Make A Draw And Belly Up To The Bar

In the fourth round of the recently completed Hollywood Chess Norm Classic! ( the following game was played:

IM Victor Matviishen 2490

vs GM Aleksey Sorokin 2541
  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Qe2 h6 8. Bh4 g6 9. f4 e5 10. fxe5 dxe5 11. O-O-O Qc7 12. Nb3 b5 13. Rxd7 Nxd7 14. Nd5 Qb8 15. Bf6 Nxf6 16. Nxf6+ Ke7 17. Nd5+ Ke8 18. Nf6+ Ke7 19. Nd5+ Ke8 1/2-1/2!1000gm-hollywood–2022/1784075715

It was the move 6…Nbd7 that attracted my attention, not 7 Qe2. When playing the Najdorf what now seems like another lifetime ago I invariably played 6…e6, which was the preferred move of Bobby Fischer, and now Stockfish, or at least the Stockfish program utilized by Although 7…h6 has been the most often played move by we humans, Stockfish plays 7…b5. Again humans place this move below the move played in the game and 7…e6 and 7…Qc7. After 8 Bh4 Stockfish shows 8…Qc7 as best. Yet GM Sorokin played 8…g6, which has been the most often played move by human players. Then comes a series of moves of which Stocky approves, until after 12…b5, when the program would play 13 a3. After 14…Qb8 Stocky would play 15 Na5, but the IM chose to make a draw. This has all been seen previously:

Dmitry Kryakvin (2589) vs Aleksandr Rakhmanov (2647)

Event: TCh-FIN 2018-19
Site: Finland FIN Date: 04/05/2019
Round: 9.1
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Ke7 19.Nd5+ Ke8 20.Nf6+ Ke7 ½-½

Shardul Gagare (2468) vs Shalmali Gagare (2100)
Event: XXIX Elgoibar GM 2019
Site: Elgoibar ESP Date: 12/14/2019
Round: 4.4
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd2+ Qd6 20.Qa5+ Qc7 21.Qd2+ Qd6 22.Qa5+ Qc7 23.Qd2+ Qd6 ½-½

Yi Xu (2527) vs Yi Wei (2732)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/07/2021
Round: 1.4
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd2+ Qd6 20.Qa5+ Qc7 21.Qd2+ Qd6 22.Qa5+ Qc7 23.Qd2+ Qd6 ½-½

And this will no doubt be seen again, and again, and again… It will be used, especially after this post, by anyone and everyone with a desire to draw. It is the perfect game with which to make a draw because who would ever expect the venerable Najdorf variation, the favorite of World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer because it was a fighting defense that could be used to win with the Black pieces, to be used to make a “quick” draw? The game can last twenty moves, so older, weaker, Grandmasters, like Julio Becerra and Jacob Aagaard ( can make a peaceful, short draw and not have Chess writers rake them over the coals for being old and weak by playing two moves and calling it a day, err…draw.

In the excellent book, Seven Games, by Oliver Roeder,

the first chapter concerns the game, Checkers. It is written: “Competitive tournament checkers games begin with the drawing of a card from a deck. The familiar game, played in living rooms and school cafeterias, with its initial checkers starting in the traditional formation shown below, is known on the competitive circuit as go-as-you-please, or GAYP. But expert players know this version so well that any game can be effortlessly steered toward a draw. To combat this, the first three moves of a typical competitive game are determined randomly by drawing a card from a predetermined deck of opening moves. This version of checkers is known as three-move ballot or, simply, “three-move.” This variation has been played for the game’s most prestigious titles. Checkers openings come with colorful names: the White doctor, the Octopus, the Skull Cracker, the Rattlesnake, and the Rattlesnake II. There are 174 possible three-moves openings in checkers, but not all of these appear in the deck. Some would simply give too big an advantage to one side or the other, resulting in lopsided and, uninteresting play. The deck currently sanctioned by the American Checkers Federation ( contains 156 openings,each of which seasons the game with its own unique favor. Some of them remain bland, typically leading to uneventful draws. But some of them are sharp, bestowing on one side an instant advantage. In those sharp games, it is incumbent upon one player to attack, and upon the other player to fight for his life.” Top players have all this memorized, of course, along with lengthy continuations beyond the third move. Whatever checkers lacks in complexity compared to, say, chess, its top players make up for in depth (itl). Elite players can often see some twenty, thirty, or even forty moves ahead. This is what Tinsley meant when he said that playing checkers was like staring down a bottomless well.”

It has been obvious for decades that Chess has a draw problem. The problem has only gotten worse with the utilization of the computer Chess programs, and the problem will continue to grow, and fester, until it sucks the life out of the game of Chess, just as it sucked the life out of the game of Checkers. The problem is obvious. Players are awarded far too much when “earning” a half-point for drawing. I have posited changing a draw to only one quarter of a point, while some have said a third of a point should be awarded for drawing. The problem is not going away. How long will it be before Chess has to resort to using cards, or some other random generator like a computer program, to choose the openings for the players? Even then players who want to draw will be able to make a draw, unless and until what is gained by making a draw is far less than the 1/2 point the players “earn” by “playing” a game before bellying-up to the bar.

GM Jacob Aagaard Blasphemes Caissia at the Charlotte Chess Center GM Norm Invitational

At the website of the Charlotte Chess Center GM/IM Norm Invitational 7/24/22 – 7/28/22 one finds this:

GM Jacob Aagaard

Name: JACOB AAGAARD Current Rating: 2474 Title: GM

World’s leading chess trainers and authors, 4-time Olympiad representative, former British and Scottish national champion. 2nd CCC Norm Invitational. (

At one website this was found: In 2004, he co-founded Quality Chess publishing. As an author, he has written or co-written: A couple of dozen book titles are here, and this was written almost a decade ago. (

The tournament began with the following game:

Round 1 | 2022.07.25 | 1/2-1/2

  1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. g3 dxc4 5. Bg2 a6 6. O-O Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Nbd2 Na5 9. Ne5 Nd5 10. Ndxc4 Nxc4 11. Nxc4 Nxe3 12. Nxe3 O-O 13. Qc2 Qxd4 14. Qxc7 Bf6 15. Rfd1 Qa7 16. Ng4 Bd4 17. e3 Qb6 18. Qxb6 Bxb6 19. Ne5 Bc7 20. Nd7 Rd8 21. Rac1 Ba5 22. Nc5 Rb8 23. b4 Bc7 24. Nd7 Bxd7 25. Rxc7 Bb5 26. Rxd8+ Rxd8 27. Bxb7 Rd1+ 28. Kg2 g5 29. g4 1/2-1/2

The second round produced this game:

Round 2 | 2022.07.25 | 0-1

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. a4 Nc6 11. a5 Bxb3 12. Bb6 Bxc2 13. Qxc2 Qc8 14. Qd2 Bd8 15. Qxd6 Bxb6 16. axb6 Qd8 17. Qxd8 Raxd8 18. Bc4 Rd4 19. b3 Nxe4 20. Nxe4 Rxe4 21. Bd5 Rb4 22. Bxc6 bxc6 23. Rxa6 Rb8 24. b7 Rxb3 25. Rxc6 R3xb7 26. h4 g6 27. Rfc1 Kg7 28. Rc8 Rxc8 29. Rxc8 e4 30. g3 f5 31. Kg2 Kh6 32. Rc5 Rb2 33. Rc7 e3 34. Kf3 exf2 35. Kg2 Ra2 36. Rb7 Rc2 37. Ra7 Rb2 38. Rc7 Ra2 39. Rf7 Kh5 40. Rxh7+ Kg4 41. Rg7 f1=Q+ 42. Kxf1 Kf3 43. Ke1 Re2+ 44. Kd1 Re6 45. Kd2 Kf2 46. Kd3 Re3+ 47. Kd2 Rxg3 0-1

The third round produced this GM/IM draw:

Round 3 | 2022.07.25 | 1/2-1/2

  1. Nf3 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O c5 7. dxc5 dxc5 8. Nc3 Nc6 1/2-1/2

Round four was a true “Grandmaster draw”:

Round 4 | 2022.07.26 | 1/2-1/2

  1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. b3 d4 4. g3 c5 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O Bd6 7. e3 Nf6 8. exd4 cxd4 9. d3 h6 1/2-1/2

Round five saw an FM out for blood, so no short draw that round:

Round 5 | 2022.07.26 |

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. a4 Rb8 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. d4 Bxd4 10. Qxd4 d6 11. axb5 axb5 12. c3 O-O 13. Bg5 c5 14. Qd1 h6 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Bd5 Qg6 17. Qe2 Be6 18. Bxe6 Qxe6 19. f4 Nd7 20. Nd2 Rfe8 21. Ra7 f5 22. Qh5 Rf8 23. h3 Rbe8 24. Kh1 Re7 25. exf5 Rxf5 26. Qf3 Ref7 27. Qe4 Nf8 28. Rxf7 Qxf7 29. Qd3 c4 30. Qe3 Ng6 31. g3 Rd5 32. Nf3 Ne7 33. Nd4 Nf5 34. Nxf5 Qxf5 35. g4 Qf7 36. Kg2 Rd3 37. Qe4 d5 38. Qe5 d4 39. Qe4 dxc3 40. bxc3 Rxc3 41. Ra1 g6 42. Ra8+ Kh7 43. Rb8 Rd3 44. Rxb5 Rd2+ 45. Kf3 Rd3+ 46. Ke2 Rd7 47. f5 c3 48. fxg6+ Qxg6 49. Qxg6+ Kxg6 50. Rc5 Rd2+ 51. Ke1 Rd3 52. h4 1/2-1/2

Round six produced this “gem” giving new meaning to the term “Two-mover”

Round 6 | 2022.07.27 | 1/2-1/2

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 1/2-1/2

Too bad they could not phone it in…I mean, all that time walking to and from the CCC and the hotel could have been used for reading this:—leonid-verkhovsky.html

Round seven again saw a lower rated opponent out for blood, so the so-called “Grandmaster” had to fight, producing this draw:

Round 7 | 2022.07.27 | 1/2-1/2

  1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. c4 g6 5. Qa4 Nbd7 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. O-O Bg7 8. d4 O-O 9. Nc3 Nb6 10. Qb3 Ne4 11. a4 Nxc3 12. Qxc3 Bf5 13. b3 Nc8 14. Bf4 Nd6 15. Rfc1 a5 16. e3 Qb6 17. Qb2 Rac8 18. Ne5 Bxe5 19. Bxe5 Nc4 20. Qa2 Nxe5 21. dxe5 Rc5 22. Rxc5 Qxc5 23. Qd2 Be6 24. Rd1 Rd8 25. h4 Qc7 26. Qd4 h5 27. e4 Qc2 28. exd5 Qxb3 29. Rd3 Qb1+ 30. Rd1 Qb4 31. Qxb4 1/2-1/2

Unfortunately for the so-called “Grandmaster” his next opponent had the white pieces and played like a shark smelling Grandmaster blood:

Round 8 | 2022.07.28 | 1-0

  1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O Bg4 5. d3 Nbd7 6. Nbd2 e5 7. e4 dxe4 8. dxe4 Be7 9. h3 Bh5 10. Qe1 O-O 11. Nh4 Re8 12. Nf5 Bf8 13. a4 a5 14. Nc4 Qc7 15. Bd2 b6 16. Kh1 Nc5 17. f3 Nfd7 18. Be3 f6 19. Qc3 Rad8 20. Rfd1 Nb8 21. Rxd8 Rxd8 22. Nxa5 bxa5 23. Bxc5 Bxc5 24. Qxc5 Rd2 25. Qc3 Qd8 26. Ne3 Bf7 27. Nc4 Re2 28. Bf1 1-0

That was brutal, was it not? Finally, we come to the last round, which produced this short draw:

Round 9 | 2022.07.28 | 1/2-1/2

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 g6 5. cxd5 1/2-1/2

Playing moves three through five must have been tough on the Grandmaster who will soon be eligible for the World Senior…

What is it about the Charlotte Chess Center that makes it so conducive to producing short draws? Is it the mindset or the water? Why is it the people administering the CCC continued to invite all these quick draw McGraws type players to the Queen city?

Chaos Chess

Began reading Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Strategy and the Promise of AI,

by GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan

recently. I have only read a couple of chapters and have no intention of writing a review because the book has been reviewed by almost everyone but this writer.

Kaissa vs Chaos

World Computer Championship, Stockholm, 1974

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. d4 Bg4 6.
Be2 e6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 cxd4 9. Bxd4 e5 10. h3 exd4 11. hxg4 Bd6 12. cxd4 Nxg4
13. Nc3 Qh5 14. g3

(A critical moment. Castling king side is the sensible option, with a balanced game, but Black goes crazy instead!)


15. Nh4 f5 16. d5 Nce5 17. Qc2 Rhf8 18. Bd3 (A slow move which gives Black chances for a counterattack)

Nxd3 19. Qxd3 Rae8 20. Nb5 f4 21. Nxd6 Kxd6 22. Qa3+ Kc7 23. Qxa7 Qf7 24. Rfc1+ Kd6 25.
Qc5+ Ke5 26. d6+ Ke6 27. Re1+ Ne3 28. gxf4 Qd7 29. f5+ Kf6 30. Rxe3 Rd8 31. Re7
Qa4 32. Qe5+ Kg5 33. Nf3+ Kg4 34. Rxg7+ Kh5 35. Qh2+ Qh4 36. Qxh4# 1-0

For those of you who wish to read a review before purchasing the book I heartily recommend the one by GM Jacob Aagaard

in the best Chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, issue 2019/3. Kudos to the people at NIC who make the decision as to what goes into the magazine, and what stays out. Aagard was nice about ripping the authors new ones, writing, “Game Changer is an interesting but often also frustrating read.” In addition he writes, “However, the structural problems the book suffers from are certainly to do with the two authors, two voices and at least two different directions.” There is more but I will not dwell on it other than to say reading the review caused me to purchase the book after reading, “The book gets into a better flow over the next hundred pages, before becoming coherent over the last 250+ pages that look seriously at AlphaZero’s games,” which is the basic reason for buying the tome.

Speed Kills

Like most chess fans I have been following the World Cup. Unlike most fans of the Royal game I have only watched the games played with a longer time control. I am uncertain what to call those games because the “longer time control” is not a classical one. During a discussion of the WC I mentioned to the Legendary Georgia Ironman I had not even gone to the official tournament website on the days of the tiebreak games in order to make a statement, certain the organizers checked the number of fans clicking on each day. I cannot help but wonder what those numbers show. Are there others doing the same?
I made an exception today, clicking on today just in time to hear GM Nigel Short, a much better commentator than those previously doing the commentary, say, “It looks like neither player has a clue as to what to do. At this speed it does not matter; they just better move.” The comment sums up what happens to chess when played without enough time to think. The games are played at such a rapid rate that the moves come in bunches, making it impossible to follow the action, a comment I have heard from others.
I won the only tournament played at the now antiquated time control of 40 moves in 2 ½ hours. It was the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship, played at the downtown YMCA each Wednesday night for five weeks. There were no adjournments and the games finished at a reasonable hour. In those days a player reaching time control with a lost position would resign. Today the players play on, hoping for a “miracle,” which means a blunder, or “howler,” as GM Yasser Seirawan would say.
Former Georgia champion, and Georgia Senior champion, LM David Vest mentioned people watch NASCAR to see the wrecks. I wonder if chess fans who watch the quick play games are doing the same thing? Do they spectate only to see top GM’s humbled by making horrible howlers like the ones they make in their own games? I have heard players say something like, “After seeing GM X make that blunder I do not feel so bad about the ones I have made!”
The hyperbole reached epic proportions on the Chessbase website on 8/22/2013 in an article “World Cup 4.3: unparalleled drama in Tromso.” ( I do not know about that; what about the last game of the 1987 Kasparov-Karpov match in Seville when Garry was in a must win situation? Chessbase comments on the last game of the match between Quang Liem Le and Peter Svidler, a quick-play game lasting 135 moves, won by Svidler, writing, “This game is well worth replaying.” I think not.
One of the things I have most liked about playing chess is having time to cogitate. Thinking is not for everyone. The winner of the ECF book of the year 2012 award was, “Move First, Think Later,” by Willy Hendricks. The title says all one needs to know about the state of modern chess. The other books shortlisted that year were, Advanced Chess Tactics by Lev Psakhis (Quality Chess); Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen by Adrian Mikhalchisin & Oleg Stetsko (Edition Olms); & Gary Kasparov on Garry Kasparov Part 1: 1973-1985 (Everyman). What does it say about the state of chess when books by the current number one player by rating, and the player called by some “the greatest player of all-time,” lose out to a book advocating one move first, then think? Chess Café announced the winner of its award with this: “After several weeks of voting, the early front runners for Book of the Year were Aron Nimzowitsch, 1886-1924 by Per Skjoldager and Jørn Erik Nielsen and Move First, Think Later by Willy Hendriks. Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation by Jacob Aagaard had its supporters, but just not to the same extent as the other finalists.” ( Days after acquiring the Nimzowitsch book I recall reading on the internet a question posed concerning how the Nimzo book could have possibly won the award. “Who would buy such a book?” the writer asked. “Me!” I shouted in my mind.
Earlier in my life I would often hear old-timers say, “The world is speeding up.” I was left wondering if it was them slowing down…Now that I have become an “old-timer,” the question has been answered.
There can be no doubt about the fact that the world of chess is “speeding up.” I cannot help but find it sad. Backgammon is played at a much faster pace than chess. The faster one plays the more games can be played in a limited amount of time, which means more money in the pocket when the “Last call” is given. Chess is an exponentially more complex game than is backgammon. The game does not need to be sped up to create blunders. The Chess Bomb ( has a color coded system with weaker moves given in purple and howlers in red. I seem to recall a back to back series of red moves by GM’s Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian in what is now called a “classical” game. Chess is too difficult a game to play well even at longer time limits. It does not need to be sped up for the best players in the world to make mistakes.