FM Kazim Gulamali vs GM Alex Shabalov

Some have asked why I do not annotate games. Each time I think of something the Discman wrote in an email, “Now any schmo with a smartphone can figure out the best move.” I figure most readers have access to a strong program and would refute most of the analysis of this schmo. In an email exchange with the Frisco Kid he wondered if he and Kazim Gulamali could have been GM’s now if they had had the right life experiences at the proper time, mentioning the work of Dean Keith Simonton, recommending I read anything I can find. I replied, “I often wondered out loud at the House of Pain what kinda player Kazim woulda turned out to be if he had been trained by IM Boris Kogan.” Kazim and his father, Mumtaz Yusef, were regulars at the House of Pain. Saturday nights meant Kung Pow Wow for Mumtaz and less spicy fare for the rest of the House. Mumtaz helped keep the House from going hungry. Kazim was called the “Little Grandmaster” for a reason. He understood chess on a different level even when young, and we all knew it. Kazim was always a gentleman, even when still considered a child. He was an adult as a player long before society considered him an adult.
This is the game score of Kazim’s game with GM Shabalov. I urge you to go over the game without a program and then return to the notes, kept while the game was ongoing and cleaned up a little for publication

FM Kazim Gulamali vs GM Alexander Shabalov
2014 World Open Rd 6
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Rc8 7.O-O a6 8.a3 Nge7 9.Bd3 Ng6 10.g3 f6 11.Re1 Be7 12.Qc2 Kf7 13.Qe2 Rf8 14.h4 Kg8 15.h5 Nh8 16.Bf4 cxd4 17.cxd4 fxe5 18.dxe5 Be8 19.h6 g5 20.Nxg5 Bxg5 21.Qg4 Nf7 22.Qxe6 Nd4 23.Qg4 Nxh6 0-1

I questioned 9 Bd3. My thinking was that if a student showed this game I would tell him the move violates the principle of moving the same piece again before development is complete. The move 9 dxc5 suggests itself. If then 9…Ng6 10 b4 would follow.
When Kazim played 12 Qc2 I thought back to a conversation I had with IM Boris Kogan after showing him a game of mine that began 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Bd3 cxd4 6 0-0. In that game I had a chance to capture exf6 but eschewed the move. Black was able to move his pawn to f5 on the next move, leaving me with a lonesome pawn on e5, while the Black position was rock solid. In my game Black would have had to take on f6 with the g-pawn, leaving the Black King, “Drafty,” according to Boris. Although not the same exact position I cannot help wondering if Kazim should play 12 exf6.
With the above in mind, I wondered why Shabba did not play 12…f5.
I was flummoxed after Kazim played 13 Qe2. I realize that after IM John Watson published his stupendous, and award winning, book, “Rules? What rules?” (The name is actually, “Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy” and it was a classic when it was published), every player is trying to find the exception to the rule, and Black just moved his King, so maybe the Queen move is called for, but I would still take the pawn, playing exf6, because if I do not Black can play 13…cxd4 14 cxd4 fxe5 15 dxe5 and White has that lonesome e-pawn. So naturally Shabalov plays 13…Rf8. Hey, he’s the GM!
14 h4 is aggressive and it is a natural move with the Knight on g6, but I am playing exf6. In lieu of 16 Bf4 I am still playing pawn take pawn.
22 Qxe6 Oh no, Mr. Bill! This position is reminisce of some of the positions I had when taking my first chess steps. The attack would be raging but when I needed more troops they would be, like Union General George McClellan’s, languishing in the rear. At the Battle of Shapsburg in 1862, the bloodiest day of the War For Southern Independence, “McClellan refusing to act even though he had two full corps that had not seen action.” (From “The Grand Design,” by Donald Stoker) The move has got to be 22 Nbd2, with Nf3 threatened. I rejected taking the pawn because in many games I have seen things turn out badly when the attacker settled for only a lowly pawn. It may not be correct to take a pawn like that even if you put the King in check. This gives Black a move, whereas developing the Knight gives Black something to worry about. I am reminded of the book by FM Charley Hertan, “Forcing Moves.” White needs to force his opponent to react, not allow him to act.
Today it would be said that Kazim “Went down over three pawns,” when he played QxP. Back in my day one of the Road Warriors would have said, “He let go of the rope.” In showing one of his games, LM Brian McCarthy said, after making a dubious move, “I let a hand slip offa the rope here, but he allowed me to grab hold again with this move, and after his next questionable move I hit him with this move and now I was climbing again!” Translate that to today’s computer speak and it just does not have the same ring.
After checking the opening with the Chessbase database and 365Chess.com I, too, allowed a program to do its thing. I am happy to report the machine proved that Boris knew what he was talking about. If I understood this particular kind of position better than the combatants it is only because of the fact that when Hulk Kogan talked, I listened.
Kazim had what we call a Dierks Bentley, “What Was I Thinking” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMQxLyGyT-s) moment when he played QxP. We have all had a “Dierks” moment. I sure would have liked to have seen the game that would have followed the Knight move that, as the Legendary Georgia Ironman is so fond of saying, “Connects the Rooks!”

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Magnus Force

I sit down to write today at two PM with the knowledge that 178 years ago at this time what has become known as “Pickett’s Charge” began at this hour. Although Maj. Gen. George Pickett was one of three Confederate generals who led the assault under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, with Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew, and Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble being the other commanding Generals, Pickett has been the one who “took one for the team.” Because of books like the excellent, “Lost Triumph: Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg–and Why It Failed,” by Tom Carhart, we know no that the major reason for the defeat of the Confederate forces was due to the heroic action taken by General George Armstrong Custer.
The author posits that General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy had a plan which included a cavalry force commanded by General J.E.B. Stuart to hit the Union forces from behind. “The reason this didn’t happen is attributable to the actions of two generals whose clash at Gettysburg changed everything, one Confederate and the other Union: James Ewell Brown (J.E.B., or Jeb) Stuart and George Armstrong Custer. Remembered in modern times only for one day in 1876 when he and his entire unit of more than two hundred men were killed by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, Custer was one of the brightest stars in the Civil War, a fact that has been obscured by his death on the high plains. While Custer has been roundly condemned by generations of Americans who learned only that he cruelly punished innocent Native Americans, there is another Custer whose record at Gettysburg should at least be noted, for as I will show, it wa his raw personal courage alone that prevented a Confederate victory at Gettysburg and thus truly preserved the Union.”
What was at stake is best illustrated by this paragraph by Carhart:
“This would have meant the return of peace, for the basis of an armistice would have been the Confederacy’s freedom to exist as a separate state, a fact the Union would have been forced to recognize. And that-a triumphant victory over the Army of the Potomac that would have shattered it as the fighting force protecting the Union capital in Washington and an event that would have forced the Union to recognize and accept the Confederacy.”
When Custer met Stuart he was outnumbered by two to one, 2,000 to 6,000. General George Armstrong Custer refused to let Stuart come through him, and without a diversionary force in the rear of the Union battle line…the rest is history.
Of all the officers in the Union army, George Custer would have seemed to have been the least likely to have become a hero. He finished near the bottom in his class at West Point and may still hold the record for demerits given during his time at the institution. Yet when the battle raged, and when extraordinary fortitude was required, Custer had it in abundance. By allowing his much larger force to be thwarted by Custer, when what he needed to do was “pull his goalie,” JEB Stuart settled for a draw. It was obviously not JEB’s finest day.
What is the quality that allowed an officer considered mediocre by most to “rise to the occasion”? In the “Star Wars” movies one hears, “May the force be with you.” What, exactly, is this “force”?
While reading the essay, “Uncovering the Mysteries of the Knuckleball,” in the outstanding book, “The Hardball Times Annual 2014 (Volume 10)” by Dave Studenmund and Paul Swydan, I read, “For normal pitches, which are spinning rapidly, the aerodynamic force causing the movement is called the Magnus force. The strength of the Magnus force increases as the spin rate increases. The direction of the Magnus force is such as to deflect the ball in the direction that the front edge of the ball is turning, as seen by the batter.”
Being a chess player, after reading the above my thoughts turned to the World Human Champion of chess, Magnus Carlsen. He is, unquestionably the best human player, towering over the few contenders, who may now be thought of as “pretenders.” What is the ineffable quality that has brought Magnus to the top of the chess pyramid? I think of it as the “Magnus Force.”
The Nashville Strangler, FM Jerry Wheeler, related a story concerning IM Ron Burnett, who has two GM norms. When Ron was first beginning his chess career he had to face the strong player Richard Carpenter. Ron obviously relished his opportunity to battle his opponent, so the Strangler said, “You cannot beat Richard. He is too strong.” Ron beat Richard. Jerry said he knew then that Ron would be a titled player. Like Lenny Dykstra (see previous post), Ron could not wait for his chance.
What is it that allows a player of any game to rise above his competition? I believe it has a lot to do with the “will to win.” Magnus Carlsen obviously has a tremendous will to win. What seems to separate the best from the pretenders is a resolute “force” that will not allow them to “settle” for a drawn game, unless a full fight has been engaged.
Union General George McClellan has the reputation of a General reluctant to fight. From the book, “The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War” by Donald Stoker, one of the best books I have ever read on the War For Southern Independence, one finds, “McClellan’s friends and detractors have long searched for a key to deciphering his actions. Clausewitz offers one in his essay “On Military Genius.” “Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute,” he wrote. “In short”, he continued, “we believe that determination proceeds from a special type of mind, from a strong rather than a brilliant one. We can give further proof of this interpretation by pointing to many examples of men who show great determination as junior officers, but lose it as they rise in rank. Conscious of the need to be decisive, they also recognize the risks entailed by a wrong decision; since they are unfamiliar with the problems now facing them, their mind loses its former incisiveness.” (from: Carl von Clausewitz, “On War”)