The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 5 OOTW

USCL Week 5 Opening of the Week

The Foxy Rauser Deviation, as practiced by IM Albert Kapengut many times and also me at Lone Pine 1980.  Albert used it most recently on the NJKO USCL team to defeat IM M. Pasalic of the Chicago Blaze in USCL Week 5 action.  Let’s see the “historical game” first to gain perspective.  Interestingly, I was playing a typically well-prepared representative of the former Soviet Union and against this type of player, “eccentric” early deviations are not a surprise!

Mark Ginsburg – IM Vitaly Zaltsman Lone Pine 1980.  Sicilian Rauser, Foxy Deviation

In this tournament, held shortly before my 21st birthday, I was mired in disappointment and blunders with only a nice win over John Grefe to my credit in a “Lenderman-special” Neanderthal Ruy Lopez Cordel defense with an early Qd8-f6.  When I say “Lenderman-special” I mean that it has been tried by Lenderman and also it’s very bad. 🙂

It’s very funny to think that my “eccentric” Sicilian gambit in the Zaltsman game would resurface in a USCL game featuring veteran IM Albert Kapengut in his win over Chicago IM M. Pasalic. No wonder Zaltsman blitzed off his first 15 moves – it must be in Soviet academies!

1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Be3



White is being foxy (inviting black’s game response) and a little naive because this move is absolutely nothing theoretically.

6…Ng4 Tasty!  White gets what he wants!  This move aims for adventure and risk. Kapengut passes by this point in his brief annotations without comment.  But a serious argument must be made for the simple 6… e5!? aiming for Be6 and d5 liquidation.  7. Nb3 (7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Bc4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Qd3 Be6 11. Rad1 Ng4 12. Bd2 Qb6 13. Bb3 Nf6 and white has zero) 7… Be6 8. Qd2 (8. Be2 d5! 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 Qxd5 11. Qxd5 Bxd5
12. O-O O-O-O is totally level) 8… d5 9. exd5 Nxd5  and once again I do not see any edge.  In fact, I think Joel Benjamin played this way versus me in some tournament, once. 🙂 For example, 10. Nxd5 (10. O-O-O?  Bb4! 11. Bd3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 Qc7 13. Bc5 O-O-O! is just structurally horrible for white) 10… Qxd5 11. Qxd5 Bxd5 12. O-O-O O-O-O 13. c4 Be6 14. Rxd8+ Kxd8 15. Nc5 Bxc5 16. Bxc5 and white had zero in
Nakamura,H (2452)-Zilka,S (2182)/Oropesa del Mar 2001 although as you might guess Hikaru tricked his lower rated opponent in the ending .

Conclusion:  I don’t see anything wrong with 6. Be3 e5!? which takes the fun out of white’s schemes.

7. Bb5

See the comment suggestion for another playable move, 7. Bg5 — a minature Nakamura win over Fernandez in Bermuda 2002 that John Fernandez masochistically supplied.

7…Nxe3 8. fxe3 Bd7 9. Bxc6?! This is my choice in the Zaltsman game.

Due to black’s improvement on move 10 in my game, I think my move offers very little.

Kapengut chose the more foxy 9. O-O.  I will return to Kapengut’s choice after the Zaltsman game.

9… bxc6 10. O-O e6 (10… e5 {This logical move looks good!} 11. Qf3 f6 12. Nf5 g6 13. Ng3 Be7 and black was a little better and went on to win; Meszaros,A (2310)-Groszpeter,A (2495)/Hungary 1992/EXT 2000})

11. e5 If 11. Qf3 Qf6 12. Qe2 Qg5! makes sense and black stands well.

11… Be7 12. exd6 Bxd6 13. Ne4? A blunder but by this point white has very little.  13. Nf3 Qc7 14. Qd4 e5 15. Qh4 O-O 16. Ne4 f6 is not promising.

13… Bxh2+!  Ooopsie. Since I was young, I didn’t care about this blunder very much.  Sure enough, not too many moves later, Zaltsman was totally confused and white was winning! 🙂  I was completely amazed to see in the database a white win featuring this antique blunder of mine; Skjoldborg wound up winning vs. J. Christiansen, Copenhagen 2003, but of course it had nothing to do with this blunder. 🙂

14. Kh1 Qh4 15. Nf6+ gxf6 16. Nf3 Qg3 17. Nxh2 Rg8 18. Qe2 Rg6 19. Rf3 Qe5 20. Rd1 Rd8 The greedy 20… Rh6! 21. Rf4 Qxb2! 22. Rfd4 Rd8 23. Qd2 Qb7 and black should win.

21. Rh3 h6 22. e4 c5 Black is drifting!  Again 22… Qxb2.

23. Rhd3 Ke7 24. Nf3 Qc7 25. c4 Rgg8 26. e5! Ut-oh, white is asserting himself!

26…fxe5 27. Qxe5 Qxe5 28. Nxe5 Ba4 29. Rxd8 Rxd8 30. Rxd8 Kxd8 31. Nxf7+ Ke7 32. Nxh6 Bd1 33. Kh2 Kf6 34. Kg3 Ke5?

34… Be2 is a tougher try.  35. b3 Bd3 36. Kf4 Bb1 and the struggle continues. 

35. Nf7+ Kd4 36. Kf4 Kd3 37. g4 Kc2 38. b4 cxb4 39. c5 a5 40. c6 Be2 41. c7 Ba6 42. g5 a4 43. g6 b3 44. axb3 a3 45. g7 a2 46. g8=Q a1=Q 47. Qg6+ Kxb3 48. Qxe6+ Kc2 49. Nd6 Qf1+ 50. Ke5 Kc3 51. Ne4+ Kb4 52. Qb6+?

Here wa a nice win. 52. Qd6+! Ka5 53. Qa3+ Kb5 54. Qc5+ Ka4 55. Qb6; also winning was 52. Qe7+ Ka4 53. Nc5+ Kb5 54. Nxa6.

52… Qb5+ 53. Qxb5+ Kxb5 54. Kd6 Bc8 55. Nf6 Kb6 56. Nd5+ Kb7 57. Ke7 Bh3 58. Kd8 Kc6! I can’t break the blockade!  59. Nf4 Bg4 60. Ne2 Kd6 61. Nd4 Bh3 62. Nf3 Bg4 63. Ng5 Kc6 64. Nh7 Bh3 65. Nf6 Bf5 66. Ne8 Bh3 1/2-1/2

A titanic Lone Pine (in Death Valley, CA) Wild West blunderfest!

Now, back to the Kapengut game.

Recall 9. O-O was played in Kapengut-Pasalic.  The first interesting point: 9…g6 is less bad than prior evidence suggests.  It’s not good; just not losing. 🙂

9. O-O g6 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qf3 f6 12. e5 dxe5 13. Nxc6 Qc8 14. Nxe5 fxe5 15. Qf7+ Kd8 16. Rad1 has been seen in practice, and in a prior game the losing 16…Kc7?? was played.    Far better is the clever 16… Bh6 and black has significant defensive resources.

The game went on 9. O-O e6 10. Bxc6 bxc6



The absolutely critical moment.   Kapengut played a move that leads to equal chances.

11. Qf3 Qf6 12. Qe2 and here Pasalic played the passive 12…Qd8? and white got the upper hand with a trick that is thematic for this variation, the e4-e5 break.  Much stronger is 12…Qg5! with the simple point of stopping white’s e4-e5 trick that occurred after 12…Qd8?.  As you might guess, 12…Qg5! has been seen in lots of games with decent black results.  From Kapengut’s own experience, after 13. Rf3 Qc5!? the game was about level but black managed to win eventually in Kapengut-Giorgadze 1969.  Alternatively 13.  Rf3 Be7 is also level and eventually drawn in Kapengut-A. Ivanov Minsk 1985.

Going back to move 11, the immediate break 11. e5!? is interesting and has been tried many times.   Recall I tried it in the Zaltsman game. 11…dxe5? 12. Qh5! is a big edge to white and 11…d5 12. Qf3 Qe7 13. b4! looks familiar with a white plus.

The correct move which took Vitaly about 10 microseconds to find is 11…Be7! 12. exd6 Bxd6 and it’s about equal.

The problem with 11. Qf3 is that it gave black that pesky improvement on move 12.  But the problem with 11. e5 is black has this “well known Soviet” equalizing technique.

Overall conclusion:  black can survive the 6…Ng4 adventure but again, 6…e5 looks simpler.

I would be interested to know reader experiences in this tricky line.


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6 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 5 OOTW”

  1. John Fernandez Says:

    I regularly play 6. … Ng4. I played it against Hikaru. Ow.

    IM Hikaru Nakamura (2430) – John Fernandez (2079)
    2002 Bermuda International Open (2), Southampton, February 2, 2002

    1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bg5 Qb6 8.Bb5 Bd7 9.0-0 h6 10.Be3 Nxe3 11.fxe3 Ne5 12.Bxd7+ Kxd7 13.Nd5 Qd8 14.Nf3 Nc6 15.Nd4 Ne5 16.Rxf7 g5 17.Qf1 1-0

    You can see my annotations here:

    But what the heck is wrong with 6…e5, when I was faced with that I got bubkis. When Hikaru faced it he got bubkis. What’s the secret?

  2. John Fernandez Says:

    I always thought e5 was bad, but maybe it’s the best move. Classical players don’t like going e5 though.

  3. coelacanth Says:

    I consider the Boleslavsky variation classical, and 6…e5 here is pretty similar.

  4. Scourge Says:

    6…e5 is natural if you are practitioner of the Sveshnikov variation in the Sicilian. To get an edge, White should play 7.Ndb5 and we have transposed into a system that is presently unpopular, but by no means bad. The better known move order to arrive here is:

    1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxc4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Be3!?

    For White 1.e4 players, this is a great line to get booked up juniors out of their preparation and into a game that offers a nice, solid edge.

    For example, let’s continue 7…a6 8.Na3 Rb8 (8…b5 9.Nd5! and the e-Pawn is hot. 9…Nxe4 10.Bb6 wins.) 9.Nd5 Nxd5 10.exd5 Ne7 11.b4 with good chances

    Nuanceful. This needs checking. In the Rauser, 6, Be3 e5 7. Ndb5 is not a move that comes to mind!

  5. Albert Kapengut Says:

    I would like to inform you and readers that the idea from your game had occurred 18 years early in my game against Dzidzichashvili,Tbilisi 1962 and was printed in Soviet chess magazine “Шахматный бюллетень” 10/1962 #114. I’m sure, Vitaly Zaltsman, who constantly played Rauser system, knew this game.
    Albert Kapengut

    MG postscript: Fantastic history! So I very much played the wrong opening!
    Is the 1962 Dzindzi game score available? By the way Vladimir Tukmakov in Lenk 2000 told me some good Tbilisi Yakov Yuchtman stories. I played Yuchtman many blitz games in his later years, 1980s, in New York City. Curiously Dzindzi was also around then.

  6. For Your Eyes Only: Games from the Albert Kapengut Files « IM Mark Ginsburg Presents A Personal Chess History Says:

    […] Recently I noticed that chess veteran Albert Kapengut has been playing for New Jersey (!)  in the US Chess League.  He has had a pretty good record to date. Albert was kind of enough to send me all of his encounters with Roman Dzindzihashvili from their junior years and beyond.  Enjoy!   In case you were wondering, he sent me the games after I commented on the USCL game Kapengut-Pasalic, supplying notes to my own game in a Sicilian o… […]

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