Archive for the ‘Manhattan Chess Club’ Category

The Fabulous 10s: Liberties with Fischer

June 2, 2011

I chortled and guffawed through a recent piece of semi-fiction regarding the famous game Donald Byrne-Bobby Fischer, “The Game of the Century”, played at the Marshall CC in New York City in 1956, as recounted by ChessBase online.

This excerpt is Chapter 3 from the book “Endgame” by Frank Brady.  I put sections in bold that are particularly comment-worthy.

Let’s take a look at some of the writing in this chapter with my own comments in color.

“The club – which was located on Tenth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, one of Manhattan’s most attractive neighborhoods – had been quartered in this venerable brownstone (built in 1832) since 1931, when a group of wealthy patrons, including one of the Roosevelts, bought the building so that their beloved Frank J. Marshall, the reigning U.S. Champion, who would hold the title for 27 years, would always have a place to live with his family, and to play, teach, and conduct tournaments. Walking down the street with its rows of stately brownstones festooned with window boxes of flowers, and a private boarding stable on the same block, Bobby could have easily felt he was transported back to the Gas Light or Silk Stocking era of the 19th century.”

GM Kavalek has said the most dangerous thing to do for an analyst is place himself inside the head of the player.  I doubt Fischer felt anything like this, but I am certain Brady did, or does!

“Certainly, there was a sense of decorum that permeated the Club, even when it came to dress. Bobby’s habitual mufti of tee shirt, wrinkled pants, and sneakers was considered an outrage by Caroline Marshall, Frank Marshall’s widow and the longstanding manager of the Club, and on several occasions she informed him of his sartorial indiscretion, once even threatening to bar him from the premises if he didn’t dress more appropriately. Bobby ignored her.”

Mufti?  Geez.  What is this, 1830 Calcutta?   On a more humorous note, many years later Leslie Braun took on the role of fashion and manners police, physically booting young Maxim Dlugy out of the club for over-boisterous behavior.  I was booted simply because I was near young Maxim.    To give the readers a clearer sense of what was going on, Bobby had on crummy outfits.  Similar to outfits favored by future champions Fedorowicz and Rohde.    What do we expect, ascots and lace? 

A kibitzing GM here said that Black was simply lost in this position.”

Out with it, man!  Name this GM!  The only person I can think of is the late GM Larry Evans.  I don’t see the point of not naming the individual. 

““What is he doing?” said someone to no one in particular. “Is this a blunder or a sacrifice?””

Am I the only one who finds the above rather ludicrous?   Someone says to no one?   Maybe it was Jackie Beers talking to Asa Hoffmann.  And where are they located?  Near the restrooms? Near the coke machine?  Near the pay phones?  Right next to the players? 

“Bobby’s opponent that night was the urbane college professor Donald Byrne, an International Master, former U.S. Open Champion, and a fiercely aggressive player. Dark-haired, elegant in speech and dress, the 25-year-old Byrne invariably held a cigarette between two fingers, his hand high in the air, his elbow resting on the table, in a pose that gave him an aristocratic demeanor.”

Eh?  Byrne played quiet, passive openings, favoring long drawn-out English opening type positional battles.  This was no Tal.  Brady might be thinking of Robert Byrne (Donald’s brother), a much more aggressive player.   As for the cigarette, imagine a lot of smoking going on with no a/c and you can get a sense of how difficult it was to play in the summer there.    Again with the dress in this passage?   The dress would be more interesting if we were talking about Hastings 1895.

““The onlookers were invited to sit right next to you and if you asked them to leave or be quiet they were highly insulted,” Bobby recalled”

No criticism here, just a hearty laugh because there still are a bunch of the same type of people at the club!  (and also at the Manhattan Club while it existed).

“A whisper of spectators could be heard: “Impossible! Byrne is losing to a 13-year old nobody.”

What are the odds someone said this bizarre sentence?  Not very good.  And what is the plural spectators about, are we to imagine some kind of Greek chorus calling out this inane patter?   I can easily see instead some C-player babbling “Byrne’s losing to a freakin’ kid” near the Coke machine (curse words deleted).    It does sound accurate if this was Hastings 1895, for example:  “Balderdash!  Lasker is losing to an erstwhile Pillsbury Dough Boy!” 

“On the 41st move, after five hours of play, with his heart slightly pounding, Bobby lifted his rook with his trembling right hand, quietly lowered the piece to the board, and said, “Mate!” His friendly opponent stood up, and they shook hands.”

No criticism here, just another hearty laugh because many years later Tom Davidoff slowly executed a move with a trembling hand against veteran club member Alex Kevitz (I will wait for confirmation from Davidoff that this was, in fact, the Marshall CC – there is a chance it  may have been at the Manhattan CC which does not lessen the humor) and Kevitz barked out “Just move the piece, ya trembly-handed schmuck!”  Good times.

The Fabulous 10′s: Some Humoristical Think-Quick Endgames

February 27, 2011

Either You Know It or You Don’t

In an ICC 5-minute blitz game I found myself battling LeopoldStotch.  This person’s profile says he is 9 years old, from Colorado, and the current rating of the child genius at least in ICC blitz is 2506!

Let’s pick up the action at the very end, where I have 12 seconds left and the nine year old, (typical for nine year olds), has more than a minute.  Blitz is the ultimate arbiter asking “Do You Know This Position?”  A person “inventing a solution” for the first time, i.e. muddling through, won’t win in the 12 seconds!

IM Aries2 – LeopoldStotch (2506)

White to move

Well, 1. Kb6?? stalemate does not suggest itself.    1. Rf7 Ba7  2. Kc6 B-somewhere doesn’t get anywhere either!  I found the key idea, a tempo loss,

1. Rg8 (or other rook moves along the 8th rank).  Black’s reply is forced:


Do you see the win now?    Escaping me in the time remaining was the very simple 2. Rg7+ Ka8 3. Kb6 B-somewhere 4. a7! nailing the black king in and preventing the bishop return to b8.  Even if the bishop can now check the white king, the white king finds haven on a6 and there no stalemates, so white wins.

This tempo loss motif finds its way into other endings where white has to break down a compact black formation.

One such position is discussed in Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.







White to play


In a blitz or regular game sudden death finale, it really pays to know this, because otherwise one would run out of time!

The annoyance is that a player’s first tendency is to use the White King close up to mate the counterpart, but 1. Qa6? Rc7+ 2. Kb6 Rc6+! 3. Kxc6 is stalemate!  A typical blunder where the king and queen were just too close!

The win is quite elegant and not the most obvious.

1. Qe5+! Ka8 (or 1…Ka7, same thing) 2. Qa1+! (using the long-range power of the queen) 2…Kb8 3. Qa5! reaching the same position as our starting one except now it’s black to move.  It turns out black cannot keep his rook near the king, and it must move far away, where it is lost in a few moves due to the checks.  For example, 3…Rb1 (3…Rh7 4. Qe5+ Ka8 5. Qa1+! (this again!) 5…Kb8 (or 5…Ra7 6. Qh8 mate!) 6. Qb1+ is another excellent example of the queen’s range, picking up the rook) 4. Qd8+ Ka7 5. Qd4+ Ka8 6. Qh8+ Ka7 7. Qh7+ picking up the errant rook!

As Dvoretsky points out, Philidor introduced this study in 1777.  It demonstrates very well how the queen can make use of all the squares on the board. If I had seen it anytime between 1777 and 2009, I would have defeated IM Pruess in the Mesa International!  I could not figure out how to separate the K & R in a sudden death finale.

And never mind the time I could not defeat IM Danny Edelman at the Manhattan Chess Club in a Game/30 game, because I mistakenly believed in K&B&N versus lone king, the B&N *must* keep the opposing king penned to the last rank and shepherd it to the right corner.  That false idea kept me from executing the correct B&N mate, where the superior side *does* allow the lone king some breathing room while it is shepherded to the corner of the bishop’s color.  At least it was a moral victory of sorts since it was a good game before the botch (I recall I was white in a Winawer, but lost the game score.)  This game, of course, was a long time ago because the poor Manhattan Chess Club does not exist anymore.

Now I’m 0 for 3 in these things, but at least have started to collect the failures!


Try this agonizing puzzle from Dvoretsky’s excellent “Endgame Manual 2nd Edition”!

White to play and win.

A Real Head-Scratcher

The first moves are obvious: 1. b6 axb6 2. a6 Kb6Kc6  Now what?


Many readers are asking about 14-year-old GM Illya Nyzhnik (2530) from Ukraine (note: this is a Chessbase spelling, some people prefer Nyzhnyk which is cooler).  For example what does he look like?

Here he is.

The Nyzh

The Fabulous 60s: McKelvie upsets Benko

March 18, 2009

This just in from Dr. Neil McKelvie (Chemistry Professor at CCNY and Chess Master)

Mark…I noticed that (a) there have been no comments on my Denker submission; BUT (b) if you look up “Neil McKelvie” on GOOGLE, which I just did out of curiosity, I note that the first three entries – meaning most often accessed – are for me. (The next ones: I am not the principal of a religious English school in Yorkshire, and I do not play drums in a NZ rock band!) No 3 is for your BLOG. I have received no comments – have you?

MG Note: New Zealand (NZ) is a fantastic place, every chess player should visit it. The most recent NIC magazine has a story about the Queenstown, NZ Open organized by GM Chandler.  As Dr. McKelvie points out, in Auckland, NZ there happens to be MacKelvie Street but it’s listed as McKelvie Street.

McKelvie on Benko

Now: Pal Benko! I played him twice in MCC championships, and once in a US Open in Boston; but several times in Rapids (once coming in second to Bobby Fischer…7-0 I think was HIS score – ahead of Bisguier and Benko) This game is similar to the Denker game in that I played a highly speculative and probably unsound improvised gambit. *I* think that the most interesting Chess often comes from doubtful moves that no decent Computer would ever play! (Benko scored 7-0 the next year, ahead of Bisguier 5 1/2 – 1 1/2 and me 5-2)

McKelvie – GM Pal Benko Manhattan Club Championship – date 1966?

MG Note to readers: The Manhattan CC moved all over Manhattan, including a stint at the world famous Carnegie Hall at 57th and 7th Avenue.  This game was played before that venue.  Notes in the body of the game are by MG with Rybka kibitzing… see next section for McKelvie’s notes.

1. e4   c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3  e6 6. f4 a6 7. Be3 b5

As in many games, for example SM Bill Kelleher – M. Ginsburg, New England, 1980s (possibly early 90s).

Old Theory

Old Theory

8. e5!? Just as Kelleher played!  Theory presumes this to be premature but play gets very sharp.  It’s odd to see super sharp McKelvie openings because when I (MG) played him he reacted very passively in a QGD MCC Ch. 1985.  Maybe decaf that day?

In the 1970s, this type of structure was covered in a Scheveningen textbook.  Let’s see it:

What we had to work with in the 1970s

What we had to work with in the 1970s

However this 8. e5!? lunge was little covered.  I was certainly shocked when Kelleher tried it against me.

8….dxe5 9. fxe5 Nd5 Just for completeness, 9….b4!? TN 10. exf6 bxc3 11. fxg7 Bxg7 12. bxc3 Qc7 is a small edge for white – thus playable.

10. Nd5 Qxd5 11. Be2 Still following the Kelleher game.  I don’t have that game score handy….(I won after insane complications).  The bizarre computer choice 11. Nf3 retains equality.

11…Qxe5 I  believe that I, too, accepted this pawn because it’s hard to see what else black can do.

12.Qd2    Bb7 A very important position for the theory of this line has been reached.  Interesting, Rybka judges white has almost equal chances.  Black has one narrow way (see next note) to get something.  As McK mentions in his notes below, 12…Bc5! is a good alternative here and Rybka agrees.

13.Bf4    Qd5(? – McK) The best, not easy to see at the board, is 13…Qc5! 14. O-O-O Be7 15. Nb3 Qc8! 16. Bd6 Qd8! 17. Nc5 Bd5! and black has a small plus.

14. O-O-O! A wild continuation hanging a2.  However in the end this turns out to be justified. Rybka mentions 14. Bf3 Qd7 15. Rf1!? with compensation.    It also gives an inhuman line 14. Bf3 Qd7 15. Qc3 Bxf3 16. gxf3!?, also with good compensation.

14…Qd7  (? – Rybka) Benko blinks first, makes a move that doesn’t contribute to development, and he lands in a lost game!  But starting here we have a fascinating battle of the chess engines.  It would be interesting to turn even more engines loose on this one.

Naturally Rybka 2.2 doesn’t like this game choice and recommends 14…Qxa2 15. Nb3 Be7 (forced) 16. Bd6 Bf6 17. Be5! O-O (17…Be7?! 18. Bxg7 is good for white after 18…Rg8 19. Qh6)  18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Qf4 (or 19. Qh6) – thus far McK analysis- and now a truly amazing defense, 19…Nc6!! 20. Qxf6 Na5 and white has nothing better than a perpetual with queen checks on g5 and f6.  Incredible.   But hang on to your hats.  Rybka 3.1 has seen deeper!  19…Nc6 20. Qxf6 Na5 21. Nc5 Rac8 22. Rd4! and wins!  Thus we have to revise our opinion and say black should not grab on a2!

Rybka 3.1 indicates black should not grab on a2 just yet, develop with 14…Be7, but then 15. Bf3 Qxa2 16. Qc3! causes obvious problems.  Is there any defense at all?  Let’s take a look at this position; the resource it finds for black is truly amazing.

Position after 16. Qc3 (Analysis)

Position after 16. Qc3 (Analysis)

Readers:  A) What should black play from the diagram position above?  B) What’s the correct evaluation with best play for both sides?

15. Qc3! Now black has a horrible game in all lines.

15…Bd5? This makes it worse. 15…b4, while very lame, was the best chance.

16. Nf5! A real cruncher.  Black is dead lost.

16…Nc6 17. Rxd5! exd5  18. Bg4!  Kd8 What a depressing move to have to play. In fact, black could have resigned – see the note to white’s next move.

19. Nd4 (“!” – McK, “?”   – Rybka)

Rybka hates this move because of what’s out there.  Indeed, one of Rybka’s juicy moves, 19. Ne7!!, forces resignation after 19…Qxg4 20. Nxc6+.  Even worse, if that is possible, is 19…Qxe7 20. Qxc6 with utter destruction.   For the sadists in the audience, 19. Nh6!! is just as effective.  For example, 19. Nh6!! Nb4 20. Bg5+ Be7 21. Nxf7+ and it’s +13.95 in computer speak!

This just in from McKelvie:  “Just incidentally….I DID intend Ne7, which of course wins easily, but then picked Nd4, which wins a piece and ALSO wins easily. Why? After Ne7 Black can play B:e7 and then K:d7, with R+N for Q and dead lost, but at least developed and able to survive for a while. After Nd4 Black is still with a useless R and unmoved B. The way I played SHOULD have led to immediate resignation after Qe1/e3 instead of Re1…now THAT was careless of me, or perhaps I wanted to enjoy winning against Benko a bit longer!

I suspect Rybka cannot understand failing to win Q for two pieces instead of just winning a piece, unless I have missed some amazing defence after my Nd4.   Cheers – Neil McKelvie”

19…Nb4! Black doesn’t have to be asked twice to do this. He’s now at only -1.2; if white had done 19. Ne7 it would have been -5 in computer-speak.

20. Kb1 Qb7 20. Rc8 21. Qh3 also loses: 21…Qb7 22. Bg5+! Kc7 23. Qc3+ Kb8 24. Bf4+ and wins the rook.

21. a3 h5 22.  Bh3 a5 23. ab Ra6   24. Nxb5 axb5 25. Bc7+ Ke8  26. Re1+ Re6   27.B:e6   fe   28.Qh3    Rh6    29.R:e6+  Kf7  30.R:h6   gh   31.Qf5+   Kg8   32.Qe6+   Kh7   33.Qf7+   Bg7 34.Nd4    Qa7    35.Nf5    Qg1+ 36.Ka2    b3+  37.K:b3   Resigns

I will try to find the “counter-twin” Kelleher game.

Some notes by McKelvie

Some notes: 12….Bc5 looked good for Black, although after 13.O-O-O O-O (?! – Rybka)  (MG: Rybka likes 13….Bb7! first) 14.Bf3 Ra7 15.Bf4!? Qd4 16.Qd4 Bd4 17.Rd4 White has a little compensation with two Bishops…
13….Qc5 was much better than 13…Qd5. If 14…Qa2 15.Nb3  Be7 16.Bd6 Bf6 17.Be5 O-O(?)
18. Bf6 gf 19 Qh6 a5(?) 20. Bd3 f5 21.g4,,,,  (MG:  See game notes for a discussion of a preliminary computer try, 19…Nc6)
26. Qe3+ was quicker.

Cheers….Neil McKelvie

McKelvie Puzzle

One McK creation from MANY years ago…a Mate in Four (but the first move is fairly obvious).
White: Qh1; Kg2; Pg4; Nb4; Ne8 Black: Kd7 Pb7

9/21/09:  Neil sent in a correction, the above puzzle had a typo. Here is the right version.

White: Kg2; Qh1; N’s b5 and e8; P g4;

Black: Kd7; Pb7    White to play and Mate in 4.

Solution: 1.Ne8-c7
If 1….Ke7 2.Qh7+ If then 2…Kf6 3.Nd5+ and then mirror mates from 4.Qh5 or Qf5 Other moves are uninteresting. HOWEVER
If 1…..Kc6; some logic. Black’s possible second moves with the K are 2…Kb6; 2…Kc5 and 2…K back to d7.  For the Q to then mate in two more moves, it has to get to a3, d4, and e5 respectively. There is only one square from where all three can be reached: a1!
SO: 2.Qa1. But now; what if 2…Pb6. NOW, the K has three squares available: 3…c5 or d7 or b7. To mate then, the Q has to get to c3, e8…AND a8. There is only one square from which to reach all three:3.Qh8. Therefore: Z for Zugswang! Q from h1 -> a1; h8; and a8.

McKelvie on Celts, Irish, Scots

“Mc” and even “M’ ” are valid SCOTTISH (and Irish) abbreviations for “Mac”. For my family name, which comes from the whole area of northern Ireland, the islands to the north, and the Scottish land area to the east; south of Glasgow, “McKelvie is the Scottish spelling, and “McKelvey” is the Ulster spelling. We are supposedly all descendants of a chieftain named “Cielbach Mac Cielbach”, where the “C” turned sometimes into “K” and sometimes into “S” (the northern English name “Selby”) over 2000+ years.

Scots from the North ,”highlanders”, are invariably “Mac”. Lowland Scots, who originally came from Northern ireland anyway, are usually “Mc”. The ROMANS named the group from Northern Ireland the “Scotti”. They were in constant war with the O’Neill’s from the south of Ireland, and so pushed into the south of Scotland, then occupied by the Picts. The two groups united against the Roman invaders. Later a character called Kenneth MacAlpine had married a daughter of the Pictish King, and when he died he became the first king of a united Scotland, having had other claimants killed off. To this day the tall fair-haired Highlanders – descendants of the Picts? – look, think, and talk differently from the Lowlanders. The groups do not always get on well together.
So; the Northern Ireland conflict has a 2000+ year history.

MG Note:  Since I was/am a Philistine savage, previously I believed “Mc” was Irish and “Mac” was Scottish and that was that.  Clearly things are much “Highland mistier.”

The Fabulous 90s: The Manhattan CC 1990 International

October 7, 2008

The Big 1990 Show at Carnegie Hall

The July, 1990 round-robin international at the Manhattan Chess Club (Carnegie Hall, 57th St and 7th Ave., NY NY) was very strong.  We had:

  • IM Alex Fishbein (Samford Award winner, who made a GM norm in this event)
  • GM Gregory Kaidanov
  • Future GM and well-known USSR Trainer Avigdor Bykhovsky.  Bykhovsky stayed with Joel and I and brought with him plenty of food supplies:  dozens of tins of USSR preserved meat that resembled deviled ham (I think).  All he needed to borrow was a can-opener and he was all set.
  • ex-WC Candidate GM Yefim Geller now in the twilight of his career (he passed away shortly after the event)
  • GM Bozidar Abramovich
  • IM (future-GM of course) Alex Sherzer, my guest for the event.  Alex stayed over at a gigantic 3-bedroom apartment real estate barons Joel Benjamin and me controlled on the Upper West Side.
  • IM Michael Brooks
  • IM Mark Ginsburg
  • GM Alex Wojtkiewicz
  • GM Alex Ivanov

It all started well for me in the first round.  Although I was working at a programming job for SIAC (yuck!!) in “Metrotech” (some called this place “MetroDreck”) Brooklyn, I seemed fresh enough here:

Mark Ginsburg – Alexander Fishbein (2470) MCC Int’l 1990 Round 1.

Dutch Defense, 4. Bf4 gambit line

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4 Just another weird anti-Dutch gambit, not allowing 4. f3? e5!.   For more gambits, see this post.


Position after 4. Bf4.  By transposition, the  Pöhlmann Defense of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

White plans to simply play f2-f3 and leave black with a sick pawn formation.

4…Nf6 5. Bc4 Very logical is 5. f3!? exf3 (5… e6 6. fxe4 fxe4 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6! 10. a3! and white has some compensation) 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Bg5 c6 9. Qd3 b5 10. Bb3 Na6 and now we follow a chaotic old James Tarjan game. (10… b4 11. Ne2 Qc7 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. O-O-O with compensation) 11. a3 Nc7 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 g5 14. Rae1? Unsound. 14. Bf2 is fine. 14… gxh4 15. Qxf5 Qe7 (15… Rg8 16. Nxh4 Be7 17. Qf2 Rg7) 16. Qg6+ Kd8 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nfd5 (18… Nd7 19. Ne4 (19.Rf7 Qg5 20. Qe4 Nd5) 19… Nd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Nxf8 23. Qxh6 Kc7 24. Nxb5+ Kb8 and white is a bit better) 19. Rf7? (19. Ne4! with a huge edge) 19… Qg5 20. Qd3 Rg8 21. Qf3 h3 (21… Nxc3 22. bxc3 (22. Qxc6 N3d5 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rf2 Nb6 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Bd7 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Qxa8+ Ke7) 22… Nd5 and black wins) 22. g3 Qd2 23. Re2 Qc1+ Now black should win. 24. Kf2 Qg5? (24… Bd7 wins) 25. Ne4! Qxe5 26. c3 Ne7? (26… Rg6 is fine for black) 27. Qd3+? (27. Nf6 is much better for white ) 27… Ncd5 28. Nf6 Qd6 29. Nxg8 Nxg8 30. Qh7 Nge7 31. Qxh6 Bd7?? A losing blunder. 31… Kc7 32. Qxh3 Kb8 33. Qh5 Nf5 34. Qh8 is equal. 32. Bxd5 Nxd5 33. Rf8+ Be8 34. Rxe8+ and it turns out white had the last laugh – 1-0 Tarjan,J-Gutierrez,J/Bogota 1979

5… e6 6. Nge2 Bd6 6… Nd5!? is interesting here. 7. O-O Be7 8. f3 Nxf4 9. Nxf4 is about equal.

7. O-O O-O Black can try to delay castling: 7… Nc6 8. Bxd6 cxd6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Bb3 exd5 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nef4 Bxd5 13. Nxd5 and white has some compensation.

8. f3 exf3 Playable is 8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.

9. Rxf3 Kh8 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Rd1 Re8 12. Bg5 Be7 Although it looks dangerous, 12…e5 was quite playable here.

13. Rh3 e5 14. Qe1!? At the time, I thought I was doing quite well with this ‘attacking retreat’. However, black does have a good move here, which Fishbein failed to find.


Position after 14. Qe1!? – not as great for me as I had thought.


This was the key moment. 14… Nxd4?? is very weak due to 15. Nxd4 Bc5 (15… exd4 16. Qh4 h6 17. Bxh6 Ng4 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qh7+ wins) 16. Qh4 Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Qd7 18. Nd5 and wins. The right move was 14… Ne4! 15. Nxe4 (15. Qh4? Nxg5 ) 15..fxe4 16. Bxe7 (16. Rxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qh4+ Kg6 does not work) Qxe7 and black stands better, having gotten out of the potentially annoying d-file attack by the white rook.

15. Qh4! White is much better now. Maybe black missed this simple move.

15…h6 16. dxe5 Bxg5? This is hopeless. 16… Bd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nf4 is terrible for black but still better than the text.

17. Rxd8 Bxd8 18. Qh5 Rf8 19. e6 Nce5 20. Nf4 From now on, there are numerous wins. White chose the primitive path of eating the most dangerous black pieces.

20…Kh7 21. Be2 Most effective is 21. Bd3! g5 22. Ncd5 Kg7 23. e7 Bxe7 24. Nxe7 gxf4 25. Nxf5+ Rxf5 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. Qxf5 Rf8 28. Qe4 and wins.

21… Be7 22. Ncd5 g6 23. Nxg6 Rather crude, but it works Black’s protection of h6 gets overloaded.


22… Bc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxe6 24… Nxg6 25. Bxg4 Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 fxg4 27. Qxg4 wins.

25. Nxe5 Rf6 No better is 25…Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Nxe3 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Qxe3 and wins.

26. N5xg4 fxg4 27. Qxc5 Raf8 28. Bd3+

Black resigned. He is down hopeless amounts of material. 1-0 To Fishbein’s credit, he did more than rebound from this first round defeat – he went on to get a GM norm!

In the middle rounds, I had “trouble” losing vastly superior games to Geller and Kaidanov and Avigdor Bykhovsky which I will come back to.  When in doubt, blame the payroll job.   The “Man” costs energy.

In the last round (round 9) this barn-burner occurred:

IM M. Ginsburg – GM A. Wojtkiewicz 2550 FIDE   MCC Int’l 1990, Round 9.  Saemisch Benoni

My first personal encounter with the humorous Alex who unfortunately passed away last year.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.f3 O-O 7.Bg5 e6 8.Qd2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 Igor Ivanov used to harshly criticize this move, saying the rook is much better placed on f8.

10.Nge2 Na6 11.Ng3 Nc7 12.Be2 a6 13.a4 Rb8 14.a5 Bd7 15.O-O Bb5 16.Na4 Bxe2 17.Nxe2 Nb5 18.Rac1

So far, both sides seem to be doing logical things. Now the game goes crazy.

Position after 18. Rac1.  Things get weird.


This move astounded me.  Black gambits king safety for initiative on a wing where there are no kings!

19.Bxh6 Bxh6 20.Qxh6 Qxa5 21.Nac3 Nxc3 22.Rxc3 Qb5 23.Ng3 Aren’t I checkmating this guy?

23…Nh7 24.f4 Qxb2

I really thought he had gone cuckoo for setting his king on fire in order to go after this b-pawn.  And maybe he had.  But I wasn’t up to the challenge (see note to white’s 27th).

25.Rfc1 Kh8 26.e5!

Obvious but nice. See prior comment.


Position after 26..Qd2!

Ingenious!  The lone queen to the rescue!  For some reason, I expected 26…dxe5 27. Ne4! Rg8 28. fxe5 and white wins easily.  Now I became disoriented.  To fight ingenious… one needs ingenious!


Wrongly forcing a draw.   The grotesque blunder 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Kh1?? loses, as 28…Qxe4 29. Rh3 g5! defends h7.  But white can torture some more with 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Nf2! Qd2 29. Ng4! Kg8 30. Ne3! with nasty ideas like 30…dxe5?? 31. Nf5! winning.  White keeps an edge.  This ingenious Ne4-f2-g4-e3 maneuver never occurred to me.  I didn’t have much time, but still this position is so “attractive” I should have worked harder to find something.

27…gxf5 28.Rh3 Qxc1+

With the grand fizzle – a perpetual check.

29.Kf2 Qd2+ 30.Kf1 Qd1+ 31.Kf2 Qd4+ 32.Kf1 Qc4+ 33.Kf2 Qc2+ 34.Kf1 Qd1+ 35.Kf2 Qd2+ 36.Kf1 1/2-1/2

It was a distinct relief to finally end this tournament.  Why?  When I fill in the report with the losses, you will understand. :)

And for Something Different

The Clock Punching Monkeys article in Chinese (translation requested by a curious Asian reader, I presume).  Click to enlarge.

Clock Punching Monkey Chinese Style

I just hope the Asian reader wasn’t trying to learn about monkeys and stumbled across this non sequitur.

The Fabulous 60s: Dr. Neil McKelvie on Arnold Denker

June 13, 2008

MG Note: This guest article by Dr. Neil McKelvie, long-time MCC official and Professor of Chemistry at CCNY, was originally a comment on my 1989 Manhattan Chess Club Championship post.

McKelvie-Denker : Lasker-esque Psychology

Here from memory – is a wild game by me vs. Arnold Denker, against whom I had a plus score of 3-2 (FURIOUSLY denied by Arnold, until I provided the details! He didn’t like to lose!)

Manhattan championship – year??
Neil McKelvie – Arnold Denker
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4.N:d4 a6 5. Nc3 Qc7
6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 MG Note: We now know 7. Nxc6!

7…Nf6 8. Qe2(?) Bd6 9. g3??!
This is a truly awful move – but played deliberately! Denker, as I knew from long experience, was prone to overconfidence, and this made him smile happily! (A real Patzer move!!) White’s white-sqiare weakness will be very bad. MG: This was a typical Emmanuel Lasker ploy! In this case, the move isn’t *that* bad.

Position after the “lemon” 9. g3 (It isn’t that bad)

9…N:d4 10.B:d4 e5 11.Be3 Bb4 12.O-O! B:c3 13 bc O-O? (…d6! and White has a miserable position)

14, Bg5 Qc6 15. f4 ef! 16. e5 f3!

Position after 16…f3!? Both sides are swinging for the fences.

Addendum by McKelvie 4/9/09:
“After Denker’s f3….I “should” have taken on f3 with my Queen! Then …Q:f3 is forced, I think; R:f3; if then …Ng4; Be7 Re8; Bd6 N:e5; Re3 f6; Bc4 Kh8; Bf7  wins the exchange, right? Other lines; White seems to have a “winning: game, with two B’s and a B position suffering from acute constipation!
Cheers – Neil McKelvie”

17 R:f3 Ng4
Thinking that the W e-pawn will be lost…..

18.Be7 Re8 19.Bd6
Denker intended 19…N:e5 20 B:e5 d6, but then looked, and saw 21. B:h7+
IF 21…K:h7 22, Qd3+ Kg8? 23. B:g7! K:g7 24. R:f7+! K:f7 and White wins in all variations. This would not work without Black’s 4…a6 and 14…..Qc6, because one variation is 24 Qh7+ Ke6 25.Re1+ Kd5 26. Qd3+ Kc5 27. Qd4+ Kb5 28. Qb4++
However; B should play 22…f5. 23. R+f5 can lead to a draw by perpetual check, but no more. I planned 23. Bd4. Denker thought this was bad for him, at least cosmetically, but his W. Bishop is equally frightening. Maybe both sides are losing! I haven’t had the nerve to give this position to a computer.

Denker played, after L O N G thought, 19……b5? (Why do so many long thinks lead to chessic mental paralysis and a blunder?)
20.Qe4! Q:e4 21.B:e4 Ra722.Bd5 Nh6 23.Raf1

Position after 23. Raf1.  Denker is Toast.

23…Re6 (threat was 24 R:f7!)
24.B:e6 de 25.c4 bc 26.Rc3 Bd7 27.Rb1 f5 28.Bb8 Ra8 29.R:c4 Nf7 30.Rb7 Nd8 31.R:d7 R:b8 32.Rcc7 Resigns 1-0

Denker, Club Member X, Organic Chemistry, and a Playboy Bunny

Finally, a very funny Manhattan Chess Club story, again involving Denker.

Year: 1966 or 1967? A young lady appeared in my Organic Chemistry lecture (”J.” ;) She had worked as a Bunny in the Playboy Club, and had adopted that style of dressing, minus the ears, for everyday use, It wasn’t exactly usual then to see a young blonde lady wearing a see-through blouse and no underwear, and very short shorts. Of course, *I* received full voltage! (She asked another girl, since this didn’t seem to work, “Is he Gay?” “No; he has a young and very pretty wife! You are wasting your time!)

So, she got friendly with one of my PhD students, who was doing the exam grading. She said to me, “David tells me you are a chess master”. “Yes.” “David has been teaching me to play” (??!!) “Can I see you play Chess?”

Inspiration! Denker had a keen appreciation of the ladies. “Can you come to the Manhattan Chess Club in the Henry Hudson Hotel this Sunday at 2 pm? I’m playing former US Champion Arnold Denker. However, please stand behind me when I’m playing so that I don’t get distracted!” “I can come, but I’ll be dressed for a date. Won’t this be too much for a Chess Club” (If they are playing Chess, they’ll never notice you!!”

Denker sat up in his chair and his eyes goggled. Shortly after, he made a mistake, and I was a pawn up with a good position. At this point Club Member X came in. He had listed his non-Chess occupation as “sex consultant” (I assume this could have meant “pimp” but I kept my
thoughts to myself… ;) He saw me talking to “J”. “Is she a friend of yours?” “Not exactly; she is a student in my class,” (Is it OK if I talk to her?” “None of my business, but she is with her date.”

10 minutes later… “J” was playing with her date, with our hero Club Member X practically draped over her. I was so fascinated by the human drama going on behind me that *I* blundered!!
Eventually Denker won.
Next day. “J”: “I don’t think I like Chess that much. Who was that creep?”

Next Sunday’s round, our hero “X” gave me his business card.
“Can you give this to that very lovely young lady? I think I could really teach her a lot!!”

Conticello on MCC

April 28, 2008

A Manhattan Chess Club Timeline [Abridged]

by Nicholas W. Conticello

Italicized Supplemental Notes by IM Mark Ginsburg

1901- Frank J. Marshall wins the first of three Manhattan Chess Club (MCC) titles.

1909- MCC organizes match between Marshall and young member Jose Raul Capablanca. The unknown Cuban demolishes the World Championship contender by +8-1=14 and goes on to become the third World Champion.

1915- Capablanca wins NY International ahead of Marshall.

1924- MCC board members arrange legendary New York international featuring most of the leading players of the era. Lasker takes first with 16-4 ahead of Capablanca, Alekhine, Marshall, Reti, etc. Capa’s loss to Reti in the fifth round is the Cuban’s first defeat in 8 years.

1927- MCC board sponsors a six-player event supposedly to select a challenger for Capablanca’s title. Capa wins without loss of a game, while Alekhine confirms his status as challenger with a convincing second. Alekhine’s ensuing victory in their match later in the year by +6-3=25 will shock the chess world and end MCC’s grip on the World Championship.

1936- MCC member Samuel Reshevsky wins first US Championship tournament of the 20th century.

1945- On Sept. 1 Club is site of American half of USA-USSR radio match. Soviets win by 11 points in 20 games and begin their 27 year grip (to the day!) on world chess.

1948- Members Reshevsky and Reuben Fine are invited to play in World Championship tournament to choose a successor to Alekhine. Fine, fearing Soviet collusion, cites his studies in psychology as his reason for not playing. Reshevsky plays anyway and finishes third.

1951- Reshevsky wins MCC’s Wertheim Memorial ahead of Max Euwe and Miguel Najdorf.

1952- Future GM and World Junior Champion William Lombardy joins the Club.

1955- Reshevsky wins the Rosenwald tournament (de facto US Championship) ahead of Arthur Bisguier and Larry M. Evans. 12-year-old Robert J. Fischer joins.

1956- Fischer is invited to the Rosenwald at age 13. He is beaten by eventual winner Reshevsky on time (his only known time forfeit) and runnerup Bisguier ( the latter’s only win against Fischer) but defeats Donald Byrne in what TD and Club Manager Hans Kmoch eulogizes as the “Game of the Century” and scores a respectable 4.5/11.

1957- In the space of one year, Donald Byrne wins the Western Open, Gisela Gresser wins the US Women’s title, Fischer wins the US Open and US Junior, Lombardy wins the World Junior Championship (11-0!), Arthur Bisguier wins the US Closed, and Samuel Reshevsky is crowned “Champion of the Western Hemisphere” by virtue of a match victory over Miguel Najdorf. The year will end with 14-year-old Bobby Fischer taking the first of a record 8 US Championships without the loss of a game.

1962- Larry Evans defeats William Lombardy for the Edgar Trophy.

1963- Fischer wins the US Championship for the sixth time with a perfect 11-0 score. The event is held at the Henry Hudson Hotel, which also was home for the Club.

1964- Benko defeats Bisguier in a match for an Interzonal spot vacated by Fischer, who declined his invitation to the Amsterdam event.

1971- The Club moves from the Henry Hudson to E. 60th St. just off Fifth Avenue. In August, the Club sponsors an invitational Master Rapids. Fischer swamps the field with 21.5-0.5 (the draw going to six-time Club Champion Walter Shipman.) This was the soon-to-be World Champion’s last appearance at the Club.

1973- The peak of the “Fischer Boom” sees the Club’s membership exceed 400.

1974- The “Boom” goes bust, and the Club must move again, to 155 E. 55 St. In February Viktor Korchnoi wins another special Master Rapids.

1976- The Club sponsors the first New York International since 1951. IM Norman Weinstein ties for first with recent emigre GM’s Anatoly Lein and Leonid Shamkovich. 12-year-old Joel Benjamin, making his international debut, wins a game from Canadian IM Bruce Amos.

1977- Anatoly Lein wins the Moses Mitchell Tournament of Champions ahead of Sal Matera, Bernard Zuckerman, and future Club President Neil McKelvie.

1978-14-year-old Joel Benjamin wins the first of six Club titles.

1984- The Club moves to the Carnegie Hall Studios, 155 W. 57 St, for the second time.

News flash 5/17/11 from Mark Pinto“Records are probably lost but I tied with [Walter] Shipman in 1984 and he was given the title on tiebreaks. [... ] Going from memory (not as reliable as it used to be) wins against Asa [Hoffmann] , Eric Cooke, drew with B[ernie] Zuckerman(a Nadjorf where I was white), drew with Shipman not sure who else I played. “

1988 – IM Mark Ginsburg (Yay!) wins the MCC Championship for the first time, with a field including MCC stalwarts Zuckerman and Shirazi. The 10th floor Carnegie Hall location features an 11th floor bathtub for the grimy combatant.

1989- Gata Kamsky’s American debut after defecting during the New York Open is the Club’s 4 Rated Games Tonight. Kamsky will play frequently at the Club over the next five years.

MG: I play Kamsky in an MCC quad. We have cordial post-game analysis until his father yanks him away mid-sentence, much like a bad vaudeville act gets the cane.

1989- The Club runs a Knockout Qualifier with sixteen of the country’s strongest players vying for the right to meet Kasparov in a two game 25 minute match at the New York Public Library. Gata Kamsky, a last minute substitute, wins the event ahead of many GM’s.

1990 – IM Mark Ginsburg (Yay!) wins the MCC Championship for the second time, granting a draw from a position of strength to FM Danny Shapiro in the last round. Leonid Bass and Mark are just in time to Maxim Dlugy’s wedding.

1991 – Despite having won the event two years previously, the gruff manager Russell Garber omits to invite MG to this year’s championship and MG misses it, not knowing its exact dates.

1992 – The Club and the American Chess Foundation purchase a building at 353 W. 46 St. in the hopes of providing the Club with a permanent home and enabling the Foundation to expand its activities. The site is called the American Chess Center.

1993- By June the Club is unable to maintain its share of the building and cedes its part ownership to ACF. Billy Colias is hired as manager in July, charged with running the Club and the ACF’s bookstore. he dies Nov. 4 from an accidental overdose of an over-the-counter-medication.

1994- Kamsky celebrates his match victory over Anand with a final appearance in the Thursday Night Action. He scores 4-0, defeating Lombardy and IM Danny Edelman en route.

1997- Jay Bonin becomes the first player to win the championships of the Marshall and Manhattan Clubs and the State of New York to become the only triple Crown winner in NY State history.

1999- Maurice Ashley gains his final GM norm in an International held at the Club, beconing the first African-American Grandmaster.

2000- The Club’s lease at 353 W. 46 St. expires. it moves to the New Yorker Hotel on May 1. A few weeks later GM Max Dlugy wins a Master Rapids event held concurrently with the New York Open to celebrate the Club’s reopening. In November Eric Cooke wins atwo-game blitz playoff from Asa Hoffmann to become the Club’s last champion in the 20th century.

2001 – MG visits the almost defunct club in this sad New Yorker Hotel (some non-descript room on a high floor) location.

2002- On Feb. 1, after two years of unstoppable decline, the Club closes its doors for the last time.

Copyright 2008 Nicholas W. Conticello. All rights reserved.

For Further Reading

More MCC trivia and amusement here.

Pathos from the Readers

This I heard on ICC 4/28/08:

jonesey tells you: watched my then 13 yr old son play in the last tourney at the manhattan while they were carrying stuff out. sad

The Fabulous 1980s: The 1989 Manhattan CC Championship

January 14, 2008

In 1989 I played in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship at Carnegie Hall on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Although I won the 1988 and 1990 events, this 1989 version really escapes my memory, even when I look at the game scores.

Reader query: I cannot locate a list of the champions by year! I could only locate this somewhat anemic “history” of the MCC. Does anyone have access to such a list? See the bottom of this post for my highly incomplete reconstruction. Has the venerable club really fallen into such depths of paucity? Note on February 14th: Nick Conticello has risen to the occasion and is locating this list of champs 1883-1997 (originally compiled by Walter Shipman) – see comments.

3/14/08: Here’s Nick’s PDF file converted to an image: (click several times on the image to enlarge). I would like to see LOCATIONS too! (The MCC moves around a lot). Probably the MCC had some more champs after 1997, readers? (This list was compiled in 1997, but I don’t think the club was totally defunct yet).


MCC Champs 1883-1997. List compiled by IM Walter Shipman. Source: Nick Conticello.

In the third round I played New York personality Charlie Weldon. Charlie unfortunately died in 1993 while traveling in Yugoslavia (I believe of acute appendicitis) and here is his Wikipedia entry. I actually learned of his death by reading a clipping in the Village Chess Shop in Greenwich Village, NYC.

Charles Weldon (born 1939 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – died of peritonitis in 1993 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia) was a chess master and professor of computer science at City University of New York.

Weldon was a three-time Wisconsin State Chess Champion, and swept all his games at the US Amateur Chess Championship. He is listed as a life member with the United States Chess Federation. He was known for playing the Schliemann Defense.

Now let’s see the game.

Charlie Weldon [2398] – IM Mark Ginsburg, Manhattan CC Champ. 1989, Round 3.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nbd7 7. Nc3 a6!? I like this move, the poor man’s Panno (since the N is on d7, not c6). 8. e4 c5 9. h3 None other than future-WC Anatoly Karpov suffered a famous reverse, losing to Andras Adorjan, with 9. Re1 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. h3 Bd7 12. Be3 Rc8 13. Rc1 Qa5 14. a3 Na4 15. b4 Nxc3 16. Rxc3 Qa4 17. Qb1 Rc7 18. Rec1 Rfc8 19. Qd3 Be8 20. Bf3 Nd7 21. Bd1 Ne5 22. Qf1 Qd7 23. c5 b5 24. Bb3 dxc5 25. Rxc5 Rxc5 26. bxc5 Nc4 27. Bxc4 Bxd4 28. Rd1 e5 29. Bxd4 exd4 30. Bd5 Rxc5 31. Rxd4 Qc8 32. h4 Rc2 33. e5 Qc3 34. Rd3 Qxe5 35. Qg2 Kg7 36. Qf3 Qe1+ 37. Kg2 Rc1 38. g4 Qh1+ 39. Kg3 Rg1+ 40. Kf4 Qh2+ 41. Ke4 Qxh4 and white gave up, 0-1 Karpov,A-Adorjan,A/Hungary 1969. See the book “Black is OK!” by Adorjan for more details on that game. Also 9. e5 dxe5 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. e6 fxe6 12. Qe2 Nde5 gives a tiny edge at best.

9… cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. Be3 Bd7 12. Qe2 Black is fine after 12. b4?! Ne6.

12…Rc8 Playable here is 12… Na4 13. Nxa4 Bxa4 14. Rac1 Rc8 15. b4 Bd7 and black went on to win a long maneuvering game, Cacho Reigadas,S (2200)-Garcia,A (2335)/Lleida 1991.

13. Rfd1 (0:23)


Position after 13. Rfd1: Black is OK!

13…Qa5?! The moves 13…h5 or 13…Qc7 are both more logical. The white move b2-b4 is not especially fearsome and does not have to be prevented. For example, 13…h5 14. b4 Na4! 15. Nxa4 Bxa4 or 13…Qc7 14. Rac1 Rfe8 15. b4 Na4 in both cases with a complicated game.

14. Rab1?! White had the strong 14. Nb3! here with a distinct edge.

14…Na4 (0:21) 15. Nxa4 Bxa4 16. b3 Bd7 17. a4 Rfd8 18. Qd2 Qc7 19. a5 Be8 20. Ne2 Qb8 21. Bb6 Rd7 22. f3 22. Nc3 is more natural.

22…e6 23. f4 (0:44) d5? (1:10) I don’t know what I was thinking, but this move simply does not work. I should just wait.

24. cxd5 exd5 25. e5? Why this? Although white keeps a small edge, he should grab the free pawn: 25. exd5 Bf8 26. Rbc1 and black has no compensation.

25… Ne4 (1:11) 26. Qe3 The strongest is 26. Qb2.

26… f5 27. exf6?! Another miscue. White should play 27. Rd3 Bf7 28. Nc3 Be6 29. Rbd1 and this is good for him.

27… Bxf6 28. Bd4 [0:48] Qd6 29. Rbc1 White can play for equality here with 29. Bxe4 dxe4 30. Kh2 Rf7 31. Nc3 Bxd4 32. Rxd4.

29… Rxc1 30. Rxc1 Re7 (1:31) 31. Bxf6 Qxf6


Position after 31…Qxf6: Tense Equilibrium

32. Qb6?? Charlie, rushing for no reason (only 60 minutes elapsed in a 40/2 game) blunders badly. The not very obvious 32. Nc3! Bc6 33. Nxe4 dxe4 34. Rd1 Kg7 is about equal. He should have taken time here and found that clever defense. 32. Bxe4 Rxe4 33. Qd2 is another “OK” line for white but it looks risky to give up the fianchettoed bishop.

32… Qb2! [1:48] White cannot handle this infiltration. Black wins in all lines.

33. Bf3 (1:05) The alternative 33. Qe3 is slightly tougher, but after 33…Bc6 34. Rf1 Qd2! 35. Rf3 Qxa5 black wins.

33… Nxg3! A standard overloading tactic. 34. Bxd5+ Kf8 35. Nxg3 Qxc1+ 36. Kg2 Qd2+ 0-1

My results so far:

Round 1- 1/2 pt. bye

Round 2 1-0 Larry Tamarkin

Round 3 1-0 Charlie Weldon

Round 4 1/2 B. Zuckerman

Now I will present

Round 5 (1/2 vs. Michael Rohde) and Round 6 (1-0 vs James Schuyler).

Author’s note 3/15/08: According the Nick Conticello’s champion list (see above), Michael Rohde won the 1989 event!

Round 5, MCC Ch. M. Ginsburg – GM M. Rohde (2540).

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 Be6 7. d3 c6 8. a3 Ba5 9. O-O h6 10. b4 Bb6 11. Bb2 Qd7 12. Rc1 Bh3 13. Na4 Bd8


Position after 13…Bd8: I have nothing and quickly get less.

14. Qd2 a5 15. c5 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 axb4 17. Qxb4 b5 18. Nb6 Bxb6 19. cxb6 c5 My play has made very little sense and black logically builds up a big positional edge. 20. Qb3 Qc6 21. f4 Nbd7 22. fxe5 dxe5 23. Nc3 Ra5 24. Nd1 Qxb6 25. Ne3 Qe6 26. Qc2 Ra4 27. Nf5 c4 28. dxc4 Rxc4 29. Qd3


Position after 29. Qd3: I am toast.

29…Nc5 Here, 29… Rfc8 is crushing. From here on out, black (perhaps out of tiredness) misses a bunch of wins and finally white manages to hold a rook ending.

30. Qd6 Rxc1 31. Rxc1 Nfxe4 32. Ne7+ Kh7 33. Qxe6 fxe6 34. Rc2 Nd3 35. Re2 Ng5 Here, a nice win is 35… Rf2+ 36. Rxf2 Nexf2 37. Bxe5 Nxe5 38. Kxf2 Nc4 39. Ke2 Nxa3 40. Kd3 Nc4 41. Kc3 Ne3 42. Kb4 Nf1 and white can resign.

36. h4 Nf3 37. Bc3 Nd4 38. Re3 Rf7 The clever tactic 38… Rf2+! 39. Kh3 Ne2! sets up a mate threat and wins: 40. Rxd3 h5 41. Rd1 Nxc3 42. Ra1 e4 and it’s all over.

39. Rxd3 Rxe7 40. h5 Rc7 It’s getting harder, but 40…Rd7 41. Re3 Rd5 42. Kf2 Nc2 43. Rxe5 Rxe5 44. Bxe5 Nxa3 45. Bc3 Nc4 seems to do the trick; black should win.

41. Bxd4 Rd7 42. Rb3 exd4 43. Rxb5 Kg8 The long variation 43… d3 44. Rb1 Rd5 45. Rd1 Rxh5 46. Rxd3 Ra5 47. Re3 e5 48. a4 Kg6 49. Re4 h5 50. Rc4 Kf5 should win.

44. Kf2 Kf7 45. a4 Rc7 Unless I am missing something in this long variation, 45… Kf6 46. a5 e5 47. a6 Ra7 48. Rb6+ Kf5 49. Rd6 Ke4 50. Ke2 Rc7 51. Kd2 Rf7 52. Ke2 Rf3 will win.

46. Kf3 Rc3+ 47. Ke4 d3 48. Ke3 Now it’s just a draw – a quite lucky escape.

47… Ra3 49. a5 g6 50. hxg6+ Kxg6 51. Re5 Kf6 52. Rh5 Kg6 53. Re5 Kf7 54. Rh5 Kg7 55. Re5 Kf7 1/2-1/2

Round 6.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM James Schuyler (2300). Nimzovich Defense

A historical curiosity: James’s last name used to be Levine, he changed it a little bit previous to this event.

1. d4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d6 3. e4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Bg4 5. Bb5 a6 6. Bxc6+ bxc6 7. h3 Bh5 8. Bg5


Position after 8. Bg5. A Theoretical Position in the Nimzovich Defense.

8…Rb8(!) Rather inferior is 8… Qb8?! 9. Qd3! Bxf3 (Black cannot grab 9… Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. O-O e6 12. Rb7 Rc8 13. Qc4 Kd7 14. Na4! and wins) 10. Qxf3 e6 11. O-O Nd7 12. b3 h6 13. Bh4 Qb4 14. Rad1 Qa5 15. Rfe1 and white was much better and went on to win, 1-0, Yuri Balashov – J. Orzechowski, Wisla 1992.

9. Qe2?! Qc8? Black actually could have eaten on b2 here with the rook with unclear chances.

10. O-O-O e6 11. d5 Qb7 12. b3 Be7 13. g4! Bg6 14. dxe6 fxe6 15. e5! White just has a big edge now.


Position after 15. e5! – Smooth Sailing for White now.

15…dxe5 16. Nxe5 O-O 17. Nxg6 Ba3+ 18. Kb1 hxg6 19. Qxe6+ Kh7 20. Qc4 Qb4 21. Qxb4 Bxb4 22. Bxf6 Rxf6 23. Ne4 Rf4 24. Rd4 Kh6 25. Rg1 Be7 26. c3 c5 27. Rc4 Bh4 28. g5+ Bxg5 29. Rxg5 Rxe4 30. Rgxc5 This ending is hopeless, black could have resigned. 30…Rxc4 31. Rxc4 g5 32. Rxc7 Rf8 33. Rc6+ Kh5 34. Rxa6 Rxf2 35. c4 Kh4 36. Rg6 Rf5 37. Rxg7 Kxh3 38. Kb2 g4 39. b4 g3 40. c5 g2 41. c6 Rf2+ 42. Kb3 and black gave up. 1-0.

Postscript: on January 23, 2008, Larry Tamarkin sent me another game I had played in this event. My knights dance well in this game.

M. Ginsburg – NM L. Tamarkin MCC (Ch.) 1989, Queen’s Indian. Round 2.

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bf4 Bb4+ 5. Nbd2 Nf6 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd3 Re8 8. O-O Bf8?! 9. Qc2 d6 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh7+ Kh8 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Be4 c6 14. Qa4 Qe7 15. Rad1 f5 16. Bb1 g5 17. c5!


17. c5! – the knights need squares.

17…dxc5 18. Ne5 Qf6 19. f4 g4 20. Kh1 cxd4 21. exd4 Rd8 22. Rfe1 Bd6 23. Qb3 Na6 24. Ndc4 Bf8 25. Na5 Bc8 26. Naxc6 Rd5 27. Bd3 Nc7 28. Rc1 Rd6 29. Nd8! Converging on f7 with both knights.


Position after 29. Nd8! – Nimble knights.

29…Nd5 30. Nef7+ Kg7 31. Nxd6 Bxd6 32. Nxe6+! The knights really rampaged in this game. Now it’s just a material capturing bloodbath.

32…Bxe6 33. Bc4 Bxf4 34. Bxd5 Bxc1 35. Rxe6 Qf8 36. Bxa8 1-0

So I finished the event with 4.5/6. I must confess I have no memory of *any* of these games. And I don’t know who won the 1989 event, because I can’t find any club history pages!

Just for fun, I insert here a scanned image of a 1988 MCC bulletin, edited by stalwart Steve Immitt using what appears to be an old-fashioned typewriter. Maybe you can read it (click to enlarge) well enough to play over an entertaining game between NM Ernest Colding and Michael Rohde, with notes by peripatetic NM Larry Tamarkin.


An MCC ’88 Bulletin: The Good Old Days of Carnegie Hall!

Help Needed – Fill in the History!

Over the years, the Manhattan CC saw many famous players. Bobby Fischer, Robert Byrne, Pal Benko, Bernard Zuckerman, Joel Benjamin, Kamran Shirazi, and many, many others. Does anyone have a list of the champions? I know the club opened in 1877 and closed in 2002 (there was no Championship in 2002; I don’t know if there was one in 2001 or 2000). Below I list the years, the champion’s name (if known), and the club location in that year. Can someone fill in the extensive gaps? Thanks in advance.

Year   Champion  Club Location   

1949	Arthur Bisguier	100 Central Park South
1982                                 155 E 55th
1983                                 155 E 55th
1984                                  ** moved to 57th and 7th, 10th floor, from 155 E 55th **
1988	Mark Ginsburg	57th and 7th Ave., Carnegie Hall, 10th floor
1990	Mark Ginsburg	57th and 7th Ave., Carnegie Hall, 10th floor
1998  Joel Benjamin
1999  Joel Benjamin
2000  Eric Cooke
"2001 is a bit unclear in my memory. I know Leonid Yudasin beat Benjamin in a
two-game blitz playoff for some kind of trophy, but I can't say for sure Yudasin
was a member. However, consider the following points: 1) Manhattan CC record-keeping                                          was so sloppy that Yudasin may indeed have been a member by the then
prevailing standard of filling out an application (for a GM.)
2) The event crosstable shows Yudasin in first place.
3) I addressed Joel as a "six-time Manhattan CC Champion" at the Bruce Bowyer memorial
yesterday and he did not correct me.
A possible countervailing point is my January 2003 Chess Life piece,
which i can't find, and in which I may (possibly) have called Joel a seven-time champion.
So at this moment I am not quite sure." - Nick Conticello.

Postscript – The MCC Before Carnegie Hall

Larry Tamarkin told me (1/29/08) that the MCC was located on 55th street, on the East Side, and moved to Carnegie Hall around 1986. [?] Update February 2008: Randy Gunolo sends this comment in: “The Manhattan moved to Carnegie Hall in early 1984. Before that, it was at 155 E 55th, where Xaviera Hollander had had her offices in her glory days. I’m not sure if their paths briefly crossed or they just missed each other.” Author’s note: Dutch import Xaviera Hollander is the author of a best-selling book, The Happy Hooker.

Postscript 2: Bridge and Games East, aka ‘Sleaze East’

Larry Tamarkin also reminded me about Sleaze East (not the club’s real name). The club’s real name was “Bridge and Games East” – see comments section. This East Side gambling establishment featured Dzindzi playing long backgammon matches. It shut in the mid-80s, possibly 1985 (or a little later), when a disgruntled gambler fired a gun in the club. The police had to dig the bullet out with a tool. Larry was there and “he grapped me by the scruff of my neck and said that I didn’t seem to understand him when he was ‘telling’ everyone else to get out…”.

(Larry didn’t “understand” he wanted everyone to clear out when he fired the gun).

“He was mad at me cause i didn’t move out like everyone else when his gun was being fired…I was so in my little world i didn’t even know what was happening….I think he calmed down when he realized i wasn’t intentionally trying to ‘diss him’…he let me go and Steve Immitt later said I was lucky he didn’t shoot me!”

After this bullet episode, the club shut. Larry thinks it was on 57th and 2nd or 3rd avenue. The commentor, Mr. Randy Gunolo, opines it was on E 56th street. I will need help from the readers as to this club’s real name and more exact location and year of closing.

‘Crazy Joe’ and the 38-special at Sleaze East

This just in from Steve Immitt on the famous gun incident at Sleaze East: ” “Crazy Joe” let loose a couple of rounds from his .38, while you [Larry Tamarkin - ed.] and Larry Sanchez were busy playing speed chess and everyone else hit the deck.” I had visited Sleaze East a couple of times, and saw Dzindzi in a very long backgammon tussle. Rebekah Greenwald asked Roman in Russian, “kak tebya nravitsia eto…. Sleaze East”? (translated to “How do you like this…. Sleaze East?”). Roman stared at her and did not reply.

For Further Reading

Visit this other blog entry [4/28/08] for Nick Conticello presenting an abridged MCC timeline.

The Fabulous 80s and 90s: Encounters with Jay Bonin

January 10, 2008

Jay Bonin has been an active player his entire career. It follows that when I was active in the same area (NY, the 1980s) we would play a lot. Here are some of the amusing games.

In a separate installment I will show a “flock of Walter Shipman games” in the same vein.

The very first game is from the October Open, New York City, 1982, featuring a little-known sideline in the Maroczy Bind.  I attach Jay’s rating at the time.

IM Mark Ginsburg – Jay Bonin (2364 USCF)   10/10/82  October Open, Round 2.

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 g6 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Be2 Nc6 8. Be3 O-O 9. Rc1 Ng4!  A perfectly good move although little seen.  Black is about equal after this move.


Position after the clever 9…Ng4! 

10. Bxg4 Bxd4!  Forced. I can’t find this position in Chessbase.  Is 10….Bxd4 really a novelty?  Somehow I don’t think so.  Previously seen was the obviously losing 10… Bxg4?? 11. Nxc6 Bxd1 12. Nxd8 Bh5 13. Nxb7 Rfb8 14. Na5 and white won shortly,  Loehr,H-Kirchhoff,H/Weilburg 1997.  Did black maybe miscount the pieces in this capture sequence?   After Jay’s move I don’t see any clear way for white to claim an edge.

11. Bxd4 Bxg4 12. f3 Nxd4 13.  Qxd4 Be6 14. O-O Qa5  Not so good is 14… Qb6?! 15. Qxb6 axb6 16. b3 Ra3 17. Rc2 Kg7 18. Nb5 Ra5 19. a4! Bd7 20. Nc3 Be6 21. Re1 and white has a nagging edge.

15. b3 Rfc8?!  I would rather use the other rook: 15… Rac8 16. Kh1 a6 17. f4 Rc5! 18. Rf3 f6 19. Rg3 Kh8 20. Qe3 Qa3 with unclear play.  But given the improvement suggested on black’s 16th move, maybe this rook choice isn’t bad after all.

16. Kh1 b5?!  Jay is impatient and undertakes something he isn’t ready for. White is better after 16… Qc5 17. Qd3 Rc7 18. f4 f5 19. exf5 Qxf5 20. Qe3 a6 21. Rcd1 Rac8 22. Rfe1 Bf7.  But a possible improvement here is 16… Rc5! 17. f4 Rh5! keeping the rook useful.  Then, 18. Rfe1 Rc8 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. exd5 Rc7 21. a4 b6 22. g3 Qc5 is OK for black.

 17. cxb5 Rc7 18. Nd5! Bxd5 19. Rxc7 Qxc7 20. Qxd5 Rc8 21. h3 Qc2 22. a4 Qb2 23. Rg1!  The key move of the game and not so easy to find.  White safeguards everything before proceeding.


Position after 23. Rg1!  This peculiar move was the best one available. 

23…Qf2?  Another blunder puts black in a lost game. 23… Qc3 24. Qb7 Rc7 waiting was necessary to see how white will make progress.

24. Qb7 Rc3 25. Qxe7 Rxf3?  This hastens the end.  Black needed 25… Qd4 to see if white would find the instructive winning line with an excelsior theme:  26. f4! Rxb3 27. f5! Re3 28. f6! establishing a winning bind: 28…Qxe4 29. Qd8+ Qe8 30. Qxe8+ Rxe8 31. Rc1 and wins.  White had other ways, too, but this line is elegant and by far the fastest.

26. gxf3 Qxf3+ There won’t be a perpetual today, but this needed to be verified before white made his 26th move.

27. Kh2 Qf4+ 28. Rg3 Qf2+ 29. Rg2 Qf4+ 30. Kg1 Qc1+ 31. Kf2 Qc5+ 32. Kf3 Qc3+ 33. Kg4  There are some king marches that are scary.  This is not one of them.

33…h5+  34. Kh4 Qe1+ 35. Rg3 d5 36. Qe8+ Kg7 37. Qe5+ f6 38. Qe7+ 1-0

Now we jump to the Manhattan CC “4 Rated Games tonight”, May 1989. I would be willing to guess Steve Immitt directed it and that Larry Tamarkin was lurking around somewhere in the club. Note Jay’s high USCF rating at the time. The game also illustrates one of Jay’s characteristics: the occasional stumble into a big tactical hole. The final diagram with all the hanging pieces is both confusing and typical for a random action game.

Jay Bonin (2537) – Mark Ginsburg “4 Rated Games Tonight”, Manhattan CC, NY, 1989. Polish Defense

1. d4 b5? Why?

2. e4 a6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 e6 5. O-O Nf6 6. Re1 Be7 7. Nbd2 c5 8. e5 Nd5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Ne4 Black has a terrible game. I don’t think I ever played this again. Well, I did play 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5!? and drew vs Shabalov, Reno, 1992, but that seems to be taking less liberties.


10…Qb6 This grotesque concession is no worse than any other pathetic continuation.

11. Nxc5 Qxc5 12. Ng5! f5 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. Ne4 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Bxe4 16. Rxe4 Nc6?! 16…O-O 17. Rf4! is not a lot of fun but it’s somewhat better than the text.

17. Be3 Qf5 18. Rf4 Qe5 19. c3 White maintains a huge bind.

19…Rd8 20. a4 Rf8 What else? But there’s a tactical problem that white immediately exploits.

21. Rxf8+ Kxf8 22. Bb6 Rb8 23. Qxd7! Ut-oh. If 23…Rxb6, 24. a5 wins easily. Black is dead.

24…Qd5 24. Qc7 Kg8 25. Bd4 e5 26. Bxe5 Qxe5 27. Qxc6 bxa4 28. Qc4+ Kh8 29. Qxa6 h6 30. Rxa4 Rxb2 31. Ra1 Qxc3(?) Black was lost anyway and chooses to walk into mate in this action game. A purist, of course, should award this grab a question mark.


Position after 31…Qxc3: White to play and win.

32. Qa8+ Kh7 33. Qe4+ Kg8 34. Ra8+ Kf7 35. Qe8+ Kf6 36. Ra6+ Kf5 And of course, at this point, it is mate in 6. 37. Qe6+ Kf4 38. Ra4+?! The easiest is 38. g3+ and mates shortly.

38…Rb4 39. Qe3+?? The right choice is 39. Qd6+ Kf5 40. Ra5+! Kg4 41. Qg6+ Kh4 42. Rh5 mate. The text which at first glance looks like it wins a rook and ends the game instead allows an incredible saving resource for black – is this “luck in chess” or it just a very rare situation?


39… Kf5!! Quite a trick to pull off in an action game! Everything hangs and white can’t take anything due to the bank rank problem. It can’t be called a swindle because I didn’t do anything. It was all white’s construction. Note here that 40. g4+ is met by 40…Rxg4 CHECK and again, black escapes.

The game concluded limply with 40. Ra5+ Kg6 41. Qe6+ Qf6 42. Qxf6+ Kxf6

and agreed drawn a few moves later. Whew! Of course, in the prior game, I had been tortured also playing black versus Gata Kamsky (not that this matters).



The next game is short, but has interesting points.

Jay Bonin -M. Ginsburg, New York 1990

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 d6 8.Nf1!? d5 Black used 8…e5!? to good effect in Christiansen-Adams, Biel 1991 that continued 9. Ne3 O-O 10. O-O a5 with equal chances, and Adams went on to win a sharp game in 48 moves. Of course 8…O-O is playable too.

9.Rc1 9. N1d2!? Ne4 10. O-O Nxd2 11. Qxd2 led to a small white edge; in Arencibia-Panchenko, Terrassa 1998, white won in 66 moves.

9…O-O The immediate 9…Qb4+ is fine too.

10.Ne3 Again, 10. N1d2 is playable. Black can try 10…a5!? or 10…Rd8 11. O-O Bd7 12. e3 Be8 that looks passive; white won in 42 moves in Matamoros-Hoffman, Elgoibar 1996.

10…Qb4+ 11.Qd2 Qxd2+ Here, 11…a5 is stronger practically to keep life in the position. Then, 12. a3 Qxd2+ 13. Kxd2 Re8 14. Kd3 is possible but double-edged.

12.Kxd2 Ne4+ 13.Ke1 Rd8 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Nd2 Nf6 16.Nf3 Ne4 17.Nd2 Nf6
18.Nf3 1/2-1/2

The Fabulous 90s: Adventures versus the Dutch Defense

September 13, 2007

For some reason, in the 1990s I was very interested in fighting the Dutch with unconventional weapons. Although this was, strictly speaking, completely unnecessary I present for your entertainment some of my jousts.  I have now come to the conclusion that tried and true lines give white some edge vs Stonewall and Leningrad setups.

The first was from a New England Swiss. My opponent, Jack Young, deserves credit for co-creation of this bizarre king hunt.

IM Ginsburg – NM Jack Young, New England 199?

Dutch Defense, Sjödin Gambit
1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. e4 fxe4 4. Ng5!?

The strange Sjödin Gambit (so named, as explained to me by GM Ferdinand Hellers, after a Swedish amateur player). Sjödin is a tough word to pronounce! It’s something like “Shuhhh-DEEN.” Joel Benjamin tried this move versus a Russian 2400+ and was successful, although his game was not without chances for black.

4…Nf6 5. f3


5…exf3 Black must seriously consider 5…h6 6. Nh3, one of the main alternatives to drive the menacing WN offside. In addition, I think Joel’s opponent played 5…c5!? to challenge the dark squares and got a good game; the trick is 6. fxe4 cxd4 7. e5?? Qa5+! picking up the e5-pawn.

6. Qxf3 Nc6 7. Bd3?

7. c3 was circumspect. The wild text move is unsound. But if it had not been played, we wouldn’t have the following (possibly unique? – see below) crazy game. Them’s the breaks.

7…Nxd4 Of course. If your opponent hangs center pawns, take them.

8. Qh3 d5! Refuting white’s coffeehouse antics.

9. Nxh7 Nxh7 10. Bxh7 Nxc2+ 11. Ke2 Kd7!


Very convincing. White has very few resources left.

12. Rf1 Nxa1 13. Rf7+ Kc6?! A fairly easy win is 13…Be7 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Qc3 b6 and white runs out of steam. Black is still winning after the text, but he’ll need to find a tough move shortly.

14. Qc3+ Kb6 15. Be3+ c5 16. b4 At least white is making a little trouble now. The game is starting to take on very strange overtones. Watch the black king double back now and head into the center!



Finally black goes wrong. The difficult deflection, using a ‘doomed piece’, 16…Nb3!! still wins. For example, 17. axb3 d4! and white doesn’t have the b2 queen check as in the game. Or, 17. Qxb3 Bd7 18. bxc5++ Kc7 and black wins as well.

17. bxc5+ Bxc5 18. Qb2+ Kc6 19. Nc3? Too fancy, I was carried away. Correct is 19. Be4+! Kd6 20. Bxd4 and white wins.

19…Qb6? 19…dxc3 loses simply to 20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Bxc5+ Kxc5 22. Qxc3+ Kb6 23. Qb4+ Ka6 24. Rxb7 and mates. Black needed to play 19…a6! to take b5 away from white. For example, 20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Bf4+ e5 and there’s nothing more white can do. Now white is back on track again.

20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Nb5+ Ke5 22. Bf3!


Black’s king finds himself in a really bizarre mating net. His attempts to avoid it just lead the game into more and more surrealistic situations without changing the verdict: black’s king is trapped and cannot wriggle free. Enjoy this sideline: 22. Kd3! Rh4 23. Bf2 Rf4 24. Bg3 g5 25. Bxf4+ gxf4 26. Bc6!! (protecting the N on b5 temporarily is an important point)


Position after 26. Bc6!! (Analysis)

26…Qxc6 27. Qe2+ Kd5 28. Qe4 mate!

Or this, even more amusing: 22. Kd3! Rh4 23. Bf2 Rxe4 24. Kc4!!! and mate is forced in 10 moves! It’s really strange to have both kings participating in the center in the middlegame, with one king sealing the mating net on the other. Perhaps it’s unique in the history of chess!?? (readers??) Can you imagine this game played in the 19th century and some bearded fellow such as Steinitz announcing Mate in 10 in a grovelly voice?


Position after 24. Kc4!!! (Analysis) – Unique Tableau?

Here’s one of the shorter mates from this position: 24…g5 25. Bg3+ Rf4 26. Qe2 mate.

22…Rh4 23. g4! Caveman chess, brutally effective. White doesn’t need his queen anymore.

23…g5 24. Bxg5 Rxh2+ 25. Kd1 Rxb2 26. Bf4 mate

Not quite a pure mate; the N on b5 is not needed (guarding d6 twice).


It’s always nice to end a game with a queen sacrifice. This game was really way out there in deep orbit. It doesn’t stand up to serious analysis, but it did produce some unique situations.


The second took place at the Manhattan CC FIDE International Round-Robin, in the very first round of a Category X event. It should be noted that Mr. Fishbein overcame this reverse to score a GM norm! Veteran GM Yefim Geller played as well, along with Wojtkiewicz, Kaidonov, Bykhovsky, Sherzer, and others.

Mark Ginsburg – Alexander Fishbein (2470) MCC Int’l 2000.

Dutch Defense, 4. Bf4 gambit line

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4 Sort of a cousin to the Sjodin.



White plans to simply play f2-f3 and leave black with a sick pawn formation.

4…Nf6 5. Bc4 Quite possible is 5. f3 exf3 (5… e6 6. fxe4 fxe4 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6! 10. a3! and white has some compensation) 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Bg5 c6 9. Qd3 b5 10. Bb3 Na6 and now we follow a chaotic old James Tarjan game. (10… b4 11. Ne2 Qc7 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. O-O-O with compensation) 11. a3 Nc7 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 g5 14. Rae1? Unsound. 14. Bf2 is fine. 14… gxh4 15. Qxf5 Qe7 (15… Rg8 16. Nxh4 Be7 17. Qf2 Rg7) 16. Qg6+ Kd8 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nfd5 (18… Nd7 19. Ne4 (19.Rf7 Qg5 20. Qe4 Nd5) 19… Nd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Nxf8 23. Qxh6 Kc7 24. Nxb5+ Kb8 and white is a bit better) 19. Rf7? (19. Ne4! with a huge edge) 19… Qg5 20. Qd3 Rg8 21. Qf3 h3 (21… Nxc3 22. bxc3 (22. Qxc6 N3d5 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rf2 Nb6 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Bd7 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Qxa8+ Ke7) 22… Nd5 and black wins) 22. g3 Qd2 23. Re2 Qc1+ Now black should win. 24. Kf2 Qg5? (24… Bd7 wins) 25. Ne4! Qxe5 26. c3 Ne7? (26… Rg6 is fine for black) 27. Qd3+? (27. Nf6 is much better for white ) 27… Ncd5 28. Nf6 Qd6 29. Nxg8 Nxg8 30. Qh7 Nge7 31. Qxh6 Bd7?? A losing blunder. 31… Kc7 32. Qxh3 Kb8 33. Qh5 Nf5 34. Qh8 is equal. 32. Bxd5 Nxd5 33. Rf8+ Be8 34. Rxe8+ and it turns out white had the last laugh – 1-0 Tarjan,J-Gutierrez,J/Bogota 1979

5… e6 6. Nge2 Bd6 6… Nd5!? is interesting here. 7. O-O Be7 8. f3 Nxf4 9. Nxf4 is about equal.

7. O-O O-O Black can try to delay castling: 7… Nc6 8. Bxd6 cxd6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Bb3 exd5 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nef4 Bxd5 13. Nxd5 and white has some compensation.

8. f3 exf3 Playable is 8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.

9. Rxf3 Kh8 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Rd1 Re8 12. Bg5 Be7 Although it looks dangerous, 12…e5 was quite playable here.

13. Rh3 e5 14. Qe1!? At the time, I thought I was doing quite well with this ‘attacking retreat’. However, black does have a good move here, which Fishbein failed to find.



This was the key moment. 14… Nxd4?? is very weak due to 15. Nxd4 Bc5 (15… exd4 16. Qh4 h6 17. Bxh6 Ng4 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qh7+ wins) 16. Qh4 Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Qd7 18. Nd5 and wins. The right move was 14… Ne4! 15. Nxe4 (15. Qh4? Nxg5 ) 15..fxe4 16. Bxe7 (16. Rxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qh4+ Kg6 does not work) Qxe7 and black stands better, having gotten out of the potentially annoying d-file attack by the white rook.

15. Qh4! White is much better now. Maybe black missed this simple move.

15…h6 16. dxe5 Bxg5? This is hopeless. 16… Bd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nf4 is terrible for black but still better than the text.

17. Rxd8 Bxd8 18. Qh5 Rf8 19. e6 Nce5 20. Nf4 From now on, there are numerous wins. White chose the primitive path of eating the most dangerous black pieces.

20…Kh7 21. Be2 Most effective is 21. Bd3! g5 22. Ncd5 Kg7 23. e7 Bxe7 24. Nxe7 gxf4 25. Nxf5+ Rxf5 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. Qxf5 Rf8 28. Qe4 and wins.

21… Be7 22. Ncd5 g6 23. Nxg6 Rather crude, but it works Black’s protection of h6 gets overloaded.


22… Bc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxe6 24… Nxg6 25. Bxg4 Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 fxg4 27. Qxg4 wins.

25. Nxe5 Rf6 No better is 25…Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Nxe3 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Qxe3 and wins.

26. N5xg4 fxg4 27. Qxc5 Raf8 28. Bd3+

Black resigned. He is down hopeless amounts of material. 1-0

The crazy Dutch gambits didn’t always work out. Here’s a game from 1999 where I committed some miscues and went down in flames. Although, it must be admitted, I had my chances so we can’t dismiss the gambit line.

IM Ginsburg – IM Guillermo Rey

Arthur Dake International San Francisco 8/1999

Dutch Defense, Cousin of Sjodin Gambit

1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Bf4 Second time lucky?

4…Nf6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nge2 Bd6 Rey passes up on 6…Nd5 just as Fishbein did.

7.0-0 0-0 8.f3 Nc6!

The knight definitely belongs here to eye the center. Remember Fishbein played 8….exf3 here. I wrote above that “8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.”

9.fxe4 fxe4 But Rey takes back with the pawn!

10.a3 Kh8 11.Ba2?

A weak move. 11. Bg5 is correct with decent compensation. For example, 11. Bg5 Be7 12. Qd2. White will be able to bypass ….e6-e5 with the response d4-d5.

11…e5! Of course. Black eliminates a weakness.

12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Qe1?! 13. Qd4 is better.

13…Bd7 14.Bg5? 14. Kh1 or 14. Rd1 are better.

14…Neg4! 15.Nf4? White must “not have shown up that day.” This move simply loses. 15. h3 is correct.

15…Qe8 16.Qh4 Ne3?!

16…h6! is very strong here. White loses in all lines.

17.Nfd5 Nfxd5 18.Rxf8+ Bxf8 19.Nxd5 Nxd5 20.Bxd5 Bc6 21.Bc4 Qg6?

21…Bc5+ is much stronger and only after this, 22…Qg6. Black would win easily.

22.b4? This is also weak. 22. Be3, blockading, is correct. Then white can hold out some chance to save the game.

22…b5 23.Be2 h6 24.Be3 a5 25.bxa5 Rxa5 26.Rf1 Ra8 White has a ruined structure and cannot offer meaningful resistance.

27.Bh5 Qd6 28.Qf2 Be7 29.Bd4 Rf8 30.Qe3 Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Bf6 It is too much to hope for 31…Qxa3?? 32. Qxh6+ and mates.

32.Bxf6 Qxf6+ 33.Kg1 Qa1+ 34.Kf2 Qe5 35.Qh3 Qf4+ 36.Ke1 e3 37.Bf3 Be4 38.Qd7 Bxf3 39.gxf3 Qxf3 40.Qd8+ Kh7 41.Qd3+ Kg8 42.Qd8+ Qf8 43.Qd5+ Kh8 0-1

A very poorly played game with white committing blunders in every phase. C’est la vie!

1980s Photos

July 28, 2007

Some Photos.

1981, New York City (can’t remember exact venue – think it might have been the Statler on 34 St.). The Pan-Am Intercollegiates, December.

The following motley group gathered – we were not part of any one team, we were just doing a “staged” photo clustered around the first place trophy.


From left to right, standing we have: Jon Schroer, the author, Steve Odendahl, and Eric Tall.

Seated we have future US Champion Michael Wilder whom I believe was still in High School.

Also in this time frame, maybe 1981 or 1982, we have the author at the famous Marshall CC (23 W 10 St., NY NY), site of many IM- and GM- norm tournaments.


Throughout most of the 1980s, I lived in a sprawling 3-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights (Upper Manhattan, 170th St.) along with Senior Master (hailing from Michigan) Jeremy Barth, Andrea Sisniega (sister of Mexican GM Marcel Sisniega) and at one time or another, also John Fedorowicz, Michael Rohde, and other visiting luminaries such as Pia Cramling. Here is the semi-famous cat Petey Pie, who throughout the 1980s terrorized such GM apartment guests as Eric Lobron and Ralf Lau with nocturnal prowling while they were trying to sleep. Click on Petey to see the bigger version. We used to sign her up to get magazine subscriptions; they arrived addressed to “Ms. Pie.”


The apartment was a haven for beatniks and foreign artisans. Here are discussants Charles (Chuckles) Fambro and Hanna Moishezon on our crummy Washington Heights foam sofa. Of course, Chuckles was unclassifiable. So was Hanna. I would place this photo at around 1985 or 1986 Fall 1987 or 1988 (see Jeremy Barth commentcurrent thinking places Jeremy as the photog).


Photo by Eric Schiller, whom I believed organized many of these important norm events. I discovered this photo by accident by stumbling on this web page. After making norms, players would celebrate at the palatial Schiller mansion on Long Island. One of these tournaments is where I first met Judy Shipman I found her instructional chess book somewhere and now she spells her name Judee. There must be some story there.

Moving to 1983, Manhattan Chess Club, famous old soda machine on the 10th floor of Carnegie Hall, 57th St. and 7th Avenue, on its old location on 155 E 55 St. (prior to Carnegie Hall, W 57 St), NYC. Sadly the MCC went defunct.  See another related post where I am trying to reconstitute the champions’ list with the help of one-time manager, Nick Conticello. I am pretty sure pink tinted glasses were popular then.


The author at the Manhattan Chess Club’s famous old Coke machine, 155 E 55 Street, 1983

Do you know why men like having a beard? In the act of feeling the beard (pretending to think), the concentrated nerve endings on the fingertips feel good! It’s got nothing to do with the face feeling the fingers, it’s all to do with the converse. :) That’s why you see learned men of advanced education constantly feeling their beard! I read this in a neurophysiology study. Don’t make me cite it.

Here is the World Open 1985. I can state for certainty that both Ian Findlay (Canada) and Michael Wilder were relaxing on the bed. As for the principles, better they remain anonymous. The less said about this, the better. I believe this was taken in the hotel across the parking lot from the Adam’s Mark – the Sheraton (?).


Between Rounds at the World Open 1985 

Moving ahead to the World Open 1986, what progress has been made? Well, first of all we have more people in the photo. We have Leonid Bass with that stylish hat and Sergey Kudrin left to the right, seated, rear. From left to right in the forefront, we have Michael Wilder, the author, and Joel Benjamin. This looks like it was taken right outside the Adam Mark’s “Players Bar”.

Between Rounds at the World Open 1986 

Here’s another one from the World Open, same era. I would estimate it’s also 1986.


Relaxing at the World Open 1986 

Here we have Joel Benjamin on the left rear and cute as a button Andrea Sisniega (sister of Mexican GM Marcel Sisniega) with a most excellent bottle of Mouton Cadet. Andrea lived in Washington Heights in a sprawling three bedroom apartment along with me, Senior Master Jeremy Barth, and at various other times Fedorowicz, Lobron, Rohde, Christiansen, McCambridge, Lanni, Wilder, Pia Cramling, Ralf Lau, and other luminaries. Yes, 250 Fort Washington Avenue, Apt. 2A, NY, NY, 10032, had a lot of chess player guests over the years from 1981-1988.

In the forefront of this photo we have the author on the left and peripatetic Michael Wilder on the right with an amusing expression. It looks like everyone is having a good time. My “wine glass” as you might guess was an Adam’s Mark hotel bathroom glass. Not very haute couture.

Here’s one more from the same event. In this one, Mike Wilder has on Leonid Bass’s hat. Standing, left, Dmitry Gurevich. Sitting, the author. On the right, Joel Benjamin.


More between-round relaxation, World Open 1986 

The next curio depicts Joel Benjamin with some bread rolls. I don’t know the location or exact date, but it has to be the 80s, doesn’t it? Photographer unknown as of this writing.


Moving up to 1989, we have a photo from the Berlin Open organized by Herr Seppelt. Photo by Eric Tall.


The author playing blitz with Joel Benjamin, Berlin Summer Open 1989 

By this time, the pink tinted glasses were history. I actually had a job on Wall Street (although I got sacked later in the year for too much nocturnal polka-ing). From left to right seated we have Matthew Messinger and the author; I am playing Joel Benjamin in a friendly blitz game in the Hotel Intercontinental in Berlin, Germany. Standing observing the proceedings is Dr. Anne Dinning who pretty much was responsible for me losing my day job. I wrote a small article on this tournament for Chess Life magazine that some of you may remember. The upshot is that we won more in the casino than the chess tournament. The highlight of the tournament may have been GM Josef Klinger of Austria getting ejected for public drunkenness (there was a convenient beer hall directly adjacent to the playing area).

And here is the view of the actual Berlin Open playing hall. I’m figuring out where to move vs a German FM Uwe Bokelbrink. Photo by Eric Tall.


The author (left, foreground playing white) vs. FM Uwe Bokelbrink, Berlin 1989 

And of course we saw two dogs fighting (or were they playing?) in Berlin:


Action photo credit: Eric Tall.

And at the very end of the decade I played in a Brugges, Belgium tournament New Years Eve 1989.

Before the event, this photo was taken in Delft, Holland.


The author and Christine Syben, Scheveningen Holland 1989. 

Nice town! Home of the little blue porcelain. That’s the author with a smaller person, American chess player Christine Syben. She went on to lose money in the Scheveningen casino. Photo by Eric Tall.

Finally we switch to what has to be a World Open; Canadian future IM Deen Hergott vs Joel Benjamin.  A side note: the Wikipedia article on Hergott mentions he is the chess columnist for the Ontario Citizen newspaper – I learn so much from Wikipedia!  The article also points out Hergott’s academic proficiency in mathematics, a nice counterpoint to our own IM Kenny Regan.

As is usual, if anyone has the game score of this encounter (for completeness), that would be appreciated – send it in.

Deen Hergott (left) vs Joel Benjamin, World Open (?), 198x (?) 

Do you feel like jumping ahead a decade? Here are the 1990s photos.


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