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Michael John Basman vs Raymond Keene
"Everlasting Grobstopper" (game of the day Feb-08-2012)
Manchester (1981), Manchester ENG, rd 7, Sep-10
Grob Opening: Keene Defense. Main Line (A00)  ·  0-1


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Given 20 times; par: 35 [what's this?]

Annotations by Raymond Keene.      [407 more games annotated by Keene]

find similar games 11 more M Basman/Keene games
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-08-12  Qxf7: What's wrong with Qxf7?!

Also, worse than the 'mirror' defense for me was when I'd try to play the Alekhine and the opponent would respond with d3. Annoyed me to no end :-/.

Feb-08-12  David2009: Game Collection: Interesting Spike/Grob wins Alas, one learns in childhood that an everlasting gobstopper isn't. I liked the aniseeded ones. There's a story of a young girl politely offering one to the visiting vicar. He sucks it to see, takes it out and says "Very nice" and she replies "I liked it when it was pink best".
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <King Death: ... when you can get an idea even a great player has tried, although he played 1.d4 f5 2.h3: Korchnoi vs Hans-Jurg Kanel, 1979.>

Staunton invented that. He analyzed it, and gave what is now considered the best defense (2...Nf6 3.g4 d5!), in <The Chess-Player's Handbook (1847)>. Staunton was a total a**h***, but far ahead of his time, as players like Fischer, Tartakower and Keene have recognized.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I didn't know what the pun meant.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <ajmer: I know it's only ~250 games in database, but how come that Grob's winning percentage for white is like 62%? :D>

Based on the numbers gives, it appears that in its database White scores +148 =27 -86 (61.9%) with 1.g4. A disproportionate number of the games were played by the Swiss IM Henri Grob and Claude Bloodgood, an American prisoner (he killed his mother), who once sported a USCF rating over 2700 IIRC. By my count, Grob and Bloodgood together scored +56 =9 -4 (87.7%), doubtless mostly against players considerably weaker than themselves. If we consider only games played by other players, White scored a more modest +92 =18 -82 (52.6%). Still too high IMO (1.Nc3 and 1.f4 are both stronger moves, but only score about 47.8% and 45.4%, respectively), but at least closer to the true value of the move.

Feb-08-12  King Death: <FSR> Maybe you should explain Staunton's contributions to <RookFile>, he thinks Steinitz was the first to try everything that's modern positional play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: thanks for putting up this game

a couple of points-basman was a very strong player who handicapped himself with miserable openings because he thought he had a poor memory-i always feared he wd play a normal opening against me and on the rare occasions when he did he once beat me and also came close the other time

fritz is just plain wrong-7Qb3 and 7Bd2 both leave white worse-fritz doesnt "understand" such positions with a very long term strategic disability

i think basman beat both speelman and nunn with his weird opening-this can be checked

as for 1g4 being the worst opening move-it is! after 1h4 or 1h3 one does not need to continue playing stupid moves eg 1h4 e5 2g3 is not horrible. after 1 g4 however the weaknesses can never be fully masked.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: btw brilliant pun on the willy wonka story
Feb-08-12  LoveThatJoker: <ray keene> I'm currently reading your book with Simpole, "Petrosian vs The Elite."

It is a fantastic book, Ray! Truly: I've been absorbing the ideas that you both have been espousing as Petrosian's intention in the given position; and it has been helping me in sharpening my tactical and strategic vision.

What is your take on Petrosian personally? Yasser Seirawan once told me a story where he was in the back room of tournament playing hall in the US and out of nowhere Petrosian and Smyslov come in and start kibitzing.

Petrosian sits down and plays Seirawan and Seirawan proceeds to beat him in 4 straight games - after each game Petrosian getting more and more steamed at the situation and Seirawan in awe wanting to leave the table, but Petrosian not letting him.

Finally after those four games, Petrosian went on to win four straight and that's when they finally stopped playing blitz.

Do you have any special memories of having played/met the man?


Feb-08-12  LoveThatJoker: <ray keene> Seeing as how Chess nowadays is making quite the major comeback in mainstream Great Britain, would you have any desire to start a "The Master Game" style TV program with today's Super-GMs?

Would you consider taking this idea to the BBC and seeing if they're interested in it?


Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: re tv-am working on trying to get it back all the time!

re petrosian-i was playing kovacevic at amsterdam 1973 -the game is here on sac'd a rook on a7 just as Petrosian came into the room-he kind of jumped back and later asked me to annotate it for 64 magazine which he edited

thanks for the kind comments on my petrosian book-on the nimzowitsch site here i have chosen my top 12 nimzo games-later tonight i will do the same here for petrosian

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: my choice of the top 12 petrosian games

not in any particular order

petrosian 1-0 v fischer cands 1971

petrosian 1-0 v botvinnik wcc 1963 game 5

petrosian 1-0 v spassky wcc 1966 game 10

spassky o-1 v petrosian game 7 wcc 1966

spassky 0-1 v petrosian wcc 1969 game game 13 ( i think)

keres 0-1 v petrosian cands 1959

petrosian v smyslov 1961 ussr champ 1-0

petrosian 1-0 v korchnoi cands 1971

petrosian 1-0 v spassky wcc 1969 moscow game 20

petrosian 1-0 v tal cands 1962

larsen 0-1 v petrosian havana olympiad 1966

kasparov 0-1 v petrosian tilburg 1980

petrosian was-like nimzowitsch-an artist -his best games are truly remarkable

runners up petrosians black win v fischer in 1959 cands, his one win v karpov, game 7 v botvinnik in 1963 and his swift demolition of korchnoi in 1962 cands.

Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: A nice Grob crush and an excellent pun to boot!

While I agree that the Grob is objectively a dubious opening at best, it has plenty of surprise value which can easily ensnare a careless player in the opening.

On principle, I think the best way to play against the Grob is to take the g-pawn (if left unprotected, of course) and accept the c4, Qb3 business whilst simply developing pieces. The exposed c and g-files compromise White's king safety and give Black a good game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <King Death: <FSR> Maybe you should explain Staunton's contributions to <RookFile>, he thinks Steinitz was the first to try everything that's modern positional play.>

Savielly Tartakower wrote <"A remarkable feature of Staunton's play is the number of ultra-modern ideas with which he was familiar, e.g. the restricted centre, the fianchetto development, bilateral work, the theory of the local engagement, etc., and, last but not least, the English Opening (sometimes called the Staunton Opening).> Dr. Savielly Tartakower and J. du Mont, <500 Master Games of Chess (1975)>, p. 626.

Robert James Fischer wrote that <Staunton was the most profound opening analyst of all time. He was more theorist than player, but nonetheless he was the strongest player of his day... In addition, he understood all of the positional concepts which modern players hold dear, and thus – with Steinitz – must be considered the first modern player.> Bobby Fischer, <Chessworld (January–February 1964)>, "The Ten Greatest Masters in History," p. 58.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <FSR> We've spotted elsewhere the strange phenomenon of rubbish moves scoring surprisingly well on a database.

As you say, the database is not an accurate record of all games played. It tends to include mostly strong players, and as strong players generally avoid the grob, that is one skew on the results.

I suspect also that the grob will be wheeled out by players when playing someone weaker than themselves. Which again will skew the results.

Then we have the science of small numbers. The sample size of these fringe openings is much too small to be representative.

We can also get weird results when a variation is suddenly discredited. Imagine an opening which is played for a hundred years with fairly good results for white. Then someone discovers a refutation and after a few convincing black wins, no-one ever plays that variation again. The database would show a healthy evaluation for that opening on account of all the old white wins. Doesn't mean that the variation is worth playing.

Statistics always need to be read with a bit of common sense.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <ray keene...fritz is just plain wrong> Ahem. As I said, I am deeply suspicious of hyperbole!

Fritz (and all chess engines) don't have any sense of "understanding" of a position, but they are good at crunching tactics. So while I wouldn't trust their strategical nous, I would trust them when they say that Mike lost this game largely through tactical mistakes.

True, he made those tactical mistakes because you put him under a lot of pressure and you played well against a dubious opening. But Fritz's tactical analysis (which we can trust) is saying that with best play white would not have gone down in flames in the way that he did.

As to the weaknesses of the grob never being fully masked ... only if white castles kingside. In many openings, white castles queenside and throws his kingside pawns forward with moves like g4. And in situations like that g4 is an attacking move and not a structural weakness.

The problem with the grob is that white commits to this plan much too early. He doesn't yet know where black is going to park his king, so it's premature to embark on a plan of a kingside pawn storm.

Feb-09-12  drukenknight: NOt sure but 17 Qd2 may yet save white....
Feb-09-12  LoveThatJoker: <Ray Keene> Thank you very much for the kind reply!

I wish you all the success with getting Chess back on TV and with your upcoming literary releases!

Thank you very much, Ray.


PS. Thank you also for sharing that excellent Petrosian story. That's amazing!

PPS. I have posted your list of top Petrosian games on the Petrosian bio page, referencing you of course!

Premium Chessgames Member
Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: Take it easy, GM Keene. No need to get upset :P
Feb-09-12  drukenknight: 17 Qd2 should work for same reason that 17 KxB does not: KxB trades material but gives up tempo (...Qd6+), whereas Qd2 will drop material but compensation in the form of tempo (Q attacks the B)
Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: not upset at all -just pressed wrong key-after 17...Qd2 I wd have replied with ..Bc7 with threats such as Ba5 or Qd6. I doubt white cd survive that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: Funny but I thought of Qd2 instead of the move played as well when I saw the game
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: <ray keene> Fantastic selection of Petrosian games there - many thanks :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: <as for 1g4 being the worst opening move-it is! after 1h4 or 1h3 one does not need to continue playing stupid moves eg 1h4 e5 2g3 is not horrible. after 1 g4 however the weaknesses can never be fully masked.>

I would rather play 1 g4, as it's slightly more central than h4 (or a4), and contributes to the bishop fianchetto, while 1 h4 is unlikely to help development much at all. 1 g4 is probably at least as good as 1 Nh3 too (although 1 Na3 is not so bad).

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