Make A Draw And Belly Up To The Bar

In the fourth round of the recently completed Hollywood Chess Norm Classic! ( the following game was played:

IM Victor Matviishen 2490

vs GM Aleksey Sorokin 2541
  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!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 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

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

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

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 ( 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,

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 ( 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.

NM Steven Cookley vs IM Victor Matviishen: US Open Round 7 Bishop’s Opening

Steven T Cookley (2216) vs IM Victor Matviishen (2575)
US Open 2021
Rd 7
C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. Nc3 O-O 5. Bg5 d6 6 Qf3 c6 7 Bxf6 Qxf6 8 Qxf6 gxf6 9 Nge2 a5 10 a3 b5 11 Ba2 Be6 12 Ng3 Nd7 13.Nce2 b4 14.a4 Rab8 15.Bc4 Bxc4 16.dxc4 b3 17.c3 Nb6 18.Nh5 Rfd8 19.Neg3 Nxc4 20.O-O-O d5 21.Nf5 Kh8 22.Nxf6 Nd6 23.Ng4 Nxf5 24.Nxe5 Ne7 25.Nxf7+ Kg7 26.Nxd8 Rxd8 27.Rd2 Rf8 28.exd5 cxd5 29.Kd1 Rf4 30.Re1 Rxa4 31.Re6 Ra1+ 32.Ke2 a4 33.Ra6 a3 34.bxa3 Ra2 35.Ra5 b2 36.Rb5 Bxa3 37.f4 Nf5 38.Kd3 Nd6 39.Rdxb2 Rxb2 40.Rxb2 Bxb2 41.Kd4 Nf5+ 42.Kd3 h5 0-1

1.e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 (SF play 3…c6) 4. Nc3 (SF & Komodo play 4 Nf3) 4…O-O (The Fish & the Dragon both prefer 4…c6) 5. Bg5 (SF plays 5 Nf3) 5…d6 (SF & Houdini play 5…h6) 6. Qf3 (When faced with the position after 5…d6 during a simul in 1928, the newly crowned World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine, calmly retreated his Bishop to the b3 square versus a player named Castella. The game can be found below. Stockfish and Komodo both play 6 Nd5, a move not found at the ChessBaseDataBase, but it can be found in the “Big Database” ( which contains games played by players of all levels. The CBDB contains mostly games played by titled and/or higher rater players. For what it’s worth, Fritz 17 @depth 27 would play 6 Qf3) 6…c6 7 Bxf6 Qxf6 8 Qxf6 gxf6 9 Nge2 a5 (9…b5 was played in the game Arnaudov vs Enchev below) 10 a3 (10. g4 was played in the game, Genzling vs Bjornsson, below)

All of the games below, excepting the Alekhine game, were located at the ChessBaseDataBase (

Luc Zimmermann 2146 NED vs GM Erik Van den Doel NED 2568
Amsterdam Science Park op-A

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 O-O 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qf3 d6 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.h3 h6 9.Bd2 a5 10.a4 Nb6 11.Ba2 Be6 12.Be3 Bxe3 13.fxe3 Bxa2 14.Rxa2 d5 15.O-O dxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Qxe4 Nd5 18.d4 Qg5 19.Ra3 Rae8 20.Rf5 exd4 21.Qf3 Qe7 22.Nxd4 Nxe3 23.Rf4 Nd5 24.Rg4 f5 25.Rg6 Qe1+ 26.Qf1 Nf4 27.Rd6 Qe5 28.Rd7 Rf7 29.Qc4 Nd5 30.Rxf7 Kxf7 31.Rf3 g6 32.c3 Kg7 33.Qc5 Nf6 34.Qb6 Re7 35.Nb3 Qd5 36.Nxa5 Re1+ 37.Rf1 Rxf1+ 38.Kxf1 Qd1+ 39.Kf2 Ne4+ 0-1

Petar Arnaudov 2002 BUL vs GM Ivajlo Enchev 2447 BUL
Albena Vivacom op

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 c6 5.Qf3 O-O 6.Bg5 d6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Qxf6 gxf6 9.Nge2 b5 10.Nxb5 d5 11.Bb3 a5 12.Nbc3 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Be7 14.g4 a4 15.Bc4 Kh8 16.h3 f5 17.gxf5 Bxf5 18.O-O-O Nd7 19.N4g3 Bg6 20.h4 h6 21.f4 exf4 22.Nxf4 Bh7 23.d4 Rg8 24.Nge2 Rg4 25.Rdg1 Rxh4 26.Bxf7 Rxh1 27.Rxh1 Bg5 28.Kd1 Be4 29.Rg1 Nf6 30.Ne6 Be3 31.Rg3 Bf2 32.Rh3 Ng4 33.Kd2 Bg2 34.Rc3 Nf6 35.Nc5 Rf8 36.Be6 Re8 37.Rd3 Ne4+ 38.Nxe4 Bxe4 39.Bf7 Rf8 40.Bh5 Bxd3 41.Kxd3 Rb8 42.b3 a3 43.Bf3 c5 44.d5 Re8 45.Be4 h5 46.Nf4 h4 47.Nh3 Bg3 48.Ng5 Kg7 49.Ne6+ Kf6 50.Bg2 Bd6 51.Kc4 Rg8 0 – 1

IM Alain Genzling 2264 FRA vs Sverrir O Bjornsson 2116 ISL
Reykjavik op 23rd

1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qf3 d6 7.h3 Be6 8.Bb3 Nbd7 9.Nge2 a5 10.g4 b5 11.a4 Bxb3 12.cxb3 bxa4 13.bxa4 Rb8 14.Rb1 Qe7 15.O-O Rb7 16.Ng3 Rfb8 17.Nf5 Qe6 18.Ne2 Rxb2 19.Rxb2 Rxb2 20.Neg3 d5 21.Be3 d4 22.Bc1 Rb3 23.Qd1 Bf8 24.Qd2 Nc5 25.Qxa5 Nxd3 26.Bg5 Rb8 27.Qa7 Rc8 28.Bxf6 Qxf6 29.Qa6 Rd8 30.Qxd3 g6 31.Rb1 c5 32.a5 gxf5 33.exf5 Qc6 34.Rb6 Qa4 35.Qd2 h6 36.Rxh6 Bxh6 37.Qxh6 f6 38.Nh5 Rd7 39.Nxf6+ Kf7 40.Nxd7 Qxd7 41.Qh7+ Ke8 42.Qxd7+ 1 – 0

IM Rasmus Skytte 2386 DEN vs Sixten Thestrup 1930 Den
Copenhagen Challenge

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Bg5 d6 6.Qf3 c6 7.Nge2 b5 8.Bb3 Nbd7 9.Ng3 h6 10.h4 Nb6 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.Qxf5 Qd7 13.Qxd7 Nbxd7 14.Bd2 Bd4 15.Nd1 a5 16.c3 Bb6 17.Ne3 g6 18.f3 a4 19.Bc2 a3 20.b3 d5 21.Nf1 Kg7 22.g4 h5 23.g5 Ne8 24.b4 Nd6 25.Bb3 d4 26.Rc1 Rac8 27.Ke2 c5 28.cxd4 c4 29.dxc4 Nxc4 30.Bxc4 bxc4 31.Ne3 exd4 32.Nxc4 1-0

Toni Preziuso 2306 SUI vs Boris Lenz SUI
SUI-ch22 Gr01 email

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 O-O 5.Bg5 c6 6.Qf3 d6 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Ng3 a5 9.a3 h6 10.h4 Nb6 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.Qxf5 Qd7 13.Bxf6 Qxf5 14.exf5 gxf6 15.Ne4 Nd7 16.Ba2 d5 17.Ng3 Rfb8 18.O-O b5 19.Rfd1 Kf8 20.Ne2 b4 21.a4 Ke7 22.g3 Bb6 23.Kg2 Nc5 24.Bb3 Rg8 25.Re1 Kd7 26.f3 h5 27.Ba2 Rg7 28.Bb1 Re8 29.c3 Nb7 30.Rh1 Nd6 31.cxb4 axb4 32.a5 Ra8 33.d4 Bxd4 34.Nxd4 exd4 35.b3 c5 36.a6 Kc6 37.Rc1 Kb5 38.a7 Rgg8 39.Rc2 c4 40.Rca2 Kc5 41.Kf2 d3 42.Ra6 Rge8 43.R1a2 Re7 44.g4 hxg4 45.h5 gxf3 46.Kxf3 Ne4 0-1

Alexander Alekhine

vs Castella
Event: Barcelona simul
Site: Barcelona Date: 1928

ECO: C26 Vienna game
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 O-O 5.Bg5 d6 6.Bb3 c6 7.Nf3 Be6 8.O-O Nbd7 9.d4 exd4 10.Nxd4 Qe7 11.Re1 Bxb3 12.axb3 Qe5 13.Nf3 Qe6 14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Nd4 Qe8 16.f3 Nf8 17.Nf5 Qd7 18.Bxc5 dxc5 19.Qe2 Qd2 20.Nd5 Qxe2 21.Nxf6+ gxf6 22.Rxe2 Ne6 23.c3 Nf4 24.Rc2 a6 25.g3 Ng6 26.f4 Rd7 27.Kf2 Rad8 28.Ke2 Rd3 29.Ra5 Nxf4+ 30.gxf4 Rh3 31.Kf1 Rf3+ 32.Rf2 Rxf2+ 33.Kxf2 Rd2+ 34.Ke3 Rxh2 35.Rxc5 Rxb2 36.b4 Rh2 37.e5 fxe5 38.Rxe5 h5 39.Re7 b6 40.Ra7 Rh3+ 41.Kd4 c5+ 42.bxc5 bxc5+ 43.Ke5 Rxc3 44.Kf6 Rf3 45.Nh6+ Kh7 46.Kg5 c4 47.Rxf7+ Kh8 48.Rc7 c3 49.Nf7+ 1-0