Stinking It Up At The Sinquefield Cup

The trio of announcers at the Sinquefield Cup were effusive during every round, especially during the final round. They did the best they could to put lipstick on a pig

but in the final analysis it was still a stinking pig. The gang mentioned the high percentage of draws and GM Yasser Seirawan said something like, “We haven’t noticed because of the quality of the draws.” Forty five games were played during the tournament with only eight of them ending decisively, which is 17.7%. There were nine rounds so the average was less than one win per round.

The announcers for MLBaseball teams are called “homers” for a reason. They are paid by the ball club so it is in their interest to put lipstick on their particular pig.

I am uncertain about who pays the announcers at the Sinquefield Cup, but it is more than a little obvious they want to continue being paid. It is in their interest to put as much lipstick on the Chess pig as possible. Because of this they lack objectivity. I am not being paid by anyone so can be objective. The tournament was B-O-R-I-N-G. To their credit, the announcing team of Yaz, Maurice, and Jen did the best they could to inject some excitement into the moribund tournament. The excitement certainly did not come from the players. The pigs were in full force and there was some reeking Chess played at what I have come to consider the Stinkfield Cup.

Hikaru Nakamura lost the last round game to World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen


Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club / Lennart Ootes

by first needlessly allowing Magnus a protected passed pawn. Later he exacerbated an already tenuous position by jettisoning a pawn for absolutely nothing, and was deservedly ground down by the ultimate grinder.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave managed to turn what should have been a win into a draw against Sergey Karjakin because he did not know how to play the endgame.

Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana played what was arguably the most boring game of the tournament in the last round and, guess what, it ended in a draw. Watching lipstick being put on a pig was better than watching the “game.” Here is what two Chess fans posted on the ChessBomb chat at the game:

Abraxas79: So will drop out of sight soon. Will be playing open tournaments with Kamsky
eddiemac: was being interviewed and said he be in a chess960 tourney in a few weeks. Should be more exciting than this dreary tourney.
(https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2018-sinquefield-cup/09-So_Wesley-Caruana_Fabiano)

The 71st Russian Chess Championship began less than a week ago with twelve players competing. After four rounds twenty four games have been played and seven of them have ended decisively. That is 29%. Not great, but much better than the paltry 18% of the Stinkfield Cup. At least there has been a decisive game in each of the four rounds of the Russian Championship. In the third round three games were decisive. Three of the rounds of the Stinkfield Cup finished without any decisive games.

Yaz can talk all he wants about “…the quality of the draws,” but the fact remains the games ended in yet another draw. There is not enough lipstick Yaz can smear to obviate the fact that pigs were stinking it up at the Sinquefield Cup. Chess fans want winners. Potential Chess fans do not understand the proliferation of draws; they want to see a WINNER.

The last round game causing much excitement was the game between Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk. Levon unsoundly sacrificed a rook on f7 and the game was all for Grischuk’s taking, but he had previously spent almost three quarters of an hour on one move which left him short of time. Still, I cannot imagine Bobby Fischer losing the game with the black pieces after 18 Rxf7 no matter how little time he had left. Give Bobby two or three minutes, maybe only one, and he would have won the game. Seriously, give Bobby only the thirty seconds added and he would have won that game!

“The Herceg Novi blitz event was the speed tournament of the 20th century. It had four world champions competing, and Bobby not only finished 4½ points ahead of Tal in second place, he also obliterated the Soviet contingent, 8½-1½, whitewashing Tal, Tigran Petrosian and Vasily Smyslov, six-zip; breaking even with Viktor Korchnoi; and defeating David Bronstein with a win and draw.” (http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2012/03/16/bobbys-blitz-chess/)

This was with a time limit of only FIVE minutes for the whole game! When I hear people talking about how strong are today’s Grandmasters and how the players of the 20th century would not stand a chance against the current top players I laugh. In his prime Bobby would have OBLITERATED these posers no matter the time control. Bobby played each and every game to WIN.

Because I played the Bird opening often, but not as many as the Atlanta player who became a NM using it exclusively, Adam Cavaney, who became an attorney and moved to New Orleans before hurricane Katrina, I paid close attention to the following game.

Let us review the aforementioned game between Alexander Grischuk and Wesley So from the penultimate round:

Alexander Grischuk vs Wesley So


Photo: V. Saravanan

Sinquefield Cup 2018 round 08

1. f4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 3. b3 Bb7 4. e3 g6 5. Bb2 Bg7 6. g3 O-O 7. Bg2 c5 8. c4 d5 9. O-O Nc6 10. Qe2 Rc8 11. d3 d4 12. exd4 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Bxg2 14. Kxg2 cxd4 15. Na3 Nd7 16. Nc2 Nc5 17. f5 Qd7 18. g4 b5 19. Ba3 a5 20. Bxc5 Rxc5 21. Rae1 bxc4 22. bxc4 gxf5 23. gxf5 Rxf5 24. Rxf5 Qxf5 25. Qf3 Qg5+ 26. Kh1 Kh8 27. Rg1 Qh6 28. Qd5 Qd2 29. Nxd4 Qxa2 30. Qe4 Qb2 31. Nf5 Be5 32. Rg2 Qc1+ 33. Rg1 Qb2 34. Rg2 Qc1+ 35. Rg1 Qb2 36. Rg2 1/2-1/2

An analogous position after 7…c5 was reached by a different move order in this game:

David Bronstein (2585)

v Vladimir Tukmakov (2560)

Event: URS-ch40
Site: Baku Date: 11/23/1972
Round: 6
ECO: A01 Nimzovich-Larsen attack, symmetrical variation

1. b3 b6 2. Bb2 Bb7 3. e3 Nf6 4. f4 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. g3 O-O 7. Bg2 c5 8. O-O Nc6 9. a4 d6 10. Na3 a6 11. Qe2 Rb8 12. d3 Ba8 13. c4 e6 14. Rfd1 Qe7 15. e4 Nd7 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nc2 e5 1/2-1/2
(https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=2419289&m=15)

After 13 moves this position appeared on the board:

I was certain Grischuk would play 14 Qxg2. He took with the King. In the old BC (before computer) days if one disagreed with a move a GM played we would defer to the GMs move because, well, you know, he was a Grandmaster. Still, with my limited understanding of the Royal game, my thinking was that now that the white squared bishop has left the board, what better piece to take it’s place than the Queen? Stockfish agrees.

This position was reached after 16 moves:

While Grischuk was thinking I thought he would first play 17 Ne1 followed by 18 Nf3, considerably improving the position of the woeful knight. After the game the Stockfish program at the ChessBomb made me feel like I knew something about how to play the Bird as it gives this variation as equal: 17. Ne1 e6 18. Nf3 Qd7 19. Kg1 Rfd8 20. Ba3 Qb7 21. Rae1 Bf8 22. Bb2 Bg7 23. Ba3. The clanking digital monster also shows 17 Ba3 as equal. The move Grishuk played, 17 f5, is not shown as one of the top four moves. His choice gives the advantage to black.

This position was reached after 22 moves:

SF shows 23. Qxe7 Qc6+ as best, but Grischuk played 23 gxf5. It is easy to see black has an increased advantage. After a few more moves were played we reach this position after white played 25 Qf3:

Wesley So could have simply dropped his queen back to e7 with a by now large advantage. IM Boris Kogan said, “Chess is simple. He attack, you defend. You attack, he defend. My retort was, “Maybe for you, Boris.” Wesley played 25…Qg5+, which still left him with an advantage. I was thinking, “Patzer sees a check and gives a check.”

We move along until his position was reached after 28 Qd5:

The two best moves according to SF are 28…Qf4 and/or Qb6. So played the fourth best move, 28…Qd2.

After 29…Qxa2 we come to this position:

30 Nc6 is the best move. Grischuk played the second best move, 30 Qe4.

Bobby Fischer

spoke of “critical positions.” This is one of them.

Wesley had far more time than his opponent at this point. I was therefore shocked when he took very little time to play 30…Qb2. I will admit the moved played was my first choice, but then I am not a GM. Faced with the same position Wesley So had on the board I would have probably played 30…Qb2. I followed the games at Mark Crowther’s wonderful site, The Week in Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), because it has no engine analysis. After the game was concluded I went to the ChessBomb to see StockFish had given the move 30…Qf2 as much superior to the move played in the game. Initially flummoxed, I wondered if Wesley had taken more time, which would have meant more time for me to cogitate, would I have seen the much better 30…Qf2? Honesty compels me to think not, as 30…Qb2 attacks the knight and makes way for the passed a-pawn. What’s not to like? SF only gives 30…Qf2 followed by 31 Nc6, so I had to “dig deep” to understand the efficacy of moving the queen to f2. Fortunately for this old grasshopper there was understanding. Later I watched some of the coverage by Yaz, Maurice, and Jen. Maurice showed the engine they were using gave it as best. This begs the question, which engine were they using? I have yet to hear a name used for the “engine.” There are many “engines,” so why do they not inform we Chess fans which “engine” they utilize?

After 30…Qb2 Grischuk played 31 Nf5 (SF says Nf3 is a little better) and this position was reached:

I was thinking Wesley would play 31…Bf6, later learning SF shows it best. As a matter of fact, it is the only move to retain an advantage. Wesley So played the second choice of SF, 31…Be5, and the game sputtered to a draw, a fitting conclusion to a poorly played game by both players. So much for Yasser’s comment about “…quality of the draws.”

This is what Chess fans who chat at the ChessBomb thought about the ending of the game:

CunningPlan: I suspect draw agreed
dondiegodelavega: WTF???
BadHabitMarco: this cant have happened
rfa: yup draw
poppy_dove: BUG
dondiegodelavega: moving to twitter
CunningPlan: Maybe So missed Kxg1
jim: mdr
jim: Qxg1 wow
Frank200: hahahaha somebody was trolling
LarsBrobakken: no takebacks!
CunningPlan: So is a dirty rotten cheat
CunningPlan: Oh So. What a cop out.
rfa: 🙂
BadHabitMarco: devine intervention
Vladacval: phhhooogh
BadHabitMarco: divine
Vladacval: nice save!
jim: So touched accidentally the rook
poppy_dove: draw
dondiegodelavega: what a pussy!
CunningPlan: Grischuk deliberately dropped an eyelash on it to tempt So to brush it off
CunningPlan: Oldest trick in the book
CunningPlan: I’ve won many a game that way
BadHabitMarco: he was like “did you see that the felt was missing under my rook?”
https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2018-sinquefield-cup/08-Grischuk_Alexander-So_Wesley

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Magnus Carlsen Superman

The World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, did not win the recently completed London Chess Classic. Although he may have lost a battle he won the war by taking the Grand Chess Tour.

One of the headlines at the Chessbase website during the tournament proclaimed, London Chess Classic: Magnus on tilt. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-chess-classic-round-8)

The article, by Macauley Peterson, began:

“Round 8 saw a startling blunder from the World Champion whose frustration following the game was palpable.”

Later we fans of the Royal Game read this:

Round 8

“For the first few hours of Sunday’s games, it looked like we could be heading for another day of peaceful results. Adams vs Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave vs Anand both ended in early draws, and the remaining games were level. Suddenly, a shock blunder from World Champion Magnus Carlsen flashed up on the screens, a variation which lead to Ian Nepomniachtchi being up a piece, and easily winning. Carlsen resigned just four moves later.

After the game, a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup with Grand Chess Tour commentator GM Maurice Ashley.

These occur in the same conference room in which a live audience enjoys commentary during the round, and around 150 people were crowded into the room to hear from Carlsen.”

Whoa! Let us stop right here and consider what we have just read…

“…a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup…” I believe the word “interview” should be inserted after “standup.”

Why would anyone in their right mind put something in any contract, in any game or sport, forcing a player who has just lost to be interviewed by anyone BEFORE THEY HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO DECOMPRESS?! This is incomprehensible, and the sanity of those responsible for forcing anyone to sign a contract that requires the person to be interviewed before having a chance to compose themselves must be questioned.

The article continues:

“A few moments before they were to go on air, Ashley casually reached over to adjust the collar on Carlsen’s sport coat, which had become turned outward awkwardly. Magnus reacted by violently throwing his arms up in the air, silently but forcefully saying “don’t touch me”, and striking Ashley in the process. Maurice was, naturally, taken aback but just seconds later he received the queue that he was live.”

Maurice is a GM, and a pro, not only when it comes to playing Chess, but also when it gets down to interviewing tightly wound Chess players. Since he played the Royal game at the highest level he knows the emotions it can, and does, evoke first hand. Maurice was the first one to ‘fergettaboutit.’

I recall a time during a tournament when a young fellow playing in his first tournament lost control of his emotions and, shall we say, “flared-up.” His mother was aghast, and appalled, saying, “Now you will never be able to come here again.” Since I had given lessons at the school the boy attended I stepped in saying, “Ma’am, that’s not the way it works around here. By the next time your son comes here everyone will have forgotten what happened today.” The mother gave me the strangest look before asking, “Are you just saying that to make me feel better?” I assured her I was not and then someone else interjected, telling her, with a large grin on his face, that I was indeed telling her the truth. Chess people, to their credit, are about the most forgiving people one will ever know.

There followed:

Magnus was clearly in no mood to chat:

“I missed everything. There’s not much else to say. I think I failed to predict a single of his moves, and then, well, you saw what happened.”

“It will be interesting to see if Magnus will recover tomorrow. When asked for his thoughts on the last round pairing he replied, “I don’t care at all. “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task, with that attitude.”

The excellent annotation of the game Magnus lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi

on Chessbase is by GM by Tiger Hillarp-Persson,

who has also annotated games of Go on his blog (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). After move 29 Tiger writes, “There were probably a few who thought Magnus would win at this stage…”

Magnus begins going wrong at move 30. He then gives a line and writes, “White is dominating. It is quite out of character for Carlsen to miss something like this. It seems like he wasn’t able to think clearly today.”

Before Magnus plays his 33rd move Tiger writes, “Now White’s pieces are all in the wrong places.”

After White’s 34th move Tiger writes, “Here Carlsen seems to lose his will to fight. Now one mistake follows another.”

Those are very STRONG WORDS! Human World Chess Champions, with the exception of Garry Kasparov when losing to Deep Blue,

do not lose their will to fight!

Yuri Averbakh,

Russian GM, and author, in a 1997 article in New in Chess magazine, the best Chess magazine of ALL TIME, placed chess players into 6 categories; Killers; Fighters; Sportsmen; Gamblers; Artists; and Explorers. Although he listed only Kasparov and Bronstein

as “Fighters,” the World Chess Champion best known for being a “Fighter” was Emanuel Lasker.

I would put current human World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the class with Lasker as a “Fighter.”

In an interview at the Chess24 website his opponent in the game, Ian Nepomniachtchi,


had this to say, “To be fair, Magnus had a bad cold during the second half of the tournament and therefore wasn’t in his very best form.”

Nepo is extremely gracious while explaining why Magnus “…seemed to lose his will to fight.” When one is under the weather it is extremely difficult to think clearly, especially as the game goes on and fatigue begins to dominate. Imagine what history would have recorded if Bobby Fischer had not caught a cold after the first few games against former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian.

This was a topic of conversation during a meal with Petrosian, Paul Keres,

and future World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov,

at a restaurant in San Antonio, the Golden Egg, during the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in 1972.

Interviewer Colin McGourty asked Nepo this question:

“It seems as though he’s stopped dominating as he did a few years ago. Is that the case?

A few years ago the level he was demonstrating was out of this world, particularly when he wasn’t yet World Champion, plus at times good patches in his career alternated with even better ones. Gradually, though, people have got used to him, and when you’ve already achieved it all, when over the course of a few years you’ve been better than everyone, it gets tougher to motivate yourself. That doesn’t just apply to sport, after all. Magnus has a great deal of interests outside of chess, but even his relatively unsuccessful periods are much more successful than for many of his rivals. Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nepomniachtchi-on-london-carlsen-and-alphazero

There you have it. “Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

Levon had the year of his life in 2017. He had the White pieces in the last round against a weakened World Champion. He could have ended the year in style with a victory. This from Chessbase:

The Magnus bounce

“The World Champion, after a troubling performance yesterday, appeared once more to be on the brink of defeat with the black pieces against Levon Aronian. Carlsen was considerably worse in the middlegame, but it took just a couple of inaccuracies from Aronian for the World Champion to completely turn the tables. He went on to win, despite knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the Grand Chess Tour standings.

In fact, Aronian offered Carlsen a draw, right after the time control, which Magnus refused, as he was already much better in the position. It was the 11th time in 17 tries that Carlsen came back with a win immediately following a loss, since 2015.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-chess-classic-2017-carlsen-wins-grand-chess-tour)

Many years ago IM Boris Kogan told me the measure of a Chess player is how he responds to a loss. Many in the same condition would have been happy to settle for a draw in the last round. Some would have made it a quick draw. Not Magnus!
Magnus Carlsen is a worthy World Champion. My admiration for our World Champion has grown immensely.

Consider this headline from the official tournament website:

Round 8 – Carlsen Car Crash at the Classic

11.12.17 – John Saunders reports: The eighth round of the 9th London Chess Classic was played on Sunday 10 December 2017 at the Olympia Conference Centre. The round featured just the one decisive game, which was a disastrous loss for Carlsen, as the result of two terrible blunders.
http://www.londonchessclassic.com/downloads/reports17/2017-12-10%20LCC%20Round%208.pdf

As bad as that is, it could have been much worse. Even when completely well Magnus has sometimes gotten into trouble early in the game, especially when playing an opening some consider “offbeat.” Every true human World Chess Champion, one who beat the previous title holder in a match, was a trend setter who was emulated by other players of all ranks and abilities. Simply because Magnus opened with the Bird against Mickey Adams

in round seven other players may now begin opening games with 1 f4. It is true that Magnus got into trouble in the opening of that game, but his opponent was unable to take advantage of it and Magnus FOUGHT his way out of trouble. (see the excellent article, including annotations to The Bird game, by Alex Yermolinsky at Chessbase: https://en.chessbase.com/post/london-classic-nepomniachtchi-joins-lead)

As Macauley Peterson

wrote, “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task…” That is Black in the LAST ROUND against the player who this year has stolen Magnus Carlsen’s thunder. An obviously under the weather Magnus had Black versus a man who believes he should be the human World Chess Champion. If there were no FIDE (we can only dream…) and things were like they were before World War II, Levon Aronian would have absolutely no trouble whatsoever finding backers for a match with Magnus Carlsen. The outcome of the game could have psychological ramifications for some time to come.

Levon held an advantage through 34 moves, but let it slip with an ill-advised pawn push on his 35th move.


Position before 35. b6

The game ws then even. The player who fought best would win the game. That player was Magnus ‘The Fighter’ Carlsen. The loss must have shattered Levon Aronian’s psyche; there is no other way to put it. Levon had White against a weakened World Champion yet he did not even manage to make a draw. That fact has to be devastating to Aronian. Oh well, Levon has a pretty wife…

Am I Strong Enough to Question Magnus Carlsen?

It is White to move in this position:

Consider for a moment, or longer, what move you would make.

I have never liked looking at a position from a game without being able to look at the moves leading up to the position, so here they are:

1. d4 g6 2. e4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. e5 Bb7 8. e6 fxe6 9. Ng5 Nf8 10. O-O Qd7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Na2 Qxa4 14. Qe2 h6 15. Nf3 Kf7 16. Bd2 b3 17. Nc3 Qd7 18. cxb3 Rb8 19. Ra3 Nd5 20. Ne4 Kg8 21. h4 Qe8 22. Bxa6 Bxa6 23. Qxa6 Bf6 24. Qc4 Nd7 25. Nc3 N7b6 26. Qe2 Qf7 27. Ne4 Rf8

Being the kind of fellow who speaks his mind, I once fired a salvo at an editor of a prominent Chess magazine which concerned publishing truncated games. To him it “saved space.” To me it was sacrilegious not only to those who had played the game but also to the Royal Game, and Caissa. “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”― James Baldwin

I have taught Chess in a Governor’s mansion and places some would call a dive, and everything in between. If a student, any student, had played this game and now produced the move Nxf6 I would cringe in abject horror. Once I managed to gather myself I would attempt to patiently explain why the exchange was a bad idea, pointing out to my student that the doubled pawns are the major weakness in the Black position; that Black will be tied down to the weak pawn on e6 for the foreseeable future and that as long as Black is tied down to the defense of the pawn(s) he will not be able to mount any kind of offense. I could then attempt to explain that someone usually gains in an exchange, and that you would like that someone to be YOU!

Perelshteyn, Eugene vs Carlsen, Magnus

2017.09.24

Chess.com Isle of Man International Masters (2.1)

1. d4 g6 2. e4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 b5 6. Bd3 Nd7 7. e5 Bb7 8. e6 fe6 9. Ng5 Nf8 10. O-O Qd7 11. Re1 Nf6 12. a4 b4 13. Na2 Qa4 14. Qe2 h6 15. Nf3 Kf7 16. Bd2 b3 17. Nc3 Qd7 18. cb3 Rb8 19. Ra3 Nd5 20. Ne4 Kg8 21. h4 Qe8 22. Ba6 Ba6 23. Qa6 Bf6 24. Qc4 Nd7 25. Nc3 N7b6 26. Qe2 Qf7 27. Ne4 Rf8 28. Nf6 ef6 29. Qe6 Qe6 30. Re6 Kf7 31. Re1 Rb8 32. Rc1 Nc8 33. Ne1 Nce7 34. Nd3 g5 35. hg5 hg5 36. b4 Rh4 37. Bc3 Rbh8 38. g3 Rh1 39. Kg2 R8h2 40. Kf3 g4 41. Kg4 Rc1 42. Nc1 Rf2 43. Be1 f5 44. Kh3 Rb2 45. Nd3 Rc2 46. b5 Nf6 47. Rb3 Re2 48. b6 cb6 49. Rb6 Ne4 0-1

Perelsteyn is a GM; Carlsen is the World Human Chess Champion. It is easy for anyone with an “engine” to criticize a GM, or even the World Human Chess Champion these daze, but I have no “engine” at the moment (long story). I can criticize Eugene without use of any outside assistance because my understanding of some facets of Chess allow me to do so. In many, if not most, other facets I am certain Mr. Perelshteyn will be the one giving a lesson. When playing over the game I stopped after moving the Knight, heading to the ChessBomb for verification my judgement was correct. It was, as ‘DaBomb’ gives the move some color. It is not exactly a RED MOVE, but just a shade below. Check it out here: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2017-isle-of-man-international-masters/02-Perelshteyn_Eugene-Carlsen_Magnus

There was another game in the same tournament with Magnus facing another American GM:

Carlsen, Magnus (NOR) – Xiong, Jeffery (USA)

Chess.com Isle of Man International – Masters 2017 round 03

1. Nf3 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. d4 e6 4. Bg5 d5 5. e3 h6 6. Bh4 Nc6 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Bd3 Be7 9. O-O Nd7 10. Bxe7 Nxe7 11. Ne5 cxd4 12. exd4 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Bd7 14. Re1 Rc8 15. Nf3 b5 16. h4 a5 17. a3 Qb6 18. Qd2 b4 19. cxb4 axb4 20. a4 Ra8 21. b3 O-O 22. Rac1 Rfc8

I am watching this game thinking, “Jeffrey is holding his own against the World Human Chess Champion.” I thought Magnus had an advantage, albeit a small one. Then I noticed Magnus could play the tricky Nd4, the kind of move I would love to be able to play against a higher rated opponent. But when Magnus eschewed the tricky move for the “aggressive” 23 h5 my thoughts turned to something along the lines of, “That’s why Magnus is the World Human Chess Champion. He rejects moves that “look good,” but possibly get one into trouble in the future.” Now I began looking at 23…Rc3 for Xiong, seeing 24 Rxc3 bxc3 25 Qxc3 Rc8 and that is as far as I am able “see” because my calculating abilities leave much to be desired. Still, they are OK for teaching neophytes…I will also admit not having considered 24 Nd4 after 23…Rc3. Hey, there is much to consider in every move! After 23 h5 Jeffery moves his King, playing 23…Kf8.

“Hummm,” I’m thinking, “Magnus makes an attacking move and Jeffery responds by getting outta Dodge. Maybe he wants to play a Yasser Seirawan like King walk.” The more I consider the move, the more I do not like it, but hey, I’m not a GM. Still, it seems White’s advantage has increased after the King move… Magnus, full of aggression, now plays 24 g4!? (I am not strong enough to give the World Human Chess Champion a ?!)

Now I am thinking, “Wow. Magnus is coming right after him! But when my heart beat slows to a more normal pace I am thinking something along the lines of, “I dunno…that’s the kinda move I played far too often ‘back in the day.’ It’s the kinda move that says “All In. I’m going for broke.” I would show one of my games to IM Boris Kogan and when pushing a pawn in front of my King like this The Hulk would grimace, and say something like, “Mike. Why you play Chess?” Still, he is the World Human Chess Champion and I’m a patzer…Now Jeffery plays 24…Rc3

and I stop to reflect, objectively, about the position, and my conclusion is that there has been a real swing in fortunes the past few moves, but it looks as though Jeffery is almost even again. Now I’m thinking, “What a GAME!” Can you tell I was enjoying myself immensely?

I will give the remaining move from where we left off: 23. h5 Kf8 24. g4 Rc3 25. g5 hxg5 26. Rxc3 bxc3 27. Qxg5 Nf5 28. Bxf5 exf5 29. e6 Bxe6 30. h6 gxh6 31. Qf6 Kg8 32. Qxh6 Qb4 33. Kh1 1-0

The game can be found here: https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2017-isle-of-man-international-masters/03-Carlsen_Magnus-Xiong_Jeffery

If Magnus Carlsen has a weakness it is in the opening phase of the game. I criticized him in an earlier post on this blog because he played one of my favorite openings, the Bishop’s Opening, like a patzer (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/they-bad/).

Magnus lost to Bu Xiangzhi at the World Cup in Tbilisi earlier this year in a game that began 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4, but transposed into a Two Knight’s Defense. The game is annotated by the winner in New In Chess 2017/7. Have I mentioned New In Chess is the best Chess magazine in the solar system?

Carlsen, Magnus – Bu, Xiangzhi

FIDE World Cup 2017 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be6 8. Re1 Qd7 9. Nbd2 Rab8 10. Bc2 d5 11. h3 h6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5 Bd6 15. Re1 Bxh3 16. gxh3 Qxh3 17. Nf1 Rbe8 18. d4 f5 19. Bb3 c6 20. f4 Kh7 21. Bxd5 cxd5 22. Re3 Rxe3 23. Bxe3 g5 24. Kf2 gxf4 25. Qf3 fxe3+ 26. Nxe3 Qh2+ 27. Kf1 Rg8 28. Qxf5+ Rg6 29. Ke1 h5 30. Kd1 Kh6 31. Nc2 h4 32. Ne1 h3 33. Nf3 Qg2 34. Ne1 Qg4+ 35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. Nf3 Rg1+ 0-1

Maybe Magnus should stick to playing his Bishop to b5?

chess.com Isle of Man Masters, Prizegiving, 1 October 2017 (Nikon)

Magnus and female companion after winning the Isle of Man 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.'”

Magnus Carlsen’s Secret Weapon

‘Comfyballs’ won’t fly in America: Patent office says Norwegian men’s underwear trademark is too vulgar for sale in U.S.

The brand has spread to Australia, New Zealand and the UK but America isn’t having it
The agency says the name refers solely to a man’s testicles and ‘does not create a double entendre’ — and is therefor vulgar
Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls brand ice cream was also blocked by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

By Josh Gardner for MailOnline

A Scandinavian men’s underwear brand named Comfyballs simply will not fly in America, says the U.S. Patent and Trade Office.

The agency has denied the Norwegian company’s application to register the trademark in the U.S., calling the name ‘vulgar.’

The company was born in 2013 and quickly moved to the UK, New Zealand and Australia where it promises its underwear–designed with PackageFront technology–reduces heat while allowing for freer movement.

Published: 12:01 EST, 10 December 2014 | Updated: 14:54 EST, 10 December 2014

Find more, including pictures and video, here: (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2868788/No-Comfyballs-America-Patent-office-says-Norwegian-men-s-underwear-trademark-vulgar-sale-U-S.html)

I have always been amazed at how priggish are some in American society. Anyone who has ever watched American television advertisements featuring scantily clad women realizes just how silly and hypocritical the US Patent office spokesman sounds saying the ‘Comfyballs’ “…trademark is too vulgar for sale in U.S.”

Since ‘Comfyballs’ emanates from Norway, home of the model, and World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, I cannot help but wonder if Magnus has a ‘secret weapon’ he keeps ‘out of site’ and ‘under wraps.’ A match between ‘Comfyballs’ and Magnus would seen to be a ‘perfect fit.’

THIS EVENT IS CHILD FRIENDLY

The title of this post was found at the website of the “Millionaire Chess Open” (http://millionairechess.com/about-us/).
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; http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=20350&sid=81c0e47d4f09f31850f80b8d5eb5d0c7)
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 (http://www.wsop.com/) 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)
adj.
1.
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.
n.
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.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/professional
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.