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 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/08/03/the-charlotte-chess-center-scholastic-academy-summer-2021-cccsa-gm-im-norm-invitational-extravaganza/) 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:
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
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
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,
was playing. He is a prolific author and also has a website. (https://mihailmarin.com/) 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…
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.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 365Chess.com and the following game shows that Mirzoev deviated at move 11, thereby producing a Theoretical Novelty with 11 b4)
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
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
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)
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
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