Bad girls go to Laguna Beach

2/10/2004 – What are these chess players doing? They are playing a game against an Uzbek grandmaster. While Saidali Yuldashev sits in freezing Tashkent, some of his opponents are enjoying a beach-side think in sunny California. For our TV match Jamshid Begmatov has received a beautiful photo report from the opposite side of the globe.

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Usbek TV audience vs Saidali Yuldashev

By Jamshid Begmatov

Hi again!

Today is Sunday, time to look at our game against Uzbekistan Champ, GM Saidali Yuldashev. Well, we have all sorts of people playing together against the GM: a little kid from India, British soldiers in Iraq, a former drug addict from the Netherlands and many hundreds of others. This game has taken us to Samarkand, Kokand and Khiva, ancient historical places of Uzbekistan.

Today it takes us to probably the most beautiful beach in the world – Laguna Beach in California, which is a meeting place for many chess players, where they even discuss and analyze our game with grandmaster Yuldashev. A friend from California, a financial analyst and great chess fan Carl Kim has sent us wonderful pictures and amazing comments.

Laguna has always been a resort area - a place for rest and relaxation. In the early days, people came from miles around to enjoy its beauty and tranquility, pitching tents on the beach, exploring the intimate coves and the rolling hills.

You will see many street performers, like this guy, playing music for tips. Laguna Beach is a very culturally vibrant local community, with a lot of personality.

Another local color here. Laguna is world famous for artists and art galleries. This guy is a local artist drawing the beautiful scenery.

The city of Laguna Beach actually paid to have these chairs constructed for chess players, but these guys have other ideas. They are playing backgammon.

Local cafe where chess players gather in the evening to continue their games from the beach. It is just across from the beach, and you can see the water through the windows.

Open air chess players at Laguna Beach

A girl stopped by the table, perhaps waiting to play a game. But chess players are interested in a different kind of mate...

Analyzing a chess position in the sunshine at Laguna Beach

I am sure you recognized the position on the board: the game on These chess fans stared to get very worked up about the position, with everyone wanting a say! The conclusion, however, is that Black can only play for a draw, but White still has winning chances. Some of the analysts say they can see a sure win for White – a3!? Make of it what you will.

"Good girls go to heaven," reads the sign (quoting loosely from Helen Gurley Brown) "Bad girls go to Laguna Beach CA". Yes, girls do play chess here wearing those things in summer.

Homes built in very high hills over looking the beach. They cost between two and five million US dollars.

I thought many readers would be interested in seeing what winter in Southern California is like. It's freezing over here in Uzbekistan.

Carl Kim (, was born in Daegu, South Korea. His parents immigrated to Las Vegas, Nevada, US in 1973. "So my first American city was the gambling capital of the United States!" he writes. "This turned out to be a good thing since I like taking chances and meeting new people. By a combination of hard work, good looks, and dumb luck, I got a degree in Economics from Cornell University, and just completed an MBA program at the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine. My favorite pastime is playing chess, making excuses for losses, and blaming others. When chess is not possible, I do work as a financial analyst. I would very much welcome any correspondence from other chess players around the world."

Ok, thank you very much, Carl, and we go back to our game. The grandmaster has made his move, which means the game is going on, so no draw yet as many of you are expecting.

Uzbek TV+ChessBase Audience – Saidali Yuldashev

White’s move in this was 29.Ba3 and Black’s response is 29…Kf7 (the full game is given below the feedback section).

Of course you don’t want to miss our selection of wonderful comments through which all White players, after Alonzo McCaulley’s recent analysis and suggestions, are now exchanging their ideas in a very beautiful and friendly way! His idea was met with a great support, both from ChessBase visitors and the Uzbek TV audience (I did mention this in the TV program). People are even asking him to write a book on endgame strategy! Thanks Alonzo, thanks everybody and here are the comments:

Alonzo McCaulley, Antelope, Ca USA
I suggest the move: 29. Ba3

Comments: Some of you are doing a great job of providing your ideas along with your moves. If you noticed our votes were divided between two reasonable moves. Without the ideas behind the moves in the future we may not “act together”. We need your ideas and plans along with your moves. We need them to evaluate the position and try to find our "voice" in the position. Otherwise we will fight each other and a weak move will be our undoing. One of the threats in the position was …h7-h5-h4, which I had dismissed because I think we have enough resources to deal with it. Now because someone mentioned it, we are all aware of it. Keep sending your ideas with the moves, especially if you can extend the line out 2-3 moves. We must now try to anticipate our opponent’s thoughts and plans so we can combat his moves.

Evaluation: White has an extra pawn and control of the only open file; however our K is trapped and now locked in permanently. We still have to be aware of potential back rank mates so allowing lines to open up is NOT an option. White has to face the facts that although we have a material advantage it is very unlikely we will be able to take advantage of it. Black has all the winning chances. NOTE: We should not fear the exchange of R’s however we do have to watch out for lines where black exchanges R’s and his K penetrates our Q-side. Because of this threat we should NOT move any of the Q-side pawns at all. We also have to keep in mind the only squares we should allow the R exchange is e5/e3. We must keep the black K from getting to a critical square (d3). If his K gets there we may be lost so keep this in the back of your minds. It seems far fetched but I ask everyone to at least look at the idea. This will help with our long range planning.

White Goals/Objectives:

  1. Free our self of the back rank mate threats. This is no longer possible. Our new number one goal must be to keep ANY files from opening up completely.
  2. Activate our pieces. Ba3 is the obvious move now. The c5 square appears to be the best place for our B. From there it will have access to both d6/e7 which will keep black from breaking into our position on the K-side. Our R is on its best square now. In the event the R’s are exchanged the B will be the only piece that can stop black’s Q-side pawns from advancing or his K from getting to d3.
  3. Create a passed pawn and push, push, push----THIS IS NO LONGER AN OPTION. We should put this hour of our heads. Trying to create a passed pawn while black’s R is on the board will open up lines black can use to infiltrate our position. Once the R’s have been exchanged we must trade off as many pawns as possible to prevent black from creating a position where we are in Zugzwang. But again I stress this can only be done AFTER the R’s have been exchanged.

Black Goals/Objectives:

  1. Maintain or increase space advantage...g4 (which he played) did that. Black now has two main routes to try for a win. Black will move his Q-side pawns forward to try and pry open some lines for his R. NOTE: Black’s R does not have to mate us. If he gets to the second rank and then e2 we will be helpless to stop his K from penetrating our position. This can also lead to our losing the game. This must be prevented at all cost. No lines must be allowed to open on the Q-side. We cannot play b4 because black would exchange R’s and his K would enter via d3 and we cannot defend with our weak point’s a2/a3 and c3 with our B. We have to keep the option of playing c4 later when the black K is on e4/f5. We must keep this in mind.
  2. Activate his K. At this point he needs to get to the Q-side help black break thru. The R on the e-file prevents him from getting there. Black will try to find an opportune time to exchange R’s and run his K into our queen-side. We should maintain that blockade. Force the exchange on e3, so we can take with our f-pawn and place our K on f2. I do not expect black to give us this chance but if he does. Then we can try to create passed pawns (e & d) with c4 at the right time. NOTE: Again only AFTER the R’s have been exchanged.
  3. Activate his B before playing …g4. This is no longer possible. NOTE: if we end up in Zugzwang then Bg2 will force us into a lost position.
  4. If the above fails he can exchange into a drawn endgame.

Ways to play the position:

  1. 29. Ba3 since the a3-f8 diagonal is the most active place for our B. We should to head for c5 where it can defend our weak c-pawn, make it harder for black to open up lines on the Q-side and our B has access to the king-side via d6/e7.
  2. 29. Ba3 a5 30.Bc5 a4 31. bxa4 (forced to keep the a-file only half open) Ra8 32. a3! Rxa4 33. Re5 and black cannot break into our position.
  3. NOTE: b4 should NOT be played. Originally I thought we could just block the Q-side and after the exchange of R’s it was a dead draw. I was wrong about this. We must keep the option to play c4 later otherwise black exchanges R’s and his K walks into our exposed Q-side. Please keep in mind once black’s K gets to e1 he can reactivate his B via the f1-a6 diagonal. This is something we should keep our eyes on later. That is why we have to keep the option of playing c4. Our primary goal right now is gain activity for our pieces. 29. Ba3 will help us do this.
  4. We combat the h5-4 idea by black with Bd6/e7. We prevent h4 if possible but if not we must be able to recapture on g3 with the B. Although we can use the f-pawn provided we can place our K on f2. The draw is still within our grasp we just have to be careful.

Eric Smith, Republic, MO, USA
I would like to say that the analyses from Alonzo McCaulley was just terrific. I wish all chess endgame books were written like that. I've actually used the way he is thinking in a couple of end-games since reading it, and it really helps clear things up. He should write a book. I think that, as Alonzo wrote, our best option is to go to c5 with our Bishop and block the c-file. Our king is cooling his heels for the rest of the game and the Black king will penetrate to the queenside after the rooks come off the board. However, with the bishop on c5, I think we can hold the queenside together, even if we end up shedding a pawn. Uhh, just do what Alonzo tells us to do!

Tansel Turgut, Turkey
Of course the position is seemingly close to a draw, but white has to be very careful..This is not an easy draw at all! One important point is missing: after Re3, g4 pawn formations, the ending after a rook exchange may be winning for black! (especially after a move like b4 for white, when there is no pawn break for white, The black king can enter from e4 to d3, and win by zungzwang)Black can combine this threat with pawn break threats (a5, etc) then when the pawn formation (if ever) is fixed, will try to exchange the rooks and win the ending with his king vs the bishop.. Black can torture white in this position.. This is a position that computers will be useless..The GM's draw refusal is right.. Black has an advantage here. Play carefully!

Sébastien, Paris
Getting a draw will not be an easy task. Many thanks to Alonzo, who's comments are really helpful to build a common end-game strategy. One additional comment however : We need to be cautious about an exchange of rooks, which could be followed by an infiltration of the black king by f5-e4-d3, with no way to stop him. For the time being, having our rook on e5 and our bishop on a3-c5 is probably the only efficient deterrent : an exchange of rooks would create a white passed pawn on e5, protected then by our bishop on d6, thus a bad option for black.

Dennis Cesar Caluban, Salmiyah, Kuwait
White's strategy now is to keep the position closed to limit activity of the Black Rook. At some points Black will be obliged to trade it to White's Rook then White can hold the draw by using the Bishop protect the pawns from the Black King. 28. Ba3 is preparation for Bc5 defending against Black's... Rc8 in all variations. Bc5 will also protect Black's ... axb4 trying to open up the position. Try it!

Mel Burt, Glasgow, Scotland
White still has the draw in hand if he avoids Black's tricks. As Alonzo McCaulley points out, Black can get an advantage by advancing his king along the white squares to the queenside to attack White’s pawns. Black can also win if White allows the queenside files to be opened up and Black has various clever moves with his rook to achieve that. Ideally White would like the queenside solidly closed behind his bishop and an active rook restraining Black from swapping rooks. However black can force the exchange of rooks either on e8, e5 or even g7.

The best and sufficient course I can see for White (Line A below)is to activate his Bishop with Ba3 and Bc5, carefully close the queenside and then only allow the rook exchange (on e5) after Black has either conceded loss of his d-pawn or is unable to immediately capture White’s pawn on e5 after dxe. Once White has that passed pawn he can easily draw by moving his Bishop between d6 and b8 as Black’s king cannot advance.

If White lets Black put his king on f6 when rooks are exchanged then White will not get a passed pawn and Black can win by the very clever maneuver (Line B) of advancing his king to the queenside till White’s bishop runs out of moves and then playing Bg2!! which puts White in zugswang, forcing him to play h4. After Black plays gxh he brings his king across to e2 and forces White to move away from the f-pawn by playing h2+. Black then wins by queening his f-pawn as White can’t bring his Bishop back in time. Really neat!

Line A
29. Ba3 a5 (to threaten Q-side swaps) 30.Bc5 a4 31. bxabxa 32.a3 Rb8 33.Bb4 Kf7 34. Re7+ Kf6! 35.Re5 Rb6 36.Be7+ (to get king away from f6) Kf7 37.Bb4 Re6 38.Ba5! Rxe5 39.dxe Ke6 40.Bd6 drawn ? - ?(If 38…Kf6 39.Bd8+ forces the king back )

Line B
29.Ba3 Kf7 30.Re7+ Kf6 31.Bc5 Kf7 32. a3? Re8 33.Rxe8 Kxe8 34.a4 bxa 35.bxa Kf7 36.Bb4 Ke6 37.Bc5 Kf5 38.Bb4 Ke4 39.Bc5 Kd3 40.Bb4 Kc4 41.a5 Bg2!! 42.h4 gxh ep 43.Kh2 Kd3 44.Kg1 Ke2 45.c4 h2+ 46.Kxh2 Kxf2 47.c5 Bf1 48.c6 Bb5 49.c7 Bd7 wins 0-1 However Black’s win hangs by a thread in this line and there may be ways for White to avoid zugwangon the queenside and draw in this line

Mark Zimmerman Hutchinson, Kansas, USA
Ba3, followed by Bc5, b4 and a3 looks like it should draw for White by locking up the Queenside. However, Black still has his h pawn, and when he pushes it up the board it will cause some problems for White since the White rook is chained to the e file for the foreseeable future. But, with accurate play, it looks as though White should still get the draw in the end.

Arvin Juntereal, Philadelphia, PA
29.Ba3. The bishop move is the right move in this position. As I have mentioned in my previous commentary, Black plans to activate his king and either opt for a rook exchange or play an attack down the h file. This move is a preparatory move, so that when he chooses to activate his king we can at some point play Re7, checking the Black king. If he opts for a rook exchange (by playing Re8), we can play Re5 and let Black take on e5.We should not fear an exchange of rooks, because if this ever happens, we will have a passed pawn that can be protected by the bishop. In this case, we will be playing with an extra bishop plus a passed pawn, whereas Black is left with only an active king. But his king is tied to the defense because if it moves away from the pawn, the passed pawn is ready to roll. I believe that a draw is inevitable in this case.

He can also opt to retain the rook and push his queenside pawns, with the purpose of opening lines for his rook. We should not allow any line opening for his rook. If we can prevent this, then I can say that it is a draw. Let us play 29.Ba3 first and see what the grandmaster is planning to do.

Andrew Powell, Ashland, Oregon, USA
29. Ba3 is the move, accompanied by a draw offer. This position is a dead draw. There is no way that either side can make progress. I don't know why people think otherwise. I am a C player and even I know that this is a draw. Of course, there are opportunities for each side to go wrong by being too ambitious, but barring any serious errors, this position is 100% drawn. There are only two candidate plans for black to make progress: ...h5-h4 and ...a5, ...b4. The first plan cannot work because , in the worse case, White will recapture with the f pawn, and Black is still without any way to penetrate with the rook. White can also simply play Be7 whenever Black "threatens" ...h4. The exchange of rooks obviously will not help either side, for instance 29. Ba3 h5 30. Be7 Re831. Bg5 Rxe3 32. Bxe3 h4 33. Be7 hxg3 34. hxg3 and an obvious draw. The plan of ...a5 and ...b4 does not work at all, for instance 29. Ba3 a5 30. Bc5 b4 31. cxb4 axb4 32 Bxb4 Rb8 33. Bc5 Ra8 34. a4 and the rook cannot leave the a-file without allowing a5 followed by b4.

Likewise, White has no way to make progress, because the rook cannot leave the e file without allowing black to occupy it and threaten mate, unless white plays Be5. However, c3 would then be vulnerable and Black could play ..Rc8. Therefore, White's best plan is to just put the bishop on c5 and move the rook up and back along the e file.

Ian Finnie, Wellington New Zealand
After Ba3 we should play Bc5. This will then lock up the Q side with no way through for the black Rook. (We must just be a bit careful how we block / exchange pawns when (if) the GM advances his a and b pawns). This will then leave the GM with only the h pawn to advance but I think we can hold the position to a draw. Also we can harass the black king with our rook if the K tries to move down the board (always returning the rook to keep the e file closed of course.

Johan, Copenhagen, Denmark
What a deeply unpleasant position. Having the king locked in like this, with no realistic way of ever getting it out is quite a claustrophobic feeling. In this situation, the only thing to do is think deep and find the plan that prevents black from getting his rook through our lines of defense. I haven't had time enough to think it through, but I think the way to go about it is to place the bishop on a5 if possible - which it probably won't be because black plays Ra8. However, if we place our bishop on c5, I think the position should be reasonably safe. Black will probably try pushing his b-pawn, which we then have to leave. If he takes on c3, the rook will just have time to recapture the pawn and then back to the guarding position on e3. In this situation, if black moves his king to f7 and plays Re8, we can exchange rooks and take the b4 pawn (in all other rook-exchanging situations we should let black take our rook on e3 so our king will be freed. So all in all, I think we can just about scrape the draw - I could be missing something of course. But Ba3 seems absolutely necessary here - any other move allows black to move forward his b- and a-pawns and create the deadly open line to the back rank.

Elmer Dumalo Sangalang, Manila, the Philippines
I was quite disappointed upon learning that the choice of moves for the Uzbek TV Viewers' side strictly follows the democratic process (majority vote wins).This will certainly lead to the defeat of the Uzbek TV Viewers vs the grandmaster. The simple reason is: The majority of the viewers are definitely not as strong as a grandmaster and their collective move choice at any given position is expectedly inferior to that of the grandmaster’s! For that matter, any such contest is loaded in favor of the grandmaster!

James, NY, USA
Comments: It is the only active move, otherwise rc8 is crushing. I do however think Black is winning, a trade of rooks ruins us so Ba3 is hoping for Re7 but of course after Ba3 kf7 will be played and Re7 kf6 will leave black with rd6 to e6 -/+ the whole problem with the position is white pawns on dark squares most relevant the lack of white square control at d3. There is no hope of stalemate or a fortress position since bg2 could force us to an unfavorable move of the h pawn while blacks h pawn serves a good purpose with tempi and a possible break at h4 which may open the h file for the rook and a bg2 rh1 mate. all of my instincts say that white should hold if he takes care now but I find nothing solid. I must not that if we trade rooks, and our b,c,d ps for his b,d place our a pawn on a5 and B on e1- a5 diagonal we will draw, also in a similar situation if we trade rooks and a,b,c ps for a,b and the d5 p ends up on c4 then push the white p to d5 and place B at b4 if k attacks from side prevent this with Bc3 we will have tempi with our king even if bg2 then h4 gives the h2 square, the reason im not confidence in these plans is blacks king will be close enough to prevent us from playing the d pawn to d5 which is essential.

Michael Jones, Long Sutton
I think the best plan is to leave the rook on e3, it is well placed there to prevent the black rook penetrating on the open file. The bishop is heading for c5 where it will block any attack on c3. We can then put pawns on a3 and b4 and establish a fortress which black (I think) cannot break: if he plays his rook to e8, supported by the king, we don't have to play Rxe8+, but let him exchange if he wants to: ... Rxe3 fxe3 and our king can escape from prison via f2. I think the game will be drawn but I salute Yuldashev for deciding to test our endgame technique rather than calling it off just when things are getting interesting! Thanks again to him and to Jamshid for giving us humble patzers this opportunity to play a GM!

John, Crooks, Stilwell, KS USA
This move is needed now as pointed out by several people. The Bishop needs to become active to help in keeping the Black King at bay. It is true that Black now has a draw in hand. He can just move his King back and forth and there is nothing that we can do to make progress. As long as Black defends the d5 pawn with his rook, White's rook cannot do anything productive. If White moves the rook from the e-file, to grab the a-pawn for instance, then Black immediately wins by jumping on the e-file himself. But it is hard for me to see where Black can make progress either. With the Bishop on a3, White has recourse to the move Re7 in certain lines which limits Black's ability to truly generate any counter play. Since Black cannot lose, then I can see his playing on to see if we will make a mistake. But I am sure the Chessbase audience is up to the challenge.

Matthew McKenna, Monaghan Ireland
If we allow black to open a file on the queenside we may as well resign now. Ba3 not only prevents b4 (at least for now) it also allows to play Bc5 later to shield our weak c pawn. If we can succeed in blocking he queenside I think we have a chance. But we'll need to play very accurately from now on.

Xinyu Cao, Brisbane
Since black's bishop is stuck on h3 forever, white is up a bishop and pawn, and at least a draw is forced. since the white rook block black king to go to queen side and also white is a pawn up on queen side, the back rank can not be a problem unless any of the pawn falls, which is also very difficult to achieve on black side.(plus three of the back rank square can be covered by the bishop). Exchange the rook only allow white to draw easily, since bishop on b4 will cover up all white pawns after pawn h4. The only reasonable try might be push of h pawn so, the bishop must move to prevent h pawn too. That is all I see on this game. May it be a nice draw game.

Barry Nash, Toronto, Canada
White has played well up until this point and although black has no losing chances, white would have to play below 1600 to lose this one. What does white need to do in order to hold the draw? He needs to get in c4 after the rooks come off the board and before black's king can get to d3.If white sacrifices a pawn (with rooks removed) to establish a passed and protected d pawn, black's king can not make any headway (passed white's 4th rank). What can black try? He can move up his "h" pawn, hope that white will allow the opening of the "h" file and mate white on h1 with his rook (after ...Bg2). He can try to open the "c" file but white can block with Bc5. The basic problem that black has is that he can only exchange his rook as far forward as "e6" and this is not enough to stop white's "c4" to make his "d" pawn passed and protected. After this, the players can shake hands!

Jesse Cohen, Longmont, United States of America
First of all you must take notice that if the rooks come off the board the black wins. i really don't see anyway that white can exchange them off favorably. blacks plan is simply kf7 and re8 where upon the rooks will come off the black king unchallenged and happily comes in on the light squares f5-e4-d3 the queen side pawns go and the game is over. which leads me to the conclusion that the e file MUST be blocked. the only clear way i can see to do this is ba3-d6-e5. so lets take a look. ba3 kf7 and black continues his plan of re8 but d6 is covered sadly. the only move that looks playable is re7+. now either the king can go to a square that doesn't guard e8 so that the rook can challenge trade and win. or he can go to f8 where upon any rook move is a check. so kf6 looks the most logical. after which we can simply retreat with re3 where be7+ lies and if he moves the rook off of the d file bd6-e5 occurs and white is happy. so i am predicting the correct sequence to continue this will be ba3 kf7 re7+ kf6 i could stop here but i would like to look ahead and see how i can get to e5 anyways. so if bf8 is tried with the idea of bh6-f4-e5...however i am not sure about leaving the a3-f8 diagonal because black will do just about anything to open any line on the queen side with b4 or a4 and i think the bishop needs to be there for that. in conclusion ba3 kf7 re7+ kf6 re3 rd7=. this was done without any computer aid in case you were wondering.

Srinath, Pune, India
Hi! You're doing a great job, Jamshid. Thanks for being so regular and perfect in conducting this game.
This is my first mail to you, I haven't mailed before because the few candidate moves all seemed ok, and the best one could usually be chosen using a computer program, and more importantly, I didn't want to take the risk of suggesting a bad move. But now I feel that silicon is useless in this position. Long-term planning is what is required, and since I'm not that good at that, I decided to try my hand now... Amazing position. White is a pawn up, but has to defend tenaciously now. I personally feel White should play for the draw, unless a winning plan is clear, which currently isn't the case... White's main problem, nay, liability, is the K, not in that its inactive, but in that the K is tying down the R. As I see it (after reading the excellent other messages you put on the page), White should have no problem in holding the draw. As is clear, White mustn't allow opening of lines. This White can apparently easily achieve.

No lines can be opened on the K-side (see note 4, though).

  1. If Black plays a5, then White plays b4. If black exchanges pawns (...a5, b4 axb4, cxb4) then White plays a3, and then follows the black rook wherever it goes on the 3 open files. Rc8 is met by Rc3, and Re8 by Re3. Rook exchange draws easily (see note 3).
  2. Black K cannot cross over to Q-side as long as we fix White rook on e3 or c3. Unless of course black exchanges rooks, and then it's a dead draw. This is because once rooks are exchanged, White can play c4. If Black takes the offered pawn, White shuttles bishop between say b2 and c3, and Black K cannot attack Q-side pawns because of passed e4. If Black doesn't take the pawn, White plays c5 with a protected passed pawn. Then it's a totally dead draw.
  3. If ever Black plays h7-h5-h4, White should take gxh4. This seems to me to be the only way Black can directly play for a win. If Black then plays g3, White should ignore the pawn. g3 is only effective when Black's rook is on the f-file (to support the push f2 if White takes fxg3). In this case, White should arrange so White R is on c3, and then, to g3, reply Bc1. (hxg3 is too risky, and might lose along the h-file). Black has no reasonable way to play for a win, as now White will make a sort of a fortress playing Be3.
  4. Positions after ...fxg2, Kxf2 appear to be drawn, as White can block both e and c files with Rc3 and Be3 (supported by Kf2).

I also cannot see any position where Black can effectively sac an exchange. So, according to me, as I feel I've looked at all possibilities, White can hold the draw. Thus, White's current plan should be to do nothing, so he should shuttle the bishop between a1 and b2 (and maybe also c1 ;) ) Ba1 just looks like a study sort of a move. I haven't been able to spot any winning plan for White. I suggest we see what Black's plan is, and defuse it properly. It will be more fun if the next draw offer is made by the GM, indicating that we deserve it!
The only move White should absolutely never ever play is, in my opinion, Kh1, which is not only unnecessary, but also lets out the Bh3. Then I'm sure defense will become very difficult, if not impossible.
White can also play more actively with getting his Bishop to c5 etc... but I don't see any use in doing so. White might need his Bishop to defend in some lines, as in note 4. One other thing, is it against the rules for you to display the suggestions every 2/3 days, so that other people can benefit from other suggestions? It will be like everyone discussing and then playing a move. Also, maybe then a person could change/withdraw his suggestion after reading other messages. This will definitely increase the already tremendous amount of work you're doing, but also make it a better game.

PS: My sincerest apologies if I've made any stupid comments. I'm just an amateur trying to have fun.

Timothy, Chou, New York, USA
WE ARE NOT LOSING!!! However, black has the advantage of K/R vs. B/R. Contrary to what one of the readers said last week, we do NOT, under any circumstances, want to trade off rooks. White's goals: Our only chance of drawing (winning is out of the question- we have no way of activating our king) is to blockade on the dark squares. After b4, a3, and an eventual Bd3, white can just shuffle his rook around the back rank.
Black's goals: Seize control of the e-file because an exchange of rooks would allow black's king to wipe out white's queenside via e4. Alternatively, he could try to open lines with moves such as b4, creating lots of threats.

My evaluation: This was GM Yuldashev's plan all along- to trap his own bishop, but imprison our king. There is no way we can win, even with an extra pawn, since we have no control of the light squares. White is going to have to play very meticulously in order to draw.

My prediction: We lose. Kudos to GM Yuldashev for putting us in a position that, quite frankly, the average player can't understand. We'll end up self destructing, which is why I'm not suggesting a MOVE, but rather, an IDEA. Blockade on the dark squares, place the bishop on d3, and shuffle the rook around the back rank and prevent the black king from getting to d3.

Meir Lakhovsky, Redmond, WA, USA
I see two plausible plans for black.
a) Rc8 (or just skipping this move and making next few) a5 b4 and breaking through, this would be dangerous since Re2 is not an option and a move like c2 puts us into a lot of trouble. b)Kf7 Re8.

I seem to have a plan to defend both of black's plans. If black replies with a5 then we can play a3 and on black b4 move (If Rc8, then Rxd5 draws after Rc5 and Re5 following black's rook), we can play a3xb4 a5xb4 c3xb4 and we amazingly hold a draw after Rc8 Re1 Rc2 Ba1 Ra2 (Re2 Bc3!!)Bc3, draw. The other plan is Kf7, to which we reply a3 Re8 Rxe8 Kxe8 a4 a)Kd7 a4xb5 a6xb5 Ba3 followed by Bb4 and draw since black can't get in b)bxa4 bxa4 Kd7 Ba3 Kc6 Bc4 once again holding black off.

If after Kf7 black still played the other plan it would still stay the same since we can get out of zugzwang with moves like b4-b5-b6 etc.

A note from Jamshid: I am visiting your opponent Saidali Yuldashev on Saturday for an interview both for the TV channel and I really want the interview to be based on your questions, so please, together with your moves and comments, send me any questions of interest to you, anything you would like to know about Saidali and maybe his family, and anything else you want to ask him about.

The game

Uzbek TV+ChessBase Audience – Saidali Yuldashev
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Re4 g5 16.Qe2 f5 17.Bxd5+ cxd5 18.Re6 f4 19.Rxd6 Bg4 20.Qf1 Rae8 21.Nd2 Qxf1+ 22.Nxf1 Re1 23.b3 Bh3 24.Bb2 Rfe8 25.Rd8 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 Rxd8 27.Re1 f3 28.Re3 g4 29.Ba3 Kf7

See you next week!

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