Games Have Been Terminated!

The thing about writing a blog is that one never knows what an email will bring. After spending an inordinate amount of time in front of Toby, the ‘puter, yesterday learning how to insert diagrams, and then putting together the post in order to have something in which to insert them, I determined that today I would spend time with the Daniel Gormally book, Insanity, passion and addiction: a year inside the chess world, while playing over Chess games on an actual board with pieces one can feel, and possibly “working” on the openings intended for the Senior Championship of the Great State of South Carolina, which is only ten days away, by going to the CBDB and 365Chess. Wrong, Ke-mo sah-bee! An email from my friend Mulfish arrived at 11:42 am, upsetting the Bacon cart…

“Looking forward to the AWs take on AlphaZeros stunning win over Stockfish,” was the message. “What’s this?” I thought, wondering if Mike was referring to the TCEC Computer Chess Championship that is in the final stretch. “But Stockfish is not participating in the Super Final,” I thought. I therefore fired off an immediate response: “To what, exactly, are you referring?” His reply was, “Look in the all things Chess forum.”

Although there are not as many incoming as there were before taking a long break from blogging, I have received several emails directing my attention here and there, and they are greatly appreciated. Checking the AW stats today showed many people in countries other than the USA reading the AW. In particular I noticed that today, as every day, there is one, and only one, reader in the Maldives. Thank you, whoever you are, and feel free to send an email, as I am curious by nature.

Keep ’em coming: xpertchesslessons@yahoo.com

This is the post found on the USCF forum that prompted Mulfish to fire a salvo at the AW:

Postby billbrock on Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:16 am #321974

“AlphaZero learned to play chess by playing against itself. After just FOUR HOURS of self-learning, it was able to decisely (sic) defeat Stockfish 8.0! (EDIT: this statement is slightly misleading. See downthread.) (100 games match: +28 =72 -0)
What’s really impressive: Stockfish was calculating far more deeply than AlphaZero (at least in terms of nodes per second). AlphaZero is just “smarter.”

After reading only this I thought, “Whoa! This will change not only my day, but possibly the future course of history!” The more I read the more convinced was I of the latter.

Bill Brock provided a link to a PDF paper, Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm
(https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01815.pdf) which I read immediately, blowing my mind…

Every morning I read while drinking my first cuppa coffee, and today was no exception. Toby is not fired-up until time to sit down and eat breakfast. I check my email, then the quotes of the day, followed by the poem of the day, which was The Writer’s Almanac, by Garrison Keillor, but it has been discontinued, so I’ve moved on to Poem-a-Day (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day) & The Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/). Next I click on the Drudge Report in order to understand what the enemy is thinking, and doing. Then it is the newspapers in digital form, the NYT, WaPo, and AJC. For you readers outside the USA, that would be the New York Times, the Washinton Post, and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Then I check out the word of the day (https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day), before heading to check what was on the nightly radio programs broadcast while I am sleeping, Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis (http://www.groundzeromedia.org/), and the Granddaddy of them all, Coast to Coast AM (https://www.coasttocoastam.com/). You may think that Chess comes next, but you would be mistaken. I check out The Hardball Times at Fangraphs (https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/). Then I check out what’s happening in the world of Go (http://www.usgo.org/).

Then it is time for Chess! My routine is to check in at Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en) first in order to learn if there is a new article I will want to return to after checking out Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/), where there is usually something interesting to peruse. (Today is no exception because the lead article is, How XiangQi can improve your chess, which will be read. https://en.chessbase.com/). During the TCEC Championships it is then on to Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/), where I click onto TCEC (http://tcec.chessdom.com/). And then it is on to the Chess Granddaddy of them all website, TWIC, aka The Week In Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), which is Mark Crowther’s wonderful website which contains a Daily Chess Puzzle, which I attempt to solve, in hopes it will keep my mind sharp. Why was I writing all this?…Just kidding!

The point is that I read so long this morning (Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas; Cover Me: The stories behind the GREATEST COVER SONGS of all time, by Ray Padgett, who has a wonderful website (http://www.covermesongs.com/); and Murder on the Death Star: The assassination of Kennedy and its relevance to the Trump era, by Pelle Neroth) in order to finish the latter. The point being that by the time I got to the email by Mulfish I would ordinarily have already seen the momentous news.

DeepMind’s AlphaZero crushes chess

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/deepmind-s-alphazero-crushes-chess

The excellent article by Colin McGourty begins: “20 years after DeepBlue defeated Garry Kasparov in a match, chess players have awoken to a new revolution. The AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself to synthesise the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium and reach a level where it not only surpassed humans but crushed the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. All the brilliant stratagems and refinements that human programmers used to build chess engines have been outdone, and like Go players we can only marvel at a wholly new approach to the game.”

Colin ends with: “And where do traditional chess programmers go from here? Will they have to give up the refinements of human-tuned evaluation functions and all the existing techniques, or will the neural networks still require processing power and equipment not easily available? Will they be able to follow in DeepMind’s footsteps, or are there proprietary techniques involved that can’t easily be mastered?

There’s a lot to ponder, but for now the chess world has been shaken!”

“Shaken?” More like ROCKED TO ITS FOUNDATION!

If games people play are to survive they will be something like that described in the novel I consider the best I have read, Das Glasperlenspiel, or Magister Ludi, aka, The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. (http://www.glassbeadgame.com/)

Or maybe a book, The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, which is not only one of my favorite Sci-Fi books, but also one of my favorite book about games.

The stunning news also caused me to reflect on a Canadian Sci-Fi television program I watched, Continuum, in which mega-corporations dominate the world in the future as time-travelers fight one of the largest corporatocratic entities, SadTech, which sounds an awful lot like Google. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1954347/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_6)

The Brave New World is here. The Science Fiction books I read as a youngster are no longer fiction.

The Terminator has arrived.

We are all doomed. DOOMED!

R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World

The End of the World

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Am I Strong Enough to Question Magnus Carlsen?

It is White to move in this position:

Consider for a moment, or longer, what move you would make.

I have never liked looking at a position from a game without being able to look at the moves leading up to the position, so here they are:

1. d4 g6 2. e4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. e5 Bb7 8. e6 fxe6 9. Ng5 Nf8 10. O-O Qd7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Na2 Qxa4 14. Qe2 h6 15. Nf3 Kf7 16. Bd2 b3 17. Nc3 Qd7 18. cxb3 Rb8 19. Ra3 Nd5 20. Ne4 Kg8 21. h4 Qe8 22. Bxa6 Bxa6 23. Qxa6 Bf6 24. Qc4 Nd7 25. Nc3 N7b6 26. Qe2 Qf7 27. Ne4 Rf8

Being the kind of fellow who speaks his mind, I once fired a salvo at an editor of a prominent Chess magazine which concerned publishing truncated games. To him it “saved space.” To me it was sacrilegious not only to those who had played the game but also to the Royal Game, and Caissa. “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”― James Baldwin

I have taught Chess in a Governor’s mansion and places some would call a dive, and everything in between. If a student, any student, had played this game and now produced the move Nxf6 I would cringe in abject horror. Once I managed to gather myself I would attempt to patiently explain why the exchange was a bad idea, pointing out to my student that the doubled pawns are the major weakness in the Black position; that Black will be tied down to the weak pawn on e6 for the foreseeable future and that as long as Black is tied down to the defense of the pawn(s) he will not be able to mount any kind of offense. I could then attempt to explain that someone usually gains in an exchange, and that you would like that someone to be YOU!

Perelshteyn, Eugene vs Carlsen, Magnus

2017.09.24

Chess.com Isle of Man International Masters (2.1)

1. d4 g6 2. e4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. e5 Bb7 8. e6 fe6 9. Ng5 Nf8 10. O-O Qd7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Na2 Qa4 14. Qe2 h6 15. Nf3 Kf7 16. Bd2 b3 17. Nc3 Qd7 18. cb3 Rb8 19. Ra3 Nd5 20. Ne4 Kg8 21. h4 Qe8 22. Ba6 Ba6 23. Qa6 Bf6 24. Qc4 Nd7 25. Nc3 N7b6 26. Qe2 Qf7 27. Ne4 Rf8 28. Nf6 ef6 29. Qe6 Qe6 30. Re6 Kf7 31. Re1 Rb8 32. Rc1 Nc8 33. Ne1 Nce7 34. Nd3 g5 35. hg5 hg5 36. b4 Rh4 37. Bc3 Rbh8 38. g3 Rh1 39. Kg2 R8h2 40. Kf3 g4 41. Kg4 Rc1 42. Nc1 Rf2 43. Be1 f5 44. Kh3 Rb2 45. Nd3 Rc2 46. b5 Nf6 47. Rb3 Re2 48. b6 cb6 49. Rb6 Ne4 0-1

Perelsteyn is a GM; Carlsen is the World Human Chess Champion. It is easy for anyone with an “engine” to criticize a GM, or even the World Human Chess Champion these daze, but I have no “engine” at the moment (long story). I can criticize Eugene without use of any outside assistance because my understanding of some facets of Chess allow me to do so. In many, if not most, other facets I am certain Mr. Perelshteyn will be the one giving a lesson. When playing over the game I stopped after moving the Knight, heading to the ChessBomb for verification my judgement was correct. It was, as ‘DaBomb’ gives the move some color. It is not exactly a RED MOVE, but just a shade below. Check it out here: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2017-isle-of-man-international-masters/02-Perelshteyn_Eugene-Carlsen_Magnus

There was another game in the same tournament with Magnus facing another American GM:

Carlsen, Magnus (NOR) – Xiong, Jeffery (USA)

Chess.com Isle of Man International – Masters 2017 round 03

1. Nf3 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. d4 e6 4. Bg5 d5 5. e3 h6 6. Bh4 Nc6 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Bd3 Be7 9. O-O Nd7 10. Bxe7 Nxe7 11. Ne5 cxd4 12. exd4 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Bd7 14. Re1 Rc8 15. Nf3 b5 16. h4 a5 17. a3 Qb6 18. Qd2 b4 19. cxb4 axb4 20. a4 Ra8 21. b3 O-O 22. Rac1 Rfc8

I am watching this game thinking, “Jeffrey is holding his own against the World Human Chess Champion.” I thought Magnus had an advantage, albeit a small one. Then I noticed Magnus could play the tricky Nd4, the kind of move I would love to be able to play against a higher rated opponent. But when Magnus eschewed the tricky move for the “aggressive” 23 h5 my thoughts turned to something along the lines of, “That’s why Magnus is the World Human Chess Champion. He rejects moves that “look good,” but possibly get one into trouble in the future.” Now I began looking at 23…Rc3 for Xiong, seeing 24 Rxc3 bxc3 25 Qxc3 Rc8 and that is as far as I am able “see” because my calculating abilities leave much to be desired. Still, they are OK for teaching neophytes…I will also admit not having considered 24 Nd4 after 23…Rc3. Hey, there is much to consider in every move! After 23 h5 Jeffery moves his King, playing 23…Kf8.

“Hummm,” I’m thinking, “Magnus makes an attacking move and Jeffery responds by getting outta Dodge. Maybe he wants to play a Yasser Seirawan like King walk.” The more I consider the move, the more I do not like it, but hey, I’m not a GM. Still, it seems White’s advantage has increased after the King move… Magnus, full of aggression, now plays 24 g4!? (I am not strong enough to give the World Human Chess Champion a ?!)

Now I am thinking, “Wow. Magnus is coming right after him! But when my heart beat slows to a more normal pace I am thinking something along the lines of, “I dunno…that’s the kinda move I played far too often ‘back in the day.’ It’s the kinda move that says “All In. I’m going for broke.” I would show one of my games to IM Boris Kogan and when pushing a pawn in front of my King like this The Hulk would grimace, and say something like, “Mike. Why you play Chess?” Still, he is the World Human Chess Champion and I’m a patzer…Now Jeffery plays 24…Rc3

and I stop to reflect, objectively, about the position, and my conclusion is that there has been a real swing in fortunes the past few moves, but it looks as though Jeffery is almost even again. Now I’m thinking, “What a GAME!” Can you tell I was enjoying myself immensely?

I will give the remaining move from where we left off: 23. h5 Kf8 24. g4 Rc3 25. g5 hxg5 26. Rxc3 bxc3 27. Qxg5 Nf5 28. Bxf5 exf5 29. e6 Bxe6 30. h6 gxh6 31. Qf6 Kg8 32. Qxh6 Qb4 33. Kh1 1-0

The game can be found here: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2017-isle-of-man-international-masters/03-Carlsen_Magnus-Xiong_Jeffery

If Magnus Carlsen has a weakness it is in the opening phase of the game. I criticized him in an earlier post on this blog because he played one of my favorite openings, the Bishop’s Opening, like a patzer (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/they-bad/).

Magnus lost to Bu Xiangzhi at the World Cup in Tbilisi earlier this year in a game that began 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4, but transposed into a Two Knight’s Defense. The game is annotated by the winner in New In Chess 2017/7. Have I mentioned New In Chess is the best Chess magazine in the solar system?

Carlsen, Magnus – Bu, Xiangzhi

FIDE World Cup 2017 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be6 8. Re1 Qd7 9. Nbd2 Rab8 10. Bc2 d5 11. h3 h6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5 Bd6 15. Re1 Bxh3 16. gxh3 Qxh3 17. Nf1 Rbe8 18. d4 f5 19. Bb3 c6 20. f4 Kh7 21. Bxd5 cxd5 22. Re3 Rxe3 23. Bxe3 g5 24. Kf2 gxf4 25. Qf3 fxe3+ 26. Nxe3 Qh2+ 27. Kf1 Rg8 28. Qxf5+ Rg6 29. Ke1 h5 30. Kd1 Kh6 31. Nc2 h4 32. Ne1 h3 33. Nf3 Qg2 34. Ne1 Qg4+ 35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. Nf3 Rg1+ 0-1

Maybe Magnus should stick to playing his Bishop to b5?

chess.com Isle of Man Masters, Prizegiving, 1 October 2017 (Nikon)

Magnus and female companion after winning the Isle of Man International

Who Are You?

Within the past several days I have been asked, via comment, “Who are you?” and, via email, “Why do you write a Chess blog?” Some time earlier I received an email from my friend Michael Mulford: “Just got a message from a very surprised David Rupel. One thing he pointed out was that your blog never identify who the author is!”

I replied, “OK Mulfish…I just went to my blog and…I’ll be damned, I could not find a way to get the the page showing who I am, which is really STRANGE, because some years ago a woman I knew in another life, (name withheld), whom my friends called a “New Ager” & (withheld) suddenly became a follower of the blog, so we emailed awhile so I could learn how she tracked me down, and she did it somehow, so I know there must be a way to find out who the AW is, it’s just that I do not know how to do it! Maybe in the real near future I will do a “Who I am” kinda thing as a post…

Since then I have learned that I must obtain a “Gravatar” if I want people to know who I am. I do not want a “Gravatar.” Hell, I do not even know what a “Gravatar is, and at my age, feel I can live, and die, without knowing, or having, a “Gravatar.”

This is rather ironic because over the weekend I found a new, and interesting, Chess blog, Chessentials, Vjekoslav Nemec’s Chess Blog (http://www.chessentials.com/). The first question posed is: “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHESS?” The answer follows: “My name is Vjekoslav Nemec and i am a candidate master from Croatia. My current rating is 2175 Fide Elo.” In addition he writes, “Which implies I don’t know that much at all.” This leads to the second question: WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING YOU DON’T KNOW “THAT MUCH AT ALL”? His answer is wonderful: “Because I love it. I really love chess and everything involved around chess, whether it is playing, reading or following top level games. And someone somewhere has once remarked that you should always pursue things you love.”

I am not as strong as Vjekoslav, but I have loved the Royal game for almost half a century. My name is W. Michael Bacon. I add the W. so as to not be confused with Michael H. Bacon, who played in Atlanta, Georgia, some years ago and people kept getting us confused. I am currently a floored Expert, rated 1800. Or as my friend OLM Neal Harris once said about a decade ago, “Hmmm, you’re a nineteen hunderd.” Yes, I know the correct spelling is “hundred,” but that is not the way we talk in the South. What, you think we Southern people talk funny? Former POTUS John F. Kennedy pronounced “Cuba” as “Cuber.” I do not even know how to write how yankees pronounce clam “chowder.” Maybe something like “CHOWdah.” However one pronounces it I’m here to tell you that the best “CHOWdah” I ever put into my mouth was at a roadside seafood stand in Sturbridge, Massachusetts while playing in a CCA Chess tournament. Those northern folk may talk funny, but they sure know their seafood!

I took being called a 1900 as a compliment. I drew with the Ol’ Swindler once on the White side of the Closed Sicilian. He sent me another game we had contested later in which I lost pitifully, also as White in a CS, and I thought, “Who was THAT player?” It was like two completely different players.

Actually, it made me feel good to be considered a 1900 player. When I first began playing seriously the highest rated player who came to the Atlanta Chess Club on Friday nights at the downtown YMCA was a fellow named Tom Pate, and he was rated 19 something. There were a few higher rated players in the area, like Experts D. Brad Wade, and William A. Scott, but they rarely played, and then only in tournaments like the Georgia State Championship. Coming to the game as an adult I never thought I would make it to 1900.

A decent introduction to who I am, including a picture taken earlier this decade, can be found here: https://en.chessbase.com/post/jon-speelman-s-agony-column-23

The two games encapsulate my Chess career, which was, like my life, erratic. I scored against some players much stronger than an I, such as Polish IM Andre Flipowicz (first round with Black, so it was no “buddy-buddy” draw), but lost to players many hundreds of points lower.

Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

I am the crack in the Chess board. I write about Chess from a different perspective, because I look at things a little differently than the herd. I am most definitely not one to tow the “party line.” One can find “Don’t worry, be happy,” and “Everything is beautiful in it’s on way,” blogs all over the internet. I question EVERYTHING! If I had lived in Communist Russia “they” would have, no doubt, sent me to Siberia. If I had been born to an African American woman I would have turned out to be “H. Rap Bacon.”

“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

Who am I?

The Armchair Warrior Versus Magnus Carlsen

Most of my morning was spent looking at Chess games on the internet from the London Classic, Russian Championship, and the big one, the TCEC Championship. Komodo had won game 73 of the 100 game match, bringing the score to 6 wins for the Dragon versus 11 for the Escape Artist known as Houdini. After a draw the two silicon combatants locked horns in a titanic struggle which lasted 213 moves, maybe half of those being played on the 15 second increment. Good thing the machines never need a rest room break! The programs squeeze every possibility out of a position, unlike humans who give up the ghost and head to the pub before reaching the middle game.

While watching the mammoth battle my thoughts drifted to a Q & A I had read concerning an interview the human World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, had given which was discussed by those involved with computer Chess.

Nelson: Let’s turn for a moment to human chess. Did you all see the recent interview with world chess champion Magnus Carlsen in Germany, where one of the leading topics of discussion was computer chess?

[Robert nods, Larry and Mark have not seen it]

In case you viewers didn’t see it, Magnus said that chess programs are stronger than human beings because of their obviously superior calculation ability, but oftentimes programs make moves that give evidence that they are clueless because their algorithms which stand in for human judgment are deficient. I think none of us would disagree with that. Am I right?

Robert: Uh-huh. Well, less and less, to be honest. Ten years ago what Carlsen said was obviously true, but today it is becoming less clear whether that is still the case.

Nelson: Okay. Then Magnus went on to say something interesting that made all of us in TCEC smile a bit. He was asked if he studied games played between chess engines. He said no. He said games played between chess engines were rubbish and that finding useful ideas within them was like finding a needle in a haystack. None of you match his skill level but you are all relatively good chess players. What do you think? Are engine games rubbish?

Larry: I think what he means is that they aren’t terribly useful for the purpose of coming up with ideas for a human to use against another human. Doesn’t mean that the games aren’t incredibly high-quality. They are too subtle I guess is the point. The reason for the moves are usually nothing that is directly usable by a human player.

Nelson: Robert?

Robert: Yep. I think that is the right interpretation. But the first thing to say is: Magnus doesn’t really like chess engines. [chuckles] He is not a big fan of chess engines.

Nelson: Yeah, I got that. He seemed really uncomfortable in that interview.

http://www.chessdom.com/interview-with-robert-houdart-mark-lefler-and-gm-larry-kaufman/

That made me think about GM Maurice Ashley’s commentary on the US Chess Championships. He will often say something like, “That is a computer move,” or, “No human would play a move like that.” I translate that as, “Humans do not play moves as strong as computers.” That is why the “engines” are rated 400 points higher than human players. Magnus said,”…games played between chess engines were rubbish…” The games between the best programs fascinate me. Magnus has a right to his opinion, but I beg to differ. The Go community does not think games played by “engines” are rubbish. On the contrary, they study them in order to learn from the “engines.” The highest ranking ever Western Go player, Michael Redmond. has spent an inordinate amount of time studying the games played between AlhpaGo and humans, and also games AlphaGo against itself. The “engine” has increased human understanding of the game of Go exponentially, especially in the opening phase of the game. Michael has shared the knowledge gleaned from his study of the games with everyone. For example, see: http://www.usgo.org/news/2017/11/alphago-zero-series-to-officially-launch-on-black-friday/

Komodo 1970.00 (3232)
Houdini 6.03 (3185)
TCEC Season 10 – Superfinal
75
2017.12.03
1/2-1/2
C45
Scotch: 4.Nxd4 Bb4+

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bb4+ 5. c3 Be7 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d6 8. Qa4 Nf6 9. Qxc6+ Bd7 10. Qa6 O-O 11. O-O Rb8 12. Nd2 Re8 13. Qa5 Bf8 14. c4 Ng4 15. Nf3 Bc6 16. b3 Ne5 17. Nxe5 dxe5 18. Bc2 Bb4 19. Qxa7 Bc3 20. Be3 Qc8 21. Qa3 Ra8 22. Qc1 Bxa1 23. Qxa1 Qb7 24. f3 Ra3 25. Rf2 Bd7 26. Bc1 Ra6 27. a4 c5 28. Be3 Rc6 29. Qd1 f6 30. h3 Be6 31. Kh2 Qc8 32. Rd2 Qc7 33. Rd3 f5 34. Bf2 f4 35. Bh4 h6 36. Bd8 Qf7 37. Qe2 Qg6 38. Bh4 Qf7 39. Bd8 Qg6 40. Qf2 Ra6 41. Bh4 Qh5 42. Qe1 Qf7 43. Qa1 Qc7 44. Be1 Bf7 45. Qd1 Be6 46. Bc3 h5 47. Qd2 g5 48. Bd1 Kf7 49. Qb2 Kf6 50. Qd2 Kf7 51. Qe1 Raa8 52. Be2 Rg8 53. Kg1 Kg6 54. Qa1 Kf6 55. Rd1 Rad8 56. Rf1 Ra8 57. Qb2 Rab8 58. Ra1 Rb7 59. a5 Rgb8 60. Ra3 Ra7 61. Ra1 Rab7 62. Ra3 Ra7 63. Qc1 Kg6 64. Qd1 Rf8 65. Ra2 Rd8 66. Qa1 Kf6 67. Bf1 Ra6 68. Qc1 Kg6 69. Qb2 Kf6 70. Ra1 Rb8 71. Ra3 Rba8 72. Be2 Rg8 73. Qc1 Kg6 74. Qa1 Kf6 75. Qe1 Kg6 76. Ra2 Rb8 77. Qb1 Rg8 78. Qa1 Kf6 79. Qe1 Kg6 80. Qa1 Kf6 81. Qd1 Rd8 82. Qc1 Rb8 83. Ra3 Kg6 84. Qb2 Kf6 85. Ra2 Rba8 86. Ra4 Rb8 87. Kh1 Rba8 88. Ra1 Rg8 89. Kg1 Rga8 90. Kh2 R6a7 91. Qd2 Kf7 92. Qd1 Rg8 93. Qe1 Rb8 94. Ra3 Rg8 95. Qa1 Kf6 96. Qc1 Kg6 97. Qd1 Kf7 98. Ra2 Ra6 99. Qa1 Kf6 100. g3 h4 101. g4 Rga8 102. Kg2 Rd8 103. Ra4 Bd7 104. Ra3 Be6 105. Qc1 Rb8 106. Qb1 Rd8 107. Qc1 Rb8 108. Qe1 Bc8 109. Qa1 Raa8 110. Qc1 Ba6 111. Bd1 Rb7 112. Ra1 Rd8 113. Qc2 Qd6 114. Be2 Qe6 115. Qb2 Rbb8 116. Ra2 Rd7 117. Qa3 Rdd8 118. Qb2 Rd7 119. Qa3 Rdd8 120. Kh2 Qe7 121. Rb2 Kf7 122. Qa4 Qe6 123. Qa3 Qe7 124. Kg2 Rb7 125. Rb1 Rdb8 126. Qa2 Rd8 127. Qa1 Kf6 128. Qa4 Qe6 129. Qa3 Qc6 130. Kh2 Rbb8 131. Qb2 Qc7 132. Kg2 Ke6 133. Qa1 Rb7 134. Qa4 Rbb8 135. Qa1 Rd7 136. Qa4 Rdd8 137. Rb2 Kf6 138. Qa1 Qc8 139. Rc2 Qe6 140. Qa3 Qe7 141. Kf1 Rd6 142. Ke1 Ke6 143. Rb2 Qc7 144. Rd2 Rxd2 145. Kxd2 Kf7 146. Kc2 Rd8 147. Qc1 Ke6 148. Kb2 Bb7 149. Qf1 Qd6 150. Ka3 Bc6 151. Qb1 Ra8 152. Qe1 Bb7 153. Qf1 Rd8 154. Qf2 Qc7 155. Qe1 Qd6 156. Qb1 Ba6 157. Qg1 Qc6 158. Qc1 Qc7 159. Kb2 Bb7 160. Qa1 Ba6 161. Qb1 Qd7 162. Qa1 Qc7 163. Qe1 Rd7 164. Qf1 Qd6 165. Qc1 Qc7 166. Ka3 Rd8 167. Qf1 Rd6 168. Kb2 Qb8 169. Qb1 Rd7 170. Ka3 Qc8 171. Qf1 Qf8 172. Qg1 Qd6 173. Qa1 Qc7 174. Qb2 Rd4 175. Qa2 Qb7 176. Qa1 Rd8 177. Qe1 Kf6 178. Bf1 Qc7 179. Qc1 Bb7 180. Kb2 Ke6 181. Qb1 Rb8 182. Qc2 Bc6 183. Ka3 Qd6 184. Qd3 Qe7 185. Be2 Ra8 186. Qd2 Rd8 187. Qc1 Qc7 188. Qg1 Bb7 189. Kb2 Rb8 190. Qd1 Bc6 191. Qe1 Ba4 192. Bd1 Bc6 193. Bc2 Ba4 194. Ka3 Be8 195. b4 cxb4+ 196. Bxb4 Rd8 197. Qe2 Kf6 198. Bb3 Bf7 199. Qf2 Rd4 200. Bc3 Qc5+ 201. Kb2 Rxc4 202. Qd2 Be6 203. Qd8+ Kf7 204. Bxc4 Qxc4 205. Qb6 Qe2+ 206. Kc1 Qxf3 207. Qc7+ Kg6 208. Qxe5 Qf1+ 209. Kc2 Qe2+ 210. Kc1 Qf1+ 211. Kc2 Qe2+ 212. Kc1 Qe3+ 213. Kc2 Qe2+ 1/2-1/2

Houdini 6.03 (3185)
Komodo 1970.00 (3232)
TCEC Season 10 – Superfinal
76
2017.12.03
1-0
C45
Scotch: 4.Nxd4 Bb4+

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bb4+ 5. c3 Be7 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d6 8. O-O Nf6 9. h3 O-O 10. Be3 Re8 11. Qc2 Bf8 12. Nd2 a5 13. Rae1 Bb7 14. Rd1 g6 15. Bg5 Be7 16. Rfe1 Nd7 17. Be3 Bh4 18. a4 c5 19. Bb5 Re6 20. Kh2 Rb8 21. g3 Bf6 22. f4 Qe7 23. Bf2 Nb6 24. Rc1 Rc8 25. Re2 Bg7 26. Rce1 Rb8 27. g4 Qd8 28. Bg3 Nd7 29. Nf3 Re7 30. b3 Kh8 31. Nd2 Kg8 32. Bh4 Bf6 33. Bf2 Re6 34. Bg3 Nb6 35. g5 Bg7 36. h4 Re7 37. f5 Be5 38. Bxe5 Rxe5 39. Nf3 Qe7 40. f6 Qe6 41. Qd3 c4 42. Bxc4 Nxc4 43. bxc4 h5 44. Nxe5 Qxe5+ 45. Qg3 Qc5 46. Rb2 Qxc4 47. Qe3 Kh7 48. Rb5 Qa2+ 49. Qe2 Qe6 50. Qg2 Qc4 51. Qb2 Qd3 52. Qe2 Qxc3 53. Qe3 Qc2+ 54. Re2 Qc4 55. Kg1 Qxa4 56. Qb3 Qxb3 57. Rxb3 a4 58. Rb5 Ba6 59. Rxb8 Bxe2 60. Rb7 c5 1-0

After this game Houdini has a commanding six point lead with only two dozen games left to contest.

The Laws of the Najdorf

My subscription to the best Chess magazine ever published in the history of the Royal Game, New In Chess, expired with the 2017/6 issue. Although I would like to renew financial conditions due to health issues, etc., are such that the decision was made for me. Living on a fixed income requires sacrifice. I had extra money after deciding to postpone dental work until spring and there were these two Chess books I’ve wanted to read for quite some time, Insanity, passion, and addiction: a year inside the chess world, by GM Danny Gormally, and Ivan’s Chess Journey: Games and Stories, by GM Ivan Sokolov. Greg Yanez of Chess4Less.com sent out an email announcing his Black Friday sale on Thursday evening and I was about to clear everything in order to listen to the weekly edition of Phenomenon Radio with Linda Moulton Howe (http://kgraradio.com/phenomenon-radio/) so I clicked on and examined all ninety pages of Chess items for sale, while listening to the program, ordering the above mentioned books and the new issue of New In Chess magazine because not only is it the best Chess magazine in the universe, but I am 67 and tomorrow is today. Alas, the issue contains book reviews by GM Matthew Sadler of two books on my wish list, The Rise and Fall of David Bronstein, by Genna Sosonko, and Guyla Breyer, by Jimmy Adams (published by New In Chess), both of which earned five, count’em, FIVE STARS! Two more books, or another subscription to the best Chess magazine in the universe? Oh well, I can take solace in that no matter how I choose to spend my money I cannot go wrong!

Before continuing, let me say that I met Greg at one of the National tournaments for children at the Hyatt in downtown Atlanta, Georgia some years ago. I purchased a stack of books while enjoying talking with Greg and the fellow with him, whose name I simply cannot recall. I spent most of my time while there in the book room, and returned the next day and did the same. The next year another group, USCF sales, had the book concession. I talked with Aviv Friedman, who was there to write an article for the USCF. I mentioned we had played a tournament game but he did not recall it. When told I answered his French with 2 Qe2 his face erupted in a big grin as he interjected, “And I played 2…e5!”
“You do remember it?” I asked. “No,” he said, “I always answer 2 Qe2 with 2…e5! Who won?” I told him he had won the game and that made him smile even more. “It is the only time anyone has ever played that move,” I said, “and I played 3 f4 because I had seen it recommended somewhere.”
Upon mentioning I had just returned from the book room he said, “Oh yeah? What did you think of it?”
When I replied, “Not much,” he said, “Really? Why is that?” Saying I had only purchased one book compared with a stack from Chess4Less the previous year, provoked another, “Really?”
“Yeah,” said I, “The place was moribund compared to last year. Man, that Chess4Less room was really hopping!” I said. Aviv responded, “Really?” Then some USCF official came up to Aviv and I took my leave, heading to the food court. Aviv did not mention this exchange in the article…

I sent my order that night and had it with the US Mail Monday at noon! I worked at the Oxford Bookstore on Peachtree road in the Buckhead section of Atlanta in the late 70’s-early 80’s, and at Oxford Too, a place for used and remaindered books and things like old magazines, later in the 80’s, and once managed a Mr. K’s bookstore on Peachtree road in the same area of town, before quitting to play Backgammon full time. I sold books and equipment with Thad Rogers on the road, and also at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, aka, the House of Pain, so I know more than a little about selling Chess stuff, and I am here to tell you that one simply cannot go wrong dealing with Chess4Less!

The 2017/7 issue of NIC is a wonderful issue. I recall the Nashville Strangler’s wife telling me that when a new issue of NIC arrived she would tell her children, “We have lost daddy for a couple of days.” This issue is a prime example of why.

What I would like to share with you is the opening of the very first game in this magnificent magazine, the game between former World Chess Champion Vishy Anand and GM Anton Kovalyov from the World Cup. That is the tournament in which the latter knocked out the former, but was then “knocked out” by ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili when Zurab verbally accosted and abused the young GM from Canada, who is in college in the USA, only a few minutes before the next round was to begin. Anton left for the airport immediately. From what I read at Chessbase, the bombastic Zurab brings lotsa cash into Chess so he can abuse anyone at any time with impunity and without any kind of reprimand from FIDE. Proof that, “Money talks and bullshit walks.”

Viswanathan Anand (2794) vs Anton Kovalyov (2649)
Event: FIDE World Cup 2017
Site: Tbilisi GEO Date: 09/06/2017
Round: 2.1 Score: 0-1
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Adams attack

Notes by Anish Giri

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 h5 (“This move is typical in the Najdorf, when White has a pawn of f3 and the knight on b3, stopping his pretty much only plan of g2-g4, or when White’s pawn is on h3 and the knight is on e2, hindering the g4/Ne2-g3 set-up and the natural development of the f1-bishop. With the knight on be and the pawn on h3, this move is poor. It is easy for White to prepare f4 in one go (which is more often than not his main plan in this variation anyway), and the pawn on h5 is a minor weakening of Black’s kingside pawn structure.”) 9 Be2 Nbd7 (Black’s set-up looks ‘normal’, but since it is not the 6 f3 variation but the 6 h3 variation and White gets f2-f4 in one go, Black is essentially a tempo down. You may get away with a tempo down in a Giuoco Piano, but not in a sharp Sicilian.”) 10 0-0?! (Vishy plays a little timidly, but he will get another chance to punish Black for not obeying the laws of the Najdorf later on. 10 f4! at once would have been stronger. Black has to deal with the threat of f4-f5, but neither allowing or stopping it will solve his issues: 10…Qc7!? 11 0-0 Be7 12 a4 and one doesn’t need to be Efim Petrovich Geller to see that things are not going well for Black here. To begin with, he can’t castle kingside so easily, since the h5-pawn is vulnerable.) 10…Rc8 11 Qd2 (Again, too timid. 11 f4!? was still strong. Vishy was satisfied to get a good version of the Karpov Variation in the 6 Be2 Najdorf, but the nature of that line is such that, bad version or good, the position is still perfectly playable for Black. White’s plans there are slow and manoeuvring.) 11…b5? (Another ‘normal-looking’ move that is completely out of context.)

Although I would like to give the complete game, including commentary, right out of New In Chess I must stop the comments here, because there are copyright laws and the last thing I need on my limited, fixed income is a lawyer breathing down my neck! I suggest you purchase this issue as it would truly be “cheap at twice the price.” Think of it this way…back in 1968 we would skip the awful lunch at our high school and drive to Mrs. Jackson’s, where we would obtain a meal consisting of a meat, three veggies, roll, iced tea, and dessert, all for only a buck. A meal like that will set you back ten dollars these daze, so an individual copy of the greatest Chess magazine in history will cost you about the same as that meal at Mrs. Jackson’s because that ten spot in your pocket has the purchasing power of that single dollar bill “back in the day.” If you purchase a subscription, you are making out like a bandit! I mean, where else can you obtain this kind of teaching for so little money? If you play the Najdorf, or play against it, you have just increased your understanding exponentially, and the magazine gives this to you each and every issue, plus so much more!

I will, though, provide the remaining moves of the game, sans comment, which can be found all over the internet: (This comes from 365chess.com)
9. Be2 Nbd7 10. O-O Rc8 11. Qd2 b5 12. Rfd1 Nb6 13. Bxb6 Qxb6 14. a4 b4 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bd7 17. a5 Qb7 18. Qe3 Be7 19. Qb6 Qxb6 20. axb6 Rb8 21. Rxa6 Bd8 22. b7 Ke7 23. Nc5 dxc5 24. d6+ Kf6 25. Bf3 Kf5 26. Bd5 e4 27. Re1 Bf6 28. Bxe4+ Kg5 29. Ra5 Bxb2 30. Rxc5+ Kf6 31. Re3 g6 32. Rf3+ Ke6 33. Rd3 Rhd8 34. Ra5 f5 35. Bf3 Bc3 36. h4 Kf6 37. g3 f4 38. Be4 Bf5 39. Bxf5 gxf5 40. Rb5 Ke6 41. Kf1 Rd7 42. gxf4 Rbxb7 43. Re3+ Kf6 0-1

I went to the Chessbase Database, a fantastic FREE resource, (http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/database/) and learned much: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 (Here Komodo prefers 8…Be7, expecting 9 Qf3 to which it will reply 9…0-0; Stockfish would play 8…Nc6, expecting 9 Qf3 Rc8) h5?! 9 Be2 (Stockfish plays 9 f4, while Houdini would play 9 Nd5) Nbd7 10 0-0?! (Stockfish would play an immediate 10 f4, but Komodo would play 10 0-0, as did Vishy, and after 10…Rc8 then play 11 f4)

This is the only other game (found at 365chess.com) with the line:

Ruifeng Li (2404) vs Guillermo Vazquez (2394)

Event: Spring Break UT GM
Site: Brownsville USA Date: 03/06/2015
Round: 1.3 Score: ½-½
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Byrne (English) attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. h3 h5 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. f4 g6 11. O-O exf4 12. Bxf4 Qb6+ 13. Qd4 Be7 14. Rad1 Qxd4+ 15. Nxd4 Ne5 16. Nf3 Nfd7 17. Nd5 Rc8 18. c3 Rc5 19. Be3 Rc8 20. Ng5 Bxd5 21. Rxd5 Nc5 22. Nf3 Ned7 23. e5 dxe5 24. Nxe5 Nxe5 25. Rxe5 Rc7 26. Bc4 Rh7 27. Bg5 f5 28. Bd5 Kf8 29. Bf4 Nd3 30. Re6 Nxf4 31. Rxf4 Bc5+ 32. Kf1 Rhd7 33. c4 1/2-1/2

The Najdorf was my favorite opening with Black “back in the day.” I won the 1976 Atlanta Championship using the Najdorf in the last round, when I was 4-0 while my opponent, Earle Morrison, was a half point back. I recall someone saying, “The Najdorf is not an opening. It is a SYSTEM,” but I can no longer recall by whom it was said…

Larry (Kaufman): “We have been seeing Komodo on its own, without a book, play the Najdorf Sicilian, which of course many people would say might be the best opening in chess for both sides.” (http://www.chessdom.com/interview-with-robert-houdart-mark-lefler-and-gm-larry-kaufman/)

While researching Chess quotes about the Najdorf I found this, which is right in line with one of the books sent by Greg:

Shock and Awe 1 – Destroying the Najdorf GM Danny Gormally
https://www.gingergm.com/blog/shock-and-awe-1-destroying-the-najdorf

GM Levon Aronian and his new bride, Arianne Caoili are pictured on the cover of NIC 2017/7 in wedding garb.

In the event you do not know what part GM Gormally plays in this story surf on over to Chessbase and read all about it: https://en.chessbase.com/post/party-time-at-the-che-olympiad

or, http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2006/06/swing-of-things.htm; or, http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/chess-beauty-triggers-feud/2006/06/07/1149359787726.html

Or, BUY THE MAGAZINE!

Led Zeppelin – Thank You (The Wedding Song)

Chess and Luck

One of my favorite Chess places on the internet is the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter, by IM John Donaldson. If you are new to Chess and unaware, the Mechanics’ Institute is located at 57 Post Street, in San Francisco, California. The newsletter is published almost every Friday, unless IMJD, as he is known, is out of town, as in being a team captain for the US Olympiad squad. The MIN is a veritable cornucopia of Chess information, and it continues to get better and better, if that is possible. The edition this week, #809, is no exception. For example we learn, “An article at the singer Joni Mitchell’s web site mentions she polished her talent at the Checkmate coffeehouse in Detroit in the mid-1960s.” I have just finished reading, Joni: The Anthology, edited by Barney Hoskins, and the just published, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, by David Yaffe, awaits.

John writes, “Few have done as much as Jude Acers to promote chess in the United States the last fifty years and he is still going strong. View one of his recent interviews here.” I love the sui generis Jude the Dude! For the link to the interview you must visit the MIN.

We also learn that, “Noted book dealer National Master Fred Wilson will open his doors at his new location at 41 Union Square West, Suite 718 (at 17th Street) on December 20.” In MIN # 804 we learned that, “Fred Wilson earns National Master at 71.”(!) Way to go Fred! Congratulations on becoming a NM while giving hope to all Seniors, and on the opening of your new location. There is also a nice picture of Fred included, along with many other pictures, some in color, which has really added pizazz to the venerable MIN!

There is more, much more, but I want to focus on: 2) Top Individual Olympiad Performers. John writes: “Outside of the World Championship the biannual Chess Olympiad is the biggest stage in chess. Although it is primarily a team event, individual accomplishment is noted, and no player better represented his country than the late Tigran Petrosian. The former World Champion scored 103 points in 129 games (79.8 percent) and lost only one individual game (on time) in a drawn rook ending to Robert Hubner in the 1972 Olympiad.

Garry Kasparov is not far behind with 64½ points in 82 games (78.7 percent), and unlike Petrosian his teams took gold in every Olympiad he played. Garry won gold but he did lose three games.

Two of the players who defeated Kasparov in Olympiads were present during the Champions Showdown in St. Louis last month: Yasser Seirawan and Veselin Topalov. The latter had an interesting story to tell about the third player to defeat Garry—Bulgarian Grandmaster Krum Georgiev.

According to Topalov, one could not accuse his countryman of being one of Caissa’s most devoted servants. Lazy is the word he used to describe Krum, who loved to play blitz rather than engage in serious study. However it was precisely this passion for rapid transit which helped him to defeat Garry.

Before the Malta Olympiad Georgiev was losing regularly in five-minute chess to someone Veselin referred to as a total patzer. He got so frustrated losing with White in the same variation, over and over again, that he analyzed the line in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf inside and out and came up with some interesting ideas. You guessed it—Garry played right into Georgiev’s preparation. Who says there is no luck in chess.”

The game is given so click on over to the MIN and play over a Kasparov loss in which he let the Najdorf down. (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php)

I want to focus on the part about there being no luck in Chess. After reading this I something went off in my brain about “Chess” & “Luck.” I stopped reading and racked my aging brain. Unfortunately, I could not recall where I had seen it, but it definitely registered. After awhile I finished reading the MIN and took the dog for a walk, then returned to rest and take a nap. I could not sleep because my brain was still working, subconsciously, I suppose, on why “Chess” & “Luck” seemed to have so much meaning to me…It came to me in the shower. I have been a fan of Baseball since the age of nine, and I am also a Sabermetrician.

Sabermetric Research

Phil Birnbaum

Chess and luck

In previous posts, I argued about how there’s luck in golf, and how there’s luck in foul shooting in basketball.

But what about games of pure mental performance, like chess? Is there luck involved in chess? Can you win a chess game because you were lucky?

Yes.

Start by thinking about a college exam. There’s definitely luck there. Hardly anybody has perfect mastery. A student is going to be stronger in some parts of the course material, and weaker in other parts.

Perhaps the professor has a list of 200 questions, and he randomly picks 50 of them for the exam. If those happen to be more weighted to the stuff you’re weak in, you’ll do worse.

Suppose you know 80 percent of the material, in the sense that, on any given question, you have an 80 percent chance of getting the right answer. On average, you’ll score 80 percent, or 40 out of 50. But, depending on which questions the professor picks, your grade will vary, possibly by a lot.

The standard deviation of your score is going to be 5.6 percentage points. That means the 95 percent confidence interval for your score is wide, stretching from 69 to 91.

And, if you’re comparing two students, 2 SD of the difference in their scores is even higher — 16 points. So if one student scores 80, and another student scores 65, you cannot conclude, with statistical significance, that the first student is better than the second!

So, in a sense, exam writing is like coin tossing. You study as hard as you can to learn as much as you can — that is, to build yourself a coin that lands heads (right answer) as often as possible. Then, you walk in to the exam room, and flip the coin you’ve built, 50 times.

——

It’s similar for chess.

Every game of chess is different. After a few moves, even the most experienced grandmasters are probably looking at board positions they’ve never seen before. In these situations, there are different mental tasks that become important. Some positions require you to look ahead many moves, while some require you to look ahead fewer. Some require you to exploit or defend an advantage in positioning, and some present you with differences in material. In some, you’re attacking, and in others, you’re defending.

That’s how it’s like an exam. If a game is 40 moves each, it’s like you’re sitting down at an exam where you’re going to have 40 questions, one at a time, but you don’t know what they are. Except for the first few moves, you’re looking at a board position you’ve literally never seen before. If it works out that the 40 board positions are the kind where you’re stronger, you might find them easy, and do well. If the 40 positions are “hard” for you — that is, if they happen to be types of positions where you’re weaker — you won’t do as well.

And, even if they’re positions where you’re strong, there’s luck involved: the move that looks the best might not truly *be* the best. For instance, it might be true that a certain class of move — for instance, “putting a fork on the opponent’s rook and bishop on the far side of the board, when the overall position looks roughly similar to this one” — might be a good move 98 percent of the time. But, maybe in this case, because a certain pawn is on A5 instead of A4, it actually turns out to be a weaker move. Well, nobody can know the game down to that detail; there are 10 to the power of 43 different board positions.

The best you can do is see that it *seems* to be a good move, that in situations that look similar to you, it would work out more often than not. But you’ll never know whether it’s 90 percent or 98 percent, and you won’t know whether this is one of the exceptions.

——

It’s like, suppose I ask you to write down a 14-digit number (that doesn’t start with zero), and, if it’s prime, I’ll give you $20. You have three minutes, and you don’t have a calculator, or extra paper. What’s your strategy? Well, if you know something about math, you’ll know you have to write an odd number. You’ll know it can’t end in 5. You might know enough to make sure the digits don’t add up to a multiple of 3.

After that, you just have to hope your number is prime. It’s luck.

But, if you’re a master prime finder … you can do better. You can also do a quick check to make sure it’s not divisible by 11. And, if you’re a grandmaster, you might have learned to do a test for divisibility by 7, 13, 17, and 19, and even further. In fact, your grandmaster rating might have a lot to do with how many of those extra tests you’re able to do in your head in those three minutes.

But, even if you manage to get through a whole bunch of tests, you still have to be lucky enough to have written a prime, instead of a number that turns out to be divisible by, say, 277, which you didn’t have time to test for.

A grandmaster has a better chance of outpriming a lesser player, because he’s able to eliminate more bad moves. But, there’s still substantial luck in whether or not he wins the $20, or even whether he beats an opponent in a prime-guessing tournament.

——

On an old thread over at Tango’s blog, someone pointed this out: if you get two chess players of exactly equal skill, it’s 100 percent a matter of luck which one wins. That’s got to be true, right?

Well, maybe you’re not sure about “exactly equal skill.” You figure, it’s impossible to be *exactly* equal, so the guy who won was probably better! But, then, if you like, assume the players are exact clones of each other. If that still doesn’t work, imagine that they’re two computers, programmed identically.

Suppose the computers aren’t doing anything random inside their CPUs at all — they have a precise, deterministic algorithm for what move to make. How, then, can you say the result is random?

Well, it’s not random in the sense that it’s made of the ether of pure, abstract probability, but it’s random in the practical sense, the sense that the algorithm is complex enough that humans can’t predict the outcome. It’s random in the same way the second decimal of tomorrow’s Dow Jones average is random. Almost all computer randomization is deterministic — but not patterned or predictable. The winner of the computer chess game is random in the same way the hands dealt in online poker are random.

In fact, I bet computer chess would make a fine random number generator. Take two computers, give them the same algorithm, which has to include something where the computer “learns” from past games (otherwise, you’ll just get the same positions over and over). Have them play a few trillion games, alternating black and white, to learn as much as they can. Then, play a tournament of an even number of games (so both sides can play white an equal number of times). If A wins, your random digit is a “1”. If B wins, your random digit is a “0”.

It’s not a *practical* random number generator, but I bet it would work. And it’s “random” in the sense that, no human being could predict the outcome in advance any faster than actually running the same algorithm himself.

http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2013/01/chess-and-luck.html

Charlotte Invitational: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

There were a “”whole lotta” short draws in the recently completed Charlotte Invitational held at the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy. Have you noticed that this century every “Chess Center” also is some kind of “Scholastic” something or other? Back in the day one went to a “Boys Club,” after first going to a “Scholastic Center,” which was known as a “school.”

I decided to cut and paste the draws “earned” in less than twenty moves, with the “winner,” the shortest draw first. The “winner” is:

IM ANGELO YOUNG vs NM BENJAMIN MOON

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bd3 Bg7 4. O-O Nc6 1/2-1/2

This transpired in the last round. It must be a terrible imposition on the players, after eight arduous rounds, to be forced to actually come to the board, fill out the scoresheet, and then make all of those moves when they would like to get on with their lives doing better things than playing Chess. Major League Baseball has discontinued the practice of forcing the pitcher to actually make a pitch when the manager chooses to issue an intentional walk, so why are Chess “players” forced to make a few moves when all they wanna do is go have some fun?

Elvis Presley – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On?

The silver medal goes to:

GM ALONSO ZAPATA vs GM TANGUY RINGOIR

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O a6 6. Ba4 Be7 7. Re1 O-O 1/2-1/2

Taking bronze is:

GM TANGUY RINGOIR vs GM DENES BOROS

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bd2 b6 7. e3 Bb7 8. Be2 1/2-1/2

Honorable mention goes to games that actually made it into double digits:

IM ROBERTO MARTIN DEL CAMPO vs IM ANGELO YOUNG

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Bd3 Ne7 6. O-O O-O 7. Bg5 f6 8. Bh4 Bf5 9. Bg3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 c6 11. Nbd2 1/2-1/2

FM GAURI SHANKAR vs IM ANGELO YOUNG

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 c5 1/2-1/2

FM KEVIN WANG vs GM TANGUY RINGOIR

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 Nf6 5. O-O d6 6. c3 a6 7. Bb3 Ba7 8. Re1 h6 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. h3 Re8 11. Nf1 Be6 12. Ng3 Qd7 1/2-1/2

GM DENES BOROS vs IM NICOLAS CHECA

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. Ngf3 Qxc5 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. O-O Be7 9. Re1 Qc7 10. Ne4 Nxe4 11. Rxe4 Nc5 12. Bb5+ Bd7 13. Bxd7+ 1/2-1/2

FM SAHIL SINHA vs IM SAFAL BORA

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bd2 Nb6 6. Bf4 Bg7 7. e3 O-O 8. Nf3 c5 9. dxc5 N6d7 10. Nd5 Nc6 11. Bc7 Qe8 12. Bg3 Qd8 13. Bc7 Qe8 14. Bg3 Qd8 15. Bc7 1/2-1/2

FM ELIOT SOO-BURROWES vs FM GAURI SHANKAR

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. g3 Bb4 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 Bxc3 6. dxc3 d6 7. O-O h6 8. Qc2 Nc6 9. e4 Be6 10. b3 Qd7 11. Rd1 b6 12. Nh4 Ne7 13. f4 Qc6 14. f5 Bc8 15. h3 b5 1/2-1/2

IM BRYCE TIGLON vs GM TANGUY RINGOIR

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. c3 Bd7 6. O-O g6 7. d4 Bg7 8. Re1 Nf6 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Bxc6 Bxc6 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Nxe5 Bxe4 13. Nxe4 Qxd1 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. Rxd1 Bxe5 1/2-1/2

IM FARAI MANDIZHA vs IM RAJA PANJWANI

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. a3 c5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Be5 Bf5 12. Be2 Bf6 13. Bd4 Ne6 14. O-O Nxd4 15. Nxd4 Be4 16. Qb3 Bxd4 1/2-1/2

FM SAHIL SINHA vs NM JOHN GABRIEL LUDWIG

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. e4 g6 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Nd2 Nbd7 11. a4 Ne5 12. Ra3 g5 13. Qc2 a6 14. Nd1 Ng6 15. Ne3 Rb8 16. a5 Qe7 17. f3 1/2-1/2

GM TANGUY RINGOIR vs IM NICOLAS CHECA

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bf4 Nc6 7. Rc1 Nh5 8. Bd2 Nf6 9. e3 Bg4 10. Qb3 Na5 11. Qa4+ Bd7 12. Qd1 Rc8 13. Ne5 e6 14. Bd3 Be7 15. Qf3 O-O 16. O-O Nc6 17. Qh3 g6 18. f4 Nxe5 19. fxe5 1/2-1/2

FM ELIOT SOO-BURROWES vs IM ANGELO YOUNG

1. c4 g6 2. g3 Bg7 3. Bg2 e6 4. Nc3 Ne7 5. e3 d5 6. Nge2 O-O 7. O-O dxc4 8. Qa4 c6 9. Qxc4 e5 10. d4 Nd7 11. Rd1 exd4 12. Nxd4 Qa5 13. b4 Qh5 14. Bf3 Qh3 15. Bg2 Qh5 16. Bf3 Qh6 17. e4 Qh3 18. Bg2 Qh5 19. Bf3 1/2-1/2

Notice all those games ended in under twenty moves? Since Jerry Lee Lewis continues to shake, rattle, and roll, I’ll give another couple of short draws so as to be able to include a few more “numbers.”

GM ALONSO ZAPATA vs IM ANDREW TANG

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. Bxc6+ bxc6 6. d4 f6 7. c4 Ne7 8. Nc3 Ng6 9. h4 h5 10. dxe5 fxe5 11. Ng5 Be7 12. g3 Qd7 13. f3 Bxg5 14. Bxg5 Qf7 15. Qd3 O-O 16. O-O Be6 17. b3 a5 18. Rac1 Kh7 19. Rf2 Rae8 20. Rd1 Ra8 21. Rc1 Rae8 22. Rd1 1/2-1/2

NM BENJAMIN MOON vs FM ELIOT SOO-BURROWES

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O d5 5. d3 O-O 6. Nbd2 c5 7. e4 Nc6 8. c3 e5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nc4 b6 11. Re1 f6 12. a4 Be6 13. Nfd2 Qd7 14. Ne4 Rfd8 15. a5 Nde7 16. Qa4 Rab8 17. axb6 axb6 18. Qa6 Qc7 19. Be3 Bd5 20. b4 b5 21. Ncd2 cxb4 22. cxb4 f5 1/2-1/2

Jerry Lee was still shakin’ late in life and I am certain some “players” will still be shaking hands as long as they continue to “play.”

If you would like more information on the tournament go to: https://www.charlottechesscenter.org/

All the games can be found here: http://chessstream.com/TournamentGames.aspx?EventName=Fall+2017+CCCSA+GM%2fIM+Norm+Invitational&PGNFileID=6396

The USCF recently published an article on the tournament, which can be found here: https://new.uschess.org/news/andrew-tang-completes-gm-title-charlotte-invitational-panjwani-earns-second-norm/

Until next time, keep on shakin’ baby SHAKIN’!