A remarkable thing happened in St. Louis the past couple of weeks during the playing of the 2022 Spring Classic at the St. Louis Chess Club.
There were two different Chess tournaments, the “A” and the “B”. In the top section there were twenty three (23) decisive games played out of the forty five (45) total games contested, which is over 50%. There were even more decisive games, twenty eight (28) in the “B” tournament! That means 62% of the games ended in a victory for one player! This is unheard of in todaze Chess world what with the plethora of drawn games dominating play. The “A” section saw white score twelve (12) wins, with the general of the black army winning eleven (11) games! In round three there were three (3) black wins to go with two draws. Round five (5) saw three (3) black wins with only one (1) win for the player of the white pieces. In the “second section” there were nineteen (19) victories scored by players of the white pieces, with nine (9) games won by the player in command of the black pieces. These two tournaments were truly “fighting” tournaments. This should not be Big News but is because of the unbelievably large number of drawn games in most tournaments these daze, such as tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Club, where players go to draw. There is a reason for the great disparity between the two Chess havens. Simply put, if a player comes to St. Louis with a case of “shakeitus” he is not again invited. In Charlotte they “Follow the rules.” In St. Louis they make their own rules, which happen to engender fighting Chess. If a player comes to St. Louis with his hand extended, ready to accept a draw at any time, that player deservedly suffers opprobrium from the community.
The time spent watching the games from St. Louis was time well spent. What with the Russian monster killing machine laying waste to Ukraine time was needed for escapism, and nothing is a better escape outlet than the Royal Game, especially when the players come to the board with their knives unsheathed.
The first featured game involves one of my favorite players, GM Titas Stremavicius.
He must be the only Grandmaster who plays with the f-pawn, both f-pawns. Certainly Titas is the leading exponent of the Bird’s opening (1 f4), and after 1 d4 Sid Vicious, as I think of him, plays 1…f5 with regularity. Sid is an imaginative and interesting player who usually plays to win. Until this tournament Sid, given the chance, usually played the Leningrad Dutch. For some reason Titas decided to play differently in his round six game with GM Robert Hungaski.
After, 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2, Stremavicius played the move 3…e6?! in lieu of 3…d6. Why, Sid, why? Sid tripped and fell all over his blade. Sid must have “booked up” on 3…e6 in order to surprise his opponents in this tournament because he played the same move against GM Elshan Moradiabadi
in round eight. Unfortunately, the vicious one was the player surprised. Sid came out of the opening with a decent position, but in the transition to the middle game Sid Vicious first put one foot in it before putting the other foot in it before falling face first into the slime pit. Those two losses with black were sandwiched between a loss with white to GM Arman Mikaelyan,
making it three losses in a row heading into the last round. Keep this in mind as you read on…
The following game was contested in the last round. GM Christopher Repka
started the tournament with four (4) straight wins, and after a couple of draws defeated Christopher Woojin Woo
in round seven while General of the white army. At one point I recall Repka being two full points ahead of the player in second place. The youngest human to become a Grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/07/14/chess-dirty-laundry-begins-to-smell/),
won four (4) games in a row after a second round loss with black versus GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi.
After a draw in the antepenultimate round with GM Elshan Moradiabadi the two players, Mishra and Repka, were tied for first place and were to meet in the penultimate round. It was the game of the event as Mishra, in charge of the black army, handed Repka his first loss. In the last round Stremavicius, who had lost three games in a row, had white versus Repka, who now desperately needed a win…
Titas Stremavicius (2520) vs Christopher Repka (2508)
Saint Louis Spring Classic “B”
A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack
- c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Qc2 d6 4. e3 c5 5. g3 Ne7 6. Bg2 Nbc6 7. Nge2 Bf5 8. d3 Qd7 9. h3 O-O 10. Bd2 Bxc3 11. bxc3 Be6 12. Rd1 f5 13. Bc1 Rad8 14. O-O f4 15. exf4 Bxh3 16. d4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Qf5 18. Qxf5 Nxf5 19. g4 Nfe7 20. f5 Na5 21. Bg5 Kf7 22. Rfe1 Rfe8 23. dxe5 dxe5 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nf4 Nxc4 26. Ne6 Re8 27. Re4 b5 28. Nc7 Rb8 29. a4 Nc6 30. Nxb5 N6a5 31. Nxa7 Rb2 32. Nc6 Ra2 33. Nxa5 Nxa5 34. Bd8 Nc6 35. Bb6 Ne7 36. Bxc5 Nd5 37. Rxe5 Nxc3 38. g5 Nxa4 39. Re7+ Kf8 40. Re2+ Nxc5 41. Rxa2 h6 1-0
Stockfish 14 @depth 47 will take the Knight with 4…Bc3. The only other game with the same move order follows, which makes 5 g3 a Theoretical Novelty. There were several turning points and I suggest you surf on over to Lichess.com (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-spring-chess-classic/round-9/TYTT0kRI) and reply the game. The following position captured my attention:
I was expecting 17…Qg4 because there is no way I would trade Queens when my opponent had an ‘open air’ King!
Klaus Bischoff (2504) vs Rene Stern (2521)
Event: Bundesliga 2016-17
Site: Berlin GER Date: 11/19/2016
Round: 3.5 Score: ½-½
ECO: A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Qc2 d6 4.e3 c5 5.Nge2 Nc6 6.a3 Ba5 7.d3 f5 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.g3 O-O 10.Bg2 Bd7 11.O-O Rb8 12.f4 Qe8 13.Nd5 Bxd2 14.Qxd2 Ne7 15.Nxf6+ Rxf6 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Nc3 Be6 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nc8 20.Qc3 b6 21.b4 cxb4 22.Qxb4 Nd6 23.Rac1 Rd8 24.Rc6 e4 25.dxe4 Nxe4 26.Bxe4 ½-½
Abhimanyu Mishra won the “B” section of the tournament with seven (7) points, one more than Christopher Repka, who finished a point and a half ahead of a group of four with 4 1/2.
GM Abhimanyu Mishra (2505) vs GM Christopher Woojin Yoo (2514)
Saint Louis Spring Classic “A” Round 9
C03 French, Tarrasch
- e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. O-O g5 9. Nb1 b6 10. Be3 Bb7 11. a3 c4 12. Bc2 h5 13. Ne1 Qc7 14. f4 gxf4 15. Bxf4 O-O-O 16. Nd2 Rdf8 17. Qe2 f6 18. exf6 Bd6 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. Nef3 Rxf6 21. Ng5 Qe7 22. Ndf3 Re8 23. h4 Qd6 24. Nd2 e5 25. Bf5 Rff8 26. Bxd7+ Kxd7 27. Qxh5 Rxf1+ 28. Rxf1 exd4 29. cxd4 b5 30. Ndf3 Qe7 31. Re1 Qxe1+ 32. Nxe1 Rxe1+ 33. Kf2 Re8 34. Qf7+ Re7 35. Qxd5+ Kc8 36. Qf5+ Kc7 37. Qf4+ Kc8 38. Ne4 Nd8 39. Nd6+ Kd7 40. Nf5 Rf7 41. g4 Nc6 42. d5 Ne7 43. Qd6+ Ke8 44. Qb8+ Nc8 45. Kg3 a5 46. Nd6+ 1-0
9…b6 was a weak move for many reasons, foremost in that it blocked the Queen. 9…Qb6 was best. Mishra hald an advantage even after playing the weak 11 a3. At Lichess the move is given as 11 a3?!, with “Inaccuracy. Ne1 was best.” Then a few moves later Mishra played 13 Ne1? “Mistake. a4 was best.” after that move the game was even…until Yoo took the pawn with 14…gxf4. Stockfish preferred 14…g4. (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-spring-chess-classic/round-9/TYTT0kRI) The game was lost after Yoo played 17…f6? What would Ben Finegold say?
In the top section, “A”, GM Samuel Sevian and GM Illya Nyzhnyk tied for first place with each scoring six (6) points. Unfortunately, they were forced to play some kind of quick game that is inherently unfair to decide which player “won” the tournament. It is sad, really, when one thinks about it… Show the players some RESPECT!
GM Ray Robson (2676)
vs GM Illya Nyzhnyk
Saint Louis Spring Classic “A”
C43 Petrov, modern attack, Symmetrical variation
- e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 Bc5 5. Bc4 Nxf2 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qd5+ Kg6 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Nc3 h6 10. Qd4 d6 11. Nd5 Nc6 12. Qe4+ Kf7 13. Be3 Re8 14. Bxh6 Rxe5 15. Nxe5+ Nxe5 16. O-O-O Nf2 17. Rf1 Qf6 18. Nxf6 Nxe4 19. Nxe4+ Kg8 20. Bf4 Ng6 21. Ng5 Bd7 22. Be3 b6 23. Bd4 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Nxf8 25. Kd2 Ne6 26. Nxe6 Bxe6 27. a3 Kf7 28. h4 Bf5 29. c3 c5 30. Be3 Ke6 31. Bf4 Be4 32. g3 Bf3 33. Ke3 Bd1 34. Kd2 Bf3 35. Ke3 Bd1 36. Kd2 Bf3 1/2-1/2
- e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 (SF 14.1 @depth 55 and SF 250222 @depth 56 will play 4 Bd3. Houdini @depth 27 will play the move made in the game) 4…Bc5 5. Bc4 Nxf2 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qd5+ Kg6 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Nc3 h6 10. Qd4 (The game is still in “book” theory, but this is not “book.” The only move played until now has been 10 Qc4 and eleven examples can be found here, if’n you’re of a mind to delve deeply into the opening: https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=19&n=3249145&ms=e4.e5.Nf3.Nf6.d4.Nxe4.dxe5.Bc5.Bc4.Nxf2.Bxf7.Kxf7.Qd5.Kg6.Qxc5.Nxh1.Nc3.h6&ns=18.104.22.168.765.909.766.19757.80384.104065.395428.558033.1231410.1527481.1249477.1542437.2519503.3249145)