It is the much needed rest day at the St. Louis Chess Campus which means time for the AW to put together a post. Much time has been spent the past five days watching the excellent coverage of the three ongoing tournaments. Having three Grandmasters use the Stockfish “engine” at Lichess.com does seem somewhat superfluous. I can access the SF program at Lichess.com without watching and listening to the GMs pontificate, but then I would miss the wonderful anecdotes, stories and tales related by Yasser Seirawan,
which are worth the price of admission. Still, I cannot help but wonder why Yaz does not play in the event?
It is difficult to comment on the play of the players because of the abnormality of playing during a pandemic. Some players have scraped off some the rust by playing recently while others are covered with the crusty brown stuff. In addition, it is apparent some of the players are not ready for prime time. An example would be that of International Master Igor Khmelnitsky
in the third round when facing GM Max Dlugy
in the seldom played D00 Queen’s pawn, Mason variation, Steinitz counter-gambit. After 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 c5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 dxe4 5. dxc5 the IM played what the Stockfish program at Lichess.com call a “blunder” 5…Bg4?? The move appears to be a theoretical novelty, and not a good one. After playing the move Stockfish considers white to have a won game. It was no surprise when Igor went down…
IM Carissa Yip
is playing with the boys in the US Junior in lieu of playing in the US Girls Junior and it has not turned out well for the girl, who has drawn two games while losing three, and is in last place, one half point behind Pedro Espinosa,
to whom she lost yesterday. Pedro is the lowest rated competitor in the tournament, sporting a 2130 rating, almost three hundred points less than Carissa. One cannot help but wonder what she is doing playing with the back in town boys when there is a separate tournament for the girls.
The US Junior girls tournament is far weaker since at least one of the girls who took Carissa’s place in the event has shown she is not ready for prime time. The event would have been much more interesting had Carissa played with the girls. This begs the question of why there is a completely separate tournament for the girls? Chess would be much better if there were only tournaments in which everyone, if qualified, could play. Wait a minute, you say, that is the way it is currently. Chess tournaments are open to all, so why segregate female players? Segregation says women are inferior to men, which is the reason female tournaments are open only to women.
Consider the following position emanating from the third round game between Ellen Wang
and Jennifer Yu:
The question is whether Jennifer Yu should play 31…Rg3? Would YOU play the move? Would I play the move? In this kind of position it is virtually impossible for a human, even a Grandmaster, to calculate all the possibilities, which is where the computer program has a distinct advantage over we humans. This is the kind of position in which humans must use intuition to discover the best move. After 31 Rb2 Jennifer had eighteen minutes remaining to reach move 40. She used about half of her remaining time to make her move. For those of you who have not seen the game it can be found here, along with the answer to the question of how much Jennifer Yu trusted her Chess intuition (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-girls-junior-championship-2022/round-3/EnME23UK)
In the first round GM Joel Benjamin had the white pieces versus GM Alexander Shabalov, who had recently competed in the World Open and must have been tired and it has shown in his tepid play. Shabba is, after all, a Senior, and Seniors require more rest than juniors, or even middle-aged players. The following position was reached early in the game:
In the last round of the recently concluded Carolinas Classic GM Daniel Naroditsky faced IM Dean Ippolito.
Both players had won three games and drawn one for a total of 3 1/2 points. They were in a must win situation because GM Elshan Moradiabadi had won his first four games and taken a half-point bye in the last round. Say what?! The dude was given a 1/2 point bye in THE LAST ROUND! Say what?! For those of you new to the Royal game, the half-point bye began many decades ago when three games, usually with a time control of 40 moves in two hours, would be taken in the third round, which was the third game to be played on Saturday. Some players would take a half-point bye in the first round, with others taking a half-point bye in the fourth round in order to attend church. As the Legendary Ironman of Georgia Chess so eloquently put it once, “When I’m sitting at the board on Sunday morning I am in my church.” The excretory awarding of a half-point bye for not playing the last round game is abhorrent and should never, ever have been allowed. The awarding of a free half-point bye in the last round blasphemes Caissa and should be abolished. If a player cannot, or will not play in the final round for any reason he should be given the result he deserves, a ZERO! The games are played earlier in the tournament to arrive at the final round. It is, obviously, the most important round of the event. The awarding of a half-point for not playing the last round should never have been allowed, and it being allowed speaks volumes about those in charge of Chess these daze…
GM Naroditsky defeated IM Dean Ippolito easily when the latter played like a complete beginner by bringing out his Queen early in the game, then later retreated the Lady for no reason, and it was all over but the shouting after that ill-fated move.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 (Although Stockfish 14.1 plays this move, SF 15 will play the most often played move, 3 Nxe5) 3…Nxe4 4.Bd3 (The most often played move, and the choice of SF 14.1, @depth 55, but SF 150007 @depth 55 will play 4 Nxe5, expecting 4…d5 5 Bd3. Then again, at the same depth SF 150007, the James Bond of programs, also shows 4 Bd3 d5 5 Nxe5) 4…d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nxd7 Bxd7 7.O-O Qh4 (SF 14 @depth 53 will play 7…Bd6, by far the most often played move, but SF 280322 will play 7…Be7, a move that has appeared in only 127 games while holding white to 62% versus 2462 opposition. In 817 games 7…Bd6 has held white to 57% against 2465 opposition. In 291 games against 2409 opposition the move played in the game, 7…Qh4 has allowed a theoretical opponent rated 2409 to score 70% in 291 games. This was the last round game and IM Dean Ippolito was rated 240 points below GM Naroditsky, rated 2695, so maybe the lower rated IM felt he needed to pull a rabbit out of his whatever, but how could any Chess player with any four digit rating advocate any player in his right mind play a move like 7…Qh4?
Imagine you were giving a young student a lesson when they suggested a move like 7…Qh4? How would you respond? That is exactly my point. I knew, you knew, and GM Naroditsky knew IM Ippolito was going down after bring out the Queen that early. What? You think you are going to trick a player about to enter the elite world of 2700 rated Grandmasters by playing a second rate Chess move? Dude shoulda played a solid, “seemple” move, as IM Boris Kogan was so fond of saying, like 7…Bd6, and maybe have a shot at drawing the game. The move is so ridiculous that a Chess teacher would excoriate a student unmercifully for playing such a poor move. I lost interest in the game after seeing this move, and you have probably lost interest in this post…and I do not blame you!) 8.c4 O-O-O 9.c5 g6 (The most often played move has been g5, with 151 games showing at the ChessBaseDataBase, against which white has scored 67%. In the 53 games with 9…g6 having been played white has scored 75%) 10.Nc3 Bg7 11.Bxe4 (The CBDB contains 23 games with 11 g3; 15 with 11 Ne2; 6 with 11 Be2; and only 2 with the move played in the game, 11 Bxe4, but it is the choice of SF 14.1. 365Chess does not contain the move considered best by Stockfish) 11…dxe4 12.Be3 f5 13.Qd2 (This is a TN. One game has been played with 13…h6 having been attempted. SF 14.1 will, given the chance, play a TN of its own with 13…Bc6) I usually stop here but let us continue a few moves further on up the road…the game continued with 14.a4 before IM Ippolito played a horrible move, retreating his Queen with 14…Qf6?
The game, for all intents and purposes, was over when Ippo removed his grip from the Queen. The comment at Lichess.org is, “Blunder. 14…a6 was best.” The it shows 14…a6 15.Nd5. But here’s the deal…There is an arrow in the position showing the Rook moving from h8 to f8, and a line beginning with 14…Rhf8 15 g3 Qh5, etc. So which is it, Lichess, 14…a6 or 14…Rhf8? Inquiring minds want to know the TRUTH, as it was known in those long ago days… Where have I heard that before?… https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-carolinas-chess-classic–championship-section/round-5/E2tBybjJ
GM Alexander Shabalov and IM David Brodsky also finished in a tie for first place, with each winning $600. The plaque went to the dude who received a half point bye for not playing a game in the final round, GM Elshan Moradiabadi, aka, the ‘Hat Man’:
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=188.8.131.52.453.525.454.526.711.742.712] or do we?)
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.
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=184.108.40.206.453.525.1942.2541.4273.4841.4274). 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
faced the French defense played by former US Women’s Chess Champ Tatev Abrahamyan:
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:
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:
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:
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.”
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
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.”
The last move played was 34 Kh3-g2. White has the better position. I know this, you know this, and every Chess player who has made it to class ‘B’ knows this, and possibly every player who has made it to class ‘C’ and no longer plays the Queen’s Raid knows this fact. If you are teaching the Royal game to a neophyte it could be explained by beginning with the fact that white has more space. In addition, each and every white piece is better placed than each black counterpart. Then there is the fact that the white Queen and Rook are working together whereas the black Queen and Rook are separated while being tied down to the defense of the weak a-pawn. Even the white King is better placed than its counterpart. Even after suffering a brain cramp the World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen
would win this position 99 44/100 percent of the time against the other nine elite players in the top ten. The decision to repeat the position three times, thereby forcing the game to end in a draw was one of the most pusillanimous ever made considering it came in the third round of the 2021 US Women’s Chess Championship, played Friday, October 8, 2021.
is higher rated by almost 200 points, and is one of the favorites to win the tournament. Knowing little about Megan Lee I went to the website of the US Championships to find this:
“Megan Lee is a chess Woman International Master. She completed her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design with a minor in Art History. Most recently, she won the 2020 Washington State Championships and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open. Other highlights include winning the 2013 North American Youth U18 Girls Championship and the 2009 Kasparov All-Girls Nationals Championship. Outside of chess, Megan runs two small businesses, an embroidery shop and a lifestyle brand, Snippet Studios. She also enjoys playing board games, skating, clam digging, and making things.” (https://uschesschamps.com/bio/megan-lee)
I can only speculate as to why Megan Lee let her clam get away… What I can say is that this game vividly illustrates why the three time repetition rule MUST BE ABOLISHED! It is terribly sad that any Chess player must be forced to attempt winning a game when having a huge advantage, but something, anything, must be done to at least mitigate the slow death by draw that is plaguing the Royal Game. There is no three time repetition rule in the game of Wei Chi, or Go, as it is called in the West, which is the main, or at least one of the major reasons Go is a better game than is Chess. Go is played to WIN. A draw in Go is anathema, as it should be in Chess. Any Chess player repeating the position for the third time should LOSE THE GAME! Period. What makes this even worse is that during the game Anna Sharevich
versus Irina Krush
played the previous day in the second round, after Irina lost her mind in a completely won position and blundered horribly when playing 66…Bf7, the two players battled until each had only a Rook and pawn left on the board. Then they shook hands, agreeing to a draw, but because of the rules in force during the tournament the women were forced to sit there and play many moves until finally finding a position in which a three fold repetition could be played, thus ending the game which should have ended long earlier. This is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. To be taken seriously in the world of games and ideas Chess needs to get its act together.