Contents 3.9.2022:
P-K4 Let's Wait Awhile
 Marshall Monthly Lecture & Social Event
Ukraine Fundraiser
Chess Toons
En Passant
Problem of the Week

Editor's Note

P-K4 Let's Wait Awhile


Let’s wait awhile

e4 it’s too late

Let’s wait awhile

e4 we go too far


*  *  *


Last year I read with great enjoyment the book Arkell’s Endings, in which English GM Keith Arkell reveals the secrets of his ultra-patient style and how he’s made a living grinding out marathon endgame wins based on microscopic advantages in pawn structure.


One remark struck me particularly, although I didn’t fully grasp its meaning:


Keith Arkell - Andrew Ledger

British Championship (7), Eastbourne 1990


1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. b3 g6 4. Bb2 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 d5 7. O-O Re8 8. Qc2 a5 9. d3 Na6 10. a3 Bf5 11. Nbd2 Rc8 12. Rfd1 Qb6 13. Bd4 Qc7 14. Rac1 e5 15.Ba1 e4 16. Nd4 exd3 17. Bxd3 Bxd3 18. Qxd3 Ng4 19. g3 Ne5 20. Qe2 dxc4 21. Nxc4 Nxc4 22. Qxc4 Rcd8 23. b4 axb4 24. axb4 Qb6 25. Rb1 Nc7 26. Qc5 Qa6 27. Qa5 Qxa5 28. bxa5 Na6 29. Rdc1 Rd7 30. Rb6 Ra8 31. Kg2 Ra7 32. Bb2 Nc7 33. Rb3 Ne8 34. Bc3 Nd6 35. Ra1 Ne4 36. Bb2 Nd2 37. Rc3 Ne4 38. Rc2 Rd5 39. a6 Rxa6 40.Rxa6 bxa6 41. Rxc6 Rd8 42. Rxa6 Nc5 43. Ra7 h5 44. Nc6 Re8 45. Bxg7 Kxg7 46. h3 Kf6 47. Ra5 Ne6 48. f4 Rc8 49. Ne5 Rc7 50. Kf3 Rc3 51. Ra6 Rc7 52. Nd3 Rc3 53.Nf2 Kg7 54. Ra4 Rc1 55. g4 hxg4+ 56. hxg4 Rf1 57. Ke2 Rg1 58. g5 Rc1 59. Ra7 Rc7 60. Ra8 f6 61. gxf6+ Kxf6 62. Ng4+ Kg7 63. Ra6 Re7 64. Kf3 Nf8 65. Kg3 Ne6 66. Kf3 Nf8 67. Nf2 Nd7 68. Rd6 Nf6 



69. e4


Arkell: “There are those who squander this precious thrust as early as move one, but I prefer to get myself organized first.” 


I thought this was merely a joke at the expense of 1.e4 players, since Arkell mostly plays 1.d4 or 1.Nf3. Later I would come to realize that the joke, like Arkell’s play, belies a subtle depth.


Arkell went on to win in characteristically gradual style:


69…Ra7 70. e5 Nd7 71. Kg4 Nf8 72. Ne4 Ra1 73. Ng5 Rg1+ 74. Kf3 Rf1+ 75. Kg3 Rg1+ 76. Kf2 Ra1 77. Rc6 Ra7 78. Kf3 Kg8 79. Kg4 Re7 80. Kf3 Kg7 81. Ke4 Kg8 82. e6 Kg7 83. Ke5 Ra7 84. Kd6 Kf6 85. Ne4+ Kf5 86. Nc5 Nh7 87. Nd7 Ra8 88. e7 g5 89. fxg5 Kxg5 90. Nb6 Rh8 91. Nd5 Kg6 92. Rc1 Kg7 93. Rg1+ Kf7 94. Rf1+ Kg7 95. Nc7 Nf6 96. Ke6 Rh6 97. Rxf6 Rxf6+ 98. Kd5 Rf5+ 99. Kd4 Rf4+ 100. Kd3 1-0

*  *  *


Seemingly unrelatedly, I recently came across a game by a young Vasily Smyslov I had never seen before:


Mark Stolberg - Vasily Smyslov

USSR Championship (11), Moscow 1940


1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. Bc4 Bf5 8. Qe2 e6 9. Bf4 Be7 10. O-O-O O-O 11. Bd3 Bxd3 12. Qxd3 Nd5 13. Bd2 a5 14. Kb1 Nb4 15. Qe4 Qd5 16. Qxd5 cxd5 17. a4 Bd6 18. Ne1 Rfb8 19. c3 Nc6 20. Nd3 b5 21. Bf4 Bxf4 22. Nxf4 bxa4 23. Kc2 Rc8 24. Kd2 a3 25. bxa3 a4 26. Nd3 Na5 27. Nb2 Nb7 28. Ra1 Nd6 29. f3 g5 30. Rhb1 Rcb8 31. Kc2 Kg7 32. Ra2 h5 33. Nd3 Rxb1 34. Kxb1 Nc4 35. Kc1 Kg6 36. Nc5 Kf5 37. Kc2 f6 38. Kd3 




The break Smyslov has been preparing ever since the game settled into a Carlsbad structure with 16…cxd5 - a structure which also features prominently in Arkell’s games.


Smyslov went on to win, although some unfortunate inaccuracies at the end spoiled the game’s overall quality a bit, leading to Smyslov excluding it from his published collection of best games (as I learned from another fantastic recent book by Andrey Terekhov):


39. Ra1 g4 40. fxg4+ hxg4 41. Ra2 Rc8 42. Nxa4 e4+ 43. Ke2 Rh8 44. Kf2 e3+ 45. Kg1 Rb8 46. Ra1 Nxa3 47. Nc5 Nb1 48. Na4 g3 49. hxg3 Kg4 50. Kf1 Kxg3 51. Ke2 f5 52. Ra2 f4 53. Kd3 Nd2 54. Nb2 Re8 55. Ra1 Kxg2 56. Re1 f3 0-1


*  *  *


Something about that Smyslov game felt strangely familiar to me. I searched my personal database and there it was - a training game I played against an engine running on my laptop, back in 2014 when I was living in Brooklyn (and working at the Marshall!):


Alex King - Houdini 4.0

Training, New York 2014


1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bf4 b6 4. e3 Bb7 5. Bd3 Be7 6. h3 O-O 7. O-O c5 8. c3 d6 9. Nbd2 Nbd7 10. a4 Qc7 11. Bh2 h6 12. Qe2 Rac8 13. Rfe1 cxd4 14. exd4 a5 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Bxe4 17. Qxe4 Nf6 18. Qe2 Nd5 19. Nd2 Rfd8 20. Kh1 Bg5 21. Ne4 Bf4 22. Bxf4 Nxf4 23. Qf3 d5 24. Nd2 Rb8 25. Qe3 Rb7 26. Nf3 Ng6 27. Ne5 Nxe5 28. Qxe5 Qxe5 29. Rxe5 Rdb8 30. Re2 b5 31. axb5 Rxb5 32. Ra2 g6 33. Kg1 a4 34. g3 g5 35. Kg2 Kg7 36. Kf3 Rb3 37. Rc2 Ra8 38. Ke2 Kf6 39. Kd2 Kf5 40. Ke3 a3 41. Rxa3 Rbxa3 42. bxa3 Rxa3 43. Kf3 Rb3 44. Rc1 h5 45. Ke3 Ra3 46. Kf3 h4 47. gxh4 gxh4 48. Ke3 f6 49. Kf3 



Same Carlsbad structure, same long grind, same triumphant central pawn break! I was starting to realize what Arkell was getting at - when you improve your position to the maximum before playing P-K4 (i.e. e4 in the Arkell game, or the mirror image …e5 in the Smyslov and Houdini games), the move releases a huge amount of built-up potential energy - much more than when you simply “squander this precious thrust” on the first move of the game.


I didn’t last much longer against Houdini:


50. dxe5 fxe5 51. Ke2 Ra2+ 52. Kf3 e4+ 53. Ke3 Ke5 54. Rb1 Rc2 55. Rb3 Rc1 56. f3 Rxc3+ 57. Rxc3 d4+ 58. Kd2 dxc3+ 59. Kxc3 exf3 0-1


It all came together for me when I saw a Facebook post from Arkell celebrating Magnus Carlsen, “the greatest grinder ever”, for his epic win “after a mere 136 moves” in Game 6 of his World Championship match against Nepomniachtchi:


Magnus Carlsen - Ian Nepomniachtchi

World Championship (6), Dubai 2021


1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. c4 dxc4 9. Qc2 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nc6 11. Nxc4 b5 12. Nce5 Nb4 13. Qb2 Bb7 14. a3 Nc6 15. Nd3 Bb6 16. Bg5 Rfd8 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Rac1 Nd4 19. Nxd4 Bxd4 20. Qa2 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Qb7+ 22. Kg1 Qe4 23. Qc2 a5 24. Rfd1 Kg7 25. Rd2 Rac8 26. Qxc8 Rxc8 27. Rxc8 Qd5 28. b4 a4 29. e3 Be5 30. h4 h5 31. Kh2 Bb2 32. Rc5 Qd6 33. Rd1 Bxa3 34. Rxb5 Qd7 35. Rc5 e5 36. Rc2 Qd5 37. Rdd2 Qb3 38. Ra2 e4 39. Nc5 Qxb4 40. Nxe4 Qb3 41. Rac2 Bf8 42. Nc5 Qb5 43. Nd3 a3 44. Nf4 Qa5 45. Ra2 Bb4 46. Rd3 Kh6 47. Rd1 Qa4 48. Rda1 Bd6 49. Kg1 Qb3 50. Ne2 Qd3 51. Nd4 Kh7 52. Kh2 Qe4 53. Rxa3 Qxh4+ 54. Kg1 Qe4 55. Ra4 Be5 56. Ne2 Qc2 57. R1a2 Qb3 58. Kg2 Qd5+ 59. f3 Qd1 60. f4 Bc7 61. Kf2 Bb6 62. Ra1 Qb3 63. Re4 Kg7 64. Re8 f5 65. Raa8 Qb4 66. Rac8 Ba5 67. Rc1 Bb6 68. Re5 Qb3 69. Re8 Qd5 70. Rcc8 Qh1 71. Rc1 Qd5 72. Rb1 Ba7 73. Re7 Bc5 74. Re5 Qd3 75. Rb7 Qc2 76. Rb5 Ba7 77. Ra5 Bb6 78. Rab5 Ba7 79. Rxf5 Qd3 80. Rxf7+ Kxf7 81. Rb7+ Kg6 82. Rxa7 Qd5 83. Ra6+ Kh7 84. Ra1 Kg6 85. Nd4 Qb7 86. Ra2 Qh1 87. Ra6+ Kf7 88. Nf3 Qb1 89. Rd6 Kg7 90. Rd5 Qa2+ 91. Rd2 Qb1 92. Re2 Qb6 93. Rc2 Qb1 94. Nd4 Qh1 95. Rc7+ Kf6 96. Rc6+ Kf7 97. Nf3 Qb1 98. Ng5+ Kg7 99. Ne6+ Kf7 100. Nd4 Qh1 101. Rc7+ Kf6 102. Nf3 Qb1 103. Rd7 Qb2+ 104. Rd2 Qb1 105. Ng1 Qb4 106. Rd1 Qb3 107. Rd6+ Kg7 108. Rd4 Qb2+ 109. Ne2 Qb1 

110. e4


Several of Arkell’s friends made comments favorably comparing the style of this game to that of Arkell himself, e.g. “I was thinking of Arkell's endings when I noticed Magnus had just played 110.e4, and was left with e and f” (Hamish Olson) and “Have you ever played e4 later than move 110?” (Alex Holowczak).


Carlsen went on to grind out the longest win in World Championship history:


110…Qh1 111. Rd7+ Kg8 112. Rd4 Qh2+ 113. Ke3 h4 114. gxh4 Qh3+ 115. Kd2 Qxh4 116. Rd3 Kf8 117. Rf3 Qd8+ 118. Ke3 Qa5 119. Kf2 Qa7+ 120. Re3 Qd7 121. Ng3 Qd2+ 122. Kf3 Qd1+ 123. Re2 Qb3+ 124. Kg2 Qb7 125. Rd2 Qb3 126. Rd5 Ke7 127. Re5+ Kf7 128. Rf5+ Ke8 129. e5 Qa2+ 130. Kh3 Qe6 131. Kh4 Qh6+ 132. Nh5 Qh7 133. e6 Qg6 134. Rf7 Kd8 135. f5 Qg1 136. Ng7 1-0


*  *  *


Arkell was intrigued by Holowczak’s question above, but could not find an example from his own games of P-K4 later than Magnus’s move 110 - his closest was a 2012 game where he played 101.e4 and went on to win on move 119.


I searched my own games and determined that my latest P-K4 was an online blitz game from November 2021 where I played 87.e4 and delivered checkmate on move 107.


What was the latest P-K4 ever, I wondered? 


Thanks to Chessbase’s powerful search tools, I was able to search Mega Database 2021 (with 8.7 million games) for all instances of P-K4 after move 100, or after any move number. The latest instance, by either color, is the following incredible struggle from the 2015 Ukrainian Championship:


Yuriy Kuzubov - Vitaly Sivuk

Ukrainian Championship (1), Lviv 2015


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Bf4 dxc4 9. Ne5 Nd5 10. Nxc4 Nxf4 11. gxf4 Nd7 12. Nc3 Nb6 13. Ne5 Nd5 14. e3 f6 15. Nd3 Bd6 16. Ne4 Bc7 17. Rc1 Qe7 18. Ng3 Kh8 19. Rc4 Rb8 20. b4 Bd7 21. Qd2 f5 22. Bxd5 exd5 23. Rc2 Bd6 24. Rb1 Rf6 25. Ne5 Rg8 26. Nf3 h6 27. h4 g6 28. Kg2 Rff8 29. Qd3 a6 30. a3 Rg7 31. Rcc1 Kg8 32. Ne5 Qe6 33. Rh1 Be8 34. Nf3 Be7 35. Rbg1 Bd6 36. Ne5 Kh8 37. Qd2 Qe7 38. Ne2 Kg8 39. Rc1 Qd8 40. Nf3 Qe7 41. Rh3 Kh8 42. Ne5 Qe6 43. Ng1 Qe7 44. Ngf3 Kg8 45. Rg3 Kh8 46. Qc2 Qf6 47. Rg1 Rfg8 48. Qb1 Qf8 49. Kh2 Qf6 50. Qf1 Be7 51. Qh3 Kh7 52. Nd3 Bd8 53. Nc5 Kh8 54. Qf1 Qe7 55. a4 Qf6 56. Qh3 Bb6 57. Ne5 Kh7 58. Rg5 h5 59. Rb1 Bd8 60. Nf3 Kh8 61. Rgg1 Re7 62. Nd3 Bc7 63. Nde5 Bd6 64. Rgc1 Rc7 65. Qf1 Qe7 66. Qe1 Rg7 67. Ng5 Qf6 68. Qc3 Rge7 69. Qb3 Qg7 70. Rc2 Qg8 71. Rbc1 Kg7 72. Nd3 Kh8 73. Rb1 Kg7 74. Nc1 Kh6 75. Ne2 b6 76. Qd3 Ra7 77. Ng1 Bd7 78. N1f3 Qa8 79. Ne5 Be8 80. Rbc1 Rac7 81. Qd2 Qb7 82. Ngf3 Rc8 83. Nd3 Rec7 84. Nfe5 Ra8 85. a5 b5 86. Rc3 Qc8 87. Kg2 Qd8 88. Kg3 Qf6 89. Nc5 Be7 90. Rh1 Bd6 91. Rcc1 Raa7 92. Kf3 Kh7 93. Qc2 Kh6 94. Rcg1 Rg7 95. Rg5 Kh7 96. Ke2 Kh6 97. Kd1 Kh7 98. Kc1 Kh6 99. Kb2 Kh7 100. Nf3 Kg8 101. Nd3 Rac7 102. Kb3 Kh8 103. Rhg1 Kh7 104. Nc5 Ra7 105. R5g3 Kh8 106. Ng5 Rge7 107. Rc1 Ra8 108. Qd2 Raa7 109. Rgg1 Ra8 110. Rc3 Raa7 111. Rgc1 Ra8 112. R1c2 Rc7 113. Qc1 Qe7 114. Nf3 Kg7 115. Qh1 Kh8 116. Ne5 Qf6 117. f3 Be7 118. Rh2 Bf8 119. Rc1 Bh6 120. Rg2 Bf8 121. Qg1 Rg7 122. Qf2 Raa7 123. Rg5 Be7 124. Rcg1 Qd6 125. Qg3 Bxg5 126. fxg5 Kg8 127. Qf4 Rge7 128. Kc3 Ra8 129. Rf1 Bf7 130. Ncd3 Rd8 131. Nc5 Ra8 132. Kd2 Kg7 133. Ke2 Raa7 134. Kf2 Re8 135. Kg3 Bg8 136. Rc1 Rc8 137. Ncd3 Re7 138. Kf2 Rec7 139. Nc5 Ra7 140. Ned3 Qxf4 141. Nxf4 Bf7 142. Ncd3 Rd7 143. Ke2 Kf8 144. Nc5 Ra7 145. Kd2 Kg7 146. Nfd3 Be8 147. Ne5 Kf8 148. Ne6+ Kg8 149. Nf4 Kg7 150. Nxd5 Rb7 151. Rc5 Rd8 152. Nf4 Rd6 153. Ned3 Re7 154. Re5 Rxe5 155. dxe5 Rd7 156. Ne6+ Kf7 157. Nd4 Rd5 158. f4 Rd8 159. Nc5 Ra8 


160. e4


Despite being numerically behind in material, White is in complete control, and this break allows his commander to bravely enter the fray:


fxe4 161. Ke3 Ke7 162. Kxe4 Ra7 163. e6 Ra8 164. f5 gxf5+ 165. Nxf5+ Kf8 166. Ke5 Bg6 167. Nd4 Kg7 168. e7 Be8 169. Nde6+ Kf7 170. Kd6 Kg6 171. Nc7 Rc8 172. Nxe8 Rxe8 173. Ne6 1-0


And that was just the first round of the tournament! I’ve had entire tournaments with fewer combined moves than that one game…


*  *  *


I hope I have inspired you to read Arkell’s book and Terekhov’s book (or at least to check out some of Arkell’s games), and to consider the P-K4 move more in the spirit of - dare I say - abstinence. As Janet said:


“To save some for later, so our [move] can be greater.”

NM Alex King, Former Marshall Assistant Club Manager


Marshall Monthly Lecture & Social Event with IM Sal Matera
                                                                     Monthly Lecture Series

The Marshall Chess Club invites you to our Monthly Lecture and Social Event Tuesday March 22, 7pm My Life in Chess: From the Board to the Board.

An evening with IM Sal Matera, who will talk about his chess career, including his road to International Master, life lessons from chess in his professional life and his role as current Vice President of the Club and President of the Marshall Foundation.
Come socialize with members during this evening of learning and chess.
7:00 pm                     Talk with International Master Sal Matera
7:30 pm                      Q and A with Sal Matera
7:45 pm                      Pizza and Beverages
8:00 pm                      Informal Blitz (g/5)

Salvatore Matera learned chess at the age of 7 and his first tournament was US Amateur Asbury Park 1959 directed by fellow Marshall Chess Club Board member Frank Brady and Ken Harkness.

"Because of the Marshall Chess Club, I became a student of Jack Collins, and I was featured in his famous book as one of 'My Seven Chess Prodigies.'”

Sal Won the U.S. Junior Invitational 1967, and represented the U.S. in World Junior 1967 in Jerusalem. He was Board 1 for the Columbia University team, wining the North American Intercollegiate Championship in 1971 and continued in his career as a chess professional from 1972 to 1983.

He was the Marshall Chess Club Champion in 1973 and again in 1975. He won the 1973 Emery Cup televised on Channel 13, beating George Kramer, the Manhattan Chess Club Champion and went on to play as Board 2 on the silver medal US team in the World Student Olympiad of 1974.

He earned his first IM norm in 1975 in Birmingham, England and his second IM norm and title Reykjavik 1976.

He played in the US Championship in 1978 and would go on to earn a GM norm in NY later that same year.   

(Pictured above: William Lombardy, Sal Matera, and Bobby Fischer)


He graduate from Columbia in 1983 and Married in 1986.

Sal Worked at various Wall Street firms including Dillon Read, Citibank, Bankers Trust, and DTCC from 1984-2015 as VP, Technology Manager.

He joined the Marshall Chess Club Board of Governors as VP in 2021, and went on to join the Marshall Chess Foundation Board of Governors in 2022 and became President of that board.

We are thrilled to welcome IM Sal Matera for our social event and hope that you will attend the lecture and Q and A series. For more details on the event to be held on 3/22, please see our club calendar

—Greg Keener, Editor of the Spectator 


Fundraiser to Benefit Ukraine

The Marshall Chess Club Tournament Committee has approved a fundraising event and tournament to benefit the victims of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. As reported by the New York Times, women fleeing the war in Ukraine are at a disproportionate risk.  In honor of International Women's Day, we would like to especially encourage our community to play in this tournament and show support for the victims of the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine. The event will be held in person at the Marshall Chess Club on 3/26, for details, please see our calendar

Greg Keener, Editor of the Spectator 

Chess Toons

En Passant

Chess News En Passant:

 The Board of the European Chess Union met in an extraordinary session this week. The organization strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the involvement of Belarus, and expressed its solidarity for the Ukrainian people. Notably, the Board decided to suspend the Russian and Belarusian Chess Federations.

– Forty-four top Russian chess players published an open letter to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, voicing firm opposition to the war in Ukraine and expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

– All pools at the preliminaries of the FIDE Grand Prix in Belgrade had a clear winner after Monday’s sixth and final round.

– After six rounds Ray Robson is in sole lead with 4.5/6 at the Saint Louis Spring Classic. Samuel Sevian and Ilya Nyzhnyk follow with 4.0/6 each.

– In light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, and under the roof of the Year of the Woman in Chess, the FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess established a fundraiser for Ukrainian chess players and their families affected now by war. Also, the FIDE Women’s Commission, in partnership with Chess24, has prepared a series of events on the Women’s Day to support Ukrainian chess players and their families.

Problem of the Week

L. Ugren, 1970

White to move and selfmate in 2.
Since the world continues to parade its self-destructive tendencies, let's have another selfmate.  In this beauty, Black can only move its Queen and you'll note that for many of these moves there's a mate-forcing sequence in the air.  (These are called set mates.)  Only ...Qh3 or ...Qh4 lack prepared mates.  And these would be dealt with by 2.Qxd3+ - If only the White rook were not on g3.  This suggests White needs to find a square the rook on g3 can move to that doesn't disrupt the set mates.  Good luck!
Solution to W. Weber, 1949: 1.Na4 Qxb2 2.Nxb2 Kb6 mate; 1...Qb4 2.Qa6+ Kxa6 mate; 1...Qb5 2.Nxc5! Kb6 mate; 1...Qb6 2.Bc8+ Kxc8 mate.

Alexander George, Marshall Chess Club Member

Editor's Note

Spot a typo in the spectator? If you have any feedback, comments, or would like to submit an article please contact me directly at

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

—Greg Keener, Editor of the Spectator
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