David Rupel at the 2017 World Senior

David G. Rupel, from the Great Northwest, is currently participating in the World Senior Chess Championships in Acqui Terme, Italia, according to the ChessBomb. He is one of eight intrepid Americans battling in the 65+ division. The best known American would be GM James Tarjan, who decided to make a Chess comeback after retiring from his job as a librarian.

During one US Open some decades ago one of the players in contention for the class A prize was David Rupel, so I followed his games. He played more strongly than did I and deservedly won the top prize. It was no surprise when he later earned his NM title. After the tournament I walked up to David and introduced myself while congratulating him on an outstanding tournament (he had a few upsetting upsets against higher rated opponents along the way) and winning the top prize. He was obviously taken aback before taking my outstretched hand and thanking me. No introduction was necessary because all the players in contention know with whom they are contending.

While living in Hendersonville, NC, a wonderful little city, last decade I had a chance to renew acquaintances with David when he participated in one of the US Masters held in that city due to the driving force of “Original Life Master” (I’ve no idea what that is, exactly, as I just checked Neal’s USCF page to learn the “original” has been added) and former President of the NCCA, Neal Harris, and Klaus Pohl, also an “Original” Life Master, and TD, now President of the NCCA, Kevin Hyde. Mr. Rupel broke into a wide grin upon seeing me for the first time in decades.

In the first round of the World Senior David was paired with GM Yuri Balashov, who was rated 2437, considerably higher than David’s FIDE rating of only 1985. Although he is a NM David’s current USCF rating is still a respectable 2076. It would seem to be much simpler to have only one rating system in use for the world since players travel from country to country crossing Knights and swords, would it not?

The game began normally enough with 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2. Then David played 3…Qc7!? Those who have followed the AW and those who have known me during the course of my Chess career, such as it was, know I have long had a predilection for an early move with the Queen, such as 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2!, with which I fell in love after playing over the the second game of the match between Chigorin and Tarrasch played in 1893, called by Akavall on chessgames.com, “My favorite match of all times. The contrast of styles is amazing.” (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1006510) It is naturally pleasing when someone agrees with one’s feelings.

Nevertheless, I dunno about playing Qc7 after playing d5. Way back in the 1970’s I opened with 1 e4 c6 2 d4 Qc7 in a fifteen minute game, advocated by GM David Bronstein, and still about as fast a time control with which I am comfortable, as it gives a player at least a little time for cogitation. My opponent, Longshot Larry, paused before moving and bluntly said, “What the HELL is THAT?!” Almost every opening move now has a name, but I have been unable to locate a name for 2…Qc7, so let us call it “The Bacon” opening. My idea was to play d6, then e5 with an Old Indian type set-up. Maybe the Lady looked safer surrounded by pawns after moving the d-pawn only one square…

GM Balashov then played 4 Bd3, to which David responded 4…g6?! At the SWIFT Rapid tournament in 1992 (Rapid was played last century?) GM Jonathan Speelman played dxe4 against GM Michael Adams and there followed: 5. Nxe4 Bf5 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. O-O e6 8. c4 Bg6 9. d5 Bxe4 10. Bxe4 Ndf6 11. Re1 Nxe4 12. Rxe4 Nf6 13. Re1 O-O-O 14. Qa4 exd5 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. Qxa7 Bb4 17. Bd2 Bxd2 18. Nxd2 Rhe8 19. Ne4 Qb8 20. Qa3 Re6 21. Ng5 Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 Qf4 23. Nf3 f6 24. Qd3 g6 25. Qe2 Qd6 26. g3 Nc7 27. Qc4 Qd3 28. Qxd3 Rxd3 29. Kg2 Kd7 30. h4 Ne6 31. Re4 b5 32. Re2 Kd6 33. Nd2 f5 34. Nf3 Rd5 35. Ng5 1/2-1/2

After 4…g6 GM Balashov played 5 Ngf3. One could not be faulted for thinking this a novel position, but such is not the case. 5. Ne2 was played in a game between Kristoff Marchon (1823) and Olivier Letreguilly (2295) at the Sainte Marie open in 2005. There followed, 5…Bg7 6. O-O Nh6 7. c3 O-O 8. Ng3 Nd7 9. f4 dxe4 10. Ndxe4 c5 11. f5 cxd4 12. fxg6 hxg6 13. Bxh6 Bxh6 14. cxd4 Qb6 15. Qc2 Qxd4+ 16. Nf2 Ne5 17. Be4 Ng4 18. Kh1 Ne3 19. Qb3 Nxf1 20. Rxf1 Be6 21. Qxb7 Bc4 22. Ng4 Bg7 23. Re1 Qd2 24. Rg1 f5 25. Bxf5 Bd5 0-1

After GM Balashov played 5 Ngf3 the game continued 5…Bg7 6. O-O Bg4 7. c3 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nd7 9. h3 Bf5 10. Re1 Ngf6 11. Nxf6+ Bxf6 12. Bxf5 gxf5 13. Qc2 O-O-O 14. Qxf5 Rhg8 15. Bf4 Qb6 16. b4 Rg7 17. a4 Rdg8 18. g3 e6 19. Qd3 Qd8 20. b5 c5 21. a5 Nf8 22. Qe4 Ng6 23. Bh6 1-0

Lower rated players will often play questionable opening moves against much higher rated opponents, much to their detriment. Mr. Rupel was never in the game after 4…g6, I am sad to report.

While looking over the game I wondered if the move 5 e5 might be possible. Lo & Behold, while researching the opening I found another game at 365Chess.com (https://www.365chess.com/players/David_G_Rupel) by Rupel played with that very move played by his opponent! Unfortunately for David the result was the same…

Roiz Baztan, David (2316) – Rupel, David G (2132)
B12 Oviedo open 2007

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Qc7 4. e5 Bf5 5. Ndf3 e6 6. Bd3 Bxd3 7. Qxd3 Nd7 8. Ne2 Be7 9. O-O c5 10. c3 Rc8 11. Bf4 h5 12. Rfc1 c4 13. Qd2 Nh6 14. Bg5 Nf8 15. b3 Bxg5 16. Qxg5 Nf5 17. bxc4 Qxc4 18. Nf4 h4 19. Nh5 Nh7 20. Qg4 g6 21. Nf6+ Nxf6 22. exf6 Qd3 23. c4 Rxc4 24. Ne5 Qxd4 25. Qxd4 Nxd4 26. Nxc4 Ne2+ 27. Kf1 Nxc1 28. Nb2 Nxa2 29. Rxa2 a6 30. Nd3 h3 31. g4 O-O 32. Rc2 b5 33. Rc7 a5 34. Ne5 a4 35. Ra7 d4 36. Ke2 Rc8 37. Nxf7 a3 38. Ng5 b4 39. Rg7+ Kf8 40. Nxe6+ 1-0

Most often when a lower rated player goes his own way against a GM he can call it another lonely day.

Hung Up

Gull 3 (3116) vs Hannibal 1.5×12 (2998)
TCEC Season 7 – Stage 2
Rd 5
D41 QGD: Semi-Tarrasch, Keres Counterattack

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 cxd4 6. Qxd4 exd5 7. e4 Nc6 8. Bb5 dxe4 9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 10. Ng5 Be6 11. O-O Kc7 12. Ngxe4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Rd8 14. Bf4+ Kb6 15. Ba4 f5 16. Nc3 Bc4 17. Rfc1 h6 18. h4 Bb4 19. a3 Be7 20. b3 Bd3 21. Bxc6 bxc6 22. Re1 Bxh4 23. Na4+ Kb7 24. Nc5+ Kb6 25. Rac1 Rd5 26. Be3 f4 27. Bxf4 Bf6 28. Be3 Bf5 29. Ne4+ Kb7 30. Nxf6 gxf6 31. Rc4 Rh7 32. Rec1 Bd7 33. Bc5 a6 34. a4 h5 35. Rf4 h4 36. Kh2 Rd3 37. Rb4+ Kc7 38. Rb6 a5 39. Ra6 Rxb3 40. Rxa5 Rg7 41. Ra7+ Kb8 42. Rd1 Rb7 43. Ra5 Rb3 44. Rd6 Rf7 45. Be3 Rb4 46. Rd3 Rh7 47. Bc5 Rb1 48. Bd4 1-0

The game ended when “Black’s connection stalls.” Black got “hung up,” as we say in the South, as in, “Honey, I got hung up at work,” or, “Honey, I got hung up in traffic,” or my favorite, “Honey, I got hung up paying the bar tab.” That is when she says, “Honey, it is obvious our connection has stalled.” This actually happened to me back in the ’70’s. It went something like this:

Blues Brothers Tunnel Scene

It is not just chess playing machines that sometimes become “hung up.” A recent example would be GM John Nunn, called “Dr. Death” at the House of Pain, by a Master level player from England, David Fletcher. In an article, “John Nunn Behind the Board Again at World Seniors,” (http://www.chess.com/news/john-nunn-behind-the-board-again-at-world-seniors-2325), Peter Doggers writes, “He played his last official game of chess in August 2006, but now he’s back at the chess board: John Nunn. The English GM and acclaimed author is playing in the 50+ World Seniors in Katerini, Greece.”

Dr. Death had produced four wins and one draw before sitting down behind the Black soldiers in the sixth round to face GM Zurab Sturua from the country of Georgia.

GM Matthew Sadler left a comment on October 28, 2014, “However, this is not a dream story as of yet. Nunn’s first tournament in eight years is a tough one with no less than 11 rounds scheduled. Besides, yesterday he suffered a devastating loss”:

Sturua, Zurab (2523) vs. Nunn, John D M (2602)
World Senior 50+ 2014 | Katerini GRE | Round 6.1 | 29 Oct 2014 | ECO: E60 |

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 c6 5. Bg2 d5 6. Qb3 O-O 7. O-O Qb6 8. Nc3 Na6 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. Na4 Nd7 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. Bd2 e6 13. Rfc1 b5 14. Nc3 b4 15. Nb5 Nb6 16. b3 Rd8 17. Ne5 Bf8 18. Nd3 Bd7 19. Nc7 Rac8 20. Bg5 1-0

The Chess Bomb (http://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2014-senior/06-Sturua_Zurab-Nunn_John_D_M) showed this possible line leaving White up “only” 1.1 (20… Nb8 21. Nc5 Bc6 22. Bxd8 Rxd8 23. a4 bxa3 24. N7xe6 fxe6 25. Nxe6 Re8 26. Nxf8 Rxf8). In the modern chess world this game would have been played to checkmate, but Dr. Nunn comes from the chess world of last century. One of the kibitzers on the Bomb explained the decision to resign as ” self-disgust.” This is the kind of thing that happens to a 59 year old player who has not played in almost a decade. Fatigue takes a toll and the brain gets “hung-up.” A Senior begins playing moves that look good to him in his mind, but once played on the board he soon realizes his “connection has stalled.” This leads to what is popularly called a “brain cramp.” Nearing 60 a man realizes that out of a week of days he will have one or two when things just do not seem to compute. He is working just as hard at the board as the day before but realizes things are not quite right because his brain is “hung-up.” This is disconcerting to a Senior in the same way as when he calls on the Old Soldier to jump to “Ten Hut!” but it remains “at ease.” In addition, Dr. Nunn’s biorhythms (http://www.facade.com/biorhythm/ ) show he was, and is, at his low ebb intellectually and will stay there for the duration of the tournament. This is mitigated somewhat by his being in a high phase physically, or it could be made worse because when one has much energy it is more difficult to understand why such poor moves are being produced.

Madonna – Hung Up (Official Music Video)