Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Fischer’

The Fabulous 70s: Breakthough Games

January 17, 2008

Certain games boost a player’s career. Here are 2 examples from 1973 (I started tournaments September, 1972 by winning a Novice Section in Washington, DC – credit to Bobby Fischer and his eponymously named “Fischer Boom”!). I am writing this paragraph on the day Bobby Fischer passed away.

Game 1.

In the first game, be aware I knew no theory at all. I had just studied a Reinfeld book, “Comprehensive Chess Course” which was actually a bunch of Reinfeld paperbacks stuck together into one thick hardcover. The game showed me I had some ability to “make the pieces dance” – cool tactics always captivate Juniors. Let’s see it. At the time I was “B” strength.
NN – M. Ginsburg Offhand Game, May 5, 1973. Quartermadero, CA.

Bird’s Opening.

1. f4 d5 2. e3 c5 3. Be2 Nc6 4. Nf3 g6 5. O-O Bg7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Ne5 Nxe5 8. fxe5 Nd7 9. d4 cxd4 10. exd4 Qb6 11. Kh1 O-O 12. c3? 12. Nc3 is the right move.

12…f6! 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. Bd3 Bg4 Too advanced for me was 14…e5! 15. Nd2 (15. dxe5?? Ng4 wins for black) 15…Ng4 with a huge plus.

15. Qc2 Ne4 I adorned my scorepad with a “!” here but 15…e5! is again also strong. The text is fine too.

16. Re1 Nf2+ 17. Kg1

nn1.png

Position after 17. Kg1. What’s the crazy kid gonna do?

17…Bxd4? I gave this one “!!” but in fact it is too crazy and it should only draw. It is a cool move, though. The right moves are the cold-blooded 17…Rac8 18. Qd2 e5! or the immediate 17…e5 again, in both cases winning easily.

18. cxd4 Qxd4 19. Be3? Really quite amazingly, the ignoring move 19. Bxg6! draws for white. The text runs into my planned refutation and it all comes up roses for black.

19…Qxd3 20. Qc7

nn2.png

Position after 20. Qc7. This time, I get it right.

20…Nh3+! I gave it a “!” on my scorepad and it is nice. White gets overloaded.

21. gxh3 Rf1+! Very nice. I gave it “!!”. White has no chance to breathe.

22. Rxf1 Qxe3+ 23. Rf2 Rf8 24. Qg3 Qe1+ 25. Kg2 Bxh3+! The final overloading shot. I once again awarded it “!!”. I must have really liked this game (I reconstructed it after the fact into my first scorepad). 26. Kxh3 Rxf2 27. Nd2 Qe6+ 28. Kh4 Qf6+ 29. Qg5 Rxh2+ 30. Kg4 h5+ 0-1

The entire game, played poolside, must have taken only about 20 minutes but it was very enjoyable (at least for the player with the black pieces). I don’t know how strong NN was.

Let’s see the second game, actually more important: the first time I managed to beat a USCF expert. It occurred in a DC Chess League (DCCL) game, June 1, 1973.

Game 2.

Mark Ginsburg (1692, JCC “A”) – Kent Goulding (2023, “Toadgrabbers”).

Sicilian Defense, Dragon, Classical. 6/1/73.

The Toadgrabbers were the perennial league powerhouse. This 1973 edition featured strong players Mark Diesen, Allan Savage, and Richard Delaune. Our team was crushed in this match, but I had a happy ending on my board. Interestingly, my opponent Kent went on to become a world-class backgammon talent, authoring books (such as Backgammon with the Champions) and playing in many top-level matches. He also seems to have played some poker.

His brother, Phil “Flippy” Goulding, was my contemporary at Pyle Junior High School (that’s when I played in my first tournament) and subsequently at Walt Whitman HS. We would play Bethesda-Chevy-Chase (BCC HS) – they had future IM Steve Odendahl – many mirthful HS matchups. I also played in some tournament bridge events with Flippy and I heard a rumor that later on in life, Flippy captured the OTB Texas State Chess Championship. Future World Junior Champ Mark Diesen was a HS over in the other direction, Potomac HS. As far as I know, Mark Diesen and Flippy now both reside in Texas.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6

It’s a Dragon and I know zero theory. What to do? The Classical Variation!

7. Be2 d6 8. f4 O-O 9. O-O Bd7 10. Kh1 Qc8 11. Rc1 I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

11…Ng4 12. Bg1 At the time, I was sort of proud of this “nestled” bishop and the fact my 10th had vacated the g1 nestle point. Today, of course, all this is ho-hum. Black is fine.

12…Nxd4 13. Bxd4 e5 14. Nd5!? Re8 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Bc3 h5 17. Bb4 Qd8 18. Bc4 I’m just sort of flailing around. My opponent is tempted into winning an exchange, but I get the material back.

18…Qh4 19. h3 Nf2+ 20. Rxf2 Qxf2 21. Nc7

kent73_1.png

Position after 21. Nc7. Black has a strange defense here.

21…Bc6 A curious computer defense here is 21… Bh6! 22. Qf1 Qf4 23. Rd1 Qxf1+ 24. Rxf1 Bf4! with a level game. The text is also OK; maybe white is a tiny bit better.

22. Nxa8 Bxe4 23. Qf1! Thanks to the counterattack on f7, White is fine.

23…Qxf1+ 24. Rxf1 Rxa8 25. Rxf7 Kh8 26. Bd3 Bd5 27. Rd7 Bc6 28. Re7!? A very odd “winning attempt” that unexpectedly succeeds. Retreats are a simple draw.

28…Bf8 White is OK after losing the exchange, but it certainly should not be anything for me.

29. Bxg6 Bxe7 30. Bxe7

kent_2.png

Position after 30. Bxe7. Black is fine but he has to be accurate.

30…e4?! Black starts to go wrong. If memory serves, he was in time trouble (Time Control 50 moves in 2 hours). He had the surprising and instructive 30… h4! with the idea 31. Bxh4 Kg7! 32. Bd3 Rh8 33. Bf2 Rxh3+! and he stands better. This isn’t forced, but in the game black doesn’t get any kind of play. After 30…h4! his rook gets active in all lines. The problem with the text is that white can easily deal with the passed center pawn, and black’s rook doesn’t have entry points.

31. Bxh5 Kg7 32. Bc5 b6 33. Be3 Rf8 34. Be2 White’s bishops have reached nice blockading squares.

34…Kg6? Black should play 34… Kf6 35. g4 Ke5; that’s where the king belongs. It will be tough for white to win that position. For example, 36. Kg2 b5 37. c3 a5 38. a3 b4!? with some counterplay. White is a bit better, but it will be a tough slog.

35. g4 Rh8 Now black has very little play.

36. Kg2 Bd5? Necessary was 36…b5. The text is the last straw.

37. c4! White’s advantage has reached decisive proportions.

37…Be6 38. Kg3 Rc8 39. b3 b5 40. c5! Sealing things up. Black is helpless.

40…Bd5 41. Bxb5 Rc7 42. Kf4 Rf7+? Losing material but it was lost anyway.

43. Ke5 Ba8 44. Be8 Kg7 45. Bxf7 Kxf7 46. Kd6 1-0

 

I was really shocked that I won this game. Beating an Expert! This milestone helped me realize that even (oooh!) Masters might be fallible. Soon I would be feasing on the likes of John Meyer , Robert Eberlein, and other locals such as Duncan Thompson, but that would take two years or more.

 

Postscript: My First Tournament

 

My First Tournament was the 8-round Swiss, September 1972 Novice Section at the Ramada Inn, Thomas Circle, Washington, DC. I managed to win it! Here are two games.

 

 

Mark Ginsburg (UNR) – Moses Ma (1288) Round 4, Alekhine’s Defense

Ah, to be unrated again!   Even though I knew no theory, I was able to get “OK” positions in most openings.

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. exd6 cxd6 7. Bd3 e5 8. d5 Nb4 9. Be2 Bf5 10. Na3 Qe7 11. Be3 e4 12. Nd4 Bg6 13. Ndb5 Nd3+ 14. Bxd3 exd3 15. O-O Qd8 16. f4 Be4 17. Re1 g6??  This miscue ends the game.

18. Bd4 Rg8 19. Rxe4+ Kd7 20. Qxd3 a6 21. Qe3 Nxc4 22. Nxc4 axb5 23. Nb6+ Kc7 24. Rc1+ Kb8 25. Re8 Qxe8 26. Qxe8+ Ka7 27. Qxa8# 1-0

I include this bad game just for historical interest – my opponent certainly went on to make societal headines: Moses Ma went on to become “Dr. Ma”, a very well known Information Technology consultant and head of a large consulting company, MMG Partners. Very amusingly, he also made big headlines in the 1980s when his MIT squad was busted in a tournament bridge cheating scandal. His team was using hand signals to relay their cards – the gory details are here. The hand signals were much too fidgety and they were caught on camera. Ooops! At the time, it was the most “shocking” etc. etc. scandal, but I had a good laugh due to the sheer ineptitude of the cheaters. I have it on good authority that the MIT Dean, when contacted for comment, said “A card game? Who cares!” and hung up the phone.

Let’s fast forward to the last round. I have 6.5 points out of 7, and my opponent Ziegler has 6. He needs to win!

Ziegler – M. Ginsburg, Round 8. September 3, 1972.

 

 

Let’s see this nervous battle royale featuring the usual last round items of jitters, blunders, and incredible saves.

1. d4 Nf6 2. b3?! e6 3. Bb2 Bb4+ 4. c3 Be7 5. e3 b6 6. Qf3 Nc6 7. e4 Bb7 8. Bd3 e5?! 9. d5 Nb8 10. Nh3 Ba6 11. c4 Bb4+? 12. Nc3 d6 13. O-O Bc8 14. a3 Bxc3 15. Bxc3 Bxh3 16. Qxh3 Qd7 17. Qg3 Qg4 18. Qxg4 Nxg4 19. f3 Nf6 20. f4 Nbd7 21. b4 O-O 22. f5 Nh5 23. Bd2 h6 24. g4 Nhf6 25. g5 hxg5 26. Bxg5 Ne8?? Passive but playable is something like 26… a5 27. Kg2 Nh7 28. Bd2 Nhf6 29. Kf3 Kh7 30. Rg1 Rh8 31. h4 Kg8 32. Bg5 and the game toddles on.

27. Be7 Ooops! Oh no! Not to worry, I play on.

27…Ndf6 28. Rf3 g6 29. Kh1 Kg7 30. Bxf8+ Kxf8 31. fxg6 fxg6 32. Bc2 Kg7 33. Raf1 b5? It was losing anyways but this is crazy.

34. cxb5 Rd8 35. h4 Nh5 36. Rg1? The infilatration with 36. Rf7+ is simplest.

36… Nf4 37. Rfg3 Nf6 38. Rc3 Rd7 39. Re1 Kh6 40. Bd1 Rh7 41. Kh2 Ne8 42. Kg3 Kg7 43. Rh1 g5 44. h5 Kh6 45. Kf2 Nf6 46. Ke3 Inaccurate. Stronger is 46. Rc4.

46…N6xd5+? What the heck is this? Another crazy sacrifice from the kid. Last round nerves? Black had 46… Ng2+! 47. Kd3 Nf4+ 48. Kc2 Nxe4 49. Rc6 Rf7 50. Re1 Nf6 51. Ra6 g4 with some counterplay. This is the best black’s being doing in some time.

47. exd5 Nxd5+ 48. Kd2 Nxc3 49. Kxc3 d5 50. Rf1 The computer has white up by more than 4 points. It’s looking grim for my drawing hopes.

50…g4 51. Bxg4 Rg7 52. Rf6+ Kg5 53. Rg6+ Rxg6 54. hxg6 Kxg6 55. Bf3 d4+ 56. Kd3 Kf5 57. Bd5 Kf4 58. Be4 Kg4 59. Kc4 Kf4 60. Kd5 Ke3 61. Kxe5 d3 62. Bxd3 Kxd3 63. Kd5 Kc3 64. Kc6 Kc4 65. Kxc7?? The nice shot 65. b6!! wins. For example, 65…cxb6 (65…axb6 66. Kxc7 b5 67. Kc6) 66. b5 Kb3 67. Kb7 Ka4 68. Kxa7 Ka5 69. a4 and wins. Very good. The text draws!

65…Kxb5 66. Kb7 a5 1/2-1/2

And I win first place, a happy ending! I received $100, which in 1972 was a lot of money! I immediately bought a beautiful pearl-handled cap gun for $5 at the local Woolworth.

Not a good finale for Mr. Ziegler, who threw his pen.

 

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Caught Between Two Chess Clubs

September 17, 2007

This just in from the new US Chess Life website – an article titled “Fischer: Fame to Fallout” by Al Lawrence. I cite this paragraph where Bill Goichberg is quoted:

Running back-and-forth across the street to play in two tournaments at once

“At the peak, all kinds of people were going into the chess business,” Goichberg remembered. “Parlors, clubs, even full-time clubs were popping up in unlikely places, like Poughkeepsie. I used to hold a quad at the Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens. Some newcomer began holding tournaments at the same time at the YMCA across the street! One player entered both, running back and forth across the street to make moves in two games at once. I don’t think he did very well.” — Bill Goichberg

This is pretty funny because in the 1980s, it became a one-time practice (not a common practice, mind you, but definitely a viable option) to run/jog/walk fast between the Bar Point Club at 6th Avenue and 14th Street (amusingly and coincidentally, considering the above quote, Bill Goichberg was the Bar Point’s owner during one interval in the 1980s) and the venerable Marshall Chess Club at 23 West 10 Street. This was not a very short distance – in other words, it was inconvenient to jog between the two sites when several games were in progress.

In one such absurd situation, I was playing Robert Feldstein in a quad at the Bar Point in a fast time control game. Feldstein was enjoying a quarter pounder with cheese at the board, he was dead lost, and he was definitely not resigning. The complication here was (due to not-staggered-enough round times) that I was playing IM Walter Shipman at the same time, in a much slower time control game, at the Marshall Chess Club in a more “serious” masters tournament. In a feat of athletic stupidity, I started trotting between the two venues. Finally, Feldstein resigned a ridiculous position and I was able to make my final run back to the Shipman game, panting and sweaty. I was able to settle down and play Walter ‘heads-up’ successfully in a long ending. I don’t think the Marshall saw anything so ridiculous until the statue of Marshall’s head disappeared (temporarily) a year later.

I never tried this stunt again. But it seems like something a young Fischer would have done if he was … caught between two chess clubs. Am I right?

Everybody sing now:

Caught between two chess clubs,

Feelin’ like a fool,

Cuz playing 2 simultaneous chess games,

Is breakin’ sportsmanlike rules!


The Classic 80s Part 3: Manhattan Chess Club

July 16, 2007

In the mid-1980’s, The Manhattan Chess Club had a fabulous location on the 10th floor of Carnegie Hall, at 57th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan (I believe the MCC that Bobby Fischer frequented was at a different eastside location). Across the street was “Merit Farms”, where hungry chess players would get sandwiches and what not. Steve Immitt called it “Merit Clowns.” There was even a bathtub on the 11th floor that the players could use; an unheard of luxury for a chess club. Some players took the nice location too far and actually started living in the club. A creeping seediness gummed up the works and, coupled with the rent increase, the MCC had to move to the far west site (9th avenue in the 40s) where it, sadly, did not last.  I refer the readers to a newer post where I am trying to establish a who’s who of MCC champions over the years.

Here’s a photo of me circa 1983, with the famous old Manhattan CC soda machine.  Facial hair is fun but it’s unclear how it affects one’s play. Maybe we should ask Levon Aronian about this. I heard from a reader that in 1983, the MCC was actually at another east-side location (not yet Carnegie Hall).  Can anyone confirm the 1983 location?

beard1.jpg

1983:  Where exactly was the MCC? 

Every year the MCC Championship was a banner event attracting many strong players. Over the years, such luminaries as Bobby Fischer, Joel Benjamin, Robert Byrne, and other GMs have won it. I managed to do the trick twice, in 1988 and 1990.

First let’s look at a 1983 tussle featuring an unusual opening which has its merits and is quite good to get booked up players out of book.
Joel Benjamin vs Mark Ginsburg
Manhattan Chess Club Championship, 1983

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 e4!? 5. Ng5 Bf5 6. g4 Bxg4 7. Bg2 Nc6!? 7…Nbd7 is also playable here. See Alburt-Ginsburg, Lone Pine 1980. In general, I think this line is underrated for black as active piece play is achievable.

8. Ngxe4 Be7 9. b3?! 9. Be3, 9. Rg1, and even 9. Nd5!? are more to the point.

9…Nxe4 10. Nxe4 O-O 11. Bb2 f5! A natural space-gaining move. The position is now very sharp and unclear.

12. Ng3?! Tempting black into a strong advance. 12. Nc3 looks safer.


Benjamin1

Position after 12. Ng3.  Black is tempted into the bum’s rush. 

12… f4 A logical follow-up. Black now has a small edge.

13. Ne4 d5! Correct. White’s center is splintered.

14. cxd5 Nb4 15. d6 Bxd6 16. d5 Qe7 17. a3 Bf5 18. Nxd6


Benjamin2

Position after 18. Nxd6.  Two good moves, but only allowed to pick one. 

18… Nc2+!? The obvious 18…Nd3+ is tempting and strong but after 19. Kd2! (19. Kf1?? loses horribly to the crushing blow 19…f3! 20. exf3 (20. Bxf3? Bh3+ 21. Bg2 Rxf2+) Qxd6 and white is paralyzed.) white stays afloat. Note that 19…Nxb2 20. Nxf5! Rxf5 21. Qc1 is good for white. Black should continue 19…Nxf2! 20. Nxf5 Rxf5 and after the best moves 21. Qe1! Qg5! black has some edge. The text is also good for some advantage.

19. Kf1 Qxd6 20. Rc1 f3! Black finds the key resource.  Another splintering motif to go with the earlier 13…d5!; quite a field day for these brave pawns.

21. exf3 Qa6+?! Here is where things start to slip slowly away. Black had the much stronger craven capture 21…Nxa3! and the knight can extricate via b5. After 22. Qd4 Rf7 23. Qc5 Qxc5 24. Rxc5 Nc2 the knight can dance out another way and black has a decisive edge – white’s structure is ruined.

22. Kg1 Rae8 Black, of course, still has a big edge here.

Benjamin3

Position after 22…Rae8.  How can black contrive to lose this? 

23. Qd2 Qg6? The text is terrible and white gets tempi to unravel. 23…Rf7! is much stronger. For example, 23…Rf7 24. h3 Re2 25. Qg5 Qb6! hitting f2 and wins. or 23…Rf7 24. Qc3 Nxa3! (g7 is guarded!) and black again has every chance to win.

24. h4! Of course! For the first time in many moves, white gets breathing room and it is now black that has uncoordinated pieces. The (smallish) advantage now sits with white.

21…Bd3? Another weak move. 21…h5! was necessary and white’s edge is manageable.

25. h5 Qf5 26. Rh4 26. Rh3 was also very strong.

26…Re2 27. Qc3 Qf6 28. Qxf6?! The brute-force 28. Bf1 wins for white. 28…Rxf2 29. Qxf6 Rxf1+ 30. Rxf1 gxf6 leads to a technically lost ending.

28…gxf6 29. Bf1 The clever 29. Rg4+ Kf7 30. h6! was stronger here.

29…Re1 30. Rg4+ Kf7 31. Rxe1 Nxe1 32. Bxd3 Nxd3 33. Bc3 Black still has a bad game but there are glimmers of hope here and there.

33…Rg8 33…Rd8! 34. Rc4 Rxd5! playing for activity was a better bet. For example, 35. Rxc7+ Ke6 36. Rxh7 Nf4! keeping fighting chances.

34. Rxg8 Kxg8 35. Bd2 Now white has a classic better minor piece advantage.

35…Kf7 36. Kf1 Nc5 37. b4 Nd7 38. Bf4 Nb6 39. Bxc7 Nxd5 40. Bb8 a6 41. Ke2 Ke6 41…f5 putting a pawn on white and gaining space was better.

42. Kd3 Ne7? Black misses a clever defense: 42…b5! 43. Kd4 Nb6! preventing Kc5 due to the knight fork on d7. Then, 44. Bf4 Nd7 and black for the moment has built a defensive wall preventing the white king from getting in.

Benjamin4

Position after 42…Ne7.  Things are going wrong in slow-motion.

43. Bg3 Nf5 44. Kc4 Kd7 45. Kd5 Ng7 46. h6 Nf5 47. Bf4 Ne7+ Black should have at least tried 47…Nh4.

48. Kc5 Ng6 49. Be3 Ne5 50. Bd4 Nf7 51. Be3 51. Bxh6! Nxh6 52. a4 is strong.

51…Ne5 52. Bd4 Nf7 53. Bxf6! White finds the correct way to unbalance the game and make the B vs N duel more lopsided.

53…Nxh6 54. Kd5 Nf7 55. f4 b5 56. Bh4


Benjamin5

Position after 56. Bh4.  Last straw coming. 

56… h5? A terrible move. Black has to sit tight with 56…Nd6! and pray. The following variation demonstrates black still has chances: 56…Nd6 57. f3 h5 58. Ke5 Nc4+ 59. Kf6 Nd2! 60. Kg6 Nxf3 61. Kxh5 Ke6! 62. Kg4 Nh2+!, holding the position.

57. f5 Nh6 Now it’s too late for 57…Nd6 58. Ke5! (58. f6 also wins). The rest is a set of meaningless moves, black is totally lost.

58. Ke5 Ke8 59. Kf6 Nf7 60. Kg6 Ne5+ 61. Kg7 Nf7 62. Bg3 Nd8 63. f3 Nc6 64. f6 Nd8 65. Kg6 Kf8 66. Bc7 Nb7 67. f7 1-0

An exceptionally poorly played middlegame, tossing away a won game, and then a poorly played ending as well. These two things usually add up to a loss. But note the nice opening!

Moving ahead two years to 1985, here is a happier memory. A brilliancy prize game played vs Dr. Neil McKelvie, a Chemistry Professor at CCNY in 1985. I believe Neil was one of the directors of the club in this era. I didn’t do particuarly well in the 1985 incarnation, but at least I got some jollies in this slugfest.

Mark Ginsburg vs NM Dr. Neil McKelvie
Manhattan Chess Club Championship, 1985

Queens Gambit Declined

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. b3 b6 9. Bb2 Bb7 10. Qe2 dxc4?! It doesn’t look right to concede the center so quickly.

11. bxc4 c5 12. Rad1 cxd4 13. exd4


McKelvie1

13… Qb8 Black wants to transfer his queen to the strong f4 square. White rushes to prevent that.

14. Ne5! Rd8 15. f4! White’s initiative is quite menacing. Black hurries to erect defensive structures and it’s up to white to break them down.

15…g6 16. Kh1 Bf8 17. d5! exd5 18. cxd5 Re8


McKelvie2

19. d6! A very nice clearance to get to black’s king.

19…Bxd6 20. Nb5 Bc5 21. Bc4! Focusing on the f7 point. White’s position is now winning but some further line-opening sacrifices are needed.


McKelvie3

21… Re7 22. Bxf7+! Rxf7 23. Nxf7 Kxf7 24. f5!

Attacking players find all these moves easily. Black’s king position is completely ripped apart and he has no defense.

25…Qe8 25. Qc4+ Kf8 26. Rxd7! Qxd7 27. fxg6! Everything is with gain of time; when an attacking game flows smoothly it’s a lot of fun to play.

27…Qd5


McKelvie4

It was resignable here. White proceeds to capture most of black’s pieces.

28. Rxf6+ Ke7 29. Rf7+ Kd8 30. Bf6+ Kc8 31. Qg4+ Kb8 32. Qg3+ Bd6 33. Rf8+ Bc8 34. Qxd6+ 1-0

A most enjoyable game.

Here’s another tough tangle from the ’85 event versus a former US Championship participant and USA representative in the Chess Olympiad, George M. Kramer.

According to ChessBase, Mr. Kramer’s middle name is Mortimer (a good trivia question?). He has been active in top chess for many decades; his career has games vs GMs Fine, Najdorf, etc. Here’s a 10 move win of his(!) vs. American NM Weaver Adams, US Open 1946, Pittsburgh. Kramer was black in the W. Adams win, and his opponent had authored one of the typical weak self-help books you see in bookstores, “White to Play and Win.” Heh. Kramer played in numerous US Championships; here’s a feeble loss to Bobby Fischer in the 1957 event and to even things out a win over Letelier in the World Chess Olympiad, Dubrovnik, 1950. I see at chessgames.com he also played in the Munich 1958 and Varna 1962 Olympiads.

NM George M. Kramer – IM Mark Ginsburg

MCC Ch 1985, Round 5

King’s Indian Defense

 

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. e4 A totally different way is steering play for the Old Indian with 5. Bg5! Be7 6. e3 O-O 7. Qc2 exd4 8. Nxd4 (8. exd4 h6 9. Bh4 d5 10. c5 c6 is OK for Black) 8… h6 9. Bh4 Ne5 10. O-O-O Re8 and we reach a well-known book position with a small edge for white.

5… g6 6. Be2 Bg7 7. O-O O-O 8. Be3 h6 An interesting move to gauge white’s intentions.

Kramer1

9. Ne1 9. dxe5 is my personal preference; after 9…dxe5 10. Qc1! Kh7 (10… Ng4? 11. Bd2 Kh7 12. Ng5+! hxg5 13. Bxg4 with a big edge to white) 11. Rd1 and white is a bit better.

9… exd4 10. Bxd4 Re8 Playable is 10… Ne5 11. Nc2 Re8 12. f3 Be6 13. b3 Nc6 14. Be3 Nd7 15. Qd2 Qh4 16. Rad1 Rac8 17. Nd5 Kh7 and black fights on.

11. f3 c6 Black can try 11… Ne5 12. Nd5 a6 13. Qd2 Bd7 14. Rd1 Nxd5 15. cxd5 Bb5.

12. Qd2 Ne5 13. Rd1 Be6 14. b3 g5 Rather unsolid. More usual would be 14… Qa5 15. Nc2 Rad8 16. f4 c5 17. Bf2 Nc6 18. Bh4 Nd4 19. Bd3 Nxc2 20. Qxc2 Bg4 21. Rde1 Rb8 22. Nb5 Qb6 23. Qf2 with some white edge.

15. Be3?! A better alternative here is 15. Nc2!? ganging up on d6. 15. Qe3 is another chance.

15… Qa5 16. Nc2 Nh5! 17. Na4 Qxd2 18. Rxd2 Nf4! Black is OK now, the pawn sacrifice on d6 is fully justified.

19. Bxf4 gxf4 20. Rxd6

Kramer2

20…a6? Quite a feeble move for several reasons. 20… Rad8! is clearly good. It’s unusual in the sense that black, behind material, actually does want to trade here. 21. Rfd1 (Offering nothing is 21. Rxd8 Rxd8 22. Rd1 Rxd1+ 23. Bxd1 Nd7 24. Be2 f5! with full compensation for the pawn; however it is drawish and black really has no winning chances.} 25. Kf2 Kf7 26. g3 Be5 27. gxf4 Bxf4 with approximate equality.

21. Rd2 White is simply better after this slow move, but he also had 21. c5! This move appears to lose the c5-pawn, but white has a nice counter-tactic. 21..Bf8 22. Rd4 Nd7 23. Rfd1! Nxc5 (23… Bxc5 24. Nxc5 Nxc5 25. Rd6 a5 26. Nd4) 24. Nb6! (an unexpected trapping of the knight on c5. 24… Rab8 25. b4 a5 26. bxc5 Bxc5 27. Nc4 Red8 28. Kf1 Bxd4 29. Rxd4 with a big plus.

21… Bf8 Here, white has a stable and comfortable edge. But look what happens!

22. g3!? Methodical. White clears the way for the f3 pawn to advance. I would prefer the simpler 22.Rfd1 with a big plus.

22… fxg3 23. f4?? A gross tactical blunder. 23. hxg3 b5 24. Nb2! leaves white on top. For example, 24…Bg7 25. Ne3! guarding the N/b2 against possible discovered attacks.

Kramer3

23… gxh2+ 24. Kg2 Rad8! White must have overlooked this simple tactic. The position has been opened up for the two bishops and white collapses.

25. Rfd1 25. Rd4 Ng4 or 25…Bg4 both win for black.

25… Rxd2 26. Rxd2 Ng6! A very simple solution. White’s once proud, solid position is a structural ruin.

27. Kxh2 27. f5 is a slightly better try but still white winds up in a lost ending after an elementary tactical blow: 27…Bxf5! 28. exf5 Rxe2+ (28… Nf4+29. Kxh2 Rxe2+ 30. Rxe2 Nxe2 transposes) 29. Rxe2 Nf4+ 30. Kxh2 Nxe2 31. Kg2 Bd6 32. Kf3 Nc1 33. Nc3 Be5 34. Ne4 Nxa2 35. Nc5 Nc1 36. Nxb7 Nxb3 37. Nb4 Nd2+ 38. Ke2 Nxc4 39. Nxa6 Bb2 40. Nb4 Ne5 and black wins.

27… Nxf4 With the rooks still on, black has a crushing position with the bishop pair and an extra pawn.

28. Bf3 Ng6 29. Ne3 b5 30. Nb2 Bb4 31. Rd1 Ne5 32. Bh5 From now on, black has his choice of wins.

32…Kh7 33. Nd3 Bd6 34. Nxe5 Bxe5+ 35. Kg2 Bf4 35… Rg8+ 36. Kf2 Rg5 37. Bf3 Kg6 also wins very easily.

36. Kf3

Kramer4

36…Bxe3! One of the great advantages of the bishop pair, as GM Yefim Geller observed, is that one of them can be traded at the right time for positional or material gains. And the right time might last for a very long time. This is a good example, it is time to lose the bishop pair to aim for an easily won and simplified ending.

37. Kxe3 bxc4 38. b4 Rb8 38… Bd5! exploiting the pin is a very simple win.

39. a3 a5 40. Rb1 Of no help is 40. bxa5 Rb3+ 41. Kd4 Rxa3.

40…axb4 41. axb4 Rb5! The threat of …c6-c5 is very convincing so white resigned.

0-1

 

Let’s jump ahead to the end of the 1980s for a nice ‘gamelet’ vs NM Maxim Berlyant, refuting his particular interpretation of the Snake Benoni.

Mark Ginsburg vs Maxim Berlyant
Manhattan Chess Club, 1989

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 Bd6?  Not good after 3. Nc3; playable after 3. Nf3.  I took great pains to explain this to IM John Watson and I’m still not sure he understands, because he didn’t at the time (judging from his confused reaction and initial statement that the Snake was equivalent after 3. Nc3 and 3. Nf3).


Berlyant1

6. g3! Bc7 7. d6!  This is a complete refutation. Since white has not committed his KN to f3 yet, it can go to h3 to f4 to d5.  That is the key differentiator. Black is paralyzed by the d6 pawn wedge.

6…Ba5 8. Bg2 O-O 9. Nh3 Qb6 10. O-O Ne8  An abject retreat signals black’s desperate condition.


Berlyant2

11. Nd5 Qd8 12. Qc2 Na6 13. Ng5 Everything with gain of time. It’s not usual that a master is reduced to such helplessness after a handful of moves.

13…g6 14. Ne4 Bb6 15. Bh6

A very brutal finale.  Black has no defense.


Berlyant3

1-0

This snake was squashed.

 

 

 

Watch this spot; I will post other MCC Championship tangles versus Dlugy, Benjamin, Schroer, Zuckerman, Shirazi, Cooke, and more.