Viva Las Vegas!

Jennifer Shahade posted a fine article on Chess Life online (, “Kazim’s Back: Gulamali on Taking Down Vegas.” By now the Millionaire Open is yesterday’s news, and it shows because many other articles appeared almost immediately after this article, pushing it to the back of the line, which is unfortunate. It is a shame the producers did not switch coverage from the Wesley So vs Ray Robson debacle to the match between IM Burnett and FM Gulamali. It would have been amazing to watch. I am grateful, though, that USCF has given it some attention.

Being a Dutch aficionado, I want to concentrate on the two Dutch games played in the match. With his back to the wall, having lost the first game, and having to win the next game to even the match, Kazim Gulamali answered IM Ron Burnett’s 1 d4 with f5! When you absolutely, positively must win, play the Dutch! The time limit for the following game was G/25+.

Millionaire Chess, Las Vegas 2014
White: IM Burnett, Ronald
Black: FM Gulamali, Kazim

1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nh3 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.c4 d6 7.d5 Na6 8.Nd2 Bd7 9.Rb1 c6 10.dxc6 Bxc6 11.Nf4 Bxg2 12.Kxg2 Qd7 13.b4 Nc7 14.Qb3 e5 15.Nd3 e4 16.Nf4 g5 17.Nh3 Ne6 18.Bb2 Rae8 19.f4 g4 20.Ng1 e3 21.Qxe3 Qc6+ 22.Kf2 Nc5 23.Qa3 Nce4+ 24.Nxe4 Nxe4+ 25.Ke1 Bxb2 26.Qxb2 Qxc4 27.Rc1 Qd5 28.Rd1 Qf7 29.e3 Qh5 30.Qb3+ Rf7 31.Qb2 Rfe7 32.Rd3 Rc7 33.Qb3+ Kf8 34.Ne2 Rec8 35.Qe6 Rc2 36.Nd4 Qf7 37.Qxf7+ Kxf7 38.Nxc2 Rxc2 39.Ra3 a6 40.Ra5 Ke6 41.b5 axb5 42.Rxb5 Nc3 43.Rh1 0-1

Ron’s tenth move is a new one. The more standard Nf4 was seen in this game:

Purnama,T (2337)-Reyes Lopez,D (2072)
Castelldefels 2005

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nh3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. d5 Na6 8. Nd2 Bd7 9. Rb1 c6 10. Nf4 Nc7 11. Nf3 Qe8 12. h4 Rb8 13. Nd4 c5 14. Nde6 Bxe6 15. dxe6 b5 16. Bd2 Ne4 17. Ba5 Na8 18. Bxe4 fxe4 19. Nd5 bxc4 20. Qc2 Nb6 21. Bxb6 axb6 22. Qxc4 Rf5 23. Qxe4 Re5 24. Qd3 g5 25. hxg5 Rxg5 26. Kg2 Qc6 27. e4 Qc8 28. f4 (Missing 28 Nxe7+) Rg6 29. f5 (29 Nxe7+ still looks strong) Rg5 30. Rf3 (Third time..) Ra8? (Maybe he was afraid White would finally see it?) 31. Nxb6 Qa6 32. Nxa8 Qxa8 1-0 (Proving there are several ways to skin a cat)

The next set was played at G/15+. Kazim won the first game so now Ron had his back to the wall in a must win situation. Once again Kazim played the Dutch, answering 1 Nf3 with f5. Not to be outdone, Ron played 2 e4!?, the Lisitsin Gambit! Back in the day there was scant information on this opening. It was big news when “Inside Chess,” the wonderful magazine produced by GM Yasser Seirawan and the gang from the Great Northwest, contained an article by, was it GM Michael Rohde, or was it GM Larry Christiansen? Memory fails…I only faced the Lisitsin Gambit a few times, the last a draw with Tim “The Dude” Bond. I had seen a way to win a piece in the middle game, but The Dude avoided the line. Some moves later the possibility appeared on the board, but I missed it! The game was drawn, and when I showed The Dude how I could have won a piece, he went into a funk, morose over the fact that he was obviously quite lost at one point. I will be the first to admit my memory is not what it used to be, but I have a vague recollection of losing to The Dude in a previous game featuring the Lisitsin Gambit…

Millionaire Chess, Las Vegas 2014
White: IM Burnett, Ronald
Black: FM Gulamali, Kazim

1.Nf3 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Ng5 Nf6 4.d3 e5 5.Nc3 e3 6.fxe3 d5 7.e4 c6 8.d4 Bd6 9.exd5 Qe7 10.Be3 cxd5 11.Bb5+ Bd7 12.O-O Bxb5 13.Nxb5 e4 14.Rxf6 Qxf6 15.Qh5+ g6 16.Qh3 h6 17.Nxd6+ Qxd6 18.Qc8+ Qd8 19.Qxd8+ Kxd8 20.Nf7+ Ke7 21.Nxh8 g5 22.Ng6+ Ke6 23.Ne5 Na6 24.c3 Nc7 25.Rf1 Nb5 26.Nf7 a5 27.Nxh6 a4 28.a3 Nd6 29.Bxg5 Nc4 30.Rf6+ Kd7 31.Nf5 Ra5 32.Bc1 Rb5 33.h4 Nxb2 34.Bxb2 Rxb2 35.h5 Rb1+ 36.Kh2 Rf1 37.g4 Rf4 38.h6 e3 39.h7 e2 40.h8=Q 1-0

5 Nc3 is a rather rare move, but 5…e3 is a TN. I found this old game, played before most players were born. Come to think about it, the game was played before many of the parents of today’s players were born…

Pavlovic, Dejan S (2340) vs Maksimovic, Branimir (2265)
Nis 1979
1. Nf3 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Ng5 Nf6 4. d3 e5 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. dxe4 h6 7. Nf3 Bc5 8. Bc4 d6 9. h3 Na5 10. Be2 Be6 11. a3 Nc6 12. Qd3 a6 13. Be3 O-O 14. g4 Bxe3 15. Qxe3 Nh7 16. O-O-O Qf6 17. Rh2 Ne7 18. Nd2 Qf4 19. Qxf4 Rxf4 20. f3 Nf8 21. Nf1 Rf7 22. Ne3 Nfg6 23. Nf5 Nf4 24. h4 Kh7 25. h5 b5 26. Rg1 Ng8 27. Nh4 Rb8 28. b4 c5 29. Bf1 Rc7 30. Ne2 Nxe2+ 31. Rxe2 cxb4 32. axb4 Ne7 33. Rd2 Rbc8 34. Rgg2 d5 35. Bd3 d4 36. g5 hxg5 37. Rxg5 Nc6 38. Kb2 Bc4 39. Ka3 a5 40. bxa5 Ra8 41. Rdg2 Rxa5+ 42. Kb2 Bxd3 43. Nf5 Raa7 44. h6 g6 45. Rxg6 Bc4 46. Rf6 Nb4 47. Rg7+ Rxg7 48. hxg7 Rxg7 49. Rh6+ Kg8 50. Nxg7 Kxg7 51. Rh2 Kf6 52. Rg2 Na2 53. Kb1 Nc3+ 54. Kc1 Ne2+ 55. Kd2 Nf4 56. Rg3 Ke6 57. Rg1 Be2 58. Rg3 Kd6 59. Kc1 Kc5 60. Kd2 b4 61. Rg5 Kd6 62. Rg3 Ke6 63. Kc1 Kf6 64. Kd2 Bc4 65. Rg1 b3 66. cxb3 Bxb3 67. Rg3 Bf7 68. Ke1 Ne6 69. Rg1 Ng5 70. Ke2 Bh5 71. Ra1 Bxf3+ 0-1

It came down to a “game” in which one player had more time with the other having draw odds in something called an “Apocalypse” game, or some such. I urge you to click on the link and go to the USCF website and read Jennifer’s article for much more detail.
I have it on good authority that as Kazim was heading to his plane, leaving “Lost Wages,” he could be heard singing this song in his best imitation Elvis Presley voice…


Litsitsin’s Gambit

This game was played in the sixth round of the Chess Championship of the Netherlands:
GM Van Wely, Loek (2657) – GM L’Ami, Erwin (2650)
ch-NED 2014 Amsterdam NED 2014.07.12
1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 Nc6 3.e4 e5 4.g3 Nf6 5.Bg2 fxe4 6.dxe4 Bc5 7.Nc3 O-O 8.O-O a6 9.Nd5 Nxe4 10.Qe2 Nxf2 11.Qc4 Ba7 12.Bg5 b5 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Ng6+ 1-0
In his remarks to the opening of his game with WFM Y. Cardona (2270), IM Mark Ginsburg writes:
“1. Nf3 f5?! An inaccuracy on the first move! To get to a Leningrad Dutch, much more circumspect is 1…g6 2. c4 and only now 2….f5 to avoid a nasty pitfall in this particular move order.”
This leaves open the possibility of White playing 2 e4 and there is no Dutch. IM Ginsburg continues:
“The problem here is that white has the surprisingly strong 2. d3! as demonstrated by GM Magnus Carlsen recently in a crushing win versus veteran Russian GM Sergei Dolmatov. As a New In Chess Secrets of Opening Surprises (SOS) book analysis noted, “this move argues that 1…f5 is weakening.” So it does! That game went 2…d6 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. exf5 Bxf5 6. d4! and white had an obvious plus. After 2. d3, black is not having any fun at all. Why didn’t I play it? I knew about it, but didn’t really remember how the Carlsen game went. Still, 2. d3! is strongest and I should have played it.
Side note. There is another attempt for white – in the 1980s and 1990s, GM Michael Rohde revived the Lisitsin Gambit (2. e4 fxe4 3. Ng5) with success but in the intervening years, methods were found by black to combat that try. Nevertheless, 2. e4 is exceedingly dangerous and black has to be well prepared for it. This is moot, though, given the strength of the apparently modest 2. d3!
In the game, I played the insipid 2. g3?! and play reverted back to the Leningrad proper.” (
Why should Black fear the attempt to improve on Litsitsin’s Gambit with 2 d3? The human World Champion, Magnus Carlsen has played the move, and so does the number three program, Houdini, but numbers two, Komodo, and three, Stockfish, opt for different moves, so the jury is still out on the best second move for White.
I “annotated” the Van Wely- L’Ami game above, using the three programs used on Chess Arena at Chessdom (, and at the Chessbase database (
1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 (SF has c4 & e3 tied while Komodo plays d4; only Houdini plays the move in the game) Nc6 (SF has the game move tied with Nf6 & d6; Komodo plays d5, while Hou plays d6. The databases show Nc6 scoring best.) 3.e4 (SF-e3 or c4; Kom-Nc3; Hou-e4. The Houdini shown on the CBDB plays c4. e4 has been played most often, but has scored less well than the other choices.) e5 (Total agreement this is the best move) 4.g3 (Nc3 has been played most often with poor results. SF plays d4; Kom Nc3; & Hou exf5) Nf6 (SF & Kom play d6, with Hou opting for d5) 5.Bg2 (Total agreement on 5 exf5) fxe4 (All agree) 6.dxe4 (Ditto) Bc5 (Ditto) 7.Nc3 (SF has this move tied with Qd3 & O-O; Kom has it tied with O-O; while Hou simply castles) O-O (I can find no games with this move at the CBDB. SF & Hou play d6; Kom O-O) 8 O-O (SF has Qd3 tied with the game move; Kom plays Be3; Houdini shows a3) a6 (Universal agreement d6 is the best move) 9.Nd5 (SF & Komodo have this tied with Bg5 while Houdini has it best) Nxe4 (Hou plays this move, but SF & Kom play d6) 10.Qe2 (All agree) Nxf2 (Ditto) 11.Qc4 (SF-Be3; Kom-Rf2; Hou-Bg5) Ba7 (SF & Kom play this move, but Hou prefers Ne4+) 12.Bg5 (Total agreement. Imagine that…) b5 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Ng6+ 1-0
In addition this game was found on 365Chess. Although a different opening, we have the same position after six moves.
Buchicchio, Giancarlo vs Tribuiani, Renato (2146)
Nereto op 8/16/2000 rd 6
ECO has it listed as B00, while 365Chess calls this the “Colorado counter.” If anyone knows why, please leave a comment.
1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 f5 3. d3 e5 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 fxe4 6. dxe4 Bc5 7. O-O d6 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nc3 Bg4 11. Nd5 Qf7 12. h3 Bh5 13. g4 Bg6 14. Nh4 O-O-O 15. c3 Bh7 16. a4 a5 17. Nf5 g6 18. Nxh6 Qg7 19. g5 Bg8 20. Nxg8 Rdxg8 21. Qd2 Rh4 22. Bf3 Qd7 23. Bg2 Rgh8 24. Nf6 Qe7 25. Bf3 Nd8 26. Bg4+ Rxg4+ 27. hxg4 Ne6 28. Rab1 Nf4 29. b4 Ba7 30. Rb3 Rh3 31. Rfb1 Qd8 32. c4 Qh8 33. Nh5 gxh5 34. Qxf4 exf4 35. Rxh3 h4 36. bxa5 Qd4 37. Rf3 Qxe4 38. Rbb3 Qe1+ 39. Kh2 Bxf2 40. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 0-1
Rarely have I had to face the Litsitsin Gambit. The last time was some years ago against Tim Bond, one of the Road Warriors and fellow Senior, the “Dude” from LA, which means “Lower Alabama” to Southern folk. The game was a hard fought draw. The Dude became dejected upon discovering I had missed a King move that would have won a piece. It was strange to me because I had seen the move in earlier deliberations, but missed it when given the opportunity later. Little has been written about the Litsitsin Gambit, but I seem to recall an article in “Inside Chess” by GM Michael Rhode, or was it Larry Christiansen? Maybe Michael used one of Larry’s games…Whatever… It is easy to recall because of the fact that I have faced both GM’s over a backgammon board.
This is the game that caused interest in the move 2 d3, and a game played a decade later:
Magnus Carlsen vs Sergey Dolmatov
3rd Aeroflot Festival (2004)
Zukertort Opening: Dutch Variation (A04)
1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 d6 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. ef5 Bf5 6. d4 Nd4 7. Nd4 ed4 8. Qd4 Nf6 9. Bc4 c6 10. Bg5 b5 11. Bb3 Be7 12. O-O-O Qd7 13. Rhe1 Kd8 14. Re7 Qe7 15. Qf4 Bd7 16. Ne4 d5 17. Nf6 h6 18. Bh4 g5 19. Qd4 1-0

Carlsen, Magnus (2881) – Rodriguez Vila, Andres (2437)
Four Player Rapid KO/Caxias do Sul (1) 2014
1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 Nf6 3. e4 d6 4. exf5 Bxf5 5. d4 Qd7 6. Nc3 g6 7. Bd3 Bg7 8. O-O Nc6 9. d5 Nb4 10. Bxf5 gxf5 11. a3 Na6 12. Nd4 Nc5 13. b4 Nce4 14. Nxe4 fxe4 15. Ne6 Rg8 16. Bb2 c6 17. c4 Bh8 18. Re1 Rg6 19. Bxf6 exf6 20. Qh5 Qf7 21. Qf5 Qg8 22. g3 Kf7 23. Rxe4 1-0
And for the one (because there is always one) player out there somewhere in the one hundred plus countries reading the AW who now has to have more about Georgy Lisitsin and his gambit, I provide enough links to more than whet your appetite.