The Fantasy Variation

IM Dorsa Derakhshani (2306)

vs WGM Anna Sharevich (2281)

U.S. Womens Championship 2018 round 01

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 (One of the things I like about 365Chess.com is learning who is the leading practitioner of an opening and/or particular variation. Heather Richards has played 3 f3, the opening FM Kazim Gulamali, called the “Little Grandmaster” at the House of Pain when still a child, proclaimed the “Caro-Kann Crusher,” in twenty-two games. GM Nikola Mitkov has used the weapon eighteen times; and Artyom Timofeev is credited with playing the Crusher on sixteen occasions. The thing about playing so-called “offbeat” openings is that one can compare the play of other, stronger, players with that of your own play. Chess is a language of sorts. The moves “talk” to you if you will listen. The game you are replaying contains ideas of the players producing the moves. The beauty of Chess is “understanding” those ideas, and possibly incorporating them into your own play. With tools like the 365Chess.com and the CBDB (http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/database/) how can players not be better than their predecessors? If one wanted to learn this opening a good start would be to replay the above mentioned fifty-six games. With only that one would be well-armed for battle in a weekend tournament. Stockfish ‘thinks’ little of the Fantasy variation. If white played 3 Nd2 SF shows an advantage of +0.47. After playing 3 f3 it shows black with a small advantage of -0.2)

3…g6 (After this move Heather leads with ten, scoring seven wins; two draws; and only one loss. GM Julian Hodgson has faced 3…g6 five times, scoring three wins and two draws. Stockfish 8, at depth 49, plays 3…e6, which is a tough not to crack. Houdini 3 x 64 at depth 30 plays 3…dxe4. The CBDB shows white scoring only 52% against 3…e6, but an astounding 64% after 3…dxe4!)

4. c3

(After reading an article advocating this move it was my choice the next time facing 3…g6, something soon regretted because of the lack of development. The Fish at the CBDB has 4 Nc3, but the Fish at ChessBomb shows 4 Be3.)

Bg7 5. Bf4 (Komodo plays 5 Na3 [Najer v Rozum below] or Bg5. The Fish at ChessBomb plays 5 Na3, but I prefer it’s second choice…Qe2!)

5…dxe4

(This move is not shown so it is an unsound Theoretical Novelty. Komodo & Stockfish play 5…Nd7. See Mitkov v Azmaiparashvili below for 5…Qb6.)

6. fxe4 e5 (6…Nf6) 7. dxe5

7…Qxd1+ (7… Nd7 is better. If 8. Qd6 Qe7 9. Qxe7+ Nxe7, for example.)

8. Kxd1

Be6 (Stockfish “thinks” black should play 8…f6, with this to follow: 9. Nf3 fxe5 10. Bxe5 Bxe5 11. Nxe5 Nd7 12. Nf3 Ngf6. Black is down a pawn, but the isolated e-pawn can be attacked. It may be the best hope for black.)

9. Nf3 Nd7 10. Nbd2 h6 (There is no reason to delay developing with 10…Ne7)
11. Nc4 (11 Bc4 is better)

11…g5 (She should take the knight with 11…Bxc4)

12. Bg3 Ne7 (SF shows 12..Kf8; Bxc4; g4; & 0-0. The move played in the game is not shown.)

13. Nd6+ (White has a ‘won’ game)

Kf8 14. Kc2 Rb8 (14…Ng6)

15. Nd4 (Why not develop with Bc4?)

Ng6 (SF prefers 15…Bxe5)

16. Be2 (The Fish prefers 16 Rd1)

Bxe5 17. Nxe6+ fxe6 18. Rhf1+ Nf4 19. Nc4 Bc7

20. e5 (And there goes the advantage…20 Rfd1 or a4 keep the advantage)

Ke7 21. Bxf4 gxf4 22. Rxf4 b5 (Why not take the pawn with 22…Nxe5?)

23. Raf1 (I’m “advancing to the rear” with 23 Nd2)

Rbf8 ((23… bxc4 looks strong)

24. Rxf8 (24 Nd2) Rxf8 25. Rxf8 Kxf8 26. Ne3 Nxe5 27. Ng4 Nxg4 28. Bxg4 Bxh2 29. Bxe6 Ke7 30. Bg4 Kd6 ½-½

Derakhshani- Sharevich

U.S. Womens Championship 2018 round 01

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. Bf4 dxe4 6. fxe4 e5 7. dxe5 Qxd1+ 8. Kxd1 Be6 9. Nf3 Nd7 10. Nbd2 h6 11. Nc4 g5 12. Bg3 Ne7 13. Nd6+ Kf8 14. Kc2 Rb8 15. Nd4 Ng6 16. Be2 Bxe5 17. Nxe6+ fxe6 18. Rhf1+ Nf4 19. Nc4 Bc7 20. e5 Ke7 21. Bxf4 gxf4 22. Rxf4 b5 23. Raf1 Rbf8 24. Rxf8 Rxf8 25. Rxf8 Kxf8 26. Ne3 Nxe5 27. Ng4 Nxg4 28. Bxg4 Bxh2 29. Bxe6 Ke7 30. Bg4 Kd6 ½-½

Evgeniy Najer (2706) v Ivan Rozum (2573)

Event: TCh-TUR Super League 2017 07/30/2017

B12 Caro-Kann, Tartakower (fantasy) variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. Na3 e5 6. dxe5 Bxe5 7. exd5 cxd5 8. Bf4 Bxf4 9. Qa4+ Nc6 10. Qxf4 Nge7 11. O-O-O Be6 12. Ne2 a6 13. Nc2 Qa5 14. a3 O-O-O 15. Ned4 Qc7 16. Qf6 Bf5 17. Nxf5 Qf4+ 18. Rd2 Qxf5 19. Qh4 Rd6 20. g3 Qxf3 21. Bh3+ Nf5 22. Rhd1 Kb8 23. Qa4 Qh5 24. Bg4 Qg5 25. h4 Qf6 26. Rf1 Qe5 27. Bxf5 gxf5 28. g4 fxg4 29. Qxg4 Rf6 30. Rxf6 Qxf6 31. Rxd5 Re8 32. Rf5 Qe6 33. Rg5 Qf6 34. Rg8 Qf1+ 35. Kd2 Qf2+ 36. Kd1 Qf1+ 37. Kd2 Qf2+ 38. Kd1 1/2-1/2

Nikola Mitkov (2495) vs Zurab Azmaiparashvili (2625)

Event: Moscow ol (Men) 1994

B12 Caro-Kann, Tartakower (fantasy) variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 g6 4. c3 Bg7 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. Qb3 Be6 7. Qxb6 axb6 8. Nd2 Nd7 9. Bd3 O-O-O 10. Ne2 dxe4 11. fxe4 Bg4 12. h3 Bxe2 13. Bxe2 e5 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Nc4 Kc7 16. dxe5 Bxe5 17. O-O f6 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. Bxf6 Nxf6 20. Rxf6 Rd8 21. Kf2 Rd2 22. Re6 Nd3+ 23. Ke3 Rxe2+ 24. Kxd3 Rxg2 25. Rf1 Rd8+ 26. Ke3 Rg3+ 27. Rf3 Rxf3+ 28. Kxf3 Rf8+ 29. Ke3 Kd7 30. Re5 h6 31. b4 Kd6 32. Kd4 Rc8 0-1

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The Laws of the Najdorf

My subscription to the best Chess magazine ever published in the history of the Royal Game, New In Chess, expired with the 2017/6 issue. Although I would like to renew financial conditions due to health issues, etc., are such that the decision was made for me. Living on a fixed income requires sacrifice. I had extra money after deciding to postpone dental work until spring and there were these two Chess books I’ve wanted to read for quite some time, Insanity, passion, and addiction: a year inside the chess world, by GM Danny Gormally, and Ivan’s Chess Journey: Games and Stories, by GM Ivan Sokolov. Greg Yanez of Chess4Less.com sent out an email announcing his Black Friday sale on Thursday evening and I was about to clear everything in order to listen to the weekly edition of Phenomenon Radio with Linda Moulton Howe (http://kgraradio.com/phenomenon-radio/) so I clicked on and examined all ninety pages of Chess items for sale, while listening to the program, ordering the above mentioned books and the new issue of New In Chess magazine because not only is it the best Chess magazine in the universe, but I am 67 and tomorrow is today. Alas, the issue contains book reviews by GM Matthew Sadler of two books on my wish list, The Rise and Fall of David Bronstein, by Genna Sosonko, and Guyla Breyer, by Jimmy Adams (published by New In Chess), both of which earned five, count’em, FIVE STARS! Two more books, or another subscription to the best Chess magazine in the universe? Oh well, I can take solace in that no matter how I choose to spend my money I cannot go wrong!

Before continuing, let me say that I met Greg at one of the National tournaments for children at the Hyatt in downtown Atlanta, Georgia some years ago. I purchased a stack of books while enjoying talking with Greg and the fellow with him, whose name I simply cannot recall. I spent most of my time while there in the book room, and returned the next day and did the same. The next year another group, USCF sales, had the book concession. I talked with Aviv Friedman, who was there to write an article for the USCF. I mentioned we had played a tournament game but he did not recall it. When told I answered his French with 2 Qe2 his face erupted in a big grin as he interjected, “And I played 2…e5!”
“You do remember it?” I asked. “No,” he said, “I always answer 2 Qe2 with 2…e5! Who won?” I told him he had won the game and that made him smile even more. “It is the only time anyone has ever played that move,” I said, “and I played 3 f4 because I had seen it recommended somewhere.”
Upon mentioning I had just returned from the book room he said, “Oh yeah? What did you think of it?”
When I replied, “Not much,” he said, “Really? Why is that?” Saying I had only purchased one book compared with a stack from Chess4Less the previous year, provoked another, “Really?”
“Yeah,” said I, “The place was moribund compared to last year. Man, that Chess4Less room was really hopping!” I said. Aviv responded, “Really?” Then some USCF official came up to Aviv and I took my leave, heading to the food court. Aviv did not mention this exchange in the article…

I sent my order that night and had it with the US Mail Monday at noon! I worked at the Oxford Bookstore on Peachtree road in the Buckhead section of Atlanta in the late 70’s-early 80’s, and at Oxford Too, a place for used and remaindered books and things like old magazines, later in the 80’s, and once managed a Mr. K’s bookstore on Peachtree road in the same area of town, before quitting to play Backgammon full time. I sold books and equipment with Thad Rogers on the road, and also at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, aka, the House of Pain, so I know more than a little about selling Chess stuff, and I am here to tell you that one simply cannot go wrong dealing with Chess4Less!

The 2017/7 issue of NIC is a wonderful issue. I recall the Nashville Strangler’s wife telling me that when a new issue of NIC arrived she would tell her children, “We have lost daddy for a couple of days.” This issue is a prime example of why.

What I would like to share with you is the opening of the very first game in this magnificent magazine, the game between former World Chess Champion Vishy Anand and GM Anton Kovalyov from the World Cup. That is the tournament in which the latter knocked out the former, but was then “knocked out” by ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili when Zurab verbally accosted and abused the young GM from Canada, who is in college in the USA, only a few minutes before the next round was to begin. Anton left for the airport immediately. From what I read at Chessbase, the bombastic Zurab brings lotsa cash into Chess so he can abuse anyone at any time with impunity and without any kind of reprimand from FIDE. Proof that, “Money talks and bullshit walks.”

Viswanathan Anand (2794) vs Anton Kovalyov (2649)
Event: FIDE World Cup 2017
Site: Tbilisi GEO Date: 09/06/2017
Round: 2.1 Score: 0-1
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Adams attack

Notes by Anish Giri

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 h5 (“This move is typical in the Najdorf, when White has a pawn of f3 and the knight on b3, stopping his pretty much only plan of g2-g4, or when White’s pawn is on h3 and the knight is on e2, hindering the g4/Ne2-g3 set-up and the natural development of the f1-bishop. With the knight on be and the pawn on h3, this move is poor. It is easy for White to prepare f4 in one go (which is more often than not his main plan in this variation anyway), and the pawn on h5 is a minor weakening of Black’s kingside pawn structure.”) 9 Be2 Nbd7 (Black’s set-up looks ‘normal’, but since it is not the 6 f3 variation but the 6 h3 variation and White gets f2-f4 in one go, Black is essentially a tempo down. You may get away with a tempo down in a Giuoco Piano, but not in a sharp Sicilian.”) 10 0-0?! (Vishy plays a little timidly, but he will get another chance to punish Black for not obeying the laws of the Najdorf later on. 10 f4! at once would have been stronger. Black has to deal with the threat of f4-f5, but neither allowing or stopping it will solve his issues: 10…Qc7!? 11 0-0 Be7 12 a4 and one doesn’t need to be Efim Petrovich Geller to see that things are not going well for Black here. To begin with, he can’t castle kingside so easily, since the h5-pawn is vulnerable.) 10…Rc8 11 Qd2 (Again, too timid. 11 f4!? was still strong. Vishy was satisfied to get a good version of the Karpov Variation in the 6 Be2 Najdorf, but the nature of that line is such that, bad version or good, the position is still perfectly playable for Black. White’s plans there are slow and manoeuvring.) 11…b5? (Another ‘normal-looking’ move that is completely out of context.)

Although I would like to give the complete game, including commentary, right out of New In Chess I must stop the comments here, because there are copyright laws and the last thing I need on my limited, fixed income is a lawyer breathing down my neck! I suggest you purchase this issue as it would truly be “cheap at twice the price.” Think of it this way…back in 1968 we would skip the awful lunch at our high school and drive to Mrs. Jackson’s, where we would obtain a meal consisting of a meat, three veggies, roll, iced tea, and dessert, all for only a buck. A meal like that will set you back ten dollars these daze, so an individual copy of the greatest Chess magazine in history will cost you about the same as that meal at Mrs. Jackson’s because that ten spot in your pocket has the purchasing power of that single dollar bill “back in the day.” If you purchase a subscription, you are making out like a bandit! I mean, where else can you obtain this kind of teaching for so little money? If you play the Najdorf, or play against it, you have just increased your understanding exponentially, and the magazine gives this to you each and every issue, plus so much more!

I will, though, provide the remaining moves of the game, sans comment, which can be found all over the internet: (This comes from 365chess.com)
9. Be2 Nbd7 10. O-O Rc8 11. Qd2 b5 12. Rfd1 Nb6 13. Bxb6 Qxb6 14. a4 b4 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bd7 17. a5 Qb7 18. Qe3 Be7 19. Qb6 Qxb6 20. axb6 Rb8 21. Rxa6 Bd8 22. b7 Ke7 23. Nc5 dxc5 24. d6+ Kf6 25. Bf3 Kf5 26. Bd5 e4 27. Re1 Bf6 28. Bxe4+ Kg5 29. Ra5 Bxb2 30. Rxc5+ Kf6 31. Re3 g6 32. Rf3+ Ke6 33. Rd3 Rhd8 34. Ra5 f5 35. Bf3 Bc3 36. h4 Kf6 37. g3 f4 38. Be4 Bf5 39. Bxf5 gxf5 40. Rb5 Ke6 41. Kf1 Rd7 42. gxf4 Rbxb7 43. Re3+ Kf6 0-1

I went to the Chessbase Database, a fantastic FREE resource, (http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/database/) and learned much: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 (Here Komodo prefers 8…Be7, expecting 9 Qf3 to which it will reply 9…0-0; Stockfish would play 8…Nc6, expecting 9 Qf3 Rc8) h5?! 9 Be2 (Stockfish plays 9 f4, while Houdini would play 9 Nd5) Nbd7 10 0-0?! (Stockfish would play an immediate 10 f4, but Komodo would play 10 0-0, as did Vishy, and after 10…Rc8 then play 11 f4)

This is the only other game (found at 365chess.com) with the line:

Ruifeng Li (2404) vs Guillermo Vazquez (2394)

Event: Spring Break UT GM
Site: Brownsville USA Date: 03/06/2015
Round: 1.3 Score: ½-½
ECO: B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Byrne (English) attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. h3 h5 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. f4 g6 11. O-O exf4 12. Bxf4 Qb6+ 13. Qd4 Be7 14. Rad1 Qxd4+ 15. Nxd4 Ne5 16. Nf3 Nfd7 17. Nd5 Rc8 18. c3 Rc5 19. Be3 Rc8 20. Ng5 Bxd5 21. Rxd5 Nc5 22. Nf3 Ned7 23. e5 dxe5 24. Nxe5 Nxe5 25. Rxe5 Rc7 26. Bc4 Rh7 27. Bg5 f5 28. Bd5 Kf8 29. Bf4 Nd3 30. Re6 Nxf4 31. Rxf4 Bc5+ 32. Kf1 Rhd7 33. c4 1/2-1/2

The Najdorf was my favorite opening with Black “back in the day.” I won the 1976 Atlanta Championship using the Najdorf in the last round, when I was 4-0 while my opponent, Earle Morrison, was a half point back. I recall someone saying, “The Najdorf is not an opening. It is a SYSTEM,” but I can no longer recall by whom it was said…

Larry (Kaufman): “We have been seeing Komodo on its own, without a book, play the Najdorf Sicilian, which of course many people would say might be the best opening in chess for both sides.” (http://www.chessdom.com/interview-with-robert-houdart-mark-lefler-and-gm-larry-kaufman/)

While researching Chess quotes about the Najdorf I found this, which is right in line with one of the books sent by Greg:

Shock and Awe 1 – Destroying the Najdorf GM Danny Gormally
https://www.gingergm.com/blog/shock-and-awe-1-destroying-the-najdorf

GM Levon Aronian and his new bride, Arianne Caoili are pictured on the cover of NIC 2017/7 in wedding garb.

In the event you do not know what part GM Gormally plays in this story surf on over to Chessbase and read all about it: https://en.chessbase.com/post/party-time-at-the-che-olympiad

or, http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2006/06/swing-of-things.htm; or, http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/chess-beauty-triggers-feud/2006/06/07/1149359787726.html

Or, BUY THE MAGAZINE!

Led Zeppelin – Thank You (The Wedding Song)