Archive for the ‘King’s Indian Defense’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: Beliavsky and Gelfand Hopelessly Confused by Nakamura’s King’s Indian

January 9, 2010

The Sharpest King’s Indian

At the World Team today GM Nakamura scored a key victory leading the USA over Israel, 2.5 – 1.5  Last year, Nakamura also confounded GM Beliavsky in the same variation at the “Rising Stars vs Experience” match in Holland.  Let’s see this perplexing King’s Indian.

[Event “Rising Stars vs Experience”]
[Site “Netherlands”]

[Date “2009.??.??”]
[White “Beliavsky, Alexander”]
[Black “Nakamura, Hikaru”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E97”]

For a certain time, Beliavsky played very strongly in this sharp line.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5
Ne7 9. Nd2

Starting Point

9…Ne8 Old school logic didn’t like this move; it doesn’t control c5. In Kasparov’s heyday, it was thought black needed  Nf6-d7 and…a7-a5 in some order to hold white up.  We might see a resurgence of ….a5 if white’s resources pointed out in this article hold up.

10. b4 f5 11. c5 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4 Ng6 15. Ba3 Rf7

Toddlin' down the main line road

Doesn’t it look like white is faster and therefore better?  It looks that way to me.  That means we should be trying very hard to figure out what Beliavsky and Gelfand did wrong, since it’s counter-intuitive!

16. a5(!)

(In today’s Gelfand-Nakamura game, very strange things happened after black blitzed out the refreshingly barbaric pawn storm  16. b5 dxc5 17. Bxc5 h5 18. a5 g4 19. b6 g3 20. Kh1 Bf8 21. d6 axb6 22. Bg1 Nh4!

Black plays to bother the white king and threatens a standard sac.  Gelfand’s response is suprisingly weak for this veteran 2700-plus player playing white.  Do you think part of the reason was that black was playing instantly?  Sometimes that leads the other player to overlook key resources and become rattled.

Puzzle for Boris

23. Re1? (White has to recognize the danger and play the non-standard 23. hxg3! fxg3 24. Be3! after which black’s knight on h4 just blocks.  For example, 24… Bh3 25. Rg1! Bxg2+ 26. Rxg2 Nxg2 27. Kxg2 Bxd6 28. Nxd6 Qxd6 29. Qxd6 cxd6 30. Bc4 and white is on the better side of a draw.  On other black moves, white proceeds in the center and the queenside.  Bg5 is also threatened in some lines and at least, white is not getting mated!

23… Nxg2! Since black was blitzing, it was probably all prep.  Still, it is amazing that despite the oceans of time white consumed, he seems to have missed the tactical detail of the “forever” mate on g2 stopping his intended capture of black pieces.
24. dxc7? Another mistake.  He has to try 24. Kxg2 Rg7 25. dxc7 gxh2+ 26. Kh1 hxg1=Q+ 27. Rxg1 and white appears safe.  Can black improve?

24… Nxe1! Now it’s all over; white has embarrassingly lost.

25. Qxe1  g2+ 26. Kxg2 Rg7+ 27. Kh1 Bh3 28. Bf1 Qd3! Oops.  That g2 mate again.  What a debacle!

29. Nxe5 Bxf1 30. Qxf1 Qxc3 31. Rc1 Qxe5 32. c8=Q Rxc8 33. Rxc8 Qe6 and white gave up, 0-1 Gelfand-Nakamura World Team 2010.

Going back to Big Al Beliavsky, where white has good chances (at this point!),

16… h5 17. b5 dxc5 18. b6! I like Beliavsky’s way of NOT taking on c5 yet with the bishop as in the Gelfand-Nakamura game .

18…g4 19. bxc7 Rxc7 20. Nb5! (20. Qb3 g3 21. Nb5 Nxe4 22. fxe4 (22. h3 Qh4 23. d6 Bxh3 is black’s main idea, and it works!) 22…Qh4 and black crashes through.  Alexander’s move looks highly logical)

20… g3 This is black’s only move.  Still doesn’t it look like black’s position is hanging by a thread?

The obvious threat is Nxe4 and Qh4.  I think white’s next move is not the best.  This is the critical moment that I bet Al wishes he could do over.  Up to now, I find white’s play to be fantastically logical and he’s made inroads on the queenside and the center.  He has to deal with black’s (only) play against his King involving a N/f6 sacrifice and then Q to h4 with an intended mating attack.   This unidimensional idea, though, is hard to stop and explains the appeal of the line from black’s point of view.  Looking at the next diagram, how to finesse it so that black’s attack is stopped (if the attack is stopped, white’s positional trumps should win)?

Puzzle for Big Al

21. Nxc7? This allows the threat.  Better, I think, is 21. Qc2!! disallowing black’s intended tricks.  For example, none of black’s standard knight sacs work now. 21… Nxe4? (21… Nxd5? 22. exd5 Qh4 23. h3 Bxh3 24. gxh3 Qxh3 25. Bd3! (Don’t you like how the subtle 21. Qc2!! guards the h2 square laterally, I do!) 25… Nh4 26. Be4 g2 27. Rfe1 and white wins) 22. Qxe4 Qh4 23. hxg3! Exploiting the pin; black cannot organize the standard mate now.  23…Qxg3 24. Nxc7 Nh4 25. Rf2 Bh3 26. Bd3!  and it turns out that white is one that wins by attack on black’s king, a refreshing change (from white’s point of view).  Continuing, 26… Bxg2 27. Qh7+ Kf7 28. Nxe5+ Ke7 29. Bxc5+ Kd8 30. Ne6+ and mates.

In the game, white missed some more tactical details and lost, but I think we should focus on the 21. Qc2! improvement.

For completeness, 21. Qc2! Ne8? also fails.  22. Nxc7 Qh4 23. h3 Bxh3 24. gxh3 Qxh3 25. Bd3! (always this resource to use the white queen in defense!) 25…Nxc7 and now white beats black back with an aesthetic defense: 26. Qg2 Qd7 27. Qh1!! h4 28. Kg2! and wins.  Wow!

And if black moves the rook from c7 admitting the attack is over, it is hopeless: 21. Qc2! Rf7 22. Bxc5 and 22. Ncd6 are both crushing.   21. Qc2! Rd7 22. Bxc5 is similarly winning.

21… Nxe4 22. Ne6 Bxe6 23. dxe6 gxh2+ 24. Kxh2 Qh4+ 25. Kg1
Ng3 26. Bxc5 e4 27. Ra4 Rc8 28. Bxa7 b5 29. Rb4 bxc4 30. Bxc4 Qh1+ 31. Kf2 e3+ 32. Bxe3 fxe3+ 33. Kxe3 Nxf1+ 34. Bxf1 Qg1+ 0-1

Conclusion:  I think white should be able to play accurately and maintain an edge in this extremely sharp variation.  However, he has to be fully awake and as tactically alert as black!

Why So Serious?

It’s good to break up theory with some blitz.

[Event “ICC 5 0”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2010.01.10”]
[White “aries2”]
[Black “FredyMatsuura”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ICCResult “Black resigns”]
[WhiteElo “2404”]
[BlackElo “2212”]
[Opening “French: Winawer, Alekhine (Maróczy) gambit”]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Ne2 Nf6?! 5. e5 Nfd7 6. a3 Be7?! 7. f4 b6?! 8. f5! exf5?! 9. Nxd5 Bb7 10. Nef4 O-O 11. Bc4 c5? 12. e6! Nf6 13. exf7+ Kh8 14. Nxf6 Bxf6 15. Qh5! {Black resigns} 1-0

The Fabulous 00s: A Titantic Week 7 USCL Matchup

October 15, 2009

Scorpions-Mechanics: Not for the Faint of Heart

Wow, I am still freaking out a day later.  The Arizona Scorpions and the SF Mechanics played a titantic match on 10/14/09 that will go down in USCL annals as one of the most topsy-turvy matches ever.

I was really pleased to see David Adelberg play the Kan on board 4 for Arizona, consistent with my match preview! Although he got fatigued and eventually lost his way, I am very happy with how well the fearsome Kan did in the opening.

Here is Board 2’s madness.

IM John Donaldson (SF) – IM Dionisio Aldama (ARZ)

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.d4 Nc6 7.Nc3 a6 8.d5 Na5 9.b3 c5 10.dxc6 Nxc6 11.Bb2 Bd7 12.Qc1 Rc8 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.cxd5 Ne5 16.Qb2 f6 17.Nd4 Qb6 18.Qd2 a5 19.f4 Kg8 20.e3 Nf7 21.Rac1 Rc5?

21…Nh6! and black is fine.

22.Ne6! Rxc1 23.Rxc1 Rc8 24.Rxc8+ Bxc8 25.Qd4 Qxd4 26.Nxd4 Bd7 26…Nh6! to hold white to a small edge.

27.Kf2 Kf8 28.Ke2 Ke8 29.Kd3

Black has an awful position.  His next few moves make it worse.

29…Kd8 30.Ne6+ Kc8 31.Nf8! This should have been the winning move.  Robby Adamson and I were not sanguine about black’s chances.  GM Ramirez also wondered what the hell black was doing.  We were like hens in a henhouse virtually running around in our little cyber barn.



Snap on h7?  Snap on d7?  King move?

32.Ne6+? What’s this?   The horse was powerful on f8. There is no way John is going to repeat, I told myself (and others) – he’s just gaining time on the clock.  But then:

32…Kc8 33.Nf8 Kd8 34.Ne6+? Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2

Go back to the diagrammed position.  You have very good tactical and positional endgame insight if you can spot the lines which gives white a big plus, which I have posted in the comments.  The solutions (multiple!) are instructive.

Take on h7?  Take on d7?  A king move?  Very tempting possibilities, and hard to work out in the USCL time limit!

The other matchups were equally nuts and very tense for players and spectators alike.  It was only decided in the wee hours when Arizona’s Barcenilla won Q vs R against San Francisco’s Vinay Bhat. 

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 3 OOTW

September 18, 2009

2009 USCL Opening of the Week – Round 3

IM Jonathan Schroer – GM Joel Benjamin King’s Indian Defense

Two stalwart denizens of the 1980’s Manhattan Chess Club (located at the world-famous Carnegie Hall) go at it in 2009-style online combat.

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  g6  3.Nf3  Bg7  4.g3  0-0  5.Bg2  d6  6.0-0  c6  7.Nc3  Bf5!?

Not Incredibly Strong but Not Stupid

Not Incredibly Strong but Not Stupid

There’s something positionally appealing about setting up a d6,c6 pawn chain, getting this bishop out, and preparing a later d5.  In a related setup, black can try Nc6 (instead of c6) and then B to g4.  Then his idea is hit in the center with e7-e5 after the N on f3 is diverted or traded.

For example, Ron Henley – MG Lone Pine 1980 went

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d6 6. c4 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bg4!? Unusual but interesting.  I can recommend this for further research to KID explorers out there.

8. Ne1 Qc8 9. b3 e5 10. d5 Ne7?

Here I go wrong and go ‘passive’.  The bubbly 10… Nd4! is correct with level chances. For example, 11. f3 Bh3 12. e3 Bxg2 13. Kxg2 Nf5 14. Nc2 c5! and black is fine.

11. f3 Bh3 12. e4 Bxg2 13. Kxg2. White has a definite pull now and I was lucky to draw.

Let’s return to the diagram position.  What should white do?  This is the key theoretical moment.

8.b3?! White is giving too much respect to black’s offbeat idea.  Our first guess based on prior evidence is that 8. Ne1! is correct. It accomplishes several aims.  Mostly, it aims to establish a white square pawn chain and induce black to trade B/f5 for B/g2. Secondly, it prevents Nf6-e4 which is strong in the game!

Let’s look at 8. Ne1! more closely.  We only give it an exclam here due to its success statistically in ChessBase prior games. As we shall see, this may be misguided.

After the possible followup 8…Qc8!? 9. e4 Bh3 10. f3 Bxg2 11. Kxg2 we reach another critical moment.  In practice, white has been scoring very highly here with his space advantage.  However, a single database game stands out for an interesting black response:

11. … c5! An amazing two-step with the black c-pawn.  It makes sense!  Rather than wait passively for a white build-up, black takes action to clarify the structure.  On the other hand, WEAK is 11…e5? 12. dxe5 dxe5 13. Be3! with a pleasant exchange-KID style safe edge for white, who has gotten rid of his problem child light squared bishop!  (Don’t remind Bruci Lopez about Exchange KIDs after he lost to Jesse Kraai in Weak 3 action, apparently an Altounian “special” delayed exchange variation because white cannot lose.  And who, after all, wouldn’t mind a KID where white cannot lose!).

Let’s see this ingenious 11…c5!.


Position after 11…c5!

12. dxc5 Qxc5 and black is OK; or

12. d5 Nbd7 (in Amann-Martinovic, Austria 1998, the weaker 12…Na6 was played but black still drew) 13. Nc2 a6 and black has an acceptable Benoni with level chances.  12…Nh5 is also playable.

Well, let’s see, we might have to re-think and go back.  Maybe 8. Ne1 is not so fearsome!  What else?  8. Nh4 has been tried by such luminaries as Karpov and Portisch but that’s not dangerous; the WN is offside there.  8. Qb3!? is another try which has some logic, after all black’s Bf5 unguarded b7.  After 8. Qb3!? Qb6 9. Re1!? (Wojo used to try this)

A Wojo Special

A Wojo Special

White emerges with a small edge after the optically scary 9…Qxb3(?!) 10. axb3 Bc2 11. b4 Na6 12. b5 Nb4 13. e4!.  Wojo was a big openings expert so it makes sense to focus further research on his idea.  Even so, black doesn’t have to take, and can play e.g. 9…Na6.  His position looks fine.

Conclusion:  there’s no clear path for a white advantage in this KID sideline!

Returning to the game, recall that Schroer has reacted cautiously and rather passively with 8. b3.  This permits…

8… Ne4! Black is completely OK already; an opening success. In subsequent play Schroer vacillated between “solid” and “aggressive” with predictable results.

9.Bb2  Nxc3  10.Bxc3  Be4  11.Qd2  e6  12.Qe3  d5  13.Bh3  Bxf3  14.Qxf3  f5  15.Qd3  Nd7  16.f3  a5  17.Kh1  Qg5  18.Bg2  Qh5  19.Qe3  Rfe8  20.Qd3  Nf6  21.e4  dxe4  22.fxe4  Rad8  23.Rad1  c5  24.Bf3  fxe4  25.Bxe4  Ng4  26.Qe2  Rf8  27.Bf3  Rxf3  28.Rxf3  Nxh2  29.Kg2?

This has nothing to do with the opening, but the inhuman machine finds a way for white to get a half point here. 29. Qxe6+! Kh8 30. Rf7!! Qxd1+ 31. Kxh2 cxd4 (31…Qc2+ 33. Kh3 Qxc3 34. Rxg7! and draws) 32. Bxa5 Qh5+ 33. Kg1 Qxa5 34. Qe7 Rg8 35. Rxg7! with a draw!  What a line!

29…Qxf3+  30.Qxf3  Nxf3  31.Kxf3  b6  32.Ke4  cxd4  33.Rd3  e5  34.c5  bxc5  35.Bxa5  Ra8  36.Bb6  Rxa2  37.Bxc5  Re2+  38.Kf3  Re1  39.Kf2  Rc1  40.b4  e4  41.Ra3  e3+  42.Ke2  Rc2+  43.Ke1  Be5  44.Ra8+  Kf7  45.Rf8+  Ke6  46.Re8+  Kd5  White resigns 0-1

The Fabulous 00s: The Scrappy Western Chess Congress 2009

March 9, 2009

Nostalgia in Concord

It was quite enjoyable play in a Bill Goichberg event in Concord, CA.  There was a lot of nostalgia.  For example, I saw IM Walter Shipman battling on the black side of a stodgy Cozio in the last round vs NM Yulia Cardona and the position looked like a stodgy game where I played Walter in the 1989 Manhattan CC Championship!  (I failed to win, narrowly, and missed tying for first in that ’89 event).   By the time I left, it looked like Yulia too would not breach Walter’s tough defensive line.  I also saw Dmitry Zilberstein.  The last time I played Dmitry (not counting an Az – Ca CoC online US Champ. qualifier matchup that he won), it was the 2000 “Universe Open” in San Francisco and we were busy dropping “powerbombs” on each other in a wildly inaccurate King’s Indian.  Many “name” players didn’t do well and dropped out before the end:  Donaldson, Mezentsev, Shankland.  Strugatsky also had big problems and didn’t wind up with a prize.

In the notes that follow, “The Computer” stands for Rybka 3.1.

Big Kid and Little Kid

The event was won by Daniel “Kid” Naroditsky with 4 out of 5.  It is my fault, I squandered a white against him in Round 4 in a misfired attempt to “surprise” and could only produce an anemic draw.   Naroditsky did produce a nice win earlier, soundly defeating Shankland’s mishandled Scheveningen (I have no doubts we will see that game annotated elsewhere).

I also saw an even younger and littler kid (yes, this is possible) David Adelberg, rated only 2095, who produced a big score of 3.5 out 5 (same as me; we tied for 2nd along with Tate, Zilberstein, and De Guzman).   In my last round encounter, I frustratingly mixed up the middlegame move order in a not terribly tricky position and all my winning chances disappeared vs NM Zierk.

Here is a funny Adelberg game from the last round. I might have the introductory move order wrong but at any rate take a look at the crazy position that resulted right out of the opening:

Yanayt had 2.5 out of 4 going into this and Adelberg had 3.  There was a big class prize for Adelberg on the line!

NM Eugene Yanayt (2298) – David Adelberg (2095)  King’s Indian Western Chess Congress, Round 5.  40/2, SD/1

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. e4 e5 5. Nf3 c6 6. Be2 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Qc2  O-O Maxim Dlugy used to pay rent by squeezing hapless opposition after 9. d5.  Maxim loved static space advantages.

9. Rd1 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Qc7?! This is a very dubious and passive spot for the queen.

11. Be3 Nc5?! 12. b4 Ne6

Black’s treatment, omitting the “necessary” a7-a5,  looks highly dubious.  Thus far he looks like a victim on the wrong side of a simul. Yanayt goes for what looks like a quick kill.  If he had played 13. Nb3, he could have established a huge edge positionally.

13. Nxe6 Bxe6 14. Bf4 Rfd8 15. c5 Ne8 16. cxd6 Nxd6  17. Nb5

A nice (even if obvious) double pin.  Game over?

Is the Kid Dead Meat?

Is the Kid Dead Meat?

17…Qe7! Game not over!  The kid has a funny “kid” habit of banging out blitz type moves like this very emphatically; shades of a young Jay Whitehead.

18. Bxd6 Rxd6 19. Nxd6 Bxa1

Last chance for Yanayt to continue the fight with a small edge.

20. Nxf7?

Wrong.    I will leave the right plan as an exercise to the reader. After the text move, black had no problems drawing in short order after 20…Bxf7.

The right choice to continue the battle was the difficult 20. f4! Bg7 21. e5.  By leaving the N on d6, white poses practical problems. For example, 21…a5?! 22. b5! +=. Or, 21…Rd8 22. Bc4! Bxc4 23. Qxc4 Qe6 24. Qxe6 fxe6 25. Kf2 +=. The right reaction for black is 21…g5! but this is hard to decide on in a position where it looks like there are safe alternatives. After 21…g5 22. g3 gxf4 23. gxf4 Qh4! 24. Rf1 a5! black has enough counterplay.  This is not an obvious line and deviations give white the edge.

Stay tuned, I will present some interesting games I played vs Gutman, IM De Guzman, FM Naroditsky, Yanayt, and Zieck.

And now my own games.

Josh Gutman (2190) – M. Ginsburg, Round 1.
Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Qc7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. Qe2 Nc6(!) It’s really a Taimanov now, but one where it looks like black has solved his problems.

8.  Nb3 This decentralizing move cannot offer anything.  On the other hand, after 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. e5 Nd5 10. O-O Be7 11. h3 O-O 12. Qe4 g6 13. Bh6 Re8 black is OK too.

8…Be7 9. f4

Could try something strange now

Could try something strange now

9…d6 It’s noteworth that  the computer likes the surprising 9… h5!? that I never considered.  If 10. h3 (10. e5!? Ng4 11. h3?! (11. O-O b5 (11… Nb4?! 12. Be4 d6 13. a3) 12. h3 Qa7+ 13. Kh1 Bb7 14. a4 b4 15. Ne4 f5 16. Nd6+ Bxd6 17. exd6 Kf7 18. c3 Kg6 with a strange game) 11… Bh4+! 12. Kf1 Nf2 13. Rg1 Nxd3 14. cxd3 d6 and black is very happy) 10…d6 11. Be3 b5 12. O-O Bb7 and black is all right.

10. Be3 b5 Hunting down the B/d3 with 10… Nb4?! 11. O-O O-O 12. a3 Nxd3 13. cxd3 Bd7 14. Rac1 Bc6 15. Nd4 gives white an easy position to play.

11. a4 This plan is slow and black equalizes with no problems.

11…b4 12. Nb1 12. Nd1 e5 13. O-O O-O 14. Nf2 d5 15. f5 Rd8 16. a5 d4 17. Bd2 Bb7 is fine for black.  Basically, once the N/c3 has left, black has a lot of say in the center.

12… O-O 13. O-O Bb7 The immediate 13… e5! is nice.  I did not consider it.  Black can make do without the fianchetto on b7. For example, 14. N1d2 exf4 15. Bxf4 Ng4 16. h3 Nge5 17. Nc4 Be6 with equal chances.

14. N1d2 e5 Someone like Ulf Andersson would play 14… Rfe8! which is more psychologically clever – delaying e5, and hoping  white misplaces his pieces. For example, 15. a5 e5 16. f5 d5 17. Bb6 Qb8.  The text is OK, it just reduces the possibilities.

15. Nc4  d5 Here black had the evident 15… exf4 which is good enough for equality. 16. Bxf4 (16. Rxf4 Ne5 17. Bb6 Qd7 18. Nba5 Nxc4 19. Bxc4 d5 is interesting but not forced) 16… Rfe8 17. a5 Ne5 18. Nb6 Rad8 and black is comfortable.

16. Nb6? A bad tactical miscue.  One good move was 16. Bb6! forcing the black queen back first.  Then, 16…Qb8 17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qd3+ Kg8 20. Qxd5 exf4 21. Qe4 f3!? with bizarre complications.  White also had the simple capture 16. exd5 Nxd5 17. fxe5 (Not now 17. Bxh7+? Kxh7 18. Qd3+ Kg8 19. Qxd5 Nd4! and witness the following powerful sequence: 20. Qxe5 Qc6!  21. Rf2 Bh4!! 22. Rd2 (22. Raf1 Bxf2+ 23. Rxf2 Rfe8 24. Qxd4 Rad8 25. Nba5 Rxd4 26. Nxc6 Rd1+ 27. Rf1 Rxf1+ 28. Kxf1 Bxc6 29. b3 Bd5 30. Bd2 Bxc4+ 31. bxc4 a5) 22… Nf3+!!  23. gxf3 Qxf3 and wins! – a very nice sideline) 17… Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Qxe5 19. Bd4 Qc7! and it’s about even in the middlegame.  On the other hand, the queen trade 19… Qxe2? is very bad; 20. Bxe2  is a good ending for white.

16… dxe4! Now white quickly goes down the drain.

17. Bc4 White has to play this depressing move; the point is that 17. Nxa8 exd3! 18. Nxc7 dxe2! wins since the N on c7 gets trapped.  For example,  19. Rfe1 Bd6 20. Bc5 (20. Nb5 axb5 21. axb5 Nd4 22. Bxd4 exd4 23. Rxe2 Bxf4 24. Nxd4 Ng4 25. Nf3 Be3+ 26. Kf1 (26. Kh1 Bc5) 26… Bb6 wins) 20… Bxc7 21. Bxf8 Kxf8 22. Rxe2 exf4 and wins.  White played his 16th move too quickly not seeing the N/c7 cannot get back.

17… Rad8 Now, with …Nd4 threatened and a solid extra center pawn for black, white is just lost.

18. fxe5 Black wins after 18. a5 Nd4 19. Nxd4 exd4 20. Bf2 Rfe8 21. Kh1 Bc5.

18… Nxe5 19. Bxa6

Nothing helps.  If 19. h3 Rd6 20. a5 Rc6!  is a self-blocking, computer-style move that… wins.

19… Neg4! A typical Kan overloading.  White must lose heavy material.

20. Rxf6 Qxh2+ 21. Kf1 Nxe3+ 0-1

Round 2. I continue my winning ways briefly before going on a drawing rampage in rounds 3 through 5.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM E. Yanayt   King’s Indian, Saemisch, 6. Bg5

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. f3 O-O 6. Bg5 My old favorite from the 1980s; I defeated IM Israel Zilber in Canada in a sharp game and Marcel Piket in Holland (GM Jeroen Piket’s brother).

6…c5 I faced 6…Nc6!? vs. Danny Edelman OTB and versus Naroditsky in ICC blitz.  White should probably not react hyper-aggressively as I did with 7. d5 Ne5 8. f4 as I did in those games.

7. d5 e6 8. Qd2 exd5 9. cxd5 a6 10. a4 h6 11. Be3

White might get a small edge after 11. Bxh6 Nxe4 12. Nxe4 Qh4+
13. g3 Qxh6 14. Qxh6 Bxh6 15. Nxd6 Nd7.

11… Nbd7 12. Nh3 Kh7 Some prior games have featured h5, Nh7, and f5 with a wild game.

13. Nf2 Rb8 14. Be2 Qc7 15. O-O c4?

This is an over-ambitious idea, donating d4 to white.   Black can hang tough with 15… b6 16. b3 Re8.

Vacuum on d4

Vacuum on d4

16. Bd4! Filling the vacuum. 16. a5  is also a good move but the move in the game might be stronger.  The computer gives the nice regrouping 16. a5  b5 17. axb6 Nxb6 18. Bd4 Re8 19. Rfc1 h5 20. Ncd1! Bh6 21. Ne3 Nfd7 22. Qa5 with a big edge.

16… Nc5? On 16… b5 17. axb5 axb5 18. Ra7! Qd8 19. b4!? (or 19. Rfa1) white is much better.   Still he should try this as the text just drops material.

17. Bxc4 Nxa4 18. Nxa4 Qxc4?! This loses quickly.  Relatively best was 18… b5 19. Be2 (The computer’s choice – also 19. Bxb5 axb5 20. Rfc1 Qb7 21. Nb6 is great for white) 19… bxa4 20. Rxa4 Nh5 21. Rc1 Qd7 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Qd4+ Kh7 24. Nd3 Bb7 25. f4 Ng7 26. Rb4 Rfe8 27. Bf3 will win; this line is just more complicated than 19. Bxb5.

19. Ba7 Bd7 20. Rfc1 Qb5 21. Nc3 Qc4 22. Ne2! The queen is caught with Ne2-d4 coming up.


Round 3. The start of my drawing “reign of terror.”

IM De Guzman (2396) – IM Ginsburg  Modern Defense

1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. c3 d6 4. e4 Nf6 5. Bd3 O-O 6. O-O Nc6! A long time ago in the 1970s I tried this as white versus IM Sal Matera and got nothing.

7. Bg5 Nd7 8. Nbd2 Qe8 9. Re1 e5 10. Nb3! Excellent play.  I had only anticipated exchanging on e5 with a level game.

Position after 10. Nb3!

Position after 10. Nb3!

10… h6 11. Bh4 b6?! Not a good reaction but I was feeling uncomfortable.    I spent a lot of time and came up with this awkward move.  Better was the accurate 11… exd4 12. cxd4 a5! 13. a4 (13. Rc1 a4 14. Nbd2 a3 15. b3 g5 with sharp play) 13…Nb4 14. Rc1 c6! neutralizing the c-file and black has ‘tidied up’ nicely.

12. Bb5 Bb7 13. Qd3!? Very interesting.  White operates with Qc4 threats.

13…exd4 I didn’t understand that 13… a6!? was playable after all –  14. Bxc6 Bxc6 15. Qc4 Nf6 16. d5 Bb5 17. Qxc7 Qb8 18. Qxb8 Raxb8 19. Bxf6 Bxf6 with quite decent compensation.

14. cxd4 Rc8 15. Rac1 Ncb8 16. a4 a6 17. Bc4 Nc6 18. Qd2 Nd8 19. Qe2 Ne6!? I am just flipping pieces around and now make this semi- bluff.  I am just waiting for my chances.  I didn’t like the looks of 19… a5 20. h3 Ne6 21. Qd2 and black is suffering.

20. Bg3? The only clear error by White in this game.  He believes black’s semi-bluff and moves his bishop onto a bad square.  Correct was the grab  20. Bxa6! Bxa6 21. Qxa6 g5?! (21… Nf6 22. Qc4 Ra8 23. Ra1 Qd7 24. Bxf6 Bxf6 25. e5 d5 26. Qb5 c6 27. Qd3 Be7 28. Nbd2 Nf4 29. Qc3) 22. Bg3 g4 23. Nh4 Nxd4 24. Nxd4 Bxd4 25. Qe2 h5 26. Nf5 Bf6 27. h3 and white is better.  If he had played 20. Bxa6, I would not have played the committal g6-g5-g4 idea; rather, I would have kept pressure on the queenside pawns and hoped for some kind of compensation.

20…Nf6! Now black is very much OK.

21. d5 Ng5!? The computer likes 21… Nc5 22. Nxc5 bxc5 23. b3 Rb8.    The text is also quite good.  Black has excellent dynamic play.

22. Nxg5 hxg5 23. Ra1 If 23. Bxa6 Bxa6 24. Qxa6 Nh5 (24… Ra8 25. Qd3 Rxa4 26. Rxc7 Rxe4 27. Rf1 Qd8 28. Rc6 Rfe8 29. Rxd6 Nd7 30. Qb5) 25. a5 Bxb2 26. Rc2 Nxg3 27. hxg3 Be5 28. axb6 Ra8 29. Qb7 cxb6 30. Rc6 g4 31. Qxb6 Qb8)

23… Nh5! Black offered a draw and white accepted.  I could have played on since after  24. Bxa6 Nxg3 25. hxg3 Bxa6 26. Qxa6 Bxb2 although chances are equal black has the easier game to handle with the strong unopposed bishop.


Round 4.

Ginsburg – Naroditsky  King’s Indian Defense   “Smyslov Bg5”

The kid was ‘en fuego’ fresh off a convincing win over Shankland.  My job was to calm him down.

1.. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. Bg5 Unfortunately this sideline is harmless as black demonstrates quickly in the game.

5…d6 6. e3 c5 7. d5

What happens if White avoids 7. d5?  Here’s a cautionary tale between an ex-WC and a fellow who once tied Botvinnik in a WC match: 7. Be2 Nc6 8. O-O Bf5 9. dxc5 dxc5 10. Qxd8 Rfxd8 11. Rad1 Ne4 12. Nxe4 Bxe4 13. b3 h6 14. Bf4 Nb4! 15. a3 Na2! 16. Rxd8+ Rxd8 17. Rd1 Rxd1+ 18. Bxd1 Nc3 19. Nd2 Bd3! and white resigned due to 20. Bf3 e5! winning a piece, Smyslov-D. Bronstein, Teeside 1975. Elegant geometry by Bronstein. White also had zero after 7. Be2 cxd4 8. exd4 h6 9. Bf4 Bf5 and black won eventually, Smyslov-Epishin Rostov 1993. We start to get the sense that 7. d5 is the only “test” but it’s not much of a test.

A very well motivated and computer-looking move to avoid the g5-d8 pin.

Position after 7...Qb6!

Position after 7...Qb6!

It was too much to hope for junior crudity with  7…h6 8. Bh4 g5? and white got a crushing advantage on the light squares in Ehlvest-Liu, Marshall CC Summer International 2008 (although Ehlvest blew numerous wins then gave Liu a forced mate which he missed; talk about adventure).

8. Qc2(?!) Ehlvest elected 8. Rb1 and this might be a little more challenging. After 8. Rb1 Na6 9. Nd2 h6 10. Bh4 g5 11. Bg3 Bf5 12. e4 black should have retreated with 12…Bg6 keeping good chances, but he went for 12…Nxe4?! and lost in Ehlvest-Garcia Luque, San Roque 1996.

8…e5 Black is also OK after 8… Na6 9. a3 Bf5 10. Bd3 (10. e4 Bd7) 10… Bxd3 11. Qxd3 Qxb2 12. O-O Qb6 13. Rab1 Qc7)

9. dxe6 9. Be2 Na6 is zero.

9… Bxe6 10. Rd1 Nc6! 11. a3 Weirdly the computer indicates 11. Rxd6(?) Nd4! 12. Rxd4 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Rae8 14. Nxe6 Rxe6 as being all right for white but what human would like that?

11… Rad8 Black is also doing well after 11… Na5.

12. Bd3 I hated my game here so i offered a draw.

I was afraid of 12…Na5! and black is starting to build a nice initiative.  After this, if 13. Nd5 I’d definitely rather be black. Naroditsky was focusing more on the rather inferior 12…h6 so he accepted.
Next time I will try a main line with Nd2 or Ne1!


Round 5. It all come down to this.  Since on other boards De Guzman was drawing Naroditsky and Tate was drawing Zilberstein, I needed to win.  And at a certain moment I had my chances…

NM S. Zierk – M. Ginsburg   Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qb6 6. Nb3 Qc7 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. O-O b5!? 9. f4 Bb7 10. e5 Nd5 I was modeling my play after some vague recollection of DeFirmian-Charbonneau, where black won a nice positional game  (World Open, I think, a few years ago).

11. Nxd5 Bxd5 12. Qe2 Nc6 13. c3 d6 Black is fully OK – so the opening is a success.  Conversely, from white’s point of view, he has not played in the most challenging way.

14. exd6 Bxd6 15. Be3 O-O 16. Nd2 Na5 17. Ne4 Be7 18. f5 exf5 19. Rxf5 Bc4 The computer indicates the fearless 19… Rad8 20. Rd1 Nc4.  The text is very safe.

20. Rh5? Very weak.  Now I have real chances to win the tournament.  Once upon a time I put a piece offside vs GM Jan Smejkal and he just smirked and won by technique.  Let’s see my technique…
White would do better with e.g. 20. Bd4 Bxd3 21. Qxd3 and it’s equal.

20… g6 Since this move helps black, white’s last move was pointless.
21. Rh3 Really *the* moment of the tournament for me.


Position after 21. Rh3.

21…Rad8? What a frustrating inaccuracy this will turn out to be!  The obvious 21… Bxd3 22. Qxd3 Nc4 23. Bd4 f5!  gives initiative and a great structure.  For example,  24. Nf2 Bc5 25. b3 Bxd4 26. Qxd4 Rad8.   The nature of black’s edge is fantastic piece coordination along with the nice h7,g6,f5 pawn structure.

22. Bd4 f5 23. Nd2 Bf6 Black has no winning chances anymore after this lame move.  The tactical blackout I had on move 21 was 23… Bxd3?? 24. Qe6+ Rf7 25. Qxg6+ ! and white wins.  I made the offside rook on the h-file make sense!  So I am *not* getting off the d3 bishop with no problems anymore.   A tournament winner needs to be alert!  The last chance by the way to keep the game going here was 23….Bd5.

24. Bxf6 Rxf6 25. Bxc4+ Now the game is dead . Boo!  First place was $1200 and second place was $900.  A whole slew of not terribly alert players tied for second (Tate missed an easy win vs Zilberstein).
If I had won, i would have tied for first with Naroditsky.

25…Nxc4 26. Nxc4 bxc4 27. Re1 Rfd6 28. Rh4 Rd2 29. Qxc4+ Qxc4 30. Rxc4 R8d7! Cute, but it’s still a draw.

31. Kf1 Rxb2 32. Re2 Rd1+ 33. Kf2 Rdd2 34. Rxd2 Rxd2+ 35. Kf3 Rxa2 36. Rc7 Black has won a pawn and according to the well known rule of rook endings, it is still hopelessly drawn.

36…Rc2 37. h4 a5 38. g4 fxg4+ 39. Kxg4 a4 40. Ra7 Rxc3 41. Rxa4 White offers a draw and black out of inertia “tries” a few more moves.

41…h5+ 42. Kg5 Rg3+ 43. Kh6 Kf7 44. Ra6 Rg4 45. Rb6 Rxh4 46. Rxg6 Rh1 47. Ra6 h4 48. Kh5 Draw agreed.  The five
players with 3.5 out of 5 (MG, Zierk, Tate, Zilberstein, De Guzman) each win
the paltry sum of $340.  Chess doesn’t pay well to the unalert ones.


The Fabulous 90s: The Manhattan CC 1990 International

October 7, 2008

The Big 1990 Show at Carnegie Hall

The July, 1990 round-robin international at the Manhattan Chess Club (Carnegie Hall, 57th St and 7th Ave., NY NY) was very strong.  We had:

  • IM Alex Fishbein (Samford Award winner, who made a GM norm in this event)
  • GM Gregory Kaidanov
  • Future GM and well-known USSR Trainer Avigdor Bykhovsky.  Bykhovsky stayed with Joel and I and brought with him plenty of food supplies:  dozens of tins of USSR preserved meat that resembled deviled ham (I think).  All he needed to borrow was a can-opener and he was all set.
  • ex-WC Candidate GM Yefim Geller now in the twilight of his career (he passed away shortly after the event)
  • GM Bozidar Abramovich
  • IM (future-GM of course) Alex Sherzer, my guest for the event.  Alex stayed over at a gigantic 3-bedroom apartment real estate barons Joel Benjamin and me controlled on the Upper West Side.
  • IM Michael Brooks
  • IM Mark Ginsburg
  • GM Alex Wojtkiewicz
  • GM Alex Ivanov

It all started well for me in the first round.  Although I was working at a programming job for SIAC (yuck!!) in “Metrotech” (some called this place “MetroDreck”) Brooklyn, I seemed fresh enough here:

Mark Ginsburg – Alexander Fishbein (2470) MCC Int’l 1990 Round 1.

Dutch Defense, 4. Bf4 gambit line

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4 Just another weird anti-Dutch gambit, not allowing 4. f3? e5!.   For more gambits, see this post.


Position after 4. Bf4.  By transposition, the  Pöhlmann Defense of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

White plans to simply play f2-f3 and leave black with a sick pawn formation.

4…Nf6 5. Bc4 Very logical is 5. f3!? exf3 (5… e6 6. fxe4 fxe4 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6! 10. a3! and white has some compensation) 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Bg5 c6 9. Qd3 b5 10. Bb3 Na6 and now we follow a chaotic old James Tarjan game. (10… b4 11. Ne2 Qc7 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. O-O-O with compensation) 11. a3 Nc7 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 g5 14. Rae1? Unsound. 14. Bf2 is fine. 14… gxh4 15. Qxf5 Qe7 (15… Rg8 16. Nxh4 Be7 17. Qf2 Rg7) 16. Qg6+ Kd8 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nfd5 (18… Nd7 19. Ne4 (19.Rf7 Qg5 20. Qe4 Nd5) 19… Nd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Nxf8 23. Qxh6 Kc7 24. Nxb5+ Kb8 and white is a bit better) 19. Rf7? (19. Ne4! with a huge edge) 19… Qg5 20. Qd3 Rg8 21. Qf3 h3 (21… Nxc3 22. bxc3 (22. Qxc6 N3d5 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rf2 Nb6 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Bd7 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Qxa8+ Ke7) 22… Nd5 and black wins) 22. g3 Qd2 23. Re2 Qc1+ Now black should win. 24. Kf2 Qg5? (24… Bd7 wins) 25. Ne4! Qxe5 26. c3 Ne7? (26… Rg6 is fine for black) 27. Qd3+? (27. Nf6 is much better for white ) 27… Ncd5 28. Nf6 Qd6 29. Nxg8 Nxg8 30. Qh7 Nge7 31. Qxh6 Bd7?? A losing blunder. 31… Kc7 32. Qxh3 Kb8 33. Qh5 Nf5 34. Qh8 is equal. 32. Bxd5 Nxd5 33. Rf8+ Be8 34. Rxe8+ and it turns out white had the last laugh – 1-0 Tarjan,J-Gutierrez,J/Bogota 1979

5… e6 6. Nge2 Bd6 6… Nd5!? is interesting here. 7. O-O Be7 8. f3 Nxf4 9. Nxf4 is about equal.

7. O-O O-O Black can try to delay castling: 7… Nc6 8. Bxd6 cxd6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Bb3 exd5 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nef4 Bxd5 13. Nxd5 and white has some compensation.

8. f3 exf3 Playable is 8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.

9. Rxf3 Kh8 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Rd1 Re8 12. Bg5 Be7 Although it looks dangerous, 12…e5 was quite playable here.

13. Rh3 e5 14. Qe1!? At the time, I thought I was doing quite well with this ‘attacking retreat’. However, black does have a good move here, which Fishbein failed to find.


Position after 14. Qe1!? – not as great for me as I had thought.


This was the key moment. 14… Nxd4?? is very weak due to 15. Nxd4 Bc5 (15… exd4 16. Qh4 h6 17. Bxh6 Ng4 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qh7+ wins) 16. Qh4 Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Qd7 18. Nd5 and wins. The right move was 14… Ne4! 15. Nxe4 (15. Qh4? Nxg5 ) 15..fxe4 16. Bxe7 (16. Rxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qh4+ Kg6 does not work) Qxe7 and black stands better, having gotten out of the potentially annoying d-file attack by the white rook.

15. Qh4! White is much better now. Maybe black missed this simple move.

15…h6 16. dxe5 Bxg5? This is hopeless. 16… Bd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nf4 is terrible for black but still better than the text.

17. Rxd8 Bxd8 18. Qh5 Rf8 19. e6 Nce5 20. Nf4 From now on, there are numerous wins. White chose the primitive path of eating the most dangerous black pieces.

20…Kh7 21. Be2 Most effective is 21. Bd3! g5 22. Ncd5 Kg7 23. e7 Bxe7 24. Nxe7 gxf4 25. Nxf5+ Rxf5 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. Qxf5 Rf8 28. Qe4 and wins.

21… Be7 22. Ncd5 g6 23. Nxg6 Rather crude, but it works Black’s protection of h6 gets overloaded.


22… Bc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxe6 24… Nxg6 25. Bxg4 Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 fxg4 27. Qxg4 wins.

25. Nxe5 Rf6 No better is 25…Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Nxe3 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Qxe3 and wins.

26. N5xg4 fxg4 27. Qxc5 Raf8 28. Bd3+

Black resigned. He is down hopeless amounts of material. 1-0 To Fishbein’s credit, he did more than rebound from this first round defeat – he went on to get a GM norm!

In the middle rounds, I had “trouble” losing vastly superior games to Geller and Kaidanov and Avigdor Bykhovsky which I will come back to.  When in doubt, blame the payroll job.   The “Man” costs energy.

In the last round (round 9) this barn-burner occurred:

IM M. Ginsburg – GM A. Wojtkiewicz 2550 FIDE   MCC Int’l 1990, Round 9.  Saemisch Benoni

My first personal encounter with the humorous Alex who unfortunately passed away last year.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.f3 O-O 7.Bg5 e6 8.Qd2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 Igor Ivanov used to harshly criticize this move, saying the rook is much better placed on f8.

10.Nge2 Na6 11.Ng3 Nc7 12.Be2 a6 13.a4 Rb8 14.a5 Bd7 15.O-O Bb5 16.Na4 Bxe2 17.Nxe2 Nb5 18.Rac1

So far, both sides seem to be doing logical things. Now the game goes crazy.

Position after 18. Rac1.  Things get weird.


This move astounded me.  Black gambits king safety for initiative on a wing where there are no kings!

19.Bxh6 Bxh6 20.Qxh6 Qxa5 21.Nac3 Nxc3 22.Rxc3 Qb5 23.Ng3 Aren’t I checkmating this guy?

23…Nh7 24.f4 Qxb2

I really thought he had gone cuckoo for setting his king on fire in order to go after this b-pawn.  And maybe he had.  But I wasn’t up to the challenge (see note to white’s 27th).

25.Rfc1 Kh8 26.e5!

Obvious but nice. See prior comment.


Position after 26..Qd2!

Ingenious!  The lone queen to the rescue!  For some reason, I expected 26…dxe5 27. Ne4! Rg8 28. fxe5 and white wins easily.  Now I became disoriented.  To fight ingenious… one needs ingenious!


Wrongly forcing a draw.   The grotesque blunder 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Kh1?? loses, as 28…Qxe4 29. Rh3 g5! defends h7.  But white can torture some more with 27. Ne4 Qd4+ 28. Nf2! Qd2 29. Ng4! Kg8 30. Ne3! with nasty ideas like 30…dxe5?? 31. Nf5! winning.  White keeps an edge.  This ingenious Ne4-f2-g4-e3 maneuver never occurred to me.  I didn’t have much time, but still this position is so “attractive” I should have worked harder to find something.

27…gxf5 28.Rh3 Qxc1+

With the grand fizzle – a perpetual check.

29.Kf2 Qd2+ 30.Kf1 Qd1+ 31.Kf2 Qd4+ 32.Kf1 Qc4+ 33.Kf2 Qc2+ 34.Kf1 Qd1+ 35.Kf2 Qd2+ 36.Kf1 1/2-1/2

It was a distinct relief to finally end this tournament.  Why?  When I fill in the report with the losses, you will understand. 🙂

And for Something Different

The Clock Punching Monkeys article in Chinese (translation requested by a curious Asian reader, I presume).  Click to enlarge.

Clock Punching Monkey Chinese Style

I just hope the Asian reader wasn’t trying to learn about monkeys and stumbled across this non sequitur.

The Fabulous 00s: Close but no Mohata

July 11, 2008

Chess Life Online Weirdness

Often times, Chess Life online articles are written hastily (presumably to keep their entertainment value fresh) and the readers really miss out on what’s going on.

In a World Open 2008 article that just appeared, FM Todd Andrews presents some endings in an article titled “Endgame Joy in Philly”.

Let’s look at a particularly bizarre example – since it’s presented without notes and we are led to believe WGM Mohata playing black was somehow ground down (she was ground down earlier that day vs FM Andrews) – but what actually happened?  White was Andrews’ buddy FM John Bick.  CLO readers are having Caissic wool pulled over their eyes here.

Let’s start the action from Andrews’ first diagram.  Black to move.

Position after white’s 39th move in FM Bick – WGM Mohata.   Mohata all the way in this position.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  GONGING NOISE: Mohata stands better! The classical advantage of a 3 on 2 majority versus a 4 on 3 majority plus white’s b2 and a3 pawns are on the same color as the white bishop.  White has a bad game!   Mohata’s got the joy goin’ on!  GONG!!  CLO Readers WAKE UP!!! I can only hope that GM Benko never sees this article. He gets offended when the superior side loses.

To compound white’s difficulties, black can constantly threaten to make a K&P ending and invade with her king versus white’s rickety king-side pawns as the variations will show.  How could she lose?  It took something special, and something quite illogical. These are the questions Andrews might have talked about in the article.  But since the remaining moves (where White wins?!?!?!) have no notes, the reader might just believe Mohata was somehow outplayed.  The truth is black can easily win this position in many plausible lines and white at best can hope for a draw.  For black to lose is totally outside the pale of human dignity.

Let’s see how black can reel in the Bick for a full point using the above-named advantages in some sample lines where white makes even tiny inaccuracies.

For convenience, I will just call this move number 1.

1….Ke6! Always king to the center first before undertaking operations.  The f4 hole beckons.  1…Bd4? 2. Bc3 Be5?? (2…Bg1 =) 3. Bxe5 fxe5 4. Kc3 Ke6 5. Kb4 Kd6 6. Ka5 Kc6 7. g5! wins for white (not 7. Kxa6? g5! drawing).

2. Bc3 Bc7 3. h3 a5 4. Ke3 g5! and by fixing the hole on f4 black is totally winning.  For example, 4. Kd4 Bb6 mate! Or 5. Ke2 Be5 and black easily wins the K&P ending.  OK that defense didn’t work out for white.  Let’s try again.

4. Kc2 This hunker-down is plausible but not so easy to play OTB; the usual instinct is to stay more active.  4…a4!? A possible try. 5. Bd2 Bb6 6. f4 g5! A nice shot; if white takes twice on g5 black has Ke5 and Kxe4.  So white plays 7. fxg5 fxg5 8. Bc3! keeping the king out.  I don’t see a win then.

Let’s go back and see some more ideas.

1…Ke6  2. Ke2? This passive move is crushed!  2…Bd4!  3. Bc3 Ke5! White is running very short of move.   Do you want to see another nice move/plan?  The foxy 3…Be5! 4. h3 Bxc3! 5. bxc3 Ke5 6. Ke3 g5! (Always this move, fixing white’s f4 hole) and black wins. This suggests 4. h3? is a blunder crippling white’s majority and let’s try 4. h4! instead.  Now, 4…Bxc3 5. bxc3 Ke5 g5 is only a draw because white gets a protected passed pawn.  So after 4. h4, black should play 4…h5! fixing the h-pawn on black and retaining good chances.  If 4…h5! 5. Ke3? Bg3! wins.  White must play 5. Kf2 to guard the g3 square for the time being.  Then 5…Bf4 does not seem to lead anywhere; white can move his own bishop.  How about 5…Kf7!? establishing what may be a very pretty zugzwang?

5…Kf7 – Zugzwang!?

For example, 6. Kg2? (moving the king too far afield) and now the thematic 6…a5! winning.   A very nice shot here: 6…a5! 7. Kf2 Bxc3 8. bxc3 g5! making a passed h-pawn.  As has been written in many ending manuals, the white king cannot dance at two weddings!  Or, 6. gxh5 gxh5 7. Kg2 a5! with the brutal finale 8. Kf2 b4 9. axb4 Bxc3 10. bxc3 a4 and queens!  8. g5 Bxc3 9. bxc3 fxg5 and once again black will have his two remote passed pawns which decide.  Note also that 6. gxh5 gxh5 7. Bxe5 fxe5 just lands white in a lost K&P ending with inevitable zugzwang giving black’s king decisive entry points.

4. Kd2 a5! and black is way on top. A nice tactical motif.  For example, 5. h4 Bxc3+ 6. Kxc3 (6. bxc3 Kf4 wins) Kf4 7. a4 (or 7. Kd4 Kxf3 8. g5 fxg5 and wins queen and pawn ending) 7…bxa4 8. Kxc4  Kxf3 9. g5 (last try) 9…fxg5 and black wins the queen and pawn ending.

Let’s go back and try some other lines.

1….Ke6 2. Bf8 (Waiting).  2…Ke5 3. Bg7 With a USA-style subtle threat.  3…g5!! (Cold shower) and black wins.  Note how black can afford, in many position, to fix her kingside on black because white is so hopelessly compromised on black squares in the 3 on 2 majority situation on the queenside.

1…Ke6 2. f4! A plausible move getting rid of the hole on f4.  Now, if black plays 2…Bc7 3. Ke3 g5 4. f5+ Kf7 5. h3 Bf4+ 6. Ke2 Be5 7. Bc3 Bxc3 8. bxc3 the single white problem, the backward pawn on e4, won’t be enough. 8…Ke7 9. Ke3 Kd6 I do not see a win in this K&P ending, because if black’s king goes too far on the queenside white can break with e4-e5.  That position is a draw as long as white does not go crazy with 10. Kd4 a5 11. a4?? bxa4 12. Kxc4 Ke5 and black wins.

So let’s try the immediate  1….Ke6 2. f4 g5!? as a trickier try.  Of course, 3. f5+?? now loses to 3…Ke5 4. Bc3+ Bd4! and white has to resign.

White could answer with 3. fxg5 fxg5 4. Bc3 trying to keep the king out, but then black has the nice switcheroo with 4…Bc7! 5. h3 Be5! (The thematic idea to capitalize on the 3 on 2 majority).  Now, 6. Bxe5?? Kxe5 lands white in a lost ending with black using the usual motif of decoying with the remote passed pawn to win white’s remaining pawns.  He must stay calm with 6. Ke2 and hold on passively – indications are he can hold it unless I am missing a black resource.  There is actually a nice variation buried here to show how narrow the path is.  6. Ke2 Bxc3 7. bxc3 Ke5 8. Ke3 a5 9. Kf3 Kd6 10. Ke3 Kc5 (the only try) 11. Kd2 b4

Position after 11….b4 (analysis).  Close but no Mohata.

and now black is hoping for the blunder 12 axb4??+ axb4 13. cxb4+ Kxb4 14. e5 Kc5 15. Kc3 Kd5 16. e6 Kxe6 17. Kxc4 Ke5 and wins!  Correct for white is the tactical 12. cxb4+! (a narrow saving resource!) 12…cxb4 13. a4! Only move! 13…Kd4 14. a5 c3+ 15. Kc1 Kd3 16. a6 b3 17. a7 b2+ 18. Kb1 Kd2 19. a8=Q c2+ 20. Kxb2 c1=Q+ 21. Ka2 Qc2+ 22. Ka1 and draw.  Whew!

Let’s look at another, more craven, formation.

1…Ke6 2. Kc2 (Passive cowering). 2…Ke5 Black can also torture with 2…Bg1.

3. Bd2 (More passive cowering).  3…Bg1 4. h3 This incredibly passive formation is the best white’s been doing so far!  Maybe, just maybe, he can hold this one and make a draw.   There is a cool K&P variation hidden here:  1…Ke6 2. Kc2 Ke5 3. Bc3+?  Bd4 4. h3 Bxc3 5. Kxc3 Kf4 6. Kb4 and now black to play and get good winning chances.  Take a look.  Solution next time.  Hint, don’t play 6…Kxf3?? 7. g5! and white wins!  That would lose the game for Mohata, imagine that!

What’s the most iron-clad draw?  Many of the ‘draws’ above are kind of scary for white. Some of the lines above point out tenuous white draws.   But black is certainly pressing. Andrews should have pointed out Mohata’s fundamental advantages starting from his first diagram but I concede many Chess Life Online articles are crazy rush jobs.  I welcome readers’ inputs on these lines and also it would be nice if someone had a definitive evaluation from the diagram – black wins or a draw?    Poor Mohata – she lost the actual game. None of the instrinsic advantages were used.  Did I mention that?

3% Vicary

Elizabeth Vicary had minimal contribution to this post.

Postscript:  A Curious Warrior Gambit Opening Omission in Chess Life

In the curious article “The Bathhouse & the Indian” (yes, an ampersand was employed in this article’s title, Earth calling CL Editor) GM Kraai omits an important move that was known in the time of the Toltecs or, failing that, at least the To’hona Oodham and the Yavapai.  I did enjoy references to truck grease but I wish the article had included somebody eating the worm out of the tequila bottle.  Let’s get to the chess.

In his notes to  Johnston vs Leeds-Tilley, after the moves

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 0-0 6. Be2 e5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 For some reason, Kraai awards this an exclamation point.  Radjabov wouldn’t like that!

9. … Nd7? A huge lemon simply because it allows so many juicy white continuations.  Every Russian schoolboy knows about 9…Nh5!

Now, in the game, white played 10. Be3 and very oddly, this move passes by without comment.  White has a far more entertaining option.  Let’s go back to the position after black’s 9th move to summon the spirit of what is known from the past.  Eugene Meyer must have shown me these lines 30 years and many moon ago.

10. c5!

10. c5! Ye Olde Toltec Gambit.

Summoning the spirit of <insert deity/deities>.  Accepting is very risky.  For example, 10…dxc5 11. bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ba3 Nd7? 13. Nb5! with a juicy edge. For example, 13…c5 14. dxc6 e.p. bxc6 15. Nd6 with complete paralysis as in Schenk-Braun Boeblingen 2003.  Or, 12…b6 13. Bxc5 dxc5 14. Na4 and white has scored very heavily starting from here, for example 14…Nxd5? 15. Qxd5 Qxd5 16. exd5 e4 17. Nd2 Bxa1 18. Rxa1 and white won easily, Savchenko-Maier, Porto San Giorgio 2000.

Declining is the Better Part of Valor

In this gambit, declining looks like a better bet. For example 10…f5 11. Ng5 Nf6 12. f3 h6!? is not ridiculous. 13. Ne6 Bxe6 14. dxe6 d5 15. exd5 Nfxd5 16. Nxd5 Qxd5! is murky as practice has shown.  White might do better with  11. Ng5 Nf6 12. Bf3!? but here, black has what may be a TN, 12…a5!, with counterplay.  That suggestion is hot off the Rybka griddle. I don’t think that position has been seen before.

This gambit stuff would make the Yavapai proud!  Very bold and thematically fitting into the article.  I would lose the ampersand in the title, though – editor?

GM L. Ftacnik, Hero!!

Wish I had seen this.  From J. Shahade’s CLO World Open 08 story,

“Co-winner GM Lubomir Ftacnik became heroic to some and notorious to others early in the tournament when he grabbed the mike and yelled “Shut-up” repeatedly when announcements began, even though some of the games had been going on for 20 minutes”.    Is there any question?  Hero!!!!

By the way, Ftacnik was a runner-up in the epic World Junior Championship that the USA’s Mark Diesen won way back in 1976.  Ftacnik got there by swindling pre-tourney favorite Vladimirov.

What’s New Elsewhere

I just posted the blunderfest Ehlvest-Liu from the NY International 2008 Part Deux.

Awesome Error Message

From the site at 12:23 EST Sunday July 13, trying to read an article, I get:

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 262144) (tried to allocate 6144 bytes) in /nfs/eagle/export0/www/docroot/global/ on line 464

That’s better than the article!  All I wanted was a measly 6144 bytes!

Unrelated Query

Presumably correspondence players, having plenty of time to think (and even access to chess engines) should be able to find good moves.  Why is it that correspondence games presented in Chess Life magazine are usually of such poor quality?

Moo Moo Thank you Bu – for that Crazee Saemisch!

April 20, 2008

Thank you, young Grandmaster Bu, for re-introducing a Stone Age Saemisch Attacking Scheme in the Russian Team Championship, 2008! The common thinking was “White can’t mate like that, it’s ridiculous and will backfire.” Bu re-interprets it to say “Attila the Hun Genghis Khan sweeps through the Russian Steppes, killing everything he sees.”

[Event “TCh-RUS”]
[Site “Dagomys RUS”]
[Date “2008.04.02”]
[Round 1]
Bu Xiangzhi [2708] – Vadim Zvjaginsev [2674]
King’s Indian: Saemisch
[ECO “E83”]
[NIC “KI.52”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Nge2 a6 7. Be3 Nc6 8. Qd2 Bd7 9. h4 h5 10. Bh6!? TN? Refreshingly barbaric and a move I have been unable to locate in prior games. GM Miles played 10. O-O-O b5 11. Bh6 and Jadoul reacted incorrectly with 11…Kh7?, missing 11…Bxh6 12. Qxh6 e5! 13. d5 Na5! with good counterplay. Miles won that game easily in 29 moves, Miles-Jadoul, Brussels 1986. In our current game, Attila the Hun enters the hunt directly for the black king. The player facing Bu is no slouch, by the way. But note how quickly he is swamped.

Position after 10. Bh6!? – is this plausible move a Theoretical Novelty?

10...e5 The usual reaction is to draw the queen away with 10…Bxh6 11. Qxh6 and then hit in the center. In this exact position, 10…Bxh6 11. Qxh6 b5!? might be the way to go. Black will need nerves of steel, facing such scary lines as 12. O-O-O e5! 13. g4 bxc4 14. Ng3 exd4 15. Bxc4 Ne5!, but after all this is a kings of opposite castling game and every tempo matters. Bringing the white queen close to the black king looks insanely risky but sometimes it’s the right thing to do in order to make white’s central control weaker.

11. O-O-O b5 Once again, black disdains the stronger 11…Bxh6! 12. Qxh6 b5! and his counterplay is fast. As in the prior note, 13. g4 is met by 13…e5. Here’s another example of a defensive motif: 13. Nd5? bxc4 14. g4? Nxd5 15. exd5 Nb4! 16. gxh5 Nxa2+ 17. Kd2 Qf6! with an edge.

12. Nd5?! Incredibly primitive. Did Bu feast on red meat that day or look forward to a feast after the game? Black immediately goes wrong.

12…Re8? Weeeeeak. Correct was, yes, you’ve guessed it, the dangerous looking 12…Bxh6! 13. Qxh6 bxc4. Black has everything under control. See the prior note with how to handle the blunder 14. g4? and also note that 14. dxe5 Nxe5 15. Nef4 accomplishes nothing after 15…Rb8 where black’s play is more effective than white’s.

13. g4? The circumspect 13. Bg5! leads to a sharp game with mutual chances. The text is part of white’s crazed overall approach. The fact that this Paleozoic approach works is quite surprising given the level of strength of his opponent.

13…hxg4 14. h5 Nothing else to do but this shouldn’t work.

14…gxf3 15. hxg6 fxg6 16. Nec3 Was this bizarre formation white’s chief attacking idea? Black obviously is now totally confuzzled and commits a horrific blunder in a position where he has a simple win.

Position after 16. Nec3. Make or break time.

16…Nxd4??? A win to a loss in one unfortunate move. Black could have won the game here. The simple 16…Ng4! killed white’s attack. For example, 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Bh3 (trying to get to the queen check on h6) Rh8! and black will win. Or, 17. Bg5 Qb8! 18. cxb5 Nxd4! with a big edge after, e.g., 19. bxa6 Be6 20. Rh4 Qa7. Lastly, 17. cxb5 axb5 changes nothing (18. Bg5 Qc8! 19. Nxb5 Be6! 20. Bc4 Na5! and black wins by one tempo). In addition, there is the humorous 18. Bg5 Qc8! 19. dxe5 Ncxe5 20. Ne7+ Rxe7 21. Bxe7 b4! and black wins by direct attack, e.g. 22. Nd5 Rxa2 23. Kb1 Qa8 and white can resign. In all variations, black’s king is safer than white’s now. I can’t resist here and will put a diagram after another humorous line, 17. cxb5 axb5 18. Bg5 Qc8! 19. Nxb5 Be6! 20. Nbxc7 Nxd4! 21. Kb1.

Position after 21. Kb1 (analysis).

As you can probably spot right away, the nice pseudo-queen sacrifice 21…Qxc7!! here wins. 22. Nxc7 Bxa2+ 23. Kc1 Nb3+ 24. Kc2 Nxd2 25. Kxd2 Nf2! and white has to resign.

17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Nxf6 Qxf6 19. Nd5 Everything with gain of time. Black was starting to feel sick, probably.

19…Qf8 20. Qh6+ Kf7 21. Qg5 Qg7 22. Rxd4! Obvious but nice. White systematically gets rid of all of black’s king defenders.

22…exd4 23. Qf4+ Bf5 24. exf5 g5 25. Qg4 Re1+ 26. Kd2 Rae8 27. Qh5+

What a massacre after black’s horrific 16th. Bu laid down the People’s Elbow.


An Unrelated Matter: Vicary-eseque Burberry’s Photos

Here are some Burberry’s photo ads outside the Burberry’s store in Michigan Avenue on Chicago. I think if I keep looking, I can construct a photo amalgamation of Elizabeth Vicary.

The Fabulous 00s: Can Blitz Teach Us Anything about the King’s Indian Defense Bayonet Attack?

December 30, 2007

The ICC and other online forums (fora??) are, I think, a good vehicle for learning-by-example. More specifically, the 5-minute pool where there are plenty of GMs to serve as sounding boards.

I like trying out the Bayonet Attack in the King’s Indian Defense.  It happens to have the ECO code of E97 – this can be useful when conducting online searches.  Let’s see how it did in some recent ICC blitz games.

IM Aries2 – GM Boing777 (Orazly Annageldyev) 

The first moves are familiar – popularized by Kramnik and his second, Dutch GM Loek van Wely.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4

I like this variation because it is forcing and white can often channel black into some special, narrow, labyrinths.  Van Wely has had some exciting games versus Radiabov recently (admittedly, Teimour came out on top, but Loek certainly had his chances as he explains in New In Chess magazine). And here the Central Asian GM plays a common defensive scheme.



Position after 9…a5!?  Is this a good reaction? 

Is this a good reaction, or playing on the side of the board where white is stronger?
It brings back good memories for me, I defeated GM Biyiasis way back in 1982 in this line.  But black can be more clever and introduce the a7-a5 move in a roundabout way. For example, 9…Nh5!? (the most common) in  aries2- SNOEBE ICC blitz 2007 which saw 9…Nh5!? 10. c5!? a5!? (a mixture of ideas with some thematic links to this game) and there followed 11. cxd6 cxd6 12. bxa5 Rxa5 13. a4 with murky play.  White won the game but it had little to do with the opening.

I’ve also faced 9…Nh5 in numerous OTB games.  Here, for example is a smooth win over Dmitri London, a player who created a stir in the early 80s with some flashy wins over strong players – but then “retired”, I suppose, probably by simply entering the workforce.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM D. London NY State Masters 1982
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 Nh5 10. c5!? (Kramnik later popularized 10. Re1) 10…Nf4!? 11. Bxf4 exf4 12. Rc1 a5 13. a3 axb4 14. axb4 Kh8 15. Qd2 Ng8 16. Rfe1 f5 17. Bd1!? Nf6 18. cxd6 cxd6 19. exf5 Bxf5 20. Nd4 Qd7 21. Qxf4! (Safe!) 21…Bd3 22. Qd2 Bc4 23. Ne6 Rfc8 24. Bf3 b5 25. h3 Ra3 26. Nxg7 Kxg7 27. Qd4 Re8 28. Ne4 Re5 29. Nxf6 Kxf6 30. Bg4 Qa7 31. Qf4+ Black resigns 1-0.  

The reader may be wondering about the leap 10…Nf4!? – is it necessary?  No, the move 10…f7-f5 is also possible.

Here’s an example:

IM Aries2 – NM WaShiHwanNi  ICC Blitz 2007 

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 Nh5 10. c5 f5 11. Nd2 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4 (White is faster in this race on opposite wings) 14…Ng6 15. Ba3 Rf7 16. b5 Bf8 17. b6! (A thematic breakthrough; black is lost) 17…axb6 18. cxb6 h5 19. Nb5 Ne8 20. bxc7 Nxc7 21. Nbxd6 Once the bastion on d6 falls, the rest is carnage. 21…Rg7 22. Nxc8 Rxc8 23. d6 Ne8 24. Qd5+ Kh7 25. Nxe5 Nxe5 26. Qxe5 Nf6 27. Qf5+ Kh8 28. Rac1 Black resigns 1-0

And we’ve already seen this subvariation 9…Nh5 10. c5!? Nf4!? in the famous M. Ginsburg – I. Gurevich “Pawn Box” game in another post.  I also had it in a game versus NM Glenn Lambert, Lloyds Bank 1978 as reported in a Lloyds Bank nostalgia post.

Another quite original idea is aries2- IM Roberto Paramos (xadrezgalego), ICC Blitz 2007, which saw 9…Ne8!? 10. c5 f5 11. Nd2 a5!? 12. cxd6 Nxd6! (behold the value of 9…Ne8!) 13. bxa5 Rxa5 with complex play. That game was eventually drawn.

But let’s see the thoroughly modern December 2007 blitz game with the newfangled 9….a5!? first.

10. bxa5 Rxa5 11. a4 c5!? 12. Nd2 Nd7 13. Nb3

According to Openings Explorer feature (a ‘premium’ feature for those members who want ‘to go to 11’ [cf. Spinal Tap movie]), 13. Nb5!? has been seen in a few recent games with mixed results.   In this game, I innovate by dispensing with the leap Nc3-b5. It’s not clear how useful that is, anyhow.   Just to give one example of 13. Nb5!?:   13. Nb5 Ra6 14. Ra3 Kh8 15. Qc2 f5 16. exf5 gxf5 17. Nf3 h6 18. Nh4 e4 19. f3 exf3 20. Raxf3 Ne5 21. Rg3 Kh7 and white had some edge and went on to win a sharp game, Gulko-Reinderman, Las Vegas FIDE World Ch. 1999.

13…Ra6 14. a5 f5 15. f3 f4 16. g4!?   The move g2-g4 is seen in other King’s Indian lines, in particular 9. Ne1 variations. White doesn’t want to sit and wait passively for a pawn storm to swamp his kingside.  Philosophically, does white have the “right” to create some holes on the kingside in exchange for the obvious claims to some space?  Can the bottled up rook on a6 justify this ambitious scheme? 


Position after 16. g4!?  What’s going on? 

16…h5 17. h3 g5 18. Bd2 Ng6 19. Be1 Nf6 20. Kg2 Nh4+

The situation is very sharp. White loses his useful dark square bishop but maintains a king side blockade. 

21. Bxh4 gxh4 22. Qe1 Nh7 23. Na4 Qg5 24. Nb6 Rxb6 25. axb6 Nf6 26. Kh2(!) Sidestepping problems. The sacrifice introduced by black on move 24 may be insufficient.

26… hxg4 27. hxg4 Bxg4 28. Rg1 Qh6 29. Nd2 Bh5 30. Ra7 Rf7 31. Qxh4 Kh7 32. Qg5! This simplification wins.

32…Bg6+ 33. Qxh6+ Bxh6 34. Rga1 Nh5 35. Rxb7!

A typical blitz finale. Black gives up as 35….Rxb7 36. Ra7 wins for white. 


I am going to add to this post and introduce the historical 1982 Biyiasis material, as well as other topical games in this 9…a5!? defensive line.  Interestingly, I could not find the Biyiasis game (Philadelphia Swiss) in the usual Chessbase databases – yet another game from the past that this column will “contribute” to future databases.

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.





The Fabulous 80s: Fun and Chess in Eeklo Belgium

November 16, 2007

Belgium has always been a nice place to play. Eeklo is in Flemish Belgium (Dutch language, no French) nestled near the Dutch border (Sas van Gent, Holland, has been another location for the event). It is slightly larger than the proverbial one-horse town that would be a one-horse town if somebody gave it a horse. In the center of town, there was a cafe with the crowd-pleasing “crevette salade” – very yummy.

Here is a battle versus future GM Danny King in the Eeklo, Belgium ECI International. There is also a concomitant ECI Youth Open. Luminaries who have played in this event in years past include John van der Wiel, David Goodman, Pavel Blatny, Philipp Schlosser, Ferdinand Hellers, Erik Pedersen, and more!

Danny King – IM M. Ginsburg ECI 1983 Eeklo, Belgium

1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d6 6. c4 Nbd7 7. Nc3 e5 8. h3 c6 9. e4 Re8 10. Re1 exd4 11. Nxd4 a5 Needless to say white has good chances to gain an edge starting from here, but white’s next few moves seem tentative.

12. Rb1 Nc5 13. b3 Nh5 14. Be3 Be5!? White can’t repel with f4 because the g3 pawn would be hanging. The text sets up an unusual re-arrangement to keep black’s piece activity alive, but in retrospect it’s a little dubious.


15. Qd2 Ne6 16. Nde2?! 16. Nxe6 Bxe6 17. g4! is a strong idea. Black is running severely short of space after 17…Ng7 18. f4 Bf6 19. g5 Be7.

16…Qf6 17. Rbc1?! And here, 17. Na4! eyeing b6 is strong. Sometimes it’s best to simply vacate the a1-h8 diagonal in King’s Indian structures, leaving black’s pieces pointing at nothing.

17… g5! 18. Rf1 If 18. Na4 now, black has 18…Nhf4! (not 18…Nef4? 19. Nb6!) with counterchances.


I have managed to totally confuse the strong captain of the white forces with my unusual play. This move prohibits white’s agenda with f2-f4 in the most radical way and cements black’s advantage. A classic example of two sides each pursuing their own agenda, almost unmindful of the other, with one side arriving slightly earlier at the goal.


19. g4 Ng7 20. Ng3 h5 21. f3 Nge6?! 21…hxg4 22. fxg4 Qh6! is strong.

22. Nce2! White hunkers down an plays a set of optically horrific moves, but in fact they are strong and limit black’s pull to a minimum.

22… hxg4?! Stronger is the immediate 22…Qh8! – it is careless to let white operate on the f-file right away.

23. fxg4 Qh8 24. Bxf4 Nxf4 25. Nxf4 Bxf4


26. Rxf4!? White is doing his best to stay afloat.

26…gxf4 27. Nh5 Qe5 28. Rf1 Re6! A very useful transfer of the rook for offensive and defensive purposes. See the note to black’s 32nd move for how I should have to used this rook to get at white’s king.

29. Rxf4 Rg6 Of course there is some risk that the rook will wind up stranded here with nothing to do – which occurred in the game after I made a mistake!

30. Qf2 Be6 31. h4? A major mistake. This is tactically playable due to the fork on f6 but it’s much too optimistic and now black should win. Correct was 31. Nf6+ Kg7 32. Nh5+ Kf8 33. Qb6! with counterplay; for example 33…Qc5+ 34. Qxc5 dxc5 35. e5! and white is OK.

31…a4! This calm reply puts white in a lost game.

32. b4 A desperate bid at counterplay. If black opens the a-file for the rook it will all be over very soon.

32…c5? First of all, 32…a3! keeps a huge edge. Secondly, I must have been scared of the obvious capture 32…Bxc4! 33. Qb6 Qe7? 34. Qd4, but I had a brilliant sequence here: 32…Bxc4! 33. Qb6 Kh8! 34. Qxb7 Rag8! (every piece attacking) 35. g5 Qc3! 36. Qxc6 Qe3+! 37. Rf2 Qe1+! 38. Bf1 Rxg5+!! and mate in 9! The text doesn’t throw away black’s edge, but it’s third-best. It would have been very nice (for me) to snatch the pawn and then find the mating variation, but it was not on my radar at the time.

33. bxc5 Qxc5?

A big blunder after a small blunder that destroys my hopes of winning. Correct is 33…dxc5! keeping the blockade and black has every chance to win. For example, 34. Nf6+ Kg7 35. g5 Bxc4 36. Rf5 Qd4 with a small black edge. If I converted, this would give me first place in the tournament and relegate Danny to 2nd.

34. Qxc5 dxc5 35. e5 Kh8 36. Nf6 Rd8 37. Bd5!


White has skillfully bottled black up – a consequence of my little miscue at move 32 and big miscue at move 33 which released the blockade.

37…Kg7 38. g5 Bxd5 39. cxd5 b5 40. Kf1 c4 41. Ke2 At adjournment we decided to call it quits, although white now has a huge positional bind. It clinched tournament victory for Danny.


And so Danny captured 1st place and I finished 2nd, to the delight of his Belgian lady cheering section.

Ths game reminds me of the famous quote by Lord Alfred Tennyson (good for barking out after any draw):

“Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null,
Dead perfection; no more. “

That was the result of the game – a big fat null.

Since chess players need culture, a picture of Lord Tennyson to go with his great quote:

Jumping ahead to the end of the decade, here is a battle versus Marjan Mitkov from the same event, 1989. I think he may be the brother of GM Nikola Mitkov who resides in the USA.

Marjan Mitkov – Mark Ginsburg ECI 1989 King’s Indian 4 Pawns Attack

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. f4 c5 7. d5 b5 8. cxb5 a6 9. Nf3? This allows a simple trick.

9…axb5 10. Bxb5 Nxe4! 11. Nxe4 Qa5+ 12. Nc3 Bxc3+ 13. bxc3 Qxb5 14. Kf2 Qc4! Freezing white’s weak pawns.


Position after 14…Qc4! 

15. Qd2 Bb7 16. Re1 Re8 17. a3 Bxd5 18. Qe3 Bxf3?  There is no reason to give up this strong bishop.

19. Qxf3 d5 20. f5 Nd7 21. Bg5 e5 22. Qh3 Qa4 23. Kg1 f6 24. fxg6 hxg6 25. Qd3 Kg7 26. Bd2 Qc6 27. c4 d4 Well, it looks really awful for white anyway.  Nevertheless, he succeeds in finding chances!


 Position after 27…d4.  White finds some chances.

28. Re4 f5 29. Rh4 Rh8 30. Qh3 Rxh4 31. Qxh4 Nf6
32. Qh6+ Kf7 33. Rf1 Rxa3 34. g4!
White is not quitting and the game gets very exciting in mutual time trouble.


 Position after 34. g4! – Excitement!

34…fxg4 35. Qh7+ Ke6 36. Qxg6 Rf3 37. Ra1 e4 38. Bg5 Ke5 39. Ra7 e3 40. Re7+ Kd6 41. Bxf6 White has gained a piece in the time scramble.


Position after 41. Bxf6 – White is up a piece after the time control.
41…Rf1+!  But black finds an aesthetic shot that forces mate!

42. Kxf1 Qf3+ 0-1

This combination was very satisfying to play because it was at the tail-end of a series of blows and counter-blows.

Photo Time

From the 1985 ECI Eeklo event (I won the IM section ahead of future GM Ferdinand Hellers), here is the USA junior representative, Revi Schea.


USA Junior representative Revi Schea, Eeklo Belgium 1985