Archive for the ‘GM Joel Benjamin’ Category

The Fabulous 80s: Washington Heights, NYC and Belgium and a tiny little bit of WO

October 11, 2007

For most of the 1980s, I lived on W 170th St. and Fort Washington Avenue in Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan. Senior Master Jeremy Barth was one of my roommates. At one time or another, John Fedorowicz, Michael Rohde, and others also stayed there. This heavily Dominican neighborhood saw many the odd chess player stay in our sprawling 3-bedroom: for example, Vince McCambridge, Pia Cramling, Ralf Lau, and Eric Lobron. The historical reason for this neighborhood choice was that at one time, I attended Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (to be distinguished from Columbia’s main campus at 116th and Broadway).

Here are some action pictures from the era.


This happens to be Hanna Moishezon (daughter of the famous Columbia U. mathematics professor Boris Moishezon), me with Petey Pie the cat, and Jeremy. That Radcliffe sweatshirt is too small! Boris had his own geometric space(!), and was a specialist in the abstruse field of Algebraic Geometry. I would estimate this photo as somewhere in the 1985-8 range.

Moving back to August 1983 (fortunately some photos are labeled!), we have me battling Natasha Christiansen in a blitz game (back then she was Natasha Us) with a really old-fashioned Garde chess clock. In fact, the tint of the photo suggests the 19th century. I like my moustache. Is that wrong??


I don’t remember how the actual game went.


Here’s a good one. We have Vreele Goethals, British future-GM David Norwood, me, and seated we have IM Roman Tomaszewski from Poland. On the right is Vreele’s mother, Mia Goethals. I think this was taken in August 1985 in the ECI Youth open tournament at Eeklo, Belgium (not far from Sas van Gent, Holland, site of the tournament in alternating years). It also had a parallel IM round robin tournament. Roman and I were in that – I beat him in a crazy Nimzo 4. Qc2 game where I was one of the early experimenters with a strange gambit as black; namely 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. dxc5 Na6 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 Nxc5 8. b4 Na4!? 9. Qb3 b5!?; I will dig that game score up and post it.  Future GM Mr. Norwood had an unfortunate encounter with a soccer ball in the off-day whilst attempting a header.


World Open, Philadelphia

Things always come back to the World Open. Here is the July 1986 incarnation at the now-defunct Adam Mark Hotel Players Bar with IM Leonid Bass (left), Linda Carrubba, Michael Wilder (standing) and Joel Benjamin. Good old Leonid moved to Spain (I think, or maybe it was France) at some point in the 1990s. Never saw him again!


We culminate with a 1981 antique – just a photo edit experiment.


I include it mostly for the historical hairstyle.


Old Indian Ukrainian Variation 4…e4!?

June 18, 2007

GM E. Agrest – IM M. Ginsburg Las Vegas, NV 2005

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 e4!? A very interesting move. Every so often (1980 Lone Pine vs Alburt, 1983 Manhattan twice versus Dlugy and Benjamin, 1985 vs Dutch IM F. Borm, and now) I try it.

5. Ng5 Bf5 6. g4!? Aiming for a big pawn center. Black will have minor piece counterplay. Another move is 6. Qc2 and we will discuss that in a separate installment.

6…Bxg4 7. Bg2 Nbd7 7…Nc6 is a major alternative. In the 1983 Manhattan CC Championship, J. Benjamin-M. Ginsburg continued 7…Nc6 8.Ngxe4 Be7 9.b3 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 O-O 11.Bb2 f5!? 12.Ng3 f4!? with crazy complications. I lost a long ending but it wasn’t the fault of the opening, since black is fine here. Both 7…Nbd7 and 7…Nc6 are quite under-estimated by modern theory.

8. Ngxe4 c6 9. Ng3 Nb6


Black’s counter-play is associated with hitting white loose pawns and preparing to restore the balance in the center with …d6-d5.

10. Qd3 d5 11. c5 Nc4 Reminiscent of the Alekhine’s Defense. This position is quite double-edged.

12. O-O Be6 13. f4 g6 14. f5!? Looks scary but black has his chances. 14…gxf5 15. Nxf5 Rg8 16. b3 Na5 17. Bd2 b6! 18. cxb6 axb6


Black’s setup looks completely crazy but he has some positional achievements to his credit! The key problem to solve is his potentially insecure king.

19. Rae1 White doesn’t have a wonderful pawn structure so heads directly to the attack.


More accurate is the king run 19…Kd7! The point is 20. e4 dxe4 21. Nxe4 Nxe4 22. Qxe4?? is impossible due to 22…Bd5 winning. White would have to play 22. Rxe4 Kc8 with an obscure situation.

20. e4 dxe4 21. Nxe4 Nxe4 22. Qxe4


Even with black’s lapse on move 19, this position is quite defensible.


A very bad miscue. In this sharp position, every move is critical. The correct choice was the centralizing 22…Qd5! 23. Ng3 Qxe4 24. Bxe4 O-O-O and black is OK. For example, 25. Bxc6 Rxd4 or 25. Bxh7 Rg4 26. Rc1 Nd6 27. Rxc6+ Kb7 28. Rfc1 Rd7.

23. Qc6+ Qd7 24. Qc3 Kd8 25. Ng3 Nd6 26. Rf2! Totally neutralizing any problems on the second rank.

26…Nb5 27. Qc1! White is completely winning now. 27…Rxd2 28. Qxd2 Rg4 29. Kh1! Calmly removing the king from any danger zones.

29…Nxd4 30. Ra1!

White plays with maximum efficiency to wind up the win. Black has no time to undertake anything.

30…Nb3 31. Ra8+ Ke7 32. Qxd7+ Bxd7 33. Ra7 Nc5 34. Bc6 Ke6 35. Re2+ 1-0


Black loses even more material and hence gave up. The Grandmaster had no problem dealing with my haphazard pseudo-threats.