Chigorin Variation Beats Bulletproof French Defense

Tigran L. Petrosian (ARM) 2605 vs Fabien Libiszewski (FRA) 2488

GAMMA Reykjavik Open 2019 round 09

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 d5 (Stockfish 2…c5) 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. Nc3 Qd8 (SF 4…Qa5) 5. Nf3 c5 6. Ne5 (SF 9 plays 6 b3 Nf6 7 Bb2) Nd7 (SF and Komodo play 6…Bd6 7 g3 Ne7) 7. Nc4 TN Nb6 8. g3 Nxc4 9. Qxc4 Bd7 10. Bg2 Qc8 11. O-O Bc6 12. Ne4 Be7 13. b3 Nf6 14. Bb2 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Bf6 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Rfe1 Bxe4 18. Rxe4 Qc6 19. Rae1 O-O-O 20. d3 h5 21. b4 Rd5 22. b5 Qd6 23. a4 f5 24. Qc3 Rd4 25. Re5 b6 26. a5 h4 27. axb6 axb6 28. Qa3 h3 29. Qa6+ Kd7 30. Rxf5 exf5 31. Qb7+ Qc7 32. Re7+ Kxe7 33. Qxc7+ Kf8 34. Qxb6 Ra4 35. Qd8+ Kg7 36. Qg5+ Kf8 37. Kf1 Rb4 38. b6 Rg8 39. Qxf5 Rb1+ 40. Ke2 Rg6 41. Qxc5+ Kg7 42. Qe5+ Kg8 43. Qf5 1-0

Alexander Reprintsev (2374) vs Petr Slavinsky, (2062)

RSHSH Masters Cup 2018 Moscow RUS 05/21/2018

ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation

1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qd8 5.Nf3 c5 6.Ne5 Nd7 7.g3 Nxe5 8.Qxe5 Qd6 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Qxd7 11.d3 Qc6 12.O-O Nf6 13.Bg5 Bd6 14.Qe2 Be7 15.Rae1 Nd5 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Ne4 O-O 18.f4 Qd5 19.a3 b6 20.Rf2 Rac8 21.Ng5 c4 22.Qe4 g6 23.Qxd5 Nxd5 24.dxc4 Rxc4 25.b3 Rc3 26.Ne4 Re3 27.Rxe3 Nxe3 28.Re2 Nf5 29.Rd2 Rc8 30.c4 a5 31.a4 Rc6 32.Rd7 h6 33.Kf2 Kg7 34.g4 Nh4 35.Kg3 g5 36.fxg5 Ng6 37.gxh6+ Kxh6 38.Rxf7 Ne5 39.Rb7 Nd3 1-0

Yuri S Balashov (2481) vs Oleg Nikolenko,(2526)

ch-Moscow 2013 03/28/2013

ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation

1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.b3 d5 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Nc3 Qd8 7.Bb2 Nf6 8.g3 Be7 9.Bg2 O-O 10.O-O b6 11.Rfd1 Bb7 12.d4 cxd4 13.Nb5 Qc8 14.Nbxd4 Rd8 15.c4 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 a6 17.Nf5 exf5 18.Qxe7 Bxg2 19.Rxd8+ Qxd8 20.Qxd8+ Rxd8 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Kxg2 Rd2 23.Re1 Rxa2 24.Re8+ Kg7 25.Rb8 b5 26.cxb5 axb5 27.Rxb5 Rb2 28.h4 Kg6 29.Kf3 Rc2 30.Ke3 Rb2 31.b4 h5 32.Rb8 f4+ 33.Kf3 fxg3 34.Kxg3 Kf5 35.f3 Kg6 36.b5 Kf5 37.Rb7 Rb1 38.Rb8 Rg1+ 39.Kf2 Rh1 40.Kg3 ½-½

The following game was NOT played in the last round, but in the fifth round. If Chess dies it will be from a billion little cuts like the following “game.”

Gyula Sax (2566) vs Viktor Erdos (2453)

Bizovac Metalis op 12th 02/26/2005

ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation

1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qd8 5.Nf3 c5 6.b3 Nc6 7.Bb2 Nh6 8.O-O-O Nf5 9.Qe4 ½-½

Saidali Iuldachev(2550) vs Evgeny Gleizerov (2539)

Teheran Saipa Cup 2nd 09/21/2004

C00 French, Chigorin variation

1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qd8 5.Nf3 c5 6.b3 Nc6 7.Bb2 Nge7 8.Qd3 Qxd3 9.Bxd3 Bd7 10.O-O-O O-O-O 11.Ng5 Ne5 12.Be2 N7g6 13.Nb5 f6 14.Ne4 Nf4 15.Nbc3 Bc6 16.Bf1 f5 17.Ng5 h6 18.Nb5 hxg5 19.Bxe5 Bxb5 20.Bxb5 Nxg2 21.Rhg1 Nh4 22.Rxg5 Nf3 23.Bxg7 Rxh2 24.Rg3 Rxf2 25.Bc4 f4 26.Bxe6+ Kb8 27.Rg4 Bxg7 28.Rxg7 Rfxd2 29.Rxd2 Nxd2 30.Rf7 Rd6 31.Rxf4 ½-½

Upset in Sautron

The games from the National Open were being broadcast by a website new to me, FollowChess ( Further exploration brought a page of upsets, nothing but upsets ( Everyone loves an upset, unless they are the one being upset! The first entry is:

Upset in Sautron: Flachet 2025 beat Sergeev 2417. Attack & Tactics!
October 27, 2017

The game is, according to 365Chess, a C00 French, Chigorin variation! What are the odds?! If you are a regular of this blog you KNOW I was compelled to play over the game…

Vladimir Sergeev (2417) vs Thierry Flachet (2025)

17e open international de Sautron, 2017.10.26

1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Be7 (Stockfish at the ChessBaseDataBase gives this as best. Komodo prefers 2…c5, which is the move chosen by Siegbert Tarrasch

in the second game of the 1893 match with Mikhail Chigorin,

still the most outstanding Chess match ever contested. Seven times Chigorin played 2 Qe2 against his opponent’s French defense. If you have not played over the match I urge you do do so. It can be found at a fantastic historical website, (

Here is a game played by Chigorin and the man who lost the US Chess Championship to Frank Marshall,

Jackson Whipps Showalter,

on June 13, 1899 in London. Chigorin pulled a rabbit out of his hat when playing his third move, a move that cannot be found at the CBDB!

Mikhail Chigorin vs Jackson Whipps Showalter

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Qg4 Nf6 4. Qxg7 Rg8 5. Qh6 Nc6 6. Nf3 Rg6 7. Qe3 d5 8. e5 d4 9. Qb3 Nd7 10. Bb5 Nc5 11. Qc4 Rxg2 12. b4 Nd7 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Qxd4 Rb8 15. Ba3 a5 16. bxa5 Rxb1+ 17. Rxb1 Bxa3 18. Qa4 Bc5 19. Qxc6 Kf8 20. d4 Be7 21. a6 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 Nb6 23. Qb7 Kg7 24. Kf1 Rg6 25. Rg1 Nd5 26. Rxg6+ hxg6 27. c4 Nf4 28. Qb8 Qd7 29. Qa8 Bf8 30. Rb8 Qe7 31. c5 Nh3 32. Qc6 1-0. Back to the game…)

3 Nf3 d5 4 e5 (Komodo’s choice of 4 d3 is far and away the most often played move, although Stockfish 9 at a depth of 32 gives 4 d4. Stochfish 9×64, at a depth of 25, shows the game move)

4…Nh6 (SF 9 and Komodo 11.2 2 64-bit at depth 27 play 4…c5, but Komodo 9.2 64-bit at depth 25 would play the game move)

5 h4? (I considered being kind and including an exclamation mark after the question mark but not because the move is dubious but because the move is so shocking. Consider for a moment you are sitting across from your student. Let us call him “Allen.” He has just begun showing his most recent rated game and you are sitting behind the black pieces. Your first instinct may be something like, “What the hell kinda move is THAT?!” You cannot say this because Allen is a “Priest.” So you stifle yourself and say, “That is a bad move.” Although a middle-aged man Allen looks like one of your young students as he hangs his head before asking, “Why is it bad?” As you sit gazing into the distance you consider his lowly 701 rating and recall some of the lame opening moves you played in the past before replying, “Because it is unnecessary.” Then you tell him about how important time is in the opening phase of the game, and of the many things one needs to accomplish in the opening, such as development, etc. You would follow by explaining why 5 g3, to develop the bishop, is the way to play this particular opening. This would also be the time you attempted to explain why h4 may be a decent move in the opening if black has weakened his pawn structure when playing g6. This would make Allen feel a little better, especially if you add, “In many openings the same moves are played, but what matters is not the move played, but the order in which they are played. There must be a reason for every move.” Since you must sit there and see the remaining moves of Allen’s game you decide to show him the opening moves of the game between Dimitri Bogdanov (2175) and Bjorn Brinck Claussen (2354) from the 21st Politiken Cup in 1999 at Copenhagen. 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Be7 3 Nf3 d5 4 e5 Nh6 5 g3 f5 6 d4 Nf7 7 h4. “See how the pawn stops any black piece from coming to g5?” you ask. “Now the rook pawn move has a purpose,” you say as the color begins returning to Allen’s face. This causes you to show him the rest of the game before having to get back to his game. After all, you are getting paid by the hour…

7…c5 8. dxc5 Na6 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Bg2 Nxc5 11. Bd4 O-O 12. O-O Bd7 13. Re1 b5 14. Nbd2 a5 15. Bxc5 Qxc5 16. Nb3 Qb6 17. Nbd4 Nd8 18. Qd2 Nb7 19. Rad1 Nc5 20. Qf4 b4 21. Bf1 a4 22. Re3 Ne4 23. Rdd3 a3 24. bxa3 Rxa3 25. Rxa3 bxa3 26. Rb3 Qa7 27. Kg2 Rc8 28. Qe3 Qc7 29. Ba6 Rb8 30. Rxb8+ Qxb8 31. Qb3 Qa7 32. Bb5 Bc8 33. c4 Bc5 34. Qd3 g6 35. cxd5 exd5 36. Nc6 Qb6 37. Qxd5+ Kg7 38. Bc4 Qb2 39. Kh3 Qxf2 0-1)

5…c5 6 d3 Nf5 (6…Ng4 would be possible because of white playing pawn to h4) 7 c3 h6 8 h5 Nc6 9 Na3 a6 10 Nc2 b5

11 g3 (Although the move could have possibly been played earlier, now looks like the right time for 11 g4)

11…a5 (The coach would have to take time here explaining why development should be completed before launching any kind of aggressive movement, such as the last move. 11…O-O or Bb7 are good alternative moves)

12 Bg2 Rb8 13 Bf4 b4 14 c4 b3 15 ab3 Rb3 16 Bc1 Ba6 17 O-O O-O 18 Re1 dc4 19 dc4 Ncd4 20 Ncd4 Nd4 21 Nd4 cd4

22 Rd1 (22 Qg4! Kh8 23 Bd2 looks about equal) 22…Bc5 23 Be4? (23 Bxh6! gxh6 24 Qg4+ Kh8 25 Qf4 Kh7 26 Be4+ Kg7 27 Qg4+ Kh8 28 Qf4 looks like all white can hope for at this point in the game)

Take a good look at this position as black. What move would you make?

23 Rg3! (Brings the house DOWN! Examine ALL checks, something neglected by the much higher rated player)

24 Kf1 d3 (I looked at moving the rook to either b3 or h3, in addition to 24…f5, so the move in the game took me by surprise) 25. Rd3 Rd3

26 Bd3 (The human brain rejects 26 Qxd3 Qh4 27 Kg2 Qxf2+ 28 Kh3, leaving the King naked in no mans land) 26…Qh4 27. Qf3 Rd8 ( As my friend the Master of Understatement was fond of saying, 27…Bb7 looks strong, not that it matters) 28. Be4 Bc4 29. Kg2 Rd4 30. Ra5 Re4 31. Ra8 Kh7 32. Qe4 Qe4 0-1

P. Vessosi (2351) vs M. Astengo (2064)

Lodi Open 2008

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Nf3 d5 4. e5 Nh6 5. d3 Nf5 6. g3 c5 7. Bg2 Nc6 8. O-O g5 9. c3 h5 10. h3 g4 11. hxg4 hxg4 12. Nh2 Nh6 13. Rd1
Bd7 14. Na3 Qb6 15. Bxh6 Rxh6 16. Nxg4 Rg6 17. Bf3 O-O-O 18. Kg2 Rdg8 19. Rac1 Kb8 20. Rh1 Qa5 21. Rh6 Rxg4 22. Bxg4 Bg5 23. Rch1 Bxh6 24. Rxh6 b5 25. Bh5 Be8 26. d4 c4 27. Qd2 b4 28. cxb4 Qxb4 29. Qc3 Qf8 30. Rf6 Rh8 31. g4 Nb4 32. Nc2 Nd3 33. Ne1 Qg7 34. Kf1 Qh7 35. Nxd3 cxd3 36. Qb4+ Ka8 37. f3 Qg7 38. Qd2 Qh7 39. Ke1 Rf8 40. b3 Bb5 41. a4 Ba6 42. b4 Bc4 43. b5 Qg7 44. Qf4 Qh7 45. Kd2 Bb3 46. Rxf7 Rxf7 47. Qxf7 Qh6+ 48. f4 Bxa4 49. g5 Qh8 50. Qe8+ 1-0

The general of the white pieces takes 46 seconds of his five minutes to play his THIRD move of the game, obviously flummoxed by the choice of move made by the general of the black pieces.

TCEC Rules

The Season 7 Superfinal of the TCEC ahampionship is underway with Komodo 1333 playing Stockfish 141214. I was amazed upon learning game 3 began as a French: Chigorin, 2…c5. In this 64 game match the same opening is being played by both “engines.” This game began during the evening of December 17, 2014 with the same opening played the following game, with colors reversed, and I spent the night watching the games, with both being drawn.
The TCEC people force the “engines” to play 8 moves. When White plays 2 Qe2, after 1 e4 e6, it signifies the Chigorin. Black should be allowed to play any move it computes best in lieu of being forced to play a move it may, or may not, consider best. When Black, on move two, after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3, plays Nf6 that signifies the Petroff defense. I fail to understand why the TCECers force the programs to play another SIX moves when it is obvious White should choose the third move. Another example is the Najdorf defense. After 1e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Black has a variety of choices. Playing 5…a6 signals the Najdorf. At this point White has a plethora of choices. The “engine” should make the choice. After 1 e4 e5 2 f4 White has chosen the King’s Gambit, and Black has many options. It is unfortunate but we will never know what an “engine” would play because humans have made the choice for the machines. Near the end of the line for the game of Checkers, with the advent of the Checker playing program Chinook ( the openings would be chosen for the human players in a tournament because so many openings were known to be a forced draw.
One would think that the humans in control of the TCEC tournament would at least choose an opening played numerous times by top GMs, but such is not the case. Take the aforementioned Chigorin game as an example. After 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 White has, according to the Chessbase Database (, just played the top scoring move against the French, with White scoring 57%. The move Black makes in reply, 2…c5, is the most played move in the variation and can be considered the main line. On its third move the “engine” is forced to play 3 g3 when the most often played move, considered to be the “main line,” is 3 Nf3. According to the CBDB, Stockfish 181114 would play the little played 3 b3. I would rather see SF play this move, since it is the move determined best. Houdini would play another lesser played move, 3 d3. That is the move it should be allowed to play.
Black answers with the most often played move, 3…Nc6, the move considered best by Komodo. Stockfish 5×64 at depth 31 also plays 3…Nc6, but at depth 35 changes to 3…g6. It would be interesting to see a game between these two titans continue from this point.
The next move, 4 Nf3 is the main line, but Houdini 3×64 would play the little played 4 d3. This is followed by 4…Be7, considered best by both SF and Komodo, yet 4…g6 and d6 have been played more often.
5 Bg2 is for choice, as is the reply 5…d5. 6 d3 is the main line, but Houdini 4×64 would play 6 0-0. The next move, 6…Nf6 is almost automatic. The program is forced to play 7 0-0, the main line, but Komodo would play 7 e5, so maybe it is best?! 7…0-0 would seem to be a no-brainer, and it has been throughout chess history, and it is the first choice of both Stockfish and Houdini, but the humans in charge forced the “engines” to play the much lesser played 7…b6. Now White plays 8 e5 and Black retreats his Knight to d7 and the forced moves have ended and the programs can begin to “compute.”
The TCECers could have allowed the “engines” to compute beginning on move two, after White plays 2 Qe2, or they could have chosen the same opening moves chosen previously by the best human players to have played the opening. Instead the knuckleheads at TCEC forced the machines to play an obscure, little played line.
The first move produced by a program, 9 c4, is not only “main line,” but also seen as best by the “engines.” Stockfish played 9…0-0. Komodo would play the most often played move, 9…d4.
Stockfish played 10 Re1 (Komodo would play a TN, 10 a3) and Komodo responded with 10…h6, which is a TN. Stockfish 151214 shows 10…Ndb8 at depth 24, but give it more time to crunch and it produces the move chosen by Komodo.
The move 10…h6 is a deviation from “known theory.” A game was played with the move 10…Bb7 in lieu of 10…h6. Who were the players in this earlier game? Were they well-known GMs who devoted their lives to the Royal game? Not hardly…They were guys of my calibre:

Samuel Minor (2092) vs Matthias Schoene (1846)
Frankfurt-ch 05/15/2006

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Qe2 Nf6 4. Nf3 c5 5. g3 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nc6 8. e5 Nd7 9. c4 b6 10. Re1 Bb7 11. h4 Re8 12. Nbd2 Nf8 13. Nf1 Qc7 14. N1h2 Nd4 15. Nxd4 cxd4 16. cxd5 Bxd5 17. Bxd5 exd5 18. Qf3 Bb4 19. Re2 Rad8 20. Ng4 Ng6 21. h5 Nxe5 22. Nxe5 Rxe5 23. Bf4 f6 24. Bxe5 fxe5 25. a3 Be7 26. Rae1 Bf6 27. h6 Qd7 28. Rc2 e4 29. dxe4 dxe4 30. Qxe4 d3 31. Rd2 Bg5 32. f4 Bxh6 33. Qe6+ Qxe6 34. Rxe6 Kf7 35. Re3 g5 36. fxg5 Bxg5 37. Rexd3 Bxd2 38. Rxd8 Bc1 39. Rd7+ Kg6 40. Rxa7 Bxb2 41. a4 h5 42. Kg2 Kg5 43. Kh3 Bc3 44. Rd7 Bb4 45. Rd5+ Kg6 46. Rb5 Ba5 47. Kh4 1-0

For the record here are the two games played by the computer programs:

Stockfish 141214 (3218) vs Komodo 1333 (3210)
TCEC Season 7 – Superfinal game 3
C00 French: Chigorin, 2…c5

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg2 d5 6. d3 Nf6 7. O-O b6 8. e5 Nd7 9. c4 O-O 10. Re1 h6 11. Bf4 d4 12. h4 Bb7 13. Nh2 Rb8 14. Ng4 h5 15. Nh2 g6 16. Nd2 a6 17. Nhf3 b5 18. Rab1 Qc7 19. cxb5 axb5 20. a3 Rbc8 21. Rbd1 Ba8 22. Ne4 Rfe8 23. b3 Qa7 24. Rb1 Qc7 25. b4 cxb4 26. axb4 Bxb4 27. Rf1 Qb8 28. Nf6+ Nxf6 29. exf6 e5 30. Bh6 Bc3 31. Bh3 e4 32. dxe4 Rcd8 33. Qxb5 Qxb5 34. Rxb5 Na5 35. Rc1 Bxe4 36. Nxd4 Bxd4 37. Rxa5 Bb2 38. Rf1 Bxf6 39. Bg2 Bf5 40. Bf3 Bc3 41. Ra2 Rd3 42. Be2 Rd4 43. Rc1 Rde4 1/2-1/2

Komodo 1333 (3210) vs Stockfish 141214 (3218)
TCEC Season 7 – Superfinal game 4
C00 French: Chigorin, 2…c5

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg2 d5 6. d3 Nf6 7. O-O b6 8. e5 Nd7 9. c4 O-O 10. Re1 h6 11. Bf4 d4 12. h4 Bb7 13. Nh2 Re8 14. Qg4 Bf8 15. Bxc6 Bxc6 16. Bxh6 f5 17. Qg6 Qe7 18. Bf4 Qf7 19. Qxf7+ Kxf7 20. Nd2 b5 21. Nhf3 Be7 22. cxb5 Bxb5 23. Nc4 Bc6 24. Ng5+ Bxg5 25. Bxg5 Reb8 26. Na5 Bb5 27. Rad1 Rb6 28. b3 Rab8 29. Re2 Ra6 30. Nc4 Bxc4 31. bxc4 Rab6 32. f3 Rb2 33. Rde1 Rxe2 34. Rxe2 Rb1+ 35. Kf2 Nb8 36. Re1 Rb2+ 37. Re2 Rb1 38. g4 fxg4 39. fxg4 Nc6 40. h5 a5 41. Kf3 Rd1 42. Bd2 Ra1 43. Be1 a4 44. g5 a3 45. Kf4 Rb1 46. g6+ Ke8 47. Ke4 Rb2 48. Kf3 Nb4 49. Bxb4 cxb4 50. h6 gxh6 51. c5 b3 52. c6 Rxe2 53. Kxe2 bxa2 54. c7 Kd7 55. c8=Q+ Kxc8 56. g7 a1=Q 57. g8=Q+ Kb7 58. Qf7+ Ka6 59. Qxe6+ Ka5 60. Qd5+ Ka4 61. Qc6+ Kb4 62. Qc4+ Ka5 63. Qc5+ Ka4 64. Qc4+ 1/2-1/2

If any of this is logical to you, please leave a comment and elucidate the AW because none of this makes any sense to me whatsoever and I am certain Mr. Spock would question the logic behind the moves.