Between the 19th and 29th of September last year (1996) 24 players (11 from Armenia, 7 Malaysia, 2 Singapore, 2 Faroe Islands, 1 Myanmar and 1 Mozambique) took part in the Grand Chess ‘Yerevan Games’, held alongside the FIDE Chess Olympiad in Armenia.
Although not a full-scale tournament (several players completed just one or two games), a total — or grand total? — of 34 games were played. White came out on top 17–16 incidentally, with just one game drawn. The players were all in the 2250–2350 Elo range, and the best scorers were Vardan Melkonyan (Armenia) with 12/12 and Tan Wei Sin (Malaysia) with 5½/7.
Digital game timers were used in Fischer mode, with 15 seconds additional time per move (and presumably little or no basic time to start off with?). Although an admirable event, it is a pity that the time limit was so fast, especially bearing in mind that the players had little or no previous experience of the game. Fast time limits may provide excitement, but they generally produce bad chess. Most of the games were spoilt by very elementary tactical errors, and 15 seconds extra per move really makes it very difficult to have any grand insights. Nevertheless here are three of the games which rose above the crowd.
Rules of Grand Chess
10×10 board. Starting position as illustrated.
Rotated symbols indicate added knight powers.
The double pawn move option is as usual, including en passant capture, but pawn promotion is only to a piece that has been lost and is on any of the back three ranks — optional on the first two, compulsory on the last (similar to Shogi). There is no castling. (See also VC19, p. 181.)
In the game scores that follow the R+N is denoted by C for Chancellor and the B+N is denoted by A for Archbishop. (The inventor, Christiaan Freeling, calls the pieces Marshall and Cardinal respectively. ECV p.129)
ARMAN HAIRAPETYAN v. VARDAN MELKONYAN
1. Nh4 This was the second most popular opening try (7 games). Commonest was e5 (12); also d5 (6), f5 (4), b4 (2), g5 (1), e4 (1) and Rae1 (1). Strangely no Nc4. 1....Nh7 2. Nc4 f6 3. d5 g7 4. g4 Rae10 5. Bf5 Kd10?! 6. Nb6 Winning a pawn, although in Grand Chess a mere pawn is not necessarily vital. 6. ... d7 7. N×a8 Ac5 8. Rjb1 e6 9. B×h7 i×h7 10. N×c9 K×c9 11. d×e6 d×e6 12. Q×d9† C×d9 13. f5?! e5 (13....e×f5!?) 14. Aa8† Kc10 15. c4 e4!? 16. Cd1? Necessary is 16. Rd1, so that d3 is covered thee times rather than just twice. 16....Ad3† (diagram).
17.Kd2 Unfortunately 17. C×d3? allows 17. ... e×d3 and Black promotes to a queen! 17. ... A×b1† 18. Kc1 C×d1† 19. K×d1 Ac3† 20. Kc2 A×a1† White Resigns (0–1).
AYAKYAN YEGISH v. TAN WEI SIN
(Armenia and Malaysia)
1. d5 f6 2. Rae1 A×a3!? Winning a pawn, but arguably losing too much time. 3. Nc4 Ag9 4. Kd1 Kd10 5. g4 Nh7 6. Nh4 g7 7. Bd6 e7 8. Ba3 Nc7 9. Bg6 Bf7 10. B×f7 Q×f7 11. f4 Kc10 12. Kc2 Nb5 13. Bb4 Ae8 14. e5 f×e5 15. N×e5 Qg8 16. Nc4 g6 17. f5 Rf10 18. Cd1 g×f5 19. N×f5 Ag6 20. Kb2 Ai7 21. Ae3 Ng5
position after the 32nd move
22.Qg2 Kb9 23. Rjf1 Ce9 24. h4 Nf7 25. A×i7 j×i7 26.Ne5 N×e5 27. R×e5 Cd7 28. Rfe1 a6! The start of an interesting idea. White`s problem is that his king is more vulnerable than Black`s. 29. c4 Nd6 30. B×d6 e×d6 31.Re8 Qf7 32. R8e6 (diagram) 32. ... a5! 33. R×d6 a4! 34. b×a4 If 34. R×d7? Black promotes to an archbishop on a3 giving check. So instead the dangerous pawn has to be removed ... leaving Black with an irresistible attack. 34. ... Cc5 35. Qc2 R×a4 36. Re4 Qb7† 37. Kc1 Ra1† 38. Kd2 R×d1† 39. K×d1 Ra10 40. Re9 Ra1† 41. Ke2 Qb4 White Resigns (0–1).
MOK TZE MENG v. TAN TZER EN
1. f5 b7 2. e5 i7 3. d5 Bb8 4. g5 j6?! This looks rather inappropriate. 5. Ae3 Bj7† 6. Kf1 e7 7. Re1 Rah10 8.Ce4 Kd10 Here 8. ... h6!? would be logical after Black`s previous move. 9. Ca4 a7 10. e6 Qc9 11. c5 f7 12. Nc4 Bg10 13. d6?! Loses a pawn. 13. ... f×e6 14. Kg2 e×f5 15. B×f5 Cd9 16. Cb4 Bc6† 17. Kg1 Rf10 18. Ne5 d7 19. N×c6 d×c6?! Better is 19. ... b×c6, stopping White`s next. 20. d7! c×d7 21. C×b7 B×h2† 22. Q×h2 Qc8 23.Ca9 (diagram)
23. ... Qe8?! The alternative 23. ... Qb8? loses to 24.Ca10†! but 23. .. Qc7 looks OK, trying to dilute White`s attack. Instead White soon begins to pose too many problems. 24. Nh4 h7 25. Ac4 e6 26. Aa6 Cc9 27.Ab8 A×c5† 28. Kh1 Q×b8 29. Q×b8 Kd9 30. C×b9 Rc10 Not much better is 30. .. C×b9 here. 31. Qd8†! Ke10 32. C×c9† R×c9 33. Q×c9 Ng10 34. B×e6 d×e6 35. Q×c6 A×a3? 36. Qa6† Black Resigns (1–0).