The Classic 2000s: Internet Chess Club (ICC) Blitz Chestnuts

The Internet Chess Club is a great place to play strong players.

There are lots to choose from. I usually play in the “5 minute pool” (Game in 5 minutes with no increment). Even in these conditions, interesting and fun games occur all the time.

Here is an example (from 2002) that features a really wild finish. Every day, there are numerous such chestnuts produced on ICC! Most fall by the wayside, unrecorded (except into the ICC automatic database), unnoticed, gone.

GM M. Hebden – IM Aries2 G/5 12/23/02

Nimzovich Defense 1. e4 Nc6 (by transposition)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 Bg4 4. e4 e6 5. h3 Bh5 6. Qe2 Nc6

Weirdly, this can arise from the Nimzovich Defense, 1. e4 Nc6!?

7. g4 Bg6 8. h4 h5 9. g5 Nd7 10. Be3 Nb6 11. O-O-O d5

White has a lot of space and black tries to create a barrier.

heb1.png

12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 c6 14. f4

A scary pawn storm is in the works.

14…Qc7

15. Bxb6 axb6 16. f5 exf5 17. exd5 Bb4 18. d6 Qd7 19. Qc4 Bxc3 20. Qxc3 Rxa2

What can one rook do by itself? It needs its companion!

21. Kb1 Ra8 22. Bc4 O-O 23. Qe3 Rae8 24. Rhe1 Kh7 25. Qxb6?! f4!

White is tempted by a loose pawn and black gets to free himself with this advance. This once-blockaded pawn becomes quite a force, distracting white and providing camouflage to set up a hidden mating attack, as strange as that seems right now!

heb2.png

26. Qd4 Qg4 27. Bd3 f3 28. Bxg6+ fxg6 29. Re4 Qf5 30. d7 Rd8 31. e6 f2

In the finest blitz tradition, a crazy race of menacing passed pawns.

heb3.png

32. Rf1 Qh3 33. Qd3 Rf3 34. Qe2 Ra8

In typical blitz fashion, both sides ignore each other. Who is faster? We soon see…

35. Ra4 Rxa4 36. d8=Q Rfa3!!

The companion arrives! Fortunately the extra white queen is irrelevant because the BK is safe enough. Quite a rare and unusual tactic.

heb4.png

37. bxa3

The astute reader is probably wondering what happens on 37. Kc1. Well, the craziness continues! Black can consider 37…Qxf1+ or 37…Ra1+.

Update:  37. Qxh5+!! gxh5 38. g6+! forces a draw – variation by coelecanth!

37…Qxa3 38. Qe5?

38. c3 is necessary try because the text falls into an immediate mate.

Still 38. Qxh5+!

38…Rb4+

White resigns.

0-1

Here is a more recent 5-minute tussle with highly rated GM Dmitry Jakovenko (“coolwizard”) that is somewhat theoretically interesting.

aries2 (IM Ginsburg) – coolwizard (GM Jakovenko) ICC Blitz Game, 1/16/06 Sicilian Najdorf

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5

The world is so full of 6. Be3 these days that this move is actually refreshing.

6…e6 7. f4 Nbd7

A very popular sideline popularized by GM Boris Gelfand. 7…Be7 is the most common move.

8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. Rhe1 Qb6

It looks strange to move this piece again. However, it’s main line theory. Black hits the knight on d4 and follows numerous games, by Gelfand and others.This line is still being tested at the highest levels today.

cool1.png

12. Bxf6!? White was unsuccessful with the unsound 12. Nxe6? fxe6 13. Qh3 e5 and black won without much trouble in Geller-Polugaevsky, Portoroz 1973 Interzonal. 12. Nxe6? was definitely a move I am sure Yefim Geller would have liked to take back in such an important interzonal game. The more sensible, yet passive retreat 12. Nb3 b4 has seen mixed results in practice. Spassky beat Tukmakov as white but on the whole, black seems fine. The text, 12. Bxf6!?, seems unchallenging, giving the two bishops without provocation, but it has its points.

The other main move, 12. Nd5!?, leads to wild play after  12…exd5 13. exd5+ Kd8.  Black can also play 12…Qxd4. Gelfand preferred 12…Qxd4 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. Bxb5 Qc5 and eventually triumphed in Shabalov-Gelfand, Bermuda 2004.

12…Nxf6

Theory Discovery! 12…gxf6(?) has been seen many times, with black not doing badly, but in none of the games in my “Big” ChessBase database 2005 did white find the correct and rather obvious response 13. Nd5!! TN exd5 14. exd5+ Kd8 15. Bf5! with a huge bind. For example, 15…Nc5 16. Nc6+ Bxc6 17. dxc6 Ra7 18. Qd5 and black is not long for this world. The move 13. Nd5 looks completely winning for white unless a reader spots something for black that I missed?

13. Qh3!?

Of course, the N on d4 is indirectly protected now. This sequence poses some practical problems.

13…Be7 Black has the plausible 13…b4!? here. In all Najdorf lines, the attack b5-b4 must always be calculated. Play can continue 14. Nce2 Nxe4? 15. Bxe4 Bxe4 16. Nxe6 with a big white edge; but 14…e5!? or 14…Qa5!? are possible, in either case with mutual chances. Also very interesting and completely different is 13….O-O-O!? with decent chances, scoring 50% in 2 example games in the “Big” database. The wild and bad sacrifice 14. Nxe6? fxe6 15. Qxe6+ Kb8 16. e5 Bc8 simply failed (black won easily) in Szalanczy-Lazic, Balatonbereny 1986, and the more sedate 14. Bf1!? triumphed for white eventually in Arlt-Meyer, Muenster 1987 (but black of course is fine in this position).

Jakovenko’s text move is fine too.

14. e5! dxe5 15. fxe5 Nd7 More reliable is the more centralizing 15…Nd5 16. Ne4 b4!? but the text isn’t bad.

16. Be4!?

A dangerous maneuver which we will see again in the anti-Hedgehog article coming soon.

16…Rd8?

A blitz blunder. Here, black had to play 16…Bxe4 17. Nxe4 Rd8! (not 17…Nxe5 18. Qg3) with an acceptable game.

17. Nxe6! A common tactical motif which is quite decisive here.

17…Qxe6 The nice pendulum variation 17…fxe6 18. Qh5+ Kf8 19. Qf3+ Kg8 20. Bxb7 wins for white.

18. Bxb7 18. Qxe6 and then 19. Bxb7 is an easy win too.

18…Qxh3 19. gxh3 and white won the ending easily.

1-0

To keep things fresh, here’s a barn burner played 9/16/07 vs Norwegian GM Simen Agdestein (Gruk on ICC).

Gruk – Aries2 ICC 5-min Blitz, 2007

Bogo-Indian, Smyslov 4…a5

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 a5 5. g3 d6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5! Students should refer to Wilder-Smyslov, New York 1987, 0-1, for a good example of this line. The entire variation is under-rated; black gets a lot of piece activity.

8. Bc1!? A reasonable way to redeploy the B on b2. However, black can meet it adequately. Wilder played 8. Bg5 and got very little after 8….exd4 9. Nxd4 h6 10. Bf4.

8…exd4 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. b3 Re8 11. Bb2 Ne5 12. Qc2 c6 13. a3 Bc5 14. Rd1 Bg4! Black has active piece play to compensate for white’s greater center.

15. h3 Bh5 16. Nc3 Bg6 17. e4 Ned7 18. f4?! White is asking a little too much here.

18…d5?! Not best. Correct is 18… Qe7! 19. f5 Bh5 20. g4 Bxg4 21.hxg4 Nxg4 22. Qe2 Qh4 23. Na4 Ba7 24. Rd3 Qh2+ 25. Kf1 Ndf6! with tremendous pressure, e.g. 26. Bf3 Qh4 27. Bc3 Rxe4 28. Bxe4 Nxe4 29. Qg2 Nh2+ 30. Kg1 (30. Ke2 Re8 31. Kd1 Nxc3+ 32. Nxc3 Bxd4 and wins) 30… Nxc3 31. c5 Nxa4 and wins.

19. f5 Bh5 20. g4 Nxg4 21. hxg4 Bxg4 22. cxd5 Qg5?! Better is 22… Bxd1 23. Rxd1 Qg5 24. dxc6 bxc6 25. Na4 Ba7 26. Qd2 Qh4 with only a very small disadvantage.

23. Na4 Ba7 24. dxc6 (24. Qd2 Qh5 transposes)

24… bxc6 25. Qd2 Qh5 26. Rf1 Rad8 27. b4 Here, the optically good 27. Qxa5 only draws – it’s met by 27…Bb8! 28. Rf2 Bg3 29. Rd2 Qh2+ 30. Kf1 Nf6 31. Nc5 Bh3 32. Bxh3 Qxh3+ 33. Rg2 Qh1+ 34. Rg1 Qh3+ 35. Ke2? (It’s wrong to avoid the perpetual; 35. Rg2 of course draws) 35… Nxe4 and wins.

27… Ne5 28. Nc5 Nc4 29. Qc3 Bb8 30. Rf2?

This was a chance for white to stand better. If the correct defense 30. Nf3!, black can continue his attack with 30…Nxb2 31. Qxb2 Bf4 32. Qf2 Rd2 33. Qh4? (Correct is to sac the queen with some edge, 33. Qxd2! Bxd2 34. Nxd2 Qg5 35. Rf2 Qe3 36. Rb1 axb4 37. axb4 Rd8 38. Nc4 Qd4 39. Na5 but this is of course very hard to find in blitz) 33… Rxg2+ 34. Kxg2 Bxf3+ 35. Rxf3 Qxh4 and wins). It’s still hard in all these lines to play white in blitz; black has a lot of activity.

30… Nxb2 31. Rxb2 Be5! Now the tables are turned. Black has a crushing initiative.

32. Rd2 Qh2+ 33. Kf1 Qf4+ 34. Ke1 Bf6! Another nice diagonal switch. Black is completely winning now.

35. Rf2 Bh4 Strong also is 35… Qh2 36. Bf3 Bh4 37.Qe3 Bxf3 38. Nxf3 Qh1+ 39. Ke2 Qxa1 with a mop-up.

36. Raa2 Rxd4! This deflection sac is decisive; black has 50 seconds left, and white only 10.

37. Qxd4 Rd8?? Excited, black misses mate in two: 37… Qc1+ 38. Qd1 Qxd1 mate.

38. Qc3 White with no time left does not spot the deflection 38. Qxd8!+ Bxd8 39. Rxf4! which would be a sad turn events indeed for black.

38… Rd1 mate

0-1

It’s funny how this line often leads to ultra-sharp play. Black keeps his active dark square bishop and gives white “everything” in return – a mobile pawn center. Sacrifices are often needed, as occurred in the game, just to live.


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One Response to “The Classic 2000s: Internet Chess Club (ICC) Blitz Chestnuts”

  1. coelacanth Says:

    It looks like Hebden could have forced a draw with 37. Q:h5+, gh 38. g6+, K:g6 39. Qg5+. This also works on move 38 (with a drawn rook ending if Black interposes on f8) and possibly even on move 39 if the moves before are 38. c3, Q:c3.

    That is a very cool possibility.

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