The Fantasy Variation

IM Dorsa Derakhshani (2306)

vs WGM Anna Sharevich (2281)

U.S. Womens Championship 2018 round 01

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 (One of the things I like about is learning who is the leading practitioner of an opening and/or particular variation. Heather Richards has played 3 f3, the opening FM Kazim Gulamali, called the “Little Grandmaster” at the House of Pain when still a child, proclaimed the “Caro-Kann Crusher,” in twenty-two games. GM Nikola Mitkov has used the weapon eighteen times; and Artyom Timofeev is credited with playing the Crusher on sixteen occasions. The thing about playing so-called “offbeat” openings is that one can compare the play of other, stronger, players with that of your own play. Chess is a language of sorts. The moves “talk” to you if you will listen. The game you are replaying contains ideas of the players producing the moves. The beauty of Chess is “understanding” those ideas, and possibly incorporating them into your own play. With tools like the and the CBDB ( how can players not be better than their predecessors? If one wanted to learn this opening a good start would be to replay the above mentioned fifty-six games. With only that one would be well-armed for battle in a weekend tournament. Stockfish ‘thinks’ little of the Fantasy variation. If white played 3 Nd2 SF shows an advantage of +0.47. After playing 3 f3 it shows black with a small advantage of -0.2)

3…g6 (After this move Heather leads with ten, scoring seven wins; two draws; and only one loss. GM Julian Hodgson has faced 3…g6 five times, scoring three wins and two draws. Stockfish 8, at depth 49, plays 3…e6, which is a tough not to crack. Houdini 3 x 64 at depth 30 plays 3…dxe4. The CBDB shows white scoring only 52% against 3…e6, but an astounding 64% after 3…dxe4!)

4. c3

(After reading an article advocating this move it was my choice the next time facing 3…g6, something soon regretted because of the lack of development. The Fish at the CBDB has 4 Nc3, but the Fish at ChessBomb shows 4 Be3.)

Bg7 5. Bf4 (Komodo plays 5 Na3 [Najer v Rozum below] or Bg5. The Fish at ChessBomb plays 5 Na3, but I prefer it’s second choice…Qe2!)


(This move is not shown so it is an unsound Theoretical Novelty. Komodo & Stockfish play 5…Nd7. See Mitkov v Azmaiparashvili below for 5…Qb6.)

6. fxe4 e5 (6…Nf6) 7. dxe5

7…Qxd1+ (7… Nd7 is better. If 8. Qd6 Qe7 9. Qxe7+ Nxe7, for example.)

8. Kxd1

Be6 (Stockfish “thinks” black should play 8…f6, with this to follow: 9. Nf3 fxe5 10. Bxe5 Bxe5 11. Nxe5 Nd7 12. Nf3 Ngf6. Black is down a pawn, but the isolated e-pawn can be attacked. It may be the best hope for black.)

9. Nf3 Nd7 10. Nbd2 h6 (There is no reason to delay developing with 10…Ne7)
11. Nc4 (11 Bc4 is better)

11…g5 (She should take the knight with 11…Bxc4)

12. Bg3 Ne7 (SF shows 12..Kf8; Bxc4; g4; & 0-0. The move played in the game is not shown.)

13. Nd6+ (White has a ‘won’ game)

Kf8 14. Kc2 Rb8 (14…Ng6)

15. Nd4 (Why not develop with Bc4?)

Ng6 (SF prefers 15…Bxe5)

16. Be2 (The Fish prefers 16 Rd1)

Bxe5 17. Nxe6+ fxe6 18. Rhf1+ Nf4 19. Nc4 Bc7

20. e5 (And there goes the advantage…20 Rfd1 or a4 keep the advantage)

Ke7 21. Bxf4 gxf4 22. Rxf4 b5 (Why not take the pawn with 22…Nxe5?)

23. Raf1 (I’m “advancing to the rear” with 23 Nd2)

Rbf8 ((23… bxc4 looks strong)

24. Rxf8 (24 Nd2) Rxf8 25. Rxf8 Kxf8 26. Ne3 Nxe5 27. Ng4 Nxg4 28. Bxg4 Bxh2 29. Bxe6 Ke7 30. Bg4 Kd6 ½-½

Derakhshani- Sharevich

U.S. Womens Championship 2018 round 01

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. Bf4 dxe4 6. fxe4 e5 7. dxe5 Qxd1+ 8. Kxd1 Be6 9. Nf3 Nd7 10. Nbd2 h6 11. Nc4 g5 12. Bg3 Ne7 13. Nd6+ Kf8 14. Kc2 Rb8 15. Nd4 Ng6 16. Be2 Bxe5 17. Nxe6+ fxe6 18. Rhf1+ Nf4 19. Nc4 Bc7 20. e5 Ke7 21. Bxf4 gxf4 22. Rxf4 b5 23. Raf1 Rbf8 24. Rxf8 Rxf8 25. Rxf8 Kxf8 26. Ne3 Nxe5 27. Ng4 Nxg4 28. Bxg4 Bxh2 29. Bxe6 Ke7 30. Bg4 Kd6 ½-½

Evgeniy Najer (2706) v Ivan Rozum (2573)

Event: TCh-TUR Super League 2017 07/30/2017

B12 Caro-Kann, Tartakower (fantasy) variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. Na3 e5 6. dxe5 Bxe5 7. exd5 cxd5 8. Bf4 Bxf4 9. Qa4+ Nc6 10. Qxf4 Nge7 11. O-O-O Be6 12. Ne2 a6 13. Nc2 Qa5 14. a3 O-O-O 15. Ned4 Qc7 16. Qf6 Bf5 17. Nxf5 Qf4+ 18. Rd2 Qxf5 19. Qh4 Rd6 20. g3 Qxf3 21. Bh3+ Nf5 22. Rhd1 Kb8 23. Qa4 Qh5 24. Bg4 Qg5 25. h4 Qf6 26. Rf1 Qe5 27. Bxf5 gxf5 28. g4 fxg4 29. Qxg4 Rf6 30. Rxf6 Qxf6 31. Rxd5 Re8 32. Rf5 Qe6 33. Rg5 Qf6 34. Rg8 Qf1+ 35. Kd2 Qf2+ 36. Kd1 Qf1+ 37. Kd2 Qf2+ 38. Kd1 1/2-1/2

Nikola Mitkov (2495) vs Zurab Azmaiparashvili (2625)

Event: Moscow ol (Men) 1994

B12 Caro-Kann, Tartakower (fantasy) variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. Qb3 Be6 7. Qxb6 axb6 8. Nd2 Nd7 9. Bd3 O-O-O 10. Ne2 dxe4 11. fxe4 Bg4 12. h3 Bxe2 13. Bxe2 e5 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Nc4 Kc7 16. dxe5 Bxe5 17. O-O f6 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. Bxf6 Nxf6 20. Rxf6 Rd8 21. Kf2 Rd2 22. Re6 Nd3+ 23. Ke3 Rxe2+ 24. Kxd3 Rxg2 25. Rf1 Rd8+ 26. Ke3 Rg3+ 27. Rf3 Rxf3+ 28. Kxf3 Rf8+ 29. Ke3 Kd7 30. Re5 h6 31. b4 Kd6 32. Kd4 Rc8 0-1


Playing With The Polar Bear

An article on the Chessdom website published March 9, 2015, GM Danielsen publishes The Polar Bear System, caught my eye. It begins, “The famous Grandmaster from Iceland – Henrik Danielsen – has published his first edition of The Polar Bear System. GM Danielsen shared, “I have spent 15 years developing the Polar Bear system. Indeed I have turned every stone in the system and lost many games in doing so. Since there is no theory of importance I had to work hard. I read everything about the Dutch defense and used the ideas with reversed colors. So the theory in the book is mainly created with my own games and analysis.”

“The Polar Bear System starts with 1.f4 (the Bird opening) and then fianchetto of the kings, bishop as a mirror image of the Leningrad Dutch.” (

I have played this system without knowing it was called “The Polar Bear System.” I cannot help but wonder if the chess players down under, in Australia, have developed a Koala Bear System…

I clicked on “See the official website of The Polar Bear System” and saw this, a continuation from above, “I had to select the cream. And turn the cream into a repertoire book. Omitting lines in which I do not believe.

“Every game and every move has been checked by the chess programs Stockfish and Fritz 13. It will not be easy for the reader to find a tactical mistake in the text. It is on purpose I have chosen to comment the games with short text. Boiling the material down and letting the games speak for themselves. The repertoire is for serious club players but also professionals can get inspired.” (

At this point the Polar had me in a Bear hug, so I clicked on where it says, “But the book hear!” I landed in the Amazon, going from the grip of a Polar Bear into that of a Gorilla. For sixteen inflated US digits I could have purchased the “book” with one more click. Unfortunately for me the “book” only comes in digits, and I would need something named a “Kindle” to read those digits. Finding nothing about a real book, I decided to click on “contact” and sent GM Danielsen an email, asking if he had any plans for a book we e-reader challenged people could purchase. This was his reply: “On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:35 PM, The Polarbear System gmhenrikdanielsen wrote:

Hello Michael

thank you for your e-mail, I can hopefully publish the book later. I would like that to happen.
All the best of luck to you also.

GM Henrik Danielsen”

Oh well…Unless and until a book is published I will have to content myself with the video included in the Chessdom article and others I have located, such as this one on youtube: (–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki), and this one, Blitz Chess #1 with Live Comments – Bird Opening vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (b loss). (–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki)

And here is an article found on the USCF website, GM Joel on the Polar Bear, By GM Joel Benjamin, March 18, 2009. (

Reece Thompson Battles the Restless Queens

In the fourth round of the move first, think later, Ga Open, Reece Thompson faced the veteran Senior Alan Piper and once again faced the Caro-Kann defense, and again drew his f3 sword. The Pipe responded with the currently poplar 3…Qb6, which has scored the best for Black recently, holding White to an astounding 41%! White has scored 56% versus the choice of both SF & Houey, 3…e6. The third most played move, 3…g6, has scored 57%, while the second most played move, 3…dxe4 has been hammers to the tune of 66%!

In his new book, “The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking Black with 3. f3,” Alexey Bezgodov titles chapter four, “3…Qb6: The Restless Queen Variation.” Reece answered with the most popular move, 4 Nc3, which has held White to only 41%. Houdini prefers the little played 4 c3, which has held White to an astoundingly low 31%, albeit in a limited number of games. I have previously seen the set-up with c3 used when Black opts for g6. Alan took a pawn with 4…dxe4. There is much disagreement about how to recapture. In the book Bezgodov writes about 5 Nxe4, “I think taking with the pawn is better.” That may be so, but Komodo takes with the Knight, after which White has scored 50% in practice. SF takes with the pawn, 5 fxe4, after which White has scored only 36%. The Pipe then plays 5…e5, about which Bezdodov says, “The whole of Black’s play is based n the possibility of this counterblow. Otherwise he is simply worse.” Reece played 6 Nf3, the most frequently played move, which also happens to be the choice of both SF & Houey, but it has only scored 32%! GM Larry Christiansen played 6 dxe5, a move not for the faint of heart, but possibly the best move, against GM Joel Benjamin at the 2010 US Championship. In a limited number of games Larry C’s move has scored far better, 54%, than 6 Nf3, which is not discussed in the book. After 6…exd4 one Stockfish plays 7 Nxd4, while the other SF plays 7 Qxd4. My antiquated Houdi plays the latter move. The Pipe responded with ‘s 7…Nf6. At this point Reece played a TN, 8 Bc4. The usual move, 8 e5, is also the choice of SF. Alan responded to the new move with 8…Bc5, with advantage. 8…Bg4 is the first choice of both Houdini & Komodo. After the young man checked the Queen with 9 Na4, the older veteran played 9…Qb4, when both Komodo & Houdini prefer 9…Qa5+. Like Lewis & Clark, the players were now exploring new territory.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Alan Piper (2055)
Georgia Open Rd 4 Hurry up time control
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3 exd4 7. Nxd4 Nf6 8. Bc4 Bc5 9. Na4 Qb4 10. c3 Qxc4 11. b3 Qa6 12. Nxc5 Qb6 13. Na4 Qc7 14. O-O O-O 15. Bf4 Qa5 16. Bd6 Re8 17. e5 Ne4 18. Qf3 Nxd6 19. exd6 f6 20. Rae1 Rf8 21. Re7 c5 22. Qg3 g6 23. Qh4 h5 24. Rxf6 Bg4 25. Rxf8 1-0

Nikita Vitiugov (2555) – Lasha Janjgava (2479)
B12 Sevan Blue

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3 exd4 7. Nxd4 Bc5 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 Be7 10. b4 Qe5 11. Bd3 Nf6 12. O-O O-O 13. Bf4 Qh5 14. Qe1 Re8 15. Qg3 Nbd7 16. e5 Nd5 17. Nf5 Bf8 18. Bh6 g6 19. Bxf8 Nxf8 20. Nd6 Re7 21. Rae1 b6 22. Ne4 Qh6 23. Nb2 b5 24. Bc2 Be6 25. Bb3 a5 26. bxa5 Rxa5 27. Nd3 Kh8 28. Ndc5 Raa7 29. Nd6 Qg7 30. Qf2 Ra8 31. Qd4 Nc7 32. Qh4 g5 33. Qd4 Ng6 34. Nxe6 Nxe6 35. Qb6 1-0

Mr. Thompson faced yet another Caro-Kann in the sixth round and his opponent once again had a restless Queen. Neo chose the wrong color pill.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Neo Zhu (1780)
Georgia Open Rd 6

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 e6 5. a3 Nf6 6. Bf4 Be7 7. Nh3 h6 8. Be2 Nbd7 9. O-O Nh5 10. Be3 Nhf6 11. Qd2 Nf8 12. e5 N6d7 13. f4 c5 14. Kh1 a6 15. f5 cxd4 16. Bxd4 Qd8 17. Bh5 exf5 18. Nf4 Nb8 19. Ncxd5 Bg5 20. Bb6 Bxf4 21. Rxf4 Qd7 22. Nc7 Ke7 23. Qb4 Kd8 24. Ne6 Ke8 25. Nxg7 1-0

Once again Reese plays a TN with 6 Bf4. SF plays 6 e5, which could be considered the “normal” move.

Yangyi Yu ( 2585) vs Weiqi Zhou (2585)
Danzhou 1st 2010

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 e6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. a3 c5 7. Qd2 cxd4 8. Nb5 Na6 9. O-O-O Bd7 10. Nxd4 dxe4 11. fxe4 Nc5 12. Ngf3 Ncxe4 13. Qe1 Bc5 14. b4 Bd6 15. Bxd6 Nxd6 16. Ne5 Rd8 17. g4 h6 18. Bg2 Ba4 19. h4 Nb5 20. Nxb5 Rxd1+ 21. Qxd1 Bxb5 22. Kb1 Nd7 23. Nxd7 Bxd7 24. Rh3 Ke7 25. Rd3 Rd8 26. Qd2 Bc6 27. Bxc6 Rxd3 28. Qxd3 Qxc6 29. Qd4 Qh1+ 30. Kb2 b6 31. Qe5 Qd5 32. Qxg7 e5 33. g5 hxg5 34. Qxg5+ Ke6 35. Qg4+ Kf6 36. Qg5+ Ke6 37. Qg4+ Kf6 38. Qg5+ Ke6 39. Qg4+ 1/2-1/2

Yes – I’ve Seen All Good People