Romantic king's march in the Silicon era

10/22/2010 – After playing at the Olympiad, and now at home enjoying a much deserved rest, Iranian GM Elshan Moradiabadi, whose interests range from stand-up comedy to Richard Dawkins, commented on his admiration for Nigel Short's romantic opening choice of the Max-Lange in the 5th round against Laurent Fressinet. He shares here his detailed and highly entertaining notes.

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A romantic king march in the Silicon era

By Elshan Moradiabadi

After a tough Olympiad it was time for me to relax. Having achieved our goal there, I felt satisfied spending my gloomy Sunday (actually it was not that gloomy, but I prefer rain to plain clouds!) at home, sitting in front of my laptop and enjoying Skype while sipping my usual cup of coffee and listening to my favourite Ray Charles' song "Unchain My Heart"!

Meanwhile I saw Frederic Friedel of ChessBase online and we started to talk about various things: like global warming and energy demand. Also about some even more important things, such as chess! I told him about my professional observations as a player at the Olympiad, and how much I loved originality in today’s chess, despite the role of the silicon minds. Frederic's response: “If you want to share it, write about it!

Short,Nigel (2690) - Fressinet,Laurent (2718) [C56]
2010 Olympiad Khanty-Mansiysk (5), 25.09.2010 [Elshan Moradiabadi]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d4

The exclamation mark goes for the type of choice in such an important match by Short: the old-fashioned Max Lange! One does not need to check its pioneers: Chigorin and Marshall, both of whom are prominent figures one can study to learn this line – according to Nigel Short himself! I can add one more thing to this professional recommendation: get ready to feel the position by reading "Les Misérables"! Even though it is not exactly here where the essence of the position returns to the enlightment era!

5...exd4. Theory considers Bd4 the safer sortie! I would like to thank Fressinet for this bold decision to enter the field like one of Alexandre Dumas's warriors! One should not forget that Bd4 is not as easy one might deduce from my words. For instance in a recent game in the Schachbundesliga, young Falko Bindrich failed to follow the right continuation and went down against French GM Degraeve! Another romantic player in my opinion! Bindrich is not alone since one of Nigel's countryman, another real expert and high-class player also failed to find the right continuation against Movsesian in Wijk aan Zee in 2009. The expansion of theory in this line could be another reason why Fressinet avoided it. 5...Bxd4 6.Nxd4 Nxd4 7.f4 d6 8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Bg5 Qe7 10.c3 Be6 11.Na3 Nc6?! 1-0 (38 moves) Movsesian,S (2751)-Adams,M (2712)/Wijk aan Zee 2009/CBM 129 - [Movsesian] (11...Bxc4 is considered to be best here: 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.Nxc4 Ne6 e.g 14.Qa4+ (14.Kh1 Qc5 15.Na3 Rg8 16.Rxf6 Nf4 with attack. Anderssen-Fleissig,Vienna 1873) 14...c6 15.Ne3 Rg8 16.Kh1 Nc5 17.Qc2 0-0-0 18.Rad1= Minckwitz-Anderssen,Vienna 1878) 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.fxg7!? This choice is even less rare than the romantic 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.Nce4 (or 11.g4 Qg6) 11...0-0-0 12.g4 Qe5 8...Rg8 9.Bg5 f6!? Instead of going for a safe continuation Fressinet decides to enter the adventurous journey offered by his opponent. 9...Be7 10.Bxe7 Kxe7! 11.Re1+ Be6 is what one can consider a safe continuation for Black in the Max Lange! 10.Re1+ Kf7 11.Bh6! 11.Ne5+ Nxe5 12.Rxe5 Be7 13.Qh5+ Kxg7 would lead to a draw. 11...Kg6 12.Qc1 Qd5 13.Nh4+

13...Kf7?! The French champion had to keep going with his king one more square with13...Kh5! It is a well-known fact that if a king enters the battle he has to go through the heart of the enemy's army! Despite the fact that this is what we consider as a "computer move", strangely something was hitting back of my mind. My grey cells finally came up with Steinitz! 1.e4 e5 2.f4 ef 3.d4 Qh4 4.Ke2 and he was trying to consolidate his center by putting his king on d3! Even with a dubious try there is a trace of truth behind it. If your king won't get mated you can go with it as far as you can! At least Rybka agrees with this! 14.Qd2! a) 14.h3 Bd6 (14...Kxh4? 15.Qd1! Be6

16.Re4+!! Qxe4 17.g3+ Kxh3 18.Qh5+ Qh4 19.Qxh4#) 15.Qd2 Bxh3 16.Nc3 Qa5 17.gxh3 dxc3 18.Qe3

and white is winning here.; b) 14.g3 is a somewhat less effective try after 14...Bh3 15.Qf4 Qd6 16.Qc1 Qd5 17.Bf4 Rxg7 18.Nd2 Rg4 19.Qd1 f5 20.Bxc7 Rc8 21.Bf4 Rd8 22.Bc7 Rd7 23.Bf4 d3 24.c3 Be7 25.Nhf3 Rxf4 26.gxf4 Kh6 Black is dominating and the white position will collapse soon.; 14...Bb4 15.c3 Bd6 16.Re3 (16.cxd4 Qxd4)

16...Bd7 In this messy position Rybka stays cool with a 0.00 evaluation! From a human point of view the position remain unclear despite deep analysis. One single inaccuracy could lead to a catastrophe in such "computer" positions. The only real conclusion I can draw is that aesthetically it is a beautiful position! 14.Nd2?! Understandable but premature. White had to cover the h5 square with 14.Qd1! after which I hardly can see any real counterplay for Black. The white initiative is practically decisive. 14...Qh5! More or less forced. 15.Ne4 Qxh4 16.Nxc5 Kg6 17.Bf4 Rxg7 18.c3 d3 19.b3 b6? The beginning of a series of mistakes and inaccuracies. It seems that here Black has lost the thread. 20.Ne6 Bxe6 21.Rxe6 Ne7 Another tempo loss. 22.Qe3 Re8 23.Qe4+ Kf7 24.g3! White is dominating, and Nigel executes the technical part as expected! 24...d2 25.Qxc4 Kf8 26.Rd1 b5 27.Qe4 Rd8 28.Rxe7! The final blow! 28...Qh5 29.Qe2 Neat and crushing. Black played six moves out of his 29 with his king. Only deep analysis can prove that Black could have held – actually he had to keep on the romantic track with Kh5. When I saw the game I was amazed how impressive such a romantic (nowadays "old-fashioned") line could create such a devastating attack. The game was a great lesson for me. Sometimes my generation (and the next) forget from whom we have inherited ideas in chess. Nowadays I tend to believe that the ideas which come from the early stages of chess development are just as enlightening as anything we produce today. 1-0. [Click to replay]

About the author

Born in Tehran, Iran in 1985, Elshan Moradiabadi learned chess at the age of seven from his father. He became one of Iranian chess’s "New wave" players, which included many talents, some of whom are GMs and teammates. In 2001 he won the Iran Championship with a score of 10.0/11 and a 2712 performance. After entering the Sharif University of Technology, Iran’s top engineering school, to study Chemical Engineering, despite being only rated 2350 at the time, he became an IM and GM within 18 months. This leap included a run of three GM norms in three tournaments in a row in 27 days in 2005.

His interests include books,movies, old songs and music, and stand-up comedy, and his favorite thinkers are Erich Fromm, Sigmund Freud, Alain Badiou, Avram Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins.

Early feedback

Wallace Hannum, New Haven, CT
I just wanted to send a quick "thank you" to ChessBase for publishing Elshan Moradiabadi's interesting article. It has always amused me to check the database when studying an opening and see that someone played it back in 1889. Too many people only think about Fritz analysis or database statistics, and they miss all of the human element in chess. Which is what makes chess great. So, thanks again for reminding people about our rich history and why chess will always be a fundamentally 'human' sport.

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