Opening catastrophes

by Jonathan Speelman
10/16/2022 – Leinier Dominguez won his round-7 game in the U.S. Championship after only ten moves. The opening debacle prompted Jon Speelman to locate similar examples both in a book by Yakov Neishtadt and in the database of his own games. And he also remembered to give the solution of the proof game from last week!

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Quick and dirty

[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

Yakov NeishtadtThe opening debacle in the U.S. Championship last week put me in mind of more of the same. When I was a kid, I had a small hardback book of opening traps with a lightish blue cover by Al Horowicz which I tried to find on my shelves but without success. I did locate it fairly quickly though on a site called And in fact it’s called New Traps in the Chess Opening (Faber & Faber 1966) and the dust cover is a slightly darker blue than it was in my mind’s eye. 

I’m sure it’ll turn up eventually, but I did in my search find another rather more serious book of opening disasters, which I’ve been browsing through for today’s column: Win in the Opening by Yakov Neishtadt. It seemed churlish to use too much of his material, so I had a glance at my database of my own games and added a few of them too.

I put them all in the .pgn and have got them as diagrams to solve here (with the numbers corresponding to the games in the database). Of course, I did also remember to give the solution of the proof game I left you with last week. Well done for anybody who solved it or held out until now for the solution. It’s in the .pgn too, and if you’d like a fuller solution then please turn to column 128


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

A Black Repertoire against Offbeat Openings

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.
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siciliov siciliov 10/18/2022 05:36
I'm not surprised with Elshan's games... This is what happens to all the "chess defectors".. you name them...
JNorri JNorri 10/17/2022 01:16
In the World of short proofgames it is the equivalent of 'to be or not to be', so you could argue that no citation is needed. But then you must be sure that your audience is in the know.

All correct proofgames are natural constants, but clearly this is above the threshold, it is an original work, despite it being so short.

Yours Exactproofgamecompositionally,

Joose Norri
Johannes Fischer Johannes Fischer 10/17/2022 10:00
@JNorri @Fritzpa
@JNorri Thanks for writing. The entry for the proof game was corrected and now cites Tibor Orbán.
Fritzpa Fritzpa 10/17/2022 09:28
Apologies for that JNorri. I do always try to cite sources.

I've seen that proof game dozens of times over the years in newspapers for example without attribution so think of it as part of the furniture.

Anyway I've told Chessbase about this and the attribution should change in the column at some stage. (also just changed in my own database for future use.)


JNorri JNorri 10/17/2022 05:59
Allow me to mention this here. In the previous column the most famous short proofgame of them all (4...Kxe8) was given as 'proofgame, 1979'. It is Tibor Orbán, commendation, Die Schwalbe 1976. Please don't do this; it is intellectual property. The author's name can be found with a minimum of effort. If for some reason you are unable to do it, make a clear statement to that effect.