How to Win with the Berlin

In the first round of the ongoing Nicosia FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2023, Alexandra Kosteniuk

led the white army versus Zhongyi Tan,

Tan Zhongyi | Photo: FIDE / Mark Livshitz (

who chose the Berlin Defense, which has a reputation for being a defense played with a view to making a draw. Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov once said something about we “lesser players” not understanding the “subtleties” of the Berlin Defense. Garry obviously did not understand the subtlety of the opening in the game below:

Kasparov is a very quotable person because he talks at length about any and everything ( as if his prowess at playing Chess translates to being an expert in any and everything. Unfortunately for the former World Chess Champ, the only things that will be remembered about him in the future is that he lost to a computer Chess program named Deep Blue ( and that he cheated a woman, Judit Polgar (

Position after move 46…Kxh5 with Kosteniuk to move. Find the losing move.

The Kosteniuk vs Tan game can be found here: (

In the recently completed Superbet Chess Classic in Romania the following Berlin defense was ‘played’, and I use the term very loosely:

Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Wesley So
Ruy Lopez: Open Berlin Defense, l’Hermet Variation

1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 d5 9. exd6 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd6 11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qd6 13. Qe4+ Qe6 14. Qd4 Qd6 1/2-1/2 ((

When things got outta hand in Checkers because of the plethora of drawn games the openings known to be drawn were discarded, and later particular openings were assigned. How long before Chess players will follow in the Checkers footsteps?

In the second round game between Gunay Mammadzada (2449)

and Kateryna Lagno (2558)

the following position was reached in a game that featured the Berlin defense:

Position after 50…Be6 with white to move. Find the losing move.

The game can be located here: (

Sergey Karjakin (2753) vs Hikaru Nakamura (2746)
Event: Tata Steel India Rapid
Site: Kolkata IND Date: 11/11/2018
Round: 9.2 Score: ½-½
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 O-O 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re2 b6 11.Re1 Bb7 12.c3 Bg5 13.Na3 Bxc1 14.Qxc1 Qh4 15.Nb5 Nxb5 16.Bxb5 Qg4 17.Bf1 Rfe8 ½-½

It should be more than a little obvious the way to win with the Berlin defense is to subtly bore your opponent for many hours until they finally blunder. Unless, that is, I am missing the more subtle aspects of the defense.

why the berlin is the worst opening in chess(How most people play it at least)

IM Andrzej Filipowicz: “Tradition is the future of chess!”

Yesterday Chessbase published, An interview with Andrzej Filipowicz,

a Polish chess polymath, by Uvencio Blanco ( This is being mentioned because I faced IM Filipowicz in a USCF rated Chess tournament in 1980. The FIDE Congress was held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and there were many notable Chess players and notable personages here for that reason. Thad Rogers held a Chess tournament that weekend. In addition, there was a speed tournament organized. At that time “speed” meant five minute Chess, as in each player begins the game with only five minutes on the clock. My opponent in the first round of the knock-out tourney was the notorious Soviet Vice Chairman of the USSR Chess Federation, Victor Davydovich Baturinsky.


I have never been good at playing speed Chess. Give me just a little more time, like fifteen minutes, and the strength of my game increased exponentially, which is why I preferred the extra time. Baturinsky beat me like a drum. As if the ignominy of losing quickly was not enough, Baturinsky rubbed salt into the fresh wound by laughing prior to saying, “Americans cannot play Chess!”

“Oh yeah, fat man, have you ever heard of BOBBY FISCHER?!” I said. Baturinsky became LIVID! FIDE pooh-bahs came running, afraid of an international incident. After turning my back to Baturinsky and walking away, he began shouting something about the loser having to replace the pieces. I stopped, turned around, and said, “You replace them, fat man!” One of those who came running was IM Filipowicz.

In the aforementioned classical (which was forty moves in two hours ‘back in the day’) Chess tournament my first round opponent was IM Filipowicz, who had the white pieces. The game was a long, hard fought battle, agreed drawn on his offer many hours later. Much more time was spent analyzing the game with the gentleman.

The interview is excellent. What follows are excerpts from the interview. The first tells you much about the International Master.

Most experts consider that there are four megatrends: ICTs, biotechnology, nanotechnology and cognitive sciences. In your opinion, and being a person close to academia and technological practice, what links could we establish with some of them?

“I do not think I am an expert in the mentioned matters, so I would better not to comment it.”

Can you imagine Garry Kasparov giving that answer? The dude would pontificate at length for many hours, given the chance, because Garry considers himself an expert in EVERYTHING!

What is your opinion on the impact that Artificial Intelligence has had on chess in recent decades, and what do you see for the future?

“The development of computers has changed the chess world, but I doubt that is good for chess. The tradition of fifteen centuries is being destroyed. People are trying to find solutions using computers and Artificial Intelligence instead of developing their own minds.”

Who is the most intelligent chess character you have dealt with in your prolific life? Any particular anecdotes?

“I have met many interesting people in all these chess years, and it is very difficult to say, but I remember very well many discussions I had with Boris Spassky regarding the history of our two countries and, of course, also many chess problems.

As for the anecdotes, I really like the philosophy of the following anecdote: In a Polish city before the War, a master plays for stakes with a very weak player without the queen, but rarely wins. So seeing the tiredness of the rival, who only looks at his pieces, the master decides to keep the queen on the board. After a few moves, the opponent suddenly says, ‘Master, you didn’t remove the queen’. The master replied, ’I removed it’. ‘That’s where you got it from?’. ‘I promoted the pawn’. ‘But you have eight pawns. So please remove one!’.

Another one has to do with an arbiter’s experience. The arbiter was invited to referee a women’s tournament in the late 1940s. Around that time, they used rules from amateur chess. The level of the games was also not the highest. The arbiter suddenly saw that on one of the boards the king was under check by two knights…. As an experienced arbiter, he immediately left the room and went to the buffet. He calmly drank his coffee and returned to the hall. He saw that the mentioned game had finished and the lady attacking the opposite king with two knights had won the duel. He went to this board, explained that ‘someone’ told him that on this board Black’s king was checked by two knights. He began to ask both players why such a situation arose. The lady playing white explained: ‘Dear Mr. Arbiter, when I checked with one knight, my opponent sarcastically smiled and played the bishop, placing it quite decisively. The retort to such a dictum was to check the king with the second knight, but again there was no reaction, so I decided to capture the pawns on the queenside and … I won’.”

We are in a world where uncertainty, limits to freedom and climate change have taken over. In these conditions, what message would you give to the new generations of chess players?

“Unfortunately, I do not see the proper solution to the mentioned problems. I am convinced that chess players cannot change the basic rules and have to keep the tradition of our favorite game and play over-the-board games to see their opponents instead of the screen of the computer. Tradition is the future of chess!”

I urge you to read the entire interview. Kudos to Chessbase for publishing an exceptionally good interview with one of the real gentlemen involved with the Royal Game!

GM Andras Adorjan R.I.P.

This morning I learned from Chessbase ( about the death of GM András Adorján (1950-2023).

Photo: Juchapress (

The last part hit me hard because we shared the same birth year. Adorján was part of my generation.

Many of Adorjan’s games were studied because he played the Grunfeld defense. I played the Grunfeld because Bobby Fischer played the Grunfeld, just as I played the Najdorf Sicilian because it was what Bobby played. The reasoning must have been if it was good enough for Bobby it was good enough for me.

This game is given with the Chessbase article:

GM Andras Adorjan vs GM Robert Huebner
Event: Candidates qf2
Site: Bad Lauterberg Date: ??/??/1980
Round: 6 Score: 1-0
ECO: B16 Caro-Kann, Bronstein-Larsen variation
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 6.c3 Bf5 7.Ne2 Nd7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.h4 h6 10.h5 Bh7 11.Bd3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Qc7 13.Qf3 e6 14.Bf4 Qa5 15.O-O Qd5 16.Qe2 Bd6 17.Bxd6 Qxd6 18.Rad1 O-O-O 19.c4 Kb8 20.Ne4 Qc7 21.d5 f5 22.dxe6 fxe6 23.Nd6 Nc5 24.b4 Rxd6 25.bxc5 Rxd1 26.Rxd1 Re8 27.Rd6 Qe7 28.Qe5 Kc8 29.Rd3 Qf7 30.Qd6 f4 31.Qe5 Rf8 32.Rd6 Re8 33.Rd4 Qf5 34.Qxf5 exf5 35.Rd6 f3 36.Rxh6 fxg2 37.Rg6 Kd7 38.h6 Ke7 39.Rg7+ Kf6 40.Rxb7 a5 41.h7 Kg6 42.Kxg2 1-0

I was elated to see Stockfish plays 6…Qd5 because it eventually became my choice. contains 15 games with 10 h5, the most often played move, but the Stockfish program at shows 10 a4, which will be a Theoretical Novelty when played by a human.

11 Bd3 has been the most often played move, but again, Stockfish prefers 11 a4, yet another TN waiting to be played.

14…Bd6 should have been played.

Andras Adorjan vs Istvan Polgar
HUN-ch (1972), Budapest HUN
Alekhine Defense: Modern. Larsen-Haakert Variation (B04)

  1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 d6 5. c4 Nb6 6. exd6 cxd6 7. d5 Ne5 8. Nd4 Nexc4 9. a4 Ne5 10. Nc3 a5 11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. f4 Bxb5 13. fxe5 Bc4 14. e6 f6 15.b3 Ba6 16. Be3 g6 17. h4 h5 18. g4 Bh6 19. Qc2 f5 20. Bxh6 Rc8 21. Qd2 hxg4 22.Ndb5 Bxb5 23. axb5 g3 24. Bg7 Rh7 25. Bd4 Rh5 26. Qg5 Rxg5 27. hxg5 Nd7 28.Rh8+ Nf8 29. Bg7

The Match of All Time: The Inside Story of the Legendary 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Chess Championship in Reykjavik: A Review

The Match of All Time: The Inside Story of the Legendary 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, by Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson

is an excellent book, which is, however, marred by 64 pages devoted to three needless chapters. The first is a Prologue. The fourth chapter is entitled, Prologue to the match of 1972. The book would have been better if it had started with the fourth chapter. The second chapter is titled The Origins of Chess. Not one word concerning Greco, the father of modern Chess, can be found concerning the origins of Chess. When apprised of this fact, the Legendary Georgia Ironman replied, “Shame, shame, shame.”

The title of the third chapter is: World Chess Champions from unofficial to official. The reason for all these needless pages could be all the ‘newbies’ entering the world of Chess recently. Nevertheless, the book concerns the 1972 World Chess Championship, which would have been better served without a very short overview of the history of the World Chess Championship. There are sixty four pages to get through prior to actually getting to what Brian McCarthy would have called “the meat” of the book. ( Books attempting to serve two masters often serve neither. This book is an exception. The main part of the book is so good I forgot all about the chaff. Frankly, the book simply could not be put down.

On the second page of chapter 4, Prelude to the match of 1972, there was a copy of “Bobby Fischer writing about Tigran Petrosian at the start of the first game of the 1970 match Soviet Union vs. The Rest of the World.” In Bobby’s handwriting there is written, “He looked scared!”

Bobby Fischer writing about Tigran Petrosian at the start of the first game of the 1970 match Soviet Union vs. The Rest of the World: ‘He looked scared!’ David (

Like a freight train the book began picking up steam!

A few pages later there is a picture of GM Bent Larsen,

Bent Larsen was often referred to as ‘the great Dane’. (

whom I first met when working the wall boards at the Church’s Fried Chicken Chess tournament in San Antonio in 1972.

It is written, ‘He (Larsen) was asked: “How come you decide now at this stage in your studies to become a professional chess player?’ He answered,: ‘Denmark has many great engineers but only one good chess player.”

A few pages later one reads, “Demonstration boards had been put up for every game of the tournament and the young lads working the demo boards were busy transferring every move made to the boards.” Reading that caused me to smile, while remembering those wonderful days in San Antonio ‘working the boards’ half a century ago…

Anatoly Karpov and Bent Larsen in round 3 of Church’s Fried Chicken International Chess Tournament, November 21, 1972 (–580260733213601135/)

It continues, “As we were watching the positions a sign was put on a board showing the game between Raymond Keene

Back-cover inscription by Korchnoi on one of our copies of Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 by R. Keene (London, 1978).
In addition to writing ‘the traitor’, Korchnoi signed the title page. The book was obtained from Korchnoi
in Cape Town on 16 May 1979 by a collector of sports memorabilia. (

and Leonid Stein. A draw-the sign stated. Fischer’s face was transformed into utter disbelief, almost disgust. “This position is completely lost for Stein, that is the way they do it, offering draws in lost positions’, he said and walked out. The day after I drove him to the airport and on the way I asked him: ‘Are you sure that Stein’s position was lost.’ He then picked up the pocket chess he carried with him everywhere he went, put up the position and showed me a few moves. The he said: ‘Stein is without defence.’ Initially Fischer had looked at the position for only a few seconds.”

Raymond Keene vs Leonid Stein
Reykjavik (1972), Reykjavik ISL, Feb-??
Gruenfeld Defense: General (D80) · 1/2-1/2

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. e3 c5 8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. Nf3 Nc6 10. Be2 cxd4 11. exd4 Qa5 12. O-O Qxc3 13. Rc1 Qb4 14. Rb1 Qd6 15. Bg3 e5 16. Nxe5 Qxd4 1/2-1/2

A comparison of the two players, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, was made by the author that was striking: “They both opposed the inner workings of the society they were brought up. This was evident by their public statements. They were outspoken in political matters never hesitating to criticize ruling governments. At times they would disregard the advices of experienced trainers. In short, they both had at least a slight attitude problem. They both became fugitives from their homeland, the most bizarre aftermath of the match in Reykjavik.”

Bobby was a well-known night owl. It is written, “After midnight he would turn on the radio and, according to Eidinow and Edmonds in Bobby Fischer Goes To War, (A tremendously good book! AW). The Temptations

and The Four Tops

were among his favorite bands, but he also liked jazz and heavy-metal rock.” Bobby, my Man!

Was Bobby a genius?

“I once stated in a newspaper article that Fischer was a genius capable of being a recipient of the Nobel prize in any chosen field. Much later a reporter asked Fischer: ‘Are you a chess genius?’ Fischer answered: ‘I am a genius, but by the winds of fate I started to play chess.’

The Lady At The Bar

The author writes, “After a very long and difficult session on energy-prices I was in my hotel room near midnight, tried to go to sleep but without success…” “So I left my hotel room and headed straight to the bar and ordered a double cognac. At the bar there was a small gathering of people. A middle-aged woman approached me, sat by my side and asked: ‘Aren’t you this guy Mr. Thorarinsson.’ This surprised me-but not altogether. I had been asked the same question a few times in Kastrup and at some other airports…” I answered: ‘Yes.’ Then the new-found acquaintance said to me: ‘I want to give you an advice. I have worked as an interpreter in the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union in the attempts to restrain the arms race in strategic ballistic missiles with nuclear weapons. When the Soviets suggest or demand something you may never say no. If you do that you have terminated the meeting. You just always have to say: ‘Yes, but… I would really like to accept your proposal and I do agree on most of your points of view, but my circumstances are such that it is not entirely up to me.’

The author continues, “To me this advice sounded funny and I guess that I appeared thankful without giving her words too much thought.” This comes into play later. Diplomacy is so damn disingenuous. Can part of the problem be that diplomats do not say what they want, or needs to be said? The only Democratic POTUS spoken of fondly by my parents generation was Harry Truman, because he had a reputation of speaking frankly.

The Poisoned Pawn

“Some of the journalists who had been sent in haste to Iceland to cover the match did not know much about the game. An amusing incident happened in the Icelandic Chess Federation office when the match had finally got under way. A foreign journalist came in and told us that he had been sent to Iceland to cover the match: ‘My problem is that I do not even know how to play chess’, he said. ‘Can anyone teach me how to play the game?’ he asked. We arranged for a staff member to instruct him. When they sat down and our employee started to explain a few things, the journalist exclaimed: ‘Stop, Stop. Before we begin you must tell me which piece on the board is the poisoned pawn.’ Clearly, some people believed that a certain pawn was called the poisoned pawn. The news had been broken all over the world that in the endgame of the first game Fischer had captured a pawn on h2, but this bishop got locked in and was lost. This was reported as Fischer ‘capturing the poisoned pawn’. The incident was so well known that the journalist concluded that it was the first priority in his education to learn which pawn on the board was the poisoned pawn.”

Slater to the rescue

“Fischer received an unexpected offer on 3 July. A British multimillionaire by the name of James D. Slater

British multimillionaire James Slater knew that money can talk and offered to double the prize-fund. ‘Now come out and play, chicken.’ (

ordered to double the prize fund the Icelandic Chess Federation had guaranteed, i.e. add 50,000 pounds. He said: ‘Fischer jas said money is the problem. Well, here it is.’ Slater was aware of the dispute about the player’ share of the gate money, and decided to step in to solve matters. And Slater was quoted as saying: ‘Now come out and play, chicken.’ Slater was a renowned financial wizard who specialized in acquisitions of struggling companies to optimize the operation and then divest. England did not have a single grandmaster at this time, and by the end of the year Slater promised the first Briton who became an International Grandmaster, an incentive of 5000 pounds. In 1976 Anthony Miles won the Slater Prize.”

I could write all day and deep into the night about this magnificent book, but this must suffice, because it is, after all, only a review. The last part above ends on page 123. The book contains another one hundred magnificent pages.


A day after writing the above I perused the January 2023 issue of Chess ( magazine. The section, Off the Shelf, by Sean Marsh, contains a short review of the book, in which it is written, “In fact, the first 110 pages look at the origins of chess, the world champions and the prelude to the match, all of which provide valuable context.” To each his own. Mr. Marsh needlessly includes the fourth chapter, Prelude to the match of 1972 with the first three chapters. The book should have started with the fourth chapter. Nevertheless, the book was enjoyed immensely. In addition, the reader may want to check out: The Match of All Time: The Inside Story of the legendary 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, which was found at: ZOBOKO.COM (

Chessays: A Review, Part One

After reading an article at Chessbase, Chess – a waste of time?, by Frederic Friedel, published 2/13/2023, an order for the book, Chessays/Travels Through The World of Chess,

by Howard Burton,

along with a few others, was ordered from my Chess book go to guy, Greg Yanez, at Chess4Less ( When the book arrived it went to the top of the list as I stopped reading any of the other books being read to concentrate on Chessays.

Yesterday I discovered an article, The Societal Impact of Chess, Part 1: Introduction ( and suggest you read it after reading the review because the author, and film maker, talks about “Far Transfer,” which is the title of the sixth chapter. Chapter seven is entitled, “Farther Transfer,” with “Further Transfer” being the eighth, and final, chapter. The decision was made to truncate the review for two reasons. The first is that the review was already too long, and much time had to be spent cutting out some of the review, something I will admit to being loath to do. The other reason is that the final three chapters seemed to be rather esoteric. There is so much thought provoking material in the first five chapters the review will be presented in two parts. It has taken all of my wherewithal to not lead with the second part, which begins with chapter four.

One of the best features of the book is that here we have a ‘newbie’ to the world of Chess who is willing to write openly and honestly about how he perceives the world of Chess. Each and every person who has anything to do with governing the Royal Game should read this book, and maybe, depending on the individual, read it again. Anyone with an interest in Chess will appreciate this book. Although it is good enough to at least earn some nominations for Book of the Year award, many people in the Chess world will not like what the young man has to say. Nevertheless, anyone and everyone in the Chess community should at least be apprised of his thoughts concerning the world of Chess. From my over half a century of involvement with Chess it is apparent Chessays has about as much chance of being voted an award as a snowball has in hell.

The book begins with an introduction which contains this paragraph:

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to play chess, any more than I can remember a time when I didn’t know how to read, yet for most of my youth I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to either. As a child I was always much more interested in sports: street hockey or touch football or basketball.”

After reading the opening paragraph the book was put down as I sat, looking out the glass door to the outside world filled with greenery, and reflected… “That sounds like me,” I thought. Change the “street hockey” to “boxing” and it could be me. Include Baseball and it would be this writer, who was a twenty year old adult when first playing in a USCF tournament, where all six games were lost, I am sad, but honest enough to report…

In the introduction the writer informs the reader, “It was only in university that I had my first significant exposure to chess as a sport.”

That sentence made me cringe. Chess is most definitely not a “sport”. Chess is a GAME, just like any other board GAME. Baseball, basketball, and football (as in soccer; American “football” should be called “maim ball” for obvious reasons) are SPORTS. Bridge is a game, as are backgammon and poker. Dude comes into the Chess world (for various reasons which will be mentioned momentarily), plays a little, and assumes he has obtained enough knowledge to make proclamations about what is the definition of Chess…

He continues, “So I began to read about these mysterious openings, and much more besides, that my opponents all seemed so intimately familiar with.”

One of my high school English teachers, Mrs. Simpson, once returned something I had written that was covered in red ink, with many instances of my ending a sentence with a preposition. When queried about all the red circles after class ended she said, “It appears to me that you go out of your way to defy the rules of English grammar. You have as much chance of ever becoming a writer as a snowball has in HELL!” Well, as you can imagine, that stung.

The writer continues, “And the more I read, the more astounded I became: there was an enormous, simply overwhelmingly large, literature here – with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of books devoted to one opening variation, or a series of middlegame tactics, or endgame approaches, or what have you. It was astounding.”

Yes Mr. Burton, Chess can be astounding. One of the best things about the book is that Chess is being viewed objectively by someone new to the Royal Game. It is always good to learn how ‘newbies’ think about Chess because “fresh eyes” usually bring something interesting. We learn how he came to write about Chess when reading, “Decades later, I became fascinated by “the history of ideas,” tracing the subtle, shape-shifting development of key societal concepts over different times and places. I read books by intellectual historians methodically charting the notions of “freedom” and “genius” and “civil war” and found myself increasingly intrigued by how different human societies often managed to be both so similar and so different from our own.”

“One day I was idly thumbing through Baldassare Castiglione’s The Courtier, and came across the passage where chess is singled out as representing a dangerous drain on one’s time and energies, thereby making it “a most unusual thing” where “mediocrity is more to be praised than excellence.”

“It’s a very odd experience to suddenly feel yourself in complete lock step with a character from a 1528 book devoted to courtly Renaissance culture; and it made me think. Perhaps chess, I wondered, might make for a suitable topic of the sort of “intellectual history” I was personally suited to explore – not rigorous academic scholarship, of course, but simply getting a taste of our intriguing sociocultural evolution by looking through the lens of one particularly historically-rich activity: chess.”

The reader knows where the writer is coming from. (Sorry, Mrs Simpson)

Next we learn, “By then I had somehow become “a filmmaker,” so why not make a few films about that? Hence Through the Mirror of Chess-a four-part documentary series charting chess’s fascinating tale of cultural influence from its murky origins to the modern day.”

I have not watched any of the four-part film and have no intention of doing so because it costs digits, err, money, and there is so much free Chess material why should I spend my Senior digits to watch more films about Chess? I purchased the book, not with a view toward writing a review, but after reading about it at Chessbase in an excellent article concerning a book published months ago. (

Mr. Burton continues, “So there was that. But there was also something else. The more I read and researched the past and present worlds of chess, the more something else unexpected happened: I began to get opinions. And for me, at least, the best way to express opinions is through books.”

Or maybe a blog?!

The introduction concludes with these words: “And for those who do find themselves indignant and offended, the one way I respectfully suggest that you shouldn’t react is by launching some sort of reflexive, ad hominem salvo based on the fact that I have a pitifully low Elo rating or am not a FIDE executive, but rather by attacking the substance of my claims. I say this not because I am worried about anyone being angry with me (I am not), but because I’ve noticed that this is the sort of thing that chess players often do: viewing their entire world through the lens of a rigidly hierarchical framework so that the only voices they hear are from official members of the establishment. That is a dangerous practice for any domain, but particularly so when it come to chess, since so many of those voices conflate the interests of chess with their own self-image and are thus deeply deleterious to chess itself. Well, that’s my opinion, anyway.”

The first chapter is entitled: The Uses and Abuses of History. It begins, “Enthusiasts sometimes like to point out that one of the things that makes chess special is its exceptionally broad appeal to a wide range of different interests and inclinations.”

“Having played many other board games, such as Backgammon, Go, and Poker, I find it strange that only Chess aficionados consider Chess “special.” The idea has been promulgated to the point many, if not most, Chessplayers consider it a fait accompli. Consider this paragraph: “But however diverse these activities might be, there is one common characteristic of any self-proclaimed chess aficionado: a deep and abiding respect for “chess history” and an unquenchable pride in the game’s storied past.”

I like history, and enjoy reading about the history of the Royal Game, but I must disagree with what was written above. After having interacted and talked with countless Chess “aficionados” the fact is that many could care less about what happened previously because they are much more concerned with what is happening now. I recall talking with an exceptional budding young player at the House of Pain who said, “Why should I study those old farts who played so weakly? I’d rather spend my time replaying current games played by today’s players who are far stronger than those from way back then.” I remember thinking, “Wow, it seems like only yesterday Bobby Fischer was revered. Now the young’uns consider him a chumpy-lumpy.” That thought was prior to my saying, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you know where you are going, kid?” That brought hardy laughter from resident curmudgeon Bob Bassett, who said, after he managed to stop laughing, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I was the one howling after the young spud asked, “What does that mean?” I mention this before writing the following sentence/paragraph: “Normally, I take this characteristic indifference as my starting point to launch into a full-throated tirade against the vapidity of the media or the woeful incuriousness of our time, but in this case the situation is even worse still, because it clearly demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of self-proclaimed “chess historians” simply can’t trouble themselves to take the most obvious preliminary steps to contact actual specialists to verify essential aspects of their “theories.”

To give equal time to the other side the author again gives another sentence/paragraph: “During my investigations, I have also encountered several anti-chess historians, self-proclaimed history of games types who were so overwhelmingly antagonized by what they saw as the grossly unjustified dominance of chess in the broader games history landscape that the very idea that I was willfully engaged in producing a detailed exploration of the history of chess was enough to send them into fits of blind rage.”

Do tell…

We will conclude with the first chapter with a two sentence paragraph followed by another long sentence/paragraph: “Chess, in other words, is acknowledged to be an activity that demands highly specialized skills honed by years of dedicated effort. But history, goes the thinking, is somehow something that anyone can do.”

“So when Russian grandmaster Yuri Averbakh opted to publish his own vapid and trivialized account of the game’s past, A History of Chess: From Chaturanga to the Present Day,

his efforts were widely applauded by “the chess community” because, well, Averbakh was a personable and celebrated chess player who wrote many highly-respected books on chess theory; and, after all, you can’t have too many books on the history of chess.”

Or too many Chess books filled with “Chessays” too, I suppose…

The second chapter poses the question, (Is Chess a) Waste of Time? A good question which caused me to wonder if reading the book was going be a waste of my time… The author writes, “If chess were a far easier game-if it was like checkers or reversi or mancala or something- (there is the number 10 referring to a footnote at the bottom of the page where it is written, “This is precisely the sort of statement that will drive one of those passionate anti-chess mancala fanatics I mentioned in the previous essay right over the edge.

But then they were there already.) – things would be different indeed. Nobody devotes her life to studying backgammon.”

Whoa now, dude. First, when any writer uses “her” in lieu of “he” it grates like someone scratching the blackboard with their fingernails. When a writer, any writer, swaps “her” for “him” it appears the writer is singling out only females, as in females being the ones not devoting their lives to ‘studying backgammon’, which is ridiculous, and untrue. When Gammons first opened in the Buckhead part of Atlanta one of the top players was a woman named Kathy, from Chicago, and she had devoted her time to learning, and playing Backgammon as a professional. If, on the other hand, the writer was only being “politically correct” he was not. If one is to assume the writer used the gender specific word intentionally rather than the gender neutral “him” then he is wrong, and it can be proven by anyone typing in the words “Bill Robertie” into any search engine. This can be found at Wikipedia: “William Gerard (Bill) Robertie (born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States on July 9, 1946) is a backgammon, chess, and poker player and author. He is one of several (6 as of 2022) backgammon players to have won the World Backgammon Championship twice (in 1983 and in 1987).” Bill Robertie ( is the refutation to the writer’s erroneous and ridiculous statement.

Turn the page and one finds, “This profound complexity is a fundamental aspect of what make chess chess.”

What makes chess chess? The game of Go, or Wei Chi, is exponentially and profoundly more complex that is Chess. Is that what makes Go Go?

“Which brings us to the intriguing case of Albert Einstein and Emanuel Lasker.

Many consider Lasker to be the most dominant chess player in history, given his 27-year reign as world champion from 1894 to 1921. He was also a mathematician, who in 1905 developed a theorem in algebraic geometry which significantly influenced no less a figure than Emmy Noether.”

1905 is an ironic date for Lasker’s most important mathematical work, because it was also Einstein’s annu mirabilis, where he published, among various other profoundly transformative ideas, his theory of special relativity-ironic, not so much because Einstein and Lasker later became friends during his time in Berlin, but because Lasker later famously contributed to the ridiculous anti-Einsteinian 1931 screed, One Hundred Authors Against Einstein.”

“Why, in Einstein’s view, hadn’t Lasker done more to achieve his wondrous human potential? Well, Einstein surmises, because of chess:

“Spinoza’s material existence and independence were based on the grinding of lenses; chess had an analogous role in Lasker’s life. But Spinoza

was granted a better fate, because his occupation left his mind free and untroubled, while on the other hand, the chess playing of a master ties him to the game, fetters his mind and shapes it to a certain extent so that his internal freedom and ease, no matter how strong he is, must inevitably be affected.”

The author continues: “What is most interesting to me about all of this is not so much that I’m convinced that Einstein was right and that the act of focusing one’s attention on the most profound conceptual issues imaginable is the most judicious use of one’s brief time on the planet (Footnote #30: “Although, of course, he was and it is.” I could hear my former English teacher, Ms. Simpson, asking, “He was ‘what’, and ‘what’ is ‘it’?”)

Chapter 3: Evolutionary Forces

The reader is informed by the writer, “Personally, I’m unconvinced that those 19th-century players were as indifferent to winning and losing as is now generally supposed, but there is no doubt that times have changed considerably: for better or worse chess is now a fully-fledged sport.”

There he goes again…

And again: “Of course, chess is far from the only activity to move from the domain of friendly, “gentlemanly” competition to cutthroat professional sport over the past 150 years or so, as juxtaposing Pierre de Coubertin’s

writings with modern-day attitudes will immediately reveal, but its distinct lack of any physical component makes it a particularly vivid measure of to what extent our sporting culture has evolved.”

And again: “Chess, in short, has emphatically made the transition from game to sport-which is the major reason, I believe that it is Fischer and not Morphy who best represents the modern archetype of the American chess player.”

“But intriguingly, many pastimes have not made this jump to the modern sporting realm. In particular, duplicate bridge, the primary target of Johan Huizinga’s over-professionalization ire, you will recall, ( still very much remains mired in the milieu of games, along with the likes of backgammon and Mahjong.”

“More revealing still, radically new forms of non-physical competition have recently sprouted up that are unhesitatingly viewed as sports-so much so, in fact that their very development has occasioned the creation of a new word to appropriately describe them: esports.”

“So what’s going on? What, in the modern age, distinguishes a sport from a game?”

Now the author finally comes to the crux of the matter:

“Well, I don’t pretend to know, of course, but you may recall from several pages ago that I have a theory. Here it is.”

You must read the book to read about his “theory.” Frankly, I do not know if the writer is full of excrement, but I have a theory…

After many pages devoted to explaining his ‘theory’ the reader finds this:

“When it comes to chess, the first thing to say is simply that, as previously noted, for better or worse, the Fischer worldview has unequivocally demolished the Morphy one: modern chess ticks all the contemporary sporting requirements and is no longer regarded by either its advocates or detractors as “a relaxation from the severer pursuits of life, whose battles are fought for no prize but honor.” It’s not at all certain whether or not the majority of Morphy’s contemporaries subscribed to such a characterization back in the 1850s, but it’s patently obvious that nobody believes it today.”

Do tell…

“The dust has settled, and chess is now a sport and not a game.”

At least in the author’s mind…

“A further point worth mentioning is that chess is hardly the only “old fashioned” game to make the modern sporting transition. The most obvious example is poker, which decidedly satisfies all of the above-mentioned criteria and is thus now near-universally recognized as a sport.”

Really? I asked several Chess players who also play, or have played, poker, if they thought poker could be considered a “sport.” One fellow caused me to laugh uproariously when he answered, “Sport? How the hell can anything done while sitting on one’s ass be considered a “sport?”

End Part One

GM Korobov Loses Beautifully

In the seventh round of the recently completed European Championships GM Anton Korobov,

Anton Korobov is the only player on 5/5 | photo: EICC2023

of Ukraine, faced underdog IM Stamatis Kourkoulos-Arditis.

Both players had won five games and drawn one, and were tied for first place. Although Korobov built an advantage during the opening phase of the game he let it slip and after playing his 19th move the game was equal. Then Koukou pushed the g-pawn in lieu of taking the pawn with 19…gxf4, opening lines to Korobov’s king, and the battle raged until Koukou blundered with his 37th move and was ground down by Korobov.

Korobov, Anton (2658) – Kourkoulos-Arditis, Stamatis (2520)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 a6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bg5 Be6 7.e3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 c6 9.h3 Bd6 10.Bf4 Qc7 11.Qd2 h6 12.O-O g5 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.Nh2 Rg8 15.Ne2 Ne4 16.Qe1 O-O-O 17.f3 Nef6 18.Rc1 Kb8 19.f4 g4 20.f5 gxh3 21.g3 Nh5 22.Rf3 Rg5 23.fxe6 fxe6 24.Nf4 Rdg8 25.Nxh5 Rxh5 26.g4 Rhg5 27.Qg3 e5 28.Rf5 h5 29.Rxg5 Rxg5 30.Rf1 hxg4 31.Rf5 Rg8 32.dxe5 Qe6 33.b3 Ka7 34.Bc2 Qe7 35.Nxg4 Qb4 36.Rf4 Qc3 37.e6 Ne5 38.Bf5 d4 39.Rxd4 Qa1+ 40.Kh2 Qxa2+ 41.Kh1 Qa1+ 42.Qg1 Qxg1+ 43.Kxg1 Nf3+ 44.Kh1 Nxd4 45.exd4 a5 46.Kh2 b5 47.Kxh3 a4 48.bxa4 bxa4 49.Nf6 Rg7 50.Bb1 Ka6 51.d5 cxd5 52.Nxd5 Kb5 53.e7 Rg8 54.Ba2 Kc5 55.Nf6 Ra8 56.e8=Q Rxe8 57.Nxe8 Kd4 58.Nd6 Kc3 59.Nc4 1-0

The win obviously left Korobov in the catbird seat, a half point in front of the large field. The situation was even better for Korobov because he again had white in the next, eight round. How did Korobov respond?

Korobov, Anton (2658) – Gledura, Benjamin (2637)

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 Bf5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Nc3 e6 7.Qb3 Qc7 8.Bd2 1/2-1/2

You know what seeing this non-game made me think…

In in the same position would Bobby Fischer have agreed to a draw in the above game?

Certainly not, because Bobby came to BEAT YOU! Bobby PLAYED TO WIN! After the insult to Caissa Korobov would have to play with the black pieces in the next two games:

Alexey Sarana, (2668) vs Anton Korobov (2658)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 c5 5.Bxb4 cxb4 6.e3 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.Nbd2 O-O 9.O-O a5 10.Re1 d6 11.e4 Nc6 12.Nf1 e5 13.Bc2 Rc8 14.Rc1 g6 15.Ba4 Qe7 16.Ne3 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 exd4 18.Qxd4 Nxe4 19.Ng4 Qg5 20.Bd7 Rc5 21.Rcd1 h5 22.Rxe4 hxg4 23.Rxg4 Qe5 24.Qxd6 Qxd6 25.Rxd6 Rd8 26.Rgd4 Kf8 27.Bb5 Rxd6 28.Rxd6 Be4 29.Rxb6 Bd3 30.Rb8+ Ke7 31.b3 Bb1 32.Ba4 Re5 33.f4 Re1+ 34.Kf2 Rc1 35.Re8+ Kd6 36.Re1 Rc2+ 37.Re2 Rc3 38.Rd2+ Kc5 39.Be8 f6 40.Rd5+ Kb6 41.Rd6+ Kc5 42.Rd5+ Kb6 43.Rd2 Kc5 44.h4 Be4 45.f5 gxf5 46.h5 a4 47.Bxa4 f4 48.Re2 Bxg2 49.Bd7 Bf3 50.h6 Bxe2 51.h7 Rc2 52.h8=Q Bg4+ 53.Ke1 Rc1+ 54.Kd2 Rd1+ 55.Kc2 Rxd7 56.Qxf6 Bd1+ 57.Kc1 1-0

GM Valentin Dragnev (2561) vs GM Anton Korobov (2658)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 Be6 9.g4 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Bg2 Nxe3 12.Qxd8+ Bxd8 13.fxe3 Bh4+ 14.Kf1 Nc6 15.Nc5 Bc4+ 16.Kg1 O-O-O 17.b3 Bg5 18.Re1 Bh4 19.Rb1 Bg5 20.Re1 Bh4 1/2-1/2

The draw put Korobov into a third place tie with a dozen other players with one round left to play.

Bd 5
Anton Korobov (2658) vs Daniel Dardha (2610)

  1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 Bc5 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nge2 Nc6 6. O-O a5 7. h3 Nd4 8. d3 c6 9. Kh2 d5 10. exd5 cxd5 11. f4 Re8 12. Nxd4 Bxd4 13. Nb5 Bb6 14. fxe5 Rxe5 15. d4 Re6 16. Bg5 Bd7 17. a4 h6 18. Bxf6 Rxf6 19. c3 Bc6 20. Qh5 Rxf1 21. Rxf1 Qd7 22. Re1 g6 23. Qxh6 Re8 24. Rxe8+ Qxe8 25. h4 Qe2 26. Qf4 Bxb5 27. axb5 Qxb5 28. Qb8+ Kg7 29. Qe5+ Kg8 30. Kh3 Qd7+ 31. g4 Bc7 32. Qxd5 Qe7 33. Be4 Qf6 34. Kg2 Qxh4 35. Kf1 Qxg4 36. Qxb7 Qd1+ 37. Kf2 Qd2+ 38. Kf3 Bf4 39. Bxg6 Qe3+ 40. Kg2 0-1

1.e4 e5 2. Nc3 (This move makes it a C25 Vienna game) 2…Nf6 (Now it becomes a C26 Vienna, Falkbeer variation, I was surprised to see the SF program at will play 2…Bc5, the third choice of human players at, with 1546 games in the database. Contrast that with the move played in the game, which shows 11723 games. In between there is 2…Nc6 with 4621 games. ‘Back in the day’ 2…Nf6 was about the only move faced in any kind of play, and the Vienna was in my opening “database” back then, only no one called it a “database.” It was called a “brain.”) 3. g3 (This was the only move I ever played in this position. The first choice of we humans has been 3 f4 (4169), with 3 Bc4 (3561), followed by the game move (2849). The choice of SF, 3 Nf3, comes next, with 2673 games showing) 3…Bc5 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nge2 Nc6 (SF prefers 5…c6) 6 0-0 (SF shows 6 Na4, followed by 6…Be7, followed by 7 Nac3 Bc5 before showing 8 0-0. Although the extra moves may help later it also allows a triple repetition and an early end of the game. If you have no awareness of the Ko rule in the great game of Go, or Wei Chi, depending, then please educate yourself and you will question why Chess has such a ridiculous rule) 6…a5 7 h3 (A Stock of Fish were not needed to know this move is premature; he should have first played 7 d3) 7…Nd4 (SF would play 7…Re8) 8 d3 (I was shocked by this move. 8 Nxd4 was expected) 8…8. d3 c6 9. Kh2 (Nxd4) 9…d5 (Re8) 10. exd5 cxd5 11. f4 (? ) I can, unfortunately, tell you from personal experience things will go downhill from here for Korobov. When you do not play to WIN, you LOSE.

Paul Motwani (2455) vs Mahmood Lodhi, (2425)
Event: Manila ol (Men)
Site: Manila Date: ??/??/1992
Round: ? Score: 1-0
ECO: C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.Nge2 O-O 6.O-O a5 7.h3 d6 8.Kh2 Ne8 9.f4 f6 10.Nd5 Be6 11.c3 Ba7 12.d4 Qd7 13.Ne3 Ne7 14.g4 exf4 15.Nxf4 Bf7 16.Nf5 Ng6 17.Nh5 Kh8 18.g5 Bc4 19.Rf3 fxg5 20.Bxg5 Be6 21.Nh4 Rxf3 22.Qxf3 Nxh4 23.Bxh4 Qf7 24.Nf4 Kg8 25.Nxe6 Qxe6 26.Rf1 h6 27.e5 d5 28.Qxd5 Qxd5 29.Bxd5+ Kh7 30.Bxb7 Rb8 31.Be4+ Kg8 32.Be7 g5 33.Rf8+ Kg7 34.b3 c5 35.d5 Nc7 36.d6 Ne6 37.Rf6 Nf8 38.d7 1-0

B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Lipnitzky attack

‘Back in the day’ the Najdorf variation with 6 Bc4 was called the “Sozin” variation, which was a favorite of Bobby Fischer.

Position after 6 Bc4

Times change and names change, but it is still called the “Bobby Fischer” variation by most players, but there are exceptions:

Stockfish vs Stockfish

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Qc7 8. Qe2 Be7 9. a4 O-O 10. a5 Nbd7 11. Bd3 Ne5 12. f4 Nxd3 13. cxd3 b5 14. axb6 Qxb6 15. Be3 Qb7 16. g4 e5 17. Nf5 Bxf5 18. gxf5 Rfb8 19. Rf2 Bd8 20. Rg2 Bb6 21. fxe5 dxe5 22. Kh1 Kh8 23. Bg5 Bd4 24. Bxf6 gxf6 25. Qh5 Rg8 26. Rxg8+ Rxg8 27. Qh6 Qxb2 28. Qxf6+ Rg7 29. Qd8+ Rg8 30. Qf6+ 1/2-1/2

Prior to beginning this series I wonder what type player would feature prominently in coming closest to playing as many moves played by the Stockfish program used at Please note one of the following players was unrated at the time the game was played. What makes this game so remarkable is that it was drawn!

Sam Jay Orton vs Paul Obiamiwe (2065)
Event: BCF-ch 87th
Site: Millfield Date: 08/08/2000
Round: 8 Score: ½-½
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Lipnitzky attack
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.O-O Qc7 8.Qe2 Be7 9.a4 O-O 10.Be3 b6 11.Rad1 Nc6 12.Kh1 Ne5 13.Bb3 Bb7 14.Bc1 Rac8 15.f3 Nc4 16.g4 Rfe8 17.h4 d5 18.Bxc4 dxc4 19.Qg2 Red8 20.Be3 Ne8 21.g5 g6 22.Qg4 Ng7 23.Nde2 Nh5 24.Nf4 Nxf4 25.Bxf4 Qc5 26.h5 b5 27.hxg6 hxg6 28.Kg2 Bf8 29.axb5 axb5 30.Qg3 Bg7 31.Bd6 Rxd6 32.Qxd6 Qxg5+ 33.Qg3 Qc5 34.Qd6 Qg5+ 35.Qg3 Qc5 36.Qd6 ½-½

The Najdorf with 6 Bg5

This is the second part of an ongoing look at what Stockfish “thinks” of the legendary Najdorf variation. Part one was published a few daze ago (, with a focus on the move Stockfish considers best for white against the Najdorf system, 6 f3. shows a total of twenty seven different moves having been played by those with the white pieces against the Najdorf. The most often played move by humans has been 6 Bg5, and it has been played in 20,902 games. I utilized the 365Chess database because it includes games by everyone regardless of rating. The first game score you see emanate from the fertile algorithms of Stockfish vs Stockfish. The game most closely matching the moves of Stockfish follows.

This game was ‘contested’ by the Stockfish program on 2/20/23:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 h6 8. Bh4 Qb6 9. a3 Nc6 10. Bf2 Qc7 11. Qf3 e5 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. fxe5 Ng4 14. Bg3 Nxe5 15. Bxe5 dxe5 16. Bc4 Bc5 17. Rf1 O-O 18. O-O-O Qe7 19. Kb1 Rb8 20. Ka2 Be6 21. Bxe6 Qxe6+ 22. b3 Bd4 23. Na4 c5 24. Qe2 c4 25. Qxc4 Qxc4 26. bxc4 Rfc8 27. Rb1 Rxb1 28. Rxb1 Rxc4 29. Rb8+ Kh7 30. Kb3 Rc7 31. c3 Bg1 32. c4 h5 33. h3 h4 34. Kb4 Kg6 35. Re8 Rb7+ 36. Ka5 Rc7 37. Kb4 1/2-1/2

Eline Roebers (2344) vs Evgeny Zanan (2521)
Event: Serbia Open 2022
Site: Novi Sad SRB Date: 07/01/2022
Round: 4.28 Score: 0-1
ECO: B96 Sicilian, Najdorf, 7.f4
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Qb6 9.a3 Nc6 10.Bf2 Qc7 11.Qf3 e5 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.f5 d5 14.O-O-O d4 15.Nb1 c5 16.Nd2 Bb7 17.Bc4 h5 18.g3 Be7 19.Kb1 Ng4 20.Bd3 c4 21.Nxc4 Nxf2 22.Qxf2 Rh6 23.Rhg1 a5 24.a4 Ba6 25.Qe2 Rb8 26.b3 Rc6 27.Nb2 Bxd3 28.Rxd3 Rc8 29.Rg2 Bb4 30.Nd1 Rc5 31.g4 Qb7 32.c4 dxc3 33.Qc2 Qxe4 34.Ne3 Qf4 35.f6 Qxf6 36.Rf2 Qg6 37.gxh5 Qxh5 38.Nf5 Kf8 39.Rd7 R5c7 40.Qd3 Qg5 41.Rxc7 Rxc7 42.Kc2 g6 43.Ne3 Bc5 44.Rf3 Bxe3 45.Rxe3 Kg7 46.Re2 Rc5 47.Rf2 Qe7 48.Qg3 Qb7 49.Qh4 f5 50.Re2 e4 51.Qg5 Qd7 52.Rg2 Rc6 53.h4 Qd3+ 54.Kc1 Qd6 55.h5 Qa3+ 56.Kd1 Qxb3+ 57.Ke1 Qb1+ 58.Kf2 e3+ 59.Kg3 Qe4 60.h6+ Kh7 61.Qd8 Qe5+ 62.Kh3 Qc7 0-1

For more information on the man behind the video see (

Seventh Move Novelty In The Najdorf

‘Back in the day’ I was known for playing The Najdorf. It was my main defense to the king pawn move because the opening was played by Bobby Fischer. With this in mind it will come as no surprise to learn I have been a fan of the Frenchman, MVL, aka Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, because he has been todaze leading exponent of The Najdorf. It was surprising to learn the “M” did not stand for “Miguel.”

For some time consideration has been given to imputing each opening move versus The Najdorf into the Stockfish program at in order to learn how the program replies to each of the over two dozen different opening moves that have been attempted. ‘Back in the day’ it was de rigueur to reach the Najdorf by playing 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6. Stockfish differs when playing 3 Nc3, as can be seen below. The Stockfish program at preferred 6 f3, so it was the first move put into the machine…

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. f3 e6 (The most often played move has been 6…e5, but the Fish prefers moving the pawn only one square) 7. a3

Position after 7 a3

According to a dozen different seventh moves have been played here, none of which is the move produced by Stockfish! This makes the seventh move a theoretical novelty, which can only be described as amazing…

7…Nc6 8. Be3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 exd5 11. Qd2 Bd6 12. O-O-O O-O 13. g4 Re8 14. Kb1 Qf6 15. g5 Qe5 16. Bf2 Qf4 17. Qxf4 Bxf4 18. h4 Be3 19. Re1 Nxd4 20. Rxe3 Rxe3 21. Bxe3 Nc6 22. Rh2 d4 23. Bf4 Bf5 24. b3 d3 25. cxd3 Nd4 26. Kb2 Be6 27. Rf2 Nxb3 28. Rc2 Nd4 29. Rc7 b5 30. h5 Bf5 31. Be3 Nxf3 32. h6 Rc8 33. Ra7 gxh6 34. gxh6 f6 35. Rxa6 Kf7 36. Ra7+ Ke6 37. d4 Kd5 38. Bxb5 Rc2+ 39. Kb3 Nxd4+ 40. Bxd4 Kxd4 41. a4 Rh2 42. Kb4 Rxh6 43. a5 Rh2 44. a6 Bc8 45. Rf7 Bxa6 46. Bxa6 Rb2+ 47. Ka3 Rb6 48. Bc8 h5 49. Ka4 Rc6 50. Bh3 Rc4+ 51. Kb5 Rc3 52. Bd7 Rf3 53. Kb6 f5 54. Rxf5 Rxf5 55. Bxf5 h4 and I called it a draw.

Psycho Chess Cat

The Chess World’s New Villain: A Cat Named Mittens
A ruthless bot with an innocuous avatar is driving chess players crazy

By Andrew Beaton and Joshua Robinson
Jan. 18, 2023

The heels of the chess world have included Soviet grandmasters, alleged cheaters, and faceless supercomputers. But the game’s latest villain is a fearsome genius who quotes French cinema and has played millions of games in just a couple of weeks.

She also happens to be a mean cat.

Mittens—or technically the chess bot known as Mittens—might look cute. Her listed chess rating of a single point seems innocuous. But her play over the past few weeks, which has bedeviled regular pawn-pushers, grandmasters, and champions who could play for the world title, is downright terrifying. And as it turns out, people are gluttons for punishment.

Since introduced this bot with the avatar of a cuddly, big-eyed kitten on Jan. 1, the obsession with playing her has been astonishing. Mittens has crashed the website through its sheer popularity and helped drive more people to play chess than even “The Queen’s Gambit.” has averaged 27.5 million games played per day in January and is on track for more than 850 million games this month—40% more than any month in the company’s history. A video that American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura posted to YouTube titled “Mittens The Chess Bot Will Make You Quit Chess” has already racked up more than three million views.

“This bot is a psycho,” the streamer and International Master Levy Rozman tweeted after a vicious checkmate this month. A day later, he added, “The chess world has to unite against Mittens.” He was joking, mostly.

Mittens is a meme, a piece of artificial intelligence and a super grandmaster who also happens to reflect the broader evolution in modern chess. The game is no longer old, stuffy and dominated by theoretical conversations about different lines of a d5 opening. It’s young, buzzy and proof that cats still rule the internet.

The past few months have seen yet another surge in the worldwide appeal of chess. The viral image from the World Cup was a Louis Vuitton advertisement showing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi poring over a board.

The picture that summed up the college football national championship was of a TCU fan playing chess on her phone in the stadium while the Horned Frogs got demolished by Georgia. When Slovenian NBA superstar Luka Doncic was asked for his thoughts about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, he shrugged it off and said he uses his phone to play chess.

None of those moments have driven people to virtual chess boards quite like a cat named Mittens who likes to taunt her opponents while she destroys them.

“I am inevitable. I am forever. Meow. Hehehehe,” Mittens tells her opponents in the chat function of games., the popular platform where both grandmasters and millions of everyday chess lovers play, has a number of bots ranging in skill level and styles for users to challenge. Some are designed to play poorly and be beatable even by a crummy player. Others, in an age when the computers dominate humans, can topple the chess elite.

This particular bot was the brainchild of a Hamilton College student named Will Whalen who moonlights as a creative strategy lead. He had a crazy idea. What if they put an incredibly strong bot behind some devastatingly cute eyes?

“Then Mittens was born,” Whalen says.

But Mittens didn’t become a brutal troll until a writer named Sean Becker led a team that developed Mittens’s personality to become the evil genius tormenting chess players everywhere. Part of why Mittens has become such a notorious villain is because she acts like one.

Mittens doesn’t purr. She references ominous lines from Robert Oppenheimer, Van Gogh, and even a 1960s Franco-Italian film called “Le Samourai.”

“Meow. Gaze into the long abyss. Hehehehe,” Mittens says, quoting German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Even her approach to the game is menacing. Mittens is designed to be skillful enough to beat the best chess players on the planet but uses particularly grueling tactics. Becker thought it would be “way more demoralizing and funny” if, instead of simply smashing opponents, Mittens grinded down opponents through painstaking positional battles, similar to the tactics Russian grandmaster Anatoly Karpov used to become world champion.

It hasn’t been difficult for Becker to see the reactions to his masterpiece. Nakamura, who could manage only a draw against Mittens, bluntly said in a video, “This cat is extremely patient, which is kind of annoying. I’m not going to lie.”

Becker has also seen it when he rides the subway and notices someone on their phone getting crushed by Mittens.

“You can see their eyes be kind of afraid,” Becker says.

Getting absolutely creamed by Mittens might get old. But her surprising popularity speaks to an underlying current in the chess world as freshly minted fans flow in: People are endlessly curious about new ways to engage with the ancient game. Facing novelty bots is just one of them. There has also been a new wave of interest in previously obscure chess variants.

Chess960, for instance, is a version of the game where all the non-pawn pieces are lined up in random order on the back rank. Also known as Fischer Random, for its inventor Bobby Fischer, it has gained traction among elite players as a high-purity test of chess skill and vision, because the random setup makes openings nearly impossible to prepare ahead of time.

In an unprecedented move, chess world governing body FIDE recognized Chess960 and gave it a world championship in 2019. The tournament was closely watched in 2022 when the final featured two of the best players on the planet: Nakamura and Ian Nepomniachtchi, the runner-up at the 2021 world championship of normal chess. (World champion Magnus Carlsen finished third.)

Other variants include: “Fog of War,” where players have a limited view of their opponents’ pieces; “Bughouse Chess,” which is played across two boards with captured pieces potentially moving from one to the other; and “Three Check,” where the objective is simply to put the opposing king in check three times.

The wackiest of all is the chess variant known as Duck Chess. It looks mostly like regular chess—64 squares and 32 pieces. But it also has one rubber ducky on the board.

After every move in Duck Chess, the player moves the titular object to a new square of the board where it blocks pieces in its path. Good luck moving your bishop when there’s a duck squatting on its diagonal.

There are also other cat bots. One is Mr. Grumpers. Another is Catspurrov, which bears a curious resemblance to former world champion Garry Kasparov. None have become a sensation quite like the chess terrorist called Mittens.

“While I still think chess is a symbol of the highest level of strategic thinking,” said chief chess officer Danny Rensch, “it’s also a game that is just incredibly fun and enjoyable.”

Just not when you play Mittens.

Write to Andrew Beaton at and Joshua Robinson at

Appeared in the January 19, 2023, print edition as ‘Chess World’s New Villain: A Cat Named Mittens’.