Archive for the ‘The 1970s’ Category

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 70s: The Anatoly Lein Chamber of Horrors

April 7, 2010

In the 1970s GM Anatoly Lein was a most feared competitor in US Swisses (along with his compatriot ex-patriot GM Leonid Shamkovich).  This dynamic duo ran rampart tearing up the field in many a major event.  It’s funny that back home, these feared emigres would not be favored to place in the upper half of a Soviet championship; it showed the difference in training very well.

The Man!

Lein had an imposing aura at the chessboard and was a burly, weight-lifting fellow. Here are some Lein games from the 1976 US Open in Fairfax, VA.  I learned, from ChessBase, that Denker’s middle name was Sheldon!  Imagine that.

[Event “US op”]
[Site “Fairfax”]
[Date “1976.??.??”]
[Round “12”]
[White “Lein, Anatoly”]
[Black “Denker, Arnold Sheldon”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “E27”]
[WhiteElo “2515”]
[BlackElo “2325”]
[EventDate “1976.??.??”]
[EventType “swiss”]
[EventRounds “12”]
[EventCountry “USA”]

I am not exactly sure how the lowly rated Denker finagled a GM title eventually but perhaps it was a homage to his lifetime contributions to chess in a general  sense as opposed to specific results.  I recall in the 70s and 80s there were a fair amount of “trade deals” going on between Federations where various players without enough norms (or any norms!) would get reciprocal titles to satisfy both parties.  If I am not mistaken, I think Mednis and Soltis got a title like that (with deficient and/or insufficient norms), but I need to check that.  Mednis was the quintessential journeyman although one cannot forget he managed to beat Bobby Fischer (Fischer often had freak-outs vs the Winawer before he righted his own ship in the Fischer-Larsen candidates match, where his treatments of  Winawers were on a higher plane). Deals were possible because often a USSR title contender simply had no chances to play in norm-creation events yet had an absurdly high ELO rating.  (I once played Bareev before he was a GM and his ELO was 2585!).  Thus the USSR would have their guy and we would have our somewhat deficient guy and a deal was struck. On the other hand, some candidates of ours were rock solid such as Jim Tarjan who proved himself by winning a strong US Championship. The FIDE back-room deals were frequent and hard to follow.  And, in a perverse turn of events, sometimes the USCF leadership (inept and/or corrupt) would neglect to apply for a legitimate title if they had personality problems with the applicant!

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 O-O 6. Bg5 d6 7. f3 c5 8. e4 Qa5 9. Qd2 cxd4
It’s really not good to undouble the white c-pawns like this in a Saemisch, giving white the bishop pair for free.  Too much respect?

10. cxd4 Nc6 11. Ne2 h6 12. Be3 Bd7 13. Nc3 Rfc8 14. Be2 e5 15. d5 Nd4 16. Bxd4 exd4 17. Qxd4 b5 Coffeehouse play… white, as befits a solid USSR player, calmly develops and black runs out of steam.

18. O-O bxc4 19. Rfc1 Qc5 20. Qxc5 Rxc5 21. Rcb1 Kf8 22. Kf2 Rac8 23. Rb7 Ra5 24. a4 Be8 25. f4 Nd7 26. Bg4 Rb8 27. Rxd7 Bxd7 28. Bxd7 Rb2+ 29. Kf3 Ra6 30. a5 Rb3 31. Bb5! Splat!

Ut oh

31…Rxc3+ 32. Ke2 Rc2+ 33. Ke3

Did you enjoy the rather sadistic entombing of black’s rook on a6? I did, Lein did, probably his opponent did not.  This game was a complete walk-over and not a real test for Lein although it did, according to the database, occur in the last (money) round.

Moving right along to 1977, here is how Lein derailed my red-hot start at the World Open.  This game is not in conventional databases (somebody feel free to add it!).

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.03”]
[Round “7”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark” 2212]
[Black “Lein, Anatoly” 2507]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A07”]

The ratings are given as a historical curiosity.  Note that in 1977, Lein’s rating of 2507 was absolutely astronomical.

1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6 3. Nf3 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. d3 O-O 6. Nbd2 a5 7. e4 a4! An exclam for weirdness.  I could not predict any of his moves around here.

8. a3 Nc6 9. e5 Nd7 10. Re1 b5 11. Nf1 Na5 12. Nd4 c6 13. f4 Qb6 14. Be3 c5 15. Nf3 Nb8 16. g4 Nbc6 17. Ng3 f6 18. Qe2 fxe5 19. fxe5 Bd7 20. h4 b4 21. Kh2? Nd4!  Oops! Now white has a very bad game.  Typical of juniors, though, I just battled on and soon I got my chance!

22. Nxd4 cxd4 23. Bg5 Bxg5 24. hxg5 b3 25. Rac1 bxc2?! (25… Qd8! is cleaner) 26. Rxc2 Qd8 27. Nf5 Qxg5 28. Bxd5! (28. Rc7 Rad8 and black wins.  The text move is a very good practical try and at this point I had taken 82 minutes; the time control was the strange 40 moves in 110 minutes.  Black, on the other hand, spent 14 minutes on his reply moving him up to 87 minutes.  He also had a bit of a freak-out, demanding that the TD move us to a board far away from the stage (he said the stage was too noisy).  I didn’t object to this request. So off we moved and the game continued.

28… Qf4+? It’s not totally easy to see, but 28…Rac8! wins.

29. Kh3 exd5 30. e6?? A hallucination.  After the correct intermezzo 30. Rf1! Qg5 31. e6 Bb5 32. e7!  the excelsior e-pawn saves the day.  For example, 32…Rfe8 33. Qe6+ Kh8 34. Nd6 Qxe7 35. Nf7+ Kg8 36. Nh6+ Kh8 37. Nf7+ and a perpetual check.

30… Rxf5 This wins.  To show how bad white’s move was, 30… Rae8! won too.  But one must see 31. Rf1 Qb8! (only!) 32. Nxg7 Re7 33. Rxf8+ Qxf8 and wins.

31. exd7 Rff8 32. Qe8 Rd8 33. Rc8 Look at me, I have a lot of heavies on the 8th rank.  But it’s not enough, and I succumb to zugzwang and a slowly advancing black g-pawn!  Oh no!


33…Nb7! Basically white can give up already.  No more ideas!

34. Re7 g5! Come on, resign!  35. Re5 Qf3+ 36. Kh2 Qf2+ 37. Kh3 Qh4+ 38. Kg2 Qxg4+ 39. Kh2 Qf4+ 40. Kh1 Qf6 41. Re6 Qf1+ 42. Kh2 Qf7 43. Re5 Qf4+ 44. Kh1 g4 45. Qe6+ Kh8 46. Qe8 Qf1+ 47. Kh2 Qf2+ 48. Kh1 g3 49. Qxf8+ It’s rather sad that I didn’t know how to resign at this point.

49…Qxf8 50. Re8 Kg7 51. Rxf8 Kxf8 52. Rc7 Nd6 53. Rc5 Ke7 54. Rxd5 Ke6 55. Rxd4 Rxd7 56. Rxa4 Nf5 57. Re4+ Kf6 58. a4 Rxd3 59. Re1 Rd2 60. b4 Nh4 61. Rf1+ Kg5 62. Kg1 Rg2+ 63. Kh1 Rf2 64. Rg1 Rh2#

Another victim of the Anatoly Lein chamber of horrors!  I dropped off the leader board. As a digression, to show how I got *on* the leaderboard, here is my interesting Round 6 win over Canadian IM Lawrence Day.

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.03”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Day, Lawrence”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A04”]

1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. d3 e5 7. c3 Nge7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 b6 This setup for white isn’t bad, but over the next few moves he starts playing passively.

10. Be3 h6 11. Ne1 Be6 12. Nc2  Rc8 13. bxc5? (An inexplicable choice. 13. b5 Na5 is double-edged and certainly not worse for white)

13… dxc5 This is just very pleasant for black.

14. c4 f5  15. Nc3 f4 16. Bc1 Qd7  17. Nd5 g5?! The computer likes 17…Bh3 best.

18. Rb1 Bh3 19. f3 h5 19… Nxd5 20. exd5 Nd4 21. Nxd4 Bxg2 22. Kxg2 exd4 23. Re1 is pretty much zero for black.

20. Bb2 Rf7 Now it’s about equal again.

21. Rf2 Nxd5 22. cxd5 Ne7 23. Bxh3 24. Qf1 24… Qd7 (24… Qxf1+ 25. Kxf1 is level)

25. gxf4 exf4 26. Bxg7 (26. d4 Ng6 27. dxc5 bxc5 28. Qa6)

26… Rxg7 27. Kh1 (27. d4 is playable but also about equal)

27… Ng6  28. Qe2 g4  29. Rg1 Ne5 30. fxg4 f3  31. Rxf3? White freaks out.  Correct is 31. Qd2 equal.   However it’s a fairly harmless freak-out because black’s advantage in the subsequent position should not be large.

31… Nxf3 32. Qxf3 Rf8 33. Qe2 Rxg4 34. Ne3? This obvious move is in fact inaccurate.  Best is 34. Re1 and black is only a little better.

34… Rxg1+ 35. Kxg1 Qg7+ 36. Kh1 Qe5 37. a4  Kh7? What a terrible move!  Simply 37… Rf7 wins as white’s king is just too uncomfortable.

38. Nc4 Qg5 39. e5?? White spent 3 of his remaining 5 minutes of this losing lemon.  Correct was  39. Ne3 and there is work left to be done.

39…Qc1+ Not the fastest. I must have been playing against his clock, a typical youthful indiscretion. The easiest win was 39…h4 forming a mating net.  39… Rg8 also won. 

40. Kg2 Qg5+ 41. Kh1 Not 41. Kh3?  Rf4 and white has to give up right away.

41… h4! I see it!  Black wins now.

42. Qe4+ 42. h3 Qg3 wins after a few white queen checks.  

42… Kh8 43. Ne3 Rg8 {White Resigns.}


If 44. Ng2 (forced)  h3 45. Qh4+ (forced) 45… Qxh4 46. Nxh4 Rg4 47. Nf3 Rf4 48. Ng1 Rf5 and black cleans up white’s pawns and wins.  A very satisfying win for me.  Only, as you see above, to be rudely brought back to earth by Mr. Lein.

Lawrence Day, these days

When I played Day he had a head full of black, curly hair.  Tempus fugit!

The Fabulous 70s and The Fabulous 90s: Two Chestnuts

March 20, 2010

Chestnut 1

The scene:  Fairfax, VA.  1976 US Open.  Smoking allowed!  GM Bill Lombardy, 1957 World Junior Champion (he won every game), puffing away on a cigar versus young upstart John Fedorowicz.

Thanks to Bill Whited for finding this game.  I had confused it in another post on the US Open 1976 with a Lombardy-Diesen encounter.  I think the time control was the bizarre 50 moves in 150 minutes (need to check that).  I played in this event, drawing Wozney and Blocker (Ohio power!) but drawing an old lady (a photo of me vs. old lady graced the pages of The Washington Post).  The skittles room was dominated by a loud, blustery, rather irritating man who would shush people left and right – I later found out it was Hanken.  Smoke filled the tournament room.  Good times.  Trivia fact: Kurt Stein informs me that National HS Champ Ric Kaner was hassled/almost mugged in DC walking from a train station.

[Event “US op Fairfax (5), 1976”]
[Date “1976.08.??”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Lombardy, William”]
[Black “Fedorowicz, John P”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteElo “2520”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 Qb6 7. Nb3 e6 8. Be2 a6 9. O-O Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 10…gxf6! = has stood the test of time.

11. Qxd6 Black doesn’t have enough for the pawn but it’s entertaining.

11…Be5 12. Qd2 O-O 13. Kh1 Rd8 14. Bd3 Bd7 15. f4 Bb8

16. a3? 16. Rad1 is better.

16…Na5 17. Nxa5 Qxa5 18. Qe1 Ba7 19. b4 19. e5 is stronger than this lunge. While not totally horrible, the text move does not give a good impression.

19…Qc7 20. a4 Rac8 21. Ne2 Bb6 22. Ra3 Bc6 23. b5 Ba5 24. Qb1 Be8 25. Rb3 axb5 26. axb5 f6! Now black is fine.

27. e5 fxe5 28. c4 g6 29. fxe5 Qxe5 30. Ng1 Bc7 31. Nf3 Qh5 32. Qe1 Bd7 33. Be4 Rf8 34. g3 34. h3 was much tidier.

34…Ra8 Black gets frisky.  34…b6 is equal.

Can white snap on b7?

35. Kg2? Falling for what essentially was a bluff. Surprisingly, and this is not easy to see in time trouble, 35. Bxb7! Ra2 36. Nh4! is good for white.

35…Ra2+ 35…Bb6, waiting, was a good alternative.  The text lets white make a couple of quick moves and keep control.

36. Rf2 Rxf2+ 37. Qxf2 Qg4 38. Qd4 Weirdly, 38. Qe1 keeps a definite edge.

38…Bc8 While nothing special, 38…Bb6! works tactically and would cause white to take some time.

39. b6? Falling for a devilish tactical trick; the typical fate of a time-trouble addict. 39. c5! was good for white with the nice variation: 39. c5! Rd8 40. Qe3 e5 41. b6! with a big plus.  I am sure white envisioned something like this but mixed up the order of the pawn moves.

39…Bxb6! 40. h3?? Completing a collapse. 40. Qd3 equal, or 40. Rxb6 Rxf3 41. Rb2 equal. Bill had the unfortunate habit of minimizing his results in time trouble. As Korchnoi said, “In time trouble, there are no heroes.”

40..Qxf3+ Winning a full piece.  Disgruntled and disgusted and not hiding his emotions, Lombardy plays on.

41. Bxf3 Bxd4 42. Bxb7 Bxb7+ 43. Rxb7 e5 44. g4 h6 45. Rc7 e4 46. Re7 e3 47. Re4 Bc5 48. Re5 Rc8 49. Kf3 Kf7 50. Ke2 Kf6 51. Rd5 0-1 It may be (needs confirmation) that Lombardy adjourned at this point and forced his opponent to attend an early morning resumption the next day – whereas Bill did not show up. An interesting “gambit”. I can see Korchnoi pulling this stunt too. In the old days, we had quaint things like “adjournments” and “resumptions”.

In a 1977 Lone Pine, CA rematch, Lombardy had every chance to gain revenge, but again (probably time trouble!) let the win slip away and only drew.

Chestnut 2

Not for the faint of heart.  The scene:  Glendale, CA. World Student Teams, 1994.  The USA-Armenia match. 

[Event “USA-ARM”]
[Site “Glendale”]
[Date “1994.??.??”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Anastasian, Ashot”]
[Black “Gurevich, Ilya”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A15”]
[WhiteElo “2545”]
[BlackElo “2585”]
[EventDate “1994.05.??”]
[EventType “team”]
[EventRounds “4”]
[EventCountry “USA”]
[Source “ChessBase”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. b4 Bg7 4. Bb2 O-O 5. e3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. d3 a5 8. b5 Nbd7 9. O-O a4 10. a3 Nc5 11. Nbd2 Re8 12. Qc2 Bf5 13. Rad1 c6 14. Qc3 cxb5 15. d4
Nce4 16. Nxe4 Nxe4 17. Qb4 bxc4 18. Bxc4 Qb8 19. Bd5! exd4 20. Bxd4 Nc5 21. Ng5 Be6 22. Qc3! Bxd4 23. exd4 Bxd5 24. dxc5 Bb3 25. Rxd6
With excellent play up to here, white has gained a large edge. Black’s king is very lonely.

25…h6 26. Nf3 Qc7 27. Ne5 Be6
28. Rc1 Rac8 29. Qd2 Qe7 30. Qd4 Bf5 31. f4 h5 32. h3 Qh4 33. Kh2 Red8 34. Rf1 Be6 35. Nf3 Qe7 36. Rd1 Re8 37. Re1 Qc7 38. Re5 Bb3

It’s all roses from white’s point of view.  He has maneuvered very well and his pieces are all in optimal attacking positions.  Now, 39. Rxh5! is evident and wins immediately.

White to play and win (2 solutions)

39. Ng5?? The first major miscue.  It won’t be the last.  To point out how terrible white’s 39th move was, also winning was the easy 39. Rd7! Qc6 (39… Qa5 40. Rg5 Rc6 41. f5! wins) 40. Rxe8+ Rxe8 41. Ne5 Qf6 42. Rxb7 and wins.

39… Rxe5 40. Qxe5 Bc2 41. Qd5 Re8 42. Qd4 Qc8 43. Rd7?

Tacticians will spot 43. Nxf7! Kxf7 44. Rf6+winning; for example 44…Kg8 45. Qd5+ Kh8 46. Rf7 Qd8 47. Qxb7 g5 48. Qb2+!

43… Bb3 44. Ne4 Rxe4 45.Rd8+ Re8 46. Rxc8 Rxc8

White has won the queen.  He’s still winning, of course.

A matter of technique.

47. g4? Simplest is a move to break up the pawns:  47. f5! gxf5 48. Kg3! and white wins with no problems.  Such a move begs to be played.

47… hxg4 48. hxg4 Rc6 49. Kg3 Kf8 50. Qd8+ Kg7 51. Kh4 Kh7 52. Qd4 Kg8 53. Kg3 Kf8 54. Qd8+ Kg7 55. Kf3 Be6 56. f5 gxf5 57. Qg5+ Kf8 58. gxf5 Bd5+
59. Ke3 Ke8 60. Kd4?
60. Qf4! and the critical b7 pawn falls; white wins. White seems to moving aimlessly (time trouble?).  Maybe he’s not winning. But is he losing?  That is a stretch…

60… Bb3 61. Qf4 Kd7 62. Qb8 Rc7 63. Qa7 Kc8 64. Qa8+ Kd7 65. f6 Kc6 66. Qe8+ Rd7+ 67. Kc3 Be6 68. Kb4 Kc7 69. Kxa4 Rd8 70. Qe7+ Rd7 71. Qf8 Rd4+ 72. Ka5?? Oh no!  72. Kb5 Bd7+ 73. c6! (Clearance to avoid mate!) 73…Bxc6+ 74. Kc5 Rd7 75. Kb4 and white can continue aimless shuffling without losing.

72… Bd7 0-1 Suddenly, white is mated.  A game that goes beyond the pale of your everyday garden-variety swindle.

The Fabulous 70s: The National Chess League

October 6, 2009

Before the current-day US Chess League, we had the National Chess League played with telephones!  (pre-Web).  Runners would relay the moves with lingo like “Baker echo 7” (Be7).  Often times, a move was mis-relayed causing the game to back up and restart.  Games could take hours with the relay delays, although nominally the time control was G/1 hour with no increment.

Here are 3 amusing contests from the 1979 season, including one from the playoffs.

IM Dumitru Ghizdavu (CLE) – Mark Ginsburg (DC)  Sicilian Scheveningen, 4/22/79

I would hazard a guess my opponent hies from Romania.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. Be3 a6 7. f4 b5 8. Qf3 Bb7 9. Bd3 Nbd7 10. g4 b4 A wild line very popular at the time.

11. Nce2 e5 12. Nb3 h5!?

Wild Stuff

Wild Stuff

13. g5 Ng4 14. f5 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 a5 16. O-O-O a4 17. Nd2 d5!? 18. exd5 Bc5 19. Qg3 Bxd5 20. Be4 Bxa2 21. Bc6

Key Moment

Key Moment

21…Rc8? I totally missed 21… O-O! 22. Ne4? (22. f6 Rc8  unclear) 22… Qb6 23. Bxd7 Be3+ 24. Nd2 Rfd8! and black wins.

22. Bxa4 O-O 23. Ne4 Qb6 24. Rxd7 Be3+ 25. Kd1 Rfd8 Still, I generate play against white’s floating king.

26. Ke1 Rxd7 27. Nf6+ Kh8 28. Nxd7 Qa7 29. b3 Rxc2 30. Qf3 Bxb3! The craziness continues.  Quite a game!

31. Qxh5+ Kg8 32. g6

Key Moment Deux

Key Moment Deux

32…Bh6? I don’t think I had a lot of time left.

This second blunder is fatal.  I could have survived with  the wild sac (consistent with the rest of the game) 32… Rxe2+! 33. Kxe2 (33. Qxe2 Bxa4 34. gxf7+ Kxf7 35. Nxe5+ Kg8 36. Qc4+ Kh7 37. Qxb4 Bc2 38. Qc3 Bxf5) 33… Bc4+ 34. Kf3 Bd5+ 35. Kg4 Bh6)

33. Bxb3 Qa1+ 34. Kf2 Qd4+ 35. Kg3 Bf4+ 36. Kh3 Qd3+

I should have at least tried 36… Qe3+ hoping for 37. Ng3??  Rxh2+! 38. Rxh2 Qxg3 mate but it is hard to believe Ghizdavu would fall into that one.

37. Kh4 Bg5+ 38. Qxg5 Qe4+ 39. Qg4 Qxh1 40. gxf7+  1-0

In an amusing postscript, Ghizdavu recently popped up on the Arizona Scorpions USCL blog (see Comments section) announcing he’s moved to …. surprise ….. Surprise, AZ!   I would have to guess that DC won this Cleveland match but I didn’t record the individual board results.

M. Ginsburg (DC) – Julius Loftsson (LA)  Sicilian Taimanov 3/18/79

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Nf6 7. N5c3

Unusual and tried by Ljubojevic sporadically.

A Ljubo Special

A Ljubo Special

7…Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O b6 10. Bf4 Bb7 11. Nd2 a6 12. Re1 Rc8 13. Rc1 Ne5 14. Bg3 Qc7
15. b4 Qb8 16. Qb3 Bc6 17. f4 Ng6 18. h4?!
A very junior move. All my pawn advances come to naught and black is fine.

Rfd8 19. h5 Nf8 20. a4?! a5! I have no idea why I played my 20th.

21. bxa5 bxa5 22. Bf3 N8d7

Time for a Horrific Blunder

Time for a Horrific Blunder

23. e5?? Utter confusion on my part. A really ugly and mistimed advance that should have just handed black the game.

23… dxe5 24. fxe5 Bxf3 25. Qxb8 Nxb8 26. Nxf3 Nxh5 27. Bh2 Rxc4 I shed some pawns with no compensation.  Can you envision white winning?  No?  But look what happens.

"White to play and win"

"White to play and win"

28. Ne4 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 g6?!

Simplest was 29… Na6 stopping any play; e.g.  30. Nd6 g6 and black wins.

30. Rc7 Nd7 31. Nd4 Nc5?

Black had the nice 31… Bc5! 32. Nxc5 Nxc5 33. Rxc5 Rxd4 34. Rxa5 g5 and he should win.

32. Nd6 Bxd6? Another mistake and this one is serious enough to turn the game completely around.  32… Bg5! 33. Rxc5 Be3+ 34. Kf1 Bxd4 35. Rxa5 Ng7 36. Ke2 Nf5 37. Ra6 Rb8 and black is better.  He was probably in time trouble.

33. exd6 Ne4 Black is also losing after 33… Na6 34. Nc6 Rf8 35. d7 Nxc7 36. Bxc7 Nf6 37. Ne7+ Kg7 38. d8=Q Rxd8 39. Bxd8

34. d7 1-0

I think that DC won this match as well against LA.

So we got into the playoffs and here is a game from the Semi-Finals, DC versus the strong Berkeley Squad.  This time around I did record individual board results (see below).

IM Julio Kaplan (Berkeley Riots) – M. Ginsburg (DC Plumbers)  King’s Indian, 4 Pawns Attack, Benko-Gambit-esque

If you are wondering about the Plumbers name, look up the White House Plumbers and the notorious Watergate Scandal that occurred during President Nixon’s reign of terror.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 d6 5. e4 Bg7 6. f4 O-O 7. Nf3 b5

Believe it or not, at the time I notated this as “!”  It works out well in the game but white was very compliant, opening lines up for black.

8. cxb5 a6 9. e5?! Former World Junior Champ Kaplan is aggressive, but I don’t like this at all.

9…dxe5 10. fxe5 Ng4 11. Bf4 Nd7 12. bxa6 Ndxe5 Black has a great game now.

Big Plus Already!  What can go wrong?

Big Plus Already! What can go wrong?

13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Qd2 c4! I’m playing well!  These motifs are obvious to Benko players but I was totally on my own.

15. Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Bxc4 Qc7 17. Be2 Bxa6 18. Bxa6 Rxa6 19. O-O Bxh2+ 20. Kh1 Be5 21. Rf3 Rf6 22. Rxf6 Bxf6 23. Ne4 Bg7 24. Re1 Rd8 25. Nc3 Qc4 26. Re3? A huge lemon, of course, but white had a bad game.

Qf1+ 27. Kh2 Bh6 As simple as that, black is winning.  But remember a kid is playing an ending, and accidents can happen to kids.

Yay.  I win?

Yay. I win?

28. Re1 Bxd2 29. Rxf1 Bxc3 30. bxc3 Rxd5 31. Rf2 e5 32. a4 Rc5 33. Rc2 Rc4 34. Ra2 Rxc3
35. a5 Rc7 36. a6 Ra7 37. Kg3 f6 38. Kf3 Kf7 39. Ke4 Ke6 40. g4

Is it possible not to win?

Is it possible not to win?

It’s hard to conceive of black not winning this position.


Easier is 40… h5 41. gxh5 gxh5 42. Kd3 Kd5 43. Ra5+ Kc6 44. Ke4 Kb6 and after dealing with the white pawn there are no obstacles for black.

41. gxf5+ gxf5+ 42. Kf3 h5 43. Ra1 Kf6 44. Ra2 h4? Completely off my radar was the simple 44… f4! 45. Ke4 h4 46. Ra5 h3 47. Rxe5 Rh7 48. Rf5+ Kg6 and black wins, since the h1-a8 diagonal skewer is decisive.

45. Ra1 Ra8?? Did I really do that?  What a nonsensical blunder. Well by now it was obvious I was incompetent so I doubt another stronger move would have “won” for me.

46. a7 h3 47. Kg3 e4 48. Kxh3 Kg5 49. Ra5 Kf4 50. Kg2 Kg4 51. Ra4 f4 52. Rxe4 Rxa7 53. Re8 Ra2+ 54. Kg1 Kf3 55. Rf8 Ra5 56. Rf7 Ra1+ 57. Kh2 Rf1 58. Ra7 Re1 59. Rf7 Re5 60. Kg1 Rg5+
61. Kf1 1/2-1/2
Quelle desastre!

Here are the board results:

DC                     –       Berkeley

Mark Diesen   0   John Grefe

future IM Steve Odendahl 0  Paul Whitehead (I commented that Odendahl stood much better and went nuts)

Larry Kaufman  1  Jay Whitehead

Richard Delaune 1/2  Cornelius

John Meyer 0  DeFirmian (I noted that John lost on time with a queen versus a rook!)

So we lost this Semi-Final match 2 to 4.

And for Something Different

World Open 1985

World Open 1985

Vince McCambridge (right) and a fan, World Open, 1985.

Military History, Anyone?

Is anyone awake at the Pentagon?

This Afghanistan story of heavy American casualties from

“The battle Saturday in which eight U.S. troops were killed was so fierce that, at one point, U.S. forces had to fall back as attackers breached the perimeter of their base, a U.S. military official with knowledge of the latest intelligence reports on the incident said.

Forward Operating Base Keating, seen in 2007, is surrounded by tall ridge lines.

Forward Operating Base Keating, seen in 2007, is surrounded by tall ridge lines.

The new revelations about the battle that engulfed Forward Operating Base Keating in Kamdesh District are a further indication of how pinned down and outmanned the troops were at the remote outpost. The base, in an eastern Afghanistan valley, was surrounded by ridge lines where the insurgents were able to fire down at U.S. and Afghan troops.

The facility had been scheduled to be closed within days, CNN has learned. The closing is part of a wider effort by the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to cede remote outposts and consolidate troops in more populated areas to better protect Afghan civilians.”

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t learned our lesson from famous failures in the past to hold remote outposts.  A classic siege, Dien Bien Phu, saw the French try to hold a similar, ridiculously located, forward base to great cost.  Read “Hell in a Very Small Place” by Bernard Fall for that incredible account. I attach more information about this amazing book at the bottom of this article.  Even the USA’s own President, LBJ, when fortifying the ludicrous outpost Khe Sanh in Vietnam said “I don’t want another damn DIN BIN FOO.”

Why did we try to keep and hold a new DIN BIN FOO in Afghanistan?  A failed strategy cannot work if you fast-forward it in time.  This is the theme of the classic book of repetitious military failure throughout the ages, “The March of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman.  Hello, Pentagon?  Once agin:  we don’t want another damn DIN BIN FOO.  Forward, remote operating bases are sitting ducks.

If we are going to be in a far-away country trying our hand at “World Police” (that didn’t work too well for the British in the early 20th century), we might as well learn from prior military disasters.

More on “Hell in a Very Small Place”

From Amazon,

“he siege of Dien Bien Phu, in which a guerrilla force of Viet Minh destroyed a technologically superior French colonial army, must rank with Waterloo, Gettysburg, Midway, Stalingrad, and Tet as one of the decisive battles in military history. Not only did Dien Bien Phu put an end to French imperial efforts in Indo-china, but it also convinced the Viet Minh, when they came to power in Communist North Vietnam, that similar tactics would prevail in their war with the United States. As an American army officer told Bernard Fall during the Vietnam War: ”What we’re doing here basically is, we’re exorcising Dien Bien Phu.”Bernard Fall in this monumental work has written an exhaustive, revelatory, and vivid account of the battle, leading the reader from the conference rooms of the U.S. State Department to the French Foreign Office to the front lines of Indo-China and the strategy sessions led by General Giap and Ho Chi Minh. Among the many historical curiosities here disclosed is evidence that then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles offered atomic bombs to the beleaguered French, and that then-Senator Lyndon Johnson played a key role in defeating a proposal to aid the French with critical air support. Without U. S. aid, the fortress at Dien Bien Phu fell on the very day that the cease-fire conference opened in Geneva.Based on hitherto unavailable documentation from the French Defense Ministry, and replete with detailed maps of the many assaults, Hell in a Very Small Place is a first-rate military history. But even more powerful is the political wisdom it imparts about a war that was not only the beginning of the end of the French colonial empire but a rehearsal for American involvement in Vietnam.”

Tragically, the author Bernard Fall died while embedded with Marines in South Vietnam in 1967.

NY Times Chess and NY Times Bridge? Rara Avis, Indeed!

August 3, 2008

Double Gaming: Chess and Bridge

How many chess players were in the New York Times Bridge column by Alan Truscott and also the Chess column by Robert Byrne? Well, I was. But I thought I had lost this ancient newsprint hardcopy! Mirabile dictu, it is found! Found, I tell you! I am not particularly good at bridge but at some point I managed to do a “squeeze” (think of chess zugzwang) and there it went into the Times! Here is the 1980 bridge hand clipping. Click to display it enlarged.

I appear in Alan Truscott’s New York Times bridge column, 1980.

As for the chess, to complete the 1980 double-header, remember I had defeated Dzindzi in an upset at the Chicago Open 1979. Well in 1980 he got his revenge. At the World Open, I won his queen but allowed obvious monster compensation, losing to give the big bear sweet revenge. Here is Robert Byrne’s September 1980 report!   Click to enlarge.

World Open 1980: The Big Bear Gains Sweet Revenge

I am also going to shock the chess world with a young Ken Regan (and me) posing for a photo op in a Princeton University chess team story, circa 1979. There’s something very special about 70’s hair. Click a few times for best enlargement.

Ginsburg and Regan 4/9/80. Nice hair.

This clipping was from the “Daily Princetonian” 4/9/80 – it was a complete miracle that I graduated from this esteemed institution (rated #1 undergrad again in 2008, hurrah) in June 1980.

The National Chess League!

Feast your eyes on a news clipping describing Washington DC vs Berkeley in the 1978 (!) National Chess League; an inter-city league where the games were contested by telephone and “runners” relayed the moves (often times, games had to be partially retracted due to misheard relays). Click to enlarge. For more on my game vs. Christiansen (referenced in the post), see this entry. In the clipping, the reporter amusingly refers to Eugene Meyer as Gene Myer. Note that Berkeley’s Kaplan in the clipping report was stated to have only one minute to make 20 moves. This was pre-digital clocks! Nevertheless, the feat was not so incredible because between moves, even in mutual time trouble, minutes elapsed due to the byzantine runner system!

Berkeley Riot wins the 1978 National Chess League! (Click to enlarge)

If you don’t understand the team name “Washington Plumbers”, you may not be old enough to remember Nixon and the Watergate incident of 1974. Berkeley “Riot” was also amusing, bringing to mind the famous student protests of the 60s.

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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. 

The Fabulous 70s: Boris Baczynskyj!

June 16, 2008

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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The Fabulous 70s: 3 Chess People and a Beautiful Woman … Plus, Petrosian Tidbits

June 14, 2008

4 Peeps Hangin’ Out in 1976

Upper left: Louis D. Statham, the famous patron of the Lone Pine super-Swisses. Upper right: ex-WC Tigran Petrosian, winner of Lone Pine 1976 (the 6th LP incarnation). Bottom left: OK it’s not a beautiful woman. That title was simply meant to trick you to this site. It’s British GM Tony Miles, co-winner of the 1976 National Open in Las Vegas. Bottom right: the other co-winner, future IM Ed Formanek. Carl Budd took both photographs.

Tigran Petrosian Tidbits

We learn some interesting tidbits from Petrosian’s interview in this issue (interview conducted by stalwart USCF official Ed Edmondson – he had a cool name).

  1. Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian Factoid #1: He was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, but was 100% Armenian.
  2. Tigran’s dad was a refugee from Turkey.
  3. Tigran left Georgia when he was 17.
  4. Tigran journeyed 160 miles to Yerevan, Armenia.
  5. Before she got married to Tigran, Rona was an English teacher.
  6. Tigran had two sons, Mikhail and Vartan.
  7. Petrosian also enjoyed checkers, cards, and an Armenian backgammon variant called Nardy. He also played ping ping and billiards.
  8. He liked to watch ice hockey and soccer.
  9. He was a supporter of club “Spartak” and played first board for Spartak chess team.
  10. His main hobby was philately (stamp collecting) MG Note: just as it is Anatoly Karpov’s! He liked to collect art stamps and chess stamps.
  11. He used to attend the opera regularly.
  12. He was awarded the honorary Master of Sport title [MG: relatively late?!] in 1960.
  13. He was chief editor of “64” chess magazine when this interview was conducted in 1976.
  14. If he won a prize abroad, he could keep some of it and give some of it back to the state (the USSR).
  15. He was impressed by young Seirawan at Lone Pine 1976. Apparently young Yasser managed to beat Tigran in a friendly skittles game (one of several they played) although Tigran pointed out “I was not serious, I was having fun.” MG Note: You wouldn’t see Fischer very light-hearted after a skittles loss.
  16. He reiterates his belief that “… in chess there is nothing accidental. I believe only in logical, correct play.”
  17. On Fischer: “[he] tries to make the opponent play something other than the best move, than he – in turn – does make the best move.”
  18. “Everything in chess is rather wooden – wooden pieces, wooden problems, wooden decisions.”
  19. Petrosian in 1976 rated Ljubojevic’s chances of becoming a world championship contender as higher than Mecking’s, although both GMs were at that time young superstars. He also mentioned Ulf Andersson and he stated “I hope he will awaken one day.” (!)

Readers will enjoy this mind-blowing Petrosian victory over former World Champ Garry Kasparov.

I also learned from Wikipedia that Petrosian received a PhD in 1968 from Yerevan State University (is this something like Georgia State University?) on the topic of “Chess Logic.” Write what you know about!

So Many Tigran Petrosians

There’s a modern-day (young) GM Tigran Petrosian, apparently unrelated to the WC unless somebody knows differently?.  But did you know there’s a third Tigran Petrosian running around, quite literally – a professional soccer player!

More Lone Pine: Not for the Faint of Heart

On the principle you can’t get enough Lone Pine photos, here I am playing GM Lev Alburt at Lone Pine 1980 with Steve Odendahl (nice hair!) in the back. Lev, who had only recently defected to the USA, had cool Soviet-style slightly tinted dark glasses that he wore indoors.

Lev Alburt vs MG

Postscript: Princeton Graduation Drama in 1980

Since the above Lone Pine photo was from March 1980 I only had 2 more months ahead of me of the undergraduate life at Princeton. Woo-hoo! But there was drama. I overslept a required final in Genetics administered by the non-too-happy Professor Tom Cline (we called him Tom Clone). I was able to get a re-test supervised by a proctor in some administrative building a few days later. Guess what, I overslept again. I was 75 minutes late for a 2 1/2 hour exam. I wound up getting 43 points out of a maximum of 200. On one essay, the grader drew a red diagonal line through my babble and simply wrote “Sorry”, awarding me a 0 out of 50 on that question (involving an asteroid that crashed to Earth with some genetic samples; I had no idea what the question was talking about). After this debacle, Prof. Cline called me into the office. “This exam”, he exclaimed, waving it around, “is not just an F. It’s a K or an L. But I’m not going to fail you, I don’t want to see you on campus next term. So I’m giving you a D minus. Now get out.”

Amusing Post-Postscript

Ian Rogers has popped up on the blogosphere. But it’s not the Grandmaster. Instead, we apparently have a media baron who recently departed the ‘troubled’ Yahoo company.

The Fabulous 70s: Rewarding the Clock-Punching Monkey

June 2, 2008

The Good and the Evil Inherent in Clock Punching Monkeys

I was titillated to read in a recent CLO Irina Krush’s protest against Anna Zatonskih’s blitz tactics in their US Women’s title playoff match.

Her open letter ends,

“To conclude, I will state that sharing the title would be an acceptable outcome for me, but I would certainly welcome any initiative to decide the title in over-the-board games, with real time controls that don’t degrade the participants into clock punching monkeys.” (emphasis mine).

The bold-faced phrase brings back rich, nostalgic memories. Turn back the clock to 1975 and the scene is the Silver Spring chess club, managed by Larry Kaufman and frequented by such personalities as Diana Lanni, me, future IM Steve Odendahl, and other riff-raff. Since we were young and highly immature, Steve and I invented a game that was solely to reward the clock-punching monkey. The game was called “Clock”. It is fun for all ages and invariably reduces the participants to gasps of laughter, unless of course one of the players is Ray Keene or some other dour type. I want to stress a chessboard and pieces are not needed! Here is how you play:

The Immortal and Skillful Game of ‘Clock’

  1. Set the clock to one minute each (this was the old fashioned clock that ticked, but I imagine you could subject a Chronos to this too).
  2. ‘White’ bangs his or her fist on the table then bangs the clock to start the game.
  3. ‘Black’ must bang his or her fist on the table and only then can he or she bang the clock to start the opponent’s clock.
  4. In response, now ‘White’ must bang his or her fist on the table before he or she can hit the clock.
  5. And so on, alternating steps 3 and 4, until somebody flags.

No Chess Involved! Any hit of the clock without first banging the fist on the table is an immediate forfeit!

Overturning: A Nuance of the Game

The 1975 version of the game naturally resulted in the clock often overturning and sitting on its side. It was unclear who should right it and clearly in such a thrilling game neither player really wants to right it. I suggest playing with the clock in an enclosed case so it can’t overturn.

A Surprise ‘Clock’ Spectator

In one uproarious ‘Clock’ incident, the clock had just overturned and both players were howling loudly. A small, dapper gentleman gave Steve and me a pitying glance. And this was the first time I laid eyes on surprise club visitor GM Lubosh Kavalek.

Enjoy your game of Clock, everyone! For extra thrills, play with a digital clock and set it for 10 seconds each, or try a game of “Clock Odds” to test the speed demon in your neighborhood!

Sad postscript:

Krush didn’t leave sleeping dogs lie and wrote an awful “final letter” to US Chess online. The bad sportsmanship meter is now in the red zone on this issue. Poor Anna Zatonskih could not, and should not, respond to this nasty Krush tirade. Simply change the format going forward if it’s so upsetting!

Happy Post Post-Script

Anna Zatonskih righted the boat with a well-conducted interview. Hurrah for Anna Z.  All is well.

The Fabulous 70s: Jersey Squad Takes 1976 US Amateur Team

May 15, 2008

I don’t think gambling was allowed this year in Atlantic City. The 1976 Amateur Team event was held at the Hotel Shelburne (?), which does sound like a pre-Taj-Mahal kind of place. There weren’t other regions then, the East “was it.” The event had only been going for a few years, but it was already a popular prestige event.

The winning team had John Fedorowicz (2237) on board one, iconoclastic 1…b6 practitioner Ken Regan (2223) on board two, Michael Wilder (1977!) on board three, and Tyler Cowen (1876) on board four. Needless to say, these team members continued to improve in the years ahead. Michael Wilder, from Princeton NJ (Princeton U was my alma mater) would even capture the 1988 US Championship. Dr. Leroy Dubeck, the photographer, was the famous TD who halted the 1974 US Junior Open’s round in progress so that the players could watch President Nixon resigning.

Weirdly, this blog entry got about a zillion hits when a Tyler Cowen fan, talked about it on an Economics blog forum named ‘angrybear’ for some reason. Advice to angrybear: buy and hold.

Here is the Chess Life photograph (click to enlarge).

The Winning 1976 Squad

The chief organizer, Denis Barry, was an affable fellow who retired in Arizona – I knew him in both states. He passed away a few years ago. Some interesting factoids from this Wikipedia site – Denis was USCF president from 1993 to 1996 and, at a tournament for the blind, he was the first to introduce braille wallcharts.

As a historical note, young Steve Doyle was an assistant in the 1976 event.

And from 1975…

In the 1975 USATE (also won by the GSCA 4: 1975 GSCA Four Ken Regan, John Fedorowicz, Edward Babinski Jr., Tyler Cowen) there was a titanic match between the winners and my ‘Seafood Platter’ Bethesda/Potomac MD squad featuring future 1976 World Junior Champ Mark Diesen. Let’s see an entertaining individual game between two very junior Juniors, Fedorowicz and me. I had some very humorous annotations on my scorepad (made during and after the game) which by the way was in descriptive notation.

Mark Ginsburg (2042, Seafood Platter) – John Fedorowicz (2128, GSCA 4) USATE February 16, 1975. Sicilian Najdorf. Time control 50/2.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. f4 e5 7. Nf3 Nbd7 8. a4 Qc7 9. Bd3 b6 10. Qe2 Be7 11. O-O Bb7 12. Bd2 (0:25) O-O (0:21) 13. Kh1 Rfe8 14. fxe5 dxe5 15. Bc4 Bb4 Hard to believe, this has been seen before. It’s nothing special. At the age of 15, using descriptive notation, I was clueless about opening theory. I was making it all up.

Position after 15…Bb4. Nothing’s going on.

16. Rad1 TN My “novelty”. Chances are equal. White was unsuccessful with 16. Ng5!? Rf8 17. Rad1 Bxc3 18. Bxc3 h6 19. Nxf7? (he had 19. Nf3 Bxe4 20. Rxd7 Qxd7 21. Nxe5 Qxa4 22. b3 Qa2 23. Bxf7+ Rxf7 24. Nxf7 Qxc2 25. Nxh6+ Kh7 26. Qxc2 Bxc2 27. Bxf6 gxf6 28. Rxf6 b5 29. b4 and draws) 19…Rxf7 20. Bb4 a5 and white lost rather quickly in Petrov,A (2375)-Popov,V (2430)/St Petersburg 1997.

16… Rac8 17. Bxa6? This is, of course, bad. Josh Waitzkin made a similar mistake versus me many years later, going after a wing pawn and giving up an all-important center pawn.

17…Bxa6 18. Qxa6 Bxc3 19. Bxc3 Nxe4 20. Bb4 Ndc5? Crushing is 20… Nb8! 21. Qb5 Qxc2.

21. Qc4 Nf6 22. Bc3 e4 23. Bxf6 If white tries 23. Nh4 e3 24. Qe2 Nce4 25. Qxe3, black hits hard with the nice tactic 25… Qxh2+!! 26. Kxh2 Ng4+ 27. Kg1 Nxe3 and wins.

23… exf3 24. Qg4 fxg2+ 25. Qxg2 g6 26. b3 Ne4 Black is way on top, but I battle on.

27. c4 Re6 28. Ba1 Qc6 29. Rd5 (1:41) Rce8! (1:25) Black coordinates his pieces well and should win.

30. Qf3 f6 31. Kg1 Ng5 32. Qc3 Re5 33. Qd4 (1:51)

Position after 33. Qd4 – Last Chances

33…Qe6? (1:50) Both sides are in serious time pressure since it’s 50/2. Black could have won here with the nice tactical shot 33…Re1! 34. Rxe1 Nf3+ 35. Kf2 Nxd4 36. Bxd4 Rxe1 37. Kxe1 h5 38. h4 f5 and he will slowly convert this. After 33…Re1!, white cannot take on f6: 34. Qxf6? Qxf6 35. Bxf6 Nh3+! 36. Kg2 R8e2+ and wins by picking up the white rook on f1. This second variation was probably the line missed in time trouble.

34. Rxe5 (1:53) fxe5 35. Qd5 Now white is OK.

35…Qxd5 36. cxd5 e4? 36…Nh3+ followed by Nf4 is equal.

37. d6 Nf7?? This is the biggest blunder. 37…Nf3+! followed by Kf7 is equal. Now white is easily winning.

38. d7 Rb8

Position after 38…Rb8. White fails to win.

39. Re1 In time trouble, white misses 39. Rc1! with a computer eval of more than +6. Ouch. Of course also winning is 39. Rd1.

39… Rd8 40. Rxe4 Again, 40. Rd1 e3 41. Kf1 wins easily.

40… Kf8 41. Bd4 Well, this way also wins. I haven’t blown it yet. At the time, I indicated 41. Re8+ Rxe8 42. dxe8=Q+ Kxe8 43. Bd4 as easy, but black can play on after the obvious 43…b5 44. axb5 Kd7 45. Kd2 although admittedly white is on top.

41… Rxd7 42. Bxb6 Rd1+ 43. Kf2 Rd2+ (1:55) 44. Re2 (1:56) Rd3 45. Bc5+ Kg7 46. b4 Ra3 47. a5 h5 48. Re7? I didn’t understand that 48. Bd4+ Kf8 49. Re6! is very easy as black’s king is corraled.

48… Kf6 49. Re3 Ra2+ 50. Re2 Ra3 51. Re3? Time control made, but again, a move I missed, 51. Bd4+ Kf5 52. Bb2 Rb3 53. a6 Rxb4 54. a7 Ra4 55. Bd4! Nd6 56. Kf3 Nb5 (56… Nc8 57. Re5+ Kf6 58. Rc5+) 57. Re5+ and wins.

51… Ra2+ 52. Kg3 Nh6 53. Re8 Nf5+ 54. Kf3 g5 55. Rf8+? I must have been freaking out in the face of black’s sudden activity. The rather obvious 55. Rh8+ still wins after 55…Kg6 56. Ke4 g4 57. Rg8+ Kh7 58. Ra8 g3 59. hxg3 Nxg3+ 60. Kf4 h4 61. a6 h3 62. Kxg3 h2 63. Bd4 Kg6 64. Rh8 Rxa6 65. Rxh2 and it’s all over.

55… Ke5 56. Re8+ Kf6 57. Rf8+ Ke5 58. Re8+ 1/2-1/2 Boo! Very “junior” ending technique.

In the match, my notation says, “Diesen lost to Regan!” This was quite an upset, as Mark Diesen would win the World Junior in the very next year and Ken Regan was still an expert. I vaguely recall Diesen blowing it in a time scramble. Perhaps Ken Regan could shed more light and/or the game score?

Update 6/9/08:  In a turn of events typical for my generation, Ken Regan has revealed to me that he has all his old game scores in a box, but he has misplaced the box.  🙂

We lost the match 1 to 3. I also remember vaguely that Ed Babinski for the GSCA 4 caught Flippy Goulding in some opening trap. That means our fourth board (not sure who that was) must have drawn Tyler Cowen.

Prior Winners 1971 – 2003

U.S. Amateur Team East Champions according to this NJ chess site:

1971 Franklin Mercantile CC Mike Shahade, Arnold Chertkov, Myron Zelitch, Eugene Seligson
1972 Penn State CC Donald Byrne, Steve Wexlar, Dan Heisman, Bill Beckman, Jim Joachin
1973 The Independents Edgar T. McCormick, Edward Allen, Steve Pozarek, Charles Adkins
1974 Temple University Mike Pastor, Bruce Rind, Harvey Bradlow, Joseph Schwing
1975 GSCA Four Ken Regan, John Fedorowicz, Edward Babinski Jr., Tyler Cowen
1976 GSCA Four Ken Regan, John Fedorowicz, Tyler Cowen, Michael Wilder
1977 Mahko Ornst Damian Dottin, Sunil Weeramantry, Jasper Chin, Doug Brown
1978 Westfield Winners Stephen Stoyko, Stephen Pozarek, Saul Wanetick, John McCarthy
1979 Mahko Ornst Doug Brown, Timothy Lee, David Gertler, Harold Bogner
1980 Heraldica Imports Roman Dzindzichashvili, Jose Cuchi, Jose Saenz, Ignatio Yepes
1981 The Materialists Eugene Meyer, Robin Spital, Gordon Zalar, Peter McClusky
1982 Metalhead ‘N’ Mutants Tony Renna, Jonathan Schroer, Andrew Metrick, John Kennedy
1983 The Costigan Team Thomas Costigan, William Costigan, Andrew Costigan, Richard Costigan
1984 Collins’ Kids Vasity Stuart Rachels, John Litvinchuk, David Peters, Marcos Robert
1985 We Don’t Have One George Krauss, Robert Miller, David Gertler, Sam Waldner
1986 Ace Reporter Tisdall Michael Rohde, Mark Ginsburg, Leonid Bass, Julia Sarwer
1987 Walk Your Dog Michael Feinstein, William Mason, Robin Cunningham, David Greenstein
1988 Bergen County Chess Council Aviv Friedman, Jose Lahoz, Lee Rutowski, Jonathan Beeson
1989 Rube V. Rubenchik, R. Shocron, D. Rubinsky, R. Rubenchik
1990 Walk Your Dog 3 Michael Feinstein, William Mason, Seth Rothman, Paul Gordon
1991 Collins’ Kids Graduates John Litvinchuk, Sal Matera, William Lombardy, Joe Ippolito
1992 Made in the USA David Arnett, Josh Waitzkin, Eliot Lum, Dan Benjamin
1993 Bonin the USA Jay Bonin, Mark Ritter, Harold Stenzel, Dan O’Hanlon
1994 Jimi Hendrix Exp Ilya Gurevich, Mark Ginsburg, Victor Frias, Chris Kendrex, Steven Kendrex
1995 Brooklyn College “A” Genady Sagalchik, Alex Kalikshteyn, Yuri Alpshun, Joe Valentin
1996 Westfield CC Robin Cunningham, Todd Lunna, Jason Cohen, Jerry Berkowitz, Yaacov Norowitz
1997 Kgovsky’s Killers Igor Schliperman, Mark Kurtzman, Stan Kotlyar, Nathan Shnaidman
1998 WWW.ChessSuperstore Anatoly Karpov, Ron Henley, Irina Krush, Albert Pinnella
Light Blue Dyllan McClain, Nathan Resika, Brian Hulse, Alan Price
1999 Clinton-Insufficient Lusing Chances Jim West, Mike Shapiro, Alan Kantor, David Sichel, Mel Rappaport
2000 Total Brutality Philip Songe, Savdin Robovic, Igor Schliperman, Mark Kurtzman
2001 Zen and the Art of Bisguier Ron Burnett, Art Bisguier, Sergio Almeida, Noach Belcher
2002 Weera Family Hikaru Nakamura, Sunil Weeramantry, Asuka Nakamura, Michael Ellenbogen
2003 UTD Orange Andrei Zaremba, Dennis Rylander, Ali Morsaedi, Clem Rendon