Friday, September 12, 2008


Another new feature that I will do once in a while....
Most Amusing Game of the Week!!
Let me say upfront that I might be too lazy to do this again, and I certainly don't claim to have carefully considered (or even looked at in any way) all the USCL games. Nor do I claim to understand this game. In fact, I chose it exactly because I find it mystifying.
My apologies to Fed and Bryan in advance for any offense. Obviously they are 100 times stronger than me, etc.
Bryan Smith - John Fedorowicz
USCL Week 3 New York -Philadelphia board 2

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Bd3 Bd6

First of all, doesn't 6...Bd6 look slightly weird to you? Blocking the center pawn and all....

My understanding of the point behind this move is that it's kinda to annoy white by attacking h2, thus preventing 0–0 unless white is willing to spend time on either Nf3 or h3. And also to stop a quick f4. Generally to control dark squares in the center and on the kingside. And that black's a long way off from playing ....d5 anyway.

In response, sometimes white plays Qg4, attacking g7. And in response to that, black sometimes plays Be5, or sometimes g6, or sometimes both and then Bg7.

But white can also play more normally with Be3, Qe2 and 0-0-0. Or cautiously with Nf3 and 0-0.

7.Qd2 Nakamura played this against Goletiani and it looked like the point was to play f4 and then castle kingside.


But now, this is definitely funny, right?

I guess the bishop might be uncomfortable on d6 after white plays f4, and black has already gotten something for the "wasted" tempo since white's queen is misplaced. But I was watching this game live at the Marshall and I was thinking

huh. sometimes I don't have any idea what's going on.

ok. now we fast forward and they play completely normally and get a very standard hedgehoggy type position. Except the white pawn in on c2 instead of c4 ... wait, does that mean it's not a hedgehog? or maybe it's not a maroczy bind?! I don't really know these things.

8.Qe2 d6 9.0–0 Nf6 10.f4 Nbd7 11.Kh1 b6 12.Bd2 Bb7 13.Rae1 Nc5 14.b4 Nxd3 15.cxd3 0–0 16.Rc1 Qd8 17.Be3 Rc8 18.Nb3


Ok, so this move is either:

1. designed to stop Na4, which would pressure the b6 pawn, or

2. designed to stop white playing b5, which would sort of fix b6 and perhaps give the white knights some queenside access. Of course maybe both.

Anyway, without looking, predict how many moves this bishop stays here.

Also check out this absurd computer line at the end of which fritz and rybka both somewhat prefer black but I would assess as "completely out of the question": 18...d5 19.e5 Bxb4 20.exf6 Bxc3 21.Rxc3 Rxc3 22.Bd4 Rc6 23.fxg7 Re8 24.Qh5

analysis diagram

19.Rc2 e5 20.Rfc1 Bb7

haha. 2 moves.

fast forward again: 21.a3 exf4 22.Bxf4 Qd7 23.Qf2 Bd8 24.Nd4 g6 25.h3 Re8 26.Qf3 Nh5 27.Nd5 Rxc2 28.Rxc2 Bxd5 29.exd5 Re1+ 30.Kh2 Bf6 31.Nc6 Nxf4 32.Qxf4 Bg7 33.Qf2 Re8 34.Qxb6 Qf5 35.Qxa6 Qf4+ 36.g3 Qf1 37.Qa7 h5 38.Rf2 Re2

Quick, what's the best move??

Right? Of course.


Oh no!!! the rook is pinned!!

40.Rxe2 Qxf7 0-1


Anonymous said...

Great choice for the game. I was baffled by all the same things you were. I was watching this game with a master, and he was also suggesting Qxf7. Being the measely expert that I am, I was totally confused about why RxR wasn't forced. It is a strange illusion.


Sam Shankland said...

It is preposterous that my game did not win this prize! I believe it was downright hilarious when i went from +4 to =+ in 3 moves in an endgame! shouldnt that be impossible? i get the sense that "funny" is supposed to mean "looks stupid." i looked VERY stupid, but unlike fed or bryan smith, its cuz i actually was! i sooo shoulda won this prize :(((

Chess Manitoba said...

Funny - I was flipping through 'Dangerous Weapons Sicilian' last night and noticed "The Koblenc-Goletiani Kan" (after 6...Bd6).
And now today I see this game.

Von_Igelfeld said...

M. Suba wrote a truly great book on the Hedgehog. Unlike most books, Suba starts out by saying that the modern master can't expect to achieve classic strategies like minority attack, etc. because the other guy (assumed to be equally trained in classic strategy) sees it coming and doesn't allow it. Therefore, the modern master needs to build dynamic potential in a position and therefore leaves things as "flexible" as possible. The end result is that games like these have many mysterious moves that really are trying to wait for "inaccuracies" by the side in opposition to the HH leading to a well-timed break by the side with dynamic potential. This often comes when the opposing side leaves a piece misplaced and after the break would require time to coordinate once a pawn break occurs generally at b5, d5, e5 or f5.

I don't know about anyone else, but these pawn breaks are often the most difficult ones in chess to pull off effectively for the following reasons. First, you have to place your pieces correctly in the first place to achieve or be ready for the pawn break. Second, you have to actually calcuate the tactics correctly to get to the new or desirable position. Third, you have to have master-like (GM-like?) ability to access the resultant position. Hopefully after rereading Suba's book for the nth time, I'll gain a deeper appreciation. But I can certainly see those subtle points in this game.

I think the better title for this type of game would be ...

Most Mysterious Game of the Week

... but MMGOW doesn't quite have the right ring to it. Sounds more like a medical condition that you don't mention to others if you have it.