Archive for the ‘Johnny Hector’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: Crazy Slav Theory

December 22, 2007

Who said the Slav is boring? Here is a crazy sac line. Well, the *main* game is a short draw. But there are lots of insane variations nestled inside, like a Russian doll-within-a-doll Matrioshka!

Let’s see it.

IM Mark Ginsburg – NM David Filipovich (CAN) Chicago Midwest Masters 5/04

I first met my opponent in Quebec 1980, an infamous tournament where Sammy Reshevsky, in a bad position and in time trouble, riddled me with 5 consecutive draw offers – I got so annoyed I blundered and wanted to shake the little man very vigorously.

1. c4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 White is trying to avoid mainline Slav lines. Black can simply play 4….dxc4!? here with good chances of equality, or go for the Gruenfeld structure with 4…g6. In that case, the most testing move is 5. Bf4 and now black has the chance to play a very interesting move, 5…Na6!? A very interesting sideline. Let’s look at it in some detail.


Position after our Slav “Sideline” 5…Na6!? – What’s going on?

The “solid” but rather uninspiring 5… Bg7 can be met by the “also solid” 6. e3 O-O 7. Nc3 Na6 8. cxd5 Nb4 9. Qd2 Nbxd5 10. Be5! Bh6 11. h3 Be6 12. Be2 Qa5 13. O-O Nxc3 14. Qxc3 Qb6 15. Bc4 and white nursed a small edge to victory, 1-0 Tukmakov,V (2570)-Mariotti,S (2475)/Las Palmas 1978.

6. cxd5? A totally lame move. Also really lame was 6. Nbd2? as played in Ginsburg-Lower, Az. St. Ch. 2004 a few weeks before this game. I won that game, but it had nothing to do with the opening. I really hadn’t studied it!

Correct is 6. e3 Bf5 7. Qb3 and now we get to a key position.

Black can choose from

1. the “gambit” 7…Nb4?,

2. the “speculative” 7…Bxb1?!,

3. or the sensible and apparently new 7….Qb6! – is this really a novelty? No, it’s no novelty; as David Filipovich points out in his comments, 7…Qb6 didn’t do well in games he has seen.

We need to dismiss the first two.

The first thing we have to know here is that 7….Nb4? is totally unsound. The second thing is we have to know why!


Position after 7…Nb4? (Analysis). We have to deal with this tricky bad move.

7… Nb4? 8. Qxb4! The only way to refute something is to take what the opponent gives you.

8…e5 9. Qxb7

Now black has two tries, both of which are quite insufficient.


Position after 9. Qxb7. White is just winning.

Variation A. 9…. exf4? (loses more simply than the alternative)

Variation B. 9….Rb8

Variation A.

The rather primitive try 9…exf4? 10. Ne5! wins for white (remember this!) ,e.g. 10… Bd7 11. Nxd7 Nxd7 12. Qxc6 fxe3 13. Nc3! This is the most accurate. (Humans are tempted by 13. fxe3?! which is OK but less accurate; 13…Rb8 14. Qxd5 Rxb2 15. Bd3! with a white edge – but not 15. Be2? Bb4+ 16. Kd1? (16. Kf2! and white king is out of the danger zone; white is still better) 16…O-O with a huge black initiative, IM Richard Delaune-NM Alexopoulous Philadelphia 1994 and shortly white’s king expired …. 0-1. Black winning the cited game in an upset is an example of the shock and surprise value of placing the horse en prise on move 7.

But again, remember 13. Nc3! is strongest. Don’t be scared of the various hanging pawns. It’s more important to get the guys out of the felt box.


Position after 13. Nc3! Analysis. Remember, don’t worry about the f2-pawn!


13. Nc3! exf2+ (No better is 13… Rb8 14. c5 exf2+ 15. Kxf2 Rxb2+ 16. Kf3 Qf6+ 17. Qxf6 Nxf6 18. Bd3 Be7 19. Rhb1 Rxb1 20. Rxb1 O-O 21. Rb7 Bd8 22. Rxa7 and wins easily) 14. Kxf2 Qh4+ 15. Kf3 Qf6+ 16. Qxf6 Nxf6 17. c5 and black has a terrible game. 13… Rb8 14. Qxd5 (14. Nc3 Rxb2 15. c5 Rc2 16. Ne4 Qh4+ 17. Ng3 Qf6 18. Qxf6 Nxf6 19. Bd3 Rxg2 20. Be2 and the black rook is trapped! White wins.)

Variation B.

Let’s go back to 9….Rb8. 10. Qxa7! This is the right choice. 10. Qa6? is simply bad and 10. Qxc6+!? leads to crazy and unnecessary complications after the queen sac line 10… Bd7 11. Qxf6!? Qxf6 12. Bxe5 Qb6 13. b3 Bb4+ 14. Nbd2 (14. Kd1 is maybe best; 14… O-O 15. Bxb8 Rxb8 16. cxd5 and the computer likes white, but it looks scary to play!) and eventually black won in Alburt-Shabalov, Parsippany 1996.

So after 9….Rb8 remember that 10. Qxa7! is the best move. Now, the try 10… exf4 is refuted by our familiar 11. Ne5! and white wins easily. This may explain why this line is not seen nowadays. For example, 11…Bd7 12. cxd5! (white actually lost after 12. Bd3 fxe3 13. O-O Rxb2 14. fxe3 Bh6 15. Rxf6? A bad misstep by the Swedish GM Akesson in a game vs. GM Hector, Sweden 2004. The brutal 15. Nc3 is correct!


White is going to win after the cold shower variation 15…Bxe3+? 16. Kh1 O-O 17. Nd1!! and wins. It’s worth remembering that if white gets his king to safety, it is likely he’ll win in this set of variations – he can afford pitching pawns left and right because black’s structure is so compromised.

If black does not grab on e3, it transpires that his errant rook on b2 gets in trouble:

15… O-O 16. Rae1 Rd2 (what else?) 17. cxd5 cxd5 18. Qa3! Ng4 19. Qc1 Rxd3 20. Nxd3 Qh4 21. h3 Nxe3 22. Rxe3 Qxd4 23. Rff3, featuring a weird piece line-up, White wins.

Going back to the game, after 15. Rxf6? Qxf6 and poor Akesson was worse now; …. 0-1, Akesson-Hector Sweden 2004. Typical Hector to swindle/win with a very dreadful opening choice.

12… cxd5 13. Nc3! Another familiar motif. White gives up the b2 pawn to speed his agenda. 13…Rxb2 (13… fxe3 14. Nxd7 exf2+ 15. Kxf2 Rxb2+ (15… Nxd7 16. Re1+ Be7 17. Nxd5 wins) 16. Kg1 Nxd7 17. Re1+ Be7 18. Nxd5 O-O 19. Nxe7+ Kg7 and white will be able to convert the material edge into victory.

If the greedy pawn grab 13… Rxb2 14. Nxd7 Nxd7 15. Bb5 Bb4 16. O-O! This is a very important tactic to remember!


Position after 16. O-O! One of the winning tactics in white’s arsenal in this line!

16…Bxc3 (what else?) 17. Bxd7+ Qxd7 18. Qa8+ Qd8 19. Qc6+ Ke7 20. Qxc3! and with a nice bit of tactics, white wins this middlegame.


It is time to draw a conclusion: ater 6. e3 Bf5 7. Qb3, 7…Nb4? is totally unsound.

Let’s go back to 6. e3 Bf5 7. Qb3. We’ve seen 7….Nb4? is actually rather ridiculous and loses. Now let’s see 7…Bxb1?!, tested by Shabalov unsuccessfully: 8. Qxb7 Qa5+ 9. Nd2 Rd8 10. Qxc6+ Nd7 11. Qb5 (11. Rxb1! Nb4 12. Qb5! White wins easily!) and Epishin went on to win, but it took some time. … 1-0 Epishin,V (2465)-Shabalov,A (2425)/Tbilisi 1989.

Black of course can try the simple 7…Qb6!? here.  However, David Filipovich sent me some games where white did well:  8. Nc3 Nh5 9. Be5 f6 10. Bg3 Nxg3 11. hxg3 += and 1-0, 47, Spraggett, K. – Zysk, R. Dortmund 1984.  Or, 8. Nc3 Nb4?! 9. c5! Nd3 (9…Nc2+?? 10. Qxc2 wins) 10. Bxd3 Qxb3 11. axb3 Bxd3 12. Ne5 += and 1-0, 23, Skembris-Titov, EU-ch, 1992.

In my game, after the lame (but not new)

6. cxd5?, 6… Nb4 7. Qb3 Nbxd5 8. Be5 Qb6 9. Nbd2 was totally equal. White also tried 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. Nc3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 and got nothing after the game 11… Be6 (11… Bg7 12. e3 Bf5 or even 11…Ra3 are both very good for black as well). White actually won later but it had nothing to do with this position, 1-0 Kosic,D (2415)-Lazic,M (2495)/San Benedetto 1990.

9… Bg7 10. e4 Qxb3 11. Nxb3 Nb4 12. Bxf6 exf6 13. Kd2


Position after 13. Kd2. White has nothing.

I have zero here; even worse, the most obvious move 13…f5 is very scary looking. Strangely, white can hold the balance here in what appears to be a bad position: 14. e5 Be6 15. a3! Bh6+ (15…Nd5 16. Nc5 =; 15…Bxb3 16. axb4 =) 16. Kc3 Nd5+ (16…Bxb3 17. axb4 =) 17. Kc2 b6 (to keep a knight out of c5) 18. h4! and white is all right. Over the board it just looks scary and bad after 13…f5 but with accurate play white can neutralize the two bishops.



What conclusion? 5….Na6 is indeed somewhat dubious. After 6. e3 Bf5 7. Qb3, black’s relative best is 7…Qb6 and not one of the crazy gambit ideas.  Even so, he is not quite equal. In my game, 6. cxd5 promised zero.


The Classic 80s Part 6: Naestved Open 1988

August 8, 2007

The tournament in the tiny town of Naestved, Denmark 1988 was a lot of fun. It was near the beach at Karresboekminde (OK, this beach in the North Sea was brrrr cold!!) and had a lot of good players such as Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Bent Larsen, Gyula Sax, Lars Bo Hansen, and others. Here is a strange tussle from that event I played versus a Romanian IM.

IM Julius Armas (2465, ROM) vs IM Mark Ginsburg (2415, USA)
Naestved Open, 1988

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 b5 8. f3 Be7 9. g4

White tries the English Attack about half a decade before it became popular.


9… O-O 10. O-O-O Bd7 11. g5 Ne8 12. h4 Nc6 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. h5 Nc7 Black’s construction is a little weird but GM Vlastimil Hort had played something like this in similar positions and I wanted to avoid black …h7-h6, giving white a clear target on the kingside.

15. Bd3 d5 16. g6 d4 17. h6 Maximum Action!


17… fxg6 18. hxg7 Rxf3 19. Qh2 h5!

Black finds all the right defensive moves and gradually beats off the short-lived white attack.

20. Bxd4 Qxd4 21. Be2 Qe3+ 22. Kb1 Rf4 23. Rdg1 Be8 24. Nd1 Qd2 25. Qg3 Qd6 26. Nf2


26… Rxf2 This surprising move has the effect of simplifying the game and preventing any nasty surprises in slight time pressure.

27. Qxf2 Qe5 28. Rf1 Kxg7 29. Bxh5 Bf6 30. c3 gxh5 31. Qg2+ Bg6 The two bishops form a very effective defensive barrier.

32. Rhg1 Bg5 33. Qxg5 Qxg5 34. Rxg5 Kh6


35. Rc5 Bxe4+ 36. Kc1 Nd5 Now black is technically winning, but still the winning process takes work.

37. Rc6 Re8 38. Rxa6 h4 39. Re1 Nf6 40. a4 h3 41. Re2 Bg2 42. Rexe6 Rxe6 43. Rxe6 h2


44. Re1 Ne4 45. axb5 Ng3 46. b6 Ne2+ 47. Kd2 Ng1! White could have resigned here. The rest is smooth sailing.

48. Re8 Kg7 49. Re7+ Kg6 50. b7 Bxb7 51. Rxb7 h1=Q 52. Rb4 Nf3+ 53. Kc2 Kf5 54. Kb3 Qd1+ 55. Ka2 Nd2 0-1

Here’s another tough struggle versus future GM L.B. Hansen, a very solid player.
Mark Ginsburg vs Lars Bo Hansen (DEN)
Naestved Open, 1988

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Be7 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Bf6?! I don’t trust this variation for black; it looks too passive.

11. Be4 Nce7 12. Ne5 g6 White has to play very concretely now to compensate for his isolated queen pawn.


13. Bh6 Bg7 14. Qd2(!) Nf6 15. Bc2 b6 16. Rad1 Bb7 17. Bb3 Ned5 18. Bg5 A small change of mind but white retains some initiative.

18…Nxc3 19. bxc3


19… Qc8 20. Qd3 Qc7 21. c4 Nd7 22. Nxd7 Qxd7 23. Qh3 b5! A well-timed bid for counterplay.

24. d5! This aggressive counter looks very good at first sight, but black can defend adequately.

24…bxc4 25. dxe6


25… Qb5! 26. Be7 cxb3 27. Bxf8 Rxf8 28. e7 Re8 29. Rd8! Brief fireworks have broken out, but equilibrium is quickly reached.



29… bxa2 30. Qb3! It is kind of cool to be able to hang one’s queen on purpose, but after black’s next white has nothing better than to steer for the draw.

30…Bc6! 31. Rxe8+ Bxe8 32. Qxb5 Bxb5 33. e8=Q+ Bxe8 34. Rxe8+ Bf8 35. Re1 Bg7 And it’s a draw by repetition. A very interesting game! I had the distinct sense I was playing a Danish version of solid American GM Yasser Seirawan.


And here is a third game from the event versus Swedish wildman, future GM Johnny Hector.
Johnny Hector vs Mark Ginsburg
Naestved Open, 1988

Sicilian Defense, Taimonov Variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Qc7 The move 6…Bb4 here is very risky due to 7. e5!

7. Be2 Nc6 8. O-O Bd6!? 9. Kh1 A well known opening position in which both sides have their chances. 10. h3 Bh2+ 11. Kh1 Be5 wouldn’t cause black many problems.


9… Bf4?! Correct was 9…Nxd4 10. Qxd4 O-O.

10. c5! A strong move, going for a black square bind.

10…O-O 11. Nc2?! 10. Nf3 was much stronger.

11…Bxc1 12. Rxc1 b6 13. cxb6 Qxb6 14. f4 Qxb2? Much safer was 14…d5 with a small disadvantage. The grubby text is looking dubious for black.

15. Rf3?! An inaccuracy in return. 15. Qd3! was correct with a gigantic plus.

15…Qb8 15…Ng4!? was possible.

16. e5 Ng4? 16…Ne8 was circumspect and better.


17. Ne4 Ncxe5!? I could not resist this speculative piece sac. However, it’s asking too much from the position and the modest 17…Bb7 was better. The point would be if 18. Nd6, black has the surprising shot 18…Nb4!! hitting the rook on f3 and simplifying close to equality.

18. fxe5 Qxe5 19. Rg3 Bb7 20. Bxg4 Bxe4 21. Qd4 21. Bf3! was stronger.

21…Qxd4 22. Nxd4 f5! For the first time since 14…Qxb2?, black has a completely OK game.

23. Be2 e5


24. Nb3 d5 Is this a formidable pawn wedge or not? Exactly five years earlier, I got a winning and really pleasing pawn wedge vs Patrick Wolff (NY Open 1983) but here, it was not to be. But, believe it or not, black might even have a small edge here.

25. Kg1 a5? A very bad waste of time. 25…Rfc8! was correct to get rid of a pair of rooks. For example, 25…Rfc8 26. Rxc8+ Rxc8 27. Bxa6 Rc2! and black’s high level of activity saves the game. This easy line should not have been missed.

26. a4 f4 27. Rgc3 h6? Another bad move. Correct was a more constructive waiting move like 27…Kf7 28. Rc7+ Kg6 with only some disadvantage.

28. Bd3?! Here, 28. Rc5 was stronger.

28…Rfb8? Another poor selection. 28…Bxd3 was necessary; 29. Rxd3 Rfd8 and black has decent chances to hold.

29. Bb5! Of course. Now white has a monumental bind and black fades into oblivion. A very poorly played middlegame.

29…Kh7 30. Rc7 Rb6 31. Nd2 Bg6 32. Rd7


It is becoming painfully clear that black’s pawns are held up and the white monster on b5 rules the roost. The rest is agony for black.

32… e4 33. Rxd5 Rf8 34. Rd7 Bf5 35. Rd4 e3 36. Nc4 Rg6 37. Rxf4 Bh3 38. Rxf8 Rxg2+ 39. Kh1 e2 40. Ne3 1-0


Drat!!! Ugh. Poop.


The readers should see a very interesting encounter between future GM and future US Champ Mike Wilder and venerable Danish GM and former Candidate, Bent Larsen.

Michael Wilder – Bent Larsen

Naestved 1988

Sicilian Defense, Maroczy Bind


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Ng4 A variation that is very passive and has gone totally out of favor in modern chess.

8. Qxg4 Nxd4 9. Qd1 Ne6 The positionally hideous 9…e5?! is at least a fighting choice.

10. Rc1 d6 11. Bd3 a5 This looks slow. I would prefer 11…O-O immediately.  Compare this to a similar bad position black got in Ginsburg-Wozney covered in my US Open 1976 installment.

12. O-O O-O 13. Bb1 Bd7 14. Qe2 Bc6 14….Rc8 deserves attention.

15. Rfd1 b6 16. f4 Qb8 17. Nd5 Ra7 18. f5 Nc5 19. Bg5 Here, 19. Qf2 is also good. The position is totally bad for black and white, making simple moves, is on the verge of winning.

19…Re8 20. Qf2 Bxd5 21. exd5 b5 22. Rf1 22. b3 maintains a crushing position. The text should also win.

22…bxc4 23. fxg6 fxg6 24. Bxg6! Rf8 25. Bf7+ Kh8 26. Qh4 Qxb2 27. Rxc4 Nd3 So far, so good, White is on the verge of upsetting the famous GM. Many strong spectators such as Sax and Ljubojevic were now staring aghast at the shambles of black’s position.

28. Qxh7+??? Oh no! Mike loses his nerve in the presence of the famous opponent!

Correct was 28. Be3! and white wins quickly and easily in all variations. For example, 28…Rb7 29. Bg6! (Crushing, hitting both h7 and d3, winning a piece) 29… Rxf1+ 30. Kxf1 Qf6+ (30… Qb1+ 31. Bc1 will mate shortly) 31. Qxf6 Bxf6 32. Bxd3 and black must resign, down a piece.

28… Kxh7 1/2-1/2 It’s just a repetition draw after 29. Rh4+ Bh6 30. Rxh6+ Kg7 31. Rg6+ Kh7. A very disappointing anti-climax, roundly booed by Ljubojevic.