Belgium has always been a nice place to play. Eeklo is in Flemish Belgium (Dutch language, no French) nestled near the Dutch border (Sas van Gent, Holland, has been another location for the event). It is slightly larger than the proverbial one-horse town that would be a one-horse town if somebody gave it a horse. In the center of town, there was a cafe with the crowd-pleasing “crevette salade” – very yummy.
Here is a battle versus future GM Danny King in the Eeklo, Belgium ECI International. There is also a concomitant ECI Youth Open. Luminaries who have played in this event in years past include John van der Wiel, David Goodman, Pavel Blatny, Philipp Schlosser, Ferdinand Hellers, Erik Pedersen, and more!
Danny King – IM M. Ginsburg ECI 1983 Eeklo, Belgium
1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d6 6. c4 Nbd7 7. Nc3 e5 8. h3 c6 9. e4 Re8 10. Re1 exd4 11. Nxd4 a5 Needless to say white has good chances to gain an edge starting from here, but white’s next few moves seem tentative.
12. Rb1 Nc5 13. b3 Nh5 14. Be3 Be5!? White can’t repel with f4 because the g3 pawn would be hanging. The text sets up an unusual re-arrangement to keep black’s piece activity alive, but in retrospect it’s a little dubious.
15. Qd2 Ne6 16. Nde2?! 16. Nxe6 Bxe6 17. g4! is a strong idea. Black is running severely short of space after 17…Ng7 18. f4 Bf6 19. g5 Be7.
16…Qf6 17. Rbc1?! And here, 17. Na4! eyeing b6 is strong. Sometimes it’s best to simply vacate the a1-h8 diagonal in King’s Indian structures, leaving black’s pieces pointing at nothing.
17… g5! 18. Rf1 If 18. Na4 now, black has 18…Nhf4! (not 18…Nef4? 19. Nb6!) with counterchances.
I have managed to totally confuse the strong captain of the white forces with my unusual play. This move prohibits white’s agenda with f2-f4 in the most radical way and cements black’s advantage. A classic example of two sides each pursuing their own agenda, almost unmindful of the other, with one side arriving slightly earlier at the goal.
19. g4 Ng7 20. Ng3 h5 21. f3 Nge6?! 21…hxg4 22. fxg4 Qh6! is strong.
22. Nce2! White hunkers down an plays a set of optically horrific moves, but in fact they are strong and limit black’s pull to a minimum.
22… hxg4?! Stronger is the immediate 22…Qh8! – it is careless to let white operate on the f-file right away.
23. fxg4 Qh8 24. Bxf4 Nxf4 25. Nxf4 Bxf4
26. Rxf4!? White is doing his best to stay afloat.
26…gxf4 27. Nh5 Qe5 28. Rf1 Re6! A very useful transfer of the rook for offensive and defensive purposes. See the note to black’s 32nd move for how I should have to used this rook to get at white’s king.
29. Rxf4 Rg6 Of course there is some risk that the rook will wind up stranded here with nothing to do – which occurred in the game after I made a mistake!
30. Qf2 Be6 31. h4? A major mistake. This is tactically playable due to the fork on f6 but it’s much too optimistic and now black should win. Correct was 31. Nf6+ Kg7 32. Nh5+ Kf8 33. Qb6! with counterplay; for example 33…Qc5+ 34. Qxc5 dxc5 35. e5! and white is OK.
31…a4! This calm reply puts white in a lost game.
32. b4 A desperate bid at counterplay. If black opens the a-file for the rook it will all be over very soon.
32…c5? First of all, 32…a3! keeps a huge edge. Secondly, I must have been scared of the obvious capture 32…Bxc4! 33. Qb6 Qe7? 34. Qd4, but I had a brilliant sequence here: 32…Bxc4! 33. Qb6 Kh8! 34. Qxb7 Rag8! (every piece attacking) 35. g5 Qc3! 36. Qxc6 Qe3+! 37. Rf2 Qe1+! 38. Bf1 Rxg5+!! and mate in 9! The text doesn’t throw away black’s edge, but it’s third-best. It would have been very nice (for me) to snatch the pawn and then find the mating variation, but it was not on my radar at the time.
33. bxc5 Qxc5?
A big blunder after a small blunder that destroys my hopes of winning. Correct is 33…dxc5! keeping the blockade and black has every chance to win. For example, 34. Nf6+ Kg7 35. g5 Bxc4 36. Rf5 Qd4 with a small black edge. If I converted, this would give me first place in the tournament and relegate Danny to 2nd.
34. Qxc5 dxc5 35. e5 Kh8 36. Nf6 Rd8 37. Bd5!
White has skillfully bottled black up – a consequence of my little miscue at move 32 and big miscue at move 33 which released the blockade.
37…Kg7 38. g5 Bxd5 39. cxd5 b5 40. Kf1 c4 41. Ke2 At adjournment we decided to call it quits, although white now has a huge positional bind. It clinched tournament victory for Danny.
And so Danny captured 1st place and I finished 2nd, to the delight of his Belgian lady cheering section.
Ths game reminds me of the famous quote by Lord Alfred Tennyson (good for barking out after any draw):
“Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null,
Dead perfection; no more. “
That was the result of the game – a big fat null.
Since chess players need culture, a picture of Lord Tennyson to go with his great quote:
Marjan Mitkov – Mark Ginsburg ECI 1989 King’s Indian 4 Pawns Attack
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. f4 c5 7. d5 b5 8. cxb5 a6 9. Nf3? This allows a simple trick.
9…axb5 10. Bxb5 Nxe4! 11. Nxe4 Qa5+ 12. Nc3 Bxc3+ 13. bxc3 Qxb5 14. Kf2 Qc4! Freezing white’s weak pawns.
Position after 14…Qc4!
15. Qd2 Bb7 16. Re1 Re8 17. a3 Bxd5 18. Qe3 Bxf3? There is no reason to give up this strong bishop.
19. Qxf3 d5 20. f5 Nd7 21. Bg5 e5 22. Qh3 Qa4 23. Kg1 f6 24. fxg6 hxg6 25. Qd3 Kg7 26. Bd2 Qc6 27. c4 d4 Well, it looks really awful for white anyway. Nevertheless, he succeeds in finding chances!
Position after 27…d4. White finds some chances.
28. Re4 f5 29. Rh4 Rh8 30. Qh3 Rxh4 31. Qxh4 Nf6
32. Qh6+ Kf7 33. Rf1 Rxa3 34. g4! White is not quitting and the game gets very exciting in mutual time trouble.
Position after 34. g4! – Excitement!
34…fxg4 35. Qh7+ Ke6 36. Qxg6 Rf3 37. Ra1 e4 38. Bg5 Ke5 39. Ra7 e3 40. Re7+ Kd6 41. Bxf6 White has gained a piece in the time scramble.
Position after 41. Bxf6 – White is up a piece after the time control.
41…Rf1+! But black finds an aesthetic shot that forces mate!
42. Kxf1 Qf3+ 0-1
This combination was very satisfying to play because it was at the tail-end of a series of blows and counter-blows.
From the 1985 ECI Eeklo event (I won the IM section ahead of future GM Ferdinand Hellers), here is the USA junior representative, Revi Schea.
USA Junior representative Revi Schea, Eeklo Belgium 1985