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Nuking the Najdorf with Negi

October 20th, 2016 11 comments

Anton Visser – Anthony Waller
Correspondence, 2015-16

We always enjoy hearing success stories from our readers. One such message came in last week from Anton Visser, who tested Parimarjan Negi’s repertoire against the Najdorf in a correspondence game. Anton’s verdict on Negi’s analysis is that it was “better than the computer my opponent used.” Here is the game:

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.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Ne4 h6 13.Bh4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 15.Qe3 Qxe5 16.Be2 Bc5 17.Bg3 Bxd4 18.Rxd4 Qa5+ 19.Rd2 0–0 20.Bd6 Rd8
We are deep into one of the crazy main lines of the Poisoned Pawn. Parimarjan (or “Pari”, as we call him) analyses it in Chapter 15 of 1.e4 vs the Sicilian I.

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Gibraltar 2016 – Authors in Action

February 5th, 2016 2 comments

GM Gawain Jones had a great result at the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, which finished yesterday. Gawain scored 7.5/10, in a tie for 3rd, half a point behind Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave. Gawain’s final-round game was with Black against Yu Yangyi, a 2747-rated 1.e4 player. Fortunately, Gawain has a Dragon repertoire he can trust.

I will give that game below, but another QC author at Gib was IM Marc Esserman, who played his favourite 1.e4 against both Nigel Short and Vishy Anand. Short played the French and lost, while Anand’s 1…c5 was of course met by 2.d4, but after 2…cxd4 3.c3 Anand avoided any Mayhem in the Morra with 3…Nf6, and drew. Great results for Marc, but I was looking forward to a Nd5 piece sac (they’re everywhere in the Morra).

On the topic of QC repertoires, Victor’s Mikhalevski’s recommended line in The Open Spanish remains popular at the highest level, with the likes of Mamedyarov, Giri, So, and Wei Yi playing it with solid results. Ding Liren even used it to draw against Magnus Carlsen at the recent Wijk aan Zee event, though he did need to hold rook versus rook-and-bishop. It may lack the glamour of the Dragon or Morra, but the Open Spanish is a great choice if you want to keep out elite opposition.

 

White: Yu Yangyi (2747) Black: Gawain Jones (2625)
Gibraltar Masters (10.5) 04.02.2016

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6
Showing his faith in the Dragon.

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Still Playing the Trompowsky

January 28th, 2016 4 comments

My attention was drawn to IM Andy Martin’s choice of BCM Game of the Month for February 2016. That’s a link to a YouTube video of Andy going through the game – I haven’t had time to watch the video yet. But what’s this got to do with Quality Chess? The game uses, with devastating effect, a novelty IM Richard Pert suggested in Playing the Trompowsky.

White: IM Nigel Povah Black: Pavel Asenov

4NCL Division 2, Birmingham, 23.01.2016

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 3.d5 Qb6 4.Nc3 Qxb2 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.e4 e5 7.f4 d6 8.Rb1
Pert’s move order was 8.Nf3, transposing to this game after 8…Nbd7 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Rb1.

8…Qc7 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.Nf3 Nbd7 11.Nb5 Qb8
Quite possibly Asenov was still in his “prep” as this line was recommended for Black by Dembo in “Fighting the Anti-King’s Indians”, as Richard mentioned. IM Nigel Povah has been playing the Trompowsky consistently for at least 20 years, so it is unlikely that the promising young English player playing Black was surprised by the choice of opening.

11…Qb6 is safer.

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When computers fail to play good chess

November 20th, 2015 20 comments

The Top Chess Engine Championship is ongoing. The final is not surprisingly Stockfish against Komodo. As I write, round 58 is under way. Komodo is leading with four wins against one.

It can be viewed here: http://tcec.chessdom.com/live.php

In an earlier round (22), something that is hard to explain happened. Stockfish had a winning position and misplayed it! Gone is the illusion that “you have to be a computer to win this”, or at least it has been augmented a bit.

On top of this there was something to feed conspiracy theories. Here is what a source close to the match said:

“After 53.b6 the online broadcast stopped. The reason it stopped was a technical glitch. There are
two computers running the TCEC event: a 24-core machine runs the engines, and the tournament program cutechess-cli, a webserver. The game playing machine had a problem uploading the pgn file to the webserver (that’s my assessment of what happened). The live broadcast went offline in a position which seemed like an easy win for SF (sf was showing +7 and komodo was also showing a high score). Then the game was drawn; offline…and out of view.”

Indeed Stockfish did mess up a winning position, which led to some Stockfish fans to conclude that there was foul play involved. I enjoy the sound of “computer cheating in computer tournament” or “human cheats in computer tournament” or whatever the Daily Mail will be able to make out of it, looking for another scandal in chess to write about. (Recently an English player changed to Wales – for the second time in his life – and somehow this was seen as a major scandal in chess, while no one had actually noticed, or had cared once they did notice… Best of luck to Nigel of course, but that it should be a scandal is hard to understand.)

To me the most interesting to me is the question, “Why did Stockfish mess up?”, not “Did the Knights Templar hide the descendent of Christ?” or whatever…

Here is the position.

TCEC Season 8 – Superfinal http://tcec.chessdom.com (22), 11.11.2015

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Nbd2 c5 6.e4 cxd4 7.e5 Ng4 8.h3 Nh6 9.Bg2 Nc6 10.0–0 Be7 11.Qa4 Bb7 12.Nxd4 Nxd4 13.Bxb7 Rb8 14.Be4 Qc7 15.Qd1 Nhf5 16.Re1 Qxe5 17.Nb3 Rd8 18.Bf4 Qf6 19.Qd3 Bc5 20.Rad1 Nxb3 21.axb3 Nd4 22.Kg2 Nc6 23.h4 a5 24.Qe2 Qe7 25.Qh5 g6 26.Qf3 Nd4 27.Qc3 Qf6 28.Bd5 Bb4 29.Qd3 0–0 30.Be5 Qf5 31.Qxd4 Bxe1 32.Rxe1 d6 33.Bf6 e5 34.Qxb6 Qxf6 35.Qxa5 Kh8 36.b4 g5 37.Rh1 gxh4 38.Rxh4 Qg6 39.Qa3 f5 40.Qf3 Qg7 41.b5 Rb8 42.b4 Rf6 43.Rh5 Qg6 44.Qe2 f4 45.Be4 Qg7 46.Qf3 Rh6 47.Rxh6 Qxh6 48.Qe2 fxg3 49.fxg3 Qg5 50.c5 Rg8 51.Qe1 dxc5 52.bxc5 Rd8 53.b6 Rd2+ 54.Kg1 Qd8 55.Qe3 Rb2 56.Bf3 Rb1+ 57.Kg2 Rb2+ 58.Kh3 Qf6 59.b7 Qe6+ 60.g4 h5 61.c6 hxg4+ 62.Bxg4 Qd6 63.Bf5 Qf6

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“Study-like”

November 17th, 2015 2 comments

I played a couple of games of chess last weekend in the first rounds of the 4ncl in Birmingham. This is newsworthy because, before this, my most recent competitive game was the final round of last season’s 4ncl, six months ago. My inactivity is due, in part, to being busy with work, including nearing a finish to a Playing 1.e4 book.

Through bad luck of the draw, my opponent on Saturday was IM Sam Collins of Ireland. I say bad luck, because when I make a 600-mile round trip from Glasgow to Birmingham, I would rather play someone I haven’t played before, not an old friend. I will just show the end of the game, though analysing the earlier parts of the rook ending could fill a book.

John Shaw – Sam Collins

4ncl 14.11.2015

50.Ra8
A small crowd had gathered as this was one of the last games to finish. I later learned one of the spectators thought I had put my rook en prise to the black pawn. Which way are the pawns going?

50…Rc2
A sneaky try to block the a-file using a check on c6 first.
The simple approach allows White to draw by a tempo. For example: 50…Kb3 51.h6 Kb2 52.h7 a1Q 53.Rxa1 Kxa1 54.Kg7 b5 55.g5 b4 56.g6 b3 57.h8Q Rxh8 58.Kxh8 b2 59.g7 b1Q Not a check. 60.g8Q=

51.Rxa2
This felt like an only move, and is the most practical choice, but allowing the black pawn to queen would also draw, as my tandem get close enough to prevent Black making progress.

51.g5 Rc6+ 52.Kh7 Ra6 53.Rxa6 bxa6 54.g6 a1Q 55.g7= (55.h6=) 55…Qb1+ 56.Kh6! Qc1+ 57.Kh7 Qc2+ 58.Kh6 Qd2+ 59.Kh7 Qd3+ 60.Kh6 Qe3+ 61.Kh7 Qe4+ 62.Kh6 Qf4+ 63.Kh7 Qf5+ 64.Kh6 Qf6+ 65.Kh7 A set-up to remember: Black cannot win. 65…Qf7 66.h6 (Even 66.Kh6 works. 66…Qg8 67.Kg6 Kc5 68.h6=) 66…Kc5 67.Kh8 Qf6 68.Kh7=

Or similarly: 51.h6=

51…Rxa2 52.h6 Kc5

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Nigel Short Lecture

October 9th, 2015 15 comments

Short-lecture

We had four days of very interesting lectures from former challenger Nigel Short on attacking chess. It was simply exceptional. One participant described it as the most enjoyable 15 hours in his chess career. In one game Nigel showed us how he self-forked his pieces. It seems he was a bad influence on himself:

Alon Greenfeld – Nigel Short
Isle of Man 07.10.2015

“I won by forking my own pieces today? Even if nobody else benefited from my talks, I certainly have!” Nigel Short sent this message after his splendid lectures in Edinburgh Chess Club last week.

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4 Bg4 4.g3 f6 5.Bg2 e5 6.0–0 Nd7 7.Qb3 a5 8.e3 dxe3 9.fxe3 axb4 10.d4 Be6 11.Bb2 Nh6 12.dxe5 fxe5 13.Nbd2 Nf7
The opening had not gone very well for White, but after this Greenfeld finds a way back into the game.

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Negi, Wei Yi and the Poisoned Pawn

September 22nd, 2015 1 comment

Rising Chinese star (and future World Champion?) Wei Yi is now in the last 8 of the World Cup after beating his compatriot Ding Liren.

In the last 32, Wei Yi had faced Alexander Areshchenko. The Ukrainian GM has a fixed repertoire: Grünfeld against 1.d4 and Najdorf against 1.e4. So where would the 2734-rated youngster seek his chances with White? Answer: By following a Negi suggestion against the Najdorf from his GM Repertoire 1.e4 vs. The Sicilian

Wei Yi (2734) – Alexander Areshchenko (2661)
FIDE World Cup 18.09.2015

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2
The Poisoned Pawn is Areshchenko’s usual choice.

9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 h6 11.Bh4 dxe5 12.fxe5 g5 13.exf6 gxh4 14.Be2 Qa5 15.0–0 Nd7 16.Rbd1
“Rare but potent” was Negi’s description. Later adding: “I find it staggering that this move has only been played in four games.”
Negi also covered the usual 16.Kh1.

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Petrosian on the Younger Generation by Danny McGowan

April 22nd, 2015 14 comments

While working on Python Strategy by Tigran Petrosian (excerpt here), I especially enjoyed reading his opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of other players. The ‘younger generation’ players alluded to in the title, namely Jan Timman, Zoltan Ribli and Ulf Andersson, were all born in 1951 and all went on to have hugely successful chess careers – and indeed all still play to a high level to this day. Petrosian made his comments in 1973 as the players were rising through the ranks. Timman was an International Master at the time, while Andersson and Ribli had been awarded the Grandmaster title in 1972 and 1973 respectively. It is interesting to compare Petrosian’s contemporary assessment of the trio with those we may hold now. So without further ado, I will hand you over to Petrosian:

I would particularly like to discuss the play of Timman, Ribli and Andersson. The Swede Andersson, the Dutchman Timman and the Hungarian Ribli are among the leading young players who will undoubtedly put pressure on the older generation in the next few years. And whenever I come together with them, there is something I would like to know. When we give up our place in the chess sun to the young talents, will it be because our play has changed for the worse on account of our age? Or will those who begin to surpass us be chessplayers who have risen to a new, higher level of mastery?

Ulf Andersson: small and slight, in outward appearance he seems more like a child who has strayed into the hall looking for a simultaneous display than a fully-fledged competitor in the main tournament. I somehow feel sorry for him. He crazily trails from tournament to tournament, and the easy opportunity to lead the life of a modern chess professional (who fortunately is not overburdened with worries about every crust of bread, unlike the professional of the not too distant past) has already left a grave imprint on his manner of play and his tournament psychology. In his games you rarely, very rarely see him aspiring to a full-blooded struggle. “Safety first” is not a motto before which chessplayers in such young years ought to bow. It leads to nothing good. And yet Andersson is capable of simply playing well. He possesses positional understanding, a keen eye for tactics, and vast theoretical knowledge to go with a well-worn tournament repertoire. In a word, all the signs of a top-class player are present. And at the same time – there are all the signs of creative stagnation.

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