A chess revolution in Punjab

12/28/2003 – What do you do when you return to your hometown, in the north of India, and discover there is no chess around? One solution is correspondence games. Another is to start building up a chess culture by teaching youngsters. They are thrilled to be playing an Uzbekistan grandmaster in an online game.

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Usbek TV audience vs Saidali Yuldashev

By Jamshid Begmatov

Hello again, dear chess friends!

This week I received a wonderful message and pictures from a chess coach from Punjab, which is in North India, and with great gratitude to the author, I bring it to your attention.

What do you do when you love chess, but have to move to a city without a decent player? Correspondence chess is the obvious answer and I’m playing since 1995 (ICCF rating 2150). Playing correspondence chess helps improve your positional understanding and I have seen noticeable improvement in O.T.B. play as well. But after some time you start missing a human opponent. So the next step is to build a chess culture of your own.

When I came back to my home town (a small border town of Punjab, near Amritsar) to join the business of stone mines, I thought I would turn into stone myself if chess were denied to me. My town is in the extreme of north India, with extreme weather conditions (extremely hot in summers and extremely cold in winters). India is surrounded by water on the three sides and north is the only land route. That is why historically north has suffered innumerable invasions, making north Indians warriors, hard workers and physical. Somehow their warrior attitude has not excelled on the chess board (all the top players are from south). But the girls are more beautiful here and are getting interested in chess as well.

So with this thought I started teaching chess to youngsters. I was concerned that the chess revolution which was sweeping India (a new grandmaster every month) had not touched North India. Although north has seen tremendous increase in interest in recent times and even parents are encouraging children now, that is still nothing compared to south. Chess with old rules, where pawns move only one square is more popular. Most players in north don't know the theory but are very tactical and good in the middlegame. At school it's early days but the progress is very encouraging. They have even started participating in the ongoing battle with the grandmaster Yuldashev online. In all sports the progress is fast at the beginning, but the problems come when you break into the big league. For openings, I’m using "ABC of chess openings" by ChessBase and Fritz7. Complete chess training CD is in the pipeline.

As my observation suggests, players are talented here but somehow are not able to sustain the interest. Cricket is the main game here as it is TV-friendly. I started Chandigarh Chess Association when I was a student and now it's a very active body, and now I’m hoping for a chess grandmaster to arise from this region. – Anirudh Trehan

If you have interesting information and material like above, supported with nice pictures, that you would like to share with all ChessBase readers, please send me a message with a short explanation of your idea and I will contact you back.

Coming back to the game position, personally I was honestly quite surprised to see 21.Nd2 win against 21.Qxh3 and 21.Bd2, although by very few votes. White takes a very critical decision to play for a win by continuing the development instead of trading off the queens, in which case a draw would be the most likely outcome. This position actually caused a major divide in opinions. While many were realistic and thought taking the queens off the board was the only way for White to survive, another lot have been very optimistic and suggested to continue the battle to get a full point. Some also suggested offering Black a draw, one even suggests to resign (posted below). If you want to offer a draw, please type “Draw” in the “I suggest the move” section of the submission form, and as soon as your draw offers make the majority, I will offer it to the grandmaster. But now we continue the game and the grandmaster takes the white queen: 21…Qxf1. Now again, as last week, I thought it would be most expedient if I simply executed 22.Nxf1 for White, which is obviously the one and only move that avoids checkmate, but please drop me a message if you disagree with this approach.

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

Before we start looking at your comments and moves, I would like, once again, to bring my apologies to all chess friends whose comments have not been published so far. Some people are already expressing their anger with that, but believe me, there’s nothing I can do. It’s not an easy job to sort out thousands of submissions every week, and it’s practically impossible to publish all the comments. Again, here’s only a very little selection of them:

Nelson Hernandez, San Francisco, USA
I suggest the move: 21.Nd2. 21. Qxh3 leads to disaster! The most likely continuation: 21...Bh3 22 Bd2 fxg3 23 hxg3 Re2 24 Rh6 Rexf2 25 Na3 Rg2+ 26 Kh1 Rxd2 27 Rxh3 Rff2! 28 Rb1 Kg7 29 g4 Kg6 ...and white's position heading toward the endgame looks untenable! At the very best it's equalized, white up a useless knight while black has control of the board. Qxh3 is a computer evaluation trap and I fear most people will fall for it. You would need a computer that could accurately search 20-25 ply before the evaluation flipped to my suggested move! With 21. Nd2 at least there's some play, and there's the added benefit of the next moves being somewhat forced, making deeper analysis easier. 21...Qxf1 22 Nf1 Re1 23 b3 Bh3 24 Bb2 Rfe8 25 Rd8 Rxf1+ 26 Rxf1 Rxd8 27 Re1 and from that position black has a number of options but white still seems to have the edge, being up a pawn in material with some maneuver room and overall positional parity. Don't let them play Qxh3! It'll ruin the game! The experts will pull their hair out and give up, while the inept won't know what hit them!

Jeroen Neve, The Netherlands
Absolutely brilliant!! (Eating humble pie here :-( ). This is what the GM has in store for us: Qxh3 Bxh3 Bd2 fxg3 hxg3 Re2! f4 Rg2+!! Kh1 Re8!! No better is the defence: Bd2 Qxf1+ Kxf1 fxg3 hxg3 Bh3+ Kg1 and this transposes back into the line above. So, we must play: Nd2 Qxf1+ Nxf1 Re1 b3, and hope for the best.

David Hom, MA, US
Unfortunately, I think this position favors Black! In order to defend the back-rank threat, White must play either Nd2 or Bd2.
If he plays Bd2, then the amazing continuation ...Qxf1+, Kxf1, Bh3+, Kg1, fxg3, hxg3, Re2 forces White to play either f4 or Be3. f4 loses to the brilliant continuation ...Rfe8!! If White plays, say, Rxa6, then ...Rg2+, Kh1, Ree2, Ra8+, Kf7, Ra7+, Kg6, Ra6+, Kf5, Rf6+, Kxf6, fxg5+, Kg6. If white moves his bishop, either Re1# or Re1+, Bg1, Rexg1#. If white moves anything else, Rh2+, Kg1, Reg2+, Kf1, Rh1#
If white doesn't play f2-f4, but plays Be3 instead, then I can't find a forced winning continuation for Black, but a perpetual check is possible by ...Re1+, Kh2, g4, Rxd5, Rf1, Rg5+, Kh8, Bf4 (Threatening Be5, but Black's pressure on f2 is irresistible even if the Bishop continues to guard it from e3), Rxf2+, K(any), Rf1+, K(any), Rf2+ (1/2 - 1/2). If white plays Nd2, then ...Qxf1+, Nxf1, Re1, b3, Rfe8, Bb2, Rxa1, Bxa1, Re1, h4, Rxa1, hxg5, Bh3, gxf4, Bxf1, Rxa6, and it seems that a draw will be the likely outcome. Therefore, I recommend Nd2 as it seems to set Black the toughest problems.

Angelo Mattiello, Veracruz, Mexico
21. Qxh3. Capture first, and then ask!! Since black is getting a really strong attack no matter what we play, we might as well remove his strongest piece. Or am I missing something? GM Yuldashev must have something worked out, but in the meantime we can have some fun.

Naren Wadvana, Middlesex, England
21.Qxh3. The Grandmaster's play has been aggressive, but in this case I believe his play has run out of steam. Black has mating ideas and wants to rip the kingside with fxg3 so it makes sense to remove the Queens. 21.Qxh3 Bxh3 (21.Nd2? f3! is very unpleasant and many chances to go wrong for white) 22.Bd2 fxg3 23.hxg3 Re2 and now this position is far better without the Queens for white. 24.Be3 and now we see white in a better light, it will even be possible to sacrifice the rook on A1 for the sake of development and then whites mass of Queenside pawns will tell.

Wolff Morrow, Dallas, Texas, USA
21. Qxh3. It's no surprise to me that the "big novelty" of 20...Rae8 just happens to be considered the best choice by Fritz as well. Still, this isn't going to be a deciding factor for either side as this game is still headed for the draw. Those that are "optimistic" for white I think are being swooned by computer scoring analysis, which doesn't reveal black's excellent compensation for the piece. Black gets to enter the white kingside and dictate most of white's moves in addition to regaining the lost piece. This is where white must be careful not to blunder away the draw.

Tom Brake, Atlanta, USA
I have fretted over this position. I initially dismissed Nd2 in favor of lines that freed space on the kingside. But after 21. f3 Qxf1+ 22. Kxf1 fxg3! 23. Kg2(the only move) Rxf3, even our silicon friends cannot defend this position. Even 21. Qxh3 Bxh3 22. Bd2 fxg3 23. hxg3 Re2 24. Be3 and white has nothing better than a draw. 24. f4 falls to Rfe8 and white can hardly draw, much less win. But after 21. Nd2 Black appears to have only Qxf1+ or f3 at his disposal. Perhaps the GM has another surprise in store, but both of these lines appear to lead to advantage White. 21. Nd2 f3 22. Qxh3 Bxh3 23. Nxf3 {returning the material} Rxf3 24. Bxg5 Re2 25. Be3 Rxb2 26. Rxd5 += 21. Nd2 Qxf1+ 22. Nxf1 Re1 23. b3 Bh3 24. Bb2 fxg3 25. hxg3 Rfe8 26. Rxd5 {there's that move again} +=. No doubt white will have a long endgame ahead, but I think Nd2 is the only chance for a win.

David Campbell, Glasgow, Scotland
21.Bd2. I think White has a very dangerous position to deal with. Obviously black is threatening mate with Bh3 and Re1 and Bd2 seems the only logical way to parry this threat but black now has a dangerous plan of exchanging on g3 and placing rook on e2 which places f2 under a lot of pressure from the rook pair...

Ken Benton, Albany, GA. USA
21.Qxh3. I agree, Jamshid, that White has to be very careful here. Black's immediate threat is ...Qxf1+,...Bh3+, and...Re1 mate. After 21...Bxh3 22. Bd2 Re2, white may very well have to sac the piece back in order to be able to develop the Queenside.

Walter Paredes, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
I believe white has the advantage both positionally and materially, to materialize that plan the exchange of pieces is necessary starting by QXH3, gradually stoping the illusory blacks pressure on the kingside, it is clear that if black fails in the "attack" he will pay the price since white has tremendous prospects materially speaking.

Alberto Madraazo, Mexico City
I suggest you to resign in the following 4 moves. Face it, you are lost and I think it was a bad idea to get ChessBase readers in this game, because Uzbek audience is the one who should be following the game and what you are doing is intruding their submissions, anyway, this game is quite lost, there is no visible counterplay and either piece, knight or bishop is not good for developing, this way, white pieces get more and more suffocated in their positions, anyway, it's just a 1600 player opinion. Thanks.

Danny Quang, San Francisco, United States of America
21.Qxh3. This move seems to be the most logical move. First, black's most ominous weapon is his queen, so the removal of his queen would lessen the pressure for white. After the capture, we have the forced move 21...Bxh3, then white's 22.Bd2 to prevent the back rank mate. Now black has a few good moves to continue the pressure of the Marshall Attack. The GM can move 22...Re2, to prevent white's knight from developing and maybe double up his rooks to add pressure to mate white. 22...Re7 is possible, but Re2 has more punch. But after 23. Rxd5, the doubling of the rooks don't seem as strong, since 23...Rfe8, white will reply 24. Re5,(24...Re2xe5, 25.dxe5,and 25...Re8xe5) exchanging a rook and giving back the pawn. After the exchange, white can play 26. Na3 to develop the knight. Black's reply will be 26...Re2, and white will move 27. Be1, followed by 27...Rxb2. White can try to return his minor piece by capturing the pawn on b5 and activating his rook. The opposite colored bishop ending seems to be very drawish, unless white has better chances at develop his queenside pieces. Side note: I'm the type of player who does not play gambits often. After playing over this game so far against GM Yuldashev, I feel inspired to play for such an attack, even if it means giving up a minor piece!

Andrew Chapman, Gateshead, England
I suggest the move 21.Nb1-d2. Taking the queen seems to lead to a draw by perpetual check: 1 Qf1xh3 Bg4xh3 2.Bc1-d2 f4Xg3 3.h2xg3 Re8-e2 4.Bd2-e3 Re2-e1+ 5.Kb1-h2 g5-g4, then 6... Re1xBe3 and then the other rook checks on f1 and f2. This knight has to give itself up on f1 or e4 to buy a tempo or two to get the bishop and rook out. I think we could end up a pawn up in an endgame. But it's very complicated.

Michael Jones, Long Sutton, England
21.Bd2. Black has two pawns en prise but now isn't the time to go pawn grabbing. The most important thing is to stop black's attack, and I think this move has the best chance of doing it by defending e1. Possibly white will end up having to put the knight out of play on a3, but I don't think this is a major factor. With the move Bd2 white retains the options of exchanging queens or winning a pawn when it is safe to do so.

Jimenez Ramón, York, U.K.
21.Nd2. I haven't checked this too much, but I really don't like taking the Black queen yet, even though it seems as if taking it would take off lots of pressure from us... I can see things like 21.Qxh3 Re1+ 22. Qf1 { 22. Kg2 Bxh3+ 23. Kxh3 Rxc1 and in my humble opinion the extra piece is not worth it} Rxf1+ 23. Kxf1 Re8 and I really don't like it, even after 24. Bd2... I think we better add some defense to the f1 square by playing the knight, which at the same time gets us some queen side development.

Vijay Kamath, Bangalore, India
21.Qxh3. This position seems difficult for white. It would be great if white can get a draw out of this game! I don't want to bore you with tons of variations, but this is my main line: 21.Qxh3 Bxh3 22.Bd2 fxg3 23.hxg3 Re2 The resulting position is extremely difficult for white. I only see 24.Rh6 as the only defence. Unless you guys pull out a miracle, I've to congratulate Yuldashev on a fine novelty!

Oscar Juntereal, Philadelphia, PA
21.Qxh3. I believe this is the right move here to avoid immediate disaster (Black has trained its big guns against White's King). With the novelty (20...Rae8), White has to be very careful not to overlook Black's coming attack. The move I'm recommending will transpose the game to the famous Ponomariov-Anand game, unless Black has something up his sleeve.

Sebastien, Paris
I suggest the move Bd2. There is no need to force the queens' exchange and weeken the kingside, blacks will probably do it themselves anyway. The key move for whites is Bd2, which prevents Te1, and the bishop itself is now both developped and protected. Anyway we have to defend very accurately now, as any mistake will be deadly, with no second chances. The GM's idea may be to put more pressure on f2 with fxg3 and Re2 after the queens' exchange, but if we defend accurately we should end up with more material, maybe one or two pawns up for the endgame.

Erik Hoofddorp, Holland
21.Qxh3. I think this is the best move, because it has the most solid appearance to me. It gets the queen out of the game, and since we have a material advantage, that can't be a bad thing. With the altenative, Bd2 white has a big attack to deal with. This game begins to look better and better to me. I think we can get the upper-hand in the endgame, if we survive the middlegame.

Eric Smith, Republic, MO, USA
21.Qxh3. The Queen has gotta go! I'm not sure what game the people are playing that say we're a piece up, but our rook is out of play on d6 and can do nothing to help us defend, our queenside pieces haven't even moved, our pawn cover is about to be demolished, and he has his pieces in beautiful positions. Looks to me like we're playing three pieces down. Black cannot lose this game. He always has the bailout draw with the bishop on h3, pawn on g4 and, after clearing the f file with fxg3, perpetual check by a rook (even if he has to sac one rook on f2). If we press too hard, we'll just end up checkmated!!

Kerem Yunus, Izmir, Turkey
Qxh3! absolutely. And after Bxh3 we will develop our queenside pieces Bd2 and for a possible fxg3 the continuation will be simply hxg3 and etc... I can't understand what kind of GM play is this. I think this bishop sacrifice, unless you don't follow the order of Pono-Anand game, is very childish. And in a few moves, black's attack will be very stagnant and black's game is lost. As far as I have analysed the position, I don't see any sharp combinations which takes back the material sacrificed here. Okay, I admit that black's position ( except his material loss) is very solid... But after?... We will be one "whole" night up, and his queenside pawns are pathetic... So this guy's 2500?

John Crooks, Stilwell, Kansas USA
21.Nd2. The line Qxh3, Bxh3, Bd2 leads right back into Pono-Anand. The line Bd2 gives Black the option of doing the same or possibly deviating after fxg3 hxg3. The only move that truly leads to something differnt by force is Nd2. This was not really an option in the prior game because Anand traded immediately on f1. Now on Qxf1 Nxf1 and there is time to get in b3 and Bd2 if Black tries for Re1 and Bh3. So I think Black will have to try Qh5 to maintain the pressure. But here Rxd5 appears to hold things together.
I hope that the rest of the world goes in for Nd2 as well, as I REALLY want to see what our GM has up his sleeve in response. The other lines clearly lead no where unless the GM is in the mood to try for more. Here, it would be the rest of the world that is "in the mood" to try for a win!

Alonzo McCaulley, Antelope, Ca USA
I think people are missing the point of black's play. A very serious attack down the f-file and soon on the 2nd rank is being built.
Note: black threatens 21...Qxf1+ 22. Kxf1 Bh3+ 23. Kg1 Re1# (mate) Since 21. Bd2 looks forced keep in mind that black will most likely play 21...Re2! targeting f2 and making fxg3 a Nightmare on g3!:) I suggest we prepare to give up the R on d8 to lure the R off the f-file and capture on f4. The we pray we can find the moves to survive. In case the sequence is unclear I am suggesting the following: 21. Bd2 Re2 22. Rd8!? (he may not have found this) Rxd8 23. gxf4 although I think we may be busted.

Dave Clarke, Oregon, USA
What do we teach school age players? Take loose pieces and, if ahead by significant material, exchange pieces (especially the strongest attacking piece). But the GM is going to bring his rooks down on our King while we extricate our Queenside.

Thank you all for your analysis and comments! My personal opinion here is that White is still under some pressure, but the position is quite playable. It would be wonderful if chess fans could beat a grandmaster! Just for your information, Saidali’s current FIDE rating is 2523.

Can I also take this opportunity to wish you all a happiest New Year full of chess!

See you next week.
Jamshid.


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