Good Old Friends and the Buddy-Buddy Draw at the Moscow Grand Prix

Although I have intentionally not followed the ongoing Moscow Grand Prix event my old friend the legendary Georgia Ironman has followed it because it did begin with a couple of games of what is now called “classical” Chess before devolving into what is called “rapid Chess” before devolving further into “speed” Chess. Frankly, I could care less about which player is best at faster time controls. The only thing that matters is who is best at a classical time control. Say what you will about Magnus Carlsen but the fact is that he could not beat either Sergey Karjakin or Fabiano Caruana at classical Chess, something to keep in mind when talking about the best Chess player of all time.

In an article at Chessbase by Antonio Pereira recently, dated 5/18/2019, it is written: “Ian Nepomniachtchi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Radek Wojtaszek won with the white pieces at the start of the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow, which means Levon Aronian, Wesley So and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov will need to push for a win on Saturday if they want to survive the first round. Three match-ups ended with quick draws, while Peter Svidler and Anish Giri accepted the draws offered by Nikita Vitiugov and Daniil Dubov in games that could have easily kept going.”

The article continues:

“Better than losing and worse than winning”

“A lot of criticism followed the 2011 Candidates Tournament in Kazan, in which the knock-out format led to some players openly using a safe-first strategy by signing quick draws in the classical games and putting all on the line in the tie-breaks. In order to discourage the players from using this strategy, the organizers are awarding an extra point in the Grand Prix overall standings for those who eliminate their opponents needing only two games. In the first game of the opening round in Moscow, four out of eight encounters ended peacefully after no more than 23 moves.”

The so-called “strategy” of the organizers had absolutely no effect on the players who continue to agree to short draws with impunity whenever and wherever they want, regardless of what organizers or fans want to see from them. Are the players aware their “inaction” is killing the Royal game? Do they care?

Exhibit one:

Teimour Radjabov (AZE)

vs Hikaru Nakamura (USA)

Moscow Grand Prix 2019 round 01

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 b5 8. a4 b4 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. Nxc4 c5 11. dxc5 Be4 12. Qd1 ½-½

Sergey Karjakin (RUS) – Alexander Grischuk (RUS)

Moscow Grand Prix 2019 round 01

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. a4 Bd6 7. a5 O-O 8. Be2 e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. O-O Bc7 12. Qb3 Nc6 13. a6 bxa6 14. Qa4 ½-½

The article continues:

“It must be added that Nikita Vitiugov had what seemed like a considerable advantage against Peter Svidler when he surprisingly offered a draw.

Both contenders are part of the Mednyi Vsadnik team from Saint Petersburg, which won the last two editions of the Russian Team Championship and are the current European champions. Vitiugov has also worked for Svidler as a second more than once. The long-time friends talked about how unfortunate it was for them to be paired up immediately in round one, although Svidler confessed that, “[he] somehow had a feeling that [they] would play at least one [match], and particularly in Moscow”.


Good old friends from Saint Petersburg | Photo: World Chess

“Regarding the position shown in the diagram, Peter recounted how he was thinking about 18.f4 being a move that would leave him worse on the board. So, when the move was accompanied by a draw offer, he thought, “yeah, that’s a good deal!” And the point was split then and there.

To accept the draw was a good match strategy? Peter wittily added:

“As for match strategy, I envy people who have strategies of any kind. I don’t have any. I thought I was worse and then I was offered a draw, so I took it.”
https://en.chessbase.com/post/moscow-grand-prix-2019-r1-d1


http://www.espn.com/espnw/news-commentary/slideshow/13596920/13-major-showdowns-serena-venus-williams

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, have had to play each other many times during their storied tennis careers, and each and every time there has been a winner because offering a draw is not in the tennis rule book. What is it doing in the Chess rule book?

Chess organizers better wake up because Chess is in a battle with the game of Go and if the trend continues, like the Highlander, there will be only one left standing.

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Game One World Chess Human Chess Championship Commentary

There is a massive amount of analysis on the games of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship which you will not find here. What you will find are comments about the commentary delivered by some of the announcers during the first game played yesterday.

I began watching the commentary of Peter Svidler

because Yaz, Maurice, and Jen only appeared a couple of hours into the match. The wife of GM Anish Giri, Sopiko Guramishvili,

was sitting beside Peter. GM Alexander Grischuk

was included via a box which was probably via Skype. When the show began Sopiko giggled often, which was disconcerting. When Grischuk appeared she, thankfully, sat there silently as the two GMs analysed. I have always enjoyed Svidler’s commentary. Some of the wrap up videos he has produced after commenting on games all day are truly amazing. Unfortunately for Sopiko, in a live broadcast one either adds to or detracts from the broadcast. She was included only because of political correctness as she is a woman and many people involved with Chess deem it necessary to include a woman, any woman, in a futile attempt to attract more women to the game.

After turning them off I waited until the “A” team appeared. GMs Yasser Seriwan

and Maurice Asheley

did not disappoint. Once again NM Jennifer Shahade

joined Yasser to deliver a female perspective. The men wore normal clothing while Jennifer wore something with a strategic split along the top which looked like someone had taken a knife and slashed the top part of her clothing. This allowed a small amount of her ample cleavage to be shown in an attempt, one assumes, at attracting more male viewers. Have you ever noticed a man wearing anything similar? In the year of the “Me Too” movement it may have been better for the only female on the broadcast to have worn something more business like and less revealing. Can you imagine Yasser or Maurice wearing a top with an open rip in order to reveal part of their breast area? Me neither…

This was heard on the broadcast: “Magnus said he did not have the energy now at 28 that he had when he won the WCC.”

The human body replaces each and every cell every seven years. This is the year in which Magnus will replace his cells. I wonder if that may have something to do with his comment? I have been researching Major League Baseball players and age recently and one thing learned thus far is that a players peak year, once thought to be thirty, is now thought to be twenty eight. The highest amount of time on the disabled list is between ages twenty nine and thirty. I cannot help but wonder if there is also a correlation between the brain and body as far as ageing goes…

Magnus beat the hell out of a dead horse for 115 moves yesterday in a futile attempt to squeeze blood out of a turnip. His attempt failed and it is possible the attempt may come back to haunt him as he could be the one weakened, not his younger opponent. Once again Magnus had a winning game he did not win. The same thing has occurred against Fabiano in their recent encounters, but Caruana has held firm, just as Sergei Karjakin did against Magnus in the last match for the World Human Chess Championship. Has Magnus, the ultimate grinder, lost his grinding machine driving wheel?

During the critical part of the game Garry Kasparov

appeared on the program as a “special” guest via Skype. As Kasparov droning on and on I thought about a quote about Bob Dylan found in the book, Another Side of Bob Dylan: A Personal History on the Road and off the Tracks by Victor Maymudes.

A party was being planned and someone mentioned inviting Bob Dylan. “Don’t do that,” someone said, “Bob sucks all the air out of the room.” Kasparov sucked all the life out of the broadcast so I had to mute the sound and head over to the ChessBomb until Garry finally exited the stage.

As Magnus continued squeezing the turnip the talk turned to the format of the World Human Chess Championship. There was total agreement speed Chess should not be used to decide a WHCC but the gang seemed to like the idea of what is now called “rapid” Chess being used after “classical” games to decide a WHCC. There is currently a tournament, the Tata Steel India Rapid, being touted as the, “The first super tournament on Indian soil.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-first-super-tournament-on-indian-soil-begins)

I loathe and detest any kind of tiebreak, especially for a World Champioship match. To become World Human Champion a player should beat the title holder in a classical time control. Period. If the challenger cannot beat the champ then what is the purpose of playing a match? If the challenger can only tie with the champion then the champion should remain Champion. Ask David Bronstein.

The future of Chess has arrived, I am sad to report. It was inevitable because of rampant cheating. The Royal game will live or die with rapid. I cannot wait to hear Peter Svidler attempt to explain what is going on in a half dozen rapid games being played at the same time. The calm and relaxed Yasser who usually goes with a slow flow will be forced to pick up the pace considerably in the way a Major League Baseball announcer must adjust to the frenzied pace of a National Basketball Association game. Yasser is not getting any younger and it is often difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. The highly intense Maurice, on the other hand, may be able to adapt quite well. Give Jennifer a low cut blouse and with her smile she will do quite nicely at any pace.

The Najdorf in Black and White: A Review

Because of having played the Najdorf system during my formative years in the last century I was interested in learning about GM Bryan Smith’s new book on the opening (https://mongoosepress.com/the-najdorf-in-black-and-white/).

I met Bryan

at the 2009 Kentucky Open where he took first place by a half point. There were myriad problems with the tournament, directed by Alan Priest, which included no electricity for the lighting in the first couple of rounds, so it was played in semi-darkness, which seemed to not bother Mr. Priest. After developing a splitting headache, due to the poor lighting, and losing a game, I withdrew from the tournament, but returned the following day to spectate. While Bryan was waiting on the last round games to finish a conversation developed. Bryan is a quite, taciturn young man, the kind of fellow who lets his moves do his talking. I learned he was from Anchorage Alaska, and he is now the first-ever Grandmaster from Alaska. My home state of Georgia has yet to produce a home-grown GM. I recall asking Bryan why he decided to travel to Louisville in lieu of playing in one of the other, larger, tournaments in his area. He answered in a way that said he would rather be a big fish in a small pond that weekend rather than being a smaller fish in a much larger pond. “Better odds of taking home money?” I asked, and he produced a grin. We talked for some time and I transcribed what was recalled of the conversation later that day, but never used it, much to my regret. Bryan graciously answered my questions so what I recall was an enjoyable afternoon conversation with one of the nicest GM’s with whom I have conversed.

I have replayed many Nadjorf games since moving on to playing other openings, but have not devoted time studying the Nadjorf system with the intensity shown earlier when playing the system. For some time I have wanted a book to read on the system in order to compare the way the system is played now as opposed to how it was played last century, but the books are usually dense and voluminous, with a heavy emphasis on variations. Some of the books could be used as a doorstop. When my review copy, published by Mongoose Press (https://mongoosepress.com/), arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only a small volume of 162 pages. The book is heavy on words, and ideas, rather than being yet another “data-dump.” Some have written books like the magnificent Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953,

by David Bronstein,

et al, cannot be published today because words, conveying ideas, are predominate. This book proves those writers wrong. Most of the variations included are short enough one does not need a board with which to visualize them. One of the players from my early days told me he liked to read a Chess book without using a board. There are enough diagrams for one to utilize this book in that way, which is exactly how I read the book. Then I read it again using a board and pieces because it is that good.

The book begins with an Introduction: The Cadillac of Openings.

“With this book, I present a collection of games played in the Najdorf Sicilian. The purpose of this book is not to be exhaustive – that would require at least ten times the content, and even then it would not encompass a fraction of the analysis and relevant games played in the Najdorf. This book also does not suggest a repertoire for either White or Black – although players can glean some ideas, since I have generally picked games played in the lines I favor. I think it is dishonest for a writer to try to portray an opening in only a positive light: ultimately, even the most objective writers of repertoire books have to massage the facts and minimize the problems of an opening – and every opening has them.

The purpose of this book, rather, is to show how to play the Najdorf, with White or Black, through archetypal games. I believe that by studying the games in this book, one can develop a solid general sense of the different types of game resulting from the Najdorf as played in the twenty-first century. It is my hope that readers will also gain some degree of enjoyment or entertainment from the games, which have been selected not only on their instructional merits, but also for their aesthetic value.”

The book will be judged by the criteria chosen by the author. The question is whether Bryan delivered on his promise. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Baseball terms this book is like hitting a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series!

Bryan continues the introduction. “Having a lifelong opening that one knows inside and out like one’s own house is a major advantage to a chess player. It means that the player can always rely on reaching position that he understands in general terms and knows something about. Perhaps more importantly, though, it gives confidence.”

Reading the above caused me to reflect upon my early days playing the Najdorf. I have never felt as confident playing any opening as I did when playing the Najdorf system. Why did I stop playing the Najdorf system? Bryan continues the introduction, “A sufficiently rich opening will provide immunity against the winds of theory – if one variation is refuted, another can be found, so long as the opening is built on proper principles. I believe the Najdorf can be such an opening. Some may imagine that is is a theoretical labyrinth, suitable only for those with an incredible memory and a willingness to play twenty or more moves of known theory before beginning the game. It is true that there are certain lines in the Najdorf where this is the norm – for instance, the Poisoned Pawn Variation (6.Bg5 e6 7,f4 Qb6). However, the reader will see in this book that these variations can be sidestepped, and that it is indeed possible to play the Najdorf “by the light of nature,” with experience providing a guide. Most of the games I have chosen feature ways of avoiding these quagmires. Despite its sharpness, the Najdorf is an opening built on solid positional principles. It is basically a positional opening.”

When first beginning the Chess road the Dragon variation was very popular. Once a strong player advocated against purchasing a book on the Dragon because “It is written in disappearing ink.” He said that because the theory was changing so fast by the time you read the book, much of it had been refuted. The same could have been said about the Najdorf system. I also recall reading something about there being players who knew the Najdorf, but did not know Chess. I was one of those people, because like others, I knew the Najdorf, but not Chess. After leaving Chess for Backgammon, upon my return to Chess I simply did not have time to keep abreast of the constantly changing theory of the Najdorf system, so decided to learn, and play, other openings. Yet what I learned about Bobby Fischer’s favorite opening has stuck with me, while the other openings never infused me with the confidence felt when playing the Najdorf system.

After the introduction, and before the first chapter, one finds, The Development Of the Najdorf Sicilian, a seven page historical perspective of the Najdorf system. It begins, “The Najdorf can trace its origins to the nineteenth-century German master Louis Paulsen.

Paulsen was an innovator of defense. In an era when 1.e4 e5 was the dominant opening and direct attacking play was the main method of winning, Paulsen understood the concept of asymmetrical play and counterattack. His openings and positional play were often a full century ahead of their time.”

Louis Paulsen was one of the most interesting, and underappreciated, players from the early days of the nineteenth century. Paulsen’s ideas influenced the development of the Royal game greatly. I played openings such as the C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation, for example.

Bryan gives a game between Lewis Isaacs and Abraham Kupchick played at Bradley Beach in 1928, writing, “A forgotten 1928 game from a tournament in the U. S. might be the first use of the “real” Najdorf.”

Lewis Isaacs vs Abraham Kupchik

Bradley Beach 1928

ECO: B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 b5 7. Bf3 e5 8. Nb3 Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Re1 O-O 12. Rc1 Nb6 13. Na5 Rb8 14. Nxb7 Rxb7 15. b3 Rc7 16. Qd3 Nbd7 17. Be3 Nc5 18. Qd1 Qa8 19. Bg5 Ncd7 20. Nb1 h6 21. Bd2 Rfc8 22. Ba5 Rc6 23. g3 Nc5 24. Nc3 Bd8 25. Bxd8 Rxd8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 Qc8 28. Red1 Ne6 29. Bg4 Rc5 30. Qd2 Rc3 31. Re1 Qc5 32. Re3 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Ng5 34. Qd3 d5 35. exd5 Rxd5 36. Qe2 Qc3 37. h4 Rd2 38. Qe1 Ne4 39. Bf5 Nf2 40. Bd3 Nxd3 41. cxd3 Qxd3 42. Rc8+ Kh7 43. Rc1 f5 44. a4 b4 45. g4 Re2 0-1

He culminates the chapter with, “Despite the opening’s great popularity and constant use at the top level for many decades, the Najdorf remains mysterious and has its unexplored areas, with the new ideas waiting to be born. Its attraction for the chess professional today is easy to understand, since it is an opening where it is possible to play for a win with Black, while it is also unquestionably sound. Although positionally and tactically very sharp, the Najdorf player still controls his own fate.”

Chapter one is titled, Va Banque: 6.Bg5. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 the author advocates Qc7. I never played any move other than 7…Be7 because, well, you know, that is the move played by Bobby Fischer. After studying the games, and positions, I came to understand why the author would advocate the move Qc7 for those taking their first Najdorf steps. The amount of material in the main line can be daunting for a neophyte. The fourth game of the chapter is one in which the author had white against Hristos Banikas at Retymnon in 2009. After the obligatory first five moves of the Najdorf Bryan played 6 Bg5, which was answered with Nbd7. “An old and new move – it was played frequently in the 1950s and again in the 2010s – and not so much in-between.” After 7 f4 we have Qc7.

The other chapters are:

2) The Classicist’s Preference: 6 Be2
3) Add Some English: 6 Be3
4) In Morphy’s Style: 6 Bc4
5) White to Play and Win: 6 h3
6) Systematic: g3
7) Healthy Aggression: 6 f4
8) Action-Reaction: 6 a4
9) Odds and Ends

To illustrate what I mean by the use of words, in lieu of variations, to explain what is happening on both sides of the board, look at the position from Game 11: Zaven Andriasian-Ian Nepomniachtchi, played at the 2010 Aeroflot Open in Moscow. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3

The reader finds, “The retreat of the knight to f3 rather than b3 changes nothing in the structure (at least not right away), but the choice of this square has a dramatic effect on the course of the game. In contrast to 7. Nb3, putting the knight on f3 leads to much quieter, more positional play, where White tries t dominate the d5 square. And why is this? Whereas 7.Nb3 allows for White to play f2-f3 with queen-side castling and a king-side pawn storm, after 7,Nf3 this is not possible. White will almost certainly castle king-side. In the meantime, b3 is left free as a retreat square for the bishop from c4. Consequently, rather than opposite-side castling and mutual attacks, you get a more positional struggle.”

Another fine example is from Game 14, Nigel Short

vs Garry Kasparov,

PCA World Championship, game 8, London 1993: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. f4 Nc5 9. e5 dxe5 10. fxe5 Nfd7 11. Bf4 b5

“In this way, Black places the bishop on its best diagonal (the long diagonal) before White can prevent it by Qd1-f3. Such a position might look good for White on the surface-the e5-pawn confers some space advantage and White has rapid development, plus the f-file is open and the white pieces are placed in threatening-looking positions. But such is the poison of the Sicilian. Black too has his advantages, and they tend to be more long-lasting. The bishop which will come to b7 will be very well placed. The advanced e5-pawn is not only a strength, but a weakness. And most importantly, Black has a well placed knight on c5 and a substantial advantage in space on the queen-side – the advance…b5-b4 is constantly looming over White, and the b3-bishop, if not activated in some dramatic fashion, could turn out to be a complete dud.”

One can turn to almost any page and find nuggets of wisdom such as the above illustrating the aims of BOTH SIDES! If one wishes to play the Najdorf system, or play against it, this is the book for you.

The author has dug deep, unearthing this game, found in the notes to Game 24, Judit Polgar

vs Dariusz Swiercz,

which I was unable to locate in any database. Bryan writes, “6…e6 is likely to be met by 7.g4, which looks like a fairly promising line for White – although 7…Nc6 is another possibility for Black to look into. Instead, the originator of 6.Qf3, American master Andrew Karklins, liked to continue with 7.b3. His record against grandmasters with this line was not very good, but he did have one major scalp:

Andrew Karklins

vs Peter Svidler,

World Open 1995

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Qf3 e6 7. b3 Qb6 8. Nde2 Qc7 9. Bb2 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. g4 d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13.
Bg2 Nd7 14. O-O Bd6 15. Qh3 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 Be5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Rad1 O-O 19.Qe3 Bb8 20. Ne4 Ne5 21. Bxe5 Bxe5 22. Nc5 Qc7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Rd7 Qb6 25. Rfd1 Rfd8 26. b4 a5 27. Qf3 axb4 28. axb4 Kf8 29. Kg2 Rdc8 30. R1d6 Qb8 31. Qd3 1-0

This book achieves its aim, hitting the target with a bullseye!

Blunderful Berlin

Mark Weeks recommended on his blog, Chess For All Ages (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/03/game-and-mistake-of-day.html) videos hosted by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko. I spent the off day watching the interviews before watching GM Peter Svidler

analyze the games between Aronian,

and Kramnik

from round three,

and Kramnik-Caruana,

from the following round. I have always liked Svid since reading an interview, or Q&A, in which he mentioned Bob Dylan as one of his favorite musical artists. I have previously watched some of his round of the day videos, which were excellent. They are usually filmed after a long day of analyzing Chess when he is obviously exhausted. They are, nevertheless, wonderfully elucidating, and the aforementioned videos are no exception. After the opening moves had been played today, I watched the post-game press conference with Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana

on Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en) before watching Svid give his take on the game, which I enjoyed immensely.

While working at the House of Pain (aka, the Atlanta Chess and Game Center), I noticed Chess videos had become quite popular. Being a fossil from the days when players obtained information from books, I wondered why anyone would pay that kind of money for a video when one could use it to purchase a book. Videos proliferate to the point now when one can obtain them freely via the internet.

I thought about this when receiving an email from Gene Nix, a player and organizer in Greenville, SC. (http://www.greenvillechessclub.org/index.html)

“I agree that kids are good to have around, in chess and elsewhere. A neighborhood with young children running round is more alive, and kids playing chess means tournaments will continue into the future, if more noisily. But they’re different now. I asked one of the Charlotte teenager Masters what he’d read to help him become so strong – My System, Zurich 1953, My 60 Memorable Games, opening monographs, or what? “I don’t read chess books.”

Good weekend to you,
Gene
On Friday, February 2, 2018

Ouch! That hurt. I love the feel of a good book in the morning. I begin most days with a book and cuppa coffee. A good day finds me with another cuppa afternoon joe, and a book!

I have read that beauty is in the flaws, or imperfections. This is applicable to Chess, for without imperfections some of the greatest games, most beautiful and exciting games would never have been played. Such is the case with the current Candidates tournament in Berlin. Peter Svidler can be heard saying, “…more mistakes are forthcoming.” He also says the games are, “…incredibly interesting and exciting,” because of the mistakes. Caruana has been involved in two of the games mentioned in this post, as has Levon Aronian. Fabiano was fortunate to win both games, while Levon was not so fortunate, yet he is to be applauded as much as Fabiano for playing fighting Chess, which has been infinitely more enjoyable than some of the draws made by other players. I hope a fighting player wins the event because one should not be able to draw their way to a seat across from the human World Chess Champion. “I’ve played pretty good fighting Chess,” said Caruana. Levon, probably the favorite going into the tournament, said in answer to a question, “Not my best; probably one of my worst.” For Levon it has been a

Myriad problems marred the beginning of the tournament. GM Kevin Spraggett detailed how bad were the conditions when he wrote, “The players in the tournament are really suffering. There is only one toilet for 8 players, the first day there was no running water! Now there is water, but it is soapy.” (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/the-laughs-at-the-candidates-tournament/)

Levon mentioned in the interview in answering a question concerning flashes from cellphones, said it was, “Not as noisy as the first couple of days.” For such an important tournament, second only to the Worlds Championship, this is unacceptable. Levon went on to say, “When you play badly your play is affected by everything, but when you play well it’s not so…” The sound of clapping could be heard from the audience.

Let us hope the Germans somehow manage to alleviate the suffering of the poor players for the last rounds of the tournament. The best human Chess players in the world deserve better conditions than they have received.

The Bird Attack

After having to face the Bird opening in round four, GM Peter Svidler decided to flip Jakovenko the Bird today. One can go months, years, without seeing a Bird, then the next thing you know one feels like Tippi Hedren in one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous movies.

Svidler, Peter (2743) – Jakovenko, Dmitry (2745)
67th ch-RUS 2014 Kazan RUS (7), 2014.12.05

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 (Although this is the most often played move, I was surprised to find, according to the CBDB, Stockfish plays c4, while Komodo plays e3) Nf6 (Stockfish plays g6, which has held White to only 40%! Komodo prefers 2…Bf5, against which White has scored 58%!) 3.g3 (Depending on the version, Stockfish plays either e3 or b3) g6 (Again, depending on which version, SF plays this, or 3…c5, or Bc5)
4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O (Komodo likes d3) O-O 6.d3 (Houdini shows Nc3) c5 (SF plays b6) 7.Qe1 (All engines agree) Nc6 (While this is Komodo’schoice, Houdini plays 7…Qb6, with SF playing 7…d4) 8.h3 (All three engines play 8 e4) d4 9.Na3 (SF plays this, but Houey likes 9 e4) Nd5 10.Nc4 b6 (TN- Previously seen have been 10 b5 & Rb8. See games) 11.Bd2 Bb7 12.c3 e6 13.Rc1 Rc8 14.Qf2 Nde7 15.a4 Ba6 16.Nce5 dxc3 17.Bxc3 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 Nc6 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Ne5 Nxe5 21.fxe5 Qd4 22.Qxd4 cxd4 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.b4 b5 25.Ra1 Rc7 26.a5 f6 27.exf6+ Kxf6 28.Kf2 Bc8 29.Ke1 e5 30.Kd2 Be6 31.Rc1 Rxc1 32.Kxc1 Bd7 33.h4 g5 34.Kd2 g4 35.Be4 h6 36.Bd5 Ke7 37.e4 Kf6 38.Ke2 Ke7 39.Kd2 Kf6 40.Ke2 Ke7 ½-½

Malaniuk, Vladimir P (2532) vs Simacek, Pavel (2480)
Marianske Lazne 2006

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 c5 5. O-O Nc6 6. d3 Nf6 7. Qe1 O-O 8. Kh1 Re8 9. Qf2 b6 10. Ne5 Bb7 11. Nc3 e6 12. e4 Qc7 13. Nxc6 1/2-1/2

Lund, D Brett (2255) vs Dineley, Richard (2270)
BCF-chT 9798 (4NCL) 1998

1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 c5 7. Qe1 Nc6 8. h3 d4 9. Na3 Nd5 10. Nc4 b5 11. Nce5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 Bb7 13. c4 dxc3 14. bxc3 Qc7 15. e4 Nb6 16. Rb1 a6 17. c4 Nd7 18. Ng4 Nf6 19. Ne3 e6 20. Bb2 Bc6 21. Be5 Qe7 22. Qc3 Rac8 23. Ng4 Nh5 24. Bxg7 Nxg7 25. f5 Qd6 26. fxg6 fxg6 27. Nh6+ Kh8 28. Nf7+ Rxf7 29. Rxf7 Qd4+ 30. Qxd4 cxd4 31. e5 Bxg2 32. Kxg2 bxc4 33. dxc4 Rd8 34. g4 d3 35. Rd1 Kg8 36. Rf3 1-0

Bielawski, Przemyslaw (2215) vs Pioch, Zygmunt (2285)
MK Cafe op-A 1997

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 c5 7. Qe1 d4 8. Na3 Nc6 9. h3 Nd5 10. Nc4 Rb8 11. a4 b6 12. g4 Ncb4 13. Na3 Bd7 14. b3 Bc6 15. Ne5 Bb7 16. Qg3 Nc3 17. Rf2 Nd1 18. Rf1 Nc3 19. Rf2 Bxg2 20. Rxg2 Qc7 21. e4 dxe3 22. Bxe3 Ncd5 23. Bd2 Nc6 24. Re1 Nxe5 25. fxe5 Qd7 26. Nc4 a6 27. Ne3 Nxe3 28. Bxe3 Rbc8 29. Kh1 b5 30. axb5 axb5 31. Qf2 c4 32. bxc4 bxc4 33. d4 Qd5 34. c3 f6 35. e6 Qxe6 36. Bf4 Qd7 37. Qe3 e5 38. dxe5 fxe5 39. Bg3 Qc6 40. Kh2 Rf3 41. Qa7 e4 42. Rb1 Rf7 43. Qe3 Rd8 44. Rb6 Qd5 45. Rb4 Qd3 46. Qb6 Bxc3 47. Rxc4 Qxc4 48. Qxd8+ Kg7 49. g5 Qe6 50. Qb8 Re7 51. Rf2 h5 52. Qf8+ Kh7 53. Qh6+ Kg8 54. Rf8# 1-0

Spassky’s variation

Svidler, Peter (2743) – Morozevich, Alexander (2724)
67th ch-RUS 2014 Kazan RUS (3), 2014.11.30
A05 Reti, King’s Indian attack, Spassky’s variation

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 3.d3 Bb7 4.e4 g6 5.e5 Nd5 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.Re1 e6 9.c4 bxc4 10.dxc4 Nb6 11.Qe2 Nc6 12.Nc3 Ba6 13.b3 d6 14.Bg5 Qc8 15.Bf6 Bxf6 16.exf6 Qd8 17.Ne4 Nd7 18.Nfg5 Nd4 19.Qg4 h5 20.Qd1 e5 21.Nf3 Ne6 22.h4 Rb8 23.Nfg5 Nd4 24.f4 Nxf6 25.fxe5 dxe5 26.Nc5 Qd6 27.Nxa6 Qxa6 28.Rxe5 Qd6 29.Re1 Rbd8 30.Qd3 Qb6 31.Kh1 Nf5 32.Qc3 Qf2 0-1

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 (According to 365Chess.com this is “A05 Reti, King’s Indian attack, Spassky’s variation.” The CBDB (http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/database/) shows Spassky’s move holding White to only 49%, much lower than the “usual suspect” moves of, in order of frequency, d5; g6; b6; & c5) 3.d3 (Not to be outdone, Svid, a man who appreciates Bob Dylan, counters with another lesser played move, which has scored an astounding 69%, albeit in a limited number of games. Houdini plays Svidler’s move, but Stockfish plays Bg2)
3…Bb7 (The usual move, but Stockfish plays either d5 or e6) 4.e4 (The engines all prefer Bg2, but it has only scored 46%, while Svid’s move has scored 67% in limited action)
4…g6 (A TN on move four and they are in the streets!)
The game ended after Svidler made what Yasser Seirawan would call a “howler.”

Huang, Qian (2464) – Mchedlishvili, Mikheil (2622)
Qatar Masters Open 2014 Doha QAT (5.34), 2014.11.30
A46 Queen’s pawn game
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.O-O c5 6.a4 b4 7.c4 bxc3 8.bxc3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Na6 (Be7 10. Nc3 Ne4 1/2-1/2; Silvino Garcia Martinez (2425) vs Evgeny Pigusov (2540), Santa Clara, 1991) 10.Nc3 Nb4 11.a5 Be7 12.Ne5 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 O-O 14.Bd2 Qc8 15.Qa4 Rb8 16.Kg1 d6 17.Nf3 Qa6 18.Rfb1 Nbd5 19.Nxd5 Nxd5 20.Kf1 h6 21.Rxb8 Rxb8 22.Rc1 Rc8 23.Rb1 Rc6 24.Rb8+ Rc8 25.Rb1 Rc6 26.Rb8+ Rc8 27.Rb1 ½-½

You Must Be Present to Win

Having awakened with a headache Saturday morning the last thing I wanted to do was look at a computer screen. Because light and sound caused pain I stayed in a quiet, dark room most of the day. After taking a handful of 81 mg aspirin, and several naps, the pain diminished to a point nearing evening where it was possible to crank-up Toby and watch a replay of the sixth game of the WC match. As I watched, and listened to the commentary of GM Peter Svidler, and the incessant giggling and tittering of Sopiko, which grates on the nerves like someone scratching a blackboard with fingernails, a decision was made to take a break. Upon resumption of the coverage it was blatantly obvious by the demeanor of Peter that something dramatic had happened, but what? Rather than informing we viewers of exactly what had transpired, Svid “drug it out,” as we say in the South, until I was screaming at the screen, “Get on with it!” Finally, the blunder by the World Champion was shown. It was what Yasser Seirawan would call a “howler.” It was the kind of blunder one would expect from someone rated in the triple digits. When that was followed by a blunder by the former World Champion I yelled, “Oh Nooooooooooooo!!!” This was like watching a game between GCA VP Ben Johnson and USCF board member Alan Priest, both of whom sport triple-digit ratings.

As if it were not bad enough to break away from the action at what turned out to be the most critical part of the game, and possibly the match, the people in charge of the “live” coverage did NOT continue filming, but also took a break. This is absurd! Upon resumption of the coverage all we were left with is the description of GM Sivdler. This is reminiscent of the now infamous “Heidi game,” as it is called. “The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. It came to be known as the Heidi Game because the NBC Television Network controversially broke away from the game, with the Jets still winning, to air the 1968 television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game) The blunders on the board were nothing compared to the decision made by someone producing coverage of the game.

When teaching children to play chess one of the things I have said is, “You must be present to win.” I tell the children that in Las Vegas if one enters a drawing the rules state “you must be present to win.” If your name is called and you are not there, another name will be drawn. “You snooze, you lose,” I say in hopes this will stay with the children. I add that it is imperative they stay focused at whatever is is they are doing and “be present.”

The blunder Viswanathan Anand made is the same kind of move all players have made; he moved too quickly. Peter Svidler said, “If Vishy had taken thirty seconds to look at the position he would not have played that move,” adding, “It is always the quick move that kills you,” or some such. I know that is true from first-hand experience. Vishy was so focused on his plan he neglected to ask himself how the position had changed after the blunder made by Magnus.

I have taught the children what I call the “cardinal” rules of chess. 1) Why did my opponent make that move? 2) What move do I want, or need, to make? 3) Am I leaving anything en prise? Anand obviously did not ask himself any questions, much to his regret. Vishy was so “not there” that he did not watch Magnus play one of the worse moves ever made in a match for the championship of the world. Vishy was not present and did not win.

But what about Magnus Carlsen? He violated cardinal rule number three. I am having trouble getting my mind around the fact that Magnus did not even ask himself the question, “If I play my King to d2, how will my opponent respond?” These are the best players in the world and both drifted away at the same moment. This is INCREDIBLE! This type of double-blunder has happened previously in the games of Magnus. The Legendary Georgia Ironman mentioned the back to back “red moves” (Chessbomb displays the move in red if it is what GM Yassser Seiriwan would call a “howler”) played by Magnus and Levon Aronian recently, adding, “Somehow it is always the opponent of Magnus who makes the second “howler.” Maybe they just do not expect Magnus to make a mistake.” Maybe so, but a wise man always expects the unexpected.

It was so bad during the press conference the moderator, Anastasiya Karlovich, said, “Are there any questions not about the move Kd2?” Everyone wanted to know how Magnus could have played such a horrible move. He had no explanation. It is more than a little obvious things are not right with team Carlsen. This is the main reason I thought Vishy would win the match. Magnus has not played well since winning the title, and his poor play has continued. Vishy had not played particularly well in the year(s) leading up to the first match. Some thought he may “get it together,” but I was not inclined to believe it possible to reverse such poor play, which proved to be the case.

How much did the fact that Magnus would play White two games in a row during the middle of the match factor into the game? I recall reading about a group of mathematicians who “proved” it is much more fair during a shootout in football that the team who goes second will also have the third attempt, and then revert to alternating. This would seem to be inherently better than to have one player play the White pieces twice in the middle of a World Championship match. Who thought of, and implemented this ridiculous format? Could it have been the FIDE ETs”? Back in the day games were played every other day, but now it is two games and then a break. Things were better “back in the day.”

Most have wondered how Vishy will respond to such an oversight, forgetting that Magnus is the one who made one of the worst blunders ever made in a WC match. Magnus has to know that he missed his chance to put the hammer down in the first game by playing 42…Re3. If he had won that game, and also won the second, as he did, the match would have been all over but the shouting. He knows he has only himself to blame for being in a contest. He also knows that even with a win in the first game the match could now be tied, if Vishy had won the most recent game. He also knows it is possible that Vishy could very well be leading the match at the halfway point. Vishy is not the only one seeing ghosts at this point in the match.

I have no idea what to expect tomorrow; probably more of the same. I do, though, expect the players to take a page out of the book of former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura (http://www.ora.tv/offthegrid) and “stay vigilant.” Although down, I still have faith in Viswanathan Anand, and expect him to win the match.