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David vs. Goliath: Upsets of the Week

User Rating: / 11
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 26 February 2013

By candidate master Peter Zhdanov, editor of

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In this special weekly column we will be looking at the most unexpected upsets that happened last week. Players usually face opponents of a comparable level. Considerably less frequent are situations when a significantly lower-rated player succeeds in beating a much stronger adversary.

If you have ever won a game against someone rated 300 points or above of yourself, please send it to us for publication. Any additional information (a photo, annotations, etc.) will be appreciated.

Top-10 upsets:

Rychagov (1895) - Belous (2553), 1-0, 658 points
Birgisdottir (1783) - Miedema (2364), 1-0, 581 points
Jensen (1909) - Urkedal (2473), 1-0, 564 points
Kolica (1251) - Leifsson (1759), 1-0, 508 points
Orlova (1978) - Davidsdottir (1479), 0-1, 499 points
Sergeev (2469) - Koitka (2007), 0-1, 462 points
Piotrowski (1996) - Kolosowski (2441), 1-0, 445 points
Helin (1910) - Kashlinskaya (2350), 1-0, 440 points
Kutnik (2142) - Ciortan (1708), 0-1, 434 points
Petersen (1370) - Leifsson (1759), 1-0, 389 points

Average gap: 495; White won 7 games, Black won 3 games

Replay the games

Dear Natalia! Dear Peter!

With great pleasure I read on your homepage about "David versus Goliath" encounters. In 1985 I won against a player of the German "Bundesliga". Has rating was at least 448 ELO better than mine. I send you this astonishing game with some explanatory notes and hope that you and your readers will enjoy it.

For several years I made a living by playing accordion as you can see from one of the pictures I added. Now I work for a Swiss firm in Berlin as a technical supporter, this is why I have a Swiss mail account. But I'm a German who was born in Bavaria in 1963. When I read my first chess book in 1977 it was already too late to become a really good player, but nevertheless I do know something about the game and often visited important chess events, e.g. World championships 1981, 1993, 2004, 2008, Chess Olympiad 2008 etc. Occasionally I wrote about chess events, e.g. the Nuremberg open 1984 for the Swiss chess magazine "Schachwoche".

I'm also a fan of the Russian women's chess team and hope you will be as successfull as during the last few years. Congratulations for winning the Russian superfinal and the gold medal at the Chess Olympiad. If you and your husband ever come to Berlin, feel free to contact me. I would be very glad to invite you, I even know how to play some Russian tunes with my accordion.

Greetings from Berlin, good luck and lots of success for you and the whole family
Stephan Oliver Platz

Rudolf Mandl - Stephan Oliver Platz
Badenweiler open, 2nd round
October, 26th, 1985

In the 2nd round of the open in Badenweiler 1985 I had to face an opponent who
played for the SK Heidelberg in the German Bundesliga (premier league), while I only
played in a minor league. The rating system used in Germany at the time (until 1991)
was the so called INGO system. The lower the INGO rating the stronger was the
player. The difference of one INGO is equivalent to a difference of 8 ELO. When the
game was played Rudolf Mandl's INGO rating was 68. I remember that my best INGO ever
was 124 which I had reached after the Nuremberg open in November 1984. This means my
INGO rating in october 1985 cannot have been better than 124, may be a little worse.
Thus the difference in playing strength was at least 124 - 68 = 56 INGO x 8 = 448
ELO. According to a mathematical formula (1) it was possible to convert INGO ratings
into ELO ratings. In 1985 an INGO rating of 68 was equivalent to 2296 ELO and INGO
124 was equivalent to 1848 ELO. Taking into account the ELO inflation (2) we must
add about 144 ELO to get the respective values of 2013: 1992 versus 2440 or in other
words David versus Goliath.

1.e4     e5
2.Nf3    d5?!

Previously that year I had read Simon Webb's book "Chess for Tigers" where he
recommended to lead a highly superior player into a swamp hoping that he might sink
first (3). That's exactly what I had in mind with my mighty opponent. 2. ... d5?! is
the starting point of a dubious gambit leading to a fine game for White if he
answers with 3.exd5.


3.Nxe5 is considerably weaker although it was remommended in the 1975 edition of the
famous textbook by Jean Dufresne and Jacques Mieses (4). After 3. ... Bd6 4.d4 dxe4
5.Bc4 Bxe5 6.Qh5 Qe7 7.dxe5 Nc6 the position is even. Black can play the more risky
3.Nxe5 dxe4 4.Bc4 Qg5 with the trap 5.Nxf7? Qxg2 6.Rf1 Bg4 7.f3 Bxf3 8.Rf2 Qg1+
9.Rf1 Qg4 - + Dufresne/Mieses p. 43 (4) and Modern Chess Openings, German edition,
p. 117-118 (5), but after 5.Bxf7+! Ke7 (5. ... Kd8!?) 6.d4 Qxg2 7.Rf1 Bh3 8.Bc4 Nf6
9.Bf4 Nbd7 10.Qd2 Nb6 11.Be2 Nbd5 12.Nc3 White is better (v. Feilitzsch - Keres,
correspondence game 1935).

3. ...    e4

Leading to very obscure positions (just the right way into the swamp). 3. ...Qxd5
4.Nc3 Qa5 is Scandinavian like and gives White a good game. Or Black may try 3. ...
Bd6!? 4.d4 e4 5.Ne5 Nf6 with some counter chances.


Better than 4.Ne5 Qxd5 5.d4 exd4 e.p. 6.Nxd3 =.

4. ...   Qe7

In the preparation for the game I had considered other moves, too, but none could
attract me. After 4. ... Nf6 5.d3 Be7 (5. ... Qxd5 6.Nfd2!) 6.dxe4 o-o Black is
already two pawns down and has gained only two tempi for them. Instead of 5.d3 White
can play 5.Nc3 Be7 6.Nxe4 Nxd5 and again Black has not enough compensation for the
sacrificed pawn, cf. Modern Chess Openings, German edition, p. 117 - 118 (5). 4. ...
f5 is known from a game Tal - Lutikov, Talinn 1964: 5.d3 Nf6 6.dxe4 fxe4 7.Nc3 Bb4
8.Qb5+ c6 9.Qxb4 exf3 10.Bg5 cxd5 11.o-o-o Nc6 12.Qa3 +-. 12.Qh4 seems to be still
stronger for White. Or 4. ... Be7!? 5.Qxe4 Nf6 6.Bb5+ += blindfold game Paul Morphy
- Louis Paulsen (1857).

5.Nd4    g6

I hadn't found this move in any of my numerous chess books and so I thought I had
invented it. Ten years later I discovered that it had already been played in the
19th century (1863) in a game Steinitz - Deacon. The continuation was 6.c4 Bg7 7.Nc2
Nd7 8.d3 f5 (8. ... exd3!? 9.Qxe7+ Nxe7 10.Bxd3 Nc5 11.Be2 Na4) 9.dxe4 (9.d4!?) fxe4
10.f3 Ngf6 11.Nbd2 Nc5 and Black had a good game for the sacrificed pawn (0:1/41).
Perhaps 8.Nc3 is a little better, e.g. 8. ... Nc5 9.Qe3 Nd3+ 10.Bxd3 exd3 11.Qxe7+
Nxe7 12.Ne3 Nf5 13.b3 Nd4 ~.

The move 5. ... g6 is very logical. The queen on e7 obstructs the King's bishop
which must be developed. Furthermore it leads to many surprising und unclear

After 5. ... Nf6 6.Nc3 Qe5 7.Nf3 Qe7 8.Ng5 Bf5 9.Qb5+ Nbd7 10.d6! Qe5 11.Qxb7 Nb6
12.Bb5+ White has a clear advantage. After 5. ... Qe5 GM Ludek Pachman recommended
6.Nb5 Bd6 (6. ... Qxd5? 7.Nxc7+) 7.d4 Qe7 (7. ... Qxd5 8.N1c3) 8.c4 +- (6).

6.Nc3    Bg7

A strong move. Perhaps 7.Ndb5! (7. ... a6? 8.d6! cxd6 9.Sd5) Nf6 8.b3 is still
stronger. Black should meet this attack with a6 (8. ... o-o? 9.Ba3) 9.Ba3 Qd7 10.Nd4
Kd8!, e.g. 11.o-o-o Nxd5 12.Qxe4 Nf6 13.Qe1

13.Qe3 or 13.Qd3 would be met by Ng4, but 13.Qh4!? Qg4 14.Nf3 Qxh4 15.Nxh4 Ng4
16.Ne4 f5 17.h3! can be played.

13. ... Re8 (13. ... Qxd4? 14.Qe7+ mate) 14.Nde2 b5. White has maintained the gambit
pawn, but the position is still full of possibilities for both sides.

9. ... Qd8 (instead of 9. ... Qd7) looks tempting because after 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 (10.
... axb5? 11.Nxf6++ mate) 11.Qxe4+ Kd7 Black threatens to win the Queen by 12. ...
Re8 while rook a1 and knight b5 are hanging, but 12.Qf4 Re8+ 13.Kd1! turns things
into White's favour, e.g. 13. ... Bxa1 14.c3 Bb2 (14. ... axb5? 15.Bxb5+ c6? 16.Qd6+
mate) 15.Bb4! Although White is a rook down, Black's position is helpless with his
bishop b2 shut in, four undeveloped pieces (Qd8, Bc8, Nb8, Ra8) and the King in a
precarious situation.

7. ...   cxd6

7. ... Qxd6 8.Nxe4 Qxd4? 9.Nf6++ Kf8 (d8) 10.Qe8+ matt. 8.Ndb5!? 8.Qe4:+!?

8.Nd5   Qd8

9.Nb5 could be met by 9. ... Na6 or even 9. ... Kf8 10.Ndc7 (10.Nbc7? Nf6) a6
11.Nxa8 axb5 12.Qxb5 Nc6 13.c3 (13.Nb6? Nd4) Nge7 14.Nb6 Be6, again leading to
obscure complications. White is the exchange and a pawn ahead, but Black has a
strong center and the superior development.

9. ...  Kf8        

An active looking developing move, but I think 10.Be2 would have been more accurate.
10.Nb5 could lead to a variaton mentioned before (10. ... Na6), but 10. ... Nc6
looks better.

10. ...  Nc6

11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Nb4 Bb7 13.Qf3 (12.Nxc6? Qe8) Qe7+ 14.Qe2 Qxe2+ is good for Black,
eg. 15.Bxe2 c5 or 15.Kxe2? a5 16.Sd3 Te8+ 17.Kf3 (17.Kd1 Re4! 18.Bb3 a4 19.f3 Rh4)
h5 18.Re1 c5+ 19.Kg3 Rxe1 20.Nxe1 h4+ 21.Kh3 Be5 and White is helpless.

11. ... Bf5

11. ... Nf6!? 12.Nxf6 Bf5 resp. 12.Qf4 Na5.

12.Qe2  Qd7

The Black position doesn't look so bad. His rook will soon go to e8 and create some


I would have prefered 13.o-o Re8 (13. ... Bxc2? 14.d3) 14.Qd1.

13. ... Re8
14.c3   Nf6

14. ... d5 15.Bb5 d4 (15. ... Bg4!?) 16.Nxd4 Bxd4 17.cxd4 Qxd4 18.o-o a6? (18. ...
Bd7) 19.Bxc6 Bd3 (19. ... bxc6 20.Nxf5) 20.Nf5 Bxe2 21.Nxd4 bxc6 22.Re1 is good for


Threatening 16.d5 Ne5 17.Bb5.

15. ... a6

Probably 15. ... d5 16.Bb5 Bg4 was better. If White plays 16.Bb3 we get similar
positions as afterwards in the game with the advantage that Black can make a more
useful move instead of a6. Or 16.Bd3 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 Bh6 18.o-o Kg7.


After 16.d5 I think that 16. ... Ne5 17.Nxe5 Rxe5 is better than 16. ... Ne7 17.Qd1!
(17.Nxf5? Nxf5 18.Be3 Nxe3 19.fxe3 Bh6). Now Black can attack White's Queen's pawn
with four of his pieces, but even if he manages to gain it, his own Queen's Pawn is
weak and likely to fall, e.g. 17. ... b5 18.Bb3 Qb7 (18. ... h6!?) 19.Ng5! Bxd5
20.Nxd5 Nexd5 (20. ... Nfxd5? 21.Qf3!) 21.Qd3! followed soon by Rd1.

16. ... h5

Removing the Queen from her precarious position in the open e-file.

17. ... Bg4
18.h3   d5
19.Bd3  Ne4?!

Objectively this is a decisive mistake, because if White defends accurately, he will
survive the attack and win with his extra piece. I don't think that I calculated
many variations, I simply wanted to give my opponent some trouble. The h-file is
opened for my rook, and White plays for some time without his rook a1 and his bishop
c1. The "correct" move would have been 19. ... Qd6. If White now plays 20.hxg4 Black
has still some counterchances, e.g. 20. ... hxg4 21.Nxg4 Nxg4 22.g3 Qd7 23.Bf4 Nf6
24.Re1 Ne4 and you will find that Black has some unpleasent threats due to his
command over the h-file. But I think that White can play better: 21.g3 (instead of
21.Nxg4) gxf3 22.Qxf3 Ne4. When we compare this position with the previous one we
find that White's Queen is in a better position for defensive purposes. But White
need not capture on g4. He can simply play 20.Re1.

20.hxg4   hxg4
21.Bxe4!  Rxe4

Planning the sacrifice of the rook in order to create still more complications. 21.
... dxe4 (21. ... gxf3 22.Bxf3 +-) 22.Ne5 Qe7 23.Qxg4 (23.N5xg4!?) Nxe5 (23. ... f5?
24.Nxg6+) 24.dxe5 Bxe5 25.g3 White is still a piece up and will successfully defend
his King.

22.Ng5  f5

After 23.Nxe4 dxe4 the Black Queen shall be ready to go to h7. The pawn f5 is now
already out of her way and additionally defends his neighbor on g4. 22. ... Qd6
leads to nothing after 23.g3 (23.Nxg4? Rxg4!).


After 22. ... f5 a situation had been reached similar to those Simon Webb had
mentioned in his book. The position is so abundant of good looking continuations
(23.Nxe4, 23.f3, 23.f4, 23.Re1, 23.Qb3) that it is diffucult to decide which one is
the best. Rudolf Mandl decided to run no risk and open his King an outlet via f2.
Later on we shall see that he could have taken the offered rook.

23. ...   g3

Preventing the escape of White's King and preparing a trap that had been in my mind
for some time. 23. ... Re8 would have been met by 24.Qb3 Rd8 25.Nd5:! Qd5: 26.Ne6+.


I had expected him not to take the rook on e4. With 23.f4 he had shown his intention
to give his King a retreat, and so it is completely logical to get rid of my g3

24. ...  Bxd4!

This was the move I had prepared for him. I wanted to convince my oppenent that it
not advisable to take the knight or the pawn hoping that he now might take the rook
which he could have done already twice.


My opponent thought for some minutes before he made this move. I can imagine what
happened. After 24. ... Bxd4! he first calculated the consequences of 25.cxd4 Nxd4
26.Qxg3? running into 26. ... Ne2+ losing the queen. He got in his unconscious mind
that it is bad to take the bishop and the pawn. More and more confused by the
unusual positions he had to face since the opening he started to look for better
moves and returned to Nxe4 which would have done him no harm one or two moves
earlier and made this move without looking deeper into the position. With the modest
25.Qxg3! he could have succesfully parried all of Black's threats, e.g. 25. ... Bxe3
26.Bxe3 Re8 27.Bc5+ Kg7 28.Rae1. The undeveloped White pieces have come into play
and Black has no more compensation for the sacrificed piece.

25. ... Rh1+!

After this White had to resign because of 26.Kxh1 Qh7+ 27.Qh5 Qxh5+ 28.Kg1 Qh2+ mate.

Let's return to move 23 and 24 when the rook on e4 could have been captured:

a) 23.Nxe4 dxe4 24.g3 Bxd4! 25.Kg2! and White will successfully repel the attack,
e.g. 25. ... Rh3 26.cxd4 Nxd4 27.Rh1 Qh7 28.Bd2 Nf3 29.Bb4+ Ke8 30.Qd5! (now White
becomes the attacker) Rh2+ 31.Rxh2 Qxh2+ 32.Kf1 Qh1+ 33.Ke2 Qxa1 34.Qe6+ Kd8 35.Ba5+
and mates next move.

b) 24.Nxe4 dxe4 25.Qe1! Bf6 26.Qxg3 Qh7 27.Bd2 (27.Kf2? Bh4 loses the Queen) Bh4
28.Qh3! Qc7 29.g3 Bf6 30.Qg2 again with a victorious defence, e.g. 30. ... Bxd4
31.cxd4 Nxd4 32.Bc3 Nf3+ 33.Rxf3!.

But of course it's always hard to calculate such complicated variations over the

I hope you enjoyed this little game.

Greetings from Berlin

S. O. Platz

(1) Elo = 2840 - 8 x INGO (from Lind?rfer, "Das rororo Schachbuch von A - Z",
Reinbek bei Hamburg 1984, p. 77 and 129)

(2) The ELO inflation can be calculated by comparing the respective ELO rating lists:

January 1985 FIDE rating list. Top 10 players         
   1 Kasparov, Gary....................   URS  2715
   2 Karpov, Anatoly...................   URS  2705
   3 Timman, Jan.......................   NLD  2650
   4 Vaganian, Rafael..................   URS  2640
5-6 Beliavsky, Alexander..............   URS  2635 
     Portisch, Lajos...................   HUN  2635
   7 Kortchnoi, Viktor.................   SWZ  2630
   8 Polugaevsky, Lev..................   URS  2625
9-10 Nunn, John........................   ENG  2615
     Ribli Zoltan......................   HUN  2615

average rating (1-10): 26465:10 = 2646,5

Top 10 Players January 2013 - Archive        
Rank        Name        Title        Country        Rating        Games        B-Day

1         Carlsen, Magnus         g         NOR         2861         8         1990-11-30
2         Kramnik, Vladimir         g         RUS         2810         8         1975-06-25
3         Aronian, Levon         g         ARM         2802         8         1982-10-06
4         Radjabov, Teimour         g         AZE         2793         0         1987-03-12
5         Caruana, Fabiano         g         ITA         2781         11         1992-07-30
6         Karjakin, Sergey         g         RUS         2780         11         1990-01-12
7         Anand, Viswanathan         g         IND         2772         8         1969-12-11
8         Topalov, Veselin         g         BUL         2771         0         1975-03-15
9         Nakamura, Hikaru         g         USA         2769         8         1987-12-09
10         Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar         g         AZE         2766         11         1985-04-12

average rating (1-10): 27905 : 10 = 2790,5

ELO inflation 1985 - 2013: 2790,5 - 2646,5 = 144 ELO

It is interesting to see that Magnus Carlsen's 2861 ELO from the January 2013 rating
list are equivalent to 2717 ELO back in 1985 which is almost identical with
Kasparov's ELO of 2715. Kasparov turned 22 in April 1985 and became the World
champion in the same year, Carlsen turned 22 in November 2012 and has good chances
to win the title in 2013.

(3) Simon Webb, "Schach f?r Tiger", Reinbek bei Hamburg 1980, p. 53 - 82.

(4) Jean Dufresne/Jacques Mieses, Lehrbuch des Schachspiels, Stuttgart 1975, p. 43.

(5) Walter Korn/Larry Evans, "Moderne Schacher?ffnungen" (German edition of "Modern
Chess Openings"), Hamburg 1967, p. 117-118.

(6) Ludek Pachman, "Er?ffnungspraxis im Schach", Munich 1976, p. 49.

The analysis and text is courtesy of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of editorial board

Related reading:
Episode 14
Episode 13
Episode 12
Episode 11
Episode 10
Episode 9
Episode 8
Episode 7
Episode 6
Episode 5
Episode 4
Episode 3
Episode 2
Episode 1

Comments (2)
1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 20:09 26 2013 .
- . - , - , .
2. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 14:18 29 2013 .
I could have catch her queen move 21. Be2 Qh3 22. Rh5 and queen is lost or 21. Be2 Qe4 22. Ne6 the same situation . and my Queen can get safe at Qd1.

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