Archive for the ‘Sicilian Richter-Rauser’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 5 OOTW

October 1, 2009

USCL Week 5 Opening of the Week

The Foxy Rauser Deviation, as practiced by IM Albert Kapengut many times and also me at Lone Pine 1980.  Albert used it most recently on the NJKO USCL team to defeat IM M. Pasalic of the Chicago Blaze in USCL Week 5 action.  Let’s see the “historical game” first to gain perspective.  Interestingly, I was playing a typically well-prepared representative of the former Soviet Union and against this type of player, “eccentric” early deviations are not a surprise!

Mark Ginsburg – IM Vitaly Zaltsman Lone Pine 1980.  Sicilian Rauser, Foxy Deviation

In this tournament, held shortly before my 21st birthday, I was mired in disappointment and blunders with only a nice win over John Grefe to my credit in a “Lenderman-special” Neanderthal Ruy Lopez Cordel defense with an early Qd8-f6.  When I say “Lenderman-special” I mean that it has been tried by Lenderman and also it’s very bad. 🙂

It’s very funny to think that my “eccentric” Sicilian gambit in the Zaltsman game would resurface in a USCL game featuring veteran IM Albert Kapengut in his win over Chicago IM M. Pasalic. No wonder Zaltsman blitzed off his first 15 moves – it must be in Soviet academies!

1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Be3



White is being foxy (inviting black’s game response) and a little naive because this move is absolutely nothing theoretically.

6…Ng4 Tasty!  White gets what he wants!  This move aims for adventure and risk. Kapengut passes by this point in his brief annotations without comment.  But a serious argument must be made for the simple 6… e5!? aiming for Be6 and d5 liquidation.  7. Nb3 (7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Bc4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Qd3 Be6 11. Rad1 Ng4 12. Bd2 Qb6 13. Bb3 Nf6 and white has zero) 7… Be6 8. Qd2 (8. Be2 d5! 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 Qxd5 11. Qxd5 Bxd5
12. O-O O-O-O is totally level) 8… d5 9. exd5 Nxd5  and once again I do not see any edge.  In fact, I think Joel Benjamin played this way versus me in some tournament, once. 🙂 For example, 10. Nxd5 (10. O-O-O?  Bb4! 11. Bd3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 Qc7 13. Bc5 O-O-O! is just structurally horrible for white) 10… Qxd5 11. Qxd5 Bxd5 12. O-O-O O-O-O 13. c4 Be6 14. Rxd8+ Kxd8 15. Nc5 Bxc5 16. Bxc5 and white had zero in
Nakamura,H (2452)-Zilka,S (2182)/Oropesa del Mar 2001 although as you might guess Hikaru tricked his lower rated opponent in the ending .

Conclusion:  I don’t see anything wrong with 6. Be3 e5!? which takes the fun out of white’s schemes.

7. Bb5

See the comment suggestion for another playable move, 7. Bg5 — a minature Nakamura win over Fernandez in Bermuda 2002 that John Fernandez masochistically supplied.

7…Nxe3 8. fxe3 Bd7 9. Bxc6?! This is my choice in the Zaltsman game.

Due to black’s improvement on move 10 in my game, I think my move offers very little.

Kapengut chose the more foxy 9. O-O.  I will return to Kapengut’s choice after the Zaltsman game.

9… bxc6 10. O-O e6 (10… e5 {This logical move looks good!} 11. Qf3 f6 12. Nf5 g6 13. Ng3 Be7 and black was a little better and went on to win; Meszaros,A (2310)-Groszpeter,A (2495)/Hungary 1992/EXT 2000})

11. e5 If 11. Qf3 Qf6 12. Qe2 Qg5! makes sense and black stands well.

11… Be7 12. exd6 Bxd6 13. Ne4? A blunder but by this point white has very little.  13. Nf3 Qc7 14. Qd4 e5 15. Qh4 O-O 16. Ne4 f6 is not promising.

13… Bxh2+!  Ooopsie. Since I was young, I didn’t care about this blunder very much.  Sure enough, not too many moves later, Zaltsman was totally confused and white was winning! 🙂  I was completely amazed to see in the database a white win featuring this antique blunder of mine; Skjoldborg wound up winning vs. J. Christiansen, Copenhagen 2003, but of course it had nothing to do with this blunder. 🙂

14. Kh1 Qh4 15. Nf6+ gxf6 16. Nf3 Qg3 17. Nxh2 Rg8 18. Qe2 Rg6 19. Rf3 Qe5 20. Rd1 Rd8 The greedy 20… Rh6! 21. Rf4 Qxb2! 22. Rfd4 Rd8 23. Qd2 Qb7 and black should win.

21. Rh3 h6 22. e4 c5 Black is drifting!  Again 22… Qxb2.

23. Rhd3 Ke7 24. Nf3 Qc7 25. c4 Rgg8 26. e5! Ut-oh, white is asserting himself!

26…fxe5 27. Qxe5 Qxe5 28. Nxe5 Ba4 29. Rxd8 Rxd8 30. Rxd8 Kxd8 31. Nxf7+ Ke7 32. Nxh6 Bd1 33. Kh2 Kf6 34. Kg3 Ke5?

34… Be2 is a tougher try.  35. b3 Bd3 36. Kf4 Bb1 and the struggle continues. 

35. Nf7+ Kd4 36. Kf4 Kd3 37. g4 Kc2 38. b4 cxb4 39. c5 a5 40. c6 Be2 41. c7 Ba6 42. g5 a4 43. g6 b3 44. axb3 a3 45. g7 a2 46. g8=Q a1=Q 47. Qg6+ Kxb3 48. Qxe6+ Kc2 49. Nd6 Qf1+ 50. Ke5 Kc3 51. Ne4+ Kb4 52. Qb6+?

Here wa a nice win. 52. Qd6+! Ka5 53. Qa3+ Kb5 54. Qc5+ Ka4 55. Qb6; also winning was 52. Qe7+ Ka4 53. Nc5+ Kb5 54. Nxa6.

52… Qb5+ 53. Qxb5+ Kxb5 54. Kd6 Bc8 55. Nf6 Kb6 56. Nd5+ Kb7 57. Ke7 Bh3 58. Kd8 Kc6! I can’t break the blockade!  59. Nf4 Bg4 60. Ne2 Kd6 61. Nd4 Bh3 62. Nf3 Bg4 63. Ng5 Kc6 64. Nh7 Bh3 65. Nf6 Bf5 66. Ne8 Bh3 1/2-1/2

A titanic Lone Pine (in Death Valley, CA) Wild West blunderfest!

Now, back to the Kapengut game.

Recall 9. O-O was played in Kapengut-Pasalic.  The first interesting point: 9…g6 is less bad than prior evidence suggests.  It’s not good; just not losing. 🙂

9. O-O g6 10. Bxc6 bxc6 11. Qf3 f6 12. e5 dxe5 13. Nxc6 Qc8 14. Nxe5 fxe5 15. Qf7+ Kd8 16. Rad1 has been seen in practice, and in a prior game the losing 16…Kc7?? was played.    Far better is the clever 16… Bh6 and black has significant defensive resources.

The game went on 9. O-O e6 10. Bxc6 bxc6



The absolutely critical moment.   Kapengut played a move that leads to equal chances.

11. Qf3 Qf6 12. Qe2 and here Pasalic played the passive 12…Qd8? and white got the upper hand with a trick that is thematic for this variation, the e4-e5 break.  Much stronger is 12…Qg5! with the simple point of stopping white’s e4-e5 trick that occurred after 12…Qd8?.  As you might guess, 12…Qg5! has been seen in lots of games with decent black results.  From Kapengut’s own experience, after 13. Rf3 Qc5!? the game was about level but black managed to win eventually in Kapengut-Giorgadze 1969.  Alternatively 13.  Rf3 Be7 is also level and eventually drawn in Kapengut-A. Ivanov Minsk 1985.

Going back to move 11, the immediate break 11. e5!? is interesting and has been tried many times.   Recall I tried it in the Zaltsman game. 11…dxe5? 12. Qh5! is a big edge to white and 11…d5 12. Qf3 Qe7 13. b4! looks familiar with a white plus.

The correct move which took Vitaly about 10 microseconds to find is 11…Be7! 12. exd6 Bxd6 and it’s about equal.

The problem with 11. Qf3 is that it gave black that pesky improvement on move 12.  But the problem with 11. e5 is black has this “well known Soviet” equalizing technique.

Overall conclusion:  black can survive the 6…Ng4 adventure but again, 6…e5 looks simpler.

I would be interested to know reader experiences in this tricky line.



The Fabulous 70s: Boris Baczynskyj!

June 16, 2008

The chess world lost a nice guy in January of 2008 when Boris Baczynskyj passed away. See also a Chess Life obit by Jennifer Shahade and a tribute by Jerry Hanken.

Boris Baczynskyj

Boris was a very friendly fellow, always quick to laugh. I saw him a lot in Swisses in the 70s and 80s all up and down the east coast. He had the interesting “property” of extreme fluctuations in weight. He could go all the way up to the 400-500 range and back down to the 180-220 range.

GHI 1978 and Chain-Mail Helmets

Pre-computer, I sometimes wrote articles and had hand-written analysis to assist. Following is a scan of one such analysis of a tough positional struggle I had with Boris at the GHI International, New York City, 1978. The GHI was a strong, large, open swiss with plenty of norm opportunities. I believe Bill Goichberg directed it. It was so named after the GHI Building – its venue. If memory serves, an inconvenient elevator transported players up to the playing floor.  The tournament also had another “feature”.  John Fedorowicz, Jon Tisdall, and I were staying with my college roommate David Garfinkel on Park Avenue during this event.  David had a collection of antique helmets that we “borrowed” for use around the playing hall.  We all enjoyed the Turkish war helmet with chain mail covering the face and the German World-War I style helmet with the metal spike on top.  We also partook of vintage New York City firemen and policemen hats.  This meant a lot of “noise” that had to be “shushed” during the helmet jollies.

Click several times for maximum enlargement of these chess hieroglyphics. Note I was using an ancient text, “Sicilian Rauser”, as a citation source.

This handwritten scrawl masks a very interesting opening, middlegame, and endgame. One of the handwritten notes refers to a gambit: 10. f4 e6!? 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Qxf6 Rg8, that actually occurred in my 1979 Lloyds Bank Balinas game. I wrote above that this is “less than nothing” for white but in fact the computer says the pawn gambit leads to murky play with balanced chances.

At the time, I often “discussed” the ultra sharp opening featured here, the Modern Rauser (also an early favorite of GM Yudasin). Let’s see it.

Battle with Boris: Sicilian Modern Rauser Nascent Theory

B. Baczynskyj – M. Ginsburg Sicilian Modern Rauser, GHI International, Round 11. July 18, 1978.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bg5 Bd7!? 7. Qd2 Rc8!? The defining moves of the provocative Modern Rauser. Black goes for a quick Qa5 and Rc8, not caring for the moment about possible doubled f-pawns. An early Rc8xc3 sacrifice is often in the works. See, for example, my win over GM Balinas in Lloyds Bank 1979. This line only came into heavy weather later on in the 90s when Judit Polgar spanked it in some sharp encounters.

8. O-O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Qa5 10. Bd2?! Not the most active reaction. Latent discoveries on the black queen mean very little.

Position after 10. Bd2. Not the most Testing.

10…a6 Quite playable here is 10… e5 11. Qe3 Be7 12. f3 a6 13. Kb1 Qc5 14. Bd3 b5 15. Qe2 Be6 16. Be3 Qb4 17. Qd2 Qa5 18. Nd5 Qxd2 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. Bxd2 O-O 21. h4 Be7 22. Bb4 Rc6 23. Rd2 Ra8 24. Rhd1 Bxh4 25. Be2 Be7 26. Bxd6 Bg5 27. Rd3 Bc4 28. Bxe5 Bxd3 29. cxd3 and black went on to win, 0-1 Timman,J-Bellin,R/Islington 1970. Timman was just starting his career at this point.

11. Kb1 Qc5 12. Qxc5 Rxc5 13. f3 e6 As you can see in my handwritten notes, I didn’t want to go for 13… g6 14. Be3 Rc8 15. Bd4 Bg7 16. Nd5 but the computer shows that 16…e5! is playable.

14. g4 Be7 15. Be3 Rc8 16. g5 Nh5 Black’s position is OK here. Without the queens, at least his king will not come under severe attack.

17. Be2 17. f4 h6 18. gxh6 Rxh6 is OK.

17… b5 18. a3 h6 19. gxh6 g5!

Position after 19…g5!

20. Rhg1 Nf4 21. Bf1 f6 22. Bxf4 gxf4 Now I can face the future with confidence, armed with the bishop pair. All endings are great for me and one of them occurred.

23. Ne2 Rxh6 24. Nxf4 Rxh2 25. Rg8+ Kf7 26. Rxc8 Bxc8 27. c4 Rf2 28. cxb5 Rxf3 29. Ne2 axb5 30. Nc3 b4 31. axb4 f5 32. exf5 Rxf5 33. Bd3 Rf4 34. Rf1 Rxf1+ 35. Bxf1 Bb7 and black was able to convert, 0-1 in 58 moves. I will post the other moves shortly.

Epilog: Snowstorm aka Force Majeure

In the early 1980s, I played with Boris at a tournament at the University of Maryland. After Saturday’s game, I had 2.5 out of 3 and he had 3 out of 3. I was due to play him Sunday morning. But it was not to be. A fearsome blizzard halted the tournament and he was declared the abbreviated winner!

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The Fabulous 70s Part 2: The Lloyds Bank Open

June 22, 2007

The Lloyds Bank Swiss was a very strong event taking place in August of each year sponsored by yes, you guessed it, Lloyds Bank. Every year it was held at the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch, London, a very posh spot. And it was very near Hyde Park so the chess players could explore some greenery in the off houses as well as typical British pubs such as “The Three Tonnes” etc. GM-to-be James Plaskett (nicknamed Plastic Fantastic in some circles) was very social in pub settings. At some point, I managed to bonk my head on a pub sign hanging outside to the great amusement of onlookers.

Over the years, many luminaries played there and many amusing events took place. For example, tiny tots Peter Svidler and Matthew Sadler were battling grownups, GM Nick DeFirmian battled some unrated (when I looked at the game the unrated was up a queen but in his hurry to mate stalemated Nick; this unrated evolved to be GM Stefan Kindermann!). At some point IM-to-be Steve and Odendahl and I burst out snickering when Danny Kopec fell into a repetition draw vs a Hungarian GM up on the stage while hopelessly winning and up a lot of material (I believe it was GM Farago). Kopec was rightfully steamed at our insouciance. The event was also famous for people with “Sir” in front of their name or “MBE” or “OBE” after their name (part of the ruling class!) giving droning speeches at the end – mixed with chess players dressed horribly, such as Fedorowicz, Odendahl, and me. Director Stewart Reuben (who weirdly morphed into a poker player before it was fashionable) and Ray Keene would gave us hate-stares (particularly directed at Fedorowicz, who at some point lashed back) but it didn’t change our outfits. Another amusing thing was when Odendahl and I were thwacking each other over the head with a vinyl chessboard, Reuben uttered the laconic “Oh for God’s sake” which to us seemed the ultimate Britishism. For food, we went to the Kyhber Pass Indian restaurant quite a bit which was near the King’s Head pub, a chess hangout frequented by such luminaries as Speelman and Whiteley. My last installment was Lloyds Bank 1991, but it kept going for a while. GM-to-be IM Michael Wilder won in 1987 (also in that year young Anand scored a miniature victory over young Adams), and I see that GM Morozevich scored an incredible 10.5/11 in the 1994 incarnation at age 17! I see no record of it occurring after that, so I am guessing 1994 was the last year. Pity!

The readers may not know IM Steve Odendahl (he is inactive, at last check working for Sun Microsystems) but in one of these Lloyds Banks he scored a nice win over GM-to-be Danny King in one of his pet anti-Gruenfeld lines. I couldn’t find that game, but here’s a nice win of his over GM K Spraggett in Toronto, 1983.

Here is a battle royale from one of the Lloyds Bank installments in 1979. It’s really too bad they don’t happen any more! I wasn’t an IM yet (only achieved that in 1982).   See my separate post on Lloyds Bank 1978.

GM Rosendo Carrean Balinas vs Mark Ginsburg   
London, Lloyds Bank 1979

Sicilian Defense, Modern Rauser Variation 6. Bg5 Bd7

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 Bd7

This very sharp move was quite popular in the 70s and 80s. It faded due to some theoretical discoveries for white in the early 2000’s. Nevertheless, it is a good surprise weapon.

7.Qd2 Rc8 8.O-O-O Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Qa5 10.f4 10. Bd2 is popular, e.g. 10…a6 11. Kb1 Qc5!? which is playable for black.


10 … e6!? Introducing a very sharp gambit.

11.Bxf6 Here, 11. Bc4!? declining and developing is very interesting.

11…gxf6 12.Qxf6 Accepting the pawn, but black gains the dangerous g7-c3 diagonal for his dark square bishop. This was all semi-known to me at the time, but I had never tested the assertion. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall who showed me this 10…e6!? gambit idea. It was soon before this game was played.

12…Rg8 13.Qd4 d5 14.f5


Maximum violence!

14…Rxc3 15.Qxc3 Qxa2?! Now the game is completely crazy. However my move wasn’t the best one in the position. Superior was 15…Bh6+! 16. Kb1 Qxc3 17. bxc3 dxe4 18. fxe6 Bxe6 and black is completely OK with equal chances. Youths like to attack and keep the queens on.

16.Re1?! A mistake in return. 16. Kd2! is much more accurate. 16…Bh6+ 17. Ke1 Qa4 18. Bd3 dxe4 19. fxe6 and white is on top. 16…dxe4 16…a5!? is an inventive move that I did not consider during the game. White might respond 16…a5!? 17. fxe6 fxe6 18. Qb3 but even so, after 18…Bh6+! 19. Kd1 Qxb3 20. cxb3 Bc6 Black has little to fear.

17.Rxe4 Bh6+ 18.Kd1 Bc6


This is the sort of position that is child’s play for a computer and a huge headache for a human player.

19.Re5? 19. Rh4 is more accurate. Then, both 19…Qa1+ and 19..Qb1+ lead to great complications. For example, 19. Rh4 Qb1+ 20. Ke2 Qc1! 21. Rg1 (Kind of feeble, but what else?) 21…Bg7!? or 21…Bg5!? in both cases with sharp play and mutual chances.

19…Qb1+ 20.Ke2 Bg7 Black is on top now. The question is, can white “bail out” and survive. 21.Kd2 Bxe5 22.Qxe5 Rg5 23.Qb8+?! 23. Qh8+ was a more challenging try. The game can then get really sharp but black’s king winds up safer: 23. Qh8+ Kd7 24. Qd4+ Ke8 25. Qh8+ Ke7! Avoiding the draw. 26. f6+ Kd7 27. Qf8 (27. Qxh7 Rd5+ wins, e.g. 28. Kc3 Kd6! with a mating attack.) 27…Rd5+ 28. Kc3 Kc7! with a big attack.

23…Kd7 Now it’s simply bad for white in all lines.



24.Bb5? A tactical miscue. Black is faster than white and winds up the game with a direct mating attack. However, the superior 24. Qxb7+ Bxb7 25. Bb5+ Kc7 26. Rxb1 Rxg2+ simply leads to a terrible ending for white. 24. fxe6+ fxe6 25. Qxa7 Qxb2 is also very good for black.

24…Rxg2+ 25.Ke3 Qxh1 26.Qxb7+ Kd8 27.Qb8+ Ke7 28.Qxa7+ Kf8 29.Qc5+ Kg8 30.Qxc6 White could not postpone taking the bishop any longer. Now it’s black’s turn to hunt the white king which cannot escape. It’s all over.

30…Qe1+ 31.Kd4 Qf2+ 32.Kd3 Qd2+ 33.Ke4 Rg4+ 0-1

It was a thrill for me to beat a GM. I would go on to beat GM Roman Dzindzihashvili later in the year in Chicago and GM Shamkovich the next year in New York, but this game was a special treat because it was so tactical and crazy.


At the end of this event there was further hilarity when it was announced I would receive the special “Junior Merit” award. One of the gaggle of British juniors, I believe it was Stuart Conquest, muttered “He’s not a Junior!” and it was true, I was not eligible. Nevertheless, I was the proud recipient of 20 quid or so. Huzzah.