Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Insane Chess-R-Us: Kamran Shirazi

When I was a young up-and-comer, one of the contemporary players whose chess I admired was the Iranian-American IM Kamran Shirazi. I recall his regal, imperturbable presence at the board, no matter what was happening in the position - which, much of the time, was complete chaos. Indeed, Shirazi in his element seemed less a man than a wizard, conjuring spells most of his opponents failed to withstand but that made him a fan favorite.

Nowadays, unfortunately, Shirazi, who has been living in France for quite a few years now, is best-known to Americans for his dismal result in the 1984 U.S. Championship, when he only scored half a point out of 17 games and managed to lose the following disaster:


1.e4 c5 2.b4 (That's Shirazi - the fun starts right away in his games.) cxb4 3.a3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.c4?? (5.Nf3 is the normal move.) Qe5+ 0-1

Amusing, sure (if you're not Shirazi), but it's not what he should be remembered for. In fact, in the next two U.S. Championships he improved significantly, going 5.5-7.5 in 1985 and 8-7 in 1986. (It's probably best not to mention his 1-14 performance in the 1992 event, but hey, he was rusty!)

In place of the above, I'd like to let all of you have a glimpse of the real Shirazi. Or rather, since the occasional disaster was part of the price for Shirazi's being himself, a glimpse of the player in his element.

First, there's the opening. I recall watching him offer the following with White: 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4 and 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g4. Then, a quick tour of my databases produces the following - it's just a sampler, I assure you:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Qe7 4.Nc3 Nd8 (Bachtiar-Shirazi, Jakarta 1978)

1.e4 c5 2.f4 g5 (Hill-Shirazi, US Open 1983)

1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 f5 3.d5 Nb4 (Bisguier-Shirazi, US Open 1983)

1.c4 e5 2.g3 h5 (actually, this is a relatively normal idea. Ironically, he does it against the king of the rook pawn-moves - Bent Larsen!) 3.h4 d5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Ng4 6.Nc3 Bc5 (Larsen-Shirazi, New York Open 1986)

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.Nc3 e6 5.e4 c5!? 6.dxc5 Nc6 7.cxd6 Bxd6 (Kreckler-Shirazi, Midwest Masters Open 1987)

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.d4?! (Shirazi-Le Billy, Bethune op (A) 2002)

1.e4 e5 2.f4 f5!? (Kennaugh-Shirazi, Cappelle la Grande 2003)

Shirazi generally manages to curb his experimentalism when facing his peers - occasionally, one has to win enough money to eat, after all. Still, there's always blitz, and I recently came across the following game. It's not flawless, to be sure, but it's lively - good old-fashioned coffeehouse chess, just the way our great-great-great-grandma used to make it:

Shirazi,Kamran - Quinteros,Miguel [B51]
3 0 blitz, 2005

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.0-0 Ngf6 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 b6

Normal stuff so far, but now for something new: 7.b4 cxb4 8.d4 e6 9.a3 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Bc4 Bb7 12.axb4 [is another typical blitz move, but unlike Shirazi's move, it doesn't cost any more material! 12.Ng5 ] 12...Bxb4 13.c3 Nxc3? [13...Be7 closing the e-file and covering the g5 square against knight incursions, leaves Black up a pawn for nothing. As someone who engages in hackfest attacks like Shirazi's, my preference on the defensive side is to consolidate. GM Quinteros apparently belongs to the "show me" group of players, however, and grabs the material.] 14.Nxc3? [14.Qb3! , taking advantage of Black's overextended queenside pieces, is strong but easy to miss in blitz.] 14...Bxc3

Now Black is up two pawns and winning the exchange, but until he castles he's vulnerable. 15.Bxe6 [15.Ba3 looks more accurate, keeping the Black king in the center. After 15...Bxe1 (15...Bxa1 16.Bxe6 wins, believe it or not - 16...fxe6 (16...Nc5 17.Bd5+ Kf8 18.Bxb7 Bc3 19.Re5 Rb8 20.Rd5 Qf6 21.dxc5+-) 17.Rxe6+ Kf7 18.Qb3 Qf6 19.Rxb6+ Kg6 20.Rxf6+ gxf6 21.Qxb7+-) 16.Qxe1 Bxf3 17.Bxe6 is very dangerous. Black has two reasonable replies, but in each case White has good compensation for the material: 17...Ne5! (17...Qg5 18.Bg4+ Kd8 19.Bxf3 Re8 20.Qd1 when Black's unhappily centralized king and White's criss-crossing bishops give White good chances.) 18.Qxe5 Qf6 the point - Black gets off the e-file battery with tempo, but White's attack continues after 19.Qc7 Qxe6 20.gxf3 Rc8 21.Qb7 Kd8 and I'm inclined to think both sides stand badly, but it's easier to play White here, especially in a blitz game.] 15...Bxe1 [15...0-0 is a move I would play in a tenth of a second - no thought required, just a relieved reflex action would do the trick. Black is winning here: his king is safe, his bishops are great, and he's ahead in material. Again, though, Quinteros decides to raise...] 16.Bxf7+ Kxf7 17.Ng5+ Ke8 [17...Kg6 18.Qd3+ Kf6 looks scary, but White doesn't seem to have anything concret to compensate for the rook minus. (The bishop on e1 can be regained, but that's as far as it goes.)] 18.Qxe1+ Qe7 19.Ne6 [19.Ba3!? Qxe1+ 20.Rxe1+ Kd8 21.Nf7+ Kc7 22.Rc1+ Bc6 23.Nxh8 Rxh8 24.d5 Nb8 25.dxc6 Nxc6 regains almost all the material, but that last extra pawn leaves Black with a winning endgame.] 19...Nf6 [19...Nf8 20.Nc7+ Kf7 21.Qxe7+ Kxe7 22.Nxa8 Bxa8 23.Rxa6 Nd7-+] 20.Ba3+- Long-delayed, but it's decisive. Quinteros tries to buy his way out, but White's remaining pieces are too active and the attack continues. 20...Qxa3 [20...Qf7 21.Qe5 Nd7 22.Nxg7+ Kd8 23.Ne6+ followed by 24.Qxh8+ (unless Black plays 23...Qxe6) destroys everything.] 21.Rxa3 Kf7 22.Nxg7 Rhg8 23.Qe6+ Kxg7 24.Qe7+ Kh6 25.Qxf6+ Rg6 26.Rh3# 1-0

I played Shirazi three times. I won the first two games, which, of course, weren't published anywhere. (I may present the first one soon.) The last game, which I lost, is of course available in all the databases. Here's me getting massacred:

Shirazi - Monokroussos,D [A47]
Midwest Masters Inv (2), 04.1987

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 b6 4.e4 h6 5.Bxf6 Qxf6 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.Nbd2 Nc6 [7...d6 is more common, though not necessarily better. One possible continuation is 8.Qe2 Qd8 9.0-0 Be7 10.Rad1 Nd7 11.c3 c5 when White's space advantage slightly outweighs Black's possible long-term advantage of the bishop pair.] 8.c3 g5 9.0-0 [9.e5 Qe7 (9...Qg7 10.Ne4 0-0-0) 10.Ne4 Bg7 11.Qe2 0-0-0 12.Ba6 d6 is fine for Black.] 9...0-0-0 10.Qe2 At the time of this game, I had never played this line against the Torre Attack and didn't really understand what to do. It shows, especially over the next 3-4 moves, when I chose a slow, lousy plan while Shirazi gets on with the business of mating my king. 10...Qe7 [10...g4 11.Ne1 h5+/=] 11.Ba6 d6 [11...g4 might be better, but the snowball is already growing large on its trip down the mountain.] 12.a4 f5 13.a5+- d5 14.Bxb7+ Kxb7 15.axb6 cxb6 16.exf5 exf5 17.Ne5 Nxe5 18.dxe5 d4 [If now 18...Bg7 White combines attack and defense with 19.Nf3 , and now the knight is on the way to the wonderful d4 square, hitting f5 and heading for the ever-so-juicy b5 and c6 squares. My next move tries to avoid this fate by encouraging 19.cxd4, when my position is horrible, but at least the knight's not coming in!] 19.Nb3!

The knight's hopping into the d4 square, and from there to c6 - it's hopeless. 1-0


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