Archive for the ‘The 1980s’ Category

The Fabulous 80s: Richard Delaune!

December 25, 2010

International Master Richard Delaune (from Virginia) was a fixture in the Maryland/Virginia/DC tri-‘state’ chess scene.  He also played in numerous World Opens.  For some reason “Chess Canada” referred to him as “R.K. Deliune” and nobody ever found out why.   Richard passed away at a relatively young age (so did his Virginia chess friend, Don Barr).

Richard's in the back row on the left, seated. 1990s? Maryland?

The photo above may have been taken by the recently deceased Bill Hook but I’m not sure.

He was often the last player to finish in a round; a hard-worker, strategically minded, contesting more often than not long endings.  I remember waiting for him at some Maryland tournament to finish so we could go and having to give up after hanging out at the tournament several hours.

I played Richard in the last round Maryland State Championship 1982. I won that game (catapulting ahead of him in the standings, previously he was a 100% record with 4 out of 4) to win the event with 4.5 out of 5) and drew him sometime later in another tournament (Lawrence Pfefferkorn Open?).  Those were the only two times we were to play.  I don’t know when he became an IM, exactly.

The 1982 encounter? : 

[Event “Md. St. Ch.”]
[Site “College Park, MD”]
[Date “1982.??.??”]
[EventDate “?”]
[Round “5”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Mark Ginsburg”]
[Black “R K Delaune”]
[ECO “E41”]
[WhiteElo “2389”]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Bd3 O-O 6. Nge2 cxd4 7. exd4 d5 8. a3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Be7 10. O-O a6 11. Ba2 Nc6
12. Qd3 b5 13. Rd1 Bb7 14. Qh3!

This is a dangerous setup that I had seen mentioned somewhere.  I think Petrosian had success with it.  The move d4-d5 is always in the air.
The immediate 14. d5 exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bf6 does not look like much.
14… b4 14… Na5 seems more to the point.
15. axb4 Nxb4 16. Bb1 Rc8 17. Bf4!
A rather novel way to attack.  Bishop to e5, other forces gang up on g6.  It was motivated by black moving his N/c6 offside.

Position after 17. Bf4!

17…Qb6 18. Be5 g6 19. Qh4?!
As the game shows, 19. Nf4 right away is correct.
19…Qd8 20. Qh3 Qb6 21. Nf4! Nd7 22. Qh6 Nf6 23. Ra3!
The last reserve is brought up before the decisive action.

Time to act

24. Nxg6! fxg6 25. Bxg6 hxg6
26. Qxg6+ Kf8 27. Bxf6 Bxf6 28. Qxf6+ Ke8 29. Qh8+ Ke7 30. Qg7+ Ke8

(30… Kd6 31. d5! Nxd5 32. Ne4+ Kc6 33. Rc1+ Kb5 34. Nc3+ Nxc3 35. Rb3+ Ka5 36. Qxc3+! Rxc3 37. Ra1 mate)

31. Ne4! Qxd4 32. Qg8+ Ke7 33. Qg5+ Ke8 34. Rxd4 Rxd4 35. Qg6+ Ke7 36. Qg7+ Ke8 37. Nf6+ Kd8 38. h3 1-0

The author, New York City, 1983

The Fabulous 80s: Victor Frias!

December 6, 2010

Victor Frias was a very jolly fellow who hailed from Chile.  He lived near me in Washington Heights (upper Manhattan) in New York City in the 1980s and often came over to play blitz vs. me, Jeremy Barth, and whoever else happened to be around.

An anecdote:  some guy standing outside the Marshall Chess Club asked Victor for a ride uptown as I was getting into his car.  “No!” Victor yelled as we drove away.  The guy asked “Why not?” and Victor said “You’re not my friend!”  A real straight shooter!

Another anecdote:  Victor is completely winning as black vs. 2600-rated GM Jan Smejkal in a NY Open up material plus the initiative in a fairly simple ending.  However, Victor’s diaper-wearing kid Pablo has run amok and Victor is distracted trying to round him up.   Play over the game if you are a sadist.  Check out the position after black 45, it was practically resignable for white.

Anyway the baby chasing takes its toll and somehow Victor even loses(?!!) and it’s a good lesson, don’t let a diaper-wearing kid anywhere near a GM encounter.

Another anecdote:  Victor taught me juicy swear words in Spanish including vulgar slang particular to Central America.   A group of us went to a nice Spanish-speaking restaurant in Washington Heights (unless it was ‘Victor’s’ – a Cuban Place on W 75th?).  I got drunk, used many of the words in a loud voice, and was booted.  I fell down between two cars parked outside. Much merriment ensued.

Here’s a photo.

Victor Frias (l.), John Fedorowicz

This photo looks like the sofa at Paige Stockley’s apartment on W 118th St.(?)  and Broadway near the Manhattan School of Music.

Victor often said after waking up from a nap that he was in a time warp because the people at any given party were always talking about exactly the same things years apart.

Victor died some years ago and readers can find my printed “Chess Life” obituary in a back issue.

Here is a crazy game I played versus Victor that made it into the obituary.

First, some background about the tournament. We often traveled to New England on a bus that left out of the Port Authority, W 178 St., NYC (near the GW Bridge).  Sometimes, when we were flush with money, we would rent a car.  Fitchburg, Leominster, Sturbridge, many Mirijanian tournaments!  Ilya Gurevich, a natural comic, called Mirijanian Marijuanian.  No doubt others did too.  This game was played in Fitchburg.   In the first round of this tournament a loud argument broke out between Frias, Mike Wilder, and me.  They wanted my rental car keys!  I was still playing!  I didn’t want to give it to them!  Frias said “Don’t be an asshole.”  I said “I’m still not giving you my keys.”  My beleagued opponent had to get the TD to get us to quiet down as we all actually started pushing and shoving near the board.  Bad sportsmanship!

[Event “Fitchburg, MA”]

[Date “1985.08.01”]
[Round “4”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Victor Frias”]
[Black “Mark Ginsburg”]
[ECO “A43”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 g6 4. c4 d6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. h3 a6 8. a4 e6
9. Bd3 exd5 10. exd5

GM Vugar Gashimov has upheld black’s position numerous times after the currently more popular 10. cxd5 although GM Yermolinksy rates white’s position very highly in the book “The Road to Chess Improvement.”

10…Re8+ 11. Be3 Nh5 12. O-O Nd7 13. Qd2 f5 14. Rfe1 Ne5  

Black is good

I loved my position already!  Curiously, Victor as black achieved a nice Benoni structure in his Smejkal game referenced earlier in the article.

15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. f4 Bg7 17. a5 Bd7 18. Kh2 Qh4 19. Kg1 Qg3 20. Qf2 Qxf2+
21. Kxf2 Bd4 22. Kf3 Nf6 23. Bd2 Rxe1 24. Rxe1 Re8

White really hasn’t done anything wrong so I think i was overoptimistic here.

 25. Rb1?!   This move, of course, is risky!

25…Ne4   Did white miss this one? I felt like I was crawling all over and should win! Especially with my “dynamic” next few moves!  On the other hand, white eliminates the black bishop on d4 and gets his queenside rolling, so he definitely has his resources.

26. Bc1 h6 27. Ne2 g5 28. Nxd4 cxd4 29. fxg5 hxg5 30. b4 Kf7   A very tense situation!


31. Rb2 Ba4 32. g4 Bd1+ 33. Kg2  All of black’s pieces are incredibly active but nothing is clear!

 33…f4 34. Kf1 Nc3

Still keeping the pressure on, or so I thought. Victor, though, was a very tough and resourceful defender.
35. h4  White had to do something!  Both sides were now low on time.

35…Bxg4 36. hxg5 Bh3+ 37. Kg1  White’s king toddles around avoiding 37. Kf2 Nd1+ forking the rook.  Amazingly, I could still not find a win.

 Re1+ 38. Kh2 Rxc1 39. Kxh3 Rd1 40. Bf5 d3 41. Kg2  White’s king darts back.  A very frustrating tableau for black with multiple advanced, threatening passed pawns and nothing clear.

Sharp Tableau

41… Kg7   This is not an impressive move. Looking at it now, 41…f3+!? comes to mind.  If 42. Kxf3 Rf1+ 43. Kg4 Rg1+ I’m not sure what is going on; maybe a perpetual check?  If 42. Kf2 Rh1 and 43. Kxf3 then transposes after 43…Rf1+.

42. Rf2 Ne2 43. Bg4 Rc1 44. Bxe2 dxe2 45. Rxe2 Rxc4  Now he starts playing really well in the rook ending!  I am sure I made inaccuracies in what follows and I get ground down!

46. Re6 Rxb4 47. Kf3 b6 48. axb6 Rxb6 49. Kxf4 a5 50. Kf5 Ra6 51. Re7+ Kg8 52. Kf6 Ra8 53. Re3 a4 54. Ra3 Ra6 55. g6 Ra8 56. Rh3 Ra7 57. Rc3 Ra8 58. g7 1-0

The wily Chilean International Master had completely turned the tables!  Such was life in the tough world of New England Swisses.

The Fabulous 70s: Leslie Braun!

August 12, 2010

Leslie Braun (1936-1998)!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black has a strong move here.

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

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

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

15… Kxf7 16. Qxh5+ Kg8 17. f6

Decision Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fabulous 00s: No Computer Allowed Quizzes

November 4, 2009

Test Your Insight

Here’s a set of tough positions.   Each has interesting strategical and tactical elements.  No computer engines!   The harder you work, the better off you’ll be. 🙂

In each case, I’ll ask a poll question about it.   Post your answer as a comment.

Note: 11/14/09 – I posted solutions directly inline after the diagrams.

Position 1


Black to play

To give you some context about position 1, this was Nakamura-Ramirez from a recent SEA-ARZ USCL match.

Consider the position with black to play.

Support your viewpoint with some verbiage or a brief variation.

Solution: 1…Rb8!! gives excellent winning chances.

Position 2


White to play

In Position 2, above, we have Rini Kuijf (NED) – Stefan Kindermann (W Germany) from the 1988 Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece.  It is white to play.  This is a surprisingly intricate position with many twists and turns. Solve the following poll and post a supporting variation in the comments.

Interestingly (note as of 11/5/09) the poll answers to date are mostly wrong on this one, so it reinforces my view that Position 2 is a very hard puzzle.  Leave a comment with what you feel is white’s best first move.

Solution 11/11/09: Actually both 1. b5 and 1. Nd5 are strong and should win with best play. 1. fxg6? e5! unclear is weak. But you have to be aware that 1. Nd5 Nxd5 2. exd5 Rc2!! 3. Bxg7 Qxd5! piece sac is possible and then be able to work out the path to an edge!  Similarly after 1. b5 axb5 2. Ra7 it’s not a lot of fun, but you have to work out long variations defusing the dangerous try 2…Qb8 3. Rxe7 Rxc3!?.

In some sense, 1. b5 is a little bit cleaner than 1. Nd5 because black gets temporary activity after the piece sae (see above).

The solution was made harder by the confusing poll choices.

Position 3


White to play

In Position 3, your task sounds  ‘simple’ but it is anything but – –  Maximize your winning chances as white.  This is an exceptionally difficult quiz position that was an analysis variation in the game Pasalic-Rensch, USCL 2009.

Try the poll and post a comment with a supporting variation.

This is a very hard quiz and I would rate it at 2500-level.

Solution:  1. Qxe4 Qxb4 2. Nh4! is an iron-clad win in the Q&P ending.

And in Other News

The Arizona Scorpions fell to the Miami Sharks, 3-1 today in the final regular season round of the 2009 USCL.  Our team felt a little bit like the following photo.


Hard to Keep the Eyes on the Prize

But what we really need in the playoffs is some combination of the personalities shown in the next painting.



Oh maybe just play like Eli Wallach.



The Fabulous 80s: A Day of Shame – Losing to John Watson

August 18, 2008

Losing to John Watson???

Witness the “special talent” I showed at the end of the game featured here.  First of all, though, note Larry Evans amusing comment that “international titles have been cheapened.” This way back in 1980!  He would, I think, write these words more forcefully nowadays. 😀

John Watson won the 1980 Bar Point International but in the game above (click to enlarge) I contrived to lose while a rook ahead and easily winning! Game summary: John had an early initiative, I defended with some “active” but dubious looking tactics, then John totally freaked out and lost a rook for nothing – just a spite check. Then I completely totally freaked out and moved my king into a loss when it can go another way to keep the extra rook! Thank you Larry Evans for pointing this out in a syndicated column read by thousands.

The game was so poor I blotted it out of my memory until the verdammt Evans column was published! It was syndicated everywhere, including the Washington Post where I saw it. in a recent Chess.FM interview, John W. also disclaimed no memory of the above game’s details. Lay it to rest? Or put in a hall of infamy for me? I vote the latter.

Pretty sick. Even so, I made an IM norm. Yay.

You Can Never Get Enough 80s

Under the theory that there is never too much 80s, see these amusing news clippings and photos.

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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The Fabulous 80s and Beyond: Dealing with the Leningrad Dutch 7…Qe8

June 17, 2008

First Steps: The Bareev Game and a Wasted TN

In Naestved, Denmark 1988 I was paired against an IM in the first round. Nothing so special about that, but it turned out to be young Evgeni Bareev, rated 2560. Ut-oh, that’s rather high for an IM.  You might wonder why I (2420) was paired in this way in the first round.  It turns out the organizers had consulted what appeared to be the back of a cracker-jack box and instituted quarter pairings throughout the event.  Near the last round, a 1900-player was in serious danger of taking one of the top spots and Gyula Sax was totally freaking out.  Only an upset defeat of that A player prevented a “scandale totale.”

Here was the game.

M. Ginsburg – E. Bareev (2560), Naestved Denmark 1988. Round 1.

1. c4 f5 See this post for a discussion of the poor move order 1. Nf3 f5?.

2. d4 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Qe8 8. Nd5 Hoping for 8….c6? 9. Nxf6+ Bxf6 10. Bh6 or 9…Rxf6 10. Bg5 with a pleasant advantage.

8…Nxd5 9. cxd5 Qb5 Recommended by theory. Curiously, this position was just reached in Yaeger-Young, US Junior 2008, but Yaeger played the innocuous 10. Qc2 now and lost later on. After 10. Qc2 c6 nothing special is going on.

10. e4!?! TN My improvised TN! which was mentioned in passing in an Andrew Martin pamphlet! A fantastic blitz move! Bareev started to think, and think, and think.

Position after the shocker 10. e4!?

10…fxe4 11. Ng5 c6!? The point of all this is revealed after the greedy 11…Qxd5 12. Bxe4 Qxd4? 13. Qb3+! with advantage. Black also has 12…Qb5 13. a4 Qc4 (staying on the sensitive b3-g8 diagonal) and now after 14. Be3 c6, 15. Nxh7 leads only to a draw. On 14…Nc6, 15. Rc1 Qb4 puts black’s queen on a weird place and with 16. b3 white can keep the game going, or venture 16. Nxh7 with as far as I can see nothing more than a draw after 16…Kxh7 17. Qh5+ Kg8 18. Qxg6 Rf6. The conclusion is that 11…Qxd5 is playable, unless I am overlooking something. Bareev did not care to enter into the pawn grab waters.

12. Nxe4 The knight tour continues. If 12…cxd5? 13. Nc3! forks b5 and d5 with advantage. One simple line is 12…cxd5? 13. Nc3 Qa5 14. Nxd5 Nc6 15. Bd2 gaining additional time and then 15…Qd8 16. Bc3 with a solid edge.

12…Qb6! Bareev is too smart for 12…cxd5? and this move, in fact, I had not foreseen.

13. Qe2! The right reaction to get on the e-file. If 13…cxd5? 14. Ng5! Qxd4 15. Ne6 and it looks very loose for black. If 13…Qxd4!?, white can play for an attack with 14. Rd1 Qb4 15. Ng5! with king-side ideas. The threat of Ng5xh7 becomes real after 15. Ng5 Be5 16. Be4!. However, black has 16…Qb5! to defend.

13…Qa6!? Another interesting move. But in this case it may not be best, since 13…Qxd4!? was in fact quite playable.

14. Qxa6? Wrong! After playing inventively, white should continue in that manner and keep the queens on with 14. Qe3. After, for example, 14. Qe3 cxd5? we know that 15. Ng5 gives good chances. But what else can black play? Nf3-g5 is happening anyway! After 14. Qe3!, white has an advantage.

14…Nxa6 White has helped black develop. 15. dxc6? Better is 15. Nc3 Bd7 16. Bg5 Rf7 17. Rae1 with equality.

15…bxc6 16 d5?? A huge lemon. 16. Nc3 Nb4 17. Bg5 keeps white in the game.

16…c5 Of course! Now black is much better. Very poorly played by me.

17. a3 Rb8 18. Ra2 Really rather pathetic.

18….c4? Black gaffes. 18….Bb7! was much stronger. 19. Nc3 Nc7 with Ba6 to come and white is really suffering.

19. Bg5! Now I’m all right again.

19…Bf5 20. Rc1? I make yet another mistake! Jet lag?? After the obvious 20. Bxe7! Bxe4 22. Bxe4 Re8 23. Bxd6 Rxe4 24. Bxb8 Nxb8 25. Rc2 and 26. Ra1, white is right back in it!

20…Rfc8 21. Nd2? Now it’s not the same: 21. Bxe7 Bxe4 22. Bxe4 c3! 23. bxc3 Re8 24. Bxd6 Rbd8 25. Bb4 Rxe4 26. c4 Rc8 with some edge to black. Even so, I should have played this. The text is hopeless.

21…Bd3! With total paralysis. What a bad first round!

22. b4 c3 23. Nf1 Rb7 24. Bh3 Rcc7 25. Be6+ Kh8 27. Ne3 a5! 28. bxa5 Na6! 29. Ng4 Rb2 30. Raa1 Nc5 31. Nh6 Nxe6 32. dxe6 Bd4 33. Nf7+ Kg7 34. Be3 Bxe3 35. fxe3 h6 0-1

Later on, I tried to be more ‘normal’ and I couldn’t have come closer to a KO.

MG – IM J. Sarkar, US Ch. 2006, San Diego
1. c4 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Qe8

I don’t trust this move. It’s so uni-dimensional and committal! (with the crude idea of e5). But how to punish it? White should aim for structures where one of two things happens: 1) achieving the idea of e5 is playable tactically but positionally hurts black! or 2) by changing structures, white can aim to entice black to give up on e5 (for example, reverting to a Stonewall). Then, the fundamental point of Qe8 is lost and white is happy. Let’s see some variations.

8. d5!? A useful space gaining move. But, as we shall see, it is crude and black has counterchances on the dark squares.

Positionally more motivated is my recommendation of 8. Qb3! which of course has been seen in lots of games. In most of the games, though, either one side or the other played inaccurately right off the bat.

Position after 8. Qb3! – Analysis.

Continuing, 8…c6 9. Rd1! which is a very accurate sequence.

As a sidenote, going back to the analysis diagram, the droll point of 8. Qb3 is the rather crude trap 8…e5?? 9. c5+! (Very aesthetic!) 9…Kh8 10. cxd6 cxd6 11. Nb5! e4 12. Ng5! (a fantastic sortie by the two knights!) 12…Qd7 13. d5 and black has a miserable game. For those who like further sadistic variations on this theme, 8…e5?? 9. c5+ Qe6 10. Qxe6+ Bxe6 11. Ng5 Bc8 12. Nd5! wins.

Similarly, 8…Nc6?! 9. c5+! is also a white edge. If white takes away e7-e5, the main point of Qe8 is lost. The clumsy looking 8. Qb3! Kh8 is also met by 9. Rd1.

Let’s proceed with the ‘main line’. After 8. Qb3 c6 9. Rd1, if 9…Na6 for example then 10. c5+! anyway gives an advantage after the forceful sequence 10…Qf7 11. Qxf7 Rxf7 12. Ng5! Rf8 13. cxd6 exd6 14. d5! c5 15. Bf4! Ne8 16. Ne6!. If 10…d5 “Stonewalling” it, this represents a failure of the black principal idea to play e5 and white simply continues with 11. Bf4! enjoying a nice edge.

Korchnoi has also shown in a related line the idea of Qb3-a3 and then the b-pawn can rush up, defeating Dolmatov in a nice miniature. That game went
1. c4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 d6 4. d4 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 c6 (not Qe8, but we see Qe8 soon) 8. Qb3 Kh8 9. Rd1 Na6 10. Qa3! Qe8 11. b4! Nc7 12. Bb2 e5 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Qa5 Na6 15. b5 b6 16. Qa3 Nc5 17. bxc6 e4 18. Nd4 Qf7 19. Rac1 Be6 20. Ncb5 a6 21. Nd6 Qc7 22. Nb7 1-0, Korchnoi-Dolmatov, FIDE WC Candidates, Las Vegas 1999. At the time, this game made a big impression for its consistent positional message.

Lastly, if 8. Qb3 Na6, there is nothing wrong with the thematic move 9. c5+ but it’s not the powerful dagger blow as it is in other lines. After 9…Kh8?! 10. cxd6 exd6 11. Be3 black has an offside knight. More accurate for black is 9…Qf7! 10. Qxf7+ Rxf7 11. Ng5 Rf8 12. c6!? b6 and he should be able to unangle. White can play more abstractly with 9. Bf4!? awaiting events and taking away e5 for the time being.

8…a5 9. Nd4 Na6 10. e4 fxe4 11. Nxe4 Nxe4 12. Bxe4 Bh3 13. Re1 Nc5 14. Bh1 Qf7 15. Be3 Rae8?! The unprejudiced 15…Bf5!, offering a trade of this optically nice bishop, is a good move for black. The text is mechanical and after the upcoming e5 break, white gets some nice squares.

16. Qd2 a4 17. Rad1 e5 18. dxe6 Nxe6 19. Nb5! White has an edge!

19…Qd7 20. f3!? This waiting move I thought was very nice. White shuts down black’s simplifying idea of Bg4 for the time being. But, I had the scary looking 20. Bxb7 c6 21. Nxd6 Rb8 22. Qb4 Nd8 23. Ba7! and the Rybka engine says I can do this, with some advantage.
Correct was 20…Rf7.

21. Nc3 Be6 22. c5?! 22. b3! +=

21…Nf7?! 22…a3! =

23. f4 Bg4 24. Rc1 dxc5? A big lemon. Now white swarms. Better, again, was 24…a3.

25. Qxd7 Bxd7 26. Bxc5 Rxe1+ 27. Rxe1 Rb8? This should have been the decisive blunder. 27…a3 was the last chance. Then, 28. Bxa3 is +=, but not 28. Bxf8?? Kxf8! =.

28. Bd5? White is just hugely better with fantastic piece activity. But I had 28. Re7! first, and if 28…Be8 29. Rxc7 just wins.
28…Bf8 29. Ne4 Bc6 30. Nf6+ Kh8
I get confused by all the possible captures. I start on the right path…

31. Bxf8 Bxd5 32. Bb4?? No!!!! Playing for mate in time-trouble is the wrong thing to do!
Simply 32. Nxd5 Bxd5 33. Re7 and it’s all over, black cannot escape the vice and loses the ending quickly. In the game, black managed to evade the attack and survive!
32..Bxa2 33. Bc3 Rd8 34. Re7 Kg7 35. Rxc7 b5 36. Rb7 Bc4 37. g4
The quiet 37. Kf2! offered better winning chances.

37…h6 38. h4 Rd3? Necessary was Kf8, either with Rd1+ thrown in or without.

This is white’s last chance in the first time control. It’s a problem, white to play and win.

Position after 38…Rd3. Can white solve this tricky problem?

39. g5?? Wrong! White allows black’s trick! The quite beautiful answer was 39. Ne4+ Kf8 (39…Kh7 40. g5! wins) 40. Bf6! setting up a fantastic mating net. if 40…Kg8, 41. Rb8+ Kh7 42. g5! and now 43. Be7 and Nf6+ mating is threatened. Suppose black defends with 42…Rd7. White plays 43. Be7!! anyway! This is worth a diagram.

Position after 43. Be7!! winning (analysis).

All these variations are quite study-like. Another nice one is 39. Ne4+! Kf8 40. Bf6! Ke8 41. Nc5!! hitting the rook, threatening the lethal Rb8+, and winning. Fantastic N & B coordination. I just didn’t have the time to observe all these nice things and forgot to play the knight check in time.

39…hxg5 40. hxg5 40. fxg5 does not seem to make much of a difference.

40…a3! The last move of time control and black finds an equalizing shot! How embittering.
41. Ne4+
Too late for this!

41…Rxc3! 42. bxc3 Bd5 43. Rxb5 Bxe4 44. Ra5 Nd6 45. Rxa3 Kf7 46. Ra5 Ke6 47. Kf2 Nc4 48. Rc5 Bd3 49. Kf3 Kd6 50. Rc8 Kd7 51. Ra8 Kc6 52. Rc8+ Kd7 53. Rf8 Bc2 54. Rf6 Bd3 55. Kf2 Kc7 56. Ra6 Kd7 57. Ra1 Kc6 58. Rd1 Bc2 59. Rd8 Bf5 60. Kg3 As befits a poorly conducted middlegame, it is white now that has to worry.
60…Nd6 61. Kf2 Kc5 62. Ke3 Nb5 63. Ra8 Nxc3 64. Ra5+ Kc4 65. Ra1 Nd5+ 66. Kf3 Kd4 67. Ra4+ Kd3 68. Ra3+ Nc3 69. Rb3 Be4+ 70. Kg4 Kc4 71. Rb8 Nd5 72. Re8 Kd4 73. Re5 Ne3+ 74. Kg3 Nf5+ 75. Kf2 Bd5 76. Re1 Be4 77. Rd1+ Bd3 78. Re1 Be4 1/2-1/2

Postscript – Something Completely Different (Nh3, Nf4)

When Leningrad Specialist Mikhail Gurevich loses a miniature, that is a cause for attention. His opponent, FIDE Women’s ex-WC Stefanova, plays very cleverly in the first phase. This is a way for white to sidestep the main lines we saw above.

[Event “Gibraltar”]
[Site “Gibraltar ENG”]
[EventDate “2008.01.22”]
[Round “2”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Antoaneta Stefanova”]
[Black “Mikhail Gurevich”]
[ECO “A81”]
[WhiteElo “2464”]
[BlackElo “2607”]

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Nh3!? g6 4. Nf4 This knight placement with the idea of a quick h2-h4-h5 makes sense because when black kicks the knight with g5, white has the intermediate move h5-h6! hitting the B/g7 to not give black the time to play himself h7-h6 to keep the pawn chain intact.  Thus the black king side pawn formation will be damaged.

4…Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. h4! Naturally.  h4-h5 will be a problem.

Position after 6. h4!

6…Nc6 6…d6 is also met by 7. h5! – here is some craziness: 7….e5 8. hxg6! exf4 9. gxh7+ Nxh7 (or 9…Kh8 10. Bxf4 with an edge) 10. Bd5+ Kh8 11. Bxf4 with white edge! For example, 11…Nc6 12. e3.

7. h5 g5 8. h6 Bh8 9. Nd3 Nxd4 10. Bxg5 Well, this was the point. Black’s king side is compromised.

10…Ne6 11. Bh4 d5 12. Nd2 c6 13. c4 Ne4 14. cxd5 14. Rc1! was a good alternative here and white retains pressure.

14…cxd5 15. Nf3 Qd6 16. Qb3 Bd7 16…b6 is also possible.

17. Nf4? 17. Rc1 was correct with equal chances.

17…Bc6? Black had the strong 17…N6c5! here and after 18. Qxd5+ Qxd5 19. Nxd5 e6 he is even somewhat better as he will take on b2 next.

18. Nxe6 Qxe6 Curiously, at this stage, black had reasonable defensive chances but soon went under to a tactical trick.

19. Rd1 a5 20. Nd4 Qf7? The unprejudiced 20…Bxd4 21. Rxd4 Rf7! gives the king an escape chance and black has counter-chances.

21. g4 21. Qe3 was also strong.

21…Bxd4 One move too late! White has a huge attack.

22. Rxd4 e5 Black has clearly missed white’s next tactically, but he had no other good moves at this point. He made too many concessions.

23. gxf5! exd4 24. Bxe4 The point! Black’s king has no refuge. After 24…dxe4 25. Qg3+ Kh8 26. Qe5+ is the decisive zig-zag maneuver with Rh1-g1 next.

Rae8 25. Qg3+ Kh8 26. Bd3 b5 27. Qf4 Qa7 28. Qd6 Qf7 29. Rg1 b4 30. Rg7 Qh5 31. Rg8+ 1-0

A crushing defeat inflicted on the veteran by Stefanova, although admittedly there were inaccuracies and black could have completely turned the tables on move 17.

Selected ICC Shouts

Blitzovich(GM) shouts: the study of crime begins with the knowledge of yourself

Finegold notes most people are motivated by achievement… food/sex are ok… but achieving goals and being successful at what you do is more important… ship it!

Detroit-Warrior what do i gotta do to find a hot chess girl??

aries2 googled for “is gasol soft?” and the third link coming back was the name of some chick i met at a vicary party in brooklyn

Chess Art of the Day

This angry picture of “Blokade.”

Search Terms as of June 17, 2008.

These terms were used in searches to stumble across my site.

kramnik 2
icc handle steve odendahl 2
cochrane gambit 2
gyula sax 2
gheorghiu florin 2
transportation of denmark 1
“manuel gerardo monasterio” 1
another country 1983 1
knight chess history 1
modern defense 1

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.

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 80s: The Inimitable Kamran Shirazi

April 7, 2008

The One and Only: Shirazi!

Iranian International Master Kamran Shirazi was a fixture on the NY Chess Scene in the 1980s and a dashing, enigmatic, figure. From Wikipedia, “He was known for playing strange and unorthodox openings. As this was a period of rating inflation, Shirazi’s rating rose rapidly and he became one of the highest rated players in the United States Chess Federation. However, when invited to play in the 1984 U.S. Chess Championship, Shirazi managed only one draw from 17 games, finishing last.[3] In that championship, Shirazi also achieved the dubious distinction of losing the shortest decisive game in the history of the U.S. Championship: his game as White against John Peters, which went 1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.axb4?? Qe5+ 0-1.”

The Bar Point Details

I can add some details probably unknown to Wikipedia: in the early 1980s, a number of us crazy chess players slept over at the Bar Point chess club (14th Street and 6th Avenue in New York City) quite a bit. It was owned at one point by card player Peter Malick and at another point by Bill Goichberg. It started life as a backgammon club owned by err… a backgammon player – readers, need help here. We loved the sandwiches made by sandwich ladies Diana Lanni and Judy Shipman. The night-time denizen roster was strong: me, Jon Tisdall, Michael Rohde, and future poker great Howie Lederer. One night Shirazi showed up into our large, common, sleeping room known as the “Cloud Room.” I think it was called this because of the decrepit oversized pillows issued billowing clouds of dust creating “clouds” when they were moved around on the foam sofas. Shirazi enters the Cloud Room and announces “I am divorcing.” Tisdall hugs one particular pillow and says “You’re not getting my pillow.” I would categorize this as typical chess player banter. Shirazi was impressive in 1980’s tournaments with the ladies’ pick-up line: “Just Hold Me.” This line works. Fortunately his rating inflation led to my own because I defeated him numerous times in the 1980’s and 1990s, amassing a large plus record. The trick was to stay alert and not fall for some crazy Shirazi tactic. Many players were unable to do this (even strong ones) and succumbed to his strange play. One of his trademarks that you will see in the games below are wild, seemingly amateurish (OK, often amateurish) pawn lunges and strange minor piece formations.

Shirazi vs. Zuckerman

A typical dialog overheard at the Manhattan Chess Club Championship: Shirazi: “I am an artiste… I move the chess pieces… trying to create art….” Bernard Zuckerman (representing science and rationality): “I have no idea what you are talking about.” Well, let’s put some 1980s Shirazi games before the viewing public and let them make up their own minds.

On to the Chess!

Game 1. Kamran takes on a “rock”, GM Anatoly Lein.

Shirazi – Lein, US Championship 1986 French Winawer 4. Ne2 variation

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Ne2 dxe4 5.a3 Be7 6.Nxe4 Nd7 7.Bf4 Ngf6 8.Qd3 A rather common sideline of the set of Winawer uncommon sidelines. Black is not supposed to have problems, but look what happens to the veteran!

9…O-O 9.O-O-O b6 10.Nxf6+ Nxf6 11.Qg3? The game continuation is just good for black.

11…Ne4! 12.Qe3 Bb7 13.f3 Nf6 14.Be5 Qd7? A boo-boo in return. The simple 14…Nd5 15. Qd3 Bg5+! 16. Kb1 a5! is very good for black as is 16. f4 Bh6! 17. c4 f6! – in both cases black has a strong initiative and Shirazi did not like to defend.

15.Kb1 Rac8 16.Nc3 a6? Bizarre and slow. 16…Nd5 is completely fine for black.

17.Bd3 b5 18.g4 The lunge 18. Qg5! is objectively stronger here.

18…Nd5 19.Nxd5 Bxd5 20.g5 Bd6 This instructive sequence builds a defense: 20…a5! 21. Qf4 Bd6 22. Rhg1 g6! 23. Rg3 Bxe5 24. dxe5 b4 25. Qh4 bxa3 26. Rh3 h5! 27. gxh6 Qd8! and black is fine.

21.Rhg1 c5?! And now black is really asking for it. He had the simple 21…Bxe5 22. dxe5 Rfd8 23. Rg3 c5! 24. Rh3 g6 25. Qf2 Qe7 and black is solid.

22.Rg3 c4? Now the situation demands the utmost care. He needed to play 22…cxd4! and now the sacrifice fails: 23. Bxh7+? Kxh7 24. Rh3+ Kg8 25. Qd3 f5! 26. gxf6 Bxe5 27. Qh7+ Kf7 28. Qxg7+ Ke8 29. Qxf8+ Kxf8 30. Rh8+ Kf7 31. Rh7+ Kxf6 32. Rxd7 Rg8 and by the immutable laws of Sturm und Drang, black winds up winning the ending. If white plays the superior 23. Qxd4 Bxe5 24. Qxe5 Rfd8 25. Rh3 g6 26. f4 Qc5 28. Ree3, trying to mate via the Rxh7 trick (see Game 6 for this failed motif re-occurring), black has the cold shower move 28…Bg2! guarding h3, getting the queens off, and reaching an equal ending. By the text move, Black was hoping he was showing incredible sangfroid. But it’s tactical short-sightedness as White is tempted into a winning sacrificial adventure.

Position after 19...c4

Position after 22…c4 – time to pull the trigger!

23.Bxh7+! The conditions are right!

23...Kxh7 24.Rh3+ Kg6 The plausible 24…Kg8 is crushed by the nice sequence 25. Qf4 Bxe5 26. Qh4! f6 27. g6 and mate.

25.Rg1 Rg8 26.Qf4 White is lining up for some very nasty mates, some of which involve a queen sacrifice.

26…Bxe5 27.dxe5 Qe7 28.Qg4 c3 29.Rh4! Completing the entombment of black’s king.

Position after 29. Rh4. Resignation is forced.

The problem is that 29…Rh8 30. Rh6+! mates. 1-0

Now he takes on “Joe Solid”, aka “Mr. Trading Queens” or “Mr. Endgame”, Maxim Dlugy, in the 1985 US Championship. Evidently, there was no hangover from the 1/2 out of 17 score in the prior year’s version (in Berkeley – alarm bells, anyone?). Note to future US Championship organizers: 17 games is too long an event. In this perplexing game, Maxim does succeed in getting the queens off but Kamran confounds with unusual piece placements and pawn lunges.

Game 2. Shirazi – Dlugy, US Championship 1985 Caro-Kann 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Bc4 Ngf6 6.Ng5 e6 7.Qe2 Nb6 8.Bd3 h6 9.N5f3 c5 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.Ne5 Nbd7 12.Ngf3 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 O-O 14.Bd2 Qd5 15.f4 b5 16.Be3 Bxe3 17.Qxe3 Bb7 18.Rg1 Rfd8 19.g4 Qd4 20.Qxd4 Rxd4 21.g5 hxg5 22.fxg5 Nh5 23.O-O-O Rd5 24.Rge1 Nf4 25.Bf1 a6 26.c4 Rc8 27.b3 f6 28.gxf6 gxf6 29.Nd7 Rxd1+ 30.Rxd1 f5 31.Rd4 Ng6 32.Kb2 b4 33.c5 Rc7 34.Bc4 Kf7 35.Rd6 Nf4 36.c6 Bc8 37.Rd4 Ng6 38.Nb8+ a5 39.Bb5 e5 40.Rd1 e4 41.h4! White’s perplexing play all over the board nets material shortly.

41…f4 42.h5 Ne5 43.Nd7 Nxc6 44.Bxc6 e3 45.Bd5+ Kg7 46.Rg1+ Kh6 47.Nf6 Bf5 48.Ng8+ Kxh5 49.Bf3+ Kh4 50.Rg2 Bh3 51.Rg1 Rd7 52.Kc1 Bf5 53.Nh6 Be6 54.Rg6 Bd5 55.Nf5+ Kh3 56.Rh6 mate. 1-0

Here is Kamran laying some hurt on many-time US Champ Lev Alburt when Lev incautiously avoids a draw by perpetual.

Game 3. Lev Alburt – Kamran G Shirazi 1983 US Championship Benoni Defense 1.d4 c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Be2 O-O 7.O-O Na6 8.Nd2 Nc7 9.a4 e6 10.Nc4 exd5 11.exd5 b6 12.Bf4 Ba6 13.b3? Correct is 13. Qd3 with an edge. On the other hand, the capture orgy variation with 13. Bxd6 Bxc4 14. Bxc7 Bxe2 15. Bxd8 Bxd1 16. Bxf6 Bxc2 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 is dead equal. The text is a simple tactical oversight and indicative of Lev’s poor form in this game (see his blunder on move 20).

Position after 12. b3? – Black misses a tactical resource.

13…Re8? An amusing reciprocal blunder. Black had the obvious 13…Nfxd5 with a huge edge. The point is that 14. Nxd5 Nxd5 15. Qxd5 (if 15. Bxd6 Nc3! wins) 15…Bxa1 16. Rxa1? Qf6! is a double attack that wins for black. Even the better 16. Nxd6 Bxe2 17. Rxa1 Qf6 18. Be5 Qe6 should win for black. After the text, it’s equal.

14.Bf3 Nh5 15.Bd2 Bxc4 16.bxc4 Qh4 17.Be2 Be5 18.g3 Nxg3 19.hxg3 Bxg3 Naturally it should be a perpetual check draw now when white grabs the bishop.

Position after 19…Bxg3: Time for a rare Alburt miscue.

20.Kg2?? An irrational misjudgment exposed in only 2 moves, but this happens to the best of us. For Lev Alburt, this sort of grotesque blunder was indeed very rare in the 80s – he had great tournament results in the U.S.

20…Qh2+ 21.Kf3 Bxf2! Oops! The flaw is exposed. 22. Rxf2 Qh3+ 23. Kf4 is suicide: 23…Re5 threatening …g5 mate; if then 24. Rg2 Rf5+ 25. Ke4 Re8 mate is an ignominious checkmate in the middle of the board. Another plausible defense, 22. Bf4, is crushed by the aesthetic 22…Re3+!! 23. Bxe3 Qg3+ 24. Ke4 Qxe3 mate. Maybe it was this latter variation that Lev overlooked.

22.Rg1 Re5 23.Bd3 Bxg1 24.Ne4 Of course 24. Qxg1 Qxd2 is hopeless.

24…Rf5+ And mate next move. 0-1

The next game shows Shirazi’s astounding versatility in the opening – a staid Petroff Defense eventually becomes a barn-burning back-rank mate motif!

Game 4. [White “Nick DeFirmian”] [Black “Kamran G Shirazi”] US Championship 1986 Petroff Defense

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.O-O O-O 8.c4 c6 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bg4 11.Rb1 dxc4 12.Bxc4 b5 13.Bd3 Nd7 14.h3 Bh5 15.Be4 Qc7? A bizarre blunder. After the obvious 15…Rc8 16. Qd3 Nf6 17. Bf5 Bg6 black is OK.

16.Bxh7+! Did Kamran overlook this simple tactic? He plays on as if nothing has happened. His games often feature huge swings so my advice to any prospective opponent is, don’t relax after gaining a huge edge with an obvious tactic.

16…Kh8 17.Bd3 17. Bf5 followed by g2-g4 is crushing. 17. Bc2 is very strong too, for example 17. Bc2 Rae8 18. g4 Bg6 19. Bxg6 fxg6 20. Qd3 and black is in very bad shape. If 17. Bc2 f5 18. Re1 black is lost due to the new weakness on f5.

17...f5 18.Be2?! 18 Re1 is stronger.

18…Rae8 19.Re1 Nf6 And now, for reasons unknown, white not only fails to convert the material but he goes on to lose in a rather disorderly manner. I suspect the clock was a factor.

20.Ng5 The solid 20. Be3 Ne4 21. Qc2 maintains white’s edge.

20…Bh2+ 21.Kh1 21. Kf1 is stronger.

21… Rxe2 22.Rxe2 Ne4? A blunder. 22…Bxe2 was compulsory.

23.Nxe4 fxe4 24.Qe1? White might have been low on time already. 24. Ba3! Rxf2 25. g4!! wins cleanly. It is counter-intuitive to move pawns in front of one’s own king but in this case it simply gains massive amounts of material while simplifying. For example, 25…Qg3 26. Rxf2 Qxf2 27. Rb2! and black must resign.

24…Bxe2 25.Qxe2 Bd6 26.Qxe4 White is still winning at this point.

26…Qf7 27.Qxc6 White was probably in time trouble during this choatic phase.

27…Qg6 28.Rxb5?? The quiet 28. Rb2, guarding f2, won easily . If 28…Re8 29. Bd2! Re2 30. Qa8+ Kh7 31. Qf3. The text lets in uninvited guests.

28…Rxf2 29.Qa8+?? From a win to a draw to a loss. A slide often seen in Shirazi’s confounding games. In Game 5, GM Larsen bypasses the draw stage and goes right from win to loss in one move. In this position, the scary looking 29. g4! saves the game. If 29…Qc2 30. Qc8+ Rf8 31. Rh5+ Kg8 32. Qe6+ is a perpetual check.

29…Rf8 30.Rg5 Desperation.

30…Qe4! Suddenly white’s back rank weaknesses come to the forefront. After 31. Qxe4, the black rook on f8 is unpinned and it delivers the deathblow with 31….Rf1 mate.


Game 5. Now here’s a real lu-lu. Kamran defeats super-GM Bent Larsen in a totally crazy game.

GM Bent Larsen – Kamran Shirazi NY Open 1986

1.c4 e5 2.g3 h5! The insouciance! Bent himself was always a big believer in wing-pawn pushes, but so soon?!

3.h4 d5! The insouciance!

4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Ng4 Of course Kamran does not hesitate to move a developed piece again. Objectively black’s play makes little sense, but Bent must have steamed and soon he goes off the rails.

6.Nc3 Bc5 7.e3 O-O 8.Bg2 The simple 8. Qc2! with Be2 soon leaves white way on top. The text is fine too.

8…c6 9.Ng5 Be7 10.d4 Bxg5 11.hxg5 Qxg5 12.dxe5 Qxe5 13.Qd4 The obvious 13. e4! is crushing, for example 13…g6 14. Bf4 Qg7 15. d6 and white will win easily. White is still winning after the text.

13…Qf5 14.e4 Re8 15.Bf4 Nd7 16.O-O-O Qg6 17.Rh4 c5 18.Qd2 Nde5

Position after 18…Nde5. White falls on his own sword.

19.Rdh1??? Poor Bent. The preparatory 19. f3! wins. 19…Nf6 20. Nb5! c4 21. Nc7 Nd3+ 22. Kb1 Bd7 23. Nxa8 and wins. The text is the only move that turns black’s cheap tactic “on.” A win becomes a loss. He was guessing from black’s incredibly poor play in the opening that it was akin to a simul game and ‘anything wins’. Well, the unfortunate text move loses – hard to fathom. Incredible ‘brinksmanship’ on Shirazi’s part.

19…Nxf2! It is hard to believe, but apparently true, that Bent enabled this simple knight fork tactic. He must have been feeling pretty sick around now. A feeling not uncommon in Shirazi’s victims.

20.Bxe5 Nxh1 21.Bc7 Nxg3 22.Kc2 Nxe4 23.Nxe4 Bf5 24.Qe2 Rxe4 25.Bxe4 Re8 26.Qxh5 Bxe4+ 27.Kb3 Qxh5 28.Rxh5 g6 29.Rg5 f6 30.d6 fxg5 31.d7 Bd5+ 32.Kc3 Rf8 33.a3 g4 34.d8=Q Rxd8 35.Bxd8 g3 36.Bh4 g2 37.Bf2 b6 38.Kd3 Kf7 39.Bg1 a5 Soon to be widely separated passed pawns mean the end in bishops of opposite colors endings.

40.Bh2 Ke6 41.Ke3 a4 42.Kf2 b5 43.Ke3 b4 44.Bg1 c4 45.Kd2 c3+ 0-1

We need to tear down the Shirazi invincibility a little bit. Let’s conclude with one of my exciting victories over Kamran. I turn the tables by playing crazy and risky in the opening, sacking a knight. Kamran inappropriately “played for mate” and I was able to land a great and unique queen sac.

Game 6 [White “Kamran G Shirazi”] [Black “Mark Ginsburg”] NY State Championship 1989, Albany Catalan Opening

1. c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. d4 dxc4 6. O-O O-O 7. Qc2 a6 8. Rd1 Nbd7 9. Na3!? I had never seen this move and was on my own. I hatched a bizarre and unsound gambit… in Shirazi-style!

9… b5?! 10. Ne5 Nxe5 11. dxe5? Black’s opening was one big bluff. 11. Bxa8! leaves white well on top.

11…Nd5 12. e4 c6!? For the knight I get a pawn phalanx and excellent long-term compensation.

Position after 12…c6!? – strange compensation.

13. exd5 cxd5 14. b3 Qa5 15. Nb1 Bb7 16. bxc4 bxc4 17. Nd2 Rfc8 18. Nf3 Bc6 19. a4 White keeps the annoying light-squared bishop out but gives up important squares. Black has easy counterplay.

19…Rab8 20. Ng5 g6 21. h4 White is systematically going for black’s king but I have sufficient resources.

21...Be8! A useful defensive wall has been built.

22. h5 c3! A pawn wedge which is highly effective. To see a mirror image wedge (pawn on f3) see the sacrificial game (where I similarly donated a knight) J. Shahade – M. Ginsburg, Las Vegas 2003.

23. hxg6 hxg6 24. Rd4? Qb6 25. Rh4? White is completely oblivious to black’s nice threat. He wants to play the slow-motion mating attack Bf3, Kg2, Qd1, and then deliver mate with Rh8+ Kxh8 Qh1+ and mates. But black gets to move, and what a move he has here!

25…Qb2!! Oh yes! Very pleasant. The positional queen sacrifice wreaks total havoc on white’s game. He can’t accept and he can’t decline. The net result is white loses most of his remaining pieces in short order.

Position after 25…Qb2!! — a queen irruption that can’t be handled.

26. Be4 White would like to see 26…dxe4 27. Qxe4 Qxa1 28. Rh8+! but this standard clearance sacrifice is not on the cards. 26. Ra2 is crushed by the simple 26…Qxc2 27. Rxc2 Rb1 and thanks to the pin on the N/g5, black wins heavy material.

26…Qxa1 27. Kg2 Never losing hope that black might somehow get mated via an h-file clearance.

27...dxe4 28. Qd1 Bxg5 0-1 Watch this space; I will post more 80’s Shirazi’s barn-burners in the next few weeks as I dig them up.

Appendix April 8, 2008

Some more 80’s games for the entertainment value. Warning: the next game is not correct on ChessGames.Com. Black’s 17th move, as pointed out by Eric Schiller, is actually 17…Ba6. had it as 17…Bxe6.

Kamran G Shirazi – Lev Alburt Lone Pine 1981, Alekhine’s Defense Crazy Sideline Gambit

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Bc4 c6?! The most popular move theoretically is 5…e6. Here’s a blast from the past: 5…e6 6. Nc3 Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bxc5 8. Qg4 and now black played 8…Kf8? and lost in E. Lasker – Buchholtz Copenhagen 1927. A late game in E. Lasker’s career (I am assuming it’s Emmanuel and not Edward). It’s funny that 8…O-O! is strong: the incredible point is that 9. d4, planning 10. Bh6, is met by the shocking 9….f5! defending with gain of time. Objectively, 5…e6 is to be preferred over 5…c6.

6.Qe2 An interesting gambit. Another and more natural way to play is 6. Nf3!? Qa5 7. O-O Qxc5 8. Qe2 e6 9. d4 with obvious compensation.

6…b6 6…Qa5 looks better. The game gets crazy after 7. Nf3 Na6! 8. O-O Nxc5 9. d4 Ne6. Worse would be 7…Qxc5? 8. d4 with more than enough compensation. The ugly move 6…e6!? is playable: 7. d4 b6 8. cxb6 axb6 and black won eventually in Shirazi (!!) -Alburt, US Championship Berkeley 1984! This “discussion” continued three years later!t However, the opening does not deserve credit because white kept some edge in the early middlegame only to falter later.

7.Nc3 Here, 7. Nf3 looks better. 7…bxc5 8. O-O with excellent compensation.

7…Nxc3? A serious mistake. 7…e6! is correct with a decent game after 8. Nf3 Bxc5 (white has some compensation). It could transpose to Scotto (2255)-Shabalov (2575), St. Maarten 1993, that black eventually won.

8.dxc3 bxc5 9.Nf3 This position is just downright bad for black.

Position after 9. Nf3. Black has a horrible game.

9…e6 10.Ng5 f5?! More weaknesses. 10…Be7 11. Ne4 Qb6 was a better try. It was not Lev’s day.

11.Bf4 Be7 12.h4 White had the strong 12. O-O-O! Bxg5 13. Qh5+ and he’s well on top.

12…Qa5 13.g4 h6 13…O-O is also crushed by 14. gxf5 Rxf5 15. Qg4 Rf8 (15…Bxg5? 16. Qxf5!) 16. Rg1 and wins. And black cannot move in the variation 14…Bxg5 15. fxe6! dxe6 16. Bxg5 Ba6 17. Bxe6+ Kh8 18. Qe4!

14.Nxe6! It’s all over. White has an overwhelming attack.

Position after 14. Nxe6! – Crunch.

14…dxe6 15.gxf5 h5 Nothing helps. 15…O-O 16. f6! wins easily: 16…Bxf6 17. exf6 Rxf6 18. Qe4 Ba6 19. Bxe6+ Kh8 20. O-O-O.

16.Rg1?! The fastest win here was 16. O-O-O! – after 16…exf5 17. Rhg1 Kf8 18. e6! white breaks through with Qe5 coming up. The text permits black a little wiggle room.

16…Kf8? Which he misses. 16…Qa4! 17. Rxg7 Ba6! forces white to find a nice win via 18. f6! Bxc4 19. Rxe7+ Kd8 20. Qd1+! Qxd1 21. Rxd1+ Kc8 22. f7 Na6 23. Bh6 and wins. If white were to play, e.g., 18. Bxa6? Nxa6, the bishop on f4 would be hanging and black is right back in it.

17.fxe6 17. O-O-O is crushing but now it doesn’t matter.

17…Ba6 Not 17…Bxe6 as reported. Black’s king is so alone that he could have resigned already.

18.Bg5 The simple 18. Bxa6 Qxa6 19. Qe4 won. The text wins too – black’s king is too lonely.

18…Bxg5 19.Rxg5 Qc7 20.O-O-O Sadistic would be 20. Rxh5! Rg8 21. Qf3+ Ke8 22. Qf7+ and white goes up more than a queen.

20…Bxc4 21.Qxc4 Ke8 22.Qd3 The end of the line. The defense 22…Rh6 is impossible due to the deflection 23. Rxg7! Qxg7 24. Qd8 mate.


A one-sided affair — quite an unusual type of defeat for the strong Soviet defector.

Leonid Shamkovich – Kamran Shirazi Lone Pine 1981, King’s Indian Defense, Bayonet Attack. I am particularly interested in this game because I like white’s opening system in general. It’s surprising to see how Shirazi plays very concretely and originally (sacrifice on move 22) to establish the dangerous central pawn duo.

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nd7 10.Bd2 An argument can be made for the exciting gambit line 10. c5!? dxc5 11. bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ba3 b6 13. Bxc5 bxc5 14. Rb1 with compensation. In addition, Ukrainian GM Pavel Elianov tried 13. Nd2!? but got little vs. Beliavsky, Warsaw 2005 – that game went 13. Nd2 f5!? (there is also 13…c6!? with equal chances) 14. Bxc5 bxc5 15. Qb3 Kh8 16. Qc4 and black was fine – Beliavsky only lost due to a gross blunder later on.

10…f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.f3 The move 12. Bf3!? is interesting.

12…Nh5 13.g3 Bf6 Nothing was wrong with 13…f4!? here.

14.exf5 gxf5? 14…Nxf5 was correct with equal chances.

15.f4!? 15. Bd3!? gives white the edge.

15…Ng7 16.Rc1 Strong is 16. fxe5 dxe5 17. b5 with advantage.

16…Ng6 17.Kh1 White also had the careful 17. Nh3!? with a small edge.

17…a5 18.a3 axb4 19.axb4 Bxg5?! Too risky. Correct is 19…Bd7 with a very solid game. In retrospect it works out, though!

20.fxg5 f4 21.Ne4 Bf5 A suspicious tactical adventure starts.

22.Nf6+ Rxf6 23.gxf6 Qxf6 24.Qb3? The entire plan would backfire on black if white had found the accurate 24. Ra1! Be4+ 25. Kg1! Rf8 26. Ra3! with a big edge.

24…Be4+ 25.Bf3 Qf5 26.g4 Bxf3+ 27.Qxf3 Qd7 28.Be1? A lemon. Maybe white was in time-trouble. Correct is 28. Ra1 Re8 29. Rfe1 stopping e4. If 29…Nh4 30. Qh3 keeps control.

28…Re8 29.Bc3 The back and forth bishop moves waste too much time and black gains total control now.

29…e4 30.Qh3 e3 31.Qh6 Relatively better was 31. Rf3 but it’s still good for black after 31…Re4.

31…Re4 32.Ra1 Ne8 33.Ra8? A blind alley. White could play for tricks with the clever waiting 33. Rfc1! trying to tempt black into 33…Qxg4? (33…f3! is correct and the not very obvious 33…Qf7!? is also strong) and only now 34. Ra8 Qd7 35. Re1! – white is not dead yet. For example, 35…e2?? 36. Qh5! and white is right back in it.

33…e2 34.Rfa1 f3 35.Be1 Qxg4 Mate is now forced. 0-1

GM Petar Popovic – Kamran G Shirazi 1986. Sicilian Alapin. In this game, Shirazi typically goes nuts in the opening, giving his opponent a chance to acquire a gigantic advantage. After Popovic declines the generous gift, Shirazi makes something out of nothing when suddenly he entombs white’s errant rook in an ending.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Ba6!? A bizarre placement.

6.d3 Nc6 7.O-O e6 8.Re1 Be7 9.c4 Nc7 10.b3 O-O 11.d4 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Nxd4 13.Qxd4 d5? Objectively horrible but introducing maximum confusion.

14.exd6 Bf6 15.Qf4? Missing the crushing 15. Re5! Bxe5 16. Qxe5 Rc8 17. Ba3 and white will win easily. Also gruesome is 15…Ne8 16. Ba3 Bxe5 17. Qxe5 Rc8 18. Nc3 Qd7 19. Nb5! with complete board control.

15…Nd5 16.cxd5 Bxa1 17.dxe6 fxe6 18.Qe4? 18. Qd2! Rb8 19. Rxe6 is good for white.

18…Qf6? Best is 18…Qxd6 with a balanced game.

19.Qxe6+ Qxe6 20.Rxe6 Rac8 21.Be3? After 21. Bg5! white has the edge.

21…Bd4! Of course! This back-rank trick gives black a small edge.

22.Bd5 Kh8 23.d7 Bxe3 24.dxc8=Q Bxf2+ 25.Kg2 Bxc8 26.Re2 Bc5 27.Nd2 g5! This is a case where Shirazi’s pawn lunge is positionally well motivated. 28.Nf3 Ba6! Black is doing all the right things to keep the bishop-pair edge.

29.Re4 Bd3 30.Rg4 Be3 31.h3 h5 32.Ra4 b5 33.Ra6 g4 34.hxg4 hxg4 35.Ne5 Bf1+ 36.Kh1 Rf5 37.Nxg4 A very good defensive try here is 37. Ng6+! Kg7 38. Nf4 Bb6 39. Bg2 with chances to live.

37…Bb6! 38.Bg2 Be2 39.Nh2 Rf2 40.b4 Bc4 41.a3?? Necessary was 41. a4! with good chances to draw.

41…Ra2?? Winning was 41…Be6 threatening 42…Bc8. If 42. Bb7, 42…Rf7 wins. 42.Bc6? 42. Bb7! gives white good saving chances.

42…Ra1+? Completely crushing was the tactic 42…Be6! and if 43. Bb7 (to stop Bc8) black switches back to 43…Bh3! winning decisive material. A nice variation.

43.Kg2 Ra2+? Once again, black had 43…Be6! and if 44. Bb7 Ra2+ transposing to the prior note.

44.Kh1 Bb3? Yes, 44…Be6! wins cleanly. 45. Bb7 Bh3! and white must resign. 45. Rxb6 is clearly hopeless too because after 45…axb6 white cannot grab on b5: 46. Bxb5?? Bd5+! and white will go down a whole rook.

45.Nf3 Rc2 46.Ne5?? Matters are not decided after 46. Be4 Rc1+ 47. Kg2 Kg7 but black is clearly much better operating with all the tactics pointed out in prior notes (which he had missed so far!).

46…Rxc6 Oops! 0-1

And here is a game I found on Chess365.Com that I do not recall playing! The game has me playing a Caro Kann which I certainly do not know. Mistaken identity or demonic possession? The only game I remember from this tournaments is beating J. Polgar as black. I must have flushed this one down the memory drain. Here it is again as a kind of self-flagellation.

K. Shirazi – M. Ginsburg (?) NY Open 1988 Caro Kann 4…Nd7

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 One would think the alternate reality me would at least play 4…Bf5. The text seems passive.

5. Ng5 Ngf6 To the present day, I know zero about this line.

6. Bd3 Nb6!? Not a bad sideline.

7.N1f3 h6 Even if I knew it pretty well, this tactical line would not be a good choice unless I had extra coffee that day. The provocative text has the advantage of luring white into an unsound adventure – his next move!

8. Nxf7?! A rather standard sacrifice to make black’s king dance around. However in this exact position black can more than adequately defend, so the text is premature.

8…Kxf7 9. Ne5+ Kg8 10. Bg6 Be6 Black is actually better now, but it takes good tactical sense to prove it.

11. O-O Nc4 11…Nbd7 is strong. The surprising point is 12. f4 Qb6! 13. Kh1 c5! and black is much better.

12. f4 Qc8? An ugly move and a clear lemon. Correct is the central strike 12….c5! and after, e.g., 13. c3 cxd4 14. cxd4 Rc8 black is better. Or, 13. b3 Nxe5 14. fxe5 Nd7 15. c3 cxd4 16. cxd4 Qb6! and black is again better. If I am too lazy to play 12…c5!, the preparatory 12…Qb6! is again fine with c5 next.

13. c3? 13. Qd3! is much stronger with full compensation. The slow text is much worse.

13…Nd6! Black should be very happy now, having conquered successfully all the key light squares. He should win now with accurate play. But look what happens!

Black fumbles the ball

Position after 13…Nd6! Everything is sweetness and light for black at the present time.

14. Re1 Ng4?? Awful. The simple 14…Bf5! leaves white with insufficient compensation. 15. Qb3+ is met by the simple 15…Qe6!. Or, 15. Bxf5 Qxf5 16. g4 Qe6! and again white doesn’t have enough for the piece minus.

15. f5 Nxe5 16. dxe5 Bxf5 17. exd6 Bxg6 18. dxe7 Kh7 19. Bf4 This is the last chance for black.

19...Bxe7? Horrific, bringing the rook to the 7th rank is a death sentence. 19…Qf5! is the only way to resist. After 20. Qd4 Re8 black can play on. After 21. Bd6 Bxe7 22. Bxe7 it’s not a lot of fun, but at least it’s not immediately losing.

20. Rxe7 Re8 21. Rc7 Qf5 22. Qd4 As is well known, bishops of opposite colors help an attacker. It’s all over.

22…Bf7 23. Bxh6 Qg6 24. Rf1 Rf8 25. Bxg7 c5

Desperation. I could have resigned. The alternate reality me was probably steaming.

26. Qf6 Qxf6 27. Bxf6 Kg6 28. Rxc5 Bxa2 29.Rg5+ Kh6 30. Rg3 Rf7 31. Rf4 1-0 Very poor defense by black after encountering the unsound sacrifice on move 8.