Every year brought a new Pan-Am Intercollegiate adventure.
In 1977, it happened to be in St. Louis. I had not played my freshman year (why not?) and I was now a sophomore. On my squad was Ken Regan (a freshman), who won 1st board prize and went on to earn an IM title (and become a Math Prof at SUNY Buffalo) and Steve Strogatz (who wound up being an Applied Math Prof (!!) at Cornell) won Top Alternate. I played Board 2 for Princeton; we wound up equal 2nd behind U. Penn and the Costigans.
Here are some crazy games from the event.
K. Mohr (Illinois Tech ‘A’, 1846) – M. Ginsburg (Princeton Univ, 2255)
Board 2, Sicilian Kan
I include this game for some amazing middle-game tactics that remained behind the scenes.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. c4 d6 8. Nc3 Nbd7 9. Be3 b6 10. Rc1 Bb7 11. Kh1 Nc5 12. f3 Nxd3 13. Qxd3
Needless to say, black is happy gaining the two bishops but the task of making progress and winning lies ahead.
13…Be7 14. b3 O-O 15. Bg1 Rfe8 16. Nc2 Nd7 17. Ne3 Bf8 18. Rfd1 Rad8 19. b4 Qb8 20. a3 Nf6 21. Bf2 Nh5?! 22. Nf1 Nf4 The knight really can’t do that much.
23. Qd2 d5? And this is crazily too optimistic.
24. exd5 exd5 25. Bxb6 d4?
A ridiculous “combination”. 25… Rc8 26. cxd5 Nxd5 27. Nxd5 Bxd5 28. Rxc8 Rxc8 29. Bc5 Bxc5 30. Qxd5 Bb6 is much better for white but a sane alternative to the text that should lose. Youth players often embark on irrational flights of fancy.
26. Bxd8 dxc3
27. Rxc3? White misses the obvious 27. Qd7 Re2 28. Rxc3 Rxg2 29. Bc7! Qa7 30. c5! (cold shower!) cutting off the diagonal and winning.
27… Re2 28. Qd7 Qe5 29. Rcd3?
29. Rcc1? Rxg2 30. Qxb7 Qe2! amazingly forces mate! If 31. Rd2 Bc5!! is really an incredible shot. 31…Nh3? is too soon due to 32. Bb6, but 31…Bc5!! is a fantastic interference theme to make the line work.
Position after 31…Bc5!! (Analysis).
There follows 32. bxc5 Nh3!! and no matter how white twists and turns, he is mated. The finish position after accepting the queen offer 33. Rxe2 Rg1 mate is very nice. A phenomenally unusual tactic. Keep this in mind, it will recur!
White also had 29. Qd4! Qxd4 30. Rxd4 Rf2 31. Ng3 Rb2 32. Rd1 Nxg2 33. c5 winning, or 29. Re3! Rxe3 30. Bc7! Qc3 31. Nxe3 Qxe3 32. Bxf4 Qxf4 33. Qxb7 winning. Both these lines are nice and convincing.
29… Rxg2 30. Qxb7 Nxd3?
Black misses again the amazing 30… Qe2! 31. R3d2 Bc5!! with the incredible mating motif. Once again, 32. bxc5 Nh3 is the shot that mates: 33. Ng3 (33. Rxe2? Rg1 mate) 33… Rxh2 mate.
31. Qe4?? White blunders and loses, but here 31. f4 Qd4 32. Kxg2 Nxf4+ 33. Kf3 Qxd1+ 34. Kxf4 Qxf1+35. Qf3 Bd6+ 36. Ke3 Qxc4 37. h3 h6 is also very bad for him and black should win eventually. In addition, 31. Rxd3 loses horribly to 31…Qe2! hitting the Knight on f1 which cannot move. There follows 32. Rd1 Qf2! (the creeping motif threatening the mate on g1) and black mates.
31… Nf2+ 32. Kxg2 Nxe4 33. fxe4 Qxe4+ 34. Kf2 Qxc4 0-1
In this round we swept Illinois Tech 4-0 so it helped us rise back up in the leaderboard (we had lost ignominiously, 1-3, to Ohio State “B” (!!) in the first round, with Ken Regan taking an inexplicable rest. I was the only victor).
M. Ginsburg (Princeton, 2255) – T. Costigan (U. Penn, 2269) 45/2
Historical sidenote: in the earlier round 3, I had contrived to lose to R. Stoy (1834) (!!) from the Penn “B” Squad (!!). I was the only hapless loser as we won that match 3-1. I would go on to play Tom Costigan in the 1978 US Junior Invitational which is reported elsewhere on this site.
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 g6 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. Be3 Ne8?!  10. Rc1 Nc7 11. Qd2  Nxd4  12. Bxd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Ne6 14. Qe3 Bd7 15. Nd5 
Having done nothing special, white has a big edge.
15…Bc6  16. Rc3!  Preparing a rook lift that is a common motif in these structures.
16…Kh8 17. f4 Ng7 18. f5! Bxd5 19. Qh6! 
Typical of the Maroczy, sometimes white can switch to direct attack. Black’s position is now hopeless.
19…Qb6+ 20. Kh1 Qxb2 There was nothing else to try but white has a convincing winning line now.
21. Rh3 Nh5 22. fxg6 Qg7 23. Qxh5  Bxe4 24. Qxh7+ Qxh7 25. Rxh7+ Kg8 26. Rhxf7 Rxf7  27. gxf7+
This ending poses no problems for me to convert.
27…Kg7 28. Bh5  Rh8 29. Rf4 Kf8  30. Bf3 Bxf3 31. Rxf3 Rh7 32. g4 Rxf7 33. Rxf7+ Kxf7 34. Kg2 a6 35. a4 e6 36. a5 Kf6 37. h4 Kg6 38. Kf3 Kh6 39. g5+ 1-0
This was to no avail, as we lost this key match 1 1/2 – 2 1/2. I have no record of how Ken Regan fared on Board 1 in this match.
Let’s move ahead four years and show a funny picture from the 1981 Pan-Am.
This picture was a bunch of guys pretending to be on a team and winning the actual first-place trophy. But it was only a staged photo.
From left to right standing, Jon Schroer, me, Steve Odendahl, and Eric Tall. A very historic and nonsensical photo!
Sitting: a young Michael Wilder.