The Upsetting NM Michael Corallo

Georgian NM Michael Corallo continues to show good form and is off to an excellent start at the 2015 Philadelphia Open playing upsetting chess! He has won his first three games and is tied for first place with three other players. Michael dispatched IM Esserman’s ( Najdorf in the second round and then beat fellow Atlantan, FM Daniel Gurevich in the third round using the dreaded Berlin defense. As I write Michael has Black against IM Akshat Chandra of New Jersey in a Nimzo-Indian, Qc2 variation. The games can be found at and Monroi.

Michael Corallo 2290 vs IM Marc Esserman 2427

Rd 2

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qb6 8.Bb3 e6 9.Qd2 Be7 10.O-O-O Nc5 11.Rhe1 h6 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Kb1 O-O 14.f4 Qc7 15.g4 b5 16.g5 hxg5 17.fxg5 Be5 18.g6 fxg6 19.Qg2 Nxb3 20.axb3 Rf6 21.Nf3 Bf4 22.e5 dxe5 23.Ne4 Rf8 24.Nfg5 Qe7 25.Rg1 Rf5 26.Qg4 Kf8 27.Qh4 Bxg5 28.Rxg5 Bb7 29.Nd6 Qf6 30.Nxf5 exf5 31.Rd7 1-0

FM Daniel Gurevich 2373 vs Michael Corallo 2290

Rd 3

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bf1 Nxe5 8.Rxe5 O-O 9.d4 Bf6 10.Re1 Nf5 11.c3 d5 12.Nd2 Re8 13.Rxe8 Qxe8 14.Nf3 Nh4 15.Nxh4 Bxh4 16.Bf4 c6 17.Bd3 Bf6 18.Qc2 g6 19.Qd2 Be6 20.Re1 Qd7 21.Bg5 Bg7 22.h4 Re8 23.h5 Bg4 24.Rxe8 Qxe8 25.h6 Bf8 26.f3 Bd7 27.Kf2 Qe6 28.Qf4 Bd6 29.Qh4 Bf8 30.g4 c5 31.Bd8 cxd4 32.cxd4 Bb4 33.Qg5 Qe1 34.Kg2 Bd6 35.Qf6 Qd2 36.Kg1 Bf8 37.Bf1 Bxh6 38.Bc7 Bg5 0-1

The Horse’s Ess

The Legendary Georgia Ironman recently brought in two new volumns, #’s 109 & 110, of the New In Chess Yearbook. Earlier he had procured #111 and I thought he might cry when telling me of how it had fallen out of the bag and gotten scuffed when he attempted to bring it into the Fortress. “Now it’s only VG,” I said, harkening back to our days of selling sports cards. From the look on his face I immediately realized it was an inappropriate thing to say, so I added, “At least it still has the meat.” This is an inside joke concerning something LM Brian McCarthy said when someone made a comment about an Informant that had lost its cover because of the heavy use.

While perusing the books I mentioned one contained two Survey’s of the Leningrad Dutch, and the other had one, adding that the one in the “Jobava” (#110) was on the 4 Nh3 variation, while the two in the “Magnus” (#109) were on the 7…Qe8 line with the other being on what is now being called the “improved” Lisitsin Gambit, with 2 d3!?, according to Viktor Moskalenko in his book, The Diamond Dutch. “That ought to keep you busy,” said the Ironman.

The next day Tim asked about the Leningrad games in the NIC’s and was informed I had not gotten to the Survey section because there were three Dutch games in the Forum and one included in Kuzmin’s Corner. In addition I mentioned there were two games by Moskalenko, versus Michael Krasenkow and the lovely Tania Sachdev, with both being the “improved” Lisitsin Gambit with 2 d3. That reminded the Ironman of a game he had previously played using the Lisitsin Gambit against NM Marc Esserman in the 2007 Southern Open in Orlando. This brought forth the tale of the 2004 US Open in Weston, Florida, and the first game the Ironman had contested with Esserman. That was the US Open in which I could not play because of a bad back. As we reminisced about the event the Ironman was still upset about what occurred before the first round. He asked me to locate the hotel and I found it in the phone book, providing him with the address. He went to the spot and there was the hotel, but there was no chess tournament! He was directed to another hotel of the same chain in an outlying area many miles away. As it turned out, the hotel where the US Open was held was located in Weston, not Fort Lauderdale, as the USCF had listed. This caused the Ironman to arrive late for the round, which he managed to draw. To make matters worse, the hotel in Weston had the exact same address as the one in Fort Lauderdale! All I can remember is the heat. One day I decided to go for a walk in the afternoon and went into some place seeking AC. “You must not be from around here,” the lady said. “What makes you say that?” I asked. “Because no one who lives here goes out in the afternoon.”

Then the Ironman produced the scoresheet of the Esserman game at the Southern Open, and told me about his loss to the big man with a large head at the US Open. It seems Esserman made a move that led to mate and stood up, towering over the board, while extending his hand, an egregious breach of comportment. It was with this in mind the Legendary Georgia Ironman sat down to play NM Marc Esserman in the first round of the 2007 Southern Open…

Tim Brookshear (2001) vs Marc Esserman (2256)

1. Nf3 f5 2. b3 (After glancing at the scoresheet I said, “Hey Ironman, what’s this? You played 2 b3?!” He nabbed the scoresheet saying, “Well I thought it was a Lisitsin’s Gambit. I played e4 on the next move.” I shot back, “But you never played d3.” Tim thought for a moment before saying, “That’s right, I played d4, improving on the improvement!” What could I say other than, “Well, I dunno about that. I will have to take a look at it…”) d6 3. e4 (I was unable to find this in the Chessbase Database, or at, so I will call it the “Ironman Gambit.”) e5 (Esserman did not wish to allow a real gambit with 3… fxe4 4. Ng5 Nf6 5. d3!) 4. d4 (4. exf5 Bxf5 5. Nc3 Nc6 looks reasonable) fxe4 5. Ng5 (5. Nxe5!?) exd4 6.Qxd4 (6. Nxe4!?) Nf6 (6… d5!) 7. Nc3 (7. Nxe4!) d5 8. Bb2 h6 9. Nh3 Nc6? (After 9… Bxh3 I do not need a ‘puter to know the Ironman would be holding onto the rope by his fingernails) 10. Bb5 Kf7 (Once again Black should play 10…Bxh3 and White would have only a tenuous hold on his tattered position) 11. Qd2 (The Ironman decides to “advance to the rear,” but it would have been much better to have played 11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. Nf4, saving the Knight and the pawn structure as the Queen retreat allows 11…d4!) Ne7 (I do not know what to say…Guess my understanding of chess is not deep enough to comprehend some of the moves made by Esserman.) 12. O-O-O c6 13. Be2 Ng6 (But it is deep enough to understand Black should take the Knight) 14. Nf4 (The program known as Houdini wants to play 14 f3!? obviously “thinking” along the lines of, “If the human has not taken the Knight by now, it ain’t ever gonna take that sucker!”) Nxf4 15. Qxf4 Bd6 16. Qd2 Qc7 17. Kb1 Re8 18. Rdf1 Bf5 (According to Charley Hertan, who wandered through Atlanta with a backpack decades ago, Esserman should play the Forcing Move, 18…Bf4!) 19.h3 (19. Nd1) Rad8 (Again 19… Bf4) 20. g4 Bf4 21. Qd1 (21. Qd4!?) Bg6 22. h4 (The “engine” makes a case for 22. Na4. Who am I to argue?) d4 (22… b5 !) 23. Bc4+ Kf8 24. Ne2 Bf7 (24… Be5) 25. Bxf7 Kxf7 26. Rfg1 (I am taking the Bishop offa the board with 26. Nxf4 and I don’t care what any machine says) g5 (I wanted to play a positional move like 26…c5, but Houdini advocates 26…Rh8) 27. hxg5 hxg5 (I was thinking along the lines of taking the pawn with the Prelate, and so, it turns out, was Houey. I thought the Ironman was back in the game now, after struggling all game to get a grip. After looking at the game, I plugged it in the “engine” and it, too, thought White was slightly better. It is difficult to understand why a NM would open the Rook file like this…) 28. Rh6 (This looks like a natural move, and the kind of move I would make, but Houdini likes 28. Rf1!?) Kg7 29. Rgh1 c5 30. Qf1 (30.Nxf4!) Rh8 31. Qh3 (31.Nxf4!) Rxh6 32.Qxh6+ Kf7 33. Ng3 (33.Nxf4!) Bxg3 34. fxg3 Rg8 35. Rf1 Qe7 (35…Qe5!?) 36. Qh7+ (36.c3!?) Rg7 (36…Ke8!?) 37. Qf5 e3 38. b4 b6 39. bxc5 bxc5 (The last chance to play for an advantage is 39…e2) 40. Qd5+ Ke8 41. Qc6+ Nd7 42. Qa8+ Qd8 43. Qe4+ Qe7 44.Qa8+ Qd8 45. Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

When the game ended Tim mentioned something to Marc about it being a good game, which caused Esserman to erupt with, “You played like shit! I played like shit! It was ALL SHIT!!!”
Stunned, the Ironman said something about the previous game between them at the 2004 US Open and was shocked to hear Marc say, “We have never played before!”
This caused the Ironman to give Esserman the moniker, the “Horse’s Ess.” Any time anyone mentions Marc Esserman the Ironman says, “You mean the Horse’s Ess?”

What I did not mention to the Legendary Georgia Ironman is that the now IM Marc Esserman featured prominently in an article, Where Oddballs, Hustlers and Masters Meet, by Olimpiu G. Urcan, who “went undercover as a chess junkie in Boston’s iconic Harvard Square,” in the last issue of 2014/8 of the New In Chess magazine, the best chess magazine ever published. The article culminates with a sub-heading of “A Boisterous Enfant Terrible.” This refers to IM Esserman. It is written, “If confronted on various chess matters, he gets really loud and aggressive, disturbing the other games in progress. ‘It’s unheard of to pass by the Harvard Square and not play Billy Collins!’ he exclaimed one evening trying to arrange a blitz match for stakes between Collins and a New York acquaintance. Almost unable to stand it anymore, one of my opponents exclaimed while desperate to extricate himself from a difficult position: ‘Oh, c’mon, Marc. Can you please stop being such a bitch?’


Smokey Mountain Smith-Morra

Bruce Goodwin is a Chess Cat who also happens to be the President of the Smokey Mountain Chess Club (, which meets every Thursday afternoon at a wonderful place, Blue Ridge Books ( Check out this article from a local tabloid:
The Chess Cat likes the Smith-Morra Gambit. Over time I have sent Bruce a few games, and articles, via email, such as this one:
Deming – Cornell (Indiana, 1980)
1. e4 c5 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 de4 4. Ne4 Nd7 5. Qe2 Ngf6 6. Nd6#

His response was, “Thanks, dude!” This put a smile on my face and also caused me to sit back an reflect upon good times and good people, who can be found at a good place. Keep this in mind if you ever happen to be anywhere the glorious mountains of Western North Carolina. I dedicate this post to the Chess Cat, and all the men of the Dixie Chess Confederacy who meet to play the Royal game every Thursday afternoon.

FM Kazim Gulamali also likes the Smith-Morra. The motto of St. Pauli Girl beer is, “You never forget your first girl.” The SM was Kazim’s first love, and he has never forgotten it, as can be ascertained from the fact that he still plays it, as in this game:

Gulamali, Kazim (2293) vs Kanter, Eduard (2406)
16th Dubai Open 2014 04/15/2014 Rd 9
ECO: B21 Sicilian, Smith-Morra gambit

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. c4 Nc6 5. Bxd3 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 d6 8. h3 Nf6 9. O-O Nd7 10. Qe2 Nc5 11. Rd1 O-O 12. Bc2 Bxc3 13. bxc3 Qc7 14. Bh6 Re8 15. Nd4 a6 16. f4 e5 17. Nxc6 Qxc6 18. f5 f6 19. Rd5 Qc7 20. Rad1 Rd8 21. Qf2 Qe7 (White to move. Answer at the end of article.)

While researching the opening I discovered a game by a long-time habitue of the House of Pain, Lester Bedell. It was surprising to find his highly rated opponent is also a big fan of the Smith-Morra gambit.

Alex Lenderman (2327) vs Lester B Bedell (1903)
6th Foxwoods 2004 Rd 9

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. c4 g6 5. Bxd3 Bg7 6. Nf3 d6 7. h3 Nc6 8. O-O Nf6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Be3 Nd7 11. Qd2 Nde5 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 (SF & Hou prefer Qa5) 13. Be2 Be6 (Nc6-Hou) 14. Nd5 Bxd5 (Nd7-Hou) 15. cxd5 b6 16. Rac1 Nd7 17. Rc6 Nc5 18. Qc2 a5 19. b3 Qb8 20. a3 f5 21. exf5 gxf5 22. b4 axb4 23. axb4 f4 24. Bxc5 bxc5 25. bxc5 dxc5 26. Qxc5 Qb2 27. Re6 Ra1 28. Qxe7 Rxf1+ 29. Bxf1 Bf6 30. Qd6 Bd4 31. Re2 Qc1 32. Qe6+ Kh8 33. Qe4 Bc5 34. Rc2 Qa3 35. Qe5+ Kg8 36. d6 Bxd6 37. Bc4+ Rf7 38. Qe8+ Kg7 39. Qxf7+ 1-0

Lester was punished for his weakening 20th move. Wondering about Lester sent me to the USCF website where I discovered he has not played since the Atlanta Winter Congress in Feburary of 2009, and that his USCF membership expired a year later. I recall receiving a message from Lester after he won a chess tournament in his home, which I wrote about on the defunct BaconLOG (

Here is another game, a blitz match on on 2/28/2007:
Nepomniashchy (2587) vs Nakamura (2651)
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d3 4. c4 g6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 Bg7 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Bxd3 Bg4 9. Be2 Bxf3 10. Bxf3 Nf6 11. Be2 Rc8 12. O-O a6 13. Rc1 O-O 14. b3 Nd7 15. Nd5 e6 16. Nf4 Qe7 17. Rc2 Rfd8 18. Rd2 Nc5 19. f3 Bh6 20. Kh1 Qf8 21. Re1 e522. Nd5 Bxe3 23. Nxe3 Ne6 24. Bf1 Ncd4 25. Nd5 f5 26. exf5 gxf5 27. f4 Qg7 28. Rd3 Kh8 29. Rg3 Qf7 30. fxe5 f4 31. Rd3 dxe5 32. Rxe5 Nc6 33. Re1 Re8 34. Rd2 Ng5 35. Rxe8+ Rxe8 36. Rf2 Ne4 37. Rf3 Ne5 38. Qd4 Ng5 39. Rxf4 Qg7 40. Nf6 Nc6 41. Nxe8 Qxd4 42. Rf8# 1-0

I also discovered a blog entry devoted to the Smith-Morra, ENYCA, the blog of the Eastern New York Chess Association. The title is, “A tale of two titles: Morra gambit and the romantic school of chess,” and it was posted on August 10, 2014, by M Walter Mockler. ( He writes, “It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”
“I have spent decades rejecting the Morra gambit on the grounds of materialism, an unnecessary squandering of material in response to the Sicilian. I purchased a book by Marc Esserman, Mayhem In The Morra, to introduce a volatile option for blitz and rapid play. What I found instead was a compelling appeal by a zealot, urging a return to the true faith, romantic chess.”
From the Introduction – The Much Maligned Morra:
After 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cd 3. c3, we reach the starting position of the much maligned Morra Gambit. I must confess that this is often the moment in my chess praxis when my heart thumps most – will my opponent accept the sacrifice in the spirit of the Romantics, or will he shun the most honorable path and meekly decline? Sometimes I wait for the critical decision for many minutes as my grandmaster foe flashes me an incredulous, bordering on insulted, loo. Other times, I receive the answer almost instantaneously. Yet every time I am greeted with 3 …dc, I could not be happier. My knight freely flows to c3, the Morra accepted appears, and we travel back in time to the 19th century.”

Is that not beautiful? Kind of makes one want to play the Smith-Morra gambit, does it not? It makes me think of Ken Smith, whom I first met at the 1972 Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in San Antonio. Wiki has this to say:
“The Smith–Morra is named after Pierre Morra (1900–1969) from France, and Ken Smith (1930–1999) of the Dallas Chess Club. Hence in Europe the name Morra Gambit is preferred; names like Tartakower Gambit and Matulovic Gambit have disappeared.
Morra published a booklet and several articles about the Smith–Morra around 1950. Smith wrote a total of nine books and forty-nine articles about the gambit. When Smith participated in an international tournament against several top grandmasters in San Antonio in 1972, he essayed the opening three times, against Donald Byrne, Larry Evans, and Henrique Mecking, but lost all three games.” (

What Wiki does not say is that in the book, “San Antonio: Church’s Fried Chicken First International Chess Tournament,” GM Bent Larsen writes in the notes to the second round game between Ken and NM Mario Campos-Lopez, after 1 e4 e6, “Stronger is P-QB4, which wins a pawn (Smith always plays the Morra Gambit, in this tournament with disastrous results.)”

Kenneth R Smith (2395) vs Donald Byrne (2470)
San Antonio 1972 Rd 4

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Nge7 (“By this piece arrangement Black demonstrates ambitious intentions. He wants not only to blunt White’s usual P-K5, …but Black also wants to contest the dark squares (his K4 and KB5).”- Ken Smith in his book “Sicilian: Smith-Morra Gambit Accepted.”) 8. Bg5 a6 9. Qe2 h6 10. Bh4 (In his book, Smith criticizes this move, giving as its refutation 10… P-KN4 11 B-KN3 B-N2 12 QR-Q1 P-K4 when “the threat of 13…B-N5 is strong.” Instead he recommends 10 B-K3 N-N3 11 QR-Q1. One can only surmise that in playing the text he had in mind an improvement on the analysis in the book, but Byrne is the first to vary.) Qa5 11. Bg3 Ng6 12. Qd2 (A scandalous waste of a tempo in a variation where White’s only real compensation is his slight initiative. 12 P-Q3 was probably best.) Nge5 13. Nxe5 dxe5 14. a3 Be7 15. b4 Qd8 16. Qa2 b5 17. Bb3 O-O 18. Qb2 Bb7 19. Ne2 Bf6 20. f3 Qc7 21. Rac1 Rfd8 22. Kh1 Rd3 23. Nd4 Qd7 24. Nxc6 Bxc6 25. Rc5 Be7 26. Rcc1 Bg5 27. Rcd1 Rd8 28. h4 (“White had almost equalized, but this move is terrible. 28 P-R3 was much better.” – Browne) Bf6 29. Bxe5 Bxe5 30. Qxe5 Qe7 31. Qb2 Qxh4+ 32. Kg1 Qg5 33. Qc2 Rd2 34. Rxd2 Rxd2 0-1

Some of the notes by IM David Levy in the tournament book.

Kenneth R Smith (2395) vs Larry Melvyn Evans (2545)
San Antonio 1972 Rd 9

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 (“The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it,” so it is writ. Black can decline with 3…P-Q6, or 3…P-Q4 or 3…N-KB3, but why?) 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Bg5 e6 9. Qe2 h6 10. Bh4 (Loses the initiative. On 10 B-K3 N-KN5! [the point] 11 B-Q2 KN-K4 Black’s position is very solid anyway.) g5 11. Bg3 Nh5 12Rfd1 Nxg3 13. hxg3 g4 14. Ne1 Ne5 15. Bb3 h5 16. Nd3 Bg7 17. Nf4 h4 18. Qd2 hxg3 19. fxg3 Qb6+ 20. Kf1 Bd7 21. Rac1 Rd8 22. Ke2 Nf3 23. Qd3 Nd4+ 24. Kd2 Nxb3+ 25. axb3 Qf2+ 26. Nce2 Bb5 27. Qe3 Qxe3+ 28. Kxe3 e5 29. Nd5 Bh6+ 30. Kf2 Bxc1 31. Rxc1 Bc6 32. Nec3 Kd7 33. Nf6+ Ke6 34. Nxg4 f5 35. exf5+ Kxf5 36. Ne3+ Ke6 37. g4 d5 38. Ne2 d4 39. Nc4 Rdg8 40. Kg3 Rg5 0-1 (Notes by GM Larry Evans)

Ken’s next opponent the youngest participant in the tournament, eight months younger than future World Champion, Anatoly Karpov. Because of the similarity in age, I got to know Henrique better than the other players. He rented a car and took me along for a “drive” around San Antonio. It was one of the most harrowing rides I have ever experienced. Mecking was missing cars on my side by an inch, smiling and laughing all the while, as I cringed and moved ever to my left, away from the door. I mentioned this to Brian McCarthy on the way back from the recent scholastic tournament here in Atlanta at the downtown Hyatt and he said it reminded him of a former NM, Michael Lucas. “Yeah,” I said, “he scared the hell out of me. One time he took off a mirror and kept on driving. ” Brian, who was driving, began to laugh uproariously, saying, “That’s how he got the name “Crazy Lucas!”

Kenneth R Smith (2395) vs Henrique Mecking (2570)
San Antonio 1972 Rd 13

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. a3 (What kind of move is this? Normal is 8 B-KN5) e6 9. Qe2 h6 10. Rd1 e5 11. Nd5 Be7 12. Be3 Nxd5 13. exd5 Nb8 14. Nxe5 (Totally unsound. White should have tried doubling Rooks on the QB file.) dxe5 15. f4 exf4 16. d6 fxe3 17. Qxe3 Nc6 18. Bd5 O-O 19. Bxc6 Bg5 0-1 (Notes by IM David Levy)

Bobby Fischer vs Viktor Korchnoi
Buenos Aires 1960 Rd 14

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 a6 3. d4 cxd4 4. c3 dxc3 5. Nxc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 d6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Bg5 e6 9. Qe2 Be7 10. Rfd1 Qc7 11. Rac1 O-O 12. Bb3 h6 13. Bf4 e5 14. Be3 Qd8 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bd7 17. Nd2 Nb4 18. Bb3 Bg5 19. Bxg5 Qxg5 20. Nf3 Bg4 21. Rc7 Qd8 22. Rxb7 Rb8 23. Rxb8 Qxb8 24. h3 Bxf3 25. Qxf3 Nc6 26. Qd3 Nd4 27. Bc4 a5 28. b3 Qb4 29. f4 Kh7 1/2-1/2

What? You were unaware Bobby played the Smith-Morra?

Answer: 22. Qxc5! 1-0