Anyone worth his salt teaching Chess will eventually get around to imparting the knowledge that a Chess player should examine all checks during analysis of any position. All good players do this without thinking about it, but new players need to have it reinforced that they should not only examine all possible checks to the opponent’s king but also to their own king. After this a good teacher will tell his student to examine all possible “checks”, or threats, to the Queen. For young players new to the game there is so much to consider that occasionally a student will overlook a check to the king or threat to the queen. When a world class player overlooks or does not take into consideration a possible check to the king it will be said that the player under discussion is “getting old” or “losing his powers,” or some such…

In the sixth round of the 2020 Gibraltar Masters  the young, born in 2005, making him a Zero, and up and coming  GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa,

from India, faced GM Veselin Topalov,

who some consider a former World Chess Champion. I am not one of them because Topalov won the FIDE World Championship, which was a match between second rate players. This is what is written about Topalov at Wikipedia:

“Topalov became FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. He lost his title in the World Chess Championship 2006 against Vladimir Kramnik.

He challenged Viswanathan Anand

at the World Chess Championship 2010, losing 6½–5½.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veselin_Topalov)

Wiki does not even mention the name of the player Topalov bested  to become FIDE WC, and, frankly, I have long since forgotten the name of the loser of the FIDE match. I can tell you the name of the opponents who played in each of the real world championship matches. I seem to recall Jan Timman losing one so-called “world championship” match, (I believe his opponent was Anatoly Karpov) but if my life depended on it I could not give you the name of Topalov’s opponent in the second rate FIDE WC match. Topalov was born in 1975, making him a member of Generation X.

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa vs Veselin Topalov

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 06

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be3 b6 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O cxd4 11. Nxd4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Nb8 13. Bf2 Ba6 14. Bxa6 Nxa6

15. f5? (15 Qe2 looks strong, and not just because the Queen is going to the e2 square)

15…exf5? (The kid shows his age. The Stockfish program at ChessBomb gives 15… Nb4 16. Rad1 Rc8 17. Be3 and only now exf5)

16. Nxd5 Nb4 17. c4 Rc8 18. a3 Nc6 19. Rfe1 Bc5 20. b4 Bxf2+ 21. Qxf2 Qd7 22. Qh4

22…Qd8? (Over at the Bomb this move is shown as a BRIGHT RED move, which is as bad as it gets, color wise. It is difficult to fathom a former world number one making a move this bad, no matter how old. Certainly, most, if not all, players would have analyzed the possible check on f6 before retreating the queen. Keep in mind that, “In 1984, when he was 63 and most of his contemporaries, like Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein,

had long ceased to be important players on the world stage, Mr. Smyslov

made it to the final candidates match to determine a challenger for Anatoly Karpov,

who was world champion at the time. He lost that match to Garry Kasparov,

then a prodigy in his early 20s; before the final, however, he dispatched two opponents who were both 30 years his junior.” https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/crosswords/chess/28smyslov.html23. Nf6+ gxf6 24. Rad1 Nxe5 25. Rxd8 Rfxd8 26. Qxf6 Ng6 27. h4 h5 28. Rf1 f4 29. g4 Rd3 30. gxh5 Rg3+ 31. Kf2 Nxh4 32. Qxh4 Rxc4 33. Re1 1-0




IM Pedro Antonio Gines Esteo (2284) vs GM Natalia Zhukova  (2338)

Gibraltar Masters 2020 round 05

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nd7 3. Bg2 e5 4. d3 Ngf6 5. O-O c6 6. c4 Bd6 7. a3 O-O 8. b4 Re8 9. Bb2 a5 10. c5 Bf8 11. Nbd2 b6 12. d4 exd4 13. Nxd4 bxc5 14. Nxc6 Qb6 15. Nxa5 Rxa5 16. Bxf6 cxb4 17. axb4 Bxb4 18. Rxa5 Qxa5 19. Nb3 Qb5 20. Ba1 Qxe2 21. Qxd5 Qe6 22. Qd4 Bf8 23. Bd5 Qg6 24. Qa4 Rd8

25. Rd1 (This is known as “Letting go of the rope.” This is a terrible move under any circumstances. Before making a move most players would ask themselves the question, “How will my opponent reply?” Seeing the queen can be attacked by the knight would be the first thing any player would spot. Every player simply MUST be able to see the knight moving to b6 will not only attack the queen but also fork the bishop. 25 Qa5, attacking the undefended rook looks good, as does the simple 25 Bg2. With the move played in the game the player of the white pieces fell into the abyss)) 25…Nb6 26. Qa5 Rxd5 27. Rxd5 Qb1+ 28. Kg2 Nxd5 29. Qxd5 Be6 30. Qd8 Qxb3 31. Bd4 Bd5+ 32. Kh3 Qf3 33. Bc5 Be6+ 0-1



A Track Called Jack
Armand Van Helden

Check the sound
Check it down
Check it through the underground

Check the place
Check the space
Check the track all in your face

Check the spot
Check it hot
Check with everything you got

Check the roof
Check the proof
Checks the ones that makes you move

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check the sound
Check it down
Check it through the underground

Check the place
Check the space
Check the track all in your face

Check the spot
Check it hot
Check with everything you got

Check the roof
Check the proof
Checks the one that makes you move

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check, check
Check, check
Check, check
Check, check

Check the sound
Check it down
Check it through the underground

Check the place
Check the space
Check the track all in your face

Check the spot
Check it hot
Check with everything you got

Check the roof
Check the proof
Checks the one that makes you move










The Moves That Matter Part 2: An Analogue Creature Floundering in a Digital World

An Analogue Creature Floundering in a Digital World

In chapter five, Cyborgs and Civilians: Algorithms are puppeteers, Dr. Rowson writes, “I was not yet aware that I would be a father the following year, but it was in that life context of beginning to detach from the chess world that I had the privilege of helping world champion Viswanathan Anand prepare for his match with Vladimir Kramnik.

When it became clear that the chess world was going to get the contest it wanted, I offered my services to Anand. I was a strong middleweight Grandmaster rather than a heavyweight, but analytical help is about more than chess strength. Unlike many hired guns, I had some lateral perspectives on chess, an easy rapport with Vishy, and I genuinely wanted him to win. The plan was to offer a few opening ideas for him to develop and some speculative psychological insight for him to ignore.”

“I was also eager to participate in preparation at the very highest level. I had no experience of World Championship preparation, but I had red descriptions of other matches from the seventies, eighties and nineties. Most of those matches were in pre-computer or early computer days, and what I assumed might be a slight shift in emphasis was much more fundamental. I imagined that the training would be part of over-the-board analysis session, part inquiry into the psychodynamics of competition, and part Rocky IV training montage, where Sylvester Stallone lifts huge blocks of wood and runs through the snow.

I expected the training to be roughly 20 per cent physical, 20 per cent psychological, 30 per cent on the computer. In fact, the work was about 95 per cent on the computer, and virtually all of that time was spent trying to help Vishy form new ways of achieving good positions in the opening phase of the game. Just as finding needle in a haystack is easy, if you have a metal detector, finding an important new chess move is easy, if you have the right software.”

“To give an illustration of how far the experience deviated from my expectations, I was in two minds about whether even to bring my computer to the training (a basic Sony Vaio laptop I had used for years). Very soon after arrival, before a pawn had been pushed, Vishy asked me: ‘How many cores do you have, Jon?”
‘Oh, I’m not sure,’ I said, which was clearly not a reassuring answer. Vishy talked me through finding the relevant details on my computer. When he saw it on my screen he paused ruefully and said: ‘Oh, Jon has only one core.’ Kasim (Rustam Kasimdzhanov)

and Peter (Heine Nielsen)

looked at each other, a little troubled. I had no idea what was going on, but it was as if I had arrived at the border to a new country, only to learn that my passport was not valid. Vishy looked mildly ruffled but said it did not matter, because it was possible to connect to online analysis engines – a mysterious notion at the time because I had never done that before, but is was a source of hope too. Alas, I then had painfully mundane problems relating to getting the wi-fi to work, and realized I was slowing the team down. I maintained a professional face, but inwardly I was approaching one of those childlike moments of absolute humiliation.”

There follows a description of what is a core, and what it does, culminating with, “It was only because I was literally up to speed with the others that I could enjoy several productive days at the camp. But I will never forget that feeling of being an analogue creature, floundering in a digital world.”

The author felt that way because, “The work however, happened as the four of us sat around the same table in our on worlds for several hours in a dimly lit room late into the night. The scene was like a Silicon Valley incubator house: humanoids with transfixed faces lit by the glow of computer screens.”

“Mostly we followed the best ideas according to the analysis engines with what Vishy joked was ‘space-bar preparation’ – when the analysis engines are synchronized with the position you are navigating, rather than move the pieces on the screen with your mouse, you press the space bar to keep the engine going down the line it deems to be most accurate for both sides, while watching it unfold on the position on the screen. It is a kind of thinking, I suppose.”

I found this rather sad because it sounds more like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel than real life. Some of my most interesting and enjoyable moments with Chess were those spent analyzing positions with one, or more, players. The arguments were exuberantly endless, and elevating. Maybe the variations were far from best but the interaction with fellow humans was wonderful. Something may have been gained with the coming of the digital age, but something much more important has been lost, never to return to the Royal game. As IM of GM strength Bois Kogan was fond of saying when looking at one of my games, “This is NOT CHESS!”

MVL Versus Magnus Carlsen: Fooling Caissa

Two consecutive tournament wins ahead of Carlsen

by André Schulz

Four players were at the top in the Norway Chess tournament at the start of round nine: Wesley So, Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura. Caruana and So met each other, while Carlsen was dealt black against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Nakamura faced off against Levon Aronian, also with black. Even Viswanathan Anand, with 3½ points, had chances jump into a tie for first with a win, although the 15th World Champion was black as well, against Sergey Karjakin.

Carlsen, was in no mood to take any chances against Vachier-Lagrave. When the game was in full swing on just move 17, the players began repeating moves in a position reached several times before. It certainly played a role that the two players trained together for Carlsen’s 2016 World Championship title defence, as Magnus himself pointed out in the “confession box” (in Norwegian):

The World Champion conceded half the point. Considering his chances to reach a tiebreak as about 50/50, he was content to watch his rivals fight it out.

Unfortunately, I do not understand Norwegian so the accompanying video could not be understood. What I do understand is that Magnus Carlsen, rather than fight like a World Champion, decided to be content with a draw. The decision by the HWCC was an insult to Caissa, and a disgraceful act unworthy of a World Champion. What kind of example has Magnus Carlsen set for all the children playing the Royal game? The above noted article at Chessbase seems to take the position, like most of the Chess world, that what Magnus did was perfectly acceptable. Chess is dying by draw, yet one hardly ever notices a discussion concerning the proliferation of draws. THERE ARE NO DRAWS IN THE ANCIENT ORIENTAL GAME OF GO! Before you send that nasty email, I am aware of the triple Ko situation in Go, in which the game is declared drawn. It happens about as often as a leap year, and when it does occur it makes news all around the Go world. Magnus did not have to agree to a draw; he did it because he is the HWC and can do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, without being called out by anyone involved with Chess. Magnus decided to rest on his laurels. As we say in America, Magnus CHICKENED OUT! I would have more respect for the HWCC if he had fought, and lost, while trying to win, rather than meekly acquiescing to a draw.

The moves in the game have been played so many times one cannot help but wonder if the fix was in…Was it a prearranged draw? Let us examine the “game.”

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

vs World Champ Magnus Carlsen

Altibox Norway Chess 2018

Last round, with all the marbles on the line.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a3 (Stockfish at the CBDB shows 8 a4 as the best move)
8…O-O (Although Komodo shows this as the best move, Houdini has 8…Na5 best)

9. Nc3 (One Stockfish program has this as best, but the other prefers 9 Ba2. Komodo shows 9 Re1 as best)

Na5 (The most often move played in this position is 9…Bg4, and it is the choice of the Dragon. Houdini would play 9…Rb8)

10. Ba2 Be6 11. b4 Bxa2 12. Rxa2 Nc6

13. Bg5 (Although the Stockfish program at ChessBomb shows this best at depth 21 after 30 seconds of ‘reflection’, the Stockfish program at the ChessBaseDataBase at depth 30 gives 13 Nd5. Komodo at depth 24 would play 13 h3)

13…Ng4 (SF at the Bomb has this in second behind 13…Nd7. The Fish and the Dragon at the CBDB would play 13…Qd7)

14. Bd2 (The SF at CBDB plays this move, but Komodo would play 13 Be3, a TN. Meanwhile, the SF at ChessBomb would play 14 Bxe7)


(Let us stop here too reflect a moment. If the Royal game had the Ko rule, as does Go MVL would not be allowed to play 15 Bg5 and repeat the position. MVL would be forced to play elsewhere)

15.Bg5 (SF at CBDB plays 15 Re1; SF at DaBomb would play either 15 Qb1 or Ra1)

Ng4 16. Bd2 Nf6 17. Bg5 1/2-1/2

Pathetically pitiful…

From the above it is apparent there was a plethora of choices each player could have chosen, had they been inclined to do so. They were not so inclined, for whatever reason. To their credit, fellow countrymen Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So played a full-bodied game of Chess, with neither backing down and offering a draw. THEY PLAYED TO WIN!

Magnus Carlsen embarrassed himself and his reputation with his servile acquiescence to split the point. Magnus took a page out of the old Soviet Union Chess playbook when he decided to not fight in the last round of a major tournament held in HIS OWN COUNTRY! Oh, the SHAME…

Since the candidates tournament I have vacillated between the choice of Magnus versus Fabiano to win the upcoming World Human Chess Championship. The fact is that Caruana has shown much more fighting spirit in the tournaments in which the two have battled since the candidates tournament. Fabiano Caruana has demonstrated tremendous FIGHTING ability recently. We Chess fans can only wish the WCC were longer, as in the past. Mikhail Botvinnik considered sixteen games the optimum number of games, and who would know better than the Botvinnik? If it were a sixteen game match, without any speed games in case of a tie, I would wager on Fabi. Magnus is a much superior speed Chess player, so Magnus has draw odds going into the match, which is an unfair advantage. Speed Chess is NOT Chess! It is ABSURD to settle a WCC with speed games. I have often heard that “speed kills.” Speed Chess is killing the Royal game! The title of WCC should NOT be won by playing speed Chess!

Authorities Crack Down On Go Players Using Phones

It was just a matter of time as far as I was concerned until the Go community would be forced to take action when I posted on Go forums prophesying about the actions which would be necessary in the near future to prevent cheating with use of computer programs during play. This was before the rise of AlphaGo and I was excoriated unmercifully for even saying such a thing. After all, Go was not Chess, and most so-called “experts” were predicting it would be another decade before any computer program would rival even lower level Dan players. In reality it was closer to ten months before the Go community was in for a “rude awakening.”

Chess GM Alexander Morozevich, who has also been in the news for playing Go recently, spoke about this in a recent interview with Murad Amannazarov when he was asked, “So it’s only a hobby?” Morozevich answered the question, “Well, of course it’s a hobby. Go can’t be my profession, I understand that perfectly well. It’s not that I’ve been disappointed in chess and decided to start from scratch, because it’s clear that I’ve got neither the time, opportunity nor anything else in order to become a professional there. For me it feels more like I’ve learned a foreign language i.e. if I learned something like Spanish, Chinese, Arabic or some other language I’d also need to practice it from time to time and that, of course, would surprise no-one. It turned out that I “learned a language” – I got acquainted with playing Go, it really drew me in and it’s the first game after chess that has really enthralled me. To some extent I’ve learned to play it, which by analogy is like someone more or less acquiring a language at a beginner level. Then he travels either to the country or finds some native speakers, or he reads books i.e. he develops that in some way. I do more or less the same: I go along, I chat, sometimes I play tournaments, but it’s clear that it’s only as a hobby, of course. It’s not a new job, or a new profession, or a new path. At least from the point of view of achieving any results I don’t have any illusions. I’m 40 years old and that would be extremely naïve. I understand perfectly well that there are roughly ten thousand 10-year-old Go players who would beat me. Therefore you have to understand that if you’re competing with millions and among them you’re roughly in the 4th million, or something like that, then no doubt there’s no point having any great illusions.

A different issue is that somehow I see very similar processes in what Go is going through and what happened in chess 10-15 years ago. That’s all happening to them and is comparable to what happened to us – it’s not even retro-analysis but as if you have another view of the process that we already saw in chess. When the first computers came along they gradually gained momentum, became stronger and stronger, and the way chess players reacted to that then, what they expected of where it would lead, how they began to use them – the same is now happening, the same computer revolution, only it’s as if it’s only just begun. Until 2015 that was the only intellectual game in which professionals were stronger than machines, and only in the last year or year and a half have the first harbingers appeared saying that yes, the end of Go has come. For now it’s not quite formalized, but gradually, I think, they’ll follow the same path that we followed in chess. Machines, of course, will take up an absolutely dominant position, despite the fact that of course the calculating algorithms, the evaluation algorithms are quite different. As far as I understand it the algorithm used by AlphaGo, the most successful program, is a Monte Carlo algorithm. That was also one of the main computational approaches in chess, but it didn’t become common. Machines reached a maximum of 2400 with that. After all, our game is about more direct selection, while there it was possible even to use that algorithm, which is quite interesting.”

I highly recommend anyone interested in either game read this excellent interview with one of the more interesting minds in the world of games.

An article published recently in the Global Times:

Authorities getting stricter about Go players using their phones at a match in China

China’s top authority for the game Go recently announced a ban on phones at Go matches in response to the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the sport.

According to a notice released by the Chinese Weiqi Association (CWA) on Tuesday, “during matches, players are not allowed to have or watch mobile phones and any other electronic devices. If they are found with one of the devices, they will be judged losers immediately.”

Players are also forbidden to leave the room during a break in the matches, unless they have special needs and are acccompanied by a judge.

For team events, if the team leaders or coaches use AI technology in connection with the match, the entire team’s score for the round will be declared invalid.

The new regulation covers all upcoming matches of China’s professional Go league in 2017, with further expected in 2018.

AI technology has been used on some board games with great success.

On a related note, Georgian chess champion Gaioz Nigalidze was thrown out of the Dubai Open in 2015 for regularly leaving the table to check his mobile phone which he had hidden in a toilet cubicle, the Washington Post reported.

AlphaGo, a Google AI program, claimed a 3-0 clean sweep on May 27 over China’s Ke Jie, the current world No.1 Go player, after defeating many other top players.

“AlphaGo has done a splendid job,” 19-year-old Ke, a native of Lishui, Zhejiang, told a postgame press conference.

Go, or weiqi in Chinese, involves two players who take turns putting white and black stones on a grid of 19 x 19 lines. Victory over an opponent involves advancing over more territory on the grid.


If caught cheating I assume the perpetrator would be forced to do a “perp walk” with the only question being, “Would you like a blindfold?” There are some, if not most, officials in FIDE, such as Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who would dispense with the blindfold and even possibly even the perp walk. For those unaware, Canadian GM Anton Kovalyov, after knocking former World Human Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand out of the World Cup, was accosted by the bombastic organizer of the event, GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili for wearing Bermuda shorts even they are deemed acceptable by the world Chess organization, FIDE, a few minutes before beginning the game with his next opponent. As stated by numerous witnesses, Azmaiparashvili’s unnecessary diatribe would have rattled even the most stable Chess player.


See also the article Psychopathy in Tbilisi, by GM Kevin Spraggett on his excellent blog in which he prints the official FIDE rule:

3 Dress code for players during games in progress

3 a. The following is acceptable for men players, captains, head of delegation.

Suits, ties, dressy pants, trousers, jeans, long-sleeve or shirt-sleeve dress shirt, alternatively T-shirts or polo, dress-shoes, loafers or dressy slip-ons, socks, shoes or sneakers, sport coat, blazer, Bermuda shorts, turtleneck, jacket, vest or sweater. Team uniforms and national costumes clothing.


Another excellent commentary of the sordid affair is: https://laregledujeu.org/arrabal/2017/09/10/8209/a-n-t-o-n-k-o-v-a-l-y-o-v-grand-maitre-international/

Magnus Carlsen’s Brain

One of the things listed under favorites on my computer is “brain science,” a subject with which I have been fascinated most of my life. The most recent article to be included was, “Studying Oversize Brain Cells for Links to Exceptional Memory,” by Carl Zimmer, dated Febuary 12, 2015, in the New York Times. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/science/studying-oversize-brain-cells-for-links-to-exceptional-memory.html?hpw&rref=science&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0)

“In 2010, a graduate student named Tamar Gefen got to know a remarkable group of older people. They had volunteered for a study of memory at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Although they were all over age 80, Ms. Gefen and her colleagues found that they scored as well on memory tests as people in their 50s. Some complained that they remembered too much. She and her colleagues referred to them as SuperAgers.”

“Recently, Ms. Gefen’s research has taken a sharp turn. At the outset of the study, the volunteers agreed to donate their brains for medical research. Some of them have died, and it has been Ms. Gefen’s job to look for anatomical clues to their extraordinary minds.”

“Ms. Gefen and her colleagues are now starting to publish the results of these post-mortem studies. Last month in The Journal of Neuroscience, the scientists reported that one of the biggest differences involves peculiar, oversize brain cells known as von Economo neurons. SuperAgers have almost five times as many of them as other people.”

“Learning what makes these brains special could help point researchers to treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of mental decline. But it is hard to say how an abundance of von Economo neurons actually helps the brain.”

“We don’t know what they’re doing yet,” said Dr. Mary Ann Raghanti, an anthropologist at Kent State University who was not involved in the new study.”

“As soon as the Northwestern scientists began enrolling SuperAgers in their study in 2007, the team took high-resolution scans of their brains. The SuperAgers had an unusually thick band of neurons in a structure called the anterior cingulate cortex, the scientists found; it was 6 percent thicker on average than those of people in their 50s.” (The anterior cingulate cortex, also known as Area 25, is a region that is located towards the front of the corpus callosum, in the medial frontal lobe. This region is involved in decision making and emotional regulation as well as vital to the regulation of physiological processes, such as blood pressure and heart rate. In particular, the key functions of the anterior cingulate cortex revolve around:

Detection of errors or shortfalls from some standard (Nieuwenhuis, Ridderinkhof, Blom, Band, &; Kok, 2001)
Anticipation and preparation before task performance
Regulation of emotions. http://www.psych-it.com.au/Psychlopedia/article.asp?id=263)

“Scientists have found von Economo neurons in only a few other mammals, such as apes, whales and cows.”

“John M. Allman of Caltech, who has studied von Economo neurons for 20 years, suspects that the neurons provide long-distance transmission of nerve impulses. The large size of the cells helps maintain electrical signals as they travel across the brain.

“My guess is they represent a fast relay,” he said.”

Noice that after “20 years” Mr. Allman “suspects” and has to “guess.” This is cutting-edge brain science in its infancy. The next paragraph jumped out, causing me to consider some of the things other elite chess players have said about World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. Consider what the former World Human Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand, had to say after losing the second match for the Crown against Magnus, “My nerves were the first to crack.” (http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2014/11/23/magnus-carlsen-repeats-at-world-chess-championship/)

There is also this, “In a battle of nerves Norwegian World chess champion Magnus Carlsen held up his own better, said the losing challenger from India Viswanathan Anand on Sunday.” (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/magnus-carlsen-held-up-his-nerves-better-anand/514494-5-23.html)

In an interview by Colin McGourty at Chess24 GM Levon Aronian was asked, “What’s behind the phenomenon of Magnus Carlsen, who seized the chess crown?” Levon answered by saying, “I’d say it’s all about his incredible calm and nerves which, strangely enough, failed him at times in the recent World Championship match. But overall Magnus’ main secret is his composure and the absence of any soul-searching after mistakes during a game. At times, after all, you blunder and then hate yourself, saying: “You should be ashamed of yourself – children are watching”. But Carlsen doesn’t have that. He fights to the end, even if he’s playing badly.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/aronian-magnus-main-secret-is-his-composure)

From where does this “incredible calm and nerves” emanate? Could it be that Magnus Carlsen has oversized brain cells, specifically, brain cells known as von Economo neurons? Consider this written in New In Chess 2014/5, about Magnus, “Carlsen knows how to control his emotions, as can be gleaned from his lack of fear, no matter how tense the situation gets on the board.” This can be found in “NIC’s Cafe under “Total Control.” The article continues, “We saw a fine demonstration of his ‘mental control’ during the first free day of Norway Chess, when the players visited a school tournament and some of them were tempted to play Brainball. In Brainball, two players sit opposite each other wearing a headband that registers their brain activity. The aim is to reduce your brain activity as much as possible, as this will set a little ball moving towards your opponent. Once it reaches your opponent, you win. Of the grandmasters that had a go at Brainball, Aronian and Carlsen were the best at relazing their brains, but in their direct encounter the World Champion was in a class of his own. The cursor that indicated his mental activity dropped so low that an admiring colleague sighed:’Incredible. He seems to have total control of his brain.'”

Russian President Vladimir Putin Accused of Murder

There is an article by Jane Croft on the Financial Times website, dated Jan. 27, 2015, “Putin accused of presiding over ‘mafia state’ at Litvinenko probe.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin was on Tuesday accused at the opening of an inquiry into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko of presiding over a “mafia state” with links to organised crime syndicates in Spain.”

This man, RasPutin, is the power behind the world chess federation known as FIDE. This is also the man seen hobnobbing with the chess elite, including the World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and the man he vanquished for the title, Viswanathan Anand. (http://www.sochi2014.fide.com/closing-ceremony) Is it any wonder the public has tuned out the Royal game?


The article continues, “Ben Emmerson QC, representing Litvinenko’s widow Marina at the public inquiry, claimed that the evidence for Litvinenko’s “horrifying assassination” by a radioactive isotope “all points in one direction” and was only likely to have happened “on the order of very senior officials in the Russian state”.

In a hard hitting speech, Mr Emmerson claimed that Litvinenko was killed “partly as an act of political revenge for speaking out, partly?.?.?.?as a message of lethal deterrence to others and partly to prevent him giving evidence in a criminal prosecution in Spain that could have exposed Putin’s direct link to an organised criminal syndicate in that country”.

Mr Emmerson claimed that the events showed the “unlawfulness and criminality at the very heart of the Russian state”.

“The intimate relationship that will be shown to exist between the Kremlin and Russian organised crime syndicates are so close as to make the two effectively indistinguishable,” Mr Emmerson claimed.

“The startling truth, which is going to be revealed in public by the evidence in this inquiry, is that a significant part of the Russian organised crime around the world is organised directly from the office of the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a mafia state,” Mr Emmerson alleged to the inquiry.

Mr Emmerson added that Litvinenko had been a “marked man” since giving a press conference in Moscow alleging national security service FSB corruption and Mr Putin was a “ruthless and deadly enemy” to Litvinenko, Mr Emmerson claimed.

“The evidence all points one way,” Mr Emmerson said claiming that the two main suspects implicated in the poisoning had “links to Putin’s inner circle”.

Mr Emmerson said he believed the inquiry would show not just a trail of polonium from London to Moscow but a trail leading “directly to the door of Putin’s office” and Mr Putin would be “unmasked” by the inquiry “as a common criminal dressed up as a head of state.”

The former Russian spy, who died after ingesting radioactive polonium 210, may have been poisoned “not once but twice”, the inquiry into his death was told.

Sir Robert Owen, chairman of the public inquiry, said the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death brought in to focus issues of the “utmost gravity”, which had attracted “worldwide interest and concern”.

The inquiry, which is due to last for 10 weeks, will look at the circumstances around the death of Litvinenko who was allegedly poisoned as he sipped green tea at Mayfair’s Millennium Hotel in November 2006.

The death of Litvinenko sent relations between the UK and Russia to a post-cold war low, with diplomats expelled by both sides.

Russia has long denied claims, attributed to Litvinenko on his deathbed and repeated by his friends and family, that Moscow ordered his death after the Kremlin critic was granted asylum in the UK.

UK prosecutors had accused two Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun of the murder. They have strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Russia has refused to extradite them under the terms of its constitution.

Robin Tam QC, counsel to the public inquiry, told the hearing that scientific evidence will be presented to the inquiry that appeared to show that Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium “not once but twice”.

As well as a November 2006 meeting at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel, the hearing was told an earlier poisoning attempt may have been made at a meeting weeks earlier.

Samples from Litvinenko’s hair show that he may have been poisoned twice with the first attempt much less successful, Mr Tam told the hearing.

Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun were present at two meetings with Mr Litvinenko — including at the Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Litvinenko, who converted to Islam before he died, claimed to police on his deathbed that he believed he had been targeted by the Russian security services on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to details of his police interview conducted just before he died and read out to the hearing.” (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/998d690c-a62c-11e4-9bd3-00144feab7de.html)

An article, “What’s Been the Effect of Western Sanctions on Russia?” appeared on the PBS website as a companion piece to the hard hitting documentary, “Putin’s Way.”

“When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last March, the United States and European Union responded with an economic weapon — sanctions.

The first few rounds, applied in March and April of 2014, targeted Russian and Crimean officials, as well as businessmen seen to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin — his “inner circle” — with travel bans and asset freezes.

Since then, the West has steadily expanded its sanctions against Russian entities, targeting major businesses and parts of Russia’s financial, energy and military industries.

FRONTLINE talked to Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, on Jan. 8, 2015 about the effects and consequences of Western sanctions on the Russian economy. Åslund served as an economic adviser to the Russian and Ukrainian governments in the 1990s.
Which round of sanctions do you think really had an effect on the Russian economy? How would you measure that?

The sanctions the U.S. imposed came in two big chunks. The first concerned Crimea, and they were only personal sanctions for Crimean and Russian leaders involved in the Crimean drama.

Then, the important sanctions were imposed on July 16, which are called sectoral sanctions.

We can see that no money has been going into Russia after July. No financial institutions dared to provide Russia with any financing more than a month after that. And that we know from talking to banks. …

The point is that the [July] financial sanctions have worked out as far more severe in their effect than anyone seems to have believed.
Would sanctions alone have damaged Russia’s economy without the current plunging oil prices?

There are three major causes for Russia’s economic troubles. The first cause is the corruption and bad economic policies that Putin pursues, which on their own would lead to stagnation, or at most 1 percent growth.

The second element is the falling oil prices. The oil prices have now fallen so much that Russia’s total export revenues this year will be two-thirds of what they have been before. That means that Russia will have to cut its imports by half. This is a big blow.

This is then reinforced by the financial sanctions, so that Russia cannot mitigate this blow by borrowing money. By ordinary standards, Russia is perfectly credit-worthy with a public debt that is only 10 percent of GDP. But if you don’t have access to financial markets, then it doesn’t matter how credit-worthy you are, because you’re not credit-worthy so-to-say.

[Editor’s Note: On Jan. 9, Fitch Ratings cut Russia’s credit rating to BBB-, one step above junk.]”

Vladimir RasPutin has become a pariah. The world will watch as he is consigned to oblivion because he, and his friends, like FIDE President Kirsan the ET, is on his way off of the world stage. He is learning first hand something a fellow Georgian, Martin Luther King Jr., said decades ago. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Garry Kasparov must be following these events closely. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “For the loser now will be later to win/
For the times they are a-changin’.

The Kalmykian Bullshitter

FIDE is a corrupt organization. The President of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is a despotic President of a small, impoverished country of which he has said, “Kalmykia is a Mongolian-speaking, Buddhist Republic…in Europe.” As GM Nigel Short points out in the article, “Tyranny,” in New In Chess 2014 #5, “The most revealing thing about Kirsan’s statement is that it is false. The dominant language in Kalmykia is Russian, and not Mongolian. Alas, it would soon becomes clear that a cavalier disregard for veracity is very much Kirsan’s hallmark…Misrepresentations, distortions, false promises and even downright lies all regularly flow from the lips of his cherubic face.”

Nigel continues, “Warning signs were all there for any who cared to notice. The announcement that the 1996 Kamsky-Karpov World Championship would take place in Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad should have jolted and worried even the most apathetic observer. Indeed, the backlash against this planned move was so great that Kirsan was obliged to recant and implausibly claim that the whole idea had been a joke. That same year, Hans Ree wrote (in New In Chess, issue 1 p.40-44) about Kirsan’s despotic abolition of the Kalmykian constitution. He also reported the detailed allegations of Larisa Yudina, editor of the opposition newspaper Sovietskaya Kalmykia, that Kirsan was looting the state cofers, In 1998, shortly before the Elista Olympiad, Ms. Yudina would be found murdered in a ditch, with multiple knife wounds. Two of Kirsan’s aides would be convicted of this horrific crime. Criticism of Ilyumzhinov could literally be fatal. By macabre coincidence, one chapter of Kirsan’s autobiography published that same year was entitled ‘It only takes two weeks to have a man killed.’

GM Short ends the article, written before the election, “After 19 years in office, the morally bankrupt Kirsan regime has shown that it will stop at nothing to remain in power. I have deliberately refrained from emphasising that Kirsan enjoys the full backing, with attendant diplomatic support, of his controversial President, Vladimir Putin. There is more than ample reason to vote for change without needing to take a stand on internal Russian politics.”

In the next issue of New In Chess, 2014 #6, the best chess magazine ever published, the title of Nigel’s article, written after the election, is “Long Walk to Freedom.” It begins, “Unless you are on the FIDE payroll, it is hard to take any positives out of the 2014 Presidental Election.”

After reading, “The election is held by secret ballot, so any attempt to break down support by region comes with the important caveat that no one can be absolutely certain how votes were cast…,” my thoughts drifted back to something written in the aforementioned piece, “The truth of the matter is that Kirsan is only certain to win one continent-America.”

How can this be? What kind of inducements would cause my continent to vote for such a reprehensible candidate? Did the US vote for this petty tyrant?

Concerning the role of Russian Czar Vladimir Putin in this Nigel writes, “Russian intervention had been a factor in previous elections, but to nowhere near the same degree. On this occasion, the entire diplomatic service had been mobilised to ensure a Kirsan victory. In several federations it was the decisive factor. Kasparov had known all along that he would be up against the machinery of the Russian state, but even he underestimated its force and how important this would become.”

In life, like chess, there is a winner and there is a loser. In this case the despotic dictators won; the Royal game lost.

Nigel ends the aftermath by writing, “Curiously, for a man who has been re-elected by a thumping margin, the position of Kirsan is perhaps the least secure of all. The smart money is now on him being replaced by Filatov well before 2018. There have been previous, abortive plots to remove Kirsan, even by his supposedly loyal lieutenants. Already on the 27th May 2013, Makropoulos and Vega were at the Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel in Moscow negotiating with David Kaplan, FIDE’s CEO of Development, on behalf of an un-named oligarch, to replace the ‘Kalmykian bullshitter.’ The proposed price? A cool $26 million.”

One glance at the price of petrol tells you that little man Putin is on his way out. A war is being waged between Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin and the rest of the world. It is an economic war and with every drop in the price at the pump another nail is driven into the coffin of the Russian economy. Putin is a dead man walking. This is great news for chess because when putrid Putin goes, so goes Kirsan the E.T.

It has been written that the World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, agonized over signing the contract to defend his recently won championship over former World Human Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand. In the end he did sign on the dotted line. It would have been better if he had not gotten into bed with the Russian call girls, Vladie and Etta. The two former World Human Chess Champions were used and their reputations have been besmirched, while the credibility of the Royal game has been tarnished.


Up Against the Berlin Wall

In Chess Informant 118 Garry Kasparov writes, “The sharp character of these games shows the Berlin is indeed a rich and subtle middlegame, and not an endgame. And if White pushes too hard, the absence of queens from the board does not offer him any safety.” (http://www.chess.com/article/view/kasparov-on-berlin-defense)

In a recent article on the Chessbase website, “Kasparov: The quality of the games was not so high,” Garry wrote, “On a personal note, I find it ironic that 14 years after I was criticized for not beating Vladimir Kramnik’s Berlin Defense, when I lost my title in London, the Berlin has become an absolute standard at the highest level. Amateurs may find it boring, but it is really not an endgame at all, but a complex queenless middlegame that can be very sharp, as we saw in the final Carlsen-Anand game.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/kasparov-the-quality-of-the-games-was-not-so-high)

As an amateur, I concur with Garry. The Berlin, with its concomitant early Queen exchange, is boring. The elite players play a different game from that played by the hoi poi. The commentators know this and go overboard in trying to inject some “excitement” into the Berlin for the fans, or at least the ones still awake.

The Legendary Georgia Ironman has for decades told students that an early Queen trade usually, in general terms, favors Black. Understood is the fact that, sans Queen, Black will not be checkmated early in the game. It goes without saying that the Berlin, as Tim has been heard to say, “Fits my style.” Why then give Black what he wants by trading Queens?

There are many ways of battling the Berlin without trading Queens. The Great man, Emanuel Lasker, showed the way in an 1892 match played in the USA:

Emanuel Lasker vs Jackson Whipps Showalter

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bc5 5. Bxc6 bxc6 6. Nxe5 O-O 7. c3 a5 8. d4 Ba6 9. Qf3 Re8 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Nd2 Rb8 12. b3 Qc8 13. c4 Bd8 14. O-O c5 15. Qh3 Re6 16. Nef3 Nxe4 17. Nxe4 Rxe4 18. Bxd8 Qxd8 19. Qf5 Qe7 20. Rae1 Re6 21. d5 g6 22. Qf4 Qd6 23. Qxd6 Rxd6 24. Ng5 a4 25. Ne4 axb3 26. axb3 Rxb3 27. Nxd6 cxd6 28. Rc1 Rb4 29. Rb1 Bxc4 30. Rxb4 cxb4 31. Rd1 Ba2 32. Rd2 b3 33. Rb2 Kg7 34. f4 Kf6 35. Kf2 g5 36. Kf3 h6 37. Ke4 Kg6 38. f5+ Kf6 39. g4 Ke7 40. Kd4 Kf6 41. Ke4 Ke7 42. Kd3 Kf6 43. Kd4 Kg7 44. Kc3 h5 45. gxh5 Kh6 46. Re2 b2 47. Rxb2 Bxd5 48. Rd2 Be4 49. Rxd6+ Kxh5 50. f6 Bf5 51. Kd4 Be6 52. Ke5 g4 53. Rd3 Kg6 54. Rd2 Kg5 55. Rf2 Kg6 56. Kd6 Kg5 57. Ke7 Kh5 58. Re2 Kg6 59. Re5 Bb3 60. Rb5 Be6 61. Rb6 Bc4 62. Rb8 Be6 63. Rh8 Kg5 64. Rh7 d5 65. Rxf7 Bxf7 66. Kxf7 d4 67. Kg7 d3 68. f7 1-0

4 Qe2 versus the Berlin should be called the “Lasker variation” against the Berlin. Here is another game with the Lasker variation in which a player well-known for playing Qe2 against the French tried it versus the Berlin:

Mikhail Chigorin vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Budapest 1896

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 d3 7. cxd3 dxe5 8.
Nxe5 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Bxc6 Bxd2+ 11. Nxd2 bxc6 12. Nxc6 Qd6 13. Ne7+ Kh8 14.
Nxc8 Raxc8 15. O-O Rfd8 16. Ne4 Qxd3 17. Qxd3 Rxd3 18. Nxf6 gxf6 19. Rfd1 Rcd8
20. Rxd3 Rxd3 21. g3 Rd2 22. Rc1 Rxb2 23. Rxc7 Rxa2 24. Rxf7 Ra6 25. Kg2 Kg8
26. Rb7 Ra2 27. h4 a6 28. Kf3 h5 29. Rc7 Ra5 30. Kf4 Kf8 31. f3 Kg8 32. Ra7 Kf8
33. g4 hxg4 34. fxg4 Ra1 35. Kf5 Rf1+ 36. Kg6 Rf4 37. g5 fxg5 38. hxg5 Ra4 39.
Ra8+ Ke7 40. Kh6 a5 41. g6 Ra1 42. g7 Rh1+ 43. Kg6 Rg1+ 44. Kh7 Rh1+ 45. Kg8
Ra1 46. Ra7+ Ke8 47. Ra6 Rh1 48. Rxa5 Re1 49. Rh5 Rg1 50. Re5+ Kd7 51. Kh7 1-0

A few more games in chronological order:

Mikhail Tal vs Viktor Korchnoi
Candidates SF, Moscow, 1968

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 a6 5. Ba4 Be7 6. O-O b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 b4 9. d3 d6 10. Nbd2 Bg4 11. Qe3 Na5 12. Ba2 c5 13. Nc4 Nc6 14. h3 Bd7 15. Qe2 Rb8 16. Bb3 Ne8 17. Ne3 Na5 18. Bd5 Nc7 19. Bd2 Nxd5 20. Nxd5 Be6 21. Nxe7+ Qxe7 22. Ng5 f6 23. Nxe6 Qxe6 24. f4 Nc6 25. Be3 Nd4 26. Bxd4 cxd4 27. b3 Rbc8 28. Rad1 Rc5 29. Rd2 Rfc8 30. Rf2 a5 31. Qf3 exf4 32. Qxf4 Re5 33. Rfe2 Qe7 34. Qf2 Qa7 35. Kh1 Rce8 36. Kg1 Qc5 37. Qf3 R8e7 38. Kh1 h6 39. Kg1 Re8 40. Kh1 R8e7 41. Kg1 Kf8 42. Rd1 d5 43. Rde1 Kf7 44. h4 dxe4 45. Rxe4 h5 46. Qf4 Rxe4 1/2-1/2

Anatoly Karpov vs Art Bisguier
Caracas 1970

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. c3 d6 6. d4 Nd7 7. O-O O-O 8. Nbd2 Bf6 9. d5 Ne7 10. Bd3 c6 11. c4 a5 12. b3 g6 13. Ba3 c5 14. Bb2 Bg7 15. g3 Kh8 16. Rae1 Nf6 17. Nh4 Nfg8 18. Ng2 a4 19. f4 f6 20. Ne3 Nh6 21. Bc3 axb3 22. axb3 Bh3 23. Rf2 Bd7 24. Qf1 Nf7 25. f5 g5 26. Be2 Ng8 27. h4 gxh4 28. gxh4 Bh6 29. Bh5 Qe7 30. Kh1 Bf4 31. Qh3 b5 32. cxb5 Bxb5 33. Ndc4 Bxe3 34. Nxe3 Ra3 35. Bd1 Ngh6 36. Bb2 Ra2 37. Bh5 Rg8 38. Nd1 Raa8 39. Nc3 Bd7 40. Bc1 Rab8 41. Bd1 Ra8 42. Ne2 Ra2 43. Rg1 Rxg1+ 44. Kxg1 Bb5 45. Nc3 Rxf2 46. Kxf2 Ba6 47. Nb1 Qb7 48. Qc3 Ng8 49. Bh5 Ngh6 50. Nd2 Ng8 51. Ke1 Ngh6 52. Kd1 Bb5 53. Nf3 Qa6 54. Ng5 Be8 55. Be2 Bb5 56. Bh5 Be8 57. Nf3 Bb5 58. Ne1 Qa2 59. Qb2 Qa5 60. Bd2 Qa7 61. Qc3 Qa2 62. Nc2 c4 63. bxc4 Bxc4 64. Qa3 Qb1+ 65. Qc1 Qb3 66. Bxh6 Qd3+ 67. Bd2 Qxe4 68. Qa3 Bxd5 69. Ne3 Qxh4 70. Bxf7 Bxf7 71. Qxd6 Qa4+ 72. Ke1 Qh4+ 73. Kd1 Qa4+ 74. Kc1 Qa1+ 75. Kc2 Qa4+ 76. Kd3 Qb5+ 77. Ke4 Qb7+ 78. Nd5 Qb1+ 79. Ke3 Qg1+ 80. Kd3 Bxd5 81. Qxf6+ Qg7 82. Qd8+ Qg8 83. Qe7 Qg3+ 84. Be3 h5 1/2-1/2

Robert Byrne vs Vassily Smyslov
Alekhine Memorial, Moscow 1971

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 a6 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nc3 Bd6 7. d4 exd4 8. Nxd4 O-O 9. Bd2 Bb4 10. Nf3 Qe7 11. O-O-O Bxc3 12. Bxc3 Qxe4 13. Rhe1 Qxe2 14. Rxe2 Nd5 15. Be5 b5 16. Nd4 Bd7 17. Nb3 Rfe8 18. Rde1 f6 19. Bg3 Rxe2 20. Rxe2 Kf7 21. a3 g5 22. Nc5 Bf5 23. f3 a5 24. h3 h5 25. Re1 Rg8 26. Re2 Bc8 27. Nb3 a4 28. Nc5 Bf5 29. Na6 Rc8 30. Re1 h4 31. Bh2 Be6 32. Nc5 Re8 33. Na6 Re7 34. b3 f5 35. Kd2 f4 36. Bg1 Bf5 37. Rxe7+ Kxe7 38. Nb4 Nxb4 39. Bc5+ Ke6 40. Bxb4 1/2-1/2

Kenneth Rogoff vs William Martz
Lone Pine 1976

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 Bd7 6. d5 Nb8 7. Bd3 g6 8. c4 c5 9. Nc3 Na6 10. h3 Nc7 11. a3 h5 12. O-O Bh6 13. Bxh6 Rxh6 14. Qe3 Ng8 15. b4 b6 16. Rab1 f6 17. Rb2 Rh7 18. bxc5 bxc5 19. Nh4 Rg7 20. f4 Rb8 21. Rxb8 Qxb8 22. fxe5 fxe5 23. Qg5 Qb2 24. Nxg6 Rf7 25. Nxe5 Rxf1+ 26. Bxf1 dxe5 27. Qxg8+ Ke7 28. Qg5+ 1-0

Kevin Spraggett vs Robert South
Canada Championship 1978

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. d4 Bd7 6. d5 Nb8 7. Bd3 g6 8. c4 Na6 9. Nc3 Nc5 10. Bc2 a5 11. h3 Bg7 12. Bg5 h6 13. Be3 Nh5 14. g3 Qc8 15. Nh4 Bf6 16. Nf5 Bg5 17. Bxc5 dxc5 18. h4 Bd8 19. Ba4 Nf6 20. Bxd7+ Qxd7 21. Ne3 Kf8 22. O-O-O Ne8 23. f4 Bf6 24. Ng4 Qe7 25. Rhf1 Kg7 26. d6 cxd6 27. Nd5 Qe6 28. f5 gxf5 29. Ngxf6 Nxf6 30. Nc7 Qd7 31. Nxa8 Rxa8 32. Rxf5 1-0

It always hurts to see the South go down…

Viswanathan Anand vs Susan Polgar
Amber-rapid, Monte Carlo 1994

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. Nxe5 Re8 8. d3 Bc5 9. Nf3 Bg4 10. Be3 Bd6 11. Nbd2 b5 12. h3 Bh5 13. a4 a6 14. Rfe1 c5 15. axb5 axb5 16. Qf1 c4 17. dxc4 bxc4 18. Qxc4 Bxf3 19. Nxf3 Rxe4 20. Qd3 Re8 21. Bd4 Rxa1 22. Rxa1 Nd5 23. Re1 Nf4 24. Qd2 Rxe1+ 25. Qxe1 h6 26. Qe4 Ne6 27. Be3 Qb8 28. b3 Qb5 29. g3 Qe2 30. Nd2 Be7 31. Qa8+ Kh7 32. Qf3 Qe1+ 33. Kg2 Kg8 34. Qa8+ Kh7 35. Nf3 Qc3 36. Qe4+ Kg8 37. Nd4 Nxd4 38. Bxd4 Qb4 39. c3 Qd6 40. b4 Qd7 41. b5 f5 42. Qb7 Bd6 43. c4 Kh7 44. Qd5 Qc8 45. c5 Bf8 46. c6 Kh8 47. Qd7 Qa8 48. Qxf5 Qe8 49. Be5 Qd8 50. Bxc7 1-0

Judit Polgar vs Boris Spassky
Veterans-Women 1994

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 d6 5. O-O Bd7 6. c3 g6 7. d4 Qe7 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. a4 Bg7 10. b3 Nh5 11. g3 Qf6 12. Bg5 Qe6 13. Nbd2 Qg4 14. Kh1 O-O 15. Be3 Nf6 16. Rad1 Rad8 17. Ng1 Qxe2 18. Bxe2 b6 19. f3 Nh5 20. b4 f5 21. a5 f4 22. Bf2 fxg3 23. hxg3 g5 24. Nc4 g4 25. Ne3 Nf6 26. Kg2 gxf3+ 27. Bxf3 bxa5 28. b5 Ne7 29. c4 c6 30. bxc6 Nxc6 31. Nd5 Rf7 32. Ne2 Ng4 33. Bg1 h5 34. Rb1 Be6 35. Nec3 Nd4 36. Bd1 Rxf1 37. Kxf1 Bf8 38. Rb7 Rd7 39. Rb8 Kg7 40. Kg2 Rf7 41. Nf4 Bd7 42. Rb7 Nf6 43. Rb1 Bb4 44. Ncd5 Nxe4 45. Bxh5 Rf8 46. Ng6 Rf5 47. Nxe5 Nc2 48. Nxd7 Rxh5 49. g4 Ne1+ 50. Rxe1 Rxd5 51. Rxe4 Rxd7 52. c5 Rd2+ 53. Kf3 Rc2 54. Re7+ Kg6 55. Bd4 Rc4 56. Rg7+ Kh6 57. g5+ Kh5 58. Be3 Bxc5 59. Rh7+ Kg6 60. Rh6+ Kg7 61. Rc6 Bxe3 62. Rxc4 Bxg5 1/2-1/2

Alexandra Kosteniuk vs Elena Zayac
8th EU-Cup (women) 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bd6 5. c3 O-O 6. d3 Re8 7. Bg5 a6 8. Ba4 Bf8 9. Nbd2 d6 10. Nf1 h6 11. Bh4 g6 12. Ne3 Bg7 13. O-O Bd7 14. Bb3 Qc8 15. Nd2 Nh5 16. g3 Bh3 17. Ng2 Na5 18. Bd1 Nf6 19. f4 Bg4 20. Qf2 Be6 21. fxe5 Nh7 22. Bf6 dxe5 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. b4 Nc6 25. d4 exd4 26. cxd4 Ng5 27. Qf6+ Kg8 28. d5 Qd8 29. Qc3 Bxd5 30. exd5 Qxd5 31. h4 Ne6 32. Rf2 Qd4 33. Qxd4 Nexd4 34. Nb3 Nf5 35. g4 Nd6 36. a3 Ne5 37. Nd2 Kg7 38. Be2 f5 39. gxf5 Nxf5 40. Nc4 Rad8 41. Nxe5 Rxe5 42. Bg4 Ne3 43. Nxe3 Rxe3 44. Raf1 Re7 45. h5 Rd4 46. Rg2 g5 47. Bf5 Rc4 48. Rg3 c5 49. bxc5 Rxc5 50. Bg6 Rce5 51. Rgf3 Re1 52. Rf7+ Rxf7 53. Rxe1 Rc7 54. Re6 Rc3 55. a4 Rc4 56. a5 Rc5 57. Be4 Rxa5 58. Rg6+ Kf7 59. Rxh6 Re5 60. Bg6+ Kf6 61. Bd3+ Kg7 62. Rh7+ Kf6 63. Rxb7 Re7 64. Rb8 Kg7 65. Rb6 Re8 66. h6+ Kh8 67. Rxa6 Rd8 68. Bg6 Rb8 69. Kg2 Rd8 70. Kg3 Rb8 71. Kg4 Rb4+ 72. Kh5 Rb8 73. Ra7 g4 74. Rh7+ Kg8 75. Rg7+ Kh8 76. Be4 Rb5+ 77. Kg6 Rg5+ 78. Kxg5 1-0

Magnus Carlsen vs Can Arduman
19th EU-Cup 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O d6 6. d4 Bd7 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8.
Nc3 exd4 9. Nxd4 Bd7 10. f4 O-O 11. Kh1 Re8 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Bd6 14. Bf4
Bg4 15. Qb5 Bd7 16. Qxb7 Bxe5 17. Bxe5 Rxe5 18. Rad1 Qc8 19. Qf3 c5 20. Nb3 Bc6
21. Qg3 Qg4 22. Qxg4 Nxg4 23. Na5 Be8 24. Nc4 Re6 25. h3 Nf6 26. Rf5 Rc8 27.
Nd6 Rc6 28. Nb7 g6 29. Rxc5 Rb6 30. Nd8 Red6 31. Rxd6 Rxd6 32. Rc8 Rd2 33. Nc6
Rxc2 34. Nxa7 Rxb2 35. Ne4 Kg7 36. Nxf6 Ba4 37. Ne8+ Kh6 38. Nd6 f5 39. a3 Rb3
40. Nf7+ Kh5 41. Rh8 g5 42. Ne5 g4 43. Rxh7+ Kg5 44. hxg4 fxg4 45. Rg7+ Kf6 46.
Rxg4 Rxa3 47. Nac6 1-0

Magnus Carlsen vs Davide Isonzo
Claude Pecaut Memorial 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O d6 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8.
Bxc6 bxc6 9. Rd1 O-O 10. e5 dxe5 11. Nxc6 Qe8 12. Nxe7+ Qxe7 13. Bg5 Bc6 14.
Qc4 Qe6 15. Qxe6 fxe6 16. Nd2 Rab8 17. b3 Nd5 18. Nc4 Rf5 19. Be3 Nf4 20. Bxf4
exf4 21. Re1 Rg5 22. g3 Bd5 23. Ne5 Rf8 24. c4 Bb7 25. Nd7 Rf7 26. Re5 Rgf5 27.
g4 Rxe5 28. Nxe5 Rf8 29. Rd1 h5 30. Ng6 Re8 31. Nxf4 hxg4 32. Rd7 Bf3 33. Nh5
Rf8 34. Rxg7+ Kh8 35. Rd7 Rf5 36. Ng3 Re5 37. Kf1 Ra5 38. a4 Ra6 39. Ke1 Rb6
40. Rd3 e5 41. Kd2 a5 42. h4 Kh7 43. Re3 Re6 44. Ne4 Kg6 45. Ng5 Rd6+ 46. Kc3
e4 47. Nxe4 Rd1 48. Ng3 Rc1+ 49. Kd2 Ra1 50. h5+ Kf6 51. Re8 Ra2+ 52. Ke3 Rb2
53. h6 Kg6 54. Re6+ Kh7 55. Kf4 Rxb3 56. Nf5 Rb6 57. Re7+ Kh8 58. Kg5 Rc6 59.
Nd4 Rxc4 60. Re8+ Kh7 61. Ne6 Re4 62. Re7+ Kh8 63. Kg6 1-0

I leave you with this game, played by a young boy from the Great State of Florida, who was one of the highly-touted junior players that left chess. I used a quote on this blog some time ago about an Emory student who told his frat brothers he was, at one time, a junior chess champion. I confirmed this before being told that AJ said he quit chess because “It has become a game for children.” Who am I to argue with AJ’s astute insight?

AJ Steigman (2242) vs Alex Sherzer (2494)
Philadelphia NCC 2003

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Qe2 Bc5 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. h3 Bd7 8. Nc3
a6 9. Ba4 Ba7 10. Bb3 Re8 11. Nd5 h6 12. c3 Be6 13. Be3 Bxd5 14. Bxd5 Nxd5 15.
exd5 Ne7 16. Bxa7 Rxa7 17. c4 Ng6 18. g3 f5 19. Nh2 c5 20. Rab1 a5 21. Rfe1 b6
22. f4 Qf6 23. fxe5 Rxe5 24. Qf2 f4 25. g4 Rae7 26. Rxe5 Nxe5 27. Rd1 f3 28. b3
Rf7 29. d4 cxd4 30. Rxd4 Qg6 31. Rd1 h5 32. Rd4 Qb1+ 33. Nf1 hxg4 34. hxg4 Nd3
35. Qe3 f2+ 36. Kg2 Ne1+ 37. Kh2 Qh7+ 38. Kg3 Qh1 39. Qe8+ Rf8 40. Qe6+ Kh8 41.
Rf4 Qg1+ 42. Kh3 Qxf1+ 43. Kh4 Qh1+ 44. Kg5 Qh6+ 0-1

The Chess Mind

Writing on his blog, “The Chess Mind,” (http://www.thechessmind.net/blog/2014/11/20/the-world-championship-on-espn.html) Dennis Monokroussos takes exception to the title of an article appearing on the Grantland website, “Alien Space Tours, Vladimir Putin, and World-Exploding Double Blunders: Welcome to the 2014 World Championship.”
(http://grantland.com/the-triangle/world-chess-championship-aliens-vladimir-putin-magnus-carlsen-vishy-anand/). He writes, “I have only one real complaint about the article, and chances are it’s not the author’s fault: the headline.” Later he has this to say, “Thanks for nothing, Bill Simmons and ESPN.”

Dennis is obviously unaware of the expression, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” (“The proverbial expression began to be used in the early 20th century. The earliest version that I have found in print is from the US newspaper The Atlanta Constitution, January, 1915:

All publicity is good if it is intelligent.

The thought behind the proverb had been expressed earlier by Oscar Wilde:

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/there-is-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity.html)

It is good for the Royal game when those outside of chess write about the game, and it is even better for those involved with the chess to listen to those on the outside looking in because perception is reality.

Spike Friedman, author of the aforementioned article, wrote this, “I didn’t see the blunder. I mean, I saw it. I was watching the match at about five in the morning, but I didn’t see what happened as it happened. The Houdini computer I was watching along with immediately registered the swing in win expectancy, but it frequently shows wild results in the first few seconds after a move. I’ve grown numb to the initial burst that suggests a move may have been a crucial blunder, as the computer often needs to push a little deeper before seeing that the status quo has not shifted. Additionally, the broadcast had gone to a break, so there was no live commentary on the moves. You can hear a snippet of the ad in the YouTube capture of the moment. Anand had already played before the commentators were back on air.”

I checked the USCF website but could not find a rating for Spike, so he must be one of the “many” who play and/or follow chess but cannot find a reason to join USCF.

The article contains a video of the missing moments during the now infamous double blunders.

This is incredible! Vishy did not, as I wrote earlier, make an instantaneous move. How could Vishy have sat there a full minute and not have seen Knight takes pawn? Only one who has been there and done that can understand the chess mind.

Spike writes, “…chess is a game of two people trying to be the better human.”

Actually, Spike, the reason they are playing the match is because, like the Highlander, “there can be only one.” Spike goes on, getting carried away with, “A generous interpretation of a world championship in chess, then, would be to say that it’s the crowning of the ultimate human.”

All I know is that both of the humans have held title of World Chess Champion. I suppose one could think of them as the “ultimate” chess champion, but “ultimate human?” I will leave that for others to decide.

Spike has also determined, “…it also means that the world championship is being contested at a lower level than usual.”

Spike does not mention what his buddy Houdini has to say, but it could also mean this is a much better match “than usual.” I read a quote contained in one of the excellent blog posts by GM Vlad Tkachiev translated and printed on the Chess24 website (https://chess24.com/). “The level of the match will be determined by the level of Anand’s play.” Vishy has played much better chess and, unlike the first match, this one is not a “walk-over.” A close match produces much more stress and strain. The only explanation is that both players “cracked” and happened to do it in back to back moves.

What damages the credibility of the Royal game is a headline like this one: “Fide yet to get World Chess Championship prize fund”

The article begins, ” It is inconceivable that the Russian organizers of the ongoing world chess championship won’t pay Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand their match fees, but a top official on Friday revealed that the world chess federation hadn’t yet received in its bank account the event’s prize fund of €1 million. Coming at the halfway stage, barely two weeks before the match is to conclude, it points to the state of affairs at the world chess federation better known by its French acronym Fide (derived from Federation Internationale des Eches).” (http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/T6963pMV10OYMUy1K7e9SK/World-chess-federation-yet-to-receive-prize-fund.html?utm_source=copy)

The insular chess world needs to take note of how the game is portrayed in the media, especially social media.

Chess and Luck

Is there luck in chess? After receiving a “gift” from former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in sixth game of the current match for the championship of the world, World Champion Magnus Carlsen admitted he was “lucky.” When playing backgammon professionally decades ago some of my vanquished opponents would say, “You were lucky.” My response was invariably the same, “I had rather be lucky than good, because when I am good and lucky, I cannot be beat!”

I found this on the “Sabermetric Research” blog by Phil Birnbaum: Monday, January 14, 2013

Chess and luck

“In previous posts, I argued about how there’s luck in golf, and how there’s luck in foul shooting in basketball. But what about games of pure mental performance, like chess? Is there luck involved in chess? Can you win a chess game because you were lucky?

Yes.” (http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2013/01/chess-and-luck.html) Read the post to understand why Phil thinks there is luck involved in chess.

Later in the post Phil writes, “On an old thread (http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/poker_is_a_game_of_skill_not_luck/#27) over at Tango’s blog, someone pointed this out: if you get two chess players of exactly equal skill, it’s 100 percent a matter of luck which one wins. That’s got to be true, right?”

In #27 James writes, “I think it comes down to what is the relative difference in skill between players and the role of skill vs luck in a game.

If a game is 100% skill (say chess) and say for the sake of argument that the two players are perfectly equally skilled then who wins a single game is purely luck. Regardless of whether they are two unskilled beginners or the two best players in the world.

How do you differentiate between that and the two of them tossing a coin.”

Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were “the two players perfectly equally skilled.” Garry was obviously not the equal of Anatoly when they first met in the ill-fated match that went on for many months, with one short draw after another after Kasparov was down 0-5, until the slight Karpov neared collapse, when Kasparov won 3 games before FIDE President Florencio Campomanes ended the match, fearing one of the players may “drop dead at the board.” From the second match on, Kasparov was ever so slightly better than the much older Karpov. We know this because they played hundreds of games in many matches for the title. Games are played to determine who is the better player, and by what margin.

Because my friend the Discman played, and has followed, baseball, and because Sabermetrics emanates from the field of dreams, I asked him to read the post and let me know what he thought of luck in chess. This is his response:

“I have a much less esoteric and simplistic example of luck in chess. This happens frequently in over-the-board tournament games where neither player is being assisted by a computer. The frequency is directly correlated to the strength of the players, occurring less frequently the stronger the players are. At my level of play when facing competition of similar strength it occurred maybe once every 20-25 games. Here goes:

I’m sure you have heard it said that chess is 98% tactics and I generally agree with that. How many times have you gone back over your games and realized that you had made a significant oversight that your opponent could have taken advantage of, but also missed?

In many cases, seeing the correct combination to punish you was well within the skill level of your opponent, but for any number of reasons (he was having a bad day, he was distracted at that moment, his biorhythm’s were off, etc.) he just missed it.

If he had been put in that same situation next Tuesday instead of today he may very well have seen it. You were lucky that he missed it – he didn’t miss it because you were a stronger player than he was.

Sometimes the oversight is so simple a 1200 player could see it, like the time Leonard Dickerson missed a mate in 1 and got checkmated by a 1500 player. There was a simple defense to the checkmate – in fact the move Leonard made allowed the mate so it was truly a Helpmate. You could put Leonard in similar situations 10,000 times and he would make a similar mistake 1 time.

Did his opponent get lucky? Hell yes he did. You might argue that the 1500 player was better than the master at that one point in time but I don’t think so – he got extremely lucky that Leonard had a brain-fart that allowed a mate in 1.”

Luck in Chess?

‘Chess,’ said the Dutch grandmaster, Jan Hein Donner, ‘is as much a game of chance as blackjack; or tossing cards into a top hat.’ There was a pained silence, then a polite babel of disagreement: it was a game of the utmost skill; a conflict between disciplined minds in which victory would inexorably go to the more perceptive, the more analytical player; a duel of the intellect in which luck played no part. Donner shrugged, lit another cigarette and said: ‘Believe that if you like.’ Bent Larsen smiled the smile of a man who had heard his friend air such iconoclastic arguments in the past but was quite happy to contest them again, when the score of the fifth game of the World Championship match between Karpov and Korchnoi was brought in. Both men pulled out of their inside pockets the wallet sets all grandmasters seem to carry at all times and began to skim through the moves.

It happened that the teleprinter tape had been torn off after Karpov’s 54th move as Black […]. They studied the position for a few moments, mated Karpov in four moves and were surprised when another whole sheet of moves was brought from the teleprinter.

When they saw Korchnoi’s 55th move – Be4+ – Larsen’s eyebrows went up.

‘There you are,’ Donner said, quietly and without triumph as though some self-evident truth had been revealed, ‘pure luck’.

KORTSCHNOJ,V (2665) – KARPOV,AN (2725) (05) [E42]

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Nxc3
cxd4 8. exd4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nc6 10. Be3 O-O 11. O-O b6 12. Qd3 Bb7 13.
Rad1 h6 14. f3 Ne7 15. Bf2 Nfd5 16. Ba2 Nf4 17. Qd2 Nfg6 18. Bb1 Qd7
19. h4 Rfd8 20. h5 Nf8 21. Bh4 f6 22. Ne4 Nd5 23. g4 Rac8 24. Bg3 Ba6
25. Rfe1 Rc6 26. Rc1 Ne7 27. Rxc6 Qxc6 28. Ba2 Qd7 29. Nd6 Bb7 30.
Nxb7 Qxb7 31. Qe3 Kh8 32. Rc1 Nd5 33. Qe4 Qd7 34. Bb1 Qb5 35. b4 Qd7
36. Qd3 Qe7 37. Kf2 f5 38. gxf5 exf5 39. Re1 Qf6 40. Be5 Qh4+ 41. Bg3
Qf6 42. Rh1 Nh7 43. Be5 Qg5 44. Qxf5 Qd2+ 45. Kg3 Nhf6 46. Rg1 Re8
47. Be4 Ne7 48. Qh3 Rc8 49. Kh4 Rc1 50. Qg3 Rxg1 51. Qxg1 Kg8 52. Qg3
Kf7 53. Bg6+ Ke6 54. Qh3+ Kd5
55. Be4+
[55. Bf7+ Kc6 56. Qe6+ Kb7 [56… Kb5 57. Qc4+ Ka4 58. Qa6#] 57. Qxe7+
Ka8 58. Qd8+ Kb7 59. Qc7+ Ka6 [59… Ka8 60. Qb8#] 60. Bc4+ b5 61.

55… Nxe4 56. fxe4+ Kxe4 57. Qg4+ Kd3 58. Qf3+ Qe3 59. Kg4 Qxf3+ 60.
Kxf3 g6 61. Bd6 Nf5 62. Kf4 Nh4 63. Kg4 gxh5+ 64. Kxh4 Kxd4 65. Bb8
a5 66. Bd6 Kc4 67. Kxh5 a4 68. Kxh6 Kb3 69. b5 Kc4 70. Kg5 Kxb5 71.
Kf5 Ka6 72. Ke6 Ka7 73. Kd7 Kb7 74. Be7 Ka7 75. Kc7 Ka8 76. Bd6 Ka7
77. Kc8 Ka6 78. Kb8 b5 79. Bb4 Kb6 80. Kc8 Kc6 81. Kd8 Kd5 82. Ke7
Ke5 83. Kf7 Kd5 84. Kf6 Kd4 85. Ke6 Ke4 86. Bf8 Kd4 87. Kd6 Ke4 88.
Bg7 Kf4 89. Ke6 Kf3 90. Ke5 Kg4 91. Bf6 Kh5 92. Kf5 Kh6 93. Bd4 Kh7
94. Kf6 Kh6 95. Be3+ Kh5 96. Kf5 Kh4 97. Bd2 Kg3 98. Bg5 Kf3 99. Bf4
Kg2 100. Bd6 Kf3 101. Bh2 Kg2 102. Bc7 Kf3 103. Bd6 Ke3 104. Ke5 Kf3
105. Kd5 Kg4 106. Kc5 Kf5 107. Kxb5 Ke6 108. Kc6 Kf6 109. Kd7 Kg7
110. Be7 Kg8 111. Ke6 Kg7 112. Bc5 Kg8 113. Kf6 Kh7 114. Kf7 Kh8 115.
Bd4+ Kh7 116. Bb2 Kh6 117. Kg8 Kg6 118. Bg7 Kf5 119. Kf7 Kg5 120. Bb2
Kh6 121. Bc1+ Kh7 122. Bd2 Kh8 123. Bc3+ Kh7 124. Bg7 1/2-1/2

From The Master Game, Book 2, Jeremy James and William Hartston (1981). London: BBC.