Archive for the ‘Chess Theory’ Category

The Fabulous 70s: Boris Baczynskyj!

June 16, 2008

The chess world lost a nice guy in January of 2008 when Boris Baczynskyj passed away. See also a Chess Life obit by Jennifer Shahade and a tribute by Jerry Hanken.

Boris Baczynskyj

Boris was a very friendly fellow, always quick to laugh. I saw him a lot in Swisses in the 70s and 80s all up and down the east coast. He had the interesting “property” of extreme fluctuations in weight. He could go all the way up to the 400-500 range and back down to the 180-220 range.

GHI 1978 and Chain-Mail Helmets

Pre-computer, I sometimes wrote articles and had hand-written analysis to assist. Following is a scan of one such analysis of a tough positional struggle I had with Boris at the GHI International, New York City, 1978. The GHI was a strong, large, open swiss with plenty of norm opportunities. I believe Bill Goichberg directed it. It was so named after the GHI Building – its venue. If memory serves, an inconvenient elevator transported players up to the playing floor.  The tournament also had another “feature”.  John Fedorowicz, Jon Tisdall, and I were staying with my college roommate David Garfinkel on Park Avenue during this event.  David had a collection of antique helmets that we “borrowed” for use around the playing hall.  We all enjoyed the Turkish war helmet with chain mail covering the face and the German World-War I style helmet with the metal spike on top.  We also partook of vintage New York City firemen and policemen hats.  This meant a lot of “noise” that had to be “shushed” during the helmet jollies.

Click several times for maximum enlargement of these chess hieroglyphics. Note I was using an ancient text, “Sicilian Rauser”, as a citation source.

This handwritten scrawl masks a very interesting opening, middlegame, and endgame. One of the handwritten notes refers to a gambit: 10. f4 e6!? 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Qxf6 Rg8, that actually occurred in my 1979 Lloyds Bank Balinas game. I wrote above that this is “less than nothing” for white but in fact the computer says the pawn gambit leads to murky play with balanced chances.

At the time, I often “discussed” the ultra sharp opening featured here, the Modern Rauser (also an early favorite of GM Yudasin). Let’s see it.

Battle with Boris: Sicilian Modern Rauser Nascent Theory

B. Baczynskyj – M. Ginsburg Sicilian Modern Rauser, GHI International, Round 11. July 18, 1978.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bg5 Bd7!? 7. Qd2 Rc8!? The defining moves of the provocative Modern Rauser. Black goes for a quick Qa5 and Rc8, not caring for the moment about possible doubled f-pawns. An early Rc8xc3 sacrifice is often in the works. See, for example, my win over GM Balinas in Lloyds Bank 1979. This line only came into heavy weather later on in the 90s when Judit Polgar spanked it in some sharp encounters.

8. O-O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Qa5 10. Bd2?! Not the most active reaction. Latent discoveries on the black queen mean very little.

Position after 10. Bd2. Not the most Testing.

10…a6 Quite playable here is 10… e5 11. Qe3 Be7 12. f3 a6 13. Kb1 Qc5 14. Bd3 b5 15. Qe2 Be6 16. Be3 Qb4 17. Qd2 Qa5 18. Nd5 Qxd2 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. Bxd2 O-O 21. h4 Be7 22. Bb4 Rc6 23. Rd2 Ra8 24. Rhd1 Bxh4 25. Be2 Be7 26. Bxd6 Bg5 27. Rd3 Bc4 28. Bxe5 Bxd3 29. cxd3 and black went on to win, 0-1 Timman,J-Bellin,R/Islington 1970. Timman was just starting his career at this point.

11. Kb1 Qc5 12. Qxc5 Rxc5 13. f3 e6 As you can see in my handwritten notes, I didn’t want to go for 13… g6 14. Be3 Rc8 15. Bd4 Bg7 16. Nd5 but the computer shows that 16…e5! is playable.

14. g4 Be7 15. Be3 Rc8 16. g5 Nh5 Black’s position is OK here. Without the queens, at least his king will not come under severe attack.

17. Be2 17. f4 h6 18. gxh6 Rxh6 is OK.

17… b5 18. a3 h6 19. gxh6 g5!

Position after 19…g5!

20. Rhg1 Nf4 21. Bf1 f6 22. Bxf4 gxf4 Now I can face the future with confidence, armed with the bishop pair. All endings are great for me and one of them occurred.

23. Ne2 Rxh6 24. Nxf4 Rxh2 25. Rg8+ Kf7 26. Rxc8 Bxc8 27. c4 Rf2 28. cxb5 Rxf3 29. Ne2 axb5 30. Nc3 b4 31. axb4 f5 32. exf5 Rxf5 33. Bd3 Rf4 34. Rf1 Rxf1+ 35. Bxf1 Bb7 and black was able to convert, 0-1 in 58 moves. I will post the other moves shortly.

Epilog: Snowstorm aka Force Majeure

In the early 1980s, I played with Boris at a tournament at the University of Maryland. After Saturday’s game, I had 2.5 out of 3 and he had 3 out of 3. I was due to play him Sunday morning. But it was not to be. A fearsome blizzard halted the tournament and he was declared the abbreviated winner!

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The Fabulous 00s: A New Chess.FM Segment

June 11, 2008

Upholding the Sicilian – A new Chess.FM Segment

I am preparing a series of ICC Chess.FM lectures on “Upholding the Sicilian” (1. e4 c5) against various unusual white tries. John Henderson is producing the series and Andy MacFarland is the production engineer.

The first two segments are devoted to the Smith-Morra gambit (1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3).

Using games I have collected and analyzed, I collate and distill the findings to give the best black responses in each case. Some of the games are historical classics (Smith-Evans, San Antonio 1972; Fischer-Korchnoi Buenos Aires 1960) and some are brand new analyses created by me working in conjunction with my faithful friend Rybka. In some lines, black can even turn the tables and attack white’s king!

I have collected the various findings at the end of ‘aries’ library on ICC.

Dovetailing with “Manest” (Alex Lenderman) Lectures

The Smith-Morra segment is particularly interesting because it dovetails into another set of Chess.FM lectures given by IM Alex Lenderman. In his segments, he presents the Smith-Morra from the white side. I focus on black’s resources and in combination we do have a very interesting “360 degree” look at this interesting gambit.

Future Plans and Website Feedback

In the future, I will develop and present research on the Alapin (1. e4 c5 2. c3), the Grand Prix Attack (1. e4 c5 2. f4, or 1. e4 c5 2. nc3 Nc6 3. f4), the Moscow (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+) and more.

I will devote space on this website for reader feedback so we can grow the analysis tree.

Unrelated Photos of the Day

The 1985 Columbia University Pan-Am Squad

Mystery IMs

The Fabulous 80s: The Mighty Cochrane Gambit

February 18, 2008

I was always up for the experimental gambit here or there especially at free-wheeling New York City swisses.

Here’s the mighty anti-Petroff weapon, the Cochrane Gambit in action versus a Russian exaptriate, V. Goistroievich (the player formerly known as Polyakin).

This opening is named after John Cochrane, a British Scottish fellow barrister living in and around Calcutta in the 19th century and he tangled with the best Brahmin players of the day. IM Jay Whitehead has collected many Brahmin games in his 19th century database and I have privy to those files: many examples of modern-looking King’s Indians, Gruenfelds, and the like from the 1840’s to 1860’s! The very first Cochrane gambit was played by Cochrane against the Brahmin player Mohishunder in Calcutta, 1848.

A Brief Bio of John Cochrane

From John Henderson’s daily chess column in The Scotsman, 2 March 2007:

“He should not be forgotten. Scottish amateur and barrister John Cochrane (1798-1878), who died on this day 129 years ago, may not have achieved notoriety as a player, but he is responsible for perhaps the boldest opening innovation that survives unrefuted to this day.

Captain Evans deserves credit for his gambit, which influenced chess for years, but this was only the sacrifice of a mere pawn for obvious strong development. By contrast, it takes a remarkably brave, persistent, and swashbuckling player to take seriously the piece sacrifice in the normally staid Petroff’s Defence with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nxf7, and realize that rather than being a standard tyro’s silly attack that this is really a dangerous weapon.

Cochrane is also famously associated with the confusing naming history of the Scotch game. In the historic London vs. Edinburgh correspondence match of 1824-1828, Cochrane (though Scottish) played for London, and persuaded them to choose the then obscure opening he had been experimenting with.

In the middle of the first game, he had to leave for India; the English team squandered their opening advantage after he left, and went on to lose the game. The Scottish team were sufficiently impressed that they played the gambit successfully later in the match, and this led to its naming.

The debut though of his trademark 4 Nxf7 in the Petroff must have come as a shock to his opponent back in 1848, in much the same way as it stunned everyone when Topalov rehabilitated it against Kramnik, at Linares 1999.”

Onward and Upward: My Cochrane Game

M. Ginsburg – V. Gostroievich (2217) Petroff Defense, Cochrane Gambit CC January Open, 1/24/82, NYC. 30/90.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nxf7! The exclamation point is for the sheer audacity and for the fact this variation is underrated.


Position after 4. Nxf7! – white wants a pawn storm!

White’s idea is startlingly simple: he dislodges the black king and uses the extra pawns to make a united pawn storm. The missing knight is not of great consequence if the pawn storm can do damage. Everything hinges on the next few moves.

4…Kxf7 5. d4 This opening hinges on the primitive tactical trick that 5…Nxe4? 6. Qh5+, regaining the piece with an extra pawn, is not playable for black.

5…g6 (0:09) 5…Be7 is a bit passive. 6. Nc3 Re8 7. Bc4+ is clear compensation after either 7…Be6 or 7….Kf8. For example, 7…Be6 8. Bxe6+ (Taking the bishop is a tough choice because 8. d5 is interesting, too: 8…Bg4 9. f3 Bh5 10. e5!? Nfd7 11. e6+ with a complete mess) 8…Kxe6 9. O-O Kf7 10. f4. The immediate 5…Bg4 6. f3 doesn’t do anything, but black also has the direct 5…d5!?. After 6. e5 Ne4 7. Nd2 Nxd2 8. Bd2 Nc6 9. Qf3+ Kg8 10. c3 white retains compensation.

Readers will find the following sample variation humorous as well: 5….d5 6. e5 Ne4 7. Bd3!? Nc6 8. Be3 Be7 9. O-O Nb4 10. Be2 Bf5 11. g4 Bc8 12. f3 Ng5 13. a3 Nc6 14. Nc3 h5 (Chaos!) 15. h4 Nh3+ 16. Kg2 Bxh4 17. Qd3 Ng5 18. f4 Ne4 19. Nxe4 dxe4 20. Qxe4 Be6 21. c4 Bxg4 22. Bxg4 hxg4 23. d5 Ne7 24. f5 with a complete mess! A great Cochrane tableau.

The move chosen in this game, 5…g6, is somewhat slow and white can use the time to build up the menacing pawn front.    These days, yet another try, 5….c5!? is considered critical.   In Topalov-Kramnik, Linares 1999, White inverted the moves with 5. Nc3!? c5 6. d4, but this of course boils down to 5. d4.

6. Nc3 c6 Here, 6…Be6 is a major alternative. The direct 7. f4 d5 8. e5 Ne4 does not convince. There are humorous lines though, e.g. 9. Nxe4 dxe4 10. c4 c6 11. Be2 Bb4+ 12. Kf2 Nd7 13. d5 Bc5+ 14. Be3 Bxe3+ 15. Kxe3 (The King to the Attack!) 15…Qb6+ 16. Kxe4! (Excelsior!) with absurd complications after 16…Bf5+ 17. Kf3 Kg7 – black is somewhat better.

Stronger is 7. Bd3. We could get a weird Benoni with 7…c5 8. d5 Bg4 9. f3 Bd7 10. O-O and white’s compensation is evident.

7. f4 Bg7 8. e5 (0:05) White’s agenda is clear: Pawn-storm!

8…Re8 9. Bc4+! A fixed pawn structure helps white’s agenda.

9…d5 10. Bd3 Ng4 (0:46)

In the only other example I can find, Rodriguez played 10…Bg4!? here versus Alvarez Arandia in Asturias 1986. White played the feeble 11. Ne2? and after 11…Ne4 black was better and won the game eventually. However, 11. Qd2! is clearly stronger. After, e.g., 11…Nfd7 12. O-O white has obvious compensation. And the line 11. Qd2! Qb6? 12. Na4 Qd8 13. O-O Ne4 14. Bxe4 dxe4 15. f5! is just bad for black (15…gxf5 16. h3 and white is much better).

11. O-O Qh4 12. h3 Nh6 13. Qf3 Nf5 14. Ne2 h5 Black hurries to set up some kind of blockade but it all looks very flimsy. White simply directs more pieces to the kingside sector.

15. Bd2 (0:25)


Position after 15. Bd2. Black gaffes.

15…Kg8? (1:01) The computer correctly points out black needed to play something like 15…Rh8! or 15…Na6! here. Still, 15…Rh8 16. Be1 Qe7 17. g4 hxg4 18. hxg4 Nh4 19. Qg3 looks very nice for white. And on 15…Na6, the following crazy line is about equal: 15…Na6 16. Be1 Qe7 17. g4 hxg4 18. hxg4 Nh6 19. f5 Qg5! (not very easy to see in OTB) 20. fxg6+ double check Kg8 21. Qg2 Bxg4 22. Nf4 Nc5!! 23. dxc5 Bxe5 with equal chances! The onus is definitely on black to defend; white has pressure in most lines. After the gaffe in the game, it gets really bad, really fast.

16. Be1 Qd8 17. g4 hxg4 18. hxg4 Nh6 (1:05)


Position after 18…Nh6. Decision Time.

19. Bxg6? (0:42) A reciprocal blunder. Those with a very well tuned tactical intuition would spot the crushing 19. f5! gxf5 20. gxf5 Qg5+ 21. Ng3! Nd7 22. f6 Nxf6 23. exf6 Rf8


Position after 23…Rf8 (analysis)

Now white has a good continuation. 24. Qh5 Bxf6 25. Qxg5+ Bxg5 26. Bh7+! (A really nice point to justify all of this) Kxh7 (note that decling with 26…Kg7 27. Nh5+! does not help; an aesthetic geometrical arrangement) 27. Rxf8 Kg6 28. Ne2 Be7 29. Nf4+ Kg7 30. Ne6+ Kg6 31. Re8 Nf5 32. Nc7 Rb8 and white will win easily.

19… Bxg4 20. Qd3 Rf8 21. f5 (0:55) Bxf5? (1:14) Black tosses the game away in a state of sacrificial shock. He had to defend with 21… Nd7! 22. f6 Nxf6 23. Bh4 Bxe2 24. Qxe2 Qb6!! and this amazing resource saves the game, for example 25. exf6 Qxd4+ 26. Qf2 Qg4+ 27. Qg2 Qd4+ 28. Bf2 Qxf6 29. c3 Qd6 and black is fine.

22. Bxf5 Now white is completely winning. Chalk another up to Cochrane!

22…Qg5+ 23. Ng3 Na6 (1:20) 24. Bd2 (0:59) Qh4 25. Rf4 Qg5(?) Nominally a blunder but it didn’t matter.

26. Rg4 1-0

What do you think? Not a bad opening and worth a try!

I encourage readers to submit their own Cochrane material. And I just heard that GM Boris Alterman will be presenting it soon in an ICC Gambit lecture.


Postscript 2/19/08: Thanks to John Henderson for the Cochrane biographical material and the nationality correction!

3 Decades of a Variation

October 1, 2007

I have always been interested in sidelines, particularly in Gruenfeld structures. Here are two games spanning 27 years on the same theme.

Let’s start with the happier, and more recent, game.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM Ralph Zimmer

North American Open, Las Vegas, NV 12/28/05

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 (?!) Purists believe this move order is slightly inaccurate. However, it might not be true – see the Ibragimov game mentioned in the note to the 8th move and if you believe in black’s position, try it out. The text gets ?! in some books, but it may not be necessarily so.

4. e3! Nf6 The text is correct, preparing a Gruenfeld-like d7-d5 advance. A further inaccuracy, which is important to mention because it occurs frequently, is 4….Bg7?!. White then plays the simple 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d6 7. d5! and stands seriously better. For example, 7…Ne5 8. Nxe5 Bxe5 9. Bd3 Bd7 10. O-O Nf6 11. h3 O-O 12. Be3 a6 13. Rc1 Bd7 14. Na4! b5 15. Nb6 Rb8 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. cxb5 axb5 18. b4! with a nice bind, M. Ginsburg-Gilruth, Harry Nelson Pillsbury Open New England, 1987. White duly won in 46 moves.

5. d4 cxd4 5…d6 6. d5! with a small white edge is playable.


In 1989 I faced Senior Master S.C. Sahu (2417) at the Manhattan Chess Club and had a pleasant experience: 6. d5 Ne5 (6…Ng8 just admits opening failure) 7. Nxe5 Bxe5 8. e4 Nf6 9. Bd3 Ng4? The Rybka-approved line, 9…Bd7 10. O-O Qb6!? 11. h3 O-O, looks highly unnatural but the text is simply bad. 10. h3 Nf6 11. Bh6 Rg8 12. Qd2 Qa5 13. f4 Bd4 14. Nb5! Bf2+ 15. Ke2 Qxd2+ 16. Kxd2 Kd8 17. e5 Ne8 18. Rhf1 a6 19. Nxd6! White wins easily. 19…Nxd6 20. Rxf2 Nf5 21. Bg5 h6 22. Bxf5 gxf5 23. Bxh6 f6 24. d6 Be6 25. dxe7+ Kxe7 26. exf6+ Kf7 27. Bg5 Rad8+ 28. Kc3 Rd4 29. b3 Rgd8 30. Re1 b5 31. Rfe2 R8d6 32. g4 bxc4 33. gxf5 Rd3+ 34. Kb2 c3+ 35. Ka3 Bxf5 36. Re7+ Kg6 37. Rg7+ Kh5 38. f7 Rd8 39. Bxd8 Rxd8 40. Rg8 1-0


6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bc4 Nxc3? It is this move that is seriously wrong. Here, 8…Nb6 is the only correct move in my opinion. Play might proceed 9. Bb3 Bg7 10. Be3!? (10. d5 Na5 is nothing) 10…O-O 11. O-O Na5 12. Bc2 Nac4 13. Bg5!? with murky play, Ibragimov-Kedrov, Moscow 1996. Black lost this game, but he’s OK here and only lost via blunders in the middlegame.

9. Qb3!


The first important moment. The zwischenzug text is accurate, because 9…Ne4? 10. Bxf7+ Kd7 11. Qe6+ and 12. Qxe4 is clearly out of the question. I had this game in a 1993 USATE playoff and won easily. The position is very good for white.

9…e6 10. bxc3 Na5 10…Bd7 11. Bb5! (or 11. Bd3 right away, for example 11…Qb6 12. O-O Qxb3 13. axb3 Bg7 14. Ba3 and white is much better, and won, in Charbonneau-Tan, Oropesa del Mar 2001) 11…a6 12. Be2 Na5 13. Qc2 b5 14. O-O is very good for white. In the next game, we will see the semi-insane “gambit” 10….Bd7 11. d5??! (THEORETICAL LEMON, TL) Na5 12. dxe6 relying on the fact that the queen is immune for the time being. However, as we shall see, 12…fxe6 is basically the refutation of this “junior” attack. See the second game for more on this crazy line.

Black can also try 10…Bg7. But after 11. Ba3, stopping castling, white is better. For example, 11…Bf8 (what else?) 12. Bxf8! Kxf8 13. O-O and white is much better. Note for historical purposes the American future GM Ken Rogoff played the fine 12. Bb5!? here and stood better, but lost due to a later blunder vs. the Frenchman Huguet in Malaga 1970. 12. Bb5 was also seen in a drawn Botvinnik-Petrosian game, Moscow 1983. Another good move is 12. O-O! and white also stands better here.

11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. Qa4 Nc6 13. d5! 13. O-O is good for white, and the well motivated attacking text aims for even more. Clearance sacrifices, exposing the enemy king, are always extremely difficult to meet in practical play.


13…exd5 14. O-O Be7 15. Bh6 f6? A much better try is 15… Qa5 16. Qb3 O-O-O 17. c4 d4 18. Ng5 Bf8 19. Bxf8 Rhxf8 20. c5 Qc7 and black stays afloat. The text weakens e6 severely and could have had fatal consequences in the near-term.

16. Rfe1 Kf7


17. Qf4? The text looks and is absurd. The best move is extremely simple-minded 17. Rad1!. This position is a good test of attacking abilities. Those with a quick eye will recognize that 17…Be6 is smashed (note in passing that 17…a6 18. Bc4!! dxc4 19. Qxc4+ Ke8 20. Bg7 Rf8 21. Qh4 Rf7 22. Qxh7 Rxg7 23. Qxg7 wins, for example 23…Ne5 24. Qg8+ Bf8 25. Qxg6+ Ke7 26. Nxe5 Be6 27. Qf7+ Bxf7 28. Ng6 mate which is especially gruesome) by 18. Rxe6!! which is completely crushing. Once the white squares fall, the black king is cornered. 18…Kxe6 19. Bc4 and white wins shortly.

17… Bf5 18. Rad1 Bd6 19. Qd2 Ne7 19… Be7 20. Qb2 threatening c4 is very good for white.

20. Nd4 Bg4 21. Rb1 Curiously, 21. Qe3! is strong here.

21…a6 22. Be2 Bc8 23. Bd1 Re8 24. Bb3 Bc5 25. h3?! Here, 25. c4! Bxd4 is met by the surprising zwischenzug 26. cxd5! (26. Qxd4 is also good, but this is stronger) and white is much better.

25… Bxd4 26. Qxd4 Be6?? A bad blunder. Necessary is 26…b5! 27. Rbd1 with a white edge but nothing decisive yet. Now we have yet another tactical exercise with the same solution!


27. g4?? A blunder in return. 27. Rxe6!!, a thematic blow we’ve already seen above, wins nicely. For example, 27…Kxe6 28. Qe4+ Kf7 29. Rd1! is a very pleasing double pin and black is paralyzed and loses shortly. For example, 29…f5 (equally bad is 29… g5 30. Rxd5 Nxd5 31. Bxd5+ Qxd5 32. Qxd5+ Kg6 33. Bxg5 fxg5 34. Qxb7 and wins) 30. Rxd5! fxe4 31. Rf5 double checkmate is a nice geometric spectacle.

27…Nc6 28. Qf4 Qb8 Now black is right back in the game. Also acceptable is 28… Kg8 29. Re3 g5 30. Qg3 Bf7 31. Rxe8+ Qxe8 32. f4 d4.

29. Qd2 Qd6 The position is about level.

30. Bf4 Qd7? 30…Ne5! is rock solid for equality.

31. Re3 Now, 31. Rxe6! Kxe6 is still a good try: 32. Bg3 Ne5 33. Bxe5 fxe5 34. Bxd5+ Qxd5 35. Rb6+ Qc6 36. Rxc6+ bxc6 37. f4 exf4 38. Qxf4 Re7 39. g5! with some winning chances for white. It stands to reason that white is still blind to this possibility.

31… Kg7 32. Bh6+ 32. Rbe1 Bf7 33. Bh6+ is a small edge to white.

32… Kh8 33. Qe2 Ne5 This is fine. Also fine is 33… Bf7.

34. Re1 Bf7 35. g5 Nc4?! Solid is 35… Kg8 36. gxf6 Nc4 37. Bxc4 Rxe3 38. Qxe3 dxc4 and black is fine.

36. Bxc4? Very weak. 36. Re7! poses some problems for black.

36…Rxe3 37. Qxe3 dxc4?! Another inaccuracy. But black had no time and cannot be criticized. In fact, at this moment, black forfeited on time still a few moves shy of the time control at move 40. A good defense was 37… Re8 38. Qd2 Rxe1+ 39. Qxe1 dxc4 40. gxf6 Qe6 and it’s completely drawn.


After the weak text, white could find 38. Qb6 Qc6 39. Qxc6 bxc6 40. Re7 Kg8 41. gxf6 a5 42. a4 with a rather unpleasant ending for black.


Now let’s go back to my 1978 game in the ECI Youth tournament, Sas Van Gent, Holland. This is the tournament where I met the personable British youth player Suzzane Wood! Note her first name is not misspelled.

M. Ginsburg – NM Erik Pedersen (DEN)

ECI Sas Van Gent, Holland August 1978

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bc4 Nxc3 9. Qb3! So far, as above.

9…e6 10. bxc3 Bd7!? Pedersen’s specialty, he played it another European tournament – Groningen 1978 (perhaps later, I’m not sure about that). However, the position is good for white!

11. d5??! THEORETICAL LEMON, TL. 11. Bb5, 11. Be2, and 11. Bd3 are all very good for white. 11. Be2 Na5 12. Qc2 Qc7 13. Ne5! (13. O-O is also good for white) Rc8 14. Bd2? (14. Rb1! or even the simple 14. Nxd7 Qxd7 15. O-O and white is better) 14…Bg7 15. f4? (15. Qe4!) and white even lost with this bad structural weakening, Grinberg-Pederson, Groningen 1978. See the first game for other examples of white doing well here.

12…Na5 12. dxe6 My “amazing point.”


12…fxe6! Oh. He had that? I had “expected” 12…Nxb3?? 13. exf7+ Ke7 14. Bg5+ Kd6 15. Rd1+ Nd4 16. Bxd8 Rxd8 17. Nxd4 and I win easily. A very naive “junior” assessment. The text is the start of a very cold shower.

13. Qd1 What else? This is my “secondary point” – that 13….Nxc4 14. Qd4 “wins the piece back”.

Time for another tactical quiz. What’s black’s best move?


13…Bg7? Wrong. The text is winning (and black did win the rather long, drawn-out ending after 14. Be2 Bxc3+), however black had better: (quiz solution:) 13…Nxc4 14. Qd4 Ba4!! A very unusual and crushing shot! Black can safely leave a couple of pieces hanging. 15. Qxh8 Qd1 mate is unplayable and so is 15. Qxc4 Qd1 mate, so black remains a piece up!

At any rate, black had no problem converting the pawn up ending in about 50 moves (he correctly didn’t accept the exchange sac on a1 and just played an ending with one pawn more).





The Fabulous 90s: Adventures versus the Dutch Defense

September 13, 2007

For some reason, in the 1990s I was very interested in fighting the Dutch with unconventional weapons. Although this was, strictly speaking, completely unnecessary I present for your entertainment some of my jousts.  I have now come to the conclusion that tried and true lines give white some edge vs Stonewall and Leningrad setups.

The first was from a New England Swiss. My opponent, Jack Young, deserves credit for co-creation of this bizarre king hunt.

IM Ginsburg – NM Jack Young, New England 199?

Dutch Defense, Sjödin Gambit
1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. e4 fxe4 4. Ng5!?

The strange Sjödin Gambit (so named, as explained to me by GM Ferdinand Hellers, after a Swedish amateur player). Sjödin is a tough word to pronounce! It’s something like “Shuhhh-DEEN.” Joel Benjamin tried this move versus a Russian 2400+ and was successful, although his game was not without chances for black.

4…Nf6 5. f3


5…exf3 Black must seriously consider 5…h6 6. Nh3, one of the main alternatives to drive the menacing WN offside. In addition, I think Joel’s opponent played 5…c5!? to challenge the dark squares and got a good game; the trick is 6. fxe4 cxd4 7. e5?? Qa5+! picking up the e5-pawn.

6. Qxf3 Nc6 7. Bd3?

7. c3 was circumspect. The wild text move is unsound. But if it had not been played, we wouldn’t have the following (possibly unique? – see below) crazy game. Them’s the breaks.

7…Nxd4 Of course. If your opponent hangs center pawns, take them.

8. Qh3 d5! Refuting white’s coffeehouse antics.

9. Nxh7 Nxh7 10. Bxh7 Nxc2+ 11. Ke2 Kd7!


Very convincing. White has very few resources left.

12. Rf1 Nxa1 13. Rf7+ Kc6?! A fairly easy win is 13…Be7 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Qc3 b6 and white runs out of steam. Black is still winning after the text, but he’ll need to find a tough move shortly.

14. Qc3+ Kb6 15. Be3+ c5 16. b4 At least white is making a little trouble now. The game is starting to take on very strange overtones. Watch the black king double back now and head into the center!



Finally black goes wrong. The difficult deflection, using a ‘doomed piece’, 16…Nb3!! still wins. For example, 17. axb3 d4! and white doesn’t have the b2 queen check as in the game. Or, 17. Qxb3 Bd7 18. bxc5++ Kc7 and black wins as well.

17. bxc5+ Bxc5 18. Qb2+ Kc6 19. Nc3? Too fancy, I was carried away. Correct is 19. Be4+! Kd6 20. Bxd4 and white wins.

19…Qb6? 19…dxc3 loses simply to 20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Bxc5+ Kxc5 22. Qxc3+ Kb6 23. Qb4+ Ka6 24. Rxb7 and mates. Black needed to play 19…a6! to take b5 away from white. For example, 20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Bf4+ e5 and there’s nothing more white can do. Now white is back on track again.

20. Be4+ Kd6 21. Nb5+ Ke5 22. Bf3!


Black’s king finds himself in a really bizarre mating net. His attempts to avoid it just lead the game into more and more surrealistic situations without changing the verdict: black’s king is trapped and cannot wriggle free. Enjoy this sideline: 22. Kd3! Rh4 23. Bf2 Rf4 24. Bg3 g5 25. Bxf4+ gxf4 26. Bc6!! (protecting the N on b5 temporarily is an important point)


Position after 26. Bc6!! (Analysis)

26…Qxc6 27. Qe2+ Kd5 28. Qe4 mate!

Or this, even more amusing: 22. Kd3! Rh4 23. Bf2 Rxe4 24. Kc4!!! and mate is forced in 10 moves! It’s really strange to have both kings participating in the center in the middlegame, with one king sealing the mating net on the other. Perhaps it’s unique in the history of chess!?? (readers??) Can you imagine this game played in the 19th century and some bearded fellow such as Steinitz announcing Mate in 10 in a grovelly voice?


Position after 24. Kc4!!! (Analysis) – Unique Tableau?

Here’s one of the shorter mates from this position: 24…g5 25. Bg3+ Rf4 26. Qe2 mate.

22…Rh4 23. g4! Caveman chess, brutally effective. White doesn’t need his queen anymore.

23…g5 24. Bxg5 Rxh2+ 25. Kd1 Rxb2 26. Bf4 mate

Not quite a pure mate; the N on b5 is not needed (guarding d6 twice).


It’s always nice to end a game with a queen sacrifice. This game was really way out there in deep orbit. It doesn’t stand up to serious analysis, but it did produce some unique situations.


The second took place at the Manhattan CC FIDE International Round-Robin, in the very first round of a Category X event. It should be noted that Mr. Fishbein overcame this reverse to score a GM norm! Veteran GM Yefim Geller played as well, along with Wojtkiewicz, Kaidonov, Bykhovsky, Sherzer, and others.

Mark Ginsburg – Alexander Fishbein (2470) MCC Int’l 2000.

Dutch Defense, 4. Bf4 gambit line

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4 Sort of a cousin to the Sjodin.



White plans to simply play f2-f3 and leave black with a sick pawn formation.

4…Nf6 5. Bc4 Quite possible is 5. f3 exf3 (5… e6 6. fxe4 fxe4 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6! 10. a3! and white has some compensation) 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bc4 Bd6 8. Bg5 c6 9. Qd3 b5 10. Bb3 Na6 and now we follow a chaotic old James Tarjan game. (10… b4 11. Ne2 Qc7 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. O-O-O with compensation) 11. a3 Nc7 12. O-O h6 13. Bh4 g5 14. Rae1? Unsound. 14. Bf2 is fine. 14… gxh4 15. Qxf5 Qe7 (15… Rg8 16. Nxh4 Be7 17. Qf2 Rg7) 16. Qg6+ Kd8 17. Ne5 Bxe5 18. dxe5 Nfd5 (18… Nd7 19. Ne4 (19.Rf7 Qg5 20. Qe4 Nd5) 19… Nd5 20. Bxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rf8 22. Rxf8+ Nxf8 23. Qxh6 Kc7 24. Nxb5+ Kb8 and white is a bit better) 19. Rf7? (19. Ne4! with a huge edge) 19… Qg5 20. Qd3 Rg8 21. Qf3 h3 (21… Nxc3 22. bxc3 (22. Qxc6 N3d5 23. Bxd5 Nxd5 24. Rf2 Nb6 25. Rd1+ Ke7 26. Qd6+ Ke8 27. Qc6+ Bd7 28. Rxd7 Nxd7 29. Qxa8+ Ke7) 22… Nd5 and black wins) 22. g3 Qd2 23. Re2 Qc1+ Now black should win. 24. Kf2 Qg5? (24… Bd7 wins) 25. Ne4! Qxe5 26. c3 Ne7? (26… Rg6 is fine for black) 27. Qd3+? (27. Nf6 is much better for white ) 27… Ncd5 28. Nf6 Qd6 29. Nxg8 Nxg8 30. Qh7 Nge7 31. Qxh6 Bd7?? A losing blunder. 31… Kc7 32. Qxh3 Kb8 33. Qh5 Nf5 34. Qh8 is equal. 32. Bxd5 Nxd5 33. Rf8+ Be8 34. Rxe8+ and it turns out white had the last laugh – 1-0 Tarjan,J-Gutierrez,J/Bogota 1979

5… e6 6. Nge2 Bd6 6… Nd5!? is interesting here. 7. O-O Be7 8. f3 Nxf4 9. Nxf4 is about equal.

7. O-O O-O Black can try to delay castling: 7… Nc6 8. Bxd6 cxd6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Bb3 exd5 11. Nxd5 Be6 12. Nef4 Bxd5 13. Nxd5 and white has some compensation.

8. f3 exf3 Playable is 8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.

9. Rxf3 Kh8 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Rd1 Re8 12. Bg5 Be7 Although it looks dangerous, 12…e5 was quite playable here.

13. Rh3 e5 14. Qe1!? At the time, I thought I was doing quite well with this ‘attacking retreat’. However, black does have a good move here, which Fishbein failed to find.



This was the key moment. 14… Nxd4?? is very weak due to 15. Nxd4 Bc5 (15… exd4 16. Qh4 h6 17. Bxh6 Ng4 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Qh7+ wins) 16. Qh4 Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Qd7 18. Nd5 and wins. The right move was 14… Ne4! 15. Nxe4 (15. Qh4? Nxg5 ) 15..fxe4 16. Bxe7 (16. Rxh7+ Kxh7 17. Qh4+ Kg6 does not work) Qxe7 and black stands better, having gotten out of the potentially annoying d-file attack by the white rook.

15. Qh4! White is much better now. Maybe black missed this simple move.

15…h6 16. dxe5 Bxg5? This is hopeless. 16… Bd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nf4 is terrible for black but still better than the text.

17. Rxd8 Bxd8 18. Qh5 Rf8 19. e6 Nce5 20. Nf4 From now on, there are numerous wins. White chose the primitive path of eating the most dangerous black pieces.

20…Kh7 21. Be2 Most effective is 21. Bd3! g5 22. Ncd5 Kg7 23. e7 Bxe7 24. Nxe7 gxf4 25. Nxf5+ Rxf5 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. Qxf5 Rf8 28. Qe4 and wins.

21… Be7 22. Ncd5 g6 23. Nxg6 Rather crude, but it works Black’s protection of h6 gets overloaded.


22… Bc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxe6 24… Nxg6 25. Bxg4 Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 fxg4 27. Qxg4 wins.

25. Nxe5 Rf6 No better is 25…Bxe3+ 26. Rxe3 Nxe3 27. Qg6+ Kh8 28. Qxh6+ Kg8 29. Qxe6+ Kh7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ Kg8 32. Qxe3 and wins.

26. N5xg4 fxg4 27. Qxc5 Raf8 28. Bd3+

Black resigned. He is down hopeless amounts of material. 1-0

The crazy Dutch gambits didn’t always work out. Here’s a game from 1999 where I committed some miscues and went down in flames. Although, it must be admitted, I had my chances so we can’t dismiss the gambit line.

IM Ginsburg – IM Guillermo Rey

Arthur Dake International San Francisco 8/1999

Dutch Defense, Cousin of Sjodin Gambit

1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Bf4 Second time lucky?

4…Nf6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nge2 Bd6 Rey passes up on 6…Nd5 just as Fishbein did.

7.0-0 0-0 8.f3 Nc6!

The knight definitely belongs here to eye the center. Remember Fishbein played 8….exf3 here. I wrote above that “8… Nc6 9. fxe4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Qd2 Na5 12. Bb5 Bxf4 13.Rxf4! Rxf4 14. Qxf4 with good compensation.”

9.fxe4 fxe4 But Rey takes back with the pawn!

10.a3 Kh8 11.Ba2?

A weak move. 11. Bg5 is correct with decent compensation. For example, 11. Bg5 Be7 12. Qd2. White will be able to bypass ….e6-e5 with the response d4-d5.

11…e5! Of course. Black eliminates a weakness.

12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Qe1?! 13. Qd4 is better.

13…Bd7 14.Bg5? 14. Kh1 or 14. Rd1 are better.

14…Neg4! 15.Nf4? White must “not have shown up that day.” This move simply loses. 15. h3 is correct.

15…Qe8 16.Qh4 Ne3?!

16…h6! is very strong here. White loses in all lines.

17.Nfd5 Nfxd5 18.Rxf8+ Bxf8 19.Nxd5 Nxd5 20.Bxd5 Bc6 21.Bc4 Qg6?

21…Bc5+ is much stronger and only after this, 22…Qg6. Black would win easily.

22.b4? This is also weak. 22. Be3, blockading, is correct. Then white can hold out some chance to save the game.

22…b5 23.Be2 h6 24.Be3 a5 25.bxa5 Rxa5 26.Rf1 Ra8 White has a ruined structure and cannot offer meaningful resistance.

27.Bh5 Qd6 28.Qf2 Be7 29.Bd4 Rf8 30.Qe3 Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Bf6 It is too much to hope for 31…Qxa3?? 32. Qxh6+ and mates.

32.Bxf6 Qxf6+ 33.Kg1 Qa1+ 34.Kf2 Qe5 35.Qh3 Qf4+ 36.Ke1 e3 37.Bf3 Be4 38.Qd7 Bxf3 39.gxf3 Qxf3 40.Qd8+ Kh7 41.Qd3+ Kg8 42.Qd8+ Qf8 43.Qd5+ Kh8 0-1

A very poorly played game with white committing blunders in every phase. C’est la vie!

The Dutch Defense, Leningrad Variation

June 13, 2007

National Open, Las Vegas, NV 2007. Round 4.

IM M. Ginsburg – WFM Y. Cardona (2270).

1. Nf3 f5?! An inaccuracy on the first move! To get to a Leningrad Dutch, much more circumspect is 1…g6 2. c4 and only now 2….f5 to avoid a nasty pitfall in this particular move order.


The problem here is that white has the surprisingly strong 2. d3! as demonstrated by GM Magnus Carlsen recently in a crushing win versus veteran Russian GM Sergei Dolmatov. As a New In Chess Secrets of Opening Surprises (SOS) book analysis noted, “this move argues that 1…f5 is weakening.” So it does! That game went 2…d6 3. e4 e5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. exf5 Bxf5 6. d4! and white had an obvious plus. After 2. d3, black is not having any fun at all. Why didn’t I play it? I knew about it, but didn’t really remember how the Carlsen game went. Still, 2. d3! is strongest and I should have played it.
Side note. There is another attempt for white – in the 1980s and 1990s, GM Michael Rohde revived the Lisitsin Gambit (2. e4 fxe4 3. Ng5) with success but in the intervening years, methods were found by black to combat that try. Nevertheless, 2. e4 is exceedingly dangerous and black has to be well prepared for it. This is moot, though, given the strength of the apparently modest 2. d3!
In the game, I played the insipid 2. g3?! and play reverted back to the Leningrad proper.

2…Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. c4 O-O 6. Nc3 d6 7. d4 c6

One of the main lines of the Leningrad. Another move here, 7…Qe8 (A favorite of GM Malaniuk), is dealt with in a separate installment.  I have had experiences with 7….Qe8 going back to a tussle with Bareev, Naestved, Denmark, 1988.  For the time being, we will note that 7…Qe8 8. d5!? is a logical move. See Ginsburg-Sarkar, US Championship 2006, in which white was much better but let black escape with a draw.


8. d5! The best reaction.   MG Postscript 6/16/08:  Korchnoi’s 8. Qb3! is exceedingly dangerous.

8…e5 Not the only move, but a popular choice. On other moves, white likely follows up with the natural centralizing Nf3-d4. There is an ICC maniac who insists on playing 8…c5? here giving himself a huge hole on e6 but we can’t go that far afield.

9. dxe6 e.p. Bxe6 10. b3 Ne4?! The move 10…Na6! is much more reliable and leaves white with a small plus. Dutch IM Helmut Cardon held a draw vs me in a tournament in Eeklo, Belgium in the 1985 with this slow but solid enough way of playing. The text has been known to be dubious for some time.

11. Nxe4 fxe4! (11…Bxa1? is far too risky although it has been seen in a handful of games in practice. White has won model games after both 12. Qxd6, with monstrous ending compensation, and also 12. Nxd6, with monstrous middlegame compensation. The only weak move after 11…Bxa1 is the optically strong but totally ineffective 12. Neg5? – strange but true). I wrote an entire article on this subline which subscribers can access. You will need a subscriber user and password to access this specialized article.

12. Nd4 Bf5 Well, black’s position isn’t so bad here. She avoided the weak material grab and is playing for solidity.

13. Bf4 White makes up his mind to pressure the weak d6 pawn. I am not sure how great this move is, because the black d-pawn can move!

13…d5 14. cxd5 Qxd5! White had not really reckoned on this method of play. Black retains excellent defensive chances.

15. Nxf5 gxf5 16. Qxd5 cxd5 As you might guess, white has achieved very little by giving black a very nice pawn formation with his last few ineffective moves. The combination of white’s 15th and 16th should be awarded a collective “?!” symbol.

17. Rad1 d4 The truth dawns that black has fully equalized. This doesn’t mean the end of the game though – both sides have resources and the position is sharp with “mutual chances” as they say in wise textbooks.


18. g4 When in doubt, do something to break up a pawn formation. 18…Nc6! The right reaction. It would be naive to hope for the weak 18…fxg4? 19. Bxe4 hitting b7 thus giving black no time to take the loose bishop on f4.

19. e3 Waiting. 19…Rae8! Protecting the soon to be weak pawn on e4.

20. gxf5 Rxf5 Now it’s time for white to do something mysterious to confuse the issue. In his heyday, GM Sammy Reshevsky was a great maestro of the pseudo-constructive move – the opponent often simply misconstrued his (non-) intentions and promptly went wrong. White’s next move is a good example of a pseudo-constructive move that gives black some possible noose.

21. Kh1! There it is! This move, threatening absolutely nothing, gives black the option of potentially going wrong.

21…Nb4(?!) This move isn’t bad by itself, but it was not necessary. White really wasn’t doing much.

22. Bh3 Rxf4?! The variation 22…Rf7 23. Bg4! (idea of Bg4-h5) is annoying for black but should be considered. The text, creating what looks like an unstoppable passed pawn that is barreling ahead to a touchdown, is dealt with by some suprising long-range bishop maneuvers.

23. exf4 e3 24. fxe3 dxe3 25. Bd7! I am fairly sure black overlooked this in her calculations when she decided on her 22nd move.

25…Re7 What else? 26. Bb5! This switchback is suddenly decisive. 26…e2 fails to 27. Rd8+ so white remains solid material up. Nevertheless, the ending conversion requires careful technique.

26…Nxa2 Black might as well grab a pawn for her troubles.

27. Bc4+ Kf8 28. Rd8+! When material up, it’s always good to simplify to reduce the opoonent’s counterchances.

28…Re8 29. Rxe8+ Kxe8


30. Kg2 The king should always be used in the ending particularly when an enemy passed pawn needs to be held at bay. After the king is centralized, white can proceed on the kingside.

30…Nc3 31. Kf3 Bd4 Black’s knight and bishop form an effective team. Time to formulate an effective plan for white that takes into account black’s easy to fathom counterplay involving rushing the a- and b- pawns up.

32. Bd3 Getting out of the way of …b7-b5 and hitting the pawn on h7. 32…b5! Excellent play. Black must not hesitate to mobilize the queenside pawns. White doesn’t really have time to take on h7 (yet) and so activates the rook first.

33. Rg1! Kd7! The best chance. Black’s king rushes to assist the mobile queenside pawn duo. 34. Rg5! This is the winning idea. Using the rook laterally not only helps to hold up black, it also helps to usher the f-pawn ahead. 34…Kc6 35. Rh5! a5


36. f5 White figured out that he is a little faster in this race thanks to a tactical trick.

36… a4 37. bxa4 bxa4 38. f6! Kd6 Clearly, 38…Bxf6 39. Rh6 Nd5 40. Be4, winning a piece via the multiple pins, is not playable for black. This is the tactical motif that forces black’s king to run back, but it’s met by a completely bone-crushing move.

39. Rf5! Not super difficult but instructive. Placing the rook behind the passed pawn wins a piece and the game. White’s play in this phase was very accurate, not giving black any chances at all. 39…a3 40. f7 Bg7 41. f8=Q Bxf8 Black could have resigned here.

42. Rxf8 Kc5 43. Bxh7 Now is the time to capture on h7, since on g8 the bishop fulfills key defensive duties and the white h-pawn is ready to run.

43…e2 44. Kf2 Kc4 45. Ra8 Rooks behind passed pawns. 45…Kb3 46. Bg8+ Kc2 47. Ke1 Not letting black’s king close to the e-pawn. 47…Kb2 48. h4


Nothing can stop the h-pawn so black resigned. 1-0