Posts Tagged ‘John Henderson’

The Fabulous 00s: Lars Bo Hansen appears on Chess.FM

November 4, 2008

A Danish Appearance

I just got a broadcast e-mail from John Henderson.  Danish Grandmaster Lars Bo Hansen is going to appear on John Watson’s Chess.FM Show.   A propos of Denmark, that’s where Shakespeare’s play Hamlet took place.  A quick refresher:

The protagonist of Hamlet is Prince Hamlet of Denmark, son of the recently deceased King Hamlet. After the death of King Hamlet, his brother, Claudius hastily marries King Hamlet’s widow, Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother. In the background is Denmark’s long-standing feud with neighbouring Norway, and an invasion led by the Norwegian prince, Fortinbras, is expected.

The play opens on a cold night at Elsinore, the Danish royal castle. The sentinels try to persuade Hamlet’s friend Horatio that they have seen King Hamlet’s ghost, when it appears again. After hearing from Horatio of the Ghost’s appearance, Hamlet resolves to see the Ghost himself. That night, the Ghost appears to Hamlet. He tells Hamlet that he is the spirit of his father, and discloses that Claudius murdered King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ears. The Ghost demands that Hamlet avenge him; Hamlet agrees and decides to fake madness to avert suspicion. He is, however, uncertain of the Ghost’s reliability.

Busy with affairs of state, Claudius and Gertrude try to avert an invasion by Prince Fortinbras of Norway. Perturbed by Hamlet’s continuing deep mourning for his father and his increasingly erratic behaviour, they send two student friends of his—Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—to discover the cause of Hamlet’s changed behaviour. Hamlet greets his friends warmly, but quickly discerns that they have turned against him.

Polonius is Claudius’ trusted chief counsellor; his son, Laertes, is returning to France, and his daughter, Ophelia, is courted by Hamlet. Neither Polonius nor Laertes thinks Hamlet is serious about Ophelia, and they both warn her off. Shortly afterwards, Ophelia is alarmed by Hamlet’s strange behaviour and reports to her father that Hamlet rushed into her room but stared at her and said nothing. Polonius assumes that the “ecstasy of love”[7] is responsible for Hamlet’s madness, and he informs Claudius and Gertrude. Later, in the so-called Nunnery Scene, Hamlet rants at Ophelia, and insists she go “to a nunnery“.


A Dane Appears circa 2008

Going back to 1989, here is Lars Bo competing in the 1989 Berlin Summer Open (Joel Benjamin and I also made the foray to Berlin; this was just before the Berlin Wall came down!).


Lars Bo Hansen, Berlin, West Germany (American Sektor), 1989

What else is notable about this Chess.FM event?  Well, first of all, (and this is not widely known), John Watson was once a partyer.  What else is notable?  Lars Bo Hansen had a life as an IM before he was a GM!  Here he is as an IM battling yours truly in a provincial Danish town back in the day.

Mark Ginsburg vs Lars Bo Hansen (DEN)
Naestved Open, 1988

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 e6 4. e3 Be7 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bd3 Nc6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Bf6?! I don’t trust this variation for black; it looks too passive.

11. Be4 Nce7 12. Ne5 12. Qd3 is very popular in the database as well.

12…g6 Now if 12…Nc6?! 13. Qd3 and white has scored well.  White has to play very concretely now to compensate for his isolated queen pawn.


Position after 12…g6

13. Bh6 Bg7 14. Qd2 The main line in the databases is 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15. Qf3. However, 15. Qd2! is dangerous for black (planning Rac1 and also sometimes h2-h4).   For example, 15. Qd2 b6 16. Rac1 Bb7 17. f3!? and white retains some pressure. The move in the game also has these dark square ideas.

14…Nf6 15. Bc2 It’s not clear how much of an edge 15. Bxg7 Nxe4!? 16. Nxe4 Kxg7 17. Rac1 Nd5 will be.  In addition, black can try 17…b6 18. Rc3!? Bb7! 19. Rh3 h5! (and not 18…Nf5? 19. g4!).  The kind of thing black does not want is instructive: 15. Bxg7 Kxg7? 16. Bf3! Ned5 17. Rac1 b6 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5! (19. Ng4? occurred in a minor-league game) 19…Qxd5? 20. Rc7! Qxa2 21. Ng4! and wins.  Or, 19…exd5 and white is comfortably better with the superior minor piece.  Nigel Short won a game recently with this kind of advantageous structural transformation.

15…b6 16. Rad1 16. Bxg7 looks more to the point.

16…Bb7 17. Bb3 Ned5 18. Bg5 A small change of mind but white retains some initiative.

18…Nxc3 18…Rc8 is more careful.

19. bxc3


Position after 19. bxc3

19… Qc8 20. Qd3 Qc7 An interesting moment.  If 20…Nd7 21. Nxf7!? is possible. 21…Rxf7 22. Bxe6 Qf8 23. Re3 Kh8 24. Bxf7 Qxf7 25. Re7 Qd5 26. Qh3 and in this scary situation, 26…Bc6! defends (but not 26…Qxg5?? 27. Rxg7! and wins).  25. c4!? is also possible in this line.  Black’s careful move avoids this possibility.

21. c4?! Correct is 21. f3 first.  21. f3 Rac8 22. c4 Ba6 23. Rc1 with a small edge.

21…Nd7! Now the b3-f7 diagonal is blocked off and black doesn’t have to worry.

22. Nxd7 22. Ng4 is met by the simple 22..h5! 23. Ne3 Rfe8! with excellent play.  Black is fine.

22…Qxd7 23. Qh3 23. d5 e5 is about equal.

23…b5! A well-timed bid for counterplay.

24. d5! This aggressive counter looks very good at first sight, but black can defend adequately.

24…bxc4 25. dxe6


Position after 25. dxe6.  Black to play and draw.

25… Qb5! 26. Be7 cxb3 27. Bxf8 Rxf8 28. e7 Re8 29. Rd8! Brief fireworks have broken out, but equilibrium is quickly reached.


Position after 29. Rd8

29… bxa2 30. Qb3! It is kind of cool to be able to hang one’s queen on purpose, but after black’s next white has nothing better than to steer for the draw.

30…Bc6! It was too much to hope for black to fall into the elementary tactical trap 30…Qc6?? 31. Qxb7 winning.

31. Rxe8+ Bxe8 32. Qxb5 Bxb5 33. e8=Q+ Bxe8 34. Rxe8+ Bf8 35. Re1 Bg7 And it’s a draw by repetition. A very interesting game! I had the distinct sense I was playing a Danish version of solid American GM Yasser Seirawan.


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!

The Fabulous 90s and 00s: US Championship Photos and More from John Henderson

February 8, 2008

Here are some good photos from John Henderson‘s photo gallery from various US Championships.

First we have GM Yasser Seirawan from the 1994 version.


Yasser Seirawan, 1994


Yelena Gorlin, US Championship, year = ?


Elena Groberman, US Championship, year = ?

And now, a brief departure from US Championships – just because he’s a cool player – we present GM Valery Salov! Salov is known for his frothy political writings, but he has played many impressive and sharp games in his chess career. I am not sure where this picture was taken.


GM Valery Salov, at some point in the 1990s (?)


Nick De Firmian with a Fischeresque outfit, US Championship, 1990s (?)


NM Jennie Frenklakh, US Championship, 1998.  Another photo here.


 Future GM Tal Shaked, US Championship 199x (?)