Yasser Seirawan’s Chess Duels


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Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan made chess history come alive when he published his masterpiece Chess Duels. Full of unbelievable anecdotes about the world champions, insider accounts of major events, and annotations of his own games with the greatest players in chess history, Chess Duels brings you right there with Yasser for all the action. 

Now that Chess Duels is on Chessable, you can play through all the moves Yasser played with the world champions. And together with his descriptive annotations, really understand the psychology behind his moves and what it’s like to play a chess legend.

Take this game between Yasser and Boris Spassky in 1982, for example. But as Yasser jokingly advises, “those with weak digestive tracts are advised to skip ahead.” 

Spassky – Seirawan, London 1982

It starts off with Yasser commanding the black pieces. At this point, he is sitting in 3rd place at the Phillips & Drew event in London, and feeling confident. The opening goes  1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 4.h4 h5 5.c4

But then something comes over him…


Yasser tells it best: 

“Gasp. I can hardly believe my eyes that I played this move. What was I thinking? Embarrassing to say, I know exactly what I was thinking, I thought I could clip a pawn. In short, I had a truly ridiculous tactical delusion.” 

Ridiculous tactical delusions – a good way to describe many of my own games! 

As described in his annotation, the idea was 6.Rxb1 Qxa5+ 7.Bd2 Qxa2. “If White plays Bc3 intending to trap my queen, then …dxc4 is my rescue plan as I secure the b3 square.”

After second thoughts, he chose not to follow up with his plan. Going a few steps further with his thinking above, he envisioned 9.b3, again threatening a queen trap, 9…cxb3 10.Bd3 and he would play …b2 to save his queen. 

“I now saw 11.Nh3 or 11.Ne2, and I wanted nothing further to do with the line. Black has no development and White is ready to fire salvos at Black’s king with e5-e6 and much else as well.”

Spassky-Seirawan 2
Yasser envisioned this type of position, where Black has an extra pawn but absolutely no development – wing pawns usually just aren’t worth it!

He continues, “Meanwhile as my king gets sacked I get to hold up an a2-pawn as my great reward? Ridiculous! Realizing my whole line was a crock of manure, I found that my spirit sank and I played poorly.”

So Yasser abandons his plan, and play quietly continues 6.Rxb1 e6. But bothered by this mistake, the game goes south, and after a few more misses Yasser gives up the full point to Spassky. 

But it gets even worse. Fussing over the a2-pawn idea, Yasser asks Spassky about it after the game and whether he would play 8.e6, sacrificing another pawn or not. 

Spassky’s answer: “Do you mean after 6…Qa5+ 7.Bd2 Qxa2? I saw only 8.Rh3! Don’t I win your queen?” 

Spassky-Seirawan 3

“Missed that too. Groan again.” 

Maybe super grandmasters are human after all 😉 

Be sure to check out the rest of this game and others, including some impressive wins by Yasser, by getting Chess Duels today. 

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