Archive for the ‘Scheveningen’ Category

The Fabulous 10s: Learning Tactics via ICC Blitz

June 19, 2011

Here are three very interesting 5 minute games I contested recently on ICC.

Use them as tactical training devices.

Game 1.

Impitoyable (Unforgiven) vs Aries2  Game/5  Keres Attack

Here’s more information about the Frenchman Impitoyable from his ICC finger notes:

Information about Impitoyable (Last disconnected Sun Jun 19 2011 15:10):

              rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Wild            2206  [1]   645   143    31   819   2301 (03-Jan-2011)
Loser’s         2037  [4]  1360   529    55  1944   2232 (10-Jul-2008)
Bughouse        1915  [6]    23    15     0    38   2011 (30-Nov-2006)
Crazyhouse      2244  [6]   863   307     0  1170   2307 (16-Feb-2008)
Bullet          2516  [8]  1229   543    83  1855   2706 (27-May-2008)
Blitz           3091  [8]   750   459   133  1342   3175 (29-Sep-2009)
Standard        2657  [6]   184    29    12   225   2682 (19-Nov-2010)
5-minute        2614       1237   445   181  1863   2726 (14-Oct-2009)
1-minute        2570  [8]  1493   945   121  2559   2570 (27-Jun-2010)
15-minute       2475         89     5     2    96   2475 (19-Jun-2011)
3-minute        2356        433   183    56   672   2519 (17-Apr-2011)
45-minute       1692  [4]     1     0     0     1                      
Chess960        2093        457   130    31   618   2213 (14-Jul-2010)

 1: “Impitoyable” : french title for the film “Unforgiven”, by and with C.
  Eastwood (and G. Hackman, R. Harris, M. Freeman …) ; but “impitoyable”
  means rather “pityless” or “mercyless” ; I will nevertheless accept takebacks
  for obvious mouseslips and ask for them … only in that case of course.
 2: International Master since 1996 ; maths teacher since 2001.
 3: Can you queen your f-pawn as early as move 18 playing black ? See my
  liblist, game Index 4 !
 4: You may improve your play in knights endings by analysing my defeat versus
  Vidocq, game numbre 16.
 5: You don’t get a chance each day to play as Morphy did at the Sevilla Opera.
  Egor Geroev-2 had this chance, see my  lybrary game number 18 (after 15 …
  Qxb5 16 Nc7+! ; Rxc7 17 Rd8 it’s exactly the same mate !)

He has a very good score against me overall.  I was looking to improve my statistics by following an obscure recommendation of Kasparov and Nikitin versus the popular Keres Attack.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Be3 Be7 9. h4 O-O 10. Qd2

Often times white likes to put his queen out on the aggressive h5 square.  Then, black can follow the same plan as in the game!

10…Nxd4  Part of a sequence that gives black freedom of movement.

11. Qxd4 e5 12. Qd1 Nb6!?

The interesting proposal of Kasparov and Nikitin from an ancient book on the Scheveningen.   White can opt to eat this horse with Be3xb6 to gain control of d5 but that move is definitely not on most attacking players’ radar screens.  They just want to give mate.

13. g6?!  This has to be too soon.

13…hxg6 14. h5 g5 15. Qf3 g4 16. Qg3 Be6 17. O-O-O Rc8 18. Be2 Rxc3! 19. bxc3

Black to play. Who's winning?

19…d5 20. Bxg4 Ba3+ 21. Kd2 Nc4+ 22. Ke2 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Qc8 24. Rhg1 Qxc3 25. Bxe6 Qxc2+ 26. Rd2 Qc4+ 27. Kd1 Qa4+ 28. Rc2 {Black resigns} 1-0

Why do I award black’s 18th move an exclamation point and then go on to lose in short order?  That’s the puzzle for you – identify the beautiful missed black win!  Immediately after the game I had the feeling I had blown a promising position but I didn’t know how promising until I checked with Rybka 4.  Embarrassing, black was totally winning!

Game 2

Let’s follow this embarrassing blown win with another embarrassing blown win, shall we?  This time we are dominating and crushing Logofet.

Some more information about Logofet:

Information about Logofet (Last disconnected Sun Jun 19 2011 12:08):

              rating [need] win  loss  draw total   best
Crazyhouse      1798  [6]     0     2     0     2                      
Bullet          2252  [8]   155   203    30   388   2433 (30-Jan-2006)
Blitz           2749       1404  1703   342  3449   3022 (21-Mar-2008)
Standard        2637  [6]     4     2     0     6                      
5-minute        2588       2563  1459   410  4432   2624 (30-Mar-2009)
1-minute        2250       4538  3640   525  8703   2508 (21-Aug-2009)
15-minute       1953  [4]     3     0     0     3                      
3-minute        1873  [8]     1     0     0     1         

I seem to remember that Logofet is GM Alex Lenderman.  Let’s see the game.

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Bd3 e6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Qe2 Nbd7 10. b3 O-O 11. Bb2

I love this attacking set up vs. the Hedgehog.  GM Nunn extolled its virtues way back in the early 1980s in a Philips & Drew tournament book.

I always show campers a forced win I missed vs GM Yudasin as well as a one-sided win over Teddy Coleman in the exact same line.  White’s pieces are all supremely active and pointed at black’s king.

Nc5 12. Bc2 Rc8 13. Rad1 Qc7 14. f4 a6 15. Rf3! g6 16. Rh3 Rfe8

It’s time to act and roll up Logofet.

17. e5! dxe5 18. fxe5 Nfd7 19. b4! Qxe5

19...Qxe5 Black's last gasp, or is it?

A forced sacrifice.  Dismal, but true.   Now I go nuts and hand my hand on a silver platter.

20. bxc5 Bxc5 21. Qxe5 Nxe5 22. Ne4 Nxc4 23. Nf6+ Kf8 24. Ba1 Red8 25. Rf1 Rxd4 26.
Bxd4 Bxd4+ 27. Kh1 Bxf6 28. Rxf6 Kg7 29. Rf2 Bd5 {White forfeits on time}

Challenge for the readers – point out the several wins I missed.  As a bonus, point out the easiest and most crushing of all the missed wins.

Game 3

Lest we get the impression I am always blowing winning positions, here is one where a nice tactic emerged and I also got the point.

FM Drunkenight – IM Aries2   Benoni

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 g6 4. d4 Bg7 5. e4 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. O-O Bg4 8. d5 a6 9. Be3 Nbd7 10. Nd2 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Qc7 12. Kh1 Rae8 13. f4 e6

This basic setup with a-rook on e8 I got from some obscure Spassky games dating back to the 1960s.

14. Rae1 exd5 15. exd5 Qb6 16. b3 Qb4 17. Ncb1 Ne4 18. Qd3 Ndf6 19. f5 Nxd2 20. Bxd2 Qb6 21. Nc3 Ng4 22. Ne4 Qd8 23. Bg5

Time to Strike

23…Rxe4!  A comprehensive refutation of white’s pin operation.

24. Bxd8 Rxe1 25. Bh4 Ne5!

Coup de Grace

This was a very pleasing move to play at the end of the combination!  A very unusual overloading where white’s queen cannot stay in touch with the rook.  Of course, White can resign now.  He played on, since it is blitz.

26. Rxe1 Nxd3 27. Re7 gxf5 28. Rxb7 Nc1 29. Rb6 Nxa2 30. Rxd6 Nb4 31. Rd7 Be5 32. Be7 Rc8 33. d6 Nc6 34. Rb7 Nxe7 35. dxe7 Re8 36. Ra7 Kg7 37. Rxa6 Rxe7 38. Rc6 Bd4 39. g3 Rb7 40. Kg2 Rxb3 41. Kh3 Rc3 42. Rc7 Rxc4 43. Rd7 Bf6 44. Rd6 Rd4
45. Rc6 c4 46. Rc7 Re4 47. Rc8 c3 48. Rc6 Re2 49. Rc5 c2 50. Rc4 Bb2
{White resigns}

Good times!  Well in Game 3.  Not in Games 1 or 2.

Shindig Chess

On June 14, an online tournament was held.  These GM players won in a five-round game/15 event:

Robert Hess 4.5
Giorgi Kacheishvili 4.5
Alex Lenderman4.5
Baadur Jobava 4.5
Bartosz Socko  4.5
There were 15 players in all.  I don’t know how the pairings were done, but guess how many of the winners I played?  1?  2?   No  3?  4?  No.
I played all the winner!  Every round, I was playing one of the above-mentioned guys!  A world record?  Never before seen in tournament play?  I think so!  Instead of dwelling on my bad result, here’s a great blitz game I played:
IM Aries2 – GM Baadur Jobava (GEO)
Mark Baadur
1 ♘f3 ♞f6
2 ♙c4 ♟g6
3 ♘c3 ♝g7
4 ♙e4 ♟d6
5 ♙d4 ♚0-0
6 ♗e2 ♞a6
7 ♔0-0 ♟e5
8 ♖e1 ♟c6
9 ♖b1 ♞c7
10 ♙d5 ♟cxd5
11 ♙cxd5 ♞h5
12 ♙g3 ♟f5
13 ♘d2 ♞f6
14 ♙f3 ♟h5
15 ♙a4 ♟h4
16 ♘c4 ♟hxg3
17 ♙hxg3 ♞h5
18 ♔g2 ♞e8
19 ♖h1 ♟f4
20 ♙g4 ♞g3
21 ♖h3 ♞f6
22 ♖xg3 ♟fxg3
23 ♔xg3 ♞e8
24 ♗e3 ♜f7
25 ♕g1 ♝f6
26 ♗xa7 ♜xa7
27 ♕xa7 ♟b5
28 ♕xf7+ ♚xf7
29 ♘xb5 ♝g5
30 ♖h1 ♚g7
31 ♙b4 ♝a6
32 ♘ba3 ♝xc4
33 ♘xc4 ♞f6
34 ♙b5 ♞d7
35 ♙a5 ♞c5
36 ♙a6 ♛b8
37 ♖a1 ♞b3
38 ♙a7 ♛h8
39 ♙a8Q ♝f4+
40 ♔f2 ♛h4+
41 ♔f1 ♛h1+
42 ♔f2 ♞xa1
43 ♘xd6 ♛h2+
44 ♔f1 ♛h3+
45 ♔f2 ♛h2+
46 ♔f1 ♛h1+
47 ♔f2 ♛h2+
48 ♔f1 ♛h3+
49 ♔f2 ♛g3+
50 ♔f1 ♛h3+
51 ♔f2 ♛g3+
52 ♔f1 ♛h3+
Time Remaining: 00:46 Time Remaining: 00:04

Draw  (this is the way Shindig outputted the game and emailed it to me).

Chess U News

Chess U on iTunes

Recent developments:
  • Frank Johnson will author Chess-Coach 101, 102, and 103 for his chess schools and beyond.
  • Kamran Shirazi’s paper bag of recent scoresheets has been located and Jones Murphy and Kamran will select 10 good recent Shirazis for packaging into Shirazi 201.
  • I am working on Tal 301, a labyrinth of complications as one might expect.
  • Mountaindog is working on Classics 101, the ten most famous games of all time.
  • Marcel Martinez is working on Middlegame 201, 10 of his interesting efforts vs. luminaries such as Conquest, Hess, etc.

The Fabulous 70s: The National Chess League

October 6, 2009

Before the current-day US Chess League, we had the National Chess League played with telephones!  (pre-Web).  Runners would relay the moves with lingo like “Baker echo 7” (Be7).  Often times, a move was mis-relayed causing the game to back up and restart.  Games could take hours with the relay delays, although nominally the time control was G/1 hour with no increment.

Here are 3 amusing contests from the 1979 season, including one from the playoffs.

IM Dumitru Ghizdavu (CLE) – Mark Ginsburg (DC)  Sicilian Scheveningen, 4/22/79

I would hazard a guess my opponent hies from Romania.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. Be3 a6 7. f4 b5 8. Qf3 Bb7 9. Bd3 Nbd7 10. g4 b4 A wild line very popular at the time.

11. Nce2 e5 12. Nb3 h5!?

Wild Stuff

Wild Stuff

13. g5 Ng4 14. f5 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 a5 16. O-O-O a4 17. Nd2 d5!? 18. exd5 Bc5 19. Qg3 Bxd5 20. Be4 Bxa2 21. Bc6

Key Moment

Key Moment

21…Rc8? I totally missed 21… O-O! 22. Ne4? (22. f6 Rc8  unclear) 22… Qb6 23. Bxd7 Be3+ 24. Nd2 Rfd8! and black wins.

22. Bxa4 O-O 23. Ne4 Qb6 24. Rxd7 Be3+ 25. Kd1 Rfd8 Still, I generate play against white’s floating king.

26. Ke1 Rxd7 27. Nf6+ Kh8 28. Nxd7 Qa7 29. b3 Rxc2 30. Qf3 Bxb3! The craziness continues.  Quite a game!

31. Qxh5+ Kg8 32. g6

Key Moment Deux

Key Moment Deux

32…Bh6? I don’t think I had a lot of time left.

This second blunder is fatal.  I could have survived with  the wild sac (consistent with the rest of the game) 32… Rxe2+! 33. Kxe2 (33. Qxe2 Bxa4 34. gxf7+ Kxf7 35. Nxe5+ Kg8 36. Qc4+ Kh7 37. Qxb4 Bc2 38. Qc3 Bxf5) 33… Bc4+ 34. Kf3 Bd5+ 35. Kg4 Bh6)

33. Bxb3 Qa1+ 34. Kf2 Qd4+ 35. Kg3 Bf4+ 36. Kh3 Qd3+

I should have at least tried 36… Qe3+ hoping for 37. Ng3??  Rxh2+! 38. Rxh2 Qxg3 mate but it is hard to believe Ghizdavu would fall into that one.

37. Kh4 Bg5+ 38. Qxg5 Qe4+ 39. Qg4 Qxh1 40. gxf7+  1-0

In an amusing postscript, Ghizdavu recently popped up on the Arizona Scorpions USCL blog (see Comments section) announcing he’s moved to …. surprise ….. Surprise, AZ!   I would have to guess that DC won this Cleveland match but I didn’t record the individual board results.

M. Ginsburg (DC) – Julius Loftsson (LA)  Sicilian Taimanov 3/18/79

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Nf6 7. N5c3

Unusual and tried by Ljubojevic sporadically.

A Ljubo Special

A Ljubo Special

7…Be7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O b6 10. Bf4 Bb7 11. Nd2 a6 12. Re1 Rc8 13. Rc1 Ne5 14. Bg3 Qc7
15. b4 Qb8 16. Qb3 Bc6 17. f4 Ng6 18. h4?!
A very junior move. All my pawn advances come to naught and black is fine.

Rfd8 19. h5 Nf8 20. a4?! a5! I have no idea why I played my 20th.

21. bxa5 bxa5 22. Bf3 N8d7

Time for a Horrific Blunder

Time for a Horrific Blunder

23. e5?? Utter confusion on my part. A really ugly and mistimed advance that should have just handed black the game.

23… dxe5 24. fxe5 Bxf3 25. Qxb8 Nxb8 26. Nxf3 Nxh5 27. Bh2 Rxc4 I shed some pawns with no compensation.  Can you envision white winning?  No?  But look what happens.

"White to play and win"

"White to play and win"

28. Ne4 Rxc1 29. Rxc1 g6?!

Simplest was 29… Na6 stopping any play; e.g.  30. Nd6 g6 and black wins.

30. Rc7 Nd7 31. Nd4 Nc5?

Black had the nice 31… Bc5! 32. Nxc5 Nxc5 33. Rxc5 Rxd4 34. Rxa5 g5 and he should win.

32. Nd6 Bxd6? Another mistake and this one is serious enough to turn the game completely around.  32… Bg5! 33. Rxc5 Be3+ 34. Kf1 Bxd4 35. Rxa5 Ng7 36. Ke2 Nf5 37. Ra6 Rb8 and black is better.  He was probably in time trouble.

33. exd6 Ne4 Black is also losing after 33… Na6 34. Nc6 Rf8 35. d7 Nxc7 36. Bxc7 Nf6 37. Ne7+ Kg7 38. d8=Q Rxd8 39. Bxd8

34. d7 1-0

I think that DC won this match as well against LA.

So we got into the playoffs and here is a game from the Semi-Finals, DC versus the strong Berkeley Squad.  This time around I did record individual board results (see below).

IM Julio Kaplan (Berkeley Riots) – M. Ginsburg (DC Plumbers)  King’s Indian, 4 Pawns Attack, Benko-Gambit-esque

If you are wondering about the Plumbers name, look up the White House Plumbers and the notorious Watergate Scandal that occurred during President Nixon’s reign of terror.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 d6 5. e4 Bg7 6. f4 O-O 7. Nf3 b5

Believe it or not, at the time I notated this as “!”  It works out well in the game but white was very compliant, opening lines up for black.

8. cxb5 a6 9. e5?! Former World Junior Champ Kaplan is aggressive, but I don’t like this at all.

9…dxe5 10. fxe5 Ng4 11. Bf4 Nd7 12. bxa6 Ndxe5 Black has a great game now.

Big Plus Already!  What can go wrong?

Big Plus Already! What can go wrong?

13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Qd2 c4! I’m playing well!  These motifs are obvious to Benko players but I was totally on my own.

15. Bxe5 Bxe5 16. Bxc4 Qc7 17. Be2 Bxa6 18. Bxa6 Rxa6 19. O-O Bxh2+ 20. Kh1 Be5 21. Rf3 Rf6 22. Rxf6 Bxf6 23. Ne4 Bg7 24. Re1 Rd8 25. Nc3 Qc4 26. Re3? A huge lemon, of course, but white had a bad game.

Qf1+ 27. Kh2 Bh6 As simple as that, black is winning.  But remember a kid is playing an ending, and accidents can happen to kids.

Yay.  I win?

Yay. I win?

28. Re1 Bxd2 29. Rxf1 Bxc3 30. bxc3 Rxd5 31. Rf2 e5 32. a4 Rc5 33. Rc2 Rc4 34. Ra2 Rxc3
35. a5 Rc7 36. a6 Ra7 37. Kg3 f6 38. Kf3 Kf7 39. Ke4 Ke6 40. g4

Is it possible not to win?

Is it possible not to win?

It’s hard to conceive of black not winning this position.


Easier is 40… h5 41. gxh5 gxh5 42. Kd3 Kd5 43. Ra5+ Kc6 44. Ke4 Kb6 and after dealing with the white pawn there are no obstacles for black.

41. gxf5+ gxf5+ 42. Kf3 h5 43. Ra1 Kf6 44. Ra2 h4? Completely off my radar was the simple 44… f4! 45. Ke4 h4 46. Ra5 h3 47. Rxe5 Rh7 48. Rf5+ Kg6 and black wins, since the h1-a8 diagonal skewer is decisive.

45. Ra1 Ra8?? Did I really do that?  What a nonsensical blunder. Well by now it was obvious I was incompetent so I doubt another stronger move would have “won” for me.

46. a7 h3 47. Kg3 e4 48. Kxh3 Kg5 49. Ra5 Kf4 50. Kg2 Kg4 51. Ra4 f4 52. Rxe4 Rxa7 53. Re8 Ra2+ 54. Kg1 Kf3 55. Rf8 Ra5 56. Rf7 Ra1+ 57. Kh2 Rf1 58. Ra7 Re1 59. Rf7 Re5 60. Kg1 Rg5+
61. Kf1 1/2-1/2
Quelle desastre!

Here are the board results:

DC                     –       Berkeley

Mark Diesen   0   John Grefe

future IM Steve Odendahl 0  Paul Whitehead (I commented that Odendahl stood much better and went nuts)

Larry Kaufman  1  Jay Whitehead

Richard Delaune 1/2  Cornelius

John Meyer 0  DeFirmian (I noted that John lost on time with a queen versus a rook!)

So we lost this Semi-Final match 2 to 4.

And for Something Different

World Open 1985

World Open 1985

Vince McCambridge (right) and a fan, World Open, 1985.

Military History, Anyone?

Is anyone awake at the Pentagon?

This Afghanistan story of heavy American casualties from

“The battle Saturday in which eight U.S. troops were killed was so fierce that, at one point, U.S. forces had to fall back as attackers breached the perimeter of their base, a U.S. military official with knowledge of the latest intelligence reports on the incident said.

Forward Operating Base Keating, seen in 2007, is surrounded by tall ridge lines.

Forward Operating Base Keating, seen in 2007, is surrounded by tall ridge lines.

The new revelations about the battle that engulfed Forward Operating Base Keating in Kamdesh District are a further indication of how pinned down and outmanned the troops were at the remote outpost. The base, in an eastern Afghanistan valley, was surrounded by ridge lines where the insurgents were able to fire down at U.S. and Afghan troops.

The facility had been scheduled to be closed within days, CNN has learned. The closing is part of a wider effort by the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to cede remote outposts and consolidate troops in more populated areas to better protect Afghan civilians.”

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t learned our lesson from famous failures in the past to hold remote outposts.  A classic siege, Dien Bien Phu, saw the French try to hold a similar, ridiculously located, forward base to great cost.  Read “Hell in a Very Small Place” by Bernard Fall for that incredible account. I attach more information about this amazing book at the bottom of this article.  Even the USA’s own President, LBJ, when fortifying the ludicrous outpost Khe Sanh in Vietnam said “I don’t want another damn DIN BIN FOO.”

Why did we try to keep and hold a new DIN BIN FOO in Afghanistan?  A failed strategy cannot work if you fast-forward it in time.  This is the theme of the classic book of repetitious military failure throughout the ages, “The March of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman.  Hello, Pentagon?  Once agin:  we don’t want another damn DIN BIN FOO.  Forward, remote operating bases are sitting ducks.

If we are going to be in a far-away country trying our hand at “World Police” (that didn’t work too well for the British in the early 20th century), we might as well learn from prior military disasters.

More on “Hell in a Very Small Place”

From Amazon,

“he siege of Dien Bien Phu, in which a guerrilla force of Viet Minh destroyed a technologically superior French colonial army, must rank with Waterloo, Gettysburg, Midway, Stalingrad, and Tet as one of the decisive battles in military history. Not only did Dien Bien Phu put an end to French imperial efforts in Indo-china, but it also convinced the Viet Minh, when they came to power in Communist North Vietnam, that similar tactics would prevail in their war with the United States. As an American army officer told Bernard Fall during the Vietnam War: ”What we’re doing here basically is, we’re exorcising Dien Bien Phu.”Bernard Fall in this monumental work has written an exhaustive, revelatory, and vivid account of the battle, leading the reader from the conference rooms of the U.S. State Department to the French Foreign Office to the front lines of Indo-China and the strategy sessions led by General Giap and Ho Chi Minh. Among the many historical curiosities here disclosed is evidence that then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles offered atomic bombs to the beleaguered French, and that then-Senator Lyndon Johnson played a key role in defeating a proposal to aid the French with critical air support. Without U. S. aid, the fortress at Dien Bien Phu fell on the very day that the cease-fire conference opened in Geneva.Based on hitherto unavailable documentation from the French Defense Ministry, and replete with detailed maps of the many assaults, Hell in a Very Small Place is a first-rate military history. But even more powerful is the political wisdom it imparts about a war that was not only the beginning of the end of the French colonial empire but a rehearsal for American involvement in Vietnam.”

Tragically, the author Bernard Fall died while embedded with Marines in South Vietnam in 1967.

The Fabulous 00s: 1970s Theory in Keres Attack Still the Best

May 12, 2009

This just in from today’s US Championship:

IM (GM-elect) Robert Hess – GM Melikset Khachiyan   Keres Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. g4 h6 7. Bg2 Nc6 8. g5 A very old lunge, a little bit schizophrenic. White starts slowly (7. Bg2) then switches gears and charges, splintering his own pawn structure. Khachiyan, an experienced GM, starts by playing the right moves.

8…hxg5 9. Bxg5 Bd7 10. Nb3 a6 11. Qe2 Be7 So far, so good.

12. h4

To Hide the Black King or Not?

To Hide the Black King or Not?

12…b5 This is fundamentally risky.  As solid Swedish GM Ulf Anderssen exquisitely showed in the 1970s, black should be hiding his king on the queenside then working on potential weaknesses caused by white’s early advances.  Very solid is 12…Qc7! 13. O-O-O O-O-O and now, for eample, 14. f4 is met by the effective 14…Nh5! aiming at g3.  15. Bxe7 Nxe7 16. Qf2 Kb8 is fully equal.  It’s a matter of personal preference, but I would enjoy playing that setup hoping to expose the negative side of white’s kingside pawn splintering. The text move hands black a permanent, difficult, task, with the king in the middle.  Maybe Khachiyan was too young (!) to properly recall Ulf’s grand efforts?   On the other hand, as the note to black’s 17th shows, he had a narrow path to stay balanced even with the risky king.  This move almost warrants a dubious ?! symbol but since it stays afloat with brave play, I will refrain.  It is indeed dubious if the player has less than peak energy levels that day.

13. a3 Nh5! The same motif as in the old Anderssen games.  Black is OK.

14. O-O-O White might as well try this pawn sacrifice which is totally riskless.

14…Bxg5+ 15. hxg5 Qxg5+ 16. Kb1 Ke7 Black’s king is secure for the time being, but one miscue will mean death (as occurred!). 16…g6 is a move here, but black still has that king placement problem.

17. Bf3

Horse should go back, not forward

Horse should go back, not forward

The key moment.  Black should stay compact.

17…Nf4?? Tempting but losing.  He had to play 17…Nf6. In that case, black is all right.  For example, 18. Rhg1 is met by the calm 18…Qf4 19. Rxg7 Ne5 and it’s balanced.  Black will play Rag8 next to get rid of the intruder.

18. Qd2 Qe5 19. Nd5+! Crushing. The rest is agony.  It’s impossible to say what black missed tactically but it must have been something simple.

19…exd5 20. exd5 Rxh1 21. Rxh1 Nd8 22. Re1 f6 23. Rxe5+ fxe5 24. Nd4 Rc8 25. c3 g5 26. Qe3 Kf6 27. Ne2 Bf5+ 28. Ka1 Nxe2 29. Bxe2 Rc5 30. Qf3 e4 31. Qh1 Nf7 32.  Qd1 Ne5 33. Qd4 g4 34. b4 Rc8 35. a4 bxa4 36. Bxa6 Rh8 37. b5 e3 38. b6 Rh1+ 39. Ka2 exf2 40. Qxf2 Rh8 41. b7 Rg8 42. Qb6 Nd7 43. Qxd6+ Kg5 44. Bd3 1-0

The Fabulous 00s: La Vache ne Rit pas

February 20, 2009

The Toasted Cheezer

Whenever Maxime Vachier-Lagrave plays, I take note.  First of all, Maxime seems to my untrained eye to be a girl’s name.   Somehow a perversion of “Maxim” (Dlugy).  Well, Catherine Keener was hot in “Being John Malkovich” playing Maxine.  Note the “n” there.  What’s “Maxime” about?  Many questions, no answers. Secondly, I think of La Vache Qui Rit (a kind of budget grocery store cheese that I liked when I was a kid).

So here is a cheesy game of his from the recent 2008 Olympiad.  The winner of the game, Vladimir Akopian, happened to be playing for the winning team, Armenia so you know he had plenty of motivation to beat the Toasted Cheezer.

[Event “2008 Olympiad”]
[Site “Dresden GER”]
[Date “2008.11.21”]
[Round “8”]
[White “Akopian, Vladimir – ARM”]
[Black “Vachier Lagrave, Maxime – FRA”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B90”]
[WhiteElo “2679”]
[BlackElo “2716”]
[EventDate “2008.11.13”]

As a preamble, I found it amusing that the “kid” Vachier-Lagrave had a higher rating going into this game than  experienced world-class Akopian.  This was more suprising to me than the chimp Travis going crazy and biting a woman’s head in Connecticut. A sign of the times?  Would V-L be favored in a match?

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. Be2!? The hackneyed 7. f3 b5 8. Qd2 Nbd7 gets us to regular English Attack waters seen too much in recent times.  Akopian prepped this move, but La Tartine aux Poires (Pear Tart) reacts well.

7… Qc7 8. a4 b6! 9. f4 Bb7 10. Bf3 Nbd7! I like the Cheezer’s piece placement.  Nice and flexible.  I set up like this once versus Leonid Shamkovich, Lloyds Bank UK 1978!

11. Qe2 g6 12. O-O e5! The French boy wisely avoids the “desastre des proportions mondial” of 12… Bg7?? 13. e5! dxe5 14. Ndb5!! axb5 15. Nxb5 Qb8 16. Bxb7 Ra5 17. fxe5 Qxe5 18. Qf3 and black is a burnt crouton.   Quelle nuance – I also played this way against Shamkovich.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

13. Rad1 A big deal was made out of this move since it involves a ‘piece sac’.  It’s  too risky, obviously, for black to accept.  In fact, no GM would spend even more than a few moments “pondering” 13….exd4??.  So, it really shouldn’t amount to much – just another prepped sharp line with a transparent trick.   Black finds the obvious and correct response at least on this move…

A "sac".  ZZZZZZ.

A "sac". ZZZZZZ.

13…Be7! Rather obvious; this is why white’s “spectacular” piece offer doesn’t itself merit an exclam.

14. fxe5 Nxe5? Oh no!   Boo!  After setting up fantastically, the Baguette Kid sets himself on the path of a rapid self-immolation.  Required is the obvious 14… dxe5! 15. Nd5?! (the more circumspect 15. Nb3 O-O 16. Bg5 Nc5 17. Qc4 Kg7 18. Bxf6+ Bxf6 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. Rxd5 Be7 is dead equal) 15… Nxd5 16. exd5 O-O 17. Nc6 (this knight invasion is rather meaningless) 17…Bd6  18. Qc4 Rfe8! (not falling for 18…f5?? 19. Ne7+! and white has a huge edge) 19. g3 e4 20. Bg2 f5 and I’d rather be black.   Timman in New In Chess speculated Akopian might go for 15. Nb3 since 15. Nd5 does in fact seem to be a dead-end, shifting the initiative to black.  Next time, Maxime!

15. Bh6 Bf8 16. Bxf8 Kxf8 17. Qe3 Posing an elementary riddle.

Les noirs echouent l'examen.  Black fails the quiz.

Les noirs echouent l'examen. Black fails the quiz.

White eyes h6, and plans the transparent 17. Qg5 on 17…Kg7, or does he?  This gets to the heart of the position.

17…h6?? Another horrible gaffe (a French word!) from Kid Vachier.   The Dresden Willies? (TM)  This move comes from the bottom of a bad cheese barrel.   He needed to play the simple 17… Kg7! with the cute point that the barbaric 18. Qg5?! is met by the cute pinning 18…Qc5! 19. Kh1 Nxf3 20. Nxf3 Nxe4 and he’s fine.  White would only then have a small edge.  I can’t imagine why he would prefer 17…h6?? over the solid 17…Kg7! anyway.

18. Bh5!!! CRUNCH.   This blows the hyphen away: Vachier just got separated from the Lagrave.  He must have been feeling like he had eaten yesterday’s spinach croissant with some bad bleu cheese interior.  To put it another way, the souffle has fallen. White explodes black on the f-file and the crazed cleric eats next on g6 with nastiness happening on e6.  Black’s pieces are now past the event horizon and they all get sucked into the tactical black hole.

18…Qe7 There was no defense.   If 18…Kg7, “too late”, 19. Bxg6! Nxg6 (or 19…Kxg6 20. Nf5 anyway, and wins) 20. Nf5+ and it’s a rout. The rest of the game is like Napoleon at Waterloo – frightened scared men being massacred by a surrounding pincer force.

19. Bxg6! Anyway.  Black could already resign.

19…Nxg6 20. Nf5 Qe5 21. Qxb6 Bxe4 22. Qxd6+ Qxd6 23. Nxd6 Bxc2 24. Rxf6 Ra7 25. Rd2 Kg7 26. Rf3 1-0

Les enfants de la patrie n’allons pas. Hardly a triumph of white’s prep, though, as black just blew up for no reason.

Relationship Advice for Men

Often times, women will become enamored with abnormally large coffee mugs and bowls.  If you put a regular amount of cereal in such a bowl, it is dwarfed.  If you put coffee or tea in the Giant Mug, it is similarly dwarfed by the massive porcelain artifact.  What to do?  Sneak out and get some regular sized stuff but make sure it’s in a compatible color or else Your Ass is Grass.

In Other Chess News

To help Chess Life as a magazine, fortunately momentum is growing to stop Hanken from writing about the game of chess in Chess Life.   Current thinking is to give him a sidebar once in a while where he can comment on a player’s appearance.  That might be the best way for the editor to go.  Accuracy in annotations should be the editor’s overall goal in a ‘chess’ magazine.

What does the Russian Supermodel Think?

Attempts to reach Natasha Poly to learn her opinions of where Chess Life should head were, as of this writing, unsuccessful.

Natasha:  Weigh in on CL for Us

Natasha: Weigh in on CL for Us

And Lastly – Music at an Art Show… or something

Courtesy of Facebook,

I think Lily Faerman, a chess personality, is about to do a music concert or … something .. … at an art show of Russian women artists? in March in New York?  I can’t decipher youth announcements.

Here is her poster, I think.  I could be totally wrong about all this.

No. 9 Project

No. 9 Project

The Fabulous 70s: Lloyds Bank 1978

February 12, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Position after 22. Rd1 – chances are about level.

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

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

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


Position after the 29. Bd4? miscue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black resigns. Really a poor game.


M. Ginsburg – Julian Hodgson (2255) Tarrasch Defense

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Back to the Hodgson game.

11… Bg4 Young Julian has no problems at all.

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

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

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

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


At least I held a draw after the gruesome debut.

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

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

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

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


Position after 14. f5

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Position after 12…c5. Perplexing.

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

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

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

21. e5?! Impetuous and not very good.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Readers’ Help Needed

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

Photo Time

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


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

The Fabulous 00s: More Defending vs. The Keres Attack

December 14, 2007

I will be discussing this variation in my upcoming DVD series, “Thinking Your Way to Chess Mastery in the Opening.” My first disc will cover the Keres Attack, playing White versus the Hedgehog, and playing White in the Bayonet Attack, King’s Indian Defense.

IM D. Pruess – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute Blitz Dec. 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6!?


Position after 6…Nc6!? – An Unusual Defense to the Keres Attack

There’s something very logical looking about this move. 6…h6 gives white a lever for a later g4-g5. And the older 6…a6, once the most popular, has been convincingly shown to be too slow. So that leaves 6…Be7 (similar to the text) and the very risky 6…e5?! which we will cover in another installment. For more on 6…Nc6, see my first article (the GM Vogt game).

7. g5 Nd7 8. f4?!

This looks a little premature. 8. Be3 or 8. h4 are normal.

8. Rg1 is also possible. This was tested in another interesting ICC blitz game. It is possible to learn from these games, as I especially find out after analyzing blown opportunities such as the following:

NM Jefferson – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute, December 2007.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1 Nde5! Our thematic regrouping. 9. Be3 Na5 10. b3 Nac6! Returning now that the b2-b3 weakness was induced. 11. f4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Nc6 13. Bb5 Bd7 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Qd3 c5 16. Be3 Qa5 17. Bd2 Rc8 18. f5 c4! Black is fine. 19. Qf3 cxb3 20. cxb3 When white recaptures this way, you know black is doing well. 20…Qe5 21. O-O-O Be7 22. Kb1?! First of all, 22. f6?! gxf6 23. h4 fxg5 24. hxg5 a5 25. Kb2 a4 26. Rc1 axb3 27. axb3 Rb8 is very bad for white. The difficult 22 Kb2! is correct; 22…exf5 23. Rgf1 d5 24. exf5 d4 25. Ne4 Bc6 26. Rfe1 d3+ 27. Kb1 O-O 28. Qg4 Bxe4 29. Rxe4 Qc7 is about equal) 22… O-O 23. Rc1 d5?! (23… exf5! 24. Nd5 Bd8 is just good for black, e.g. 25. Rxc8 Bxc8 26. exf5 Bxf5+ 27. Kc1 Qa1 mate) 24. f6 Ba3! 25. fxg7 Qxg7 26. exd5 Bxc1? An instructive lapse. Black should keep attacking with 26…exd5 27. Qxd5 Rfd8 28. Qe4 Rc5 29. Ka1 Bf5 30. Qe2 Rcd5 31. Bf4 Rc8 32. Rg3 Rdc5! and this nice switch-back costs white decisive material. In the game, after 27. Rxc1 exd5 28. Nxd5 Rxc1+ 29. Bxc1 Be6?? 30. Ne7+ Kh8 31. Bb2 f6 32. Bxf6 Rxf6 33. Qxf6 white even won. Yuck! 1-0.

Now back to the main game after 8. f4?!

8…h6! Is this a TN?


8…h6!? – TN or not?

I could not find this logical reply in ChessBase. Black exploits the trick that 9. gxh6? Qh4+ is just bad for white (10. Bf2? Qxf4). Playable is the similar 8… Nxd4 9. Qxd4 h6! 10. Be3 hxg5 11. fxg5 Ne5 and black is comfortable. For example, 12. O-O-O a6 13. Bf4 b5 (not 13… Qc7?? 14. Bxe5 dxe5 15. Nb5!! and wins) 14. h4 Nc6 15. Qd3 b4 16. Ne2 e5 17. Be3 Bg4 18. g6 Qd7 19. Qd5 fxg6 20. Bh3 Bxh3 21. Rxh3 b3 22. Rf3 bxc2 23. Rdf1 Rb8 24. Rf7 Nb4 25. Qb3 Qh3 and things are really murky.

9. Nf3 The sacrifice 9. Nxe6!? fxe6 10. Qh5+ comes to mind. Black is going to be forced to switch his king and queen’s start positions in a weird sequence. After 10…Ke7 11. Be3
Qe8 12. Qh3 Kd8 13. O-O-O Kc7 14. Nb5+ Kb8 15. Nxd6 is refuted by 15… Bxd6 16. Rxd6 hxg5 and black wins. On other white 15th moves, black is better but not completely winning. So the sacrifice 9. Nxe6 is really deserving a “?!” instead.

9… hxg5 Sensible is 9… Be7 10. g6 (10. Be3 hxg5 11. Nxg5 a6 with a decent game) 10… Bh4+ 11. Ke2 O-O 12. Qxd6 Qb6! – a peculiar, imaginative, and nice gambit idea. Black has good attacking chances. For example, 13. gxf7+ Rxf7 14. Kd1 Nc5 15. Qd2 Rd7 16. Bd3 Bf6.

10. Nxg5 a6 Very interesting is 10… Qb6 11. Nb5 Nb4 12. a3 Na6 13. Qe2 Nc7
14. Be3 Qa5+ 15. c3 Nxb5 16. Qxb5 Qxb5 17. Bxb5 a6 and black is fine.

11. Be3 b5 12. Bg2 Bb7 13. Qe2 Qa5 14. O-O b4 15. Nb1 Be7 16. Nd2 Qc7 Very playable is 16… Bxg5 17. Nc4 Qc7 18. fxg5 Nce5 – this is nice and solid and nice for black.

17. f5 The sharpest try but black has an adequate response.

17…d5! A thematic line-opener to try to get at white’s king. Black attacks the h2 pawn.


Position after 17…d5!? – Very Sharp.

18. Bf4 Bd6?? The text should have been a losing blunder. An amazing resource is 18… Nd4!! – showing that unusual and very strong moves are possible even in the opening.


Position after 18…Nd4!! (analysis)

First we dismiss 19. Qf2?? Qxf4! 20. Qxf4 Ne2+ (the point!) and black wins; the WN on g5 is dangling. And if 19. Bxc7 (19. Qe3 is bad – 19…Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qxh2+ 21. Kf2 Nxc2 22. Qg3 dxe4 and black wins; if 19. Qd3 e5 20. Be3 Nc5 and again black wins) 19…Nxe2+ 20. Kf2 Nd4 21. fxe6 fxe6 22. Ngf3 Nxc2 or 22…Nxf3 and black wins. So as strange as it seems, 18….Nd4!! wins in all lines!

19. Nxf7? The wrong sacrifice. The game goes from a white win to a draw in terms of evaluation. The right move, 19. fxe6 is crushing: 19…Bxf4 20. exf7+ Ke7 21. exd5+ Be5 22. dxc6 and black has to give up.

19… Kxf7 20. fxe6+ Kg8 Now it is about equal.

21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. exd5? A losing mistake. Correct is 22. exd7 Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Qh4+ (23… Nd4 24. Qd3) 24. Kg1 Qh2+ with a perpetual.

22… Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Nd4 (23… Qh4+ 24. Kg1 Nd4 25. Qd3 Ne5! When the knights dance like this, the party is over for white. For example, 26. Qe4 Qh2+ 27. Kf2 Rh4 28. Nf3 Nexf3.

24. Qe4 Rf8+ 25. Ke1 Nf6 Correct is 25… Rh4 to involve everything in the attack. This move wins easily.

26. Qxd4 Qxg2 27. e7 Re8 28. d6 Rh2 29. Nc4 29. Qe3 was”relatively best” but with a little care black can destroy white’s passed pawns: 29… Bc8 30. Rf2 Qg1+ 31. Nf1 Rxf2 32. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 33. Kxf2 Ne4+ does the trick.

29… Qe2# 0-1

Here’s another one, played February 11, 2008 (also on ICC).

GM Dejan Pikula (“Kipi”) – aries2 ICC 5-minute, February 2008

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1

I direct readers to my Foxwoods 2008 post for a discussion of a game I had as black vs GM Becerra starting from this point.

8…Nde5 For some reason, in the Foxwoods 2008 game, I played 8…Nb6?! (more passive) against Becerra.  I gained a draw only with difficulty.

9. Rg3!? A very rare sideline. We have an example here with 9. Nb3. Black can respond 9… h6!? 10. gxh6 g6 11. Bg5 and now a very funny line here is 11… f6! 12. Bd2 Bxh6 13. f4 f5!! 14. fxe5 Qh4+ 15. Ke2 Qh5+ 16. Kf2 Qh4+ forcing a draw, since 17. Rg3?? f4 wins for black. In the game, black played 11…Qb6? and lost in 34 moves, Kedziora,C-Merz,H/Goch 1991.


Position after 9. Rg3!? – A Rare Sideline

9… Nxd4 It might be stronger to wait with 9… Be7 10. h4 O-O 11. Be3 Na5!? 12. b3 d5 13. Qd2 Nac6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. O-O-O Qa5 16. Kb1 Bb4 and black is all right.

10. Qxd4 Nc6 11. Qd1 Putting the queen offside with 11. Qa4 Bd7 12. Be3 a6 13. a3 b5 14. Qb3 Be7 15. O-O-O Na5 16. Qa2 , although a computer line, looks very strange.

11… a6 12. Be3 Be7? Correct is 12… b5 13. a3 Qa5 14. Qd2 b4 15. Ne2 Bd7 16. Nd4 Rb8 17. Be2 Be7 18. h4 O-O 19. Kf1 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 e5 21. Ba7 Rb7 and black is OK.

13. Qh5! g6 14. Qh6 Qa5 15. Qg7 Not the best. White should wait for this and play 15. O-O-O Bf8 16. Qh4 b5 17. Kb1 b4 18. Ne2 Be7 19. f4 Bb7 20. Nd4 and he has an edge.

15… Qe5 16. Qxe5 dxe5


Position after 16…dxe5. White should eliminate black’s two bishops.

17. O-O-O?! Another inaccuracy. White should play 17. Na4! b5 18. Nb6 Rb8 19. Nxc8 Rxc8 20. c3 Na5 21. a4 Nc4 22. axb5 axb5 23. Bxc4 bxc4 24. Kd2! and nurse a small edge in the ending – the queenside pawn majority will prove troublesome.

17… b5! Ruling out Na4 to b6.

18. h4 h6 19. f4 Black can handle 19. gxh6 Bf8 20. h5 gxh5 21. h7 Rxh7 22. Rg8 f6 23. Bc5 Ne7.

19… hxg5 20. hxg5 exf4 21. Bxf4 Bb7 22. Re1?! Safer is 22. Bg2.

22… O-O-O! Of course! Now black has a big initiative.

23. Bd3 Rh4 24. Rf1 Rxf4 It’s more practical to wait and play 24… Bc5 25. a3 Bd4.

25. Rxf4 Bd6 26. Rgf3 Stronger is 26. Ne2 Bxf4+ 27. Nxf4 Ne5 28. Rh3 and white is holding.

26… Bxf4+ 27. Rxf4 Ne5 A beautiful horse!

28. Kd2 Rh8 29. Ke3 Rh5 30. Be2 Rxg5 31. Kf2 f5 32. a4 b4 33. Na2 a5 34. c3 Bxe4 The rest is not hard.

35. cxb4 Rg2+ 36. Ke1 g5 37. Rf2 Rg1+ 38. Kd2 If 38. Rf1 Rxf1+ 39. Kxf1 Bd5 and black wins.

38… g4 39. bxa5 g3 40. Rf1 Rxf1 41. Bxf1 g2 41… f4 42. Nc3 f3! wins too.

42. Bxg2 Bxg2 43. b4 f4 44. a6 Nc4+ 45. Ke2 e5 46. b5 e4 47. Nb4 e3 48. a5 f3+ 49. Kd3 f2 50. Kxc4 f1=Q+ 51. Kc5 e2 52. b6 e1=Q 53. b7+ Bxb7 54. axb7+ Kxb7 0-1

How Fearsome is the Keres Attack?

November 6, 2007

I have always wondered how to best meet the primitive move of Paul Keres, the audacious 6. g4!? in the Sicilian Scheveningen. This is a very interesting question; it greatly depends on the temperment of the two players. For example, if white is one-dimensional (attack-only) the answer might be quite different than a white player who is more positionally sophisticated. Likewise, is black yearning to counter-attack or is he content, à la Ulf Andersson, to slowly accumulate positional advantages?  Before we start, I refer interested readers to a postage stamp featuring Mr. Keres!

Let’s examine these issues in a crazy game I played as black in the Swiss “A” Team League vs. GM Lothar Vogt.

GM L Vogt (Biel) – IM Mark Ginsburg (Riehen)    2000

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


Is it just me, or does this move look weakening?  Maybe I am being too Soviet here (“pawns do not move backward”).  One of the key squares weakened is f4.   Maybe black can get a knight there later?  Maybe black can interfere with white castling long (make him castle short) and then exploit the overextended kingside pawns? Strangely, as a junior playing white, I saw no objection to 6. g4 and played it a lot – scoring both a win and a loss versus NM John Meyer when very young. White’s agenda is clear – g4-g5 and further space gaining.  If 6…h6, black has slowed white down a little bit but he’s given white a “lever” that might help the future pawn storm. Let’s focus on the less usual methods that avoid 6…h6.

6…Nc6!?  An interesting suggestion in the old book by Kasparov and Nikitin on the Scheveningen. Black plans Nc6xd4 at some point followed, usually, by a timely …e6-e5.  This is particularly effective if white has played f2-f4.

 7. g5 Nd7 8. Be3  Logical.  A very natural alternative (but one that does not develop!) is 8. h4.  Black can then respond with 8…Nxd4 or 8…Be7 or even the provocative 8…Nde5!? aiming to exchange off a pair of knights to lessen the defensive burden.  The first one appears rather weak but the other two are more playable.  Let’s take a look.

A. Not equalizing is 8. h4 Nxd4?! 9. Qxd4 Ne5 10. Be2 Nc6 11. Qd3 Ne5 12. Qg3 Bd7 13. f4 Nc6 14. Be3 Qa5 15. O-O-O Rc8 16. a3 and white is better.

B.  8. h4 Be7 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Qd2 a6 11. O-O-O with a small edge.

C. The most principled try is 8. h4 Nde5!? 9. Be2 a6 10. Be3 Na5 11. f4 Nec4 12. Bc1 Qb6 with murky play.  White can also play 9. Nb3, avoiding the knight exchange. Then we have this example game:  8….Nde5 9. Nb3 Be7!  10. f4 Ng6 11. Qd2 h6 12. gxh6 Bh4+ 13. Bf2 Rxh6  Black is fine here. 14. O-O-O Bxf2 15. Qxf2 Qh4 16. Qxh4 Rxh4 17. Nb5 Kf8 18. f5 (18. Nxd6 Nxf4 is about level) 18… exf5 19. exf5 Bxf5 20. Nxd6 Bg4 21. Rd2 Bf3 22. Rg1 Nce5 23. Bg2 (Relatively best is 23. Nd4 Rf4 24. c3 Rd8 25. N6f5 Nc6 26. Bb5 Rd5 27. Rxg6 fxg6 28. Ne6+ Kf7 29. Nxf4 Rxd2 30. Kxd2 gxf5) 23… b6 24. Nd4 Bxg2 25. Rgxg2 Rf4 and black drew the game eventually,  1/2-1/2 Willumsen,H-Larsen,O/Aarhus 1989/EXT 1998

In this line, rather dubious is 8….Nde5 9. Nb3 Na5?! (as above, 9…Be7! is correct and not the time-wasting text) 10. Nxa5 Qxa5 11. f4 Nc6 12. Qd2 a6 13. O-O-O Be7 14. Qf2 Qc7 15. Bb6 Qb8 (white has a huge edge; I just provide the rest for tragi-comedy) 16. h4 O-O 17. f5 Bd8 18. Be3 b5 19. f6 Ne5 20. fxg7 Re8 21. Bd4 Qc7 22. Ne2 Bb7 23. Ng3 Rc8 24. Kb1 d5 25. Bd3 Nc6 26. Bc3 d4 27. Bd2 Ne5 28. Bf4 Nxd3 29. cxd3 Qd7 30. Rdf1 b4 31. Bd2 a5 32. g6 hxg6 33. h5 g5 34. h6 f5 35. Rh5 Ba6 36. Qe2 f4 37. Bxf4 gxf4 38. Rxf4 (Poor GM Kindemann!  Time trouble? He misses a forced mate with the elegant 38. h7+ Kxg7 39. h8=Q+! Rxh8 40. Qg4+ Kf7 41. Qxf4+ Ke7 42. Rh7+!! Rxh7 43. Qf8 mate) 38… Rc1+!!  A stunning black defense that must have shocked the Grandmaster. 39. Kxc1 Qc7+ 40. Kb1 Qxf4 41. Rh3 Kh7 42. Nh5 Qf7 43. Rf3?  (And now white even loses). 43…Qxh5 44. Rf8 Qxe2 45. g8=Q+ Kxh6 46. Qh8+ Kg5 47. Qg7+ Kh4 48.Qh6+ Kg3 49. Qg6+ Kh3 0-1 and black pulled off an improbable and very lucky upset, Kindermann,S (2500)-Dietze,W (2290)/Germany 1991/GER-chT.  I could not find this fiasco on

 8…Be7?!  Very interesting is 8…Nde5!? here, carrying out the principal idea without delay. 


Position after 8…Nde5!? (Analysis) 

For example, 9. Be2 Na5!? 10. f4 Nec4 11. Bc1 (11. Bf2!?) 11…d5! with a very unclear game where black has sufficient chances.  

If white decentralizes tries the interesting 9. Nb3 avoiding exchanges, 


Position After 9. Nb3 – This might be pretty good 

black has the simple 9…Be7 10. f4 Ng6! with a reasonable game. The knight is well placed on g6 observing the weak squares that white’s 6th move created.  For example, 11. Qd2 h6! 12. gxh6 Bh4+ and black is fine, as was shown in Willumsen-O. Larsen 1/2, Aarhus 1989.  But 11. Qd2 looks weak; see the next paragraph for an improvement; namely 11. h4!  – in retrospect, 9. Nb3 might be good. This needs further work.

December 2007 note: recently I had the opportunity to test this line versus GM BOOrrj on ICC in a 5-minute game.

GM BOOrrj – Aries2  ICC 5-Minute, 12/28/07

9.  Nb3 Be7 10. f4 Ng6 11. h4! and this indeed is critical. White wants to swamp black and punish the unusual N on g6.  The game went: 11….h6 12. Qf3 and I could find nothing better than 12…hxg5 13. hxg5 Rxh1 14. Qxh1 and white obviously has an edge. This line needs revisiting.

 9. Rg1!? is another logical try.  9. Rg1 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Nc6 11. Be3 Qa5! is a good move.  There might follow 12. Qd2 Be7 13. h4 O-O 14. O-O-O Rb8! Another good move to get the rook behind the battering b-pawn ram. 15. Kb1 b5 16. h5 b4 17. Ne2 Bb7 18. g6 b3!! A tactical motif well worth remembering.  Black has dynamic equality after 19. Qxa5 bxc2+.

9. h4 O-O 10. Qe2!?  White also has 10. Qd2 here but after 10…Nde5 black has no particular problems.  For example, 10. Qd2 Nde5! 11. Be2 (white has to watch the N fork on f3) 11…Na5! 12. b3 (what else?) Nac6 and black forced white into a rather ugly concession. 

The eagle-eyed reader would have noticed by now another path. Completely different is the surprisingly strong gambit line 10. g6! and white gets a strong attack after 10…hxg6 11. h5 g5 12. h6!.  Black can also defend with 10. g6!? Nde5, but after 11. gxh7+ Kh8 12. Rg1 it is looking very good for white.  Conclusion: the game move 8…Be7 is inaccurate and black would be better off with 8…Nde5 which needs practical tests.

10…Nxd4 11. Bxd4 e5   This is very commital, of course. Black gives away d5 to commence active operations.

There is the interesting (a little crazy, but interesting) gambit 11… b5!? here to scare white away from the natural plan of castling queenside. There might follow 12. Nxb5 Ba6 (Also possible is 12… Qa5+ 13. Nc3 or 13. Bc3) 13. a4 and white looks to be better, but this is a good blitz try. Black will enjoy some open lines.

The slower 11… a6 12. O-O-O b5 13. g6 fxg6 14. Bh3 Nb6 15. e5 d5 16. Qg4 Nc4 17. h5 b4 18. Ne2 g5 19. h6 g6 20. Qg3 a5 21. c3 gives white some edge.

12. Be3 Nb6 Following Nikitin and Kasparov to prepare Be6 and Rc8 and temporarily guard d5.

13. Bh3  White can play 13. O-O-O; but there are tricks. Here is an example of a pitfall line, 13…Be6 14. Rg1 Rc8 (Obvious intentions) 15. h5? Rxc3! 16. bxc3 Nc4! and black is much better after the forced and sad 17. Qf3 Qa5 18. Bxc4 Bxc4 with a huge attack.  And note that 15. Nd5? Nxd5 16. exd5 Bf5! is also very good for black. Thus black is not too afraid of 13. O-O-O.

13…Be6?!  A very cool tactical break-out here and a great blitz try is 13… d5!!?


Position after 13….d5!!?  (Analysis) 

14. Bxb6! (Note that 14. Bxc8? Qxc8 15. exd5 Ba3!! is very good for black!) 14…Qxb6 15. O-O-O! (The best reaction, other moves give nothing) 15…d4 16. Nd5 Qc5 17. Rdg1 Be6?! (nobody likes to play the more passive 17… Kh8 18. Bxc8 Raxc8 19. Rh3 f5 20. gxf6 Bxf6 21. h5 Rc6 and white is a bit better) 18. Nf6+! Kh8 19. Qh5 gxf6 20. Bxe6 d3 21. Bb3 Qxf2 and black is hanging on but it’s not a lot of fun.

14. g6! Our familiar gambit line is still good. Black has to play and pretend that everything is in order, but in reality white has a huge edge.

14…hxg6 15. Bxe6 fxe6 16. h5 Most accurate is 16. O-O-O! Qe8 17. Qg4 Rf6 18. Bg5 Rxf2 19. Qxe6+ Kf8 20. Qg4 and white has a big initiative.

16… gxh5 17. Rxh5?! Here, 17. Qxh5! Nc4 18. O-O-O Nxe3 19. Rdg1! Bf6 20. fxe3 Qe8 21. Rg6 is very strong and really too much for black to handle.

 17… Rc8 18. O-O-O  A good alternative here is 18. Qg4! Qd7 19. O-O-O Nc4 20. Rh6 Bf6 21. Nd5 Nxe3 22. fxe3 with a big white plus.

18… Bf6 19. Qg4 Kf7 20. Bg5  The obvious 20. Rh7 Nc4 21. Bh6 Rg8 22. Rd3 with a big attack is too strong.  However, white hasn’t done anything wrong yet – see the note to his next move.

20… Rh8 21. Rd3? Now white misses a really crushing shot. 21. Nb5! is very hard to handle. 21… Nc4 22. b3 a6 23. Na7 Ra8 24. bxc4 Rxa7 25. Bxf6 gxf6 26. Rxd6! and white wins.

21… Rxh5 22. Qxh5+ Kg8 23. Bxf6 Qxf6 24. Qe2?  Another bad miscue. 24. Rxd6! Rf8 25. Kb1 Qxf2 26. Rd1 Nc4 27. Rh1 Ne3 28. Ne2 Nf1 29. a3 Nd2+ 30. Ka2 Nf3 31. Nc3 Qxc2 32. Qg6 and white is better.

24… Qg5+ 25. Kb1  Now black is completely OK.

25…Rxc3?!!  This move was not necessary.  Black is fine after the safe and sound 25… Rc6 26. Nb5 d5 27. Nxa7 Rc4 28.exd5 exd5 29. Rg3 Rh4 30. a3 Qf4 31. Qb5 Rh6 and even has winning chances due to his superior coordination. White’s knight is sadly offside. 

26. bxc3 Na4  Yes, this looks optically great for black.  But there is no KO.

27. Qd1 d5  Black gains nothing from 27…Qh4 28. Ka1 Qxf2 29. Rxd6.

28. Ka1 Nb6   The attacking 28… Qe7 29. exd5 (white also has the simple 29. Qh5! and the black queen cannot move off of the defense of e8) 29…Qa3!? can be met by 30. Qb1 e4 31. Rh3 e3 32. Rxe3 Nxc3 33. d6! Nxb1 34. Rxa3 Nxa3 35. d7 and wins.

29. Rg3 Qf4 30. Qg1 Qf7  Playable is 30… Qf6 31. Rg6 Qf7 and black holds.

31. Rh3 dxe4  Natural and good was 31… Qf4 with a solid game.

32. Qg4 Qf5  Perfectly good is 32… Nd5 33. Qh5 Qxh5 34. Rxh5 Nxc3 35. Rxe5 Kf7 36. Kb2 Nd1+ 37. Kc1 Nxf2 38. Kd2 b6 and black has enough pawns to bother white – the chances are balanced.   The weird computer-y move 32…Nd7 is also OK: 33. Qxe4 Qxf2 is equal.

33. Rg3 Qxg4??  Awful.  Mild time trouble was no excuse.  Black holds on after 33… Qf6 or 33… Qf7 34. Rg1 Nd5 35. Qxe4 Qxf2 36. Re1 Kf7 37. Qxe5 Qf5. The exchange of queens is clearly suicide.

34. Rxg4 Now white wins easily.

34…Kf7 35. Rxe4 Kf6 36. Rb4 Kf5 37. c4 g5 38. c5 Nd7 39. Rxb7
Nxc5 40. Rxa7 g4 41. Rc7 Ne4 42. a4 Kf6 43. a5 Nxf2 44. a6 g3 45. Rc3 1-0

Very sad.  But let the investigation of defending the Keres Attack without ….h6 begin!

An Important Game from 1979

September 24, 2007

In March 1979 Michael Rohde took a big step toward U.S. Chess stardom – he made his first GM result at the Marshall Chess Club!  The tourney was also notable for Eugene Meyer’s 2nd IM norm and Larry Kaufman’s 1st IM norm.

Here is the NY Times article (by GM Robert Byrne). Click to enlarge.

The game itself seemed to go in a predictable path:

Plaskett was over-aggressive, Rohde picked up a few pawns, and won by taking advantage of Plaskett’s over-exposed King.

But behind the scenes, another player on an adjacent board (who was finished with his game) was analyzing and moving the pieces around, generally being distracting, during this featured NY Times game. Rohde asked him to stop, and the 3rd party took offense. Words were exchanged, the situation became ultra-tense, and it almost came to an all-out fight. The TD was summoned and this tense game’s clocks were stopped. Future GM Jim Plaskett was shocked (being British, does this happen in the UK?) and when things got underway again he offered no meaningful resistance and lost quickly.

Viva USA!  Barroom brawls do have a place in our chess culture.  Note in the NY Times article Byrne committed the common typo of Rhode (like Rhode Island).

Plaskett (UK) – Rohde (USA)  Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cd 5. N:d4 Qc7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. f4 d6 8. Be3 Be7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Qf3 Nc5 11. Rae1 O-O 12. Qg3 b5 13. e5 dxe5 14. dxe5 Ne8 Forced. If 14…Nfd7?? 15. Bh6 wins.

I am not sure when the near-fisticuffs broke out but I do know it was before Plaskett was dead lost.

15. Ne4 15. Be4!? Nxe4 16. Nxe4 Bb7 17. Bg5 Rd8 and black defends.

15…Nxd3 16. cxd3 Bb7 17. Rc1 Qd8 18. Nc6? Correct is 18. Nc5 and white is slightly better after e.g. 18…Bd5 19. b3.

18…Bxc6 19. Rxc6 Qd5! 20. Rfc1?! The simplest way was 20. Bc5! Qxc6 21. Bxe7 Nc7 and chances are balanced.  If 20…Bxc5+?! 21. Rxc5 Qxa2?! white gets the edge after 22. Nf6+! Kg8 (22…Nxf6? 23. exf6 g6 24. Qe3 Kh8 25. Qh6 Rg8 26. Rf3 just wins for white as 26..Qb1+ is met by the simple 27. Rc1) 23. Nd7! Rg8 24. Qf2!

20…Qxa2 21. Rc7? This ridiculous combination is unsound and loses quickly.  Even at this late juncture, White had the interesting resource 21. Nc5! threatening 22. Nd7 trapping the rook.  Then if 21…Rd8 22. b4! Qb2 23. Qf4 the entire game lies ahead.

21…Nxc7 22. Rxc7 Qb1+ 23. Kf2 Q:d3 Black is completely winning by the simplest of means; simply capturing things while at the same time centralizing his pieces.

24. Qf4 f6! The computer has black up by 5.82 “points” now.  Ouch.  Its not often you see the defensive side switch entirely over to the attack in one half-move.

25. exf6 A pleasing side-variation: if 25. Rc3 Qd5 26. Kg3 g5! 27. Qf3 fxe5 28. Qg4 Rf4!! 29. Bxf4 exf4+ 30. Kf3 Qd1+ and wins white’s queen!

25…B:f6 26. Kg3 Bh4+! and white resigns.  Now the margin is 14.06 “points”, reminiscent of a football game.


Hopefully the reader gets a sense for how quickly Plaskett dried up and blew away.