Archive for the ‘GM James Plaskett’ Category

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.

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.