This blog is about a wide range of topics, their common denominator being simply that I'm interested in them. My aim is to relieve my friends of my constant lecturing about such things as e.g. Chess, Football, Languages or Scandinavian Music ...

I appreciate readers' comments, no matter whether they are in English or German or any other language I'm finding myself able to understand.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dužan kao Grčka

Do you have feeling of déjà vu?
These days it is impossible to watch TV or read the news without being continuously reminded that Greece is on a highway to hell, that is, to bankruptcy. Even more so, leading or wanna-be-leading politicians of the European Union, e.g. Mutti, have long put forth the notion that the Greek debt crisis manifested itself as an utter surprise. Today I want to point out that the nations of the Balkans probably weren't surprised at all - the Croatian language even features an idiom referring to the subject.

Dužan kao Grčka - indebted like Greece. I first learned about this idiom from my Croatian chess student, who said he had known this idiom practically since his youth and that it always had the meaning of "being over one's head in debt". The fact that my student is in his forties implies that the idiom is not gauged towards the current crisis. Greece must have acquired a reputation for constantly being in debt long before they even became a member of the European Union, let alone a member of the European Currency Union.

Even newspapers make frequent use of the idiom. When the crisis reared its head in early 2010, the Croatian newspaper Vecernji List published an article titled "Zašto je Grčka dužna kao Grčka?" - Why is Greece indebted like Greece? A more recent article, published by Moja Rijeka in July 2011, suggested to alter the idiom slightly, thus reflecting the even more serious state of affairs in Italy: Dužan kao Italija. Last but not least the Croatians also mind their own business. Already published in February 2010, Slobodna Dalmacija asserts that Croatia has similar problems: Hrvatska dužna kao Grčka.

So what is the lesson of this? In a parallel universe we should insist that Angie and her predecessors learn Croatian, to begin with. Less concretely one could say that it might pay to listen to the smaller nations on the periphery, whose lore might contain a piece of wisdom, or even two. An idiom being part of a language for a very long time does probably not exist without having at least a grain of truth in it. Some might say that the idiom is just based on a stereotype. Germans are efficient, Scots are stingy, Swedes are blond and Greeks are broke. However, even a stereotype does not come out of nowhere...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two Sveshnikov Hammerings

One week has already passed since I returned from Bad Harzburg but work and other stuff kept me too busy to write a new post. This shall now be mended.

The tournament was not a particular success for me, as I drew two games in the early rounds and then suffered a loss in the fifth round. In that game, I stubbornly refused to draw, pushing my luck in order to maintain contact to the table leaders. In the end, I ran into mate instead of giving perpetual check, thus effectively ending my bid for a prize rank.

Following this defeat, I set out to at least cut my losses in the remaining three rounds. Here, I was successful, scoring three quick wins, still taking a small prize and preserving my rating. In rounds 7 and 8 I had Black in two consecutive Sveshnikov Sicilians. I smashed my opponents up thoroughly.

Hannes Leisner (2182) - Oliver Uwira (2251)
Bad Harzburg Open 2011 (Round 8)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. c3 Bg7 12. exf5 Bxf5 13. Nc2 Be6

So far, so good. This position was reached in both games. My opponent in round 7, however, didn't have a clue about how to deal with the 13..Be6 moveorder, which prevents White from playing Nce3 and Bd3. He had to learn that the hard way. Round 7 continued:

14. Nce3 Ne7 15. Nxe7? Qxe7 Black cannot prevent d6-d5 anymore after this. 16. Bd3 d5 17. Nf5 Qg5 18. Nxg7+ Qxg7 19. Qh5? Better is the exchange sacrifice 19. O-O e4 20. Bc2 Bh3 21. g3 Bxf1 22. Qxd5 O-O 23. Rxf1 Rfe8 where White has sufficient compensation. I probably wouldn't have taken the exchange. 19... e4 Also playable is 19... Qxg2 20. Qxe5 Qxh1+ 21. Kd2 Qxa1 22. Qxh8+ Ke7 23. Qxa8 Qxb2+ 24. Bc2 when White apparently does not have a perpetual check. Over the board, this was not clear enough to me and therefore I didn't take any chances. Even more so because my continuation is also almost winning. 20. Bf1 b4 21. Rc1 bxc3 22. bxc3 O-O 23. Qh4 Rfc8 24. Be2 Rxc3 Now White can't castle because Be6-h3 would win even more material. White is lost and the remainder of the game is agony. 25. Rd1 Rc2 26. Rg1 Rxa2 27. Qf4 Re8 28. Qe3 Ra1 29. f3 d4 30. Qd2 Rxd1+ 31. Bxd1 Bc4 32. Qb4 Bb5 33. Bb3 exf3+
34. Kf2 Re2+ 35. Kxf3 Qf6+ 36. Kg4 Re4+ 37. Kg3 Qf4+ 0-1

Back to round 8:

14. g3! 

This is the best move, because it allows White to take with the bishop after 14...Ne7 15. Bg2 Nxd5? 16. Bxd5 with a clear advantage for White.

14...O-O 15. Bg2 a5 16. O-O f5 17. Nf4?! 

After the game my opponent told me that his theoretical knowledge had been coming to an end around this point. The text move had caught his eye, and after some calculation, he considered it worth a try. I wasn't sure about the theory either, but I knew the antidote against stuff like this is usually: sacrifice and attack! Thus it didn't take me a lot of time to play:
17...exf4 18. Bxc6 fxg3 19. hxg3 f4! 20. Nd4?!

Even though the silicon brain likes 20. Bxa8, it would take balls of steel for White to play that over the board, as the Black compensation for the measly exchange looks massive. In fact, Houdini 1.5 evaluates the sequence 20. Bxa8 Qxa8 with only 0.18 in White's favour - which means I'm going to sacrifice three such exchanges before breakfast without even questioning my compensation.

The text move 20. Nd4, however,  makes things very difficult for White. Best would have been 20. Bd5, which halves the dangerous bishop pair. 


The bot still wants to eat the exchange after 20...Bc4, but in my opinion, the lecture about compensation from the above paragraph still applies here. Apart from that, Black can force a perpetual check with 20...fxg3 - this was out of the question for me, of course, as I have already explained in the introduction. 

21. Qg4 


A cute move in typical Sveshnikov style. It rescues the rook and prepares its swing to g7, where it will brutally join Black's kingside attack. Moreover, White can't play 23. Ne6 because of 23...Qc8 and Black wins.

22. Rfd1?!

I have a lot of difficulties in pin-pointing the exact moment where White goes downhill. Houdini says that the position is still equal after 22. Bxb5 but I have to admit that this too complex for me to evaluate without analysing for hours.

All I know is that Black's game is much easier, because the attack plays itself in most variations and disaster lies in wait for White at the slightest inaccuracy.

22...Kh8 23. b3 Bxd4 24. Rxd4 Rg7 25. Qh3

During the game I thought the queen sacrifce 25. Qxg7+ Kxg7 26. bxc4 would offer White drawing chances. I had planned 26...b4! and the post-mortem confirmed that this move results in a definite Black advantage. The point is that White can't play 27. cxb4 because of the double attack Qb6 and therefore, Black will create a passed pawn at c3 which is too much for White to handle.

After the text move, the Black attack crashes through.

25...fxg3 26. f3 Qc7 27. bxc4 

A nice finish is 27. Be4 Bxb3! 28. axb3 Qxc3 29. Rad1 Qe3+ 30. Kh1 g2+ 31. Kh2 Qf2 and Black wins.

27...Qxc6 28. Rf1 bxc4 29. f4 Qe8 0-1

White resigned because of 30. Rf3 g2 31. Rd1 Qe2 32. Ra1 Re8 and White can't prevent the loss of heavy material after 33...Qe1+.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Before I pack up my stuff and head off towards the Bad Harzburg Open, I'd just like to post my nice mating attack from yesterday, played in the first round of the French Club Championship for the Alsatian Club Cercle d'Échecs de Saverne. This game was the first strike of our 7-0 crush, which was a bit harsh on our opponents, who, although they had just gained promotion last season, deserved more than a single draw ouf of eight games.

With regard to the Bad Harzburg open, I will try to post updates, but noone knows whether this will work out, given that two games are to be played on most days and I'll also have some teaching duties there.

Oliver Uwira (2251) - Jean-Michel Kempenich (2089)
Saverne - Sarreguemines (Nationale III)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 c5 6. e3 O-O

More precise is 6... b6! 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. f3 because with the pawn at f3 it is more difficult to bring the queen to the kingside, unless White commits to playing f3-f4. The resulting loss of tempo Bc8-b7-a6 is made up by White having to play f2-f3-f4. White cannot try to take advantage of the black moveorder by means of 8. Ne2?. This is an unsound pawn sacrifice, which is refuted by 8...Bxg2 9. Rg1 Be4! 10. Bxe4 (not 10. Rxg7? Bg6 and Black wins) 10...Nxe4 and Black is clearly better, as 11. Rxg7?! is followed by 11...Qf6 12. Rg2 Nc6 and White is in deep trouble.

7. Bd3 Nc6 8. Ne2 b6 9. e4 Ne8 10. O-O Ba6 11. Be3!?

This is a rarely played attempt to exploit the fact that Black has not forced the white f-pawn to advance yet. If Black plays 11...d6, White can prevent the blockade f7-f5 by means of 12. Ng3, which will give a subsequent advance f2-f4 a lot more punch than usual.


Much better is 11... Nd6! when after 12. dxc5 Nxc4 13. Bxc4 Bxc4 14. Re1 Black has good play on the light squares.

12. Ng3 cxd4 13. cxd4 Na5 14. Qe2 Rc8 15. Rac1

Now White is ready for the push f2-f4-f5 which would yield a strong kingside attack.


Black tries to improve the position of his knight, but by doing so he allows White to open the flood gates on the kingside. Nevertheless, this seems to be the best move for Black.

16. e5! dxe5 17. dxe5 Nd7 18. Rfd1 Qe7

Now White's queenside lies in ruins. Therefore, his success hinges on an exact conduct of his kingside attack.

19. Bf4!

Moves like f2-f4 are completely unacceptable. The dark-squared bishop would be dearly missed on the kingside.


Natural but disastrous. Black believes that he is winning a tempo, because the white bishop is seemingly too precious to give it up. This is not the case but White succumbs to the same illusion.

20. Bb1?

After 20. Nh5!! Black is stone dead, e.g. 20...Nxd3 21. Qg4 f6 22. exf6 Qf7 23. Rxd3 and Black's kingside will collapse.

20... Rfd8?

Black is not sensing the danger, as his previous move has already shown. Now the white attack gets going again - and this time Black will not be let off the hook again.

Houdini 1.5 likes 20... Qh4! - this move was also suggested by my opponent during the post-mortem. We then analysed 21. Nh5 for at least 30 minutes without finding salvation for Black. Houdini's suggestion is the apparently ridiculous 21...f5! with the surprising point that after 22. exf6 g6 the white knight does not have access to f6, turning the tables against White.

21. Qg4! Rxd1+ 22. Rxd1 Rd8 23. Re1


This accelerates Black's demise, but there was no rescue in sight in any case. Black has parked the bus on the queenside, leaving his king outgunned by five white attackers.

24. Nh5!

Either Black will be mated or he will lose heaps of material.

24...Kf8 25. Qxg7+ Ke8 26. Bg5 Qb7 27. Nf6+ Kd8 28. Nd5+ Kd7 29. Qxf7+ Kc6 30. Nb4# 1-0

Monday, October 10, 2011

Revilopedia is back!

A long time has passed since I have written something here, but as I handed in my final thesis two weeks ago and I'm technically not a student anymore, I feel quite relieved and am now ready to continue my blog. The way I feel at the moment is probably only comprehensible to folks who also had to work for earning a living while trying to get a degree. It's just sick, because you're never able to focus 100% on anything - everything gets mixed up, and priorities can't easily be set.

Now, however the ordeal is over and somehow my sporting form has returned out of nowhere. Last season, my club team eventually ascended to the Hessenliga, i.e. the 4th division of the German chess league system, and I managed to score 2/2 against strong opposition at the beginning of this year's season. I'm going to post my game from yesterday - a tense encounter against a fine player where I eventually got the best of it.

Oliver Uwira (2251) - Lothar Schnitzspan (2327)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5

I've been playing chess for 25 years now, but I still haven't got a clue about how to deal with the Grünfeld defense. The best I have in my armoury is the endgame variation, which Karpov and Kramnik used to torture Kasparov in their World Championship matches. This variation, however, is very drawish, but at least White can't lose so easily. 

4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Be3 c5 8. Qd2 Nd7!?

Oh well... Black does not want to play the endgame which arises after 8...Qa5 9. Rc1 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qxd2+ 11. Kxd2. Instead, he plays a move that I had never seen before. Now I am on my own! 

9. Bc4 Nf6 10. f3 O-O 11. Ne2 Qa5 12. Rb1 a6 

White is at a crossroads. If I don't do anything at all, Black will simply expand his queenside and should not have any problems at all. I therefore decided to gobble up the pawn at c5 after a couple of preparatory moves, thus ruining my structure while counting on the resulting passed pawn and the material advantage.  

13. e5 Ne8 14. f4 Nc7 15. dxc5 Ne6 16. Bxe6 Bxe6 17. Rxb7

Phase One has been accomplished. Now the hopes of White hinge on the passed pawn at c5. The other pawns on the queenside are most likely beyond rescue. White might also face trouble on the light squares.

17...Rfd8 18. Nd4 Bxa2

This move did actually surprise me because it allows a tactical simplification that should turn out to be in White's favour. The post-mortem analysis with my opponent convinced me, though, that this is Black's best try, as otherwise Black might find it well impossible to create enough compensation for his material deficit.  

19. Nc6! Rxd2 20. Nxa5 Rc2 21. c4 Bxc4 22. Kd1?

Overly ambitious, and likely to cause White serious trouble. I thought it would be a good idea to go and overload the black bishop with the defense of the rook and the promotion square at c8 - I didn't, however, account for the black mating ideas (seriously!) that show up once Black plays Bh6. This could have cost me dearly, but fortunately Black didn't find a safe path through the maze. Much better was 22. Nxc4 Rxc4 23. Ke2 after which Black has to fight for the draw due to the comic positioning of his bishop at g7.  

22...Bd3 23. c6 Rc8 24. Bb6 Kf8?

This is a serious mistake and probably loses already. The king runs to aid the rook in containing the white pawn, but Black sets himself up for various backrank mate tactics.  Much better was 24...Bh6! and after 25. g3 Be4 White is in dire straits. I haven't dug deeply yet but I believe this would have been the refutation of 22. Kd1.

25. c7 Rxg2 26. Re1 Bc2+ 27. Kc1 Bf5 28. Rb8 Ke8 29. Rxc8+ 1-0

Black resigned because of the point 29...Bxc8 30. Rd1 Bd7 31. c8Q+ Bxc8 32. Rd8#.