IM Leonid Bass was a fixture in the New York chess scene through much of the 1980s. I know at some point (in the 1990s?) he then crossed the atlantic to live in Caen (France — a northern town, not to be confused with Cannes on the Riviera) – not sure what he’s up to now.
From left: Leonid Bass, Linda Carrubba, and US Champions Michael Wilder and Joel Benjamin, World Open Player’s Bar 1986.
Here’s a tussle I had with him in the Bar Point International, August 1980. I think he became an IM in the next few years after this event, as did I.
Leonid Bass – Mark Ginsburg, Bar Point August International Round 5. Modern Defense.
1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Bg4 This is a very tricky opening that I recommend for the hardships and vagaries of tournament play.
Position after 4…Bg4. Trickiness.
5. e3 c5 Interestingly Rybka likes 5… Nc6 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O O-O 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 e5; for example 10. d5 Nb4 11. Bb1 Re8 12. a3 e4 with interesting play. Also possible is 5… Nf6 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O Nc6 8. h3 Bf5!? 9. d5 Na5 10. Nd4 Bd7 11. Qc2 c5!? with complications. I was following some old theory (a game, Portisch-Timman, where Timman made a comfortable albeit sharply played draw). I had the RHM Tournament book on Wijk an Zee 1975 where that exciting game was played and annotated by Timman.
6. d5 Portisch played 6. Be2 cxd4 7. exd4 Nh6! 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Nc6 10. d5 Ne5 11. Be2 Nf5! and black was fine, Portisch-Timman, 1/2, 47 moves, Wijk aan Zee 1975. The two knights really worked well in the center.
6…Nf6 7. Be2 e6!? Bass criticized this move since it obviously hands over d5. Still, black can play “around” the d5 square and get counterplay, as occurs in the game. So maybe it’s not so bad; Benoni-type counterplay is going to occur no matter what.
8. h3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 exd5 10. Nxd5 Nc6 11. O-O O-O 12. Rb1 Nxd5 13. Bxd5 Rb8 14. a3 Ne7 15. b4 cxb4 16. Rxb4 Clearly black won’t have any problems now that white’s pawns are split.
16…Qc7 17. e4 b6 18. Bf4 Nxd5 19. cxd5 a5?! I could have played 19… Rbc8 with complete equality.
20. Rb1 Rfc8 21. Qd3 Be5 22. Rfc1 Correct is 22. Bxe5! dxe5 23. Rfd1 with a small plus.
22… Qe7 23. Be3 Rxc1+ 24. Bxc1 Qd7 Most accurate is 24… Rc8 25. Bd2 Qf6 26. Rxb6 Bd4 27. Rb1 Qxf2+ 28. Kh1 Be5 and black is fine.
25. Bd2 Qa4 26. Qb3? This is a bad stumble. By going after an unimportant pawn on a5 white exposes himself to a very dangerous attack. This makes sense because black is very centralized and white, after this tactical expedition, will be totally uncoordinated. Indicated is 26. f4 Bd4+ 27. Be3 Bxe3+ 28. Qxe3 with equal chances.
26…Qxe4 27. Bxa5
Position after 27. Bxa5. Black has something!
27…Rc8?! Very strong is the attacking 27… Qf4! 28. g3 Qf5! (a very nice maneuver) 29. Kg2 Bd4 forcing the very sad 30. Be1. Then, 30…Ra8 31. Rd1 Bc5 and white has a dreadful game; black should win.
28. Bxb6 Rc3 29. Qb4 Qxd5 30. Be3 Rd3 31. Qa4 Qa2 32. Rb8+? Another mistake. Correct is 32. Rc1 h5 33. Qa8+ Kg7 34. a4 Ra3 35. Qb7 and white holds on.
32… Kg7 33. Bf4 33. Kf1 Qa1+ 34. Ke2 Rxa3 wins for black.
33… Qa1+ This does not ruin anything. But the nicest is 33… Bd4! and black wins very fast with the help of a pretty tactic. 34. Be3 Qa1+ 35. Kh2 and now we get to the nice moment.
Position after 35. Kh2 (analysis). Black wins!
35…Rxe3!! 36. fxe3 Be5+ 37. g3 Qe1! (A really nice combination to explode white’s king shelter) 38. Kg2 Qxg3+ 39. Kf1 Qf3+ 40. Kg1 Qxe3+ 41. Kg2 d5! and it’s mop-up. I missed a similar exploding tactic as black in a game posted elsewhere versus the venerable IM Sal Matera way back in 1977.
34. Kh2 Black is still winning.
34…Rxa3? But not like this. Here black missed a beautiful shot: 34… g5!! 35. Bxe5+ (35. Bg3 Bxg3+ 36. fxg3 Rd1 wins) 35… Qxe5+ 36. g3 Rd2 and white has to resign.
Position after 36…Rd2 (analysis). Black wins.
The problem, of course, is that 37. Kg2 is rudely met by 37…Qe3! and the f2-pawn falls.
35. Qe4 Bxf4+?! The most accurate is 35… Ra4! 36. Bxe5+ dxe5 and black can torture for many moves. My play in this region of the game was very poor.
36. Qxf4 Qe5 37. Qxe5+ dxe5 38. h4! White reaches a position “every Russian schoolboy knows” to draw this 4 vs 3 rook ending. The rest of the game is not of interest; black manages to reach a drawn K & P vs K at the very end.
38…Ra7 39. g3 f5 40. Kg1 Re7 41. Kg2 Kf6 42. Rb6+ Re6 43. Rb7 Re7 44. Rb6+ Kg7 45. Rb8 Kh6 46. Rh8 Kh5 47. Kh3 e4 48. Rf8 Rd7 49. Re8 Kh6 50. Kg2 Kg7 51. Kf1 Kf6 52. Ra8 Rb7 53. Ra6+ Ke5 54. Ra8 Rc7 55. Re8+ Kf6 56. Ra8 Kg7 57. Re8 Kh6 58. Kg2 Kh5 59. Kh3 Rc2 60. Re7 h6 61. Rxe4 Rxf2 62. Re5 Rf3 63. Ra5 g5 64. Rxf5 Rxf5 65. g4+ Kg6 66. gxf5+ Kxf5 67. hxg5 hxg5 1/2-1/2