The following game was given to me by Rudy Blumenfeld, who requested that I help him submit it to Informant. I’m still figuring out how to add the informant symbols to a document, but in the meantime I thought I would share it with you my dear readers. It’s in a very popular system against the slav with g3 a la catalan. Admittedly, Black goes terribly wrong, early, but the game is extremely instructive in my opinion for how white can maximize his use of the light squares in this topical line.
Together with Steffen Zeuthen, the late Bent Larsen authored this enterprising book, which adopts an academic approach to an opening system which can be played with both colors.ZOOM 001: Zero hour for operative opening models
The so-called ZOOM 001 model, is the grunfeld defense, played with either color, no matter what the opponent attempts to play. Surprisingly, this turns out to be entirely viable and often transposes into many other openings. The book begins with an introduction that reads like the back of a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle. “The basic theme is: Pressure against d4! Please do not forget that!” The first few pages are bullet points- all of which begin with “ZOOM 001 is…” For instance: “ZOOM 001 is a minimax system- once you have grasped the basic ideas your chess becomes powerful, logical, coherent, flexible, dynamic, – well, funny.”
“ZOOM 001 is a masterfile for thinking. ZOOM 001 is pattern-recognition.”
Then we are told that “Chess is by nature a game built on communication – a language marked by aggression – a discussion.”
The book argues that the basic structures of the Caro Kann, Scandinavian, Alekhine’s defense, and French defense all overlap in the ZOOM 001 system.
“And in the Alekhine defense you will find many of the Grunfeld ideas repeated. It is rather interesting to know that the Grunfeld Indian Defense was born in the 20′s – and so was Alekhine’s defense! – and both GMs were very pleased playing each other’s defense!! A provocative defense – interchangeable ideas – A LANGUAGE – a way of thinking, a powerful way of discussing!!!”
That’s not a typo, it’s a triple exclam. The whole book reads like something hastily written by someone high on stimulants. It’s perhaps the most hilariously bombastic text I have ever read that manages to actually make some coherent points here and there. It breaks up the opening “patterns” into 8 “sub-models,” lettered A-H, and offers a massive game collection ordered accordingly, with the first half being ZOOM 001 with black and second half ZOOM 001 with white. By choosing this approach, the authors hope to leave behind previous opening names which seek to hide the fact that many identical positions appear in the ECO under different codes, and instead focus simply on recurring patterns and themes. There is no question that the half of the book dedicated to the Grunfeld with black is an interesting, if out-dated game collection. Nor is there any doubt that the simple 1.d4, 2.Nf3, 3.g3 opening is entirely playable. But I have to say, if the Grunfeld has the reputation of being a fighting defense, full of vigor, piece activity, and interesting counter-attacking lines- than the same system with white seems a bit stilted, a little less dynamic. In any case, Larsen loved to play stilted systems with white- such as his 1.b3/english/reti/KIA systems, so it comes as no surprise to see his name on the cover of a book that advocates such a solid if simple setup for white. Honestly, I have to say the book is a fantastic game collection and I would recommend picking up a copy if you find one somewhere that isn’t insanely overpriced.
The 4th annual NY International started with a major upset on board one, with top seed Harikrishna surprisingly losing his game to Alex Ostrovsky. The game was a tense Ruy Lopez, where white maintained the tension in the center and emerged from complications with a clear winning plan of pushing his central pawns.
Left, Harikrishna ponders his position.
Shabalov on board two won his first game as expected.
I recently attended a lecture by IM Ilye Figler on the accelerated dragon, which inspired me to purchase a few books on the subject. It’s a much more positional opening than it’s fire breathing counter-part, and in general seems safer, more solid, and less risky. So basically, it’s nothing like the main line dragon even though the middle games can sometimes appear very similar, the main difference being black’s refusal to commit his d pawn early, perhaps hoping to play d5 in one go. In the past, I had usually played the maroczy bind against it with white, as this seemed the most straightforward approach. Most of the lecture I attended though focused more on the far more interesting mainlines, where white plays 7.Bc4 instead of the Maroczy, which contain a lot of cute traps. The lecture convinced me that the accelerated dragon may be a good fit for me, but before I decided to play it myself I needed some ideas against the bind in order to be confident. Here is my favorite idea of the several I have come across. It’s a set up that was first introduced by Larsen in the very popular 7…Ng4 variation, or “the exchange variation.” The ideas sketched out in the notation to the following game give the basic concepts for the setup.
Gelfand emerged the winner of the candidates match in Kazan with a clutch win against Grischuk who had shut down both Kramnik and Aronian, and without question had the hardest pairing in the cycle. Without a question, Gelfand fought hard and deserves his shot at the title, and yet, part of me wishes it had been Kamsky who emerged victorious.
In any case, many people complained about the format of the matches, with so few classical games neither player wanted to take risks and so we saw many boring draws which meant that the next challenger of the World Champion was essentially decided by blitz games. And yet, I still watched every day, rapt, as the players fought or at least pretended to, hoping and wishing for anyone other than Topalov or Kramnik. I guess we should all be happy that Gelfand won in that respect.
In any case, the following game was the one that put Gelfand into the next world championship match…let’s hope it’s in London.
I could hardly believe my eyes early this morning when Topalov played the wacky 0-0-0 in a Qb3 Grunfeld, inviting black’s bishops to bear down upon his king position like an army of elephants. The game is a gorgeous masterpiece for several reasons. Watching the game live with my engine going, there were several interesting tactical shots that Kamsky no doubt saw but chose not to enter into, preferring to totally clamp down on Topalov’s position with unassuming pawn pushes that left his pieces uncoordinated and his king gasping for air.
The game features an odd h pawn thrust by Topa who failed to grasp the peril of his position.
Once again, all other games were draws and so Kamsky is the first of the contenders to draw blood, and he appears to be in top form. Great analysis of the match as always over at Chessdom. I absolutely cannot wait to see the game tomorrow when Kamksy will have the white pieces again.
Wow! So, today was the first game of the 2011 World Championship Candidates Matches being held in Kazan. All four games were draws, though two were exciting games to watch. Naturally, as an American, I’m cheering for my fellow Brooklynite Gata Kamsky. This morning at 7am New York time when I was frying and egg and making coffee I was shocked by the first few moves of their game. In a standard Sicilian Najdorf, Kamsky played 6.a4!? and then followed it up with 7.a5! GM Danielsen describes some of the ideas behind this wacky sideline over at Chessdom. Kamsky was just coming off from his win at the U.S. Championship and was in full form for this battle with Topalov. Topalov won a match a couple of years ago against Kamsky as you may recall, but since then Kamsky seems to have gotten sharper while perhaps Topa has fallen off his game a bit- so this match could easily go either way. I can’t wait for 7a.m. tomorrow morning when the battle resumes and Topa will have white.
Here is the first game in its entirety. Kamsky missed a couple of wins as outlined by GM Danielsen over at Chessdom, though the most surprising one to me was when Kamsky played 17.b3, when 17.Bb3 gives white a chokehold on the position, as it threatens Ba4 and thus allows white the push the black queen around and place his pieces actively on the queenside of the board.
If you play 1.e4 and wish to avoid the Spanish, than the Italian game with 3.Bc4 is the best option. Black’s logical responses are basically the Two Knights Defense, 3…Bc5(Italian game), or the Hungarian (3…Be7.) Naturally, against 3…Bc5 the Evans gambit is a fun option, but against the two knights defense I think the modern attack 4.d4 is actually easier and more straightforward than the mainline 4.Ng5. Here are three games from a big proponent of the variation, Asa Hoffmann.
I myself have had a lot of luck with this line in blitz games as of late. Some common themes for white are using his e and f pawns as battering rams to attack black’s kingside or in the alternative threaten to create a passed pawn. Black’s queenside dark square weaknesses are a key thematic idea as well, such that after the opening, if you remove all of the pieces from the board, the simple king and pawn ending would be winning for white, so white has that as an insurance policy in the middle game should he need it. Another idea worth mentioning comes from GM Dzindzichashvili, who advocates white develop his queenside knight to c3, allowing his pawns to be doubled. This is a theme we see in the following games as well.
When I asked Asa Hoffmann why he plays this line his answer answer was pretty simple: “It gives great practical attacking chances!”
The following game is amusing for a number of reasons. First of all, it is the only time that my fellow Marshall Chess Club compatriot Ed Frumkin has defeated FM Asa Hoffmann in tournament chess, and he did it with Hoffmann’s favorite opening, 1.Nc3. Secondly, we see the Pribyl tackled head on with a king-side pawn avalanche that effortlessly opens lines and decimates black’s position.
Having said that, I rather like the Prybil. First of all, no one has heard of it, and most people will immediately take it as an inferior Pirc, which it probably is. However, the benefit of the Prybil lies not so much in its surprise value, but in its ability to transpose into other favorable systems, often into a kind of French with the light square bishop outside the pawn-chain. The following game-annotations are by Mr. Frumkin himself. Enjoy!
I have been a subscriber of The New Yorker Magazine for nearly ten years now and have been patiently waiting for an article about chess. There may have been a mention about Kasparov’s political aspirations here or there in that time (snooze…), but apart from that, I recall only a paucity of chess related material, which is surprising considering the demographic to whom the New Yorker is marketed. Perhaps not surprisingly, it took an enigmatic figure like Carlsen to entice the notoriously choosy editors to finally run a profile of a chess player. The article appeared in the March 21st edition, and has already been given ample treatment by the chess blogosphere elsewhere, such as over on Greengard’s “chess ninja.”
I was eager to see how the article would handle chess. Would it describe positions in detail or risk losing most readers by getting bogged down in the vocabulary of opening theory? Would they …gasp…include a diagram? In the first few paragraphs of the article, D.T. Max describes the game in Wijk Aan Zee where Carlsen whipped out the Chigorin against Kramnik, something which most chess players would quickly be able to decipher from the author’s awkward attempt to describe the principals of opening theory in passing to an audience who likely neither understood the ideas as presented nor appreciated how Carlsen was breaking them. In any case, this was my favorite part of the article and from there I have to say it managed to disappoint me, much as Magnus’s career has done.
A year ago, I like many people was smitten with Magnus. I had Magnus fever, a symptom of which was a certain kind of myopia that blinded me to his negative traits, such that to my eyes he basked in a glow of Caissa’s benediction and could do no wrong. It goes without saying that this is no longer the case. Notwithstanding his disappointing decision to back out of the World Championship Cycle just at the moment when it was starting to look like something most chess players have been demanding for years, Magnus has irked me lately for other reasons. His former humility has given way to an arrogance that borders on megalomania. For instance, his comment that Giri could “never be as strong as me” (which was mentioned in the New Yorker article) smacks of something a professional wrestler might scream into a camera to intimidate his opponent, but certainly not something a professional chess player should say about a quickly improving young talent. That Giri destroyed Magnus in a mere 22 moves with black only a short time later only highlights the degree of Carlsen’s misperception of his own strength.
In any case, despite the fact that there is likely nothing in the profile which you do not already know about Magnus, I have to say that it’s worth reading and as you would expect, disgustingly well-written. It will not be on the news stands much longer though, so grab a copy ASAP before the March 28th edition comes out.
My Friend Szymon, who a lot of my readers probably know from the Tea Lounge in Park Slope or as the captain of our New York Commercial Chess League Team, recently played in the 4 rated games tournament on thursday nights at the Marshall, and had the luck of being paired with GM Kekelidze. The game is actually very interesting, and certainly instructive for any KID players out there. I’m including Szymon’s notes and his pgn below:
My First Game Ever With a Grandmaster
Yesterday I went to the Marshall Chess Club for their G30 (actually this is 25min with 5sec delay) tournament, which they always have on Thursdays and I started to play in these once a month this year. They run them in the Swiss system, which means that in the first round, being rated in provisional 1800′s, I’m always paired up, and this time was no different- I had to play grandmaster (!) Mikheil Kekelidze, rated 2460 FIDE and 2536 USCF. I expected to be wiped off the board and proceed to the next round, but anyway I just wanted to play him like I would anyone else, that’s my approach- play the board, not the man. And it turned out to be a King’s Indian, where we both didn’t play the Classical Variation in the best fashion, but entering the middlegame, he was better, having deprived me of my light-squared bishop. And that was the point where I started playing better and better and making him think (probably at that point he could already think about the game going downhill), and the resistance I put forced concessions from him, which, after the queen exchange, amazingly, brought me a position which is really good, shame that I didn’t hold it longer and started thinking what to do to REALLY draw this game, because that’s where the advantage was lost. I should have been a little bit bolder and not have played 42…fxg3 for example. With both of us very low on the clock, he saw a beautiful tactic in the end and the inevitable happened. But managing to play a 49-move game against a grandmaster is something that I would never think I’m able to pull off. Please check the game for my comments and variations.
This week I played a game for my team in the NYCCL, where my captain told me I only needed to draw for our team to walk with a positive result. I had the black pieces and had been told that my opponent likes to play 1.d4 and the trompowsky in particular- so I was a little surprised but not disappointed when he played 1.e4. I responded with a Sicilian, and the game was a bit strange for the first few moves but began to look more mainstream by move ten. I made an early middle game blunder in a position where I should have simply won a pawn, and lost the exchange- the rest is my fighting for dear life to draw- and miraculously managing to do so. However, it pains me to admit that I missed about half a dozen winning chances, one of which is quite egregious.
My teammate made me feel a little better by reminding me that it’s sometimes easier to see things when you’re not in the heat of battle, any case here is the game which I’m not terrible proud of but am posting because the last 25 moves or so is rife with instructive error.
As a sveshnikov player I value piece activity over everything else- structure, material, pish posh- give me an attack. The following game follows a not too uncommon line in the Sveshnikov, where on move 12 black really lays down the gauntlet with a gambit. In theory, white should be ok but the traps that lay in wait are far from obvious.