The Most Amazing Chess Game of All Time!

During research for the previous post a strange game of brevity was found that required no board to play out the game but a board was needed to make sure you could believe what you saw, or at least what you thought you visualized:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O e5 6.d3 Nge7 7.Nc3 O-O 8.Qd2 d6 9.Qd1 Be6 10.Bf4 0-1

This is the notation for the game between:
Ahmad, Abdul Khaliq (2217) vs Fedorov, Alexei (2555)
Event: 4th Mersin Open 2019
Site: Mersin TUR Date: 11/16/2019
Round: 1.7 Score: 0-1
ECO: B30 Sicilian defence
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4230737&m=16

Abdul Khaliq Ahmad

https://ratings.fide.com/profile/4800443

is a FIDE Master from Iraq who was born in 1963, the year POTUS John Fitzgerald Kennedy was ASSASSINATED, and his current rating is 2222. (https://ratings.fide.com/profile/4800443)

Alexei Fedorov

https://ratings.fide.com/profile/13500465

is a 2541 rated Grandmaster from Belarus, who was born in 1972, the year Bobby Fischer defeated World Chess Champion Boris Spassky to become Champ.

For one who usually has too many words at this moment I still do not know what to say about the above game…I decided to do more research and, Lo & Behold! Like a BOLT from the BLUE it was, I tell you…The Most Amazin’ Chess Game of All Time! I have been replaying games for over half a century and I have never, ever seen another game quite like it, and sincerely hope I never, ever again see anything like it on the Chess board.

Ahmad, Abdul Khaliq (2217) vs Akash, G (2456)
Event: 4th Mersin Open 2019
Site: Mersin TUR Date: 11/17/2019
Round: 3.13 Score: 0-1
ECO: B50 Sicilian
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 e5 5.O-O g6 6.d3 Bg7 7.Nc3 Nge7 8.Nd2 O-O 9.Nc4 Rb8 10.a4 Nb4 11.Nb5 d5 12.exd5 a6 13.Nbd6 Nbxd5 14.Nxc8 Qxc8 15.Re1 Qc7 16.Qe2 Rfe8 17.a5 Rbd8 18.c3 Nc6 19.h4 h6 20.h5 g5 21.Qe4 Qd7 22.Ne3 Nf4 23.Rd1 Nxh5 24.Qc4 Nf4 25.Be4 Ne7 26.Ng2 Nf5 27.f3 Nxg3 28.Bd2 Qh3 29.Kf2

Black to move

29…Nxe4+ 30.dxe4 Qg3+ 31.Kg1 Qxf3 32.Rf1 Qg4 33.Bxf4 exf4 34.Rxf4 Qg3 35.Rff1 Qg4 36.Rf4 Rd5 37.Raf1 f5 38.R1f2 Re7 39.Qe2 Kh7 40.Kf1 Re6 41.Nh4 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4230775

G. Akash,

https://uncoversports.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/g-akash-becomes-indias-66th-chess-grandmaster/

a 2495 rated Grandmaster from India, born in 1996. (https://ratings.fide.com/profile/5040299)

The Milner-Barry Gambit

  1. 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=3.16.12.17.453.525.454.526.711.742.712] or do we?)
The Milner-Barry Gambit

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.

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FUPaI5rM2COs%2Fmaxresdefault.jpg&f=1&nofb=1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPaI5rM2COs

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=3.16.12.17.453.525.1942.2541.4273.4841.4274). 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

Eighteen-year-old International Master Carissa Yip was crowned U.S. Women’s Champion with a...
Eighteen-year-old International Master Carissa Yip was crowned U.S. Women’s Champion with a round to spare, finishing with an incredible 8.5/11 score. The tournament was held at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Saint Louis, Mo.

faced the French defense played by former US Women’s Chess Champ Tatev Abrahamyan:

https://chessterra.com/2021/10/16/slash-and-burn-style-interview-with-wgm-tatev-abrahamyan/
  1. 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:

Magnus Carlsen (2863) vs Pentala Harikrishna (2732)
Event: Saint Louis Blitz 2020
Site: lichess.org INT Date: 09/19/2020
Round: 15.1
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Nbd2 Rc8 9.Nb3 dxc3 10.bxc3 Qc7 11.Re1 Nge7 12.h4 Ng6 13.Qe2 Be7 14.h5 Ngxe5 15.Nxe5 Qxe5 16.Qxe5 Nxe5 17.Rxe5 Bf6 18.Re3 Rxc3 19.Rb1 d4 20.Rg3 O-O 21.Bb2 Rfc8 22.Bxc3 dxc3 23.Rd1 Bc6 24.Bc2 Kf8 25.Re3 b6 26.Nd4 Bd5 27.a4 g6 28.hxg6 hxg6 29.Nb5 Rc4 30.Nxa7 Rb4 31.Nb5 Rb2 32.Rc1 Bg5 33.Nxc3 Bxe3 34.fxe3 Bc6 35.Be4 Bd7 36.Bd3 Bc6 37.Rc2 Rb4 38.Bb5 Bxb5 39.axb5 Rc4 40.Kf2 Ke7 41.Ke2 f5 42.Kd3 Rb4 43.Ra2 Kf6 44.Ra6 Rb2 45.Rxb6 Rxg2 46.Nd5+ Ke5 47.Nf4 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4270402)

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:

Adrian Flitney (1999) vs Daniel Baider (2032)
Event: Nelson op
Site: Nelson Date: 10/05/2007
Round: 5
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Qe2 Nge7 9.Rd1 dxc3 10.Nxc3 Ng6 11.Be3 Qd8 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.g3 O-O 15.Rac1 f5 16.h4 Be8 17.Ng5 h6 18.Nxe6 Qxe6 19.Nxd5 Qxe5 20.Qd2 Kh8 21.Bc4 f4 22.Re1 Qd4 23.Qxd4 Nxd4 24.Kg2 fxg3 25.fxg3 Bc6 26.h5 Nf3 27.hxg6 Nxe1+ 28.Rxe1 Rf5 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3599055&m=18

Wait a minute…what if Adrian is a woman?

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:

Piroska Palotai (2055) vs Attila Barva (2335)
Event: HUN-ch univ
Site: Hungary Date: 2000
Round: ?
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Qb6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.c3 Bd7 7.O-O cxd4 8.Re1 Nge7 9.h4 Rc8 10.a3 (SF 14 gives 10 Nbd2 as best) 10…a6 11.Qe2 dxc3 12.Nxc3 Nd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.g3 Nc6 15.Bf4 Be7 16.Rad1 Qb6 17.Bb1 g6 18.Bh6 Nd4 19.Qg4 Qxb2 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Qxd4 Qxd4 22.Rxd4 Be6 23.a4 Rc3 24.Ba2 Bc5 25.Rd2 Rxg3+ 26.Kh2 Rg4 27.Bg5 Bb4 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=526031&m=20

Alessio Valsecchi (2432) vs Luca Moroni Jr (2321)
Event: 17th Padova Open 2014
Site: Padova ITA Date: 12/17/2014
Round: 5.11
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Re1 Nge7 9.h4 Rc8 10.h5 a6 11.Bc2 h6 12.a3 dxc3 13.Nxc3 Na5 14.Ra2 Nec6 15.Be3 Qc7 16.Bf4 Qd8 17.Bb1 Nc4 18.Bd3 b5 19.Bg3 Qb6 20.Nh4 Qd4 21.Nf3 Qg4 22.Ne2 Bc5 23.Qa1 Bb6 24.b3 N4a5 25.Qd1 O-O 26.Bb1 Ne7 27.Ned4 Rc3 28.Qd2 Rfc8 29.Rb2 Qxh5 30.Rd1 Qg4 31.b4 Bxd4 32.Qxd4 Qxd4 33.Nxd4 Nc4 34.Rb3 Nxa3 35.Bd3 Rc1 36.Rf1 R8c3 37.Bf4 Rxf1+ 38.Kxf1 Rxb3 39.Nxb3 Nc6 40.Bd2 Nxe5 41.Be2 Nec4 42.Bc3 e5 43.Nc5 Bc8 44.Bd3 d4 45.Ba1 a5 46.bxa5 Nxa5 47.f4 f6 48.fxe5 fxe5 49.Kf2 N3c4 50.Be4 Kf8 51.Nd3 Bb7 52.Bf5 Nb3 53.Bd7 Nxa1 54.Bxb5 Nd6 55.Ba4 e4 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3923226&m=20)

If you are still with me we have come to the only other game found in which 9…a6 was found:

Rauf Mamedov (2654) vs Boris Markoja (2453)
Event: Online Olympiad Top DivB 2021
Site: chess.com INT Date: 09/10/2021
Round: 7.3 Score: 1-0
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Re1 Nge7 9.h4 a6 10.h5 g6 11.h6 Ng8 12.cxd4 Nxh6 13.Nc3 Nf5 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bg5 Nfxd4 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Bf6 Rg8 18.Rc1 Nc6 19.Nc5 Qb6 20.b4 Nxb4 21.Nxd7 Kxd7 22.Qa4+ Nc6 23.Rb1 Qc7 24.Rec1 Be7 25.Bxe7 Kxe7 26.Qa3+ Ke8 27.Bb5 Qe7 28.Bxc6+ bxc6 29.Qe3 Qc7 30.Rb6 Kd7 31.Qf4 Rgf8 32.Rcb1 Ra7 33.Qh6 Ke7 34.Qc1 Kd7 35.Qf4 h5 36.a4 a5 37.R1b2 Kc8 38.Qe3 c5 39.Rb8+ Qxb8 40.Qxc5+ Qc7 41.Qxf8+ Kd7 42.Qxf7+ Kd8 43.Qf8+ Kd7 44.Rb8 Qxe5 45.Qd8+ Kc6 46.Qb6+ 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4304033&m=19

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.”

And that is exactly what I expect you to do because inquiring minds want to know (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-us-womens-chess-championship/02-Yip_Carissa-Abrahamyan_Tatev).

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

White to move

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.”

And I am thinking “Oh Happy Day”

21…Qc7 (Qd8) 22. Bb6 (Nxf6+) dxe4 23. Bxc7 Rxh7 24. Bd6 Rg7 25. Rc1 Nf5 (f5) 26. Bxf8 Kxf8 27. Rxe4 Rd8 (Ke7) 28. Rxc6 bxc6 29. Rxe6 Ng3 (Kg8) 30. Rxf6+ Ke7 31. Qc5+ (Rg6) Kxf6 32. Qe5+ Kf7 33. Qc7+ 1-0

Robert Ris’ Fast and Furious: The Improved Milner-Barry Gambit
(https://en.chessbase.com/post/robert-ris-fast-and-furious-the-improved-milner-barry-gambit)

Chess Is Weird At The Charlotte Chess Center

They are back at it in Charlotte. The first round of four different tournaments was played last night. Before I begin let me say I have no bone to pick with the good people in Charlotte. I have written about the Charlotte Chess Center because they are located in the South, the region from which I sprang over seven decades ago. I am proud there is such a wonderful place as the CCC and the same goes for the Atlanta Chess Center, home of GM Ben Finegold, who is famous all over the world. When I began playing back in the 1970s the South was not exactly a hot bed of Chess activity. When traveling to an out of state Chess tournament I met many people who told me they had never met anyone from the South who played Chess, and some who had never met any Southerner, period. Therefore when anyone causes opprobrium down South I am not pleased. Someone who refused to give permission to use his name said, “Everyone knows Charlotte is the place to go to draw. It was that way before you began to write about it, Mike. All you did was shine a light on it.” Like it or not, that is the reputation of the Charlotte Chess Center.

Mr. Grant Oen,

Grant Oen

who is the “Chief Arbiter and Organizer of the Chess tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Club and Scholastic Academy,” and is also the “Assistant Director, Charlotte Chess Center, and a National Tournament Director, International Arbiter,” has previously written, “If he is fine with several quick draws, that is acceptable for with us as long as the rules are followed.” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/reply-to-grant-oen/) A draw culture has been fostered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The rules do need to be changed. You may think me crazy especially since Chess is currently riding a cresting wave because of the popularity of the Queen’s Gambit movie, just a Chess enjoyed a boom after Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky to win the title of World Chess Champion. What follows a “boom”?

Back in the late seventies and early eighties the game of Backgammon “boomed” before going “bust”. I mean it busted like a poker player being dealt a 2-4-6-8-10! The Backgammon craze, or fad ended like a Chess game that ends with the word, “Checkmate!” One week Gammons was full of people every night, the next it was empty…

In an article at Chess.com dated 9/2/21, How Chess Can Make You Better At Business, written by “Chesscom” begins: “When you see chess in movies, it’s always associated with great minds—and there’s a good reason for this: chess is the ultimate intellectual game.” (https://www.chess.com/article/view/how-chess-can-make-you-better-at-business)

I beg to differ. The statement is false, and is a perfect example of the hubris shown by the Chess community. There are far more people who play, and consider the ancient game of Wei-Chi to be “the ultimate intellectual game.” I am one of them. One of the reasons what is called “Go” in the West is “the ultimate intellectual game,” is that there is a winner in 99 and 44/100, if not more, of the games played. Seriously, it is would probably be better to say 99.9%, but there was this Ivory snow commercial ‘back in the day’ that used 99.44.

To back up my point this is what World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker said about Go:

Emanuel Lasker Quote: "While the Baroque rules of Chess ...

And this:

Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts — line and circle, wood and stone, black and white — combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination.
Iwamoto Kaoru,

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.v5RlqwVR0GXupLN6HGehnAAAAA%26pid%3DApi&f=1
senseis.xmp.net

9-dan professional Go player and former Honinbo title holder.

Go, ultimate strategic game (https://dragallur.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/go-ultimate-strategic-game/)

Billionaire Res Sinquefield

https://media2.fdncms.com/riverfronttimes/imager/u/blog/3007837/sinquefieldupi.jpg?cb=1454775102
UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt
Rex Sinquefield has been a major donor to institutions in the city, including the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis — and a host of conservative politicians.

instituted a NEW RULE in the series of Chess tournaments named after him, the Sinquefield Cup. Players are not allowed to offer a draw. Unfortunately, they can repeat the position three times and the game ends in another dreaded draw…Listen up, Rex! You have got the money and are like E.F. Hutton. When you speak people listen. How about instituting the Ko rule from Go in the next Sinquefield Cup tournaments. If a player repeats the same position for the third time YOU LOSE!!!

Now if I had a billzillion digits I would go even further and change the stalemate rule to a win for the player that forces the enemy King into a position without having a legal move at his disposal. What, you think the AW is crazy? I’ve been called worse…I would not stop there. The Royal game needs NEW LIFE! The AW would FREE THE PAWN! That’s right, folks, I would allow the pawn to RETREAT! Why not allow the pawn advance one square to the rear?!

This game was “played” in the first round of the Charlotte Labor Day GM A 2021 last night:

GM Kamil Dragun 2555 (POL) vs GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi 2530 (TUR)

D14 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav, exchange variation, 6.Bf4 Bf5

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. cxd5 cxd5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bf4 Bf5 7. e3 e6 8. Bd3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Bd6

If you go to the Big database at 365Chess.com you will find that 99.4% of games that reached this position were drawn! (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=19&n=5693&ms=d4.d5.c4.c6.Nc3.Nf6.cxd5.cxd5.Nf3.Nc6.Bf4.Bf5.e3.e6.Bd3.Bxd3.Qxd3.Bd6&ns=7.8.23.36.307.350.965.868.130.49.50.50.51.51.4988.5186.5593.5693)

The “game” concluded after:

  1. Bxd6 Qxd6 11. O-O O-O 12. Rfc1 Rfc8 13. h3 ½-½
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-charlotte-labor-day-gm-a/01-Dragun_Kamil-Ali_Marandi_Cemil_Can

The opponents rank first and second in the event. It is more than a little obvious they did not come to play; they came to draw. It makes me wanna PUKE!

Then in the first round (FIRST ROUND!) of the Charlotte Labor Day GM B this game was recorded:

IM Levy Rozman 2353 (USA) vs GM Mark Paragua 2475 (PHI)

Charlotte Labor Day GM B 2021 round 01

D92 Gruenfeld, 5.Bf4

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. Rc1 Be6 7. e3 dxc4 8. Ng5 Bd5 9. e4 h6 10. exd5 hxg5 11. Bxg5 Nxd5 12. Bxc4 Nb6 13. Bb3 Nc6 14. Ne2 Qd7 15. O-O Rad8 16. Qd2 Bxd4 ½-½
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-charlotte-labor-day-gm-b/01-Rozman_Levy-Paragua_Mark

What did the fans of Chess think about the game? This is from the CHAT at ChessBomb:

ZikoGG: they agreed to a draw


jphamlore: Well that was an abrupt ending.


Nero: what the


Nero: chess is weird

And you know it makes me wonder what’s going on…

Levy Rozman

WHO AM I?

My name is Levy Rozman, also known as “GOTHAMCHESS.”

I’m an International Master, Twitch Streamer, Content Creator on YouTube and former scholastic chess coach.

I have been playing chess for almost 20 years, and teaching it for nearly 10 years. 

During my time as a scholastic chess coach I learned how to best teach the game to players of all levels.

This includes players that fall between ‘Beginner’ and ‘Intermediate.’

I’ve learned all the methods and strategies that help players in that level range advance to the intermediate level and beyond. 

This course is my attempt at compiling this knowledge and making it accessible to anyone in the world!

The Najdorf System

When first starting out on the Caissa highway this writer played the Najdorf exclusively against the move 1 e4. Like many others I played the most aggressive opening because it was played by Bobby Fischer.

https://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-but-you-see-when-i-play-a-game-of-bobby-there-is-no-style-bobby-played-perfectly-and-miguel-najdorf-87-24-27.jpg

Prior to the advent of the computer programs that are now at least two, maybe three levels above humans in playing ability, the Najdorf was analyzed to what we thought was ‘death’. It is possible that more theory has been written on the opening foisted upon the Chess world by Miquel Najdorf

https://en.chessbase.com/portals/4/files/news/2015/common/nic/najdorf.jpg

than any other opening. Nowadays players throw any and everything at the Najdorf, even some moves at which we would have scoffed ‘back in the day’. The Najdorf is not really a defense but a ‘system’. Although it was a lifetime ago it seems like only yesterday the book with the green cover, The Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defence, by Svetozar Gligoric,

https://rafaelleitao.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/883e1bd0-67ad-4f78-85d4-bb79a5c60b6f.jpeg
Grandes Enxadristas: A História de Svetozar Gligoric …
rafaelleitao.com

Yefim Geller,

Lubomir Kavalek,

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2021/01/20/obituaries/Kavalek-01/merlin_182621637_64889ca1-3763-4ef7-b827-8cd9af4599d9-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp

and Boris Spassky,

https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/madison.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/0e/20e12d24-a7ec-11e4-938d-33e1835238f9/54ca88655dc93.image.jpg?resize=500%2C593
cookingsblogtips.blogspot.com

was published by R.H.M.

https://cv02.twirpx.net/2561/2561165.jpg?t=20190921113626
https://www.twirpx.com/file/2561165/

That would have been in 1976, the year I won the Atlanta Chess Championship with an unbeaten 5-0 score. I devoured the book. At the time I was playing correspondence Chess and one of my opponents was a young Atlanta player who later became a National Master, Tom Friedel. After reading the book there was one line I particularly did not like. In the USCF postal tournament I was paired with Tom, and he stepped right into my wheelhouse, allowing me to play my beloved Najdorf. Unfortunately for me, Tom played the aforementioned line. There was a problem with another game in that section in that the player was using one of the new computer playing machines to produce his moves. I know this because former Georgia Chess Champion Mike Decker had the same machine and I asked him about my postal game. Sure ’nuff, the machine produced each and every one of the moves sent by my opponent, so I withdrew from the event and never played another postal game. Some time later a friend said he had been talking with Tom about our postal game and that Tom was perplexed, saying something about my being able to draw even though a pawn down. After learning why I had withdrawn Tom was no longer perplexed. Tom was a very strong player, no doubt stronger than me, and I seem to recall Tom winning the USCF postal tournament. Maybe one of you readers can recall, or do the research required to learn if my memory is correct. The fact is that after all these decades in which I have not played the Najdorf, I have played over more Najforf games than any games of any other opening. It really is true that you never forget your first love. It is also the reason I have been a BIG fan of the Frenchman known as simply “MVL.”

What makes the following game remarkable is that Fabi played the weak 15 a3 two rounds AFTER LDP played the much superior 15 Nd5 against MVL in the fourth round leading to a resounding victory for Leinier Dominguez Perez in only 33 moves! It is refreshing seeing a player with even a modicum of gray hair winning these days.

(GM) Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Carlsen-Caruana 3: Fabi squanders opening edge | chess24.com

vs (GM) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Côte d'Ivoire Rapid & Blitz: A three-point lead for Magnus ...

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 06

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. a3 g6 16. h4 Ng3 17. Rg1 Nxf1 18. Rgxf1 Na4 19. Nxa4 bxa4 20. h5 Qc7 21. Rh1 Rfe8 22. Qh2 Bf8 23. c4 Re7 24. Bd2 Bxc4 25. Bb4 Rd7 26. f4 Bb5 27. hxg6 fxg6 28. f5 Rg7 29. f6 Rf7 30. Qd2 Qd7 31. Qd5 Be2 32. Rc1 Rxc1+ 33. Rxc1 h5 34. Nc4 Bxc4 35. Rxc4 h4 36. Rc2 h3 37. Ka2 Kh8 38. Rd2 Rh7 39. Bxd6 Qxd6 40. Qxd6 Bxd6 41. Rxd6 Kg8 42. Rd8+ Kf7 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44. Rd8+ Kf7 45. Rd7+ Kg8 46. Rd8+ ½-½
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-grand-chess-tour-sinquefield-cup/06-Caruana_Fabiano-Vachier_Lagrave_Maxime

1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 (SF 14 @depth 53 and Komodo 13.02 @depth 45 plays the game move, but SF 050821 @depth 58 would play the move GM Ben Finegold says one should never play, 6 f3!) 6…e5 (SF 13 @depth 59 would play the move played in the game, but SF 050821 @depth 51 prefers 6…Ng4. Komodo 13.02 @depth 44 shows 6…e6. The CBDB shows white scoring 54% against each move, so flip a coin…err, roll ‘dem bones…) 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 (Komodo 13.02 @depth 44 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 46; Komodo 14 @depth 46 would play 8 Be2, which has only scored 50% in 296 games. 8 f3 has scored 53% in 6013 games) 8….Be7 (SF 13 @depth 45 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 51; but SF 14 @depth 49 shows 8…h5, the move that has scored the best, holding white to only 47% in 1251 games. In 4002 games against 8…Be7 white has scored 54%) 9. Qd2 O-O (By far the most often played move (3272), but is it the best? but SF 14 @depth 55 plays the second most often played move of 9…Nbd7, but SF 060421 @depth 71 plays 9…h5, the move that in 521 games has scored the best for the Najdorf, holding white to even, Steven) 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 (SF 14 @depth 49 plays the game move, as does SF 050821 @depth 51, but here’s the deal…the CBDB shows the same program at the same depth also playing 14…Qc7. I don’t know about you but as for me I’m sticking with Stockfish!) 15. a3 (The most often played move in 26 games has been 15 Rg1, but it has scored an abysmal 38%. The move played in the game has scored 50% in only 7 games. The move that three different Stockfish programs rates best, 15 Nd5, has scored an outstanding 63%, albeit in only 4 games. I don’t know about you but the next time I arrive at this position that steed is leaping to d5!) 15…g6 16. h4 (SF 12 @depth 41 plays this move, but SF 050821 @depth 39 and SF 251220 @depth 67 plays 16 Rg1, which has been played in 7 games) 16…Ng3 (SF 310720 @depth 51 plays 16…Qc7)

(GM) Leinier Dominguez Perez (USA)

Ajedrecista cubano Leinier Domínguez se cuela en puesto 14 ...

vs (GM) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)

Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021 round 04

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3 Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. c4 Nf4 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. h4 Qa4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. Qe4 g6 23. Bc2 Qd7 24. h5 Qe6 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qxf4 Qe5 27. Qh4 Qg7 28. Rd2 Rc5 29. f4 f6 30. Rdh2 fxg5 31. Qe1 Bf6 32. Rh6 Qb7 33. Qe6+ 1-0
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-grand-chess-tour-sinquefield-cup/04-Dominguez_Perez_Leinier-Vachier_Lagrave_Maxime

Levon Aronian (2772)

Levon Aronian switches to the USA | chess24.com

vs Magnus Carlsen (2870)

Magnus Carlsen Net Worth - Biography, Life, Career and ...


Event: Tata Steel India Rapid
Site: Kolkata IND Date: 11/22/2019
Round: 3.3
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nbd7 9.g4 Be7 10.Qd2 O-O 11.O-O-O b5 12.g5 Nh5 13.Kb1 Nb6 14.Na5 Rc8 15.a3 g6 16.h4 Ng3 17.Rg1 Nxf1 18.Rgxf1 Na4 19.Nxa4 bxa4 20.h5 Qd7 21.Rh1 Rfe8 22.Qh2 Bf8 23.Bd2 Rc7 24.Bb4 Rb8 25.Rd3 Qb5 26.Rc3 Rbc8 27.Rxc7 Rxc7 28.Rd1 Rd7 29.Rd3 Be7 30.hxg6 fxg6 31.Qd2 Qb6 32.Qc1 Bd8 33.c4 Qf2 34.Nc6 Bxg5 35.Qxg5 Qf1+ 36.Kc2 Bxc4 37.Qe3 Bxd3+ 38.Qxd3 Qxd3+ 39.Kxd3 h5 40.Ke3 Kf7 41.Bc3 Ke6 42.Nb4 g5 43.Kf2 Rf7 44.Kg2 g4 45.fxg4 Rg7 46.Nd5 Rxg4+ 47.Kf3 Rg1 48.Kf2 Rg7 49.Kf3 h4 50.Be1 h3 51.Bg3 Rb7 52.Nb4 a5 53.Nd3 Rb3 54.Ke2 Kf6 55.Bh2 Kg5 56.Bg3 Kg4 57.Bh2 Rxd3 58.Kxd3 Kf3 59.Kd2 Kxe4 60.Ke2 d5 61.Bg3 d4 62.Bh2 Kd5 63.Kd2 e4 64.Ke2 Kc4 65.Be5 Kb3 66.Kd2 d3 67.Kd1 e3 68.Kc1 Kc4 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4230897&m=34

Chess Websites

A disgruntled reader took exception to the post, USCF Drops Set & Clock (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/08/12/uscf-drops-set-clock/). He defended the USCF for not having posted the last round games along with the other eight rounds. Only seven of those rounds can be found at the USCF website. There was/is an error with the fifth round and when clicks on the round this is found:

This screenshot was taken from the USCF website a moment ago (http://uschess.live/2021USO/round-5/games.pgn).

There are still no last round games posted…

The disgruntled one excoriated the AW for not finding the games at lichess (https://lichess.org/). I will admit to missing the notification in the article by Alexy Root,

https://new.uschess.org/sites/default/files/wp-thumbnails/Alexey-Root-Author-Photo-e1515093279560.png
Family Chess Challenge in Denton with WIM Dr. Alexey Root …
new.uschess.org

U.S. Open: Chess games, awards, signings, meetings, as I sort of glanced at the pictures on the way to the games, of which there were only three. Although I had previously been to the lichess website, I returned, finding the same page. From what was displayed I thought the website was only for playing online Chess. What do you think

https://lichess.org/

Yesterday while watching the coverage of the Sinquefield Cup

https://saintlouischessclub.org/sites/default/files/styles/slideshow/public/slideshow/2021%20Sinquefield%20Cup_Chess%20Club%20Homepage%20Slideshow.png?itok=BmhbwnSw
https://saintlouischessclub.org/

I noticed GM Maurice Ashley

https://i1.wp.com/tim.blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/maurice_ashley_illo-1-scaled.jpg?fit=1200%2C900&ssl=1
https://tim.blog/2020/07/28/maurice-ashley/

using a lichess board to display moves played in the ongoing games, so I returned to lichess and there was the same page as above. I did not want to waste time looking at the website because I was enjoying watching the gentlemen. Frankly, it was excellent having three Grandmasters analyze the games live without having a much lower rated woman onscreen.

There are many Chess websites and they are in competition. Like the Highlander,

https://memegenerator.net/img/instances/51755727/there-can-be-only-one.jpg

From the look of Chessdom (https://www.chessdom.com/) another one has bitten the dust.

The same screen has been up since the conclusion of the TCEC (https://tcec-chess.com/) match, won convincingly by Stockfish over LcZero. Although I visit most every Chess website the surfing begins with The Week In Chess (https://theweekinchess.com/), moving to Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/), then on over to Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en), and when there is Chess action, I go to the ChessBomb (https://www.chessbomb.com/), and also use Chess24. The best place to view is TWIC because the board contains only moves, unlike ChessBomb, which color codes moves, and Chess24 which has some ridiculous white strip on the side of the board that moves up or down depending on the current move. It reminds me of a thermometer. Wonder why the two websites did not make the ancillary accoutrements optional? They broadcast most of the same events, but the Bomb has been running all games played in the World Chess Championship matches, and is now up to the 1981 Karpov vs. Korchnoi match. (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/1981-karpov-korchnoi) I am still enjoying replaying the Bobby Fischer versus Boris Spassky match. (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/1972-spassky-fischer) Although I like the darker background found at Chess.com I agree with a gentleman with children who said, “Chess.com is geared toward children.” And why should it not be “geared toward children”? Children are the future and the battle rages for their little hearts, minds, souls, and their parents money.

Caruana Fires Qe2 at the Berlin Wall!

I give Fabiano Caruana

https://www.insidethegames.biz/media/image/101955/o/Fabiano%20Caruana.jpg

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

https://www.elkandruby.com/gallery_gen/0620cff1024d68fc93e0d44f28f0cec1_960x1520.jpg

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

https://www.buddhichal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/11029509_10153614542891675_8630450749912991276_o-768x511.jpg

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.

https://www.elkandruby.com/gallery_gen/dfae8ee5a0ff679a9f1c36815af55406_932x1412.jpg

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:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E3cJEo1WQAcgYb7?format=jpg&name=small

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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2541935

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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4287585

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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=3875034

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
    https://database2.chessbase.com/

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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2693274

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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2693289

https://worldchesshof.org/hof-inductee/george-henry-mackenzie

Davenport homicide victim was well-known publisher, chess player

I attempted to use this picture in the initial post concerning the murder of Bob Long:

 

but for some reason was unable to do so “for security reasons.” I sent an email to Daniel Lucas asking about use of the picture by US Chess. In a short time an email was received from John Hartmann of US Chess: “I downloaded the the picture from Long’s website and used it. Hope that helps.”

Today I had no problem with the picture of “Cowboy” Bob.

In the article you are about to read you will find the word irascible used to describe Bob. I will admit the word popped into my head during an email exchange with the Mulfish, but I was uncertain of the exact meaning of the word, so I checked it out at the Free Dictionary, learning the definition of the word, 1. “Prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered. 2. Characterized by or resulting from anger,” is too harsh a word for Bob. (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/irascible) I would prefer the word tetchy, which means “being or inclined to be cross, irritable, or touchy.” (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/tetchy)

Davenport homicide victim was well-known publisher, chess player

Tom Loewy Jan 10, 2020 Updated Jan 10, 2020

Robert Long lived in a humble home on a modest street in Davenport.

The 74-year-old’s sagging two-story faces the brick-covered 1500 block of LeClaire Street. High curbs cracked by time bulge to contain the neighborhood’s shifting yards.

There is little, if any, sign of conspicuous consumption on the block — unless you count the discarded candy wrappers and dead leaves piling up against the sewers.

No one has said why Charlie Gary allegedly chose Long’s home to rob Tuesday, Jan. 8. The 19-year-old told police he strangled Long before stealing his car.

“We’re just ordinary people on this block,” said Connie Kindig, Long’s next-door neighbor for “the last 10 or 15 years.”

Kindig said she wants “to go back to ordinary” after Long’s stunning murder in his humble home on the modest street. She’s still friendly, but tired of talking to TV cameras and people who scribble in notebooks.

While Long’s death grabbed headlines, friends and fellow chess players described a man who was anything but ordinary. Besides being an expert chess player, he was a mathematician, writer, small businessman and publisher.

He even wrote a book about internet dating for seniors.

John Beydler worked as an editor at the paper that is now the Dispatch-Argus for 48 years. He met Long in 1977.

“I decided I wanted to play a more serious level of chess,” Beydler said. “I went in search of books, and I found a place called Thinker’s Press. It was a little place up on Harrison Street.”

Thinker’s Press was a store that catered to chess players and other gamers. It featured books and equipment for chess players of all levels. It was the place where many met Long.

Beydler and a number of people tried to tell a little bit about Long’s life through posts and comments on Facebook.

Beydler sat down to offer his own take, posting a remembrance Thursday.

“Bob’s contribution to chess in the Quad-Cities and far beyond deserve to be more remembered than his end,” Beydler wrote.

“Bob was just bright — he knew something about everything and had a wide range of interests,” Beydler said Friday. “In his element, he was an outgoing guy. He could be growly — you know, irascible.

“But by God, it was fun to spend time with him.”

Thinker’s Press moved to 2nd Street and published books on chess. Long also started a mail-order business which Kindig said he converted over to online sales.

His imprint published titles from internationally known chess players. Long is said to have known famous chess recluse Bobby Fischer. Grandmaster Michael Rohde, writing under a remembrance post on Alex King’s Facebook page, said Long helped him publish.

“I had many great discussions with Bob, concerning chess and other subjects, as he helped me to create my 1997 book (‘The Great Evans Gambit Debate’) published by his company Thinkers Press,” Rohde wrote. “The genesis of the book was an article I had written about the 1995 game (between) (Garry) Kasparov and (Viswanathan) Anand — an Evans Gambit, the last game they played before their 1995 World Championship match. Bob ran with that and helped me grow it into a book.”

Long’s next-door neighbor knew a bit about Long’s chess playing and his singular business.

“He was a very smart man, you could tell that by talking to him,” Kindig said. “He was married for a while. I don’t know her name, but the sticker on her car said ‘Georgia Peach.’ And she had another sticker that said ‘I’m Bobby’s Girl.’

“Rob, that’s what we called him, was a good neighbor. He never made any noise or had wild parties, or anything like that. Sometimes we’d all stand out there in his front yard and talk about things, ordinary things. He was a good neighbor, a nice man.”

Gary made his first appearance Thursday in Scott County Court, facing first-degree charges of murder, robbery and burglary. He requested a court-appointed attorney and a preliminary hearing, set for 8:30 a.m., Jan. 13. A second preliminary hearing was scheduled for 10 a.m., Jan. 17.

 

https://qctimes.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/davenport-homicide-victim-was-well-known-publisher-chess-player/article_e1b5d693-b000-5a23-85af-644e156be464.html#tracking-source=home-trending

Rawhide Chess

Taking time to check out what was happening in the world of Chess found me surfin’ to the ChessBomb, where the Salamanca Chess Festival was on top of the list. The round seven games had been completed. The last game looked interesting because Yifan Hou, with the black pieces, had defeated none other than the man who accelerated the demise of the Royal game when he falsely accused Vladimir Kramnik of cheating, Vladimir Topalov. What made it so interesting is that word on the street had it that Topalov had been cheating in consort with his manager, Silvio Danilov. Topalov once held the title of FIDE world champion, a title with huge import ‘back in the day’. These daze there seems to be a plethora of so-called, “world champions.” What with age groups, each broken down into male and female, and other forms of the formerly Royal game, it would take a calculator to count all of them.

Where was I… Oh yeah…

Topalov, Veselin

– Hou, Yifan

Salamanca Chess Festival 2019 round 07

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 0-1 (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-salamanca-chess-festival)

I have no idea…

This caused me to go to the beginning where I noticed, and began to replay, the game Hou vs Ponomariov. Do not ask me why…

Hou, Yifan – Ponomariov, Ruslan

Salamanca Chess Festival 2019 round 01

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 Bg4 7. Nc4 Nd7 8. h3 Be6 9. Na5 Rb8 10. O-O f6 11. Qe1 O-O 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Qxe3 c5 14. a3 c6 15. b4 Qc7 16. Nd2 b6 17. Nab3 Qd6 18. bxc5 Nxc5 19. Nxc5 bxc5 20. Rfb1 Rb6 21. a4 Rfb8 22. Rxb6 axb6 23. a5 Ra8 24. Nb3 Bxb3 25. cxb3 Rxa5 26. Rxa5 bxa5 27. Qe2 Kf8 28. Qg4 Qxd3 29. Qc8+ Kf7 30. Qxc6 Qd4 31. g4 h6 32. Qc7+ Kg6 33. Qxa5 Qxe4 34. Qxc5 Qb1+ 35. Kg2 Qxb3 36. Qc6 Qd3 37. h4 e4 38. Qe6 Qf3+ 39. Kg1 Qf4 40. Kg2 Qe5

Now any Chess player other than Allen Priest would know it is imperative in this position to keep your queen on the board. The woman played, I kid you not…

41. Qxe5?? A Bomb RED MOVE, if ever there was one…

After taking the queen with 41…fxe5 black is soooooooooooo won.

Hou played 42 Kf1 and I wondered why. Then I noticed she only had eighteen seconds time remaining while her opponent still had over five minutes on his clock. Ponomariov (Did he, too, win some kind of Chess World Championship?), with all the time in the world to win a completely won position produced the move 42…h5?? BIG RED!

And we now have a completely drawn game that any Chess player, other than Allen Priest, could hold with a nano second on the clock.

43. gxh5+ Kf5 44. Ke1 Kg4 45. Ke2 Kf4 46. h6 gxh6 47. h5 e3 48. f3 e4 49. fxe4 Kxe4 50. Ke1 Kf3 51. Kf1 Kg4 52. Ke2 Kf4 53. Ke1 Kf3 54. Kf1 e2+ 55. Ke1 Ke3 ½-½
https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-salamanca-chess-festival/01-Hou_Yifan-Ponomariov_Ruslan

I will admit it took me some time to learn the above game was a rapid game. Still…

Chess is rapidly (couldn’t help myself) changing, and not for the better. The above game is only a taste of the excrement being provided to the Chess fans of the world. Back in the day any form of speed Chess was considered an exhibition. We marveled when Bobby Fischer decimated the competition, “In April 1970, Bobby scored 19-3 (+17 -1 =4) to win the unofficial “Speed Chess Championship of the World,” which was held in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia.” (https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2012/03/16/bobbys-blitz-chess/)

That was then and this is now and it is obvious speed kills. Yet, because of the Chess programs Chess has no choice other than to hold the time limit of a game to the human bladder. It is either that or having every player wear a diaper. What, you think I’m kidding? How do you think a NASCAR driver disposes of waste material during a four or five hour race? Needing petrol is not the only reason a driver looks forward to a pit stop.

Back in the day we would play around the clock on Saturday and return for another possibly ten hours, AND WE LIKED IT!

These daze it seems the Chess people in charge are moving toward rawhide Chess. As in “Head ’em up Move ’em out, Rawhide.”

As I was wondering why anyone in their right mind would watch Rawhide Chess the answer was provided today by GM Kevin Spraggett on his excellent blog, Spraggett on Chess:

“We have all noticed this phenomenon from Day#1 of our very first visit to the tournament hall. A densely packed crowd gathers about a board, and when you investigate you find that one of the players is about to lose.
The expectation is palpable in the spectators’ facial expressions. It does not matter if the players are masters or beginners: the coming ‘execution’ is worth the wait!
It is difficult to explain this phenomenon, I suppose it has to do with human nature. And probably also explains why more people are willing to watch a blitz game than a slow game. A blitz game allows for faster executions!”
(http://www.spraggettonchess.com/todays-vintage-chess-humor-16/)

Reading this caused me to recall something former Georgia, and Georgia Senior, Chess Champion David Vest said to me around the turn of the century. “You only watch NASCAR to watch the wrecks.” The retort was, “You only watch the horses because they crash and burn on the track.” I was afraid of the Drifter sending me into the High Planes, but fortunately, he kept it together…

The Moves That Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life: Part One

The review will begin with the bottom line. The book is a lovingly written, magnificent masterpiece. Anyone reading it will be richly rewarded in ways they may not even understand at the time of reading. This is most definitely not a book one reads and forgets. It is a book to savor.

I met Grandmaster Jonathan Rowson at the World Open in 2002 while assisting Thad Rogers in the book room after turning certain victory into defeat in the first round and after losing the next two games Thad needed help and the book room looked inviting. There was a discussion concerning his book, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins,

which had been read the previous year. Later I read Jonathan’s Chess For Zebras,

which was very entertaining, and while working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center I advocated any and everyone purchase his excellent books. All I recall now about our conversation is that other books were discussed and when asked to name my favorite novel I answered immediately, “The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse.”

“Really?!” he said before continuing with a question, “Why?”

Why, indeed. I no longer remember how I answered, but do recall being taken aback, because most people with whom I have mentioned the novel have not even been aware of the book. I also recall Jonathan displaying actions which led me to believe he was about ready to leave, so the answer was truncated. In addition I recall Jonathan saying, after I answered his question, “Fascinating!”

GM Rowson tied for first at the 2002 World Open. Because of the pleasant memories of the chance encounter I will admit it is difficult for me to be completely objective. In addition, upon learning of the forthcoming publication of the book about to be reviewed I contacted the publishing company, informing them of the blog and the encounter with Jonathan, while informing them I would like to review the book. I had hoped to finish reading the book long before publication in order to review it ASAP, but life intervened. Another factor is that the book required much more thought than I had imagined, which is a very good thing. A quote from the book comes to mind: “You cannot think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something.” – cognitive scientist Martin Minsky. Therefore reading the book required much more time than I had imagined.

The book is full of wonderful quotes, which is a positive thing. Decades ago there was a show on public television, Thinking Allowed, hosted by Dr. Jeffery Mishlove.

http://www.thinkingallowed.com/jm.html

Jonathan Rowson would have made an excellent guest on the program. (Just put Thinking Allowed into the Startpage.com search engine and found: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFk448YbGITLnzplK7jwNcw. Oh happy day!)

After briefly perusing the book one long time National Master Chess player closed it before saying, “Where’s the meat?!” This meant GAMES. After explaining there were about two dozen games contained in the notes he exclaimed, “What kind of Chess book is that?!” This caused me to consider the question too long because he began talking before I could answer. I was never able to answer his question because, to his way of thinking, a Chess book with mostly words was most definitely NOT a Chess book. This has caused me to reflect upon what, exactly, is a Chess book. For example, consider Frank Brady’s book on Bobby Fischer, Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness.

Would it be considered a Chess book? Maybe what constitutes a “Chess book” is what is in the eye of the beholder…

The Moves That Matter is is a book about oh so much more than Chess. It is a book written by a man who devoted most of his early years, and maybe half of his life, to the Royal game, so therefore it does contain much Chess put into words, but, strictly speaking, it is not about Chess. It is about so much more than a mere game. The book is about life, and thinking about life. Although the reader will be entertained, it is not about entertaining per se. It is a “deep” book which will cause the reader to do some seriously deep thinking. That is to be expected since Dr. Jonathan Rowson is an applied philosopher. “The Society for Applied Philosophy was founded in 1982 with the aim of promoting philosophical work that has a direct bearing on areas of practical concern.” (https://www.appliedphil.org/)

In lieu of a review I have decided to write about the the ideas and questions contained in the book. Copious notes were taken while reading; twelve pages of college ruled note paper to be precise. What I will attempt to do is share some of the thoughts and questions in the book that caused me to question and think about those thoughts and questions.

The book contains eight chapters each broken down into another eight sub-headings. The format caused me to reflect upon one of my favorite books, The Eight,

by Katherine Neville.


Katherine Neville in 1985
A photograph of the author in San Francisco’s Marin Headlands, California, 1985.

In the first chapter, Thinking and Feeling, under sub-heading #5 Asking Pertinent Questions, one finds, “There are many different ways to frame the educational value of chess, but if I had to sum it up in one word, it would probably be: ‘questions’.

If I had three words it would be ‘questions about relationships’. As the writer Marinan Benjamin puts it, to ask a question is to invest in attentiveness, to declare a stake in the answer, and that is one of the many gifts of chess; you cease to be a passive recipient of information, and become an active learner – an intrinsically rewarding experience. Playing chess is about posing questions to the opponent, and answering the questions they pose you; the little questions are always nested inside bigger ones.”

We will move ahead to the last chapter, Life and Death, under sub-heading #64, Facing up to death. It is written, “The 2009 Acropolis Open in Greece was overshadowed by the death of a respected Greek player, Nikolaos Karapanos, who had a heart attack just before executing a winning move in his first-round game. His opponent, Israeli Grandmaster Dan Zoler, who happens to be a doctor, tried to revive him, but Karapanos stopped breathing before the ambulance arrived.
This story indicates just how stress-inducing chess can be, but the deeper point is that we never know when our time will come. All the major spiritual traditions speak about the importance of being ready for the unthinkable, and the importance of being ready for the unthinkable, and the importance of dying at peace, without undue regret.
It seems profane to point out that Zoler resigned the game, but he also withdrew from the event, stating that he no longer felt like playing chess in the circumstances. You can hardly blame him. Chess sometimes seems singularly charming and vitally important, but a brief reflection on our mortality has to lead to some searching questions. Is this it? Pushing these pieces around? Is this what I am supposed to be doing?”

Nikolaos Karapanos vs Dan Zoler
24th ICT Acropolis (2009), Chalkida, Greece, rd 1, Aug-10
Catalan Opening: General (E00)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 c5 5.Bxb4 cxb4 6.Bg2 O-O
7.Nf3 d6 8.O-O a5 9.a3 Na6 10.Nbd2 Qc7 11.h3 Rd8 12.e4 e5
13.Qe2 b6 14.a4 Bb7 15.b3 Re8 16.Rad1 Rad8 17.Rfe1 exd4
18.Nxd4 Nc5 19.f3 Nh5 20.Nf1 d5 21.cxd5 Bxd5 22.exd5 Rxe2
23.Rxe2 g6 24.f4 Nf6 25.Nc6 Rd7 26.Ne5 Rd8 27.Nc6 Rd7 28.Ne5
Nxb3 29.Nxd7 Nxd7 30.d6 Qc5+ 31.Kh2 Kg7 32.Re7 Qc8 33.Ne3 Nf6
34.d7 Qd8 35.Ng4 Kf8 36.Ne5 Nc5 1-0
https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1554879

See the excellent article by Daaim Shabazz at The Chess Drum:

Playing Chess to Death

Aug 4th, 2019 by Daaim Shabazz

Playing Chess to Death

End part one

All The Wrong Moves Part Seven: The Secret Of Chess

This paragraph is the first of chapter 7: The Secret Of Chess.

I first stumbled upon the lectures of my future teacher and spiritual guardian,

Ben Finegold,

during a despairing google for chess tips in Bangkok. He was different from all the other chess lecturers I’d seen before. Most lecturing grandmasters, even the most charming ones, approach the game with a hushed reverence, as if delivering news on a pediatric oncology ward, or trying to placate an errant tiger. Finegold is the complete opposite. He’s charismatic, frank, and viciously funny, matching a respect for the game’s elegance with flagrant mockery of everything else. When Finegold’s students raise their hands, he often points a meaty had at them and says, “You, with the wrong answer,” or “You, with some crazy comment.” Upon hearing one of their replies, he’ll often respond, “Ugh, that was painful,” or “Hey, you’re the best player in your chair.” He’s given to claiming that the Panov-Botvinnik Atack was named after “Mr. Attack.” His lectures are littered with Tarantino references, imitations of other lecturers from hiss chess club, and fatuous advice like “never move pawns.”

Finegold

has a unique place in the chess world. He has ardent fans, because of his aforementioned characteristics, and many detractors, also because of his aforementioned characteristics. Moreover, he lives on an odd plateau of chess skill – that of the low-level grandmaster.

Ouch.

It seems like just yesterday Ben was being proclaimed “The World’s Strongest IM,” while gracing the cover of Chess Life (now Lifeless) magazine. Garner that coveted GM title and nobody knows your name…

The fact that this is a coherent concept is another illustration of the vast distance between the amateur and the professional player. To any player like me, any grandmaster lives in an unreachable and starry grove of intellectual superiority. Someone like Finegold can calculate in drunken sleep better than I can while achieving satori on Adderall. But, to most grandmasters, Finegold isn’t that notable, except for his personality.

Euwe, that hurts!

There are essentially two ways you could regard Finegold, given his position in the chess ecosystem. You could see him as a pitiable example of the game’s mercilessness, by focusing on the fact that Finegold never made it to the upper ranks. On the other hand, you could see him as someone who hurled himself directly into the howling void of chess and came out intact, with a fan following, two kids, a little house in Georgia,

and the ability to eke out a modest living by teaching his favorite game to captivated pupils –

occasionally including desperate adults who come all the way from Canada to absorb his teachings.

I arrived in St. Louis a few days before my first meeting with Finegold, to have a chance to explore the city. And during this pre-Finegold interval, I had a random meeting with a stranger that would prove to be an omen of the month ahead. She was a woman walking alone downtown, screaming.

“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Holy shit,” she screamed.
“Um,” I said.
“Fuck all these pussy-ass people,” she screamed.
“I am so tired of this life,” she screamed.
“Damn it,” she screamed.
She walked away. And, unfortunately, I came to agree with her about the city of St. Louis.

This is probably my fault. I am a great believer in the idea that a failure to love is often the fault of the lover. If I were more patient and more curious and more forgiving, I probably could’ve found more to appreciate. I’m told that St. Louis contains many beautiful sun-strewn lanes and cheerful people, and fun bars where tender words are exchanged over locally made beers of the highest quality. But that is not what I found. What I found was a humid, boring, and flat place, dappled with some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in North America. According to the website of the St. Louis Police, you shouldn’t “wear clothing or shoes that restrict your movement” in their fair metropolis, so you can run away from assailants if you need to.
The local food, also, is hilarious. There’s a special kind of pizza they make there, which is a prank played by Satan. It’s a cracker, topped with ketchup, finished with a goopy kind of processed cheese that you’ve never had before, because they invented a new kind of cheese for this pizza. It’s edible caulking that clings to the back of your throat, reminding you that you live in an unjust world.

Based on my experiences, I cannot recommend St. Louis. Unless, that is, you’re interested in studying chess. Weirdly, St. Louis is the home of the world’s best chess school. This is the greatest love of billionaire Rex Sinquefield,


https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36257742

a longtime St. Louis resident. Although he was never a skilled player, he was a skilled investor, to say the least, and he arrived at retirement age with enough money that he could quite casually open an air-conditioned temple devoted to his favorite game, and bankroll grandmaster lectures as well as exclusive tournaments with big prizes for the strongest players in the world. The club is housed in a pristine two-story commercial property, and might be mistaken for a posh hernia clinic or a yoga studio if not for the chess pieces depicted on the frontispiece’s stained glass windows.

We have now arrived at what I consider to be the best part of the book, that being the meeting of the teacher and the pupil.

“Hey, Finegold,” I said.
“Sup,” he said.
“I’m Sasha,

that Canadian guy.”
“Who?”
“That guy who emailed you.”
“I know who you are.”
“Yeah, so here I am.”

You ever notice that no matter where you go, there you are?

“How many lessons are you looking for?”
“I was thinking like ten hours.”
“You could do more – the more you pay, the more you learn.”

Wasn’t that the motto of Trump University?

As I considered this, a class of kids, whom he had just taught, flooded out of the classroom and started playing blitz in the lobby, which is to say that they started knocking pieces off tables, knocking clocks off tables, making illegal moves, and screaming at each other. Finegold presided for a few minutes until the parents showed up, delighting the kids with a barrage of verbal abuse, and then returned to me with a searching look on his face.
“Jesus, I want to kill myself,” he said, very quietly.
“Wait till you see my games,” I said.
“You’re not here to impress me, you’re here to learn.”
“But I’d like to impress you.”
“Well, you won’t.”

And he was right. He was right about everything. Sooner or later, everything he told me came true.

Just Because Someone Goes Crazy, It Doesn’t Mean You Also Have to Go Crazy

“If your wife

cheats on you, that’s bad,” Finegold said. “She shouldn’t have done that.

But if you then kill her, kill yourself, and the mailman, that’s not really constructive. You shouldn’t escalate a situation just because someone else did.”

“How does this apply to chess?” I said.

“Well, you consider yourself a creative guy, which is kind of a problem. So, from move two, you’re going out of you mind, trying to invent a work of genius. Which means that when your opponents play crazy, you start playing even crazier. Don’t do that. Just don’t be crazy at all. When they play weird, just play normal good moves. Other grandmasters will tell you that you have to punish your opponents for all of their mistakes. That’s one point of view. My point of view is that you have to win chess games.”

The wisdom of this became clear after the lesson, when we played some blitz at one of the tables

set up on the sidewalk outside the club.

The muggy air was licking my face. Cute couples walked by on their way to Whole Foods, unaware that they were passing a spectacle of truly historic importance: my first game against a grandmaster. It was also the first time I’d ever played against someone drinking two brands of seltzer at once. Finegold played the Slav Defense, an extremely solid opening.

“I hate playing against the Slav,” I said.
“The truth hurts,” he said.
“Is this a good move?”
“It’s a move.”
“But is it good?”
“Probably not. Whose turn is it?”

He moved his queen deep into my territory. For the first ten moves, I thought I might have a microscopic chance of victory, because I didn’t lose all of my pieces. But, every other turn, I made a slight mistake that I didn’t know I was making, and in the face of my craziness, he responded not with theatrics but with a quiet malice. As sweat dripped down my chest, I realized that a crowd was gathering – all the kids in the neighborhood wanted to see Finegold crush me. I tried to put up a good fight so I could entertain these little boys and girls, who were soon to be embittered adults, maybe losing at chess themselves. But Finegold didn’t give me a good fight – he gave me a slow, vicious grind, allowing me only to twist lamely while he attained total control. I was a jittery rabbit, running from a surefooted cheetah, in a maze whose pathways slowly curled in on each other and contracted, until we were confined together, predator and prey, in a tiny cell. Under the pressure, I cracked, and made a horrible blunder.
“You’ll have to forgive him for that,” Finegold said to the audience. “He’s tired, because he just moved here. From Crazytown.”

Finegold, who was always coming and going, and who noticed everything, observed that I was having a lot of fun, and that it was translating into my play as a whole. He disapproved.

“Take a look at those guys over there,” he said, during a lesson, pointing to an array of portraits of great players that hung on the far wall.

“What am I supposed to be seeing?” I said.

“Tell me who looks like he’s never had fun in his life.”

“Um, Kasparov.”

Garry Kasparov was the top-ranked player in the world for nineteen years, except for a three-month-long slump. And he was famous for his boundless, masochistic work ethic. “Chess is mental torture,” he said.

“Yeah, Kasparov never had any fun. Now, tell me who looks like he’s furious all the time.”

“Bobby Fischer.”

Remembering Bobby Fisher – I

“Yeah, Fischer. That guy didn’t have a lot of fun.”

What he was saying was true. Slow tournament chess, played well, is like violent meditation. The mind is wrenched by an evolving series of parenthetical thoughts, during which the limits of human cognition are directly assaulted.

“Being a winner starts when you realize what a loser you are.”

At my next lesson, I explained my emotional turmoil to Finegold. He was having none of it. “Your emotions are irrelevant,” he said. “You can’t stop protecting your pawns because you’re sad. Chess isn’t one of those crazy stories that you sell to a magazine. You’re not a hero; your opponent isn’t the villain.”

“It’s hard for me not to think like that. It’s kind of who I am,” I said.

“Well, then, don’t be yourself.”

“I can tell you everything I know,” he said, “but absorbing it can take years. Chess is hard. Like, let’s take a simple part of being a grandmaster. To be a grandmaster, you have to spend a lot of time thinking about what your opponents want to do, rather than just focusing on your own plans. Saying that to you is easy, but it’s hard to do, because just thinking about yourself is kind of the human instinct. Being good at chess is pretty counterintuitive. A lot of the time, you’re fighting your basic tendencies.”

“That sounds hard.”

“It’s actually easy. It’s just impossible.”

I was twenty-nine years old. I walked back towards the metro station, through the deserted streets beyond, between beautiful art deco skyscrapers, and I thought about what Finegold had said at the end of our first lesson. After we’d gone through a few of my games, he had nonchalantly asked me whether I’d like to know the secret of chess.

“Um, sure,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. But you’re not going to believe me,” he said. “And maybe you never will.”

This was correct. I had no idea what to make of the secret of chess. And I definitely didn’t believe it. Only later, much later, when I was walking on a beach in California, did his words really strike me with their full force.

The review must end somewhere, and this is where it ends. It seems I have written, arguably, too much, but actually, it is only the tip of the iceberg. To learn the secret of chess, according to Ben Finegold you must find a copy and read it for yourself. You can thank me later…