MASTERPIECES and DRAMAS of the SOVIET CHAMPIONSHIPS: A Review

https://www.elkandruby.com/gallery_gen/747a47fa5b23337812306036d59aba6c_932x1416.jpg
https://www.elkandruby.com/

This is a magnificent book. I recall an actor once saying that although winning an Oscar meant something in the business what mattered was who garnered the most nominations. This book will surely be on every voters short list for the best book of the year award.

The book begins: Foreword to the English Edition: Chess in the Context of Time

Sergey Voronkov edited the Russian edition of My Great Predecessors; maybe that’s what gave him the idea of creating his own huge project, Masterpieces and Dramas of the Soviet Championships. I wanted to show the historical development of modern chess through analyzing the games of world champions and those who got close the their level. He is trying to write the history of the Soviet chess school through the prism of the Soviet championships.
Over the years that have passed since his first book, David Janowski (with Dimitry Plisetsky, published in Russian in 1987), Sergey has grown into a top Russian chess historian. Small wonder” he worked with Yuri Lvovich Averbakh

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for a number of years and classes him as his teacher. And then Sergey gained experience of chess analysis when working with David Bronstein on their book Secret Notes.

https://pictures.abebooks.com/isbn/9783283004644-us-300.jpg


As in his other books, Masterpieces and Dramas of the Soviet Championships is based on documents” periodicals, tournament bulletins, games collections, eyewitness accounts… And, as a classic said, “analysis of what’s happening in the world based on documentary evidence is a thousand times more demonstrative than any dramatization of this world.”
Another attractive feature of this book is the great game selection. I know from experience how difficult and laborious this task is: to choose, out of hundreds of worthy games, the most wholesome and beautiful, the most important for each championship, and to demonstrate the development of chess as a whole. In this sense, the idea of combining “masterpieces” with “dramas” was very clever, allowing him to include a number of historically valuable games that influenced the course of tournaments in crucial ways.
Most of the games were annotated by the players themselves. On the one hand, this makes the author’s job easier, but on the other hand, it becomes more challenging ethically. There are quite a few erroneous lines and evaluations in the original annotations, which necessitates computer evaluation. But if we point out all the errors and inaccuracies, this might ruin the notes themselves, and give readers the wrong idea about the master’ playing strength and analytical skills. These days, you immediately get to see any error on the screen, but back then the analysis of a game required blood, sweat and tears… And what to do with the opening recommendations, oftentimes very obsolete? To throw them away entirely is to break the linkage of time, to dilute the development of opening thought, deprive it of its roots, and devalue the work of our predecessors. But if we don’t challenge the archaic recommendations at all, the opening part of the games will become essentially useless for modern players…
It’s hard to find the right balance between the analytical facts and historical truth. The author was helped by chess master Dmitry Plisetsky, who helped me to write My Great Predecessors. So, you can be sure that the chess part of Sergey’s book is high-quality as well.
Trying to shoulder alone such a burden as the history of the Soviet chess school is a heroic act. Sergey has already published three volumes in Russian that encompass 20 championships (1920-1953). 38 more are ahead… Will he manage to complete his project? Each championship requires meticulous work. I can only imagine how many tons of chess and literary “ore” the author had to dig through, how much information he had to interpret and structure to create a seamless picture of the first ten championships! Despite its academic adherence to documents, this book virtually resembles a novel: with a mystery plot, protagonists and supporting cast, sudden denouements and even “author’s digressions” – or, to be exact, introductions to the championships themselves, which constitute important parts of this book as well. These introductions, with wide and precise strokes, paint the portrait of the initial post-revolutionary era, heroic and horrific at the same time. I’ve always said that chess is a microcosm of society. Showing chess in the context of time is what makes this book valuable even beyond the purely analytical point of view.

Gary Kasparov
New York, July 2020

Where does a reviewer begin after the forward by former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov? This was a major problem when trying to write this review. After the forward almost everything I added seemed superfluous. The author seemed to be in a quandary as well as he writes, “I hope that David Ionovich would have liked this book,” followed by, “I think the only thing Bronstein wouldn’t have approved of is computer analysis of the games.” Gone are the days when we mortals would spend time analyzing and dissecting our own games and the games of the Grandmasters. The top players were human and made mistakes. How wonderful it seemed when one found a better move, and others agreed! That does not happen today because players resort to the oracle called Stockfish, which has become the be all and possibly the end all of Chess. Something has been gained, but something greater has been lost…As the author writes in the following introduction, the book is, “…first and foremost about people.” Unfortunately, the computer Chess programs have eliminated the human element from the game.

Introduction: Through the Lava of Time

“In Russia, when you talk about history, you are always alluding to current times, while a historian is a prophet who predicts retrospectively.” – Dmitry Bykov, Boris Pasternak

It’s such a pity that David Ionovich Bronstein

David Bronstein quote: Independence of thought is a most ...

won’t see this book. His ideas demonstrated an amazing ability to grow through the lava of time. I hope that David Ionovich would have liked this book. It’s first and foremost about people, whereas the “Soviet Chess School” is a secondary topic: this wasn’t a conscious decision – it’s simply because in chess, as in life, I was always more interested in individual people that in abstract chimeras of “schools” or trends”. My articles, fully based on documentary sources, were criticized because I dared to state my won opinion, even though “a chronicler should be above the fray.” Please don’t get confused: I’m not a chronicler, my genre is closer to a documentary movie. And as Mikhail Romm, creator of Triumph Over Violence, once said, “A documentary is a peculiar form of auteur cinema.”

I think the only thing Bronstein wouldn’t have approved of is computer analysis of the games. But what else could I do: Of course, if he was still around, as in the wonderful times when working on David Versus Goliath (The Russian name of our book, Secret Notes), I wouldn’t have even thought about it. Back then, we decided to calculate all lines purely with our human brains, but.. David was the only one who could do that! The modern Goliaths of machine analysis have probably already forgotten the delights of that multiple – hour search for the truth, and just how exciting it is to slowly push around the ordinary wooden pieces on an ordinary wooden board…

So begins the introduction by Sergey Voronkov, written in Moscow in March of 2007.

Now that you have been introduced, the book consists of ten chapters, one for each of the first ten Soviet Chess Championships. This review will focus only on the first.

A Chess feast During the Plague: All-Russian Chess Olympiad: Moscow, 4th – 24th October 1920:

“Let’s light the lamps, let’s pour the drinks,
Let’s drown our sorrows in the kegs,
Let’s feast, and dance, and do all things,
To praise the kingdom of the Plague”
Alexander Pushkin, Feast During the Plague

Just like any truly great undertaking – and the Soviet Chess Championships are a phenomenon of planetary scale – this one owes its existence to a random, almost trifling coincidence. Had the Leninist revolutionary Ilyin-Shenevsky not been a passionate chess fan, who know how many years would have passed before the Bolsheviks took note of the “royal game”. Really, can you call that anything but a miracle? The Russian Civil War is still raging in the outskirts of the country, devastation and hunger are rampant, conspiracies abound, the Red Terror is in full swing – and then, suddenly, there’s an All-Russian Chess Olympiad! How could such a thing have happened in 1920?
Oh, this was such an unbelievable chain of coincidences that it might really make you believe in an old adage: any random occurrence is actually a manifestation of some unknown pattern. It all began when Alexander Fyodorovich Ilyin-Zhenevsky… well, we can let him speak for himself.

Ilyin-Zhenevsky: “In early 1920, I got a job in the head office of the Vsevobuch (Universal Military Training) and was soon promoted to commissar. I worked together with great physical education specialist to develop pre-conscription training programs for workers, and I suggested including chess training in these programs… The main value of sports, they said, was that it developed qualities that were very important for a soldier. I thought that this was true for chess as well. Chess training often develops the same qualities in people as any other sport training – bravery, resourcefulness, composure, willpower – and also, unlike sport, it develops strategic skills. My suggestion was accepted and approved by the chairman of Vsevobuch, Comrade N. I. Podvoisky. Soon after, all regional Vsevobuch heads received a decree to cultivate chess and organize chess circles…” (From the book Memoirs of a Soviet Master) There is a note here: The full bibliography is included at the end of the book.

Future World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine had this to say about how the Soviet era in Chess came about: “The Moscow chess players, moving from place to place, despite the fuel crisis and many other insurmountable obstacles, managed to survive until 1919, and the, one of the most influential members of the Soviet government appeared on the horizon. And even thought he was the brother of the even more famous Raskolnikov, the leader of the sailors, he had a different pseudonym, Ilyin-Zhenevsky (from the city of Geneva). He was a decent player and a fervent chess enthusiast, and his authority, both as Raskolnikov’s brother and his position as the Vsevobuch head commissar, was instrumental in making the Red government drastically change its attitude towards the ‘royal game’. In their eyes, chess turned from “bourgeois leisure” into a “high and useful art that develops the intellectual strength of the growing generation” (a quote from the resolution of the Moscow region Vsevobuch officials’ convention, which took place in April 1920). Because of this change of stance, Moscow chess players were suddenly treated to a real cornucopia. Above all, they were allocated excellent six-room premises in the Vsevobuch Central Military Sport Club; the Moscow Chess Club was officially turned into a “department” of that institution. Also, they received funding of 100,000 rubles (which had a purchasing power of 1 million rubles now!) to organize serious tournaments. And, finally and most importantly, they got to organize the “All-Russian Chess Olympiad”, which was held in October 1920.” (from the book Chess in the Soviet Union by A. von Alekhine, originally published in the German language in Berlin, 1921.)

Who was Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky, the man responsible for your reading this review, and hopefully, the book?

Ilyin-Zhenevsky’s authority was so great that chess players referred to him as “our president”. The Leningrad master Andrei Batuev was a schoolboy back then and first saw Alexander Fyodorovich later, but he may as well have been referring to the 26 year-old Vsevobuch commissar: “He was incredibly handsome and unique man, with blue eyes, delicate, a girl-like blush and curly auburn hair. He was shell-shocked in the war and made funny grimaces, turning his head to the side and smacking his trembling lips. Interestingly enough, Ilyin-Zhenevsky lost his memory after a contusion, and he had to relearn chess from scratch,” (Neva No. 9, 1984)

https://chessterra.com/2020/11/05/meet-the-chess-master-who-learned-how-to-play-chess-twice-capablanca-vs-ilyin-zhenevsky/

The Winners and the Prizes

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Peter Romanovsky and Alexander Alekhine

From the press: “Most of the participants of the main event played after a long hiatus, and so couldn’t fully demonstrate their skills on the chess battlefield. Without a doubt, Alekhine didn’t play his best, and managed to win only with a great effort and good shard of luck. By contrast, Levenfish, who played better than everyone else, took only third place because at the very beginning of the tournament, when he hadn’t hit his stride yet, he drew and even lost some games despite having completely won positions…Romanovsky played unexpectedly well, taking second place, ahead of three maestros.” (Listok Petrogubkommuny, 8th May 1921.

The comment about Alekhine is quite remarkable! As you might see, the opinion that he “effortlessly” and “brilliantly” won first prize only took hold years later, not immediately. I initially blamed his biographers, Vasily Panov

Estrin, Y. "Vasily Panov"
chesskopyl-books.com.ua

and Alexander Kotov,

The art of looking for candidate moves! – Chess Pathshala
chesspathshala.in

but then I found the original source – Levenfish’s words in 1925: “Alekhine won the 1920 Olympiad without any effort.” Yes, if we look into the table, such an evaluation looks pretty convincing. But an analysis of Alekhine’s games (even though only ten of them survived) shows that the victory indeed didn’t come easy to him. Years later, Zubarev wrote about that, too: “The tournament ended with Alekhine’s victory, however, this win wasn’t completely overwhelming. Alekhine played with great strain, but despite that, he still had lost positions in several games, and Blumenfeld agreed to a draw with him despite having an obvious win.” (Shakhmaty v SSSR(itl), No. 11-12, 1937.)

However, we shouldn’t take the Listok’s words at face value, either: as it soon (in No. 9) became known, there was a conflict of interest, since the magazine’s editorial board included both Levenfish and Romanovsky. In this context, the remark about “Levenfish, who played better than everyone else” look kind of improper…
I’ll finish the introduction of the winner with a quote from a humorous poem about the Olympiad, written by a Moscow chess player Boris Grigoriev, well-known in his time. The poem is certainly not a masterpiece, but Alekhine’s image is so different from the generally accepted one (“even though he doesn’t create his own plan…”) that this alone redeems all technical flaws. As the years go by, accounts about people written before they became famous geniuses and everyone started writing about them with reverence, become increasingly valuable.

Alekhine is our grandmaster.
Want to introduce him? What for?
The fame is like glue.
If it sticks to you, you can’t get it off.
He doesn’t need recommendations
From anyone,And the prize – a bundle of money –
He said himself, “I’ll take it!”
So, what’s your opinion
About his creativity?
The general consensus
Is currently this:
Even though he doesn’t create
His own plan,
And only searches for flaws,
You should beware if he finds one…
He drills into your weakness,
He hits you like a hammer!
He’ll beat your pieces into a pulp,
Nobody can survive that!
He is also able
To catch the thread of play
And then think intently
On further developments…
He’s a demon of destruction,
A very dangerous microbe
Of decay and dissolution,
And this is not slander!
His openings are shaky
(The theory is strict!),
But as soon as you make a smallest mistake,
Woe is you!

There is a footnote here: The original rhymed

Alekhine’s Hint

Alekhine, um jogador de xadrez FRIO e CALCULISTA || Alexander Alekhine x Grigory Levenfish (1912)

Let’s begin with the most dramatic game of the entire Olympiad. It was played at the very start, but its result ultimately determined the final standings and brought the master’s title to Peter Romanovsky. Still, years later, he would write, “This accidental victory did not make me happy. I realized that this tournament would be a hard test for me.”

Peter Romanovsky

Piotr Romanovsky, tan cerca de la locura, tan lejos
Piotr Romanovsky, tan cerca de la locura, tan lejos
ajedrezdeataque.com

vs Grigory Levenfish

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/292382200813064796/


Moscow 1920, round 1
Annotated by G. Levenfish

Black to move

33…Qxa2. 33…Qd8 34.Qa6! Qg8 35.e5 (35.Qxc6+ Kd8!) 35…Qg4+ 36.Ke4 Qg6+ 37.Kf3 Rxh2 or 37…Qxb1 won as well.
While my opponent thought over his move, I took a walk. Alekhine walked around the hall, too. He looked at my game, and then, walking beside me, said, “Aha, so you’re preparing mate on g2!”
34.e4 Romanovsky clearly saw the rook sacrifice. For instance, 34.Ra3 is met with 34…Rg3+ 35.hxge Qg2+ 36.Kg4 Rd8 37.Bg1 Rh8 38.Rxa7 Rh4# (37.f5 Rg8+ 38.Bg5 Bxg5 39.Qf3 Be3+ would only prolong the struggle). The game move prevents this combination.
Black could win in numerous ways not. The simplest one was 34…Rd8, again threatening Rg3+, or 34…Bh4, or 34…Rxh2, without any fancy stuff. But, hypnotized by Alekhine’s words, I came to the board and immediately sacrificed the rook, without even writing the move down!

Black to move

34…Rg3+?? 35.hxg3 (35.Kxg3?? Qg2#) 35…Qg2+ 36.Kg4. I didn’t expect this move at all. 36…Rd8 37.Kh7! (That’s why white played 34.e5) 37…Rh8 38.Qxh8+ Bxh8 39.Rxb7 Qe2+ 40 Kh4 Qa6 41 Rb8+ Kc7 42.Bd2. Black resigned.
I was punished for my complacency. Because of this game I finished third in the tournament, while Romanovsky took second place.

Kasparov Cries

Kasparov comes close to dream win

“Maybe I have a chance — maybe it’s my swan song,” was a thought that went through the head of 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov one round into the final day of Chess9LX, but by the time it was over there was frustration at finishing “only” 5th.

Even if things didn’t quite work out for Garry Kasparov he’d made the disaster in Zagreb a distant memory | photo: Crystal Fuller, Saint Louis Chess Club

Garry Kasparov@Kasparov63

Damn it!

6:58 PM · Sep 10, 2021

“Sometimes you have to take your chances, you have to take risks! With Hikaru I repeated moves and the position was… I had to calculate the idea with f4, and I saw it, and I wasn’t sure, and I thought, why should I take this risk? And I repeated moves, and it was a bad decision… I’m not at my prime, but I had to take my chance!”

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/dominguez-takes-chess9lx-title-as-kasparov-cries-damn-it

The Pawn Who Roared

Momir Radovic,

https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C5603AQGX3SkUWSygJQ/profile-displayphoto-shrink_200_200/0/1517624149528?e=1636588800&v=beta&t=zyMSnqWihXzQRRQ4Y_WfuqTbDNTnIw9SpDaLaOI_gtQ
Chess Instructor at Kennesaw State University
Marietta, Georgia, United States

aka RoaringPawn

https://images.chesscomfiles.com/uploads/v1/user/11858696.253a4c41.160x160o.6e1a2412d43b@2x.png
RoaringPawn
Relational method originator

at Chess.com (https://www.chess.com/member/roaringpawn), wrote an interesting article, How Opening “Experts” are Ruining Growth of Developing Players, (https://www.chess.com/blog/RoaringPawn/how-opening-experts-are-ruining-growth-of-developing-players), published August 29, 2021.

Intrigued, I researched the fellow, learning he resides right here in the Great State of Georgia!

Momir Radovic – Marietta, Georgia, United States …
[Search domain linkedin.com] https://www.linkedin.com/in/chesscontact
Momir Radovic Chess Instructor at Kennesaw State University Marietta, Georgia, United States 421 connections. Join to Connect Report this profile About I’m a chess instructor at Kennesaw State …
https://www.linkedin.com/in/chesscontact

I teach chess and want to champion others to grow in it, as well as personally, using my unique teaching perspective. I strongly believe in others’ inherent qualities and enormous potential to succeed both in chess and in life
https://www.flickr.com/people/chesscontact/

Whoa now, Mr. Pawn? Georgia’s #1 Chess Blog?!!! This reminded me of an old TV commercial about websites in which a boy asks an adult, “How many hits do you get?”

At this point I emailed the President of the GCA, the honorable Scott Parker, inquiring about the man behind Georgia’s #1 Chess Blog, of which I had never heard. This was his reply:

Michael,

I know Momir Radovic personally, and have played some chess with him. We’re about equally skilled (equally unskilled might be more exact) at chess. He’s a good guy.

Be well,
Scott

The Self-deprecation was to be expected from the man known at the House of Pain as “The Sheriff.” If Scott says Momir is “a good guy” that is good enough for me. Still, that thing about having Georgia’s #1 Chess Blog makes me ready to go over the board, in lieu of into the ring, but only because of my age! On August 11, 2019, the post, Yet Another Chess Cheating Scandal, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/08/11/yet-another-chess-cheating-scandal) went viral, garnering 5773 views that day. As of today there have been 7005 views of the post. Although not having as many “hits” on the day published, the post of April 26, 2020, Confirmation Garry Kasparov Cheated Judit Polgar, ()https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2020/04/26/confirmation-garry-kasparov-cheated-judit-polgar/ continues to be read with hardly a day going by without a view. It will soon top the aforementioned post in total views. I am calling you out, Mr. Georgia’s #1 Chess Blog(ger). How many hits does the Pawn that Roared receive?Momir Radovic is rated 1767 by the USCF. That would be his ‘regular’ rating. I am old enough to remember when there were only two ratings, one for Over The Board and the other for Correspondence Chess. Mr. Radovic is a class ‘B’ player who has previously crossed the line into class ‘A’. Back in the day he would be considered a ‘solid’ class ‘B’ player. With so many people, like former USCF President Allen Priest, who sported a 700 rating, having a triple digit rating these daze Momir is almost world class. Please do not take me wrong, I do not mean to demean Momir because ‘back in the day’ it was thought that anyone who made it to class ‘B’ had to be taken seriously as they had stopped dropping pieces and could play a serious game of Chess. I tied for first place in the 1974 Atlanta Chess Championship with a fellow from New York and was declared Champion while a class ‘B’ player. The class ‘B’ player W. Stanley Davis, upset GM John Federowicz

in the very first round of the 1980 US Open in Atlanta, Georgia. That said, it was still something to hear Momir call out Grandmasters in his article., which begins:

“There’s a massive, uncontrolled and unhealthy proliferation of chess opening experts of all kind and provenience. From ELO 1600 all the way up to the super GM circle (where, among others, is sitting a certain famous Twitter celebrity and acclaimed Najdorf expert).

The mushrooming of experts into all sorts of domains like, “visa consultants,” “immigration experts,” or “life coaches” sees their bold advertising services, making false promises and charging exorbitant amounts. And all of that to provide just a very basic service.”

I do not know about you but I want to know the name of that “…certain famous Twitter celebrity and acclaimed Najdorf expert.”

There follows: “In chess, this corrupt practice has been established around openings. It creates a grave disservice and has direct consequences for the average player in that it is slowing down/stopping them altogether along the growth path. Amateur players have thus become prisoners of the opening theory and their own conditioning that has been put on them and used by opening “experts.”

It gets better, or worse, depending on one’s perspective. I strongly urge you to read the remarkable article because, as Momir writes at one point, it is, “Simply astonishing, isn’t it?”

It certainly is! I was so astonished I read it again! What follows is one of the reasons I reread the piece. Chess book and video publishers are not going to like what Momir had to say, and I do not blame them. In another line of work the kind of ‘hit’ Momir received would be more along the line of something out of the Godfather,

https://xpertchesslessons.files.wordpress.com/2021/09/61b5c-iu.jpg

or Sopranos.

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic3.srcdn.com%2Fwordpress%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2019%2F03%2FThe-Sopranos-vs-The-Wire.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Better learn to duck and cover, Momir, my man…See what I mean:

“Chess books publishing and chess portals are following suit. They are tirelessly producing tons of copies of invaluable content on openings. On all channels, openings count for more than HALF of all chess material delivered to you. Here’s some facts and the number of books/courses/videos as of early August.”

Chessable (“No.1 site for chess improvement and science-based learning backed by the World chess champion Magnus Carlsen..”)

https://images.chesscomfiles.com/uploads/v1/blog/574935.97a319b7.668x375o.c3652ee94ae1@2x.jpeg
World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen reacting to the article: https://www.chess.com/blog/RoaringPawn/how-opening-experts-are-ruining-growth-of-developing-players

Openings 341
Endgames 38
Strategy 92
Tactics 227

New In Chess
Openings 412
Middlegame 68
Strategy 86
Tactics 68
Improvement 84
Attack and Defense 33
Endgames 50

Everyman Chess
Openings 277
Games Collections 69
Training books 135
Improvers 32 (5 on ops)

Quality Chess
Openings 93
Improvement 83

Gambit Publications
Openings 59
Endings 14
Puzzles and Studies 14
Training, Strategy and Improvement 37
Beginners and Intermediate 19
Tactics 19
Games Collections and General 9

He does not stop there. Momir reloads time and again. Take this for example: “The situation isn’t much better in blogging, either. The blogging space is, sadly, also overcrowded with opening enlightenments.

So it seems that, in the Brave New World of Chess, average players have basically been brainwashed

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.scdn.co%2Fimage%2F66585bf8775feb77d7f4fb9824fe1175274da139&f=1&nofb=1

into being one-dimensional consumerists of openings with no regard or interest in seeing chess for themselves. Or in thinking for themselves.

The chess world is filled with endless (mostly opening) distractions that keep us perpetually numb to the world of ideas.”

Wait a minute…I am a blogger and focus on the opening! One of his salvos has hit home and is now the Armchair Wounded Warrior!

The Pawn that Roared ends with this mighty blast:

ART OF FLIMFLAM. CONTINUED

“An artificially created market that demands openings as a “quick and easy” fix has a devastating effect on the developing player’s road to growth, that’s for sure. The primary victim is the player’s staying-underdeveloped, never-improving thought process.

But what all of this is telling us about its creators, opening “experts” themselves?

Do they really think they are helping us with their trifle manuals? (Do you?)

Are they doing all this to show their creativity and chess understanding, or maybe for a quick and easy profit instead?

Or perhaps the opening experts simply have nothing better to offer us? They may not be capable, without their trustworthy engines, to write about any subtler chess topics at all?”

Writing about openings is comparatively easy, because you are setting out specific lines you check with an engine. Writing about middlegames and endings is hard, because you have to communicate concepts. – Cuddles T

https://www.chess.com/blog/RoaringPawn/how-opening-experts-are-ruining-growth-of-developing-players

After reading the above my first thought was, “Who the hell is Cuddles T?”

I am going to disagree with the Killer ‘B’ but not now, because it is late and I am tired. One of the reasons is I stopped punchin’ & pokin’ to watch some of the moves being played at the Charlotte Labor Day 2021 tournament and became transfixed with one game in particular and stopped writing to concentrate on the game, but more on that tomorrow in part 2 of this post. Until then, once again I urge you to take time to read one of the most remarkable Chess articles I have read in some time, and come on back tomorrow to read part two of The Pawn Who Roared.

Kasparov Goes Down Like Rotgut!

Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov at 58 years of age continues to make news at the Chess board. Whether it being the first World Chess Champion to lose a match to a computer program, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/garry-kasparov-tangled-up-in-deep-blue/) or cheating against the strongest female Chess player of all time, Judit Polgar, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2020/04/26/confirmation-garry-kasparov-cheated-judit-polgar/)

Kasparov refuses to go gently into that good night…

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov | Photo: Lennart Ootes

lost in without getting out of the opening playing black against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

https://xpertchesslessons.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/c1197-mamedyarovface.jpg

A phone call from an excited Ironman, who happened to be between online lessons, and was watching some of the “action,” gave notice that something big was happening in the world of Chess. I care nothing for blitz Chess, or anything other than what has come to be called “classical” Chess, because playing good Chess requires thought, and if you do not have time to cogitate what is the point? Nevertheless, when a former World Chess Champ losses like a beginner it makes news all around the world. I decided to wait until after having my morning cuppa coffee before checking the usual suspects, TWIC, Chessbase, Chess24, and Chessdom. Sometimes I surf on over to Chess.com and today was one of those days, which was a good thing because the first video found during a search at duckduckgo.com proclaimed erroneously that Kasparov had lost in 10 moves:

This is false. As ignominious as it sounds, Garry Kasparov actually lost after playing only 6 moves:

[Event “GCT Blitz Croatia 2021”]
[Site “Zagreb CRO”]
[Date “2021.07.10”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Mamedyarov,S”]
[Black “Kasparov,G”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteElo “2782”]
[BlackElo “2812”]
[EventDate “2021.07.05”]
[ECO “D20”]

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 e5 4. Nf3 exd4 5. Bxc4 Nf6 6. Qb3 Qe7 7. O-O 1-0

This was found at The Week In Chesswebsite: https://theweekinchess.com/live

Below you can find all the gory details, which was located at Chess.com, including a very short loss by former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand

Still got it — Vishy Anand | Photo: Lennart Ootes

to a player who now resides in the Great State of Georgia, GM Alonso Zapata,

https://georgiachessnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CHESS-Zapata-State-Champion-2014-192x200.jpg
Play a Grandmaster at the Atlanta Chess Club | Georgia …
georgiachessnews.com

explained by the Australian GM Max Illingworth:

Illingworth Chess

Garry Kasparov was born in 1963. He was eligible to play in the World Senior Championship eight years ago. I have often wondered why a player such as Kasparov, or Anatoly Karpov, has not deigned to participate in a Senior event for the good of Chess. Maybe it is time Garry consider playing in a Senior event.

In the 1983 Candidates Finals a young Garry Kasparov faced former World Chess Champion Vassily Smyslov for the right to contest a World Championship match with the then World Champ Anatoly Karpov. The fact that Smyslov made it to the final was almost beyond belief. The Chess world was astounded that someone so old could play well enough to face the young whipper-snapper, Kasparov. Granted, Smyslov was given no chance of defeating Kasparov by the pundits, but just getting to the finals was a victory of sorts. The older I have become the more amazing it seems…

Teaching Chess

Imagine yourself sitting behind the white pieces as your student begins showing a recently played game for review. He calls out, “e4” and you move the pawn in front of the King two squares. He then moves the pawn in front of his King one square, known as the French defense. You then move the pawn in front of your Queen two squares to the d4 square as he nods before doing the same with his d-pawn. You wait, because there are several alternatives here, until he says, “Nd2.” This makes it the Tarrasch variation in plain English, called that because Sigbert preferred it.

In ECO language it is the C03 French, Tarrasch variation. You make the move on the board and your student moves the pawn in front of the King’s Rook, one square.

What happens next depends entirely on the student, and past experience. For example, say the person who just pushed his Rook pawn to h6 was someone you have known for decades, with the moniker Mulfish. You may ask, “What the hell kinda move is that?!”

Or maybe it’s the recalcitrant middle school kid from Garry Kasparov’s hometown who has to be home schooled after pulling the fire alarm in school, who is only sitting at the board because he is being home schooled and must be here, like it or not. You look at his glazed eyes and say, “Figures,” as he takes another breath while disinterestedly continuing to stare out the window.

But if your student is a young child, boy or girl, you must be more circumspect, and say something as sweetly as possible under the circumstances, like, “Why did you play that move?” Tears may still well up in their little eyes even though you have been as sweet as pie, and they may even begin to cry…If the student is a young boy you can channel your former football coach and shout, “Suck it up, buttercup!” But if it is a girl you know there is absolutely nothing you can say, so you remain silent while wondering how the path of life led you to where you are at this moment in time…

Now if the student happens to be an adult, say about thirty years of age, give or take, and an attorney at a prominent law firm, it would be possible to inquire as to why he made that particular move. And if he said, “To prevent his Bishop from coming to g5.” You could FLARE UP and scream, “But the Knight that just moved to d2 is blocking the Bishop from moving, you IDIOT!” But then you realize that is not possible because the reason the lawyer is sitting across from you instead of another teacher is because a former coach FLARED UP on the poor guy and asked you to give this lesson, and you could use the money, if for nothing else, some alcoholic beverage(s) after the lesson to ease the pain of teaching…Then you reflect on a former adult student who was attending college when bitten by the Chess bug, as was yours truly, who, when seeing him again a decade later and asking why he had stopped playing Chess, answered bitterly, “I lost my wife; I lost my life; all to become a class ‘B’ player!” And you wished you had not asked the question…Then you think about his wife, one of the loveliest women your eyes have ever seen, who became a stewardess…and you know this because she told you when you ran into her a few years later. In addition, after asking about your former student, she told you about the divorce, while also sweetly saying, “I’m not seeing anyone,” and you remember thinking, “THANK YOU, GOD!” even though you’re agnostic…
Then the current student adds, “World Champion Magnus Carlsen plays the move,” which immediately brings you back to reality and you say, “Well now, Bunky, at least you had a reason.”

What? You thought teaching Chess was easy?

What prompted this was a recent game from round five of the First Saturday June IM 2021, between Koppany Geher (2291) and Adam Szeberenyi (2373).

  1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 h6 (The CBDB shows this having been played in 495 games. 365Chess shows 353 games. The CBDB shows these moves having been played more often: 3…c5 (12883); Nf6 (11743); dxe4; (3099) Be7; (4461) Nc6; (2719) a6 (1998). 356Chess even shows 3…b6 having been played more frequently than 3…h6. There is a reason.) 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 (SF 040021 at depth 35 plays this, but SF 13 @depth 40 plays 5 Bd3) 5…Nfd7 6. c4 (SF 13 @D54 plays 6 Bd3, but SF 051020 @D56 would play 6 Be2, which has only been attempted in 3 games. SF 13 @D48 shows 6 c3, which has been played in 11 games) 6…c5 (Komodo plays this move but SF prefers 6…dxc4) 7. Bd3 (SF plays 7 cxd5) 7…dxc4 (Komodo would play 7…Nc6, a TN) 8. Nxc4 cxd4 (Although one Komodo program plays the game move, another, and Stockfish, would play 8…Nc6) 9. O-O Nc6 10. Be4 (SF & Houdini play 10 Bf4) 10…Nc5 SF & Komodo both play 10…Nb6) 11. Bxc6+ bxc6 12. Qxd4 Qxd4 13. Nxd4 Ba6 14. b3 Rc8 15. Rd1 Bxc4 16. bxc4 Nd7 17. Bf4 g5 18. Bg3 Bg7 19. Re1 O-O 20. h3 Rfd8 21. Nb3 Nf8 22. Rad1 Ng6 23. Rd6 Bf8 24. Rd4 Rxd4 25. Nxd4 Bg7 26. Kf1 a6 27. Re4 Ne7 28. Bh2 Rb8 29. Nb3 Rb4 30. Nc5 a5 31. a3 Rb1+ 32. Re1 Rb2 33. Re2 Rb1+ 34. Re1 Rb2 35. Re2 Rb8 36. Re3 Ng6 37. Nd7 Rb1+ 38. Ke2 Rc1 39. c5 h5 40. g4 h4 41. Kf3 Nf8 42. Nf6+ Bxf6 43. exf6 Nd7 44. Bd6 Nxf6 45. Rb3 Nd7 46. Rb7 Nxc5 47. Ra7 Rc3+ 48. Ke2 f6 49. Be7 Ne4 50. f3 Ng3+ 51. Kf2 Rc2+ 52. Kg1 Kf7 53. Bd6+ Kg6 54. Rxa5 Ne2+ 55. Kf1 Nd4 56. Rc5 Rd2 57. f4 gxf4 58. Bxf4 Rd3 59. Bc1 Nb3 0-1
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-first-saturday-june-im/05-Geher_Koppany-Szeberenyi_Adam

Melkumyan, Hrant (2633) vs Carlsen, Magnus (2840)
Event: World Blitz 2016
Site: Doha QAT Date: 12/29/2016
Round: 6.1
ECO: C03 French, Tarrasch

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nd2 h6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.O-O cxd4 8.cxd4 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Be7 10.Re1 O-O 11.Be3 Nd5 12.a3 b6 13.Rc1 Bb7 14.Bb1 Rc8 15.Qd3 f5 16.Nc3 Bf6 17.Ba2 Nce7 18.Bd2 Qd7 19.Ne5 Bxe5 20.Rxe5 Rf6 21.Rce1 Ng6 22.Nxd5 Bxd5 23.Bxd5 Nxe5 24.dxe5 Rf7 25.Bc4 Rxc4 26.Qxc4 Qxd2 27.Rf1 Re7 28.b4 Kf7 29.g3 Rd7 30.Rc1 Qb2 31.Qc6 Re7 32.Qc3 Qe2 33.Re1 Qb5 34.Rd1 Qe2 35.Re1 Qa2 36.Rd1 Qe2 37.Re1 Qh5 38.Qc6 Qg4 39.Kg2 Qd4 40.Re3 Rd7 41.h4 Ke7 42.Qf3 Rc7 43.Qh5 Qd5+ 44.Qf3 Qd4 45.Qa8 Kf7 46.Qf3 Rc2 47.Qh5+ Kf8 48.Qf3 Kg8 49.Re2 Rc3 50.Re3 Rxe3 51.Qxe3 Qxe3 52.fxe3 Kf7 53.Kf3 Kg6 54.e4 fxe4+ 55.Kxe4 Kh5 56.Kf3 b5 57.Kf4 g6 58.Kf3 g5 59.hxg5 hxg5 60.Kf2 Kg4 61.Kg2 Kf5 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4029792

Adams, Michael (2734) vs Short, Nigel D (2698)
Event: 3rd London Chess Classic
Site: London ENG Date: 12/06/2011
Round: 4
ECO: C03 French, Tarrasch

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 h6 4.Bd3 c5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.Ngf3 Nc6 7.O-O Nge7 8.Qe2 O-O 9.Nb3 Bb6 10.c3 dxe4 11.Qxe4 Ng6 12.Bc4 Kh8 13.Qc2 Nce5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Be2 Qh4 16.g3 Qh3 17.Be3 Bxe3 18.fxe3 Ng4 19.Bxg4 Qxg4 20.Rad1 f6 21.Nd4 e5 22.Nf5 Be6 23.e4 Rfd8 24.Ne3 Qg6 25.Kg2 b5 26.b3 a5 27.c4 bxc4 28.bxc4 Qh5 29.h4 Bd7 30.Rf2 Bc6 31.Nd5 Rab8 32.Qe2 Qg6 33.Qf3 Rd7 34.Kh2 Rdb7 35.Rdd2 a4 36.Qe3 Bd7 37.Qf3 Bg4 38.Qe3 Be6 39.Qf3 Rb1 40.Ne3 Rc1 41.Rd6 Qf7 42.Rfd2 Rbb1 43.g4 Kh7 44.h5 Rc3 45.Kg2 Rxe3 46.Qxe3 Bxg4 47.Rb6 Ra1 48.Qc3 Re1 49.Rf2 Rxe4 50.c5 Bxh5 51.Rb4 Bg6 52.Kh2 Qe6 53.Rg2 Bf5 54.Rb7 Bg4 55.Rf2 f5 56.Rb4 Rxb4 57.Qxb4 e4 58.Qd4 e3 59.Rf1 Qxa2+ 60.Kg3 Qe2 61.Qf4 Qd2 62.Qe5 e2 63.Rg1 h5 64.c6 f4+ 65.Kh4 Qd8+ 66.Qg5 Qxg5+ 67.Kxg5 f3 68.c7 f2 69.Rxg4 f1=Q 70.c8=Q Qf6+ 71.Kxh5 Qh6# 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=3792608

Confirmation Garry Kasparov Cheated Judit Polgar

The most often and widely read post on this blog, Garry Kasparov Cheated Judit Polgar

https://www.juditpolgar.com/static/images/polgarJudit.png

https://www.juditpolgar.com/

(https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/garry-kasparov-cheated-judit-polgar/) was published December 11, 2017. The post, Garry Kasparov Cheated Judit Polgar, has been read by people in almost every country on the planet. Although other posts written many years prior to 2017 have garnered more total viewers, no post published after December 11, 2017 has been read by more often by people in more different countries since being published. It is usually among the top posts read most days, and weeks, such as this week, when it was the most read post on this blog. The post has obviously resonated with readers the all over the world.

When the new issue of NIC arrives

https://www.newinchess.com/media/catalog/product/cache/3376c6b4eaa9c30249dbded88849ca2a/n/e/newinchess_2020_2_met_randje_x500_2.jpg

this writer, and reader, usually flips through the magazine to get an overview before landing at the ‘Just Checking’ interview, which is read first. That did not happen with the current issue because a picture of Judit Polgar caught my attention and was read before going any further.

Hey Judit

“We noted with interest the release of a new documentary on Judit Polgar,  Judit contra today (Los Otros) – ‘Judit against all (The Others)‘ – produced by Movistar+, Spain’s leading online digital platform. It’s part of a series on influential game-changers in sports.

The 44-minute documentary has interviews (many in English) and old film footage from throughout her career – the highlight being the most controversial, Polgar’s first meeting with Garry Kasparov at Linares 1994. Indeed, the ‘did-he-or-didn’t-he’ release the knight incident. Now, for the first time in over 25 years, the film footage is finally seen in public.

Polger tells how her inexperience clouded her judgment about what she should have done. There was video evidence available, but that was ‘mysteriously’ spirited out of the Hotel Anibal to Madrid on the orders of the legendary godfather of the tournament, Luis Rentero.

Still, this isn’t the first time the evidence is shown, as can be read in Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam’s book Linares! Linares!.

Linares! Linares!: A Journey into the Heart of Chess

On page 79, he writes that the video in fact returned a few days later to the Hotel Anibal and was shown in a private room to several journalists and others, including the chief arbiter, Carlos Falcon. And with the benefit of an early version of VAR, they all witnessed that the piece was indeed briefly released; Falcon even writing an official letter stating this to be the case, but from his vantage point from where he was at the time, he couldn’t see this due to Kasparov’s hand shielding the piece.”

Pg 9, New In Chess, 2020 #2

To some the film was obviously as important as the infamous Zapuder film of the JFK assassination, which was kept locked away from the public for many years.

Garry Kasparov was obviously a great Chess player. Unfortunately, the only thing for which he will be remembered by history is that he was the human world champion who lost to a computer program,

https://media.wired.com/photos/5e4c10d419656c0009fbe489/master/w_2560%2Cc_limit/Biz-kasparov-511682700.jpg

“I always say I was the first knowledge worker whose job was threatened by a machine,” says Garry Kasparov of his loss to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997.Photograph: Stan Honda/Getty Images (https://www.wired.com/story/defeated-chess-champ-garry-kasparov-made-peace-ai/)

and that he cheated a seventeen year old girl during a game of Chess.

Whatever happened to the Polgar-Kasparov footage?
https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=6277

Judit Polgar vs Garry Kasparov
“The Late Knight Show” (game of the day Aug-25-2015)
Dos Hermanas (1996), Dos Hermanas ESP, rd 7, May-29
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Amsterdam Variation (B93) · 0-1
https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1070866

FIDE Out Of Step With Rest Of World

The 2020 Candidates tournament began today in total disregard for what is happening in the world. This screams

how out of touch is the leadership of FIDE.

This can be seen at the FIDE website:

FIDE as the locomotive of the international chess
— Аркадий Дворкович, Президент Международной шахматной федерации

(Arkady Dvorkovich, President of the International Chess Federation)
https://en.candidates-2020.com/fide

FIDE is currently a runaway train.

Arkady Dvorkovich,

FIDE President, is only a titular figurehead. The real power behind FIDE, and therefore, International Chess, is Vladimir Putin, leader of the Russian ship of state. No decision by anyone in Russia is made without the approval of Vlad the Impaler. This is made clear in the excellent book, Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth by Rachel Maddow.

As former MSNBC host Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews

so eloquently put it, “Russia is a filling station with nukes.” Putin cannot stand being only a small “regional power,” as former POTUS Barack Obama

https://thehill.com/sites/default/files/styles/thumb_small_article/public/blogs/obama2_0.jpg?itok=5Lhux56-

so eloquently stated. Vlad longs to become the Impaler by resurrecting the old Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin has wreaked havoc in the USA by illegally assisting the whacko, Donald John Trump, in subverting the election process in order to become POTUS. Putin has had a hand in Brexit. Vlad has impaled the rest of the world by fomenting dissension all over the globe. Where ever Putin puts his hands there is death.

It is time for the USCF to part ways with the Putin led FIDE. I call on the movers and shakers at USCF to immediately withdraw from FIDE. The United states of America, and the rest of the world, will be better for it. This is something those in power at USCF should have done a long time ago, but, frankly, there has been no one in a leadership position with the cojones to pull US out of Putin’s FIDE. It is long past time for those in charge of the USCF to “grow a pair.”

What follows is taken from Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett’s excellent website:

Vladimir Kramnik, former World Champion, has saved the reputation of the chess community proving that not all elite chess players are motherless whores only interested in easy money and online celebrity status.

Kramnik was supposed to be part of the Chess24 commentary team catering to the online chess community’s interest in the Candidates Tournament that started today.

Demonstrating utter lack of solidarity with the world community’s struggle against the lethal coronavirus that has already taken thousands of lives, Dvorkovich and some 2000 other brave (?) souls showed up for the opening ceremony last night! None of the participants appeared, apparently afraid of catching the damn virus!

Below is former World Champion Garry Kasparov’s take on things…

 

Kramnik distances himself from Dvorkovich/Covid-19

 

 

 

 

Magnus ‘DrDrunkenstein’ Carlsen

DrDrunkenstein’s Reign of Terror

Magnus Carlsen, the best chess player alive, has been slipping into online speed tournaments behind pseudonyms to crack jokes, let loose, and destroy the competition.

By Joe Holmes
Feb 21, 20204:11 PM

Magnus Carlsen smirks and holds his hand up to his face. Behind him are screenshots of his face from livestreams.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Agon Limited and Magnus Carlsen/YouTube.

It was the final game of the 2018 World Chess Championship, and reigning champ Magnus Carlsen was about to piss off almost every commentator in the chess world. In a clearly favorable position, with a 30-minute time advantage over opponent Fabiano Caruana, Carlsen offered his hand for the 12th straight draw of the 12-game series. Neither side had won a single game—a first in the history of the world championship.

Commentators saw the move as heretical to the spirit of competition, “cowardly” even. Former champ Garry Kasparov suggested Carlsen was losing his nerve. The crown would have to be determined in tiebreaks: rapid games, more similar in time controls to a casual match in the park than the hours-long marathons that preceded them. Each side would get 25 minutes to make all his moves, with a 10 second bonus added each time he punched his clock.

It was Carlsen’s bread and butter. He was the World Blitz Chess champion as well and bet on his quick intuition to close the match out decisively. He bet right—bulldozing Caruana with three consecutive wins to retain the world title. When asked about his critics at the press conference, a grinning Carlsen said, “They are entitled to their stupid opinions.”

Though some fans were still irked that he played it safe in the classical games, a new narrative started emerging: Carlsen, the supremely gifted natural, brought Caruana out of the memorized computer analysis that defines so much of the contemporary circuit. Far from losing his nerve, Carlsen was ushering the match into a rawer, more competitive form. He put the clock on Caruana, and Caruana couldn’t keep up.

In the commentary on the tiebreaks from popular YouTube channel ChessNetwork, the most liked post under the channel’s game analysis echoed many chess fans’ sense of celebration. It read, “This World Chess Championship is a tale of two people. For two weeks, we saw [Carlsen]. Today, we saw Dr. Drunkenstein.” The comment was liked almost 600 times.

“DrDrunkenstein” is one of many aliases Magnus Carlsen has played under during the past two years, when he went on a killing spree across the speed chess tournaments of the internet. Since winter 2017, Carlsen has taken to livestreaming his games on a variety of platforms, which has provided a surprisingly entertaining window into the mind of an all-time great.

The story continues…

https://slate.com/culture/2020/02/magnus-carlsen-speed-chess-drdrunkenstein-pseudonyms-twitch-youtube.html

EXAMINE ALL CHECKS!

Anyone worth his salt teaching Chess will eventually get around to imparting the knowledge that a Chess player should examine all checks during analysis of any position. All good players do this without thinking about it, but new players need to have it reinforced that they should not only examine all possible checks to the opponent’s king but also to their own king. After this a good teacher will tell his student to examine all possible “checks”, or threats, to the Queen. For young players new to the game there is so much to consider that occasionally a student will overlook a check to the king or threat to the queen. When a world class player overlooks or does not take into consideration a possible check to the king it will be said that the player under discussion is “getting old” or “losing his powers,” or some such…

In the sixth round of the 2020 Gibraltar Masters  the young, born in 2005, making him a Zero, and up and coming  GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa,

from India, faced GM Veselin Topalov,

who some consider a former World Chess Champion. I am not one of them because Topalov won the FIDE World Championship, which was a match between second rate players. This is what is written about Topalov at Wikipedia:

“Topalov became FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. He lost his title in the World Chess Championship 2006 against Vladimir Kramnik.

He challenged Viswanathan Anand

at the World Chess Championship 2010, losing 6½–5½.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veselin_Topalov)

Wiki does not even mention the name of the player Topalov bested  to become FIDE WC, and, frankly, I have long since forgotten the name of the loser of the FIDE match. I can tell you the name of the opponents who played in each of the real world championship matches. I seem to recall Jan Timman losing one so-called “world championship” match, (I believe his opponent was Anatoly Karpov) but if my life depended on it I could not give you the name of Topalov’s opponent in the second rate FIDE WC match. Topalov was born in 1975, making him a member of Generation X.

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa vs Veselin Topalov

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 06

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be3 b6 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O cxd4 11. Nxd4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Nb8 13. Bf2 Ba6 14. Bxa6 Nxa6

15. f5? (15 Qe2 looks strong, and not just because the Queen is going to the e2 square)

15…exf5? (The kid shows his age. The Stockfish program at ChessBomb gives 15… Nb4 16. Rad1 Rc8 17. Be3 and only now exf5)

16. Nxd5 Nb4 17. c4 Rc8 18. a3 Nc6 19. Rfe1 Bc5 20. b4 Bxf2+ 21. Qxf2 Qd7 22. Qh4

22…Qd8? (Over at the Bomb this move is shown as a BRIGHT RED move, which is as bad as it gets, color wise. It is difficult to fathom a former world number one making a move this bad, no matter how old. Certainly, most, if not all, players would have analyzed the possible check on f6 before retreating the queen. Keep in mind that, “In 1984, when he was 63 and most of his contemporaries, like Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein,

had long ceased to be important players on the world stage, Mr. Smyslov

made it to the final candidates match to determine a challenger for Anatoly Karpov,

who was world champion at the time. He lost that match to Garry Kasparov,

then a prodigy in his early 20s; before the final, however, he dispatched two opponents who were both 30 years his junior.” https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/crosswords/chess/28smyslov.html23. Nf6+ gxf6 24. Rad1 Nxe5 25. Rxd8 Rfxd8 26. Qxf6 Ng6 27. h4 h5 28. Rf1 f4 29. g4 Rd3 30. gxh5 Rg3+ 31. Kf2 Nxh4 32. Qxh4 Rxc4 33. Re1 1-0

(https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2020-gibraltar-masters/06-Praggnanandhaa_R-Topalov_Veselin)

 

EXAMINE ALL CHECKS TO THE QUEEN!

IM Pedro Antonio Gines Esteo (2284) vs GM Natalia Zhukova  (2338)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 05

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nd7 3. Bg2 e5 4. d3 Ngf6 5. O-O c6 6. c4 Bd6 7. a3 O-O 8. b4 Re8 9. Bb2 a5 10. c5 Bf8 11. Nbd2 b6 12. d4 exd4 13. Nxd4 bxc5 14. Nxc6 Qb6 15. Nxa5 Rxa5 16. Bxf6 cxb4 17. axb4 Bxb4 18. Rxa5 Qxa5 19. Nb3 Qb5 20. Ba1 Qxe2 21. Qxd5 Qe6 22. Qd4 Bf8 23. Bd5 Qg6 24. Qa4 Rd8

25. Rd1 (This is known as “Letting go of the rope.” This is a terrible move under any circumstances. Before making a move most players would ask themselves the question, “How will my opponent reply?” Seeing the queen can be attacked by the knight would be the first thing any player would spot. Every player simply MUST be able to see the knight moving to b6 will not only attack the queen but also fork the bishop. 25 Qa5, attacking the undefended rook looks good, as does the simple 25 Bg2. With the move played in the game the player of the white pieces fell into the abyss)) 25…Nb6 26. Qa5 Rxd5 27. Rxd5 Qb1+ 28. Kg2 Nxd5 29. Qxd5 Be6 30. Qd8 Qxb3 31. Bd4 Bd5+ 32. Kh3 Qf3 33. Bc5 Be6+ 0-1

(https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2020-gibraltar-masters/05-Gines_Esteo_Pedro_Antonio-Zhukova_Natalia)

 

A Track Called Jack
Armand Van Helden

Check the sound
Check it down
Check it through the underground

Check the place
Check the space
Check the track all in your face

Check the spot
Check it hot
Check with everything you got

Check the roof
Check the proof
Checks the ones that makes you move

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check the sound
Check it down
Check it through the underground

Check the place
Check the space
Check the track all in your face

Check the spot
Check it hot
Check with everything you got

Check the roof
Check the proof
Checks the one that makes you move

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check the sound
Check it down
Check it through the underground

Check the place
Check the space
Check the track all in your face

Check the spot
Check it hot
Check with everything you got

Check the roof
Check the proof
Checks the one that makes you move
https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/10507050/Armand+Van+Helden/A+Track+Called+Jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All The Wrong Moves Part Seven: The Secret Of Chess

This paragraph is the first of chapter 7: The Secret Of Chess.

I first stumbled upon the lectures of my future teacher and spiritual guardian,

Ben Finegold,

during a despairing google for chess tips in Bangkok. He was different from all the other chess lecturers I’d seen before. Most lecturing grandmasters, even the most charming ones, approach the game with a hushed reverence, as if delivering news on a pediatric oncology ward, or trying to placate an errant tiger. Finegold is the complete opposite. He’s charismatic, frank, and viciously funny, matching a respect for the game’s elegance with flagrant mockery of everything else. When Finegold’s students raise their hands, he often points a meaty had at them and says, “You, with the wrong answer,” or “You, with some crazy comment.” Upon hearing one of their replies, he’ll often respond, “Ugh, that was painful,” or “Hey, you’re the best player in your chair.” He’s given to claiming that the Panov-Botvinnik Atack was named after “Mr. Attack.” His lectures are littered with Tarantino references, imitations of other lecturers from hiss chess club, and fatuous advice like “never move pawns.”

Finegold

has a unique place in the chess world. He has ardent fans, because of his aforementioned characteristics, and many detractors, also because of his aforementioned characteristics. Moreover, he lives on an odd plateau of chess skill – that of the low-level grandmaster.

Ouch.

It seems like just yesterday Ben was being proclaimed “The World’s Strongest IM,” while gracing the cover of Chess Life (now Lifeless) magazine. Garner that coveted GM title and nobody knows your name…

The fact that this is a coherent concept is another illustration of the vast distance between the amateur and the professional player. To any player like me, any grandmaster lives in an unreachable and starry grove of intellectual superiority. Someone like Finegold can calculate in drunken sleep better than I can while achieving satori on Adderall. But, to most grandmasters, Finegold isn’t that notable, except for his personality.

Euwe, that hurts!

There are essentially two ways you could regard Finegold, given his position in the chess ecosystem. You could see him as a pitiable example of the game’s mercilessness, by focusing on the fact that Finegold never made it to the upper ranks. On the other hand, you could see him as someone who hurled himself directly into the howling void of chess and came out intact, with a fan following, two kids, a little house in Georgia,

and the ability to eke out a modest living by teaching his favorite game to captivated pupils –

occasionally including desperate adults who come all the way from Canada to absorb his teachings.

I arrived in St. Louis a few days before my first meeting with Finegold, to have a chance to explore the city. And during this pre-Finegold interval, I had a random meeting with a stranger that would prove to be an omen of the month ahead. She was a woman walking alone downtown, screaming.

“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Holy shit,” she screamed.
“Um,” I said.
“Fuck all these pussy-ass people,” she screamed.
“I am so tired of this life,” she screamed.
“Damn it,” she screamed.
She walked away. And, unfortunately, I came to agree with her about the city of St. Louis.

This is probably my fault. I am a great believer in the idea that a failure to love is often the fault of the lover. If I were more patient and more curious and more forgiving, I probably could’ve found more to appreciate. I’m told that St. Louis contains many beautiful sun-strewn lanes and cheerful people, and fun bars where tender words are exchanged over locally made beers of the highest quality. But that is not what I found. What I found was a humid, boring, and flat place, dappled with some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in North America. According to the website of the St. Louis Police, you shouldn’t “wear clothing or shoes that restrict your movement” in their fair metropolis, so you can run away from assailants if you need to.
The local food, also, is hilarious. There’s a special kind of pizza they make there, which is a prank played by Satan. It’s a cracker, topped with ketchup, finished with a goopy kind of processed cheese that you’ve never had before, because they invented a new kind of cheese for this pizza. It’s edible caulking that clings to the back of your throat, reminding you that you live in an unjust world.

Based on my experiences, I cannot recommend St. Louis. Unless, that is, you’re interested in studying chess. Weirdly, St. Louis is the home of the world’s best chess school. This is the greatest love of billionaire Rex Sinquefield,


https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36257742

a longtime St. Louis resident. Although he was never a skilled player, he was a skilled investor, to say the least, and he arrived at retirement age with enough money that he could quite casually open an air-conditioned temple devoted to his favorite game, and bankroll grandmaster lectures as well as exclusive tournaments with big prizes for the strongest players in the world. The club is housed in a pristine two-story commercial property, and might be mistaken for a posh hernia clinic or a yoga studio if not for the chess pieces depicted on the frontispiece’s stained glass windows.

We have now arrived at what I consider to be the best part of the book, that being the meeting of the teacher and the pupil.

“Hey, Finegold,” I said.
“Sup,” he said.
“I’m Sasha,

that Canadian guy.”
“Who?”
“That guy who emailed you.”
“I know who you are.”
“Yeah, so here I am.”

You ever notice that no matter where you go, there you are?

“How many lessons are you looking for?”
“I was thinking like ten hours.”
“You could do more – the more you pay, the more you learn.”

Wasn’t that the motto of Trump University?

As I considered this, a class of kids, whom he had just taught, flooded out of the classroom and started playing blitz in the lobby, which is to say that they started knocking pieces off tables, knocking clocks off tables, making illegal moves, and screaming at each other. Finegold presided for a few minutes until the parents showed up, delighting the kids with a barrage of verbal abuse, and then returned to me with a searching look on his face.
“Jesus, I want to kill myself,” he said, very quietly.
“Wait till you see my games,” I said.
“You’re not here to impress me, you’re here to learn.”
“But I’d like to impress you.”
“Well, you won’t.”

And he was right. He was right about everything. Sooner or later, everything he told me came true.

Just Because Someone Goes Crazy, It Doesn’t Mean You Also Have to Go Crazy

“If your wife

cheats on you, that’s bad,” Finegold said. “She shouldn’t have done that.

But if you then kill her, kill yourself, and the mailman, that’s not really constructive. You shouldn’t escalate a situation just because someone else did.”

“How does this apply to chess?” I said.

“Well, you consider yourself a creative guy, which is kind of a problem. So, from move two, you’re going out of you mind, trying to invent a work of genius. Which means that when your opponents play crazy, you start playing even crazier. Don’t do that. Just don’t be crazy at all. When they play weird, just play normal good moves. Other grandmasters will tell you that you have to punish your opponents for all of their mistakes. That’s one point of view. My point of view is that you have to win chess games.”

The wisdom of this became clear after the lesson, when we played some blitz at one of the tables

set up on the sidewalk outside the club.

The muggy air was licking my face. Cute couples walked by on their way to Whole Foods, unaware that they were passing a spectacle of truly historic importance: my first game against a grandmaster. It was also the first time I’d ever played against someone drinking two brands of seltzer at once. Finegold played the Slav Defense, an extremely solid opening.

“I hate playing against the Slav,” I said.
“The truth hurts,” he said.
“Is this a good move?”
“It’s a move.”
“But is it good?”
“Probably not. Whose turn is it?”

He moved his queen deep into my territory. For the first ten moves, I thought I might have a microscopic chance of victory, because I didn’t lose all of my pieces. But, every other turn, I made a slight mistake that I didn’t know I was making, and in the face of my craziness, he responded not with theatrics but with a quiet malice. As sweat dripped down my chest, I realized that a crowd was gathering – all the kids in the neighborhood wanted to see Finegold crush me. I tried to put up a good fight so I could entertain these little boys and girls, who were soon to be embittered adults, maybe losing at chess themselves. But Finegold didn’t give me a good fight – he gave me a slow, vicious grind, allowing me only to twist lamely while he attained total control. I was a jittery rabbit, running from a surefooted cheetah, in a maze whose pathways slowly curled in on each other and contracted, until we were confined together, predator and prey, in a tiny cell. Under the pressure, I cracked, and made a horrible blunder.
“You’ll have to forgive him for that,” Finegold said to the audience. “He’s tired, because he just moved here. From Crazytown.”

Finegold, who was always coming and going, and who noticed everything, observed that I was having a lot of fun, and that it was translating into my play as a whole. He disapproved.

“Take a look at those guys over there,” he said, during a lesson, pointing to an array of portraits of great players that hung on the far wall.

“What am I supposed to be seeing?” I said.

“Tell me who looks like he’s never had fun in his life.”

“Um, Kasparov.”

Garry Kasparov was the top-ranked player in the world for nineteen years, except for a three-month-long slump. And he was famous for his boundless, masochistic work ethic. “Chess is mental torture,” he said.

“Yeah, Kasparov never had any fun. Now, tell me who looks like he’s furious all the time.”

“Bobby Fischer.”

Remembering Bobby Fisher – I

“Yeah, Fischer. That guy didn’t have a lot of fun.”

What he was saying was true. Slow tournament chess, played well, is like violent meditation. The mind is wrenched by an evolving series of parenthetical thoughts, during which the limits of human cognition are directly assaulted.

“Being a winner starts when you realize what a loser you are.”

At my next lesson, I explained my emotional turmoil to Finegold. He was having none of it. “Your emotions are irrelevant,” he said. “You can’t stop protecting your pawns because you’re sad. Chess isn’t one of those crazy stories that you sell to a magazine. You’re not a hero; your opponent isn’t the villain.”

“It’s hard for me not to think like that. It’s kind of who I am,” I said.

“Well, then, don’t be yourself.”

“I can tell you everything I know,” he said, “but absorbing it can take years. Chess is hard. Like, let’s take a simple part of being a grandmaster. To be a grandmaster, you have to spend a lot of time thinking about what your opponents want to do, rather than just focusing on your own plans. Saying that to you is easy, but it’s hard to do, because just thinking about yourself is kind of the human instinct. Being good at chess is pretty counterintuitive. A lot of the time, you’re fighting your basic tendencies.”

“That sounds hard.”

“It’s actually easy. It’s just impossible.”

I was twenty-nine years old. I walked back towards the metro station, through the deserted streets beyond, between beautiful art deco skyscrapers, and I thought about what Finegold had said at the end of our first lesson. After we’d gone through a few of my games, he had nonchalantly asked me whether I’d like to know the secret of chess.

“Um, sure,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll tell you. But you’re not going to believe me,” he said. “And maybe you never will.”

This was correct. I had no idea what to make of the secret of chess. And I definitely didn’t believe it. Only later, much later, when I was walking on a beach in California, did his words really strike me with their full force.

The review must end somewhere, and this is where it ends. It seems I have written, arguably, too much, but actually, it is only the tip of the iceberg. To learn the secret of chess, according to Ben Finegold you must find a copy and read it for yourself. You can thank me later…