Speed Kills

An article, Do We Still Need Classical Chess? by GM Gregory Serper, was published on Chess.com a few days ago. The Grandmaster begins with this statement: The classical format of our beloved game is under attack.

Fact is, the classical format has been under attack for many years. Consider this article published much earlier this decade, Slow Chess Should Die a Fast Death – Part 2
This was published November 5, 2015, by IM Greg Shahade on his blog (https://gregshahade.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/slow-chess-should-die-a-fast-death-part-2/).
Greg wrote, “Wow. Part 1 of this blog was by far the most controversial thing I’ve written. The blog received hundreds of comments on multiple websites, for instance reddit and chess.com.
There was lots of positive feedback and also lots of violently aggressive negative feedback. I can’t imagine that I’d get more hatred from some of these people than if I kidnapped their child. Multiple people even made it clear that I must have wrote the blog because I was so jaded due to some slow chess game that I lost in the past or that I had some deep, dark emotional problems that were finally manifesting themselves in my blog.
One person, a complete stranger, was seemingly so offended by the article, that at 4:17 AM they posted a tweet on my Twitter feed that simply said “@GregShahade Jackass”
What’s the truth? I love chess but I also live in the real world and realize that 5-6 hour chess games are an impractical use of resources and time.”

GM Serper writes: “People are complaining about boring games that lead to an abundance of draws in super-GM tournaments. They are trying to change everything: the scoring system (three points for a win, one point for a draw), the time control and even the traditional tournament format.
One of the latest attempts was made in the recent Norway Chess super-tournament in Stavanger. To put it mildly, the result failed to impress.
Not only were there a lot of draws; some of them were true “gems.” Look at this:

Alexander Grischuk (2775) vs. Wesley So (2754)
1/2-1/2 Norway Chess Stavanger NOR 5 Jun 2019 Round: 2.5 ECO: C67

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 d5 9. exd6 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd6 11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qd6 13. Qe4+ Qe6 14. Qd4 Qd6 15. Qe4+ Qe6 ½-½

These triple repetition games can be stopped simply by adopting the Go rule, Ko, which prevents repeating the position endlessly. In the above game, for instance, Grischuk would have been unable to play 13 Qe4+ and would, therefore, have had to make a different move.

Serper poses the question, “Can we blame the players for a short draw that didn’t produce a single new move?”

YES, we can, and I will! The so-called “game” is BULLSHIT! No one other than the players are responsible for stinking up the tournament hall.

Serper follows up with, “They quickly figured out that rather than play for four hours, they can make a quick draw and decide the outcome in a fraction of that time. Some people would call it efficiency and some might call it cynicism.”

I call it blasphemy against Cassia.

The GM continues, “I’ve shared my opinion on the subject many times. I laugh when some people claim that classical chess is dead from “draw death.” Somehow, Magnus Carlsen’s opponents in the recent super-tournaments didn’t get the memo and that’s why they couldn’t hold the world champion to a draw frequently.”

Magnus Carlsen plays to WIN, which is why he is the human World Champion.

Serper continues, “Now let’s talk about boring chess vs. exciting chess.
The recent match between Benjamin Gledura and Awonder Liang was indeed very interesting to watch. Blunders are unavoidable in blitz and this is a major part of the entertainment.”

I derive absolutely no pleasure from watching the best human Chess players alive produce a festival of blunders. As I have written previously on this blog, Chess is NOT Backgammon! To play Chess well requires TIME to COGITATE! Backgammon can, and is played at a fast pace because it is a much simpler game than Chess.

The GM then shows a game after writing, “Nevertheless, when I watched the finish of the following game I could almost hear some people asking: “Are they really grandmasters?”

Exactly. Some people may enjoy watching Chess GMs play what GM Yasser Seirawan called, “Howlers,” followed by more howlers, but I am not one of them.

After presenting the ridiculous “game” Serper then writes, “This is precisely why blitz was strictly forbidden when I was a student of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov school. The Patriarch believed that blitz hurt your chess. I even asked him if he ever played blitz himself. Botvinnik looked surprised by such a stupid question and paused for a moment. Indeed, what kind of a chess player would never play blitz?
“Of course I’ve played blitz,” he finally answered. “Once. On a train.”

GM Serper then compares the games Benjamin Gledura played with different time controls, before writing, “On one side we have a lot of excitement (and of course blunders!) in his blitz games. On the other side we have an extremely well-played and instructive game in a regular time control.
Many people will probably call this endgame boring. So, do we still need classical chess?

My reply is, Hell Yeah! Without classical there is no Chess.

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Leningrad Dutch Wins 2019 US Chess Championship!

When four time US Chess Champion Hikaru Nakamura

absolutely, positively had to win with the black pieces in the final round of the 2019 US Championship he played the Leningrad Dutch

against Jeffrey Xiong

and won in style. Since Fabiano Caruana,

the world co-champion of classical Chess according to World Rapid Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen,

could only draw with the 2018 US Chess champion Sam Shankland

in the last round, and newcomer Lenier Dominguez Perez

managed to draw a won game versus tournament clown Timur Gareyev,

included only because he won the US Open, which is not and has not been an elite tournament for many years, Hikaru Nakamura, by winning became a five time winner of what he called, “…a super event, almost.” The inclusion of Timur the clown and Varuzhan Akobian,

a “fan favorite” at the St. Louis Chess Club we were informed by GM Maurice Ashley, made the event “almost” a super event. It is time the people in the heartland stop with the gimmicks and include only the best players on merit in the US Chess championship.

I have spent many hours this decade watching the broadcast via computer of the US Chess championships. The broadcasts have gotten better each year and now can be considered “World Class.” Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan,

Maurice Ashley,

and “Woman” Grandmaster (inferior to “Grandmaster” as she is only a Life Master according to the USCF), Jennifer Shahade

do an excellent job of covering the US Chess championships. The manager of the old Atlanta Chess Center, aka the “House of Pain,” David Spinks was fond of saying “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY, man!” He found it difficult to believe anyone could watch anything, like Baseball or Golf, and not “pull” for someone, anyone, to win. I will admit to “pulling” for Bobby Fischer

to beat Boris Spassky

in 1972 World Chess championship, which he did, but now simply enjoy watching the event unfold. Every round is a different story, a story told well by Yaz, Maurice and Jen. But when Hikaru Nakamura moved his f-pawn two squares in reply to his opponent’s move of 1 d4 I unashamedly admit I began to “pull” for Hikaru to win the game and the championship. I was riveted to the screen for many hours this afternoon as the last round unfolded.

One of the best things about traveling to San Antonio in 1972 was being able to watch some of the best Chess players in the world, such as former World Champion Tigran Petrosian

and future WC Anatoly Karpov,

make their moves. I also remember the flair with which Paul Keres

made his moves. All of the players made what can only be called “deliberate” type moves as they paused to think before moving. IM Boris Kogan gave anyone who would listen the advice to take at least a minute before making a move because your opponent’s move has changed the game.

Lenier Dominguez Perez took all of eleven seconds to make his ill-fated twenty sixth move. If he had stopped to cogitate in lieu of making a predetermined move he might be at this moment preparing to face Nakamura in a quick play playoff tomorrow. I’m glad he moved too quickly, frankly, because I loathe and detest quick playoffs to decide a champion. Classical type Chess is completely different from quick play hebe jebe Chess. Wesley So obviously lacks something I will call “fire.” He took no time, literally, to make his game losing blunder at move thirty. Maybe someone will ask them why and report it in one of the many Chess magazines published these days.

What can one say about Jennifer Yu

other than she has obviously elevated her game to a world class level. She is young and very pretty so the world is her oyster. It was a pleasure to watch her demolish the competition this year. Often when a player has the tournament won he will lost the last round. Jennifer crowned her crown by winning her last round game, which was impressive.

The quote of the tournament goes to Maurice Ashley, who said, “When you’re busted, you’re busted.”

Best interview of this years championships:

Jeffery Xiong (2663) – Hikaru Nakamura (2746)

US Chess Championship 2019 round 11

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. d5 Na5 9. b3 c5 10. Bb2 a6 11. Ng5 Rb8 12. Qd3 Qe8 13. Nd1 b5 14. Qd2 Nb7 15. Ne3 Nd8 16. Nh3 Bd7 17. Rad1 b4 18. Qc2 a5 19. Nf4 a4 20. h4 Ra8 21. Qb1 Ra6 22. Bf3 Qf7 23. Neg2 Ng4 24. Bxg4 fxg4 25. e4 Bxb2 26. Qxb2 Qg7 27. Qxg7+ Kxg7 28. e5 Bf5 29. exd6 exd6 30. Rfe1 Nf7 31. Re7 Kf6 32. Rb7 axb3 33. axb3 Rfa8 34. Ne3 Ra1 35. Kf1 Ne5 36. Rxa1 Rxa1+ 37. Ke2 Nf3 38. Nxf5 Kxf5 39. Ke3 Re1+ 40. Kd3 Ne5+ 41. Kd2 Ra1 42. Ne6 h6 43. Rb6 Ra3 44. Kc2 Ra2+ 45. Kd1 Nd3 46. Rxd6 Nxf2+ 47. Ke1 Nd3+ 48. Kd1 Ke4 49. Nc7 Nf2+ 50. Ke1 Kd3 51. Rxg6 Ne4 52. Kf1 Nxg3+ 53. Kg1 Ne2+ 54. Kh1 Ke3 55. Rf6 Ra1+ 56. Kg2 Rg1+ 57. Kh2 g3+ 58. Kh3 Rh1+ 0-1

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 (Stockfish 181218 at depth 50 considers 7…c6 the best move. The game move has been my move of choice)

8. d5 Na5 (An older version of SF plays this but the newer versions prefer 8…Ne5, the only move I played because as a general rule I do not like moving my knight to the rim, where it is dim, much preferring to move it toward the middle of the board)

9. b3 c5 (9…a6, a move yet to be played, is the move preferred by Stockfish at the CBDB, while Houdini plays 9…Ne4)

10. Bb2 (SF 10 shows 10 Bd2 best followed by 10 Rb1 and Qc2) a6 11. Ng5 TN (SF has 11 Rb1 best, while Komodo shows 11 e3, a move yet to be played, but Houdini shows 11 Qd3 best and it has been the most often played move. There is a reason why the game move has not been seen in practice)

Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen (2469) vs Andres Rodriguez Vila (2536)

40th Olympiad Open 08/30/2012

1.Nf3 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c4 O-O 6.Nc3 d6 7.d4 Nc6 8.d5 Na5 9.b3 c5 10.Qc2 a6 11.Bb2 Rb8 12.Rae1 b5 13.Nd1 bxc4 14.bxc4 Bh6 15.e3 Ne4 16.Ba1 Rb4 17.Nd2 Nxd2 18.Qxd2 Rf7 19.Nb2 Bg7 20.Nd3 Nxc4 21.Qc2 Na3 22.Qc1 Ra4 23.Bxg7 Rxg7 24.Nb2 Ra5 25.e4 Nb5 26.a4 Nd4 27.e5 Bd7 28.exd6 exd6 29.Nc4 Rxa4 30.Nxd6 Qb6 31.Ne8 Rf7 32.d6 Bc6 33.Qh6 Qd8 34.Bxc6 Nxc6 35.Nc7 Re4 36.f3 Re5 37.Qd2 Rxe1 38.Rxe1 Nd4 39.Qf4 g5 40.Qe3 f4 41.Qe7 Nxf3+ 42.Kh1 Qf8 43.Qxf8+ Rxf8 44.Re7 Nd4 45.gxf4 gxf4 46.d7 Nc6 47.Re8 Nd8 48.Nxa6 c4 49.Re4 c3 ½-½

Z. Ilincic (2465) vs D. Sharma (2344)

Kecskemet Caissa GM 02

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. d5 Na5 9. b3 c5 10. Bb2 a6 11. Rb1 Rb8 12. Ba1 Bd7 13. Qd3 b5 14. h3 bxc4 15. bxc4 Rb4 16. Nd2 Qc7 17. Kh2 Rfb8 18. f4 Rxb1 19. Rxb1 Rxb1 20. Qxb1 Qb7 21. Qxb7 Nxb7 22. e3 Na5 1/2-1/2

The headline, Bearded men look angrier than clean-shaven types when they are angry made me think of Hikaru Nakamura:

I could not help but wonder if the beard had anything to do with his play in this tournament?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6867435/Australian-scientists-say-bearded-men-look-angrier-clean-shaven-types.html

The Magic Bus to the 2018 World Human Chess Championship

Because the World Human World Championship has been, for the most part, sort of boring I have spent a considerable amount of time watching the games of the concurrent World Senior tournament. While so doing I have listened to some of the patter from Yaz, Maurice, and Jen,

in the event some kind of action breaks out on the board between Maggie and Fabi. Although there were a few games worth following, the fact is that much of the time has been spent with special guests whom drone on and on until I simply can no longer stand it and I turn off the sound.

During one of the obviously much needed breaks for the human commentators filmed “fireside chats” have filled the time, and they have been much appreciated because they have been far more interesting than the non action filled WHCC. I have lived through much of the history that was discussed but still found it interesting, while thinking how wonderful it must be for younger Chess fans who know little, if anything, about the history of the Royal game.

During one segment the topic was Magnus Carlsen and I believe it was Yasser and Maurice discussing the performance of Magnus in one of the Sinquefield Cups. I believe it was Yasser who mentioned a last round game in which Levon Aronian offered Magnus a draw which would win the tournament for Carlsen. Magnus refused the offer and that made a huge impression on Yasser. I seem to recall Yaz saying something about it telling him what kind of player was Mr. Carlsen.

What happened to that Magnus Carlsen? Who is the imposter taking his place in this World Championship?

Reading some of the comments Magnus made before the tournament, such as lamenting the fact he does not have the energy he had a few years ago, caused me to wonder if Magnus is simply burned out and needs to take a long break from the game. His play over the past twelve games reminded me of something heard when young. “Listen to what a man says, but watch what he does,” my Mother was fond of saying.

Magnus has been playing “tired” Chess for some time now. Maurice mentioned the fact that when it came time for Magnus to “dig deeply into the position,” Magnus was taking only a few minutes before producing a move. There is always a reason this happens to any Chess player. We can only speculate until Magnus produces the reason for his inability to concentrate and “grind.” A short time ago Magnus was known as the ultimate “grinder” because he was willing to sit for hour after hour grinding out a win from a small advantage. In the last real game of the current world championship match Magnus was incapable of grinding out a won game.

I spent an inordinate amount of time today reading, watching and listening, to commentary about game twelve.

After the players were interviewed by GM Daniel King,

and answered questions from reporters, the strongest female Chess player of all time, Judit Polgar,

said this to her co-host Anna Rudolf

about eighteen minutes into the film below. “In his (Magnus Carsen) head he was not ready to win today’s game. He just wanted to move on to the playoffs and I think it can cost him the crown because this mistake will maybe will not be forgiven to him. That he did not try/ He did not want it anymore to win in classical game because this shows something we’ve never seen before by Magnus, and it’s not a good sign necessarily.”

Decades ago a young female Chess player to whom I had given lessons, Alison Bert, was about to battle a legendary Georgia player. She came to me and asked, “Who will win?” I thought for a few moments because at that time I considered the man a friend. The reply was, “The one who wants it the most.” She walked to the board with a purpose and beat that man down.

Magnus Carlsen is a great Chess player, one of the best of all time. The Magnus who is playing in this match is a shadow of the younger Magnus, and Carlsen has said as much recently. Yet Fabiano Caruana was unable to beat an obviously weakened Magnus Carlsen once. That fact attests to just how great is Magnus Carlsen.

Fabiano Caruana showed nervousness in the first game but Magnus was unable to finish him off. The same thing happened in the last game of the real match, the so-called “classical” games. The World Human Chess Championship is there for Caruana’s taking. To take the title he must want it more than Magnus.

Every day I get in the queue (Too much, Magic Bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, Magic Bus)
I’m so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, Magic Bus)
Your house is only another mile (Too much, Magic Bus)
Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much, Magic Bus)
You’ll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much, Magic Bus)
I don’t want to cause no fuss (Too much, Magic Bus)
But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much, Magic Bus)
Nooooooooo!
I don’t care how much I pay (Too much, Magic Bus)
I want to drive my bus to my baby each day (Too much, Magic Bus)
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it … (You can’t have it!)
Thruppence and sixpence every day
Just to drive to my baby
Thruppence and sixpence each day
Because I drive my baby every way
Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
I said, now I’ve got my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)
I said, now I’ve got my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)
I drive my baby every way (Too much, Magic Bus)
Each time I go a different way (Too much, Magic Bus)
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it

[Outro]
Every day you’ll see the dust (Too much, Magic Bus)
As I drive my baby in my Magic Bus (Too much, Magic Bus)

Plagiarizing Ltisitsin’s Gambit

While researching the Lisitsin gambit for the previous article I found an interesting article which brought back memories. The article was in the Kingpin Chess Magazine, The Satirical Chess Magazine. (http://www.kingpinchess.net/)

I was surprised to see it is still in existence, though it appears now to be only online. Back issues can still be purchased. If only I could recall the issue shown to me by Thad Rogers many years ago. The particular issue contained a picture of a buxom lassie, nude from the waist up. Thad snickered when showing the then risque picture, informing he had to remove it from the table when shown the page containing the bountiful boobies. Today such a picture would not even rate a second glance, but things were much different ‘back in the day’ before the internet. The magazine was definitely the Kingpin of that tournament, if you get my drift. I recall a later discussion about the picture with one player, a religious type, asking, “Wonder why Thad did not show it to me?”

The article found concerning the Litsitsin gambit is dated February 25, 2010:

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

This item deals with an accusation of plagiarism leveled against GM Raymond Keene

in the magazine Inside Chess: May 3rd, 1993, pages 24-25; June 14th 1993, page 19 and February 7th 1994, page 3. We are grateful to Inside Chess, now owned by Chess Café, for permission to reproduce this material and would refer the reader to the website http://www.chesscafe.com where Yasser Seirawan contributes a regular Inside Chess article.

Inside Chess, May 3 1993

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

By IM John Donaldson

Examples of plagiarism are not unknown in chess literature, but Raymond Keene has set a new standard for shamelessness in his recent work, The Complete Book of Gambits (Batsford, 1992). True, the work of completely original nature is rare in the field of opening theory. The conscientious author typically collects material from a large number of sources (in itself a time consuming but useful task) and offers some new ideas of his own. Unfortunately, Mr. Keene has done nothing less than steal another man’s work and pass it off as his own.

Blatant

A glance at pages 128-132 of his recent book, The Complete Book of Gambits, and a comparison with my two-part article on Lisitsin’s Gambit, which appeared in Inside Chess, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 25-26, and Issue 4, page 26, early in 1991, reveals that not only did Mr. Keene have nothing new to say about Lisitsin’s Gambit, he could hardly be bothered to change any of the wording or analysis from the articles that appeared in Inside Chess, other than to truncate them a bit. What’s more, no mention of the original source was given in the The Complete Book of Gambits, misleading the reader as to the originality of Mr. Keene’s work.

Just how blatant was the plagiarism? Virtually every word and variation in the four-and-a-half pages devoted to Lisitsin’s Gambit in Keene’s book was stolen. Take a look at the following example: In Inside Chess, Volume 4, Issue 3, page 26 the following note is given after the sequence 1.Nf3 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Ng5 Nf6 4.d3 e5;

Accepting the gambit is foolhardy – 4…exd3 5.Bxd3 (The position is exactly the same as From’s Gambit: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 with the exception that White’s Knight is already on g5, which spells a quick end for Black) 5…g6 (5…d5? 6.Bxh7) 6.h4 (Botvinnik gives 6.Nxh7! Rxh7 7.Bxg6+ Rf7 8.g4! [For 8.Nd2 see Supplemental Games next issue] 8…d5 9.g5 Ne4 10.Qh5 Nd6 [10…Be6 11.Bxf7+ Bxf7 12.g6] 11.Bxf7+ Nxf7 12.g6 winning) 6…d5 (6…e6 7.h5 Rg8 8.Nxh7 with a winning game Dorfman-Villareal, Mexico 1977) 7.h5 Bg4 8.f3 Bxh5 9.g4 Qd6 10.gxh5 Nxh5 11.Rxh5! Qg3+ (11…gxh5 12.f4 Qf6 13.Qxh5+ Kd7 14.Nf7 Rg8 15.Qxd5+) 12.Kf1 gxh5 13.f4 Qh4 14.Qf3 c6 15.Ne6 Kd7 16.Bf5 Bh6 17.Be3 Na6 18.Nc3 Nc7 19.Nc5+ Ke8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Qxh5+ Qf7 22.Bd7+ winning) – analysis by “King’s Pawn” in a 1956 issue of Chess.

Besides 4…e5 Black has two important alternatives in 4…e3 and 4…d5. For the former see issue 4. After the latter White gets the edge via 5.dxe4 h6 6.Nf3 dxe4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Ne5 Ke8 (8…Be6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 c6 11.O-O-O Ke8 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Bc4 Bf5 14.h3 g5 15.Be5 Bg7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Rhe1 and White is better in Sergievsky-Chistyakov, USSR 1964) 9.Bc4 e6 10.Ng6 Rg8 11.Nxf8 Rxf8 12.Nc3 and White is better in Podzielny-Castro, Dortmund 1977.

In The Complete Book of Gambits the following note is given after 4…e5;

Accepting the gambit is foolhardy – 4…exd3 5.Bxd3 (The position is exactly the same as From’s Gambit: 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 with the exception that White’s Knight is already on g5, which spells a quick end for Black) 5…g6 (5…d5? 6.Bxh7) 6.h4 (Botvinnik gives 6.Nxh7! Rxh7 7.Bxg6+ Rf7 8.g4! d5 9.g5 Ne4 10.Qh5 Nd6 [10…Be6 11.Bxf7+ Bxf7 12.g6] 11.Bxf7+ Nxf7 12.g6 winning) 6…d5 (6…e6 7.h5 Rg8 8.Nxh7 with a winning game Dorfman-Villareal, Mexico 1977) 7.h5 Bg4 8.f3 Bxh5 9.g4 Qd6 10.gxh5 Nxh5 11.Rxh5! Qg3+ (11…gxh5 12.f4 Qf6 13.Qxh5+ Kd7 14.Nf7 Rg8 15.Qxd5+) 12.Kf1 gxh5 13.f4 Qh4 14.Qf3 c6 15.Ne6 Kd7 16.Bf5 Bh6 17.Be3 Na6 18.Nc3 Nc7 19.Nc5+ Ke8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Qxh5+ Qf7 22.Bd7+ ) – analysis by King’s Pawn in a 1956 issue of Chess.

Besides 4…e5 Black has two important alternatives in 4…e3 and 4…d5. The former is considered in the text game whilst after the latter White gets the edge via 4…d5 5.dxe4 h6 6.Nf3 dxe4 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Ne5 Ke8 (8…Be6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.Bf4 c6 11.O-O-O Ke8 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Bc4 Bf5 14.h3 g5 15.Be5 Bg7 16.g4 Bg6 17.Rhe1 and White is better in Sergievyky-Chistyakov, USSR 1964) 9.Bc4 e6 10.Ng6 Rg8 11.Nxf8 Rxf8 12.Nc3 as in Podzielny-Castro, Dortmund 1977.

Fairness Called For

To be fair to Mr. Keene, he did some original work on Lisitsin’s Gambit – or perhaps he just miscopied. Consider the note after the moves 5.dxe4 Bc5 6.Bc4 Qe7 7.Bf7+. The Inside Chess article gives:

“The inaugural game in this variation, Lisitsin-Botvinnik, saw 7.Nc3 Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 Qc5+ 9.Kg3 Qxc4 10.Rf1 O-O 11.Rxf6! gxf6 12.Qh5 Rf7 13.Nxf7 Qxf7 14.Qg4+ Kh8 15.Nd5 Na6 16.Qh4 d6 17.Bh6 Be6 18.Qxf6+ with equal chances.”

Photocopy Would Be Better

The note in The Complete Book of Gambits is exactly the same except that “with equal chances” is changed to “with equal success.” A burst of originality in Mr. Keene’s part, or just Fingerfehler? More originality is seen as “Sergievsky” at Keene’s hands. Perhaps he would do better to just photocopy other people’s work and print that.

Mr. Keene’s behavior is absolutely inexcusable.

Batsford Replies

Dear Mr. Donaldson,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding The Complete Book of Gambits. I have discussed this matter with Raymond Keene who informs me that a full credit for yourself and Inside Chess was prepared with the manuscript to go into the book. However, due to an oversight on his part this became detached and failed to appear in the book. It was not his intention to publish the piece without due acknowledgement.

Mr. Keene offers his full apologies for this unfortunate oversight, which will be put right on the second edition (or the whole piece dropped if you prefer). Furthermore, he is happy to offer you, or any nominated charity of your choice, a share of the UK royalties on the book equivalent to the share that the Lisitsin section occupies in the book. We hope that such a settlement will be amenable to you.

On another matter, Mr. Keene will be the organiser of the 1993 World Championship match between Kasparov and Short and will be happy to supply your excellent magazine with full accreditation if you contact him directly. His fax number is (fax number given).

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Kinsman

Chess Editor (Batsford)

Donaldson Replies

Dear Mr. Kinsman,

Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply.

I would prefer that my work be omitted from any second edition of The Complete Book of Gambits and I suspect that if all the other victims of Mr. Keene’s “unfortunate oversights” are accorded the same privilege, it will be a slender work indeed.

(The complete lack of any bibliography for this book is typical of Keene.)

As for your generous offer of a share of the UK royalties, I would prefer a flat payment of $50 per-page ($200) be sent to me at this address.

Finally, I am afraid Inside Chess will have to cover the Kasparov-Short match without benefit of Mr. Keene’s accreditation which, no doubt, would somehow “detach” itself and “fail to appear” due to an “unfortunate oversight.”

Yours sincerely,

John Donaldson

Associate Editor, Inside Chess

http://www.kingpinchess.net/2010/02/the-sincerest-form-of-flattery/

There is more, much more, that can be found by clicking the link above.

As for GM Raymond Keene, the author of Chess Notes, Edward Winter, (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/index.html) basically ripped Keene a new one at his website. It is sad, really, when one contemplates GM Keene authored one of the best Chess books I have ever read, and many others have had it one their list of the best Chess books of all time.

A word about Inside Chess

magazine from Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind:

A Review of Inside Chess, 1988-2000

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:58PM

For large chunks of its history, Chess Life and Review was provincial, very slow to report on international events, and aimed at a very low readership in terms of skill. There was no internet though, and it had something pretty close to a monopoly in the United States, so strong club players (and up) were stuck. We could get the Informant twice a year (pretty late), and some lucky few of us could occasionally get photocopies of tournament bulletins Walter Browne would bring from overseas.

It was this vacuum that Yasser Seirawan’s

Inside Chess filled in a wonderful way from 1988 to 2000. For most of its run, the magazine came out every two weeks, and it included tournament reports from all over the world, with a special focus on super-tournaments. Sometimes Seirawan himself was a participant in those tournaments, but whether he was or not the reports were timely, colorful, and full of games commented on by the man himself. As an elite grandmaster, he certainly knew what he was talking about, and what was even better was his commentary style.

Seirawan could sling variations with the best of them, but his commentaries were primarily verbal. They were lively, insightful, and highly opinionated. Seirawan was no respecter of persons when it came to annotating a move, and if a move offended his aesthetic sensibilities he could award it a “??”, even if it was played (and praised!) by Garry Kasparov. One may dispute Seirawan’s judgments, but because of his forthrightness the reader is engaged and will both learn and be entertained.

The magazine wasn’t just Seirawan, though it was his baby. Many other players on both sides of the Atlantic helped out over the years, most of all American (by way of Bulgaria) IM Nikolay Minev, who wrote numerous articles from opening theory to chess history to various subtle tactical themes. (Others include GMs John Nunn, Nigel Short and Walter Browne; IMs Jeremy Silman, John Donaldson and Zoran Ilic, and there were many many more.) Nor was the magazine only games and analysis: there were tournament reports (with pictures and crosstables), interviews, discussions of chess politics, news briefs (often fascinating, as we see players who are famous today making their first tiny splashes on the world scene), and ads. (You might think of it as a sort of non-glossy, biweekly version New In Chess.)

That there were advertisements shouldn’t be surprising – bills must be paid. But one might not expect them to have survived into the current product. As an American who remembers many of the tournaments, companies and products advertised from the time, they have a small nostalgic value to me, but in all honesty a format that eliminated them wouldn’t have bothered me a bit. The format, however, gives us no choice: what we have are PDFs of scanned hard copies of the magazine’s issues.

There are three disks in the set: one for 1988-1990, a second for 1991-1995, and a third for 1996-2000. Each issue has its own PDF file, and while the issues are searchable the games can’t be successfully copied-and-pasted into ChessBase. Two handy features are a pair of PDFs: one with an index for the whole series, the other concatenating all 284 issues’ tables of contents. Not ideal, perhaps, but a decent compromise to having one gigantic PDF that would take a long time to load and search.

Maybe the product could have been better, but even so I’m very glad to own a copy, and I can heartily recommend it to chess fans everywhere and of all strengths (especially but not only to those rated over 1700-1800), and to fans of chess of history.

(Ordering information here; and many samples of Inside Chess articles can be found on the Chess Cafe website – type “Inside Chess” [without the quotation marks] in the site’s search box to find lots of sample articles.)
http://www.thechessmind.net/blog/2013/2/6/a-review-of-inside-chess-1988-2000.html

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

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

Chess and Luck

One of my favorite Chess places on the internet is the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter, by IM John Donaldson. If you are new to Chess and unaware, the Mechanics’ Institute is located at 57 Post Street, in San Francisco, California. The newsletter is published almost every Friday, unless IMJD, as he is known, is out of town, as in being a team captain for the US Olympiad squad. The MIN is a veritable cornucopia of Chess information, and it continues to get better and better, if that is possible. The edition this week, #809, is no exception. For example we learn, “An article at the singer Joni Mitchell’s web site mentions she polished her talent at the Checkmate coffeehouse in Detroit in the mid-1960s.” I have just finished reading, Joni: The Anthology, edited by Barney Hoskins, and the just published, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, by David Yaffe, awaits.

John writes, “Few have done as much as Jude Acers to promote chess in the United States the last fifty years and he is still going strong. View one of his recent interviews here.” I love the sui generis Jude the Dude! For the link to the interview you must visit the MIN.

We also learn that, “Noted book dealer National Master Fred Wilson will open his doors at his new location at 41 Union Square West, Suite 718 (at 17th Street) on December 20.” In MIN # 804 we learned that, “Fred Wilson earns National Master at 71.”(!) Way to go Fred! Congratulations on becoming a NM while giving hope to all Seniors, and on the opening of your new location. There is also a nice picture of Fred included, along with many other pictures, some in color, which has really added pizazz to the venerable MIN!

There is more, much more, but I want to focus on: 2) Top Individual Olympiad Performers. John writes: “Outside of the World Championship the biannual Chess Olympiad is the biggest stage in chess. Although it is primarily a team event, individual accomplishment is noted, and no player better represented his country than the late Tigran Petrosian. The former World Champion scored 103 points in 129 games (79.8 percent) and lost only one individual game (on time) in a drawn rook ending to Robert Hubner in the 1972 Olympiad.

Garry Kasparov is not far behind with 64½ points in 82 games (78.7 percent), and unlike Petrosian his teams took gold in every Olympiad he played. Garry won gold but he did lose three games.

Two of the players who defeated Kasparov in Olympiads were present during the Champions Showdown in St. Louis last month: Yasser Seirawan and Veselin Topalov. The latter had an interesting story to tell about the third player to defeat Garry—Bulgarian Grandmaster Krum Georgiev.

According to Topalov, one could not accuse his countryman of being one of Caissa’s most devoted servants. Lazy is the word he used to describe Krum, who loved to play blitz rather than engage in serious study. However it was precisely this passion for rapid transit which helped him to defeat Garry.

Before the Malta Olympiad Georgiev was losing regularly in five-minute chess to someone Veselin referred to as a total patzer. He got so frustrated losing with White in the same variation, over and over again, that he analyzed the line in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf inside and out and came up with some interesting ideas. You guessed it—Garry played right into Georgiev’s preparation. Who says there is no luck in chess.”

The game is given so click on over to the MIN and play over a Kasparov loss in which he let the Najdorf down. (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php)

I want to focus on the part about there being no luck in Chess. After reading this I something went off in my brain about “Chess” & “Luck.” I stopped reading and racked my aging brain. Unfortunately, I could not recall where I had seen it, but it definitely registered. After awhile I finished reading the MIN and took the dog for a walk, then returned to rest and take a nap. I could not sleep because my brain was still working, subconsciously, I suppose, on why “Chess” & “Luck” seemed to have so much meaning to me…It came to me in the shower. I have been a fan of Baseball since the age of nine, and I am also a Sabermetrician.

Sabermetric Research

Phil Birnbaum

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.

Start by thinking about a college exam. There’s definitely luck there. Hardly anybody has perfect mastery. A student is going to be stronger in some parts of the course material, and weaker in other parts.

Perhaps the professor has a list of 200 questions, and he randomly picks 50 of them for the exam. If those happen to be more weighted to the stuff you’re weak in, you’ll do worse.

Suppose you know 80 percent of the material, in the sense that, on any given question, you have an 80 percent chance of getting the right answer. On average, you’ll score 80 percent, or 40 out of 50. But, depending on which questions the professor picks, your grade will vary, possibly by a lot.

The standard deviation of your score is going to be 5.6 percentage points. That means the 95 percent confidence interval for your score is wide, stretching from 69 to 91.

And, if you’re comparing two students, 2 SD of the difference in their scores is even higher — 16 points. So if one student scores 80, and another student scores 65, you cannot conclude, with statistical significance, that the first student is better than the second!

So, in a sense, exam writing is like coin tossing. You study as hard as you can to learn as much as you can — that is, to build yourself a coin that lands heads (right answer) as often as possible. Then, you walk in to the exam room, and flip the coin you’ve built, 50 times.

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It’s similar for chess.

Every game of chess is different. After a few moves, even the most experienced grandmasters are probably looking at board positions they’ve never seen before. In these situations, there are different mental tasks that become important. Some positions require you to look ahead many moves, while some require you to look ahead fewer. Some require you to exploit or defend an advantage in positioning, and some present you with differences in material. In some, you’re attacking, and in others, you’re defending.

That’s how it’s like an exam. If a game is 40 moves each, it’s like you’re sitting down at an exam where you’re going to have 40 questions, one at a time, but you don’t know what they are. Except for the first few moves, you’re looking at a board position you’ve literally never seen before. If it works out that the 40 board positions are the kind where you’re stronger, you might find them easy, and do well. If the 40 positions are “hard” for you — that is, if they happen to be types of positions where you’re weaker — you won’t do as well.

And, even if they’re positions where you’re strong, there’s luck involved: the move that looks the best might not truly *be* the best. For instance, it might be true that a certain class of move — for instance, “putting a fork on the opponent’s rook and bishop on the far side of the board, when the overall position looks roughly similar to this one” — might be a good move 98 percent of the time. But, maybe in this case, because a certain pawn is on A5 instead of A4, it actually turns out to be a weaker move. Well, nobody can know the game down to that detail; there are 10 to the power of 43 different board positions.

The best you can do is see that it *seems* to be a good move, that in situations that look similar to you, it would work out more often than not. But you’ll never know whether it’s 90 percent or 98 percent, and you won’t know whether this is one of the exceptions.

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It’s like, suppose I ask you to write down a 14-digit number (that doesn’t start with zero), and, if it’s prime, I’ll give you $20. You have three minutes, and you don’t have a calculator, or extra paper. What’s your strategy? Well, if you know something about math, you’ll know you have to write an odd number. You’ll know it can’t end in 5. You might know enough to make sure the digits don’t add up to a multiple of 3.

After that, you just have to hope your number is prime. It’s luck.

But, if you’re a master prime finder … you can do better. You can also do a quick check to make sure it’s not divisible by 11. And, if you’re a grandmaster, you might have learned to do a test for divisibility by 7, 13, 17, and 19, and even further. In fact, your grandmaster rating might have a lot to do with how many of those extra tests you’re able to do in your head in those three minutes.

But, even if you manage to get through a whole bunch of tests, you still have to be lucky enough to have written a prime, instead of a number that turns out to be divisible by, say, 277, which you didn’t have time to test for.

A grandmaster has a better chance of outpriming a lesser player, because he’s able to eliminate more bad moves. But, there’s still substantial luck in whether or not he wins the $20, or even whether he beats an opponent in a prime-guessing tournament.

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On an old thread 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?

Well, maybe you’re not sure about “exactly equal skill.” You figure, it’s impossible to be *exactly* equal, so the guy who won was probably better! But, then, if you like, assume the players are exact clones of each other. If that still doesn’t work, imagine that they’re two computers, programmed identically.

Suppose the computers aren’t doing anything random inside their CPUs at all — they have a precise, deterministic algorithm for what move to make. How, then, can you say the result is random?

Well, it’s not random in the sense that it’s made of the ether of pure, abstract probability, but it’s random in the practical sense, the sense that the algorithm is complex enough that humans can’t predict the outcome. It’s random in the same way the second decimal of tomorrow’s Dow Jones average is random. Almost all computer randomization is deterministic — but not patterned or predictable. The winner of the computer chess game is random in the same way the hands dealt in online poker are random.

In fact, I bet computer chess would make a fine random number generator. Take two computers, give them the same algorithm, which has to include something where the computer “learns” from past games (otherwise, you’ll just get the same positions over and over). Have them play a few trillion games, alternating black and white, to learn as much as they can. Then, play a tournament of an even number of games (so both sides can play white an equal number of times). If A wins, your random digit is a “1”. If B wins, your random digit is a “0”.

It’s not a *practical* random number generator, but I bet it would work. And it’s “random” in the sense that, no human being could predict the outcome in advance any faster than actually running the same algorithm himself.

http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2013/01/chess-and-luck.html