There are at least two good reasons why cell phones are not allowed in tournaments.

One is that, with the readily available chess programs/engines and texting availability on almost all cell phones, text messages can be sent with computer engineered moves either from the computer or from a co-conspirator (such as “play 10.Rae1, idiot!).

Back around 1990 I was participating in an OTB tournament and had a cassette player with earphones and listening to some inspiring music. I easily won the game.

But immediately after the game my opponent strolled over to the tournament director (TD) and told him that he suspected I was cheating. He complained that I could be listening to pre-recoded moves coming from my cassette player. I looked at my former opponent, and gave him a look that very much suggested, “you’ve got to be kidding”.

In the presence of both the ex-opponent and the TD, I took out the cassette and showed it to the TD. The TD was satisfied about the label on the cassette and was about to rule in favor. But my ever suspicious opponent claimed I could have erased the content of the tape and replaced with my voice saying, “1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 ..”.

I put back the cassette in the player and showed the TD how to play it. He did so and briefly listened to The Grand Illusion album by Styx. The TD smiled and then handed back the player back to me. And while I walked away, cleared of any wrongdoing, I noticed the TD slowly shaking his head.

Now let’s go to the second reason why cell phones are not allowed in tournament halls. The game was played on-line as there is a nasty virus going around.

Blitz Game, Sept. 1 2020
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.O-O Bxc3 9.d5

(This is Moller Attack. The main line goes 9…Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6, reaching a well-known position. And too drawish in my opinion. I therefore played an offbeat and interesting move and found out after the game there is theory on it.) 9…Na5!? 10.bxc3 Nxc4 11.Re1

(More common is 11.Bd3 or 11.Qd4.

Nuremberg Open, 1990
11.Qd4 Ncd6 12.Ng5 Nxg5 13.Qxg7 Nge4 14.Qxh8+ Ke7 15.Qe5+ 1-0

Nova Gorica, 2001
11.Bd3 Nf6 12.Bg5 h6 13.Bh4 d6 14.Qa4 b6 15.Rfe1 a6 16.Re3 Bd7 17.Qc2 Nb7 18.Rae1 Nc5 19.Bf5 Ba4 20.Qd2 g6 21.Re7 Kg7 22.Bxf6+ Kh7 23.Ng5+ Kg8 24.Ne6 Qxe7 25.Bxe7 fxe6 26.Bxe6+ Nxe6 27.dxe6 Kh7 28.Bxf8 Rxf8 29.e7 Re8 30.Qf4 Bd7 31.Qf7+ Kh8 32.Qf8+ Kh7 33.Qf7+ Kh8 34.Qxg6 h5 35.f4 1-0

Even the text move has a precedent.

Pierre Francois Geronimi-GM Loek Van Wely
European Blitz Ch.
Ajaccio, Oct. 25 2007
11.Re1 Nd6 12.Ng5 O-O 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Rxe4 d6 15.Qf3 Re8 16.Rxe8+ Qxe8 17.Be3 f6 18.Re1 Bd7 19.Qg3 Qe5 20.Qxe5  fxe5 21.c4 b6 22.Bg5 h6 23.Bh4 g5 24.Bg3 Bf5 25.Re2 Bd3 26.Rd2 Bxc4 0-1.)

11…Nd6! [A more-or-less thematic move in this variation. It (temporarily) puts a stop to White’s plans and Black doesn’t mind giving back some material, as long as he stays ahead. Side note: It’s nice while checking the game against a database to find out that a move that you found OTB is identical to one that a GM played. But let’s get back the game – I have yet to win the game.] 12.Qc2 O-O 13.Rxe4 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 Re8 (White has a lead in development for some material. But he wastes tempi in his next few moves by trying for a quick mate.) 15.Qg4?! d6 16.Qg3 Qf6 17.Bb2 Bd7 18.Rb1 (Attempting to gain the momentum after 19.c4. But Black is ahead of him.) 18…Qg6 19.Qxg6 hxg6 20.c4 Re2 21.Kf1 Rc2 22.c5 Rxc5 23.Rc1 Rxc1+ 24.Bxc1 Re8 25.Be3 Bb5+ 26.Ke1 (I’m contemplating about White’s possibility of taking the a6-pawn. Oh wait! Is the bishop pinned? I don’t think I need to worry about my a-pawn just yet. Is there a good move for Black here?)

(Ring!! The cell phone goes off!! Do I need to check the phone?  And I know I must make a move as this is a speed game. I quickly figure that any move that doesn’t immediately lose should be OK.) 26…a6? (And I fell back into thinking my a-pawn is under attack. Black has the much better 26…Bc4! 27.Kd2 Bxd5 28.Bxa7? b6, which might let me finish the game and answer the call at the same time. But I missed this golden opportunity. So I decided to say, “hello”, keep my eye on the game, and tell the caller I will call her back in a few minutes – but not tell her I’m playing blitz chess.) 27.Kd2 Bf1 28.g3 Bg2 29.Nd4 (Back on track and everything going good so far. Then my caller asks me a question.)

 29…Bh3? (Eek! Loss of concentration and loss of a free pawn and a tempo. Black has the better and obvious 29.Bxd5! I tell myself that at least I took some squares away from the knight, but I know that’s not the reason or issue. I had let my concentration drift again.) 30.Nc2 Bg2 31.Nb4 a5 32.Nc2 Bxd5 (Finally! Now White is lost. And I realize I have more time. Maybe Black also has a phone call??) 33.a4 Bc6 0-1

50 Years Ago

On Apr. 17th 1970, just after the conclusion USSR vs. Rest of the World match, a blitz tournament took place in Herceg Novi, then part of Yugoslavia.


Many of the world class players who participated in the USSR match joined the blitz tournament. Among them were three ex-world champions (Smyslov, Petrosian, and Tal), one future world champion (Fischer would win the title two years later), other players who had participated in the world championship matches and tournaments, and still others who would in the future.


Despite several renowned Soviet blitz players, it was Fischer, then in his prime, who captured first place. By a large margin.


The difference between Fischer and second placed Tal (who was one of the renowned Soviet players), was an outstanding 4 ½ points.


Many of the games were not recorded, which was understandable in the pre-computer days. However, many Tal’s games (about half) could not be reconstructed or were not available after play. This is all more surprising given that Tal was known for his phenomenal memory.


Still we have some wonderful games from the tournament. Various games of the top two players from the tournament are given below. Their games are still popular and enjoyable five decades later.







GM Fischer-IM Ostojic
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[This game has been published in various publications and blogs, including this one.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Ng8 8.Bc4 Bg7 9.Bf4 Qa5 10.O-O Bxe5 11.Bxe5 Qxe5 12.Re1 Qc7

13.Qd4! +- (13.Qd5 would also work but this is the fastest way to victory.) 13…f6 14.Bxg8 Rxg8 15.Qxf6 d5 16.Re2 Ba6 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.Qxa6 Rf8 19.Rae1 Rf7 20.Qe6 Rd8 21.c3 Kf8 22.g3 d4 23.cxd4 Rxd4 24.Qe5 Qxe5 25.Rxe5 Rd2 26.R1e2 Rxe2 27.Rxe2 Rf6 28.Kf1 Rc6 29.Ke1 e6 30.Kd2 Ke7 31.Re4 Rb6 32.b3 Ra6 33.a4 Kd6 34.Rh4 h5 35.Rd4+ Ke7 36.Kc3 Rc6+ 37.Rc4 Ra6 38.Rc7+ Kf6 39.Kb4 Rb6+ 40.Kc4 a6 41.a5 Rd6 42.b4 Rd2 43.Kc5 Rxf2 44.Kb6 e5 45.Kxa6 e4 46.b5 e3 47.Rc1 Ke5 48.b6 Rg2 49.b7 Rb2 50.Ka7 g5 51.b8=Q+ Rxb8 52.Kxb8 1-0


GM Tal-GM Fischer
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[For most of the game it is even. White eventually gets the advantage, only to see the advantage, and then the game, slip away.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 Nf6 6.O-O Nc6 7.Ne1!? (A move deserving of more attention. ECO gives 7.Ng5 O-O 8.f4 h6 9.Nf3 exf4, leading to an equal game.) 7…O-O 8.f4 [Despite position’s almost pacific appearance, the game has a lot of tension. From this position, played 33 years later, Black chose 8.exf4 and soon gained the advantage: 9.Bxf4 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.h3 Qe8 12.Bh2 Qg6 13.Nf3 Nh5 14.Ne2 Rf7 15.Nd2 Raf8 16.Rxf7 Rxf7 17.c3 Bh4 18.Nc4 d5 19.exd5 exd5 20.Ne5 Nxe5 21.Bxe5 Rf2 22.g4 Qg5 23.Bg3 Bxg3 24.Nxg3 Qf4 25.Nf1 Ng3 0-1 (Kim Pilgaard – George-Gabriel Grigore, Kings Cup, Bucharest, 2003).] 8…a6 9.a4 exf4 10.Bxf4 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Bg3 Qb6 13.Qd2 Ng4 14.Nf3 Nd4 15.Rab1 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Ne5 17.Kg2 Ng6 18.Ne2 Nh4+ 19.Bxh4 Bxh4 20.b4 Qc7 21.bxc5 dxc5 22.a5 Rf6 23.f4 Raf8 24.Rb6 Bg5 25.e5 Rf5 26.Rxe6 Qf7 27.Rd6 Bxf4 28.Rxf4 Rxf4 29.Nxf4 Qxf4 30.Qxf4 Rxf4 31.Rd7 (White has the advantage due to his advanced pawns and Black’s isolated king on the back rank. But the game still needs to be won!) 31…Ra4 32.e6 Kf8 33.Rf7+ Ke8 34.Rxg7 Rxa5 35.Rxb7 Ra2 36.Kf3 Rxc2 37.Rxh7 c4 38.d4 c3 39.d5 Rd2 40.Ke4 c2 41.Rc7 Kd8 42.Rc4 a5 43.h4 a4 44.Ke5 a3 45.d6 Re2+ 46.Kf5 Rf2+ 47.Kg4 a2




48.d7?? (White falters at the moment of truth ; 48.e7+ Kd7 49.Rc7+ Kxd6 50.e8=Q Kxc7 51.Qe5+ Kd7 52.Qd4+ Ke7 53.Qb4+ Ke6 54.Qb6+ Kd7 55.Qb7+ Ke8 56.Qc8+ and it’s a draw!) 48…Ke7 49.Rc8 Rd2 50.Re8+ Kf6 51.e7 Rxd7 (Black promotes first and gives the first check. Bobby, like most of his games of the tournament, was also probably ahead in time.) 0-1


GM Tal-GM Uhlmann
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[One does not give Tal a free tempo!]
1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.O-O a6 6.Na3 c5 7.Nxc4 e6 8.d4 Rb8? (The rook does nothing except to get itself into trouble. Better, and more enterprising, is 7…Nb6!?) 9.Bf4 Ra8 10.dxc5 Nxc5? (Better for Black is 10….Nd5, and while not winning, it has the dual benefits of not losing more tempi and getting somewhat out of the pin.) 11.Bd6 Nxc5 12.Bxf8 Kxf8 13.Qd4 Nd7 14.Rac1 h5 15.Rfd1 Qf6 16.e4 Qxd4 17.Rxd4 N5f6 18.Nd6 Ke7 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Rfd1+ Nfd7 13.Nb6 Ra7 14.Bb8!






GM Tal-GM Borislav Ivkov
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Be3 b6 6.Nf3 Bb7 7.Bd3 Nd7 (When Black makes this move the message he sends out is, “I’m going to play …e5 or …c5.” If he doesn’t make either of these two moves, then the message becomes, “Attack me!”. Black doesn’t make this error, but Tal still attacks!) 8.Qd2 c5 9.O-O-O Ngf6 10.b3 c4 11.Bxc4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Rhe1 Bxf3 14.gxf3 e6 15.Bf4 Nf6



16.Bxe6! fxe6 17.Rxe6+ Kf7 18.Rxd6 (White also has 18.d5) 18…Qc8 19.Be5 Rd8 20.Rxd8 Qxd8 21.Rg1 Qd7 22.Qd3 Qf5 23.Qc4+ Qe6 24.Qc7+ Qe7 25.Qc4+ Qe6 26.Qd3 Qf5 27.Qc4+ Qe6 28.Qxe6+ Kxe6 29.Rxg6 … 1-0

GM Tal-GM Korchnoi
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 a6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 c4 7.O-O Bd6 8.Re1 Ne7 9.b3 b5 10.a4 c3 11.Nf1 b4 12.Ne5 O-O 13.Bf4 f6? 14.Nd3 Bxf4 15.Nxf4 Qd6 16.Bf3! Nbc6 17.Ne3 Qxf4 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5+ Kh8 20.Bxc6 Ra7 21.Qe2 Qxd4 22.Rad1 Qc5 23.Qe8 Raf7 24.Rd5 Qb6 25.Qxf7 1-0

When you see a good move …

“When you see a good move, look for a better one.”


Often attributed to Emanuel Lasker.


But this quote predates him, going back at least to 1878.

“Still flying at high game, in accordance to with the rule, ‘When you see a good move look out for a better’. ” – The Chess Player’s Chronicle, January 1878, pg. 31.


Nevertheless, this is still a good rule to follow, and not just in chess.


But, since this a chess blog, we’ll stick with chess.


Years ago, I was watching a young person playing a tournament game. He was White and had an overwhelming position. The following diagram is a close approximation of the position I recollect.


It is White to move.



Now this young person played 1.Qd5+ and Black responded with his best move; 1…Kh8. White continued with 2.Qxa5.


After the game ended, I asked this young person why he took the pawn. He asked me if what he played was a bad move. I told him it was not a bad move; I was just curious. He replied that he knew that a Rook and Queen would mate the Black.


I then asked him if he could mate with just a Queen. He said he could, but he saw the win with the Rook and Queen, and seeing nothing wrong with it, went with the idea.


White, of course, could win the game outright with 1.Qg6+. If Black plays 1…Kf8, then White mates with 2.Qf7#. And if Black moves his king to h8, then White mates with 2.Qg7#.


It’s a malady we all seem to have.


Let’s jump ahead a few decades.
Blitz Game, Mar. 8 2020


White just played 21.Bb4 and Black’s queen is in trouble.




Black apparently panicked and played 21…Qxa2? (he would have lessened the danger by playing 21…Rxd1).


And White, seeing a win and a possible mate, responded instantly with 22.Rxd8! Rxd8 23.Qxd8+ Kg7 24.Bf8+ Kg8 25.Bh6#. 1-0 But this is not the end of the story. For White could have played the mate a move earlier with 24.Qf8#. Why didn’t I play that move? Well, you see I saw the mate, and then stopped looking.


There must be something between large egos and chess players. They, the players, are known for bragging and boasting for the prowess in the game, sometimes even justified. But really, do we need all this boasting, bragging, arrogance, crowing, cockiness, after every game?? What ever happened to just being a gentleman? Isn’t that what tutors and teachers of the game (try to) install into their students?

But such attitudes go at least far back as the 19th century. Morphy faced some pretty big egos and when he traveled to Europe and some American players were apparently doing the same in the states.

Maybe it’s now just part of the game.


It was back in the 1980’s when I was first started to study and learn chess, as opposed to just playing the game. Labate’s Chess Centre held a blitz tournament every Friday night and I took part in many of these tournaments.


During this particular Friday night there was an expert chess player. He was slightly tall, and slightly skinny lad in his 20s. He had dark hair and walked around the room with an air of arrogance. He was also my first-round opponent.

We walked to the table and even before we shook hands he said he was better than me and was going to beat me. I remembered replying, “Shall I resign now?”


He didn’t expect that. But we still had a game to play.

1.e4 c5 2.f4 (The Grand Prix attack. It was very popular in the latter part of the 1980s. Black has a number of ways to combat this King’s Gambit version of the Sicilian, including 2…d5. Which is the main reason I gave up on this Sicilian sideline.) 2…d6 3.Nf3 Bg4?! (This is not the best as the game now mirrors the Kings’ Gambit more closely; a opening I knew- and still know – very well.) 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.e5!? (I am guessing my opponent would have difficulty with this move as he was playing very, very fast, trying to be beat me on time as well as position. All is fair in a 5 minute game.) 5…dxe5 (My opponent actually laughed at this point. He whispered to me, “I’ve won a pawn.” Then he looked at me before continuing, “Now what?”) 6.Nxe5 (I remember thinking, and maybe I did respond to him with, “But I’ve won a piece”. He looked at the free queen and smiled and smiled and excitedly asked me, “How are going to win without your queen?” He grabbed it quickly.) 6…Bxd1 (I just sat there for a little while as my opponent basked in his glory and gluttony. Have to admit it, but I did enjoy savoring the moment before playing my move.) 7.Bxf7# 1-0


And my opponent stood up and walked away without saying a word or shaking my hand. What did all his boasting do for him? Nothing but a source of a amusement for his opponent.



It was in 1991 that the US Open was last held in Los Angeles, CA. I played in that tournament and remembered playing chess morning, noon, and night. I know I shipped at least a few meals during that tournament.


One of my opponent was slightly drunk when he and I sat down to play in the Open. Unfortunately, he slightly squiffy. He walked with a off-balance gait, spoke in a slurred speech and I smelled alcohol on his breath when he sat down. Yup, he was drunk.


Gomez Baillo-Escalante
US Open
Los Angeles, Aug. 6 1991
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 (We’ve reached the Marshall Attack. This Black defence was more popular in the early 1990s and I was keen to try it out in this Open.) 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.d4 (More common is 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5.) 10…exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.cxd4 (12.Qxd4 is better.) 12…Be6 13.Nc3 c6 14.Qh5 Qd7 15.Nxd5 cxd5 16.Bc2 g6 17.Qe5 Bd6 18.Qg5 Be7 19.Qh6 Bf6 20.Bg5 Bg7 21.Qh4 Bf5 22.Rac1 Rac8 23.Bxf5? Rxc1! 24.Rxc1 Qxf5 25.g4? Qe4 26.Be3 Bxd4 -+ 27.Bh6 Re8 28.Bg5 Bxb2 29.Qh6 Bxc1 30.Bxc1 Qxg4+ 31.Kf1 Qe2+ (with the idea of Re4) 0-1


Now, it was good game. But I didn’t feel right about getting it published. After all, I beat someone who was clearly not at his best. I wanted to be humble.


Well, two years later, a CD collection of chess games titled, Déjà vu, had this game in it. To this day, I don’t know how it ended up in there.


So much for being humble. I didn’t brag, but still, somehow, it got published.

But does such a thing as misplaced bragging happen in Master chess? I found this game in Chernev’s excellent “The Fireside Book of Chess”.]

Frank Marshall – Duz-Hotimirsky
Carlsbad, 1911
[Chernev spelled “Carlsbad” as “Karlsbad”, a more popular form of spelling the city name in the 1940’s. All other notes by Chernev.]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.e3 a6 5.Ne5 Nd7 6.Nxd7 Bxd7 7.Bxc4 Bc6 8.O-O Bd6 9.Nc3 Qh4 10.f4 Nf6 11.Bd2 Ng4 12.h3 Qg3


(Black threats are 13…Qh2# and 13…Qxg2#. Dus had already run into the next room, exclaiming excitedly in his broken German, “Poor Marshall dead! Must be mate!” …) 13.Qxg4 (… One minute later he returned with “I am dead”.) 1-0

New Years

Some people say New Years’ Resolutions, like record and rules, are meant to be broken. However, they do provide a good base to start, promote, or expand a plan.


So, here are my three resolutions for me, the chess player.


(1) To continue and expand my book writing. And if someone was offer an editorship, to take up as well.
(2) To continually expand this website in ideas, presentations, and above all, games and analyses.
(3) Since I haven’t played an OTB tournament for some time, to go ahead and do at least one and see some old friends.


There are free (or almost free) chess tutorials on YouTube. And there are many other chess videos available, mostly for the enjoyment of the game. Here’s one I think you’ll find to be at least amusing.

Which provides some opportunity for study. Here’s the score of the game.


NM Gabriel-“Boston Mike”
Blitz Game
Los Angeles?, 2019?
1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 d6 (This move obviously protects the e5-pawn and there is nothing wrong with it, as long as Black gets …Nc6 to shore up the pawn, develop a piece, and keep from getting cramped. But Black never gets around to moving this knight until it is too late.) 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Be2 O-O 6.O-O b6?? (Since Black already has an open diagonal, why not use it for his bishop? 6…b6 is worse than useless as it creates a weakness and allows Black to be squeezed as he attempts to defend this weaknesses.) 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Bb7 9.Nf5 (White is trying to force other weaknesses before committing his pieces.) 9…Nbd7 10.Nd2 Re8 (It’s now time to take the bishop as the it is preparing to move out of the Knight’s grasp.) 11.Nxe7+ Rxe7 12.Bf3 Bxf3 13.Nxf3 (Black is very weak on the light squares on the queenside. This is where White will make his initial probes) 13…Re8 14.Nd4 a5 15.Nc6 +/- Qc8 16.Qf3 Ne5 17.Nxe5 dxe5 18.Rad1 Qe6 (The queen is greatly misplaced here. But what else can Black do?) 19.Qb7 Rec8 20.c4 h6 21.Qf3 Nd7 22.Rd5 f6 23.Rfd1 Nc5 24.e4 a4 25.b4 Na6 (Knights on the rim are grim. This Knight will soon be known as “Target”)


26.a3 (White has locked up the queenside, but Black still has the same weaknesses on the white squares.) 26…c6 27.Rd7 (And now Black has an additional weakness on the seventh rank.) 28…Rf8 28.Qe2 Rac8 29.R1d6 Qe8 30.Qg4 (Mate is threatened. Black has so many weaknesses that it doesn’t matter; he is lost.) 30…Rf7 31.Rxf7 Qxf7 (31…Kxf7 32.Rd7+) 32.Qxc8+ Kh7 33.Qxa6 1-0





Here’s to the New Year!

Splashes of wine in two wineglasses isolated on white



Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!



Let’s first start off with the answers from last week’s simple (or maybe not-so simple) problems.




(1)  This one is very easy. White can only make legal moves. So, he must play 1.d4. And Black can only respond with 1… b5. The problem continues with 2.d5 b4 3.axb4 a3 4.c5, and mate cannot be avoided.



(2) Cook’s problem also can be solved with just making the only legal moves available. 1.c4 leads directly to mate. Incidentally, if it is Black to move in this position, he also mates with legal moves, starting with 1…f5.



(3) Black threatens promoting and winning with his two pawns on the seventh rank. White must therefore check to have any chances at winning.



White must play 1.bxc3+. If Black king was to step on a white square, White would immediately have winning endgame after Qb3+. Black then has to stay on the dark squares and plays 1….Kc5. And White continues with 2.cxd4+. If you can see the pattern forming you figure out the rest.



(4) Since it is White to play and win Black must have made the last legal move. But which one would let White win?



To save a little time, I’ll just mention that Black’s last move was 1…f7-f5. Now you can figure it out.





There are a number of chess tournaments being held this weekend. Perhaps the best well-known is the American Open, being held in Costa Mesa, California. See website for details:








One thing I enjoy about chess is the endless possibilities for exploration. Here is a recent blitz game, and maybe I’m wrong, but it rapidly goes into new territory.



Blitz Game, Nov. 23 2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Be2?!


[Theory recommends Nxc6 on this move or the next. Here is a game showing at least one possibility of the Nxc6.


Sadek (2183)-El Ghazali (2362)
Golden Cleopatra
Cairo, Apr. 7 2002
1.c4 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.Ne2 Nf6 4.Nbc3 e6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bb4 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bd3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.O-O O-O 11.Be3 Ba6 12.c5 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 Ng4 14.Rfd1 Rab8 15.h3 Nxe3 16.Qxe3 Rb5 17.Rxd7 Rxc5 18.Rb1 a6 19.Rbb7 Rxc3 20.Qf4 e5 21.Rxf7 Rc1+ 22.Kh2 1-0.


But I didn’t want to play it. Blitz games can help you learn more about your pet opening in two ways. One, it is a good way to try out new ideas, and two, it is a way to find out why a suggested move is usually better than one’s own idea. Here’s a game to try out a different, but not necessarily better, move.]


6…Nge7 7.O-O O-O 8.Be3 Bxc3 (8…d5 is better for Black as it opens lines for a possible attack.) 9.bxc3 a6 10.a4?! (OK, this move doesn’t do much other than gain space for White on the queenside. Perhaps better is still Nxc6!?) 10…Qc7 11.Qd2 d6 12.f4 f6?! (Black should keep developing with 12…Bd7. He soon falls behind in development and piece play.) 13.Rab1 e5 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.Bc4+! Kh8 16.Ne6 Bxe6 17.Bxe6 Rad8 18.Qf2 Qd6 19.Ba2 Qa3? (Black gets greedy and being behind in development category is not good for his game.) 20.Bb3!


20…Rd7?? (Black should admit his mistake and move his queen back to d6, with White having an advantage, but not necessarily a winning one.)  21.Bc5!! (Now White has winning advantage as Black’s queen is trapped.) 21…Rfd8 22.Bxa3 Rd2 23.Qe3 Ng6 24.Bd5 Nf4 25.Qxd2 Nxd5 26.exd5 Na5 27.Qd3 1-0


Chess in Another Game

Not only do I enjoy chess, but most board games in general (but to a lesser extent, of course).


One of these games is Dixit, a party game in which players try to guess which your card by is using a clue that you provided. Similar to Apples to Apples or Card Against Humanity (an adult version of Apples to Apples).


You can’t make your clue too easy, else everyone will solve it and you get no points. And if you make your clue too difficult and no one solves it, then again you get no points. Best strategy is having one or two people solve it and you earn three points.


So, what does this have to do with chess? Glad you asked! Two of the cards have chess themes in their image. See below.




Let’s take the first image. I’ve played this card before, in fact twice. The first time I gave the clue, it was “Berlin, Italian, French, Swiss”. All of these are chess openings, of which one person got it. I’m proud of that clue!


Another time I used the clue, “Peace”, as it referred to the dove. But since the clue was spoken, it also referred to “Piece”, as something one would expect to be on a chessboard. I didn’t do as well on that image.


The second image is harder to find a clue that doesn’t give it immediately away. Maybe “Bobby and Lisa”, a reference to strongest female and male American players of the 1960’s. Or perhaps, “What does Alice in Wonderland and One Night in Bangkok have in common?” (they both feature chess).


Here I digress. If the reader wishes to use chess themes found in a movie, he (or she!) may want to watch this YouTube video,


A few pet peeves here. One is the five-minute game of Sherlock Holmes.  Players at that time did not play five- minute games; the chess clocks could not handle the rapid oscillations of fast moving players. Players would instead use a set time of 5 seconds per move, called out by an independent arbitrator. In “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, the clocks are set for five minutes, not two minutes. The chess sets used in the movies tend not to be the sets preferred by most players – too hard to determine pieces and/or the pieces are too fragile to grab and gather them, esp. in speed chess. And finally, most of the movies use Descriptive Notation (DN), such as “Queen takes Knight”, instead of more common, and easier to use, Algebraic Notation (AN). Only Harry Potter gets it right!  


But back to the original post!


Readers! Do you have any suggestions for these two cards? Would love to hear your opinion!

Using a Chess Engine

A chess engine is a computer or a program that can analyze a position or game. Many players believe that a computer is incapable of making a mistake and whatever evaluation an engine makes should be taken with blind faith.


But as Bobby Fischer once said, “This is the start (of an analysis)”.


Below is such a discussion between an engine and myself.


Blitz Game, July 22 2018
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 (I’ve been experimenting this move for a couple of years. It certainly takes Black out of book and Black has many chances to go wrong in the opening. Like in this game.) 3…Nf6 (This move is very reasonable. It is safe and fits into many Black plans. It is only later when Black forgets why he played this move and apparently forgets about development. By the way, two other common moves are 3…Qe6 and 3…Bg4 are not a good as the text move.) 4.d4 Qa5+ 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.c3 [The engine at said this was an error and gives the better 6.Na3 c5 (this is because 6…Na3 Qxb2?? loses to 7.Nc4 Qb5 8.Nd6+ – my analysis) 7.Be3 Qa5+ 8.Bd2 Qb6 9.dxc5 Qxc5 10.Be3 Qa5+] 6…Qxb2 7.Qb3 Qxa1 8.Bc4 b6?! (This is too slow. Black has some compensation for his lack of development – the extra rook. He must quickly catch up on his development to secure his advantage. Better is 8… e6. I didn’t need a computer to tell me this! This move would limit the movement of White’s pieces and allows his bishop to move out.)

9.O-O (Again the computer suggests another move, giving 9.Bxf7+ Kd8 10.O-O Nc6 11.Na3 Na5 12.Qc2 Qxf1+ 13.Kxf1 e6. I saw at least part of this but I wanted to safeguard my own king and keep the Black’s queen isolated in the corner.) 9…Be6?? (Blunder says the computer and I agree. Black still has 9… e6.) 10.Bxe6! fxe6 11.Na3 1-0 (Black resigned. He could of course play 11…Qxf1+ 12.Kxf1 but his lack of development is still a major problem and White’s queen is now in charge.)

An Underpromotion Story

I enjoy games with underpromotions. 

Here is one of my favorite games. You’ll see that not all underpromotions are necessary, or even good.


A GM learns this lesson the hard way.



GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2784)-
GM Hikaru Nakamura (2792)
Blitz Game
Paris Grand Chess Tour
France, June 25 2017
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 O-O 5.Bg5 c5 6.e3 cxd4 7.exd4 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Be2 h6

[This position has occurred a few times before in Grandmaster chess, the latest two being, surprisingly, other blitz games. (1) 9.Be2 h6 10.Bh4 g5 11.Bg3 Ne4 12.Rc1 Nc6 13.O-O Bxc3 14.bxc3 Bf5 15.Ne5 Rc8 16.f4 Nxe5 17.fxe5 Qd7 18.Bd3 Kg7 19.Qf3 Bg6 20.c4 dxc4 21.Bxe4 Qxd4+ 22.Kh1 Qxe4 23.Qf6+ Kh7 24.Rce1 Qd4 25.Rd1 Bd3 26.Qe7 Qd5 27.Rf6 c3 28.Rd6 c2 29.Rc1 Qe4 30.Qf6 Kg8 31.Qxh6 Qf5 32.Rf6 Rc6 33.h3 Rxf6 34.exf6 Qg6 35.Qxg6+ Bxg6 36.Kg1 Rd8 0-1 [GM A. Tari (2584)-GM Wei Yi (2707), World Blitz, Doha, Qayar, Dec. 29 2016], and (2) 9.Be2 h6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.O-O Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 b6 14.Nd2 Be6 15.Nf1 Na5 16.Ne3 Rac8 17.Rc1 Rfd8 18.Bd3 Rc7 19.g3 g6 20.Ng2 Nc4 21.Rc2 Re7 22.Qc1 Bf5 23.Rxe7 Bxd3 24.Rxa7 g5 25.Rd2 Nxd2 26.Qxd2 Be4 27.Ne1 Re8 28.a4 Bf3! 0-1 (White loses fastest with 29.Nxf3? Qxf3, with the idea of 30…Rd2. But even with the better 29.h3 Re2 30.Qd1 g4 31.hxg4 Bxg4 32.Nd3 Qf3 33.Ra8+ Kg7 34.Ra7 Qe4 35.Kh2 Qf3 36.Kg1 Qe4, he is quite lost.) [GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2784)-GM Carlsen (2832), Blitz Game, Paris Grand Chess Tour, France, June 21 2017]. Yes, the last game was played in the same event, just four days before the current game! Speaking of the current game, let’s now return to it.]

10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.O-O Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 b6!? 14.Nd2 Be6 15.Nf1 Rac8 16.Ne3 Ne7 17.Rc1 Ng6 18.g3 Rc7 19.f4 Ne7 20.Bd3 Rfc8 21.Qd2 Bd7 22.Ba6 Rd8 23.Bd3 Qd6 24.f5 Kh8 25.Rf1 Ng8 26.Ng4 b5 27.Ne5 Be8 28.Rce1 Rdc8 29.Qf4 Rd8 30.Re3 f6 31.Ng6+ Bxg6 32.Qxd6 Rxd6 33.fxg6 Rd8 34.Bxb5 Ne7 35.Bd3 Rxc3 36.Rxe7 Rxd3 37.Rfe1 Rf8 38.Rf7 Rg8 39.Rxa7 Rxd4 40.a4 Rg4 41.Rd1 Rxg6 42.Rxd5 Rg4 43.Rdd7 Rb8 44.Kg2 Rb2+ 45.Kf3 h5 46.Rd5 Rb3+ 47.Kg2 Rb2+ 48.Kh3 Rg5 49.Raa5 Rxd5 50.Rxd5 g5 51.g4 Rb3+ 52.Kg2 hxg4 53.Rd4 Kg7 54.Rxg4 Kg6 55.Rc4 Kh5 56.h3 f5 57.Rc8 Rb2+ 58.Kf3 Rb3+ 59.Kg2 Ra3 60.Rh8+ Kg6 61.Ra8 Kf6 62.a5 Ke5 63.a6 Kf4 64.a7 Ra2+ 65.Kf1 Kf3 66.Ke1 f4 67.Rg8 Rxa7 68.Rxg5 Ra1+ 69.Kd2 Kf2 70.h4 Ra3 71.h5 Rh3! 72.Rf5 f3 73.Kd3 Ke1 74.Re5+ Kf1 75.Rf5 Kg2 76.Ke3 f2+ 77.Ke2

77…f1=N [77…f1=B+ and 77…f1=Q+ 78.Rxf1 Rxh5 are obvious draws. Reportably Nakamura couldn’t find a bishop and didn’t want to promote to a queen, so he made the promotion to a knight (presumeably there was an available knight) to try to secure a draw. He almost made it.] 78.Rf2+ Kg1 79.Rxf1+ Kg2 80.Rf2+ Kg1 81.Rf5 Ra3 82.h6 Rh3 83.Rf6 Kh2 84.Kf2 Rh4 85.Kf3 Kh3 86.Rg6 Ra4? (The problem-like move, 86…Kh2!, is the draw. But how many players would find the move in a blitz game?) 87.h7? (And White missed 87.Rg1 and 87.Rg3+, both winning. Suffice to say Black missed some draws and White missed a few wins.) 87…Rh4 88.Rg7 Rh6? 89.Kf4 Kh4 90.Kf5 Rh5+ 91.Kg6 Kg4 92.Kf7+ 1-0