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A win against IM Vladimir Eljanov August 24, 2007

Posted by dorigo in chess, computers, games, internet, personal.

It is always nice to win a game against a titled chessplayer, even if it is only a blitz game (5 minutes per player) and it is played online in the Internet Chess Club, thus preventing you from receiving a fair handshake at the end.

It happens rarely to me, but mostly because getting to play with international masters or grandmasters is tough even on the ICC, where many titled players are logged at any given time of the day. And then again, of course 90% of the times they dispose of me as quickly as you can dump the garbage.

To get the honor of playing against an IM or a GM you have to first boost your rating to a level which allows the automatic pairing system to give you that chance. It happened tonight, when I was lazily playing 5-minute chess while my wife was telling a story to the kids to get them to sleep. My opponent, patola(IM) on ICC, does not have a top notch rating for blitz games online, but has a FIDE rating of almost 2400, which is rather average for International Masters. He is the father of Pavel Eljanov apparently – and Pavel is a strong grandmaster.

Anyway, here is the game. Apparently, I managed to surprise him in the opening with a risky and bold pawn sacrifice… And then things snowballed for him, until he managed to mend his position to a level which still allowed him to hope. But with a few precise moves, I came out on top.

patola(IM)-tonno, ICC 5 0 – 24/8/2007

1.c4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2 g6 5.cxd5 Bf5!? 

(see diagram 1 below)

A risky move, and not a totally correct one, but quite viable in blitz games, where the surprise factor is very important. My opponent indeed started to think… He knew h could take the pawn, but he would thus give black some play… On the other hand, if he did not take the pawn, he would have to lose a tempo with the queen… So he went for it. 6.Qb3 Nxd5 7.Qxb7 Nd7 8.Qb3 here 8.a3 would have brought white a small but steady advantage after 8… Rb8 9.Qa6 (but worse is 9.Qxa7 e5! with some play against the white queen, exemplifid by 10.dxe5? Ra8 11.Qd4 Nb4!)  Rb8 9.Qd1 Bxb1!

(see diagram 2 below) 

Here is the surprise! White loses the exchange. 9.Qa4 would have amounted to the same thing (9…. Bxb1 10.Rxb1 Nc3) and even the stubborn 9.Qc4 would have left black on top after 9…. Nb4! 10.Na3 Be6 11.Qc3 Nxa2 12.Qc2 Nxc1 13.Rxc1 Qa5, where black has gotten even with pawns and retains the bishop pair, the initiative, and a better overall structure. 10.Rxb1 Nc3 11.bxc3 Rxb1 12.e3 Qa5 13.Qc2 Ra1 14.Bc4 Nb6 15.Bb3 Nd5 16.Bxd5 cxd5

(see diagram 3 below)

17.a4? But here white had a chance to obtain some dynamical compensation by means of 17.Qb2! Rxa2 18.Qb8+. I do not really know what would have happened in that case, but for sure I was glad to see him playing the pawn instead. After this missed chance, the game goes downhill for Eljanov. Probably he played 17.a4 to divert my queen from the attack of c3, but it is an inaccurate move. 17…. Qxa4 18.Qb2! Still good now, but it does not win a tempo by attacking the rook any longer, so that black has time to create an escape for the king!(see diagram 4 below)


18…. f6! the last required accuracy. Now black is really safe. Other means of defending against the impending sortie of the white queen would have been much more troublesome. f6 creates the f7 square for the king, and avoids any knight jumps to e5 and g5. 19.0-0 Kf7! 20.Qb7 Qa5 21.e4 dxe4 22.Qxe4 Qxc3 23.Bd2 Rxf1+ 24.Kxf1 Qc4+ 25.Kg1 e6 26.h4 

(see diagram 5 below) 


A desperate attempt, but black’s position is easy to play and I by now had even more time on the clocks… 26…. Be7 27.h5 Qd5 28.Qf4 Bd6 29.Ne5+ Bxe5 30.dxe5 Qxe5  and in this hopeless position white allowed his time to end. A nice game, although admittedly not too well played by either of us.  I am curious to know whether 5. …Bf5!? is a novelty or if it has been played before. My guess is that it must have been played, if only by another fool. The database of my fritz 8 is not working for some reason. Carl, can you search the position for me ? 🙂 



1. carlbrannen - August 25, 2007

Tommaso, it turns out I have Fritz 7, not Fritz 8. That, of course, is of little matter in terms of my beating it.

The top four continuations for black’s 5th move are, after 60 seconds of infinite analysis, as:
(0.19) … c6xd5 6 Nb1-c3 Nb8-c8
(0.37) … Nf6xd5 6 e2-e4 Nd5-c7
(0.47) … Qd8xd5 6 Nb1-c3 Qd5-a5
(0.62) … Bc8-f5 6 Qc2-b3 Nf6xd5

So Fritz doesn’t say it’s awful. But in my limited $10 version of the game, only c6xd5 shows up in the book. I would guess that it has to be in any decent book on openings. By the way, I’m getting killed on queen pawn openings by tricks that I forgot over the years, mostly having to do with getting black’s king checked by a queen or bishop. And I still miss 1-move effects unless I examine a position carefully. I truly am awful.

And congratulations, saying that an IM is not proficient at blitz is a bit modest. As far as I know, IMs aren’t like that. What, does he have a 110 baud modem or something?

I’m quite enamored of the Chess Base software. I can’t believe it’s so cheap. I would like to write a post on the thermodynamics of chess ratings in the context of how much of a pawn a given class of player loses per move.

You probably saw the $50,000 wager where a 1200 player bet an IM that he could beat the IM 2 out of 3 if the IM began play minus one rook. As I’ve thought more about perfection and chess, it seems to me that a better way of handicapping chess is to allow the lower rated player to have extra moves. For example, a real number could be accumulated each move, and whenever it crosses an integer boundary the duffer gets an extra move. That way the better player can plan for the effect of the extra move, but all the pieces contribute to play.

I gave a copy of Fritz to the 17-yearold Ethiopian highschool student who has been complaining tht he doesn’t have a chess coach. He’s used it, but I don’t think he’s yet found out how useful it is.


2. Fred - August 25, 2007

Nice feather, T.

Thanks for that tidbit as I didn’t realize the number of masters that now participate over the web. Are these games officially considered for one’s rating?

“A risky move, and not a totally correct one, but quite viable in blitz games, where the surprise factor is very important.”

Another fine example of modern chess play integrating with the IT world to pump some new blood into it as online action is promoted by the very nature of blitz chess and likewise. Your wife probably deserves a lot of credit for putting your mind at ease to pull off the victory. Carl, I assume you are talking about your opponent playing white when you state, “By the way, I’m getting killed on queen pawn openings …”.

3. dorigo - August 25, 2007

Hello Carl,

no I do not think the IM had a 1200 baud modem. In fact, ICC does keep track of the actual thinking time, and only charges that to the clocks. Also, I may concur – Eljanov has a very high 1-minute chess rating on ICC, which means he can indeed play at bullet speed if he wants to.

Thank you for the analysis and the information – I will need to reinstall my fritz 8 one of these days.


4. dorigo - August 25, 2007

Hello Fred,

yes, my wife needs to be credited, although she does not like my playing too much online and she does not hide the fact 😉


5. sslover314kboxguy - August 26, 2007


6. carlbrannen - August 27, 2007

Yes, it’s as black I’m getting killed on queen pawn openings, mostly to Qa5+. Even when I played a lot of chess my openings generally resulted in my losing a tempo as white, or a pawn as black so I’m not surprised.

With Fritz 7 at “1620”, I’ve now played 4 rated games, taking them quite seriously. Now 3-1 with the first of the two black games the loss. I set the games for G60, as this seems to be a common setting for USCF tournaments near Seattle. At this level, Fritz 7 is subject to amazing blunders, especially towards the end game. Perhaps that is because I have the $10 version and it doesn’t have a good end game technique.

After a 30 year hiatus, I am quite rusty. It’s interesting for me to observe the sharpening process. In the last two games, I regained some of my lost ability to use time to examine a position. In the first two I found myself with an embarassment of unused time on the clock as I could not think of anything else to think about.

I learned notation as P-K4 instead of e4. At that time I could play blind folded, as happens to most players who play enough while recording moves. Now I’m learning algebraic notation and am horribly inaccurate at it.

Having Fritz to analyze the game right afterwards is wonderful. In the first game, which I won as white, I missed a forced mate that I doubt I’d have seen without Fritz. I had my king at h1, hiding behind a pawn at g2 from a queen that could move to check me on the long white diagonal. The first move of the combination was g4 threatening Qh5#, and I overlooked it because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out what happened after opening the diagonal and getting checked. It turns out that the check was worthless, and then black had to give up his queen to stay alive another move, mate in 4, but really 2.

As it is, it is quite painful for me to analyze combinations to see if they are advantageous. Two moves is as far as I can go easily (with bugs), and three moves is painful. I expect that this will improve. I suppose I will eventually be able to play blindfolded, assuming I ever get comfortable with algebraic notation. I’m still good at setting up decent defensive positions with the minor pieces, but lousy at placing the queen effectively.

7. Arun - August 28, 2007

Congratulations! 🙂

8. dorigo - August 29, 2007

Hi Arun, thanks… A win against titled players is always pleasing, but more so is showing it off 🙂


9. dorigo - August 29, 2007

Carl, why don’t you try the Keres defence ? It has a strong potential of throwing white players off-balance. Almost none of the players below candidate-master level are prepared to face it, and are going to fall for the main continuations, which are few and not complicated to learn. And black often gets the initiative!

One very common var is
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5 3.cxd5 Bxb1 4.Rxb1 Qxd5 5.a3 (the pawn is really threatened) Nc6 6.Nf3 0-0-0 7.e3 e5 when black has the initiative. I won a very nice game with this variation, it got published in a book about the opening.

Another is
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5 3.Nc3 e6 4.Nf3 c6 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.c5 Qxb3 7.axb3 Na6 8.e4 Nb4 9.Ra4 with several complex variations arising, which -if you know them – can give you the advantage against a non-well-prepared opponent.

Another variation which often arises is
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5 3.Qb3 e5 4.Qxb7 Nd7 5.Qxd5 Ngf6 which appears to have won white two pawns, but sees him in trouble due to the attack black easily can develop (e.g.6.Qc6 Bxb1 7.Rxb1 Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Bxd2).

Perhaps the most common though is the simple
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5 3.Nc3 e6 4.Qb3 Nc6 and if now 5.Qxb7 Nb4 so usually white goes 5.Nf3 with a position not difficult to play.

In all these variations, you will notice that while black has to pay for its initiative (with pawns, sometimes) or is anyway slightly worse positionally – as it has to be at the beginning of the game – he has solved his main problem in queen’s openings: the placement of his light-squared bishop.


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