Archive for the ‘Sicilian Kan’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: Week 2 USCL Opening of the Week (OOTW)

September 12, 2009


In a GM matchup from round 2, we have Pascal Charbonneau (NY) tangling with GM Gregory Serper (SEA) in my favorite variation, the Sicilian Kan.  Surprisingly, Serper goes wrong early and Charbonneau won convincingly.  This sharp Sicilian Kan is this week’s Opening of the Week (OOTW) and we can learn a lot about move orders, nuances, and getting past the opening for black!

The raw game score:

Charbonneau (NY)-Serper (SEA)   Sicilian Kan

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 d6 7.c4 Be7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Qe2 Re8?! 10.Kh1 b6 11.f4 Bb7 12.Bd2
This rather primitive set-up is the favorite set-up across all rating ranges when I play ICC blitz. Therefore, black should be ready for it.

12…Qc7? Oops!  An unfortunate choice that sends black down the drain.

Just to show that the Kan poses problems in quick play, here is a quick digression M. Ginsburg – D. Gurevich, G/30 Champs., Milwaukee, WI, 2002.
1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 b6 3. Nc3 Bb7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Bd3 e6 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 a6 10. b3 Be7 11. Bb2 O-O 12. Rad1 Re8 13. f4 Bf8? 14. e5!

Oops! Black has forgotten about this possibility in a turn of events eerily similar to the current game we are analyzing.

14…dxe5 15. fxe5 Bc5 16. Na4!

White is winning.
16… Nxe5 17. Qxe5 Bd6 18. Qe2 Qc7 19. Rxf6 Bxh2+ 20. Kh1 Qg3 21. Rxf7!  The easiest. 21… Kxf7 22. Qh5+ Ke7 23. Qxh2 Qxh2+ 24. Kxh2 1-0 Dmitry didn’t have a chance after his miscue on move 13.

In another digression, just to show the Kan can create the pre-conditions for an upset, here is the great GM Dzindzihashvili taking too many chances and fumbling the ball against a young, inexperienced player in Chicago 1979.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 g6?! 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Bg5 Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 11. f4 Qc7 12. f5 gxf5 13. exf5 e5 14. Ne6! fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! Bb7 17. exf8=Q+ and white went on to win, M. Ginsburg – R. Dzindzihashvili, Chicago Masters/Experts 1979.

A final digression showing the dangers, with apologies to Viktor Korchnoi who clearly wasn’t fully awake that day,

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Ba7 7. c4 Nc6 8. O-O Qh4? 9. N1d2 Nge7 10. c5!  Yuck! 10…Ne5 11. Be2 b6 12. f4 N5c6 13. Nc4 bxc5 14. g3 Qh6 15. f5 Qf6 16. fxe6 Qxe6 17. Nd6+ Kf8 18. Bc4 1-0 Calvo-Korchnoi, Havana Olympiad 1966.

But fear not, Kan supporters.  This cagey opening can, and should, live!
Returning to Charbonneau-Serper, white strikes with the obvious but pleasing

13.e5! Nfd7 14.f5! … and White is completely winning already.  A very depressing opening tableau for black.

14…Nxe5 15.fxe6 Bf6 16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.cxd5 Nxd3 18.Qxd3 fxe6 19.Nxe6 Qf7 20.Qg3 Ra7 21.Bc3 Nd7 22.Qxd6 Qe7 23.Qg3 Bxc3 24.bxc3 Nc5 25.Rae1 Nxe6 26.Rxe6 Qd8 27.Qe3 Rae7 28.Qxb6 Qxb6 29.Rxb6 Rc7 30.d6 Rf7 31.Kg1 a5 32.c4 Rxf1+ 33.Kxf1 Kf7 34.c5 Ke6 35.Rb7 Kd5 36.Rc7 Black resigns 1-0

So what happened?  Serper didn’t react properly to Charbonneau’s common club-player plan of Bd2 and e5 (often with Rae1 thrown in).  The trick is that Bd2 tangles white’s minor pieces up on the d-file and black has to be ready to find tactical chances to exploit that tangle.

Let’s explore this a little bit more.   First, we take as already on the board black’s 9th move which looks a little fancy (delaying queenside development), but is OK.  White has just played 12. Bc1-d2 with obvious intentions.

Position after White's 12th move in Charbonneau-Serper

Position after White's 12th move in Charbonneau-Serper

Here, as we know, Serper played 12…Qc7? which loses for tactical reasons.

To exploit the tangle on the d-file after e4-e5, there are two black methods – placing a rook on d8 (after Qc7), or using the queen herself from d8.  Black can’t do the first method here, since he’s already played the slow 9…Re8.  So he needs to let the queen sit on d8 a little while longer to hold up e5.  After looking at this second method, we’ll return to the game a bit earlier and indicate how black can use the first method with a more crafty move order.

Let’s see it. 12…Nbd7! The first point is after the natural build-up 13. Rae1, black has the surprising 13…Nf8! and white’s e5 is definitely not playable. So white has to resort to slow methods and black has time to mobilize his whole army – the dream of the Hedgehog player who seeks to punch later in the middlegame.   But what about the immediate 13. e5!? which certainly looks dangerous? This is critical, but black can hold.

12…Nbd7! 13. e5!?  dxe5 14. fxe5 Nc5! There is no time for half-measures.  This is a solid defense.  Interestingly, there is another sharp defense here, 14…Bc5!? — after the plausible 14…Bc5!? 15. exf6?! Bxd4 16. fxg7 f5! black is all right.  However, after the accurate 15. Nf3! black has problems.

15. exf6 Bxf6 16. Rxf6! I think it’s very plausible to think that aggressive Charbonneau would steer for this apparently devastating attack.   Besides, on any other white move, black simply regains the piece with a very good game.  However, black has resources here.

Which way to take back?

Which way to take back?

Position after 16. Rxf6! – Analysis

The key for black is psychological – don’t lose your head when it appears your king is getting ripped apart!  Objectively black is all right.  The correct recapture is 16…Qxf6!.  No points for 16…gxf6? 17. Qg4+ Kh8 18. Bxh7!! and the king IS getting ripped apart; white wins elegantly after 18…Kxh7 19. Rf1!! f5 20. Nxf5! – what a pleasure it is for white to play all these moves! – and black has no defense.

So we have on the analysis board 16…Qxf6!

After this, black can look forward to what former WC Boris Spassky valued most highly; piece activity.  His coordinated activity saves him after, for example, 17. Nf3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 Rac8 or 17. Nb3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 e5!.  In many variations, this mobile e-pawn generates plenty of play.  Overall, chances are balanced in this sharp fight of two minors against the rook.

Let’s see a nice sample variation on the analysis board.

16…Qxf6! 17. Nf3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 Rac8 19. Rf1 Qf5! – a very pretty defensive resource.

Nice defense!

Nice defense!

After 20. Qe2 Qc2! black is hassling white big-time, and after 20. Qxf5 exf5 21. b3 Rcd8 you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to observe all black’s pieces are running on all cylinders with level chances.

Conclusion:  Serper’s slow 9…Re8 is indeed playable but he needed to be alert after white’s 12th and find this narrow road.

Let’s go back and try to set up black’s other method to deal with e4-e5, by placing a rook on d8.  How to arrange this before white blows up the center?   Here’s how to do it for all you Kan explorers in the audience:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 d6 7.c4 Be7 8.Nc3 b6 (no castles just yet) 9. f4 Bb7 10. Bd2 Nbd7 11. Qe2 Qc7 12. Rae1 and we reach a key moment.

Black has to be careful

Black has to be careful

As any good beginner’s book will tell you, be extra-careful when your king is not yet castled.  Thus the principle idea of Ra8-d8, while good strategically here, is bad tactically.  12…Rad8? 13. Nd5! (the punishment) 13…exd5 14. exd5 Nc5 15. Bc2! and white is totally winning.  Black wants to play Rd8, to hold up the e5 advance, but has to get the move order right.  Thus correct here is the apparently dangerous 12…O-O! first.  Let’s see it.  The testing line to calculate, of course, is the e4-e5 push.  With white’s king on g1, and not yet on h1, black has additional tactical possibilities.  And this, in fact, is what justifies 12…O-O!.

12…O-O! 13. e5?! dxe5 14. fxe5 Bc5! Threatening d4 WITH CHECK  and this is the saving nuance. 15. Rf4 What else? No going back now. White is already hoisted by his own petard.

15…Nxe5! A common tactical trick when there’s a d-file tangle.  Kan players must always keep this trick in mind. 16. Qxe5 Qxe5 17. Rxe5 Rad8! and white is caught in a set of lethal pins, since 18. Rxc5 bxc5 does not help!  Seattle wins the game and the match!

Going back, 12…O-O 13. Kh1 allows black to realize his principle idea with 13…Rad8! and the game is level!

Conclusion:  black can achieve the R to d8 “method” to hold up e4-e5 in this white setup but must be wary of move-order tricks and traps.

Overall conclusion:  the Sicilian Kan lives!

The Fabulous 60s: Dr. Neil McKelvie on Arnold Denker

June 13, 2008

MG Note: This guest article by Dr. Neil McKelvie, long-time MCC official and Professor of Chemistry at CCNY, was originally a comment on my 1989 Manhattan Chess Club Championship post.

McKelvie-Denker : Lasker-esque Psychology

Here from memory – is a wild game by me vs. Arnold Denker, against whom I had a plus score of 3-2 (FURIOUSLY denied by Arnold, until I provided the details! He didn’t like to lose!)

Manhattan championship – year??
Neil McKelvie – Arnold Denker
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4.N:d4 a6 5. Nc3 Qc7
6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 MG Note: We now know 7. Nxc6!

7…Nf6 8. Qe2(?) Bd6 9. g3??!
This is a truly awful move – but played deliberately! Denker, as I knew from long experience, was prone to overconfidence, and this made him smile happily! (A real Patzer move!!) White’s white-sqiare weakness will be very bad. MG: This was a typical Emmanuel Lasker ploy! In this case, the move isn’t *that* bad.

Position after the “lemon” 9. g3 (It isn’t that bad)

9…N:d4 10.B:d4 e5 11.Be3 Bb4 12.O-O! B:c3 13 bc O-O? (…d6! and White has a miserable position)

14, Bg5 Qc6 15. f4 ef! 16. e5 f3!

Position after 16…f3!? Both sides are swinging for the fences.

Addendum by McKelvie 4/9/09:
“After Denker’s f3….I “should” have taken on f3 with my Queen! Then …Q:f3 is forced, I think; R:f3; if then …Ng4; Be7 Re8; Bd6 N:e5; Re3 f6; Bc4 Kh8; Bf7  wins the exchange, right? Other lines; White seems to have a “winning: game, with two B’s and a B position suffering from acute constipation!
Cheers – Neil McKelvie”

17 R:f3 Ng4
Thinking that the W e-pawn will be lost…..

18.Be7 Re8 19.Bd6
Denker intended 19…N:e5 20 B:e5 d6, but then looked, and saw 21. B:h7+
IF 21…K:h7 22, Qd3+ Kg8? 23. B:g7! K:g7 24. R:f7+! K:f7 and White wins in all variations. This would not work without Black’s 4…a6 and 14…..Qc6, because one variation is 24 Qh7+ Ke6 25.Re1+ Kd5 26. Qd3+ Kc5 27. Qd4+ Kb5 28. Qb4++
However; B should play 22…f5. 23. R+f5 can lead to a draw by perpetual check, but no more. I planned 23. Bd4. Denker thought this was bad for him, at least cosmetically, but his W. Bishop is equally frightening. Maybe both sides are losing! I haven’t had the nerve to give this position to a computer.

Denker played, after L O N G thought, 19……b5? (Why do so many long thinks lead to chessic mental paralysis and a blunder?)
20.Qe4! Q:e4 21.B:e4 Ra722.Bd5 Nh6 23.Raf1

Position after 23. Raf1.  Denker is Toast.

23…Re6 (threat was 24 R:f7!)
24.B:e6 de 25.c4 bc 26.Rc3 Bd7 27.Rb1 f5 28.Bb8 Ra8 29.R:c4 Nf7 30.Rb7 Nd8 31.R:d7 R:b8 32.Rcc7 Resigns 1-0

Denker, Club Member X, Organic Chemistry, and a Playboy Bunny

Finally, a very funny Manhattan Chess Club story, again involving Denker.

Year: 1966 or 1967? A young lady appeared in my Organic Chemistry lecture (”J.” ;) She had worked as a Bunny in the Playboy Club, and had adopted that style of dressing, minus the ears, for everyday use, It wasn’t exactly usual then to see a young blonde lady wearing a see-through blouse and no underwear, and very short shorts. Of course, *I* received full voltage! (She asked another girl, since this didn’t seem to work, “Is he Gay?” “No; he has a young and very pretty wife! You are wasting your time!)

So, she got friendly with one of my PhD students, who was doing the exam grading. She said to me, “David tells me you are a chess master”. “Yes.” “David has been teaching me to play” (??!!) “Can I see you play Chess?”

Inspiration! Denker had a keen appreciation of the ladies. “Can you come to the Manhattan Chess Club in the Henry Hudson Hotel this Sunday at 2 pm? I’m playing former US Champion Arnold Denker. However, please stand behind me when I’m playing so that I don’t get distracted!” “I can come, but I’ll be dressed for a date. Won’t this be too much for a Chess Club” (If they are playing Chess, they’ll never notice you!!”

Denker sat up in his chair and his eyes goggled. Shortly after, he made a mistake, and I was a pawn up with a good position. At this point Club Member X came in. He had listed his non-Chess occupation as “sex consultant” (I assume this could have meant “pimp” but I kept my
thoughts to myself… ;) He saw me talking to “J”. “Is she a friend of yours?” “Not exactly; she is a student in my class,” (Is it OK if I talk to her?” “None of my business, but she is with her date.”

10 minutes later… “J” was playing with her date, with our hero Club Member X practically draped over her. I was so fascinated by the human drama going on behind me that *I* blundered!!
Eventually Denker won.
Next day. “J”: “I don’t think I like Chess that much. Who was that creep?”

Next Sunday’s round, our hero “X” gave me his business card.
“Can you give this to that very lovely young lady? I think I could really teach her a lot!!”

The Fabulous 00s 2007: The Continental Open

August 16, 2007

Sturbridge, Massachusetts is pleasant in August. There’s Echo Lake, outdoor taverns, and the usual New England whatnot. So I journeyed up to one of the indefatigable Bill Goichberg’s events, the 37th Annual Continental Open.

Here are some crazy G/1 hr. games I played.

Elizabeth Vicary – Mark Ginsburg Round 1, Continental Open 2007

Sicilian 2…e6 3. b3!?

Elizabeth arrived a little late for the board which is always a handicap in a G/1 hour match. That’s how I lost to GM Akobian. The moral is to avoid it if possible (she had car problems which are hard to “refute”). I was late in the Akobian (Las Vegas) game simply by being in a long coffee line in the verdammt Bally’s hotel. This game features incredible variations with most perplexing piece placements (alliteration!) that remained behind the scenes.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. b3!? b6!? 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. O-O Bb7 6. Re1 Nge7 This looks like the best; when the knight gets to g6 it eyes the tender f4 spot.


7. Bb2 Ng6 8. Na3 Be7!? 9. Nc4!? Of course white can grab the pawn with 9. Bxg7, but in a fast game it’s not so much fun. Black will play 9. Bxg7 Rg8 10. Bh6 (awkward but necessary to prevent knight jumps to f4) 10…Qb8 with good prospects for kingside counter-action.

9…O-O 10. c3?!

Here, 10. e5!? is sensible to gain space and thematic and 10. a4 is perfectly good too. The text is self-blocking. On second thought, 10. e5 isn’t so great: 10…Nf4! and now if 11. Bf1 f6! seems fine, or if 11. Be4 then 11…f5!. So I will leave myself recommending 10. a4.

10…d5 11. exd5 exd5 11…Qxd5 12. Be4 Qd7 is OK but approximately equal.

12. Ne3! 12. Nce5? Ncxe5 13. Nxe5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5 Bd6 is clearly good for black.

12…Re8 13. Bc2? The only way to justify the 10th move is by playing 13. Bxg6! hxg6 14. d4! with good chances for equality.

13…d4! By far the best move. In fact, it was stronger than I realized at the time.

14. cxd4


14…Nb4!? A very tricky and interesting try, but black had the stronger and rather obvious 14… Nxd4! and after 15. Nxd4 cxd4 16. Nf5 d3! wins, using the motif of dividing the board in two to build up a decisive initiative. White has to play 17. Bb1 undeveloping the queenside and gets in a losing bind. This I had not appreciated. Play can continue 17…Qd5 18. Ne3 Qg5! and everything is happening with gain of tempo. White defends with 19. g3 (19. Bxd3 Nf4 loses) and then black continues the attack with 19… Nh4 20. f4 Qg6 21. Kf2 Nf3 22. Rh1 Bc5 23. a3 Nxd2! and wins in a gruesome finale.

15. Bb1 Nf4! 15… Bf6 is less strong – 16. a3 Nc6 17. Bxg6 hxg6 18. Qc2 Nxd4 19. Nxd4 Bxd4 20. Bxd4 cxd4 21. Nf1 and white holds on.

16. Ne5? Strongest here is 16. dxc5! and now there’s a funny variation. Black might fall into 16…Nfd3? (16…bxc5! is reliable; 16…Nbd3!? is probably somewhat worse due to the in-between move 17. c6!) 17. Ne5! Nxe1?? (white is on top anyway, but this loses) 18. Bxh7+!! winning in all variations. 18…Kxh7 (witness 18… Kf8 19. Qh5! Bd5 20. Nxd5 Qxd5 21. Qxf7+! Qxf7 22. Nd7 mate! – a savage and really unusual finale that deserves a diagram, see next!)


Position after 22. Nd7 mate – analysis

19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Qxf7+ Kh7 21. Qg6+ Kg8 22. Nf5! Bf6 23. Nh6+ Kh8 24. Nef7 mate. It’s strange how white gets a crushing attack seemingly out of nowhere in this line.

16… cxd4? The optically somewhat ugly 16… f6! is surprisingly strong and leaves black with a big plus in the mutual dance of the knights. For example, 17. N5c4 Nfd3. The text gives white a hidden way out.

17. Nf5 This move is not good, but not as bad as I thought at the time. I thought 17. Qg4! was forced and now 17…dxe3 18. Qxf4 holds for white although it looks at first glance very precarious. For example, 18…Bf6 19. Rxe3 Nd5 20. Qf3 Nxe3 21. Bxh7+! Kxh7 (Not 21…Kf8 22. Ba3+! Re7 23. Qxb7! Nd5 24. Nd7+ Ke8 25. Nxf6+ gxf6 26. Qc6+ Kf8 27. Be4! with a total rout) 22. Qh5+ with a perpetual check mechanism for the draw.

17… Bf6 The move does win, but tricks remain.

18. Qg4? Now black really does win easily with an extra piece. But white had 18. Bxd4 Nxg2 and now the strange tactical lunge 19. Qh5!! for excellent tricks in time trouble. Look at this for a moment.


Position after 19. Qh5!! (Analysis)

This is a really unique situation. It’s not even easy to see white’s threats, but they are real. White cannot play, by the way, the passive 19. Re2? Nh4 20. Nxh4 Bxd4 as the bishop on d4 hangs and Qg5+ is threatened. But after 19. Qh5 things are very strange. First of all, 19…g6 20. Nh6+! Kf8 21. Bxg6!! is an amazing resource. It deserves another diagram.


This shocking blow makes the game very weird and unclear. Taking it further leads into crazier and crazier tactical complications. Let’s try: 21…Nxe1 (much weaker is 21…hxg6 22. Nxg6 hxg6 23. Qxg6 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Bd5 25. Bxf6 wins for white) 22. Bf5! Re7 23. Qg4 Bg7 24. Nd7+ Ke8 25. Nf6+ Kf8 26. Nxh7+ Ke8 27. Qxg7 Nf3+ 28. Kg2 Nxd4+ 29. Kh3! and wins. But I would be amiss if I didn’t point out the hilarious variation 29. f3? Re2+ 30. Kf1 (Amazingly 30. Kh3?? gets clobbered to 30…Rxh2+!! 31. Kxh2 Nxf3+ 32. Kh3 (or 32. Kg2 Qxd2+ and wins) Qh4+ 33. Kg2 Qh2+ 34. Kf1 Nxd2+ 35. Ke1 Nf3+ 36. Kf1 Ba6+! 37. Bd3 Bxd3 mate!) Qd6!! (a phenomenal defensive and offensive resource) 31. Nf6+ Ke7 32. Qxf7+ Kd8 33. Qxb7 Rf2+!!! (Black’s turn to find a shocking resource!) Let’s look at this:


Position after 33…Rf2+!!! (Analysis)

What a move. If it actually occurred OTB, it would make the pantheon of shocking coups. First of all, white cannot get cute and decline: 34. Ke1?? Qe5+ mates, for example 35. Qe4 Nd3+ 36. Kd1 Rf1 and mate. Similar mates occur on other interpositions on e4. And 34. Kg1?? Qxh2 is also mate. So white must accept: 34. Kxf2 Qxh2+ 35. Ke3 Qe5+ 36. Qe4 Nbc2+ 37. Kd3 Nb4+ and let’s catch our breath here for another analysis diagram. We’re almost at the end of this incredible trail.


Position after 37…Nb4+ (Analysis)

What a fantastic position! Both sides have been ignoring each other for many moves and somehow equal chances are the result. Now we have two lines. In one, 38. Ke3 Nbc2+ 39. Kf2 Qh2+ with an amazing perpetual, or the hara-kiri attempt 38. Kc3?? Ne2 double check 39. Kxb4 Qc5+ 40. Ka4 Qa5 mate! Such a high intensity of tactics for so long! Note also, of course, 38. Kc4?? Qc5 mates immediately.

Let’s go back to the start of this analysis possibility after 19. Qh5. The best sequence for black is 19…Rxe5! 20. Rxe5 g6! (20…Nc6?? 21. Rd5! Qxd5 22. Nh6+ uncovering queen on queen attack) 21. Qh6! Qxd4! (21…Nc6 22. Rd5! Nxd4! 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Nxd4 Rxd4 should win for black, but it’s scary in G/1) 22. Nxd4 Bxe5 (this queen sac is actually good for black but pitfalls remain) 23. Nf5!! and now not 23…Bxa1?? and this greedy move is dramatically punished: 24. Ne7+ Kh8 25. Nxg6+! fxg6 26. Bxg6 and white mates with very little material left! The final nail in the coffin would be 23…Re8! and black does in fact win after 24. d4 Bxd4 due to back rank problems, but in G/1 the reader can clearly see how insane this all is. The complications exceed a dozen “normal games” and it’s anyone’s guess what would happen in mutual time trouble.

The game concluded prosaically with black retaining the extra piece while simplifying.

18…Rxe5 19. Rxe5 Bxe5 20. a3 h5! 21. Nh6+ Kf8 22. Qf5 Qf6 23. axb4 gxh6 24. Qxf6 Bxf6 25. f3 h4 26. Be4 Bxe4 27. fxe4 Be5 0-1

The behind the scenes variations were really quite astounding!

Here’s Round 2 vs GM Ildar Ibragimov.

GM Ildar Ibragimov – IM Mark Ginsburg, Continental Open Round 2

Gruenfeld Defense, 4. h4!? sideline

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 I don’t normally play the Gruenfeld but if I knew in advance my opponent would play a sideline, I would definitely try it more often. The only way to kill the beast, I think, is 4. cxd5. Or, white can try to bore black to death with 4. Nf3.

4. h4!?


4…c6! A solid and good response to white’s impertinent sideline that was actually featured in a recent NIC “SOS” booklet.

5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Bf4 Bg7 7. e3 Nc6 8.Nf3

Believe it or not, Manuel Bosboom tried the crazy 8. h5?!! here versus Ivan Sokolov, Leewarden 1997. That game continued 8…O-O (black declines, why?) 9. hxg6 hxg6 10. Nf3 with some white edge, although he was outplayed by the strong GM playing black. If 8…Nxh5 9. Bh2, white has some nebulous compensation but it hardly looks enough.

8…O-O 9. Bd3 Bf5! 10. Bxf5 gxf5 Black has completely equalized.

11. Qb3 Qd7 12. Rc1 e6 13. h5 Ne4 14. h6 Bf6 15.Nxe4?! Black had no problems, but this move actually gives black a plus. Better would be 15. Rc2 or 15. Ne2 or even 15. O-O waiting.

15…fxe4 16. Ne5 This is the first critical moment of the game. How does black remove the knight?


16…Nxe5? Completely strategically wrong! Much stronger was 16… Bxe5 17. dxe5 f6! (underestimated by me) 18. exf6 Rxf6 19. Bg3 Raf8 and black has an obvious edge. 17. Bxe5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 f6! is also good for black. The text gives white a simple to play space advantage and is a really weak choice in light of the strength of the other recapture.

17. dxe5 Be7 18. O-O Rac8 19. f3 exf3 20. Rxc8 Qxc8 21. Rxf3 Kh8 22. Rg3 Rg8 23. Rxg8+ Kxg8 24. e4! Fortunately black can survive this strong shot although he is definitely worse.

24…Kf8 25. exd5 Qc5+ 26. Kh2 Qxd5 27. Qc2 Bg5! A tactical trick to stay afloat despite white’s annoying threats against the h7 pawn.


28. Qc8+ Of course, 28. Bxg5? Qxe5+! picks up the bishop next.

28…Qd8 29. Qc5+ Qe7 30. Qe3 Bxf4+ 31. Qxf4 Ke8 32. Kh3 Qf8 33. Qf6? 33. b4! keeps an edge. The text lets black’s queen get active and I escape.

33…Qc5 34. Qh8+ Ke7 35. Qxh7 Qe3+! An important intermediary move to soften up white’s king position before munching on e5. The game is now clearly drawn.

36. g3 Qxe5 37. Qg7 Qh5+ With a simple perpetual. Agreed drawn. A lucky escape and my first draw vs Ildar after two prior reverses.




The Fabulous 70 Part 12: The Kan Klassics

July 27, 2007

In 1978 I undertook to play Eugene Meyer in Washington DC (I believe at his house on Jennifer Street, NW) a 6-game match since both of us liked to play the Kan Sicilian (aka the Modern Paulsen) which goes 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4. N:d4 a6. Nowadays GM Serper likes this line a lot too, scoring a nice last-round win over Becerra in the National Open 2007; GM Svidler has tried it out as well to good effect, for example in his thematic win vs GM Naiditsch.

Here is a photo of Eugene Meyer (date, location, and photographer unknown as of this writing).


And now the first game of my unrated E. Meyer match. And quite a wild first game it turned out to be.

M. Ginsburg – Eugene Meyer 5/1/78 Time control 40/2

Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. c4 d6 8. Nc3 g6!? Extremely provocative especially since white has not yet committed to Be3. White now hurries to place the bishop where it can attack the weakened dark squares.

9. Bg5 Bg7 10. Qd2 White can try 10. Kh1!? with the idea of f2-f4.

10…h6 11. Bh4 Nbd7 12. f4 [14] g5! [22] Wow. A typical Eugene Meyer move. And it works!


13. fxg5 hxg5 13…Ng4! is good here.

14. Qxg5 Bh6 Black is OK here. White now embarks on a crazed sacrificial attack but it’s not good for more than equality.


15. Nxe6!? 15. Qg3 is the sane choice, for example 15…Qc5 16. Qf2.

15…Qb6+ 16. c5 Forced. The position is extremely bizarre.

16…dxc5 17. Nd5! The only move to keep chances balanced.


17…Nxd5 18. Ng7+! See prior comment.

18…Bxg7 19. Qxg7 Rxh4 20. Qg8+ White also has the try 20. exd5!? here. Black responds with the clever 20…c4+ 21. Rf2 Qd4! and stands slightly better.

20…Ke7 21. Rxf7+ Kd6 22. Qg3+? White goes wrong after finding a series of only moves. Correct was 22. cxd5! with the following crazy variation: 22…c4+ 23. Kh1 Qxb2 24. Re1 cxd3 25. Qg3+ Ne5 26. Rf6+ Kc5 27. Qxh4 d2 28. Rd1 Bg4 29. Qf2+ Qd4 30. Qxd4+ Kxd4 31. Rxd2 with an equal game! Such a high intensity of tactics is rare in such a long line.

22…Nf4 23. Bc4? A further miscue after which it’s hopeless. Necessary was 23. Bf1 and after, for example, 23…Qd8 protecting the rook on h4, white has 24. Rxf4 Rxf4 25. Qxf4+ Kc6 26. Rd1 continuing the fight. Even so, black keeps some edge.

23…Qxb2! Of course.This impudent pawn grab simply wins for black. He has time to coordinate his forces and get his king to safety.

24. Rd1+ Kc6 25. Rxf4 Rxf4 26. Qxf4 Qe5 27. Qf7 Kb6 28. Bd5 Ka7 The black king finds a haven and white could have given up very safely now. For no particular reason (sour grapes at letting ‘the big attack’ fizzle?) I toddle on a bit.

29. a4 Nb6 30. a5 Nxd5 31. exd5 Rb8 32. h3 Bf5 33. d6 Bc2 34. Rd5 Qe1+ 35. Kh2 Bb3 36. Qc7 Bxd5 37. Qxc5+ Ka8 38. Qxd5 Rd8 39. g4 Re8 0-1


Finally I resign.  As a matter of fact, I think at this point I failed to arrange for any more match games. This lesson was not lost on me; I improved my play in a very similar opening to beat GM Dzindzihashvili in the Chicago Open December 1979. But first I had to try it out from the black side. This happened in the following interesting game versus NM Alan Pollard in a telephone match (National Chess League), two days after the above game on May 3rd, 1978.

National Chess League (telephone match)

Alan Pollard, LA (2373) – Mark Ginsburg (Washington Plumbers), 2353.

Sicilian Kan 40/1, then 20 moves in 30 minutes, then adjourn

The rapid time control was not so rapid. There were extreme delays as “runners” on both teams relayed moves made on the board to the phone operators. Sometimes games had to be reset a couple of moves due to relay error! Ah, the days before the Internet!

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. Be3 d6 8. c4 Nbd7 9. Nc3 b6 10. f4 Be7 11. Rc1 g6 12. b4 O-O 13. a3 Re8 14. Qf3 Bb7 15. Qh3 Bf8 16. Nf3 Here white has the very dangerous 16. f5!? but black can hold on after 16…exf5 17. exf5 Ne5 18. Be2 Bg7 19. fxg6 hxg6 20. Bh6 Bh8 21. Qh4 Ned7.

16… Bg7 17. Bd4 Rac8 18. Qh4 Qd8 19. Rce1 White’s play is a little incoherent over the past few moves and black now has a good game.


19…e5 A completely valid and solid defense is 19… Nh5! 20. Bxg7 Qxh4 defusing the situation. Then, 21. Nxh4 Nxg7 22. Na4 e5 23. f5 g5 24. Nf3 h6 25. Rd1 Red8 is simply equal. The text is trying for more.

20. fxe5 Nxe5 21. Bxe5! It looks strange to give up the bishop, but it’s the best move here.

21…dxe5 22. Rd1 Qe7? 22…Nh5! was far superior with only a small disadvantage.

23. Qf2 Ng4?! It’s unsound to give up the b6 pawn, but white has to find the refutation – no easy task in a 40/1 game.

24. Qxb6 Bh6 25. Rfe1? White stumbles badly. He had the crushing 25. c5! Be3+ 26. Kh1 Rc6 27. Qa5 Nf2+ 28. Rxf2 Bxf2 29. Nd5 and black is not long for this world. Similarly, 25…Ne3 26. Bxa6 is also decisive. The move 25. c5! is obvious once one sees that losing the exchange is not a big deal with the queenside pawns ready to roll and the d5 square available for the WN on c3.

25…Rc6 26. Qa7 Rc7 27. Qb6 A sample alternative here is 27. Kh1 Bxe4 28. Qg1 Bxd3 29. Nd5 Qd6 30. Nxc7 Qxc7 31. Rxd3 Qxc4 32. Rd4 Qc8 33. Rxg4 Qxg4 34. Nxe5 with a level game.

27… Rc6 28. Qa7 Rf6!? Bravely avoiding the repetition draw. Of course it’s a thin line between brave and foolhardy.


29. Nd5 Bxd5 30. Qxe7 Rxe7 31. cxd5 Be3+ 32. Kf1 Bf2 33. Re2? The logical 33. Rc1! gives white a substantial edge.


33…Ne3+?! This move is a little craven and also not very good. 33… Bd4!? is another and better way to try to bottle white up. Then, 34. Ke1 Bc3+ 35. Nd2 Bd4 36. Rc1 Bf2+ 37. Kd1 Ne3+ 38. Rxe3 Bxe3 39. Rc8+ Kg7 40. Nc4 Bd4 41. Na5 Rf2 42. Bxa6 Rxg2 43. Bb5 is good for white but difficult to see over the board.

34. Rxe3 Superior was 34. Kxf2! Nxd1+ 35. Ke1 leaving white with an edge.

34…Bxe3 35. Ke2 Ba7 36. Rc1 Rd6 37. Rc8+ Kg7 38. Nd2 Bd4 39. Nc4 Rf6! Black is just in time to generate serious counterplay on the f-file.

40. d6 Rd7 At this stage, both players got 30 more minutes for the next 20 moves. keep in mind the very long telephone relay-delay. Effectively, it was more like 45 minutes of thinking time for the next 20 moves.

41. a4? A very bad blunder. 41. Bc2!, with the idea of Bc2-a4, liquidates the game into a drawn ending after the inevitable Rdxf6 or Rfxd6. 41. Ne3 was also safe and completely equal.

41…Rf2+ Black is now winning but it will take some calculation to bring the point home, not an easy task at this time control.

42. Kd1 Rxg2 43. b5 axb5 44. axb5 Rxh2 [69] The complete destruction of white’s kingside should have been decisive.

45. Rc7 Rd8 46. d7


46…Ra2? Black in turn fumbles the ball. Of course I can play 46… h5 but after 47. b6 Ra8 48. Bb1 the position is murky. The winning move, by no means easy, was 46…g5! In that case, white’s desperate counter-measures with 47. Nd6 are simply ignored! 46…g5 47. Nd6 g4! 48. Nb7 g3!! 49. Nxd8 g2 50. Ne6+ Kh6 and wins – an exceptionally nice variation. This is a good example of where concrete calculation can bring the point home – although …g5 is on the surface ugly (giving the f5 square to white’s knight) – the poor position of the WK means that the g-pawn can safely rush up. The specter of white’s advancing passed pawns must have caused this panic reaction.

47. b6 Raa8 [79] This incredibly passive sequence, transferring an active rook on the 7th rank to a passive location on the first rank, is of course by no means a winning attempt. White is now totally OK again. This crazy see-saw game is once again in balance.

48. b7 Rab8 49. Rc8 h5 If 49… f6 50. Nd6! forcing 50…Ba7 and black is not really getting anywhere.

50. Na5 [83] Bb6 51. Nc4 Bd4 52. Ke2 g5 53. Na5 Bb6 54. Nc6 Rxb7 55. Nxd8 Rxd7 56. Nc6 Rc7! The easiest way to steer for a draw and an end to this nutty game before any unfortunate accidents occur.

57. Rxc7 Bxc7 58. Ne7 g4 59. Kf2 Kh6 [89] 60. Kg3 [88] Kg5 At this stage, my scorepad indicates the game was adjudicated (?). However it must have been declared drawn as well – neither side can do anything.


Here were the final match results. The Andersson-Peters game was funny. Andersson was led into our venue, the tiny chess shop in Georgetown (was it called ‘It’s Your Move’?), and his clock read 4:59. I think he was in town for his Volvo exhibition match versus GM Lubosh Kavalek (Kavalek won that match easily – the match took place in a Volvo dealership showroom!). Ulf thought it was G/1 Minute (!!) game and started bashing out moves in his pet …Nf6 Nxf6+ exf6 Caro Kann. On move 15, he noticed others were thinking and he then realized it was actually a 40 moves in an hour game! He then slowed down just a tiny bit and won an ending (of course, starting in an equal position) effortlessly vs IM John (Jack) Peters. I really need to find that game-score. Our team won by the narrowest of margins thanks especially to the 2 Meyer Brothers.

Washington Plumbers Result Los Angeles
GM Ulf Andersson 1 IM John Peters
IM Mark Diesen 0 Julius Loftsson
Mark Ginsburg Adjourned and … 1/2 Alan Pollard
Eugene Meyer Adjourned and … 1 Kent
Steve Odendahl 0 S Jones
John Meyer 1 Tibor Weinberger

The Classic 70s Part 9 – Pan-Ams

July 9, 2007

Every year brought a new Pan-Am Intercollegiate adventure.

In 1977, it happened to be in St. Louis. I had not played my freshman year (why not?) and I was now a sophomore. On my squad was Ken Regan (a freshman), who won 1st board prize and went on to earn an IM title (and become a Math Prof at SUNY Buffalo) and Steve Strogatz (who wound up being an Applied Math Prof (!!) at Cornell) won Top Alternate. I played Board 2 for Princeton; we wound up equal 2nd behind U. Penn and the Costigans.

Here are some crazy games from the event.

Round 6

K. Mohr (Illinois Tech ‘A’, 1846) – M. Ginsburg (Princeton Univ, 2255)

Board 2, Sicilian Kan

I include this game for some amazing middle-game tactics that remained behind the scenes.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. c4 d6 8. Nc3 Nbd7 9. Be3 b6 10. Rc1 Bb7 11. Kh1 Nc5 12. f3 Nxd3 13. Qxd3

Needless to say, black is happy gaining the two bishops but the task of making progress and winning lies ahead.

13…Be7 14. b3 O-O 15. Bg1 Rfe8 16. Nc2 Nd7 17. Ne3 Bf8 18. Rfd1 Rad8 19. b4 Qb8 20. a3 Nf6 21. Bf2 Nh5?! 22. Nf1 Nf4 The knight really can’t do that much.

23. Qd2 d5? And this is crazily too optimistic.

24. exd5 exd5 25. Bxb6 d4?

A ridiculous “combination”. 25… Rc8 26. cxd5 Nxd5 27. Nxd5 Bxd5 28. Rxc8 Rxc8 29. Bc5 Bxc5 30. Qxd5 Bb6 is much better for white but a sane alternative to the text that should lose. Youth players often embark on irrational flights of fancy.

26. Bxd8 dxc3


27. Rxc3? White misses the obvious 27. Qd7 Re2 28. Rxc3 Rxg2 29. Bc7! Qa7 30. c5! (cold shower!) cutting off the diagonal and winning.

27… Re2 28. Qd7 Qe5 29. Rcd3?

29. Rcc1? Rxg2 30. Qxb7 Qe2! amazingly forces mate! If 31. Rd2 Bc5!! is really an incredible shot. 31…Nh3? is too soon due to 32. Bb6, but 31…Bc5!! is a fantastic interference theme to make the line work.


Position after 31…Bc5!! (Analysis).

There follows 32. bxc5 Nh3!! and no matter how white twists and turns, he is mated. The finish position after accepting the queen offer 33. Rxe2 Rg1 mate is very nice. A phenomenally unusual tactic. Keep this in mind, it will recur!

White also had 29. Qd4! Qxd4 30. Rxd4 Rf2 31. Ng3 Rb2 32. Rd1 Nxg2 33. c5 winning, or 29. Re3! Rxe3 30. Bc7! Qc3 31. Nxe3 Qxe3 32. Bxf4 Qxf4 33. Qxb7 winning. Both these lines are nice and convincing.

29… Rxg2 30. Qxb7 Nxd3?

Black misses again the amazing 30… Qe2! 31. R3d2 Bc5!! with the incredible mating motif. Once again, 32. bxc5 Nh3 is the shot that mates: 33. Ng3 (33. Rxe2? Rg1 mate) 33… Rxh2 mate.


31. Qe4?? White blunders and loses, but here 31. f4 Qd4 32. Kxg2 Nxf4+ 33. Kf3 Qxd1+ 34. Kxf4 Qxf1+35. Qf3 Bd6+ 36. Ke3 Qxc4 37. h3 h6 is also very bad for him and black should win eventually. In addition, 31. Rxd3 loses horribly to 31…Qe2! hitting the Knight on f1 which cannot move. There follows 32. Rd1 Qf2! (the creeping motif threatening the mate on g1) and black mates.

31… Nf2+ 32. Kxg2 Nxe4 33. fxe4 Qxe4+ 34. Kf2 Qxc4 0-1

In this round we swept Illinois Tech 4-0 so it helped us rise back up in the leaderboard (we had lost ignominiously, 1-3, to Ohio State “B” (!!) in the first round, with Ken Regan taking an inexplicable rest. I was the only victor).


Round 7.

M. Ginsburg (Princeton, 2255) – T. Costigan (U. Penn, 2269) 45/2

Historical sidenote: in the earlier round 3, I had contrived to lose to R. Stoy (1834) (!!) from the Penn “B” Squad (!!). I was the only hapless loser as we won that match 3-1. I would go on to play Tom Costigan in the 1978 US Junior Invitational which is reported elsewhere on this site.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 g6 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bg7 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. Be3 Ne8?! [17] 10. Rc1 Nc7 11. Qd2 [12] Nxd4 [42] 12. Bxd4 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 Ne6 14. Qe3 Bd7 15. Nd5 [20]

Having done nothing special, white has a big edge.

15…Bc6 [55] 16. Rc3! [22] Preparing a rook lift that is a common motif in these structures.

16…Kh8 17. f4 Ng7 18. f5! Bxd5 19. Qh6! [41]

Typical of the Maroczy, sometimes white can switch to direct attack. Black’s position is now hopeless.

19…Qb6+ 20. Kh1 Qxb2 There was nothing else to try but white has a convincing winning line now.

21. Rh3 Nh5 22. fxg6 Qg7 23. Qxh5 [64] Bxe4 24. Qxh7+ Qxh7 25. Rxh7+ Kg8 26. Rhxf7 Rxf7 [104] 27. gxf7+

This ending poses no problems for me to convert.

27…Kg7 28. Bh5 [80] Rh8 29. Rf4 Kf8 [106] 30. Bf3 Bxf3 31. Rxf3 Rh7 32. g4 Rxf7 33. Rxf7+ Kxf7 34. Kg2 a6 35. a4 e6 36. a5 Kf6 37. h4 Kg6 38. Kf3 Kh6 39. g5+ 1-0

This was to no avail, as we lost this key match 1 1/2 – 2 1/2. I have no record of how Ken Regan fared on Board 1 in this match.

Let’s move ahead four years and show a funny picture from the 1981 Pan-Am.


This picture was a bunch of guys pretending to be on a team and winning the actual first-place trophy. But it was only a staged photo.

From left to right standing, Jon Schroer, me, Steve Odendahl, and Eric Tall.  A very historic and nonsensical photo!

Sitting: a young Michael Wilder.




Sicilian Kan, 5. Bd3

June 17, 2007

My young opponent scared GM Korchnoi in the first round, almost scoring an upset win. The crafty veteran found a way to swindle a draw by reaching R vs R+f-pawn+h-pawn.

NM Gurbauzade – IM M. Ginsburg, National Open Las Vegas, NV, 2007. Round 3.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qb6!? A good idea to chase away the centralized white knight.

6. Nb3 6.c3 is seen sometimes but is not particularly scary. 6…Qc7 7. O-O Nf6 8. f4 d6 9. c4 Nbd7 10. Be3 b6 11. Nc3 Bb7 12. a4!? Nc5


13. Nxc5?! I would prefer the more consistent 13. a5. The text makes the pawn on a4 look a little silly.

13…bxc5 14. Qf3 Be7 15. Qg3 g6 16. h3 Rd8 17. Qf2 Nd7 18. Bc2 Bf6 19. Rad1 O-O 20. Rd3 Bg7 21. Rfd1 Nb8


Both sides are playing consistently. White has espied a weak black pawn on d6, and black sees a weak square to occupy on d4. The chances are balanced.

22. Qd2 Nc6 23. Rxd6 Nd4 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Kh1 Bf6 Black has full compensation. 26. Bd3 Bc6 27. e5 Bh4 28. Bf2 Nf5 29. Qe1 Bxf2 30. Qxf2 Qb7 31. Bxf5 Rxd1+ 32. Nxd1 gxf5 33. Nc3 Qb4 34. Qh4!? An interesting try.


The game reaches a critical moment. White has many weak pawns and black is threatening to invade and attack the white king with the powerful Queen and unopposed bishop duo, but black has to worry about an open king and being temporarily a pawn down.

34…Qxb2? An incorrect decision in that the game ends in an immediate draw. As so often happens, positional considerations (removing the b2 support of white’s knight) are overshadowed by tactical ones. Much better would have been 34…Qxc4! restoring the material balance in a different way and there is no forced draw. The game would continue with black having some chances to press using his superior minor piece. There is no perpetual check in the position because the black king can get to f8, with the idea of interposition of the bishop on e8 if need be.

35. Qd8+ Kg7 36. Qf6+ Kf8 37. Nd5! This is the simple resource black missed. It’s a perpetual check now. 37…exd5 38. Qh8+ Ke7 39. Qf6+ 1/2-1/2.


There is no way for black’s king to escape the checks since 39…Kd7? 40. Qd6+ is not possible.

A Misadventure with the Kan

June 12, 2007

National Open, Las Vegas, NV 2007. Round 5.

IM J. Friedel – IM M. Ginsburg

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3


5…Qc7 There is a school of thought that argues for the risky and provocative 5…b5!? here.

6. Bd3! By far the most dangerous line. 6. g3 Bb4 leads to a much quieter game. White’s idea is very simple: to castle, play in some order f2-f4, Bc1-d2, Qe2, Rae1, and aim for the space gaining and aggressive attacking try e4-e5. Knowing that this is fact is one of white’s ONLY ideas in this setup, black should devise a plan that defuses e4-e5.

6…Nf6 7. O-O Bc5!? Not a bad idea to drive the centralized knight away. However, keeping it there can help black in defusing the e4-e5 break! The reason being, when white plays Bc1-d2 (not guarding the N/d4), black in later positions can put a rook on the d-file. This effectively rules out e4-e5 until white repositions the knight with, e.g., Nd4-f3, but this isn’t convincing.

8. Nb3 Ba7? But this is wrong. Clearly correct is 8…Be7! helping to defend the king. This was played in the last round of the same tournament, Becerra-Serper, and black won! That game continued 9. f4 d6 10. Qf3 Nbd7 11. Bd2 b5 12. a4 (still theory) 12…b4 13. Na2 a5 14. Nd4 Bb7 15. Nb5 Qb8 and black was OK.

9. Bg5! d6 10. Bxf6! Very simple. White gets his pieces out very fast now and keeps the black king under pressure. Black has totally failed in his experiment already.

10…gxf6 11. Qg4! (Menacing 12. Qg7). 11…Ke7? A sorry move. Since it wasn’t forced, it is a blunder. Black would be better off sacking the h-pawn (assuming white wants to take it) in order to castle long and seek chances in a position with kings on opposite sides). Now it’s a one-sided game.

12. Qh4 Nc6 13. Kh1 h5 14. f4 Bd7 Black is really asking for it by his pointless play. White wastes no time in the punishment.

15. e5! dxe5 16. Ne4 Rh6 17. fxe5 Qxe5 18. Rae1 White’s play is straightforward and reminiscent of a one-sided simul game. Black has one last trick though.
18…Qxb2 I don’t see any other move.

19. c3 Rg8! This is the only thing left to try. Otherwise, white wins with a direct attack.

20. Re2 Rg4 21. Qxg4 hxg4 22. Rxb2 White probably thought he was just up a rook. However, black has some strange positional compensation with his advanced pawns, control of the a7-g1 diagonal and further creeping moves like Ne5, g3, or Bb8. And he even has two extra pawns here!

All of this was played very quickly. See the diagram for the scenario. Now black for no reason played his next quickly as well pretending everything is under control. A ridiculous decision! In a position like this, there are often hidden chances. It is time to take a big think!


What would you play as black?

22….f5? Wrong! This gives white a critical tempo to threaten a winning simplification. It is much trickier and better to invert the moves with 22…Ne5! hitting the white bishop and keeping f6-f5 in reserve. Black has several attacking ideas here and the game is not over yet. Black can make trouble with the bishop pair and especially the uncontested black-square bishop and the semi-cornered white king. One of the ideas later on is a pawn wedge with g3 and a follow-up of Ne5-g4. If white decides to put his knight on g3, then it is susceptible to Bb8 in many lines. Many a swiss system game has been rescued by a player staying alert to his chances. After the text, white keeps control by a key tempo and it really is all over.

23. Nec5 Of course. Only now did black realize that his intended 23…Ne5 is met by the obvious 24. Bxf5! giving back some material but depriving black of the all-important bishop pair. Continuing, 24. Bxf5 gxf5 25. Re2! with Nxd7 to follow wins very easily. Given this, black is properly mortified to realize he has no chances. 23…Be8 24. Re2 Bb8 25. Bxf5 Black can resign already. 25…Ne5 26. Rfe1 Kf6 27. Be4 g3 28. h3 Bb5 29. Re3 Ng4 I have no idea why I was still playing here. 30. Rf3+ Kg7 31. Bxb7 and black finally, mercifully, resigned.


A sad end to black’s attacking dreams. In a later installment, we’ll look at much more solid structures to deal with white’s attacking setup (Nc3, Bd3).