Simul and lectures by Nigel Short

11/24/2010 – Last week Nigel Short, the former World Championship challenger, visited the Ottawa RA Chess Club in Canada to give a lecture and play a simul. The jury is out on which was the more entertaining. John Upper summarizes the hightlights of the former and provides us with a number of interesting positions from the latter. Judge for yourself.

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Simul and Lectures by GM Nigel Short

Report from Ottawa by John Upper / photos and videos by Tim Bouma

Last Thursday GM Nigel Short played 29 opponents at the RA Chess Club, scoring 23 wins, six draws and zero losses.

On Saturday and Sunday Short lectured on his successful World Championship Candidates matches against Boris Gelfand and Anatoly Karpov, the latter of which made Short the first player other than Kasparov to defeat Karpov in a match.

Among the lecture highlights:

  • hearing the Budapest (g1 vs Karpov) described as a “condom” opening (use it once and throw it away);
  • hearing the long-time French Defence aficionado's only partly tongue-in-cheek criticism of Black’s Bf5 in the advance Caro-Kann as ‘stupidly misplaced when it should be back on c8 where it is safely protected’;
  • watching Canadians politely stifle their skepticism when the famously proud Englishman claimed to have been attracted (?!) to cricket when watching his national team play Test Matches in the late 20th century;
  • being reminded that having a super-GM rating doesn’t protect you from playing bad chess. Short said, “I played half-a-dozen pretty stupid moves”, “I played like crap”, and “This was complete rubbish”... and that was just about his play in game two vs Karpov.

Most interesting was studying the games as part of entire matches. When it comes to older tournaments and matches I know I’m not the only player who normally just looks at the most exciting games or the ones which overlap my opening repertoire. The result is that opening choices seem insignificant and bad moves are inexplicable.

But seeing the games a parts of longer contests changes this. Here are two examples. In the sixth game of their match Karpov blundered (26...Qxd3??). Seeing this as an isolated move in one game makes it seem like a fluke. But seeing that move as part of a match shows it in a completely different light: in games two and four Karpov was under pressure as Black because Short steered him into defending pawn structures resembling the Advance French, which was never part of Karpov’s repertoire; so when Karpov switched to the Closed Spanish in game six and still found White getting the upper hand he must have felt that his Black defences were cracking. Now the bad move doesn’t seem to come from nowhere, but from several games of constant pressure.

A second example: trailing 3½-1½ Gelfand chose the anaemic 5.e3 against Short’s QGD... and won! Unless you look at match games two and four, and know something about the two players’ repertoires, you can’t understand why Short considers this a very clever opening choice by Gelfand, and why Short played so poorly.


Nigel Short with youthful fans

Highlights from the simul

Short,Nigel - Kuttner,Simon [B31]
Nigel Short simul RA Centre Ottawa (24), 18.11.2010

Black had played well and is in no way worse, but his next move invites fireworks, and Nigel has the wick. 23...Nd7 24.Nxg6!! Kxg6 25.Qh5+ Kh7 26.Rxe6 fxe6 27.Qf7+ Kh8 28.Rxe6 Nf6 29.Nf5 Rg8 30.Nxe7 Qf4 31.Rxf6 Qc1+ 32.Kh2 Qg5 33.Ng6+ 1-0.

Short,Nigel - Murray,Adam [E30]
Nigel Short simul RA Centre Ottawa (27), 18.11.2010

51.Rb7 Rd8 52.Rxa7 Rc8 53.Rg7+!! Nigel was giving his toothiest grin after this move (53...Bxg7 54.Ne7++–). 1-0.

Short,Nigel - Palsson,Halldor Peter [C18]
Nigel Short simul RA Centre Ottawa (9), 18.11.2010

Black has fought White to a stand-still, and with his next moves looks to close all White's active possibilities. But Short finds ways to pose Black more questions. 31...Ng6 32.Rxf5! Bxf5 33.Rxf5 Nce7 34.Rf2 Kc6 35.Ng4! Rh7 36.Rf6+ Kc7 37.Nh6 Rf8 38.Qc1 a5?! 39.e6 b4 40.axb4 axb4 41.cxb4 c3 42.exf7 Qxb4 43.Qe3± Qa3 44.Qe6+- Qb4 45.Rxg6 Nxg6 46.Qxg6 Qxd4+ 47.Kh1 Qe5 48.Bxh4 1-0.

Short,Nigel - Arsenault,Peter [C93]
Nigel Short simul RA Centre Ottawa (10), 18.11.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 h6 12.Nf1 Bf8 13.d5 Ne7 14.N3h2 Ng6 15.Ng3 Nf4 16.Qf3 g5 17.Nf5 Bc8 18.g3?! Bxf5! 19.exf5 e4! 20.Qd1 Nd3³ 21.Re3 Qd7 22.g4 Bg7 23.Nf1 Re5 24.Rxd3!? exd3 25.Qxd3 Re1 26.Rb1 Rae8 27.Be3 Rxb1 28.Qxb1

Black's up an exchange for a pawn and just needs to open lines for his Rooks (maybe ...a5-a4-a3). In the game he doesn't come up with a plan, and GM Short just improves his position until a winning combo appears. 28...Ne4 29.Bc2 Qe7 30.Qd1 Qe5 31.a3 Bf6 32.Nh2 Nc5 33.Nf3 Qe7 34.Kg2 Qd7 35.h4 Ne4 36.hxg5 Nxg5 37.Qh1 Kg7 38.Qc1 Qe7 39.Qd2 Rh8 40.Nd4 Ne4 41.Qe2 Re8??

42.Nc6! Qd7 43.Bxe4. 43.Bxe4 Rxe4 44.Bxh6+ Kxh6 45.Qxe4 White's just up two pawns. 1-0.

Short,Nigel - Upper,John [D18]
Nigel Short simul RA Centre Ottawa (14), 18.11.2010
This was the only game where Short was not only clearly worse, but losing. But "losing" is not "lost". 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 Bg6 10.e4 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nxe4. Nigel isn't a 1.d4 player, so I chose the sharpest and least-well-known line against him. 12.Ba3 Qc7 13.Rfe1 0-0-0 14.Qb2 Nb6 15.Bb3 Nd5 16.c4 Nf4 17.Rad1 Nd6 18.Ne5 f6 19.Nxg6 hxg6 20.g3 Nf5! 21.d5 Nh3+ 22.Kg2 Nf4+ Not to force a perpetual, but just to gain more time to think. 23.Kf3 Rh3 [23...g5! 24.gxf4 Qxf4+ 25.Ke2 exd5-+]

24.dxe6? [24.d6 Nxd6 25.Qd4! Nf7 26.Qxf4 Ng5+ 27.Kg4 e5 28.Qxg5! (28.Qe3 Rxd1 29.Rxd1 Qf7-+) 28...Rxg3+ 29.hxg3 fxg5 unclear] 24...Nh4+! Black has lots of ways to win, but skillfully dodges through the minefield of mating continuations and forces the grandmaster to win. 25.Ke4 Nfg2? 25...f5+ 26.Ke3 Nhg2+ 27.Kf3 g5! 28.Qxg7 (28.Bd6 g4#; 28.Rxd8+ Qxd8 29.Qxg7 Qd3+ 30.Re3 Ne1#) 28...Nh4+ 29.Ke3 Qe5+!! 30.Qxe5 Nhg2+ 31.Kf3 g4#.

26.Rxd8+ Qxd8 27.e7 f5+ 28.Ke5 Nf3+ 29.Ke6 Qg8+. 29...Qd7+-+ 30.Kf7 Ng5+! 31.Kxg6 (31.Kxg7 Qe8! 32.Kf6 (32.Qf6 Rh7#) 32...Qf7+ 33.Kxg5 Rh5#) 31...Qe8+! 32.Kxf5 (32.Kxg7 Qf7#; 32.Kxg5 Qh5#) 32...Qf7+ 33.Kxg5 (33.Ke5 Qf6#) 33...Qh5#. 29...Ng5+ 30.Ke5 Nf3+ 31.Ke6 would have made sense, to give me more time to calculate] 30.Kd6

30...Ngxe1?? 30...Qe8-+ 31.Re2 Nf4!-+ (31...Qd7+ 32.Kc5 b6+ 33.Kb4 c5+ 34.Kc3 Rh8) …32.gxf4 Qd7+ 33.Kc5 b6+ 34.Kb4 a5+ 35.Kc3 Ne1+ 36.Re3 Rxe3+ 37.fxe3 Qd3#. 31.c5! And Black can resign. I've forced his king forward and now it helps promote his Pe7. 31...Qe8 32.Be6+ Kb8 33.Bd7 Nd3 34.Bxe8 Nxb2 35.Bxb2 Nd2 36.Bxg7 Ne4+ 37.Ke5 1-0.

Short,Nigel - Pacey,Kevin [C19]
Nigel Short simul RA Centre Ottawa (2), 18.11.2010
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Nf3 b6! Here, for the first time in the evening, Nigel actually stopped at a board and had a thought. 7...Ne7 is three-times more popular, but 7...b6 scores better. 8.a4 h6 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bd3 Nc6 11.0-0 Nge7 12.Re1 c4 13.Bf1 0-0-0 14.Ba3 Rde8 15.g3 Nf5 16.Bh3 g6 17.Qd2 Na5 18.Bb4 Nc6 19.a5 b5 20.Bxf5 Nxb4 21.Bxg6 fxg6 22.cxb4 Ref8.

Computers rate White as clearly better here, but (like many closed French positions), their evaluations are not so reliable. 23.Nh4 Be8 24.f4 Qe7 25.Rf1 g5 26.fxg5 hxg5 27.Nf3 Rf5! 28.Qe3 g4! 29.Nh4 Rxf1+ 30.Rxf1 Qxb4 31.Qg5 Bd7 32.Ng6 Re8 33.Qxg4 Qxa5 34.h4 Qc3 35.h5 a5 36.Nf8 a4 37.Nxd7 Kxd7 38.Rf7+ Kc6 39.Rf6 Kd7 40.Rf7+ ½-½.


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