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Chess notes

Yasser Seirawan is a four-time US champion and former world junior champion. He largely retired from chess at the age of 47 in 2007. He decided to return to the fray and was admitted to the field for the US championship in 2011 despite protests that he was displacing a younger player. He won only one game in that tournament. Nevertheless, he has shown that he still has shining abilities in Grandmaster Chess, even defeating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, rated No. 5 in the world team championship

Here is a very pleasant win of his from the Magistral Casino Barcelona tournament, where he finished second on tie break against Ivan Lopez of Spain. In this game, Seirawan, White v. Narciso Dublan, Black, Seirawan graciously accepts control of the queen’s rook file while his opponent is slow in attacking on the opposite wing. Seirawan’s rooks operate with élan down their breezeway and soon they are nipping off pawns and gaining additional material. In the end, Seirawan gives back a piece to get rid of queens and to transpose into a winning end game.

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a) In my opinion this is a loss of time. See Black’s 16th 18th moves where he played 16. . .Nd7, 17f7-f5 and then 18Nf6 back again! Better is 6f5 with roughly equal chances.

b) Perhaps 8. . .d5!? is a better attempt to take advantage of having played 6Nf6.

c) My inclination would be not to touch the queenside, since that is the side of the board where White will be attacking. The open a-file ends up being useful for White. However, the argument on the other side is that Black trades off the potentially weak a-pawn.

d) Look how long it takes Black to get his kingside attack going! (See note a.)

e) The exclamation point is for humor! Still, the queen is very well placed here. It is very strong along the diagonal, and it is a very useful defensive piece at the same time.

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f) I didn’t see the point of stepping into the pin along the 7th rank, and I certainly don’t see the point of giving up the b-pawn!

g) Now Black simply throws himself upon the barricades . . .

h) While it would certainly lose, if Black wants to continue the game the only move worth considering was 29. . .fxe3.

i) Simple chess: this kills all of Black’s counterplay and reaches an easily won endgame.


Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion.