The Passive Caro-Kann

“If you play the Caro-Kann when young, what are you going to play when old?” – Bent Larsen

Federico Perez Ponsa (2553)

vs Hikaru Nakamura (2781)

Gibraltar Masters 2018

Round 3

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 e6 6. Be2 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Rd1
d4 9. Nb1 Ne7 10. d3 c5 11. a4 Nbc6 12. Na3 O-O 13. Qg3 a6 14. Bf4 e5 15. Bd2
Rb8 16. Rf1 b5 17. axb5 axb5 18. f4 Bh6 19. Qh4 Bxf4 20. Bxf4 exf4 21. Rxf4 Ne5
22. Raf1 N7c6 23. Qf2 b4 24. Nb1 b3 25. c4 Nb4 26. Qg3 f6 27. Kh2 Qd6 28. Na3
Nc2 29. Nb5 Qe7 30. R4f2 Ra8 31. Rb1 Ne3 32. Na3 Rf7 33. Re1 Kh8 34. Bf1 Re8
35. Nb1 f5 36. Nd2 Qc7 37. Kg1 f4 38. Qh4 Ref8 39. Be2 Qa5 40. Qg5 Qxd2 41.
Qxe5+ Kg8 42. Rb1 Qc2 43. Rbf1 Nxf1 44. Bxf1 Qc1 45. Qxc5 f3 46. g3 Qe3 47. Qd5
h5 48. h4 Kh7 49. Qg5 Ra7 50. Qc5 Ra1 51. Qe7+ Kg8 52. Qe6+ Kg7 53. Qe7+ Rf7

Does this mean Naka has grown old, at least as a Chess player? Seeing this game caused me to reflect on a post found at GM Kevin Spraggett’s website recently, Samurai Spassky. Kevin provides Spassky’s original annotations to a Caro-Kann game played in 1959: Boris Spassky vs Aaron Reshko, St.Petersburg. Also provided is a PDF of a 1969 Soviet-Life article containing Spassky’s thoughts on the Caro-Kann, which I transcribed:

“The Caro-Kann is quite popular now, but it is usually employed by passive-minded players. The main idea of this system is that Black temporarily declines a Pawn battle in the middle and strives, instead, to quickly as possible finish deploying his forces, especial the Queen’s Bishop, before the King’s Pawn move P-K3. Only after this does he launch vigorous operations in the center. The result is that Black’s position is solid, even though passive. The weakness of this system is that it offers White too much a wide a choice of possible patterns of development, which provides not only chess, but also psychological trumps.”

Former US Chess Champion Stuart Rachels,

now an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama, said, “Play main lines.” That may be good advice for top flight players, but for the rest of us, “Where is the fun in that?” I have never, ever, not once, played Bf5. After 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 I have only played 3…c5 and Qb6. Upon returning to Chess after leaving the Royal game for the more lucrative Backgammon I played mostly obscure and little known openings, such as what was called by Kazim Gulamali,

the “Caro-Kann Krusher.” 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3!

Now there is a book on the move…

There are so many multifarious opening lines, yet top players continue to trot out the same ol’, same ol’…BORING!

Kevin plays the “passive” 5…exf6 in this game, which features double doubled pawns, and a Queen sacrifice!

Daniel H. Campora (ARG)


vs Kevin Spraggett (CAN)

Portugal Open 2018 round 06

B15 Caro Kann, Forgacs variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. Bc4 Bd6 7. Qe2+ Be7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 Nd7 11. h3 Bh5 12. g4 Bg6 13. Bb3 a5 14. a4 Nb6 15. c4 Bb4 16. Rad1 Re8 17. Nh4 Be4 18. f3 Bg6 19. Nxg6 hxg6

White to move

20. Qf2 Qe7 21. Rd3 Nd7 22. Bf4 Nc5 23. Re3 Ne6 24. c5

Black to move

Nxf4 25. Rxe7 Rxe7 26. Qc2 Ne2+ 27. Kg2 Nxd4 28. Qc4 Nxb3 29. Qxb3 Bxc5 30. Qc4 b6 31. Rd1 Rae8 32. Rd2 Re1 33. h4 g5 34. h5 Rg1+ 35. Kh3 Rh1+ 36. Rh2 Rhe1 37. Rd2 Rh1+ 38. Rh2 Rb1 39. Re2 Rd8 40. Qc2 Rh1+ 41. Kg2 Rg1+ 42. Kh2 Ra1 43. Kg2 Bd4 44. Qxc6 Be5 45. Qxb6 Rdd1 46. Rxe5 fxe5 47. Qb8+ Kh7 48. Qxe5 Rd2+ 49. Kg3 Rg1+ 50. Kh3 Rh1+ 51. Kg3 Rg1+ 52. Kh3 ½-½

Rea B. Hayes vs John Harold Belson

1936 Canadian Championship


B15 Caro-Kann, Forgacs variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. Bc4 Bd6 7. Qe2+ Be7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 Nd7 11. Rad1 Qc7 12. h3 Bh5 13. Bf4 Qxf4 14. Qxe7 Nb6 15. Bb3 Rae8 16. Qa3 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Nd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Qd3 f5 20. Rde1 a6 21. c3 Qg5+ 22. Kh2 f4 23. Qd2 Re6 24. Rxe6 fxe6 25. Re1 Rf6 26. Re5 Qh4 27. Qe1 Kf7 28. Qe2 g5 29. Qf1 h5 30. Qg2 Rg6 31. Re1 g4 32. fxg4 hxg4 33. Rg1 b5 34. Kh1 g3 35. Qf1 Rh6 0-1

Tribute to Rea Hayes

Rea B. Hayes

October 31, 1915 – February 15, 2001

Rea Bruce Hayes was born in Weston Ontario, Canada, on October 31, 1915. His first memory of chess was when he was taught to play at age eleven by a boy in the neighborhood. When he thought his friend was being inconsistent about the rules, Rea “read the article in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica”. From that point on he was the teacher.

Rea joined the St. Clair Chess Club in Toronto and became its champion a few years later. This club later became the Canada Dairies Chess Club.

He moved to Greeneville, South Carolina in 1953 and won his first tournament at Columbia. One trophy was for being the South Carolina Open Champion, the other one was for being the highest scoring South Carolina resident. At the time, no one expected a resident to win the state tournament outright. In 1954, Rea was again the South Carolina Open Champion, but he only received one trophy this time.

While living in South Carolina, Rea tied for third with a 5-2 score in the 1953 Southern Open in Columbia. He finished in a foursome of 5.5-1.5 scores in the 1954 Southern Open in Atlanta and had to settle for fourth on tie breaks.

From South Carolina, Rea transferred to Chattanooga, TN for a two year period. Having just moved, he entered the 1955 Southern Open in Chattanooga and won the Southern Championship with a 6-1 score.

Rea lived the next 30 years of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, he organized the Parkway Chess Club and the City League, a chess team competition. He revived the city championship which had been abandoned for years, winning both the city and club championship many times. For his efforts on behalf of the club, Rea is an honorary member.

In Ohio, the annual Ohio Championship was captured outright by Rea in 1963, winning with only one draw. Several other times, he tied for first in the event. The Region V Championship was his at least once. He was instrumental in organizing the Cincinnati Open, the second annual tournament in Ohio. He was also the president of the Ohio Chess Association. Rea was twice honored by his Cincinnati club, as Chessman of the Decade (1958-1968) and again when he left Cincinnati in 1987.

Before leaving Cincinnati, Rea retired from Union Central Life where he worked as an actuary. Rea visited New Zealand in 1980-1981. Playing chess with players in the Hastings area, one of them paid him the compliment of saying that if Rea lived there, he would be the second or third player in the country.

During 1981, he traveled to Sun City West in Arizona, to take part in the 1st US Senior Open tournament. Although ranked 7th of the eight upper section players, he won top honors. He conceded only one draw, to the player ranking below him. He also won the upset prize, a nice wristwatch, for beating the favorite, Eric Marchand.

Rea’s lasting legacy is being the first US Senior Champion. The Senior trophy now rests at the US Chess Hall of Fame in Washington DC with his name engraved first on the list of champions.

He moved to Chattanooga for the second time in 1990 and became a regular player at the tournaments in and around the state of Tennessee. In 1992, he entered the 46th Annual Tennessee Open in Oak Ridge and captured State Champion honors. He had three wins and three draws.

Since his coming to Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Chess Club, Rea fulfilled the role of Chessman of the Area. He served in almost every club capacity over the years, including president and newsletter editor. All of his contributions and accomplishment have prompted the Chattanooga Chess Club to elect him Life Member and hold an annual tournament in his honor.


The Perdomo Class Championship

When the Legendary Georgia Ironman first mentioned the Georgia Class had been changed to the Perdomo Class Championship I was stunned, saying, “When did Carlos die?” Fortunately, IM Carlos Perdomo lives. The usual practice has been to name a tournament after someone, or even two former players, whose spirits have departed for the chessboard in the sky. Those in control of the GCA have seen fit to do things differently. For example, the current Fun E administration seems loathe to take entry fees at the door on the day of the tournament. It was therefore no surprise when the Ironman told me he had picked up an extra lesson on Saturday, the second day of the tournament. When Tim said to the chess dad, “But I thought your son was playing in the Perdomo.” (As in the “BoKo” which is short for the Boris Kogan Memorial. Since Carlos is still with us it is the “Perdomo.” Once his spirit heads to the sky it will, no doubt, become the “Domo.”) The chess dad said, “I could not enter online, and I tried many times, until finally giving up. Every time I tried to enter it would go back a page.” Sometimes progress ain’t…I cannot help but wonder how many others had the same problem and did not participate?

Unfortunately, I only learned some of the games were broadcast live on Chess Stream after the tournament ended. LM David Vest, who, according to Tim, also had trouble entering, had mentioned the fact to the Ironman, asking him to let me know, but it slipped the Ironmind. I had previously seen the announcement on the moribund GCA website (, but nothing was mentioned about any games being broadcast live, and having been to the GCA online magazine (, I can attest to the fact that there was no mention of this fact. What is the point of having games broadcast if the news is not advertised?

Mr. Vest mentioned something about Masters receiving free entry providing they jumped through many GCA hoops. The man from the High Planes did just that but said “Katie was in Alaska and by the time I was able to enter it was too late.” I was, therefore, pleased to see the Drifter was able to play four rounds after a first round half point bye. David is a fellow Senior and obviously not ready to drift away toward the sky.

There were seventy-five players in all sections combined, about what we used to get at the House of Pain when the usual suspects were rounded up. Unfortunately, there were only eight players in the top section. This makes me wonder about reports being received concerning a boycott of GCA tournaments by the higher rated players. I have learned it is not an “official” boycott per se, in the sense that anyone has led a boycott, but more of an unofficial type boycott. Word must not have gotten to the eight intrepid players who chose to “cross the line.”

NM Michael Coralllo, who has been playing very well the past several years, was the top rated player when he sat down in the first round to play a former student of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Albert Liang, who is now learning from GM Alsonso Zapata. I went with Tim to the home of Albert where we double-teamed the young man during a lesson, and I can relate that after leaving, the Ironman and I were the ones who felt double teamed!

Albert Liang (2019) – Michael Corallo (2371)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O b5 8. Bb3 Be7 9. Qf3 Qb6 10. Be3 Qb7 11. Qg3 O-O 12. Bh6 Ne8 13. f3 Bd7 14. Rad1 Nc6 15. Nxc6 Bxc6 16. Ne2 Kh8 17. Be3 Nf6 18. Nd4 Be8 19. Kh1 Nd7 20. Bf4 Qb6 21. Ne2 Ne5 22. c3 Qc5 23. Nc1 Qc7 24. Nd3 Ng6 25. Be3 Rg8 26. f4 Qb7 27. f5 Nf8 28. Nf4 exf5 29. exf5 Bc6 30. Bxf7 Bh4 31. Qxh4 Qxf7 32. Rxd6 Rc8 33. Kg1 Qxf5 34. Bd4 Bb7 35. Nh5 Qc2 36. Qg3 1-0

Can you spell U-P-S-E-T? Mr. Corallo did not let this loss upset him, playing the swiss gambit the way it is supposed to be played by winning his next four games and taking clear first. That is showing your class in style!
I was surprised to see the move 6 Bc4 has only scored 48% according to the CBDB. Back in the day it was THE MOVE. White has scored 54% against 11…0-0, and it is the preferred move of the big three “engines” shown on the CBDB, but 11…b4 has held White to only 45%. After 12…Ne8 calls this the, B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Lipnitzky attack, which is a new one on me…
The game Rojas, Luis (2432) – Andaur, Claudio (2095) CHI-ch, 02/12/2002, varied with 13…Kh8 14. Bg5 Bxg5 15. Qxg5 Qb6 16. Qe3 Bd7 17. Qf2 Nc6 18. Nxc6 Qxf2+ 19. Rxf2 Bxc6 20. Rd2 Rd8 21. Rad1 g5 22. Ne2 Rg8 23. h3 Rg6 24. c4 bxc4 25. Bxc4 Bb7 26. b4 h5 27. Kf2 Kg7 28. e5 d5 29. Bd3 Rh6 30. Nd4 Nc7 31. Rc2 Rd7 32. Rdc1 Na8 33. Nb3 f6 34. Nc5 Re7 35. Nxb7 Rxb7 36. Bxa6 Rf7 37. Rc6 fxe5 38. b5 g4 39. b6 Nxb6 40. Rxb6 gxf3 41. gxf3 Rhf6 42. Rg1+ Kh6 43. Ke2 Rxf3 44. Rxe6+ R3f6 45. Rxf6+ Rxf6 46. Bb5 e4 47. Rd1 Rf3 48. Rxd5 Ra3 49. Rd2 Rxh3 50. a4 Kg5 51. Rd8 Ra3 52. Rd5+ Kf4 53. Rxh5 Ra2+ 54. Kd1 e3 55. Rh8 Ke4 56. Kc1 Kd4 57. Rd8+ Ke4 58. Kb1 Rh2 59. Rc8 Kd4 60. Rc2 Rh1+ 61. Kb2 Rh5 62. Kb3 Rh3 63. Kb4 Rh1 64. Ka5 Rh6 65. Be2 Kd5 66. Kb5 Rh1 67. a5 Rb1+ 68. Ka4 Rb8 69. a6 Ra8 70. Kb5 Rb8+ 71. Ka5 Kd6 72. Bb5 Rd8 1-0

The third round featured this game between the two Masters in the field.

David Vest (2200) – Michael Corallo (2371)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 a6 4. Bg2 b5 5. O-O Bb7 6. b3 Be7 7. d3 O-O 8. e4 d6 9. Nc3 Nfd7 10. Rb1 c5 11. Qe2 Bf6 12. Bb2 Nc6 13. cxb5 axb5 14. Nxb5 Nde5 15. Bxe5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. f4 Bf6 18. Rfc1 Qb6 19. a4 Rad8 20. Kh1 Ba6 21. Na3 g6 22. Nc4 Qb4 23. e5 dxe5 24. fxe5 Bg5 25. Rc2 Rd4 26. Be4 Rfd8 27. Qf3 Bxc4 28. Rxc4 Rxc4 29. dxc4 Qb8 30. h4 Bh6 31. Rf1 Rf8 32. a5 Bg7 33. a6 Bxe5 34. Kg2 Qb6 35. Bb7 Bb8 36. h5 Qd6 37. Rd1 Qe5 38. Rh1 Rd8 39. hxg6 Rd2 40. Kh3 hxg6 41. Rf1 Qh8 0-1

This is cutting edge theory being played here in the Deep South folks, as Bartosz Socko (2631) played 8…d5 against Hristos Banikas (2572) in Beijing at the 1st WMSG Blitz Pair, 10/08/2008, and lost. Vereslav Eingorn (2560) also played 8…d6 versus Bogomil Andonov (2415) at Uzhgorod in 1988 and won after 9. Nc3 b4 10. Ne2 c5 11. Ne1 Nc6 12. f4 a5 13. Nf3 a4 14. Rb1 axb3 15. axb3 Ra2 16. h3 Nd7 17. g4 Bf6 18. Bd2 g6 19. g5 Bg7 20. f5 Re8 21. f6 Bf8 22. Nf4 Nb6 23. Re1 d5 24. exd5 exd5 25. Rxe8 Qxe8 26. cxd5 Ne5 27. Ra1 Ra3 28. Rb1 Nxd5 29. Qe2 Nxf3+ 30. Bxf3 Qxe2 31. Bxe2 Ra2 32. Bf3 Nxf4 0-1
FYI, 365Chess calls this the, A13 English, Romanishin gambit.

The fourth round Sunday morning saw the grizzled veteran facing the new kid on the block.

David Vest (2200) – Albert Liang (2019)

1. c4 e6 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 b6 7. Bb2 Bb7 8. d3 c5 9. Nbd2 Nc6 10. a3 Nd7 11. Rb1 dxc4 12. Nxc4 Qc7 13. Qc1 Rac8 14. Qe3 Bf6 15. Ng5 Bxb2 16. Rxb2 Rb8 17. b4 cxb4 18. axb4 Nce5 19. Nxe5 Qxe5 20. Qxe5 Nxe5 21. Bxb7 Rxb7 22. Rc1 h6 23. Ne4 Rd7 24. f3 Ng6 25. Rbc2 Ne7 26. Kf2 Nd5 27. b5 Rfd8 28. Rc4 Kf8 29. Ra4 Rb8 30. Nd2 Ne7 31. Nc4 Rbb7 32. Rca1 f6 33. R1a3 Nf5 34. e3 Ke7 35. Ke2 Nd6 36. Nxd6 Kxd6 37. d4 Rbc7 38. Kd2 e5 39. Rd3 Ke6 40. dxe5 Rxd3 41. Kxd3 Kxe5 42. f4 Kd6 43. Rd4 Ke6 44. e4 Rc5 45. f5 Ke7 46. Ra4 Rxb5 47. Rxa7 Kf8 48. Ke3 Re5 49. Rb7 b5 50. Kd4 Kg8 51. Rc7 Kf8 52. Rc5 Re7 53. Rxb5 Ra7 54. Rb3 Ra2 55. h3 Ra7 56. Ke3 Kf7 57. Kf4 g5 58. Kg4 Re7 59. Rb4 Kg7 60. Kh5 Kh7 61. Rb6 Kg7 62. Re6 Rd7 63. e5 fxe5 64. Rxh6 Rd3 65. Rg6 Kf7 66. Kg4 e4 67. Re6 Re3 68. Rg6 Re1 69. Kxg5 e3 70. Re6 e2 71. g4 Rh1 72. Rxe2 Rxh3 73. Ra2 1-0

As Bobby Fischer famously said, “That’s what chess is all about. One day you give your opponent a lesson, the next day he gives you one.” (
Playing over this English brings back memories of the High Planes Drifter regaling us with tales of the daze he was moving around the left coast in LA and of GM Eduard Gufeld and NM Jerry Hanken, who loved playing 1 c4. Up through 4…Be7 365Chess shows this as “A13 English opening,” but when Mr. Vest played 5 0-0 it became a, “A14 English, Neo-Catalan declined.” 10…Nd7 is the new move. Previously the two most common moves have been Qc7 and Qd7, the move of Houdini, but the new World Chess Champion thing, known as Komodo, prefers 10…Re8, but what does IT know?

Albert drew with the always dangerous Carter Peatman in the last round to finish in a three-way tie for second place with Djordje Nedeljkovic, who is a provisionally rated NM after eighteen games, and Expert Sinclair Gray, all with a score of 3-2.

Jeremy Banta took clear first in the class A section, Matt Mayhew, from Tennessee was also clear first in the B class, as was Anthony John Morse in the C class, and Sanjeev Anand did the same in class D. Not to be outdone, Harold Blackmarr also won the below section, for everyone else, a half-point ahead of the pack.

Games can be found here:


The title of this post was found at the website of the “Millionaire Chess Open” (
What, exactly, is meant by an event being friendly toward children? This could, obviously, be interpreted in many different ways. I would ask GM Maurice Ashely to clarify exactly what is meant by “This event is child friendly.”
I must make an assumption because I am unsure of the meaning. Rob Jones, has wrote this on the USCF forum, “Today, 2014, kids make up about 70 % of the regular tournament participants.” (by DENTONCHESS on Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:05 am #282711;
It is obvious from the above that the Millionaire Open will fail unless it attracts a large percentage of children. The possibility of failing could be the reason for informing the world the event is friendly toward children. It is also apparent the people behind the Millionaire Open need children for the tournament to be successful. It would be honest to say the organizers need the money of the parents of those children in order to be successful. Such is the state of chess these days, for without children there are no longer enough adults to support big money chess tournaments. My question is, “Should children be allowed to play for large cash prizes?”
What amount of cash is considered “large?” Definitions will vary, but for the sake of argument I am going to consider the Millionaire Open to fall into the category of “large.” If your young Spud wants to play and you have faith in Spud going up against the adult wiley ol’ veterans, should you “ante up?”
If your little Spud played poker extremely well and wanted to enter the World Series of Poker he would not be allowed to play unless he was twenty-one years of age. Period. At the WSOP ( a player pays his money and takes his chances. He will sit down with the big dogs and play a game of skill until there is only one player, the winner, left standing.
If one enters his precocious Spud into the Millionaire Open, he will sit down to play a game of skill, hoping to win a large cash prize. Why is a child allowed to enter one, but not the other?
I am no lawyer, although I have previously done investigations for a one. I have no idea what the law is in the matter of children playing in big money chess events. I also know the law is subject to change at the whim of lawmakers, as happened when the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006 was passed, wreaking havoc and sending shock waves into the poker world from it has yet to recover.
“…the UIGEA was really the brainchild of two conservative senators-Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, and Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona- who’d come up with the ingenious plan of attaching it as a last-minute amendment to the Safe Port Act-no matter that Internet gambling had nothing to do with protecting U.S. ports from terrorists. The two antigambling senators, who had run for their positions on morality platforms, knew that trying to take down a pastime that millions of Americans were already enjoying was too difficult, so they’d concocted what was essentially a sneak attack.” Taken from the book, “Straight Flush: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a BILLION-DOLLAR ONLINE POKER EMPIRE-and How It All Came Crashing Down,” by Ben Mezrich.
Children have been allowed to play, and win, what is considered “big money” in the world of chess. What the chess world considers “big money” is considered “chump change” in the real world. It has not been enough to interest any self-serving politico, but that could change with the Millionaire Open. And if you do not believe even a politician would stoop to such a level as to use a child winning “big money” to his advantage, from what other alternate universe do you come?
I must leave the legal aspect alone because I do not have enough information on the subject. I do know there are fifty states, all with their own laws pertaining to this matter, and in addition, Federal laws, which constantly change. For example, during the Viet Nam conflict the eighteen year old boys (men?) rebelled against the law which prevented them from drinking alcoholic beverages until they reached twenty-one years of age, and because they did, the law was changed in many states, including the Great State of Georgia, allowing one to drink an “adult beverage” upon reaching the age of eighteen. After the conflict moral Republicans took control and changed it back to twenty-one, which is where things now stand.
The question I am posing is more of a “moral” question. Scientific studies, too numerous to site, have proven that a child’s brain is not yet fully developed. Should that child be allowed to battle grizzled ol’ veterans with fully developed brains? What effect does doing so have on the child? I am unaware of any studies on this subject. Young players, like World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, and Hikaru Nakamura, are exemplars of the efficacy of having precocious young boys participate with adults in the chess arena. What about all of those who do not make it? How are the ones who have left the arena affected? No one knows because nothing is heard of them once they have left the arena.
Bill Goichberg, owner of the Continental Chess Association, deems a player a “professional” as a player who has attained a rating of 2209 (or is it 2210?). What is a “professional?” I decided to check the dictionary and found this:
pro·fes·sion·al (pr-fsh-nl)
a. Of, relating to, engaged in, or suitable for a profession: lawyers, doctors, and other professional people.
b. Conforming to the standards of a profession: professional behavior.
2. Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career: a professional writer.
3. Performed by persons receiving pay: professional football.
4. Having or showing great skill; expert: a professional repair job.
1. A person following a profession, especially a learned profession.
2. One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation: hired a professional to decorate the house.
3. A skilled practitioner; an expert.
As I read the definition it seemed as though things were clear until the very last part. How does one define a “skilled practitioner” in the world of chess? Compared to the average Joe playing chess, a tournament player, such as the VP of the GCA, triple-digit rated Ben Johnson, may be considered by some to be a “beast” because he plays, or thinks he does, tournament chess. Then again, maybe not…How about the Prez, Fun Fong? He is about a 1400 player who has been known to pay his money and take his chances. Some would consider Mr. Fong to be “a skilled practitioner.” I am not one of them. How about yours truly? I somehow managed to crawl over the threshold into the “Expert” category. Should I be considered a “professional?” I think I can answer the question. I have known, and played, professional chess players. Some have been friends of mine, and I am here to tell you I am no professional. Yet, according to the definition I, or any other player who has crossed the 2000 threshold, could conceivably be considered a “professional.”
Regardless of his rating, is a ten year old “Spud” who has his entry fee paid by his parent(s) considered a “professional?” What about a fifteen year old? Years ago there was a young fellow, nicknamed “Hayseed” by the man from High Plains (not the Ironman as previously, and mistakenly, written) who won money in every section until he met his match in the class “A” section. Was he a “professional” chess player?
I do not have answers to these questions. I have often wondered why the question is never asked, much less discussed. As I sit here punching & poking at the keyboard the people who will have to decide these questions are gathered in Orlando at the US Open where the business of USCF is discussed. I cannot help but wonder how many of them have even entertained the question.

I Am a Hou YiFAN!

When I began playing chess seriously what now seems like a lifetime ago the French defense gave me trouble. The defense also gave Bobby Fischer trouble; the loss to Edmar Mednis comes to mind. I experimented with all the “tried and true” variations, but did not feel comfortable with any of them. then Branko Vujakovic, an exchange student in Atlanta from Yugoslavia, and a strong player, showed me the variation, 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Bd3!? White usually plays 5 c3, or even 4 c3. the idea is to sac a pawn for development after 5…cxd4 6 0-0. Although it has been called the Milner-Barry, it actually has no name, as far as I can ascertain. NiC has it listed under “C02,” while http://www.365chess also has it as “C02, advance, Nimzovich system.” I liked the variation because it was little known. Because of that I was able to score several knock-outs, including one over Roger Sample, may he R.I.P. The game was played in a tournament in the Great State of Tennessee. We both smoked cigarettes then and Roger suggested we play in his hotel room so we could smoke, and I wholeheartedly agreed. The TD allowed us to do so, with the proviso that, “If there any problems you are on your own as to how to settle it. I just want to know the outcome.” I sacked a Knight on f7 and attacked Roger like a wild man, winning the game. When I saw Roger decades later he said, “I still have Knightmares about your move.” I also recall being on the road with Branko somewhere, sometime, and playing the variation against an expert (with my being a class “D” player). I played like Branko had taught me, advancing my h-pawn, opening up his castled position. Someone my opponent knew was standing, looking at the position, when my opponent looked up and plaintively said, “Would you look at that. Hardly out of the opening and I’m busted…”
My chess “bible” was “Chess Openings: Theory and Practice” by I.A. Horowitz. This particular opening was listed under “UNUSUAL VARIATIONS.” I found that appealing. A variation from Alekhine-Euwe from Nottingham, 1936 is mentioned in the notes, but there was one full game:
Igor Bondarevsky v Mikhail Botvinnik
Absolute Championship Leningrad/Moscow 1941
Round: 2 Score: 0-1
ECO: C02 French, advance, Nimzovich system
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. O-O Bc5 7. a3 Nge7 8. Nbd2 Ng6 9. Nb3 Bb6 10. Re1 Bd7 11. g3 f6 12. Bxg6+ hxg6 13. Qd3 Kf7 14. h4 Qg8 15. Bd2 Qh7 16. Bb4 g5 17. Qxh7 Rxh7 18. exf6 gxf6 19. hxg5 e5 20. gxf6 Kxf6 21. Bd6 Re8 22. Nh4 Rg8 23. Kh2 Bf5 24. Re2 d3 25. Rd2 dxc2 26. f4 Be3 27. Bxe5+ Nxe5 28. fxe5+ Ke7 29. Rf1 c1=Q 0-1
This loss did not deter me from essaying the Nimzovich system. But my opponents began to study the opening and I needed to find another variation with which I was comfortable. “Seek and you shall find.” I sought, and found, the answer in “Theory and Practice.” You will not be surprised to learn I “discovered” the variation once again in the “UNUSUAL VARIATIONS” section. This is the only complete game with my new variation contained in T&P:
Mikhail Chigorin – Hermann Von Gottschall
Barmewi, 1905
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Nc3 d5 6. d3 d4 7. Nd1 Nf6 8. g3 b5 9. Bg2 Ba6 10. O-O Rc8 11. b3 c4 12. Ne1 cxd3 13. cxd3 O-O 14. Bd2 Qb6 15. Nf2 Nb4 16. Qd1 Bb7 17. a3 Nc6 18. g4 a5 19. g5 Nd7 20. Ng4 b4 21. a4 Nc5 22. Rf3 f5 23. gxf6 Bxf6 24. Rh3 Bd8 25. Rc1 Rc7 26. Rh5 Nb8 27. Ne5 Nbd7 28. Nc4 Qa6 29. Rb1 Nf6 30. Rh3 Ncd7 31. Nf3 Qa7 32. Qe2 Nc5 33. Nfe5 Ncd7 34. Kh1 Nxe5 35. fxe5 Ne8 36. Rg1 Rcf7 37. Qh5 g6 38. Bf3 Rg7 39. Qg4 Bc8 40. Bh6 Qe7 41. Be2 Bc7 42. Bxg7 Qxg7 43. Qg5 Bd7 44. Rhg3 Rf7 45. h4 Kh8 46. h5 gxh5 47. Bxh5 Qxg5 48. Rxg5 Rf8 49. Bf7 1-0
I was hooked. Who was Mikhail Chigorin? I tried to discover as much as possible about the player, and it was not easy “back in the day.” It took months, YEARS, to find all I could about the man responsible for 2 Qe2. Who would play such a move? What would GM Reuben Fine, PhD, say about a player who moves the Queen to e2 leaving the King in her rear? I managed to locate the games of the famous match between Siegbert Tarrasch and Chigorin in which the move Qe2 was played eleven times by the latter, scoring six wins, two draws, with three losses. 365Chess shows an astounding FIFTY games played by Chigorin with 2 Qe2 ( For this Mikhail had twenty five wins, ten draws, and fifteen losses.
After reading the above you may have an idea of how elated I was upon discovering Hou Yifan essayed Qe2 against Harika at the recently completed Lopata Women’s Grand Prix. It is rare to see a game with the early Quees move by such a strong player.
Hou Yifan – Dronavalli Harika
Lopota WGP 2014 Lopota GEO , Rd 8 2014.06.27
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 g6 6.O-O Bg7 7.c3 e5 8.a4 Nge7 9.Na3 O-O 10.Nc4 h6 11.d3 Be6 12.Bd2 Re8 13.h3 b6 14.Rfe1 Qd7 15.b4 cxb4 16.cxb4 d5 17.exd5 Bxd5 18.Nfxe5 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 Qb7 20.f4 Nf5 21.Qf2 Nd4 22.Rac1 Rad8 23.Bc3 Qa8 24.b5 Nb3 25.Rc2 Nc5 26.Bb4 Bxe5 27.Bxc5 Bxg2 28.Rxe5 Rxe5 29.fxe5 Bxh3 30.Bd6 Qd5 31.Qe3 Re8 32.Re2 Bg4 33.Qe4 Qxe4 34.Rxe4 Bf5 35.Rc4 Bxd3 36.Rc7 Ra8 37.Kf2 Bf5 38.Ke3 Be6 39.Kd4 g5 40.Rb7 h5 41.Rb8+ Rxb8 42.Bxb8 h4 43.gxh4 gxh4 44.Ke3 Bb3 45.Bxa7 Bxa4 46.Bxb6 Bxb5 47.Kf4 Bd7 48.Bd8 h3 49.Kg3 Be6 50.Bf6 Bf5 51.Bd8 Be6 52.Bf6 Bf5 53.Bd8 ½-½
8 a4 appears to be a TN. While researching the opening on and I found two games in which GM Kevin Spraggett, the man responsible for the best chess blog, “Spraggett on Chess” ( had to face 2 Qe2.
Lawrence A Day v Kevin Spraggett
C00 Toronto Summer op 2000
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. a3 Nge7 9. b4 O-O 10. Bb2 b6 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. d3 h6 13. Nbd2 Bb7 14. Nc4 Rad8 15. b5 Nb8 16. a4 d5 17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Re1 Rfe8 19. Qc2 Nd7 20. Qb3 N7f6 21. Nfxe5 Nh5 22. d4 Re6 23. Nc6 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Bxc6 25. bxc6 cxd4 26. cxd4 Qxc6 27. Ne5 Qe6 28. Rc1 Ndf4 29. Qxe6 Nxe6 30. Nc6 Rd7 31. Ne5 Rd8 32. Nc6 Rd7 33. Ne5 1/2-1/2
Igor Ivanov v Kevin Spraggett
C00 Montreal m 1981
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. b4 cxb4 9. cxb4 Nxb4 10. Nc3 Ne7 11. Rb1 Nbc6 12. Ba3 O-O 13. Nb5 Bg4 14. Nxd6 b6 15. Qc4 h6 16. h3 Be6 17. Qc2 Qd7 18. Kh2 Rfb8 19. Rfe1 Nc8 20. Nb5 a6 21. Nc3 b5 22. Nd5 N8e7 23. Rec1 Rb7 24. Qc5 Rab8 25. Bb2 Kh7 26. Nxe7 Nxe7 27. Bxe5 Rc8 28. Qe3 Bxa2 29. Rxc8 Qxc8 30. Ra1 Be6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. d4 Rb8 33. d5 Bd7 34. Qd4+ Kh7 35. Qf6 Qf8 36. Rxa6 Ng8 37. Qf4 b4 38. Ra7 1-0
Jaan Ehlvest – Robert Huebner
C00 Rubinstein mem 32nd 1995
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O d6 7. c3 e5 8. d3 Nge7 9. Nh4 O-O 10. f4 f5 11. Nd2 exf4 12. gxf4 Kh8 13. Ndf3 Be6 14. Ng5 1/2-1/2
Ian Nepomniachtchi (2704) v David Navarra (2722)
Event: 28th European Club Cup
Site: Eilat ISR Date: 10/12/2012
Round: 2
ECO: B40 Sicilian defence
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. Na3 Nge7 9. Nc2 O-O 10. Rd1 Qb6 11. b3 Be6 12. Bb2 c4 13. Ng5 cxb3 14. Ne3 bxa2 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Ba3 Qb3 17. Bxd6 Rfd8 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. Qc4 Qxc4 20. Nxc4 b5 21. Ne3 a5 22. Rxa2 b4 23. Rda1 b3 24. Rxa5 Rxa5 25. Rxa5 b2 26. Rb5 Rxd2 27. Bf1 Nc6 28. Nc4 Rc2 29. Rxb2 Rxc3 30. Bh3 Nd4 31. Rb8+ Kf7 32. Rb7+ Kf8 33. Bf1 Nf3+ 34. Kg2 Ne1+ 35. Kh3 h5 36. Rb1 Nf3 37. Kg2 Ng5 38. Rb8+ Ke7 39. Rb7+ Kf8 40. Nd6 h4 41. h3 Kg8 42. Be2 hxg3 43. h4 Bf8 44. Rb8 Nf7 45. Nxf7 Kxf7 46. fxg3 Rc2 47. Kf3 Bc5 48. Rb7+ Kf6 49. Bb5 Rf2+ 50. Kg4 Rb2 51. Bc6 Rxb7 1/2-1/2
Igor Glek (2575) v Stephen Brady (2320)
Event: EU-Cup 21st
Site: Saint Vincent Date: 09/20/2005
Round: 3 Score: 1-0
ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. c3 Bg7 7. h4 h5 8. d3 Bd7 9. Na3 Nh6 10. Nc4 Qc7 11. a4 Ng4 12. Ng5 Bh6 13. O-O Nge5 14. Ne3 f6 15. Nh3 Ne7 16. d4 Nf7 17. f4 cxd4 18. cxd4 Rc8 19. Bd2 Qb6 20. Bc3 Bg7 21. f5 gxf5 22. Nf4 Bh6 23. exf5 e5 24. Ned5 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qd8 26. dxe5 dxe5 27. Kh2 Bf8 28. Nf4 Be7 29. Ng6 1-0
I discovered Stoltz played Qe2 eleven times, winning four, losing five, with two draws. (
Goesta Stoltz – Mikhail Botvinnik
Staunton mem 1946
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Nge7 5. Nc3 g6 6. d3 Bg7 7. Be3 d5 8. exd5 Nd4 9. Qd2 exd5 10. Nce2 h6 11. Qc1 Bf5 12. c3 Nxe2 13. Nxe2 d4 14. Bd2 Bxd3 15. Bxb7 O-O 16. Bf3 g5 17. O-O Ng6 18. Re1 Ne5 19. Bg2 Ba6 20. Qd1 Nd3 21. Qa4 Qf6 22. f4 Rae8 23. Bc6 Nxe1 24. Bxe8 Nf3+ 25. Kf2 Nxd2 26. Bc6 Bxe2 27. Kxe2 dxc3 28. bxc3 Qxc3 29. Rd1 Rd8 30. Be4 gxf4 31. gxf4 Qh3 32. Rg1 Qh5+ 33. Ke3 Qh3+ 34. Ke2 Qxh2+ 35. Rg2 Qh5+ 36. Ke3 Qh3+ 37. Ke2 Qe6 0-1
White may not win every game, but every game will be interesting!