Archive for the ‘1. c4 c5 Grünfeld’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: The 2004 Arizona State Championship

December 20, 2007

The 2004 round robin invitational event, called the Colonel Webb Memorial, was held in Mesa, Arizona at Steve Kamp’s home. Steve is Danny Rensch’s grand-dad. I tied for first with Angelina Belapovskaya, and strangely enough, every game I played was interesting. Let’s see them.

Round 1.

WGM A. Belapovskaya – IM M. Ginsburg  Az. State Champ., May 2004.

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. g3 d6 4. d4 Nd7 5. Bg2 e5 6. Nf3 Ngf6 7. O-O O-O 8. b3 This move is a little slow.

8…exd4 9. Nxd4 c6 I’ve liked this standard formation in the g2-g3 King’s Indian since my early days – see the Danny King game from Eeklo, Belgium 1983.

10. Bb2 Re8 11. Qc2 Qe7 12. Rad1 h5! A useful space gaining idea. Black is OK.


Position after 12…h5! – Chances are Balanced

13. Bc1 h4 14. Bg5 hxg3 15. hxg3 Qf8 Directly 15…Nc5 is fine too. The chances are about even.

16. b4 a6?! This is a Lasker-like provocation. Black sees that a white knight getting to b6 doesn’t do much, but this isn’t entirely true. The immediate 16…Ne5 was fine.

Strangely, I applied this idea of …a6 and …h5 together to a game I played soon afterward in the National Open 2004, gaining a solid draw as black vs. GM Dmitry Gurevich. He, too, went for the slow treatment with 12. b3 and I just had to remember some motifs.

D. Gurevich – M. Ginsburg, National Open June 2004. 1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. g3 Nd7 5. Bg2 Ngf6 6. O-O O-O 7. Qc2 e5 8. Rd1 Re8 9. h3 exd4 10. Nxd4 c6 11. Nc3 Qe7 12. b3 a6 (12… Nc5 13. b4 Nce4 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Bb2 is another way to play)13. Bb2 h5!? The same idea as the Belopovskaya game.  14. Nf3 (14. Qd2 h4 15. gxh4 Nc5 is OK) 14… Nc5 15. b4 (15. e3 Bf5 16. Qe2 a5 17. Rac1 Qd7 18. Kh2 Qe7 19. Nd4 Bd7 and it’s about equal)  15… Bf5 16. Qc1 Nce4 17. Nxe4 Bxe4 18. a4 d5  Agreed drawn.  1/2-1/2.  Play might continue 19. c5 h4! 20. gxh4 a5! with an equal game.

It’s funny how sometimes opening variations occur in clumps when tournaments occur back to back. It helps  the practical results because memory is fresh.

17. Na4 Ne5 18. Nb6 Rb8 19. Qd2 The only way to test black is 19. c5!? d5 and here white has a tiny edge.

19…Nfd7 20. Nxd7 Bxd7 21. Rc1 21. Qc1 Be6 22. Nxe6 Rxe6 is possible. Even so, 23. Bh3 f5 leads nowhere.

21… Be6 Here, the rather ugly 21…f6 is completely OK. For example, 22. Bf4 g5! 23. Bxe5 dxe5 24. Nb3 Bf5 and it’s equal.

22. Nxe6 Rxe6 23. Rfd1 Rbe8 24. b5 axb5 25. cxb5 d5 At the time, I thought I should simply be better here. But matters aren’t so simple.

26. bxc6 The immediate 26. e4 is fine too.

26…bxc6 27. e4


Position after 27. e4 – Nothing Concrete is Apparent 

27…Nc4 27….d4!? 28. f4 f6!? gets crazy but it’s still equal after 29. fxe5 or 29. f5. The text looks really nice for black but it all evaporates in short order.

28. Qc2 Na3 29. Qa4 Ra8 30. Qb3 dxe4 31. Qb7 Black’s terrible pawns mean he has no real winning chances.

31…Rb8 32. Qa6 Ra8 33. Qb7 Qe8 34. Bh3 Rb8 35. Qa6 Ra8 36. Qb7 Rb8 37. Qa6 Ra8 As the computer shows, this was an unusually accurate game by both players. It never deviated much from dead even. My lifetime score vs Angelina moves to two hard-fought draws. The next time I saw her, she was selling homes in my (Tucson AZ) area!


Round 2.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM P. Garrett (2266)


1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. Nf3 g6 5. Qb3! Nb6 6. d4 Bg7 7. Bf4 Be6 8. Qc2 O-O 9. Rd1 c6 10. e3


Position after 10. e3 – White is solid

This is a really safe way of playing against the Gruenfeld that 1. c4 players can enjoy – it’s very hard to get this from 1. d4. I experimented with this line vs GM V. Mihalevski and got a great game in Las Vegas in this very same decade – I will post that later. It was sort of a tragedy because I lost control in time-trouble. But I still like this anti-Gruenfeld treatment!

10…a5 11. Be2 Na6 12. O-O h6 13. Be5! A thematic bit of annoyance confronts black.

13…f6?! And it produces this weakening reaction! The g6-pawn is now very sickly.

14. Bg3 Kh7 15. h4 Bf5 16. e4 Bg4 17. a3 Nc7 18. Ng5+! fxg5 19. Bxg4 Black will really miss his light-squared bishop.

19…gxh4 20. Bxh4 Rf4? A false trail. The rook’s position here helps white and in a few moves black is totally pushed back with nothing left to undertake.

21. f3 h5 22. Ne2 Rf8 23. Bh3 Nb5 24. Bf2 Nd6 25. Be6! This bishop completely paralyzes black.
25…Bh6 26. f4!

“Hanging f4” but crashing through to the black king. Everything happens now with gain of time.


Position after 26. f4! – White has a decisive attack

26…Bxf4 Hopeless, but black was lost anyway.

27. e5 Nb5 28. Nxf4 Rxf4 29. Be3! All very simple. Black’s formation collapses, white gets to the 7th with his rook, and the black king is mated.
29… Nc7 30. Bf7 Rg4 31. Bxg6+ Kh8 32. Rf7 1-0

After this win, I was in good shape heading into round 3. But pride goes before the fall, and I lost convincingly to FM Danny Rensch.

Round 3.

FM D. Rensch – IM M. Ginsburg Sicilian English Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nge7!? An interesting idea to get out of the main English Attack variations.

8. Nb3 Ng6 9. O-O-O Be7 10. f4 b5 11. g3 Bb7 12. Bg2 Na5! I’ve known how important it is to get this knight off since my drawn game with GM Becerra, Las Vegas 2001.

13. Nxa5 Qxa5 14. Kb1 Rc8 15. h4 h5 Yes, this all looks weird, but black has his chances.


Position after 15…h5 – A strange tableau

16. Rhf1 Rc4  Black has excellent activity.

17. Bd4 In a higher sense, this move simply loses material for insufficient compensation. Practically, it is a reasonable gambit.

17…b4 18. Ne2 e5 19. Bg1 Bxe4! It’s correct to accept the offered center pawn. However, as is often the case, “winning” a pawn leaves holes that the opponent can exploit. Here, the light squares become tender.

20. Bxe4 Rxe4 21. Qd3 f5 22. Qf3 The key moment.  Black should be doing well with the monster rook on e4 but care is required.


Position after 22. Qf3 – A Key Moment

22…Qb5?? Black was doing really well up to now, but makes a bad miscue in the sharp situation. Necessary was the fairly evident 22… Qc7! 23. fxe5 Nxe5 24. Qxf5? (24. Qg2 g6! is solid, supporting the important f5-pawn, e.g. 25. Nf4 Qb7 26. Nd5 O-O with a fine game) 24… Rxe2 and black will triumph with all the key squares guarded. It is often the case when white sharpens the situation in the Sicilian, he is rewarded with black’s failure to orient to strange surroundings, and that’s what happened here.

23. fxe5  This is, of course, strong.

23…Qxe2?? A further and even worse miscue. Black cannot grab this horse.

 24. Qxf5 Black could have resigned already! Such is life in sharp Sicilians. I can’t explain what I missed, but it must have been something simple.  “Total disorientation” must have been the order of the day.

24…Nxe5 25. Qc8+ Bd8 26. Bb6 Ke7 27. Qb8 d5 28. Bc5+ Ke8 29. Qd6 Qg4 30. Qxd5 1-0

And so I am relegated to an even score after 3 rounds and my prospects of winning this event do not look good. I have to win my final two, with the last one being against Arizona veteran Robert Rowley!


But first I had to overcome Spencer Lower and his “solid Slav” in Round 4.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM S. Lower, Round 4   Slav, 4. Qc2!?

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 g6(!) 5. Bf4 Bg7 6. Nbd2 This bizarre and sluggish treatment is unlikely to attract followers. Correct is 6. e3! as analyzed in detail in one of my chess theory posts.  White has a small edge there, so black is probably advised to try the crazy sideline 5…Na6!? to aim at b4, as analyzed in length in the article discussing Ginsburg-Filipovich, Midwest Masters 1994, 1/2.

6…O-O 7. e3 Bf5 8. Qb3 Qb6 9. c5 Qxb3 10. axb3 Nbd7 11. h3 Ne4 12. b4 f6 13.Nb3 e5 14. Bh2 I prefer white now simply because some constructive ideas suggest themselves.

14…a6 15. Be2 Rfe8 16. O-O Rac8 17. Rfd1 Re7 18. Na5 Rc7 Moving into the latent pin from h2 to c7 looks like something white can exploit.

19. Ne1? Very weak. White gets an edge with the obvious 19. g4 Be6 20. Kg2 Rf7 and only now 21. Ne1.

19… Ng5 20. h4 Nf7 21. Nb3 Rc8 22. Nd3 Black is fine.

22…Bxd3? Weak, surrendering the bishop pair for no reason.

23. Bxd3 e4 24. Bxa6!? Impossible for a human to resist, gaining a pawn phalanx, but frowned upon by the machine! At the time, I thought it was the decisive breakthrough.

24…bxa6 25. Rxa6 f5 26. Rda1 Bf6 27. Na5 Nd8 28. Bd6 Rf7 29. g3 Be7 30. Bf4 Kg7 31. Ra3 h6 32. b5 It sure looks very good for white, doesn’t it? But computers can offer some harsh truth.


32…Bxc5? A panicky counter-sacrifice that tosses the game away. The computer points out the difficult defense 32…cxb5 33. Rb3 g5 34. hxg5 hxg5 35. Bd6 Bxd6 36. Rxd6 Nf6 37.Rxb5 Ne8 (Still looks good for white!) 38. Rdb6 Nc7! 39. Rb8 Rxb8 40. Rxb8 Nde6!! establishing the all important blockade, and getting counterplay with the imminent …f5-f4. A triumph of a logical defensive scheme. The game might continue 41. b4 f4 42. gxf4 gxf4 43. Nc6! (the only move to draw!!) 43…fxe3 44. fxe3 Rf3 45. b5 Rxe3 46. b6 Na6 47. Ra8 Naxc5 48. dxc5 Nxc5 49. Ra5 Rb3! 50. Rxc5 Rxb6 and draws. An amazing variation. After the text, black loses horribly to the all controlling, all-seeing, and uncontestable white bishop that parks itself on d4 and the unstoppable passed pawns.

33. dxc5 Nxc5 34. Nxc6! Maybe black overlooked this simple in-between move. It’s all over.

34…Nxa6 35. Be5+ Kg8 36. Nxd8 Rxd8 37. bxa6 Ra8 38. Bd4 Rc7 39. a7



So it came time for the last round. I believe that Angelina in Round 4 narrowly escaped versus my opponent, veteran many-time Arizona champ Robert Rowley.

Round 5. IM M. Ginsburg – NM Robert Rowley. Irregular Opening, 1. g3. “Rat Reversed”.


1. g3 c5 2. Bg2 Nc6 3. d3 g6 4. h4!? Nf6 5. Nc3!? Bg7 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bd2 d5 8. Nh3 b6 9. h5!? All very avant-garde. Duncan Suttles and Raymond Keene, practitioners of the “Rat” as black (this looks like a Rat reversed) would have approved. In the game, white gains a center pawn for a wing pawn (a small accomplishment) but black isn’t much worse, if at all.

9…Nxh5 10. Nxd5 Bb7 11. Qc1 Qd7 12. e4 O-O-O 13. a4 e6 14. Ne3 a5 15. Nc4 Qc7 16. Nf4 Nf6 17. Ne2 Ng4 18. Bf4 Nge5 Black is defending solidly and it’s hard work to get anywhere.

19. Nc3 Nd4 20. Bxe5 Bxe5 21. f4 Bg7 22. Nb5!? Nxb5 23. axb5 White’s idea is to gain the c4 square for a ‘forever’ knight. In the game, this plan works, but only with black’s cooperation.

23…f5 24. Qe3 g5 If 24… Kb8 25. O-O-O Qd7 26. Nxb6 Bxb2+ 27. Kxb2 Qxb5+ 28. Ka2 Qxb6 29. exf5! white is on top.

25. c3 gxf4 26. gxf4 e5 This is OK, but black also had 26… fxe4 27. Bxe4 Bd5 or 26… Kb8 27. O-O-O e5 or 27…a4, in all cases with decent chances.

27. O-O-O fxe4? Black had to play 27…exf4! 28. Qh3 Kb8! 29. Qxf5 Rhf8 with a playable game.

28. Bxe4 exf4 29. Qf3!


Black must have missed this resource. White gets an enormous bind on the white squares that translates into a direct attack on the black king. Black now faces a very unpleasant defensive situation, and on top of everything else, he is low on time.

29…Bxe4 30. Qxe4 Kb8 31. Rhg1 Bf6 32. Rg6 Rdf8 33. Qe6 Bd8 34. Ne5 Ka7 35. Nc6+ Kb7 36. Qd5 Kc8 37. Nxa5 More direct was 37. Nxd8! Rxd8 38. Qa8+ Qb8 39. Qa6+ Kd7 40. Rxb6 and wins, but the text is good enough.

37… bxa5 38. Rc6 f3 39. Rf1 h5 40. b6 Qxc6 41. Qxc6+ Kb8 42. Qxc5 Kb7 43. Qxa5 Bxb6 44. Qd5+ Kc7 45. Rxf3 Rxf3 46. Qxf3 Rd8 47. d4 1-0



So the smoke cleared and WGM Belapovskaya and I won the event jointly with 3.5 out of 5.





3 Decades of a Variation

October 1, 2007

I have always been interested in sidelines, particularly in Gruenfeld structures. Here are two games spanning 27 years on the same theme.

Let’s start with the happier, and more recent, game.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM Ralph Zimmer

North American Open, Las Vegas, NV 12/28/05

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 (?!) Purists believe this move order is slightly inaccurate. However, it might not be true – see the Ibragimov game mentioned in the note to the 8th move and if you believe in black’s position, try it out. The text gets ?! in some books, but it may not be necessarily so.

4. e3! Nf6 The text is correct, preparing a Gruenfeld-like d7-d5 advance. A further inaccuracy, which is important to mention because it occurs frequently, is 4….Bg7?!. White then plays the simple 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d6 7. d5! and stands seriously better. For example, 7…Ne5 8. Nxe5 Bxe5 9. Bd3 Bd7 10. O-O Nf6 11. h3 O-O 12. Be3 a6 13. Rc1 Bd7 14. Na4! b5 15. Nb6 Rb8 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. cxb5 axb5 18. b4! with a nice bind, M. Ginsburg-Gilruth, Harry Nelson Pillsbury Open New England, 1987. White duly won in 46 moves.

5. d4 cxd4 5…d6 6. d5! with a small white edge is playable.


In 1989 I faced Senior Master S.C. Sahu (2417) at the Manhattan Chess Club and had a pleasant experience: 6. d5 Ne5 (6…Ng8 just admits opening failure) 7. Nxe5 Bxe5 8. e4 Nf6 9. Bd3 Ng4? The Rybka-approved line, 9…Bd7 10. O-O Qb6!? 11. h3 O-O, looks highly unnatural but the text is simply bad. 10. h3 Nf6 11. Bh6 Rg8 12. Qd2 Qa5 13. f4 Bd4 14. Nb5! Bf2+ 15. Ke2 Qxd2+ 16. Kxd2 Kd8 17. e5 Ne8 18. Rhf1 a6 19. Nxd6! White wins easily. 19…Nxd6 20. Rxf2 Nf5 21. Bg5 h6 22. Bxf5 gxf5 23. Bxh6 f6 24. d6 Be6 25. dxe7+ Kxe7 26. exf6+ Kf7 27. Bg5 Rad8+ 28. Kc3 Rd4 29. b3 Rgd8 30. Re1 b5 31. Rfe2 R8d6 32. g4 bxc4 33. gxf5 Rd3+ 34. Kb2 c3+ 35. Ka3 Bxf5 36. Re7+ Kg6 37. Rg7+ Kh5 38. f7 Rd8 39. Bxd8 Rxd8 40. Rg8 1-0


6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bc4 Nxc3? It is this move that is seriously wrong. Here, 8…Nb6 is the only correct move in my opinion. Play might proceed 9. Bb3 Bg7 10. Be3!? (10. d5 Na5 is nothing) 10…O-O 11. O-O Na5 12. Bc2 Nac4 13. Bg5!? with murky play, Ibragimov-Kedrov, Moscow 1996. Black lost this game, but he’s OK here and only lost via blunders in the middlegame.

9. Qb3!


The first important moment. The zwischenzug text is accurate, because 9…Ne4? 10. Bxf7+ Kd7 11. Qe6+ and 12. Qxe4 is clearly out of the question. I had this game in a 1993 USATE playoff and won easily. The position is very good for white.

9…e6 10. bxc3 Na5 10…Bd7 11. Bb5! (or 11. Bd3 right away, for example 11…Qb6 12. O-O Qxb3 13. axb3 Bg7 14. Ba3 and white is much better, and won, in Charbonneau-Tan, Oropesa del Mar 2001) 11…a6 12. Be2 Na5 13. Qc2 b5 14. O-O is very good for white. In the next game, we will see the semi-insane “gambit” 10….Bd7 11. d5??! (THEORETICAL LEMON, TL) Na5 12. dxe6 relying on the fact that the queen is immune for the time being. However, as we shall see, 12…fxe6 is basically the refutation of this “junior” attack. See the second game for more on this crazy line.

Black can also try 10…Bg7. But after 11. Ba3, stopping castling, white is better. For example, 11…Bf8 (what else?) 12. Bxf8! Kxf8 13. O-O and white is much better. Note for historical purposes the American future GM Ken Rogoff played the fine 12. Bb5!? here and stood better, but lost due to a later blunder vs. the Frenchman Huguet in Malaga 1970. 12. Bb5 was also seen in a drawn Botvinnik-Petrosian game, Moscow 1983. Another good move is 12. O-O! and white also stands better here.

11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. Qa4 Nc6 13. d5! 13. O-O is good for white, and the well motivated attacking text aims for even more. Clearance sacrifices, exposing the enemy king, are always extremely difficult to meet in practical play.


13…exd5 14. O-O Be7 15. Bh6 f6? A much better try is 15… Qa5 16. Qb3 O-O-O 17. c4 d4 18. Ng5 Bf8 19. Bxf8 Rhxf8 20. c5 Qc7 and black stays afloat. The text weakens e6 severely and could have had fatal consequences in the near-term.

16. Rfe1 Kf7


17. Qf4? The text looks and is absurd. The best move is extremely simple-minded 17. Rad1!. This position is a good test of attacking abilities. Those with a quick eye will recognize that 17…Be6 is smashed (note in passing that 17…a6 18. Bc4!! dxc4 19. Qxc4+ Ke8 20. Bg7 Rf8 21. Qh4 Rf7 22. Qxh7 Rxg7 23. Qxg7 wins, for example 23…Ne5 24. Qg8+ Bf8 25. Qxg6+ Ke7 26. Nxe5 Be6 27. Qf7+ Bxf7 28. Ng6 mate which is especially gruesome) by 18. Rxe6!! which is completely crushing. Once the white squares fall, the black king is cornered. 18…Kxe6 19. Bc4 and white wins shortly.

17… Bf5 18. Rad1 Bd6 19. Qd2 Ne7 19… Be7 20. Qb2 threatening c4 is very good for white.

20. Nd4 Bg4 21. Rb1 Curiously, 21. Qe3! is strong here.

21…a6 22. Be2 Bc8 23. Bd1 Re8 24. Bb3 Bc5 25. h3?! Here, 25. c4! Bxd4 is met by the surprising zwischenzug 26. cxd5! (26. Qxd4 is also good, but this is stronger) and white is much better.

25… Bxd4 26. Qxd4 Be6?? A bad blunder. Necessary is 26…b5! 27. Rbd1 with a white edge but nothing decisive yet. Now we have yet another tactical exercise with the same solution!


27. g4?? A blunder in return. 27. Rxe6!!, a thematic blow we’ve already seen above, wins nicely. For example, 27…Kxe6 28. Qe4+ Kf7 29. Rd1! is a very pleasing double pin and black is paralyzed and loses shortly. For example, 29…f5 (equally bad is 29… g5 30. Rxd5 Nxd5 31. Bxd5+ Qxd5 32. Qxd5+ Kg6 33. Bxg5 fxg5 34. Qxb7 and wins) 30. Rxd5! fxe4 31. Rf5 double checkmate is a nice geometric spectacle.

27…Nc6 28. Qf4 Qb8 Now black is right back in the game. Also acceptable is 28… Kg8 29. Re3 g5 30. Qg3 Bf7 31. Rxe8+ Qxe8 32. f4 d4.

29. Qd2 Qd6 The position is about level.

30. Bf4 Qd7? 30…Ne5! is rock solid for equality.

31. Re3 Now, 31. Rxe6! Kxe6 is still a good try: 32. Bg3 Ne5 33. Bxe5 fxe5 34. Bxd5+ Qxd5 35. Rb6+ Qc6 36. Rxc6+ bxc6 37. f4 exf4 38. Qxf4 Re7 39. g5! with some winning chances for white. It stands to reason that white is still blind to this possibility.

31… Kg7 32. Bh6+ 32. Rbe1 Bf7 33. Bh6+ is a small edge to white.

32… Kh8 33. Qe2 Ne5 This is fine. Also fine is 33… Bf7.

34. Re1 Bf7 35. g5 Nc4?! Solid is 35… Kg8 36. gxf6 Nc4 37. Bxc4 Rxe3 38. Qxe3 dxc4 and black is fine.

36. Bxc4? Very weak. 36. Re7! poses some problems for black.

36…Rxe3 37. Qxe3 dxc4?! Another inaccuracy. But black had no time and cannot be criticized. In fact, at this moment, black forfeited on time still a few moves shy of the time control at move 40. A good defense was 37… Re8 38. Qd2 Rxe1+ 39. Qxe1 dxc4 40. gxf6 Qe6 and it’s completely drawn.


After the weak text, white could find 38. Qb6 Qc6 39. Qxc6 bxc6 40. Re7 Kg8 41. gxf6 a5 42. a4 with a rather unpleasant ending for black.


Now let’s go back to my 1978 game in the ECI Youth tournament, Sas Van Gent, Holland. This is the tournament where I met the personable British youth player Suzzane Wood! Note her first name is not misspelled.

M. Ginsburg – NM Erik Pedersen (DEN)

ECI Sas Van Gent, Holland August 1978

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bc4 Nxc3 9. Qb3! So far, as above.

9…e6 10. bxc3 Bd7!? Pedersen’s specialty, he played it another European tournament – Groningen 1978 (perhaps later, I’m not sure about that). However, the position is good for white!

11. d5??! THEORETICAL LEMON, TL. 11. Bb5, 11. Be2, and 11. Bd3 are all very good for white. 11. Be2 Na5 12. Qc2 Qc7 13. Ne5! (13. O-O is also good for white) Rc8 14. Bd2? (14. Rb1! or even the simple 14. Nxd7 Qxd7 15. O-O and white is better) 14…Bg7 15. f4? (15. Qe4!) and white even lost with this bad structural weakening, Grinberg-Pederson, Groningen 1978. See the first game for other examples of white doing well here.

12…Na5 12. dxe6 My “amazing point.”


12…fxe6! Oh. He had that? I had “expected” 12…Nxb3?? 13. exf7+ Ke7 14. Bg5+ Kd6 15. Rd1+ Nd4 16. Bxd8 Rxd8 17. Nxd4 and I win easily. A very naive “junior” assessment. The text is the start of a very cold shower.

13. Qd1 What else? This is my “secondary point” – that 13….Nxc4 14. Qd4 “wins the piece back”.

Time for another tactical quiz. What’s black’s best move?


13…Bg7? Wrong. The text is winning (and black did win the rather long, drawn-out ending after 14. Be2 Bxc3+), however black had better: (quiz solution:) 13…Nxc4 14. Qd4 Ba4!! A very unusual and crushing shot! Black can safely leave a couple of pieces hanging. 15. Qxh8 Qd1 mate is unplayable and so is 15. Qxc4 Qd1 mate, so black remains a piece up!

At any rate, black had no problem converting the pawn up ending in about 50 moves (he correctly didn’t accept the exchange sac on a1 and just played an ending with one pawn more).





The Fabulous 00s: The 2005 US Open

June 20, 2007

I needed to win to qualify for the 2006 US Championship. For a while, everything was going well!

IM M. Ginsburg – IM A. Simutowe US Open 2005, Phoenix, AZ

English 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 (Grünfeld-like)

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e3!? 5. g3 is much more common but the text has its points.

5…Nc6 6. Bb5!? This move is actually quite dangerous.




A very weak move. 6…Nxc3 7. bxc3 Bd7 is acceptable with a small white edge after 8. O-O e6 9. d4 Bd6 10. Rb1 cxd4 11. cxd4 Rc8. SM Patrick Hummel managed a draw in this line versus me, Las Vegas 2002(?) – I will try to find that game score.

7. d4 Of course. The black knight on b4 is just dangling now.

7…cxd4 8. exd4 a6 9. Ba4 b5 10. Bb3 Bf5 11. O-O Na5?! Highly dubious – nothing is out on the kingside in a flagrant violation of opening principles.

12. Bg5! An extremely strong move! A move like 12…f6, while obviously disgusting, is one of black’s only moves now to avoid a quick loss.


12… h6? Falling into the trap. 12… Nxb3? 13. Qxb3 is also really bad.

13. Ne5! The point! The black e-pawn is pinned so the sudden hit on f7 induces grave concessions. In fact, as black stated after the game, he was lucky that he didn’t have to resign straightaway (he overlooked 13. Ne5).

13… Nxb3 14. Qxb3 Be6 Forced.

15. Qxb4 hxg5 And now white needs to take a think and figure out the way to win. It stands to reason there should be something really good here.



16. Rfe1?

Wrong! White had the much stronger 16. a4! as GM Christiansen pointed out to me later. Black is way behind in development and his structure collapses. The variations can be quite beautiful: 16. a4 Qd6 (16… bxa4 17. Qxa4+ Bd7 18. Qc4 e6 19. Rxa6 Rxa6 20. Qxa6 f6 21. Nxd7 Qxd7 22. Nb5 Kf7 23. Rc1 Kg6 24. h3 and wins) 17. Qa5! bxa4 (17… Bc4 18. Nxb5 Bxb5 19. axb5 f6 20. Ng4 Qxd4 21. h3 f5 22. Rfd1 Qe4 23. Re1 Qd5 24.Ne3 Qe5 25. Qa4 Rh4 26. b4 wins) 18. Qxa4+ Bd7 19. Nb5!! and this is not the last fantastic move in this variation! Let’s pause here to look at the situation:


Position after 19. Nb5!! (Analysis) This is the kind of position that GM Christiansen would really enjoy. Continuing, 19…Qb8 20. Qc4 Bxb5 (20…Qxb5 21. Qf7+ Kd8 22. Qf3! Rc8 23. Nf7+ Ke8 24. Nxh8 wins mundanely) 21. Qxf7+ Kd8 22.Qd5+ Ke8 23. Rfc1! Ra7 24. Rxa6!! Fabulous! For the second time in this line, white has landed a heavy, heavy blow.

Let’s look at it:


Position after 24. Rxa6!! (Analysis)

Follow along now: 24. Rxa6!! Rxa6 (24…Bxa6 25. Qf7+ Kd8 26 Nc6+) 25. Qxb5!! Yes! 25…Qxb5 26. Rc8 mate. White gave up almost every piece , is a queen and rook down, and delivers a pure mate! This would have made it into a book of chess miniatures!


Position after 26. Rc8 mate (analysis).


Back to the text. 16. Rfe1? as played is very bad, it gives black time to develop. It doesn’t throw away the edge yet, but the beautiful mating patterns above hopefully illustrate the strength of 16. a4!

16..Bd5 17. Nxd5 Qxd5 18. Qb3?? What the heck is this? Trading queens is a horrific decision. My brain must have been switched off. Note that it gives black an easy way to develop – the classic definition of a soft move according to GM Stohl – and a very weak move!

18. a4! is still strong. For example, 18… e6 19.Qc3 Bd6 20. axb5 Qxb5 21. Qe3 Qxb2 22. Qxg5 O-O 23. Qh4 Qc2 and white is better.)

18… Qxb3 My opponent must have been thanking his lucky stars. 19. axb3 Rh6!

Ugh! I completely missed this move, which gives black a good game! He develops smoothly and I can make no threats! I could sense the game going downhill and I couldn’t believe it – what happened to my initiative??

20. h3 Rd6 21. Nf3 e6 22. Rec1 Be7 23. Rc5? 23. Kf1! is much better. I am shellshocked.

23…Rb6 24. Rc7 Bd8 25. Rc2 Rd6 26. Rc5 Rb8 27. Nxg5 Rxd4

White is flailing around and black improves his position methodically. A tragedy from my standpoint, but a deserved loss, since I made so many blunders after achieving a crushing game. The lesson? Be extra alert and spend extra time looking when it appears like there’s a chance to finish the opponent off quickly!

28. Nf3 Rd6 29. Kf1 Bf6 30. Ne5 Rbd8 31. Re1 Rd5 32. Rxd5 Rxd5 33. f4 Rd4 34. Nf3 Rxf4 35. Ra1 Rb4 36. Rxa6 g6 37. Ra8+ Ke7 38. Ra7+ Kf8 39. Nd2 Bxb2 40. Rc7 Be5 41. Rc8+ Kg7


It took me quite a while not to be really angry after this game. But it was all my fault! I couldn’t believe I let him get away with his anemic opening play. At least we see a nice mate in a variation! I wound up qualifying for the US Championship at the last possible moment, by defeating GM V. Georgiev in Las Vegas North American Open, December, 2005.