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

A Continuation of From’s

A few posts ago I wrote about From’s Gambit (see “From England, with Love.”)

The research needed for that article helped this one. I finally got to play a From’s Gambit. And while the game is not perfect, it was a lot of fun to play.


Blitz Game
chess.com, July 15 2020
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3


(Most popular, after 5.e3 is 5…Ng4 with lines progressing with 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.Nc3.)






[A slightly passive move. 6.Bb5 should be considered. Here are four games illustrating that White’s play does not have to be limited to the kingside.


Thematic Tournament, 1961
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.d3 Qe7 8.Nc3 O-O-O 9.Bd2 Ng4 10.Qe2 Nb4 11.Bxd7+ Rxd7 12.O-O-O f5 13.h3 Nf6 14.Nd4 g6 15.a3 Nbd5 16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.c4 Nf6 18.Bc3 Re8 19.Nc2 Nh5 20.Qf3 Bg3 21.Rd2 c5 22.Rhd1 Qe6 23.Kb1 Kb8 24.Re2 Be5 25.Bxe5+ Qxe5 26.g4 fxg4 27.hxg4 Nf6 28.Rf2 Re6 29.d4 Qg5 30.dxc5 Qxc5 31.Qf4+ Kc8 32.Nd4 Red6 33.g5 Ne8 34.Rc1 Re7 35.Rc3 a6 36.Qg4+ Kb8 37.Rf8 Ka7 38.b4 Qc7 39.Kb2 Rd8 40.Rf4 Ng7 41.c5 Nh5 42.b5 Qxf4 43.b6+ Kb8 44.exf4 Rxd4 45.c6 bxc6 46.Rxc6 Re8 47.Qg1 Rd5 48.Qc1 Ng3 49.Re6 Rc8 50.Re8 1-0


Moscow, 1984
[Gambit Revue, 2/1991]
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nc6 6.Bb5! (A new idea.) 6…O-O (6…Bd7 should be preferred and 7.O-O O-O 8.Nc3 a6 9.Bxc6 Bxc6 10.d3 Re8 11.a4 although and here White has a clear advantage.) 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.O-O Re8 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.Qe1 Rb8 11.d3 Qe7 12.e4 Bxf3 13.gxf3! (The natural 13.Rxf3 would be a serious mistake because of 13…Be5! with full domination by Black.) 13…Nh5 (13…Be5 Now gives nothing. 14.f4 Bd4+ 15.Kh1 with a better position for White.) 14.f4 f5 15.e5 Bc5+ 16.Kh1 Qf7 17.Qe2 Bd4 18.Qf3 Bxc3 (18…Re6 19.Ne2? Bxb2? 20.Rb1 +-) 19.bxc3 Qd5 20.c4 Qxf3+ 21.Rxf3 g6 22.Ba3 Kf7 23.d4 Red8 24.Rd1 Ke6 25.Bc1 Rb1 26.Rfd3 Ra1 27.d5+ Kf7 28.Be3 Rxa2 29.dxc6 Rxd3 30.cxd3 Re2 31.Bc1 Ng7 32.d4 Rc2 33.d5 Rxc4 34.e6+ Kg8 35.Be3 Ne8 36.Bxa7 Kf8 37.Bd4 Ke7 38.Be5 Nd6 39.Re1 Ra4 40.Bxd6+ cxd6 41.Rb1 1-0.


Vladimir Malaniuk (2600)-Roman Ovetchkin (2475)
Russia Cup
Omsk/Perm, 1998
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nc6 6.Bb5 O-O 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.O-O c5 9.b3 Ne4 10.Bb2 f5 11.Na3 Bb7 12.Nc4 Qe7 13.d3 Ng5 14.Nxg5 Qxg5 15.Qd2 Rae8 16.Rae1 Re6 17.e4 f4 18.Rf3 Rh6 19.Nxd6 cxd6 20.Rg3 1-0


Claude Oger (19970-Xavier Lebrun (2205)
Elancourt Open, Apr. 22 2006
1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nc6 6.Bb5 O-O 7.Nc3 Bg4 8.Be2 Re8 9.O-O Qe7 10.Kh1 Rad8 11.a3 Nh5 12.Qe1 Ne5 13.d4 Ng6 14.Qf2 Nf6 15.Bd2 c6 16.Bd3 Bc8 17.h3 Nh5 18.Ne2 Bb8 19.Rg1 Nf6 20.Nc3 c5 21.Rae1 a6 22.Ne2 b5 23.c3 Bb7 24.Nf4 Ne4 25.Bxe4 Qxe4 26.Ng5 Qf5 27.h4 Nxf4 28.exf4 h6 29.Nh3 Qxh3mate 0-1.]



(Black could obviously try 7…O-O but I usually like to castle to the opposite side of my opponent – it opens more possibilities to attacking their castled king. R. Norman-M.Varner, corres., 1991 continued with 6…O-O 7.O-O Be6 8.Nc3 Nd7 9.b3 Nde5 10.Ne4 Nxf3+ 11.Bxf3 Bd5 12.Bb2 Bxe4 13.Bxe4 Qh4 14.Rf4 Bxf4 15.exf4 Qxf4 16.d3 Rad8 17.Qe1 Rfe8 18.Qc3 Nd4 19.Re1 Kh8 20.Bc1 Qxc1 21.Rxc1 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nxc3 23.Bf3 c6 24.a3 g6 …0-1.)


7.O-O h5 8.Nh4?! (8…c4!?) 8…Be6 9.Rxf6? (This might work if Black was forced to play 9…gxf6? and now either 10.Bxh5 or 10.d4. But even then Black has the advantage.) 9…Qxf6 10.g3 g5 11.Ng2 h4 12.g4 h3 13.Ne1 Qe5 (>13…O-O-O! which will save Black a tempo or two.) 14.Nf3 Qf6 15.Nc3 Bxg4 16.Ne4 Qf5 (>16…Qg6!) 17.Nexg5? (This can’t be good. Much better is 17.Nxd6+ cxd6 and White rids himself of an annoying bishop. The text move, moreover, freely opens the g-file to Black’s rooks without him having to work for it.)




17…O-O-O?! (A reasonable move. But not the best. Black should immediately use the open file that was freely given to him with 17…Bxf3 18.Bxf3 Qxg5+ or 18.Nxf3 Qg4+.) 18.Qf1 Bxf3 (A move best described as better late than never.) 19.Nxf3 Rhg8+ 20.Kh1 Rg2 21.Bd3 Qg4 22.Ng1?? Rxh2mate 0-1

The Lousy Lolli

Some gambits are good for a surprise value only. Or they are thought to be simple enough to defend; no prior research is necessary to find a win.


But what if you really had to defend such a gambit? You never seen it before, you never analyzed it, but there it is, over the board and your clock has been started. You have a feeling that you should be able to beat it. But your clock is still ticking and you know you just have win this game, if for nothing except one’s own pride.


The Lolli Gambit is one of those gambits. You just know there is a defence. But what is the strategy? What are the moves?



I call it the Lousy Lolli. I originally called it that as it seems to be lousy for White. But if Black doesn’t find the right moves, then it can easily become very lousy for him.

According to Wikipeida, Giambattista Lolli (1698 – 4 June 1769) was an Italian chess player and one of the most important chess theoreticians of his time.

Let’s first define the gambit:


1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+. White has sacrificed a piece in a position that resembles the Muzio. But he sacrifices his bishop too early.

Obviously Black can  decline the gambit. But he has lost a pawn, cannot castle, and his king is misplaced. White has at least a “+/-”.


Ioan Panait (1680)-Silvia Poenariu
Deva Team Tournament, 1999
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 6.Bxg8 Rxg8 7.O-O gxf3 8.Qxf3 Bh6 9.Nc3 c6 10.d4 Qf8 11.e5 d5 12.exd6+ Kxd6 13.Ne4+ Kc7 14.Qh5 Qg7 15.Rf2 Bg4 16.Qxh6 Qxh6 17.Bxf4+ Qxf4 18.Rxf4 Be6 19.Nf6 Rh8 20.Re1 Bxa2? (Black has to try 20…Bc8 or 20…Bd7) 21.b3! +/- h6 22.Ra1 Bxb3 23.cxb3 Na6 24.Ng4 h5 25.Rf7+ Kb6 26.Ne5 Rhd8 1-0



So Black is forced to take the offered bishop. Now the natural 6.Ne5+, causing further disruption of Black’s defensive plans, is almost automatically played. White played 6.O-O in the following game, winning mainly, and possibly only, because of Black’s greed.

William Wallace Young-Frank Marshall
15 Board Simul
Bordentown, NJ, Apr. 28 1913
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.O-O gxf3? 7.Qxf3 Qf6 8.d4 Qxd4+ 9.Be3 Qf6 10.Nc3 Ne7 11.Bxf4 d6 12.Qh5+ Kg7 13.Bh6+ 1-0

So let’s get back to 6.Ne5+, White’s best continuation.

Italy, 1620?
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke6 7.Qxg4+ Kxe5 8.Qf5+ Kd6 9.d4 Bg7 10.Bxf4+ Ke7 11.Bg5+ Bf6 12.e5 Bxg5 13.Qxg5+ Ke8 14.Qh5+ Ke7 15.O-O Qe8 16.Qg5+ Ke6 17.Rf6+ Nxf6 18.Qxf6+ Kd5 19.Nc3+ Kxd4 20.Qf4+ Kc5 21.b4+ Kc6 22.Qc4+ Kb6 23.Na4mate 1-0


George B. Spencer-N.N.
Minneapolis Chess Club, 1893
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke6 7.Qxg4+ Kxe5 8.d4+ Kxd4 9.b4 Bxb4+ 10.c3+ Bxc3+ 11.Nxc3 Kxc3

12.Bb2+! Kxb2 (If Black was to play 12…Kd3!?, then White would castle queenside to continue the attack.) 13.Qe2+ Kxa1 14.O-Omate 1-0


By now, you have probably figured out that 6…Ke6? puts the Black in the way of further harm. The alternate move, 6…Ke8 makes White’s mating efforts much hard as Black can now put his pieces in front of his king, instead of behind him where they become mere spectators.



Let’s look at a few games with the idea of seeing additional opening themes and tactical possibilities. Black can win if he can sidestep the complications. And if he can’t …


Murcey De Villette – Maubuisson
Paris, 1680
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 (The most common continuation. White needs to continue his attack and maybe win some material back. This move does both.) 7…Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nc4 Qe7 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.O-O Bg7 12.d3 Rf8 13.Qg5 Be6 14.Ne3 Kd7 15.Bd2


(Black needs to either tuck his king in the queenside with 15…Rae8 and 16…Kc8 or try to simplify the board. He can’t do the first as he doesn’t have enough tempi. But his alternate plan is possible and probably even good. 15…Ng4! is his best move.) 15…Rae8?! 16.Ncd5 Bxd5 17.exd5 Ne5 18.Nf5 Qf7 19.Nxg7 Re7 20.Qf5+ Kd8 21.Ne6+ Ke8 22.Nxf8 Kxf8 23.Qxf6 1-0


London, 1846
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.d4 Qe7 11.O-O Bd7 12.e5 dxe5 13.dxe5 Nd5 14.Qe4 Be6 15.Bg5 Qc5+ 16.Kh1 Ncb4 17.c4 Nb6 18.b3 Be7 19.Nd4 Bg8 20.Bxe7 Qxe7 21.Nf5 Qd7 22.Qh4 Rd8 23.Qf6! (with the idea of Ng7+) 1-0


von Heydebrand und der Lasa-Nielsen Govert
Copenhagen, Feb. 19 1869
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.O-O Bg7 10.Nf3 Nc6 11.d4 Bg4 12.Be3 Ne7 13.Nc3 Qd7 14.e5 Nfd5 15.Qg5 Nxe3 16.Qxe3 d5 17.Ng5 Be6 18.Qf3 h5 19.Nb5 Bf5 20.c4 Bh6 21.e6! Qc6 22.Nf7 Rh7 23.Ne5 Qb6 24.Nd7 1-0


Canterbury, England, June 1903
[Based on the tactical ending, there is a good chance this game was played blindfolded. But I am unable to confirm this.]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Qf6 (The less aggressive, but stronger, move is 7…Nf6. Now White has a growing advantage.) 8.d4 Bh6 9.O-O Qg7 10.Qh5+! +- Ke7 11.Bxf4 Bxf4 12.Rxf4 Nf6 13.Qh4 d6 14.Nc3 c6 15.Raf1 Rf8 16.Nf7 Rxf7 17.e5 dxe5 18.dxe5 Nd7 19.exf6+ Nxf6


20.Ne4! Be6 21.Nxf6 Kf8 22.Nxh7+ Kg8 23.Rxf7 Bxf7 24.Nf6+ Kf8 25.Qb4+ 1-0


S. Shaw-P. Sokol
corres., 1943
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nc4 Rg8 10.O-O Be7 11.d4 Rg4 12.Qh6?! (Perhaps a little too aggressive. Better is 12.Qe2, with about an equal game.) 12…Rg6 13.Qh4 Qd7 14.Ne3 Qh3 15.Qf4 Qh5 16.Nc3 Nc6 17.Ncd5 Nxd4 18.Qf2


18…Ne2+ 0-1 (White rightfully resigns due to 19.Kh1 Qxh2+!!)


N. Lelen-K. Marzec
US Open
Los Angeles, 1991
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nf3 Qe7 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.O-O Rg8 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.exd5 Rg4 14.Qxg4 Bxg4 15.Re1 Ne5 16.Nxe5 dxe5 17.d4 Kd7 18.dxe5 Qc5+ 19.Be3 Qxd5 20.h3 Bc5 21.hxg4 Bxe3+ 22.Rxe3 Qc5 23.Re1 Re8 24.Kh2 Qxc2 25.e6+ Kc8 26.R1e2 Qg6 27.e7 Qxg4 28.Rf3 Rxe7 29.Rxe7 Qh4+ 0-1


Firas Al Hantouli (2200)-Khaled
Asia Ch.
Dubai, 1996
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nf3 Qe7 10.Nc3 Nbd7 11.O-O Kd8 12.d4 b6 13.e5 Ne8 14.Qe4 Rb8 15.Bg5 Ndf6 16.exf6 Qxe4 17.f7+ Qe7 18.Bxe7+ Bxe7 19.Nd5 c6 20.Nxe7 Kxe7 21.Rae1+ Kd8 22.Ng5 Rf8 23.fxe8=Q+ Rxe8 24.Rxe8+ Kxe8 (and 25.Nxh7) 1-0


Juerg Gruber-Ioan Avram
Pizol Open, 1997
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.O-O Ng4 11.h3 Rf8 12.Qg3 Be5 13.Nxe5 Rxf1+ 14.Kxf1 Nxe5 15.Qg8+ Kd7 16.Qxh7+ Kc6 17.Qg7 b6 18.d4 Ba6+ 19.Kg1 Ned7 20.Qf7 Nf6 21.Bg5 Nbd7 22.Nc3 Qe8 23.Qb3 Rc8 24.Re1 Qg8 25.Qa4+ Kb7 26.Bxf6 Nxf6 27.b4 Qc4 28.Ne2 Nxe4 29.c3 Nxc3 30.Nxc3 Qxc3 31.Qd1 Qxb4 32.Qf3+ Kb8 33.Qd5 0-1


Nikolai Nasikan-Vitaliy Pasemko
Stepichev Memorial
Kiev, Dec. 28 2004
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.O-O Kf8 11.d4 Kg8 12.e5 dxe5 13.dxe5 Nd5 14.Qg3 h6 15.c4 Nb6 16.b3 Nc6 17.Bb2 Be6 18.Nc3 Bxc4 19.Rad1 Qe7 20.bxc4 Nxc4 21.Nd5 Qc5+ 22.Kh1 Nxb2 23.Nf6+ Kf7 24.Nd7 Qe7 25.Nh4+ Ke8 26.Qg6+ Kd8 27.Nb6+ Nxd1 28.Rxd1+ Qd6 29.Rxd6+ cxd6 30.Qxd6+ Ke8 31.Nxa8 Bxe5 32.Nc7+ Kf7 33.Qe6+ Kg7 34.Nf5+ Kf8 35.Qe8mate 1-0


Fahad A. Al Turky (1903)-Abdulrahman A. Masrahi (1863)
World Rapid Ch.
St. Petersburg, Dec. 26 2018
[Black defends accurately, picks up more material, and the concludes with a fine sacrifice. A Black player’s dream!]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 d6 9.Nf3 Qe7 10.O-O Bg7 11.Nc3 Rf8! (The right ratio of defence and attacking possibilities.) 12.Qh4 Bg4 13.e5 Bxf3 14.Rxf3 dxe5 15.d3 Nbd7 16.Bg5 Qc5+ 17.Be3 Qd6 18.Raf1 c6 19.Bg5 Qd4+ 20.Qxd4 exd4 21.Re1+ Kf7 22.Ne4 Kg8! (If the king can’t find refuge on the queenside, then he should go to the kingside!) 23.Nd6 Nd5 24.Rg3 Kh8 25.a3 Be5 26.Rxe5 Nxe5 27.b3 Nf7 28.Nxb7 Nxg5 29.Rxg5 Rae8 30.h3 Rg8 31.Rf5


31…Rxg2+! 32.Kh1 (32.Kxg2 Ne3+) 32…Rxc2 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

King Hunt!



Every chess player enjoys a king-hunt, esp. when he is the one who is doing the hunting.

For those who are unfamiliar with this term, here is a short definition : A king hunt occurs when a king is driven from a defended position to another part of the board where he may be mated.

Here are some of my favorites. The second one is well-known, while the others are not (but maybe should be).




Italy, 1620
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Bxf7+ (The Lolli Gambit. It is rarely seen because Black can defend this aggressive and early attack. Still, it might make a good choice in a blitz game or two!) 5…Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke6 7.Qxg4+ Kxe5 8.Qf5+ Kd6 9.d4 Bg7 10.Bxf4+ Ke7 11.Bg5+ Bf6 12.e5 Bxg5 13.Qxg5+ Ke8 14.Qh5+ Ke7 15.O-O Qe8 16.Qg5+ Ke6

17.Rf6+ Nxf6 18.Qxf6+ Kd5 19.Nc3+ Kxd4 20.Qf4+ Kc5 21.b4+ Kc6 22.Qc4+ Kb6 23.Na4mate 1-0


Edward Lasker-George Alan Thomas
Casual Game
London, Oct. 29 1912
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.e4 fxe4 7.Nxe4 b6!? (This move seems slow. Probably best is the immediate 7…O-O. Monti-Idili, corres., Italy, 1972 continued with 8.Ne5 Nc6 9.Bd3 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Bxe5 11.Qh5 Rf5 12.Qh3 Bxb2 13.Rb1 Bd4 14.g4 Rf8 15.Nd6 cxd6 16.Bxh7+ Kf7 17.Rb3 Qg5 18.f4 Qh6 19.Qd3 b6 20.g5 Qh4+ 21.Ke2 Ke7 22.Qxd4 Qxh7 23.Rd3 d5 24.h4 Ba6 25.g6 Bxd3+ 26.cxd3 Qxg6 27.Rg1 Qf6 0-1. Back to the game.) 8.Ne5 O-O 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.Qh5 Qe7? [The text move is an error. Best is 10…Bxe5 11.Nd2 g6 12.Qxe5 Nc6 13.Qg3 Nb4 14.Bxg6 hxg6= (Stockfish).]

11.Qxh7+!! Kxh7 (11…Kg8? 13.Ng6# wins on the spot!.) 12.Nxf6+ Kh6 13.Neg4+ Kg5 14.h4+ Kf4 15.g3+ Kf3 16.Be2+ Kg2 17.Rh2+ Kg1 18.Kd2mate 1-0 (12.O-O-O# is also possible.)


10 Board Blindfold Simul
Kidderminster, England, May 15 1863
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 d6 5.Nxc3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Ne5 7.Nxe5 dxe5 8.Bxf7+ Ke7 9.Bg5+ Nf6 10.Qh5 c6 11.Rd1 Qa5 12.f4 Qc5 13.fxe5 Qxe5 14.O-O h6 15.Be8 Be6

16.Rxf6! gxf6 17.Rd7+ Bxd7 18.Qf7+ Kd6 19.Qxd7+ Kc5 20.Be3+ Kb4 21.Qxb7+ Ka5 22.b4+ Bxb4 23.Bb6+ axb6 24.Qxa8mate 1-0


Essen, 1936
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 (A side variation of Alekhine’s Defence.) 3.exd5 Nxd5 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bb3 c5 6.d3 Nc6 7.Nf3 e5? (The e5-pawn will become a target. More common are 7…e6 and 7..Bf5.) 8.O-O Bg4 9.h3 Bh5 10.Nxe5!! Bxd1 (Better is 10…Nxe5, but White is winning after 11.Qxh5.) 11.Bxf7+ Ke7 12.Bg5+ Kd6 13.Ne4+! Kxe5 14.f4+ Kd4 (14…Kf5 15.Ng3#) 15.Raxd1 Ke3 16.Rf3+ Ke2 17.Rd2+ Ke1 18.Rf1mate 1-0


Canada, 1962
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 e6 4.axb4 Bxb4 5.c3 Be7 6.d4 d6 7.Nf3 Qc7 8.Bd3 Nf6 9.O-O O-O 10.e5! dxe5 11.Nxe5 Nbd7 12.f4 b5 13.c4 Bb7 14.Nc3 a6 15.Bb2 Qd6 16.Rf2 Rfe8 17.g4 Nf8 18.g5 N6d7 19.Ne4 Qc7 20.Qh5 Ng6


21.Nxf7! Nxf4 (21…Kxf7 22.Qxh7 Rh8 23.Nd6+! Bxd6 24.Bxg7+ Ke7 25.Qxg7+ followed by Qxh8+.) 22.Qxh7+! (White now announces mate in 12 moves.) 22…Kf8 (22…Kxf7 23.g6+ Kf8 24.Qh8#) 23.Qh8+ Kxf7 24.g6+! Kxg6 25.Rg2+!! Nxg2 (25…Kf5 26.Nd6+) 26.Nd6+ Kg5 (26…Kf6 27.Rf1+) 27.Qxg7+ Kh4 28.Qh6+ Kg4 29.Be2+ Bf3 30.Bxf3+ Kxf3 31.Rf1+ Ke2 (31…Kg4 32.h3+ Kg3 33.Ne4#) 32.Rf2+ Kd1 (32…Kd3 33.Qd2#) 33.Qc1mate 0-1

Josef Matschego-Ernst Falkbeer
Vienna, 1853
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Nc3? d6 7.Nc4 Be7

[7…Nh5 is at least an alternate move and it might be even stronger. Do. Florea (1863)-Petra Papp (2276), Romania Women’s Team Ch., Mamaia, Sept. 8 2013 went 7…Nh5 8.Be2 Ng3 9.Rh2 h5 10.Nxf4 Be7 11.d4 Bxh4 12.Be3 Nxe2+ 13.Kxe2 g3 14.Rxh4 Qxh4 15.Qf1 c6 16.Kd2 Bg4 0-1.]

8.d4 Nh5 9.Be2 Bxh4+ 10.Kd2 Qg5 11.Kd3 (Avoiding a calamitous loss of material after 12…f3+. But 11.Nd5 is better.) 11…Nc6 (Black threatens 12…Nb4+ 13.Kd2 f3+ 14.Ne3 Bf2!) 12.a3 Bf2 13.Nd5 Bxd4 14.Nxc7+ Kd8 15.Nd5 f5 16.Nxd6 fxe4+ 17.Kc4

17…Qxd5+!! 18.Kxd5 Nf6+ 19.Kc4 Be6+ 20.Kb5 a6+ 21.Ka4 b5+ 22.Nxb5 (22.Bxb5 axb5+ 23.Kxb5 Ra5+ 24.Kxc6 Bd5#.) 22…axb5+ 23.Kxb5 Ra5+ 24.Kxc6 Bd5+ 25.Kd6 Ne8mate 0-1




The “Dragon” describes a vast complex variation in the Sicilian. Black sets up a fianchettoed bishop on g7, castles kingside, and hopes to attack on the queenside.


But where did the name Dragon come from?


So far, the research indicates that the name originated from the 19th century Russian player Fyodor Dus-Chotimirsk. He claimed to have invented the term in 1901 as Black’s kingside pawn structure resembled the constellation Draco. The constellation’s name means “dragon” in Latin.


It might also help to know that Dus-Chotimirsk was an amateur astronomer.


We can only assume that the fianchettoed bishop represents the head of the dragon while the bishop’s long diagonal is its tail. You will appreciate the long diagonal (tail) of the dragon after playing over a few games.

Here is an illustrated (AKA with diagrams) introduction to the Dragon.


M. Maric-S. Matveeva
Yugoslavia, 1992
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.g3 Nc6 7.Nde2 b6 8.Bg2 Ba6 9.O-O Bg7 10.Nd5 O-O 11.Re1 Rc8 12.c3 Nd7 13.Be3 Nc5 14.Nd4 Ne5 15.Nb4 Bb7 16.f3 a5 17.Nd5 e6 18.Nf4 Nc4 19.Nb5 Ba6 20.Bxc5 Rxc5 21.a4 Nxb2 22.Qb3 Nxa4 23.Nxe6 Rxb5 24.Qxa4 fxe6

0-1 (Black is threatening White’s “c” pawn. And 25.c4? Rb4! loses more material than just a pawn.)


Milenko Lojanica-Gawain Jones
Victoria, 2009

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 Rb8 11.Nxc6? bxc6 12.h4 Qa5 13.Nb1??  Nxe4! 0-1 (with the idea of Bxb2#.)


Ka Szadkowski (2300)-M. Mroziak (2406)
Polish Team Ch., 2nd League
Szklarska Poreba, Sept. 2 2017
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.O-O-O Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.Bd3 Qa5 14.h5? Rxc3! 15.Qxc3 Qxa2+ 0-1


Jan Svatos (2280)-Pavel Jirovsky (2335)
Czech Chess Union Open Ch.
Prague, 1964
[A question for White. What is worse than worse having a bishop with long diagonal attacking your castled position? Having two bishops with long diagonals attacking your castled position! Not to mention the enemy queen and rooks. Details below.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.Be3 O-O 8.f3 Nc6 9.Qd2 a5 10.O-O-O a4 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.e5 Ne8 13.exd6 Nxd6 14.Be2 Qa5 15.Bd4 e5! (White was probably not expecting this move. It opens up the position in Black’s favor.) 16.Bc5 Qxc5 17.Qxd6 Qe3+! (This little zwischenzug keeps the advantage for Black. Obviously not 17…Qxd6? 18.Rxd6 and White is doing OK.) 18.Qd2 Qb6 19.Bc4 Qb4 20.b3 axb3 21.Bxb3 e4 22.Nb1 Qb6 23.c3? (All this move does is to loosen up White’s castled position. It’s hard to find a good move, but 23.fxe4!? keeps Black’s bishop from f5 for at least another move.) 23…exf3! 24.gxf3 Bf5! -+


25.Kb2 Rfb8! 0-1



The next two games are from the rarely played Zollner Gambit. Consider these games as sidenotes.


Raymond Martin (2230)-Raymond Vollmar (2143)
US Open
Fort Worth, TX, July 9 1951
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 g6 7.Be3 Bg7 8.O-O O-O 9.f4 Qb6 10.e5 (The Zollner Gambit) 10…dxe5 11.fxe5 Nxe5 12.Nf5 Qe6 13.Nxg7 Kxg7 14.Qd2 Re8 15.Rae1 Bd7 16.Bd4 Bc6 17.Qf4 Ned7 18.Bg4 Qd6 19.Qxd6 exd6 20.Rxe8 Rxe8 21.Bxd7 Bxd7 22.Nd5 1-0


L. H. Hansen (1993)-A. Groenn (2409)
Sveins Memorial
Oslo, June 24 2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 g6 7.O-O Bg7 8.Be3 O-O 9.f4 Qb6 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nxe5 12.Nf5 Qe6 13.Nxg7 Kxg7 14.Qd2 Kh8 15.Nb5 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Qxc4 17.Na3 Qc6 18.Qd4 b6 19.Nc4 Bb7 20.Rf2 Rfd8 21.Qh4 Qe4 22.Qxe4 Nxe4 23.Rf4 Rac8 24.b3 f5 25.Re1 Ba6 0-1




David McTavish (2224)-Jura Ochkoos (2298)
Canada Open
Toronto, 1992
[Black has to be careful not trade off his dragon.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Qb8 11.h4 Rc8 12.Bb3 a5 13.a4 h5 14.g4 Nb4 15.Bh6 Rc5 16.gxh5 Nxh5 17.Rhg1 e6 18.Nf5 exf5 19.Rxg6 Kh7 20.Bxg7 f4 21.Rxd6 Be6 22.Bxe6! fxe6


23.Rd7! (Black is facing lines that end in mate. Lines like 23…Nxg7 24.Rxg7+! Kxg7 25.Rg1+ Kf7 26.Qd7+ Kf6 27.Qg7#) 1-0


Edwin Bhend-Otto Zimmermann
Zurich, 1954
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.O-O-O Na5? 10.Bh6! Be6 11.h4 Bc4 12.h5 Bxf1 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 h5 15.Nf5+ 1-0


Yu Lie (2348)-Leon Hoyos (2395)
World U14 Ch.
Halkidiki, Greece, 2003
[If this is how someone under 14 plays chess, I would not want to play him as an adult! What makes this game more interesting is the fact is that since Black moved his dragoned bishop off the long diagonal, White takes over the long diagonal and uses it for HIS bishop.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bc4 Bg7 4.O-O Nc6 5.c3 e5 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 Nxd4 8.Nxd4 cxd4 9.Qf3! (Not just going for the easy mate but it also forces the Black queen to a vulnerable spot. Otherwise if 9…Nf6 or 9…Bf6, then 10.e5!) 9…Qf6 10.Qg3 Ne7 11.Bg5 Qe5 12.Bf4! (Willing to give up a pawn for continued rapid development.) 12…Qxe4 13.Bd3 Qd5 14.Bd6 Bf6 15.Re1 Kf8 16.Nd2 Qh5 17.Qf4 Bg5 18.Qe5 Kg8 19.Bxe7 Bxd2?! (Admittedly there is not much else Black can do. But now he is mated in three moves.)
20.Qxh8+!! Kxh8 21.Bf6+ 1-0

The Quiet Bishop Move

A quiet bishop move is one that does not deliver a check, does not fork, and usually it doesn’t even attack a piece directly. Indeed, it appears to do nothing.


But it does.

The forcefulness of the Quiet Bishop Move can be seen best from the following examples.



New York, 1924
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Nf6 (The text move is a little passive. Black has several options here including 3…c6, 3…dxc4, and 3…g6.) 4.Bg2 Bd6 5.O-O O-O 6.b3 Re8 7.Bb2 Nbd7 8.d4 c6 9.Nbd2 Ne4 10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Ne5 f5 12.f3 exf3 13.Bxf3 Qc7 14.Nxd7 Bxd7 15.e4 e5 16.c5 Bf8 17.Qc2 exd4 18.exf5 Rad8 19.Bh5 Re5 20.Bxd4 Rxf5 21.Rxf5 Bxf5 22.Qxf5 Rxd4 23.Rf1! Rd8 24.Bf7+ Kh8


25.Be8! (The bishop does nothing except to isolate the enemy king. But now White has several forced mates. First, he threatens 26.Qxf8#. Black can try 25…Rxe8, but after 26.Qxf8+, White has the well-known back rank mate. And Black is still mated after 25…h6 26.Qxf8+ Kh7 27.Bg6+! Kxg6 28.Qf5#. Black resigns.) 1-0

Zoltan Ribli-Andras Adorjan
Hungary, 1983
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e3 e6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 Bb7 7.a3 d5! 8.cxd5 Nxd5= 9.Ne5 a6 10.Qa4+ Nd7 11.Nxd5 b5! 12.Qb3 Bxd5 =/+ 13.Qg3 Nxe5 14.dxe5 h5! 15.h4 Rc8 -/+ 16.b4 g6 17.Bg5 Be7 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 19.Be2 Bc4! 20.Rc1 O-O! 21.Bxh5 a5! 22.bxa5 Qa7! 23.Bd1 Qxa5+ 24.Qc3 Qa8! 25.Qe3 Rfd8 26.Bf3? Qa5+ 27.Qc3

27…Bf1!! (The bishop does nothing except to isolate the enemy king. As an added bonus White’s queen is now being attacked by the Rook. Even here the bishop is also quiet, allowing another piece to potentially capture the queen. I’ll let you figure out why White can’t play 28.Qxa5?) 0-1

A bishop move that is a little louder.

Walter Harris-Anthony Cantone
US Open
Omaha, Nebraska, July 24 1959
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 Nc6 13.dxc5 dxc5 14.Nf1 Rd8 15.Qe2 Be6

(So far this is all theory.

GM Fischer-GM Erich Eliskases, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 1960 continued instead with the alternate 15…Nh5!?. White played the simple, and yet strong, 16.a4 Rb8 17.axb5 axb5 18.g3 g6 19.h4 Be6 20.Ne3 c4 21.Ng5 Bxg5 22.hxg5 Na5 23.Ng4 Bxg4 24.Qxg4 Nb3 25.Bxb3 cxb3 26.Be3 Ra8 27.Rxa8 Rxa8 28.Rd1 Qc6 29.Rd5 f5 30.Qd1 f4 31.gxf4 exf4 32.Qxb3 Qc4 33.Qxc4 bxc4 34.Bd4 f3 35.Be3 h6 36.gxh6 Nf6 37.Rd6 Kf7 38.Rxf6+ Kxf6 39.Bd4+ Kg5 40.h7 Kf4 41.Kh2 g5 42.h8=Q Rxh8+ 43.Bxh8 g4 44.e5 1-0.)

16.Ne3 h6 17.Nh2 Rac8 18.Nf5!? Bxf5 19.exf5 c4 20.Ng4! Re8 21.Qf3 Rcd8 22.Qg3! Kh8 23.Nxh6! gxh6 24.Bxh6 Rg8 25.Qh4 Nh7? 26.f6! Bxf6



27.Bg5! 1-0

Pawn Pusher!

Sometimes beginners are referred, somewhat in jest, as being mere “pawn-pushers”. Try telling that to these Grandmasters.


Typically, most pawns are pushed towards the end of the game with the goal of eventually promoting. But pawns don’t need to promote and pawn pushing can happen at any stage of the game. In fact, it is possible to win a game with pawn moves only.

R. Kujoth – Fashing-Bauer
Milwaukee, 1950
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 Nc6 4.axb4 Nf6 5.b5 Nb8

[The (in?)famous game, Frank Marshall-Viacheslav Ragosin, New York, 1940, continued instead with 5…Nd4 6.c3 Ne6 7.e5 Nd5 8.c4 Ndf4 9.g3 Ng6 10.f4 Ngxf4 11.gxf4 Nxf4 12.d4 Ng6 13.h4 e6 14.h5 Bb4+ (And now, after 14 moves, Marshall had to finally move a piece.) 15.Bd2 Bxd2+ 16.Nxd2 Ne7 17.Ne4 Nf5 18.h6 g6 19.Nf6+ Kf8 20.Nf3 d6 21.Ng5 dxe5 22.dxe5 Qxd1+ 23.Rxd1 Ke7 24.Rh3 b6 25.Bg2 Rb8 26.Ngxh7 1-0.]


6.e5 Qc7 7.d4 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.c5 Nd5 10.b6!




John Hurt (1831)-Morris Busby
Bluff City Open, February 17, 1979
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 Nc6 4.axb4 Nf6 5.b5 Nd4 6.c3 Ne6 7.e5 Ne4 8.d4 d5 9.f3 N4g5 10.h4 1-0


Pawn pushing can be used in the middle game. To good effect.


GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2740)-GM Veselin Topalov (2670)
Belgrade, 1995
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 Rc8 11.Bb3 h5 12.O-O-O Ne5 (The Soltis Variation of the Dragon.) 13.Bg5 Rc5 14.g4 hxg4 15.f4 Nc4 16.Qe2 Qc8

[This appear to be Black’s best move. Sarunas Sulskis (2505)-Dr. Evarth Kahn (2350), Budapest 1995 continued with 16…b5!? 17.h5 Nxh5 18.f5 a5 19.Qxg4 a4 20.Bxc4 Rxc4 21.Rxh5 gxh5 22.Qxh5 Rxd4 23.Rh1 f6 24.Qh7+ Kf7 25.Bh6 Bxf5 26.Qxg7+ Ke6 27.exf5+ 1-0.]

17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Nd5 Rxd5!! (This move certainly looks like it gives the initiative to Black. Can it be sustained? Or is it an illusion? White several plans to try to counter Black’s threats. But first, the most obvious move.) 19.exd5 b5 20.h5 (Now here is where it starts to get complicated.) 20…g5!? (It’s obvious Black intends to push his kingside pawns. Doing so will put a cramp on both White’s attack on the kingside and more importantly, the coordination of his pieces.) 21.fxg5 Bxg5+! (Black will use the extra tempo to push another pawn.) 22.Kb1 f5 23.Rd3 (It’s been recommended that 23.h6, pushing White’s pawns to counter Black’s advancing pawns, is the better move.) 23…f4 24.Bxc4 Qxc4 0-1


[Ivanchuk was criticized for resigning here. It’s not an easy position to hold. Some sample lines: (1) 25.Qd2 Kh7 26.Qg2 Kh8 27.b3 Qc8! Black’s king is hiding and his queen can reposition herself., (2) 25.Qg2 Kh8 26.Re1 b4 and Black’s queenside pawns start advancing, (3) 25.Rc3?! Qxd4 26.Rc7 Bf5 (a “fantasy” position for Black). In addition to Black’s dangerous kingside pawns he now has both bishops aiming for White’s castled position, (4) 25.Ne6?! fails to 25….f3! 26.Qd1 Bxe6. Maybe Ivanchuk saw all of this.]


Obviously, one has to be careful pushing pawns. When a pawn is advances it leaves holes where the enemy pieces can hold or attack.


The following games illustrates this point. And features some serious pawn pushing.


GM Boris Spassky-GM Bobby Fischer
World Ch., Game #13
Reykjavik, July 11 1972
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 Bg7 7.Nbd2 (ECO gives this move a “?!”, suggesting 8.Ng5.) 7…O-O 8.h3!? (8.O-O!?) 8…a5! (To create space and threaten …a4.) 9.a4 dxe5 10.dxe5 Na6 11.O-O Nc5 (-/+ ECO) 12.Qe2 Qe8 13.Ne4 Nbxa4 14.Bxa4 Nxa4 15.Re1 Nb6 16.Bd2 a4 17.Bg5 h6 18.Bh4 Bf5 19.g4 Be6 20.Nd4 Bc4 21.Qd2 Qd7 22.Rad1 Rfe8 23.f4 Bd5 24.Nc5 Qc8 25.Qc3 e6 26.Kh2 Nd7 27.Nd3? c5! 28.Nb5 Qc6 29.Nd6 Qxd6 30.exd6 Bxc3 31.bxc3 f6 32.g5 hxg5 33.fxg5 f5 34.Bg3 Kf7 35.Ne5+ Nxe5 36.Bxe5 b5 37.Rf1 Rh8 38.Bf6 a3 39.Rf4 a2 40.c4 Bxc4 41.d7 Bd5 42.Kg3 Ra3+ 43.c3 Rha8 44.Rh4 e5 45.Rh7+ Ke6 46.Re7+ Kd6 47.Rxe5 Rxc3+ 48.Kf2 Rc2+ 49.Ke1 Kxd7 50.Rexd5+ Kc6 51.Rd6+ Kb7 52.Rd7+ Ka6 53.R7d2 Rxd2 54.Kxd2 b4 55.h4 Kb5 56.h5 c4 57.Ra1 gxh5 58.g6 h4 59.g7 h3 60.Be7 Rg8 61.Bf8! (Locking in the rook.)


61…h2 62.Kc2 Kc6 63.Rd1 b3+ 64.Kc3 h1=Q 65.Rxh1 Kd5 66.Kb2 f4 67.Rd1+ Ke4 68.Rc1 Kd3 69.Rd1+ [Gligorić, writing in Informant 14, (Game #165) give this move a ??, claiming that 69.Rc3+! Kd4 70.Rf3 c3+ 71.Ka1 c2 72.Rxf4+ Kc3 73.Rf3+ Kd2 74.Ba3! is equal. He appears to be correct.] 69…Ke2 70.Rc1 f3 71.Bc5 Rxg7 72.Rxc4 Rd7 73.Re4+ Kf1 74.Bd4 f2 0-1

Poisoned Pawn?

The term “Poisoned Pawn” appears twice in the opening naming lexicons. It can also be used in a more broader sense.


In general, the pawn on b2 is attacked by Black’s queen. If he does, he sure to face a massive, and sometimes very long, attack by the White’s pieces.


The question is, not can he take the pawn. But rather, can he withstand the attack? If he can, then he’ll be up a pawn in the endgame.

In a more literary sense, can Black eat the pawn without suffering indigestion? Now you know where the word, “poisoned” comes from.

Let’s get started.




The Poisoned Pawn in the Najdorf is defined by the moves; 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6.



White usually continues with 8.Qd2, allowing Black to take his b2 pawn. He knows that if nothing else, he’ll be one attacking. But how best to attack? And what to do when Black, as he typically does, counterattack?


Fischer was the main advocate of this Najdorf version, who played it from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. Here is Fischer in his prime.


GM Bruno Parma-GM Fischer
Rovinj/Zagreb, Croatia, Apr. 12, 1970
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 Bg7 12.O-O f5 13.Rfd1 O-O 14.exf5 exf5 15.Nd5 Nc6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Ne7+ Kh8 18.Nxc8 Rfxc8 19.Qd3? (>19.Qxd6 Qxa2 20.Qc5, with the idea of Bd3) 19…Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Re8 -/+ 21.Qc4 Qxc4 22.Bxc4 Re4 23.Bxf7 Rf8 24.Bh5 Rxf4 25.Rb6 (>25.Rxd6 Rh4 with the idea of Be5 -/+. With the text move, White falls further behind.) 25…Be5 26.Rxa6 Rh4 27.Bf3 Rxh2+ 28.Kg1 c5 29.Ra8 Rxa8 30.Bxa8 Rh4 31.Bc6 Rb4 32.a4 Rb2 33.c4 Kg7 34.Rd3 Ra2 35.Kf1 Kg6 36.Re3 h5 37.Re2 Ra3 38.Rd2 h4 39.Ke2 Bf4 40.Rd3 Ra2+ 41.Kd1 Kf6 42.Rf3 Be5 43.Rd3 Ke7 44.Rd2 Ra3 45.Ke2 Bc3 46.Rd3 Ra2+ 47.Kd1 Bd4 48.Rh3 Bf6 49.Re3+ Be5 50.Rd3 Kd8 51.Rd2 Ra1+ 52.Ke2 Kc7 53.Bd5 Bf4 54.Rc2 Ra3 55.Rb2 Be5 56.Rd2 Rg3 57.Kd1 f4 0-1

It wasn’t until Fischer played in the World Championship that he met his equal, at least in this variation.


GM Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch. Game #11
Reykjavik, 1972
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Nb3 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 h5 12.O-O Nc6 13.Kh1 Bd7 14.Nb1 Qb4 15.Qe3 d5 16.exd5 Ne7 17.c4 Nf5 18.Qd3 h4 19.Bg4 Nd6 20.N1d2 f5 21.a3 Qb6 22.c5 Qb5 23.Qc3 fxg4 24.a4 h3 25.axb5 hxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Rh3 27.Qf6 Nf5 28.c6 Bc8 29.dxe6 fxe6 30.Rfe1 Be7 31.Rxe6 1-0

To be sure, the response was cooked up by Spassky’s team both before and during the match. It was a quick defeat, and it’s no wonder that Fischer didn’t again in the match. Or ever again.


After winning the World Championship, Fischer disappeared for a couple of decades. During his absence several improvements were found for both sides. But without it’s chief proponent the variation is played by only a few top players.



Black can also offer a poisoned pawn. In  this case the pawn is on g7.


The Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, offers a richer variation of play than the Najdorf. And it is played often.

The variation is triggered by the moves; 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4. Black has a number of ways to attempt to gain the upper hand.


USSR, 1965
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5!? 8.Qg3 Ne7 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qxh7 cxd4 11.Kd1 Bd7 12.Qh5+ Ng6 13.Ne2 Nc6 14.cxd4 O-O-O 15.g3

15…Ncxe5! 16.dxe5 Ba4 17.Ra2 d4 18.Bg5 d3 0-1

White gets even here.


Escalante-NM Adaar
Thematic Tournament – Winawer Variation, Round 2
chess.com, Aug.-Sept. 2018
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 (The usual route to the Winawer. All games in the tournament began with this position.) 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O (Some years ago Van der Tak wrote an article in NIC 8 titled, “Castling Into It?” where he explored Black’s kingside castling possibilities in the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, and if it was a viable option for Black. I don’t think the resulting positions favor Black.) 8.Bd3 (Thanks to GM Van der Tak, and his article, I am convinced this is best move for White.) 8…Nbc6 9.Nf3 cxd4?? (This loses the game in a hurry.)
10.Bxh7+! 1-0 [Black resigns due to 10…Kxh7 11.Qh5+ (stronger than the traditional Ng5+ as the potential escape square, g6, is denied to Black) 11…Kg8 12.Ng5 and White mates.]



The term “Poisoned Pawn”, in a more general term, can be defined as a pawn on the b2 or g7 square that is offered to the enemy queen to lure her out of defending her king or deflecting her to an irrelevant area of the board.


The term can be used in the general sense.

GM Bent Larsen-IM Bela Berger
Amsterdam Izt.
Netherlands, 1964
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 d5?! 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.O-O Bg4?! 7.Re1 Be7 (Not 7…f6? because of 8.Nxe5! and Black is in a lot of trouble,) 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nd4!? 10.Qg4!


11…O-O [Castling into the same area as the enemy queen is already attacking is usually not a good idea (see above). One has to think about self-preservation in addition to attacking factors. But in this case, Black is forced into it. White’s queen breaks in on both the center and kingside after 10…Nxc2 11.Rxe5 Nxa1 (hopeless is 11…Nf6 12.Qxg7 Kd7 13.Qxf7) 12.Qxg7 Rf8 13.Rxd5 Qc8 14.Qxh7 c6 15.Rf5. Even worse is 10…Bf6? The move is not only passive but it also loses a piece after 11.Qxd4. So Black has to risk it.] 11.Rxe5 Nf6 12.Qd1 (White has the extra pawn and better position.) 12…Bd6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Be3 c5 15.Nd2 Bc7 16.Nf3 Qd6 17.Bxd4 cxd4 18.Rxe8+ Rxe8 19.c3 dxc3 20.bxc3 Nh5 21.Qa4 Re7 22.Qxa7 Nf4 23.Qxb7 h5 24.Qc8+ Kh7 25.h4 1-0



Here, each side can offer their poisoned pawns, but don’t as they have nothing to compensate for their lost material. Material and and tempi are the requisites for giving up the pawn.


Ashraf Salimov-Vadim Razin
Ukraine U16 Ch., ½ Finals
Dnipropetrovsk, Nov. 11 2004
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Qb6 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.O-O Ba6 8.Re1 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Bc5 10.Be3 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 Rb8 12.b3 Ne7 13.Qc5 Nf5 14.g4 Nxe3 15.Qxe3 c5 16.Qg5 O-O 17.Nd2 Qb4 18.Nf1 f5 19.exf6 Rxf6 20.h3 Rbf8 21.Qe5 Rxf2 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.Qxa6 Qd4 24.Ne3 (24.Qe6 Rxf1+ 25.Kg2 Qf2+) 24…Qf4 25.Nf1 Qf3 (Black has too much pressure on White’s weak point and she has to concede the point.) 0-1

The French Problem

Many years ago. I was playing a tournament. Sometime between my morning game and afternoon game I met a young guy.


He was asking for help against the French Defence, saying he had a problem trying to figure it out so he could win as White.


He didn’t have a board or a set. I set up my pieces on my board so I can both see the moves. By the way, if you ever attend a tournament, ALWAYS bring a set with you. You want to show off you are making some investment in learning more about the game.


Anyway, I set up the board.



I then asked if he knew the Advanced Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5).



He said, “It’s been analyzed to death and the only way for White to try to gain an advantage was to play the Milner-Barry.” “But,” he continued, “White still loses”.


I don’t completely understand what he was trying to tell me. It sounded like he was repeating someone who knew the names of the variations, but little else. Maybe I’ll unravel it.


I figured we both have the time. Let’s keep the conversation going.



I replied, “Ok, how about the Classical Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5)?”


He answered me, “But it’s even more drawish than the Advanced Variation!”


“Ok. So what do you think of the Winawer (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4)?”


“Too much stuff to remember! And I don’t have the time to study all the lines.”


It turns out he didn’t want an improvement it the main lines. He wanted a brand-new way to counter 1.e4 e6.



I told him the French Defence got its name from a correspondence game between the cities of London and Paris in 1834.



London Chess Club-Paris Chess Club
corres. 1834
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.Qe2+ Be7 7.dxc5 O-O 8.Be3 Re8 9.Bb5 Nc6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.c3 Bxd4 13.cxd4 c5 14.Qd3 Qb6 15.O-O Ba6 16.Qb3 Qxb3 17.axb3 Bxf1 18.Kxf1 Ng4 19.dxc5 Nxe3+ 20.fxe3 Rxe3 21.Nd2 Rae8 22.b4 Rd3 23.Rxa7 Rxd2 24.b5 Rxb2 25.b6 d4 26.b7 d3 27.Ra8 Kf8 0-1



But the basic ideas go way back to Greco.



Rome, 1620?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bd3 Nc6 4.Nf3Be7 5.h4 O-O 6.e5 Nd5 7.Bxh7+! (yes, this famous sacrifice originated with Greco.) 7…Kxh7 8.Ng5+ Bxg5 9.hxg5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 f5 11.g6 Re8 12.Qh8mate 1-0



And I concluded, “To find a new way to combat the French may not be possible.”


“Please anything! Even if it might be bad for White. I want something to at least try.”


OK, the opened the door a little.


The Schlechter Variation is defined by the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3. White’s bishop gets an early start in the game. However, it can be almost immediately challenged by Black’s knight.


But let’s not get too far ahead. Black can quickly lose the game (which is what my friend wanted to hear) if he falters.



Nuremburg, 1893
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.e5! Nfd7 5.Nf3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.O-O f6 8.Re1 f5 9.Be3 c4?!(9…Be7, with the idea of 10…O-O is definitely better.) 10.Bc2 Be7 (Black plays this move a bit late and it doesn’t coordinate well with his previous move.) 11.b3 b5 12.a4 bxa4 13.bxc4 dxc4 14.d5 Ncxe5 15.dxe6 Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 Nb6 17.Qxf5 Bf6 [Black has serious problems here. If 17…Rf8, then 18.Qh5+ g6 19.Bxg6+ hxg6 (or 19…Rf7 20.Bxf7+ Kf8 21.Bh6#) 20.Qxg6+ Rf7 21.Qxf7#.] 18.Bc5 Bb7 19.Qg6+! hxg6 20.Bxg6mate 1-0


Vega Gutierrez (2236)-Korneev (1630)
La Laguna Open
Spain, May 6 2009
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 c5? 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qd6 6.Nb5 Qb6 7.Bf4 Na6 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Ne5 Qa5+ 10.c3 Nd5 11.Bg5 Qb6 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.Nd6+ Qxd6 14.Nxd7 Be7 15.dxc5 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Qxd3 17.Ne5+ b5 18.cxb6 1-0


Toronto, 1934
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 O-O 8.O-O Nc6 9.c3 (Seems solid and reasonable.) 9…e5?! (There are not too many games with this position. But even with lack of games, this move seems to weaken Black too much for further consideration by other French players.) 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Qc2 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Nbd2 Bb6 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.Ng3 g6 16.Bxg6 fxg6 17.Qxg6+ Kf8 18.Nh5 Qf7 19.Qxh6+ Ke7 20.Ng5 Qf5 21.Rad1 Bd7 22.Qd6+ Kd8 23.Ng7 Qg4 24.N5e6+ 1-0




But Black can equalize in the main line after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 Nc6.




Moscow, 1925
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.O-O Qc7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.Bg5!? (A move that may be slightly too aggressive.) 10…O-O-O 11.Qe2 e5 (ECO evaluates this position as equal. Personally, I think if any player has the advantage, it is Black.) 12.Be4 Bg4 13.Bxc6  Qxc6 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qxf3 16.gxf3 Bd4 17.Nd1 Rd6 18.c3 Bb6 19.Ne3 Nh5 20.Nf5 Rd3 21.Rad1 Rxf3 22.Nd6+ Kc7 23.Kg2 e4 24.Nxe4 Rf5 25.Be3 Re5 26.Ng3 Nxg3 27.Bxb6+ Kxb6 28.fxg3 Re2+ 29.Rf2 Rhe8 30.Rd2 1/2-1/2


Ruiz Sanchez (2455)-Gallego Alcaraz (2448)
Guillermo Garcia Elite
Santa Clara, Cuba, May 17 2017
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 c5 4.Nf3 dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.O-O Qc7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.a3?!  (A move that may be slightly too passive.) 10…a6 11.Ne4 Ba7 12.Qe1 Ng4 13.h3 h5 14.Qc3 Bd4 15.Qd2 f5 16.Neg5 Ba7 17.hxg4 hxg4 18.Qf4 Qxf4 19.Bxf4 gxf3 20.Nxf3 O-O-O 21.Rfe1 Rh5 22.Bc4 Rdh8 23.Kf1 g5 24.Bxg5 e5 25.Be3 e4 -/+ 26.Ng1 Bb8 27.f4 Rh2 28.b4 R8h4 29.g3 Rg4 30.Re2 Rh7 31.Bf2 Ne7 32.Rd1 Bc7 33.Red2 Bc6 34.Be6+ Kb8 35.Re1 Rh1 36.c4 Ba4 37.Re3 Bb6 38.c5 Bc7 39.Bd7 Bc6 40.Bxc6 bxc6 41.Rb3 Nd5 42.Re2 Kb7 43.Kg2 Rh7 44.Kf1 Rg6 45.a4 Nf6 46.b5 a5 47.b6 Bd8 48.Rd2 Nd5 49.Ne2 Bf6 50.Bd4 Bxd4 51.Rxd4 Rh1+ 52.Kf2 Rgh6 53.Rxd5 cxd5 54.Ke3 Rc6 55.Rb5 Rd1 56.Rxa5 d4+ 57.Kf2 Rd2 58.Ra7+ Kb8 59.a5 d3 60.Ke3 Rxe2+ 61.Kd4 d2 62.Kd5 Rxc5+ 0-1



Here’s a game which shows my suggestion to my friend is not so unique after all.



IM Yan Teplitsky instructed his women team competing in the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled to play this variation. Maybe there is something more about this opening.



Dina Kagramanov-Elenoara Ambrosi
Women’s Ol.
Bled, 2002
[IM Yan Teplitsky, “35th Chess Olympiad – Bled, Slovenia”, En Passant (Canada’s leading chess magazine), Apr. 2003]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 (A rare line that does not have a very good reputation.)3…dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bf3 c5 6.Ne2 Nc6 7.Be3 Qb6 8.b3 cxd4?![Now White gets to untangle her pieces. Much better is 8…Nxd4 (also for Black is to develop her queenside with 8…Bd7) 9.Nxd4 e5 10.Ne2 e4.] 9.Nxd4 Qa5+(While 9…Ne5 10.O-O Bc5 11.c3 Bd7 12.b4 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Bxd4 14.Bxd4 Qc6 15.Qg3 is just as bad for Black, here 9…Bc5 10.Nxc6 Bxe3 11.fxe3 bxc6 12.Kf2 led to comfortable position for Black in Sirlett-Benggawanm Bled ol f (2) 2002, from the same match.) 10.Qd2 Qxd2+ (A funny continuation is 10…Nxd4 11.Qxa5 Bb4+ but White can just recapture the knight.) 11.Nxd2


11…Nxd4?[Black is behind in development, and has a much better way of playing by depriving White of the bishop pair with 11…Ne5! 12.Nb5 Nxf3+ 13.Nxf3 Nd5 14.c4 (but not 14.Bxa7? Bd7 15.a4 Bxb5 16.axb5 Bc5 and Black wins.) 14…Nxe3 15.fxe3 Bb4+ and Black is better.]12.Bxd4 Bd6 13.Nc4 Be7 14.O-O O-O 15.Na5! Nd5 16.c4 Nb4?(Black now loses a pawn. Much better is 16…Bb4 although Black still isn’t happy after  17.cxd5 Bxa5 18.dxe6 fxe6 19.Rac1.)17.Nxb7 Nc2 18.Na5 Nxd4 19.Bxa8 Bd7 20.Rad1 e5 21.Bd5 Rb8 22.Rfe1 Bd6 23.Nb7 Bc7 24.Nc5 Bg4 25.f3 Bc8 26.Rxd4 1-0