Archive for the ‘Ilya Gurevich’ Category

Photos: International Odds and Ends

February 9, 2008

Lenk, Switzerland 2000

The Lenk swiss was a very pleasant event that also featured Attila Groszpeter, Andrey Sokolov, and others. I was working for Roche Pharma at the time in Basel Switzerland so it was a matter of a few Alpine train rides for me to get there. Here is a photo I took that shows the nice view from the playing lodge.


View from the Playing Lodge, Lenk, Switzerland, 2000

Here are veteran warriors GM Florin Gheorghiu (ROM) and GM Vladimir Tukmakov (UKR) doing battle in the Lenk swiss tournament, 2000. Of course, I need to dig up the Gheorghiu-Tukmakov game score for completeness. Maybe a reader has it.


Gheorghiu (left) – Tukmakov, Lenk, 2000

Here are 2 Lenk games I played.

GM Attila Groszpeter (HUN) – IM M. Ginsburg Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qb6 6. Nb3 Qc7 7. O-O Nf6 8. Kh1 Be7 9. f4 d6 10. Nc3 I personally like moving the c-pawn to c4 before the knight comes to c3.

10…Nc6 11. Qf3 O-O 12. Bd2 Bd7 13. Rae1 Nb4! It is always a good idea to get rid of the dangerous bishop on d3. In this case it works because 14. Nb5? opens up the a-file and white’s pawn on a2 will hang.


Position after 13…Nb4! Black has come out of the opening well.

14. Nd1 Nxd3 15. cxd3 a5 16. Ne3 a4 17. Nd4 White’s pieces look a little clumsy. Black has to figure out how to use his light squared bishop effectively.

17…a3 18. b3 Qb6 19. Ndc2 Qa6 20. Qe2 Bb5 Black seems to be doing good things but white has his chances.

21. Nb4 Qb6 22. Nc4 Qd8 23. Bc3


Position after 23. Bc3. Decision Time.

23…d5!? Leads to very sharp play. There is also 23… Re8 24. f5 exf5!? 25. Rxf5 Bd7! 26. Rff1 Be6! with a balanced game.

24. exd5 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qxd5 26. Qg4 g6 27. Qh3


Position after 27. Qh3. I step on a land mine.

27…Rad8? Black is careless and allows a strong breakthrough. Correct is 27… Qf5! and black is fine. It looks a little scary, but after 28. Qxf5 gxf5 29. Rf3 h5! (necessary to give the king some breathing room) 30. Rg3+ Kh7 31. Rg7+ Kh6 32. Re3 Rad8 33. Rh3?! (33. Rgg3! Kh7! to get out of the way of 34. Bg7; 34. Rh3 h4! and it’s equal) 33…Be8 34. Nb6 Bc6 35. Nc4 Rg8, black is even better.

28. f5! Of course. White is now on the attack.

28…Bg5 The problem is that black can’t play 28…Qxd3? 29. Rf3! Qd1 (nothing else) 30. fxg6 and white wins.

29. Qg3 Be7 30. f6 Bc5 31. Re5 Bxc4 This move is forced. During the game, I thought I had chances. But white is clearly winning.

32. Rxd5 Bxd5 33. Be5? The computer rudely points out 33. Qf4! which wins. There might follow 33…Rfe8 34. Bb4!! winning the a-pawn and the game after the technical 33…Bxb4 35. Qxb4 Bc6 36. Qxa3 Rxd3 37. Qc1 Rh3 38. Kg1 Rh5 39. a4. The text lets black struggle on.

33… Rfe8 34. h3 Bc6 35. d4 Bb4 36. Qe3 Bd5 37. Rc1 Rc8 38. Kh2 Rc6? Black should try 38…Ra8 to keep all the rooks on.

39. Rxc6 Bxc6 40. Qf4 White is winning again but it will need work.

40…Rd8?? In slight time trouble, black makes a bad blunder. He needed to play 40…Bd5 to keep a blockade. The variations now are instructive: 40… Bd5 41. Bd6! Bxd6 42. Qxd6 Ra8 (forced) 43. Qf4 Kh8 44. g4 Rc8 45. Qd6 Ra8 46. h4 h6! (Quite nice is the white king march after 46…Kg8 47. Kg3 Kh8 48. Kf4 Kg8 49. Qc7 Kh8 50. Ke5 Kg8 51. Qc1 Kh8 52. Kd6 Bc6 53. Qh6 Rg8 54. Ke7 Be8 55. Qc1 and wins) 47. Kg3 Kg8 48. Qc7 Bc6 and here black has quite an optically solid blockade. White’s king can travel all over the board, but how does he make progress? The answer is nice: 49. Kf4! Bd5


Position after 49…Bd5 (analysis). Breaking the blockade!

50. Qc1! The key move! 50…Bc6 51. Ke5 Kh7 52. Kd6! showing the long-range power of the queen. The white queen eyes a3 and h6 at the same time (beautifully placed on c1), while the white king threatens to go to e7. This variation (putting the queen on c1) is not the simplest in the world and black should have chosen this for maximum resistance.

41. d5! Of course. Now it’s all over in short order.

41…Rxd5 42. Qxb4 Rxe5 43. Qd6 1-0

Let’s see one more Alpine battle before moving on to Belgium and England.

Mark Ginsburg vs Thomas Saladin Lenk 2000. Hedgehog.

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 b6 4. e4 d6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bb7 7. Bd3! I get my preferred set-up.

7…e6 8. O-O


8… Nc6?! 8…Nbd7 is to be preferred. I as black made this type of mistake versus Murray Chandler, Lloyds Bank 1991, (the game is shown further down in this article) and lost badly. White now gains time to further his plans.

9. Nxc6! Bxc6 10. b3 a6 11. Bb2 Be7 12. Qe2 Bb7 13. f4! O-O


14. Rf3 g6 15. Rh3 Nd7 16. a4! White keeps black bottled up.

16…Bf6 17. Rd1 Rc8 By simple means, white has acquired a large advantage – space and initiative.


18. Bc2 Qc7 19. Rhd3 Black cannot meet well this regrouping.

19…Be7 20. e5! d5 Desperation already; this move is refuted.

21. cxd5 exd5 22. Rxd5 Bxd5 23. Nxd5 Bc5+ 24. Kh1 Qc6 25. Be4 Qe6 26. b4 Bxb4 27. Nxb4 Qc4 28. Bd3 Qxb4 29. e6! A nice breakthrough.

29…Nc5 30. e7! Excelsior!

30…Rfe8 31. Qe5 f6


32. Qxf6! This quickly forces mate.

32…Rxe7 33. Qh8+ Kf7 34. Qg7+ Ke8 35. Bxg6+ 1-0



Digression: Yakov Yukhtman!

In Lenk, Tukmakov was very entertaining, telling me many ribald stories about Yakov Yukhtman’s exploits in Odessa, the little grizzled fireplug that terrorized the New York city blitz scene in the 1980s. Apparently Tukmakov and Yukhtman went way back in their chess careers. Yukhtman scored many fine OTB wins in his career, vs World Champion Tal and others and was a very tough blitz customer in the first half of the 1980s. He would bedevil me when he was black with the insouciant 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8!? until I finally realized that 3. d4 d5 4. exd6 e.p.! was a good idea, so he couldn’t reach his favorable French structure (when I didn’t take en passant).

Some of Yukhtman’s running blitz patter included:

“Go back to school, moron.” (emphasis on the moron – after his opponent blunders). He would also come out with the shorter “Shitface!” after spotting a blunder.

“Two dollar, shitface?” (Yukhtman inviting a new opponent to sit down and play him).

“I go Lantic.” (This requires some explanation — Yukhtman indicating he is almost up enough money (in a 2 dollar match) to go to Atlantic City.) One time Yukthman said “I go Lantic” to Fedorowicz and Fedorowicz brought out a confusing rejoinder “I go Specific.” After some cogitation, Yukhtman fired back, “Moron.”

Hopefully I’m giving you a taste of the sheer wit of Yukhtman’s blitz commentaries. At some point, somebody was collecting his games and I don’t know what happened to that project. But I remember the collector, perhaps it was Brandwein, saying “I felt very sorry for his opponents” (because Yakov often swindled people).

Unfortunately Yukhtman suffered a congestive heart failure (the little fireplug smoked like a fiend) probably at or near the Game Room chess club on West 74th Street and Broadway, NYC, where he always hung out and the only person I know of that visited him before his demise was the Mechanic Institute’s own Steve Brandwein.

Eeklo, Belgium 1987

Now let’s go back to Eeklo, Belgium 1987. Eeklo is a nice little town near the border of Holland (Sas Van Gent, Holland is just over the border; both Eeklo and Sas Van Gent have hosted the ECI Junior tournament in years past).


Here we have future IM Herman Grooten (NLD), seated. On the left, Cesar Becx (NLD). Standing left, Han Jansson (NLD). I am standing on the right. Eeklo, Belgium, 1987.

I actually did better in the 1985 “ECI” version in Eeklo, coming first ahead of future GM Ferdinand Hellers.  The next photo shows the 1985 version and its trophy.


The author (left) and Han Jansson in Eeklo, Belgium 1985. What a nice trophy and not too big.


An unacceptably small hotel room in Brussels before the event (artistic license taken).


Herman Grooten (left) and the author.

Lloyds Bank 1991

In Lloyds Bank 1991, I tried the “not shaving for a while” approach to try to “build up some luck.” This approach failed, as it did in Naestved, Denmark 1988, where Michael Wilder would introduce me to Sax and Ljubo as the “unshaven asshole.”


Michael Wilder at Naestved, Denmark 1988. Bicycles were a common mode to get around this little town.

Here I am in unshaven mode playing GM Murray Chandler. I’m telling you, it doesn’t work.


GM Murray Chandler (left) playing the schmuck, Lloyds Bank 1991. I am sitting next to GM Julian Hodgson.

For completeness, here is the game score featuring my poor play.

GM Chandler – IM Ginsburg, Lloyds Bank 1991

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 Be7 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Qe2 Bd7? 10. b3 Nc6? One big ? covering moves 9 and 10. Every schoolboy knows this helps white.

11. Nxc6 Bxc6 12. Bb2 g6 13. Rad1 Re8 14. e5 Nh5 15.Be4! Yuck. This is the key motif that breaks down black’s position. See my hedgehog post (MG – GM Yudasin, World Open 2003) for more on the strength of this maneuver.

15…Qc7 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. exd6 Bxd6 18. g3 f5 19. Na4 e5 20. c5 Bf8 21. Nb6 Rad8 22. Qxa6 f4 23. Qc4+ Qf7 24. b4 e4 25. a4 Qxc4 26. Nxc4 Rd3 27. Rxd3 exd3 28. a5 Bg7 29. Rd1 f3 30. h3 Rb8 31. Bxg7 Rxb4 32. Nb6 Nxg7 33. a6 1-0

It was a pleasure to resign. Maybe time to shave?

Trinidad 1991

It’s a good break from the tournament routine to do some kung-fu by the piers.


Ilya Gurevich (left)’s tiger style overcomes my praying mantis.

This Post Has to End

And finally we have a photo of two NYU international people who know how to play chess, I would imagine.


Irina Srubschik (left) and Barbara Albert, New York City November 1996.

Once in a Lifetime Structures: Pawn Diamonds and Pawn Boxes

November 21, 2007

Sometimes a structure, a certain arrangement of pieces or pawns, occurs on the chessboard so outlandish, so absurd, so … je ne sais quoi…. it’s apparent it’s not going to happen again – at least to the player who created it.  Oh by way check out this nice companion blog from the UK while we are on the subject.

The Tale of the Pawn Diamond

The Pawn Diamond is one of those inimitable structures. Another related ‘situation’ (of wacky material imbalance) occurred in the 80s in my game against NM Alan Williams (Bar Point Chess Club, NYC) where I had 3 Queens and a Rook versus a Queen and 2 Rooks for many moves, but that’s a different story (the Williams game for some time was a record holder in Tim Krabbe’s world records compendium). But here we are talking about structures – pieces or pawns’ placements relative to one another. So I would say the Pawn Diamond is my strangest absolute structure. It’s so powerful!

Let’s see it. Or, in Lord of the Rings terms, “All shall see it and despair.”

Patrick Wolff – IM Mark Ginsburg NY Open 1983

1. e4 Young Patrick was quite tardy for the game which did not help him when the game got complicated.

1…g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. f4 Nc6 5. Be3 Nf6

Well, with the black knight committed to f6, it’s really a Pirc now. Still, the game gets really crazy.


6. Be2 O-O 7. Nf3 a6 8. Qd2 b5 9. a3 Bb7 10. f5 b4 11. axb4 Nxb4 12. fxg6
hxg6 13. Ng5 e5!
It’s always correct to act in the center when the opponent is acting on the wings. White’s structure is very loose now.


14. d5 c6 15. Na4 a5 16. c3 cxd5 17. Bb6 Qe7
18. cxb4 Bh6!
White gets into a very nasty pin and it turns out black gets overwhelming compensation for the lost piece. The problem in the opening basically is that white played too much on the wings and black stayed central.

19. h4 Nxe4 20. Qd3 axb4 21. Nxe4 dxe4 22. Qh3
Kg7 23. O-O f5
The very rare ‘pawn diamond’ starts to be formed. There is very little to do constructively that white can undertake, especially in practical play where advancing pawn phalanxes take on a life of their own.


24. h5 Rac8 25. hxg6 Qg5 26. Qh5 Qxg6 27. Rad1
Rf6 28. Qxg6+ Kxg6 29. Bb5 e3 30. Rfe1 f4 31. b3 Bg5!
Every piece gains maximum activity This is reminiscent of another Pirc/Modern game that worked out very well with a sacrifice; versus J. Shahade Las Vegas National Open 2003.

32. Bc4 Bh4 33. Re2 d5! The d-pawn is immune because white has a back-rank problem.

34. Bb5 d4 And there it is. The stuff of legends. The pawn diamond. Does anyone have access to a structural search; in how many other games has this occurred? White, of course, is dead – the diamond is worth at least 2 minor pieces. At this point, Inna Izrailov walked past and gawked in amazement.


35. Bc5 f3 It’s craven to break up the diamond and cash in, but at some point the game does have to be won.

36. gxf3 Bxf3 37. Rf1 Kh5! It’s pleasing to have the king help out too.

38. Ra2 Rg8+ 39. Kh2 Bg3+ 40. Kh3 Bf2 0-1

Well. I can definitely say I never got a Pawn Diamond again – yet.


I have to show you one more – perpetrated on me by future GM Ilya Gurevich – the humorous Pawn Box. In a weird cosmic coincidence, both Patrick and Ilya at the time were strong New England juniors. Remember, it takes two to create these structures so credit must be given to their uncompromising styles.

The Saga of the Pawn Box

IM M. Ginsburg – I. Gurevich, World Open 1985. King’s Indian, Bayonet Attack

If there was ever a time to beat Ilya, this was it. He was young and up and coming and got a not very good opening after my good prep in the Bayonet Attack King’s Indian. But then… the pawn box! Let’s see it.

1.c4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O
Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.c5!
A very under-rated system. White jettisons the two bishops, clears the g7-a1 diagonal, and is very quick on the queenside. And the best thing of all? His king never gets mated in this line – no crushing pawn storms. Nowadays, of course, Kramnik and Van Wely have popularized 10. Re1.

10…Nf4 11.Bxf4 exf4 12.Rc1 h6 13.a4 g5 14.cxd6 cxd6 15.h3 White has a very comfortable game.


15…Ng6 16.Nb5 Qe7 17.Re1 Rd8 18.Rc7 Rd7 19.Qc2 Rxc7 20.Qxc7 Qxc7 21.Nxc7 Oh yes. White has gotten the queens off, has initiative, and stands better.

21…Rb8 22.Nb5 Bd7! 23.Nxd6 Bf8! An ingenious resource. However, I thought I still had things under control.

24.e5 Bxd6 25.exd6 Bxa4 26.Nd4 Bd7 27.Bg4! A winning shot, so I thought – to gain f5 for my knight.

27…Bxg4 28.hxg4 Rd8 29.Nf5 Nh4!! I never saw this coming – the very essence of black’s defensive concept. Black deforms his structure maximally to gain enough activity to draw. This conforms to the Russian maxim, “all rook endings are drawn.” At the time, I was shocked that young Ilya was escaping. And so he did after the remaining moves…

30.Nxh4 gxh4 31.Re7 Rxd6 32.Rxb7 a6 33.Ra7 Kg7
34.Kh2 Kg6 35.Kh3 f6!
Establishing the amazing pawn box! Of course, white’s next move destroys it (nibbles it), but at least we had it on the board for a half-move. The most aesthetic thing about the box is that the move 35…f6! is actually useful, sheltering the black king from checks and preparing to eat the morsel on d5.


36.Kxh4 Rxd5 37.Kh3 Rd4 1/2-1/2


I would ask readers here, too, is there a structural search to show how many prior games had Ye Olde Boxe?

The Fabulous 1990s – Photos

July 29, 2007

Some photos from the fabulous 1990s. You can click on the thumbnails to see enlargements.

At the very beginning of the decade, In late December 1989 (I have to move this photo!) I found myself in Brugges, Belgium tangling with fellow American Ben Finegold in the last round a late round of a FIDE round-robin (see Comments – thanks to Ben for the corrections).


Ben, on the left, is emulating David Bronstein who was famous for tanking before move 1. I seem to be fumbling with a scoresheet in my lap. Note the cute little USA flags the Belgians gave us. This game happened to end in a relatively quick draw due to some trickery I perpetrated in a Modern Defense. The tournament concluded MG 1st, 6.5/9, BF 2nd, 6/9. BF won his last game vs Danish IM Ole Jakobsen. I coasted to victory after some lucky wins, for example versus future GM Michele Godena (ITA). I will post that game score when I find it.

In 1991, I played in a round robin tournament in Trinidad (a small island near Venezuela) with Ilya Gurevich, John Fedorowicz, and a flock of four Cubans such as IM Armas, IM Sariego, and two others (will recover the crosstable and post), Barbadian FM Kevin Denny, Jamaicans, what have you.


That’s Ilya Gurevich on the left doing some kung-fu on the Trinidadian pier with the author. Venezuela is barely visible on the horizon. GM Fedorowicz wound up winning the event and inflicted my only defeat.

Jumping ahead to later in 1991, we have future GM Alex Sherzer studying a Chess Chow magazine. Chess Chow, (GM Joel Benjamin, Chief Editor; I was the Technical Editor) was an enjoyable project that lasted from 1991-4.


One more from May 1991: John Fedorowicz (left) expresses his appreciation for Ilya Gurevich’s enterprising chess style. Location and photographer unknown.


Going ahead a few more years, here’s an action photo just before the start of the Dos Hermanas 1993 round. GM Leonid Yudasin puts on an aggressive “game face” to prepare for strong GM Alexander Khalifman.


It worked, the Krazy Eye Killah expression helped Yudasin win the 80 move long titanic game! If you were wondering, in other action from that round, Magem lost to J Polgar in 45 moves in a classical Scheveningen and Izeta drew Adams in 45 moves in a King’s Indian Defense.

Time for the current World Champion. Here’s future-WC GM Vladimir Kramnik in a light-hearted celebratory mood, early 1990s, I believe New York City PCA.


Here is a picture from 1994, the US Amateur Team in Parsippany, NJ.


That’s my team in action. According to this history web page, our team was the “Jimi Hendrix Exp” (actually we were the Jimi Kendrex Experience, note the rip-roaring pun, ha ha ha).

We have first board on the left, playing the white pieces, GM Ilya Gurevich. I don’t know the name of Ilya’s opponent, maybe a reader can help me out here. Next we have board 2, the late, great, bearded IM Victor Frias. Next to Victor there I sit on board 3, and on board 4 we have one of the Kendrex (either Chris or Steven, somebody help me out here). I believe Sophia Rohde helped us locate this miracle set of lowly-rated brothers. As so often happens, in some round one of them “woke up” and scored a match-clinching point!

Our top heavy team: The Last of the Mohicans

After we won this event, a special motion was passed to ban all top-heavy teams (teams with 3 titled players and one 1000-player). These team types were deemed rather anti-competitive. Oh well.

The Sordid Tale of our Forfeit in the USATE playoff

In the inter-regional playoff that ensued, Frias was over an hour late to the match that took place at the Marshall CC. Despite John MacArthur’s best efforts to delay the frenzied efforts of the huge underdog lowly-rated Southern team paired against us to start the match, eventually the clocks did have to start. In bursts Frias and in a whirlwind, he bashes out a bunch of moves (note: he never explained why he was 75 minutes late). After about 10 moves, the Southern team claims a retroactive forfeit back to the point the game started! General chaos erupts, and we “choose” to discontinue the match on all four boards, earning an official reprimand from the USCF! Yes!

Let’s move ahead to some vague year in the 1990s and voila, GM Patrick Wolff pondering his opponent’s incredibly lame opening moves.


Nice T-shirt! It turns out this is Needham 1992 also; and the passive player with White was NM Larry Tapper who wound up making a draw in this game. Reader power!

Let’s move ahead 2 or 3 years. Here is Elizabeth Vicary (in the back) and her sister Rachel on a sofa at Opaline, a bar in the East Village. The photographer: Yours Truly. The Year: Approx 1996 or 1997.


Now we have a classic scene from a New England tournament, Needham 1992 (thank you, Granny, for the correction). I think it’s circa 1996 or 1997. In the foreground (left) we have GM Joel Benjamin vs GM Alex Yermolinsky. I believe Alex won that game. To Joel’s left we have IM Igor Foygel (I think) playing the inimitable, the one and only, Mr Donkey also known as FM Charlie Hertan! Mr. Donkey is a hallowed name in chess that will be mentioned repeatedly in these historical passages. The other players in this photograph are unknown to me. and I will need readers’ help to pin down the date, the location, and their names.


Jumping ahead to the end of the decade, here is the author with a verboten Cuban cigar during New Year’s Eve 1999 at Schroder’s German Restaurant in downtown San Francisco, California. This tie is one of my favorites, featuring little goblins and other oddities based on an


Escher woodcut.

As far as I know Schroders is still there. Photo by Paige Stockley.

If you liked these, try the 1980s photos or leap ahead to the 2000s photos.