The expression is a derivative of a line in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, which employs the word “glisters,” a 17th-century synonym for “glitters”. While preparing for the second round in the new club I knew that one of the possible opponents plays Giuoco Piano as he did it once against me. So I found a video of one Russian chess player on YouTube where he advertised the idea of playing h7-h6 and g7-g5 in Giuoco Pianissimo in the situation where White already castled and Black did not. He said that Black gets a strong, decisive attack after g5-g4 with White having pawn on h3 and knight on f3.

So can you imagine, I got another opponent, 1427 rated boy who played exactly that, Giuoco Pianissimo with d3 and h3. On move 8 he castled and I played g5. His next move was unexpected and forced me to think that my attack should be better supported by castling queenside. The move Qe7, though only given +0.3 by computer, was not good, instead immediate g4 was -0.35 in the line 9… g4 10. hxg4 Bxg4 11. Nh2 Be6.

After his knight jumped on d5 I saw that I have to exchange it and that my knight has no better place to go as b8 square. Then I made another unfortunate move, 12… Bf5, not feeling the danger. He missed the possibility to play 14. d4 with following 14… Nd7 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Bb5+ Kd8 17. Qc3 f6 18. Nd4 with ~+1.3 evaluation. 14… 0-0 was basically admission that my strategy was wrong, but I could hold the position with the cool 14… Nd7, in the line 14… Nd7 15. d4 f6 I was able to castle queenside and it was only ~+0.5.

I still was under pressure after 15. d4 and after calculating that I can’t play e4 (that was right) played f6. I saw that he can take on f6 right away and after initial shock decided to play Qg7. He found it and played, but taking with rook was better. His 18. Ng4 was natural and what I expected, but 18. f4 was better, after taking the knight I would get under attack and 18… gxf4 19. Rxf4 Nd7 was ~+0.9.

My 21… Ne5 was a bit flashy, but simple Rf7 was better. I think his 24. f4 was a small mistake as the position became completely equal. Honestly I even started to think I am better due to my good knight. Then we transferred into a rook endgame and he offered a draw. I said I will play more and soon managed to win a pawn. On move 49 I thought that I do not have a real chance of advancing my “e” pawn and decided to try my luck with the “h” pawn. The problem with the arisen rook pawn endgame was that his king was too close to the “h” vertical. Funny that 69. Ke2 would lose after 69… Kg2, then the Black king advancing towards the White rook. But he was exact, we repeated the moves and agreed to a draw.

The first lesson I learned is in the title, I definitely had to do my homework before playing this line, by the way I didn’t find it in DB, though the guy on video referred to Alekhine’s idea. Another lesson was understanding that my reading of the book about rook endgames should be intensified as that was a classical rook endgame in the end. Also I recently drew one online blitz game with Short Side Defense and another one with Back Rank Defense.



It was my first rated game in the new club, it explains the title – “every beginning is difficult”.  My opponent was a quite old man, his rating as I learned after the game was 1426. I got White, played Ruy Lopez, he chose Berlin Defense. The move 5. Re1 was based on the positive experience from the game won in the big tournament in February 2018. I just learned that 6. Nxe5 is better  than exchange on c6.

After some maneuvering I was better, but then the crucial moment came. My 18. Ng5 was a right move, but then 19. Nge4 got me into a trouble, though the computer considers the position equal after it. Instead I had to play 19. h3!, which would never come in my mind seeing the fork 19… f6. But after 19. h3 f6 20. hxg4 fxe5 21. Ne6 White is +2. In the line 19. h3 Bd7 White follows with 20. d5 where again after 20… f6 21. dxc6 fxe5 22. cxd7 Qxd7 23. Qd5+ White gets its exchange back and is a pawn up.

Instead of these nice lines I found myself desperately trying to save my rook from being caught. 23. Nb1 was not a good move, 23. Ra4 was OK because if 23… b5 then Ne4 and then Rxa5. After he let me play 26. Re3 I started to feel better. 28… Bb5 was a mistake which allowed me to equalize, instead c6 was the right move. On move Kf2 I got scared that he will play g5, then will take on e4, but after 34… g5 35. Rf3 fxe4 36. Re3 it is not good for Black to play Bf5 because of g4 and if Bxg4, then Nxe4 with threats.

By move 40 we exchanged the rooks and seeing that the position is equal repeated the moves. Computer says it is 0.00 even after 44. a3 Bc2 45. Nxc7 Bxb3 46. Kd3.

It was a second round of the Mondays tournament, my opponent was young man rated 1487. He had White and played Ruy Lopez, Exchange variation. His 5. h3 was 5th choice and not very good, as well as 6. d4. Computer suggests I could play 6… Qg6 with some advantage. I missed his 17. Rxd6, but it did not give him any advantage.

I think 23… g5 wasn’t a good idea, even computer says it is equal after it. I am convinced I made it hard on myself with this and some moves after it. 26… Re7 was a mistake, I somehow missed 26… Be6 which was leading to an equal endgame. On move 29 Nxh3 was better, Ne6 would get me into unpleasant position after 30. Kg4 Nf4 31. Kxg5 Nxh3 with ~1.4 estimate.

But suddenly he took the pawn on d6, then after hanging it in the air he put it back and said something to me. I saw right away that he played a wrong combination counting on 30. Nxd6 Rxd6 31. Rxf7+ and forgetting about 30… Kxd6. I said: “you took the pawn” with a calm, but firm voice and he took it with the knight. I didn’t find the best placement of my pieces right away, but as soon as I did he resigned.

We analyzed the game afterwards, he admitted that Nxd6 was a combination that went wrong. I criticized my g5.


It is not about Bruce Willis and his “Die Hard with a Vengeance”, it is about playing again the Fort Knox variation in French against the same guy. He was OK after the opening, 17… b5 was suspicious, then he made a mistake playing 18… Qd5.  I saw that after 19. Bb3 he is losing a pawn and played it. His 21… Qh4 was strange, I checked and didn’t see anything dangerous. Still I liked 22. d5 more than simply taking the pawn. Unexpectedly he played 22… e5 and then I realized that I can’t take it after 23. Rxe5 Rxe5 24. Rxe5 Qf4, of course I was seeing ghosts as the rook could go to e1. Anyway computer prefers my move, Qxb5.

Then he made a big mistake by playing 25… Nxd5, but I was concentrated on defense and didn’t see 26. Qd4 winning “e” pawn. It was some maneuvering, then he missed my 34. f3.  Computer doesn’t like my queens exchange offer, but I didn’t have much time and the threats like Qb1+ bothered me.

Move 43 was the last crucial moment of the game. After the game my acquaintance master came up and said that instead of losing 43… Kxg4 my opponent could play 43… Ke4 with very active position. It was right, he could get good drawing chances. I ran shootouts, about half of them ended up with a draw, another half with White winning.


It was a last round and my hopes to improve my standing were dashed by mistake in the pairings due to a missed bye e-mail. So I was paired with my acquaintance from the top section, rated 2054.  He played Caro-Kann, Tartakower (Nimzovich) variation. I found later that I played only one OTB game with that line and I won. My unfamiliarity with it showed right away, as instead of 6. Nf3 the book move was 6. c3 , then 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Qc2 Re8 9. Ne2 h5 10. O-O. He told me after the game, that in general f3 is not a good square for the knight because of f6 pawn, e2 is better.

On move 13 I made a wrong decision, advancing my “c” pawn instead of the “d” one, I just didn’t like his bishop on d6. He started to put a pressure on my d4 pawn. I spent some time deciding between 22. Bc1 and Bd2, then played Bc1 which was wrong. Then I thought that his 25… b6 was strong, but computer criticizes it only giving it about -0.4 and prefers Qd7. My 26. Be3 was a big mistake, I just didn’t see how to defend. But after a calm 26. Bg5 R8d7 27. Qc2 h5 28. Re8+ Kh7 29. cxb6 Qxb6 30. Rf1 White is ~-0.9.

On move 27 I saw that 27. fxe3 would be bad because of Qg3, so took on d5, seeing of course that intermediate check on f2. Computer says that 30. Rc1 was bad, prefers 30. Qd4, also setting a trap – 30. Qd5 bxc5 31. bxc5 and if 31… Qxc5 then 32. Re8+ winning the queen, though I am sure he would see it. That was probably the last moment I could try to save the game.

After 30 moves it became technical and after some resistance I resigned.



My opponent was a girl rated 1274, surprisingly she played Evans Gambit.  This was a 4th time I got this gambit OTB, score before was 1.5:1.5. I played again Cordel variation. Her 10. Bb5+ was out of the book. Computer doesn’t like her queens exchange.

After 13. Nf3 I found Nxe4, in a few moves computer gives me ~-2.5. Then instead of my 23… Nxa3 I had to play stronger Bd3. I looked at it, but found my bishop kind of hanging after 23… Bd3 24. Rd1. But there was a line using the weakness of the first horizontal – 23… Bd3 24. Rd1 Bg6 25. Rxd8 Rxd8 26. Nxe4 Nxc4, eventually winning the “a” pawn.

Anyway I had an advantage and managed to increase it. On move 30 I saw h3, but thought that after 30… h3 31. g3 Bh5 she has g4. So I played 30… Bf7 attacking “a” pawn and only then saw that there was a much more interesting idea to get my bishop on e4 after h3. But she found it and played h3 herself. Actually 30… h3 31. g3 Bf7 32. c4 Bxc4 33. Rd1 Bd5 34. Rxd5 cxd5 was winning for Black.

Soon my bishops became a very powerful force and I started to advance my “a” pawn. When I queened she resigned.

It was a second round, my opponent was a young guy, I played him a year ago and won, Sicilian again. This time I played Moscow Variation. Starting from move 11, he had to play d5, but he didn’t do it. My pieces were kind of tangled, so intention of 17. Nd5 was to untangle them.

The position eventually simplified and after some maneuvering we ended up in the same-colored bishops endgame, absolutely equal I have to say. I thought about offering a draw, but didn’t want my offer to get refused and also didn’t see anything wrong with continuing to play. He, I realized later, wanted more and started to press.

When he played 43… g4, I realized that he probably over-pressed. Computer evaluates it as 1.36 and thinks that I missed the opportunity by playing 44. Bf2. Somewhere at that moment he offered a draw, but I saw that he is making his bishop bad and said I will play. After his 47… Bd6 I found c5 strike. Then he made a bad move again playing 49… Kf7. He tried to complicate the matters by getting all my pawns on the kingside, but it was lost.