Chess Room Newsletter #952 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #952

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #952


January 23, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

2021 US Amateur Team West Championship

The Mechanics' Institute is honored to organize for the 2nd year in a row, the US Amateur Team West National Championship on the weekend of January 30-31. The event will be held virtually on, six rounds, with a time control of G/60+10. Games will be manually paired, and there will be two sections by average team rating; 1800+, and under 1800. This is a 4-player team event in which the average rating of the combined team must be under 2200. The winning team in the top section will go on to the national semi-final against the winners of the North, South, and East National Championships. Individual and team entries are welcome, and we can help individuals form teams.

Come participate in this online championship team event, brought to you by the Mechanics' Institute!

We will broadcast all rounds live on our Twitch channel starting at 9am Pacific time January 30, with live commentary by GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead, along with special guests. Watch the event here:

For tournament information, as well as advance entries, please click here: Register by Monday January 25 to receive the early bird discount here:

We look forward to a fantastic, fun weekend of chess. Next weekend is championship weekend at the Mechanics' Institute!

January 2021 TNM Report

Rounds 3 and 4 are in the books for the Tuesday Night Marathon, with the two GM's in the field remaining on top of the leaderboard after facing tough resistence from our Bay Area's talented kids in round 3 and agreeing to a friendly draw in round 4. Both players stand at 3.5/4. NM Mike Walder drew IM Elliott Winslow and then won an amazing game against FM Eric Yuhan Li in round 4 to be the only other player at 3.5/4. FM Kyron Griffith, fresh off earning his 2nd IM norm in Charlotte had taken two byes for the evening, was not in action, but remains in the hunt with 3/4. Also chasing with 3 points are Li, Winslow, Daniel Lin, Tejas Mahesh, and Nathan Fong. 

In the u/1800 section, Aaron Nicoski and Sebby Suarez are the only perfect scores, a full point ahead of the field. Still chasing the leaders at 3/4 are some tough competitors, including Mateo Hansen, Reka Sztaray, Rama Chitta, Elliott Regan, Andrew Ballantyne, and Ethan Sun. 

We got a very nice surprise during our broadcast, as GM Daniel Naroditsky sent over 3000 viewers to us when he signed off of his broadcast! Thank you to Daniel for that boost, which substantially increased our followers to our channel.

The final two rounds of the January TNM will be next week. Can anyone slow the GM's down in the top section? Can someone stay perfect in the u/1800? Or will a contender rise to win the final two rounds and catch the leaders? Tune in next week to find out! 

To watch the broadcast, click on our YouTube channel here:

Here are some game from the round, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian. The first game, however, is annotated by NM Mike Walder. It is his game against Christopher Yoo, in which the line he played against FM Eric Li was played against him. This goes to show the value of learning from ones own games, and how it can prove to be very useful later. We will see this first game, and then the game against Eric right after.

(1) IM Christopher Yoo - NM Michael Walder [B94]
2020 Mechanics' Rapid Online Championsh (5), 31.05.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qe2 h6 8.Bh4 g6 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.0-0-0 Qc7 12.Nb3 b5 13.Rxd7 I remembered reading about this move. 13...Nxd7 14.Nd5 There are two choices for the Queen, b8 and my choice in this game. They both lead to playable games, but Black must walk a tightrope. 14...Qd6 15.Na5 g5 16.Be1


16...Nf6??N I remembered that I had to challange the d5 Knight, but chose the wrong square, hemming in my Queen. Christoper makes short work of me. [16...Nb6 17.Bb4 Qg6 18.Nc7+ Kd8 19.Qd2+? (19.Bxf8 Kxc7 20.Bc5=; 19.Bc3 Kxc7 20.Bxe5+ Bd6 21.Bxh8 f6 22.e5 Bxe5 23.Qf3 Qe8 24.Bd3=) 19...Kxc7 20.Qc3+ Kd7 21.Bxb5+ axb5 22.Rd1+ Ke8 23.Qxe5+ Be6 24.Qxb5+ Nd7 25.Nc6 Bxb4 26.Qb7 Kf8 0-1 (26) Haubro,M (2365)-Ziska,H (2544) Kollafjord 2017] 17.Bb4 Qxb4 18.Nxf6+ ChristopherYoo won by resignation. Getting crushed like this gave me incentive to dig deep into this line. The result is that later I get a flashy win against a strong opponent. 1-0

(1) Walder (FlightsOfFancy) Michael NM (2071) - Li (kingandqueen2017),Eric Yuhan FM (2013) [B94]
MI January TNMO (4.2), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 The modern response to 6.Bg5, although it also happens to be the ancient response -- in the mid 1950s it was all the rage. Then along came Fischer and the Poisoned Pawn variation, and things weren't the same for a long time. 7.Qe2 The modern response, turbo-charged by Negi's championing it in his Grandmaster Repertoire series book on the Najdorf. 7...h6 8.Bh4 g6


Somehow this has become the main line. It almost doesn't feel like a Najdorf any more, but just wait. Black isn't playing for a Dragon conversion, it's just to control f5 before ...e5. 9.f4 e5 10.fxe5 dxe5 11.0-0-0! Qc7! Taking the knight runs into 12.e5, so Black tries to put things in order. 12.Nb3 b5


13.Rxd7!? Variouis other moves have been selected, but this sends in an early explosion. Objectivity aside, it's very hard to handle. And it's been lobbed in already at least 40 times since it first appeared in 2017! [13.Nd5 is/was the most common attempt, but it's fallen by the wayside.; 13.Qf3 is the more contrite move, leading to a difficult game. Less instances, but a better percentage.] 13...Nxd7 14.Nd5 Qb8!? Preferred by Wei Yi and Wojtaszek, and Donchenko (who just drew and epic vs. Carlsen in the live Tata Steel event also going on). [14...Qd6!? has had some good results, but it's thanks to White losing the Way. 15.Na5 g5!? a) 15...f6 has been tried by 2500 players, a couple draws.; b) 15...Ra7!? was one of the stronrgest proponents of 14...Qd6: 16.Qf2 Rc7 (The knight must be worth more than that rook!) 17.Be2 Qc5 18.Bg4 g5 19.Rf1 Qxf2 20.Nxc7+ Kd8 21.Bxf2 Kxc7 1/2-1/2 (61) Fawzy,A (2431)-Cheparinov,I (2715) Batumi 2018; c) 15...Rb8 16.Qf3 Bb7 17.Nxb7 Rxb7 18.Be2 Qc6 (18...h5 was the highest rating for White in this line: 1-0 (27) Kasimdzhanov,R (2698)-Zhu,Y (2328) Chengdu 2017) 19.Rd1 Bc5 20.b4 g5 21.Be1 Bd4 22.c3 Rg8 is hard to understand, but it led to a win (!), 0-1 (34) Niemi,K (2306)-Agopov,M (2447) Finland 2018; 16.Be1 Nb6! Fighting off the knight at d5. a) 16...Nc5?! 17.Bb4 Qd8? (17...Be6 18.Nb7 Qc6 19.Nf6+ Ke7 20.Nd5+ Ke8 21.Na5 Qc8 isn't lost) 18.Qf3 1-0 (37) Garrido Outon,A (2287)-Represa Perez,M (2081) Caleta ENG 2020; b) 16...Nf6? 17.Bb4 Qxb4?! (17...Qd8 18.Nc6 Nxd5 19.Nxd8 Nxb4 20.a3+-) 18.Nxf6+ 1-0, Yoo,Chr. - Walder,M; MI Rapid Online ch, 1 June 2020. (Mike plays both sides of this line! But on this occasion he forgot that White can taker here first and then go back for the queen, winning.; 17.Bb4 Qg6 (Another advantage of ...g5!) 18.Nc7+= (Now Christopher played 18.Qd2?-/+ sf12) a couple times against another near-2700 player but came up short both times: 18...Nxd5 19.Qxd5 Qe6 (An improvement over the previous 19...Bxb4 20.Qxe5+ Qe6 21.Qxh8+ Ke7 22.Nb3 but Black went on to win here; 22...Bb7 0-1 (58) Yoo,C (2455)-Fedoseev,V (2678) PNWCC Masters, 23.05/0 ) 20.Qxa8 Bxb4 21.Nc6 Bc5 22.Nxe5 0-0 Again the bishops rake on and Black was successful: 0-1 (42) Yoo,C (2455)-Fedoseev,V (2678) PNWCC Online Blitz JP 12, 6.06/0 ) 18...Kd8 19.Qd2+?? a) 19.Bxf8= Kxc7[] 20.Qe3 (20.Bc5 Bb7 21.Qe3 Na4 22.b3 Nxc5 23.Qxc5+ Bc6! (23...Kb8?


24.Bc4!!+/-) ) 20...Na4 21.Bc5[] Bb7; b) 19.Bc3=; 19...Kxc7 20.Qc3+ Kd7 21.Bxb5+ (and White mops up the black king) 21...axb5 22.Rd1+ Ke8 23.Qxe5+ Be6 24.Qxb5+ Nd7 25.Nc6 Black is up a rook and a bishop -- and lost. 25...Bxb4 26.Qb7 Kf8 0-1 (26) Haubro,M (2365)-Ziska,H (2544) Kollafjord FAI 2017] 15.Na5

[15.Bf6 is the other try, putting a permanent stop to any idea of Black getting castled.] 15...Bb7?! [15...Bc5 saw Wojtaszek losing to Christiansen (not Larry, Johan-Sebastian),; but 15...Bg7!? so far has a slight plus score in the four few games it's been tried.] 16.Nf6+ Black will suffer a lot of crossfire mating threats now 16...Nxf6 17.Bxf6 Qc7! 18.Nxb7 [18.Bxh8? Qxa5-/+ 19.Kb1 Qb4 20.Bxe5 0-0-0!] 18...Rg8 [18...Rh7 (covers f7, but will it ever get out!) 19.a4 bxa4 20.Qc4 Qxb7 21.Qxa4+ Qd7 22.Qa5!? The first time this was seen White gambled for a win -- and got it! (The computer just thinks White should go 22.Qxd7+ Kxd7 23.Bc4 Bd6 with equality and a draw, which eventually happened, ½-½ (59) Kardoeus,D (2202)-Wachinger,N (2311) Magdeburg GER 2019) 22...Be7 23.Qxe5 Kf8 24.Bc4 Bxf6 25.Qxf6 Qa4 26.b3 Qa3+ 27.Kb1 Qe7 28.e5 Re8 29.Rf1 Qxe5 30.Qxg6 Qe1+ 31.Kb2 1-0 (31) Harutyunyan,R (2344)-Wachinger,N (2338) Konya TUR 2018] 19.a4


19...Qxb7?!N [19...bxa4 20.Qc4 Qxb7 21.Qxa4+ Qd7 22.Qb3 Be7 23.Bxe5 Bd6 24.Bxd6 Qxd6 25.Bc4 Rg7 26.Qf3 saw veteran Israeli GM Yehuda Gruenfeld grind out a win: 1-0 (49), Gruenfeld,Y (2421)-Steinberg,N (2532) Maalot Tarshiha 2018] 20.axb5 a5?! [20...axb5 21.Qxb5+ Qd7 is cute but still favors White. After 22.b4 (or 22.c3) ] 21.b6! Now White has a monster pawn to go with his mate threats. Black is in trouble. 21...Be7 Best try 22.Qb5+ Kf8 23.Bxe5 Bg5+?! [23...Rc8 24.Qd5 Qxb6 25.Bc4 Rxc4 (might as well) 26.Qxc4 Qe6 27.Qxe6 fxe6 28.Rf1+ is a won ending] 24.Kb1 Be3 25.Bc4 It all comes back to the attack on f7. 25...Qxb6 [25...Re8 26.Rf1] 26.Qd5 Ra7 27.Rf1 Rg7 28.Bxg7+ Kxg7 29.Rxf7+ Fine opening prep, excellent execution by Walder. 1-0

(2) Yan (jij2018),Ruiyang NM (2242) - Lenderman (AlexanderL),Aleksandr GM (2704) [B11]
MI January TNMO (3.1), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 This sharp response to the Two Knight variation against the Caro Kann is the latest theoretical battleground. 5.Ne2 White hopes to harass the knight 5...Qb6 Far and away the main move -- 6.d3 is thwarted, so White has to leave the knight after all for now. [5...Bg4!? could well be better,] 6.d4 e6 [or 6...c5 right away, should transpose.] 7.Ng3 [7.Nfg1!? to trap the knight, but 7...f6 8.f3 Ng5 9.exf6 gxf6 0-1 (46) Vachier Lagrave,M (2819)-Anand,V (2770) Saint Louis 2016 and over a hundred other, still with a slight plus for White.] 7...c5 8.Bd3 Nxg3 [8...Nc6?! was Caruana's slip-up vs. Short, who showed no mercy: 9.Nxe4 dxe4 10.Bxe4 cxd4 11.0-0 1-0 (71) Short,N (2675)-Caruana,F (2827) Caleta 2017.] 9.fxg3! There are those who think this puts this line out of business -- but Lenderman doesn't lose his way readily, so he must have something in mind. [Way back in 2016: 9.hxg3 cxd4 10.g4 Nc6 11.a3 Bd7 12.Kf1 f6 13.Qe2 0-0-0 14.b4 1-0 (43) Carlsen,M (2855)-Grischuk,A (2747) ICC INT 2016] 9...Nc6 [9...cxd4 or right away] 10.0-0 White has -- had! -- a huge score here, with 12 wins and one loss! But now it's two losses... 10...h6 11.Kh1 cxd4 12.a3 Bd7 staying compact. [12...a5 13.g4 Bd7 14.Qe2 Be7 15.Bd2 0-0-0? (15...g5!?+/=) 16.b4! opening lines -- and marking it all just a bad idea. 16...axb4?! now it's worse 17.axb4 Bxb4 18.Rfb1 Qc5 19.Bxb4 Nxb4 20.Qe1 Nxd3 21.cxd3 Kb8 22.Qf2 Rc8 23.Nxd4 f6 24.Qb2 1-0 (24) Jacobson,B (2418)-Ostrovskiy,A (2450) New York 2019] 13.Qe1 [or 13.Qe2] 13...Be7 Stockfish 12 isn't so excited about this, but he's keeping his options open. 14.g4 Computer can't decide which knight-pawn to push: [14.b4] 14...0-0-0 giving up on c-file play for now. 15.b4 a6 16.g5? [Maybe the GM didn't know what he was up to! Here Ruiyang had a clear advantage after 16.Rb1!+/- with various pawn breaks on the queenside imminent.] 16...hxg5 17.Nxg5


[17.Bxg5 isn't really better: 17...Bxg5 18.Nxg5 Nxe5! 19.Qxe5 f6 when it's Black who's opening lines.] 17...Bxg5? Definitely a mistake. [17...Nxe5 18.Qxe5 f6 was winning, although of course there's still plenty of game. 19.Qg3 fxg5 20.Bxg5 Bxg5 21.Qxg5 Qd6 22.h3 e5] 18.Bxg5 Rdf8?! [18...Rdg8=] 19.Qg3 [19.Bf4+/=] 19...Qc7 20.Bf4 Rfg8?!


21.Qg5? [sets up attack and defense (g3 for the bishop) 21.Qe1 Rh5 22.a4 Rgh8 23.b5+/- and White is breaking in as well.] 21...Qd8! Black heads for an edge in an ending 22.Qxd8+ Rxd8 23.Bg3?! [23.Rab1] 23...Rdf8!=/+ 24.Rf2 Rh5 25.Re1 Ne7 26.Ref1?! Nf5! 27.Bxf5 exf5-/+ with ...g5 and ...f4 coming the difference of the bishops becomes glaring. 28.Kg1 g5 29.Rd2 f4 30.Bf2 Rfh8 [30...Bb5!] 31.h3


31...Bxh3? Surprising, what with over 25 minutes for Black vs. 12 for White. [Best was 31...Bb5-/+ followed by ...g4, destroying White's kingside at no cost.] 32.Bxd4?? The bluff isn't called! [After 32.gxh3 Rxh3 33.Rfd1 White slips out of any danger to his king, when the d-pawns are fodder. Stockfish makes this only a nominal advantage for Black.] 32...Be6 [32...Bf5!?] 33.Rf3 It's all Black now. 33...Kb8 [33...Rh1+ 34.Kf2 Rc1 infiltrates with both rooks.] 34.Kf2 Rh1 35.a4 Rb1 36.Rb3 Rxb3?! INACCURACY (-3.56) [Both rooks! 36...Rc1!] 37.cxb3 g4?! Starting to really slip. [37...Rh1-/+ 38.b5 axb5 39.axb5 Bf5] 38.b5? [When it's only rook the king can keep it out: 38.Kg1-/+] 38...Rh1 [38...axb5 39.axb5 Rh1] 39.bxa6 bxa6 40.b4 Rc1 41.b5 White: 3:44 Black: 41...axb5? There seems to be some unspoken rule that the GMs are required to use as little of their time as possible. [Here 41...Kb7 was better.; or even 41...a5 42.Bb6 Ra1] 42.axb5 Rc4 43.g3 f3 44.b6 Kb7 45.Ke3 Bd7?! [45...Ra4] 46.Ra2=/+ Ba4 47.Rd2 Bb5 48.Ra2 Ba6


49.Rd2?! [49.Rh2!] 49...Rc1 [49...Ra4] 50.Kf4 Be2? 51.Ke3? [51.Bf2 is a draw] 51...Rc4 52.Ra2?? Down to less than a minute, Ruiyang overlooks a basic tactic. [52.Kf2 Ra4 53.Be3 Ra1 54.Bd4 Ra3 55.Bc5 Rb3 56.Bd4 is hard to make progress still.] 52...Rxd4 53.Kxd4 f2 A bit bumpy, but there's no question that Lenderman created ongoing problems for Ruiyang, some real some maybe a bit psychological (the piece sacrifice) -- and they eentually worked. 0-1

(3) Guseinov (GGuseinov),Gadir GM (2700) - Boldi (etvat),Ethan CM (2117) [C06]
MI January TNMO (3.2), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 [7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Nf3 Qc7 is still popular. The text might gambit the d-pawn, but more often Black tries to keep it along similar lines to the above.] 7...cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 [8...Qb6 9.0-0 Nxd4 is the Gambit Accepted. Made famous by Korchnoi, although Shamkovich played it a few years earlier and Purdy seventeen years before that! 10.Nxd4 Qxd4 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qa4 Qb4 (12...a6 13.a3 Qc6 14.Qf4 Nc5 15.Bc2 b5 16.Bd2 Bb7 17.Rac1 1-0 (35) Shamkovich,L-Jakhin,R Moscow 1964) 13.Qc2 h6 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.Rac1 Be7 16.Qa4 Qd8 17.Rc2 Kf8 18.Rfc1 Nb6 19.Qg4 1-0 (31) Korchnoi, V-Udovcic,M Leningrad 1967] 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Re1 0-0 12.h3 [Here's a quixotic game by Carlsen when he was barely over 2800 (!): Why was the game over? 12.Nf1 Qb6 13.Rb1 Nb4 14.a3 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 The light-squared bishop isn't so missed in this line, as long as Black still has his behind those pawns. 15...Bd7 16.Ng3 Bb5 17.Qd1 Rae8 18.Ne5 Bxe5 19.Rxe5 Nd7 20.Rg5 e5 21.Be3 h6 22.Rh5 Qg6 23.Rc1 Bc6 1-0 (23) Carlsen,M (2802) -Ponomariov,R (2744) Moscow 2010. Perhaps 24.Rh4 spooked him, but it's nothing special after 24...Rf7] 12...Nh5 13.Nb3 Nf4 14.Bxf4 Rxf4 15.Rc1


White has a positional advantage, which Black was unable to shake. 15...Qf6N [15...Bd7 was played already and Black held on after inaccuracy by White. 1/2-1/2 (36) Bukowska,K (2026)-Kumor,L (2120) Kolobrzeg 2009] 16.Qe2?! [16.Re3!] 16...Bd7 [16...a5 could well be even.] 17.Ne5 [17.Bb5 to control e5 before occupying it.] 17...Bxe5 18.dxe5 Qg5 Losing the e5 outpost is okay if White can get d4 for the knight -- and now the kingside majority could be dangerous if it ever gets rolling. 19.Qe3 Raf8 20.a3?!= [20.g3!?+/=] 20...d4?


This is flawed; Guseinov has no qualms about his next move. [20...h6 is even] 21.Qg3! Qxg3 22.fxg3 Rf2 23.Rc2?! [23.Nc5! Bc8 24.b4 (24.Bc2!? might be even better) ] 23...Rxc2 24.Bxc2 Rd8 25.Nc5 Bc8 26.Nd3 Not ideal, but White still has a tiny bit of an edge. 26...b6 27.Bb3 Kf7 28.Rc1 Bd7 29.Ba2?! a5 [29...Rc8! could start to go Black's way.] 30.Kf2 Ke7 31.Ke2 Rc8 32.Kd2 Na7 33.Rf1 [33.Rxc8=] 33...Bb5=/+ Black has gotten well into the game, with what advantage there is now. 34.Rf4?! Bxd3? Letting White centralize his king, important in almost all endings. [34...Nc6! puts pressure on White just to hold on.] 35.Kxd3 Nc6 36.Ke4= d3!? Ethan elects to trade pawns, expecting the e-pawn to be a healthier passer. [36...a4! when 37.Bc4 runs into 37...Nxe5 38.Kxe5 Rxc4 -- the pawn ending is lost.] 37.Kxd3 White decides not to live with that runaway passed pawn, but now it's that e-pawn for Black vs. that silly majority on the kingside for White. 37...Nxe5+ 38.Kd2 Ng6 [38...Rd8+ 39.Kc2 Nc6 40.Re4 e5 again, a good pawn after all. (A French Defense player's dream!)] 39.Re4 e5?!


40.Re3!+/= White's rook steps back and gives itself access to the b- and f-files. 40...Rd8+ 41.Ke2 Rc8 42.Bb1 Kf6 43.Rf3+ Ke7 44.Be4 [It's hard to understand why the computer wants to play 44.Bxg6 when the bishop so clearly is the better piece.; 44.Rb3! Rc6 45.Ke3 with Be4 and further pressure.] 44...Rc4 45.Kd3 Rd4+ 46.Ke3 Ke6 47.h4 Maybe not best, but it looks a bit scary. Probably White should think about that rook's passivity. 47...Ne7! A dramatic turn of events! 48.Bxh7 g6 White can always free the bishop with h4-h5, but with no plus at all. 49.Rf8 The best attempt.


49...Nf5+?! Too soon? [49...b5! gets things going on the queenside should the b2 pawn disappear, and if White's rook goes to b8 or a8, then 50...Nf5+ whips up a strong counterplay.] 50.Ke2? Inaccurate again! [50.Kf2 Rd2+ 51.Kg1 is ready for everything. 51...Nxg3 a) 51...Rxb2? 52.Bxg6+- and the h-pawn marches; b) 51...Ne7 52.g4!+/- (52.Rf2? Rd1+ 53.Rf1 Rd8! 54.h5 gxh5 55.Bc2 Rd4) ; 52.Bxg6 Ne2+ 53.Kh2 Nf4 54.Be4 Rxb2 55.Rh8 is still annoying for Black.] 50...Nxg3+ 51.Kf2 Ne4+ [or just back: 51...Nf5 52.g3 Rd2+] 52.Kg1 Nf6 or many others are drawn 53.Bxg6 Rxh4 Ethan has done very well! On the board. But there is the very real prolem of the clocks: White: 16:24 Black: 1:31. 54.Rb8 Nd7 [54...Nd5=] 55.Rb7


55...Nc5? That cost Black over two thirds of his time! The pawn is going, but Black has the best pawn on the board, the e-pawn. The knight does a better job of support (not to mention harassing the bishop) from e5: [55...e4! 56.Kf2 Ne5! 57.Rxb6+ Kd5 is a draw. Note also that ... e3+! can't be taken (fork!), and the fantastic knight's square all but dominates the bishop. 58.Be8 e3+! 59.Ke2 Rg4 Here's a reduction: 60.Bh5 Rxg2+ 61.Kxe3 Nc4+ 62.Kf3 Rxb2 and there's nothing to play for (except the clock of course).] 56.Rxb6+ Kd5


Now Guseinov shows a nice tactic -- always around in the ending! 57.b4! Tempo on the knight! 57...axb4 58.Bf7+! Driving the king to a fatal square! 58...Ne6 Any king move allowed 59.Rxb4+ and -- the rook hangs on h4. 59.Bxe6+ Kc5 60.Rxb4 No time to find the "Resign" button -- but the brothers are famous -- they play to mate. 60...Rh6 61.Bb3 Rd6 62.Re4 Rd3 63.Rxe5+ Kd6 64.Rd5+ Not just a joke -- In fact this is the fastest win. 64...Rxd5 65.Bxd5 Kxd5 66.Kf2 Kc5 67.g4 Kb5 68.g5 Kc6 69.g6 Kd6 70.g7 Ke7 71.g8Q Kd6 72.Qg5 Kc7 73.Qb5 Kd6 74.a4 Kc7 75.a5 Kc8 76.a6 Kc7 77.a7 Kd6 78.a8Q Ke7 79.Qaa6 Kd8 80.Qbb7 Ke8 81.Qaa8# A very interesting game from start to finish. Grandmaster Guseinov might have let the rope slip here and there, but most it was climbing forward. But Boldi definitely took advantage of the slips, and was so close to what would have been quite an upset. Credit to them both! 1-0

(4) Liou (artliou),Art (2034) - Zhou (mwncklmann),Chelsea (1886) [B76]
MI January TNMO (3.6), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 [9.Bc4 is of course the other main line.; 9.g4!? isn't completely out of the picture, either.] 9...Bd7?! One of the hidden advantage of 9.0-0-0 -- a lot of players don't like the positions after 9...d5 and so just plow ahead with the standard plan against 9.Bc4, thus ending up one or even two moves behind with their attack. In the Dragon you shouldn't be willing or able to accept that. [9...Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 also has that sort of problem, in that 11.Kb1! Qa5? (11...Qc7 12.g4 Rfc8 13.h4 Qa5 and there's the wasted move 14.a3 (14.Qg5!?) ) 12.Nd5!; If you're going to play the Dragon, you might as well delve into 9...d5! It's not as full-blooded as the lines after 9.Bc4, but Black definitely finds play, if the intricacies are appreciated.] 10.g4 Rc8 11.h4 [GM John Shaw in his 1. e4 repertoire series suggests 11.Kb1 Ne5 12.Be2!? willing to make it "only" one tempo ahead of the 9.Bc4 lines, but that's enough to aggrieve Black plenty.] 11...h5 12.gxh5 Nxh5 13.Rg1 Kh7 White seems to have the opening advantage here in any case: [13...Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Bxd4 15.Qxd4 Be6 16.Rg5 Qb6 17.Qd2 Rfd8 18.Rb5 Qg1 19.Rg5 Qb6 20.Na4 Qc7 21.Rxh5 d5 22.Bd3 dxe4 23.Qh6 gxh5 24.Rg1+ Bg4 25.Bxe4 f6 26.fxg4 Qh2 27.Re1 1-0 (27) Fedorchuk,S (2599)-Stocek,J (2572) Germany 2006] 14.Be2 Nxd4 15.Bxd4


15...Rh8?!N [15...Bxd4 16.Qxd4 Rc5 17.Nd5 e5 18.Qe3 f5 19.f4 exf4 20.Nxf4 Nxf4 21.Qxf4 Qe7 22.Qg3 Rf6 23.h5 Be8 24.hxg6+ Bxg6 25.Bh5 Qf7 26.Bxg6+ Rxg6 27.Rh1+ Kg8 28.Qh4 Qg7 29.Qd8+ Kf7 30.Rxd6 Rxd6 31.Qxd6 Rxc2+ 32.Kxc2 Qg2+ 33.Kc3 Qf3+ 34.Qd3 Qxh1 35.Qd7+ Kg8 36.Qc8+ Kf7 37.Qxb7+ Kf6 1-0 (37) Nowicki,B (2138)-Winiarski,M (1857) Warsaw 2011] 16.Bxg7 Nxg7 17.e5?! [17.f4 Kg8 18.f5! gives White a terrific attack] 17...Bf5 18.exd6 Qxd6 19.Qxd6 exd6 20.Rxd6 White has won a pawn but Black's king is now safe and pawn structure solid. 20...Kg8 21.Rh1 Kf8 22.Rd2 g5 23.h5 Rxh5 24.Rg1 Ne6 25.f4 Rh8 [25...Rh2 26.fxg5 Rc5 should gain the g-pawn back. Play might continue 27.Bf3 Rxd2 28.Kxd2 b6 29.Be4 Kg7 30.b4 Re5 31.Bxf5 Rxf5 32.Ne4 Kg6] 26.fxg5 Rg8 27.Nb5! This knight causes a lot of trouble. 27...Nxg5?! [27...Ke7 28.Nd6?! Rxc2+!] 28.Nd6 Rd8


29.Nxf5! Rxd2 30.Kxd2 Ne4+ 31.Ke3 Rxg1 32.Kxe4 The bishop and knight should win against the rook with best play. 32...Rb1 33.b3 Rb2 34.Bd3 Rxa2 35.Kd5 Ra5+ 36.Kd6 a6 37.Kc7 b5 38.Kb6 Ra2 39.Nd4


The white knight journeys around the board to take the queenside pawns. There is nothing Black can do. 39...Kg7 40.Nc6 Ra1 41.Nb8 Kh6 42.Nxa6 Kg5 43.Kxb5 f5 44.Nc5 f4 45.Ne4+ Kg4 46.Kc5 f3 47.b4 Kf4 48.b5 Re1 49.Nd2 f2 50.b6 A well played ending by Art. 1-0

(5) Gaffagan (carbon64),Steven (2058) - Weng (ninjaforce),Nicholas Ruo (2045) [B50]
MI January TNMO (3.5), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Theoretically this is not so challenging yet it gets into less trodden ground. 4...dxe5 5.Nxe5 a6 6.a4 Qc7 7.Nc4 Nc6 8.d3


8...b6!?N [Predecessor: 8...Nd4 9.Ne2 Nxe2?! (9...e5) 10.Bxe2 Bf5 11.Bf3 favored White in: 1-0 (22) Mamedov,R (2688)-Wojtaszek,R (2749) Tallinn 2016] 9.g3 Bb7 [9...Bg4! crosses White's plan up a bit. If 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.Qxg4 Nd4 is active] 10.Bg2 e6 [10...Ne5 11.0-0 Bxg2 12.Kxg2 Qc6+ 13.f3 Nxc4 14.dxc4 e6 15.a5 gives White slightly better pawn structure] 11.0-0 Bd6 12.Nxd6+ Qxd6 13.Bf4 [13.Bg5!] 13...Qd7 14.Ne4 Nxe4 15.dxe4 Rd8 16.Qg4 0-0 17.Rad1 Qe7 18.c3 Nb8 Steven keeps some pressure with the two bishops.. 19.h4 Kh8 20.Rfe1 e5 21.Bg5 f6 22.Be3 Bc8 23.Qe2 Be6 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Rd1 Rd7 Nicholas has kept pace and so far is holding the game nearly level. 26.b4!? cxb4 27.Rxd7 Bxd7 28.cxb4 Qxb4 29.Qd1!


This plans to infiltrate with the queen. White doesn't worry about pawns but looks to back rank troubles to gain something big. Black must be very precise to hold the balance. 29...g6? [29...a5 30.Qd5 h6 is equal chances. White's pressure will be enough to win the a and b pawns while losing his a4 pawn] 30.Qd5 [30.a5! bxa5?! 31.Ba7 wins a piece] 30...Qe7 31.Bxb6?! [31.Qb7 Nc6 32.Bxb6 keeps a big edge with the white a-pawn still alive] 31...Nc6? [31...Bxa4! 32.Qa8 Qf8 33.Bc7 Nd7 34.Qxa6 Qc5 35.Bxe5 Nxe5 36.Qxa4 Kg7 should hold the draw as the knight is good with all pawns on one side. White has an extra pawn but it is hard to advance.] 32.a5 Now the active white bishops and queen will win the a-pawn with decisive advantage. 32...Qe6 33.Qc5 Kg7 34.Qc3 Qd6 35.Kh2 Qb4 36.Qd3 Be6?! [36...Nb8 37.Qd5 Bc6 38.Qd8 Nd7 39.Qc7 Qc4 40.Be3 Bb5 41.Qd6 Qf7 42.Bh3 is an improvement though still should be lost] 37.Qxa6 the passed a-pawn with the two active white bishops make this an easy win 37...Ne7 38.Qb7 Bc8 39.Qc7 Black resigned 1-0

(6) Sztaray (rekasztaray),Reka (1533) - Li (figsnoring),Jerry (977) [C50]
MI January TNMO u1800 (4.6), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0 d6 6.Nd5 0-0 7.d3 h6 8.Nxf6+ [8.c3 a6 9.Re1 Ba7 10.h3 Nxd5 11.Bxd5 Ne7 12.Bb3 Ng6 13.d4 Qf6 14.Be3 Be6 15.Bc2 was just a slight edge for White in Vachier Lagrave - Nakamura, Internet 2018.] 8...Qxf6 9.Qe2 [9.h3 would prevent pins and avoid any trouble] 9...Bg4 10.Be3 Bd4 [10...Nd4 11.Bxd4 Bxd4 gains the bishop pair] 11.c3 Bxe3 12.Qxe3 [12.fxe3! would open the useful f-file] 12...Ne7 [12...Bxf3 13.Qxf3 Qxf3 14.gxf3 Ne7 15.d4 Ng6 heads for the very nice f4 square] 13.Nd2 Ng6 14.f3 Bd7 15.Nb3? Nf4?! [15...b5! 16.Bd5 c6 traps the bishop] 16.d4?! [16.g3!] 16...Qg5 17.Qd2 stopping the threat of ...Nh3+ to win the white queen since it is now defended by the knight 17...Ba4 [17...b5!] 18.g3?


18...Bxb3 Now the white queen is undefended and ...Nh3+ threatens to win it, so Black has just won a clean piece. 19.Kh1 Bxc4 20.gxf4 exf4 21.Rg1 Qh5 22.Qxf4 c6 [22...Rae8 getting everyone in play should be a straightforward way to convert the extra piece into a win.] 23.Rg3 Be6 24.Rag1 g6 25.Qf6! White is still down a piece, but is beginning to get some play on the kingside. 25...Kh7 26.f4! Rg8 27.f5 Bxa2 28.d5 cxd5?! [28...g5 keeps the kingside intact] 29.Qxf7+ Rg7 30.fxg6+ Kh8 31.Qe6 Rag8? [31...Qe2! would still win as it's difficult for White to avoid the queen trade] 32.Rh3! Suddenly White's attack has crashed through, just in time. 32...Rxg6


33.Qxg8+ Rxg8 34.Rxh5 White has a winning ending with the exchange ahead. 34...Kh7 35.Rxg8 Kxg8 36.exd5 Kg7 37.Kg1 Kg6 38.Rh4 Bxd5 39.Rd4 Bc6 40.Rxd6+ Kg5 41.Kf2 h5 42.b4 a6 43.c4 h4 44.b5 axb5 45.cxb5 Be4 46.b6 Kg4 47.Rd4 Kf4 48.h3! zugzwang 48...Ke5 49.Ke3 Bg2 50.Rxh4 Kd6 51.Rh6+ Kc5 52.h4 Bc6 53.h5 Kxb6 54.Rxc6+ Kxc6 55.h6 b5 56.h7 b4 57.h8Q b3 58.Qb2 Kc5 59.Qxb3 Kd6 60.Qb5 Ke6 61.Ke4 Kd6 62.Qd5+ Ke7 63.Ke5 Ke8 64.Kf6 Kf8 65.Qf7# 1-0

(7) Brown (nmbrown2),Nicholas (1495) - Suarez (SebbyMeister),Sebastian (811) [D12]
MI January TNMO u1800 (4.2), 19.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bd3 Bg6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Re1 Logical play, looking to get in the break e3-e4. Previously seen was [8.b3 Nbd7 9.Bb2 0-0 10.Bxg6 hxg6 11.Qc2 Re8 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 with just a minor edge to White, Indjic,A (2607)-Jobava,B (2603) Titled Tuesday 12th Jan, 21 Jan 2021] 8...0-0


9.e4N [A predecessor was 9.c5 b6 10.b4 a5 11.Na4 b5 12.Nb6 Ra7 13.bxa5 Rxa5 14.a4 Bxd3 15.Qxd3 bxa4 16.Rxa4 Rb5 ½-½ (66), Vilaphen,P-Yousuf,A (1790) Online Olym Base A, 25 July 2020.] 9...dxe4 10.Nxe4 Bh5 11.Be3 Ng4?! [11...Nxe4 12.Bxe4 Nd7 is a fully equal position] 12.h3?! This justifies Black's knight move. [12.Bf4!+/- keeps the bishop and leaves the black knight misplaced on g4] 12...Nxe3 13.Rxe3? [Losing a pawn. 13.fxe3 would keep d4 protected] 13...Bxf3 14.Qxf3 Qxd4 15.Re2 Nd7 16.Qh5? oops. This is tooo eager to try to get checkmate on h7 16...Qxd3 not much that White can do now.Black has the extra piece and a solid kingside, so no cheapos will be coming. 17.Re3 Qd4 18.Rae1 Nf6! Trade when you are ahead. 19.Nxf6+ Qxf6 20.Rf3 Qg5! 21.Re5 Qxh5 22.Rxh5 Rad8 23.Ra5 a6 24.Re5?! White was lost anyway but this makes it quick 24...Rd1+


White resigned since 25. Kh2 Bd6 wins the rook on e5. 0-1

SwissSys Standings. Jan 2021 TNM Online: 1800+ (Standings (no tiebrk))

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 GM Aleksan Lenderman 12787646 2704 AlexanderL W29 W17 W10 D2     3.5  
2 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2700 gguseinov W13 W8 W15 D1     3.5  
3 Michael Walder 10345120 2106 FlightsOfFancy W23 W14 D6 W5     3.5  
4 FM Kyron Wa Griffith 12860484 2504 KyronGriffith W21 W18 H--- H---     3.0  
5 FM Eric Yuhan Li 15688436 2368 kingandqueen2017 W22 W19 W16 L3     3.0  
6 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow D30 W33 D3 W18     3.0  
7 Daniel Lin 15176393 2009 SmilyFace4 L25 W23 W31 W15     3.0  
8 Tejas Mahesh 15086558 1997 ChessTX9 W26 L2 W34 W17     3.0  
9 Nathan Fong 13001390 1981 nathanf314 W37 L15 W25 W16     3.0  
10 Ruiyang Yan 15462690 2242 jij2018 W31 W25 L1 D12     2.5  
11 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 2045 ninjaforce D33 W30 L17 W27     2.5  
12 David Benja Askin 13776967 2023 David_Askin L24 W35 W20 D10     2.5  
13 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga L2 W36 D27 W19     2.5  
14 Ethan Guo 16761994 1644 LightningDragon8 W28 L3 D30 W29     2.5  
15 Ethan Boldi 15088362 2120 etvat W35 W9 L2 L7     2.0  
16 William Sartorio 14715380 2063 unusualkid W36 W24 L5 L9     2.0  
17 Steven Gaffagan 12542809 2058 carbon64 W32 L1 W11 L8     2.0  
18 Arthur Liou 12906142 2034 artliou W34 L4 W22 L6     2.0  
19 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways W27 L5 W24 L13     2.0  
20 Guy Argo 12517167 1928 GuyArgo H--- H--- L12 W33     2.0  
21 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf L4 H--- D32 W34     2.0  
22 Chelsea Zhou 15239016 1886 mwncklmann L5 W26 L18 W32     2.0  
23 Adam Mercado 16571026 1831 A-boy415 L3 L7 W37 W28     2.0  
24 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1766 pgstar3 W12 L16 L19 W31     2.0  
25 Max Hao 16083648 1761 Joseph_Truelsons_Fan W7 L10 L9 W30     2.0  
26 Roger V V Shi 16191192 1751 1-h4-1-0 L8 L22 W35 W37     2.0  
27 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L19 B--- D13 L11     1.5  
28 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 mangonel L14 D32 D33 L23     1.0  
29 Ashik Uzzaman 13178575 1940 ashikuzzaman L1 L34 W36 L14     1.0  
30 Nicholas Ar Boldi 15088356 1883 nicarmt D6 L11 D14 L25     1.0  
31 Christian Jensen 12780890 1844 Christianjensen23 L10 W37 L7 L24     1.0  
32 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1795 3Ke31-0 L17 D28 D21 L22     1.0  
33 Sanjeev Anand 14436451 1784 chessp1234 D11 L6 D28 L20     1.0  
34 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 chessappeals L18 W29 L8 L21     1.0  
35 Patrick John Kut 15898438 1843 pkutchess L15 L12 L26 D36 H---   0.5  
36 Ranen A Lardent 12614986 1820 dashrndrx L16 L13 L29 D35     0.5  
37 Kevin Babb 15480497 1724 Babbaliath L9 L31 L23 L26     0.0  

SwissSys Standings. Jan 2021 TNM Online: u1800 (Standings (no tiebrk))

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 Aaron Mic Nicoski 12797931 1789 KingSmasher35 X6 W13 W14 W8     4.0  
2 Sebastian Suarez 16875347 811 Sebbymeister W5 W4 W7 W9     4.0  
3 Mateo Hansen 14907254 1687 mateosh W25 L7 W23 W16     3.0  
4 Reka Sztaray 14656444 1533 rekasztaray W15 L2 W13 W14     3.0  
5 Rama Krish Chitta 17350313 1475 draidus L2 W15 W19 W18     3.0  
6 Elliott Regan 15032065 1079 TTVchessmaster F1 W27 W22 W10     3.0  
7 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1057 andrewballantyne W21 W3 L2 W11     3.0  
8 Ethan Sun 16964125 1040 sfdeals W10 W11 W16 L1     3.0  
9 Nicholas M Brown 12446259 1495 nmbrown2 H--- W21 W18 L2     2.5  
10 Ahyan Zaman 15035222 1699 ahyanzaman L8 W25 W24 L6     2.0  
11 David Rakonitz 12931024 1622 MechAnjin X28 L8 W12 L7     2.0  
12 Michael Hilliard 12279170 1446 Echecsmike W17 L16 L11 W21     2.0  
13 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 W27 L1 L4 W22     2.0  
14 Jerry Li 16551291 977 figsnoring W19 W24 L1 L4     2.0  
15 Charvi Atreya 16816706 944 Charvii L4 L5 W27 W23     2.0  
16 Shiv Sohal 30032729 861 dribbler23 W22 W12 L8 L3     2.0  
17 Pablo Jose Hansen 14971067 797 Dragonslayer470 L12 L22 W25 W24     2.0  
18 Bill J Day 30060498 782 mrbillstunes1 W20 W23 L9 L5     2.0  
19 Marina Xiao 16380642 1551 maxskiff L14 W29 L5 D20     1.5  
20 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L18 L26 W29 D19     1.5  
21 Christophe Nelson 13742111 1700 ludimagisterjosephus L7 L9 W26 L12     1.0  
22 Leon Diaz Herrera 17355661 1520 Aeqetes L16 W17 L6 L13     1.0  
23 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1519 rimus11 W26 L18 L3 L15     1.0  
24 Valerie Jade 17168772 1490 Evariel W29 L14 L10 L17     1.0  
25 Justin Brunet 30055583 1026 night_breeze L3 L10 L17 W26     1.0  
26 Bruce Hedman 17344551 851 Bruce_Hedman L23 W20 L21 L25     1.0  
27 Samuel Tsen Brown 16380615 662 ComfyQueso L13 L6 L15 W29     1.0  
28 Chaitanya Atreya 14126671 1017 catreya F11 U--- U--- U---     0.0  
29 Cleveland W Lee 30037403 812 Vincitore51745 L24 L19 L20 L27     0.0  

 Thursday Night Marathon Report

Round 2 of 5 finished on Friday in our newest marathon installment, with the longer time control stretching out the tension and drama in some of the games. Top seed GM Gadir Guseinov put in a dominant performance against Vishva Nanugonda on board 1, showing that GM strength and experience can make even the most talented up and coming players look very mortal. There were no major upsets in the round, but the games will tighten next week, as the cream is rising to the top. Here are the current standings:

SwissSys Standings. Jan-Feb 2021 Thursday Night Marathon: Open (Standings (no tiebrk))

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2700 gguseinov W19 W14       2.0
2 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W20 W13       2.0
3 FM Allan G Savage 10014999 2200 duchamp64 W21 W16       2.0
4 NM Mike Walder 10345120 2106 FlightsOfFancy W22 W15       2.0
5 Arthur Liou 12906142 2034 artliou W23 W25       2.0
6 Daniel Lin 15176393 2009 SmilyFace4 W24 W17       2.0
7 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 kclemens W31 W27       2.0
8 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga W32 W26       2.0
9 Stewart Katz 12458563 1835 knvsback W33 H---       1.5
10 Jacob S Wang 17083655 1560 jacobchess857 H--- W30       1.5
11 Reka Sztaray 14656444 1533 rekasztaray H--- W29       1.5
12 NM Thomas Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf L25 W31       1.0
13 Kagan Uz 16434922 1809 uzkuzk W34 L2       1.0
14 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1795 3Ke31-0 W35 L1       1.0
15 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 cccalboy W36 L4       1.0
16 Aaron Nicoski 12797931 1789 KingSmasher35 W37 L3       1.0
17 Christopher Nelson 13742111 1700 LudiMagisterJosephus W38 L6       1.0
18 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L26 W32       1.0
19 Jeff C Andersen 11296106 1643 zenwabi L1 W33       1.0
20 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf L2 W34       1.0
21 Marina Xiao 16380642 1551 maxskiff L3 W35       1.0
22 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1519 rimus11 L4 W36       1.0
23 Yali Dancig-Perlman 16280288 1428 noydan100 L5 W37       1.0
24 Nicholas Reed 16154827 1416 NXBex L6 W38       1.0
25 Kevin Sun 16898540 1158 kevin_mx_sun W12 L5       1.0
26 Alexander Casassovici 30101063 unr. zatmonkey W18 L8       1.0
27 Edward Pernicka 30097683 unr. copernickas B--- L7       1.0
28 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1766 pgstar3 H--- U---       0.5
29 Raphael Hofmann 30103963 unr. justkidding3 H--- L11       0.5
30 Jared Michael Ruiz 30106002 unr. jpoka1 H--- L10       0.5
31 Akshaj Pulijala 16497860 1406 loltheawesomedude L7 L12       0.0
32 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L8 L18       0.0
33 Andrew Fu 16403798 1152 geese L9 L19     H--- 0.0
34 Rahim Dharssi 12693378 1018 rahimftd L13 L20       0.0
35 Adithya Chitta 16695036 954 adichi L14 L21       0.0
36 Jake Chi Hang Li 17144246 946 TanFlatPupet L15 L22       0.0
37 Bruce Hedman 17344551 851 Bruce_Hedman L16 L23       0.0
38 Danny Cao 16939797 843 caodanny L17 L24       0.0

TD Corner

Judit Sztaray

PanAm Fair Play Measures
& What's Ahead for US Amateur Team West

During the preparation for the recently held Pan American Intercollegiate Championship, just as with any online tournament, one of the most important points was to ensure the fair play of the games and of the tournament. When designing the requirements for any tournament, the organizer first and foremost has to know their audience, who is playing and what they are used to and what will make them feel safe, secure, comfortable, yet feel that the conditions are fair and can ensure clean play.

The PanAm Championship traditionally has many titled and high rated players, players who are used to playing with cameras, even multiple cameras pointing at them. They also expect these conditions to feel that their opponent is also playing fairly, without any outside assistance. This is, we feel, the main point: do and require what makes your players confident that they have fair and clean playing conditions! Since this is the college community's premier championship event, we knew we had to do a two-camera monitoring setup. This meant that every player had two cameras pointing at them: one facing them directly from the computer they played their games (front facing camera) and one side-camera, which showed the computer they played on with their screen visible, the player and part of the surroundings of the players. Every team had to attend a mandatory QC checkin session on Sunday morning, during which we checked their cameras and setup and tasked the players to make sure that their teammates have the correct setup too.

Every five team matches were assigned to one zoom meeting. If one does the math, that means in every zoom meeting there were 20 games, 40 players, and a total of 80 cameras, along with the tournament directors (TDs). Experienced TDs have multiple screens up, usually all day long so that they are able to quickly scan through and watch the players, as well as monitor the games on the platform and have the google sheet open to see which games are finished. Excellent example is National TD Martha Underwood's setup with her gorgeous background in Arizona. 

This past week we sent the tournament to US Chess Federation for rating, and we are happy to announce that there were no fair play violations during the entire tournament. This is mostly due to the integrity of the players, but the monitoring and clearly-announced consequences, which included the filing of a comlaint to the USCF Ethics Committee, help deter any temptations to use a little help.

The PanAm was a wonderful event, and we all gained valuable experience for future tournaments. We have coming a very similar event: 2021 US Amateur Team West National Online Championship. Fair play measures will be similar at this upoming tournament: we will be requiring one camera on all players to monitor them all times during active games. We decided to require this from both sections, even though originally we planned on only requiring for the 1800+ section. Why not two cameras you may ask? That is because we have to focus on the main goal: the players to feel secure, safe, conditions to be fair, and yet be comfortable. We are confident that catching cheaters is done by reviewing the games, seeing Dr. Ken Regan's statistics and numbers, and any games that are questionable, the recording of the player playing the game will then be useful and once camera will be efficient. But we also hope that updating the webcam monitoring requirement to the u1800 section, players will feel that they are provided a clean tournament and can compete in this fun and important national championship. Similar to PanAm, USATW will also provide QC checkin opportunities for anyone who wants to test their setup!

We look forward to seeing everyone in a week, as we hold the first in the series of regional Team National Online Championships!

Any questions on setup or details, please email us on [email protected]

Chess Beyond Borders

Chess in Slums Africa (CIS-A), which recently celebrated their two year anniversary, is a historic organization which works with youth in Nigerian living in poverty. Over the years, they’ve been able to do that successfully, both in part due to the extremely vibrant support from the CIS-A volunteer team and also the larger chess ecosystem that have helped to elevate CIS to new heights. With signficiant support from groups like FIDE and Chesskid, CIS-A has been able to expand its reach while being bolstered by a strong social media presence.

In early July, I discovered the story of Chess In Slums through that social media presence and, once I learned about their story in more depth, I was inspired to reach out as the UC Merced chess club president to orchestrate a friendly match between UCM and the kids from the CIS-A academy. Just after reaching out and connecting on twitter, we arranged many calls on Zoom and WhatsApp to plan the event more thoroughly and actualize that vision. In the weeks just prior to the match, I ended up arranging meets with the CIS-A admin team and some of the kids, which really put how monumental this was into perspective. We were able to harness technology to make tangible differences in peoples lives!

On September 26, 2020, we successfully played the Chess Beyond Borders match to a draw, highlighting the skill of the students. Despite heavy rain and internet issues, the games were still amazing, with one of the Nigerian children winning scholarship support from an international donor as a result! Even after the match itself, we felt the love from the community as they offered the team and I a red-carpet tour of the community via Zoom.

Just after the match, Tunde and I continued talking about the coverage of the match from chess/mainstream outlets and about working on other projects to continue fueling Chess Beyond Borders as an initiative. Over time, I ended up assimilating into CIS-A themselves and Tunde, in late October, invited me onto that administrative team as a Director of Outreach. Being able to continue using chess as a gateway to helping bring positive change has honestly been a huge dream, and one that helped get launched by Judit and Abel helping propel me into the USCF Tournament Director space.

Especially now, as we work on CIS-A’s newest endeavor (our January fundraising campaign) or serving as a TD in the most recent Pan-American Intercollegiate, I am incredibly grateful.

Aaron Thompson – Chess In Slums Director of Outreach/President of UC Merced Chess

Take on the Mechanics' Chess Staff Live on Twitch!

The chess room staff at the Mechanics' Institute are taking on all comers now weekly, as each of us will live stream an arena tournament where we will commentate our own games! You might be playing 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian, or perhaps our commentator and instructor extraoridinaire FM Paul Whitehead. 

Arenas are an hour long, and the chess staff will be paired against the first available player to play at the conclusion of their games. All other players will be paired with the next available opponent. This will continue for the whole hour. While there is no guarantee you will be paired against a chess staff member, you will have a very good chance at it, depending on the number of players playing. All games will be streamed live on our Twitch channel:

Check out the times here:

FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 1/26:

GM Nick de Firmian Arena Thursdays 5pm-6pm, 1/28:

See you in the arena!

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

Monday's 4:00-5:30PM - Mechanics' Chess Cafe - Ongoing

Casual meeting to talk about chess, life and everything. Join 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead as they give a lecture and class in a fun casual atmosphere where you can discuss games, learn strategy, discuss chess current events and interact in a fun casual atmosphere. Enter our Monday chess café for the pure love of the game. Class suitable for ALL level of players and FREE for MI members.

FREE for Mechanics' members. $5 for non-members.

More information:


Monday's 6:30-8:00PM - Game Review Class with FM Paul Whitehead

Course Dates: Ongoing

Registration Fee: $20/class for Mechanics' member, $25/class for non-member

Wednesday's 5:00-6:30PM - Free Adult Beginner Class for Mechanics' Members

New session starts on January 27, 2021!

Are you an adult who wants to put learning chess on top of your New Year's resolution! Get a head start with us at the Mechanics' Institute! This virtual class is open to any MI member who has no knowledge of the game or who knows the very basics and wants to improve. Taught by MI Chess Director Abel Talamantez along with other MI staff, we will patiently walk through all the basics at a pace suitable for our class. Our goal is to teach piece movement basics, checkmate patterns, importance of development, and general strategy. We will also show students how to play online so they may practice. The goal of the class is to open a new world of fun and joy through the magic and beauty of chess, from one of the oldest and proudest chess clubs in the world. 

Registration: Free for MI members. Members will have to register online to secure their spot and to receive an email confirming the Zoom link.

More information:

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Events Schedule

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club will continue to hold regular online events in various forms. Here is the upcoming schedule for players:

1/26 Tuesday - January 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2

1/28 Thursday - January/February 2021 Thursday Night Marathon
Format: 5SS G/60+5

Past Club Tournament results are here:
Before playing in our online tournaments, be sure to do the following:
1. Sign up and log in to
2. Sign up to be a member of Mechanics' Institute Chess Club at You need to become a member before you can play.
3. Please fill out the Google Form, so we know who you are, and can inform you about changes, and ad hoc events:

Any questions? [email protected]


Scholastic Corner

By Judit Sztaray

Upcoming Classes

2021 Winter sessions started last week: it's wonderful to see many of our returning students as well as some of the new students!

The following classes are offered and some have a few spots available for prorated, late joins:

  • All Girls Class with Coach Colin - Mondays 4-5PM
  • Beginner / Intermediate Level with Coach Andy - Tuesdays 3-4PM
  • Intermediate with Coach Andy - Thursdays 4-5PM - FULL
  • Intermediate/Advance with Coach Andy - Thursdays 5-6PM

New Special Class for Advanced Scholastic Players
Tactics, Tactics, Tactics!
Fridays 3-4PM with Coach Andy

Designed specially for players with ChessKid rating 1000+, and will cover the following topics: things to look for on the board to find tactics, how to set up tactics in your own games, middlegame tactics famous tactical players, endgame tactics, and more!


Upcoming Tournaments

Players have to be part of Mechanics' Group on ChessKid. Need help how to join? Watch the tutorial here:

1) Free daily non-rated tournaments on
Tournaments start at 4PM and players can join the tournaments 30 minutes before the tournament.

2) USCF Online Rated Tournaments - Registration needed via the links below, and players must have current US Chess membership. Games will affect US Chess online ratings (not over-the-board ratings). Trophies or Medals for Top Finishers - Curbside pickup is available per arrangement.

If you have any problems connecting with us on, please send us an email and we'll send you step-by-step instructions with pictures. 

Report on our Martin Luther King Jr. Day Camp

What a great long weekend we had during this special MLK Day weekend! Players could join the special MLK Day Tournament on Saturday, and they could also join our 1-day special camp coached by great coach duo: Coach Andrew Schley and Coach Colin Shober. Students learnt from GM Maurice Ashley and IM Emory Tate's games, and had fun competing in the in-camp tournaments.


Remaining of the 2021 Spring camp schedule:

  • Feb 15, Monday - Presidents Day Camp - Register:
  • Mar 29 - Apr 2 - Spring Break Camp - Register:



Scholastic Game of the Week, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian

(8) DullDistinctCyclone (1544) - KindMagneticFist (1375) [C54]
Live Chess
[de Firmian]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 Bd6?!

[Young players should study the games of the old Italians 5...exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 d5! gives Black fully equal chances.] 6.dxe5 Nxe5? Black needs to take on e5 with the bishop. This should lose a piece. 7.Nxe5 Bxe5 8.Bd3? [8.f4! Bd6 (8...Nxe4 9.Qh5!) 9.e5 wins a piece] 8...0-0 9.0-0 h6 10.h3 d6? 11.Be3? [11.f4 still wins a piece] 11...c5 12.Nd2 a6 13.f4! Now White sees this. 13...b5 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.Bc2 c4 16.Nf3 Qxd1 Usually one tries to keep the queens on the board when down a piece to give better swindling chances. 17.Raxd1 Re8 18.Bb1 Bb7 19.Nd2 Re7 20.Rfe1 Rae8 21.Bf2 g5 22.Nf1! This knight relocation makes everything work for White. 22...Kg7 23.Ng3 Re6 24.Nf5+ Kh7 25.Nd6 R8e7 26.Nxb7 Rxb7 27.Bg3 Rbe7

28.Rd5! Nxd5?! It's better to refuse this "gift." Black would be a piece down anyway, but now things get worse. 29.exd5+ Kg8? [29...Rg6 gets a bishop for the rook] 30.dxe6 Rxe6 31.Rxe5 Rxe5 32.Bxe5 Two bishops ahead is easy enough. DullDinstinctCyclone wraps it up without trouble. 32...Kf8 33.Be4 Ke7 34.Bb7 Ke6 35.Bd4 a5 36.Ba6 b4 37.Bxc4+ Kd6 38.cxb4 axb4 39.Bxf7 Kc6 40.Bc4 Kd6 41.a3 bxa3 42.bxa3 Kc6 43.a4 Kb7 44.a5 Ka8 45.a6 Kb8 46.a7+ Ka8 47.Bd5# DullDistinctCyclone won by checkmate 1-0

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Chess Stories

I decided to prepare for the weekly “Chess Café” ( ) by showing a couple of quick losses by chess masters, thus softening the blows for the rest of us mortals. 

Anand loses in six moves!  There’s hope for us yet.

Paul Keres also won a game in six moves, and in finding that game I was then led to a comment on that noted that right after the game Keres went and played tennis in the blazing Polish sunshine, got horribly sunburned - and lost his next game.  Showing these games during chess café was fun, but when my co-host and MI Grandmaster in Residence Nick de Firmian asked me what the moral of the story was… I realized there was no moral.  It was just a story.

But isn’t the world of chess full of stories and odd connections?

For example: this column is about Soviet Grandmasters and sunburns, World Champions and simultaneous exhibitions, pre-arranged draws and the Petroff Defense.  I’ll be touching down in Canada, San Francisco and Lone Pine, while remembering some of those close to me who have passed: my brother Jay, Alan Benson and Jimmy Buff. 

In 1976 Tigran Petrosian and Vassily Smyslov came to Lone Pine, California.  Petrosian won the tournament with 5.5 from 7 games.  There was a big tie for 2nd place with 5 points, among them Smyslov and the always impressive Larry Christiansen.  More on him in a bit.

Kerry Lawless has just published 176 photos taken by Alan Benson from Lone Pine 1976, which you can find here:

My brother Jay is in this wonderful picture, looking over Smyslov’s shoulder:


Jay had gone down there with some friends from the Bay Area: Jimmy Buff, Joe Tracy and Walter Dorne.  He wasn’t playing, but in 1980 he gained an IM Norm there.  Even more remarkably, he trounced Smyslov a couple of weeks after this picture was taken: at a simul the ex-World Champion gave at the Mechanics’ Institute.

While hunting down examples of horrible thrashings chess players have endured, I came across the Vishy Anand curiosity.  I announced to the Chess Café that Anand was World Champion at the time, but was corrected by Nick and others: Anand was 2 years away from the title. 

The back-story is this: at the 1987 Pan Pacific International Chess Tournament, organized by the Mechanics’ Institute, the eccentric English GM Tony Miles had apparently made a pre-arranged draw with Christiansen.  This was a practice that only hails from “those days”, as Nick smilingly puts it.

When Christiansen thoughtlessly banged out 5…Bf5?? (see game below), Miles decided to have a bit of fun “adjusting”, and “rubbing with his finger” the e2 square.  As Larry’s face reddened (apparently, from eye-witness accounts), the implication was clear: black was busted.

See Zapata–Anand 1988, below.

Anand just wasn’t thinking, and followed the Miles-Christiansen game from some bulletin or magazine.

There IS hope for us, yet.

Finally, the “Chess Café” turned to a bit of theory in the Petroff Defense, led by IM Elliott Winslow, with  5…Qe7 replacing 5…Bf5.  As usual when the Opening is being discussed my eyes started to glaze over a bit, and my mind drifted… back to that Estonian Grandmaster, the one with the terrible sunburn.

Back in 1975 I went up to Canada with another chess playing friend of mine, Marcus Perry (who went by the name of Marcus Aurelius) to play in the Vancouver Open.  Paul Keres was playing in what would be his last tournament.

Keres won the tournament, later renamed the Keres Memorial, and defeated Walter Browne in the final round.  Watching this incredible genius play chess - impassive as stone, hands in lap – has been seared into my brain. 

In the first round Keres was paired with Denis Allan, a Canadian master who, many years later (1987) participated in an Interzonal Tournament in Szirak, Hungary. 

Allan played the Petroff Defense, and Keres played 3.d3!?: a move that stunned me at the time.  A move like this can tell you a lot.  Keres was one of the foremost experts on double king-pawn openings.  He obviously wasn’t afraid of the Petroff – or Allan – so why the “passive” 3.d3? 

Perhaps Keres wanted a slow game.

Perhaps Keres wanted to play Philidor’s Defense that day – reversed.

Perhaps he’d never played 3.d3 before, and wanted to give it a shot - in his last tournament on Earth.

There is something about the game of chess that brings on stories and multiple interpretations.  Histories and memories, connections and struggles.

If some can say “I have a life in chess”, the game itself seems to say to us: “chess is life”.

What a strange business!

(All games mentioned above are given below)

(1) Paul Keres - Edward Arlamowski [B10]
Przepiorka Memorial Szczawno-Zdroj POL (11), 02.07.1950

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qe2 Nbd7 6.Nd6#


(2) Paul Keres - Andrzej Pytlakowski [C86]
Przepiorka Memorial Szczawno-Zdroj POL (12), 03.07.1950

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Qe2 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.d3 d4 10.cxd4 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Qxd4 12.Be3 Qd6 13.Nd2 Rd8 14.Nf3 Bg4 15.Rac1 a5 16.h3 Bxf3 17.Qxf3 a4 18.Bc2 c5 19.Qe2 Nd7 20.Bb1 b4 21.f3 Rac8 22.Bc2 Qa6 23.Qf2 Bd6 24.f4 exf4 25.Bxf4 Bxf4 26.Qxf4 f6 27.g4 Nf8 28.e5 Ng6 29.Qf5 fxe5 30.d4 exd4 31.Bd3 Qd6 32.Qf2 Rf8 33.Bf5 Ne7 34.Rce1 Nxf5 35.gxf5 Rce8 36.f6 Qxf6 37.Qg2 Qg6 38.Qxg6 hxg6 39.Rc1 Rxf1+ 40.Kxf1 Re5 41.Kf2 Kf7 42.Kf3 g5 43.b3 axb3 44.axb3 Ke6 45.Kf2 Kd5 46.Ra1 Re3 47.Rg1 Rxb3 48.Rxg5+ Kc4 49.h4 Rh3 50.h5 b3 51.Kg2 Rxh5 52.Rxh5 b2


(3) Anthony Miles - Larry Mark Christiansen [C42]
Pan Pacific International San Francisco, CA USA, 09.1987

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Bf5

6.Nxe4 Bxe4 7.d3 Bg6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.Bxe7 Qxe7+ 10.Be2 Nc6 11.0-0 0-0 12.Re1 Rae8 13.Qd2 Ne5 14.d4 Nxf3+ 15.Bxf3 Qd7 16.c3 b6 17.Rxe8 Rxe8 18.Re1 Rxe1+ 19.Qxe1 Kf8 20.g3

(4) Alonso Zapata - Viswanathan Anand [C42]
Biel-B Biel SUI (9), 07.1988

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Bf5 6.Qe2


(5) Paul Keres - Denis Allan [C42]
Vancouver Vancouver CAN (1), 17.05.1975

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d3

3...Nc6 4.Nbd2 Bc5 5.c3 d5 6.Be2 dxe4 7.dxe4 a5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qc2 Re8 10.Nc4 Qe7 11.Bg5 Qf8 12.Ne3 Be7 13.Bb5 Bd7 14.Rfd1 Nb8 15.Bxf6 Bxb5 16.Bxe5 Bd8 17.Nf5 g6 18.Bg7 Qc5 19.Rd5 Qb6 20.Bd4 Qa6 21.Qd2 gxf5 22.Rxd8 fxe4 23.Re1 Qg6 24.Nh4 Qg4 25.Rxe4

(6) Vassily Smyslov - Jay Whitehead [E94]
(simul) San Francisco, 03.1976

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.d5 Nc5 9.Qc2 a5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Be3 Nh5 12.g3 Bh3 13.Rfe1 f5 14.Nh4 f4 15.Bxc5 dxc5 16.Nxg6 fxg3 17.hxg3 Qg5 18.Bxh5 Qxh5 19.Nh4 Rf4 20.Re3 Qg5 21.Nf3 Qg6 22.Ne2 Raf8 23.Nxf4 exf4 24.Nh4 Qg4 25.Rf3 fxg3 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.fxg3 Qxg3+ 28.Ng2 Bd4+ 29.Kh1 Bf2


0-1 White resigns. 0-1

GM Nick de Firmian

Return to Normalcy

We use this word Normalcy just as President Warren Harding did one hundred years ago. The standard term had been “normality” but Harding used our term “normalcy” in his campaign for the presidential election of 1920 to refer to how life had been before WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Thus it feels very appropriate to use the term today with the implementation of the coronavirus vaccines and the change of leadership in the US on January 20.

All that is very important, but the true chess lover is most concerned with Caissa’s wonderful world of the chess board and what is happening there. That world has also returned to normalcy with the great traditional tournament of Wijk aan Zee being played live during its traditional January dates. The world’s best players are once again competing in classical time control games and producing fascinating battles. It becomes easy to forget about the world outside of chess and just immerse oneself in the complex struggles of the top chess players. World Champion Magnus is back to his normal ways, as is US #1 Fabiano Caruana. Below is a couple of their efforts to keep you entertained.

(1) Carlsen,Magnus - Firouzja,Alizera [D53]
Tata Steel, 18.01.2021

Here we get the battle between the champion and the greatest up and coming young player in the world. Magnus is 30 now, while Alireza is only 17 years old. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Be7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 Firouzja opts for exchanges instead of the more solid and passive recapture with the pawn. 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.e4 Nxc3 10.bxc3 0-0 11.Bd3 c5 12.0-0 cxd4 13.cxd4 b6

White has a nice pawn center but it doesn't disturb Black much as his remaining minor pieces have enough squares. 14.a4 Bb7 15.a5 bxa5 16.Rxa5 Nf6 17.Re1 Rfd8 18.Qa1 Qc7 19.h3 a6 20.Rc5 Qf4 21.Re5 guarding the e-pawn 21...Nd7 22.Ra5 Nf6 23.d5!? Magnus refuses to repeat the position and sacrifices a pawn to go forward. 23...exd5 24.e5 Ne4 25.Qd4 Rdc8 White has good squares for the minor pieces and better control of the dark squares. That's compensation for the pawn, so chances are about even. 26.Raa1 a5 27.Rab1 Bc6 28.e6!? This could be a bit too inspired. Magnus sacrifices a second pawn to open the lines. We must remind the reader that these games are classical time control, so this is not just a cheap attempt to confuse the opponent in time pressure. 28...fxe6 29.Ne5 Qf6 30.f3 Ng5 31.Rb6 Be8 32.Qe3 a4?! [With 32...Qd8 the queen would be away from the coming knight attack and Black would have the advantage if he defends well.] 33.Ng4 Qd8 34.Rxe6 Magnus continues to play bold chess, though he has little choice now as he must do something before the black a-pawn runs further down the board. 34...Nxe6 35.Qxe6+ Bf7?
[Firouzja plays the natural move, which loses. He needed to play 35...Kh8 36.Nxh6 (36.Qf5?! Qb6+ 37.Kh1 Bg6! 38.Qxg6 Qxg6 39.Bxg6 a3 40.Ne5 a2 41.Ra1 leaves Black with all the winning chances in this ending) 36...Bh5 when the game is complicated but at least equal for Black] 36.Nxh6+! gxh6 37.Qxh6 The black king has lost his defenders and cannot cope with the three remaining white pieces. 37...Qc7 38.Qh7+ Kf8 39.Qh8+ Bg8 40.Qh6+ Firouzja resigned. on 40...Kf7 41. Bg6+ Kf6 42. Bh5+, or 40...Qg7 41. Qd6+ A great active game by the champ. 1-0

(2) Caruana,Fabiano - Duda,Jan-Krzysztof [C42]
tata Steel, 19.01.2021

This is another fine matchup in this tournament. Fabiano is still the #2 player in the world, while Duda is the world's other great young talent (along with Firouzja). 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 Duda decides on Petrov's Defense, which Caruana has himself used often. 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 This is nowadays the main line against Petrov's Defense. 6...Be7 7.Be3 Nd7 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 Nf6 10.Bd3 c5 11.Rhg1 We have castling on opposite wings (which is typical for this line) so Fabiano goes directly for the kingside onslaught. 11...b5 12.g4! Bb7 Black doesn't want to take the g4 pawn and open lines against his king. 13.Qe2 c4 14.Bf5 Re8 [14...g6?! 15.g5!] 15.Nd4 Nd5 16.Ne6!

White throws the knight into the fray. If Black takes he loses his knight on d5. 16...Qa5 17.Qf3 Bf6 The game has reached a crazy position with both sides attacking. All of the pieces are on active squares and the action cannot be stopped. White is to move though and presses the attack. 18.g5 Bxc3!
19.Bxh7+! Kxh7 20.g6+! fxg6 21.Ng5+ Kh8 22.Bd4! Both attacking and defending. 23. Qh3+ Kg8 24. Qh7+ Kf8 would let the black king get away. 22...Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Nf6 the best defense [23...Re1+ 24.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 25.Rd1 Nf4 26.Qxf4 Qe2 27.Qxd6 Qxf2 28.Qd8+ Qf8 29.Qd4 Bf3 30.Rf1 would win the black bishop] 24.Qxb7 Rab8 25.Qf7 Re1+ 26.Rd1 Rxg1 27.Rxg1 Re8 28.Ne6 Rxe6 29.Qxe6 Qxa2 30.Qh3+ Duda has defended well by giving up the exchange for two pawns. Yet Caruana has all the winning chances with the active queen and rook. He could have done somewhat better with [30.Rg3! Qa1+ 31.Kd2 Kh7 32.Rh3+ Nh5 33.Qe4 Kh6 34.Ra3 when 34...Qxb2 35.Qe3+ g5 36.Qc3 Qxc3+ 37.Kxc3 leaves an ending where the white king and rook can mop up the queenside pawns] 30...Kg8 31.Qe6+ Kh7 32.Qh3+ Kg8 33.Qa3 Qxa3 34.bxa3 Kf7 35.Kd2 a6 36.Ke3 Nd5+ 37.Kd4 Ne7 38.Re1?! [Caruana's last chance to win was 38.a4! Ke6 39.axb5 axb5 40.Rg5 Nf5+ 41.Kc3 when Black is streched too much to hold both the kingside and queenside against the white rook and king.] 38...Ke8! 39.a4 Kd7 40.axb5 axb5 41.Rg1 Kc6 Black is able to hold with the knight making a fortress 42.h4 Nf5+ 43.Kc3 Nxh4 44.Kb4 Nf3 45.Rxg6 Nd4 46.c3 Ne2 47.Rxg7

47...Nf4! The black knight goes on the offensive and saves the game. 48...Nd5+ is threatened and if 48. Rg3 Nd3+ wins the f2 pawn 48.Ka5 Ne2 49.Kb4 Nf4 50.Ka5 Ne2 51.Kb4 a great battle. Both players played high level, inspired chess. 1/2-1/2


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