Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lasker - Chigorin, Hastings 1895

Many of Mikhail Chigorin’s ideas were well ohead of his time, and were not fully appreciated for another half-century. It was his misfortune to be surpassed in his own era first by Steinitz and, later, Lasker. Here he shows the superiority of Knights over Bishops in a closed position.

Lasker – Chigorin
Hastings 1895

D07 QUEEN’S GAMBIT DECLINED, Chigorin’s Defense

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Bg4 3. c4 Bxf3 4. gxf3 Nc6 5. Nc3 e6 6. e3 Bb4

By transposition, we have reached one of the main lines of Chigorin’s Defense (the usual move order is 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nf3 Bg4). Foreshadowing the ideas of Reti and Gruenfeld a generation later, Black pits rapid development and active piece play against White’s pawn center and two Bishops.

7. cxd5 Qxd5 8. Bd2 Bxc3 9. bxc3 Nge7 10. Rg1 Qh5 11. Qb3

Of course not 11. Rxg7? Ng6, trapping the Rook.

11. ... Nd8 12. Qb5+

Exchanging Queens reduces the danger to the uncastled White King, but the Black Knights will be very active.

12. ... Qxb5 13. Bxb5+ c6 14. Bd3 Ng6 15. f4 0-0 16. Ke2 Rc8 17. Rg3 c5 18. Rag1 c4

A surprising and strong idea. Black foregoes prressure on the center pawns to obtain a pawn majority on the Queenside and use of the light squares for his Knights.

19. Bc2 f5 20. Bc1 Rf7 21. Ba3 Rc6 22. Bc5 Ra6 23. a4 Nc6 24. Rb1 Rd7 25. Rgg1 Nge7 26. Rb2 Nd5 27. Kd2 Ra5

Threatening 28. ... Nxf4 followed by 29. ... Rxc5, which White meets by a counterattack on the b7 pawn.

28. Rgb1 b6 29. Ba3 g6 30. Rb5 Ra6 31. Bc1 Nd8 32. Ra1 Nf7 33. Rbb1 Nd6 34. f3 Nf7 35. Ra3 g5 36. Ke2 gxf4 37. e4 Nf6 38. Bxf4 Nh5 39. Be3 f4


An echo of the maneuver at move 18 — now Black will use his Knights on the dark squares (d6 or e5).

40. Bf2 Ra5 41. Rg1+ Kf8 42. Raa1 e5 43. Rab1 Ng7 44. Rb4 Rc7 45. Bb1

Apparently hoping to win the c4 pawn, but this fails tactically. White should maintain the position and await developments.

45. ... Ne6 46. Rd1 Ned8 47. Rd2 Nc6 48. Rb5

Not 48. Rxc4? Nd6, winning the Exchange. Perhaps White thought he could undermine the Black Knights, but Black strikes first.

48. ... Rxa4 49. dxe5 Nfxe5 50. Bh4 Rg7 51. Kf2 Rg6 52. Rdd5 Ra1 53. Bd8 Nd3+ 54. Bxd3

Neither 54. Ke2 (... Rg2+ 55. Kf1 Rb7) nor 54. Kf1 (... Ncb4 55. cxb4 Rxb1+ 56. Ke2 Rg2 mate) was any better.

54. ... cxd3 55. Rxd3 Rag1 56. Rf5+ Ke8 57. Bg5

Or 57. Rxf4 R6g2+ 58. Ke3 Re1 mate.

57. ... R6xg5, White resigns

Friday, November 21, 2008


There are some rules in which when you say it matters as much as what.

Touch-move: A claim that your opponent touched one piece but moved another must be made before you make another move (10J). In fact, it must be made “before deliberately touching a pieces” (i.e., touching a piece with the evident intention of moving it). Claiming after the game that your opponent violated the touch-move rule is a waste of time. The most you’re going to get, even if the TD believes you, is a warning to your opponent on the order of “You didn’t do anything wrong and I’ll be watching to make sure you don’t do it again.” Which won’t do you much good.

Winning on time: A surprising number of players do not understand this, perhaps because of the cancer growth of sudden death. In order to claim a win on time in a non-sudden death time control, a player must have a “reasonably complete” scoresheet, defined as one that has “no more than three missing or incomplete move pairs,” at the time the flag is called (13C7). Moves filled in after the flag fall do not count (13C3). It’s worth noting that you can’t get around this by waiting to call the flag until after you’ve filled in your scoresheet, since the opponent may “call his own flag” by pointing out to a TD (or spectator) that his flag is down and your scoresheet is incomplete.

Possibly a clearer way to explain the “reasonably complete” rule is this: the TD must be able to play through the game – without you standing there telling him what you scribble means – and reach a position that’s within three moves of what’s on the board, without any illegible or impossible moves earlier in the game.

The "FIDE time forfeit procedure" is another matter. If this is announced, a TD will watch all games in time pressure, count the moves, and forfeit a player who exceeds the time limit. This is used in many round-robin events, but USCF rules require that if it is used for any games, it must be used for all games without exception. For obvious reasons, very few people try to use it in large Swisses.

Draw? The “correct” way to offer a draw is to make your move, offer the draw, and press your clock. What happens if you don’t do it that way?

1) If you offer a draw while your opponent is thinking, he may accept the draw, decline the draw, make a move (which amounts to declining), or complain to the TD that you are distracting him. This is just bad manners.

2) If you offer a draw before making your move, your opponent may a) accept, b) decline, or c) ask to see your move before deciding. The offer cannot be withdrawn, period (14B3). Making an offer this way is unlikely to annoy the opponent, but it’s, well, dumb. If only because he could also say nothing and wait for you to either make a move or lose on time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rosenthal – Steinitz, Vienna 1873

Steinitz began the era of scientific play, as his games and writings demonstrated that games were won or lost for objective reasons. Here he provides a (then startling) example of the proper use two Bishops against a Bishop and Knight.

Rosenthal – Steinitz
Vienna, 1873


1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 g6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nge7 7. Bc4 d6 8. 0-0 0-0 9. f4 Na5 10. Bd3 d5 11. exd5 Nxd5 12. Nxd5 Qxd5 13. c3 Rd8 14. Qc2 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Qxc4 16. Qf2 c5 17. Nf3 b6

Black deprives the Knight of support squares in the center, and the Be3 “bites on granite.” Black has a clear advantage.

18. Ne5 Qe6 19. Qf3 Ba6 20. Rfe1 f6


If the Knight had a secure central square ... but it hasn’t, and it’s not going to get one.

21. Ng4 h5 22. Nf2 Qf7 23. f5 g5 24. Rad1 Bb7 25. Qg3 Rd5 26. Rxd5 Qxd5 27. Rd1

White can’t defend the f5 pawn with 27. Qh3 because of 27. ... g4.

27. ... Qxf5 28. Qc7 Bd5 29. b3 Re8 30. c4 Bf7 31. Bc1 Re2 32. Rf1 Qc2 33. Qg3 Qxa2, White resigns

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Matchego - Falkbeer, London 1869

In playing over these old games, it is best not to ask too many questions about the defender’s play — the gap between master and amateur was often enormous — but relax and enjoy the tragicomic plight of the White King, as he is driven across the board and mated with his pieces still at home.

Matchego – Falkbeer
London, 1869


1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ne5 Nf6 6. Nc3

White’s set-up (known as the Kieseritsky Gambit) is acceptable — he can recover either the g5 or f5 pawn — but he should now play 6. d4, to answer 6. ... d6 with 7. Nd3.

6. ... d6 7. Nc4 Be7 8. d4 Nh5 9. Be2 Bxh4+ 10. Kd2 Qg5 11. Kd3 Nc6 12. a3 Bf2 13. Nd5 Bxd4 14. Nxc7+ Kd8 15. Nd5

The alternative 15. Nxa8 is no worse than the game, but it runs into something like 15. ... d5 16. exd5 Bf5+ 17. Kd2 f3+ 18. Ke1 f2+ 19. Kf1 Ng3 mate.

15. ... f5 16. Nxd6 fxe4+ 17. Kc4

Instead, 17. Kxe4 Ng3+ 18. Kd3 Qxd5 loses routinely.


17. ... Qxd5+! 18. Kxd5 Nf6+ 19. Kc4 Be6+ 20. Kb5 a6+ 21. Ka4 b5+ 22. Nxb5 axb5+ 23. Kxb5 Ra5+ 24. Kxc6 Bd5+ 25. Kd6 Ne8 mate

Monday, November 3, 2008

Los Angeles Open final

The 2008 Los Angeles Open, held at the LAX Hilton from October 31 to November 2, ended in a 4-way tie at 4-1 among GMs Rogelio Antonio and Melisket Khachiyan, IM Entico Sevillano, and master Jeol Banawa. Only Banawa suffered a defeat, losing to Antonio in round 2. In the Amateur (U2000) section, Bobby Hall took clear first with 4½-½. Both sections of the 40-player Halloween Scholastics produced perfect scores, with Ishan Bose-Pine taking the Open and Ankur Gupta the Reserve. Dan Alvira swept the Hexes with 3-0. Complete standings are available at

Gregg Small - IM Enrico Sevillano [A13]

Los Angeles Open, Los Angeles 2008

1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxc4 Bc6 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.b3 Bd6 9.Bb2 0–0 10.d3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 Ne5 12.Bxe5 Bxe5 13.Nc3 Nd5 14.Bxd5 exd5 15.Qc5 c6 16.Rac1 Qf6 17.Nb1 Rfe8 18.Qc2 Re6 19.Nd2 Rae8 20.e3 h5 21.d4 Bd6 22.h4 g5 23.hxg5 Qxg5 24.Nf3 Qg4 25.Nh4 Rf6 26.Rce1 Re4 27.Ng2 h4 28.Qe2 Qg6 29.gxh4 Rxh4 30.f4 Qg3 31.Rf3 Qh2+ 32.Kf2 Rg6 33.Rg1 Rhg4 34.Kf1 f5 35.Qc2 Qh5 36.Rf2 Rg3 37.Qe2 Qh2 38.Qd3 Qh3 39.Qc2 Rxe3 0–1

Barry Lazarus - David Minasyan [B45]

Los Angeles Open, Los Angeles 2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 Bb4 7.Nd6+ Ke7 8.Nxc8+ Rxc8 9.Bd2 Re8 10.Bd3 Kf8 11.0–0 d5 12.exd5 exd5 13.Bf5 Rc7 14.Nb5 Rce7 15.c3 Bc5 16.Bf4 Re2 17.b4 Bb6 18.Nd6 R8e7 19.Nxb7 Bxf2+ 20.Rxf2 Re1+ 21.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 22.Rxe1 Qb6 23.Nc5 a5 24.Bd6+ 24...Kg8 25.Rfe2 g6 26.Bc2 axb4 27.Kh1 bxc3 28.Re8+ 1–0

Prize Winners

1st-4th: GM Rogelio Antonio, GM Melikset Khachiyan, IM Enrico Sevillano, Joel Banawa, 4-1; 5th: Gregg Small, 3½-1½; 1st-2nd U2200: Takashi Kurosaki, Yuliya Cardona, 3½-½; 3rd U2200: Tianyi He, Joshua Gutman, Giovanni Carreto, Richard Ding, Michael Brown, 3-2.

1st: Bobby Hall, 4½-½; 2nd-3rd: Barry Lazarus, Konstantin Kavutskiy, 4-1; 1st U1800: Ariel Gerardo, 4-1; 2nd U1800: Ernesto Soto, 3½-1½; 3rd U1800: Jeffrey Ding, Ryan Polsky, Bill Conrad, Anna Karapetyan, Ron Morris, 3-2; 1st U1600: Daniel Mousseri, 3-2; 2nd-3rd U1600: David Minasyan, Alvin Huang, Carla Naylor, Numa Abdul-Mujeeb, 2½-2½; U1400: Beverly Woolsey, Chadi Hamwi, Armen Sarkissian, 2-3; U1200: Michael Tornabane, Robert Bryan Martin, 1-4.

Scholastic Open
Ishan Bose-Pine, 5-0; 2nd: Kyle Huang, 4-1; 3rd-4th: Darren Leung, Albert Lu, 3½-1½; 5th: Happy Ullman, 3-2.

Scholastic Reserve
1st: Ankur Gupta, 5-0; 2nd-3rd: Hovanes Salvaryan, Benjamin Allins, 4-1; 4th-5th: Sridhar Madala, Jonathan Naylor, 3-2.
Hexes: Daniel Alvira, 3-0.

Photos: Last-round matchups featured Khachiyan-Sevillano on Board 1 (top) and Faber-Antonio on Board 2 (bottom).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Los Angeles Open

Despite a disappointing turnout, the 2008 Los Angeles Open attracted a powerful field of two GMs and three IMs. After two rounds, the five were tied for first at 2-0. Complete standings will be available throughout the weekend at

GM Melikset Khachiyan - IM Andranik Matikozyan [B45]
Los Angeles Open (3), 01.11.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Ndb5 Bb4 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 d5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Bd3 d4 11.Ne2 0–0 12.0–0 Qd5 13.Nf4 Qd6 14.Nh5 Nd5 15.Qf3 Re8 16.Bd2 Bd7 17.Rfe1 a6 18.Bc4 Be6 19.Re4 b5 20.Bd3 Nde7 21.Nxg7 Kxg7 22.Bh6+ 1–0