Archive for the ‘World Open 1985’ Category

Once in a Lifetime Structures: Pawn Diamonds and Pawn Boxes

November 21, 2007

Sometimes a structure, a certain arrangement of pieces or pawns, occurs on the chessboard so outlandish, so absurd, so … je ne sais quoi…. it’s apparent it’s not going to happen again – at least to the player who created it.  Oh by way check out this nice companion blog from the UK while we are on the subject.

The Tale of the Pawn Diamond

The Pawn Diamond is one of those inimitable structures. Another related ‘situation’ (of wacky material imbalance) occurred in the 80s in my game against NM Alan Williams (Bar Point Chess Club, NYC) where I had 3 Queens and a Rook versus a Queen and 2 Rooks for many moves, but that’s a different story (the Williams game for some time was a record holder in Tim Krabbe’s world records compendium). But here we are talking about structures – pieces or pawns’ placements relative to one another. So I would say the Pawn Diamond is my strangest absolute structure. It’s so powerful!

Let’s see it. Or, in Lord of the Rings terms, “All shall see it and despair.”

Patrick Wolff – IM Mark Ginsburg NY Open 1983

1. e4 Young Patrick was quite tardy for the game which did not help him when the game got complicated.

1…g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. f4 Nc6 5. Be3 Nf6

Well, with the black knight committed to f6, it’s really a Pirc now. Still, the game gets really crazy.


6. Be2 O-O 7. Nf3 a6 8. Qd2 b5 9. a3 Bb7 10. f5 b4 11. axb4 Nxb4 12. fxg6
hxg6 13. Ng5 e5!
It’s always correct to act in the center when the opponent is acting on the wings. White’s structure is very loose now.


14. d5 c6 15. Na4 a5 16. c3 cxd5 17. Bb6 Qe7
18. cxb4 Bh6!
White gets into a very nasty pin and it turns out black gets overwhelming compensation for the lost piece. The problem in the opening basically is that white played too much on the wings and black stayed central.

19. h4 Nxe4 20. Qd3 axb4 21. Nxe4 dxe4 22. Qh3
Kg7 23. O-O f5
The very rare ‘pawn diamond’ starts to be formed. There is very little to do constructively that white can undertake, especially in practical play where advancing pawn phalanxes take on a life of their own.


24. h5 Rac8 25. hxg6 Qg5 26. Qh5 Qxg6 27. Rad1
Rf6 28. Qxg6+ Kxg6 29. Bb5 e3 30. Rfe1 f4 31. b3 Bg5!
Every piece gains maximum activity This is reminiscent of another Pirc/Modern game that worked out very well with a sacrifice; versus J. Shahade Las Vegas National Open 2003.

32. Bc4 Bh4 33. Re2 d5! The d-pawn is immune because white has a back-rank problem.

34. Bb5 d4 And there it is. The stuff of legends. The pawn diamond. Does anyone have access to a structural search; in how many other games has this occurred? White, of course, is dead – the diamond is worth at least 2 minor pieces. At this point, Inna Izrailov walked past and gawked in amazement.


35. Bc5 f3 It’s craven to break up the diamond and cash in, but at some point the game does have to be won.

36. gxf3 Bxf3 37. Rf1 Kh5! It’s pleasing to have the king help out too.

38. Ra2 Rg8+ 39. Kh2 Bg3+ 40. Kh3 Bf2 0-1

Well. I can definitely say I never got a Pawn Diamond again – yet.


I have to show you one more – perpetrated on me by future GM Ilya Gurevich – the humorous Pawn Box. In a weird cosmic coincidence, both Patrick and Ilya at the time were strong New England juniors. Remember, it takes two to create these structures so credit must be given to their uncompromising styles.

The Saga of the Pawn Box

IM M. Ginsburg – I. Gurevich, World Open 1985. King’s Indian, Bayonet Attack

If there was ever a time to beat Ilya, this was it. He was young and up and coming and got a not very good opening after my good prep in the Bayonet Attack King’s Indian. But then… the pawn box! Let’s see it.

1.c4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O
Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.c5!
A very under-rated system. White jettisons the two bishops, clears the g7-a1 diagonal, and is very quick on the queenside. And the best thing of all? His king never gets mated in this line – no crushing pawn storms. Nowadays, of course, Kramnik and Van Wely have popularized 10. Re1.

10…Nf4 11.Bxf4 exf4 12.Rc1 h6 13.a4 g5 14.cxd6 cxd6 15.h3 White has a very comfortable game.


15…Ng6 16.Nb5 Qe7 17.Re1 Rd8 18.Rc7 Rd7 19.Qc2 Rxc7 20.Qxc7 Qxc7 21.Nxc7 Oh yes. White has gotten the queens off, has initiative, and stands better.

21…Rb8 22.Nb5 Bd7! 23.Nxd6 Bf8! An ingenious resource. However, I thought I still had things under control.

24.e5 Bxd6 25.exd6 Bxa4 26.Nd4 Bd7 27.Bg4! A winning shot, so I thought – to gain f5 for my knight.

27…Bxg4 28.hxg4 Rd8 29.Nf5 Nh4!! I never saw this coming – the very essence of black’s defensive concept. Black deforms his structure maximally to gain enough activity to draw. This conforms to the Russian maxim, “all rook endings are drawn.” At the time, I was shocked that young Ilya was escaping. And so he did after the remaining moves…

30.Nxh4 gxh4 31.Re7 Rxd6 32.Rxb7 a6 33.Ra7 Kg7
34.Kh2 Kg6 35.Kh3 f6!
Establishing the amazing pawn box! Of course, white’s next move destroys it (nibbles it), but at least we had it on the board for a half-move. The most aesthetic thing about the box is that the move 35…f6! is actually useful, sheltering the black king from checks and preparing to eat the morsel on d5.


36.Kxh4 Rxd5 37.Kh3 Rd4 1/2-1/2


I would ask readers here, too, is there a structural search to show how many prior games had Ye Olde Boxe?


1980s Photos

July 28, 2007

Some Photos.

1981, New York City (can’t remember exact venue – think it might have been the Statler on 34 St.). The Pan-Am Intercollegiates, December.

The following motley group gathered – we were not part of any one team, we were just doing a “staged” photo clustered around the first place trophy.


From left to right, standing we have: Jon Schroer, the author, Steve Odendahl, and Eric Tall.

Seated we have future US Champion Michael Wilder whom I believe was still in High School.

Also in this time frame, maybe 1981 or 1982, we have the author at the famous Marshall CC (23 W 10 St., NY NY), site of many IM- and GM- norm tournaments.


Throughout most of the 1980s, I lived in a sprawling 3-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights (Upper Manhattan, 170th St.) along with Senior Master (hailing from Michigan) Jeremy Barth, Andrea Sisniega (sister of Mexican GM Marcel Sisniega) and at one time or another, also John Fedorowicz, Michael Rohde, and other visiting luminaries such as Pia Cramling. Here is the semi-famous cat Petey Pie, who throughout the 1980s terrorized such GM apartment guests as Eric Lobron and Ralf Lau with nocturnal prowling while they were trying to sleep. Click on Petey to see the bigger version. We used to sign her up to get magazine subscriptions; they arrived addressed to “Ms. Pie.”


The apartment was a haven for beatniks and foreign artisans. Here are discussants Charles (Chuckles) Fambro and Hanna Moishezon on our crummy Washington Heights foam sofa. Of course, Chuckles was unclassifiable. So was Hanna. I would place this photo at around 1985 or 1986 Fall 1987 or 1988 (see Jeremy Barth commentcurrent thinking places Jeremy as the photog).


Photo by Eric Schiller, whom I believed organized many of these important norm events. I discovered this photo by accident by stumbling on this web page. After making norms, players would celebrate at the palatial Schiller mansion on Long Island. One of these tournaments is where I first met Judy Shipman I found her instructional chess book somewhere and now she spells her name Judee. There must be some story there.

Moving to 1983, Manhattan Chess Club, famous old soda machine on the 10th floor of Carnegie Hall, 57th St. and 7th Avenue, on its old location on 155 E 55 St. (prior to Carnegie Hall, W 57 St), NYC. Sadly the MCC went defunct.  See another related post where I am trying to reconstitute the champions’ list with the help of one-time manager, Nick Conticello. I am pretty sure pink tinted glasses were popular then.


The author at the Manhattan Chess Club’s famous old Coke machine, 155 E 55 Street, 1983

Do you know why men like having a beard? In the act of feeling the beard (pretending to think), the concentrated nerve endings on the fingertips feel good! It’s got nothing to do with the face feeling the fingers, it’s all to do with the converse. 🙂 That’s why you see learned men of advanced education constantly feeling their beard! I read this in a neurophysiology study. Don’t make me cite it.

Here is the World Open 1985. I can state for certainty that both Ian Findlay (Canada) and Michael Wilder were relaxing on the bed. As for the principles, better they remain anonymous. The less said about this, the better. I believe this was taken in the hotel across the parking lot from the Adam’s Mark – the Sheraton (?).


Between Rounds at the World Open 1985 

Moving ahead to the World Open 1986, what progress has been made? Well, first of all we have more people in the photo. We have Leonid Bass with that stylish hat and Sergey Kudrin left to the right, seated, rear. From left to right in the forefront, we have Michael Wilder, the author, and Joel Benjamin. This looks like it was taken right outside the Adam Mark’s “Players Bar”.

Between Rounds at the World Open 1986 

Here’s another one from the World Open, same era. I would estimate it’s also 1986.


Relaxing at the World Open 1986 

Here we have Joel Benjamin on the left rear and cute as a button Andrea Sisniega (sister of Mexican GM Marcel Sisniega) with a most excellent bottle of Mouton Cadet. Andrea lived in Washington Heights in a sprawling three bedroom apartment along with me, Senior Master Jeremy Barth, and at various other times Fedorowicz, Lobron, Rohde, Christiansen, McCambridge, Lanni, Wilder, Pia Cramling, Ralf Lau, and other luminaries. Yes, 250 Fort Washington Avenue, Apt. 2A, NY, NY, 10032, had a lot of chess player guests over the years from 1981-1988.

In the forefront of this photo we have the author on the left and peripatetic Michael Wilder on the right with an amusing expression. It looks like everyone is having a good time. My “wine glass” as you might guess was an Adam’s Mark hotel bathroom glass. Not very haute couture.

Here’s one more from the same event. In this one, Mike Wilder has on Leonid Bass’s hat. Standing, left, Dmitry Gurevich. Sitting, the author. On the right, Joel Benjamin.


More between-round relaxation, World Open 1986 

The next curio depicts Joel Benjamin with some bread rolls. I don’t know the location or exact date, but it has to be the 80s, doesn’t it? Photographer unknown as of this writing.


Moving up to 1989, we have a photo from the Berlin Open organized by Herr Seppelt. Photo by Eric Tall.


The author playing blitz with Joel Benjamin, Berlin Summer Open 1989 

By this time, the pink tinted glasses were history. I actually had a job on Wall Street (although I got sacked later in the year for too much nocturnal polka-ing). From left to right seated we have Matthew Messinger and the author; I am playing Joel Benjamin in a friendly blitz game in the Hotel Intercontinental in Berlin, Germany. Standing observing the proceedings is Dr. Anne Dinning who pretty much was responsible for me losing my day job. I wrote a small article on this tournament for Chess Life magazine that some of you may remember. The upshot is that we won more in the casino than the chess tournament. The highlight of the tournament may have been GM Josef Klinger of Austria getting ejected for public drunkenness (there was a convenient beer hall directly adjacent to the playing area).

And here is the view of the actual Berlin Open playing hall. I’m figuring out where to move vs a German FM Uwe Bokelbrink. Photo by Eric Tall.


The author (left, foreground playing white) vs. FM Uwe Bokelbrink, Berlin 1989 

And of course we saw two dogs fighting (or were they playing?) in Berlin:


Action photo credit: Eric Tall.

And at the very end of the decade I played in a Brugges, Belgium tournament New Years Eve 1989.

Before the event, this photo was taken in Delft, Holland.


The author and Christine Syben, Scheveningen Holland 1989. 

Nice town! Home of the little blue porcelain. That’s the author with a smaller person, American chess player Christine Syben. She went on to lose money in the Scheveningen casino. Photo by Eric Tall.

Finally we switch to what has to be a World Open; Canadian future IM Deen Hergott vs Joel Benjamin.  A side note: the Wikipedia article on Hergott mentions he is the chess columnist for the Ontario Citizen newspaper – I learn so much from Wikipedia!  The article also points out Hergott’s academic proficiency in mathematics, a nice counterpoint to our own IM Kenny Regan.

As is usual, if anyone has the game score of this encounter (for completeness), that would be appreciated – send it in.

Deen Hergott (left) vs Joel Benjamin, World Open (?), 198x (?) 

Do you feel like jumping ahead a decade? Here are the 1990s photos.