Sicilian Najdorf, 6. Bg5
NM J. Meyer (2281) “Capablanca Champions” vs Mark Ginsburg (2212) “OTB Gang”
DC Chess League August 5, 1977
National Master John Meyer is the brother of Eugene Meyer who went on to become an IM and even score a GM norm in a CCA tournament in New York in the early 1980s. My battles vs Eugene in a Kan theme match (we both played the Kan so we alternated colors) paved the way for my 1979 win over GM Dzindzihashvili; more about that in another installment. The Meyer brothers were quite active tournament players in the DC area. John wore suspenders quite a bit and his pet Colle line (involving Bc4 and Bf4) became affectionately known as the Suspenders Attack.
1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nbd7
I was winging it here. It’s funny because many years later I would introduce a novelty on the White side in this line to defeat GM Dmitry Jakovenko in an ICC blitz game. More on that in the “Fabulous 2000’s” installment.
8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Be7 Transposing to another line. In this particular move order, 9…b5! is the critical move here. GM Boris Gelfand has championed that line for several decades. For example, 10. Bxb5!? axb5 11. Ndxb5 Qb8 12. e5 Bb7 with insane complications, Naiditsch-Gelfand Sparkassen 2006 (1/2, 27).
10. Be2 b5 11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. a3
This slow treatment is unlikely to cause Black any problems. However, black lives after 12. e5 Bb7 13. Qg3 dxe5 14. fxe5 Nd7 15. Qxg7 Qxe5 with an equal game.
12…Bb7 13. g4?! 13. Qg3 looks stronger. 13…Rc8 14. Rd2 14. g5 Nxe4! 15. Nxe4 e5! 16. Rhe1 d5! leads to an incredible position where after 17. Nd6+ the chances are about level.
14…Qb6 15. Bd3 O-O 16. Nce2 d5 17. e5 Ne4 18. Bxe4 dxe4 19. Qe3
19…f6?! The obvious 19…b4! here builds black’s attack most efficiently.
20. exf6 Rxf6 21. Rhd1 Qc5? Can you guess the right move? 21…b4! generates a big attack. It must have been my unfamiliarity with the Najdorf that caused me to keep missing this.
22. g5 Rf7 23. Qh3 e5 24. Nf5 Bf8 24…exf4 was fine too.
25. fxe5 Qxe5 26. Ned4? 26. g6! is about equal. 26…Rc4? 26…b4! is obvious.
27. Ne3 Rcc7 28. Kb1?! Again, 28. g6!? keeps it level. 28…Bc8 29. Qg2 b4 30. axb4 Bxb4 31. c3 Bf8 32. h4 a5 White’s slow play allows black to start a new attack.
33. h5 g6
The game is still approximately equal. Since move 50 is the time control, naturally there is a lot of drama ahead.
34. hxg6 hxg6 35. Rh1 Rh7 36. Rxh7 Rxh7 37. Nc6 Qe8 38. Nxa5 Rh5? Here, 38..Bh3! was correct. For example, 39. Qg3 Be6! with excellent play. White can also try the tricky 38…Bh3 39. Ng4!? Bxg2 40. Nf6+ Kf7 41. Nxe8 Bf3 with dynamic play.
39. Nd5 Bg7 40. Nc6 Kh7
41. Ncb4? A miscue. 41. Nce7! is hard to handle, e.g. 41…e3 42. Re2 Qa4 43. Nxe3 with a big white edge.
41… Qe5 Now the chances are level again in this see-saw game.
42. Nf6+?! 42. Nc6!? is more circumspect.
42…Bxf6 43. gxf6 e3! 44. Re2 Bf5+ Now black has a strong attack.
45. Kc1? Superior is the cold-blooded and only optically dangerous 45. Ka2! Qa5+ 46. Kb3 Be6+ and now surprisingly 47. c4 holds; 47…Bxc4+ 48. Kxc4 Rh4+ 49. Qd3 Qf5+ 50. Kxe3 leads to an equal game as does 49…Qxb4 50. Qd5.
45…Be4 46. Nd3? White must have been tired in this 50 move in 2 hour game; he had 8 minutes left at this point.
White has chances to survive if he plays 46. f7! Bxg2? 47. f8=Q Rh1+ 48. Kc2 and now 48…Bd5, hoping for 49. Nxd5?? Qe4+ winning can be met by 49. Nd3 and white can defend. It’s not clear where 48…Be4+ 49. Kb3 leads either. The winning move would be 46. f7! Kg7! simply halting the pawn with the king.
46…Qf5 Played with only one minute left to reach move 50, but now black simply wins a piece. Of course, Black could also play 46…Bxd3 straightaway since 47. Qb7+ Kh6 wins.
47. Qg3 Bxd3 48. Rxe3 Bb5 Fortunately black’s king can run safely after white’s next few checks.
49. Qc7+ Kh6 50. Qg7+ Kg5
Black’s king has a safe haven on h4 so the battle is over.
51. Rg3+ Kh4 52. Qxg6 Qf4+ Picking up the loose rook.
A pretty good positional accomplishment for an 18 year old with some tactical weaknesses here and there.
Now let’s switch to a 1977 game with Eugene Meyer.
Mark Ginsburg (2212) – Eugene Meyer (2374)
Easter Chess Congress, George Washington University, Washington DC.
Round 3, 40/100
Delayed Benko Gambit
1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 Nf6 4. e4 O-O 5. Bg5 d6 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. Qd2 c5 8. d5 a6 9. Nf3 Qa5?! Interesting here is 9… Ng4 10. h3 Nge5. The text aims for a dubious Benko gambit delayed.
10. O-O b5 11. cxb5 axb5 12. Bxb5 Ba6 13. Bxa6 Rxa6 Black doesn’t have enough here because white’s development is not hampered as in the regular Benko.
14. Rfe1 Rb8 Black couldn’t avoid white’s next thematic breakthrough.
15. e5! dxe5 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 17. Rxe5 Rab6?! 17…Qc7 is a little tougher.
18. Rxe7 Rxb2 19. Qe1 Rc2 20. Rxf7?? For no reason, white goes for a drawing combination. Too much respect for his opponent? The simple 20. Rc1! Rxc1 21. Qxc1 Nh5 22. g4! Bxc3 23. gxh5 Qb4 24. Qf4! will win in the ending. I probably did not notice the 22. g4! resource. On the other hand, the tricky 20. Bf4?! hoping for 20…Rbb2?? 21. Re8!+ and wins, is instead met by 20…Rf8 21. Be5 Qd8! with some counterplay.
20… Qxc3 21. Rxg7+ Kxg7 22. Qe7+ Kg8 23. Qe6+ 1/2-1/2
A fairly bad bungle in a not very difficult position. Replay this game.