The Fabulous 70s – The 1978 US Junior Invitational

The 1978 Event was very strong and took place in Memphis, TN. From the West Coast we had Yasser Seirawan, the Whitehead brothers, (Jay and Paul). From the East Coast we had John Fedorowicz, Michael Rohde, Steve Odendahl, Tom Costigan, and me.

The players’ photo can be found here.

Round 1 saw some typical first-round jitters. My opponent, already an International Master and US Junior co-champ in 1976 along with Mark Diesen (see famous Chess Life Cover, April 1977) wasn’t in good form in the 1978 event. But I didn’t know that yet.

IM Michael Rohde (2382) – Mark Ginsburg (2339)

US Jr. Invitational, Memphis TN 6/18/78.

1. d4 Trompovsky Attack

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6 For readers seeking something fun and interesting, I recommend exploring Anatoly Lein’s interesting 2…d6!? here.

3. e4 h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. Nf3 b6 6. Bd3 Bb7 7. Nbd2 Qd8 This is a very passive treatment.

8. O-O Be7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. e5 d6 11. Rad1 Nd7 12. c3 dxe5 13. dxe5 Nc5


14. Bb5?! 14.Bc2! is superior. For example, 14…Ba6? 15. c4 Bb7 16. b4 Nd7 17. Qd3 f5 18. Ba4 Nb8 19. Qc3 and white has a big edge. The bishop is just more active on c2.

14… a6 15. Nb3 Qb8 16. Nxc5 Bxc5 17. Bd7 Rd8 18. c4 Be7 19. Rd3 c5 Black is OK now. Nothing is really going on.

20. Rfd1 Qc7 21. h3 Rab8 22. Nh2 Bc6 22…b5 is a bit better here.

23. Bxc6 Qxc6 24. Ng4 Bg5? A terrible blunder. Not only does this move have no point, but it also allows a tactical shot. 24…Rxd3 or 24…b5 are fine.

25. Rd6? First round. The interference theme 25. Nf6+! gives white a big edge.

25…Qc7 26. Qe4?? A monumental blunder.


26…Be7?? That is answered by one in return. The rather obvious but nice 26…f5! wins a piece (i.e. forces resignation) since taking en passant is impossible with the hanging rook. It took a kibitzer, John Fedorowicz, to (rudely?) inform the players of this tactical nuance after the game was over. An amusing case of mutual chess blindness.

27. R6d3 Rxd3 28. Rxd3 Rd8 29. Rg3 Kh8 30. Nf6 Bxf6 31. exf6 g6? Another elementary blunder. The obvious intermezzo 31… Rd1+! 32. Kh2 g6 gives black a large edge with control of the only open file and an awkward WR placement on g3.

32. Rd3 Kh7 33. g3 Rxd3 34. Qxd3 Qe5 35. Qd8 Qe1+ 36. Kg2 Qe4+ 37. Kf1! A clever psychological snare.

37…Qxc4+? Obvious and bad. 37…g5! is correct and black is fine.

38. Kg1 g5 39. Qf8 Now white is causing problems again.

39…Kg6 40. Qg7+ Kf5 41. Qxf7 At this point the game was adjourned. Yes, there were adjournments in the 1970s (dinner break). Rohde was willing to bet he would win. I was pretty steamed because I realized I had blown it several times over and I was willing to believe I was now losing. However, I took a quick look with fellow Marylander Steve Odendahl and we found a hidden drawing motif that actually occurred in the game.


Position after 41. Qxf7 (Adjournment)

41…Qe2 42. g4+ Ke5 43. Qg6? The inhuman and difficult to spot 43. Qg7!! Qe1+ 44. Kg2 Qe4+ 45. Kh2 Qf4+ 46. Kg1 Qxf6 47. Qc7+ Ke4 48. Qxb6 keeps a big white edge. White goes down the drawing path found by Steve.

43… Qd1+ 44. Kg2 Qd5+ 45. Kg3 Kd6! This is it. The Black King darts back and black is completely safe now. A narrow rescue.

46. f7 Qe5+ 47. Kg2 Ke7 48. Qg8 Qe4+ 49. Kg1 Qe1+ 50. Kg2 Qe4+ 51. Kg1 Qe1+ 52. Kg2 Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

A very nervous and poorly played game but still one that demonstrated the fighting spirit of the juniors.

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