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Sergei Rublevsky vs Andrei Volokitin
Russia Team Championship (2004), Sochi RUS, rd 1, Apr-20
Sicilian Defense: Canal Attack. Main Line (B52)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-01-04  AdrianP: <LifeMasterAJ> Geez, only trying to help!
Nov-01-04  notyetagm: Gee, this was really an awesome game by Rublevsky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <notyetagm> Agreed!
May-24-05  aw1988: For the love of god, the kibitzing on this page is terrible. Too many senseless feuds.
May-24-05  soberknight: <aw1988> Folks here are too busy drinking Beer to get into real fights. But this stuff is ugly.
May-25-05  soberknight: <AJ> But since I've already started, let me say a few words to you and to the other kibitzers. First, I agree with Benjamin Lau and drukenknight. You can't prove that you received any email at all from him, let alone one that contained a virus. Benjamin Lau is innocent until proven guilty--and he will never be proven guilty.

Second, others claim that you're a stickler for spelling and good form. That makes me wonder why you post articles on your website containing the word "(Diagram)" in random places. If you want to post a diagram, do it. If not, writing the word "Diagram" does not help the reader. Extraneous words demonstrate poor editing.

You claim that Black lost this game because he neglected the opening principle to develop before you attack. This is an interesting point for discussion. Five years ago, when I began studying chess from books, I really loved the style and attitude of Irving Chernev. I enjoyed his humorous collection, "Wonders and Curiosities of Chess." I learned some technical skills, especially opening principles, from "Logical Chess, Move by Move." I own a copy of "Practical Chess Endings,” and I admire Chernev's thorough treatment for each of the 300 examples he gives. (However, I wish he would have included draw studies, such as Reti's famous King walk, instead of only wins.)

Based on Chernev, I believed that anyone who violates opening principles must face the uncompromising wrath of Caissa. Although such principles can instruct a beginner, I now consider them a harmful oversimplification for a more advanced student.

For example, Chernev and many others say not to move a piece twice in the opening before moving other pieces at least once, except for tactical reasons. This would dissuade a beginner from trying 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 Bb5? However, there are so many exceptions that I no longer find the rule useful at my level of understanding. We continue to debate the soundness of 4 Ng5 against the Two Knights Defense. Chernev, to my knowledge, does not discourage it, although it ought to fail based on "principles."

After studying the opening in detail, Tim Harding came to this conclusion: "4 Ng5: This is the celebrated 'Duffer's move' or 'Bungler's move' as it was termed by Tarrasch.... Actually, 4 Ng5 is White's strongest move here, and the only one that can challenge the soundness of the Two Knights Defense." (

It gets better. In one opening gambit, Black plays ...Ng4 on his <third> move. I refer to the Budapest/Fajarowicz Gambit, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e5!? 3 dxe5 Ng4. I cannot find an authority to evaluate its soundness, although I personally prefer to avoid it as White by playing 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 and 3 c4.

That is not all. Have you ever seen a master play 3 Ng5 as <White>? Meet Georgy Lisitsin, who coined a weird gambit with 1 Nf3 f5 2 e4!? fxe4 3 Ng5 Nf6 4 d3. Botvinnik humiliated him in this game Lisitsin vs Botvinnik, 1933, but White can improve on move 7 and exit the opening with equality.

May-25-05  soberknight: Another opening principle states that unless tactics demand otherwise, every early move must work to develop or control the center. An ideal move should accomplish both, as with 1 e4, d4 or Nf3. So how can we explain the persistent intrusion of the a-pawn into our sanctuary? Black plays a7-a6 in two common opening variations:

* Najdorf Sicilian: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6. Often Black plays …b5 and …Bb7, but sometimes he just wants to play …e5 or …Qc7 without fear of Nb5 in response. The O’Kelly variation (ECO B28), 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 a6, allows White more choices, but Taimanov earned a respectable +6 -5 =13 record with it. ( The Kan Sicilian, 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6, is also common.

* Queen's Gambit Accepted: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 dc 3 Nf3 a6!? Black usually plays this move at some point to prepare …b5 (e.g. 4 e3 Nf6 5 Bxc4 e6 6 O-O d5 7 Qe2 Nc6 8 Nc3 b5 in Euwe vs Alekhine, 1937). However, Alekhine sometimes used it to keep White’s bishop away from b5 before attacking with his light-squared bishop, as in Bogoljubov vs Alekhine, 1934.

* In the St. George Defense, 1 e4 a6 2 d4 b5, Black famously defeated a world champion: Karpov vs Miles, 1980.

How can such violations of opening principles lead to success? An early Ng5 or ...Ng4 wins a pawn in the Two Knights and disrupts White's development in the Budapest Gambit. Playing ...a6 usually prepares ...b5 in both the QGA and the Najdorf. It is worth taking an extra move to expand on the queenside and keep White's pieces away from b5. A player can delay development in order to gain space or material or to disrupt his opponent’s development. He can violate one principle to satisfy another.

May-25-05  soberknight: However, I want to suggest that chess principles are not reliable at all. Sometimes a player will violate chess principles and win beautifully. AJ, you annotated the most beautiful correspondence game ever played, Estrin vs Berliner, 1965. Berliner wins despite making the same “mistakes” that Black makes in this game. He attacks before all his pieces are developed: 8…Qh4 already commits to a piece sacrifice. He does not castle: 12 Bxd5+ Kd8.

The soundness of Berliner’s novelty has been disputed. 13 Qb3 or 14 Qb3 might win for White. However, we cannot refute Black’s attack on principle. We must present concrete variations explaining exactly why Qb3 wins for White. If the analysis holds water, then Black’s attack was unsound. If not, the attack was sound, despite being “unprincipled.”

Therefore, I must disagree with the introduction you give to this game, which you proceed to analyze in impressive detail. You write, “I tell my students all the time ... ‘It does not matter how brilliant your idea is, you simply must complete your development BEFORE trying anything like an attack.’ (Or any other middlegame idea, for that matter.)

“Here a player with a FIDE 2600 rating ignores this advice, launching a full-scale assault almost from the very first move. The end result is a predictable loss, a good object lesson, and my game for this month!”

Furthermore, on Black’s tenth move, you comment, “According to the laws of positional chess - as I understand them - an attack like this by the second player is ONLY feasible when the first has made some fundamental error. (I don't believe White has made any mistakes; his moves - according to all the principles that I teach all of my students - have been thoroughly sound.)

“In the meantime, it is hard to believe that a three-piece attack ... with the rest of Black's forces sitting on their original squares ... will refute White's entire opening set-up!!”

Basically, AJ, you work with a contradiction. On the one hand, you invoke “the laws of positional chess.” On the other, you spend endless days analyzing tactical possibilities with your computer. If Black’s attack is so unprincipled, why bother with Fritz to tell you what you already know?

In the grand truth of chess, there are no principles. There are only concrete variations. Most of them obey certain generalizations, but some do not. Consider yourself lucky that this game obeyed your generalization because Estrin-Berliner apparently violated it.

May-25-05  soberknight: You may wish to defend the principles with logic. For example, Chernev explains that a piece in the center is more powerful than one on the side because it can move to more squares. For example, a king in the center of an empty board can reach 8 squares, but from a corner it attacks only three squares.

This is perfectly logical. However, a player might move his king to the corner because he needs access to the three adjacent squares, even though his overall mobility is reduced. Consider this beautiful study (by K. Ebersz, Magyar Sakkvilag 1930): White Kc3, pawns b6, d4, e3, h2; Black Kh7, pawns b7, d6, d5, e4, h4, h3; White to play and draw. The solution is 1 Kb2! Kg8 2 Ka1!! It may violate your principles, but it makes perfect sense, as Noam Elkies nicely explains (

I seek two traits in an analyst of chess: humility and objectivity. Humility does not merely mean that you know your analysis is fallible. You should also know that your principles are fallible. You must stand in awe of the game that you have played for decades, and others have played for centuries, with ever-expanding horizons of possibility. Objectivity is understood, but some writers will allow their principles, or their personal preference for a certain opening variation or for one of the players, to color their analysis.

I am not asking you to change the way you understand chess. You already know about such oddities as the Budapest Gambit and the O’Kelly Sicilian. I am asking you to change the way you present and teach chess. Allow concrete analysis to do as much talking as possible. Don’t write off an attack as premature just because it happens to lose in one game.

Keep up the good work on your chess website. I have read some of the material there, and, aside from the foregoing criticism, I found it enjoyable.

Best, soberknight

Dec-06-05  hayton3: Subsequent proceedings have revealed the above pearls of wisdom to be pearls before swine. <Life Master AJ> revisit <soberknight>'s above posts. Not only will your rating increase, you might make a few friends.
Dec-07-05  sleepkid: <hayton3> ...I'm impressed. Finding a page that AJ hasn't even posted on for over a year and antagonizing him.

...perhaps you should give it a rest?

Even <soberknight>'s post is more than 7 months old, and was directed at an AJ post that was 6 months old.

Are you actively involved in the tracking and beating of dead horses, or is this just a hobby for you?

Let me state that I am not interested in defending AJ. However, if you have such animosity towards him, just add him to your ignore list... that way you could forget he was there, and I wouldn't have to read the fairly constant barrage of posts that you (and others) direct towards him.

...just because I was curious, I went over the last 10 posts you contributed to - 4 out of the 10 were directed towards AJ. If the pattern is consistent, then 40% of your time on is directed towards AJ.

...maybe you should spend your time here on more productively. Most of your other posts make for good reading, but 40% make for a waste of my time.

Dec-07-05  hayton3: Then I suggest you concentrate on the 60% that you say make for good reading.
Dec-07-05  sleepkid: <hayton3> i said "most of your other posts" - not all 60%. Your obsequious fawning over Ray Keene doesn't really make for good reading.

...just giving you a hard time...

Dec-07-05  hayton3: <sleepkid> When a master offers excellent advice on this site he should be encouraged. When he parades his title superciliously he is ready for the pillory.
Apr-30-06  alexandrovm: <LIFE Master AJ: Yes. I think whomever sent me the file with the virus ... it was deliberate.

How? Simple deduction. NO WAY a computer randomly generates a message like: "The Rublevsky - Volokitin game. <some> Changes and updates to our last analysis. Download immediately!" QED May-26-04 Benjamin Lau: Acirce, thanks for pointing out more of AJ's nonsense. Another inconsistency about AJ's post is that he claims I did analysis with him on this page. I don't see any at all, not a single line or variation. May-26-04
Premium Chessgames Member acirce: <The file was supposedly a zipped text file containing changes to some analysis we had gone over previously. It was from: <>> is not a chess site and is where they want you to send comments on their political analysis. > A piece of history here in This was <Benjamin Lau>'s last post, read his profile for more info. Where he might be now?

Jun-27-06  whatthefat: This game is a masterpiece.
Nov-18-06  Archives: Haha, reading the kibitzing to this game is better than watching "Days of our Lives"!! [maybe !?]

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Rublevsky is up the exchange in the final position.. How does he force the win after 26...Kg7 or Kg6? (if there is a forced win)
Mar-03-08  PolishPentium: It seems to this putz that there is merit to this move for Black---> 13...Nf3+. The two knights swarming around the White king must surely pose some menace, methinks. Would certainly appreciate, though, insight into whether anyone agrees, or, contrariswise, thinks PP is out to lunch...^^
Apr-20-08  positionalgenius: Amazing kibitzing on page 2 here
Dec-24-08  WhiteRook48: wow the kibitzing is just an B. L. vs AJ debate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  simonpantera: <chancho> White can just queen his b-pawn in few moves, and Black doesn't have a way to stop it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Muchas gracias <simonpantera>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: My analysis of this game. (The old GC site does not exist anymore.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 7..Qg4 was first played in T.Horvath-Uteri 1984 Hungarian Championship (game not included in this database). Black played 11..Nc6 and went on to win; 11..Kd8 was new. It should be noted that 11..Nc6 12 Ne1..0-0-0 13 Nb3 would have given White a promising initiative. Rublevsky identified 14..Nxe1? as the losing move recommending 14..Ne2+ 15 Kh1..Ndxc1 16 Nxc1..Ng3+! 17 hxg..Qh6+ 18 Kg1..Qe3+ 19 Rf2..Qxe1 20 Qf1..Qxf1+ 21 Kxf1..cxd 22 cxd..Rc8 with equality. 18..Nc2 19 Nxc5!..dxc 20 dxc..Nxe3 (20..e6 21 Raxd1+..Ke7 22 e5 and wins) 21 Rad1+..Nxd1 22 Rxd1+..Kc8 23 Qd7+..Kb8 24 Qd8# would not have helped Black. 23..Rc7 24 Qb8+..Kd7 25 Bb6!..axb 26 Ra8 would also have been winning for White.
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