How To Draw A Chess Game

Chess is a difficult game, and it has become more difficult to win as the players have become stronger. The best players of today are exponentially stronger than their predecessors, which is only natural because today’s players stand on the shoulders of those who played in the past. When one adds what the computer programs have brought to the game it is obvious the top players of today would crush the best players of yesteryear.

The following games were played in the eight round of the Superbet Romania GCT tournament today. I give only the final position of the games and the number of moves to show how hard and long these players fought trying to win:

GM Wesley So vs GM Alireza Firouzja after White’s 38th move 1/2-1/2 (https://live.followchess.com/#!superbet-romania-gct-2022/919461025)
GM Levon Aronian vs GM Ian Nepomniachtchi after 85…Kc7 1/2-1/2 (https://live.followchess.com/#!superbet-romania-gct-2022/-702608188)
GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac after 56…Kxg4 (https://live.followchess.com/#!superbet-romania-gct-2022/-715444276)
GM Fabiano Caruana vs GM Richard Rapport after 51…Kxf5 (https://live.followchess.com/#!superbet-romania-gct-2022/-39248169)

Contrast these games with the three and four move draws consummated at the most recent tournament at the Charlotte Chess Center (https://wordpress.com/post/xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/11582).

There was one decisive game played at the Superbet tournament today:

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs GM Leinier Dominguez Perez 0-1 43 moves (https://live.followchess.com/#!superbet-romania-gct-2022/-90636053)

Was Daniil Dubov a Secret Agent?

When Norway’s Magnus Carlsen

https://en.chessbase.com/post/world-championship-2021-g11

clinched victory over Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi

Nepomniachtchi: What Went Wrong?
https://www.chess.com/article/view/nepomniachtchi-what-went-wrong

it was revealed that Russian Grandmsaster Daniil Dubov

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/dubov-hits-back-at-accusations-of-betrayal

had once again been a key part of the World Chess Champion’s team of helpers. That saw instant criticism led by Sergey Karjakin, with Sergey Shipov adding that Dubov would “rightly” now never play for the Russian team again. (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/dubov-hits-back-at-accusations-of-betrayal)

In an interview journalist, and FM, Mike Klein asked Nepo the question:

Mike: Is he a double-agent? Is that what you’re saying?

Ian: No, I don’t know. I don’t think he’s a double-agent, obviously, but the results of his work were quite favorable for us.
https://www.chess.com/news/view/ian-nepomniachtchi-on-the-world-chess-championship

Hold on there, Nepo. If the results of his work were favorable why did you lose? Surely Mother Russia must have known Dubov was working with team Magnus because…

Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/sergey-karjakin-magnus-can-psychologically-crumble

was a citizen of Ukraine until relocating to Russia, the country with 175000 troops poised on the border of Ukraine as the world collectively holds its breath at the possible coming of World War III.

Karjakin infamously said, “Magnus “can psychologically crumble.”

What pluses and minuses do you see for both opponents?

“Magnus has more match experience, he’s a more balanced chess player, without visible flaws. He plays almost equally well positionally and tactically, in a dull endgame and in sharp attacking positions.”

“But he does have flaws. When he doesn’t like what’s happening in a tournament he can psychologically collapse, as my match against Magnus showed. He missed wins in two games, and then he started to play significantly worse. He can psychologically crumble if something isn’t going right — he loses confidence in himself and he starts to perform less well than usual.”
https://chess24.com/en/read/news/sergey-karjakin-magnus-can-psychologically-crumble

Nepo was asked, “Were you involved in any psychological preparation during this period?”

“I don’t really understand what psychological preparation means. If it’s needing to have the correct attitude within yourself, then I’ve been preparing since childhood.”

Do you consider the match against Carlsen the match of your life?

“I don’t know. That will depend on the result. After I play it, I’ll tell you.”

Are there nerves?

“Nerves, as a rule, are before the start. From experience I can say that you get them in the first round when you sit down at the board and don’t yet know what kind of form you’re in. In such cases you usually make 2-3 moves and then your body readjusts to its working mode. Nerves, it seems me, also go at that moment. No doubt there will also be nerves when the finish is approaching, but now, before it begins, it’s early to talk about that.”
https://chess24.com/en/read/news/ian-nepomniachtchi-the-result-is-much-more-important-than-the-prize

Let us be honest, Nepo cracked. Before the match everyone knew Nepo had a fragile psyche. The World Chess Champ put it best:

“We spoke a bit during these tournaments, but didn’t have much contact for years, until 2011, when we had a training session together. He was a lowly-rated 2700 player and struggled a bit to make it to the very top. He complained that he didn’t get enough invitations to the best tournaments, and felt that the players at the very top were not better than him. I told him that his problem was that he wasn’t disciplined. He had one good tournament, followed by two bad ones. He could start an event with three wins in the first four rounds, then in his fifth game he would not win a better position, leading to a collapse. A very moody player.”

Carlsen talks about their history and why Nepomniachtchi failed to break through.

As usual, Magnus is less filtered when speaking in his native language. On Nepomniachtchi’s biggest challenge in Dubai, he says:

“In Norway Chess he seemed very strong for the first 3-4 rounds, he had a small setback, and then he collapsed. That’s not something he can allow himself in a World Championship match. I am not going to fall even if I am hit in the face once. Perhaps that will be his biggest challenge, to handle the setbacks that will come, regardless of whether it’s a good position he fails to convert, or a game that he should have held to a draw but ends up losing, or opening preparation that goes wrong — that will be a huge challenge for him.”

The World Champion, who has reigned since 2013 and been the world no. 1 consecutively since 2011, doesn’t think Nepomniachtchi would have won the Candidates if the event hadn’t been split in two.

“Because he lost the last game in the first half of the tournament. He rarely plays well after having lost. Now he managed it eventually and has started to become more pragmatic.”

Carlsen says he considers Nepomniachtchi, the world no. 5, to be “a wild card” and still thinks the no. 3 Fabiano Caruana and no. 2 Ding Liren would pose a bigger challenge for him.

“I would say they are the best. I thought beforehand that anyone else would be a good outcome for me, and I still feel that way.”
https://chess24.com/en/read/news/carlsen-good-outcome-to-face-nepo-not-fabi-or-ding

The one word to describe Magnus Carlsen would be “consistent.” The word to describe Ian Nepomniachtchi would be “erratic.”

Maybe is Nepo had devoted more time to Chess and less to other interests the match result would have been different. Maybe…

Who is Ian Nepomniachtchi, the biggest nerd to ever …
[Search domain gamelevate.com] https://gamelevate.com › who-is-ian-nepomniachtchi
Beyond his excellent skills at the chessboard, Ian Nepomniachtchi is also notable for being the biggest nerd ever to challenge for the world championship title. The Russian has played Dota 2 in a semi-professional capacity around the time of its release and was heavily involved in the original Dota scene as well.

The Chess world needs to come to terms with the fact that the way a challenger is chosen has been corrupted by the Russians. Because the nefarious Russians control world Chess they managed to have a player who was not worthy play in the Candidates tournament. The Candidates match “wild card” 22-year-old Russian Kirill Alekseenko said, “The Candidates wild card should be abolished.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/alekseenko-the-candidates-wild-card-should-be-abolished)

Think about it for only a moment…If Russian dictator Vladimir Putin ordered Alekseenko to lose do you really think there would be any other result?

The fact is the Candidates tournament should not have been started during a pandemic. Then, after it had to be stopped, it should not have been resumed a year later. There has got to be a better way of choosing a challenger. How about a match between the second and third highest rated players? What about a double round robin between the top eight players; The Elite Eight?

Magnus Carlsen’s Biorhythms

Four decades ago a gentleman gave me a book

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ebayimg.com%2Fimages%2Fg%2F7fwAAOSwCl5gPEDc%2Fs-l300.jpg&f=1&nofb=1
BIO-RHYTHM; A PERSONAL SCIENCE By Bernard Gittelson …
ebay.com

after informing me he found it interesting. Although skeptical one of the subjects was former American World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer, and just as Jack suspected, I was hooked.

Before the match began I had compared the biorhythms of both competitors, World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi. From a biorhythm perspective I knew the games played this weekend would be critical to the outcome of the match. After considering writing a post, I decided against it because I once posted something about biorhythms on the USCF forum and was excoriated for so doing. After the post, Biorhythms of Magnus Carsen and Fabiano Caruana (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/biothythms-of-magnus-carlsen-vs-fabiano-caruana/) some questioned my sanity. The following charts are for December 5, 2021:

biorhythm-calculator.net
Nepo
biorhythm-calculator.net
Magnus

No Time For Armageddon

Armageddon
n
1.
a. Bible In the book of Revelation, the place of the gathering of armies for the final battle before the end of the world.
b. The battle involving these armies.

  1. A decisive or catastrophic conflict.
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Armageddon)

Does anyone know who had the brain cramp responsible for producing the idea of an Armageddon Chess game? That must have been one hellofa seizure, with blood clots bursting like fireworks on the fourth of July. There has got to be a better way to determine a “winner” in Chess than the use of the abominable Armageddon game. The fact is that Armageddon Chess means one side can, and probably should, PLAY FOR A DRAW from the get go! In an attempt to decrease the percentage of draws the fools in power have actually INCREASED the chances of a draw! Makes one wonder why the general public considers Chess players to be “smart,” does it not?

The fact that the best human Chess players in the world acquiesce to being made to look clownish while denigrating themselves for money turns them into trained seals. Armageddon is only the symptom, not the disease. Having to resort to Armageddon is the beginning of the end for Chess. Anything would be preferential; even flipping a coin. It would be better to have the opening for each round chosen at random, thereby precluding players from being “booked-up” in their favorite opening as they would then need to know something about everything. MVL would look good when the Najdorf came up, but how would he fare if forced to play the Scandinavian? The players could play two games against an opponent, having white in one and black in the other, playing same opening. Sure, it might be difficult for a GM booked, err, programed up on Queen side type openings to be forced to play the move Bobby Fischer called, “Best by test,” 1 e4, but that is the point.

After that you will wonder why I am presenting the Armageddon game between Karjakin and Nepo played today. Answer is: It is a Bishop’s opening! “The truth as it was known in those long ago days.” If you still have a question punch and poke “Bishop’s Opening” into the box above and be amazed at the theory you will find that would have satiated SM Brian McCarthy, at least for an evening.

https://ruchess.ru/upload/resize_cache/iblock/9db/600_400_1/rnhrkyglyfuumz8d0k27h748iqjyxls7.jpeg
ruchess.ru

Karjakin, Sergey 2758 vs Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2792
Norway Chess Tournament
C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

  1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. exd5 cxd5 9. Bg5 Be6 10. Na3 Nbd7 11. Nb5 Bb8 12. O-O O-O 13. Bh4 h6 14. Re1 Re8 15. d4 e4 16. Nd2 Ra6 17. c4 dxc4 18. Bxc4 Bxc4 19. Nxc4 Qe7 20. d5 Qb4 21. b3 Ne5 22. d6 Nxc4 23. bxc4 Bxd6 24. Bxf6 gxf6 25. Qg4+ Kf8 26. Rxe4 Rxe4 27. Qxe4 Bc5 28. Nc7 Bxf2+ 29. Kf1 Qd2 30. Qf3 Rd6 31. Nb5 Qb2 32. Nxd6 Qxa1+ 33. Kxf2 Qd4+ 34. Ke2 Qxd6 35. Qxb7 Qe5+ 36. Kd3 Qf5+ 37. Qe4 Qf1+ 38. Kd4 Qd1+ 39. Kc5 Qxa4 40. Qb1 Qa3+ 41. Kb5 Kg7 42. c5 a4 43. Qb4 Qb3 44. c6 Qd5+ 45. Kb6 Qb3 46. Kc5 Qe3+ 47. Kb5 Qb3 48. c7 Qd5+ 49. Qc5 Qd7+ 50. Qc6 Qc8 51. Kxa4 h5 52. Kb5 h4 53. Kb6 h3 54. g3 f5 55. Ka7 1-0
    https://live.followchess.com/#!norway-chess-2021/1592152566

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 (This is the main line of the venerable Bishop’s opening, an opening near and dear to my heart as everyone who has followed the AW knows. Nevertheless, if ever faced with the main line again the AW will play a seondary move (at least it’s in second place at 365Chess!) which again, will come as no surprise to regular readers, 4 Qe2! What can I say? I just love to see the look on my opponent’s face any and every time I move the Queen to e2! Insert excrement eatin’ grin here…) 4…d5 5. Bb3 a5 (The choice of StockFish, therefore, main line) 6. a4 6…Bb4+ (Again, the move of the Fish) 7. c3 Bd6 8. exd5 (SF 13 @depth 70(!) takes the pawn, but SF 14 @depth 41 castles) 8…cxd5 9. Bg5 Be6 10. Na3 Nbd7 (Although the most played, 14 games, move, and played by Houdini, SF 13 @depth 73(!) plays 10…Nc6; SF 14 @depth 37 plays 10…h6. There is only one game with this move shown the ChessBaseDataBase until one clicks on. Then digging deeper one finds five games in which both players were at least 2200+ and all were drawn. See Lu vs Yu from the 2020 Chinese Championship below. 10…Nbd7 has held white to 68%; White has brutilized 10…Nc6 to the tune of 75%) 11. Nb5 Bb8 12. O-O (SF plays 12 d4) 12…O-O 13. Bh4 (SF 13 plays 13 Re1; SF 290420 @depth 48 would play 13 Nd2, which would be a NEW MOVE!) 13…h6 14. Re1 Re8 (SF 13 plays 14…Ra6) 15. d4 (SF and Komodo agree that 15 Nd2 is the move)

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vs Yu, Yangyi (2709)
Event: ch-CHN 2020
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 12/29/2020
Round: 10.5
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 cxd5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Na3 h6 11.Bh4 Nc6 12.Nb5 Bb8 13.O-O O-O 14.Re1 Ra6 15.h3 Re8 16.Rc1 Qd7 17.Bg3 Bf5 18.d4 e4 19.Bxb8 Rxb8 20.Ne5 Qe7 21.f4 Be6 22.c4 dxc4 23.Bxc4 Bxc4 24.Rxc4 Rd8 25.Qc1 Rb6 26.Nc3 Nxd4 27.Nxe4 Ne6 28.f5 Nd4 29.Qf4 Rb4 30.Rxb4 axb4 31.Ng4 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4277249

Lu, Shanglei (2619) vs Liu, Guanchu (2366)
Event: TCh-CHN 2016
Site: China CHN Date: 04/14/2016
Round: 3.6
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a3 a4 7.Ba2 Bd6 8.exd5 cxd5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Nc3 Ra5 11.O-O Nc6 12.Re1 O-O 13.h3 h6 14.Bh4 Re8 15.Qd2 d4 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.Ne4 Qd8 18.Bxe6 Rxe6 19.c3 dxc3 20.bxc3 Bf8 21.Qc2 Rd5 22.Red1 f5 23.Ng3 g6 24.h4 Qd7 25.h5 Be7 26.Qxa4 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=3989798

Lu, Shanglei (2640) vs Liu, Guanchu (2459)
Event: ch-CHN 2018
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 04/28/2018
Round: 10.2
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 cxd5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Na3 Nbd7 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.O-O O-O 13.Re1 h6 14.Bh4 Re8 15.d4 e4 16.Nd2 Ra6 17.c4 dxc4 18.Bxc4 Bf4 19.Bxe6 Raxe6 20.d5 R6e7 21.Nc4 g5 22.d6 Re6 23.Bg3 Nb6 24.Ne3 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4113151

Klabis, Rokas (2251) vs Sulskis, Sarunas (2546)
Event: ch-LTU 2016
Site: Vilnius LTU Date: 05/05/2016
Round: 9.4
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Bb3 a5 5.a4 d5 6.Qe2 (! AW) Bd6 7.Bg5 dxe4 8.dxe4 Nbd7 9.Nd2 Nc5 10.Bc4 h6 11.Bh4 O-O 12.Ngf3 Qe7 13.O-O Ne6 14.Bg3 Nh5 15.Bxe6 Bxe6 16.Nc4 f6 17.Nh4 Nxg3 18.hxg3 Bc5 19.Rfd1 Rfd8 20.Ne3 Qf7 21.b3 Kh7 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Rd1 Rxd1+ 24.Nxd1 Qd7 25.Nf3 Bf7 26.Nc3 Kg8 27.Kf1 Kf8 28.Qd2 Qc7 29.Ne1 h5 30.Nd3 Bd4 31.Ne2 Ba7 32.Qc3 Kg8 33.Nb2 Kh7 34.Qd3 b5 35.Nc3 Qb6 36.Nbd1 bxa4 37.Nxa4 Qb5 38.Ke2 Be6 39.c4 Qb4 40.Qc3 Bd4 41.Qxb4 axb4 42.Ne3 g5 43.Nc2 Ba7 44.Nxb4 Bd7 45.c5 Kg7 46.Nb6 Be8 47.Kd2 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3991991&m=10

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vs Liu, Yan (2524)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/08/2021
Round: 2.1 Score: ½-½
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.O-O O-O 10.Nbd2 Bg4 11.Nc4 Qc7 12.d4 e4 13.h3 Bh5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Nfe5 Bxe5 16.Nxe5 Nd7 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.Qe2 f5 19.f4 Kf7 20.c4 Nb4 21.c5+ Nd5 22.Ra3 Nf6 23.Bc4 Qd7 24.Rg3 Rh8 25.Qg2 Rh7 26.gxf5 gxf5 27.Kf2 Kf8 28.Ke2 Nb4 29.Rd1 Rd8 30.Rg6 Nbd5 31.Rg1 e3 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4286102

Lu, Shanglei (2624) vs Liu, Yan (2504)
Event: 18th Asian Continental
Site: Xingtai CHN Date: 06/10/2019
Round: 4.3 Score: ½-½
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.O-O d6 6.Re1 O-O 7.h3 b5 8.Bb3 Nbd7 9.c3 a5 10.d4 a4 11.Bc2 Qc7 12.Bg5 Re8 13.Nbd2 h6 14.Bh4 Nf8 15.Nf1 Ng6 16.Bg3 Bf8 17.Ne3 Qb6 18.Nf5 c5 19.N5h4 Nxh4 20.Bxh4 Nh5 21.Nh2 Nf4 22.Bg3 Ng6 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4197862

Caruana Fires Qe2 at the Berlin Wall!

I give Fabiano Caruana

https://www.insidethegames.biz/media/image/101955/o/Fabiano%20Caruana.jpg

full credit for trying something considered different against the dreaded Berlin defense,

https://www.elkandruby.com/gallery_gen/0620cff1024d68fc93e0d44f28f0cec1_960x1520.jpg

especially when the move was previously played by none other than Bobby Fischer!

In an article at Chess24, Superbet Chess Classic 5: Shakh attack!, by Colin McGourty, one finds: “The other games in Round 5 of the Superbet Chess Classic were all drawn, with Fabiano Caruana’s 8.Qe2!? against the Berlin Defence the only one that’s likely to be remembered.”

“Anish Giri

https://www.buddhichal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/11029509_10153614542891675_8630450749912991276_o-768x511.jpg

had in the previous round explained that his Chessable course on the Sicilian Dragon had come about through some desperate brainstorming over how to win on demand with the black pieces in the Candidates Tournament.”

Whoa! Let us stop right there in the middle of a well written paragraph by Mr. McGourty for some editorial comment. Anish Giri playing the Dragon?! ‘Back in the day’ it was said that books about the Dragon variation were, “written in disappearing ink” because the theory was rapidly changing. Isn’t “Giri” and “win on demand” with either color, but especially black, oxymoronic? Over at the ChessBomb this was found at the “chat” during the second round games:

bobp55: Done – 3 draws today so far. So that’s 8 for 8 in the tourney.
lentil: Amish Girl will always find the draw.
GiriWillFindTheDraw: of course he will (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-grand-chess-tour-romania/02-Giri_Anish-Radjabov_Teimour)

Like it or not Mr. Giri has the reputation of being his generations Master of the Draw. The only thing Anish can do to eradicate the reputation is win the World Championship, as did a previous Grandmaster with a reputation as a drawing master, Tigran Petrosian.

https://www.elkandruby.com/gallery_gen/dfae8ee5a0ff679a9f1c36815af55406_932x1412.jpg

Unfortunately, putting up the Berlin wall will do nothing to eradicate his reputation and the drawmeister.

We return to the paragraph by Colin: “Perhaps some similar logic had gone into a way to surprise someone in that most solid of all variations, the Berlin Defence. Just when queens were about to leave the board for the infamous ending, Fabi veered off course with 8.Qe2!?, a move almost 30 times less popular.”

The game can be found at Chess24, and a plethora of other websites on the web, so I will present other games to complement the Chess24 article. First we will begin with a picture of Bobby Fischer playing Neikirkh, at Portorož 1958, posted by Douglas Griffin @dgriffinchess at Twitter:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E3cJEo1WQAcgYb7?format=jpg&name=small

Fischer, Robert James vs Neikirkh, Oleg
Event: Portoroz Interzonal
Site: Portoroz Date: ??/??/1958
Round: 1
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qe3 Qxe3 12.Bxe3 Bb4 13.Ne4 Bf5 14.c3 Bxe4 15.cxb4 a5 16.bxa5 Rxa5 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2541935

Qe2 can and has been played on the fifth move:

Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2792) vs Radjabov, Teimour (2765)
Event: FTX Crypto Cup KO 2021
Site: chess24.com INT Date: 05/30/2021
Round: 3.12
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Qe2 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Qxe5+ Qe7 8.Qa5 Qd8 9.Qe5+ Qe7 10.Qa5 Qd8 11.Qe5+ ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4287585

Although played with much less time for the game at the Crypto (Didn’t that stuff kill Superman?) Cup, it would have fit right in at the Superbet what with the “New Rule” in place at this tournament:

To promote competitive play during all GCT events, it will not be permitted for players to offer or agree to a draw in any game of a 2021 GCT event, including playoff games. In the event of a claim for a draw under Article 9.2 of the Laws (three-fold repetition) or under Article 9.3 of the Laws (50 move rule), one of the Event Arbiters must be asked by the players to verify the claim.

As Mr. Mr. McGourty wrote earlier:

“That doesn’t stop draws by 3-fold repetition of the position, however, which is how all the games were drawn in Round 2.”

Giri is not the only Grandmaster who will find a way…

Here is another game, a real rarity, played with Oe2 on the fifth move:

Naiditsch, Arkadij (2727) vs Akopian, Vladimir (2681)
Event: World Teams 2013
Site: Antalya TUR Date: 12/02/2013
Round: 6.3
ECO: C67 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence, open variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Qe2 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Qxe5+ Qe7 8.Qa5 Qd8 9.Qc3 Be6 10.Re1 Qd7 11.Ng5 O-O-O 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.d3 Be7 14.Nd2 Bf6 15.Qb3 Nf5 16.Ne4 Be7 17.Bd2 Qd5 18.Bc3 Rhe8 19.Re2 b5 20.Ng3 Nxg3 21.hxg3 Bf6 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Qc3 e5 24.a4 a6 25.axb5 axb5 26.Ra7 Kd7 27.Qa5 Rc8 28.Re4 Re7 29.Qd2 Rg8 30.c4 Qd6 31.Rh4 e4 32.cxb5 cxb5 33.Qa5 Rg5 34.dxe4 Rc5 35.Kh2 Qd3 36.Qe1 Rc2 37.Ra1 Qe2 38.Qb4 Qxf2 39.Qxb5+ c6 40.Qb7+ Ke6 41.Qc8+ Kd6 42.e5+ Kxe5 43.Rh5+ f5 44.Ra5+ Ke4 45.Rh4+ Ke3 46.Ra3+ Ke2 47.Qa6+ Ke1 48.Ra1+ Kd2 49.Qa5+ 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=3875034

Here is a game located at the ChessBaseDataBase, which is an even more rare event in the Berlin world, a win with black!

N. Illijan (2290) vs D. Sifrer (2240)

SLO chT 1993

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qe2 Nd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. h3 Be6 11. Rd1 Qc4 12. Rd3 Be7 13. b3 Qh4 14. Bg2 Bg5 15. Rd4 g4 16. Ba3 Rd8 17. Rxd8+ Bxd8 18. hxg4 h5 19. g5 Rg8 20. Bc1 Bxg5 21. Nd2 Bf4 22. Qf3 Bd5 23. Ne4 Bxe4 24. Qxf4 Rxg2+ 25. Kf1 Rg1+ 0-1
    https://database2.chessbase.com/

Now a couple of games found only after a trip in the Wayback time machine:

Mr Peabody's Wayback Machine | NastyZ28.com

Mackenzie, George Henry vs Riemann, Fritz
Event: DSB-04.Kongress
Site: Hamburg Date: ??/??/1885
Round: 4
ECO: C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.O-O Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.c3 Qh4 11.Be3 Be6 12.Nd2 Be7 13.f4 Bf5 14.Nf3 Qh5 15.Qf2 O-O 16.h3 Qg6 17.Kh2 h5 18.Rad1 Rfd8 19.Bd4 Rd7 20.Rde1 Rd5 21.c4 Rdd8 22.b3 b6 23.e6 fxe6 24.Ne5 Qe8 25.g4 hxg4 26.hxg4 Bxg4 27.Rh1 Bf6 28.Nxg4 Bxd4 29.Qc2 Qh5+ 30.Kg3 Qf5 31.Qe2 Rd6 32.Rh5 Qxh5 33.Nf6+ Bxf6 34.Qxh5 Rad8 35.c5 Rd2 36.Re2 R2d3+ 37.Kg2 R3d5 38.Qg4 Rxc5 39.Qxe6+ Kf8 40.Kf3 Rh5 41.Qxc6 Rh3+ 42.Kg4 Rh4+ 43.Kf5 Rh5+ 44.Kg4 Rh4+ ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2693274

Mackenzie, George Henry vs Berger, Johann Nepomuk
Event: DSB-04.Kongress
Site: Hamburg Date: ??/??/1885
Round: 6 Score: ½-½
ECO: C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d4 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.O-O Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Kh1 Be7 11.Nc3 Be6 12.Rd1 Qc4 13.Qe1 Rd8 14.Be3 O-O 15.b3 Qa6 16.Rxd8 Rxd8 17.Ne2 Bf5 18.c4 Qa3 19.Nd4 Bg6 20.f4 Bc5 21.Qf2 Bxd4 22.Bxd4 Bf5 23.h3 b6 24.Re1 Qa5 25.Rc1 Qa3 26.Be3 Qe7 27.g4 Be4+ 28.Kh2 c5 29.Re1 Bb7 30.Bc1 Rd3 31.Be3 h6 32.Qg3 Qd7 33.f5 Qc6 34.Qf2 Qf3 35.Qxf3 Bxf3 36.Bf4 Rd7 37.Kg3 Bb7 38.h4 Rd3+ 39.Be3 Kf8 40.Kf4 g6 41.e6 Ke7 42.exf7 Kxf7 43.g5 h5 44.Ke5 gxf5 45.Kxf5 Rd6 46.Kf4 Bc8 47.Rf1 Kg6 48.Kg3 Bf5 49.Bf4 Rd3+ 50.Kf2 Rd4 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2693289

https://worldchesshof.org/hof-inductee/george-henry-mackenzie

An Open Letter To Vladimir Putin

Mr. Putin,

Would you prefer to be called Vlad, or Impaler?

Now that one of your favorites, Ian Nepomniachtchi, has lost a game, while coughing his head off:

Coughing but winning: Russia’s ‘unwell’ Nepo destroys Chinese rivals & surges into World Chess Candidates lead
24 Mar, 2020 10:58
https://www.rt.com/sport/483928-world-chess-candidates-ian-nepomniachtchi/

and Alexander Grischuk has stated:

‘I don’t want to be here’ – Russian GM Grischuk asks for Candidates to be called off
https://www.espn.com/chess/story/_/id/28942387/russian-grandmaster-asks-chess-tournament-candidates-called-off

that leaves only one Russian player left attempting to hold up the ‘honor’ of your beloved Mother F’n Russia, your ‘boy’ Kirill ‘Shill’ Alekseenko,

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/alekseenko-the-candidates-wild-card-should-be-abolished

currently tied for last place, the ‘wild card’ who should never have been allowed to play in such a prestigious event. Even the young man, who stated,  “The Candidates wild card should be abolished”, knows he does not belong.

Of two other Russian players, Nepo, one is physically sick, possibly infecting the other players and officials as I write, and the other, Grischuk, is obviously mentally weakened, with the possibility of becoming a ‘basket case’.

https://cdni.rt.com/files/2020.03/article/5e763331203027015b610134.JPG

Holding the tournament has done, and will continue to do irreparable harm to the Royal Game. By insisting the tournament be played you have greatly insulted Caissa. Your gambit did not work, Vlady.

Headlines such as the following have prompted emails from readers of this blog asking, “What is wrong with Chess?”

Players unhappy as Candidates chess continues

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/74781974.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

You, sir, Vlad the Impaler, are what is wrong with Chess!

Chess players have been taught by the famous example of former World Chess Champion Jose Capablanca

José_Raúl_Capablanca_young

to immediately correct a weak move by returning the piece to the previous square. Holding the Candidates tournament during this time of crisis when every other game or sport has been cancelled was a mistake. Admit your mistake and give the order to your minion, FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich,

https://en.chessbase.com/portals/all/2020/03/Candidates-Tournament/pressconf/dvorkovich.jpg

to END THIS FARCE NOW BEFORE IT BECOMES A TRAGEDY!

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don’t It?

Candidates Tournament opens as Kramnik says it should have been postponed

The 2020 Candidates Tournament was officially opened today in Yekaterinburg, though all 8 players exercised their right not to attend the ceremony to avoid any coronavirus risk. 14th World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik pulled out of commentary on chess24, telling us tonight, “I strongly believe the Candidates Tournament should have been postponed considering the nowadays disastrous humanitarian situation in the world.” The event will go on for now, however, and we have Magnus Carlsen and Peter Svidler joining for Round 1.

Is this the new normal? Ian Nepomniachtchi in a mask as the players inspect the venue | photo: Lennart Ootes, official website

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/candidates-tournament-opens-as-kramnik-calls-playing-now-humanly-wrong

The Immoral Chess Game

The 2019 Jerusalem Grand Prix began yesterday. Every game was drawn. The following “game”, and I use the word loosely,  was the first to finish.

Ian Nepomniachtchi vs Boris Gelfand

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 Be7 5. d3 d6 6. Nd2 Nf6 7. Nd5 O-O 8. Nf1 Nxd5 9. Bxd5 Be6 10. Ne3 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 (SF 10 @depth 60 plays the game move; SF 180516 @depth 42 plays 3…e6, the most often played move. Komodo prefers 3…g6) 4. Bc4 Be7 (SF 10 @depth 49 plays the move in the game, while SF 261119 prefers 4…d6) 5. d3 d6 (Houdini plays this move but Stockfish prefers 5…Nf6) 6. Nd2 (Houdini plays the most often played move according to the CBDB, 6 0-0. Stockfish 10 plays the seldom played 6 h3) 6…Nf6 (SF 8 @depth 39 plays the game move, but SF 220619 @depth 50 prefers 6…Bg5. See Petrosian vs Smirnov below) 7. Nd5 (This is a TN. 7 Nf1 is the choice of Stockfish and 99% of human players. There must be a reason…)

Tigran L Petrosian (2573) vs Pavel Smirnov (2623)

Event: EU-Cup 22nd
10/12/2006

ECO: B30 Sicilian defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 d6 6.Nd2 Bg5 7.h4 Bh6 8.Qh5 Qd7 9.Nd5 Rb8 10.c3 Qd8 11.Ne3 Qf6 12.Ndf1 Nge7 13.Ng4 Bxg4 14.Qxg4 Bxc1 15.Rxc1 b5 16.Bb3 c4 17.Bc2 cxd3 18.Bxd3 b4 19.cxb4 Nxb4 20.Bb1 Nxa2 21.Bxa2 Rxb2 22.Rc8+ Nxc8 23.Qxc8+ Qd8 24.Qc6+ Ke7 25.Qd5 Qc8 26.Bc4 Rb1+ 27.Ke2 Qe6 28.Ne3 Rb2+ 29.Kf3 Rc8 30.Ra1 Qxd5 31.Nxd5+ Kd8 32.Bd3 Rb7 33.h5 Rc5 34.Ra6 Kd7 35.g3 f5 36.Ke3 g5 37.h6 f4+ 38.Kf3 Rb3 39.Rxa7+ Kd8 40.Kg4 Rxd3 41.Rxh7 fxg3 42.fxg3 Rc4 43.Rh8+ 1-0

What the fans of the Royal game thought about the Nepo v Gelfand game can be found in the “chat” section of the ChessBomb:

1UpliftMofo: first!
VLADACVAL: Go Ian!
Manolo: Go Boris ! Pas de cadeau !
190tkc: Boris!!
shtighnits: Congrats. This game was a real masterpiece.
Owy: inspiring game
VLADACVAL: bad, Ian, very bad
VSyl23: Ian is really not Candidates material…
Owy: maybe we can call this “Gelfand’s immortal”?
LeVieuxKorsoerer: Rather “Gelfand’s immoral one”
LeVieuxKorsoerer: But Ian is to blame all the same
shtighnits: Games like these should be sent to all organizers and financial supporters of chess tournaments.
Arbitru: Fighting spirit…
Feanor: Nepo n’a pas l’air motivé
Bonifratz: brilliancy prize candidate
da96103: Ian draws so fast with white? He needs at least 11 points from this tourney, or is he counting on the wildcard.
Sasori: nepo just wants to go to rapid as quickly as possbile, needs to win event
kosnik: Nepo will be the wild card
rofl: he’s just trying to avoid trouble in Israel
Seneca: What an absolute shame!
shtighnits: My sixty miserable draws.

https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-jerusalem-grand-prix/1-01-Nepomniachtchi_Ian-Gelfand_Boris

New In Chess magazine, still the best Chess magazine on the planet, posed this question to Simen Agdestein in the “Just Checking” section that ends every issue:

If you could change any thing in the chess world, what would it be?

Simen Agdestein: “Stop agreed draws. That’s match-fixing and cheating and not OK.”

 

Ian Nepomniachtchi Interview: ‘I Dislike Players Who Buy And Sell Games’‎

https://www.chess.com/article/view/ian-nepomniachtchi-chess-interview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Old Friends and the Buddy-Buddy Draw at the Moscow Grand Prix

Although I have intentionally not followed the ongoing Moscow Grand Prix event my old friend the legendary Georgia Ironman has followed it because it did begin with a couple of games of what is now called “classical” Chess before devolving into what is called “rapid Chess” before devolving further into “speed” Chess. Frankly, I could care less about which player is best at faster time controls. The only thing that matters is who is best at a classical time control. Say what you will about Magnus Carlsen but the fact is that he could not beat either Sergey Karjakin or Fabiano Caruana at classical Chess, something to keep in mind when talking about the best Chess player of all time.

In an article at Chessbase by Antonio Pereira recently, dated 5/18/2019, it is written: “Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Radek Wojtaszek won with the white pieces at the start of the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow, which means Levon Aronian, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov will need to push for a win on Saturday if they want to survive the first round. Three match-ups ended with quick draws, while Peter Svidler and Anish Giri accepted the draws offered by Nikita Vitiugov and Daniil Dubov in games that could have easily kept going.”

The article continues:

“Better than losing and worse than winning”

“A lot of criticism followed the 2011 Candidates Tournament in Kazan, in which the knock-out format led to some players openly using a safe-first strategy by signing quick draws in the classical games and putting all on the line in the tie-breaks. In order to discourage the players from using this strategy, the organizers are awarding an extra point in the Grand Prix overall standings for those who eliminate their opponents needing only two games. In the first game of the opening round in Moscow, four out of eight encounters ended peacefully after no more than 23 moves.”

The so-called “strategy” of the organizers had absolutely no effect on the players who continue to agree to short draws with impunity whenever and wherever they want, regardless of what organizers or fans want to see from them. Are the players aware their “inaction” is killing the Royal game? Do they care?

Exhibit one:

Teimour Radjabov (AZE)

vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA)

Moscow Grand Prix 2019 round 01

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 b5 8. a4 b4 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. Nxc4 c5 11. dxc5 Be4 12. Qd1 ½-½

Sergey Karjakin (RUS) – Alexander Grischuk (RUS)

Moscow Grand Prix 2019 round 01

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. a4 Bd6 7. a5 O-O 8. Be2 e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. O-O Bc7 12. Qb3 Nc6 13. a6 bxa6 14. Qa4 ½-½

The article continues:

“It must be added that Nikita Vitiugov had what seemed like a considerable advantage against Peter Svidler when he surprisingly offered a draw.

Both contenders are part of the Mednyi Vsadnik team from Saint Petersburg, which won the last two editions of the Russian Team Championship and are the current European champions. Vitiugov has also worked for Svidler as a second more than once. The long-time friends talked about how unfortunate it was for them to be paired up immediately in round one, although Svidler confessed that, “[he] somehow had a feeling that [they] would play at least one [match], and particularly in Moscow”.


Good old friends from Saint Petersburg | Photo: World Chess

“Regarding the position shown in the diagram, Peter recounted how he was thinking about 18.f4 being a move that would leave him worse on the board. So, when the move was accompanied by a draw offer, he thought, “yeah, that’s a good deal!” And the point was split then and there.

To accept the draw was a good match strategy? Peter wittily added:

“As for match strategy, I envy people who have strategies of any kind. I don’t have any. I thought I was worse and then I was offered a draw, so I took it.”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/moscow-grand-prix-2019-r1-d1


http://www.espn.com/espnw/news-commentary/slideshow/13596920/13-major-showdowns-serena-venus-williams

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, have had to play each other many times during their storied tennis careers, and each and every time there has been a winner because offering a draw is not in the tennis rule book. What is it doing in the Chess rule book?

Chess organizers better wake up because Chess is in a battle with the game of Go and if the trend continues, like the Highlander, there will be only one left standing.

The Najdorf in Black and White: A Review

Because of having played the Najdorf system during my formative years in the last century I was interested in learning about GM Bryan Smith’s new book on the opening (https://mongoosepress.com/the-najdorf-in-black-and-white/).

I met Bryan

at the 2009 Kentucky Open where he took first place by a half point. There were myriad problems with the tournament, directed by Alan Priest, which included no electricity for the lighting in the first couple of rounds, so it was played in semi-darkness, which seemed to not bother Mr. Priest. After developing a splitting headache, due to the poor lighting, and losing a game, I withdrew from the tournament, but returned the following day to spectate. While Bryan was waiting on the last round games to finish a conversation developed. Bryan is a quite, taciturn young man, the kind of fellow who lets his moves do his talking. I learned he was from Anchorage Alaska, and he is now the first-ever Grandmaster from Alaska. My home state of Georgia has yet to produce a home-grown GM. I recall asking Bryan why he decided to travel to Louisville in lieu of playing in one of the other, larger, tournaments in his area. He answered in a way that said he would rather be a big fish in a small pond that weekend rather than being a smaller fish in a much larger pond. “Better odds of taking home money?” I asked, and he produced a grin. We talked for some time and I transcribed what was recalled of the conversation later that day, but never used it, much to my regret. Bryan graciously answered my questions so what I recall was an enjoyable afternoon conversation with one of the nicest GM’s with whom I have conversed.

I have replayed many Nadjorf games since moving on to playing other openings, but have not devoted time studying the Nadjorf system with the intensity shown earlier when playing the system. For some time I have wanted a book to read on the system in order to compare the way the system is played now as opposed to how it was played last century, but the books are usually dense and voluminous, with a heavy emphasis on variations. Some of the books could be used as a doorstop. When my review copy, published by Mongoose Press (https://mongoosepress.com/), arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only a small volume of 162 pages. The book is heavy on words, and ideas, rather than being yet another “data-dump.” Some have written books like the magnificent Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953,

by David Bronstein,

et al, cannot be published today because words, conveying ideas, are predominate. This book proves those writers wrong. Most of the variations included are short enough one does not need a board with which to visualize them. One of the players from my early days told me he liked to read a Chess book without using a board. There are enough diagrams for one to utilize this book in that way, which is exactly how I read the book. Then I read it again using a board and pieces because it is that good.

The book begins with an Introduction: The Cadillac of Openings.

“With this book, I present a collection of games played in the Najdorf Sicilian. The purpose of this book is not to be exhaustive – that would require at least ten times the content, and even then it would not encompass a fraction of the analysis and relevant games played in the Najdorf. This book also does not suggest a repertoire for either White or Black – although players can glean some ideas, since I have generally picked games played in the lines I favor. I think it is dishonest for a writer to try to portray an opening in only a positive light: ultimately, even the most objective writers of repertoire books have to massage the facts and minimize the problems of an opening – and every opening has them.

The purpose of this book, rather, is to show how to play the Najdorf, with White or Black, through archetypal games. I believe that by studying the games in this book, one can develop a solid general sense of the different types of game resulting from the Najdorf as played in the twenty-first century. It is my hope that readers will also gain some degree of enjoyment or entertainment from the games, which have been selected not only on their instructional merits, but also for their aesthetic value.”

The book will be judged by the criteria chosen by the author. The question is whether Bryan delivered on his promise. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Baseball terms this book is like hitting a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series!

Bryan continues the introduction. “Having a lifelong opening that one knows inside and out like one’s own house is a major advantage to a chess player. It means that the player can always rely on reaching position that he understands in general terms and knows something about. Perhaps more importantly, though, it gives confidence.”

Reading the above caused me to reflect upon my early days playing the Najdorf. I have never felt as confident playing any opening as I did when playing the Najdorf system. Why did I stop playing the Najdorf system? Bryan continues the introduction, “A sufficiently rich opening will provide immunity against the winds of theory – if one variation is refuted, another can be found, so long as the opening is built on proper principles. I believe the Najdorf can be such an opening. Some may imagine that is is a theoretical labyrinth, suitable only for those with an incredible memory and a willingness to play twenty or more moves of known theory before beginning the game. It is true that there are certain lines in the Najdorf where this is the norm – for instance, the Poisoned Pawn Variation (6.Bg5 e6 7,f4 Qb6). However, the reader will see in this book that these variations can be sidestepped, and that it is indeed possible to play the Najdorf “by the light of nature,” with experience providing a guide. Most of the games I have chosen feature ways of avoiding these quagmires. Despite its sharpness, the Najdorf is an opening built on solid positional principles. It is basically a positional opening.”

When first beginning the Chess road the Dragon variation was very popular. Once a strong player advocated against purchasing a book on the Dragon because “It is written in disappearing ink.” He said that because the theory was changing so fast by the time you read the book, much of it had been refuted. The same could have been said about the Najdorf system. I also recall reading something about there being players who knew the Najdorf, but did not know Chess. I was one of those people, because like others, I knew the Najdorf, but not Chess. After leaving Chess for Backgammon, upon my return to Chess I simply did not have time to keep abreast of the constantly changing theory of the Najdorf system, so decided to learn, and play, other openings. Yet what I learned about Bobby Fischer’s favorite opening has stuck with me, while the other openings never infused me with the confidence felt when playing the Najdorf system.

After the introduction, and before the first chapter, one finds, The Development Of the Najdorf Sicilian, a seven page historical perspective of the Najdorf system. It begins, “The Najdorf can trace its origins to the nineteenth-century German master Louis Paulsen.

Paulsen was an innovator of defense. In an era when 1.e4 e5 was the dominant opening and direct attacking play was the main method of winning, Paulsen understood the concept of asymmetrical play and counterattack. His openings and positional play were often a full century ahead of their time.”

Louis Paulsen was one of the most interesting, and underappreciated, players from the early days of the nineteenth century. Paulsen’s ideas influenced the development of the Royal game greatly. I played openings such as the C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation, for example.

Bryan gives a game between Lewis Isaacs and Abraham Kupchick played at Bradley Beach in 1928, writing, “A forgotten 1928 game from a tournament in the U. S. might be the first use of the “real” Najdorf.”

Lewis Isaacs vs Abraham Kupchik

Bradley Beach 1928

ECO: B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 b5 7. Bf3 e5 8. Nb3 Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Re1 O-O 12. Rc1 Nb6 13. Na5 Rb8 14. Nxb7 Rxb7 15. b3 Rc7 16. Qd3 Nbd7 17. Be3 Nc5 18. Qd1 Qa8 19. Bg5 Ncd7 20. Nb1 h6 21. Bd2 Rfc8 22. Ba5 Rc6 23. g3 Nc5 24. Nc3 Bd8 25. Bxd8 Rxd8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 Qc8 28. Red1 Ne6 29. Bg4 Rc5 30. Qd2 Rc3 31. Re1 Qc5 32. Re3 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Ng5 34. Qd3 d5 35. exd5 Rxd5 36. Qe2 Qc3 37. h4 Rd2 38. Qe1 Ne4 39. Bf5 Nf2 40. Bd3 Nxd3 41. cxd3 Qxd3 42. Rc8+ Kh7 43. Rc1 f5 44. a4 b4 45. g4 Re2 0-1

He culminates the chapter with, “Despite the opening’s great popularity and constant use at the top level for many decades, the Najdorf remains mysterious and has its unexplored areas, with the new ideas waiting to be born. Its attraction for the chess professional today is easy to understand, since it is an opening where it is possible to play for a win with Black, while it is also unquestionably sound. Although positionally and tactically very sharp, the Najdorf player still controls his own fate.”

Chapter one is titled, Va Banque: 6.Bg5. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 the author advocates Qc7. I never played any move other than 7…Be7 because, well, you know, that is the move played by Bobby Fischer. After studying the games, and positions, I came to understand why the author would advocate the move Qc7 for those taking their first Najdorf steps. The amount of material in the main line can be daunting for a neophyte. The fourth game of the chapter is one in which the author had white against Hristos Banikas at Retymnon in 2009. After the obligatory first five moves of the Najdorf Bryan played 6 Bg5, which was answered with Nbd7. “An old and new move – it was played frequently in the 1950s and again in the 2010s – and not so much in-between.” After 7 f4 we have Qc7.

The other chapters are:

2) The Classicist’s Preference: 6 Be2
3) Add Some English: 6 Be3
4) In Morphy’s Style: 6 Bc4
5) White to Play and Win: 6 h3
6) Systematic: g3
7) Healthy Aggression: 6 f4
8) Action-Reaction: 6 a4
9) Odds and Ends

To illustrate what I mean by the use of words, in lieu of variations, to explain what is happening on both sides of the board, look at the position from Game 11: Zaven Andriasian-Ian Nepomniachtchi, played at the 2010 Aeroflot Open in Moscow. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3

The reader finds, “The retreat of the knight to f3 rather than b3 changes nothing in the structure (at least not right away), but the choice of this square has a dramatic effect on the course of the game. In contrast to 7. Nb3, putting the knight on f3 leads to much quieter, more positional play, where White tries t dominate the d5 square. And why is this? Whereas 7.Nb3 allows for White to play f2-f3 with queen-side castling and a king-side pawn storm, after 7,Nf3 this is not possible. White will almost certainly castle king-side. In the meantime, b3 is left free as a retreat square for the bishop from c4. Consequently, rather than opposite-side castling and mutual attacks, you get a more positional struggle.”

Another fine example is from Game 14, Nigel Short

vs Garry Kasparov,

PCA World Championship, game 8, London 1993: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. f4 Nc5 9. e5 dxe5 10. fxe5 Nfd7 11. Bf4 b5

“In this way, Black places the bishop on its best diagonal (the long diagonal) before White can prevent it by Qd1-f3. Such a position might look good for White on the surface-the e5-pawn confers some space advantage and White has rapid development, plus the f-file is open and the white pieces are placed in threatening-looking positions. But such is the poison of the Sicilian. Black too has his advantages, and they tend to be more long-lasting. The bishop which will come to b7 will be very well placed. The advanced e5-pawn is not only a strength, but a weakness. And most importantly, Black has a well placed knight on c5 and a substantial advantage in space on the queen-side – the advance…b5-b4 is constantly looming over White, and the b3-bishop, if not activated in some dramatic fashion, could turn out to be a complete dud.”

One can turn to almost any page and find nuggets of wisdom such as the above illustrating the aims of BOTH SIDES! If one wishes to play the Najdorf system, or play against it, this is the book for you.

The author has dug deep, unearthing this game, found in the notes to Game 24, Judit Polgar

vs Dariusz Swiercz,

which I was unable to locate in any database. Bryan writes, “6…e6 is likely to be met by 7.g4, which looks like a fairly promising line for White – although 7…Nc6 is another possibility for Black to look into. Instead, the originator of 6.Qf3, American master Andrew Karklins, liked to continue with 7.b3. His record against grandmasters with this line was not very good, but he did have one major scalp:

Andrew Karklins

vs Peter Svidler,

World Open 1995

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Qf3 e6 7. b3 Qb6 8. Nde2 Qc7 9. Bb2 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. g4 d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13.
Bg2 Nd7 14. O-O Bd6 15. Qh3 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 Be5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Rad1 O-O 19.Qe3 Bb8 20. Ne4 Ne5 21. Bxe5 Bxe5 22. Nc5 Qc7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Rd7 Qb6 25. Rfd1 Rfd8 26. b4 a5 27. Qf3 axb4 28. axb4 Kf8 29. Kg2 Rdc8 30. R1d6 Qb8 31. Qd3 1-0

This book achieves its aim, hitting the target with a bullseye!