Hans Niemann vs Awonder Liang C00 French, Chigorin Variation With 2 Qe2

Imagine the surprise, and elation, upon seeing the move 2 Qe2 played by Hans, My Man, Niemann on the board in the last round of the 2022 US Chess Championship!

GM Hans Niemann

vs GM Awonder Liang


2022 US Chess Championship
Last Round

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 e5 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 Nge7 8. Na3 O-O 9. Nc2 d5 10. d3 h6 11. a3 d4 12. c4 a5 13. Rb1 a4 14. Nd2 Be6 15. f4 Qd7 16. Ne1 Qc7 17. Ndf3 f6 18. Nh4 g5 19. Nf5 Nxf5 20. exf5 Bxf5 21. fxg5 fxg5 22. Bxg5 Bg6 23. Rxf8+ Rxf8 24. Bd2 Qe7 25. Nf3 e4 26. Nh4 Bh7 27. dxe4 Qe6 28. Qh5 Qf7 29. Qd5 Ne5 30. Bf4 Nxc4 31. Qxc5 b6 32. Qb5 Ne3 33. Re1 Qb3 34. Qxb3+ axb3 35. e5 Nxg2 36. Kxg2 Rc8 37. Re2 d3 38. Rd2 Rc2 39. Nf3 Be4 40. Kf2 Bxf3 41. Kxf3 Bxe5 42. Rxd3 Bxf4 43. Kxf4 Rxb2 44. h4 Rb1 45. Kg4 b2 46. Rb3 Ra1 47. Rxb2 Rxa3 48. Rxb6 h5+ 49. Kf4 Kg7 50. Re6 Ra4+ 51. Re4 Ra5 52. Re5 Ra4+ 53. Re4 Ra5 54. Re5 Ra4+ 55. Kg5 Rg4+ 56. Kxh5 Rxg3 57. Rg5+ Rxg5+ 58. hxg5 Kh7 59. g6+ Kg7 60. Kg5 Kg8 61. Kf6 Kf8 62. Kf5 Kg7 63. Kg5 Kg8 64. Kh6 Kh8 65. g7+ Kg8 66. Kg6 1/2-1/2
    https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-chess-championship/round-13/7IYP0TdW
  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 (It is interesting learning the Stockfish 14 NNUE program used at Lichess will play 2…e5, moving the pawn again. According to the Big Database at 365Chess.com the move played in the game has been seen in 2196 games, dwarffing the 428 of second place 2…Be7. The move 2…Nc6 shows 231 games, with 2…b6 [206] and 2…e5 [205] virtually tied fourth place) 3. Nf3 (Although played most often [937] SF plays the second most often played move 3 g3 [693], which was the move invariably played played by this writer ‘back in the day’. And if you believe that, I have stock in Chess.com that I will sell you cheap!) 3…Nc6 4. g3 e5 (SF plays 4…g6, as have most humans (657) according to 365Chess.com, and so will Stockfish. Only 11 humans have played the move chosen by Awonder.) 5. Bg2 (SF says 5 d3) g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 (SF 7 Na3) Nge7 8. Na3 O-O (SF 8…d6) 9. Nc2 (SF 9 d3) d5 10. d3 h6 11. a3 (11 Nh4) d4 (Be6) 12. c4 (12 dxc4 SF) a5 13. Rb1 (Nd2) a4 14. Nd2 Be6 (14…Ra6) 15. f4 Qd7 (15…Ra6) 16. Ne1 (SF says 16 b3) Qc7 (16…Rb8) 17. Ndf3 (17 b4) f6 18. Nh4 (18 b3) g5 (18 exf4) 19. Nf5 Nxf5 20. exf5 Bxf5 21. fxg5 fxg5 22. Bxg5 Bg6 23. Rxf8+ Rxf8 24. Bd2 Qe7 (24…Qb6)
Position after 24…Ne7. White to move

Nh4 Bh7 27. dxe4 (27 Bxd4) Qe6 (Qd7) 28. Qh5 Qf7 (28…d3) 29. Qd5 (29 Qxf7) Ne5 (Qxd5) 30. Bf4 (30 Nf5) Nxc4 (30…Qxd5) 31. Qxc5 b6 (31…d3) 32. Qb5 (32 Qc6) Ne3 33. Re1 Qb3 34. Qxb3+ axb3 35. e5 (35 Bf3) Nxg2 36. Kxg2 Rc8 37. Re2 (37 Kf3) d3 (37…Rc2) 38. Rd2 Rc2 (It shows an arrow from the bishop on h7 to the e4 square, which would be check, but in the annotations one finds, “Inaccuracy. Bf8 was best.”) 39. Nf3 Be4 40. Kf2 Bxf3 41. Kxf3 Bxe5 42. Rxd3 Bxf4 43. Kxf4 Rxb2 44. h4 Rb1 45. Kg4 b2 46. Rb3 Ra1 47. Rxb2 Rxa3 48. Rxb6 h5+ 49. Kf4 Kg7 50. Re6 Ra4+ 51. Re4 Ra5 52. Re5 Ra4+ 53. Re4 Ra5 54. Re5 Ra4+ 55. Kg5 Rg4+ 56. Kxh5 Rxg3 57. Rg5+ Rxg5+ 58. hxg5 Kh7 59. g6+ Kg7 60. Kg5 Kg8 61. Kf6 Kf8 62. Kf5 Kg7 63. Kg5 Kg8 64. Kh6 Kh8 65. g7+ Kg8 66. Kg6 1/2-1/2

Daniela Miteva vs Margarita Voiska (2345)
Event: BUL-chT (Women)
Site: Bankia Date: ??/??/1992
Round: ?
ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 e5 5.Bg2 g6 6.O-O Bg7 7.c3 Nge7 8.d3 O-O 9.Be3 b6 10.Ne1 d5 11.f4 Be6 12.Nf3 Qd7 13.fxe5 dxe4 14.dxe4 Bg4 15.Rd1 Qc8 16.Nbd2 Nxe5 17.Nc4 Qa6 18.b3 Nxc4 19.bxc4 Nc6 20.Rd5 Bxc3 21.Rc1 Bd4 22.h3 Bxf3 23.Bxf3 Qa3 24.Re1 Bxe3+ 25.Qxe3 Qxa2 26.Rh5 Qb2 27.Rd5 Nd4 28.Bg4 a5 29.Qh6 Qc3 30.Rf1 Ne6 31.Rd7 Qxg3+ 32.Kh1 Qe5 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=1901572&m=12

Curious about the move the Stockfish program at Lichess would, given the chance, play on the second move for Black I put it into the analysis program (Why do most people call it an “engine”? Why do commentators not inform we readers of the NAME of the “ENGINE” used? Just askin’…) at Lichess.com and the following were the best moves according to the PROGRAM NAMED STOCKFISH:

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c3 Be7 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 d5 7. e5 f6 8. Nc3 fxe5 9. dxe5 d4 10. Bf4 dxc3 11. Rd1 Bd7 12. e6 cxb2 13. exd7+ Qxd7 14. Rxd7 b1=Q+ 15. Rd1 Qf5 16. g3 Rd8 17. Bg2 Rxd1+ 18. Qxd1 Bb4+ 19. Nd2 Qe6+ 20. Be3 Qc4 21. Qe2 Qc1+ 22. Qd1 Bxd2+ 23. Bxd2 Qxd1+ 24. Kxd1 Nf6 25. Be3 Kd7 26. Ke2 Re8 27. Rb1 Kc8 28. Kf1 a6 29. Bh3+ Kb8 30. Bg2 Kc8 31. Bh3+ Kb8 32. Bg3+ 1/2-1/2

Cool Hand Luke Widjaja Vs Yusheng Xia

The following game was contested at the venerable Mechanic’s Institute Chess Room, and can be found annotated by GM Nick DeFirmian at the Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter (https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/1006). I had every intention of presenting the game until seeing it annotated by Nick and, not wanting to step on the Grandmaster’s toes, decided to not publish the game. For various reasons, as Bob Dylan sang:

Luke Widjaja (1792) vs Yusheng Xia (2294) [C00]
MI 2nd Shipman mem TNM: 1800+ San Francisco (6.3), 08.02.2022
C00 French, Reti (Spielmann) variation
1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 6.Nxe4 Be7 7.0-0-0 0-0 8.Nf3 a5 9.a4 Nb4 10.d4 b6 11.c3 Nbd5 12.c4 Nb4 13.Nxf6+ Bxf6 14.Qe4 Rb8 15.h4 Bb7 16.Qe3 c6 17.Kb1 Ba6 18.Ng5 b5 19.Bd3 Nxd3 20.Qxd3 g6 21.Ne4 bxc4 22.bxc4 Rb4 23.h5 Bxc4 24.Qe3 Bg7 25.hxg6 Qb6 26.gxh7+ Kh8 27.Rd2 Rb8 28.Qc3 Bd3+ 29.Qxd3 Rxb2+ 30.Ka1 Rxd2 0-1

1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 (The ChessBaseDataBase contains 507 games in which the game move has been played. It has scored 53% against an ELO average opponent rated 2366. The next most often played move has been 3 exd5. In 7 games against an ELO average opponent rated only 2272, it has scored an abysmal 43%. Deep Fritz and Stockfish 11 both play the move played in the game. Nevertheless, Stockfish 14.1 @depth 48 will play 3 exd5!! Where is Leela Zero when you need her?) 3…dxe4 (There are 258 games in the CBDB in which this move has been made, showing a 56% score against 2361 opposition; 3…Nf6 has been seen in 184 games, scoring 49% versus a mythical player rated 2383; 3…c5 has only been seen in 52 games while scoring 58%, the highest of all games showing double digit moves. Then there is 3…Nc6…The move has been attempted on 11 occasions in which it has ‘scored’ every bit of 27% facing that composite player rated 2358. “Why is the AW wasting his time and mine informing me of that last factoid?” you ask?) Because Stockfish 14.1 @depth 52 will play…drum roll please…3…Nc6!!!!!!!!!) 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2! (If you do not know why the inclusion of the exclamation mark you have not read anywhere near enough of the AW) 5…Nc6 (Stockfish 14.1 @depth 48 will play 5…Bb4) 6.Nxe4 (Three different Stockfish programs would 0-0-0, and so should you) 6…Be7 (Fritz and Deep Hiarcs prefer the move played in the game move, but SF 11 will take the Knight with 6…Nxe4)

White to move

7.0-0-0 (SF 14 plays 7 Nf3) 7…0-0 (Stockfish 13 & 14 prefer 7…a5. See Fylypiu vs Sanchis Gil below) 8.Nf3 a5 9.a4 (Komodo and Deep Fritz play 9 Nxf6, but the ol’ Fish will play 9 a3) 9…Nb4 (Deep Fritz plays this move, but Stockfish 13 and Komodo will play 9…b6) 10.d4 (The Fish and the Dragon both play 10 Nxf6+. Therefore the move played in the game is a Theoretical Novelty!)

Position after Theoretical Novelty 10 d4

Dmitre Fylypiu vs Salvador Sanchis Gil
Event: Valencia Sur Clubs tt
Site: Valencia Date: ??/??/2003
Round: ? Score: 0-1
ECO: C00 French, Reti (Spielmann) variation
1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Be7 6.Nxe4 Nc6 7.O-O-O a5 8.Nxf6+ gxf6 9.g4 Qd5 10.Qf3 Qxf3 11.Nxf3 Rg8 12.Rg1 Bd7 13.h3 a4 14.Bb5 Nb4 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.d3 Nd5 17.b4 c5 18.c4 Nf4 19.b5 Ne2+ 20.Kc2 Nxg1 21.Rxg1 h5 22.d4 cxd4 23.Bxd4 hxg4 24.hxg4 Rac8 25.Kc3 e5 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=2817677&m=15

Luis Ernesto Rodi (2243) vs Emilio Ramirez (2293)
Event: Olavarria Magistral op 4th
Site: Olavarria Date: 02/27/2004
Round: 4.8 Score: 0-1
ECO: C00 French, Reti (Spielmann) variation
1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Nc6 6.Nxe4 Be7 7.O-O-O O-O 8.d4 a5 9.g4 a4 10.g5 Nxe4 11.Qxe4 axb3 12.axb3 Bxg5+ 13.Kb1 Qd5 14.Qg4 Bh6 15.Bg2 Qa5 16.f4 e5 17.Qe2 Bxf4 18.c4 exd4 19.Bxc6 bxc6 20.Bxd4 Bf5+ 21.Kb2 c5 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Qg2+ Bg6 24.Qd5 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=2878718&m=16

“2 Qe2, here we go!”

Let me begin by returning to Tuesday morning, July 13, which began at o’dark thirty, specifically, 6:30 am. After a botched root canal exactly one week prior (it seems much longer) I had been down for the count. The spurts of energy had not been long lasting, which is why I’ve posted things that have required little time or thought. I was working on a book review that should have been out long ago, and other Chess related posts, but then a tooth began causing a problem. This was after taking the first of two shots of the Covid vaccine. I decided to ‘ride it out’ while hoping to be able to wait until two weeks after the second shot, as recommended, before seeing a dentist. By the time I made it to the dental office I was in pain, boss, The PAIN! Fortunately the pain was quelled with drugs. I was informed a root canal operation would be required, but because they were booked I would have to wait until September. Fortunately, or maybe not, depending, there was a cancellation and I was roto-rooted on Tuesday, the sixth of July, exactly one week from where we begin this story…

There was a powerful storm Monday night, July 12, that knocked out all contact with the world; no internet or TV, so I went to bed early. After breakfast I was giving strong consideration to crawling back into bed when the Ironman called, informing me that Zvjaginsev had played Qe2 against the French defense of Ravi Haria, in a “win or go home game.” Immediately I saw a post for that day in my head. I began watching the game, but then had to break in order to purchase some food at the local grocery store. Upon my return my attention was devoted to the C00 French, Chigorin variation, as it is known at 365chess.com.

The chat from Da Bomb says it all…

zluria: Z man in a must win situation. He used to play all kinds of crazy stuff back in the day
zluria: 2 Qe2, here we go!
zluria: Idea: if Black continues on autopilot with 2… d5 then after exd5 Black can’t recapture with the pawn.
zluria: Ok Black is out of book.
Rhinegold: fucky lucky vadim but ok good fighting choice
Rhinegold: very drawish, 48w
zluria: Wow, good going Z-man! see you tomorrow 🙂

I love the part about the Z-man “playing crazy stuff back in the day.” The Z man is only in his mid forties. You wanna know about ‘back in the day’? I will tell you all you wanna know about ‘back in the day’… And yes, I have followed the Z Man with interest for decades because he has played “all kinds of crazy stuff.”

Vadim Zvjaginsev (2608)

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.svwzv.nl%2Fimages%2Fbordenmeisje%2Fkasparov_special%2Fzvjaginsev.jpg&f=1&nofb=1
svwzv.nl

vs Ravi Haria (2440)

https://www.oshwal.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Photo-e1623788635460.png
https://www.oshwal.org.uk/member-spotlight-ravi-haria/

FIDE World Cup 2021 round 01-02

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Nf3 d5 4. d3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. h4 c5 7. g3 Nc6 8. Bg2 (TN See Kislinsky vs Polivanov below for 8 Bh3) 8…b5 9. O-O Bb7 10. Re1 h6 11. h5 b4 12. Bf4 a5 13. c4 Nb6 14. Nbd2 Qd7 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. Ne4 Nxf4 17. gxf4 Ba6 18. Rad1 Rd8 19. Nfd2 O-O 20. Qg4 Kh8 21. Nb3 Qa7 22. Ng3 Nd4 23. Nxa5 Bb5 24. Nc4 Bxc4 25. dxc4 Qxa2 26. f5 Qxb2 27. Be4 Rde8 28. Kh1 Qxf2 29. Rf1 Qe3 30. Rxd4 cxd4 31. fxe6 Qg5 32. Qxg5 Bxg5 33. Rxf7 Bf4 34. Nf5 Bxe5 35. Ne7 Bd6 36. Ng6+ Kg8 37. Rd7 Bc5 38. e7 Bxe7 39. Nxe7+ Kf7 40. Ng6+ Kf6 41. Rd6+ Kg5 42. Rd5+ Kg4 43. Rxd4 Rf3 44. Kg2 Re3 45. Bc6+ Kxh5 46. Nf4+ Kg5 47. Bxe8 Rxe8 48. c5 b3 49. Rb4 Re3 50. c6 Rc3 51. c7 Kf5 52. Nd5 Rc2+ 53. Kf3 Ke5 54. Rb5 Kd4 55. Nf4 Rc3+ 56. Kg4 Ke4 57. Ne6 Rc4 58. Rc5 1-0
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-fide-world-cup/01-02-Zvjaginsev_Vadim-Haria_Ravi

1.e4 e6 2. Qe2 (Two different Komodo programs show the most frequently played move, 2 d4, but Stockfish 13, going deep to depth 74, chooses the seldom played 2 Nc3, which has only scored 51% according to the CBDB. I kid you not!) 2…Be7 (This is Komodo’s choice; Stockfish plays 2…c5) 3. Nf3 (Both Komodo and Houdini play 3 d4, but Deep Fritz plays the game move) 3…d5 4. d3 (Houdini and Deep Fritz play this move, which has 209 games in the ChessBaseDataBase. Stockfish 13 @depth 31 would play 4 d4, a move attempted only once according to the CBDB) 4…Nf6 5. e5 (SF & the Dragon prefer 5 g3) 5…Nfd7 6. h4 c5

Vadim Zvjaginsev (2635) vs Sergey Volkov (2594)
Event: 16th TCh-RUS Premier
Site: Dagomys RUS Date: 04/08/2009
Round: 5 Score: 1-0
ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d3 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 b5 7.g3 c5 8.Bg2 Nc6 9.O-O a5 10.a4 b4 11.c4 bxc3 12.bxc3 Nb6 13.Bf4 c4 14.d4 Bd7 15.h5 h6 16.g4 Na7 17.Qc2 Bc6 18.Bg3 Qd7 19.Kh2 Bxa4 20.Qe2 Nb5 21.Nh4 Bb3 22.f4 a4 23.f5 a3 24.fxe6 fxe6 25.Ng6 Rg8 26.Nxe7 Qxe7 27.Nd2 Na4 28.Nxb3 Naxc3 29.Qc2 cxb3 30.Qxb3 a2 31.Be1 Ra3 32.Qb2 Qa7 33.Rf3 Rf8 34.Bxc3 Rxf3 35.Qxb5+ Qd7 36.Qb8+ Qd8 37.Qb5+ Qd7 38.Qb8+ Qd8 39.Qxd8+ Kxd8 40.Bxf3 Rxc3 41.Bxd5 exd5 42.Rxa2 Rd3 43.Ra4 Ke7 44.Kg2 Kf7 45.Kf2 g5 46.Ke2 Rg3 47.Ra7+ Kg8 48.Rd7 Rxg4 49.Rxd5 Rh4 50.Rd6 Kf7 51.Rf6+ Ke7 52.Ke3 Rxh5 53.d5 g4 54.Kf4 Rh1 55.d6+ Ke8 56.Kxg4 h5+ 57.Kf5 Kd7 58.Rf7+ Kc6 59.Ke6 h4 60.Rc7+ Kb6 61.Rc8 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=3674672

Vadim Zvjaginsev’s Amazing Immortal Chess Game! – “The Pearl of Wijk aan Zee” – Brilliancy!

Upset in Sautron

The games from the National Open were being broadcast by a website new to me, FollowChess (http://followchess.com/news/). Further exploration brought a page of upsets, nothing but upsets (http://followchess.com/share/). Everyone loves an upset, unless they are the one being upset! The first entry is:

Upset in Sautron: Flachet 2025 beat Sergeev 2417. Attack & Tactics!
October 27, 2017

The game is, according to 365Chess, a C00 French, Chigorin variation! What are the odds?! If you are a regular of this blog you KNOW I was compelled to play over the game…

Vladimir Sergeev (2417) vs Thierry Flachet (2025)

17e open international de Sautron, 2017.10.26

1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Be7 (Stockfish at the ChessBaseDataBase gives this as best. Komodo prefers 2…c5, which is the move chosen by Siegbert Tarrasch

in the second game of the 1893 match with Mikhail Chigorin,

still the most outstanding Chess match ever contested. Seven times Chigorin played 2 Qe2 against his opponent’s French defense. If you have not played over the match I urge you do do so. It can be found at a fantastic historical website, chessgames.com (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=85135)

Here is a game played by Chigorin and the man who lost the US Chess Championship to Frank Marshall,

Jackson Whipps Showalter,

on June 13, 1899 in London. Chigorin pulled a rabbit out of his hat when playing his third move, a move that cannot be found at the CBDB!

Mikhail Chigorin vs Jackson Whipps Showalter

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Qg4 Nf6 4. Qxg7 Rg8 5. Qh6 Nc6 6. Nf3 Rg6 7. Qe3 d5 8. e5 d4 9. Qb3 Nd7 10. Bb5 Nc5 11. Qc4 Rxg2 12. b4 Nd7 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Qxd4 Rb8 15. Ba3 a5 16. bxa5 Rxb1+ 17. Rxb1 Bxa3 18. Qa4 Bc5 19. Qxc6 Kf8 20. d4 Be7 21. a6 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 Nb6 23. Qb7 Kg7 24. Kf1 Rg6 25. Rg1 Nd5 26. Rxg6+ hxg6 27. c4 Nf4 28. Qb8 Qd7 29. Qa8 Bf8 30. Rb8 Qe7 31. c5 Nh3 32. Qc6 1-0. Back to the game…)

3 Nf3 d5 4 e5 (Komodo’s choice of 4 d3 is far and away the most often played move, although Stockfish 9 at a depth of 32 gives 4 d4. Stochfish 9×64, at a depth of 25, shows the game move)

4…Nh6 (SF 9 and Komodo 11.2 2 64-bit at depth 27 play 4…c5, but Komodo 9.2 64-bit at depth 25 would play the game move)

5 h4? (I considered being kind and including an exclamation mark after the question mark but not because the move is dubious but because the move is so shocking. Consider for a moment you are sitting across from your student. Let us call him “Allen.” He has just begun showing his most recent rated game and you are sitting behind the black pieces. Your first instinct may be something like, “What the hell kinda move is THAT?!” You cannot say this because Allen is a “Priest.” So you stifle yourself and say, “That is a bad move.” Although a middle-aged man Allen looks like one of your young students as he hangs his head before asking, “Why is it bad?” As you sit gazing into the distance you consider his lowly 701 rating and recall some of the lame opening moves you played in the past before replying, “Because it is unnecessary.” Then you tell him about how important time is in the opening phase of the game, and of the many things one needs to accomplish in the opening, such as development, etc. You would follow by explaining why 5 g3, to develop the bishop, is the way to play this particular opening. This would also be the time you attempted to explain why h4 may be a decent move in the opening if black has weakened his pawn structure when playing g6. This would make Allen feel a little better, especially if you add, “In many openings the same moves are played, but what matters is not the move played, but the order in which they are played. There must be a reason for every move.” Since you must sit there and see the remaining moves of Allen’s game you decide to show him the opening moves of the game between Dimitri Bogdanov (2175) and Bjorn Brinck Claussen (2354) from the 21st Politiken Cup in 1999 at Copenhagen. 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Be7 3 Nf3 d5 4 e5 Nh6 5 g3 f5 6 d4 Nf7 7 h4. “See how the pawn stops any black piece from coming to g5?” you ask. “Now the rook pawn move has a purpose,” you say as the color begins returning to Allen’s face. This causes you to show him the rest of the game before having to get back to his game. After all, you are getting paid by the hour…

7…c5 8. dxc5 Na6 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Bg2 Nxc5 11. Bd4 O-O 12. O-O Bd7 13. Re1 b5 14. Nbd2 a5 15. Bxc5 Qxc5 16. Nb3 Qb6 17. Nbd4 Nd8 18. Qd2 Nb7 19. Rad1 Nc5 20. Qf4 b4 21. Bf1 a4 22. Re3 Ne4 23. Rdd3 a3 24. bxa3 Rxa3 25. Rxa3 bxa3 26. Rb3 Qa7 27. Kg2 Rc8 28. Qe3 Qc7 29. Ba6 Rb8 30. Rxb8+ Qxb8 31. Qb3 Qa7 32. Bb5 Bc8 33. c4 Bc5 34. Qd3 g6 35. cxd5 exd5 36. Nc6 Qb6 37. Qxd5+ Kg7 38. Bc4 Qb2 39. Kh3 Qxf2 0-1)

5…c5 6 d3 Nf5 (6…Ng4 would be possible because of white playing pawn to h4) 7 c3 h6 8 h5 Nc6 9 Na3 a6 10 Nc2 b5

11 g3 (Although the move could have possibly been played earlier, now looks like the right time for 11 g4)

11…a5 (The coach would have to take time here explaining why development should be completed before launching any kind of aggressive movement, such as the last move. 11…O-O or Bb7 are good alternative moves)

12 Bg2 Rb8 13 Bf4 b4 14 c4 b3 15 ab3 Rb3 16 Bc1 Ba6 17 O-O O-O 18 Re1 dc4 19 dc4 Ncd4 20 Ncd4 Nd4 21 Nd4 cd4

22 Rd1 (22 Qg4! Kh8 23 Bd2 looks about equal) 22…Bc5 23 Be4? (23 Bxh6! gxh6 24 Qg4+ Kh8 25 Qf4 Kh7 26 Be4+ Kg7 27 Qg4+ Kh8 28 Qf4 looks like all white can hope for at this point in the game)

Take a good look at this position as black. What move would you make?

23 Rg3! (Brings the house DOWN! Examine ALL checks, something neglected by the much higher rated player)

24 Kf1 d3 (I looked at moving the rook to either b3 or h3, in addition to 24…f5, so the move in the game took me by surprise) 25. Rd3 Rd3

26 Bd3 (The human brain rejects 26 Qxd3 Qh4 27 Kg2 Qxf2+ 28 Kh3, leaving the King naked in no mans land) 26…Qh4 27. Qf3 Rd8 ( As my friend the Master of Understatement was fond of saying, 27…Bb7 looks strong, not that it matters) 28. Be4 Bc4 29. Kg2 Rd4 30. Ra5 Re4 31. Ra8 Kh7 32. Qe4 Qe4 0-1

P. Vessosi (2351) vs M. Astengo (2064)

Lodi Open 2008

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Nf3 d5 4. e5 Nh6 5. d3 Nf5 6. g3 c5 7. Bg2 Nc6 8. O-O g5 9. c3 h5 10. h3 g4 11. hxg4 hxg4 12. Nh2 Nh6 13. Rd1
Bd7 14. Na3 Qb6 15. Bxh6 Rxh6 16. Nxg4 Rg6 17. Bf3 O-O-O 18. Kg2 Rdg8 19. Rac1 Kb8 20. Rh1 Qa5 21. Rh6 Rxg4 22. Bxg4 Bg5 23. Rch1 Bxh6 24. Rxh6 b5 25. Bh5 Be8 26. d4 c4 27. Qd2 b4 28. cxb4 Qxb4 29. Qc3 Qf8 30. Rf6 Rh8 31. g4 Nb4 32. Nc2 Nd3 33. Ne1 Qg7 34. Kf1 Qh7 35. Nxd3 cxd3 36. Qb4+ Ka8 37. f3 Qg7 38. Qd2 Qh7 39. Ke1 Rf8 40. b3 Bb5 41. a4 Ba6 42. b4 Bc4 43. b5 Qg7 44. Qf4 Qh7 45. Kd2 Bb3 46. Rxf7 Rxf7 47. Qxf7 Qh6+ 48. f4 Bxa4 49. g5 Qh8 50. Qe8+ 1-0

The general of the white pieces takes 46 seconds of his five minutes to play his THIRD move of the game, obviously flummoxed by the choice of move made by the general of the black pieces.