The Wormald Attack

GM Sergey Tiviakov

of the Netherlands tied for first with GM Gawain Jones,

from England, at the recently completed, record breaking 25th anniversary of the Bunratty Masters.

There is a reason the Bunratty Masters, commonly known as “best weekender in the world.”

Where else does one see Chess players sitting at the board with a pint?

When the beer flows freely so does the Chess!

There was yet another ridiculous speed “playoff” after the event ended between the two players who tied for first, which was won by Sergey, who was declared the “winner.”

Gawain held a pawn down ending versus GM Nigel Short in the final round, while Sergey could have taken clear first if he had won his pawn up game against GM Mark Hebden.

Tiviakov, Sergey vs Hebden, Mark
Bunratty Masters 2018 last round

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Be7 6. c3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d4 d6 9. Nbd2 exd4 10. cxd4 Bg4 11. Qe3 Bh5 12. O-O Bg6 13. Re1 Na5 14. Bc2 Re8 15. b3 Bf8 16. Qc3 c5 17. dxc5 dxc5 18. Bb2 Qc7 19. Nh4 Ng4 20. Qh3 c4 21. Nxg6 hxg6 22. Qxg4 c3 23. Bc1 cxd2 24. Bxd2 Qxc2 25. Bxa5 Re6 26. Re2 Qc6 27. e5 Qc5 28. Qf3 Rae8 29. Bc3 Qc6 30. Qxc6 Rxc6 31. Bb2 Rec8 32. Kf1 Bb4 33. Rd1 Kf8 34. g3 Ke7 35. Rd4 a5 36. a3 Bc3 37. Rd5 Bxb2 38. Rxb2 Rc5

White to move

There is only one move to retain the advantage. Tiviakov did not find it…

39. Rxc5 Rxc5 40. b4 axb4 41. Rxb4 Rxe5 ½-½

Tiviakov, having played this variation an astounding 71 times according to 365Chess.com, must be the world’s leading exponent of the Wormald attack (for information on Wormald see 3974. The Steinitz-Wormald-MacDonnell controversy, at Edward Winter’s excellent Chess Notes – http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter15.html). Having played the variation ‘only’ 27 times, Bukhuti Gurgenidze is lags behind in second place.

Tiviakov, Sergei – Beliavsky, Alexander G

Cacak 1996

C77 Ruy Lopez, Wormald attack

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Be7 6. c3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d4 d6 9. Nbd2 exd4 10. cxd4 Bg4 11. Qe3 d5 12. e5 Ne4 13. O-O Bf5 14. Bc2 Nxd2 15. Qxd2 Be4 16. Rd1 Qd7 17. Qe2 f5 18. Ne1 1/2-1/2

Tiviakov, Sergei (2615) v Leko, Peter (2630)

Cacak 1996

C77 Ruy Lopez, Wormald attack

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. d4 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. O-O Re8 11. Ng5 Rf8 12. dxe5 dxe5 13. Rd1 Bd6 14. Nf1 Na5 15. Bc2 Nc4 16. Ng3 g6 17. a4 Nb6 18. axb5 axb5 19. Rxa8 Qxa8 20. Qxb5 Ba6 21. Qa5 Qb7 22. Qa2 Bc4 23. b3 Bb5 24. Nf3 Nbd7 25. b4 Ra8 26. Qb2 Nb6 27. Bg5 Nc4 28. Qc1 Nd7 29. Bh6 Be7 30. Bb3 c5 31. h3 cxb4 32. cxb4 Rc8 33. Qa1 Ndb6 34. Nd2 Rd8 35. Nxc4 Rxd1+ 36. Bxd1 Nxc4 37. Bb3 Qa6 38. Qd1 Qd6 39. Qg4 Nb6 40. Nf5 Qxb4 41. Qg3 Nd7 42. Nxe7+ Qxe7 43. Bg5 Qb4 44. Bd5 Kg7 45. Qe3 h5 46. Bh6+ Kg8 47. Qf3 Qe7 48. Qb3 Ba6 49. Qa2 Bd3 50. Qa7 Kh7 51. Bd2 Bb5 52. Qa5 Bd3 53. Qc7 Bb5 54. Qb7 Ba4 55. Qa6 Bd1 56. Qa7 Qd6 57. Bc3 Kg7 58. Kh2 h4 59. Bd2 Bb3 60. Bxb3 Qxd2 61. Bd5 Qf4+ 62. Kg1 Nf8 63. Qc7 Nh7 64. Qc3 Nf6 65. Qc2 g5 66. Qd3 g4 67. g3 hxg3 68. fxg3 Qc1+ 69. Kh2 Qb2+ 70. Kh1 Qf2 0-1

Tiviakov, Sergei – Ibragimov, Ildar

C77 RUS-ch m5-8 Elista 1997

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Be7 6. c3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d4 d6 9. Nbd2 exd4 10. cxd4 Bg4 11. Qe3 d5 12. e5 Ne4 13. O-O Bf5 14. Rd1 Qd7 15. Nf1 Na5 16. Bc2 Nc4 17. Qe2 f6 18. Ne3 Bg6 19. Nh4 f5 20. Nxg6 hxg6 21. Nxc4 bxc4 22. f3 Ng5 23. b3 cxb3 24. Bxb3 Ne6 25. Qc2 Rfc8 26. Be3 c6 27. Ba4 Rab8 28. Rab1 Nd8 29. Rdc1 Rxb1 30. Rxb1 Qc7 31. g4 fxg4 32. fxg4 Kh7 33. Qd3 Qd7 34. h3 a5 35. Bc2 Qe8 36. Kg2 Ne6 37. h4 c5 38. h5 cxd4 39. Qxg6+ Qxg6 40. hxg6+ Kg8 41. Bf5 Rc6 42. Rb8+ Bf8 43. Bc1 d3 44. Ba3 Nf4+ 45. Kf2 Rxg6 46. e6 d2 47. Bxg6 1-0

I can still recall the time Ildar,

who played at the Atlanta Chess Center while visiting his sister, and I were standing outside the House of Pain and he said, “You are very lucky to have this place.”

Chess : Black destroys white in 15 moves in Ruy Lopez | Brilliant attack by Black (Wormald attack)

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The Hebrew Hammer

Before the start of the Petrosian Memorial the Legendary Georgia Ironman picked Boris Gelfand to win. I scoffed. In the previous tournament, the FIDE Grand Prix in Tashkent, GM Gelfand tied for last place without winning a game. This came on the heels of the first stage of the 2014-2015 FIDE Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he tied for first place with Fabiano Caruana. With only a few days separating the tournaments, Tim said the players were being bussed around the former Soviet heartland like a circus troop. As can be seen from the play, the players obviously need a break for rest, but something as simple as that is apparently anathema to the FIDE leadership. Kirsan and the ET’s do not play, so why would they know anything about a chess player needing rest?

Decades ago Mad Dog Gordan had a collection of baseball cards that consisted of Jewish players. He called them the “Hammering Hebe’s.” Tim calls Boris Gelfand, the “Hebrew Hammer.” I can assure you this is a terrific sign of respect from the LGI! I, too, have a great deal of respect for the Hammer, but not enough to predict an obviously exhausted Gelfand to win the tournament named after the legendary Tigran Petrosian.

The Hebrew Hammer beat Peter Leko in the final round of the Petrosian Memorial today to finish tied for third place at +1, along with Levon Aronian, who also won his last round game. Alexander Grischuk finished first in an impressive performance, while Vladimir Kramnik came second, showing the good form that has eluded him recently.

Boris Gelfand did not win the tournament, but I was wrong to scoff at Tim’s suggestion that he would win. Never discount the Hebrew Hammer!

The Psychology of Chess

It is difficult for a woodpusher to write about the game of chess played by the best human players because, as Bob Dylan wrote, “The game is the same—it’s just on a different level.” (Po’ Boy by Bob Dylan- http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/po-boy)

We try our best to understand but from being around those at, or near, the top, it is apparent their understanding is on a higher level. The same can be said about any other game, or sport, I suppose, yet many, if not most, of the greatest writers in the history of baseball never played in the show, and some never played the game on any level. Former MLB player Harold Reynolds had the audacity to tell one famous writer that since he had not played baseball in the major league he could not understand the game. Harold has a right to his opinion only because he did play in the show. After hearing the callous remark I thought there might be some merit to his argument, but that the accomplished writer could have a different understanding of the game.

I can still recall a time when IM Boris Kogan, at a tournament in Florida, knew he would face Mr. Six-Time, GM Walter Browne, in the next round having the black pieces. Boris was lamenting the fact that he had no chance. This left the Legendary Georgia Ironman and I flummoxed. We were having a difficult time understanding his defeatist attitude. “You not understand,” Boris kept saying, “Cannot beat him. He too strong now.” Granted, Walter was at the top of his game, and was much younger than Boris, but still…we had a difficult time wrapping our minds around seeing Boris in that condition. Boris lost that game. The players at the top do not need numbers to know chess strength.

“From London to Elista: The Inside Story of the World Chess Championship Matches that Vladimir Kramnik Won Against Garry Kasparov, Peter Leko, and Veselin Topalov,” by Evgeny Bareev and Ilya Levitov is a magnificent book. It won the English Chess Federation 2008 Book-of-the-Year Award. The Gorilla is showing a new copy priced at $221.42; a used copy will set you back $55.00. I am holding on to mine. After reviewing the 7th match game for the World Championship between Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik there is a discussion of chess psychology which begins with my all-time favorite quote about Bobby Fischer. “When you’re playing Fischer, the question isn’t whether or not you’ll win; the question is whether or not you’ll survive.” The quote is from the man Bobby vanquished, Boris Spassky.
“SMYSLOV explained to us: ‘It was difficult for me to play Geller for a simple reason-when we sat down at the board, hatred was written on his face, he was ready to destroy his opponent. And if someone fell into that kind of condition, I couldn’t play.”

Geller had a lifetime plus score against Bobby Fischer. Reflecting on this made me wonder about how a player as strong as Hikaru Nakamura is considered Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen’s “regular customer.” Magnus has beaten Hikaru like a drum, with a lifetime score of 11 wins without a defeat in the only games that count, what is now called “classical” games. How is this possible?

“LEVITOV: But now, in my opinion, all chess players have become highly-qualified psychologists, and they don’t use only chess methods in their battles. Let’s take Kasparov. It’s said that he put pressure on his opponents psychologically-he exuded such a supply of negative energy that they felt like resigning immediately. Bareev once described to me very amusingly how in time trouble Kasparov started shaking his head and making tragic grimaces, as if to say, ‘how can this be, I’ve missed such a simple idea!’ And his opponent sits and desperately tries to work out if he’s being toyed with, and his clock is ticking…In other words, you have to solve psychological problems as well as chess problems during a game.”

Has Hikaru Nakamura lost the psychological battle? Has Magnus gotten into Hikaru’s head? What else can explain such a score?

Levitov poses a question for Bareev, “Does your opponent’s energy have a strong influence on the chess player? Why, for example, did Shirov and Anand always lose to Kasparov, why did Fischer play badly against Geller, and why can’t Polgar play against Kramnik?”

Bareev answers, “It’s genuinely unknown why it’s easier to play one opponent than another, and there are also metaphysical explanations for this-a powerful energy, and unfamiliar style and so on. More often everything simply depends on the playing strengths of blondes and brunettes and their preparedness for the specific encounter. In other words, you have to investigate every specific case separately.”
“LEVITOV: How do you control your emotions, how do you avoid showing that your opponent has surprised you horribly, for example, with his choice of opening? Does everyone have their own acting methods?”
“BAREEV: To a certain extent. People sometimes get ideas on this from the good results of new players. Later they adapt their openings and style of play and stop reacting to the unexpected. It’s better to combine your acting talents with specific skills and abilities.”

After seeing the following parody on the blog of GM Kevin Spraggett (http://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/), the best chess blog on the internet, I could not help but wonder how much acting went into the lessons given by former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov to current Human World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. What part do histrionics play in the psychology of chess?

HMS – SjakkVM – Magnus Carlsen parodi

The Inherent Risk In Chess

Is This a “Serious” Game?
IM Pavlov, Sergey (2470) – GM Brodsky, Michail (2556)
18th Voronezh Master Open 2014 Voronezh RUS (4.9), 2014.06.15
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bc1 ½-½
What about this one?
Fedorov, Alexei – Khalifman, Alexander
18th Voronezh Master Open 2014 Voronezh RUS (9.1), 2014.06.21
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Ng5 Rf8 12.Nf3 Re8 13.Ng5 Rf8 ½-½
(From: http://www.theweekinchess.com/chessnews/events/18th-voronezh-chess-festival-2014)
The Discman sent me two responses to my previous post, “What Constitutes a “Serious Game?” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/what-constitutes-a-serious-game/) These are the words of the Discman:
“6 moves? 1 move? 15 moves that are all main line theory? 30 moves that the 2 players have played before in a previous encounter? They are all the same in my book as they require no thought from the players and do not constitute a competition.
Your scenario where the Super Bowl teams agree to a draw after the 1st quarter would indeed be terrible but it could not happen, as it is not within the rules. The Super Bowl cannot (by rule) end in a tie. It’s one of the advantages the game of football has over chess.
Hockey and soccer shoot-outs are ridiculous methods of breaking a tie, as a shoot-out has nothing to do with the way the game is played. It would be like breaking a draw in chess by arm-wrestling, or seeing who could recite all the World Champions in correct order the fastest, or seeing who could throw their King into the air the highest.”
The next one:
“I hear what you’re saying but the nature of chess is such that a significant percentage of high-level games at slow time controls will end in draws.
That being the case, there are times when a draw will be beneficial (or at least will not damage) a player’s standing in an event.
If you forced GM’s not to take draws prior to move 30 or 40, they could easily do this, as opening theory extends past move 30 in many lines of the more well-trodden openings.
GM’s could simply play out one of those lines that ends in a “=” after move 35 and agree to a draw.
It is not uncommon for GM’s to play 20 or 25 moves that have all been played many times and then agree to a draw; it would be easy enough for them to extend this to move 30.
The only way I can think of to discourage draws is to award different point values for wins and draws as White vs. Black. This has been suggested by many, going back many years.
For example, 1.1 for a win as Black and .9 for White and .55 for a draw as Black and .45 for White.
Now all of a sudden that last-round quick draw to split the 1st & 2nd prize pool no longer works as planned.
This introduces all kinds of additional issues (e.g. what if there are an odd number of rounds in a tournament – is it then actually an advantage to have 3 Blacks and only 2 Whites?).”
Chris made me reflect on something I read in the stupendous book, “From London to Elista,” by Evgeny Bareev & Ilya Levitov. The fifth match game for the World Championship between Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik began with the moves, 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. a3 Nc6 11. Bd3 Bb6 12. O-O Bg4 13. h3 Bh5 14. b4 Re8 15. Rc1 a6 16. Bxa6.
Imagine these same moves having been played by an IM versus a GM in an Open event. The GM, who had been out late drinking and carousing the previous evening knowing he would be paired down the next day, has been making routine moves in an opening he knows well. His opponent’s move startles him, and he is immediately awakened from his stupor. “Damn,” he thinks to himself, “I knew I should have stopped after knocking back that second Jagermiester!” He sits surveying the board thinking, “I know this position. Anand managed to hold a draw against Karpov at Moscow, 2002, but Leko ground down Kramnik after making him suffer in the match for the World Championship.” As he sits racking his brain for the next moves the thought occurs, “Why don’t I offer this lowly IM a draw? That way I can go back to the room and sober up.” Deciding that is the only course of action, he moves his hand toward the Rook in order to take the Bishop and as he touches the Rook he is struck by a spasm. His hand now holding the Rook displaces several pieces. “Ja’doube; Ja’doube!” he says, while desperately putting the pieces back in place. He then looks at his opponent to offer a draw, but before he can do so he is struck by the thought, “What if he does NOT ACCEPT?!” Meekly and plaintively he manages to mutter, “Draw?”
Kramnik blundered horribly, and instructively, in the WC game. Since he had won the first game, this brought the score to even, at 2 1/2 apiece. The next game turned out to be the most critical of the match. The subtitle of this game in the book is: “A HUNGARIAN WITH NO HUNGER”
Leko-Kramnik, WC match game #6
1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.b5 a6 4.a4 f6 5.O-O e7 6.e1 b5 7.b3 O-O 8.h3 b7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 a5 11.a2 c5 12.bd2 c6 13.c3 d7 14.f1 d5 15.g5 dxe4 16.dxe4 c4 17.e3 fd8 18.f5 e6 19.e2 f8 20.b1 h6 1/2-1/2
At the end of the game it is written, “While making this move, Leko offered a draw-probably prematurely.” After providing some variations we have, “Possibly Peter reckoned that a moral victory in the opening debate was fully satisfactory for him. And most probably he was simply following the plan he had decided upon after Game 1. Match score: 3-3.” This concluded the annotations of the game.
Many words have been written about what could have possibly movitated Peter Leko to not press his advantage, not only in this game, but in the match, since he now had the “momentum.” What struck me is what was written next.
“But no one will ever prove to me that some kind of basic match strategy or overall general plan exists that is able-even in the name of a Grand Plan to become World Champion-to justify a withdrawal from the Struggle, going against the very essence and profound spirit of The Great Game which doesn’t recognise compromise and conciliationa and demands wholehearted devotion and passionate fanaticism, but lavishly rewards the chosen madmen who acknowledge and accept the Rules.”
In all my decades of reading about the Royal game those words are some of the most powerful and profound ever written. It goes to the heart of the matter. It is the answer to the question of why we play this game, or any game, for that matter. It is simply incomprehensible to believe Bobby Fischer would have even considered offering a draw to World Champion Boris Spassky in their 1972 match for the title in the exact same position Peter Leko found himself in his match. The same could be said for current World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who is undisputely the best human player on the planet.
Peter Leko lost the match, and his chance to become World Chess Champion. He has the rest of his life to answer the question. I hope is not a weak-minded person, because obsessing over “What might have been” has been known to have driven people insane.
The book, “The Magic Tactics of Mikhail Tal,” by Karsten Muller & Raymond Stolze, contains a prologue, “Knowledge? Intuition? Risk?” written by Tal. It is borrowed from issue #1/1991 of the ‘Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftlich-literarische Beitrage zum Schachspiel’.
“What then can be considered a risk in chess? Does a chess player intentionally take a risk?
If we identify the concept of ‘knowledge’ with a sort of scientific approach to chess, if we place intuition in the realms of art, then to continue with the allegory risk should be linked to sport. It can even be expressed in the terms of the proverb: ‘Whoever does not take any risks never wins anything’. I should like to add to this that in my opinion a chess player is not really taking a risk till he knows what he is risking.”
“A chess player has sacrificed a piece for an attack although that was not strictly necessary. Does that mean he is taking a risk? There is no doubt about that because his attack can be beaten off and his opponent’s extra piece comes back at him like a boomerang.
Fine then, but what about the position of the player who has accepted the sacrifice (although he should decline it) and in doing so reckons that he can beat off the attack? Is he risking something? Of course he is! After all, the attack may be successful.
Who then is taking the risk? There are no scales which are able to determine this.”
I can only add to this my feeling that any player who offers, or agrees to split the point without playing a serious game is someone who plays without risking anything. If that is the case, what then is the point of playing the game?
For the record I give the complete game score of the 5th match game for the World Championship between Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik.
Leko,Peter (2741) – Kramnik,Vladimir (2770) [D37]
World Championship Brissago (5), 02.10.2004
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.a3 Nc6 11.Bd3 Bb6 12.0–0 Bg4 13.h3 Bh5 14.b4 Re8 15.Rc1 a6 16.Bxa6 Rxa6 17.b5 Rxa3 18.bxc6 bxc6 19.Rxc6 Ra7 20.Rd6 Rd7 21.Qxd5 Rxd6 22.Qxd6 Qxd6 23.Bxd6 Bxf3 24.gxf3 Bd8 25.Rb1 Bf6 26.Kg2 g6 27.f4 Kg7 28.Rb7 Re6 29.Rd7 Re8 30.Ra7 Re6 31.Bc5 Rc6 32.Ra5 Bc3 33.Rb5 Ra6 34.Rb3 Bf6 35.Rb8 h5 36.Rb5 Bc3 37.Rb3 Bf6 38.e4 Ra5 39.Be3 Ra4 40.e5 Be7 41.Rb7 Kf8 42.Rb8+ Kg7 43.Kf3 Rc4 44.Ke2 Ra4 45.Kd3 Bh4 46.Bd4 Ra3+ 47.Kc2 Ra2+ 48.Kd3 Ra3+ 49.Kc4 Ra4+ 50.Kd5 Ra5+ 51.Kc6 Ra4 52.Kc5 Be7+ 53.Kd5 Ra5+ 54.Ke4 Ra4 55.Rc8 Bh4 56.e6+ Bf6 57.e7 Rxd4+ 58.Ke3 Bxe7 59.Kxd4 Bh4 60.f3 f5 61.Rc7+ Kf6 62.Kd5 Bg3 63.Rc6+ Kg7 64.Ke5 h4 65.Rc7+ Kh6 66.Rc4 Kg7 67.Ke6 Bh2 68.Rc7+ Kh6 69.Kf7 1–0