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Biel 09 Final Round

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Between vacation and the mountain of work that awaited my return, I just haven't had time to cover Biel much. It looks like Morozevich has blown several wins along the way. But he came back to beat Ivanchuk yesterday to give young French GM Vachier-Lagrave clear first and the opportunity of a lifetime. This wasn't the first Russo-Franco friendship gift of the tournament. Morozevich completely destroyed Vachier-Lagrave in the eighth round only to miss win after win and eventually even go on to lose the key game.

Kudos to the Frenchman for good defense, but he slipped on a banana peel and dodged a bullet. The simple 26.Rxf8+ Rxf8 27.Qxe5 was curtains. The endgame was bizarre, with two passed pawns vs a rook. It looks trivial, but looks can be deceiving. 56.b4! Bxf4 57.b5 is a little trickier than the game. But there's still a "king zugzwang" in there eventually and when the white bishop moves so does the black g-pawn, allowing the black bishop to defend g7 and h8 as in the game. Then the black h-pawn is an easy win.

But you can't call first place in a category 19 luck, especially if you're undefeated and coming with one day's break from a category 18. (Vachier-Lagrave had just played in San Sebastian.) Morozevich and Ivanchuk are a half-point behind with 5/9 and even Alekseev can hit the podium with a win. Gelfand and Caruana share the cellar on -2. Final round pairings: Alekseev-Vachier-Lagrave, Morozevich-Caruana, Gelfand-Ivanchuk. Live here at 1400 local, 8am EDT.


[..] to give young French GM Vachier-Lagrave clear first and the opportunity of a lifetime.( (Mig )

Since the Frenchman , or better the FrenchKID, is only 18 , it looks a bit hasty to call this the opportunity of a lifetime.. He's a + 2700 , fast improving guy, so it's very likely that he'll have many other chances to win a super tournament.

The teenager trio Karjakin- Carlsen- Vachier Lagrave are the best youngsters around.

"The simple 26.Rxf8+ Rxf8 27.Qxe5 was curtains."

No Mig, it wasn't that simple for some people like Thomas, because when Luke wrote "26.Rxf8+ and the game is over", Thomas couldn't see why and asked for "Variations please..."

What can you do? It's hopeless.

I am with Peter Doggers on Chessvibes, who wrote (initially in the comments, later integrated in the article):
"White could have won instantly with 26.Rxf8+! as all computers will immediately point out, but it’s a difficult move and therefore calling 26.Rxa8? a blunder would be too much. It’s very easy to make such a typical computer-check comment these days. Thirty years ago we would have never called it a blunder, but probably something along the lines of “a mistake in a highly complex situation”. I’m of the opinion that the engine’s evaluation switching from green to red, and from +10 to -2 or whatever, is the only reason why we (I’ve probably done the same every now and then) started calling such moves blunders. We shouldn’t."

Interestingly, Peter Doggers very honestly mentions that he occasionally fell into such a trap himself. Maybe Mig joined him calling 26.Rf8:+ "simple".

But even if he considers it a simple move, it's not the same to find and play it at the board, with the clock ticking - for one thing, you don't have an engine available to double-check that there is no hole in your analysis.

The very next day, Ivanchuk played a tempting rook sacrifice (against Morozevich!) - but arguably looked like an idiot (not the same as calling him an idiot!) because there was a hole in his calculations, and he could resign a few moves later.

Ok, but I don't get it. What exactly is so difficult about 26.Rxf8+ that missing it can't be called a blunder? It's not completely obvious but why shouldn't a strong GM normally find it rather easily? Please let me know what I am missing.

Btw, congratulations to Vachier-Lagrave, who just won the tournament outright as Morozevich and Ivanchuk only drew their games. Certainly a great success -- and that game against Moro was the only one where he was really lucky. I was rooting for him, but didn't have high hopes coming directly from San Sebastian where he was apparently struggling with illness.

Talking about that amazing round 8 - is something went wrong with the principle telling us to "castle first"? The only two players having NOT castled were the only victorious ones...

On ChessVibes they called this Moro-Vachier-Lagrave game "Best Game of the Decade". Well, it had everithing in it - an important novelty, hell of creativity, huge blunders, 180-degrees changes. But does it exceed Topa-Kramnik, game 2 at Elista?

Kudos for the young frenchman for his triumph.

"...but it’s a difficult move" (Pete Doggers)

And you agree with that silliness? Wow. It is the easiset move on the board to see. I just can't talk to you anymore because you are so...

At least, while watching the game live, Bartleby and mishanp couldn't give the right continuation either (AFAIK, none of the three of us is a strong GM, so this doesn't really count). The slightly tricky thing about 26.Rf8:+ may be that black had three ways to recapture, and one has to realize that all come down to the same thing.

But the true reason for Moro's "blunder" may well be that he considered black defenseless after 26.Ra8: Ba8: 27.h5 - isn't Qe5: and Be6+ coming anyway now (so it seems)? "If you see one winning continuation, don't waste time trying to find another one" [certainly with limited time on the clock]. He may have missed 27.-Rh7! creating the escape square h8 for black's king. Is that also an obvious move any strong GM should see?

"But the true reason for Moro's "blunder" may well be that he considered black defenseless after 26.Ra8: Ba8: 27.h5 - isn't Qe5: and Be6+ coming anyway now (so it seems)?"

Might be a good point, although Qxe5 and Be6+ isn't a threat as such since the knight hasn't been removed; e6 is defended by both Q and N. (That's what makes Rxf8+ seems like a natural move to me -- removing an important defender.) White does have other threats though, but even without 27..Rh7, he does not seem to be totally winning immediately the way he would after 26.Rxf8+. However, I'd need to check this closer.

And as for how hard it is to see 27..Rh7, can't tell. Wasn't following the game at this point and didn't try to find it myself either. However, while it looks bizarre, evacuating the h8-square is logical enough, and although it gives a rook away Black is already piece up and the rook was locked in anyway..

Anyway, couldn't 26.Rxa8 count as a blunder regardless? Like if there is a "simple" mate in two, but you don't see this but instead imagine you are seeing a complex mate in nine, so you go for this just to discover eight moves later that your opponent has an amazing save that not even Kasparov could have been expected to see in advance? :)

The amount of jealousy is striking to be honest ..

When Maxime VL defeat Caruana last time , it is said Caruana was tired immediately without even looking seriously at the game (while reality is that Maxim VL was the most tired of all , he was ill before the tournament and his participation was in doubt, not to mention that he participated to San Sebastian before )

When Maxime VL defeat Morozevich after a legendary game , you say Moro "destroyed" him (lol!! ) while anyone knows even the greatest games of Alekhine , Morphy , Tal etc.. contained at least one mistake from Rybka's point of view (look at the last WC Anand-Kramnik ..) and that precise game was by far the most beautiful of the tournament , both players played deep and creative chess in this game , Maxim's victory owes to himelf above all despite Moro's Rxa8, not many could have won this game (while tired and coming out of illness ..) against Moro ..

Yesterday , on Polgar blog , several persons put posts like "Alekseev will win period" , and they did not post this because they love Alekseev for sure but because they hate a Frenchman to win . Bloody pathetic if you ask me , well i knew many of the guys following chess were not the brightest anyway

Congratulations to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for this deserved tournament victory (is it so hard to say ? ) , he's still a young boy and he played very well , beyond his expected level .. He's no Carlsen , but a good hope for European Chess ... Sane people with proper education and safe from mental problems should acknowledge his merit .

I complety agree with Pete Doggers of CheeVibes... It's way too easy for people sitting comfortably on their couch ,with their Rybka or Fritz running, say " Ohooo... My Buddha ! What a patzer this Morozevich is.. How couldn't he see 26) RxF8 + winning , it's sooo easy .." I wonder if they've ever played over the board..
By the way , from a technical point of view ( my Rybka helps me.. ;-) even after 26) Txa8( Moro still had a winning position.. As correctly Thomas pointed out , he likely saw another winning line and , from a practical point of view, chose that one.
The real mistake is 27 )h5 , while 27 Af1 ( Rybka ) still is winning.

I'd like to organize a simul for Morozevich against all the commenting patzers...

The computer era has led to people disrespecting top GM's, but this is done in two ways. Some "fans" following the games with Rybka and Fritz don't actually really follow the games at all, mostly stare at the computer evaluation and if there is a move decreasing it a lot for the player making the move they'll immediately cry out "blunder!" or "how could he miss that??" or "and he is supposed to have 2700"??

But the other side of this is that others use the "everything is easy when you have Rybka" mantra or some version of it indiscriminately, even when whatever was missed _is_ something that normally should be simple or relatively easy to find on that level and even when the way the blunder was pointed out was very polite.

This way it's made to seem like top players aren't supposed to be able to see _anything_ on their own these days. That is quite disrespectful as well, to my mind.

Every case must be treated separately. I specifically asked why exactly this was so difficult in order for this matter to be discussed. Thomas' reply was very constructive in this regard, yours wasn't.

Harry, if you do organize that simul, I'd like to qualify as a commenting patzer too.


Congrats to Vachier-Lagrave, he did a great job. I think Karpov praised his talent in San Sebastian, so he must have something. It's gonna be interesting to follow his chess development.

Ivanchuk sacrificing is rook was not the bad move. His continuation Qxf7 later was the mistake. If he played e7 instead, he at least had a draw.

To Harry, Thomas, and everyone like you:

I was watching the Morozevich - Vachier LaGrave game as it happened, and when Vachier LaGrave played 25...Bb7, I immediately saw 26.Rxf8+! winning on the spot. I saw this possibility the move before when Morozevich played 25.Rd8. I had no computer engine running. It was just me.

I know you cannot stand it when you miss something that someone else sees, so you try to denigrate it by accusing them of using Fritz, Rybka, etc. The fact is, I saw it instantaneously, without a computer. You can't deal with that because you are both so incredibly weak. You and all your weak friends.

But, I don't see everything, and make lots of mistakes, like I do in my real games. However, 100% of the time, I would see and play 26.Rxf8+! OTB. And certainly, Morozevich is much stronger than I am. In a 10-game match, I would get 0 points.

I'm watching Aronian - Nakamura right now, no computer engine. I don't think Aronian is doing too well, and it's only the 6th move.

Vachier just got lucky. His win is a fluke. The guy fit in to that typical freaky nerd appearance, but that's all he has.

I didn't see how 26.Rxf8 was winning, because I didn't realize that after Qxe5 Be6 leads to a mate regardless of what Black does. After that was pointed out -by Peter Doggers- I could understand it. The three ways to recapture on f8 don't make a difference. Being a rook up, Black has options to give back material, even the queen, but none of it works. I didn't see it so I don't feel qualified to call it a blunder.

Ohh Luke you're so big and strong.. And you see everything....


56.b4 draws?

You can't read? I'll say it again for you:

"But, I don't see everything, and make lots of mistakes, like I do in my real games."

Do you understand now?

The question of whether a particular move (or sequence of moves) that a computer (and/or some individual kibitzers) found, "should have been seen" by a strong GM at the board with the clock ticking, is an interesting and perhaps complicated one.

I am reminded of the incident from the World Open a couple years ago where Smirin lost to a low-rated player who is now universally acknowledged to have cheated by consulting a computer.

The interesting thing is that many people said of the conception that won that game for the weak player, "No human could have found that move."

After replaying that World Open game, I got the distinct feeling that statement was nonsense. The cheater's move and accompanying idea were hard to see - but nowhere near superhuman-hard. I recall deciding that if I (a 2200) faced that same position in an actual game, I would have maybe 1/3 probability of seeing the winning idea; and I concluded that the average GM should see that conception more than half the time. (None of this is meant to imply that Smirin's opponent hadn't cheated; along with just about everyone else who's reviewed that situation, I'm convinced he did.)

I played in a quad this past weekend. Glancing at the other game in each round, I saw many improvements to the moves played - and, post mortem confirmed my analysis.

However, I also finished 0-3, losing to these very same players! Spectating is one thing, and actually playing tournament chess is another. Those who think you know what a 2700 "should" see, and that you immediately see the combinations they missed ... well, get out there, beat a few 2700s, and then come back and tell us about it.

"Those who think you know what a 2700 "should" see, and that you immediately see the combinations they missed ... well, get out there, beat a few 2700s, and then come back and tell us about it." (Ashish)

Well, if you are referring to me, didn't I already say that Morozevich is much stronger than I am and would beat me 10-0? You can't read either, just like a few others?

Does your name have anything to do with hash?

I forgot to mention (because it was obvious to me) that white needs three more moves after 26.h5, namely Qe5:, b3 (locking the queen out, and with the white queen on e5 he doesn't have to worry about Qa1+) and then Be6+. This seems slow, as it turned out it was too slow - but earlier in the game black didn't have any counterattacking ideas which may have lured Moro into some false sense of security ("I have all the time in the world ...").

BTW, neither Luke nor nep on Chessvibes ("a big, I mean BIG, blunder by Morozevich") - this motivated Peter Doggers' response - were polite in pointing out the so-called blunder. OK, Luke had his moment finding Rf8:+ on his own (but earlier in the game he didn't believe in Moro's opening concept). And Peter Doggers has ELO 2256, I don't know if this is considered 'incredibly weak' on planet Luke - I would say he knows at least a thing or two or three about chess ... .

OK, Ivanchuk's rook sacrifice was not really bad, it would have been good enough for a draw (with white and from a slightly better position) - IF and only if he had seen 26.e7. But this was the very next move in the game. In other words, the rook sacrifice was only correct if he finds the right follow-up, and nothing unusual happened in between.
Then 25.de6: may deserve "?!" (giving away the, admittedly slight advantage he had) and 26.Qf7:+ is clearly "?"

"And Peter Doggers has ELO 2256, I don't know if this is considered 'incredibly weak' on planet Luke - I would say he knows at least a thing or two or three about chess ... ." (Thomas)

I would say so also. Stronger than me, that's for sure.

And yes, earlier in the game, I thought it would be a draw, but Morozevich thought otherwise and went for the win. Something went really wrong inside his head on his 26th move. Too bad.

Congratulations to Vachier-Lagrave on winning Biel 2009.

Luke replied to comment from Harry_Flashman | July 30, 2009 2:16 PM | Reply
You can't read? I'll say it again for you:

"But, I don't see everything, and make lots of mistakes, like I do in my real games."

Do you understand now ?

Poor Luke.. My post was just ironic .. Since your " Me chess-jungle Tarzan ! " previous post simply made me laugh for his childish contents...

Do you understand now ? ;-)

Acirce , the mentioned patzers didn't point out politely about Morozevich mistake , or definining it better : far less strong move.
Of course that move was something a super GM should have normally spotted out but , as i have already written , maybe Moro over the board missed it or chose the Txa8 line..He's a human being after all.

As far your judgement about my " not constructive post "..Well.. I'll survive to your harsh judgement mate... ^__^

I'd rather have Kramnik and Leko play sensibly and draw 10 games than Morozevich and the likes throw away games on gross blunders and speculative sacrifices that backfire! A poor advert for chess if the top notch GMs start hanging pieces etc or go into speculative sacrificial mode. Bring back Kramniks, Anands and Aronians - at least then we can have some logical games.

Morozevich is indeed a human being, and like all other humans he sometimes blunders. Glad we got that out of the way.

Luke, after you saw Rxf8 did you see all the lines leading to a forced win "immediately"? Or did you just see Rxf8 and decide it wins?

I saw that there were only 3 responses to 26.Rxf8+ and I quickly found 27.Qxe5 followed by Be6 for two of them, and 27.Qf5+ for 26...Kxf8 with pretty much the same thing or worse. It was sort of immediate, maybe 10 seconds. I don't remember looking at anything after this because whatever chess instinct I have told me that Black could not survive. I never looked at 26.Rxa8.

But, as I've said before (and proved many times here), I can make mistakes. You can probably see one reason why I sometimes make them in my answer above. In middlegame tactics, I usually only analyze the one or two moves that instantly look good to me. If I reach a dead end on those moves, I go back and find another move to look at. One of the old Champions (Lasker?) said something like if you see a good move, don't play it, but look for something better. That's pretty good advice that I wish I could follow, but in the heat of battle with the clock running, I just can't seem to do it. Also, some other guy, I forget who, said to first assemble a list of candidate moves to analyze before you start analyzing any of them. I've tried that, but it undermines my instinct. I feel too much like a robot, putting a list together, A, B, C, D, etc. I just jump in on the first one I see and if it looks like a knock-out, that's what I play. One advantage to my approach is that I hardly ever get into time trouble.

I choose moves the same way Luke does.... but not only do I make mistakes, I STILL get into time trouble! All the time. Even from analyzing just a single line.

I, too, can't force myself into the discipline of mentally listing "candidate moves" and then systematically analyzing each in turn, as Kotov taught.

(fyi, "If you see a good move, wait! - look for a better one!" is attributed to Tartakover, I believe.)

Here's the proper way: (my way)
1. gaze at the position in a befuddled manner
2. ponder one or two nice looking moves, vaguely
3. start thinking of inconsequential non-chess topic
4. wake up to see your clock has 3 minutes left and make first move that occurs to you

I've heard at least one reputable GM say that no GM thinks in the way Kotov recommends.

I believe that GM, whoever it is. Humans just don't work that way.

Possibly Kotov's method is suited for training, but it's nothing to strive for when playing.


"The importance and breadth of Kotov's work as a chess author ranks him among the all-time greats in this field. (wiki)

-The Soviet School of Chess-
This was one of the first books that I ever read. Quite a romantic fairytale; highly dogmatic Soviet propaganda. Faults aside, an excellent read and wonderful source of information. I recommend it to every player interested in chess history.

-Play like a Grandmaster-
Not a bad book. Perhaps this became the model for future writers like Devoretsky.

-The Art of the Middle Game-
This book is perhaps the best collaborative effort of both Keres and Kotov, and one of the best chess books of the 20th century. I certainly found much value and inspiration in it , even after becoming a strong master!

-Think Like Grandmaster-
Perhaps Kotov's most famous book, and real crap! There is nothing in it for the practical player. It should be renamed: DREAM LIKE A GRANDMASTER! I know of no GM who has ever thought like he describes...

-Grandmaster at Work-
This is a Kotov book that I had never come across, but Neil Sullivan sent me this cover photo just today so that I could include it among Kotov's remarkable collection.

Kevin Spraggett

Also, "Drink Like a Grandmaster", focusing on Blackburne, Alekhine, Bogoljubov, Tal, Igor Ivanov, and the master of them all, Alek Wojtkiewicz. How to prepare for the game (the harder stuff is recommended), when to hit the bar during the game, etc.

I don't recall if it was Mig or some other writer - when reporting some strong tournament (or maybe the Olympiad?) where an important game was decided by forfeit because one player overslept - referred to another apocryphal classic: "Sleep Like a Grandmaster."

Nice to see Kevin Spraggett casually posting here.

Em, Jon,was that actually Kevin Spraggett or was it boz quoting (copy/paste) Kevin Spraggett? If the former, then "I've heard at least one reputable GM say that no GM thinks in the way Kotov recommends." doesn't make too much sense..

Yes, boz quoted Spraggett. Sorry for being unclear.

I included Igor Ivanov and Wojo in the fictional book “Drink Like a Grandmaster” because I actually played both of them in serious, OTB games. Unfortunately, they are both dead. Here is my Ivanov story:

I was paired against him in round 1. I had White. The TD says “start your clocks.” No Ivanov was present. I politely waited a minute or so, but the TD wanted the clocks started, so I pressed the button and waited. Ivanov was not yet a GM, but he was in the upper 2500s and widely considered to be the strongest IM in the world. I was looking forward to the game, but where was he? Ten minutes go by, then 20. I’m walking around, looking at other games, trying to defuse my nervousness.

After 30 minutes, I went to the TD and said “where is he?” The TD told me that Ivanov was staying at the hotel. I went to the front desk and asked them for Ivanov’s room number. They gave it to me, and I started to walk down the hallway to his room, intending to knock on his door, thinking that he may have been asleep. I don’t want to win because he showed up an hour late. Halfway down the hallway, I saw him coming out of his room. I said something to him like “I’m your opponent, I have White, we are on board one” and he mumbled something in response. He was as drunk as a skunk.

By the time he made his first move, 45 minutes had elapsed. He played a Benoni. When I was about to play my 8th or 9th move, he began snoring, alcohol fumes covering the board. His eyes were closed and he was snoring. I played my move and hit my clock, but he kept on sleeping and snoring. I looked at the player next to him, someone I knew, and sort of shrugged my shoulders. What should I do? I didn’t think I should reach across the board to touch Ivanov to wake him up. Fortunately, the guy next to him gave him a nudge and Igor came to, looked at the position for 10 seconds, and made a move. A few moves later, the same thing happened. He was snoring and his eyes closed. It may have happened one or two more times. Anyway, he rarely spent more than a minute on any move. I thought I had an equal game, but probably didn’t because he seemed to be totally unconcerned and just automatically played his move (when he was awake). I think I resigned on my 27th move. There was no post mortem, because after I had posted the result on the pairing sheet, he had disappeared (probably back to his room or to the hotel bar).

Beats having an IM hammer you while reading a newspaper. Ivanov had a problem, this guy just had no respect. Why don't you post the moves, that might be fun.

I'll try to find the scoresheet. I'm not very organized, so it may take some time. I'll look for the Wojo scoresheet while I'm at it. Wojo was even drunker. Very seriously drunk.

That's a great story! When Ivanov died, I recall reading a number of tributes where everyone said what a great lovable guy he was. I can see feeling differently about him after an experience like that.

I never played anyone drunk that I know of. But I've had a few experiences with other extraneous distractors. Twice - more than 20 years apart - I had opponents (both IMs) who fell asleep at the board. The first one blundered a piece on move 15 or so and resigned as soon as I grabbed it. The second one, who I faced last year, also missed a simple shot early in the game and found himself down the Exchange for little or no compensation. He then woke up and tried to make fight of it, but it was too late. (He later told me he'd been exhausted throughout his first 3 games, and couldn't figure out why. He did manage to recover thereafter and went on to finish the tournament with a solid score. He is now a GM.)

On the other side of the coin, I myself once played a game while suffering from an illness that left me feverish, shivering and nauseous. After making it through that day's first game I decided to drop out of the tournament...only I felt so sick I couldn't even stand up to find the TD and tell him not to pair me. Instead, I passed the hour or two between rounds just sitting at the table where I'd played the previous round - my head sideways on the table, holding my face in my hands and moaning softly. I think someone else had to tell me the board number I had to go to for the next round. I continued holding my head and moaning at intervals throughout that game, against someone in the 2100s. I wasn't trying to distract him, but my audible suffering might have had that effect: I rolled over him like a truck going over a tomato.

My own story on how I beat a GM - 10-15 years ago, my only victory so far, I think I played roughly ten over the years: In Germany there is a tradition of blitz tournaments after major opens - part of the tradition is that about 50% of the field gets more or less drunk, with profs from Eastern Europe taking the lead.

In the first round of the preliminaries, I played the ex-Soviet GM who had just won the open. As I heard later, he had put 300DM at the bar ("I want to have a nice evening, is this enough?") - he was lucky that friends saved the rest of his prize money because he really needed it. The game started, and after some 15 moves my opponent insulted me: "You are such a weak player, you could have won the exchange!". I said nothing and smiled at him, because I had found and played another move winning a piece. Maybe 20 moves later he 'woke up': "Where did I lose that piece?" ("Woo hab iccch Figurrr verrlorrren?)" - he started playing very fast, hitting the clock like a madman but lost in the end.

In this condition, the GM still scored something like 6/9 against 'decent' opposition (average ELO around 2000), but then he fell asleep and was unable to play the final.

I haven't found my Ivanov game yet, but I just located my Wojo game. As you can see, I had no chance. He was very drunk during the game and kept going back to the hotel bar every other move. He reeked of alcohol, I was getting drunk just breathing his fumes. His head would twitch from side to side like a robot, his eyes were open, but they seemed to be twitching and looking at nothing.

I saw him drinking at the bar several times during the game when I was walking around. He never spent more than 15 or 20 seconds on any move. I felt like I had no chance at all, even though he was drunk and getting drunker, plus he may have been on something else that caused the rapid head and eye twitchings. After he beat me, he was gone before I could even pack up the pieces and say anything to him. He was 3 - 0 and never showed up the next day, forfeiting his next two games. Nobody heard from him, not even the TD.

Luke - Wojo 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng8 9. Bd4 f6 10. f4 fxe5 11. fxe5 Qa5 12. Bc4 Bxe5 13. O-O Bxd4+ 14. Qxd4 Qb6 15. Qxb6 axb6 16. Rae1 Nh6 17. Ne4 d5 18. Nd6+ Kd7 19. Nxc8 Rhxc8 20. Bb3
b5 21. a3 Nf5 22. c3 Nd6 23. Bd1 Rf8 24. Bg4+ Nf5 25. Re5 e6 26. Rfe1 Rf6 27.Bd1 Nd6 28. R5e2 Nf7 29. Rf2 Rxf2 30. Kxf2 e5 31. Ke3 Nd6 32. Bg4+ Ke7 33. Kd3 e4+ 34. Kd4 Nb7 35. Rf1 Ra4+ 36. Ke3 Nd6 37. Bd1 Nf5+ 38. Ke2 Ra8 39. Bc2 Ke6 40. g3 Ke5 41. g4 Nd6 42. h4 c5 43. h5 d4 44. cxd4+ cxd4 45. Bb3 Nc4 46. Rf7 d3+ 47. Kd1 gxh5 48. gxh5 Rg8 49. Bxc4 bxc4 50. Rxh7 e3 51. Re7+ Kd4 White resigns 0 - 1

Wojo was amazing. I saw him at several other tournaments, and he was always drunk. I saw him show up about 50 minutes late against a master, play 1.Nf3, then walk away (probably to the bar) without waiting to see a move and not return for another half hour. He crushed the guy.

A couple years ago Jonathan Hilton wrote a multi-part series in Chess Life called, "How Wojt Won." I believe it's since been published (or is in process of being published) as a book. There were as many as 10 separate articles, grouped around a handful of openings the GM used regularly.

The above material should definitely be added to that book. Dunno if it's age-appropriate for Hilton, though: he just graduated high school last month.

I once attended a lecture by Jeremy Silman where he referred to Wojtkiewicz as Vodkavich. But , this was of course when Wojo was still alive.

I found the scoresheet. My filing system is a big cardboard box. I reversed the colors in my memory, but everything else was about right. I never had a chance:

Igor Ivanov - Luke 1.d4 (I wrote -44 on my scoresheet, meaning he was 44 minutes late) c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 g6 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.a4 Bg7 7.Nf3 0–0 8.h3 Na6 9.0–0 Nc7 10.Re1 a6 11.Be2 b5 12.e5 Nfe8 13.Bf4 bxa4 14.Nxa4 Nb5 15.c4 Nd4 16.Nxd4 cxd4 17.Qxd4 dxe5 18.Bxe5 f6 19.Bg3 Bxa4 20.Rxa4 e5 21.Qc3 Nd6 22.c5 Nb5 23.Bxb5 axb5 24.Rxa8 Qxa8 25.c6 Rc8 26.Qb3 Qa5 27.f4 Kh8 28.fxe5 fxe5 29.Rxe5 Bxe5 30.Bxe5+ Kg8 31.d6+ Black resigns 1 - 0

Nice anecdotes Luke. It's very unnerving to play someone who is drunk or otherwise impaired. I always feel either the game's too easy for my opponent or he's bluffing.

Anyone heard of distractions by the opposite sex? A friend told me about her 12-year old son who played a rather buxom lady in an open final. He was prepubertal and didn't seem fazed by the large mammaries thrown onto the table. She lost quickly and left the table in anger. Apparently her previous male opponents had been distracted and played weakly.

I played a well-known Scandinavian GM in round 1 of an open Swiss about 30 years ago. He was horribly jet-lagged and blundered a piece on around move 10.

So he said 'Can I take that back?'. I said 'no', and he resigned.

Just for the fun of it ...

I've been around chess since the 60's. The following list includes only the living, and is filtered by 'well-known' meaning 'CO has heard of.'

Scandinavia = Denmark, Norway, Sweden (some argue Finland & Iceland as well, but FTSOA and time, I'll pass on those)

GMs old enough to be a GM by 1982:
Denmark = Larsen, Hansen C,

Norway = Agdestein, Gausel, Ostenstad, Tisdall

Sweden = Andersson, Cramling

Tisdall (titled in 1995) and Hansen, C (1984), Ostenstad (1990), Gausel (post 1993), Agdestein (1985) and Cramling (1992) are disqualified.

This leaves Larsen and Andersson. My gut choice is Larsen (my first instinct).

Of course, 30 years is a long time, and the GM in question may be deceased. The chances of the opponent being one of these two, though, I feel is about 95%.

I am convinced that the question was asked mostly in jest, but also with the possibility of acceptance. It would not lessen my respect for either of these players to find out who it was.

CO :)

Ouch. Coulda been Olafson (Iceland) (doubtful)
or Westerinen(Finland).

Still going with Larsen though!


Larsen would never ask for take back. Must be Andersson or maybe Olafson

Someone knows.

Unless, of course, in jest. The man has a great sense of humor.

I was attending one of Jose Cuchi's New York Opens in the mid 80's. I got onto an elevator to go to the top floor to watch the beginning of a round in the open section. It was my first look at the NY chess scene, and I was really impressed with all the chess elite that were there.

Anyway, the elevator was crowded. I looked around and saw Mr. Larsen, almost as tall as I, in black trenchcoat and scarf, another big name grandmaster, a strong IM, and some guy I didn't know.

The guy I didn't know (a yahoo, as it turns out)looked around at us, looked straight at me, and said, "So, are you all grandmasters?" I was momentarily at a loss for words, because I wasn't sure if the IM was a GM yet or not (he eventually became one). I was just about to introduce this guy to the other three (expecting to make points with the hoi polloi), when I noticed that two of the others had looked down, unwilling to help me out, and possibly a smirk on their faces. But Mr. Larsen had a great and mischievous look on his face, and said simply, "Yes, we are!"

The man was fairly awed, and proceded to shake each of our hands. When he shook mine, he said something like, "So good to meet you, sir." I just nodded. I hadn't said a word, and so he may have thought I was a foreign player. He got off on a floor just before the top, and as we rode the final few feet without him, Mr. Larsen gave me a big smile and a wink, and we all had a nice chuckle.

It was glorious.


"The man has a great sense of humor."

The Buenos Aires 2008 tournament showed his sense of humor.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 30, 2009 5:11 AM.

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