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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Manuel Aaron

     Indian IM Manuel Aaron was born December 30, 1935 in Toungoo, Myanmar (formerly Burma), but his family relocated and he grew up in Tamil Nadu, India.
     Awarded the International Master title in 1961 after winning the Asian-Australian Zonal, he was the first titled Indian player in modern times; they didn't have official titles in Sultan Khan's day. 
     Aaron is from a family of chess players and was introduced to the game by his grandfather and his son Aravind is a National Champion, chess journalist and trainer.
     In his day the only media available for learning the fine points of game was books and newspapers and Aaron used to constantly read the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the library. Newspapers used to carry chess problems which he solved and as an incentive to solve the problems, they also published the names of those who solved them. He also played correspondence chess. 
     Aaron dominated chess in India in the 1960s to the 1980s, took part in 14 Indian championships and won it in 1959,1961, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1981. 
     Until the 1960s, Indian chess, known as chaturanga and played with many local variants, was the form played in India, but it was Aaron who helped popularize the international version that we play. 
     For an article on this fascinating man, games and a video interview, check out the ChessBase article from 2018 HERE.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

You Probably Never Heard of Him

     On the Chessmetrics retroactive rating list the innominate Norman Van Lennep (September 20, 1872 - September 29,1897, 25 years old) is estimated to have had a rating of 2552, ranking him 37th in the world. 
     Van Lennep was the grandson of a famous Dutch novelist who was a contemporary and friend of the elder Alexandre Dumas and the son of one of one of Holland's well known judges. Coming from an upper-class family, he was expected to attend college and get a good job. Instead he decided to become a professional chess player. 
     Rumor had it that Van Lennep preferred men to the ladies and because of his life choices his father decided to exile him. As a result, in 1895 he was at the Hastings tournament as a journalist when he announced that he had decided to stay in England. 
     He gained his knowledge of chess from studying available books and only began tournament play when he took part in an Amsterdam club event in 1890 and finished third. At the time the Amsterdam club was the only chess club in Holland and as a result of his success in the tournament, and Van Lennep quickly rose to a prominent position; in 1893 he was elected honorary secretary of the Dutch Chess Association and the editor of its journal. 
     As a result of his efforts promoting the game, the study of chess was taken up in nearly every principal town in Holland. By the time he announced he was staying in England, Van Lennup had won some thirty minor tournaments, the championship of the Amsterdam Club twice and as a result of winning the German Amateur Tournament at Leipsic in 1894, he was a recognized Master. He had also contested matches with several of Holland's recognized Masters, winning one and losing two.
     In the summer of 1895, he was selected as a reserve for the up coming Hastings tournament. As a reserve, he would replace one of the invited players if they did not show up. 
      It's been reported that because of his heavy journalistic obligations Isidor Gunsberg offered to withdraw in Van Lennep's favor, but Van Lennep declined because he didn't feel he was prepared, having only come to Hastings as a journalist. During the tournament Van Lennep was often seen hobnobbing with the likes of Lasker, Tarrasch, Janowsky, Marco and others. 
     As mentioned, he learned his theory from books and from studying the games of the best players of the day. He was also known for his vast knowledge of opening theory. His play was marked by often ingenious tactics and he was sometimes compared to Morphy or Zukertort. He was also known for his skill in handling drawish looking positions and could often find hidden resources in them.
     Upon his arrival in England Van Lennep spoke very little English, but devoted a great deal of effort cultivating a knowledge of English literature and learning about English sports. 
     After settling in London, he associated with the chess clubs at London, Ludgate Circus, Battersea and Dulwich. He succeeded in winning matches against, among others, H. H. Cole whom he defeated twice in matches. In club events he also defeated many prominent local masters. 
     In spite of his success at the game, it appears that being abandoned by family and living in a foreign country among strangers took its toll on his fragile mental state. In 1897, he sailed from Harwich to Holland and during the trip he committed suicide by jumping into the North Sea and ending his life at the age of 25 and so disappeared from the chess history books. 
     Van Lenneps's opponent in the following game was Henry H. Cole (1873-1953), who also had some mental problems. 

     Cole was born in Hastings into a chess playing family. His father, Thomas H. Cole, was a member of the British Archaeological Association and St. Leonards Chess Club and was chairman of the Hastings tournament committee. Cole's brother was also a good player. 
     In late December 1898, Cole was committed to London's Bethlem Royal Hospital, psychiatric hospital, that inspired several horror books, films and TV series, most notably Bedlam, a 1946 film with Boris Karloff. The word "bedlam", meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from the hospital's nickname. 
     Although the hospital became a modern psychiatric facility, historically it was representative of the worst excesses of asylums. The hospital was founded in the mid-1200s (!) and was the place where the very disturbed and troublesome patients were sent. 
     In the 1630s one writer described the "cryings, screeching, roarings, brawlings, shaking of chains, swearing, frettings and chaffings" that he observed. 
     The facility had been built over a sewer which regularly got blocked resulting in overflows at the entrance. In 1598, the hospital was visited by the governors who observed that the hospital was "filthily kept", but they made no reference to the need to clean up the place. 
     The water system, which was not replaced until 1657, consisted of a single wooden cistern in the back yard from which water had to be carried by bucket. Patients, if capable, were permitted to use the "house of easement," (i.e. the outhouse) of which there were only two, but more generally "piss pots" were used in their cells. Inmates, as they were called, were left in their cells and on occasion would throw "filth and excrement" into the yard or onto staff and visitors. 
     It should be remembered that this was in a time when health standards are not what he enjoy today. In those days people were known to urinate or defecate in the street or even in their own fireplaces. 
     Also, it was not unusual for patients to be suffering from starvation owing to corrupt staff practices. Patients were fed twice a day on a reduced and plain diet consisting of bread, meat, oatmeal, butter, cheese and...a lot of beer. 
     Cole's mental health problems were possibly brought on by the anguish he suffered when, in 1898, his brother died suddenly, then his mother, then his best friend committed suicide. And, finally, his father died the following year. 
     Cole appears to have been there for a few months before getting his life back on track. By 1901, he was known to be living with his aunt and working as a clerk. He was married in 1910 and raised a family. 
     He appears on Chessmetrics rating list for 1899 with a rating of 2410 placing him at number 94 in the world.

Norman Van Lennep - Henry H. Cole

Result: 1-0

Site: Match, London

Date: 1896

French Defense, Classical System

[...] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.♗g5 ♗e7 5.♗xf6 This is the Richter Attack which in practice gives white about the same winning chances as he gets after the usual 5.e5, but at the same time black gets slightly more winning chances. 5...♗xf6 6.♘f3 ♗e7 7.♗d3 O-O
7...c5 8.dxc5 ♗xc5 9.exd5 ♗b4 10.♗b5+ ♗d7 11.♗xd7+ ♕xd7 White is slightly better. Lomineishvili,M (2342)-Gevorgyan,M (2226)/Tbilisi 2018.
8.O-O f5 Too risky. Better was 8...c6. 9.exf5 exf5 10.♘e5 ♘c6 11.♘xd5 ♘xe5 12.♘xe7+ ♕xe7 13.♖e1 White has a promising position and he managed a quick win. Bier, M-Leffmann,K/Nuremberg 1883
8...f5 This looks risky, but, in fact, it's quite sound...if black plays carefully. 9.exf5 exf5 10.♘e2 ♗d6 11.♕d2 ♘d7 12.♘g5 White must be careful not to overplay his hand and so 12.c4 was, technically, the correct move. Nevertheless, which is playing very aggressively and it will pay dividends. 12...♘f6 13.f3 Played to prevent ...Ne4, but it should have handed the initiative over to black.
13.c4 was correct. 13...c6 14.O-O ♘e4 15.♕c1 h6 16.♘f3 and black has only a minimal advantage, white having lost time with his N.
13...h6 was even better as after 14.♘h3 ♘e4 A surprise move! 15.fxe4 fxe4 Threatening ...Qxh4+, so.. . 16.♘hf4 exd3 17.♘xd3 ♗g4 18.O-O-O ♕f6 and black has good chances.
14.O-O-O ♕c7 15.c4 dxc4 16.♗xc4+ ♘d5 17.♔b1 b5 18.♗xd5+ cxd5 19.♘c3 ♕b7 Now white should play 20.Rde1 with equal chances. 20.♕e2 This attacks the b-Pawn, but black gets good play. 20...♗d7 21.f4 h6 Here, too, th eN cannot be taken and after 22...b4 black gets a winning attack.
21...b4 was even better. 22.♕h5 h6 both of white's Ns are under attack. 23.♘e2 hxg5 would lose. 24.hxg5 ♖fe8 25.g6 ♔f8 26.♘g3 with a winning attack. 26...♗e6 27.♘xf5 ♕d7 28.♕h8+ ♗g8 29.♘h6 ♔e7 (29...gxh6 30.♕f6+ mates in 7) 30.♖de1+ Black is lost.
22.♕f3 hxg5
22...b4 23.♘e2 hxg5 24.hxg5 (24.♕h5 is met by 24...g4 trapping the Q.) 24...♗e8 and white's Q cannot reach h5.
23.hxg5 Black has won a piece, but white has the attack. With careful play black can survive though. 23...♔f7 24.♘xd5 Now black can stay in the game with 24...Bc6. Instead, he makes a logical looking, but losing, move! 24...♖h8 This offer the exchange Rs allows white a nice game winning tactic.
24...♗c6 25.♖de1 This keeps the K from escaping via e7. 25...♖h8 Now this is correct...in fact, it's the only move. 26.g6+ ♔xg6 27.♖xh8 ♖xh8 28.♖e6+ ♔f7 29.♖xd6 ♖h6 with an equal position.
25.g6+ And wins! 25...♔e6 White has a mate in 13 with 26.Rhe1 (25...♔xg6 wins the Q 26.♘e7+) 26.♕e3+ This also wins in a pretty fashion.
26.♖he1+ ♗e5 27.♖xe5+ ♔d6 28.♕a3+ b4 29.♘xb4 ♔c7 30.♘a6+ ♕xa6 31.♕xa6 ♖ac8 32.♖c1+ ♔b8 33.♕d6+ ♔a8 34.♖xc8+ ♗xc8 35.♕c6+ ♗b7 36.♖e8+ ♖xe8 37.♕xe8+ ♗c8 38.♕xc8#
26...♔xd5 27.♕f3+ ♔e6 28.♕xb7 ♖hd8 29.♖de1+ ♔f6 30.♕d5 ♗xf4 31.♕f7+
31.g4 ♖f8 32.♕xd7 ♔g5 33.♖eg1 ♗g3 34.gxf5 ♖ae8 35.♖xg3+ ♔f4 36.♕d6+ ♔xf5 37.♖h5+ ♔e4 38.♕d5+ ♔f4 39.♕f3#
31...♔g5 32.♕xg7 ♗g3
32...♖e8 runs into a forced mate. 33.♕xd7 ♖xe1+ 34.♖xe1 b4 35.g7 b3 36.♖e8 ♖xe8 37.♕xe8 bxa2+ 38.♔xa2 a6 39.g8=♖+ ♔h4 40.♕e1+ ♗g3 41.♕xg3+ ♔h5 42.♕h2#
33.♕h6+ ♔f6 34.♖h5 ♗h4 35.♕f4 ♗xe1 36.♕g5+ ♔e6 37.♕xf5+ ♔e7 38.♖h7+ ♔d6 39.♕c5+ ♔e6 40.♕e5#
33...♗c6 34.♖c7 ♗e4+
34...♗xc7 35.♕e7+ and it's mate in 8 after 35...Kg4 and mate in 7 after 35.. .Kxg6
35.♔a1 ♔g4 36.♕h6 ♖xd4 37.♕h3+ ♔f4 38.♖f1+ ♔e5 39.♕xg3+ Black resigned. A very nice attack by Van Lennep.
39.♕xg3+ ♔e6 40.g7 ♖d3 41.g8=♕+ ♖xg8 42.♕xg8+ ♔e5 43.♕g7+ ♔d5 44.♕d7+ ♔e5 45.♕e7+ ♔d5 46.♖xf5+ ♗xf5 47.♖c5+ ♔d4 48.♕e5#
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Monday, September 27, 2021

Bishop Of The Wrong Color

     In How To Reassess Your Chess Jeremy Silman wrote that most average players don’t understand the true purpose of the opening, have no knowledge of planning and the thinking process, no understanding of elementary endings and how all three phases of the game are connected. 
     In fact, the first thing he did in the book was look at basic endings. Only then does he take up his teaching on the middlegame. Regarding endgames he had this to say: ”EVERYONE needs to know the basics of endgame play…I am only giving basic endgame material that I think you simply must know.” 
     The importance of having even a rudimentary knowledge of endings was illustrated in the following blitz game I recently played online.
     The wrong Bishop is a situation in the endgame where if the a Bishop was on the other color,  it would win the game instead of drawing or losing. This most commonly occurs with a Bishop when the queening square of either the a- or h-Pawn is opposite the color of the square the Bishop is on. In that case, if the opposing King can reach the queening square then it is impossible for the B to force it away. The result is that the King blocks the Pawn so it can't queen. 
     Had my opponent known this simple rule he would not have resigned in a dead drawn position. 
* For further reading: Wrong Bishop-Chessbase article 
* If you want to play around with any 6-man ending you can do so at Shredder's online tablebase HERE.

Tartajubow - Guest

Result: 1-0

Site: Online, Game 5+2 seconds

Date: 2021

[...] 47.♔f2
47.a3 ♔b3 48.♔f2 ♔xa3 This is a draw with either side to move. Naturally, there are a number of moves that either side can play, but they all lead to a draw. Here is just one line. 49.♔e2 ♔b3 50.♔d2 a3 (50...♔b2 loses to 51.c4+ ♔b3 52.cxb5) 51.♔c1 a2 52.c4 ♔xc4 53.♔b2
47...a3 also leads to a draw, but in any case the c- and b-Pawns will disappear. 48.♔e3 b4 49.♔d2 bxc3+ 50.♗xc3 This, too, is a draw with either side to move. For example: 50...♔c5 51.♔c2 ♔c4 52.♗d2 ♔b5 53.♔b3 wins the P, but it's still a draw.
48.cxb4 ♔xb4 49.♗b2 a3 50.♗a1 ♔c4 51.♔e3 ♔c5 52.♔d3 ♔b4 53.♔d4 ♔b5 54.♔c3 ♔a4 55.♔c4 ♔a5 56.♔b3 ♔b5 57.♔xa3 ♔a5 58.♗c3+ ♔b5 59.♔b3 Black resigned! But the game is a draw. To wit: 59...♔c5 60.a4 ♔b6 61.♔b4 ♔a6 62.♔c5 ♔b7 63.♔b5 ♔a7 64.♗d4+ ♔b7 65.a5 ♔a8 66.♔b6 ♔b8 67.a6 ♔a8 68.♔c6 ♔b8 and black's K cannot be chased out of the corner.
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Friday, September 24, 2021

Maya Chiburdanidze

     Maya Chiburdanidze (born January 17, 1961) won her first USSR Girl’s Championship at the age of 15, and a year later won the 1976 USSR Women’s Championship. 
     By then it was pretty clear that she was one of the best female players in the world. She went on to win her first Women’s World Championship in 1978 by defeating Nona Gaprindashvili. Chiburdanidze defended her title four times before being taken down by Xie Jun in 1991. 
     In 1984 she became the second woman to be awarded the GM title. Chiburdanidze has generally shunned women's tournaments and prefers to play in men's events and her best form was in the 1980s and early 1990s. 

     In the following game from Dortmund 1983, by move 22 Chiburdanidze had chased Nigel Short's King from c8 all the way out to b4 after he castled Q-side, but, amazingly, it was still safe and the chances were about even. Then, on his 23rd move Short erred and soon found himself in a mating net 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Lesson On the Center

     Yesterday and today dawned dark and gloomy in Indiana and Ohio. Where I live it rained all day yesterday...3 inches of it and a bit to the east they had severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings until 10pm last night. Yesterday was a good day for holing up with Isaac Lipnitsky's Questions of Modern Chess Theory. 
Wednesday morning weather radar

     The blurb on the back cover calls it a lost masterpiece of Soviet chess and rumor has it that Bobby Fischer learned Russian so he could read the book. Lipnitsky's explanations are clear and simple and if you are still at that place where you are studying to improve then I can recommend picking up a copy. 
     Today's post is about the center which has been a major topic of discussion in instructional books for as far back as chess books have existed. The basic task in the opening is to mobilize one's pieces as quickly as possible and it is evident that in the fight to seize favorable squares that the center is crucial because from that location the pieces attack the most squares and from there they can reach the flanks quickly. 
     Times have changed since those days of yesteryear when it was believed that the player who occupied the center had the advantage. The Hypermoderns demonstrated that simple occupation of the center did not always mean control. In My System, Nimzovich pointed out that Pawns are best suited to building a center, but pieces can take their place. He also proved that pressure exerted on the center from a distance by Rooks and Bishops can also be effective. 
     The important thing to remember is that the occupation of the center is not an end in itself, but is important because it enables one to take the initiative and exert pressure on the opponent. On the other hand, after having set up an imposing  center, a player may find it a target for a counterattack. 
     So, should you occupy the center with Pawns or not? Lipnitsky gives us the answer: it depends on the role the center will play in the coming struggle. I hope that helps (that's sarcasm!) 
     One of chess' greatest teachers, C.J.S. Purdy, had something to say about the center. "Don't be puzzled by what the books say about the center. It's partly nonsense," he wrote. 
     It is useless to put pieces in or near the center if they can be driven away. He added that in the opening all one can do is push Pawns into the center which gives you space behind them and prevents your opponent from getting too much space for himself. Just remember that the number of Pawns in the center means nothing by itself. 
     Purdy gave a simple test for determining how well one stands in the center. According to him, if you have files for your Rooks, then the other pieces will have freedom. Elaborating on this point Purdy added that for beginners (or all of us who are rating- challenged) it is important to develop the Rooks as soon as possible.

Mark Stolberg - Mikhail Botvinnik

Result: 0-1

Site: USSR Championship, Moscow

Date: 1940

Nimzo-Indian: Rubinstein Variation

[...] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 ♗b4 4.e3 This is White's most common reply. White continues his development before committing to a definite plan. Black has three main moves: 4...0-0, 4...c5 and 4...b6. 4...O-O 5.♗d3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.♘ge2 White often plays this rather than Nf3 so as to be able to recapture on c3 with a N thus avoiding the doubled Ps. Lipnitsky dis not approve of this move because developing the N here is going to prove less effective than placing it on f3 from where it keeps an eye on e5. However, that is not the fault of the move itself, but rather white's later handling of the position. 7...c5 8.O-O ♘c6 9.a3 cxd4 10.exd4 ♗d6 11.h3 This is a poor move. Lipnitsky singles it out as the beginning of white's troubles because it contributes nothing to the fight for the center. A better move was 11.Bf4, at once neutralizing the pressure from black's B. 11...h6 12.b4
12.♗c2 ♖e8 13.♗f4 ♗xf4 14.♘xf4 ♕d6 15.♘ce2 g5 16.♘d3 ♗f5 17.♘b4 ♗e4 18.♘xc6 ♕xc6 19.♖c1 ♕e6 20.♘c3 wiht a fully equal position. Baumegger,S (2495)-Titz,H (2310)/Austria 1998
12.♗e3 ♖e8 13.♖c1 ♗e6 14.♗b1 ♖c8 15.♘f4 ♕d7 16.♘xe6 ♕xe6 17.♖e1 equals. Jussupow,A (2633) -Jenni,F (2487)/Switzerland 2001
12...♖e8 13.♕b3 Attacks the isolani on d5 13...♗e6 A brilliant move! It blocks the R and reduces it's influence on the center, but Botvinnik is beginning a maneuver aimed at weakening white's influence in the center and at the same time his move aids in developing his Q-side. 14.♗d2 ♕d7 15.f4 White takes a precaution against the possible sacrifice 15...Bxh3, but in doing so he weakens e4 even more and Botvinnik is quick to take advantage of it. 15...♗f5 White has two weak squares: e4 and c4 and his light squared B is their defender and so Botvinnik wants to exchange Bs which leaves holes in white's center.
15...♗xh3 was quite playable, but Botvinnik didn't like playing moves like this. He preferred clear cut strategical plans rather than embark on murky complications. 16.♘xd5 (16.gxh3 ♕xh3 followed by ...Ng4 is clearly in black's favor.) 16...♘xd5 17.♕xd5 ♗g4 and black has better chances, but nothing like a forced win, so Botvinnik naturally rejected the line.
16.♕c2 ♗e4 There was nothing wrong with 16...Bxd3. In case of 17.Nxe4 black gets a strong passed P, the d5 square for his N plus white has a weak P on d4. 17.b5 This move only results in the further deterioration of white's position.
17.♗xe4 dxe4 18.d5 ♘e7 19.♘xe4 ♘exd5 20.♘2g3 ♘xe4 21.♘xe4 and the position is very nearly equal.
17...♗xd3 Now, thanks to white's weak white squares (c4 and e4), black has a substantial advantage. 18.♕xd3 ♘a5 Heading for c4 which white can prevent by taking the d-Pawn, but black gains too great a positional advantage if white accepts. 19.♘g3 (19.♘xd5 ♘xd5 20.♗xa5 ♖e3 21.♕c4 ♗xa3 black is much better.) 19...♘c4 Again offering then d-Pawn which white does well to decline. 20.♗c1 (20.♘xd5 ♘xd5 21.♕xc4 ♘e3 22.♗xe3 ♖xe3 Here again,white is much better.) 20...♖ac8 21.♖a2 ♗f8 22.a4 On the plus side this removes the P from attack, but on the minus side b3 is weakened. 22...♗b4 23.♘d1 The threat was 23...Bxc3 and 24...Ne3
23.♔h1 A pass to show the threat. 23...♗xc3 24.♕xc3 ♘e3 attacking both the Q and R.
23...♘e4 Botvinnik has now seized complete control of the center and dominates the position. 24.f5 ♘xg3 25.♕xg3 ♗d6 26.♕f3 ♗e7 Intending to attack the d-Pawn with ...Bf6 27.♕g3 This threatening Bxh6 is the losing move. But, how does black defend against the threat?
27.♘c3 Attacking black's own d-Pawn offered somewhat better chances. 27...♗f6 28.♕xd5 ♗xd4+ 29.♔h1 ♕xd5 30.♘xd5 ♖e4 and black's advantage is only minimal. In fact, in spite of his less than stellar play so far, white's position appears defensible. In Shootouts using Stockfish five games (at 9-17 plies) were drawn.
27...♗f6 He doesn't. This move actually serves two purposes: it guards g7 and it attacks the d-Pawn. 28.♗xh6 ♗xd4+ 29.♔h1 f6 Guards g7 and secures e5. 30.♗c1
30.♕d3 is met by 30...♖e4 (30...gxh6 31.♕xd4 is obviously bad as it allows white to equalize.) 31.♗f4 ♖ce8
30...♖e4 What a difference there is in the placement of the white and black pieces! Black has total control of the center and so he dominates the entire board. On the other hands, white's pieces are so scattered and ineffectual that he can't do anything. Is there any question as to the game's outcome? 31.♕d3
31.♘f2 would not drive the R away. Black plays 31...♕xf5 32.♖d1 (32.♘xe4 ♕xf1+ 33.♔h2 ♕g1#) 32...♘e3 black is winning.
31...♘e5 32.♕b1 ♖c4 33.a5 This is a meaningless gesture, but there isn't much he can do. 33...♗c5 34.b6 a6 35.♘b2
35.♘f2 is met the same as in the note to move 31. 35...♕xf5 36.♗a3 ♖f4 37.♕xf5 ♖xf5 38.♗xc5 ♖xc5−⁠+39.♖d1 ♘c6 with a won ending.
35...♖c3 Even more forceful was 35...Qb5 36.♗d2 ♖b3 37.♕c2 ♕b5 38.♖c1 ♗f8 39.♖d1 ♖e2 40.♕c1 This allows a mate in 6, but there was no hope of saving the game. 40...♖xh3+ Mate attack! 41.gxh3 d4 White resigned. (41...d4 42.♕c4+ ♘xc4 43.♖f1 ♕d5+ 44.♖f3 ♕xf3+ 45.♔g1 ♕g2#)
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