Viva Las Vegas!

Jennifer Shahade posted a fine article on Chess Life online (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12874/793/), “Kazim’s Back: Gulamali on Taking Down Vegas.” By now the Millionaire Open is yesterday’s news, and it shows because many other articles appeared almost immediately after this article, pushing it to the back of the line, which is unfortunate. It is a shame the producers did not switch coverage from the Wesley So vs Ray Robson debacle to the match between IM Burnett and FM Gulamali. It would have been amazing to watch. I am grateful, though, that USCF has given it some attention.

Being a Dutch aficionado, I want to concentrate on the two Dutch games played in the match. With his back to the wall, having lost the first game, and having to win the next game to even the match, Kazim Gulamali answered IM Ron Burnett’s 1 d4 with f5! When you absolutely, positively must win, play the Dutch! The time limit for the following game was G/25+.

Millionaire Chess, Las Vegas 2014
White: IM Burnett, Ronald
Black: FM Gulamali, Kazim

1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nh3 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.c4 d6 7.d5 Na6 8.Nd2 Bd7 9.Rb1 c6 10.dxc6 Bxc6 11.Nf4 Bxg2 12.Kxg2 Qd7 13.b4 Nc7 14.Qb3 e5 15.Nd3 e4 16.Nf4 g5 17.Nh3 Ne6 18.Bb2 Rae8 19.f4 g4 20.Ng1 e3 21.Qxe3 Qc6+ 22.Kf2 Nc5 23.Qa3 Nce4+ 24.Nxe4 Nxe4+ 25.Ke1 Bxb2 26.Qxb2 Qxc4 27.Rc1 Qd5 28.Rd1 Qf7 29.e3 Qh5 30.Qb3+ Rf7 31.Qb2 Rfe7 32.Rd3 Rc7 33.Qb3+ Kf8 34.Ne2 Rec8 35.Qe6 Rc2 36.Nd4 Qf7 37.Qxf7+ Kxf7 38.Nxc2 Rxc2 39.Ra3 a6 40.Ra5 Ke6 41.b5 axb5 42.Rxb5 Nc3 43.Rh1 0-1

Ron’s tenth move is a new one. The more standard Nf4 was seen in this game:

Purnama,T (2337)-Reyes Lopez,D (2072)
Castelldefels 2005

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nh3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. d5 Na6 8. Nd2 Bd7 9. Rb1 c6 10. Nf4 Nc7 11. Nf3 Qe8 12. h4 Rb8 13. Nd4 c5 14. Nde6 Bxe6 15. dxe6 b5 16. Bd2 Ne4 17. Ba5 Na8 18. Bxe4 fxe4 19. Nd5 bxc4 20. Qc2 Nb6 21. Bxb6 axb6 22. Qxc4 Rf5 23. Qxe4 Re5 24. Qd3 g5 25. hxg5 Rxg5 26. Kg2 Qc6 27. e4 Qc8 28. f4 (Missing 28 Nxe7+) Rg6 29. f5 (29 Nxe7+ still looks strong) Rg5 30. Rf3 (Third time..) Ra8? (Maybe he was afraid White would finally see it?) 31. Nxb6 Qa6 32. Nxa8 Qxa8 1-0 (Proving there are several ways to skin a cat)

The next set was played at G/15+. Kazim won the first game so now Ron had his back to the wall in a must win situation. Once again Kazim played the Dutch, answering 1 Nf3 with f5. Not to be outdone, Ron played 2 e4!?, the Lisitsin Gambit! Back in the day there was scant information on this opening. It was big news when “Inside Chess,” the wonderful magazine produced by GM Yasser Seirawan and the gang from the Great Northwest, contained an article by, was it GM Michael Rohde, or was it GM Larry Christiansen? Memory fails…I only faced the Lisitsin Gambit a few times, the last a draw with Tim “The Dude” Bond. I had seen a way to win a piece in the middle game, but The Dude avoided the line. Some moves later the possibility appeared on the board, but I missed it! The game was drawn, and when I showed The Dude how I could have won a piece, he went into a funk, morose over the fact that he was obviously quite lost at one point. I will be the first to admit my memory is not what it used to be, but I have a vague recollection of losing to The Dude in a previous game featuring the Lisitsin Gambit…

Millionaire Chess, Las Vegas 2014
White: IM Burnett, Ronald
Black: FM Gulamali, Kazim

1.Nf3 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Ng5 Nf6 4.d3 e5 5.Nc3 e3 6.fxe3 d5 7.e4 c6 8.d4 Bd6 9.exd5 Qe7 10.Be3 cxd5 11.Bb5+ Bd7 12.O-O Bxb5 13.Nxb5 e4 14.Rxf6 Qxf6 15.Qh5+ g6 16.Qh3 h6 17.Nxd6+ Qxd6 18.Qc8+ Qd8 19.Qxd8+ Kxd8 20.Nf7+ Ke7 21.Nxh8 g5 22.Ng6+ Ke6 23.Ne5 Na6 24.c3 Nc7 25.Rf1 Nb5 26.Nf7 a5 27.Nxh6 a4 28.a3 Nd6 29.Bxg5 Nc4 30.Rf6+ Kd7 31.Nf5 Ra5 32.Bc1 Rb5 33.h4 Nxb2 34.Bxb2 Rxb2 35.h5 Rb1+ 36.Kh2 Rf1 37.g4 Rf4 38.h6 e3 39.h7 e2 40.h8=Q 1-0

5 Nc3 is a rather rare move, but 5…e3 is a TN. I found this old game, played before most players were born. Come to think about it, the game was played before many of the parents of today’s players were born…

Pavlovic, Dejan S (2340) vs Maksimovic, Branimir (2265)
Nis 1979
1. Nf3 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Ng5 Nf6 4. d3 e5 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. dxe4 h6 7. Nf3 Bc5 8. Bc4 d6 9. h3 Na5 10. Be2 Be6 11. a3 Nc6 12. Qd3 a6 13. Be3 O-O 14. g4 Bxe3 15. Qxe3 Nh7 16. O-O-O Qf6 17. Rh2 Ne7 18. Nd2 Qf4 19. Qxf4 Rxf4 20. f3 Nf8 21. Nf1 Rf7 22. Ne3 Nfg6 23. Nf5 Nf4 24. h4 Kh7 25. h5 b5 26. Rg1 Ng8 27. Nh4 Rb8 28. b4 c5 29. Bf1 Rc7 30. Ne2 Nxe2+ 31. Rxe2 cxb4 32. axb4 Ne7 33. Rd2 Rbc8 34. Rgg2 d5 35. Bd3 d4 36. g5 hxg5 37. Rxg5 Nc6 38. Kb2 Bc4 39. Ka3 a5 40. bxa5 Ra8 41. Rdg2 Rxa5+ 42. Kb2 Bxd3 43. Nf5 Raa7 44. h6 g6 45. Rxg6 Bc4 46. Rf6 Nb4 47. Rg7+ Rxg7 48. hxg7 Rxg7 49. Rh6+ Kg8 50. Nxg7 Kxg7 51. Rh2 Kf6 52. Rg2 Na2 53. Kb1 Nc3+ 54. Kc1 Ne2+ 55. Kd2 Nf4 56. Rg3 Ke6 57. Rg1 Be2 58. Rg3 Kd6 59. Kc1 Kc5 60. Kd2 b4 61. Rg5 Kd6 62. Rg3 Ke6 63. Kc1 Kf6 64. Kd2 Bc4 65. Rg1 b3 66. cxb3 Bxb3 67. Rg3 Bf7 68. Ke1 Ne6 69. Rg1 Ng5 70. Ke2 Bh5 71. Ra1 Bxf3+ 0-1

It came down to a “game” in which one player had more time with the other having draw odds in something called an “Apocalypse” game, or some such. I urge you to click on the link and go to the USCF website and read Jennifer’s article for much more detail.
I have it on good authority that as Kazim was heading to his plane, leaving “Lost Wages,” he could be heard singing this song in his best imitation Elvis Presley voice…

Millionaire Open Downer

Last night I attended what turned out to be a reading at the library by the famous historian James McPherson, who writes about the War Between The States. He is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University, and received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for “Battle Cry of Freedom”, his most famous book. The author is on a book tour touting his new book, “Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief.” During a phone call with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who decided to take a well-earned, and much needed, day off to visit his ladyfriend, the Princess, I mentioned the author read from the book only, until taking a few questions. I was in hopes the author would explain why he decided to write the book and some of the things he learned while writing.

LM Brian McCarthy, up from Butler for the night and next day, was waiting to return me to the Fortress. The first thing Brian did upon entering was plug in his ‘puter and turn on the $,$$$,$$$ Open. He let me know the next game would begin in about a half hour, then went back to the car to bring his other things. I am of the same mind as another chess blogger, Dana Mackenzie, of “Dana blogs chess,” who wrote in his post, “Millionaire Chess Preview,” of October 3, 2014, “Oh yes, I should mention the quirky format of the tournament. The first seven rounds are a normal Swiss system. But then the top four players will qualify for a two-round knockout tournament on Monday. Each round of the knockout will consist of a pair of 25-minute games; followed by a pair of 15-minute games if they are tied; followed by a pair of 5-minute games if the match is still tied; followed by a single Armageddon game.

Anyone who’s read my blog in the past knows what I think of this idea. I think it stinks. Rapid chess is only somewhat like chess, blitz chess is even less like chess, and Armageddon is a completely different game entirely. This kind of playoff is like breaking a tie for the Pulitzer Prize with a spelling bee. For that reason I don’t care who wins. I only care who finishes in the top four.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/?p=3184)

Because the Big Mac was here I decided to check out the coverage. I had earlier attempted to access the live coverage a couple of times, but every time there was music and a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes later there was a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. I gave up. This time it was live and the game was about to begin. And what a game it wasn’t…GM Ray Robson blundered a pawn in the opening, something most every chess player has done. What made this so bad was that $50,000 was on the line. As poor Ray sat there stewing in his juices, not moving minute after long, torturous, minute, the commentators kept up their inane patter. Suddenly there was a shot of IM Ron Burnett playing FM Kazim Gulamali! I burst out of my room to tell the McAroon, who immediately found the live coverage, but there was no longer any Burnett vs Gulamali coverage. At least we knew our friend was playing on “Millionaire Monday.” I mentioned Lawrence Trent, “The New Voice of Chess”, according to his website (http://www.lawrencetrent.com/), said something about $40,000 on the line, with Kazim needing to win to send it to even quicker games, and “with the look on Ron’s face, it looks like that’s just what’s going to happen.” Having known both players since they were youths, and having been on the road with IM Burnett, while knowing Kazim as he cut his teeth at the House of Pain, I told Brian my heart was with Ron, but my head said Kazim. Here it is the next afternoon and I still have no clue who won…And I am not the only one, because Tim asked me what I knew, and Brian searched, even going to ICC, but still no result could be found. Evidently, we are not the only ones, because Dana has written this on his blog today, “I tried to look up the winner of the Millionaire Open in Las Vegas this morning, and it wasn’t as easy as I expected to find out who won. When I went to chessbase.com, usually my first source, there was nothing about the playoffs. Next I went to the tournament page itself — but that page is a navigational disaster. There was no apparent way to find out who won the tournament!

Finally I had to resort to Google, which took me to Susan Polgar’s blog, which took me to the Chess24 website, which had an excellent article on the dramatic playoffs. The bottom line is that Wesley So, the Phillippine grandmaster who was the #1 seed in the tournament, beat Ray Robson. It was a lifetime achievement for both of them. So earns $100,000, the largest payday ever for a chess player in an open tournament. Robson wins $50,000, which is unbelievable, especially when you see how he earned it.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/)

We continued to watch, and listen, in hopes that after Robson’s blunder they would go back to showing Ron vs Kazim, or what looked like another game currently underway. But Noooooooooo…Minute after agonizing minute we had to suffer along with poor Ray. Needless to say, we felt his pain in the way people felt the pain of Joe Thiesman when his leg was broken on Monday Night Maimball, while O.J. Simpson added “color” to the telecast. A better example could be when the catcher, Jason Kendall, broke his ankle running to first base when his foot hit the bag awkardly, while he continued to run with his broken ankle flopping like a fish out of water. As poor Ray continued to flop they would still not move to one of the other games. Brian mentioned something about this being “real bad,” because “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” I said, “This is supposed to be the high point of the tournament but it has become a low ebb.”
“Yeah,” Brian said, “what a downer.”

Lawrence Taylor breaks Joe Theismann’s leg on MNF

Mechanic’s Institute Chess Club Newsletter

The latest Mechanic’s Institute Chess Club Newsletter, #634, just appeared online. I have been a regular reader for many years. The Mechanic’s Institute is one of my favorite places in the country. Upon entering the historical feeling is palpable. IM John Donaldson does a fine job keeping not only club members informed, but also those of us who have left their hearts in San Francisco. John writes about the recently completed US Junior Closed in this issue. What he writes is so incredibly impressive I want to share it with you:
Long-time MI member Daniel Naroditsky of Foster City won the 2013 US Junior Closed, held June 14-22 at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center. Daniel’s undefeated score of 6½ from 9 earned him spots in both the 2014 US Championship and the 2013 World Junior.
Tying for second with 6 points in the 10-player event was fellow Mechanics’ US Chess League teammate Samuel Sevian of Santa Clara, along with Luke Velotti-Harmon of Boise. Victor Shen of New Jersey was fourth with 5½ points, followed by another MI member, Yian Liou of Alamo, and World Under 14-Champion Kayden Troff on 4½. Yian played an important role in determining the top spots, as he beat Sevian and Velotti-Harmon.
Not only were three of the top five finishers in 2013 MI members, but three of the five winners dating back to 2009 were as well.
Recent US Junior Closed Winners
(MI members in bold)
2009 Ray Robson
2010 Sam Shankland
2011 Gregory Young
2012 Marc Arnold
2013 Daniel Naroditsky
There are several reasons for this, one of which is the Mechanic’s Institute Chess Room. Young players need a place to play. Another is regular tournaments in the Bay area. There is a strong and vibrant chess community because of the tradition made possible by the Institute, and the many people who love the Royal game. The milieu fosters and engenders strong players because the area has everything needed for chess players to develop. A community trying to develop a culture of chess could do no better than trying to emulate the Bay area, which also happens to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I hope you will check out the Mechanic’s Institute Chess Newsletter at: http://www.chessclub.org/index.php

FM William Stewart Interview

1) Who are you?
FM William Stewart

2) Why did you leave the country and how was the experience?
I left the US after graduating from UGA in 2009, wanting to learn about new cultures and especially improve my language abilities by becoming fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese. It was a fantastic experience and really helped me gain perspective on how easy life is in the United States.

3) How did you become involved with chess?
I became involved in chess at the age of 10 because a friend’s dad ran the chess club at my elementary school (Spalding Elementary in Sandy Springs).

4) Who was your first teacher? First rating?
My first teacher was Nick Paleveda, a strong expert and multiple-time Florida State Champion. (Nick earned hisNM certificate in 1992-A.W.) Big Nick is one of the coolest guys I have ever met and I have to thank him for introducing me to chess and being a great teacher. My first rating was around 1100-1200.

5) Do you have a favorite current player? Former player? Anyone you have tried to emulate?
This is a tough one because I really like a lot of top players today. My biggest picks would be Kramnik (incredible reinvention of his style lately), Carlsen (he is just too good!), and Wang Hao (I really like his attacking style and he seems like a very normal, relaxed person). Ah – and Vassily Ivanchuk because he is incredibly creative. I’ve tried to emulate Kasparov’s extreme attacking style and ridiculously stubborn desire to win every game.

6) When did you make NM? (Where were you after playing for six years? I ask because GM Soltis wrote in his column that players usually peak after six years.)
I became an NM about 9 years after I started playing (I was about 19).

7) The best game you have played. The most exciting. Game that made greatest impression on you. Best game you’ve seen.
Well this is a very easy question for me to answer – I played a nice game against GM Ray Robson at the 2012 National Open in Las Vegas. This was in the last round (the money round!), I was having a great tournament, and I went all out to win this game. Here is a link to my game with Ray Robson from last year: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1670674
The most exciting game I have ever played was at the 2009 World Open in Philadelphia. It was round 9, I was having a great tournament, and the winner of this game would at least tie for first and win over $10,000. I won this game, co-won the Under 2200 section with Scott Low, graduated college 6 months later and used this money to travel and support myself in Brazil and Argentina over the next year.
Game that makes the most impression on me – this is too tough to say. I am a huge fan of Karpov’s game because his style is so subtle and unique. At his best, you would see the leading GMs in the world playing timid chess, trying to beg him for a draw by trading pieces into a very slightly inferior ending. And Karpov would obtain such a tiny advantage, grind them out, and win the game.

8) Best result(s).
2012 National Open was great. I very narrowly missed an IM norm at a tournament in Argentina in early 2013 (Copa la Razon), although I did pick up about 35 FIDE points there which really helped push me over 2300.

9) Talk about your education; degree’s, etc.
I graduated with a BS in Psychology and BA in Spanish from the University of Georgia in 2009. GO DAWGS!

10) Favorite food; fruit; drink; season; color; music, movie, etc.
Food – Sushi and/or Hot Wings; Fruit – Mango or Maracuya; Season – Summer, I love to hit the pool; Color – Red; Music – I like all kinds (except new country music), I’ve played drumset since I was 10 years old; Movie – King of New York

11) What is your favorite novel; writer. What about best non-fiction book? Did any book have a profound effect on you?
I used to love Stephen King books when I was a kid, but I’ve basically only read chess and business books in the last 10 years. I really like Kasparov’s “My Great Predecessors” series.

12) First chess book; favorite; best.
Man I can’t remember that far back Mike! Probably was something like “Play the Accelerated Dragon” by Daniel King. My favorite books are by Mark Dvoretsky, he is an incredibly deep writer and provides extremely challenging material.

13) What is the purpose of life; chess?
Deep stuff Mike! For me, the purpose of life is to better everyone around me. If I can do that, I know it will come back to me tenfold and contribute to my success. In chess, the answer is the opposite! I want to crush everyone I play so badly that they quit playing! Grandmaster is my ultimate goal, although I work too much right now to make that a real possibility.

14) You have a new book being published. Tell us about it; how did you decide to write it, what prompted you to write it?
“Chess Psychology: The Will To Win!” was very recently published by Everyman Chess in June 2013. I wrote this book because I thought it would be a great way to share my years of experience as a chess trainer. It is targeted at beginner and intermediate players and intended to serve as a comprehensive guide.

15) There are myriad books on chess being published. Why should someone purchase it over other books?
I have over 10 years of experience as a chess trainer and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I combine two of my best skills with a passion for teaching. This book is very different from other chess books because I am very clear and to the point. It is also a comprehensive guide, focusing on a variety of topics – while almost always maintaining a focus from the psychological perspective. Here are links for my book:
http://www.everymanchess.com/chess/books/Chess_Psychology%3A_The_will_to_win%21

http://www.amazon.com/kindle-store/dp/B00CYIYM00

16) With what person from the past would like to converse? Living person?
This is a tough question. I guess I would say Ray Charles or James Brown for past – two of my favorite musicians. For present, it would be awesome to have a drink with Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter.

17) What would you change about chess?
I am extremely disappointed with FIDE and their lack of organization with respect to high level tournaments, the world championship cycle, and especially their blatant disregard for the widespread promotion of chess.

18) What needs to be done that is not being done to promote chess?
The 21st century is the fastest changing time ever! But chess and its’ promotion simply have not caught up. Computers are taking over the game and making chess players very bored with memorizing variations, etc.. It is very difficult to commercialize chess and I think a few very easy ideas to make it more fun for chess players and general audiences would be to:
1. Use faster time controls (non chess players cannot focus on 3 hour games, but a 5-10 minute game is short enough to maintain their attention).
2. Popularize variants (specifically Chess960 – this is a very interesting variant that would bring a lot of chess players back to the game and showing up in tournaments.)
3. The Intel Grand Prix Series in the 1990s was incredible! It combined a variety of appealing factors: the best players of the world, fast time controls, large prize money, and an exciting knockout format. I can’t understand why FIDE (or some other organizer/sponsor) won’t run another type of tournament series like this.

19) How can chess be improved in the Great State of Georgia?
More FIDE-rated tournaments will bring more titled players to Georgia. I think that is the biggest thing missing in Georgia chess – there aren’t many high-rated players here because it is impossible to compete for a FIDE title. As for scholastic chess, I think the Atlanta area has been very successfully developed in the past 15-20 years. Maybe it would help if some of these companies in the Atlanta area received support from the GCA to extend their programs to other parts of the state.

20) What do you see in your chess future?
Ah finally an easy question! I very recently confirmed the title of FIDE master as of May 2013 with a rating of 2305. My goals are to become an IM in 3 years and GM in 5 years. My biggest obstacles to these goals are very simple – I work at least 70 hours/week so I don’t have much time to study and play. And of course the United States very rarely has any FIDE-rated tournaments (and if they do, you have to travel far and pay a lot of money in entry fees and hotels) So basically I will leave the United States again to find FIDE-rated (thus IM norm and GM norm) tournaments that are realistically available. I think it is really a shame that the USCF does not do anything about this problem, because forcing your talented players to go abroad to play competitively does not really do much to promote chess here in the US…

As a chess organizer however, I am much more control! I currently operate a chess website in English (http://OnlineChessLessons.NET) and Spanish (http;//ClasesdeAjedrez.NET) with my business partner Freddy Lansky (I do the chess, he does the IT). We are working with dozens of Grandmasters now to produce high-quality chess DVDs at low prices, called the Empire Chess series (or in Spanish, Imperio Ajedrez). We also work to promote chess by releasing free promotional excerpts on our YouTube channels. We also publish free content on the blogs of these websites – check us out!
21) Thank you for an interesting interview and continued success in chess!