Annie Wang/Nazi Paikidze Co-US Women Champions

Congratulations to Annie Wang

and Nazi Paikidze,

the new Co-Champions of the Women’s US Chess Championship!

Before sending emails and leaving comments, I am aware of the so-called “playoff” which was “won” by Nazi. The idea of some kind of “hurry-up and get it over” playoff in Chess is anathema to me. The two women tied for first in the only games that matter, serious games in which they spend hours playing. To my mind that is all that counts. I am aware that most people do not agree with my way of thinking. They are wrong. Back in the day playoffs consisting of serious games were held. I would prefer to see a match using the same time limit as the eleven games played during the tournament to settle the matter. Some players who are extremely strong at Chess played with longer time limits are not as proficient when forced to play “hurry-up” Chess. The challenger for the title of World Chess Champion falls into that category. Fabiano Caruana is no match for Magnus Carlsen in any kind of “hurry-up” playoff, which makes Magnus the favorite in the upcoming match. If Fabi is to win he MUST win in the much longer, much more serious, real games.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having Co-Champions, other than the driving forces prefer to have only one winner of each tournament to put on the cover of the magazine as the “face” of US Chess. Never thought I would live to see “speed” Chess settle a World Championship match…

At the beginning of his interview with Maurice Ashley, the new US Chess Champ, Sam Shankland, said about his play, “I played really well and got really lucky and that’s a tough combination to beat.” I was reminded of my days playing Backgammon. Many times after beating an opponent he would say, “You were lucky.” My response would invariably be, “I would rather be lucky than good, because when I am good and lucky, I cannot be beat!”

Yes, there IS luck in Chess. Ask Nazi…In the penultimate round she was dead lost, but due to a horrendous blunder by her opponent, Tatev Abrahamyan, she won the game. That is the kind of luck to which Sam was referring. She was also lucky in that Annie collapsed in the last round, which brings to mind one of the most, if not the most, famous collapse by a woman in the history of sport. That would be Julie Moss competing in the 1982 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.

Nazi also had to overcome the unfair extra game with the black pieces. She had the white pieces five times while Annie sat behind the white pieces six times. On the other hand, Annie’s performance rating overall was slightly higher than Nazi, 2506 to 2503. If there must be a playoff I would like to see a playoff between the two using the same time control used during the Championship.

Finally, why is there a separate US Chess Championship for women? To have such a tournament is, quite simply, segregation.

The Gurgenidze Counter-Attack

Tatev Abrahamyan – Nazi Paikidze

U.S. Womens Championship 2018 round 10

B15 Caro-Kann, Gurgenidze counter-attack

1. e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 b5 (This move is so rarely played at the top level of Chess that it cannot be found at the ChessBaseDataBase. There are, though, 192 games at 365Chess.com. What does the clanking digital monster ‘think’ of this move? When black plays 3…e6 he is down about a half of a pawn. After the game move black is down a full pawn.)

4 Bd3 (4 e5 is the move which puts white up that pawn. 4 exd5 and 4 a3 leave white up about three quarters of a pawn, while the move played in the game left Abrahamyan up about a third of a pawn.)

4…b4 5. Nce2 dxe4 6. Bxe4 Nf6 7. Bf3 (The Fish concludes in three seconds that 7 Bd3 is twice as good as the game move.) 7…e6 8. Nh3 Bd6 (For 8…Be7 see Lechtynsky v Plachetka below.)

9. Nhf4 Qc7 10. Nd3 Nbd7 11. Bf4 Bxf4 12. Nexf4 Rb8 13. O-O O-O 14. a3 a5 15. axb4 axb4 16. Qd2 Qd6 17. Qe3 Nd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. b3 Ba6 20. Ra4 Rfc8 21. Rc1 Rb6 22. Qd2 Rcb8 23. Rca1 Bxd3 24. Nxd3 h6 25. Ra7 Re8 26. h3 Reb8 27. R1a4 Nf6 28. Nc5 e5 29. dxe5 Qxe5 30. Na6 Ne4 31. Qe3 d4 32. Qe1 Re8 33. Nxb4 Rg6 34. Ra8 Rxa8 35. Rxa8+ Kh7 36. Ra6 f6 37. Nd3 Qf5

Up to this point Tatev has outplayed Nazi. It appears Abrahamyan was in time trouble around here. All she needs to do is ask, and answer, the first question any Chess player should ask after writing down the move played by an opponent, which is, “Why did my opponent make that move?” She needs go no further because the answer to the question is that the move was played to next move the Queen to f3. Knowing that, all any player has to do is prevent the Queen moving to f3 with 38 Qe2.

38. Ra5? (Bummer…From winning to losing in the time it takes to move a piece. To paraphrase former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi, “Time trouble makes cowards of us all.”)

Qf3 39. Qf1 Nd2 40. Ne1?? (40 Kh1 MUST be played. Oh well, at least she made time control…) Qd1 0-1

Jiri Lechtynsky v Jan Plachetka

CSR-ch Havirov 1970

B15 Caro-Kann, Gurgenidze counter-attack

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 b5 4. Bd3 b4 5. Nce2 dxe4 6. Bxe4 Nf6 7. Bf3 e6 8. Nh3 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 a5 11. a3 Bb7 12. Nef4 Nbd7 13. Ng5 Qb6 14. Qd3 Ba6 15. c4 bxc3 16. Qxc3 Rac8 17. Bd2 Nd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Qg3 Qxb2 20. Bxa5 Qxd4 21. Rad1 Qf6 22. Rxd5 e5 23. Nxh7 Kxh7 24. Nh5 Qh6 25. Rxd7 Qxh5 26. Rxe7 Rfe8 27. R7xe5 Rxe5 28. Qxe5 Qxe5 29. Rxe5 Rc2 30. h3 f6 31. Re7 Kg6 32. Bb4 Kh6 33. Ra7 Bd3 34. Bf8 Kg6 35. Rxg7+ Kf5 36. Re7 Ra2 37. g4+ Kg5 38. Kg2 Bc4 39. Rc7 Bd5+ 1-0