Can Jennifer Yu Handle Pressure?

WIM Alexy Root has written an apologia for Chessbase for the pitiful performance of Jenifer Yu at the US Junior.

Jennifer Yu’s US Junior Championship: Can research explain her result?
by Alexey Root

“The 2019 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jennifer Yu was the wildcard invite for the U.S. Junior Championship which concluded on Saturday, July 20th. She finished last in the 10-player round robin with ½ out of 9. In her post-tournament interview, Jennifer Yu mentioned, “Maybe there is a little more pressure or something.” In this article, WIM ALEXEY ROOT looks at two research-based reasons for the pressure Yu perceived and its possible effects on her result.” (

Pressure from “Chess Fans”

“In the words of one ChessBase reader, Yu is “a role model for young women with [her] current title” and her U.S. Junior Championship result “will find its way in future articles/books/essays regarding the relative strength of female vs male players and be fodder for that debate.” Even before the event, some questioned why Yu got the wildcard invite rather than higher-rated boys. One “Chess fan” wrote, “What a terrible pick for wildcard. I want to see the best junior players in the US Junior, male or female. It’s a shame the wildcard wasn’t used to reward another 2500+ Junior.”
Despite her chess qualifications, then, Yu perhaps felt pressure on her from some chess fans.”

The paragraph that caused me to write this post:

“According to “Checkmate? The role of gender stereotypes in the ultimate intellectual sport,” women perform 50% worse than expected when they know they are playing against men and are reminded of the stereotype that men are considered better and more gifted at chess. In the experiment on which the article is based, similarly-rated men and women played two-game matches online, at first without knowing the other player’s gender. In the match where gender was unknown, the women scored 1 out of 2 (the expected score). However, when the men and women were told the gender of their opponent (i.e. the men knew that they were playing women and the women knew that they were playing men), and the women were reminded of the stereotype that men are better at chess than women, the women scored ½ of 2.”

A reader make left this comment:


Inadequate sample size, pure speculation and utter nonsense. No need to make it more complex than it is in an effort to assuage the female ego. Yu finished last because she was weaker than most of the other participants and she didn’t catch a break..”

Ajeeb007 hits the nail on the head. I could not have put it better myself. Chessbase should be ashamed for printing something based upon such a limited sample size.

The best comment was posted “by UncleBent

“Jennifer Yu’s poor result is due to her playing opponents who were much stronger and more experienced vs top competition. If you look at Jennifer’s “career,” she has had little success against the few opponents she has played rated 2450 ELO or higher. Her designation as “wild-card” made her a target, but only because she was one of the lower-rated and, in a RR event, the others knew they had to get a full point from her if they were to have a good tournament result. What is true, is that most, if not all, of her “boy” opponents have spent considerably more time to playing and studying chess. Jennifer mentioned that she has not had a coach for a while, in spite of her weaknesses in opening repertoire and endgame technique. That was evident in her play. This is no longer the era of Capablanca — you can’t succeed against players who are more experienced, higher rated and who have done more preparation. Why Jennifer Yu decided not to hire a coach (with some of her US Women’s Ch prize money) is not my concern. At 17, she has so many wonderful avenues available to her, that I’m not going to criticize he for not studying chess.

Dr. Root’s article is an embarrassing, knee-jerk response. 20 years ago, Irina Krush placed 2nd in the US Junior. The number one reason for her success is that she was also the 2nd highest-rated participant. Playing against “the boys” did not seem to hurt her performance. (In fact one her Irina’s losses was to Jen Shahade.) While there may be merit to under-performance (when females play males), I just don’t think it is at the same level among higher-rated players, who have real achievements and thus more confidence.”

What Is Chess And What Does It Do?

A new story appeared today at the Chessbase website:

“Chess makes you smart”: Huge scholastic tournament in Bremen

by André Schulz

6/25/2019 – “Marco Bode is a German football legend, famous for his fair play and his loyalty to his club, Werder Bremen. Bode is also a passionate chess player who is keen to teach young kids the game and to make chess a subject in schools. Last week, Bode’s efforts led 1,000 primary school students to play a huge tournament in the center of Bremen.”

“Following the motto “Schach macht schlau” (“Chess makes you smart“) the pupils in Bremen’s primary schools now once a week learn chess in school. Teachers and education experts agree that chess is very useful for young kids. The children learn to focus, to follow their goals systematically, and they simply enjoy the playful lessons in school.”

All of the studies by professionals using rigorous methodology approved by peers have proven Chess makes a human smarter at playing Chess. Period. When anyone in the Chess community writes anything about Chess making anyone “smarter” they are being disingenuous at best. The “motto” or “slogan” used by the Chess community could have been used when there was a question concerning just how “smart” Chess made anyone, but now that the results are in and there is absolutely no proof Chess makes anyone “smarter” at anything other than Chess it should be stopped being used because for the Chess community to use “Chess makes you smart,” as a selling point has crossed the line and become a “lie.” It is time the Chess community stop lying.

To compound the problem Chessbase printed the following in the aforementioned article: “However, chess not only helps in the education of young pupils, it is also a sport.”

I kid you not…Chess is most assuredly NOT A SPORT! Chess is a GAME. Specifically, Chess is a BOARD GAME. If Chess were a sport it would not have been turned down repeatedly for inclusion into the Olympics. The only people who have ever considered Chess a “sport” are Chess players and administrators who desire Chess be included in the Olympics. The majority of people on the planet who know what Chess is will laugh at you if you try to tell them Chess is a “sport.” They will do so because they know the definition of “sport,” which is:

a. An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

b. often sports(used with a sing. verb) Such activities considered as a group: Sports is a good way for children to get exercise.

It is long past time for the Chess community to stop lying about what the Royal game is and what it does. Chess has been a great GAME. How long it will continue to be considered a great game is up for debate. If the Chess community continues to promote a lie the end of the Royal game will come sooner, not later.

Good Old Friends and the Buddy-Buddy Draw at the Moscow Grand Prix

Although I have intentionally not followed the ongoing Moscow Grand Prix event my old friend the legendary Georgia Ironman has followed it because it did begin with a couple of games of what is now called “classical” Chess before devolving into what is called “rapid Chess” before devolving further into “speed” Chess. Frankly, I could care less about which player is best at faster time controls. The only thing that matters is who is best at a classical time control. Say what you will about Magnus Carlsen but the fact is that he could not beat either Sergey Karjakin or Fabiano Caruana at classical Chess, something to keep in mind when talking about the best Chess player of all time.

In an article at Chessbase by Antonio Pereira recently, dated 5/18/2019, it is written: “Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Radek Wojtaszek won with the white pieces at the start of the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow, which means Levon Aronian, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov will need to push for a win on Saturday if they want to survive the first round. Three match-ups ended with quick draws, while Peter Svidler and Anish Giri accepted the draws offered by Nikita Vitiugov and Daniil Dubov in games that could have easily kept going.”

The article continues:

“Better than losing and worse than winning”

“A lot of criticism followed the 2011 Candidates Tournament in Kazan, in which the knock-out format led to some players openly using a safe-first strategy by signing quick draws in the classical games and putting all on the line in the tie-breaks. In order to discourage the players from using this strategy, the organizers are awarding an extra point in the Grand Prix overall standings for those who eliminate their opponents needing only two games. In the first game of the opening round in Moscow, four out of eight encounters ended peacefully after no more than 23 moves.”

The so-called “strategy” of the organizers had absolutely no effect on the players who continue to agree to short draws with impunity whenever and wherever they want, regardless of what organizers or fans want to see from them. Are the players aware their “inaction” is killing the Royal game? Do they care?

Exhibit one:

Teimour Radjabov (AZE)

vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA)

Moscow Grand Prix 2019 round 01

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 b5 8. a4 b4 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. Nxc4 c5 11. dxc5 Be4 12. Qd1 ½-½

Sergey Karjakin (RUS) – Alexander Grischuk (RUS)

Moscow Grand Prix 2019 round 01

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. a4 Bd6 7. a5 O-O 8. Be2 e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. O-O Bc7 12. Qb3 Nc6 13. a6 bxa6 14. Qa4 ½-½

The article continues:

“It must be added that Nikita Vitiugov had what seemed like a considerable advantage against Peter Svidler when he surprisingly offered a draw.

Both contenders are part of the Mednyi Vsadnik team from Saint Petersburg, which won the last two editions of the Russian Team Championship and are the current European champions. Vitiugov has also worked for Svidler as a second more than once. The long-time friends talked about how unfortunate it was for them to be paired up immediately in round one, although Svidler confessed that, “[he] somehow had a feeling that [they] would play at least one [match], and particularly in Moscow”.

Good old friends from Saint Petersburg | Photo: World Chess

“Regarding the position shown in the diagram, Peter recounted how he was thinking about 18.f4 being a move that would leave him worse on the board. So, when the move was accompanied by a draw offer, he thought, “yeah, that’s a good deal!” And the point was split then and there.

To accept the draw was a good match strategy? Peter wittily added:

“As for match strategy, I envy people who have strategies of any kind. I don’t have any. I thought I was worse and then I was offered a draw, so I took it.”

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, have had to play each other many times during their storied tennis careers, and each and every time there has been a winner because offering a draw is not in the tennis rule book. What is it doing in the Chess rule book?

Chess organizers better wake up because Chess is in a battle with the game of Go and if the trend continues, like the Highlander, there will be only one left standing.

Kid Keymer versus the Closed Sicilian

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 a6 Arkadij Naiditsch

played 3 Nge2 against Vincent Keymer

in the fourth round of the ongoing Grenke Classic. Vincent is a fifteen year old boy currently battling men. The draw was unkind to the boy as he had to face the current World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen,

in the first round; the former World Human Chess Champion, Vishy Anand,

in the second round; and then the player who is, according to Carlsen, the “Co-Classical World Chess Champion,” Fabiano Caruana

in the third round.

This caused me to reflect upon a recent game I had researched between Yi Wei

and Kailo Kilaots

in the seventh round of the recently completed Aeroflot Open a couple of months ago. I learned 3 Nge2 is now considered the best move whereas previously 3 g3 was almost automatically played.

The game is annotated at Chessbase ( and many other places around the web, so I will only give the opening and a couple of games found before getting on to the Kid versus the Closed Siclian.

Yi Wei (2733) v Kulaots (2542)

Aeroflot Open

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 (The best move according to SF 9 & 10, and Houdini) Nf6 4. g3 (SF 10 at depth 35 plays this move, but at depth 42 plays 4 d4) Nc6 (SF 10 at depth 38 plays this move, but SF 010219 at the same depth plays 4…g6) 5. Bg2 g6 6. d3 (SF 9 at depth 36 plays this move, but going deeper to depth 44 shows 6 a3, a move yet to be played, followed by Bg7 7 Rb1, while Komodo plays the most often played move in practice, 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nd5) Bg7 7. 0-0 0-0 (SF 260219 at depth 39 shows 7…Rb8 8 Nd5 Nxd5) 8. Bg5 (SF 9 & 10 play 8 a3 , but Komodo shows 8 Nd5 Nd7 9 Ne3) 8…Bd7 (SF 9 at depth 40 shows 8…Rb8 9 a4 h6) 9. Qd2 (This is the SF choice but Komodo plays 9 Nd5) 9…Nd4 (Komodo shows 9…Rb8 10 Nd5 Ng4 or 9…Re8 10 h3 Rc8 both at depth 31)

Werner Hug (2435)

vs John Nunn (2565)

Luzern ol (Men) 1982

B25 Sicilian, closed

1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Nge2 Nf6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Rc8 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Nd4 12.Qd2 Qb6 13.Rab1 Bg4 14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Rc7 17.c4 dxc3 18.bxc3 Qa5 19.Rb4 Bf5 20.Rfb1 Rfc8 21.R1b3 b6 22.h3 e5 23.dxe6 Bxe6 24.Rb5 Qa6 25.c4 Rc5 26.Qb2 Rxb5 27.Rxb5 Rc5 28.Rxc5 dxc5 29.h4 h5 30.Be4 Qa5 31.Kg2 Qa4 ½-½

Thomas Flindt (2179) vs Martin Baekgaard (2294)

47th XtraCon TCh-DEN 2008-9


B24 Sicilian, closed

1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nge2 Nf6 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d6 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Qa5 10.Bh6 Nd4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.h3 Qb4 13.Rab1 Rac8 14.f4 Bc6 15.g4 Nd7 16.f5 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Qd4+ 18.Kh1 f6 19.g5 fxg5 20.Qg4 h6 21.fxg6 Ne5 22.Qe6 Nxg6 23.Nd5 Qe5 24.Qg4 e6 25.Ne3 b5 26.Qd1 Rxf1+ 27.Qxf1 Rf8 28.Qe1 h5 29.Qa5 Rf7 30.Rf1 Nf4 31.Qd8 d5 32.Nf5+ exf5 33.Qxg5+ Ng6 34.exf5 Qf6 35.Qxg6+ Qxg6 36.fxg6 Rxf1+ 37.Bxf1 d4+ 38.Bg2 Bxg2+ 39.Kxg2 Kxg6 40.h4 Kf5 41.Kf3 a5 42.Kg3 a4 43.b3 Ke5 ½-½

Arkadij Naiditsch 2710 (AZE)

vs Vincent Keymer 2509 (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 04

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. Nge2 d6 4. a4 Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. d3 Rb8 10. h3 Nd7 11. g4 h6 12. Ng3 Bh4 13. Nce2 b5 14. Kh2 b4 15. Be3 a5 16. Qd2 Ba6 17. b3 Qe7 18. Rg1 Rbc8 19. Raf1 g6 20. e5 d5 21. f5 Ncxe5 22. Bxh6 Rfe8 23. fxg6 fxg6 24. g5 Nf7 25. Qf4 Nxh6 26. Qxh4 Nf7 27. Nh5 gxh5 28. Rf6 Nxf6 29. gxf6 Qd6+ 30. Nf4 Kf8 31. Qg3 Red8 32. Re1 e5 33. Ng6+ Ke8 34. Nxe5 Qxf6 35. Ng4+ Qe7 36. Nf6+ 1-0

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (Stockfish 8 at the ChessBaseDataBase has this, followed by 2…Nc6 3. Nf3 as best, but Houdini goes with the usual 2. Nf3) a6 (Rather than playing a developing move, 2…Nc6, the most often played move, the kid plays a fourth rate move and I cannot but wonder why?) 3. Nge2 (Although Stockfish 9 would play what previously was standard, 3 g3, SF 10 goes with the game move. Then after 3…Nf6 would come 4. g3) d6 (SF displays the little played 3…Nf6, expecting 4. g3 e6) 4. a4 (An attempt to take the kid out of “book” after Keymer took the game out of book by playing 2…a6? SF 10 plays 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4; SF 9 goes with 4 g3 g6 5 Bg2)
Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 TN (See Genocchio vs Stefano below for 6 g6)

Daniele Genocchio, (2195) vs Stefano Tatai (2395)

ITA-ch 11/26/1998

B23 Sicilian, closed
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nge2 a6 4.a4 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.O-O Bg7 10.Nde2 O-O 11.h3 Rc8 12.Be3 a5 13.f4 Be6 14.Qd2 Nb4 15.Rfd1 Qc7 16.Rac1 Qb8 17.Nd4 Bc4 18.Ndb5 b6 19.Qf2 Nd7 20.e5 Rfd8 21.exd6 e6 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Rc5 24.Na3 Bd5 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.Nab5 Nf6 27.f5 Ne8 28.fxg6 fxg6 29.Rf1 Nxd6 30.Nxd6 Qxd6 31.Ne4 1-0

Levon Aronian (ARM)

vs Vincent Keymer (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 06

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 Be7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 O-O 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Re2 c5 16. Na4 Rd1+ 17. Kg2 Rad8 18. b3 Nd5 19. c3 Rc8 20. Re4 Nf6 21. Re2 Nd5 22. Rd2 Rxd2 23. Bxd2 c4 24. Nb2 Bf6 25. Nxc4 Bxc3 26. Rd1 Bxd2 27. Rxd2 g5 28. Kf3 Kg7 29. Ne3 Rc3 30. Rc2 f5 31. Rxc3 Nxc3 32. a4 g4+ 33. Kg2 Kf6 34. Nc2 Ne4 35. b4 Nc3 36. b5 axb5 37. a5 Nd5 38. a6 Nc7 39. a7 Ke5 40. Kf1 Kd5 41. Nb4+ Kc4 42. Nc6 Kd3 43. Ke1 Na8 44. Nd8 e5 45. Nc6 Ke4 46. Kd2 Kd5 47. Nb4+ Kc4 48. Nc6 Kd5 49. Nb4+ Ke4 50. Nc6 f4 51. Kc3 Kd5 52. Nb4+ Ke4 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (If the kid has brought an inferior second move to the tournament why not allow him to play it again, Sam) a6 (He does play it again, Sam!?) 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 (Show me what’cha know, Joe) Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 (Depending on which program Stockfish will either play 5…e6, expecting 6 d4 cxd4; or 5…g6, expecting 6 a3 Nc6) 6. O-O (SF would play 6 Nd5 which would be a TN) e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 (SF 9 at depth 41 plays the game move, expecting 9…Nxd4 10 Qxd4; but SF 270918 at depth 43 plays 9 a4 expecting 9…Be7 10 Nxc6. SF 10 at depth 35 plays 9 Be3 Rc8 10 Nc6) 9…Be7 (Although little played both SF and Komodo play 9…Nxd4 with an even game. 365Chess shows four games in which 9…Nxd4 was played and all four ended in a draw.

10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 (The big three all consider 11 a4 best) dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 (There is a disagreement between the Fish, which prefers the game move, and the Dragon, which likes 13 Qxd8+) 13…0-0 (The Fish trades the ladies while the Dragon keeps them on with 13…Qc7) 14. Qxd8 TN (Stockfish and Houdini consider this best. For 14 Qf3 and 14 Bd2 see games below)

Maritza Arribas (2300) vs Nana Ioseliani (2476)

Istanbul ol (Women) 11/12/2000

B40 Sicilian defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Re1 Be7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Qf3 Nd5 15.Re2 Rb8 16.Ne4 f5 17.Nd2 Rf6 18.Nc4 f4 19.Qe4 Qe8 20.Bxf4 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Qh5 22.Rae1 Rbf8 23.f3 Kh8 24.Qxc6 Rxf4 25.Nd2 Bh4 26.Rf1 R4f6 27.Rg2 Bg5 28.Qb7 Rg6 29.f4 Bxf4 30.Kh1 e5 31.c4 h6 32.Qe4 Rxg2 33.Qxg2 Rd8 34.Ne4 Rd1 35.Kg1 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Qd1+ 37.Kf2 Qc2+ 38.Kf3 Qxc4 39.b3 Qd3+ 40.Kg4 Qd1+ 41.Kf5 Qd7+ 42.Kg6 Qe6+ 43.Kh5 Qf5+ 44.Kh4 g5+ 45.Kh5 Kg7 46.b4 Be3 47.a4 Qf7+ 0-1

Bartlomiej Macieja (2613) vs Namig Gouliev (2526)

EU-ch 6th 06/28/2005

B46 Sicilian, Taimanov variation

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.Nge2 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.g3 d6 7.Bg2 Bd7 8.O-O Nf6 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nxc6 Bxc6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.Rb1 Rfd8 16.Qe2 Ng4 17.Be3 Nxe3 18.Rxe3 Rd4 19.Rd3 Rxd3 20.Qxd3 Rd8 21.Qe2 h6 22.Ne4 Qd4 23.Nc3 Qb6 24.Ne4 Qd4 25.Nc3 Qb6 ½-½

Class dismissed.

Wei Yi’s Closed Sicilian vs Kaido Kulaots

Yesterday Chessbase published an article, How 62nd seed Kaido Kulaots won the Aeroflot Open 2019 Part II, ( which contained the game between Aeroflot Open winner Kaido Kulaots

Winner of Aeroflot Open 2019 — Kaido Kulaots from Estonia | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

and the top seed of the event Wei Yi.

The game was a Closed Sicilian, an opening I played often while scoring well against higher rated opposition. The game began with the usual moves, 1 e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6, but then Wei Yi played 3 Nge2 in lieu of what had become almost routine, 3 g3, the move invariably played by many, including yours truly. This sent me to the ChessBase DataBase because this inquiring mind had to know…I learned it is currently the best move according to SF 9 & 10, and Houdini. Until the next generation of self learning programs appears on the CBDB 3 Nge2 will stand as the best way to play the Closed variation against the Sicilian defense, which means my favored 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 d6 3 g3 Nc6 4 Bg2 g6 5 d3 Bg7 6 Be3 with which I stunned quite a few Experts and Masters is considered second-rate. Then comes, 4. g3 (SF 10 at depth 35 plays this move, but at depth 42 plays 4 d4) Nc6 (SF 10 at depth 38 plays this move, but SF 010219 at the same depth plays 4…g6) 5. Bg2 g6 6. d3 (SF 9 at depth 36 plays this move, but going deeper to depth 44 shows 6 a3, a move yet to be played, followed by Bg7 7 Rb1, while Komodo plays the most often played move in practice, 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nd5) Bg7 7. 0-0 0-0 (SF 260219 at depth 39 shows 7…Rb8 8 Nd5 Nxd5) 8. Bg5 (SF 9 & 10 play 8 a3 , but Komodo shows 8 Nd5 Nd7 9 Ne3) 8…Bd7 (SF 9 at depth 40 shows 8…Rb8 9 a4 h6) 9. Qd2 (This is the SF choice but Komodo plays 9 Nd5) 9…Nd4 (Komodo shows 9…Rb8 10 Nd5 Ng4 or 9…Re8 10 h3 Rc8 both at depth 31).

The complete game can be found at the Chessbase website and the article is excellent. I give the complete game below:

Wei, Yi (CHN) 2733 – Kulaots, Kaido (EST) 2542

Aeroflot Open 2019 round 07

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 g6 6. d3 Bg7 7. O-O O-O 8. Bg5 Bd7 9. Qd2 Nd4 10. Nxd4 cxd4 11. Ne2 e5 12. c3 dxc3 13. Nxc3 a5 14. f4 Bc6 15. f5 b5 16. Rac1 b4 17. Nd5 Bxd5 18. exd5 Qb6+ 19. Kh1 Qb5 20. Rc6 Rad8 21. Bxf6 Bxf6 22. Be4 g5 23. Rfc1 Kg7 24. Qd1 Rd7 25. Kg2 Rh8 26. Qh5 Qb7 27. Kf3 Qa7 28. R6c4 Qb6 29. Ke2 Qa7 30. Kf3 Qb6 31. Ke2 Qa7 32. h4 h6 33. Qf3 Rg8 34. hxg5 hxg5 35. Rh1 Rh8 36. Rxh8 Kxh8 37. Qh1+ Kg7 38. Qc1 Qb6 39. Rc6 Qd4 40. Rc4 Qb6 41. Rc6 Qd4 42. Ra6 Rd8 43. Kf1 Rd7 44. Kg2 b3 45. axb3 Rb7 46. Ra8 Ra7 47. Rb8 Rd7 48. Ra8 Rd8 49. Rxa5 Qb6 50. Ra3 Rh8 51. Qd2 Rb8 52. Qf2 Qc7 53. Qd2 Qc5 54. Bf3 Rb7 55. Ra5 Qb6 56. Bd1 Qd4 57. Qc3 Qe3 58. Ra4 Rb8 59. Re4 Qa7 60. b4 Rh8 61. Bb3 Qd7 62. g4 Qa7 63. Qd2 Rh4 64. Qe1 Qb8 65. Qg3 Qa7 66. Qe1 Qb8 67. Bc4 Qh8 68. Qg3 Bd8 69. d4 exd4 70. Rxd4 Bf6 71. Re4 Qb8 72. Be2 Be5 73. Rxe5 dxe5 74. b5 Qd6 75. Qe3 Kf6 76. b6 Qxd5+ 77. Bf3 Qd4 78. Qxd4 exd4 79. b7 Rh8 80. Bc6 Ke5 81. Bd7 Rb8 82. Bc8 Ke4 83. Kf2 Ke5 0-1

Werner Hug (2435) vs John Nunn (2565)

Luzern ol (Men) 1982

B25 Sicilian, closed

1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Nge2 Nf6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Rc8 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Nd4 12.Qd2 Qb6 13.Rab1 Bg4 14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Rc7 17.c4 dxc3 18.bxc3 Qa5 19.Rb4 Bf5 20.Rfb1 Rfc8 21.R1b3 b6 22.h3 e5 23.dxe6 Bxe6 24.Rb5 Qa6 25.c4 Rc5 26.Qb2 Rxb5 27.Rxb5 Rc5 28.Rxc5 dxc5 29.h4 h5 30.Be4 Qa5 31.Kg2 Qa4 ½-½

Thomas Flindt (2179) vs Martin Baekgaard (2294)

47th XtraCon TCh-DEN 2008-9

B24 Sicilian, closed

1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nge2 Nf6 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d6 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Qa5 10.Bh6 Nd4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.h3 Qb4 13.Rab1 Rac8 14.f4 Bc6 15.g4 Nd7 16.f5 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Qd4+ 18.Kh1 f6 19.g5 fxg5 20.Qg4 h6 21.fxg6 Ne5 22.Qe6 Nxg6 23.Nd5 Qe5 24.Qg4 e6 25.Ne3 b5 26.Qd1 Rxf1+ 27.Qxf1 Rf8 28.Qe1 h5 29.Qa5 Rf7 30.Rf1 Nf4 31.Qd8 d5 32.Nf5+ exf5 33.Qxg5+ Ng6 34.exf5 Qf6 35.Qxg6+ Qxg6 36.fxg6 Rxf1+ 37.Bxf1 d4+ 38.Bg2 Bxg2+ 39.Kxg2 Kxg6 40.h4 Kf5 41.Kf3 a5 42.Kg3 a4 43.b3 Ke5 ½-½

What Happens at Chess Club

I attended the Chess club Thursday night at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Because of my age and having only recently sufficiently recovered from illness I informed the TD I would be willing to act as a “filler” in the event there were an odd number of players and would only play in the first two rounds.

Having attended the previous week, the first time I had made it in some time, a few new players were noticed, which the gentleman who runs the club attributed to the recently finished match for the Human World Chess Championship. Most, if not all, of the players who attend are so hungry for a game they play “skittles” games before the G/15 event begins. There was a “newby” who caught my eye because he was wearing sandals during winter. He looked as though he would have fit in at Woodstock in 1969, so I spoke to the young man, saying, “You gotta like a guy who refuses to give in to winter.” His name was Dawson and he was ready to play, someone…anyone, so we sat down for a game after introductions. I had the white pieces and opened with 1 e4. He responded with the French move of 1…e6. After playing the standard 2 d4 he answered with 2…d5, whereupon I advanced my pawn to e5 on my third move. My opponent stopped to cogitate a few moments before playing 3…Nc6 with obvious trepidation, which showed when he kept his finger on the Knight after placing it gingerly on the square. As he did so I took a good look at him while thinking he appeared about the same age as I was when first visiting an official Chess club. He finally removed his finger from the Knight. I continued looking at the young man, wondering if I should say anything…Before speaking a particular scene from one of my favorite movies flashed in my mind:

When he looked up from the board I said, “At the Chess Club we do not, ever, hold our finger on a piece. When you decide upon your move, make it like you mean it and place it firmly on the square with deliberation, and immediately remove your fingers from the piece.”

The young fellow was somewhat taken aback, but gathered himself quickly and nodded in assent. I continued, “Are you playing in the tournament?” He said he was not. “Then I suggest you spend some time watching these gentlemen play, paying particular attention to how they move their pieces.” Again, he nodded. I did not have to mention it again.

Granted, I am no longer the player I was earlier in my life, and having played over many of the games from the recent World Senior Chess Championship,
( I realize how much of a decline there is for an old(er) player, especially in the 65+ section, which is now my category. That said, the young fellow played a decent game, developing his pieces in the opening without any extraneous pawn moves or outright blunders. We arrived at about an even position in the early middle game, before he made a mistake, moving his a-pawn aggressively, but weakening his b-pawn in the process. I secured my b-pawn by playing a3, then picked off his undefended b-pawn. A few moves later there was a tactical skirmish in which I came out a piece ahead, and he sort of went downhill from there. The game ended in mate by my newly minted Queen protected by a lone Knight.

“You played very well, young man,” I said. There were a couple of players watching the game and they seconded my remark. He said graciously, “I appreciate your saying that, sir.” We talked and I learned he was twenty years old, the same age as was I when I first went to the Atlanta Chess club. He mentioned coming because he was beating the players with whom he had been playing and wanted better competition. Wondering how he could play such a decent game I asked if he read any Chess books. “Not really,” he said. “But I’ve been on and watched many YouTube videos.”

The tournament began and I was not needed, fortunately. This gave me an opportunity to watch some of the action, talk with some of those who come and play without playing in the tourney, and those who come to simply “hang-out.” It was immensely enjoyable. I watched Dawson play one of the young players who is not a member of the USCF (“It costs $30!”) but comes to play skittles. Dawson was a piece down but came back to win the game.

After becoming a Senior I began staying home at night for a reason. Although exhausted after being at the Chess Club I was unable to sleep soundly and the next day, Friday, was not one of my better days, so I took it easy and relaxed, spending much time reading, and listening to programs via the internet.

Fortunately, Saturday was a totally different story. I read while having my first cuppa joe. After breakfast the web was surfed. Chess is usually saved for last and one of the sites I visit every day is GM Kevin Spraggett’s

website ( He has a “Chess News” scroll, “What is Happening Today?” I clicked on the ones new to me and began reading. I read every article and there were many on AlphaZero. I even read an editorial by Garry Kasparov

in Science magazine. ( Then I clicked on to read Mastering board games, by Murray Campbell.

I had intended on watching several videos by GM Matthew Sadler concerning the recent World Human Chess Championship games, but discovered videos at Chess24 in the article, AlphaZero really is that good ( I watched every video contained in the article superbly elucidated by GM Sadler. I was had by hook, line and sinker, after watching the first one, All-in Defence, “A true Najdorf brawl.”

The Najdorf was my first love. Like many others I played it because Bobby Fischer played the opening. With Bobby the Najdorf was an offensive defense.

While watching the Najdorf “brawl” I noticed another Sadler video over on the right and it looked like the position could have emanated from the Leningrad Dutch, my “second love.” I clicked on and, sure enough, it was a Leningrad! I was compelled to watch.

As if that were not enough I noticed a video by GM Ben Finegold, who married a woman in my home city of Atlanta and they opened the new Atlanta Chess Club & Scholastic Center. ( The video is Capablanca Endgames with GM Ben Finegold.

I enjoyed Ben’s commentary while thinking, “I wish the internet existed in 1970.” How can young players, and even older players, not be far superior to those of my generation with tools like this, and the best players giving great advice away for practically nothing? Why would anyone pay someone to teach Chess?

In an email to Karen I wrote, “I did surf over to Twitch the other day to listen to the lonely Ben comment on the game. I was thinking it must be very difficult to do it alone for a long period of time…Ben the Maytag repairman…”

Karen replied, ” I don’t think he gets lonely streaming …. he seems to enjoy it and likes to talk a lot so it works out.” Ben talks a lot because he has something useful to say. He is like the old EF Hutton TV commercial. “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

Other articles read:

AlphaZero: Shedding new light on the grand games of chess, shogi and Go

Updated AlphaZero Crushes Stockfish In New 1,000-Game Match

Inside the (deep) mind of AlphaZero
by Albert Silver

Three new articles were found before writing this post at Spaggett On Chess and I intend on reading them later today, even the one by discredited economist and former GM Ken Rogoff:

Commentary: Where is the fun of playing chess against a robot? by Kenneth Rogoff

Saudi Arabia calls Israel’s bluff
If Saudis do not feel like welcoming Israelis on their lands, they are perfectly right

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Image Credit: AFP

Published: December 08, 2018 16:39 Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News

Chess Is An Important Part Of Russian Soft Power
by Joseph Hammond December 3, 2018

A Must Win Situation

It is a half hour before the start of the quick play part of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship and I have just finished reading the article, Kramnik: “Magnus needs to get rid of this fear of losing the title” at Chessbase.(

I have yet to watch any quick play games in any previous World Human Chess Championship but have decided to watch today. If one is fortunate enough to become old the realization hits that this could be the last World Human Chess Championship. In addition, there is the fact that I have devoted much time the past couple of weeks to watching the mostly moribund games and have a desire to see the conclusion.

What I would like you to consider is, what if there were no quick play tie breaks? What if the challenger had to beat the champion in order to take the champs title? Obviously Fabiano Caruana would have been forced to decline Magnus Carlsen’s offer of a draw in the final game as a draw would have been the same as a loss as far as the match was concerned.

In addition, what if there had been a rule that in the event of all games in the regulation period of the match ending in a draw the games would continue until one player won a game?

Just asking…

Pawns are the Rubber Soul of the World Human Chess Championship

‘Pawns are the soul of chess’ wrote François-André Danican Philidor;

or did he? According to Edward Winter, Philidor wrote something to that effect. It is now commonly accepted in the English speaking Chess world as what François-André meant. (

The eighth game of the ongoing World Human Chess Championship reached this position with the current champion, Magnus Carsen

of Norway, to move:

The champ moved his bishop from e7 to d6 in order to institute a blockade of the passed white d pawn. This is all according to the rules of Chess every chess player learns when beginning to play the game. This position was reached:

It is now the challenger, Fabiano Caruana,

to move. When little Fabi was learning how to play the Royal game one of his first teachers, such as Bruce Pandolfini,

certainly taught Caruana about eliminating a blockading minor piece especially if the piece taking its place is the Queen because the Queen is the very worst piece to maintain a blockade. Any Chess teacher seeing this position from a student would explain this Chess principle while hoping the student would then see the obvious move Nbc4.

Unfortunately for Fabi fans this was not played…Caruana played 24 h3:

Say it ain’t so, Fab!

If a Chess teacher were reviewing a game and the student produced the move h3 the teacher would patiently explain the Chess axiom about never moving a pawn in front of the King when under attack.

In the tenth game of the WHCC Caruana again sat behind the white pieces and after Carlsen played 23…Qg5, a vacillating move, this position was reached:

Fabiano Caruana produced the move 24 g3. Current US Chess Champion Sam Shankland

annotated the game for Chessbase. After 23…Qg5 Sam writes, “Technically, this move loses the game against best play, but it comes with a very nasty idea of playing Rf6-h6 and delivering mate on the h-file. A machine with its nerves of steel would have no trouble grabbing h5, but for a human, it looks absurdly dangerous.”

After 24 g3 Sam writes, “Caruana’s move makes a lot of sense. Taking on f4 and bringing the rook to g3 should dispel any mating dreams.” (

Does this sound like an objective comment to the reader? The best Chess players on the planet at the moment are called “engines,” and all of the “engines” consider 24 g3 a mistake. What makes Sam’s comment strange is that he has written a book recently about how to “Master Pawn Play in Chess.”

Fabiano Caruana is one of the two best human Chess players on the planet at the moment. Only he can explain why he unnecessarily moved his pawns in the two critical games.

Not to be outdone, the human champion of the world reached this position sitting behind the white pieces:

and decided to jettison his h-pawn by moving it forward one square. I kid you not. The challenger accepted the Norwegian gift with alacrity and managed to draw the game.

Plagiarizing Ltisitsin’s Gambit

While researching the Lisitsin gambit for the previous article I found an interesting article which brought back memories. The article was in the Kingpin Chess Magazine, The Satirical Chess Magazine. (

I was surprised to see it is still in existence, though it appears now to be only online. Back issues can still be purchased. If only I could recall the issue shown to me by Thad Rogers many years ago. The particular issue contained a picture of a buxom lassie, nude from the waist up. Thad snickered when showing the then risque picture, informing he had to remove it from the table when shown the page containing the bountiful boobies. Today such a picture would not even rate a second glance, but things were much different ‘back in the day’ before the internet. The magazine was definitely the Kingpin of that tournament, if you get my drift. I recall a later discussion about the picture with one player, a religious type, asking, “Wonder why Thad did not show it to me?”

The article found concerning the Litsitsin gambit is dated February 25, 2010:

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

This item deals with an accusation of plagiarism leveled against GM Raymond Keene

in the magazine Inside Chess: May 3rd, 1993, pages 24-25; June 14th 1993, page 19 and February 7th 1994, page 3. We are grateful to Inside Chess, now owned by Chess Café, for permission to reproduce this material and would refer the reader to the website where Yasser Seirawan contributes a regular Inside Chess article.

Inside Chess, May 3 1993

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

By IM John Donaldson

Examples of plagiarism are not unknown in chess literature, but Raymond Keene has set a new standard for shamelessness in his recent work, The Complete Book of Gambits (Batsford, 1992). True, the work of completely original nature is rare in the field of opening theory. The conscientious author typically collects material from a large number of sources (in itself a time consuming but useful task) and offers some new ideas of his own. Unfortunately, Mr. Keene has done nothing less than steal another man’s work and pass it off as his own.


A glance at pages 128-132 of his recent book, The Complete Book of Gambits, and a comparison with my two-part article on Lisitsin’s Gambit, which appeared in Inside Chess, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 25-26, and Issue 4, page 26, early in 1991, reveals that not only did Mr. Keene have nothing new to say about Lisitsin’s Gambit, he could hardly be bothered to change any of the wording or analysis from the articles that appeared in Inside Chess, other than to truncate them a bit. What’s more, no mention of the original source was given in the The Complete Book of Gambits, misleading the reader as to the originality of Mr. Keene’s work.

Just how blatant was the plagiarism? Virtually every word and variation in the four-and-a-half pages devoted to Lisitsin’s Gambit in Keene’s book was stolen. Take a look at the following example: In Inside Chess, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 26 the following note is given after the sequence 1.Nf3 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Ng5 Nf6 4.d3 e5;

Accepting the gambit is foolhardy – 4…exd3 5.Bxd3 (The position is exactly the same as From’s Gambit: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 with the exception that White’s Knight is already on g5, which spells a quick end for Black) 5…g6 (5…d5? 6.Bxh7) 6.h4 (Botvinnik gives 6.Nxh7! Rxh7 7.Bxg6+ Rf7 8.g4! [For 8.Nd2 see Supplemental Games next issue] 8…d5 9.g5 Ne4 10.Qh5 Nd6 [10…Be6 11.Bxf7+ Bxf7 12.g6] 11.Bxf7+ Nxf7 12.g6 winning) 6…d5 (6…e6 7.h5 Rg8 8.Nxh7 with a winning game Dorfman-Villareal, Mexico 1977) 7.h5 Bg4 8.f3 Bxh5 9.g4 Qd6 10.gxh5 Nxh5 11.Rxh5! Qg3+ (11…gxh5 12.f4 Qf6 13.Qxh5+ Kd7 14.Nf7 Rg8 15.Qxd5+) 12.Kf1 gxh5 13.f4 Qh4 14.Qf3 c6 15.Ne6 Kd7 16.Bf5 Bh6 17.Be3 Na6 18.Nc3 Nc7 19.Nc5+ Ke8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Qxh5+ Qf7 22.Bd7+ winning) – analysis by “King’s Pawn” in a 1956 issue of Chess.

Besides 4…e5 Black has two important alternatives in 4…e3 and 4…d5. For the former see issue 4. After the latter White gets the edge via 5.dxe4 h6 6.Nf3 dxe4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Ne5 Ke8 (8…Be6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 c6 11.O-O-O Ke8 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Bc4 Bf5 14.h3 g5 15.Be5 Bg7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Rhe1 and White is better in Sergievsky-Chistyakov, USSR 1964) 9.Bc4 e6 10.Ng6 Rg8 11.Nxf8 Rxf8 12.Nc3 and White is better in Podzielny-Castro, Dortmund 1977.

In The Complete Book of Gambits the following note is given after 4…e5;

Accepting the gambit is foolhardy – 4…exd3 5.Bxd3 (The position is exactly the same as From’s Gambit: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 with the exception that White’s Knight is already on g5, which spells a quick end for Black) 5…g6 (5…d5? 6.Bxh7) 6.h4 (Botvinnik gives 6.Nxh7! Rxh7 7.Bxg6+ Rf7 8.g4! d5 9.g5 Ne4 10.Qh5 Nd6 [10…Be6 11.Bxf7+ Bxf7 12.g6] 11.Bxf7+ Nxf7 12.g6 winning) 6…d5 (6…e6 7.h5 Rg8 8.Nxh7 with a winning game Dorfman-Villareal, Mexico 1977) 7.h5 Bg4 8.f3 Bxh5 9.g4 Qd6 10.gxh5 Nxh5 11.Rxh5! Qg3+ (11…gxh5 12.f4 Qf6 13.Qxh5+ Kd7 14.Nf7 Rg8 15.Qxd5+) 12.Kf1 gxh5 13.f4 Qh4 14.Qf3 c6 15.Ne6 Kd7 16.Bf5 Bh6 17.Be3 Na6 18.Nc3 Nc7 19.Nc5+ Ke8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Qxh5+ Qf7 22.Bd7+ ) – analysis by King’s Pawn in a 1956 issue of Chess.

Besides 4…e5 Black has two important alternatives in 4…e3 and 4…d5. The former is considered in the text game whilst after the latter White gets the edge via 4…d5 5.dxe4 h6 6.Nf3 dxe4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Ne5 Ke8 (8…Be6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 c6 11.O-O-O Ke8 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Bc4 Bf5 14.h3 g5 15.Be5 Bg7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Rhe1 and White is better in Sergievyky-Chistyakov, USSR 1964) 9.Bc4 e6 10.Ng6 Rg8 11.Nxf8 Rxf8 12.Nc3 as in Podzielny-Castro, Dortmund 1977.

Fairness Called For

To be fair to Mr. Keene, he did some original work on Lisitsin’s Gambit – or perhaps he just miscopied. Consider the note after the moves 5.dxe4 Bc5 6.Bc4 Qe7 7.Bf7+. The Inside Chess article gives:

“The inaugural game in this variation, Lisitsin-Botvinnik, saw 7.Nc3 Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 Qc5+ 9.Kg3 Qxc4 10.Rf1 O-O 11.Rxf6! gxf6 12.Qh5 Rf7 13.Nxf7 Qxf7 14.Qg4+ Kh8 15.Nd5 Na6 16.Qh4 d6 17.Bh6 Be6 18.Qxf6+ with equal chances.”

Photocopy Would Be Better

The note in The Complete Book of Gambits is exactly the same except that “with equal chances” is changed to “with equal success.” A burst of originality in Mr. Keene’s part, or just Fingerfehler? More originality is seen as “Sergievsky” at Keene’s hands. Perhaps he would do better to just photocopy other people’s work and print that.

Mr. Keene’s behavior is absolutely inexcusable.

Batsford Replies

Dear Mr. Donaldson,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding The Complete Book of Gambits. I have discussed this matter with Raymond Keene who informs me that a full credit for yourself and Inside Chess was prepared with the manuscript to go into the book. However, due to an oversight on his part this became detached and failed to appear in the book. It was not his intention to publish the piece without due acknowledgement.

Mr. Keene offers his full apologies for this unfortunate oversight, which will be put right on the second edition (or the whole piece dropped if you prefer). Furthermore, he is happy to offer you, or any nominated charity of your choice, a share of the UK royalties on the book equivalent to the share that the Lisitsin section occupies in the book. We hope that such a settlement will be amenable to you.

On another matter, Mr. Keene will be the organiser of the 1993 World Championship match between Kasparov and Short and will be happy to supply your excellent magazine with full accreditation if you contact him directly. His fax number is (fax number given).

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Kinsman

Chess Editor (Batsford)

Donaldson Replies

Dear Mr. Kinsman,

Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply.

I would prefer that my work be omitted from any second edition of The Complete Book of Gambits and I suspect that if all the other victims of Mr. Keene’s “unfortunate oversights” are accorded the same privilege, it will be a slender work indeed.

(The complete lack of any bibliography for this book is typical of Keene.)

As for your generous offer of a share of the UK royalties, I would prefer a flat payment of $50 per-page ($200) be sent to me at this address.

Finally, I am afraid Inside Chess will have to cover the Kasparov-Short match without benefit of Mr. Keene’s accreditation which, no doubt, would somehow “detach” itself and “fail to appear” due to an “unfortunate oversight.”

Yours sincerely,

John Donaldson

Associate Editor, Inside Chess

There is more, much more, that can be found by clicking the link above.

As for GM Raymond Keene, the author of Chess Notes, Edward Winter, ( basically ripped Keene a new one at his website. It is sad, really, when one contemplates GM Keene authored one of the best Chess books I have ever read, and many others have had it one their list of the best Chess books of all time.

A word about Inside Chess

magazine from Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind:

A Review of Inside Chess, 1988-2000

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:58PM

For large chunks of its history, Chess Life and Review was provincial, very slow to report on international events, and aimed at a very low readership in terms of skill. There was no internet though, and it had something pretty close to a monopoly in the United States, so strong club players (and up) were stuck. We could get the Informant twice a year (pretty late), and some lucky few of us could occasionally get photocopies of tournament bulletins Walter Browne would bring from overseas.

It was this vacuum that Yasser Seirawan’s

Inside Chess filled in a wonderful way from 1988 to 2000. For most of its run, the magazine came out every two weeks, and it included tournament reports from all over the world, with a special focus on super-tournaments. Sometimes Seirawan himself was a participant in those tournaments, but whether he was or not the reports were timely, colorful, and full of games commented on by the man himself. As an elite grandmaster, he certainly knew what he was talking about, and what was even better was his commentary style.

Seirawan could sling variations with the best of them, but his commentaries were primarily verbal. They were lively, insightful, and highly opinionated. Seirawan was no respecter of persons when it came to annotating a move, and if a move offended his aesthetic sensibilities he could award it a “??”, even if it was played (and praised!) by Garry Kasparov. One may dispute Seirawan’s judgments, but because of his forthrightness the reader is engaged and will both learn and be entertained.

The magazine wasn’t just Seirawan, though it was his baby. Many other players on both sides of the Atlantic helped out over the years, most of all American (by way of Bulgaria) IM Nikolay Minev, who wrote numerous articles from opening theory to chess history to various subtle tactical themes. (Others include GMs John Nunn, Nigel Short and Walter Browne; IMs Jeremy Silman, John Donaldson and Zoran Ilic, and there were many many more.) Nor was the magazine only games and analysis: there were tournament reports (with pictures and crosstables), interviews, discussions of chess politics, news briefs (often fascinating, as we see players who are famous today making their first tiny splashes on the world scene), and ads. (You might think of it as a sort of non-glossy, biweekly version New In Chess.)

That there were advertisements shouldn’t be surprising – bills must be paid. But one might not expect them to have survived into the current product. As an American who remembers many of the tournaments, companies and products advertised from the time, they have a small nostalgic value to me, but in all honesty a format that eliminated them wouldn’t have bothered me a bit. The format, however, gives us no choice: what we have are PDFs of scanned hard copies of the magazine’s issues.

There are three disks in the set: one for 1988-1990, a second for 1991-1995, and a third for 1996-2000. Each issue has its own PDF file, and while the issues are searchable the games can’t be successfully copied-and-pasted into ChessBase. Two handy features are a pair of PDFs: one with an index for the whole series, the other concatenating all 284 issues’ tables of contents. Not ideal, perhaps, but a decent compromise to having one gigantic PDF that would take a long time to load and search.

Maybe the product could have been better, but even so I’m very glad to own a copy, and I can heartily recommend it to chess fans everywhere and of all strengths (especially but not only to those rated over 1700-1800), and to fans of chess of history.

(Ordering information here; and many samples of Inside Chess articles can be found on the Chess Cafe website – type “Inside Chess” [without the quotation marks] in the site’s search box to find lots of sample articles.)

Kacper Piorun vs Hikaru Nakamura Play Captain Mackenzie’s Variation

In the Chessbase report Batumi Olympiad Round 9: Poland stuns USA, Sagar Shah writes:

10/4/2018 – “Being the sole leader at the Olympiad is not an easy task. USA was the sole leader with 15.0/16 going into the ninth round. They were the clear favourites facing the Polish team. But the inspired Poles played out of their skins and beat the US with three draws and the decisive result being Piorun beating Nakamura.” (

I nominate the latter part for understatement of the year. Team USA held control of its fate in its hands. Hikaru Nakamura’s loss was, quite simply, DEVASTATING. There were other losses earlier in the Olympiad by team USA but coming when it did, none compared to Nakamura’s loss in round nine. To argue that it was not the most devastating loss of the 2018 Olympiad, and arguably the most devastating loss by any American in any Olympiad, would be akin to arguing that a batter striking out in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the MLB World Series with two outs and the tying and winning runners on base was the same as a strikeout earlier in the game.

Mr. Shah writes about the game, “Nakamura tried the Scandinavian against Kacper Piorun, retreating his queen back to d8, and was in a slightly inferior position out of the opening. There were a few equalizing chances like the one below, but Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that’s the reason why he made certain poor decisions.”

The author of those words mentions absolutely nothing about how he came to know that, “…Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that’s the reason why he made certain poor decisions.” Is this what Hikaru said after the game when questioned, or is this what Mr. Shah assumes? Inquiring minds want to know…Maybe we Chess fans will be able to glean what, exactly, was in Nakamura’s mind during that game if, and only if he gives an interview. Maybe IM John Donaldson will explain the circumstances in a future article about the Olympiad. I find it extremely difficult to believe “…Naka wanted to win the game at all costs.” Hikaru Nakamura has been drawing the majority of his games recently and his current rating decline is an indication of the correctness of what I have written. Hikaru Nakamura is now thirty years old, and if he were a Chinese player would not be on the Olympic squad because when a player turns thirty in China he must stop playing and become a teacher. Could this be the reason China took the gold medal? Although it pains this old man to write this as Nakamura is to me still a young man the fact is that in modern Chess when players earn their GM title before leaving grade school Hikaru became “old” upon turning thirty.

Let us have a look at the game. I have previously attempted to play this line, first played by Captain George Henry Mackenzie

in the London tournament held in 1883. Why Nakamura chose this particular opening only he can explain.Certainly if he were of the mindset to “…win the game at all costs…” he would have chosen a more, shall we say, dynamic opening. Incidentally, Piorun is five-time World problem-solving champion. He certainly solved the Nakamura problem in this game…

Kacper Piorun (POL) (2612)

– Hikaru Nakamura (USA) (2763)

World Chess Olympiad Batumi 2018 round 09

B01 Scandinavian or Centre Counter defense

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 (It should come as not surprise that both Komodo and Stockfish prefer 3…Qa5)

4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 g6 (The top two moves are, in order, 5…Bg4 and c6. Houdini would play the seldom played 5…a6. Nakamura has entered fertile territory here as his move has not been played often, and it has not been played previously by a so-called “super” GM)

6. Be2 (This move has only been attempted a handful of times by much lesser players. The Dragon would move the prelate to c4, or play 6 h3)

6…Bg7 7. O-O (Komodo prefers 7 h3) 7…O-O (Komodo prefers 7…Nc6)

8. Bf4 Nc6 (Komodo would play either 8…c6 or Bf5 depending on the program and depth. The game between Georg Schwager and Rudolf Ohmstede from Ruhrgebiet VK3 9899, 1999 continued, c6 9. Qd2 Re8 10. Rfe1 Bf5 11. Bd3 Bxd3 12. Qxd3 Nbd7 13. Rad1 Nb6 14. Ne5 Nbd5 15. Nxd5 cxd5 16. b3 Rc8 17. c4 a6 18. h3 Qa5 19. Re2 Qb4 20. Rc2 e6 21. Qf3 Rf8 22. Rdc1 Qa5 23. Bg5 Ne4 24. Be7 Bxe5 25. Bxf8 Bxd4 26. Bh6 g5 27. cxd5 Rxc2 28. Rxc2 Qe1+ 29. Kh2 f5 30. dxe6 Nd6 31. Re2 Be5+ 32. g3 Qc3 33. Qd5 Bxg3+ 34. fxg3 Ne8 1-0)

9. Qd2 b6 10. Rad1 Bb7 11. Rfe1 (Until this move we have been following the game R. Miranda (2238) v S. Slipak (2458) played at the Caba Legislatura Cup 2018. Slipak played 11 Nb5 Nd5 12. c4 Nxf4 13. Qxf4 a6 14. d5 Ne5 15. Nbd4 Qd6 16. Qc1 Qc5 17. Ng5 Qa5 18. Qb1 c5 19. f4 Nxc4 20. Nf5 Nxb2 21. Rc1 Bf6 22. Ne4 Qb4 23. a3 Qxa3 24. Rf3 Qb4 25. Kh1 Bg7 26. Nxe7+ Kh8 27. Nd6 c4 28. Nef5 Bxd5 29. Nxg7 Bxf3 30. Bxf3 c3 31. Bxa8 Qxd6 32. Bf3 Qf6 33. Nh5 gxh5 34. Qe4 Rc8 35. Qb4 Rc5 36. g3 Nd3 0-1)

11…e6 12. Bh6 Ne7 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Ne5 Rc8 15. Qf4 a6 16. Rd3 b5 17. a3 Qd6 18. b4 Rcd8 19. Red1 Nfd5 20. Nxd5 Nxd5 21. Qh4 f6 22. c4

22…g5 (This weakening move gives the advantage to white. Naka should have played 22…bxc4)

23. Rg3 Ne7 24. Qh5 (Nakamura has been outplayed up to this point and with 24 c5 Piorun would retain a large advantage)

24…Be4 25. Re3 Bf5 26. c5 Qd5 27. Bf3 Qa2 28. Nc6 Nxc6 29. Bxc6 Qc4 30. Be4

30…Bxe4 (This is an instructive mistake. Stockfish shows two better moves, 30…Rxd4 and 30…Bg6, both leaving the game equal)

31. Rxe4 e5 32. h4 h6 33. Qf3 Qd5 34. h5

34…exd4? (This is as bad as it gets. The Fish shows that a prudent move such as 34…Kg8, or even 34…Rd7 would keep Naka in the game)

35. Rdxd4 Qf7 36. g4 Rxd4 37. Rxd4 Qe6 38. Qd3 f5 39. Rd7+ Rf7 40. Qd4+ Kh7 41. Rd8 Rg7 42. Rf8 (Breaking the coordination between the Queen and Rook. There were many better moves. Stockfish has the simple 42 Kg2 best. White is still winning, but has possibly given his opponent chances to hold))

42…Qc4 43. Qxc4 bxc4 44. Rxf5

44…c6 (Turn out the lights, the party’s over…There were many better moves, all of which did nothing, such as 44…Rd7 and Re7. Sometimes it is difficult to no nothing when wants to do something, hoping to save the game. Moving the pawn makes Naka’s position worse. Shuffling the rook keeps the position bad, but does not make it worse. It is difficult to sit there facing defeat without wanting to do something; anything, but as Sergei Karjakin showed in his World Championship match with Magnus Carlsen, it can be difficult for an opponent with a “won” game to actually “win” the game if one continues to limit the damage to his position)

45. Re5 Rd7 46. Re4 Rd1+ 47. Kg2 Rc1 48. Kf3 Kg7 49. Ke3 Kf6 50. Kd4 c3 51. Re8 c2 52. Kc3 a5 53. Rc8 axb4+ 54. axb4 Ke5 55. Rxc6 Rb1 56. Kxc2 Rxb4 57. f3 Kd4 58. Rxh6 Rc4+ 59. Kd2 Rxc5 60. Re6 1-0

This particular variation took a devastating hit in the 1962 Olympiad in Varna with the following game:

Bobby Fischer

vs Karl Robatsch

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 g6 5. Bf4 Bg7 6. Qd2 Nf6 7. O-O-O c6 8.
Bh6 O-O 9. h4 Qa5 10. h5 gxh5 11. Bd3 Nbd7 12. Nge2 Rd8 13. g4 Nf8 14. gxh5 Ne6
15. Rdg1 Kh8 16. Bxg7+ Nxg7 17. Qh6 Rg8 18. Rg5 Qd8 19. Rhg1 Nf5 20. Bxf5 1-0

After the following game the variation was put into moth balls for quite some time:

Bobby Fischer vs William Addison

Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Nf6 5. Bc4 Bf5 6. Qf3 Qc8 7. Bg5 Bxc2 8.
Rc1 Bg6 9. Nge2 Nbd7 10. O-O e6 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. d5 e5 13. Bb5 Be7 14. Ng3 a6
15. Bd3 Qd8 16. h4 h5 17. Bf5 Nb6 18. Nce4 Nxd5 19. Rfd1 c6 20. Nc3 Qb6 21.
Rxd5 cxd5 22. Nxd5 Qxb2 23. Rb1 Qxa2 24. Rxb7 1-0

Alexander Sellman vs George Henry Mackenzie

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Bf5 5. Qf3 Qc8 6. Bf4 e6 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8.
Qxd3 Nf6 9. Nf3 Bd6 10. Be5 Nbd7 11. O-O-O a6 12. Rhe1 Bb4 13. d5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5
Bd6 15. Re2 O-O 16. dxe6 fxe6 17. Rde1 Qd7 18. Rxe6 Rae8 19. Rxe8 Rxe8 20.
Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Qc4+ Kf8 22. Kd1 Qg6 23. g3 Qh5 24. Qe2 Bb4 25. Qd3 Bxc3 26.
Qxc3 1/2-1/2

Samuel Rosenthal vs George Henry Mackenzie

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Bf5 5. Nf3 e6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Bd6 8.
Nb5 Be7 9. Bf4 Na6 10. a3 c6 11. Nc3 Nc7 12. Re1 O-O 13. Nh4 Bg6 14. Nxg6 hxg6
15. Bd3 Ncd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Be5 Bf6 18. Qg4 Bxe5 19. dxe5 Re8 20. Rad1 Qc7
21. h4 Ne7 22. h5 gxh5 23. Qxh5 g6 24. Qh6 Nf5 25. Bxf5 exf5 26. e6 Rad8 27.
Rxd8 Qxd8 28. exf7+ Kxf7 29. Qh7+ Kf6 30. Qh4+ Kf7 31. Qh7+ Kf6 32. Qh4+ Kf7
33. Qc4+ Kf6 34. Qc3+ Kf7 35. Qb3+ Kf6 36. Rxe8 Qxe8 37. Qxb7 Qe1+ 38. Kh2 Qxf2
39. Qxc6+ Kf7 40. Qc4+ Kf6 41. Qc3+ Kf7 42. b4 g5 43. Qd3 g4 44. c4 Kf6 45.
Qc3+ Kg5 46. Qg7+ Kh5 47. Qe5 Kh4 48. Qe7+ Kh5 49. Qe5 Kh4 50. Qh8+ Kg5 51.
Qd8+ Kh5 52. Qe8+ Kh4 53. Qe7+ Kh5 54. Qe5 Kh4 55. Qf6+ Kh5 56. Qf7+ Kh4 57.
Qe7+ Kh5 58. c5 f4 59. c6 Qf1 60. Qe5+ Kg6 61. c7 f3 62. Qe4+ Kg5 63. Qxg4+
Kxg4 64. c8=Q+ Kg5 65. Qg8+ Kf4 66. Qf7+ Kg4 67. Qg7+ Kf5 68. gxf3 Qxf3 69.
Qxa7 Qe2+ 70. Kg1 Kg4 71. Qg7+ 1-0

The Captain was not the only player to attempt the “Queen back” variation at London:

James Mortimer vs Berthold Englisch

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 e6 5. Be3 Nf6 6. Bd3 Be7 7. Nce2 b6 8.
Nf3 Bb7 9. Ng3 Nbd7 10. c3 O-O 11. h4 c5 12. dxc5 Nxc5 13. Bxc5 Bxc5 14. Qc2
Qc7 15. Ng5 h6 16. Kf1 Rfd8 17. N5e4 Ng4 18. Re1 Nxf2 19. Nxc5 Nxd3 20. Nxd3
Qxg3 21. Rh3 Qg6 22. Nb4 Ba6+ 23. Kg1 Qxc2 24. Nxc2 Rd2 25. Rc1 Bb7 26. Rg3
Rad8 27. b4 Rd1+ 28. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 29. Kf2 Rd2+ 0-1

Other players were inspired by the Captain, including the man with one of, if not the best nickname in the history of Chess:

Szymon Winawer

vs Joseph Henry “Black Death” Blackburne

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 g6 5. Be3 Nh6 6. Qd2 Nf5 7. Bd3 Bg7 8.
Bxf5 Bxf5 9. h3 h5 10. Nge2 Na6 11. a3 c6 12. Ng3 Qd7 13. O-O-O h4 14. Nxf5
Qxf5 15. Qd3 Qa5 16. Qe4 e6 17. Bf4 O-O-O 18. Qe3 Nc7 19. Bxc7 Qxc7 20. f4 Rh5
21. Rhf1 Qb6 22. Ne2 c5 23. c3 cxd4 24. Nxd4 e5 25. Nc2 Rxd1+ 26. Kxd1 Qxe3 27.
Nxe3 Bh6 28. Nd5 exf4 29. c4 Re5 30. Re1 Rxe1+ 31. Kxe1 Kd7 32. Ke2 f5 33. Kf3
g5 34. Nb4 Bg7 35. Nd3 Kd6 36. b3 Bd4 37. Ke2 Be3 38. Kf3 b6 39. b4 a6 40. a4
Bd4 41. Ke2 Bc3 42. b5 a5 43. Kf2 Bd4+ 44. Ke2 Bg1 45. Kf3 Be3 46. g4 hxg3 47.
Kg2 Bd2 48. c5+ bxc5 49. b6 c4 50. Ne5 Kxe5 51. b7 Ke4 0-1

Yes, that is the man responsible for the Winawer variation of the French defense.