Rawhide Chess

Taking time to check out what was happening in the world of Chess found me surfin’ to the ChessBomb, where the Salamanca Chess Festival was on top of the list. The round seven games had been completed. The last game looked interesting because Yifan Hou, with the black pieces, had defeated none other than the man who accelerated the demise of the Royal game when he falsely accused Vladimir Kramnik of cheating, Vladimir Topalov. What made it so interesting is that word on the street had it that Topalov had been cheating in consort with his manager, Silvio Danilov. Topalov once held the title of FIDE world champion, a title with huge import ‘back in the day’. These daze there seems to be a plethora of so-called, “world champions.” What with age groups, each broken down into male and female, and other forms of the formerly Royal game, it would take a calculator to count all of them.

Where was I… Oh yeah…

Topalov, Veselin

– Hou, Yifan

Salamanca Chess Festival 2019 round 07

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 0-1 (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2019-salamanca-chess-festival)

I have no idea…

This caused me to go to the beginning where I noticed, and began to replay, the game Hou vs Ponomariov. Do not ask me why…

Hou, Yifan – Ponomariov, Ruslan

Salamanca Chess Festival 2019 round 01

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 Bg4 7. Nc4 Nd7 8. h3 Be6 9. Na5 Rb8 10. O-O f6 11. Qe1 O-O 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Qxe3 c5 14. a3 c6 15. b4 Qc7 16. Nd2 b6 17. Nab3 Qd6 18. bxc5 Nxc5 19. Nxc5 bxc5 20. Rfb1 Rb6 21. a4 Rfb8 22. Rxb6 axb6 23. a5 Ra8 24. Nb3 Bxb3 25. cxb3 Rxa5 26. Rxa5 bxa5 27. Qe2 Kf8 28. Qg4 Qxd3 29. Qc8+ Kf7 30. Qxc6 Qd4 31. g4 h6 32. Qc7+ Kg6 33. Qxa5 Qxe4 34. Qxc5 Qb1+ 35. Kg2 Qxb3 36. Qc6 Qd3 37. h4 e4 38. Qe6 Qf3+ 39. Kg1 Qf4 40. Kg2 Qe5

Now any Chess player other than Allen Priest would know it is imperative in this position to keep your queen on the board. The woman played, I kid you not…

41. Qxe5?? A Bomb RED MOVE, if ever there was one…

After taking the queen with 41…fxe5 black is soooooooooooo won.

Hou played 42 Kf1 and I wondered why. Then I noticed she only had eighteen seconds time remaining while her opponent still had over five minutes on his clock. Ponomariov (Did he, too, win some kind of Chess World Championship?), with all the time in the world to win a completely won position produced the move 42…h5?? BIG RED!

And we now have a completely drawn game that any Chess player, other than Allen Priest, could hold with a nano second on the clock.

43. gxh5+ Kf5 44. Ke1 Kg4 45. Ke2 Kf4 46. h6 gxh6 47. h5 e3 48. f3 e4 49. fxe4 Kxe4 50. Ke1 Kf3 51. Kf1 Kg4 52. Ke2 Kf4 53. Ke1 Kf3 54. Kf1 e2+ 55. Ke1 Ke3 ½-½

I will admit it took me some time to learn the above game was a rapid game. Still…

Chess is rapidly (couldn’t help myself) changing, and not for the better. The above game is only a taste of the excrement being provided to the Chess fans of the world. Back in the day any form of speed Chess was considered an exhibition. We marveled when Bobby Fischer decimated the competition, “In April 1970, Bobby scored 19-3 (+17 -1 =4) to win the unofficial “Speed Chess Championship of the World,” which was held in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia.” (https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2012/03/16/bobbys-blitz-chess/)

That was then and this is now and it is obvious speed kills. Yet, because of the Chess programs Chess has no choice other than to hold the time limit of a game to the human bladder. It is either that or having every player wear a diaper. What, you think I’m kidding? How do you think a NASCAR driver disposes of waste material during a four or five hour race? Needing petrol is not the only reason a driver looks forward to a pit stop.

Back in the day we would play around the clock on Saturday and return for another possibly ten hours, AND WE LIKED IT!

These daze it seems the Chess people in charge are moving toward rawhide Chess. As in “Head ’em up Move ’em out, Rawhide.”

As I was wondering why anyone in their right mind would watch Rawhide Chess the answer was provided today by GM Kevin Spraggett on his excellent blog, Spraggett on Chess:

“We have all noticed this phenomenon from Day#1 of our very first visit to the tournament hall. A densely packed crowd gathers about a board, and when you investigate you find that one of the players is about to lose.
The expectation is palpable in the spectators’ facial expressions. It does not matter if the players are masters or beginners: the coming ‘execution’ is worth the wait!
It is difficult to explain this phenomenon, I suppose it has to do with human nature. And probably also explains why more people are willing to watch a blitz game than a slow game. A blitz game allows for faster executions!”

Reading this caused me to recall something former Georgia, and Georgia Senior, Chess Champion David Vest said to me around the turn of the century. “You only watch NASCAR to watch the wrecks.” The retort was, “You only watch the horses because they crash and burn on the track.” I was afraid of the Drifter sending me into the High Planes, but fortunately, he kept it together…

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).