American Chess Magazine #11: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

When the first issue of the American Chess Magazine debuted I mentioned something about it being expensive, writing the price of the magazine, twenty five dollars, was as much as a book. My intention was to read, and then review, the first issue. After contacting someone at the ACM about receiving a review copy I was informed it would only be possible to receive the first copy if I anted up twenty five dollars, for which I would receive the first two issues. I turned down the “offer.”

It was only a few months ago upon returning to the Atlanta area that I got a chance to peruse past issues, which were wonderful. The new issue, issue #11, the second issue of 2019,

was the second issue after increasing from four issues to six issues per year. The new US Women’s Chess Champion, Jennifer Yu, graces the cover, surrounded by a pink background. This is my review.

I will be completely honest and say that before taking the magazine out of the plastic wrap I was hooked, and not because of the picture of a very pretty young lady on the cover, although I can see what a wonderful hook is Jennifer Yu!

It is a shame the ACM is not sold at book stores or newspaper and magazine stands because the cover would attract much interest. This on the cover is what “hooked” me:

American Civil War
A Dying Southern Diarist
Theodore P. Savas

I read the article immediately before even scanning the magazine and it brought tears to my eyes. I was born in the back seat of a ’49 Ford convertible on the way to Emory University Hospital in Decatur, Georgia, which means I was born a Southerner, as is often heard in the South, “By the grace of God.” The diarist, “Leroy Wiley Gresham, was born in 1847 to an affluent family in Macon, Georgia.” His mother’s name, Mary, was the same as my Mother’s name. The title of the article is, An Elegant Game: The American Civil War, a Dying Southern Diarist, and a Fascination with Chess. Leroy Wiley Gresham wrote his diary during the War of Northern Aggression, while he was dying. It is an elegant piece. I could end the review now and give it five stars, but there is more, much more, contained in this elegant issue!

Although I have read extensively about the War Between the States during the course of my life, it has been some time since I have read a book on the subject. This will be remedied when the book upon which the article is based, The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of Leroy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1864, edited by Janet Kroon, which I have ordered, arrives.

The focus of the magazine is the most recent US Chess Championships. The annotations of the final round game are by the loser, Jeffery Xiong,

Isle of Man Chess International, Round 5, 24 October 2018. Photo by John Saunders

and they are excellent! For example, look at this position:

Jeffery writes, “21. Qb1 Preventing any …a4xb3 and Ra8-a2 ideas. But 21 Rfe1, quickly preparing Nf1-d2 and e2-e4, might have been more to the point.” Some annotators provide Lubomir Ftacnik

style reams of analysis when all that is needed is something simple. At the conclusion of the game Jeffery writes, “It was as clean a win as you can get with the black pieces. The opening experiment proved to be golden as my inexperience in this type of position was revealed to its fullest extent. Nakamura

played truly inspiring chess, especially with the black pieces, and his will to win in this game made him the deserved champion. He has amply demonstrated his greatness, being one of the perennial top-10 players in the world. Any player can win games, but at top level only great players are capable of consistently winning must-win games!”

GM Jeffery Xiong has shown his class as a gentleman with what he has written about what must have been a tough game to lose.

The honesty continues when Xiong annotates his win with the black pieces against the now dethroned US Chess Champion, Sam Shankland,


https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/872

when Jeffery writes at the end of the game, “At first I was quite pleased with my play as I felt I had found some nice ideas. However after heading back to my hotel room and opening ChessBomb, I saw a sea of red moves! Nonetheless, I was now leading the tournament with 2 1/2/3, yet fully aware that the quality of my play was not entirely satisfactory.”

This is amazingly honest writing.

A few pages further into the magazine one turns the page to see a beautiful picture of the new US Women’s Champion, Jennifer Yu, sitting at a Chessboard behind the black pieces while flashing a gorgeous smile. The title above reads, Lady With A Torch, which is appropriate because Jennifer torched the field this year! One reads, “Exclusive annotations and an interview by WGM Jennifer Yu.” The following page contains the game between former many time Women’s Champion Irina Krush,

playing white, and Jennifer, which happens to be an opening I have played, the B13 Caro-Kann, which begins 1 c4 c6 2 e4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 d4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 Be6. While visiting the Nashville Chess Center (http://www.nashvillechess.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=164844) earlier this decade FM Todd Andrews,

the Music City Master, gave a lecture which happened to be this very variation. After 7 a3 Qd7 Jennifer writes, “Not 7…dxc4?, when after 8 Bxf6! exf6 9 d5 Black loses a piece.” I recall raising my hand during the early part of Todd’s lecture asking about the early move c5 for White. Todd was nice enough to illustrate what was behind the move c5 for the audience, while letting me know in a nice way it was a lecture, not a Q&A. The game continued, 8 Be2 Rd8 9 Bxf6 exf6 10 c5. Ms. Yu writes, “Although a general principle of chess is to maintain tension in the center during the opening, this is a good move that prevents any…dxc4 tricks. It locks up the center and challenges the wisdom of my piece placement, making the bishop on e6 and the rook on d8 look silly, since these pieces no longer have any prospects against c4 and d4. 10 Bf3 doesn’t work because after 10…dxc4 11 d5 Qe7! the threat to the white king, as well as the pin on the white d-pawn, provides the black knight and bishop with immunity against the fork.” The annotations are exceptional.

I could go on and on, but this is a blog post. Still, I must mention an article by GM Alex Fishbein,

Secrets Of Same-Color Bishop Endings, which is superlative! And then there is the wonderful article, Beauties of Underpromotion, by IM Boroljub Zlatanovic, which was enjoyed immensely!

Unfortunately, not everything included in the magazine is rosy. Fresh Leaves from the Bookshelf is the title of the book review column by FM Carsten Hansen.

In this issue the FM has “reviewed,” and I use the word rather loosely, ten books. As he did in the previous issue Mr. Hansen reviewed ten books for the ACM. Beginning with the previous issue the ACM went from being published quarterly to bi-monthly. It may have been possible to review ten books quarterly, but how is it possible for anyone to read ten Chess books every other month? The answer is contained in the review of Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi,

by Andy Soltis,

published by McFarland. (https://mcfarlandbooks.com/) Hansen writes, “When I first saw the description of this book, (There is no need for the comma) I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. (“Upon first seeing description I did not know how to feel about the book.” THE ACM needs a good editor.) However, having now received a copy and read a fair amount of the text…” Let us pause in the middle of the sentence to reflect. Many years ago someone mentioned something about coming to the House of Pain “soon.” This caused David Vest, the only man to have won both the Georgia Chess Championhip and Georgia Senior Championship, to pose the question, “How long, exactly, is soon?” He added, “I hate those nebulous words…” This began a discussion concerning nebulous words. A short time (Nebulous!) later Mr. Vest, heading out the door, said, “Tell Murphy I will be back in a little while.” He was half way out of the door when someone asked, “How long is ‘a little while’, Dave?” This brought the House down! What is a “fair amount” of the book? Your “fair amount” may not be the same as my “fair amount.” Can you imagine a New York Times book reviewer revealing they only read a “fair amount” of a book? I usually pay little attention to these short book reviews by writers who obviously simply scan the book reviewed. It would be better for Mr. Hansen to review only a few books he has actually read as opposed to scanning ten books before writing a review. It seems many reviewers spend more time writing the review than actually reading the book being reviewed.

Then there is the article, 50 is the new 40, by Jon Edwards, an ICCF Senior IM. Reading the article caused me to reflect upon the words written by GM Nigel Short

in New In Chess magazine 2019 #2

in his piece, Obsolescence, which concerns correspondence chess. “If ever an activity should have long ago expired and been buried with dignity, it is surely correspondence chess.” This caused Kirill Oseledets to write a letter to the editor of NIC in which he expressed his unfavorable opinion of NIC for publishing the Short column. Kirill wrote, “I was sincerely surprised and deeply disappointed to see that in New In Chess 2018/2 you published Nigel Short’s article with the provocative title ‘Obsolescence.’ Later he writes, “One thing that Nigel Short fails to recognize is that correspondence chess is first of all a research laboratory for chess.”

Mr. Edwards begins, “Chess players do not yet have access to AlphaZero and so we are left to peruse more conventional chess technologies. It is tempting to focus primarily upon new databases, new videos, and new online chess services, all of which keep me feeling young and invigorated, but the fact is that chess is experiencing another profound change that has gradually but inexorably changed chess forever.” Then the article begins and Jon writes, “Just a few years ago, patiently permitting a desktop computer to run for day or longer might net an evaluation depth of 35-40 ply, each ply representing a single half move.”

He continues, “With new hardware , it is not uncommon (Don’t ‘cha just hate it when a writer uses a double negative and the editor prints it?) today for such runs to reach a depth of 50 ply or even much higher, depending obviously upon the position, the number of viable moves for each player, and the chess engine being employed. Those depths are high enough to predict accurately the future endgames, which themselves become trivial to evaluate. These long runs in typical positions are producing a slew of draws in Correspondence chess. I present here the current crosstable of the Spanish Masters, a tournament in which I am competing. With just 8 games still unfinished, the crosstable creates quite an impression, a veritable sea of draws.”

The crosstable shows a tournament with fifteen players almost complete. There is only one decisive result, and the only ‘1’ and lonely ‘0’ stand out like Bo Derek!

Jon continues, “You might indeed conclude prematurely that correspondence chess is therefore fully dead or dying.”

Duh, ya think?!

“But that’s not the point or the end of the story. The reality is that it is becoming very hard to win, but it is still possible!”

The CC IM writes this because the only game won in the “veritable sea of draws,” was won by the author…

He continues, “Those long runs are turning up interesting finds.”

Indeed.

“I parlayed one such discovery into a win over the reigning Russian correspondence chess champion, the only win so far in this crosstable.”

The game is given, along with a game played later by former World Chess Champion Vishy Anand,

who was unable to produce the move found by a computer Chess program after a “long run.” At the Isle of Man Anand faced Artemiev

with white and these moves were played: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e6 7 f4 Be7 8 Be3 0-0 9 g4 d5 10 e5 Nfd7 11 g5 Nc6.

“Undoubtedly unaware of the game I had recently completed, Anand tried 12 Qd2.”

“I reached the diagram position through a different move order: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 Be2 Be7 8 f4 0-0 9 g4 d5 10 e5 Nfd7 11 g5 Nc6

Edwards continues, “I reached the diagramed position in December 2017 through a different move order: : 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 Be2 Be7 8 f4 0-0 9 g4 d5 10 e5 Nfd7 11 g5 Nc6. Sensing an opportunity for White, I ran Robert Houdart’s Houdini 6.02 Pro x64 for 35 days(!) on an Intel Xeon CPU E5-2687W @3.00 GHz with 32 GB of installed RAM. At depth 45, 12 Bd3 emerged not simply as the best move, as I had anticipated (Where is that darn comma when you need it?) but also with a completely winning advantage!”

“Edwards – Lobanov instead continued: 12 Bd3!! (Please note the ICCF Senior International Master gives not one but TWO exclamation marks for a move found by a Chess engine after doing whatever it is it does for over a MONTH of computing!!) Qb6 13 Na4 Qa5+ 14 c3

“I suspect the engines at lower depth had rejected this line owing to 14…Nxd4 15 Bxd4 b5 trapping the knight, but at higher depth, the engines easily find: 16 Bxh7+!! (Once again one exclam is not enough!!) 16…Kxh7 17 Qh5+ Kg8 18 0-0+ with a transfer of the Rf1 to h3. On 18…g6 (the toughest defense) 19 Qh4 Re8 20 Rf3 Bf8 21 Rh3 Bg7 22 f5! gxf5 23 Nb6 Nxb6 24 B5 with mate to follow. Without that line at his disposal, Lobanov chose instead to sacrifice a knight for two pawns but achieved insufficient compensation. Here’s the rest of the game.”

I will spare you the remainder of the game. Mr. Edwards adds this at the end of the game: “Not long after the game ended, I shared it with a GM friend of mine, the second for a world top-player, who ran 12 Bd3 on a very powerful mainframe overnight. He concluded that Black was already lost and he added White’s new idea into their collective repertoire. The translation: Our world’s best players fully understand the need for world class computing. He was able to do in half a day what took me more than a month! I do not know what hardware they are running but it clearly surpasses my setup. I am also proud that analysis of this game appeared in New in Chess Yearbook 129 (itl), pp33-35.
While it is clearly getting much tougher to win correspondence games and to achieve Correspondence IM and GM norms, any correspondence wins that doe occur clearly deserve considerable attention. Just ask Anand. I therefore recommend that strong players involve the Games Archive at iccf.com as a key part of their opening preparation. You will gain access to the archive after you sign up (for free).”

What, no double exclam after “free?”

Reading, “…correspondence chess is first of all a research laboratory for chess,” caused me to stop reading and start thinking about what was being read. I thought the computer championships, such as the TCEC Chess tournaments, were Chess laboratories. Jon and his ilk input a position into a computer and let it do it’s thing for a month and call it Chess. Jon, and all other correspondence players would be much better off if they would go to a club or tournament and use their brain to actually play CHESS!

Jon was right when he wrote, “…chess is experiencing another profound change that has gradually but inexorably changed chess forever.”

With that sentence Jon Edwards just KILLED CHESS!

Consider the last theoretical novelty you saw from one of the top ten players in the world. Did it spring from the fertile imagination of a human like, for instance, the Magician of Riga, Mikhail Tal?

Or did it emanate from the bowels of some hellish mainframe? If it has gotten to the point where a computer can provide a world class Chess player a move early in the game with which any world class player will win, what is the point of Chess? Has it gotten to the point where, “Those depths are high enough to predict accurately the future endgames, which themselves become trivial to evaluate?”

If Jon is correct there is no point in watching Chess because one will never know how the ‘beautiful’ move was produced. A Chess fan will never know if the “tremendous move” emanated from a human brain or from the machinations of a computer program. What we currently have is some kind of symbiotic relationship between human and machine kind of like the ‘Borg’ depicted in the television show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The first World Chess Champion to lose a match to a computer program, Garry Kasparov,

became an advocate of some kind of Chess in which both players have access to a program, which, thankfully, did not become popular. It appears what happened is the symbiotic relationship was kept behind closed doors. The computers and programs were there all the time, like some kind of Wizard of Oz.

Because they were out of sight they were also out of mind.

What is the point of the folks at the Chess Informant awarding a prize for the “best” theoretical novelty if the TN was found by a computer program? It has reached the point where a Grandmaster without access to a mainframe computer has little chance against another GM with access to a powerful computer. Who is actually winning the Chess game, the human or the program?

Chess will continue to be played just as Checkers continues to be played by a small number of people. When was the last time you were aware of the world Checkers champion?

Then there is the last page, 5×5 Q&A “Where Grandmasters Advise Young Players.”

The advice being given is by Susan Polgar. What the woman did to the USCF was UGLY!

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Can Jennifer Yu Handle Pressure?

WIM Alexy Root has written an apologia for Chessbase for the pitiful performance of Jenifer Yu at the US Junior.

Jennifer Yu’s US Junior Championship: Can research explain her result?
by Alexey Root

“The 2019 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Jennifer Yu was the wildcard invite for the U.S. Junior Championship which concluded on Saturday, July 20th. She finished last in the 10-player round robin with ½ out of 9. In her post-tournament interview, Jennifer Yu mentioned, “Maybe there is a little more pressure or something.” In this article, WIM ALEXEY ROOT looks at two research-based reasons for the pressure Yu perceived and its possible effects on her result.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result)

Pressure from “Chess Fans”

“In the words of one ChessBase reader, Yu is “a role model for young women with [her] current title” and her U.S. Junior Championship result “will find its way in future articles/books/essays regarding the relative strength of female vs male players and be fodder for that debate.” Even before the event, some questioned why Yu got the wildcard invite rather than higher-rated boys. One “Chess fan” wrote, “What a terrible pick for wildcard. I want to see the best junior players in the US Junior, male or female. It’s a shame the wildcard wasn’t used to reward another 2500+ Junior.”
Despite her chess qualifications, then, Yu perhaps felt pressure on her from some chess fans.”

The paragraph that caused me to write this post:

“According to “Checkmate? The role of gender stereotypes in the ultimate intellectual sport,” women perform 50% worse than expected when they know they are playing against men and are reminded of the stereotype that men are considered better and more gifted at chess. In the experiment on which the article is based, similarly-rated men and women played two-game matches online, at first without knowing the other player’s gender. In the match where gender was unknown, the women scored 1 out of 2 (the expected score). However, when the men and women were told the gender of their opponent (i.e. the men knew that they were playing women and the women knew that they were playing men), and the women were reminded of the stereotype that men are better at chess than women, the women scored ½ of 2.”

A reader make left this comment:

Ajeeb007

Inadequate sample size, pure speculation and utter nonsense. No need to make it more complex than it is in an effort to assuage the female ego. Yu finished last because she was weaker than most of the other participants and she didn’t catch a break..”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result#discuss

Ajeeb007 hits the nail on the head. I could not have put it better myself. Chessbase should be ashamed for printing something based upon such a limited sample size.

The best comment was posted “by UncleBent

“Jennifer Yu’s poor result is due to her playing opponents who were much stronger and more experienced vs top competition. If you look at Jennifer’s “career,” she has had little success against the few opponents she has played rated 2450 ELO or higher. Her designation as “wild-card” made her a target, but only because she was one of the lower-rated and, in a RR event, the others knew they had to get a full point from her if they were to have a good tournament result. What is true, is that most, if not all, of her “boy” opponents have spent considerably more time to playing and studying chess. Jennifer mentioned that she has not had a coach for a while, in spite of her weaknesses in opening repertoire and endgame technique. That was evident in her play. This is no longer the era of Capablanca — you can’t succeed against players who are more experienced, higher rated and who have done more preparation. Why Jennifer Yu decided not to hire a coach (with some of her US Women’s Ch prize money) is not my concern. At 17, she has so many wonderful avenues available to her, that I’m not going to criticize he for not studying chess.

Dr. Root’s article is an embarrassing, knee-jerk response. 20 years ago, Irina Krush placed 2nd in the US Junior. The number one reason for her success is that she was also the 2nd highest-rated participant. Playing against “the boys” did not seem to hurt her performance. (In fact one her Irina’s losses was to Jen Shahade.) While there may be merit to under-performance (when females play males), I just don’t think it is at the same level among higher-rated players, who have real achievements and thus more confidence.”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/jennifer-yu-s-us-junior-championship-can-research-explain-her-result#discuss

Leningrad Dutch Wins 2019 US Chess Championship!

When four time US Chess Champion Hikaru Nakamura

absolutely, positively had to win with the black pieces in the final round of the 2019 US Championship he played the Leningrad Dutch

against Jeffrey Xiong

and won in style. Since Fabiano Caruana,

the world co-champion of classical Chess according to World Rapid Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen,

could only draw with the 2018 US Chess champion Sam Shankland

in the last round, and newcomer Lenier Dominguez Perez

managed to draw a won game versus tournament clown Timur Gareyev,

included only because he won the US Open, which is not and has not been an elite tournament for many years, Hikaru Nakamura, by winning became a five time winner of what he called, “…a super event, almost.” The inclusion of Timur the clown and Varuzhan Akobian,

a “fan favorite” at the St. Louis Chess Club we were informed by GM Maurice Ashley, made the event “almost” a super event. It is time the people in the heartland stop with the gimmicks and include only the best players on merit in the US Chess championship.

I have spent many hours this decade watching the broadcast via computer of the US Chess championships. The broadcasts have gotten better each year and now can be considered “World Class.” Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan,

Maurice Ashley,

and “Woman” Grandmaster (inferior to “Grandmaster” as she is only a Life Master according to the USCF), Jennifer Shahade

do an excellent job of covering the US Chess championships. The manager of the old Atlanta Chess Center, aka the “House of Pain,” David Spinks was fond of saying “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY, man!” He found it difficult to believe anyone could watch anything, like Baseball or Golf, and not “pull” for someone, anyone, to win. I will admit to “pulling” for Bobby Fischer

to beat Boris Spassky

in 1972 World Chess championship, which he did, but now simply enjoy watching the event unfold. Every round is a different story, a story told well by Yaz, Maurice and Jen. But when Hikaru Nakamura moved his f-pawn two squares in reply to his opponent’s move of 1 d4 I unashamedly admit I began to “pull” for Hikaru to win the game and the championship. I was riveted to the screen for many hours this afternoon as the last round unfolded.

One of the best things about traveling to San Antonio in 1972 was being able to watch some of the best Chess players in the world, such as former World Champion Tigran Petrosian

and future WC Anatoly Karpov,

make their moves. I also remember the flair with which Paul Keres

made his moves. All of the players made what can only be called “deliberate” type moves as they paused to think before moving. IM Boris Kogan gave anyone who would listen the advice to take at least a minute before making a move because your opponent’s move has changed the game.

Lenier Dominguez Perez took all of eleven seconds to make his ill-fated twenty sixth move. If he had stopped to cogitate in lieu of making a predetermined move he might be at this moment preparing to face Nakamura in a quick play playoff tomorrow. I’m glad he moved too quickly, frankly, because I loathe and detest quick playoffs to decide a champion. Classical type Chess is completely different from quick play hebe jebe Chess. Wesley So obviously lacks something I will call “fire.” He took no time, literally, to make his game losing blunder at move thirty. Maybe someone will ask them why and report it in one of the many Chess magazines published these days.

What can one say about Jennifer Yu

other than she has obviously elevated her game to a world class level. She is young and very pretty so the world is her oyster. It was a pleasure to watch her demolish the competition this year. Often when a player has the tournament won he will lost the last round. Jennifer crowned her crown by winning her last round game, which was impressive.

The quote of the tournament goes to Maurice Ashley, who said, “When you’re busted, you’re busted.”

Best interview of this years championships:

Jeffery Xiong (2663) – Hikaru Nakamura (2746)

US Chess Championship 2019 round 11

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. d5 Na5 9. b3 c5 10. Bb2 a6 11. Ng5 Rb8 12. Qd3 Qe8 13. Nd1 b5 14. Qd2 Nb7 15. Ne3 Nd8 16. Nh3 Bd7 17. Rad1 b4 18. Qc2 a5 19. Nf4 a4 20. h4 Ra8 21. Qb1 Ra6 22. Bf3 Qf7 23. Neg2 Ng4 24. Bxg4 fxg4 25. e4 Bxb2 26. Qxb2 Qg7 27. Qxg7+ Kxg7 28. e5 Bf5 29. exd6 exd6 30. Rfe1 Nf7 31. Re7 Kf6 32. Rb7 axb3 33. axb3 Rfa8 34. Ne3 Ra1 35. Kf1 Ne5 36. Rxa1 Rxa1+ 37. Ke2 Nf3 38. Nxf5 Kxf5 39. Ke3 Re1+ 40. Kd3 Ne5+ 41. Kd2 Ra1 42. Ne6 h6 43. Rb6 Ra3 44. Kc2 Ra2+ 45. Kd1 Nd3 46. Rxd6 Nxf2+ 47. Ke1 Nd3+ 48. Kd1 Ke4 49. Nc7 Nf2+ 50. Ke1 Kd3 51. Rxg6 Ne4 52. Kf1 Nxg3+ 53. Kg1 Ne2+ 54. Kh1 Ke3 55. Rf6 Ra1+ 56. Kg2 Rg1+ 57. Kh2 g3+ 58. Kh3 Rh1+ 0-1

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 (Stockfish 181218 at depth 50 considers 7…c6 the best move. The game move has been my move of choice)

8. d5 Na5 (An older version of SF plays this but the newer versions prefer 8…Ne5, the only move I played because as a general rule I do not like moving my knight to the rim, where it is dim, much preferring to move it toward the middle of the board)

9. b3 c5 (9…a6, a move yet to be played, is the move preferred by Stockfish at the CBDB, while Houdini plays 9…Ne4)

10. Bb2 (SF 10 shows 10 Bd2 best followed by 10 Rb1 and Qc2) a6 11. Ng5 TN (SF has 11 Rb1 best, while Komodo shows 11 e3, a move yet to be played, but Houdini shows 11 Qd3 best and it has been the most often played move. There is a reason why the game move has not been seen in practice)

Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen (2469) vs Andres Rodriguez Vila (2536)

40th Olympiad Open 08/30/2012

1.Nf3 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c4 O-O 6.Nc3 d6 7.d4 Nc6 8.d5 Na5 9.b3 c5 10.Qc2 a6 11.Bb2 Rb8 12.Rae1 b5 13.Nd1 bxc4 14.bxc4 Bh6 15.e3 Ne4 16.Ba1 Rb4 17.Nd2 Nxd2 18.Qxd2 Rf7 19.Nb2 Bg7 20.Nd3 Nxc4 21.Qc2 Na3 22.Qc1 Ra4 23.Bxg7 Rxg7 24.Nb2 Ra5 25.e4 Nb5 26.a4 Nd4 27.e5 Bd7 28.exd6 exd6 29.Nc4 Rxa4 30.Nxd6 Qb6 31.Ne8 Rf7 32.d6 Bc6 33.Qh6 Qd8 34.Bxc6 Nxc6 35.Nc7 Re4 36.f3 Re5 37.Qd2 Rxe1 38.Rxe1 Nd4 39.Qf4 g5 40.Qe3 f4 41.Qe7 Nxf3+ 42.Kh1 Qf8 43.Qxf8+ Rxf8 44.Re7 Nd4 45.gxf4 gxf4 46.d7 Nc6 47.Re8 Nd8 48.Nxa6 c4 49.Re4 c3 ½-½

Z. Ilincic (2465) vs D. Sharma (2344)

Kecskemet Caissa GM 02

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. d5 Na5 9. b3 c5 10. Bb2 a6 11. Rb1 Rb8 12. Ba1 Bd7 13. Qd3 b5 14. h3 bxc4 15. bxc4 Rb4 16. Nd2 Qc7 17. Kh2 Rfb8 18. f4 Rxb1 19. Rxb1 Rxb1 20. Qxb1 Qb7 21. Qxb7 Nxb7 22. e3 Na5 1/2-1/2

The headline, Bearded men look angrier than clean-shaven types when they are angry made me think of Hikaru Nakamura:

I could not help but wonder if the beard had anything to do with his play in this tournament?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6867435/Australian-scientists-say-bearded-men-look-angrier-clean-shaven-types.html

2018 Women’s World Championship Game Five

GM Kevin Spraggett had this to say concerning the lack of interest in the Women’s World Championship match recently concluded:

“Witness the Women’s World Championship being played this week. Does MSM report on it? No way!” (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-chess-and-potpourri/. See also, https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/kevin-spraggetts-whipping-post/)

The fact is that the two women who played the match for the women’s crown are at least one category lower than Hou Yifan, undoubtedly the strongest woman Chess player on the planet. I was completely unfamiliar with Zhongyi Tan. It is extremely difficult to have interest in such a meaningless so-called “title match.” Still, having been an exponent of the venerable Bishop’s opening, there was interest in the one game played using the opening.

Zhongyi Tan (CHN) 2522

vs Wenjun Ju (CHN) 2571

FIDE Women’s World Championship 2018 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. exd5 cxd5 10. Na3 Nbd7 11. Re1 h6 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. d4 e4 14. Nd2 Nb6 15. f3 Re8 16. Bc2 Bd7 17. Rb1 exf3 18. Nxf3 Ne4 19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Bxb5 21. axb5 Rxe5 22. Be3 Re6 23. Bd4 Nc4 24. Bd3 Qg5 25. b3 Ncd6 26. Rb2 Rae8 27. Rbe2 Nf5 28. Bc2 Nh4 29. Qd3 Ng6 30. Be3 Qh5 31. c4 Ne5 32. Qd4 Rg6 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34. Kf1 Nf3 35. Qd7 Nxh2+ 0-1

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 (The CBDB shows this move, “The truth as it was known in those long ago days,” scoring 56%, higher than any other second move!) Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 (This move has gained in popularity because Komodo has it best. Next is 5…Bb4+. The move Houey considers best, 5…Bd6, has been the most often played move, and is the only move I encountered) 6. a4 Bb4+ (This gives the white general a pleasant choice of the game move, or 7 Bd2)

7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O (All three Stockfish programs at the CBDB show 8 exd5 best, and the SF program used by ChessBomb prefers taking the pawn. The idea is to play, after 8 exd5 cxd5, 9 Bg5, a move preferred by GM Bent Larsen in the B.O.)

8…O-O ( Both the Fish and Dragon play 8…dxe4 which has not been tested in top level play)

9. exd5 (The choice of SF & Houdini, this move is a TN) cxd5

10. Na3 (The beginning of Tan’s troubles. 10. Bg5 Be6 then 11. Na3 h6 12. Bh4 Nc6 13. Nb5 Bb8 14. Re1 b6 15. Bg3 Nd7 16. h3 Kh7 17. h4 f6, a plausible line given by SF)

Nbd7 (10… h6 to prevent Bg5. Stockfish at ChessBomb gives this line, culminating in a possible perpetual 11. Nb5 Nc6 12. Be3 Bb8 13. h3 Re8 14. Bc5 Bf5 15. Be3 Be6 16. Bc5 Bf5)

11. Re1 (11. Bg5 h6 12. Bh4 Bb8 13. Re1 Re8 14. Nb5 g5 15. Bg3 b6 16. Bc2 Bb7 17. Nd2 Nf8 18. h3 Ng6 would leave white with a small advantage) 11…h6 (The game is even) 12. Nb5 Bb8

13. d4? (This move hands the advantage to black. I have previously mentioned on this blog the difficulties encountered in my early days learning the game with the transition from the opening to the middle-game centered around move 13. Notice in the line given by SF below the move d4 is played a couple of moves later. I set up a board when going over the game before checking with the program analysis, spending a considerable amount of time looking at the position before 13 d4? was played. Three moves stood out; 13 Be3; 13 h3; and 13 Qe2. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will not be surprised by the latter move. Thing is, I was uncertain in what order the moves should be played. The Fish shows them in this order: 13 Be3; 13 h3; and 13 Qe2. SF shows this line after 13 Qe2 b6 14. Be3 Re8 15. h3, with the three moves all being played. The best line, according to SF, is 13. Be3 Re8 14. h3 b6 15. d4 e4 16. Nd2 Bb7 17. c4 Qe7 18. Nc3 dxc4 19. Nxc4 Nd5 20. Nxd5 Bxd5 21. Bd2)

e4 14. Nd2 Nb6

15. f3? (Yet another weak move in the opening. Look at the position…white has only a rook on the king side defending the king. Although black has only a knight more on the king side, the queen and both bishops are poised to move to the open king side in the beat of a heart. Something will have to be done about the pawn dagger on e4, but white is undeveloped, with the knight on d2 clogging up the white position. 15. Nf1 is much better)

Re8 16. Bc2 Bd7 (16… Bf5)

17. Rb1? (17. Re2) exf3? (17… Nc8 is much better) 18. Nxf3 Ne4 (18… Bg4 is possible) 19. Ne5 (Although SF shows 19. Bd3 as best, after 19…f5 black is for choice) 19…Bxe5 (19… Bxb5 first, then after 20. axb5, play Bxe5)
20. dxe5 Bxb5 21. axb5 Rxe5 22. Be3 Re6 23. Bd4 (23. Qd4) Nc4 24. Bd3 Qg5 (24… Qh4 25. Re2) 25. b3 Ncd6 26. Rb2 (Why not an attacking move like 26. Be3) Rae8 27. Rbe2 Nf5 (Look at the position. Every black piece is on the king side menacing the white king, while the white queen and both bishops are on the queenside. White will not last long…)

28. Bc2 Nh4 29. Qd3 Ng6 (29… f5!) 30. Be3 (30. Qf3 is the only chance) Qh5 31. c4? (Turn out the lights, the party’s over…31. Qd4 or 31 Bd1 should have been played) Ne5 32. Qd4 Rg6 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34. Kf1 Nf3 35. Qd7 Nxh2+ 0-1

Quite frankly, this was pitifully weak opening play by Tan. Her understanding of the venerable Bishop’s opening was sorely lacking.

Vadim Zvjaginsev (2661) vs Manuel Petrosyan (2546)

18th ch-EUR Indiv 2017
Minsk 05/31/2017
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. O-O O-O 9. Re1 dxe4 10. dxe4 Na6 11. Bc2 Nc5 12. Na3 Qe7 13. Nc4 Bc7 14. b3 Rd8 15. Qe2 b6 16. Ba3 Ba6 17. Rad1 Nfd7 18. b4 Qe6 19. bxc5 Bxc4 20. Qe3 h6 21. Nd2 1/2-1/2

Na3 did not turn out well in the next game…

Vladimir Onischuk (2608) vs Alexander Motylev (2665)

18th ch-EUR Indiv 2017
Minsk 06/07/2017
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. Na3 Nc6 10. Nb5 Bb8 11. Bg5 Be6 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 O-O 14. Re1 g5 15. Bg3 Bg4 16. Qd2 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Qd7 18. Kg2 Qf5 19. h4 Ne7 20. hxg5 hxg5 21. Rh1 Ng6 22. Rae1 Rd8 23. c4 d4 24. c5 Ra6 25. Bc4 Nd5 26. Bxd5 Rxd5 27. Rh5 Rf6 28. Qe2 Rxc5 29. Reh1 Rc8 30. Na3 Rc5 31. Nc4 Bc7 32. b3 Kg7 33. R1h3 Bd6 34. Rh2 Bc7 35. Rh1 Bd6 36. Rh7+ Kf8 37. R7h5 Kg7 38. Qd1 Bc7 39. Rh7+ Kf8 40. R7h3 Rcc6 41. Rh5 Ke7 42. Qe2 Ke6 43. Re1 Rc5 44. Qd1 Kd7 45. Re4 Ne7 46. Rg4 Rg6 47. Qe2 Nc6 48. Rh8 Qe6 49. Rh7 Kc8 50. Rh8+ Kd7 51. Rh7 Rg8 52. Nd2 Rc2 53. Rh5 Bd8 54. Qd1 Rxd2 55. Qxd2 Qg6 56. b4 Qxh5 57. b5 f5 58. bxc6+ bxc6 59. Rxd4+ exd4 60. Qb2 f4 61. Qxd4+ Kc8 0-1

A. Patel (2410) v Jennifer Yu (2279)

2017 North American Ch U20

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. O-O O-O 10. Bg5 Be6 11. Na3 Nbd7 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. Re1 Ra6 14. d4 e4 15. Nd2 h6 16. Bh4 g5 17. Bg3 Ng4 18. c4 dxc4 19. Nxc4 f5 20. Ncd6 Qf6 21. Bxe6+ Qxe6 22. d5 Qf6 23. Nxe4 Qxb2 24. d6 Qg7 25. h3 fxe4 26. hxg4 Re8 27. Rb1 Qf7 28. Qd4 Nf6 29. Rbd1 Rd8 30. f3 exf3 31. Rf1 Ne8 32. Rxf3 Qa2 33. Ra1 Qe6 34. Re1 Qa2 35. d7 Nd6 36. Bxd6 1-0