Weekly chess column

Gregory Kaidanov seriously upset the standings in the 2012 US Chess Championship when he defeated Gata Kamsky in the fourth round and led the tournament briefly. However, he lost his next two games, one of which was to Robert Hess in a hard-fought game. After that, Kaidanov disclosed that he had changed his intended 10th move because a nearby game was playing the same line. He was worried about being accused of cheating. The worry was unfounded as there is no rule that forbids the unplanned mimicking of another game in plain sight.

       In this game, Kaidanov annexed a pawn but had a hard time defending it. Beginning with his 18th move, a desperado combination resulted in a complex exchange. Kaidanov reaped a queen and a pawn and Hess got three minor pieces. At the end, White’s queen was under attack and chose the most remote square for a safe haven. Paradoxically, this was a vulnerable square, and White resigned after facing the loss of more material.

 a) Perhaps Hess was inspired by the Viswanathan Anand-Boris Gelfand world championship match taking place at the same time, where Anand played this line for an easy draw in Game 2.


b) The aforementioned game in note “a” continued 10.Rc1 e5 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Nf6 15.dxe5 Nxe4 16.exd6 Qxd6 17.Be3 (“this position is supposed to be better for White, but I’d checked this and found that…” 17…Bf5 (“gives reasonable play”) and Black drew easily.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

c) Obviously now 12…dxe4? 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Nf6?? 15.dxe5 Nxe4 16.Qxe4 would be bad!

d) 15.Nxd4 Be5 looks fine for Black, as does 15.Bg5 h6. Still, Kaidanov’s move looks like an artificial attempt to corral the pawn on d4, since it hems in the rook on f1.

e) Black looks fine here due to his active pieces in contrast to White’s artificial setup that attempts to preserve the extra pawn.

f) Presumably White was anticipating the position after move 22 here, but this just seems to try too hard to press an advantage that is probably already gone.


g) Not 19.Nf5 Rxd3! 20.Bxf6 (20.Qxd3 Bxh2+ and 21…Qxd3) 20…Qxf6 21.Qxd3 Bxf5 etc.

h) I would greatly prefer to play Black’s game here. Black’s three minor pieces are far more active than White’s queen, and White’s extra pawn means very little.

i) Nine moves later White is probably already lost! The f2 point cannot be defended. Note how pathetic White’s queen is on a1!

j) Or 33.Rxd4 Rxd4 34.Qxd4 Ne2+ etc.

k) Since 34.Qc1 Ne2+ snags the queen, White must play 34.Rxd3 Nxd3, but then 35.Qxd3?? Bxf2+ again loses the queen, so Black will have rook, bishop, and knight for the queen and pawn, with f2 falling next move, and White will have nothing left to play for.

Kaidanov – Hess

US Chess Championship 2012

Meran Slav Defense

Kaidanov Hess

Kaidanov Hess

White Black

White Black

1. d4 d5

18. Bg5? (f) Rxd5

2. c4 c6

19. Bxh7+ (g) Kh8

3. Nf3 Nf6

20. Nf5 Nxh7!

4. Nc3 e6

21. Bxd8 Bxf5

5. e3 a6!? (a)

22. Qc1 Rxd8 (h)

6. b3 Bb4

23. Rd1 Bd3

7. Bd2 O-O

24. Rfe1 Kg8

8. Bd3 Bd6

25. Qc3 Nf6

9. O-O Nbd7

26. h3 Bb8

10. Qc2 (b) e5

27. Re3 Bb5

11. cxd5 cxd5

28. Rxd5 Nxd5

12. e4 exd4 (c)

29. Qd4 Bc7

13. Nxd5 Nxd5

30. Re1 Nf4

14. exd5 Nf6

31. Qa1 Bb6 (i)

15. Rae1?! (d) Bg4!

32. Rd1 Bd4!

16. Nxd4 Rc8!

33. Qb1 (j) Bd3 (k) 0-1

17. Qb1 Rc5 (e)