Grandmasterly Queen Sacrifice

During research of the Glek variation of the C46 Four Knights game, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3, I discovered a game played a few years ago between WIM Fiona Steil Antoni

and GM Mark Hebden,

which reached this position:

The Grandmaster has just played 24…Qxe4. Imagine you are sitting behind the white pieces facing a GM. How do you respond?

These are the moves which brought us to the position:

WIM Fiona Steil Antoni (2095) vs GM Mark Hebden (2498)

4NCL 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Bc5 8.O-O O-O 9.d3 Bb6 10.Re1 Qf6 11.Bd2 Re8 12.Qe2 h6 13.h3 Bd7 14.Nh2 Rad8 15.Ng4 Qg6 16.Kh2 h5 17.Be4 Qe6 18.Nh6+ gxh6 19.Qxh5 Kg7 20.g4 Rh8 21.f4 Ne7 22.fxe5 Bc6 23.Bf5 Qd5 24.Be4 Qxe4

With the Ginger GM Simon Williams

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 (After black plays what Stockfish considers the best move, 4…Bc5, the Fish has black better by about a third of a pawn. SF considers 4 Bb5 best with white holding on to the usual small advantage with which white begins the game) 4…d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Bc5 8.O-O (SF 310519 at depth 34 plays the game move but SF 9 at D48 plays the infrequently played 8 d3) 8…0-0 9.d3 Bb6 (SF & Komodo prefer 9…Bg4) 10.Re1 SF prefers 10 a4) 10…Qf6 (Although the most played move according to the CBDB SF would play 10…f6 while Komodo opts for 10…Re8) 11.Bd2 (SF plays 11 a4; the Dragon prefers 11 Be3) 11…Re8 (SF 11…Bg4; Dragon 11…h6)

12.Qe2 h6 13.h3 Bd7 (13…Bf5 SF) 14.Nh2 Rad8 (14…Qg6 may be better) 15.Ng4 Qg6 16.Kh2 (16 Ne3!?) 16…h5 (The GM could have taken control of the game by playing 16…e4!)
17.Be4 (17 Ne3 looks OK) 17…Qe6 18.Nh6+ (Objectively speaking 18 Ne3 may be technically correct but where is the fun in making that move?!) 18…gxh6 (Although white is losing the lady does have the Queen and both Bishops firing at the GMs kingside)
19.Qxh5 Kg7 20.g4 Rh8 21.f4 Ne7 22.fxe5 Bc6 (22…Ng6) 23.Bf5 Qd5 (Maybe 23…Nxf5 24 gxf5 then 24…Qd5)
24.Be4 Qxe4??!? (24…Qe6 looks reasonable. The Grandmaster is now quite lost because of a case of “temporary insanity.”) 25.dxe4? (Fiona must have been in a state of shock. 25 Rxe4 is the winning move.) 25…Rxd2+ 26.Kh1 Ng6 27.Qf5 Rf2 28.Qh5 Rd8 29.g5 Rdd2 0-1 (It is mate in five)

Launching the h-pawn at the Leningrad Dutch

One of the best things about writing a blog is the response received from readers, most of which, fortunately, is positive. One of the emails received earlier this month, from a young man relatively new to Chess, had an influence on my deciding to continue writing the AW blog.

“I discovered your blog when looking for opening material on the Dutch opening. After reading all posts concerning the Dutch I decided to buy the book on the Leningrad Dutch

by GM Malaniuk which you have written about often. It was one of the best chess moves I have made off of the chess board. What I like about the book the most is how much of it is devoted to earlier deviations from the main lines. Most of my games venture away from the “book” moves very early in the game. Because of this I have found that to be successful in chess one must first study what is not “book” first in order to understand what is “book.” Most of my games do not reach an endgame, and if they do one side has a large advantage. Because of your blog I began playing some of the lesser played variations and found the better players were taking more time in the opening when before they would simply make their replies instantly. I have attempted to play many of the “offbeat” openings you advocate on your blog with success. For example, I have won games with the Bishop’s opening, and many of those have been won because of being able to play the Bxf7+ check. In the past year or so I have gained hundreds of rating points and now am a class D player. I attribute much of my success to your blog. It opened my mind. After looking at a game and making notes I then go to the ChessBomb and compare my notes with the variations given. Seeing the variations of how a game should have developed has helped my understanding of chess.

Before the last round of the 11th dMP Batavia GM 2019 Amsterdam (NED) IM Arthur Pijpers was tied with FM Jasel Lopez, both with 5 points. Pijpers was paired with GM Simon Williams, who had four points, and the white pieces. FM Jasel Lopez had white against Rick Lahaye, the only untitled player, who had 4 points.

The latter game began 1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6. This made me think of something you had written about always playing the move d6 when white plays both d4 and c4, so I looked it up on your blog and found you wrote, “As I recall one of the first chapters is titled, “Berzerk attacks.” This occurs when the Leningrad player allows white to fire the h4 salvo in the early opening phase of the game. Many failed experiments taught me to avoid h4 if at all possible. One of the ways to do this would be to delay playing g6 until after first playing d6, and then Nf6. White can still fire the h4 salvo, but it turns into a premature ejaculation. As a general rule I usually play d6 after the white pawns come to d4 and c4.”

Sure enough, Lopez played 4. h4 and Lahaye did not play 4…d6 but 4…Bg7. In the game mentioned above between GM Jahongir Vakhidov and GM Neil McDonald you wrote, “Vakhidov fired the h4 salvo on his fourth move, to which McDonald replied Bg7. Vak, in for a penny, in for a pound, continued pushing it in with 5 h5. Neil takes the sucker offa the board with Nxh5. When Vak fires his King pawn to e4 I am willing to wager Neil was wishing he had already played d6…At this point Stockfish, according to the CBDB would play fxe4. McDonald plays 6…e6. There follows, 7 exf5 exf5 8 Rxh5 gxh5 9 Qxh5+.”

Lopez did not play 6. e4 but a ChessBomb red move, 6. Rxh5? If Lopez had played 6. e4 he would have had a large advantage, according to ChessBomb of about a pawn and a half. Instead after taking with the rook he was down about half a pawn. That is a huge swing in the opening. What I do not understand is FM Lopez is rated 2390 and his opponent, even though untitled, is rated 2414, so they are obviously strong players. If a player is going to play an attacking line launching his h pawn, such as in this game it seems he would have at least studied the opening. If Lopez had read your post he would have known to play 6. e4! After the game moves of 6. Rxh5 gxh5 Lopez did play 7. e4 but then it was not good and he lost the game and a chance at first place. IM Arthur Pijpers was winning his game when he offered GM Williams a draw to clinch first place.

Thank you for writing such an interesting blog. I have learned about how to study and play winning chess from your blog. I hope you recover and decide to write again.”

Thank you, sir, for such positive feedback! If only all feedback were so nice…

I decided to put the opening of the game into the ChessBaseDataBase.

Jasel Lopez 2390 (ARU) – Rick Lahaye 2414 (NED)

dMP Batavia Chess Tournament 2019 round 9

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4 Bg7 5. h5 Nxh5 6. Rxh5 gxh5 7. e4 O-O 8. Qxh5 fxe4 9. Be3 e5 10. d5 d6 11. Nge2 Nd7 12. Ng3 Nf6 13. Qh1 c6 14. Bg5 cxd5 15. Nxd5 Be6 16. O-O-O Bxd5 17. Rxd5 Qb6 18. Bxf6 Rxf6 19. Nxe4 Rxf2 20. Nxf2 Qxf2 21. Rd2 Qe3 22. Kc2 Rf8 23. g3 e4 24. Bh3 Rf2 25. Be6+ Kh8 26. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 27. Kd1 e3 28. Qe1 Qf3+ 29. Qe2 Qe4 30. Qg4 Qd3+ 0-1

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4 Bg7 (Stockfish at the ChessBase Data Base show 4…d6 as the best move) 5. h5 Nxh5 6. Rxh5 (This is shown as a “red move” at the ChessBomb. Both Stockfish and Houdini at the CBDB give 6 e4 as a much superior move) gxh5 7. e4 (Now this move is not best as SF and Komodo prefer 7 Bg5, a move not shown at 365Chess. Only one game has been played with 7 Bg5:

K. Tsatsalashvili (2226) vs N. Batsiashvili (2425) Chennai Open (Women) 2013

1. d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4 Bg7 5. h5 Nxh5 6.Rxh5 gxh5 7. Bg5 O-O 8. e3 c5 9. d5 d6 10. Nh3 Nd7 11. Nf4 Nf6 12. f3 a6 13.Bd3 Qe8 14. Qc2 h6 15. Bh4 e5 16. dxe6 Bxe6 17. O-O-O Bd7 18. Ncd5 Nxd5 19. Nxd5 Rf7 20. Re1 Be6 21. e4 f4 22. Qd2 Qf8 23. Nb6 Re8 24. e5 Bxe5 25. Bg6 Rf5 26. Nd5 Kg7 27. Bxe8 Qxe8 28. Ne7 Qf7 29. Nxf5+ Qxf5 30. Be7 Bd4 31. Bxd6 Be3 32. Rxe3 fxe3 33. Qxe3 Kg6 34. b3 b6 35. g3 Qf7 36. Bf8 Qxf8 37. Qxe6+ Kg7 38. Qe5+ Kg6 39. Qe6+ Kg7 40. f4 Qf6 41. Qe5 Kg6 1/2-1/2)

7…O-O 8. Qxh5 (This move, along with 8 e5 and Nh3 have been played, but Komodo and Houdini give 8 Bd3 as best)

Black, Rick Lahaye, has a huge advantage and went on the win the game which put him in a four way tie for second place, a half point behind winner IM Arthur Pijpers of the Netherlands. Tournament information can be found here:

Here are some previous posts on the Dutch:

Chess Life vs Chess Monthly

On the cover of Chess Life one reads, “THE WORLD’S MOST WIDELY READ CHESS MAGAZINE.” I wonder if that statement is true, or if it is similar to what is on the front of the New York Times, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” We know that to be a lie from the many instances the NY Times has not published a topical story when it could, and possibly should have. The latest example comes from the program, “The United States of Secrets” on the award winning PBS show, “Frontline.” (
The paper claiming to publish “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” sat on a story of criminal acts by the Bushwhackers until forced to do so by one of their own writers, who planned on putting the story in a book. By not publishing the story, which would have proven the POTUS, “Dubya,” was on the hustings lying to We The People, the Bush crime family (see: “Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America” by Russ Baker- was allowed to steal yet another election, to the detriment of We The People. Read, for example, “New York Times under fire for spiking NSA leaks story in 2004,” by Renee Lewis (
I was at a coffee shop with some chess magazines, one of which was the May issue of Chess Life. The other was the April issue of Chess Monthly. Unable to locate a copy of New in Chess I took to be with me caused me to think of something GM Jonathan Rowson had written in his column in the best chess magazine in the world, New in Chess, about taking his newly arrived issue of NiC to a coffee shop. I had to make do with the aforementioned magazines. I flipped through the first few pages before stopping at “Chess to Enjoy” by GM Andy Soltis. I played over the first game, which was enjoyable. Then I sat up the position from the next game from the diagram at the top of the next page. After finishing it I turned to the next page only to find, “pable of making the solid moves that wereusually his forte…” The two words are not separated in the article and I was unable to find what should have been the first part of the sentence, or paragraph, so I stopped reading the article and flipped to the next page, wondering why Chess Life is not proofread before being published. It was the “Back to Basics” column by GM Lev Alburt. The game was between a class “B” player and an Expert, which is a Candidate Master to the rest of the world. I was appalled to see it was played at a time limit of G/60, 5 second delay. I closed the magazine thinking of days gone by when a top GM, such as Paul Keres or Robert Byrne would annotate a game between the best players in the world, played at what is now called a “classical” time control.
Then I opened the Chess Monthly. The first article was the “Chess Editorial” by Executive Editor, IM Malcolm Pein. Included in the editorial was a fantastic game between A. Motylev and A. Tari from the European Championship in Yerevan, 2014. It was so good I decided to copy it to share with my readers.
Motylev, Alexander (2656) vs Tari, Aryan (2424)
Event: 15th ch-EUR Indiv 2014
Site: Yerevan ARM Date: 03/04/2014
Round: 2.57 Score: 1-0
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Byrne (English) attack
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. h3 Be7 9. Qf3 O-O 10. O-O-O b5 11. g4 b4 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 Bc8 14. Bd3 a5 15. Kb1 a4 16. Nd2 Ba6 17. Bf5 Nd7 18. h4 Qc7 19. Bg5 Nc5 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21. Bxe4 Rfb8 22. Bc1 Bc4 23. h5 Bf8 24. Qf5 g6 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qf3 b3 27. cxb3 Rxb3 28. axb3 axb3 29. Bd2 Qa7 30. Kc1 Qa1+ 31. Bb1 Bxd5 32. Qxd5 Rc8+ 33. Bc3 Rxc3+ 34. Kd2 Qxb2+ 35. Ke1 Rc2 36. Rh2 Qc3+ 37. Kf1 b2 38. Kg2 Be7 39. Bxc2 1-0
Next I read the “69 Seconds with…” which happened to be GM Neil McDonald. I love these Q&A’s with the players. The GM answers the question, “A tip please for the club player” with wonderful advice: “If you lose, be nice to your opponent. Players feel generous after they’ve won, and if you suggest a post-mortem they might reveal some secrets that help improve your game.”
One of the most amazing things I have witnessed in chess was the end of the last round game between Andrey Chumachenko and Jonathan Schroer. When the game ended the combatants immediately got up and walked to the skittles room, sat down and began analyzing the game. From the demeanor of the players I could not tell who had won, so I asked. Chumachenko had won, and the victory put him in a tie for first place, so it must have been a tough loss for IM Schroer, but no one would have ever known because of his gentlemanly behavior.
I played over the Bird’s Opening of Simon Williams vs D. Ledger, and a Caro-Kann between G. Wall vs J. Houska and learned the latter has a new edition of her “Play the Car0-Kann” in the works. I read the first edition, which left much to be desired, to be kind. It needed major improvements.
I had only made it to page 13 of the 58 page magazine and it was time to take my leave. Chess Monthly is a wonderful magazine and truly cheap at twice the price. The official organ of the USCF remains Chess on Life support.