Archive for the ‘Marshall 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 70s: Leslie Braun!

August 12, 2010

Leslie Braun (1936-1998)!

Leslie Braun was a big gangly guy who was the Marshall Chess Club Manager in the 1970s and 1980s.  One time he kicked out Maxim Dlugy from that venerable club on West 10th Street in Manhattan in the early 1980s for excessive loudness and I was caught up in that maelstrom and also booted.  He was a friendly enough fellow (just didn’t like people horsing around at the Marshall) and would have been a good circus clown with his expressiveness and gesturing.

Here’s a miniature from the 1977 World Open in which I tangled with this unique fellow.

For historical interest, at the time my rating was 2212 and his was 2232.

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.04”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Braun, Leslie”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B87”]
[Annotator “Ginsburg,Mark”]
[SourceDate “2007.04.24”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. f4

I had not played the Sozin before or since.  “Making things up” was very much in vogue pre-computer.

8…Qc7 8… b4 9. Na4 Nxe4 is a line.  The text is a good move.

9. O-O  Be7 10. f5 e5 11. Nde2 Bb7 12. Ng3

Black has a strong move here.

12…Nbd7 Surprisingly strong is 12… h5 !! 13. Nd5 Bxd5 14. Bxd5 h4 15. Bxa8? (15. Be3 Nc6 16. Ne2 Ng4 17. Qd2 h3 18. g3 Rb8 keeps things equal equal) 15… Qa7+ 16. Rf2 hxg3 17. hxg3 d5!! and black wins.

13. Bg5 Nb6 Again strong was 13… h5 and black is fine.

14. Nh5 Nxh5 15. Bxf7+ (!) Safe and good was 15. Qxh5 Bxg5 16. Qxg5 f6 17. Qh5+ Ke7 18. Be6 Raf8 19. Rf2 Bc8 20. a4! and white is comfortably better.  The text move should be a draw, thus it is not a good move due to the stronger alternative.  Still, it pays off illogically in the game.   The “refutation” where black can make a draw is actually a very tough variation to find and I present it as a tactical puzzle in the alternatives to move 17B.

15… Kxf7 16. Qxh5+ Kg8 17. f6

Decision Time

17…gxf6?? Losing.  A case of sacrificial shock? 17… Bxf6 and now the further sacrifice 18. Rxf6 is defused by 18… gxf6 (18…b4?? 19. Bh6!! wins) 19. Bxf6 Qf7! 20. Qg4+ Qg6 21. Qe6+ Qf7 22. Qg4+ Qg6 {Perpetual check draw.}

As a tactical quiz for the readers, obviously Braun was scared of 17…Bxf6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Rxf6. Qg7 20. Rf3! idea Rg3 winning.  What was the flaw in his thinking?

18. Rf3 ! Now white wins via direct attack as the rook threatens to switch to g3.  A brutal finale.

18…h6 Everything lost, i.e. 18… d5 19. Bh6 Bc5+ 20. Kh1 Qg7 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Rg3+.

19. Qg6+ Kf8 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Rxf6+ Ke7 22. Qg7+ {Black Resigns.} 1-0

Leslie died intestate in January 1998 (see Ron Young comment).   1998 was also my last year living in New York City; I was about to try out the Bay Area in August.   I had been in NYC most of the time since 1981.  End of an era!

Being intestate or being an outright pauper has been an occupational hazard of chess players for centuries (both World Wars have seen some famous players dying of starvation, and young Korchnoi had to pick through the ruins of post-siege Leningrad).  Braun’s body lay unclaimed for a while and kudos to IM Walter Shipman for taking care of the matter.

The Fabulous 00s: The NY International 2008 Part Deux

July 1, 2008

More Games, More Drama

Here’s a barnburner I played in Round 3 vs. GM Michael Rohde.

IM M. Ginsburg – GM M. Rohde  Round 3, Hedgehog

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.O-O a6 7.Re1 Be7 8.e4 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 Of course the c4 pawn is not really hanging yet.  Black is just setting up a regular hedgehog piece placement.

11.Be3 Nbd7 12.f4 h5!? It’s a little unusual to do this at this exact juncture.  Some players like to go ….Rc8 and …Qb8 to attack the c-pawn “for real”.

13.Rc1!? 13. h3 is the most positionally careful but on this day I felt like throwing a knight into the middle (see move 14).

13…Ng4 14.Nd5! Maybe a TN!  It leads to what I think is a significant white edge.

Position after 14. Nd5!? – Maybe a TN!

14…exd5 15.cxd5 Qd8 16.Nc6 This is the point.  The pawn appearing on c6 will cause coordination problems for black.

16…Bxc6 17.dxc6 Nc5 18.c7?! Rather weak.  Correct is 18. Bd4! with excellent positional compensation.  This position merits careful examination to determine the ultimate worth of 14. Nd5.

18…Qxc7 19.b4 O-O 20.h3 Nxe3 21.Rxe3 h4!? If I were black, I would be more inclined to 21…g6!? but the text is positionally well motivated to gain more dark squares.

Position after 21…h4!? – the most aggressive choice.

22.bxc5 dxc5 23.Qg4 c4! Strong.

24.Kh1 b5 25.e5 Qb6 26.Re4! This is the only move to give black any problems.  Objectively black is better but it’s not easy with limited time to reach move 40.

26…Rad8 27.f5 Qh6 28.Rf1

Position after 28. Rf1.  Decision time.

28…Rfe8? In severe time trouble, black selects a nearly losing move. Correct is 28…f6! and black is much better.  The queenside majority is mobile.

29.f6 Bf8 30.e6! Naturally.

30…Rxe6 31.Rxe6 fxe6 32.Qxe6+ Kh8 33.Bd5! Rxd5 Pretty much necessary but now white has chances to win.

34.Qxd5 The position is now dangerous for black.

Position after 34. Qxd5.

34…hxg3?! 34…gxf6 looks better.  35. Rf5 could be met by 35…Qc1+.

35.Kg2? White gives away a pawn for no reason. Why on earth not first the natural 35. fxg7+ completely baring black’s king?  The queen and rook can then ‘bother” much more effectively and white has good chances to score the full point.

35…gxf6 Black’s king is now safe enough to draw.  Now both sides have very little time left and a set of fairly random moves appear on the board to get to move 40.

36.Rf5 Qg6 37.Rf4 Bh6 38.Qa8+ Kh7 39.Rg4 Qc2+ 40.Kxg3 Qd3+ 41.Kg2 Bg5 42.h4 Qe2+ 43.Kh3 A perpetual check is inevitable.

1/2-1/2 A tough struggle!

Last Round Thriller

IM Alfonse Almeida (2502, MEX) – IM M. Ginsburg  Round 9. Modern/Pirc

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bc4 In Round 1 IM Ron Burnett was successful with 4. Be3 c6!? 5. Qd2 b5!? playing black against IM Eli Vovsha.  The text move, the “Holmov Attack”, has been well studied by theory and is fairly harmless.

4…Nf6 5.Nge2 On the main move 5. Qe2, black has been doing well with the sharp 5…O-O!? 6. e5 Ne8, and the older 5…Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 is not refuted either.  The text should yield zero.

5…O-O The simplest way is 5…Nxe4!, but I was somehow probably unjustifiably worried about 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Nxe4 with some nebulous ideas of Ng5+ and Nf4 targeting e6.  After the game, my opponent gave his intention as 6. Nxe4 but then 6…d5 7. Bd3 dxe4 8. Bxe4 and black is completely fine with white’s odd knight placement on e2.   After the text move, the game becomes very sharp.

6.f3 c6 7.a4 d5 8.Bb3 dxe4 9.fxe4 e5! The usual reaction in the center, reminiscent of the Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3!? dxe4 4. fxe4 e5!?)  meets with a very nice response from white.  When I played 9…e5, I had no idea what white was up to and I thought he was just worse.  This isn’t the case.


Position after 9. Bg5! – I did not expect this move.

10…exd4 11.Qxd4 Necessary and interesting.

11…Qxd4 12.Nxd4 Nbd7 13.Rf1! The only move to keep pressure.

13…h6 14.Bh4

Now I had a bit of a think.  If I accept the pawn gambit I come under heavy pressure.  I opted for something else…

14…Ng4? This move, anticipating 15. O-O-O?? Ne3! winning, would be great if it were not for white’s next!

Position after 14…Ng4? – White has a shot.

15.Ne6! The opportunistic Almeida would not miss this.  As a testament to “how good” my opening was, I can play on with some pressure even after this brutal shot.

15…fxe6 16.Bxe6 Kh7 17.Bxg4 Rxf1 18.Kxf1 Nc5 19.Bf3 Be6 20.Bf2 b6 Black is doing the best he can, but his compensation is insufficient.

21.a5 Re8 22.axb6 axb6 23.Ra7? A huge misstep!  White had the simple 23. Rd1 with the idea of Rd6; white should convert that position to victory.  It is OK if he loses the a-pawn at some juncture if that means black’s dark-squared bishop leaves the board. After the text, white’s rook proves to be out of play as black generates unexpected counterplay against white’s king!

23…Kg8 24.Rc7 Bc4+ 25.Kg1 Ra8! Suddenly Bxc3 and Ra1+ are threatened!  White has to self-tangle.

26.Nd1 From this point on, the gamescore makes no sense.  Here are the right moves.

26…Bb5! A nice defensive motif. White’s rook is in serious danger of being trapped with Bg7-e5!  He has to resort to extreme measures and black is now off the hook.

Position after 26…Bb5!  Black wriggles out.

27. Bg4 What else? 27…Be5 28. Rc8+ Rxc8 29. Bxc8 Be2! 30. Nc3 This position is drawn.  Black just has to be a little careful.  The two bishops never become a factor.

30…Bxc3 31. bxc3 Nxe4 32. Bxb6 Nxc3 33. Bd4 Ne4 34. Bd7 Bb5 Black’s bishop and knight coordinate well.  White’s king cannot approach to do damage.

35. Be6+ Kf8 36. Bg4 Kf7 37. h4 h5 38. Bf3 Nd2! 39. Kf3 White offers a draw in light of 39…Nxf3.  For some reason on the site, the game continues to move 60 and rooks reappear on the board rather magically. Even worse for me, white is recorded as winning..  In fact, the game ended here peacefully.


Round 3 Sickness

Just for the sick blunderfest fans among us (I know you’re one), here is Ehlvest-Liu from the 3rd round.

GM Jaan Ehlvest – NM Elliot Liu  King’s Indian Defense, Round 3.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.e3 O-O 5.Be2 d6 6.c4 c5 7.Nc3 Soviet-style safety (SSS).   The chances are very high an American junior won’t know what to do.

7…h6 8.Bh4 g5 Here, the non-obvious 8…Qb6!? 9. Qd2 g5 10. Bg3 Bf5 is interesting on the grounds white would rather have his queen on c2, not d2.

9.Bg3 Nh5  The unusual 9…Qb6!? is interesting here too. 10. Qc2 Nc6 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. a3 Rfc8 with counterplay.

10.d5 f5 And here 10…Qa5 11. Nd2 Nxg3 12. hxg3 Bf5! offers an interesting game; black does not mind white weakening the dark squares considering his unopposed king bishop in the event of e3-e4.

11.Nd2 Nxg3 12.hxg3 Nd7 Offbeat but not ridiculous is 12…Na6!? 13. a3 Bd7!? 

13.Qc2 Nf6 14.f4 e6 15.fxg5 hxg5 16.dxe6 Bxe6 17.O-O-O Now, as if by magic, white has a strong initiative.  We have to credit white’s unusual system because the non-obvious variations above are all difficult to spot. After making some hackneyed KID moves (hunting down white’s QB and playing f5 to expose his own king) Black is in a very difficult situation.  GM Lein used to torture US Juniors in this line.  It must be a Soviet specialty. I did something like this as black against Lein Lone Pine ’80 (play rote moves and get a bad game) and also in my game I missed a win later when white overpressed.  Weird!

17…a6 18.g4! Qd7?! Since 18…fxg4 19. Bd3 is so bad for black, it’s hard to call it an improvement.  Nevertheless, the text puts the BQ on a very unfortunate square.

19.Rdf1 Now white is well on the road to victory with a huge edge.  I left the playing hall at this point having observed this dismal tableau for black.  But look what happens!  In fact, this phase might be characterized as a “hustle”  – Jaan starts missing win after win in the moves that follow; perhaps in the ‘anything wins’ mode?

19…fxg4 20.Bd3 The simple 20. Nd5! gets rid of black’s light square bishop and then the black king is fairly well toasted.  For example, 20…Bxd5 21. cxd5 b5 22. Bd3 is horrific for black.  For those who like tactics, here is a pleasing one:  21. cxd5 c4 22. Nxc4! Rac8 23. Kb1 b5 24. Bd3!! Rf7 25. Bh7+ Kf8 26. Nb6! splat!  The text move also gives white a big edge.

Position after 20. Bd3 — Something has gone very wrong from black’s point of view.

One of the things that makes Grandmasters strong is their vast experience with all kinds of opening systems.  Take for example the one Ehlvest played in this game (an old favorite of safety-first ex-World Champ Vassily Smyslov).  Liu played what so far seem to be quasi-normal moves and the diagram above looks like a simul crush.  I won’t embarrass either participant further with more diagrams, since the game degenerates now into an insane blunderfest.

20…Kf7 21. Run away!  But this shouldn’t have helped.

21.Nde4?! Ehlvest’s first (of many) failures to end the game in his favor quickly. 21. Bf5! is completely crushing.  Here’s a disgusting variation: 21. Bf5! Ke7 22. Bxe6 Qxe6 23. Qg6 Rf7 24. Rh7!  and black must resign in view of 24…Nxh7 25. Nd5+.  For sadists, examine the punching bag nature of 21. Bf5! Bxf5 22. Rxf5 Ke7 (what else?) 23. Rhf1 Qe6 24. Qd3 with total paralysis. 24…Rae8 25. Rxg5 Bh8 26. Rg6 Kd7 27. Nd5 Rf7 28. Rf4! Ref8 29. Re4! Nxe4 30. Nb6+!  (That devilish knight!) 30…Ke7 31. Rxe6+ and wins.

21…Ke7 22.Nxg5 Kd8 Necessary.

23.Bf5! Better late than never.

23…Bxf5 24.Rxf5 Kc7 25.Rd1? Extremely careless. 25. Rhf1 is overski:  25…Qe8 26. Qd3 Kc6 27. Nd5 and wins.  Black is paralyzed.

25…b6 26.Kb1 Rae8 White has bungled and almost his entire edge is gone.

27.e4 Qc6? Quite weak.  27…Kb8 is correct.

28.Rdf1?! Not the right timing.  28. Qf2! is right with a big edge after 28…Kb7 29. Qf4 or 28…Kb8 29. Qf4.

28…Kb7 29.a4?! 29. Nd5! is correct.

29…Nd7 30.Nd5 Rxf5? 30…Bd4 is much tougher.  The text allows a nice white win.

31.exf5 Nf6 32.Ne6?? White finishes it with 32. Nxf6 Bxf6 33. Nh7! – an elegant conclusion.  Black can limp on with 33…d5 (forced, any bishop move is crushed by f5-f6) 34. cxd5 Qd6 35. Nxf6 Qxf6 36. Qd3 and white should convert easily.  Was Ehlvest simply underestimating his young opponent after encountering very little resistance in the opening?

Bh8 33.Qd1? White is still winning after 33. Nec7 Rc8 (33…Re5 34. Nxf6 Bxf6 35. Nd5! also loses) 34. Rh1 Qd7 35. Nxf6 Bxf6 36. Nd5 Be5 37. e6! and wins.

33… b5 34.axb5? 34. Qb3! keeps a serious edge.

34…axb5 35.Qb3 35. Ndc7! is also strong here.  The weird thing is white is still better after the prior missed opportunities, but watch!

35…b4 36.Rh1?? A real lu-lu.  36.  Qd3! Nxd5 37. cxd5 Qa4 38. f6 b3 39. Qh7+!  Kb6 40. Qc7+ Ka6 41. Qxd6+ wins for white.  36…Kc8 is relatively best but white is still well on top. Clearly Ehlvest visualized something like this in his mind but his timing in the game is all vershimmelt.  36. Qd3 Kb8 is relatively best for black, but once again after 37. Ndc7! white is much better.

36..Nxd5 37.cxd5 Qd7 For the first time, black is back in it.  And here, 37…Qa6! was quite good with the idea of Ra8 and black is on the offense.

38.Qc4 Rc8? Time trouble?   38…Ra8! 39. Qxg4 Qb5!! 40. Qe4 Kb6!! and black has a huge attack!  But wait:  38….Ra8! 39. Rh7!! Qxh7 40. Qb5+ and a sudden perpetual check draw!   It would, of course, be difficult for white to reconcile himself to a draw after black’s opening butcheries.

39.Rh6 Ra8?! 39…Qa4! and white has to press the panic button with 40. Rh1 Ra8 41. Nxc5+! with a perpetual check, or 40…Kb6! (again this nice move) with a continued attack and no immediate draw.

40.Qe4?? White must have been in time trouble too.  40. f6!  is met by the nice bail-out sacrifice 40…Bxf6! 41. Rxf6 Qh7+ 42. Kc1 Qh1+ 43. Kc2 Qh1+ 44. Kb3 Qh3+ and this is a very pleasing perpetual check draw.

40…Qa4?? I am convinced, both sides were in serious time trouble.  Here, black had 40…Ra1+ 41. Kxa1 Qa4+ 42. Kb1 Qd1+ 43. Ka2 b3+ mating, or 41. Kc2 Qa4+ 42. Kd2 Bc3+! and now we’re in junior tactic land and black wins white’s queen for starters.

41.Nxc5+ Some good fortune for Ehlvest.  41…dxc5 42. Qe7+ is curtains. Lucky!  1-0

The moral of the story is, it’s not good to miss win after win.  One of them must be played!


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New York International 2008

June 25, 2008

The Basics

The first-ever New York International 2008, a nine round masters’ Swiss, was held at the venerable Marshall CC, on 23 W 10 St in Manhattan from June 21 to 25, 2008 and drew quite a strong field.   Dr. Frank Brady was in attendance and Nick Conticello and Steve Immitt directed.  Monroi coverage was intermittent.   GM Alejandro Ramirez (Costa Rica) and GM Jaan Ehlvest GM Mark Paragua wound up tying for first.   The last round was very exciting.  Ramirez ground down GM Sergey Erenburg in a superior rook and bishops of opposite colors ending with separated passed pawns. GM Mark Paragua could only draw Elliot Liu in a sharp Schveningen where Liu did an early bum’s rush with g2-g4 but still wound up tying for first and then defeated Ramirez in a tiebreak Armageddon blitz game.  Ehlvest beat Mackenzie Molner (who himself needed a win for a GM norm) — an interesting win on the black side of a Keres Attack that I will post later.  Yuri Lapshun and I were puzzling over Ehlvest’s Estonian scoresheet, but fortunately Steve Immitt had it on Monroi.   The strength of the event is evidenced by the fact that a mere 5 out of 9 was good enough for Molner’s norm.

And when I left, GM Becerra was still slogging for a top prize, torturing IM Sarkar in an objectively drawn ending (R  and rook pawn against Bishop and rook pawn) but in sudden death anything can happen, and in fact did, since I see Becerra won it (rather improbably).

Here was a position from Becerra-Sarkar from when I was watching.

Excerpt from Becerra-Sarkar (black to move)

The first move that occurred to me was …h6.  This pawn, if immune, destroys any white winning hopes!  And it does appear immune.   But Sarkar didn’t do it.  I did not understand why Sarkar did not build an impregnable defensive line with ….h7-h6!.  After this move, white can certainly attack the pawn on h6 but he can never take it with either king or rook and hope to win, because the e-pawn will move to e2, opening up a discovered attack.  The e-pawn will cost white’s rook and it will be a draw. I see absolutely no winning attempt for white after …h6!.

In the game, Sarkar *never* played h6.  Furthermore, when his king was boxed in, he felt it necessary to give up his passed pawn entirely by playing e3-e2 to give the bishop room.  The position then became problem-like with white able to set up various zugzwang motifs.  White did win eventually in a game important for the final standings.  The moral in sudden-death:  locate one iron-clad draw and go for it!  Waffling around just leads to trouble  This advice also applied to an early round.  Blogster Jon Jacobs was playing GM Mark Paragua and had a great game throughout.  After some Paragua trickery, black won an ending narrowly. the game became dead drawn, but Jacobs was low on time.  Paragua tried one last attempt and Jacobs could not orient himself to go for the iron-clad drawing formation. I will post that excerpt shortly; it is instructive.

In the game, white tried to retain an extra pawn when in fact by letting it go he would reach the draw.  Note that the opportunistic Paragua needed this little bit of luck here and in other games (every tournament winner does!) to wind up in the top spots.  Here is the game; it is instructive.

Jon Jacobs – Mark Paragua, Round 1.  Reti Opening.

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 Bg4 4.O-O Nd7 5.d4 e6 6.Bf4 Ngf6 7.Nbd2 Qb6 8.c4 Bxf3 9.Nxf3 dxc4 10.Qc2 Nd5 11.Bd2 Qa6 12.Rfc1 b5? Of course this is terrible. Tournament winners need luck in the first round!  12…Bb4 would keep the game in reasonable boundaries.

13.b3?! Black has a horrible game after 13. a4! Qb7 14. axb5 axb5 15. Ng5!.   In fact, white also has 15. b3! Rc8 16. e4 Nb4 17. Qb1 with enormous pressure.  A pleasant choice!  The problem for black is that his light square bishop, so sorely needed for the light square defense in the face of white’s mobile center, is not on the board anymore. The text keeps an edge but less than 13. a4!.  Here’s another instructive line.  13. a4! Qb6 14. axb5 cxb5 15. b3! cxb3 16. Qb3 and black not long for this world.  A possible defense 16…Be7 is crushed by 17. e4 N5f6 18. Ba5! Qa6 (18…Qb8 19. Nh4 wins; 18…Qb7 19. Rc7 wins) 19. e5 (19. Ne5 also wins) 19…Nd5 20. Nd2! and white wins.  Black can’t get out of the bind.

13…Ba3 14.bxc4! Of course.  White has a big edge.  Just not as big as the previous note.

14…Bxc1 15.cxd5 Bxd2 16.dxc6 Nb6 17.Nxd2 O-O 18.Rb1? Strong is 18. Ne4! Nd5 19. Nd6. For example, 19…Rad8 20. Qc5! Nc7 21. Nb7 with a huge bind.

18…Rac8 19.Qb3 Nd5?? Very weak.  Correct is 19…Rfd8! 20. e3 Nd5 and black is better and the same verdict is true for 20. Qd3 Nd5.

20.e4 Oops!  Black allows the P/c6 to live and he will be suffering.

20…Nc7 21.d5 Rfd8 22.Nf1 White has a big edge again.

22…Qb6 23.Ne3 Qc5 24.h4?! The most efficient is 24. Qb2! with the idea of Rc1.

24…a5 25.h5 This pawn demonstration was uncalled for.  Once again, 25. Qb2!

25…h6?! 25….b4!

26.Qd1 26. Qb2!

26…a4 26…b4!

27.Rc1 Qa3 28.Rc2 Ne8? Black carelessly allows a surprising shot.  I suspect he was playing on his opponent’s time shortage.   He had to hunker down with 28…Qe7! with a defensible game.


White had 29. e5! exd5 30. Bh3! d4 31. Bxc8 d3 32. Rd2 with a huge edge. Or, 30…Rc7? 31. Nxd5 and white will win in short order.

29…Qb4 30.Qd3 Nc7 31.Rd2 Qd6?! An unforced retreat.  Better was 31…a3! leaving the queen in the nice b4 spot .

32.Qd4! f6 33.Rd3?! Too hesitant. This is probably time trouble.  The aggressive 33. f4! is extremely strong.  Black has a terrible game after 33…exd5 34. exd5 or 34. Bh3! Qxc6 35. Rc2! Qe8 36. exd5.

33…Na6?! 33…Re8 is a tougher defense.

34.Qa7 The careful 34. Rd1 also leaves white better with the idea of the strong Bf1-h3!

34…Nb4 34…Nc5  35. dxe6 Nxd3 36. Qf7+ transposes to the game.

35.dxe6! 35. Rd1! also gives white a big edge.  For example, 35…Ra8 36. Qb6 Rdb8 37. Qd4 Nxa2? 38. Bh3! and white wins.  This Bh3! idea is always very annoying for black.  The text is fine too but a little tricky.

35…Nxd3 36.Qf7+  Kh8 37.Nf5 Qf8 38.Qxf8 Rxf8 39.Bxd3?? Must be time trouble.  39. e7! first is winning for white with accurate play.  The reason is 39…Rfe8 (39…Rg8 40. Bxd3 is great for white too) 40. Bxd3! and black cannot take on c6. The following variation is nice: 40…b4! 41. Nd6! Rxe7 42. Nxc8 Rc7 (optically black has play, but white controls the board) 43. Nb6! b3 44. axb3 cxb3 45. Na4! Rxc6 46. Kf1! Rc1+ 47. Ke2 Ra1 48. Nc3 and white coordinates fantastically and should win.

39…Rxc6 40.e7 Rb8! The opportunistic Paragua has chances to get an edge again in this crazy game.  Did I mention tournament winner’s luck?

41.Bxb5 Re6 42.Bxa4 Rxe4 43.Bc6 Re5 44.g4?? One has to feel sorry for white missing so many nice things in the game.   The beautiful 44. Nh4!! is a great move.  After 44…Re1+, for example, 45. Kg2 black is completely stymied and if the best he can do is 45…g6 46. Nxg6+ Kg8 it’s clear only white has chances. Note also that after 45…Kh7? 46. Ng6! and black is totally tied up!  If Paragua was playing white and had the luxury of all his extra time in the sudden death, he would bring the point home with something like 46…f5 47. f4! Re3 48. Kh3 Re2 49. g4! and white is making progress.

44…Rb1+ 45.Kg2 Rbe1! Paragua is not going to let white wriggle around anymore.  His plan is inexorable.

46.Kg3 Kg8 47.Kf4 Rxf5 48.Kxf5 Re5 49.Kf4 Rxe7 50.Bd5 Kf8 51.Bc4 Re5 52.Bb3 Ke7 53.Bc4 Kd6 54.Bb3 Kc5 55.Bf7 Kd4 56.Bb3 f5! I didn’t comment on the previous chaotic adventures, which looked incredibly suspicious for black. At the time I thought this was holdable for white, but he cannot organize a king run to the queenside in time without dropping the weak kingside pawns. Of course this position is fine for white, but the text for black unexpectedly works. Let’s see this position.

Position after 56…f5! – “Winning Try” ??? Black does indeed win

57.gxf5 I am surprised to say there is no defense even with this limited material. . White must have been totally disoriented and makes the worst response to black’s  attempt. Black had the idea if 57. g5, black has 57…Re4+ 58. Kxf5 Re5+ 59. Kg6 Rxg5+ and continues to fight.  But after Even 57. f3! does not save it. , keeping the pawn chain, here is the idea:   white will play gxf5 now if black lets him.  There is no more Re4+.  Suppose 57. f3! fxg4 58. fxg4.  Well, there is no win.  White can simply play his bishop from b3 to g8 and back again just waiting.  If black gets too cute, g4-g5 will be possible in some lines and that will draw immediately as too many pawns leave the board.   I don’t see any winning attempt for black. Note the similarities between this  exchange-down should-be-drawn game and the last round Sarkar exchange-down should-be-drawn bungle above – if iron-clad draws are passed up, letting the other side continue to fight, time pressure will decide the outcome!

Here is a sample line.  57. f3 fxg4 58. fxg4 Rb5! 59. Be6 Rb1! and black prevents g4-g5.  White will have to give ground with 60. Bb3 Rf1+ 61. Kg3 Ke4 62. Be6 Rf3+ 63. Kh4 Kf4 and black is on the road to winning since g5 is ruled out and the a-pawn is going nowhere.   Continuing, 64. Bb3 Rg3 65. Be6 Rg1! 66. Kh3 Rh1+ 67. Kg2 Re1! illustrates the zugzwang theme where white cannot hang on to both a2 and g4.

MG Note 6/29/08:  Jacobs offers a winning plan for black after 57. f3 in his comments.  The ending is very instructive and it appears white cannot hold it!  Black can get to the key dark squares using his king and rook and white’s a-pawn is immobile – if it advances, it will be lost.   A drawing formation is white’s king guarding a-pawn and white bishop parked on f5 but that requires too many moves and he can’t achieve it.

57…Re4+ 58.Kg3 Ke5 Black’s main point.  White’s king is cut off and black can angle to make a passed pawn.

59.Be6 Rb4 60.Bd7 Rd4 61.Be6 Rd1 62.Kg2 Kf4 63.Bb3 Rc1 64.Be6 Kg5 65.Bf7 Kxf5 66.Kg3 Rc3 67.f3 Kg5 68.Be8 Ra3 69.Bf7 Ra4 70.Kf2 Ra7 0-1 As referenced above, tournament winner’s luck!

Sergey Erenburg, a solid GM, simply made too many draws and then had the last round disappoinment against the focused, well-playing, Ramirez.

Mackenzie Molner and Elliot Liu made IM norms.  Elliot in particular made an improbable comeback after losing early to Vovsha and (in an absurd mutual blunder-fest) to Ehlvest, beating among others IM Almeida, GM Palermo, and GM R. Gonzales in a surprising run.   In the R. Gonzales game, Reinier was unrecognizable, losing quickly as white in a King’s Indian Attack (too much talking on the stairwell with buddies?).

I won a game in Round 1 vs NM Roy Greenberg then went luke-warm, drawing Reinier Gonzales, Dean Ippolito, Sergey Erenburg, Michael Rohde, and Alfonse Almeida.  I sustained one loss to Justin Sarkar.

Here’s a tough Round 4 battle.

GM S. Erenburg – IM M. Ginsburg, Round 4.  Sicilian Pelikan

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 e5 8.Bg5 a6 9.Na3 Be6 10.Nc4 Rc8!? I was successful with a TN in this unusual system defeating future GM Joel Benajmin in 1981! That game made its way into Batsford Chess Openings, in a section ghost-authored by Jon Tisdall and me.

11.Ne3 If this game is evidence, 11. Nd5!? is more critical.  However, I did succeed against Richard Costigan in the 1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate after 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 (12. Qxd5!?) Ne7.

11…Qb6! This is the real TN in the 11. Ne3 system, introduced before Sergey was born!  (Sergey is 26).

Position after 11…Qb6!  (TN in 1981)

12.Rb1 If 12. Bxf6, Qxb2! first is fine for black.   For example, 13. Ned5 Bxd5 14. Nxd5 Nb4! (a very strong in-between move) 15. Bd3 (forced) 15…Nxd5 16. exd5 Qc3+! and black, by inconveniencing white’s king, is fireproof.  The most likely result is a draw but black is not in danger.

12…Nxe4! The point and an easy move to miss!

13.Nxe4 h6 14.Bc4 If 14. Bh4 Qb4+! regains the piece through this unusual piece line-up on the fourth rank.  A very strange tactic!  In the 1981 game, Joel played 14. c3 and gained some compensation for the pawn after 14…hxg5 15. Bc4 Nd8! 16. Bb3  Be7 although black is fine there.

14…Bxc4 15.Nxc4 Qb4+ 16.Ncd2 hxg5 17.c3 Qb5 18.Qg4 Rd8 19.c4 Qb6 20.Qxg5 d5! Completely equalizing by removing any “holes” the white knights might jump to; now I just have to be a little careful in the ending, but black’s position is very solid.

21.cxd5 Rxd5 22.O-O Qd8 23.Qxd8 Kxd8 24.Rfd1 f6 25.Nc3 Rd7 26.Nb3 Rh4! Using the open h-file.

27.a3 Rc4 28.Nd5 Bc5 29.Rd2 Ba7 30.Rbd1 Nd4 31.Ne3 Rcc7 32.Nxd4 Bxd4 33.Kf1 Bxe3 34.fxe3 White thought about the pawn ending here, but there’s nothing in it since there is no distant pawn majority.

34…Rxd2 35.Rxd2 Ke7 36.Kf2 f5 37.e4 g6 38.Kf3 Ke6 39.g3 Rc4 40.exf5 gxf5 41.h4 Rg4 42.Rh2 Kf6 43.h5 e4+ 44.Kf2 Rg7 45.h6 Rh7 At this point, white needs to play the “bail out” drawing continuation of the game or lose ignominously.

46.g4 f4 47.Rh5 Kg6 48.Rf5! Not 48. Re5?? Kxh6 49. Rxe4 Kg5! and black wins.

48…Rxh6 49.Rxf4 Rh2 50.Ke3 Rxb2 51.Rxe4 Kg5 1/2-1/2

I recouped a little bit with a second victory:

Here it is, an amusing game vs NM Pavel Treger (2247).

IM M. Ginsburg – NM P. Treger   English Opening  Round 8

I had just come off a bad loss to IM Sarkar in round 7 and was looking to recover.

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 e4? 4. Ng5 b5 A dubious gambit popularized by Juan Bellon in the 1970s.

Position after 4….b5 – An unsound gambit.  But he’s already committed by his bad third move 3….e4?

Early experiences for white saw some games with 5. cxb5? d5 and black’s play is fully justified.  Unfortunately there is a hidden total refutation.

5. d3! This is it.  Both 5….bxc4 6. Ngxe4 and 5…exd3 6. cxb5 are bad for black.

5….exd3 6. cxb5 h6 7. Nf3 dxe2 8. Bxe2 White is hugely better.

8…Bb7 9. O-O Bd6? Now it gets worse.  Black blocks his own d-pawn and puts himself in virtual zugzwang.

10. Nd4 g6 A horrible weakening but Nd4-f5 cannot be tolerated.  Black is lost.

11. Bf3 Qc8 12. Re1+ Kf8  13. b3! The b2-h8 diagonal beckons.

13…Bb4  14. Bb2 d5 A panic reaction to try to seal things up and develop.  White does not give black a chance.

15. Nc6!  Bxc6 16. Qd4! In the style of FJ Marshall. This lethal zwischenzug is immediately decisive.  Black’s king will find no refuges.


Position after 16…Be7.  Crunch time.

17. Rxe7! Of course.  Black could resign.  But Treger likes to play until mate.

17…Kxe7 18. Nxd5+ Of course white also has 18. Re1+ winning.  However, it is always necessary to choose one win in a game.  Amusingly, 18. Qxf6+ Kxf6 19. Nxd5 double check is ALMOST forced mate in the ancient style of FJ Marshall. It comes close, but no cigar.

18…Nxd5 19. Ba3+! Keeping black’s king in the deadly central zone.

19…Kd8 Other moves such as 19…Kd7? 20. bxc6+ lose even faster.  Now black hopes to toddle on with 20. Qxh8+ Kd7 (where white wins of course) – but white has better.

20. Bxd5! Black’s king is toast.  Treger, since he plays until mate, now plays a move to maximize the game’s length.

Position after 20. Bxd5 – Black to play and maximize the game assuming he plays until mate

20…..Qg4 This doesn’t ruin the game because more humorous motifs occur.  The problem was that 20…Bxd5 21. Qf6+ is mate next move.

21. Qxg4 Bxd5 22. Rd1 c6 23. bxc6 Kc7 Did I mention Treger never resigns?

24. Qf4+ Kc8 25. Rxd5 Re8 Black threatens mate!  His first threat!

26. Kf1 f5 27. Qd6 a6 28. c7 Kb7

29. cxb8=R+! There was no queen handy.  Underpromotion!  A total game!

29…Raxb8 30. Qd7+ Ka8 31. Qc6+ Rb7 32. Qxe8+ Rb8 33. Qc6+ Rb7 34. Rd8+ Ka7 35. Bc5+ Rb6

At this point I stopped to take inventory of all the mates in one.

How many mates?

I played the most obtuse one.  The readers should not get the idea this tournament was a kindergarten, in fact there were many hard fought games among GMs Erenburg, Palermo, Ramirez, Kudrin, Gonzales, etc.

36. Qd7 mate.  1-0

Here’s round 1 vs NM Roy Greenberg.  Factoid:  Jay Bonin revealed he went to college with Roy.

Roy Greenberg (2245 FIDE) – M. Ginsburg.  Round 1, Nimzo Indian.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 c5 5. e3? Yuck!   To get anywhere, white must play 5. d5.

Position after 5. e3?

5….cxd4 Of course black is also better after 5…d5.

6. exd4 d5 7. a3 Bxc3+ Very playable is the more aggressive 7…Bd6.

8. bxc3 Qa5 9. Bd2 O-O 10. cxd5 Qxd5!? 11. Bd3 e5  12. Ne2 exd4 13. c4! The best chance to make some confusion.  White gains some compensation with a small king-side initiative.

13…Qd8 14. O-O Nc6 15. Rc1 Re8 16. Bg5 Qa5!? The most radical way to break the pin.  Black accepts the deformation of the pawn structure to gain some key dark squares, in particular e3 for his rook.

17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Ng3 Re3! 19. Be4 Qc5 20. Kh1 Ne7 21. Qd2? Too passive.  Black now gains a huge initiative by cementing the rook on e3.

21…f5 22. Bb1 Be6 23. Rfd1 Re8 24. a4 Nc6 25. Nf1 f4! 26. Qc2 For the time being, white leaves the rook alone but he can’t ignore it for long.

26…f5 27. Qf2 Qe5! Centralization.

28. Qh4 Re7 29. Nxe3 fxe3 30. f4 Qg7 31. Rf1 Qg4 Getting the queens off gives black a great ending with monster passed pawns.

32. Qf6 Qg6 33. Qh4 Rg7 34. g4? A hallucination which speeds white’s demise.  But it’s black for choice anyway with the center passers.

34…Qxg4  35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. h3 Rg7 37. Rfd1 Kf7 White can’t move anything and could have resigned.

38. Bd3 Kf6 39. Be2 Rd7 40. Kg2 Nb4! The knight coordinates ideally with the black bishop from here.

41. Bd3 Bf7! With nasty threats.

42. Kf1 a5! Cementing the knight.  Games are not usually this pleasant.

43. c5 Nominally an error but it didn’t matter.

43…Bb3  0-1

Watch this spot.  I will post games vs GM Rohde, GM Erenburg, IM Sarkar, IM Almeida, IM Ippolito, and more.

Postscript:  Marshall’s Head and What’s the Most Peculiar Thing?

From this E. Vicary report at US Chess Online, we have quiz problem #9:

9. What’s peculiar about the bust of Frank Marshall on display at his namesake chess club?

Vicary’s Solution

Someone stuck rhinestones in Frank’s eyes many years ago, reportedly to “make him look prettier.” They have never been removed.

Well, I wouldn’t say that’s the most peculiar thingMore peculiar (perhaps!) is that a crew of maniacs stole the head in the 1980s, causing a general freak-out amongst the Board of Directors.  Then the maniacs crept back in a few weeks later (again using an open window) with the heavy head in tow – perhaps having deemed it was not of general interest.   However, in attempting to put it back where it belonged, they stepped on a glass coffee table and broke it.  More general freak-out occurred.   It was grand nevertheless to see FJ’s head back on its pedestal. 

An Important Game from 1979

September 24, 2007

In March 1979 Michael Rohde took a big step toward U.S. Chess stardom – he made his first GM result at the Marshall Chess Club!  The tourney was also notable for Eugene Meyer’s 2nd IM norm and Larry Kaufman’s 1st IM norm.

Here is the NY Times article (by GM Robert Byrne). Click to enlarge.

The game itself seemed to go in a predictable path:

Plaskett was over-aggressive, Rohde picked up a few pawns, and won by taking advantage of Plaskett’s over-exposed King.

But behind the scenes, another player on an adjacent board (who was finished with his game) was analyzing and moving the pieces around, generally being distracting, during this featured NY Times game. Rohde asked him to stop, and the 3rd party took offense. Words were exchanged, the situation became ultra-tense, and it almost came to an all-out fight. The TD was summoned and this tense game’s clocks were stopped. Future GM Jim Plaskett was shocked (being British, does this happen in the UK?) and when things got underway again he offered no meaningful resistance and lost quickly.

Viva USA!  Barroom brawls do have a place in our chess culture.  Note in the NY Times article Byrne committed the common typo of Rhode (like Rhode Island).

Plaskett (UK) – Rohde (USA)  Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cd 5. N:d4 Qc7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. f4 d6 8. Be3 Be7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Qf3 Nc5 11. Rae1 O-O 12. Qg3 b5 13. e5 dxe5 14. dxe5 Ne8 Forced. If 14…Nfd7?? 15. Bh6 wins.

I am not sure when the near-fisticuffs broke out but I do know it was before Plaskett was dead lost.

15. Ne4 15. Be4!? Nxe4 16. Nxe4 Bb7 17. Bg5 Rd8 and black defends.

15…Nxd3 16. cxd3 Bb7 17. Rc1 Qd8 18. Nc6? Correct is 18. Nc5 and white is slightly better after e.g. 18…Bd5 19. b3.

18…Bxc6 19. Rxc6 Qd5! 20. Rfc1?! The simplest way was 20. Bc5! Qxc6 21. Bxe7 Nc7 and chances are balanced.  If 20…Bxc5+?! 21. Rxc5 Qxa2?! white gets the edge after 22. Nf6+! Kg8 (22…Nxf6? 23. exf6 g6 24. Qe3 Kh8 25. Qh6 Rg8 26. Rf3 just wins for white as 26..Qb1+ is met by the simple 27. Rc1) 23. Nd7! Rg8 24. Qf2!

20…Qxa2 21. Rc7? This ridiculous combination is unsound and loses quickly.  Even at this late juncture, White had the interesting resource 21. Nc5! threatening 22. Nd7 trapping the rook.  Then if 21…Rd8 22. b4! Qb2 23. Qf4 the entire game lies ahead.

21…Nxc7 22. Rxc7 Qb1+ 23. Kf2 Q:d3 Black is completely winning by the simplest of means; simply capturing things while at the same time centralizing his pieces.

24. Qf4 f6! The computer has black up by 5.82 “points” now.  Ouch.  Its not often you see the defensive side switch entirely over to the attack in one half-move.

25. exf6 A pleasing side-variation: if 25. Rc3 Qd5 26. Kg3 g5! 27. Qf3 fxe5 28. Qg4 Rf4!! 29. Bxf4 exf4+ 30. Kf3 Qd1+ and wins white’s queen!

25…B:f6 26. Kg3 Bh4+! and white resigns.  Now the margin is 14.06 “points”, reminiscent of a football game.


Hopefully the reader gets a sense for how quickly Plaskett dried up and blew away.

Caught Between Two Chess Clubs

September 17, 2007

This just in from the new US Chess Life website – an article titled “Fischer: Fame to Fallout” by Al Lawrence. I cite this paragraph where Bill Goichberg is quoted:

Running back-and-forth across the street to play in two tournaments at once

“At the peak, all kinds of people were going into the chess business,” Goichberg remembered. “Parlors, clubs, even full-time clubs were popping up in unlikely places, like Poughkeepsie. I used to hold a quad at the Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens. Some newcomer began holding tournaments at the same time at the YMCA across the street! One player entered both, running back and forth across the street to make moves in two games at once. I don’t think he did very well.” — Bill Goichberg

This is pretty funny because in the 1980s, it became a one-time practice (not a common practice, mind you, but definitely a viable option) to run/jog/walk fast between the Bar Point Club at 6th Avenue and 14th Street (amusingly and coincidentally, considering the above quote, Bill Goichberg was the Bar Point’s owner during one interval in the 1980s) and the venerable Marshall Chess Club at 23 West 10 Street. This was not a very short distance – in other words, it was inconvenient to jog between the two sites when several games were in progress.

In one such absurd situation, I was playing Robert Feldstein in a quad at the Bar Point in a fast time control game. Feldstein was enjoying a quarter pounder with cheese at the board, he was dead lost, and he was definitely not resigning. The complication here was (due to not-staggered-enough round times) that I was playing IM Walter Shipman at the same time, in a much slower time control game, at the Marshall Chess Club in a more “serious” masters tournament. In a feat of athletic stupidity, I started trotting between the two venues. Finally, Feldstein resigned a ridiculous position and I was able to make my final run back to the Shipman game, panting and sweaty. I was able to settle down and play Walter ‘heads-up’ successfully in a long ending. I don’t think the Marshall saw anything so ridiculous until the statue of Marshall’s head disappeared (temporarily) a year later.

I never tried this stunt again. But it seems like something a young Fischer would have done if he was … caught between two chess clubs. Am I right?

Everybody sing now:

Caught between two chess clubs,

Feelin’ like a fool,

Cuz playing 2 simultaneous chess games,

Is breakin’ sportsmanlike rules!

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.