The Player of Games

After vowing to leave the games played by the so-called “Super” Grandmasters alone my mind was changed after watching a game from the ongoing Sinquefield Cup Chess tournament being played at the St. Louis Chess Campus. Although it seems like yesterday when GM Caruana was equal to World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the only games that really matter, classical games, the fact is that was a pandemic ago. Fabiano has not been the same player, while Magnus has become the G.O.A.T. You can argue for your favorite Chess player of all time but the fact is that every generation is better than its predecessor because they stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded them. In addition, Magnus has tools of which former World Champions could only dream. Because of the computer programs my understanding is much better because of the games played by the best programs, even if I cannot demonstrate it over the board because of my advanced age.

One can only speculate, but for my money if there had not been a pandemic and a Alireza Firouzja, GM Caruana would have had another chance to play for the World Championship. After the young Firouzja went full tilt and completely melted down in the most recent Candidates tournament Fabiano began flinging pawns at his opponents like they were spears. He began playing wildly aggressive Chess like that seen decades ago. Unfortunately, it has continued… Examine this position and determine what move you would make after first listing your candidate moves, then return to the blog:

White to move

The position emanates from the game between Fabiano Caruana and Lenier Dominguez in the second round of the ongoing Sinquefield Cup Chess tournament being played at the St. Louis Chess Campus.

Fabiano Caruana let a first win slip from his grasp against Leinier Dominguez | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour https://chess24.com/en/read/news/sinquefield-cup-2-niemann-catches-carlsen

Caruana played 12 g4, the move I would have played at the Stein Club in the 1970s. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/shanglei-lu-seeks-bishops-opening-truth/) Truth be told, I would probably have played that move in a USCF tournament ‘back in the day’. 12 Rhe1 was a candidate move, as was 12 Kb1. If I could speak to IM of GM strength Boris Kogan about now I would say, “It has taken a lifetime, Boris, but I have finally found understanding, or at least some understanding.” He would laugh uproariously. The Stockfish program at LiChess.com gives 12 a3 as best. It was not one of my choices. The diagram contains an arrow showing the pawn to be moved, and 12 a3 is given in the note up top, but down below the Stockfish program shows this: “Inaccuracy. Rhe1 was best”, and it gives a line six moves deep to prove it. What I want to know is, which is it? By the way, according to the analysis program at LiChess the best move is 12 Bb5. I cannot make this up. In the only game found at 365Chess.com the move 12 Kb1 was played, and it was on my short list of candidate moves.

Stefan Mazur (2417) vs Juraj Druska (2501)
Event: ch-SVK 2021
Site: Podhajska SVK Date: 09/28/2021
Round: 8.5
ECO: C42 Petrov, Nimzovich attack
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 O-O 8.Qd2 Re8 9.O-O-O Nd7 10.Bd3 Nf6 11.h3 c5 12.Kb1 Bd7 13.Rhe1 Bc6 14.Bg5 h6 15.Bf4 Bf8 16.Rxe8 Qxe8 17.Nh4 Ne4 18.Bxe4 Qxe4 19.Re1 Qh7 20.Bg3 g5 21.Nf3 Qf5 22.h4 f6 23.Nh2 Re8 24.Rxe8 Bxe8 25.Nf1 Bc6 26.Ne3 Qe6 27.c4 Kf7 28.f3 f5 29.hxg5 hxg5 30.Nd5 f4 31.Bf2 b5 32.b3 bxc4 33.bxc4 Bg7 34.Qd3 Qe5 35.Kc1 Bd7 36.Kd2 Be6 37.Nc7 Bf5 38.Qd5+ Ke7 39.Nb5 Be6 40.Qb7+ Kf6 41.Qc6 Bxc4 42.Qxd6+ Qxd6+ 43.Nxd6 Bxa2 44.Bxc5 a6 45.Kd3 Ke6 46.Ne4 Kd5 47.Be7 Bc4+ 48.Kd2 g4 49.Bg5 Bf1 50.Bxf4 Bxg2 51.c4+ Kxc4 52.Nd6+ Kb3 53.fxg4 a5 54.Nf5 Bc3+ 55.Kc1 Bb2+ 56.Kd2 Bc3+ 57.Kc1 a4 58.Bd6 Be4 59.Ne3 Bf3 60.g5 Be4 61.Nd1 Be1 62.Ne3 Bh4 63.Be7 a3 64.Nc4 a2 65.Nd2+ Ka4 66.Kb2 Bd5 67.Ne4 Be1 68.Bf6 Bxe4 69.Kxa2 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4308407&m=23

Consider this position:

Position after 26…Rf8

The position is taken from the same game, and GM Lenier Dominguez has just played his Rook to f8 attacking the white Queen. Nevertheless, it is a losing move after Caruana plays the Queen to d7. Unfortunately, Fabiano lost the thread and played 27 Qe4, which is, like the previous move made by GM Dominguez, given not one, but two question marks. It seems we Chess fans have seen an inordinate number of “double blunders” since Magnus Carlsen, in his World Championship match with Vishy Anand, blundered horribly, but was let off of the hook when Anand immediately returned the favor.

https://www.firstpost.com/sports/double-blunder-game-carlsen-crushes-anand-leads-one-point-1804783.html

Surely Caruana must have seen Qd7, yet played the much inferior move. Why? Consider this recent quote by Fabiano Caruana: “I realised something, which is that, even though I played pretty awfully recently, I do destroy one opening, which is the Najdorf. All my wins are in this one opening.”

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/sinquefield-cup-4-fabi-wins-so-leads-as-life-goes-on-without-magnus)

When a player, not just a Chess player, but any ‘player’, is “in form” good moves seem to flow, but when a player is not in form he begins to second guess himself. My father was fond of saying, “Think long, think wrong.” There is much to be said for it because the longer one thinks the less intuition is involved. The number of times I saw the right move intuitively but allowed the ‘logical’ part of my thought process to make a weaker move could not be counted without a calculator. Talking yourself out of listening to yourself is a bad place to be for any player of games.

Three Way Tie for First Place at the Chessable British Chess Championships: Seniors 50+

https://www.britishchesschampionships.co.uk/chessable-british-chess-championships-week-one/

GM Paul Motwani (above left) shared the lead throughout the tournament and finished with shared top place with FM Chris Duncan (middle) and Phil Crocker (right), all on 5.5 points.

Heading into the last round of the Chessable British Chess Championships: Seniors 50+ five players were tied for first place with each having scored 4 1/2 points in the first six rounds. Board one featured FM Chris Duncan (2178) vs Paul Townsend (2177).

Black to move after 21 Nc3xb5

FM Chris Duncan vs M Paul Townsend
Chessable British Chess Championships: Seniors 50+
Final Round Seven
D37 Queen’s Gambit Declined, classical variation (5.Bf4)

  1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 c6 8. Bd3 b6 9. b4 a5 10. a3 Ba6 11. O-O Qc8 12. h3 Qb7 13. Rb1 axb4 14. axb4 Bxd3 15. Qxd3 Ra3 16. Ra1 Rfa8 17. Rxa3 Rxa3 18. Qc2 b5 19. Nd2 Bd8 20. Re1 Bc7 21. Nxb5 Qxb5 22. Bxc7 Qxb4 23. Rb1 Qc3 24. Qxc3 Rxc3 25. Nb3 Ne8 26. Bg3 1-0

After noticing the Stockfish program at Lichess.com has proclaimed 1 Nf3 the best opening move I have taken notice of the percentage of games in which the knight move has been chosen recently., and was therefore not surprised by the move in this game. 16 Ra1 is a TN. Stockfish shows 16 Qc2 as best and other players have agreed as 365Chess.com shows it having been previously played in eleven games. Ju Wenjun played 16 Nd2 against former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov at the Cap d’Agde in France in 2012, but lost the game (https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3833042&m=32). That is fifteen moves of theory produced by Seniors in what 365Chess.com calls the “D37 Queen’s Gambit Declined, classical variation (5.Bf4).” The rest of the game lasted less than a dozen moves…

Position after 27…Qxe8

CM Paul AG Dargan vs Philip J Crocker
Chessable British Chess Championships: Seniors 50+
Final Round Seven
B07 Pirc, Byrne variation

  1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bg5 c6 5. f4 Bg7 6. Qd2 b5 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Nf3 Bg4 9. O-O Qb6 10. Ne2 c5 11. e5 d5 12. Ng3 c4 13. Be2 Ne4 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe7 exf3 16. Bxf3 Bxf3 17. Bxf8 Bxf8 18. Rxf3 Nc6 19. c3 Rd8 20. Qf2 Ne7 21. g4 f5 22. exf6 Qxf6 23. Re1 Nd5 24. f5 Bd6 25. fxg6 Qxg6 26. h3 Re8 27. Rxe8+ Qxe8 28. Qh4 Bf4 29. g5 Qe4 30. Qg4 Qe1+ 31. Rf1 Qxf1+ 0-1

The following game varied at move twenty, but Stockfish prefers 20 Qf2. Paul Dargan was doing fine after Philip Crocker played the weak 24…Bd6, and then let go of the rope with one hand when playing 25…Qg6. Mr. Dargan then had a ‘won’ game. Unfortunately his 26th move moved the game back into anyone’s game until Dargan again let go of the rope with one hand with 28 Qh4, which is given not one, but two question marks by the Stockfish program. After that move, Mr. Dargan was obviously rattled

before letting go of the rope completely by playing 29 g5…and began…

Nguyen Thi Thanh An (2249) vs Tan, Zhongyi (2475)
Event: Olympiad Women 2016
Site: Baku AZE Date: 09/04/2016
Round: 3.1
ECO: B07 Pirc, Byrne variation
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg5 Bg7 5.f4 c6 6.Qd2 b5 7.Bd3 O-O 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.O-O Qb6 10.Ne2 c5 11.e5 d5 12.Ng3 c4 13.Be2 Ne4 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.Bxe7 exf3 16.Bxf3 Bxf3 17.Bxf8 Bxf8 18.Rxf3 Nc6 19.c3 Rd8 20.Kh1 Ne7 21.Re1 Qe6 22.Qf2 Rd7 23.Rg1 h5 24.h3 f5 25.exf6 Qxf6 26.Re1 Nf5 27.Re5 h4 28.Rxb5 Bd6 29.Qe2 Qf7 30.Qf2 Re7 31.Kg1 Ng3 32.Re5 Bxe5 33.fxe5 Nf5 34.Qd2 Kh7 35.Qg5 Rb7 36.Rf2 Qd5 37.Qg4 Rf7 38.Rf3 a5 39.Rf2 a4 40.a3 Kh6 41.Rf3 Rb7 42.Rf2 Rb6 43.Qf4+ Kh7 44.Qg4 Qd8 45.Qf4 Qd5 46.Qg4 Qb7 47.Qe2 Qc6 48.Qg4 Qd5 49.Kh2 Rb7 50.Kg1 Rf7 51.Rf3 Kg7 52.Kh2 Qb7 53.Rf2 Qe7 54.Kg1 Kh6 55.Qe2 Qe6 56.Qe4 Rd7 57.Qa8 Rf7 58.Qxa4 Ne3 59.Qa8 Rxf2 60.Kxf2 Nd1+ 61.Ke2 Nxb2 62.Qh8+ Kg5 63.Qd8+ Kh5 64.Qh8+ Kg5 65.Qd8+ Kh5 66.Qh8+ Kg5 67.Qd8+ Kh5 68.Qh8+ ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4008322&m=24

Board three featured the top rated player, GM Paul Motwani, who began the tournament rated two hundred points higher than his closest opponent, CM Mark Josse, rated 2220. On paper is should have been a cakewalk for Motwani, but this is Senior Chess, at it’s best, and numbers have less relation to strength in Senior Chess. A perfect example would be the player GM Motwani faced in the last round, class A player Nigel J Moyse, rated all of 1976, a number with special meaning to this writer, as that is the year I won the Atlanta Chess Championship for the second time, while scoring a perfect 5-0. Just sayin’…

Position after 8 Nxd4

GM Paul Motwani (2420) vs Nigel J Moyse (1976)
Chessable British Chess Championships: Seniors 50+
Final round seven
B09 Pirc, Austrian attack

  1. d4 d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 c5 6. e5 Nfd7 7. exd6 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Qb6 9. Ndb5 Bxc3+ 10. Nxc3 O-O 11. b3 Nf6 12. Bb2 Rd8 13. Na4 Qb4+ 14. Qd2 Qxd2+ 15. Kxd2 Ne4+ 16. Ke3 Nxd6 17. Be2 Bd7 18. Nc3 Nc6 19. a3 Nf5+ 20. Kf2 Ncd4 21. Bd3 Bc6 22. Rhd1 h5 23. Ne2 Nxe2 24. Bxe2 Rac8 25. Rxd8+ Rxd8 26. Rd1 Rxd1 27. Bxd1 Kf8 28. g3 Ke8 29. h3 Nd6 30. g4 hxg4 31. hxg4 Kd7 32. Ke3 f5 33. g5 Nf7 34. c4 Kd6 35. b4 e5 36. Bb3 exf4+ 37. Kxf4 Ke6 38. Bd4 a6 39. a4 Be4 40. b5 axb5 41. axb5 Bg2 42. Bf6 Be4 43. b6 Kd7 44. c5 Nd8 45. Bxd8 Kxd8 46. Bf7 Bb1 47. Ke4 1-0

The game was even, Steven, before Nigel Moyse blundered horribly by playing 8…Qb6, when he should have simply castled. After moving the Queen the Stockfish program shows Moyse down by -4.0. Nevertheless, the game lasted forty more moves due to weak play from GM Motwani. That’s Senior Chess!

After 5 Nf3 the opening is a B09 Pirc, Austrian attack. 5…c5 turns it into a B09 Pirc, Austrian attack, dragon formation

  1. d4 d6 2. e4 (2 Nf3) 2…Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 (3…e5) 4. f4 (4 Be3) 4…Bg7 5. Nf3 c5 6. e5 (6 dxc5) 6…Nfd7 7. exd6 (7 dxc5) 7…cxd4 (7…0-0) 8. Nxd4 (8 Nb4) 8…Qb6?? (-4.0)

Games From The US Open Part One

Throughout his career IM Ronald Burnett, from Tennessee

IM Ronald Burnett

has been a creative and inventive player, especially with the black pieces, preferring to go his own way much of the time. His page at 365Chess.com (https://www.365chess.com/players/Ronald_Burnett) shows Ron has defended with the B06 Robatsch (modern) defense in 37 games. Second with 23 games is the B07 Pirc defence, with 23 games. In the final round of the 2022 US Open IM Burnett had black against Daniel Lin, from California, rated only 1939 prior to the event. After managing to snatch a draw from the hands of defeat, Mr. Lin was one of only two players rated under 2000 to finish with 6 1/2 points. Lang Leo Xiong, from Virginia and rated 1978 was the only other player in the top thirty one players with a rating beginning with a “1”. Because of IM Burnett’s penchant for creating openings over the board one would assume there would not be much theory involved with most of Ron’s openings, at least with the black pieces. Because of the recent explosion of Chess games in the databases these daze one would be wrong to “ass u me” anything.

Daniel Lin vs IM Ronald W Burnett
2022 US Open last round
B00 Owen defence

  1. d4 b6 2. e4 Bb7 3. Bd3 e6 4. Nf3 d6 5. O-O Ne7 6. Re1 Nd7 7. c3 g6 8. a4 a6 9. Nbd2 Bg7 10. Nc4 O-O 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bh4 e5 13. Bg3 Nc6 14. d5 Ne7 15. Nfd2 f5 16. f3 Nf6 17. Bf2 Bc8 18. Ne3 f4 19. Nef1 g5 20. h3 h5 21. Nh2 Rf7 22. b4 Bf8 23. c4 Ng6 24. c5 bxc5 25. bxc5 g4 26. hxg4 hxg4 27. fxg4 dxc5 28. Rc1 Rg7 29. Bxc5 Bxc5+ 30. Rxc5 Nh4 31. Be2 Rb8 32. Bf3 Nxg4 33. Nxg4 Qg5 34. d6 Nxf3+ 35. gxf3 Bxg4 36. fxg4 Qh4 37. dxc7 Rxg4+ 38. Qxg4+ Qxg4+ 39. Kf1 Rc8 40. Re2 Kf8 41. Nc4 Qh3+ 42. Ke1 Qh4+ 43. Kd2 Rxc7 44. Nxe5 Qd8+ 45. Rd5 Qe8 46. Rf2 Qxa4 47. Rxf4+ Ke8 48. Ke3 Qb4 49. Nd3 Qb6+ 50. Kf3 a5 51. e5 Qc6 52. Rd4 Rd7 53. Nf4 Rxd5 54. Nxd5 a4 55. Kf4 a3 56. Nb4 Qc3 57. Re4 a2 58. Nxa2 Qd2+ 59. Kf3 Qxa2 60. e6 Ke7 61. Re2 Qc4 62. Kf2 Qd3 63. Re3 Qf5+ 64. Ke2 Qg4+ 65. Kd2 Qg2+ 66. Re2 Qd5+ 67. Ke1 Qd4 68. Kf1 Qh4 69. Re3 Qh2 70. Re2 Qg3 71. Re1 Qf3+ 72. Kg1 Qf5 73. Re2 Qh3 74. Kf2 Qg4 75. Ke1 Qg1+ 76. Kd2 Qh1 77. Re3 Qd5+ 78. Ke2 Qd4 79. Kf3 Qc4 80. Re2 Qd3+ 81. Kf2 Qh3 82. Ke1 Qg3+ 83. Kd2 Qf3 84. Re3 Qf4 85. Ke2 Qh2+ 86. Kf3 Qh1+ 87. Ke2 Qg2+ 88. Kd3 Qb2 89. Re2 Qc1 90. Re4 Qd1+ 91. Ke3 Qc2 92. Kf3 Qc6 93. Ke3 Qc8 94. Kf3 Qc6 95. Ke3 Qb6+ 96. Kf3 Qb7 97. Ke3 Qb1 98. Kf3 Qf1+ 99. Ke3 Qg2 100. Kd3 Qg6 101. Ke3 Qg3+ 102. Kd4 Qf3 103. Re3 Qd1+ 104. Kc3 Qd5 105. Re2 Qd6 106. Kc2 Qd4 107. Kc1 Qd3 108. Re1 Qc3+ 109. Kd1 Qd4+ 110. Kc2 Qc4+
    https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-15/OlzI1ODw
Position after 7…g6

Wolfgang Deinert (1906) vs Dieter Brandhorst (2092)
Event: Dortmund Sparkassen op-A
Site: Dortmund Date: 08/05/2006
Round: 8
ECO: B00 Owen defence
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 e6 4.Nf3 d6 5.O-O Nd7 6.Re1 Ne7 7.c3 g6 8.Bg5 Bg7 9.Qe2 a6 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Bh4 g5 12.Bg3 Ng6 13.Nc4 Qe7 14.e5 d5 15.Ne3 h5 16.h3 Rh6 17.Bxg6 Rxg6 18.b4 O-O-O 19.a4 Rf8 20.Nd2 Rh8 21.Nb3 Rgh6 22.a5 b5 23.Nc5 Nf8 24.Qxb5 axb5 25.a6 Ba8 26.a7 Nd7 27.Ra5 Nxc5 28.bxc5 c6 29.Rb1 Qc7 30.Rba1 h4 31.Bh2 Kd7 32.Ng4 Rg6 33.Ra6 Rc8 34.Ne3 g4 35.hxg4 Bh6 36.Nf5 h3 37.gxh3 Bf8 38.Nd6 Bxd6 39.exd6 Qd8 40.Rb6 Rg8 41.Re1 Qh4 42.Re3 f5 43.Bg3 Qxh3 44.gxf5 Qxf5 45.Kf1 Rcf8 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3391438&m=14

Your writer was fortunate enough to have faced IM Burnett one time. I say fortunate because it was always my intention to play well enough to face titled players. After losing the long, hard fought game Ron said, “I never knew you were so strong.” Ron did not have to say what he said, and it was appreciated, but still, the game was lost. It is difficult playing your friends, who become your “friendenemy” during battle. Most of the time the “enemy” part is dropped after the game, but not always. For example, defeating John “Smitty” Smith, a man with whom I had traveled and shared a room on the road, ended our friendship. After the game Smitty informed me that if he had won he had figured out he would have become a National Master, and planned on withdrawing to ensure he would earn the NM certificate from the USCF. Smitty never became a NM, and soon gave up Chess. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2020/04/12/john-smitty-smith-jr-vs-im-boris-kogan/)

NM Gabriel Eidelman vs GM Eduardas Rozentalis

http://www.sjakk.net/Oslo-Chess-2013/Oslo-Chess-2013.php


2022 US Open Last Round
E32 Nimzo-Indian, classical variation

  1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 b6 5. e4 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 d6 7. e5 dxe5 8. dxe5 Nfd7 9. Qe4 c6 10. Qg4 Kf8 11. Nf3 Qc7 12. Bf4 c5 13. Bd3 Bb7 14. O-O Bxf3 15. Qxf3 Nc6 16. Rfe1 h6 17. Bg3 Ke7 18. Rad1 Rad8 19. Qe4 Rhe8 20. Bc2 Kf8 21. Qh7 Ne7 22. Qh8+ Ng8 23. Bh7 1-0
    https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-15/OlzI1ODw
Position after 9…c6

The Stockfish program at Lichess.com shows the move 10 Qg4 as best, but it had yet to be played until played by National Master Eidelman. Four previous games have been played with the move 10 Ba3 having been played (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=19&n=2198256&ms=d4.e6.c4.Nf6.Nc3.Bb4.Qc2.b6.e4.Bxc3.bxc3.d6.e5.dxe5.dxe5.Nfd7.Qe4.c6&ns=7.18.84.33.38.39.143.3177.5726.39089.31745.39090.451186.534142.451187.534143.1968984.2198256) and one with 10 Nf3:

Lucas Van Foreest (2535) vs Predrag Nikolic (2558)
Event: Dutch League 2021-22
Site: Netherlands NED Date: 11/27/2021
Round: 4.3
ECO: E32 Nimzo-Indian, classical variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d6 7.e5 dxe5 8.dxe5 Nfd7 9.Qe4 c6 10.Nf3 Qe7 11.Be2 Bb7 12.Qg4 f6 13.O-O O-O 14.Qh4 c5 15.Bf4 Nc6 16.Rad1 Rad8 17.Bd3 h6 18.exf6 Nxf6 19.Bg6 Rxd1 20.Rxd1 Rd8 21.Re1 Rd7 22.h3 Nh7 23.Qg3 Nf8 24.Be4 Na5 25.Ne5 Rd8 26.Bxh6 Bxe4 27.Bg5 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4320411&m=20

It is difficult to believe there have been numerous games played with this opening concidering the fact that according to the ‘rule’ that the side down by -1.5 is considered to have a ‘lost’ game. After playing 6…d6 Stockfish considers black down by -1.7. After the Grandmaster slid his King over one square to f8 with his tenth move the program shows Rozentalis down by -2.2. As my friend IM of GM strength Boris Kogan was so fond of saying about some of my moves, “This is no way to play CHESS!” It is not often we lesser rated players see any Grandmaster busted up so badly they have a losing position before getting out of the opening. GM Rozentalis may have looked fine outwardly after losing such a game, but inwardly he looked like the man some called the “real Rocky Balboa,” Chuck Wepner, aka The Bayonne Bleeder:

BBC One – The Bleeder
bbc.co.uk

For those of you wondering “Why on earth the AW would post these films with a post concerning Chess”, the answer is that I know, as do all Chess players who take the game seriously, that, metaphorically speaking, this is how we feel after losing a game…and sometimes even after WINNING!

The Last Round: FM Jason Wang vs IM Arthur Guo

FM Jason Wang vs IM Arthur Guo
Denker Invitational
D38 Queen’s Gambit Declined, Ragozin variation

  1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Qa4+ Nc6 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd2 Re8 8. a3 Bf8 9. Rd1 Ne7 10. Qc2 b6 11. b4 Bb7 12. Bd3 Ng6 13. e4 dxc4 14. Bxc4 a5 15. Rb1 axb4 16. axb4 Ra3 17. Bd3 Rxc3 18. Bxc3 Nf4 19. Nd2 Nxg2+ 20. Kf1 Nf4 21. Bb5 c6 22. Bc4 Bc8 23. Rg1 e5 24. dxe5 Bh3+ 25. Ke1 Ng4 26. Nf3 Ng2+ 27. Ke2 Nf4+ 28. Ke1 Bg2 29. e6 fxe6 30. Ne5 Qh4 31. Nxg4 Qxg4 32. Be5 Nh3 33. f3 Qg5 34. Rxg2 Qxe5 35. Rg3 Nf4 36. Kf1 b5 37. Be2 Rc8 38. Qd2 Rc7 39. Rd1 Rf7 40. Rc1 Nh5 41. Rh3 Nf4 42. Rg3 Nh5 43. Rh3 Nf6 44. Kg1 Bxb4 45. Qc2 Bd6 46. Qxc6 b4 47. Rd1 Bc5+ 48. Kh1 Rc7 49. Qb5 Bd6 1/2-1/2 (9…Ne7 appears to be a TN)

In the last round of the recently completed Denker Invitational FM Jason Wang

USCS 43: St. Louis (June 2018)
uschessschool.com

faced IM Arthur Guo with a first place on the line. Arthur was a half point ahead of the contenders, one of whom was Jason Wang. After move forty it looked as though the game would end in a draw after the position was repeated, but Arthur eschewed the draw when playing 43…Nf6 in lieu of returning the knight to h5. FM Wang then blundered by playing 44 Kg1? This allowed Arthur to take a pawn with impunity while attacking the white Queen. I thought the game was over because the two passed pawns will devastate white in the long run. This is the position:

Position after 45 Qc2

It was more than a little obvious Arthur would play 46…Rc7 because every Chess player knows that ROOKS BELONG BEHIND PASSED PAWNS. I had a heart palpation after seeing Arthur’s next move of 45…Bd6. The Stockfish program at Lichess.com gives the move not one, but two question marks. The move is so bad it defies comprehension. What could have caused such a budding star to make such a horrible move? I decided to put the game up to after white played 46 Qc2 into the analysis program at Lichess.com and this is best play by Stockfish after 45 Qc2:

  1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Qa4+ Nc6 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd2 Re8 8. a3 Bf8 9. Rd1 Ne7 10. Qc2 b6 11. b4 Bb7 12. Bd3 Ng6 13. e4 dxc4 14. Bxc4 a5 15. Rb1 axb4 16. axb4 Ra3 17. Bd3 Rxc3 18. Bxc3 Nf4 19. Nd2 Nxg2+ 20. Kf1 Nf4 21. Bb5 c6 22. Bc4 Bc8 23. Rg1 e5 24. dxe5 Bh3+ 25. Ke1 Ng4 26. Nf3 Ng2+ 27. Ke2 Nf4+ 28. Ke1 Bg2 29. e6 fxe6 30. Ne5 Qh4 31. Nxg4 Qxg4 32. Be5 Nh3 33. f3 Qg5 34. Rxg2 Qxe5 35. Rg3 Nf4 36. Kf1 b5 37. Be2 Rc8 38. Qd2 Rc7 39. Rd1 Rf7 40. Rc1 Nh5 41. Rh3 Nf4 42. Rg3 Nh5 43. Rh3 Nf6 44. Kg1 Bxb4 45. Qc2 (Stockfish analysis begins here) Rc7 46. Kh1 Bd6 47. Rd1 Bf8 48. Qa2 g6 49. Bd3 Kh8 50. Bf1 Nh5 51. Qa8 Kg7 52. Qb8 Be7 53. Rh4 Bd6 54. Qd8 Be7 55. Qb8 Nf6 56. Rh3 Qf4 57. Ra1 Nd7 58. Qe8 Nf8 59. Rd1 Bf6 60. Rg3 Be5 61. Be2 b4 62. Bc4 c5 63. Rf1 Ra7 64. Rg2 Bd4 65. Rg4 Qe3 66. Rg3 Rf7 67. Qa8 Qf4 68. Qc6 Re7 69. Rg4 Qb8 70. Bb3 h5 71. Rg5 Qc7 72. Qxc7 Rxc7 73. Rg2 c4 74. Rc1 c3 75. f4 Nd7 76. Rd1 e5 77. fxe5 Bxe5 78. Rd5 Nc5 79. Bd1 Bf4 80. e5 b3 81. e6 Rb7 82. Rxc5 b2 83. Rxg6+ Kxg6 84. Bc2+ Kf6 85. Rxc3 b1=R+ 86. Bxb1 Rxb1+ 87. Kg2 Rb2+ 88. Kf3 Bd6 89. Rc4 Rxh2 90. Re4 Rh3+ 91. Kg2 Rg3+ 92. Kh1 Ke7 93. Re1 Rg5 94. Re3 Bg3 95. Re2 Be5 96. Rd2 Rg4 97. Rd1 Kxe6 98. Rf1 Bg3 99. Kg2 Bf4+ 100. Kh3 Rg3+ 101. Kh4 Kf5 102. Rd1 Rb3 103. Rf1 Ra3 and it is checkmate in 25

Winning a won game is difficult, and like Ringo sang, “It don’t come easy.” Almost every day at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center one would frequently hear, “I blew a WON GAME.” or, “If only I had won more WON GAMES I would be a Master (or Expert, or class A, etc. player).”

After reading the following at ChessLifeOnline in an excellent article by JJLang, dated August 3, 2022, understanding was found:

Denker

Following the old tiebreak adage of ‘lose last, laugh last,’ tournament leader Georgia’s IM Arthur Guo drew his final game against Ohio’s FM Jason Wang to win first place on tiebreaks. By not losing any games, Guo had stronger pairings throughout the tournament than his rivals, meaning tiebreaks would likely come out in his favor were he to draw his final game. Indeed, after failing to find anything concrete on the attacking side of a sharp Ragozin, Guo took the draw and, fortunately for him, the math played out in his favor.
https://new.uschess.org/news/day-4-rancho-mirage-invitationals-end-6-day-begins

Therein lies the problem. It is not as if there are not enough draws in Chess these daze. Now the pooh-bahs have made rules that only INCREASE the likelihood of a draw! Arthur needed only a DRAW to “WIN” the event. The fact is that Arthur did NOT win the tournament! He finished in a THREE WAY TIE for FIRST PLACE! The three players each scored the same number of points, five. Reading further in the aforementioned article one finds: “Northern Californian GM Andrew Hong and Arizonian FM Sandeep Sethuraman each won their final round games to finish second and third, respectively, on tiebreaks.” Simply put, that is a crock of excrement! As it stands now, tiebreaks are MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE RESULT OF THE GAME! What if there had been a three-way tie for first place? That would mean at least three times as much publicity for the Royal Game because the publicity director (USCF has a publicity director, does it not? If not, why not?!) could have articles on all three of them in local newspapers and on local TV news programs in three different cities. This ain’t the Highlander, where there can be only ONE!

The same could be said for the recently completed US Senior, where there was a FIVE-WAY TIE! Unfortunately, the brain trust at the USCF decided to have a souped-up heebe-jeeb speed tournament after the conclusion of almost TWO WEEKS of playing what now passes for classical Chess. The playoff was not the next day, but only a short time after the players had spent at least five hours playing over the board. We are talking about SENIORS here, ladies and gentlemen. Why does USCF FORCE Seniors to play nerve-wracking speed games but not force the JUNIORS to do the same? As a Senior I can tell you that a speed tournament to determine the “winner” was much more difficult on the Seniors than it would have been on the Juniors. My hat is off to GM Alexander Shabalov for winning the speed tournament, but he won more than TWICE AS MUCH MONEY as the other four for winning a SPEED TOURNAMENT! ‘Back in the day’ tournaments held five minute speed tournaments as an ancillary event, not the main event. The fact that there were tiebreaks irrevocably altered the Denker event, as it does every event in which it is used. Because of the plethora of draws Chess is unlike Go or Backgammon, where there is only ONE WINNER!
Just sayin’…

Tommy Wen vs Arthur Guo: “Ready, Aim…”

In the fourth round of the recently completed 2022 Denker Invitational, Expert, soon to be Master, Tommy Wen sat down behind the white pieces after scoring 2 1/2 out of 3 possible points facing IM Arthur Guo,

https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/05/20/2015-chicago-open-wheeling-il/

who had earlier drawn with FM Sandeep Sethuraman. After 38 moves this position was reached:

Position after 38…Nhg7

It is rare to see the knight on g7 and the bishop on f6. The same can be said of the same pieces on the queenside of the board. Most, if not all, players who have made it to class “B” would tell you white has an advantage. For those readers who do not understand the reason I will explain by first saying white has a POSITIONAL advantage because he controls more space, In addition, his pieces are better placed. Contrast the white knights with those of the black army. Then there is the unfortunate black squared bishop, jailed by pawns of the same color. which the white prelate is well positioned IN THE EVENT THE POSITION IS OPENED. Therefore, both players need the position opened to free the black squared bishops. Given the opportunity black will play h5 followed by g4. Unfortunately for black it is white to move.

I was riveted to the screen after having stopped looking at any other game as I awaited Mr. Wen’s next move. For the younger, and new to Chess, readers I would highly suggest you take some time to cogitate on the position, preferably on a real set and pieces. It would be even better if you would take time to go over the whole game, taking notes as you go, before checking the game out at Lichess.com, one of the greatest gifts ever given to the Royal Game.

While waiting for the next move I reflected upon a time many decades ago when a similar position was reached and I did not pull the trigger. After showing the game to the man who became the only player to earn the title of Georgia Chess Champion and Georgia Senior Chess Champion, NM David Vest, the High Planes Drifter, the first coach of young Mr. Guo, said “You have a problem with trying to hold on to your material. How about we play and I will make an sacrifice in every game,” Dave said. Well now, the AW was always up for a challenge ‘back in the day’ so we sat down to play. One fifteen minute game after another followed and damned if the Drifter did not make a sacrifice in each and every game! I learned the lesson and after that day I was always looking out for the possibility of making a sacrifice.

In Chess there comes a time when your position is as good as it is ever gonna get and there is one move, and only one move to be made. If you do not play that move your position will deteriorate. You are locked and loaded and simply MUST PULL THE TRIGGER! The position above is one of those occasions. Expert Wen, a non-titled player, by only six points, had an opportunity that was missed. He will undoubtedly learn from the missed opportunity.

I could attempt showing you what move should have been played and explain why, but what is the point when the Stockfish program at Lichess can do a much better job? I give the game, followed by something using the analysis board at Lichess;Stockfish vs Stockfish. By now you should know what move should have been played, what with all the hints, so what I did was utilize the SF program to play out how the game could possibly have gone, with best play, so you can see how the position is transformed after the sacrifice.

Wen (2194) vs IM Arthur Guo

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 d6 9. c3 h6 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a3 Bd7 13. Bc2 g6 14. Nf1 Bg7 15. Ng3 a5 16. d5 Ne7 17. b3 Nc8 18. Be3 c6 19. c4 Nb6 20. Nd2 a4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. bxc4 Qc7 23. Rb1 Reb8 24. Qc2 Rb7 25. Rb2 Rab8 26. Reb1 Nc8 27. Ne2 c5 28. Nc3 Rxb2 29. Rxb2 Ra8 30. Nb5 Qd8 31. Nb1 Nh5 32. N1c3 Nf4 33. Bf1 f5 34. f3 Nh5 35. Nxa4 f4 36. Bf2 g5 37. Nac3 Bf6 38. a4 Ng7 39. Be2 h5 40. Qd1 Ra6 41. Kf1 Ne7 42. Ke1 Kh7 43. Kd2 Ng8 44. Kc1 Nh6 45. Kb1 Qc8 46. Be1 Bd8 47. Ra2 Ne8 48. Ra3 Nf7 49. Na2 Nf6 50. Nc1 Kg7 51. Nb3 g4 52. hxg4 hxg4 53. Nd2 Qa8 54. fxg4 Ba5 55. Bf3 Bb4 56. Ra2 Qc8 57. Nf1 Ng5 58. Bh4 Nfxe4 59. Qc2 Be8 60. Kc1 Bg6 61. Qe2 Qh8 62. Bxg5 Nxg5 63. Nxd6 Rxd6 64. Qxe5+ Kh7 65. Qxd6 Qc3+ 66. Kd1 Qe1#
    https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-open-championship-and-invitationals-2022/round-4/vpkwzK46

Wen vs Guo with Stockfish analysis from move 39

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 d6 9. c3 h6 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a3 Bd7 13. Bc2 g6 14. Nf1 Bg7 15. Ng3 a5 16. d5 Ne7 17. b3 Nc8 18. Be3 c6 19. c4 Nb6 20. Nd2 a4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. bxc4 Qc7 23. Rb1 Reb8 24. Qc2 Rb7 25. Rb2 Rab8 26. Reb1 Nc8 27. Ne2 c5 28. Nc3 Rxb2 29. Rxb2 Ra8 30. Nb5 Qd8 31. Nb1 Nh5 32. N1c3 Nf4 33. Bf1 f5 34. f3 Nh5 35. Nxa4 f4 36. Bf2 g5 37. Nac3 Bf6 38. a4 Ng7 (SF vs SF begins here) 39. Nxd6 Nxd6 40. Bxc5 Nf7 41. Bb6 Qf8 42. c5 Bd8 43. Kh2 Bc8 44. d6 g4 45. fxg4 f3 46. Bc4 Ne6 47. Qf2 fxg2 48. Qf5 Neg5 49. Qg6+ Qg7 50. Qxg7+ Kxg7 51. Kxg2 Ne6 52. Bd5 Bxb6 53. Rxb6 Ra5 54. Nb5 Nxc5 55. Rc6 Nxa4 56. Rxc8 Nb6 57. Bxf7 Kxf7 58. Nc3 Nd7 59. Rh8 Ra3 60. Nd5 Kg6 61. Re8 Ra6 62. Re6+ Kg5 63. Kf3 Ra3+ 64. Ne3 Rd3 65. Re7 Rxd6 66. h4+ Kf6 67. Rh7 Rd3 68. Rxh6+ Ke7 69. Ke2 Rb3 70. Nf5+ Ke8 71. g5 Nc5 72. Rh8+ Kd7 73. Rh7+ Kc6 74. g6 Ne6 75. Kf2 Rd3 76. Re7 Nc5 77. Ke2 Rd8 78. Rxe5 Nb3 79. Ke3 Kb6 80. g7 Nc1 81. h5 Rd3+ 82. Kf4 Rd8 83. Kg5 Nb3 84. h6 Nd4 85. Nxd4 Rg8 86. Re7 Rd8 87. h7 Rxd4 88. h8=Q Rd1 89. Qc8 Rg1+ 90. Kf6 Rf1+ 91. Ke6 Rf6+ 92. Kxf6 Ka5 93. Rb7 Ka4 94. Qa8#

Make A Draw And Belly Up To The Bar

In the fourth round of the recently completed Hollywood Chess Norm Classic! (https://www.learn2chess.com/norm) the following game was played:

IM Victor Matviishen 2490

http://amargaryan-round-2020.chessacademy.am/static/article/41?lang=en

vs GM Aleksey Sorokin 2541

https://lichess.org/coach/AVS2000
  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Qe2 h6 8. Bh4 g6 9. f4 e5 10. fxe5 dxe5 11. O-O-O Qc7 12. Nb3 b5 13. Rxd7 Nxd7 14. Nd5 Qb8 15. Bf6 Nxf6 16. Nxf6+ Ke7 17. Nd5+ Ke8 18. Nf6+ Ke7 19. Nd5+ Ke8 1/2-1/2
    https://lichess.org/broadcast/hollywood-chess-gm-norm-classic/round-4/y5op7bmp
    https://live.followchess.com/#!1000gm-hollywood–2022/1784075715

It was the move 6…Nbd7 that attracted my attention, not 7 Qe2. When playing the Najdorf what now seems like another lifetime ago I invariably played 6…e6, which was the preferred move of Bobby Fischer, and now Stockfish, or at least the Stockfish program utilized by Lichess.com. Although 7…h6 has been the most often played move by we humans, Stockfish plays 7…b5. Again humans place this move below the move played in the game and 7…e6 and 7…Qc7. After 8 Bh4 Stockfish shows 8…Qc7 as best. Yet GM Sorokin played 8…g6, which has been the most often played move by human players. Then comes a series of moves of which Stocky approves, until after 12…b5, when the program would play 13 a3. After 14…Qb8 Stocky would play 15 Na5, but the IM chose to make a draw. This has all been seen previously:

Dmitry Kryakvin (2589) vs Aleksandr Rakhmanov (2647)

Event: TCh-FIN 2018-19
Site: Finland FIN Date: 04/05/2019
Round: 9.1
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Ke7 19.Nd5+ Ke8 20.Nf6+ Ke7 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4187357&m=41

Shardul Gagare (2468) vs Shalmali Gagare (2100)
Event: XXIX Elgoibar GM 2019
Site: Elgoibar ESP Date: 12/14/2019
Round: 4.4
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd2+ Qd6 20.Qa5+ Qc7 21.Qd2+ Qd6 22.Qa5+ Qc7 23.Qd2+ Qd6 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4237624

Yi Xu (2527) vs Yi Wei (2732)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/07/2021
Round: 1.4
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd2+ Qd6 20.Qa5+ Qc7 21.Qd2+ Qd6 22.Qa5+ Qc7 23.Qd2+ Qd6 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4286099

And this will no doubt be seen again, and again, and again… It will be used, especially after this post, by anyone and everyone with a desire to draw. It is the perfect game with which to make a draw because who would ever expect the venerable Najdorf variation, the favorite of World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer because it was a fighting defense that could be used to win with the Black pieces, to be used to make a “quick” draw? The game can last twenty moves, so older, weaker, Grandmasters, like Julio Becerra and Jacob Aagaard (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/07/29/gm-jacob-aagaard-blasphemes-caissia-at-the-charlotte-chess-center-gm-norm-invitational/) can make a peaceful, short draw and not have Chess writers rake them over the coals for being old and weak by playing two moves and calling it a day, err…draw.

In the excellent book, Seven Games, by Oliver Roeder,

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/books/review/seven-games-oliver-roeder.html

the first chapter concerns the game, Checkers. It is written: “Competitive tournament checkers games begin with the drawing of a card from a deck. The familiar game, played in living rooms and school cafeterias, with its initial checkers starting in the traditional formation shown below, is known on the competitive circuit as go-as-you-please, or GAYP. But expert players know this version so well that any game can be effortlessly steered toward a draw. To combat this, the first three moves of a typical competitive game are determined randomly by drawing a card from a predetermined deck of opening moves. This version of checkers is known as three-move ballot or, simply, “three-move.” This variation has been played for the game’s most prestigious titles. Checkers openings come with colorful names: the White doctor, the Octopus, the Skull Cracker, the Rattlesnake, and the Rattlesnake II. There are 174 possible three-moves openings in checkers, but not all of these appear in the deck. Some would simply give too big an advantage to one side or the other, resulting in lopsided and, uninteresting play. The deck currently sanctioned by the American Checkers Federation (https://www.usacheckers.com/) contains 156 openings,each of which seasons the game with its own unique favor. Some of them remain bland, typically leading to uneventful draws. But some of them are sharp, bestowing on one side an instant advantage. In those sharp games, it is incumbent upon one player to attack, and upon the other player to fight for his life.” Top players have all this memorized, of course, along with lengthy continuations beyond the third move. Whatever checkers lacks in complexity compared to, say, chess, its top players make up for in depth (itl). Elite players can often see some twenty, thirty, or even forty moves ahead. This is what Tinsley meant when he said that playing checkers was like staring down a bottomless well.”

It has been obvious for decades that Chess has a draw problem. The problem has only gotten worse with the utilization of the computer Chess programs, and the problem will continue to grow, and fester, until it sucks the life out of the game of Chess, just as it sucked the life out of the game of Checkers. The problem is obvious. Players are awarded far too much when “earning” a half-point for drawing. I have posited changing a draw to only one quarter of a point, while some have said a third of a point should be awarded for drawing. The problem is not going away. How long will it be before Chess has to resort to using cards, or some other random generator like a computer program, to choose the openings for the players? Even then players who want to draw will be able to make a draw, unless and until what is gained by making a draw is far less than the 1/2 point the players “earn” by “playing” a game before bellying-up to the bar.

GM Joel Benjamin Did Not Do His Homework

In the fourth round of the US Senior Chess Championship being held at the St. Louis Chess Campus International Master Igor Khmelnitsky,

Igor Khmelnitsky wins Irwin en.chessbase.com

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

Position after 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:

Position after 12 b3

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:

Position after 7 Bd2

When seeing the position for the first time GM Benjamin played 7…Bg4. He played a different move against Igor:

IM Igor Khmelnitsky vs GM Joel Benjamin
2022 US Senior Chess Championship
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 Na6 8.a3 Be6 9.Nf3 O-O-O 10.Nd5 Qa4 11.Nxf6 gxf6 12.b3 Qb5 13.Qxb5 cxb5 14.Be3 Bc5 15.Bxb5 Bxe3 16.fxe3 Nc5 17.Nd2 Rhg8 18.g3 h5 19.b4 Nd7 20.Bd3 h4 21.Kf2 Nb6 22.a4 hxg3+ 23.hxg3 Kd7 24.a5 Nc8 25.Rh6 Ke7 26.Rf1 Rh8 27.Rfh1 Rxh6 28.Rxh6 Nd6 29.Rh1 Rc8 30.Ke1 Ba2 31.Kd1 Be6 32.Kc1 Rg8 33.Rg1 Rh8 34.Kb2 Rh2 35.Kc3 Bd7 36.a6 b6 37.Nc4 Nb5+ 38.Kb2 Nc7 39.Na3 Bc8 40.b5 Ne6 41.Kc3 Nc5 42.g4 Rh8 43.g5 fxg5 44.Rxg5 Kf6 45.Rg2 Bd7 46.Rg1 Rc8 47.Kb4 Be6 48.Nc4 Bxc4 49.Rf1+ Kg7 50.Bxc4 Rc7 51.Bd5 Rd7 52.Ra1 Rc7 53.Ra3 Kf8 54.Bc6 Ke7 55.Ra1 Kd6 56.Bd5 Ke7 57.Rh1 f6 58.Rh8 Rd7 59.Rc8 Rd8 60.Rc7+ Rd7 61.Rxc5 bxc5+ 62.Kxc5 Rd6 63.c4 Kd7 64.Kb4 Kc7 65.c5 Rd8 66.b6+ Kb8 67.c6 axb6 68.c7+ 1-0
https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-senior-championship-2022/round-4/SuM3mEGU

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.”

blindwilliehighlight

The Boys and Girls Are Back In St. Louis Pulling The Trigger

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

https://new.uschess.org/news/when-boards-become-blades-round-4-senior-and-juniors

in the third round when facing GM Max Dlugy

Max Dlugy presented the trophy by David Hater | Photo: Vanessa Sun (https://en.chessbase.com/post/twenty-grandmasters-highlight-charity-chess-event-4)

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

IM Carissa Yip in round 2 of the 2022 Junior Championship. Photo: Bryan Adams/SLCC (https://new.uschess.org/news/fight-begins-day-two-us-senior-and-junior-championships)

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,

https://new.uschess.org/news/fight-begins-day-two-us-senior-and-junior-championships

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:

http://chessib.com/chess-queens-beautiful-girls-olympiad-2018-batumi.html?i=1
Position after 31 Rb2

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)

immortalchessforum.com

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:

White to move

GM Shabalov’s last move was to move the Queen from d8 to d7. It would have been better for Shabba to have played 18…Nh6. Would you pull the trigger? Find the answer here: (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-senior-championship-2022/round-1/z8SVUmvb)

https://en.chessok.net/books/572-secrets-of-chess-intuition-free-download-book.html

Richard Rapport Wins With Glek Variation

The erratic Richard Rapport continued riding the roller-coaster by losing again today. Sandwiched between his half point ‘gift’ to Nepo and todaze loss to Alireza Firouzja was a nice win with the Glek variation of the C46 Four knights versus Jan-Krzysztof Duda.

Richard Rapport vs Jan-Krzysztof Duda
2022 Candidates Tournament Round 8
C46 Four knights game Glek variation

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 d6 6. d3 a5 7. O-O h6 8. b3 O-O 9. h3 Nd4 10. Be3 c6 11. Kh2 Re8 12. a3 Nxf3+ 13. Qxf3 Bxe3 14. fxe3 b5 15. g4 Ra7 16. Qg3 h5 17. g5 h4 18. Qxh4 Nh7 19. Qg3 Nxg5 20. h4 Nh7 21. Bh3 Bxh3 22. Rg1 Ng5 23. hxg5 Bc8 24. Rg2 Rae7 25. Qf3 g6 26. Rh1 f5 27. Kg1 b4 28. exf5 gxf5 29. Ne4 1-0
  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 d6 6. d3 a5 7. O-O h6 (SF 200622 @depth 42 plays this move, but SF 070622 @depth 48 castles, as does SF 14 @depth 37. The CBDB shows only one game with 7…h6, yet there are several more on which one can click, which makes no sense. Why does it show only one game when there are many?) 8. b3 (SF 070622 @depth 53 plays the game move, but SF 15 @depth 43 plays 8 Nd5, a move yet to be tried in practice)

Igor Glek (2467) vs Igor Lysyj (2596)
Event: ch-RUS Rapid 2019
Site: Sochi RUS Date: 10/16/2019
ECO: C46 Four knights game Glek variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 Bc5 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 a5 7.O-O Be6 8.Ne2 Bb6 9.d4 Bg4 10.d5 Ne7 11.h3 Bd7 12.Nd2 Qc8 13.Kh2 h5 14.Nc4 h4 15.g4 Ba7 16.f4 b5 17.Ne3 Bxe3 18.Bxe3 Bxg4 19.fxe5 dxe5 20.Bg5 Bh5 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Rxf6 Ra6 23.Rxa6 Qxa6 24.Qd3 Qb6 25.Rf1 Bg6 26.Nc3 b4 27.Na4 Qd6 28.Qb5+ Kf8 29.Qxa5 Kg7 30.Qc5 f5 31.Qxd6 cxd6 32.Nb6 fxe4 33.Re1 e3 34.Nc4 Rc8 35.b3 Ra8 36.Nxd6 Rxa2 37.Nc4 Rxc2 38.d6 Nc6 39.Nxe3 Ra2 40.Kg1 e4 41.Rc1 Ne5 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4225262&m=15

Sergey Solovjov IM 2434 RUS vs Konstantin Kazakov 2154 KAZ
Peterhof open 2008
C46 Four knights game Glek variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 Bc5 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 a5 7.O-O h6 8.Be3 Bxe3 9.fxe3 Ne7 10.Nh4 c6 11.d4 O-O 12.Nf5 Nxf5 13.exf5 Qe7 14.Qd2 Rd8 15.h3 d5 16.dxe5 Qxe5 17.g4 b5 18.Qd4 Re8 19.Rae1 b4 20.Na4 Ba6 21.Rf4 Nd7 22.c3 Bb5 23.Nc5 Nxc5 24.Qxc5 bxc3 25.Qxc3 Qxc3 26.bxc3 a4 27.a3 Rab8 28.Rb4 Kf8 29.Kf2 c5 30.Rbb1 Bc4 31.Red1 Bb3 32.Rd2 Re5 33.Rxd5 Ree8 34.Rxc5 Rbd8 35.Rb2 Rc8 36.Rxc8 Rxc8 37.Rd2 Rxc3 38.Be4 Ke7 39.Kf3 Bc4 40.Rc2 Rxc2 41.Bxc2 Bb3 42.Bd3 Kd6 43.Ke4 Kc5 44.f6 g5 45.Ke5 Ba2 46.Ba6 Bb3 47.e4 Ba2 48.Bb7 Bc4 49.Bc8 Ba2 50.Bd7 1-0 (ChessBaseDataBase)

FM Emil Risteski 2363 MKD vs GM Igor Lysyj 2603 RU
Titled Tuesday intern op 11th Jan 2022
C46 Four knights game Glek variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 Bc5 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O a5 7.d3 h6 8.h3 Be6 9.Nd2 a4 10.Nc4 Nd4 11.Kh2 b5 12.Ne3 c6 13.f4 a3 14.f5 axb2 15.Bxb2 Bd7 16.a4 b4 17.Ne2 Nxe2 18.Qxe2 Bxe3 19.Qxe3 c5 20.g4 Rxa4 21.Qf3 O-O 22.h4 Nh7 23.Qg3 f6 24.Rxa4 Bxa4 25.Qf2 Qd7 26.Ra1 Ra8 27.Bf3 Bc6 28.Rxa8+ Bxa8 29.Qe1 Qa4 30.Qb1 Bc6 31.Bd1 Qa5 32.Bc1 Nf8 33.g5 hxg5 34.hxg5 c4 35.gxf6 gxf6 36.Bf3 Qc5 37.Kg2 d5 38.Bd2 dxe4 39.dxe4 c3 40.Bh6 Qc4 41.Qe1 Kf7 42.Qg3 Ke8 43.Qg7 Qf7 44.Qh8 Ke7 45.Bh5 Bxe4+ 46.Kf2 Qa2 47.Qxf8+ Kd7 48.Qe8+ Kc7 49.Qe7+ Kc8 50.Qe6+ Qxe6 51.fxe6 Kd8 52.Bf8 Bc6 53.e7+ Kc8 54.e8=Q+ Bxe8 55.Bxe8 f5 56.Ba4 e4 57.Bb3 1-0 (ChessBaseDataBase)

Paco Versus Sam The Sham Shankland In Prague

In the fifth round of the Masters section of the Prague Chess Festival American GM Sam Shankland

https://new.uschess.org/2022-us-olympiad-open-team

sat behind the black pieces facing Spanish GM Francisco Vallejo Pons.

https://viralcasino.blogspot.com/2018/04/spanish-chess-grandmaster-hounded-by.html

The previous day had been an off day in the tournament so it would be natural to expect both players were tanned, rested, and ready for battle.

Francisco Vallejo Pons 2703 1:12:56 vs Sam Shankland 2718 (USA) 1:19:06
Prague Chess Festival | Masters
Round 5
ECO: C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. d4 Bf5 10. Nh4 Bd7 11. Nf3 Bf5 12. Nh4 Bd7 13. Nf3 Bf5 1/2-1/2
    https://live.followchess.com/#!prague-chess-chp-masters-2022/748137683

I have included the time given by followchess.com. The players were at the board maybe half an hour, if that… Wondering what may have happened if either player had a backbone, I put the opening moves into the analysis program at Lichess.com and this was the result:

1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. d4 Bf5 10. Nh4 Bd7 11. Nf3 Rb8 12. Re1 Re8 13. Be3 exd4 14. cxd4 Qf6 15. c4 Bb4 16. Rf1 b6 17. Rc1 h6 18. d5 Na5 19. Bd4 Qf5 20. c5 Bb5 21. Nh4 Qh7 22. d6 cxd6 23. cxb6 axb6 24. Rc7 Bxf1 25. Bxf1 Qe4 26. Bxg7 Kxg7 27. Qh5 Qe6 28. Nf5+ Kf8 29. Rxf7+ Qxf7 30. Qxh6+ Kg8 31. Qg5+ Kf8…

Sam Shankland is a member of the United States Olympic team. Hikaru Nakamura

https://misfitsgaming.gg/hikaru-nakamura-signs-with-mgg/

is about to participate in the Candidates tournament, which is held to determine a challenger for the title of World Chess Champion, and he is NOT a part of the Olympic team. Am I missing something here? Makes on wonder, does it not?

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 (The Glek variation, named for GM Igor Glek. The programs prefer 4 d4. The programs do not approve of first moving a pawn before moving the bishop, but we humans ask, “Where’s the fun in that?”) 4…d5 (Both Stockfish 14.1 and 15 play 4…Bc5) 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bd6 (SF 311221 @depth 56 prefers 7…Bc5; SF 14 @depth 50 will play 7…h6. The ChessBaseDataBase contains 362 games with 7…Bc5 and white has been held to scoring only 52%. In 251 games 7…Bd6 has allowed 56%. 7…h6 has yet to be played) 8. O-O O-O 9. d4 Bf5 (SF 12 plays 9…Re8)1.

Rauf Mamedov (2709) vs Francisco Vallejo Pons (2707)
Event: World Blitz 2017
Site: Riyadh KSA Date: 12/30/2017
Round: 16.18 Score: 1-0
ECO: C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Nc6 7.Nf3 Bd6 8.O-O O-O 9.Re1 Re8 10.d3 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.Rb1 Rb8 13.g4 Bg6 14.Ng5 h6 15.Ne4 Qd7 16.Qf3 f5 17.gxf5 Bxf5 18.Qg3 Kh8 19.Qh4 Rf8 20.Ng3 Bh7 21.Qa4 Bc5 22.Be3 Bb6 23.Qg4 Qf7 24.Be4 Bxe3 25.fxe3 Qf2+ 26.Kh1 Bxe4+ 27.Nxe4 Qxc2 28.Rg1 Rf7 29.Rbf1 Re7 30.Qh4 Qxd3 31.Rf6 Qd5 32.Rxh6+ gxh6 33.Qxh6+ 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4089773