Mark Dvoretsky RIP


Mark Dvoretsky (9-12-1947 to 26-9-2016)

Sad news today of renown Russian chess coach Mark Dvoretsky’s death.  Age 68. Dvoretsky was also an acclaimed author, having written more than 20 books, all of them popular.

I have most of them, and just this spring I started to read his latest series (For Friends and Colleagues)-not really anything chess-instructive about them–but that recount how Mark got into chess coaching when younger, and of the personalities that he met along the way.


I first met Dvoretsky at the 1985 Candidates Tournament in Montpellier, France where he was the official trainer of both Artur Yussupov and Alexander Chernin.  Four years later, in 1989, when I was playing Yussupov in the Candidates Matches in Quebec City, I had a better chance to get acquainted with him.

Two episodes stand out, even today, of that Quebec Match.  The first is that Dvoretsky needed a computer to access his files, but in 1989 it was against the law to rent or sell a computer to anyone Russian(!), and not knowing how to solve his little problem, he approached my team.  We rented a computer for him for the duration of the event!

The second episode is quite funny, and reveals Dvoretsky’s real nature, his humility and his warmth as a human being. Yussupov and I had drawn our first game, and I won the second game…the ending was REALLY crushing! (Yussupov had a rest day and then came back and levelled the match in the third game. After 8 regular games, the match was 4-4.  I lost the rapid tie-break game, and Yussupov advanced to play Karpov in the next stage of the Candidates)

ANYWAY, after the closing ceremony in Quebec City, Dvoretsky and Yussupov pulled me away for a few moments and gave me the following picture that they had taken in their hotel room after my crushing victory in the second game:



The photo shows the final position where Yussupov resigned, and the stuffed figure (red) shows how Yussupov and Dvoretsky felt! The photo also is indicative of the quality of Dvoretsky as a coach: it is never easy to deal with a defeat, but he managed to get Yussupov to see it as something other than a tragedy.

I will miss Dvoretsky.  My condolences to his family.


Murder she wrote…


English Chess boring?  Not on your LIFE!  If it is not Ray Keene brazingly plagiarizing everything within arm’s reach at the British Library, or Nigel Short merrily pestering the opposite sex in the international media, then you can be sure that there is always some juicy news-worthy item to be found elsewhere in English Chess…

This week’s skeleton in the closet involves the arrest of a recent ECF president, CJ de Mooi, allegedly for murdering a stranger back in 1988 when a down and out CJ dredged out a low-life existence as a sex worker in Amsterdam. (No one can make this up!)





From a 2015 interview that CJ gave to the English media.


Happier times.

Anti-cheating rules: a big PR disaster!



Don’t say I did not warn you!  The very first day the Baku Olympiad began the complaints started rolling in.  Some arbiters decided to impersonate the ‘Toilette Gestapo’, forcing players who needed to take care of some body functions in private to make a written request first. Several captains protested strenuously, and a petition was quickly circulated to end this abusive and humiliating practice.

A number of arbiters then tried to justify the above mentioned arbiters’ actions by hiding behind existing regulations that anticipate some sort of control to visiting the washrooms during the normal playing period.  But as Tsorbatzoglou eloquently argued, no rule can ever justify  disrespect, abuse and/or humiliation of anyone while representing his/her country in a prestigeous event.


Then yesterday, the ‘Anti-cheating’ Gestapo decided that longtime Kirsan critic Nigel Short would be their target, but he would have nothing to do with it. He refused to cooperate with them, as a matter of principle.


The incident was described in a article written by Peter Doggers:


Many inside the chess community are fully supportive of Nigel’s actions.  Myself included. I have been a longtime critic of the way FIDE has dealt with the problem of cheating in chess, having written literally dozens of times here on this blog on this subject.


When FIDE first decided to form an anti-cheating commission a few years back, I (rightly) pointed out the error of asking for simple volunteers to become part of the process.  No one paid any attention, ofcourse, and as a result, there were no IT-hardware experts on the new commission, despite that fact that cheating is virtually 100% a hardware problem!

INSTEAD, and probably a direct consequence of having a commission that was blind to the real problem,  initially floated and proposed were ridiculous ideas such as mandatory strip searches , or the creation of a BIG-BROTHER database of games of everyone who played chess, and so on.

This latter idea,  incredibly, was somehow accepted; to filter these games using chess engines  to look for, find and identify ‘cheating suspects’…essentially stigmatizing and OVERWHELMING the entire anti-cheating commission with McCarthy like paranoia where EVERYONE becomes a potential suspect until they can prove their innocence!


I don’t know where all of this is going to lead, but I think that FIDE has to admit that a HUGE mistake has been made.  FIDE should seriously consider dis-banding the current anti-cheating commission and start over. Not from scratch per se, but learning from its mistakes. This time NOT a group of volunteers (who in some cases clearly are unfit for the job or are only interested in self-promotion), but INSTEAD  experts should be INVITED to become part of the next committee.

Ofcourse, I have little faith that this route will be investigated, and so more controversy and scandal can be expected.

Sants Open: Chinese emerge on top

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Position after 30 moves. An unusual piece configuration.  Usually one finds this kind of ending with only 1 Rook on the board. (In which case, if the defender has no pawn weaknesses, as the case here, then then game should end in a draw. Normally the side with the Queen has winning chances only when there is just one pawn difference.)

One would think that the presence of an extra Rook on the board would be to Black’s favour (increasing his chances), but in the game here the result was a solid, almost effortless draw.  Do any of my readers have some information on this curious ending? I would like to hear from you! Endgame Theory would like to hear from you…



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Board number 5.  A must win situation for both players. Position before Black’s 20th move.

Earlier, Black made an interesting (and typical) pawn sacrifice on the Kingside (trying to get some initiative), but it was not quite convincing, but then it appears that White convinced himself that by simplifying things (ie. changing some pieces) would leave White simply better. Here the Armenian IM must have felt that after Ng3, Re3 and Qe2 he would be a pawn up for nothing…UNFORTUNATELY, his thinking was not dynamic enough….


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Surprise!  All of a sudden White is DEAD LOST.  This move allows the Black Queen to come into play with check, and then the Rook comes into play along the f-file. White finds himself unable to prevent disaster. (For the record, the final moves were 21.Kxf2 Qh4+ 22.Ng3 Qd4+ 23.Re3 Rf8+ 24.Ke1 Qxe3+ 25.Qe2 Qg1+ 26.Kd2 Qd4 27.Ke1 Bg4 28.Qg2 Qe3+ 29.Ne2 Bh3 0-1)



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Sasikiran’s last round game saw the Indian superstar play with great energy and creativity, not backing off from risky play.

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Position after 14 moves. Something seems to have gone wrong with Black’s opening. His King is still in the centre, and the pawn structure clearly favours White’s pieces.

I am not sure what the best way for White to proceed is, but there is no doubt that at some point White will want to play f5.  The only question is how much preparation should be involved in this task.  I am certain that positionally inclined players like Karpov and Korchnoi would slowly prepare f5, confident that Black’s lack of counterplay on the Queenside must eventually lead to his downfall…

HOWEVER, Sasikiran has a very tactical style of play , much more inclined to the Tal-school of chess tastes, and for this reason he would not even consider preparation:


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One can not get much more direct than this!  White forces open the f-file even at the cost of a piece. In essence, the move is quite sound and poses pesky practical problems for the defender.

15…exf5 16.Nxf5!

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Black has no good alternative than to take the piece.

Here I believe that the most precise way of executing Sasikiran’s idea is the immediate 17.Qh5!. Then if 17…Qe7 (as in the game, and probably the only good move here too) 18.Bh3!? preventing the manoeuvre that occured in the game (Qe6-g6), as 18…Qe6(?) is met by the crushing 19.Bxf5.

So that leaves Black to decide what move to make on his 18th, and it is not clear to me what is best. Very unpleasant after 18…000 is 19.Bg5!, and no different would be 18…Bg7 19.Bg5!. That appears to indicate 18…Rg8!?, but this move is not very constructive as after 19.Rxf5 Qe6!? (what else?) 20.Bg5! Qg6 21.Qf3 with 22.Rf1 coming in with great force.  Black is in serious trouble…

HOWEVER, in the game Sasikiran played the obvious move…and the game quickly proceeded:

17.Rxf5 Qe7 18.Qh5


White intends to mobilize his remaining pieces and double on the f-file. Clearly White has compensation, especially as Black has practical difficulty in developing. The theoretical question, however, is whether this compensation is enough for advantage…



An excellent manoeuvre, difficult to find over the board. Black intends to play Qg6 and try to push back White’s Queen.  Had White played what I recommended at move 17, then Black’s Queen manoeuvre would have not been possible.  (However, this is easy to say AFTER the game!)

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19.Bh3!?  Qg6 20.Qf3


Black should not now castle as 21.Rxf7 or 21.Bg5 is very unpleasant.

20…Be7! 21.Bd2


It is a tricky position, not easy to play in practice, but Black seems to be surviving (but no more).  Here the computer finds the subtle 21…h5! (ruling out any Bg4-h5 manoeuvre) and after 22.Rf1 Rf8! and the game is unclear (if 23.Rxh5 Qe4 does not change the evaluation)  It is also not clear how White should proceed….

INSTEAD,  possibly short of time and under great psychological pressure, Black blundered by castling long: 21…000(?) which loses immediately: 22.Rxf7! Rhe8 (did Black intend 22…Rhf8? (23.Qc3+!)) 23.Bf5! Qg8 24.e6! and it is all over. Black resigned a few moves later.

An interesting fight.  Typical of last round money games, where nerves, courage and the clock determine everything.

Wednesday’s Chess News,potpourri, etc

Tuesday’s chess news, etc

Saturday chess-news, porpourri etc