The Fabulous 70s: Boris Baczynskyj!

The chess world lost a nice guy in January of 2008 when Boris Baczynskyj passed away. See also a Chess Life obit by Jennifer Shahade and a tribute by Jerry Hanken.

Boris Baczynskyj

Boris was a very friendly fellow, always quick to laugh. I saw him a lot in Swisses in the 70s and 80s all up and down the east coast. He had the interesting “property” of extreme fluctuations in weight. He could go all the way up to the 400-500 range and back down to the 180-220 range.

GHI 1978 and Chain-Mail Helmets

Pre-computer, I sometimes wrote articles and had hand-written analysis to assist. Following is a scan of one such analysis of a tough positional struggle I had with Boris at the GHI International, New York City, 1978. The GHI was a strong, large, open swiss with plenty of norm opportunities. I believe Bill Goichberg directed it. It was so named after the GHI Building – its venue. If memory serves, an inconvenient elevator transported players up to the playing floor.  The tournament also had another “feature”.  John Fedorowicz, Jon Tisdall, and I were staying with my college roommate David Garfinkel on Park Avenue during this event.  David had a collection of antique helmets that we “borrowed” for use around the playing hall.  We all enjoyed the Turkish war helmet with chain mail covering the face and the German World-War I style helmet with the metal spike on top.  We also partook of vintage New York City firemen and policemen hats.  This meant a lot of “noise” that had to be “shushed” during the helmet jollies.

Click several times for maximum enlargement of these chess hieroglyphics. Note I was using an ancient text, “Sicilian Rauser”, as a citation source.

This handwritten scrawl masks a very interesting opening, middlegame, and endgame. One of the handwritten notes refers to a gambit: 10. f4 e6!? 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Qxf6 Rg8, that actually occurred in my 1979 Lloyds Bank Balinas game. I wrote above that this is “less than nothing” for white but in fact the computer says the pawn gambit leads to murky play with balanced chances.

At the time, I often “discussed” the ultra sharp opening featured here, the Modern Rauser (also an early favorite of GM Yudasin). Let’s see it.

Battle with Boris: Sicilian Modern Rauser Nascent Theory

B. Baczynskyj – M. Ginsburg Sicilian Modern Rauser, GHI International, Round 11. July 18, 1978.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bg5 Bd7!? 7. Qd2 Rc8!? The defining moves of the provocative Modern Rauser. Black goes for a quick Qa5 and Rc8, not caring for the moment about possible doubled f-pawns. An early Rc8xc3 sacrifice is often in the works. See, for example, my win over GM Balinas in Lloyds Bank 1979. This line only came into heavy weather later on in the 90s when Judit Polgar spanked it in some sharp encounters.

8. O-O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Qa5 10. Bd2?! Not the most active reaction. Latent discoveries on the black queen mean very little.

Position after 10. Bd2. Not the most Testing.

10…a6 Quite playable here is 10… e5 11. Qe3 Be7 12. f3 a6 13. Kb1 Qc5 14. Bd3 b5 15. Qe2 Be6 16. Be3 Qb4 17. Qd2 Qa5 18. Nd5 Qxd2 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. Bxd2 O-O 21. h4 Be7 22. Bb4 Rc6 23. Rd2 Ra8 24. Rhd1 Bxh4 25. Be2 Be7 26. Bxd6 Bg5 27. Rd3 Bc4 28. Bxe5 Bxd3 29. cxd3 and black went on to win, 0-1 Timman,J-Bellin,R/Islington 1970. Timman was just starting his career at this point.

11. Kb1 Qc5 12. Qxc5 Rxc5 13. f3 e6 As you can see in my handwritten notes, I didn’t want to go for 13… g6 14. Be3 Rc8 15. Bd4 Bg7 16. Nd5 but the computer shows that 16…e5! is playable.

14. g4 Be7 15. Be3 Rc8 16. g5 Nh5 Black’s position is OK here. Without the queens, at least his king will not come under severe attack.

17. Be2 17. f4 h6 18. gxh6 Rxh6 is OK.

17… b5 18. a3 h6 19. gxh6 g5!

Position after 19…g5!

20. Rhg1 Nf4 21. Bf1 f6 22. Bxf4 gxf4 Now I can face the future with confidence, armed with the bishop pair. All endings are great for me and one of them occurred.

23. Ne2 Rxh6 24. Nxf4 Rxh2 25. Rg8+ Kf7 26. Rxc8 Bxc8 27. c4 Rf2 28. cxb5 Rxf3 29. Ne2 axb5 30. Nc3 b4 31. axb4 f5 32. exf5 Rxf5 33. Bd3 Rf4 34. Rf1 Rxf1+ 35. Bxf1 Bb7 and black was able to convert, 0-1 in 58 moves. I will post the other moves shortly.

Epilog: Snowstorm aka Force Majeure

In the early 1980s, I played with Boris at a tournament at the University of Maryland. After Saturday’s game, I had 2.5 out of 3 and he had 3 out of 3. I was due to play him Sunday morning. But it was not to be. A fearsome blizzard halted the tournament and he was declared the abbreviated winner!

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