“CUE” Less

During the big storm we had just before the weekend my wireless keyboard fell from my desk. I guess it was the thunder. But in any case I work up one morning to find my keyboard lying upside down on the floor.


When I turned it over, the CUE key had snapped off and was just gone. I couldn’t and still can’t find it. The CUE key is the first letter of a standard keyboard and is the 17th letter of the alphabet, just in case you didn’t know.


Normally, this might represent a problem, as the letter CUE is a rare one and one can write a letter and even a complete essay without this letter.




Since many things I do write about concern chess, this represents a more serious problem. Here are some chess terms I can’t type due to the missing CUE.


(X)ID [n. Short for (X)ueen’s Indian Defence, a standard defence for Black]

(X)UAD [n. A tournament with four players]

(X)UEEN (S) [n. The strongest piece at the beginning of the game. It combines the moves of a Rook and Bishop]

(X)UEEN (ED, ING, S) [v. To promote a pawn to a (x)ueen]

(X)UEENSIDE (S) [n. All the s(x)uares from the d1 to left and top of board]

(X)UEEN’S GAMBIT (S) [n. [n. A standard opening for White

S(X)UARE (S) [n. The basic unit of a chessboard]


Things are even worse with Descriptive Notation.


Now it is possible to play an entire game of chess without mentioning the (x)ueen.


Pasadena, 1932
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 Nc6? (4…d6) 5.d5 Nxe5 6.c5 Nbc4 7.f4 1-0


Fidlow-I. Mayer
Berlin, 1950
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.dxe6 dxc3 6.exf7+ Ke7 7.fxg8=N+ Rxg8 8.Bg5+ 1-0


But such games are (x)uite rare.


I finally found my backup keyboard. It is not wireless, but still very functional. Now I can continue my chess endeavors and not have to worry about batteries.




How Many Moves?

I’ve been playing chess for at least three decades now. By far, the most frequent question I encounter from non-players is, “So how many moves do you see ahead?”


It is a hard question to answer. Do I tell them I know the first 20 moves of an opening? Is that really seeing 20 moves ahead or just memorization?


How about a forced mate? We all know how to force a mate with a lone queen (or at least I hope we do), the smothered mate, and other techniques needed to win the game.


Do I tell skeptics I just know that the move I am playing leads directly to forced mate, without necessarily seeing all the subsequent moves? How then do I know if the move leads to a mate? Should I say that it is mate in less than 10 moves? Sounds awfully vague to me. How about, I who have been playing for a couple of decades, have developed an instinct (or intuition) for what moves leads to mate and what does not lead to mate? Sounds a little egotistical to me. But it is true (both the instinct and the ego). 



A good example is this phone game. Black plays some rather weak moves in the opening. And when Black played his 11th move, I knew I had a mating attack. I just didn’t see everything.


Cell Phone game, Feb. 2017
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qe6+?! 4.Be2 f5 5.d4 b6? 6.d5! Qf6 7.Nf3 c6 8.Bf4 Nd7 9.dxc6 Nc5 10.Nd5! Qxb2 11.Be5! (The attack is merely a decoy. White is after more than a mere queen.) 11…Qa3


12.Nc7+ Kf7 13.Ng5+ Kg6 14.Bh5+ Kxg5 (Giving up a piece. By the way, 14…Kh6 15.Nf7+ is mate.) 15.h4+ Kh6 16.Qd2+ 1-0 [Black could continue with 16…Qe3+ 17.Qxe3+ f4 18.Qxf4+ g5 (or 18…Kxh5, with White giving up a second piece but still mating Black in the same way.) 19.Qxg5#]



It looks like I’ve solved my problems with posting diagrams on this blog. More posts coming! =)

Two from Yahoo

Tomorrow afternoon I am attending the Orange County Chess Meetup Group. Usually a day or so I play over some old games to enjoy and sharpen my game, but mostly to enjoy them.

Tomorrow I just may play the Italian. So many people now just want to respond 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 with 3..h6?!. Of which the correct response is 4.d4.

So I found a pair of games from when Yahoo! used to let allow chess games on their servers. Both of them were blitz games and I usually do quite well on blitz games.

So here those two games.



Blitz Game, Yahoo, Mar. 24 2006

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.d4 f6 5.dxe5 Nxe5 6.Nxe5 fxe5 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qxg6+ Ke7 9.Qf7+ Kd6 10.Qd5+ Ke7 11.Qxe5mate 1-0



Blitz Game, Yahoo, June 12 2006

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Nxd4 6.Qxd4 Nf6 7.e5 Ng8 8.Nc3 d6 9.exd6 cxd6 10.O-O Nf6 11.Re1+ Be7 12.Bf4 O-O 13.Rad1 Qa5? (13…Be6 14.Bxe6 fxe6 15.Rxe6 Qd7 16.Ree1 Rad8 17.Nd5! and Black is still lost.) 14.Bxd6 Bxd6 15.Qxd6 Qg5 16.Qxf8+! Kxf8 17.Rd8+ Ne8 18.Rexe8mate 1-0





More Muzios

I posted a Muzio Gambit in my Miniatures page. It is an exciting gambit with lots of opportunities for Black to go wrong.

Here are four more recent games, with Black still failing to find a way to equality.

And I am still trying to find a better method of adding diagrams.


CCCA, 1953
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Bc5+?! (The White king doesn’t mind going to h1; it’s safer for him.) 7.Kh1 Qf6 8.Nc3 c6 9.d3 Ne7 10.Qh5 Bd6 11.d4 Qg6 12.Qf3 Bc7 13.e5 d5 14.exd6 Bxd6 15.Ne4 Nf5 16.Bxf4 Bxf4 17.Qxf4 O-O 18.g4! Ng7 19.Nf6+ Kh8 20.Bd3 Ne6 21.Qe5 Qg7 22.Qh5 h6 23.h4 1-0



With the idea of 24.g5.


Von Buskirk-R. Safdie
Los Angeles, May, 1982
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qe7 (A more modern response to the Muzio.) 7.Qxf4 Nh6 8.d4 d6 9.Nc3 c6 10.Bd2 Bg7 11.Ne2 O-O 12.Rf3 Kh8 13.Rg3 f5 14.Rxg7! (This type of sacrifice is known as a clearance sacrifice.) 14…Qxg7 15.d5 (With the obvious threat of 16.Bc3) 15…Ng4 16.Qxd6 Nf6 17.Bc3 h6 18.Rf1 Kh7 19.Ng3 Nbd7 20.Bd3 (Nothing wrong with 20.Nxf5, except the knight is better placed on h5.) 20…Nb6 21.Nh5 Qd7 22.Nxf6+ Rxf6 23.Qxf6 cxd5 24.exf5 Kg8 25.Qh8+ Kf7 26.Qg7+ Ke8 27.Re1+ d8 28.Bf6+ Kc7 29.Re7 1-0


corres., 1990
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.d4 Qxd4+ 10.Be3 (Believe or not, we are still in theory.) 10…Qg7 11.Bxf4 Nf6 12.Be5 Be7 13.Nc3 d6 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Nd5 Nd7 16.Rae1 Qg5 17.Re7+ Kf8 18.Re6 h5 19.Nxf6 Nxf6 20.Rxf6+ Kg7 21.h4 Qc5+ (21…Qxh4 22.Rf7+ Kh6 23.Qe3+ Kg6 24.Qc3 ; 21…Bg4 22.Rf7+ Kg8 23.Rf8+ Kh7 24.Qe4+ Bf5 25.R8xf5 Rae8 26.Rf7+) 22.Kh1 1-0


Don Schultheis (2363)-Robert Miehm (2161)
2002 Golden Knights final
[Dunne, “All Chess Players Should Have a Hobby”, CL, Mar. 2010, pg. 38/9]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 (Yes, Virginia, such openings do exist, even at the top level. Fischer’s analysis of the King’s Gambit may have chased the grandmasters away from the opening, but 2.f4 hasn’t been refuted yet. But don’t breathe easily. There is more to come, much more.) 2…exf4 (Following sage advice: the only way to refute a gambit is to accept it.) 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O (Paging 1860, paging 1860, come in 1860! The Muzio—White’s philosophy is very simple: developed pieces are more potent than undeveloped ones. There were two great periods for the Muzio Gambit—over-the-board (OTB) the gambit was played from 1840 to 1890 by some of the brightest stars of the game—Anderssen, Morphy, Blackburne, Zukertort, Chigorin, Marshall, Spielmann. The Muzio scored about 55% for White in my database.) 5…gxf3 (But around the turn of the century came the spoiler—Black found 5…d5! and suddenly White’s chances dropped to 42% and the Muzio largely disappeared from master play. It would have been interesting to see what Schultheis had prepared in answer to 5…d5. But there are more mysteries to come.) 6.Qxf3 (White’s plan is brutal and simple—open the f-file and play against f7.) 6…Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ [Schultheis is not content with one Muzio. He opts for the infamous double Muzio. The double Muzio had a reincarnation at correspondence chess (CC) play from the 1980’s to 2000. Although most of the players were not very strong, White scored an amazing 59% in a series of some 200 games. In the double Muzio, White’s strategy is very simple: mate.] 8…Kxf7 9.d4 Qxd4+ 10.Be3 Qg7 (Over the board in the last twenty years 10…Qf6 has been a catastrophe -White has scored 5–1. As an example of White’s resources, witness a young Alexey Shirov vs. J. Lapinski, Daugavpils 1990: 10…Qf6 11.Bxf4 Ke8 12.Nc3 Nc6 13.Nd5 Qg6 14.Rae1+ Be7 15.Bd6 Kd8 16.Qf8+ Bxf8 17.Bxc7 mate. Again, OTB 10…Qg7 is rare—only two examples from master play, both winning for White.) 11.Qxf4+ (This is the choice of Thomas Stock, one of the few masters playing the Muzio by CC. The alternative 11.Bxf4 has been scoring fairly well (54%) but Schultheis’ choice is relatively unexplored territory.) 11…Nf6 12.Nc3 Nc6 (With 12…Nc6 we are out of book. Black has two extra pieces and a badly exposed king. Previously played here has been 12…Rg8 as in Jewell-Hartmann, IECC 1999, which looks OK for Black but needs further exploration.) 13.Nd5 Be7 14.Qh4 Rg8 15.g3 d6 16.Rxf6+! (Now comes retribution—one piece falls prisoner to the White camp. After 16…Bxf6 17.Rf1 White will be down a rook with a winning attack after 17…Bd7 18.Qh5+!) 16…Ke8 17.Raf1 (Black has an extra piece and a difficult game. He is essentially playing without his a8-rook against a completely mobilized army. If he can get his rook into the fight, he has a chance. If not, the Muzio strikes again!) 17…Qg4 18.Qxh7 Rg7 19.Qh6 Kd8 20.Bf4! Rg8 (Black cannot take on f6—20…Bxf6 21.Qh8+ Rg8 22.Qxf6+ is a killer.) 21.Nxe7 Nxe7 22.Re1 Qg7 (It looks like the last chance to hold was 22…Ke8 23.Qh7 Rg7 but now Schultheis’ pressure finally breaks Miehm’s will.) 23.Qh4 Bg4 24.Bh6 Qh7 25.Rf4! (It is said the hardest attacking moves to foresee are the ones involving retreating a piece. Here the rook threatens both Rxg4 and Rfe4, the e7-knight is now pinned by the queen and Bg5 will place further pressure on e7. Black is lost.) 25….Rc8 26.Rfe4 Rg6 27.Bg5! (White avoids the strong-looking 27.Rxe7 Qxh6! in favor of a simply strong move.) 27…Qxh4 28.gxh4 Rxg5 29.hxg5 1-0




A Thematic Sac in the Sozin Sicilian

The Sicilian has many thematic sacrifices. Here is one of my favorites.


Escalante -“pvsatyam” (1600)
Blitz Game
www.chess.com, Dec. 27 2016
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.Be3 (8.g4, in my opinion, is the strongest move. But 8.Be3 is also adequate to try for an advantage. Besides, it can be fun to try different things, esp. in blitz chess.) 8…Qc7 9.f3 b5 10.Qd2 Bd7 [The white colored bishop belongs on b7, where it has a larger scope. That is large reason why Black plays …a6 and …b5. Maybe he was concerned about the immediate 8…Bb7? which allows the thematic sacrifice of 9.Bxe6! fxe6 10.Nxe6 +/-. Here’s another version of the thematic sac. ; 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.Be3 Qc7 9.Qe2 Nbd7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qc6 12.Nxg7+ Kf7 13.Nf5 Ne5 14.f4 Bxf5 15.exf5 Nc4 16.Bd4 Rae8 17.O-O-O Bd8 18.Qd3 Rhg8 19.Rhg1 b5 20.Qh3 b4 21.Nd5 Nxd5 22.Qxh7+ Kf8 23.Qh6+ Kf7 24.Qh7+ 1/2-1/12 (Lehtinen-FM Vetemaa, Tampere, Finland, 1995). However, Black forgets about this thematic sacrifice a few moves later.] 11.g4 Bc6 12.g5! Nfd7 (Now White can play the well-known, and well-rehearsed, thematic sac.) 13.Bxe6! fxe6 14.Nxe6 Qa5 15.Nxg7+ Kf7?! (Perhaps better is moving to the queenside, where most of Black pieces occupy important squares. Now White is in command.) 16.Nf5 Qc7 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Qxd5+ Kg6 19.Nxe7+ Kg7 20.Nf5+ (Weaker is 20.Bd4+ as Black has 20…Kf8. In such positions where there are pawns, the knight is a better attacker.) 20…Kf8 21.Qe6 Ne5 22.Qf6+ Qf7 23.Qxh8+ 1-0 (Black has no hope and gives up. If he chooses to play on, White will continue with 23…Qg8 24.Qf6+ Qf7 25.Qd8+ Qe8 26.Qxd6+ Kg8 27.Ne7+ Kf8 28.Ng6+ Kg8 29.Nxe5.)


This is what happens when a New York street hustler faces a chess Grandmaster.

There are two things you need to know about Maurice Ashley. First of all, he is one of the nicest persons you might ever meet. The second is that he is a Grandmaster.

He took a trip to New York City’s Washington Square Park. A chess hustler there didn’t recognize him and challenged him to a game. That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two was that he tried to distract GM Ashley, who was up to par in banter.

Mistake number three occurred when the hustler tried to cheat at one point.

Mistake number four was not recognizing or congratulating GM Ashley on his win.

It should not be hard to figure out who the hustler and GM are. Even if you never play chess.

See video below


A cold gambit

I am still trying to figure out the best way to insert a diagram into the games here. So, you’ll see different type of diagrams until I find the best way to do this.


The Icelandic Gambit is defined as the moves 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6. Black gives up a center pawn in the opening and gains great compensation for the missing pawn.


The first time I encountered this gambit, I thought it was a blunder by my opponent. But the more I studied the possibilities in the opening during the start of the game, the more I realized that I didn’t know any “book moves”, nor the theory behind the moves in this sideline of the Center Counter game and my opponent loved studying off-beat opening. I realized I was in trouble.


Here is that game.




Escalante-M. Henebry (1892)
Mid-Summer Classic
La Palma C.C., Aug. 18 2006
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6 5.Nf3 (After the game, I learned that 5.d4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2! is perhaps best. But this move is only slightly worse. It’s the next few moves that make White’s position much worse.) 5…Nc6 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3?! Qe7! (And White is suddenly worse!  It’s an uphill battle as Black knows what he is doing and White is only starting to learn this theory.) 8.Be3 O-O-O 9.a3 Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 Ng4 11.Be2 Nxe3 12.fxe3 Bg4 (Of course, now White’s backwards “e” pawn is very weak. His game hangs by thread.) 13.Qd2 Rhe8 14.Kf2! (This brave move by the King prevents a total collapse of White’s game. He might even have a slight advantage.) 14…f5 15.Rhe1 Ne5 (15…Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Qh4+ 17.Kg1 g5 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Qf2 +/-) 16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Bxg4 fxg4 18.Kg1 g3 19.h3 Qe4 20.Qe2 Rf8 21.Rf1 h5 22.Rf3 Rxf3 23.gxf3 Qf5 24.Kg2 h4 25.e4 Qf4 26.Re1 Re8 27.Qe3 g5 28.e5 Qxe3 29.Rxe3


29…Kd7 30.Re4 Re6 31.Rg4? [Thinking Black’s Rook would go to a6, and would win after 32.Rxg5 Rxa3 33.Rg7+. But a better idea is 31.d5 Rb6 32.Re2 Rb3 33.c5 Rxc3 34.e6+ Ke7 35.d6+ cxd6 (35…Ke8 36.d7+ Ke7 37.Rd2) 36.cxd6+ Kxd6 37.e7 Rc8 38.e8=Q] 31…Rb6 32.Rxg5 Rb2+ 33.Kg1 Rb1+ 34.Kg2 Rb2+ 35.Kg1 Rb1+ 1/2-1/2

A lesson from this game –  White still needs to learn this gambit.