Kacper Piorun vs Hikaru Nakamura Play Captain Mackenzie’s Variation

In the Chessbase report Batumi Olympiad Round 9: Poland stuns USA, Sagar Shah writes:

10/4/2018 – “Being the sole leader at the Olympiad is not an easy task. USA was the sole leader with 15.0/16 going into the ninth round. They were the clear favourites facing the Polish team. But the inspired Poles played out of their skins and beat the US with three draws and the decisive result being Piorun beating Nakamura.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/batumi-olympiad-round-9-poland-stuns-usa)

I nominate the latter part for understatement of the year. Team USA held control of its fate in its hands. Hikaru Nakamura’s loss was, quite simply, DEVASTATING. There were other losses earlier in the Olympiad by team USA but coming when it did, none compared to Nakamura’s loss in round nine. To argue that it was not the most devastating loss of the 2018 Olympiad, and arguably the most devastating loss by any American in any Olympiad, would be akin to arguing that a batter striking out in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the MLB World Series with two outs and the tying and winning runners on base was the same as a strikeout earlier in the game.

Mr. Shah writes about the game, “Nakamura tried the Scandinavian against Kacper Piorun, retreating his queen back to d8, and was in a slightly inferior position out of the opening. There were a few equalizing chances like the one below, but Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that’s the reason why he made certain poor decisions.”

The author of those words mentions absolutely nothing about how he came to know that, “…Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that’s the reason why he made certain poor decisions.” Is this what Hikaru said after the game when questioned, or is this what Mr. Shah assumes? Inquiring minds want to know…Maybe we Chess fans will be able to glean what, exactly, was in Nakamura’s mind during that game if, and only if he gives an interview. Maybe IM John Donaldson will explain the circumstances in a future article about the Olympiad. I find it extremely difficult to believe “…Naka wanted to win the game at all costs.” Hikaru Nakamura has been drawing the majority of his games recently and his current rating decline is an indication of the correctness of what I have written. Hikaru Nakamura is now thirty years old, and if he were a Chinese player would not be on the Olympic squad because when a player turns thirty in China he must stop playing and become a teacher. Could this be the reason China took the gold medal? Although it pains this old man to write this as Nakamura is to me still a young man the fact is that in modern Chess when players earn their GM title before leaving grade school Hikaru became “old” upon turning thirty.

Let us have a look at the game. I have previously attempted to play this line, first played by Captain George Henry Mackenzie

in the London tournament held in 1883. Why Nakamura chose this particular opening only he can explain.Certainly if he were of the mindset to “…win the game at all costs…” he would have chosen a more, shall we say, dynamic opening. Incidentally, Piorun is five-time World problem-solving champion. He certainly solved the Nakamura problem in this game…

Kacper Piorun (POL) (2612)

– Hikaru Nakamura (USA) (2763)

World Chess Olympiad Batumi 2018 round 09

B01 Scandinavian or Centre Counter defense

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 (It should come as not surprise that both Komodo and Stockfish prefer 3…Qa5)

4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 g6 (The top two moves are, in order, 5…Bg4 and c6. Houdini would play the seldom played 5…a6. Nakamura has entered fertile territory here as his move has not been played often, and it has not been played previously by a so-called “super” GM)

6. Be2 (This move has only been attempted a handful of times by much lesser players. The Dragon would move the prelate to c4, or play 6 h3)

6…Bg7 7. O-O (Komodo prefers 7 h3) 7…O-O (Komodo prefers 7…Nc6)

8. Bf4 Nc6 (Komodo would play either 8…c6 or Bf5 depending on the program and depth. The game between Georg Schwager and Rudolf Ohmstede from Ruhrgebiet VK3 9899, 1999 continued, c6 9. Qd2 Re8 10. Rfe1 Bf5 11. Bd3 Bxd3 12. Qxd3 Nbd7 13. Rad1 Nb6 14. Ne5 Nbd5 15. Nxd5 cxd5 16. b3 Rc8 17. c4 a6 18. h3 Qa5 19. Re2 Qb4 20. Rc2 e6 21. Qf3 Rf8 22. Rdc1 Qa5 23. Bg5 Ne4 24. Be7 Bxe5 25. Bxf8 Bxd4 26. Bh6 g5 27. cxd5 Rxc2 28. Rxc2 Qe1+ 29. Kh2 f5 30. dxe6 Nd6 31. Re2 Be5+ 32. g3 Qc3 33. Qd5 Bxg3+ 34. fxg3 Ne8 1-0)

9. Qd2 b6 10. Rad1 Bb7 11. Rfe1 (Until this move we have been following the game R. Miranda (2238) v S. Slipak (2458) played at the Caba Legislatura Cup 2018. Slipak played 11 Nb5 Nd5 12. c4 Nxf4 13. Qxf4 a6 14. d5 Ne5 15. Nbd4 Qd6 16. Qc1 Qc5 17. Ng5 Qa5 18. Qb1 c5 19. f4 Nxc4 20. Nf5 Nxb2 21. Rc1 Bf6 22. Ne4 Qb4 23. a3 Qxa3 24. Rf3 Qb4 25. Kh1 Bg7 26. Nxe7+ Kh8 27. Nd6 c4 28. Nef5 Bxd5 29. Nxg7 Bxf3 30. Bxf3 c3 31. Bxa8 Qxd6 32. Bf3 Qf6 33. Nh5 gxh5 34. Qe4 Rc8 35. Qb4 Rc5 36. g3 Nd3 0-1)

11…e6 12. Bh6 Ne7 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Ne5 Rc8 15. Qf4 a6 16. Rd3 b5 17. a3 Qd6 18. b4 Rcd8 19. Red1 Nfd5 20. Nxd5 Nxd5 21. Qh4 f6 22. c4

22…g5 (This weakening move gives the advantage to white. Naka should have played 22…bxc4)

23. Rg3 Ne7 24. Qh5 (Nakamura has been outplayed up to this point and with 24 c5 Piorun would retain a large advantage)

24…Be4 25. Re3 Bf5 26. c5 Qd5 27. Bf3 Qa2 28. Nc6 Nxc6 29. Bxc6 Qc4 30. Be4

30…Bxe4 (This is an instructive mistake. Stockfish shows two better moves, 30…Rxd4 and 30…Bg6, both leaving the game equal)

31. Rxe4 e5 32. h4 h6 33. Qf3 Qd5 34. h5

34…exd4? (This is as bad as it gets. The Fish shows that a prudent move such as 34…Kg8, or even 34…Rd7 would keep Naka in the game)

35. Rdxd4 Qf7 36. g4 Rxd4 37. Rxd4 Qe6 38. Qd3 f5 39. Rd7+ Rf7 40. Qd4+ Kh7 41. Rd8 Rg7 42. Rf8 (Breaking the coordination between the Queen and Rook. There were many better moves. Stockfish has the simple 42 Kg2 best. White is still winning, but has possibly given his opponent chances to hold))

42…Qc4 43. Qxc4 bxc4 44. Rxf5

44…c6 (Turn out the lights, the party’s over…There were many better moves, all of which did nothing, such as 44…Rd7 and Re7. Sometimes it is difficult to no nothing when wants to do something, hoping to save the game. Moving the pawn makes Naka’s position worse. Shuffling the rook keeps the position bad, but does not make it worse. It is difficult to sit there facing defeat without wanting to do something; anything, but as Sergei Karjakin showed in his World Championship match with Magnus Carlsen, it can be difficult for an opponent with a “won” game to actually “win” the game if one continues to limit the damage to his position)

45. Re5 Rd7 46. Re4 Rd1+ 47. Kg2 Rc1 48. Kf3 Kg7 49. Ke3 Kf6 50. Kd4 c3 51. Re8 c2 52. Kc3 a5 53. Rc8 axb4+ 54. axb4 Ke5 55. Rxc6 Rb1 56. Kxc2 Rxb4 57. f3 Kd4 58. Rxh6 Rc4+ 59. Kd2 Rxc5 60. Re6 1-0

This particular variation took a devastating hit in the 1962 Olympiad in Varna with the following game:

Bobby Fischer

vs Karl Robatsch

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 g6 5. Bf4 Bg7 6. Qd2 Nf6 7. O-O-O c6 8.
Bh6 O-O 9. h4 Qa5 10. h5 gxh5 11. Bd3 Nbd7 12. Nge2 Rd8 13. g4 Nf8 14. gxh5 Ne6
15. Rdg1 Kh8 16. Bxg7+ Nxg7 17. Qh6 Rg8 18. Rg5 Qd8 19. Rhg1 Nf5 20. Bxf5 1-0

After the following game the variation was put into moth balls for quite some time:

Bobby Fischer vs William Addison

Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Nf6 5. Bc4 Bf5 6. Qf3 Qc8 7. Bg5 Bxc2 8.
Rc1 Bg6 9. Nge2 Nbd7 10. O-O e6 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. d5 e5 13. Bb5 Be7 14. Ng3 a6
15. Bd3 Qd8 16. h4 h5 17. Bf5 Nb6 18. Nce4 Nxd5 19. Rfd1 c6 20. Nc3 Qb6 21.
Rxd5 cxd5 22. Nxd5 Qxb2 23. Rb1 Qxa2 24. Rxb7 1-0

Alexander Sellman vs George Henry Mackenzie

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Bf5 5. Qf3 Qc8 6. Bf4 e6 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8.
Qxd3 Nf6 9. Nf3 Bd6 10. Be5 Nbd7 11. O-O-O a6 12. Rhe1 Bb4 13. d5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5
Bd6 15. Re2 O-O 16. dxe6 fxe6 17. Rde1 Qd7 18. Rxe6 Rae8 19. Rxe8 Rxe8 20.
Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Qc4+ Kf8 22. Kd1 Qg6 23. g3 Qh5 24. Qe2 Bb4 25. Qd3 Bxc3 26.
Qxc3 1/2-1/2

Samuel Rosenthal vs George Henry Mackenzie

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Bf5 5. Nf3 e6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Bd6 8.
Nb5 Be7 9. Bf4 Na6 10. a3 c6 11. Nc3 Nc7 12. Re1 O-O 13. Nh4 Bg6 14. Nxg6 hxg6
15. Bd3 Ncd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Be5 Bf6 18. Qg4 Bxe5 19. dxe5 Re8 20. Rad1 Qc7
21. h4 Ne7 22. h5 gxh5 23. Qxh5 g6 24. Qh6 Nf5 25. Bxf5 exf5 26. e6 Rad8 27.
Rxd8 Qxd8 28. exf7+ Kxf7 29. Qh7+ Kf6 30. Qh4+ Kf7 31. Qh7+ Kf6 32. Qh4+ Kf7
33. Qc4+ Kf6 34. Qc3+ Kf7 35. Qb3+ Kf6 36. Rxe8 Qxe8 37. Qxb7 Qe1+ 38. Kh2 Qxf2
39. Qxc6+ Kf7 40. Qc4+ Kf6 41. Qc3+ Kf7 42. b4 g5 43. Qd3 g4 44. c4 Kf6 45.
Qc3+ Kg5 46. Qg7+ Kh5 47. Qe5 Kh4 48. Qe7+ Kh5 49. Qe5 Kh4 50. Qh8+ Kg5 51.
Qd8+ Kh5 52. Qe8+ Kh4 53. Qe7+ Kh5 54. Qe5 Kh4 55. Qf6+ Kh5 56. Qf7+ Kh4 57.
Qe7+ Kh5 58. c5 f4 59. c6 Qf1 60. Qe5+ Kg6 61. c7 f3 62. Qe4+ Kg5 63. Qxg4+
Kxg4 64. c8=Q+ Kg5 65. Qg8+ Kf4 66. Qf7+ Kg4 67. Qg7+ Kf5 68. gxf3 Qxf3 69.
Qxa7 Qe2+ 70. Kg1 Kg4 71. Qg7+ 1-0

The Captain was not the only player to attempt the “Queen back” variation at London:

James Mortimer vs Berthold Englisch

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 e6 5. Be3 Nf6 6. Bd3 Be7 7. Nce2 b6 8.
Nf3 Bb7 9. Ng3 Nbd7 10. c3 O-O 11. h4 c5 12. dxc5 Nxc5 13. Bxc5 Bxc5 14. Qc2
Qc7 15. Ng5 h6 16. Kf1 Rfd8 17. N5e4 Ng4 18. Re1 Nxf2 19. Nxc5 Nxd3 20. Nxd3
Qxg3 21. Rh3 Qg6 22. Nb4 Ba6+ 23. Kg1 Qxc2 24. Nxc2 Rd2 25. Rc1 Bb7 26. Rg3
Rad8 27. b4 Rd1+ 28. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 29. Kf2 Rd2+ 0-1

Other players were inspired by the Captain, including the man with one of, if not the best nickname in the history of Chess:

Szymon Winawer

vs Joseph Henry “Black Death” Blackburne

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 g6 5. Be3 Nh6 6. Qd2 Nf5 7. Bd3 Bg7 8.
Bxf5 Bxf5 9. h3 h5 10. Nge2 Na6 11. a3 c6 12. Ng3 Qd7 13. O-O-O h4 14. Nxf5
Qxf5 15. Qd3 Qa5 16. Qe4 e6 17. Bf4 O-O-O 18. Qe3 Nc7 19. Bxc7 Qxc7 20. f4 Rh5
21. Rhf1 Qb6 22. Ne2 c5 23. c3 cxd4 24. Nxd4 e5 25. Nc2 Rxd1+ 26. Kxd1 Qxe3 27.
Nxe3 Bh6 28. Nd5 exf4 29. c4 Re5 30. Re1 Rxe1+ 31. Kxe1 Kd7 32. Ke2 f5 33. Kf3
g5 34. Nb4 Bg7 35. Nd3 Kd6 36. b3 Bd4 37. Ke2 Be3 38. Kf3 b6 39. b4 a6 40. a4
Bd4 41. Ke2 Bc3 42. b5 a5 43. Kf2 Bd4+ 44. Ke2 Bg1 45. Kf3 Be3 46. g4 hxg3 47.
Kg2 Bd2 48. c5+ bxc5 49. b6 c4 50. Ne5 Kxe5 51. b7 Ke4 0-1

Yes, that is the man responsible for the Winawer variation of the French defense.


Are We Just “Pawns in the Chess Game?”

A protest against the election of Trump outside the US embassy, London, November 2016

Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

This is taken from the transcript of the Chris Hayes show on MSNBC. The headline:

Sen. Feinstein: This ‘isn’t Nazi Germany’

Every single Senate Democrat has now signed on to a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein to bar the Trump administration from splitting up families at the border.Jun.18.2018


HAYES: So then tell me this, what is the endgame here from your
perspective? It seems to me that the White House quite explicitly is
essentially using these children as hostages to try to get Democrats to
give in to a variety of demands they have on restricting legal immigration
as part of a legislative package. Is that something you`re willing to

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that`s exactly right. Of course, we`re willing
to entertain a legislative package if it makes sense but don`t hold
children hostage. I mean, you don`t have to take 2,500 children from their
parents to get support for something. I mean, that`s bizarre and it`s hard
for me to believe that even President Trump would want to do that. It`s
just bizarre.

HAYES: Well, he pretty clearly does want to do it, at least as advisors
do. I mean you have John Kelly talking about how it`s a deterrent. You
have Stephen Miller giving on-the-record quotes about how it`s a deterrent.
Jeff Sessions saying the Romans 13 commands us to obey the laws of man in a
godly fashion. I mean, there does seem to be a part of this administration
that knows what they`re doing.

FEINSTEIN: Well, this is the United States of – I mean, United States of
America, isn`t Nazi Germany and there`s a difference. And we don`t take
children from their parents until now. And yes, I think it`s such a sad
day. People are so upset. I just read a wonderful letter to the editor by
Laura Bush. I can`t believe that this is happening in the United States
and the President insists so we, of course, will do everything we can to
pass a bill which would prohibit this.

With all due respect to the Senator from California, if the POTUS walks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi, acts like a Nazi, and howls like a Nazi, we have become Nazi’s. The RepublicaNazi Trump administration is redolent with the acrid smell of Nazism.

Consider the article, It Can Happen Here, by Cass R. Sunstein in the June 28, 2018 issue of the New York Review of Books,.

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933–45
by Milton Mayer, with a new afterword by Richard J. Evans
University of Chicago Press, 378 pp., $20.00 (paper)

Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the Twentieth Century
by Konrad H. Jarausch
Princeton University Press, 446 pp., $35.00

‘National Socialist,’ circa 1935; photograph by August Sander from his People of the Twentieth Century. A new collection of his portraits, August Sander: Persecuted/Persecutors, will be published by Steidl this fall.

Liberal democracy has enjoyed much better days. Vladimir Putin has entrenched authoritarian rule and is firmly in charge of a resurgent Russia. In global influence, China may have surpassed the United States, and Chinese president Xi Jinping is now empowered to remain in office indefinitely. In light of recent turns toward authoritarianism in Turkey, Poland, Hungary, and the Philippines, there is widespread talk of a “democratic recession.” In the United States, President Donald Trump may not be sufficiently committed to constitutional principles of democratic government.

In such a time, we might be tempted to try to learn something from earlier turns toward authoritarianism, particularly the triumphant rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s. The problem is that Nazism was so horrifying and so barbaric that for many people in nations where authoritarianism is now achieving a foothold, it is hard to see parallels between Hitler’s regime and their own governments. Many accounts of the Nazi period depict a barely imaginable series of events, a nation gone mad. That makes it easy to take comfort in the thought that it can’t happen again.

But some depictions of Hitler’s rise are more intimate and personal. They focus less on well-known leaders, significant events, state propaganda, murders, and war, and more on the details of individual lives. They help explain how people can not only participate in dreadful things but also stand by quietly and live fairly ordinary days in the midst of them. They offer lessons for people who now live with genuine horrors, and also for those to whom horrors may never come but who live in nations where democratic practices and norms are under severe pressure.

Milton Mayer’s 1955 classic They Thought They Were Free, recently republished with an afterword by the Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans, was one of the first accounts of ordinary life under Nazism. Dotted with humor and written with an improbably light touch, it provides a jarring contrast with Sebastian Haffner’s devastating, unfinished 1939 memoir, Defying Hitler, which gives a moment-by-moment, you-are-there feeling to Hitler’s rise. (The manuscript was discovered by Haffner’s son after the author’s death and published in 2000 in Germany, where it became an immediate sensation.)* A much broader perspective comes from Konrad Jarausch’s Broken Lives, an effort to reconstruct the experience of Germans across the entire twentieth century. What distinguishes the three books is their sense of intimacy. They do not focus on historic figures making transformative decisions. They explore how ordinary people attempted to navigate their lives under terrible conditions.

Haffner’s real name was Raimund Pretzel. (He used a pseudonym so as not to endanger his family while in exile in England.) He was a journalist, not a historian or political theorist, but he interrupts his riveting narrative to tackle a broad question: “What is history, and where does it take place?” He objects that most works of history give “the impression that no more than a few dozen people are involved, who happen to be ‘at the helm of the ship of state’ and whose deeds and decisions form what is called history.” In his view, that’s wrong. What matters are “we anonymous others” who are not just “pawns in the chess game,” because the “most powerful dictators, ministers, and generals are powerless against the simultaneous mass decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large.” Haffner insists on the importance of investigating “some very peculiar, very revealing, mental processes and experiences,” involving “the private lives, emotions and thoughts of individual Germans.”

The conclusion of the review:

“If the president of the United States is constantly lying, complaining that the independent press is responsible for fake news, calling for the withdrawal of licenses from television networks, publicly demanding jail sentences for political opponents, undermining the authority of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, magnifying social divisions, delegitimizing critics as “crooked” or “failing,” and even refusing, in violation of the law, to protect young children against the risks associated with lead paint—well, it’s not fascism, but the United States has not seen anything like it before.

With our system of checks and balances, full-blown authoritarianism is unlikely to happen here, but it would be foolish to ignore the risks that Trump and his administration pose to established norms and institutions, which help preserve both order and liberty. Those risks will grow if opposition to violations of long-standing norms is limited to Democrats, and if Republicans laugh, applaud, agree with, or make excuses for Trump—if they howl with the wolf.

In their different ways, Mayer, Haffner, and Jarausch show how habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness make terrible things possible. They call attention to the importance of individual actions of conscience both small and large, by people who never make it into the history books. Nearly two centuries ago, James Madison warned: “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure.” Haffner offered something like a corollary, which is that the ultimate safeguard against aspiring authoritarians, and wolves of all kinds, lies in individual conscience: in “decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large.”

The full review can be found at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/06/28/hitlers-rise-it-can-happen-here/

How Not To Play The Dutch

I enjoy the first round of open tournaments more than any other round as the chance for upsets abound. I managed to draw with an IM,
Andrzej Filipowicz,

from Poland, in the first round of a tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980. He was there for the FIDE congress, and decided to play in a weekend event, where I was at the top of the bottom half of the tournament. While looking forward to being paired with much higher rated players, I will admit to having, as Bobby said, “Taken many lessons.” The thing about facing stronger players is that they are not usually going to lose a game in the opening. If you are a lower ranked player you simply must know the opening or else when playing titled players there will not be a middle-game, or endgame, as in, “He ended the game in the opening,” something heard at the House of Pain shortly after the round had started.

Irakli Beradze IM

2464 (GEO) – Ruslan Ponomariov GM 2697 (UKR)

European Individual Championship 2018 round 01

1. Nf3 d6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 f5 4. e3 (Only a few examples of this move in the databases) Bg7 5. Nc3 Nd7

(I was unable to find this move on the Chessbase Data Base, or at 365Chess, and there is a reason…The knight belongs on c6 in this position. 5… Nc6 6. Be2 e5 7. d5 Nce7 8. O-O Nf6 9. b3 O-O 10. Ba3 h6 11. Qc2 a6 12. h3 b5 13. Rfe1 Bd7. Development is complete and looks like a fight! [Analysis from the StockFish at ChessBomb.] This is a plausible line that I could have produced, but then you would want to run it by your clanking digital monster, and now you do not have to do any inputing…Maybe the 2700 GM decided to “Blaze his own path,” or “Invent the wheel.” Who knows? The fact is it is a horribly terrible move. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the opening. Not to mention it is a Theoretical Novelty.)

6. Be2 (6. e4 fxe4 7. Nxe4 Ndf6 8. Nc3 Nh6 and with his better pawn structure and better placed knights white is better)

e5 (Ngf6 should be played. It is unfathomable anyone in his right mind would play the e5 advance before playing Nf6. Moving the queen’s knight to f6 would have been better, but Ngf6 is best. Black has dug himself a hole from which he is unable to extricate himself.)

7. dxe5 (7. e4 is better. If then fxe4 8. Ng5 the misplaced knight must ‘advance to the rear’ with Nb8)

dxe5 (Unbelievable! Certainly the pawn MUST be taken with the KNIGHT!)

8. e4 Ngf6 9. exf5 gxf5 10. Nh4 f4 (Yet another weak move when the wandering knight could have been moved to c5. Go figure…)

11. Nf5 O-O 12. Nxg7 Kxg7 13. g3 Nc5 14. Qxd8 Rxd8 15. gxf4 e4 16. Be3 Nd3+ 17. Bxd3 Rxd3 18. Rg1+ Kf7 19. Rd1 a6 20. Rxd3 exd3 21. Kd2 Be6 22. b3 Rd8 23. f3 b6 24. Ne4 h6 25. f5 Bxf5 26. Nxf6 Kxf6 27. Bxh6 Re8 28. Be3 Kf7 29. h4 Rh8 30. Bg5 c6 31. Re1 Re8 32. Rxe8 Kxe8 33. Be3 b5 34. Kc3 Bg6 35. Kb4 bxc4 36. Kxc4 Kd7 37. Kc5 Kc7 38. Bf4+ Kb7 39. Bd2 Kc7 40. Ba5+ Kd7 41. Bd2 Kc7 42. f4 Bh7 43. h5 Bf5 44. h6 Bg6 45. a4 Bh7 46. Ba5+ Kd7 47. Kb6 d2 48. Bxd2 Bd3 49. f5 Bxf5 50. Kxa6 1-0

A well played game. The favorite played weakly in the opening and the underdog held on to the advantage like a pit bull!

When looking for a picture of Ponomariov

I came across this article at Chessbase:

Ponomariov: ‘Probably I became world champion too early’


After racking my aged brain I simply could not recall him becoming World Chess Champion. Could he be one of those players Garry Kasparov, a real World Champion, called a “tourist?”

Akopian and the Revenge of the Tourists

Dennis Monokroussos writes:

“During the knockout event that was the 1999 FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, there were upsets a-plenty. Nisipeanu knocked out Ivanchuk and Shirov; Fedorov defeated Timman (after Timman had beaten a very young Aronian); Movsesian beat Leko; Georgiev beat Svidler; Adams beat Kramnik; Akopian beat Adams; Khalifman beat Kamsky, Gelfand and Polgar – and on and on it went. Around the time of the semi-finals, when only Adams, Akopian, Nisipeanu and Khalifman were left, Garry Kasparov – then still in possession of the other world championship title – infamously and dismissively dubbed most of the participants in the FIDE event “tourists”.

No mention of Ruslan…Exactly how many “tourist” World Chess Champions have there been recently? Seriously…

For the record, Chessgames.com shows this opening named, Zukertort Opening: Pirc Invitation (A04).