In the fourth round of the US Senior Chess Championship being held at the St. Louis Chess Campus International Master Igor Khmelnitsky,
with the white pieces, faced Grandmaster Joel Benjamin.
The game began:
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Qa5 5.Qe2
Regular readers know of my predilection for this particular move of the Queen, but that stems from the famous Chigorin move in the French defense after 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2, and not because the move putting the Queen in front of the King should be played just because it is possible. After Joel played 4…Qa5 Igor had a small advantage which was larger than if his opponent had played the choice of Stockfish, 4…Qb6. Igor’s choice of 5 Qe2 jettisoned the advantage. Why would any titled player make such a move? The SF program at Lichess.com shows the best move is 5 Bd2. Here’s the deal, after 5…e5 6.dxe5 dxe5, white plays 7 Bd2. After the following moves, 7…Na6 8.a3 Be6 9.Nf3 O-O-O 10.Nd5 Qa4 11.Nxf6 gxf6 12.b3 this position is reached:
Yasser Seirawan, Christian Chirila, and Alejandro Ramirez, were big on the exchange sacrifice after the move 12…Rxd2, which they, and the ‘engine’ liked. The question was would Joel pull the trigger?
The plan had been to use this game in the previous post in lieu of the game with Shabalov so there would be two exchange sacrifices rather than the possible sacrifice of the knight on f7, which Joel declined. That was prior to my doing the due diligence that should have been done earlier. I did not go to 365Chess.com and check out the opening because, well, you know, who in his right mind would play such a lame move as 5 Qe2 in that position? What was found rocked the AW. Not only had the move of the Queen been previously played but it had been played against non other than GM Joel Benjamin!
Cemil Can Ali Marandi (2552) vs Joel Benjamin (2526) Event: St Louis Winter B 2018 Site: Saint Louis USA Date: 11/07/2018 Round: 3.3 ECO: A45 Queen’s pawn game 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Qa5 5.Qe2 e5 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Bd2 Bg4 8.f3 Be6 9.g4 Nbd7 10.h4 b5 11.Nd5 b4 12.Qa6 Qxa6 13.Nc7+ Kd8 14.Nxe6+ fxe6 15.Bxa6 Nc5 16.Bc4 a5 17.a3 Rb8 18.axb4 axb4 19.Nh3 Bd6 20.Ra7 Nfd7 21.Ke2 h6 22.g5 Ke7 23.gxh6 gxh6 24.Rg1 Kf6 25.Nf2 h5 26.Bg5+ Kf7 27.Be3 Rb7 28.Raa1 Be7 29.Bg5 Nb6 30.Bd3 b3 31.Bxe7 Rxe7 32.Rg5 Kf6 33.Rag1 Rhh7 34.f4 Reg7 35.Nh3 Nxd3 36.cxd3 Rxg5 37.hxg5+ Kg6 38.fxe5 Rf7 39.Ke3 1-0 https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4152899&m=10
It was then obvious why Igor had played the move of the Queen. Joel had lost the game played years ago, so Igor, after doing his due diligence, decided to play it again while putting the question to GM Benjamin. Had Joel done his homework? One would assume GM Benjamin would have spent much time replaying and annotating the lost game because even lower rated players will scrutinize their losses, so that in the event the same position occurs on the board in a future game they will be prepared and have an answer. Obviously, this did not happen in this case, and it cost Joel dearly. This position was reached in both games after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Qa5 5.Qe2 e5 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Bd2:
When seeing the position for the first time GM Benjamin played 7…Bg4. He played a different move against Igor:
After surfin’ on over to the analysis program at Lichess.com it was learned the best move in the position, according to the Stockfish program, is 7…Bc5, something Joel should have known. I have previously written about how the programs are revolutionizing the opening phase of the game and how older players who refuse to do their homework are being cut to pieces, metaphorically speaking, over the board (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/06/04/ben-finegold-loses-to-alexander-shabalov-before-drawing-out-the-string/). It is not my intention to judge any player too harshly because we are still in a pandemic. The play has been erratic, if not atrociously abominable, replete with what Yasser likes to call “howler” moves being made with regularity. Still, coming to the board without being prepared is unforgivable. Older players simply MUST forget most of what they have learned about the openings they play and look at them with “new eyes.” The days of getting by with what you know, Joe, are over. It is no longer possible for older players to “wing it.” Seniors can no longer say, “I’ve had this position a million times!” It no longer matters how well one thinks he knows the opening because, as Bob Dylan sang, “Things Have Changed.”
It is the much needed rest day at the St. Louis Chess Campus which means time for the AW to put together a post. Much time has been spent the past five days watching the excellent coverage of the three ongoing tournaments. Having three Grandmasters use the Stockfish “engine” at Lichess.com does seem somewhat superfluous. I can access the SF program at Lichess.com without watching and listening to the GMs pontificate, but then I would miss the wonderful anecdotes, stories and tales related by Yasser Seirawan,
which are worth the price of admission. Still, I cannot help but wonder why Yaz does not play in the event?
It is difficult to comment on the play of the players because of the abnormality of playing during a pandemic. Some players have scraped off some the rust by playing recently while others are covered with the crusty brown stuff. In addition, it is apparent some of the players are not ready for prime time. An example would be that of International Master Igor Khmelnitsky
in the third round when facing GM Max Dlugy
in the seldom played D00 Queen’s pawn, Mason variation, Steinitz counter-gambit. After 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 c5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 dxe4 5. dxc5 the IM played what the Stockfish program at Lichess.com call a “blunder” 5…Bg4?? The move appears to be a theoretical novelty, and not a good one. After playing the move Stockfish considers white to have a won game. It was no surprise when Igor went down…
IM Carissa Yip
is playing with the boys in the US Junior in lieu of playing in the US Girls Junior and it has not turned out well for the girl, who has drawn two games while losing three, and is in last place, one half point behind Pedro Espinosa,
to whom she lost yesterday. Pedro is the lowest rated competitor in the tournament, sporting a 2130 rating, almost three hundred points less than Carissa. One cannot help but wonder what she is doing playing with the back in town boys when there is a separate tournament for the girls.
The US Junior girls tournament is far weaker since at least one of the girls who took Carissa’s place in the event has shown she is not ready for prime time. The event would have been much more interesting had Carissa played with the girls. This begs the question of why there is a completely separate tournament for the girls? Chess would be much better if there were only tournaments in which everyone, if qualified, could play. Wait a minute, you say, that is the way it is currently. Chess tournaments are open to all, so why segregate female players? Segregation says women are inferior to men, which is the reason female tournaments are open only to women.
Consider the following position emanating from the third round game between Ellen Wang
and Jennifer Yu:
The question is whether Jennifer Yu should play 31…Rg3? Would YOU play the move? Would I play the move? In this kind of position it is virtually impossible for a human, even a Grandmaster, to calculate all the possibilities, which is where the computer program has a distinct advantage over we humans. This is the kind of position in which humans must use intuition to discover the best move. After 31 Rb2 Jennifer had eighteen minutes remaining to reach move 40. She used about half of her remaining time to make her move. For those of you who have not seen the game it can be found here, along with the answer to the question of how much Jennifer Yu trusted her Chess intuition (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-girls-junior-championship-2022/round-3/EnME23UK)
In the first round GM Joel Benjamin had the white pieces versus GM Alexander Shabalov, who had recently competed in the World Open and must have been tired and it has shown in his tepid play. Shabba is, after all, a Senior, and Seniors require more rest than juniors, or even middle-aged players. The following position was reached early in the game:
sat down to play in the last round he had already won the tournament as he had seven points after winning six games and drawing two. His opponent, IM David Brodsky,
was tied for third place with a 5-3 score. I have no idea if a win by IM Brodsky would have earned him a GM norm or not, but can tell you from over half a century following the Royal Game it is difficult for anyone who has nothing to play for to play for something. In all that time I have seen numerous players with nothing for which to play lose. David Brodsky is not yet a Grandmaster, and may never earn the title. He really had nothing to lose, and much to gain by defeating the winner of the tournament, even if a GM norm was not possible. Since he is young and still has much to learn, what better way to gain experience by at least attempting to win. This was the result:
One cannot call it a game, but it counts just as if it were a one hundred mover. Never would have thought I would live long enough to see the Chess Mecca that is the St. Louis Chess Campus defiled as it was during this event. I will hand it to the women because they were not passing out buddy-buddy draws like the men, and I use the word “men” loosely.
1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qe2 Nxe4 6.Qxe4 Be6 (The most often played move has been 6…Nd7. In 343 games it has held white to 49%. It is the choice of Fritz 16 @depth 36. Stockfish 13 @depth 60 plays 6…Qa5, which also shows 49% in 183 games. Then comes SF 14.1 which likes the second most often played move, 6…Qd5. Yet in 295 games it shows 58%! The move in the game, 6…Be6, has been attempted in 99 games, resulting in holding white to only 45%) 7.c4 (7 b3 has been most played and in 54 games has scored 47%. All three programs shown will play 7 b3. The game move has been seen in 15 games while scoring only 33%) 7…Nd7 (The 13 games in which this move has been played have held white to 27%, and it is the choice of SF 14 @depth 42. SF 100222 @depth 55 will play 7…g6. The CBDB contains only two games with the move…) 8.d4 Nf6 9.Qh4 (SF 11 @depth 45 plays 9 Qd3; SF 14 @depth 27 plays 9 Qf4; SF 050621 @depth 33 will play 9 Qe3) 9…Bf5 10.Be2 e6 11.O-O Be7 12. Qf4 (This is the choice of Stockfish 170921. For 12 Qg3 see below:
Click on “Females” and one discovers how the four female players have fared against their male counterparts. Segregating the “females” sets them apart, making it appear they are different and not part of the group. Is this good for the “females” or for Chess? Is it necessary to separate the women players because of their gender? Does this help or hurt their chances of being accepted as part of the group? Let me ask another question. What if there were enough players to have a similar tournament with four players with dark skin pigmentation and the word “Black” was used in lieu of “Female”? Would that be acceptable to people with darker skin pigmentation? Would that be acceptable to the people in charge of the St. Louis Chess Club? Would it be acceptable to the larger Chess community of the world? If the answer is “no” then why is it acceptable for the people at the St. Louis Chess Campus to segregate any one particular group?
After informing a National Master that I have been avidly following the two tournaments currently being held at the St. Louis Chess Campus he replied, “Why would you waste your time watching those chumpy-lumpies when you could be watching games from the Sharjah Masters? There are thirty of the best players in the world competing and they are fighting.” I said nothing while thinking about the proliferation of draws, most of them short, afflicting top level Chess these daze. Short draws have been anathema at the St. Louis Chess mecca. The options for a Chess fan these days are almost unlimited; this fan prefers watching games emanating from the Chess Capital of America no matter who is playing because short draws are not acceptable in St. Louis, or at least were not until seeing this insult to the St. Louis Chess Campus and Chess in general:
This game “wowed” the fans, or at least one of them, who left this at the “Chat” with the game:
Neverness Board 1: What a fighting game! 😀
Neverness Wow, just wow! 😀
Neither one of these “players”, and I use the word loosely, is a Grandmaster yet they felt compelled to make a “Grandmaster draw.” What are the odds either one of these losers will ever be invited to return to the St. Louis Chess Campus? Games like this appear with regularity at tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Center, and in the Bay area at San Jose. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/05/19/mission-360-bay-area-making-a-mockery-of-chess-tournament/). Never thought I would be writing about a three and a have move game from St. Louis…
On to the good stuff abounding from this tournament!
After four rounds FM Jennifer Yu
was +2 after two wins and two draws. In the fifth round she had the white pieces versus fellow FM Joshua Posthuma (2404).
After the latter made a weak ninth move and followed it up with what is called a “mistake” at LiChess, she was winning. The game was a real battle and could have ended in a draw, but Ms. Yu let go of the rope with her 39th move, a passive retreat when she could have continued checking, and the lights were turned out. The game must have taken something out of her because she played weakly in the opening in the following game and was lost before move ten…but fought back to an even game later before both players blundered with their thirtieth move and it was back to even, Steven, until Ms. Yu again let go of the rope with her thirty second move and it was all over but the shouting…In the next, seventh round, she had the black pieces against one of the three co-leaders, IM Aaron Grabinsky, who had won his first four games before drawing the next two games. Not many people who gamble would have wagered on Jennifer. This writer was hoping she would not fall apart completely and do the goose-egg shuffle on her way out of St. Louis. Many players would have lost their fighting spirit and consented to “making a draw,” and who could, or would, blame her if she did exactly that? Then, on move 24 her opponent made a vacillating move in retreating his Queen and Jennifer gained an advantage. Solid move followed solid move until IM Grabinsky again retreated his Queen on his 29th move. Unfortunately, Jennifer did not make the best move in reply, but still had an advantage, albeit small. Then her opponent blundered on his 31st move and Jennifer punished him for it, winning in 35 moves. What a fighter is Jennifer Yu! I urge you to replay the game, which can be found here> (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-saint-louis-norm-congress-im/round-7/Aq7DF3WV).
While watching the action in round six I put two games into the opening grinder and one of them was the game of the tournament. When young FM Alice Lee sat down to play IM Aaron Grabinsky in round six she had a total of 1 1/2 points, earned in the three previous rounds with draws after losing her first two games. Her opponent was leading the field with 4 1/2 points. Alice had the white pieces, but her opponent grabbed an positional advantage and began squeezing the life out of Ms. Lee, but she refused to let go of the rope, finding good move after good move for many moves. Several times IM Grabinsky achieved the maximum from his position, but refused to bring the hammer down and continued playing vacillating moves; he simply could not pull the trigger. After one hundred and eight moves (!) IM Grabinsky gave up the ghost and FM Alice Lee had scored a well earned and hard fought draw with the leader of the tournament!
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 (111865 games with this move can be found in the ChessBaseDataBase, and it is the choice of SF 15 @depth 68 and and SF 040522 @depth 74, but SF 14.1 @depth 64 preferred 3 Nc3. In 80101 games it has scored 53%. 3 Nf3 has scored 55%) 3…Bb4+ (SF 14.1 @depth 66 plays 3…d5) 4.Bd2 (This has been the most often played move with 11966 games in the CBDB, and it is the choice of Fritz 16-you know what that means-both SF 14.1 and 15 will play 4 Nbd2) 4…Bxd2+ (SF 15 plays 4…Be7, a move with only 165 games that have shown a score of 60%. Here’s the deal, Fritz 16 also plays the move! Deep Fritz 13 likes 4…a5, in third place with 3096 games in the CBDB. 5538 players have chosen 4…Qe7 with a score 57%; 2247 players have tried 4…c5 resulting in 53%. The move played in the game has scored 58% in 1212 games) 5.Qxd2 d6 (There are only 92 examples of this move contained in the CBDB with a resulting 62%. Fritz 16 @depth 31 will play 5…Nc6. There is only one game with the move. Komodo @depth 30 will play 5…b6. The 93 games in which this move has been played have resulted in 65% for the players of the white pieces. SF 14.1 @depth 55 castles. With 493 games it has been the most often played move, resulting in a 59% score) 6.Nc3 (With this move the CBDB shows us the progression of the computin’ of SF 14.1. At depth 38 it favors 6 e3. There is only one game with this move in the CBDB… then comes 6 g3 @depth 39. It has scored 50% in 15 games. Then @depth 47 the program moves to the move made in the game, which has resulted in a strong 63% for white) 6…Nbd7 (This move has been played in 22 games, scoring 61%. SF 190322 @depth 27 will play 6…Qe7. In 20 games it has scored 65%. Then there is SF 14.1 @depth 40 which will, given the opportunity, play 6…d5, a NEW MOVE!) 7.e4 e5 8.Be2 (There is only one game with this move in the CBDB, and it is the move of Deep Fritz 13 @depth 17 [17? The Fritz limbo; how low can you go?] which ought to give you pause…Komodo 14 @depth 31 and SF 130222 @depth 27 both 0-0-0) The CBDB contains only two games here, one with 8 d5 and the other with 8 Be2. Don’t know about you but I’m sticking with Stockfish!)
FM Gabriela Antova,
from Bulgaria, got off to a good start in the first round by defeating FM Alice Lee with black. Then she lost three in a row before drawing in the fifth round. In the sixth round she faced IM Pedro Rivera Rodriguez,
from Cuba, who, although an International Master, is rated below Master level at 2199. How is that possible? What has happened to the rating system? 2199 is below Master level, as 2000-2199 is, or was considered Expert level.
Round 6 FM Antova, Gabriela 2282 vs IM Rodriguez Rivera, Pedro 2199 A53 Old Indian defence
d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nf3 (Stockfish 14.1 @depth 56 will play 3 Nc3) 3…Nbd7 (Three different SF programs all going very deep will play 3…g6) 4. g3 (Two SF programs and one Komodo all play 4 Nc3) 4…e5 (Far and away the most often played move with 354 games, and advocated by Fritz 16 @depth 30, but SF 8 [8? Did SF 8 first appear last century?] @depth 27 will play the second most played move according to the ChessBaseDataBase, 4…c6, with 74 games showing. Stockfish 14.1 @depth 30 plays 3…g6, the third most popular move with only 51 moves contained in the CBDB) 5. Nc3 c6 (SF 7 @depth 29 will play this, the most often played move with 452 games in the database, but Fritz 16 @depth 35 AND Stockfish 14.1 @depth 44 both prefer 5…exd4. The CBDB contains on three games with pawn takes pawn) 6. Bg2 Be7 (With 432 games contained in the CBDB this has been the most frequently played move, and it is the choice of Houdini, but Fritz 16 @depth 28, and Stockfish 14.1 @depth 43 will play 6…e4, a move having been attempted in only 103 games) 7. O-O (The 495 games in which players have castled are more than double the 213 games in which 7 e4 has appeared. Both Houdini and Fritz castle, but SF 14.1 will play 7 Qc2, a move only seen in 51 games, although it has scored highest at an astounding 72%! Castling has scored 58% while 7 e4 has scored 63%) 7…0-0 (This move has been played in over one thousand games, 1033 to be exact, and has scored 58%, and it is the choice of Houdini, albeit at a low depth of only 24 fathoms. Yet Komodo and SF14.1 @depth 53 both will play 7…e4, a move having only been tried in 14 games) 8. Qc2 (The move of both Houdini and Fritz, but SF 14.1 will play the most often played move, 8 e4) 8…a6 (Komodo and Fritz play the most often played move, 8…Re8; SF 14.1 plays 8…Qc7) 9. Rd1 (SF 14.1 @depth 39 plays 9 h3. There is only one game containing the move found at the CBDB) 9…Qc7 10 dxe5 (This move cannot be located at either 365Chess or the CBDB, therefore FM Antova played a Theoretical Novelty)