In Da Chess Club

Chess.com is making a promotional video contest, and this is one product of the contest:

If you like to sing while watching it, here are the lyrics:
You can find me in the club, acting like a thug
baby I got what you need if you need to play some bug
I'm into playing chess, I ain't into making love
so if you wanna mate with me you know where to look me up
You can find me in the club, acting like a thug
baby I got what you need if you need to play some bug
I'm into playing chess, I ain't into making love
so if you wanna mate with me, girl, you better know your stuff

When I'm rolling on Chrome you see chess.com
I bet you think you're pretty clever when you play the poison pawn
but Grandmaster G ain't never calculated wrong
and if you put me under pressure, keep it even, cool, and calm
But homie ain't nothing changed, Rook down, Queen up
got that Bishop in the corner fianchettoed from c1
if you watch how I move you'll mistake me for Deep Blue or Fritz
but make no mistake, fool, I don't think with a chip
Like the Black King's Bishop, son, I slay in the dark
I intimidate the ex-cons that play in the park
From New York to L.A., Paris to Moscow
the plan is to put the chess game in a lockdown
and I can't be stopped now, tactics on my mind
I got three days to play so I'm taking my time
and my trophies on the mantlepiece all in a row
got my homepage loaded and we're ready to go


and it doesn't even matter what opening you choose
the Sicilian or Indian, you're always gonna lose
I will smash through your defenses with my tactical tricks
why you playing the French, when this is a blitz, fool?
it's what I'm tearing you apart for
son I elevate trash talk to an art form
cause I'm fly like a g6, Accelerated Dragon
soaring over your head, spitting flames and laughing
no break in the action, I guess it's true what they say
you can hate the player, but you can't hate the game
still it's hard to get by in a material world,
I'm a positional guy, she's a material girl
and she was sitting next to me, like "boy will you teach chess to me?"
so I showed her all the moves, she was a tasty little recipe
soon I had her begging me for three-fold repetition,
but baby we should switch up and try some new positions
'cause I'm into playing quick, I ain't into laying plans
it's a smother mate, girl, call it a "one knight stand,"
baby I can make your bedrock, basics of chess man
put my King on the g-spot, O - O exclam!
and get you horny all for me
when I sack you like my Queen as if my name was Paul Morphy
uh, I know what you find arousing,
E.L.O. rating "over 9,000!"

straight up!

yeah, you know where we be
chess.com, all day, every day
shout out to my home team
who let the bulldogs out?
yeah, we the best man,
forget Bobby Fischer, we got Bobby Hess...
That's ridiculous
alright, we're done here man
cut it. Just... cut it.

[Mad props to the people whose patience and support made this video possible. I won't denigrate your good name by listing it here, but you know who you are, and this one's for you.]


Recovering from a Loss

During my studies in the National Sports Academy we had many other subjects besides chess. Anatomy, psychology, biochemistry, sports medicine, etc. Some of them were not really related to chess, some very close to the aspect of our game. We also had many sports. And one winter day we headed towards the Vitosha mountains for a two-week ski course. I had never used skis in my life before. Nor skates nor any other sports that requires balance, and thus I was deeply worried.

The first thing that I did the first day was to fall. I was falling on every single angle, in every situation, at every occasion. People were laughing at me. But what they did not understand at this moment was that I was falling on purpose. I learned how to fall without being injured, and not to be afraid to do so. And in the remaining thirteen days I fell only one more time.

One of the first things that I now teach my students is how to fall. To attack, calculate, risk, and most of all- lose games. The earlier this fear is taken from them, the better. Those who risk will win. Draw is only half the reward, and no one remembers those games.

But that is only at the beginning. Then we start to play competitive chess, and need to face the unpleasantness of losing games. And not only to face it and to survive it, but to keep on moving after that. After all, there are still rounds to go, and one loss usually is not decisive in a tournament.

The following game was played in the penultimate round at the strong tournament in Sydney, 2010. I was leading the open with 6/7, while my opponent was half a point behind:
Bojkov,D (2505) - Zhao Zong Yuan (2592) [C00]
Sydney Int Open Parramatta AUS (8), 10.04.2010
1.e4 e6 2.d3 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.0–0 Nge7 7.Re1 d6 8.c3 e5 9.a3 a5 10.a4 0–0 11.Na3 Kh8 12.Nb5 f5 Black did not handle the opening in the bets possible way, and White has now a pleasant choice how to gain the advantage. 13.exf5!? [13.Nd2 with the idea to bring the knight to c4 and attack the pawn on d6 was also great. 13...Be6 14.Nc4 Bxc4 15.dxc4 will discover the backward pawn on d6 anyways and Black is in trouble.] 13...gxf5 14.d4!

Once that the center is opened, White will have access to the opponent's weakened camp. 14...cxd4 15.cxd4 e4 16.Ng5 h6 17.Qh5 Kg8 18.Nh3 Rf6 19.Nf4 Bd7 White is obviously better. I just need to find the best way to place my pieces. 20.Qd1 [20.Bd2!?±] 20...Nb4 21.Bd2 Kh7 22.Bf1 A critical momemnt from psychological point of view. The sportive situation at this moment could be the decisive factor. [22.Bxb4 wins a pawn, but things are far from clear after- 22...axb4 23.Qb3 Bxb5 24.axb5 Rxa1 25.Rxa1 d5 26.Qxb4 Ng6 the opposite coloured bishops give chances for a successful defence for Black.; I also realized that if I wish to make a draw I can force repetition of moves- 22.Nh5 Rg6 23.Nf4 as the rook is forced to protect the d6 pawn, Black cannot deviate. A draw would have secured me leading position before the final round, and shared first place in case of a draw against the co-leader G. Jones in the final round. However, I became greedy, and decided to win a clear first place.] 22...Nbd5 23.Nh5 Rg6 24.Nxg7 Kxg7 Now I followed the intended forced line which I have foreseen with: 25.f3? Missing the strong reply: [Both: 25.Qb3 would be solid, and better for White.; Likewise, a small edge is preserved after: 25.Rc1] 25...e3!

26.Bxe3 Nxe3 27.Rxe3 f4 Tables have turned, now it is Black who is better. I could not adjust to the situation, and lost later. 28.Re2 fxg3 29.hxg3 Rxg3+ 30.Rg2 Rxg2+ 31.Bxg2 Nf5 32.Qd2 Qf6 33.d5 Kh7 34.Rc1 Rg8 35.Rc7 Rg7 36.Qc2 Kg8! The threats Nf5–e3 or Nf5–h4 cannot be faced. 37.Rxd7 Rxd7 38.Qc8+ Qd8 39.Qxd8+ Rxd8 40.Bh3 Ne3 41.b3 Kf7 42.Be6+ Kf6 43.Kf2 Nf5 44.f4 Ng7 45.Bg4 h5 46.Be2 h4 47.Bg4 Nf5 48.Kf3 Nh6 49.Be6 Nf5 50.Kg2 b6 51.Kh3 Ng7 52.Bg4 Nf5 53.Kh2 Rg8 54.Kh3 Rg7 55.Nc3 Re7 56.Bxf5 Kxf5 57.Nb5 Kxf4 58.Nxd6 Re3+ 59.Kxh4 Rxb3 60.Nf7 Kf5 0–1

What can we say after such a painful loss? Everything seemed to be irreparable. Instead of comfortably leading, now I needed to win as Black against India’s second GM (historically) D. Barua to maximally achieve shared first place, while a loss or even a draw would put me out of the prizes.

The bridges were burned, and the only good thing about the situation was that the next round was starting earlier than usual.
Barua,D (2479) - Bojkov,D (2505) [C55]
Sydney Int Open Parramatta AUS (9), 11.04.2010
[Dejan Bojkov]
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.Bb3 d6 7.c3 Na5 8.Bc2 c5 9.a3 Nc6 10.h3 Re8 Here and on the next move, objectively best for Black is to orientate for the d6–d5 advance: [10...d5 11.b4 a6 Hoever, I wanted to keep as many pieces and pawns on the board as possible.] 11.Re1 h6 12.b4 a6 13.Nbd2 Bf8 14.Bb2 Qc7 15.d4 exd4 16.cxd4 cxb4 17.d5 Ne5 18.axb4 Bd7 Objectively speaking, White is slightly better as he controls the center. However the position now represents a kind of Benoni, and the Indian GM is a typical 1.e4 player, so I felt more confident about my future. And indeed, here he thought for a long time, and immediately comitted a mistake. 19.Qb1?! Letting the knight jump on an active position. I was expecting something like: [19.Rc1 Rac8 20.Nxe5 dxe5 21.Ba4 Qb6 (21...Qb8) 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.Bxe5 Bxa4 24.Qxa4 Bxb4 with sharp, doubled-edged position.] 19...Nh5 20.Bd3 Nxd3 21.Qxd3 Nf4 Black gained the bishop pair, but it is hard to find a plan to open them. 22.Qb3 Rac8 23.Nd4 Qd8!

Threatening with 24...Qg5. 24.N2f3 Qb6 White lacks now the resource Nd2–c4–a5. These mikro-improvements of the position will discourage my opponent and he will fall in time-trouble. 25.h4 If the knight goes back- [25.Nd2 then 25...Bb5 intending doubling of the rooks along the c file is unpleasant for White, as he cannot oppose the activity there due to the Nf4–e2(d3) thrusts.] 25...Ng6! Another sudden move backwards, but the knight has a better future on e5 and c4. It is difficult for Black to improve his pieces, for example I realized that I cannot leave the f8 square with my bishop, as well as the dangers that a possible knight implanting on f5 might bring. Here is a sample line: [25...Bb5 26.Nf5? (26.Re3 is correct with unclear game) 26...Bc4? (26...Ne2+ wins teh pawn on e4 or an exchange) 27.Qc3 Ne2+ 28.Rxe2 Bxe2 29.Nxh6+ Kh7 30.Ng5+ Kxh6 31.Qd2 I actually calculated this line, but missed the simple 26...Ne2+ win...] 26.Re3 Ne5 27.Nd2 Qd8 Forcing g2–g3, and closing the white's rook access to g3. 28.g3 Qb6 Now we can return to our main plan-doubling of the rooks on the c file, Bd7–b5, and penetration along the c file either to gain absolute control over the second rank, or to attack the pawns on the fourth. 29.Kg2 Bb5 30.Nxb5 Qxb5 31.Ra5 Qb6 32.Ra4 Ng4 33.Rf3 [33.Re2 Qb5 34.Re1 Be7 with the idea Be7–d8–b6.] 33...Qb5 34.Ra5 Qe2 35.Qd3 Qxd3 36.Rxd3 Rc2 37.Ba1 After the game Barua named the move "probably a decisive mistake". In severe time-trouble he was trying to keep his pieces intact, but it looks like that the move: [37.Bd4 was giving more chances for salvation- 37...f5 38.exf5 Re2 39.Nf1 a) 39.Nf3 Nxf2 40.Bxf2 Rxf2+ 41.Kh3 h5 (41...Be7!?) ; b) 39.Kf3? Rexd2 40.Rxd2 Rxd2 the bishop is hanging; 39...Nxf2 40.Re3 Nd3+ 41.Rxe2 Rxe2+ 42.Kf3 Re1 43.Ne3 Rb1 44.Ke2 Nxb4 with an extra pawn for Black, although white's active pieces still keep the game going.] 37...f5! 38.exf5 h5 39.Kf3 g6! The point in the combination, which I noticed after a thorough check of my initial idea. I could still gone badly wrong after: [39...Nh2+ 40.Kf4 (40.Kg2 Re2 41.Kxh2 Rxf2+ 42.Kh3 Rfxd2 43.Rxd2 Rxd2 should be lost for White, as his pieces are discoordinated, he lacks the resource b4–b5 due to Rd2xd5 and last but not least, I am threatening Bf8–e7–d8 with decisive effect.) 40...g6 But just in time I saw the amazing position: 41.Kg5 Rxd2 42.Rxd2 Nf3+ 43.Kxg6 Nxd2 44.f6

and despite the extra piece I can resign as there is no defense against f6–f7 mate!] 40.fxg6 [40.f6 Bh6 41.Bc3 Bxd2 42.Bxd2 Ne5+–+] 40...Bh6 At the price of two pawns I activated all my pieces, and White is helpless. 41.Bc3 Barua saw the refutation of the line: [41.Ne4 Rxe4 42.Kxe4 Nxf2+ 43.Kd4 b5! with inevitable mate on c4.] 41...Rf8+ 42.Ke2 Rxf2+ 43.Kd1 Rxc3 44.Rxc3 Bxd2 0–1

It ended well after all. Two things helped me to recover quickly from the loss. First of all, between the games there was not much time for being sorry for myself. The last round was starting early in the morning after the tough defeat, and I was busy mainly to prepare for the final game. In chess there is no if, but only tomorrow (preparation) and now (over the board).
The second thing was that a draw and a loss in the final round were practically equal from a financial point of you, and I did not have doubts about whether I needed to play for a win, or for a draw. The award for the final effort was not only the gold medal, but the shared money prize.
Another important case: we can also lose a game earlier in the event, and we still need to recover after. This is harder, and I can only share my own ideas for this case.
First of all, do not analyse deeply the game that you lost! There is no need to discover how poorly you have played, and to feel bad about your chess. You are already shaky enough anyways. (The other possibility is that you discover how ingeniously you have played, and how stupidly, and unfairly you have lost- that is also a bad variation- in this case your mind keeps on coming back to the position in which you made the mistake, and distracts you during the future games!) You will have a lot of time to analyse your mistakes when you come back home, and you will do it in a more objective way. You need only to have a brief look at the game, as you might have lost it in the opening due to a lack of knowledge. Then the line should be repaired/learned in order not to lose in the same scenario afterwards (this might be really silly).
Secondly, try to relax. Do it in your prefered way- go out for a walk, read a nice (positive!) book, see a nice (preferably comedy!) movie, or just something that will not keep you returning to the lost game: take a hot shower, a bath, meet friends and have some drinks (but do not get drunk-this is definitely not the solution- you need to be sober tomorrow), visit the gym, listen to your favourite music. You know yourself best, you will decide what will make you feel good.
Third- postpone the preparation for tomorrow. You do not want to see the pieces when you are nervous, and you will have enough time tomorrow.
Last, but not least- if you have lost faith in yourself and your abilities- have a look at your best games. You will see that you can play better than in the game that you have lost, and that you are still a good player, despite the msitakes that you made, make and will make in the future. After all, we are all mortals.
Once your equanimity is restored, you can play in your usual way. Losses are still possible, but wins, too. What is sure is that you will give the best of yourself when you are balanced, and optimistic, and success will come.
Good luck!


Chenyi in Brazil

My youngest student Chenyi Zhao from USA has just completed her first World Championship in Brazil. Chenyi does not yet know what the word draw means (which is great), and the finished on (+6-3) score, and tied for the sixth place at the under 8 age group. It is not bad at all for a first appearance on such a chess forum, and I hope that better performances are waiting for her.
I consider the following game her best effort from the event, as it was not decided by any huge blunder. Chenyi simply outplayed her opponent in the positional maneuvering:
Nadia Esmeralda Schmidt (RSA) - Chenyi Zhao (USA) [A04]
World Youth Chess Championship (girls U8 Caldas Novas, Brazil (4), 20.11.2011
1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.d3 d6 5.0–0 Nf6 6.Nbd2 0–0 7.e4 Nc6 8.c3 Ne8 Chenyi memorized this idea from an earlier session of ours, and eventhough the white pawn does not stand on c4, and the d4 square is covered, the idea is still good. 9.Qc2 Nc7 10.Re1 e6 11.Nb3 b6 12.Bg5 Qd7 13.Bf4 Bb7 14.Nbd2 Rfe8

[14...e5 immediately was also possible, but Chenyi wants to have everything ready before advancing the central pawns.] 15.Nc4 e5 16.Be3 d5! Black is already better. The central pawns came into motion, and freed te pieces from behind. 17.Ncd2? d4 18.Bg5 Ne6 Consistently playing in the center, although she could have paid attention to the limited bishop instead: [18...h6 19.Bh4 g5 and trap it :) Next time I am pretty sure she will not miss this opportunity.] 19.Bh3 Qd6 20.Nc4 Qc7 21.a3 Nxg5 22.Nxg5 h6 23.Nf3 dxc3 24.bxc3 Rad8 25.Bg2 Rd7 26.Bh3 Rdd8 27.Bg2 Re7

As she does not yet know the meaning of the word "draw"and she is better, Chenyi decided to play further for a win. 28.Bh3 b5 29.Ncd2 Bc8 Freeing the d7 square for the rook, to double them, and attack the backward pawn. From now on many grandmasters would not be shy choosing the way in which my young student handled the position. 30.Bg2 Red7 31.Bf1 a5! 32.Nb3 Qb6 33.Nc1 b4!

Black is playing for the d4 square! We have never studied this idea before, nor does Chenyi play the Open games as Black, but she intuitively found the best plan! 34.Rd1 bxc3 35.Qxc3 Nd4 36.Ne1 Rb7 Seizes the open file. 37.Nc2 Nxc2 38.Qxc2 Qb2 39.Qxb2 Rxb2 The "pig"is on the second rank, and is really hungry. 40.Na2 Ba6 41.Nc1 c4 42.Kg2 c3 43.Kg1 Once more, Chenyi has a chance to show excellent understanding of the position: 43...Bf8!

and improve her last sleeping piece. It is not everyday that you will see an seven-year-old girl to step backwards in order to attack! The rest was easy for her. 44.Re1 Bc5 45.Rd1 Bxf2+ 46.Kh1 Bb5 47.Ra2 Ba4 48.Rxb2 cxb2 49.Na2 Bxd1 50.Nc3 Bf3+ 51.Bg2 Bxg2+ 52.Kxg2 Bd4 53.Nb1 Rc8 54.Kf3 Rc1 55.Nd2 b1Q 56.Nxb1 Rxb1 57.Kg4 h5+ 58.Kg5 Be3+ 59.Kf6 Bd4 60.h3 Ra1 61.g4 hxg4 62.hxg4 Rxa3 63.g5 Rc3 64.Ke7 a4 65.Kf6 a3 66.Ke7 a2 67.Kf6 a1Q 68.Ke7 Qa6 69.Ke8 Rc7 70.Kd8 Qc8# 0–1
Thank you, Cathy for the picture of Chenyi below:


The Half-Open File

Not all of my games in Serbia were missed chances. This one was a good example of how to make use of a half-open file:

Vratonjic - Bojkov
1 Central Serbian League 06.10.2011
[Dejan ,Bojkov]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5!? It seems like that if you want to play for a win in the Italian this bishop should be placed as actively as possible right from the start! 5.c3 a6 6.Bb3 Ba7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Re1 d6 9.h3 Ne7 10.Bg5?! Somewhat too optimistic. The natural reaction was: [10.Nbd2] 10...Ng6 11.Nh4

This move was accompanied with a draw offer. However, our team needed to win on all the boards, and short draws were unacceptable. 11...Kh8! [Not: 11...Nxh4 12.Bxh4] 12.Nd2 White cannot make use of his active pieces: [12.Qf3 h6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Qxf6 gxf6 15.Nxg6+ (15.Nf5 Bxf5 16.exf5 Nh4 17.g4? Nf3+–+) 15...fxg6; 12.Nf5 h6 13.Be3 Bxf5 14.exf5 Nh4; 12.d4 h6 13.Nxg6+ fxg6 14.dxe5 dxe5 Even better is: (14...hxg5! 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.Kh1 g4! with decisive attack.) 15.Be3 (15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Be3) 15...Qxd1 16.Bxd1 Bxe3 17.Rxe3 Rd8 18.Bb3 b5і] 12...h6 13.Nxg6+ [Again, tactics fails for White- 13.Bxf7? Rxf7 14.Nxg6+ Kh7 15.Bxf6 Qxf6] 13...fxg6 14.Be3 Nh5

Black is not at least equal. the half open f file, and the beautiful f4 square for the knight are his main assets. [14...Bxe3 15.fxe3] 15.Bxa7 [White should better play in the center with: 15.d4 Although he needs to be careful with his aggressive intentions: 15...Nf4 16.Bxf4 (16.Nf3 g5 with the idea to meet 17.dxe5 g4!) 16...Rxf4 17.Nf3 Qf6 18.dxe5? dxe5 19.Qd5 Bxh3 20.Qxb7 Rf8 21.Qxa7 Rxf3 22.Re2 Bxg2 23.Kxg2 Qg5+ 24.Kf1 Rh3] 15...Rxa7 16.Re3 Nf4 17.Qf1 A solid defence. [17.Nf3 g5 18.Nh2 Qf6 is better for Black] 17...Qf6 18.Bd1 [18.Rd1 Ra8 19.Nf3 g5] 18...Ra8 19.Rg3 [It is too early for: 19.Bg4 Bxg4 20.hxg4 Qe6 with large advantage for Black.] 19...Rf7 20.Bg4?! [20.Bb3!? would be a better version of the bishop trade.] 20...Bxg4 21.Rxg4 Raf8

There are some issues with the rook, as it might get easily get excluded from the game. 22.Rg3 g5 23.Nc4 Qe6 24.Qd1 The pressure against the white position grows. [24.Ne3 Nh5 25.Rg4 Rxf2 26.Qxf2 Rxf2 27.Kxf2 Nf4–+; 24.Re3 g4!] 24...g6 25.Re3 b5! Before sacrificing, I decided that the knight would be best placed on d2! [25...Nxg2 26.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 27.Kh1 (27.Kg3 h5) 27...Qf6 28.Rg3 (28.Qg1 is also possible and there is no knight hanging on d2.) ] 26.Nd2 [26.Na5 Nxg2 27.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 28.Kg1 Qf7 will leave the knight too far away! While now, it is hanging on d2.] 26...Nxg2!

27.Kxg2 Rxf2+ 28.Kg1 This makes things easier for Black. [28.Kg3 h5 29.Nf3 (29.Rf3 R8xf3+ 30.Nxf3 Rxb2–+) 29...Rxb2 would not help neither.; However, after the best defence: 28.Kh1 Qf6 29.Re2 (29.Rg3 Qf4) 29...g4 30.Rxf2 Qxf2 31.Qxg4 (31.Qf1 Kg7 32.Qxf2 Rxf2 33.Nf1 gxh3µ; 31.hxg4 Qh4+ 32.Kg1 Qg3+ 33.Kh1 Rf2) 31...Qxd2 32.Qxg6 Qe3 Black is better but he still has to prove his win] 28...Qf6 29.Re2 [29.Nf1 g4 30.hxg4 Qh4] 29...g4! It is over. 30.Kh1 [30.Nf1 Qf3 31.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 32.Kh1 Rf3; 30.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 31.Kh1 g3; 30.hxg4 Qh4 31.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 32.Kh1 Qh4+ 33.Kg1 Rf4 34.Qe2 Rxg4+ 35.Kf1 Qh1+ 36.Kf2 Rg2+ (36...Qh2+) ] 30...Qh4 31.Rxf2 Rxf2 32.Qxg4 Qxg4 33.hxg4 Rxd2 34.a4 Kg7

35.g5 hxg5 36.axb5 axb5 37.Ra7 Rxd3 38.Rxc7+ Kf6 39.Rb7 Rd1+ 40.Kg2 Rd2+ 41.Kf3 Rxb2 42.Rd7 [42.c4 Rb3+ 43.Kg4 bxc4 and White cannot sacrifice his rook for stalemate.] 42...Ke6 43.Rg7 Rb3 44.Rxg6+ Kd7 45.Rxg5 Rxc3+ 46.Ke2 Kc6 47.Kd2 Rh3 0–1


The Missed Masterpiece

The following game was played in the Central Serbian League.
Mista,Aleksander (2561) - Bojkov,Dejan (2541) [A24]
1st League CS 2011 Kraljevo (5.3), 20.09.2011
[Dejan ,Bojkov]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 A small surprise. Mista played this move more often in the Serbian League, but he usually choses the open games. 2...g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0–0 5.0–0 d6 6.Nc3 e5 7.d3 Nbd7 A flexible continuation. [The main move is: 7...Nc6] 8.Rb1 Re8 9.Nd2 In case of: [9.b4 Black can react with: 9...e4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.dxe4 Rxe4 12.Qd3 (12.Nd2 Re8 13.Bb2 Nf6 14.e4 1/2 (14) Pfleger,H (2490)-Hausner,I (2435) Germany 1988) 12...Qe7] 9...a5 10.a3 h5N

This move appeared to be an over-the-board novelty. Larsen would love to see that. First a7–a5, then h7–h5. However, while the first move was designed to make the rook work from its initial position, the latter intends to start the real play on "my own flank". [10...Nh5?! is somewhat slow, and the advance of the f pawn will weaken the light squares in the center.] 11.b4 axb4 12.axb4 h4 13.Nde4 [Probably better was to finish the development of the pieces- 13.Bb2]

13...Nh7! Now f7–f5 is coming with tempo, and the knights are obstructing each other. The Polish GM tries to support them tactically. 14.Qd2?! Ndf8 [14...f5 White's idea is dicovered in the line: 15.Ng5 Bh6? 16.Bd5+ Kg7 (16...Kh8 17.Nf7+) 17.Ne6++–] 15.c5 Be6?! Misses a small detail. [I somehow missed that in the line: 15...d5 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Nf6+ Nxf6 18.Bxd5 Nxd5 Black takes three (and not two!) pieces for the queen. Despite what the computer says, I would love to have the pieces here.; 15...h3!? was another decent option. 16.Bh1 Be6 17.cxd6 cxd6] 16.cxd6 cxd6 17.gxh4! This is it, White can take the pawn, and make use of the g5 square. 17...d5 [17...Qxh4 18.Nxd6 Bh3 19.Bxh3 Qxh3 20.Nxe8 Qg4+ 21.Kh1+–; 17...f5? 18.Ng5] 18.Ng5

White returns the favour. He could have achieved some edge with: [18.Nc5 d4 19.Nb5! Not: (19.N3e4 Bd5; nor: 19.Nxb7? dxc3 20.Nxd8 cxd2 21.Nxe6 dxc1Q 22.Rfxc1 Nxe6 23.Bxa8 Rxa8 is much better for Black) 19...Qb6 20.Na3!] 18...d4 19.Nce4 [19.Nxe6? dxc3] 19...Bd5 Now the centralized position of the black pieces compensates with interest for the lost pawn. 20.f4 [20.h5 gxh5] 20...f5 21.Ng3 [21.Nc5 Bxg2 22.Kxg2 exf4 23.Qxf4 Rxe2+ is just bad for White.] 21...Bxg2 22.Kxg2 Qd5+ 23.Kg1 Nxg5! 24.hxg5 Ne6 25.fxe5 [Or: 25.Qe1 Ra2!? (25...Nxf4 26.Bxf4 exf4 27.Rxf4 Be5 with powerful centralization.) ] 25...Bxe5 The centralized position of the black pieces allows him to play on both flanks. At the moment, a decisive attack is on the agenda. 26.Qd1 [26.Qe1 Ra2] 26...Ra2 Prevents Qd1–b3. However, some consistency would not harm: [26...Kg7 27.Qb3 (27.Bb2 Nxg5) 27...Qd6 28.Rf3 Rh8 29.b5 Rh4 and Black's advantage is overwhelming.] 27.Rf2 [27.Qb3 Qxb3 28.Rxb3 Bxg3 29.hxg3 Rxe2 takes back the pawn with comfort.] 27...Rc8 28.Nf1 The culmination of the battle. I had to decide which rook to place on c2. The logic showed that it should be the less active one, but... 28...Rac2? One wrong move and a good game is thrown away. After the correct: [28...Rcc2! The game might have finished with a beautiful attack: 29.h4 would not help neither, as White has practially nothing to move. (29.e4 dxe3! 30.Rxc2 White is also getting mated after: (30.Nxe3 Rxf2 31.Nxd5 Rg2+ 32.Kf1 Rxh2 33.Kg1 Rag2+ 34.Kf1 Rf2+ 35.Kg1 Bd4 36.Be3 Bxe3 37.Nxe3 Nxg5) 30...Nxg5!

and despite the extra move (and rook!) White cannot prevent mate! 31.Ng3 (31.Nxe3 Nh3+ 32.Kf1 Qh1+ 33.Ke2 Qxh2+ 34.Kf3 (34.Ke1 Bc3+ 35.Kf1 Qf2+ 36.Rxf2 Rxf2#) 34...Qf2+ 35.Rxf2 Rxf2#) 31...Nh3+ 32.Kf1 Rxc2 33.Qxc2 Qf3+ 34.Ke1 Bxg3+ 35.hxg3 Qxg3+ 36.Kd1 Qg1+ 37.Ke2 Qf2+ 38.Kd1 Qf1#) 29...Qc6 There is a more prosaic way to end the game- (29...Qd6 30.Ra1 Rxa1 31.Qxc2 Qc6 32.Qxc6 bxc6 33.Bd2 Bg3 34.Rf3 Bxh4 35.Rh3 Be1 36.Bxe1 Rxe1–+) 30.Qe1 Bf4! 31.Bxf4 Nxf4 32.Rxf4 Rxe2–+] 29.e4 Qa2 30.Rb2! The story as old as the chess game. I saw that one only after I have played Ra2–c2. My hopes were pinned with: [30.Rxc2 Rxc2 31.Bd2 fxe4 32.dxe4 d3 with almost decisive advantage.] 30...Rxb2?! My frustration was that bad, that I did not put up strong resistance: [30...Rxc1 31.Qxc1 Rxc1 32.Rxa2 Nxg5 33.Kg2 fxe4 (33...Ne6! 34.exf5 Nf4+ 35.Kf3 (35.Rxf4 Bxf4 36.fxg6 Kg7) 35...Nxd3 36.Rfd2 Nxb4 37.Rab2 Rxf1+ 38.Kg2 Rxf5 39.Rxb4=) 34.Ra5 Nf3 35.dxe4 Ne1+ 36.Kg1 Bc7 37.Rc5 Rc3] 31.Rxb2 Qa1 32.Qb3! [Much better than: 32.Rc2 Rxc2 33.Qxc2 Qc3!] 32...Qa6 [32...Rxc1 33.Qxe6+ Kh7 34.Rf2+–] 33.exf5 gxf5 34.Re2 Qd6 And it is White's turn to be flashy, which he does not miss: 35.Bf4!

After this game the Polish GM achieved three move wins to start with the fabulous 8/8![35.Bf4 Bxf4 36.Rxe6 Rc3 37.Re8+ Kg7 38.Qg8#] 1–0


The Most Progressive Scottish Player

I always wanted to write something about my students, the people that I am very proud of. This one is dedicated to Dominic O'Rourke. We started working some months ago, and the fruit of our efforts (mainly Dom's efforts of course)was the fact that he became Scotland's most progressive player. His rating at the start was 1356 and at some months later it was 1795. I'll save you from getting a calculator and tell you the rise was 439 points! Great job for a half year job. If you keep on progressing that fast, Dom, I will have to take the lessons from you very soon!
I would like to present you one of his games, annotated by himself:

O'Rourke,Dominic (1356) - Kleboe,James P R (1797) [B13]
Edinburgh Challengers U1900 (5), 03.04.2011
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 I watched a lecture and thought I would try this system as it seemed easy to play. 4...Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bg4 7.Qb3 Qd7 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 a6 10.a4

Takes space and makes b5 more difficult if black ever wants to play it. Rybka suggests Ne5 immediately. 10...Be7 11.0–0 0–0 12.Rae1 I considered Rfe1 but I thought as my play is on the kingside this would be better. 12...Rac8 13.Ne5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nh5 The position of the black Knight and Bishop seems cramped and I thought he could potentially lose a piece after h3 g4 or at least force a weakening of his kingside 15.Be3 g6 He said to me after the game he thought he should have played g5!? which could have been interesting after [15...g5 16.h3 Bf5 17.Bxf5 exf5 It seems like more of a fight to me] 16.h3 Bf5 17.Bxf5 [17.Be2 d4 18.Bh6 Ng7] 17...gxf5 [17...exf5 Play against d5 pawn but this is the suggested route for black by Rybka] 18.Qd1

I liked this move:) 18...Ng7 19.Bh6 Qd8 I knew his next move was Bg5 and I thought for at least 35mins trying to find a knockout blow but eventually settled for the move I initially intended 20.Re3 Bg5 21.Bxg5 Qxg5 22.Rg3 Qh6 [22...Qf4] 23.f4 Kh8 24.Rg5 f6 25.exf6 Rxf6? Keeps the Queen in a poor position [25...Qxf6 Things don't seem bad for black] 26.Nf3 Rc4 I was a little worried about 26 ..Nh5 but didn't have to be according to Rybka [26...Nh5 27.Qd4 Rc4 28.Rxh5 Qxh5 (28...Rxd4 29.Rxh6 Rxh6 30.Nxd4) 29.Qxf6+] 27.Nd4 Rg6 28.Rxg6 [28.Qb3 Rxg5 29.fxg5 Qxg5 30.Qxb7] 28...Qxg6 29.Qb3

Starting play against the weak pawns b7 and e6 29...Qf7 30.Re1 Qd7 31.a5 b7 is weak forever and the black knight is tied to defence of e6 31...Kg8 Trying to bring the King to defend e6 but there was a surprise for him if he steps on f7 32.Qb6 Kf7 33.Nf3! He cannot move two pieces at once so loses the exchange 33...Qc8 34.Ne5+ Kf6 35.Nxc4 [35.Qf2! I could never have found this move 35...Ke7 36.Qh4+ Ke8 37.Qxh7] 35...dxc4 36.Qd4+ Kf7 37.Rd1 Kg6 38.Kh1 I assume I ed to exchange Queens and didn't want to allow Qc5+ as a way to avoid this 38...Nh5 39.Qd8 I knew in my heart Qd7 was better but Qd8 forced the Queen trade and even though I am still winning I thought Qd7 allowed some lines without the Queen trade [39.Qd7] 39...Qxd8 40.Rxd8 Nxf4 41.Rd7 e5 42.Rxb7 e4 43.Rb6+ Kf7 It's over but if he is hoping to fight on the King had to come forward 44.Kg1

I was not in a hurry and knew I only had to get the King to f1 44...Nd3 45.Kf1 f4 46.Rxa6 Nxb2 47.Rc6 Nd1 48.a6 f3 49.gxf3 1–0


Thank you!

The Sunday chess.com simuls were made on a very short notice, and without much publicity. The time was short, but many people appeared to take part in the fundraisers, and gave their part for the successful recovery of Rumen Raev. I would like especially to thank the players Bishopsun, FinnJespen, Tonymbird, dmorris99, tresequis, HristoProtos and caminator. There is a separate gratitude to Nassredin, who not only took part in both the simuls, but contributed additionally with extra funds.
I hope that you liked the simultanious games (I loved them) and some of them were really fightful and interesting.
I would like also to thank to all of those players who contributes annonimously for the noble cause of saving another human being!
I would also like to thank to those who did not have this possibility, but wished to do so!
Mr. Raev's condition is still critical, but I hope that he can make it, and that some time soon he will be able to thank you all personally!


Appeal for Help

Dear Chessfriends,

After my first post a couple of days ago for chess.com many things were said (I hope that some were done, too). One of the readers pointed out correctly, that something should be changed in the post, and he was completely right.

In order to avoid any suspicious for fraud (no matter how ugly this sounds) I will suggest that those of you willing to help Elitza's father can take part in one of my simuls which will take place this Sunday 20.00 and 22.00 o'clock Bulgarian time (which is 18.00 and 20.00 o'clock London time respectively) on the server. There are twenty five spots in each of them, and the place costs 20 $. The money goes directly to the www.chess.com account , and www.chess.com takes the reponsibility to send the funds where they belong- for Mr Raev's treatment. By helping you will aslo get something in return, a game with a GM in a simul. The time control for each simul is 60 minutes (per side) for the whole game. I am pretty sure that you will not be bored.

You can apply for the product here.

David Pruess has added the products in my trainer's profile, with an inscription about them- just have a look at the last two of them, and choose one if you want to contribute. David and Danny Rensch are actively helping me with the fund-raising, with positive ideas, and human support, which can hardly be found anywhere else. Thank you, guys!

In order to reply to one of the readers question concerning the illness- it is lung cancer with metastases and the whole course of the treatment is at the price of 30 000 euro (not only the operation which should deal with the metastases, which I wrote- appologies for the mistake).

The person who needs treatment is the father of one of our best female players-Elitza Raeva- Rumen Raev. He used to be a member of the Bulgarian Chess Federation executive board, and Elitza is Bulgarian women's champion 2008, and co-champion from this year.
Rumen Raev is an assistant professor at the University of Ruse by occupation.

This is all that I can think of at the moment.

I hope to see many of you on Sunday, and thank you all in advance!


Metalac Successful in Serbia

First League of central Serbia took place right before the European Club Cup (17-25 September) in Kraljevo- one of the nice towns in the country. Twelve teams competed for the right to promote in Premier League, or to stay in the Central one. The time control is FIDE, and in there is a tolerance of fifteen minutes at the start of the game.
This was by far the strongest and challenging of the championship that I have played so far. At least four from the teams had real chances for the first place, and their direct encounters were bound to define the winner. The first match between the rating favourites Jasenica (my team) and Jelica PEP was played in round five. This was probably one of the unluckiest events I have ever taken part in. Not only I lost my winning game on board one, but my teammate Nebojsa Ristic could not convert an extra pawn, and at the end, the experienced GM Dusan (Dule) Raikovic failed to see a forced draw in one move and the match was tight. We then lost to the local team and elo favourite Sloga Kraljevo with a minimal margin, and our contest for the first place was over.
As usual, the system in Serbia is a match-point one, with three points for the overall match winner, and only a point for each team in case of equality. While previous years saw many undecided matches practically before the start of the round, this year’s cruel contest was forcing the top teams to get the maximum in each round. Moreover, the rumours spelled that the second spot in our division might satisfy this year too for promotion, as one of the Premier’s teams might not be able to keep its place in the league officially.

While Jelica were heading the table, everything seemed like it should be perfect for them. Their leader, the Polish GM Alexander Mista was making miracles on board one, and in the first eight rounds he did not lose even a half point- 8/8! The team’s young players were doing well, but there was the major match in the penultimate round against Kraljevo, which they need to survive. However, just a round before that their perfect machine cracked, as Mista lost on board one, and the team drew only against Sabacki. The tension then proved a bit too much for the young team, and they lost against Kraljevo 4-2. The locals were playing under tremendous pressure, and in each round a huge mass of chess fans was surrounding their table. In our match I was literally unable to record the moves in some moments, as the fans were so close to the table…Still Kraljevo made a great result, drawing only one match, and losing to…
The fourth team in the contest, which I did not mention yet, and which was the most successful one. For many years the even team of Metalac was always in the contest for the medals, and was usually taking either bronze or silver. They have changed the composition of the team almost every year, but keeping their good players. Their team constitutes by strong IMs mainly, and the highest rated were sent to the back boards. This year they made it to the most valuable base metal thanks to these changes. The top board IM Slobo Vratonic held it to the fifty percent, while the rest of the boards collected a total of +21 score. The top scorer was Metalac’s ex-top board IM Dragan Kojovic, who started with five draws, but won the remaining six games, but I should also mention the results of FM Vladan Rabrenovic on board three (7/10), IM Igor Solomunovic on board two (7.5/11- one draw only!), and naturally, Metalac’s most famous player IM Radovan Govedarica who scored 7/10.
Thus Metalac qualified for the Premium League, while Kraljevo who shared the first place, but had worse tie-break will have to wait and see if the rumours are correct.
I am sending you pictures from “Pasuliada”- the bean feast in Kraljevo, which showed us various ways how to cook, and eat beans, as well as a chance to degustate the local’s famous Rakia.


Brilliancy Price

The following game won one of the daily brilliancy prices contest, and was chosen as best in the tournament. Indeed, there was a lot of fight, many strategical nuances, and a sweet finish as a dessert.

Amanov,Zhanibek (2382) - Bojkov,Dejan (2544) [E61]
1st Metropolitan International Los Angeles (7), 20.08.2011
[Dejan Bojkov]
1.c4 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nc3 0–0 5.e3 d6 6.Nge2 e5 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.d4 Re8 9.b3 h5 10.h3 e4 I play this position as White, and even though a tempo down, the ideas are very familiar to me. 11.Qc2 Qe7

12.g4!?N This move appears to be a novelty in the the featured position. However, with reversed colours the idea is not new. White wants to get rid of the strong pawn on e4, but the problem is that he had already castled. [12.Nf4 c6 13.b4 Nf8 14.c5 d5 15.b5 1/2 (15) Wahls,M (2580)-Joachim,S (2443)/Germany 2001/ EXT 2003] 12...hxg4 13.hxg4 Nxg4 14.Qxe4 Qh4!? [14...Nde5!? is another idea as: 15.dxe5? is bad after: (15.Rd1 is playable though.) 15...Qh4 16.Qf4 Bxe5–+] 15.Qf4 he only move. [Do not listen to your silicon advisers, who claim that there is a forced draw- accepting the sacrifice is bad for White: 15.Qxe8+ Bf8! 16.Rd1 Qxf2+ 17.Kh1 Ndf6 18.Qd8 (18.Qb5 Bh6–+) 18...Bf5! (18...b5 might win as well) 19.Qxa8 Ne4 20.Nxe4 Bxe4 21.Nf4 Qg3 22.Kg1

22...g5 and White is helpless.] 15...Nf8 [At first I considered: 15...Ndf6 16.Qg3 Qh8!? 17.Rd1 but then realized that: 17...Nh5 is simply met by: 18.Qf3] 16.Qg3 Qd8 [From objective point of view correct is: 16...Qxg3 17.Nxg3 f5 with approximate equality. However, I wanted to keep the queens on the board, and to try to win.] 17.Bf3! This is correct, White drives back my pieces from the active positions and gives additional air to his king. 17...Nf6 18.Kg2 N6h7 19.Rh1 [The generally advisable expansion in the center is premature: 19.e4?! Ne6 20.Rd1 c5!] 19...Ng5 20.Bg4 c6 [Going for the bishop seemed risky to me: 20...f5 21.Bf3 Nxf3 (21...c6 22.Ba3 with an edge) 22.Qxf3 as the g6 pawn is vulnerable, and once that the b1–g8 diagonal is opened my king will be in constant danger.] 21.Bd2

Simple but dangerous. Zhanibek intends to bring his heavy pieces along the h and maybe g files and try to mate. [Computer claims slight edge for White after: 21.Bxc8!? Rxc8 22.Ba3 d5 23.cxd5 cxd5 24.Qd6 Ne4 25.Qxd8 Rexd8 26.Nxe4 dxe4 27.Rac1 but I do not really believe it. Something similar will happen in the game, but White first wants to try an attack.] 21...d5! Flank attack is best met by a central counter-strike, and here is a good case for this. 22.cxd5 [Or: 22.Rh2 f5 23.Bf3 dxc4 24.bxc4 Be6 25.c5 Nxf3 26.Qxf3 Qc7 and Black is ready to further ruin White's center after b7–b6.] 22...cxd5 Now the c file is open and I can deflect the opponent's pieces. 23.Bxc8 [Better than: 23.Rh4 Ne4 24.Nxe4 Rxe4!] 23...Rxc8 24.Rh4 Ne4 25.Nxe4 Rxe4 26.Rxe4 dxe4 27.Nc3 White managed to move the black pawn on e4, where it is a target. Now f7–f5 is needed for the defense, but this weakens the g6 pawn. In short, the position is ballanced, but we both need to be careful. [White is not ready yet to compete for the open file: 27.Rc1 Rxc1 28.Nxc1 Qc8] 27...f5 28.Rh1 [28.Rc1!?=] 28...a6 29.Be1!?

Setting a trap. 29...Kf7 Best, as if: [29...b5 30.Ne2 Rc2 31.Nf4 Kf7 32.Bb4! is strong and suddenly Black is in trouble.] 30.Na4 [30.f3!?] 30...Ne6 31.d5? Zhanibek decided to go "all in" in the time trouble. However now the knight on a4 is left without sufficient support and the intended counterplay is refuted convincingly. [31.Nc3 is best although Black is already better after 31... Ng5] 31...Nf8 32.Bb4 b5 33.Bxf8 [33.Nc5 Qxd5 34.Nxa6 Ne6 leaves the knight struggling at the edge of the board.] 33...Bxf8 34.Rh7+ Bg7 35.Qe5 Qg5+ 36.Kh2

36...Qh5+! He obviously saw this but calculated only the capture of the white rook after: 37.Kg2 [37.Rxh5 Bxe5+] 37...Qf3+ [After: 37...Qxh7? 38.Qe6+ Kf8 39.Qxc8+ Kf7 40.Qe6+ Kf8 41.Nc5 it is White who wins.; Wheras after the move in the game we have the opposite result. 37...Qf3+ 38.Kh2 Qxf2+ 39.Kh3 Qf1+ 40.Kh4 Qh1+ 41.Kg3 Qf3+ 42.Kh2 Rc2+] 0–1


The L.A International

One of my first tournaments on American soil was the Jimmy Quon Memorial in Los Angeles. It was back then in January when Ankit Gupta invited me for the first Metropolitan International in August. Ankit is a decent chess player, a national master who sometimes takes part in his own events. Invitations for tournaments with conditions are very rare in USA and a friend of mine advised me to always accept such offers. Moreover, Ankit had great plans, and I already knew that he keeps his promises. Back in January it was already known that the top-seeded will be Michael Adams and Loek van Wely.

The Metropolitan Inernational (17-21 August) was predecessed by a chess camp. The organizer Ankit Gupta seized the opportunity to use both Michael Adams and Loek van Wely as lecturers in a five-day-event, which was attended by 34 children, some of the most talanted in the area. On the first day of the tournament when seeing Adams I asked him how did the camp go. „Oh, it was tough, really tough, I feel so exhausted now.“ Indeed, the intensitivity of the learning process was great, and the young chessplayers had approximately eight hours tutoring each day. Some of them felt already quite comfortable with their knowledge and did not pay much respect to their famous teachers. One of the days saw two young gentlemen analizing their game without paying attention to Adams‘ tries to suggest a move. „This is correct, that is the theory“, was their reply, and they proceeded the analyse without bothering to have a look at Grandmaster‘s suggestions...Still, The English GM was luckier than his Netherland‘s collegue-who was demanded by one of his students to show his GM certificate...

1st Metropolitan International Tournament - Day 1 from Ice Hat Creative on Vimeo.

After such a good school it is no wonder that Adams appeared fully armed, and quite eager at the start of the event. The speed with which he passed the first six round was also too fast for the others- 5.5/6 (draw against Van Wely only). His closest pursuer was the Uzbec GM Gareev, who had a strong tournament by defeating in the process both Akobian and Van Wely (the latter, in a minuature). After drawing each other in round seven, a very curious situation arose in the next round, when Adams had already played with all his five nearest rivals. I had the luck to repeat Black and face the Super GM. Such opportunities in life are very rare, and I am really grateful whenever I can face an opposition of that calibre. Moreover, the outcome was not as bad as expected :)
Going into the last round Adams kept a half-point lead. After a couple of hours of play the games of his pursuers on boards two and three ended peacefully, and now he only needed a draw (with the black pieces) to secure the first price, and the beautiful Svarowsky trophee. On the other hand his rival, IM Hungasky desperately needed a win to fulfil a GM norm. The Englishman proved better and won with a neat rook sacrifice to finish the event a full point ahead of the field 7.5/9.
Second place was shared between six players- GMs L. van Wely, M.Amanov, R.Ruck, T.Gareev, D.Bojkov and the young and perspective American IM Conrad Holt. The latter was very close to a GM norm, but failed short of avarage rating. Thus, the only player a norm was Michael Lee from Washington- he made an IM norm after scoring 5.5/9, and by keeping his concentration throughout the whole event thanks to his headphones.
It was a tough, but sweet week for Adams, and it will get even worse as the World Cup starts in some days. It was not supposed to happen like that, but as FIDE changed the dates of the Cup once that the Super-GM already agreed to play in L.A. he had no choice. A curious fact is that Adams will play in round one against M. Paragua, a player who was also in the list of the Metropolitan International, but who decided to rest before the more important event.

1st Metropolitan International - Recap from Ice Hat Creative on Vimeo.

The change of dates affected one of Gupta‘s ideas. Throughout the event there was a special contest for best game of the day. Draws did not count in the contest as the daily prices were various apple products (iPads, Shuffles, and Nano's). Those prices had to be judjed by two famous young GMs- Anish Giri and Fabiano Caruana, but they also had to withdraw at the very last moment for the sake of the World Cup. IM David Pruess did the judjement instead together with the tournament organizer.
Despite the difficulties, the tournament was billed the strongest in Los Angeles since 1988 (as one of the participants IM Jack Peters stated) and successfully crowned Gupta‘s attempts to revive the chess life in the megapolis. For his intense work he received the price- Organizer of the Year by USCF.
The tournament was professionally covered by Christine Hartman and Christian Glawe of IceHat Creative (videos) and Betsy Dynako (photographer). You can enjoy her great pictures:



Bay Area is a metropolitan region that surrounds San Francisco, and includes many „chess places“ like Berkeley, Concord and Fremont. I had the pleasure of visiting the latter at the beginning of August. The famous coach Ted Castro from the Norcal House of Chess invited me for my first chess camp on American soil. It took five days and was well attended, and ended with a simul on twenty boards. The club was very active this year, and before my participation two other GMs- Varuzhan Akobian and Ray Robson also did camps there. These events are extremely popular in USA, the kids use their summer time to get better in various activities. Chess is one of them, but a camp is not only the pure accademical work. The children are also having sports activities, and various competitions. In the Norcal House for example, they were collecting points for participating in the lectures, puzzle solving competitions, wins in training games. Disciplined students win additional points. Points are turned into „things“ and „things“ are transformed in various goods (Lego constructors, Barbie dolls, or mere candies) at the end of the day. This is the sweetest part when kids can taste the fruits of their efforts.

On 11 August Susan Polgar made a quick detour to East Palo Alto to visit Dyhemia Young. You probably have heard the story of the girl, but here it is in brief, as it comes to show one of the many positive sides of chess:
Dyhemia, who is fifteen years old, has spent the last three years in and out of foster care, received one of the wild card bids for the Annual Susan Polgar Girls Invitational in Lubbock, Texas. However, she later on disappeared and it was not sure if they will find her in time for the start of the event. It took almost a month and the help of the San Francisco‘s pollice detective to find her. Then the usual money problem occured, as she needed the funds to reach Lubbok. Still, with the help of many good people, including the famous movie star Will Smith the young girl made it to the event. And even though she did not win the it, she came back to Bay Area with a chess scholarship worth 40 000 $. From a poor orphan without a future Dyhemia got her chance thanks to our beautiful game.
Susan gave a „girly“ simul, against ten promising young ladies, and answered many questions on the formation of a champion, and gave many useful advises on what the young players need to do to become better.

After the wonderful time in Bay Area, I moved to the south, and took part in an open tournament in Central California, in a town called Fresno. It was a funny experience to me. I arrived one day later for the tournament to take the two day schedule instead of the usual three day. This meant that the first two games are played in a faster mode than the remaining games, so that the players can catch up with the three-day schedule. Then, in the third round the events are gathered together, and the tournament proceeds with the usual time control.
The five-round open event went smooth for me and I managed to tie for the first together with GM Nick De Firmian and IM Enrico Sevillano, scoring 4/5.
Here are the final standings
Altogether there were five sections, and plenty of young players. Some of them could not even reach the edges of the boards easily, but enjoyed greatly the game.
The journey proceeds to the south. More news would follow from L.A.


The Canadian open championship took place in Toronto in the middle of July (9-17). After reading briefly the history of the event, and discovering that my personal hero Bent Larsen won the event twice I started dreaming of adding my name to winner’s list. However, a shock was waiting for me at the start. My first game in Canada turned out to be a disaster. I lost as White against an opponent who was rated 500 points less than me! The happy Brad Willis took home the prize for a major upset, and was kind enough to say that this was one of his greatest achievements in chess.

On the second day (10 July) the blitz tournament took place. It was a double-game, six round-tournament, with thinking time of 3 minutes, and an additional 2 seconds per move. GM Viktor Mikhalevski from Israel started viciously with ten straight wins, and claimed the title with an 11/12 result. Second place was tied between GM Bator Sambuev, IM Nikolay Noritsyn, GM Vitali Golod and GM Luis Manuel Perez. Naturally, I ended up a half point behind the prizes, and my mood significantly “grew”.
Things got even worse when I could not win in round three. Minus fifteen rating points, and with only 1.5/3, the next six rounds stretched before me like a real torture. I tried to recall if I had ever had such an open tournament in the past 20 years, but could not. I was briefly even considering taking my plane back home. But then stayed for what the locals later called the “Swiss gambit”.

Towards the middle of the event it became apparent that none would claim the bonus for a perfect score. Laszlo Witt was the only player ever to claim this prize back in 1962. 9/9 was out of the question, but some of the players were still in the battle for the additional 750 $ which would be won if someone achieved 8.5 points.
There was also a huge stream of chess-related events. Each day there were at least two lectures, on various themes. Some of the lecturers promoted their books. GM Eugene Perelshteyn presented Chess Openings for White/Black Explained, and GM Joel Benjamin spoke about his-- American Grandmaster: Four Decades of Chess Adventures. I was also very active on the first days, with a lecture and a simul, as well as participation in a Chess 960 event.

More spicy events also took place. Such were the tandem simuls, and the blindfold simultaneous exhibition by GM Benjamin Finegold who won five and drew only one game in his remarkable performance.

It is difficult to mention all the events, but it was definitely a feast for the chess player, and a good sample of what should be done for chess to become more popular! I use this chance to congratulate the tournament organizers David Cohen and Ted Winick for their efforts!
Back to the tournament-- things started to get better for me after the third round when I finally got a good twelve-hour sleep (yes, twelve!) Wins were still coming reluctantly, but I had five more in a row. The last one, against the top-rated Canadian player Bator Sambuev.

Then with a short draw in the final round against Joel Benjamin I accomplished my “Swiss gambit”. I did not know this expression, but my new Canadian friends explained to me that this is when you lose (presumably on purpose) in the first rounds to face weaker opposition and speed up later and catch the leaders at the end. Still, I would rather prefer Swiss chocolate instead…

As for the co-winners, both Joel Benjamin and Walter Arencibia made great tournaments. Despite our short draw in the final round Joel probably made the most moves in his games of all the participants. He won good technical games, and produced a masterpiece against GM Golod.

Arencibia was also very steady, did not lose a single game, and showed rich games. He won some interesting tactical encounters, but I loved best this positional effort against Michal Meszaros.

The chief organizer David Cohen made an interesting observation-none of the winners stayed in the comfort of the hotel. All the three of us stayed with families, and had to travel each day for about an hour to the venue. “But those who want, will”- was his comment.

I believe though that the secret lies elsewhere. Mine were three actually. Michael, Evan and David-- the kids in the Kanter family that I stayed with. Michael taught me how to play baseball and took care of my physical shape. Evan was my greatest fan, and already "“reserved” me for the next year for their guest. Finally, coach David (who is seven years old) arrived in my room in the evening before the final round and sent me to bed as I had an important game in the morning, and a tournament to win…


Quebec Open

Quebec open took place in Montreal at the end of July 23-30 July.

In 1967, the Quebec chess federation was created in reason of the conflict between chess players from Quebec and from the rest of Canada. The language barrier was at the principal reason that pushed Quebecers to create their own federation.
In 1972, powered by the ‘’Fischer-Boom’’, the Quebec chess federation organized the first official Quebec Open, which attracted 744 players. It was a real shock since the previous tournaments in Quebec had barely attracted more than 50 players.
In 1982, two players from England were invited: GM Michael Stean and IM Nigel Short. The young IM was back then a big sensation, considered by many as a child prodigy who could one day aspire to the title of world champion.
In 1980, one of the strongest player to ever live in Canada arrived in a spy-movie way. His name was Igor Ivanov and he was part of a Russian chess team coming to Cuba for a chess tournament. He had earn his place on this trip by defeating the world champion Anatoly Karpov in a pretty convincing way. However, he ran away in Canada during a refuelling stop in Newfoundland, chased by KGB agents. He then made a big sensation by winning the Quebec Open, then the Canadian Open and Closed, the last two taking place at the same time! Running from one of his game to the other, he managed to win both tournaments ahead of very strong international masters. He later won all the Quebec Open in which he played (except in 1985).
Many chess legends participated in the Quebec Open, such as Boris Gulko in 1992, Ljubomir Ljubojević in 1984 (who back then had the third highest rating in the world) and Korchnoi in 2004. The tournament was composed of 6 sections- Invitational, Open, U2000, U1700, U1400, U1100.
The invitation section (consisted 30 players only, and the tournament is very similar to a round-robin event). IM Nikolaj Noritsyn made the tournament of his life to win the event outright 7/9. He made his first GM norm with a spare round, and did not lose a single game. Walter Arencibia of Cuba concluded his successful Canadian tourney to claim clear second with 6.5/9, thus becoming the unofficial winner of the improvised Canadian circuit. Best Quebec players were GMs Anton Kovalyov (better on tie-break) and Bator Sambuev. I lost a crucial game in the penultimate round against the winner, and ended sixth. Still, I had a reason to be proud with coach achievements. I had some brief sessions with two Canadian players who did very well in the open section. Twelve-years old Olivier Kenta Chiku-ratte finished second, while Felix Dumont sixth (and improved a good 100 points from the event). The only titled player in this section, IM Jean Hebert won the event outright with 8/9.


A Very Special Day

Today is a very special day, as chess giant was born.I intended to write a poem about this genius, but instead decided to demonstrate his brightest achievements, which charactirize him best:

The Dominator
Bojkov,D - Delemarre,J
Wch U18 Szeged (4), 1994

That hero of ours has style. Instead of winning a piece with: 57.Bxe3 [57.a7 Bxa7 58.Rxa7] 57...Bxe3 58.Re7+ Or a pair of pawns after: [58.Kxe3 Rxh3+ 59.f3 Rh1 60.Rf5+ Kd6 61.Rxg5 our man decided to dominate on the whole board.] 58...Kf4 59.Rxe3 Indeed he does dominate, not for very long... 59...Rxf2+! Funnily, Jop found me on facebook today. 1/2

Mr. Cool.
Bojkov,D (2394) - Nikolov,S (2399)
Sunny Beach (6), 24.09.2003

Who would possibly be afraid about the hanging queen, when the piece that attacks it can be destroyed? 23.Bxc6 Nxb3 0–1, Khm, at least I had a great time on the beach after that.

The Tactical Master
Bojkov,D (2498) - Paulet,I (2275)
5th Open Kalamaria GRE (5), 06.08.2008

23.Qxa6 That remarkable person (luckily, not a GM yet) does not in fact in know that a queen is equal to nine (9) pawns, rather than one. In the featured position, instead of the cool retreats: [23.Qc6!?; 23.Qc2!? which could have caused Iozefina's flag to fall, that tricky guy found the fabulous combination, which he was sure to add to his first book.] 23...Rxa6 24.Rc8+ Ke7 25.Rfc1 [25.Nc6+ the only drawback of the combination though, was that the intended mate is somehow annoyingly refuted by the ingenious: 25...Rxc6!! The rest of the game was a not-very gentleman's try to cause the lady's flag falling. Let me, please, skip it.] 0–1

The Technical Genius
Bojkov,D (2544) - Naroditsky,D (2419)
Berkeley Int Open Berkeley USA (9), 07.01.2011

After spoiling the better part of his advantage, and after a fifteen minute of precise calculation, that gorgeous guy found the most technical decision: 45.h5 The move, that kept away the potentially weak extra pawn. The good thing about this Karpov-style preciseness is that after the slightly unexpected: 45…Rxc4 a mere ten moves later I was the first one to congratulate Daniel for his IM title. 0–1

And this is only the beginning…just let me entertain you 

Thank you all for your greeting!!!


The Unprepared Attack

The following game against an old rival of mine from my youth days was my cleanest game in Albena. White’s overoptimistic attacking play in the opening was easily refuted by simple development.

Yovchev,A (2284) - Bojkov,D (2542)
BUL Teams (3.4), 09.06.2011
[,Dejan Bojkov]
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qc1?!

Alexi is an extremely sharp tactician. His dream now is to swap the bishops, weaken the fianchettoe position of my king, and to push the h pawn as far it gets. Therefore, exchanges are not part of his plan: [5.Qd2 Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Ne5 Nd7= or even(7...f6 8.Nc4 Be6) ] 5...Bf5! Hits the pawn on c2, and provokes White for his next move. 6.Nh4?! [6.Bh6? Bxh6 7.Qxh6 Bxc2] 6...Be6! One might argue that the bishop is not better placed on e6 than on c8, but this is not the case. This piece is targeting... the a2 pawn! 7.Bh6 Bxh6 8.Qxh6 Qd6 Thanks to the small development twist, Black is already better. The knight on h4 as well the queen on h6 are completely unprepared for an "attack". Moreover, they are obstructing White's normal development. 9.Qd2 Played after 40 minutes of thought. I can only imagine White's frustration. However, the other options are no better: [9.h3 Ne4 (9...c5!?) 10.Nxe4 dxe4 is better for Black; Even worse is: 9.e3 Nc6 10.0–0–0 Ng4 11.Qg7 0–0–0–+

The most obvious: 9.0–0–0? is in fact losing after: 9...Ng4 10.Qg7 Rf8] 9...Nc6 10.g3 Probably White needed to settle on the continuation: [10.0–0–0 0–0–0 11.e3 Ne4 12.Qe1 when Black is a little better anyways (12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.g3 Bxa2 is a clear pawn ahead for me

this is when the bishop is needed on e6!) 12...f5 although I would defenetely prefer to have the black pieces here.] 10...0–0–0 11.Bg2 h6 The knight on h4 is still a concern for the first player. 12.Nb5 Qd7 13.f4 Ne4 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.e3 The only move, as there is a double attack in case of the other pawn defense: [15.c3 Qd5] 15...g5 16.f5 Alexi decided to sacrifice a pawn. The alternative was not great either: [16.Ng2 Bg4 17.0–0

with a pleasant choice for Black- 17...gxf4 (17...Bf3 18.Ne1 g4) 18.Rxf4 f5 In both cases with great advantage.] 16...Bxf5 17.Nxf5 Qxf5 18.c4 a6 More energetic would have been: [18...Ne5 19.Qa5 Nd3+ 20.Kd1 (20.Kd2 Qf2+ 21.Kd1 Nxb2+ 22.Kc1 Nd3+ 23.Kd1 b6 24.Qxa7 Qf3+ 25.Kd2 Qg2+) 20...Qf3+ 21.Kc2 Qe2+ with immediate win.] 19.Rf1?! Qg4 20.Nc3 Ne5

21.Qe2 Nf3+ 22.Kd1 f5 23.Kc1 h5 Once that the h file is opened, black pieces will flood the opponent's position. 24.c5 c6 25.Nd1 [25.Qc4 Kb8 26.Qe6 h4 would not help either.] 25...Qh3 26.Rf2 h4 27.Rg2 hxg3 28.hxg3 Qh1 29.b4 Ne1 0–1
Naturally, not a great play by the first player, but a good example how to refute an overoptimistic play by your opponent.


Champions Again

Bulgarian Team Competitions took place once more in the beautiful resort of Albena between 2-8 Junes. Practically all the best Bulgarian players (except Topalov, Cheparinov and Stefanova) took part in the event. Eight teams competed in the top male and female divisions, and additional 10 teams in the second male division plus four female teams, with the total of 194 players. Among them were 25 GMs and 30 IMs. Male teams constitute from 6 players and two reserves, while female- 4 players and one substitute. The rate of play was an hour and a half for the whole game, and increment of thirty seconds per move. Sofia rules were applied, as well as the zero-lateness tolerance.
The weather was fine, and many of the games had to be decided in a constant time-trouble.
In the male section my team “Naiden Voinov”-Vidin managed to double the title from the previous year. We won almost all our matches, including the direct encounters against Lokomotiv Sofia (3.5-2.5), and Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the last but one round (4-2) which proved to be the decisive match. Before that there was also a thrilling encounter against Lokomotiv 2000, which ended 3-3, but which we could have easily lost. The leader of the team Alexander Delchev arrived for the decisive match against Lokomotiv from the French Team Championship, and managed to win two team championships within a couple of days. Further on the squad was represented by the GMs M.Nikolov, Vl. Georgiev, V. Nevednichii (practically the only foreign player in the male part this year), D. Bojkov, M.Petrov, and FM Hr. Velchev, E.Stefanov.
The second place was for Lokomotiv Plovdiv led by GMs Spasov,Chatalbashev,Petkov and Drenchev. They did though less good on the lowest boards. The most remarkable about their team was the absolute record by IM Ljuben Popov (Bachkata) who played his 56-th (!) team championship with the same team, and who won his 40-th medal with his club!
Bronze medals went for Lokomotiv Sofia. Their indisputable leader Kiril Georgiev scored fabulous 4.5/5. However the saying “One swallow does not make a summer” worked for this strong team, as the leader did not get enough support.
The strong team of Lokomotiv 2000 did not really have a chance for the medals, as in the decisive final round one of their key players could not arrive on time and was forfeited for a minute delay. Another unpleasant incident happened in round two, when Dian Dimov from Abritus who had his mobile phone off in his pocket, pressed it unconsciously while thinking. The mobile made a noise, and he had to be forfeited. The moral is always the same; do better not bring any phones with you, no matter if they are off, or on. There are still alarms, that might start, reminders, or it might make a random sound when the battery is low, there are too many negative possibilities.
The poker phenomenon did not pass Bulgaria, and the team of Abritus was constituted by active poker players, and sponsored by a more advanced others.
From the group relegated the teams of Spartak Pleven, and sadly, the previous title-contenders CSKA. Victory Blagoevgrad and Tunja Yambol are replacing them.
The ladies tournament witnessed the indisputable success of Shah XXI Sofia who comfortably won all their six matches, and drew the last one when the job was done. The team consisted from WIM E.Raeva and WGMs E.Djingarova, M.Velcheva and G.Olarasu, who is the top-scorer of the championship with 6.5/7. A curious fact is that all he ladies from the champion’s team are connected with the champions from the male one. E.Djingarova and A. Delchev, and V. Nevendnichii and G. Olarasu (families), E.Raeva and M. Nikolov (couple) and finally M.Velcheva and Hr. Velchev (brother and sister, and captains).
The silver medals went for Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) (WGM Vosika,and WIM Chilingirova,Yordanova and Genova), while the last-year champions from CSKA managed to grab the bronze despite the financial crisis.
Lokomotiv Sofia and Spartak Pleven XXI got relegated and will be replaced in the next year by Krakra Pernishki and Ivis-Plus Sofia.
Albena is a hot spot at the Bulgarian chess map. It is one of the greenest resorts in our country, and there are more things to be seen in the neighborhood, like the Blachik’s Botanical Garden and the Balchik Palace (mere 9 km away), cape Kaliakra, etc. Currently the world workers championships are taking place in Albena (chess is one of the disciplines). A strong tournament with more than 200 participants (subscribed so far) will take place in the resort at the end of the month (25.05-03.07).
Finally, in September the European Individual Youth championships will be played.


6 Months and 60 Minutes

This mass match on 100 boards was prepared long time ago and took place on Saturday, 28 May, just a couple of hours before the finals of the Soccer Champion’s League. There was no special occasion; it was just the passion to our great game and the respect that we have towards each other as nations that made the event happen. The Bulgarian and Serbian people have many things in common: we have similar language, use the Cyrillic alphabet, have the same religion- Orthodox Christians, and we have cooperated greatly in various arias of life, and chess is naturally one of them. Quite remarkable is the case with the legendary Serbian GM Svetozar Gligorich, who first became Bulgarian champion (unofficially) in 1945 and only after that, won his many titles in his home Yugoslavia.
100 boards is a lot of people and we were symbolically separated in various categories. Beside the male and female boards there were also students, handicapped, youth and seniors over 55 and 60 years. Furthermore, the unusual categories of federation and club managements, politicians, teachers, businessmen, journalists and even holy men competed each other.
It was a great chance for the players to meet some of their friends that they have not seen with years. It was also great to see many of our living legends gathered together.
Bankia is a state in Sofia, famous for the mineral water and the green environment. It become one of the hottest spots on the Bulgarian chess map this year, as both the male and female championships were conducted here in April.
The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandukova, the deputy mayor of Begrade as well as many other politicians paid attention to the event, and made the symbolical first move.
Bulgaria was represented by Kiril Georgiev on the first male board, and Antoaneta Stefanova on the top female board, who had just arrived from the WIECC in Georgia as a silver medalist. Serbia’s top boards were Ivan Ivanisevic and Natasa Bojkovic. A total of 33 GMs and numerous titled players took part in the match. The time limit was 25 minutes per game, with an increment of 10 seconds per move. The top boards were translated online.
On the top boards we appeared to be quite hospitable hosts. However, we managed to recover the losses thanks to the business/politics/management stuff to finally clinch the win with the slim edge 51.5/48.5
The executive director of the Bulgarian chess Federation Nikolay Velchev said that this was “The longest prepared match (6 months) which ended in just 60 minutes”, but brought numerous positive emotions to all the participants.
The next match will be played in Belgrade.