Posts Tagged ‘Ben Finegold’

The Fabulous 00s: North American Open 2008

January 21, 2009

Let’s see my 7th round game vs GM Slavko Cicak.  Shortly after this interesting game concluded, we could both be found at the Bally’s poker table.  I, in fact, lost my $100 chip stack in record time by betting wildly. GM Varuzh Akobian could be spotted at the next table over.

GM Slavko Cicak – M. Ginsburg  Round 7 NAO Las Vegas 12/28/08.

Sicilian Defense, 3. c3 4. Bc4 irregular

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Bc4!? A pet line of Cicak’s that he employed in a prior round (not known to me at the time of this game).


Position after 4. Bc4!?

4…e6 After lengthy reflection I could not work out the ramifications of 4… Nxe4!? 5. Qa4+ Nc6 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qxe4.  But more insight reveals the surprising 7…Qd7!  overprotecting the light squares  (less convincing is 7… h6 8. O-O e5 9. Na3 Qf6) and black is fully confident with the bishop pair.  For example, 8. O-O Qf5 9. Qe3 e5 10. Re1 Be7 11.d4 exd4 12. cxd4 Be6 13. Nc3 cxd4 14. Nxd4 Nxd4 15. Qxd4 Rhc8 and black is fine!  I am not sure if this approach has been seen in prior play.   Objectively 4. Bc4 cannot yield anything.

5. Qe2 Be7 6. d4 cxd4 7. cxd4 d5 8. Bb5+ Nc6 9. e5 Ne4 10. O-O O-O 11. Bd3 Black faces no particular problems after 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Bd7 13. Bd3 Na5.  After the text, black must find a promising pawn sacrifice since 11….f5?! looks weakening.


Position after 10. Bd3.  Time for black to fight back.

11… Nb4! 12. Bxe4 dxe4 13. Qxe4 Bd7 14. Qe2 During the game I was more concerned about 14. Nc3 Bc6 15. Qg4, but after the careful 15… Kh8! black is OK.  For example,  White can get tricky offering a piece: 16. Rd1 Rc8 17. Be3 Nd5 18. Ne4 h6 19. Bg5! Bxg5 (clearly 19…hxg5? is not possible due to the queen and knight mate)  20. Nfxg5 Qb6! 21. b3 Qb4! 22. h4 Rc7 and black has enough counterplay.

14… Bc6 15.Be3 After 15. Nc3 Rc8 16. Be3 h6 17. Rfd1 Nd5 18. Rac1 Qa5 19. Bd2 Nxc3 20. bxc3 Bd5! black has plenty of Gruenfeld-like compensation.

15… Bxf3!  It’s a shame to get rid of black’s beautiful bishop, but the shattering of white’s pawns leads to full compensation in all lines.

16. gxf3 f5! 17. f4 What else?  And with this move white offered a draw.  It’s card-playing time!   A sample continuation is 17… Rc8 18. Nc3 Qd7! (the most accurate; less good is 18…Qa5) 19. Rac1 Rfd8 20. Rfd1 Nd5 21. Qf3 Nxc3 22. Rxc3 Rxc3 23. bxc3 b5! and black keeps full compensation with an iron light square blockade. It’s almost impossible for white to undertake anything.


Position after 17. f4 – Final Position


Mark Diesen Memorial Articles Available!

My Mark Diesen (World Junior Champ 1976) articles are available at US Chess Online.

Don’t forget to read about Mark Diesen’s life and play over some selected games of his here (Part 2) and here (Part 1).

Facebook Rules

A lot of chess players are flocking to Facebook.  Each profile has a “wall” that can be scribbled on (and counter-scribbled).

Where else can you:

a) discuss astrophysics with Vanessa Pinkham in South Africa as she prepares to go to Madagascar

b) learn that Ben Finegold is a fan of Hypnotoad

c) see all the possible choices Carina Jorgensen has in eyewear (here’s one of her artworks).

d) gawk at pictures of Dave Vigorito and his fiancee

And for something different

The Streatham & Brixton Chess Club website has this pearl:

“Two could play at that

To his surprise, instead of making a pass at him, she sauntered over to join him at the service niche. She took up an Imperial armorers’ sponge in her fingers, and began cleaning and disinfecting the blade of an épée, which showed that she knew what she was doing.

Her curled hand stroked firmly up and down the long shaft, leaving a gleaming trail of moisture where the sponge in her palm had pressed. The erotic suggestion was almost certainly deliberate.

Two could play at that.

A short excerpt from Knight’s Fork by Rowena Cherry who, according to her publicity


…has played chess with a Grand Master and former President of the World Chess Federation (hence the chess-pun titles of her alien romances).

She has spent folly filled summers in a Spanish castle; dined on a sheikh’s yacht with royalty; been seranaded (on a birthday) by a rockstar and an English nobleman; ridden in a pace car at the 1993 Indy 500; received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; and generally lived on the edge of the sort of life that inspires her romances about high-living alien gods.

As for me, I’ve lived on the edge of the sort of life which inspires me to note that there are at least three errors of English in the paragraph above. But that’s probably why I shall be playing chess today, and Ms Cherry (not, I suspect, her maiden name) will be living a life among alien gods. Or something similar.

Or maybe she will be busy at her desk, adding to her apparently Orwell-inspired oeuvre – among which are such works as Forced Mate, Mating Net and Insufficient Mating Material.

I, at least, am not making this up.”

Author’s note:  the jig may be up – I may have to give up the anonymity afforded by the moniker “Ms. Cherry.”

Blast from the Past

Going back to 1990, here is the author tangled up with Jorge Zamora (Sammour-Hasbun) in Massachusetts.


Jorge was strong back in 1990, too

This may have been the tournament featuring my surreal victory over Jack Young. (Plymouth, 1990).

Search Engine Terms

Readers used these terms to find my site.

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The Fabulous 70s: News of the Weird and my First Dzindzi Encounter

November 11, 2007

Chess Life & Review editor Burt Hochberg really foisted some lu-lu covers on the chessplaying masses in the 1970s.

Here is a typical shocker, Paul Morphy’s hand (actual size). Shades of the macabre Edgar Allen Poe!


A whole nation of chessplayers suddenly found themselves putting their hand on the cover photo to compare. And the truth became apparent: Morphy had a small, delicate, feminine hand. You can see for yourself by noticing the relative size of the push-pins.

When the nation got tired of macabre comparisons, it was time to look inside for the latest, juiciest, Rating List. Here is the State of the Union of the US Juniors, September 1977.


Some notable names and numbers:

Mark Diesen, World Junior Champion, heads the pack at 2440 (an astronomical rating back then). Close behind are Michael Rohde and Yasser Seirawan. Note the Whitehead brothers are neck and neck with Paul at 2269 and Jay at 2256. Girome Bono, #13, is still active on ICC. I used to play Karl Dehmelt (#16) quite a bit on Philadelphia-area tournaments. 13-year old Joel Benjamin is #22 at 2199 (one point shy of master!). I’m #18 at 2212. Moving down, “Collins Kid” Louis Cohen is #35 at 2142. Chess author John Donaldson is #37 at 2141 (a late-bloomer, obviously, at 18 years of age). Peter Winston is #41 at 2131 and right next to him is the fellow who wrote about him in a recent Chess Life, Charlie Hertan at 2129. Billy Adam, subject of my related article, is #46 at 2119. #47, Richard Kaner, won the National HS one year in a highly improbable upset year.

The under-16 list is also amusing. #33, Miles Ardaman, at 1784. #47, David Griego, at 1642. Everybody starts somewhere! The #2, Tyler Cowen, might have quit chess early but nobody can say he didn’t keep busy. And he has an amusing new book out titled “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist” – I kid you not. In a weird cross-disciplinary coincidence, he was mentored in economics by Schelling at Harvard (author of the famous Schelling curves, showing incentives to contribute, and a key citation in my NYU Information Systems dissertation.

Just to convince people there’s actually chess on this site sometimes, here’s an upset win I scored over GM Roman Dzindzihashvili way back in December 1979 (The Chicago Christmas Masters/Experts). Ben Finegold quizzed me recently on ICC as to the existence of this game (his father witnessed it). Yes, it does exist, and here it is, unearthed from the tomb of my ancient scorepad pile.

NM Mark Ginsburg (2373) – GM Roman Dzindzihashvili (2595) Chicago Christmas M/E 12/30/79 Round 4.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Bg5

I was extremely familiar with this position, having just played Eugene Meyer a Kan-thematic training match in Washington, DC.

9…Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 More careful was 10… O-O 11. f4 Qb6 12. Nb3 Qc7. In the early stage, Roman was playing quickly, obviously underestimating the unknown kid.

11. f4 Qc7 And now more circumspect was 11…O-O 12. f5 Ne5 13. fxg6 fxg6 14. Nf3 Nf7! 15. Bh4 Qc7 with a playable game.

12. f5 gxf5? This makes everything worse. Relatively best was 12… e5 13. Nc2 O-O 14. Ne3 Bb7 15. Rc1 Nc5 16. Ned5 Nxd5 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. cxd5 Qd7 19. f6 and white is much better, but not completely winning.

13. exf5 e5 Strangely, it’s already lost for black.


14. Ne6! The computer shows another unusually attractive way to win: 14. Nd5!! Nxd5 15. Ne6!! (an exquisite and extremely rare double knight sacrifice; you’ve heard of double bishop sacrifices (Lasker-Bauer) but how often have you heard of a double knight sacrifice?) 15…fxe6 16. Qh5+ Kf8 17. fxe6+ and white cruises. For example, 17…N7f6 18. cxd5 Qe7 19. Bxf6 (or keep sacrificing for a quicker kill, 19. Rxf6+! Bxf6 20. Rf1 Bxe6 21. dxe6 Qxe6 22. Rxf6+ Qxf6 23. Bxf6 and wins) 19… Bxf6 20. Qh6+ with destruction. At the time, I saw my 16th move “Excelsior” theme and decided to go for that. It wins easily enough, but I have to rate the computer line higher in creativity and speed of execution.

14… fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! A great move to be able to play against a strong player. Black’s rook is frozen to f8.


16…Bb7 The problem is that 16… Re8 is crushed by 17. Nd5 (or by 17. Rxf6 Nxf6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5; it’s unusual that white has so many winning lines so early) 17… Nxd5 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Qxe8+ Kh7 21. Qh5+ and this pleasing pendulum maneuver nets white a second queen. So black must resort to the text and the rest is just a mop-up with no special carefulness or technique required; a good thing because at this age I had none.

17. exf8=Q+ Rxf8 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. cxd5 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Nc5 21. Rc1 e4 22. Bxe4 Bxb2 23. Re1 Be5 24. Bf4 Qf7 25. Bxe5 Qxf1+ 26. Rxf1 dxe5 27. Bb1 Bxd5 28. Rf5! Nd7 29. Rh5! The very active rook cannot be stopped.

29…Bf7 30. Rxh7 Bxa2 31. Rxd7 Bxb1 32. Rd6 b5 33. Rxa6 Kf7 34. Kg1 Bd3 35. Kf2 Bc4 36. h4 Bd5 37. Rb6 Bc4 38. g4 Bd3 39. Ke3 Bf1 40. g5 Kg7 41. Ke4 1-0

After the game, Roman feeling the anger of losing to a weaker player (I’ve felt that way many times), said “You have just bought yourself bad luck for rest of life.” This was tame compared to the Bill Lombardy speech I received after Bill lost on time at a World Open, but I knew what Roman meant – I would be in for heavy weather the next couple of times we met. And indeed, the next time we met (I was white again) I won his queen but he gained too much play with a Rook, Knight and Pawn and scored a positionally well-executed victory that made it into the Robert Byrne New York Times column (World Open, 1980).


Here is that game:

M. Ginsburg – GM Roman Dzindzichashvili World Open 1980

1.g3 c5 2.Bg2 Nc6 3.e4 g6 4.Ne2 The sort of off-beat knight placement in anti-Sicilians favored by the dearly departed Billy Adam.

4…Bg7 5.c3 e5 6.O-O Nge7 7.Na3
O-O 8.Nc2 d5 9.d3 Be6 10.f4 dxe4 11.dxe4 Bc4 12.Bd2 Qd3 13.Rf2
Rad8 14.Ned4
The sort of tactic that might “work” but no player is very happy about executing. It wins black’s queen but gets a structurally very bad game.

14…exf4 15.Ne1 fxg3 16.Nxd3 gxf2 17.Nxf2 cxd4 18.Qc2
Be6 19.Kh1 dxc3 20.Bxc3 Nd4 21.Qb1 Nec6 22.Qf1 Ne5 23.b3 h5
24.Rd1 Ng4 25.Rd3 Nxf2+ 26.Qxf2 Nxb3 27.Qc2 Rxd3 28.Qxd3 Nc1
29.Qe3 Bxc3 30.Qxc3 Rc8 31.Qe3 Nxa2 32.h3 b5 33.Qxa7 b4 34.e5
b3 35.Qb7 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 Rc2 37.Kg3 Nc3 38.Be4 Nxe4+ 39.Qxe4 Rc3+

An amusing bygones-era photo collage of the combatants in this game – the unlucky GM, as you probably can guess, is on the left – his photo is circa 1992, I think, and mine was from April 1979:


Sweet Validation

October 17, 2007

Living Chess History Lives!

I am very pleased that people are starting to chip in with their own memories, recollections, anecdotes, games, what have you – to fill out my “near-term” historical outlines.  The process is working and almost snowballing and I must say the wordpress blog format is ideal for this fill-in-the-blanks exercise that spans time and space.  The nice thing about chess history is that it includes gamescores, good and bad moves, memorable situations, as well as personalities, photos, interesting places, …. all very historical!  We are at an interesting cusp here – the pre-Chessbase (computer? what the heck is that?) and the post-Chessbase (computer-heavy) days.  Many of the games you’ll see here are pre-Chessbase (but by all means, add them to your database!).  Since there are some big names, such as GM Larsen, GM Dzindzihashvili, etc., no doubt many game hunters will indeed want to increase their electronic storehouse.

The Notion of Game Replay

I received a request from Mr. Friedel at ChessBase to have all the games at this site replayable via a Javascript widget, the type you might see in a generic ChessBase output file or US Chess Online.  I am working on it, but wordpress has certain constraints (it strips out 3rd party iFrames).  For now, I will just use a mixture of text and well-placed diagrams as you might see in a book.

Special thanks to early respondents

Ian Findlay, Jeremy Barth, Jon Jacobs, Bruce Leverett, Lonnie Kwartler, John Fedorowicz, Barry Popik, Joe LuxBen Finegold, Elizabeth Vicary, Gregory Kaidanov, Ken Regan, and a few anonymous New Englanders.

All I can say is, keep the memories coming.

-MG 10/18/07