NM Steven Cookley vs IM Victor Matviishen: US Open Round 7 Bishop’s Opening

Steven T Cookley (2216) vs IM Victor Matviishen (2575)
US Open 2021
Rd 7
C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. Nc3 O-O 5. Bg5 d6 6 Qf3 c6 7 Bxf6 Qxf6 8 Qxf6 gxf6 9 Nge2 a5 10 a3 b5 11 Ba2 Be6 12 Ng3 Nd7 13.Nce2 b4 14.a4 Rab8 15.Bc4 Bxc4 16.dxc4 b3 17.c3 Nb6 18.Nh5 Rfd8 19.Neg3 Nxc4 20.O-O-O d5 21.Nf5 Kh8 22.Nxf6 Nd6 23.Ng4 Nxf5 24.Nxe5 Ne7 25.Nxf7+ Kg7 26.Nxd8 Rxd8 27.Rd2 Rf8 28.exd5 cxd5 29.Kd1 Rf4 30.Re1 Rxa4 31.Re6 Ra1+ 32.Ke2 a4 33.Ra6 a3 34.bxa3 Ra2 35.Ra5 b2 36.Rb5 Bxa3 37.f4 Nf5 38.Kd3 Nd6 39.Rdxb2 Rxb2 40.Rxb2 Bxb2 41.Kd4 Nf5+ 42.Kd3 h5 0-1

1.e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 (SF play 3…c6) 4. Nc3 (SF & Komodo play 4 Nf3) 4…O-O (The Fish & the Dragon both prefer 4…c6) 5. Bg5 (SF plays 5 Nf3) 5…d6 (SF & Houdini play 5…h6) 6. Qf3 (When faced with the position after 5…d6 during a simul in 1928, the newly crowned World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine, calmly retreated his Bishop to the b3 square versus a player named Castella. The game can be found below. Stockfish and Komodo both play 6 Nd5, a move not found at the ChessBaseDataBase, but it can be found in the “Big Database” (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=11&n=145265&ms=e4.e5.Bc4.Nf6.d3.Bc5.Nc3.O-O.Bg5.d6&ns= which contains games played by players of all levels. The CBDB contains mostly games played by titled and/or higher rater players. For what it’s worth, Fritz 17 @depth 27 would play 6 Qf3) 6…c6 7 Bxf6 Qxf6 8 Qxf6 gxf6 9 Nge2 a5 (9…b5 was played in the game Arnaudov vs Enchev below) 10 a3 (10. g4 was played in the game, Genzling vs Bjornsson, below)

All of the games below, excepting the Alekhine game, were located at the ChessBaseDataBase (https://database.chessbase.com/).

Luc Zimmermann 2146 NED vs GM Erik Van den Doel NED 2568
Amsterdam Science Park op-A

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 O-O 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qf3 d6 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.h3 h6 9.Bd2 a5 10.a4 Nb6 11.Ba2 Be6 12.Be3 Bxe3 13.fxe3 Bxa2 14.Rxa2 d5 15.O-O dxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Qxe4 Nd5 18.d4 Qg5 19.Ra3 Rae8 20.Rf5 exd4 21.Qf3 Qe7 22.Nxd4 Nxe3 23.Rf4 Nd5 24.Rg4 f5 25.Rg6 Qe1+ 26.Qf1 Nf4 27.Rd6 Qe5 28.Rd7 Rf7 29.Qc4 Nd5 30.Rxf7 Kxf7 31.Rf3 g6 32.c3 Kg7 33.Qc5 Nf6 34.Qb6 Re7 35.Nb3 Qd5 36.Nxa5 Re1+ 37.Rf1 Rxf1+ 38.Kxf1 Qd1+ 39.Kf2 Ne4+ 0-1

Petar Arnaudov 2002 BUL vs GM Ivajlo Enchev 2447 BUL
Albena Vivacom op

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 c6 5.Qf3 O-O 6.Bg5 d6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Qxf6 gxf6 9.Nge2 b5 10.Nxb5 d5 11.Bb3 a5 12.Nbc3 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Be7 14.g4 a4 15.Bc4 Kh8 16.h3 f5 17.gxf5 Bxf5 18.O-O-O Nd7 19.N4g3 Bg6 20.h4 h6 21.f4 exf4 22.Nxf4 Bh7 23.d4 Rg8 24.Nge2 Rg4 25.Rdg1 Rxh4 26.Bxf7 Rxh1 27.Rxh1 Bg5 28.Kd1 Be4 29.Rg1 Nf6 30.Ne6 Be3 31.Rg3 Bf2 32.Rh3 Ng4 33.Kd2 Bg2 34.Rc3 Nf6 35.Nc5 Rf8 36.Be6 Re8 37.Rd3 Ne4+ 38.Nxe4 Bxe4 39.Bf7 Rf8 40.Bh5 Bxd3 41.Kxd3 Rb8 42.b3 a3 43.Bf3 c5 44.d5 Re8 45.Be4 h5 46.Nf4 h4 47.Nh3 Bg3 48.Ng5 Kg7 49.Ne6+ Kf6 50.Bg2 Bd6 51.Kc4 Rg8 0 – 1

IM Alain Genzling 2264 FRA vs Sverrir O Bjornsson 2116 ISL
Reykjavik op 23rd

1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qf3 d6 7.h3 Be6 8.Bb3 Nbd7 9.Nge2 a5 10.g4 b5 11.a4 Bxb3 12.cxb3 bxa4 13.bxa4 Rb8 14.Rb1 Qe7 15.O-O Rb7 16.Ng3 Rfb8 17.Nf5 Qe6 18.Ne2 Rxb2 19.Rxb2 Rxb2 20.Neg3 d5 21.Be3 d4 22.Bc1 Rb3 23.Qd1 Bf8 24.Qd2 Nc5 25.Qxa5 Nxd3 26.Bg5 Rb8 27.Qa7 Rc8 28.Bxf6 Qxf6 29.Qa6 Rd8 30.Qxd3 g6 31.Rb1 c5 32.a5 gxf5 33.exf5 Qc6 34.Rb6 Qa4 35.Qd2 h6 36.Rxh6 Bxh6 37.Qxh6 f6 38.Nh5 Rd7 39.Nxf6+ Kf7 40.Nxd7 Qxd7 41.Qh7+ Ke8 42.Qxd7+ 1 – 0

IM Rasmus Skytte 2386 DEN vs Sixten Thestrup 1930 Den
Copenhagen Challenge

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Bg5 d6 6.Qf3 c6 7.Nge2 b5 8.Bb3 Nbd7 9.Ng3 h6 10.h4 Nb6 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.Qxf5 Qd7 13.Qxd7 Nbxd7 14.Bd2 Bd4 15.Nd1 a5 16.c3 Bb6 17.Ne3 g6 18.f3 a4 19.Bc2 a3 20.b3 d5 21.Nf1 Kg7 22.g4 h5 23.g5 Ne8 24.b4 Nd6 25.Bb3 d4 26.Rc1 Rac8 27.Ke2 c5 28.cxd4 c4 29.dxc4 Nxc4 30.Bxc4 bxc4 31.Ne3 exd4 32.Nxc4 1-0

Toni Preziuso 2306 SUI vs Boris Lenz SUI
SUI-ch22 Gr01 email

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 O-O 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qf3 d6 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Ng3 a5 9.a3 h6 10.h4 Nb6 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.Qxf5 Qd7 13.Bxf6 Qxf5 14.exf5 gxf6 15.Ne4 Nd7 16.Ba2 d5 17.Ng3 Rfb8 18.O-O b5 19.Rfd1 Kf8 20.Ne2 b4 21.a4 Ke7 22.g3 Bb6 23.Kg2 Nc5 24.Bb3 Rg8 25.Re1 Kd7 26.f3 h5 27.Ba2 Rg7 28.Bb1 Re8 29.c3 Nb7 30.Rh1 Nd6 31.cxb4 axb4 32.a5 Ra8 33.d4 Bxd4 34.Nxd4 exd4 35.b3 c5 36.a6 Kc6 37.Rc1 Kb5 38.a7 Rgg8 39.Rc2 c4 40.Rca2 Kc5 41.Kf2 d3 42.Ra6 Rge8 43.R1a2 Re7 44.g4 hxg4 45.h5 gxf3 46.Kxf3 Ne4 0-1

Alexander Alekhine


vs Castella
Event: Barcelona simul
Site: Barcelona Date: 1928

ECO: C26 Vienna game
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Bg5 d6 6.Bb3 c6 7.Nf3 Be6 8.O-O Nbd7 9.d4 exd4 10.Nxd4 Qe7 11.Re1 Bxb3 12.axb3 Qe5 13.Nf3 Qe6 14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Nd4 Qe8 16.f3 Nf8 17.Nf5 Qd7 18.Bxc5 dxc5 19.Qe2 Qd2 20.Nd5 Qxe2 21.Nxf6+ gxf6 22.Rxe2 Ne6 23.c3 Nf4 24.Rc2 a6 25.g3 Ng6 26.f4 Rd7 27.Kf2 Rad8 28.Ke2 Rd3 29.Ra5 Nxf4+ 30.gxf4 Rh3 31.Kf1 Rf3+ 32.Rf2 Rxf2+ 33.Kxf2 Rd2+ 34.Ke3 Rxh2 35.Rxc5 Rxb2 36.b4 Rh2 37.e5 fxe5 38.Rxe5 h5 39.Re7 b6 40.Ra7 Rh3+ 41.Kd4 c5+ 42.bxc5 bxc5+ 43.Ke5 Rxc3 44.Kf6 Rf3 45.Nh6+ Kh7 46.Kg5 c4 47.Rxf7+ Kh8 48.Rc7 c3 49.Nf7+ 1-0

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 (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-grand-chess-tour-romania/02-Giri_Anish-Radjabov_Teimour)

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: chess24.com 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 | NastyZ28.com

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