vlasov and the Prague Manifesto (San Francisco 1978).

“I quickly gathered my belongings and headed to the tournament committee office. Along the way, I saw a mob trying to lynch a captured spy. As I came closer, I realized, to my horror, that this ‘spy’ was Peter Romanovsky, who was also playing in a tournament there. When Peter was stopped, he tried to explain that he was just there to play chess in the only language he knew, Russian. The unintelligible words were reason enough for the mob, which had lost even a semblance of common sense, to beat him up. Luckily for Peter, I saw a tournament committee member nearby, ran up so him and pleaded to intervene. Together, we managed to rescue Peter from the furious Germans after some struggle.”

Like I said, this book reads like a movie…For example, later it is written: “The second year of the war started. Battles required more and more sacrifices. Shakhmatny Vestnik printed reports about chess player deaths. The grimaces of war couldn’t help but affect the public speeches of chess terminology and comparing the positions on a chess board with the situation of the front. The world was losing its mind!”

Next came the revolution:,1)/striking-putilov-workers-on-the-first-day-of-the-february-revolution-st-petersburg-russia-1917-artist-anon-464434763-58e846325f9b58ef7ec66691.jpg

“Events unfolded quickly in 1917. The monarchy fell in February, and the Provisional Government, eventually led by Kerensky, came to power. In October, it was toppled by the Bolsheviks, who seized power through an armed insurrection. But Kerensky wasn’t going to give up. There were pitched battles with artillery in Petrograd and in its outskirts.
Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd 1917

The bloodbath among civilians was beginning. The Shakmatny Vestnik magazine, the main source of chess news of the time, closed in 1917 because of a lack of funds. The period between late 1917 and the early 1920s was one of the hardest in the history of Petrograd and probably only the Siege of Leningrad in World War II is comparable. (AW note: St. Petersburg became Petrograd in 1914 during the first World War; the name was changed again in 1924 to Leningrad) It’s not hard to infer how Peter Romanovsky fared in those times. It was another severe test of resilience, yet chess maintained his spirits.”

How bad were things during the winter of 1919? “Electricity was turned on only in select communities, for a couple of hours or so. In autumn, some days in Petrograd are completely dark. There are no candles, no kerosene, no firewood. A box of matches would cost 100 rubles. You can imagine how this forced idleness, brought about by constant darkness, affects the psyche of those suffering, already tormented by cold and hunger. Lots of people have died. Many have gone insane, but nobody pays any notice.”

“The Civil War destroyed almost all the chess clubs. The All-Russian Chess Union lost its connections with the regions and dissolved. Its “engine”, Boris Malyutin, died in unclear circumstances after joining the White movement.”

Now I would like you to stop for a moment to reflect upon that which you have just read…We all know what a power house the Soviet Union came to be later under the yoke of communism and the Russian boot. But still, the ancient game of Chess has become to be if not the most, one of the most popular board games that has ever been played, and it did so from the smoldering embers and ruins of the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution!

Not everyone was behind the Chess movement. Consider, “Five years later, one of the editors, Daniil Gessen, would describe the birth of the first Soviet chess periodical in Shakhmatny Listok (“Chess Sheet”) (No. 8, 1926): “There are only a few of us who remember the condescending looks and polite, compassionate phrases we got while trying to restore chess life.”

One of the people who continued to fan the embers of Chess was Peter Romanovsky, as “…after much effort From Romanovsky and his friends, the first issue of Shakhmatny Listok was printed on 1st August 1922. It became the mouthpiece for the Petrograd Chess Assembly. Peter Romanovsky was one of the main “workhorses” of the magazine – he wrote articles, annotated games, and edited three sections: theoretical, educational and provincial. And the master still found time to play in tournaments and matches!”

And he did this while being “very busy at his job.” Because “Peter Romanovsky played a direct role in all those efforts to save the country’s economy and banking system.”

Then came a conflict between Petrograd and Moscow as to how Chess should develop in the All-Russian Chess Union. “After the conference, Peter Romanovsky published an editorial called “The Revolutionary movement in Russian Chess Art” in Shakhmatny Listok, where he attempted to prove that the Petrograd way was the correct one: “The Soviet Republic is not afraid of barricades. But we should welcome the fact that chess has stirred the masses so much that they are almost ready to man actual barricades.”

District 8 plays Man the Barricades in rehearsal
We were lost in a land of dreams
Standing on a sidewalk paved with glitter
Caught between two extremes
Hoping to find some gems amid the litter
But the fabric rips
And the balance tips
And we feel our grip slipping away
Man the barricades
Man the barricades
Lock the door and draw the shades
Helicopters search the streets
Chasing desperate shadows down the alley
Daytime soldiers all retreat
To their sanctuary in the valley
And the burned out stores
Sit like open sores
From the summer wars, they’re coming again
Man the barricades
Man the barricades
Lock the door and draw the shades
All the signs have fallen to the curbside
Broken glass beneath our feet
Now the wolves have come out of hiding
They’re running through our street
Man the barricades
Man the barricades
Lock the door and draw the shades

Still, it was not like the Royal Game grew exponentially. Consider this, written about the match for the Soviet Championship between Peter Romanovsky and E. D. Bogoljubov

Elk & Ruby

in 1924. The question was asked, “‘Why is this important?’ an indifferent, ordinary Leningrad resident might ask. Chess is still alien to the masses, it’s beyond their day-to-day scope of life. Almost all newspapers run a chess column, but for the majority of the readers, the phrases such as ‘King’s Gambit, ‘long castling’ or ‘e2-e4’ are as comprehensible as Egyptian hieroglyphics.”

And from that it became known all over the world that every “Russian school boy and cab driver plays better Chess than YOU!”

Romanovsky told us what he thought about Chess when he wrote in Shakmatny Listok: “I’ll dare to share some of my creations with the reader. I like combinations, moreover, the chess art charms me most when a strong combination suddenly explodes on the board.”

Chess also exploded among the masses with, The 1925 Moscow International Tournament became an important event both in Peter Romanovsky’s life and the whole country’s history! By the most conservative estimates, about 50,000 people visited the tournament. for the first time in chess history, a tournament of such a scale was funded by the government – the state allocated 30,000 rubles for its organization (a huge sum at the time0, and all the foreign greats received a royal welcome – funded by the state too, of course. Vsevolod Pudovkin made the movie Chess Fever,

starring Capablanca, which still captures the exciting atmosphere around the tournament. (There is a footnote here, “Sadly the lead actor, Vladimir Fogel, committed suicide just four years later, aged 26 or 27)

I can’t avoid the temptation to quote the author of the famous Kolyma Tales, about life in the GULAG, Varlam Shalamov: “The 1925 Moscow International Tournament had great promotional value. It created enormous momentum for the chess movement in the USSR. Watch the comedy movie filmed during the tournament – there are almost no exaggerations in it. It seemed that the whole of Moscow was playing chess. The chess circles were growing at the factories, in the schools, thousands of novices were making their first ever chess move, e2-e4.”

Chess Fever caused a chain reaction. The regions got infected with the game, and chess became the main pastime of the entire USSR. I think that the winning epoch of post-war Soviet chess is a direct consequence of the 1925 chess fever.”

Romanovsky’s job in the State Bank almost prevented him from playing in an international event ever again. One day before the start, he was still in Leningrad, processing accounts. This time, however, the bank director didn’t risk holding up his subordinate – the tournament was sponsored by the state!”

One of the most interesting parts of the book was the battle between Romanovsky and Nikolai Krylenko. “Romanovsky’s two year-long conflict with the all-powerful Nikolai Krylenko

The Life & Execution of Nikolai Krylenko - spraggettonchess
The Life & Execution of Nikolai Krylenko

continued in 1929 as well. We’ll tell you about the new round of their confrontation in due time.”

“Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938) was a Soviet government official who held various posts throughout his career, including briefly becoming the entire Red Army’s supreme commander in 1917. In 1931, when he addressed the crowd with this speech at the 7th USSR chess championship, he was the Justice Minister of the Russian SFSR and, ever the chess enthusiast, the head of the Soviet Chess and Checkers Section and chief editor of the 64 magazine.” (

In addition, “Russian Commissar for War in the first Bolshevik Government and later a Commissar for Justice in the USSR. Krylenko may have done more than anyone else to popularize chess. As Chairman of the chess section of the All-Union Council for Physical Recreation, he was largely responsible for persuading the Soviet Government to sponsor chess and he also organized the great Moscow tournaments of 1925, 1935 and 1936.” (

Obviously, Nikolai Krylenko was a very powerful man.

The Life & Execution of Nikolai Krylenko - spraggettonchess
The Life & Execution of Nikolai Krylenko

The battle between Romanovsky and Krylenko began when Romanovsky wrote an article criticizing the horrible conditions of a tournament administered by Krylenko. “When Peter Romanovsky learned about this backstage decision that went against the championship regulations, he dropped out of the final in disgust, writing a letter to that effect. After he calmed down, he tried to disavow his decision, but it was too late.” Krylenko disqualified Romanovsky from playing chess for one year.

The we read, “1938 went down in Soviet chess history not only as the year when Romanovsky tried to return to top-level chess. In late January, the era of Nilolai Krylenko was over. He was arrested and later executed as an “enemy of the people.”

Peter Romanovsky died on the first day of March, 1964.

Before that, “There are only a few mentions of Peter Romanovsky in the chess press of the two pre-war years (the Soviet Union only entered the Second World War on 22nd June 1941, when Germany invaded). It’s obvious why: the doctors expressly forbade him from taking part in tournaments!”

After his second wife died Romanovsky developed a heart condition which precluded him from playing chess during 1936 and 1937. He returned but was a shadow of what he used to be. Then we read:

“The first letter was written by Peter Arsenyevich on 21st January 1941, still five months before the war began: “The horrible heart disease that struck me in 1939 has wreaked havoc on my body. I’ve been living under strict medical control for two years. I have to keep myself safe, even though it sounds most boring. I have four daughters: Kira (17 years old), Svetlana (16), Rogneda (14), and Anna or Anya, who id five. They have no mother. She died giving birth to my last daughter… We are friends. Quarrels are very rare.”

“The German troops invaded deep into the USSR in the first months of war.

On 8th September, the Wehrmacht soldiers reached the outskirts of Leningrad and cut it off from the rest of the country. The siege, or blockade as it is known in Russia, began. It was to last for 872 days. Communications with Leningrad were only sustained by air and across Lake Ladoga.”

“As I noted earlier, a possible reason for the failure to evacuate Romanovsky’s family was the NKVD’s investigation of the “Schneideman case.” The master may have been subject to a travel ban, and then it was too late to leave the city.”

“Romanovsky: “Huge nervous energy allows me to survive my heart problems pretty well. Psychologically, these heart irritations don’t cause me much trouble-I just don’t have time for them. There’s only one thought in my head, as in any other person’s – to destroy the Nazis. This thought never leaves my head, not for a minute, not for a second. You feel inspired to do any kind of work you have enough strength for.”

“Even in the hardest of times, when the fate of the country was at stake, chess life in Leningrad continued. In late June, Peter Arsenyevich was appointed director of the city chess club.”

Pause for a moment to cogitate after reading the above…

“Romanovsky’s last letter from Leningrad was dated 15th December: there’s that stupid word, ‘MUST’, and you have to dedicate everything to it. I am personally suffering, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I haven’t gone outside for quite a while. I’m writing now, and my hands are going numb – it’s only minus 19 degrees in the room. Minus 20 (Both measures in Celsius) outside. I sawed a couple of tables to get more fuel for the small stove. Closed one of the rooms of my flat, we’re now huddling very close. In the evenings, which begin after 3 p.m., we have to make do with an oil lamp I made myself. The girls have to walk to the Physical Education Committee canteen and bring soup i cans. Poor little things, they have to stand in ling lines in freezing cold for hours, but even my amazing Anka, who is now sitting behind me and drawing with colored crayons, says firmly and resolutely, ‘I’m ready to do everything for our Red Army soldiers.’ She carefully watches us to prevent us from depriving ourselves of bread for her sake, and she’ll never eat a piece of bread given to her by others…”

“I’m still working on my chess writings at every possible opportunity, using every free minute. Agnessa Vasilyevna (third wife-AW) is lying down, for instance, Anya is drawing, the girls are out for the soup, and I grab chess and notebooks like a maniac and feverishly jot down one thought after another. I still flatter myself with the hope that it will be useful for posterity. At the moment, I’m working on an article that is, in a way, the dream of all my chess life, titled ‘Idolatry and Fetishism on the Paths of Development of Chess Thought’. It’s a very difficult, but productive subject, mostly touching upon conservatism in chess thought.”
“Romanovsky sent his next letter three months later, with a different sender’s address on the envelope: “21st March 1942. I’m currently in the railway hospital in Alexandrov, 120 km from Moscow. Because of my ill state, I was dropped off the evacuee train there. In Leningrad, a catastrophe befell my family. Agnessa Vasilyevna died on 6th January, Svetlana on 10th January, my sweetheart, Anya on 14th January, Rogneda on 22nd January, and Kira on 26th January. I alone survived…Five dates will always drag my thoughts back to the snowy, snarling, uncaring Leningrad, to my five little corpses…My anguish is unbearable. Half an hour before her death, my Anya smiled and said, “Daddy, my dear, sweet daddy, we almost managed to fly south.’ Then she fell silent, and soon opened her eyes, shuddered and stiffened…After my last girl, Kirochka, died, I sat down to write my new, most difficult historical work.”

All the man had left was chess…

“In 1985, Shakmaty v SSSR published an article titled “He was a Leningrader“. It was written by the master’s son Viktor Romovsky, born in February 1945. The article was based on his father’s recollections and surviving siege notebooks.”

“January 1942. Leningrad is besieged. Cold and hunger. Bombs and missiles exploding on the streets. They reach Krestovsky Island as well; the building where my father lives with his family is standing there. Just a short while earlier, his daughters would walk through the entire city, to the other bank of the Neva, to pick up soup and a piece of bread from the sports Committee cafeteria. Now nobody goes anywhere – they are too weak. Nothing remains in the house except for books and notebooks, the coveted notebooks…There’s no firewood, all furniture has been burned. Their only food is potato peel broth, but it’s not enough…

On 31st January 1942, he wrote on the first page of notebook number 15 in crisp letters: ‘In the space of 20 days, the harsh reality has killed my entire family. On 6th January 1942, Asya (56 years old) died, on 10th January – Svetlana (17 years old), on 14th January – Anya, my sweetheart! (6 years), and on 22nd January – Rogneda (15 years old), and on 26th January Kira (18 years old). Why must I live on, why has fate spared me, and is it for long? The only way to live on for me it to work. And so, until death grabs me by the throat, I will work on my new book, Selected Games. They were selected in the context of historical processes…I mean the historical process of development of chess thought. To reflect it through annotating characteristic games of various stages of chess history – this is the approximate goal I set for myself.’ I’s cold. His hands are going numb. But there’s nothing to burn in the stove, and he has to conserve his strength for work. On the other hand, cold is a good thing – behind the glass door, on the veranda, lie the frozen bodies of his beloved… As though they are still alive.”

“P. A. Romanovsky’s autobiography is of an instructive and interesting nature. It gives noteworthy flashbacks to pre-revolutionary chess life and a description of the first steps that formed the future of Soviet chess culture. The author brings back some of Alekhine’s observations, as well as episodes from various competitions. The most important aspect of the autobiography, of course, is the story of how the Russian master’s mindset and creative approach were formed, seen in the light of almost half a century’s service to chess art.”

It can be, and has been said that Peter Arsenyevich Romanovsky was the “Father of Soviet Chess.”

Included in Part one is a section, Chess Poetry. “To say that Peter Romanovsky loved chess composition is to say nothing. Peter Arsenyevich loved all manifestations of chess creativity, and chess poetry was very much within his circle of interests!”

“As an over-the-board player, Peter Romanovsky liked ideas taken from actual chess games. In his article “For the New and Progressive in Chess Composition,” the master encourages chess poets to be “closer to the common folk”: “An important reason for our chess composition’s big failures is the lingering insularity of composers, their desire to stay within the circle of canons and rules they themselves devised. Some composers say that these canons naturally grew out of historical traditions. Of course, classical traditions are a good thing, but classics aren’t just examples of creativity – they uncover the directions of further historical development. Didn’t L. Kubbel and A. Troitsky reflect practical ideas in their compositions? They valued the depth of ideas, artistic form, moving forward.”

Two years earlier, he told the magazine readers how he almost became a study composer before the revolution! A study-like endgame occurred in his game with Richard Platz (Black) in the 1916 Petrograd first-category tournament… Romanovsky writes: “After 55 moves of very sharp struggle, our game came to a curious position.

White to move

I played 56.a5, thinking that this move gave me good winning chances. After getting the pawn to a7, I wanted to play Ke1-f2, threatening to capture the bishop. Platz’s beautiful and unexpected answer immediately brought me back to earth.”

The following section is titled, “Pupils Remember Their Teacher,” and the short section is one of my favorite parts of the book. “I remember Romanovsky once holding a concert for us: it turned out that he was a skilled balalaika player and knew a lot of classical music. He also read his poems. One of his poems, The Old Wolf, was deeply autobiographical. An outstanding master and wit, Abram Yakovlevich Model once combined the playing and coaching sides of Peter Romanovsky in an epigram, written before the war:

When under Peter’s attacks
Masters dropped like flies,
The audience would moan,
“Such a great champion!”

And when a young candidate
Occasionally checkmates him,
The audience would cheer rapturously,
“Such a talented teacher!” (The original rhymed.)

After reading the above I reached out to my friend Dennis ‘The Chess Poet’ Fritzinger ( asking him if he could produce a poem to go with this review. I am honored to share it with you:

The Old Wolf

Not as spry as he used to be,

the old wolf still benefits

from his years of experience.

He still has a place

in the clan,

and still shares meat

with them.

It is not for him

to join the hunt

any more,

but to stay behind

and watch after the younglings.

His hearing and eyes

are still sharp,

and he knows the quickest way

to safety.

If need be

he will sacrifice himself

for the good of the clan.

He may be old,

but he’s still

a wolf.

Game number 50, Alekhine – Romanovsky, 1909

Piotr Romanovski - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre
Romanovsky v Alekhine

All-Russian Tournament of Amateurs, St. Petersburg
Vienna Game

“A distinctive feature of this game was that both opponents were still sixteen-year-old young men at the onset of their chess careers. Needless to say, this game would be the wrong spot to look for the markings of chess maturity. Nevertheless, both young opponents, whose approaches to chess were in the bud of formation back then, showed creative traits in this encounter that defined their performance throughout their chess careers.”

Alexander Alekhine vs Peter Arsenievich Romanovsky
Event: All Russian
Site: St Petersburg Date:1909
Round: 10
ECO: C26 Vienna game
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 h6 5.f4 d6 6.f5 Nc6 7.a3 Nd4 8.Na4 b5 9.Nxc5 bxc4 10.Na4 Qd7 11.Nc3 Bb7 12.Nf3 Nb5 13.O-O Nxc3 14.bxc3 Qc6 15.Qe1 Ba6 16.Qg3 Rg8 17.d4 Nxe4 18.Qh4 Bb7 19.Re1 g5 20.fxg6 Rxg6 21.dxe5 dxe5 22.Re2 Kf8 23.Bxh6+ Rxh6 24.Qe1 Rd8 25.Rb1 Ba8 26.Kh1 Qd5 27.a4 f6 28.a5 Kf7 29.a6 Rg8 30.Re3 Ng5 31.Qf1 Nxf3 32.Rxf3 Qd2 33.Qxc4+ Bd5 34.Qxc7+ Ke6 35.Rb6+ axb6 36.Qxb6+ Kf7 37.Qc7+ Kf8 38.Qd8+ Kg7 39.Rg3+ Rg6 40.Qd7+ Kh8 41.Rh3+ Rh6 0-1 (

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 h6 (A prudent move. Such moves have never been characteristic of my style. I have to admit, though, that it stemmed from the feeling of apprehension that I had towards my formidable opponent even at that time.) 5.f4 d6 6.f5

Black to move

6…Nc6 (A seemingly more active alternative for Black is 6…c6, but the trend of some games played at the international tournament in Paris (19000, which I knew only too well even back then, made me feel uneasy about the upcoming white pawn assault on the kingside. The game might continue 6…c6 7.Qf3 b5 8.Bb3 a5 9.a3 a4 10.Ba2 Qb6 11.Nge2 Nbd7 12.g4 Bb7 12.h4, and White grabs the initiative. Now Black is ready to meet 7.Qf3 with 7…Nd4, while if 7.Nf3, then 7…Na5. Willing to retain his active bishop, White opts for a continuation that rates similarly to Black’s move 4.) 7.a3 Nd4 (This move, tested by me in some earlier games, is designed to stop White from playing 8.Na4. At the same time, it sets the stage for a central counterattack start by c7-c6. White should have continued with the simple 8.Nf3. It sets the opening struggle on the tracks of the King’s Gambit Declined, where White’s move six (6.f5) seems like a somewhat premature and too temperamental approach to the problem.) 8.Na4 (This step testifies to White’s having underestimated his opponent’s previous move. Indeed, if Whiter were to take no punishment for pulling off the standard exchange of knight for a bishop, followed by kicking out the uninvited guest from d4 with c2-c3, then Black’s previous move should be rated as an utterly bad one.) 8…b5 (Now that White has to lose a couple of tempi, Black seizes the initiative.) 9.Nxc5 bxc4 (Nothing good come of 9…dxc5 10.Ba2 Nxe4 11.dxe4 {11.Nf3!?} 11…Qh4+ 12. Kf1 Qxe4 13.c3 Bb7 14.Nf3 Nc2 15.Rb1, with unclear consequences.) 10.Na4 Qd7 (By contrast, 10…Nxe4 11.dxe4 Qh4+ 12.Kf1 Qxe4 would have been perfect for Black. This is due to White’s dropping the f5 and c2-pawns and his forces being disorganized. Besides, Black’s attack is still ongoing.) 11.Nc3 Bb7 12. Nf3 Nb5 (This is a somewhat superfluous move. White should have continued with the simple 13.Ne2. However, the temperamental Alekhine seeks to seize the initiative again, paying no heed to weaknesses formed in his position.) 13.0-0 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Qc6 15.Qe1 Ba6 16.Qg3 Rg8 17.d4 (White overlooks Black’s strong rejoinder two moves down the road. Alekhine considered 17.Be3 to be correct here, which enabled him to meet 17…cxd3 18.cxd3 Bxd3 with 19.Nxe5. That said, Black should not lose the game after 19…dxe5 20.Qxe5+ Kd8 21.Rfd1 Qc4. Besides, he could go for the more prudent 18…Qxc3 19.Rac1 Qa5, leaving him up a pawn and with chances to counterattack.) 17…Nxe4 18.Qh4 Bb7 19. Re1

Black to move

19…g5! (This move renders Black’s attack irrefutable. 20.Qxh6 fails to 20…g4 21.Nh4 0-0-0, and White loses the game. White’s reply is designed to stop Black from castling long.) 20.fcg6 Rxg6 21.dxe5 dxe5 (Black threatens 22…Nd2. All in all, thunder is set to strike around g2. 22.Nxe5 fails to 22…Qc5+. {The immediate 21…Nd2! would have been a much stronger move.itl}) 22.Re2 Kf8 (Black’s attack is very potent. If 23.Be3 {with the threat of Nxe5}, Black would reply 23…Re8, and White cannot stop Nxc3. Black is also poised to transfer his king to h7 and double rooks along the g-file. The following blunder precipitates disaster.) 23.Bxh6+? Rxh6 (White could have resigned then and there, but the game continued as follows: 24.Qe1 Rd8 25.Rb1 Ba8 26.Kh1 Qd5 27.a4 f6 28.a5 Kf7 29.a6 Rg8 30.Re3 Ng5 31.Qf1 Nxf3 32.Rxf3 Qd2 33.Qxc4+ Bd5 34.Qxc7+ Ke6 35.Rb6+ axb6 36.Qxb6+ Kf7 37.Qc7+ Kf8 38.Qd8+ Kg7 39.Rg3+ Rg6 40.Qd7+ Kh8 41.Rh3+ Rh6 0-1 (

GM Alonso Zapata’s Battle With Covid

GM Alonso Zapata
GM Alonso Zapata

Since moving to Atlanta after his wife began working at the CDC I have been following GM Alonso Zapata’s exploits on the Chessboard and we have been communicating via email. After his dismal, and uncharacteristic performance (Although the highest rated player, Alonso finished in a tie for 7th place after managing to draw 6 games while losing 3) at the recent Summer 2021 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitational held July 28-Aug 1, 2021 at the Charlotte Chess Club & Scholastic Center ( I sent Alonso an email which was not answered until last night. I have chosen to publish some of the email because it answers the questions posed in the above aforementioned post, and because the more information the Chess world has on what is happening with the dreaded virus the better decisions those who decide (that made me think of George Dubya Bush and the time he said:

Bush the Decider

Dear Michael Bacon.

Thanks for your email.

Before, I want to mention that I participated in looking to ​​improve my rating. I had already experienced a similar event before, and I did very well, gaining a considerable rating.

You are right; I played very poorly, even I did not understand how with so many positions with huge advantages, even very close to winning (as in the one you mention), I could not define.
Michael, I didn’t answer you because I’ve been depressed these days.
In the tournament, I felt lacking in energy and concentration. My chess didn’t flow, I slept little, and it affected my self-confidence.

Once the tournament was over, I returned home; after driving for about 4.5 hours, my symptoms became more noticeable: runny nose, cough, malaise, fever, discouragement. I thought it was an unpleasant flu; I was calm because I had the two Pfizer vaccines against Covid -19.

To not extend the story, after a couple of days without improving, I took the test, and it came out positive for Covid-19. I immediately called the Tournament Organizer in Charlotte, Grant Owen, to inform him, hoping that no one else had picked it up. To my peace of mind, there was no other sick player.


Fortunately, I already feel recovered.

I want to add that competing with Coronavirus disease is a terrible nightmare!

My best wishes,
Alonso Zapata

Of course I answered immediately, offering condolences and expressing sympathy, while being pleased he had recovered. Then after having watched some of the evening bluews, as I have come to think of it, I sat down to punch ‘n poke this into my daily log: News from Macon is a 4 year old boy is in hospital with Covid fighting for his life…Young woman died in a Baton Rouge hospital from Covid after delivering a 4 pound three ounce baby. She did not take the vaccine because those in charge had not yet given the OK for pregnant women to take the vaccine…Parents are marching in an attempt to get school boards to require masks be worn…This after the idiot Republican Governor of our state Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Thursday that bans cities from requiring businesses to enforce local restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order Thursday that bans cities from requiring businesses to enforce local restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit John Bazemore / AP Photo

called out the National Guard to help in hospitals as cases surge…( This is the F.I.P. who last week “…issued an executive order Thursday that bans cities from requiring businesses to enforce local restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic”… ( Should I laugh, or should I cry?

“Should I Laugh Or Cry”

He stands towering over me beside my bed
Losing his head
Tells me I must take him seriously
Droning on the usual way
He’s such a clever guy
And I wonder should I laugh or cry

He’s (he’s) dressed (dressed) in the striped pajamas that I bought
Trousers too short
Gives (gives) me (me) of his small philosophy
Carries on the way he does
And me I get so tired
And I wonder should I laugh or cry
High and mighty his banner flies
A fool’s pride in his eyes
Standin’ there on his toes to grow in size
(All I see is)
All I see is a big balloon
Halfway up to the moon
He’s wrapped up in the warm and safe cocoon
Of an eternal lie
So should I laugh or cry

Strange (strange) how (how) dangerously indifferent I have grown
Cold as a stone
No (no) more (more) pain where there was pain before
Far away he rambles on, I feel my throat go dry
And I wonder should I laugh or cry

High and mighty his banner flies
A fool’s pride in his eyes
Standin’ there on his toes to grow in size
(All I see is)
All I see is a big balloon
Halfway up to the moon
He’s wrapped up in a warm and safe cocoon
Of an eternal lie
So should I laugh or cry

The Najdorf System

When first starting out on the Caissa highway this writer played the Najdorf exclusively against the move 1 e4. Like many others I played the most aggressive opening because it was played by Bobby Fischer.

Prior to the advent of the computer programs that are now at least two, maybe three levels above humans in playing ability, the Najdorf was analyzed to what we thought was ‘death’. It is possible that more theory has been written on the opening foisted upon the Chess world by Miquel Najdorf

than any other opening. Nowadays players throw any and everything at the Najdorf, even some moves at which we would have scoffed ‘back in the day’. The Najdorf is not really a defense but a ‘system’. Although it was a lifetime ago it seems like only yesterday the book with the green cover, The Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence, by Svetozar Gligoric,
Grandes Enxadristas: A História de Svetozar Gligoric …

Yefim Geller,

Lubomir Kavalek,

and Boris Spassky,

was published by R.H.M.

That would have been in 1976, the year I won the Atlanta Chess Championship with an unbeaten 5-0 score. I devoured the book. At the time I was playing correspondence Chess and one of my opponents was a young Atlanta player who later became a National Master, Tom Friedel. After reading the book there was one line I particularly did not like. In the USCF postal tournament I was paired with Tom, and he stepped right into my wheelhouse, allowing me to play my beloved Najdorf. Unfortunately for me, Tom played the aforementioned line. There was a problem with another game in that section in that the player was using one of the new computer playing machines to produce his moves. I know this because former Georgia Chess Champion Mike Decker had the same machine and I asked him about my postal game. Sure ’nuff, the machine produced each and every one of the moves sent by my opponent, so I withdrew from the event and never played another postal game. Some time later a friend said he had been talking with Tom about our postal game and that Tom was perplexed, saying something about my being able to draw even though a pawn down. After learning why I had withdrawn Tom was no longer perplexed. Tom was a very strong player, no doubt stronger than me, and I seem to recall Tom winning the USCF postal tournament. Maybe one of you readers can recall, or do the research required to learn if my memory is correct. The fact is that after all these decades in which I have not played the Najdorf, I have played over more Najforf games than any games of any other opening. It really is true that you never forget your first love. It is also the reason I have been a BIG fan of the Frenchman known as simply “MVL.”

What makes the following game remarkable is that Fabi played the weak 15 a3 two rounds AFTER LDP played the much superior 15 Nd5 against MVL in the fourth round leading to a resounding victory for Leinier Dominguez Perez in only 33 moves! It is refreshing seeing a player with even a modicum of gray hair winning these days.

(GM) Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Carlsen-Caruana 3: Fabi squanders opening edge |

vs (GM) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Côte d'Ivoire Rapid & Blitz: A three-point lead for Magnus ...

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 06

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. a3 g6 16. h4 Ng3 17. Rg1 Nxf1 18. Rgxf1 Na4 19. Nxa4 bxa4 20. h5 Qc7 21. Rh1 Rfe8 22. Qh2 Bf8 23. c4 Re7 24. Bd2 Bxc4 25. Bb4 Rd7 26. f4 Bb5 27. hxg6 fxg6 28. f5 Rg7 29. f6 Rf7 30. Qd2 Qd7 31. Qd5 Be2 32. Rc1 Rxc1+ 33. Rxc1 h5 34. Nc4 Bxc4 35. Rxc4 h4 36. Rc2 h3 37. Ka2 Kh8 38. Rd2 Rh7 39. Bxd6 Qxd6 40. Qxd6 Bxd6 41. Rxd6 Kg8 42. Rd8+ Kf7 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44. Rd8+ Kf7 45. Rd7+ Kg8 46. Rd8+ ½-½

1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 (SF 14 @depth 53 and Komodo 13.02 @depth 45 plays the game move, but SF 050821 @depth 58 would play the move GM Ben Finegold says one should never play, 6 f3!) 6…e5 (SF 13 @depth 59 would play the move played in the game, but SF 050821 @depth 51 prefers 6…Ng4. Komodo 13.02 @depth 44 shows 6…e6. The CBDB shows white scoring 54% against each move, so flip a coin…err, roll ‘dem bones…) 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 (Komodo 13.02 @depth 44 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 46; Komodo 14 @depth 46 would play 8 Be2, which has only scored 50% in 296 games. 8 f3 has scored 53% in 6013 games) 8….Be7 (SF 13 @depth 45 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 51; but SF 14 @depth 49 shows 8…h5, the move that has scored the best, holding white to only 47% in 1251 games. In 4002 games against 8…Be7 white has scored 54%) 9. Qd2 O-O (By far the most often played move (3272), but is it the best? but SF 14 @depth 55 plays the second most often played move of 9…Nbd7, but SF 060421 @depth 71 plays 9…h5, the move that in 521 games has scored the best for the Najdorf, holding white to even, Steven) 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 (SF 14 @depth 49 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 51, but here’s the deal…the CBDB shows the same program at the same depth also playing 14…Qc7. I don’t know about you but as for me I’m sticking with Stockfish!) 15. a3 (The most often played move in 26 games has been 15 Rg1, but it has scored an abysmal 38%. The move played in the game has scored 50% in only 7 games. The move that three different Stockfish programs rates best, 15 Nd5, has scored an outstanding 63%, albeit in only 4 games. I don’t know about you but the next time I arrive at this position that steed is leaping to d5!) 15…g6 16. h4 (SF 12 @depth 41 plays this move, but SF 050821 @depth 39 and SF 251220 @depth 67 plays 16 Rg1, which has been played in 7 games) 16…Ng3 (SF 310720 @depth 51 plays 16…Qc7)

(GM) Leinier Dominguez Perez (USA)

Ajedrecista cubano Leinier Domínguez se cuela en puesto 14 ...

vs (GM) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 04

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. c4 Nf4 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. h4 Qa4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. Qe4 g6 23. Bc2 Qd7 24. h5 Qe6 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qxf4 Qe5 27. Qh4 Qg7 28. Rd2 Rc5 29. f4 f6 30. Rdh2 fxg5 31. Qe1 Bf6 32. Rh6 Qb7 33. Qe6+ 1-0

Levon Aronian (2772)

Levon Aronian switches to the USA |

vs Magnus Carlsen (2870)

Magnus Carlsen Net Worth - Biography, Life, Career and ...

Event: Tata Steel India Rapid
Site: Kolkata IND Date: 11/22/2019
Round: 3.3
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nbd7 9.g4 Be7 10.Qd2 O-O 11.O-O-O b5 12.g5 Nh5 13.Kb1 Nb6 14.Na5 Rc8 15.a3 g6 16.h4 Ng3 17.Rg1 Nxf1 18.Rgxf1 Na4 19.Nxa4 bxa4 20.h5 Qd7 21.Rh1 Rfe8 22.Qh2 Bf8 23.Bd2 Rc7 24.Bb4 Rb8 25.Rd3 Qb5 26.Rc3 Rbc8 27.Rxc7 Rxc7 28.Rd1 Rd7 29.Rd3 Be7 30.hxg6 fxg6 31.Qd2 Qb6 32.Qc1 Bd8 33.c4 Qf2 34.Nc6 Bxg5 35.Qxg5 Qf1+ 36.Kc2 Bxc4 37.Qe3 Bxd3+ 38.Qxd3 Qxd3+ 39.Kxd3 h5 40.Ke3 Kf7 41.Bc3 Ke6 42.Nb4 g5 43.Kf2 Rf7 44.Kg2 g4 45.fxg4 Rg7 46.Nd5 Rxg4+ 47.Kf3 Rg1 48.Kf2 Rg7 49.Kf3 h4 50.Be1 h3 51.Bg3 Rb7 52.Nb4 a5 53.Nd3 Rb3 54.Ke2 Kf6 55.Bh2 Kg5 56.Bg3 Kg4 57.Bh2 Rxd3 58.Kxd3 Kf3 59.Kd2 Kxe4 60.Ke2 d5 61.Bg3 d4 62.Bh2 Kd5 63.Kd2 e4 64.Ke2 Kc4 65.Be5 Kb3 66.Kd2 d3 67.Kd1 e3 68.Kc1 Kc4 0-1

A Word on the Previous Post

After being notified there was a problem with the pictures in the previous post I immediately returned to the tournament website ( from whence the pictures had been taken and corrected the problem…or at least I thought the problem had been rectified. The four pictures were showing, just as they were earlier, before I clicked off. I have no idea why the pictures will not stay on the blog. If any reader has an idea please clue me in @ I will post two of them here now and check back to learn if they stay posted:

Now, for my edification, I will post the same two pictures but after downloading and saving them to the computer first:

The Queens Were Dancing At The Uppsala Chess Festival

After seeing the players in the GM section of the Uppsala Chess Festival I looked forward to watching the action for several reasons. First, the Tiger was participating. That would be GM Tiger Christopher Robin Hillarp-Persson,

about whom I wrote a post, not because of Chess, but because he plays the ancient oriental game of GO ( Tiger has a website ( but has not posted since May 6, 2020.

Another reason was that GM Mihail Marin

was playing. He is a prolific author and also has a website. ( The last post was May 14, 2020 and includes this picture:

Then there is the fact that the two wily old veterans were to battle players young enough to be their children, and/or grandchildren.

After being away from the board for so long recent over the board Chess tournaments have a sort of petri dish quality. The question of what kind of effect playing no Chess, or online Chess, would have on the players and the quality of the games was in the air.

The website contains many pictures. Unfortunately the only name to be found is of the photographer. From the website: The two new Swedish champions Jung Min Seo

and junior champion Ludvig Carlsson

are two of the participants in the grandmaster tournament. The will meet strong competition, among them some other players from the Swedish junior elite, such as Milton Pantzar and Isak Storme.

Tiger Hillarp is one of the most well known Swedish grandmasters and will together with Romanian GM Mihail Marin represent the experience, and in addition to the Swedish young stars, they will face the shooting stars as Plato Galperin from Ukraine and Valery Kazakovsky from Belarus.

GM Tiger Hillarp, ​​Sweden, 51 (2542)
GM Mihail Marin, Romania, 56 (2502)
IM Valerij Kazakovskij, Belarus, 21 (2499)
IM Plato Galperin, Ukraine, 18 (2490)
IM Jung Min Seo, Sweden, 19 (2453)
GM Emil Mirzoev , Ukraine, 25 (2437)
IM Milton Pantzar, Sweden, 20 (2421)
FM Isak Storme, Sweden, 20 (2397)
FM Kaan Küçüksarı, Sweden, 18 (2365)
CM Ludvig Carlsson, Sweden, 18 (2258)

The average age of the field was avg 27.6. Without the two Seniors the average age was 21.125.

The tournament organizers provided a nice perk for the players:

Posted on 9 August, 2021
Coffee free of charge

We are happy to offer free coffee throughout the tournament. The coffee is available in the lobby, next to the secretariat.

I know my friend GM Kevin Spraggett would approve! Maybe the organizers could invite Kevin next year. They would not even have to pay him an appearance fee as the free coffee would be inducement enough for the ‘not enough coffee man’!

The tournament began with much blood being spilled on the board in every round. Four of the five games in the first round were decisive, with white scoring three wins. Black won the only two decisive games in the second round. There was blood on each and every board in round three as all five games ended decisively with white again scoring the most, four, wins. Round four was a mirror image of round two, as black again scored two wins in the only games to end in victory. White won the only decisive game in the fifth round. White won two games in the sixth round with black scoring once. The seventh round saw one win for each color, and white scored the only win in the eight round. The last round sputtered to a conclusion with each and every game ending in a draw. Maybe the players had lost so much blood earlier in the tournament they were too weak to battle…

All the games can be found at Chess24 ( Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the ChessBomb, as there were myriad problems. See for yourself: (

As it turned out this game played a significant role in the tournament:

IM Platon Galperin (2490) vs GM Mihail Marin (2502)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 03
A04 Reti v Dutch

1.Nf3 f5 2. d3 Nc6 3. e4 e5 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nf6 6. Be2 Be7 7. c4 d6 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. O-O Qe8 11. f3 exf3 12. Bxf3 Bd7 13. Re1 Qf7 14. Qa4 c5 15. Qd1 Rae8 16. Nd5 Bd8 17. Bg5 Rxe1+ 18. Qxe1 Be6 19. Bxf6 Bxf6 20. Nxf6+ Qxf6 21. dxc5 Bxc4 22. cxd6 cxd6 23. b3 Bf7 24. Rd1 d5 25. Qa5 d4 26. Qxa7 Rd8 27. Be4 Bh5 28. Rf1 Qg5 29. Qc7 Qe3+ 30. Kh1 Re8 31. Qc4+ Kh8 32. Qc6 Kg8 33. Qd5+ Kh8 34. Qf5 1-0

1.Nf3 f5 2. d3 (SF 060621 @depth 49 plays 2 c4; SF 12 at the same depth shows 2 g3) 2…Nc6 (SF & Komodo both go with the most often played move of 2…d6) 3. e4 (Although the most often played move, SF goes with 3 d4) 3…e5 4. d4 (The number of games in which this move has been played dwarfs, by a 10-1 margin, the second most played move, and is the choice of SF 11, but SF 12 @depth 39 would play 4 Be2, a move that has seen action in only one game in the CBDB!) 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nf6 (SF 180621 plays 5…Qf6, a move that has only scored 49% according to the CBDB. The game move has scored 53%. You cannot go wrong if you go with the Fish!) 6. Be2 (SF 14 @depth 39 plays 6 Bc4 and it has scored at a rate of 58%, with 6 Be2 scoring only 53%. Just sayin’…) 6…Be7 (Komodo prefers 6…Bd6. There are only two games in the CBDB with that particular move. Fritz, and Deep fritz both play the most often played move, 6…Qe7) 7. c4 (This Theoretical Novelty is a New move! See below for 7 0-0)

Vilmos Balint (2288) vs (FM) Mark Lyell (2313)
Event: FSIM September 2015
Site: Budapest HUN Date: 09/12/2015
Round: 7.4
ECO: A04 Reti v Dutch

1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 Nc6 3.e4 e5 4.d4 fxe4 5.Nxe5 Nf6 6.Be2 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.f3 d6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Nc3 exf3 11.Bxf3 Bd7 12.d5 c5 13.b3 Qe8 14.Qd3 Ng4 15.Bb2 Ne5 16.Qe2 Nxf3+ 17.Rxf3 Rxf3 18.Qxf3 Qg6 19.Qe4 Qg5 20.Rf1 Bf6 21.Nd1 Bxb2 22.Nxb2 Re8 23.Qf3 Qe3+ 24.Qxe3 Rxe3 25.Nd3 Bb5 26.Re1 Rxe1+ 27.Nxe1 Kf7 28.Kf2 Kf6 29.Ke3 Bd7 30.a3 a5 31.Nf3 Bf5 32.c3 Bg4 33.Kf4 Bf5 34.Ng5 Bd3 35.Ne4+ Kg6 36.Ng5 Bc2 37.b4 cxb4 38.cxb4 axb4 39.axb4 Bb3 40.Ne6 c6 41.Nc7 Ba4 42.g3 Kf7 43.dxc6 Bxc6 44.b5 Bg2 45.b6 Ke7 46.Nb5 Kd7 47.Nd4 Bd5 48.Kg5 Be4 49.h4 Bd3 50.g4 Be4 51.h5 Bd3 52.Kf4 Ba6 53.Nf5 g6 54.hxg6 hxg6 55.Nd4 Kc8 56.Kg5 Bd3 57.Kf6 Kb7 58.Ke6 Kxb6 59.Kxd6 g5 60.Ke5 Bf1 ½-½

GM Emi Mirzoev (2437) vs GM Mihail Marin (2502)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 05
B20 Sicilian, Keres variation (2.Ne2)

  1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 d6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O Nc6 6. c3 e5 7. Na3 Nge7 8. Nc2 d5 9. d3 O-O 10. Bg5 Be6 11. b4 cxb4 12. Nxb4 Nxb4 13. cxb4 d4 14. Qa4 a6 15. Rfc1 Qd6 16. a3 Rfc8 17. Qd1 Rxc1 18. Rxc1 Rc8 19. h4 Rxc1 20. Qxc1 f6 21. Bd2 Qc6 22. f4 Qxc1+ 23. Nxc1 Nc6 24. Kf2 Bf8 25. Bf3 Bd6 26. Bd1 Kf7 27. h5 Ke7 28. hxg6 hxg6 29. Bb3 Bxb3 30. Nxb3 Ke6 31. Kf3 Be7 32. Bc1 ½-½

1.e4 c5 2. Ne2 (SF 13 @depth 69 calculates 2 Nc3 the best move. 2 Ne2 cannot be found in the CBDB. It can be found at and the following game shows that Mirzoev deviated at move 11, thereby producing a Theoretical Novelty with 11 b4)

GM Valeriy Aveskulov (2539) vs Jeff Reeve (2205)
Event: Edmonton 2nd
Site: Edmonton Date: 08/02/2007
Round: 1
ECO: B20 Sicilian, Keres variation (2.Ne2)

1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 d6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 g6 5.O-O Bg7 6.c3 e5 7.Na3 Nge7 8.Nc2 d5 9.d3 O-O 10.Bg5 Be6 11.Qc1 Qd7 12.b3 f6 13.Be3 d4 14.cxd4 cxd4 15.Bd2 Rfc8 16.Qb2 b5 17.b4 Rc7 18.Rfb1 Rac8 19.Ne1 Nd8 20.Nc1 Nb7 21.Nb3 Bf8 22.a3 a6 23.Rc1 Rxc1 24.Nxc1 Rc7 25.f4 Nc8 26.fxe5 fxe5 27.Nf3 Bd6 28.Ng5 Nb6 29.Nxe6 Qxe6 30.Qa2 Qxa2 31.Rxa2 Na4 32.Kf1 a5 33.Nb3 Nc3 34.Ra1 axb4 35.axb4 Bxb4 36.Bh3 Kf7 37.Ra6 Bd6 38.Ke1 Na4 39.Na5 Nac5 40.Nxb7 Nxb7 41.Bg4 b4 42.Bd1 Be7 43.Bb3+ Kg7 44.Ra7 Bc5 45.Ra8 Bf8 46.Ra7 Bc5 47.Ra8 Bf8 48.Ke2 h6 49.Bd5 Bc5 50.Rg8+ Kh7 51.Re8 Be7 52.Rb8 Nd8 53.h4 g5 54.h5 Kg7 55.Bxb4 Bxb4 56.Rxb4 Nf7 57.Kf3 Nd6 58.Rb6 Rd7 59.Rb8 Re7 60.Kg4 Ne8 61.Kf5 Nd6+ 62.Kg4 Ne8 63.Rb6 Nf6+ 64.Kf5 Nd7 65.Rg6+ Kh7 66.Bg8+ Kh8 67.Be6 Nc5 68.Rxh6+ Kg7 69.Rg6+ Kh7 70.Bg8+ Kh8 71.Bc4 1-0

The following game illustrates what is wrong with Chess these daze. Take a look at the position after Galperin made his last move. Why would his 18 year old opponent agree to a draw? The only way he is going to improve is to PLAY! He will not improve his game by meekly acquiescing to a short draw. It is games like these that show why ALL TOURNAMENTS SHOULD IMPOSE A NO AGREED DRAW RULE! Take a good look at the position when the game was truncated:

IM Platon Galperin (2490) vs CM Ludvig Carlsson (2258)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 08

A40 Modern defense; after black move 2 it becomes the: B06 Robatsch (modern) defense; then after white move five it becomes the: B08 Pirc, classical system, 5.Be2

  1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Be2 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. O-O a6 7. Re1 Nc6 8. d5 Na7 9. h3 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. Bf1 c6 12. dxc6 Nxc6 13. Bg5 h6 14. Bf4 Nh5 15. Be3 Nf6 16. Bf4 Nh5 17. Be3 Nf6 18. Bf4 ½-½
Black to move accepts draw offer

The two old-timers showed the children how to battle to a draw:

GM Mihail Marin (2502) vs GM Tiger Hillarp Persson (2542)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 08
B20 Sicilian defence

  1. e4 c5 2. d3 g6 3. f4 Bg7 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Be2 d6 6. O-O e6 7. c3 Nge7 8. Na3 f5 9. exf5 Nxf5 10. Qe1 Qd7 11. Ng5 h6 12. Ne4 h5 13. Bf3 O-O 14. Nc2 b6 15. Ng5 d5 16. Ne3 Nce7 17. Nxf5 Nxf5 18. h3 Bf6 19. g4 hxg4 20. hxg4 Nd6 21. Qh4 Qg7 22. Qg3 Nf7 23. Nxf7 Qxf7 24. Bd2 Bb7 25. Rae1 Rae8 26. Re2 Bg7 27. Qh4 Qf6 28. Qh3 Ba6 29. Bg2 Qd8 30. f5 exf5 31. Rxe8 Rxe8 32. gxf5 Bc8 33. Qf3 Bxf5 34. Qxd5+ Qxd5 35. Bxd5+ ½-½
  1. e4 c5 2. d3 g6 (SF 13 @depth 51 plays 2…Nc6) 3. f4 (SF 14 agrees) 3…Bg7 (SF & Komodo both play the most often played move of 3…Nc6. There is a reason…) 4. Nf3 Nc6 (Although Komodo plays this, the KingFish prefers 4…Nf6. The CBDB contains only two games with the move. Go figure…) 5. Be2 (SF is high on 5 c3) 5…d6 6. O-O e6 (This is the second most often played move. SF 050621 @depth 44 plays the most often played move 6…Nf6, but SF 13 @depth 52 would play 6…b5. There are only 4 examples of that move contained in the CBDB) 7. c3 (7 Na3, by transposition, did not turn out well for
    GM Bent Larsen (2660) vs Robert James Fischer (2760)
    Event: Candidates sf1
    Site: Denver Date: 07/20/1971
    Round: 6
    ECO: A02 Bird’s opening

1.f4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.e4 Bg7 4.Be2 Nc6 5.O-O d6 6.d3 e6 7.Na3 Nge7 8.c3 O-O 9.Be3 a6 10.d4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 b5 12.Nxc6 Nxc6 13.Qd2 Qc7 14.Rad1 Rd8 15.Nc2 Rb8 16.a3 Na5 17.e5 Bf8 18.b4 Nc6 19.Nd4 dxe5 20.fxe5 Nxe5 21.Bg5 Rd5 22.Qf4 Bg7 23.h4 Rb7 24.Bf6 Bxf6 25.Qxf6 Qxc3 26.h5 gxh5 27.Kh1 Ng4 28.Bxg4 hxg4 29.Qh6 Bd7 30.Rf4 f5 31.Qf6 Bc8 32.Rff1 Rf7 33.Qh6 Bb7 34.Nxe6 Qf6 35.Qe3 Re7 36.Rde1 Rd6 37.Qg5+ Qxg5 38.Nxg5 Rxe1 39.Rxe1 Bd5 40.Re8+ Kg7 0-1)

7…Nge7 (SF plays this, by far the most played move. Komodo plays 7…Nf6. There are two examples of the move at the CBDB) 8. Na3 (SF plays 8 Be3) 8…f5 (SF 8 @depth 26 plays 8…a6, a TN. Komodo @depth 31 castles)

White to move

9. exf5 (This is a TN. SF would play 9 Be3, and if you ever reach this position, so should you!)

What would GM Ben Finegold say about the following game? I was shocked, SHOCKED! to see 5 f3 has been played in 2684 games. Those players have obviously never heard of the Ben Finegold rule, which is, “Never play f3!”

Even more shocking was the Tiger response of 5…Nc6, when every Russian school boy knows 5…e5 is the move. Go figure…The other thing to be said about this game is that both players have a position in which it can be proven that “a knight on the rim is dim,” and or grim, depending…At Chess Bomb one sees that Stockfish would play 42 Ng3 with black to follow with 42…d5, and shows white with a substantial advantage of over two points in computer calculation. With that knight leaping to f5 things are looking good for the kid. Well, you know, Ludvig is only 18, and possibly playing his idol…and it’s the last round…and he has already acquiesced to one short draw with black, so what is another one? THAT IS WHY THERE SHOULD BE A NO DRAW OFFER RULE!!! Then again, from the website it appears all the kid needed was a draw to earn an IM norm…What if the players only received pay for winning a game? Just askin’…

CM Ludvig Carlsson (2258) vs GM Tiger Hillarp Persson (2542)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 09

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. f3 Nc6 6. c4 Qb6 7. Nc2 e6 8. Nc3 Be7 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Nb5 Qb8 11. Nc3 O-O 12. Qd2 b6 13. Be2 Bb7 14. O-O Ne5 15. Rfd1 Rc8 16. b3 a6 17. Nd4 h5 18. Rac1 Re8 19. Bf1 h4 20. Qf2 h3 21. gxh3 Ned7 22. Bg2 Bf8 23. Nde2 b5 24. Ng3 bxc4 25. bxc4 Rc8 26. Bf1 Rc6 27. Nce2 Qe8 28. Nd4 Rc7 29. Nb3 Rac8 30. Na5 Ba8 31. Kh1 Nc5 32. Nb3 Nfd7 33. Be2 Na4 34. Rg1 Ne5 35. Bd4 Ng6 36. Nh5 e5 37. Be3 Qe6 38. Qg3 Rxc4 39. Bxc4 Rxc4 40. Qg4 Rxc1 41. Rxc1 Qe7 ½-½

Here we have a case of two players being from the same country with one, Galperin, needing only a draw to secure a GM norm. Thing is, his opponent is a 2437 rated GRANDMASTER! Back in the day a 2400 player was considered a SENIOR MASTER! Think about it for a moment. In the US each rating group is a 200 point group. 1200 to 1399 is class D; 1400 to 1599 is class C; 1600 to 1799 is class B; 1800 to 1999 is class A; 2000 to 2199 is Expert; 2200 to 2399 is National Master. Then it gets murky…A player must have a 2500 rating to earn his Grandmaster title, which leaves only one hundred points for International Master. In that case, what is a Senior Master? There was a time when a Chess aficionado could name all the Grandmasters in the world. I have the 2021 Chess calendar and will tell you I have never heard of half the names printed on the pages. It is long past time to raise the GM bar to 2600. Frankly, the title has been so cheapened it would be better to raise the bar to 2700 and then the IM title would mean something.

What were the odds it would come to two players from the same country facing each other in a last round game with a GM title, or norm, I was unable to find which one, on the line? As my old friend Ron Sargent, ‘Lieutenant Shoulders’ in Viet Nam, was so fond of saying, “Spozed to happen.” This is a perfect example of why the the three time repetition rule must be abolished. A player repeating the same position for the third time should automatically lose the game. The less said about this ‘game’ the better.

GM Emi Mirzoev (2437) Ukraine vs IM Platon Galperin (2490) Ukraine
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 09

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Be2 Na6 9. Bd6 Qxg2 10. Qd2 Nf6 11. Bf3 Qg6 12. O-O-O e5 13. Ne2 Be6 14. Bxe5 Qf5 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Nd4 O-O 17. Qc3 Qh6+ 18. Kb1 Qg6+ 19. Kc1 Qh6+ 20. Kb1 Qg6+ 21. Kc1 Qh6+ ½-½
Final position

GM Wesley ‘Too Much Coffee Man’ So Stinking It Up At The Sinquefield Cup

GM Wesley So (2772) (USA)

vs GM Richard Rapport (2763) (HUN)

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 05
C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nf5 8. c3 Nxe5 9. Rxe5 d6 10. Re1 O-O 11. d4 d5 12. Bf4 Bd6 13. Qf3 Nh4 14. Qe3 Nf5 15. Qf3 Nh4 16. Qg3 Nf5 17. Qf3 ½-½

After “playing”, and I use the word extremely loosely, the “game” today GM Wesley So was interviewed by GM Maurice Ashley

about the quick (the “game” took less than thirty minutes to “play”) draw. GM So attributed it to not feeling well as he had been drinking “too much coffee recently.” I have been involved with Chess for over half a century and thought I had heard every possible excuse, usually for losing. The “too much coffee, man” excuse was a novelty. Wesley added, “I was drinking coffee at nine pm last night, and spent ten hours tossing and turning without sleeping.”

Although Wesley did not say anything about sewing up the $100,000 Sinquefield Cup prize with the draw the announcers were all as full of apologia as Wesley was of caffeine. Listening to the commentators justifications for not playing Chess caused the bile to rise up from my stomach into my throat. I thought I might puke…Fortunately, I clicked off just in time. That’s the last of the Stinkfield Cup for the Armchair Warrior. I’m agonna make me a strong cuppa Joe to go!


Dreams Are More Real Than Anyone Thought

Waking reality and dreams are different versions of the same thing.

Posted August 11, 2021

Robert Lanza, M.D., is currently Chief Scientific Officer at the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Key points

  • Commonalities between dreams and everyday life provide clues as to how our consciousness operates.
  • During dreams we experience an awesome occurrence: the ability of the mind to turn pure information into a dynamic multidimensional reality.
  • During dreams and waking hours we actually create space and time, not just operate within it like a character in a video game.

Mounting scientific evidence points to an astounding conclusion about a familiar, everyday (or every night) phenomenon: dreams.

The secrets dreams can unlock ultimately derive from the basic fact that reality is a process that involves us―a conscious observer. We assume the everyday world is “out there” in a more real or independent sense than is the world of our dreams, that we play a lesser role in its appearance. Yet recent studies show that day-to-day reality is every bit as observer-dependent as dreams are.

As explained in the book The Grand Biocentric Design,,204,203,200_.jpg

everything we experience is simply a whirl of information occurring in our heads. Indeed, space and time are not actual physical objects, but rather terms that designate the tools our mind uses to assemble information. They’re among the most critical keys to consciousness, and they explain why, in experiments with particles and the properties of matter itself, they are always relative to the observer, as opposed to being objective, stand-alone absolutes.

GM Peter Heine Nielsen Speaks Truth To Power


Pro transparancy
Coach of Chess World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
I do tweet a lot.

Peter Heine Nielsen@PHChessGrandmaster tournament happening right now in Sevastopol. Organized by the Russian Chess federation. Crimea is recognized by the UN as Ukrainian. What is @FIDE_chess position? What is the position of westerns chess politicians? @nigelshortchess@EmilSutovsky2:42 AM · Aug 18, 2021·Twitter Web App

Peter Heine Nielsen@PHChess·The sad thing is that Western unity that Chess-activities by the Russian Chess Federation on Crimea is unacceptable, has come to an end. Not under Kirsan, but by the new FIDE leadership, at @nigelshortchess watch.Quote Tweet

Nigel Short@nigelshortchess · Apr 9, 2014I’m surprised we haven’t had a bid for the 2018 Olympiad from the Crimea yet.

Chess Websites

A disgruntled reader took exception to the post, USCF Drops Set & Clock ( He defended the USCF for not having posted the last round games along with the other eight rounds. Only seven of those rounds can be found at the USCF website. There was/is an error with the fifth round and when clicks on the round this is found:

This screenshot was taken from the USCF website a moment ago (

There are still no last round games posted…

The disgruntled one excoriated the AW for not finding the games at lichess ( I will admit to missing the notification in the article by Alexy Root,
Family Chess Challenge in Denton with WIM Dr. Alexey Root …

U.S. Open: Chess games, awards, signings, meetings, as I sort of glanced at the pictures on the way to the games, of which there were only three. Although I had previously been to the lichess website, I returned, finding the same page. From what was displayed I thought the website was only for playing online Chess. What do you think

Yesterday while watching the coverage of the Sinquefield Cup

I noticed GM Maurice Ashley

using a lichess board to display moves played in the ongoing games, so I returned to lichess and there was the same page as above. I did not want to waste time looking at the website because I was enjoying watching the gentlemen. Frankly, it was excellent having three Grandmasters analyze the games live without having a much lower rated woman onscreen.

There are many Chess websites and they are in competition. Like the Highlander,

From the look of Chessdom ( another one has bitten the dust.

The same screen has been up since the conclusion of the TCEC ( match, won convincingly by Stockfish over LcZero. Although I visit most every Chess website the surfing begins with The Week In Chess (, moving to Chessbase (, then on over to Chess24 (, and when there is Chess action, I go to the ChessBomb (, and also use Chess24. The best place to view is TWIC because the board contains only moves, unlike ChessBomb, which color codes moves, and Chess24 which has some ridiculous white strip on the side of the board that moves up or down depending on the current move. It reminds me of a thermometer. Wonder why the two websites did not make the ancillary accoutrements optional? They broadcast most of the same events, but the Bomb has been running all games played in the World Chess Championship matches, and is now up to the 1981 Karpov vs. Korchnoi match. ( I am still enjoying replaying the Bobby Fischer versus Boris Spassky match. ( Although I like the darker background found at I agree with a gentleman with children who said, “ is geared toward children.” And why should it not be “geared toward children”? Children are the future and the battle rages for their little hearts, minds, souls, and their parents money.