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May 19, 2012

Sat. Nite Chess Thread 05-19-2012 [OregonMuse]

Good evening fellow chess nerds, it's time once again for the Saturday Nite AoSHQ Chess Thread.

Annotate Like A Moron

I dug this out from an old copy of Chess Chow. Is Chess Chow even still around anymore? I think not. Anyway, Chess Chow was IM Joel Benjamin's chess periodical from the early 90s, and my impression is that it was mainly an East Coast thing. Tt had a regular column called "Chess Agony" written by GM Michael Wilder, who was U.S Champion in the 80s and is now practicing law somewhere. Wilder knew how to bring teh funneh. What follows is a game he supposedy played against GM Bent Larsen, who destroyed him, and Wilder's comments are priceless. This was posted on the rec.games.chess newsgroup some years ago, so I doubt I'm violating any copyright laws by re-posting it here.


Having said all that, here is my game with Bent Larsen (Watson Farley Williams, London, 1989). Though I did lose horribly in 16 moves, I maintain to this day that I played a great game. Indeed the opening I chose is of theoretical significance. {That is, it is of no actual significance; theoretically, it could have been significant, had I chosen a better opening.}

To counter the inevitable trepidation one feels when facing the venerable "Great Dane," I seized the psychological initiative by calling him "Kent" instead of Bent when I sat down to play (though "Bent" is silly enough). In the past, I had employed the disrepect-through mistaken-pronunciation motif with mixed results (e.g., while IM Jay Whitehead was thrown off when I called him "Butthead," Korchnoi seemed unconcerned when addressed as "Mr. Karpov").

Privately I was overconfident, and even told my friend Hodgson that "I can beat this guy blindfolded." Hodgson pointed out that Larsen probably would not be playing blindfolded. I thought it over and said "OK, but maybe I can still beat him."

Bent Larsen-Michael Wilder
London (Watson Farley Williams), 1989 Slav

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6

Already I could feel some tingle in my "special spots."


I had a number of problems with my openings in this tournament, and looking back on it, it is clear where I went wrong in my preparation (which I later dubbed "Preparation H"). Before the tournament, Malcolm Pein told me that his ChessBase computer program would do "half your work for you," I said "Fine, I'll take two of them." But in the end, I spent the money instead on a couple of books by Eric Schiller and some new underwear.

Unfortunately, Schiller had overlooked 3.Nc3 in his otherwise comprehensive analysis of the position, so I had to wing it.

3... d5 4.d4 c6

[Editor: This is the only time I can recall Mike essaying the Slav Defense.]

5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bb3

Larsen crossed up my plans with this innocuous move. I thought to myself, "Turds, foiled again" (No, I was not envisioning turds wrapped in foil-- it's just an expression). I started to panic upon remembering that Larsen had once won a brilliant game against Tal in the same line. I regained my composure after recollecting another encounter with Larsen, over a dinner table at Lone Pine many years ago.

This is a true story: An impressionable youngster who was thrilled at the chance to hobnob with a then world-famous Grandmaster, I was astonished when Larsen, an apparently erudite and cultured man who speaks many languages, devoured a large piece of cheesecake in under five seconds. When his dessert arrived, he went into a frenzy, lowering his mouth to plate-level and then methodically shoveling the cheesecake into his face, never looking up, all the while making Homer Simpson-like grunting and belching noises. Everyone at the table just stared at him, and when his head emerged and the cheesecake was gone, we all noticed that he had crumbs on his chin and little bits of cheesy smear around his mouth. Though I took great comfort from this memory, I still did not know what to do.



8...b4 was correct.

9.O-O a6?

9...b4 should still have been tried.

10.e4 c5?

Black can only hope to minimize his disadvantage with 10...b4 11.e5 bxc3 12.exf6 Nxf6.

11.e5 cxd4 12.Qxd4

With this recapture Larsen was saying to me, in effect, "you'll eat my shorts and like it." I had not yet made my 12th move and already it was time for a little "stragedy." [Ed. note: In this case, Mike is not referring to pinball]

My first idea was to try to gross out my opponent, perhaps by showing him Odendahl; unfortunately, Steve was back in the U.S. Then I thought of Yasser Seirawan's "Flash Tactics," and briefly considered exposing myself to the Great Dane. But no. Too tasteless even for me (admittedly, it was a close call). Finally, in a conciliatory mood, I reached across the board, mussed his hair with both hands and said, "Ah Kent, ya big knucklehead."

Although Mr. Larsen has been portrayed in a negative light so far, I must confess that he impressed me at this stage with his class and professionalism. He simply ignored me completely, remaining unperturbed and totally focused on the game. At one point he even smiled a bit, as he slowly, imperceptibly maneuvered his king bishop to a post where it could then be thrust directly into my left eyeball. The result was one detached retina and a number of chuckling spectators!

12...Bc5 13.Qf4 b4 14.exf6 bxc3 15.fxg7

Note to readers: "Grandmaster-vision" is temporarily down, but as a special service to Chess Chowheads, "Larry Christiansen-vision" (by which Larry's actual thoughts as the game occurred have been transcribed verbatim) is available for this move only: "Let's see. Black will probably move his rook so that it won't be captured, after which there should be a long series of captures and attacking moves leading to mate, or at least...say, what's that smell? And why do I feel so warm and special all of the sudden? Why, I think...yes it has to be... I must have accidentally dropped an entire smoldering ashtray down the front of my trousers around move nine."

15...Rg8 16.Ba4 Rxg7



Just when everything seemed hopeless, when it looked like the fiery walls of my position would consume my very soul, I noticed that black was developing some real counterplay along the g-file. I could see my pompous opponent thinking for the first time, as it slowly dawned on him that defending his kingside would permit certain counterchances in other areas of the board. Call it a sixth sense, but I could feel the tide was turning!

Suddenly, ...Black resigns.


Oh well.

Ed. Note: Perhaps a little bit of explanation is in order. After his initial euphoria, Mike realized that almost any continuation ( 17.Rd1 Bd5 18.bxc3 for example) leaves him hopelessly mangled. Even Mike can take only so much agony, and besides, he must have been quite anxious to try on his new underwear.


After the game, the so-called Great Dane refused to analyze with me, despite the fact that I kept pulling on his tie and that I claimed to have missed "several wins." If there's one thing I will not abide, it's poor sportsmanship.

End Wilder

Not exactly a barn-burner of a game, was it? Of course, that was Wilder's schtick. In another "Agony" column, someone sent him a game to show how badly he f'ed up a crucial game, and Wilder responded by showing one of his games that he claimed he f'ed up even worse.

Of course, for all of his agonizing over his crappy play, the guy is an International Grandmaster after all, so how bad can he be? His self-deprecating "I always find a way to lose horribly" routine has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Funny, though.

Game of the Week

This week's famous chess game is Kasparov-Anand, PCA WCC, New York 1995. Anand is on the losing end of a Ruy Lopez line that Kasparov later said he had all worked out beforehand in his home prep. I'm always fascinated by things like this: how did Kasparov know Anand would play the Ruy if he opened with 1. e4? There must be a lot of guessing and counter-guessing, like poker, at the GM level, where you have to tailor your move choices to take the best advantage of what you know about the other player. Me, I've never done that. It's hard enough to struggle just to find moves that aren't howling blunders than, on top of that, to have to engage the other player at the psychological level.

Of course, that's probably why I never made it higher than class D.

You can play through it yourself here

Chess Books That Should Be Updated to Algebraic(2nd in a series)

Dr. Max Euwe, who in addition to being World Champion, also wrote some very good chess books. I found a used hardback copy of Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur a couple of years ago on Amazon for something like $6.50, so you can bet I snapped that sucker up immediately. What a gift this book has been over the years to struggling n00bs and other low-rated players!

Thanks to those of you who have sent me tips for this thread. They may be sent to me at

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