Though it may not seem like it, I’m still recording lectures for ChessLecture. I recorded one today on an interesting game from Week 3 of the U.S. Chess League, in which IM Levan Bregadze of St. Louis destroyed Samuel Sevian of San Francisco in 31 moves. I have played Sevian twice, I believe, both games ending in draws, and I have found his playing style to be extremely solid and well-nigh indestructible (though somewhat lacking in ambition).
Sevian is, of course, the youngest national master in U.S. history, and he has two IM norms already at age 11. I think there’s a good chance he will be an International Master by age 12. That would be too old to beat Sergei Karjakin’s world record (11 years 11 months), but still pretty respectable!
So I have to admit to some self-serving interest in the Bregadze-Sevian game, because I wanted to know how you beat somebody like that, especially when it’s somebody that I might play again.
Well, the answer is that you play a type of game that I have never played in my life. Bregadze never made a single tactical threat for the first 30 moves of a 31-move game. It was just maneuver, maneuver, maneuver, push, push, push, and BAM! He threatens to win a pawn, and Sevian can’t defend it. It’s not just any old pawn. Bregadze will end up with a protected passed pawn on the sixth rank. So Sevian resigned then and there.
To me this sort of game, which is played at a 100-percent strategic level, always looks like magic. Tactics I understand. I get how you can beat somebody by calculating one move farther, by seeing a tactical trick that they don’t. But how do you beat someone (let alone a 2400 player) without ever having to calculate a single variation? It amazes me.
So basically this ChessLecture was an attempt to answer that question for myself. I think that I did come to a pretty good understanding of how Bregadze did it. It actually had to do mostly with a misconception on Sevian’s part. For more details, you’ll just have to listen to my lecture!
That brings me to a second topic for this post. Just when are you going to be able to hear my lecture? I now have a reliable estimate of how big the backlog is at ChessLecture, and it’s HUGE. A lecture that I recorded on May 1 is finally going to go online tomorrow, September 27. That’s almost a five-month backlog. That means the lecture I recorded today will probably air sometime in March, after the U.S. Chess League season is long finished and nobody cares about it any more.
I don’t want to complain about a mostly good thing, but I think that the current management is making a mistake by accumulating such a huge backlog of lectures. The old management had the opposite problem. Most of the time they had no backlog at all, and we know how that worked out… eventually they couldn’t keep up. That was really bad. When people pay for something, you have to deliver it, and in a timely fashion. The failure to do so dealt a blow to ChessLecture that I think it still hasn’t recovered from.
So it definitely makes sense for the new management to want some protection. I could see having a backlog of, say, a couple weeks or a month. But five months? The lecturers can no longer give lectures that are timely.
I keep getting messages from people saying, “I miss your ChessLectures! Why aren’t you doing them any more?” The answer is that I am, and you’ll get one tomorrow. As for the others, I guess you’ll just have to wait… and wait…