Jennifer Yu Losing The Won Game

Ah, the Chess players lament upon losing a won game…This writer has lost his share of so-called “won” games. Truth be told, I have lost more than my share of “won” games, because

After half a century playing Chess there is one particular tournament game that stands out in my memory. The game was with National Master Paul Linxwiler, of the Great State of Tennessee. I bungled the opening and butchered the middle game to the point it was only a matter of time before Paul landed the blow causing me to resign. Fortunately, that blow was not forthcoming. Move after move I had to sit there seeing all these winning moves that were not being made. This went on for many moves and much time. It was TORTURE! I refused to allow the thought that the man would continue to play second and/or third rate moves, but that is just what he did, until finally offering a draw. I broke my hand bringing it from underneath the table to take his proffered hand, metaphorically speaking, of course… When we went over the game I pointed out each and every better move he had not played as Paul sat there shaking his head, mortified at what he was seeing…

Jennifer Yu

had one of those “won” games in the third round of the 2021 US Masters. I was watching the action at, where you get it straight, without analysis or some thermometer type thingamajig bouncing up and down when a move is made. After seeing bad move after bad move being played I will admit to having gone to to check out the, shall we say, ‘colorful’ moves being made by Ms. Yu. It was difficult to believe what was being seen, as Jennifer continued playing weak moves, with a generous supply of what GM Yasser Seiriwan would call “Howlers,” thrown into the mix to keep one amazed. No pleasure was taken seeing her torturous moves being played as I reflected on the Linxwiler game… After playing over the game I understood why Jennifer withdrew from the tournament:

IM Josiah Stearman 2413 (USA) vs WGM Jennifer Yu 2247 (USA)
U.S. Masters 2021 round 03
D19 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch variation

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. e4 Bg4 11. e5 Nd5 12. Nxd5 cxd5 13. Bd3 Bh5 14. Qe3 Be7 15. a5 Nb8 16. Bd2 a6 17. h3 Nc6 18. g4 Bg6 19. Bxg6 fxg6 20. Ne1 g5 21. Nd3 Qe8 22. Rac1 Qg6 23. f3 Rac8 24. Rc3 Na7 25. f4 Rxc3 26. bxc3 gxf4 27. Qf3 Nc6 28. Ra1 Qe8 29. Qd1 g5 30. Bc1 Qg6 31. Qf3 Bd8 32. Ba3 Bxa5 33. Bxf8 Bxc3 34. Rc1 Bxd4+ 35. Kg2 Kxf8 36. h4 Be3 37. Rc3 Nd4 38. Qd1 Qe4+ 39. Kh3 Nb5 40. Rc8+ Ke7 41. hxg5 Ba7 42. g6 hxg6 43. Kh4 g5+ 1-0
  1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. e4 Bg4 (Although Deep Fritz 13 likes this move, Komodo plays 10…Bg6, as have 1165 humans, compared to the 116 who preferred 10…Bg4) 11. e5? (The ChessBaseDataBase contains only 19 games in which this move has been played; it has only scored 45%. 11 Rd1 has been played 119 times, and is the choice of Stockfish, Komodo, and Houdini while scoring 55% of the time, therefore the question mark) 11…Nd5 12. Nxd5 (Houdini @depth 25 plays 12 h3, as does Stockfish 14 @depth 20. SF 270919 @depth 23 plays 12 Bd2) 12…cxd5 (SF plays12…exd5) 13. Bd3 (Komodo and Fritz play the game move, but SF 11 @depth 23 plays 13 Bb5, a TN) 13…Bh5 (According to the CBDB this move has been played 445 times, which could be a mistake as 365Chess shows only 5 games. SF 13 @depth 37 and SF 221121 @depth 38 both prefer 13…f6. For those of you new to the game, the reason for the move of the f-pawn is to confront the white outpost on e5, which is in your territory and must be dealt with sooner or later, so why not now? Then again, Deep Fritz would play 13…Rc8. The vacillating move made in the game is weak. Allowing your opponent a free move when one begins the game down a move is not to be recommended) 14. Qe3 Be7 15. a5 Nb8 16. Bd2 a6 (Komodo @depth 38 plays this move but SF 240321 @depth 56 plays 16…Nc6) 17. h3 is a TN. (SF & Komodo agree 17 Ne1 is best)

Jan Smejkal (2540) vs Eduard Meduna (2485)
Event: Hradec Kralove
Site: Hradec Kralove
Date: ??/??/1981
Round: 11
ECO: D19 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch variation
1.c4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.O-O Nbd7 9.Qe2 O-O 10.e4 Bg6 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3 Be7 15.Bd2 Nb8 16.a5 a6 17.Ne1 Bg6 18.f4 Nc6 19.g4 f5 20.exf6 Bxf6 21.Bc3 Qe8 22.Nf3 Bxd3 23.Qxd3 Qg6 ½-½

Elshan Moradiabadi (2485) vs Vadim Malakhatko (2556)
Event: Paris-ch
Site: Paris
Date: 07/16/2005
Round: 8
ECO: D19 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch variation
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.O-O Nbd7 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 O-O 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3 Be7 15.Bd2 Nb8 16.a5 a6 17.Ne1 Bg6 18.f4 Nc6 19.Bxg6 hxg6 20.Nd3 ½-½

2021 US Masters: GM Alexander Shabalov vs NM Deepak Aaron

GM Shabalov should need no introduction but if one is needed the reader can check out the introductory remarks found here (

NM Deepak Aaron

Deepak Aaron is a solid National Master player who was once the Georgia Tech Chess Club President ( Deepak is known for giving charity simultaneous exhibitions (

GM Alexander Shabalov (USA) vs Deepak Aaron (USA)
U.S. Masters 2021 round 02
A80 Dutch

  1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 d5 5. O-O Bd6 6. c4 c6 7. b3 Qe7 8. Ne5 O-O 9. Bb2 Bd7 10. Nd2 Be8 11. Ndf3 Bh5 12. Nd3 Nbd7 13. Nfe5 g5 14. f3 Rad8 15. Qc2 Bg6 16. Rae1 Qg7 17. Qc1 f4 18. gxf4 Bxd3 19. Nxd3 Qh6 20. e3 gxf4 21. exf4 Ne8 22. Rf2 Ng7 23. Bf1 Bxf4 24. Nxf4 Rxf4 25. Ba3 Nf6 26. Rg2 Kf7 27. Qe3 Rh4 28. Qf2 Nf5 29. cxd5 Nxd5 30. Bc1 Nf4 31. Rg4 Rg8 32. h3 Rxh3 33. Bg2 Rh1+ 34. Bxh1 Nh3+ 35. Kf1 Nxf2 36. Bxh6 Nxg4 37. Bf4 Nf6 38. Be5 Nd7 39. Bg2 Nxe5 40. dxe5 Nh4 41. Bh1 Rd8 0-1
  1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. g3 (3 c4 was the choice in 1501 games at the ChessBaseDataBase, resulting in a 54% outcome for white. The 1239 games in which 3 g3 was played is the second most often played move, but the result has been better at 56% for white. Stockfish 14 @depth 49 and SF 220521 @depth 51 will play 3 Bf4, which has seen action in only 173 games. I kid you not…Even more astounding is that the result has been an incredible 62%!) 3…Nf6 4. Bg2 (SF and Komodo play 4 c4) 4…d5 5. O-O (SF goes with 5 c4) 5…Bd6 6. c4 c6 7. b3 (SF says Ne5) 7…Qe7 8. Ne5 (In almost one half of the games played [844] 8 Bb2 has been the move played even though it has only scored 51%. Go figure… One Komodo program prefers 8 Nc3 [45 games; 57%], while another prefers 8 Qc2 [67 games; 57%]. Then there is Houdini…who would play 8 Ne5, as has been played in 253 games while scoring a fantastic 60% against the highest rated opposition!) 8…O-O (Komodo castles but SF prefers 8…Nbd7) 9. Bb2 (Fritz plays the game move but Komodo plays 9 Bf4) 9…Bd7 (SF 14 plays 9…b6. Deep Fritz plays 9…Nbd7) 10. Nd2 Be8 (Komodo and Deep Fritz 13 play this but SF 8 plays 10…Rd8) 11. Ndf3 (The most often played move and the choice of Komodo, but SF 14 plays 11 Nd3) 11…Bh5 (SF 12 @depth 38 plays 11…Bg6) 12. Nd3 (SF 8 plays the game move but SF 13 @depth 35 plays 12 Ne1 a NEW MOVE, and a TN if and when it is played over the board against a human opponent…) 12…Nbd7 13. Nfe5 g5 (Fritz likes 13…Bc7; SF 8 plays 13…Ba3, both of which will be a TN if and when…)

13…g5 was a surprising choice by Mr. Aaron and certainly must say something about the kind of player who would fire the g-pawn salvo at his esteemed Grandmaster opponent. A player does not make such a move in an attempt to draw. Things got interesting quickly after GM Shabba pushing his e-pawn only one square in lieu of two on move twenty. Then after 20…gxf4 Shabba should probably taken the pawn with his knight with 21 Nxf4. It was at this moment Deepak could have taken control of the game by playing 21…Nh5, but played the retrograde and limp-writsted 21…Ne8 giving the advantage to Shabba. Only a couple of moves later Shabba played a limp-wristed move himself when easing the Bishop back to f1. Deepak answered by taking the pawn on f4, which was the reddest move possible according to the Bomb; big advantage to Shabba. After the exchanges on f4 on move 24 the GM had a won game. With all the action taking place on the king side Shabba, for some reason, decided to move his Bishop to a3, tossing away his advantage. For the next several moves there was punching and counter punching with the game staying about even, Steven, until the GM played 32 h3, again a BRIGHT RED move, the kind of move GM Yasser Seriwan would call a “howler” and it was time to turn out the lights because the party was over…

GM Lev Polugaevsky (2610) vs GM Borislav Ivkov (2485)
Event: Oviedo rapid
Site: Oviedo Date: ??/??/1991
Round: 9
ECO: A40 Queen’s pawn
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 d5 5.O-O Bd6 6.c4 c6 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bb2 O-O 9.Nbd2 Bd7 10.Ne5 Be8 11.Ndf3 Nbd7 12.Nd3 Bh5 13.Nfe5 g5 14.f3 Rad8 15.Qd2 Qg7 16.Bc3 Bb8 17.h3 Nxe5 18.dxe5 Ne4 19.fxe4 dxe4 20.g4 Bg6 21.gxf5 Bxf5 22.Rxf5 exf5 23.e6 Qe7 24.Bb2 exd3 25.Qc3 Qc5+ 26.Kf1 dxe2+ 27.Kxe2 Be5 28.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 29.Bxe5 Rfe8 30.Bc3 Rxe6+ 31.Kf2 Rd3 32.Bb4 Kf7 33.Bf1 Rd4 34.Be2 Kg6 35.Rf1 h5 36.Bd1 Rd3 37.Bc2 Rxh3 38.Kg2 Re2+ 39.Kxh3 Rxc2 40.Rd1 f4 41.Rd2 Rxd2 42.Bxd2 Kf5 43.Bb4 Ke4 44.Be7 g4+ 45.Kg2 b6 46.a4 Kd3 47.Kf2 0-1

US Masters First Round: NM Matthew Puckett vs GM Alex Shabalov

Matthew Puckett is a National Master from the Great State of Alabama, where he is currently the highest rated player. Mr. Puckett is strong enough to have bested a Grandmaster, Sam Palatnik. The battle, featuring a Leningrad Dutch, was contested at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center. Not many, if any, GMs lost at the House of Pain.

Alexander Shabalov is enshrined in the US Chess Hall of Fame.

Matthew Puckett 2138 (USA) vs GM Alexander Shabalov 2496 (USA)
U.S. Masters 2021 round 01
D30 Queen’s gambit declined

White to make eighth move
White to make twelfth move
White to make sixteenth move
  1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 a5 6. Qc2 O-O 7. Bg2 c5 8. dxc5? (Players are taught it is usually better to capture toward the center. Although a small mistake, it would have been much better to play 8. cxd5)

8…d4 9. Bxb4 axb4 10. Nbd2 Nc6 11. O-O e5 12. Rfd1? (12 Ng5 must be played as it is the only move not causing disadvantage) 12… Qe7 13. Nb3 h6 14. Ne1 Bg4 15. Qd2 Rfd8 16. Nd3? (The game, for all intents and purposes is over after this egregious mistake. When deciding upon a move a player will ask himself before making the move, “With which move will my opponent reply?” In this case the answer is obvious, which means that after the expected 16…e4, Matthew planned to play 17 Nxb4, because what kind of player would move the Knight to d3 if he were intending on retreating immediately? Yet that is the move Mr. Puckett should have played, but by then he had completely lost his objectivity and carried on with his ill-fated plan…) 16…e4 17. Nxb4 Nxb4 18. Qxb4 d3 19. f3 dxe2 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. fxg4 Rd1+ 22. Kf2 e1=Q+ 23. Qxe1 Nxg4+ 24. Kg1 Rxe1+ 25. Rxe1 f5 26. Bf1 Ne5 27. Be2 Qg5 28. Kf2 f4 0-1