Spassky’s variation

Svidler, Peter (2743) – Morozevich, Alexander (2724)
67th ch-RUS 2014 Kazan RUS (3), 2014.11.30
A05 Reti, King’s Indian attack, Spassky’s variation

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 3.d3 Bb7 4.e4 g6 5.e5 Nd5 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.Re1 e6 9.c4 bxc4 10.dxc4 Nb6 11.Qe2 Nc6 12.Nc3 Ba6 13.b3 d6 14.Bg5 Qc8 15.Bf6 Bxf6 16.exf6 Qd8 17.Ne4 Nd7 18.Nfg5 Nd4 19.Qg4 h5 20.Qd1 e5 21.Nf3 Ne6 22.h4 Rb8 23.Nfg5 Nd4 24.f4 Nxf6 25.fxe5 dxe5 26.Nc5 Qd6 27.Nxa6 Qxa6 28.Rxe5 Qd6 29.Re1 Rbd8 30.Qd3 Qb6 31.Kh1 Nf5 32.Qc3 Qf2 0-1

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 (According to this is “A05 Reti, King’s Indian attack, Spassky’s variation.” The CBDB ( shows Spassky’s move holding White to only 49%, much lower than the “usual suspect” moves of, in order of frequency, d5; g6; b6; & c5) 3.d3 (Not to be outdone, Svid, a man who appreciates Bob Dylan, counters with another lesser played move, which has scored an astounding 69%, albeit in a limited number of games. Houdini plays Svidler’s move, but Stockfish plays Bg2)
3…Bb7 (The usual move, but Stockfish plays either d5 or e6) 4.e4 (The engines all prefer Bg2, but it has only scored 46%, while Svid’s move has scored 67% in limited action)
4…g6 (A TN on move four and they are in the streets!)
The game ended after Svidler made what Yasser Seirawan would call a “howler.”

Huang, Qian (2464) – Mchedlishvili, Mikheil (2622)
Qatar Masters Open 2014 Doha QAT (5.34), 2014.11.30
A46 Queen’s pawn game
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.O-O c5 6.a4 b4 7.c4 bxc3 8.bxc3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Na6 (Be7 10. Nc3 Ne4 1/2-1/2; Silvino Garcia Martinez (2425) vs Evgeny Pigusov (2540), Santa Clara, 1991) 10.Nc3 Nb4 11.a5 Be7 12.Ne5 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 O-O 14.Bd2 Qc8 15.Qa4 Rb8 16.Kg1 d6 17.Nf3 Qa6 18.Rfb1 Nbd5 19.Nxd5 Nxd5 20.Kf1 h6 21.Rxb8 Rxb8 22.Rc1 Rc8 23.Rb1 Rc6 24.Rb8+ Rc8 25.Rb1 Rc6 26.Rb8+ Rc8 27.Rb1 ½-½

Ga Open Final Round, Board Two: Meruga vs Studen

After Reece Thompson dispatched Maxwell Feng in the last round all eyes turned to the battles taking place on the first two boards. Reece was the leader in the clubhouse with six points. On board two both Shanmukha Meruga and Damir Studen had five points. On the first board Alan Piper had five points, with IM Ron Burnett the lone player with five and a half points.

I have known Damir since he first came to the House of Pain. He had that “look.” Most chess players will know what I mean by the “look.” Call it “desire” or “will to win,” or whatever you would like to call it. Damir’s eyes burned with a fierce intensity; likewise Shanmukha Meruga. His will to win was so intense that the boy had a problem accepting defeat. It was no surprise for me to see Mr. Meruga playing on second board in the last round of the Georgia Open.

Damir had drawn with Grant Oen in round four and IM Burnett in round six.

Damir Studen (2373) vs Grant Oen (2072)
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Bd2 Qe7 5. a3 Bxd2 6. Qxd2 d6 7. Nc3 O-O 8. e4 e5 9. d5 a5 10. Rb1 a4 11. Qc2 Nbd7 12. Bd3 Nc5 13. O-O Nh5 14. Ne2 f5 15. Nd2 f4 16. f3 Rf6 17. Rf2 Rh6 18. Nf1 g5 19. h3 Ng7 20. Nc1 Bd7 21. Be2 Rg6 1/2-1/2

Damir Studen (2373) vs IM Ron Burnett (2467)
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. h3 O-O 7. Be2 a6 8. c5 Nfd7 9. Na4 e5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nd4 Ned7 12. O-O b5 13. cxb6 Nxb6 14. Nc5 N6d7 15. Qc2 Nxc5 16. Qxc5 Bb7 17. Nb3 Nd7 18. Qb4 Rb8 19. Nc5 Qe7 20. Nxa6 c5 21. Qb5 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 Bxb2 23. Bxb2 Rxb2 1/2-1/2

Meruga had earlier beaten lower rated opposition and drawn with class “A” player Jhonel Baniel in round three, and Expert Kevis Tsao in round five.

Kevis Tsao (2082) vs Shanmukha Meruga (1888)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be6 7. Nd4 Qd7 8. Nxe6 fxe6 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. Qh5 Qf7 11. Qxf7 Kxf7 12. Bf4 Be7 13. O-O-O Bf6 14. Rhe1 Rae8 15. Bg3 Re7 16. f4 Rhe8 17. Re2 h6 18. Rde1 e5 19. Bc4 Kg6 20. Bd3 Kf7 21. Bc4 Kg6 22. Bd3 Kf7 23. Bc4 1/2-1/2

The time control for the final two rounds was an almost classical, G/2. The difference between today and “back in the day” is that, if one is fortunate enough to make it to an endgame, one has little or no time to THINK. This is ironic in that high class games between good players are usually decided in the endgame. Because the games were almost real chess, and because my Sunday afternoon was spent riveted to the ‘puter screen, with a wooden board and pieces on which to cogitate, I have decided to share my notes and thoughts by annotating the games on the top two boards. And yes, I did utilize program assistance in order to spare you some of what GM Yasser Seirawan would no doubt call “howlers.”

Shanmukha Meruga (1888) vs Damir Studen (2373)
Final round Ga Open

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3 (This move was played by Jacob Murey (2485) against Heikki Westerinen (2385) at Brighton, 1983: 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3 Bf5 6. b4 Qb6 7. a3 e6 8. Bc4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. d3 c6 11. Qe2 Nbd7 12. Nh4 Bg6 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Bd2 Bd6 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16. dxe4 Be5 17. Rad1 Rfd8 18. Be3 Qc7 19. f4 Bf6 20. Bb3 a5 21. Qg4 Bb2 22. f5 Nf6 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Qf3 gxf5 25. exf5 exf5 26. Qxf5 axb4 27. axb4 Qe5 28. Qxe5 Bxe5 29. g4 Bd4 30. Bxd4 Rxd4 31. b5 Nd5 32. Ra1 Nf4 33. Kh2 Rd2+ 34. Kg3 g5 35. Ra7 Ne2+ 36. Kf3 Nd4+ 37. Ke4 Nxb3 38. cxb3 cxb5 39. Rxb7 Rh2
40. Rxb5 f6 41. Kf5 Kg7 42. Rb7+ Kh6 43. Rf7 Rf2+ 44. Ke4 Rf4+ 45. Kd5 Kg6 46. Rc7 Rf3 47. b4 Rxh3 48. b5 Rg3 49. b6 Rxg4 50. Rc5 Rb4 51. Kc6 g4 52. b7 Rxb7 53. Kxb7 f5 54. Kc6 Kg5 55. Kd5 g3 56. Ke5 g2 57. Rc8 Kg4 58. Rg8+ Kf3 1/2-1/2. Although little played, it has scored as well as the most often played move, 5 d4, according to the CBDB, 57%.) c6 (SF & Hou play e6) 6. Bc4 (The programs prefer d4) Bf5 7. d3 (Missing the first opportunity to play Qe2! It has become popular lately to play this, d3, move in lieu of d4, but it has not scored as well as the older move.) 7…e6 8. O-O (Missing the second opportunity to play Qe2! ) 8…Nd5 (It cannot be correct to move a piece twice in the opening, thereby delaying the development of other as yet undeveloped pieces) 9. Ne2 (The simple Bd2 is best. Even taking with Bxd5 is better) Be7 10. Ng3 Bg6 11. Ne5 O-O 12. Nxg6 hxg6 13. a3 Nd7 14. Re1 Qb6 15. c3 Rad8 16. Qc2 N7f6 17. Bg5 Rfe8 18. Rad1 Qc7 19. Ba2 Rd7 20. Re2 (d4) Bd6 21. Ne4 Bf4 (Nxe4 and Be7 should be considered) 22. Nxf6+ (22. Bxf6 Nxf6 23. Nc5 Rdd8 24. d4 and White has a slight advantage) Nxf6 (22… gxf6!?) 23. Bxf4 Qxf4 24. Red2 g5 25. Bb1 (25. d4 !?) g4 26. g3 Qh6 27. h4 g5 28. hxg5 Qxg5 29. d4 Kg7 30. Kf1 (30. Qd3 !) Rh8 (30… Qd5 !) 31. Ke2 (31. Qd3!) Rh2 32. Rf1 Rd8 (32… Qd5 !) 33. Qd3 Nd5 34. Ba2 Ne7 35. Qe3 Qb5+ 36. Ke1 Qf5 37. Re2 Ng6 38. Qe4 Qg5 (38… Qh5!) 39. Qe3 (Missing his chance to get back in the game with 39 f4!) Qh5 40. Bb1 f5 (Possibly 40… Ne7 improves) 41. Kd1 (Trying to get outta Dodge. Taking the pawn with 41 Qxe6 is obviously fraught with danger. Back in the day the time control would have been reached with additional time being added, so the players would have had time to THINK. These daze the fatigued players have no time to do anything other than continue to push themselves, racking their exhausted brains for a move…any move. 41 Qd3 may be best) e5 42. Rd2 e4 43. d5 Rh1 (43… Rxd5 ! Now White has an advantage) 44. Rxh1 Qxh1+ 45. Kc2 Rxd5 46. Rxd5 cxd5 47. Qxa7 (The more circumspect 47 Qd4+ Kh6 48 Ba2 keeps the advantage) Qf3 48. Qxb7+ (48 Kb3, getting outta Dodge) Kh6 49. Qxd5 (It was imperative to play either 49 Qa7 or Qb6 to guard the pawn on f2) Qxf2+ (49…e3!) 50. Kd1 (With this move the young man let go of the rope. He should have played 50 Kb3!) e3 51. Qd3 Ne5 52. Qe2 Qxg3 53. Bxf5 Qf4 54. Be6 Kg5 55. b4 Qe4 56. Qc2 Qh1+ 57. Ke2 Qg2+ 0-1

A fine last round battle between one who has already made a name for himself and one who is coming on strong. Mr. Meruga has shown he is a force with which to be reckoned with in Georgia.

Signum- Coming On Strong

Hikaru No Chess

The title is a play on the hugely popular Japanese TV series, “Hikaru no Go” (
the popularity of this program is best described by this, “World Go population probably tripled because of ‘Hikaru no Go'”, said Joey Hung, USA 8 dan Go instructor. All of Joey’s Go School ( Go students in Fremont, CA, USA have watched the exciting Go anime. Also, at the World Amateur Go Tournament and Beijing Mental Olympics Tournament, many European, South American and Asian players reflected that they have seen a dramatic increase in Go population due to the ‘Hikaru no GO’ anime.”

“Hikaru no Go (literally The Go of Hikaru or Hikaru’s Go) is a manga (a Japanese comic) and an anime (a Japanese cartoon) about a boy (Hikaru Shindo) who discovers the ancient game when he finds an old board in the attic and meets the spirit of a past Go master (Fujiwara-no-Sai).
The Hikaru no Go manga is published by VIZ Media ([ext] in the United States and Canada, and the Hikaru no Go anime has been licensed by VIZ Media in the United States and Canada. The manga is serialized in the United States version of Shonen Jump (, while the entire anime is viewable at In North America Hikaru no Go is also available on the ImaginAsian TV Channel” (

“Hikaru no Go ( lit. “Hikaru’s Go”) is a manga series, a coming of age story based on the board game Go written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata with an anime adaptation. The production of the series’ Go games was supervised by Go professional Yukari Umezawa (5-dan). The manga is largely responsible for popularizing Go among the youth of Japan since its debut, and considered by Go players everywhere to have sparked worldwide interest in Go, noticeably increasing the Go-playing population across the globe, perhaps tripling it.
Current top Japanese Go professional Iyama Yuta is considered to be part of the influx of young Go players whose generation was inspired by the series.
First released in Japan in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump in 1998, Hikaru no Go achieved tremendous success, spawning a popular Go fad of almost unprecedented proportions” (

Maybe the best way to impart just how popular is “Hikaru no Go” would be to mention that in the December, 2012, issue of the second best chess publication in the world, “Chess Monthly,” the man who recently tied with GM David Howell for first place in the British chess championships, IM Jonathan Hawkins, the author of “Amateur to IM: Proven Ideas and Training Methods,” when asked the question of what is your favorite film or TV series, answered, “Hikaru no Go.” (!)

The impetus for my last post was Hikaru Nakamura. It is no secret that Hikaru has not been playing well recently. I am sure many other fans of “Naka” have “felt his pain.” After blowing a certain win against human World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the third round of the Zurich tournament, I could not help but wonder if he could ever come back from such a defeat, especially since he has never beaten Magnus in a classical game of chess. Now he has finished dead last on his home court of the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center in the latest edition of the Sinquefield Cup. If there is a next S.C. Hikaru should be left out, as was Gata Kamsky this year. It is clear there is something wrong with Hikaru. He would not be a good poker player because he is easy to read. It is obvious from his body language that he is not the same person I saw in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, at the 32nd Continental Open in 2002, when he was kicking ass and taking names. He was brimming with confidence and the world was his oyster.

After losing to Veselin Topalov, the Bulgarian, who is often referred to as a former “world champion” though I know not why, Hikaru was interviewed by GM Maurice Ashley. Maurice said, “There was a moment in the game that the computer spotted an idea and we thought you were for sure gonna play. It’s the kind of move you always play. Yasser said you would play it in a bullet game, the move Bxf2. Tell us your thoughts in this moment right now.” Hikaru responded, “Well, I mean basically I had this exact position up until move 19 up on the board, um, you know, before the game and e5 was not a computer move and I knew it had to be bad but, um, during the game I just couldn’t quite figure it out. Um, OK, obviously I looked at Bxf2 and then I rejected it, but, I mean I just simply did not see the end of the line and more or less it’s unfortunate, but even then later I was still OK and then I just completely lost the thread, so I mean, sometimes things don’t go your way.”

Maurice: “The…we hear this often from really high level players like yourself that something goes wrong in the calculation. Can you ever explain it when that happens, because it seems unnerving even to you guys.”

Hikaru: “Um…well I mean…I’m not so upset about missing this one because I mean it wasn’t clear even though it’s the most intuitive move on the board. I mean, sometimes it happens, but again what can you do, sometimes, sometimes you don’t…I mean, if you don’t calculate perfectly, I mean that’s why, that’s why computers are just much better than all of us.”

Maurice: “Well, at least it’s calculating for sure. You’re in a tough situation now.”

There is a caption underneath a picture of Nakamura on the Chessbase website in an article by Alejandro Ramirez titled “Sinquefield 08: Streak stopped, Event clinched” dated 9/5/2014, “Nakamura has had some trouble calculating this tournament, it is unclear why.”

It appears the wagons have been circled and the popular thing to say is that GM Nakamura finished last, without winning a single game, because his powers of calculation have deserted him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hikaru has been playing badly because he has lost faith in his judgement and doubt has crept in where there once was confidence. Losing will do that to a player no matter what game is being played. Simply put, Hikaru has lost confidence in his intuition. His suspect moves show this fact.

When on his way to becoming World Chess Champion Mikhail Tal played moves that defied calculation. There were no super computer programs in those days so humans could not calculate the ramifications of some of Tal’s moves. Tal could not calculate the ramifications of some of his moves, yet he played them anyway, because his intuition told him they were the right moves to play. Nakamura played like that at one time in the past. Now he seems to be trying to play like a calculating machine. He tells us this with his answer above to the question posed by GM Ashley. “I looked at Bxf2+ and then I rejected it…I just simply did not see the end of the line…”

There is a battle raging inside the head of Hikaru Nakamura. It is a battle between the emotional Captain Kirk and the logical Mr. Spock. Hikaru is an intuitive player, not a calculating machine. He is a poet of the chess board, not a philosopher. I say that with a line from Kevin L. Stoehr, professor of Humanities at Boston University, in mind. He wrote, “Philosophy typically strives for the clarity of definition and proposition. Poetry, in most cases, revels in ambiguity and mystery.” (From the essay, “You Who Philosophize Dylan: The Quarrel between Philosophy and Poetry in the Songs of Bob Dylan” in the book, “Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Thinking).” Later on in the same essay he writes, “Like the true poet that he is, Dylan believes that when it comes to the construction of his lyrics (and certainly the creation of the music itself, we might assume), the power of immediate intuition counts far more than the categorizing and ordering power of the intellect.” Hikaru Nakamura must somehow come to terms with the fact that he is an intuitive player and know that ” the power of immediate intuition counts far more than the categorizing and ordering power of the intellect.”

In an alternate universe Nakamura, at Zurich, after disposing of the former Human World Chess Champion, Vishy Anand, in round two, then beat the new Human World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, in lieu of losing the “won game” as he did in this universe. In that universe Hikaru played 21…Bxf6+ in lieu of the insipid 21…g6, bringing the sinister Topalov to his knees, making him 0-3, and having the black pieces against the Human World Champion the next round. Hikaru would have been in clear second place, only a half point behind Fab Car. Things would have turned out differently. After the tournament in which Nakamura and Caruana tied for first place, bizillionaire Rex Sinquefield put up one million dollars for a match between Naka and Fab Car, with the winner going on to play a match with Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen, with ten million dollars going to the winner. I regret it is impossible for me to give you any more details, as I am certain you would like to know who won the matches in the other universe, but Dr. Walter Bishop’s machine providing a window into the other universe destructed when Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin invaded Ukraine, which caused the other Magnus to decline the match with the other Vishy Anand. This caused World War III in which nuclear weapons were used, which destroyed the window on the other side.

In this universe the best thing our Hikaru Nakamura could do would be to take a page out of Bobby Fischer’s book and take a year or so off from chess to, as Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen said to GM Maurice Ashley after beating Naka for the ELEVENTH time, “Figure it out.”

Hikaru No Go can be watched free at these sites:

The Beatles – Across The Universe

Across The Universe Soundtrack

And Down the Stretch They Come!

The turn has been made at the US Masters and the players have hit the long stretch and are heading for the finish line. Heading into the penultimate round NM Michael Corallo, even with his loss to GM Sergei Azarov on board two in the antepenultimate round, is leading the contingent from the Great State of Georgia. Michael lost in the first round, then scored four wins and one draw, including three wins in a row, including a victory over GM Alex Shabalov. His 4 1/2 points is a half point more than GM Alsonso Zapata, who lost to IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat in round seven. IM Carlos Perdomo has shown his class by coming back after losing his first two games to score four points in the next five rounds with three wins and two draws. Carlos drew with fellow Atlanta Kings member Sanjay Ghatti, who also has four points, last night in the seventh round. Shabba bested another Kings player last night, leaving FM Kazim Gulamali with 3 1/2. The Frisco Kid, NM Richard Francisco and the Denker representative from Georgia, Expert Reese Thompson each have scored 3 points.
As I write this the penultimate round is under way, and four of the games being shown include players from Georgia. Damir, Reese, Kazim and Sanjay are the players being shown. If you are wondering why the top Georgia players are not being shown, I wondered the same thing earlier in the tournament. Most tournaments broadcast the top boards, but they do things differently in NC. Since they did the same thing last year, this year I sent an email to the man in charge, Chacha Nugroho. He replied:
Hi Michael,
Thanks! The lower board we put camera, and I have to find good lighting tables, and those lower live boards are because under the main light of the room. I will post Neal Haris game soon.

Yasser Seirawan was taking about the first time he saw the pieces being used at the STLCC&SC when at Rex Sinquefield’s home. Yaz said they are beautiful and were made specially for Rex by Frank Camaratta, who owns the House of Staunton. I have had the pleasure of being in the home of Mr. Camaratta, which looks like a museum with all the wonderful chess sets on display. Yaz said these particular pieces are to be used with the board for broadcast and there only twenty-five such sets. One can do things like that when one has a billion dollars at one’s disposal. Our poor chess cousins in the Great State of North Carolina, my adopted “second state,” are doing the very best they can with their much more limited budget.
Now for some games from our illustrious luminaries carrying the colors:

Michael Corallo (2203) vs Eric Santarius (2329)
USM Rd 4
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 d6 7. Bxc6 bxc6 8. d4 exd4 9. Nxd4 Bd7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. h3 c5 12. Nf3 Bc6 13. Bf4 Rb8 14. e5 Nh5 15. Bh2 Rxb2 16. g4 Qa8 17. Nd2 dxe5 18. gxh5 Rd8 19. Bxe5 Bf8 20. Nce4 Rb4 21. Qg4 Bd7 22. Qg3 Bc6 23. Bxg7 Bxe4 1-0

Michael Corallo (2203) vs Michael Bodek (2400)
USM Rd 5
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Qb6 14. Na4 Qa5 15. b3 Qc7 16. Bc4 Rd8 17. Rhe1 Bf5 18. Qe5 Qxe5 19. Rxe5 Bxc2 20. Rd2 Bf5 21. Bxd5 cxd5 22. Rxe7 h5 23. Kb2 Kg7 24. Nc3 Kf6 25. Re1 Be6 26. Red1 Ke5 27. Rd4 g5 28. g3 h4 29. gxh4 gxh4 30. Rxh4 Rh8 31. f4 Kf5 32. Rxh8 Rxh8 33. Nxd5 Rxh2 34. Ka3 Ke4 35. Nc7 Kxf4 36. Rd6 Bf5 37. Nb5 Ke3 38. Rf6 Bb1 39. Nc3 Bg6 40. Ra6 Kd2 41. Nd5 Be4 42. Nf6 Bb1 43. Kb2 Bg6 44. Rxa7 Kd1 45. Kc3 Bb1 46. a4 Ba2 47. Nd5 Kc1 48. Nb4 Rh3 49. Nd3 Kb1 50. Rxf7 Ka1 51. Rd7 Rh1 52. Re7 Rh8 53. Rc7 Bb1 54. Rc4 Rg8 55. Nc5 Ka2 56. Rd4 Ka3 57. b4 Rh8 58. a5 Rh3 59. Kc4 Bg6 60. a6 Bf7 61. Kb5 Be8 62. Ka5 Rh7 63. Rd3 Kb2 64. Rd6 Rh1 65. b5 Kc3 66. a7 Ra1 67. Na4 Kb3 68. Rd3 1-0

Alexander Shabalov (2500) vs Michael Corallo (2203)
USM Rd 6
1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 c5 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. a3 d6 6. Rb1 Bf5 7. d3 h5 8. Nf3 b6 9. Bg5 Qd7 10. Nd5 Rc8 11. h3 e5 12. b4 Be6 13. Nd2 f6 14. Be3 Nge7 15. Qa4 Nxd5 16. cxd5 Nd4 17. Qd1 Bf7 18. Nc4 O-O 19. Bd2 Rfd8 20. e3 Nb5 21. O-O Nc7 22. e4 Nb5 23. f4 Nd4 24. Be3 Rf8 25. Rb2 f5 26. Rbf2 fxe4 27. Bxe4 b5 28. Na5 Qxh3 29. Bxd4 cxd4 30. f5 Qxg3 31. Rg2 Qe3 32. Kh1 gxf5 33. Re1 Qh6 34. Reg1 fxe4 35. Rxg7 Qxg7 36. Rxg7 Kxg7 37. Nc6 Bxd5 38. Ne7 Bb7 39. Nxc8 Rxc8 40. dxe4 Bxe4 0-1

Michael Corallo (2203) vs Sergei Azerov (2635)
USM Rd 7
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Qb6 14. Na4 Qc7 15. Bc4 Rd8 16. Bb3 Bf5 17. g4 Nf4 18. Qe3 Be6 19. Bxe6 Nxe6 20. Rde1 Rab8 21. h4 Qa5 22. b3 Rd4 23. Nc3 Rbd8 24. Kb2 Rd2 25. h5 R8d3 26. Qxd3 Rxd3 27. cxd3 Nf4 28. Rxe7 Qd8 29. Re4 Nxd3 30. Kc2 Nf2 31. Rd1 Nxd1 32. Nxd1 gxh5 33. gxh5 Qf6 34. f4 Qf5 35. Kd3 Qd5 36. Rd4 Qf5 37. Re4 Qb5 38. Kc3 Qa5 39. Kc2 Qxh5 0-1

Richard Francisco (2281) vs Peter Giannatos (2140)
USM Rd 3
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. a3 Nge7 7. b4 cxd4 8. cxd4 Nf5 9. Bb2 Be7 10. Bd3 a5 11. Bxf5 exf5 12. Nc3 Be6 13. b5 a4 14. O-O O-O 15. bxc6 Qxb2 16. Nxa4 Qb5 17. cxb7 Qxb7 18. Nc5 Bxc5 19. dxc5 Rfc8 20. Qc2 Qc6 21. Rfc1 Ra4 22. Nd2 d4 23. Nf3 Rc4 24. Qd3 Rxc5 25. Rxc5 Qxc5 26. Qxd4 Qxa3 27. h4 Rc1 28. Rxc1 Qxc1 29. Kh2 h6 30. Kg3 Qc6 31. Qf4 Qc3 32. Qd2 Qc5 33. Qe3 Qxe3 34. fxe3 Kf8 35. Kf4 Ke7 36. Nd4 g6 1/2-1/2

Kazim Gulamali (2283) vs Arthur Guo (1950)
USM Rd 4
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. Qe2 Nf6 9. Rd1 e5 10. Be3 O-O 11. Rac1 Bg4 12. h3 Be6 13. Bxe6 fxe6 14. Qc4 Qd7 15. b4 Rac8 16. Qb3 a6 17. Na4 Nd4 18. Nxd4 Rxc1 19. Rxc1 exd4 20. Nb6 Qe8 21. Qxe6 Qf7 22. Qxf7 Rxf7 23. Bxd4 Nxe4 24. Nd5 Bg5 25. f4 Bh4 26. g4 h6 27. Kg2 Rd7 28. g5 hxg5 29. Kf3 Ng3 30. fxg5 Nf5 31. Bf6 Rf7 32. Kg4 g6 33. Rc8 Rf8 34. Rc7 Rf7 35. Ne7 Nxe7 36. Bxe7 Be1 37. Rc8 Kg7 38. Bf6 Rxf6 39. gxf6 Kxf6 40. a3 a5 41. b5 b6 42. Rc6 Bf2 43. Rxd6 Kg7 44. a4 Bg1 45. Re6 Kf7 46. Rc6 Kg7 47. h4 Kf7 48. Kf4 Kg7 49. Ke5 Kh6 50. Kf6 Kh5 51. Kf7 Kxh4 52. Rxg6 Bd4 53. Ke6 Kh5 54. Rg2 Kh4 55. Kd7 Kh3 56. Rg8 Kh4 57. Kc6 Kh5 58. Rb8 Kg6 59. Rxb6 1-0

Sean Vibbert (2301) vs Alonso Zapata (2481)
USM Rd 4
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. g3 d5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bg2 Nf6 6. d3 d4 7. Ne4 Nxe4 8. Bxe4 Be7 9. Qf3 Nc6 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qxc6 Bd7 12. Qd5 Qc8 13. f3 O-O 14. b3 Re8 15. Kf2 a5 16. Bd2 a4 17. Ne2 Bf6 18. Nf4 Re5 19. Qc4 Qb7 20. bxa4 Rxa4 21. Qb3 Qa8 22. Rae1 c4 23. Qb1 Rb5 24. Qd1 c3 25. Bc1 Rxa2 26. Rhf1 g6 27. Kg1 Rb1 28. Qe2 Ba4 29. Qe4 Bc6 30. Qe2 h5 31. Ne6 Ba4 32. Nc7 Qc6 33. Ne8 Rxc2 34. Nxf6 Qxf6 35. Qe4 Bc6 36. Bg5 Qxg5 37. Qxc6 Rxe1 38. Rxe1 Qd2 39. Qe8 Kg7 40. Qe5 Kh7 0-1

Bartlomiej Macieja (2622) vs Alonso Zapata (2481)
USM Rd 5
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Nf6 6. h3 g6 7. Nf3 Bf5 8. O-O Qc7 9. Na3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 a6 11. Nc2 Bg7 12. Re1 O-O 13. Ne3 h5 14. g3 b5 15. Bd2 Rfc8 16. h4 e6 17. Nf1 Qb6 18. Ng5 b4 19. Nh2 bxc3 20. bxc3 Ne7 21. Nhf3 Qb5 22. Qc2 Nh7 23. Nxh7 Kxh7 24. g4 hxg4 25. Ng5 Kg8 26. h5 Qd7 27. hxg6 Nxg6 28. Nxe6 Nh4 29. Ng5 Qf5 30. Qxf5 Nxf5 31. f3 Nxd4 32. Rac1 Nxf3 33. Nxf3 gxf3 34. Kf2 Rc6 35. Kxf3 Rac8 36. Rg1 Kf8 37. Rg5 Bxc3 38. Rxd5 Bxd2 39. Rxc6 Rxc6 40. Rxd2 Rc4 41. Re2 Ra4 42. Ke3 Ke7 43. Kd3 Kd6 44. Rf2 Ke6 45. Kc3 f5 46. Kb3 Re4 47. Rh2 f4 48. Rh6 Kf5 49. Rxa6 f3 50. Ra8 Rf4 51. Rf8 Kg4 52. Rg8 Kh3 0-1

David Hua (2304) vs Alonso Zapata (2481)
USM Rd 6
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 Qc7 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Be2 Bb4 8. O-O Bxc3 9. bxc3 Nxe4 10. Bf3 Nc5 11. Nb3 d6 12. Bf4 e5 13. Nxc5 Qxc5 14. Be3 Qc7 15. Qd2 Nd7 16. Rfd1 Ke7 17. Rab1 Rb8 18. Ba7 Ra8 19. Be3 Rb8 20. Ba7 Ra8 21. Be3 1/2-1/2

Brian Tarhon (1963) vs Damir Studen (2264)
USM Rd 7
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd6 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Be2 Nf6 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Bxf3 e6 9. O-O Be7 10. Ne2 O-O 11. Bf4 Qd8 12. c4 Bd6 13. Bxd6 Qxd6 14. Qb3 b6 15. Rad1 Nbd7 16. Nc3 Rac8 17. Qc2 Qc7 18. b3 Rfd8 19. Rd2 Nf8 20. Rfd1 h6 21. g3 Rd7 22. Bg2 Rcd8 23. Kh2 Ng6 24. Ne4 Nxe4 25. Qxe4 Ne7 26. Rd3 Rd6 27. h4 Qd7 28. Qe2 Nf5 29. d5 exd5 30. cxd5 c5 31. Bh3 Qe7 32. Qd2 Nd4 33. Re1 Qf6 34. Bg2 R6d7 35. Rde3 g6 36. b4 Kg7 37. bxc5 bxc5 38. Rc1 Qb6 39. Rec3 Qa5 40. Qb2 Qb4 41. Qa1 Kh7 42. Rxc5 Qd2 43. R1c4 Nf5 44. Rc2 Qb4 45. Qf6 Qd4 46. Qxd4 Nxd4 47. R2c4 Nf5 48. Rc8 Rxc8 49. Rxc8 Ne7 50. Rc5 Kg7 51. a4 Kf6 52. f4 Rd6 53. Ra5 a6 54. Bf1 Kg7 55. Bc4 Rd7 56. Kg2 Kf8 57. Kf3 Rc7 58. Bd3 Rd7 59. Bc4 Rc7 60. Ba2 Rc3 61. Ke4 Nf5 62. Rxa6 Re3 0-1

This song contains the Legendary Georgia Ironman’s all-time favorite lyric. Just thinking about it brings a smile to the Ironman’s face. I will let you figure it out…
The first two are live and I could not decide which to post, so I posted both! The third version is from the album, not disc, and it is the one to which we listened “back in the day.”

Jackson Browne 1977 The Load Out Stay

Jackson Browne – The Load Out and Stay – Live BBC 1978

Jackson Browne – The Load Out / Stay

The Escape Artist

The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I had time last night for a brief discussion of the chess action happening this weekend. One of the topics discussed was the fact that the human World Champion played the Bishop’s Opening proper yesterday against Fabiano Caruano. As regular readers know, the BO, “The truth– as it was known in those far-off days,” according to Savielly Tartakower, has been one of my favorite openings ever since reading his quote in “500 Hundred Master games of Chess.” (see the book in GM Bryan Smith’s excellent article Magnus played the opening horribly, and lost. GM Yasser Seirawan questioned the moves of the World Human Champion, especially the move 11 Bg3. I questioned 13 h3, which allowed the Bishop to take the Knight, forcing White to capture with the f-pawn, disrupting the pawn structure in a horrible way. It is obvious things have gone terribly wrong after 14 fxg3. When Magnus played the move Qd8, after 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3, against Caruano at the Olympiad, I mentioned to Tim that players would now start playing the move, long discredited since Bobby Fischer beat Karl Robatsch in 20 moves at the Olympiad in Varna in 1962 and William Addison in 24 moves at the Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca in 1970, since Magnus had won the game. I also brought up the fact that before the HWC played the move, I had mentioned the possibility of purchasing the book, “The 3…Qd8 Scandinavian: Simple and Strong” by Daniel Lowinger and Karsten Müller, which brought ridicule from the Ironman. Last night I wondered aloud if players would now begin to play the BO because Magnus had played it. Before the Ironman could respond, I added, “Probably not since he lost.” Tim said, “The opening did not let Magnus down, Magnus let the opening down.”
One of the great things about chess is that a lesser player can question the moves of the great players. We may not often be right, but like that blind squirrel, we will occasionally find an acorn. Back in the day “BC” (before computers), we had to try and figure it out for ourselves. If a GM played a move, we accepted it as gospel. Today we turn on our “engine” and the “truth” is right in front of us. In a way this is a wonderful thing in that we now know if our move is better than the human World Champion. On the other hand, we now know that even the best human player is, well, human, and we humans make mistakes. As the Discman said, back in the day Grandmasters were “Gods.” Which makes me think of the famous speech by JFK in which he said, “…and we are all mortal.”

Schmuggy sent me an email last night after his game with Damir Studen, which I opened after noon:
Kevin Schmuggerow
Today at 1:09 AM
I had this one Michael, let it get away….
> e4 d5 ed Qd5 Nc3 Qa5 d4 c6 Bc4 Nf6 Ne2 g6 Bf4 Nd7 Qd2 Nb6 Bb3 Nbd4 Be5 Nc3 Nc3 Bg7 OOO OO h4 h5 f3 Ne8 Qg5 e6 Rhe1 Kh7 Qe7 Kg8 g4 Be5 Re5 Qc7 Qg5 Kg7 gh5 Rh8 Qg2 Rh6 Rg5 Qf4+ Kb1 Qh4 hg6 Rg6 Ne4 Rg5 Ng5 Kf6 f4 Nd6 Qf3 Qh6 Rh8 a5 a4 Ra6 Qc3 Ke7 Qc5 Bd7….Ne4 wins!! Mate in 7 (I played Rb8 and eventually got my rook trapped)

Looks strange without the numbers, does it not? Thinking the game would most likely have to be transcribed, I decided to hold off on going to the US Masters website until later. Fortunately, the whole game was provided. I broke out my trusty small wooden board and pieces and played over the game. Here are my thoughts…

Kevin Schmuggerow (1971) vs Damir Studen (2264)
USM Rd 3
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Bc4 Nf6 6. Nge2 g6 7. Bf4 Nbd7 8. Qd2 Nb6 9. Bb3 Nbd5 10. Be5 Nxc3 11. Nxc3 Bg7 12. O-O-O O-O 13. h4 h5 14. f3 Ne8 15. Qg5 e6 16. Rhe1 Kh7 17. Qe7 Kg8 18. g4 Bxe5 19. Rxe5 Qc7 20. Qg5 Kg7 21. gxh5 Rh8 22. Qg2 Rh6 23. Rg5 Qf4 24. Kb1 Qxh4 25. hxg6 Rxg6 26. Ne4 Rxg5 27. Nxg5 Kf6 28. f4 Nd6 29. Qf3 Qh6 30. Rh1 Qg6 31. Rh8 a5 32. a4 Ra6 33. Qc3 Ke7 34. Qc5 Bd7 35. Rb8 Qf5 36. Qe5 f6 37. Qxf5 exf5 38. Nh7 Bc8 39. c4 Be6 40. d5 cxd5 41. c5 Ne4 42. Rxb7 Bd7 43. c6 Rxc6 44. Nf8 Nc5 45. Ng6 Kd6 46. Rb5 Ra6 47. Bc2 Bxb5 48. axb5 Rb6 0-1

Wow, Damir was sooooooo busted! Poor Schmuggy…This game reminds me of many I played. If only IM Charles Hertan’s award winning book, “Forcing Moves” had been published in the 1970’s… Two things kept me from becoming a stronger player, one is not winning enough “won” games. The other will be discussed in a future post.
Damir’s 14th move looks weak. After 15 Qg5, white is all over him. After the obligatory 15…e6 Schmuggy played 16 Rhe1. I have to question this move. I mean, White is attacking the Kingside and threatening to open up the castled King position, so why move the Rook? I sat looking at this position quite a while…Obviously 16 g4 must be considered, but I wonder if this is one of those positions where a world class player would simply make a move like 16 Kb1? Then the thought hit me that Schmuggy could have played maybe 16 a3, but I like Kb1 better, but what do I know? One thing I have always taught my students is to count the total number of points one has in a sector, especially when one is on the attack. As it now stands White has a Queen, Rook, and Bishop, or 17 points, on the Kingside. Black has only a Rook, Bishop, and Knight, or 11 points. If White were to play 16 Ne4 he would have an additional 3 points, for a total of 20 points, versus 11. That is a huge disparity. And since Black has been forced to weaken himself with his last move, the Knight move takes advantage of the weakened dark squares. 16 Ne4 would be my move. Black would then be in “deep do.”
Schmuggy is right, 35 Ne4 brings the house down. It wins because it is a FORCING MOVE. The knight on d6 is PINNED. Another thing all chess teachers say is, “Pin to win.”

After going over the game I first went to the Chess Base database ( and 365chess ( to check out the opening. What I found was that Damir’s 7…Nbd7 is a TN. All games show 7…Bg7. Since the Scandinavian is Damir’s main (only?) defense to 1 e4 it is difficult to believe he came up with this move over the board. I must assume it was “home cooking.” It often happens that one can be burned while cooking at home.
Next it was put it into my now antiquated Houdini. I am sure you will do the same because that is what is done these daze. Some even put it into the machine before looking at it and thinking for themselves. Where is the fun in that? I find it shameful. After analyzing the game, my Houdini said, “The player with the Black pieces was the real Houdini in this game!”
What? Your computer program does not talk to you?

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes

Congratulations to ALL the Winners!

I would like to extend my congratulations to the three men who tied for first in the US Chess Championship, and to the three women who tied for first in the chess championship for the weaker sex. As far as I am concerned they can all justifiably claim to be Co-Champions. The souped-up heebe-jeeb games used to “settle” the tie meant absolutely nothing. The fast games allowing no time to think were silly and shameful. There is a picture on Chessbase ( of the “champions” Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush standing back to back, both with a supercilious grin on their face, looking as if they are about to break into a rendition of the song “We Are The Champions” by Queen.
“We are the champions, my friends,
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.
We are the champions.
We are the champions.
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions…”
In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the US Chess Championships, IM Stuart Rachels, from the Great State of Alabama, tied for first in the 1989 US Championship. Check out his Wikipedia page ( and you will find: United States Chess Champion
1989 (with Roman Dzindzichashvili and Yasser Seirawan)
What a pity it would be if insanity prevailed back then and the players were forced to play speed chess to decide the “winner.”
I would like to congratulate the worthy 2014 US Chess Champions GM Varuzhan Akobian and GM Aleksandr Lenderman, and the US Women Champions WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and IM Anna Zatonskih. As far as I am concerned they each have the right to be called a US Champion.
Before you inundate the AW with comments I would like you to consider these quotes:
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”-Marcus Aurelius
“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”-Mahatma Gandhi
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”-Arthur Schopenhauer

The Whole World Is Reading

I have not been well for the past week, but am happy to report feeling better. This is post #64, so I will celebrate it as a milestone. Why is it we human’s celebrate only round numbers such as 100, or even 150, as is the case with the current craze focusing on the 150th anniversary of the War of Northern Aggression? In November there will be much made of the fact that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago. Books and movies that could have appeared last year have been held back in order to capitalize on a zero. Go figure…Since this is a blog about chess, I feel it only appropriate I celebrate the number 64.
One of the things I have noticed about the stats of my blog is that after posting, if I do not make another post soon, the number of readers will gradually head downward. This has, surprisingly, not been the case after my last post. The number of readers has actually increased since writing about the US Masters. I cannot help but wonder why. Could it be readers are hungry for more information about the tournament than has been made available? There was a tepid piece on the USCF website, in conjunction with other Labor Day tournaments. What does it say about the state of chess when USCF does not even cover one of the major tournaments of the year? There was a rather good article by Sabrina Chevannes on Chessbase (, yet hardly anything on the website of the North Carolina Chess Association. Even now, weeks later, one can find little about the tournament, or the festival, as it was called, on the NCCA website. I cannot help but wonder if those responsible realize we have moved into the 21st century with the internet. If organizers do not get the word out now, the interest of the chess fan will move on to something current. By the time organizers do get the word out the chess fan thinks, “That is so yesterday.” For example, by the time something appears on US Chess Online it has already, in most cases, gone around the world and back. The internet has taken the place of the newspaper. I have often read that yesterday’s newspaper is only good for something in which to wrap fish. One cannot even do that with yesterday’s internet chess news.
I have often been surprised when checking the Armchair Warrior stats. For example, earlier this week the AW was “discovered” by Saudi Arabia. The US is usually first in number of readers and views, and by a large margin over Canada, which is to be expected, I suppose. The other day Saudi Arabia topped the list by a wide margin, for some reason. Hello, and thank you! Although I have not checked recently, some time ago the number of countries in which readers had clicked on to the AW was found to be over 60. I am not only pleased, but also surprised, and a little humbled.
I would like to thank all who have left comments, and sent emails. I have made it a practice to publish every comment posted since I began the now defunct BaconLOG ( I regret having to nix one Humbert Hamilton in reply to my post “The Award Winning Georgia Chess Magazine.” It is a pity because I enjoyed it immensely, but I simply cannot print some of what the man wrote, and if I cannot print all of it, I will print none of it. If you go back and read some of the comments left on the BaconLOG, you will find I allowed anyone to express their feeling toward me, no matter how harsh. I would have allowed Humbert the same courtesy if he had not made unfounded allegations concerning my private life.
I am writing this while the Sinquefield Cup is underway at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center. Today is the second big matchup between GM Hikaru Nakamura, who has the white pieces, and World Championship contender, GM Magnus Carlsen. Like many others, I had been looking forward to this game. It is unfortunate, because the whole world is watching, but the sad fact is the broadcast from St. Louis has had myriad “technical difficulties.” Yesterday was the straw that broke Bacon’s back. There had been an off day before yesterday’s disaster, and I do not only mean disaster because both American players lost. Certainly any “technical difficulties” should have been taken care of during that off day. Unfortunately, the problems grew worse and it became amateur hour at the STLCC&SC. I will not elaborate on the many crashes, but suffice it to say that when a loop of Jennifer saying, “Thank you for staying with us with all the technical difficulties,” or some such, was heard for the third, or was it fourth, time, I could take it no longer. I clicked off and tuned out the broadcast, vowing never to go back to the coverage from the STLCC&SC. It is a pity because I have really enjoyed the commentators, especially GM Yasser Seirawan, who, unlike GM Maurice Ashley, does not use a computer program. It has been a joy to listen to Yasser’s analysis of the games. From what he “sees” it is obvious why he was one of the strongest chess players on the planet at one time. His book, “Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions,” is the best chess book I have read this century. Not to mention the lovely Jennifer Shahade, the “color” commentator. I say “color” because in a baseball broadcast it used to be that one person in the booth was known as the “announcer,” while the other was the “color” man. If nothing else, Jennifer is colorful! Fortunately there are other places where the games can be found. I see Gata has again played the Dutch defense, which is near and dear to my heart. It makes me think of the comment made by Magnus Carlsen about playing the Dutch against Levon Aronian because he had found a weakness in how Levon has previously played against the Dutch. Gata must have heard the same thing. Oh how I would like to hear what is being said by the gang, but, “Fool me once…twice, three, four or more times, and a man who knows enough is enough will always have enough, and I have had enough!”

Speed Kills

Like most chess fans I have been following the World Cup. Unlike most fans of the Royal game I have only watched the games played with a longer time control. I am uncertain what to call those games because the “longer time control” is not a classical one. During a discussion of the WC I mentioned to the Legendary Georgia Ironman I had not even gone to the official tournament website on the days of the tiebreak games in order to make a statement, certain the organizers checked the number of fans clicking on each day. I cannot help but wonder what those numbers show. Are there others doing the same?
I made an exception today, clicking on today just in time to hear GM Nigel Short, a much better commentator than those previously doing the commentary, say, “It looks like neither player has a clue as to what to do. At this speed it does not matter; they just better move.” The comment sums up what happens to chess when played without enough time to think. The games are played at such a rapid rate that the moves come in bunches, making it impossible to follow the action, a comment I have heard from others.
I won the only tournament played at the now antiquated time control of 40 moves in 2 ½ hours. It was the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship, played at the downtown YMCA each Wednesday night for five weeks. There were no adjournments and the games finished at a reasonable hour. In those days a player reaching time control with a lost position would resign. Today the players play on, hoping for a “miracle,” which means a blunder, or “howler,” as GM Yasser Seirawan would say.
Former Georgia champion, and Georgia Senior champion, LM David Vest mentioned people watch NASCAR to see the wrecks. I wonder if chess fans who watch the quick play games are doing the same thing? Do they spectate only to see top GM’s humbled by making horrible howlers like the ones they make in their own games? I have heard players say something like, “After seeing GM X make that blunder I do not feel so bad about the ones I have made!”
The hyperbole reached epic proportions on the Chessbase website on 8/22/2013 in an article “World Cup 4.3: unparalleled drama in Tromso.” ( I do not know about that; what about the last game of the 1987 Kasparov-Karpov match in Seville when Garry was in a must win situation? Chessbase comments on the last game of the match between Quang Liem Le and Peter Svidler, a quick-play game lasting 135 moves, won by Svidler, writing, “This game is well worth replaying.” I think not.
One of the things I have most liked about playing chess is having time to cogitate. Thinking is not for everyone. The winner of the ECF book of the year 2012 award was, “Move First, Think Later,” by Willy Hendricks. The title says all one needs to know about the state of modern chess. The other books shortlisted that year were, Advanced Chess Tactics by Lev Psakhis (Quality Chess); Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen by Adrian Mikhalchisin & Oleg Stetsko (Edition Olms); & Gary Kasparov on Garry Kasparov Part 1: 1973-1985 (Everyman). What does it say about the state of chess when books by the current number one player by rating, and the player called by some “the greatest player of all-time,” lose out to a book advocating one move first, then think? Chess Café announced the winner of its award with this: “After several weeks of voting, the early front runners for Book of the Year were Aron Nimzowitsch, 1886-1924 by Per Skjoldager and Jørn Erik Nielsen and Move First, Think Later by Willy Hendriks. Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation by Jacob Aagaard had its supporters, but just not to the same extent as the other finalists.” ( Days after acquiring the Nimzowitsch book I recall reading on the internet a question posed concerning how the Nimzo book could have possibly won the award. “Who would buy such a book?” the writer asked. “Me!” I shouted in my mind.
Earlier in my life I would often hear old-timers say, “The world is speeding up.” I was left wondering if it was them slowing down…Now that I have become an “old-timer,” the question has been answered.
There can be no doubt about the fact that the world of chess is “speeding up.” I cannot help but find it sad. Backgammon is played at a much faster pace than chess. The faster one plays the more games can be played in a limited amount of time, which means more money in the pocket when the “Last call” is given. Chess is an exponentially more complex game than is backgammon. The game does not need to be sped up to create blunders. The Chess Bomb ( has a color coded system with weaker moves given in purple and howlers in red. I seem to recall a back to back series of red moves by GM’s Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian in what is now called a “classical” game. Chess is too difficult a game to play well even at longer time limits. It does not need to be sped up for the best players in the world to make mistakes.

2013 US Junior Closed

The US Junior chess tournament begins today ( I know this because the CCSCSL (that’s Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis, for all my international readers), sent me a notification via email:

It’s another month, and yet another U.S. Championship is upon us! This time, the young guns get their turn in the spotlight to duel it out for the title of 2013 U.S. Junior Closed Champion. Ten of the top up-and-coming stars of the U.S. chess scene will battle head-to-head in a nine-round, round-robin event. The winner will earn a $3,000 grand prize and an invitation to the 2014 U.S. Championship. Click here to meet the field!

Round 1 begins today, June 14, at 1 p.m., and spectators are welcome to enjoy the action live at the Chess Club or online via

We will not be canceling any of our regular programming for this event as the Junior Championship will be held in the Chess Club board room. Check out all of our exciting upcoming events in the column at left, and we hope to see you at the club soon!


Mike Wilmering
Communications Specialist
Since it did not mention anything about who would be doing the commentary, I clicked on over, learning GM’s Yasser Seirawan and Ben Finegold would be on my screen during the event. I will admit to knowing very little about the Junior world of chess, so I clicked on to read about the participants. The first thing I noticed was the question of the day, which is, “Who will be the 2013 U.S. Junior Closed Champion?” Listed first is Sarah Chiang. As of this writing she has yet to receive a vote. After reading the bio’s of the players I learned Sarah is not only the lowest rated player, but clearly 200 points lower rated than the other 9 players, which is a whole rating class below the rest of the field! The webpage informs that the first 7 players were invited because of rating, while the next 2 were wild cards. Sarah’s “Invitation Method” was by way of, “U.S. Open Invitation.” I have absolutely no idea what that means, so will make no comment. I will say, though, that I am reminded of a former Junior player, Robin Ault. From
“Robin Ault (1941-1994) was the first person to win the U.S. Junior Championship three times (1959-1961). In the 1959, the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) had a rule that the American Junior Chess Champion was automatically qualified into the adult title competition. So Robin was invited to the 1959-60 U.S. Championship, then lost all 11 games (0-11). After this, the USCF no longer allowed the top junior player to be invited to the U.S. Championship.” (
Then it hit me…I had just read, “The winner will receive an invitation to the 2014 U.S. Championship.” Wonder how long “…the USCF no longer allowed the top junior player to be invited to the U.S. Championship?” It is probably not as bad for the junior now as it was then because now the field has become a herd, while “back in the day” it was composed of only the best players.
I checked Sarah out on the USCF ratings page finding that although she is “27 out of 6461 female players”, she is only “112 out of 39156 junior players.” Maybe she is the top rated female junior and that is why she was invited. Yet it seems rather strange that a player not even in the top 100 would be invited to such a prestigious tournament with such a long history. A quick look at the top list on the USCF site shows there are many young men and boys more deserving, by rating, of participating in the tournament. The fact is this under qualified girl has taken the place of one of them. It is possible Sarah could be shutout in this event and it could have a deleterious effect on the poor girl in the future. Imagine, for example, the uproar caused if a Senior player, a former top level GM, had been invited to a closed US Championship even though he was now rated 200 points below the field and his playing strength was clearly not ready for prime time.
Speaking of Senior chess…The US Junior is up on the USCF webpage and there will be much coverage of the Junior in the coming days, while there has still been absolutely nothing posted on the website concerning the recent US Senior Open. This in spite of the fact I received an email from President Ruth Haring on Sat. June 8 in which she wrote:
Thanks for the report and suggestions. I will look into why there is no report online yet.


Sent from my iPhone

Anatoly Karpov’s Other World Championship

Most people involved with chess know former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov is also a world renowned philatelist. What you may not know is that he is the book signing champ of the world, according to the Guinness world records. This was discovered when I caught a huge wave at one of my favorite surfing spots: One of the writer’s responsible is a lovely chess mom named Jamie Mason, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a children’s tournament in Asheville, NC. Here is the proof:
The most books signed by one author in a single session is 1,951 by the ex-World Champion in chess Anatoli Karpov (Russia) who signed “El Camino de una Voluntad” by David Llada and Anatoli Karpov on 21 October 2006 during the Third Mexico City Chess Festival in Mexico.
IM Timothy Taylor has a new book titled, Slay the Sicilian. He writes about his book in an article on the Chess Café website ( The article begins, “I was idly looking at World Champion Anatoly Karpov’s book, My Best Games – and I came across a line that absolutely stunned me, that I quote in full below:
“I have always felt it completely unnecessary for White to rush headlong into a maelstrom of forced variations with his first moves in the Sicilian. His superiority in the centre gives him the possibility of resolving any problem by solid positional play.”
Reading this comment caused me to recall something GM Andy Soltis wrote about a book like GM David Bronstein’s masterpiece, Chess Struggle in Practice, not being able to be published today because it contains words, like the aforementioned quote, in lieu of reams of variations, as one finds in most of the books published today. The quote pointed out so adroitly by IM Taylor goes to the heart of Karpov’s understanding of chess. Contrast this with what GM Yasser Seirawan writes in his forward to Mr. Six-Time, GM Walter Browne’s new book with the wonderful title, The Stress of Chess and its Infinite Finesse:
“In the many games that we contested we held a deep post-mortem. Often these lasted for hours and during them it was obvious, time in and time out, that Walter had out-calculated me. We had looked at the same variations, but he had calculated them more deeply than I had. In many instances Walter went far beyond the point where I had stopped, being satisfied with a line. Walter wanted to be sure. When he felt a win existed he wished to nail it down with calculation and cold-blooded determination. When I asked why he didn’t just play an obviously good move, he would often say that while his ‘instinct’ had told him to play the ‘natural’ good move it was his calculation that guided him to consider other possibilities, and what ultimately caused him to come to a decision was the calculated line. In most cases Walter’s instinct and calculation were one and the same, producing the same move, which he would then play.”
It makes me wonder if those top players who continue to play at a very high level late into life, like former World Champion Vassily Smyslov, do so because they rely on their ‘instinct’ or intuition, rather than calculating myriad variations.
I have one other note on books. I was saddened to learn of the death of the writer Iain Banks. None of the obituaries I have read mention the book I consider to be my favorite of the Science Fiction genre, The Player of Games. I cannot speak of his oeuvre because this is the only book of his I have read, but I have read it several times.