Archive for the ‘The 1970s’ Category

Conticello on MCC

April 28, 2008

A Manhattan Chess Club Timeline [Abridged]

by Nicholas W. Conticello

Italicized Supplemental Notes by IM Mark Ginsburg

1901- Frank J. Marshall wins the first of three Manhattan Chess Club (MCC) titles.

1909- MCC organizes match between Marshall and young member Jose Raul Capablanca. The unknown Cuban demolishes the World Championship contender by +8-1=14 and goes on to become the third World Champion.

1915- Capablanca wins NY International ahead of Marshall.

1924- MCC board members arrange legendary New York international featuring most of the leading players of the era. Lasker takes first with 16-4 ahead of Capablanca, Alekhine, Marshall, Reti, etc. Capa’s loss to Reti in the fifth round is the Cuban’s first defeat in 8 years.

1927- MCC board sponsors a six-player event supposedly to select a challenger for Capablanca’s title. Capa wins without loss of a game, while Alekhine confirms his status as challenger with a convincing second. Alekhine’s ensuing victory in their match later in the year by +6-3=25 will shock the chess world and end MCC’s grip on the World Championship.

1936- MCC member Samuel Reshevsky wins first US Championship tournament of the 20th century.

1945- On Sept. 1 Club is site of American half of USA-USSR radio match. Soviets win by 11 points in 20 games and begin their 27 year grip (to the day!) on world chess.

1948- Members Reshevsky and Reuben Fine are invited to play in World Championship tournament to choose a successor to Alekhine. Fine, fearing Soviet collusion, cites his studies in psychology as his reason for not playing. Reshevsky plays anyway and finishes third.

1951- Reshevsky wins MCC’s Wertheim Memorial ahead of Max Euwe and Miguel Najdorf.

1952- Future GM and World Junior Champion William Lombardy joins the Club.

1955- Reshevsky wins the Rosenwald tournament (de facto US Championship) ahead of Arthur Bisguier and Larry M. Evans. 12-year-old Robert J. Fischer joins.

1956- Fischer is invited to the Rosenwald at age 13. He is beaten by eventual winner Reshevsky on time (his only known time forfeit) and runnerup Bisguier ( the latter’s only win against Fischer) but defeats Donald Byrne in what TD and Club Manager Hans Kmoch eulogizes as the “Game of the Century” and scores a respectable 4.5/11.

1957- In the space of one year, Donald Byrne wins the Western Open, Gisela Gresser wins the US Women’s title, Fischer wins the US Open and US Junior, Lombardy wins the World Junior Championship (11-0!), Arthur Bisguier wins the US Closed, and Samuel Reshevsky is crowned “Champion of the Western Hemisphere” by virtue of a match victory over Miguel Najdorf. The year will end with 14-year-old Bobby Fischer taking the first of a record 8 US Championships without the loss of a game.

1962- Larry Evans defeats William Lombardy for the Edgar Trophy.

1963- Fischer wins the US Championship for the sixth time with a perfect 11-0 score. The event is held at the Henry Hudson Hotel, which also was home for the Club.

1964- Benko defeats Bisguier in a match for an Interzonal spot vacated by Fischer, who declined his invitation to the Amsterdam event.

1971- The Club moves from the Henry Hudson to E. 60th St. just off Fifth Avenue. In August, the Club sponsors an invitational Master Rapids. Fischer swamps the field with 21.5-0.5 (the draw going to six-time Club Champion Walter Shipman.) This was the soon-to-be World Champion’s last appearance at the Club.

1973- The peak of the “Fischer Boom” sees the Club’s membership exceed 400.

1974- The “Boom” goes bust, and the Club must move again, to 155 E. 55 St. In February Viktor Korchnoi wins another special Master Rapids.

1976- The Club sponsors the first New York International since 1951. IM Norman Weinstein ties for first with recent emigre GM’s Anatoly Lein and Leonid Shamkovich. 12-year-old Joel Benjamin, making his international debut, wins a game from Canadian IM Bruce Amos.

1977- Anatoly Lein wins the Moses Mitchell Tournament of Champions ahead of Sal Matera, Bernard Zuckerman, and future Club President Neil McKelvie.

1978-14-year-old Joel Benjamin wins the first of six Club titles.

1984- The Club moves to the Carnegie Hall Studios, 155 W. 57 St, for the second time.

News flash 5/17/11 from Mark Pinto“Records are probably lost but I tied with [Walter] Shipman in 1984 and he was given the title on tiebreaks. [… ] Going from memory (not as reliable as it used to be) wins against Asa [Hoffmann] , Eric Cooke, drew with B[ernie] Zuckerman(a Nadjorf where I was white), drew with Shipman not sure who else I played. ”

1988 – IM Mark Ginsburg (Yay!) wins the MCC Championship for the first time, with a field including MCC stalwarts Zuckerman and Shirazi. The 10th floor Carnegie Hall location features an 11th floor bathtub for the grimy combatant.

1989- Gata Kamsky’s American debut after defecting during the New York Open is the Club’s 4 Rated Games Tonight. Kamsky will play frequently at the Club over the next five years.

MG: I play Kamsky in an MCC quad. We have cordial post-game analysis until his father yanks him away mid-sentence, much like a bad vaudeville act gets the cane.

1989- The Club runs a Knockout Qualifier with sixteen of the country’s strongest players vying for the right to meet Kasparov in a two game 25 minute match at the New York Public Library. Gata Kamsky, a last minute substitute, wins the event ahead of many GM’s.

1990 – IM Mark Ginsburg (Yay!) wins the MCC Championship for the second time, granting a draw from a position of strength to FM Danny Shapiro in the last round. Leonid Bass and Mark are just in time to Maxim Dlugy’s wedding.

1991 – Despite having won the event two years previously, the gruff manager Russell Garber omits to invite MG to this year’s championship and MG misses it, not knowing its exact dates.

1992 – The Club and the American Chess Foundation purchase a building at 353 W. 46 St. in the hopes of providing the Club with a permanent home and enabling the Foundation to expand its activities. The site is called the American Chess Center.

1993- By June the Club is unable to maintain its share of the building and cedes its part ownership to ACF. Billy Colias is hired as manager in July, charged with running the Club and the ACF’s bookstore. he dies Nov. 4 from an accidental overdose of an over-the-counter-medication.

1994- Kamsky celebrates his match victory over Anand with a final appearance in the Thursday Night Action. He scores 4-0, defeating Lombardy and IM Danny Edelman en route.

1997- Jay Bonin becomes the first player to win the championships of the Marshall and Manhattan Clubs and the State of New York to become the only triple Crown winner in NY State history.

1999- Maurice Ashley gains his final GM norm in an International held at the Club, beconing the first African-American Grandmaster.

2000- The Club’s lease at 353 W. 46 St. expires. it moves to the New Yorker Hotel on May 1. A few weeks later GM Max Dlugy wins a Master Rapids event held concurrently with the New York Open to celebrate the Club’s reopening. In November Eric Cooke wins atwo-game blitz playoff from Asa Hoffmann to become the Club’s last champion in the 20th century.

2001 – MG visits the almost defunct club in this sad New Yorker Hotel (some non-descript room on a high floor) location.

2002- On Feb. 1, after two years of unstoppable decline, the Club closes its doors for the last time.

Copyright 2008 Nicholas W. Conticello. All rights reserved.

For Further Reading

More MCC trivia and amusement here.

Pathos from the Readers

This I heard on ICC 4/28/08:

jonesey tells you: watched my then 13 yr old son play in the last tourney at the manhattan while they were carrying stuff out. sad

The Fabulous 70s: Arthur Bisguier and other American Powerhouses

April 23, 2008

The 1970s (post-Fischer boom) were a great time to play in tournaments in the USA.

Here’s one of the powerhouses of the day, GM Arthur Bisguier, pictured at the 1978 National Open.

GM Arthur Bisguier, National Open, 1978.

Art is still going strong today as a USCF goodwill ambassador and tournament visitor. And we also had Soviet emigres Alburt, Shamkovich, and Lein burning up the field in various Swisses and home-grown talents such as John Fedorowicz, Mark Diesen, Michael Rohde, the Whitehead brothers Jay and Paul, Ken Regan, and more.

Art was Joe Solid at the chessboard. He had an old-fashioned repertoire but was positionally well grounded and conservative. Here is a tough tangle that occurred in 1979 in which I narrowly escaped. Ratings are given from that time as a historical curiosity. I only received the IM title in 1982 – a FIDE diploma signed by Icelandic GM Fridrik Olafsson, then president of FIDE!

GM Art Bisguier [2478] – NM Mark Ginsburg [2355] Liberty Bell Open 1979, Round 2. Nimzo-Queen’s Indian Hybrid. 9/23/79

1. c4 b6 2. d4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 Nf6 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 Ne4 9. Qc2 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 d6 11. Bd3 Nxg3 12. hxg3 Nd7 At the time, this was a popular theoretical position. Nowadays it’s just thought that black is OK.

13. Be4!? c6 An important alternative is 13… Bxe4 14. Qxe4 Ke7 15. a4 (nothing much happened after 15. Nd2 Nf6 16. Qc6 Qd7 17. Qxd7+ Kxd7 18. Ke2 h5 19. f3 Rab8 20. Rab1 Rbg8 21. Rbg1 Rb8 22. Rb1 Rbg8 23. Rbg1 Rb8 24. Rb1 Rbg8 and agreed drawn, 1/2-1/2 Agzamov,G (2435)-Dorfman,J (2505)/Frunze 1981/URS-ch) 15… Nf6 16. Qd3 c5 17. e4 Nd7 18. O-O Qc7 19. Nd2 Rag8 20. a5 h5 21. axb6 axb6 22. f4 gxf4 23. Rxf4 cxd4 24. cxd4 e5 25. Rf5 exd4 26. Qxd4 Ne5 27. Nf3 f6 28. Qf2 Nxf3+ 29. Qxf3 Rg6 30. Rf1 Qxc4 31. e5 Qd4+ 32. Kh1 Rf8 33. Qb7+ Ke6 34. exd6 Qxd6 35. Rb5 and black resigned. 1-0 Milov,V (2590)-Eismont,O (2440)/Biel 1994.

Since we just quoted a Dorfman game, let’s show a picture from the 1978 USSR Championship Playoff! This match ended in a 3-3 tie so both players were awarded the title of Co-Champion. At the time of the match, Gulko was a Grandmaster with a rating of 2581. Dorfman was only an International Master (!!) with a FIDE rating of 2539.

Boris Gulko (left) versus Josif Dorfman, USSR Title Playoff 1978.

14. Qa4!? White got nowhere with 14. a4 a5 15. Rb1 Rc8 16. Nd2 Kf8 17. f4 Kg7 18. Kf2 Ba6 and drawn, 1/2-1/2 Uhlmann,W-Smyslov,V/Monte Carlo 1968.

14… g4 15. Nd2 TN! Previously seen was 15. Ng1 Qc7 16. Ne2 b5 17. cxb5 cxb5 18. Qc2 Nb6 19. Rb1 a6 20. Rh4 O-O-O 21. Rxg4 f5 22. Bxb7+ Qxb7 23. Rh4 Kb8 24. Qb3 Rde8 25. a4 Nxa4 26. c4 Nb6 27. cxb5 a5 28. Rc1 d5 29. Rc6 Rh7 30. Nf4 Rc7 31. Rxh6 Rxc6 32. bxc6 Qxc6 33. Nxd5 Qc1+ 34. Ke2 Qc4+ 35. Qxc4 Nxc4 36. Nc3 Kc7 37. Kd3 Nb2+ 38. Ke2 Nc4 39. d5 Kd7 40. e4 and black resigned, 1-0 Sideif Sade,F (2435)-Felsberger,A (2395)/Pula 1997.

15… Qc7 16. Qc2 Nf6 17. a4 c5 More flexible is 17… Ke7! 18. Rb1 h5 19. Rh4 Qd7 20. Ra1 c5 and black is OK.

18. Bxb7 Qxb7 19. e4 cxd4 Black is now starting to get uncomfortable. If 19… Rc8 20. O-O cxd4 21. cxd4 O-O 22. Qd3 with a white edge. The text is similar.

20. cxd4 Rc8 21. O-O e5 22. a5 O-O 23. Qd3 bxa5 24. Rfb1! White’s edge is increasing.

24…Qe7 25. Rxa5 exd4 26. Rba1 Rfe8 27. Qxd4 Qe6 28. Rxa7 White could also restricted black with 28. f3 !? gxf3 29. gxf3 Nd7 30. Kg2 Ne5 31. Rd5 Nc6 32. Qc3 with a significant edge.

28… Qe5 29. Qe3? A blunder. White had the simple 29. Qxe5 Rxe5 (29… dxe5 30. Kf1 Red8 31. Ke2 Rd4 32. Ra8 and wins) 30. f3! which is an easy win. Now black gets undeserved activity.

29… Nxe4 30. Nxe4 Qxe4 31. Qxh6 Rxc4 32. R7a5 Rc5 33. Rxc5 dxc5 34. Qg5+ Kh7 35. Ra6 Re6 Every time white threatens with a rook, black is ready to interpose with a rook to defuse matters. White only has a tiny edge now.

36. Rxe6 Qxe6 37. Qxc5 Qg6 38. Qe5 Kg8 39. Qb8+ Kg7 40. f3 Qg5 41.Qf4? A blunder, of course, but white would have hard pressed to win this.

41…Qxf4 42. gxf4 g3 43. Kf1 Kf6 44. Ke2 Kf5 45. Ke3 f6 46. Kd3 Kxf4 47. Kd4 f5


Here are a few other games from 1979.

The first was against a player more stodgy and more conservative than Arthur, which is hard to do. It’s none other than venerable future-IM Walter Shipman. If a player wanted exciting chess, he would instead play a US Junior.

NM Walter Shipman – NM Mark Ginsburg National Chess Congress 1979. Round 6 (last). King’s Indian/Pirc/g3 set up.

1. d4 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Nge2 Nbd7 7. h3 e5 8. Be3 This is a very nice and solid system for white; one of Walter’s pet lines. In recent memory Vinay Bhat is a fan. Later in other Walter Shipman games (in the 80s) I figured out a Benoni-type strike with c7-c5 is much more effective versus this system than the King’s Indian e7-e5 break.

8…c6 9. a4 a5 Also not equalizing is 9… exd4 10. Bxd4 c5 11. Be3 Nb6 12. b3 Re8 13. O-O.

10. O-O exd4 11. Bxd4 Re8 More clever, perhaps, is 11… b6!? 12. g4 Nc5 13. Re1 (13. e5 dxe5 14. Bxe5 Bd7 15. Re1 Re8 16. f4 Rc8 17. Qd2 Be6 18. Nd4 Qd7 19. Rad1 with white edge) 13… Qc7 14. Qd2 Re8 15. Nf4 h6 16. Rad1 Bb7 17. Bxc5 dxc5 setting a nice trap – hoping for 18. Qd6? Qxd6 19. Rxd6 Nxg4! 20. hxg4 Be5! with black advantage.

12. g4 Qe7 13. Ng3 Now it’s just nasty for black.

13…Ne5 It’s hard to give advice. 13… Nc5 14. g5 Nfd7 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. f4 and white is better.

14. g5 Nfd7 15. f4 c5 No help is 15… Nc4 16. Bxg7 Ne3 17. Bf6 Nxf6 18. gxf6 Qxf6 19. Qd3 Nxf1 20. Rxf1 b6 21. Qe3 Ba6 22. Rd1 Rab8 23. b3.

16. Nd5 Qd8 17. Bc3 Nc6 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Qd2 Nb6 20. Nf6 Re6 Black is going to have to sacrifice the exchange for that horse on f6 but of course he should be losing.

21. f5 Rxf6 Essentially forced. Miserable is 21… Re5 22. Qf4 Nd7 23. Ng4 Re8 24. Rad1 Nde5 25. Nf6 Rh8 26. Rd5.

22. gxf6+ Qxf6 23. fxg6 Qxg6 24. Nf5+ 24. Qf4 is strong. The text move makes things a little harder, but white should still be winning.

24… Bxf5 25. exf5 Qf6 26. Rad1?! The cleanest win is the careful 26. b3! Kh8 27. Rae1 d5 28. Qf4 Rg8 29. Qc7 Nd4 30. Rf2 c4 31. Re7 Kg7 32. c3 Nxb3 33. Re6 and it’s all over. White from this point forward commits a whole series of inaccuracies to let black back in the game, and more. The moral is that unplanned play can be punished when clear material up just as it can be in any other type of position.

26…Nc4 Now the task is more complicated.

27. Qf2 Kh8 28. b3 N4e5 29. c3 More circumspect is 29. Kh2.

29… Rg8 30. Kh1 Ne7 A bluff.

31. Qf4? White should grab: 31. Bxb7! Rb8 32. Qg2 and should win.

31… b6 32. c4 h6 33. Be4 Rg5 34.Rg1 White should safeguard the king: 34. Kh2! Rh5 35. Qg3 Rg5 36. Qe3 Rh5 37. Rf4 and he keeps control. He was probably low on time here.

34… Rh5 35. Rg3? This is the most serious blunder to date. The rather primitive 35. Qg3! Rg5 36. Qh2 Rh5 37. Qg2 Rg5 38. Qd2 Rh5 39. Qxd6 Rxh3+ 40. Kg2 Qg5+ 41. Kxh3 Qh5+ 42. Kg2 Qe2+ 43. Kg3 Qg4+ 44. Kf2 Qf4+ 45. Ke2 Qxe4+ 46. Kd2 and finito.

35… Nxf5 Now black is OK. Flummoxed and short of time, white even contrives to lose now.

36. Bxf5 Rxf5 37. Qe4 Rf1+ 38. Rg1 Qf3+ 39. Qxf3 Rxf3 40. Rxd6? A blunder on the last move of the time control. 40. Kg2! Rxb3 41. Rxd6 Nxc4 42. Rxh6+ Kg7 43. Rc6 Rb4 44. Kh2+ Kf8 45. Ra1 Ne5 46. Rc7 should be drawn.

40… Rxh3+ 41. Kg2 Rxb3 42. Rxh6+? Another blunder. 42. Kh1 Ng6 43. Rd7 Kg7 44. Rb7 Rb4 45. Rf1 Nh8 46. Rg1+ Kf6 47. Rf1+ Ke6 48. Re1+ Kf5 49. Re8 Ng6 50. Rxf7+ Kg5 51. Re3 and play continues.

42… Kg7 43. Rh4 Rb4 44. Kf2+ Kf6 45. Rf4+ Ke6 46. Ke2 Rxa4 And white is lost. An amazing turnaround.

47. Rc1 b5 48. Rb1 Ra2+ 49. Kf1 b4 50. Rd1 b3 51. Rb1 a4 52. Re4 Rc2 53. Rbe1 White lost on time.


According to my scorepad scribbles, I tied for 4th, 5th, and 6th with Art Bisguier and the dearly departed Boris Backzinskyj with 4.5 out of 6 in this event. We all won the princely sum of $66.66. We also won 2.66 Grand Prix points each (remember those? ) – Church’s Fried Chicken donated money for those who had the most Grand Prix points, or as Igor Ivanov called them, “Chicken Points.” I also notated that Dzindzi won the event with 5.5 out of 6 and equal 2nd and 3rd were Vitaly Zaltsman (Max Dlugy’s trainer) and Tim Taylor. with 5-1.

Some More 1979 Encounters

A battle versus a well-known chess book author.

Eric Schiller (1927) – NM Mark Ginsburg (2355) Heraldica Semi-Rapids New York City, October 1979. Modern Benoni

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Nd2 Bg7 8. Nc4 O-O 9. Bf4 Nbd7! It appears sound to leave the d6 pawn hanging. Let’s look at an old Tal loss in the more passive but possible 9… Ne8 10. Qd2 Bxc3 11. bxc3 b5 12. Nb2 a5 (The gambit line 12…Nf6 13. f3 Na6 14. e4 c4 15. Bg5 Re8 16. Qd4 Re5 17. f4 Rxg5 18. fxg5 Nd7 19. h4 Nac5 is very sharp) 13. e4 Qe7 14. Bd3 b4 15. O-O Nd7 16. Nc4 Ba6 17. Rfe1 Bxc4 18. Bxc4 Ne5 19. Bf1 Nc7 20. Bh6 Rfe8 21. f4 Ng4 22. Bg5 f6 23. Bh4 Qg7 24. h3 Nh6 25. Kh1 Nf7 26. Bf2 Rab8?! (26… g5!) 27. a3 f5? (27… b3! 28. Rab1 a4 29. c4 Ra8 30. Rb2 g5! with an OK game) 28. axb4 axb4 29. cxb4 Rxb4 30. e5! (Crushing.) Rb7 31. e6 Nh6 32. Rab1 Reb8 33. Rxb7 Rxb7 34. Bc4 Rb2 35. Qe3 Rc2 36. Rc1 Qb2 37. Rxc2 Qxc2 38. Bb3 Qb2 39. e7 {A blunder!} (39. Kh2 Qf6 40. Ba4 Qe7 41. Qb3) 39… Kf7 40. Bh4 (40. Kh2) 40… Qd4 ? (Losing. Last move of the time control? 40… Qa1+! is correct and it appears black saves himself.) 41. e8=Q+ and black resigned, Borisenko-Tal, Riga 1955.

10. e3 If white grabs the pawn, 10. Nxd6 TN?! Nb6 and also 10…Nh5 are both tempting. Black has good play in both lines. This makes sense, because black is better developed and can fairly easily regain the pawn.

On the other plausible capture, 10. Bxd6 Re8 11. e3 Nb6 12. Bxc5 Nxc4?? (12… Nbxd5! is obvious and equal. 13. Nxd5 Nxd5 14. Be2 Bxb2 15. Nxb2 Qa5+ 16. Qd2 Qxc5 17. Rc1 Qb4 18. Qxb4 Nxb4 19. a3 Nd5 20. O-O Be6 =; note that 12… Nfxd5 is also fine; equal after 13. Nxd5 Nxd5) 13. Bxc4 Qc7 14. b4 white won shortly in Gabriell,R (2260)-Meissner,B (2285)/Germany 1993. In the game, white plays in a non-challenging way that gives black much freedom to maneuver and gain an initiative in typical Benoni style.

10… Nb6 11. a4 Nxc4 12. Bxc4 Nh5! Clearly black stands very well now.

13. Bg3 Nxg3 14. hxg3 Qa5 15. Qd2 Bd7 16. O-O a6 17. Qd3 Rfe8 18. Ra3 Re7 19. Rfa1 Rae8 20. Rb3? It was bad, after e.g. 20. Qd1 Rc8, but the text is an elementary oversight that loses a piece.

20...b5 21. Nxb5 axb5 22. Bxb5 Bxb5 23. Rxb5 Qa7 24. Qb3 Re4 25. Rb6 Be5 26. a5 Rb4 27. Rxb4 cxb4 28. a6 Rb8 29. Ra4 Rb6 30. f4 It is more resistant to play 30. Qc4 b3 31. Ra3 f5 32. Qc8+ Kf7 33. Qc4 Rb8.

30… Bf6 31. Kh2 Rxa6 32. Rxa6 Qxa6 33. Qxb4 h5 34. Qb8+ Kg7 35. b4 Qd3 36. Qe8 Qxd5 37. b5 Qe6 38. Qc6 Qxe3 39. Qxd6 Bd4 40. Kh3 Qg1 41. g4 hxg4+ 42. Kh4 Qh2+ 0-1

A battle versus a fellow US Junior.

Michael Rohde – Mark Ginsburg Liberty Bell Open, Philadelphia 9/24/79. Nimzo-Indian Defense.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nf3 O-O 6. a3 The uncompromising Saemisch variation. I did not know it.

6…Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Nc6 8. Bd3 b6 The move 8….d6!? is more careful.

9. e4 Ne8 In the database, black was unsuccessful twice with 9….d5 10 e5! Even so, after the text, white has an edge. What did black do wrong?

10. O-O Ba6 11. e5 f5 12. d5! Na5 13. Qe2 h6?! Black is playing too provocatively. 13… exd5 is an interesting try to alter the structure and get out of the huge bind: 14. cxd5 Bxd3 15. Qxd3 c4 16. Qc2 Nc7 and white is better but black can fight.

14. Rb1 Qe7 In the game Ryskin-Butnorius, Soviet Union 1967, 14…Bb7 was played. White lost after the hideous 15. g4?? but he had 15. Rd1 or 15. d6 with an edge in either case.

15. h3 The direct 15. d6! Qf7 16. Nd2! g5 17. f4 g4 looks very good.

15…g5 15… Bb7 16. d6 Qf7 17. Nd2 g5!? 18. f4! doesn’t inspire confidence.

16. d6 Qf7 17. Nh2 17. h4! g4 18. Ne1 Qg6 19. g3 Ng7 20. Ng2 Nh5 21. Nf4 Nxf4 22. Bxf4 Bb7 and black is worse but not lost yet.

17… f4 18. h4 18. Bd2!? Bb7 19. Ng4! is a big white edge.

18… Bb7? A clear mistake. 18…gxh4 is the best try and although it does look sick, black only has a small disadvantage after e.g. 19. Bd2 Bb7.

19. hxg5 hxg5 20. Ng4?! 20. Qg4! Qg7 21. Qh5! A very nice two-step. This is completely decisive.

20… f3! 20… Qh5 21. f3 leaves white with an edge. The text introduces confusion.

21. gxf3?! Not good. 21. Qe3! Qf4 (21… fxg2 22. Nh6+ Kg7 23. Qxg5+!) 22. Qxf4 gxf4 23. g3! fxg3 24. fxg3 is a big edge for white.

21… Qxf3 Now, surprisingly, black is totally OK. As Gulko said once, “when a good position collapses, it collapses not to equality, but to ruin” (commenting on one of his Serper playoff games in the US Championship. That phenomenon happens here.

22. Qxf3 Rxf3 23. Bg6? A bad blunder, after which black is much better. (23. Be3! Rh3 24. f3 Bxf3 25. Rxf3 Rxf3 26. Kg2! A nice saving resource, if 26… Rf8 27. Rh1.

23… Kg7 24. Bc2 Rxc3?! 24… Nxc4! 25. Bxg5 Nxa3 26. Rbc1 Nxc2 27. Rxc2 Kg6 28. Be7 Ng7 29. Nh2 Rd3 30. f3 Nf5 and wins for black.

25. Bd1 (25. Ne3 Nxc4 26. Rb3 Rxb3 27. Bxb3 Nxe3 28. Bxe3 Kg6 29. Bc2+ Kf7 30. f3 Ng7 31. Bxg5 Nf5 32. Bxf5 exf5 33. Kf2 Rh8 34. Rg1 Bc6 35. Bf4 Ke6 36. Rg6+ Kd5 and wins)

25… Nxc4 26. Bxg5 Kg6 (Black misses a cute knockout: 26… Rh3! 27. f3 (27. Bh6+ Rxh6 28. Nxh6 Kxh6) 27… Nxe5! {A nice tactic – and wins)

27. Rc1 Rxa3 (Again, 27… Rh3! 28. f3 Kxg5 29. Rxc4 Ba6)

28. f4 (28. Rxc4 Kxg5 wins)

28… Nd2 29. Bc2+ Kh5 30. Nh2 Rg3+ 31. Kf2 Rg2+ 32. Ke3 Rxh2


Here’s an upset from the December 1979 Chicago Masters/Experts.

NM Mark Ginsburg – GM Roman Dzindzihashvili Chicago 1979, Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Bg5!? I had learned this dangerous setup while experimenting in the Kan theme match I played against Eugene Meyer in 1978.

9…Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 One way to play is 10… O-O 11. f4 Qb6!? 12. Nb3 Qc7 with a complicated game in view.

11. f4 Qc7?! Tougher is 11…O-O 12. f5 Ne5 13. fxg6 fxg6 14. Nf3 Nf7! A key defensive resource. 15. Bh4 Qc7 and black holds on.

12. f5 gxf5? Making matters very bad. The Grandmaster was playing quickly and simply underestimated the kid. He could try 12… e5 13. Nc2 O-O 14. Ne3 Bb7 15. Rc1 Nc5 16. Ned5 Nxd5 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. cxd5 Qd7 19. f6 Bh8 20. Bc2 and white ratains some edge.

13. exf5 e5 14. Ne6! This wins. Curiously, 14. Nd5!! is an even nicer win: 14…Nxd5 15. Ne6 fxe6 16. Qh5+ Kf8 17. fxe6+ N7f6 18. cxd5 Qe7 19. Bxf6 (19. Rxf6+ Bxf6 20. Rf1 Bxe6 21. dxe6 Qxe6 22. Rxf6+ Qxf6 23. Bxf6) 19… Bxf6 20. Qh6+ and wins.

14… fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! Bb7 Getting out of the way of the rampaging pawn loses: 16… Re8 17. Nd5 (or 17. Rxf6 Nxf6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5) 17… Nxd5 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Qxe8+ Kh7 21. Qh5+ and wins.

17. exf8=Q+ Rxf8 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. cxd5 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Nc5 21. Rc1 e4 22. Bxe4 Bxb2 23. Re1 Be5 24. Bf4 Qf7 25. Bxe5 Qxf1+ 26. Rxf1 dxe5 Fortunately this wasn’t a hard ending to convert because I had no practical experience at this point overcoming ending obstacles.

27. Bb1 Bxd5 28. Rf5 Nd7 29. Rh5 Bf7 30. Rxh7 Bxa2 31. Rxd7 Bxb1 32. Rd6 b5 33. Rxa6 Kf7 34. Kg1 Bd3 35. Kf2 Bc4 36. h4 Bd5 37. Rb6 Bc4 38. g4 Bd3 39. Ke3 Bf1 40. g5 Kg7 41. Ke4 1-0

The Fabulous 00s: Ivy League Cavorting Comparison Tables

March 12, 2008
Name, Age and Undergrad Grad Example Job Postings and Highest Chess Title Earned Humorous Links Cavorting Allegation and Disposition
Eliot L. Spitzer [age 48] Princeton U ’81 Harvard Law Atty General and Governor, NY State, no chess title.  Never won the Manhattan CC  Championship. Spitzer College Prez vs Anarchists Blog
and Heidi Fleiss commenting on Client Number 9 [Spitzer]
Cavorting alleged with high-priced “Kristen” and others in the posh Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC. Suspicious cash transfers noticed by IRS and FBI. Forced to resign as NY Governor, 3/12/08
Mark Ginsburg (age 48, no middle initial) Princeton U ’80 PhD in Information Systems at NYU. Go Violets. Visiting Faculty; UC Berkeley SIMS School and Senior Internet Consultant, JP Morgan; International Master.Won Manhattan CC championship twice.  Won Third Prize in the 1979 Undergraduate Elmer Adler book collecting contest, chief judge was Joyce Carol Oates.
I won with a set of Yugoslav Informants. Puzzling over the symbols such as plus over minus, Oates remarked, “You must be awfully clever. I can’t understand a word of this.” Triumphantly I crowed, “Joyce… the Informants have no words!”Chess Games vs. Jay Bonin
Cavorting alleged with high-priced “Anne Marie” and others at a chess tournament at the posh Players Bar, World Open, Philadelphia. Small amounts of cash changing hands unnoticed by authorities. To sum up, no evidence uncovered to date to support this allegation

The Fabulous 70s: Lloyds Bank 1978

February 12, 2008

The Lloyds Bank tournament was a mainstay of European chess, taking place every August for many, many years at the posh Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch. The hotel was near Bayswater, the King’s Head Pub (where lots of people gathered to play chess, for example, Jon Speelman, Andrew Whiteley and don’t forget its “multi quiz machines”) and Raymond Keene seemed to have a hand in the organization. Keene was often spotted hobnobbing with bank executives and other OBE and MBE types. Stewart Reuben (evidently a poker player and author) was the chief TD. Amusingly, Keene co-won the tournament with Seirawan and Miles one year (1981) and I heard him say after the tournament that his proceeds would just about cover his move (to posh Kensington). Apparently his moving expenses were rather high.

News as of 2/15/08: I just learned that “Britbase” has many of the Lloyds Bank games from various years, and I learned that 1977 was the first Lloyds Bank. Jolly Argentinian personality GM Miguel Quinteros was the first winner as I see on Britbase.

We were all very young at this, the second Lloyds Bank installment. I had just popped over to the 1978 version on the ferry boat after playing in the Belgian “ECI” tournament in Eeklo. Suzzane Wood was the British Girls representative at the ECI, and Irish player Andrew McCarthy wound up winning my junior section ahead of, among others, Danish player Erik Pederson.

Here are some games I had versus well known chess personalities.

GM Heikki Westerinen (FIN) – M. Ginsburg Sicilian Scheveningen, Keres Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. g4 h6

In a more recent post, I discuss 6…Nc6!? here dispensing with 6….h6.

7. Bg2 Nc6 8. h3 Heikki liked this slow treatment but it should promise zero.

8…Bd7 9. O-O Nxd4 Interesting for black is 9… Be7 10. f4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bc6 12. Be3 Nd7 13. Qd2 g5!? (Too ambitious? – but it pays off) 14. Bd4 Rh7 15. e5? (White misses a chance with 15. b4! to claim an edge) 15… dxe5 16. fxe5 Nxe5 17. Rad1 Qc7 18. Ne4 O-O-O 19. Qc3 Ng6 20. Bxa7 Rxd1 21. Rxd1 Nf4 22. Bf3 Nxh3+ and black won in 31 moves, Sveshnikov,E (2525)-Lputian,S (2585)/Tilburg 1992.

10. Qxd4 Bc6 More sensible is the equalizing 10… Qc7 11. Be3 Be7 12. Rad1 O-O 13. f4 Bc6 14. f5 b5 15. a3 e5 16. Qd3 a5.

11. b4 Qb6?! Here, more natural is 11… a6 12. a4 Be7 13. Be3 O-O 14. b5 e5 15. Qd3 Bd7.

12. Qc4 Be7 13. Be3 Qd8 14. Rad1 14. b5 Bd7 15. e5 Rc8 is OK for black.

14… Rc8 15. Qb3 Qc7 16. Rd3 b6 Again, more natural is 16… a6 17. a4 O-O 18. b5 Be8.

17. f4 g6 Black can defend after 17… O-O 18. g5 hxg5 19. fxg5 Nh5 20. g6 Bd7 21. Rxf7 Rxf7 22. gxf7+ Kxf7 23. Bf3 g6 with chances.

18. Rf2 Nd7 19. Bd4?! (Indicated is 19. a4!) 19… O-O 20. f5 Bh4 21. Rfd2 Bg5 22. Rd1 Possible is 22. fxe6 Bxd2 23. Rxd2 Ne5 24. b5 Bb7 25. Nd5 Bxd5 26. exd5 Qe7 27. Re2 fxe6 28. dxe6 Kh7 and the game is level. The game toddles on with both sides continuing to commit inaccuracies.


Position after 22. Rd1 – chances are about level.

22… Rfe8 The primitive and somewhat surprising 22… exf5!? 23. gxf5 gxf5 24. Nd5 Bxd5 25. Qxd5 Ne5 26. Rc3 Qb8 27. exf5 Rxc3 28. Bxc3 Rc8 is about even.

23. Bf2 Ne5? Again, the computer-like 23… gxf5 is fine. 24. gxf5 Ne5 25. Rxd6 exf5 and black has no problems at all.

24. Rxd6 Ba8 25. Nb5 Qxc2 26. Nxa7 Qxb3 27. axb3 Rc2 28. fxe6 fxe6 29. Bd4? This is a bad blunder. The simple 29. Rxb6 gives white a significant edge.


Position after the 29. Bd4? miscue.

29…Rxg2+! Of course. Black gets an initiative.

30 .Kxg2 Bxe4+ 31. Kf1?! If 31. Kg3!, 31…Nd3! 32. Rxd3 Bxd3 33. Nc6 Be4 leads to a small white edge. The text should have tossed any winning chances down the drain.

31…Rf8+ 32. Bf2 If 32. Ke1 Nd3+ and draws.

32… Be3?? What’s this? A bad tactical blackout. The obvious 32… Bh4 33. R1d2 Nd3 draws with no problem, for example 34. R6xd3 Bxd3+ 35. Kg1 Bxf2+ 36. Rxf2 g5 37. Nc6 Be4 38. b5 Bd3 39. Ne7+ Kg7 40. Rxf8 Kxf8 41. Nc8 Bxb5.

33. Rd8! Oops. Now white just wins. Boo!

33…Bg5 34. Rxf8+ Kxf8 35. Bxb6 Bc2 36. Re1 Nd3 37. Rxe6 Bxb3 38. Re4 Bd2 39. Ke2 Bd5 40. Kxd3

Black resigns. Really a poor game.


M. Ginsburg – Julian Hodgson (2255) Tarrasch Defense

This is one of those pre-database encounters. I cannot find it in the regular online sources.

1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. b3 c5 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Nf6 6. O-O Be7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. cxd5 exd5 9. d4 Ne4 10. Bb2 Bf6


Position after 10…Bf6. So far, so normal.

11. e3?! Much stronger is 11. Na4! hoping for 11…b5? (11… b6 is correct) 12. Nxc5! Nxc5 13. Rc1! with a white edge. Many games have seen black fall into this trap, for example Stefansson,H (2470)-Bosch,J (2305)/Arnhem 1989, 1-0, 34. The variation 11. Na4 b6 occurred in a hugely entertaining and wild game between Bent Larsen and Margeir Petursson. Let’s see it:

11. Na4 b6 12. Rc1 Ba6 13. dxc5 Bxb2 14. Nxb2 bxc5 15. Nd3 Re8 16. Re1 Qb6 17. e3 Rad8 18. Bf1 c4 19. Nf4 Nb4 20. Ra1 Qf6 21. Kg2 Nc3 22. Qc1 Ncxa2 Craziness on the board!
23. Qa3 cxb3 24. Qxb3 Bc4 25. Bxc4 dxc4 26. Qxc4 Rc8 27. Qb3 Qc3 28. Qa4 Qc4 29. Reb1 a5 30. Qxa5 Ra8 31. Qh5?? Here, the amazing shot is 31. Qf5!! and white is better. There follows 31…Nc2 (31… g6 32. Qg5 Nc2 33. Nd5 Re6 34. Nf6+ Kg7 35. Ng4 Kg8 36. Qh4 Qa6 37. Nh6+ Kg7 38. Nxf7 is overwhelming for white) 32. Nd5 Nxa1 33. Ng5 and white has successfully won the day.

31… Nc2 32. Rb6 Nxa1 This is just a bluff on white’s part. 33. Ng5 h6 34. Rxh6 gxh6 35. Qxh6 Ra6? (35… Nc2 wins; white has no discernible threat.) 36. Qh7+ Kf8 37. e4 Here Bent could have launched with 37. Nfe6+!? Raxe6? (37… Qxe6 38.Nxe6+ Rexe6 39. Qh8+ Ke7 40. Qxa1 Nb4 41. Qb1 Rab6 42. h4 Nd5 43. Qf5 Rb5 with complete insanity) 38. Qxf7 mate – the rather rude point.

37… Rf6 38. Nd5 Rxf2+ 39. Kxf2 Qd4+ 40. Kf3 Qg7 41. Qf5?? The right move is 41. Qh4! with an edge. If 41…Qg6 (41… f6 42. Nh7+ Kf7 43. Nhxf6 Rh8 44. Qf4 Qf8 45. Qf5 Qa3+ 46. Kg4 Qd6 47. Nh5+ Ke8 48. Qc8+ Qd8 49. Qe6+ Kf8 50. Qf5+ Kg8 51. Qg6+ Kf8 52. Qg7+ Ke8 53. Ndf6+ Qxf6 54. Nxf6+ Kd8 55. Qd7 mate!) 42. Qh8+ Qg8 43. Nh7 mate)
41… Qg6 Now black is winning. The crazy game with all its roller-coaster fortune changes is almost over. Poor Bent. 42. Qf4 (42. Nh7+ Kg7) 42… Nc2 43. Nf6 Rd8 44. Qe5 Nd4+ 45. Kg2 Nc6 46. Qb2 Nab4 47. h4 Ke7 0-1 Larsen,B (2520)-Petursson,M (2535)/Gausdal 1985.

Back to the Hodgson game.

11… Bg4 Young Julian has no problems at all.

12. h3?! Another bizarre choice. However, 12. Ne2 Qa5 13. Re1 Rfd8 14. h3 Bxf3 15. Bxf3 Ng5 16. Bg2 Ne6 17. Qc1 cxd4 18. Nxd4 Re8 19. Qd1 Nexd4 20. Bxd4 Bxd4 21. exd4 Re4 22. Rxe4 Qb6 and white resigned, (Young) Georgiev,V (2245)-Dobrev,N (2310)/Shumen 1995 was not a good white experience either.

12… Bxf3 13. Bxf3 cxd4 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Bxe4 dxe3 16. Qxd8 exf2+ 17. Rxf2 Bxd8

To sum up the opening, white has played like an idiot, lost a pawn, and faces an uphill struggle to draw. Not good “preparation.” I achieve the draw by making some tricks with the bishop pair in order to get bishops of opposite colors. Even that finale contained some dangers, but in the end I figured out a drawing formation.

18. Kg2 Bb6 19. Rd2 Rad8 20. Rad1 Rxd2+ 21. Rxd2 Rd8 22. Rxd8+ Bxd8 23. a3 g6 24. Kf3 Kf8 25. b4 a6 26. a4 Nxb4 27. Ba3 a5 28. Bxb7 f5 29. g4 fxg4+ 30. Kxg4 Kf7 31. Bxb4 axb4 32. Kf4 Kf6 33. Bd5 h5 34. Bb3 Bc7+ 35. Ke4 Kg5 36. Kf3 Kh4 37. Kg2 g5 38. Bc4 g4 39. hxg4 hxg4 40. Be6 Kg5 41. Kf2 Kf4 42. Kg2 Bb6 43. Bb3 Kf5 44. Kg3 Bc7+ 45. Kg2 Ke4 46. Be6 Kf4 47. Bb3 Kf5 48. Bd1 Kg5 49. Bb3 Kh4 50. Be6 g3 51. Kf3 b3 52. Kg2 b2 53. Bf5 Bb6 54. Bb1 Kg4 55. Bh7 Kf4 56. Bb1 Ba5 57. Bh7 Be1 58. Bb1 Ke5 59. a5 Kd6 60. a6 Kc7 61. Bd3 Kb6 62. Kf3 Bf2 63. Kg2 Kc7 64. Kf3


At least I held a draw after the gruesome debut.

Andrew Martin (2340) – M. Ginsburg Sicilian Irregular, early ….b6

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Be3 e6 7. Bd3 Nge7!? An interesting position that hasn’t been seen much. Also possible is 7… Nf6 8. f4 Bb4 9. Qf3 Rc8?! (Here, 9… d5! 10. e5 Ne4 11. Nde2 Nc5 12. O-O-O Nxd3+ 13. Rxd3 O-O looks OK for black) 10. O-O Bxc3 11. bxc3 d5 12. e5 Nxd4 13. cxd4 Ne4 14. f5 exf5 15. Qxf5 led to rapid white victory in 25 moves, Braghetta,S-Perovic,B/Toscolano 1996.

8. O-O The positional and sophisticated treatment, not one for a legendary hacker like Andrew, is 8. Ndb5! Ng6 9. Be2 d6 10. O-O Be7 11. a4 O-O 12. Qd2 a6 13. Na3 with a nagging edge.

8… Nxd4 9. Bxd4 Nc6 10. Be3 Be7 11. Qh5 Nb4 12. f4 Nxd3 13. cxd3 O-O 14. f5


Position after 14. f5

14…d5 It is more sensible to defend with 14… Bf6 15. Rf3 g6 16. fxg6 fxg6 and black is all right. The text looks nuts but it can be justified with a rather difficult variation on the next move (15…exf5!).

15. Rf3 h6? The most tactically alert reaction is 15…exf5! 16. Rh3 h6 17. Bxh6 g6! 18. Rg3 Qd6! threatening Qxg3 with an unclear game after 19. Bxf8 Bxf8. Weaker is 15… dxe4 16. Rh3 h6 17. Bxh6 gxh6 18. Qxh6 Qd4+ 19. Kh1 Qg7 and this is losing for black after 20. Rg3.

16. Rg3 dxe4 17. dxe4 This is bad for black, but not lost yet.

17…Bc5?? This should lose immediately. 17… Bf6 18. Qxh6 exf5 19. Qh5 Be5 holds on, with white retaining an edge.

18. Qxh6? The flaw in black’s thinking is exposed by the brutal 18. Rxg7+!! Kxg7 19. Qxh6+ Kg8 20. Bxc5 bxc5 21. f6 Qd4+ 22. Kh1 and after that spite check, black has to resign.

18… Bxe3+ 19. Qxe3 exf5 20. Rd1? Here white misses another great blow: 20. Nd5!! – the point of this zinger is to block black’s response Qd4+ when white plays Qe3-h6.


Position after 20. Nd5!! (Analysis) – A fantastic shot.

There is no defense. For example, 20…Bxd5 (20… f6 21. Nf4 Qe7 22. exf5 Qxe3+ 23. Rxe3 wins) and now the delightful 21. Qh6! g6 22. Rh3! and mates! The desperate 20…Kh8 is crushed by the nice maneuver 21. Qc3! f6 (forced) 22. Nf4! and wins.

20… Qf6 21. Rf1 Rad8 22. Rxf5 Qd4 23. Nd5 Qxe3+ 24. Rxe3 f6 1/2-1/2

Of course, white still has an edge in this ending, but it’s nothing like before. It’s quite possible he had spotted some of the decisive variations listed above after he made his move, a common phenomenon with human players and very disheartening. Disgusted, he “throws in the towel” with a draw offer and we head off to the pub.

NM Colin Crouch (2300) – M. Ginsburg Sicilian 2. c3 Lloyds Bank, Round 10

1. e4 c5 2. c3 The move 2. c3 brings a general air of irritation to the proceedings.

2…g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. cxd4 d5 5. exd5 The move 5. e5 is a whole different story. These days, 5. e5 is considered the most promising way to try to achieve a small edge. The text should achieve very little.

5…Nf6 6. Nc3 Nxd5 It’s more usual to play 6… Bg7 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Nge2 Nbd7 9. Nf4 (not 9. O-O Nb6 10. Bb3 Nfxd5) 9… Nb6 10. Bb3. In the 70s and 80s this was explored quite a bit. However, black should be OK. For example, 10… a5 11. a4 (unpromising is 11. a3 a4 12. Ba2 Bf5 13. O-O Qd7 14. Qe2 h6 15. h4 Rac8 16. Be3 Ne4 and black is active) 11… Qd6 (Nimzovich wouldn’t like using the queen as a ‘blockader’ but this move has its points, the queen eyes the important squares b4 and f4) 12. O-O Bd7 13. Qe2 and now a sample continuation is 13…Rfe8 (Is this natural move a TN? – prior games from British player Wade have seen the unnatural 13…Rfc8) 14. Re1 Rac8 15. h3 h6!? (We’ll see the point of this mysterious move shortly) 16. Nb5 (What else?) 16…Qb4 17. Ra3 Bxb5 18. axb5 a4 19. Ba2 g5! 20. Nd3 Qxb5 and black is fine.

7. Bc4 Nb6 8. Bb3 Bg7 9. Nf3 O-O 10. O-O Bg4 11. d5 N8d7 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Rc8 14. d6 TN A novelty from Mr. Crouch! Colin was very nervous at the board and reminded me of USA’s own Walter Browne. Previously seen was the poorly played game 14. Re1 Nc5? (Correct is 14…Ne5! 15. Qe2 Re8 16. Bg5 Qd7 and it’s equal; same goes for 16. Bf4 Nec4) 15. Bg5 Nxb3? 16. axb3 Bxc3 17. bxc3 Qxd5 18. Qxd5 Nxd5 19. c4 and white won shortly, Abbasov,F (2290)-Hussan,M (2108)/Abu Dhabi 1999. This massacre is a good cautionary tale against opening up the a-file when it’s not warranted. Objectively Crouch’s TN in my game promises nothing.

14… exd6 15. Qxb7 Nc5 16. Qf3 Qf6?! The most accurate was 16… d5! 17. Rd1 Ne6! but this requires tactical alertness. The point is 18. Nxd5 (18. Qg4 h5 19. Qb4 d4 is unclear) 18… Nd4! 19. Rxd4 Bxd4 20. Qe4 Bc5 21. Bh6 Nxd5 22. Bxd5 Qf6 23. Bxf8 Qxf2+ and black is very happy. More to the point, this line does not liquidate into a boring ending as the text does and keeps winning chances.

17. Qxf6 Bxf6 18. Nb5 d5 Playable and probably better is 18… Rfd8 19. Bf4 Rd7 20. Nxd6 Rcd8 21. Bxf7+ Rxf7 22. Nxf7 Kxf7 23. Rfd1 Nd3 24. Bc7 Rd4 25. Bxb6 axb6 26. Rd2 Bg5 and white is a very tiny bit better, maybe. Black should be able to draw it.

19. Be3 Bxb2 20. Rab1 Be5 21. Nxa7 Rc7 22. Nb5 Rcc8

Agreed drawn. White has a small edge and can and should play on, for example 23. Rbd1 Rfd8 24. Rfe1 Bf6 25. Re2 Nxb3 26. axb3 Rb8 27. Red2 Rb7 28. g4 and white can certainly try here. Maybe Colin’s nerves were frazzled from the perplexities of his innovation.


Kevin J. Wicker (2305) – M. Ginsburg Trompovsky (“Ruth’s”), Round 8 Lloyds Bank 1978

My opponent was British Boys U-18 co-champ in 1970!

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 e6 3. e4 h6 4. Bxf6 Qxf6 5. Nf3 b6 6. Bd3 Bb7 7. Qe2 d6 8. Nc3 Qd8 9. O-O-O Be7 10. Kb1 a6 11. g4 Nd7 12. h4 c5 Playable is 12…b5!? The text looks suspicious but maybe it’s all right.


Position after 12…c5. Perplexing.

13. g5 cxd4?! With hindsight, 13…b5! is much better. Then, 14. dxc5 Nxc5 offers balanced chances since 15. e5 d5! promises nothing.

14. Nxd4 Ne5 15. g6!? A weird idea that leads to equality. White had the simple 15. f4 Nxd3 16. Qxd3 with an advantage.

15…Nxg6 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Qh5 O-O 18. Qxg6 Rf6 19. Qg4 Qf8 20. Rhg1 Rc8 20…Qf7 21. Bc4 b5 22. Bb3 Re8 23. Rd3 Bf8 24. f3 b4 25. Ne2 d5 26. h5 a5 is about even. Nothing is really going on.

21. e5?! Impetuous and not very good.


Position after 21. e5?! – one mistake leads to another.

21… dxe5? And a mistake in reply. Of course throwing in 21… Bf3! is correct; the lame 22. Qxg7+? Qxg7 23. Rxg7+ Kxg7 24. Rg1+ Kf7 leaves black better.  The queen sacrifice is white’s best try but black can defend:  21…Bf3 22. exf6! Bxg4 23. fxe7 Qf4! 24.Rde1 Bf5 and black is better.  White has 25. Nd5!? but black can defend simply enough with 25…exd5 26. Bxf5 Qxf5 27. e8=Q+ Rxe8 28. Rxe8+ Kf7! 29. Rb8 Qxf2 and whatever advantage there is rests with black in this ending. It is most likely drawn.

22. Ne4 Rf4 23. Qxe6+ Kh8 24. Qg6 Qf7 25. Nd6 Qxg6 26. Bxg6 Bxd6 27. Rxd6 Rxh4? Black had the simple 27… b5 28. Rb6 Bc6 29. Rxa6 Rxf2 30. Ra7 Rcf8 31. Rc1 e4 and he’s all right.

28. Rxb6 Rc6 Black uses the trick 29. Rxb7? Rxg6! with bank rank mate after 30. Rxg6? Rh1+. However, white simplifies and black still has some problems to solve.

29. Rxc6 Bxc6 30. Kc1 Kg8 31. Re1 Rh1 Now it’s no fun to play 31… e4 32. Rd1 Kf8 33. Rd6 Bb5 34. Re6 Rh1+ 35. Kd2 Rf1 36. Ke3 Re1+ 37. Kd4 Re2 38. c4 Bd7 39. Rxa6 Rxb2 40. Bxe4 Rxf2 41. c5 and white has a huge edge. Black plays the relatively best move. Still, this ending has some nasty pitfalls.

32. Rxh1 Bxh1 33. Kd2?! White isn’t playing so well either. He had 33. c4! to keep the black bishop off the d5-g8 diagonal.

33… Kf8 34. Ke3 Again, 34. c4! Ke7 35. Ke3 Kf6 36. Be8 with torture.

34… Bd5 35. b3 Ke7 36. c4 Bb7?? A dreadful blunder. After the obvious 36…Be6 37. c5 a5 no win for white can be seen. Furthermore, if white gets too frisky he can even lose! Here is a nice variation: 38. Kd3 Bd5! 39. Kc3 Kf6 40. Be8 Ke7 41. Bh5 Be4! (An excellent and counter-intuitive move, blocking a pawn, to enforce g6 to get the remote passed pawn rolling)


Position after 41…Be4! (analysis) – get the doggies rollin’

Continuing, 42. a3 g6 43. Be2 h5 44. b4 axb4+ 45. axb4 h4 46. Bf1 (or 46. Bg4 Bg2 and wins) 46…g5 47. b5 g4 and black wins! This is a good example of what happens when one side ignores the potential of the other side. Another strange and tactical variation is 36…Be6 37. Kd3 Bg4! 38. b4 h5 39. Ke4 Kf6 40. f3! Be6! 41. Bxh5 Bxc4 42. a3 Ke6 and it’s drawn.

37. b4 Kf6 38. Be8 Ke7 39. Bh5 Kf6 40. a4 Now the pawns roll and it’s all over. Terrible ending play by black.

40…g6 41. Be2 Ke6 42. c5 h5 43. b5 axb5 44. axb5 Bd5 45. b6 h4 46. Bg4+ Ke7 47. f4 Kf6 48. Bc8 exf4+ 49. Kxf4 g5+ 50. Kg4 Ke5 51. b7 1-0


It’s really too bad Lloyds Bank stopped sponsoring this fantastic August event. Can we hope for its return? It was last held, I believe in 1994, featuring a very young Alexander Morozevich capturing the honors. Indeed, as a ChessBase report on Melody Amber states, “Morozevich is a brand-name for mind-boggling chess, ever since he made his international break-through at Lloyds Bank in 1994, where at the age of seventeen he took first prize with a staggering 10.5 out of 11 score, using unusual and outdated openings. “


All hail Britbase. Here’s a frothy encounter I dug up from the 1981 Lloyds Bank, courtesy of Britbase PGN.

Entertainingly, my opponent during the game assembled 4 espressos all in a row. Maybe one too many? In the game, a perhaps unique thing occurred in the opening – check the note to my 12th move.

M. Ginsburg – Yves Duhayon (BEL) Lloyds Bank 1981, 8/25/81 Round 6 Sicilian/Hedgehog Irregular

1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 c5 3. Nc3 b6 4. e4 Bb7 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bb4 7. Ndb5! Nf6 8. Nd6+ This is the first Nd6+ move. See note to my 12th move. 8… Bxd6 9. Qxd6 Bxe4 10. Nb5 Na6 11. Qa3! Very energetic. White has massive compensation.

11… Nc5 12. Nd6+ Is this a world record? This is the second time a knight has arrived on d6 with check in the opening. Readers, do you know of a clever way to go through databases to search for this?

12…Ke7 13. Nxe4 Nfxe4 14. b4 Nb7 15. Qf3 d5 16. Bd3 Qd6 17. O-O Qxb4 Condemned man // hearty meal.

18. cxd5 exd5 19. Bxe4 dxe4 20. Qg3 Everything happens with gain of time, a sure sign the initiative will prevail. Black is being knocked around like a punching bag.

20…Qd6 21. Qxg7 Rag8 22. Bg5+ Ke8 23. Qf6 h6 24. Rfd1 Qxf6 25. Bxf6 Rh7 26. Rac1

A particularly gruesome mating attack is on the board. Black is forced to give up.


Readers’ Help Needed

Readers: does anyone have a summary list of the LB winners from 1977 to 1994?

Photo Time

Let’s wrap up with a photo from the 1991 Lloyds Bank.


From left: British Women’s many-time champion Sheila Jackson, the author, Sarah Christopher (now de Lisle), and Fenella Cohen.  Lloyds Bank 1991, Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, London, England

The Fabulous 70s: Breakthough Games

January 17, 2008

Certain games boost a player’s career. Here are 2 examples from 1973 (I started tournaments September, 1972 by winning a Novice Section in Washington, DC – credit to Bobby Fischer and his eponymously named “Fischer Boom”!). I am writing this paragraph on the day Bobby Fischer passed away.

Game 1.

In the first game, be aware I knew no theory at all. I had just studied a Reinfeld book, “Comprehensive Chess Course” which was actually a bunch of Reinfeld paperbacks stuck together into one thick hardcover. The game showed me I had some ability to “make the pieces dance” – cool tactics always captivate Juniors. Let’s see it. At the time I was “B” strength.
NN – M. Ginsburg Offhand Game, May 5, 1973. Quartermadero, CA.

Bird’s Opening.

1. f4 d5 2. e3 c5 3. Be2 Nc6 4. Nf3 g6 5. O-O Bg7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Ne5 Nxe5 8. fxe5 Nd7 9. d4 cxd4 10. exd4 Qb6 11. Kh1 O-O 12. c3? 12. Nc3 is the right move.

12…f6! 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. Bd3 Bg4 Too advanced for me was 14…e5! 15. Nd2 (15. dxe5?? Ng4 wins for black) 15…Ng4 with a huge plus.

15. Qc2 Ne4 I adorned my scorepad with a “!” here but 15…e5! is again also strong. The text is fine too.

16. Re1 Nf2+ 17. Kg1


Position after 17. Kg1. What’s the crazy kid gonna do?

17…Bxd4? I gave this one “!!” but in fact it is too crazy and it should only draw. It is a cool move, though. The right moves are the cold-blooded 17…Rac8 18. Qd2 e5! or the immediate 17…e5 again, in both cases winning easily.

18. cxd4 Qxd4 19. Be3? Really quite amazingly, the ignoring move 19. Bxg6! draws for white. The text runs into my planned refutation and it all comes up roses for black.

19…Qxd3 20. Qc7


Position after 20. Qc7. This time, I get it right.

20…Nh3+! I gave it a “!” on my scorepad and it is nice. White gets overloaded.

21. gxh3 Rf1+! Very nice. I gave it “!!”. White has no chance to breathe.

22. Rxf1 Qxe3+ 23. Rf2 Rf8 24. Qg3 Qe1+ 25. Kg2 Bxh3+! The final overloading shot. I once again awarded it “!!”. I must have really liked this game (I reconstructed it after the fact into my first scorepad). 26. Kxh3 Rxf2 27. Nd2 Qe6+ 28. Kh4 Qf6+ 29. Qg5 Rxh2+ 30. Kg4 h5+ 0-1

The entire game, played poolside, must have taken only about 20 minutes but it was very enjoyable (at least for the player with the black pieces). I don’t know how strong NN was.

Let’s see the second game, actually more important: the first time I managed to beat a USCF expert. It occurred in a DC Chess League (DCCL) game, June 1, 1973.

Game 2.

Mark Ginsburg (1692, JCC “A”) – Kent Goulding (2023, “Toadgrabbers”).

Sicilian Defense, Dragon, Classical. 6/1/73.

The Toadgrabbers were the perennial league powerhouse. This 1973 edition featured strong players Mark Diesen, Allan Savage, and Richard Delaune. Our team was crushed in this match, but I had a happy ending on my board. Interestingly, my opponent Kent went on to become a world-class backgammon talent, authoring books (such as Backgammon with the Champions) and playing in many top-level matches. He also seems to have played some poker.

His brother, Phil “Flippy” Goulding, was my contemporary at Pyle Junior High School (that’s when I played in my first tournament) and subsequently at Walt Whitman HS. We would play Bethesda-Chevy-Chase (BCC HS) – they had future IM Steve Odendahl – many mirthful HS matchups. I also played in some tournament bridge events with Flippy and I heard a rumor that later on in life, Flippy captured the OTB Texas State Chess Championship. Future World Junior Champ Mark Diesen was a HS over in the other direction, Potomac HS. As far as I know, Mark Diesen and Flippy now both reside in Texas.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6

It’s a Dragon and I know zero theory. What to do? The Classical Variation!

7. Be2 d6 8. f4 O-O 9. O-O Bd7 10. Kh1 Qc8 11. Rc1 I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

11…Ng4 12. Bg1 At the time, I was sort of proud of this “nestled” bishop and the fact my 10th had vacated the g1 nestle point. Today, of course, all this is ho-hum. Black is fine.

12…Nxd4 13. Bxd4 e5 14. Nd5!? Re8 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Bc3 h5 17. Bb4 Qd8 18. Bc4 I’m just sort of flailing around. My opponent is tempted into winning an exchange, but I get the material back.

18…Qh4 19. h3 Nf2+ 20. Rxf2 Qxf2 21. Nc7


Position after 21. Nc7. Black has a strange defense here.

21…Bc6 A curious computer defense here is 21… Bh6! 22. Qf1 Qf4 23. Rd1 Qxf1+ 24. Rxf1 Bf4! with a level game. The text is also OK; maybe white is a tiny bit better.

22. Nxa8 Bxe4 23. Qf1! Thanks to the counterattack on f7, White is fine.

23…Qxf1+ 24. Rxf1 Rxa8 25. Rxf7 Kh8 26. Bd3 Bd5 27. Rd7 Bc6 28. Re7!? A very odd “winning attempt” that unexpectedly succeeds. Retreats are a simple draw.

28…Bf8 White is OK after losing the exchange, but it certainly should not be anything for me.

29. Bxg6 Bxe7 30. Bxe7


Position after 30. Bxe7. Black is fine but he has to be accurate.

30…e4?! Black starts to go wrong. If memory serves, he was in time trouble (Time Control 50 moves in 2 hours). He had the surprising and instructive 30… h4! with the idea 31. Bxh4 Kg7! 32. Bd3 Rh8 33. Bf2 Rxh3+! and he stands better. This isn’t forced, but in the game black doesn’t get any kind of play. After 30…h4! his rook gets active in all lines. The problem with the text is that white can easily deal with the passed center pawn, and black’s rook doesn’t have entry points.

31. Bxh5 Kg7 32. Bc5 b6 33. Be3 Rf8 34. Be2 White’s bishops have reached nice blockading squares.

34…Kg6? Black should play 34… Kf6 35. g4 Ke5; that’s where the king belongs. It will be tough for white to win that position. For example, 36. Kg2 b5 37. c3 a5 38. a3 b4!? with some counterplay. White is a bit better, but it will be a tough slog.

35. g4 Rh8 Now black has very little play.

36. Kg2 Bd5? Necessary was 36…b5. The text is the last straw.

37. c4! White’s advantage has reached decisive proportions.

37…Be6 38. Kg3 Rc8 39. b3 b5 40. c5! Sealing things up. Black is helpless.

40…Bd5 41. Bxb5 Rc7 42. Kf4 Rf7+? Losing material but it was lost anyway.

43. Ke5 Ba8 44. Be8 Kg7 45. Bxf7 Kxf7 46. Kd6 1-0


I was really shocked that I won this game. Beating an Expert! This milestone helped me realize that even (oooh!) Masters might be fallible. Soon I would be feasing on the likes of John Meyer , Robert Eberlein, and other locals such as Duncan Thompson, but that would take two years or more.


Postscript: My First Tournament


My First Tournament was the 8-round Swiss, September 1972 Novice Section at the Ramada Inn, Thomas Circle, Washington, DC. I managed to win it! Here are two games.



Mark Ginsburg (UNR) – Moses Ma (1288) Round 4, Alekhine’s Defense

Ah, to be unrated again!   Even though I knew no theory, I was able to get “OK” positions in most openings.

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. exd6 cxd6 7. Bd3 e5 8. d5 Nb4 9. Be2 Bf5 10. Na3 Qe7 11. Be3 e4 12. Nd4 Bg6 13. Ndb5 Nd3+ 14. Bxd3 exd3 15. O-O Qd8 16. f4 Be4 17. Re1 g6??  This miscue ends the game.

18. Bd4 Rg8 19. Rxe4+ Kd7 20. Qxd3 a6 21. Qe3 Nxc4 22. Nxc4 axb5 23. Nb6+ Kc7 24. Rc1+ Kb8 25. Re8 Qxe8 26. Qxe8+ Ka7 27. Qxa8# 1-0

I include this bad game just for historical interest – my opponent certainly went on to make societal headines: Moses Ma went on to become “Dr. Ma”, a very well known Information Technology consultant and head of a large consulting company, MMG Partners. Very amusingly, he also made big headlines in the 1980s when his MIT squad was busted in a tournament bridge cheating scandal. His team was using hand signals to relay their cards – the gory details are here. The hand signals were much too fidgety and they were caught on camera. Ooops! At the time, it was the most “shocking” etc. etc. scandal, but I had a good laugh due to the sheer ineptitude of the cheaters. I have it on good authority that the MIT Dean, when contacted for comment, said “A card game? Who cares!” and hung up the phone.

Let’s fast forward to the last round. I have 6.5 points out of 7, and my opponent Ziegler has 6. He needs to win!

Ziegler – M. Ginsburg, Round 8. September 3, 1972.



Let’s see this nervous battle royale featuring the usual last round items of jitters, blunders, and incredible saves.

1. d4 Nf6 2. b3?! e6 3. Bb2 Bb4+ 4. c3 Be7 5. e3 b6 6. Qf3 Nc6 7. e4 Bb7 8. Bd3 e5?! 9. d5 Nb8 10. Nh3 Ba6 11. c4 Bb4+? 12. Nc3 d6 13. O-O Bc8 14. a3 Bxc3 15. Bxc3 Bxh3 16. Qxh3 Qd7 17. Qg3 Qg4 18. Qxg4 Nxg4 19. f3 Nf6 20. f4 Nbd7 21. b4 O-O 22. f5 Nh5 23. Bd2 h6 24. g4 Nhf6 25. g5 hxg5 26. Bxg5 Ne8?? Passive but playable is something like 26… a5 27. Kg2 Nh7 28. Bd2 Nhf6 29. Kf3 Kh7 30. Rg1 Rh8 31. h4 Kg8 32. Bg5 and the game toddles on.

27. Be7 Ooops! Oh no! Not to worry, I play on.

27…Ndf6 28. Rf3 g6 29. Kh1 Kg7 30. Bxf8+ Kxf8 31. fxg6 fxg6 32. Bc2 Kg7 33. Raf1 b5? It was losing anyways but this is crazy.

34. cxb5 Rd8 35. h4 Nh5 36. Rg1? The infilatration with 36. Rf7+ is simplest.

36… Nf4 37. Rfg3 Nf6 38. Rc3 Rd7 39. Re1 Kh6 40. Bd1 Rh7 41. Kh2 Ne8 42. Kg3 Kg7 43. Rh1 g5 44. h5 Kh6 45. Kf2 Nf6 46. Ke3 Inaccurate. Stronger is 46. Rc4.

46…N6xd5+? What the heck is this? Another crazy sacrifice from the kid. Last round nerves? Black had 46… Ng2+! 47. Kd3 Nf4+ 48. Kc2 Nxe4 49. Rc6 Rf7 50. Re1 Nf6 51. Ra6 g4 with some counterplay. This is the best black’s being doing in some time.

47. exd5 Nxd5+ 48. Kd2 Nxc3 49. Kxc3 d5 50. Rf1 The computer has white up by more than 4 points. It’s looking grim for my drawing hopes.

50…g4 51. Bxg4 Rg7 52. Rf6+ Kg5 53. Rg6+ Rxg6 54. hxg6 Kxg6 55. Bf3 d4+ 56. Kd3 Kf5 57. Bd5 Kf4 58. Be4 Kg4 59. Kc4 Kf4 60. Kd5 Ke3 61. Kxe5 d3 62. Bxd3 Kxd3 63. Kd5 Kc3 64. Kc6 Kc4 65. Kxc7?? The nice shot 65. b6!! wins. For example, 65…cxb6 (65…axb6 66. Kxc7 b5 67. Kc6) 66. b5 Kb3 67. Kb7 Ka4 68. Kxa7 Ka5 69. a4 and wins. Very good. The text draws!

65…Kxb5 66. Kb7 a5 1/2-1/2

And I win first place, a happy ending! I received $100, which in 1972 was a lot of money! I immediately bought a beautiful pearl-handled cap gun for $5 at the local Woolworth.

Not a good finale for Mr. Ziegler, who threw his pen.


The Fabulous 70s: Trying to Make the Early Bishop Move Work

January 5, 2008

In the 1970s, I spent a lot of time (with some help from future IM Steve Odendahl) trying to make this work:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4!?


Position after 5…Bb4!? – the so-called “Pin Variation”.

I was particularly interested in 6. e5 Nd5 7. Qg4 g5!? with bizarre complications. Unfortunately the computer shows this is not very good (details shortly). Interestingly, the computer (Rybka in this case; sometimes I use Fritz) does have a good answer for the response advocated by theory: 6. e5 Nd5 7. Bd2. After 7…Nxc3 8. bxc3 Be7 9. Qg4, the computer plays 9….g6 (not 9…O-O?! 10. Bh6 and black has insufficient compensation for the exchange) and has some cleverness in store – see below. The situation is very sharp with white hoping to prove attacking chances outweigh the damaged structure. ICC tests are ongoing.

In the meantime let’s see some analysis.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4

Variation “Zero” (an early ‘digression’ sideline): 6. Nb5!? Note I don’t write 6. Ndb5 because the c-knight is pinned!


Position after 6. Nb5!? – an early digression.

Before we get into the main move, 6. e5, first we have to look at 6. Nb5!? – an interesting try. Very safe but rather static for black then is 6…O-O 7. a3 Bxc3+ 8. Nxc3 d5 9. Bd3 (or 9. exd5 exd5 10. Bd3 Re8+ 11. Ne2 Nc6 with equality) 9…d4 10. Ne2 Nc6 11. O-O e5 with an equal game. For more dynamism, my ICC blitz reaction move, 7…Ba5!? is riskier but playable and better to play for a win. It just looks nicer to keep this bishop. For example, 8. b4 Bb6 9. e5 Ne8 and it’s not clear what white has, since 10. Bd3? a6! 11. Nd6 Nxd6 12. exd6 Qf6! is good for black (although white won a minor league game, S. Schubert-T. Geissler, Bochum 1992, after some bad blunders by black later).

Black can also immediately grab but it’s risky: 6…Nxe4?! 7. Qg4! Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bf8 9. Qg3! and white has more than enough compensation.

Conclusion: on 6. Nb5!? black should play 6…O-O and then on 7. a3 he can decide to go simple with 7…Bxc3+ or go complex with 7…Ba5. In both cases, he is fine.

Variation Zero-2: An Even Rarer Early Digression Sideline. 6. Bd3. White is not hoping for anything special; he just wants to avoid black’s preparation after 6. e5. IM Bobby83 likes to play this on ICC. More on this move later.

Let’s go ahead now and look at the main move, 6. e5.

6. e5 Nd5 A preliminary comment. This position does not look so bad for black. Therefore, I predict a revisiting of black’s chances in over the board play as, inevitably, strong players resuscitate forgotten lines with computers. White has some major tries now.

The first thing to notice is that

A. 7. a3 gives nothing: 8…Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Qc7 9. Nb5 Qxe5+ 10. Qe2 Qxe2+ (note that 10..Qf6 is playable too) and black has no problems; in fact agreed drawn at this point in 1/2-1/2 Alzate,D (2419)-Pazos,P (2363)/Medellin 2000. A possible humorous and realistic continuation is 11. Bxe2 a6 12. c4 axb5 13. cxd5 exd5 with a fantastic rare pawn formation and of course… equality since black’s ruined formation gives him no real chances despite the pawns to the plus.


Position after 13…exd5. The rare “Expanded Pawn Square” formation. It’s equal!

B. Let’s try 7. Qg4. The best reply is 7…g6 -there is insufficient compensation after 7…O-O?! 8. Bh6 g6 9. Bxf8, as has been shown many times, although some points were scored from the black side in early (For example, Julian Hodgson) due to surprise value. And, unfortunately, my 70’s funkiness of 7…g5?!! (TN) is met by 8. Ndb5! and black has a bad game after 8…Nc6 9. Qxg5! Qxg5 10. Bxg5 O-O 11. Bd2 and white keeps an edge.

Let’s go back to 7. Qg4 g6. White has three common responses; the first one being the least important.

B0. 8. a3 – slow. Black’s best reponse is 8…Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Qc7! 10. Qg3 (what else?) and now black can play 10…Nxc3 11. Bd2 Ne4! or 11. Bd3 Nc6! in both cases with an OK game. For example, 11. Bd3 Nc6 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Bh6 b6! 14. O-O Bb7 with equal chances. Previously, the weak 10…a6? (Czerniak-Van Scheltinga, Helsinki 1952, 1-0 was played). Black also has the somewhat weaker 10…Qxc3+?! 11. Qxc3 Nxc3 12. Bd2 and now 12…Ne4! is correct with a very small white edge and not 12…Nd5? 13. Nb5 and white was on top and won convincingly in Toth-Blasko Fuzesabony 1994.

B1. 8. Qg3 which looks and is slow – but not quite as slow as 8. a3, since it does guard e5.

B2. 8. Bd2 – more logical.

Let’s go through each of these in turn.

Variation B1, 8. Qg3


Position after 8. Qg3.

B1. 8. Qg3 Nc6! This is correct and not 8…Nxc3? 9. bxc3 Be7 10. Bh6 and white has an edge. If 9. Ndb5?! O-O 10. Bh6 a6! 11. Bxf8 Qxf8 and black is getting huge compensation, for example 12. Nd6 f6! 13. Nxc8 Rxc8 14. exf6? Nd4! and black is way on top.

So white should play the more sensible 9. Nxc6 and we reach an important position. 9….dxc6 is OK, but kind of boring, after 10. Bd2 Qa5 11. Be2 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Be7 13. O-O O-O. More dynamic is 9…bxc6!?, for example 10. Bc4 Qa5 11. Bd2 Ba6! with balanced play. Or, 10. Bh6? Qa5! and black is just better: 11. Bd2 (crawling retreat) 11…O-O with an edge, or 11. Kd2? craziness, refuted by 11…Qc5! and the threat of 12…Nxc3 coupled by 13…Qd4+ next will win for black.

Conclusion in Variation B1: 8. Qg3 is harmless and is defused by 8….Nc6!

Variation B2, 8. Bd2


Position after 8. Bd2.

Let’s look at Variation B2, 8. Bd2. Black should play 8…O-O and now there is a large branch. Let’s see some lines.

B20. 9. Qg3 Nc6! transposes to variation B1 and black is happy.

B21. 9. a3?! Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 f5! gives white a bad structure.

The crazy looking but not bad

B22. 9. h4!? is met by the calm 9…d6! 10. h5 dxe5 11. hxg6 fxg6 12. Nf3 Bxc3 13. bxc3 Nc6 14. Bd3 Qf6 and black has sufficient defensive chances. Black also has an alternate defense: 9. h4 Nc6!? 10. Nxc6 dxc6 11. h5 Qc7!? to guard laterally.

On the developing move

B23. 9. Bd3!?, black is advised to play 9…d6! 10. exd6 (or the slow 10. Nf3 Nc6 with equal chances) and then play 10…e5! – looks fine. For example, 11. Nf5 Bxf5 12. Bxf5 Bxc3 13. bxc3 Qxd6 and white has nothing. Chigorin would enjoy his knights here.

A trap to avoid: On 9. Bd3, not 9…Qa5 10. O-O Nxc3 11. a3!! Nxe2+ 12. Qxe2 Bxd2 13. Nb3 and white has an edge! – a fantastic tactical shot.

Another possibility: the weird

B24. 9. Bc4?! is met by the simple two-step 9…d6 10. Nde2 Nxc3 11. Nxc3 d5! – for example, 12. Be2 Nc6 13. f4 f6! and black is doing well. Similarly, 12. Bb3 Nc6 13. O-O-O Qc7 14. f4 Nd4! and black is again fine. On the other hand, the frisky 10…dxe5 11. O-O-O Nc6 12. Bh6 f5 13. Qg3! is dangerous. It’s important to leave white with a bad structure and very few attacking chances.

Finally, we have to consider the primitive capture that displaces white’s own king to weaken only temporarily black’s pawns.

B25. 9. Nxd5?! Bxd2+ 10. Kxd2 exd5. As you might imagine, black has no problems. For example, 11. Qf4 Nc6 = or 11. Bd3 d6 12. Qf4 dxe5 13. Qxe5 Nd7 =.

Conclusion: in variation B2, 8. Bd2 O-O, black has to be very alert because there are numerous attacking tries, each with specific defensive responses. No easy day at the office, but black has enough resources.

In the next post, I will look at Variation C, the main line, which is 7. Bd2.

My original 1970’s notes on 6. e5 Nd5 7. Qg4 g5?! are on tiny pieces of Hotel Lombard (New York City) stationery! This is a good illustration of pre-computer work, very disheveled.

The only organized pre-computer person I saw was backgammon and poker-player IM Elliott Winslow. His notes were in micro-small handwriting with a fine-tip pen – incredibly precise and legible even in tiny (I would say 6 pt. font) writing. He would put incredible margin notes into ECO’s and Informants. What a diligent worker! I wonder how many important TNs came from his writings (one cannot say ‘scribblings’).

Similarly, others have tried another audacious early bishop maneuver to get active on the c5-f2 diagonal and dispense with the “Kan” preventative …a7-a6:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5!?


Position after the cheeky 4…Bc5!? – The Basman-Sale Variation

We’ll have to discuss this one too because the two tries are thematically linked.

Watch this space for the discussion. For now, simply notice that forcing variations are great in blitz. The chances are high that a rare variation will catch the opposition by surprise, even if they are dubious. Which of the two lines above is ‘superior’ objectively? Hard to say. It might turn out to be the Pin Variation. That’s one of the things we will figure out as the discussion grows. Does this (4…Bc5) have a name? News bulletin as of January 12, 2008: according to chessmanitoba, this is called the Basman-Sale variation (see comments).
Readers: send in any games that are interesting with the Pin Variation or the Early Bc5 Bishop Sortie lines.

Fabulous 70s: Going Way Back to 1974

December 6, 2007

Pictured are the winners of the D.C. Chess League “B” Division, the one and only “Potomac B” squad!

I will need help with some missing first names from the readers.  (supplied by a timely comment by John Mingos!)

From left, standing: John Mingos, Bob Owen, me, David Matzke. I remember Mingos and Matzke from the JCC Chess Club in Rockville, Maryland – my first chess club! It was a short drive away from my home in Bethesda, MD on 70-S (now named Interstate 270). Of course I was too young to drive and my father had to do the honors.

Seated from left: Bob Adams, Alan Kline, and John Struss.


It was strange but fortuitous for chess development how strong chess-wise the small region was.

Potomac, MD had World Junior Champ Mark Diesen who won it in Groningen, Holland, in 1976 – GM Kavalek (his second) wrote a nice article for Chess Life & Review about it.

Bethesda – Chevy Chase MD area: IM’s me, Steve Odendahl, Larry Kaufman

elsewhere in Maryland: Robert Eberlein, Allan Savage, David Thompson, Larry Gilden

Washington DC: John Meyer, Eugene Meyer

Virginia: dearly departed: Charlie Powell, 7-time Virginia State Champ and hero of the National Chess League.

As the San Francisco Mechanics Institute chess club newsletter wrote in 1995, ” A perennial state champion in his native Virginia, he moved to San Francisco in the late 1970s and played in several Northern California State Championships (Bagby Memorials), but will be best remembered for his friendly manner and good sportsmanship. ”

We also had from Virginia another dearly departed strong player, future IM Richard Delaune (4-time state champ) who also died much too young in 2004 at 49. The USCF writes, “Richard K. Delaune was born December 24, 1954. Rick Delaune was an International Master, Life USCF member, VA state champ in 1974, 1975, 1981, and 1985. Richard’s highest Established over-the-board rating achieved was 2468 (after the 1998-09-13 “Hall of Fame Open” held at the U.S. Chess Center where he tied for 1st place). Rick was also active in USCF Correspondence Chess. He was also one of the nicest, easy-going guys you’d ever want to meet. He was 49 when he died of a heart attack while home with his mother on Saturday, May 29th.”

The Fabulous 70’s: Britain’s Starlets Battle Spassky in a Simul!

November 28, 2007

Boris Spassky gave a simultaneous exhibition to Britain’s best schoolboys in January 1979. And what a crew!

Let’s see the photograph, from the Evening Standard, January 22, 1979. As Spassky said, this match was “hard bread” (!) indeed; he lost 5, drew 12, and won only 13. Click several times until it is clear enough to see details. We won’t comment on the humorous choice of the word ‘Starlets’ in the headline.


1979:  Boris Spassky versus Britain’s Starlets in the Hard Bread Simul

In the photograph, we have Nigel Short (!) on the left (Nigel drew), then Julian Hodgson (Julian won brilliantly in 22 moves; I assume the game score exists somewhere), then Glenn Flear (who also defeated Boris), then David Cummings (who lost, although up a piece, to a mating attack in the last game to finish). Next to Cummings on the far right we have William Watson.

Suzzane Wood sent me this photograph in that very same year, 1979, and labeled it “Watch Out America, We’re as good as you now.” In 1979, this was more or less a joke but in the intervening years indeed the UK made fantastic strides, whereas the US has never really seemed to get its junior act together.

And Elsewhere in the Blogoverse

Petrosian simul verus Short, A. Martin, etc.

The Fabulous 70s: Washington Plumbers win the 1976 National Chess League!

November 28, 2007

Before the current day US Chess League, there was the pre-Internet phone matches conducted between various cities in the National Chess League.

Here is a photo of the 1976 season winners, the Washington Plumbers (so named after Nixon’s squad of burglars who broke into the Watergate hotel and started the snowball of corruption that sank the Nixon presidency). The photo was taken at the “It’s Your Move” chess club in Georgetown, Washington DC – this club has long been defunct, the victim of rising rents in popular Northwest Washington.


The 1976 National Chess League Victors, the “Washington Plumbers” (click several times to see details)

Some classic personalities in this photo. Starting from left, masters Sam Greenlaw and Robert Eberlein helped out in key matches. Third from left, very strong master Charlie Powell scored a clutch win (figuring out immense complications in severe time trouble) vs Jack Peters in a semifinal round. Next to Charlie is team captain, BVI’s own Bill Hook. Next to Bill is one of the Meyer brothers, John Meyer. Next to John is senior master Larry Gilden with his hand in the plunger, a player with one of the highest ratings in the country in the early 1970s. As Charlie Hertan writes recalling 1972, “Senior masters were very rare in those days, and except for national tournaments like the U.S. Open or fledgling World Open, you wouldn’t expect to see more than one, sometimes two, at a weekend event. Larry Gilden was usually the top-ranked player, with a “monster” rating of about 2410.”

I still remember Larry showing me a “philosopher’s wheel” (a circular chart he had made with lots of tiny Elliott Winslow-style letters). In the latter part of the 1970s, Gilden suffered a decline in playing strength. Nevertheless, he defeated me in a long up and down game where he was white in a g2-g3 Sicilian Taimonov. After the game, he exclaimed “Thank you!” I looked at him and he said, “You made me feel like a Gilden again.” This is a pretty cool after-game speech.

And next to Larry, second from right, is 1976 World Junior Champ Mark Diesen – he went to Potomac HS, the HS right next to mine (Walt Whitman HS in Bethesda). Finally, on the right, we had our star, Czech emigrant GM Lubosh Kavalek. It also didn’t hurt in 1978 that we were able to play guest star Swedish GM Ulf Anderssen in a match (Ulf was in town losing a short match 1 1/2- 4 1/2 to Lubosh in a Volvo exhibition match). I played on this team in the 1978 season.
For more information on this ancient precusor to today’s US Chess League and some games, click here.

January 2008 Postscript on Larry Gilden

I saw this in the liquor store review blogosphere: (pay close attention to the end of the interview)


I was standing in a nearly empty Pearson’s this evening, just before closing time. A gray-haired gentleman with coke-bottle-thick, black-rimmed glasses looked up from the shelf that he was stocking.

He had no idea who I was.

“How would you have done against Bobby Fischer?”

Without even thinking about it, he replied, “I played him in 61. Beat him head-to-head.”

“I don’t believe you.”

We talked further.

It was the New York Chess and Checkers Club, and Larry Gilden, later named a chess FIDE Master, played Fischer in about 25 games of 5-minute speed chess.

“Beat him once, played him to a draw three times.”

“He won twenty games?”

“Yeah, about that.”

“Was he that good?”

He nodded his head. “He was a genius. It’s a shame he didn’t get the rest of his life in order.”

“Is it true you have a gambit named after you?”

I had heard of the Gilden Gambit.

He denied it. “I’m in the books, but I don’t think there’s anything named after me.”

I think the author of the italicized quote is “Don Rockwell.” At any rate, I have the Ginsburg Gambit – maybe our names are similar and things got confused. 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Bc4!!?? Nxe4 – the Ginsburg Gambit. I wonder if Gilden knows about it? I will post my 1970s analysis on it, on this site, shortly. I did realize Larry worked in a liquor store, now we know (thanks to the blogosphere) which one!   The liquor blog also contained a link to a nice finish in the game Gilden-Jakobsen, World Junior Champ., The Hague, Netherlands, 1961.

The Fabulous 70s: News of the Weird and my First Dzindzi Encounter

November 11, 2007

Chess Life & Review editor Burt Hochberg really foisted some lu-lu covers on the chessplaying masses in the 1970s.

Here is a typical shocker, Paul Morphy’s hand (actual size). Shades of the macabre Edgar Allen Poe!


A whole nation of chessplayers suddenly found themselves putting their hand on the cover photo to compare. And the truth became apparent: Morphy had a small, delicate, feminine hand. You can see for yourself by noticing the relative size of the push-pins.

When the nation got tired of macabre comparisons, it was time to look inside for the latest, juiciest, Rating List. Here is the State of the Union of the US Juniors, September 1977.


Some notable names and numbers:

Mark Diesen, World Junior Champion, heads the pack at 2440 (an astronomical rating back then). Close behind are Michael Rohde and Yasser Seirawan. Note the Whitehead brothers are neck and neck with Paul at 2269 and Jay at 2256. Girome Bono, #13, is still active on ICC. I used to play Karl Dehmelt (#16) quite a bit on Philadelphia-area tournaments. 13-year old Joel Benjamin is #22 at 2199 (one point shy of master!). I’m #18 at 2212. Moving down, “Collins Kid” Louis Cohen is #35 at 2142. Chess author John Donaldson is #37 at 2141 (a late-bloomer, obviously, at 18 years of age). Peter Winston is #41 at 2131 and right next to him is the fellow who wrote about him in a recent Chess Life, Charlie Hertan at 2129. Billy Adam, subject of my related article, is #46 at 2119. #47, Richard Kaner, won the National HS one year in a highly improbable upset year.

The under-16 list is also amusing. #33, Miles Ardaman, at 1784. #47, David Griego, at 1642. Everybody starts somewhere! The #2, Tyler Cowen, might have quit chess early but nobody can say he didn’t keep busy. And he has an amusing new book out titled “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist” – I kid you not. In a weird cross-disciplinary coincidence, he was mentored in economics by Schelling at Harvard (author of the famous Schelling curves, showing incentives to contribute, and a key citation in my NYU Information Systems dissertation.

Just to convince people there’s actually chess on this site sometimes, here’s an upset win I scored over GM Roman Dzindzihashvili way back in December 1979 (The Chicago Christmas Masters/Experts). Ben Finegold quizzed me recently on ICC as to the existence of this game (his father witnessed it). Yes, it does exist, and here it is, unearthed from the tomb of my ancient scorepad pile.

NM Mark Ginsburg (2373) – GM Roman Dzindzihashvili (2595) Chicago Christmas M/E 12/30/79 Round 4.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Bg5

I was extremely familiar with this position, having just played Eugene Meyer a Kan-thematic training match in Washington, DC.

9…Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 More careful was 10… O-O 11. f4 Qb6 12. Nb3 Qc7. In the early stage, Roman was playing quickly, obviously underestimating the unknown kid.

11. f4 Qc7 And now more circumspect was 11…O-O 12. f5 Ne5 13. fxg6 fxg6 14. Nf3 Nf7! 15. Bh4 Qc7 with a playable game.

12. f5 gxf5? This makes everything worse. Relatively best was 12… e5 13. Nc2 O-O 14. Ne3 Bb7 15. Rc1 Nc5 16. Ned5 Nxd5 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. cxd5 Qd7 19. f6 and white is much better, but not completely winning.

13. exf5 e5 Strangely, it’s already lost for black.


14. Ne6! The computer shows another unusually attractive way to win: 14. Nd5!! Nxd5 15. Ne6!! (an exquisite and extremely rare double knight sacrifice; you’ve heard of double bishop sacrifices (Lasker-Bauer) but how often have you heard of a double knight sacrifice?) 15…fxe6 16. Qh5+ Kf8 17. fxe6+ and white cruises. For example, 17…N7f6 18. cxd5 Qe7 19. Bxf6 (or keep sacrificing for a quicker kill, 19. Rxf6+! Bxf6 20. Rf1 Bxe6 21. dxe6 Qxe6 22. Rxf6+ Qxf6 23. Bxf6 and wins) 19… Bxf6 20. Qh6+ with destruction. At the time, I saw my 16th move “Excelsior” theme and decided to go for that. It wins easily enough, but I have to rate the computer line higher in creativity and speed of execution.

14… fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! A great move to be able to play against a strong player. Black’s rook is frozen to f8.


16…Bb7 The problem is that 16… Re8 is crushed by 17. Nd5 (or by 17. Rxf6 Nxf6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5; it’s unusual that white has so many winning lines so early) 17… Nxd5 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Qxe8+ Kh7 21. Qh5+ and this pleasing pendulum maneuver nets white a second queen. So black must resort to the text and the rest is just a mop-up with no special carefulness or technique required; a good thing because at this age I had none.

17. exf8=Q+ Rxf8 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. cxd5 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Nc5 21. Rc1 e4 22. Bxe4 Bxb2 23. Re1 Be5 24. Bf4 Qf7 25. Bxe5 Qxf1+ 26. Rxf1 dxe5 27. Bb1 Bxd5 28. Rf5! Nd7 29. Rh5! The very active rook cannot be stopped.

29…Bf7 30. Rxh7 Bxa2 31. Rxd7 Bxb1 32. Rd6 b5 33. Rxa6 Kf7 34. Kg1 Bd3 35. Kf2 Bc4 36. h4 Bd5 37. Rb6 Bc4 38. g4 Bd3 39. Ke3 Bf1 40. g5 Kg7 41. Ke4 1-0

After the game, Roman feeling the anger of losing to a weaker player (I’ve felt that way many times), said “You have just bought yourself bad luck for rest of life.” This was tame compared to the Bill Lombardy speech I received after Bill lost on time at a World Open, but I knew what Roman meant – I would be in for heavy weather the next couple of times we met. And indeed, the next time we met (I was white again) I won his queen but he gained too much play with a Rook, Knight and Pawn and scored a positionally well-executed victory that made it into the Robert Byrne New York Times column (World Open, 1980).


Here is that game:

M. Ginsburg – GM Roman Dzindzichashvili World Open 1980

1.g3 c5 2.Bg2 Nc6 3.e4 g6 4.Ne2 The sort of off-beat knight placement in anti-Sicilians favored by the dearly departed Billy Adam.

4…Bg7 5.c3 e5 6.O-O Nge7 7.Na3
O-O 8.Nc2 d5 9.d3 Be6 10.f4 dxe4 11.dxe4 Bc4 12.Bd2 Qd3 13.Rf2
Rad8 14.Ned4
The sort of tactic that might “work” but no player is very happy about executing. It wins black’s queen but gets a structurally very bad game.

14…exf4 15.Ne1 fxg3 16.Nxd3 gxf2 17.Nxf2 cxd4 18.Qc2
Be6 19.Kh1 dxc3 20.Bxc3 Nd4 21.Qb1 Nec6 22.Qf1 Ne5 23.b3 h5
24.Rd1 Ng4 25.Rd3 Nxf2+ 26.Qxf2 Nxb3 27.Qc2 Rxd3 28.Qxd3 Nc1
29.Qe3 Bxc3 30.Qxc3 Rc8 31.Qe3 Nxa2 32.h3 b5 33.Qxa7 b4 34.e5
b3 35.Qb7 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 Rc2 37.Kg3 Nc3 38.Be4 Nxe4+ 39.Qxe4 Rc3+

An amusing bygones-era photo collage of the combatants in this game – the unlucky GM, as you probably can guess, is on the left – his photo is circa 1992, I think, and mine was from April 1979: