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10/31/99 - Happy Halloween

I won a very unusual game at the Knoxville Chess Club on Wednesday night by moving only pawns!

NN-Bereolos, Blitz 1999

1. c4 e5 2. g3 c6 3. Nc3 d5 4. b3 d4 5. Ne4 f5 0-1

This game had to be published because of the universal rule that all games lasting less than 10 moves must be published worldwide 8-). Of course the all pawn strategy is probably not to be generally recommended, here's a case where it blew up in Black's face

[Event "The Living Legend"]
[Site "Chatanooga"]
[Date "1996"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Bereolos, Peter"]
[Black "Kade, Jim"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C39"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 g3 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qh5+ Kf6 8.Qg5+ 1-0

Ironically, black could have kept the pawn strategy viable on move 5 with either ...d6 or ...h5 although the latter has a dubious reputation. The King's Gambit Accepted is an opening with plenty of early pawn play by Black in alot of variations. Here's a game where Black starts with 6 consecutive pawn moves. Of course, in the old days we would have expected to see Spassky on the White side.

[Event "It (open)"]
[Site "Somerset (USA)"]
[Date "1986.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Popovic"]
[Black "Spassky Boris V"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C34"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng1 f3 7.Be3 Be7 8.Bf2 Nf6 9.gxf3 Rg8 10.Bg2 Nc6 11.Nc3 gxf3 12.Bxf3 Ng4 13.Qd2 Bf8 14.Bxg4 Bxg4 15.Nge2 f5 16.exf5 Qf6 17.Be3 Qxf5 18.O-O-O O-O-O 19.Rdf1 Qa5 20.Rf4 Bxe2 21.Qxe2 Bh6 22.Re4 d5 23.Rg4 Rge8 24.Rg3 Rxe3 25.Rxe3 Qb4 26.Kb1 Bxe3 27.Qxe3 Qxd4 28.Qe6+ Kb8 29.Qf7 h6 30.Qh5 Qe5 31.Qxh6 d4 32.Nd1 Qe4 33.Rh3 Nb4 34.Qd2 d3 35.cxd3 Qe6 36.Qg5 Kc8 37.Re3 Qxa2+ 38.Kc1 Nxd3+ 39.Kc2 Nb4+ 0-1

So far the record I can remember for consecutive pawn moves to start a game with Black by a GM comes from the ever inventive Alexi Shirov. Can anyone find a longer one?

[Site "Linares (Spain)"]
[Date "1993.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Gelfand Boris"]
[Black "Shirov Alexei"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A13"]

1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3 c6 4.b3 a5 5.Bb2 a4 6.Bg2 a3 7.Bc3 b5 8.c5 Nf6 9.b4 Ne4 10.O-O Nxc3 11.Nxc3 d4 12.Ne4 f5

Certainly an unusual position for a game between two supergrandmasters. After 12 moves Black has made 9 pawn moves and moved his knight 3 times to trade it off, but doesn't stand too badly.

13.Neg5 Be7 14.h4 Bf6 15.Qb3 Qd5 16.Qb1 h6 17.Nh3 e5 18.e3 dxe3 19.dxe3 Ra4 20.Nd4 Qd7 21.Nc2 O-O 22.e4 f4 23.Qb3+ Qf7 24.Qxf7+ Rxf7 25.Rfd1 f3 26.Bf1 g5 27.Rd3 g4 28.Kh2 Rd7 29.Rad1 Rxd3 30.Rxd3 Be6 31.Rd6 Kf7 32.Bxb5 cxb5 33.Rb6 Na6 34.c6 Bxa2 35.Rxb5 Bb1 36.Rb7+ Ke6 37.Nxa3 Rxa3 38.b5 Bxe4 39.Ra7 gxh3 0-1
10/25/99 - Fear and Loathing of the Petroff's Defense

Despite Garry Kasparov's rampage through Linares early this year with the Sicilian Defense, it seems like many of the top players have decided to play for draws with the Black pieces against 1.e4. Vladimir Kramnik, the former hero of sharp lines like the Sveshnikov and Rauzer Sicilians, started the trend awhile back by adopting the Petroff's Defense as his primary weapon against e4. The plague continues unchecked, with Jan Timman seeming to be the latest champion of 2...Nf6. In the recently concluded VAM tournament (1-2. Judit Polgar and Timman with 3.5/6, 3. Karpov 3/4, 4. Sadvakasov 2/4) the Petroff's struck again with Karpov adopting it against Polgar and Timman against Sadvakasov. Both were "successful" and achieved draws. Sadvakasov showed Timman the primary problem of playing the Petroff against someone 200 rating points below you when he trotted out the famous 5.Qe2 'with microscopic advantage to white' line. Judit went so far as to play 2.d4 against Timman. I think we need more heroes like Nigel Short to bash these guys with 2.f4. Bring back fighting chess!!


10/24/99 - Check it out now, funk soul brother

A brief musical interlude while waiting for Garry Kasparov's comments on his internet battle with The World (GK has won the game). Justin Daniels sent me an unusual Kasparov ballad. It's a RealAudio file. Like Justin, I'm really not sure what to make of it. It seems that Kasparov inspires this kind of stuff, check out this Dutch opera based on a Kasparov game. Maybe I'm uncultured, but I prefer Murray Head singing One Night in Bangkok to all this stuff. Where can I find an audio file of that song?


10/21/99 - We are the World

It looks like 58...Qf5 has been buried by analysis, so all the Irina fanatics can finally shut up. Word is that GK himself has declared that 56...d5 was the losing move. This makes me feel alot better about my vote on move 56 (see 10/8/99 and 10/11/99).


10/19/99 - Who is Keyser Soze?

Hi, back after a few days due to some glitch with tripod. I see that MIG reports on the Club Kasparov page that the lineup for Hoogovens in January is Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik, Morozevich, Adams, Short, Khalifman, Polgar, Korchnoi, Nikolic, Timman, Van Wely, Piket, Lputian. I'm glad to see that some of the usual suspects like Topalov, Ivanchuk, and Svidler are missing so some other players get a chance. If it was up to me I would have liked to also see Shirov, Leko, and Akopian maybe instead of Korchnoi and some of the Dutch players, but I guess you do need to have the locals. I would also replace Nikolic with Sokolov since Sokolov is the only player to beat Kasparov in a regular game this year.

The Kasparov-World game should end shortly, the vote in favor of resigning was almost 33%. It will be very interesting to hear Kasparov's comments on the game. There are hints that the much criticized 58...Qe4 was not the losing move and that 58...Qf5 would have lost all the same. I haven't seen any new analysis of 58...Qf5 since it lost the vote, but it is not hard to believe that if after a natural move like 58...Qe4, Black is lost, then Black's mistake may have come earlier. I never really liked letting White's queen take up a centralized position, so maybe 56...d5 was the losing move.


10/16/99 - We could be heroes, just for one day

Well, the posting of this page's address on the MSN BB generated some traffic I gots hits and/or email from all over including exotic places like the Netherlands and Arkansas. Hopefully, they will keep coming back! Unfortunately, my resource of 69...Qa8 did not save things for the World. The main variation runs 70. Ke5 Qa5+ 71. Kf6 Qb6+ 72. Qe6 Qd8+ 73. Kg6 and queens next. Oh, well, at least it showed that there are still lines to investigate.

I voted for 59...Kc2 on the current move. It doesn't look like it makes much difference since the consensus is Kasparov will play 60. Qf2+ next move. Looks like Irina Krush and the GM School have given up. That's too bad, I think that even if the position is lost, White's winning methods are very instructive and good commentary would really help people to learn and improve. That's what I thought one of the main points of this game was.

Hopefully, the movement for 59...Qe1 will not gather much support. Like I said, I think there is still alot to be learned in this ending. If people don't want to play anymore they should just walk away like Irina did and let the rest of us enjoy the winning method.


10/15/99 - Long variation, wrong variation

As expected the MSN strategy board has degenerated into whining, conspiracy theories, etc. I find very little new chess content. I tried to post a couple of ideas, but they don't seem to be making it through, so I'll just post them here and leave it to the rest of you to spread the good word about this page.

Here is one improvement on the analysis being offered by Krush&Co. 59. Qg1+ Kb2 60. Qf2+ Ka1 61. Kf6 d4 62. 62.g7 Qc6+ 63.Kg5 Qd5+ 64.Qf5 Qg2+ 65.Kf6 Qc6+ 66.Qe6 Qf3+ 67.Ke7 Qb7+ 68.Qd7 Qe4+ 69.Kd6 and now instead of the moves 69...Qe4+ and 69...Qg6+ as analyzed by Irina, I propose 69...Qa8. It seems intuitively wrong to move the queen to the corner, but the move has several points: 1. the White g-pawn is stopped 2. White is prevented from giving checks with his Queen along the a-file (or anywhere else). 3. Black is ready to start giving checks again from different angles.

Hopefully, the bad apples who are proposing stuffing the ballot with illegal moves or resigning are a small minority and this game will continue towards the truth. This ending is still incredibly complex and giving up now is just sour grapes on the part of people whose move didn't get voted for. I must admit, however, that resigning in a drawn position might be the ultimate tribute to Gary Kasparov 8-)

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One of my posts finally got through to the MS BBS. And it has even generated some chess discussion! The following variation was posted as a refutation of 69...Qa8:

70. Ke5 Qb8+ 71. Qd6 Qb5+ 72. Qd5 Qb8+ 73. Kf5 Qb1+ 74. Kf6 Qf1+ 75. Ke7 Qe2+ 76. Kd8 d3 77. g8=Q Kb2 78. Qgf7 +/-

I think Black does better at the start with 70...Qa5+ which keeps an eye on the potential checking squares c7, e1, and b6. Glad to see a few people are still interested in the chess. I think there may also be improvements before move 69. Keep the faith.


10/14/99 - Where's Waldo?

I voted for 58...Qe4 centralizing the Black queen and forcing the well placed White queen to move. This move also seems to be the most consistent in conjunction with 56...d5. I imagine this move will cause a brouhaha on the message boards again, especially since there was no recommendation on this move from Irina. There was some analysis at the GM school against 58...Qe4 in favor of 58...Qf5. I saw some problems with some of their analysis, especially that they seem to want to push the d-pawn at any opportunity. Although letting the white pawn get to the 7th rank is not necessarily fatal in Q+P endings, I think it is playing with fire, so Black should try to stay active with checks and pins to stop the pawn from advancing further. Here's one improvement on a line from the GM school. 58...Qe4 59. Qg1+ Kb2 60. Qf2+ Ka1 (probably Ka3 is better here, but that is another discussion) 61. Kh6 Qh1+ 62. Kg5 and now instead of the absurd 62...d4? which loses outright to 63. Qxd4+, Black can continue checking with 62...Qc1+ which I evaluate as equal.

I also voted to offer a draw. Over the board this would be improper etiquette since Kasparov is the only one with winning chances here, so it is his place to offer it. However, because of the unusual nature of this event, I don't think it is improper to get our draw offer out on the table. I'd be interested in getting postal players opinions on this type of situation.

Finally, a comment about annotations in the ending. Generally, annotations are somewhat of an art form with different annotators giving different evaluations of moves and positions. Most of this can be thought of as expert opinion. However, in the endgame, especially "simple" endgames, like the one Kasparov-World is currently in, things become more scientific. I believe in the following system of annotations, which I believe was introduced by GM John Nunn in Secrets of Rook Endings:

! - the only move to secure a win or the only move to maintain a draw

? - a move that converts a winning position to a drawn position or a move that converts a drawn position to a lost position

?? - a move that converts a winning position to a lost position.

I don't feel that there should be evaluations such as ?! and !? in these types of ending. I will allow for the very rare !! in cases like Shirov's breathtaking ...Bh3!! against Topalov.

Furthermore, there should only be 3 position evaluations +/-, -/+, or =. Other evaluations such as +/=, =/-, or the ever-popular unclear are just cop-outs by the annotator. I am very skeptical of any annotations I see in this ending that contain ?!, !?, or unclear. I think an annotator should make a stand and then be willing to change it based on improved analysis. That's something I give Irina alot of credit for during this game. From move to move, she has been willing to change her recommendations instead of dogmatically sticking to earlier analysis. That approach can also be criticized, but I think the search for truth is the most important thing.


10/13/99 - The Chess Struggle in Practice

The availability of endgame tablebases will allow both sides to play perfect chess in the Kasparov-World game once the game has 5 pieces or less. However, over the board one cannot consult with such programs so mistakes will be made. My own experience in the ending of Q+NP vs. Q stems from the much discussed game Bereolos-Mikuta Indiana State Team Championship 1992. Les Kistler annotated the game in depth in the July 1992 issue of Chess in Indiana. He also wrote a companion article on queen and pawn endings. I'll introduce it here and add a little over the next few days. Here is the position after 67...Kxb3

We were in the sudden death phase (and this was back in the days of no incremental clocks). I thought that Black would have difficulties holding because of his lack of time. In general this type of ending is drawn, especially since Black's queen is well centralized. However, thanks to the relative positions of the kings Black has problems. His King can't cross to the 4th rank because White has Qe4/f4/g4 pinning and winning and White can also maneuver to exchange on e3 or f2. With this in mind, I could have won easily with 68. Qe6+! Kb2 69. Qe2+! Ka1 70. Qf1+ and 71. Qf2+ exchanging queens, instead the game continued

68. Qb1+? Ka3 69. Qc1+ and now Black could hold with 69...Ka2. Instead, he played 69...Kb3? which allowed 70. Qe3+ exchanging queens and winning on the spot 1-0

Don't forget: Blitz tournament tonight at the Knoxville Chess Club. See you there.


10/12/99 - A little late

I was late getting my vote in for move 57. I would have voted 57...Kb1 since I agree with the analysts that it could be dangerous putting the king on the same diagonal that White is making a new queen on. However 57...Ka2 does have some points. For example in the variation 57...Kb1 58. g6 Qe4 then White repositions his queen with tempo via 59. Qg1+ Ka2 60. Qf2+ followed by 61. Kf7 and 62. g7 so there still could be some danger for the world team. IM Georgi Orlov still thinks White has some winning chances.

Skimming through Averbakh's Queen & Pawn Endings last night, it was very interesting to note that one of the key things for White to do in winning the Q+g pawn vs. Q ending is to put his Queen on d4! Of course Black's d-pawn gives some more resources.


10/11/99 - Passed Pawns Must Be Pushed

I guess the world didn't like my move 56...Qe3 opting overwhelmingly for the analysts' recommendation 56...d5. Either move is fine, I really didn't like letting Kasparov blockade the pawn with 57. Qd4+.

I found a good Ulf Andersson tribute at a Swedish site. I think the game is constructed (look at the date and remember Europeans write it day then month). But the game is pure Ulf, well done to the authors!


10/8/99 - What Would Irina Do?

As expected, The Boss ate the World's b-pawn. Still not much to worry about in holding, though. I'm going with the flow this move and voting for 55...Qf3+ with the idea of after 56.Kg7 to play 56...Qe3 attacking the g-pawn taking control of the d4 and f4 squares to keep White's queen off of them and gaining access to the e7, e5 and a7 squares to prepare perpetual chess.

I was asked if this is an Irina Krush bashing page. The answer is no, I'm an equal opportunity basher! All kidding aside, I think it is very good for chess to have a strong, young, American, female player. That's lots of adjectives for the media to latch on to, and that kind of media attention can only help to popularize our great game. As far as this game goes, I think some of Irina's analysis has been a little soft on alternatives to her recommended moves. Part of that may be the format, the analyst has only a short period of time and wants to promote his or her move. Still, chess analysis should be about seeking the truth in the position. I'm not sure I see that in some of Irina's commentary.

On another note, for the 4th year in a row I get 3 blacks and 2 whites in the Knoxville City Championship. What's up with that? Must be what I get for complaining about club dues every year.


10/7/99 - A Krushing blow to the world's hopes

Well, the World overwhelmingly voted for the pawn push 54...b4, which Kasparov can simply take 55. Qxb4. Of course the World still maintains drawing chances, but the World's winning chances are now absolutely 100% non-existant. It will be interesting to read Garry's post-game comments about this move.

I got real annoyed at some of the postings on the MSN message board along the lines of "we have to play 54...b4 to repair the blunders on the last few moves." I take "blunders" to mean "moves not recommended by Irina Krush" since if 54...b4 is a draw, then the last few moves weren't blunders. Unless of course these people think that Black had winning chances after 51...Ka1 52. Qxb7. Which they might think since apparently they think a draw is a "win" for the World.


10/6/99 - Early morning Q+P ending musings

I voted for 54...Qd3 guarding both pawns and preparing Qc3+ followed by Qc7+. This seems to put more of a burden on Kasparov in lines like 55. g6 Qc3+ 56. Kf7 Qc7+ 57. Kf8 Qb8+ 58. Kg7 b4 when are b-pawn still gives us activity and we are not just hanging it!

I still don't understand the attitude that making a draw is some sort of victory for the world so we should try to steer towards it by sacrificing the b-pawn. It seems to me that in most of the lines where a pawn interferes with things that it is the d-pawn and not the b-pawn, so I don't see that giving up our best trump (the b-pawn) really helps things.

One thing I'm pretty sure about on this move is that there will be further accusations of ballot stuffing.


10/4/99 - A new hope

The Kasparov-World game has entered a queen ending. There seems to be alot of finger pointing right now and not alot of analysis going on. Alot of people on the MS BB seem to advocate trying to sacrifice both pawns and reaching a position that has been "solved" by database programs. I think the world should keep the pawns and maintain winning chances if GK messes up. Most of the good analysis I've seen shows many ways to draw for both sides. If you're tired of the MSN BB try the one at Khalifman's GM School.

I voted for 51...b5 maintaining the extra Black pawn. I guess I don't have enough talent for a move like 51...Ka1. I voted for 53...Ka3 trying to bring the King closer to the pawns for both shelter and to help them advance. Obviously this was a very weak move since it didn't even reach the top 5. The deep move 53...Qe2 was 4th in the voting although how Black would proceed after 54 Qxe2+ is not very clear.

Speaking of database programs, the online interface seems to be working again. My question for those in the know about these programs is are they adaptable to a distributed engine? I envision something like SETI@home or distributed.net for generating 6 piece and higher solutions. This is certainly as noble a persuit compared to looking for aliens, cracking codes, or finding the next prime number.

I'm also trying to determine the Ulf Andersson immortal game. Send me suggestions, here's one against a pretty good player (maybe you've heard of him)

[Event "It"]
[Site "Milan (Italy)"]
[Date "1975.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Karpov Anatoly"]
[Black "Andersson Ulf"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B44"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Nf6 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 Be7 9.Be2 O-O 10.O-O b6 11.Be3 Bb7 12.Rc1 Re8 13.Qb3 Nd7 14.Rfd1 Rc8 15.Rd2 Qc7 16.Qd1 Qb8 17.f3 Ba8 18.Qf1 Nce5 19.Nab1 Nf6 20.Kh1 h6 21.Rdd1 Bf8 22.Nd2 Rcd8 23.Qf2 Ned7 24.a3 d5 25.cxd5 exd5 26.exd5 Bd6 27.Nf1 Rxe3 28.Nxe3 Bxh2 29.Nf1 Bf4 30.Rc2 b5 31.Bd3 Nb6 32.Be4 Nc4 33.a4 Re8 34.axb5 axb5 35.Re2 Be5 36.Qc5 Nd6 37.Na2 Ndxe4 38.fxe4 Bd6 39.Qc2 Re5 40.g3 Qe8 41.Rde1 Bb7 42.Kg1 Nh7 43.Nc1 Ng5 44.Nd2 Bb4 45.Kf2 Bxd2 46.Rxd2 Nxe4+ 47.Rxe4 Rxe4 48.Ne2 Bc8 49.Nc3 Re1 50.Ne2 Ra1 51.Rd4 Qd8 52.Qc6 Bd7 53.Qd6 Qe8 54.Qf4 Qc8 55.b4 Bh3 56.Qe4 Bf5 57.Qe3 Qc2 58.g4 Bd7 59.Qe4 Qb3 60.Qd3 Qb2 61.Qe4 Ra8 62.Qe3 Ra2 63.d6 Ra8 64.Re4 Bc6 65.Qd4 Qb1 66.Re7 Qh1 67.Qf4 Qg2+ 68.Ke1 Ra1+ 69.Kd2 Qd5+ 70.Qd4 Ra2+ 71.Kc3 Qf3+ 72.Re3 Ra3+ 73.Kd2 Ra2+ 74.Ke1 Qh1+ 75.Kf2 Qg2+ 76.Ke1 Qh1+ 77.Kf2 Ra1 78.Rc3 Qg2+ 79.Ke3 Qf3+ 0-1

My next online project will be to upload all of my games vs. GMs and hopefully start to annotate some of them.