Caruana Fires Qe2 at the Berlin Wall!

I give Fabiano Caruana

full credit for trying something considered different against the dreaded Berlin defense,

especially when the move was previously played by none other than Bobby Fischer!

In an article at Chess24, Superbet Chess Classic 5: Shakh attack!, by Colin McGourty, one finds: “The other games in Round 5 of the Superbet Chess Classic were all drawn, with Fabiano Caruana’s 8.Qe2!? against the Berlin Defence the only one that’s likely to be remembered.”

“Anish Giri

had in the previous round explained that his Chessable course on the Sicilian Dragon had come about through some desperate brainstorming over how to win on demand with the black pieces in the Candidates Tournament.”

Whoa! Let us stop right there in the middle of a well written paragraph by Mr. McGourty for some editorial comment. Anish Giri playing the Dragon?! ‘Back in the day’ it was said that books about the Dragon variation were, “written in disappearing ink” because the theory was rapidly changing. Isn’t “Giri” and “win on demand” with either color, but especially black, oxymoronic? Over at the ChessBomb this was found at the “chat” during the second round games:

bobp55: Done – 3 draws today so far. So that’s 8 for 8 in the tourney.
lentil: Amish Girl will always find the draw.
GiriWillFindTheDraw: of course he will (

Like it or not Mr. Giri has the reputation of being his generations Master of the Draw. The only thing Anish can do to eradicate the reputation is win the World Championship, as did a previous Grandmaster with a reputation as a drawing master, Tigran Petrosian.

Unfortunately, putting up the Berlin wall will do nothing to eradicate his reputation and the drawmeister.

We return to the paragraph by Colin: “Perhaps some similar logic had gone into a way to surprise someone in that most solid of all variations, the Berlin Defence. Just when queens were about to leave the board for the infamous ending, Fabi veered off course with 8.Qe2!?, a move almost 30 times less popular.”

The game can be found at Chess24, and a plethora of other websites on the web, so I will present other games to complement the Chess24 article. First we will begin with a picture of Bobby Fischer playing Neikirkh, at Portorož 1958, posted by Douglas Griffin @dgriffinchess at Twitter:

Fischer, Robert James vs Neikirkh, Oleg
Event: Portoroz Interzonal
Site: Portoroz Date: ??/??/1958
Round: 1
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qe3 Qxe3 12.Bxe3 Bb4 13.Ne4 Bf5 14.c3 Bxe4 15.cxb4 a5 16.bxa5 Rxa5 ½-½

Qe2 can and has been played on the fifth move:

Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2792) vs Radjabov, Teimour (2765)
Event: FTX Crypto Cup KO 2021
Site: INT Date: 05/30/2021
Round: 3.12
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Qe2 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Qxe5+ Qe7 8.Qa5 Qd8 9.Qe5+ Qe7 10.Qa5 Qd8 11.Qe5+ ½-½

Although played with much less time for the game at the Crypto (Didn’t that stuff kill Superman?) Cup, it would have fit right in at the Superbet what with the “New Rule” in place at this tournament:

To promote competitive play during all GCT events, it will not be permitted for players to offer or agree to a draw in any game of a 2021 GCT event, including playoff games. In the event of a claim for a draw under Article 9.2 of the Laws (three-fold repetition) or under Article 9.3 of the Laws (50 move rule), one of the Event Arbiters must be asked by the players to verify the claim.

As Mr. Mr. McGourty wrote earlier:

“That doesn’t stop draws by 3-fold repetition of the position, however, which is how all the games were drawn in Round 2.”

Giri is not the only Grandmaster who will find a way…

Here is another game, a real rarity, played with Oe2 on the fifth move:

Naiditsch, Arkadij (2727) vs Akopian, Vladimir (2681)
Event: World Teams 2013
Site: Antalya TUR Date: 12/02/2013
Round: 6.3
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Qe2 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Qxe5+ Qe7 8.Qa5 Qd8 9.Qc3 Be6 10.Re1 Qd7 11.Ng5 O-O-O 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.d3 Be7 14.Nd2 Bf6 15.Qb3 Nf5 16.Ne4 Be7 17.Bd2 Qd5 18.Bc3 Rhe8 19.Re2 b5 20.Ng3 Nxg3 21.hxg3 Bf6 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Qc3 e5 24.a4 a6 25.axb5 axb5 26.Ra7 Kd7 27.Qa5 Rc8 28.Re4 Re7 29.Qd2 Rg8 30.c4 Qd6 31.Rh4 e4 32.cxb5 cxb5 33.Qa5 Rg5 34.dxe4 Rc5 35.Kh2 Qd3 36.Qe1 Rc2 37.Ra1 Qe2 38.Qb4 Qxf2 39.Qxb5+ c6 40.Qb7+ Ke6 41.Qc8+ Kd6 42.e5+ Kxe5 43.Rh5+ f5 44.Ra5+ Ke4 45.Rh4+ Ke3 46.Ra3+ Ke2 47.Qa6+ Ke1 48.Ra1+ Kd2 49.Qa5+ 1-0

Here is a game located at the ChessBaseDataBase, which is an even more rare event in the Berlin world, a win with black!

N. Illijan (2290) vs D. Sifrer (2240)

SLO chT 1993

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qe2 Nd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. h3 Be6 11. Rd1 Qc4 12. Rd3 Be7 13. b3 Qh4 14. Bg2 Bg5 15. Rd4 g4 16. Ba3 Rd8 17. Rxd8+ Bxd8 18. hxg4 h5 19. g5 Rg8 20. Bc1 Bxg5 21. Nd2 Bf4 22. Qf3 Bd5 23. Ne4 Bxe4 24. Qxf4 Rxg2+ 25. Kf1 Rg1+ 0-1

Now a couple of games found only after a trip in the Wayback time machine:

Mr Peabody's Wayback Machine |

Mackenzie, George Henry vs Riemann, Fritz
Event: DSB-04.Kongress
Site: Hamburg Date: ??/??/1885
Round: 4
ECO: C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.O-O Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.c3 Qh4 11.Be3 Be6 12.Nd2 Be7 13.f4 Bf5 14.Nf3 Qh5 15.Qf2 O-O 16.h3 Qg6 17.Kh2 h5 18.Rad1 Rfd8 19.Bd4 Rd7 20.Rde1 Rd5 21.c4 Rdd8 22.b3 b6 23.e6 fxe6 24.Ne5 Qe8 25.g4 hxg4 26.hxg4 Bxg4 27.Rh1 Bf6 28.Nxg4 Bxd4 29.Qc2 Qh5+ 30.Kg3 Qf5 31.Qe2 Rd6 32.Rh5 Qxh5 33.Nf6+ Bxf6 34.Qxh5 Rad8 35.c5 Rd2 36.Re2 R2d3+ 37.Kg2 R3d5 38.Qg4 Rxc5 39.Qxe6+ Kf8 40.Kf3 Rh5 41.Qxc6 Rh3+ 42.Kg4 Rh4+ 43.Kf5 Rh5+ 44.Kg4 Rh4+ ½-½

Mackenzie, George Henry vs Berger, Johann Nepomuk
Event: DSB-04.Kongress
Site: Hamburg Date: ??/??/1885
Round: 6 Score: ½-½
ECO: C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.O-O Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Kh1 Be7 11.Nc3 Be6 12.Rd1 Qc4 13.Qe1 Rd8 14.Be3 O-O 15.b3 Qa6 16.Rxd8 Rxd8 17.Ne2 Bf5 18.c4 Qa3 19.Nd4 Bg6 20.f4 Bc5 21.Qf2 Bxd4 22.Bxd4 Bf5 23.h3 b6 24.Re1 Qa5 25.Rc1 Qa3 26.Be3 Qe7 27.g4 Be4+ 28.Kh2 c5 29.Re1 Bb7 30.Bc1 Rd3 31.Be3 h6 32.Qg3 Qd7 33.f5 Qc6 34.Qf2 Qf3 35.Qxf3 Bxf3 36.Bf4 Rd7 37.Kg3 Bb7 38.h4 Rd3+ 39.Be3 Kf8 40.Kf4 g6 41.e6 Ke7 42.exf7 Kxf7 43.g5 h5 44.Ke5 gxf5 45.Kxf5 Rd6 46.Kf4 Bc8 47.Rf1 Kg6 48.Kg3 Bf5 49.Bf4 Rd3+ 50.Kf2 Rd4 ½-½

Kid Keymer versus the Closed Sicilian

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 a6 Arkadij Naiditsch

played 3 Nge2 against Vincent Keymer

in the fourth round of the ongoing Grenke Classic. Vincent is a fifteen year old boy currently battling men. The draw was unkind to the boy as he had to face the current World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen,

in the first round; the former World Human Chess Champion, Vishy Anand,

in the second round; and then the player who is, according to Carlsen, the “Co-Classical World Chess Champion,” Fabiano Caruana

in the third round.

This caused me to reflect upon a recent game I had researched between Yi Wei

and Kailo Kilaots

in the seventh round of the recently completed Aeroflot Open a couple of months ago. I learned 3 Nge2 is now considered the best move whereas previously 3 g3 was almost automatically played.

The game is annotated at Chessbase ( and many other places around the web, so I will only give the opening and a couple of games found before getting on to the Kid versus the Closed Siclian.

Yi Wei (2733) v Kulaots (2542)

Aeroflot Open

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 (The best move according to SF 9 & 10, and Houdini) Nf6 4. g3 (SF 10 at depth 35 plays this move, but at depth 42 plays 4 d4) Nc6 (SF 10 at depth 38 plays this move, but SF 010219 at the same depth plays 4…g6) 5. Bg2 g6 6. d3 (SF 9 at depth 36 plays this move, but going deeper to depth 44 shows 6 a3, a move yet to be played, followed by Bg7 7 Rb1, while Komodo plays the most often played move in practice, 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nd5) Bg7 7. 0-0 0-0 (SF 260219 at depth 39 shows 7…Rb8 8 Nd5 Nxd5) 8. Bg5 (SF 9 & 10 play 8 a3 , but Komodo shows 8 Nd5 Nd7 9 Ne3) 8…Bd7 (SF 9 at depth 40 shows 8…Rb8 9 a4 h6) 9. Qd2 (This is the SF choice but Komodo plays 9 Nd5) 9…Nd4 (Komodo shows 9…Rb8 10 Nd5 Ng4 or 9…Re8 10 h3 Rc8 both at depth 31)

Werner Hug (2435)

vs John Nunn (2565)

Luzern ol (Men) 1982

B25 Sicilian, closed

1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Nge2 Nf6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Rc8 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Nd4 12.Qd2 Qb6 13.Rab1 Bg4 14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Rc7 17.c4 dxc3 18.bxc3 Qa5 19.Rb4 Bf5 20.Rfb1 Rfc8 21.R1b3 b6 22.h3 e5 23.dxe6 Bxe6 24.Rb5 Qa6 25.c4 Rc5 26.Qb2 Rxb5 27.Rxb5 Rc5 28.Rxc5 dxc5 29.h4 h5 30.Be4 Qa5 31.Kg2 Qa4 ½-½

Thomas Flindt (2179) vs Martin Baekgaard (2294)

47th XtraCon TCh-DEN 2008-9


B24 Sicilian, closed

1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nge2 Nf6 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d6 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Qa5 10.Bh6 Nd4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.h3 Qb4 13.Rab1 Rac8 14.f4 Bc6 15.g4 Nd7 16.f5 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Qd4+ 18.Kh1 f6 19.g5 fxg5 20.Qg4 h6 21.fxg6 Ne5 22.Qe6 Nxg6 23.Nd5 Qe5 24.Qg4 e6 25.Ne3 b5 26.Qd1 Rxf1+ 27.Qxf1 Rf8 28.Qe1 h5 29.Qa5 Rf7 30.Rf1 Nf4 31.Qd8 d5 32.Nf5+ exf5 33.Qxg5+ Ng6 34.exf5 Qf6 35.Qxg6+ Qxg6 36.fxg6 Rxf1+ 37.Bxf1 d4+ 38.Bg2 Bxg2+ 39.Kxg2 Kxg6 40.h4 Kf5 41.Kf3 a5 42.Kg3 a4 43.b3 Ke5 ½-½

Arkadij Naiditsch 2710 (AZE)

vs Vincent Keymer 2509 (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 04

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. Nge2 d6 4. a4 Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. d3 Rb8 10. h3 Nd7 11. g4 h6 12. Ng3 Bh4 13. Nce2 b5 14. Kh2 b4 15. Be3 a5 16. Qd2 Ba6 17. b3 Qe7 18. Rg1 Rbc8 19. Raf1 g6 20. e5 d5 21. f5 Ncxe5 22. Bxh6 Rfe8 23. fxg6 fxg6 24. g5 Nf7 25. Qf4 Nxh6 26. Qxh4 Nf7 27. Nh5 gxh5 28. Rf6 Nxf6 29. gxf6 Qd6+ 30. Nf4 Kf8 31. Qg3 Red8 32. Re1 e5 33. Ng6+ Ke8 34. Nxe5 Qxf6 35. Ng4+ Qe7 36. Nf6+ 1-0

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (Stockfish 8 at the ChessBaseDataBase has this, followed by 2…Nc6 3. Nf3 as best, but Houdini goes with the usual 2. Nf3) a6 (Rather than playing a developing move, 2…Nc6, the most often played move, the kid plays a fourth rate move and I cannot but wonder why?) 3. Nge2 (Although Stockfish 9 would play what previously was standard, 3 g3, SF 10 goes with the game move. Then after 3…Nf6 would come 4. g3) d6 (SF displays the little played 3…Nf6, expecting 4. g3 e6) 4. a4 (An attempt to take the kid out of “book” after Keymer took the game out of book by playing 2…a6? SF 10 plays 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4; SF 9 goes with 4 g3 g6 5 Bg2)
Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 TN (See Genocchio vs Stefano below for 6 g6)

Daniele Genocchio, (2195) vs Stefano Tatai (2395)

ITA-ch 11/26/1998

B23 Sicilian, closed
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nge2 a6 4.a4 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.O-O Bg7 10.Nde2 O-O 11.h3 Rc8 12.Be3 a5 13.f4 Be6 14.Qd2 Nb4 15.Rfd1 Qc7 16.Rac1 Qb8 17.Nd4 Bc4 18.Ndb5 b6 19.Qf2 Nd7 20.e5 Rfd8 21.exd6 e6 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Rc5 24.Na3 Bd5 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.Nab5 Nf6 27.f5 Ne8 28.fxg6 fxg6 29.Rf1 Nxd6 30.Nxd6 Qxd6 31.Ne4 1-0

Levon Aronian (ARM)

vs Vincent Keymer (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 06

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 Be7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 O-O 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Re2 c5 16. Na4 Rd1+ 17. Kg2 Rad8 18. b3 Nd5 19. c3 Rc8 20. Re4 Nf6 21. Re2 Nd5 22. Rd2 Rxd2 23. Bxd2 c4 24. Nb2 Bf6 25. Nxc4 Bxc3 26. Rd1 Bxd2 27. Rxd2 g5 28. Kf3 Kg7 29. Ne3 Rc3 30. Rc2 f5 31. Rxc3 Nxc3 32. a4 g4+ 33. Kg2 Kf6 34. Nc2 Ne4 35. b4 Nc3 36. b5 axb5 37. a5 Nd5 38. a6 Nc7 39. a7 Ke5 40. Kf1 Kd5 41. Nb4+ Kc4 42. Nc6 Kd3 43. Ke1 Na8 44. Nd8 e5 45. Nc6 Ke4 46. Kd2 Kd5 47. Nb4+ Kc4 48. Nc6 Kd5 49. Nb4+ Ke4 50. Nc6 f4 51. Kc3 Kd5 52. Nb4+ Ke4 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (If the kid has brought an inferior second move to the tournament why not allow him to play it again, Sam) a6 (He does play it again, Sam!?) 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 (Show me what’cha know, Joe) Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 (Depending on which program Stockfish will either play 5…e6, expecting 6 d4 cxd4; or 5…g6, expecting 6 a3 Nc6) 6. O-O (SF would play 6 Nd5 which would be a TN) e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 (SF 9 at depth 41 plays the game move, expecting 9…Nxd4 10 Qxd4; but SF 270918 at depth 43 plays 9 a4 expecting 9…Be7 10 Nxc6. SF 10 at depth 35 plays 9 Be3 Rc8 10 Nc6) 9…Be7 (Although little played both SF and Komodo play 9…Nxd4 with an even game. 365Chess shows four games in which 9…Nxd4 was played and all four ended in a draw.

10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 (The big three all consider 11 a4 best) dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 (There is a disagreement between the Fish, which prefers the game move, and the Dragon, which likes 13 Qxd8+) 13…0-0 (The Fish trades the ladies while the Dragon keeps them on with 13…Qc7) 14. Qxd8 TN (Stockfish and Houdini consider this best. For 14 Qf3 and 14 Bd2 see games below)

Maritza Arribas (2300) vs Nana Ioseliani (2476)

Istanbul ol (Women) 11/12/2000

B40 Sicilian defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Re1 Be7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Qf3 Nd5 15.Re2 Rb8 16.Ne4 f5 17.Nd2 Rf6 18.Nc4 f4 19.Qe4 Qe8 20.Bxf4 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Qh5 22.Rae1 Rbf8 23.f3 Kh8 24.Qxc6 Rxf4 25.Nd2 Bh4 26.Rf1 R4f6 27.Rg2 Bg5 28.Qb7 Rg6 29.f4 Bxf4 30.Kh1 e5 31.c4 h6 32.Qe4 Rxg2 33.Qxg2 Rd8 34.Ne4 Rd1 35.Kg1 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Qd1+ 37.Kf2 Qc2+ 38.Kf3 Qxc4 39.b3 Qd3+ 40.Kg4 Qd1+ 41.Kf5 Qd7+ 42.Kg6 Qe6+ 43.Kh5 Qf5+ 44.Kh4 g5+ 45.Kh5 Kg7 46.b4 Be3 47.a4 Qf7+ 0-1

Bartlomiej Macieja (2613) vs Namig Gouliev (2526)

EU-ch 6th 06/28/2005

B46 Sicilian, Taimanov variation

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.Nge2 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.g3 d6 7.Bg2 Bd7 8.O-O Nf6 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nxc6 Bxc6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.Rb1 Rfd8 16.Qe2 Ng4 17.Be3 Nxe3 18.Rxe3 Rd4 19.Rd3 Rxd3 20.Qxd3 Rd8 21.Qe2 h6 22.Ne4 Qd4 23.Nc3 Qb6 24.Ne4 Qd4 25.Nc3 Qb6 ½-½

Class dismissed.

Armageddon Chess

The headline on Chessbase shows “GRENKE Final: Carlsen wins in Armageddon!” The article by Alejandro Ramirez is dated 2/10/2015 and even with the exclamation mark I am nonplussed. Carlsen did not win the tournament in my universe because he scored the same number of points as GM Arkadij Naiditsch. According to the multiverse theory whatever possibility exists can be found in one of those other universes. In one universe, let us call it nocaBverse, the two players who scored the same number of points tied for first. In another universe, let us call it Ironmanverse, tiebreaks were used and the first tiebreak was, as it is in every other game and sport on the universe in which the tournament we are discussing was played, the head to head matchup. In the Ironmanverse Arkadij Naiditsch was declared the winner. Other universes use things like most wins, or performance rating, or even most wins with Black, to decide a winner. Only in our universe are the best human chess players made to run a sprint after running a marathon in order to decide a “winner.” In one of the other universes a system is used whereby more points are awarded for a win or a draw for Black. A win with Black scores 3 points, while a win with White only scores 2 points. A draw with Black scores 1 1/2 points, while a draw with White only scores one point. In this multipointverse Arkadij Naiditsch outscored Magnus Carlsen by one half point, 11 1/2 to 11, and was declared the winner.

Magnus Carlsen know this. He is considered the World Human Chess Champion and commands the authority to take a page out of former first lady Nancy Raygun’s book and “just say no” to any organizer. Instead, like a trained seal, he jumps through whatever hoop is placed in front of him in order to be thrown another piece of meat. Hopefully, one day chess will have a worthy Champion who will say, “This is silly. I have just played a long tournament of normal chess and to contest some souped-up, heebee-jeeb games to determine anything is stupid.” I should live so long…

I have absolutely no interest in these quick-play games and do not pay any attention to them. The top players in the world these days make enough “howlers” in what passes for “classical” chess without my having to watch a blunder-fest. These games devolve into a kind of train wreck. It is absurd.

The once Royal game has devolved into “Armageddon Chess.” The definition of Armageddon is, “The final battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil.”

Where does the game of chess go after this? What comes after Armageddon?