Archive for the ‘Ben Finegold’ Category

The Fabulous 10s: Weirdness in St Louis (US Championship Round 2)

May 15, 2010

Round 2 Jitters

The official St Louis chess club web page says (in a caption of a photo of Kraai wearing an old-timey hat),

“GM Jesse Kraai played the higher-rated GM Varuzhan Akobian to a draw in round two.”  As a good citizen, I wrote it so they could correct it.

Weirdly, Kraai missed a good chance to resist at the very end!

Check it out:

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Akobian, Varuzhan”]
[Black “Kraai, Jesse”]
[Result “1-0”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 Why on earth would Kraai play a Benoni, an opening antithetical to his style?  Just a rhetorical question.  Look at the problems Akobian had with solid Slav’s in the World Team! However, it worked out well for black up to a point given white’s bizarre moves… let’s see it….

4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Nd2 a6 11. a4 Nbd7 12. Nc4 Ne5 13. Na3 Bd7 14. Bf4 Nh5 15. Bxe5?! Chess is not so easy.  This should offer nothing.

15…Bxe5 16. Nc4 b5 16…Nf6 is fine for black.  Nothing wrong with the text move.

17. Nxe5 Rxe5 18. e4 Re8 19. Re1 Nf6 I think most routine Benoni players would immediately go for 19…b4! 20. Nb1 f5! 21. Nd2 Nf6! which is completely fine for black.   We should ask Vugar Gashimov what he’d do.

20. Qd2 Qb6?! 20…Ng4! is strong.  After 21. f4 Qb6! black is in no way worse.  However, both players keep playing second-rate moves and a strange roller-coaster ensues.

21. a5 Qd8 22. f4 b4 23. Nd1 Qb8 24. Nf2 Ra7 25. h3? Too slow.  25. Re3!

25…Bc8 26. Re3 26. Nd3!

26…Rae7 27. Rae1 Bb7 27…Nd7!

28. b3 Qd8 29. Kh2 29. e5! and take back on e5 with a rook is quite good for white.

29…Qa8 30. Qb2? 30. e5! is crushing.  It’s very unusual for Akobian to make so many second-rate moves in one game.

30….Nxd5! 31. Ng4 Nxe3???

31…Nc3! and quite amazingly white is held to a small plus after 32. Nf6+ Kf8 33. Nxe8 Qxe8.  For example, 34. Qd2 Qd8 35. e5 Bxg2 36. exd6 Rxe3 37. Qxe3 Qxd6! (37….Bc6?? 38. Qxc5!) and white will have to work hard.

To account for this blunder, Black said he was bothered by his premature draw in round 1.  It’s a long tournament!

32. Nh6+ 1-0

Deathly Hex Hat - must burn it

The hat looks like a Greg Shahade Porkpie special. It’s gotta go. 🙂   I suggest the Lucky Pen (Fedorowicz won the NY Open once with a Lucky Pen!) instead.  It will get Kraai on a lengthy winning streak.

One More Game from Round 2

Further chaos on a higher board…

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.1”]

[White “Nakamura, Hikaru”]
[Black “Hess, Robert L”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A17”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. Qxc3 O-O 7. b4 d6 8. Bb2
b6 9. g3 Bb7 10. Bg2 Nbd7 11. O-O Rc8 12. d3 Rc7?!
Gearing up to a faulty idea.

Example better line: 12… h6 13. e4 Qe7 14. Rfe1 Rfe8 15. b5 Ra8 16. a4 a5! and it’s OK for black.

13. e4 Qa8 14. Qd2 Rfc8 15. Nh4 b5? This doesn’t work at all.   American juniors almost always have a very tough thing doing nothing in particular.   And, among modern GMs, active Walter Browne lost a lot of games lashing out like this.

16. cxb5 c4 17. dxc4 Bxe4 18. f3 Bb7 19. Rfc1(?!) Easily winning was 19. Qxd6 Rxc4 20. Rf2 Bd5 21. Rd1 and white dominates.
19… Rxc4 20. Rxc4 Rxc4 21. Bf1 Rc8 22. Qxd6 h6
22… Bxf3 looks like a better try.  Now white is totally winning again, but the game is not free of further adventures – see the weird reciprocal blunder on move 33.

23. Rc1 Rxc1 24. Bxc1 g5 25. Ng2 Bxf3 26. Be3 Nb6 27. Bd4 Qd5 28. Qxd5 Nfxd5 29. Ne1 Bd1 30. Nd3 f6 31. Nb2 Bb3 32. Bg2 Kf7 33. Kf2? A serious lapse that is answered by a blunder in return.  Crushing was 33. Bxd5! with the study-like point:  33… exd5 34. a4! Nxa4 35. Bxa7! and wins, very nice!

33… e5?? A really bad blunder.  33… Nc8!  and black can hope for a draw.  For example, 34. a4 Nxb4 35. Bb7 Nd6 36. Bf3 Nc8 37. Bh5+ Kg7 38. a5 Nd5 39. Be8 Nc7 40. Bd7 Nd6 41. Bxa7 Ndxb5 42. Bb8 Bd5 and white has a tiny edge.

34. Bxd5+ Bxd5 35. Bxb6 axb6 36. Na4 f5 37. Nxb6 Ke6 38. a4 If you are curious, yes, 38. Nxd5 wins too.

38…f4 39. a5 Bh1 40. Kg1 Bf3 41. a6 e4 42. Nc4 e3 43. b6 1-0

Let’s See One More

Moving back to a lower board, more jitters!

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.8”]

[White “Bhat, Vinay S”]
[Black “Kudrin, Sergey”]

[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D89”]

This game featured some incredible and very difficult to find missed opportunities for white behind the scenes.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8.
Ne2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Be3 Bg4 11. f3 Na5 12. Bd3 cxd4 13. cxd4 Be6 14. d5 Bxa1
15. Qxa1 f6 16. Bh6 Re8 17. Qd4 Bd7 18. e5
Not a very impressive line, white is soon put in the position of having to find only moves to equalize.

Qb6 19. Qxb6 axb6 20. e6 Ba4 21. Nc3
b5 22. Nxb5?
The first miss.  The brilliant 22. d6!! exd6 23. Re1!  establishes enough domination to hold the balance.  For example, 22…Nc6 (23… Nc4 24. Nd5 f5 25. f4 Kh8 26. Nf6 Nb2 27. Bf1 Rec8 28. a3 b4 29. axb4 Nc4 30. Bd3 Bb5 31. e7 d5 32. Nxd5 Be8) 24. Nd5 f5 25. Bf4 Ne5 26. Bxe5 dxe5 27. Rxe5 Kg7 28. Nc7 and draws.  The maximum coordination established by 22. d6!! is truly remarkable.

22… Red8 23. Nc3 Bc6 24. Be4 Be8 25. Rb1 Rac8 26. Bd2 Nc4 27. Be1 f5? A serious blunder!

27…Nd6 leaves black better.   I can only guess black didn’t see white’s possible reaction.

A Missed Miracle

28. Bd3? Oh no!  White misses a truly incredible shot.   But it takes deep calculation and a keen sense of adventure to take the plunge on it…. do you see it?

It’s 28. Rxb7!! fxe4 29. fxe4 and feast your eyes on this domination!   White is a full rook down… well he has some pawns…. but here’s the kicker – he’s not worse!

First of all, the lame 29…Kf8? loses to  the nice “carom billiards shot” 30. Bh4.
Secondly, 29… g5 30. Rxe7 Bg6 31. Bf2 Re8 32. Rd7 Ne5 33. Bd4 Rxc3 34. Bxe5 is fine for white too. In no line is white worse.  But it was hard to see! The connected pawns set up a mighty force giving plenty of compensation for the oodles of lost material.  It’s really unusual to see how helpless black’s forces are.

28… Ne3! And white loses prosaically.  Too bad!

29. Rxb7 Nxd5 30. Nxd5 Rxd5 31. Be2 Re5 32. Kf1 Rxe6 33. Rb4 Bf7 34. a4 Rc2 35. Bd3 Rc1 36. Be2 Re5 37. Rd4 Be6 38. Kf2 Rc2 39. Rd2 Rxd2 40. Bxd2 Rd5 41. Be3 Kf8 42. Bb6 Rd2 43. Ke1 Rc2 44. f4 Bc4 45. Bf3 e6 46. g3 Rxh2 47. Bf2 Bd5 48. Bd1 Ke7 49. a5 Bb7 50. Kf1 Bg2+ 51. Ke2 Rh1 52. Kd2 Bb7 53. Bb6 h6 54. Be2 Ra1 55. Ke3 Ra3+ 56. Kd4 Rxg3 57. a6 Bxa6 58. Bxa6 h5 59. Ke5 h4 60. Bf2 Rh3 61. Bc4 Rh2 62. Bg1 Rg2 63. Bc5+ Kf7 64. Bxe6+ Kg7 65. Be7 Re2+ 66. Kd6 Rxe6+ 0-1

OK One More

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.7”]
[White “Shabalov, Alexander”]
[Black “Finegold, Benjamin”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D10”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. b3 Bf5 6. Nf3 e6 7. Be2 Bb4 8. Bd2 Ba3
9. Nh4 Be4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Nf3 Nd7 12. O-O O-O 13. Be1 a5 14. Qc2 Qe7 15. Nd2
f5 16. Nb1 Bd6 17. f3 Nef6 18. Nc3 Kh8 19. Bf2 Rac8 20. Rad1 Qf7 21. Bd3 Qh5
22. Bg3 Bxg3 23. hxg3 Qg5 24. Qf2 Nh5(?!)

Very strong is the powerful and aesthetic central shot 24… Ne4!!.  White can only grovel to equalize after that move.  25. Nxe4 (I cannot resist showing a mating line after 25. Bxe4 fxe4 26. f4? Qf5 27. Ne2 Nf6 28. Qe1 Ng4 29. Qd2 Qh5 30. Rfe1 Qh2+ 31. Kf1 c5 32. Rc1 cxd4 33. exd4 e3 34. Qc3 g5! 35. Rc2 gxf4 36. gxf4 dxc4 37. bxc4 e5!! 38. dxe5 Qh1+ and already the computer sees a long forced mate, here it is for enjoyment:  39. Ng1 Rxf4+ 40. Ke2 Rd8 41. e6+ Kg8 42. Qd3 Qxg2+ 43. Kd1 Rxd3+ 44. Kc1 Qd2+ 45. Rxd2 exd2+ 46. Kd1 Nf2+ 47. Kc2 Rxc4+ 48. Kb2 Rb4+ 49. Kc2 dxe1=N+ 50. Kc1 Rd1mate!)   Returning to the better 25. Nxe4, 25… dxe4 26. Be2 Nf6 27. f4 Qg6 28. c5 equal.

The game move is actually not bad and white immediately blunders.

25. g4? What’s this? Shabba goes a little bonkers, losing a pawn for nothing.  25. Ne2 was necessary.

25…fxg4 26. f4 Qf6?
Any computer will tell you the “carom shot” 26… Qe7 27. g3 Qb4! is very strong with a distinct edge to black.

27. g3 c5? 28. cxd5 cxd4 29. Ne4! And black has self-destructed.  Too bad!
dxe3 30. Qxe3 Qh6 31. Nd6 exd5 32. Nxc8 Rxc8 33. Bf5 Qd6 34. Qe6 Qc5+ 35. Kh2
Nhf6 36. Rc1 Qf8 37. Rxc8 Qxc8 38. Qe7 h5 39. Re1 h4 40. Bxd7 hxg3+ 41. Kxg3
Qc3+ 42. Re3 Qc2 43. Bxg4 Qb1 44. Re1 Qd3+ 45. Qe3 Ne4+ 46. Kg2 1-0

The Fabulous 70s: News of the Weird and my First Dzindzi Encounter

November 11, 2007

Chess Life & Review editor Burt Hochberg really foisted some lu-lu covers on the chessplaying masses in the 1970s.

Here is a typical shocker, Paul Morphy’s hand (actual size). Shades of the macabre Edgar Allen Poe!


A whole nation of chessplayers suddenly found themselves putting their hand on the cover photo to compare. And the truth became apparent: Morphy had a small, delicate, feminine hand. You can see for yourself by noticing the relative size of the push-pins.

When the nation got tired of macabre comparisons, it was time to look inside for the latest, juiciest, Rating List. Here is the State of the Union of the US Juniors, September 1977.


Some notable names and numbers:

Mark Diesen, World Junior Champion, heads the pack at 2440 (an astronomical rating back then). Close behind are Michael Rohde and Yasser Seirawan. Note the Whitehead brothers are neck and neck with Paul at 2269 and Jay at 2256. Girome Bono, #13, is still active on ICC. I used to play Karl Dehmelt (#16) quite a bit on Philadelphia-area tournaments. 13-year old Joel Benjamin is #22 at 2199 (one point shy of master!). I’m #18 at 2212. Moving down, “Collins Kid” Louis Cohen is #35 at 2142. Chess author John Donaldson is #37 at 2141 (a late-bloomer, obviously, at 18 years of age). Peter Winston is #41 at 2131 and right next to him is the fellow who wrote about him in a recent Chess Life, Charlie Hertan at 2129. Billy Adam, subject of my related article, is #46 at 2119. #47, Richard Kaner, won the National HS one year in a highly improbable upset year.

The under-16 list is also amusing. #33, Miles Ardaman, at 1784. #47, David Griego, at 1642. Everybody starts somewhere! The #2, Tyler Cowen, might have quit chess early but nobody can say he didn’t keep busy. And he has an amusing new book out titled “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist” – I kid you not. In a weird cross-disciplinary coincidence, he was mentored in economics by Schelling at Harvard (author of the famous Schelling curves, showing incentives to contribute, and a key citation in my NYU Information Systems dissertation.

Just to convince people there’s actually chess on this site sometimes, here’s an upset win I scored over GM Roman Dzindzihashvili way back in December 1979 (The Chicago Christmas Masters/Experts). Ben Finegold quizzed me recently on ICC as to the existence of this game (his father witnessed it). Yes, it does exist, and here it is, unearthed from the tomb of my ancient scorepad pile.

NM Mark Ginsburg (2373) – GM Roman Dzindzihashvili (2595) Chicago Christmas M/E 12/30/79 Round 4.

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

I was extremely familiar with this position, having just played Eugene Meyer a Kan-thematic training match in Washington, DC.

9…Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 More careful was 10… O-O 11. f4 Qb6 12. Nb3 Qc7. In the early stage, Roman was playing quickly, obviously underestimating the unknown kid.

11. f4 Qc7 And now more circumspect was 11…O-O 12. f5 Ne5 13. fxg6 fxg6 14. Nf3 Nf7! 15. Bh4 Qc7 with a playable game.

12. f5 gxf5? This makes everything worse. Relatively best was 12… e5 13. Nc2 O-O 14. Ne3 Bb7 15. Rc1 Nc5 16. Ned5 Nxd5 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. cxd5 Qd7 19. f6 and white is much better, but not completely winning.

13. exf5 e5 Strangely, it’s already lost for black.


14. Ne6! The computer shows another unusually attractive way to win: 14. Nd5!! Nxd5 15. Ne6!! (an exquisite and extremely rare double knight sacrifice; you’ve heard of double bishop sacrifices (Lasker-Bauer) but how often have you heard of a double knight sacrifice?) 15…fxe6 16. Qh5+ Kf8 17. fxe6+ and white cruises. For example, 17…N7f6 18. cxd5 Qe7 19. Bxf6 (or keep sacrificing for a quicker kill, 19. Rxf6+! Bxf6 20. Rf1 Bxe6 21. dxe6 Qxe6 22. Rxf6+ Qxf6 23. Bxf6 and wins) 19… Bxf6 20. Qh6+ with destruction. At the time, I saw my 16th move “Excelsior” theme and decided to go for that. It wins easily enough, but I have to rate the computer line higher in creativity and speed of execution.

14… fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! A great move to be able to play against a strong player. Black’s rook is frozen to f8.


16…Bb7 The problem is that 16… Re8 is crushed by 17. Nd5 (or by 17. Rxf6 Nxf6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5; it’s unusual that white has so many winning lines so early) 17… Nxd5 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Qxe8+ Kh7 21. Qh5+ and this pleasing pendulum maneuver nets white a second queen. So black must resort to the text and the rest is just a mop-up with no special carefulness or technique required; a good thing because at this age I had none.

17. exf8=Q+ Rxf8 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. cxd5 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Nc5 21. Rc1 e4 22. Bxe4 Bxb2 23. Re1 Be5 24. Bf4 Qf7 25. Bxe5 Qxf1+ 26. Rxf1 dxe5 27. Bb1 Bxd5 28. Rf5! Nd7 29. Rh5! The very active rook cannot be stopped.

29…Bf7 30. Rxh7 Bxa2 31. Rxd7 Bxb1 32. Rd6 b5 33. Rxa6 Kf7 34. Kg1 Bd3 35. Kf2 Bc4 36. h4 Bd5 37. Rb6 Bc4 38. g4 Bd3 39. Ke3 Bf1 40. g5 Kg7 41. Ke4 1-0

After the game, Roman feeling the anger of losing to a weaker player (I’ve felt that way many times), said “You have just bought yourself bad luck for rest of life.” This was tame compared to the Bill Lombardy speech I received after Bill lost on time at a World Open, but I knew what Roman meant – I would be in for heavy weather the next couple of times we met. And indeed, the next time we met (I was white again) I won his queen but he gained too much play with a Rook, Knight and Pawn and scored a positionally well-executed victory that made it into the Robert Byrne New York Times column (World Open, 1980).


Here is that game:

M. Ginsburg – GM Roman Dzindzichashvili World Open 1980

1.g3 c5 2.Bg2 Nc6 3.e4 g6 4.Ne2 The sort of off-beat knight placement in anti-Sicilians favored by the dearly departed Billy Adam.

4…Bg7 5.c3 e5 6.O-O Nge7 7.Na3
O-O 8.Nc2 d5 9.d3 Be6 10.f4 dxe4 11.dxe4 Bc4 12.Bd2 Qd3 13.Rf2
Rad8 14.Ned4
The sort of tactic that might “work” but no player is very happy about executing. It wins black’s queen but gets a structurally very bad game.

14…exf4 15.Ne1 fxg3 16.Nxd3 gxf2 17.Nxf2 cxd4 18.Qc2
Be6 19.Kh1 dxc3 20.Bxc3 Nd4 21.Qb1 Nec6 22.Qf1 Ne5 23.b3 h5
24.Rd1 Ng4 25.Rd3 Nxf2+ 26.Qxf2 Nxb3 27.Qc2 Rxd3 28.Qxd3 Nc1
29.Qe3 Bxc3 30.Qxc3 Rc8 31.Qe3 Nxa2 32.h3 b5 33.Qxa7 b4 34.e5
b3 35.Qb7 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 Rc2 37.Kg3 Nc3 38.Be4 Nxe4+ 39.Qxe4 Rc3+

An amusing bygones-era photo collage of the combatants in this game – the unlucky GM, as you probably can guess, is on the left – his photo is circa 1992, I think, and mine was from April 1979:


Sweet Validation

October 17, 2007

Living Chess History Lives!

I am very pleased that people are starting to chip in with their own memories, recollections, anecdotes, games, what have you – to fill out my “near-term” historical outlines.  The process is working and almost snowballing and I must say the wordpress blog format is ideal for this fill-in-the-blanks exercise that spans time and space.  The nice thing about chess history is that it includes gamescores, good and bad moves, memorable situations, as well as personalities, photos, interesting places, …. all very historical!  We are at an interesting cusp here – the pre-Chessbase (computer? what the heck is that?) and the post-Chessbase (computer-heavy) days.  Many of the games you’ll see here are pre-Chessbase (but by all means, add them to your database!).  Since there are some big names, such as GM Larsen, GM Dzindzihashvili, etc., no doubt many game hunters will indeed want to increase their electronic storehouse.

The Notion of Game Replay

I received a request from Mr. Friedel at ChessBase to have all the games at this site replayable via a Javascript widget, the type you might see in a generic ChessBase output file or US Chess Online.  I am working on it, but wordpress has certain constraints (it strips out 3rd party iFrames).  For now, I will just use a mixture of text and well-placed diagrams as you might see in a book.

Special thanks to early respondents

Ian Findlay, Jeremy Barth, Jon Jacobs, Bruce Leverett, Lonnie Kwartler, John Fedorowicz, Barry Popik, Joe LuxBen Finegold, Elizabeth Vicary, Gregory Kaidanov, Ken Regan, and a few anonymous New Englanders.

All I can say is, keep the memories coming.

-MG 10/18/07

The Fabulous 80’s – The Big Picture

July 8, 2007

The 80s were an eventful chess decade. I am going to introduce a ‘replay’ feature so you can play over the games and see the annotations in a Java applet. This feature is in test-mode, we are still ironing out the bugs involved with seeing all the sidelines.

Having gotten the technical sidenote out of the way, let’s start with some amusing photos.

At the very start of the decade, I played in a couple of IM- and GM-norm events at the Marshall CC and the Heraldica Imports (Jose Cuchi, Organizer). Eric Schiller managed to take a picture of me “in action” at the venerable Marshall CC in 1981. Any New York player knows this club as a stately brownstone on 23 W 10th Street in Greenwich Village close to NYU and the Washington Square Park blitz hustling scene. Here it is.


I am not sure if pink-tinted glasses accelerate the learning process when it comes to chess, but they probably do not hurt.

And here is a classic from the 1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate.


Standing, l. to r.: Jon Schroer, me, Steve Odendahl, and a hirsute Eric Tall. Sitting: Michael Wilder. This was no squad, we were just posing near the first-place team trophy in mid-event for giggles. Photo taken by: unknown.  Did you know Michael Wilder would go on to win the US Championship in 1988 with the lowest winning score ever, +2?  And he won it alone?  Weird.

Moving on to mid-decade, here are two classic World Open 1985 poses.


Here are a group of party-goers between rounds at the now-defunct Adam’s Mark Hotel in Philadelphia. The lady is Andrea Sisniega, sister of Mexican GM Marcel Sisniega. She has good taste, holding up a bottle of Mouton Cadet (click on the photo to enlarge this fabulous wine label). Also you might recognize Joel Benjamin, me, and Michael Wilder (left to right).


Here are some more party-goers. The stoic Russians in the rear are IM Leonid Bass (left) and Sergey Kudrin. The Americans are (l. to r.) Michael Wilder, me, and Joel Benjamin. Amusingly, I don’t think Michael Wilder was playing in this event. The real question is, where did Leonid get his stylish hat?

Now let’s go across the Atlantic to see some pictures from Belgium and Holland.

First we have Christine Syben and me in Delft, Holland 1989. Delft is the town with the nice porcelain. We proceeded to lose some money at the Scheveningen casino. Eric Tall took this photo.


Here is Ben Finegold trying to decide where to move in Eeklo ECI FIDE Invitational, 1989-90. I think GM David Bronstein was also famous for tanking before move 1. In the meantime I seem to be fumbling with my scoresheet. I managed to draw and win first place. Ben was second. Click on the picture to enlarge. This photo was also taken by Eric Tall.