Make A Draw And Belly Up To The Bar

In the fourth round of the recently completed Hollywood Chess Norm Classic! (https://www.learn2chess.com/norm) the following game was played:

IM Victor Matviishen 2490

http://amargaryan-round-2020.chessacademy.am/static/article/41?lang=en

vs GM Aleksey Sorokin 2541

https://lichess.org/coach/AVS2000
  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Qe2 h6 8. Bh4 g6 9. f4 e5 10. fxe5 dxe5 11. O-O-O Qc7 12. Nb3 b5 13. Rxd7 Nxd7 14. Nd5 Qb8 15. Bf6 Nxf6 16. Nxf6+ Ke7 17. Nd5+ Ke8 18. Nf6+ Ke7 19. Nd5+ Ke8 1/2-1/2
    https://lichess.org/broadcast/hollywood-chess-gm-norm-classic/round-4/y5op7bmp
    https://live.followchess.com/#!1000gm-hollywood–2022/1784075715

It was the move 6…Nbd7 that attracted my attention, not 7 Qe2. When playing the Najdorf what now seems like another lifetime ago I invariably played 6…e6, which was the preferred move of Bobby Fischer, and now Stockfish, or at least the Stockfish program utilized by Lichess.com. Although 7…h6 has been the most often played move by we humans, Stockfish plays 7…b5. Again humans place this move below the move played in the game and 7…e6 and 7…Qc7. After 8 Bh4 Stockfish shows 8…Qc7 as best. Yet GM Sorokin played 8…g6, which has been the most often played move by human players. Then comes a series of moves of which Stocky approves, until after 12…b5, when the program would play 13 a3. After 14…Qb8 Stocky would play 15 Na5, but the IM chose to make a draw. This has all been seen previously:

Dmitry Kryakvin (2589) vs Aleksandr Rakhmanov (2647)

Event: TCh-FIN 2018-19
Site: Finland FIN Date: 04/05/2019
Round: 9.1
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Ke7 19.Nd5+ Ke8 20.Nf6+ Ke7 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4187357&m=41

Shardul Gagare (2468) vs Shalmali Gagare (2100)
Event: XXIX Elgoibar GM 2019
Site: Elgoibar ESP Date: 12/14/2019
Round: 4.4
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd2+ Qd6 20.Qa5+ Qc7 21.Qd2+ Qd6 22.Qa5+ Qc7 23.Qd2+ Qd6 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4237624

Yi Xu (2527) vs Yi Wei (2732)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/07/2021
Round: 1.4
ECO: B94 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.Bg5
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.O-O-O Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8 15.Bf6 Nxf6 16.Nxf6+ Ke7 17.Nd5+ Ke8 18.Nf6+ Kd8 19.Qd2+ Qd6 20.Qa5+ Qc7 21.Qd2+ Qd6 22.Qa5+ Qc7 23.Qd2+ Qd6 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4286099

And this will no doubt be seen again, and again, and again… It will be used, especially after this post, by anyone and everyone with a desire to draw. It is the perfect game with which to make a draw because who would ever expect the venerable Najdorf variation, the favorite of World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer because it was a fighting defense that could be used to win with the Black pieces, to be used to make a “quick” draw? The game can last twenty moves, so older, weaker, Grandmasters, like Julio Becerra and Jacob Aagaard (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/07/29/gm-jacob-aagaard-blasphemes-caissia-at-the-charlotte-chess-center-gm-norm-invitational/) can make a peaceful, short draw and not have Chess writers rake them over the coals for being old and weak by playing two moves and calling it a day, err…draw.

In the excellent book, Seven Games, by Oliver Roeder,

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/books/review/seven-games-oliver-roeder.html

the first chapter concerns the game, Checkers. It is written: “Competitive tournament checkers games begin with the drawing of a card from a deck. The familiar game, played in living rooms and school cafeterias, with its initial checkers starting in the traditional formation shown below, is known on the competitive circuit as go-as-you-please, or GAYP. But expert players know this version so well that any game can be effortlessly steered toward a draw. To combat this, the first three moves of a typical competitive game are determined randomly by drawing a card from a predetermined deck of opening moves. This version of checkers is known as three-move ballot or, simply, “three-move.” This variation has been played for the game’s most prestigious titles. Checkers openings come with colorful names: the White doctor, the Octopus, the Skull Cracker, the Rattlesnake, and the Rattlesnake II. There are 174 possible three-moves openings in checkers, but not all of these appear in the deck. Some would simply give too big an advantage to one side or the other, resulting in lopsided and, uninteresting play. The deck currently sanctioned by the American Checkers Federation (https://www.usacheckers.com/) contains 156 openings,each of which seasons the game with its own unique favor. Some of them remain bland, typically leading to uneventful draws. But some of them are sharp, bestowing on one side an instant advantage. In those sharp games, it is incumbent upon one player to attack, and upon the other player to fight for his life.” Top players have all this memorized, of course, along with lengthy continuations beyond the third move. Whatever checkers lacks in complexity compared to, say, chess, its top players make up for in depth (itl). Elite players can often see some twenty, thirty, or even forty moves ahead. This is what Tinsley meant when he said that playing checkers was like staring down a bottomless well.”

It has been obvious for decades that Chess has a draw problem. The problem has only gotten worse with the utilization of the computer Chess programs, and the problem will continue to grow, and fester, until it sucks the life out of the game of Chess, just as it sucked the life out of the game of Checkers. The problem is obvious. Players are awarded far too much when “earning” a half-point for drawing. I have posited changing a draw to only one quarter of a point, while some have said a third of a point should be awarded for drawing. The problem is not going away. How long will it be before Chess has to resort to using cards, or some other random generator like a computer program, to choose the openings for the players? Even then players who want to draw will be able to make a draw, unless and until what is gained by making a draw is far less than the 1/2 point the players “earn” by “playing” a game before bellying-up to the bar.

Kid Keymer versus the Closed Sicilian

After 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 a6 Arkadij Naiditsch

played 3 Nge2 against Vincent Keymer

in the fourth round of the ongoing Grenke Classic. Vincent is a fifteen year old boy currently battling men. The draw was unkind to the boy as he had to face the current World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen,

in the first round; the former World Human Chess Champion, Vishy Anand,

in the second round; and then the player who is, according to Carlsen, the “Co-Classical World Chess Champion,” Fabiano Caruana

in the third round.

This caused me to reflect upon a recent game I had researched between Yi Wei

and Kailo Kilaots

in the seventh round of the recently completed Aeroflot Open a couple of months ago. I learned 3 Nge2 is now considered the best move whereas previously 3 g3 was almost automatically played.

The game is annotated at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/interview-with-aeroflot-winner-kaido-kulaots-part-ii) and many other places around the web, so I will only give the opening and a couple of games found before getting on to the Kid versus the Closed Siclian.

Yi Wei (2733) v Kulaots (2542)

Aeroflot Open

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. Nge2 (The best move according to SF 9 & 10, and Houdini) Nf6 4. g3 (SF 10 at depth 35 plays this move, but at depth 42 plays 4 d4) Nc6 (SF 10 at depth 38 plays this move, but SF 010219 at the same depth plays 4…g6) 5. Bg2 g6 6. d3 (SF 9 at depth 36 plays this move, but going deeper to depth 44 shows 6 a3, a move yet to be played, followed by Bg7 7 Rb1, while Komodo plays the most often played move in practice, 6 0-0 Bg7 7 Nd5) Bg7 7. 0-0 0-0 (SF 260219 at depth 39 shows 7…Rb8 8 Nd5 Nxd5) 8. Bg5 (SF 9 & 10 play 8 a3 , but Komodo shows 8 Nd5 Nd7 9 Ne3) 8…Bd7 (SF 9 at depth 40 shows 8…Rb8 9 a4 h6) 9. Qd2 (This is the SF choice but Komodo plays 9 Nd5) 9…Nd4 (Komodo shows 9…Rb8 10 Nd5 Ng4 or 9…Re8 10 h3 Rc8 both at depth 31)

Werner Hug (2435)

vs John Nunn (2565)

Luzern ol (Men) 1982

B25 Sicilian, closed

1.e4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 d6 6.Nge2 Nf6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Rc8 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Nd4 12.Qd2 Qb6 13.Rab1 Bg4 14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Rc7 17.c4 dxc3 18.bxc3 Qa5 19.Rb4 Bf5 20.Rfb1 Rfc8 21.R1b3 b6 22.h3 e5 23.dxe6 Bxe6 24.Rb5 Qa6 25.c4 Rc5 26.Qb2 Rxb5 27.Rxb5 Rc5 28.Rxc5 dxc5 29.h4 h5 30.Be4 Qa5 31.Kg2 Qa4 ½-½

Thomas Flindt (2179) vs Martin Baekgaard (2294)

47th XtraCon TCh-DEN 2008-9

01/11/2009

B24 Sicilian, closed

1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nge2 Nf6 6.O-O O-O 7.d3 d6 8.Bg5 Bd7 9.Qd2 Qa5 10.Bh6 Nd4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.h3 Qb4 13.Rab1 Rac8 14.f4 Bc6 15.g4 Nd7 16.f5 Nxe2+ 17.Qxe2 Qd4+ 18.Kh1 f6 19.g5 fxg5 20.Qg4 h6 21.fxg6 Ne5 22.Qe6 Nxg6 23.Nd5 Qe5 24.Qg4 e6 25.Ne3 b5 26.Qd1 Rxf1+ 27.Qxf1 Rf8 28.Qe1 h5 29.Qa5 Rf7 30.Rf1 Nf4 31.Qd8 d5 32.Nf5+ exf5 33.Qxg5+ Ng6 34.exf5 Qf6 35.Qxg6+ Qxg6 36.fxg6 Rxf1+ 37.Bxf1 d4+ 38.Bg2 Bxg2+ 39.Kxg2 Kxg6 40.h4 Kf5 41.Kf3 a5 42.Kg3 a4 43.b3 Ke5 ½-½

Arkadij Naiditsch 2710 (AZE)

vs Vincent Keymer 2509 (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 04

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 a6 3. Nge2 d6 4. a4 Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. d3 Rb8 10. h3 Nd7 11. g4 h6 12. Ng3 Bh4 13. Nce2 b5 14. Kh2 b4 15. Be3 a5 16. Qd2 Ba6 17. b3 Qe7 18. Rg1 Rbc8 19. Raf1 g6 20. e5 d5 21. f5 Ncxe5 22. Bxh6 Rfe8 23. fxg6 fxg6 24. g5 Nf7 25. Qf4 Nxh6 26. Qxh4 Nf7 27. Nh5 gxh5 28. Rf6 Nxf6 29. gxf6 Qd6+ 30. Nf4 Kf8 31. Qg3 Red8 32. Re1 e5 33. Ng6+ Ke8 34. Nxe5 Qxf6 35. Ng4+ Qe7 36. Nf6+ 1-0

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (Stockfish 8 at the ChessBaseDataBase has this, followed by 2…Nc6 3. Nf3 as best, but Houdini goes with the usual 2. Nf3) a6 (Rather than playing a developing move, 2…Nc6, the most often played move, the kid plays a fourth rate move and I cannot but wonder why?) 3. Nge2 (Although Stockfish 9 would play what previously was standard, 3 g3, SF 10 goes with the game move. Then after 3…Nf6 would come 4. g3) d6 (SF displays the little played 3…Nf6, expecting 4. g3 e6) 4. a4 (An attempt to take the kid out of “book” after Keymer took the game out of book by playing 2…a6? SF 10 plays 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4; SF 9 goes with 4 g3 g6 5 Bg2)
Nf6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e6 TN (See Genocchio vs Stefano below for 6 g6)

Daniele Genocchio, (2195) vs Stefano Tatai (2395)

ITA-ch 11/26/1998

B23 Sicilian, closed
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Nge2 a6 4.a4 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.O-O Bg7 10.Nde2 O-O 11.h3 Rc8 12.Be3 a5 13.f4 Be6 14.Qd2 Nb4 15.Rfd1 Qc7 16.Rac1 Qb8 17.Nd4 Bc4 18.Ndb5 b6 19.Qf2 Nd7 20.e5 Rfd8 21.exd6 e6 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Rc5 24.Na3 Bd5 25.Bxd5 exd5 26.Nab5 Nf6 27.f5 Ne8 28.fxg6 fxg6 29.Rf1 Nxd6 30.Nxd6 Qxd6 31.Ne4 1-0

Levon Aronian (ARM)

vs Vincent Keymer (GER)

GRENKE Chess Classic 2019 round 06

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. O-O e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 Be7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 O-O 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Re2 c5 16. Na4 Rd1+ 17. Kg2 Rad8 18. b3 Nd5 19. c3 Rc8 20. Re4 Nf6 21. Re2 Nd5 22. Rd2 Rxd2 23. Bxd2 c4 24. Nb2 Bf6 25. Nxc4 Bxc3 26. Rd1 Bxd2 27. Rxd2 g5 28. Kf3 Kg7 29. Ne3 Rc3 30. Rc2 f5 31. Rxc3 Nxc3 32. a4 g4+ 33. Kg2 Kf6 34. Nc2 Ne4 35. b4 Nc3 36. b5 axb5 37. a5 Nd5 38. a6 Nc7 39. a7 Ke5 40. Kf1 Kd5 41. Nb4+ Kc4 42. Nc6 Kd3 43. Ke1 Na8 44. Nd8 e5 45. Nc6 Ke4 46. Kd2 Kd5 47. Nb4+ Kc4 48. Nc6 Kd5 49. Nb4+ Ke4 50. Nc6 f4 51. Kc3 Kd5 52. Nb4+ Ke4 ½-½

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 (If the kid has brought an inferior second move to the tournament why not allow him to play it again, Sam) a6 (He does play it again, Sam!?) 3. Nge2 d6 4. g3 (Show me what’cha know, Joe) Nf6 5. Bg2 Nc6 (Depending on which program Stockfish will either play 5…e6, expecting 6 d4 cxd4; or 5…g6, expecting 6 a3 Nc6) 6. O-O (SF would play 6 Nd5 which would be a TN) e6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Re1 (SF 9 at depth 41 plays the game move, expecting 9…Nxd4 10 Qxd4; but SF 270918 at depth 43 plays 9 a4 expecting 9…Be7 10 Nxc6. SF 10 at depth 35 plays 9 Be3 Rc8 10 Nc6) 9…Be7 (Although little played both SF and Komodo play 9…Nxd4 with an even game. 365Chess shows four games in which 9…Nxd4 was played and all four ended in a draw.

10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. e5 (The big three all consider 11 a4 best) dxe5 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Rxe5 (There is a disagreement between the Fish, which prefers the game move, and the Dragon, which likes 13 Qxd8+) 13…0-0 (The Fish trades the ladies while the Dragon keeps them on with 13…Qc7) 14. Qxd8 TN (Stockfish and Houdini consider this best. For 14 Qf3 and 14 Bd2 see games below)

Maritza Arribas (2300) vs Nana Ioseliani (2476)

Istanbul ol (Women) 11/12/2000

B40 Sicilian defence

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Re1 Be7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Qf3 Nd5 15.Re2 Rb8 16.Ne4 f5 17.Nd2 Rf6 18.Nc4 f4 19.Qe4 Qe8 20.Bxf4 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Qh5 22.Rae1 Rbf8 23.f3 Kh8 24.Qxc6 Rxf4 25.Nd2 Bh4 26.Rf1 R4f6 27.Rg2 Bg5 28.Qb7 Rg6 29.f4 Bxf4 30.Kh1 e5 31.c4 h6 32.Qe4 Rxg2 33.Qxg2 Rd8 34.Ne4 Rd1 35.Kg1 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Qd1+ 37.Kf2 Qc2+ 38.Kf3 Qxc4 39.b3 Qd3+ 40.Kg4 Qd1+ 41.Kf5 Qd7+ 42.Kg6 Qe6+ 43.Kh5 Qf5+ 44.Kh4 g5+ 45.Kh5 Kg7 46.b4 Be3 47.a4 Qf7+ 0-1

Bartlomiej Macieja (2613) vs Namig Gouliev (2526)

EU-ch 6th 06/28/2005

B46 Sicilian, Taimanov variation

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.Nge2 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.g3 d6 7.Bg2 Bd7 8.O-O Nf6 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nxc6 Bxc6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Rxe5 O-O 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.Rb1 Rfd8 16.Qe2 Ng4 17.Be3 Nxe3 18.Rxe3 Rd4 19.Rd3 Rxd3 20.Qxd3 Rd8 21.Qe2 h6 22.Ne4 Qd4 23.Nc3 Qb6 24.Ne4 Qd4 25.Nc3 Qb6 ½-½

Class dismissed.