Matthew Puckett is a National Master from the Great State of Alabama, where he is currently the highest rated player. Mr. Puckett is strong enough to have bested a Grandmaster, Sam Palatnik. The battle, featuring a Leningrad Dutch, was contested at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center. Not many, if any, GMs lost at the House of Pain.
Alexander Shabalov is enshrined in the US Chess Hall of Fame.
Matthew Puckett 2138 (USA) vs GM Alexander Shabalov 2496 (USA) U.S. Masters 2021 round 01 D30 Queen’s gambit declined
d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 a5 6. Qc2 O-O 7. Bg2 c5 8. dxc5? (Players are taught it is usually better to capture toward the center. Although a small mistake, it would have been much better to play 8. cxd5)
8…d4 9. Bxb4 axb4 10. Nbd2 Nc6 11. O-O e5 12. Rfd1? (12 Ng5 must be played as it is the only move not causing disadvantage) 12… Qe7 13. Nb3 h6 14. Ne1 Bg4 15. Qd2 Rfd8 16. Nd3? (The game, for all intents and purposes is over after this egregious mistake. When deciding upon a move a player will ask himself before making the move, “With which move will my opponent reply?” In this case the answer is obvious, which means that after the expected 16…e4, Matthew planned to play 17 Nxb4, because what kind of player would move the Knight to d3 if he were intending on retreating immediately? Yet that is the move Mr. Puckett should have played, but by then he had completely lost his objectivity and carried on with his ill-fated plan…) 16…e4 17. Nxb4 Nxb4 18. Qxb4 d3 19. f3 dxe2 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. fxg4 Rd1+ 22. Kf2 e1=Q+ 23. Qxe1 Nxg4+ 24. Kg1 Rxe1+ 25. Rxe1 f5 26. Bf1 Ne5 27. Be2 Qg5 28. Kf2 f4 0-1 https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-us-masters/01-Puckett_Matthew-Shabalov_Alexander
It all began on the early in the week when I opened an advertisement from New In Chess with notification of the publication of two books by the excellent writer GM Mihail Marin:
Then on Thursday, June 17, GM Kevin Spraggett posted Chess and the AfterLife on his excellent blog, Spraggett on Chess, (www.spraggettonchess.com) which includes a segment about Chess in the cemetery, in which one sees this picture:
I was reminded of a time when a lovely young woman, Cecil Jordan, drove an old, beat up, green DeSoto all the way from Sacremento, California, to Atlanta, Georgia, to become a stewardess for Delta Air Lines. The apartment we shared happened to be close to a cemetary. One evening we went for a walk and she brought along her camera…to take pictures of us in the cemetary. Can you believe some of our friends could not understand why?
Fortunately, Kevin’s article also includes the game between the late Cuban Grandmaster Roman Hernandez and a talented 17-year old Spanish expert, David Rivas Vila, which happened to be a Leningrad Dutch! I urge you to surf on over and play over the game, of course, after reading this post and playing over all of the games, all of which are open with the Leningrad Dutch!
Then in the opening round of the National Open this game was seen at the ChessBomb:
Rochelle Wu, (2144) vs GM Alexander Shabalov (2532)
This position vividly illustrates something I have told students over the years, which is to count the pieces on each side of the board, or total the points of each piece, if you prefer. Looking at this position Mr. Li has a lone Bishop on the King side of the board. The remainder of his army, the Queen, both Rooks, and the other Bishop, are on the Queenside of the board. All five pieces of Shabalov’s army are on the Kingside! This means the General of the black army MUST PLAY ON THE KING SIDE OF THE BOARD! Black must attack NOW. The move that best satisfies that objective is 24…g5.
c4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 (SF plays 2…e5) 3. Bg2 (SF 240521 @Depth 43 plays 3 Nf3; SF 13 @Depth 30 plays 3 d4) 3…g6 (SF plays 3…e5) 4. Nf3 (SF 170621 @Depth 37 plays the game move, but SF 13 at the same depth would play 4 d4) 4…Bg7 (SF 070321 @Depth49 and Komodo @Depth 36 both play this move, but SF 070420 plays 4…d6) 5. 0-0 (Interestingly, SF 13 @Depth 35 plays this move, but SF 070321 @Depth 52 plays 5 d4; while Komodo at depth 40 plays 5 Nc3) 5…O-O 6. d4 (SF plays 6 Nc3) 6…d6 (Although SF 13 @Depth 40 plays this move, SF 190521 @Depth 44 prefers 6…c6, as does Houdini) 7. Nc3 c6 8. d5 (Although far and away the most often played move SF 110521 going deep @Depth 55 would play 8 Qc2; Komodo @Depth40 plays 8 Rb1) 8…e5 9. dxe6 Bxe6 10. Qd3 (The old move. Three different SF engines show 10 b3) 10…Na6 (Again, the old move. Both SF and Houdini play 10…Re8) 11. Ng5 (Three different programs conclude 11 Bf4 is the best move) 11…Re8 (SF plays 11…Nc5) 12. Rd1 Nc5 13. Nxe6 Rxe6 14. Qc2 Qe7 (TN)
I vividly recall watching a game at the Atlanta Chess and Game Center (aka House of Pain) when a young player by the name of Matthew Puckett, from the Great State of Alabama, played the Leningrad Dutch against Grandmaster Sam Palatnik. It was not often we saw a GM go down at the House of Pain, but this was one of those times. Although on duty that Sunday afternoon I continued to ask someone to watch things while I made another trip up the stairs. I was worn out that night and my knees hurt from going up and down the stairs so many times, but it was worth all the pain.
Grivas, Efstratios (2465) vs Palatnik, Semon (2510) Event: Iraklion op Site: Iraklion Date:1992 Round: 6 ECO: A88 Dutch, Leningrad, main variation with c6
The next game features Georgia resident GM Alonso Zapata. There are now two Grandmasters living in the greater Atlanta area, the other being GM Ben Finegold, who lives in Roswell with his wife, Karen:
where the new Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Atlanta (https://atlchessclub.com/) is located. I can recall a time when Atlanta area players wished and longed for just one Grandmaster for the area, one in particular, an educated fellow called “Foghorn,” who was particularly strident about the need for a Grandmaster, as if that would cure all that ailed Chess in the metropolitan area. The foghorn stopped blowing one day when a much higher rated player said, “Quit your belly aching, Foghorn. Not even the World Champion could help your game!”
Adharsh Rajagopal (2051 USCF) vs Alonso Zapata (2518 USCF)
d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O c6 7. b3 (Stockfish plays 7 Nc3) 7…O-O (SF plays 7…e5) 8. Bb2 Qe8 (SF plays 8…a5; Komodo chooses 8…Na6) 9. Nc3 (Komodo plays the game move, but SF plays the most often seen move according to the CBDB, 9 Nbd2; Houdini likes 9 Re1, a move seen in only one game) 9…e5 (SF plays this, but the Dragon prefers 9…Na6)10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Ba3 Rf7 12. Ng5 (TN)
Braum, Hermann Josef vs Weiland, Thomas Event: Wiesbaden op 17th Site: Wiesbaden Date: 08/27/1998 Round: 7 ECO: A88 Dutch, Leningrad, main variation with c6
d4 f5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 (SF & Komodo play 3 h4) 3…Nf6 4. Nh3 (SF plays 4 c4; Komodo prefers 4 Nd2) 4…Bg7 5. Nf4 (SF plays 5 c4) 5…Nc6 (SF plays 5…c6) 6. h4 (SF plays 6 c4) 6…e5 (SF & Komodo both choose 6…d6) 7. dxe5 Nxe5 8. b3 (TN) (If given the chance SF 12 @Depth 29 would play 8 Be3, which would be a TN. SF 11 @Depth 42 would play 8 Nd2, as would Komodo. Which gives me a chance to show a game from the Magister of the Leningrad Dutch, the man who wrote, literally and figuratively, the book on the Leningrad Dutch:
Calin Dragomirescu (2259) vs Malaniuk, Vladimir P (2532)