Archive for the ‘Najdorf’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 8

October 20, 2009

Scorpions Sting Again; ICC Kibitzers Hopelessly Confused

Well, the Scorpions did it again!  They squeaked by the Chicago Blaze 2.5 – 1.5

Let’s see a very important ending on board 3 where Mehmed Pasalic (CHI) was battling Danny Rensch. A very dramatic battle with several key, instructive moments.

Pasalic (CHI) – Rensch (ARZ)  Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 e5 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 b5 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Qe2 Be7 11.Kh1 g6?! I don’t understand this move. I would just cackle. I can do …g6 later, usually as a reaction to white’s probe Nf3-h4 move.

12.fxe5 dxe5 13.Bh6 Ng4 14.Bd2 Nc5 15.Rad1?! After something like 15. h3 h5 16. a3, black’s knight is just hanging in limbo on g4 and white is better.

15…Nxd3 16.cxd3 b4 17.Nb1 h5 18.Be1 Qb6 19.Bf2 Nxf2+ 20.Rxf2 Qe6 21.Nbd2 0-0 22.Nc4 f6 Black’s kingside pawns look funny but white doesn’t have the right pieces on the board to exploit it.

23.Qe3 Kg7 24.Rc2 Rfc8 25.h3 a5 26.b3 a4 27.Qe1 Rd8 28.Re2 Ba6 29.Rc2 Bxc4 More foxy is 29…axb3 30. axb3 Rac8 and black can decide when or if to play Bxc4.

30.dxc4 axb3 31.axb3 Rxd1 32.Qxd1 f5 33.Re2 Rd8 34.Qe1 Bf6? 34…f4 kept the balance.

35.Qxb4 Rd3 36.Qb8! This is strong and black might have underestimated it.

36…fxe4 37.Qb7+ Kh6 38.Qxe4

White has control

White has control

After an up and down game, white is starting to assert himself.   It is starting to get really interesting, and this is when I started watching. It didn’t look good.

This is a good moment to pause due to a tactical nuance.

Here ICC kibitzers initially were calling for black to take on b3:  38…Rxb3.  Another kibitzer pointed out that this was not playable due to “38…Rxb3 39. Nd4!” so we thought it was unplayable. But go a little deeper!    39. Nd4 Rxh3+!! (a fantastic resource!) 40. Kg1 (40. gxh3? Qxh3+ and black is not worse at all) 40…Qb6! and black is only a little worse!


Both sides were running low on time.  Here white missed two clean wins.

The easiest, as pointed out by IM D. Fernandez, was 39. Rd2!!  Rxd2 40. Qe3+ Kg7 41. Nxd2 and white is completely winning, maintaining the e4 blockade.

The second choice, and very popular in ICC kibitzing (but inferior to Fernandez’s move but it’s harder to work out), was the more complicated 39. b4. After 39…Rd1+ 40. Re1 Rxe1+ 41. Qxe1 e4 it’s time for another interesting quiz.   What’s best here?  Answer to be posted later.

White to Play. Quiz Time (analysis)

White to Play. Quiz Time (analysis)

Position after 41….e4; White to play and win (analysis).  Can you solve it?

39.Nxe5?! White bypasses both of those wins, but as we shall see, this should have been winning too.

39…Bxe5 40.Qxe5 Qxe5 41.Rxe5 Rxb3

Yermolinsky Sets Us Straight

Most ICC kibitzers felt this was totally drawn.  Only GM Yermolinsky was wise enough to enlighten us – see comment to white’s 43rd move.

42.h4! The correct first step to fix the g6 pawn.


Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth


Only GM Yermolinsky recognized this as a blunder.  He laid out a winning plan that is foolproof and brilliant in its simplicity.  In hindsight obvious, but he is the only one that saw it among the gawking multitudes.  Put pawn on c5, he said, and prepare then put pawn on g3, and Rook on g5 holding everything, and move king to queenside.  Indeed, that pins black’s king to g6, and black is helpless against the white king shepherding the c-pawn.  A fantastic, simple in hindsight, and very aesthetic plan!  Black is completely powerless to stop its realization.

Clearly Pasalic missed it, but so did most of the ICC kibitzers.

43…Rc2 44.Rc7 Rd2 45.Kh2 Rd4! By bothering white’s kingside pawns, the black rook “latches on” and prevents any further progress. The Scorpions win the match by the narrow 2.5 – 1.5 margin!

46.g3 Rd3 47.c5 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 Rc2 49.Rc8 Kg7 50.Rc6 Kf7 51.Kf1 Kg7 52.Rc8 Kf6 53.c6 Kf5 54.c7 Kg4 55.Rg8 Rxc7 56.Rxg6+ Kf3 57.Kg1 Rc2 58.Rb6 Kxg3 59.Rb3+ Kxh4 60.Rb4+ Kg3 61.Rb3+ Kg4 62.Rb4+ Kg3 63.Rb3+ Kg4 64.Rb4+ Kg3 Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2

Wow!  A great fighting, titantic battle in the best USCL tradition!

Last year, I, too, held a draw in a bad game vs Pasalic to win a CHI-ARZ match.  Chicago must be getting tired of us!

What Else is New?

I’m involved in a fierce smutty movie debate with a female chess player on Facebook. Fear not, gentle reader — our debate is not smutty – only the movie is.

The Classic 2000s: Internet Chess Club (ICC) Blitz Chestnuts

September 13, 2007

The Internet Chess Club is a great place to play strong players.

There are lots to choose from. I usually play in the “5 minute pool” (Game in 5 minutes with no increment). Even in these conditions, interesting and fun games occur all the time.

Here is an example (from 2002) that features a really wild finish. Every day, there are numerous such chestnuts produced on ICC! Most fall by the wayside, unrecorded (except into the ICC automatic database), unnoticed, gone.

GM M. Hebden – IM Aries2 G/5 12/23/02

Nimzovich Defense 1. e4 Nc6 (by transposition)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 Bg4 4. e4 e6 5. h3 Bh5 6. Qe2 Nc6

Weirdly, this can arise from the Nimzovich Defense, 1. e4 Nc6!?

7. g4 Bg6 8. h4 h5 9. g5 Nd7 10. Be3 Nb6 11. O-O-O d5

White has a lot of space and black tries to create a barrier.


12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 c6 14. f4

A scary pawn storm is in the works.


15. Bxb6 axb6 16. f5 exf5 17. exd5 Bb4 18. d6 Qd7 19. Qc4 Bxc3 20. Qxc3 Rxa2

What can one rook do by itself? It needs its companion!

21. Kb1 Ra8 22. Bc4 O-O 23. Qe3 Rae8 24. Rhe1 Kh7 25. Qxb6?! f4!

White is tempted by a loose pawn and black gets to free himself with this advance. This once-blockaded pawn becomes quite a force, distracting white and providing camouflage to set up a hidden mating attack, as strange as that seems right now!


26. Qd4 Qg4 27. Bd3 f3 28. Bxg6+ fxg6 29. Re4 Qf5 30. d7 Rd8 31. e6 f2

In the finest blitz tradition, a crazy race of menacing passed pawns.


32. Rf1 Qh3 33. Qd3 Rf3 34. Qe2 Ra8

In typical blitz fashion, both sides ignore each other. Who is faster? We soon see…

35. Ra4 Rxa4 36. d8=Q Rfa3!!

The companion arrives! Fortunately the extra white queen is irrelevant because the BK is safe enough. Quite a rare and unusual tactic.


37. bxa3

The astute reader is probably wondering what happens on 37. Kc1. Well, the craziness continues! Black can consider 37…Qxf1+ or 37…Ra1+.

Update:  37. Qxh5+!! gxh5 38. g6+! forces a draw – variation by coelecanth!

37…Qxa3 38. Qe5?

38. c3 is necessary try because the text falls into an immediate mate.

Still 38. Qxh5+!


White resigns.


Here is a more recent 5-minute tussle with highly rated GM Dmitry Jakovenko (“coolwizard”) that is somewhat theoretically interesting.

aries2 (IM Ginsburg) – coolwizard (GM Jakovenko) ICC Blitz Game, 1/16/06 Sicilian Najdorf

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5

The world is so full of 6. Be3 these days that this move is actually refreshing.

6…e6 7. f4 Nbd7

A very popular sideline popularized by GM Boris Gelfand. 7…Be7 is the most common move.

8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. Rhe1 Qb6

It looks strange to move this piece again. However, it’s main line theory. Black hits the knight on d4 and follows numerous games, by Gelfand and others.This line is still being tested at the highest levels today.


12. Bxf6!? White was unsuccessful with the unsound 12. Nxe6? fxe6 13. Qh3 e5 and black won without much trouble in Geller-Polugaevsky, Portoroz 1973 Interzonal. 12. Nxe6? was definitely a move I am sure Yefim Geller would have liked to take back in such an important interzonal game. The more sensible, yet passive retreat 12. Nb3 b4 has seen mixed results in practice. Spassky beat Tukmakov as white but on the whole, black seems fine. The text, 12. Bxf6!?, seems unchallenging, giving the two bishops without provocation, but it has its points.

The other main move, 12. Nd5!?, leads to wild play after  12…exd5 13. exd5+ Kd8.  Black can also play 12…Qxd4. Gelfand preferred 12…Qxd4 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. Bxb5 Qc5 and eventually triumphed in Shabalov-Gelfand, Bermuda 2004.


Theory Discovery! 12…gxf6(?) has been seen many times, with black not doing badly, but in none of the games in my “Big” ChessBase database 2005 did white find the correct and rather obvious response 13. Nd5!! TN exd5 14. exd5+ Kd8 15. Bf5! with a huge bind. For example, 15…Nc5 16. Nc6+ Bxc6 17. dxc6 Ra7 18. Qd5 and black is not long for this world. The move 13. Nd5 looks completely winning for white unless a reader spots something for black that I missed?

13. Qh3!?

Of course, the N on d4 is indirectly protected now. This sequence poses some practical problems.

13…Be7 Black has the plausible 13…b4!? here. In all Najdorf lines, the attack b5-b4 must always be calculated. Play can continue 14. Nce2 Nxe4? 15. Bxe4 Bxe4 16. Nxe6 with a big white edge; but 14…e5!? or 14…Qa5!? are possible, in either case with mutual chances. Also very interesting and completely different is 13….O-O-O!? with decent chances, scoring 50% in 2 example games in the “Big” database. The wild and bad sacrifice 14. Nxe6? fxe6 15. Qxe6+ Kb8 16. e5 Bc8 simply failed (black won easily) in Szalanczy-Lazic, Balatonbereny 1986, and the more sedate 14. Bf1!? triumphed for white eventually in Arlt-Meyer, Muenster 1987 (but black of course is fine in this position).

Jakovenko’s text move is fine too.

14. e5! dxe5 15. fxe5 Nd7 More reliable is the more centralizing 15…Nd5 16. Ne4 b4!? but the text isn’t bad.

16. Be4!?

A dangerous maneuver which we will see again in the anti-Hedgehog article coming soon.


A blitz blunder. Here, black had to play 16…Bxe4 17. Nxe4 Rd8! (not 17…Nxe5 18. Qg3) with an acceptable game.

17. Nxe6! A common tactical motif which is quite decisive here.

17…Qxe6 The nice pendulum variation 17…fxe6 18. Qh5+ Kf8 19. Qf3+ Kg8 20. Bxb7 wins for white.

18. Bxb7 18. Qxe6 and then 19. Bxb7 is an easy win too.

18…Qxh3 19. gxh3 and white won the ending easily.


To keep things fresh, here’s a barn burner played 9/16/07 vs Norwegian GM Simen Agdestein (Gruk on ICC).

Gruk – Aries2 ICC 5-min Blitz, 2007

Bogo-Indian, Smyslov 4…a5

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 a5 5. g3 d6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5! Students should refer to Wilder-Smyslov, New York 1987, 0-1, for a good example of this line. The entire variation is under-rated; black gets a lot of piece activity.

8. Bc1!? A reasonable way to redeploy the B on b2. However, black can meet it adequately. Wilder played 8. Bg5 and got very little after 8….exd4 9. Nxd4 h6 10. Bf4.

8…exd4 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. b3 Re8 11. Bb2 Ne5 12. Qc2 c6 13. a3 Bc5 14. Rd1 Bg4! Black has active piece play to compensate for white’s greater center.

15. h3 Bh5 16. Nc3 Bg6 17. e4 Ned7 18. f4?! White is asking a little too much here.

18…d5?! Not best. Correct is 18… Qe7! 19. f5 Bh5 20. g4 Bxg4 21.hxg4 Nxg4 22. Qe2 Qh4 23. Na4 Ba7 24. Rd3 Qh2+ 25. Kf1 Ndf6! with tremendous pressure, e.g. 26. Bf3 Qh4 27. Bc3 Rxe4 28. Bxe4 Nxe4 29. Qg2 Nh2+ 30. Kg1 (30. Ke2 Re8 31. Kd1 Nxc3+ 32. Nxc3 Bxd4 and wins) 30… Nxc3 31. c5 Nxa4 and wins.

19. f5 Bh5 20. g4 Nxg4 21. hxg4 Bxg4 22. cxd5 Qg5?! Better is 22… Bxd1 23. Rxd1 Qg5 24. dxc6 bxc6 25. Na4 Ba7 26. Qd2 Qh4 with only a very small disadvantage.

23. Na4 Ba7 24. dxc6 (24. Qd2 Qh5 transposes)

24… bxc6 25. Qd2 Qh5 26. Rf1 Rad8 27. b4 Here, the optically good 27. Qxa5 only draws – it’s met by 27…Bb8! 28. Rf2 Bg3 29. Rd2 Qh2+ 30. Kf1 Nf6 31. Nc5 Bh3 32. Bxh3 Qxh3+ 33. Rg2 Qh1+ 34. Rg1 Qh3+ 35. Ke2? (It’s wrong to avoid the perpetual; 35. Rg2 of course draws) 35… Nxe4 and wins.

27… Ne5 28. Nc5 Nc4 29. Qc3 Bb8 30. Rf2?

This was a chance for white to stand better. If the correct defense 30. Nf3!, black can continue his attack with 30…Nxb2 31. Qxb2 Bf4 32. Qf2 Rd2 33. Qh4? (Correct is to sac the queen with some edge, 33. Qxd2! Bxd2 34. Nxd2 Qg5 35. Rf2 Qe3 36. Rb1 axb4 37. axb4 Rd8 38. Nc4 Qd4 39. Na5 but this is of course very hard to find in blitz) 33… Rxg2+ 34. Kxg2 Bxf3+ 35. Rxf3 Qxh4 and wins). It’s still hard in all these lines to play white in blitz; black has a lot of activity.

30… Nxb2 31. Rxb2 Be5! Now the tables are turned. Black has a crushing initiative.

32. Rd2 Qh2+ 33. Kf1 Qf4+ 34. Ke1 Bf6! Another nice diagonal switch. Black is completely winning now.

35. Rf2 Bh4 Strong also is 35… Qh2 36. Bf3 Bh4 37.Qe3 Bxf3 38. Nxf3 Qh1+ 39. Ke2 Qxa1 with a mop-up.

36. Raa2 Rxd4! This deflection sac is decisive; black has 50 seconds left, and white only 10.

37. Qxd4 Rd8?? Excited, black misses mate in two: 37… Qc1+ 38. Qd1 Qxd1 mate.

38. Qc3 White with no time left does not spot the deflection 38. Qxd8!+ Bxd8 39. Rxf4! which would be a sad turn events indeed for black.

38… Rd1 mate


It’s funny how this line often leads to ultra-sharp play. Black keeps his active dark square bishop and gives white “everything” in return – a mobile pawn center. Sacrifices are often needed, as occurred in the game, just to live.

The Fabulous 70s Part 5: The Meyer Brothers

June 27, 2007

Sicilian Najdorf, 6. Bg5

NM J. Meyer (2281) “Capablanca Champions” vs Mark Ginsburg (2212) “OTB Gang”

DC Chess League August 5, 1977

National Master John Meyer is the brother of Eugene Meyer who went on to become an IM and even score a GM norm in a CCA tournament in New York in the early 1980s. My battles vs Eugene in a Kan theme match (we both played the Kan so we alternated colors) paved the way for my 1979 win over GM Dzindzihashvili; more about that in another installment. The Meyer brothers were quite active tournament players in the DC area. John wore suspenders quite a bit and his pet Colle line (involving Bc4 and Bf4) became affectionately known as the Suspenders Attack.

1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nbd7



I was winging it here. It’s funny because many years later I would introduce a novelty on the White side in this line to defeat GM Dmitry Jakovenko in an ICC blitz game. More on that in the “Fabulous 2000’s” installment.

8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Be7 Transposing to another line. In this particular move order, 9…b5! is the critical move here. GM Boris Gelfand has championed that line for several decades. For example, 10. Bxb5!? axb5 11. Ndxb5 Qb8 12. e5 Bb7 with insane complications, Naiditsch-Gelfand Sparkassen 2006 (1/2, 27).

10. Be2 b5 11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. a3

This slow treatment is unlikely to cause Black any problems. However, black lives after 12. e5 Bb7 13. Qg3 dxe5 14. fxe5 Nd7 15. Qxg7 Qxe5 with an equal game.

12…Bb7 13. g4?! 13. Qg3 looks stronger. 13…Rc8 14. Rd2 14. g5 Nxe4! 15. Nxe4 e5! 16. Rhe1 d5! leads to an incredible position where after 17. Nd6+ the chances are about level.

14…Qb6 15. Bd3 O-O 16. Nce2 d5 17. e5 Ne4 18. Bxe4 dxe4 19. Qe3



19…f6?! The obvious 19…b4! here builds black’s attack most efficiently.

20. exf6 Rxf6 21. Rhd1 Qc5? Can you guess the right move? 21…b4! generates a big attack. It must have been my unfamiliarity with the Najdorf that caused me to keep missing this.

22. g5 Rf7 23. Qh3 e5 24. Nf5 Bf8 24…exf4 was fine too.

25. fxe5 Qxe5 26. Ned4? 26. g6! is about equal. 26…Rc4? 26…b4! is obvious.

27. Ne3 Rcc7 28. Kb1?! Again, 28. g6!? keeps it level. 28…Bc8 29. Qg2 b4 30. axb4 Bxb4 31. c3 Bf8 32. h4 a5 White’s slow play allows black to start a new attack.

33. h5 g6


The game is still approximately equal. Since move 50 is the time control, naturally there is a lot of drama ahead.

34. hxg6 hxg6 35. Rh1 Rh7 36. Rxh7 Rxh7 37. Nc6 Qe8 38. Nxa5 Rh5? Here, 38..Bh3! was correct. For example, 39. Qg3 Be6! with excellent play. White can also try the tricky 38…Bh3 39. Ng4!? Bxg2 40. Nf6+ Kf7 41. Nxe8 Bf3 with dynamic play.

39. Nd5 Bg7 40. Nc6 Kh7


41. Ncb4? A miscue. 41. Nce7! is hard to handle, e.g. 41…e3 42. Re2 Qa4 43. Nxe3 with a big white edge.

41… Qe5 Now the chances are level again in this see-saw game.

42. Nf6+?! 42. Nc6!? is more circumspect.

42…Bxf6 43. gxf6 e3! 44. Re2 Bf5+ Now black has a strong attack.

45. Kc1? Superior is the cold-blooded and only optically dangerous 45. Ka2! Qa5+ 46. Kb3 Be6+ and now surprisingly 47. c4 holds; 47…Bxc4+ 48. Kxc4 Rh4+ 49. Qd3 Qf5+ 50. Kxe3 leads to an equal game as does 49…Qxb4 50. Qd5.

45…Be4 46. Nd3? White must have been tired in this 50 move in 2 hour game; he had 8 minutes left at this point.

White has chances to survive if he plays 46. f7! Bxg2? 47. f8=Q Rh1+ 48. Kc2 and now 48…Bd5, hoping for 49. Nxd5?? Qe4+ winning can be met by 49. Nd3 and white can defend. It’s not clear where 48…Be4+ 49. Kb3 leads either. The winning move would be 46. f7! Kg7! simply halting the pawn with the king.

46…Qf5 Played with only one minute left to reach move 50, but now black simply wins a piece. Of course, Black could also play 46…Bxd3 straightaway since 47. Qb7+ Kh6 wins.

47. Qg3 Bxd3 48. Rxe3 Bb5 Fortunately black’s king can run safely after white’s next few checks.

49. Qc7+ Kh6 50. Qg7+ Kg5


Black’s king has a safe haven on h4 so the battle is over.

51. Rg3+ Kh4 52. Qxg6 Qf4+ Picking up the loose rook.



A pretty good positional accomplishment for an 18 year old with some tactical weaknesses here and there.


Now let’s switch to a 1977 game with Eugene Meyer.


Mark Ginsburg (2212) – Eugene Meyer (2374)

Easter Chess Congress, George Washington University, Washington DC.

Round 3, 40/100

Delayed Benko Gambit

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 Nf6 4. e4 O-O 5. Bg5 d6 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. Qd2 c5 8. d5 a6 9. Nf3 Qa5?! Interesting here is 9… Ng4 10. h3 Nge5. The text aims for a dubious Benko gambit delayed.

10. O-O b5 11. cxb5 axb5 12. Bxb5 Ba6 13. Bxa6 Rxa6 Black doesn’t have enough here because white’s development is not hampered as in the regular Benko.

14. Rfe1 Rb8 Black couldn’t avoid white’s next thematic breakthrough.

15. e5! dxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Rxe5 Rab6?! 17…Qc7 is a little tougher.

18. Rxe7 Rxb2 19. Qe1 Rc2 20. Rxf7?? For no reason, white goes for a drawing combination. Too much respect for his opponent? The simple 20. Rc1! Rxc1 21. Qxc1 Nh5 22. g4! Bxc3 23. gxh5 Qb4 24. Qf4! will win in the ending. I probably did not notice the 22. g4! resource. On the other hand, the tricky 20. Bf4?! hoping for 20…Rbb2?? 21. Re8!+ and wins, is instead met by 20…Rf8 21. Be5 Qd8! with some counterplay.

20… Qxc3 21. Rxg7+ Kxg7 22. Qe7+ Kg8 23. Qe6+ 1/2-1/2

A fairly bad bungle in a not very difficult position. Replay this game.

The Fabulous 70s, Part 3: World Opens

June 24, 2007

No chess year was complete without participation in the sprawling madcap World Open. Some years it was in downtown Philly, other years it was out at the rather unpleasant featureless suburban landscape of the Adam’s Mark hotel at the intersection of I-95 and Route 1. That hotel is no more (good riddance! – the eating choices were dismal and the elevators slow and creaky).

Let’s start with a theoretically interesting game from the 1977 World Open edition.

Ruy Lopez 3….g6

M. Ginsburg – Olte (2026)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6!? This move is better than it looks and has been used by GM Smyslov numerous times with good results.


If white reacts slowly, black gets good development and also a good chance for a later initiative.

4. d4 exd4 5. Bg5!? TN A TN only because I was flying blind. It has been played in many games, notably Van der Wiel-Ree 1983 (1-0), Lobron-Iskov, 1983 (1-0), Diez del Corral-Lombardy, 1975 (1-0). Of course, black had his say in Valvo-Biyiasis, 1977 (0-1), Kupreichik-Malaniuk, 1987 (0-1). My idea was simple. Very rapid development and (after a trade of bishops) to exploit the dark squares weaknesses created with ….g6 in the vicinity of black’s king.

Many years later, in the Khalifman book Openings for White according to Anand 1. e4 Volume 1, 2003 he has the same idea but does it a little differently. He recommends 5 .c3!? (I play this later) 5…dxc3 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Bg5 and now the best move for black is …f6 preserving his bishop. White retains excellent compensation for the pawn. You will notice many similarities between Khalifman’s line and my move order.

5…Be7 Played in the majority of the above-referenced games. 5…f6?! looks quite ugly and indeed Van der Wiel dispatched Ree in the aforementioned game after 5…f6?! 6. Bh4. Computer engines prefer 6. Bf4 but in any case, 5…f6 is fairly disgusting. After the computer-preferred 6. Bf4 Bg7 7. O-O Nge7 8. Nxd4! is correct with a solid white plus. A historical footnote: Cleghorn-Bisguier, 1976, went 8. Re1 O-O 9. Nxd4 f5? 10. e5 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 d5 12. Bg5 Be6 13. Qh4 Rf7 14. Nd2 c5 15. Nf3 Qf8 and now white fumbled with 16. c3? and even went on to lose. However, 16. Be3! (a crushing retreat) threatens the c-pawn and Nf3-g5 simultaneously and wins on the spot. Poor Cleghorn.

6. Bxe7 Qxe7 6…Ngxe7!? is how Kupreichik-Malaniuk went. Its continuation is interesting: 7. Nxd4 d5!? (is Black asking too much here?) 8. Nc3 dxe4 9. Bxc6 = and here, 9. Nxe4 also looks equal after 9…O-O 10. Nxc6 Nxc6 11. O-O Bf5 12. Bxc6 Qxd1 13. Raxd1 Rd8. Another example is 11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. O-O Bf5 13. Ng3 Qxd1 14. Rfxd1 Be6 15. b3 a5 and white kept a tiny plus but could not convert in Khalifman-Malaniuk, Minsk 1987, 1/2 [27]. In that position, white played 16. a4?! Rfd8 but could have tried the more aggressive 16. Ne4!? Bf5 17. Rd4! with some chances. In practice, many draws have resulted from the 6…Ngxe7 line but it doesn’t look like a lot of fun since a small miscue can result in the doubled pawns hurting.

7. O-O! Much more testing than the lame 7. Bxc6 which has been played quite a bit.

7… Qc5? 7…Qb4? is similar and also bad. The only move of any theoretical worth is 7…Nf6! to maintain development and play is very double-edged. I think white still has good compensation with hopes of exploiting the dark square holes in the middlegame.

8. Ba4 Nge7 9. c3! Getting to the crux of the matter. Black will really miss the absence of his dark-squared bishop now.


This position is really depressing for black. White has won the opening argument.

9…dxc3 10. Nxc3 O-O 11. Rc1 f6? Black had to play 11…Qa5, wasting further time, and after 12. Qd2 white has more than enough for the pawn and will probably succeed with direct attack.

12. Qd2?! Already, 12. Nb5 won: 12…Qb6 13. Nd2! A hard move to spot! 13…Rb8 14. Nc4 Qc5 15. Nxc7 with utter ruination.

12…a6? 12…Kg7 was necessary to keep dark squares under control.

13. Qh6 A thematic invasion. Now white has an obviously winning position. 13…d5 14. Bb3 Qd6 15. exd5 Na5 16. Ne4 Nf5 17. Nxd6! The only way to mess this up would be to the play the move I had originally written on my scoresheet, 17. Qd2? Nxb3 18. axb3 Qd8 and black can play on.

17…Nxh6 18. Rxc7 Nxb3 19. axb3 The rest is a mop-up.


19….Bf5 20. Nxb7 Be4 21. Rd1 Rf7 22. d6! Bxb7 23. d7! This temporary ‘piece sacrifice’ is just a small tactic to accelerate the win.

23….Rff8 24. Rxb7 Rfd8 25. Nd4 Rab8 26. Rxb8 Rxb8 27. Nc6


A very clean win to start the tournament nd a harbinger I was in good form. I would go on to score 4.5 out of the first 5 and tie for the tournament lead! Let’s see some more games from this event.

Sicilian Najdorf, Sozin Variation 6. Bc4

NM M. Ginsburg – NM Leslie Braun World Open 1977

My opponent was a well-known personality at the Marshall Chess Club! One time,as the day manager Leslie kicked out a very young Maxim Dlugy for excessive rambunctiousness. I must admit I was contributing to the ruckus. Leslie picked Max up by the collar and out he went. Unfortunately, when Leslie died, nobody claimed his body for a while – no relatives could be located. IM Walter Shipman saved the day and made the necessary arrangements. It was hard to believe such a popular guy would end up in such anonymity.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4!? One of the sharpest treatments, and a favorite of WC Bobby Fischer. Recently a crushing white victory and attacking masterpiece in this line, Christiansen-Wojtkiewicz, was one of the best games at the US Championship 2006.

6…e6 7. Bb3 b5


8. f4 The Christiansen game saw the surprising and ultra-sharp 8. Qf3!?

8…Qc7 9. O-O Be7 10. f5 e5 White is playing very directly. But is it any good?

11. Nde2 Bb7 12. Ng3 Nbd7 13. Bg5 Nb6 14. Nh5


14…Nxh5 15 Bxf7+!? An interesting attack and actually the only point of white’s setup. Black has to be careful now.

16. Qxh5+ Kg8 17. f6 gxf6?? Black absolutely had to play 17…Bxf6! here to involve the queen laterally in the defense. There would follow 18. Rxf6! (only move) and now it’s just a draw: 18…gxf6 (weirdly, 18…b4 is possible but not offering any special advantages; 18…b4 19. Raf1! gxf6 20. Bxf6 Qf7 with an identical draw after 21. Qg4+ as in the following line) 19. Bxf6 Qf7! 20. Qg4+ Qg6 21. Qe6+ with a clear-cut perpetual check. The text leads to quick, unmitigated, disaster.

18. Rf3! Nothing can rescue Black now. White threatens Bh6 and Rg3+ and black is defenseless.
18…h6 He could have resigned instead of playing this move. 19. Qg6+ Kf8 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Rxf6+ Ke7 22. Qg7+ 1-0.


The position turned into a massacre of the black forces.

Here’s another nice game from the same event. Numbers in square brackets are minutes elapsed. Note I had broken through the barrier of 2200 (master) in this event.

IM Lawrence Day (Canada, 2313) vs Mark Ginsburg (2212)
World Open, Philadephia, PA 1977 Round 5 40/110

1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. d3 e5 7. c3 Nge7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 b6


10. Be3

Lawrence is famous for unorthodox openings, but in this game he takes things a little too casually and I get the chance to build up some initiative.

10…h6 11. Ne1 Be6 12. Nc2?! Here, 12. Qc1!? Kh7 13. Nd2 is interesting.

12… Rc8 13. bxc5? It’s just bad to open the d-file. 13. b5? Na5 is not good either, so white would have done better to just develop with 13. Qd2 or lash out with 13. f4.

13…dxc5 14. c4 f5 15. Nc3 f4


An exceedingly bad position for White after only a few moves. Nevertheless, I make inaccuracies soon and so does my opponent that makes the game a see-saw affair.

16. Bc1 Qd7 17. Nd5 [66] g5?! [35] 17…Bh3! is correct: 18. f3 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Nd8! with the idea of Ne6 and Nd4 and black keeps pressure.

18. Rb1 Bh3 19. f3 h5 Black’s edge has disappeared to almost nothing.

20. Bb2 Rf7 21. Rf2 Nxd5 22. cxd5 Ne7? A blunder. Correct is 22…fxg3! 23. hxg3 Nd4! with good play.

23. Bxh3 Not bad, but strong was 23. gxf4! exf4 24. d4! with an edge. Black can’t take back with the g-pawn: 23…gxf4?? 24. Qf1! wins: 24…Bxg2 25. Rxg2 Kh7 26. Rg5 with a decisive initiative.

23… Qxh3 24. Qf1? Very bad. 24. gxf4! again has the exact same ideas as the prior note.

24…Qd7? This is more incomprehensible than white’s blunder. 24…Qxf1+ was obvious and leads to an equal game after 25. Kxf1.

25. gxf4 exf4 26. Bxg7 26. d4 is still strong. 26…Rxg7 27. Kh1 27. Rg2 looks more active here with a significant white edge.

27…Ng6 28. Qe2 White has wasted too much time. He once again had the central break 28. d4 but then Black has 28…g4 with counterplay.

28…g4 Now chances are about equal again.

29. Rg1 [88] Ne5 [74]


A very sharp position.

30. fxg4 f3 The only way. The position stays in balance.

31. Rxf3? 31. Qd2!? was a good alternative. The problem with the text is that Black now has a bunch of easy moves to find.

31…Nxf3 32. Qxf3 Rf8 An obvious move improving black’s game.

33. Qe2 Rxg4


34. Ne3? In this position, it was imperative to retain the rook with 34. Rd1 or 34. Re1. White could then put up serious, and possibly successful, resistance with Nc2-e3 coming up. The text leads to total disaster.

34…Rxg1+ 35. Kxg1 Qg7+ 36. Kh1 Qe5! This natural centralizing move puts black in complete control.

37. a4 [104] Kh7 The foxy 37…Rf7! is strong here.

38. Nc4 Qg5 [88] 39. e5? [108] White had to hang tight with 39. Ne3 and make black work for the point.

39…Qc1+? Even with plenty of time left, black fails to observe the obvious 39…Rg8! cutting off the white king. Then, 40. Qf1 a6! (threatening b5) 41. Nxb6 Qxe5 wins easily.

40. Kg2 Qg5+ 41. Kh1 41. Kh3?? Rf4! is instant suicide.

41…h4! Whew. Black finds a good move and is back on track again. If he had kept wasting time and fooling around, the white center pawns would become very dangerous.


42. Qe4+ On 42. h3 , black can win in several ways. One way is 42…Qg3! 43. Qh5+ Kg7 44. Qg4+ Qxg4 45. hxg4 Rf3! wins.

42…Kh8 43. Ne3 Rg8 Here, 43…Rf4 was faster: 44. Qg2 Qxe5 and wins.

White resigned, but he could have played on a little with 44. Ng2. The game continues 44…h3 45. Qh4+ Qxh4 46. Nxh4 Rg4 47. Nf3 Rf4 48. Ng1 Rf5 and black wins a prosaic ending.



After this game, I had the glorious score of 4.5/5. I would soon crash to earth, though, at the hands of iron-man technician GM Anatoly Lein, a recent immigrant from the USSR.

Mark Ginsburg vs GM Anatoly Lein (2507)
World Open, Philadelphia, PA 1977 Round 6 King’s Indian Attack, 40/110.

In case you were wondering, back then USCF ratings were seriously deflated. 2507 made Lein one of the top dogs. He and also recently arrived immigrant GM Leonid Shamkovich were tearing up the US Swiss System circuit.

1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6 3. Nf3 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. d3 O-O 6. Nbd2 a5!? [11] 7. e4 a4

A very deep and mystifying series of pawn moves from the seasoned Grandmaster. It makes sense, though, for black to play on the side where he is stronger. The chances are about level.

8. a3 Nc6 9. e5 Nd7 10. Re1 b5 11. Nf1 Na5 12. Nd4 c6


13. f4 13. Qg4 Kh8 leads nowhere. The text doesn’t offer very much either.

13…Qb6 14. Be3 c5 15. Nf3 Nb8 16. g4 16. d4!? is interesting here.

16…Nbc6 17. Ng3 [47] f6 18. Qe2 fxe5 19. fxe5 Bd7 [67] 20. h4 b4 Now black is slightly on top.


21. Kh2? 21. h5 is correct although it must be admitted that after 21…bxa3 22. bxa3 Nd4 or 21…h6 white is only playing for equal chances.

21…Nd4! Oops. Black is now well on top.

22. Nxd4 cxd4 23. Bg5 Bxg5 24. hxg5 b3 25. Rac1 bxc2 26. Rxc2 Qd8! Quite convincing. The g5 pawn cannot be protected.

27. Nf5 White takes his chances in a speculative venture; 27. g6? hxg6 is quite bad.

27…Qxg5 28. Bxd5

At the time, I remember thinking that this might work. Hope chess doesn’t usually work! At some point during this sharp play Anatoly made a huge commotion about the noise and the lighting, and the TDs re-seated us in some other area of the ballroom. Being young, I was not nonplussed by the strange ‘adjournment’.

28…Qf4+ 29. Kh3 exd5 30. e6 Rxf5 31. exd7 Rff8 32. Qe8 Rd8 33. Rc8 Nb7


Look at this sad tableau. i have a passer on the seventh, supported by two heavies on the eighth, and there is absolutely nothing else I can undertake. Black wins by slow attrition.

34. Re7 [100] g5! [105] The win is now ironclad.

35. Re5 Qf3+ 36. Kh2 Qf2+ 37. Kh3 Qh4+ 38. Kg2 Qxg4+ 39. Kh2 Qf4+ 40. Kh1 Qf6 41. Re6 Qf1+ 42. Kh2 Qf7 43. Re5 Qf4+ 44. Kh1 g4 The black g-pawn creeps inexorably up and the white king is doomed.

45. Qe6+ Kh8 46. Qe8 Qf1+ 47. Kh2 Qf2+ 48. Kh1 g3 49. Qxf8+ Qxf8 50. Re8 Kg7 51. Rxf8 Kxf8 52. Rc7 Nd6 53. Rc5 Ke7 54. Rxd5 Ke6 55. Rxd4 Rxd7 56. Rxa4 Nf5 57. Re4+ Kf6 58. a4 Rxd3 59. Re1 Rd2 60. b4 Nh4

At this point, any good chess engine announces mate in 5.

61. Rf1+ Kg5 62. Kg1 Rg2+ 63. Kh1 Rf2 64. Rg1 Rh2#


And I fall back into the World Open masses.


For a little bit of humor, here is a scrappy effort by young IM-to-be Jon Schroer!


Mark Ginsburg (2212) – Jon Schroer (1808), Round 4.

Sicilian, 3. Bb5+

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Already at a young age Jon had a reputation of being a theoretician. 3. Bb5+ is a fairly safe way to avoid the sharp lines.

3…Nc6 These days, I prefer 3…Bd7. Believe it or not, that led to a tactical win for me (playing black) vs a NM in the US Open 2005. I will talk about that game in the Fabulous 00s.

4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 a6 6. Bf1 Nf6 7. c3 e5 8. h3 Be7 9. d4 Looks good for white, but appearances are deceiving: white is wasting a lot of time on little pawn moves to construct this center.

9…O-O 10. a4


9…Qc7 The weird 10…cxd4 11. cxd4 Qb6!? or even 11…d5!? comes into consideration, in both cases with a level game. The text is fine too.

11. Na3 h6?! 11….cxd4 12. cxd4 Rac8 with an equal game was correct.

12. Nc4?! Here, 12. d5! is correct with a plus. Since 12…Na5?? 13. b4! is unplayable, the knight has to go somewhere strange like a7 or d8.

12…b5? [21] The series of mistakes continues. 12…exd4! 13. cxd4 d5! is a very concrete way to play that solves all of black’s problems. However, this ‘unnatural’ move sequence is not easy to find especially for inexperienced players.

13. Ne3 cxd4 14. Nd5! [48] A very strong zwischenzug, possibly overlooked by black. Now white has a lasting edge.

14…Qb7 [43] 15. cxd4 Rfe8? Necessary was 15…Nxd5 16. exd5 Nb4 with a poor game.

16. axb5 This position is winning for white.

16…axb5 17. Rxa8 Rxa8 18. Nxe7+ To give you an idea how good white’s position is, there are two wins here. First of all, the straightforward 18. dxe5 does the trick. If 18…Nxd5 19. exd6! Nf6 20. dxe7 Nxe7 21. Nd4 with a decisive edge. The text is also winning.

18…Nxe7 19. dxe5 Nxe4


20. Qd4?? What the heck is this? The simple 20. exd6 leaves black suffering but even stronger is the crushing 20. Rxe4! Qxe4 21. Qxd6 forking black’s pieces. Black loses after, for example, 21…Bxh3 22. Qxe7 Bg4 23. Be3 Bxf3 24. gxf3 Qxf3 25. Qd7 b4 26. Qh3. This blow was rather elementary (as was 20. exd6) and the move played was quite abysmal. The other moral of the story is, beat them young because when they get older, it gets a lot tougher! That is the lesson I learned from Max Dlugy, Schroer, Ilya Gurevich and a whole host of other young fry.

20…Bc6! Of course. To highlight how weak white’s last move was, black also had 20…d5 and even 20…Ra4.

21. Nh4 dxe5 22. Qxe5 Re8 Black quite legitimately offers a draw.

23. Bxb5? I play on with this really bad move.

23…Ng6! After white’s series of horrific blunders, black is well on top.

24. Bxc6 Qxc6 25. Nxg6 White now has nothing better than this pathetic ‘queen sacrifice’.

25…Rxe5 26. Nxe5 Qc2 27. Rf1 Nd2? The fairly obvious 27…Nxf2! wins for black. 28. Be3 Nd1 29. Bd4 f6 is lights out.

28. Re1 Ne4 Mercifully, before I can do anything more wrong, the game was agreed drawn.



Here is a photo of young Schroer taken about 3 1/2 years after this game was played. (Dec. 1981) (he’s standing on the left next to the author).