Grandmasters Comment on Chess Cheating

One week ago the following email in reply to Comments on the Magnus Carlsen Affair ( was received from Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett:

Kevin Spraggett

Sat, Sep 10, 9:00 AM (7 days ago)

Great article, Mike!

Though I have stayed at arms length from this latest scandal, I should point out that the chess community, Judge or layman alike, has never been able to treat the subject of cheating seriously and with the professionalism that it deserves. In sports there are plenty of ways of ‘proving’ cheating vis a vis drugs and boosters. In chess, our chess players and politicians rush in and tamper with the evidence. FIDE has a well known history of turning every cheating accusation into a public relations scandal. No one (world championship level) is ever ‘proven’ to be cheating, and the community feels that ‘paranoia’ and Fischer-like craziness is an adequate explanation.

This time however, Carlsen’s opponent will likely see his career cut short. He has admitted to cheating. In the court of public opinion (non-chess community) Carlsen’s behavior has been vindicated.

Have a nice weekend!


I appreciate Kevin allowing me to publish his thoughts.

The following short video needs no explanation as the author is one of the most famous streamers in the world. He is also a Grandmaster, who at one time was called the world’s strongest International Master. In addition, he currently resides in the Great State of Georgia, only a short drive north from outside the city of Atlanta, in Roswell, the ninth largest city in the state.

I concur with most of what GM Ben Finegold says in the video:

Matthew Southall
3 days ago
This is why I love you Ben: you’re not afraid to express an unpopular opinion. And you backed up your view pretty well.

3 days ago
When friends asked me why I stopped playing over the board the answer is because I never played in a FIDE-rated tournament that had any anti-cheating measures in place. I have no idea why Finegold’s opinion is unpopular and it actually feels like it’s the most obvious way to handle things. Eventually cheating will define the game of chess if people keep treating like the elephant in the room; it needs to be in the limelight because if more isn’t done to prevent cheating it could literally destroy this game.

IM Boris Kogan was The Trainer

After publishing the two posts concerning IM Stuart Rachels I wanted to notify someone next door in the Great State of Alabama so I went to the Alabama Chess Federation website ( where a picture of NM Bill Melvin,

the Secretary of the ACF, was found. Although I never knew Bill other than the time we sat across from each other over the board the decision was made to reach out with an email:

“In the event you do not remember me I was fortunate enough to defeat you at the Lincoln Memorial U Open decades ago. I can tell you now that immediately prior to the game, after learning we were paired, Tim Brookshear said, “Bacon, you’re paired with the Oleg Romanishin of Southern Chess!” You lived up to the rep when sacking a pawn in the opening. I believe the opening was 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 c6 3 dxc6, etc. In lieu of playing in my customary “fire on the board” style I played my pawns close to my chest, or maybe it would be better to have written “Vest”, while hanging onto the pawn like it was a Titanic life raft!”

Part of the reply:


I understand procrastinating over reading chess books. I have a shelf full of unread ones. It took me only a year to get around to reading Stuart’s book.

I’m more interested in your stories about Boris than about Stuart’s short career. Boris played a lot in area tournaments and was always a bit of a mystery. Most of the anecdotes I heard came from the late Brian McCarthy (I played him a couple years ago at Castle Chess shortly before his passing).

Best Regards,


My first thought was, “A year?!” From the moment the book arrived it was opened and not put down until finished. The first post of the quasi review of Stuart’s book was ready to go but Bill’s words had resonated and it became apparent a preface of sorts was needed because IM Boris Kogan

Boris Kogan

was The Trainer. On page ten of the book it is written:

“Two players were vital for my development: Kyle Therrell (then called Dana), my best friend and local rival; and my trainer from the age of 12, IM Boris Kogan. From Kyle I learned all of my openings, one pairing at a time. Here was our drill: When the pairings were posted before a round, we’d hurry over to a quiet spot. ‘What does so-and-so play?’ I’d ask. My next question was, ‘What do I do against that?’ And finally I’d ask: ‘How is that supposed to be for White//Black?’ Without Kyle, I would have been lost – especially because Boris Kogan had no interest in opening theory. From Boris, I learned the finer points of position evaluation. Kogan played like Petrosian. ‘You must play seemple (itl) chess,’ he always told me. ‘Kviet(itl) moves.’ Thanks to Boris, I eventually became a weak strong player. Without him, I would only have become a dangerous patzer.”

The last two words stopped me in my tracks, causing me to recall a time when walking to the pairing board for the about to begin round and hearing someone say, “What do you mean? The guy is rated over two hundred points below you.” Then Dana Therrell replied, “Yeah, but the guy is dangerous because one round he can beat a master and then lose to a class C player the next round.” After seeing me they both left in a hurry. It was then I learned Dana would be my opponent. The game ended in a long, hard fought draw.

Who was Boris Kogan?

“International Master Boris Kogan, who died of colon cancer on Christmas Day in 1993, is best remembered for playing in three U.S. Championships and winning the Georgia state championship seven years in a row (1980-1986). He was also the coach of Stuart Rachels, helping him advance from being a young national master to sharing the U.S. Chess Championship. What isn’t so well known is that Kogan was a very promising player (Soviet Junior Champion in 1956 and 1957), before making the transition from player to coach at a very early age.”
Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club #696
January 23, 2015

The best way to illustrate how strong a player was IM Boris Kogan is this result:

New York open New York 1984

Apr, 1984 67 (players) 2427 (avg ELO) 276 (games) 9 (rounds)

GM Dzindzichashvili, Roman 2485 7.0
GM Portisch, Lajos 2625 6.5
GM Adorjan, Andras 2570 6.5
GM Sosonko, Gennadi 2560 6.5
GM Kavalek, Lubomir 2545 6.5
Kogan, Boris 2450 6.5
GM Browne, Walter S 2585 6.0
GM Gurevich, Dmitry 2545 6.0
GM Kudrin, Sergey 2520 6.0
GM Gheorghiu, Florin 2495 6.0
GM Hjartarson, Johann 2415 6.0
GM Ljubojevic, Ljubomir 2635 5.5
GM Fedorowicz, John P 2475 5.5
GM Lein, Anatoly 2475 5.5
GM Benko, Pal C 2450 5.5
Frias Pablaza, Victor J 2425 5.5
IM Haik, Aldo 2405 5.5
GM Alburt, Lev O 2515 5.0
GM De Firmian, Nick E 2515 5.0
IM McCambridge, Vincent 2465 5.0

One of the opponents Boris faced in this tournament was Canadian Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett:

Kevin Spraggett (2540) vs Boris Kogan (2450)
Event: New York op
Site: New York Date: ??/??/1984
Round: 5
ECO: A20 English opening
1.c4 e5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Ne7 5.e4 Nbc6 6.Nge2 d6 7.d3 O-O 8.O-O f5 9.exf5 Nxf5 10.Rb1 Nfd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.b4 a6 13.Be3 Rb8 14.a4 Be6 15.h3 h6 16.Kh2 g5 17.b5 a5 18.b6 c6 19.Ne4 Qd7 20.Bc1 Rf7 21.Ba3 Bf8 22.Qh5 Bf5 23.f4 exf4 24.gxf4 d5 25.Bxf8 Rbxf8 26.cxd5 cxd5 27.Nc3 Bxd3 28.Qxh6 Bxb1 29.Rxb1 Nf5 30.Qxg5+ Kh8 31.Nxd5 Qxa4 32.Rc1 Qd4 33.Rc7 a4 34.Qh5+ Kg8 35.Qg6+ Rg7 36.Qe6+ Kh7 37.Qe2 a3 38.Qh5+ Kg8 39.Rxg7+ Qxg7 40.Qe2 Qb2 41.Qg4+ Kh7 42.Qh5+ Nh6 43.Ne7 Rf6 44.Nd5 Rg6 0-1

Who is Kevin Spraggett?

Full name Kevin Spraggett
Country Canada
Born 10 November 1954
Montreal, Canada
Title GM

Kevin Spraggett (born 10 November 1954) is a Canadian chess grandmaster. He is the fourth Canadian to earn the grandmaster title, after Abe Yanofsky, Duncan Suttles and Peter Biyiasas. Spraggett is the only Canadian to have qualified for the Candidates’ level, having done so in 1985 and 1988. He has won a total of eight Canadian Open Chess Championships, seven Closed Canadian Chess Championships, and has represented Canada eight times in Olympiad play. Spraggett has also written for Canadian chess publications.

These days Kevin is probably better known for his excellent blog,, though it has been quite some time since Kevin has posted. GM Spraggett wrote that he, and other GMs, considered Boris a fellow Grandmaster without the title. Please note that the above game, and the one below, were played when Kevin was at the top of his game. The next year he qualified as a contender for the right to play the World Champion by qualifying for the Candidates matches.

The only Canadian ever to have qualified for a candidates tournament was Kevin Spraggett of Montreal, who played in the 1985 and 1988-89 tournaments. He made it to the quarter-finals in his second attempt.

Kevin Spraggett (2540) vs Boris M Kogan (2450)
Date: 1984
Event: World Open
Round: 1
Opening: English Opening, Anglo-Slav Variation, General (A11)
Problems: 53159

  1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 d5 4. Qc2 g6 5. e3 Bg7 6. Nbd2 O-O 7. Bd3 c5 8. cxd5 cxd4 9. e4 e6 10. dxe6 Bxe6 11. O-O Nc6 12. a3 Rc8 13. Qb1 Ng4 14. b4 Nce5 15. Bb2 Nxd3 16. Qxd3 Rc3 17. Qb1 Qb6 18. Bxc3 dxc3 19. Nb3 c2 20. Qxc2 Bxb3 21. Qxb3 Bxa1 22. h3 Nxf2 23. Rxf2 Rc8 24. Qa2 Bg7 25. Kh2 Qd6+ 26. g3 Rc3 27. e5 Qe6 28. Qd2 Bxe5 29. Re2 Rxf3 0-1

Boris died without being awarded the title of Grandmaster, which is a shame because many Grandmasters told me he was a Grandmaster, including but not limited to, Walter Browne, Larry Christiansen, and John Fedorowicz. If your peers consider you to be a Grandmaster who cares what some antiquated organization says or does?

I thought of Boris when reading an excellent article in the 2020 #1 issue of New In Chess entitled, Kamran Shirazi ‘I Never Stopped Loving This Game’: A legendary player still chasing the Grandmaster title, by Dylan Loeb McClain. In the article Shirazi said, ‘I put my whole spirit into this and not to be a grandmaster is a little bit too much.’

‘I put my whole spirit into this and not to be a grandmaster is a little bit too much.’

In order to earn the Grandmaster title a player must jump through many hoops. FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has instituted many picayune rules and In order to earn the Grandmaster title a player must jump through many hoops.

Cruel twist of fate

Frustrated with the relatively few tournaments that offered grandmaster norms, Shirazi moved to France, in 1994. Though he was already in his 40s, he experienced a rebirth and his results in tournaments with grandmaster norms improved.

In a 1998 tournament in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, a seaside town in Northern France, he gained his first norm. Four years later, in Cannes, he earned his second. And then, another four years later, in 2006, in Metz, he earned his third and final norm needed for the title. That should have been enough, but for a cruel twist of fate. During the Cannes tournament, in the penultimate round, he reached his peak rating: 2499, only a point shy of what he needed for the title. According to the rules, achieving a rating of 2500 once in a lifetime is sufficient, even if the required norms are gained later. If Shirazi had won or drawn his final game, his rating would have been over 2500. But he did not know how close he was – it was still a time before rating updates were done after each round. So, in the final round, Shirazi overpressed in a good position and lost. He ended the tournament with a rating of 2486. ‘I missed by one point’, he said, with a hint of incredulity.

I mention this because of something seen in the last round of a Chess tournament in New Orleans, the Plaza in Lake Forest tournament, if memory serves. The two top rated players were Kamran Shirazi and Boris Kogan, and it came down to a battle with only seconds on the clock. The two combatants were moving with such speed it was difficult to follow the moves. Boris had a time advantage and the players were moving at blitz speed when, all of a sudden, Shirazi STOPPED THE CLOCK! Boris took that as a resignation, but Shirazi said he stopped the clock because it was obvious they were only moving the same pieces around and the tournament director should have stepped in and declared the game a draw by repetition. Boris scoffed, but honesty compels me to agree that Shirazi had a point. The problem was that the TD was unqualified and had absolutely no clue what to do. There had been a group of at least a couple of dozen players watching who had been electrified by what they had just witnessed. Although Boris could speak English, it was somewhat mangled, and I became his spokesman. Shirazi also had his spokesman and there was a shouting match between the two of us. Keep in mind this was a time when the Iranians had defied convention and taken United States citizens working at the embassy hostage. My counterpart invited me to “step outside.” The answer was fired immediately. “Let’s go, dude. I’ve got at least a couple of dozen red-blooded Americans right here, right now, ready to step outside with a couple of IRANIANS!!!” Kamran and his buddy beat a hasty retreat to the hotel… The tournament director later paid out the prize money as if the game had been drawn, and the USCF backed him up. Boris never got over it, lamenting, “He stopped the clock…”

If one did not know how FIDE has operated over the decades it would be difficult to understand why neither player became a Grandmaster. Certainly both players were of Grandmaster caliber and both should have been awarded the title because the title has been awarded to much lesser players. Because of things like this the title has lost its luster.

Battle of the Sexes Chess Tournament

Before reading further please replay this game:

  1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Qa5 7. b4 Qf5 8. Qe3 Qe6 9. Bb2 Qxe3+ 10. fxe3 f6 11. Bc4 e5 12. a3 a5 13. bxa5 Rxa5 14. d4 e4 15. Nd2 Bf5 16. O-O Bg6 17. a4 Bb4 18. c3 Be7 19. Be6 Nd7 20. Nb3 Ra7 21. c4 Rf8 22. a5 Bf7 23. Bxf7+ Rxf7 24. g4 h5 25. h3 hxg4 26. hxg4 g6 27. Rf2 b6 28. Bc3 Bd8 29. Nd2 f5 30. Raf1 Bh4 31. Rh2 Bg5 32. Rh8+ Ke7 33. axb6 Bxe3+ 34. Kh1 Nxb6 35. Nxe4 Ra4 36. gxf5 gxf5 37. Re1 Nxc4 38. Nc5 Ra2 39. Rb1 Rc2 40. Ba1 Nd6 41. Rh2 Rxh2+ 42. Kxh2 f4 43. Nd3 Ke6 44. Kg2 Kf5 45. Kf3 Rg7 46. Rb8 Rg3+ 47. Ke2 Nc4 48. Rf8+ Kg5 49. Rg8+ Kh4 50. Rh8+ Kg4 51. Rg8+ Kh3 52. Rh8+ Kg4 53. Rg8+ Kh5 54. Rh8+ Kg5 55. Rg8+ Kh5 56. Rh8+ Kg4 57. Rg8+ 1/2-1/2

I had no intention of writing anything about the GibChess Battle Of The Sexes before checking out the games this morning. After being out of the house for several hours the games were concluded upon my return. The game just presented caught my attention. Regular readers will understand why…

Jovanka Houska

IM Jovanka Houska, courtesy of John Upham Photography

is a WGM and was the subject of a previous post ( Jovie, as she is known, has been a prolific writer about Chess, such as opening books, and even a novel, a paperback doorstop. She can be seen broadcasting Chess games. Ms. Houska has made a nice career out of Chess, the kind of career that must make a male National Master envious, if not mad as HELL, because the fact is many, if not all, men resent the favoritism shown women involved with the Royal Game. The fact is it would be almost impossible for a male 2300 player to have the income granted Ms. Houska simply because she is a woman. Name the last 2300 rated male you saw broadcasting any kind of Chess game. They would not be taken seriously. Period. How many books do you think the 2300 male about whom I am writing would sale? “WGM” is for, “Woman Grandmaster.” It does not mean Jovanka is a Grandmaster who happens to be a woman. The word alone, “Grandmaster,” signifies a Grandmaster Chess player. A Grandmaster can be of either sex. Only a woman can be a “Woman Grandmaster.” Are you confused? That’s OK, so is the Chess world. To become a “Grandmaster” a player must meet certain requirements (excepting those that do not), one of which is a minimum rating of 2500. To give you an idea of the range of a Grandmaster, the World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, is rated over 2850. A National Master of the United States must have a rating of at least 2200. A Senior Master (and that does not mean “Senior” as in older[er] player) must have a rating of at least 2400. Now that you have that straight let us move on to what it takes to become a “WGM.” It takes all of 2300 points to become a “WGM.” I kid you not. If a male reaches 2300 he is still a “NM”. In Chess circles once a player reaches 2300 he is said to be a “Solid Master.” This writer reached and went over 2000 a few times and became an “Expert.” Things were much different ‘back in the day’ because there were far fewer players and no rating inflation. For example, around the time this writer was winning the Atlanta Chess Championship, Expert players were a factor in winning many Chess tournaments, and I do not mean tournaments of the local variety. In 1974 “A master-level chess player who had been playing chess since his childhood, (Alan) Trefler

Karpov 2010 Campaign Kick-off Party

competed in the 1975 World Open Chess Championship in New York City. Still a college student at Dartmouth, he entered the tournament with a 2075 Elo rating, 125 points below the lowest master-rated player, ranking him 115th overall in the tournament. He went on to be crowned co-champion along with International Grandmaster Pal Benko, who was rated at 2504. Trefler also placed ahead of Grandmasters such as Walter Browne and Nicolas Rossolimo, as well as future Grandmaster Michael Rohde.” (

It is an insult to Caissa for anyone to call any player of any sex a “Grandmaster” if rated only 2300. It is an insult to ALL GRANDMASTERS and has only served to cheapen the once lustrous title. That is why Chess now has terms such as, “Super Grandmaster,” and “Mid-Level Grandmaster,” and “Weak Grandmaster.” The vast majority of women who play the Royal Game fall into the latter category. Think of it this way, ‘Back in the day’ when women wanted to join the US Military there was a problem they could not solve; pushups. Women could not do the minimum number of push-ups, so the rules were changed allowing women to do push-ups while on their knees. Male soldiers must still do regular push-ups the old fashioned way by balancing on their toes. The battle still rages: (

Before leaving the the house last move made in the Eric Rosen (2356) vs Jovanka Houska (2365) game above was 21…Rf8. My first thought, exactly, was, “What The Fork?” I do not understand this move. It did, though, remind me of a former student in Louisville, Kentucky, who was being home schooled because he had pulled the fire alarm at school. He would make a non sequitur move like this and when asked why he made the move would invariably answer, “I dunno.” Got to be where I replied, “Just needed a move, huh.” That was about the only time the kid cracked a smile. Nevertheless, if you would like to explain the move to my readers Jovanka, please, by all means, do so by leaving an explanation in the comment section. After returning I made a strong cuppa Joe while thinking about the Too Much Coffee Man, real, actual Chess Grandmaster, and former candidate for the World Championship, Kevin Spraggett (,

and then sat down to replay the remainder of the game. The first move that shocked me was 33 axb6, which allows 33…Bxe3+! CHECK! Maybe there is a time when allowing your opponent to take a pawn while checking your King is a good idea. Then again, maybe not…
41 Rh2 (Turn out the lights the party is definitely O’ver)
After both moves numbered 44 I knew there would be much RED when later looking at the MOVES over at the ChessBomb. Like everyone else in the Chess world not named Allen Priest the Armchair Warrior was expecting 44…f3+, because everyone knows, “Passed pawns must be pushed.” I was uncertain after she played 45…Rg7, but I’m no Grandmaster. Then comes the move that ends the game, 47…Nc4. Ask any student and they will tell you this writer as a Chess teacher has been known to vociferously yell at the top of his lungs, “EXAMINE ALL CHECKS!!!” As I tell the children in a much softer voice later, “Always examine all checks because sometimes a check turns out to be CHECKMATE!” Before playing the ill-fated and lame Knight move Jovanka had to see the next move her opponent made would lead to a drawn game by perpetual check, yet played it anyway, thus acquiescing to the draw. What can be said other than this is pitiful Chess, and not because it was played by a player with “GM” attached to her name. Not winning a game that should have been won would be bad for any player of any sex and any rating, excepting, again, Allen Priest.

Rosen, Eric (USA) – Houska, Jovanka (ENG)
Gibraltar Chess Festival | Battle of the Sexes 2022 round 02
B10 Caro-Kann, two knights variation

  1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Qa5 7. b4 Qf5 8. Qe3 Qe6 9. Bb2 Qxe3+ 10. fxe3 f6 11. Bc4 e5 12. a3 a5 13. bxa5 Rxa5 14. d4 e4 15. Nd2 Bf5 16. O-O Bg6 17. a4 Bb4 18. c3 Be7 19. Be6 Nd7 20. Nb3 Ra7 21. c4 Rf8 22. a5 Bf7 23. Bxf7+ Rxf7 24. g4 h5 25. h3 hxg4 26. hxg4 g6 27. Rf2 b6 28. Bc3 Bd8 29. Nd2 f5 30. Raf1 Bh4 31. Rh2 Bg5 32. Rh8+ Ke7 33. axb6 Bxe3+ 34. Kh1 Nxb6 35. Nxe4 Ra4 36. gxf5 gxf5 37. Re1 Nxc4 38. Nc5 Ra2 39. Rb1 Rc2 40. Ba1 Nd6 41. Rh2 Rxh2+ 42. Kxh2 f4 43. Nd3 Ke6 44. Kg2 Kf5 45. Kf3 Rg7 46. Rb8 Rg3+ 47. Ke2 Nc4 48. Rf8+ Kg5 49. Rg8+ Kh4 50. Rh8+ Kg4 51. Rg8+ Kh3 52. Rh8+ Kg4 53. Rg8+ Kh5 54. Rh8+ Kg5 55. Rg8+ Kh5 56. Rh8+ Kg4 57. Rg8+ ½-½

1 e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Qa5 (This is the old move, still played by the middle-aged ‘old guard’ players who rest on their laurals without putting in the effort to keep up with current opening theory. It was the choice of Stockfish 13, but Stockfish 14.1 @depth 49, and SF 310121 @depth 60, have progressed to the better move of 6…Nd7) 7. b4 Qf5 (Another antiquated move made by the woman better known for broadcasting Chess in lieu of playing the game. Three different SF programs all play 7…Qd5, and so should YOU!) 8. Qe3 Qe6 9. Bb2 (Fritz and Houdini both show 9 Be2 best, but Stockfish 14 would play a move yet to be played by a titled human being, 9 d4. The move is not shown at Keep in mind I am using the ‘Big’ database which includes games from chumpy lumpies, like you and me. Surprisingly, two games can be found at the Chessbase Database)

Nona Gaprindashvili vs Milunka Lazarevic

At the end of 2021 Chessbase published an outstanding two part article by Diana Mihajlova
Milinka Merlini, on the left while still in Yugoslavia; on the right, in Paris commenting on the 1972 Fischer – Spassky match | Photo: Heritage des Echecs Francais

concerning Milunka Lazarević and former World Woman Chess Champion Nona Gaprindašvili. The first is entitled, Milunka Lazarević, the female Tal ( The second: Milunka Lazarević: “Tal is my Zeus” ( This is Chess history at its best. The two-part series is so excellent it should receive some kind of award. With that in mind, the Armchair Warrior has decided to take it upon himself to declare the articles the best Chess historical articles of 2021.

Both articles begin: “Nona Gaprindashvili

wrote referring to Milunka Lazarevic:

Milunka Lazarevic

“A literary person by profession, lively and impressionable, Lazarevic is one of the brightest figures in women’s chess of the sixties”. Milunka attracted attention by her exciting, uncompromising style: sacrificing pawns and pieces and despising draws, which made her famous and endeared her to chess audiences!”

Pictured: Lazarevic, Tengiz Giorgadze and Gaprindashvili (National Parliamentary Library of Georgia)

After spending an afternoon reading the articles and replaying every game I thought nothing about the articles until reading that FIDE, in its wisdom, decided to declare 2022 “the year of the woman in chess.” ( The best writing on the subject can be found at the website of GM Kevin Spraggett in a piece titled, FIDE: Gender Equality, Equity and Breast Implants ( Kevin parses the phrases, ‘gender equality’ and ‘gender equity’ by breaking down the difference between the two words, “equality” and “equity.” Having worked for an attorney known as the “Wordsmith” this writer is well aware of what a difference there can be depending on which word is chosen.

Arkady Dvorkovich

is the President of FIDE and “He is famous for being a Politician.” (

Eva Repkova

Eva Repková.

is FIDE’s Women’s Commission Chair. I have no idea of what she is famous for or even how famous is she. I do know that there is internecine warfare being waged between ‘gender equality’ and ‘gender equity’ in the world of FIDE and who wins the battle will have a HUGE impact upon the world of Chess in the future.

Nona Gaprindashvili (2326) vs Milunka Lazarevic, (2160)
Event: Cheliabinsk Seniors (Women)
Site: Cheliabinsk Date: 12/21/2005
Round: 5
ECO: A80 Dutch
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.d5 Ne4 7.c4 e5 8.b3 d6 9.Bb2 Nd7 10.Nbd2 Nxd2 11.Qxd2 f4 12.gxf4 Rxf4 13.e3 Rf5 14.Qe2 Nf6 15.Nd2 Rh5 16.f3 Bd7 17.Rf2 Qe7 18.Nf1 Rc8 19.Re1 Rh4 20.Ng3 Nh5 21.Nf1 Bh6 22.Qd1 Qf7 23.Ree2 Rf8 24.Qe1 Qe7 25.Bc1 Bh3 26.Bxh3 Rxh3 27.Nd2 e4 28.fxe4 Bxe3 29.Rxe3 Qg5+ 30.Rg3 Rxg3+ 31.hxg3 Qxg3+ 32.Kf1 Qd3+ 33.Kg1 Qg3+ 34.Kf1 ½-½

1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.d5 (This is not the best move and you know the woman who was the woman World Chess champion from 1962-1978 knew this, so there must be a reason Nona played a second, or third rate move. One can only speculate as to the reason…The last time these two women had met for combat across the board was at the Medellin Olympic (Women) ( way back in 1974, the year I came from nowhere to win the Atlanta Chess Championship. Nona won the first two games contested but Milunka fought back, winning the next two games. After a couple of draws in 1964 they did not meet again until 1966, at which time Nona asserted herself, winning the next three games over the next eight years, and they did not meet again until this game. In limited action, forty games, the move 6 d5 has not fared well) 6…Ne4 (This move is not in the Chessbase Database, but there are two games with the move found at 365Chess. The second follows:

Ricardo Galindo (2275) vs Gustavo Albarran (2192)
Event: Metropolitano-ch
Site: Buenos Aires Date: 06/24/2000
Round: 4 Score: ½-½
ECO: A04 Reti opening
1.Nf3 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.d4 f5 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.O-O O-O 6.d5 Ne4 7.Nbd2 Nd6 8.c4 c5 9.e3 e5 10.Rb1 e4 11.Ne1 Na6 12.a3 b5 13.b3 Rb8 14.Qc2 Qb6 15.f3 exf3 16.Bxf3 Nf7 17.Nd3 d6 18.Bb2 Bxb2 19.Qxb2 Bd7 20.Bg2 Rbe8 21.e4 Ne5 22.Qc2 Qd8 23.Nxe5 Rxe5 24.cxb5 Bxb5 25.Nc4 Bxc4 26.bxc4 fxe4 27.Bxe4 Rxf1+ 28.Rxf1 Qe8 29.Bf3 Re1 30.Qf2 Rxf1+ 31.Qxf1 Qe3+ 32.Kg2 Nc7 33.Bg4 Kg7 34.Qa1+ Kh6 35.h4 Ne8 36.Qh8 Qe4+ 37.Bf3 Qe7 38.Kh3 Qf7 39.Kg2 Nf6 40.Qd8 Nd7 41.Be4 Kg7 42.a4 Nf6 43.Bf3 Qd7 44.Qb8 a5 45.Qb6 Qxa4 46.Qxd6 Qc2+ 47.Kh3 Qf5+ 48.Kg2 Qc2+ 49.Kh3 ½-½

The Queens Were Dancing At The Uppsala Chess Festival

After seeing the players in the GM section of the Uppsala Chess Festival I looked forward to watching the action for several reasons. First, the Tiger was participating. That would be GM Tiger Christopher Robin Hillarp-Persson,

about whom I wrote a post, not because of Chess, but because he plays the ancient oriental game of GO ( Tiger has a website ( but has not posted since May 6, 2020.

Another reason was that GM Mihail Marin

was playing. He is a prolific author and also has a website. ( The last post was May 14, 2020 and includes this picture:

Then there is the fact that the two wily old veterans were to battle players young enough to be their children, and/or grandchildren.

After being away from the board for so long recent over the board Chess tournaments have a sort of petri dish quality. The question of what kind of effect playing no Chess, or online Chess, would have on the players and the quality of the games was in the air.

The website contains many pictures. Unfortunately the only name to be found is of the photographer. From the website: The two new Swedish champions Jung Min Seo

and junior champion Ludvig Carlsson

are two of the participants in the grandmaster tournament. The will meet strong competition, among them some other players from the Swedish junior elite, such as Milton Pantzar and Isak Storme.

Tiger Hillarp is one of the most well known Swedish grandmasters and will together with Romanian GM Mihail Marin represent the experience, and in addition to the Swedish young stars, they will face the shooting stars as Plato Galperin from Ukraine and Valery Kazakovsky from Belarus.

GM Tiger Hillarp, ​​Sweden, 51 (2542)
GM Mihail Marin, Romania, 56 (2502)
IM Valerij Kazakovskij, Belarus, 21 (2499)
IM Plato Galperin, Ukraine, 18 (2490)
IM Jung Min Seo, Sweden, 19 (2453)
GM Emil Mirzoev , Ukraine, 25 (2437)
IM Milton Pantzar, Sweden, 20 (2421)
FM Isak Storme, Sweden, 20 (2397)
FM Kaan Küçüksarı, Sweden, 18 (2365)
CM Ludvig Carlsson, Sweden, 18 (2258)

The average age of the field was avg 27.6. Without the two Seniors the average age was 21.125.

The tournament organizers provided a nice perk for the players:

Posted on 9 August, 2021
Coffee free of charge

We are happy to offer free coffee throughout the tournament. The coffee is available in the lobby, next to the secretariat.

I know my friend GM Kevin Spraggett would approve! Maybe the organizers could invite Kevin next year. They would not even have to pay him an appearance fee as the free coffee would be inducement enough for the ‘not enough coffee man’!

The tournament began with much blood being spilled on the board in every round. Four of the five games in the first round were decisive, with white scoring three wins. Black won the only two decisive games in the second round. There was blood on each and every board in round three as all five games ended decisively with white again scoring the most, four, wins. Round four was a mirror image of round two, as black again scored two wins in the only games to end in victory. White won the only decisive game in the fifth round. White won two games in the sixth round with black scoring once. The seventh round saw one win for each color, and white scored the only win in the eight round. The last round sputtered to a conclusion with each and every game ending in a draw. Maybe the players had lost so much blood earlier in the tournament they were too weak to battle…

All the games can be found at Chess24 ( Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the ChessBomb, as there were myriad problems. See for yourself: (

As it turned out this game played a significant role in the tournament:

IM Platon Galperin (2490) vs GM Mihail Marin (2502)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 03
A04 Reti v Dutch

1.Nf3 f5 2. d3 Nc6 3. e4 e5 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nf6 6. Be2 Be7 7. c4 d6 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. O-O Qe8 11. f3 exf3 12. Bxf3 Bd7 13. Re1 Qf7 14. Qa4 c5 15. Qd1 Rae8 16. Nd5 Bd8 17. Bg5 Rxe1+ 18. Qxe1 Be6 19. Bxf6 Bxf6 20. Nxf6+ Qxf6 21. dxc5 Bxc4 22. cxd6 cxd6 23. b3 Bf7 24. Rd1 d5 25. Qa5 d4 26. Qxa7 Rd8 27. Be4 Bh5 28. Rf1 Qg5 29. Qc7 Qe3+ 30. Kh1 Re8 31. Qc4+ Kh8 32. Qc6 Kg8 33. Qd5+ Kh8 34. Qf5 1-0

1.Nf3 f5 2. d3 (SF 060621 @depth 49 plays 2 c4; SF 12 at the same depth shows 2 g3) 2…Nc6 (SF & Komodo both go with the most often played move of 2…d6) 3. e4 (Although the most often played move, SF goes with 3 d4) 3…e5 4. d4 (The number of games in which this move has been played dwarfs, by a 10-1 margin, the second most played move, and is the choice of SF 11, but SF 12 @depth 39 would play 4 Be2, a move that has seen action in only one game in the CBDB!) 4. d4 fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nf6 (SF 180621 plays 5…Qf6, a move that has only scored 49% according to the CBDB. The game move has scored 53%. You cannot go wrong if you go with the Fish!) 6. Be2 (SF 14 @depth 39 plays 6 Bc4 and it has scored at a rate of 58%, with 6 Be2 scoring only 53%. Just sayin’…) 6…Be7 (Komodo prefers 6…Bd6. There are only two games in the CBDB with that particular move. Fritz, and Deep fritz both play the most often played move, 6…Qe7) 7. c4 (This Theoretical Novelty is a New move! See below for 7 0-0)

Vilmos Balint (2288) vs (FM) Mark Lyell (2313)
Event: FSIM September 2015
Site: Budapest HUN Date: 09/12/2015
Round: 7.4
ECO: A04 Reti v Dutch

1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 Nc6 3.e4 e5 4.d4 fxe4 5.Nxe5 Nf6 6.Be2 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.f3 d6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Nc3 exf3 11.Bxf3 Bd7 12.d5 c5 13.b3 Qe8 14.Qd3 Ng4 15.Bb2 Ne5 16.Qe2 Nxf3+ 17.Rxf3 Rxf3 18.Qxf3 Qg6 19.Qe4 Qg5 20.Rf1 Bf6 21.Nd1 Bxb2 22.Nxb2 Re8 23.Qf3 Qe3+ 24.Qxe3 Rxe3 25.Nd3 Bb5 26.Re1 Rxe1+ 27.Nxe1 Kf7 28.Kf2 Kf6 29.Ke3 Bd7 30.a3 a5 31.Nf3 Bf5 32.c3 Bg4 33.Kf4 Bf5 34.Ng5 Bd3 35.Ne4+ Kg6 36.Ng5 Bc2 37.b4 cxb4 38.cxb4 axb4 39.axb4 Bb3 40.Ne6 c6 41.Nc7 Ba4 42.g3 Kf7 43.dxc6 Bxc6 44.b5 Bg2 45.b6 Ke7 46.Nb5 Kd7 47.Nd4 Bd5 48.Kg5 Be4 49.h4 Bd3 50.g4 Be4 51.h5 Bd3 52.Kf4 Ba6 53.Nf5 g6 54.hxg6 hxg6 55.Nd4 Kc8 56.Kg5 Bd3 57.Kf6 Kb7 58.Ke6 Kxb6 59.Kxd6 g5 60.Ke5 Bf1 ½-½

GM Emi Mirzoev (2437) vs GM Mihail Marin (2502)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 05
B20 Sicilian, Keres variation (2.Ne2)

  1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 d6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O Nc6 6. c3 e5 7. Na3 Nge7 8. Nc2 d5 9. d3 O-O 10. Bg5 Be6 11. b4 cxb4 12. Nxb4 Nxb4 13. cxb4 d4 14. Qa4 a6 15. Rfc1 Qd6 16. a3 Rfc8 17. Qd1 Rxc1 18. Rxc1 Rc8 19. h4 Rxc1 20. Qxc1 f6 21. Bd2 Qc6 22. f4 Qxc1+ 23. Nxc1 Nc6 24. Kf2 Bf8 25. Bf3 Bd6 26. Bd1 Kf7 27. h5 Ke7 28. hxg6 hxg6 29. Bb3 Bxb3 30. Nxb3 Ke6 31. Kf3 Be7 32. Bc1 ½-½

1.e4 c5 2. Ne2 (SF 13 @depth 69 calculates 2 Nc3 the best move. 2 Ne2 cannot be found in the CBDB. It can be found at and the following game shows that Mirzoev deviated at move 11, thereby producing a Theoretical Novelty with 11 b4)

GM Valeriy Aveskulov (2539) vs Jeff Reeve (2205)
Event: Edmonton 2nd
Site: Edmonton Date: 08/02/2007
Round: 1
ECO: B20 Sicilian, Keres variation (2.Ne2)

1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 d6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 g6 5.O-O Bg7 6.c3 e5 7.Na3 Nge7 8.Nc2 d5 9.d3 O-O 10.Bg5 Be6 11.Qc1 Qd7 12.b3 f6 13.Be3 d4 14.cxd4 cxd4 15.Bd2 Rfc8 16.Qb2 b5 17.b4 Rc7 18.Rfb1 Rac8 19.Ne1 Nd8 20.Nc1 Nb7 21.Nb3 Bf8 22.a3 a6 23.Rc1 Rxc1 24.Nxc1 Rc7 25.f4 Nc8 26.fxe5 fxe5 27.Nf3 Bd6 28.Ng5 Nb6 29.Nxe6 Qxe6 30.Qa2 Qxa2 31.Rxa2 Na4 32.Kf1 a5 33.Nb3 Nc3 34.Ra1 axb4 35.axb4 Bxb4 36.Bh3 Kf7 37.Ra6 Bd6 38.Ke1 Na4 39.Na5 Nac5 40.Nxb7 Nxb7 41.Bg4 b4 42.Bd1 Be7 43.Bb3+ Kg7 44.Ra7 Bc5 45.Ra8 Bf8 46.Ra7 Bc5 47.Ra8 Bf8 48.Ke2 h6 49.Bd5 Bc5 50.Rg8+ Kh7 51.Re8 Be7 52.Rb8 Nd8 53.h4 g5 54.h5 Kg7 55.Bxb4 Bxb4 56.Rxb4 Nf7 57.Kf3 Nd6 58.Rb6 Rd7 59.Rb8 Re7 60.Kg4 Ne8 61.Kf5 Nd6+ 62.Kg4 Ne8 63.Rb6 Nf6+ 64.Kf5 Nd7 65.Rg6+ Kh7 66.Bg8+ Kh8 67.Be6 Nc5 68.Rxh6+ Kg7 69.Rg6+ Kh7 70.Bg8+ Kh8 71.Bc4 1-0

The following game illustrates what is wrong with Chess these daze. Take a look at the position after Galperin made his last move. Why would his 18 year old opponent agree to a draw? The only way he is going to improve is to PLAY! He will not improve his game by meekly acquiescing to a short draw. It is games like these that show why ALL TOURNAMENTS SHOULD IMPOSE A NO AGREED DRAW RULE! Take a good look at the position when the game was truncated:

IM Platon Galperin (2490) vs CM Ludvig Carlsson (2258)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 08

A40 Modern defense; after black move 2 it becomes the: B06 Robatsch (modern) defense; then after white move five it becomes the: B08 Pirc, classical system, 5.Be2

  1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Be2 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. O-O a6 7. Re1 Nc6 8. d5 Na7 9. h3 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. Bf1 c6 12. dxc6 Nxc6 13. Bg5 h6 14. Bf4 Nh5 15. Be3 Nf6 16. Bf4 Nh5 17. Be3 Nf6 18. Bf4 ½-½
Black to move accepts draw offer

The two old-timers showed the children how to battle to a draw:

GM Mihail Marin (2502) vs GM Tiger Hillarp Persson (2542)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 08
B20 Sicilian defence

  1. e4 c5 2. d3 g6 3. f4 Bg7 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Be2 d6 6. O-O e6 7. c3 Nge7 8. Na3 f5 9. exf5 Nxf5 10. Qe1 Qd7 11. Ng5 h6 12. Ne4 h5 13. Bf3 O-O 14. Nc2 b6 15. Ng5 d5 16. Ne3 Nce7 17. Nxf5 Nxf5 18. h3 Bf6 19. g4 hxg4 20. hxg4 Nd6 21. Qh4 Qg7 22. Qg3 Nf7 23. Nxf7 Qxf7 24. Bd2 Bb7 25. Rae1 Rae8 26. Re2 Bg7 27. Qh4 Qf6 28. Qh3 Ba6 29. Bg2 Qd8 30. f5 exf5 31. Rxe8 Rxe8 32. gxf5 Bc8 33. Qf3 Bxf5 34. Qxd5+ Qxd5 35. Bxd5+ ½-½
  1. e4 c5 2. d3 g6 (SF 13 @depth 51 plays 2…Nc6) 3. f4 (SF 14 agrees) 3…Bg7 (SF & Komodo both play the most often played move of 3…Nc6. There is a reason…) 4. Nf3 Nc6 (Although Komodo plays this, the KingFish prefers 4…Nf6. The CBDB contains only two games with the move. Go figure…) 5. Be2 (SF is high on 5 c3) 5…d6 6. O-O e6 (This is the second most often played move. SF 050621 @depth 44 plays the most often played move 6…Nf6, but SF 13 @depth 52 would play 6…b5. There are only 4 examples of that move contained in the CBDB) 7. c3 (7 Na3, by transposition, did not turn out well for
    GM Bent Larsen (2660) vs Robert James Fischer (2760)
    Event: Candidates sf1
    Site: Denver Date: 07/20/1971
    Round: 6
    ECO: A02 Bird’s opening

1.f4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.e4 Bg7 4.Be2 Nc6 5.O-O d6 6.d3 e6 7.Na3 Nge7 8.c3 O-O 9.Be3 a6 10.d4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 b5 12.Nxc6 Nxc6 13.Qd2 Qc7 14.Rad1 Rd8 15.Nc2 Rb8 16.a3 Na5 17.e5 Bf8 18.b4 Nc6 19.Nd4 dxe5 20.fxe5 Nxe5 21.Bg5 Rd5 22.Qf4 Bg7 23.h4 Rb7 24.Bf6 Bxf6 25.Qxf6 Qxc3 26.h5 gxh5 27.Kh1 Ng4 28.Bxg4 hxg4 29.Qh6 Bd7 30.Rf4 f5 31.Qf6 Bc8 32.Rff1 Rf7 33.Qh6 Bb7 34.Nxe6 Qf6 35.Qe3 Re7 36.Rde1 Rd6 37.Qg5+ Qxg5 38.Nxg5 Rxe1 39.Rxe1 Bd5 40.Re8+ Kg7 0-1)

7…Nge7 (SF plays this, by far the most played move. Komodo plays 7…Nf6. There are two examples of the move at the CBDB) 8. Na3 (SF plays 8 Be3) 8…f5 (SF 8 @depth 26 plays 8…a6, a TN. Komodo @depth 31 castles)

White to move

9. exf5 (This is a TN. SF would play 9 Be3, and if you ever reach this position, so should you!)

What would GM Ben Finegold say about the following game? I was shocked, SHOCKED! to see 5 f3 has been played in 2684 games. Those players have obviously never heard of the Ben Finegold rule, which is, “Never play f3!”

Even more shocking was the Tiger response of 5…Nc6, when every Russian school boy knows 5…e5 is the move. Go figure…The other thing to be said about this game is that both players have a position in which it can be proven that “a knight on the rim is dim,” and or grim, depending…At Chess Bomb one sees that Stockfish would play 42 Ng3 with black to follow with 42…d5, and shows white with a substantial advantage of over two points in computer calculation. With that knight leaping to f5 things are looking good for the kid. Well, you know, Ludvig is only 18, and possibly playing his idol…and it’s the last round…and he has already acquiesced to one short draw with black, so what is another one? THAT IS WHY THERE SHOULD BE A NO DRAW OFFER RULE!!! Then again, from the website it appears all the kid needed was a draw to earn an IM norm…What if the players only received pay for winning a game? Just askin’…

CM Ludvig Carlsson (2258) vs GM Tiger Hillarp Persson (2542)
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 09

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. f3 Nc6 6. c4 Qb6 7. Nc2 e6 8. Nc3 Be7 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Nb5 Qb8 11. Nc3 O-O 12. Qd2 b6 13. Be2 Bb7 14. O-O Ne5 15. Rfd1 Rc8 16. b3 a6 17. Nd4 h5 18. Rac1 Re8 19. Bf1 h4 20. Qf2 h3 21. gxh3 Ned7 22. Bg2 Bf8 23. Nde2 b5 24. Ng3 bxc4 25. bxc4 Rc8 26. Bf1 Rc6 27. Nce2 Qe8 28. Nd4 Rc7 29. Nb3 Rac8 30. Na5 Ba8 31. Kh1 Nc5 32. Nb3 Nfd7 33. Be2 Na4 34. Rg1 Ne5 35. Bd4 Ng6 36. Nh5 e5 37. Be3 Qe6 38. Qg3 Rxc4 39. Bxc4 Rxc4 40. Qg4 Rxc1 41. Rxc1 Qe7 ½-½

Here we have a case of two players being from the same country with one, Galperin, needing only a draw to secure a GM norm. Thing is, his opponent is a 2437 rated GRANDMASTER! Back in the day a 2400 player was considered a SENIOR MASTER! Think about it for a moment. In the US each rating group is a 200 point group. 1200 to 1399 is class D; 1400 to 1599 is class C; 1600 to 1799 is class B; 1800 to 1999 is class A; 2000 to 2199 is Expert; 2200 to 2399 is National Master. Then it gets murky…A player must have a 2500 rating to earn his Grandmaster title, which leaves only one hundred points for International Master. In that case, what is a Senior Master? There was a time when a Chess aficionado could name all the Grandmasters in the world. I have the 2021 Chess calendar and will tell you I have never heard of half the names printed on the pages. It is long past time to raise the GM bar to 2600. Frankly, the title has been so cheapened it would be better to raise the bar to 2700 and then the IM title would mean something.

What were the odds it would come to two players from the same country facing each other in a last round game with a GM title, or norm, I was unable to find which one, on the line? As my old friend Ron Sargent, ‘Lieutenant Shoulders’ in Viet Nam, was so fond of saying, “Spozed to happen.” This is a perfect example of why the the three time repetition rule must be abolished. A player repeating the same position for the third time should automatically lose the game. The less said about this ‘game’ the better.

GM Emi Mirzoev (2437) Ukraine vs IM Platon Galperin (2490) Ukraine
Uppsala Chess Festival GM 2021 round 09

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Be2 Na6 9. Bd6 Qxg2 10. Qd2 Nf6 11. Bf3 Qg6 12. O-O-O e5 13. Ne2 Be6 14. Bxe5 Qf5 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Nd4 O-O 17. Qc3 Qh6+ 18. Kb1 Qg6+ 19. Kc1 Qh6+ 20. Kb1 Qg6+ 21. Kc1 Qh6+ ½-½
Final position

The Chess Grandmaster Title Limbo: How Low Can The Age Go?

In an article at, What it takes to be the world’s youngest Grandmaster: Abhi Mishra,

Leon Watson writes: “The youngest grandmaster in chess history has revealed two of the secrets to his success: working on the game 12 hours a day and studying hard on Chessable.”

I found this sad, because there are only 24 hours in a day, and there is so much to learn for a preteen child who has yet to reach puberty. How much time does that leave for socialization, the necessary interacting with other children, or humans of any age? How much time is there for the child to learn the basics of education, reading, writing and arithmetic, not to mention history, and all the other facets of life each child should learn before becoming an adult.

In a recent email Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett wrote:

“In some senses I feel sorry for the lad. He has already been the focus of some very negative commentary from top players about how these tournaments are being arranged just so that he can succeed.

Too bad, because he is clearly talented. In the next couple of months a few record will appear, etc. etc. It is just another rabbit hole.”

It is also sad to realize Mishra has no chance to ever become World Chess Champion because he started two years too late. Meet the future Chess Champion of the World:

In what other game do children compete with adults? How did it become accepted, and “normal” to see young children battling seasoned professionals?

Does anyone in the Chess community question the efficacy of children competing against adults? Is there anyone in the Chess community who cares what happens to the child?

The post was written and published on July 3, 2021. I have no idea why the video was pulled, so will attempt to again today, July 4, 2021 to insert it in the post, along with a few others, while hoping at least one of them will be allowed to be remain published:

Leningrad Dutch Daze

It all began on the early in the week when I opened an advertisement from New In Chess with notification of the publication of two books by the excellent writer GM Mihail Marin:

Then on Thursday, June 17, GM Kevin Spraggett posted Chess and the AfterLife on his excellent blog, Spraggett on Chess, ( which includes a segment about Chess in the cemetery, in which one sees this picture:

I was reminded of a time when a lovely young woman, Cecil Jordan, drove an old, beat up, green DeSoto all the way from Sacremento, California, to Atlanta, Georgia, to become a stewardess for Delta Air Lines. The apartment we shared happened to be close to a cemetary. One evening we went for a walk and she brought along her camera…to take pictures of us in the cemetary. Can you believe some of our friends could not understand why?

Fortunately, Kevin’s article also includes the game between the late Cuban Grandmaster Roman Hernandez and a talented 17-year old Spanish expert, David Rivas Vila, which happened to be a Leningrad Dutch! I urge you to surf on over and play over the game, of course, after reading this post and playing over all of the games, all of which are open with the Leningrad Dutch!

Then in the opening round of the National Open this game was seen at the ChessBomb:

Rochelle Wu, (2144) vs GM Alexander Shabalov (2532)

Las Vegas National Open 2021 round 01

  1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 c6 4. Nf3 Qa5 5. Qd2 d5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxd7 Bxd7 8. e3 g6 9. Be2 Bg7 10. h4 b5 11. a3 O-O 12. b4 Qd8 13. O-O a5 14. Qc1 Be8 15. Qb2 a4 16. Rad1 Nd7 17. Na2 h6 18. Bf4 e5 19. dxe5 Qxh4 20. Qc3 Ra6 21. Nc1 Qe7 22. Nd3 g5 23. Bh2 Nb6 24. Nc5 Ra8 25. Qd4 Bg6 26. Rd2 f4 27. exf4 gxf4 28. Bxf4 Rae8 29. Bd3 Bxd3 30. cxd3 Bxe5 31. Bxe5 Qxe5 32. Qxe5 Rxe5 33. Rc1 Rfe8 34. Kf1 Rh5 35. Kg1 Rhe5 36. Kf1 Rh5 37. Kg1 Rhe5 ½-½
  1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 c6 (Stockfish plays 3…d5) 4. Nf3 (SF plays 4 e3) 4…Qa5 5. Qd2 (TN)

Hottes, Dieter vs Kauder, Hartmut
Event: FRG-chT fin
Site: Minden Date:1959
Round: 2.3
ECO: A80 Dutch

1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 c6 4.Nf3 Qa5 5.e3 Ne4 6.Bd3 d6 7.O-O Nxc3 8.bxc3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Bg7 11.Nd2 O-O 12.f4 gxf4 13.Nc4 Qc7 14.exf4 Nd7 15.Qe2 Nf6 16.Bh4 Nd5 17.Qd2 Bd7 18.Rae1 e6 19.Ne3 Qa5 20.Nxd5 cxd5 21.Rb1 Bxd4+ 22.Kh1 Bxc3 23.Qe2 Qc7 24.g4 Rae8 25.Rg1 Kh8 26.gxf5 exf5 27.Qh5 Bc6 28.h3 Qf7 29.Rg6 Bg7 30.Rxh6+ Bxh6 31.Qxh6+ Qh7 32.Bf6+ Rxf6 33.Qxf6+ Qg7 34.Qh4+ Qh7 35.Qf6+ Qg7 36.Qh4+ Qh7 37.Qxh7+ Kxh7 38.Bxf5+ Kh6 39.Kg2 Rf8 40.Bd3 Rxf4 41.Kg3 Ra4 42.Re1 Rxa2 43.Re7 Kg5 44.Re6 Ra3 45.Rxd6 a5 46.h4+ Kh5 47.Rf6 Rc3 48.Kf4 Rxd3 49.cxd3 a4 50.Rf8 Kg6 51.Ke5 Kg7 52.Ra8 Kg6 53.Kd6 Kg7 54.Kc5 Kg6 55.d4 Kh5 56.Rh8+ Kg6 57.Rf8 Kh5 58.Rh8+ Kg6 59.Kb6 a3 60.Ra8 Kh5 61.Rxa3 Kxh4 62.Rf3 Kg5 63.Kc5 Kg6 64.Kd6 Kg5 65.Rf2 Kg4 66.Ke5 Kg3 67.Rf4 Kh3 68.Kf5 Kg3 69.Kg5 Be8 70.Rf5 Bc6 71.Rf7 Kh3 72.Rf3+ Kg2 73.Kf4 Bb5 74.Ke3 Bc4 75.Rf6 b5 76.Kd2 Kg3 77.Kc3 Kg4 78.Kb4 Kg5 79.Rf2 Kg4 80.Kc5 Kg5 ½-½

Shabba, my man, four time winner of the US Championship,

brought the Leningrad back into action again a few rounds later:

FM Eric Li (2278) vs GM Alexander Shabalov (2532)

Las Vegas National Open 2021 round 04

c4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 d6 7. Nc3 c6 8. d5 e5 9. dxe6 Bxe6 10. Qd3 Na6 11. Ng5 Re8 12. Rd1 Nc5 13. Nxe6 Rxe6 14. Qc2 Qe7 15. e3 Qf7 16. b3 h5 17. Bb2 h4 18. Ne2 hxg3 19. hxg3 Rd8 20. Bd4 Nce4 21. Nc3 Rf8 22. Nxe4 Nxe4 23. Qb2 Bh6 24. b4

Black to move

This position vividly illustrates something I have told students over the years, which is to count the pieces on each side of the board, or total the points of each piece, if you prefer. Looking at this position Mr. Li has a lone Bishop on the King side of the board. The remainder of his army, the Queen, both Rooks, and the other Bishop, are on the Queenside of the board. All five pieces of Shabalov’s army are on the Kingside! This means the General of the black army MUST PLAY ON THE KING SIDE OF THE BOARD! Black must attack NOW. The move that best satisfies that objective is 24…g5.

24…b6 25. Rac1 g5 26. Qc2 g4 27. Rd3 Bg5 28. c5 bxc5 29. bxc5 d5 30. Rb1 Bf6 31. Qa4 Ng5 32. Kf1 Qh7 33. Rdd1 f4 34. gxf4 Nf3 35. Bxf6 Qh2 36. f5 Qg1+ 37. Ke2 Rxe3+ 38. Kxe3 Re8+ 39. Kd3 Qxg2 40. Qxc6 Ne5+ 41. Bxe5 Qe4+ 42. Kd2 1-0

  1. c4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 (SF plays 2…e5) 3. Bg2 (SF 240521 @Depth 43 plays 3 Nf3; SF 13 @Depth 30 plays 3 d4) 3…g6 (SF plays 3…e5) 4. Nf3 (SF 170621 @Depth 37 plays the game move, but SF 13 at the same depth would play 4 d4) 4…Bg7 (SF 070321 @Depth49 and Komodo @Depth 36 both play this move, but SF 070420 plays 4…d6) 5. 0-0 (Interestingly, SF 13 @Depth 35 plays this move, but SF 070321 @Depth 52 plays 5 d4; while Komodo at depth 40 plays 5 Nc3) 5…O-O 6. d4 (SF plays 6 Nc3) 6…d6 (Although SF 13 @Depth 40 plays this move, SF 190521 @Depth 44 prefers 6…c6, as does Houdini) 7. Nc3 c6 8. d5 (Although far and away the most often played move SF 110521 going deep @Depth 55 would play 8 Qc2; Komodo @Depth40 plays 8 Rb1) 8…e5 9. dxe6 Bxe6 10. Qd3 (The old move. Three different SF engines show 10 b3) 10…Na6 (Again, the old move. Both SF and Houdini play 10…Re8) 11. Ng5 (Three different programs conclude 11 Bf4 is the best move) 11…Re8 (SF plays 11…Nc5) 12. Rd1 Nc5 13. Nxe6 Rxe6 14. Qc2 Qe7 (TN)

I vividly recall watching a game at the Atlanta Chess and Game Center (aka House of Pain) when a young player by the name of Matthew Puckett, from the Great State of Alabama, played the Leningrad Dutch against Grandmaster Sam Palatnik. It was not often we saw a GM go down at the House of Pain, but this was one of those times. Although on duty that Sunday afternoon I continued to ask someone to watch things while I made another trip up the stairs. I was worn out that night and my knees hurt from going up and down the stairs so many times, but it was worth all the pain.

Grivas, Efstratios (2465) vs Palatnik, Semon (2510)
Event: Iraklion op
Site: Iraklion Date:1992
Round: 6
ECO: A88 Dutch, Leningrad, main variation with c6

1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.c4 d6 7.Nc3 c6 8.d5 e5 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.Qd3 Na6 11.Ng5 Re8 12.Rd1 Nc5 13.Nxe6 Rxe6 14.Qc2 Nfe4 15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Be3 Qe7 17.Bd4 a5 18.e3 h5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Rd4 Re8 21.Rad1 Qc7 22.h4 Kf7 23.Bf3 R8e7 24.Kg2 Ke8 25.a3 Nf6 26.b4 axb4 27.axb4 Ng4 28.Bxg4 fxg4 29.Qd3 c5 30.bxc5 dxc5 31.Rd5 Kf7 32.Ra1 Qc6 33.Kg1 b6 34.Rd1 Rf6 35.Qc2 Qe6 36.Qb2 Qe4 37.Rd6 Rxd6 38.Rxd6 Re6 39.Rd7+ Re7 40.Rd8 Re8 41.Rxe8 Kxe8 42.Qxb6 Qxc4 43.Qxg6+ Ke7 44.Qxh5 Qc1+ 45.Kg2 c4 46.Qc5+ Ke6 47.h5 Qc2 48.Qc8+ 1-0

The next game features Georgia resident GM Alonso Zapata. There are now two Grandmasters living in the greater Atlanta area, the other being GM Ben Finegold, who lives in Roswell with his wife, Karen:

where the new Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Atlanta ( is located. I can recall a time when Atlanta area players wished and longed for just one Grandmaster for the area, one in particular, an educated fellow called “Foghorn,” who was particularly strident about the need for a Grandmaster, as if that would cure all that ailed Chess in the metropolitan area. The foghorn stopped blowing one day when a much higher rated player said, “Quit your belly aching, Foghorn. Not even the World Champion could help your game!”

Adharsh Rajagopal (2051 USCF) vs Alonso Zapata (2518 USCF)

Carolinas Classic 2021 round 01

  1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O c6 7. b3 O-O 8. Bb2 Qe8 9. Nc3 e5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Ba3 Rf7 12. Ng5 Rd7 13. Qc2 h6 14. Nh3 Na6 15. Rad1 Rxd1 16. Rxd1 Be6 17. f3 Rd8 18. Nf2 Bf8 19. Bxf8 Qxf8 20. Nd3 Nb4 21. Nxb4 Rxd1+ 22. Qxd1 Qxb4 3. Qd2 Kf7 24. Qe3 Nd7 25. Kf2 a5 26. Nd1 Qc5 27. f4 exf4 28. gxf4 Qd6 29. Ke1 a4 30. Qd2 Qc5 31. Qe3 Qa3 32. Qc3 Qc5 33. Qe3 Qd6 34. Qd2 Qe7 35. Qc3 axb3 36. axb3 Qa3 37. Qb2 Qc5 38. e3 Qb4+ 39. Qc3 Qxc3+ 40. Nxc3 Nc5 41. e4 Nxb3 42. exf5 gxf5 43. Bf1 Ke7 44. Nd1 Kd6 45. Ne3 Kc5 46. Bh3 Nd4 47. Bf1 Kb4 48. Kf2 Kc3 49. Bh3 Kd2 50. c5 Kd3 51. Bg2 Nb3 52. Bh3 Ke4 0-1
  1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O c6 7. b3 (Stockfish plays 7 Nc3) 7…O-O (SF plays 7…e5) 8. Bb2 Qe8 (SF plays 8…a5; Komodo chooses 8…Na6) 9. Nc3 (Komodo plays the game move, but SF plays the most often seen move according to the CBDB, 9 Nbd2; Houdini likes 9 Re1, a move seen in only one game) 9…e5 (SF plays this, but the Dragon prefers 9…Na6)10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Ba3 Rf7 12. Ng5 (TN)

Braum, Hermann Josef vs Weiland, Thomas
Event: Wiesbaden op 17th
Site: Wiesbaden Date: 08/27/1998
Round: 7
ECO: A88 Dutch, Leningrad, main variation with c6

1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nf3 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.b3 Qe8 9.Bb2 e5 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Ba3 Rf7 12.Qc2 e4 13.Ng5 Rd7 14.Rad1 h6 15.Rxd7 Nbxd7 16.Nh3 Ne5 17.f4 Neg4 18.Qd2 Qd7 19.Rd1 Qxd2 20.Rxd2 Be6 21.Be7 Kf7 22.Rd8 Rxd8 23.Bxd8 Ne3 24.Bc7 Nd7 25.Nb1 Bd4 26.Ba5 Nxc4+ 0-1

Nicholas Ladan (2095 USCF) vs Alonso Zapata (2518 USCF)

Carolinas Classic 2021 round 03

  1. d4 f5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nh3 Bg7 5. Nf4 Nc6 6. h4 e5 7. dxe5 Nxe5 8. b3 Ne4 9. Bxe4 fxe4 10. Kf1 Ng4 11. c3 c6 12. f3 Nf6 13. Qd6 Kf7 14. Ba3 Re8 15. Kg2 b6 16. Rd1 Bb7 17. g4 Kg8 18. h5 g5 19. Nh3 Nd5 20. Kf2 Re6 21. Qg3 c5 22. Bc1 h6 23. f4 e3+ 24. Kg1 Qc7 25. Rxd5 Bxd5 26. Bxe3 Rae8 27. Bf2 Rxe2 28. Na3 Bb7 29. Nc4 Qc6 30. Kh2 d5 31. Ne3 R8xe3 0-1

d4 f5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 (SF & Komodo play 3 h4) 3…Nf6 4. Nh3 (SF plays 4 c4; Komodo prefers 4 Nd2) 4…Bg7 5. Nf4 (SF plays 5 c4) 5…Nc6 (SF plays 5…c6) 6. h4 (SF plays 6 c4) 6…e5 (SF & Komodo both choose 6…d6) 7. dxe5 Nxe5 8. b3 (TN) (If given the chance SF 12 @Depth 29 would play 8 Be3, which would be a TN. SF 11 @Depth 42 would play 8 Nd2, as would Komodo. Which gives me a chance to show a game from the Magister of the Leningrad Dutch, the man who wrote, literally and figuratively, the book on the Leningrad Dutch:

Calin Dragomirescu (2259) vs Malaniuk, Vladimir P (2532)
GM Vladimir Malaniuk

Event: Timisoara Brinzeu mem
Site: Timisoara Date: 03/22/2006
Round: 5
ECO: A81 Dutch defence

1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nh3 Nc6 5.Nf4 Bg7 6.h4 e5 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Nd2 c6 9.Nf3 Nfg4 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.O-O d5 12.Be3 O-O 13.Bd4 Nc4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.b3 Ne5 16.Qd4 Qf6 17.Rad1 Kg8 18.e3 Be6 19.Nd3 Nd7 20.Qxf6 Rxf6 21.Nf4 Nb6 22.Rd4 Re8 23.Rfd1 Bf7 24.a4 a5 25.Bf1 Kf8 26.Bg2 Bg8 27.Nd3 Rf7 28.Nc5 Rc7 29.Bf1 Ke7 30.b4 Ra8 31.Rb1 Kd6 32.bxa5 Rxa5 33.Rxb6 Kxc5 34.Rb1 Be6 35.Rdb4 Bc8 36.Rf4 Re7 37.Bd3 Kd6 38.c4 dxc4 39.Rxc4 Kc7 40.Re1 Rd7 41.Bc2 c5 42.Rf4 Rd6 43.Rd1 Rxd1+ 44.Bxd1 b5 45.Bc2 b4 46.e4 Kd6 47.h5 Ke5 48.hxg6 hxg6 49.Rh4 Be6 50.exf5 gxf5 51.f4+ Kd4 52.g4 b3 53.Bb1 Rxa4 54.gxf5 Bd5 0-1

The Leningrad Dutch book by Malaniuk is currently booking for about $900 US at the Gorilla, aka, Amazon. It can be downloaded FREE here:

FIDE Out Of Step With Rest Of World

The 2020 Candidates tournament began today in total disregard for what is happening in the world. This screams

how out of touch is the leadership of FIDE.

This can be seen at the FIDE website:

FIDE as the locomotive of the international chess
— Аркадий Дворкович, Президент Международной шахматной федерации

(Arkady Dvorkovich, President of the International Chess Federation)

FIDE is currently a runaway train.

Arkady Dvorkovich,

FIDE President, is only a titular figurehead. The real power behind FIDE, and therefore, International Chess, is Vladimir Putin, leader of the Russian ship of state. No decision by anyone in Russia is made without the approval of Vlad the Impaler. This is made clear in the excellent book, Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth by Rachel Maddow.

As former MSNBC host Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews

so eloquently put it, “Russia is a filling station with nukes.” Putin cannot stand being only a small “regional power,” as former POTUS Barack Obama

so eloquently stated. Vlad longs to become the Impaler by resurrecting the old Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin has wreaked havoc in the USA by illegally assisting the whacko, Donald John Trump, in subverting the election process in order to become POTUS. Putin has had a hand in Brexit. Vlad has impaled the rest of the world by fomenting dissension all over the globe. Where ever Putin puts his hands there is death.

It is time for the USCF to part ways with the Putin led FIDE. I call on the movers and shakers at USCF to immediately withdraw from FIDE. The United states of America, and the rest of the world, will be better for it. This is something those in power at USCF should have done a long time ago, but, frankly, there has been no one in a leadership position with the cojones to pull US out of Putin’s FIDE. It is long past time for those in charge of the USCF to “grow a pair.”

What follows is taken from Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett’s excellent website:

Vladimir Kramnik, former World Champion, has saved the reputation of the chess community proving that not all elite chess players are motherless whores only interested in easy money and online celebrity status.

Kramnik was supposed to be part of the Chess24 commentary team catering to the online chess community’s interest in the Candidates Tournament that started today.

Demonstrating utter lack of solidarity with the world community’s struggle against the lethal coronavirus that has already taken thousands of lives, Dvorkovich and some 2000 other brave (?) souls showed up for the opening ceremony last night! None of the participants appeared, apparently afraid of catching the damn virus!

Below is former World Champion Garry Kasparov’s take on things…


Kramnik distances himself from Dvorkovich/Covid-19





With A Little Feedback From My Friends

Upon opening my email this morning I noticed a comment had been left regarding an earlier post, Chess Segregation, published October 13, 2019. ( After reading the comment by David Quinn I approved what he had to say, then continued surfing…but I continued thinking about David’s comment. I had forgotten exactly when the aforementioned post was published so I went back and found it, learning it had been published some months ago. I then decided to publish his entire comment on the blog:

David Quinn says:
January 14, 2020 at 2:08 am

I tried to tell USCF that a male member (no pun intended) is just as worthy as a female member, and we should be trying to recruit chessplayers without regard for the gender stuff. That view was ignored of course. And FIDE is even worse than USCF in its pretense that restricted women’s chess is as good as just plain chess.

I remember chatting with the late John Peters, several time US champion who never quite got the GM title. I guess the title was harder to get then. We were playing in a “futurity” event at Lina Grumette’s house, where I was invited as an up and comer who had recently made expert, and the US women’s champion Diane Savereide who was a low master was also playing, as was John. I had just beaten her by exploiting what I had noticed, that her play has no patience. So I got a small durable positional edge and just sat and basically let her self-destruct. John knew her well because he was the guy the USCF paid to coach her. (I never got a chess coach, let alone one provided by USCF!). I was chatting with John out on the front lawn. I think he had just beaten me, although I had an advantage into the early middle game before learning why he was a strong IM and I wasn’t. I asked him if Diane, the perennial US women’s champion, was really talented, because it didn’t seem like it to me. He said no. This confirmed my suspicions about chess politics, and how even a US champion had to bow to it to earn a living, and so I just decided to make master and quit, which I did a year or two later. Fortunately I had a real source of income.

It must, however, be noted that women’s chess can attract larger crowds to watch their 24 and 2500 players, than men’s chess does for its 27 and 2800 players. Personally I like chess, and I like women, but I don’t really care if they coincide in the same person.

The day the Chess Segregation was published I received a succinct email from GM Kevin Spraggett:

From: Kevin Spraggett
To: Michael Bacon

Oct 13, 2019 at 7:06 PM

Great article, Michael! Deeply researched. I will study it more carefully.

No doubt you will be criticized for telling some unpleasant truths and asking some uncomfortable questions.

Have a good evening!

Grandmaster Spraggett’s wonderful blog, one of the best, if not the best, Chess blogs being published, can be found here:






Yakov Vilner First Ukrainian Chess Champion and First USSR Chess Composition Champion: A Review

Having earlier reviewed Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution ( I was pleased when a new book, published by Elk and Ruby ( and by the same author, Sergei Tkachenko,

appeared in the mailbox. Yakov Vilner: First Ukrainian Chess Champion and First USSR Chess Composition Champion,

is the follow up to the aforementioned book.

Tkrachenko writes in the introduction to the latter book, “I found clear evidence that the versions that Alekhine was saved by important Soviet functionaries were incorrect. Historical facts and memoirs pointed to the undoubted fact that his salvation was down to the modest Jewish lad Yakov Vilner, who at the time the grandmaster was arrested was working as a clerk in the Odessa revolutionary tribunal.

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about this figure. However, it transpired that there was little ready information about Vilner. Even his date of birth was unknown. Well, I then spent eight years researching him until the curtain of mysteriousness finally fell! I now saw a vivid and gifted personality who had the “luck” to live in such turbulent times.

Moreover, I collected so much material that on the advice of historians among my friends I decided to split it into two books, with the material on Alexander Alekhine’s three trips to Odessa compiled as a separate book (subsequently published later in 2016 in Russian and in 2018 in English, as Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution, which was short-listed for the 2018 English Chess Federation Book of the Year).

The book you are now reading was originally intended as a prelude to the book on Alekhine and is devoted to the first Ukrainian Chess Champion, first USSR Chess Composition Champion and first Odessa Master Yakov Semionovich Vilner, who in 1919 managed to save Alekhine from death and thereby cange the courst of chess history.”

Before reading the two books by Sergei Tkachenko what I knew about Ukraine could be summed up in the sentence, “Ukraine was the breadbasket of the USSR.” Because of the attempt of the Commander in Thief of the DisUnited States of America, Donald John (has any POTUS ever had a better fitting middle name?) Trumpster to gain another term as POTUS by strong arming the young President of Ukraine that country has been in the news often this year. In an attempt to learn more about Ukraine I recently watched two documentaries, Ukraine on Fire, and Revealing Ukraine. Oliver Stone

is the Executive Producer, which was all I needed to know to watch. My knowledge of Ukraine was increased exponentially by watching the films, which were viewed between reading the two aforementioned books.

From a historical perspective I enjoyed the book, yet wondered how many others would be interested in what was happening in Chess a century ago. The first book was about a former World Chess Champion with a backdrop of radical political change containing firing squads for those with a different political thought. Firing squads feature in the Vilner book but the drama is lacking. Yakov Vilner was obviously a fine Chess player, but unfortunately, his health was sometimes bad because he had asthma. Thus, his Chess results were rather erratic. The same can be said about the Chess games. For example, the second game, versus Boris Koyalovich, features 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 f6? I kid you not. This is the kind of move Chess teachers of children often encounter. The author writes, “One of the weakest ways to defend the Spanish. Koyalovich clearly chooses it to avoid the well-known variations.” I’ll say! This game was played during the Tournament of Kislovodsk in 1917.

When healthy Yakov Vilner was the best player in Odessa, and Ukraine. He was good enough to finish in a three way tie for sixth place in the eighteen player 3rd tournament Championship of the USSR in 1924 played in Moscow in August/September.

Some of the games are interesting and the annotations are excellent. For example, consider this game from the 4th USSR Championship played in Leningrad 1925:

Yakov S Vilner

vs Boris Verlinsky

URS-ch04 Leningrad 1925

E00 Queen’s pawn game

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 Bb4 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.Qc2 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 d6 8.Ne2 c5 9.O-O Nbd7 10.Ng3 Qc7 11.f4 cxd4 12.cxd4 Rc8 13.e5 Nd5 14.Qb3 Ne7 15.Ba3 d5 16.Rac1 Qd8 17.f5 O-O 18.f6 gxf6 19.exf6 Ng6 20.Bxg6 hxg6 21.Be7 Qe8 22.Qe3 Kh7 23.Nf5 1-0

The author writes, “A game of fireworks! Interestingly, almost all of white’s moves were consistent with Rybka’s first line. In our days that might have led to allegations of cheating!” This is a sad indictment of modern Chess. Spurious allegations by, for example, have forced former online players to go elsewhere. An example can be found at GM Kevin’s Spraggett’s wonderful blog with the post, Blogger’s Reputation Intentionally Smeared? ( Reading the article caused me to do some checking around and one of the things learned was that one local youngster was given the boot from for allegedly “boosting.” The youngster was accused of creating false accounts to play in order to beat them and “boost” his rating. The youngster did no such thing, yet had no recourse other than to leave and play at one of the other, more reputable, websites. How many players have been falsely accused by ?

Another game from the same tournament attests to the strength of Vilner.

Efim Bogoljubow

vs Yakov S Vilner

URS-ch04 Leningrad 1925

D49 Queen’s Gambit Declined semi-Slav, Meran, Sozin variation

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 axb5 13.O-O Qd5 14.Qf3 Ba6 15.Bg5 Be7 16.Rfc1 O-O 17.Qh3 h6 18.Bf4 Bb7 19.Re1 Bb4 20.Re2 Rxa2 21.Rf1 Rfa8 22.f3 Bf8 23.Ng4 Nxg4 24.Qxg4 Qb3 25.Bb1 Rxb2 26.Ree1 d3 27.Rc1 Ra1 28.Bc2 Rxc1 0-1

The annotations to both games were provided by Yakov Vilner. The author writes, “Naturally, I wanted to find out more about this figure. However, it transpired that there was little ready information about Vilner. Even his date of birth was unknown. Well, I then spent eight years researching him until the curtain of mysteriousness finally fell! I now saw a vivid and gifted personality who had the “luck” to live in such turbulent times.”

Vilner was very ill for a time and the title of one chapter is, How To Combine Treatment With Playing. Then came the Odessa Championship tournament of 1927.

“At first, everything went to plan. On 12 April the 12 best players of Odessa began their battle for the city championship. After round 4 Vilner headed the field with a perfect score. But then his illness returned. The tournament committee managed to postpone several of Vilner’s games so that he could complete the tournament. His short rest brought dividends. After round 8 Yakov Semionovich was still a point ahead of Sergei Ballodit and 1.5 ahead of Dmitry Russo. Vilner then had to play each of them in the final rounds. Such intrigue would have been hard to make up! A reporter hiding behind the initials AMO shared his observations in the newspaper Odessa Izvestia. The column was entitled Before the end and stated:

“Final games. Vilner-Ballodit. Two stubborn “wolf-dogs”. They will battle to the end, to the final pawn. They both possess deep theoretical preparation and have mastered the complex meandering of combinational play. Who will come out on top? So they begin. We see agile bishops slipping out. Knights crawling over the heads of pawns. Carefully feeling out the paths, the queen emerges.
A schematic position has already appeared. Vilner “presses”. With an apparently strong front, Vilner strides towards a difficult but possible victory. Vilner analyzes dozens of variations. He thinks ahrd. But the clock isn’t sleeping. Maestro, time is running out. The maestro makes his move. Then another and another. Time is running out. He needs to catch up.
Well, his opponent is “time-rich”, and coldly calculating. time-trouble disrupts the accuracy of the plan. “Enemy” pieces ahve already broken through. One blunder and it’s death. A crush is close… The game cannot be saved. Destruction…”

This reminded me of the battles between IM Boris Kogan and LM Klaus Pohl, the German Shepard, ‘back in the day’. Boris usually took the measure of Klaus, but occasionally the Krazy Kraut would do the measuring. Ballodit played second fiddle to Vilner, but took over first position in this particular tournament.

Also found is this:

“In order to popularize chess, two rounds were played at factories in the city: at the jute factory and the leather goods factory. “Chess to the masses”, as the slogan went! But of course sharp games are the best adverts for chess.” (The USSR was as full of slogans as it was full of excrement)

Vilner finished near the bottom of the Fifth championship of the USSR in 1927, but did inflict a defeat upon future World champion Botvinnik in the tournament.

Yakov S Vilner vs Mikhail Botvinnik

Moscow 1927
A45 Queen’s pawn game

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Qd3 g6 4.h3 Nc6 5.Bf4 Bf5 6.Qd2 Bg7 7.e3 O-O 8.g4 Bc8 9.Bg2 Re8 10.Nf3 Ne4 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Ne5 Be6 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bxe4 Bd5 15.Qd3 e5 16.dxe5 Bxe5 17.Bxd5 cxd5 18.Bxe5 Rxe5 19.O-O-O c6 20.h4 Qd7 21.Qc3 Rae8 22.Rd4 Qd6 23.h5 c5 24.Rdd1 Re4 25.hxg6 Qxg6 26.Rxd5 Rxg4 27.Qxc5 Rg2 28.Rd2 Qg4 29.Rhd1 h5 30.Rd8 Rxd8 31.Rxd8+ Kh7 32.Rd4 Rg1+ 33.Kd2 Rd1+ 34.Kc3 Rxd4 35.Qxd4 Qg5 36.Qd7 h4 37.Kd2 Kg6 38.Qh3 Qd5+ 39.Ke2 Qe4 40.Kf1 Kh6 41.f3 Qxe3 42.Qxh4+ 1-0

We humans like to speculate about “what if?” As in, “What if Klaus Junge

had not died in World War Two?” ( How many players have died needlessly on a battlefield somewhere in yet another war without end? Hopefully, one day peace will break out… Reading this book brought another to light.

Alexander Moiseevich Evenson (1892-1919)

“He became recognized as a top chess player in 1913 after winning the All-Russian amateurs tournament with a score of 6.5 out of 7! He edited the chess column of the newspaper Kievan Thought (Kievskaya Mysl) (1914). Graduated from the Law Faculty of the Stl Vladimir Kiev University. Fought in WWI. Served in the cavalry and was injured. A Knight of the Order of St. George. Died in the Civil War. According to one version, he served in Kiev as an investigator of the military-revolutionary tribunal and was shot by a Denikin forces’ firing squad after the latter captured the city. Another version has that Evenson actually signed up as a volunteer for Denikin’s white army and was killed in unclear circumstances. Alekhine and Capablanca considered Evenson to be one of the most talented chess players of his time.

The 6th Championship of the USSR was held in Odessa from September, 2-20, 1929. Because of the large number of participants it came to be thought of as “Odessa roulette”. There were so many players because the Communists in charge wanted to welcome “the masses.”

“A record number of players took part – 36! Of these, 14 were masters and 22 were first category players. How were such a large number of players to be paired off? Oddly enough, the tournament had no clear regulations. It was all decided on an ad hoc basis. At the opening, the organizing committee proposed two options for holding the tournament to the players: either six groups each with six players and one game per day, or four groups each with nine players and three games every two days. The majority voted for the second option, which was later subject to harsh criticism… by the very same players. That’s democracy for you!”

The infamous communist apparatchik, Nikolai Krylenko,

who in the 1930s headed the Soviet chess and checkers associations. ( (, wrote in Chess List:

“The outcome of the USSR championship has given rise to a number of critical articles in our periodical publications, most of which lack sufficient objectivity.”

Objectivity being whatever Lenin or Stalin said…

“Many secrets of the championship remained backstage. The biggest one was Izmailov’s withdrawal from the final. The master’s son recalled:

This championship could well have become Izmailov’s hour in the sun. He was only 23,
he was gaining ground and his game was blossoming, but alas, my father didn’t play in the final. Why? I attempted to establish this but failed to do so. In Chess List Duz-Khotimirsky wrote about “the need to take university exams”. Kan in 64 writes that Izmailov withdrew from the tournament at his own volition. Pravada and Izvestiia referred to illness, while Komsomolskaya Pravda cited exhaustion. Half a century later, recalling this episode, my mother told me that in the mid 1930’s she and my father held a conversation on this subject (they didn’t yet know each other in 1929), and he confirmed that he was healthy and ready to continue the battle, but he was forced to leave…

So who forced Izmailov to leave Odessa? Whom was this talented chess player impeding? Is fecit cui prodest (“it was done by the person for whom it was advantageous”). Seven years after the Odessa tournament ended, Piotr Izmailov was arrested by the NKVD and accused of “Trotskyist-Fascist activity”. He was eventually sentenced to the firing squad on 21 April 1937 and executed the next day.”

As for the protagonist, “At the end of October 1930, Vilner moved to live in Leningrad. Is it not surprising that a person suffering from serious asthma suddenly abandons the warm Odessa climate with its curative sea air in favor of the rainy climate of Northern Palmyra? I consulted with doctors specializing in heart and respiratory illnesses what such a change of environment could bring. They told me that it would mean serious stress on the body and was quite a suicidal step! So why did Vilner, despite his illness, prefer Leningrad? Had he planned this change of residence in advance?”

“At the end of the 1920s the political climate in Odessa worsened, as it did throughout the country. The ideological war against Trotsky and his supporters


reached an apex by the beginning of 1929. At the end of January, the former Minister for War and Naval Matters was secretly transported along with his family from exile in Almaty to Odessa. It was here that the ferry with the symbolic name Illych awaited him. On the night before 11 February the ferry set course for Constantinople accompanied by an icebreaker and government officials, and the next day Trotsky reached Turkey. With Trotsky’s expulsion, the USSR intensified its purges of his supporters and mentors. Christian Rakovsky, the protector of Alexander Alekhine and one of the leaders of Soviet power in Ukraine, was cruelly punished. He had been expelled from the party back in 1927 and then sent to internal exile in Barnaul in 1929. His party membership card was returned to him in 1935 and he was even entrusted to head the All-Union Red Cross society, but not for long. He was arrested in 1937, sentenced to 20 years in jail, and then shot at the start of the war. Vilner also suffered during the battle against Trotskyism.”

It seems Vilner chose the wrong side…

“Vilner didn’t quite live to the age of Christ – he was granted less than 32 years on this earth. Yakov Rokhlin published an obituary on the Odessite in the June edition of Chess List (1931): “Soviet chess players have endured a heavy loss. Master Yakov Semionovich Vilner died on 29 June at &pm in Leningrad after a lengthy illness…”

The book is replete with many interesting Chess games and annotations. In addition, it contains ninety five problems and studies, and if you are into that kind of thing this book is simply de rigeur.

After an email discussion with Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam,

editor of New In Chess magazine, I have decided to forgo the usual star system and grade the way teachers still grade papers, even if they are written in digits now, with A+ being the top of the line and “F” as in “failure” as the bottom. This book deserves the grade “A”.