The World Of Championship Chess

During the meeting of the Ironman Chess Club Tuesday, July 16, 2019 I was able to question the owner of Championship Chess, (https://www.championshipchess.net/) Steve Schneider,

a man I have known since the 1970’s, and for whom I once worked teaching Chess to children in an after school program. Our ‘conversation’ turned into an interview. There were others listening to our discussion. Without those witnesses I would be unable to publish this interview. It began after Steve, who is elderly, and like many older people, battling myriad health issues, including life threatening blood clots in his legs, stated, “I spend eighteen hours a day on Chess.” I did not question this because it is common knowledge Steve ‘burns the midnight oil’, sending emails into the wee hours of the night. I was holding a Championship Chess flyer for the 8th annual K-12 Summer Scorcher Chess tournament, which includes, on the back, the first twenty moves of the game between World Human Chess Co-Champion (at classical Chess) Magnus Carlsen and Sharsidden Vokhidov from the 2018 World Rapid Championship, titled “The Queen’s Raid.”

Me: “I see you are still teaching the Queen’s Raid.”

Steve: “There is nothing wrong with teaching the Queen’s Raid. It’s a good opening. Look at who plays it!”

Me: “Come on, Steve.”

Steve: “All the computers say it’s a playable opening!”

Me: “Which computers?”

Steve: “Stockfish, and all the top programs! Stockfish says white is better in the game!” (Referring to the aforementioned game printed on the back of the flyer. For years a Championship Chess flyer contained Chess puzzles chosen by NM Tim Brookshear. The Queen’s Raid game appears because Tim, for various reasons, decided to no longer produce the puzzles, allowing Steve’s atavistic tendencies to rear their ugly head. Hence the Queen’s Raid, something near and dear to the heart of the owner of Championship Chess. A case can be made that Championship Chess was predicated upon the Queen’s Raid, which has become synonymous with Championship Chess. The Queen’s Raid is the foundation of Championship Chess. Steve Schneider will invariably be known as the “Queen’s Raid guy.”)

Me: “When, exactly, is white better according to Stockfish, Steve?”

Steve: “In all the diagrams!”

Me: “Come on, Steve.”

Steve: Except where Magnus missed the best move in the last diagram.”

Me: “But the diagram is before Carlsen, as you say, ‘…missed the best move.'”

Steve: “Then he’s better there, too!”

(All I could do was shake my head as I muttered “unbelievable.” I then decided to move to a different subject. Granted, Magnus was better but only after his opponent played a theoretical novelty that was an extremely weak move, 4…Qe7. The Patzer is so bad that even with the inclusion of the weak move Qe7 the game is considered about even by “all of the programs.”)

Me: “What’s the deal with the World of Chess?” (Steve has spent much money having someone develop a program for beginners to which he sells access to unknowing parents of children who are in Championship Chess after school programs. I had previously seen a flyer for The World of Chess at the Ironman CC)

Steve: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Is it operational?”

Steve: “Yes.”

Me: “I looked for it on the internet but could not locate it.”

Steve: “Not just anyone can get to it.”

Me: “I would like to review it, Steve.”

Steve: “I DO NOT WANT IT REVIEWED!”

Me: “You don’t want it reviewed?” (Asked with incredulity)

Steve: “Why would I want others to see it?”

Me: “When a new product is developed it is usually reviewed…”

Steve: “You have to pay first.”

Me: “You must pay before even checking it out?”

Steve: “Yes.”

Me: “I understand it is similar to Mike Klein’s ChessKid, (https://www.chesskid.com/) which is free.”

Steve: “It’s NOT free. You must pay!”

Me: “I checked out ChessKid and there is much free content for anyone to see and use…”

Steve: “ChessKid really took off after he came to one of my lectures and stole my ideas.”

Me: “Who came to your lecture?”

Steve: “Mike Klein came to a lecture in Alabama. Most of what’s on ChessKid he took from me!”

Me: “But Steve, ChessKid has been around since long before you developed The World of Chess.”

Steve: “And you have to pay.”

Me: “But you can check it out before paying.”

Steve: “I’m not giving anything away. You must pay first!”

At this point Steve’s face was beet red and he was in a highly agitated state, so there were no further questions as others began to query “Coach Steve.”

This is my attempt to reproduce the Championship Chess flyer:

ECO20 The Queen’s Raid (At the 365Chess.com website you will find this-C20 KP, Patzer opening) (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=4&n=332&ms=e4.e5.Qh5&ns=3.5.332)

Carlsen, Magnus (2835)
Vokhidov, Shamsiddin (2480)
World Rapid Championship 12.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Qe7 5.Ne2 Nf6 6.d3 Bg7 7.Nbc3

Typical opening moves where the players are even. h6 8.Nd5 Nxd5 9.exd5 Na5 10.d6

Carlsen prevents Black from trading his Bishop. He sacrifices a Pawn for better development.cxd6 11.Bd5 Nc6 12.Bd2 Qf6 13.Qe4 O-O 14.O-O Ne7 15.Nc3 Qf5 16.Qb4 Nxd5

Black trades a Knight for a Bishop. 17.Nxd5 Kh7 18.Nc7 Rb8 19.Qxd6

White is better. b6 20.f3 Here Carlsen missed the best move Ne8! 0-1

I went to 365Chess and the “Big Database” contains 281 games with white winning 36.3% while losing 50.9%. The ChessBaseDataBase contains only 35 games because it is more selective, containing mostly games by titled players. It shows white scoring only 44%.

The CBDB shows what the engines ‘thought’ of the opening moves played in the Carlsen v Vokhidov game.

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 (After this move SF 10 at D43 shows an evaluation of -0.50 for white after black plays 2…Nc6 ; Komodo 12 has it -0.20)

Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 (Although Stockfish at Depth 43 plays the game move Komodo 12 at D42 prefers 4 Qd1)

4…Qe7? (There is only one game with this move in the CBDB. Komodo has it -0.02 after 5 Ne2. There are 25 games with 4…Nf6, SF has it -0.56. Vokhidov did not know the opening, which may have contributed to the thinking of Magnus Carlsen before playing The Patzer. Magnus has never played it again. There is a reason…) 5.Ne2 Nf6 (The Fish and the Dragon both play 5…Na5) 6.d3 (SF 10 plays 6 Nbc3) 6…Bg7 (Komodo and Houdini play the game move but Stockfish plays 6…h6, which will be a Theoretical Novelty if and when a titled human player makes the move on a board) 7.Nbc3 (SF 10 shows an advantage of -0.39 after 7…Nd4) 7…h6 8.Nd5 (SF 8 h3; Houdini 8 Be3) 8…Nxd5 9.exd5 Na5 ( According to both SF and Houdini 9…Nb4 is better) 10.d6 cxd6 11.Bd5 Nc6 (SF 11…Rb8) 12.Bd2 (This is Komodo’s move; Houdini plays 12 Qe4) 12…Qf6 (SF 10 castles)

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Richard Francisco’s Quest for the Elusive IM Norm at the Summer 2019 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitational

The CCCSA Summer 2019 GM/IM Norm Invitational was held at the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy June 6-9. There were three sections, GM; IM B; & IM C. After an overview we will focus on the IM B section for reasons which will become clear soon enough. But first I would like to mention the GM section ended in a tie between GM Karen Grigoryan, of Armenia, and IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, from the USA. Grigoryan was running away with the tournament until losing to IM Kassa Korley in the penultimate round. In the last round Grigoryan lost to Ostrovskiy while still clinging to a share of the lead.

In the IM C section GM Carlos Antonio Hevia Alejano, from Texas, shared first place with NM Aydin Turgut of Indiana. Full standings can be found @ http://chessstream.com/Invitational/Pairings.aspx

GM Alonso Zapata,

now a resident of the Great State of Georgia, ran away with the section, finishing a clear point ahead of the field with 7 1/2 points. IM Felix Jose Ynojosa Aponte,

from Venezuela, was second with 6 1/2 points. They met in the seventh round:

Felix Jose Ynojosa Aponte (VEN) vs Alonso Zapata (COL)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 07

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Bd3 Ne7 6. O-O (SF plays 6 b3 a move not seen since 1999, according to 365Chess. The move has appeared in only four games. There are no games at the ChessBaseDataBase with the move)
O-O 7. h3 (SF plays 7 Re1; Komodo plays 7 b3 a TN) c6 8. Re1 Ng6 (TN-SF plays 8…Na6) 9. c4 ½-½

Granted, this was the second game of the day so there must have been little thought from the GM other than to accept the gift. Zapata was born in August, 1958 and is currently sixty one years old. Aponte was born in 1996, and had the white pieces, yet did not even attempt to make a game of it against his much older rival. This reminds of the time decades ago when Ron Burnett had been paired with Sammy Reshevsky at a tournament such as the US Open, or maybe a World Open. Ron was ready for the battle, talking trash about what he was about to do to his opponent. “But Ron,” I said, “Sammy is a legend.” Ron shot back, “He ain’t nothing but an old man.” Once a player reaches a certain age he becomes the Rodney Dangerfield of Chess.

This was Aponte’s moment and what did he do? He offered a draw…Aponte has no cojones and unless he grows a pair in the near future the GM title will remain out of reach. Contrast the “game” and I use the term loosely, with Zapata’s last round game:

Alex Kolay (USA)

vs Alonso Zapata (COL)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 09

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 Nbd7 7. Bg5 e5 8. d5 a5 9. g4 Nc5 10. Nd2 c6 11. Be2 Bd7 12. Rg1 a4 13. b4 axb3 14. axb3 Qb6 15. Rb1 Qb4 16. Qc2 Ra3 17. Kf1 Rfa8 18. Kg2 Na6 19. Qb2 Nc7 20. Be3 Nfe8 21. f3 R3a5 22. Ra1 Rxa1 23. Rxa1 Rxa1 24. Qxa1 Bf6 25. Qb2 c5 26. Na2 Qa5 27. b4 cxb4 28. Nxb4 Bd8 29. Nd3 b5 30. c5 f6 31. g5 Qa8 32. cxd6 Nxd6 33. Nc5 Be8 34. f4 Nf7 35. fxe5 fxe5 36. d6 Nxd6 37. Qxe5 Nf7 38. Qg3 Qc6 39. Ndb3 Qd6 40. Bf4 Qe7 41. h4 Ne6 42. Nxe6 Qxe6 43. Qd3 Bb6 44. Nd4 Qe7 45. Be3 b4 46. Nc2 Bc7 47. Nd4 Qe5 48. Nf3 Qe6 49. Nd2 Bd7 50. Bf2 Ne5 51. Qc2 Qh3+ 52. Kg1 Bd6 53. Qa2+ Kf8 54. Qd5 Nf7 55. Nf3 Qe6 56. Qa8+ Qe8 57. Qxe8+ Kxe8 58. Bc4 Bc6 59. Nd2 Ne5 60. Bg8 Kf8 61. Bb3 Bb5 62. Kg2 Nd3 63. Kf3 Nxf2 64. Kxf2 Bf4 65. Nf3 Bc6 66. Nd4 Bd7 67. Kf3 Bd2 68. Nc2 Bc3 69. Ke3 Bg4 70. Nd4 Be1 71. Nc6 Bxh4 72. Kf4 Be2 73. Nxb4 Be1 74. Nd5 Bd2+ 75. Ne3 Kg7 76. e5 Bd3 77. Kf3 Bc3 78. e6 Bb5 79. Nd5 Be5 80. Nb6 Bd6 81. Ke4 Be7 82. Kf4 Bd6+ 83. Ke4 Kf8 84. Nd7+ Bxd7 ½-½

Tying for third place were Georgia native NM Richard Francisco,

now thirty five years of age, and his last round opponent NM Zachary Dukic,

from Canada. They both finished with 6 points; 6 1/2 were required to earn an IM norm.

In the first round Richard faced a young (birth year 1997) IM Martin Lokander, from Sweden.

NM Richard Francisco (USA) – Martin Lokander (SWE)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 01

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Bd7 5. Nf3 a6 (5…Nc6 SF) 6. Bd3 cxd4 (Komodo and Stockfish at the CBDB both play 6…Nc6, but the SF at ChessBomb considers 6…Qc7, a potential TN, equal to Nc6) 7. cxd4 Bb5 (SF prefers 7…Nc6)

8. O-O? (This shows a lack of understanding of the position and is the beginning of problems for Richard. Both the Fish and the Dragon would play 8 Bc2. There are many other, better, moves, such as 8 Bxb5+; 8 Nc3; and 8 Bg5, all shown at the ChessBomb) Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Ne7 10. Nc3 Nbc6 (For 10 N3c6 see Papahristoudis v Savoglou below) 11. Ne2 Rc8 12. Bd2 Nf5 13. Nf4 Be7

14. g3? (This is obviously a very weak move and gives the advantage to black. There was no need to voluntarily weaken the castled position. Richard needs to read Sam Shankland’s book…Stockfish says 14 Rac1 keeps the game balanced. Unfortunately for our hero Richard, the game went downhill from here. This is my last comment on the game, which can be found here, along with input from Stockfish, albeit with little time to “cogitate.” https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-charlotte-summer-invitational-im/01-Francisco_Richard-Lokander_Martin)

g5 15. Ne2 f6 16. g4 Nh6 17. exf6 Bxf6 18. h4 Nxg4 19. hxg5 Bg7 20. Nf4 O-O 21. Nxe6 Qd6 22. Nxf8 Rxf8 23. Ne5 Ngxe5 24. dxe5 Nxe5 25. Qg3 Nf3+ 26. Kg2 Qxg3+ 27. fxg3 Nxd2 28. Rxf8+ Kxf8 29. Rd1 Nc4 30. Kf3 d4 31. b3 Nd6 32. Rc1 Kf7 33. Rc7+ Kg6 34. Kf4 h6 35. gxh6 Bxh6+ 36. Kf3 Kf6 37. Ke2 Be3 38. Kd3 Kf5 39. a4 Bf2 40. Rg7 a5 41. Rg8 Nf7 42. g4+ Kf6 43. Rb8 Ne5+ 44. Ke2 Bh4 45. Rxb7 d3+ 46. Kd1 Nxg4 47. Rd7 Nf2+ 48. Kd2 Bg5+ 49. Ke1 Be3 50. Rd5 Ke6 51. Rd8 Ke5 52. Rd7 Ke4 53. Rd8 Bc5 54. Re8+ Kf3 55. Rb8 Ne4 56. Kd1 Bb4 57. Rd8 Ke3 58. Re8 Kd4 59. Kc1 Nf2 0-1

Anastasios Papahristoudis (2111) vs Nikolaos Savoglou (1890)

Ambelokipi op 75th 01/17/2007

C02 French, advance variation
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Bd7 5.Nf3 a6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb5 8.O-O Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Ne7 10.Nc3 Nec6 11.a3 Nd7 12.Bf4 Be7 13.Rac1 Nb6 14.b4 O-O 15.Nd2 Qd7 16.Be3 f6 17.f4 fxe5 18.fxe5 Rxf1+ 19.Rxf1 Rf8 20.Rxf8+ Bxf8 21.Nf3 Be7 22.h4 Nc4 23.Bc1 b5 24.Ne2 Qe8 25.Nf4 Qf7 26.g4 g6 27.Nh3 Nd8 28.Bg5 Kg7 29.Kg2 h6 30.Bxe7 Qxe7 31.Nf4 Qf7 32.Kg3 Nc6 ½-½

It must have been devastating to lose, especially with the white pieces, in the very forst round when one needs 6 1/2 points to earn an IM norm. To make matters worse, Richard had to face the only GM in the tournament in the second round.

Richard Francisco (USA) vs Alonso Zapata (COL)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 02

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. f4 a6 7. Nxc6 Qxc6 8. Bd3 d6 9. a4 Nf6 10. O-O Be7 11. Kh1 Qc7 12. Qe2 O-O 13. e5 Nd7 14. exd6 Bxd6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. f5 exf5 17. Bf4 Ne5 18. Ng3 Bd6 19. Bxf5 Ng6 20. Bxd6 Qxd6 21. Rad1 Qc7 22. c3 Bxf5 23. Nxf5 Rad8 24. Rd4 Rfe8 25. Qf3 Rxd4 26. cxd4 Qd7 27. h4 Nf8 28. d5 f6 29. h5 Re5 30. d6 Kh8 31. h6 g6 32. Ng3 Qxd6 33. Qxb7 Re7 34. Qa8 Rf7 35. Ne4 Qe5 36. Nxf6 Qg5 37. Qe8 Qxh6+ 38. Kg1 Qg7 39. Qd8 h5 40. b4 Qh6 41. Qe8 Qg7 42. Qd8 Qh6 43. Qe8 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. f4 (Not the best move in the position. Stockfish 10 at depth 49 would play 6 a3, a move which does not appear at the ChessBaseDataBase. SF 080219 at depth 46 plays 6 Be3, the most often played move, while SF 9 at depth 38 plays the second most often played move, 6 Be2) 6…a6 7 Nxc6 (The most often played move, but Komodo would play 7 Be2) 7…Qxc6 (Although the most often played move, SF 10 would play 7…bxc6) 8. Bd3 d6 (SF plays 8…b5, by far the most often played move) 9. a4 (SF 10 simply castles) 9…Nf6 10. O-O Be7 11. Kh1 (SF & Komodo prefer 11 Be3) 11…Qc7 (SF would castle) 12. Qe2 (Unfortunately, Qe2 is not always the best move. SF would play 12 a5) 12…O-O (SF 10 would play 12…b6) 13. e5 Nd7 14. exd6 Bxd6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. f5 (Komodo plays 16 Be3)

exf5 17. Bf4 SF plays 17 Ng3) Ne5 18. Ng3 Bd6 19. Bxf5 Ng6 (SF shows 19…Nc4 best) 20. Bxd6 Qxd6 21. Rad1 Qc7 22. c3 Bxf5 (SF prefers 22…Ne5) 23. Nxf5 Rad8 24. Rd4 (SF plays 24 Qg4) 24…Rfe8 (SF would play 24…Ne5)

25. Qf3 Rxd4 25 f6 SF) 26. cxd4 Qd7 (Houdini plays the “in your face” 26…Qf4) 27. h4 Nf8 (SF plays 27…Qe6) 28. d5 (28 h5 SF) f6 29. h5 Re5 (The Fish would rip off the pawn with 29…Qxa4) 30. d6 (The Dragon would play 30 b3) 30…Kh8 (Komodo would play 30…Qe6) 31. h6 g6 32. Ng3 (SF considers 32 Ne3 a much better move) 32…Qxd6 33. Qxb7 (Stockfish 10 would play 33 Ne4. The Fish at DaBomb would play 33 Qxf6) Re7 34. Qa8 (Komodo prefers 34 Ne4) Rf7 (SF 10 likes this move) 35. Ne4 Qe5 36. Nxf6 (Both the Fish and the Dragon prefer 36 b4) 36…Qg5 (36…Qe2 Komodo) 37. Qe8 (Both the Fish and the Dragon would take the pawn with 37 Qxa6) 37…Qxh6+ (37…Qh4+) 38. Kg1 Qg7 39. Qd8 h5

40. b4? (40 g4! SF) Qh6 41. Qe8 (41 Qd4 or Qb6) Qg7 42. Qd8 Qh6 43. Qe8 ½-½
The game can be found at ChessBomb: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-charlotte-summer-invitational-im/02-Francisco_Richard-Zapata_Alonso

Richard bested CM Abhimanyu Mishra with the black pieces in round 3 and FM Sahil Sinha with the white pieces in the fourth round before holding the draw with the black pieces against FM Seth Homa in the following round. He drew with the white pieces with the aforementioned Aponte in the first game played Saturday, June 8 before winning with black against FM Nikhil Kumar in the second Saturday game. This put Richard in the postition of needing to win both games the following day, Sunday.

Richard Francisco (USA) – Alex Kolay (USA)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 08

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. a3 f6 7. Bd3 Qc7 8. O-O O-O-O 9. Re1 c4 10. Bc2 fxe5 11. dxe5 Bc5 12. Nbd2 Nge7 13. b4 cxb3 14. Nxb3 Bb6 15. a4 Na5 16. Nxa5 Bxa5 17. Ba3 Be8 18. Nd4 Qd7 19. Qf3 Bg6 20. Bxg6 hxg6 21. Rab1 Bb6 22. Bd6 Nc6 23. Qg4 Rde8 24. h3 g5 25. Qxg5 Bd8 26. Qe3 Na5 27. Rb5 b6 28. Reb1 Nb7 29. Ba3 Be7 30. Bxe7 Rxe7 31. a5 Nxa5 32. Rxa5 bxa5 33. Qd3 Kc7 34. Qa6 Qc8 35. Qd6# 1-0

Now it was time for the final round, a game Mr. Francisco needed to win to obtain an IM norm. His opponent was a Canadian NM, born in 1997, the lowest rated player in the event, who was having a very good tournament. Like Richard the Canuck also had 5 1/2 points and needed a win to garner the coveted IM norm.

Zachary Dukic (CAN) – Richard Francisco (USA)

Charlotte Summer Invitational IM 2019 round 09

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3 Re8 (SF 8…d6) 9. Nxc6 (9 f3 SF) dxc6 10. Qxd8 Rxd8 11. a4 Ng4 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxe7 Re8 (13…Bxc3+ was played in Simacek v Zwardon below) 14. Ba3 Bxc3+ 15. bxc3 Rxe4+ 16. Kf1 Bf5 17. h3 Nf6 18. f3 Ree8 19. Kf2 Nd5 20. g4 Be6 21. c4 Nb6 22. Rhe1 a5 23. Bc5 Nd7 24. Be3 Kh7 25. c5 Bxb3 26. cxb3 Nf6 27. Bd2 Rxe1 28. Rxe1 Nd5 29. h4 Kg7 30. f4 f5 31. gxf5 gxf5 32. Re6 Kf7 33. Rd6 Nf6 34. Ke3 Re8+ 35. Kd3 Ne4 36. Rd4 Nxc5+ 37. Kc4 b6 38. Bxa5 Nxb3 39. Kxb3 bxa5

40. Kc4? (This move gave Richard the opportunity for which he was hoping. 40. h5 and it’s about an even game)

40…Re4? (SF at the Bomb has 40…Kg6 best and gives the following variation to prove it: (40… Kg6 41. Rd6+ Kh5 42. Rxc6 Re4+ 43. Kb5 Rxf4 44. Rf6 Rf1 45. Kxa5 f4 46. Kb5 f3 47. Kc4 Kxh4 48. Rxh6+ Kg5 49. Rh8 Ra1 50. Kb5 Rb1+ 51. Kc5 f2 52. Rf8 f1=Q 53. Rxf1 Rxf1 54. a5 Kf6 55. a6) 41. Rxe4 fxe4 42. Kd4 Kf6 43. Kxe4 h5 44. Kd4 Kf5 45. Kc5 Kg4 46. f5 Kxf5 47. Kb6 Kg4 48. Kxa5 Kxh4 49. Kb6 ½-½

During research for this post the following comment by Mr. Dukic was found:

“Well guys I almost got the norm. I needed a 2450 performance but since I drew my last game I only managed 2437.

I had 4.5/7 going into the final day and I would need 2/2 to secure the norm, including winning a game with black against a Swedish International Master. I managed to win this, so I only needed to win with white in the last round to secure the norm. If my opponent were to win, then he would win the norm. If we drew, nobody would get it. It was truly the money game!

It came down to a king and pawn endgame (see below) where I was one tempo short of victory. It resembles the endgame in Searching for Bobby Fischer except for one key detail: black’s pawn on c6 prevents my queen from controlling his queening square 😥

For those of you who followed along, hope you enjoyed it!”

https://www.facebook.com/groups/5844777070/

I spent much time following the games from Charlotte via the internet, when it was up. The service received from AT&T leaves much to be desired. Frankly, having AT&T is like living in a third world country, with constant outages. The internet is frequently down and when down, stays down for many hours. Nevertheless, I persevered, while either muttering expletives, or screaming things like, “That blankety blank AT&T!!!”

One of the best things about viewing the games was they were given at ChessStream (http://chessstream.com/Invitational/Default.aspx) sans annotations so I could think for myself before heading over to the ChessBomb to learn what Stockfish, with little time and depth, had to say about the move and/or position.

Kid Keymer versus the Closed Sicilian

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 a6 Arkadij Naiditsch

played 3 Nge2 against Vincent Keymer

in the fourth round of the ongoing Grenke Classic. Vincent is a fifteen year old boy currently battling men. The draw was unkind to the boy as he had to face the current World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen,

in the first round; the former World Human Chess Champion, Vishy Anand,

in the second round; and then the player who is, according to Carlsen, the “Co-Classical World Chess Champion,” Fabiano Caruana

in the third round.

This caused me to reflect upon a recent game I had researched between Yi Wei

and Kailo Kilaots

in the seventh round of the recently completed Aeroflot Open a couple of months ago. I learned 3 Nge2 is now considered the best move whereas previously 3 g3 was almost automatically played.

The game is annotated at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/interview-with-aeroflot-winner-kaido-kulaots-part-ii) and many other places around the web, so I will only give the opening and a couple of games found before getting on to the Kid versus the Closed Siclian.

Yi Wei (2733) v Kulaots (2542)

Aeroflot Open

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 (The best move according to SF 9 & 10, and Houdini) Nf6 4. g3 (SF 10 at depth 35 plays this move, but at depth 42 plays 4 d4) Nc6 (SF 10 at depth 38 plays this move, but SF 010219 at the same depth plays 4…g6) 5. Bg2 g6 6. d3 (SF 9 at depth 36 plays this move, but going deeper to depth 44 shows 6 a3, a move yet to be played, followed by Bg7 7 Rb1, while Komodo plays the most often played move in practice, 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nd5) Bg7 7. 0-0 0-0 (SF 260219 at depth 39 shows 7…Rb8 8 Nd5 Nxd5) 8. Bg5 (SF 9 & 10 play 8 a3 , but Komodo shows 8 Nd5 Nd7 9 Ne3) 8…Bd7 (SF 9 at depth 40 shows 8…Rb8 9 a4 h6) 9. Qd2 (This is the SF choice but Komodo plays 9 Nd5) 9…Nd4 (Komodo shows 9…Rb8 10 Nd5 Ng4 or 9…Re8 10 h3 Rc8 both at depth 31)

Werner Hug (2435)

vs John Nunn (2565)

Luzern ol (Men) 1982

B25 Sicilian, closed

1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Nge2 Nf6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Rc8 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Nd4 12.Qd2 Qb6 13.Rab1 Bg4 14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Rc7 17.c4 dxc3 18.bxc3 Qa5 19.Rb4 Bf5 20.Rfb1 Rfc8 21.R1b3 b6 22.h3 e5 23.dxe6 Bxe6 24.Rb5 Qa6 25.c4 Rc5 26.Qb2 Rxb5 27.Rxb5 Rc5 28.Rxc5 dxc5 29.h4 h5 30.Be4 Qa5 31.Kg2 Qa4 ½-½

Thomas Flindt (2179) vs Martin Baekgaard (2294)

47th XtraCon TCh-DEN 2008-9

01/11/2009

B24 Sicilian, closed

1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nge2 Nf6 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d6 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Qa5 10.Bh6 Nd4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.h3 Qb4 13.Rab1 Rac8 14.f4 Bc6 15.g4 Nd7 16.f5 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Qd4+ 18.Kh1 f6 19.g5 fxg5 20.Qg4 h6 21.fxg6 Ne5 22.Qe6 Nxg6 23.Nd5 Qe5 24.Qg4 e6 25.Ne3 b5 26.Qd1 Rxf1+ 27.Qxf1 Rf8 28.Qe1 h5 29.Qa5 Rf7 30.Rf1 Nf4 31.Qd8 d5 32.Nf5+ exf5 33.Qxg5+ Ng6 34.exf5 Qf6 35.Qxg6+ Qxg6 36.fxg6 Rxf1+ 37.Bxf1 d4+ 38.Bg2 Bxg2+ 39.Kxg2 Kxg6 40.h4 Kf5 41.Kf3 a5 42.Kg3 a4 43.b3 Ke5 ½-½

Arkadij Naiditsch 2710 (AZE)

vs Vincent Keymer 2509 (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 04

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. Nge2 d6 4. a4 Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. d3 Rb8 10. h3 Nd7 11. g4 h6 12. Ng3 Bh4 13. Nce2 b5 14. Kh2 b4 15. Be3 a5 16. Qd2 Ba6 17. b3 Qe7 18. Rg1 Rbc8 19. Raf1 g6 20. e5 d5 21. f5 Ncxe5 22. Bxh6 Rfe8 23. fxg6 fxg6 24. g5 Nf7 25. Qf4 Nxh6 26. Qxh4 Nf7 27. Nh5 gxh5 28. Rf6 Nxf6 29. gxf6 Qd6+ 30. Nf4 Kf8 31. Qg3 Red8 32. Re1 e5 33. Ng6+ Ke8 34. Nxe5 Qxf6 35. Ng4+ Qe7 36. Nf6+ 1-0

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (Stockfish 8 at the ChessBaseDataBase has this, followed by 2…Nc6 3. Nf3 as best, but Houdini goes with the usual 2. Nf3) a6 (Rather than playing a developing move, 2…Nc6, the most often played move, the kid plays a fourth rate move and I cannot but wonder why?) 3. Nge2 (Although Stockfish 9 would play what previously was standard, 3 g3, SF 10 goes with the game move. Then after 3…Nf6 would come 4. g3) d6 (SF displays the little played 3…Nf6, expecting 4. g3 e6) 4. a4 (An attempt to take the kid out of “book” after Keymer took the game out of book by playing 2…a6? SF 10 plays 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4; SF 9 goes with 4 g3 g6 5 Bg2)
Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 TN (See Genocchio vs Stefano below for 6 g6)

Daniele Genocchio, (2195) vs Stefano Tatai (2395)

ITA-ch 11/26/1998

B23 Sicilian, closed
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nge2 a6 4.a4 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.O-O Bg7 10.Nde2 O-O 11.h3 Rc8 12.Be3 a5 13.f4 Be6 14.Qd2 Nb4 15.Rfd1 Qc7 16.Rac1 Qb8 17.Nd4 Bc4 18.Ndb5 b6 19.Qf2 Nd7 20.e5 Rfd8 21.exd6 e6 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Rc5 24.Na3 Bd5 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.Nab5 Nf6 27.f5 Ne8 28.fxg6 fxg6 29.Rf1 Nxd6 30.Nxd6 Qxd6 31.Ne4 1-0

Levon Aronian (ARM)

vs Vincent Keymer (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 06

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 Be7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 O-O 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Re2 c5 16. Na4 Rd1+ 17. Kg2 Rad8 18. b3 Nd5 19. c3 Rc8 20. Re4 Nf6 21. Re2 Nd5 22. Rd2 Rxd2 23. Bxd2 c4 24. Nb2 Bf6 25. Nxc4 Bxc3 26. Rd1 Bxd2 27. Rxd2 g5 28. Kf3 Kg7 29. Ne3 Rc3 30. Rc2 f5 31. Rxc3 Nxc3 32. a4 g4+ 33. Kg2 Kf6 34. Nc2 Ne4 35. b4 Nc3 36. b5 axb5 37. a5 Nd5 38. a6 Nc7 39. a7 Ke5 40. Kf1 Kd5 41. Nb4+ Kc4 42. Nc6 Kd3 43. Ke1 Na8 44. Nd8 e5 45. Nc6 Ke4 46. Kd2 Kd5 47. Nb4+ Kc4 48. Nc6 Kd5 49. Nb4+ Ke4 50. Nc6 f4 51. Kc3 Kd5 52. Nb4+ Ke4 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (If the kid has brought an inferior second move to the tournament why not allow him to play it again, Sam) a6 (He does play it again, Sam!?) 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 (Show me what’cha know, Joe) Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 (Depending on which program Stockfish will either play 5…e6, expecting 6 d4 cxd4; or 5…g6, expecting 6 a3 Nc6) 6. O-O (SF would play 6 Nd5 which would be a TN) e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 (SF 9 at depth 41 plays the game move, expecting 9…Nxd4 10 Qxd4; but SF 270918 at depth 43 plays 9 a4 expecting 9…Be7 10 Nxc6. SF 10 at depth 35 plays 9 Be3 Rc8 10 Nc6) 9…Be7 (Although little played both SF and Komodo play 9…Nxd4 with an even game. 365Chess shows four games in which 9…Nxd4 was played and all four ended in a draw.

10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 (The big three all consider 11 a4 best) dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 (There is a disagreement between the Fish, which prefers the game move, and the Dragon, which likes 13 Qxd8+) 13…0-0 (The Fish trades the ladies while the Dragon keeps them on with 13…Qc7) 14. Qxd8 TN (Stockfish and Houdini consider this best. For 14 Qf3 and 14 Bd2 see games below)

Maritza Arribas (2300) vs Nana Ioseliani (2476)

Istanbul ol (Women) 11/12/2000

B40 Sicilian defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Re1 Be7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Qf3 Nd5 15.Re2 Rb8 16.Ne4 f5 17.Nd2 Rf6 18.Nc4 f4 19.Qe4 Qe8 20.Bxf4 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Qh5 22.Rae1 Rbf8 23.f3 Kh8 24.Qxc6 Rxf4 25.Nd2 Bh4 26.Rf1 R4f6 27.Rg2 Bg5 28.Qb7 Rg6 29.f4 Bxf4 30.Kh1 e5 31.c4 h6 32.Qe4 Rxg2 33.Qxg2 Rd8 34.Ne4 Rd1 35.Kg1 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Qd1+ 37.Kf2 Qc2+ 38.Kf3 Qxc4 39.b3 Qd3+ 40.Kg4 Qd1+ 41.Kf5 Qd7+ 42.Kg6 Qe6+ 43.Kh5 Qf5+ 44.Kh4 g5+ 45.Kh5 Kg7 46.b4 Be3 47.a4 Qf7+ 0-1

Bartlomiej Macieja (2613) vs Namig Gouliev (2526)

EU-ch 6th 06/28/2005

B46 Sicilian, Taimanov variation

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.Nge2 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.g3 d6 7.Bg2 Bd7 8.O-O Nf6 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nxc6 Bxc6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.Rb1 Rfd8 16.Qe2 Ng4 17.Be3 Nxe3 18.Rxe3 Rd4 19.Rd3 Rxd3 20.Qxd3 Rd8 21.Qe2 h6 22.Ne4 Qd4 23.Nc3 Qb6 24.Ne4 Qd4 25.Nc3 Qb6 ½-½

Class dismissed.

Richard Francisco at the Spring 2019 IM Norm Invitational

Life Master Richard Francisco

carried the Georgia colors to Charlotte, NC, for the Spring 2019 GM/IM Norm Invitational contested
March 20-24, 2019 at the Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy. Richard played in the IM section scoring 3 1/2 points while winning two, drawing two, and losing too many.

Richard earned his NM certificate in 2003 and LM title in 2009. (http://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlMain.php?12631588) He is ranked in the top three hundred active players in the USCF and is the fourth highest rated player in the Great State of Georgia. According the FIDE Mr. Francisco is number 8064 in the world among active players. (https://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=2021188)

Richard will be playing again in the Summer 2019 CCCSA IM Norm Invitational beginning June 5.

NM RICHARD FRANCISCO (2231) – FM ROBBY ADAMSON (2216)

Spring 2019 IM Norm Invitational
Round 4 | 2019.03.22

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 (Although the move played in the game has been by far the most frequently played move SF 10 at depth 52 and Houdini at depth 50 “think” the game should go 6 Nc3 Bb4 7 Bd3. With this move the game now becomes the C45 Scotch, Mieses variation) 6…Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. c4 Nb6 (SF and Komodo show 8…Ba6 as the move) 9. Nc3 Qe6 10. Bd2 (SF plays 10 Qe4 expecting d5 11 exd6; Houdini plays 10 f4 Bc5 11 Be3) Ba6 11. b3 O-O-O 12. f4 f6 13. Qf2 (See Abdulov vs Lenic below for 13 Qe4)

Bb7 14. a4 Kb8 15. a5 Nc8 16. a6 Ba8 17. c5 fxe5 18. f5 Qe7 19. Ne4 d5 20. Bg5 Qd7 21. Bxd8 Qxd8 22. Ng3 Qe7 23. b4 Qh4 24. Rb1

24…Nd6

25. Be2 Nb5 26. O-O Be7 27. Nh5 Nc3 28. Rb2 Qxf2+ 29. Rxf2 Bg5 30. Rf1 e4 31. Nxg7 Bf6 32. Nh5 Bd4+ 33. Kh1 Nd1 34. Bxd1 Bxb2 35. f6 Rf8 36. Bg4 Bb7 37. axb7 Kxb7 38. Be2 Bc3 39. g4 Bxb4 40. Ng7 Bxc5 41. Ne6 Bd6 42. Nxf8 Bxf8 43. Rb1+ Kc8 44. g5 1-0

Orkhan Abdulov (2388) vs Luka Lenic (2641)
Event: 18th ch-EUR Indiv 2017
Site: Minsk BLR Date: 05/30/2017

ECO: C45 Scotch, Mieses variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 10.Bd2 Ba6 11.b3 O-O-O 12.f4 f6 13.Qe4 Bb7 14.O-O-O Re8 15.Re1 fxe5 16.fxe5 g6 17.a4 a5 18.Bd3 Bg7 19.Bf4 d6 20.Bg3 dxe5 21.Qe3 h5 22.Kc2 h4 23.Bf2 e4 24.Qxe4 Qf6 25.Qg4+ Kb8 26.Nd1 Qa1 27.Qxg6 Reg8 28.Bxb6 Qa2+ 29.Kc1 Bh6+ 30.Qxh6 Rxh6 31.Be3 Rxg2 0-1

FM EZRA PAUL CHAMBERS (2334) – NM RICHARD FRANCISCO (2231)

Spring 2019 IM Norm Invitational
Round 5 | 2019.03.23 | 0-1

B38 Sicilian, accelerated fianchetto, Maroczy bind, 6.Be3

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 (SF 9 shows 4…Nf6 best) 5. c4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 (SF 10 plays 6…Qb6, followed by 7 Nb3 Qd8)

7. Nc3 O-O 8. Be2 b6 (Komodo plays d6) 9. O-O (SF plays 9 Qd2 Bb7 10 f3 while Komodo plays 9 f4 Nxd4 10 Bxd4) Bb7 (SF prefers 9…Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Bb7. Only one game has been played by transposition. See Horvath vs McCambridge below) 10. f3 Qb8 (SF prefers 10…Nxd4 11 Bxd4 Bh6) 11. Qd2 Rd8 (SF plays 11…Nxd4 12 Bxd4 d6) 12. Rad1 (SF 9 plays 12 Nc2 while SF 10 and Komodo play Ndb5)

12…d6 (SF plays 12…Nxd4 13 Bxd4 d6) 13. Rfe1 (SF plays 13 Nc2 Rd7 14 f4; Komodo plays either 13 b3 Qc8 14 a3 or 13 Nbd5) 13…Rd7 (Houdini plays 13…Nxd4 14 Bxd4 Qc7) 14. Bf1 (SF plays 14 b3 e6 15 Nxc6 while Houdini plays 14 Ndb5 Nd8 15 Rc1) 14…Qf8 (SF plays the game move giving 15 g3 e6; Komodo plays 14…Ne5 15 b3 Nf8; Houdini plays 14…Nxf4 15 Bxd4 Qc8)

15. b3 Rad8 16. g3 e6 17. Qf2 Ne5 18. Bh3 Re7 19. Na4 d5 20. exd5 exd5 21. c5 Ba6 22. cxb6 axb6 23. Bf1 Bxf1 24. Kxf1 b5 25. Nc3 b4 26. Na4 Rde8 27. Qd2 Rc7 28. Rc1 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 Qe7 30. Bf2 Qd7 31. Kg2 Bf8 32. Nc5 Qa7 33. Na4 Qa8 34. Rc7 Bd6 35. Rc1 h5 36. h3 Bf8 37. g4 hxg4 38. hxg4 Qb7 39. Bh4 Bg7 40. Re1 Ned7 41. Rxe8+ Nxe8 42. Nc2 Bf8 43. Be1 Ne5 44. Qe2 f6 45. Nd4 Nc7 46. f4 Nc6 47. Ne6 d4 48. Nxf8 Kxf8 49. Nc5 Qa8 50. Kg3 Qe8 51. Qd2 Qe7 52. Nd3 Nd5 53. Bf2 Nc3 54. Kh2 Qe4

55. Bh4 Kf7 56. Bf2 Qf3 57. g5 Ne4 58. Qc2 Nxf2 59. Nxf2 Qxf4+ 60. Kh3 Qf3+ 61. Kh2 Qf4+ 62. Kh3 Qf5+ 63. Qxf5 gxf5 64. gxf6 Ne5 65. Kg3 Kxf6 66. Kf4 Ke6 67. Kg5 Nf3+ 68. Kf4 Ne1 69. Nd1 Nd3+ 70. Kf3 Ke5 71. Ke2 Ke4 0-1

Tamas Horvath (2390) vs Vincent McCambridge (2350)

A04 Reti opening

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 g6 3.e4 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Be2 Nc6 8.Be3 b6 9.O-O Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Bb7 11.f3 Rc8 12.Rc1 d6 13.Re1 e6 14.Bf1 Qc7 15.Nb5 Qd8 16.Nxa7 Ra8 17.Nb5 Rxa2 18.Na3 e5 19.Bc3 Bh6 20.Rb1 Nh5 21.Qb3 Qh4 22.g3 Nxg3 23.hxg3 Qxg3+ 24.Bg2 f5 25.c5+ Rf7 26.cxd6 fxe4 27.d7 exf3 28.d8=Q+ Bf8 29.Qxf7+ Kxf7 30.Qd7+ Be7 31.Re2 fxe2 32.Qxb7 Qe3+ 33.Kh1 Qh6+ 34.Kg1 Qe3+ ½-½

Socko, M 2473 vs Lind, J 2206

Warsaw AIG Life Rapid 7th 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Be2 b6 9. O-O Bb7 10. f3 Qb8 11. Qd2 Rd8 12. Rad1 d6 13.Rfe1 Rd7 14. Bf1 Qf8 15. b3 Rad8 16. Nc2 e6 17. Bg5 h6 18. Bh4 g5 19. Bf2 Nh5 20. g3 Ne5 21. Bg2 Qe7 22. Ne3 Qf6 23. Qe2 Qg6 24. Nb5 Ba8 25. Nd4 Kh8 26. Rf1 Bf6 27. Kh1 Rg8 28. Bh3 Be7 29. Bg2 Nf4 30. gxf4 gxf4 31. Rg1 fxe3 32. Bxe3 Qh5 33. Rdf1 Rdd8 34. f4 Qxe2 35. Nxe2 Ng4 36. Bd2 d5 37. cxd5 Bc5 38. Bc3+ Kh7 39. Nd4 Ne3 40. Rf3 Nxg2 41. Rxg2 Rxg2 42. Kxg2 exd5 43. e5 Rc8 44. f5 b5 45. Rg3 Re8 46. Kh3 b4 47. Bb2 Rxe5 48. Ne6 d4 49. Rg7+ Kh8 50. Rxf7 Re3+ 51. Kh4 Re2 52. Nxc5 Rxh2+ 53. Kg4 Rxb2 54. Rf8+ Kg7 55. Ne6+ Kh7 56. Rxa8 Rxa2 57. Nxd4 Rg2+ 58. Kf4 Rd2 59. Rxa7+ Kg8 60. Ke5 h5 61. Ne6 h4 62. f6 Rf2 63. Nf4 Rf1 64. f7+ Kg7 65. Ne6+ Kg6 66. f8=Q 1-0

GM Stukopin vs Rajendra US Open Bishop’s Opening

GM Andrey Stukopin (2681)

vs Avinash Rajendra (2151)

US Open 4 day schedule round 5

1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 Nc3 (This move allows 3…Nxe4 4 Nxe4 d5. For that reason I preferred 3 d3, and so does Stockfish)

3…Nc6 (Both Stcokfish and Komodo play 3…Bc5)

4 d3 (The Dragon plays this, but the Fish prefers 4 Nf3) 4…Na5 (Fishy would play 4…Bc5) 5. Qf3 (The only move I ever played was 5 Bb3. Allowing the bishop to be taken on c4 in fifteen minutes games showed me a better way. Komodo and Houdini agree. I do not about bringing the Queen out this early, especially to a square best suited for the knight. It boils down to which pawn structure you prefer, this one:

Or this:

5…c6 (SF plays this or 5…d5)

6 Nge2 Be7 (SF plays this but both Komodo and Houey prefer 6…b5) 7. h3 (Stockfish would play either 7…Ng3 or a4, both of which would be a TN)

7…d6 (SF says 7…b5) 8 g4 (This is a TN. There is total agreement between the Big Four, The Fish; The Dragon; The Escape Artist; and Yours Truly, 8 a4 is the best move. For 8 0-0 see Murtagh vs Mannion below)

8…Nxc4 9 dxc4 Be6 10 b3 h6 11 Bb2 Qa5 12 O-O-O O-O-O (one does not often see a B.O. where both sides castle long) 13 Kb1 Kb8 14 Qg2 g5 15 Ng3 Ka8 16 Qf3 d5 17 Nf5

17…Bb4 (17…Bxf5 must be considered. After 18 Qxf5 d4 looks strong. It is always nice to have a protected passed pawn, especially when it cuts into the heart of your opponents position)

18 exd5 cxd5 19 Ng7 Be7 20 cxd5 Nxd5 (The black dark square bishop will be exchanged. With 20…Bxd5 21 Nxd5 Nxd5 the General of the black pieces avoids the doubled pawns. Taking with the knight first actually loses a pawn. Turn out the lights…)

21 Nxe6 fxe6 22 Nxd5 exd5 23 Bxe5 Rhf8 24 Qg3 Bf6 25 Rhe1 Bxe5 26 Rxe5 Qc5 27 Qe3 Qc6 28 Qd4 Rc8 29 Rd2 Rf3 30 Rxd5 Rxh3 (Not that there was much hope, but black could have played 30…Rff8 and prolonged the game) 31 Rc5 Qe8 32 Rxc8+ Qxc8 33 Qf6 Rh1+ 34 Kb2 Re1 35 Rd8 Qxd8 36 Qxd8# 1-0

Dermot Murtagh (1889) vs Stephen R Mannion (2333)

Monarch Assurance 13th 2004

C28

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nc3 Na5 5. Qf3 c6 6. Nge2 d6 7. h3 Be7 8. O-O Nxc4 9. dxc4 Be6 10. b3 O-O 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. a4 Ne8 13. Ng3 g6 14. Bh6 Ng7 15. Nf5 Nxf5 16. exf5 Bxf5 17. Bxf8 Rxf8 18. Rd2 Be6 19. Re1 f5 20. Qe3 b6 21. f4 Bf6 22. Ne2 Re8 23. Red1 exf4 24. Nxf4 Bf7 25. Qf3 Be5 26. Kh1 Kg7 27. Re2 Rd8 28. Nd3 Bf6 29. Nf4 Qc8 30. Rde1 Be5 31. Nd3 Bc3 32. Rd1 Re8 33. Nf4 Be5 34. Nd3 Bf6 35. Rxe8 Qxe8 36. Re1 Qd7 37. Nf4 Be5 38. Nd3 Bc3 39. Nc5 dxc5 40. Qxc3+ Qd4 41. Qxd4+ cxd4 42. Re7 a6 43. Rc7 b5 44. Rxc6 bxc4 45. bxc4 a5 46. c5 Be8 47. Rd6 Kf7 48. c6 Ke7 49. c7 Bd7 50. Rxd4 g5 51. c4 g4 52. hxg4 fxg4 53.c5 h5 54. c6 1-0

Luka Paichadze (2581) vs Eltaj Safarli (2639)

19th ch-EUR Indiv 2018

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nc3 Na5 5. Qf3 Nxc4 6. dxc4 Bb4 7. Ne2 d6 8. O-O c6 9. a3 Bc5 10. b4 Bb6 11. Qd3 Be6 12. Na4 Bc7 13. Nec3 O-O 14. Rd1 Qe7 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bxf6 Qxf6 17. Rd2 a6 18. c5 Rad8 19. Qe2 dxc5 20. Nxc5 Rxd2 21. Qxd2 Rd8 22. Qe2 Bc8 23. Rd1 a5 24. Rxd8+ Qxd8 25. Qd3 Qe7 26. h3 Kh7 27. Qd2 axb4 28. axb4 Bb6 29. N3a4 Ba7 30. Nd3 Qd6 31. Nac5 b6 32. Nb3 Ba6 33. Qc3 f6 34. Nd2 Bxd3 35. cxd3 b5 36. Nb3 Qe6 37. Nc5 Qa2 38. g3 Bb6 39. Kg2 Qa7 40. d4 exd4 41. Qxd4 Bxc5 42. bxc5 Qb8 43. Qd6 Qe8 44. Qd3 Qe5 45. f4 Qxc5 46. e5+ Kg8 47. Qd8+ Kh7 48. Qd3+ 1/2-1/2

Krzysztof Jakubowski (2502) vs Krzysztof Bulski (2416)

2010 Polish Championship

C28 Vienna game

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Nc6 4. d3 Na5 5. Qf3 c6 6. Nge2 Be7 7. h3 Nxc4 8. dxc4 d6 9. b3 Be6 10. O-O O-O 11. Rd1 Ne8 12. Ng3 g6 13. Bh6 Ng7 14. c5 f6 15. cxd6 Bxd6 16. Nf5 gxf5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. exf5 Bf7 19. Qd3 Bd5 20. Nxd5 cxd5 21. Qxd5 Be7 22. Qxb7 Qe8 23. Rd7 Rf7 24. Rad1 a5 25. c4 Qc8 26. Qd5 Ra6 27. Rd3 Kf8 28. Qb5 e4 29. Rd1 Rc6 30. Qxa5 Rc5 31. Qb6 Kg7 32. R7d5 Bf8 33. Qe6 Rxd5 34. Qxd5 Re7 35. c5 Re5 36. Qd7+ Qxd7 37. Rxd7+ Be7 38. b4 Kf7 39. a4 e3 40. fxe3 Rxe3 41. Kf1 Ke8 42. Rb7 Rb3 43. Rb5 Kd7 44. a5 Bd8 45. a6 Ra3 46. Rb7+ Kc6 47. Rb8 Bc7 48. Rc8 Kd7 49. Rh8 Rxa6 50. Rxh7+ Kd8 51. b5 Ra1+ 52. Ke2 Rc1 53. b6 Be5 54. b7 Rxc5 55. g4 Rb5 56. h4 Ke8 57. g5 fxg5 58. hxg5 Bd6 59. g6 Be5 60. Kd3 Rb4 61. f6 Bxf6 62. Rc7 Be5 63. g7 Bxg7 64. Rxg7 Kd8 65. Kc3 Rb1 66. Kc4 Rb2 67. Kc5 Rb1 68. Kc6 Rc1+ 69. Kb6 Rb1+ 70. Ka7 Ra1+ 71. Kb8 Ra2 72. Rg4 Rd2 73. Ra4 1-0

Wei Yi (2625) vs Xiu Deshun (2571)

2014 Chinese Championship

C28

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d3 Na5 5. Qf3 d6 6. h3 Be7 7. Nge2 c6 8. a4 Nxc4 9. dxc4 Be6 10. b3 d5 11. exd5 cxd5 12. cxd5 Bxd5 13. Qg3 O-O 14. O-O Ne4 15. Qxe5 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 Bc6 17. Rd1 Bf6 18. Qc5 Qc8 19. Bb2 Bxg2 20. Qxc8 Rfxc8 21. Kxg2 Bxc3 22. Bxc3 Rxc3 23. Rd7 Rxc2 24. Rad1 h6 25. Rxb7 a5 26. Rdd7 Ra6 27. Rxf7 Rg6+ 28. Kh2 Rc1 29. Rf3 Rgg1 30. Rb5 Rh1+ 31. Kg3 Rhg1+ 32. Kf4 Rg6 33. Rxa5 Rb6 34. Rd5 Rb4+ 35. Ke5 Kh7 36. Rb5 Rxb5+ 37. axb5 Rc5+ 38. Kd4 Rxb5 39. Kc4 Rb8 40. b4 1-0
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1750964

Wesley So (2531) vs Tigran Mamikonian (2257)

Yerevan 2007

C28

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nc3 Na5 5. Qf3 Nxc4 6. dxc4 d6 7. h3 Be7 8.Nge2 O-O 9. O-O c6 10. Rd1 Be6 11. b3 Qc7 12. a4 Rad8 13. Ng3 Kh8 14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. Qxf5 g6 16. Qf3 Ng8 17. Qe3 a6 18. Bb2 Qc8 19. Ne2 Qe6 20. Nf4 Qc8 21. Nd3 f6 22. f4 Rfe8 23. Rf1 Bf8 24. Qg3 Bg7 25. fxe5 dxe5 26. Rf3 c5 27. a5 Qc6 28. Re1 Qc7 29. Bc3 Ne7 30. Qf2 Nc6 31. Qxc5 Qd7 32. Qf2 Qe7 33. h4 h5 34. Rf1 Kh7 35. Kh1 Nd4 36. Bxd4 Rxd4 37. Nf4 Rxe4 38. Nd5 Qd7 39. Nxf6+ Bxf6 40. Rxf6 Re7 41. Rf7+ Kh6 42. Rf8 Kh7 43. Qf7+ Rxf7 44. R1xf7+ Qxf7 45. Rxf7+ Kh6 46. Rxb7 Rxh4+ 47. Kg1 Rd4 48. c5 Rd5 49. b4 Kg5 50. c6 Rd4 51. c7 Rc4 52. b5 1-0

2018 US Chess Open Rumors

Although I liked the DGT board used by the USCF in the recent US Open festival of sorts, there were myriad problems. Some rounds had only three of the six boards displayed, with nary a move having been played in the others. There were times when a result was given as the moves continued. Because of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the last round I will say nothing concerning the last round. I will, though, say I found it very strange USCF posted nothing on the US Open for days, and when something was published it concerned “…our new National Girls Tournament of Champions winner.” Since I am putting this together Thursday afternoon I simply cannot recall the order in which the articles that followed appeared. After surfing on over to the website I noticed the order may be different because of some new articles. What I recall is a very short report on who won the tournament, followed by yet another article on girls, then an article written by GM Michael Rhode, which I intended to read but time did not permit, and it was taken down and is not currently on the main USCF webpage. Nothing can be found as to how to find it on the website. The fact that the USCF chose to publish articles on girls Chess before publishing anything on who actually won the event speaks loudly to what has happened to the USCF now that women are in charge. If girls Chess is the future of Chess, then Chess is dead, because the vast majority of girls stop playing the game around puberty, and there has been absolutely no evidence this will change in the future.

I liked the DGT board because it has no digital clanking monster analysis displayed. I do not like the fact that one cannot download the game(s). I obtained the moves of the game below the old fashioned way, writing them on a piece of paper. I have no idea if the moves given are correct, and there is no way of knowing from the information at hand. Such is Chess with the USCF…

A new article appeared today, Thursday, on the USCF webpage this morning four days after the conclusion of the event, by Al Lawrence. It is written, “The sudden death of one of the participants required the complete evacuation of the tournament hall for a 3 ½ -hour delay of all games in the ninth and final round. Read the US Chess statement posted that night here. Everyone showed respect for this necessity, as one of our own had ended life at the board. Liang-Gareyev was on Move 15 at the time all clocks stopped.” (https://new.uschess.org/news/eyes-wide-open-gareyev-wins-2018-u-s-open/)
One must wonder why the above could not have been published on the USCF website many days earlier. For example, I was elated upon learning the last round would begin at three pm in lieu of seven pm, which meant I could watch the whole round. Seven pm in Madison, Wisconsin is eight pm in Georgia, and I hit the rack before midnight. That afternoon I watched the opening part of the games before taking a nap, and shower, then having dinner. Upon springing Toby, the ‘puter, back to life to watch the action, the DGT board was, shall we say, a mess. I had no clue as to why, other than the problems finally overwhelmed the technology used by the USCF.

I have received emails concerning the unfortunate death at the board during the last round of the USO. My reply has been, “I am as in the dark as are you.” I am still in the dark, and flummoxed as to what occurred at the US Open. I have intentionally not written anything on this blog because I do not need to feed fuel to the rumors fire burning brightly on the internet. Maybe we will learn why the USCF stayed quiet about the situation so long; then again, maybe not…As of this writing there is still nothing written about the death during the last round…

I cannot say the following game was the best game played at the US Open, but it the best fighting game I saw on the DGT display. I ran the opening through the ChessBaseDataBase, and 365Chess. What was found follows. The only comment I will make concerning the rest of the game is that I cringed when Mr. Dean played his forty third move. It looks as though black had an advantage, albeit a small one, but nevertheless, an advantage. GMs wait for their opponent to play a weakening move such as the ill-fated weakening of his structure when playing 43…g5. That said, FM Jim Dean certainly made his GM opponent sweat bullets!

GM Jimenez Corrales 2635 vs FM Jim Dean 2249

2018 US Open rd 7

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 (SF at a depth of 49 considers this the best move while Komodo at a depth of 37 would play the the move played ten times more frequently than the game move, the usual, and standard 3…Bf5. I preferred the game move)

4 dxc5 (Komodo prefers 4 Nf3) 4…e6 (I vaguely recall an article in one of the New In Chess Yearbooks in which the author advocated playing 4…Nc6, which is the most played move. I also recall a GM writing he did not like this move because of the reply 5 Be3. The only one of the Big Three shown at the CBDB is Stockfish, and it plays the game move)

5 a3 (SF at a depth of 38 plays 5 Nf3, but changes it’s…what exactly does Stockfish change? If it were human I could write “mind,” but it’s a machine, so let us just say SF changes it changes it’s “crunching” and leave it at that for the time being because at depth 39 it would play 5 Bd3)

5…Nc6 (In another case of “let it run a little longer” SF would play 5…a6 at depth 41, but at the next level it would play the seldom played 5…Qc7. 5…Bxc5 is the most often played move with the game move a close second. Thirteen games have been played using 5…Qc7)

6 Nf3 Bxc5 7 b4 Bb6 8 Bd3 (Houdini plays 8 Bb2) 8…Nge7 (SF’s move, but Komodo prefers 8…a5)

9 O-O (SF plays 0 Bb3) 9…Ng6 10 Re1 (SF and Komodo play 10 Bb2) 10…0-0 (SF plays 10…a5, while Houdini plays 10…f6)

11 Bb2 f6 12 exf6 gxf6 13 Bxg6 (SF would play 13 c4. The game move is not shown at the CBDB, or 365Chess, so this move is a TN and the game has been taken into the street)

Here is the full game as given:

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 dxc5 e6 5 a3 Nc6 6 Nf3 Bxc5 7 b4 Bb6 8 Bd3 Nge7 9 O-O Ng6 10 Re1 O-O 11 Bb2 f6 12 exf6 gxf6 13 Bxg6 hxg6 14 Qd3 Kg7 15 c4 dxc4 16 Qxc4 e5 17 Nc3 Nd4 18 Nxd4 Qxd4 19 Qe2 Bg4 20 Qf1 Qd2 21 Na4 Qc2 22 Nxb6 axb6 23 Bc1 Qc3 24 Be3 Rxa3 25 Rxa3 Qxa3 26 Qc4 Bf5 27 h3 Qd3 28 Qc7+ Qd7 29 Qxb6 Rc8 30 Qa5 Rc3 31 Kh2 Qc7 32 Qa4 Qd7 33 b5 Bc2 34 Qh4 Qxb5 35 Qh6+ Kf7 36 Qh7+ Ke6 37 Qg8+ Ke7 38 f4 Qb3 39 Qh7+ Qf7 40 Qh4 e4 41 Qf2 Qd5 42 Bd4 Rc4 43 Bb2 g5 44 fxg5 Qxg5 45 Qb6 Qf4+ 46 Kh1 Bd3 47 Qxb7+ Ke6 48 Ba3 Qc7 49 Qb5 Qg3 50 Qe8+ Kf5 51 Rg1 Rc2 52 Qd7+ Kg6 53 Bf8 Qc7 54 Qg4+ Kf7 55 Bh6 Qc8 56 Qg7+ Ke6 57 Ra1 Qc7 58 Qg4+ Kd5 59 Bf4 Qc3 60 Qd7+ Kc4 61 Qc6+ Kb3 1-0

Volokitin, Andrei (2674) vs Grishchenko, Sergey (2431)
Event: 15th ch-EUR Indiv 2014
Site: Yerevan ARM Date: 03/05/2014
Round: 3.49 Score: 0-1
ECO: B12 Caro-Kann, advance variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. Bd3 Nd7 6. Nf3 Ne7 7. O-O Nc6 8. c4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Ndxe5 10. Nxe5 Qxd1 11. Rxd1 Nxe5 12. Bb5+ Bd7 13. Nc3 Bxc5 14. Bf4 Nc6 15. Ne4 Be7 16. Bd6 a6 17. Ba4 b5 18. Nc5 Rd8 19. Bb3 Bc8 20. Bxe7 Kxe7 21. a4 Rxd1+ 22. Bxd1 Rd8 23. axb5 axb5 24. Bf3 Nd4 25. Ra7+ Kf6 26. Ra8 Nxf3+ 27. gxf3 Rd1+ 28. Kg2 Bd7 29. Rb8 Bc6 30. Rb6 Be8 31. Rb8 Ke7 32. Rb7+ Kf8 33. Rb6 Rd2 34. b3 Rd5 35. Ne4 h6 36. Rb8 f5 37. Nc3 Rd3 38. Rc8 Ke7 39. Rc5 b4 40. Na2 Rxb3 41. Rc4 Bh5 42. Rxb4 Bxf3+ 43. Kf1 Rxb4 44. Nxb4 Kf6 45. h4 f4 46. Nd3 Kf5 47. Kg1 Be4 48. Nc5 Bd5 49. Kh2 Kg4 50. Nd3 Be4 51. Nc5 Bf5 0-1

Zaleski, Lukasz (2220) vs Kaczmarek, Aleksander (2380)

Najdorf Mem Open A 2017
Warsaw POL 07/13/2017

ECO: B12 Caro-Kann, advance variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. a3 Qc7 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Bb5 Bxc5 8. b4 Bb6 9. Bb2 Ne7 10. O-O O-O 11. Bd3 Ng6 12. Re1 a5 13. b5 Nce7 14. a4 Bc5 15. g3 f5 16. h4 Bd7 17. Nbd2 Nh8 18. Nb3 b6 19. Nbd4 Nf7 20. Kg2 Rae8 21. Qe2 Nh6 22. Ng5 Ng6 23. f4 Nh8 24. c4 dxc4 25. Bxc4 Qc8 26. Nb3 Bb4 27. Red1 Ng4 28. Bd4 Qb7+ 29. Qf3 Qa7 30. Kg1 h6 31. Nh3 Bc8 32. Qc6 Qf7 33. Qxb6 g5 34. fxg5 f4 35. gxf4 Qh5 36. Bd3 Qxh4 37. Kg2 Re7 38. Be4 Ng6 39. Bf2 Nxf4+ 40. Nxf4 Qh2+ 41. Kf1 Qxf4 42. Rd8 Rf7 43. Ra2 Qxe4 44. Rxf8+ Rxf8 0-1

Dochev, Dimitar (2387) vsManagadze, Nikoloz (2419)
Halkida op 5th
Halkida Date: 11/20/2001

ECO: B12 Caro-Kann, advance variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. a3 Qc7 6. Nf3 Bxc5 7. b4 Bb6 8. Bb2 Ne7 9. Nbd2 Nbc6 10. c4 dxc4 11. Nxc4 O-O 12. Bd3 Ng6 13. O-O Qd8 14. Nxb6 Qxb6 15. Qb1 Rd8 16. h4 Nf8 17. Ng5 g6 18. Ne4 Ne7 19. Bc1 Nf5 20. Bg5 Bd7 21. Bxd8 Rxd8 22. Nf6+ Kg7 23. Bxf5 exf5 24. Rd1 Ba4 25. Rxd8 Qxd8 26. Qb2 a6 27. Qc3 h5 28. Qg3 Qd4 29. Rc1 Ne6 30. Nxh5+ Kh6 31. Rc8 1-0

Pavel Smirnov (2621) vs Alexandr Kharitonov (2503)

2007 Moscow Open

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. a3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bxc5 7. b4 Bb6 8. Bd3 Nge7 9. Bb2 Ng6 10. O-O Nf4 11. c4 O-O 12. Nc3 Ne7 13. Qd2 Nxd3
14. Qxd3 dxc4 15. Qxc4 Qc7 16. Qg4 Bd7 17. Ne4 Bc6 18. Rac1 Qb8 19. Rxc6 bxc6 20. Nf6+ Kh8 21. Nxh7 Nf5 22. Nf6 Nh6 23. Qh3 Bd8 24. Bc1 gxf6 25. Bxh6 Re8 26. exf6 Bxf6
27. Bg5+ 1-0

Konstantin Landa (2570) vs Sergey Kalinitschew

Bundesliga 0607 2006.10.28

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. a3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bxc5 7. b4 Bb6
8. Bd3 Nge7 9. O-O Ng6 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Nbd2 f5 12. Nb3 a6 13. Re1 Qe7 14. c4 dxc4 15. Bxc4 Nh4 16. Rc1 Nxf3+ 17. Qxf3 Bd7 18. Rcd1 Rad8 19. Rd6 Bc8 20. Nc5 Bxc5 21.bxc5 Rde8 22. Bxa6 bxa6 23. Qxc6 Bb7 24. Qd7 Qxd7 25. Rxd7 Bd5 26. Rd6 Rb8 27.Bd4 Rb3 28. Rc1 Rd3 29. Bc3 Rc8 30. Be1 Rxa3 31. c6 Rb3 32. c7 Kf7 33. Rxa6 f4 34. Rd6 Kg6 35. Rd7 h6 36. f3 Rb2 37. h4 h5 38. Bc3 Rb3 39. Bd2 Kf5 40. Rxg7 Kxe5 41. Rg5+ Kd4 42. Bxf4 Kd3 43. Rxh5 Rb4 44. Bd6 Rb6 45. Bg3 Rb2 46. Rg5 1-0

MVL Versus Magnus Carlsen: Fooling Caissa

Two consecutive tournament wins ahead of Carlsen

by André Schulz

Four players were at the top in the Norway Chess tournament at the start of round nine: Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. Caruana and So met each other, while Carlsen was dealt black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Nakamura faced off against Levon Aronian, also with black. Even Viswanathan Anand, with 3½ points, had chances jump into a tie for first with a win, although the 15th World Champion was black as well, against Sergey Karjakin.

Carlsen, was in no mood to take any chances against Vachier-Lagrave. When the game was in full swing on just move 17, the players began repeating moves in a position reached several times before. It certainly played a role that the two players trained together for Carlsen’s 2016 World Championship title defence, as Magnus himself pointed out in the “confession box” (in Norwegian):

The World Champion conceded half the point. Considering his chances to reach a tiebreak as about 50/50, he was content to watch his rivals fight it out.
https://en.chessbase.com/post/norway-chess-2018-round-9

Unfortunately, I do not understand Norwegian so the accompanying video could not be understood. What I do understand is that Magnus Carlsen, rather than fight like a World Champion, decided to be content with a draw. The decision by the HWCC was an insult to Caissa, and a disgraceful act unworthy of a World Champion. What kind of example has Magnus Carlsen set for all the children playing the Royal game? The above noted article at Chessbase seems to take the position, like most of the Chess world, that what Magnus did was perfectly acceptable. Chess is dying by draw, yet one hardly ever notices a discussion concerning the proliferation of draws. THERE ARE NO DRAWS IN THE ANCIENT ORIENTAL GAME OF GO! Before you send that nasty email, I am aware of the triple Ko situation in Go, in which the game is declared drawn. It happens about as often as a leap year, and when it does occur it makes news all around the Go world. Magnus did not have to agree to a draw; he did it because he is the HWC and can do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, without being called out by anyone involved with Chess. Magnus decided to rest on his laurels. As we say in America, Magnus CHICKENED OUT! I would have more respect for the HWCC if he had fought, and lost, while trying to win, rather than meekly acquiescing to a draw.

The moves in the game have been played so many times one cannot help but wonder if the fix was in…Was it a prearranged draw? Let us examine the “game.”

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

vs World Champ Magnus Carlsen

Altibox Norway Chess 2018

Last round, with all the marbles on the line.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a3 (Stockfish at the CBDB shows 8 a4 as the best move)
8…O-O (Although Komodo shows this as the best move, Houdini has 8…Na5 best)

9. Nc3 (One Stockfish program has this as best, but the other prefers 9 Ba2. Komodo shows 9 Re1 as best)

Na5 (The most often move played in this position is 9…Bg4, and it is the choice of the Dragon. Houdini would play 9…Rb8)

10. Ba2 Be6 11. b4 Bxa2 12. Rxa2 Nc6

13. Bg5 (Although the Stockfish program at ChessBomb shows this best at depth 21 after 30 seconds of ‘reflection’, the Stockfish program at the ChessBaseDataBase at depth 30 gives 13 Nd5. Komodo at depth 24 would play 13 h3)

13…Ng4 (SF at the Bomb has this in second behind 13…Nd7. The Fish and the Dragon at the CBDB would play 13…Qd7)

14. Bd2 (The SF at CBDB plays this move, but Komodo would play 13 Be3, a TN. Meanwhile, the SF at ChessBomb would play 14 Bxe7)

14…Nf6

(Let us stop here too reflect a moment. If the Royal game had the Ko rule, as does Go MVL would not be allowed to play 15 Bg5 and repeat the position. MVL would be forced to play elsewhere)

15.Bg5 (SF at CBDB plays 15 Re1; SF at DaBomb would play either 15 Qb1 or Ra1)

Ng4 16. Bd2 Nf6 17. Bg5 1/2-1/2

Pathetically pitiful…

From the above it is apparent there was a plethora of choices each player could have chosen, had they been inclined to do so. They were not so inclined, for whatever reason. To their credit, fellow countrymen Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So played a full-bodied game of Chess, with neither backing down and offering a draw. THEY PLAYED TO WIN!

Magnus Carlsen embarrassed himself and his reputation with his servile acquiescence to split the point. Magnus took a page out of the old Soviet Union Chess playbook when he decided to not fight in the last round of a major tournament held in HIS OWN COUNTRY! Oh, the SHAME…

Since the candidates tournament I have vacillated between the choice of Magnus versus Fabiano to win the upcoming World Human Chess Championship. The fact is that Caruana has shown much more fighting spirit in the tournaments in which the two have battled since the candidates tournament. Fabiano Caruana has demonstrated tremendous FIGHTING ability recently. We Chess fans can only wish the WCC were longer, as in the past. Mikhail Botvinnik considered sixteen games the optimum number of games, and who would know better than the Botvinnik? If it were a sixteen game match, without any speed games in case of a tie, I would wager on Fabi. Magnus is a much superior speed Chess player, so Magnus has draw odds going into the match, which is an unfair advantage. Speed Chess is NOT Chess! It is ABSURD to settle a WCC with speed games. I have often heard that “speed kills.” Speed Chess is killing the Royal game! The title of WCC should NOT be won by playing speed Chess!