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Member since Sep-11-12 · Last seen Oct-23-17
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   MuzioFan has kibitzed 861 times to chessgames   [more...]
   Oct-16-17 Thematic Challenge chessforum (replies)
MuzioFan: Exciting openings! I do have a small confession: while I greatly enjoy the Muzio Gambit over the board, my confidence in it for white in a TCBOB is quite low... It makes me wonder if there are others more aggressive than me who would take up the white side in this challenge!
   Oct-13-17 A Giri vs B Podlesnik, 2017 (replies)
MuzioFan: <scholes:> 44...Rxg7 45.Rxg7 Rxg8 46.Rh7# also seems OK for white.
   Oct-11-17 P Cramling vs A Galliamova, 1994 (replies)
MuzioFan: Although beautiful, the underpromotion seems unneccesary. After for example 39.c8=Q Rg5+ 40.Kf6 the white king can always escape to f7-e8, so black has nothing better than 39..Rxc8.
   Oct-03-17 chessforum (replies)
MuzioFan: <> I just noticed, but one and a half month ago we passed the mark where it has been 24 months since the previous Chessgames Challenge started, on the 13th of August 2015. Before this there seems to have been a challenge yearly or even more frequently. I feel ...
   Aug-09-17 M Vachier-Lagrave vs Karjakin, 2017 (replies)
MuzioFan: Karjakin finds the only move that doesn't lose (theoretically)!
   Aug-07-17 Team White vs Team Black, 2015 (replies)
MuzioFan: Another month gone and no update on the Chessgames Challenge...
   Jul-23-17 The World vs Naiditsch, 2014 (replies)
   Jul-20-17 M Bluebaum vs V Fedoseev, 2017 (replies)
MuzioFan: <beatgiant> You are almost correct, black can choose to go down the hopelessly lost line 25...Qxb3 26. Qg3 g6 27. Qg5 (or 27. Qf4) Kh8 28. Qh6 <Qxd1+> 29. Nxd1 Rg8 and while the game is completely over there is no immediate mate (30. Rd3? Be6).
   Jun-11-17 Kramnik vs Nakamura, 2017 (replies)
MuzioFan: <An Englishman> Can white keep control of the d-file after Nb6 Rd8? I reckon he is trying to double rooks first to prevent this move. I'm more surprised by black's 17'th. Why not ..Ke7, activating the rook?
   Apr-06-17 W So vs Nakamura, 2017 (replies)
MuzioFan: Such marvellous insights. Obviously the rook was moved to... support the pawn push to e3? Make room for the king after a devastating attack by Nakamura? Okay, I'm with you on this one, no clue why he moved the rook.
(replies) indicates a reply to the comment.

Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-09-14  DcGentle: Hi <MuzioFan>! So I have the honor of being the first one to post anything here, and I have to congratulate again for your well deserved award.

We can win the WT game, if we do it the right way, I am more confident than I was before. Queenside expansion will do it for us!


Let's see what Black will do next.

Jul-10-14  DcGentle: Have you got a mainline after <7. a4> ?

I have currently only one problem here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: Hi <DcGentle>! I have focused my (limited) time on <6..Re8>, so I hadn't gotten further than <6..d6 7.a4 a6 8.Bc4 Ba7> where we can play <9.Nbd2> or <9.Bg5> or even <9.Re1>.

However it seems that <7.Nbd2> is beyond doubt by now, so I guess that we'll have to live with that...

Jul-12-14  DcGentle: Thanks for your answer :-)

I have analyzed 2 nice winning lines for <7. a4> which you can find on the Analysis Forum, but the team is lacking chess knowledge to recognize the value here.

Currently they will play theory moves anyways, and today I will enjoy the live game from Dortmund with our opponent Naiditsch vs. Adams.

So I will take a break. Besides I am again frustrated. If this condition is all I get from the game, I rather stay away. It's not the case that I haven't other things to do.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: I have also been feeling rather frustrated lately, spending all of my limited time to work on interesting ideas in the current game only to find that the team uses shallow reasoning to pick a different move. I hope that (as usual) this feeling will soon fade away, but right now I'm not enjoying the game. Oh well.

I have seen your games and lines on the Analysis Forum, I like how the important ideas such as blocking the DSB are visible in those lines. In line 2 though my Komodo has some qualms with your 16..d5, suggesting 16..Be6 instead. Have you looked at this move?

Jul-12-14  DcGentle: Well, I admit that I haven't had the time to look at all possible sidelines. <16... Be6> is a possibility, but <17. Ba3 d5 18. e5> doesn't look so much different from the mainline...

Oh well.. I would be more interested in this stuff if we were actually playing it, obviously.

Enough for now,

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 1/7):

It is most likely that from the current position we will see the continuation <8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6>. After this short sequence it is white to move, and it is important that we start to form long-term plans and gain insight into the position on the board. Some moves that have been suggested for white so far are (in no particular order): <10.h3>, <10.Re1>, <10.Bd3>, <10.Qc2> and <10.b3>. I also temporarily thought that <10.b4> might be reasonable, stopping the thematic pawn break c7-c5 and clearing b2 for our bishop, but the engines do not agree at all.

In order to get an overview here is the position after black's 9th move, viewed from black's position(!):

click for larger view

In this position white's pawns control the center, so black will most likely try to challenge these pawns. Currently black is attacking each of the pawns once (the Pe4 with the Nf6, the Pd4 with the Bb6) and each pawn is defended once (by white's two knights). This means that white's knights are tied to the defence of the pawns at the moment! In particular black does not have to worry about moves like Nc4 (which would threaten to exchange the bishop on b6, after which black would have a weaker queenside pawn structure and no longer have the bishop pair). Black can try to challenge these central pawns by taking out the defending pieces (<10..Bg4> pinning the knight, threatening <11..Bxe4>. Note that white cannot simply recapture with the other knight, as this piece is tied to the defence of the other pawn) or by using pawn levers (in GMARK's main line <..d5> is the important lever, but <..c5> and <..f5> are also options).

In other words: black will most likely try to put pressure on the knights and play for an eventual pawn push to take control of the center. White's strong point (in this position) is his center control (I was searching for other strong points but really couldn't find too many), whereas his weaknesses are the two immobilised knights (blocking the DSB, even).

Having identified the strengths and weaknesses of white and the intermediate goals of black we can now look at the concrete moves and see how these help fix white's weaknesses. Here is the position again, now from the normal perspective:

click for larger view

The moves are in alphabetical order.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 2/7):

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<10.b3>: By playing b3 white creates a path to fianchetto his bishop. This is a useful move as the Nd2 is immobilised, so developing the bishop along the c1-h6 diagonal is not immediately possible. The drawback of developing this bishop along the a1-h8 diagonal comes in the form of black's pawn lever <..d5> (in Caruana vs Kramnik, 2012 black immediately responded 10..d5, which may have been too early - black should wait a bit longer, if white plays Bb2 prematurely he will win a tempo). White will want to respond to <..d5> with <e5> (as after capturing the pawn white has an isolated pawn), but after this the a1-h8 diagonal is thoroughly locked and a bishop on b2 does nothing more than overprotect d4. A further drawback of this move is that it does not strengthen white's weaknesses - the immobilised knights. After Bb2 the Nf3 will no longer be tied to the defence, but this comes at the cost of locking in our bishop and also takes another move. This is why after this move white will get cramped as black has enough time to attack the weaknesses in the position.

My Stockfish 5 suggests as a continuation: <10.b3 Ng6 11.Re1 c6 12.Bd3 Bg4> where black will play Nf4 soon to kick the bishop again. The reason for <12.Bd3> is that after this move <12..d5> does not work as black cannot play <13.e5 Ne4>, so the knight has to retreat to some inferior square. In this variant (<10.b3 Ng6>) white gets overwhelmed (black plays Bg4, Nf4 and Re8 while all of white's pieces are cramped behind the central pawns), however the position seems sufficiently strong that black cannot achieve his important pawn break (Stockfish keeps punishing me for trying). More analysis on this is definitely needed, perhaps we must temporarily hand the initiative to black to recoil ferociously later.

A problem with this line seems to be <10.b3 Bg4 11.Qc2 a6 12.Bd3 Nc6>:

click for larger view

Here the engines recommend either <13.Bb2 d5 14.e5 Nb4> losing a tempo (on the Bb2, which will have to move later) and the bishop pair (<15. Qc3 Nxd3 16.Qxd3 Nd7>) or <13.d5 Nb4 14.Qc3 Nxd3 15.Qxd3>, also forfeiting the bishop pair and accepting a weak pawn on e4.

Lastly I would like to note that by playing <10.b3> white creates another square for the bishop, namely <a3>. This is a strategical idea that reappears multiple times throughout the variation (and is also the reason why in the line above black plays <11..c6> because if black plays <..Ng6> and <..d5> too soon then <Ba3> will capture the rook (the Rf8 has no squares)). I am unsure of how strong this is.

Summary: the cramped position seems interesting as black isn't able to achieve any of his goals (subdue the center pawns, pressure the weak knights), but the problem lines might be too large a hurdle to overcome.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 3/7):

click for larger view

<10.Bd3>: This is another move that does nothing to directly strengthen white's weaknesses. However, similar to the variation starting with <10.b3> discussed before, the bishop fulfills an active role on d3 by preventing <10..d5 11.e5 Ne4> and can later attack the Ph7. Now the Pe4 is sufficiently overprotected and white has done nothing to strengthen his other weaknesses, so black naturally attacks the immobilised knight with <10..Bg4>, pinning it to the queen and threatening <11..Bxd4>. White's best response to this threat is moving the queen (white can play <11.h3 Bh5> and move the queen after that, which may transpose).

After <10.Bd3 Bg4 11.Qb3> black has many different moves available to him (the top 10 moves only differ by [0.30] according to Stockfish), and I am honestly not sure what black should try to play for. In this setup we note that the bishop is blocking the line between the queen and the Nf3, and as <..Bxf3 gxf3> is bad for white this means that the Nd2 is still stuck defending the Nf3. This also means that it becomes quite difficult for white to develop the DSB (also note that the queen is blocking the Pb2). The main advantages of having a bishop on d3 are the overprotection of the Pe4 and the immediate threat of Bxh6 after an eventual e5 (with Qc2, for example). However, black has many options to prevent such attacks, and there are other ways to overprotect the Pe4 without restricting the Nd2 even more.

Summary: <10.Bd3> seems like an inferior choice - it gives black lots of options (at least 3 different variations by move 12) and doesn't support white with his own problems much.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 4/7):

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<10.h3>: This move is most unlike all the other options. As white's Nf3 is weak a good idea for black is to pin it to the queen with <10..Bg4>, which immediately threatens <12..Bxd4> and therefore black can play <11..Bg4> with tempo (which is also why it is the most common reply). By playing <10.h3> white robs black of this option at the cost of a permanent weaker pawn structure on the kingside. However, a second cost of this move is that it does not help to develop any pieces and fight for the center. This allows black to immediately start challenging the center, for example with an immediate <10..d5> (only move found in the opening explorer, and also rated high after sliding a bit). The game can continue <10.h3 d5 11.e5 Ne4>, after which the computers suggest starting a giant battle for the e4 and d4 squares (<12.Bd3 Bf5 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Rd1 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Bxd4 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.Nb3 c5 18.Be3 Qe7 19.Nxd4 cxd4 20.Bxd4 Rfd8>)

click for larger view

This seems to achieve exactly what we tried to avoid earlier - a mass exchange to an ending that isn't clearly won. The alternative given on the AT is <12.Re1>, where after <12..Bf5> Stockfish suggests <13.Ba4>. The problem after <12..Bf5> is that black can play <..c5> soon and open up the center, and again white has not achieved anything out of his superior center control from a few moves ago. As <10.h3> is special amongs our choices (as it is the only move preventing <10..Bg4>) it seems worth taking a closer look at, but barring a new way to keep the position closed after <11.Ne4> I am not sure if this will work out.

Summary: the lines above aren't good enough, but perhaps there is an interesting improvement here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 5/7):

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<10.Qc2>: This move immediately strengthens white's position in two ways; firstly it overprotects the Pe4 and secondly it frees the d1 square, so the Nf3 can no longer be pinned against the queen. Surprisingly enough black's best reply still is <10..Bg4>, as this ties up the Nd2 (as Bg4 threatens <..Bxf3 gxf3> should the Nd2 move). Here the AT suggests <11.Re1>, although there are many moves with comparable evals (unfortunately the online databases I could find, and, have no games with <10.Qc2>). Note that this transposes to <10.Re1 Bg4 11.Qc2>.

It seems hard to judge what advantage we get by changing the move order, since white still has to commit to a line before black does. Since in some lines we want the queen to be on a square other than c2 (after Bd3 black can sometimes play Nc6-Nb4 forcing an exchange) I don't think this move works well.

Summary: the best line available is a transposition from <10.Re1>, and it is not clear why c2 is the correct square for the queen. Unless we can find a move forcing black to commit to a strategy before white does the change in move order doesn't seem to achieve anything.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 6/7):

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<10.Re1>: By playing this move white overprotects the Pe4, thus freeing the Nd2 from its defensive tasks, and also develops the rook to a line that might open soon. Again black develops his bishop with tempo by playing <10..Bg4>, and white can choose between moving the queen and kicking the bishop. Since after the bishop has been kicked (<11.h3 Bh5>) white's queen still needs to move (as can be seen in the User: RandomVisitor profile) these lines probably transpose. However, since a pawn on h3 can become a permanent weakness inviting kingside attacks (with a pawn on h2 instead we keep the option of playing g3 later so it is more flexible) it might be sensible to play <11.Qb3>.

Black could now respond for example <11..c3> where white can choose between <12.Bd3> (possibly transposing to <10.Bd3>-lines) or <12.Bf1> (all the other moves run into tactical problems). Note that after <12.Bf1> black can again opt for the thematical <13..d5 14.e5 Nd7> (this fails after <13.Bd3> due to <15.Qc2> threatening <16.Bxh7+>). After <10.Re1 Bg4 11.Qb3 c3 12.Bd3> white's bishop is again blocking the line between the queen and the Nf3, so the Nd2 is again immobilised (as <..Bxf3 gxf3> is bad for white) and the position is cramped. However, black has not been able to play any of his pawn levers to weaken the white pawn structure. After <10.Re1 Bg4 11.Qb3 c3 12.Bf1> black can play <12..d5 13.e5 Nd7> where the position is more open but black has clearer targets (the weaker Pd4 and Pe5).

click for larger view

Another option for black is to play <11..d5>, continuing <12.e5 Nd7>:

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Here white may try to cleverly reach a position similar to the <12.Bd3>-line above by playing <13.h3 Bh5 14.Qe3(!)>, because now after <15.Bd3> the Nf3 is still defended by the queen and therefore the Nd2 is no longer pinned (the reason that an immediate <13.Qe3> doesn't work is <13..c5!>). However at this point black's <..c5> is too threatening (note that at e3 the queen will be under attack after an eventual <..cxd4>) so white has to keep his bishop on the queenside to maintain an even position. The computer here wishes to move the queen again, it is unclear to me if this is prophylaxis or of the goal is to free the b3 square for the knight.

Yet another option is for white to play <11.Qc2> (as opposed to <11.Qb3>), with a main line of <10.Re1 Bg4 11.Qc2 a6 12.Bf1 Re8>, a position which is currently being analysed:

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Summary: The move <10.Re1> is very complex, and requires lots of extra analysis. The moves <11.Qb3> and <11.Qc2> lead to completely different games, and most of the time black can find a well-timed pawn move to break up the center. A lot more analysis is needed here, and the move is most certainly a viable choice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: White's 10th move, an analysis (part 7/7):

This part attempts to summarise the claims from the other parts.

In our current position white controls the center with the pawns on e4 and d4, and black will challenge this control. The weakest parts of white's position are his two knights, both tied to defending the central pawns and hence immobile. Black will try to attack the knights and make use of the limited mobility of white's pieces, attempting to reach a strong enough position to push a pawn into the center. White wants to either prevent such a pawn push or get some compensation for weakening the center.

After <10.b3> black can answer <10..Bg4>, which will allow black to play the pawn push <..d5> after a few moves and exchange a knight for a bishop. Perhaps this can be solved, but after <10.b3> we should be on the lookout for Nc6-Nb4.

After <10.Bd3> there are a ton of variations to analyse, and I haven't been able to look at all of them. It might be that the problem with this move is that it retreats an already active piece, rather than activate a second piece, and therefore hands the initiative to black. Whether or not we have improved our position is completely unclear after <10.Bd3 Bg4 11.Qb3>.

The move <10.h3> is the odd one out as it doesn't allow black to play <10..Bg4>, and should be looked at intensely (as this is one of the few ways to really divert the game). Unfortunately the pawn move all the way at the side of the board does not help to support the center, and that extra tempo might help black to remove white's control of the center.

After <10.Qc2> our current best line transposes to <10.Re1>, but the latter move seems more versatile. It is not clear that c2 is the best square for our queen (some lines have Qa4, most have Qb3, some have Qc2) so playing it early does not seem to be to our advantage.

The move <10.Re1> is far too versatile to summarise in such a small analysis, and offers transpositions to some of the other move options. This does not immediately make it best! Sometimes a sequence with the rook still on f1 saves an important tempo. Black gets many complicated combinations pushing the right pawn at the right time (usually d7-d5, c7-c6 or c7-c5) at the right time, if we want to keep the position complicated with many pieces still on the board we need to be very careful. This move deserves more analysis than all the other moves combined - a difference as small as playing Qb3 vs Qc2 leads to completely different games.

I hope that this can support all our analysts with their efforts, I certainly learned a lot while writing this. I ask you all to keep in mind that these are merely the words of a patzer, some/all of it might be wrong. Also I would like you all to keep in mind that writing this took the better part of a day (and then some), so some of the information might already be outdated. I am furthermore greatly saddened to see that despite all my efforts I haven't been able to come up with any <constructive> themes, but I have no doubt that the World Team will be able to find the right moves!

Jul-16-14  DcGentle: Very nice, <MuzioFan>. You may have noticed, what a big effort it is, to only describe the relationship of chessmen for a few positions in a few lines. But understanding is important, and your endeavor has to be lauded!

Too bad, that the team has a hard way to avoid a draw now. One reason for this is our bad bishop on c1, and another one as you said, our knights are not mobile.

Still I am also looking for something prospective for us, but so far to no avail.


Premium Chessgames Member
  WinKing: Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to you & yours <MuzioFan>! :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  ketchuplover: I second that winking :)
Dec-25-14  wordfunph: <Muzio> Merry Christmas!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: I couldn't figure out your party riddle, but if I had to guess, everyone say the same answer?

Hold on, just waiting to facepalm myself.

Okay, answer please. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MuzioFan: <Penguincw>: The answer is rather complicated, and rather subtle as well. The trick is to have every person in the circle make a guess for the sum of all the numbers on the hats, or in particular the last two digits of this sum. Let me illustrate a more simple version with only 2 people, and in this case we care not about the last two digits (the remainder after division by 100) but about even-/oddness of the sum (remainder after division by 2).

In this case the first person guesses for the sum of their numbers to be even, and the second one guesses that the total sum is odd. Note that this lets them compute their own numbers - the numbers on the hats now range from 1 to 2, so if the even person sees a 1 he must guess a 1 and if he sees a 2 he must guess a 2 (and the opposite for the odd person). Since the sum is either even or odd exactly one person gets the right answer in this case.

Now generalising to 100 people: the first person guesses that the last two digits of the sum will be 00, the second one guesses 01 etc. until the last person guesses 99. Since every person can see all other numbers they can now compute the last two digits of their own number (since they guessed the last two digits of the sum, and know all other numbers), but since the numbers range from 1 to 100 they immediately deduce their own number from these last two digits. Now since every possibility for the last two digits of the sum is guessed by exactly one person exactly one person gets the right answer (after all, the correct sum has to have some value for its last two digits), and everybody gets delicious low-fat ice cream.

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