Game Collecting

Most players create a collection of full and partial games for their own pleasure or study.

Themes include favorite games of a famous player, beloved openings, offbeat or unusual mating patterns, miniatures, tactical sacrifices, positional considerations, pawn endings, rook endings, and even games they have played.

Players have been collecting games at least since Greco, who published his games sometime after 1500. He covered openings and spectacular wins in the opening, and claimed to have played all the games in his collection (but the modern opinion is that he simply copied at least some of the games from other collections and made an anthology of them).

Players have made their collections from index cards. This works well if you are deciding whether a new move in an opening is worth analyzing. You write down a game with the new move on an index card. Repeat. And keep going.

When you have collected enough index cards with the new move, you can place them on a table, organize them, and then play over the games on the cards. This is a flexible method as you can easily discard a game and substitute another card that you think will be a better study.

When done, organize the cards by any criteria you want, and then attach a rubber band around them and they are ready to use again.

Index cards are also good if you want to collect all the games of a players. When a new game is played, all you have to do is copy the newest game on a card and you are ready to add it to your collection. It also easy find out what he is most likely to do when he has to face your pet Najdorf variation.

Chess players have also created scrapbooks full of interesting and helpful games, problems, analyses, and the like from newspapers, magazines, and even old books.

This makes such collections much easier to travel and can hold more information than index cards.

For those players who can write also small, small note pads have been used to write down games and the occasional study or problem. Usually, you would meet them at tournaments, and they would be collecting games for publication. But this method was (and is) not meant to be long-lasting. Instead, the reporter, editor, or fellow chess player would transfer the game and notes to a more permanent medium.

But with the almighty laptop (and the Internet), it is now far easier to create a collection, make it a more-or-less a continuing collection and update it at one’s leisure.

The most common method of game collection in the Internet age is to use a PGN generator. PGN is short for Portable Game Notation, it is what the computer uses to display the moves of a game, and it looks like this:

[Event “?”]
[Site “Kiev”]
[Date “1954.??.??”]
[White “Kutsenok”]
[Black “Akimov”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “C35”]
[PlyCount “30”]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Nf6 $1 5.e5 Ng4 6.O-O d5 7.Bb3 $2 Nc6 8.d4 g5 9.h3 $2 h5 $1 10.hxg4 hxg4 11.Nh2 g3 12.Ng4 Rh4 13.Nf6+ Bxf6 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Re1+ Kf8 0-1 {Black kingside pawns threaten to advance.}

A few notes here. The computer will translate a “$1” as an “!” and a “$2”as a “?”. Any notes in a { } will allow you to read the note when you play over the game on a computer, and a ply is exactly ½ of a move. Hence, this game is 15 moves, and the ply is 30. The game is from Clarke’s 100 Soviet Miniatures.

The big drawback of this method is that you need a computer to play, study, or simply enjoy the game. And in the case of electrical power going down, you can be out of luck.

With the rise of on-line publishing, players can also upload and print books of their favorite games, players, openings, and ideas on the game. This can be expensive (on-line printers need to make their profit), but it is rather easy to add new games and ideas, and even change one’s own annotations as fast as you can type.

Which is an important skill when writing anything on the Internet, social sites, and even a blog.

And now a game from Tal’s Tactical Treatment of an opponent. Maybe this is something you can add to your collection.

GM Tal-Kennedy
World Student Ch.
Varna, 1958

[Minev, “Digging into the Most Notorious Bulletin”, Inside Chess, Sept. 5, 1994]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Bd3 (Tal’s favorite continuation throughout his career and one that theory still gives as “unclear”.) 8…Nbc6?! (The immediate 8…Qa5 9.Ne2 is critical … After the text, White has no problems with his e5-pawn.) 9.Nf3 Bd7 (If now 9…Qa5, then 10.O-O.) 10.cxd4 Qc7 11.O-O O-O-O 12.a4 f5 13.Qxg7 h5 14.Qg5 Rdg8 15.Qd2 Na5 16.Ba3 Nec6 17.Bd6 Qd8 18.Qc3 Be8 19.Rab1 Rg7 20.Bb4 h4 21.Bxa5 Qxa5 22.Qxa5 Nxa5 23.Rfe1 h3 24.g3 Nc4 25.Bxc4 dxc4 26.d5! f4 27.Re4! exd5 28.Rxf4 Bxa4 29.Nd4 Re7 30.Rf5 Kc7 31.f4 Rd8 32.Rf6 Bd7 33.Rd6! b5 34.Rxd5 a6 35.f5 Rf8 36.Rf1 Bc8 37.f6 Rd7? 38.Ne6+ 1-0

When Two is Not Enough

Every player values his queen. And there is little wonder why. It is the most powerful piece of the game and with it, sometimes by itself, quickly mate the opposition. Take a look at Scholar’s Mate (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4 4.Qxf7#), Fool’s Mate (1.f4 e5 2.g4 Qh4#), even a trap in the Petrov (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.Nc6+).

It stands to reason that a player would welcome another queen joining his ranks. Even more so if the opponent fails to do the same. Imagine the possibilities!

But chess is not so simple. A second queen does not automatically confer or guarantee victory.

Let’s look at some opening examples.

England 1981
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.h3 Bh5 7.Nc3 a6 8.O-O Nbd7 9.e4 e5 10.g4 exd4 11.gxh5 dxc3 12.e5 cxb2 13.exf6 bxa1=Q 14.Bxf7+! Kxf7 15.Qd5+ Ke8 16.f7+ Ke7 17.Re1+ Ne5 18.Bg5mate 1-0

Sprenger (2199)-Danner (2369)
Austrian Ch., 2002
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nc6 8.e5 h6 9.Bh4 Nxd4 10.exf6 Nf5 11.fxg7 Qxh4+ 12.g3 Nxg3

13.gxh8=Q Ne4+ 14.Ke2 Qf2+ 15.Kd3 Nc5+ 16.Kc4 b5+ 17.Nxb5 axb5+ 18.Kc3 b4+ 19.Kc4 d5+ 20.Kb5 Bd7+ 0-1

So, what happened? Well, in both cases, the promoted queen finds herself in a corner on the board. A corner, as you probably know, is a square in which the queen has less moves, less mobility, and less power than existing on the side or in the center of the board.

And since the promotion occurred in the opening, there are many pieces on the board that block or hinders the movement of the newly born queen.

The side with the extra queen usually has to spend an extra tempo or two to get the brand-new queen into play.

All of which subtracts from usually positive aspect of an additional queen.

Let’s take a look at two other games.

The first shows a White king under tremendous pressure from Black’s knight, passed pawn, and sole queen. It also shows how fond some players have for their multiple queens, and an unwillingness to give one of them up.

Vienna, 1898
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2!?
(Chigorin is credited with coming up with this move. Its main goal is to harass Black’s development as the queen on e2 can easily be put into play on either side of the board.) 2…b6 (2…c5 is an alternate move.) 3.Nc3 Bb7 4.Nh3 Nc6 5.d3 g6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Qd2 Bxg5 8.Nxg5 Qe7 9.f4 O-O-O 10.O-O-O f6 11.Nf3 Nh6 12.d4 d5 13.e5 f5 14.Bb5 a6 15.Be2 Nf7 16.h3 h5 17.Rhg1 Rdg8 18.g3 Kb8 19.Kb1 Ka7 20.Ka1 Nb8 21.Rb1 Nd7 22.b4 b5 23.a4 c6 24.Qc1 Ra8 25.a5 Rag8 26.Na2 g5 27.Qe3 Nf8 28.Nc1 h4 29.gxh4 gxf4 30.Qf2 Rxg1 31.Qxg1 Rh6 32.Nd3 Ng6 33.h5 Nh4 34.Nxh4 Qxh4 35.Qg7 f3 36.Bxf3 Qxd4+ 37.Rb2 Nd6 38.Qxh6 Nc4 39.Qf4 Qc3 40.h6 c5 41.h7 cxb4 42.h8=Q b3! (Counterplay!) 43.Qf8 bxc2 44.Qc5+ Ka8

45.Qfd4?? [Chigorin himself analyzed his blunder. White wins after 45.Qfxc4! bxc4 (45…dxc4 46.Qc8+) 46.Qb4 Qxb4 47.Rxb4 cxd3 48.Kb2. 45.Qc1 +-.] 45…Qxa5+ 0-1

The second one demonstrates how a queen in the corner can still be more of a spectator on the corner than a contributing member, even in an endgame. And how an Initiative can trump the extra material.

WFM Natalya Tsodikova (2196)-FM Jon Jacobs (2200)
Mechanics Institute vs. Marshall match, Oct. 15 2019
[GM Nick de Firmian. “Mechanics’ Versus Marshall”, CL, Jan. 2020]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.Bg2 d5 6.0-0 c5 7.c4 d4 8.b4 Nc6 9.bxc5 e5 10.d3 Nd7 11.Nfd2 Nxc5 12.Ba3 Qa5 13.Ne4 Nxe4!? (An interesting Exchange sacrifice for the initiative. Black has active pieces for the material and dark square play.) 14.Bxf8 Bxf8?! (Even stronger was 14….Nxf2! 15.Rxf2 Bxf8. The weakness of e3 would add to Black’s compensation for the Exchange.) 15.Bxe4 Qc7 16.Nd2 a5 17.Bg2 f5 18.a3 a4 19.Qc2 Bc5 20.Rfb1 Qe7 21.Qb2 Ra6 22.Qc1 Kg7 23.Rb5 Na7 24.Rb2 Nc6 25.Raa2 g5 26.Rb1 Kg6 27.Rb5 Na7 28.Rbb2 Nc6 29.g4?! (White goes for the win! This was a hard-fought match and the players go all out, yet the position now becomes very sharp.) 29….Bxa3 30.gxf5+ (Bad is 30.Rxa3 Qxa3 since 31.Rb6 is not check.) 30….Bxf5 31.Ne4? Bxb2 32.Qxb2 Qb4 33.Qc1 h6 34.Ng3 a3 35.Nxf5 Kxf5 36.Be4+ Kf6 (Black is winning on the queenside, but his king is unsafe on the opposite wing. Natalya quickly switches fronts.) 37.Qf1! Kg7 38.Qh3 Ne7 39.Qd7 Kf6 40.Qxb7 Rb6?! (Here Jon misses his best chance. He should play for the endgame where his king is safe. 40….Qxb7! 41.Bxb7 Rb6 42.Be4 Rb3 is difficult for White, e.g. 43.Kf1 Ke6 44.Ke1 Kd6 45.Kd2 Kc5 46.Kc2 Kb4 with full control of the board.) 41.Qa8!? Qb1+ 42.Kg2 Qxa2 43.Qf8+ Ke6 44.Qxh6+ Kd7 45.Qxb6 Qb2 46.Qa7+ Ke8 47.Qa4+ Kf8 48.Qd7?! (Best was 48.Qa8+ Kf7 49.Qa7 a2 50.Bd5+ Kf6 51.Qa6+ Kg7 52.Qa7 Kf8 53.Qa8+ Kg7 54.Qa7 forcing the draw.) 48….a2 49.Bd5 Nxd5 (Black still has winning chances after 49….Qb6.) 50.cxd5 a1=Q

51.Qd8+ Kf7 52.Qd7+ Kf6 53.Qe6+ Kg7 54.Qe7+ Kg6 55.Qe6+ Kg7 56.Qe7+ Kg6 57.Qe6+ Kh5 58.Qh3+ Kg6 (Black is a whole queen up, but his king cannot escape the checks.) 59.Qe6+ 1/2-1/2

A TD story

I believe it was 1987 when this instance occurred. My assignment was to help out in any was I can at a local scholastic chess tournament. In reality, and more truthfully, I was the guy whose job it was to solve any disputes.

Now a player who wins a game earns a grand total of 1 point. A player who loses a game gets 0 points. And if a game ends in a tie (usually called a “draw” in chess lexicon), then each player receives ½ of a point. This background information comes into play a bit later.

The winner of the tournament is the one who earns the most points at the end of the tournament. This sounds simple, and it usually is.

If the there is a tie (draw) between players at the end of the tournament then we had two tiebreak systems at our disposal.

The first is to look at all the players who are tied and then check if the players had played each other. If so, then we look at who won. If Player A beat Player B in their individual game, then we would conclude that Player A won the tournament. Simple, and again, usually not a problem.

If a second tiebreak is needed, then we would see would check which player faced the strongest opposition. And how does one figure out who the strongest opposition?

Well, we add up all the points of every opponent each player faced. This takes time. And there is pressure not to make a mistake, sometimes from the players, but mostly from concerned parents who naturally want their child to win or have a later appointment in the day. And this was years before computers were commonplace. In other words, we did it by hand.

We now introduce our two scholastic players who made played in this tournament, ‘J’ and ‘R’. ‘J’ was a fairly good player and one could not entirely dismiss him from winning this tournament outright. However, ‘R’ was in a league of his own. He was definitely the favorite but when it came to King safety, well, that was a weakness. It should be pointed out that this condition is almost universal among scholastic players. But it was more noticeable in ‘R’ ’s case.

Anyway, there was almost no problems with the tournament. The only problem I had to face was answering a child’s question on where the restroom was located.

The tournament ended a little sooner than expected. And as expected, ‘R’ won. Or did he?

We were getting ready to announce the winner, hand out the trophies, and thank everyone for coming.

But ‘J’ came to the TD table and said that he won the tournament and not ‘R’. I asked him for more information. Was it possible that the Tournament Director team made a mistake? As far as I knew we never made a mistake before. But I knew we, being human and all that, could have made one.

So, the team and I went to a back room to hear him out.

He claimed, “My tie-breaks were better than ‘R’. So, I won the tournament!” I told someone to bring the out the pairing cards. Our first check was to see if ‘J’ played ‘R’ and what was the result. It turned out that these two didn’t play each other in the tournament. I remember remarking, “Well, that was easy.” I got a few amused smiles. We had to do the hard work after all. This was the first time we had to work this out. However, things progressed rapidly once we figured out how to do it. I also had hunch or maybe had a sudden recollection, and as the tabulations were being completed, I checked out my hunch.

Once we crunched all the numbers, I put away my smile and told the young student, “You are correct. You did face the stronger opposition.” He smiled. Then I continued, “But ‘R’ has more game points that you. You lost on the first tie-beak, he beat you 6 points to 5 1/2 points.”

My smile came back to comfort him. But he wasn’t upset or even embarrassed. He just took it as a matter of course. I don’t know if he was playing a game with me or the staff. I do not know if he had ever won with this tactic before. My guess is that he had attempted this act in a previous tournament, and this was best reply he ever had.

Excel to help!

While I like to write about chess I sometimes run into problems. The biggest is that there are so few reference books on chess.

For example, there are times when I want to know a famous player’s birthday. Maybe wish them a happy birthday. Or when did GM Mike Matthew Michael Mateson earn his GM title? Just what is ratio of men to women with a Master title?

So, I created my own reference material. Better yet, since they are computer files stored on my laptop (and other places) I can simply cut and paste what I want into whatever I write. This is simple and and even necessary should the Internet goes down in my area.

Attached here is an PDF copy of an Excel file that I use and update often. Feel free to use for your own personal use.


Game Submission

Earlier this week I announced that International Chess Day was July 20th and I was requesting if any readers wanted a game to be published on this blog. The following is a submission that I am happy to post.

“Lucio Campiani”-MACBOOK PRO, Level 7
Italy, 2021
1.Nc3 d5 2.e3

[Seemingly heading towards a Colle. White can also try 2.e4, which is a gambit that deserves to be played more often. Here are two games:

New York, 1956
1.Nc3 (Dunst did much to popularize this opening. In fact, some references actually label 1.Nc3 the Dunst Opening.) d5 2.e4 d4 3.Nce2 c5 4.Ng3 g6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.d3 Bg7 7.f4 Nf6 8.Nf3 a6 9.a4 Na5 10.Ba2 O-O 11.O-O Nc6 12.h3 b6 13.Bd2 Bb7 14.Bc4 Na7 15.f5 b5 16.Ba2 Nd7 17.fxg6 hxg6 18.Ng5 Bf6 19.Qg4 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 e6 21.Qh6 Qc7 22.Bf4 Qd8 23.Bg5 Qc7 24.Rf6 Qe5 25.Bxe6 1-0

T.D. Harding-N.N.
Simul, n.d.
1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 d4 3.Nd5 f5 4.Bc4 fxe4 5.Qh5+ g6 6.Qe5 c6 7.Nc7+ Kd7 8.Be6mate 1-0.]

3…Nf6 3.Bb5+ c6 4.e4 (An interesting and original gambit. White should not be able to get away with it, but trying out new ideas and themes ultimately enriches the game and makes the adventurous player a better one.) 4…cxb5 5.Nxb5 Nxe4 6.Qe2 a6 7.Nd4 e5 8.Ndf3 Bc5 9.Nh4 Nxf2?

[Black doesn’t have to take the pawn at this time. The attack on f2 is not going away and Black can get better play after 9…Qxh4 or even 9…O-O.

It has been claimed that chess computers can attack but can never defend. And that a computer’s greed is often its downfall. These two allegations were more true back in the 1980s, but we still have examples of these memes. Like this game.]

10.d4 Bxd4 11.Be3 Nxh1 12.O-O-O (White can’t play 12.Bxd4? due to 12…Qxh4+ and 13…Qxd4. Black’s overwhelming material advantage then become obvious and unanswerable.) 12…Bxe3+ 13.Qxe3 Qxh4 14.Rxd5 (14.Qxe5+ is probably better and is definitely better after 14….Qe7? 15.Qxg7! Rf8? 16.Nf3! with the idea of 17.Re1! +-.) 14…O-O 15.Qxe5 Qf2 16.b3 Qxg1+? (Despite winning the knight with a check, this move is an error. Black’s queen finds herself out of play and White’s rook and queen instantly become more active and Black falls behind in development. He should consolidate with 16…Be6 and 17…Nc6.) 17.Kb2 Qxg2 18.Rd8 Rxd8? (Again, greed negatively affects Black’s position. Better is 18…Be6! and his position actually improves.) 19.Qe7 Nc6 20.h4 Rd4?? 21.Qe8mate 1-0

And don’t worry if you could not submit your game due to natural disasters, political upheavals, viruses, or alien abductions. You can still submit things to this blog.

If you have a game you want to be seen here, or have a question, or a request, just email them to


This is Black.

International Chess Day

International Chess Day is July 20th. You did know that, didn’t you!?

I know some of you may have some chess games you want to share.

So, I am making an offer to you.

If you have a game, played by you, or someone else, that you want to share with the rest of the world, please send them here or to my chess email address. I will post games that I think other players may find interesting, inspiring, or maybe just plain awesome.

Send your games in text, in pgn, in Word, in AN or DN.

Include the names of the opponents, the location, and the event (such as Neighborhood Championship, correspondence game, etc.) and any other notes you want to share.

Thank you!


A Well-Annotated Game

Due to lack of time, and that mainly due to lack of non-essential items like food and sleep, I can only supply a well-annotated game and the endgame is a challenging and fun one.

The opening is an English and here it is:

GM Jonathan Speelman-GM Yasser Seirawan
Candidates Match, Game #3
St. John, Canada, 1988
[John Nunn, “Candidates’ Matches”, BCM March 1988]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.a3 Bxc3 6.Qxc3 b6 7.g3 (An innocuous choice. The most dangerous line is 7.b3, with e3 and Be2 to follow.) 7…Bb7 8.Bg2 d5 9.cxd5 exd5 (This could be an important novelty, since White cannot gain the advantage and could easily drift into an inferior position.) 10.O-O (10.d3 d4 11.Qc2 a5 12.Bg5 c5 reaches a position in which White’s backward e-pawn is the most important feature.) 10…Re8 11.Re1? [This is weak because f2 becomes a tactical weakness. 11.e3 is much better when 11…c5 12.d4 (12.b4 d4 is fine for Black) Nc6 13.dxe5 Ne4 14.Qc2 bxc5 is similar to the game, except White need not to worry about f2.] 11…c5 12.d4 (12.d3 d4 with a backward pawn and 12.b4 d4 followed by by 13…d3 are good for Black.) 12…Ne4 13.Qc2 Nc6 14.dxc5 bxc5 15.b3 Qb6?! [Black attempts to exploit 11.Re1? by preventing 16.Bb2 on account of 16…c4 , but a more direct method would have been 15…Nd4! 16.Nxd4 (16.Qd3 Qf6 is no better.) 16…cxd4 17.Bb2 Qf6 followed by …Rac8 and …Nc3 with a clear advantage for Black.] 16.e3 Rab8 17.Rb1

[Not a serious error, but the start of a dubious plan. The simplest line was 17.Nd2!

(1) 17…Ne5 18.Bb2 Nxd2 19.Qxd2 d4 (19…Qxb3 20.Bxe5 Rxe5 21.Rab1 followed by Bxd5 with an edge for White) 20.exd4 Bxg2 21.dxe5 Ba8 22.Re3 with an unclear position.

(2) 17…Ba8 18.Bxe4! (The point that Spleeman had missed; it looks wrong to give up the white-square bishop, but Black has no way of exploiting the weakened kingside.)]

17…Ba8 18.Bd2? [But now White goes really wrong. This was the last chance to play 18.Nd2! and after 18…Ne5 (18…Qa5 19.Bxe4! dxe4 20.Bb2 is similar to line 1 above) 19.Bb2 Nxd2 20.Qxd2 Qxb3 21.Bxe5 Qxb1 22.Bxb8 Qxb8 23.Bxd5 with just an edge for Black.] 18…a5! (This leaves White with few constructive moves, while Black can still improve his position.) 19.Red1 d4 20.Re1 [Mission accomplished! 20.exd4 Nxd4 21.Nxd4 cxd4 (threat …d3) 22.Re1 Ng5! is very good for Black.] 20…Nxd2 21.Qxd2 a4?! (Tempting, but not the best. 21…c4 22.exd4 Rxe1+ 23.Qxe1 cxb3 24.d5 Na7 25.Ne5 is also far from clear, but Black should have prepared the simple line 21…dxe3 22.Rxe3 Rxe3 23.Qxe3 Nd4 when White’s tactics fail, for example 24.Ne5 Bxg2 25.Nd7 Qd8 26.Nxb8 Ba8 or 24.Re1 h6 25.Ne5 Bxg2 26.Nd7 Qd6 27.Nxb8 Bb7 and Black wins in both cases. Therefore, White would have to swap on d4, but this gives Black a slight advantage in the queen and rook ending.) 22.exd4 Rxe1+ 23.Qxe1? (This move justifies Black play. 23.Rxe1 axb3 24.Qe3 attacks e8 and c5, with a completely unclear position.) 23…axb3 (White is in a desperate situation and seizes the only available chance.) 24.d5 Nd4 25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Qe7? [26.Qb4! is the only move to stay in the game. 26…Qxb4 27.axb4 Rxb4 28.d6 Bxg2 29.d7 Rb8 30.Rxb3 Rd8 31.Kxg2 f5 (31…Kf8 32.Kf3 Rxd7 33.Ke4 regains the pawn) 32.Rb7 Kf7 33.Kf3 Ke6 34.Ke2 leads to a draw, so Black’s best line is 26…Qa7! 27.Qc4 Qxa3 28.Qxd4 b2 29.Be4 Qa2, although this only gives him a slightly better position.] 26…h6 (26…g6 is also reasonable, but there is no reason to criticise Black’s play yet.) 27.d6 Bxg2 28.Kxg2 Qc6+ 29.Kh3 [29.Kg1 looks bad, but after 29…b2 30.d7 the obvious methods do not work, for example 30…Qc1+ 31.Qe1 Qxe1+ 32.Rxe1 Kf8 (32…b1=Q 33.d8=Q+) 33.Kg2 d3 34.Kf3 d2 35.Rb1 Ke7 36.Ke2 and White defends. However, 30…Kh7! is very strong, with the deadly threat of 31…Qc1+ 32.Qe1 Qxe1+ 33.Rxe1 b1=Q 34.b1=Q and White’s promotion is not check.]

29…Rb7! (The best move since 29…Re8 achieves nothing after 30.Qc7!) 30.Rc1 Qf3 [The only way to stay in the game. 30…Qxc1 31.Qxb7! (not 31.Qe8+ Kh7 32.Qe4+ f5 33.Qxb7 b2 34.d7 b1=Q 35.Qxb1 Qxb1 36.d8=Q Qf1+ and Black wins) 31…Qf1+ 32.Kg4 Qe2+ 33.Kh3 Qe6+ 34.Kg2 Qxd6 35.Qxb3 is better for Black, but not a clear win, so Seirawan tries for more.] 31.Rc7 Rb8 32.d7 Kh7! (Seirawan plays very accurately, but these moves took a toll on his clock.) 33.Rc1 [Not 33.Qe8 Rxe8 34.dxe8=Q Qf5+ (34…b2? 35.Qb5) 35.Kg2 b2 36.Rxf7 Qd5+ and Black wins. The rook retreat looks like capitulation, but it sets Black the maximum problems.] 33…b2 34.Re1? [This should have lost instantly, but even the superior 34.Rf1 doesn’t last long after 34…Qf5+ 35.Kg2 Qd5+ 36.f3 (36.Kh3 d3 37.Qe8 Qe6+) 36…b1=Q 37.Rxb1 Rxb1 38.d8=Q Rb2+ 39.Kg1 Qxf3, mating.] 34…Qd5? (A poor move which makes the win much harder. 34…Qxf2! was the killer.) 35.Qe8 Qd6? (Black could have still won by 35…Qb5!, but by now the decision was going to be made by the clock.) 36.Rb1 Qb6?? (Seirawan plays for a win by inertia and as a result he loses. The best move was 36…Qe6+, heading for a draw.) 37.Qxf7 (Suddenly Black is in big trouble. His only chance is 37…Qg6, but the sudden reversal is too much for Black and he collapses.) 37…Qd8? 38.Qf5+ Kh8 39.Qe6 d3 40.Rxb2 1-0

The Chameleon

Back in the 1970s GM Soltis popularized the opening moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2. He called it the Chameleon Sicilian as White has option of going into the Closed Sicilian with d3 and g3, or of transposing into the main line of the open Sicilian after .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4.

The opening can quickly transpose into one of the many lines of the Open Sicilian.

IM Soltis-Williams
Marshall Futurity
New York, Dec. 1979
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2!?
(The game soon transposes into a version of the Dragon.) 3…e6 4.g3 g6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 a6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Qc7 9.f4 f6 10.Ne4 fxe5 11.fxe5 Qxe5 12.Bg2 Bh6 13.O-O d5 14.Qf3 Qd4+ 15.Kh1 dxe4 16.Qf7+ Kd8 17.c3 Qd7 18.Bg5+ Bxg5 19.Rad1 Bd2 20.Qf8+ Qe8 21.Qd6+ Bd7 22.Rf8 e3 23.Bxc6 Qxf8 24.Qxd7+ 1-0

Exhibition Match, 1997
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.Be3 O-O 9.Qe2
(Transposing into the Velimirović Attack.) 9…e5 10.Nf3 Na5 11.O-O-O Nxb3+ 12.axb3 Bd7 13.Bg5 Ne8 14.h4 Rc8 15.Nd5 f6 16.Bd2 f5 17.Ng5 h6 18.Qh5 Rc6 19.Qg6 hxg5 20.hxg5 Ra6 21.Kb1 Nf6 22.gxf6 Rxf6 23.Nxf6+ Bxf6 24.exf5 Bc6 25.Rh6 Be8 26.Qg4 g6 27.Rdh1 Qc8 28.Qh3 Kf8 29.Rh8+ Ke7 30.Rh7+ Bf7 31.fxg6 Qxh3 32.Rxf7+ Ke6 33.Rxh3 1-0

Gi Su I-Valentin Lyaskovsky
Russian Cup
Vladivostok, Sept. 18 2012
1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 Nc6 3.Nbc3 Nd4 4.f4 g6 5.g3!? Nf3+ 6.Kf2
(White’s move is forced and his king is safe for the moment. But he gets in the way of his kingside pieces; the ones that are supposed to protect him.) 6…Nd4 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.d3 h5 9.Be3 h4 10.e5 Nh6 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.Bxd4 d6 13.Nd5 dxe5 14.Bc3 Be6 15.Ne3 Qb6 16.Qf3? (This loses in a hurry. Better is 16.Ke2.) 16…h3! 17.Bf1 Bd5 18.Qxd5 Ng4+ 19.Kf3 Qxe3+ 20.Kxg4 Rh5 21.fxe5 f5+ 22.exf6 Rxd5 23.fxg7 O-O-O 24.Re1 Rg5+ 25.Kxh3 Qf3 26.Re4 Rh5+ 0-1

One independent line, which may look weak at first, is 3.Nge2 e5!? White certainly can occupy the center with Nd5, but Black isn’t going away – his position is solid.

GM Fischer-Renato Naranja
Meralco, Philippines, 1967
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 e5 4.Nd5 Nf6 5.Nec3 Be7 6.Bc4 O-O 7.d3 h6 8.f4 d6 9.f5 b6 10.h4 Bb7 11.a3 Rc8 12.Nxf6+ Bxf6 13.Qh5 Ne7 14.Bg5 d5 15.Bxf6 dxc4 16.Qg4 g6 17.dxc4 Qd6 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 19.fxg6 fxg6 20.Qxg6+ Qg7 21.Qxg7+ Kxg7 22.Rd1 Rcd8 23.Rxd8 Rxd8 24.Nd5 b5 25.cxb5 Bxd5 26.exd5 c4 27.a4 Rxd5 28.Ke2 Rd4 29.Rd1 Re4+ 30.Kf3 Rf4+ 31.Ke3 c3 32.b3 1-0

Christina Domsgen (2125)-Brigitte Burchardt (2262)
East Germany Women’s Ch.
Erfurt, 1973
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 e5 4.Ng3 g6 5.Bc4 d6 6.O-O Bg7 7.f4 exf4 8.Rxf4 Nf6 9.d3 O-O 10.Rf1 Ng4 11.Nge2 Qh4 12.Bf4 Be5 13.Qd2 Nxh2 14.Rf2 Ng4 15.Rf3 Nd4 16.Rff1 g5 17.Bxe5 dxe5 0-1

GM Viswanathan Anand-N.N.
Bad Mergentheim
Germany, n.d.
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 e5 4.Nd5 Nge7 5.Nec3 a6?
(Better is 5…Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Be7 – see below.) 6.a4 g6?? 7.Nf6# 1-0

GM Fischer-GM Spassky
Match, Game #19
Belgrade, 1992
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 e5 4.Nd5 Nge7 5.Nec3 Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Be7 7.g3 d6 8.Bg2 h5 9.h4 Be6 10.d3 Bxd5 11.exd5 Nb8 12.f4 Nd7 13.O-O g6 14.Rb1 f5 15.b4 b6 16.bxc5 bxc5 17.c4 O-O 18.Qa4 Bf6 19.Rb7 Nb6 20.Qb5 Rf7 21.Rxf7 Kxf7 22.Bd2 Rb8 23.Qc6 Nc8 24.Re1 Ne7 25.Qa4 Qc7 26.Kh2 exf4 27.Bxf4 Be5 28.Re2 Rb6 29.Kh3 Ng8 30.Rxe5 dxe5 31.Bxe5 Qe7 32.d6 Rxd6 33.Bxd6 Qxd6 34.Bd5+ Kf8 35.Qxa7 Ne7 36.Qa8+ Kg7 37.Qb7 Kf8 38.a4 f4 39.a5 fxg3 40.a6 Qf4 41.Bf3 Nf5 42.Qe4 g2 43.Qxf4 g1=Q 44.Be4 Qa1 45.a7 Qxa7 46.Bxf5 gxf5 47.Qxf5+ Kg7 48.Qg5+ Kf8 49.Qh6+ Kg8 50.Qxh5

50…Qc7 51.Qg6+ Kh8 52.Qf6+ Kg8 53.Qe6+ Kh8 54.Qd5 Qf7 55.Kg2 Qg6+ 56.Kh3 Qf7 57.Qe5+ Kh7 58.Kg4 Qg6+ 59.Kf4 Qh6+ 60.Kf3 Qg6 61.Qe4 Kh8 62.Ke2 Qd6 63.Qe3 Qh2+ 64.Kd1 Qh1+ 65.Kd2 Qh2+ 66.Kc3 Qxh4 67.d4 Kh7 68.d5 Qf6+ 69.Kc2 Qd6 70.Qg5 Kh8 71.Kd2 Qb6 72.Qe5+ Kg8 73.Qe8+ Kg7 74.Qb5 Qc7 75.Kc2 Kf8 76.Qa6 Qh2+ 77.Kb3 Qb8+ 78.Qb5 Qc7 79.Ka3 Qa7+ 80.Kb3 Ke7 81.Kc2 Kd8 82.Kd2 Qc7 83.Qa6 Qf4+ 84.Kc2 Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

GM Benjamin-Julio Granda Zuniga
Buenos Aires, 1992

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 e5 4.Nd5 Nge7 5.Nec3 Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Be7 7.Bc4 O-O 8.d3 Na5 9.O-O d6 10.f4 exf4 11.Bxf4 Be6 12.Qd2 Nxc4 13.dxc4 Re8 14.Rad1 Bf8 15.Ne3 Qf6 16.b3 Qg6 17.Qd3 Bh3 18.Rf3 Rxe4 19.Rg3 1-0

An Underpromotion Study

One of my main interests of study of chess is underpromotion, the reasons why such an underpromotion is not only possible, but of necessity.

The most common underpromotion is that to a knight, which makes up over 90% of all such underpromotions (the other two are rook and bishop, in that order of popularity).

If player has to underpromote to a knight the most probable explanation is that he is trying to prevent a fork, check, skewer, or pin by his opponent.

This has happened in Master chess. But only rarely. And even rarer is when it happens more than once during a game.

Here is a delightful example.

USSR Ch., 1/2 Final
Tbilisi, 1956

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.Nf3 b6 8.Bc4 Bb7 9.Qe2 c6 10.O-O (10.O-O-O is ECO’s suggestion.) 10…Nd7 11.a4 f5?! 12.Ng3 Kf8 (Obviously Black doesn’t want to castle kingside. But the text is not any better.)

13.Bxe6! fxe6 14.Qxe6 Nf6 15.Nxf5 Bc8 16.Qe5 Bxf5 17.Qxf5 Qd5 18.Qf4
(>18.Ne5!) 18…Rg8 19.Rae1 Rg4 20.Qh6+ Kg8 21.Rxe7 Qxf3 22.g3 Rg6 23.Qh3 Qg4 24.Qxg4 Rxg4 25.c3 Re4 26.Rxe4 Nxe4 27.Re1 Re8 28.f3 Nd6 29.Rxe8+ Nxe8 30.Kf2 Nd6 31.b3 b5 32.Ke3 bxa4 33.bxa4 Nc4+ 34.Ke4 Kf7 35.d5 c5 36.f4 a5 37.f5 Nb6 38.d6 Ke8 39.f6 Kf7?! (Black missing 39…Nxa4!) 40.Ke5 Nd7+ 41.Kd5 Kxf6 42.g4 c4 43.Kc6 Ke6 44.g5 Nf8 45.h4 Nd7 46.h5 Ne5+ 47.Kc7 Kf5 48.Kb6 Ke6! (48…Kxg5? 49.Kxa5 and Black’s king and knight separated and White’s pawns will rapidly advance.) 49.Kxa5 Kxd6 50.Kb6 Nd7+ 51.Kb5 Kc7 52.Kxc4 Ne5+ 53.Kd5 Nf3 54.g6 hxg6 55.hxg6?! (After 55.h6! Ng5, the kingside is locked up and White can concentrate on the queenside with moves like 56.c4.) 55…Nh4 56.g7 Nf5

57.g8=N (This knight underpromotion is to prevent a fork that follows after 57.g8=Q? Ne7+, winning the queen and White is also down a pawn.) 57…Kb6 58.Kc4 Ne3+ 59.Kb3 Nd5 60.c4 Nc7 61.Nf6 Ne6 62.Ne4 Nc7 63.Nf2 Ne6 64.Nd3 Nd4+ 65.Kc3 Ne2+ 66.Kb4 Nd4 67.c5+ Ka6 68.Kc4 Nf5 69.Kd5 Kb7 70.Nb4 (70.c6+? Kc7 with the idea of Ne7+, equalizing.) 70…Ne3+ 71.Kd4 Nf5+ 72.Kc4 Ne3+ 73.Kb5 Kc7 74.a5 Nf5 75.Nd5+ Kb7 76.c6+ Ka7 77.c7 Kb7 (The White knight is keeping the Black’s knight out of play.) 78.a6+ Ka7

(Another knight promotion for the same reason. 79.c8=Q? Nd6+, and White is going to find winning the game an extremely hard thing to do. It should also be mentioned that 79.Kc5!! also wins. But the second knight promotion is so beautiful!) 79…Kb8 80.Kb6 (White now threatens 81.a7! , winning the game with his last pawn.) 1-0

Emotional Computers?

Computers are usually thought of being logical, unemotional, not given to either having or displaying emotions. This is the pervading opinion of the general public. That is, unless you’ve watched 2001, A Space Odyssey.

But do computers have emotions? Do they feel joy when they win? Do they fear an opponent? How about a simple move?

Lets’ take a look at the following game:

DEEP FRITZ 8 (2462)-SQUASH 1 v. 1.35 (1962)
Computer game, 2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Bc4 d5?!

[In this variation of the Scheveningen, Black has a number of responses, some good, and some that should be avoided. The text is considered borderline and is rarely seen. Here is another response, equally borderline.

Oliver (1925)-Rios Cidras
San Sebastian Open, Apr. 3 2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg5 Bg7 8. Ndb5 Bf8 9.e5 Be7 (Even worse is 9…dxe5 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Bxf6+ Kd7 12.O-O-O+) 10.exf6 Bxf6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nc7+ Ke7 13.Nxa8 Na6 14.O-O b6 15.Nb5 d5 16.Bxd5 Qxb2 17.Bb3 Bd7 18.Qd6+ Kd8 19.Nac7 Nc5 20.Rad1 f6 21.Nxe6+ Ke8 22.Nxc5 Qe5 23.Nc7+ Kd8 24.Qxd7# 1-0.]

7.exd5 exd5 8.Bb5+! Bd7 9.Qe2+ Be7 10.Nf5 Kf8 11.Bxd7 Qxd7 12.Nxe7 Qxe7 13.Be3 Nc6 14.O-O-O Rd8 15.Rhe1 Kg8 16.Bg5 Qd6 17.Nxd5 Qb8 18.Bf4 Qc8 19.Nxf6+! gxf6 20.Rxd8+ Nxd8 21.Bh6

21…Qxc2+!? (You might reasonably conclude that SQUASH either panicked or made an incredibly insane blunder. But computers, by definition, cannot be insane, nor can they panic. Here is what SQUASH probably saw: 21…Ne6 22.Qg4+ Ng5 23.Qxc8#. And 21…Qe6 loses to 22.Qe6+! Qxe6 23.Re8#. With the queen sacrifice, Black lives a move longer. See, the computer is not so insane after all!) 22.Kxc2 Ne6 23.Qg4+ Ng5 24.Qc8mate 1-0