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Special Edition: A Pleasure of Stay-At-Home Chess Player

GM Ján Markoš | December 13, 2011 – 11:24No Comment | 1,173 views
Special Edition: A Pleasure of Stay-At-Home Chess Player

Almost every man likes to sit in front of the TV, have some beer or vine and watch the Champions League, U.S. Open or NHL. It’s a great and enjoyable relax which gives us a nice bonus of secret viciousness: those little characters in TV look like breaking their back just for our sake. In Slovakia, we have a saying: I love the work; I could sit and look at it all day long. This is also one of the pleasures of stay-at-home sportsman…

Translated by: Dusan Turcer

As there are stay-at-home sportsmen, there are also stay-at-home chess players. They are not necessarily orienting themselves to a TV, but rather to the Internet. They have windows open in the background, with the broadcast from some big tournament and they check once in a while how these games develop. They mostly don’t drink beer during this activity because they are usually working on something else or sitting at work directly, under the supervision of a strict boss.

In addition, five hours of watching chess broadcast is a time killer for masochists – action on the board usually develops more slowly than a flat stage of Tour de France. But when some great event like the World Cup or the Olympics is played, there is so many games going on simultaneously, that fun is guaranteed. Let’s add some chat interface to it and a joy of stay-at-home chess player is perfect – he can watch, comment, criticize, analyze, have a laugh at someone’s errors – and the effort and responsibility for the result are held only by the actors behind the chessboard.

I also wallow in stay-at-home chess. The European Team Championship is taking place in Greek town Porto Carras these days. Slovaks are not attending on the ground of a critical savings, so we are following from home. It has something to it; you can watch live games so invisibly, in almost voyeuristic way. The games of friends, people with whom I played, analyzed, used to be a roommate at tournaments or drank wine. And at the same time, you don’t even need to lift a hand, nor the chess piece. Gens una Sumus!

A passive sport is also a sport...

A passive sport is also a sport...

Stay-at-home chess brings various emotions; standouts are not always the winners. I was co-suffering with my friend, Italian Grandmasters Sabino Brunello, who got under the hooves of terrifying Shakhriyar Mamedyarov:

Black is a pawn up, however, he is lacking development and his queen placed in the centre may easily become the object of attack. Although this position is considered by computers as balanced, Black has a very hard times when it comes to practical game. Sabino made it even more difficult for himself; the following careless move is probably a decisive mistake:

This restricts the queen even more and places the bishop into the scope of Ng3, which plans to jump to f5 soon. Perhaps Black didn’t notice the following clever return of white knight?

The black queen is in a very tight place.

And it’s over. The black knight will not be able to get rid of the pin anymore.

Much happier was the end of the game of my colleague from the top Czech team competition, Grandmaster Zbynek Hracek:

Hracek – Elsness (CZE-NOR), Black to move:


The position arose from a nowadays very popular opening – Anti-Moscow Gambit. White sacrificed the exchange, plus his bishop on g3 is caught and sentenced to die. But the black king is under direct attack and must escape. Where to retreat? To c7 or c8? The warriors are in even more problematic situation; they are both under time pressure. The heart of a stay-at-home chess player beats very fast in these positions…

30…Kc7??

Norwegian chooses wrong! Now the white rook remains on a6, cutting the black king from the escape to the kingside. After correct 30…Kc8! 31.Ra8 + Kc7 32.Qa5 + Kd7 33.Ra7+ Ke6 34.Rxg7 fxg3 35.hxg3 White has a very good compensation for the exchange, the game may, however, end up in any way. Now the sleeping bishop on g3 wakes up:

31.Bxf4+ gxf4 32.Qxf4+

White can win even faster after 32.b6+ Qxb6 33.Qxf4+ Rd6 34.Rxb6 and Black must give up immediately.

32…Be5 33.Qe4

However, it’s also possible to win this way, quietly…

34…Qxb5 34.Rc6+ Kd7 35.Qf5+ 1–0

Sergei Movsesian was the Slovak No.1 few years and our main drought horse when it comes to the chess national team. Nowadays, he represents Armenia and this team has recently become the world champion. But he had to resign in the second round while playing against Vugar Gashimov and his very original play. Two moments impressed me during the broadcast: one from the beginning and another from the end of the game.

Gashimov – Movsesian (AZE-ARM), White to move:

White played a very interesting novelty in this well-known position. He pushed 7.b3!?. What is the point of this move? White usually plays 7.b4, after which 7…a5 follows and White is forced to give up the compact pawn structure on the queenside; or eventually play 7.Bd3, which is followed by quick …e7-e5 and the bishop on d3 is vulnerable, especially when the black knight jumps to e5 or c5.

After 7.b3, White is planning to develop the bishop to b2, which will make it difficult to push …e7-e5 for Black. He plans the next pawn advance only after the Ra1 is covered and so the …a7-a5 can be met by a2-a3.

Let’s move a few dozen moves on in the game, (again, White to move):

White is better because his knight is stronger than the bishop of Black. Moreover, white duet Q+N reigns towards the dark squares. But it’s not possible to capture on d5 immediately because of the “hanging” f4-pawn. Gashimov solved this problem in a very elegant way. He played 38.Kg3 and he used his king as an offensive weapon later in the game:

38…Be6 (38…Bxe4?? 39.Nxe4 Rxe4 40.Ra8 +-) 39.Nxe6 fxe6 40.Qf6 Qb7 41.Kh4! Qg7 42.Kg5! e5 43.Qxc6 Qe7+ 44.Qf6 exf4 45.Qxe7 Rxe7 46.Kxg6 Rg7+ 47.Kf6 Rxg2 48.c6 Rg7 49.Ke6 Rf7 50.Kd6 Rf6+ 51.Kc5 Rf7 52.Kb6 Rf6 53.Kxb5 1–0

Rangy king of White ended up on b5.

A presence of one name in the European Championship was a big surprise to me. I met Jacob Aagaard when I was on the exchange educational visit in Scotland and I am due him a lot. As an experienced chess author, he was teaching me how to write about the royal game. Today, Jacob is leading the Quality Chess publisher and he sits behind the chessboard very rarely. And here – look – I saw him representing his native Danish colors. And it was not any careful chess of a veteran player at all. On the contrary, he approached his opponent wildly. The fourth round of the match Denmark – Latvia:

Aagaard – Neiksans:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.Qe2 d6 8.0–0 g6 9.f4 Bg7 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Rxf7!

This strong sacrifice comes from Emil Sutovsky. At the cost of the rook, Black king will be lured into a free space and there lightly fried from all sides.

12…Kxf7 13.Nxe6

The sacrifice would not make any sense without this move. The knight is untouchable because after 13…Kxe6 14.Bc4+ Ke7 15.Nd5+ Black loses the queen. Neiksans is defending well, but he ends up in an uncomfortable position anyway:

13…Qxe5 14.Qf2+ Nf6 15.Ng5+ Ke8 16.Bf4 Ng4 17.Bxe5 Nxf2 18.Bxg7 Rg8 19.Re1+ Kd7 20.Kxf2 Rxg7 21.Nd5

White’s compensation for the exchange is obvious. Black pieces are still wintering while the white ones have a May long since. Dane won nicely…

A stay-at-home chess is a nice relax; especially when the games are so interesting as it was in Porto Carras. On the other hand, I am always happy when I close the laptop and dive into the “real” world of 64 squares.

Nevertheless, it’s more fun to be on the other side of the broadcast…


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