I often wonder how many viewers actually read the responses left by Chess fans in the comments section. I admit to having occasionally read comments, and used a few on this blog, but have not made a habit of reading the comments, but an exception was made because of the firestorm caused when the current World Chess Champion withdrew after losing to the young American Hans Moke Niemann in the ongoing 2022 Sinquefield Cup at the St. Louis Chess Campus. What follows are only a few of the myriad comments left, and still being left at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-carlsen-niemann-affair). If you have not read the article you may want to do so before reading any further. In addition, there is a link provided in the article, the best I have ever read at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/), and that is really saying something because Chessbase has featured an untold number of excellent articles over the years, to another excellent and thought provoking article, Paranoia and insanity, by GM Jacob Aagaard (https://forum.killerchesstraining.com/t/paranoia-and-insanity-by-jacob-aagaard/856/1).
The first comment, and arguably the most pertinent, is from Brian Lafferty, a well known contributor to the USCF Forum:
ChessSpawnVermont 9/8/2022 01:33 As a semi-retired US litigation attorney (NY State and Federal Bars), former Assistant District Attorney and Judge, I find it fascinating to watch Mr. Nakamura dig the defamation of character litigation hole that he now finds himself sitting in. Unless he can demonstrate with specificity how Mr. Niemann actually cheated in his otb game against Mr. Carlsen, he will likely have no viable defense should Mr. Niemann sue him for defamation of character seeking monetary damages for injury to his reputation and career. What Mr. Niemann may have done as a twelve or sixteen year old in online competition will likely not be probative at trial and may well be ruled inadmissible at trial. Likewise, suggestions that Mr. Niemann subject himself to a polygraph examination will not be probative. Polygraph examinations are not reliable and are generally not admissible as evidence at trial. (I have seen people lie and pass polygraphs. It’s a skill that is taught and can readily be learned)
Chess.com has also created needless potential liability for itself by barring Mr. Niemann from its site and competitions absent a clear finding that Mr. Niemann cheated otb against Mr. Carlsen. Note also, that at a trial, it is likely that Chess.com will be forced in discovery to reveal to Mr. Niemann’s experts any algorithm used by them forming the basis of a cheating accusation against Mr. Niemann.
I suspect that Mr. Carlsen has received the benefit of legal counsel as he has clearly refrained from making a direct charge of cheating against Mr. Niemann.
Leavenfish At this point, this is all on King Magnus. Will he offer proof…or are we witnessing the sad undoing drama worthy of a Shakespearean King?
He does the one thing any professional would unlikely do: abdicates his crown.
His business empire started crumbling – so much so that PMG seemed ‘forced’ to sell itself to the ‘evil empire’ that is chess.com. How much of a slap in the face must this feel?
Young Princes from different parts of the world (Praggnanandhaa, Niemann…) are mortally and routinely wounding him on the battlefield he once dominated. Some treachery must be afoot!
All this in just the past few months. Have the walls of the castle… simply begun to crack?
Yannick Roy Great article. But to those throwing stones at Carlsen, let’s remember that chess, to a certain extent, induces paranoia. It pitches a mind against another mind. Losing to a young prodigy on a meteoric and quite atypical rise has to be very hard. It is true that after looking into the game and hearing all the declarations of those involved, it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that there was cheating. Carlsen’s mistake on the board pretty much dispels the suspicions one might have had.
Mel Griffin I agree with aleenyc2015 and Soprano.I can’t remember the last time Carlsen lost in a mature manner. If it’s not slamming down pens, or storming off from the podium when Ivanchuk was crowned Rapid Champion. Disrespectful. When Sergey Karjakin was the first to win a game in the World Championship Magnus left the press conference before Sergey even arrived. If Carlsen wasn’t fined for that he damn well should have been. Champs like Fischer, Kasparov and the current one have all gotten away with certain things that no other would. Pointed out by Kramnik years back( he was in fact talking exclusively about Kasparov). Talk to Judit
However, he’s all in for roasting Hans with ZERO proof. It’s obvious that Magnus quit the tournament believing Neimann cheated. If he does not believe this, he should have made a statement to clear up this witch hunt and slander. Magnus need to step up to the plate and be a man. However, being 31. Living with your parents and reading Donald Duck comics…I don’t expect this anytime soon. Pathetic. So Hans blew a couple of analysis lines with the commentator. Big f#%king deal. How many times has Svidler corrected Seirawan during this tourny alone. As far as social media goes. Regardless of subject, it explodes with a plethora of experts who irresponsibly hang a young man’s future in their hands. This is so sad for the world of chess.
fede666 9 hours ago I find this article by far the most informative and unbiased one on this matter on all chess sites … great work
Cato the Younger Cato the Younger Kudos to the author for a superb article.
The impressions left of the two bad actors in this saga are not particularly flattering. Magnus, no doubt acting on the advice of his attorney, heading for the tall grass following his hit-and-run non-accusation. And Hikaru, maniacally pouring gasoline on a campfire
and engaging in what seemed like Schadenfreude. Neither of them expressing the slightest regret or admission of culpability. Well, nobody’s perfect.
But to me the worst villainy emanates from Chess.com. The public expects that a mature, serious business–a behemoth in the sport–would be run with wisdom and probity. But no, instead we see their senior policymaker(s) ‘privately’ imposing dire career-limiting sanctions on a teenager who has been tried and convicted of doing what, exactly? This is an unbelievably gratuitous and unjust action that needs to be reversed immediately with a humble apology, not that this would fully compensate for the damage done. Otherwise, Chess.com’s position amounts to gross misconduct.
Cato is not the only Chess fan who feels strongly about the “villainy” of Chess.com:
Toro Sentado @tweeterbull · 19h Replying to @DanielRensch and @chesscom And you just happened to do this to him the day after Magnus withdrew and you offer no explanation as to why? Incredibly tone deaf – yes. Also incredibly unprofessional. Did Magnus order this? Why is this being done in public? Awful awful awful. (https://twitter.com/danielrensch/status/1568033316347203584)
How has Mr. Rensch responed to the vast number of Chess fans criticizing him and his company?
Daniel Rensch @DanielRensch Replying to @DanielRensch and @chesscom My intention was to add some humor 🤷🏻♂️ not be vindictive. Sorry to everyone if it was tone deaf. Despite the hate and opinions all around, I legitimately want what’s best for Hans (and chess).
Hoping to hear from him… 8:27 PM · Sep 8, 2022 ·Twitter for iPhone
The reputation of the Royal Game is on the line and this clown wanted to “…add some humor.”
If you are a paying customer of Chess.com my question to you is, why are you paying to play online when you can play free at Lichess.com?
In the fourth round of the US Senior Chess Championship being held at the St. Louis Chess Campus International Master Igor Khmelnitsky,
with the white pieces, faced Grandmaster Joel Benjamin.
The game began:
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Qa5 5.Qe2
Regular readers know of my predilection for this particular move of the Queen, but that stems from the famous Chigorin move in the French defense after 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2, and not because the move putting the Queen in front of the King should be played just because it is possible. After Joel played 4…Qa5 Igor had a small advantage which was larger than if his opponent had played the choice of Stockfish, 4…Qb6. Igor’s choice of 5 Qe2 jettisoned the advantage. Why would any titled player make such a move? The SF program at Lichess.com shows the best move is 5 Bd2. Here’s the deal, after 5…e5 6.dxe5 dxe5, white plays 7 Bd2. After the following moves, 7…Na6 8.a3 Be6 9.Nf3 O-O-O 10.Nd5 Qa4 11.Nxf6 gxf6 12.b3 this position is reached:
Yasser Seirawan, Christian Chirila, and Alejandro Ramirez, were big on the exchange sacrifice after the move 12…Rxd2, which they, and the ‘engine’ liked. The question was would Joel pull the trigger?
The plan had been to use this game in the previous post in lieu of the game with Shabalov so there would be two exchange sacrifices rather than the possible sacrifice of the knight on f7, which Joel declined. That was prior to my doing the due diligence that should have been done earlier. I did not go to 365Chess.com and check out the opening because, well, you know, who in his right mind would play such a lame move as 5 Qe2 in that position? What was found rocked the AW. Not only had the move of the Queen been previously played but it had been played against non other than GM Joel Benjamin!
Cemil Can Ali Marandi (2552) vs Joel Benjamin (2526) Event: St Louis Winter B 2018 Site: Saint Louis USA Date: 11/07/2018 Round: 3.3 ECO: A45 Queen’s pawn game 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Qa5 5.Qe2 e5 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Bd2 Bg4 8.f3 Be6 9.g4 Nbd7 10.h4 b5 11.Nd5 b4 12.Qa6 Qxa6 13.Nc7+ Kd8 14.Nxe6+ fxe6 15.Bxa6 Nc5 16.Bc4 a5 17.a3 Rb8 18.axb4 axb4 19.Nh3 Bd6 20.Ra7 Nfd7 21.Ke2 h6 22.g5 Ke7 23.gxh6 gxh6 24.Rg1 Kf6 25.Nf2 h5 26.Bg5+ Kf7 27.Be3 Rb7 28.Raa1 Be7 29.Bg5 Nb6 30.Bd3 b3 31.Bxe7 Rxe7 32.Rg5 Kf6 33.Rag1 Rhh7 34.f4 Reg7 35.Nh3 Nxd3 36.cxd3 Rxg5 37.hxg5+ Kg6 38.fxe5 Rf7 39.Ke3 1-0 https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4152899&m=10
It was then obvious why Igor had played the move of the Queen. Joel had lost the game played years ago, so Igor, after doing his due diligence, decided to play it again while putting the question to GM Benjamin. Had Joel done his homework? One would assume GM Benjamin would have spent much time replaying and annotating the lost game because even lower rated players will scrutinize their losses, so that in the event the same position occurs on the board in a future game they will be prepared and have an answer. Obviously, this did not happen in this case, and it cost Joel dearly. This position was reached in both games after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 Qa5 5.Qe2 e5 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Bd2:
When seeing the position for the first time GM Benjamin played 7…Bg4. He played a different move against Igor:
After surfin’ on over to the analysis program at Lichess.com it was learned the best move in the position, according to the Stockfish program, is 7…Bc5, something Joel should have known. I have previously written about how the programs are revolutionizing the opening phase of the game and how older players who refuse to do their homework are being cut to pieces, metaphorically speaking, over the board (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/06/04/ben-finegold-loses-to-alexander-shabalov-before-drawing-out-the-string/). It is not my intention to judge any player too harshly because we are still in a pandemic. The play has been erratic, if not atrociously abominable, replete with what Yasser likes to call “howler” moves being made with regularity. Still, coming to the board without being prepared is unforgivable. Older players simply MUST forget most of what they have learned about the openings they play and look at them with “new eyes.” The days of getting by with what you know, Joe, are over. It is no longer possible for older players to “wing it.” Seniors can no longer say, “I’ve had this position a million times!” It no longer matters how well one thinks he knows the opening because, as Bob Dylan sang, “Things Have Changed.”
It is the much needed rest day at the St. Louis Chess Campus which means time for the AW to put together a post. Much time has been spent the past five days watching the excellent coverage of the three ongoing tournaments. Having three Grandmasters use the Stockfish “engine” at Lichess.com does seem somewhat superfluous. I can access the SF program at Lichess.com without watching and listening to the GMs pontificate, but then I would miss the wonderful anecdotes, stories and tales related by Yasser Seirawan,
which are worth the price of admission. Still, I cannot help but wonder why Yaz does not play in the event?
It is difficult to comment on the play of the players because of the abnormality of playing during a pandemic. Some players have scraped off some the rust by playing recently while others are covered with the crusty brown stuff. In addition, it is apparent some of the players are not ready for prime time. An example would be that of International Master Igor Khmelnitsky
in the third round when facing GM Max Dlugy
in the seldom played D00 Queen’s pawn, Mason variation, Steinitz counter-gambit. After 1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 c5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 dxe4 5. dxc5 the IM played what the Stockfish program at Lichess.com call a “blunder” 5…Bg4?? The move appears to be a theoretical novelty, and not a good one. After playing the move Stockfish considers white to have a won game. It was no surprise when Igor went down…
IM Carissa Yip
is playing with the boys in the US Junior in lieu of playing in the US Girls Junior and it has not turned out well for the girl, who has drawn two games while losing three, and is in last place, one half point behind Pedro Espinosa,
to whom she lost yesterday. Pedro is the lowest rated competitor in the tournament, sporting a 2130 rating, almost three hundred points less than Carissa. One cannot help but wonder what she is doing playing with the back in town boys when there is a separate tournament for the girls.
The US Junior girls tournament is far weaker since at least one of the girls who took Carissa’s place in the event has shown she is not ready for prime time. The event would have been much more interesting had Carissa played with the girls. This begs the question of why there is a completely separate tournament for the girls? Chess would be much better if there were only tournaments in which everyone, if qualified, could play. Wait a minute, you say, that is the way it is currently. Chess tournaments are open to all, so why segregate female players? Segregation says women are inferior to men, which is the reason female tournaments are open only to women.
Consider the following position emanating from the third round game between Ellen Wang
and Jennifer Yu:
The question is whether Jennifer Yu should play 31…Rg3? Would YOU play the move? Would I play the move? In this kind of position it is virtually impossible for a human, even a Grandmaster, to calculate all the possibilities, which is where the computer program has a distinct advantage over we humans. This is the kind of position in which humans must use intuition to discover the best move. After 31 Rb2 Jennifer had eighteen minutes remaining to reach move 40. She used about half of her remaining time to make her move. For those of you who have not seen the game it can be found here, along with the answer to the question of how much Jennifer Yu trusted her Chess intuition (https://lichess.org/broadcast/us-girls-junior-championship-2022/round-3/EnME23UK)
In the first round GM Joel Benjamin had the white pieces versus GM Alexander Shabalov, who had recently competed in the World Open and must have been tired and it has shown in his tepid play. Shabba is, after all, a Senior, and Seniors require more rest than juniors, or even middle-aged players. The following position was reached early in the game:
From prodigy to champion, Stuart Rachels was the best Alabama saw in chess
by: Tanner Brooks
Posted: Sep 17, 2021 / 10:56 AM CDT
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There was a time when Stuart Rachels seemed to have a bright future in chess. Rachels, a philosophy professor at the University of Alabama, was a chess prodigy who had become the youngest U.S. chess master in history by the time he was 11-years-old. By 1990, he was co-champion of the U.S. Chess Championship and had already played some of the best players in the world. That all changed in 1993, when Rachels decided to walk away from chess.
‘Kids didn’t play chess’
Rachels recalled one of his earliest chess memories in 1977, when he was 7 years old. “I remember trying to capture the queen of one of my father’s graduate students — his name was Greg — by moving a pawn backwards,” Rachels said in an email correspondence with CBS 42. “I was pretty irritated when he made me give him his queen back.” By the time he was 9, Rachels was constantly playing at the Birmingham Chess Club and rapidly improving. “I never played kids when I was a kid, I only played adults,” Rachels said. “Kids didn’t play chess.”
Rachels’ family did everything they could to support him. His father, UAB philosophy professor James Rachels, organized chess tournaments in Birmingham and gave him the means to improve his game, including books, magazines and, later, a trainer.However, Rachels said they never put any pressure on him to play. “A good player will put pressure on himself; extra pressure will only give him stomach aches,” he said. “A kid who isn’t self-motivated doesn’t have what it takes, and parents who try to provide motivation from the outside are only being bad parents.”
In 1981, Rachels became the youngest chess master in American history, beating the record previously held by chess icon Bobby Fischer. Rachels was 11 years and 10 months when he broke Fischer’s record. He remained the youngest U.S. chess master until 1994, when it was broken by Jordy Mont-Reynaud.
Rachels credits Kyle Therrell, a player from Fairfield, and trainer Boris Kogan with his early success. “Without them, forget it, I never would have become good,” Rachels said. “It’s not something you can do on your own, with just books and magazines.”
Early on, Rachels had the opportunity to play against both former and future world chess champions. He lost twice against Garry Kasparov, often referred to as the greatest chess player in history, and he lost to Boris Spassky, Fischer’s opponent in what is considered the “Match of the Century,” the 1972 World Chess Championship. Rachels also drew against future five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand. Rachels described each experience with one word. “Kasparov: Exciting. Spassky: Terrifying. Anand: Exhilarating,” he said.
Rachels faced Spassky in the 1985 U.S. Open in Hollywood, Florida. In his book, “The Best I Saw in Chess,” Rachels recalled Spassky walking over to Kogan to ask why he was so nervous. By the time Rachels collected himself, it was too late: Spassky had out-maneuvered him. When Rachels resigned, the spectators applauded. “I joined in, remembering Spassky’s sportsmanlike applause for Fischer when Fischer took the lead against him in Iceland,” Rachels wrote in his book.
Rachels went on to become U.S. co-champion in the 1989 tournament, sharing the title with grandmasters Roman Dzindzichashvili and Yasser Seirawan.
In 1993, Rachels retired from competitive chess, calling it a “whole-life decision.”
“I wasn’t good enough to compete for the world championship,” he said. “In 1993, the life of your average chess professional in the United States was pretty depressing: very little money, a lot of traveling, an all-male culture, no health insurance, no respect from the general public, etc. A lot of professional players moved to Europe, which I didn’t want to do.”
Rachels said his life didn’t change that much after he retired, gradually weaning himself from the game to focus more on his graduate studies of philosophy. “The main change was not traveling to tournaments in the summer,” he said. “Also, I could stop worrying about how to fix problems in my opening repertoire.”
In his father’s footsteps
Even before stepping away from chess, Rachels took a keen interest in philosophy, something of a family business in the Rachels’ household. His father, James, was a moral philosopher and professor at UAB. His 1971 anthology, “Moral Problems,” shifted colleges from teaching meta-ethics to teaching concrete practical issues. “When people know my father as a philosopher, I say, ‘He was an even better father,’” Rachels said.
Rachels remembers spending a good chunk of his teenage years pestering his father with philosophical questions after he would come home from work. “He was my Boris Kogan in the realm of philosophy. I knew, even back then, how lucky I was, but I know this even better now,” said Rachels.
In addition to his father, Rachels credits people like Donald Rutherford and Robert McCauley from Emory University and Derek Parfit from Oxford University as some influences.
There was one year of graduate school that Rachels was so consumed by philosophy that he let his subscription to his favorite chess magazine lapse. But that was only for a year. Rachels said that he was consumed by chess and by philosophy, but was primarily a student first and a chess player in his spare time. “Even people who have always known me are surprised when I remind them that I never took any time off from school in order to play chess,” Rachels said.
Rachels now teaches philosophy at the University of Alabama as an associate professor specializing in ethical theory.
Returning to the game
Back in June, nearly 30 years after retiring from competitive chess, Rachels took part in the 2021 Alabama Blitz Championship and the 2021 Alabama Quick Championship in Montgomery. Rachels won all of his games to sweep the Alabama Blitz Championship. With all wins and a draw, he pulled out on top in the Alabama Quick Championship as well.
reigning Alabama State Chess Champion and editor for the Alabama Chess Antics magazine, said he always heard older players talk about Rachels with a sense of awe, but he had never had the chance to play him. With Rachels returning, Varagona was not going to miss the opportunity. “For him to resurface after all these years, and for me to finally get to face him in a serious tournament, was a big deal for me. After all, he was Alabama’s strongest player of the 20th century,” said Varagona. “Even though he hadn’t played competitive chess for over 25 years, whereas I was the reigning Alabama State Champion, he beat me very badly! I was impressed.” Varagona said he was too nervous and starstruck against Rachels to play at his best, but believes he would do better if he got another chance to play him.
Rachels said that going back to those tournaments after years away was like sticking his toes in the water. “For me, it was ‘sort of’ like playing in a real tournament. I didn’t consider it ‘fully real’ because the time control was accelerated, we weren’t keeping score, and it didn’t affect my classical rating,” he said. “But I enjoyed it, and I was relieved to discover that I can still push pawns okay.” When asked if he will pursue more competitions or potentially seek attaining the coveted Grandmaster title, Rachels said he will probably play more. “It’s a slow process,” he said. “I doubt I will play again seriously enough to pursue the GM title, but who knows.”
Larger than life
Rachels said that today, things are different for professional players in the United States. While he still believes it to be an odd life, players can make a living on social media platforms, like Twitch, where they can livestream games to subscribers. “The internet brings grandmasters into everyone’s living room,” Rachels said, “or, indeed, everyone’s pocket.” Over the last few years, there has been a boom in the game with more people learning chess for the first time, most notably following the popularity of the Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit.” According to The New York Times, sales of chess sets in the United States rose by around 125% since the show first premiered.
Rachels said he was thrilled to see how popular the game is continuing to be. “I wish people would power down their screens and get out and play more in-person, that would make me even happier. It’s better for the culture to be in-person,” Rachels said. “Interest in chess also surged in 1972 when Bobby Fischer became world champion. This surge feels more real to me, though, because in 1972, it was about Fischer himself, and so when Fischer quit, people lost interest in chess. Now, however, it’s about people actually playing.” Last week, Rachels was inducted into the first class of the Alabama Chess Hall of Fame.
a prominent player and figure in the Alabama chess community, played Rachels a handful of times over 30 years ago. While he wasn’t able to make Rachels’ comeback tournament, Melvin was surprised that he actually participated. “Stuart’s impact on chess is simply as the greatest talent to come out of Alabama,” Melvin said. “His star was bright, but he quit chess at such an early age. He has explained his reasoning with me many times, but I still don’t understand.”
Varagona echoed Melvin, saying that Rachels proved that an Alabama player could reach the pinnacle of chess in the nation, something no Alabama player has come close to achieving since. “There have been many great Alabama chess legends — but then there is Stuart Rachels. Stuart is larger than life.”
d4 f5 2. c4 (Stockfish 250022 @depth 54 plays the game move, but SF 14 @depth 52 will play 2 Nf3. Then there is SF 14.1, the latest and greatest…until 14.2, or whatever name will be chosen for the next incarnation, appears, which will play 2 Bg5(!?) Could that be the reason GM Titas Stremavicius, one of todaze leading exponents of the Leningrad, err, strike that… The dude recently essayed e6 in lieu of d6… [https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/03/12/the-saint-louis-spring-classic-tournaments/] …has had to face 2 Bg5 in sixteen games in the past few years? (https://www.365chess.com/search_result.php?submit_search=1&eco=A80&bid=211209) 2…Nf6 (SF 14 shows 2…e6 at the ChessBaseDataBase. It has been the most often played move with 5037 games in the CBDB and it has scored 58% for white against a composite player rated 2409. The second most popular move has been 2…Nf6 and in 3786 games it has held a mythical white player rated 2410 to a 56% score. Earlier on this blog I advocated black playing the move d6 in response to the d4 + c4 moves when they are played in the Leningrad Dutch. In only 51 games white has scored 58% against players rated on average 2416) 3. g3 (SF 290112 @depth 50 plays this move, as does Houdini, but SF 14 @depth 35 will play 3 Nc3) 3…g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 ((There are 2026 games in which Black has played the game move and in those games it has scored 56%. In 181 games versus a composite player rated 2419 the move 4…d6 has held White to scoring only 53%. Just sayin’..) 5. Nf3 (Three different SF programs each play 5 Nc3) 5…d6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. O-O c6 (SF 14.1 and 250112 each play this move, as does Komodo…) 8. d5 (The CBDB shows this move having been played more than any other move in this position. In addition, 365Chess also shows it as the most played move, but is it best? Stockfish 100221 @depth 47 will play 8 Qb3, a move having been attempted in 137 games, scoring 52% against 2444 opposition. SF 14 @depth 49 will play 8 Bg5. There are only 9 examples of the move contained in the CBDB and White has scored only 39% versus a composite player rated 2387. Then there is SF 14.1, which, given the chance, will play 8 Be3. There are only two examples in the CBDB) 8…Kh8 (This move is a Theoretical Novelty. 8 e5 has been the most often played move, by far, and it is the choice of SF 14 & Houdini) The game can be found in annotated form at various locations on the internet. I suggest the free website: (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-charlotte-chess-im-d-norm-invitational/round-4/96ZmD4uj)
Grandmaster Zapata recently won the Georgia Senior but no game scores can be found at the GCA website (http://georgiachess.org/), and that includes the “magazine”, and I use the word only because that is the name of the “Georgia Chess News,” (http://georgiachessnews.com/) which for many years has been nothing but a venue for book reviews by Davide Nastasio.
would call a “howler.” One of GM Zapata’s strengths has been his ability to play solid, consistent Chess while staying away from “howler” moves. The move was so bad I thought there had been some kind of transmission problem, as the move 25…Ne4 suggests itself as it moves the steed to the middle of the board. 25…Na4 proves the axiom, “A knight on the rim is grim.” Indeed, the knight placed on a4 sure ’nuff looked grim, and dim.
Ah, the Chess players lament upon losing a won game…This writer has lost his share of so-called “won” games. Truth be told, I have lost more than my share of “won” games, because
After half a century playing Chess there is one particular tournament game that stands out in my memory. The game was with National Master Paul Linxwiler, of the Great State of Tennessee. I bungled the opening and butchered the middle game to the point it was only a matter of time before Paul landed the blow causing me to resign. Fortunately, that blow was not forthcoming. Move after move I had to sit there seeing all these winning moves that were not being made. This went on for many moves and much time. It was TORTURE! I refused to allow the thought that the man would continue to play second and/or third rate moves, but that is just what he did, until finally offering a draw. I broke my hand bringing it from underneath the table to take his proffered hand, metaphorically speaking, of course… When we went over the game I pointed out each and every better move he had not played as Paul sat there shaking his head, mortified at what he was seeing…
had one of those “won” games in the third round of the 2021 US Masters. I was watching the action at FollowChess.com, where you get it straight, without analysis or some thermometer type thingamajig bouncing up and down when a move is made. After seeing bad move after bad move being played I will admit to having gone to ChessBomb.com to check out the, shall we say, ‘colorful’ moves being made by Ms. Yu. It was difficult to believe what was being seen, as Jennifer continued playing weak moves, with a generous supply of what GM Yasser Seiriwan would call “Howlers,” thrown into the mix to keep one amazed. No pleasure was taken seeing her torturous moves being played as I reflected on the Linxwiler game… After playing over the game I understood why Jennifer withdrew from the tournament:
IM Josiah Stearman 2413 (USA) vs WGM Jennifer Yu 2247 (USA) U.S. Masters 2021 round 03 D19 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch variation
d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. e4 Bg4 (Although Deep Fritz 13 likes this move, Komodo plays 10…Bg6, as have 1165 humans, compared to the 116 who preferred 10…Bg4) 11. e5? (The ChessBaseDataBase contains only 19 games in which this move has been played; it has only scored 45%. 11 Rd1 has been played 119 times, and is the choice of Stockfish, Komodo, and Houdini while scoring 55% of the time, therefore the question mark) 11…Nd5 12. Nxd5 (Houdini @depth 25 plays 12 h3, as does Stockfish 14 @depth 20. SF 270919 @depth 23 plays 12 Bd2) 12…cxd5 (SF plays12…exd5) 13. Bd3 (Komodo and Fritz play the game move, but SF 11 @depth 23 plays 13 Bb5, a TN) 13…Bh5 (According to the CBDB this move has been played 445 times, which could be a mistake as 365Chess shows only 5 games. SF 13 @depth 37 and SF 221121 @depth 38 both prefer 13…f6. For those of you new to the game, the reason for the move of the f-pawn is to confront the white outpost on e5, which is in your territory and must be dealt with sooner or later, so why not now? Then again, Deep Fritz would play 13…Rc8. The vacillating move made in the game is weak. Allowing your opponent a free move when one begins the game down a move is not to be recommended) 14. Qe3 Be7 15. a5 Nb8 16. Bd2 a6 (Komodo @depth 38 plays this move but SF 240321 @depth 56 plays 16…Nc6) 17. h3 is a TN. (SF & Komodo agree 17 Ne1 is best)
The first time the former US Women’s Chess Champion Nazi Paikidze
appeared on the Armchair Warrioradar was when she played an opening near and dear to my heart. After opening with 1 e4 at the St Louis Autumn GM 2016 her opponent, Jayram Ashwin,
answered with 1…e6, the French defense. When Nazi moved her Queen to e2, the move made famous by the father of Russian Chess, Mikhail Chigorin,
my Chess heart had been stolen. I have been a Nazi fan ever since that day. Although Nazi lost that game her opponent was India’s 39th GM. Unfortunately she has not played the opening again, but I can always hope…Nazi has faced the Leningrad Dutch as white about a half dozen times over the past decade, which makes me wonder if those games influenced her to play the Leningrad Dutch? Inquiring minds want to know so how about a Chess journalist asking Nazi the question of how she came to play the LD? I will admit it was more than her choice of openings that brought Nazi to my attention as I found her coy insouciance attractive.
David Spinks was fond of saying, “You gotta pull for somebody!” For the reasons given above there is much to admire, therefore I ‘pull’ for Nazi.
1.d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 g6 (There is a major internecine fight with Stockfish 180521 between 3…e6 and 3…g6. The Fish is completely divided, as if it had been filleted; split 50-50. My advice is, “When in doubt, play the LENINGRAD!”) 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nh3 (5 Nf3 has been the most often played move with 2104 games in the CBDB, and it shows a 56% success rate. 5 Nc3 has been played in 1630 games, scoring 56%. SF 14 @depth 41 shows 5 Nc3. However, SF 091021 @depth 42 plays 5 Nh3. There are only 237 examples of the move played in this game contained in the CBDB and it has only scored 50% against lower rated opposition than the two aforementioned moves. Just sayin…) 5…O-O (SF 080920 @depth 44 plays 5…c6. There are only 10 games with that move in the CBDB. The most often played move has been 5…0-0, with white scoring 54% of the time. The second most played move has been 5..d6 and it has held white to a 48% score. In the main line any time white has played d4 followed by c4 it is generally a good idea to play an early d6 if you intend on playing the Leningrad Dutch. With the early Nh3 the StockFish computations obviously change. I only faced Nh3 once, in a game with Joe Scott, who I believe was an expert on his way to National Master, but he could have been a NM. I recall Joe telling me he became a NM because of the book The Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations.
Joe moved the Knight to f4 and clamped down on my e6 square and played a fine game, choking the life out of me until I expired. The loss inspired me to devote much time to annotating the game back in BC time. That’s “Before Computer” time. I read anything and everything found on the move 5 Nh3 in order to be prepared the next time I faced the move. Next time never came…but you can bet your sweet bibby that if next time comes around in a Senior event I will be prepared!) 6. O-O (SF 12 @depth 40 plays 6 Nc3) 6…d6 7. d5 (In an article by André Schulz at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/us-championships-2021-r5) this is found after 7 d5, “7. Nc3 is vanishing.” This is strange because two different Stockfish programs show 7. Nc3 as the best move. The CBDB contains 60 with 7. Nc3 and 62 with 7. d5. White has, though, scored 54% with the latter while 7. Nc3 has only scored 48% and this against roughly the same opposition) 7…Na6 (Although Komodo at only depth 18 plays the game move, two different SF programs at double the depth show 7…c6. There are 23 games with 7…Na6 and white has scored 50%; in the 22 games when 7…c6 has been the choice white has scored 59%, with this being against roughly the same level opposition. Given the opportunity to play either move I would play 7…c6, which is reason enough for you to play the move chosen by our girl!) 8. Nc3 Nc5 (The move played in the game has been the overwhelming choice, but SF 13 likes 8…Qe8; SF 14 prefers 8…Bd7. I would play the latter move to complete development) 9. Be3 (SF 13 @depth 37 plays the game move, but SF 210920 @depth 41 plays 9 Qc2, yet 9 Nf4 has been the most often played move with 43 games in the CBDB in which it has scored 63% against 2398 opposition. In 26 games the move played in the game, 9 Be3 has scored 56% against 2452 opposition in 26 games. In 27 games against opposition rated 2482 the move 9 Qc2 has scored an astounding 70%! There is a reason the move 9 Qc2 is the choice of the Fish…) 9…e5 10. dxe6 (Here’s the deal…the CBDB shows 14 games in which this move has been played and one with 10 Bxc5 having been played, yet three different Stockfish programs show 10 b4 as the best move!) 10 Nxe6 (SF 14 plays 10 Bxe6) 11. Ng5 (The aforementioned annotations at Chessbase show, “White has an edge.” There are no games found at either the CBDB or 365Chess containing the move 11 Ng5 so it appears to be a Theoretical Novelty!)
You can find the game annotated all over the internet but since I followed the the game with something akin to religious fervor and made notes along the way I would like to share them with you.
11…c6 12. Nxe6 Bxe6 13. Qb3? This has gotta be bad. I’d be feeling pretty good sitting behind the black pieces after seeing a move like that! Maybe Thalia did not want to leave the Knight undefended with the black squared firing at the Rook on a1 after Ne4 but it does not work…Big advantage for Nazi!)
13…Qe7 14. Rad1 Ng4 15. Bf4 Ne5 16. Qb4 Rfd8? (OMG what has my girl done? Why would she not take the pawn???) 17. b3 g5 18. Bd2 Rd7? (She should play the most forcing move on the board, a5, something I watch the top players not doing as a matter of course. Makes me think of that line from the CSNY song Deja Vu…”It makes me wonder/really makes me wonder’/What’s going on…”)
Qa3 Rf8? (I dunno, Qf6 looks good about now…) 20. Qc1 h6 21. f4 (I thought h6 was OK but now I’m not so sure…taking leaves me with a couple of ugly duckling pawns but bring the Knight back for defense only seems to clog up the works. Nazi has stepped into some excrement) 21…gxf4 22. Bxf4 Kh7? (Why not 22…Qf6?) 23. e4 (What a mess Nazi has stepped into…looks like one of my uncoordinated LD positions. I wanna play Rfe8 but that Rook oughta stay where it is…so maybe dropping the other Rook back to the back rank…or moving, let’s call it ‘repositioning’ the Queen is what the doctor ordered…or was that life support? Things aren’t looking so good for my favorite female player about now…not even a Houdini, or a Houdini program will help her now, I’m sad to write…) 23…Ng6 (Did not consider that move. Looks like Nazi gets opened up like a can of sardines after exf5…) 24. Be3 (What is this? Now I’m pushing the f-pawn while singing, “Save my life I’m going down for the last time…”) 24…Qd8?
(Oh no Mr. Bill, what the fork is this? From where did that idea come?) 25. Bh3 (Well that helps. Qc2 piling on the pressure looked real strong) 24…Rdf7 26. Qc2 (I dunno, taking with Bxf5 looks good. Nazi continues dodging bullets) 26…Qe7 27. Bf4 fxe4 28. Bxe6 Qxe6 29. Nxe4 d5 30. Nc5?
(White coulda come outta all the exchanges better than she did but this has gotta be wrong as it will drive the Queen over and every Black piece will be firing at the White King! What a turnaround!!! 30…Qg4 31. Nd3 Bd4+ 32. Kh1 Re8 33. Rde1 Rfe7 34. cxd5? (I cannot believe this…the woman just let go of the rope!!!) 34…Re2 35. Rxe2 Rxe2 36. Qd1 Qh5 37. g4 Qxd5+ 0-1 (Wow! That is what we call “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat…”)
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
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.
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,
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.”
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)