Viewing the 2021 US Chess Championships

There will be a playoff for the title of 2021 US Chess Champion between three players, two of them world class. Fabiano Caruana

is currently ranked third in the world after losing two games, back to back, in the recently completed 2012 US Chess Championship. Wesley So

is ranked eighth in the world. Then there is Sam Sevian…There is a saying in Poker that is applicable here: “If you don’t see a sucker at the table, you’re it.” Sam was ranked 91st on the top list compiled by FIDE before the tournament, and he did gain points for his good performance. Being one of the top 100 Chess players in the world is a tremendous achievement for any player, but Caruana drew a match with the World Chess Champion in which he was not defeated in the only games that count, those played with a classical time limit. The quick play playoff to determine the “champion” is a joke and terrible insult to the players who just spent almost two weeks vying for the title because Chess is inherently unfair since there is an odd number of rounds and some players sit behind the White army in more games than other players, which gives them a HUGE advantage. Caruana and Sevian each had the White pieces in six games while Wesley So had the White pieces in only FIVE games. Therefore, Wesley So should be crowned as the 2021 US Chess Champion. Congratulations to the Champ, Wesley So!

The tournament was Sam Sevian’s for the taking. In the penultimate round he was a pawn up and could have played 27 Kc2 in lieu of repeating the position but for whatever reason Sam decided to play poltroon Chess. You can bet your sweet bippy Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer Against the World - Trinity News
Bobby Fischer Against the World – Trinity News

would have played 27 Kc2. Then in the last round this “game”, and I use the word loosely, was “played.”

Daniel Naroditsky

vs Samuel Sevian

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Qb3 Na5 11. Qa4+ Nc6 12. Qb3 Na5 13. Qa4+ Nc6 1/2-1/2

It made me wanna PUKE!

If ever there were a time to play for a win it was this game because victory could possibly bring the coveted title of United States Chess Champion and probably entry into the US Chess Hall of Fame. His opponent had just lost a game the previous round and his testosterone level had to be low. Naroditsky had already lost FOUR GAMES! Do you think Bobby Fischer would have played the above game in the LAST ROUND of a US Chess Championship? In the post game interviews Naroditsky was obviously happy with the short draw, saying something about how he “…should have drawn the day before.” When it came time for Sam to explain his decision to acquiesce to the repetition he explained by saying, “Before the tournament my plan was to play solidly with Black…” Translated that says he was “…playing to draw with black and win with white.” The young man should not even be called a “Co-Champion.” No matter what happens for the remainder of his Chess career Sam Sevian will continue to wonder what might have been if only he had

The question will haunt him until he takes his last breath.

The sixth round game between Ashritha Eswaran
Ashritha Eswaran | Top Chess Players –

and Megan Lee
2021 U.S. Chess Championships: Megan Lee Interview | Round …

reached this position after the moves: 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O e5 5. d3 Ne7 6. Nbd2 O-O 7. e4 c6 8. Re1 Qd6 9. c3 f5

White to move

Eswaran played 10 d4 and Maurice obviously very much liked the move, calling it “…an outstanding move!” I was following the action at FollowChess ( because only the moves are displayed and I had my doubts. Still, Maurice has some kind of computer Chess program, so I thought it must be OK…Nevertheless, inquiring minds want to know, so I surfed on over to ChessBomb ( where a Red move was showing…Chess24 says White goes from being “much better” to “equal.” Maybe the “engine”, as they are so fond of calling the computer program, had a glitch, or was turned off…

I took note of the following because it was so hilarious, coming as it did from a player not known for playing 1 e4 during his illustrious career: Yaz: “Nobody likes to play against the Najdorf because the variations are so lengthy…” Round 8 2:45 into the game. You know that put a smile on the face of Mr. Najdorf, French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave!

Shenzhen, tras 8 rondas: mandan Maxime Vachier-Lagrave y ...

The thing is that I stopped playing the Najdorf over four decades ago after hearing a Grandmaster talk about those players “Who study the Najdorf but not Chess.” Still, I learned much about the Royal game by playing the Najdorf. One never forgets his first love…

During the final game of the event, between Bruzon Batista

and Alex Lenderman

which lasted for 127 moves, Maurice said, “If only we could be paid by the move.” Cracked me up…I will admit to have been “pulling” for Lenderman, and evidently not the only one. If only he had found 38 Qa1, challenging the Black Queen, in lieu of 38 Rc8 against Caruana in round 10…

phamlore: What could Lenderman do? He needed a win today, and he never had a position where a win for Black was that doable?
ArcticStones: Lenderman has had an impressive tournament, imho.
jphamlore: Lenderman tried at least. It’s just his opponent played a decent game himself.
Terugloper: @Arctic –> Could be, but Imho your commentaries during this tournament are way more impressive
ArcticStones: You jest. Commenters such as jphamlore know far more about chess than I do!
Terugloper: Lol!!!
ArcticStones: I’m serious.
KJBellevue: The evaluation here is totally wrong
Terugloper: Why?
KJBellevue: Tablebase clearly indicates a draw
Terugloper: I see
Terugloper: So 74. … Kh2 was an acceptable move?
KJBellevue: Yes, still drawn
Terugloper: Okay
Terugloper: Long Live Lenderman, folks!
Terugloper: I would play 78. Kc6 to have square d6 available for possible Q-trades
KJBellevue: But Black can still check on the white squares
Terugloper: Yes
Terugloper: Lenderman know his stuff
Terugloper: *knows
Terugloper: Black Queen Symphony
Terugloper: Black Queen Symphony on white squares
jphamlore: Lenderman the king of instructional endgames this event.
Terugloper: Yeah – Endgame King Lenderman
Terugloper: But still I give all of you the following strict advice –> Don’t try this at home
Terugloper: Lenderman feeling so comfortable now that he attacks on the black squares now
KJBellevue: He knows this ending well
jphamlore: Unfortunately, even if White touched the wrong piece, I’m not sure Lenderman has any way to win this.
Terugloper: Lenderman – The living table base on two legs
I_LUV_U: a table base is three or four legs
Terugloper: Why not five legs?
Terugloper: You met one in the subway?
mrlondon: What the record for most number of checks in a game?
Terugloper: Good question – I will ask Tim Krabbé
Terugloper: In the 200-move game Wegner – Johnsen, Gausdal 1991 a total of 141 checks were given, of which 98 by White alone.
mrlondon: Interesting. Thanks!
mrlondon: It’s not going to happen here.
Terugloper: Yep
Terugloper: Just 10 moves to go now for 50-rule move draw claim
Terugloper: 5 moves
Terugloper: Minus 2 moves
KJBellevue: 🙂
Terugloper: Bellevue! My main man!!!
Rhinegold: eval also indicates draw, noob, lol

The coverage was excellent even though Jennifer Shahade

PokerStars Ambassadors Jennifer Shahade & Keith Becker ...

was missing. She does bring a terrific smile and is the perfect foil to the understated Yasser Seirawan as she has occasionally given him perfect opportunities for a SNL moment that Yaz used so effectively with the previous female to accompany him:

One of my favorite features was the “Parkside Chats” between Yaz and Maurice. Although they are all good, the one that follows is my favorite because I worked at a Chess Club:

The next one is great in a historical sense as the guys discuss what it was like ‘back in the day’ when Bobby Fischer put the Royal game on the front page of every newspaper and every broadcast of the nightly new on television. After watching these videos I realized how much laughter has been missing in the pandemic era. Sometimes one really does need to laugh to keep from crying…

2021 U.S. Chess Championships: Chess Presentation | Parkside Chat

I urge you to take a few more minutes to watch this video which is an interview with one of the top players of the game of Scrabble in the world, who lives near the St Louis Chess Campus. You can thank me for bringing it to your attention by leaving a comment:

2021 U.S. Chess Championships: Chris Lipe Interview | Round 9

Smokey Mountain Smith-Morra

Bruce Goodwin is a Chess Cat who also happens to be the President of the Smokey Mountain Chess Club (, which meets every Thursday afternoon at a wonderful place, Blue Ridge Books ( Check out this article from a local tabloid:
The Chess Cat likes the Smith-Morra Gambit. Over time I have sent Bruce a few games, and articles, via email, such as this one:
Deming – Cornell (Indiana, 1980)
1. e4 c5 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 de4 4. Ne4 Nd7 5. Qe2 Ngf6 6. Nd6#

His response was, “Thanks, dude!” This put a smile on my face and also caused me to sit back an reflect upon good times and good people, who can be found at a good place. Keep this in mind if you ever happen to be anywhere the glorious mountains of Western North Carolina. I dedicate this post to the Chess Cat, and all the men of the Dixie Chess Confederacy who meet to play the Royal game every Thursday afternoon.

FM Kazim Gulamali also likes the Smith-Morra. The motto of St. Pauli Girl beer is, “You never forget your first girl.” The SM was Kazim’s first love, and he has never forgotten it, as can be ascertained from the fact that he still plays it, as in this game:

Gulamali, Kazim (2293) vs Kanter, Eduard (2406)
16th Dubai Open 2014 04/15/2014 Rd 9
ECO: B21 Sicilian, Smith-Morra gambit

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. c4 Nc6 5. Bxd3 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 d6 8. h3 Nf6 9. O-O Nd7 10. Qe2 Nc5 11. Rd1 O-O 12. Bc2 Bxc3 13. bxc3 Qc7 14. Bh6 Re8 15. Nd4 a6 16. f4 e5 17. Nxc6 Qxc6 18. f5 f6 19. Rd5 Qc7 20. Rad1 Rd8 21. Qf2 Qe7 (White to move. Answer at the end of article.)

While researching the opening I discovered a game by a long-time habitue of the House of Pain, Lester Bedell. It was surprising to find his highly rated opponent is also a big fan of the Smith-Morra gambit.

Alex Lenderman (2327) vs Lester B Bedell (1903)
6th Foxwoods 2004 Rd 9

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. c4 g6 5. Bxd3 Bg7 6. Nf3 d6 7. h3 Nc6 8. O-O Nf6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Be3 Nd7 11. Qd2 Nde5 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 (SF & Hou prefer Qa5) 13. Be2 Be6 (Nc6-Hou) 14. Nd5 Bxd5 (Nd7-Hou) 15. cxd5 b6 16. Rac1 Nd7 17. Rc6 Nc5 18. Qc2 a5 19. b3 Qb8 20. a3 f5 21. exf5 gxf5 22. b4 axb4 23. axb4 f4 24. Bxc5 bxc5 25. bxc5 dxc5 26. Qxc5 Qb2 27. Re6 Ra1 28. Qxe7 Rxf1+ 29. Bxf1 Bf6 30. Qd6 Bd4 31. Re2 Qc1 32. Qe6+ Kh8 33. Qe4 Bc5 34. Rc2 Qa3 35. Qe5+ Kg8 36. d6 Bxd6 37. Bc4+ Rf7 38. Qe8+ Kg7 39. Qxf7+ 1-0

Lester was punished for his weakening 20th move. Wondering about Lester sent me to the USCF website where I discovered he has not played since the Atlanta Winter Congress in Feburary of 2009, and that his USCF membership expired a year later. I recall receiving a message from Lester after he won a chess tournament in his home, which I wrote about on the defunct BaconLOG (

Here is another game, a blitz match on on 2/28/2007:
Nepomniashchy (2587) vs Nakamura (2651)
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. c4 g6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 Bg7 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Bxd3 Bg4 9. Be2 Bxf3 10. Bxf3 Nf6 11. Be2 Rc8 12. O-O a6 13. Rc1 O-O 14. b3 Nd7 15. Nd5 e6 16. Nf4 Qe7 17. Rc2 Rfd8 18. Rd2 Nc5 19. f3 Bh6 20. Kh1 Qf8 21. Re1 e522. Nd5 Bxe3 23. Nxe3 Ne6 24. Bf1 Ncd4 25. Nd5 f5 26. exf5 gxf5 27. f4 Qg7 28. Rd3 Kh8 29. Rg3 Qf7 30. fxe5 f4 31. Rd3 dxe5 32. Rxe5 Nc6 33. Re1 Re8 34. Rd2 Ng5 35. Rxe8+ Rxe8 36. Rf2 Ne4 37. Rf3 Ne5 38. Qd4 Ng5 39. Rxf4 Qg7 40. Nf6 Nc6 41. Nxe8 Qxd4 42. Rf8# 1-0

I also discovered a blog entry devoted to the Smith-Morra, ENYCA, the blog of the Eastern New York Chess Association. The title is, “A tale of two titles: Morra gambit and the romantic school of chess,” and it was posted on August 10, 2014, by M Walter Mockler. ( He writes, “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”
“I have spent decades rejecting the Morra gambit on the grounds of materialism, an unnecessary squandering of material in response to the Sicilian. I purchased a book by Marc Esserman, Mayhem In The Morra, to introduce a volatile option for blitz and rapid play. What I found instead was a compelling appeal by a zealot, urging a return to the true faith, romantic chess.”
From the Introduction – The Much Maligned Morra:
After 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cd 3. c3, we reach the starting position of the much maligned Morra Gambit. I must confess that this is often the moment in my chess praxis when my heart thumps most – will my opponent accept the sacrifice in the spirit of the Romantics, or will he shun the most honorable path and meekly decline? Sometimes I wait for the critical decision for many minutes as my grandmaster foe flashes me an incredulous, bordering on insulted, loo. Other times, I receive the answer almost instantaneously. Yet every time I am greeted with 3 …dc, I could not be happier. My knight freely flows to c3, the Morra accepted appears, and we travel back in time to the 19th century.”

Is that not beautiful? Kind of makes one want to play the Smith-Morra gambit, does it not? It makes me think of Ken Smith, whom I first met at the 1972 Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in San Antonio. Wiki has this to say:
“The Smith–Morra is named after Pierre Morra (1900–1969) from France, and Ken Smith (1930–1999) of the Dallas Chess Club. Hence in Europe the name Morra Gambit is preferred; names like Tartakower Gambit and Matulovic Gambit have disappeared.
Morra published a booklet and several articles about the Smith–Morra around 1950. Smith wrote a total of nine books and forty-nine articles about the gambit. When Smith participated in an international tournament against several top grandmasters in San Antonio in 1972, he essayed the opening three times, against Donald Byrne, Larry Evans, and Henrique Mecking, but lost all three games.” (

What Wiki does not say is that in the book, “San Antonio: Church’s Fried Chicken First International Chess Tournament,” GM Bent Larsen writes in the notes to the second round game between Ken and NM Mario Campos-Lopez, after 1 e4 e6, “Stronger is P-QB4, which wins a pawn (Smith always plays the Morra Gambit, in this tournament with disastrous results.)”

Kenneth R Smith (2395) vs Donald Byrne (2470)
San Antonio 1972 Rd 4

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Nge7 (“By this piece arrangement Black demonstrates ambitious intentions. He wants not only to blunt White’s usual P-K5, …but Black also wants to contest the dark squares (his K4 and KB5).”- Ken Smith in his book “Sicilian: Smith-Morra Gambit Accepted.”) 8. Bg5 a6 9. Qe2 h6 10. Bh4 (In his book, Smith criticizes this move, giving as its refutation 10… P-KN4 11 B-KN3 B-N2 12 QR-Q1 P-K4 when “the threat of 13…B-N5 is strong.” Instead he recommends 10 B-K3 N-N3 11 QR-Q1. One can only surmise that in playing the text he had in mind an improvement on the analysis in the book, but Byrne is the first to vary.) Qa5 11. Bg3 Ng6 12. Qd2 (A scandalous waste of a tempo in a variation where White’s only real compensation is his slight initiative. 12 P-Q3 was probably best.) Nge5 13. Nxe5 dxe5 14. a3 Be7 15. b4 Qd8 16. Qa2 b5 17. Bb3 O-O 18. Qb2 Bb7 19. Ne2 Bf6 20. f3 Qc7 21. Rac1 Rfd8 22. Kh1 Rd3 23. Nd4 Qd7 24. Nxc6 Bxc6 25. Rc5 Be7 26. Rcc1 Bg5 27. Rcd1 Rd8 28. h4 (“White had almost equalized, but this move is terrible. 28 P-R3 was much better.” – Browne) Bf6 29. Bxe5 Bxe5 30. Qxe5 Qe7 31. Qb2 Qxh4+ 32. Kg1 Qg5 33. Qc2 Rd2 34. Rxd2 Rxd2 0-1

Some of the notes by IM David Levy in the tournament book.

Kenneth R Smith (2395) vs Larry Melvyn Evans (2545)
San Antonio 1972 Rd 9

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 (“The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it,” so it is writ. Black can decline with 3…P-Q6, or 3…P-Q4 or 3…N-KB3, but why?) 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Bg5 e6 9. Qe2 h6 10. Bh4 (Loses the initiative. On 10 B-K3 N-KN5! [the point] 11 B-Q2 KN-K4 Black’s position is very solid anyway.) g5 11. Bg3 Nh5 12Rfd1 Nxg3 13. hxg3 g4 14. Ne1 Ne5 15. Bb3 h5 16. Nd3 Bg7 17. Nf4 h4 18. Qd2 hxg3 19. fxg3 Qb6+ 20. Kf1 Bd7 21. Rac1 Rd8 22. Ke2 Nf3 23. Qd3 Nd4+ 24. Kd2 Nxb3+ 25. axb3 Qf2+ 26. Nce2 Bb5 27. Qe3 Qxe3+ 28. Kxe3 e5 29. Nd5 Bh6+ 30. Kf2 Bxc1 31. Rxc1 Bc6 32. Nec3 Kd7 33. Nf6+ Ke6 34. Nxg4 f5 35. exf5+ Kxf5 36. Ne3+ Ke6 37. g4 d5 38. Ne2 d4 39. Nc4 Rdg8 40. Kg3 Rg5 0-1 (Notes by GM Larry Evans)

Ken’s next opponent the youngest participant in the tournament, eight months younger than future World Champion, Anatoly Karpov. Because of the similarity in age, I got to know Henrique better than the other players. He rented a car and took me along for a “drive” around San Antonio. It was one of the most harrowing rides I have ever experienced. Mecking was missing cars on my side by an inch, smiling and laughing all the while, as I cringed and moved ever to my left, away from the door. I mentioned this to Brian McCarthy on the way back from the recent scholastic tournament here in Atlanta at the downtown Hyatt and he said it reminded him of a former NM, Michael Lucas. “Yeah,” I said, “he scared the hell out of me. One time he took off a mirror and kept on driving. ” Brian, who was driving, began to laugh uproariously, saying, “That’s how he got the name “Crazy Lucas!”

Kenneth R Smith (2395) vs Henrique Mecking (2570)
San Antonio 1972 Rd 13

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. a3 (What kind of move is this? Normal is 8 B-KN5) e6 9. Qe2 h6 10. Rd1 e5 11. Nd5 Be7 12. Be3 Nxd5 13. exd5 Nb8 14. Nxe5 (Totally unsound. White should have tried doubling Rooks on the QB file.) dxe5 15. f4 exf4 16. d6 fxe3 17. Qxe3 Nc6 18. Bd5 O-O 19. Bxc6 Bg5 0-1 (Notes by IM David Levy)

Bobby Fischer vs Viktor Korchnoi
Buenos Aires 1960 Rd 14

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 a6 3. d4 cxd4 4. c3 dxc3 5. Nxc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 d6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Bg5 e6 9. Qe2 Be7 10. Rfd1 Qc7 11. Rac1 O-O 12. Bb3 h6 13. Bf4 e5 14. Be3 Qd8 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bd7 17. Nd2 Nb4 18. Bb3 Bg5 19. Bxg5 Qxg5 20. Nf3 Bg4 21. Rc7 Qd8 22. Rxb7 Rb8 23. Rxb8 Qxb8 24. h3 Bxf3 25. Qxf3 Nc6 26. Qd3 Nd4 27. Bc4 a5 28. b3 Qb4 29. f4 Kh7 1/2-1/2

What? You were unaware Bobby played the Smith-Morra?

Answer: 22. Qxc5! 1-0

US Masters Update

GM Alonso Zapata is playing GM Alex Lenderman on board one of the fifth round of the US Masters, each with 3 ½ out of four. Raja Panjwani, playing on board two, also has 3 ½. This is his round four game:
Quesada Perez, Yuni (2636) vs Zapata, Alonso (2496)
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. f4 d6 8. Qf3 a6 9. O-O-O Be7 10. Bd3 O-O 11. Rhe1 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 e5 13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. exd5 exd4 15. Qe4 g6 16. Qxe7 Qa5 17. Kb1 Bg4 18. Rc1 Qxd5 19. Be4 Qc5 20. h3 Be6 21. g4 Rfe8 22. Qh4 Bxa2+ 23. Kxa2 Rxe4 24. Kb1 Rxf4 25. Re7 d3 26. cxd3 Qd5 27. Re3 Ra4 28. Rc7 Qa5 29. Rc4 Ra1+ 30. Kc2 d5 31. Qg5 0-1
Tim Brookshear (2034) upset NM Michael Mestres (2229) by winning from the Black side of a Caro Kann advance variation and is tied with five others at the top of the thirty three player NC Open. The Legendary Georgia Ironman is playing on second board tonight.
The board one game in round five just ended:
Zapata, Alonso vs Lenderman, Aleksand (2527)
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nh3 Nf6 7. Bc4 e6 8. c3 Bd6 9. Nf4 Nbd7 10. Qf3 Qc7 11. Bb3 a5 12. a3 a4 13. Ba2 Nd5 14. Nxg6 hxg6 15. O-O b5 16. Re1 N7b6 17. Bg5 Bf4 18. Bxf4 Qxf4 19. Qxf4 Nxf4 20. Ne4 Ke7 21. g3 Nfd5 22. Re2 Nf6 23. Ng5 Nbd5 24. Rae1 Rac8 25. f4 Rc7 26. Bb1 Kd6 27. Nf3 Nb6 28. Ne5 Nfd5 29. Be4 Rhc8 30. Bg2 Ke7 31. h4 Kf8 32. Bf3 Nf6 33. Rh2 c5 34. dxc5 Rxc5 35. Rd1 Ke7 36. Re2 Nc4 37. Nxc4 bxc4 38. Rd4 Nd7 39. Red2 Nb6 40. Kf2 Rb5 41. Ke2 Rb8 42. Kd1 Nd5 43. Kc1 Nb6 44. Be2 Rc5 45. Bd1 Rd5 46. Bf3 Rxd4 47. Rxd4 Rc8 48. Kd2 Rc5 49. Be2 f6 50. Kc1 Rc8 ½-1/2