This is the second part of an ongoing look at what Stockfish “thinks” of the legendary Najdorf variation. Part one was published a few daze ago (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2023/02/23/a-seventh-move-novelty-in-the-najdorf/), with a focus on the move Stockfish considers best for white against the Najdorf system, 6 f3. 365Chess.com shows a total of twenty seven different moves having been played by those with the white pieces against the Najdorf. The most often played move by humans has been 6 Bg5, and it has been played in 20,902 games. I utilized the 365Chess database because it includes games by everyone regardless of rating. The first game score you see emanate from the fertile algorithms of Stockfish vs Stockfish. The game most closely matching the moves of Stockfish follows.
This game was ‘contested’ by the Stockfish program on 2/20/23:
According to 365Chess.com the opening move of 1 g4 is known as the A00 Grob’s attack. ‘Back in the day’ it was simply known as “The Grob.”
Any Chess player reaching class B, which is a rating between 1600 and 1799, knows he should defeat any player dumb enough to attempt playing the Grob’s attack. I played the Grob several times in rated tournaments, losing only to IM Boris Kogan.
Why would I have played 1 g4 versus an International Master of Grandmaster strength? After losing to Boris three times in OTB play when playing a more conventional opening the decision was made to try something a little different. OK, that should be “a lot different.” Sure, I lost the game, but the loss was worth something just to see the look on my opponent’s face! The fact is that a decent middle game position was reached prior to my blundering the exchange. Still, it was the only time playing Boris I had the feeling of being in the game. Players do not like facing the Grob attack because they know anything less that a win is tantamount to a loss…of face and credibility. After losing to the Grob one of my Stein Club (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/shanglei-lu-seeks-bishops-opening-truth/) opponents had to listen to an onlooker ask, “You lost to the Grob? How the hell does anyone lose to the Grob?” At that point my opponent emptied his beer stein into the face of the kibitzer before exiting the Stein Club… How bad is Grob’s attack? To put it into perspective, after 1 e4 e5 2 Qh5 the SF program at lichess.com shows white with a disadvantage of -0.4. Before the move white had a +0.4 advantage. You do the math…
According to the Big Database at 365Chess (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php) the thirteenth most often opening move made by those in charge of the white brigade has been 1 g4. The Grob. The Grob spelled backwards is:
Anyone can occasionally play what has come to be known as the, C20 KP, Patzer opening.
GM Magnus Carlsen (2835) – IM Shamsiddin Vokhidov (2480) World Rapid 2018 St Petersburg RUS, 2018.12.26
It takes a special type of player to open with the Grob’s Attack. There are those who highly tout Grob’s Attack. For instance:
Most Underrated Chess Opening: Grob’s Attack
So today we’ll learn another underrated chess opening called the Grob’s Attack, which starts with the unusual 1.g4. The opening takes its name from Swiss International Master Henri Grob (1904–1974) who analysed it extensively and played hundreds of correspondence games with it.
A great thing about this opening is that the White’s first move 1.g4 is so rare that most of your opponents will be shocked to see it. Therefore, you get them out of their opening preparation giving you a great chance of winning the game!
Before getting to the most underrated chess opening, let me remind you that the special offers we’re providing you with in honour of our upgraded training portal and new shop is expiring TOMORROW (31 March).
Have you ever felt like you stepped into a pile of hyperbole?
In the first round of the Caplin Hastings Masters 2022 a chap named Stellio Jerome, rated 1501, opened with the A00 Grob’s attack versus Expert Matthew J Payne, rated 2116. The result will come as no surprise:
It has taken Nick only seven moves to go from having a winning advantage to having an even game. Things obviously went downhill from here… If you are a class A player and you lose to anyone opening with the Grob you must ask yourself some serious questions, beginning with, “Why am I playing Chess?”
In the fifth round Stellio Jerome did it again:
Stellio Jerome (1501) vs Sanjit S Kumar, (1965) Hastings 2023 Round 5 The Grob Attack
After only eight moves he Stockfish program utilized at lichess.com shows the game to be even, Steven.
Do not let this happen to YOU! Give the Grob a chance and open with 1 g4 in an off-hand game or several. No matter what opening your opponent fires at you, a player should have at least an idea about how to play against any, and every opening. To help you down that path here are the opening moves preferred by Stockfish:
‘Back in the day’ I was known for playing The Najdorf. It was my main defense to the king pawn move because the opening was played by Bobby Fischer. With this in mind it will come as no surprise to learn I have been a fan of the Frenchman, MVL, aka Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, because he has been todaze leading exponent of The Najdorf. It was surprising to learn the “M” did not stand for “Miguel.”
For some time consideration has been given to imputing each opening move versus The Najdorf into the Stockfish program at lichess.com in order to learn how the program replies to each of the over two dozen different opening moves that have been attempted. ‘Back in the day’ it was de rigueur to reach the Najdorf by playing 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6. Stockfish differs when playing 3 Nc3, as can be seen below. The Stockfish program at lichess.com preferred 6 f3, so it was the first move put into the machine…
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. f3 e6 (The most often played move has been 6…e5, but the Fish prefers moving the pawn only one square) 7. a3
According to 365Chess.com a dozen different seventh moves have been played here, none of which is the move produced by Stockfish! This makes the seventh move a theoretical novelty, which can only be described as amazing…
In the sixth round of the recently completed Cambridge International Open, International Master (I believe that is IM without the “W”, meaning she is considered an IM on the same level as male Chess players, but could be mistaken) Dr. Harriet Hunt (please note there is no “WDr.” title), five time British women Chess champion,
faced the 1985 rated Supratit Banerjee, who answered Harriet’s opening move of 1 e4 with 1…e6, the French defense. Dr. Hunt’s 2 Qe2 put a smile on my face, which invariably happens when anyone plays the Chigorin Variation.
Harriet V Hunt (2349) vs Supratit Banerjee (1985) The Cambridge International Open (University Arms Hotel, Cambridge), 17.02.2023 C00 French, Chigorin variation
365Chess.com contains only 13 games with 2…d6. Far and away the most often played move has been 2…c5, yet it is not the choice of the Stockfish program used at Lichess.com. SF will play 2…e5. There are about 200 examples to be found at 365Chess, about 10% of the over 2200 games in which 2…c5 has been played. After 2…d6 Harriet replied with the top choice of SF, 3 d4. Bannerjee played 3…Ne7, which must be a theoretical novelty, but not a good one. SF would play 3…c5, and so should you… After Banerjee played 7…Nd7 the SF program shows a winning advantage for white, so obviously Supratit had no clue how to respond and decided to, shall we say, ‘wing it’. Even more disturbing is that little time was taken when making the second, and third rate moves. I could maybe understand if this were some kind of ‘rapid’ or ‘speed’ type time control, but this was a what passes for classical time control these daze. Go figure…
Stunning reconstruction reveals ‘lonely boy’ with deformed skull who died in cave in Norway 8,300 years ago
By Laura Geggel
A new reconstruction of one of Norway’s oldest known skeletons shows a teenager with an unusual skull who may have died alone in a cave.
About 8,300 years ago, a teenage boy with an unusual skull and short stature may have scampered along the rocky coast of what is now Norway, pausing to regain his balance as he clutched a fishing rod. Now, a new full-body reconstruction of the Stone Age teenager — nicknamed Vistegutten, Norwegian for “the boy from Viste” — is on display at the Hå Gamle Prestegard museum in southern Norway.
The boy’s reconstruction was a months-long project, but researchers have known about Vistegutten since 1907, when archaeologists found his remains in a Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, cave in Randaberg, along Norway’s western coast.
A few things stand out about the 15-year-old boy: At 4 feet, 1 inch (1.25 meters) tall, he was short for his age, even by Mesolithic standards; a condition known as scaphocephaly meant that his skull had fused too early, forcing his head to grow backward instead of sideways; and he may have died alone, as his remains were found as if he had been leaning against a cave wall.
“Either he was placed like this after his death, or he actually died in this position,” Oscar Nilsson, a forensic artist based in Sweden who created the boy’s likeness, told Live Science in an email. “This can give the impression of a lonely boy, waiting in vain for his friends and family to show up … but we know nothing about how he died.”
In the first round of the ongoing Cambridge International Open, Henry Adams, born in 2005, sat down behind the white pieces to play the dean of British Chess, long time British number one, Grandmaster Michael Adams. Because of the huge rating disparity of almost 800 points, on paper it looked like a walk over for the now Senior eligible GM, who was born in 1971. The younger Adams sports a 1963 British Chess rating. His International FIDE rating is only 1738. Mickey Adams is rated 2757. With all the talk, including from Rex Sinquefield ((https://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2023/01/05/sinquefield-chess-wagering.html), concerning the future prospects of wagering on Chess going Big Time in a Big Way in the near future, one could have gotten BIG odds on the much younger, but much less accomplished, Adams.
The following position was reached after the GM made his 23rd move:
It appears the Grandmaster offered his much lower rated opponent a draw. Put yourself into the position facing the much younger player. How would you respond? The game ended here so we know the young player has no guts and therefore, obtained little glory. The young fellow had a chance to make a name for himself in the world of Chess by possibly defeating one of, if not the best player in the history of British Chess. Instead, he wimped out…That, more than anything else, illustrates what is wrong with Chess. If this were a game of Go the young player would be forced to play on because the offer of a draw is not allowed. The youngster would have been FORCED TO GO FOR THE GLORY! So what if he had lost? At least in that event he would have learned something that may have later helped him along the Chess road.
In case you are wondering, the Stockfish program at lichess.com shows white with an advantage of an ASTOUNDING +3.4!!! !!!!
Letter Arrives More Than 100 years After Being Posted
By Christian Edwards, CNN February 16, 2023
London CNN —
A letter has finally been delivered to its destination – more than a century after it was written.
Sent in February 1916, the correspondence arrived at its intended address in Hamlet Road, south London, much to the bewilderment of the current occupants.
“We noticed that the year on it was ’16. So we thought it was 2016,” Finlay Glen told CNN Thursday. “Then we noticed that the stamp was a King rather than a Queen, so we felt that it couldn’t have been 2016.”
Glen told CNN that the letter arrived at the property a couple of years ago, but he has only recently taken it to the local historical society, so they can research it further.
The envelope has a 1 pence stamp bearing the head of King George V. The letter was sent in the middle of World War I – more than a decade before Queen Elizabeth II was born.
“Once we realized it was very old, we felt that it was okay to open up the letter,” said Glen, 27.
An article, Rowson Returns!, appeared at the website of the United States Chess Federation dated February 7, 2023 (https://new.uschess.org/news/rowson-returns), which was written by John Hartmann. The article includes a nice picture of the older, pensive, Rowson, obviously lost in thought.
Event: Mindsports Masters GM Site: London ENG Date: 09/13/2022 ECO: E20 Nimzo-Indian defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd2 c5 5.d5 O-O 6.f3 d6 7.e4 exd5 8.cxd5 Nh5 9.g4 (Jahn Hartmann attaches a !?, to the move, which means “A move deserving attention.” I’ll say!
It is difficult to believe any GM, or any titled player for that matter, would play such a weak, losing move. The Rowson page at 365Chess.com shows he only played nine games between 2014 and 2017. There is a gap from then until 2022. Any player returning after such a long layoff could be considered “out of form.” Let us think of him as “Rusty” Rowson. Still, no matter how out of form was Rusty Rowson, the fact is that no Grandmaster, whether in, or out of, form, would play such a move, violating as it does many Chess ‘rules’. If teaching the Royal Game to a student any Chess teacher would CRINGE upon seeing such a move. With that in mind, why did the Rusty one play a losing move? Your guess is as good as mine… Maybe someone will bring this post to the attention of Rusty and he will leave a comment explaining why he played a losing move so early in the game.
In his annotations to the game John Hartmann writes, “A remarkable concept. White gives up the exchange for hamstringing the black queen.” Say WHAT? After this move white is BUSTED, Buster! Mr. Hartmann needs to replace that exclamation mark with a second question mark.
9…Qh4+ (Duh) 10.Ke2 Ng3+ 11.hxg3 Qxh1 12.Kf2
(The annotator gives the move a “!?” and writes, “A remarkable concept. White gives up the exchange for hamstringing the black queen.” Say WHAT? After this move white is BUSTED, Buster! Mr. Hartmann needs to replace that exclamation mark with a second question mark.) 9…Qh4+ (Duh) 10.Ke2 Ng3+ 11.hxg3 Qxh1 12.Kf2 (I had quickly gotten to this position in my mind because there is a pause for, “This position is well worth analyzing without an engine because there are options at every turn.” Say WHAT? That sentence is the definition of superfluous as it could be said about most Chess moves. Regardless, the fact is that while reading and replaying the game on the USCF website I noticed colorful variations, not in the sense of a “colorful” Chess variation, but variations in different colors. Being a straight, no chaser, kinda guy
I decided to input the moves up to this point into 365Chess and play it out on a board sans annotations. After imputing 9 g4 I saw there were two games in the database so I clicked on and… It was necessary to click onto all the moves until 12.Kf2, which was when this game, in addition to “Aronian v Efimenko,” was found, blowing what’s left of my mind… Not one, but TWO, different GMs had played a losing move on the ninth move of the game! Inquiring minds MUST KNOW, so off I went to see the Fish, Stock, that is. After thrusting the g pawn Stockfish gives -2.0. Like I said earlier, BUSTED! No doubt a doubly remarkable concept.)
Grandmaster Rowson is a very interesting fellow whom I had the pleasure to meet and talk at a World Open. One of the book reviews found at this blog concerns one of his books, and the multi-part review elicited this from a reader concerning the review. “This is, with a doubt, the longest, and best, book review I have ever read!” That may, or may not, be hyperbole, but I will take it because more condemnation has been received concerning what has been written on the blog than praise…Check out part one here: