GRAND CHESS
The Yerevan Games

by Malcolm Horne
From Variant Chess, Volume 3, Issue 24, Summer 1997, pages 71-72
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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 1716 incidentally, with just one game drawn. The players were all in the 22502350 Elo range, and the best scorers were Vardan Melkonyan (Armenia) with 12/12 and Tan Wei Sin (Malaysia) with 5/7.

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
1010 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)

Game 1
ARMAN HAIRAPETYAN v. VARDAN MELKONYAN
(both Armenia)

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. Na8 Ac5 8. Rjb1 e6 9. Bh7 ih7 10. Nc9 Kc9 11. de6 de6 12. Qd9 Cd9 13. f5?! e5 (13....ef5!?) 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. Cd3? allows 17. ... ed3 and Black promotes to a queen! 17. ... Ab1 18. Kc1 Cd1 19. Kd1 Ac3 20. Kc2 Aa1 White Resigns (01).

Game 2
AYAKYAN YEGISH v. TAN WEI SIN
(Armenia and Malaysia)

1. d5 f6 2. Rae1 Aa3!? 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. Bf7 Qf7 11. f4 Kc10 12. Kc2 Nb5 13. Bb4 Ae8 14. e5 fe5 15. Ne5 Qg8 16. Nc4 g6 17. f5 Rf10 18. Cd1 gf5 19. Nf5 Ag6 20. Kb2 Ai7 21. Ae3 Ng5

position after the 32nd move

22.Qg2 Kb9 23. Rjf1 Ce9 24. h4 Nf7 25. Ai7 ji7 26.Ne5 Ne5 27. Re5 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. Bd6 ed6 31.Re8 Qf7 32. R8e6 (diagram) 32. ... a5! 33. Rd6 a4! 34. ba4 If 34. Rd7? 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 Ra4 36. Re4 Qb7 37. Kc1 Ra1 38. Kd2 Rd1 39. Kd1 Ra10 40. Re9 Ra1 41. Ke2 Qb4 White Resigns (01).

Game 3
MOK TZE MENG v. TAN TZER EN
(both Malaysia)

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. ... fe6 14. Kg2 ef5 15. Bf5 Cd9 16. Cb4 Bc6 17. Kg1 Rf10 18. Ne5 d7 19. Nc6 dc6?! Better is 19. ... bc6, stopping White`s next. 20. d7! cd7 21. Cb7 Bh2 22. Qh2 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 Ac5 28. Kh1 Qb8 29. Qb8 Kd9 30. Cb9 Rc10 Not much better is 30. .. Cb9 here. 31. Qd8! Ke10 32. Cc9 Rc9 33. Qc9 Ng10 34. Be6 de6 35. Qc6 Aa3? 36. Qa6 Black Resigns (10).


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