World Chess Championship Candidates Biorhythms

I have previously written about biorhythms on this blog in a post titled, End The World Chess Championship Match NOW! (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/12/08/10063/) If you surf on over you will find this: “Below you will find the biorhythm of Nepo, who is in a triple low period approaching the bottom, where he will remain for the next week. Nepo’s biorhythms are about as bad as it gets, biorhythm wise.” If any member of the Russian ‘team’ had bothered to check Nepo’s biorhythms prior to signing the agreement to play the match they would not have allowed their man to play during such an adverse time, at least in regard to his biorhythms.

For those new to the blog, or new to biorhythms, the father of the love of my life was a Senior VP at one of the largest banks in Georgia. He gave me a book about biorhythms by Bernard Gittelson:

Kasutatud raamatud, Vanaraamat, teema: Eneseabi, psühholoogia …
vanaraamat.ee

He brought it to my attention because it featured the biorhythms of Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky during the 1972 match for the World Chess Championship.

https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/spasskyfischer.html

It was learned the Japanese take it very seriously, seriously enough to not allow pilots or bus drivers to work when having a physical critical day. After so doing the accident rate fell dramatically.

I once posted something about biorhythms on the United States Chess Federation forum for which I was excoriated unmercifully by the ignorant, nattering nabobs of negativism. One called it a “pseudo-science.” None of the nabobs knew anything about biorhythms, and were too lazy, or ignorant, to check into biorhythms, yet they were ready to condemn this writer for even bringing it to their attention.

From what has been learned over the last half century the most pronounced aspect of biorhythms is the physical aspect. Every two weeks a human body changes, going from a high to low phase, or low to high phase. Your body cleans itself and you began the new phase. From my experience changing from the high phase to the low phase is not a good day. Transitioning from a low to high phase is usually not as bad a day, but still, one can feel “out of sorts” or maybe feel “out of phase.” On the days one transitions from high to low physically it is best to stay home.

It is terribly difficult to quantify the intellectual and emotional aspects of biorhythms. It can be made more understandable if one keeps a record of how one feels each and every day and reviews it later. From a lifetime of following my biorhythms I have come to think of the emotional aspect as being different from the other two aspects because it seems better to be emotionally ‘low’ than ‘high’. Think of it as being “low key” as opposed to “high strung.” The thing about the emotional aspect is that if your long loving wife were to inform you she wants a divorce, it matters not where you are in relation to your emotional biorhythms. Whether on top of the world, or bottomed out, one would immediately have a bad day, unless, that is, you, too, were ready to end the relationship.

The biorhythms of the eight players follow. I considered writing a post prior to the start of the Candidates tournament, but changed my mind. After seeing such horrendous play during the first part of the tournament my thinking changed. The physical aspect is the blue line; red is emotional; and green designates the intellectual aspect of biorhythms. For those of you interested, and objective, enough to want to know more, please begin with the aforementioned blog post written during the ill-fated World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepo. I chose to use the date of June 26, two days from now, as the mid-point because it is the day the second half of the match begins. Rather than attempting an explanation for each of the players I have made the choice to let you review the material and come to your own conclusion(s), with one caveat. After reviewing each and every biorhythm of the players prior to the start of the tournament it was obvious Fabiano Caruana would have the best chart of the group, and therefore the best odds of winning the tournament. After comparing the charts of the players I believe even the “nattering nabobs” would be forced to agree with the statement that Caruana will again face Magnus Carlsen with the title of World Champion on the line, if, that is, Magnus decides to again defend his title.

Nepo slapp naumlega á móti Nakamura – efstur eftir 5 umferðir | Skak.is
skak.is
Ian Nepomniachtchi (born 14 July 1990)
Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Fabiano Luigi Caruana (born July 30, 1992)
Hikaru Nakamura, photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage
Hikaru Nakamura (born December 9, 1987)
Magnus on Richard Rapport: “His understanding of the game is just superb” | photo: Stev Bonhage, FIDE
Richard Rapport (born 25 March 1996)
An excellent game by Ding Liren. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Ding Liren (born 24 October 1992)
Pierwsza porażka Jana-Krzysztofa Dudy w turnieju kandydatów
flashsport.pl
Jan-Krzysztof Duda (born 26 April 1998)
A huge missed chance to score for Teimour Radjabov, photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage
Teimour Radjabov (born 12 March 1987)
Firouzja and Caruana before their game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Alireza Firouzja (born 18 June 2003)

IM Stuart Rachels Was The Best Alabama Saw In Chess

From prodigy to champion, Stuart Rachels was the best Alabama saw in chess

A young Stuart Rachels looks at a chess board. (Courtesy of Stuart Rachels)

by: Tanner Brooks

Posted: Sep 17, 2021 / 10:56 AM CDT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There was a time when Stuart Rachels seemed to have a bright future in chess. Rachels, a philosophy professor at the University of Alabama, was a chess prodigy who had become the youngest U.S. chess master in history by the time he was 11-years-old. By 1990, he was co-champion of the U.S. Chess Championship and had already played some of the best players in the world. That all changed in 1993, when Rachels decided to walk away from chess.

‘Kids didn’t play chess’

Rachels recalled one of his earliest chess memories in 1977, when he was 7 years old. “I remember trying to capture the queen of one of my father’s graduate students — his name was Greg — by moving a pawn backwards,” Rachels said in an email correspondence with CBS 42. “I was pretty irritated when he made me give him his queen back.” By the time he was 9, Rachels was constantly playing at the Birmingham Chess Club and rapidly improving. “I never played kids when I was a kid, I only played adults,” Rachels said. “Kids didn’t play chess.”

Stuart Rachels engaged in a match against his father, James. (Courtesy of Stuart Rachels)

Rachels’ family did everything they could to support him. His father, UAB philosophy professor James Rachels, organized chess tournaments in Birmingham and gave him the means to improve his game, including books, magazines and, later, a trainer.However, Rachels said they never put any pressure on him to play. “A good player will put pressure on himself; extra pressure will only give him stomach aches,” he said. “A kid who isn’t self-motivated doesn’t have what it takes, and parents who try to provide motivation from the outside are only being bad parents.”

In 1981, Rachels became the youngest chess master in American history, beating the record previously held by chess icon Bobby Fischer. Rachels was 11 years and 10 months when he broke Fischer’s record. He remained the youngest U.S. chess master until 1994, when it was broken by Jordy Mont-Reynaud.

Rachels credits Kyle Therrell, a player from Fairfield, and trainer Boris Kogan with his early success. “Without them, forget it, I never would have become good,” Rachels said. “It’s not something you can do on your own, with just books and magazines.”

Early on, Rachels had the opportunity to play against both former and future world chess champions. He lost twice against Garry Kasparov, often referred to as the greatest chess player in history, and he lost to Boris Spassky, Fischer’s opponent in what is considered the “Match of the Century,” the 1972 World Chess Championship. Rachels also drew against future five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand. Rachels described each experience with one word. “Kasparov: Exciting. Spassky: Terrifying. Anand: Exhilarating,” he said.

Rachels faced Spassky in the 1985 U.S. Open in Hollywood, Florida. In his book, “The Best I Saw in Chess,” Rachels recalled Spassky walking over to Kogan to ask why he was so nervous. By the time Rachels collected himself, it was too late: Spassky had out-maneuvered him. When Rachels resigned, the spectators applauded. “I joined in, remembering Spassky’s sportsmanlike applause for Fischer when Fischer took the lead against him in Iceland,” Rachels wrote in his book.

Stuart Rachels facing off against former world champion Boris Spassky at the 1985 U.S. Open in Hollywood, Florida. (Courtesy of Stuart Rachels)

Rachels went on to become U.S. co-champion in the 1989 tournament, sharing the title with grandmasters Roman Dzindzichashvili and Yasser Seirawan.

In 1993, Rachels retired from competitive chess, calling it a “whole-life decision.”

“I wasn’t good enough to compete for the world championship,” he said. “In 1993, the life of your average chess professional in the United States was pretty depressing: very little money, a lot of traveling, an all-male culture, no health insurance, no respect from the general public, etc. A lot of professional players moved to Europe, which I didn’t want to do.”

Rachels said his life didn’t change that much after he retired, gradually weaning himself from the game to focus more on his graduate studies of philosophy. “The main change was not traveling to tournaments in the summer,” he said. “Also, I could stop worrying about how to fix problems in my opening repertoire.”

In his father’s footsteps

Even before stepping away from chess, Rachels took a keen interest in philosophy, something of a family business in the Rachels’ household. His father, James, was a moral philosopher and professor at UAB. His 1971 anthology, “Moral Problems,” shifted colleges from teaching meta-ethics to teaching concrete practical issues. “When people know my father as a philosopher, I say, ‘He was an even better father,’” Rachels said.

Stuart Rachels and James Rachels at Stuart’s high school graduation in 1987. (Courtesy of Stuart Rachels)

Rachels remembers spending a good chunk of his teenage years pestering his father with philosophical questions after he would come home from work. “He was my Boris Kogan in the realm of philosophy. I knew, even back then, how lucky I was, but I know this even better now,” said Rachels.

In addition to his father, Rachels credits people like Donald Rutherford and Robert McCauley from Emory University and Derek Parfit from Oxford University as some influences.

There was one year of graduate school that Rachels was so consumed by philosophy that he let his subscription to his favorite chess magazine lapse. But that was only for a year. Rachels said that he was consumed by chess and by philosophy, but was primarily a student first and a chess player in his spare time. “Even people who have always known me are surprised when I remind them that I never took any time off from school in order to play chess,” Rachels said.

Rachels now teaches philosophy at the University of Alabama as an associate professor specializing in ethical theory.

Returning to the game

Back in June, nearly 30 years after retiring from competitive chess, Rachels took part in the 2021 Alabama Blitz Championship and the 2021 Alabama Quick Championship in Montgomery. Rachels won all of his games to sweep the Alabama Blitz Championship. With all wins and a draw, he pulled out on top in the Alabama Quick Championship as well.

Scott Varagona,

https://www.thealabamian.com/um-professor-wins-state-chess-championship/

reigning Alabama State Chess Champion and editor for the Alabama Chess Antics magazine, said he always heard older players talk about Rachels with a sense of awe, but he had never had the chance to play him. With Rachels returning, Varagona was not going to miss the opportunity. “For him to resurface after all these years, and for me to finally get to face him in a serious tournament, was a big deal for me. After all, he was Alabama’s strongest player of the 20th century,” said Varagona. “Even though he hadn’t played competitive chess for over 25 years, whereas I was the reigning Alabama State Champion, he beat me very badly! I was impressed.” Varagona said he was too nervous and starstruck against Rachels to play at his best, but believes he would do better if he got another chance to play him.

Rachels said that going back to those tournaments after years away was like sticking his toes in the water. “For me, it was ‘sort of’ like playing in a real tournament. I didn’t consider it ‘fully real’ because the time control was accelerated, we weren’t keeping score, and it didn’t affect my classical rating,” he said. “But I enjoyed it, and I was relieved to discover that I can still push pawns okay.” When asked if he will pursue more competitions or potentially seek attaining the coveted Grandmaster title, Rachels said he will probably play more. “It’s a slow process,” he said. “I doubt I will play again seriously enough to pursue the GM title, but who knows.”

Stuart Rachels is a five-time Alabama State Champion, a U.S. Junior Champion, a U.S. Co-Champion and an International Master. He also teaches philosophy at the University of Alabama. (Courtesy of Stuart Rachels)

Larger than life

Rachels said that today, things are different for professional players in the United States. While he still believes it to be an odd life, players can make a living on social media platforms, like Twitch, where they can livestream games to subscribers. “The internet brings grandmasters into everyone’s living room,” Rachels said, “or, indeed, everyone’s pocket.” Over the last few years, there has been a boom in the game with more people learning chess for the first time, most notably following the popularity of the Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit.” According to The New York Times, sales of chess sets in the United States rose by around 125% since the show first premiered.

Rachels said he was thrilled to see how popular the game is continuing to be. “I wish people would power down their screens and get out and play more in-person, that would make me even happier. It’s better for the culture to be in-person,” Rachels said. “Interest in chess also surged in 1972 when Bobby Fischer became world champion. This surge feels more real to me, though, because in 1972, it was about Fischer himself, and so when Fischer quit, people lost interest in chess. Now, however, it’s about people actually playing.” Last week, Rachels was inducted into the first class of the Alabama Chess Hall of Fame.

A young Stuart Rachels (center) at a chess tournament. (Courtesy of Stuart Rachels)

Bill Melvin,

https://www.al.com/living/2016/09/post_312.html

a prominent player and figure in the Alabama chess community, played Rachels a handful of times over 30 years ago. While he wasn’t able to make Rachels’ comeback tournament, Melvin was surprised that he actually participated. “Stuart’s impact on chess is simply as the greatest talent to come out of Alabama,” Melvin said. “His star was bright, but he quit chess at such an early age. He has explained his reasoning with me many times, but I still don’t understand.”

Varagona echoed Melvin, saying that Rachels proved that an Alabama player could reach the pinnacle of chess in the nation, something no Alabama player has come close to achieving since. “There have been many great Alabama chess legends — but then there is Stuart Rachels. Stuart is larger than life.”

https://www.cbs42.com/news/local/from-prodigy-to-champion-stuart-rachels-was-the-best-alabama-saw-in-chess/

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.

Coaching Kasparov: A Review

Coaching Kasparov, Year by Year and Move by Move
Volume 1: The Whizz-Kid (1973-1981)

by Alexander Nikitin

This is a meritorious book in all respects. When the book was finished I was already looking forward with anticipation to the second volume to follow. The Elk and Ruby publishing company has hit the ground running with one of the books reviewed on this blog, Checkmate!

by Sally Landau, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/04/21/checkmate-the-love-story-of-mikhail-tal-and-sally-landau-a-review/) having recently garnered a prestigious spot on the ECF shortlist for book of the year award.
(https://www.englishchess.org.uk/ecf-book-of-the-year-2019-shortlist/)

The author, Alexander Nikitin,

was the coach of the young Garik Weinstein from 1973 until 1990. Simply put, the young lad had vast potential, like a diamond in the rough, but needed polishing, which was provided by his coach. The first sixty seven pages, which were read with amazement, recount what transpired in those early years. The second part of the one hundred ninety eight pages consists of annotated games played by the young Weinstein/Kasparov. The author writes about the necessity for the change of name. “His change of surname was a delicate matter. It’s usually found in women, very rarely in men, and, as a rule, only happens to men when it’s forced. Garik’s mother had to bear the main burden of stress and battle when arranging the legal formalities and, above all, when convincing all friends and relatives that this was the right decision. Klara had to endure so many unpleasant hours. So many tears were shed after conversations with relatives of her by then long departed husband. “…a year earlier, with Botvinnik’s assent, I had tenaciously started to try and convince Garry’s mother of the need to change her son’s surname from his father’s to her own-which, by the way, she had not changed upon getting married.”

In the following paragraph the author writes, “From the very beginning I had no doubt that the lad would have a fantastic chess career. I knew from my work in the Sports Committee just what inexplicable difficulties of a totally non-chess character could suddenly appear to a youth with the “wrong” surname during the development of his talent, especially at the transition to Big Chess, when somebody’s sporting career could be held back and perhaps even badly damaged, without much notice being taken at the top and without much discussion.” And, “Chess fans throughout the world quickly got used to this surname without having learnt unnecessary details. Life was to confirm the justification of my fears and the need for this difficult decision. Enough has now been written about the hidden anti-Semitism, especially in the lower corridors of the government. I am convinced that Garry Weinstein would have never got to play a world title match against Karpov in 1984 or even in 1987. He wouldn’t have been allowed. He would have been isolated in the periphery of chess. The system functioned like clockwork in those days.”

For every Weinstein/Kasparov how many other, extremely talented young boys were fodder for the “system”? Nikitin writes about one such boy, “…twelve-year-old Boris Taborov. They were both highly talented, smart and inquisitive, by my-how their lives soon panned out so differently! The phlegmatic and good-natured Boris soon became the first Soviet player to gain the master title at the age of 14. He played a couple of times in the junior championships in Europe, but failed to achieve further success and gradually faded. What happened to him? Boris was raised in a family of scientists who had little enthusiasm for their son’s chess achievements. His parents really wanted Boris to become a scientist like them and continue their work. They got quite worried at seeing that chess for their son was more than a game. Feeling no moral support from those near and dear to him, the lad was torn between two occupations at once, unable to make a definitive choice… His focus on two activities at once in fact prevented him from achieving great things in science, while he was quite unable to jump on to the steps of the prestigious carriages of the chess train as it disappeared into the distance. Caissa doesn’t favor the indecisive.”
He who hesitates is lost.

The author writes about Garik’s father, “Kim Weinstein on all evidence seems to have been a strong and unusual personality; highly valuing fairness and honesty. He managed to pass on much to his son, but alas it could have been more.”
I’m certain Judit Polgar will agree with what was written! (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/garry-kasparov-cheated-judit-polgar/comment-page-1/)

He writes, “Yet most of all, I was struck by Garry’s eyes-smart, with a kind of unusual spark in them.”

Mikhail Botvinnik

plays a large role in the saga of Garik Weinstein/Kasparov. He would say: “A lad striving to become a true chess player needs to be able to do many things. He needs to work at chess independently, prepare for every competition, analyze the outcome of each tournament, and love analysis not only in respect of the opening. He also needs to know how to relax and regain his strength after a competition. If he isn’t successful in that, chess will not become an art form bringing joy, but instead just a trade bringing sadness. Therefore, he should not play many games and should not play often.”

“As the years progressed, the union of Teacher and Favorite Pupil transposed into a comradeship of colleagues of equal playing strength.”

“Lasker’s thought: “a person is responsible for the quality of his work but not for its results” from that year on became one of the mottos driving Garry’s work.”

The author divulges the secret concerning, “Vladimir Andreevich Makogonov,

who had been one of the strongest masters of the pre-war period and a player with a subtle positional style, who had a wonder grasp of the nuances of battle and without a doubt understood the game at a grandmaster level, showed up at the Kasparov apartment. Few people knew about Garry’s contact with Makogonov-the master didn’t want to advertise it. I don’t think even Botvinnik knew about it…The two great chess elders who coached the kid had their own eccentricities: Botvinnik was overly jealous about allowing other coaches to work with Kasparov, while Makogonov had taken offense at society.”

“A big talent acts like a mighty magnet or bright star – it draws those who have discovered its strength, blinds their judgement and takes them prisoner for years to come.”

This paragraph blew my mind:

“It wasn’t just chess books that I sent him, but everything that could satisfy his curiosity, thereby further developing his logical thinking. For example, one parcel that I sent in 1975 contained the latest issue of Chess Informant, a selection of endgame articles required in order to tackle homework that Dvoretsky had set, excellent commentary by Spassky showing how to assess positions, Bronstein’s book on Zurich, accompanied by a request to study carefully how the world’s best players handled King’s Indian positions, alongside…a Go Set, (! my exclam)


photo by Phil Straus/American Go E-Journal

in order for him to better understand how to gain space, and, for dessert, interesting articles on his tory, which the boy so loved.”

If I had known Kasparov played Go I would have challenged him to a game at the Supernationals in Nashville a decade ago when he signed my copy of

“At first I did not always manage to follow the volume of work carried out by the boy independently. He found everything interesting and wanted to learn more and as quickly as possible. However, this led to information overload, leading to interesting symptoms, which I called “know-all disease”. The boy’s agile and deep memory digested everything fed to it, but the process of comprehending what he had read lagged behind. He would mechanically memorize variations, but they were not given the time to settle in his mind in the right order, and they would get mixed into a messy and, consequently, fairly useless tangle in his brain. Petrosian called this illness the symptom of “Informant children”. The majority of young players now suffer from this ailment, especially abroad, where the computerization of chess has sharply increased the volume of information available. Klara wrote to me that in those times Garik resembled an excited madman.”

Naturally, the author writes about Bobby Fischer

with words that can only be called “glowing praise.” For example, “For both me and Garry, the American genius of those years remains the benchmark of high professionalism. His independent behavior was unusual for that time, and many of his demands were considered to be whims. Now, though, the majority of those demands are considered to be the norm.”

“After Minsk it became clear that Garry’s calculation ability had developed so much further than his positional understanding that it simply “squeezed out” the latter. When playing strong this could lead to nasty problems. His technique for converting an advantage also lagged. Here we needed to work both at chess itself and on his psychology. Unlike Karpov, he wasn’t born with a killer’s instinct, and after gaining an advantage he often reduced his concentration and his earlier playing intensity, hoping that his opponent would bring about his own defeat.”

I can, unfortunately, identify with reduced concentration after gaining an advantage.

“Karpov once described a similar situation of a battle against himself, providing the apt conclusion: “you mustn’t play for a win if in spirit you’re happy to draw.” In order to rise above yourself in such circumstances you have to love chess madly, like the legendary Fischer.”

“A battle in a chess game is frequently a battle against yourself, against your doubts and prevarications.”

“The degree of his childishness, which in my opinion has not yet completely disappeared even today…”

There is a thread running through the book concerning the lack of stamina displayed by the young boy Weinstein, which, with the current youth movement, should make everyone involved with Chess pause to ask the question, “How much Chess is too much Chess?”

The author writes things like this, “At the finish the boy was very tired and incapable of working at top gear for four hours.”

“The child’s tired brain would turn on and off at will.”

“The boy only relented at the end of the fourth hour of tense battle. He didn’t have the energy left to resolve the final, quite tricky problem in a sharp endgame, and the game was drawn.”

“It’s always disappointing to lose your way when the danger appears to have passed. However, at the age of ten it’s hard to retain concentration over four hours of tense work.”

The annotations to the games are marvelous and the commentary fascinating. Game six, of forty six, is an excellent example:

G. Weinstein – B. Kantsler

Leningrad. Spartak Junior championship. 27.07.1975

Kings’s Indian Attack. [C00]

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4. g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 g6 6.Ngf3 Bg7 7. 0-0 Nge7

Just half a year later I added this way of playing the opening for white to the list of opening systems temporarily banned from use. Garik would have to make do with 2.d4 and go for a more active setup, which was appropriate to his playing style. He was to learn with surprise that battles after 2.d4 are much richer and more interesting.

8.Re1 0-0 9.Qe2 b5 10.e5 a5 11.Nf1 Ba6 12.h4 b4 13.N1h2 h6 14.Bf4 Kh7 15.Bh3 c4 16.Kh2

This generally OK system is not of much use for young players, in that thanks to its lack of ideas it doesn’t require much time to study compared with other, richer opening systems. If you are targeting big achievements in chess then you need to strive to learn the subtleties of as many standard positions as possible, in other words, those that frequently come up. Such positions provide support in the middle of the game, and their knowledge will significantly improve your technique. The best way to build up a solid base of such positions is to study opening systems whose content is as rich and varied as possible. The opening setup deployed by Garik here was one I called a system for idlers, as white can make all the moves automatically, often while ignoring the location of his opponent’s pieces.

16…Nf5?! 17 Bxf5 gxf5

18.g4!

So, here’s the first test to see if the player can think out of the box. Set up the position after move 17 and ask your pupil the simple question: “What would you play as white?” Give the young player 20 minutes to think. Will he look at 18 g4? How quickly?

Little children introduced to chess strategy don’t like pawn advances that open up their own king’s bunker. They are afflicted by the usual, childish fear of the unknown, when it’s hard to assess the approaching danger, as they don’t have life experience or precedents. Deliberately made moves such as 18 g4 are an indicator of a child mature beyond their years. Actually, Garry already had experience – he remembered the game with Alexei (now Alex Yermolinsky)

and the jokey nickname “g4”.

After playing over the game I realized the openings played “back in the day” could very well be thought of as “Bacon’s opening system for idlers!”

In conclusion, this is a superb book. It is truly “cheap at twice the price.” This is a five star book that should make it to a shortlist for the best Chess book of the year award because it will stand the test of time.

Theory Of Shadows: A Review

It must be extremely difficult to write a historical novel because many have tried and most have failed. Many of the historical novels I have read were of the type, “What if he had lived?” Some concerned POTUS John F. Kennedy.

The last one read was years ago and it caused me to put other books of the type on the “back burner,” where they have since continued to smolder…It may have helped if the author could write, but he had as much business writing as I have running a marathon. The book was not one of those print on demand tomes which allow anyone to publish a book nowadays but a book published by an actual publishing company, which means there was an editor who must have thought the book good enough to earn money. I found the book, a hardback, only a few weeks after it had been published and it was marked down to a price low enough for me to take a chance and fork over the cash. P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” In a way the editor was right, but then, marked down enough anything will sell.

There have been notable historical novels such as Michael Shaara‘s masterpiece, The Killer Angels,
which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974.

It must be terribly difficult to write a novel about people who actually lived. A novelist invents a character. To write historical fiction about an actual living, breathing human being is another thing entirely.

Having recently returned to the city of my birth meant a visit to the local library, which happened to be selected as the 2018 Georgia Public Library of the Year. After renewing my lapsed library card I went to the catalog that very evening to check on, what else, Chess books. I had been pleasantly surprised when seeing the latest issue of Chess Life magazine in the reading room of the Decatur branch of the Dekalb county library system after obtaining my new card. While surveying the Chess books a jewel was found, a book I recalled being published years ago, but not in English. It was published at the end of the last century by the author of The Luneburg Variation,

Paolo Maurensig.

It was his first novel, published at the age of fifty, and it was a good read. The book about which I will write is, Theory Of Shadows,

published in Italy in 2015. It was published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2018 after being translated by Anne Milano Appel.

From the front inside jacket: On the morning of March 24, 1946, the world chess champion, Alexander Alekhine – “sadist of the chess world,”

renowned for his eccentric behaviour as well as the ruthlessness of his playing style – was found dead in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal.”

There it is, a fictional account of how Alekhine died. The last paragraph on the jacket reads: “With the atmosphere of a thriller, the insight of a poem, and a profound knowledge of the world of chess (“the most violent of all sports,” according to the former world champion Garry Kasparov), Paolo Maurensig’s Theory of Shadows leads us through the glamorous life and sordid death of an infuriating and unapologetic genius: not only trying to work out “whodunit,” but using the story of Alexander Alekhine to tease out what Milan Kundera has called “that which the novel alone can discover.”

I loved everything about this book. The book begins with this quote : “If Alekhine had been a Jew hating Nazi scientist, inventor of weapons extermination and therefore protected by those in power, then that intellectual rabble would have held its breath. Instead, the victim had to drain the bitter cup to the last drop…Even the supreme act of his death was vulgarly besmirched. And we cowards stifled our feelings, remaining silent. Because the only virtue that fraternally unites us all, whites and black, Jews and Christians, is cowardice.” – Esteban Canal

After reading the above I had yet to begin the first chapter yet had been sent to the theory books…OK, the interweb, in order to learn who was Esteban Canal. “Esteban Canal (April 19, 1896 – February 14, 1981) was a leading Peruvian chess player who had his best tournament results in the 1920s and 1930s.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esteban_Canal)

This was also found:

Who was Esteban Canal?

Writing in a 1937 edition of Chess Review, Lajos Steiner,


Lajos Steiner (1903-1975), by Len Leslie

who knew Canal when they were living in Budapest, said that Canal never reached the heights his talent deserved. He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and received the honorary GM title in 1977.
Not much is known about his life and what little is known is wrapped in a cloud of mystery. Canal himself claimed to have been a cabin boy on a cargo ship carrying wheat from Australia, but it has proven to be impossible to verify dates. It is known that he had an extensive nautical knowledge and sailors.
In 1955 the South African player Wolfgang Heindenfed, writing in his book Chess Springbok, An Account of a South African Chess Player’s Experiences Overseas wrote of Canal, “The grand old man of Italian chess is Esteban Canal, originally of Peru, who at the age of 57 won the 1953 Venice tournament to which I had the good luck of being invited. He is one of the most interesting and amusing of all chess personalities. Formerly a roving reporter, he speaks six or seven languages and still treasures mementos of such VIPs as Kemal Pasha and Abd el Krim. He is an inexhaustible raconteur of chess stories.” (http://tartajubow.blogspot.com/2018/03/who-was-esteban-canal.html)

About a third of the way through the one hundred seventy nine page book we read: “Though it was an essential task, armchair analysis of the matches he’s played in the past often bored him. Without the presence of the human element, the pieces on the chessboard lost their vitality. It was quite a different matter to play with an opponent in front of you: to enter his mind, predict his strategies by interpreting the slightest variations of his posture, the position of his hands, the subtle though significant contractions of his lips. During the period when he worked for the Moscow police, they had taught Alekhine how to interpret small signs such as these during interrogations, to see if their subjects were lying.”

During an interview, after discussing the murder of his brother at the hands of the Soviet communists as retribution of Alekhine leaving “Mother Russia” the interviewer asks, “And you never feared that you might suffer the same fate?”

“You mean being killed?”

The journalist nodded.

He hesitated a moment, then: “Perhaps, yes, now and then, the thought’s occurred to me.”

“After all,” Ocampo said, a little heavy-handedly, “Trotsky himself, despite taking refuge in Mexice, was ultimately hit by a hired assassin.”

“I took my precautions.”

For a time Alekhine was silent. In fact, he knew very well that it was not strictly necessary for a victim to be close to his murderer, that there was no place in the world where one could be assured of finding a completely secure refuge. A well-trained hit man could strike even in broad daylight and in the midst of a crowd.”

I’m thinking, “Just ask JFK…”

Jews and Chess:

“That was the first time he’d faced a Jewish chess player – it would certainly not be the last. He would endure a stinging defeat by Rubenstein


Akiba Rubenstein

in the first masters tournament in which he competed. He was eighteen years old then, and, encountering that young man, some years older than him, who was said to have abandoned his rabbinical studies to devote himself to chess, he’s had to swallow several bitter truths. Later on, he played against Nimzowitsch,


Aaron Nimzowitsch

Lasker,


Emanuel Lasker

and Reshevsky,


Sammy Reshevsky

soon realizing that, in his rise to the world title, his competitors would all be Jews.
Their faces were still sharply etched in his memory: Rubinstein, dapper, with a drew cut and an upturned mustache and the vacant gaze of a man who has peered too closely into his own madness; Lasker, with his perpetually drowsy air and spiraling, hopelessly rebellious hair; Nimzowitsch, looking like a bank clerk who, behind his pincenez, is haughtily judging the insufficiency of other people’s funds’ Reshevsky, resembling a prematurely aged child prodigy. Often he imagined them muffled up in long black cloaks, gathered in a circle like cros around a carcass, intent on captiously interpreting chess the way they did their sacred texts.”

Near the end of this magnificent book it is written, “By then, the harbingers of what in the coming decades would be called the Cold War were already looming. And if the weapons of the two blocs were to remain unused, it was essential that there be other arenas in which they could compete and excel. Chess was therefore, as ever, a symbolic substitute for war: gaining supremacy in it was a constant reminder to the enemy that you possessed greater military expertise, a more effective strategy.”

In beating the Soviet World Chess Champion Boris Spassky in 1972 Bobby Fischer won much more than a mere Chess match.

Bobby emasculated the Soviet Communist regime. Alekhine may have taken a brick out of the wall when leaving Mother Russia, but Bobby Fischer took the wall down.

Being a novel within a novel made the book was a pleasure to read and I enjoyed it immensely. I give it the maximum five stars.

Smyslov on the Couch: A Review

Smyslov on the Couch,

by Genna Sosonko, published by Elk and Ruby, (http://www.elkandruby.com/) is broken down, like Smyslov at the end of his long life, into three parts. This review will, therefore, be in three parts.

Part 1: The Real Vasily Smyslov

The author writes, “He possessed an incredible memory.” Most, if not all, World Chess champions were blessed with a memory far above most human beings. Some no doubt contained a brain possessing an eidetic memory. How else can one explain Bobby Fischer

recalling a speed (that was five minutes and only five minutes per game ‘back in the day’) game that had taken place decades earlier? (…just prior to his historic match with Taimanov, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Fischer met the Russian player Vasiukov and showed him a speed game that the two had played in Moscow fifteen years before. Fischer recalled the game move by move.) (http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/Memory.htm)

Smyslov says, “Oh Genna, don’t wake my memories. What’s done is done, done to oblivion. I don’t remember a thing! I’ve been blessed with the ability to forget. There is an uncanny pattern to things, though; you best of all remember what you should forget.”

“His style was very clear-cut; he was considered a wonderful master of the endgame. Jan Timman,

known as the Best of the West during the eighties, who grew up on Botvinnik’s games, once said that he thought Smyslov’s style, due to his original strategic vision, lucid play, and virtuosic endgame technique, was the best.”

“Indeed, Max Euwe,

who had a very poor record against Smyslov, would say, “This amiable giant of the chess world (who) makes moves that, frankly, any other grandmaster could make. There’s just one small difference: Smyslov wins, but the other GM’s don’t. His playing style is really slippery; he doesn’t attack you head-on, doesn’t threaten mate, and yet follows some path that only he sees. His opponent’s are caught off-gaurd and fail to see his secret plans. They think they have a perfectly decent position….The suddenly they realize something isn’t right, but it’s too late! An attack is building up against their king and they can’t beat it off. Yeah, Smyslov is an amazing player, an amiable and obliging man, but so dangerous to play against.”

The author writes, “Or Boris Spassky,

highlighting Smyslov’s incredible intuition, called him “the Hand”, explaining this as follows: “His hand knows on which square each piece belongs, he doesn’t need to calculate anything with his head.” Later on there is this, “We had already said our goodbyes, but then suddenly he stepped off to the side, visibly distressed by something. “I thought of the game I lost to Van Wely yesterday. At first, I had a clear advantage. Then the position was equal. And then…no, it’s terrible, just terrible. Like an apparition haunting me. An evil force led my hand astray.” Shaking his head, he went towards passport control.”

The author, who had earlier emigrated from the Soviet Union, writes, “I visited Leningrad in 1982. Although I already had a Dutch passport by then, I was strongly advised against taking that trip. It was the height of the Cold War, and the consequences of such a visit were unpredictable in the Soviet days.” Genna “follow(ed) his own route,” and “…poked my head into the Chigorin Chess Club a few hours before the ship’s departure from Leningrad. “The doors are all shabby. When are they going to renovate the place?” I blurted out as I walked into the building I’d known since my Leningrad childhood. New “details” of my visit surfaced later on. Sosonko had supposedly come to Leningrad in secret and promised to donate ten thousand dollars to renovate the club.”

“I heard all about your foray into Leningrad, Genna,” Smyslov said smiling, when we met up a month later at the Tilburg tournament. “You decided to make a run for it? Have you completely lost your mind?” he chided me in a fatherly tone.

We faced off in round five. We had drawn all of our previous games, sometimes without trying. Smyslov played passively in the opening, and my advantage grew with every move. When Black’s position was completely lost, he rose slightly from his chair, extended his hand, and congratulated me, “Enjoy this one, Genna, but don’t let it go to your head. I can’t play against my friends.” He moaned and groaned the whole next day, still upset with me: “That guy? Yeah, he’d knock off his own father for five hundred dollars. Him donating ten thousand? I don’t think so!” But then everything went back to normal, with our daily walks around the village of Oisterwijk near Tilburg, where the tournament participants were staying, and long talks about everything.”

Gennady Borisovich Sosonko

vs Vasily Smyslov

Interpolis 6th Tilburg NED 1982.10.06

D46 Queen’s Gambit Declined semi-Slav, Chigorin defence

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Bxe4 c5 10. O-O Qc7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. Bc2 Bd7 13. Ne5 cxd4 14. Qxd4 Qc5 15. Qc3 Qb4 16. Bd2 Qxc3 17. Bxc3 Bxe5 18. Rxe5 O-O 19. Rd1 Bc6 20. f3 Rfd8 21. Rxd8+ Rxd8 22. a4 Nd7 23. Re2 Nc5 24. b3 b6 25. a5 Nb7 26. a6 Nc5
27. b4 Na4 28. Rd2 Rc8 29. Bd4 Be8 30. Bb3 Kf8 31. Kf2 f6 32. f4 b5 33. Bxa4 bxa4 34. Bxa7 Rxc4 35. Bc5+ Kf7 36. Rd6 1-0

Smyslov did not care for Fischer Random Chess, and nor do I. For one thing, allowing a computer to choose the opening setup of the pieces is absurd! If the game is going to be played why not put the pawns in their positions and have the player of the white pieces place the first piece, etc.? Smyslov says, “Chess is harmonious just the way it is. Fischer chess is utter nonsense. That setup deprives the game of its inherent harmony.”

Smyslov says, “I have noticed I play better if I treat my opponent with respect, no matter what disputes may arise. That type of attitude cleansed my soul, which enabled me to focus solely on the board and the pieces. My inspiration would wane and my performance would suffer whenever I let my emotions get the better of me.”

Part 2: Match Fixing in Zurich and the Soviet Chess School

This part of the book shines a light on the dark and dirty Soviet School of Chess, where every result can be questioned beginning with the 1933 match between the Czechoslovak master, Salo Flohr,

“…on his first trip to the Soviet Union, and the rising star of Soviet chess, Mikhail Botvinnik.”

Flohr won the first two decisive games of the match, but Botvinnik “won” games nine and ten, the final games of the match, to draw the match to send the fans into a frenzy.

The author blames everything on the “monstrous state system…” He never assigns any blame on any individual, yet a “system” is comprised of “people.” The author writes, “Soviet chess, with its undoubted achievements on the one hand and cynicism and total absence of morals on the other hand, was the fruit of the monstrous state system, controlling everything that was the Soviet Union. And it died alongside that country.” Really? “As Stalin used to say, ‘no person-no problem’.” (Pg. 139 of Checkmate, by Sally Landau https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/04/21/checkmate-the-love-story-of-mikhail-tal-and-sally-landau-a-review/) An excellent case can be made that when it comes to Russia today, only the names have changed as Putin continues to eliminate former Russian citizens on foreign soil, and even on home soil, proving if there is “no person” there is “no problem.” It is not the “system” which is corrupt, but the people who comprise the system. The American system is not corrupt, but many, if not most, of the people comprising the system are corrupt, and that includes those at the very top, including the POTUS, who is so obviously corrupt, and corruptible. It is not the “system” that needs be changed, but those in charge of the corrupt system, no matter what system and what it is named, who need to be eliminated, as Malcoln X said, “by any means necessary.”

The author used Former World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker

to prove his point when he writes, “Emanuel Lasker had visited the Soviet Union back in 1924. He played in all three international tournaments and, escaping from the Nazis, he moved to Moscow in 1935. In his memoirs, Mikhail Botvinnik wrote about the Nottinghanm tournament of 1936, one of the greatest competitions of the twentieth century: “World Champion Euwe led the tournament for a considerable time, and I found it hard to keep up. At a critical moment in the battle, Lasker unexpectedly turned up in my hotel room. ‘I now live in Moscow,’ he announced pompously, ‘and as a representative of the Soviet Union I consider it my duty to play for a win against Euwe, especially as I’m playing White.’ At the same time, the old Doctor bore quite an alarmed expression. ‘Don’t be silly, Dear Doctor,’ I objected, waiving my hands in the air. ‘If you draw that will be fine.’ Lasker breathed a sigh of relief: Well, that will be easy,’ he said, and then left the room, having shaken my hand. The next day, Euwe, playing to win missed a somewhat straightforward tactical subtlety in an equal ending and lost.”

“Let’s reflect for a moment on the meaning of Lasker’s words,” writes Sosonko. “When learning that the aging doctor, as a representative of the Soviet Union, wondered whether he should play to win against a rival of his new fellow-countryman, you instinctively think just how quickly a person becomes influenced by their stay in a strict totalitarian system. Even a very short stay. Even a wise man and philosopher who was born free.”

Let us reflect for a moment…Lasker had the white pieces and should have, therefore, played for a win. If Bobby Fischer had been playing Euwe the next day he would have been playing to win even with the black pieces!

“Sammy Reshevsky,

who played not only in the 1948 world championship but in subsequent candidates tournaments as well, noted that the Russians always played as a team.”

There are wonderful tidbits in the book. Two of my favorite concern Chess books. “When Judit Polgar was asked about her favorite chess book, she replied almost instantly: “Levenfish and Smylov’s Rook Endings. Those endings arise more often than any of the others. Everything is explained so simply in the book.”

Smyslov, “By the way, have you read Tarrasch?

Tarrasch fell out of favor in the Soviet Union, later on, like so many other people did. He was banned, but his book The Game of Chess

is excellent. He explained everything in a very accessible way. You haven’t read it? I really recommend you do. It’s never too late.”

The Tarrasch book always brings to mind NM Guillermo Ruiz and the Chess book. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/the-chess-book/)

The last part of the book, Part 3, is, The Final Years.

The part about Judit Polgar’s

favorite Chess book is in the final part of the book. “When Judit Polgar was asked about her favorite chess book, she replied instantly: “Levenfish and Smyslov’s Rook Endings.

Those endings arise more than any of the others. Everything is explained so simply in the book.”

This, too, is included in the final part of the book: “July 22, 2004. “You know, whenever I think about Fischer, I start feeling sorry for him. I’m afraid he’ll get sent back to America.He just always needed someone who’d be there for him, take care of him, look after him. He was always a Don Quixote, if you see what I’m getting at.”

Other than a few things, reading the final part of the book was terribly depressing. Since at my age I am knocking on heaven’s door, I may not be the most objective person to review the latter part of the otherwise excellent book. The fact is, I do not even want to review it. The final section detracts from the book and the less said about it, the better. Read the book and judge for yourself, and leave a comment on the Armchair Warrior blog.

I give the first two parts five points each, making a total of ten points. Unfortunately I can only give a couple of points to the final part, so divide twelve by three and…you do the math.

“Tal wins by tricks. I consider it my duty as a grandmaster to beat him properly” ~ Vasily Smyslov

Chess with Suren
Published on Apr 10, 2019

In the autumn of 1959, in the Yugoslav towns of Bled, Zagreb and Belgrade the four cycle tournament of eight candidates for the world crown took place: The candidates were Smyslov, Keres, Petrosian, Tal, Gligoric, Olafsson, Benko and the 16 year old Fischer. Tal was not regarded as one of the favorites. Moreover, a couple of weeks before the start he underwent an operation for appendicitis (later it transpired that the pain he was suffering was caused by a kidney illness). When Mikhail Tal started his rise to the world championship crown, his risky style of play was viewed with disdain by most grandmasters; for example, former world champion Vassily Smyslov commented that Tal wins by tricks. “I consider it my duty as a grandmaster to beat him properly.” What happens next is from “must watch” series. In their first ever encounter Tal chooses an offbeat line in Caro-Kann defense and soon by going for a bishop sacrifice manages to unleash a dangerous attack. Although for some time Smyslov manages to find the most accurate defensive moves but soon he fails to withstand Tal’s devilish pressure and makes a mistake. Using his chance Tal goes for a queen sacrifice, exploiting the back-rank weakness and soon Smyslov’s position goes down quickly!
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Mikhail Tal vs Vasily Smyslov
Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959), Bled, Zagreb & Belgrade YUG, rd 8, Sep-18
Caro-Kann Defense: Breyer Variation (B10)
1.e4 c6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 e5 4.Ngf3 Nd7 5.d4 dxe4 6.Nxe4 exd4
7.Qxd4 Ngf6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.O-O-O O-O 10.Nd6 Qa5 11.Bc4 b5 12.Bd2
Qa6 13.Nf5 Bd8 14.Qh4 bxc4 15.Qg5 Nh5 16.Nh6+ Kh8 17.Qxh5 Qxa2 18.Bc3 Nf6 19.Qxf7 Qa1+ 20.Kd2 Rxf7 21.Nxf7+ Kg8 22.Rxa1 Kxf7 23.Ne5+ Ke6 24.Nxc6 Ne4+ 25.Ke3 Bb6+ 26.Bd4 1-0