Qe2 Versus The Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Qe2

According to the ChessBaseDataBase sixteen moves have been played more often against the Najdorf than 6 Qe2 yet the move Qe2 on the sixth move has outscored all of the other moves. Granted the Qe2 move has only been tried 58 times but has scored at a 62% level. The next closest move would be 6 a3 at 59% in the 123 games in which it has been the move of choice. The most often played sixth move for white has been 6 Be3 and there are currently over 19,000 games in which Be3 was played while scoring 55%.

In reply to 6 Qe2 both Stockfish and Komodo show 6…e5 as best. Although both Stockfish and Komodo have 7 Nb3 as best Houdini shows 7 Nf3, a move yet to appear, as the best move in the position. The move 7 Nb3 has only been played, as yet, one time!

P.R. Watson vs Alec Aslett

Combined Services-ch
England 2002
Round: 7 Score: 1-0
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Qe2 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.g3 Qc7 10.Bg2 Rc8 11.O-O-O Bc4 12.Qd2 b5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Bxb3 15.axb3 h6 16.Be3 f5 17.h4 Be7 18.Kb1 Nf6 19.Bh3 g6 20.h5 O-O 21.hxg6 Ne4 22.Qd3 Nc5 23.Bxc5 e4 24.Qd2 dxc5 25.d6 Bxd6 26.Qxd6 Qg7 27.Bxf5 c4 28.Bxc8 1-0

The most often played move currently is 7 Nf5 and it has scored at a rate of 60%. Although 7…g6 has been the most often chosen move, the world computer program champion, Stockfish, prefers 7…d5.

Alfonso Romero Holmes (2501)- Pentala Harikrishna (2682)

ESP-chT Honor Gp2 2006

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Qe2 e5 7. Nf5 g6 8. Ne3 Be6 9. g3 h5 10. Bg2 h4 11. O-O Bh6 12. Rd1 hxg3 13. hxg3 Nc6 14. Qd3 Nd4 15. Ne2 Nxe2+ 16. Qxe2 Qe7 17. b3 Bxe3 18. Qxe3 Bh3 19. Bf3 Ng4 20. Qg5 Qxg5 21. Bxg5 f6 22. Bd2 O-O-O 23. Bb4 Kc7 24. Rd3 Nh6 25. Rad1 Nf7 26. Bg2 Bxg2 27. Kxg2 f5 28. Rc3+ Kd7 29. Re3 Ke6 30. c4 Rh7 31. Rh1 Rxh1 32. Kxh1 fxe4 33. Rxe4 g5 34. Kg2 b5 35. Bd2 Kf5 36. f3 Rc8 37. g4+ Kf6 38. Kf2 Nd8 39. Bb4 Rc6 40. Ke3 Ne6 41. Kd3 Nf4+ 42. Kd2 Ke6 43. Bc3 Rc8 44. Kc2 Ng6 45. cxb5 axb5 46. Rb4 Nf4 0-1

Attila Czebe (2487) – Vladimir Vojtek (2295)

TCh-SVK Extraliga 2010-11

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Qe2 e5 7. Nf5 d5 8. Bg5 d4 9. O-O-O Nc6 10. Qf3 Be6 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. Bxf6 Bxe4 13. Qxe4 Qxf6 14. Nxd4 Nxd4 15. Rxd4 g6 16. Bc4 Bh6+ 17. Kb1 O-O 18. Rd7 Rad8 19. Rxd8 Rxd8 20. Qxb7 Rd2 21. a4 a5 22. Re1 Rxf2 23. Qb8+ Kg7 24. Qxe5 Qxe5 25. Rxe5 Rxg2 26. Rxa5 Rxh2 27. Ra7 Rf2 28. a5 Be3 29. Re7 Bc5 30. Rc7 Rf5 31. a6 g5 32. Bd3 Re5 33. Rxc5 Rxc5 34. b4 Rc7 35. b5 g4 36. b6 g3 37. bxc7 g2 1-0

Here is a recent game played by The Gorm,

author of arguably the most honest Chess book ever written:

Daniel Gormally (2477) vs Richard Bates (2378)

Event: London CC Superblitz KO

London ENG 12/10/2017

B90 Sicilian, Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Qe2 Nbd7 7.g4 g6 8.Be3 Bg7 9.O-O-O O-O 10.h4 Ne5 11.f3 b5 12.h5 b4 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Qa5 15.Kb1 Qxd5 16.Nf5 Qe6 17.hxg6 fxg6 18.Nxg7 Kxg7 19.Bh6+ Kg8 20.Bxf8 Kxf8 21.Rxh7 Nf7 22.Qxe6 Bxe6 23.Bd3 g5 24.Re1 Ne5 25.Be4 Rc8 26.Rf1 Bg8 27.Rh5 Rc5 1-0



There have been a plethora of Chess games currently available for viewing and I have recently spent an inordinate amount of time following the action on different websites. One of the players being followrd is British GM Daniel Gormally;

the reason being having recently finished his incredibly open and honest book, A Year Inside the Chess World: Insanity, passion and addiction.

GM Daniel W Gormally (2478) – IM Richard J D Palliser (2418)

British Chess Championship 2018 round 05

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O Bg6 7. Nc3 Ne7 8. Rb1 Nc8 9. b4 Be7 10. h3 O-O 11. Bd3 Ncb6 12. Ne2 Bxd3 13. cxd3 a5 14. b5 c5 15. dxc5 Nxc5 16. Be3 Qd7 17. Qd2 Nca4 18. Rfc1 Ba3 19. Rc2 Rfc8 20. Rxc8+ Qxc8 21. Qd1 Qf8 22. Bd2 Nc5 23. Nf4 Ncd7 24. Bc3 Bb4 25. Bxb4 axb4 26. Qd2 Qc5 27. Ne2 Qxb5 28. Rxb4 Qa5 29. Nc1 Rc8 30. Nb3 Qa3 31. Rg4 Qe7 32. a4 Nf8 33. h4 Nbd7 34. Rb4 Rc2 35. Qxc2 Qxb4 36. a5 ½-½

Is does not take a clanking digital monster, or even a GM, to see 36… Nxe5 37. Nxe5 Qe1+ 38. Kh2 Qxe5+ wins a pawn. The ChessBomb shows IM Palliser having three minutes, twenty two seconds remaining. I do not know, but assume the time control has something added, but even without the added time, one could comfortably fire out the above moves and still have three minutes to decide what two moves to play before running out of time. Inquiring minds want to know, so I went to ChesBomb and, sure enough, the above is given as best, continuing with 39. g3 Qe1 40. Kg2 Qb4 41. Nc5 Qxa5 42. Nxb7 Qb6 43. Nc5 Qc6 44. d4 Nd7 45. Qb1 g6 46. Nxd7 Qxd7 47. Qb8+ Kg7 48. g4 Qe7 49. Qg3 f6 50. g5 Kf7.
Why was this game drawn?

Arthur Guo

is a young player from the Atlanta area of Georgia. Aurthur was highly touted by older players a few years ago and his FM title attests to his Chess strength. I seem to recall Arthur being a student of LM David Vest. In the fifth round of the recent concluded BARBER TOURNAMENT OF K-8 CHAMPIONS Arthur faced NM Andy Huang. Andy had won his first four games and was leading the tournament, while Arthur had drawn a game.

NM Andy Huang (2276) vs FM Arthur Guo (2315)

penultimate round five

2018 Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Nd7 4 O-O Ngf6 5 Re1 a6 6 Bf1 b6 7 d4 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Bb7 9 f3 e6 10 c4 Be7 11 Nc3 O-O 12 b3 Rc8 13 Bb2 Qc7 14 Rc1 Qb8 15 Kh1 Bd8 16 Qd2 Bc7 17 g3 Rcd8 18 Rcd1 Qa8 19 Bg2 Rfe8 20 Qf2 Ne5 21 Qf1 Qb8 22 Re2 Qa8 23 Ree1 Ned7 25 Red2 Ncd7 1/2-1/2

Draw? “What the fork is this?” I thought. They have reached an interesting middle game position. The white Queen’s position could possibly be improved, and the black Bishop on c7 looks somewhat out of place, but other than that it is a normal type position for this opening. White has more space, which can be increased with moves such as f4, h4, and g4. After all, the dark-squared Bishop has moved from the Kingside to the Queenside, meaning white has a preponderance of force on the Kingside. White can even increase territory on the Queenside with moves like a3 and b4. This would force black to “crack back” in order not to be smothered. And then we would have a GAME!
But no…
How are these young players ever to become better if they shuffle their pieces around behind the lines without taking up the challenge? How will they ever become proficient in playing the endgame if they agree to short draws? One would think that with the current human World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s grinder style of playing as long as there is play would filter down, with the young players attempting to emulate Magnus. But no!

Andy Huang won his last round game vs NM Alexander Costello, while Arthur Guo drew his final game with FM Anthony Bi He, who took clear second place. Arthur tied for third Costello and FM Vincent T. Say.

Fabulous Fabiano!

Fabiano Caruana

asserted his dominance early in the Candidates tournament, proving his mettle by winning his last two games following a loss to the last challenger for the crown, Sergei Karjakin.

IM Boris Kogan said, “The measure of a Chess player is how he plays after a defeat.” Caruana learned from his first candidates appearance, where he arguably played the best Chess. Unfortunately he had problems converting winning positions. This time he took advantage of better positions, converting them into wins.

The tournament was marred by the inclusion of former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik,

who did not qualify for a spot in the field, but was given some kind of “free-pass.” This is fine for other tournaments where fans wish to see one of their local heroes battle the best. For a chance to face the World Champion it is unthinkable. Kramnik took the place of a more deserving player. Chess has become a young man’s game and Vladimir is over forty. When a player turns thirty in China they no longer compete, but must move on to coaching.

The tournament was also marred by several egregious blunders which altered the natural progression of events. In round seven Karjakin was languishing in last place when he faced Wesley So.

This position was reached:

Wesley blundered horribly when playing 35…Ke8? 35…Rc7 would have left the position even.

In round ten, against Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian

had this position in front of him:

Because of the discovered check Levon must play 36…Rg7. He played 36…Qc7, resigning after 37 Ne8+.

In round thirteen Alexander Grischuk

sat behind the black pieces against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov:

The knight is under attack but 34… Nf5 keeps the game level. Grischuk played the unbelievable 34…Nxb5, which lost on the spot, although several more moves were played.

The multi-verse theory is everything that can happen does happen. Imagine we are in a universe where those three losing moves were not played, and each game ended in a draw. The final standings would have been much more in line with how the players performed:

Caruana 9

Karjackin 7 1/2
Mamedyarov 7 1/2
Ding 7 1/2
Grischuk 7
So 6 1/2

Kramnik 5 1/2
Aronian 5

Exchange Ding and Aronian and the final standings would look like about what one would figure going into the event.

“Is it just me or is Ding one of the success stories of the candidates. Thus far unbeaten, likely to learn hugely from the whole experience, if he isn’t amongst the favourites for the next edition I’ll be amazed.”
— Daniel Gormally (@elgransenor1) March 27, 2018 (https://en.chessbase.com/post/candidates-2018-berlin-round-14)

As for Levon Aronian there were those who worried his dismal play at Gibraltar foreshadowed rough seas ahead. For example, consider what GM Kevin Spraggett

wrote on his blog before the event began:

Round 1 of Candidates Tournament

by kevinspraggettonchess · Published March 10, 2018

The Candidates Tournament is the unique event that will decide who will be the challenger for the World Championship match (against Carlsen), later this year. As such, all the players will be especially careful not to risk anything unnecessary at the beginning.

Being a double round event, I suspect that most of the players who have a real chance to win will wait until the second half before they make their play for winning. But, of course, everything depends on circumstances, and should a player start to run away with the tournament in the first half, then the others will have to react.

Up until now I have not written much about the chances of the players. I don’t see anyone particularly better than the others, though of course the Armenian star Levon Aronian has had the best results in the past year.

But form is more important than results! It is very difficult to maintain top form for more than 3 months at a time, let alone an entire year. Though Aronian emerged on top in Gibraltar last month, his play showed signs of fatigue.

Otherwise I would have chosen Aronian as the favourite in Berlin.


I contemplated writing about the first round of Gibraltar, but the excellent coverage at the tournament website caused me to eschew a post. From the website:

“There was a remarkable success for two Hungarian sisters in round one. Not in itself an unprecedented event in top-level chess but what was unusual was that they were not named Polgar. Anita

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess, Masters, Rd 1, 23 January 2018

and Ticia Gara

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess, Masters, Rd 1, 23 January 2018

faced formidable opposition in the shape of Levon Aronian,

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess, Masters, Rd 1, 23 January 2018

top seed and arguably the most in-form chess player of last year, and celebrated super-GM Nigel Short.

Levon and Nigel have achieved a lot of successes in the Gibraltar tournament in their time and they haven’t got where they are today by conceding draws to players in the mid-2300 rating range but they could make little impression on the Hungarian sisters. Indeed, Levon might have done worse had Anita made more of her chances when we went astray in the middlegame. Nigel had the upper hand against Ticia but it came down to an opposite-coloured bishop endgame and he could make no headway.” (https://www.gibchess.com/round-1-2018).

Playing over the games of Aronian had caused thoughts similar to those of GM Spraggett. The complete collapse of Aronian brings to mind something known to Baseball as the “yips.” There have been pitchers, and position players, who have lost the ability to throw the baseball. It has come to be known as “Steve Blass disease.” Steve was a very good pitcher, good enough to win game seven of the 1971 World Series with a complete game 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched well again the following year, but “lost it” in 1973. New York Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch or Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax both developed problems throwing the ball to the first baseman. New York Mets catcher Mackey Sasser, after a collision at home plate with Jim Pressley of the Atlanta Braves, developed problems in returning the ball to the pitcher. Jon Lester, a well known pitcher who helped the Cubs win it all in 2016, has had a problem throwing to first base, so he simply stopped throwing. Arguably, the most famous example occurred with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel, who, unfortunately, contracted the “yips” during the 2000 National League Division Series. In the first game Rick issued six bases on balls and threw five wild pitches. He was never the same, but was good enough to go to the minor leagues and return to MLB as an outfielder, one with a strong arm. I would urge anyone interested to read the book, The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life, by Rick Ankiel.

A friend, Ron Sargent, a Vietnam veteran, was an extremely talented pool player. Word on the street was Ron could have been a world class player. That ended when he took a bullet to the head in ‘Nam. After numerous operations Ron managed to live a full life, which included marrying his high school sweet heart later in life, even though he had no feeling in one side of his face. Ron said, “Anyone can run a table, but it’s a totally different story when the cash is on the table and that little lump of shit gets caught in your throat.”

Some players, like baseball player Billy Martin,

thrive under pressure. In several World Series, he rose to the occasion when the pressure was at its zenith; others do not. This is not the first time Levon Aronian has under performed under pressure. It is quite possible Levon has a case of the “yips.” At his age and with his consistently poor results on the big stage, this could be the end of Aronian as a world class Chess player. No MLB player has ever over come the “yips.” Although it could be possible for Levon to “dig deep,” and find a solution to his “yips” problem, the odds are against it happening, because he will forever be plagued by “self-doubt.” In an interview with Ralph Ginzburg published in Harper’s magazine when Bobby Fischer

was eighteen, when asked to name the crucial ingredients needed to become one of the best Chess players, Bobby said, “A strong memory, concentration, imagination, and a strong will.” Obviously, one of these key ingredients is missing in the armory of Levon Aronian.

I will print part of an email sent to Kevin after reading his post:


I would not wager on the four players who participated in the Tal Memorial rapid/blitz, Grischuk; Karjakin; Kramnik; and Mamedyarov.

Ding a Ling and So so will battle for last.

That leaves Aronian and Caruana. The former has had a fantastic year, but his last tournament looks as though he has run outta steam. Then there is past under performing in these events…

Which leaves Fabulous Fabiano.

I do not say this because he is an American, but from a objective process of elimination.


My thoughts elicited this response from Michael Mulford, aka “Mulfish”:

“What’s the rationale for ruling out the four Tal Memorial players?”

Part of my response:

“My feeling is that the speed tournament took something outta those players…Bobby would NEVER have done that! A player needs to be FRESH AS A DAISY going into a grueling 14 round tournament!

It is a travesty that Kramnik is in the tournament! MVL should be there! He is old and will fade in the second half…

Mamed is the most unpredictable. He coulda lost today, but hung tuff! He has played well recently, elevating his game considerably, but Fabby is the most talented player…”

Because of playing much faster games in the event it is difficult to prognosticate the coming match for the human World Chess Championship. Caruana is no match for Carlsen in speed games, so he must win the match in the longer games, which is what I expect will happen.

Hastings Upsetting First Round

The first round of any strong open tournament invariably captures my attention and the Hastings tournament was no exception. Replaying the upsets, which includes any drawn game by a much lower rated player, is enjoyable. The first game I wish to bring to your attention is a player who has been on my pages recently. GM Daniel Gormally was held to a draw by Kim Yew Chan, rated 2299. Not much to say when the Queens come off on the tenth move, other than that the ‘Gorm’ could have played something like 1…f5!

Daniel Gormally (2477) vs Kim Yew Chan (2299)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. b3 Bg7 4. Bb2 d6 5. d4 c5 6. g3 Ne4 7. Nbd2 Qa5 8. Qc1
Nxd2 9. Qxd2 Qxd2+ 10. Kxd2 Nc6 11. e3 Bg4 12. Bg2 O-O 13. Kc1 e5 14. dxc5 dxc5
15. h3 Bf5 16. Ne1 Rfd8 17. Bxc6 bxc6 18. g4 Be6 19. Nf3 f6 20. Kc2 h5 21. Rag1
Kf7 22. e4 1/2-1/2

The next game features GM Jens Kristiansen, who won the 22nd World Senior in 2012, also earning the GM title. Born in 1952, Jens should be eligible for the ‘older’ Senior division which is 65+. His opponent, Jonah B Willow, born in 2002, was rated 2252.

Bobby Fischer said every game has a ‘critical’ moment. Since everyone has an ‘engine’ I want to provide the moves then interject a diagram at what hit me as a ‘critical’ moment. In the best world, you the reader, would have a Chess board with the position set up so as to cogitate a little.

Jonah B Willow (2252) vs GM Jens Kristiansen (2415)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 b6 4. Bd3 Bb7 5. O-O Be7 6. c4 c5 7. Nc3 cxd4 8. exd4
d6 9. d5 e5 10. Nh4 g6 11. f4 Nfd7 12. Nf3 f5 13. Bc2 O-O

After attempting tournament Chess I decided to review my games in order to ascertain why I was losing so many games. It was apparent I was making mistakes around move 13. I do not have Triskaidekaphobia, but the number 13 stuck with me. Having a somewhat rational mind I concluded my problem was with the transition from the opening to the middle game. The GM’s next move reminded me of some of the ‘salvo’s’ fired around my 13th move.

14. g4 fxg4 15. Ng5 Nc5 16. Qxg4 Bxg5 17. fxg5 Rxf1+ 18. Kxf1 Qf8+ 19. Kg2 Bc8 20. Qe2 Bf5 21. Be3 Qc8 22. Bxf5 gxf5 23. Rf1 Nba6 24. a3 f4 25. Bg1 Qf5 26. b4 e4 27. Kh1 f3 28. Qd2 Nd3 29. Be3 Qh3 30. Kg1

Qg4+ 31. Kh1 Qh3 32. Kg1

Qg4+ 33. Kh1 Qh3 1/2-1/2

OH NO, MR. BILL! Did you see the move? After outplaying his GM opponent Mr. Willow must have wept when seeing the beautifully centralizing move 30…Ne5! Then he missed it again on move 32!

The last game we will focus on was THE UPSET of the round.

Adam C Taylor (2242) vs GM Deep Sengupta (2586)

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 Bg4 4. Ne5 Bf5 5. c4 c6 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. O-O e6 8. d3
Bd6 9. Qa4+ Nbd7 10. Bf4 Qe7 11. e4 dxe4 12. dxe4 Bg4 13. Nxd7 Qxd7 14. Qxd7+
Kxd7 15. Bxd6 Kxd6 16. h3 Bh5 17. f4 Ke7 18. g4 Nxg4 19. hxg4 Bxg4 20. Bf3 Bxf3
21. Rxf3 Rhd8 22. Nc3 Rd2 23. Rf2 Rad8

24. Raf1 a6

25. Rxd2 Rxd2 26. Rf2 Rd3 27. Kf1 h5 28. Ke2 Rg3 29. e5 f5 30. exf6+ gxf6 31. Rh2 Rg8 32. Ne4 Rh8 33. Kf3 h4 34. Rc2 f5 35. Ng5 Kd7 36. Rd2+ Ke7 37. Re2 Rh6 38. Kg2 Kd7 39. Kh3 Ke7 40.Re3 Kd7 41. a4 b6 42. Nf3 Kd6 43. Nxh4 Kc5 44. Kg3 Kb4 45. b3 a5 46. Nf3 Rg6+ 47. Ng5 Rg8 48. Kf3 Rd8 49. Nxe6 Rd7 50. Ke2 Ka3 51. Kf3 Kb2 52. Kg3 Kc2 53. Kh4 Rd6 54. Kg5 Kd2 55. Re5 Kc3 56. Kxf5 Kxb3 57. Re4 1-0

The move that would have brought the house down vividly illustrates why I was known as the coach who had the mantra of “Examine All Checks!” A teacher should be able to impart the three golden questions:
“Why did my opponent make that move?”
“What move do I want, or need, to make?
“Am I leaving anything en prise?”

Then the student is ready for what follows: “Examine All Checks!” If your King is in position to be checked after making your move a player better know how the King will get out of check before moving.

Dust In The Wind

Although having not gotten far into the book by GM Daniel Gormally, Insanity, passion, and addiction: a year inside the chess world,

I have immensely enjoyed the honesty with which it is written. His opponent in this game is the current Champion of US women players. If the motto of FIDE is Gens una sumus, Latin for “We are one people,” why are there separate tournaments, and championships, for women? In theory we are one people but in practice Chess is divided into two separate, distinct divisions.

Daniel Gormally (2502)

vs Sabina Foisor (2260)

Rd 8
Villard de lans 2014

1. d4 e6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. Nc3 g6 5. Nf3 exd5 6. cxd5
Bg7 7. e4 a6 8. h3 b5 9. a4 b4 10. Nb1 Ne7 11. Bd3 O-O 12. O-O h6 13. Nbd2 f5
14. Nc4 fxe4 15. Bxe4 Nd7 16. Nxd6 Nf6 17. Nxc8 Rxc8 18. Bd3 Qd6 19. Qe2 a5 20.
Ne5 Nfxd5 21. Nc4 Qf6 22. Nxa5 Kh8 23. Nc4 Rce8 24. Qe4 Nc7 25. Be3 Nf5 26. Qb7
Ne6 27. a5 Rd8 28. Be4 Ned4 29. Rae1 Nd6

30. Qd5?

GM Gormally writes, “Having played well until this point, I produce a very sloppy move when the win was just over the horizon. Unfortunately, I was very unprofessional here. I was aware that France vs Germany, a potential World Cup quarter-final cracker, was just about to start and so I was playing too fast, trying to get the game over with so I could get down to the pub. Rather justly I was punished for underestimating my opponent. 30. Nx6 Qxd6 31. Qb6 should be easily good enough for the win.”

My first thought after reading the above was, “At least he is honest.” Then a quote by the Greatest Chess player of my time, Bobby Fischer, came to mind: “Chess demands total concentration and a love for the game.”

Nxe4 31. Qxe4 Qa6 32. Ne5 Kh7
33. f4 Rf6 34. h4 h5 35. g4 Qa8 36. Qxa8 Rxa8 37. gxh5 gxh5 38. Bxd4 cxd4 39.
Nc4 b3 40. Re7 Kh8 41. Rc7 Bh6 42. f5 Rg8+ 43. Kh1 Rg4 44. Rf3 Bf4 45. Rc8+ Kh7
46. Rxb3 Rf7 47. f6 Rxf6 48. Rb7+ Kg6 49. Rb6 Rxh4+ 50. Kg2 Rg4+ 51. Kf3 Bd6+
52. Ke2 Rg2+ 53. Kd3 Rg3+ 54. Kc2 d3+ 55. Kc3 Bf4 56. Rg8+ Kf5 57. Rb5+ Ke4 58.
Re8+ Kf3 59. Rxh5 d2 60. Rd5 Rc6 61. b3 Rg1 62. Red8 Rc1+ 63. Kb4 Ke2 64. Rxd2+
Bxd2+ 65. Rxd2+ Kf3 66. Ne5+ Ke3 67. Nxc6 Kxd2 68. Kb5 Kc3 69. b4 Rh1 70. a6
Rh5+ 71. Kb6 Kc4 72. a7 Rh8 73. b5 Rg8 74. Ka6 Kc5 75. Nb8 Rg6+ 76. Ka5 Rg1 77.
Na6+ 1-0

After completing the game I sat back and reflected upon the far too many times I had cheated Caissia. Two came to mind immediately. I do not recall the tournament, and after checking my MSA page at USCF, which begins in December of 1991, I am unable to say for certain, but for some reason I want to think it was at a tournament in the Great State of Alabama. The date was July 28, 1991, a Saturday night. Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos pitched a perfect game, and being a big fan of baseball I was constantly heading to the bar to watch the game, until the ninth inning when I stopped playing Chess and stayed in the bar to watch the rest of the game. As it turns out it was only the thirteenth perfecto hurled in the history of MLB. The Los Angeles Dodgers were the victims. As for my Chess game versus a National Master…I lost.

Then there was the first round of the 2002 World Open…I was old enough to be eligible to play in the US Senior and playing in the class A section. IM Boris Kogan had once given me advice to “Get up and go to the men’s room, or just walk around to clear your head,” after making time control at move forty, or whatever move was time control. I had played a decent game and felt like I had a won game after making time control, so I took the Hulk’s advice and went to the men’s room. On the return trip to the tournament hall I encountered a friend and stopped to speak. In retrospect, this was a huge mistake as it broke my concentration. I returned to the board thinking only of getting together with my friend while allowing the game “to play itself.” After at least one weak move, possibly more, I had to dig deep and try to get back in concentration mode. You know the story…we all know the story…by then it was too late, and I went down in flames.

Something good came out of it, though. Many people had promised Thad Rogers they would come to Philadelphia and help him in the book room. Only one showed up in Philly, the man from the High Planes, LM David Vest. David was a smoker who rolled his own. I realized he would not be able to maintain sitting behind a cash register for hours on end, so I withdrew from the tournament in order to help out. Upon returning to Atlanta, and the House of Pain, I learned the High Planes Drifter had told anyone who would listen that, “Bacon saved the day!”

As luck would have it while putting this post together in my mind I went to GM Kevin Spraggett’s excellent blog (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/) where I noticed a box in the upper right hand corner, “Chess D B.” Underneath reads, “The biggest chess database.” There is much on his website, and I have clicked on most of it, but for some reason had never clicked on it previously. I clicked this day and found only one of my games, and it was the aforementioned lost game from the 2002 World Open:

Michael Bacon vs. Leon Shernoff

(England, 1805 [This is the ELO rating at the time the game was played] ) 0 – 1 (USA, 1905 [This is the ELO rating at the time the game was played] )
Event: World Open U, 2002.07.01, Spielmann Attack, Bishop (C24)

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O Be6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. Ng5 Qe7 9. Nxe6 fxe6 10. Bd2 O-O 11. Na4 b5 12. Nxc5 Nxc5 13. Qe2 a5 14. c3 a4 15. Bc2 Qb7 16. d4 exd4 17. cxd4 Ncd7 18. e5 dxe5 19. dxe5 Nd5 20. Qh5 g6 21. Bxg6 hxg6 22. Qxg6+ Kh8 23. Qh6+ Kg8 24. Qxe6+ Rf7 25. Rae1 Nf8 26. Qg4+ Rg7 27. Qe4 Re8 28. f4 c5 29. Rf3 Ng6 30. Rg3 Re6 31. Qf3 Nh4 32. Qf2 Qe7 33. Rxg7+ Kxg7 34. g3 Nf5 35. Qg2 Qd7 36. Qf2 Qe7 37. Qg2 Qd7 38. Qe2 Nd4 39. Qg4+ Kf8 40. f5 Re7 41. Bh6+ Rg7 42. Bxg7+ Qxg7 43. Qxg7+ Kxg7 44. f6+ Kf7 45. Kf2 Nb4 46. Re4 Nd3+ 47. Ke3 Nxb2 48. Rg4 Ne6 49. h4 b4 50. h5 b3 51. axb3 a3 52. Rh4 c4 53. Rh1 cxb3 54. h6 Kg8 55. Ke4 Na4 56. Kf5 Nac5 57. g4 a2 58. g5 b2 59. g6 b1=Q+ 60. Rxb1 axb1=Q+ 61. Kg4 Qxg6+ 0-1

Let me state I am not now, nor have I ever been, from “England.” I am from the Great Southern State of Georgia. Although I have lived in several other states, I have lived the majority of my life in Georgia, and will be buried, per my Mother’s wishes, next to her and her Mother, the rock upon which my family was built, a woman we called, “Mama.”

I have yet to look at this game. There are not many of my games left, I am sad to report. One of my cousin’s, a woman I now call crazy cousin Linda, allowed them to become water logged, along with my collection of books. A friend, NM Chris Chambers, did put many of my games versus Experts and Masters on a floppy disc, but the floppy’s went the way of dinosaurs, so they are gone forever, which is probably just as well…

Games Have Been Terminated!

The thing about writing a blog is that one never knows what an email will bring. After spending an inordinate amount of time in front of Toby, the ‘puter, yesterday learning how to insert diagrams, and then putting together the post in order to have something in which to insert them, I determined that today I would spend time with the Daniel Gormally book, Insanity, passion and addiction: a year inside the chess world, while playing over Chess games on an actual board with pieces one can feel, and possibly “working” on the openings intended for the Senior Championship of the Great State of South Carolina, which is only ten days away, by going to the CBDB and 365Chess. Wrong, Ke-mo sah-bee! An email from my friend Mulfish arrived at 11:42 am, upsetting the Bacon cart…

“Looking forward to the AWs take on AlphaZeros stunning win over Stockfish,” was the message. “What’s this?” I thought, wondering if Mike was referring to the TCEC Computer Chess Championship that is in the final stretch. “But Stockfish is not participating in the Super Final,” I thought. I therefore fired off an immediate response: “To what, exactly, are you referring?” His reply was, “Look in the all things Chess forum.”

Although there are not as many incoming as there were before taking a long break from blogging, I have received several emails directing my attention here and there, and they are greatly appreciated. Checking the AW stats today showed many people in countries other than the USA reading the AW. In particular I noticed that today, as every day, there is one, and only one, reader in the Maldives. Thank you, whoever you are, and feel free to send an email, as I am curious by nature.

Keep ’em coming: xpertchesslessons@yahoo.com

This is the post found on the USCF forum that prompted Mulfish to fire a salvo at the AW:

Postby billbrock on Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:16 am #321974

“AlphaZero learned to play chess by playing against itself. After just FOUR HOURS of self-learning, it was able to decisely (sic) defeat Stockfish 8.0! (EDIT: this statement is slightly misleading. See downthread.) (100 games match: +28 =72 -0)
What’s really impressive: Stockfish was calculating far more deeply than AlphaZero (at least in terms of nodes per second). AlphaZero is just “smarter.”

After reading only this I thought, “Whoa! This will change not only my day, but possibly the future course of history!” The more I read the more convinced was I of the latter.

Bill Brock provided a link to a PDF paper, Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm
(https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01815.pdf) which I read immediately, blowing my mind…

Every morning I read while drinking my first cuppa coffee, and today was no exception. Toby is not fired-up until time to sit down and eat breakfast. I check my email, then the quotes of the day, followed by the poem of the day, which was The Writer’s Almanac, by Garrison Keillor, but it has been discontinued, so I’ve moved on to Poem-a-Day (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day) & The Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/). Next I click on the Drudge Report in order to understand what the enemy is thinking, and doing. Then it is the newspapers in digital form, the NYT, WaPo, and AJC. For you readers outside the USA, that would be the New York Times, the Washinton Post, and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Then I check out the word of the day (https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day), before heading to check what was on the nightly radio programs broadcast while I am sleeping, Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis (http://www.groundzeromedia.org/), and the Granddaddy of them all, Coast to Coast AM (https://www.coasttocoastam.com/). You may think that Chess comes next, but you would be mistaken. I check out The Hardball Times at Fangraphs (https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/). Then I check out what’s happening in the world of Go (http://www.usgo.org/).

Then it is time for Chess! My routine is to check in at Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en) first in order to learn if there is a new article I will want to return to after checking out Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/), where there is usually something interesting to peruse. (Today is no exception because the lead article is, How XiangQi can improve your chess, which will be read. https://en.chessbase.com/). During the TCEC Championships it is then on to Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/), where I click onto TCEC (http://tcec.chessdom.com/). And then it is on to the Chess Granddaddy of them all website, TWIC, aka The Week In Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), which is Mark Crowther’s wonderful website which contains a Daily Chess Puzzle, which I attempt to solve, in hopes it will keep my mind sharp. Why was I writing all this?…Just kidding!

The point is that I read so long this morning (Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas; Cover Me: The stories behind the GREATEST COVER SONGS of all time, by Ray Padgett, who has a wonderful website (http://www.covermesongs.com/); and Murder on the Death Star: The assassination of Kennedy and its relevance to the Trump era, by Pelle Neroth) in order to finish the latter. The point being that by the time I got to the email by Mulfish I would ordinarily have already seen the momentous news.

DeepMind’s AlphaZero crushes chess


The excellent article by Colin McGourty begins: “20 years after DeepBlue defeated Garry Kasparov in a match, chess players have awoken to a new revolution. The AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself to synthesise the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium and reach a level where it not only surpassed humans but crushed the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. All the brilliant stratagems and refinements that human programmers used to build chess engines have been outdone, and like Go players we can only marvel at a wholly new approach to the game.”

Colin ends with: “And where do traditional chess programmers go from here? Will they have to give up the refinements of human-tuned evaluation functions and all the existing techniques, or will the neural networks still require processing power and equipment not easily available? Will they be able to follow in DeepMind’s footsteps, or are there proprietary techniques involved that can’t easily be mastered?

There’s a lot to ponder, but for now the chess world has been shaken!”


If games people play are to survive they will be something like that described in the novel I consider the best I have read, Das Glasperlenspiel, or Magister Ludi, aka, The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. (http://www.glassbeadgame.com/)

Or maybe a book, The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, which is not only one of my favorite Sci-Fi books, but also one of my favorite book about games.

The stunning news also caused me to reflect on a Canadian Sci-Fi television program I watched, Continuum, in which mega-corporations dominate the world in the future as time-travelers fight one of the largest corporatocratic entities, SadTech, which sounds an awful lot like Google. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1954347/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_6)

The Brave New World is here. The Science Fiction books I read as a youngster are no longer fiction.

The Terminator has arrived.

We are all doomed. DOOMED!

R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World

The End of the World


An article, Tech mate? Top grandmaster claims chess is riddled with cheats using smartphones, By Leon Watson, appeared in The Telegraph 21 Mar 2015. It must have flown under the radar because it was not mentioned by other chess based websites. It now seems prescient because underneath the headline one reads, “Daniel Gormally suggests many chess players now disappear to the toilet with their smartphones during games to work out their next move.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11487515/Tech-mate-Top-grandmaster-claims-chess-is-riddled-with-cheats-using-smartphones.html)

“The genteel world of British chess has been rocked after a top grandmaster claimed the game of kings is riddled with cheats.”

Daniel Gormally, 38, suggested the game is facing an epidemic of people popping to the loo during competitions and using mobile phones to work out their next move.

Mobile apps such as Droidfish and Shredder have made it easy to play chess on the move and analyse complex positions with so-called “chess engines”.

But despite handsets being banned in most tournaments on the English circuit, Gormally said there is nothing to stop players hiding in cubicles with them.”

“Gormally, from Durham, said: “There’s a few players in English chess whose ‘improvement’ I’ve found a bit suspicious, to say the least. But I won’t name any names.

“The worrying thing is the amount of chess players who cheat at chess, a game with very little money in it.”

Gormally, ranked 13 by the English Chess Federation, went on to say he believes chess is no different to sports like cycling which have been embroiled major drug taking scandals.

“The problem is that computers are so powerful,” he added. “It’s just a shame because now when you see someone have a significant improvement you think ‘hang on, wait a minute’ and it shouldn’t be that way.

“Of course, you can’t prove it. If somebody wants to go to the toilet once or twice in a match you wouldn’t be suspicious, but they could easily look at their phone and gain a significant improvement.”

“I don’t think it happens at the top level because they would get found out. The top players have press conferences after their matches and have to explain all their moves. But its at the lower level where it is a problem.”

Until GM Gaioz Nigalidze was caught with his pants down and his engine up, this has been the accepted, conventional wisdom. The administrators of chess have tried to either ignore, or talk the problem to death. They failed, because it lives.

Who is Daniel Gormally? ” Gormally himself hit the headlines in 2006 – although for other reasons.

He was involved in a drunken punch-up in a nightclub after he saw a rival dancing with a female player, dubbed the “Anna Kournikova of chess”.

Gormally had struck up an email relationship with 19-year-old Aussie Arianne Caoili and was accused of hitting and shoving world number three Levon Aronian when he spotted the Armenian with her.

The day after the bust-up at a tournament in Turin, Italy, Gormally was attacked by fans of Aronian.”

That would not happen today because the best players are not old enough to drink an adult beverage.

“Telegraph chess correspondent Malcolm Pein, who runs the top level London Chess Classic tournament, said he is not aware of any allegations of cheating in the English game and the game is clamping down on the use of technology.

He added: “The chess community is very aware of the possibility of cheating and measures are being taken to prevent it.

“There are metal detectors now at some tournaments and all electronic devices are banned at most. At the London Chess Classic, which I run, the arbiters observe the audience to check for suspicious behaviour.

“Were there to be a drug invented that makes you better at chess, I would give it to my children and boost their exam results.”

Most parents would probably do the same thing with their children because they have done exactly that with all kind of psychotropic drugs without having any idea what effects the drugs will produce later in life. The next generation should be called the “guinea pig” generation. At least adult guinea pigs get paid. (http://www.gpgp.net/)

“The English Chess Federation’s chief executive Phil Ehr denied cheating is widespread in the game and said he is aware of only one English player in the past four years who was caught cheating with a mobile phone.”

This is typical of the F.I.P.s in control of chess today. They are in denial, and have been all of the early part of this century. During the broadcast of the last round of the US Open Championship, and the ancillary tournament reserved for women not strong enough to make the Open a film was played of GM Maurice Ashely interviewing Yuliya Levitan, a counselor on the FIDE anti-cheating commission. She was there to spout the party line while singing, “Everything is beautiful, in its own way”…and “Don’t worry/be happy.” The woman ran down a list of things FIDE is doing to thwart cheating, including “…players not having cellphones on them.”

The latest gizmo wizard, who will forever be known as the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, did not have a gizmo on him. He beat FIDE by leaving it in the toilet, which is where some say FIDE is headed. Yuliya mentioned something about “…keeping fans separate.” Maybe that should apply to a manager like Silvio Danilov.

She mentioned something about cameras, which made me think of the old TV show, Candid Camera, as in, “Smile, you’re on candid camera! Euuww, what ARE you doing?” FIDE will go ANYWHERE to prevent cheating! Anywhere but Russia, where in a tournament like Aeroflot, players conspire to draw games in the opening and, who knows, maybe even throw games, as happened between the nefarious Russians in the last round of the recent 2015 European Championship. She also mentioned “metal detectors,” and one could not help but notice the security guard behind Maurice holding, you guessed it, a metal detector.

Ms. Levitan also mentioned something about “…investigations going on. I cannot comment on those.” Too bad someone is not investigating FIDE…

The interview comes at the 3:06 mark and you can watch it, which is exactly what I did again. I wanted to make sure I quoted the woman correctly. She said, “Once again, more concern for the open tournaments. It does not happen often in professional chess…it does happen on higher level, but usually it happens on lower levels.”

Until the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, this has been the “party-line.” The cat is now out of the bag, or should I say the genie is out of the bottle. Every result the “Dubai Cheater” has ever had is now suspect. Actually, one could drop the “Dubai Cheater” and just say that every FIDE result is suspect.