The Tortured Face of an International Tournament Chess Photographer

An article, The Tortured Faces of International Tournament Chess Players by Michael Hardy, was published in Wired “1.22.18 09:00 AM.”

It begins:

“In 1987, Russian grandmasters Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov faced off in Seville, Spain for the World Chess Championship. David Lloda, then a nine-year-old boy growing up the small northern town of Asturias, remembers being captivated by a newspaper photograph of the two chess geniuses. “Two grown men, playing a mysterious game, with those little figures carved in wood?” he recalls thinking. “That seemed interesting.”

Unfortunately the author of the article, which is about a recently published book of photographs of Chess players, The Thinkers, misspelled the name of the photographer who authored the book, David Llada. Adding insult to injury, Michael Hardy did it again in the next paragraph:

“A few days later, a teacher at Lloda’s school taught him the basic chess moves, sparking a lifelong passion for the game that has persisted throughout stints as a journalist, author, entrepreneur, and money manager—and, most recently, photographer. About five years ago, Lloda began traveling the world to shoot chess tournaments, who then hired him to help them get publicity.”

After skipping a paragraph which does not include Llada’s name, Michael Hardy does it again but also gets it right once in the fourth paragraph:

Lloda has included over a hundred of his portraits in his new book The Thinkers, which was published earlier this month by Quality Chess Books. Llada’s favorite photos in the book are the ones he took of his childhood heroes, Kasparov and Karpov. He particularly liked Kasparov’s picture: “I think it captured his soul, all that energy in him.”

The last paragraph:

Although chess might not appear the most exciting sport to the average viewer, Lloda captures the game’s intensity through the often tortured faces of its players. “Only those who have played it know how tense a chess game is,” he says. “You spend five or six hours ‘fighting’ with someone, but you can’t touch him, you can’t talk, you can barely move…. All that pent-up tension can be felt by the observer, and I thought it could be captured, too.”

https://www.wired.com/story/photos-tournament-chess-players/

David Llada must feel like Rodney Dangerfield…

Chessbase has an excellent article about the book in which they spell David Llada correctly:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/master-class-with-david-llada


David Llada with new book from Chessbase article

For Chess Parents, There Is No Endgame.

Prodigal Sons
The search for the next great chess prodigy—the next Bobby Fischer—is constantly underway. And the candidates are getting younger and younger.
By David Hill Dec 20, 2017, 10:00am EST

A most disquieting Chess article was published recently at The Ringer, “An SB Nation affiliate site.” David Hill is a “Chess dad.” His seven year old son, Gus, plays Chess in New York city.

https://www.theringer.com/sports/2017/12/20/16796672/chess-prodigy-misha-osipov-bobby-fischer

The article begins:

Anatoly Karpov, the 66-year-old former World Chess Champion, was comfortable playing chess underneath the bright lights and in front of the cameras on a television studio set. His opponent, Mikhail “Misha” Osipov, had never played on quite so big a stage before. In this case, before a studio audience on the Russian television program The Best, broadcast on the state-run Channel One. Nevertheless, Osipov looked comfortable. He greeted Karpov warmly, and complimented his showdown with Viktor Korchnoi, which Osipov had studied to prepare. (“It was a beautiful game!”) Osipov played the Nimzo-Indian defense, and played it well.

But Osipov took a long time to consider each move, while Karpov played quickly. Their game was timed, with Karpov playing with two minutes on his clock to Osipov’s 10, in consideration of Karpov’s superior skill and experience. That time advantage dwindled as Osipov spent precious minutes thinking.

Fourteen moves into the game and they were equal in time, with Karpov up a single pawn. Graciously, Karpov offered Osipov a draw.

“Nyet,” Osipov responded, and continued to move.

A few moves later, Osipov’s clock ran out.

“You’ve lost on time,” Karpov told Osipov. “You had to accept the draw. Be more realistic about time.”

Osipov shook Karpov’s hand, but his face tensed up and fixed itself into a frown. He got up from his seat and wandered toward the studio audience, no longer able to hold back tears. Osipov sobbed wildly and looked into the bright lights and the audience before him, bewildered.

“Mama!” he shouted as the cameras continued to roll. “Mama!” His mother bounded from the audience onto the stage and picked up the 3-year-old boy into her arms and held him tightly, wiping the tears from his round, cherubic face.

Despite the disappointing result, Misha Osipov remains a media sensation in Russia. His favorite player is Magnus Carlsen, the current World Champion and himself a child prodigy. According to Yuri, Misha found the games of former Russian World Champion Vladimir Kramnik to be a little boring. By contrast, young Misha found the games of Bobby Fischer to be exciting.

The now-4-year-old from Moscow has already beaten a grandmaster (albeit one with poor eyesight and not exactly in his prime at 95 years old) and has won a number of youth tournament titles. Osipov already has two coaches and a corporate sponsor. He’s helping revitalize Russian interest in a game that was once a source of national pride, a revitalization that began last year when Russian Sergey Karjakin played Norwegian Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. Both Karjakin and Carlsen were chess prodigies themselves, and Karjakin holds the record for being the youngest player to become a grandmaster. Neither of them could play chess at the age of 3.

I asked Yuri Osipov how he felt watching his little boy cry that day, after he’d lost to Anatoly Karpov. Yuri said it surprised him. It was very unlike Misha to cry. After all, it wasn’t his first time losing a game. But after speaking with Misha after the show, he realized that his son had never played with an analog clock before, only digital. Misha didn’t know how to read the time on the clock and had no idea he was so short on time. When Misha’s clock ran out of time, it surprised him. “He was upset and cried because he didn’t understand why he lost,” Yuri said. “He cried because he didn’t understand that the time was over.”

After Misha lost to Karpov and bawled his adorable eyes out on television, the video went viral. I found it on YouTube with my son while we scrolled through videos about the Philidor position in the endgame. It affected us both. Me because my heart broke for the little boy, calling out for his mama, confused and afraid. Gus because he felt jealous that such a little kid could get to play chess against a former World Champion. If Gus had been there, he assured me, he would not have cried.

He adds a coda to the Nicholas Nip story:

In the months following Nip’s achievement, he went on Live! With Regis and Kelly to play a simultaneous exhibition—he’d play 10 opponents at the same time. The young boy in a too-large green polo shirt won nine and drew one. Afterward Regis Philbin pestered him with questions about whether he wanted a girlfriend. Kelly Ripa asked him if it was too late for someone her age to learn to play chess. Nip replied, “No, it’s not too late.” “What if we are not smart?” Ripa responded. “No, you can still play,” he said, nervously, looking side to side as if trying to find a way out.

A few months after his television appearance, Nicholas Nip told his parents he no longer wanted to play chess. He retired from the game in the fourth grade. He hasn’t been seen at a chess tournament since.

And the story, with which I was unfamiliar, of, “a 5-year-old boy named Ernest Kim.”

Fischer’s rise as a young player gave the Soviet Union chess machine fits. During the years that Fischer came up in the United States, gaining international attention for winning the U.S. Championship at the age of 14, the Soviets recruited thousands of new children to attend their chess schools. One of them was a 5-year-old boy named Ernest Kim. The USSR claimed Kim was defeating adults in his home of Tashkent and had climbed to a “third category rating,” the first rung on the ladder to becoming a Soviet grandmaster, within six months of learning the game. Photos of Kim appeared on magazine covers, newsreels circulated with footage of him playing against adults, sitting up on his knees with his tiny head in his hands. In 1958, when Fischer visited Moscow on invitation from the USSR chess authority, he declared that he was eager to play Kim. The government kept the child under wraps.

One Soviet chess player, Vasily Panov, railed against the chess centers in general, and the treatment of Kim in particular. He felt that too many young people were being put through the Soviet chess farm team, possibly sacrificing some future doctors or engineers in the process. In an interview with The New York Times, in speaking about Ernest Kim, who Panov said was being “dragged off to training sessions, away from playmates and school,” Panov quoted Lenin: “Do not forget that chess after all is only a recreation and not an occupation.”

In addition the author writes about Josh Waitzkin. I urge you to read the whole piece.

“My son isn’t as good at chess as Misha Osipov or Josh Waitzkin, but I still see Fred and Yuri as my brothers. Being a chess parent is full of moments like this one. As I sit and wait for Gus to return from a tournament game, where parents are wisely not allowed to sit and spectate, I grind my teeth and pace the floor. I wonder—If I can’t handle the pressure, if I’m this nervous, then how must he feel? And why do I put him through this? Could he possibly be enjoying this, or is he just doing it because he thinks it will please me?

Jerry Nash has been a tournament director at scholastic tournaments throughout the country. He sees kids crying all the time. So what? “My wife teaches elementary school. She’ll tell you, they cry in class, too.” More often than not, the children deal with losses against tougher opponents by getting excited, rather than discouraged, he tells me. This is how you can tell apart those who are right for the game and those who aren’t. “Sometimes the parent is the only one that’s nervous.”

In my case, it’s pretty much all the time. I stare at the door waiting for him to return, hoping to be able to read his facial expressions for a sense of whether he won or lost before he makes it down the hall so I can mentally prepare for my own reaction when he reaches me and gives me the news.

For chess parents, there is no endgame. There are few opportunities in America for college scholarships for chess players, and almost all of them are snatched up by grandmasters from other countries. There is no way for most grandmasters to make a decent living as professionals, save for the very few at the top. The top five chess players in the world earn millions from tournaments, but the earnings fall sharply once you get outside of the top 10. For the vast majority of adult chess players who stay committed to their study and pursuit of the game, the only way to earn money at chess comes from doling out lessons and taking home a few hundred bucks from the occasional tournament. There is nothing glamorous about it.”

Arguably, the most profound Chess article of the year.

Magnus Carlsen Superman

The World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, did not win the recently completed London Chess Classic. Although he may have lost a battle he won the war by taking the Grand Chess Tour.

One of the headlines at the Chessbase website during the tournament proclaimed, London Chess Classic: Magnus on tilt. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-chess-classic-round-8)

The article, by Macauley Peterson, began:

“Round 8 saw a startling blunder from the World Champion whose frustration following the game was palpable.”

Later we fans of the Royal Game read this:

Round 8

“For the first few hours of Sunday’s games, it looked like we could be heading for another day of peaceful results. Adams vs Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave vs Anand both ended in early draws, and the remaining games were level. Suddenly, a shock blunder from World Champion Magnus Carlsen flashed up on the screens, a variation which lead to Ian Nepomniachtchi being up a piece, and easily winning. Carlsen resigned just four moves later.

After the game, a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup with Grand Chess Tour commentator GM Maurice Ashley.

These occur in the same conference room in which a live audience enjoys commentary during the round, and around 150 people were crowded into the room to hear from Carlsen.”

Whoa! Let us stop right here and consider what we have just read…

“…a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup…” I believe the word “interview” should be inserted after “standup.”

Why would anyone in their right mind put something in any contract, in any game or sport, forcing a player who has just lost to be interviewed by anyone BEFORE THEY HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO DECOMPRESS?! This is incomprehensible, and the sanity of those responsible for forcing anyone to sign a contract that requires the person to be interviewed before having a chance to compose themselves must be questioned.

The article continues:

“A few moments before they were to go on air, Ashley casually reached over to adjust the collar on Carlsen’s sport coat, which had become turned outward awkwardly. Magnus reacted by violently throwing his arms up in the air, silently but forcefully saying “don’t touch me”, and striking Ashley in the process. Maurice was, naturally, taken aback but just seconds later he received the queue that he was live.”

Maurice is a GM, and a pro, not only when it comes to playing Chess, but also when it gets down to interviewing tightly wound Chess players. Since he played the Royal game at the highest level he knows the emotions it can, and does, evoke first hand. Maurice was the first one to ‘fergettaboutit.’

I recall a time during a tournament when a young fellow playing in his first tournament lost control of his emotions and, shall we say, “flared-up.” His mother was aghast, and appalled, saying, “Now you will never be able to come here again.” Since I had given lessons at the school the boy attended I stepped in saying, “Ma’am, that’s not the way it works around here. By the next time your son comes here everyone will have forgotten what happened today.” The mother gave me the strangest look before asking, “Are you just saying that to make me feel better?” I assured her I was not and then someone else interjected, telling her, with a large grin on his face, that I was indeed telling her the truth. Chess people, to their credit, are about the most forgiving people one will ever know.

There followed:

Magnus was clearly in no mood to chat:

“I missed everything. There’s not much else to say. I think I failed to predict a single of his moves, and then, well, you saw what happened.”

“It will be interesting to see if Magnus will recover tomorrow. When asked for his thoughts on the last round pairing he replied, “I don’t care at all. “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task, with that attitude.”

The excellent annotation of the game Magnus lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi

on Chessbase is by GM by Tiger Hillarp-Persson,

who has also annotated games of Go on his blog (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). After move 29 Tiger writes, “There were probably a few who thought Magnus would win at this stage…”

Magnus begins going wrong at move 30. He then gives a line and writes, “White is dominating. It is quite out of character for Carlsen to miss something like this. It seems like he wasn’t able to think clearly today.”

Before Magnus plays his 33rd move Tiger writes, “Now White’s pieces are all in the wrong places.”

After White’s 34th move Tiger writes, “Here Carlsen seems to lose his will to fight. Now one mistake follows another.”

Those are very STRONG WORDS! Human World Chess Champions, with the exception of Garry Kasparov when losing to Deep Blue,

do not lose their will to fight!

Yuri Averbakh,

Russian GM, and author, in a 1997 article in New in Chess magazine, the best Chess magazine of ALL TIME, placed chess players into 6 categories; Killers; Fighters; Sportsmen; Gamblers; Artists; and Explorers. Although he listed only Kasparov and Bronstein

as “Fighters,” the World Chess Champion best known for being a “Fighter” was Emanuel Lasker.

I would put current human World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the class with Lasker as a “Fighter.”

In an interview at the Chess24 website his opponent in the game, Ian Nepomniachtchi,


had this to say, “To be fair, Magnus had a bad cold during the second half of the tournament and therefore wasn’t in his very best form.”

Nepo is extremely gracious while explaining why Magnus “…seemed to lose his will to fight.” When one is under the weather it is extremely difficult to think clearly, especially as the game goes on and fatigue begins to dominate. Imagine what history would have recorded if Bobby Fischer had not caught a cold after the first few games against former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian.

This was a topic of conversation during a meal with Petrosian, Paul Keres,

and future World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov,

at a restaurant in San Antonio, the Golden Egg, during the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in 1972.

Interviewer Colin McGourty asked Nepo this question:

“It seems as though he’s stopped dominating as he did a few years ago. Is that the case?

A few years ago the level he was demonstrating was out of this world, particularly when he wasn’t yet World Champion, plus at times good patches in his career alternated with even better ones. Gradually, though, people have got used to him, and when you’ve already achieved it all, when over the course of a few years you’ve been better than everyone, it gets tougher to motivate yourself. That doesn’t just apply to sport, after all. Magnus has a great deal of interests outside of chess, but even his relatively unsuccessful periods are much more successful than for many of his rivals. Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nepomniachtchi-on-london-carlsen-and-alphazero

There you have it. “Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

Levon had the year of his life in 2017. He had the White pieces in the last round against a weakened World Champion. He could have ended the year in style with a victory. This from Chessbase:

The Magnus bounce

“The World Champion, after a troubling performance yesterday, appeared once more to be on the brink of defeat with the black pieces against Levon Aronian. Carlsen was considerably worse in the middlegame, but it took just a couple of inaccuracies from Aronian for the World Champion to completely turn the tables. He went on to win, despite knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the Grand Chess Tour standings.

In fact, Aronian offered Carlsen a draw, right after the time control, which Magnus refused, as he was already much better in the position. It was the 11th time in 17 tries that Carlsen came back with a win immediately following a loss, since 2015.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-chess-classic-2017-carlsen-wins-grand-chess-tour)

Many years ago IM Boris Kogan told me the measure of a Chess player is how he responds to a loss. Many in the same condition would have been happy to settle for a draw in the last round. Some would have made it a quick draw. Not Magnus!
Magnus Carlsen is a worthy World Champion. My admiration for our World Champion has grown immensely.

Consider this headline from the official tournament website:

Round 8 – Carlsen Car Crash at the Classic

11.12.17 – John Saunders reports: The eighth round of the 9th London Chess Classic was played on Sunday 10 December 2017 at the Olympia Conference Centre. The round featured just the one decisive game, which was a disastrous loss for Carlsen, as the result of two terrible blunders.

Click to access 2017-12-10%20LCC%20Round%208.pdf

As bad as that is, it could have been much worse. Even when completely well Magnus has sometimes gotten into trouble early in the game, especially when playing an opening some consider “offbeat.” Every true human World Chess Champion, one who beat the previous title holder in a match, was a trend setter who was emulated by other players of all ranks and abilities. Simply because Magnus opened with the Bird against Mickey Adams

in round seven other players may now begin opening games with 1 f4. It is true that Magnus got into trouble in the opening of that game, but his opponent was unable to take advantage of it and Magnus FOUGHT his way out of trouble. (see the excellent article, including annotations to The Bird game, by Alex Yermolinsky at Chessbase: https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-classic-nepomniachtchi-joins-lead)

As Macauley Peterson

wrote, “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task…” That is Black in the LAST ROUND against the player who this year has stolen Magnus Carlsen’s thunder. An obviously under the weather Magnus had Black versus a man who believes he should be the human World Chess Champion. If there were no FIDE (we can only dream…) and things were like they were before World War II, Levon Aronian would have absolutely no trouble whatsoever finding backers for a match with Magnus Carlsen. The outcome of the game could have psychological ramifications for some time to come.

Levon held an advantage through 34 moves, but let it slip with an ill-advised pawn push on his 35th move.


Position before 35. b6

The game ws then even. The player who fought best would win the game. That player was Magnus ‘The Fighter’ Carlsen. The loss must have shattered Levon Aronian’s psyche; there is no other way to put it. Levon had White against a weakened World Champion yet he did not even manage to make a draw. That fact has to be devastating to Aronian. Oh well, Levon has a pretty wife…

The Future of Chess is Terrifying

Continuing with “Intelligence and chess” by Fernand Gobet, & Guillermo Campitelli, published in 2002, we find this under the sub-heading, Expertise in chess:

“In addition, there are important individual differences in the style of play:
some players are aggressive, others defensive; some prefer tactical complications,
others transparent strategic planning. Finally, one can look at extra-chess activities
for evidence of individual differences. In his 1946 book, De Groot found that there
were important differences in training and background in the sample of 55
grandmasters he studied. In particular, he found that 13 of his grandmasters had a
training in science or mathematics. Interestingly, such differences in background
have tended to fade away in recent years: nowadays, with the stringent training
requirements of competitive chess, most players are professional, with no university
training.
Where do these differences come from? Several psychological explanations,
paralleling the strands of research mentioned above, have been advanced. Information-
processing research tends to emphasise the role of the environment (presence
of coach or playing opportunities, coaching techniques, etc.). The extreme position
in this strand has been taken by Ericsson (e.g., Ericsson et al., 1993) in his theory of
deliberate practice, which denies the role of innate differences, except for motivation
and the ability to sustain long-term practice.”

This is the “theory.” In an article at the Chessbase website, Vladimir Kramnik: My Path to the Top, dated 2/20/2015, we find the “practice.” Vladimir says, “If my first book would have been a collection of the best games of Kasparov or Tal, I am sure that I would have a different playing style. But it happened as it happened, and I have nothing to complain about.”

“In the introduction Kramnik reveals how he started to play chess and he describes the atmosphere and the chess culture in Tuapse, a small town on the Black Sea where he was born and brought up. You will hear charming and humorous anecdotes you have not heard before: “I had a normal childhood. When I was seven, I went to a normal school. I would say Tuapse was a normal provincial Soviet town. It is an industrial town with working people, and I can say that I was not in the elite atmosphere, I’d say as far I am aware quite a few of my classmates, they went to prison rather soon after finishing the school (laughs). So it was a normal worker’s place with rather tough working lessons…”

“Kramnik also reveals what his first chess book was. Can you guess? A collection with the Best Games of Anatoly Karpov! Kramnik was fascinated by the games of Karpov and studying them had a big influence on his style.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/vladimir-kramnik-my-path-to-the-top-3)

If how chess is learned depends upon the style of the games from which the student learns, what kind of players will be, or are already being produced due to the influence of computer programs such as Komodo and Stockfish? To help answer this question I send you to the excellent article, Massacre by the innocents, by GM Vlad Tkachiev at the chess24.com website. The GM, one of the best writers, and thinkers, in chess, writes about the future generation of chess, “The future of the second chess superpower arranged a worldwide premiere just for us, with a clash of generations, civilisations and philosophies. And here’s what left the deepest impression on me: the way, whether it was evening, afternoon or morning, they would gather in the lobby of the Grand Sahid Hotel, connect to the free Wi-Fi and spend hours immersed in surfing the internet. They didn’t talk to one another. They didn’t drink anything. They paid no attention to their surroundings. They were off on their notebooks, tablets and smartphones – somewhere very far away.
They say we fear the unknown. For us, seasoned professionals, it was terrifying.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/battle-of-the-chess-generations)

They Bad

In an interview with Albert Silver appearing on Chessbase, former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov said, “…the quality of the players has worsened. In the autumn, Carlsen and Anand were playing, and I came to the final. The FIDE Vice President Georgios Makropoulos came to me and said: “Judging by today’s games, even an out-of-shape Karpov would beat either of them…”

It is natural for older people to consider things having been better “back in the day.” This is common in all walks of life. For example, many years ago I worked for a company owned by a former Delta Airlines employee. The company transported vehicles to nine different Southern states, and many of the drivers were former Delta employees who had retired. To a man they all agreed Delta was a better company “back in the day.” Upon hearing this for the umptheenth time, I said, “Maybe it was just a different company back then.” This was met with glares and stares, and I was shunned. A short time later I mentioned one of my girlfriends had been a stewardess for Delta in the early ’70’s, and another had worked for only Delta, and had done so for decades, adding, “Seems like it was a better company back then.” Everyone smiled, clapped me on the back, and things were right with the world of James Auto Transport!

That said, I must agree with Mr. Karpov. The matches for the World Chess Championship this decade have left much to be desired. Back in the day we looked forward to the upcoming WC match with much anticipation. This is no longer the case. I am having trouble recalling the last interesting match for the World Chess Championship.

I must also agree with the former WCC about the quality of the play of the current top players. I am not exactly certain, but it could be the influence of the computer chess programs in that they have humbled the Grandmasters, or, shall we say, taken them down a peg, or two. My friend the Discman said something, published on this blog, some time ago, “GM’s used to be thought of as Gods.” Now the Gods of chess come with names like Komodo, and Stockfish.

As an example of what I mean let me refer you to the coverage on Chessbase of the most recent “elite” tournament, the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden. The players were having much trouble converting winning endgames. I watched as GM Etienne Bacrot, who had been winning for quite sometime, came completely unglued trying to push home his advantage versus GM Michael Adams. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd5-carlsen-back-in-the-lead) This was one of many butchered endgames in this particular tournament. Unfortunately, it is not the only recent tournament about which the same can be said.

What makes it worse is that the players make statements like, “We are so much better than the players of the last century that even when they were on top of their game the best players of today would wipe the floor with them, and we have got the numbers to prove it.” OK, I am paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. Their ratings are higher and the best players of today do seem to strut around like Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in the movie Silver Streak, saying, “That’s right, we bad, WE BAD!” Then they go out and draw another winnable endgame. For example, “…while Adams could not convert his advantage against Aronian.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd6-anand-only-win)

Sometimes it is even worse than the above. Consider what was written after the headline, “GRENKE Rd4: Two Blunders, Two Black wins.”
“What a round! Two major blunders defined the two victories, games that were on the verge of being wildly interesting and dissipated into a win for Black as in both cases the White side simply missed Black’s resources or overestimated his own attacking chances. Carlsen bounced back with a win over Anand in a stonewall, while Baramidze basically gave Naiditsch the tournament lead.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd4-two-blunders-two-black-wins-2)

What a round, indeed. Baramidze failed to answer a question every chess player should ask himself before making a move, “Am I leaving anything en prise?” He actually put a Knight en prise, giving Naiditsch a piece for nothing. Amazing….Granted, GM Baramidze is clearly not a Super GM, but still…

Not to be outdone, former World Human Chess Champion Vishy Anand gave his opponent that day, World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, a full ROOK! I kid you not. The game is annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez at the Chessbase website. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grenke-rd4-two-blunders-two-black-wins-2) Anand should give some serious consideration to retiring. If he continues to play he will only continue to embarrass himself, and tarnish his reputation.

That’s right, they bad, THEY BAD!

Speaking of GM Alejandro Ramirez…Annotating the game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Magnus Carlsen from round three of the Tata Steel tournament, after 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 f5 4.b4 Bg7 5.Bb2 a5 6.b5 a4!?, Alejandro writes, “This brave pawn will be weak, but it does restrict White a little. Carlsen has to be very careful not to lose it though.”

Come on! I know Magnus is the World Human Chess Champion, but I do not need a 3300 rated program to tell me this move is bad, REAL BAD! And this is not an isolated example. Everyone in the chess world, except maybe the VP of the GCA, is aware of the “howler,” Kd2, Magnus played against Viswanathan Anand in their most recent WCC match. Magnus was saved because Vishy sat there for one minute without asking himself the first question every chess player, other than the VP of the GCA, asks himself after his opponent makes a move, which is, “Why did my opponent make that move?” But what about the move Carlsen played as White against Fabiano Caruana in a Bishop’s Opening last year at the Sinquefield Cup?

Carlsen vs Caruana

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg5 dxe4 8. dxe4 h6 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Bg3 Bc7 12. O-O Nh5 13. h3?

Once again, I do not need a computer program to tell me how bad is this move. This move stinks. It is the kind of move that may be played by the VP of the GCA, a triple digit player. I give the rest of the game for the record, and as proof as to what kind of chess is being passed off a being better than that played “back in the day.” 13…Nxg3 14. fxg3 Nc5 15. Bxf7+ Kxf7 16. Nxe5+ Kg8 17. Ng6 Qg5 18. Rf8+ Kh7 19. Nxh8 Bg4 20. Qf1 Nd3 21. Qxd3 Rxf8 22. hxg4 Qxg4 23. Nf3 Qxg3 24. e5+ Kxh8 25. e6 Bb6+ 26. Kh1 Qg4 27. Qd6 Rd8 28. Qe5 Rd5 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. e7 Qh5+ 31. Nh2 Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33. Nf1 Qxf1+ 34. Kh2 Qg1+ 0-1

Keep in mind the current human WCC backed into the match in which he became Chess Champ of the World. In the biggest game of his career, a game he had to win, Magnus Carlsen LOST. He was saved when GM Vladmir Kramnik also lost, giving the right to Carlsen to play a match with an old, tired, and obviously worn out toothless Tiger. I can still picture the young Magnus sitting on his knees in his chair like a little boy at a weekend swiss as his time dwindled. This man could never stand toe to toe with the Giants of the past. They would wipe the floor with him, and then eat him alive.

“Big Bad” Badrakh Galmandakh Plays the Mieses Opening

Unlike most chess fans I look forward to the opening round of an Open event in lieu of the final round because the last round usually devolves into a song by Big Maybelle, better known from the 1957 rockabilly song by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Or as the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who has done a fair amount of shakin’ himself, has been heard to say, the last round usually turns into a “Big ‘ol group hug.” The first round is more interesting because of the huge rating disparity, affording the possibility of an upset. Players of my level, “weakies” according to Bobby Fischer, have a chance at glory. Lower rated players can benefit from playing over the games of other lower rated players in order to discern where they went wrong; what kind of mistakes they made. In addition, more “offbeat” openings are played in the opening round and not the “round up the usual suspect” openings. It may be true that one should play so-called “main lines,” but how interesting is it to play over a game when the same twenty moves have been trotted out yet again?

In the opening round of the recent 2015 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival Badrakh Galmandakh, representing Mongolia, rated 2240 by the FIDE, sat down behind the White pieces to battle GM Alexander Motylev, rated 2665, the 78th highest rating in the world. As he played his first move Badrakh reached for his Queen pawn, and moved it one square, to d3. This caused me to think of the famous game between World Champion Anatoly Karpov and English GM Tony Miles at the 1980 European Team championship when, in reply to Karpov’s first move of 1 e4, Tony answered with a move which shocked Karpov and stunned the chess world, 1…a6. The game ended in victory for the Englishman.

Upon reflection I also considered something contained in the regular column by GM Andy Soltis in the January issue of Chess Life magazine, “It seems to me that in non-standard positions, chess players have become significantly weaker,” GM Boris Gulko said in a recent Chesspro.com interview. “Because all their strength and energy goes into working with the computer.”

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – GM Motylev, Alexander (2665)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 1
1.d3 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.dxe4 Qxd1+ 4.Kxd1 e5 5.Be3 Nf6 6.f3 Nbd7 7.Nd2 a5 8.a4 Bc5 9.Nc4 Bxe3 10.Nxe3 Nc5 11.Nc4 Nfd7 12.Nh3 Ke7 13.c3 Nb6 14.Nxb6 cxb6 15.Bc4 Bd7 16.b3 Rac8 17.Bd5 Rc7 18.Nf2 Rhc8 19.Kc2 f5 20.c4 fxe4 21.Nxe4 Na6 22.Kb2 Nb4 23.Rad1 Bf5 24.Rhe1 Rd8 25.Ng3 Nd3+ 26.Kc3 Nxe1 27.Nxf5+ Kf6 28.Ne3 Nxg2 29.Nxg2 h5 30.Ne3 g5 31.Rg1 Rg7 32.Be4 Rdd7 33.Nd5+ Ke6 34.h3 Rd6 35.Ne3 Rd8 36.Bd5+ Kf6 37.Rg2 Rgd7 38.Be4 Rg7 39.Nd5+ Ke6 40.Nxb6 Rd1 41.Rh2 Rc1+ 42.Kb2 Re1 43.Nd5 Kf7 44.Nc3 Ke8 45.Kc2 Ra1 46.Kd2 Rf1 47.Bd5 Kd8 48.Ne4 Ke7 49.Ng3 Ra1 50.Kc3 Rg6 51.Bxb7 Re1 52.Be4 Rb6 53.Bd3 Rf6 54.Be2 Kd7 55.Nxh5 Rb6 56.Bd3 Re3 57.Rf2 Rd6 58.Rd2 Rxf3 59.Kc2 Ke7 60.Ng7 e4 61.Bxe4 Rxd2+ 62.Kxd2 Rxh3 63.Nf5+ Kf6 64.Ne3 Ke5 65.Bg2 Rh7 66.c5 Kd4 67.c6 Rc7 68.Nc4 g4 69.Na3 Kc5 70.Nb5 Rc8 71.c7 Kb6 72.Ke3 Rf8 73.Bh1 g3 74.Bg2 Rf2 75.c8=Q Re2+ 76.Kf4 Rf2+ 77.Bf3 1-0

Like I said, everyone loves an upset, except the one having been upset. Galmandakh did not stop there, but played 1 d3 again, and again. He played it in all five games in which he opened the game!

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – GM Bartel, Mateusz (2631)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 3
1.d3 b5 2.e4 Bb7 3.Nf3 g6 4.Bd2 Bg7 5.Bc3 Nf6 6.a4 a6 7.axb5 axb5 8.Rxa8 Bxa8 9.g3 c5 10.b4 cxb4 11.Bxb4 Nc6 12.Bc3 b4 13.Bb2 Qb6 14.Qe2 b3 15.c3 O-O 16.Bg2 d5 17.exd5 Nxd5 18.O-O Qa5 19.Nfd2 Rb8 20.Nc4 Qd8 21.d4 Na7 22.Nbd2 Nb5 23.Qd3 Nbc7 24.Na5 Ne6 25.Qa6 Ndf4 26.Nc6 Bxc6 27.Qxc6 Nd3 28.Rb1 Qa5 29.Qc4 Qf5 30.f4 Nxb2 31.Rxb2 Qc2 32.Rxb3 Rd8 33.d5 Qxd2 34.dxe6 Qe3+ 35.Kh1 Rd1+ 36.Bf1 fxe6 37.Kg2 Kf7 38.Rb2 Bf6 39.Re2 Qb6 40.Qb4 Qc6+ 41.Qe4 Qd6 42.Re1 Rd2+ 43.Re2 Bxc3 44.Rxd2 Qxd2+ 45.Kh3 Qd5 46.Bd3 Bd4 47.Qxd5 exd5 48.Kg4 Kf6 49.h4 Bf2 50.Kf3 Be1 51.h5 gxh5 52.Bxh7 e5 53.fxe5+ Kxe5 54.Bg6 Ba5 55.Kg2 h4 56.gxh4 Kf4 57.Bh7 d4 58.Kh3 Kf3 59.Bg6 Ke2 60.Kg2 d3 61.Bxd3+ Kxd3 ½-½

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – IM Das, Arghyadip (2476)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 5
1.d3 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 g6 5.O-O Bg7 6.Nbd2 e6 7.e4 Nge7 8.a4 b6 9.Re1 h6 10.h4 a5 11.Nf1 Ba6 12.c3 d4 13.c4 e5 14.Bh3 O-O 15.h5 Qd6 16.N1d2 Nb4 17.Ra3 Bb7 18.Nh4 Bf6 19.Ndf3 Kh7 20.Kg2 Nbc6 21.Rh1 Ng8 22.Bg4 Kg7 23.Bd2 Nce7 24.Qc1 Bxh4 25.Nxh4 f5 26.Bf3 fxe4 27.Bxe4 Bxe4+ 28.dxe4 g5 29.Bxg5 hxg5 30.Qxg5+ Kh7 31.Ng6 Rf6 32.Qxe5 Nxg6 33.hxg6+ Kxg6 34.Qxd6 Rxd6 35.Rd3 Re8 36.Re1 Rde6 37.f3 Nf6 38.Rd2 Nxe4 39.fxe4 Rxe4 40.Rxe4 Rxe4 41.Kf3 Kf5 42.Rd3 Re1 43.g4+ Kg5 44.Rb3 Re6 45.Kg3 Rd6 46.Rf3 d3 47.Rf5+ Kg6 48.Rf1 d2 49.Rd1 Rd4 50.b3 Kg5 51.Kf2 Kxg4 52.Ke3 Kg3 53.Rg1+ Kh2 54.Rd1 Kg2 55.Ke2 Rd6 56.Ke3 Re6+ 57.Kd3 Kg3 58.Kc2 Rd6 59.Rh1 Kg2 60.Rd1 Kf3 61.Rxd2 Rxd2+ 62.Kxd2 Kf2 63.Kd3 Ke1 64.Ke4 Kd2 65.Kd5 Kc3 66.Kc6 Kxb3 67.Kxb6 Kb4 68.Kc6 Kxc4 0-1

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – GM Tarjan, James E (2518)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 7
1.d3 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.O-O e5 6.c4 Nge7 7.Nc3 d6 8.Ne1 Be6 9.Nc2 d5 10.cxd5 Nxd5 11.Ne4 Qe7 12.Ng5 O-O 13.Nxe6 Qxe6 14.Ne3 Nde7 15.a4 Rad8 16.Nc4 Rd7 17.a5 Rc8 18.Bd2 Nd5 19.Qa4 Nd4 20.Rfe1 b5 21.axb6 axb6 22.Na3 Nc7 23.Qc4 b5 24.Qxe6 Ncxe6 25.Be3 Rb8 26.Rac1 Bf8 27.Kf1 Rd6 28.Bxd4 Rxd4 29.Nc2 Rd7 30.Ra1 ½-½

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – IM Docx, Stefan (2450)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 9
1.d3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.e4 Bc5 4.Nxe5 Bxf2+ 5.Kxf2 Nxe5 6.d4 Nc6 7.c3 Qh4+ 8.g3 Qxe4 9.Bd3 Qd5 10.Re1+ Nce7 11.Na3 d6 12.Be4 Qe6 13.Bxb7 Qf5+ 14.Qf3 Qxf3+ 15.Bxf3 Rb8 16.b3 Bb7 17.d5 Nf6 18.Bg5 Kd7 19.c4 Ng6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Nb5 Ne5 22.Be4 a6 23.Nd4 Rbe8 24.Kg2 c5 25.dxc6+ Nxc6 26.Bxc6+ Bxc6+ 27.Nxc6 Kxc6 28.Rxe8 Rxe8 29.Rf1 Re6 30.Rf5 Re2+ 31.Rf2 Re6 ½-½

Badrakh Galmandakh faced three GM’s, and two IM’s, and battled them to a draw with the Mieses opening, scoring 2 1/2 out of 5 games. He was out rated by an average of 308 points and finished the tournament with a PR with White of 2548.

If you are curious, as was I, about how he played as Black, here are the games:

IM Donchenko, Alexander (2511) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 2
1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.e4 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.h3 Bh5 6.Qe2 d5 7.Qb5+ Nbd7 8.exd5 Bxf3 9.gxf3 exd5 10.Nxd5 Bd6 11.Qe2+ Kf8 12.Nc3 Bb4 13.Bd2 Bxc3 14.bxc3 c5 15.Bg2 Qc7 16.O-O h6 17.Rab1 g6 18.f4 Rb8 19.f5 b6 20.fxg6 fxg6 21.Qf3 g5 22.Qf5 Rg8 23.Rbe1 Re8 24.Rxe8+ Kxe8 25.Re1+ Kd8 26.Re6 Rf8 27.d5 Qb8 28.c4 Nh5 29.Qh7 Nf4 30.Qe7+ Kc8 31.Rc6+ Kb7 32.Qxd7+ Ka6 33.Rc7 1-0

IM Georgiadis, Nico (2490) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 4
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.a4 a5 8.Re1 c6 9.h3 Qc7 10.Be3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nb6 12.Bb3 Nfd7 13.Nf5 Nc5 14.Bd4 Bxf5 15.exf5 Kh8 16.Qg4 f6 17.Be6 d5 18.b3 Bd6 19.Bxc5 Bxc5 20.Ne2 Bd6 21.Rad1 Rae8 22.Nd4 Bb4 23.Re2 Nd7 24.Bxd7 Rxe2 25.Qxe2 Qxd7 26.Ne6 Re8 27.c4 g6 28.cxd5 cxd5 29.Qd3 gxf5 30.Nf4 d4 31.Qxd4 Re1+ 32.Rxe1 Qxd4 33.Re8+ Kg7 34.Ne6+ Kf7 35.Nxd4 Kxe8 36.Nxf5 Kd7 37.Kf1 Ke6 38.Nd4+ Ke5 39.Nc2 Bc5 40.Ke2 Ke4 41.g3 Bd6 42.f3+ Kd5 43.Ne3+ Kc5 44.Nf5 Bc7 45.Kd3 Kb4 46.Kc2 Bb6 47.h4 Bc5 48.h5 Bf2 49.g4 b5 50.axb5 Kxb5 51.Nd6+ Kb4 52.Ne8 Bd4 53.Nc7 Be5 54.Ne6 Bd6 55.Nd4 Bc7 56.Ne6 Bd6 57.Nd4 Bc7 58.Ne2 Be5 59.f4 Bc7 60.Nc3 Bd8 61.Ne4 h6 62.Nf2 Kc5 63.g5 fxg5 64.fxg5 Kd5 65.g6 Bf6 66.Ng4 Bg7 67.Kd3 Bf8 68.Ke3 Ke6 69.Ke4 Bg7 70.Ne3 Bc3 71.Nf5 Bd2 72.Nd4+ Kf6 73.Kd5 Be3 74.Ne6 Bd2 75.Nd4 Bc3 76.Ne6 Bb2 77.Kd6 Ba3+ 78.Kd7 Bb2 79.Kd6 Ba3+ 80.Nc5 Bb2 81.Kd5 Kf5 82.Ne6 ½-½

Skutta, Bernd (2059) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 6
1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.Re1 c6 8.a4 a5 9.b3 exd4 10.Nxd4 Nb6 11.Bf1 d5 12.e5 Ne8 13.Nce2 g6 14.Nf4 Ng7 15.Bb2 f6 16.e6 Bd6 17.Qf3 Qc7 18.g3 Be5 19.Bh3 Qe7 20.Ba3 Bd6 21.Bb2 Be5 22.Re2 c5 23.c3 cxd4 24.cxd4 Bd6 25.Nxd5 Nxd5 26.Qxd5 Ra7 27.Qb5 Ne8 28.d5 Bc5 29.b4 axb4 30.Rc2 b6 31.a5 Ba6 32.Qa4 Bb7 33.Qb3 bxa5 34.Qc4 Bd6 35.Bd4 Ra8 36.Qb5 a4 37.Rc4 Ba6 38.Qxa4 Bxc4 39.Qxa8 Nc7 40.Qa4 Bxd5 0-1

IM Almagro Llamas, Pablo (2469) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 8
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.a4 a5 7.O-O O-O 8.Re1 c6 9.h3 exd4 10.Nxd4 Nb6 11.Ba2 Nfd7 12.Nf5 Nc5 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 14.Bf4 Rd8 15.Qd4 Be6 16.Nd5 cxd5 17.exd5 Nxd5 18.Bxd5 Qd7 19.b3 Bxd5 20.Qxd5 Ne6 21.Be3 Qc6 22.Qd2 d5 23.Qd3 Rac8 24.Rac1 d4 25.Bd2 b6 26.Qg3 Nc5 27.Re7 Ne6 28.c3 Qe4 29.Kh2 Qg6 30.Qxg6 hxg6 31.cxd4 Rxc1 32.Bxc1 Rxd4 33.Rb7 Rb4 34.Bd2 Rxb3 35.Bxa5 Ra3 ½-½

GM Bellon Lopez, Juan Manuel (2370) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 10
1.b3 b6 2.Bb2 Bb7 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Be7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.O-O d5 8.c4 c5 9.Qe2 Nc6 10.Nc3 Rc8 11.Rfd1 cxd4 12.exd4 Nb4 13.Ne5 Nxd3 14.Rxd3 Ne4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rh3 f6 17.Ng4 Kh8 18.f3 f5 19.Ne5 Qe8 20.Rd1 Rd8 21.fxe4 Bxe4 22.Nd3 Bg5 23.Nf2 Bb7 24.Re1 Bc8 25.Nd3 Bf6 26.Ne5 Bb7 27.Qe3 Be4 28.Qg3 Kg8 29.Kh1 Qe7 30.d5 exd5 31.Nc6 Qd7 32.Bxf6 Rxf6 33.Nxd8 f4 34.Qf2 Rg6 35.Rf3 Qxd8 36.cxd5 Qxd5 37.Qe2 Re6 38.Kg1 g5 39.Rf2 Bf5 40.Qc4 g4 41.Qc8+ Kg7 42.Qc7+ Kg6 43.Rxf4 Qb5 44.Rxg4+ Kh5 45.Rg3 Re4 46.Qxh7+ 1-0

It is an established fact that it is much more difficult to play chess having the Black pieces. Still, Badrakh finished only -1 in his five games playing defense, for a PR of 2360. To put this result in perspective, Kenny Soloman recently earned a GM title and his FIDE rating was 2399 at the time. Badrakh Galmandakh finished the tournament in the middle of the field with a score of -1 and a PR of 2428. The new GM, Kenny Soloman also played in the Gilbralter Masters, and although he finished with an even score, ahead of Badrakh by 1/2 a point, Soloman’s PR was only 2320. (http://chess-results.com/tnr158561.aspx?lan=1&art=9&fed=RSA&turdet=YES&wi=821&snr=96).

I know nothing more about Badrakh Galmandakh than what I have been able to find online. He is 25 years of age and #17 in Mongolia. My hat is off the “Big Bad” Badrakh Galmandakh!

Karpov, Anatoly – Miles, Anthony 0-1
B00 EU-chT 1980
1. e4 a6 2. d4 b5 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 Nf6 5. Qe2 e6 6. a4 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Nbd2 b4 9. e5 Nd5 10. Ne4 Be7 11. O-O Nc6 12. Bd2 Qc7 13. c4 bxc3 14. Nxc3 Nxc3 15. Bxc3 Nb4 16. Bxb4 Bxb4 17. Rac1 Qb6 18. Be4 O-O 19. Ng5 h6 20. Bh7+ Kh8 21. Bb1 Be7 22. Ne4 Rac8 23. Qd3 Rxc1 24. Rxc1 Qxb2 25. Re1 Qxe5 26. Qxd7 Bb4 27. Re3 Qd5 28. Qxd5 Bxd5 29. Nc3 Rc8 30. Ne2 g5 31. h4 Kg7 32. hxg5 hxg5 33. Bd3 a5 34. Rg3 Kf6 35. Rg4 Bd6 36. Kf1 Be5 37. Ke1 Rh8 38. f4 gxf4 39. Nxf4 Bc6 40. Ne2 Rh1+ 41. Kd2 Rh2 42. g3 Bf3 43. Rg8 Rg2 44. Ke1 Bxe2 45. Bxe2 Rxg3 46. Ra8 Bc7 0-1

“And We Will Have Discipline”

The best chess magazine on the planet, New In Chess, has a regular feature, “Just Checking,” in which questions are posed to famous players of the Royal game. One of the questions that has been posed most often is, “What is the stupidest rule in chess?” The answer given most is, “The zero-tolerance rule.” It is more than a little obvious most players do not care for the FIDE’s draconian rule. Peter Heine Nielsen, Boris Avrukh, Daniel King, and Ivan Saric, all GM’s answered the question posed with the zero-tolerance rule, with the latter going on to add in NIC 2014/2, “In the whole history of chess (and also sport) there hasn’t been such a stupid rule. It puts huge pressure on the players before the game. This was the easiest question.”
Since there is almost universal agreement among the best human players in the world it would seem those who promulgated the rule would have rescinded it long ago. To understand why they have not done so is to understand what kind of people are those who administer FIDE. They obviously know how the players feel but obviously could care less. These despotic dictators simply do not care what their “subjects” think about the rule. These are people who insist on imposing their will on chess players because they understand they are much inferior compared to the great players. Draconian dictators do not listen to their subjects because they expect their inferiors to listen, and obey, them. They expect this no matter how much it hurts the Royal game because they could care less about the game of chess. These despots care only about ruling the game.
The players should get together and organize just as the Major League Baseball players did decades ago. I have no idea why they have not done so, but it could be because they compete it is difficult for them to agree. Yet they seem to be in total agreement about the zero-tolerance rule. What top level chess needs is a man like Marvin Miller, who was head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982. “He was responsible for negotiation baseball’s first collective bargaining agreement in 1968, which included the first rise in the minimum salary in a decade; salaries would rise exponentially during his tenure, reflecting growing revenues. He was a key figure in the development of free agency, and he led the players through strikes in 1972, 1980 and 1981, and lockouts decreed by the owners in 1973 and 1976. Hank Aaron said he was “as important to the history of baseball as Jackie Robinson.” Red Barber called him one of three most important figures in baseball history, alongside Robinson and Babe Ruth.” (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Marvin_Miller)

In an article, “King talks with Kirsan,” on the Chessbase website, dated 8/11/2014, GM Daniel King asked Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the mediocre player and FIDE dictator, who said he has traveled the universe in an Extraterrestrial spaceship piloted by otherworldly entities, “There is one FIDE rule that many many chess players are unhappy with, which is the zero tolerance rule. For example, there was a young girl here, a ten-year-old girl here, who unfortunately came two minutes late to the game and she lost. It seems very harsh. Would you consider reviewing this rule?”

Kirsan the ET answered, “We have a technical commission consisting of chess players and arbiters and I remember in Dresden in 2008 at the General Assembly, we decided that everyone should be on time. You remember the football match between Brazil and Germany? Can you imagine if both teams arrived five minutes late?”

GM Daniel King: “Of course, but chess isn’t football. This girl was young and innocent and was very very upset. There are many other incidents where a player has arrived a little late just by accident and this seems very harsh.”

Kirsan the ET: “Ok, write your proposal and we will discuss it at the presidential meeting. However, the Chief Arbiter (of the Olympiad) came to me five minutes ago and said, “Mr. President, it’s very good, no one is late. At 2 PM they start.” For me it’s not a problem because this was decided by the majority. I remember in 1998, when I organized the World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Anatoly Karpov in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the presence of the president of the Olympic Committee, in the Olympic Museum, with dozens of cameras, many journalists, the mayor of Lausanne, some high officials of the Swiss government, hundreds of spectators. At 3 PM, Vishy Anand was there sitting, but not Anatoly Karpov. We waited 10-15 minutes, and the president of the Olympic Committee turned to me and asked how I could expect to join the Olympic games in such circumstances.”

GM Daniel King: “I understand completely for professional chess, but it seems to me there is a big difference between professional chess and amateur chess.”

Kirsan the ET: “There is no professional chess and non-professional chess, there is only chess. And we will have discipline.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/king-talks-with-kirsan)

The added remark, “And we will have discipline,” sounds like something one might hear from a grammar school principal, or a despotic dictator. For chess to survive as a viable game Kirsan the ET has got to go back to the stars, along with his benefactor and power behind the scenes, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

“A Chess Engine Is NOT Your Friend!”

In their new book, “Play Unconventional Chess and Win,” Noam A. Manella and Zeev Zohar posit, “…that technological tools do contribute toward creativity of top human chess players.” This flies in the face of conventional thinking, and they mention this in the preface to the book:

“Experienced chess players, those who learned the game some decades ago (or even recently),
are sometimes puzzled while being in the tournament hall or watching a live
broadcast of a top game. Do they witness a game between two wise and experienced people,
having enormous knowledge combined with a unique creative ability, or is it rather a
battle between machines, cold, technical, mechanical super-computers which happen also
to have bodily needs, feelings and desires?
The influence of technological tools over the game of chess is controversial. Some think
that chess players become robotic, lose all creativity and avoid taking any risk. The inevitable
outcome is a lot of uninteresting games ending in a draw.
Back in our youth, when chess programs had not yet been used, the players found the
moves “over the board”. The first impression is that the game was then slightly different,
and that nowadays we witness the decay of classical chess. Our intuition suggests that top
players find it hard to play creatively, and the computer plays an important role in this
situation. The fact that those top players and their seconds spend most of their time preparing
while looking at the computer monitor surely contributes to this.
However, others think that technological advances have made a huge amount of information
available to chess players. Thus they can solve, within a short time, problems
which were hitherto considered too complex. Today’s players have more resources to look
for new creative ideas, and those emerge in abundance.
One of the co-authors, Zeev Zohar, a chess expert, has investigated this subject deeply
as part of his academic work. He looked deeply at the arguments of both sides while interviewing
professional chess players as well as chess software developers. Finally he became
convinced that technological tools do contribute toward creativity of top human chess
players. He shared his conclusions with Noam Manella, who is a well-known expert in the
field of creativity, besides being a chess national master and study composer whose works
have received many awards. Mr. Manella, author of the best-selling book The Creative Code,
was highly enthusiastic about the subject. Thus this book was born.
Chess is a game based on patterns, axioms, rules and mathematical calculations. A
computer has no psychological barriers. It is “willing” to check moves that most humans,
including top players, reject instantly as part of a psychological elimination process based
on paradigms. Computer-aided home analyses of top chess players leads to a reassessment
of all old axioms, principles and evaluations. Hence one can easily understand why work
with computers adds a new creative layer to the game.” (http://www.everymanchess.com/chess/books/Play_Unconventional_Chess_and_Win)

I have not seen the book, only an excerpt provided at the Everyman Chess website. I am not now, nor have I ever been, one to “tow the party line.” Knowledge is only advanced by those who question conventional thinking. Although it is true “…that technological advances have made a huge amount of information available to chess players,” I do not understand how that fact can be considered “creative.”

The computer chess programs have drastically altered the Royal game; this is not your father’s chess. For example, take the response to a question posed by Sergey Kim to Rafael Vaganian during an interview on the Chess24 website, “Both at the board and simply in life you met all the Soviet world champions from Botvinnik to Kasparov. The world champions of the twentieth century – of your generation – and the champions of the third millennium – first and foremost, Carlsen: how do they differ?”

GM Rafael Vaganian: “It’s hard to compare, because the chess is totally different. Those champions worked in another setting, playing another kind of chess. With no computers, they worked and created on their own, and their creativity was immense. If they found something it was with their own minds, while now there are these amazing programs. Theory has “grown” to 30-35 moves, and you simply can’t compare the two types of chess. Frankly speaking, I don’t like modern chess, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. After all, a person isn’t capable of remembering so much, so they simply suffer because of it. They need to remember and learn it all, but then what of creativity? They barely play at the board, but at home, and that’s bad.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/rafael-vaganian-anand-won-t-lose)

Prior to the domination of the chess “engines” knowledge was gleaned from intercourse between humans. Mikhail Tal was forced to work with Anatoly Karpov by the Soviet authorities and it changed his style of play. Contrast the games of the young Tal from the 1950’s and 60’s with that of the Tal of the 80’s and you will see an almost complete transformation. Granted, most players change as they age, but not to the drastic extent of Tal. Back in the day human players fed off of each other and learned from their human peers. Today the intercourse is between man and machine. The chess playing programs have altered the natural development of the game of chess. We will never know how chess play would have developed if humans had been left alone.

Former World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik had this to say in an “Indepth interview with Vladimir Kramnik” on Chessbase: “Chess openings are like science. It keeps evolving. Judging by the standards of the time when Garry was an active player, he indeed knew the opening extremely well. Now it is over, his preparation isn’t good anymore. It is part of the past. Chess is developing very rapidly – just like the Internet, gadgets. You know, no one cares about the first models of iPhones now. Without day-by-day opening studies it is not possible. You can’t just invent a bunch of ideas and then spend ten years capitalizing on them. In the 70s or 80s this might have been possible. Now, in the computer age, you have to keep finding more and more new ideas. This is a paramount amount of work. You can’t rely on the old databases.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/indepth-interview-with-vladimir-kramnik-120413)

Kramnik had this to say in response to a question by mishanp, on August 4, 2013, during an interview on the Chess in Translation website:

“A lot has been said recently about how super-computers will put an end to chess. Is chess really finite?”

Vlad: “It’s finite, no doubt, but it’s a number with 27 or 28 zeros – for the human mind it’s still infinite. Checkers, and particularly Russian checkers, really has been exhausted by computers, if you can put it like that. Chess is too complex: even the most powerful computers we use to train can analyse positions to a maximum of about 30 moves ahead. Games, meanwhile, can sometimes stretch to 200 moves. Yes, computers are strong, but they don’t calculate the game to the end and sometimes they make mistakes.” – Kramnik: “Intellectual effort gives me enormous pleasure.” ( http://www.chessintranslation.com/2013/08/kramnik-intellectual-effort-gives-me-enormous-pleasure/)

Computer chess programs are now two of three classes above Vladimir and have become so powerful that it is rare when Black loses a game in a match between these monsters. The same fate awaits human grandmasters as they become stronger.

Colin McGourty posed this question to GM Levon Aronian, “Is there a particular part or subject of the game you enjoy studying? (openings, middlegames, endgames, tactical combinations, etc.)” Levon answered, “I really enjoy finding new ideas in the early stages of the game. The biggest joy in the modern chess era is the discovery of good moves that are not approved by the computer.”

If the grandmasters today are “creating” anything, what is it they are creating? The young players today eschew post-game analysis so they can put the moves played into a computer in order to learn how the “engine” evaluates their moves. Things have changed in the same way things have changed for the game of Checkers. Name the current World Human Checkers Champion. As the “engines” become ever more powerful, chess will inevitably follow the same path as that of the game of Checkers.

IM Jeremy Silman wrote this recently, “The point of this article is to discuss something that needs to be addressed: CHESS ENGINES ARE OFTEN DETRIMENTAL TO THE CHESS HEALTH OF NON-MASTERS. – A Chess Engine Is NOT Your Friend!” (http://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-engines-are-not-your-friend)

Up Against the Berlin Wall

In Chess Informant 118 Garry Kasparov writes, “The sharp character of these games shows the Berlin is indeed a rich and subtle middlegame, and not an endgame. And if White pushes too hard, the absence of queens from the board does not offer him any safety.” (http://www.chess.com/article/view/kasparov-on-berlin-defense)

In a recent article on the Chessbase website, “Kasparov: The quality of the games was not so high,” Garry wrote, “On a personal note, I find it ironic that 14 years after I was criticized for not beating Vladimir Kramnik’s Berlin Defense, when I lost my title in London, the Berlin has become an absolute standard at the highest level. Amateurs may find it boring, but it is really not an endgame at all, but a complex queenless middlegame that can be very sharp, as we saw in the final Carlsen-Anand game.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/kasparov-the-quality-of-the-games-was-not-so-high)

As an amateur, I concur with Garry. The Berlin, with its concomitant early Queen exchange, is boring. The elite players play a different game from that played by the hoi poi. The commentators know this and go overboard in trying to inject some “excitement” into the Berlin for the fans, or at least the ones still awake.

The Legendary Georgia Ironman has for decades told students that an early Queen trade usually, in general terms, favors Black. Understood is the fact that, sans Queen, Black will not be checkmated early in the game. It goes without saying that the Berlin, as Tim has been heard to say, “Fits my style.” Why then give Black what he wants by trading Queens?

There are many ways of battling the Berlin without trading Queens. The Great man, Emanuel Lasker, showed the way in an 1892 match played in the USA:

Emanuel Lasker vs Jackson Whipps Showalter

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bc5 5. Bxc6 bxc6 6. Nxe5 O-O 7. c3 a5 8. d4 Ba6 9. Qf3 Re8 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Nd2 Rb8 12. b3 Qc8 13. c4 Bd8 14. O-O c5 15. Qh3 Re6 16. Nef3 Nxe4 17. Nxe4 Rxe4 18. Bxd8 Qxd8 19. Qf5 Qe7 20. Rae1 Re6 21. d5 g6 22. Qf4 Qd6 23. Qxd6 Rxd6 24. Ng5 a4 25. Ne4 axb3 26. axb3 Rxb3 27. Nxd6 cxd6 28. Rc1 Rb4 29. Rb1 Bxc4 30. Rxb4 cxb4 31. Rd1 Ba2 32. Rd2 b3 33. Rb2 Kg7 34. f4 Kf6 35. Kf2 g5 36. Kf3 h6 37. Ke4 Kg6 38. f5+ Kf6 39. g4 Ke7 40. Kd4 Kf6 41. Ke4 Ke7 42. Kd3 Kf6 43. Kd4 Kg7 44. Kc3 h5 45. gxh5 Kh6 46. Re2 b2 47. Rxb2 Bxd5 48. Rd2 Be4 49. Rxd6+ Kxh5 50. f6 Bf5 51. Kd4 Be6 52. Ke5 g4 53. Rd3 Kg6 54. Rd2 Kg5 55. Rf2 Kg6 56. Kd6 Kg5 57. Ke7 Kh5 58. Re2 Kg6 59. Re5 Bb3 60. Rb5 Be6 61. Rb6 Bc4 62. Rb8 Be6 63. Rh8 Kg5 64. Rh7 d5 65. Rxf7 Bxf7 66. Kxf7 d4 67. Kg7 d3 68. f7 1-0

4 Qe2 versus the Berlin should be called the “Lasker variation” against the Berlin. Here is another game with the Lasker variation in which a player well-known for playing Qe2 against the French tried it versus the Berlin:

Mikhail Chigorin vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Budapest 1896

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 d3 7. cxd3 dxe5 8.
Nxe5 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Bxc6 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 bxc6 12. Nxc6 Qd6 13. Ne7+ Kh8 14.
Nxc8 Raxc8 15. O-O Rfd8 16. Ne4 Qxd3 17. Qxd3 Rxd3 18. Nxf6 gxf6 19. Rfd1 Rcd8
20. Rxd3 Rxd3 21. g3 Rd2 22. Rc1 Rxb2 23. Rxc7 Rxa2 24. Rxf7 Ra6 25. Kg2 Kg8
26. Rb7 Ra2 27. h4 a6 28. Kf3 h5 29. Rc7 Ra5 30. Kf4 Kf8 31. f3 Kg8 32. Ra7 Kf8
33. g4 hxg4 34. fxg4 Ra1 35. Kf5 Rf1+ 36. Kg6 Rf4 37. g5 fxg5 38. hxg5 Ra4 39.
Ra8+ Ke7 40. Kh6 a5 41. g6 Ra1 42. g7 Rh1+ 43. Kg6 Rg1+ 44. Kh7 Rh1+ 45. Kg8
Ra1 46. Ra7+ Ke8 47. Ra6 Rh1 48. Rxa5 Re1 49. Rh5 Rg1 50. Re5+ Kd7 51. Kh7 1-0

A few more games in chronological order:

Mikhail Tal vs Viktor Korchnoi
Candidates SF, Moscow, 1968

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 a6 5. Ba4 Be7 6. O-O b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 b4 9. d3 d6 10. Nbd2 Bg4 11. Qe3 Na5 12. Ba2 c5 13. Nc4 Nc6 14. h3 Bd7 15. Qe2 Rb8 16. Bb3 Ne8 17. Ne3 Na5 18. Bd5 Nc7 19. Bd2 Nxd5 20. Nxd5 Be6 21. Nxe7+ Qxe7 22. Ng5 f6 23. Nxe6 Qxe6 24. f4 Nc6 25. Be3 Nd4 26. Bxd4 cxd4 27. b3 Rbc8 28. Rad1 Rc5 29. Rd2 Rfc8 30. Rf2 a5 31. Qf3 exf4 32. Qxf4 Re5 33. Rfe2 Qe7 34. Qf2 Qa7 35. Kh1 Rce8 36. Kg1 Qc5 37. Qf3 R8e7 38. Kh1 h6 39. Kg1 Re8 40. Kh1 R8e7 41. Kg1 Kf8 42. Rd1 d5 43. Rde1 Kf7 44. h4 dxe4 45. Rxe4 h5 46. Qf4 Rxe4 1/2-1/2

Anatoly Karpov vs Art Bisguier
Caracas 1970

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. c3 d6 6. d4 Nd7 7. O-O O-O 8. Nbd2 Bf6 9. d5 Ne7 10. Bd3 c6 11. c4 a5 12. b3 g6 13. Ba3 c5 14. Bb2 Bg7 15. g3 Kh8 16. Rae1 Nf6 17. Nh4 Nfg8 18. Ng2 a4 19. f4 f6 20. Ne3 Nh6 21. Bc3 axb3 22. axb3 Bh3 23. Rf2 Bd7 24. Qf1 Nf7 25. f5 g5 26. Be2 Ng8 27. h4 gxh4 28. gxh4 Bh6 29. Bh5 Qe7 30. Kh1 Bf4 31. Qh3 b5 32. cxb5 Bxb5 33. Ndc4 Bxe3 34. Nxe3 Ra3 35. Bd1 Ngh6 36. Bb2 Ra2 37. Bh5 Rg8 38. Nd1 Raa8 39. Nc3 Bd7 40. Bc1 Rab8 41. Bd1 Ra8 42. Ne2 Ra2 43. Rg1 Rxg1+ 44. Kxg1 Bb5 45. Nc3 Rxf2 46. Kxf2 Ba6 47. Nb1 Qb7 48. Qc3 Ng8 49. Bh5 Ngh6 50. Nd2 Ng8 51. Ke1 Ngh6 52. Kd1 Bb5 53. Nf3 Qa6 54. Ng5 Be8 55. Be2 Bb5 56. Bh5 Be8 57. Nf3 Bb5 58. Ne1 Qa2 59. Qb2 Qa5 60. Bd2 Qa7 61. Qc3 Qa2 62. Nc2 c4 63. bxc4 Bxc4 64. Qa3 Qb1+ 65. Qc1 Qb3 66. Bxh6 Qd3+ 67. Bd2 Qxe4 68. Qa3 Bxd5 69. Ne3 Qxh4 70. Bxf7 Bxf7 71. Qxd6 Qa4+ 72. Ke1 Qh4+ 73. Kd1 Qa4+ 74. Kc1 Qa1+ 75. Kc2 Qa4+ 76. Kd3 Qb5+ 77. Ke4 Qb7+ 78. Nd5 Qb1+ 79. Ke3 Qg1+ 80. Kd3 Bxd5 81. Qxf6+ Qg7 82. Qd8+ Qg8 83. Qe7 Qg3+ 84. Be3 h5 1/2-1/2

Robert Byrne vs Vassily Smyslov
Alekhine Memorial, Moscow 1971

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 a6 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nc3 Bd6 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. Bd2 Bb4 10. Nf3 Qe7 11. O-O-O Bxc3 12. Bxc3 Qxe4 13. Rhe1 Qxe2 14. Rxe2 Nd5 15. Be5 b5 16. Nd4 Bd7 17. Nb3 Rfe8 18. Rde1 f6 19. Bg3 Rxe2 20. Rxe2 Kf7 21. a3 g5 22. Nc5 Bf5 23. f3 a5 24. h3 h5 25. Re1 Rg8 26. Re2 Bc8 27. Nb3 a4 28. Nc5 Bf5 29. Na6 Rc8 30. Re1 h4 31. Bh2 Be6 32. Nc5 Re8 33. Na6 Re7 34. b3 f5 35. Kd2 f4 36. Bg1 Bf5 37. Rxe7+ Kxe7 38. Nb4 Nxb4 39. Bc5+ Ke6 40. Bxb4 1/2-1/2

Kenneth Rogoff vs William Martz
Lone Pine 1976

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 Bd7 6. d5 Nb8 7. Bd3 g6 8. c4 c5 9. Nc3 Na6 10. h3 Nc7 11. a3 h5 12. O-O Bh6 13. Bxh6 Rxh6 14. Qe3 Ng8 15. b4 b6 16. Rab1 f6 17. Rb2 Rh7 18. bxc5 bxc5 19. Nh4 Rg7 20. f4 Rb8 21. Rxb8 Qxb8 22. fxe5 fxe5 23. Qg5 Qb2 24. Nxg6 Rf7 25. Nxe5 Rxf1+ 26. Bxf1 dxe5 27. Qxg8+ Ke7 28. Qg5+ 1-0

Kevin Spraggett vs Robert South
Canada Championship 1978

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 Bd7 6. d5 Nb8 7. Bd3 g6 8. c4 Na6 9. Nc3 Nc5 10. Bc2 a5 11. h3 Bg7 12. Bg5 h6 13. Be3 Nh5 14. g3 Qc8 15. Nh4 Bf6 16. Nf5 Bg5 17. Bxc5 dxc5 18. h4 Bd8 19. Ba4 Nf6 20. Bxd7+ Qxd7 21. Ne3 Kf8 22. O-O-O Ne8 23. f4 Bf6 24. Ng4 Qe7 25. Rhf1 Kg7 26. d6 cxd6 27. Nd5 Qe6 28. f5 gxf5 29. Ngxf6 Nxf6 30. Nc7 Qd7 31. Nxa8 Rxa8 32. Rxf5 1-0

It always hurts to see the South go down…

Viswanathan Anand vs Susan Polgar
Amber-rapid, Monte Carlo 1994

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. Nxe5 Re8 8. d3 Bc5 9. Nf3 Bg4 10. Be3 Bd6 11. Nbd2 b5 12. h3 Bh5 13. a4 a6 14. Rfe1 c5 15. axb5 axb5 16. Qf1 c4 17. dxc4 bxc4 18. Qxc4 Bxf3 19. Nxf3 Rxe4 20. Qd3 Re8 21. Bd4 Rxa1 22. Rxa1 Nd5 23. Re1 Nf4 24. Qd2 Rxe1+ 25. Qxe1 h6 26. Qe4 Ne6 27. Be3 Qb8 28. b3 Qb5 29. g3 Qe2 30. Nd2 Be7 31. Qa8+ Kh7 32. Qf3 Qe1+ 33. Kg2 Kg8 34. Qa8+ Kh7 35. Nf3 Qc3 36. Qe4+ Kg8 37. Nd4 Nxd4 38. Bxd4 Qb4 39. c3 Qd6 40. b4 Qd7 41. b5 f5 42. Qb7 Bd6 43. c4 Kh7 44. Qd5 Qc8 45. c5 Bf8 46. c6 Kh8 47. Qd7 Qa8 48. Qxf5 Qe8 49. Be5 Qd8 50. Bxc7 1-0

Judit Polgar vs Boris Spassky
Veterans-Women 1994

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. O-O Bd7 6. c3 g6 7. d4 Qe7 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. a4 Bg7 10. b3 Nh5 11. g3 Qf6 12. Bg5 Qe6 13. Nbd2 Qg4 14. Kh1 O-O 15. Be3 Nf6 16. Rad1 Rad8 17. Ng1 Qxe2 18. Bxe2 b6 19. f3 Nh5 20. b4 f5 21. a5 f4 22. Bf2 fxg3 23. hxg3 g5 24. Nc4 g4 25. Ne3 Nf6 26. Kg2 gxf3+ 27. Bxf3 bxa5 28. b5 Ne7 29. c4 c6 30. bxc6 Nxc6 31. Nd5 Rf7 32. Ne2 Ng4 33. Bg1 h5 34. Rb1 Be6 35. Nec3 Nd4 36. Bd1 Rxf1 37. Kxf1 Bf8 38. Rb7 Rd7 39. Rb8 Kg7 40. Kg2 Rf7 41. Nf4 Bd7 42. Rb7 Nf6 43. Rb1 Bb4 44. Ncd5 Nxe4 45. Bxh5 Rf8 46. Ng6 Rf5 47. Nxe5 Nc2 48. Nxd7 Rxh5 49. g4 Ne1+ 50. Rxe1 Rxd5 51. Rxe4 Rxd7 52. c5 Rd2+ 53. Kf3 Rc2 54. Re7+ Kg6 55. Bd4 Rc4 56. Rg7+ Kh6 57. g5+ Kh5 58. Be3 Bxc5 59. Rh7+ Kg6 60. Rh6+ Kg7 61. Rc6 Bxe3 62. Rxc4 Bxg5 1/2-1/2

Alexandra Kosteniuk vs Elena Zayac
8th EU-Cup (women) 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bd6 5. c3 O-O 6. d3 Re8 7. Bg5 a6 8. Ba4 Bf8 9. Nbd2 d6 10. Nf1 h6 11. Bh4 g6 12. Ne3 Bg7 13. O-O Bd7 14. Bb3 Qc8 15. Nd2 Nh5 16. g3 Bh3 17. Ng2 Na5 18. Bd1 Nf6 19. f4 Bg4 20. Qf2 Be6 21. fxe5 Nh7 22. Bf6 dxe5 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. b4 Nc6 25. d4 exd4 26. cxd4 Ng5 27. Qf6+ Kg8 28. d5 Qd8 29. Qc3 Bxd5 30. exd5 Qxd5 31. h4 Ne6 32. Rf2 Qd4 33. Qxd4 Nexd4 34. Nb3 Nf5 35. g4 Nd6 36. a3 Ne5 37. Nd2 Kg7 38. Be2 f5 39. gxf5 Nxf5 40. Nc4 Rad8 41. Nxe5 Rxe5 42. Bg4 Ne3 43. Nxe3 Rxe3 44. Raf1 Re7 45. h5 Rd4 46. Rg2 g5 47. Bf5 Rc4 48. Rg3 c5 49. bxc5 Rxc5 50. Bg6 Rce5 51. Rgf3 Re1 52. Rf7+ Rxf7 53. Rxe1 Rc7 54. Re6 Rc3 55. a4 Rc4 56. a5 Rc5 57. Be4 Rxa5 58. Rg6+ Kf7 59. Rxh6 Re5 60. Bg6+ Kf6 61. Bd3+ Kg7 62. Rh7+ Kf6 63. Rxb7 Re7 64. Rb8 Kg7 65. Rb6 Re8 66. h6+ Kh8 67. Rxa6 Rd8 68. Bg6 Rb8 69. Kg2 Rd8 70. Kg3 Rb8 71. Kg4 Rb4+ 72. Kh5 Rb8 73. Ra7 g4 74. Rh7+ Kg8 75. Rg7+ Kh8 76. Be4 Rb5+ 77. Kg6 Rg5+ 78. Kxg5 1-0

Magnus Carlsen vs Can Arduman
19th EU-Cup 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O d6 6. d4 Bd7 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8.
Nc3 exd4 9. Nxd4 Bd7 10. f4 O-O 11. Kh1 Re8 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Bd6 14. Bf4
Bg4 15. Qb5 Bd7 16. Qxb7 Bxe5 17. Bxe5 Rxe5 18. Rad1 Qc8 19. Qf3 c5 20. Nb3 Bc6
21. Qg3 Qg4 22. Qxg4 Nxg4 23. Na5 Be8 24. Nc4 Re6 25. h3 Nf6 26. Rf5 Rc8 27.
Nd6 Rc6 28. Nb7 g6 29. Rxc5 Rb6 30. Nd8 Red6 31. Rxd6 Rxd6 32. Rc8 Rd2 33. Nc6
Rxc2 34. Nxa7 Rxb2 35. Ne4 Kg7 36. Nxf6 Ba4 37. Ne8+ Kh6 38. Nd6 f5 39. a3 Rb3
40. Nf7+ Kh5 41. Rh8 g5 42. Ne5 g4 43. Rxh7+ Kg5 44. hxg4 fxg4 45. Rg7+ Kf6 46.
Rxg4 Rxa3 47. Nac6 1-0

Magnus Carlsen vs Davide Isonzo
Claude Pecaut Memorial 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O d6 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8.
Bxc6 bxc6 9. Rd1 O-O 10. e5 dxe5 11. Nxc6 Qe8 12. Nxe7+ Qxe7 13. Bg5 Bc6 14.
Qc4 Qe6 15. Qxe6 fxe6 16. Nd2 Rab8 17. b3 Nd5 18. Nc4 Rf5 19. Be3 Nf4 20. Bxf4
exf4 21. Re1 Rg5 22. g3 Bd5 23. Ne5 Rf8 24. c4 Bb7 25. Nd7 Rf7 26. Re5 Rgf5 27.
g4 Rxe5 28. Nxe5 Rf8 29. Rd1 h5 30. Ng6 Re8 31. Nxf4 hxg4 32. Rd7 Bf3 33. Nh5
Rf8 34. Rxg7+ Kh8 35. Rd7 Rf5 36. Ng3 Re5 37. Kf1 Ra5 38. a4 Ra6 39. Ke1 Rb6
40. Rd3 e5 41. Kd2 a5 42. h4 Kh7 43. Re3 Re6 44. Ne4 Kg6 45. Ng5 Rd6+ 46. Kc3
e4 47. Nxe4 Rd1 48. Ng3 Rc1+ 49. Kd2 Ra1 50. h5+ Kf6 51. Re8 Ra2+ 52. Ke3 Rb2
53. h6 Kg6 54. Re6+ Kh7 55. Kf4 Rxb3 56. Nf5 Rb6 57. Re7+ Kh8 58. Kg5 Rc6 59.
Nd4 Rxc4 60. Re8+ Kh7 61. Ne6 Re4 62. Re7+ Kh8 63. Kg6 1-0

I leave you with this game, played by a young boy from the Great State of Florida, who was one of the highly-touted junior players that left chess. I used a quote on this blog some time ago about an Emory student who told his frat brothers he was, at one time, a junior chess champion. I confirmed this before being told that AJ said he quit chess because “It has become a game for children.” Who am I to argue with AJ’s astute insight?

AJ Steigman (2242) vs Alex Sherzer (2494)
Philadelphia NCC 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bc5 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. h3 Bd7 8. Nc3
a6 9. Ba4 Ba7 10. Bb3 Re8 11. Nd5 h6 12. c3 Be6 13. Be3 Bxd5 14. Bxd5 Nxd5 15.
exd5 Ne7 16. Bxa7 Rxa7 17. c4 Ng6 18. g3 f5 19. Nh2 c5 20. Rab1 a5 21. Rfe1 b6
22. f4 Qf6 23. fxe5 Rxe5 24. Qf2 f4 25. g4 Rae7 26. Rxe5 Nxe5 27. Rd1 f3 28. b3
Rf7 29. d4 cxd4 30. Rxd4 Qg6 31. Rd1 h5 32. Rd4 Qb1+ 33. Nf1 hxg4 34. hxg4 Nd3
35. Qe3 f2+ 36. Kg2 Ne1+ 37. Kh2 Qh7+ 38. Kg3 Qh1 39. Qe8+ Rf8 40. Qe6+ Kh8 41.
Rf4 Qg1+ 42. Kh3 Qxf1+ 43. Kh4 Qh1+ 44. Kg5 Qh6+ 0-1

Chess and Luck

Is there luck in chess? After receiving a “gift” from former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in sixth game of the current match for the championship of the world, World Champion Magnus Carlsen admitted he was “lucky.” When playing backgammon professionally decades ago some of my vanquished opponents would say, “You were lucky.” My response was invariably the same, “I had rather be lucky than good, because when I am good and lucky, I cannot be beat!”

I found this on the “Sabermetric Research” blog by Phil Birnbaum: Monday, January 14, 2013

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.” (http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2013/01/chess-and-luck.html) Read the post to understand why Phil thinks there is luck involved in chess.

Later in the post Phil writes, “On an old thread (http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/poker_is_a_game_of_skill_not_luck/#27) 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?”

In #27 James writes, “I think it comes down to what is the relative difference in skill between players and the role of skill vs luck in a game.

If a game is 100% skill (say chess) and say for the sake of argument that the two players are perfectly equally skilled then who wins a single game is purely luck. Regardless of whether they are two unskilled beginners or the two best players in the world.

How do you differentiate between that and the two of them tossing a coin.”

Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were “the two players perfectly equally skilled.” Garry was obviously not the equal of Anatoly when they first met in the ill-fated match that went on for many months, with one short draw after another after Kasparov was down 0-5, until the slight Karpov neared collapse, when Kasparov won 3 games before FIDE President Florencio Campomanes ended the match, fearing one of the players may “drop dead at the board.” From the second match on, Kasparov was ever so slightly better than the much older Karpov. We know this because they played hundreds of games in many matches for the title. Games are played to determine who is the better player, and by what margin.

Because my friend the Discman played, and has followed, baseball, and because Sabermetrics emanates from the field of dreams, I asked him to read the post and let me know what he thought of luck in chess. This is his response:

“I have a much less esoteric and simplistic example of luck in chess. This happens frequently in over-the-board tournament games where neither player is being assisted by a computer. The frequency is directly correlated to the strength of the players, occurring less frequently the stronger the players are. At my level of play when facing competition of similar strength it occurred maybe once every 20-25 games. Here goes:

I’m sure you have heard it said that chess is 98% tactics and I generally agree with that. How many times have you gone back over your games and realized that you had made a significant oversight that your opponent could have taken advantage of, but also missed?

In many cases, seeing the correct combination to punish you was well within the skill level of your opponent, but for any number of reasons (he was having a bad day, he was distracted at that moment, his biorhythm’s were off, etc.) he just missed it.

If he had been put in that same situation next Tuesday instead of today he may very well have seen it. You were lucky that he missed it – he didn’t miss it because you were a stronger player than he was.

Sometimes the oversight is so simple a 1200 player could see it, like the time Leonard Dickerson missed a mate in 1 and got checkmated by a 1500 player. There was a simple defense to the checkmate – in fact the move Leonard made allowed the mate so it was truly a Helpmate. You could put Leonard in similar situations 10,000 times and he would make a similar mistake 1 time.

Did his opponent get lucky? Hell yes he did. You might argue that the 1500 player was better than the master at that one point in time but I don’t think so – he got extremely lucky that Leonard had a brain-fart that allowed a mate in 1.”

Luck in Chess?

‘Chess,’ said the Dutch grandmaster, Jan Hein Donner, ‘is as much a game of chance as blackjack; or tossing cards into a top hat.’ There was a pained silence, then a polite babel of disagreement: it was a game of the utmost skill; a conflict between disciplined minds in which victory would inexorably go to the more perceptive, the more analytical player; a duel of the intellect in which luck played no part. Donner shrugged, lit another cigarette and said: ‘Believe that if you like.’ Bent Larsen smiled the smile of a man who had heard his friend air such iconoclastic arguments in the past but was quite happy to contest them again, when the score of the fifth game of the World Championship match between Karpov and Korchnoi was brought in. Both men pulled out of their inside pockets the wallet sets all grandmasters seem to carry at all times and began to skim through the moves.

It happened that the teleprinter tape had been torn off after Karpov’s 54th move as Black […]. They studied the position for a few moments, mated Karpov in four moves and were surprised when another whole sheet of moves was brought from the teleprinter.

When they saw Korchnoi’s 55th move – Be4+ – Larsen’s eyebrows went up.

‘There you are,’ Donner said, quietly and without triumph as though some self-evident truth had been revealed, ‘pure luck’.

KORTSCHNOJ,V (2665) – KARPOV,AN (2725) (05) [E42]
WCH29-BAGUIO CITY, 1978

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Nxc3
cxd4 8. exd4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nc6 10. Be3 O-O 11. O-O b6 12. Qd3 Bb7 13.
Rad1 h6 14. f3 Ne7 15. Bf2 Nfd5 16. Ba2 Nf4 17. Qd2 Nfg6 18. Bb1 Qd7
19. h4 Rfd8 20. h5 Nf8 21. Bh4 f6 22. Ne4 Nd5 23. g4 Rac8 24. Bg3 Ba6
25. Rfe1 Rc6 26. Rc1 Ne7 27. Rxc6 Qxc6 28. Ba2 Qd7 29. Nd6 Bb7 30.
Nxb7 Qxb7 31. Qe3 Kh8 32. Rc1 Nd5 33. Qe4 Qd7 34. Bb1 Qb5 35. b4 Qd7
36. Qd3 Qe7 37. Kf2 f5 38. gxf5 exf5 39. Re1 Qf6 40. Be5 Qh4+ 41. Bg3
Qf6 42. Rh1 Nh7 43. Be5 Qg5 44. Qxf5 Qd2+ 45. Kg3 Nhf6 46. Rg1 Re8
47. Be4 Ne7 48. Qh3 Rc8 49. Kh4 Rc1 50. Qg3 Rxg1 51. Qxg1 Kg8 52. Qg3
Kf7 53. Bg6+ Ke6 54. Qh3+ Kd5
55. Be4+
[55. Bf7+ Kc6 56. Qe6+ Kb7 [56… Kb5 57. Qc4+ Ka4 58. Qa6#] 57. Qxe7+
Ka8 58. Qd8+ Kb7 59. Qc7+ Ka6 [59… Ka8 60. Qb8#] 60. Bc4+ b5 61.
Qc6#]

55… Nxe4 56. fxe4+ Kxe4 57. Qg4+ Kd3 58. Qf3+ Qe3 59. Kg4 Qxf3+ 60.
Kxf3 g6 61. Bd6 Nf5 62. Kf4 Nh4 63. Kg4 gxh5+ 64. Kxh4 Kxd4 65. Bb8
a5 66. Bd6 Kc4 67. Kxh5 a4 68. Kxh6 Kb3 69. b5 Kc4 70. Kg5 Kxb5 71.
Kf5 Ka6 72. Ke6 Ka7 73. Kd7 Kb7 74. Be7 Ka7 75. Kc7 Ka8 76. Bd6 Ka7
77. Kc8 Ka6 78. Kb8 b5 79. Bb4 Kb6 80. Kc8 Kc6 81. Kd8 Kd5 82. Ke7
Ke5 83. Kf7 Kd5 84. Kf6 Kd4 85. Ke6 Ke4 86. Bf8 Kd4 87. Kd6 Ke4 88.
Bg7 Kf4 89. Ke6 Kf3 90. Ke5 Kg4 91. Bf6 Kh5 92. Kf5 Kh6 93. Bd4 Kh7
94. Kf6 Kh6 95. Be3+ Kh5 96. Kf5 Kh4 97. Bd2 Kg3 98. Bg5 Kf3 99. Bf4
Kg2 100. Bd6 Kf3 101. Bh2 Kg2 102. Bc7 Kf3 103. Bd6 Ke3 104. Ke5 Kf3
105. Kd5 Kg4 106. Kc5 Kf5 107. Kxb5 Ke6 108. Kc6 Kf6 109. Kd7 Kg7
110. Be7 Kg8 111. Ke6 Kg7 112. Bc5 Kg8 113. Kf6 Kh7 114. Kf7 Kh8 115.
Bd4+ Kh7 116. Bb2 Kh6 117. Kg8 Kg6 118. Bg7 Kf5 119. Kf7 Kg5 120. Bb2
Kh6 121. Bc1+ Kh7 122. Bd2 Kh8 123. Bc3+ Kh7 124. Bg7 1/2-1/2

From The Master Game, Book 2, Jeremy James and William Hartston (1981). London: BBC.
(http://chess.eusa.ed.ac.uk/Chess/Trivia/Chessluck.html)