Contents 1.26.2022:
Cold Calculation
Women & Girls Knights
 Rey Enigma Visits NYC
Chess Toons
Best Recent Game Contest!

En Passant
Problem of the Week

Editor's Note

Cold Calculation

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club is a group of die hard swimming enthusiasts who brave the elements to swim at their favorite beach during the coldest months of the year. While I've talked about doing it for years, I'm not sure if I will get around to it in 2022. Playing chess in the cold on the other hand seemed much more reasonable to me, which is why I organized the first annual Polar Express Chess Tournament on my back patio in Brooklyn last week when temperatures were dipping into the high 20s. 


(Marshall Members pictured left to right- David Campbell who was the TD for the event, Juan Gonçalves, Boris Izrayelit, NM Alex Fikiet, Robert Leonard the Organizer, and Greg Keener.)

Gloves were encouraged, hot toddies were served together with piping hot sliders and other amuse-gueules between rounds and while the event itself was a huge success, I have to admit that I think it's possible the cold had a deleterious effect on my calculation ability in round 3 as the sun was setting.

(Juan ponders his next move while Boris gets unsolicited advice from my dog.)

(NM Alex Fikiet pictured here, wearing gloves and warming my dog, won the event.)

NM Alex Fikiet took clear first in the tournament, and with it this trophy which he is honor-bound to return and defend next year. Interested in playing in the next Polar Bear event? Let me know the next time you see me at the Marshall! 

Robert Leonard, Marshall Chess Club Member


Rey Enigma Visits NYC 

Rey Enigma is an anonymous persona who wears a chessboard themed morphsuit to cloak his identity as he makes appearances in parks and chess clubs around the world where he goes toe to toe with the best players that he encounters.  Rey's youtube channel features videos of him taking on all comers in El Parque del Retiro in Madrid next to a sign that says "100 euros if you beat Rey Enigma." While his real identity has not been made public, Rey Enigma (whose name in Spanish is equivalent to "Enigma King") has blown up on social media ever since his appearance on Got Talent España, in which he played a blitz game with the legendary Anatoly Karpov. 

Earlier this week, Rey posted an enigmatic photo to his instagram that would likely be instantly recognized by Spectator Readers. The caption reads: "I'm having an enigmatic trip. In what city do you think I am?" 


Even people who have never been to the big apple likely recognized the skyline in his next post. 

Of course, no trip to NYC would be complete without a visit to Washington Square Park and nearby Thompson Street, where the Chess Forum still hosts casual blitz games in the back room. 

(Photo Courtesy of Anthony Levin/

Having such a famous, if anonymous chess figure visit our town seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. We were lucky to be able to reach out to Rey via email to coordinate an appearance at the Marshall Chess Club with celebrity chess streamer and social media super star Levy Rozman.  

(Photo Courtesy of Anthony Levin/

Rey Enigma will likely be spotted this week around NYC's most iconic chess locations so keep an eye out for a tall chess player in a chessboard themed morphsuit being swarmed by the instagram/tik tok paparazzi and you may be able to get a selfie with the legend yourself. 

—Greg Keener, Editor of the Spectator

Best Recent Game Contest!

The Marshall Spectator is thrilled to announce a new contest for our current members to participate in. If you have played a recent game at the Marshall Chess Club that you think may be appealing to a wider audience, please submit it with your annotations to Each issue we will select the most interesting game based both on the quality of play and annotations and publish it here for our readership to enjoy.

Levin, Anthony  2179 vs. Hardaway, Brewington 2340
Marshall Saturday G/50

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 c5 7. d5 a6 8. O-O Nbd7 

This kind of leaves my opponent in a bad "slow Benoni" 8... b5 is the most common 9. cxb5 axb5 10. Nxb5 Ba6 11. Nc3 Nbd7 12. Rb1 transposes to a line of the Benko I know.

9. a4 Ng4 10. e4 

This is mistake because it already allows black tactical chances after Nge5. Namely, black will get b5 in tactically. 10. h3 Nge5 11. Nd2 an idea similar to the game. b5 although this is the best way for black to play, it turns into a pretty bad Benko. 11... f5 12. f4 Nf7 13. e4) 12. cxb5 (12. axb5 allows black to get very quick Benko-style pressure on c4. Nb6 13. bxa6 Bxa6 14. b3 Nexc4 ) 12... axb5 13. Nxb5 Ba6 14. Na3 Nb6 15. a5 Nbc4 16. Naxc4 Nxc4 17. Nxc4 Bxc4 18. Qc2 Ba6 19. Bf4 is the natural human choice, in my opinion, but the engine recommends Bd2 as well. White will slowly prepare b4 to continue pushing the a-pawn. Ra3-Rb1-b4 are likely moves from white. Alternatively, 19. Bd2 Bxe2 20. Rfe1 Bb5 21. Bc3 Bxc3 22. Qxc3 Qd7 23. h4 h5 24. Re4 White has an extremely pleasant position where he can pressure e7 while simultaneously threatening to push the outside passed pawn in the future. b4 is also a threat, which will allow the white pieces to better support the passed pawn.

10...Qa5  Not really the right moment. After white's next move, black's pieces do not coordinate in time. (10... Nge5 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Qe2 b5 Black is just in time for this thanks to an unusual tactic (Nxc4) 13. axb5 Nxc4 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bxh6 Bxh6 16. Qxc4 axb5 17. Qxb5 Bg4 Black has full compensation for the pawn due to the bishop pair and great Benko pawn structure. The pawn on b2 is very weak. 18. Rxa8 Qxa8 19. e5 Qb8 20. Qxb8 Rxb8 21. exd6 exd6 22. Ne4 Bg7 23. Nxd6 Bxb2 24. h3 Bd7 25. Re1 Kf8 26. Nc4 Black can hold this objectively, but of course there are practical chances for white.)

11. Nd2  The engine goes back and forth between this or Ra3. Black is so uncoordinated that he risks a knight being trapped or just all of his pieces being bad. 11. Ra3 meeting the threat of b5. Nge5 12. Nd2 Qd8 (12... Nd3 13. Nb3 Another great detail is that Ra3 defends the knight after Qb4.) 13. Qe2 g5 14. f4.

11... Nge5 11... Bxc3 Is very hard for a human to play, but the engine already thinks this is best. 12. bxc3 Nge5 13.Qc2 f6 14. f4 Nf7 15. Rf2.

12. Qe2 Nb6 The position is technically lost, but this makes it worse. Now the queen and knight should be out of play on the queenside because the threats to c4 never materialize. 12... b5 13. axb5 Qxa1 14. Nb3 Qxc1 The engine already thinks black's position is desperate enough to sacrifice the queen.

13. h3 Rb8 If instead 13... Qb4, then 14. a5 Nbxc4 15. Ra4.

14. f4 Ned7 15. e5 15. g4 This could have been a good preparatory move before continuing with the "stealer sweeper" pawn sacrifice I played immediately. This prevents any Nh5 later and also defends the f5 pawn so I do not have to play fxg6. 15...Na8 16. e5 dxe5 17. f5 Nf6 18. Nde4 Nxe4 19. Nxe4 Qd8 20. Be3.

15... dxe5 16. f5 Nf6 17. fxg6 17. g4 Could have reverted to a position similar to g4 on move 15. gxf5 18. gxf5 Nbd7 19. Ra3 Kh8 20. Nde4 Qd8 21. Ng5 h6 22. Nge4 Rg8 23. Kh2 b5 24. axb5 axb5 25. cxb5 Qf8 26. Ra7 Black's pieces are very ineffective due to the pawn structure.

17... hxg6 18. Nf3 18. g4 Nbd7 19. Qf2 Nh7 20. Nf3 b5 21. Ng5 Nxg5 22. Bxg5 bxc4 23. Bxe7 White is going to win the exchange one way or another, and black's pawn structure is still in shambles. 23...e4 24. Kh1 Rxb2 25. Qxb2 Bxc3 26. Qf2 Bd4 27. Qf4 Be5 28. Qxe4.

18... e4 19. Ng5 More accurate than 19.Nxe4, which would lose some of the initiative. 

19...Nh5 20. Ncxe4 Threatening Bd2, trapping the queen. 20...Qb4 21. g4 Nf6 22. Bf4 Ra8 23. Nd2 Nxa4 24. Ra3 So far, I have conducted the attack very well. I just had to keep it going for a few more moves. 24...b5 25. d6 25. Rb3 This really just had to be included. It only helped. 25...Qa5 26. d6 Ra7 27. dxe7 Re8 28. Bd6 Rd7 29. Nxf7 is the flashy way to win, but Bc6 also wins in a more prosaic way. (29. Bc6 Rxd6 30. Bxe8 Nxe8 31. Nde4 Re6 32. Rxf7 with Nxe6 to follow, now that we have broken the pawn cover around the black king. (32. Nxe6 Bxe6 is suddenly not so clear. The e7 pawn is now under lock and key and black has a fearsome majority on the queenside, while White is running out of pawns.)

25... Ra7 26. dxe7 26. Rb3 could have still transposed.

26... Re8 27. Bd6 Qxb2 28. Re3 Rd7 29. Be5 All of my moves until this point kept the position in a winning margin. This is the first objective error. 29. Nxf7 The move that I had been looking at on every turn actually did work here. In the short time control, however, I couldn't be sure that my knight or bishop wouldn't be lost after Black just makes normal moves. White could become overextended easily if he misplays. 29...Qd4 30. Nf3 Qxc4 31. Qxc4 bxc4 32. N3g5 Okay, White's construction is completely safe on Black's side of the board now. These pieces will not become disentangled. 32...Nb6 33. Re6 c3 34. Rexf6 Bxf6 35. Rxf6 Rxd6 36.Nxd6 Rxe7 37. Rf1 White is up a piece.

29... Rxd2 30. Bxb2 Rxe2 31. Rxe2 Nxb2 32. cxb5 The best move. 32. Nxf7 Could have been a good practical try, but I did not want to play against three connected passers. 32...Nxc4 33. g5 Bf5 34. gxf6 Bxf6 35. Nh6+ Kg7 36. Rxf5 keeps the e-pawn alive. (36. Nxf5+ gxf5 37. Rfe1 Bd4+ 38. Kh2 Ne3 Suddenly this is not so clear. White is running out of pawns and Black has an unstoppable queenside majority) 36... gxf5 37. Nxf5+ Kg6 38. Bc6 Rh8 39. Rf2 Bxe7 40. Nxe7+ Kg7 Black certainly has drawing chances, especially in a practical game. 41. Nf5+ Kg6 42. Kg2 White is not going to lose h3 anytime soon. However, White probably needs to mount a careful attack on the enemy king as the h-pawn won't promote anytime soon. Another try could have been 32. Rxb2 Rxe7 33. Rbf2 when Black's queenside pawns will always give him great compensation in all lines. (33. cxb5 would be an alternative, but then 33...Nh7 34. Rd2 Nxg5 35. Rd8+ Kh7 36. Rxc8 Bd4+ 37. Kh1 axb5.)

32... Na4 And here is a critical position with White to move. 

I chose 33. Nxf7 Another approach would have been 33. Bc6 Bd7 34. Bxd7 (34. Rxf6 Bxf6 35. Bxd7 Rxe7 36. Rxe7 Bxe7 37. bxa6 Nb6 38. Nxf7 Kxf7 39. a7 This is a draw, but we are already outside the scope of white ever winning.) 34... Nxd7 35. bxa6 Bf6 36. Ne4 Be5 37. a7 Nab6 38. Ng5 Rxe7 39. Nf3 f6 40. Nxe5 fxe5 41. Rd2 e4 Despite black being materially okay, his pieces are badly placed. The d7 knight cannot move due to the threat of Rd8 and the b6 knight cannot move due to a8=Q. Surprisingly, all of Black's pieces are uncoordinated by the one pawn on a7! 42. Rd6 Na8 43. Ra1 Kh7 44. Kf1 c4 45. Rc6 Ndb6 46. g5 Re5 47. h4 e3 48. Ke2 Re4 49. Rc5 Kg7 50. Ra3 c3 51. Rcxc3 Rxh4 52. Ra5 Re4 53. Rd3 Re8 54. Rd4 Re7 55. Rd8 Re4 56. Rb8 Kf7 57. Ra1 Re7 58. Ra3 Kg7 59. Ra5 Kf7 60. Ra1 Kg7 61. Ke1 Kf7 62. Ra6 Kg7 63. Kd1 Kf7 64. Rd8 Re5 65. Ke2 Rxg5 

Instead of advancing the e-pawn as in the above variation, Black could go for the quick blockade. For instance, 41... Na8 42. Rd6 Kh7 43. Ra1 e4 44. Kf1 c4 45. Rc6 Ndb6 46. g5 Re5 47. h4 e3 48. Ke2 Re4 49. Rc5 Kg7 50. Ra3 c3 51. Rcxc3 Rxh4 52. Ra5 Re4 53. Rd3 Re8 54. Rd4 Re7 55. Rd8 Re4 56. Rd6 Re7 57. Rc6 Kf7 58. Rf6+ Kg7 59. Ra6 Rd7 60. Ke1 Re7 61. Rd6 Kf7 62. Ke2 Re5 63. Rf6+ Ke7 64. Rxg6 Nd5 65. Rg7+ Kf8

33... Nc3 34. Rc2 Nxb5 35. Ne5 Rxe7 36. Nxg6 If 36. Rxc5 then 36...Kh7 37. Nxg6 Kxg6 38. Rxc8.

36... Rc7 37. g5 Nh5 38. Bd5+ Kh7 39. Nf8+ Bxf8 40. Rxf8 Nd4 41. Rc4 Bxh3 42. Rf7+ Rxf7 43. Bxf7 Be6 44. Bxe6 Nxe6 45. Ra4 1/2-1/2

(Photo Courtesy of Anthony Levin/

Congratulations to Anthony Levin, pictured above with Rey Enigma, for submitting the best annotated, recently played game and winning a free tournament entry!

Want to submit your games? Simply email a recent annotated game that you played at the Marshall to us at and you will automatically be entered into the contest. 

We look forward to reading your submissions and sharing your recent brilliancies with our readership! 

Greg Keener, Editor of the Spectator 
Chess Toons


En Passant

Chess News En Passant:

 FIDE has declared 2022 the year of women in chess. According to the FIDE Women’s Commision, this is a chance to take a leap forward in their mission of forming gender equity policies, practices and programs.

– Magnus Carlsen beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to reclaim the sole lead at the Tata Steel Masters tournament, while Anish Giri beat Sam Shankland to remain a half point behind the World Champion.

– The Gibraltar International Chess Festival is taking place, but due to Covid-19 the International Open was canceled. In its place is the Gibchess Battle of the Sexes Scheveningen match with 10 men and 10 women playing one game against each other.


Problem of the Week

J. Møller, 1920


This is a beautiful example of a problem from the Logical School of composition. Here's the idea: White has a plan to mate Black (called a "main plan"). However, Black has a defense against this plan. White must therefore come up with a prior plan (known as a "foreplan") that will spoil Black's defense. So here, White's plan is to play 1.Qb1 and mate on b8. However, Black can spoil this with 1...Bg3. So what's White's foreplan?  
 [The solution to last issue's problem, W.J. Baird, 1902: 1.Qf1! and mate cannot be avoided on the next turn. If 1...Ke4 2.Qg2# and if 1...Kc3 2.Be6#. Any rook move is met with 2.Nf6#, while any knight move is met with queen captures rook mate. Finally, if the g-pawn advances or captures then 2.Ndf6#]

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
The Marshall Chess Club
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