Last night was spent viewing the Chess games from the current US Masters tournament being contested in Charlotte, North Carolina. Earlier I had commented that it was strange to see fellow Georgian Deepak Aaron
on board six facing Grandmaster Aman Hambleton
on board six because he was the only untitled player among the leaders. On had to go down to board twenty six to find the next untitled player. Deepak had the black pieces, which lowered the prospect of success. Music from The Hearts of Space (https://v4.hos.com/this-week/program) was playing as I surfed… Then the surfin’ stopped as the focus went to that game only as I sat there transfixed by the game. The commentary was left untouched as I began living vicariously while rooting for Deepak. I was so into it while making sounds like, “YES!”, or, “Oh No, Mr. Bill”… If and when Deepak would make a move of which I approved (and not all of my chosen moves would be approved) a fist would be clenched that would be pumped. Only one who has sat across from a titled player can understand how difficult it is to score even a draw against a Grandmaster, or one of GM strength. Not once did I turn on the analysis, and I have still not yet gone over the game with annotations, but hope to do so later today.
In the eighth round of the US Chess Championship young Christopher Yoo uncorked the seldom played Fantasy variation by moving his f-pawn one square on his third move. Word on the Chess street is seeing the move onscreen caused GM Ben Finegold to have a conniption fit.
Seeing the move made this Chess fan smile. Unfortunately, the offbeat openings played ‘back in the day’ do not see much action these daze, so when one is essayed it is a special treat.
I began putting the moves into the analysis program at Lichess to only look at the opening moves. Next thing I know I was in the middle game and “just had” to know how the game would play out, so I opened Hearts of Space (https://v4.hos.com/this-week/program) and listened while watching the game as time stood still for quite a while.
This writer was able to watch most, not all, of the coverage of the 2022 US Chess Championships. When unable to watch the live broadcast for various reasons I went back and watched what was missed earlier during the first twelve rounds. There were many “technical problems” with the last round so I turned it off and watched the games the old fashioned way by watching the moves played at Lichess.com. I did not later watch what was missed during the last round. Yasser mentioned something about the broadcast emanating from philanthropy and I realize the broadcast is not like any for profit broadcast, such as a Baseball game, or golf tournament, etc. Nevertheless, the broadcasts emanating from the St. Louis Chess Campus have been ongoing for many years, long enough for those broadcasting to have their collective act together. At the beginning of the broadcasts the commentators would focus on one game for a length of time, which was disconcerting, because there were fourteen ongoing games. I thought an overview of all the games should be given and from the emails received, so did many other viewers. One day the guys and girl focused almost exclusively on one game, which caused me to fire a salvo at the folks in St. Louis. After it happened again another salvo was fired, but no response was received from the Campus. I simply turned off the volume and watched the opening moves of all the games at Lichess.com.
I realize the commentators are not ‘professional’ media types, but they are getting paid, so maybe they could be considered “untrained” professionals. In one salvo fired at the StLCC I asked if there was a director, but have yet to receive an answer. A director could inform the commentators of where there was “action” in another game and they could switch to it immediately. I recall one instance when they were following an endgame in the open while there was a very interesting game with lieelt time remaining being contested in the women’s championship. I also recall Yasser saying something about, “We’re staying right here!” I tuned the sound off and watched the women’s game on Lichess.com.
(born 29 May 1982) is a Ukrainian chess player and journalist. She achieved the FIDE titles Woman International Master in 2000 and Woman Grandmaster in 2003. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastasiya_Karlovich) Her accent often made it hard to understand what she was saying. In addition, she had a disconcerting habit of talking over Yasser. It is impossible to understand what is being said when two people are talking, which happened all too often.
That said, I still give the StLCC a B+ for the effort. There were too many positives for a lower grade to be given. Please understand this old Warrior is still amazed at being able to watch something like this, which was unheard of ‘back in the day’. “Shelbourne Richard Lyman (October 22, 1936 – August 11, 2019) was an American chess player and teacher known for hosting a live broadcast of the 1972 World Chess Championship for the PBS television station Channel 13 in New York. This broadcast became the highest-rated public television program ever at that time, far surpassing viewership expectations.” In addition, Shelby also, “…later hosted a two-hour broadcast covering the World Chess Championship 1986. This segment was recorded at WNYE-TV in Brooklyn and aired on 120 public television stations.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby_Lyman) It was during the latter time the woman with whom I lived, after watching the first broadcast, facetiously called him, “Mr. Charisma.” Chess broadcasts have come a long way, baby.
When there was a break in the action I would glance at some of the comments left by those watching. I was surprised when reading some that questioned Yasser Seirawan’s penchant for telling stories of the past. “you cannot understand where you are at unless you know where you have been,” I thought. One of the pleasures of my childhood was watching the Baseball Game of the Week on Saturday afternoon. Former Major League Baseball players Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese
would regale we neophytes with stories of bygone days, just as Yasser does during the broadcast. To this writer those stories are one of the best facets of the broadcasts. One was so good I took notes, realizing words would not come near describing how good was the tale. Imagine the elation when the segment was found! It concerns former World Chess Champ Gary Kasparov and to just read the words, or even listen to them, would not contain the visceral response shown by Yasser. All the hours spent spectating, and listening to the broadcasts were worth it just to be able to see Yasser when describing the story.
The 2022 US Chess Championships were inherently unfair. The player of the white pieces has an advantage, which is more apparent in the Open than with the Women. Someone was overheard saying to a student, “Fabiano Caruana played the best Chess in the tournament.” I begged to differ, saying Ray Robson played the best Chess. He knew how much time I had spent on viewing the action, so respected my opinion, but still questioned the statement. “Fabi had the white pieces in seven games; Robson in only six,” I said.
It is long past the time those in the Chess world come to terms with the fact that the way tournaments are structured favors one half of the field. The only way to remedy the problem is to have a US Chess Championship in which each player has an equal number of games with both colors. This could be done by having an eight player field, the Elite Eight, with two games versus each of the seven opponents, making for a fourteen round tournament. The fact is there were too many players who should not have been playing in the tournament.
The games are too long. The time for the games should be shortened because there are many games which do not begin until the players have spouted out twenty moves of opening theory in only a few minutes. Give the players ninety minutes with some kind of increment and have them play two games each day. It would be like going to work an eight hour day job. After the first game there would be a two hour break and the second game could then begin.
Deciding a championship by playing speed (kills) Chess is ludicrous, especially when a so-called “champion” is determined by some abomination called, appropriately enough, “Armageddon”. One of the definitions of Armageddon is: “A decisive or catastrophic conflict.” (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Armaggedon). On second thought maybe it is appropriate after the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, in an unprecedented act, withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup after losing a badly played game to Hans Niemann. There is nothing worse than for a player to withdraw in a round robin tournament, unless there was some major reason for so doing, such as having a stroke, or going blind, etc. The action of sore loser Carlsen was an affront to the Royal Game, the Singuefield Cup, and to the St. Louis Chess Club. In addition, it was a slap in the face to the man responsible for the philanthropy, Rex Sinquefield. Tony Rich, Executive Director of the St. Louis Chess Campus,
said Magnus would be welcomed back to the STLCC, but he will never be welcomed by this writer. It is possible his ill-advised action will bring down the House of Chess. Magnus will not be the Chess champion of the world much longer and he should be classified as persona non grata everywhere, forced to sit home and ‘stream’ like Hikaru Nakamura
This is not the post planned for the last rest day of the US Chess Championships. That post will be made after the conclusion of the event.
This post is being written because of something extraordinary posted by “Danny
at Chess.com. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess.com) A “Community Update On Recent Events” was published at CHESScom on Oct 14, 2022, 2:36 PM. What is remarkable about this document is that the boys, “Danny and Erik” ASKED, and ANSWERED the questions. This is an affront to every Chess player on the planet. What is even more remarkable is that I have yet to read anyone in the Chess community taking the blues brothers, “Danny and Erik”, to task for asking, and answering their own questions! In every other facet of life journalists ask the questions. Imagine what would happen if politicians asked and answered their own questions.
The mea culpa begins with, “We imagine that most of you, like us, have had more friends than ever who are outside the chess community come and ask you about chess, cheating, Hans, Magnus, and everything else that is going on.”
The blues bros are right about the above statement as this was received from my favorite librarian, Heather: “So, what’s this scandal rocking the chess world?”
Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to answer, so a link to the blog was sent. Hopefully the subject can be discussed during lunch in the near future.
The opening paragraph continues, “Every news outlet on the planet seems to have written a “take” on chess in the last few weeks. It’s been a bewildering time for chess fans and our community. So, as an update to our recent report and the events going on in the chess community, we (Danny and Erik) wanted to take the time and answer some of the questions we see being asked. We appreciate your voice and your questions, and while we know that the opinions in the chess community are divided on many of these topics, we are doing our best to protect and grow the game.”
Translated that becomes, “And cover our ASSets.”
I was transfixed by the use of the word “bewildering”, which sent me to the Free Dictionary, where this definition was found: 1. To confuse or befuddle, especially by being complicated or varied. (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/bewildering)
From the myriad comments read on the subject over the past month it is apparent the only two people in the world of Chess who are confused and befuddled are obviously the blues bros, Danny and Erik.
Much more important is what the Chess community thinks about what was written by the blues bros, and since I am a part of the Chess community, and write a blog which concerns Chess, and readers have asked for my opinion, it will be delivered at the end of this post.
Ridiculous. NO excuse for violating your agreements to keep documents confidential in some cases but keeping them private for others. Obvious favoritism and bias and disgusting lying to the people you promised confidentiality to. I hope everyone reading this stops using this site since it’s run by a couple of creeps with no ethics, unless by “ethics” you mean “guzzling Magnus’s ‘output’ at every opportunity”.
I wish all will move away from this site Exposing private e-mails from maxim and damaging him with no clear reason is just another crime this site does (and the list is long
The reasoning for why you won’t release any information on other cheaters and why you claim to have released information on Hans doesn’t square with your stated reason for releasing information on Dlugy. Are you letting Magnus decide who gets thrown under the bus?
“We believe that there should be zero tolerance for cheating in chess in any venue or format.” This contradicts the whole report.
Chess.com quote: “…we often lean ever more conservative in our findings when it comes to young players.” (In response to the question: Why did you not close Hans’ account earlier when you knew he cheated? Why did you let this get to the 100 or so games mentioned in your report?)
Wow. Ageism Writ Large! Especially odd in the ‘Chess World’ as the Youth Dominate! (Oh yeah, and ‘Cutting slack’ seems to be encouraging, regardless of one’s age, cheating!)
I don’t know about legal aspects, but you promised people confidentiality in exchange for confessions and then you broke the promise. That behavior is wrong, even if it is legally permissible.
While I kind of understand that Chess.com wants their statements to be accurate and “professional”, I, however, do not believe this is the answer. Your answers were board (sic), general, and unrevealing, as hinted in the terms “not up to us”, “we don’t know”, “we’re not revealing more”. I would like to see more open information. But meanwhile, this is a big step from the days when you keep everything secret.
Just wondering, let’s say the same cheating situation, but with two different players. Would you still do the same or you only did this because Magnus/Hans was involved? Chess.com doesn’t want to get sued. It’s that simple.
This article pretends that Hans is the one who brought his Chess.com cheating to the public, when in reality it was HIkaru who first did it (and then Eric Hansen did, followed by others). In fact, he did it on the same day that Magnus withdrew, probably without Chess.com’s permission. This was supposed to stay private, and I’m guessing that Hikaru didn’t receive even a reprimand for this, because he’s Chess.com’s beloved mascot.
Why is Chess.com pretending that Hans is the one who brought the private cheating topic to the limelight first, when it was really their own sponsored partners?
What about the rest of the story?
Are we supposed to beleive Hikaru had a full production release set to go minutes after the story was released to the Press. Same with Levy. Sure looks like a leak to most of the world and collaboration between Chess.com & Streamers it’s hired and supported. Chess.com didn’t act as an independent arbiter in any of this.
Yet another shameful “no-statement”. They say: “We have 4 kids each, so we trusted in Hans in 2020, then nothing happened in between 2020-2022, yet we banned him in 2022 just because Magnus withdrew!” This is a shame.
I am sure chess.com is going to close magnus’s account for receiving outside help from david howell in a prize game.
It is not a 1\1000 probability, magnus was caught in tape doing it. We should ban all cheaters for life. No excuse.
your silloquey’s are getting old. study endgames, and zwischenzug instead.
my neighbor had a horse to plow his fields. one day he came out and found his horse dead. he was really pissed off. he started beating this dead horse, and kept beating this dead horse with no result. then he started beating his head against the wall all he got was a headache. yawn dudes find something else to do. study endgames and in between moves.
As Finegold put it, there are no consequences for cheating on chess.com. You apologize and they let you come back to cheat again and again.
What a mess.. -.-
To this observer it appears the Chess.com blues bros are sitting at a poker table with $84,000,000 in the pot and their hand contains only a pair of dunces.
Though I have stayed at arms length from this latest scandal, I should point out that the chess community, Judge or layman alike, has never been able to treat the subject of cheating seriously and with the professionalism that it deserves. In sports there are plenty of ways of ‘proving’ cheating vis a vis drugs and boosters. In chess, our chess players and politicians rush in and tamper with the evidence. FIDE has a well known history of turning every cheating accusation into a public relations scandal. No one (world championship level) is ever ‘proven’ to be cheating, and the community feels that ‘paranoia’ and Fischer-like craziness is an adequate explanation.
This time however, Carlsen’s opponent will likely see his career cut short. He has admitted to cheating. In the court of public opinion (non-chess community) Carlsen’s behavior has been vindicated.
Have a nice weekend!
I appreciate Kevin allowing me to publish his thoughts.
The following short video needs no explanation as the author is one of the most famous streamers in the world. He is also a Grandmaster, who at one time was called the world’s strongest International Master. In addition, he currently resides in the Great State of Georgia, only a short drive north from outside the city of Atlanta, in Roswell, the ninth largest city in the state.
I concur with most of what GM Ben Finegold says in the video:
Matthew Southall 3 days ago This is why I love you Ben: you’re not afraid to express an unpopular opinion. And you backed up your view pretty well.
ExtraCheeseProject 3 days ago When friends asked me why I stopped playing over the board the answer is because I never played in a FIDE-rated tournament that had any anti-cheating measures in place. I have no idea why Finegold’s opinion is unpopular and it actually feels like it’s the most obvious way to handle things. Eventually cheating will define the game of chess if people keep treating like the elephant in the room; it needs to be in the limelight because if more isn’t done to prevent cheating it could literally destroy this game.
Many people have asked why I do not annotate games. The answer is usually that there are many websites where games are annotated by Chess programs that are vastly superior to Grandmasters, so how can I compete? Granted, over half a century in Chess gives me a modicum of credence, but still… I usually dig out the dirt on the opening and leave the heavy lifting to the programs, but someone special asked me to share my thoughts, and it turned out to be the impetus needed to annotate a game for the blog. In addition, this was a relatively easy game to annotate because it features some of the same kind of mistakes I have made, and it is not every day a class player defeats a GM. And no, I do not know Tyrell Harriott. The Drueke travel set was brought out and a pen and paper were used, just like in the old “BC” daze. BTW, that’s “Before Computer.” It was a labor of love, as I enjoyed the game immensely, and hope you do, too.
Tyrell Harriott (1920) vs GM Benjamin Finegold (2446)
d4 Nf6 2. e3 (The two most often played moves are 2 c4, with 351454 examples in the ChessBaseDataBase, and 2 Nf3, with 121652 games. There are only 310 examples of the move played in the game, and it has not scored well, with White scoring only 36%. This is an excellent example of a vastly superior, rating wise, getting out of the book ASAP) 2…g6 (This move has been the most often played move at the ‘Big Database’ at 365Chess, with 1461 games, twice as many as the next most often played moves of 2…e6 and 2…d5. It is a different story over at the CBDB. Titled players have preferred 2…c5 in 340 games, scoring 47%, and 2…d5, scoring 48% in 271 games. The game move is third, and in 144 games it has held White to only 31%. Komodo 12 @depth 33 will play 2…d5; Stockfish 14.110 will play 2..b6. The CBDB contains only 18 examples of 2…b6, and it has only scored 25%) 3. f4 (At depth 35 Stockfish 14 will play 3 c4. In 14 games it has only scored 14%. At depth 44 it changes to 3 Nf3. Stockfish 290721 @depth 41 also plays 3 Nf3, by far the most often played move with 755 examples in the CBDB, though it has only scored 45%. The second most popular move has bee 3 Bd3, though it has only been seen in 39 games) 3…Bg7 (This has been the most often played move at both databases, but is it the best move? Stockfish 14 @depth 32 will play 3…c5, but SF 14.1 @depth 40, and SF 130122 @depth 47 both prefer 3…d5. There are 5 examples of 3…d5 and it has scored only 10%) 4. Nf3 (Fritz 15 @depth 41 will play the most often played move, 4 Nf3, but Houdini and SF 130122 @depth 49 both play 4 c4, a move not found at the CBDB) 4…0-0 (SF 14.1 @depth 34 plays 4…c5. SF 130112 @depth 47 plays the most often played move 4…d5) 5. Bd3 (The CBDB contains 23 games in which this move has been played and it has scored only 33%. SF 130112 @depth 46 plays 5 c4. There are only 6 games with the move at the CBDB. It seemed obvious that Big Ben played his Bishop to d3 in order to support the pawn moving to e4 on the next move) 5…d6 (The CBDB shows 63 games with 5…d5 and it has scored 46%. 5…d6 has been seen in 26 games, scoring 35%. The choice of Stockfish, 5…c5, has been utilized 15 times, scoring only 27%) 6. O-O (Well, you know, Big Ben is a GM and I am not, but still, I would have moved the d pawn one square. The second most often played move, scoring 35% in 24 games. The most often played move has been 6 Be2. I kid you not…In 40 games it has scored all of 31%. Stockfish 11 and Houdini at lower depths both play 6 e4, a move not contained in the CBDB) 6…c5 7. c3 (I must stop here because the CBDB contains the computing of only two old Fritz programs and one of Houdini, all at lower depths. I can tell you that after 8 Bc2 the move 8…Bf5 is not found at 365Chess, [https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=16&n=108623&ms=d4.Nf6.e3.g6.f4.Bg7.Nf3.O-O.Bd3.d6.O-O.c5.c3.Nc6.Bc2&ns=184.108.40.2064.2267.4196.2666.4197.8168.1346.1268.1347.1504.104501.108623] or at the CBDB. In addition, I am qualified to inform you that the move played by the Grandmaster, 8 Bc2, is weak, because it violates the rule of moving the same piece twice in the opening before completing development. This is one of the rules most often broken by players new to the game. I realize Ben is a GM, and GM, as a rule, make their own rules. Yet the title of a player matters not if he plays a bad move because no matter what title precedes a players name, a bad move is still a bad move, and 8 Bc2 stinks…) 8…Bf5 (8…cxd4 looks natural) 9. Nbd2 (I would take the prelate with 9 Bxf5) 9…Bxc2 10. Qxc2 Rc8 11. f5 (This has gotta be premature, but I will give Mr. Harriott credit for coming after the GM!) 9…b5 (Well, you know, the thing is that if I were going over the game with a student I would have to ask, “What piece has yet to be developed? 9…Qb6 looks natural, does it not?”) 12. fxg6 hxg6 13. Ne4 b4 14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. Qf2 (15 d5 looks interesting) 15…bxc3 16. bxc3 Qa5 17. Bd2 Qa6 18. Kh1 (I would be forced to excoriate a poor student unmercifully for this “nothing” move. This is the kind of move made when one has no idea what to do. Granted, the GM has an advantage. Still, 18 Qg3 is possible, as is 18 h4, but I am uncertain about playing the latter move, which although thematic, still weakens the Kingside pawn structure, but still may be best because White has a preponderance of material on the Kingside, so should give strong consideration to playing on that side of the board. How bad is the King move? I would venture it was so weak that Black now has a won game) 18…Rb8 (The legendary man from the High Planes, the only man to have been both Georgia Chess Champion and Georgia Senior Chess Champion, David Vest, was very fond of saying, “Chess is a battle for squares.” The GM’s last move garnered many squares) 19. e4 cxd4 (I would have to give this move a question mark. 19…Rb2 is STRONG!) 20. cxd4 Rb2 21. Qe3 Rxa2 22. Rae1 (Take a look at this position:
Although Black has won a pawn, his pieces languish on the Queenside while the White army is mustered on the Kingside, where the Black King resides. Black must be extremely careful in this position or else he will be overrun on the Kingside) 22…Qa3 (After reading the above you must certainly understand the motivation behind this move) 23. Bc3 (The IM of GM strength, Boris Kogan, about whom this writer has written so much, was fond of saying, “Chess is a simple game. You attack, he defend. He attack, you better defend!” Boris would have played 23 Rc1) 23…Rc2 24. Rc1 (WOW! Now the Bishop is REALLY pinned! It would probably have been better for White to simply drop the Bishop back to a1) 24…Rxc1 (Not my move…I would play 24…Nb4! The move played actually helps White…) 25. Rxc1 Rc8 26. Ra1 (26 Bd2 and the Knight is pinned, and if you have yet to hear, “Pin to WIN,” you will eventually hear it, if you stay with the Royal game) 26…Qb3 27. Nd2? (What happened to the preponderance of material on the Kingside? 27 Bd2 has got to be better. Black is winning here) 27…Qc2 (Here’s the deal…if Black simply brings the Queen back to b6 he will exert much pressure on the d-pawn) 28. Rf1 (f3 looks like a fine square for the Knight, does it not?) 28…Nd8 (Frankly, I was shocked by this retrograde move. How about 28…Ne5?!!) 29. Ba1 a5 30. e5? (This is not a good move. Remember what I said about a “preponderance of material” on the Kingside earlier? That should be an indication to play on the Kingside. Now would be the time to launch an attack on the Black King with 30 h5! I will be like the famous Cajun cook, Justin Wilson, who was fond of saying, “I will guaRONtee it!”)
30…dxe5 31. dxe5 Bg7 (Well, there goes White’s pawn structure. Now he has a weak, isolated pawn in the middle of the board and a lost game, positionally speaking) 32. Ne4 Qc4 33. Qf3 Qe6 (Why not 33…Nc6 to attack that aforementioned weak, isolated pawn on e5?) 34. Qg3 Rc4 35. Qd3 (Defending AND attacking. You gotta love it!) 35…Qc8 36. Bb2 Ne6 37. h3? (At the beginning of each and every game the pawns on f2 and f7 are weak because they are protected by only the King. A Chess teacher will hammer this point home as long as it takes so his student will not be mated on f7, or f2. White should play his Queen to f3 now to attack that vulnerable f7 pawn) 37…Qc6 (After this White is toast…) 38. Re1 Rc2? (This has got to be a mistake because every Russian cab driver knows that “Passed pawns must be pushed.” This move is bad because it allows White to play his next move, breaking the coordination between the Queen and Rook) 39. Bc3 (White is still lost, but not as ‘lost’ as he was earlier…) 39…Rxg2?? (I have no idea what the time was but I do have an idea about how bad was this move. GM Yasser Seriwan would call it a “howler.”
Playing a move like this, turning an obviously won game into a complete disaster has got to be devastating to the psyche of any Chess player. I mean, to turn a completely won game into a devastating loss by playing a move like this can potentially drive a player insane. What could GM Finegold have been thinking?) 40. Qf3 Ng5 41. Nf6+ (Is that a beautiful move, or what? How would you like to have a chance to play a move like that against a Grandmaster, even an aged, over the hill, Grandmaster?!) 41…Qxf6 42. Qa8+ 1-0
A remarkable thing happened in St. Louis the past couple of weeks during the playing of the 2022 Spring Classic at the St. Louis Chess Club.
There were two different Chess tournaments, the “A” and the “B”. In the top section there were twenty three (23) decisive games played out of the forty five (45) total games contested, which is over 50%. There were even more decisive games, twenty eight (28) in the “B” tournament! That means 62% of the games ended in a victory for one player! This is unheard of in todaze Chess world what with the plethora of drawn games dominating play. The “A” section saw white score twelve (12) wins, with the general of the black army winning eleven (11) games! In round three there were three (3) black wins to go with two draws. Round five (5) saw three (3) black wins with only one (1) win for the player of the white pieces. In the “second section” there were nineteen (19) victories scored by players of the white pieces, with nine (9) games won by the player in command of the black pieces. These two tournaments were truly “fighting” tournaments. This should not be Big News but is because of the unbelievably large number of drawn games in most tournaments these daze, such as tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Club, where players go to draw. There is a reason for the great disparity between the two Chess havens. Simply put, if a player comes to St. Louis with a case of “shakeitus” he is not again invited. In Charlotte they “Follow the rules.” In St. Louis they make their own rules, which happen to engender fighting Chess. If a player comes to St. Louis with his hand extended, ready to accept a draw at any time, that player deservedly suffers opprobrium from the community.
The time spent watching the games from St. Louis was time well spent. What with the Russian monster killing machine laying waste to Ukraine time was needed for escapism, and nothing is a better escape outlet than the Royal Game, especially when the players come to the board with their knives unsheathed.
The first featured game involves one of my favorite players, GM Titas Stremavicius.
He must be the only Grandmaster who plays with the f-pawn, both f-pawns. Certainly Titas is the leading exponent of the Bird’s opening (1 f4), and after 1 d4 Sid Vicious, as I think of him, plays 1…f5 with regularity. Sid is an imaginative and interesting player who usually plays to win. Until this tournament Sid, given the chance, usually played the Leningrad Dutch. For some reason Titas decided to play differently in his round six game with GM Robert Hungaski.
After, 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2, Stremavicius played the move 3…e6?! in lieu of 3…d6. Why, Sid, why? Sid tripped and fell all over his blade. Sid must have “booked up” on 3…e6 in order to surprise his opponents in this tournament because he played the same move against GM Elshan Moradiabadi
in round eight. Unfortunately, the vicious one was the player surprised. Sid came out of the opening with a decent position, but in the transition to the middle game Sid Vicious first put one foot in it before putting the other foot in it before falling face first into the slime pit. Those two losses with black were sandwiched between a loss with white to GM Arman Mikaelyan,
making it three losses in a row heading into the last round. Keep this in mind as you read on…
The following game was contested in the last round. GM Christopher Repka
started the tournament with four (4) straight wins, and after a couple of draws defeated Christopher Woojin Woo
won four (4) games in a row after a second round loss with black versus GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi.
After a draw in the antepenultimate round with GM Elshan Moradiabadi the two players, Mishra and Repka, were tied for first place and were to meet in the penultimate round. It was the game of the event as Mishra, in charge of the black army, handed Repka his first loss. In the last round Stremavicius, who had lost three games in a row, had white versus Repka, who now desperately needed a win…
Titas Stremavicius (2520) vs Christopher Repka (2508) Saint Louis Spring Classic “B” A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack
Stockfish 14 @depth 47 will take the Knight with 4…Bc3. The only other game with the same move order follows, which makes 5 g3 a Theoretical Novelty. There were several turning points and I suggest you surf on over to Lichess.com (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-spring-chess-classic/round-9/TYTT0kRI) and reply the game. The following position captured my attention:
I was expecting 17…Qg4 because there is no way I would trade Queens when my opponent had an ‘open air’ King!
9…b6 was a weak move for many reasons, foremost in that it blocked the Queen. 9…Qb6 was best. Mishra hald an advantage even after playing the weak 11 a3. At Lichess the move is given as 11 a3?!, with “Inaccuracy. Ne1 was best.” Then a few moves later Mishra played 13 Ne1? “Mistake. a4 was best.” after that move the game was even…until Yoo took the pawn with 14…gxf4. Stockfish preferred 14…g4. (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-spring-chess-classic/round-9/TYTT0kRI) The game was lost after Yoo played 17…f6? What would Ben Finegold say?
In the top section, “A”, GM Samuel Sevian and GM Illya Nyzhnyk tied for first place with each scoring six (6) points. Unfortunately, they were forced to play some kind of quick game that is inherently unfair to decide which player “won” the tournament. It is sad, really, when one thinks about it… Show the players some RESPECT!
GM Ray Robson (2676)
vs GM Illya Nyzhnyk
Saint Louis Spring Classic “A” C43 Petrov, modern attack, Symmetrical variation
After hearing a rumor about the demise of the new ACC it was time to check with the man known as “The Sheriff,” aka Scott Parker, President of the Georgia Chess Association. Mr. Parker does not care for the appellation but a more fitting sobriquet does not exist. It was hung on Scott by the Legendary Georgia Ironman. When queried about the name Tim said, “Scott walks around the House (of Pain) ramrod straight, like Gary Cooper in High Noon.”
Michael, Sat, Nov 13 at 3:31 PM
Sad but true.The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta will be shutting it’s doors on Nov. 24. Participation has not recovered enough from the pandemic for them to make a go of it. They’re in a nice space in a nice area of town, but the $3800/month rent is killing them. They are losing too much money, and the job is taking too much of Karen’s time. She’s really unhappy about having to do this, but she feels there is no choice.
My term of office ends on Dec. 12 at the conclusion of the annual GCA Membership Meeting. After that I will be tying up some odds and ends like the financials of the State Championship tournament and trying to smooth the transition to Parnell Watkins’ Presidency, but essentially I will be done at that time. It’s time for me to move on from the GCA, and it’s time for the GCA to move on from me.
Be well, Scott
After replying the following was received:
Michael, Sat, Nov 13 at 6:46 PM
The 2022 GA Senior Championship is in limbo now. That event was to have been held in January along with the GA Women’s Championship at Ben and Karen’s place, but obviously that isn’t going to happen. Where and when it will be held will be up to the next GCA Board.
I doubt that I will be playing in any more tournaments, senior or otherwise. The prospect just doesn’t interest me anymore. I’d play some casual blitz, but that’s probably the extent of it. As I said, time to move on.
Be well, Scott
A case can be made that Scott Parker was, historically speaking, the best President of the Georgia Chess Association. Then there is Chess Hall of Famer Thad Rogers, who single-handedly kept the sinking boat of the GCA afloat after Earle Morrison bankrupted the organization. For what it’s worth, Mr. Parker said he thought Ted Weiber was the best POTGCA.
e4 (365Chess designates this the “B00 King’s pawn opening”) 1…e6 (This move signifies the opening has become the “C00 French defence) 2. d4 d5 3. e5 (After this move it becomes the “C02 French, advance variation”) 3…c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 (Now it is the “C02 French, advance, Paulsen attack”) 5…Qb6 6. Bd3 (And now we have the “C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit” [https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=12&n=712&ms=e4.e6.d4.d5.e5.c5.c3.Nc6.Nf3.Qb6.Bd3&ns=220.127.116.11.453.525.454.526.711.742.712] or do we?)
Already an adult when playing in my first USCF rated tournament, I was a bad, but persistently tenacious, player. It was my good fortune to have had International Master Branko Vujakovic travel to Atlanta from Yugoslavia to attend college. My first out of state Chess tournament, in New Orleans, Louisiana, was with Branko. It was in that tournament I used a version of the Milner-Barry taught by Branko against an Expert only a few rating points below National Master, Glenn Ruiz in the very first round. That game featured 4 Nf3 in lieu of 4 c3 in the main line. I recall being on move when one of the local players walked by our board and stopped dead in his tracks. “Would you look at that..” my opponent lamented about his broken and battered position while shaking his head.
We also drove to the Church’s Fried Chicken Chess Tournament in San Antonio, Texas, in 1972, where I met Bobby Fischer after his recent victory over Boris Spassky to win the title of World Chess Champion.
One of the things recalled about the trip was that the night before the first round we were soundly sleeping when there was a knock on the door. After opening the door there stood two women, one of whom asked, “Would you like a date?” I modestly replied, “No ma’am, but thank you anyway.” After closing the door Branko asked, “Who was that?” After telling him what had transpired he asked, “Does that happen often?” Now here’s a guy who has been around the world and he is asking a young dude for whom a road trip to Savannah, Georgia, had been one of the highlights of his life a question like that…”How should I know?” was the answer.
Branko showed me the opening moves of what he called the “Milner-Barry Gambit,” which were, 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. O-O. According to 365Chess.com the fourth move makes the variation the “C02 French, advance, Nimzovich system” (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=12&n=4274&ms=e4.e6.d4.d5.e5.c5.Nf3.Nc6.Bd3.cxd4.O-O&ns=18.104.22.168.453.525.1942.2541.4273.4841.4274). We called it the “Milner-Barry Gambit.” If you go to the page at 365Chess you will find the opening having been played by World Chess Championship contender Nigel Short and fellow British countryman GM Julian Hodgson, along with GM Artur Kogan. The idea is simple enough with white sacrificing a pawn for development in order to attack on the Kingside.
In the second round of the recently completed US Women’s Chess Championship the eventual winner, Carissa Yip
faced the French defense played by former US Women’s Chess Champ Tatev Abrahamyan:
e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 (StockFish 13, going way deep to depth 82 proclaims 3 Nc3 best) 3…c5 4. c3 (According the Chess24.com this is the only move with which White can show an advantage. The Stockfish program at ChessBomb.com shows the game equal. SF 030721 at the ChessBaseDataBase, @depth 57, shows White with a miniscule advantage) 4…Nc6 (SF 130721 @depth 57 plays this move but SF 13 @depth 69 would play 4…Qb6) 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Bd3? (SF, along with everyone else, plays 6 a3, and so should you. Why would the new Women’s Champ play an inferior move? This game may have had something to do with why she played the move:
Back to the game: 6…cxd4 7. O-O (7 cxd4 is best according the Fritz 15, 16, and 17, for what it’s worth. Unfortunately, there is no word from the best program, or any other, better, program. All we have to go on is the human mind of Magnus Carlsen and the fact that in the 38 games contained by the CBDB White has scored an astounding 66%, while the move 7 cxd4 has scored only 42% in 203 games. Back in the day the move played by a World Champ would have been enough. I miss those daze…) 7…Bd7 8. Re1 (Ms. Yip varies from the World Champ. The most popular move has been 8 cxd4, with 308 games in the CBDB, and it is the choice of Houdini, and the overwhelming choice of most human players even though it has only scored 43%! I kid you not…The move played in the game has only been attempted 40 times, scoring 64%. It is also the choice of SF 11 @depth 47. But SF 14 @depth 48 would play what is invariably almost no doubt the best move on the board whenever it is played, 8 Qe2!!! According to the CBDB the move 8 Qe2 has only been attempted TWICE. That will most certainly change after this post is read by Chess players all over the world looking for any kind of advantage. Pardon me, I sometimes get carried away when Qe2 is played, in case you have not noticed…Where we’re we? Oh yeah, my new hero, who has played THREE games using 8 Qe2, my Man, Adrian Flitney:
I checked, learning Mr. Flitney is an Australian male who was born in 1961 and played a total of 134 games between 1981 and 2009 (https://www.365chess.com/players/Adrian_Flitney). For some reason Adrian faced an inordinate number of French defenses and, to be kind, did not score all that well. Nevertheless, I will replay each and every game because one can usually learn more from a loss than a win.)
Again, where were we? Oh yeah, Ms. Yip has just played 8 Re1 in lieu of the 8.Nbd2 played in a blitz game. This was answered with 8…Nge7 9 h4 a6 (Although SF 13 @depth 50 would play the move played in the game, SF 14 @depth 54 goes with 9…Rc8, as in the following game:
10. h5 (SF plays 10 Nbd2) 10…h6 (SF prefers 10…g6, putting the question to White. It will be a TN if and when played by a human. 365Chess shows no games with 10…h6, but the CBDB has 4 games with the move) 11. Qe2 (The StockFish programs at Chess24 and the CBDB show 11 Nbd2 as best. The weaker SF program at the ChessBomb shows the move played in the game.) 11…f5? (StockFish shows 11…dxc3 as best. 11…f5? is a RED MOVE at ChessBomb. In computer numerical terms Black has just tossed a pawn. If you do not understand why please STOP! Go set up a real 3D set and pieces and look at the position as long as it takes for you to acquire understanding of the position, grasshopper, then return to the AW for, hopefully, more understanding) 12. exf6? (Because of being taught this particular opening a half century ago I had a modicum of understanding of the rudiments of this position. This weekend I was assisting a Chess Coach because his antiquated laptop needs to have “cool down” time. When this happens the AW takes control of the group. The Coach said nothing after 11…f5 so I stayed silent, but after he made the move 12 exf6 on the board and erupted effusively with, “I love this move! It just rips black apart! What do you think of the move, Mike?” Rock…Hard Place…I actually thought of a song, which will probably not surprise regular readers, even if it did surprise me:
For readers who do not know much about the Royal Game, in Chess there is one thing that is paramount: The Truth. For this reason I was compelled to either feign a heart attack or answer truthfully. Although only taking a few seconds to answer it seemed like HOURS had elapsed before I stated, “Pawn takes pawn en passant is an awful move, Coach.”
Silence followed before the Coach gathered himself enough to inquire, “Why would you say that, Mike?” The answer came immediately. “Because the White e-pawn is a bastion in the center of the board, Coach. When it goes Black will be left with three pawns in the center of the board that will be like Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Eugene “Mercury ” Morris, the three running backs for the only undefeated NFL team in history, rolling forward over any and every thing in their path.”
The Coach was stunned speechless. Therefore I added, “If you go back to the position after 11 Qe2 was played you will see that 11…f5 was also a bad move. Black should have played 11…dxc3.”
The Coach finally responded with, “Well Mike, we don’t have much time and I’m only trying to give the students an overview of the game and not so much detail.”
The kids are LOVING THIS!
“But now I gotta know so I’ll go over to the Bomb and check it out.”
BTW, in lieu of 12 exf6 StockFish would play 12 Na3. Just sayin’…
12…gxf6 13. cxd4 (Komodo plays 13 Nxd4 while the Fish plays 13 Qd1) 13…Nxd4 14. Nxd4 Qxd4
15. Be3 (Truth be told I did not question this move and we discussed what a natural move was this, as it attacks the Queen thereby “developing with tempo,” which is a good thing in Chess, especially if one is behind in development. As luck would have it the next night I was again called upon and was showing the game to another group when the Coach returned just in time to hear me say this was a bad move. “What?” the Coach erupted. Then he gives the students all the reasons enumerated above before saying to me, “Why would you say that, Mike?!”
“Oh no, Mister Bill,” I’m thinking. It was kinda like being called on in class when the teacher knows you’ve been sitting there zoning out while dreaming about that last bell so you could get home and to the Boys Club ASAP… Nevertheless enough gumption was mustered to say, “I spent some time reviewing the game for a possible blog post and checked with all the usual websites and was just as shocked as you to learn that although StockFish 8 played the move, SF 14 finds 15 Nc3 superior.”
Silence. Then, “Well, 15…Qe5 looks like a good move. What do you think, Mike?” I actually thought about having a power failure, but decided to inform the coach that the Fish proclaimed 15…Qh4 best. The coach moved the Queen to e5 before saying, “Well, it looks like Nc3 is out of the question because of the pawn fork, and Nd2 drops the b-pawn, but it looks like White gets counter play by moving the Rook to b1, so how about 16 Na3?” I knew one of the programs (Houdini) would have played Nd2 but kept quiet, but when the Coach asked, “What do you think, Mike?” I was again on the spot, so I said, “f4.” Yip played 16 Nd2)
15…Qe5 16. Nd2 Rg8 17. f4 Qd6 18. Qf2 Rc8 19. Rad1 (19 Nf3 SF) 19…Bc6 (The Coach liked this move, using arrows to show the Bishop and Rook firing on g2. Unfortunately he again asked me to weigh in, so I had not choice but to point out how bad was the move, a move from which Tatev never recovered. “Well, what the hell should the woman have played, Mike?!” I answered “f5.” The coach continued moving the pieces until reaching the position after 20. Bh7 Rg7, asking the students to find a good move for White. By this point the poor things were afraid to utter a sound, so the Coach showed the next move: 21. Ne4 explaining what a good move was this and explaining why, before saying, “We’re running out of time so I’m just gonna run through the rest of the moves before ending the session.”