Archive for the ‘James Thibault’ Category

The Fabulous 80s: The Pan-Am Intercollegiates 1981

February 17, 2008

The 1981 Pan Am Intercollegiates were in New York City, I think at the Statler Hotel. This was my first year in graduate studies at Columbia University. The University of Toronto featuring Ian Findlay won this year (the middle year of a 3-year run by UT). If I am not mistaken, both Steve Odendahl (with a Nimzovich Defense, 1….Nc6) and Gregory Markzon upset Joel Benjamin at this event.

2/29/08 note from Dave Gertler“I don’t know about Markzon, but Odendahl did beat Benjy (w/Nimzovich) at ’81 Pan-Am.  In fact, in the Yale-Swarthmore match, black won on all 4 games! Tragically, I was white on bd. 2.  “

Photo Time


From left (standing): Jon Schroer, the author, Steve Odendahl, and Eric Tall.

We were not on the same team – this was a staged photo around the trophy that Ian Findlay took home to Canada (U. Toronto). Seated: Michael Wilder, I think he was a high school student/observer.

New York City, December 1981


Steve Odendahl (left), Michael Wilder (center), and the author. Pan-Ams December 1981, NYC.

Three Games from the Event

Here are three amusing games. There is also some good theoretical content.

Richard Costigan (2353, U. Pittsburgh) – M. Ginsburg (2478, Columbia “A”), Pan-Am 12/1981. Round 6. Time control: 40/2

Sicilian Pelikan.

My opponent is still going strong, he is an IM now and I played him in the World Open 2007.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bf4 e5 8. Bg5 a6 9. Na3 Be6!? This is an interesting move that I used to beat Joel Benjamin also in 1981. It has good surprise value versus the regular “Sveshnikov” move 9…b5.

10. Nc4 Rc8


Position after 10…Rc8. New-Age Pelikan.

11. Nd5 Joel played 11. Ne3 inviting a strange gambit sequence. That game went 11.Ne3 Qb6! 12.Rb1 Nxe4! A crazy gambit line that Jon Tisdall showed me. 13.Nxe4 h6! Regaining the piece due to 14. Bh4 Qb4+! – a strange lineup along the 4th rank. 14.c3 hxg5 15.Bc4! White gets good compensation on the light squares. 15…Nd8 16.Bb3 Be7 17.O-O Qc6 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.Bxd5 Qd7 20.Qb3 O-O 21.Rfd1 g6 22.c4 Ne6 23.Qh3 Kg7 24.Bxe6 fxe6 25.b3 Rf4 26.Qe3 Qc6 27.Ng3 Qc5 28.Qe2 Rcf8 29.Rd2 R8f7 30.Rbd1 Qc6 31.h3 g4! 32.hxg4 Rxf2! Very strong. White cannot withstand the long ranging queen, center pawns, and strong dark squared bishop and eventually goes under. 33.Qxf2 Rxf2 34.Rxf2 d5 35.Rfd2 Bg5 36.Re2 Bf4 37.Nf1 e4 38.Kh1 Be5 39.g5 d4 40.Nd2 e3 41.Nf3 Qe4 42.Ree1 d3 43.Rxd3 Qxd3 44.Nxe5 Qc3 45.Nf3+ e5 46.Re2 e4 47.Ng1 Qd4 48.Nh3 Qd1+ 49.Ng1 Qd2! The beginning of the end. 50.Kh2 Kf7 51.Kg3 Ke6 52.Kh2 Kf5 53.g3 Kxg5 54.Kg2 Kg4 55.c5 Qd4 56.b4 Qxb4 57.Rxe3 Qd2+ 58.Re2 Qd3 59.Kf2 Qxg3+ 0-1, Benjamin-Ginsburg, NYC 1981. This game wound up in an early Kasparov / Keene “BCO” oeuvre.

White can also play 11. Bd3 Be7 12. O-O O-O (or 12… b5 13. Nd2 Nb4 14. Be2 O-O 15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. a3 Nc6 17. Nd5 Nd4 18. c3 Nxe2+ 19. Qxe2 Rc5 with an OK game) 13. Qe1 Nb4 14. Ne3 Ng4 15. Bxe7 Qxe7 16. a3 Nxd3 17. cxd3 Nxe3 18. Qxe3 and white went on to win, 1-0 [37], Nijboer,F (2375)-Ligterink,G (2455)/Wijk aan Zee 1988/EXT 1997.

11… Bxd5 12. exd5 Possible is 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. exd5 (or 13. Qxd5!?; according to my scorepad, this occurred in Kudrin-MG, NYC Futurity Swiss 1981. I rated the position as unclear. There might follow 13…Nb4 14. Qd2 d5 15. exd5 Qxd5 and white can claim a small edge.) In this game, white tries a dubious gambit but I am able to refute it.

12… Ne7 13. Qd3 Nexd5! 14. O-O-O (1:04) Rc5! (1:16) A strong TN. Black is better after accepting the center pawn gambit.


Position after 14…Rc5! – black won the opening discussion.

15. f4 Qc7 16. fxe5 dxe5 17. Qf5? 17. Qb3 Be7 18. Ne3 h6 19. Nxd5 Nxd5 20. Bxe7 Nxe7 and white is worse, but not yet lost.

17… Be7 18. Nd2 (1:41) g6! 19. Qf3 Rxc2+ 20. Kb1 O-O (1:39) Now black is just winning.

21. Bd3 Rc6 22. h4 Nb4 23. h5 Nxd3 24. Qxd3 Nxh5 25. Ne4 f5 26. Qd5+ Kg7 27. Bxe7 (1:58) Qxe7 28. Nd6 Nf6? A more tactically alert player would find the much stronger is 28… Nf4 29. Qd2 Rf6 and white’s knight is trapped! The text unnecessarily prolongs the game but the final result is not affected since white had no time left to think.

29. Qd2 Ng4 30. Qb4 Rc7 (1:56) 31. Qb6 Nf6 32. Qe3 Rd7 33. Qh6+ Kg8 34. Nc4 Rxd1+ 35. Rxd1 And white lost on time. Columbia won the match 3-1.


In the next game I faced sharpshooter Dmitri London, a very dangerous and active opponent. I attach the USCF ratings at the time as a historical curiosity. I believe we lost Dmitri to the workforce at some point in the late 80’s or early 90s.

M. Ginsburg (2478, Columbia “A”) – Dmitri London (2383, Brooklyn College) Gruenfeld Defense.

Round 7.


1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 d5 5. Qa4+ Bd7 6. Qb3 dxc4 7. Qxc4 O-O 8. e4 Bg4 9. Ne5 Nc6! Excellent. Black gains full equality.

10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. f3 Be6 12. Qa4 Nd7 13. Be3 Nb6 14. Qb4 Qd6 15. Qxd6 cxd6 16. O-O-O Rab8 17. Bg5 Rfe8 18. h4 h6 19. Bf4 a5 20. g3 a4 21. Rh2 Rb7 22. Rc2 White’s maneuvers are slow and ponderous, but enough to hold the balance.

22…Reb8 23. Kb1 Nc4 24. Bxc4 Bxc4 25. e5 g5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. Bxg5 dxe5 28. Nxa4 Rb4 29. Nc5 exd4 30. a3 d3 31. Nxd3 Ra4 32. Bf4 Rd8? A mistake. 32… e5! is right – this surprising move gives equality: 33. Nxe5 Bb3 34. Rd3 Bxc2+ 35. Kxc2 Rb5 36. Re3 Rc5+ 37. Kb1 Rb5 38. Ka2 Ra8 39. Nc4 Rd5 40. Kb1 Bd4 41. Re7 Rh5 – about equal.

33. Rcd2 Be6 34. Ne5 Rxd2 35. Rxd2 c5 36. Rd8+ Kh7 37. Kc2 Ra7 38. Nc6 Rb7 39. Be5 f6 40. Bf4 Bd7 41. Na5 Ra7 42. b4 In this pleasant position and obviously superior position, I offered a draw here to clinch a win for our team.

42… Ba4+ Black refuses! He is battling for his team – but he has a bad game!

43. Kd2 Ra6 44. Be3 cxb4 45. axb4 Nothing much has changed – I offer a draw again.

45…f5 And black declines again! Good fighting spirit, but what can be accomplished on the board?

46. g4 fxg4 47. fxg4 Re6 48. Rd5 Re4 Now black offers a draw. But it’s now painfully clear white can play on with no risk. And so I advance my passed pawn.

49. b5 Rxg4?! Black immediately goes wrong. He should sacrifice to get rid of the potential threat with 49… Bxb5 50. Rxb5 Rxg4 51. Nc6 Kg6 52. Nxe7+ Kf7 53. Nf5 Rg2+ 54. Kd3 Rb2 55. Ra5 Rb3+ 56. Ke4 Rb4+ 57. Kd5 Bf6 and it should be drawn.

50. b6 Rg2+ 51. Kd3 e6? A decisive mistake. Correct is 51… Bc2+! 52. Kc4 Be4! 53. Rd1 Kg6 54. Kb5 Bf3 55. Rg1 Rxg1 56. Bxg1 Ba8 57. Ka6 Bd5 and black will be able to hold this.

52. Rh5+ Kg6 53. Rc5 It’s now winning for white.

53…Bd1 54. b7 Be2+ 55. Ke4 Rg4+ 56. Bf4 Black resigned. We won the match 3-1.



And finally here’s a battle from the last round.

James Thibault (2318, Rhode Island College “A”) – M. Ginsburg (2478, Columbia “A”) Round 8. Sicilian, 2. c3.

My opponent won the 1977 National High School on tiebreaks – see the amusing National High School history page written by Steve Immitt. I was present at that tournament but lost chances at top honors when I claimed a win on time in the penultimate round but my opponent, Mark Stein, stunned me by ignoring my valid claim (I neglected to stop the clocks, or even more radically seize the clock as I have seen many excited players do) and simply making a move. I then made a move in reply and got up to get the TD, nullifying my claim. Bravo! It pays to know the rules in these common situations.

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O cxd4 8. cxd4 Be7 9. Nc3 Qd6 10. Be3 O-O 11. Rc1 a6 12. a3 Rd8 Very solid but a little passive.

13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Bxe4


Position after 14. Bxe4

14…Bf6 Playable is 14… Bd7 15. d5 exd5 16. Qxd5 Qxd5 17. Bxd5 Be8 18. Be4 Bf6 19. b4 Bd7 20. h3 and drawn shortly, 1/2-1/2 Short,N (2485)-Sosonko,G (2575)/Amsterdam 1982.

15. Qc2 g6 Bad is 15…h6? 16. Rfd1 Ne7 17. Ne5 Nd5 18. Nc4 Qc7 19. Qb3 b5 20. Ne5 Bxe5 21. Rxc7 Bxc7 22. Rc1 Bb7 23. Rxc7 Nxc7 24. Bxb7 and white won, 1-0 Iordachescu,V (2601)-Dutreeuw,M (2389)/Turin 2006.

16. Rfd1 Ne7 17. Ne5 Nd5 18. Ng4 Bg7 19. Bg5 Rf8 Stronger is 19… f6! 20. Bxd5 exd5 21. Nh6+ Bxh6 22. Bxh6 Bf5 and it is equal.

20. Bxd5?! 20. Nh6+ Kh8 21. Qc5 Qxc5 22. Rxc5 b6 23. Rc6 Rb8 is only a tiny bit worse for black.

20… exd5 21. Nh6+ Kh8 22. Qc7 Qxc7 23. Rxc7 Be6! Black is all right.


Position after 23…Be6! Black stands well.

24. Be3 If 24. Rxb7 there is a tactical trick: 24…f6 25. Bd2 g5! black has a good game: 26. Bb4 Bxh6 27. Bxf8 Bxf8 28. Rb6 Bf7 29. Rxf6 Kg7 30. Rc6 Be7.

24… b5 25. Rc6 a5 26. b3?? A bad mistake fatally weakening the queenside pawns.

26…Rfc8 27. Rdc1 Rxc6 28. Rxc6 Bf8 29. Bf4 Maybe black will overlook the mate threat?

29…Kg7 30. Bc1 Re8? Easily winning is the simple tactical sequence 30… a4! 31. b4 (31. bxa4 Rxa4 32. h3 – sadly white has to waste time to extricate the h6 knight – 32…Bxa3 33. Bxa3 Rxa3 34. Ng4 b4 35. Rb6 b3 and wins) 31…Bxb4! and wins rapidly and efficiently.

31. g4 In this terrible position, white offers a draw! Black of course declines.

31…Bd7 32. Rc7 Re1+ 33. Kg2 Rxc1! White could resign after this simple blow. However, black shows shaky technique at several points and we reach a weird ending: R, B and wrong rook pawn versus Rook!

34. Rxd7 Kxh6 35. Rxf7 Bxa3 36. h4 g5? Very easy was 36… Rc3 37. f3 g5 38. hxg5+ Kxg5 39. Rxh7 Rc2+ 40. Kf1 Kf4 and wins in a few moves.

37. Rf6+ Kg7 38. hxg5 Be7 39. Rb6 b4 40. Rb7 Kf7 41. Ra7 Ra1?! Simple was 41… Rd1 42. f4 Rxd4 43. Kf3 Rd3+ 44. Kf2 Rxb3 and wins.

42. f4 Ra2+ 43. Kg3 a4? 43… Ra3 is yet another simple win. Now the game enters the tortuous ending phase.

44. bxa4 Ra3+ 45. Kf2 b3 46. Rb7 Rxa4 47. Rxb3 Rxd4 48. Kf3 Bd6 49. Rb7+ Kg8 50. f5 Rf4+ 51. Ke2 d4 52. f6 Bf8 53. Rd7 Rxg4 54. Kf3 Rxg5 55. Rxd4 Rg6 56. Rf4 Kf7 57. Rh4 Bh6 58. Ra4 Rxf6+ 59. Kg4 Kg6 60. Rb4 Bg5 61. Rb7 h5+ 62. Kg3 h4+ 63. Kg2 Kh5 64. Rb4 Rc6 65. Kh3 Rc3+ 66. Kh2 Be7 67. Rd4 Bf6 68. Re4 Bd8 69. Rb4 Bc7+ 70. Kh1 Kg5 71. Ra4 Bf4 72. Ra1 Kg4 73. Rg1+ Bg3 74. Rg2 Kh3 75. Rh2+ Kg4 76. Rg2


Position after 76. Rg2. Care is required.

Naturally black has to be alert to stalemate tricks and not trade rooks with the wrong rook pawn, if white’s king is near the h1 corner!

76…Rc1+ 77. Rg1 Rc6 78. Rg2 Kf3 79. Rg1 Rc2 80. Rg2 Bf2 81. Kh2 Rc1 82. Kh3 Bg3 83. Rg1 Rc2 84. Rg2? A mistake. Tougher is 84. Rh1 (not 84. Rf1+ Rf2 85. Rh1 Kf4! with zugzwang) 84…Rf2 85. Rf1! Ke3! This is the right move, to triangulate to f4. 86. Rh1 Kf4! with the same zugzwang as in the prior note. Or, 86. Re1+ Kf4 87. Rh1 Kf5! with a similar zugzwang. White’s rook is tied to h2, defending the mate, and he has no moves.

84…Rf2! And in light of 85. Rxf2 Kxf2! giving the white king an escape hatch at g4 to release the stalemate but not letting him back to the h1 corner, White resigned.


The match was drawn 2-2. (RIC “A” vs Columbia).