Archive for August, 2009

Kindred’s Special: Eaten Any Liver Lately?

August 19, 2009

The correspondence star Jon Edwards examines in a revisit to an ancient opening first witnessed in a recorded game from 1610 between Giulio Polerio against Domenico D’Arminio, Rome. In those days, Italy was a powerful chess center.

The name is as sizzling as the gambit that comes out of the Two Knights Defense, thus: 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bc4  Nf6 4.Ng5  eying the f7 square which I covered as an inherent weakness in one of my earlier lesson columns.  Continue here with 4…d5  5.exd5  Nxd5?!  The normal recommended moves here are 5…Nd4 or 5….Na5 and the reckless Uhlestad 5…b5.  The text allows the entry into a wild and wooley attack called: The Fried Liver.

6.Nxf7!!  Kxf7  7.Qf3+  Ke6  8.Nc3.

So far as the above mentioned game developed with 8…Nce7  9.d4! c6 10.Bg5  h6  11.Bxe7  Bxe7 12.O-O-O Rf8  13.Qe4  Rxf2  14.dxe5  Bg5+ 15.Kb1  Rd2  16.h4  Rxd1+ 17.Rxd1  Bxh4  18.Nxd5  cxd5  19.Rxd5  Qg5  20.Rd6+ Ke7  21.Rg6 Qd2  22.Rxg7+ Kf8  23.Rg8+ Ke7 24.Qh7 Checkmate.

The famous Russian opening specialist Y. Estrin suggested instead of retreating the Knight to e7 to instead defend the Knight on d5 with the risky looking  8…Ncb5 and concluded that White has 9.a3 with advantage but it was shown to peter out after 9…Nc2+ 10.Kd1  Nd4 to either a perpetual check or about an even ending.

A few scholastic games recorded tried the interesting 9.O-O!  and Edwards spent lots of time examining this idea and his story and conclusion is given in his excellent article in Chess Life, pages 32-34.

9…c6  10.d4  Kd6.

This is a move recommended by the American player, Pinkus, whom Estrin credited and gives only 11.dxe5+Kc7 12.Rd1 Be6 13.a3  Qh4.

The new move here (if any move is ever really new) 11.Ne4! is hard to answer satisfactorily. The principle here is to sustain central development and pressure. Note my theme on square-count fits this move decision for what it is worth.

At this point I close the discussion and refer those interested to the full article by Edwards in Chess Life.

In conclusion, I would like to point out that this whole line is not entirely forced because White also has The Lolli variation which begins with 6.d4  Be6 7.Nxe6 fxe6 8.dxe5 Nxe5 which is another flip of the coin to try.  Despite the brilliant effort of Jon Edwards who notes in his story a tremendous exertion and time spent on a rarely tried line in the Two Knights Defense trying to find the truth of the whole concept of the Liver. As chessplayers we must all be grateful for the stimulating investigation by this fine cc player and American chess star and also to Dr. Jeremy Adelman who, with or for his sons, brought the suggestion of 9.O-O to the attention of Jon Edwards that found life in the pages of Chess Life!

KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Foxwood No More

August 17, 2009

The final call to abandon the popular Foxwood Open after 11 successful and well organized and run tournaments is sad. The reason of course is MONEY where the gamblers felt that the event did not merit continued encouragement to do battle on the 64 squares by raising both their hotel rates and rent for the facilities. Never mind the world class publicity given the events over the years and attraction of players from far and wide.

Noteworthy is the finish of this great event and here are the top winning chessmen who will live in glory forever and ever by braving the challenges that make chess the game of KINGS!

lst Yury Shulman and Darmen Sadvakasov 7.5 pts. OPEN.

lst Under 2100: Jonathan Corbblah, Furqan Tanwir, Evgeny Shver 6.  pts.

lst Under 1900: Keenan Olson, Yuval Shemesh, Matthew McCuistion   6. pts.

lst Under 1700: Christopher Gu 6.5 pts.

lst Under 1500: Abiye Williams 6.5 pts.

lst Under 1300:  Kola Adeyemi 6.5 pts.

lst Under 1000:  James Taggert, Jenny Ma  6. pts.

A memorable event was the IM and GM elect success of Robert Hess who emerged from the event with the cherished title all aspire to who work hard to achieve mastery of this Noble Game.

Here is a bit of chess display by the lst place winner, GM Darmen Sadvakasov (2618) vs IM Samuel Shankland (2464), 7th Round: Sicilian Defense, Keres Attack (B81).

l.e4  c5  2.Nf3  d6  3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nf6  5.Nc3  a6  6.Be3  e6  7.g4 Nc6  8.g5  Nd7  9.h4  Be7  10.Qd2  O-O  11.O-O-O  Nxd4  12.Bxd4  b5  13.Kb1  Bb7  14.a3  Bc6  15.Rg1  Qc7  16.h5  Ne5  17.Rg3  Rab8  18.f4.

Apparently computer analysis likes 18.h6 as best.

18…Nc4  19.Bxc4  bxc4  20.Nd5.

This sharp move is White’s hold card in playing 18.f4.

20. … exd5?

Personally I think Black would be better off taking with the Bishop with followup likely being 21.exd5 e5 22.fxe5 dxe5 23.Bc3 Bxa3 where counterplay is essential to combat White’s strong attack on the Kingside. White is under the gun, too! Now, Black goes completely astray losing the essentials of the position.

21.Bxg7  Rb5 ?  22.Bc3  Qb6?  23.a4   dxe4  24.axb5  axb5  25.g6 Black resigns (1-0).

Lots of fireworks and Foxy play in that battle!

Kindred’s Special: Challenging more Principles

August 6, 2009

We are told in no uncertain terms that one should rarely think of developing the Queen early in the game. In the following game played in the recent Chicago Open, GM Jaan Ehlvest topped the field and demonstrates that, given the circumstances, an early Queen sortie especially in rather unusual positions definitely raises the temperature of a titanic struggle on the 64.

White: GM Jaan Ehlvest      versus     Black:  GM Alexander Shabalov

                                        English Opening, Irregular

1.c4  b6!?

This ultra-sharp idea is a cornerstone of Shabalov’s style. Historically speaking 1…e5,  1…Nf6, 1…g6 or 1…c5 are commonly played to open the play for Black.  Such a choice almost dictates the deployment of the Bishop along the h1-a8 diagonal and permits White to conjure up a remedy to prove its position to be compromised somewhat.

2.Nc3  Bb7  3.e4  e6  4.d3  Bb4.

Here, the former US Champ ignores Emmanuel Lasker’s advice to develop Knights before Bishops–or at least one Knight.


A bit out of the ordinary in an original set up. Perhaps Black was taken by surprise with such a sally that seems as the game goes is not bad at all.

5…Qf6  6.Nge2  Qg6  7.Qh3  Ne7  8.a3  Bxc3+  9.Nxc3  f5.

This is often played in the black setup where 1…b6 is essayed. Ehlvest now decides to suggest to his opponent an Q-exchange that leaves him with the two-bishops and endgame edge.

10.Qg3  Qxg3  11.hxg3  Nbc6  12.Be3  O-O-O  13.O-O-O  h6  14.f3  d5.

Black strikes the center with support of the pawn by the Bishop.

15.cxd5  exd5  16.Bf2  Rhf8  17.exf5  d4.

A mistake would be 17…Nxf5 due to 18.d4 when White will enjoy pressure on the King-side with hopes of some Rook action by Rh5 in the future. Of course, 18…Rfe8 19.g4 Ne3 20.Bxe3 Rxe3 would eliminate the bishop pair. Kind of complex for you maybe but suffice it to say that the chances would be similar as that of the game.

18.Ne4  Nxf5  19.Re1  Na5  20.g4  Nd6  21.Nd2  c5  22.Rh5  Rf7  23.Bg3  Kd7  24.b3.

White’s solid play makes it difficult for Black to find a plan that offers winnable chances while keeping fairly level.

24. … Re8  25.Rxe8  Nxe8  26.b4  Nf6?

This turns out badly in the end. I would play following my square-count theory 16…cxb5  17.axb5  Nc6 and if 18.b5 Nb4>Nd5. At least he has those a/b pawns vs. the White b-pawn and active Knight placement along with a tactical shot after 18.Nb3 Bxf3!!

27.Rh1  cxb4  28.axb4  Nc6  29.b5  Nd8.

Now the idea of …Nb4 is no good because White wins the d-pawn after 30.Nb3.

30.Nc4  Re7  31.Nd6  Ke6  32.Nf5  Rd7  33.Bf2 Ke5  34.Be2  g6  35.Bg3+ Kd5!

Setting a little trap that on 36.Rxh6 gxf5  37.Rxf6 fxg4  38.fxg4 Kc5 leaving the White pawn structure weakened.

36.Nxh6  Kc5  37.Kd2  Ne6  38.Be5  Nd5  39.Ng8  Nef4  40.Nf6  Nxf6  41.Bxf4  Nd5  42.Be5  Nc3  43.Rh6  Kxb5  44.Rxg6  Nxe2  45.Kxe2  a5  46.Rg7  Rxg7  47.Bxg7.

Here is another feature when discussing principles. Often you read that the Bs/opposite colors increases drawing chances.  Not so in this instance as Ehlvest recognizes that the peculiar ending reached is, in fact, a winning position for him.

47…Kc5  48.g5  Kd5  49.g6  b5  50.Bf6  Bc8  51.Bd8  a4  52.g7  Be6  53.Be7  Bg8  54.g4  Ke5  55.Kf2  Ke6  56.Bf8  Kf6  57.f4 Bd5  58.Bc5 Kxg7  59.Bxd4+ Kg6  60.Bc5  Bb3  61.d4  Bd1  62.Kg3  Black resigns.  (1-0).

Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: A Lesson from Nakamura, US Champion!

August 4, 2009

Young Hikaru Nakamura won the US Championship for the 2nd time. The young Grandmaster also was right on with his comments about the state of chess in America over the decades. Most interesting was his comparison of players from past US championships to those today voicing that those from the past did not have the competition of today and just the expansion of major events and large cash prizes made the depth of quality entries likely never to experience another US Champion winning every game as Fischer had done.

Who is Kris Littlejohn? He is a friend and confidant of the US Champ. More importantly he is Nakamura’s reliance for opening preparation and training methods they have merged as one mind so-to-speak. The fact that Littlejohn’s rating is only master class has no bearing on the quality of his talent. Afterall, I am the one who actually plays the game and his input is valuable and respected.  Can it be that having  close respect and compatibility with your training partner is more important than to select someone who might not be of like mind?

Kindred’s Special: August Chess Life

August 4, 2009

Readers often know I like to tweak the nose occasionally of the booboos USCF officials make. I just got the August issue of Chess Life and I have to say kudos to the editoral staff and writers for a splendid issue. This is not always the case. I must say there were some really neat games, analysis, pictures–all material creating a “gem” of chess for the month.  The one shortcoming I saw was the little game that GM William Lombardy won.  I would have thought the game that Lombardy (white) defeated Ken Rogoff in the US Championship would have been the ideal feature of his play. Rogoff finished 2nd due to this loss. Had he defeated Lombardy he would have been US Champion. And if he drew, he would tie Walter Brown who repeated as US Champion. My salient point is that Bill Lombardy won a splendid game that featured a “cool” pawn sac!  The important thing is that this game Lombardy-Rogoff was a classic battle and had a significant role in the history of American chess. Giving Lombardy a write-up was long overdue but the wrong game was used to illustrate his greatness.

KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Rain, Rain, Go AWAY!

August 4, 2009

News Flash, Louisville, KY, 6.5 inches of rain fell in one hour with more rains battering the windows of the Mayor’s coop as he views the scene. Ha. Global Warming?? It is more in tune with preludes to a major mini-ice age, sorry to say. Want to Bet? Sorry, I don’t bet especially on a sure thing. I don’t want to empty your wallet or purse. Oh, unless Al Gore wants to go for a few pennies but, then again, he doesn’t carry any cash on him.  He has no pockets big enough for all the billions he is reaping.  He doesn’t get this right anymore than he got claiming he discovered the internet. Sure he did. He turned on his own PC or maybe used the one at the public library.