Mar 13, 2020
By Abel Talamantez
Table of Contents
- MI Chess Room Closed - Join Our Online Tournaments
- MI Events Schedule
- Paul Whitehead
- Tony's Teaser
- GM Nick de Firmian's Column
- Submit your piece or feedback
Yudacufski TNM Cancelled and Chess Room Due To COVID-19
Following on the advice of public and health officials regarding best practices surrounding COVID-19, Mechanics' Institute (MI) has closed the chess room, library, and meeting rooms to the public through March 31, 2020. Therefore, our current TNM is cancelled until further notice. The first round that was played last week has been submitted for rating to both USCF and FIDE, and we gave full refunds or credit to all players. Those who have registered online should see the credit on their account. If a player would like a refund rather than a credit, please email us at [email protected], and we will process the request.
We intend to stay on the same timeline as our regularly scheduled TNM's. For example, if in three weeks we are able to reopen the chess room, and there would have been three rounds left in the TNM, we will fill those three weeks on Tuesday nights with chess programming until the regularly scheduled start of the next TNM. Because the TNM is FIDE-rated, there are certain event registration requirements that do not make it simple to reschedule or change dates. We may for example choose to hold in those three gap weeks a three-round mini tournament, a one-day rapid tournament, an evening of quads, etc. We will keep our players and club participants informed of any developments through our Facebook page, emails, and this newsletter, so please make sure you are connected to all platforms wherever possible. We also will continue our broadcasts on Tuesday evening to discuss developments and happenings in the chess community and chess world.
We want to thank all our players and our chess community for their very strong support in this time, as well as the leadership of the Mechanics' Institute for their support of the club.
For full standings from round 1, please follow the link here
To follow our live stream on Tuesday Nights at 6:30, click this link
To join our email list, click here
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Since our MI chess room, along with our library and meeting rooms, has been closed due to COVID-19 concerns and public health recommendations, we are looking at the possibility of continuing our Tuesday night club activities online. During this time period, we are organizing online tournaments through Chess.com platform. Players would need to join the Mechanics' Institute chess club group on Chess.com, which can be done by following this link here.
Once you are part of the Mechanics' Institute Club on Chess.com, you will be able to register for online club tournaments that we organize. Next Tuesday, we will do a test run: we are planning for a four-round G/15 +2 tournament that would happen during next Tuesday, in one day. Please note that this will not be USCF rated at this time, and it will be a free event. It will start at 6:30pm, the usual TNM start time. For the first time, we will have have one open section, so anyone can register. We are capping the number of players at 60. Hopefully this will give everyone a chance to participate. The system will take player's Chess.com rating and pair using that rating. Unfortunately, we cannot adjust these ratings, so if you want to have higher rating opponent with whom to be paired, you have a few more days to play some games online.
To join the tournamnet, simply click on this link: https://www.chess.com/live#t=1157540 and once registration opens, please click on Join. We will provide more information to players via our Facebook page and email. After the first test tournament, our plan is to have these tournaments USCF quick-rated, as is the practice for USCF for online tournaments played on Chess.com. The details will be shared as we go forward.
For those players worried about fair-play concerns, Chess.com uses a very accurate and respected algorithm to detect possible fair play violations, and all games go through this algorithm. As you probably are aware, there have been many instances in which this algorithm caught cheaters and banned them from playing online again. As the organizers of the tournment, we will be notified if there are any issues, and both MI and Chess.com will address them accordingly. Please remember that these games would be USCF quick rated, and would not affect a player's standard rating. Our main goal is to bring our players together through chess in a creative way amidst these uncertain times. Please be patient with us as we attempt to organize this online tournament.
We wanted to let the chess community know what the chess club, tournament, and classes will be closed through the end of March, set to re-open on April 1, 2020. Here is a quick summary of what is affected by the closure:
We have cancelled ALL tournaments through March, including the scheduled IM Vince McCambridge championship March 21, and the SF Scholastic Championship in Golden Gate Park March 28. Both events will be rescheduled later this year. As of now, events in April are on, though we will inform our chess community if there are any changes to this schedule.
All scheduled classes at MI are cancelled, including the weekday classes of GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead, as well as the weekend kids and women's classes.
We have cancelled all after-school classes, following the advice and directive of public health officals and the schools themselves.
Please let us know if you have any questions, email us: [email protected]
We wanted to let our players and parents know that we have done a complete cleaning of all the chess tables and put down new pieces for all the tables in the club. MI will also be conducting a thorough deep cleaning throughout our building. Therefore, when the club re-opens, everyone can rest assured they will be in a clean environment, ready to resume the great history of the Mechanics' Institute chess club!
Friendly Rivalries, Part 19.
By FM Paul Whitehead
Draw, draw, draw… and a fishy win.
The years 1976 and 1977 were breakthrough years for me. I was starting to play stronger players with more confidence: they were only human after all. In ’76 I beat a few weak masters, and my rating hovered just under 2200. My fighting spirit was strong, but my play was erratic and immature. By 1977 I was starting to hit my stride. I had gained more experience, and my rating crossed the 2300 mark.
The following 4 games showed that I could mix it up with some of the best in the country, even if the full point was still out of reach… most of the time.
I’ve written about IM John Grefe here: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/873
And I’ve written about GM Larry Christiansen here: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/871
IM Kim Commons (1951 – 2015) had a great run in the 1970’s, including team and individual gold medals for the U.S. team at the Olympiad in Haifa, 1976. More about Kim here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Commons
IM Jack Peters has had a terrific career in chess, and I caught him on a really, really bad day. Our game was played at the Paul Masson vineyards, and it was either the heat or the grape that induced his horrible blunder… but these stories are what can give chess such enjoyment!
(1) Grefe,John - Whitehead,Paul A [E01]
LERA / Sunnyvale, 1976
This is a cute little draw, my first against an International Master. Black's aggressive and positive play is what stands out. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.g3 d5
This is transposing into a variation of the Catalan, 6.Bg2 e5 7.Nf3 d4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.e3 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3
11.Bxf3 Be7 12.exd4 exd4 13.Qa4 Qd7 14.Rd1 0-0 15.Bg2 Rfd8
Black already has the exchange sacrifice in mind. 16.Nc3 Qf5 17.Nd5 Nxd5 18.cxd5 Rxd5 19.Bxd5 Qxd5 20.Bf4 g5
A nice move, allowing clearing the e5 square for the black knight. 21.Be3 Bf6 22.Rac1 Ne5 Impatient! 22...Rd8! applies more pressure and leaves white in a critical position. 23.Rc7 Nf3+ 24.Kf1 Nh2+ 25.Kg1 Nf3+
Black is content with a draw. 26.Kf1 b5 27.Qc2 Nh2+ 28.Kg1 Nf3+ 29.Kf1 Nh2+ 30.Kg1 Nf3+ 31.Kf1 Nh2+
(2) Whitehead,Paul A - Commons,Kim S [B01]
People's Tournament, Berkeley, 1976
A great see-saw battle! As usual white was at a loss in the opening, and invited a repetition (9.Bb5+ and 10.Bc4). Black, outrating his opponent by 400 points or so, plays for the win with 12...c6. However, this didn't work out so well, and white's energetic advance of the d and h pawns rocked black back on his heels. A desperate exhange sacrifice starting with 30...Na3+ was mistakenly accepted with 31.Ka1. After further ups and downs an exciting game ended in perpetual check. 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bc4 Bg4 5.f3 Bf5
6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.g4 Nb6 8.d3 Bc8 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bc4 Bc8
11.Bb5+ Bd7 12.Bc4 c6 13.dxc6 Bxc6 14.g5 Nxc4 15.gxf6 Ne5
16.d4 Ng6 17.d5 Bd7 18.Qe2 gxf6 19.Bd2 Bg7 20.0-0-0 Rc8
21.h4 f5 22.d6 e6 23.h5 Ne5 24.h6 Bf6 25.Nd5 Nc4
26.Nxf6+ Qxf6 27.Bc3 Qg5+ 28.Kb1 Rg8 29.Nh3 Qxh6 30.f4 Na3+
31.Ka1 [31.bxa3! Rxc3 32.Ng5 followed by 33.Rxh7, and white is winning.] 31...Rxc3 32.bxc3 Rg3 33.Rd3 Bb5 34.d7+ Kd8 35.Qe5 Bxd3
36.Qb8+ Kxd7 37.Qxb7+ Kd6 38.Ng5 Rxg5 39.fxg5 Nxc2+ 40.Kb2 Qxg5
41.Rd1 Ne1 42.Qb8+ Ke7 43.Qxa7+ Kf6 44.Qf2 f4 45.Rxe1 Bf5
46.a4 Kg6 47.Rf1 Bh3 48.Rg1 Bg4 49.a5 h5 50.Ra1 Qb5+
51.Kc1 f3 52.a6 Qg5+ 53.Kb2 Qb5+
(3) Christiansen,Larry Mark - Whitehead,Paul A [E95]
Golden Gate Open, S.F., 1977
Black gets a great opening, but gives it away on move 20. There follows 60 moves of relentless pressure, with black pulling off a miraculous save. It seems that white missed a clear win on the 57th move, but this was a defensive effort I'm still proud of. 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7 5.Be2 0-0
6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.Re1 c6 9.Bf1 Qb6 10.Rb1 exd4
11.Nxd4 Ng4 12.Qxg4 Bxd4 13.Be3 Ne5 14.Qg3 Bxe3 15.Qxe3 Be6
16.Qxb6 axb6 17.b3 g5 18.Red1 Rfd8 19.Rb2 Kf8 20.Rbd2 Ra3?!
[Instead 20...Ke7 21.Na4 Bg4! maintains equality, as 22.f3 is met by 22...Bxf3!] 21.Rxd6 Rxd6 22.Rxd6 Ke7 23.Rd2 g4 24.Na4 Nxc4 25.Bxc4 Bxc4
26.f4 [White doesn't fall for 26.Nxb6 Bxb3!] 26...gxf3 27.Nxb6 f2+ 28.Kxf2 Be6 29.Ke3 Ra5 30.Kd4 Rh5
Black now shows some remarkable resilience. 31.g3 Rg5 32.Na4 h5 33.Nc5 Bc8 34.Rf2 h4 35.gxh4 Rg4
36.Nd3 Rxh4 37.Nf4 b6 38.b4 Rh8 39.Rc2 Bd7 40.a3 Ra8
41.Rc3 Rh8 42.h3 Rh4 43.Rf3 Kd6 44.e5+ Ke7 45.Ke3 Rh8
46.Rg3 Bf5 47.Rg1 Ra8 48.Ra1 Kd7 49.a4 Re8 50.Kd4 Kc7
51.Rg1 Rd8+ 52.Kc3 Re8 53.Rg7 Rxe5 54.Rxf7+ Kd6 55.Rf6+ Kc7
56.h4 Bg4 57.Rg6? [57.h5! Bxh5 58.Kd4+-] 57...Bd1 58.Kd4 Rf5 59.Ne6+ Kd7 60.a5 Rd5+
61.Kc4 Be2+ 62.Kc3 bxa5 63.Nc5+ Kc7 64.Rg7+ Kc8 65.Re7 axb4+
66.Kxb4 Bb5 67.Rh7 Be2 68.Rg7 Rd4+ 69.Ka5 Rxh4 70.Kb6 Rb4+
71.Kxc6 Bf3+ 72.Kd6 Rb6+ 73.Ke5 Rh6 74.Ne6 Bd1 75.Rg1 Be2
76.Rc1+ Kb7 77.Rb1+ Ka7 78.Nd4 Ba6 79.Kd5 Rh5+ 80.Kd6 Rh6+
(4) Peters,Jack - Whitehead,Paul A [B40]
Paul Masson, Saratoga, 1977
This game is included only for the historic record. White's gift of a pawn on move 8 (after 11 minutes thought!) was amazing, but shows that we are all human. Black's technique was more than adequate. 1.e4 c5 2.b3 b6 3.Bb2 Bb7 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 Be7 8.e5??
8...Nxe5 9.Nh4 Bxg2 10.Nxg2 d5 11.0-0 0-0 12.d3 Nc6 13.Re1 Qd7 14.Nb1 Ne8 15.Nd2 Bf6 16.c3 Nc7 17.Qc2 Rac8 18.a3 e5 19.Re2 g6 20.Rae1 Bg7 21.Qb1 Rfe8 22.Ba1 a5 23.c4 d4 24.Bb2 Ne6 25.Bc1 Ne7 26.Ne4 f5 27.Nd2 Nc6 28.Nf3 Re7 29.Rf1 Rce8 30.Nge1 Nc7 31.Nd2 Rf8 32.f3 Ne8 33.Nc2 Nd6 34.Ne1 Rfe8 35.Ng2 Re6 36.Ne1 Bh6 37.Nc2 Bxd2 38.Bxd2 e4 39.Ne1 e3 40.Bc1 f4 41.g4 g5 42.b4 axb4 43.axb4 Nxb4 44.Ba3 Na6 45.h4 h6 46.Rb2 Nc8 47.h5 Nc7 48.Nc2 Qc6 49.Kg2 Re5 50.Rc1 Ne6 51.Ne1 Nd8 52.Kf1 Nf7 53.Ke2 R5e7 54.Rcc2 Ne5 55.Ra2 Rf7 56.Qb5 Qxb5 57.cxb5 Ra7 58.Bc1 Ree7 59.Ra6 Rxa6 60.bxa6 Ra7 61.Ba3 Nd7
Last week's problem:
White to move and mate in 3. C.S. Kipping, 1911
Solution: 1. Bc8!! Qxa1 2. Rxa1 Nxb3 3. Bb7#
This week's problem:
White to move and mate in 3, J.A.W. Hunter, 1877
Meet the Candidates!
This week: Alexander Grischuk
March 17 is the official opening of the long awaited Candidates Tournament. This promises to be a great event with top players of the last decade vying to challenge Magnus. They are all excellent players, but Fabiano Caruana and Ding Liren are regarded to be the favorites. The others certainly have a chance though. We will investigate a candidate weekly, and we start with Alexander Grischuk of Russia. He has been a top player for 15 years, and is one of the oldest participants now at 36 years old. He has already played 4 times in the Candidates Tournament and reached the finals in 2011. He is currently ranked #4 in the world, so it would not be too surprising to see him finally break through to gain a World Championship match.
His major problem is his time management, as he tends to think deeply yet leaving himself with a hard situation to make the time control. One wonders if his opponents in their 20’s will make that a practical issue. The fact that Grischuk is an excellent blitz player mitigates this problem, but he will not win the event if he gives away even a couple of half points in time pressure. I can personally see him winning the Candidates if the winning score is not too high and he finds extra motivation this time.
(1) Baadur Aleksandrovich Jobava (2696) - Alexander Grischuk (2736) [C43]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (3.8), 29.11.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 A sharp variation, but a well prepared player can handle it. 3...Nxe4 4.dxe5 d5 5.Be3!? Be7 6.Nbd2 0-0 7.c3 Bf5 8.Qb3 This aggressive move attacks a pawn, but neglects development. 8...Nxd2 9.Bxd2 Be4 10.Nd4 [10.Qxb7 Nd7 11.Qa6 f6 would open up the game with all Black's pieces developed. A pawn is a small price to pay for that.] 10...c5 11.Ne2? White needed to play 11. f3 to counter the aggression. Now Grischuk makes White pay for his odd setup. 11...Nd7 12.Ng3 c4 13.Qxb7 Nc5 14.Qc6 Rc8 15.Qb5 Rb8 winning the queen by trapping it 16.Qc6 Rb6 Diagram
(2) Alexander Grischuk (2736) - Sanan Sjugirov (2612) [B90]
Russian Championship Superfinal Moscow RUS (6), 26.12.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Qd2 Be7 9.f3 0-0 10.0-0-0 Qc7 11.g4 Rc8 12.g5 Nh5 13.Kb1 Nd7 A complicated Najdorf opening has arisen. Grischuk now trades the bishop pair for space and attacking chances. 14.f4!? exf4 15.Bxf4 Nxf4 16.Qxf4 Ne5 17.h4 Qb6?! 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.Rxd5 a5 20.Rb5! Qc7 21.Nd4! White controls many white squares and central squares, which translates to a nice edge. 21...a4 22.a3 Ra5 23.h5 Bf8? Diagram
This move is too passive in such a tense position, Najdorf players should be aggressive! 24.g6! The breakthrough at an opportune moment. 24...Rxb5 25.Bxb5 Qb6 Black is in great trouble in any case, e.g. [25...fxg6 26.hxg6 h6 (26...Nxg6 27.Qf5 Be7 28.Bd7 Rf8 29.Be6+ Kh8 30.Rxh7+ Kxh7 31.Qh5#) 27.Bxa4] 26.gxf7+ Kh8 Diagram
[26...Nxf7 27.Rf1 Ne5 28.Bc4+! forces checkmate, e.g. 28...Nxc4 29.Qf7+ Kh8 30.Qxf8+] 27.h6! Qxd4 28.hxg7+ Bxg7 29.Qf5 there is no way out for Black 29...Ng6 30.Qxc8+ Nf8 31.Qc3 Qxe4 Diagram
32.Rg1! Black could only try to enter a hopeless endgame with 32...Qe5, so resigned instead. 1-0
(3) Alexander Grischuk (2736) - Dmitry Jakovenko (2736) [C67]
Russian Championship Superfinal Moscow RUS (8), 28.12.2009
1.e4 e5 Jakovenko is a top Russian player and a very worthy opponent. 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 This is the "dreaded" Berlin Defense endgame. In truth White has real chances for an edge with the kingside pawn majority if he plays very accurately. We see an example of Grischuk's endgame play here. 9.Nc3 h6 10.h3 Bd7 11.b3 Kc8 12.Bb2 b6 13.Rfd1 Ne7 14.Rd2 c5 15.Rad1 Be6 16.Ne2! Ng6 17.h4 Bg4?! Diagram
18.Nh2! Bxe2 19.Rxe2 Nxh4 20.Ng4 White has given a pawn to activate his pieces. Black is on the defensive. 20...h5 21.Ne3 Ng6 22.Red2 c4?! [22...Kb7 23.Rd7 Ne7 24.Nd5 Nxd5 25.R1xd5 Kc6 26.c4 f6 27.exf6 gxf6 28.Bxf6 Rh6 is better for White but would be a better defense.] 23.Rd7! cxb3 24.cxb3 Bc5 25.Rxf7 The White pieces are tremendously active. Black gets pushed around. 25...Bxe3 26.fxe3 Nf8 27.Rc1 Ne6 28.Re7 Nc5 29.b4 Kd8 30.Rxg7 Ne6 31.Rd1+ Ke8 32.Rg6 Ke7 33.b5! Rad8 34.Ba3+ Kf7 [34...Nc5 35.Rc1 Rd5 36.e4! breaks the defense since 36...Rxe5 37. Bb2 skewers] 35.Rf6+ Kg7 36.Rxd8 Nxd8 37.Be7 Re8 38.Bxd8 Rxd8 39.Rc6 Rd7 40.a4 Kf8 41.Kf2 Rf7+ 42.Rf6! Rxf6+ 43.exf6 Kf7 44.Kg3 Diagram
Black will gain the pawn back after 44...Kxf6, but easily loses the king ending (after 45. Kh4) since the two white queenside pawns hold back 3 black pawns. 1-0
(4) Vugar Gashimov (2759) - Alexander Grischuk (2736) [B97]
World Team Championship Bursa TUR (4), 08.01.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd3 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.f5 Be7 11.fxe6 fxe6 12.Be2 Qa5 13.Bd2 Qc7 14.g4 h6 15.Qh3 Rh7 16.Rf1 Nc6 17.Nxc6 Qxc6 18.e5 dxe5 19.Bd3 Diagram
This is a complicated Najdorf Poisoned Pawn Variation. Chances are equal and the position is wild. 19...e4 20.Nxe4 Nxe4 21.Qh5+?! [21.Qe3! Nxd2 22.Bg6+! Kd8 23.Qxd2+ Bd7 24.Bxh7 Kc7 would be roughly equal] 21...Kd7 22.Rd1 Rh8 23.Bf4? [23.Rf7] 23...Bb4+! 24.c3 Nxc3 great defense, not fearing the discovered check which can be answered with discovered check 25.Bd2 Qd5 26.Rf7+ Kc6 27.Rc1 Kb6 28.Be3+ Ka5 29.a3 Diagram
29...Ka4! The black king runs around the board but finds safety! 30.axb4 Qxd3 31.Qa5+ Kb3 32.Rxc3+ Qxc3+ 33.Bd2 b6! 34.Qxb6 Qe5+ 35.Kd1 Bb7 36.Qxb7 Rhd8 37.Rf3+ Ka2 38.Rf2 Kb1 39.Qf3 Rac8 40.Qb3+ Qb2 41.Qxb2+ Kxb2 0-1
(5) Peter Svidler (2750) - Alexander Grischuk (2756) [D47]
Amber Tournament (Blindfold) Nice FRA (6), 19.03.2010
This is a blindfold game against one the 8 time Russian Champion 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.e4 b4 10.Na4 c5 11.e5 Nd5 12.0-0 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Be7 14.Qh5 g6 15.Qe2 0-0 16.Bb5 a6 This has been a complicated Slav Defense with chances for both sides. Svidler now plays an aggressive (but wrong) move. 17.Nc6? Diagram
17...axb5! 18.Nxd8 Rfxd8 19.Qxb5 Ba6 20.Qc6 Bd3! Diagram
Black has only two pieces for the queen but is winning! The white knight on a4 is loose and the white queen is in danger of being trapped. 21.Re1 [Also losing is 21.b3 Nxe5 22.Qb7 Bxf1 23.Kxf1 Rdb8] 21...Rac8 22.Qb7 Rc7 23.Qxc7 Nxc7 24.a3 Ra8 25.axb4 Bxb4 26.Rd1 Bb5 27.b3 Nd5 28.Bb2 Rb8 29.Bd4 Kg7 30.g3 g5 31.Rac1 Be2 0-1
(6) Igor Bjelobrk - Alexander Grischuk [E92]
World Cup Tromso NOR (1.4), 11.08.2013
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.h3 a lesser played line againsgt the King's Indian 6...e5 7.d5 a5 8.Be2 Na6 9.Bg5 Qe8 10.Nd2 Nd7 11.a3 f6 12.Bh4 Nb6 13.b3 Bd7 14.Rb1 Nc5 15.Qc2 f5 16.b4 White ould be sager to castle and achieve full mobility. 16...axb4 17.axb4 Nxe4 18.Ndxe4 fxe4 19.Bg5? Diagram
Now 19. 0-0 was really needed. This move allows a surprising opportunity for Black to punish the slow development. Grishuk jumps on it. 19...e3! 20.Bxe3 [20.f3 Rf4!] 20...Bf5 21.Ne4 [21.Bd3 Nxc4] 21...Qa4! Black has threats and White is one move short of defending everything. 22.Qd3 Qa2 23.Bxb6?! Diagram
23...Ra3! 24.Be3 Rxd3 25.Bxd3 Bxe4 26.Bxe4 Bh6 27.0-0 Bxe3 28.fxe3 Rxf1+ 0-1
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