Richard Francisco’s Quest for the Elusive IM Norm at the Summer 2019 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitational

The CCCSA Summer 2019 GM/IM Norm Invitational was held at the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy June 6-9. There were three sections, GM; IM B; & IM C. After an overview we will focus on the IM B section for reasons which will become clear soon enough. But first I would like to mention the GM section ended in a tie between GM Karen Grigoryan, of Armenia, and IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, from the USA. Grigoryan was running away with the tournament until losing to IM Kassa Korley in the penultimate round. In the last round Grigoryan lost to Ostrovskiy while still clinging to a share of the lead.

In the IM C section GM Carlos Antonio Hevia Alejano, from Texas, shared first place with NM Aydin Turgut of Indiana. Full standings can be found @

GM Alonso Zapata,

now a resident of the Great State of Georgia, ran away with the section, finishing a clear point ahead of the field with 7 1/2 points. IM Felix Jose Ynojosa Aponte,

from Venezuela, was second with 6 1/2 points. They met in the seventh round:

Felix Jose Ynojosa Aponte (VEN) vs Alonso Zapata (COL)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 07

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Bd3 Ne7 6. O-O (SF plays 6 b3 a move not seen since 1999, according to 365Chess. The move has appeared in only four games. There are no games at the ChessBaseDataBase with the move)
O-O 7. h3 (SF plays 7 Re1; Komodo plays 7 b3 a TN) c6 8. Re1 Ng6 (TN-SF plays 8…Na6) 9. c4 ½-½

Granted, this was the second game of the day so there must have been little thought from the GM other than to accept the gift. Zapata was born in August, 1958 and is currently sixty one years old. Aponte was born in 1996, and had the white pieces, yet did not even attempt to make a game of it against his much older rival. This reminds of the time decades ago when Ron Burnett had been paired with Sammy Reshevsky at a tournament such as the US Open, or maybe a World Open. Ron was ready for the battle, talking trash about what he was about to do to his opponent. “But Ron,” I said, “Sammy is a legend.” Ron shot back, “He ain’t nothing but an old man.” Once a player reaches a certain age he becomes the Rodney Dangerfield of Chess.

This was Aponte’s moment and what did he do? He offered a draw…Aponte has no cojones and unless he grows a pair in the near future the GM title will remain out of reach. Contrast the “game” and I use the term loosely, with Zapata’s last round game:

Alex Kolay (USA)

vs Alonso Zapata (COL)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 09

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 Nbd7 7. Bg5 e5 8. d5 a5 9. g4 Nc5 10. Nd2 c6 11. Be2 Bd7 12. Rg1 a4 13. b4 axb3 14. axb3 Qb6 15. Rb1 Qb4 16. Qc2 Ra3 17. Kf1 Rfa8 18. Kg2 Na6 19. Qb2 Nc7 20. Be3 Nfe8 21. f3 R3a5 22. Ra1 Rxa1 23. Rxa1 Rxa1 24. Qxa1 Bf6 25. Qb2 c5 26. Na2 Qa5 27. b4 cxb4 28. Nxb4 Bd8 29. Nd3 b5 30. c5 f6 31. g5 Qa8 32. cxd6 Nxd6 33. Nc5 Be8 34. f4 Nf7 35. fxe5 fxe5 36. d6 Nxd6 37. Qxe5 Nf7 38. Qg3 Qc6 39. Ndb3 Qd6 40. Bf4 Qe7 41. h4 Ne6 42. Nxe6 Qxe6 43. Qd3 Bb6 44. Nd4 Qe7 45. Be3 b4 46. Nc2 Bc7 47. Nd4 Qe5 48. Nf3 Qe6 49. Nd2 Bd7 50. Bf2 Ne5 51. Qc2 Qh3+ 52. Kg1 Bd6 53. Qa2+ Kf8 54. Qd5 Nf7 55. Nf3 Qe6 56. Qa8+ Qe8 57. Qxe8+ Kxe8 58. Bc4 Bc6 59. Nd2 Ne5 60. Bg8 Kf8 61. Bb3 Bb5 62. Kg2 Nd3 63. Kf3 Nxf2 64. Kxf2 Bf4 65. Nf3 Bc6 66. Nd4 Bd7 67. Kf3 Bd2 68. Nc2 Bc3 69. Ke3 Bg4 70. Nd4 Be1 71. Nc6 Bxh4 72. Kf4 Be2 73. Nxb4 Be1 74. Nd5 Bd2+ 75. Ne3 Kg7 76. e5 Bd3 77. Kf3 Bc3 78. e6 Bb5 79. Nd5 Be5 80. Nb6 Bd6 81. Ke4 Be7 82. Kf4 Bd6+ 83. Ke4 Kf8 84. Nd7+ Bxd7 ½-½

Tying for third place were Georgia native NM Richard Francisco,

now thirty five years of age, and his last round opponent NM Zachary Dukic,

from Canada. They both finished with 6 points; 6 1/2 were required to earn an IM norm.

In the first round Richard faced a young (birth year 1997) IM Martin Lokander, from Sweden.

NM Richard Francisco (USA) – Martin Lokander (SWE)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 01

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Bd7 5. Nf3 a6 (5…Nc6 SF) 6. Bd3 cxd4 (Komodo and Stockfish at the CBDB both play 6…Nc6, but the SF at ChessBomb considers 6…Qc7, a potential TN, equal to Nc6) 7. cxd4 Bb5 (SF prefers 7…Nc6)

8. O-O? (This shows a lack of understanding of the position and is the beginning of problems for Richard. Both the Fish and the Dragon would play 8 Bc2. There are many other, better, moves, such as 8 Bxb5+; 8 Nc3; and 8 Bg5, all shown at the ChessBomb) Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Ne7 10. Nc3 Nbc6 (For 10 N3c6 see Papahristoudis v Savoglou below) 11. Ne2 Rc8 12. Bd2 Nf5 13. Nf4 Be7

14. g3? (This is obviously a very weak move and gives the advantage to black. There was no need to voluntarily weaken the castled position. Richard needs to read Sam Shankland’s book…Stockfish says 14 Rac1 keeps the game balanced. Unfortunately for our hero Richard, the game went downhill from here. This is my last comment on the game, which can be found here, along with input from Stockfish, albeit with little time to “cogitate.”

g5 15. Ne2 f6 16. g4 Nh6 17. exf6 Bxf6 18. h4 Nxg4 19. hxg5 Bg7 20. Nf4 O-O 21. Nxe6 Qd6 22. Nxf8 Rxf8 23. Ne5 Ngxe5 24. dxe5 Nxe5 25. Qg3 Nf3+ 26. Kg2 Qxg3+ 27. fxg3 Nxd2 28. Rxf8+ Kxf8 29. Rd1 Nc4 30. Kf3 d4 31. b3 Nd6 32. Rc1 Kf7 33. Rc7+ Kg6 34. Kf4 h6 35. gxh6 Bxh6+ 36. Kf3 Kf6 37. Ke2 Be3 38. Kd3 Kf5 39. a4 Bf2 40. Rg7 a5 41. Rg8 Nf7 42. g4+ Kf6 43. Rb8 Ne5+ 44. Ke2 Bh4 45. Rxb7 d3+ 46. Kd1 Nxg4 47. Rd7 Nf2+ 48. Kd2 Bg5+ 49. Ke1 Be3 50. Rd5 Ke6 51. Rd8 Ke5 52. Rd7 Ke4 53. Rd8 Bc5 54. Re8+ Kf3 55. Rb8 Ne4 56. Kd1 Bb4 57. Rd8 Ke3 58. Re8 Kd4 59. Kc1 Nf2 0-1

Anastasios Papahristoudis (2111) vs Nikolaos Savoglou (1890)

Ambelokipi op 75th 01/17/2007

C02 French, advance variation
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Bd7 5.Nf3 a6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb5 8.O-O Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Ne7 10.Nc3 Nec6 11.a3 Nd7 12.Bf4 Be7 13.Rac1 Nb6 14.b4 O-O 15.Nd2 Qd7 16.Be3 f6 17.f4 fxe5 18.fxe5 Rxf1+ 19.Rxf1 Rf8 20.Rxf8+ Bxf8 21.Nf3 Be7 22.h4 Nc4 23.Bc1 b5 24.Ne2 Qe8 25.Nf4 Qf7 26.g4 g6 27.Nh3 Nd8 28.Bg5 Kg7 29.Kg2 h6 30.Bxe7 Qxe7 31.Nf4 Qf7 32.Kg3 Nc6 ½-½

It must have been devastating to lose, especially with the white pieces, in the very forst round when one needs 6 1/2 points to earn an IM norm. To make matters worse, Richard had to face the only GM in the tournament in the second round.

Richard Francisco (USA) vs Alonso Zapata (COL)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 02

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. f4 a6 7. Nxc6 Qxc6 8. Bd3 d6 9. a4 Nf6 10. O-O Be7 11. Kh1 Qc7 12. Qe2 O-O 13. e5 Nd7 14. exd6 Bxd6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. f5 exf5 17. Bf4 Ne5 18. Ng3 Bd6 19. Bxf5 Ng6 20. Bxd6 Qxd6 21. Rad1 Qc7 22. c3 Bxf5 23. Nxf5 Rad8 24. Rd4 Rfe8 25. Qf3 Rxd4 26. cxd4 Qd7 27. h4 Nf8 28. d5 f6 29. h5 Re5 30. d6 Kh8 31. h6 g6 32. Ng3 Qxd6 33. Qxb7 Re7 34. Qa8 Rf7 35. Ne4 Qe5 36. Nxf6 Qg5 37. Qe8 Qxh6+ 38. Kg1 Qg7 39. Qd8 h5 40. b4 Qh6 41. Qe8 Qg7 42. Qd8 Qh6 43. Qe8 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. f4 (Not the best move in the position. Stockfish 10 at depth 49 would play 6 a3, a move which does not appear at the ChessBaseDataBase. SF 080219 at depth 46 plays 6 Be3, the most often played move, while SF 9 at depth 38 plays the second most often played move, 6 Be2) 6…a6 7 Nxc6 (The most often played move, but Komodo would play 7 Be2) 7…Qxc6 (Although the most often played move, SF 10 would play 7…bxc6) 8. Bd3 d6 (SF plays 8…b5, by far the most often played move) 9. a4 (SF 10 simply castles) 9…Nf6 10. O-O Be7 11. Kh1 (SF & Komodo prefer 11 Be3) 11…Qc7 (SF would castle) 12. Qe2 (Unfortunately, Qe2 is not always the best move. SF would play 12 a5) 12…O-O (SF 10 would play 12…b6) 13. e5 Nd7 14. exd6 Bxd6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. f5 (Komodo plays 16 Be3)

exf5 17. Bf4 SF plays 17 Ng3) Ne5 18. Ng3 Bd6 19. Bxf5 Ng6 (SF shows 19…Nc4 best) 20. Bxd6 Qxd6 21. Rad1 Qc7 22. c3 Bxf5 (SF prefers 22…Ne5) 23. Nxf5 Rad8 24. Rd4 (SF plays 24 Qg4) 24…Rfe8 (SF would play 24…Ne5)

25. Qf3 Rxd4 25 f6 SF) 26. cxd4 Qd7 (Houdini plays the “in your face” 26…Qf4) 27. h4 Nf8 (SF plays 27…Qe6) 28. d5 (28 h5 SF) f6 29. h5 Re5 (The Fish would rip off the pawn with 29…Qxa4) 30. d6 (The Dragon would play 30 b3) 30…Kh8 (Komodo would play 30…Qe6) 31. h6 g6 32. Ng3 (SF considers 32 Ne3 a much better move) 32…Qxd6 33. Qxb7 (Stockfish 10 would play 33 Ne4. The Fish at DaBomb would play 33 Qxf6) Re7 34. Qa8 (Komodo prefers 34 Ne4) Rf7 (SF 10 likes this move) 35. Ne4 Qe5 36. Nxf6 (Both the Fish and the Dragon prefer 36 b4) 36…Qg5 (36…Qe2 Komodo) 37. Qe8 (Both the Fish and the Dragon would take the pawn with 37 Qxa6) 37…Qxh6+ (37…Qh4+) 38. Kg1 Qg7 39. Qd8 h5

40. b4? (40 g4! SF) Qh6 41. Qe8 (41 Qd4 or Qb6) Qg7 42. Qd8 Qh6 43. Qe8 ½-½
The game can be found at ChessBomb:

Richard bested CM Abhimanyu Mishra with the black pieces in round 3 and FM Sahil Sinha with the white pieces in the fourth round before holding the draw with the black pieces against FM Seth Homa in the following round. He drew with the white pieces with the aforementioned Aponte in the first game played Saturday, June 8 before winning with black against FM Nikhil Kumar in the second Saturday game. This put Richard in the postition of needing to win both games the following day, Sunday.

Richard Francisco (USA) – Alex Kolay (USA)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 08

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. a3 f6 7. Bd3 Qc7 8. O-O O-O-O 9. Re1 c4 10. Bc2 fxe5 11. dxe5 Bc5 12. Nbd2 Nge7 13. b4 cxb3 14. Nxb3 Bb6 15. a4 Na5 16. Nxa5 Bxa5 17. Ba3 Be8 18. Nd4 Qd7 19. Qf3 Bg6 20. Bxg6 hxg6 21. Rab1 Bb6 22. Bd6 Nc6 23. Qg4 Rde8 24. h3 g5 25. Qxg5 Bd8 26. Qe3 Na5 27. Rb5 b6 28. Reb1 Nb7 29. Ba3 Be7 30. Bxe7 Rxe7 31. a5 Nxa5 32. Rxa5 bxa5 33. Qd3 Kc7 34. Qa6 Qc8 35. Qd6# 1-0

Now it was time for the final round, a game Mr. Francisco needed to win to obtain an IM norm. His opponent was a Canadian NM, born in 1997, the lowest rated player in the event, who was having a very good tournament. Like Richard the Canuck also had 5 1/2 points and needed a win to garner the coveted IM norm.

Zachary Dukic (CAN) – Richard Francisco (USA)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 09

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3 Re8 (SF 8…d6) 9. Nxc6 (9 f3 SF) dxc6 10. Qxd8 Rxd8 11. a4 Ng4 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxe7 Re8 (13…Bxc3+ was played in Simacek v Zwardon below) 14. Ba3 Bxc3+ 15. bxc3 Rxe4+ 16. Kf1 Bf5 17. h3 Nf6 18. f3 Ree8 19. Kf2 Nd5 20. g4 Be6 21. c4 Nb6 22. Rhe1 a5 23. Bc5 Nd7 24. Be3 Kh7 25. c5 Bxb3 26. cxb3 Nf6 27. Bd2 Rxe1 28. Rxe1 Nd5 29. h4 Kg7 30. f4 f5 31. gxf5 gxf5 32. Re6 Kf7 33. Rd6 Nf6 34. Ke3 Re8+ 35. Kd3 Ne4 36. Rd4 Nxc5+ 37. Kc4 b6 38. Bxa5 Nxb3 39. Kxb3 bxa5

40. Kc4? (This move gave Richard the opportunity for which he was hoping. 40. h5 and it’s about an even game)

40…Re4? (SF at the Bomb has 40…Kg6 best and gives the following variation to prove it: (40… Kg6 41. Rd6+ Kh5 42. Rxc6 Re4+ 43. Kb5 Rxf4 44. Rf6 Rf1 45. Kxa5 f4 46. Kb5 f3 47. Kc4 Kxh4 48. Rxh6+ Kg5 49. Rh8 Ra1 50. Kb5 Rb1+ 51. Kc5 f2 52. Rf8 f1=Q 53. Rxf1 Rxf1 54. a5 Kf6 55. a6) 41. Rxe4 fxe4 42. Kd4 Kf6 43. Kxe4 h5 44. Kd4 Kf5 45. Kc5 Kg4 46. f5 Kxf5 47. Kb6 Kg4 48. Kxa5 Kxh4 49. Kb6 ½-½

During research for this post the following comment by Mr. Dukic was found:

“Well guys I almost got the norm. I needed a 2450 performance but since I drew my last game I only managed 2437.

I had 4.5/7 going into the final day and I would need 2/2 to secure the norm, including winning a game with black against a Swedish International Master. I managed to win this, so I only needed to win with white in the last round to secure the norm. If my opponent were to win, then he would win the norm. If we drew, nobody would get it. It was truly the money game!

It came down to a king and pawn endgame (see below) where I was one tempo short of victory. It resembles the endgame in Searching for Bobby Fischer except for one key detail: black’s pawn on c6 prevents my queen from controlling his queening square 😥

For those of you who followed along, hope you enjoyed it!”

I spent much time following the games from Charlotte via the internet, when it was up. The service received from AT&T leaves much to be desired. Frankly, having AT&T is like living in a third world country, with constant outages. The internet is frequently down and when down, stays down for many hours. Nevertheless, I persevered, while either muttering expletives, or screaming things like, “That blankety blank AT&T!!!”

One of the best things about viewing the games was they were given at ChessStream ( sans annotations so I could think for myself before heading over to the ChessBomb to learn what Stockfish, with little time and depth, had to say about the move and/or position.


Richard Francisco at the Spring 2019 IM Norm Invitational

Life Master Richard Francisco

carried the Georgia colors to Charlotte, NC, for the Spring 2019 GM/IM Norm Invitational contested
March 20-24, 2019 at the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy. Richard played in the IM section scoring 3 1/2 points while winning two, drawing two, and losing too many.

Richard earned his NM certificate in 2003 and LM title in 2009. ( He is ranked in the top three hundred active players in the USCF and is the fourth highest rated player in the Great State of Georgia. According the FIDE Mr. Francisco is number 8064 in the world among active players. (

Richard will be playing again in the Summer 2019 CCCSA IM Norm Invitational beginning June 5.


Spring 2019 IM Norm Invitational
Round 4 | 2019.03.22

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 (Although the move played in the game has been by far the most frequently played move SF 10 at depth 52 and Houdini at depth 50 “think” the game should go 6 Nc3 Bb4 7 Bd3. With this move the game now becomes the C45 Scotch, Mieses variation) 6…Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 Nb6 (SF and Komodo show 8…Ba6 as the move) 9. Nc3 Qe6 10. Bd2 (SF plays 10 Qe4 expecting d5 11 exd6; Houdini plays 10 f4 Bc5 11 Be3) Ba6 11. b3 O-O-O 12. f4 f6 13. Qf2 (See Abdulov vs Lenic below for 13 Qe4)

Bb7 14. a4 Kb8 15. a5 Nc8 16. a6 Ba8 17. c5 fxe5 18. f5 Qe7 19. Ne4 d5 20. Bg5 Qd7 21. Bxd8 Qxd8 22. Ng3 Qe7 23. b4 Qh4 24. Rb1


25. Be2 Nb5 26. O-O Be7 27. Nh5 Nc3 28. Rb2 Qxf2+ 29. Rxf2 Bg5 30. Rf1 e4 31. Nxg7 Bf6 32. Nh5 Bd4+ 33. Kh1 Nd1 34. Bxd1 Bxb2 35. f6 Rf8 36. Bg4 Bb7 37. axb7 Kxb7 38. Be2 Bc3 39. g4 Bxb4 40. Ng7 Bxc5 41. Ne6 Bd6 42. Nxf8 Bxf8 43. Rb1+ Kc8 44. g5 1-0

Orkhan Abdulov (2388) vs Luka Lenic (2641)
Event: 18th ch-EUR Indiv 2017
Site: Minsk BLR Date: 05/30/2017

ECO: C45 Scotch, Mieses variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 10.Bd2 Ba6 11.b3 O-O-O 12.f4 f6 13.Qe4 Bb7 14.O-O-O Re8 15.Re1 fxe5 16.fxe5 g6 17.a4 a5 18.Bd3 Bg7 19.Bf4 d6 20.Bg3 dxe5 21.Qe3 h5 22.Kc2 h4 23.Bf2 e4 24.Qxe4 Qf6 25.Qg4+ Kb8 26.Nd1 Qa1 27.Qxg6 Reg8 28.Bxb6 Qa2+ 29.Kc1 Bh6+ 30.Qxh6 Rxh6 31.Be3 Rxg2 0-1


Spring 2019 IM Norm Invitational
Round 5 | 2019.03.23 | 0-1

B38 Sicilian, accelerated fianchetto, Maroczy bind, 6.Be3

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 (SF 9 shows 4…Nf6 best) 5. c4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 (SF 10 plays 6…Qb6, followed by 7 Nb3 Qd8)

7. Nc3 O-O 8. Be2 b6 (Komodo plays d6) 9. O-O (SF plays 9 Qd2 Bb7 10 f3 while Komodo plays 9 f4 Nxd4 10 Bxd4) Bb7 (SF prefers 9…Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Bb7. Only one game has been played by transposition. See Horvath vs McCambridge below) 10. f3 Qb8 (SF prefers 10…Nxd4 11 Bxd4 Bh6) 11. Qd2 Rd8 (SF plays 11…Nxd4 12 Bxd4 d6) 12. Rad1 (SF 9 plays 12 Nc2 while SF 10 and Komodo play Ndb5)

12…d6 (SF plays 12…Nxd4 13 Bxd4 d6) 13. Rfe1 (SF plays 13 Nc2 Rd7 14 f4; Komodo plays either 13 b3 Qc8 14 a3 or 13 Nbd5) 13…Rd7 (Houdini plays 13…Nxd4 14 Bxd4 Qc7) 14. Bf1 (SF plays 14 b3 e6 15 Nxc6 while Houdini plays 14 Ndb5 Nd8 15 Rc1) 14…Qf8 (SF plays the game move giving 15 g3 e6; Komodo plays 14…Ne5 15 b3 Nf8; Houdini plays 14…Nxf4 15 Bxd4 Qc8)

15. b3 Rad8 16. g3 e6 17. Qf2 Ne5 18. Bh3 Re7 19. Na4 d5 20. exd5 exd5 21. c5 Ba6 22. cxb6 axb6 23. Bf1 Bxf1 24. Kxf1 b5 25. Nc3 b4 26. Na4 Rde8 27. Qd2 Rc7 28. Rc1 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 Qe7 30. Bf2 Qd7 31. Kg2 Bf8 32. Nc5 Qa7 33. Na4 Qa8 34. Rc7 Bd6 35. Rc1 h5 36. h3 Bf8 37. g4 hxg4 38. hxg4 Qb7 39. Bh4 Bg7 40. Re1 Ned7 41. Rxe8+ Nxe8 42. Nc2 Bf8 43. Be1 Ne5 44. Qe2 f6 45. Nd4 Nc7 46. f4 Nc6 47. Ne6 d4 48. Nxf8 Kxf8 49. Nc5 Qa8 50. Kg3 Qe8 51. Qd2 Qe7 52. Nd3 Nd5 53. Bf2 Nc3 54. Kh2 Qe4

55. Bh4 Kf7 56. Bf2 Qf3 57. g5 Ne4 58. Qc2 Nxf2 59. Nxf2 Qxf4+ 60. Kh3 Qf3+ 61. Kh2 Qf4+ 62. Kh3 Qf5+ 63. Qxf5 gxf5 64. gxf6 Ne5 65. Kg3 Kxf6 66. Kf4 Ke6 67. Kg5 Nf3+ 68. Kf4 Ne1 69. Nd1 Nd3+ 70. Kf3 Ke5 71. Ke2 Ke4 0-1

Tamas Horvath (2390) vs Vincent McCambridge (2350)

A04 Reti opening

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 g6 3.e4 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Be2 Nc6 8.Be3 b6 9.O-O Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Bb7 11.f3 Rc8 12.Rc1 d6 13.Re1 e6 14.Bf1 Qc7 15.Nb5 Qd8 16.Nxa7 Ra8 17.Nb5 Rxa2 18.Na3 e5 19.Bc3 Bh6 20.Rb1 Nh5 21.Qb3 Qh4 22.g3 Nxg3 23.hxg3 Qxg3+ 24.Bg2 f5 25.c5+ Rf7 26.cxd6 fxe4 27.d7 exf3 28.d8=Q+ Bf8 29.Qxf7+ Kxf7 30.Qd7+ Be7 31.Re2 fxe2 32.Qxb7 Qe3+ 33.Kh1 Qh6+ 34.Kg1 Qe3+ ½-½

Socko, M 2473 vs Lind, J 2206

Warsaw AIG Life Rapid 7th 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Be2 b6 9. O-O Bb7 10. f3 Qb8 11. Qd2 Rd8 12. Rad1 d6 13.Rfe1 Rd7 14. Bf1 Qf8 15. b3 Rad8 16. Nc2 e6 17. Bg5 h6 18. Bh4 g5 19. Bf2 Nh5 20. g3 Ne5 21. Bg2 Qe7 22. Ne3 Qf6 23. Qe2 Qg6 24. Nb5 Ba8 25. Nd4 Kh8 26. Rf1 Bf6 27. Kh1 Rg8 28. Bh3 Be7 29. Bg2 Nf4 30. gxf4 gxf4 31. Rg1 fxe3 32. Bxe3 Qh5 33. Rdf1 Rdd8 34. f4 Qxe2 35. Nxe2 Ng4 36. Bd2 d5 37. cxd5 Bc5 38. Bc3+ Kh7 39. Nd4 Ne3 40. Rf3 Nxg2 41. Rxg2 Rxg2 42. Kxg2 exd5 43. e5 Rc8 44. f5 b5 45. Rg3 Re8 46. Kh3 b4 47. Bb2 Rxe5 48. Ne6 d4 49. Rg7+ Kh8 50. Rxf7 Re3+ 51. Kh4 Re2 52. Nxc5 Rxh2+ 53. Kg4 Rxb2 54. Rf8+ Kg7 55. Ne6+ Kh7 56. Rxa8 Rxa2 57. Nxd4 Rg2+ 58. Kf4 Rd2 59. Rxa7+ Kg8 60. Ke5 h5 61. Ne6 h4 62. f6 Rf2 63. Nf4 Rf1 64. f7+ Kg7 65. Ne6+ Kg6 66. f8=Q 1-0

Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy

While tooling around the interweb looking for information on the Land of the Sky Chess tournament which began last night (the second, hurry-up part of the first round is ongoing as I punch & poke) I discovered a nice article featuring the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy.

Notice the sign proclaiming only “Chess Club.” I began playing at the Atlanta Chess Club, which was held in a YMCA on Lucky street in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. It is where I won the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship. My most vivid memory, though, is of the time there was a running gun battle right below on Lucky street, with real bullets being fired, between the cops and crooks. Most players went to the window to spectate. Fortunately, we were on the second floor so no bullets came our way. So engrossed in my fifteen minute game I stayed seated during the reality “show.” There was a Manhatten Chess Club, which is no longer in existence, and the Marshall Chess Club (, which is still open. The website shows an Adult Chess Class “Every Tuesday Night!” The oldest Chess club in the US is the Mechanic’s Institute Chess Club in San Francisco ( All ages are welcome at these venerable Chess clubs with no need for adding the word scholastic like all newer Chess clubs, such as the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center (, have done.

The headline is:

Master level chess player operates Charlotte’s first center dedicated to the game at age 26
By Randy Wheeless – December 19, 2017

“Since middle school, chess has been an integral part of Peter Giannatos’ life. He’s participated in more than 200 tournaments, and is recognized as a master level player. In fact, he’s a top-10 player in the state.

After graduating from UNC Charlotte in 2014, Giannatos, 26, figured he would concentrate on joining the working world. He had dreams of making chess his career, but knew that could be a longshot.

A longshot he has spent the last three years making a reality. Over that time, Giannatos became the owner and operator of the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy. Located on Camden Road, near the LYNX East/West stop in South End, the center has more than 150 members – making it Charlotte’s first full-time center devoted solely to chess.”

Peter Giannatos

It looks real nice, unlike the Atlanta Chess Club & Game Center, which was also known as “The Dump” for good reason. As a matter of fact, the Charlotte Club looks downright OPULENT in comparison!

Although growing by leaps and bounds, Charlotte is no where near as large a city as Atlanta, especially when surrounding cities many miles away not in the city limits use Atlanta as their city in much the same way as people in the area of Atlanta known as Buckhead, where the Governor’s mansion is located, have done. The ‘Head has kept expanding because every business wants to be known as being part of Buckhead. One hundred fifty members seems a strong number of members for the relatively new Chess club.

I do not know the exact number of members the ACC&GC had at any time, but I do recall returning to work there when it had dropped to only a handful, or maybe two handfuls. It got back to me that the owner, Thad Rogers, said upon my return the number of members had grown to almost as many when the place first opened, which made me proud.

I hope to be able to visit the CCC&SA before I go to the Chess club in the sky. For all of my international readers, if you come down South I hope you include the Charlotte CC&SA in your itinerary.

The Chess Book

Samuel S Copeland (2294) vs Carter F Peatman (1964)
2014 Southeastern FIDE Championship
Charlotte, North Carolina
Rd 1 11/1/2014

1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O d5 10. Kb1 Nxd4 11. e5 Nf5 12. exf6 Bxf6 13. Nxd5 Qxd5 14. Qxd5 Nxe3 15. Qd2 Nxd1 16. Qxd1 Be6 17. Bd3 a5 18. h4 Rfd8 19. Qe2 Rd4 20. a3 Bxh4 21. Qe3 Rad8 22. Qh6 Bf6 23. Qxh7 Kf8 24. g4 b5 25. Re1 b4 26. Rxe6 fxe6 27. Qh6 Bg7 28. Qxg6 R4d6 29. Qg5 Rb8 30. axb4 axb4 31. Qf4 Ke8 32. Kc1 e5 33. Qc4 Bh6 34. Kd1 Kd7 35. Ke2 Bf4 36. g5 e4 37. fxe4 Be5 38. Qc5 Bxb2 39. Qa7 Kc8 40. Ba6 Rxa6 41. Qxa6 Kc7 42. Qc4 Kd7 43. Qd5 Kc7 44. g6 Bh8 45. Qf7 Kd7 46. g7 Bxg7 47. Qxg7 b3 48. Qd4 Ke8 49. Qh8 1-0

The engines play 13…Be6, while humans play the move in the game. The transition from opening to middle game ending with 16…Be6 looks favorable for White. After 17 Bd3 the most often played, and best, move is 17…Rfd8, but still White has a solid plus. I am reminded of the time Bobby Fischer had gone over a game his opponent lost, who was flummoxed as to just why he had lost. Bobby said, “The whole line is bad.”

What caught my attention was the second move, Ne2. Back in the day I played the Najdorf and when I beginning winning with it, opponents began playing alternative moves, not allowing me to play the Najdorf. The same thing happened a decade later when Longshot Larry “got good” playing the Dragon. Some players thought Longshot, who hovered between class ‘A’ and Expert, played two classes higher when defending while attacking with the Dragon. Longshot was strong enough to almost win with it versus “Hulk” Kogan. The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I happened to be watching the moment Boris reached for a piece but held his fingers hovering while the tension became palpable…When the Hulk retracted his hand it was like the air being let out of a balloon. The game was ultimately drawn. The Ironman adds that Longshot Larry did beat another Georgia chess legend, NM Guillermo A. Ruiz, a game that was published in the Georgia Chess magazine of the time.

Longshot Larry, a heating and air conditioning repairman, had been asked by Guillermo to come to his home and clean the system, so Longshot asked me to accompany him. Since Guillermo owned a cleaning service, considered too expensive by the owner of the Atlanta Chess Center, Thad Rogers, Longshot used Guillermo’s wet-vac. We were in the basement where a chess board was on a table, along with one book, an obviously well-used, dogged-eared copy of “The Game of Chess,” by Siegbert Tarrasch. I was positioned between Guillermo and Longshot, looking at Larry as he turned on the machine, beginning the extraction. When I asked Guillermo about his other chess books he said it was his only chess book. “You only need one book, if it is a good one.” Later Thad told me Ruiz had purchased a used copy. As we were talking black smoke began billowing from the machine. Guillermo must have seen the look on my face and turned around to see a cloud of heavy black smoke rising up the stairs. With the realization Ruiz literally jumped two feet into the air, then began screaming, but Longshot, with his head inside the closet containing the unit, could not hear. Ruiz ran over and began pounding on Larry, who then turned the machine off, but the damage had been done. The thing I recall most vividly on our way out is the light-colored drapes in the living room upstairs, which had been turned dark with soot. “How was I to know the thing did not have a bag?” Longshot asked on our way back to the House of Pain. “Ruiz is into the cleaning game, so I assumed the thing would work,” he said. I laughed when Longshot, who obviously did not get paid, said, “Man, I really needed that money.”

When faced with 2 Ne2 I played the same way as Carter, but is it best? Check out how Bobby Fischer played against 2 Ne2, and notice how he changed to 2…Nf6 after having twenty years to study the game before his return match with Boris Spassky. 2…Nf6 is the choice of both Stockfish and Houdini, but Komodo plays 2…a6.

Swank, A. – Fischer, Robert James 0-1
B20 USA-op 1956
1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 Nc6 3. b3 Nf6 4. Nbc3 e6 5. Bb2 d5 6. Ng3 Bd6 7. Bb5 O-O 8. Bd3 Ne5 9. Be2 Ng6 10. Nb5 Nxe4 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Nxd6 Qxd6 13. g3 e5 14. c4 Bh3 15. Bf1 Bxf1 16. Rxf1 f5 17. Qc2 Ne7 18. O-O-O Nc6 19. Bc3 Nd4 20. Bxd4 exd4 21. Kb1 Rae8 22. Rfe1 Re5 23. d3 Rfe8 24. Qd2 exd3 25. Rxe5 Qxe5 26. Qxd3 Qe2 27. Rd2 Qxd3+ 28. Rxd3 Re1+ 29. Kc2 Re2+ 30. Rd2 Rxd2+ 31. Kxd2 f4 32. Kd3 Kf7 33. a3 Kf6 34. b4 b6 35. Ke4 Kg5 36. gxf4+ Kg4 37. f3+ Kh3 38. f5 Kxh2 39. f4 Kg3 40. bxc5 bxc5 41. a4 a5 42. Kd5 d3 43. Kxc5 d2 0-1

Keres, Paul – Fischer, Robert James ½-½
B20 Candidates Tournament 1956
1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 d6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O Nc6 6. c3 e5 7. d3 Nge7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 b6 10. f4 exf4 11. gxf4 d5 12. e5 Bg4 13. h3 Bxe2 14. Qxe2 f6 15. b5 Na5 16. Nd2 fxe5 17. fxe5 Rxf1+ 18. Nxf1 Nb3 19. Rb1 Nxc1 20. Rxc1 Qc7 21. Re1 Rd8 22. Nh2 d4 23. cxd4 cxd4 24. Nf3 Bh6 25. Qa2+ Kh8 26. Qe6 Nd5 27. Nh2 Ne3 28. Bc6 Rf8 29. Nf3 Bf4 30. Nxd4 Bxe5 31. Nf3 Bd4 32. Rxe3 Bxe3+ 33. Qxe3 Qg3+ 34. Kf1 Qxh3+ 35. Ke1 Qf5 36. d4 Kg7 37. Kf2 h5 38. Kg3 Qg4+ 39. Kh2 Rf4 40. Qe7+ Kh6 41. Qe2 Qf5 42. Qe3 g5 43. Kg2 Rg4+ 44. Kf2 Rf4 45. Kg2 Qc2+ 46. Kh1 Qb1+ 47. Kh2 Qa2+ 48. Kh3 Qf7 49. Kh2 Qf6 50. Kg2 Kg7 51. Kg3 h4+ 52. Kg2 Rg4+ 53. Kh1 Rg3 54. Qe4 g4 55. Nh2 Qg5 56. Nf1 Rh3+ 57. Kg1 Rxa3 58. d5 g3 59. Bd7 Ra1 60. Bf5 Qf6 61. Qf4 Re1 62. d6 Re5 63. Qg4+ Kf8 64. d7 Rd5 65. Kg2 Rxd7 66. Bxd7 Qf2+ 67. Kh3 Qxf1+ 68. Kxh4 g2 69. Qb4+ Kf7 70. Qb3+ Kg7 71. Qg3+ Kh7 72. Qe5 Qh1+ 73. Bh3 Qxh3+ 74. Kxh3 g1=Q 75. Qe7+ Kh8 76. Qf8+ Kh7 77. Qf7+ 1/2-1/2

Ostojic, Predrag – Fischer, Robert James 0-1
B93 Herceg Novi blitz 1970
1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. a4 Qc7 7. Bd3 g6 8. f4 Bg7 9. Nf3 O-O 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Kh1 b6 12. Qe1 Bb7 13. Qh4 Rac8 14. Bd2 e5 15. Rae1 exf4 16. Bxf4 Ne5 17. Bh6 Bxh6 18. Qxh6 Nfg4 19. Qh4 Nxf3 20. Rxf3 f5 21. Rf4 d5 22. Rxg4 fxg4 23. Qxg4 Rf4 24. Qg3 dxe4 25. Bxe4 Bxe4 26. Nxe4 Rxe4 0-1

Spassky, Boris V – Fischer, Robert James ½-½
B24 St Stefan/Belgrade m 1992
1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 Nf6 3. Nbc3 d6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O Bg7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bg4 9. Nde2 Qc8 10. f3 Bh3 11. Bxh3 Qxh3 12. Bg5 O-O 13. Qd2 h6 14. Be3 Kh7 15. Rac1 Qd7 16. Nd5 Nxd5 17. exd5 Ne5 18. b3 b5 19. Bd4 Rac8 20. f4 Ng4 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Nd4 Nf6 23. c4 bxc4 24. bxc4 e6 25. dxe6 fxe6 26. Rfe1 Rfe8 27. Nb3 a6 28. Qd4 Rc6 29. Red1 e5 30. fxe5 Rxe5 31. Qxe5 dxe5 32. Rxd7+ Nxd7 33. Rd1 Nf6 34. c5 Kf7 35. Rc1 Nd7 36. Kf2 Ke6 37. Ke3 Kd5 38. Rd1+ Ke6 39. Rc1 Kd5 1/2-1/2

Spassky, Boris V – Fischer, Robert James ½-½
B26 St Stefan/Belgrade m 1992
1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 Nf6 3. Nbc3 d6 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. d3 O-O 8. h3 Rb8 9. f4 Bd7 10. Be3 b5 11. a3 Ne8 12. d4 cxd4 13. Nxd4 b4 14. Nxc6 Bxc6 15. axb4 Rxb4 16. Rxa7 Rxb2 17. e5 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 Nc7 19. exd6 exd6 20. Na4 Ra2 21. Bb6 Qe8 22. Rxc7 Qxa4 23. Qxd6 Rxc2+ 24. Rxc2 Qxc2+ 25. Bf2 Qe4+ 26. Kg1 1/2-1/2

1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 Nf6 3. Nbc3 e6 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O d6 7. d3 a6 8. a3 Qc7 9. f4 b5 10. Kh1 O-O 11. Be3 Bb7 12. Bg1 Rab8 13. h3 Ba8 14. g4 b4 15. axb4 cxb4 16. Na4 Nd7 17. Qd2 Rfc8 18. b3 a5 19. g5 Bf8 20. Ra2 Ne7 21. Nd4 g6 22. Nb2 Bg7 23. Nc4 d5 24. Nxa5 dxe4 25. dxe4 e5 26. Ne2 exf4 27. Nxf4 Ne5 28. Nd3 Rb5 29. Nxe5 Qxe5 30. Nc4 Qxg5 31. Be3 Qh4 32. Nd6 Bc3 33. Qf2 Qxf2 34. Rxf2 Rbb8 35. Nxc8 Rxc8 36. Ra7 Kf8 37. Bh6+ Ke8 38. Bg5 f6 39. Bxf6 Bxf6 40. Rxf6 Bc6 41. Kg1 Bd7 42. Rd6 Bc6 43. Bf1 1-0

Sheryl Crow The Book