The Amateur Eye

April 21, 2017

The 79th Tata Steel Masters was won by the American Wesley So who, for the lst time finished ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen.  While Wesley So ably took advantage of every chance, Magnus blundered in a winning position against Giri who held on to draw their game in a 100+move marathon.  Whether this slip and horrific long battle to manage a draw aids the field in any way is hard to guess.  But here I give the round by round results by both players for the 14 rounds.

Wesley So   D/D/D/D/D/D/D/W/D/W/W/W/W = 9 POINTS

M Carlsen   D/D/D/W/D/W/D/D/D/W/D/L/W  =  8 POINTS

The field included So, Carlsen, Baskaan, Aronian, Yi, Karjakin, Eljanov, Giri, Harikrishna, Andreikin, Wojtaszek, Nepomniachtchi, Rapport, vanWely.

Every game in a chess tournament effects standings but more; it reflects the tiny variances coming from decision making, reflective time used, and ranking at the moment where a chess result of w/d/l at any stage can turn a win, loss or draw– yielding an upheaval in the standings.

The Amateur Eye – Hold the Center

April 17, 2017

Wijk aan Zee  2017 was won by the American, Wesley So who stopped World Champ Magnus Carlsen’s run of lst place finishes in the Tata Steel events.

White:   Magnus Carlsen   Black:  Wei Yi    Opening:  Bishop’s Opening

l. e4  e5  2. Bc4  Nf6  3.  d3  This appears to be favored by Carlsen and modern theory. After 3. Nc3 we could run into the Alekhine era of old…N:e4 4. Qh5 Nd6 5. Bb3  Nc6  6. Nb5  g6 7. Qf3 f5  8. Qd5  Qf6 9. N:c7+ Kd8 10. N:a8 with sharp tactics covering a host of explosive articles on the ups and downs for both sides.

Carlsen chooses a more quiet line seen so often in this computer age of chess play.

3… c6  4. Nf3  d6

Black aims for a solid line but the aggressive 4…d5 is an alternative.

5. O-O  Be7  6. Bb3  O-O  7. c3  Nbd7  8. Re1  Nc5  9. Bc2  Bg4  10. Nbd2  Ne6  11. h3  Bh5  12. Nf1  Nd7  13. g4  Bg6  14. Ng3  Ng5  15. B:g5!

I like this move over 15. Kg2 as to how the game continued.

15… B:g5  16. d4  Bf4!  17. Ne2  Qf6  18. Kg2  e:d4?

Yielding the center to White is not correct.  He has 18….Rfe8. Perhaps he visions that the bishops are less pertinent than knights in rather closed compact formations.

19. Nf:d4  Rfe8  20. N:f4  Q:f4  21. f3  Nb6  22. Qc1  Q:c1  23. Ra:c1  d5   24. e5!

Carlsen sees a king-side pawn rollup coming.

24… Nd7  25. f4  B:c2  26. R:c2  Nc5  27. Re3  Rad8  28. Kf3  Ne4  29. b4

White builds on square count gaining minor but important threats arising.

29. … g5? 30.  c4  c5  31. Nb5!

Another inroad via square count.  White is superior in all directions.

31. … g:f4  32. K:f4  c:b4 33. c:d5  Black resigns.

Style and confidence play a major role in pressure chess which the above example attests.

Don’s Holy Easter Moments

April 16, 2017

You often times read my thoughts on the GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY.  Fortunately my only exhausted healing this day comes from the GOOD in life so I just will wish everyone a HAPPY EASTER!

The Amateur Eye – Beauty and the Beast

April 7, 2017

It comes with Caissa’s love when two put the game into a special aesthetic art seen at the conclusion where neither is a winner or loser but form a partnership like a painting that seems to live whenever it is looked upon and replayed.  Such is the game Boris Spassky launched with David Bronstein in the 28th USSR 1960 Championship Tournament.  The elegance seen in the rare King’s Gambit Accepted stirs the spirit of adventure and the thought of saying it as “Come hell and high water.”  In fact, the final moves were included in the movie, From Russia With Love.

White:  GM Boris Spassky   Black:  GM David Bronstein  Opening: King’s Gambit Accepted

l. e4  e5  2. f4  e:f4  3. Nf3  d5  4. e:d5  Bd6  5. Nc3  Ne7  6. d4  O-O  7. Bd3  Nd7

Bronstein had played this and had a write up with analysis in a Soviet chess magazine.

8.  O-O  h6  9. Ne4!

This is putting pressure in the black camp and fits the mode of square count as it brings the Knight to strike deep behind enemy lines.

9. … N:d5  10. c4  Ne3  11. B:e3  f:e3  12. c5  Be7  13. Bc2!

Spassky has cleverly kept his plan sedated until now which is to form a battery on the long diagonal.  Maybe Bronstein’s position calls for 13. … Nf3 but loses maybe a tempo by bringing the Rook to e8 where he might decide to go with Nf8 as follow-up and avoid exchanges.

13. … Re8  14. Qd3  e2!?

Now, one would expect 15. Rf2  as a normal reply but Spassky finds an electrifying shock treatment to rebuff black’s defense.

15. Nd6!!

Not only a power play, it causes Bronstein time on the clock.  He likely sees the futility of grabbing the Rook because the other Rook takes that square and the open lines all lead to the King and mate.

15. … Nf8  16. N:f7  e:f1 (Q)+  17. R:f1  Bf5  18. Q:f5  Qd7  19. Qf4!

Spassky refuses to let up the pressure.

19. … Bf6  20. N/3e5!

White is rupturing the square structure encampment.

20. … Qe7  21. Bb3  B:e5  22. N:e5+  Kh7  23. Qe4+  Resigns.

The perfect gentleman at the board and capacity of upholding the long heritage of a world champion line, one has to admire his sportsmanship qualities  and character.  After suffering the antics by Fischer, Spassky refused to obey and continued to play in defense of his title.  Perhaps he deserved better.  Still, he left Russia and settled in the West and will long be remembered as one of the greatest to play the game.




The Amateur Eye – A Chess Logic?!

April 3, 2017

Every essence of chess strategy comes close to a wisdom that chess is like life.  No one knows who invented the game that over hundreds of years saw manly tinkering with the geometric movement, strategy, rules and a collective thoughtful wisdom, much like a guiding hand, discovering our modern era with ever expanding  new ideas.

Chess journalists often tell we amateurs false comments based upon just a game or two in a tournament.  Such was the case of the 1997 Dos Hermanas where Karpov lost to Kramnik causing several to suggest that Karpov’s world championship level had given an impression that he was dead meat–obviously a falling star.  However, Karpov bounced back with this game against Shirov which left a few red faces among the predicts which may never be a prudent or wise use of a typewriter.

White:   GM Anatoly Karpov     Black:  GM Alexei Shirov   Opening:  KID

l. d4  Nf6  2. c4  g6 3. g3  Bg7  4. Bg2  O-O  5. Nc3  d6  6. Nf3  Nc6  7. O-O  a6  8. Re1  Rb8  9. Rb1  b5  10. c:b5 a:b5  11. b4  e6  12. e4  Ne7  13. Nd2  c5!?

This move may have been a homemade idea which appears to be a pawn sacrifice with aim to offset this by getting a Knight planted on d3 with active piece play.

14. b:c5  d:c5  15. d:c5  Nd7  16. N:b5  N:c5  17. Nc4  Nd3  18. Re2  Ba6.

On the surface black forces are dynamic but lets use my square count.  11/11 is equal but it is White’s move and he increase s/c with..

19. a4  N:c1  20. Q:c1  Rc8  21. Rc2  B:b5  22. a:b5  Qd4  23. b6  Rb8 24. Rd2  Qc5  25. Rd7  Bd4 26. Rc7!

A textbook example emerges to illustrate a perfect feature of s/c where the numerically superior army always win if free of blunders.

26. … B:f2+ 27. Kh1  Qh5  28. R:e7  B:g3  29. h3  Rbd8  30. e5  Qh4  31. Rc7 Bf2  32. Qa3  Resigns because mate is in the wind: 32. …g5 33. Qf3 h5  34. Rf1 Bg3  35. R:f7 etc.


Another era saw Monte Carlo, 1903.  During that period the concept and value of 1. d4 lacked excitement.  But the American champion who came to Europe much like Morphy had done gave the whole concept of the Queen Pawn Game new fervor.  Pillsbury’s style was principally to build up a K-side space advantage with White followed by an assault against the enemy monarch.  It was to become his trademark and in his hands it was a most feared weapon.   Many talents came to add their own flavor and ideas.

Perhaps the most famous game was Pillsbury versus Wolf.

l. d4  d5  2. c4  e6  3. Nc3  Nf6 4. Bg5  Nbd7  5. Nf3  Be7  6. e3  O-O 7. Rc1  b6  8. c:d5  e:d5  9. Ne5  Bb7  10. f4 a6  11. Bd3  c5  12. O-O  This is the Pillsbury Attack.

12. … c4  13. Bf5  b5  14. Rf3  Re8  15. Rh3! Already threatening to crash decisively into the black position…(16. N:d7 N:d7 17. B;h7+).

15. …g6  16. Bb1  Keeping the pressure on the long diagonal.

16. … N:e5  17. f:e5 Opening the f-file to further infiltration.

17. … Nd7 B:e7  18. B:e7  R:e7  19. Qf3!  Nf8  20. Rf1  Qd7  21. Qf6  b4?!  The weakness of this has let White get a strong Knight outpost on c5. Often an attack will force mistakes in judgment.

22. Na4! Qc7  23. Nc5  Bc8  24. Rh6  a5  25. Rf4  White recognizes the f4 square as a valuable “jump-off” rotating square. White s/c has multiplied.

25. … Rb8  26. B:g6!!  Rb6  27. Q:b6!  It is one shock after another.

27. … N:g6  28. Qf6  Re8  29. Rf1  Be6 30. Qg5  Kh8  31. Qh5  Nf8  32. N:e6  R:e6  33. R:e6 Black resigns.  Some pretty mates avoided within this sequence.

So long as the brain is wired within humans, great artistic aesthetics can be realized.  The electronic brains of machines I am afraid do not always produce the human touch and can often mute the genius that is the human spirit.–Don.

The Amateur Eye – A British Flavor!?

April 2, 2017

London has a rich history going back  to  the Staunton era.  Here we see the adventurous Julian Hodgson taking on John Emms in London 1992 in just one example of the spirited Trompowsky Opening.

l. d4  Nf6  2. Bg5  Ne4  3. h4!?  Certainly this is a square count mind-set move.

3. … c5  4. d5  d6  5. Qd3!?  Another example of utilizing the Q directly effecting mobility.

5. … Bf5 6. g4  Bg6  A sharp intrigue comes about  with 6…N:f2  7. Q:f5  N:h8 8. Qf3 with the idea of trapping the Knight .

7. h5  Qa5+ 8. Bd2  N:d2  9. Q:d2  Q:d2+  10. N:d2  B:c2 11. b3!  And both have chances for interesting chess play.

This variation (of which there are many in the Trompowsky) will hopefully trigger the desire to explore h4. I feel it leads to opening ideas where square count can play a role.  By exploring this theme in your own games and with home analysis and plenty of practice play, you should reap some rewards coming from a host of constructive work.

The Amateur Eye – Imprimis

March 31, 2017

Imprimis is the 3,600.000 Readers’ Monthly.  How to Think About Vladimir Putin is the March edition.  Christopher Caldwell, Senior Editor of the Weekly Standard essays an in-depth look into the Russian leader.  He pulls no punches but gives us a realist’s study of modern Russia and events leading to Putin’s rise to power in a Russian world gone mad from the good, the bad, and the ugly.

America looks at Russia in colored glasses.  Putin is a devil; he is evil.  That is the image made popular among the elite.  He doesn’t adhere to the socialist progressive mentality of the West. He is for many the popular leader of Russia.  He rebuilt the Russian military.  He beat back the Islamist armies in Chechnya and Dagestan, and he took a hard line on terrorism and immorality especially that aimed at Russian youth.  He recognized the long border of Russia and other European nations along it.

In the West, the elite mark him with suspicion; he has had people murdered or at least has done nothing to quell it.  News media has pointed out that several opposing Putin have been attacked and in some cases suspicion exists that he authorized murder of those who oppose him.  But have we any right to argue it?  Look at Chicago–the murder capitol of the USA and maybe the world.  Thousands get murdered every year.

What is in the human heart and psychic?  I know many criticize me I suppose for my Christian heritage and belief in the Bible and the Ten Commandments and love of my Lord.  An old Indian proverb says:  Judge not until you walk a mile in his or her moccasins.  That is wisdom! And you won’t see it as anything but corny within the walls of politicians anywhere, any time.  The constant backlash of hatred I’ve witnessed on the tube makes me wonder just what evil the Satanic powers possess to cloud the minds of reason, humor, joy, and ability to not go off the deep end and believe everything you get exposed to in this world THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY.   An old cowboy once said in a western:  Smile when you “heh” say “thet” stranger.

Peace be with you on this Easter season.  Learn from the Book of James.  God Bless Us All.

The Amateur Eye – In The News

March 29, 2017

Iran’s mouthpiece Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh the head of the Iranian Chess Federation has banned both Dorso Derakhshani, 18-year old from participating with the women chess team because she refuses to wear the hijab both at home and abroad.  She was seen while playing at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival and interviewed on the official news broadcast.  Her brother was also banned from playing because of his playing an Israeli opponent in the festival.

Pahlevanzadeh told the Fars News Agency that Iran’s national interests have priority over everything.  As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran.  And in the name of Iran, they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present as members of the Iranian national chess team.

This doesn’t fit in with FIDE’s “Gens una sumus” and all that.

Garry Kasparov is regularly in the news appearing on TV talk/news and testifying before the  US Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee as chairman of the Human Rights Foundation. And John Oliver linked him in with Putin and Trump on Last Week Tonight show.

Republican Iowa Congressman Steve King had the chutzpah to argue on CNN that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was not nearly as bad as his critics make him out to be, noting that he never murdered one of his prominent critics, namely a certain Garry Kasparov.

Despite their being political enemies, it seems that during the latter’s knuckleduster and polonium tea-serving  KGB years, the Russian president to be was a big Kasparov fan in Steven Lee Myers’ new book, The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. In it he describes the first K-K match (1984) where all the KGB cadre rooted for Karpov and felt that Kasparov was a dangerous upstart.  Little Volodzy (Putin’s nickname) showed a dangerous sympathy for Kasparov. Putin relished his eventual victory and was not afraid to say so.

When asked about this, Kasparov said it might be true but he doubts it because Putin could have acknowledged that to him.  It could be just another way of trying to portray Putin as being for the underdog.  Maybe the whole story is contrived.  Agree?  Disagree? Who really knows or maybe even cares.

39th Marchand Open – April 1-2, 2017

March 27, 2017

Place:  Strong National Museum of Play  One Mahattan Square Park, Rochester, NY 14607.

Guaranteed Prize Fund $16,440.00 plus 150 Grand Prix Points

5 – Round  Swiss System   Time Control: G-115 min. w/5 second delay

You only play others in your elected section.  All sections are USCF-rated.

Call the Rochester Chess Center/ Ron Lohrman (585) 442-2430  for details or go on line at

Free parking; no smoking anywhere on Strong Museum campus.


The Amateur Eye – NY State 1938 Championship Tournament

March 27, 2017

The championship traditionally held in small cities  or townships was richly regarded for the climate and serenity having a country atmosphere.  Players wanted it that way.  They came to enjoy a holiday away from city life where chess could be played without distractions of busy streets and noisy crowds.

This event was held at Cazenovia Seminary Junior College in Cazenovia, August 6-12.  It was comprised of the closed championship, the Genesee Cup County Team Contest and open class sections for  A-B-C groups.

The closed field list included (order of finish) l. Arnold Denker,(NYC) 2. Tony Santasiere (NYC) 3. Donald MacMurray (NYC) 4. Jack Collins (Brooklyn) 5. H.D. Grossman (NYC) 6-8 Herman Helms/ Joseph Platz (NYC)/ Walter Murdock Jr. (Cazenovia)  9. Erich Marchand  (Clayton, Mo.) 10. L.H. Bryant (Binghamton) A tight race between Denker and Santasiere finish was 7.5-.5, a loss to Santasiere and draw with Grossman.  Santasiere was undefeated but yielded 4 draws.

Other results:

Genesee Cup County Team:  Onondaga 13.5-6.5 / Monroe 12.5-7.5 / Broome 12-8 / Schenectady 10-10 / Oneida 9-11 / Madison 3-17.

Class A Boris Garfinkel of Buffalo / Class B Eldorous Dayton of New Rochelle / Class C Marvin Sable of Syracuse.

At the business meeting, it was decided to hold the 1939 event at the Colgate University in Hamilton.

Some games with notes by S.S. Cohen.  (My sq/ct theory was not known.)

A. S. Denker  versus E. Marchand  QGD.

l. P-Q4  P-Q4  2. N-KB3  N-KB3  3. P-B4  P-B3  (Marchand later wrote a booklet on the Slav Defense) 4. P-K3 P-K3 5. N-B3 QN-Q2  6. B-Q3  B-Q3 7. O-O  O-O  8. P-K4  P:BP 9. B:P  P-K4

Black must have intended to arrive a this position when he played 6…B-Q3.  On the surface it looks reasonably “solid”, but a close examination will reveal that it is one of those dynamic positions in which White’s superior development and mobility must give him the upper hand.

10. B-KN5  Q-K2  11. R-K1 R-Q1  12. P-Q5 (This fine move gives White a dynamic position and space.)

12… N-N3 13. B-N3  B-KN5  14. Q-Q3  B-N5  15. QR-Q1  R-Q3  16. P-QR3  B-QR4  17. B-R2  KB:N  18. Q:B  QR-Q1  19. P-R3  N-R5

To save a Pawn, Black must give up his remaining Bishop. The object of the N move is to force White to retake with the KNP.  However, this is just how he would recapture anyway.

20. Q-N4  B:N  21. P:B  N-N3  22. P-B4  P-KR3  23. B-R4  BP:P  24. KP:P  P-KN4  25. P:KP  R/3Q2 26. P-Q6  Q-B1  27. B-KN3  N-R4  28. P-K6 P:P  29. R:P Resigns.