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Smeets Mates and Saves the Dates

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Jan Smeets (rhymes with "fates") is proving that playing well is the best revenge on the doubters like me. I didn't give anyone other than Nakamura and Caruana a chance to make a plus score against the tough Experience squad at this year's NH Tournament. But after six of ten rounds the 24-year-old Dutch champion is the only player on the Rising Stars with a plus, and it's +3, a 2800+ performance. He played a nice control game to take out Beliavsky for the second time and take a commanding lead in the race to qualify for next year's Melody Amber tournament. The chance to butt heads with the world's best at rapid and blindfold in Nice next year seemed to be Nakamura's destiny before the event, but as the old saying goes, that's why we play the games.

Smeets impressed this time by steadily outplaying the veteran Beliavsky, who, lest we pity a fading legend in his dotage, is still rated 30 points higher than Smeets. This queenless middlegame shouldn't contain too much poison, but the Dutchman did a lot with the extra tempi Black handed him with the inaccurate 12..h6. White was about ready to reap the pawn harvest when he fell into Beliavsky's crafty counterplay against his king. (30.Ng3 would have kept the knight close enough to help on the defense.) So Smeets had to deliver a perpetual check. Except there was one problem, Beliavsky avoided it! Much like Nakamura a few minutes earlier, Beliavsky was quickly punished for his courage in rejecting a draw. Smeets only had a few minutes on his clock for four moves, but it was Big Al who blundered, playing 38.Nb5 instead of interpolating 38.Rb2+ first. (Black is also much worse there; probably 37..Nc5+!? was his last best chance.) That allowed Smeets to cover b2 with his knight and then, on the last move before time control, to calmly put his bishop on b1, where it is out of danger and headed to d3 with terrible effect.

Nakamura's lunatic travel schedule might not have caused the illness he's suffering from but it couldn't have helped. How is he going to overcome playing most of his events while based in Seattle, as rumor has it? Well, he's made it to the top 20 while staying based in the US and still playing American opens and Joel Benjamin confessed he didn't think that would be possible. Still, it's got to be a handicap, as sad as it would be to see the US champ set up camp in Europe half the year.

Nakamura lost his second in a row today, falling to Ljubojevic in a game that is very difficult to describe even after watching it move by move with GM Christiansen. Nakamura played what is considered a routine blunder on move eight against Ljubojevic's Accelerated Dragon. Only he can say whether or not 8.Nb3 was a wild provocation (wild even by his standards) or a pseudoephedrine-induced oversight (more likely). Both are hard to imagine but one must be the case. [Macauley posts an audio interview with Nakamura on the Chess.FM blog. Nakamura says 8.Nb3 was played with the intent of sacrificing the pawn. I'm glad he was up for talking despite what must be a very disappointing week and that he's staying positive for the rest of the event, which he concedes has been pretty much locked up by Smeets.] I've played the Acc. Dragon for 20 years and seen countless blitz opponents fall into that trap. (White has to castle first and then can play Nb3.) It gets a ? in every book. Larry C just couldn't believe it. Perhaps even more amazing was that Nakamura actually managed, with Ljubo's help (both ..Qg4 and ..Qh5 seem dubious), to get compensation and then later to have a forced draw available (and then to refuse it!). Horrible and amazing, sort of like Usain Bolt tying his shoes together at the start of a race but getting close to a win anyway.

Had Nakamura played 27.Qa6!? he might have even been playing for that win. The threat of Rb7 followed by Qa7 is strong and the black king probably has head for the hills. A few moves later White needed to force a draw with 29.Rxc8 Bxc8 30.Rb8! Kd7 (30..Qh2+ 31.Kf1 Qh1+ 32.Bg1 Kd7 33.Qb5+ also with a perpetual) 31.Qb5+ Ke6 32.Qc4+ and White can't stop checking. Instead he tried 29.Qb5+ and the black king achieved enough safety for his counterattack to be lethal. Down to the last moment LarryC was finding perpetual check swindles for White, but Ljubo was accurate till the end -- despite having to deal with startling moves like 46.Be3.

With Smeets winning a draw was pretty much worthless to Hikaru in the only race that really matters, so playing all or nothing made sense. Now with the ticket to Amber out of reach he might settle down a bit and protect his rating a little more. But as long as he had even a remote chance of beating Ljubojevic today he was going to push. And Ljubo is known for self-destructing in sharp positions in time trouble in these events. It's just that this year he's in much better form. Three wins! That's as many as he had in the last three events combined. (A vintage Ljubo pic for inky as long as someone is nearby to catch her if she gets the vapors.)

Svidler played the Pirc in the hopes of getting a complicated game against Hou Yifan. But apparently he did his preparation by googling "young Asian girls" and got a position that was anything but complicated when she forced the queens off with 11.Qg5. White can play for a plus here but 15.Ne2 was one knight retreat too many and Black broke in the center comfortably for a quick draw. Stellwagen hotted things up against Nielsen with a piece sac. After various exchanges they agreed to a draw by mutual fear in what would have been an interesting endgame to see played out. Caruana-van Wely was an old school Scheveningen that followed Karpov-Ljubojevic (!), a game I watched in person in Buenos Aires in 1994. Here Black got an advantage when Caruana declined to capture the rook on e3. With neither bishop playing they decided it was hopeless to continue and agreed the draw. Remarkably, that made six draws in a row each for two very combative players.

Another free day on Thursday, this one apparently due to an overbooking at the hotel. Check out the official site and chess.fm/blog for videos and reports.


"Caruana-van Wely was an old school Scheveningen that followed Karpov-Ljubojevic (!), a game I watched in person in Buenos Aires in 1994."

As always I greatly enjoyed your writing. My fav old school Scheveningen is Milic-Korchnoi in Belgrade in 1964.


Thanks. And because the van Wely game got within shouting distance, Larry even got to trot out "the e5 push heard round the world," Ljubojevic-Andersson, Wijk aan Zee 1976. So many GMs mention this game as revolutionizing the way White handled these Scheveningen positions. That is, breaking things open and hitting them with sacrifices instead of the squeeze play methods Karpov had been so influential in propagating. Though nobody plays 12.e5 exactly there anymore...

"And because the van Wely game got within shouting distance, Larry even got to trot out "the e5 push heard round the world," Ljubojevic-Andersson, Wijk aan Zee 1976."

Sweet. Larry is such a great attacking player. I admit I'm an Onischuk fan, but this mate is so short, without software I'm not even sure what the first mistake by his opponent was. 4. ... exd4? I'd be interested to read someone else's analysis.

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 g6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nd5 h6 6. Nxd4 Bg7
7. Nb5 Kf8 8. Nbxc7 Rb8 9. Nb5 a6 10. Nbc3 Nf6 11. Bf4 Ra8
12. Bc7 1-0

Sorry, I meant forfeit.


Isn't Smeets with that surreal profile 100x better-looking than a rough-hewn "Ljubo"? (Bet his sis rates a "9.5" or higher.) It's as though Smeets walked out of a Hollywood Nazi movie of perfect-looking human specimens.

"With Smeets winning a draw was pretty much worthless to Hikaru in the only race that really matters ..."
Two questions arise:
1) At which point did it become clear that Smeets would be winning? Certainly not when Nakamura played 8.Nb3, probably also not (at least not for sure) when Naka rejected the possible move repetition.
Actually only Hikaru himself could tell if 8.Nb3 was an intentional (and probably dubious) pawn sacrifice ... the fact that he spent roughly ten minutes on this move [if I remember correctly from watching on-site] could indicate that he knew what he was doing!?
2) Technically, Nakamura and Smeets are on the same team. So isn't it a little bit odd - while understandable - if their personal interests prevail over the team result?

Regarding the looks of Ljubo vs. Smeets, it is of course a matter of taste. I wonder if Mig recommends Smeets to his sister because young Jan also seems to lose his hair fairly quickly at his age already ... ,:) .

This is what we call first class European organization (unscheduled free day) and proper promotion (Thomas not being able to find any posters of the event, even had to ask in the HOTEL where they play where is the venue).

Thank God we have some events from time to time which do not meet those European standards.

At least the players don't have to bring their own boards.

off topic, but in chessbase.com they mentioned something abt a 6million dollar match in vegas... whats that all about? And whos stan vaughan?

you really think some casino will pay 6 million for a chess match of two virtually unknown players?

The can has been opened, and the worms are escaping.

You don't really want to go there. In fact, I'm disappointed Chessbase actually acknowledged it.

Stan Vaughn is the main cause why I no longer play OTB. The crap in Nevada at that time just made so litle sense, and ruined any fun the game had for me. Totally unprofessional.

I was able to let it go, however, but then when I came to Oklahoma, I found another internal flap that was quite similar in structure to the one in Nevada. Different state, different people, same egos.

End of playing days. Sigh.

This stuff is pure gold!!
"Former FIDE and PCA World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov turned down the opportunity to play Vaughan in a match for 5 million in 2008".
What were you thinking Garry??

According to Nakamura, 8.Nb3 was an intentional sacrifice in an attempt to sharpen the play. Details in a 3-minute audio interview:

It should be stressed that the (low) level of promotion [beyond those chess fans who know anyway] is not typical for (Western) European chess events either. My own reference points are Corus (regularly over the last 5 or more years) and Dortmund (visiting once more than a decade ago). In both cases there was more 'visibility'. Chess completely dominates a small Dutch seaside village in January (i.e. out of season), but also in Dortmund there were at least some posters in town and outside the venue. Maybe Bartleby can share his impressions from Biel and Zurich?

So, I was genuinely surprised about the low visibility of the NH event, that's why I mentioned it. My suggestion: Joop van Oosterom enjoys interacting with the players and giving them a VIP treatment, but may not be interested in too much exposure (hundreds of spectators, coverage in mainstream media, ...). He doesn't want or need much in return for his sponsoring.
Following the commentary by Delemarre with at most a few dozen others also had its pluses: everyone could take a seat and there was direct interaction between commentator and public. Again, my reference point is Corus: hundreds of people sitting in the tent and maybe as much as 100 standing as there were no more seats.

As far as today's extra rest day is concerned: the official explanation is that, due to other festivities in the hotel, they couldn't guarantee the peace and quiet required for a chess event ... . Think about it what you want - I think the number of players is too small (or the hotel is too big) to stop all other activities in a 5-star Amsterdam hotel. For example, I saw a busload of Japanese tourists arriving yesterday - somehow I suspect most of them haven't even heard the name Hikaru Nakamura ,:) . BTW, presumably same story for the average US-American on the street.

Mig: Here you go, inky. Don't hyperventilate.


Thanks, Mig. I did hyperventilate the first time you posted that picture 5 years ago. It is a wonderful wonderful picture of my Ljubo - from Canadian tournament, I believe. I have it on my wall since then.

Thanks for giving others the chance to see the hunk.

Smeets is too young to interest with his looks. He is a nice looking lad, though. :)

Im sorry dude... Im dont know wat ur talking about... WHO IS HE?? :)

Please leave stan vaughan to your own use of google and to the inevitable fraud police and/or mental hospital orderlies. Yes, I'm also disappointed in ChessBase for feeding a troll.

@ Onischuk fan:

4...ed is quite standard; 5...h6 is not, and is dubious on its face.

Since Mig has nixed any verbage concerning the one in question, I will only observe that 'I was There' was correct when he (she?) said "You don't really want to go there."


Expand your horizons, Inky. This will quadruple your chances on a Saturday night.

What's the deal with stan vaughan?

Why won't mig talk about this?

Mig u entertain me. I would enjoy reading your story on this, as would many others. Don't be like 'oh this I won't do, I don't do stan vaughan'

Ah forget about the pride and that stan vaughan may be bad or whatever. Life is too short and chess news way too boring lately. This is spice!

Stan Vaughan is another in the line of mentally ill and evil people who have ruined chess in this country.

But great credit goes to him for embarrassing chess in the United States at the World Youth a decade ago, and again now.

Stay classy, moron.

My Saturday nights are lots of fun, thank you. ;)

>>> "Please leave stan vaughan to your own use of google and to the inevitable fraud police and/or mental hospital orderlies. Yes, I'm also disappointed in ChessBase for feeding a troll."

Yes but... the problem is not going away if everybody sticks their head in the sand.

can Stan Vaughan be any worse than Bill Goichberg?

Nah , Bill is of a different caliber , less mental , more of a manipulator i guess , well at least that's what i've been told , don't shoot the messenger lol

Well , to clarify , iv'e been told Stan cheated to get better ratings and be considered a GM while Bill raised a lot of money using his position in the federation and got accused of corruption . Of course all of this could be wrong since i've never met them personally

"..well at least that's what i've been told..."

"...iv'e been told..."

So says low riderz.

It appears that a lot of people tell him things, and then he goes around repeating their stories...

Yea sorry Stan for offending you , oops i meant Luke .

Turns out some stories are right sometimes , but it's true i shouldn't mention your name on public forum , my apologies

Yes indeed. Not that the story-telling bothers me, but I'm rather surprised at what people say on public blogs sometimes. Don't know the exact laws, but I suspect that libel/slander/defamation laws apply equally to the internet. Be careful guys!!

That's ok. You don't need to be so profuse with your apologies.

"My fav old school Scheveningen is Milic-Korchnoi in Belgrade in 1964."

Proving that Fischer, Kasparov, and computers have not completely revolutionized move order, Viktor was playing the same Modern Variation back in 64 that we play today:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Be2 Be7
7. O-O O-O 8. Be3 Nc6 9. f4 Bd7 10. Qe1 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bc6
12. Qg3 g6

Who thinks Ljubo will get another win? (Inky I already know what you think :) )
Any predictions on the overall final score? Maybe the vets will start tiring now?

(A vintage Ljubo pic for inky as long as someone is nearby to catch her if she gets the vapors.)

I thought inky was Ventsislav Inkiov?! I guess I'm wrong... or Mig is embarrassingly off the mark... :)

Lube job has very dark hair for someone who is 59 years old. His hair color kind of has an inky quality to it.

Please, I beg you, dont feed the pathetic attention seeking troll.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 26, 2009 4:00 PM.

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