Happy Birthday Fabiano Luigi Caruana!


Caruana was born this day in 1992 (July 30) in Miami, Florida. He moved to Italy in 2005 but returned to the United States when he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 2014.


He claims dual citizenship of Italy and the United States.


He played his first tournament at the young age of five at the Polgar Chess Center in the appropriately named in Queens borough in New York.

Caruana earned his grandmaster in 2007, at the age of 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days—the youngest grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States at the time.


He won the Italian National Championship in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 and the US Championship in 2016.


He is the third American to play in the (OTB) World Championship (after Marshall and Fischer), losing the playoff to Magnus Carlsen after drawing the match 6–6 (2018).


Here are some games from the amazing GM.


GM Fabiano Caruana-GM Emanuel Berg
Dresden Ol.
Germany, Nov. 20 2008
[The first sacrifice is easy to find, the immediate second one is not so easy. Both require a belief that one’s attack must be successful.]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.Qe2 O-O 10.O-O b6 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Rad1


[12.Bxf6 leads only to a draw. Kleeschaetzky-M. Mueller, Bundesliga, Oberliga Nord, Germany, 2001 continued with 12…gxf6 13.Bxh7+ Kxh7 14.Qe4+ f5 15.Qh4+ Kg7 16.Qg5+ Kh7 17.Qh5+ Kg7 18.Qg5+ Kh7 1/2-1/2.]


12…Qc7 13.Ne5 Rfd8 14.Kh1! (More common is 14.Rfe1. The text move allows the rook to use the f-file.) 14…Be7 15.Rde1 h6 16.Bh4 Nd5 17.Bg3 Bd6 18.Qe4 Nf6 19.Qh4 Nd7?!


20.Nxf7! Kxf7 21.Rxe6!! Nc5 22.Rxd6 Rxd6 23.Qf4+ Ke7 24.Re1+ Kd7 (Stronger is 24…Ne6. Now White wins by a series of pins.) 25.Bb5+ Bc6 26.Qf5+ Ne6 27.Bxd6 Qxd6 28.Rxe6 (And now if 28…Qd1+, 29.Re1+ wins.) 1-0


GM Fabiano Caruna (2652)-GM Konstantin Landa (2664)
Torneo di Capodanno
Reggio Emilia, Italy, June 1 2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Be6 9.O-O-O Qd7 (9…O-O is an alternative but Black doesn’t have to commit just yet.) 10.Kb1 (Caruna likes to tuck his king in for safety before doing anything aggressive.) 10…Bf6 11.h4 (Just in case Black decides castles on that side.) 11…h6?! (The h6-pawn is now a potential weakness and target.) 12.Nd4! Nxd4 (If Black castles on the queenside, then White has the annoying 13.Bb5. Black has problems castling on either side!) 13.Bxd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 O-O (Finally, Black castles. But he still has the same weaknesses.) 15.Rg1! (Obvious and good!) 15…Rae8 16.g4 (The purpose of 15.Rg1.) 16…Qc6 17.Bg2 Qa6 18.b3 Bd7 19.g5 h5 (A good defensive move. But does Black want to keep defending?) 20.g6! Re7 21.Bd5 Be6 22.Rde1 c5 (Black doesn’t have resources to defend adequately.) 23.Qd1 Rfe8 24.Qxh5 fxg6


25.Rxe6 1-0 [Mating threats are breaking out. If 25…gxh5, then 26.Rxe7+ Kf8 (26…Kh8 27.Rxe8+ Kh7 28.Bg8+ Kh8 29.Bf7+ Kh7 30.Bg6+ Kh6 31.Rh8# ; 26…Kh7 27.Rgxg7+ Kh6 28.Rh7+ Kg6 29.Be4+ Kf6 30.Rhf7#) 27.Rf7+ Kg8 28.Rf5+ Re6 29.Bxe6+ Kh7 30.Rxh5#.]


GM F. Caruana-GM B. Gelfand
Zurich Chess Challenge
Switzerland, Mar. 1 2013
[Notes based on: Zura Javakhadze, en.chessbase.com/post/zurich-r6-caruana-wins-by-a-full-point-040313]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 (Again Catalan. It was the most played opening in this tournament.) 4…Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Bf4 b6 10.Rd1 Bb7 11.Ne5 (11.Nc3 is the main line.) 11…Nh5 12.Bd2 Nhf6 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Nc6 Bxc6 15.Qxc6


15…Qb8 [An interesting novelty! 15…Rc8 is the most played line. 16.Qb5 Nb8 17.e3 Ne8 18.Be1 Nd6 19.Qe2 Nc6 20.Nc3 Bf6 21.Rac1 Qd7 (1/2-1/2 Mchedlishvili,M (2651)-Alekseev,E (2683)/ Germany 2012/CBM 151 (35).


Since this game was played, Gelfand’s novelty has proven to be more ineffective.


GM Roman Ovetchkin (2529)-GM Grigoriy Oparin (2497)
Yekaterinburg, Russia, June 27 2013
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Bb7 10.Bf4 Nbd7 11.Ne5 Nh5 12.Bd2 Nhf6 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Nc6 Bxc6 15.Qxc6 Qb8 16.Qb5 a6 17.Qd3 b5 18.Be1 Nb6 19.e3 Rc8 20.Nc3 b4 21.Ne2 Nc4 22.Rab1 Qb6 23.f3 Rc7 24.Bf2 Rac8 25.g4 Qa5 26.Be1 Qb5 27.Rdc1 Qb6 28.b3 Na3 29.Rxc7 Rxc7 30.Rc1 Nb5 31.Qd2 Ne8 32.Rxc7 Qxc7 33.Qc1 Bd6 34.Qxc7 Nexc7 35.Bf1 f6 36.Nc1 Kf7 37.Bd3 g6 38.h4 a5 39.Ne2 e5 40.dxe5 Bxe5 41.f4 Bb2 42.f5 g5 43.hxg5 fxg5 44.Bg3 Bf6 45.Nd4 Nxd4 46.Bxc7 Nc6 47.Bb5 Bd8 48.Bg3 Ne7 49.Bd7 Kf6 50.Be8 Ng8 51.Kf2 Ke7 52.Bc6 Nf6 53.Kf3 h5 54.gxh5 Nxh5 55.Be5 Nf6 56.e4 dxe4+ 57.Bxe4 Bb6 58.Bc6 Bc5 59.Bc7 g4+ 60.Kg2 Bd6 61.Bxa5 Nh5 62.Be4 Nf6 63.Bc6 Nh5 64.Be4 Nf6 65.Bb7 Nh5 66.Bc8 Ng7 67.f6+ Kxf6 68.Bxg4 Nf5 69.Kf3 Ke5 70.Ke2 Nd4+ 71.Kd3 Kd5 72.Bb6 Bc5 73.Bd8 Bd6 74.Bh4 Kc5 75.Bf2 Be5 76.Be6 Bf6 77.Bg8 Bg7 78.Be3 Bf6 79.Bf7 Bg7 80.Bc4 Bf6 81.Ke4 Bg7 82.Bd5 Bf6 83.Bh6 Be7 84.Bc4 Nb5 85.Kd3 Nd4 86.Bc1 Nb5 87.Be3+ Kc6 88.Bf7 Nd6 89.Bh5 Bf6 90.Bc1 Be5 91.Bg4 Kb6 92.Bd7 Kc5 93.Be3+ Kd5 94.Bf2 Ne4 95.Be6+ Kxe6 96.Kxe4 Bc3 97.Bc5 Be1 98.Kd4 Kd7 99.Kc4 Kc6 100.Bxb4 Bf2 101.a3 Be3 102.Bc3 Bc1 103.a4 Ba3 104.Bb4 Bc1 105.Bc5 Bd2 106.Bd4 Ba5 107.Bc3 Bc7 108.b4 Kb7 109.b5 Bb6 110.a5 Bd8 111.a6+ Ka8 112.Kc5 Bc7 113.Kc6 Bd8 114.Be5 Bb6 115.Bd6 Ba7 116.Bc5




M. Muzychuk (2540)-Adam Kozak (2148)
Gibraltar Masters
Caleta, Jan. 1 27 2018
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 O-O 7.O-O Nbd7 8.Qc2 c6 9.Rd1 b6 10.Bf4 Bb7 11.Ne5 Nh5 12.Bd2 Nhf6 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Nc6 Bxc6 15.Qxc6 Qb8 16.Qb5 a6 17.Qd3 b5 18.Bf4 Bd6 19.Bxd6 Qxd6 20.Nd2 Nb6 21.e4 Qe7 22.e5 Nfd7 23.Rdc1 Rac8 24.a3 Nc4 25.Rc2 g6 26.f4 Ndb6 27.Nf3 Nd7 28.h4 Ncb6 29.Rf2 Rc7 30.Bh3 Rfc8 31.Kg2 Rc1 32.Rxc1 Rxc1 33.g4 f5 34.exf6 Nxf6 35.Ng5 Ne4 36.Nxe4 dxe4 37.Qxe4 Qd7 38.f5 exf5 39.gxf5 Qc6 40.Qxc6 Rxc6 41.Kf3 Kf7 42.Ke4 Ke7 43.fxg6 hxg6 44.Ke5 Rc1 45.Bg2 Nd7+ 46.Kf4 Rd1 47.Re2+ Kf6 48.Ke4 Nb6 49.b3 Ke7 50.Re3 a5 51.Rc3 Re1+ 52.Kf4 Nd7 53.Rc7 Kd6 54.Rc6+ Ke7 55.Rxg6 Rd1 56.d5 Nf8 57.Rb6 Rd4+ 58.Be4 Nd7 59.Re6+ Kf7 60.Ke3 Rd1 61.Ke2 Rd4 62.h5 Nc5 63.Bg6+ Kg7 64.Rc6 Nxb3 65.h6+ 1-0.]


16.Qc2 b5 17.Qd3 b4 18.Be1 Qb6 19.Nd2 (Fabiano’s reaction on Gelfand’s novelty was probably the most natural.) 19..a5 20.Rac1 Rac8 21.e3 e5 (It looks like Boris missed his opponent’s next move. 21…Rfd8 looks more solid. But after 22.Bf1 White is better, due to the bishop pair.) 22.Bh3 Rc7 (22…e4 23.Qb3 +/=. In the late endgame Black’s central pawns might become a target of attack, this gives White very pleasant prospects.) 23.Bxd7 Nxd7 24.dxe5 Nxe5 (Gelfand activated his pieces but in my opinion, it hardly compensates a pawn.) 25.Qxd5 Rfc8 26.Nb3 Nc4 27.Rd4 Qa6 28.Rf4 Bf6 29.Qd3 Qe6 30.Re4 Qd6 31.Re8+! (Caruana simplifies the position in a nice tactical way and remains with an extra pawn.) 31…Rxe8 32.Qxd6 Nxd6 33.Rxc7 a4 34.Nc5 b3 35.axb3 axb3 36.Rc6 Bxb2 37.Nxb3 (37.Rxd6?! Ba3 38.Rb6 Bxc5 39.Rxb3. Knights on the board are obviously favorable for White.) 37…Ne4 38.Kg2 h5 39.f3 Ng5 40.Bf2 (The second time control has arrived and the Italian shows very high endgame technique.) 40…g6 41.Nc5 Ne6 42.Ne4 Bg7 43.Rb6 Ra8 44.h3 Ra2 45.f4 Ra5 46.Kf3 g5 47.Rb8+ Kh7 48.Nd6 f5 49.Rb6 g4+ 50.hxg4 fxg4+ (50…hxg4+ was the best try for survival.) 51.Kg2 Nc5 52.Nb7 (White has two connected pawns, so knights are no longer necessary on the board.) 52…Nxb7 53.Rxb7 Ra4 54.Rb6 Re4 55.Kf1 h4? (White is very close to victory but this move makes his task much easier.) 56.gxh4 g3 57.Bg1! Bh6 58.Kg2 (A very convincing victory by the Italian prodigy!) 1-0


GM Magnus Carlsen-GM Fabiano Caruana
World Ch., Game #11
London, Nov. 24 2018
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.O-O-O Nf6 10.Bd3 c5 11.Rhe1 Be6 12.Kb1 Qa5 (12…d5!?) 13.c4 Qxd2 14.Bxd2 h6 15.Nh4 Rfe8 16.Ng6 Ng4 17.Nxe7+ Rxe7 18.Re2 Ne5 19.Bf4 Nxd3 20.Rxd3 Rd7 21.Rxd6 Rxd6 22.Bxd6 Rd8 23.Rd2 Bxc4 24.Kc1 b6 25.Bf4 Rxd2 26.Kxd2 a6 27.a3 Kf8 28.Bc7 b5 29.Bd6+ Ke8 30.Bxc5 h5 31.Ke3 Kd7 32.Kd4 g6 33.g3 Be2 34.Bf8 Kc6 35.b3 Bd1 36.Kd3 Bg4 37.c4 Be6 38.Kd4 bxc4 39.bxc4 Bg4 40.c5 Be6 41.Bh6 Bd5 42.Be3 Be6 43.Ke5 Bd5 44.Kf4 Be6 45.Kg5 Bd5 46.g4 hxg4 47.Kxg4 Ba2 48.Kg5 Bb3 49.Kf6 Ba2 50.h4 Bb3 51.f4 Ba2 52.Ke7 Bb3 53.Kf6 Ba2 54.f5 Bb1 55.Bf2 Bc2 1/2-1/2


GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave-GM Fabiano Caruana X25
Blitz Game
Chessbrah May Invitational
Chess.com, May 2020
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Qc2 a5 6.Nd5 d6 7.a3 Bc5 8.Be2 Be6 9.Nxf6+ Qxf6 10.b3 O-O 11.Bb2 Ba7 12.Rd1 Bf5 13.d3 Qe7 14.O-O Bg6 15.Qd2 Rad8 16.Rfe1 d5 17.cxd5 Rxd5 18.Qc3 Rfd8 19.Rd2 Rc5! -+ 0-1

Happy Birthday Andy!!

Today is Andy Soltis’ birthday!



Born on May 28, 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, his contributions to chess has been enormous.


For those of you might have been hiding under a rock since 1980, he’s a prolific author, frequent contributor to Chess Life, and even made into the world’s elite of chess, earning his IM title in 1974 followed by a GM title in 1980.

Let’s go over some of his games first.



IM Andrew Soltis-GM Miguel A Quinteros
Cleveland, May 5 1975
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a4 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.f4 Qc7 9.O-O Nc6 10.Be3
(Both White and Black have solid positions. But White has more space which translates into greater coordination, mobility and freedom for his pieces. That is more than enough for White to have the advantage.) 10…Bd7 11.Qe1 O-O 12.Qg3 Rab8 13.Kh1 Kh8 14.Bf3 g6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.e5 Ne8 17.Ne4 d5 18.Ng5 Rxb2 19.Qh4 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 Ng7 21.Bc5 Re8 22.Be7 Kg8 23.Bf6 Reb8 24.Bg4 Ne8 25.Be7 Qc8 26.Ra3 Rb1 27.Bd1 a5 28.Qh6 Ng7 29.Rh3! 1-0



Edward Westing-GM Andrew Soltis
Bermuda, Feb. 1 2002
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 c5 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.e5 Nc6 7.h3

[White has also tried :

7.Be2 Nh6 8.O-O O-O 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 e6 12.Bg4 Qb6 13.Be3 Qxb2 14.Na4 Qa3 15.Nc5 b6 16.Nd7 Rfd8 17.Nf6+ Bxf6 18.exf6 Nf5 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.g4 Qd6 21.Qd2 fxg4 22.hxg4 Qxf6 23.Bg5 Qf3 24.Bxd8 Qxg4+ 25.Kh2 Rxd8 0-1 [Svoboda-Dobrovolsky (2387), Monravia Team Ch., 2000]


7.Nbd2 Nc6 8.h3 Bf5 9.Bb5 Qb6 10.Qa4 Bd7 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.Qa3 Bb5 13.Nb3 Qc6 14.Qc5 Qd7 15.Bd2 b6 16.Qc2 Rc8 17.Qd1 f6 18.Rc1 Kf7 19.Rxc8 Qxc8 20.Qc1 Qf5 21.Kd1 Nh6 22.Re1 Rc8 23.Bc3 Kg8 24.Qe3 Nf7 25.e6 Nd8 26.Kd2 Rc6 27.g4 Qxe6 28.Qf4 Qd7 29.h4 Re6 30.Re3 Rxe3 31.fxe3 Ne6 32.Qg3 Qc7 33.Qg2 Qc4 34.Nc1 Nd8 35.b3 Qc6 36.a4 Ba6 37.Na2 Bc8 38.Nb4 Qd6 39.Nd3 a5 40.g5 Bf5 41.Nfe1 Nf7 42.Nf4 fxg5 43.hxg5 e6 0-1 [Sequera (2378)-Macieja (2615), Ann Open, Curacao, Nov. 2 2002]


7…Nh6 8.Bb5 O-O 9.O-O Nf5 10.Nc3 Bd7 11.Nxd5 Nxe5! 12.dxe5 [Or 12.Bxd7 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Qxd7 14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Nc3 Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bxd4 17.Rad1 Qc6 18.Qxc6 bxc6 19.Rfe1 e5 20.Rc1 (-1.39 Stockfish)] 12…dxe5 Bxb5 13.Re1 Bc6 14.Nb4 Qxd1 15.Rxd1 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Bxe5 -+ 17.Rd5 Bd6 18.Bd2 Rfd8 19.Bc3 a5 20.Rxd6 Rxd6 21.Nc2 b6 22.Kg2 Rad8 23.Ne3 Nxe3+ 24.fxe3 Rd1 25.Rxd1 Rxd1 26.Kf2 f6 27.f4 Kf7 28.Kf3 Ke6 29.Bd4 b5 30.a3 Rf1+ 31.Kg2 Rb1 32.Kf3 Kd5 33.Bc3 a4! 0-1 (White can’t stop the Black king from entering on the queenside.)



Soltis didn’t confine himself to merely playing the game. An important variation in the Sicilian Dragon was named after him.


Let’s review the opening moves.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 (The main line in the Dragon. White usually castles queenside and attempts to storm Black’s castled kingside with his pawns and follow up with pieces. Sacrifices are common threats for both sides.) 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 (White has played this move to maintain and continue his threats of opening Black’s kingside. Experience has shown that Black usually ends up on the losing side if he allows White’s h-pawn to continue his advancement. So…) 12…h5!?



(Now White’s h-pawn is stopped. Does this mean Black is going to win? Not necessarily. Does it mean White is going to win? Not necessarily either. But it does mean White has to look for other way to infiltrate the kingside.)


Here is the inauguration of this variation.

Reggio Emilia
Italy, Jan. 1 1971
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.h4 h5 12.O-O-O Ne5 13.Bg5 Nh7 14.Bh6 Bxh6 15.Qxh6 Rxc3 16.bxc3 Qa5 17.Kb1 Qxc3 18.Qd2 Qc5 19.Ne2 a5 20.Qd4 Qc7 21.Nc3 Nf6 22.a4 Rc8 23.Kb2 Be6 24.Rhe1 Kg7 25.f4 Nc6 26.Qd2 Nb4 27.Re3 Qb6 28.Qd4 Rc5 29.e5 dxe5 30.fxe5 Ng4 0-1


A good way to start off the New Year!


Here are two other games worthy of study.

S. Hwemp (2280)-K.D. Mueller (2445)
ICCF, 6/7 Cup, ½ Finals, 1990/1
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nde2 b5 16.Bh6 b4 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.exd5 Qa5 20.b3 Rc5 21.Qd4+ Kh7 22.g4



22…Rxc2! 23.Nc1? (23.Kxc2 Qxa2+ 24.Kd3 Bb5+ 25.Ke4 Qc2+ 26.Kf4 e5+ 27.dxe6 fxe6+) 23…Rfc8 24.Rhe1? Qa3 0-1


IM Alexander Khalifman (2530)-Stanislav Savchenko (2480)
Simferopol, Ukraine, 1988
[Don’t fret about the titles. Both players earned their GM titles a few years later; Khalifman in 1990 and Savchenko in 1993.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Ne5 11.Bb3 h5 12.O-O-O Rc8 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Rxc3 15.bxc3 Qc7 16.Kb1 Rc8 17.g4 a5 18.gxh5 a4 19.Bd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Qxc3 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.Rhg1 Bf5 23.Nxf5 Qxc2+



(A situation in which neither Black nor White can win. But they both can lose. A draw is best for both players.) 1/2-1/2


GM Soltis also promoted another, lesser-known, variation, in the Sicilian. Entitled the “Chameleon Sicilian” it runs as:



1.e4 c5 2.Ne2!?


The point being it is impossible for Black to know what White is attempting to do. White can play the Closed Sicilian with 3.d3, 4.g3 and 5.Bg2. Or he can open the game up with: .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4 at any time. It’s especially troublesome for Dragon addicts.










Andy Soltis has written a weekly chess column for the New York Post since 1972 and a monthly column (“Chess to Enjoy”) for Chess Life since 1979.





In addition to his weekly and monthly columns, he has written several books including; The Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky (1973), Pawn Structure Chess (1976), Chess to Enjoy (1978), Karl Marx Plays Chess : And Other Reports on the World’s Oldest Game (1991), Soviet Chess 1917–1991 (1999), Bobby Fischer Rediscovered (2003), and many others.




His books are a mixture of games, analysis, and fresh observations on the opening and other aspects of play. His column, “Chess to Enjoy”, covers historical viewpoints, human interest stories, computer analysis (and sometimes their failings), and literary perspectives. He is known to use humor to illustrate important points.




For his chess writings, he was named “Chess Journalist of the Year” in 1988 and 2002 by the Chess Journalists of America.





Happy Birthday Andy Soltis!!

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