Archive for the ‘Jerry Hanken’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: The 2008 US Championship Qualifier in Tulsa, OK

March 30, 2008


The 2008 Qualifier was held in a restaurant-less roadside motel. Here’s a picture of a sushi train in the eponymously named nearby eaterie, Sushi Train.  See this post for some chess theory from the event.


The Sushi Train Comin’ to Getcha

Sushi Train was a hoot. The train circles the patrons continuously and it’s just one big fish pig-out. Ilya Gurevich and I used to go to a place in Japantown, San Francisco, with a similar (but smaller and less fancy) train. Sushi Train’s train was gaily decorated and had a little signal and warning bar that raised and lowered. It even had a locomotive with a little guy in there and a train-repair car! Of course, food critics might say “Fish in Tulsa??”

To get to Sushi Train, it was necessary to cross several major intersections. Chess players were often seen clutching their equipment bags and running for their life after “overlooking” some people had a green left turn arrow. Other attractions in the area included KMart, Chili’s, a boobie barn named “Tabu” and a rock music nightclub in the playing site. The playing site, some sort of Best Western, had no restaurant, opting for a rather bizarre “club only” option. Here’s a picture of the boobie barn which was conveniently located near a diamond wholesaler that was going out of business. Thus, a possible course of action is to pick up a 70% discounted diamond then head over to Tabu with some nice tips for the dancers in the form of loose stones.


The Boobie Barn “Tabu” it’s the hut under the Forced Liquidation Sign


My own games were a dismal collection. After the “high” of Foxwoods, I had a “bummer”. Too many games packed into each day, an endless assortment of bad take out food (Fedorowicz looked at my gruel-like soup that I was slurping out of a styrofoam container and said “Looks Good”) and a nerve-wracking time control (G/90 + 30 sec delay) led to numerous shall we say sub-optimal resuls. For example, in Round 1 I lost to Coleman. FM Teddy Coleman? No, an expert, Maxx Coleman. My ingenious opening combination led to the immediate loss of a piece which he of course overlooked. The blunder fest continued with me walking into a knight fork. Bravo! After a few wins, I pulled up lame again with a loss to a candidate master, overlooking a one-mover in a slightly superior ending with no losing chances. Bravo!

There were a few chessic things worth mentioning.

Hanken Parts with the Dude

Round 1 saw a wipeout – GM Alex Yermolinsky dropped the People’s Elbow on Jerry Hanken when Jerry ignored every basic opening principle. You can’t do that against GMs. Hanken “parted with the Dude” (his own King) in short order on the white side of a Catalan, which is rather difficult to do.

Jerry Hanken – GM Alex Yermolinsky Round 1. A Catalan Not to Be Emulated.

1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.Qa4 Nbd7 6.O-O a6 7.Qxc4 b5 8.Qc2 Bb7 9.d4 c5 10.Bg5 I believe this position was discussed in GM Beliavsky’s autobiography, Uncompromising Chess. But not the way this game develops.

10…Rc8 11.Qd1 h6 12.Bc1?? Ugh. Never anti-develop versus a GM.

12…Qb6 13.Nc3 cxd4 14.Qxd4 Bc5 15.Qh4 Ke7 16.g4 Ugh. 16…g5 17.Qh3 Qc7 18.Ne1 Ne5 19.Bf3 Rcg8 20.Nd3 Nxf3 21.exf3 Bd6 22.Ne4 Nxe4 23.fxe4 Bxe4 24.Ne1 h5 25.f3 Grotesque. A computer would have resigned. 25…hxg4 26.Bxg5 Rxg5 27.Qxh8 gxf3 0-1 I haven’t seen such senseless butchery since watching the CNN evening news.

Squelching the Moptop

Then in Round 2 we had a very instructional sequence. IM Josh Friedel in a very Russian-styled (think Lein of the old days) game neutralized and then tortured young Daniel Naroditsky when Daniel played a very slow King’s Indian “Attack” as white and then horribly weakened his own f4 square with an instructive positional mistake. That is a very youthful mistake; once a youth makes it, he or she remembers and it tends not to happen again! Trips to Russia will teach one how to play in that grand CCCP-torture mode. Here is the game:

FM Daniel Naroditsky – IM Josh Friedel Round 2 King’s Indian “Attack”

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 Many Russians play 2…Bg4 right away here.

3.Bg2 Bg4 4.O-O Nd7 5.d3 e5 6.Nbd2 Ngf6 7.e4 Bd6 8.c3 O-O 9.Qc2 Re8 10.h3 Bh5 11.Re1 Bf8 12.a4 a5 13.Nf1 This already is a bit suspect. What’s the horse doing?

13…dxe4 14.dxe4 Nc5 15.g4?? The moptop plays a dreadful move that causes no end of torture for himself.

15…Bg6 16.Ng3 Qd3! Of course. Now it’s cake for black. White just isn’t having any fun at all; why is the word ‘attack’ in this opening treatment?

17.Qxd3 Nxd3 18.Re2 Nd7 19.Nh4 N7c5 20.Be3 Rad8 21.Nxg6 hxg6 22.Nf1 Nb3 23.Rb1 Bc5 24.Bf3 Bxe3 25.Rxe3 Nf4

Total domination. A slightly older kid might resign right now with such a bishop battling such a knight.

26.Kh2 Nd2 27.Nxd2 Rxd2 28.Kg3 g5 29.b4 axb4 30.Rxb4 Re7 31.Rb6 Red7 32.Re1 Rc2 33.Rb3 Ne6 34.Rd1 Rxd1 35.Bxd1 Rc1 36.Bf3 Nc5 37.Ra3 Rc2 38.a5 Kf8 39.Bg2 Rb2 40.f3 Rb3 41.Ra2 Rxc3 42.Kf2 Rc4 43.a6 bxa6 44.Bf1 Ra4 45.Rc2 Ra5 46.Rb2 Ke7 47.Rb8 Ra2 48.Kg3 Ra3 49.Kg2 a5 50.Ra8 f6 51.Ra7 Kd6 52.Rxg7 Rc3 53.Rf7 Nd7 54.Ba6 a4 55.Bc8 Nb6 56.Bf5 a3 57.Rxf6 Kc5 58.Rf7 Nc4 59.Ra7 Rc2 60.Kg3 Ne3 61.f4 Nf1 62.Kf3 gxf4 0-1

Greed Should Not Be Good

In Round 3, a perplexing situation arose in a Sicilian versus NM Erik Santarius:

E. Santarius (2203) – IM M. Ginsburg Tulsa Qualifier, Round 3. Sicilian Scheveningen.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 I am gaining confidence with this move after the epic Becerra encounter from Foxwoods 2008.

6. Bd3 Unusual and a little clunky and self-blocking. 6…Nc6! This must be the right reaction.

7. Be3 7. Nxc6 bxc6 promises zero.

7….Be7 8. f3 O-O 9. Qe2 Nxd4! A standard freeing strategem.

10. Bxd4 e5 11. Be3 Be6 Black has his share of the center and the chances are balanced. After all, white has not even managed to castle in either direction yet. But now the game takes a very strange turn.

12. Bc4!? Rc8 13. Bxe6?! I would prefer 13. Bb3 keeping an eye on things. I had no idea what he was up to at this point but it was really the next move that was the absolute shocker.

13…fxe6 14. Bxa7??! Oh. My. God. Did he really take that pawn? Never would I have guessed that any opponent no matter what rating would take this pawn. I don’t usually look at my opponent, but this time I had to take a quick glance to see if he had gone non compos mentis. He looked normal so my sanity check didn’t work. The text seemed at the time to be totally nuts and/or the product of a bad computer program circa 1990. Can he really do that? At the time, I thought “No way!”. He’s not castled, I have possibilities of Rxc3 and Qa5 with a subsequent d6-d5 breakout, or b6 trapping the guy long-term, or Qa5 right away keeping b6 in reserve, or d6-d5 right away keeping Rxc3 and Qa5 in reserve. So many juicy and titillating choices! Running computer programs on the position is a real mother-lode of interesting possibilities now, so in practical terms his pawn snatch really puts the onus on me to be accurate in a very limited time setting (Game/90 + 30 sec delay was the time control).

The variations now are incredible – the hunt for punishment for this move takes a number of twists and turns.

Readers: I will complete this game post soon; for the time being, just look and decide what you think is Black’s best here. Can I punish this audacious, un-castled, pawn grab? Signs point to yes, yes? So what’s the right move?


Position after 14. Bxa7??! – How to punish the greed?

Before posting the rest, I will just note that the game was drawn, with black barely holding a bad ending with R&active N vs RR.

4/3/08: As promised, here is the rest of the game.

14…Rxc3? Not a good reaction. First of all, black has 14… b6!? – a good move and ambitious. 15. Qa6 (15. Nb5 Qd7 16. a4 Ra8 17. a5 bxa5 18. Rxa5 Rfb8!! Black would need good tactics to see this move way ahead of time. Black is now slightly better. 19. O-O Rb7 20. c4 Bd8 21. Ra6 Rbxa7 22. Nxa7 Rxa7 23. Rxa7 Qxa7+ 24. Kh1 Bb6 25. b4 Bd4 26. b5 Nd7 and black is very good. Or, 15. a4 Rxc3! 16. bxc3 Qc7 17. Qe3 Qxa7 18. a5 Nd7 19. O-O d5 and again black is doing well. I did not see the shot on my 14th move. Returning to 15. Qa6, 15… Nd7 16. a4 Bh4+!? (16… Rxc3 17. bxc3 Qc7 18. Ke2 Qxc3! The strongest. Black is a little better.) 17. g3 Rxf3 18. a5 Re3+ 19. Kf2 Nc5 20. Qb5 Qg5 and now let’s show a nice sample variation: 21. Ne2 Nxe4+ 22. Kg2 Nxg3 23. hxg3 Rxg3+ 24. Kf2 Qe3+ 25. Kf1 Rf3+ 26. Kg2 Qf2 mate.

Black also has the tantalizing 14… d5?! – at the time, I thought about this move quite a bit with the idea of Rxc3 next. However, white maintains an edge if I take the n/c3 next turn and I did not understand that. There might follow 15. exd5 exd5! This simple recapture never occurred to me. It’s about equal. (I had focused on 15… Rxc3? 16. bxc3 Qa5 and this is refuted by 17. Qxe5! Qxa7 18. Qxe6+ Rf7 19. Rd1 and White is simply better here. Black has no avenues of attack.) 16. O-O-O (An important variation is 16. O-O!? b6 17. Nb5 Bc5+ 18. Kh1 e4 19. a4 Nh5 A very nice slow-motion positional move, ignoring the queenside piece formation. 20. g3 (20. a5 Nf4 21. Qd1 e3 22. Nc3 bxa5 23. Bxc5 Rxc5 24. Re1 d4 25. Ne2 Ne6 26. Qd3 Qd6 27. Kg1 Rg5 28. Qe4 Rb8 29. b3 Re5) 20… Qd7 21. f4 Qh3 with a mess.

Returning to 16. O-O-O, 16… Rxc3 17. bxc3 Qa5 18. Bf2 Qxc3 19. Kb1 Qb4+ 20. Kc1 Qa3+ 21. Kb1 Bb4?? loses, 22. Qxe5 Bc3 23. Qe6+ Kh8 24. Qb6 Cold shower! White wins. This means black should take the perpetual check draw.

There also is 14… Qa5 , a fine, solid choice. White has to play 15. Bf2 — if 15. Qe3?? Nd7! and oops! White loses the bishop on a7 and the game. I don’t even think I saw this simple possibility – it’s a nice trap.

White has another inferior choice, 15. Be3?! This is dubious, but it takes sharp vision to know why. The answer is 15… d5! and NOT 15… Rxc3?? 16. Bd2! – oops!

After 15….d5!, 16. Bd2 Qc5 17. exd5 exd5 : in this bizarre scenario, white cannot castle in either direction. If the greedy 18. Qxe5? Bd6 19. Qf5 Rce8+ 20. Kd1 (20. Kf1 Ne4! wins) 20… Qf2! and White’s position crumbles. For example, 21. Qg5 (21. Qh3 d4 22. Ne4 Nxe4 23. fxe4 Rxe4 24. Qd3 Qxg2 25. Re1 Qg4+ 26. Kc1 Rxe1+ 27. Bxe1 Bf4+ 28. Kb1 Re8 {A total rout; white must resign.}) 21…Re5 22. Qg3 Re1+ 23. Bxe1 Qd4+ 24. Kc1 Bxg3 25. Bxg3 Qc4!! A beautiful tactic. It shows how black has to open the game versus the loose, uncastled, WK in order to win.

Returning to the game,

15. bxc3 Qa5 16. Qe3! d5 17. a4 Qb5 This position is worse for black than I thought during the game.

18. Bc7?! Indicated is 18. a4 Qc4 (18… Qc6 19. O-O d4 20. Bxd4! exd4 21. cxd4! and white is much better – black’s minor pieces have no perspectives) 19. Qd3 Qc6 20. Ba5 with white edge.

18… Nd7? Correct is 18… dxe4! with full counterplay. This simple move was simply not on my radar.

19. exd5 exd5 20. a4? The grab 20. Bxe5! is correct and black cannot exploit the WK. White should win that.

20…Qc6 21. Ba5 e4 22. Bb4 Bh4+ 23. Kd1 Re8 24. Rf1 Bf6 25. a5 h6? Bad move! This game really showed a lot of inaccuracies in such a short time, on both sides.

Correct is 25… Ne5! and black is all right.: 26. Qc5 (26. fxe4 dxe4 27. Qc5 Qe6 28. Kc1 Nc4 29. Qh5 e3 30. Qe2 Rc8 {Full positional compensation.}) 26… Qe6 27. Re1 Nc4 28. Qb5 Bg5 29. Qxb7 Ne3+ 30. Kc1 exf3 31. Kb2 f2 32. Rxe3 Bxe3 33. a6 Qf7 and it is equal.

26. f4! Of course. White has control again.

26…Rc8 27. Rf2 Qc4 28. Qe2 Bxc3 29. Qxc4 Rxc4 30. Bxc3 Rxc3 31. Rb1 e3 32. Rf3 Nc5 33. Rb4 Kf7 34. f5 Kf6 Of course black should lose but in this crazy time control (G/90 + 30 sec increment), well played endings are impossible.

35. Rg4 Ra3 36. Ke2 Rxa5 37. Rxe3 Ra2 38. Rc3 Ne4 39. Rc7 Kxf5 40. Rgxg7 b5 41. Kd3 Ra1 42. Ke2 b4 43. Rgf7+ Ke5 44. Rf1 Ra2 45. Re1 Kd4 46. Kf3 Nc3 47. Rc1 Ra6 48. Rf7 Re6 49. Rf4+ Kc5 50. Ra1 d4 51. Ra5+ Kc4 52. Rff5? In time pressure, white missed 52. Ra8! Re3+ 53. Kg4 Re2 54. Rc8+ Kd5 55. Rd8+ Kc5 56. Rf5+ Kc6 57. Rxd4 Rxg2+ 58. Kh3 Rxc2 59. Rc4+ Kd7 60. Rxb4 and wins. Not an easy variation.

52… Re3+ Immediately equal was 52… b3 53. cxb3+ Kxb3 =

53. Kg4 b3 54. cxb3+ Kxb3 55. Rf2 d3 56. Ra6 Ne4 Black tricks himself with 56… h5+ 57. Kxh5 Ne4 58. Rf8 d2 59. Rd8 Re2 60. Rc6 Nc3 61. Rd3!! and wins.

57. Kf4 Re1 58. Re6?! White can dance around and eventually prevail with 58. Rf3 Nc5 59. Rc6 Kb4 60. Rf2 Nb3 61. Rb6+Kc4 62. Rd6 Kc3 63. Rd8 Nc5 64. Kg4 Re2 65. Kf3. However, he had very little time and decided to go for the easy draw.

58… Nxf2 59. Rxe1 d2 60. Rf1 Kc3 61. g4 Kd3 62. Kf3 d1=Q+ 63. Rxd1+ Nxd1 64. h4 Ne3 65. Kf4 Ng2+ 66. Kf5 Nxh4+ 67. Kf6 Nf3 68. Kg6 1/2-1/2 Almost to the proverbial last pawn.

Dealing with the Semi-Slav Harshly

In the entire Tulsa event, I had one bright spot in a game vs. Conrad Holt:

IM M. Ginsburg – C. Holt, Tulsa Qualifier 2008. Round 4. Slav Defense.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3!? I like this gambit idea without the knight yet on c3. Magnus Carlsen had some nice wins with this line recently. In particular, I believe he dispatched the veteran GM Lajos Portisch rather convincingly.

4…Bf5 5. Bg2 e6 6. O-O Nbd7 7. Nc3 Bd6 8. Nh4 Bg4 9. h3 Bh5 It’s useful to put bishop a little offside. White shouldn’t go crazy, though, and expose his own king to attack.

10. Qb3 Rb8 10…Qb6 11. c5! is no fun at all for black. After 11…Qxb3 12. axb3, b3-b4-b5 happens.

11. cxd5! The right moment. Now black cannot take back with a pawn and so must take with the knight, and this concedes white a big center.


Position after 11. cxd5! – I am at least doing something right this tournament.

11…Nxd5 12. e4 Nxc3 13. bxc3 O-O 14. f4 b5 15. Nf3 Bxf3 White forced this concession. The two bishops will become very powerful when the game opens up.

16. Bxf3 c5 Black is doing his best to make counterplay. Now I hatch a very strong idea to defuse black’s principal idea of b5-b4.

17. e5 Be7 18. f5! The key idea. White must attack quickly and open the game for the bishops.


Position after 18. f5! – Hurry-up offense.

18…exf5?! I would prefer not taking although white is clearly better. The text gives up the d5 outpost.

19. Bf4! g5? Suicide and a move I did not really expect to see. Any other move defending against e6 would be better.

20. Be3 b4 21. Qc2! Black is now toast due to the threat of Qxf5 and Be4, mating. The rest of the game is a mop-up with the bishop pair showing some stylish variations near the end.

21…Qb6 22. Qxf5 Qe6 23. Qe4! The threat of Bg4 is lethal.

23…Qxh3 24. Rf2 Qh6 25. Bg4 Rbd8 Now, with a big time edge, I got confused. Can I win/mate with 26. Rh2 Qg7 27. Bf5 h6 28. Kg2 with the idea of doubling rooks on the h-file and jettisoning my c- and d-pawns? Suppose I calculate wrong? Things get kind of sharp. More perplexing, after black takes on c3 and proceeds to take on d4, I might be able to recapture on d4. But this doubling on the h-file looked so primitive! In the end, I decided just to advance my monster center pawn duo.

26. d5 (!) The simplest. 26…Rfe8 To guard against d6 winning the bishop.

27. Raf1 Bd6 28. e6! Crushing.

28…fxe6 29. Bxe6+ Kh8 30. cxb4! It’s always nice to be able to afford moves like this. White is simply playing to get on the a1-h8 diagonal.

30…Bxg3 31. bxc5 So obvious it does not merit an exclamation. 31…Bxf2+ 32. Rxf2 Nf6


Position after 32…Nf6

33. Bd4! A little embarrassing would be 33. Rxf6? Qxf6 34. Bd4 Rxe6! – a nice and unusual trick exploiting various pins – allowing black to play on after 35. Bxf6+ Rxf6 36. Qe7 Rdf8. White might win, but why bother? The text puts black in a terminal bind.

33…Rf8 34. c6 Qg7 35. Qe5 Nh5 36. c7! With utter destruction. Black resigned. If only my other Tulsa games were coherent.


More Photos!

Some Tulsa-ites (Tulsites?) (Tulsians?) (Tulipers?) (Tulsonians?) have a social conscience!

Tulsans against the War

A Tulsonian Makes Her Stand

Grandmaster Goldin doesn’t know what to do order in the fast food grill joint! (inconveniently, across a frontage road from the site, but for $2 Tulsa burgers, this is the place.

Goldin in the Grill Joint

What the Hell is this Strange Menu? Emu Burger? Yak Filet?

Tulsa had a strange habit of putting micro-ads into the scrub grass. These little signs only attracted the attention of vagrants, transients, and chess players staggering along the highway frontage road.

Here are some of the odd signs.

4 Handed Massage?!

Intriguing. I will call.

Trees are Good

Oh Yeah! Tulsa supports the Occasional Tree Amongst the Billboards!

Even More Chess!

There were many interesting games played.

Here’s a fascinating tangle from Round 4.

IM Blas Lugo – GM Jesse Kraai French Exchange

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4!? 5.Nxe4 Be7
A favorite treatment of GM Evgeny Bareev. This is not as quiet as it appears since the kings wind up on opposite sides often. It has the advantage of avoiding many long mainline theory variations.

6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.Qd2 O-O 9.O-O-O Be7 10.Bd3 b6 11.Kb1 The primitive 11. h4 turned out to be too slow in Suetin-Bareev, Hastings 1991, and black won after 11…Bb7 12 Kb1 Nf6. To give a counter-example, White won after 11. h4 Bb7 12. c3!? Nf6 13. Neg5 Bxf3 14. gxf3, but this position is equal after 14…Qd5. Black played 14…Kh8?! and lost in Topalov-Dreev, Linares 1995. The text move, on the other hand, also doesn’t promise much – only 3 draws in Chessbase’s BigBase. A more dangerous try is 11. Neg5!? which hopes for 11…h6? — after 11. Neg5 h6?, white scored +4 =0 -0 in ChessBase! But there’s a curiosity here: in Volokitin-P.H. Nielsen, Germany 2004, the game went 11. Neg5 h6 12. Bh7+ Kh8 13. Be4 which at first glance looks good for white. However, at first glance black missed 13…hxg5 14. Bxa8 g4! and the threat of Be7-g5 wins material for black! In the game, black played 13…Bxg5 14. Nxg5 Rb8 and lost. However, he was doing OK after 15. Nf3 Nf6 16. Bc6 Qd6 17. Ne5 Ng4! 18. Nxg4 Qc6 – he only lost due to later middlegame miscues. The truth about 13…hxg5? is revealed in another example, J. Polgar – F. Berkes, Budapest 2003, white introduced an incredible gambit: 12. Bh7+ Kh8 13. Be4 hxg5? 14. g4!! (not the greedy 14. Bxa8?) and now black faces complex problems. White stops black from playing g5-g4 and prepares to open the h-file. In the game, black lost after 14…Rb8 15. h4 g6 16. hxg5+ Kg7 17. Qf4 and white crashed through. The question is, can black live after 14. g4? Let’s take a look. First of all, 14….Ba6 15. h4! gxh4 16. g5! is crushing. For example, 16…Kg8 17. Rxh4 f5 (What else?) 18. Bc6 Rc8 19. Rdh1 Kf7 20. d5! and wins. Let’s go back to Berkes’s choice, 14…Rb8. 15. h4 and first we see that 15…gxh4? is bad: 16. g5 g6 17. Rxh4+ Kg7 18. Rdh1 Rg8 19. Rh7+ Kf8 20. Qf4! and wins.

So we go to Berkes choice, 15…g6 16. hxg5+ Kg7 17. Qf4. This is critical. We first notice that 17…Ba6 is crushed by a typical Judit Polgar brute-force tactic 18. Rh7+!! Kxh7 19. Qh2+ Kg8 20. Rh1 Bxg5+ 21. Nxg5 Qxg5+ 22. f4! and wins. We also notice that Berkes’s choice, 17…Bb7?, was crushed by the same tactic.

what about 17…Rh8!? – trying to defend on the h-file. There follows 18. Rxh8 Qxh8 (forced) 19. Ne5! and now black cannot take: 19…Nxe5? 20. Qxe5+ Kg8 21. Qxc7 Bxg5+ 22. Kb1 and the rook on b8 is trapped; white wins. And after 19…Qe8 20. Rh1! the lethal threat of 21. Nxf7! is introduced. Black still cannot take on e5 and hence is lost.

Going back to the beginning, 11. Neg5!? is best met by 11…Bxg5! and now 12. Qxg5 Qxg5+ 13. Nxg5 Nf6 is dead equal. Or, 12. Nxg5 Nf6 and black is OK and even won in B. Lopez-Kraai, San Diego 2004. That game continued 13. Qf4 Bb7 14. Rhe1 Qd6!? and here white disdained an equal ending after 15. Qxd6, opting for 15. Qh4 h6 16. Nf3 (16. Ne4! equal) Bxf3 17. gxf3 Nd5 18. Re4, eventually getting into trouble with the weak d4 pawn. White tried 13. h4!? in Sax-Dizdar, Celje 2003, and black reacted suspiciously with 13…c5?! 14. dxc5 Qd5 15. Kb1? Qxc5 equal. But white missed 15. Qf4!! Qxa2 16. Nxh7! Nxh7 17. Qe4 Nf6 18. Qxa8 Qa1+ 19. Kd2 Qxb2 20. Qxa7 and white keeps a small plus. Stronger is 13. h4 Bb7! and black is fine.

11…Bb7 12.Qf4 c5 In Sindik-Dizdar, Pula 1993, black introduced an idea similar to the game: 12…Qb8!? 13. Qg3 c5! with good play. White can improve with 13. Ne5! c5 14. Bb5! Nf6 with sharp play after 15. Nxf6+ Bxf6 16. Rhe1 and now the Korchnoi pawn grab 16…Bxg2!?

13.dxc5 Qb8! Gambits in opposite-castled king positions are effective even in the ending! This is particularly true in the “perpetual time pressure” time control of G/90+30 sec.

14.Qxb8 Raxb8 15.cxb6 Nxb6 16.b3? Correct is the solid 16. Ned2! and hunkering down. This would not create the c3 weakness in the game.

16…Na4! Very unpleasant to meet in this time control. White probably overlooked this.

17.Rde1 Bxe4 18.Bxe4 Nc3+ 19.Kb2 Bf6 This position is terrible for white.

20.Bd3 Ne4 21.Kb1 Nxf2 22.Rhf1 Nxd3 23.cxd3 Rfd8 24.Re3 a5 25.Ne5 Rd5? Correct is 25…Bxe5 26. Rxe5 a4! and black is on top. For example, 27. Kc2 axb3+ 28. axb3 Ra8 29. Kc3 Ra2 with a huge initiative.

26.Nc6 Rb7 27.Rg3 Kf8 28.Rf4! White is doing the right things now to get back in the game.

28...Be5 29.Nxe5 Rxe5 30.Rc4 f5 31.Rf3? 31. Kc1!

31…Ke7 31…Re2! is strong. 32.Rf2 Rd7 33.Kc2 Red5 34.Rf3 Kf6 35.Kc3 g5 36.d4? 36. h4! to reduce the number of pawns.

36…f4 37.a3 Kf5 Now black is gaining control again with his monstrously active king.

38.Rc5? White had to wait with 38. Rf2. The pseudo-active text is crushed.

38…g4 39.Rf1 e5! White probably underestimated this.

40.Rxd5 Rxd5 41.dxe5 Rxe5 42.Kd2 h5 43.b4 axb4 44.axb4 h4 45.Rb1 f3 46.gxf3 gxf3 47.b5 Kg4! The key move. White is lost.

48.b6 f2 49.b7 Re8 50.Rb4+ Kh3 51.Rb3 Kg2 52.b8Q Rxb8 53.Rxb8 f1Q 54.Re8 0-1


The Fabulous 00s: Never Let Chess or Bridge Bums Near Vast Amounts of Cash

March 14, 2008

Watch Out for Games Playing Bums with Twinkly Gazes and Large Piles of Cash Sitting Nearby

As reported 3/14/08, the massive brokerage firm Bear Stearns is facing liquidity problems (i.e. death) in its unfortunate sub-prime mortgage forays and has been bailed out by the Federal Reserve in an arrangement with JP Morgan to provide short-term financing.

Author’s postscript 3/18/08: Bear Stearns indeed failed and sold itself to JP Morgan for a paltry $2 per share. (PPS: the sordid tale is not over, JPM increased the bargain to $10/share to mask the thievery a little bit). Bridge bum Jimmy Cayne made out like a bandit, shelling out $25.8M for a private apartment (no mortgage necessary!) shortly before the death throes.  Chess players should be allowed to crash on one of his sofas (note the plural – multiple chess bums on multiple sofas) – to demonstrate chess and bridge kinship. Many thousands of shareholders and employees with Bear 401K’s were ruined faster than you can say “3 No Trump.” It’s time for torches and pitchforks! What was Cayne doing during the collapse? “As investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed, and was sold to JPMorgan Chase for a scant $240 million, its chairman James Cayne played bridge at a tournament last week in Detroit over two critical days, like Nero fiddling away as Rome burned. ” This is as unpalatable as a chess match to help a kid win a chess record. To continue with the mirth, ” … ‘I think this is a bridge to a permanent solution,’ Bear Stearns chief executive Alan Schwartz said during a conference call with investors following the announcement of emergency financing from JP Morgan Chase and the Federal Reserve. But it was a different kind of bridge that was on the mind of Jimmy Cayne, the chairman of Bear Stearns. As Bear shares plunged and Wall Street began to speculate that the bank may not exist as an independent entity by the weekend’s end, Cayne was in Detroit, playing in the North American Bridge Championship.” Bridge, get it? Hahahaha. Schwartz is also a very good bridge player, by the way (better go get your silver bullets to defeat these ghoulish gambling vampires). Great stuff. Can’t make this stuff up.
All of this started when the imperious bridge player Warren Spector blew up two major Bear Hedge Funds. What was Jimmy Cayne doing when Spector was imploding? Playing bridge and …. you’ll have to read about it yourself. Here’s a tidbit from the NY Times: “The [Wall Street] Journal article leads with an account of 10 days in July that Mr. Cayne spent at a bridge tournament in Nashville, Tenn., even as two of Bear’s hedge funds were staggering (fellow bridge bum Spector’s funds!! – author’s note) toward what would eventually become twin bankruptcy filings. He was “without a cellphone or an email device” during the trip, the Journal said.” Nice! Hope he won a prize (they award trophies and ego points, there is no cash as far as I know). So we have a bridge player melting down 2 major funds, and his bridge playing supervisor unreachable at a bridge tournament! Looks like a bad run of cards there!Well, Bear Stearns was headed up by a bridge guy, Alan “Ace” Greenberg, for many years so maybe was leading Bear to the discard pile all along: “When the Federal Reserve helped plan a bailout in 1998 of Long Term Capital Management, the hedge fund, Bear Stearns proudly refused to join the effort. Until recent weeks, Alan “Ace” Greenberg, Bear Stearns’s chairman for more than 20 years and a championship bridge player, still regaled its partners over lengthy lunches about gambling with the firm’s money in its wood-paneled dining room.” [a nice quote from the NY Times meriting a snicker.] Need another laugh from the NY Times? Here’s a report on Bear Stearns’ assessment of its mortgage-backed positions: “According to Bear Stearns’s annual report, $29 billion of them were valued using computer models “derived from” or “supported by” some kind of observable market data. The value of the remaining $17 billion is an estimate based on “internally developed models or methodologies utilizing significant inputs that are generally less readily observable.” This statement akin to a poker bluff hoping no investor will “call”! Side note: it’s strange that Spector, the guy who really flushed the toilet on Bear’s value, (Cayne’s right-hand man and Bear co-President at the time), is not mentioned in the NY Times birth-to-death history page. After all, the NY Times reports the blame game: “in the hallways at Bear, there were many to blame: James Dimon, chief executive at JPMorgan, whose stock rose 10 percent as the market cheered him for getting such a bargain; the Federal Reserve of New York for pushing hard for a deal; Warren J. Spector, the former co-president who was responsible for the two hedge funds that collapsed last summer; and finally Mr. Cayne and Mr. Schwartz (CFO), for not having brought additional capital into the firm last year. ” Author’s note: I worked as a consultant for JP Morgan for several years and it was a hoot. Go JP go! 2nd note: I worked at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s, another firm that blew up due to unethical and in that case, illegal “bets” on junk bonds and what have you. The Fed didn’t rescue “evil” Drexel (we were told to find new jobs several months in advance of the bankruptcy filing), but selling Bear @ $2/share is hardly a rescue to the lifer employees whose pensions were trashed. “An average Bear Stearns employee who had $200,000 in a retirement fund now has just $2,000.” Ouch.   

Spector Saves His Fortune

Here’s a postscript (3/27/08) guaranteed to get some groans from distraught shareholders: Spector’s sacking let him save his fortune by forcing him to vest options at more than $87/share (a million shares!).  Who hired this guy?


Never let a chess or bridge bum near vast amounts of cash, unless the person involved is purely beatific; i.e. GM Ken Rogoff and his leadership role at the World Bank. Here’s the thing: chess and bridge bums have the bad combination of extreme ego-involvement and extreme greed. This is the undoing of any venture that includes a lot of cash and a chess or bridge bum at the helm. We are also seeing this play out at Chrysler that is showing signs of demise (i.e. 2 weeks forced vacation for everyone (!)) – it is captained by a most certainly non-automotive LLC headed by NM Stephen Feinberg.Enjoy the Princeton connection. Spector (well, he only made it a few years before transferring; he did not get his undergrad degree there), the author, and Feinberg all attended that lofty institution. In addition, GM Rogoff at one point was the Charles and Marie Robertson Professor of International Affairs at Princeton University (the Woodrow Wilson School with its very nice fountain) but made the unfortunate early-life decision (maybe he was egged on by ill-informed well-wishers or relatives) to attend the rather downtrodden Yale University in the undesirable location of New Haven, Connecticut (I visited the frigid campus once, stayed on Lake St. a block or two from campus, heard sporadic gunfire, and was told it was normal – gratuitous irrelevant Hanken-style commentary). Another cool factoid: the current dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, Anne-Marie Slaughter, was my classmate. I observe she has changed her hairstyle since undergraduate days (gratuitous out of place Jerry Hanken-style physical comment). But I always laugh thinking of “Sgt. Slaughter from Slaughter!” Music radio promo. Does anyone remember the band Slaughter?

I admit the topic of extreme money and greed is depressing. Need an ‘upper’? Nick Conticello located the 1883-1997 Manhattan Chess Club Champions list!

The Fabulous 70s Part 11 – US Opens

July 22, 2007

My first US Open was in Fairfax, VA 1976 on the George Mason University Campus. Quite a collection of notable showed up. GM, ex-World Junior Champ, (and at that time also “Father” (Priest)) Bill Lombardy, World Junior Champ-to-be Mark Diesen, loud kibitzer and blowhard Jerry Hanken (he would shush whomever he considered a lesser light), and a whole flock of hopefuls. In a bizarre historical footnote, the very same Jerry Hanken talked loudly and for several minutes near my time-trouble game (ignoring requests to be quiet) a full 29 years later (!) causing me to go wrong in a Las Vegas tournament. Look for that game in one of the Fabulous 00s installments.

One of the amusing events from this US Open was Lombardy blowing cigar smoke into Diesen’s face. That game also featured an amusing adjournment (yes, adjournments as dinner breaks or even to break the game until the next day occurred back then!). If memory serves me correctly (Diesen will have to check me on this) Lombardy chose to adjourn with the unusual material imbalance of a lone King versus King and Rook.

Note 3/16/10: GM Fedorowicz informs me that Father Bill Lombardy went berserk against him (not Diesen) at Fairfax, dropping a piece in time trouble.  I don’t know if Diesen played Lombardy at Fairfax; am trying to locate relevant game scores – readers?

Here is a battling effort vs future IM Calvin Blocker, who hails from Cleveland, OH. Note the bizarre time control.

Calvin Blocker (2260) – Mark Ginsburg (2095)

US Open, Fairfax, VA 1976. Round 7. 50/150. Date played: 8/22/76.

Sicilian Defense, Maroczy Bind (by transposition)

Future IM Calvin Blocker has always been a seeker of chess truth, expending all his allotted time to find the best moves. He is a tough opponent as well as being a piano maestro (all around nice guy, recently departed GM Igor Ivanov, was also a maestro of the ivories).

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. e4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Nc3 d6 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. Be3 a6 Needless to say, I knew no theory at all. 9… Bd7 is possible here.

10. Rc1 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be6 12. b3 An interesting line here is 12. Qd3!? b5 (?!) 13. cxb5 axb5 14. Nxb5 Rxa2 15. Nc7 Qd7 16. Qb1! Ra5 17. b4 Rb8 18. b5! and white is well on top.

12… Qa5 13. f4! b5 14. f5 Bd7 15. g4! A Theoretical Novelty (TN) from Mr. Blocker. Previously seen was 15. fxg6 fxg6 16. e5 dxe5 17. Bxe5 in a prior game, but here in Prukner-Pecner, Kubin 1978, black played 17…Bc6? missing 17…b4! which is just good for him. For example, 17…b4 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. Bxg7 Ne3 20. Qxd7 Qg5! and black is at least equal. White is simply better after Blocker’s powerful innovation.


15… b4! The best reaction.

16. g5 bxc3 17. gxf6 Bxf6 18. Bxf6 exf6 19. Qxd6 Qxa2 This position is of course not very appealing for black but he still is in the game. White will need good technique to convert this.

20. Bf3 Qd2! The most effective resistance.


21. Qxd2 Not particularly better is 21. Qxf6 c2 22. Qb2 Rab8 23. Rxc2 Qe3+ 24. Kh1 Rxb3 25. Qf6 Rb6 and black fights on.

21… cxd2 22. Rcd1 gxf5 Another way 22… Rfe8 with the idea of Bc6 hitting white’s weak pawn on e4. In all lines black is slightly worse but has good drawing chances.

23. Rxd2 Ra7 24. exf5 Bxf5 25. Bc6 Be6 26. Rxf6 Rb8 27. Rd3 Rc7 28. Be4 If 28. Rg3+ Kf8 29. Be4 Ke7 30. Rh6 a5 and black retains counterplay. For example, 31. Rc3 Rb4 32. Bxh7 a4 with good drawing chances.

28… a5 29. Rg3+ 29. Rh6 a4 30. Rxh7 Rbc8 31. Rg3+ Kf8 32. bxa4 Rxc4 is equal.

29…Kf8 30. Bxh7 Ke7 31. Rf2 a4 32. bxa4 Rxc4 33. Ra3 Rbb4 34. Bc2 Rb2 35. Bd3 Rg4+ 36. Kf1 Rxf2+ 37. Kxf2 Rh4! A nice defensive resource. Black can now perpetually harrass the h-pawn; so White now jettisons his h-pawn to bum’s rush the a-pawn, but it’s not enough. Black’s program of counterplay (a5-a4) worked perfectly.


38. a5 38. Kg3 Rg4+ 39. Kf2 (or 39. Kf3) Rh4 doesn’t lead anywhere.

38…Rxh2+ 39. Ke3 Kd6 40. a6 Bd5 41. Ra4 If 41. a7 Rh8 and black is safe.

41…Rh3+ 42. Kd2 Rh8 43. Kc3 Kc7 44. Rd4 Bc6 45. Rf4 Rf8 46. Rf6 Rd8! Black realizes correctly that the f-pawn is irrelevant to this position. The only concern is to establish a solid defensive wall on the queenside.The text hurries to do that.

47. Rxf7+ Rd7 48. Rf6 Rd6 49. Rf7+ Kb6 50. Bc4 Rd7 51. Rf6 Rc7 52. Kb4 Ka7! This is the unbreakable formation. Once black’s king nestles here, the game can safely be declared drawn. It cannot be budged from this blockading square. The last thing an inexperienced player wants is to be tricked into defending R vs R&B: there is no way I could hold that, not knowing any theory.


Practically speaking, rescuing inferior positions like this is as important in tournament play as converting advantages.

53. Bd3 Bd5 54. Rf5 Bg2 55. Rg5 Bf3 56. Bc4 Kb6 57. Rg6+ Ka7 58. Rd6 Bg2 59. Re6 Bf3 60. Re5 Bg2


A pretty good defensive effort from the non-openings-knowledgeable expert playing black. Calvin would go on to inflict an unpleasant defeat on me in the last round of the Chicago Open 1979, depriving me of top honors after I had beaten GM Dzindzi in a miniature in the penultimate round.

In the 10th round of this tournament I faced another Ohio Master, Thomas Wozney. This time I demonstrated decent competence in the same opening (as White) – the Maroczy Bind – but frittered away the winning middle game and could only draw a rook ending.

Mark Ginsburg (2095) – Thomas Wozney (2242), Round 10. 50/150.

Sicilian Defense, Maroczy Bind (by transposition)

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bg7 5. e4 Nc6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Ng4 8. Qxg4 Nxd4 9. Qd1 Ne6 9….e5?! is the positionally suspect alternative.

10. Rc1 d6 11. b4! A hyper-accurate choice of GM Portisch that had been Gligoric’s Game of the Month in a recent (with respect to this Wozney game) Chess Life magazine. This move sent the popularity of the 9…Ne6 variation way downhill. I was familiar with Gligoric’s column…

11…O-O 12. Be2 b6 The reasonable 12… a5 13. a3 axb4 14. axb4 Bd7 15. O-O Bc6 just had Portisch squeeze his opponent to death after 16. Qd2 Ra3 17. Nd5 Kh8 18. Bb6 Qd7 19. f4 f5 20. exf5gxf5 21. Bf3 Rfa8 22. Rce1 Ra1 23. b5 Bxd5 24. Qxd5 Nd8 25. Rxa1 Rxa1 26. Rxa1 Bxa1 27. c5 e6 28. c6 bxc6 29. bxc6 exd5 30. cxd7 Bf6 31. Bxd5 Kg7 32. Bc4 Be733. Kf2 Nc6 1-0 Portisch,L (2645)-Pfleger,H (2535)/Manila 1974 Interzonal and this was the game featured in Gligoric’s Chess Life column.

13. O-O Bb7 14. Nd5 Qd7 15. Qd2!? Unusual, but not quite a theoretical novelty. 15. Bg4!? f5 16. Bh3 Nc7 17. Nxc7 Qxc7 18. exf5 gxf5 19. c5 dxc5 20. bxc5 f4 21. cxb6 Qe5 22. Bc5 Rfd8 23. Qb3+ Bd5 24. Qb4 axb6 25. Bxe7 Re8 26. Bd6 Qe4 27. Qxe4 Rxe4 28. a3 Bf8 29. Bxf8 Kxf8 30. Rfd1 Bf7 31. Rd6 Rxa3 32. Rxb6 Rd4 33. Rcb1 f3 34. Rf6 Rb3 35. Re1 fxg2 36. Be6 Rb7 37. Kxg2 Re7 38. Re3 Kg7 39. Rxf7+ Rxf7 40. Rg3+ Kf8 41. Bxf7 Kxf7 42. h3 Ra4 43. Rg4 Ra3 44. f3 Kf6 45. Kg3 Ra5 1/2-1/2 Adorjan,A (2560)-Larsen,B (2565)/Hastings 1986 is an example of this line between two good players.


15… Rfd8? A really bad move, wasting multiple tempi and putting black immediately in a lost game. 15…Nc7! is correct to challenge the white knight with two examples. 15… Nc7 16. Nc3?! (16. Bg5 Nxd5 17. exd5 Rfe8 18. Rfe1 e5 19. dxe6?! (19. a3! f5 20. Bh6 Bh8 21. Rc3 e4 22. Rh3 Be5 and white is somewhat better) 19… Rxe6 20. Bf1 Rae8 21. Red1 Qc6 22.Bf4 h5 23. Bxd6 Re2 24. Qd3 Rxa2 25. c5 bxc5 26. Rxc5 Qb6 27. Qb5 Qxb5 28. Bxb5 Rd8 29. Rc7 Ba6 30. Bd7 Be2 31. Be7 Bxd1 32. Bxd8 Ra1 33. Bg5 Bc2+ 0-1 Petursson,M (2350)-Janosevic,D (2455)/Lone Pine 1978) 16… f5 17. exf5 gxf5 18. f4 and white didn’t have much but went on to win in Schinzel,W (2375)-Jasnikowski,Z (2380)/Warsaw 1981. I think better is 15…Nc7 16. Bh6! TN and white has an edge.

16. Bg4! Rf8 Black must make a crawling retreat. His position is critical.

17. Qd3 The simple 17. Bh6 is very good too.

17…Kh8 18. f4 Qd8 19. f5 Nc7


20. fxg6?! 20. Bd4 is winning. 20…Nxd5 (20… Bxd4+ 21. Qxd4+ f6 22. fxg6 hxg6 23. Rc3 Nxd5 24. exd5 Kg7 25. Rg3 Rh8 26. Bf5 Rh6 27. Qe4 Qe8 28. Rff3! Kh7 29. Rxg6 Rxg6 30. Rg3 is crushing) 21. exd5 Bf6 22. fxg6 hxg6 23. Rxf6! exf6 24. Rf1 Kg8 25. Bxf6 forces black to resign. The text is not as efficient, but white is still winning.

20… hxg6 21. Bg5 Nxd5 22. exd5 22. cxd5 is very strong. For example, 22…Bf6 (22… Kg8 23. Rf2 a5 24. b5 Bc8 25. Rxc8 Rxc8 26. Bxc8 Qxc8 27. Bxe7) 23. Rxf6 exf6 24. Qd4 Kg7 25. Rf1 and white wins.

22… Bc8 23. Qh3+?! The simple 23. Bxc8 Rxc8 24. Qe4! Rc7 25. Rce1! f6 26. Re3! keeps a big attack.

23…Kg8 24. Rfe1?! One again, 24. Bxc8 Rxc8 25. Qh4 f6 26. Be3 f5 27. Qg5 Kf7 28. Qh4 Kg8 29. Bg5 Rf7 30. Rf3 Kf8 31. Re3 f4 32. Re6 is winning.

24… Bxg4 25. Qxg4 Bf6 26. Bxf6 exf6 27. Rc3 Re8 28. Rf1 28. Rce3!? was interesting. White has moved out of the clear win category and is now only in the stands better category.

28…Re5 29. Rcf3 f5! 30. Rxf5 Qd7 When the queens come off, black’s rooks will become very active and any white win becomes far off.

31. R5f4 Qxg4 32. Rxg4 a5! 33. a3 axb4 34. axb4 b5! Generating counterplay in a very similar manner to the Blocker game presented above.


35. Rd1 bxc4 36. Rxc4 Ra2 37. h3 f5 38. Rd3 Kf7 39. Rc7+ Kf6 40. Rd7



40… Re1+! 41. Kh2 f4! tries to make a mating net and is a valid winning attempt(!) for black. Then, 42. Rf3! White has to avoid the tempting but highly incautious capture 42. Rxd6+?? which is what black is hoping for. The mating net forms after 42…Kg5 43. Re6 Rf1 44. Re5+ Kf6 45. Re6+ Kf7 and black wins! After 42. Rf3!, 42… g5 43. Rxd6+ Kf5 44. Re6 Rd1 draws.

41. Rxd6+ Kf5 42. Re6 42. g4+ Ke4! 43. Rb3 Ra1+ 44. Kf2 Ra2+ is drawn. The text is also hopelessly drawn.

42… Rxd5 43. Rxd5+ Kxe6 44. Rd8 Rb2 45. Rb8 Ke5 46. b5 f3 47. b6 Rxg2+ 48. Kf1 Kd6 49. Rf8 Rb2 50.Rg8 Ke5 51. Rxg6 Kf4 52. h4 Rb1+ 53. Kf2 Rb2+


A good comeback by Wozney after his terrible opening. Just for fun I direct readers to a Wozney 10-move victory in Ohio.

Of course, immediately after the decent (semi-bungled) game vs Wozney I uncorked another dreadful effort, this time versus former US Championship participant, James T. Sherwin. The readers may remember Mr. Sherwin for some titanic Bobby Fischer encounters as well as a GAF insider stock trading scandal (it made the financial newspaper front page, although Mr. Sherwin’s convinction was later overturned!).   See Table 1 of this web page for Sherwin’s name in a rogue’s list.  Weirdly, when I was living in Switzerland in the 1999-2000 timeframe, playing in the Swiss League versus the likes of Huebner and Andrei Sokolov, so was Mr. Sherwin. He is listed as living there!

US Open, Round 11. 8/26/76

IM James T. Sherwin (2344) – Mark Ginsburg (2095)

Modern Defense 50/150

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. e4 Nc6 It’s a very interesting question for King’s Indian players – can we get the same formation without posting the KN on f6 right away? If we can, we might save some time. That’s why the Modern Defense (no early Ng8-f6) is sometimes seen.

5. Be3 e5 6. d5 Nce7 7. c5!? A very challenging move to strike at the queenside in an accelerated way. Black must be very careful.

7…a6 7…Bh6 and 7…Nf6 are other possibilities.

8. Qa4+ Bd7 9. Qb4 [68] Qb8 [22] 10. Na4?! 10. Nf3 Nf6 11. cxd6 cxd6 12. Rc1 gives white a significant advantage.

10…Nc8 Necessary, but black keeps a good defensive structure here. It might look a little weird, but he has hidden resources that will soon become apparent.

11. Rc1 Nf6 12. f3 We are soon getting to the key position.

12…O-O [32] 13. Bd3 [90] As you can see from the time elapsed, Sherwin liked to think! He had a very serious and somewhat intimidating board demeanor.

13…Nh5?? [36] A critical misjudgment. Black was playing way too quickly. I must act to clarify the queenside; going for breaks like …f7-f5 totally fail to meet the requirements of the position. Correct is the unusual 13…a5! 14. Qa3 (or 14. Qb3) c6! with the point that, e.g., 14. Qb3 c6 15. dxc6 Bxc6 16. Ne2 d5 is reasonable for black. For example, 17. O-O h6! prevents Be3-g5 and black is OK. Even worse for white is 15. cxd6? cxd5! and now if white plays the incautious 16. exd5?? Bxa4! 17. Qxa4 Nxe5 hits the bishop on e3; the d6-pawn falls, and white winds up a pawn down with a lost game. It takes rather advanced insight to see that …c7-c6! is the right break to aim for here. The key is that white directed his QN offside prematurely.

14. Ne2 f5 15. O-O Bxa4?? A positional blunder of the worst magnitude. Black is now dead lost. 15…Nf6 had to be tried.

16. Qxa4 dxc5 17. exf5 Nb6 18. Qb3 gxf5 19. Bxc5 Rf6 20. Be7 Rf7 21. Bxf5! Rxf5 22. d6+ Rf7 23. dxc7 White concludes the game effortlessly.

23…Qe8 24. Qxb6 Rxe7 25. Rfd1 Rd7 26. Qxb7 Rc8 27. Qxc8 Qxc8 28. Rxd7 Bf6 29. Rcd1 1-0

A really poor effort, where I robotically steered for the “King’s Indian Break” of f5 where it made no sense. The moral is to judge each position independently on its own merits. The offside WN on a4 gave black the surprising …c5-c6! plan which I failed to notice.