IM Nino Khurtsidze

It was widely reported today that IM Nino Khurtsidze had lost her battle with cancer today. She won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship in 1993 and 1995, one of the few players who won it more than once.


She also won the women’s Georgian championship five times and earned her IM (not WIM) title in 1999.


She played for the Women’s World title last year in Tehran. The following game below is perhaps the best game she played in that tournament.


GM Natalia Zhukova-IM Nino Khurtsidze
Women’s World Ch.
Tehran, 2017
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bd6 (More common is 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5) 6.e4 (If White can safely get in .e5, or at least keep her pawn on e4, she will have a significant advantage. In the Nimzo-Indian, and to a certain extent all other Indian defences, this is a thematic idea for White. The “e” pawn has to go!) 6…dxe4 7.fxe4 e5 8.d5 b5!? (A TN. And apparently a good one!) 9.Nf3 bxc4 10.Bxc4 O-O 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Bg4 13.h3 Bh5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Qe2 Nbd7 16.Rg1 (The white king has no safe haven if the game gets complicated or if Black attacks. Which she does.) 16…Qb8 17.Bb5 Qb6 18.Kf1 Rab8 19.Nd2 a6 20.Nc4 Qa7 21.Nxd6 cxd6 22.Bf2 Qb7 23.Bxa6 Qxb2! (Blowing open the squares around the White king. He is still unsafe.) 24.Qxb2 Rxb2 25.Re1 (White’s king is still more vulnerable than Black’s. And the black pieces are ready to storm White’s position.) 25…Ra8 26.Bb5 Rxa3 27.Bxd7 Rxc3 28.Bf5 Bxf5 29.gxf5 Rxh3 30.Bg3 Rb3 31.Bf2 Rhf3 0-1 (Once White’s “e4” pawn goes, the “d” and “f” pawns are going to fall as well.)




A “Tal”ented player

A great game by the Magician from Riga.

GM Tal (2625)-Mukhin (2420)
Baku, 1972
[There are some games worth playing over and over again. This is one of them.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Bb7 9.Re1! +/= Nbd7 10.Bg5 Nc5?? 11.Bd5! +/- b4 (ECO gives 11.Bd5 h6 12.Bxb7 Nxb7 13.Bh4 Rc8 14.a4 b4 15.Nd5 +/-, citing Honfi-Tatai, Monte Carlo, 1967. 11…exd5 also runs into problems after 11…exd5 12.exd5+ Kd7 13.b4 Na4 14.Nxa4 bxa4 15.c4 +-) 12.Bxb7 Nxb7 13.Nd5! (White is determined to open the “e” file!) 13…exd5 14.exd5+ Kd7 (If 14…Be7, then 15.Nf5 +-) 15.c3! +- b3 16.Qxb3 Nc5 17.Qc4 Qc8 (17…Rc8 18.b4 Nce4 19.Nc6 Nxg5 20.Nb8+ Rxb8 21.Qc6#) 18.Nc6 h6 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Re3 Kc7 21.b4 (With the idea of 22.Na7+ or 22.Ne7+, if the black knight should move.) 21…Rg8 1-0





King’s Gambit Game

The King’s Gambit has the reputation of being a wild, attacking, tactical opening. Of the many variations, perhaps the most violent of them all is the Muzio, where White freely gives up a piece and launches a fierce attack on the Black.

Sometimes the effort is successful, sometimes Black, despite having been under constant pressure for almost the entire game, wins it.

But it’s always entertaining.


During the summer I participated in a thematic team match. The opening chosen was the King’s Gambit. I, however, decided to make it into a Muzio.

Here is the game!


Live Wire vs. King’s Gambit Thematic Team Match, Aug. 2017
[Escalante and the computer]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O (This is the Muzio Gambit) 5…gxf3 6.Qxf3 Bc5+ 7.Kh1 d5 8.Qxf4 f6!? [After 8…Qf6, White has the advantage after 9.Qxc7. Worse are 8…Nf6 9.Bxd5 O-O (or 9…Be7 10.e5 O-O 11.exf6 Qxd5 12.Qg3+ +-) 10.Qg5+, 8…Nh6 9.Qxh6 dxc4 10.Qg7 Bd4 11.e5, and 8…Be6 9.Bxd5 Bxd5 10.exd5 Qxd5 11.Nc3 Qe6 12.d4 Bxd4 13.Nb5 Bb6 14.Bd2 Qf6 15.Qe4+ Qe6 16.Qxb7, all winning. The computer suggests 8…Qe7 9.exd5 f5 10.d4 Bd6 11.Qf2 11…Qg7 12.Bf4 Ne7 13.Nc3] 9.exd5 Bd6 10.Qh4 Nd7?! (The knight turns out to be misplaced here. White threatens 11.Qh5+ and gain a significant advantage. Best 10… Qd7 to lessen the appeal of the check.) 11.Qh5+ Kf8 12.d4 Nb6 13.Bb3 Qe8 14.Qh4 ( suggests this is a mistake., giving 14.Qxe8+ Kxe8 15.c4 Ne7 16.c5 Nf5 17.cxd6 cxd6 18.Nc3 Kf7. But I wanted to keep the queens on the board as it is easier to attack with a queen than without one. And I am playing a human, a person, a mistake-maker, not a computer. So let’s keep up the pressure.) 14…Qg6 (This move may be a mistake. gives 14…Qe2 as being better and gives the continuation of 15.Re1 Qg4 16.Qxg4 Bxg4 17.c4 Bb4 18.Nc3 Rd8 19.a3. But White can vary with 15.Bxh6+ Nxh6 16.Qxh6+ and now 17.Nc3 seems to be in White’s favor.) 15.c4 Nd7 16.c5 Be7 17.Nc3 f5 18.Qf4 Ndf6 19.Qxc7?! (Somehow this doesn’t look right!) 19…Ne8 20.Qf4 h6 (White’s past pawns in the center certainly gives him the advantage in the area of the board. But they also function as a blockade to any further White attacks in the center. Meanwhile, there is activity in the kingside and he should pay attention to that part of the board.) 21.g4 Bg5 22.gxf5 Qf6 (Here is an agreement with computer and myself. Best was 22… Qh5. And after 23.Qg3 Ngf6 24.d6 Rh7 25.Be6 Rg7 26.Bxg5 Qxg5 27.Qf2, White has some problems. Perhaps 19.Qxc7 was a mistake after all. Maybe the idea of establishing a strong pawn center is a mistake and White should keep open all the attacking files, ranks, and diagonals.) 23.Qe5 [23.Ne4 only works if Black decides to pawn grabbing adventure; 23…Qxd4?! 24.Nxg5 Qxd5 (Better, of course, is 24…hxg5) 25.Bb3 Qxc5 26.Ne4 Qe7 27.Bf4 fxe4 28.Bxh6+ +-] 23…Ng7 24.Bxg5 hxg5 25.Ne4 Qh6 (25…Qxe5 26.dxe5 Bxf5 27.Ng3 Nh6 28.Nxf5 Ngxf5 29.Bc2 Ng4 30.Rxf5+ and I don’t know who exactly has the advantage.)


26.f6! Nf5 27.d6 Bd7 28.f7! (A Black defensive knight is lost – White is winning.) 28…Nge7 29.dxe7+ Nxe7 30.Nf6 Rd8 ( computer declares a mate in nine moves. How do these silicon monsters find such mates in such a short time? Meanwhile, the same beastly monster suggests 30…Bc6+. But in this line too, Black has some serious problems; 31.d5 Bb5 32.Ng4 Qh5 33.Rae1 Ng6 34.Qd6+ Kg7 35.Qf6+ Kh7 36.f8=Q Rhxf8 37.Re7+ Nxe7 38.Qxe7+ Kh8 39.Rxf8+ Rxf8 40.Qxf8+ Kh7 41.Nf6+) 31.Nxd7+ Rxd7 32.Qb8+ Kg7 33.f8=Q+ 1-0


Pets are loveably, cute, cuddly, and can play a tough game of chess.


You might not believe it, but they actually do play chess. Here are some photos showing what I mean.









It’s been noted that pets tend to win more than 80% of the games played to completion. Of the 20% that they did not win occurred when the pet got bored with the game when the losing human player didn’t finish the game, and they walked away from the board on all four paws.


Remember that next time you hear a stupid pet joke.


White pawns are working overtime.

From a tournament game I played nearly thirty years ago against a friend.

Escalante-Dr. H. Valery
Labate’s Chess Centre, Apr. 26 1988
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.g4 Be4 {A bit more sane is 4…Bg6 5.h4 as in Golyak (2220)-Fairbairn (2048), corres., Golden Knights, 1997, which continued with 5.h4 h5 6.e6!!? fxe6 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 hxg4 9.Qg6+ Kd7 10.Qxg4 Nf6 11.Qe2 Kc8 12.Nf3 Nbd7 13.Qxe6 Kc7 14.Bf4+ Kb6 15.c4 dxc4 16.Nc3 a6 17.d5 Ka7 18.dxc6 bxc6 19.Qxc6 Qc8 20.Be3+ Kb8 21.Qe6 Qb7 22.Ke2 Rh5 23.Rhd1 g6 24.b4 Rf5 25.Nd4 Rh5 26.Bf4+ Kc8 27.Qxc4+ 1-0} 5.f3 Bg6 6.f4 e6? 7.Nf3 Be4 8.Bd3 Nd7 9.Bxe4 dxe4 10.Ng5 Qa5+ {10…h6 11.Nxe4 Qh4+ 12.Kf1 Qh3+ 13.Kg1!} 11.Nc3 f5 12.Nxe6 Bb4 13.Nxg7+ Kf7 14.Nxf5 Bxc3+ 15.bxc3 Qd5 16.c4{!} Qa5+ 17.Bd2 Qd8 18.Nd6+ Kf8 19.g5 h5 20.f5 Rh6 {Black sacrifices a Rook for mild counterplay.} 21.gxh6 Qh4+ 22.Kf1 Qh3+ 23.Kg1 e3 24.h7! {24.Bxe3? Qxe3+ 25.Kf1 Qxh6} exd2 25.h8=Q Qe3+ 26.Kg2 Qg5+ 27.Kf3 Qg4+ 28.Ke3 Qg5+ 29.Kd3 Nc5+ 30.dxc5 Rd8 31.Qhxh5 Qe7 32.f6 Qe6 33.f7 Ke7 34.fxg8=Q Qxg8 35.Qh4+ Kd7 36.e6+ Kc7 {If 36…Qxe6, then 37.Qdg4 should win} 37.e7 Rxd6+ {Black sacrifices a second Rook for even a more milder form of counterplay.} 38.cxd6+ Kb8 39.d7 Qg6+ 40.Kc3 Qg7+ 41.Kb3 a6 42.d8=Q+ Ka7 43.e8=Q c5 44.Qhf6

Game_Position_3 copy

{White now has four queens and two rooks against Black’s sole queen. With mate coming Black decided to resign. Note White’s original Queen on d1 and Rooks on a1 and h1 never made a single move in the game. White’s pawns did most of the work!} 1-0


Beating an IM!

This victory is in a PGN format so you need a PGN view to get the best effect.

[Event “Let’s Play!”]
[Site “”]
[Date “2017.03.24”]
[White “Barefoot_Player”]
[Black “Cami3”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C10”]

{WIM Camelia Ciobanu hails from Romania. This is my first game against her. I either got very lucky or she was being nice to me. She should be able crush me in a later game.} 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Be7 6.Bd3 Ngf6 7.Qe2 O-O 8.O-O Nxe4 {The computer suggests 8…b6!?, which opens other possibilities for Black. Although he still has to be careful; Heinrich Wolf-Isisdorf Gunsberg, Monte Carlo, 1902, went as 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Be7 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.Bd3 Ngf6 7.O-O b6 8.Qe2 O-O 9.Neg5 Bd6 10.Nxh7 Nxh7 11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kg6 13.Qe4+ f5 14.Qxa8 Nf6 15.Re1 Ne4 16.Rxe4 Rh8 (16…fxe4 17.Be3) 17.Rxe6+ Bxe6 18.Qxd8 Bxh2+ 19.Kh1 Rxd8 20.Nxe6 1-0} 9.Qxe4 Nf6 10.Qh4 g6 11.Bg5 h5 12.Ne5 {White has a slight edge due to his powerfully posted pony.} Nd5 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Qg3 Qf6 15.c3 Nf4 16.Qf3 Kg7 17.Be4 c6 18.Rfe1 Rd8 19.Re3 Bd7 20.Rae1 g5 21.Bc2 Qh6 22.g3 {Black’s knight is forced to the side. It is debatable if it is on a good square. Meanwhile, Black’s bishop prevents Black’s rooks from participating in any attack on the White king.} Nh3+ 23.Kg2 Be8 24.Bd3 g4 {Oops! White will gain material. I had to play over the position more than once to find if I could actually get away with the sacrifice.} 25.Nxg4 hxg4 26.Qxg4+ Ng5 27.h4 Rd5 28.Re5 Rxe5 29.Rxe5 f5 30.hxg5 Qg6 31.Qe2 Bf7 {Black’s bishop has been doing nothing other than defending. Nevertheless, Black’s rook can come into play.} 32.f4 Rh8 33.Kg1 Rh3 34.Qg2 Qh7 35.Bf1 Rh5 36.Be2 Rh3 37.Bf3 {White is obviously not interested in trading or repeating the position. He just has to defend against the threats and he will have a won game.} Kf8 38.Re2 Qh8 39.Re5 Rh7 40.a4 {White will eventually break through on the queenside and create a passed pawn. Black can’t do the same on the kingside.} a6 41.b4 1-0

Addressing an Issue

Taking a break from the usual gambits and games to address an plague that is affecting everything, the invasion of religion into a chess competition.


Please take a look at the link below. This article has since been published on Facebook and other social news.

Below is an image showing the infamous dress.



I question how this knee-length dress can be considered seductive or evil. Is this result of an insecure man or religion? Do young woman now have to wear full burqas in chess competitions for the benefit of an oppressive, insecure, and backwards minority?


To those people who enacted and enforced such a rule – grow up and out of your irresponsible viewpoints about the human body and just let the kids play chess.


Comments from anyone?