Top 10 reasons to play 1.h3

by ChessBase
12/13/2003 – Toqatni tagi rohat – under patience lies bliss, but in the TV match Uzbekistan + ChessBase vs GM Saidali Yuldashev there is a novelty in the air. Jamshid Begmatov recapitulates the rules of this TV + Internet match, and also quotes many interesting messages he has received. One introduces us to the virtues of an unusual opening.

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Usbek TV audience vs Saidali Yuldashev

By Jamshid Begmatov

Greetings from Uzbekistan!

Once again, I am very pleased to see you all here, either participating in, or just following our game against grandmaster Saidali Yuldashev! This time I think I should start with explaining the rules and procedures of this match, because I am receiving really many messages like ones that follow:

Arsen Matevossian, Burbank, USA
What are the precise rules of this engagement? Once the move is revealed to the GM, how much time does he have to reply? Must he make a move without leaving the board?

Razvan Manea, Bucharest, Romania
I'm a 1400 strength player and it is hard for me to follow up. All that I want to say is that it is impossible for a huge number to vote the same thing without computer. My opinion that this is a cheating. Is hard to believe that all the submitters know exactly Marshall Attack. And then what is the point? Only to propose a move given it by an Opening Database? All my respect for Uzbek GM and all the participants! Warm congratulations from this Europe corner!

Well, to be honest, when Saidali and I started this game on ChessBase, we didn't really think of any specific rules. Neither did Frederic Friedel, thanks to whom the world chess community has this wonderful web-site. We just decided to invite the ChessBase audience to join the game, to which many thousands of you kindly agreed. My personal purposes of this were, first of all, to promote chess, to create an opportunity for people from different nations and cultures, players of different levels, people of various professions, to jointly play a game against a skilled chess professional, a grandmaster. However, I think it is now necessary to explain in detail how the game is played.

Every Friday night I ring the grandmaster and tell him which move has been suggested by the majority. Why Friday night? Because this is the time your submissions actually stop coming in. He has one day to reply, Saturday night is the deadline for him to give me his reply move, as I send the articles with the moves played to ChessBase before Sunday. But so far, he has been replying almost immediately, because the game is still in the theoretical opening he knows very well. Sometimes he is not in the country, in which case I send him the move and receive his reply by email.

There's no limitation for you, the White players, to use computer programs for your analysis, and the grandmaster knows that. I believe that many players do not use computers at all, and those who do use, are not just submitting what their electronic assistant suggests them, they are using it for analysis. A clear proof for that is that hundreds of participants suggested taking the g5 pawn on move 16, which would immediately lose a piece. Would a computer play that? Another rule, which you can read on the submission form, is that the ChessBase voters are expected to submit their moves only once, but unfortunately, some of the players are doing it three, four, and sometimes even six times. Of course, we discard any extra submissions, because they may influence the selection of White's move.

Now let's go back to the game. As I had expected, the overwhelming majority this time suggested moving the Rook to e6 and the grandmaster responded with f4. When I asked him if he was just copying the famous Ponomariov – Anand game from Linares 2002, he said, if not from White, there would be a novelty from the Black pretty soon! We'll see!

Uzbek TV/ChessBase Audiences – 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

While I always receive good number of submissions from Uzbek female players, there are very few, if any, coming from ChessBase audience. There will soon be an article about Uzbek girls playing in the match, which I hope will encourage our ChessBase ladies to participate. Oh, you say women are not good at chess? Remember The Legend of Dilaram?

Even pirates on the high seas do it

Antoaneta Stefanova from Bulgaria, who won the European women's championship last year and plays for the Bulgarian men's team, next to Topalov and Georgiv.

More pictures documenting women in chess

And of course the most famous chess babe of them all

If you remember, last time I promised to publish a report on an interesting computer tournament. You may have guessed that this was an engine match on my computer, with all the engines playing the opening position we had after 17…cxd5. So, I have four pretty strong engines on my computer: Fritz 8, Fritz 5,32, Crafty 19,01 and Comet B50. The computer has a 1,800 MHz P-IV processor and 512 MB RAM. Time control: 2 hours for 40, 1 hour for 20 moves, and 30 min for the rest of the game. The results of this tournament were somewhat unexpected to me, because in every single engine tournament I had run before, Fritz 8 had taken clear first, sometimes achieving a 100% result. This time it was quite interesting to see it being beaten by its younger brother 5,32 both with black and white. Here's the cross table:

1 Fritz 5.32
2 Comet B50
3 Fritz 8
4 Crafty 19.01

The tournament also brought some other interesting results, which I think will delight all White players. Of 12 games, 9 were won by White, only one was drawn and 2 won by Black. ALL of the games saw 18.Re6 but NONE saw 18…f4 being played. When I told Saidali about it, he just ironically smiled and said - "I am not as strong as any of these engines. I prefer f4, and please give my best regards to my dearest opponents and ask them not to think that I am playing for a boring draw".

Now it's time to look at some of your amazing comments. First comes our faithful reader and player from Morocco.

Ahmed Kadaoui, Agadir, Morocco
I suggest the move: 18.Re6. Something tells me that almost everyone will suggest 18.Re6 and that GM Yuldashev won't accept the exchange (perhaps because of the material disadvantage). If 18.Re6 is played, then GM Yuldashev can practically force a three repetition draw that could result after the forced variation 18... f4 19. Rxd6 (see Ponomariov vs Anand). BUT WE SHOULDN'T LET THIS GAME END IN A DRAW! So we must find an alternative variation to the one played in this game. We must find a NOVELTY! Notice that White's 28th move is very important in this game (Pono-Anand), because White could have decided to continue the fight with 28.Nd2!?. This could be the novelty that we are searching for… Thank you very much, Jamshid. Thank you for your patience. An Arab proverb says "Patience is as bitter as desert, but its fruits are delectable" PS: Another time, please excuse my bad English (it isn't my mother language).

Ah, Dear Ahmed. I see you are in a winning mood already! An Uzbek proverb says "Toqatni tagi rohat" which means "Under patience lies bliss". And I hope the novelty will come much sooner than move 28. PS: Your "bad" English actually makes your comments very interesting and exotic. Thank you!

Another friend of ours came up with an interesting approach to the issue of development in the opening (oh, you still haven't purchased "The Chess Opening" by Ian Olsen???)

Ian Olsen, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan

I thought you might like my Top 10 Reasons why 1.h3 is the greatest opening move ever conceived:

  1. It opens up the h2 square for the development of the king rook, where it would control black's 7th rank, defending against a rook invasion on this rank later on in the game.
  2. It carries a threat: 2.h4, 3.h5, 4.h6, 5.hxg7, 6.gxh8
  3. It prevents black's threat: 1…h5, 2…h4, 3…h3, 4….hxg2, 5…gxh1.
  4. Your opponent's more traditional view of opening theory will lead him to believe that 1.h3 indicates that you are a chess moron, and will play much more carelessly.
  5. It immediately ruins your ideal pawn formation for kingside castling, so you don't have to worry and fret about it for the rest of the game.
  6. It just feels right.
  7. If you move subtly, weaker opponents expecting something like 1.e4 or 1.d4 might not even realize that you moved, and they will let precious time on their clocks tick away.
  8. It is creative: moves like 1.e4 are such clichés.
  9. It virtually gives you the black pieces, helping to limit the amount of opening theory you need to know (since you are always playing as if you have black). Also, black is cool.
  10. Playing 1.h3 is like saying "I don't need the advantage of moving first to beat you". The psychological advantage is enormous. Staying with this line of thinking, playing 2.a3 is like saying "I don't need a second move to beat you either". Putting your queen in the line of fire is like saying "I don't even need my queen to beat you" (or "I am stupid" depending on your opponent reads it), and your opponent will be confused and afraid. Stripping away all of your defenses from your king is like saying "My king is strong. He's a super-king. He will march out and destroy everything in his path." At this point all but the bravest opponents will resign.

Wayne Mendryk, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
We have some definite worries in this position. With three of our pieces yet to be developed, and the threat of a back-rank checkmate,our play must be precise.We must be wary of the threat of his advance of his f-pawn to f4 with the threat of ...f3, then ...Qg2 checkmate. We also must cover the e1 square in the future to prevent his Rook and Queen from checkmating our king. Black's activity gives him some compensation for the material he is down. Is it this sort of position, in which Black has all of this activity, which is the reason that Kasparov does not allow an opponent to play the Marshall Attack against him? In the top levels of chess, the player of the White side has not faired well in recent years. For instance, Anand defeated Leko using the Marshall at Cap. D'Agde earlier in the year (a rapid event), Vijayalakshmi defeated Deshmukh in the 2003 Commonwealth Chess Championships on the Black side of a Marshall, and Grischuk defeated Smirin (in 22 moves!) playing Black in the 2001 EU Cup. GM Michael Adams has defeated Ivanchuk, Kotronias, DeFirmian, Judith Polgar, and Topalov using the Marshall. Spassky used the Marshall three times against Tal in their Candidates Final match of 1965 (all three games were drawn).

Horacio Hernandez, Mexico City, Mexico
Black can't win the exchange after Re6 because Bxe6 Qxe6+ loses a bishop for black. In fact, after this move, Black must think how to protect its black bishop. Since it doesn't have a lot of space, it can only retreat to b8; White's next move is Bxg5, after which Black is against the ropes and White is building a dangerous two-piece attack vs the black king. After this, Black will need precise defense if it doesn't want to lose more material. Eventually, White will develop the rest of its pieces and have an enormous advantage, and we ChessBase readers, along with the Uzbek audience, will win the game!

Mauricio, Lib?rio, Sao Carlos, Brazil
18.Re8. It seems a forced move. I am sure that the Re6 gives some advantage for Black. The pressure on the last rank could be more useful. Sorry if I am wrong. I'm just trying to learn more about the position. Because of her beauty too.

Gary Ceb, Holland
Thanks for this marvelous opportunity to play a GM! I agree that a lot of beginners play this game, but I think that's the unique thing about this all! And I'd say, if you don't like this, then don't play the game at all! I am an average player myself, and I just love to study chess. For this I have chosen for Re6, as this is the most 'tactical' move right now.

Michael Morris, Sydney Australia
18.Re6. Seems strange but the rook is actually safe while en prise! If 18..Bxe6 19.Qxe6 then white will have bagged blacks 2 bishops advantage, have a material edge (2 minor pieces for the rook) and a controlling centre. However, we mustn't be so optimistic! We are facing a GM here, so we will have to wait and see what our learned friend will do. Come on Chessbase + Uzbek

Jonas Lindsten, Haugesund, Norway
18.Re6. White better do something with that Rook, and I don't see anything else that's better. Re3 seems to passive and blocks the path for the bishop. I'm only a weekend player, so my opinion might not be worth so much.. Thanks for an interesting game!

Dennis Cesar Caluban, Salmiyah, Kuwait
18. Re6. This is the only reasonable (forced) move in this position. It is now getting clear, based on several postings at ChessBase website, that Uzbekistan is indeed a beautiful country.

Indeed, it's a wonderful country, and all its historical places and its people's hospitability is something beyond words!

Now, before I say good bye, I would like to ask all our readers to enter their valid email addresses, which we will never give out to any third parties, and enter their submissions only once. Thank you.

See you next week!

Jamshid Begmatov

I was born in 1974 in Andizhan, easternmost city of Uzbekistan, into a family of university teachers. Nothing significant happened during my school years except, maybe, that I learnt to smoke, drink beer and vodka, and others useless things. But undoubtedly, one positive thing I gained from school is the knowledge that then allowed me to enter university, in the English Language Faculty. However, after completing the first year, I came to a conclusion that there was nothing left for me to study at this faculty, and I decided to change my field of study. In 1992 I entered the University of Istanbul, International Economy. Then, in 1994, for reasons unknown to me, almost all Uzbek students studying in Turkey were drawn back to Uzbekistan and placed in different local universities. So I had to transfer to Tashkent University of Economics, International Economic Relations, from which I graduated in 1997.

How do you think heavy rain can drastically change someone's life? That's exactly what happened to me in 1997 summer. I just went out to have an evening walk in the fresh air when it suddenly started raining. Well, that was a lucky evening, because there was a pretty girl walking by near me and she had an umbrella. I politely asked her to share her umbrella as I was getting wet through to my bones. She agreed. I'm sure you can guess the end of the story. Today she is my wife, and we have two nice children, both boys! My elder son is five and is already learning to play chess.

After graduation I tried several jobs as a civil servant, wasn't quite happy though. Then I just accidentally happened to participate in the Soros Foundation's competition for English-Uzbek translation of a university textbook on Sociology, which I won. I translated several books since, including Economics, Financial Management, Economics Teacher's Guide etc. At the present I work as an interpreter for Cambridge Education Consultants project in Tashkent. However, I view myself as an economist and since last year I'm conducting my PhD research in Economics. My thesis is "Economic Globalization and Its Impact on Free Trade Issues in Uzbekistan".

As a chess player I am not that strong, but I really love this game. My Elo rating is 2150 (according to Fritz 6). As I have no human opponents available when I have time, I love playing correspondence chess via email. Currently I have a number of opponents throughout the world and would be delighted to play some email games with ChessBase readers too. Write to me if you are interested (

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