Posts Tagged ‘Neil McKelvie’

The Fabulous 60s: Dr. Neil McKelvie on Arnold Denker

June 13, 2008

MG Note: This guest article by Dr. Neil McKelvie, long-time MCC official and Professor of Chemistry at CCNY, was originally a comment on my 1989 Manhattan Chess Club Championship post.

McKelvie-Denker : Lasker-esque Psychology

Here from memory – is a wild game by me vs. Arnold Denker, against whom I had a plus score of 3-2 (FURIOUSLY denied by Arnold, until I provided the details! He didn’t like to lose!)

Manhattan championship – year??
Neil McKelvie – Arnold Denker
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4.N:d4 a6 5. Nc3 Qc7
6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 MG Note: We now know 7. Nxc6!

7…Nf6 8. Qe2(?) Bd6 9. g3??!
This is a truly awful move – but played deliberately! Denker, as I knew from long experience, was prone to overconfidence, and this made him smile happily! (A real Patzer move!!) White’s white-sqiare weakness will be very bad. MG: This was a typical Emmanuel Lasker ploy! In this case, the move isn’t *that* bad.


Position after the “lemon” 9. g3 (It isn’t that bad)

9…N:d4 10.B:d4 e5 11.Be3 Bb4 12.O-O! B:c3 13 bc O-O? (…d6! and White has a miserable position)

14, Bg5 Qc6 15. f4 ef! 16. e5 f3!

Position after 16…f3!? Both sides are swinging for the fences.

Addendum by McKelvie 4/9/09:
“After Denker’s f3….I “should” have taken on f3 with my Queen! Then …Q:f3 is forced, I think; R:f3; if then …Ng4; Be7 Re8; Bd6 N:e5; Re3 f6; Bc4 Kh8; Bf7  wins the exchange, right? Other lines; White seems to have a “winning: game, with two B’s and a B position suffering from acute constipation!
Cheers – Neil McKelvie”

17 R:f3 Ng4
Thinking that the W e-pawn will be lost…..

18.Be7 Re8 19.Bd6
Denker intended 19…N:e5 20 B:e5 d6, but then looked, and saw 21. B:h7+
IF 21…K:h7 22, Qd3+ Kg8? 23. B:g7! K:g7 24. R:f7+! K:f7 and White wins in all variations. This would not work without Black’s 4…a6 and 14…..Qc6, because one variation is 24 Qh7+ Ke6 25.Re1+ Kd5 26. Qd3+ Kc5 27. Qd4+ Kb5 28. Qb4++
However; B should play 22…f5. 23. R+f5 can lead to a draw by perpetual check, but no more. I planned 23. Bd4. Denker thought this was bad for him, at least cosmetically, but his W. Bishop is equally frightening. Maybe both sides are losing! I haven’t had the nerve to give this position to a computer.

Denker played, after L O N G thought, 19……b5? (Why do so many long thinks lead to chessic mental paralysis and a blunder?)
20.Qe4! Q:e4 21.B:e4 Ra722.Bd5 Nh6 23.Raf1

Position after 23. Raf1.  Denker is Toast.

23…Re6 (threat was 24 R:f7!)
24.B:e6 de 25.c4 bc 26.Rc3 Bd7 27.Rb1 f5 28.Bb8 Ra8 29.R:c4 Nf7 30.Rb7 Nd8 31.R:d7 R:b8 32.Rcc7 Resigns 1-0
————————————————–

Denker, Club Member X, Organic Chemistry, and a Playboy Bunny

Finally, a very funny Manhattan Chess Club story, again involving Denker.

Year: 1966 or 1967? A young lady appeared in my Organic Chemistry lecture (”J.” ;) She had worked as a Bunny in the Playboy Club, and had adopted that style of dressing, minus the ears, for everyday use, It wasn’t exactly usual then to see a young blonde lady wearing a see-through blouse and no underwear, and very short shorts. Of course, *I* received full voltage! (She asked another girl, since this didn’t seem to work, “Is he Gay?” “No; he has a young and very pretty wife! You are wasting your time!)

So, she got friendly with one of my PhD students, who was doing the exam grading. She said to me, “David tells me you are a chess master”. “Yes.” “David has been teaching me to play” (??!!) “Can I see you play Chess?”

Inspiration! Denker had a keen appreciation of the ladies. “Can you come to the Manhattan Chess Club in the Henry Hudson Hotel this Sunday at 2 pm? I’m playing former US Champion Arnold Denker. However, please stand behind me when I’m playing so that I don’t get distracted!” “I can come, but I’ll be dressed for a date. Won’t this be too much for a Chess Club” (If they are playing Chess, they’ll never notice you!!”

Denker sat up in his chair and his eyes goggled. Shortly after, he made a mistake, and I was a pawn up with a good position. At this point Club Member X came in. He had listed his non-Chess occupation as “sex consultant” (I assume this could have meant “pimp” but I kept my
thoughts to myself… ;) He saw me talking to “J”. “Is she a friend of yours?” “Not exactly; she is a student in my class,” (Is it OK if I talk to her?” “None of my business, but she is with her date.”

10 minutes later… “J” was playing with her date, with our hero Club Member X practically draped over her. I was so fascinated by the human drama going on behind me that *I* blundered!!
Eventually Denker won.
Next day. “J”: “I don’t think I like Chess that much. Who was that creep?”

Next Sunday’s round, our hero “X” gave me his business card.
“Can you give this to that very lovely young lady? I think I could really teach her a lot!!”

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The Fabulous 1980s: The 1989 Manhattan CC Championship

January 14, 2008

In 1989 I played in the Manhattan Chess Club Championship at Carnegie Hall on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Although I won the 1988 and 1990 events, this 1989 version really escapes my memory, even when I look at the game scores.

Reader query: I cannot locate a list of the champions by year! I could only locate this somewhat anemic “history” of the MCC. Does anyone have access to such a list? See the bottom of this post for my highly incomplete reconstruction. Has the venerable club really fallen into such depths of paucity? Note on February 14th: Nick Conticello has risen to the occasion and is locating this list of champs 1883-1997 (originally compiled by Walter Shipman) – see comments.

3/14/08: Here’s Nick’s PDF file converted to an image: (click several times on the image to enlarge). I would like to see LOCATIONS too! (The MCC moves around a lot). Probably the MCC had some more champs after 1997, readers? (This list was compiled in 1997, but I don’t think the club was totally defunct yet).

mcc_champs.jpg

MCC Champs 1883-1997. List compiled by IM Walter Shipman. Source: Nick Conticello.

In the third round I played New York personality Charlie Weldon. Charlie unfortunately died in 1993 while traveling in Yugoslavia (I believe of acute appendicitis) and here is his Wikipedia entry. I actually learned of his death by reading a clipping in the Village Chess Shop in Greenwich Village, NYC.

Charles Weldon (born 1939 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – died of peritonitis in 1993 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia) was a chess master and professor of computer science at City University of New York.

Weldon was a three-time Wisconsin State Chess Champion, and swept all his games at the US Amateur Chess Championship. He is listed as a life member with the United States Chess Federation. He was known for playing the Schliemann Defense.

Now let’s see the game.

Charlie Weldon [2398] – IM Mark Ginsburg, Manhattan CC Champ. 1989, Round 3.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O Nbd7 7. Nc3 a6!? I like this move, the poor man’s Panno (since the N is on d7, not c6). 8. e4 c5 9. h3 None other than future-WC Anatoly Karpov suffered a famous reverse, losing to Andras Adorjan, with 9. Re1 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. h3 Bd7 12. Be3 Rc8 13. Rc1 Qa5 14. a3 Na4 15. b4 Nxc3 16. Rxc3 Qa4 17. Qb1 Rc7 18. Rec1 Rfc8 19. Qd3 Be8 20. Bf3 Nd7 21. Bd1 Ne5 22. Qf1 Qd7 23. c5 b5 24. Bb3 dxc5 25. Rxc5 Rxc5 26. bxc5 Nc4 27. Bxc4 Bxd4 28. Rd1 e5 29. Bxd4 exd4 30. Bd5 Rxc5 31. Rxd4 Qc8 32. h4 Rc2 33. e5 Qc3 34. Rd3 Qxe5 35. Qg2 Kg7 36. Qf3 Qe1+ 37. Kg2 Rc1 38. g4 Qh1+ 39. Kg3 Rg1+ 40. Kf4 Qh2+ 41. Ke4 Qxh4 and white gave up, 0-1 Karpov,A-Adorjan,A/Hungary 1969. See the book “Black is OK!” by Adorjan for more details on that game. Also 9. e5 dxe5 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. e6 fxe6 12. Qe2 Nde5 gives a tiny edge at best.

9… cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. Be3 Bd7 12. Qe2 Black is fine after 12. b4?! Ne6.

12…Rc8 Playable here is 12… Na4 13. Nxa4 Bxa4 14. Rac1 Rc8 15. b4 Bd7 and black went on to win a long maneuvering game, Cacho Reigadas,S (2200)-Garcia,A (2335)/Lleida 1991.

13. Rfd1 (0:23)

weld1.png

Position after 13. Rfd1: Black is OK!

13…Qa5?! The moves 13…h5 or 13…Qc7 are both more logical. The white move b2-b4 is not especially fearsome and does not have to be prevented. For example, 13…h5 14. b4 Na4! 15. Nxa4 Bxa4 or 13…Qc7 14. Rac1 Rfe8 15. b4 Na4 in both cases with a complicated game.

14. Rab1?! White had the strong 14. Nb3! here with a distinct edge.

14…Na4 (0:21) 15. Nxa4 Bxa4 16. b3 Bd7 17. a4 Rfd8 18. Qd2 Qc7 19. a5 Be8 20. Ne2 Qb8 21. Bb6 Rd7 22. f3 22. Nc3 is more natural.

22…e6 23. f4 (0:44) d5? (1:10) I don’t know what I was thinking, but this move simply does not work. I should just wait.

24. cxd5 exd5 25. e5? Why this? Although white keeps a small edge, he should grab the free pawn: 25. exd5 Bf8 26. Rbc1 and black has no compensation.

25… Ne4 (1:11) 26. Qe3 The strongest is 26. Qb2.

26… f5 27. exf6?! Another miscue. White should play 27. Rd3 Bf7 28. Nc3 Be6 29. Rbd1 and this is good for him.

27… Bxf6 28. Bd4 [0:48] Qd6 29. Rbc1 White can play for equality here with 29. Bxe4 dxe4 30. Kh2 Rf7 31. Nc3 Bxd4 32. Rxd4.

29… Rxc1 30. Rxc1 Re7 (1:31) 31. Bxf6 Qxf6

weld21.png

Position after 31…Qxf6: Tense Equilibrium

32. Qb6?? Charlie, rushing for no reason (only 60 minutes elapsed in a 40/2 game) blunders badly. The not very obvious 32. Nc3! Bc6 33. Nxe4 dxe4 34. Rd1 Kg7 is about equal. He should have taken time here and found that clever defense. 32. Bxe4 Rxe4 33. Qd2 is another “OK” line for white but it looks risky to give up the fianchettoed bishop.

32… Qb2! [1:48] White cannot handle this infiltration. Black wins in all lines.

33. Bf3 (1:05) The alternative 33. Qe3 is slightly tougher, but after 33…Bc6 34. Rf1 Qd2! 35. Rf3 Qxa5 black wins.

33… Nxg3! A standard overloading tactic. 34. Bxd5+ Kf8 35. Nxg3 Qxc1+ 36. Kg2 Qd2+ 0-1

My results so far:

Round 1- 1/2 pt. bye

Round 2 1-0 Larry Tamarkin

Round 3 1-0 Charlie Weldon

Round 4 1/2 B. Zuckerman

Now I will present

Round 5 (1/2 vs. Michael Rohde) and Round 6 (1-0 vs James Schuyler).

Author’s note 3/15/08: According the Nick Conticello’s champion list (see above), Michael Rohde won the 1989 event!

Round 5, MCC Ch. M. Ginsburg – GM M. Rohde (2540).

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 Be6 7. d3 c6 8. a3 Ba5 9. O-O h6 10. b4 Bb6 11. Bb2 Qd7 12. Rc1 Bh3 13. Na4 Bd8

rohde_bd8.png

Position after 13…Bd8: I have nothing and quickly get less.

14. Qd2 a5 15. c5 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 axb4 17. Qxb4 b5 18. Nb6 Bxb6 19. cxb6 c5 My play has made very little sense and black logically builds up a big positional edge. 20. Qb3 Qc6 21. f4 Nbd7 22. fxe5 dxe5 23. Nc3 Ra5 24. Nd1 Qxb6 25. Ne3 Qe6 26. Qc2 Ra4 27. Nf5 c4 28. dxc4 Rxc4 29. Qd3

rohde_qd32.png

Position after 29. Qd3: I am toast.

29…Nc5 Here, 29… Rfc8 is crushing. From here on out, black (perhaps out of tiredness) misses a bunch of wins and finally white manages to hold a rook ending.

30. Qd6 Rxc1 31. Rxc1 Nfxe4 32. Ne7+ Kh7 33. Qxe6 fxe6 34. Rc2 Nd3 35. Re2 Ng5 Here, a nice win is 35… Rf2+ 36. Rxf2 Nexf2 37. Bxe5 Nxe5 38. Kxf2 Nc4 39. Ke2 Nxa3 40. Kd3 Nc4 41. Kc3 Ne3 42. Kb4 Nf1 and white can resign.

36. h4 Nf3 37. Bc3 Nd4 38. Re3 Rf7 The clever tactic 38… Rf2+! 39. Kh3 Ne2! sets up a mate threat and wins: 40. Rxd3 h5 41. Rd1 Nxc3 42. Ra1 e4 and it’s all over.

39. Rxd3 Rxe7 40. h5 Rc7 It’s getting harder, but 40…Rd7 41. Re3 Rd5 42. Kf2 Nc2 43. Rxe5 Rxe5 44. Bxe5 Nxa3 45. Bc3 Nc4 seems to do the trick; black should win.

41. Bxd4 Rd7 42. Rb3 exd4 43. Rxb5 Kg8 The long variation 43… d3 44. Rb1 Rd5 45. Rd1 Rxh5 46. Rxd3 Ra5 47. Re3 e5 48. a4 Kg6 49. Re4 h5 50. Rc4 Kf5 should win.

44. Kf2 Kf7 45. a4 Rc7 Unless I am missing something in this long variation, 45… Kf6 46. a5 e5 47. a6 Ra7 48. Rb6+ Kf5 49. Rd6 Ke4 50. Ke2 Rc7 51. Kd2 Rf7 52. Ke2 Rf3 will win.

46. Kf3 Rc3+ 47. Ke4 d3 48. Ke3 Now it’s just a draw – a quite lucky escape.

47… Ra3 49. a5 g6 50. hxg6+ Kxg6 51. Re5 Kf6 52. Rh5 Kg6 53. Re5 Kf7 54. Rh5 Kg7 55. Re5 Kf7 1/2-1/2

Round 6.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM James Schuyler (2300). Nimzovich Defense

A historical curiosity: James’s last name used to be Levine, he changed it a little bit previous to this event.

1. d4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d6 3. e4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Bg4 5. Bb5 a6 6. Bxc6+ bxc6 7. h3 Bh5 8. Bg5

schuy_1.png

Position after 8. Bg5. A Theoretical Position in the Nimzovich Defense.

8…Rb8(!) Rather inferior is 8… Qb8?! 9. Qd3! Bxf3 (Black cannot grab 9… Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. O-O e6 12. Rb7 Rc8 13. Qc4 Kd7 14. Na4! and wins) 10. Qxf3 e6 11. O-O Nd7 12. b3 h6 13. Bh4 Qb4 14. Rad1 Qa5 15. Rfe1 and white was much better and went on to win, 1-0, Yuri Balashov – J. Orzechowski, Wisla 1992.

9. Qe2?! Qc8? Black actually could have eaten on b2 here with the rook with unclear chances.

10. O-O-O e6 11. d5 Qb7 12. b3 Be7 13. g4! Bg6 14. dxe6 fxe6 15. e5! White just has a big edge now.

schuy_2.png

Position after 15. e5! – Smooth Sailing for White now.

15…dxe5 16. Nxe5 O-O 17. Nxg6 Ba3+ 18. Kb1 hxg6 19. Qxe6+ Kh7 20. Qc4 Qb4 21. Qxb4 Bxb4 22. Bxf6 Rxf6 23. Ne4 Rf4 24. Rd4 Kh6 25. Rg1 Be7 26. c3 c5 27. Rc4 Bh4 28. g5+ Bxg5 29. Rxg5 Rxe4 30. Rgxc5 This ending is hopeless, black could have resigned. 30…Rxc4 31. Rxc4 g5 32. Rxc7 Rf8 33. Rc6+ Kh5 34. Rxa6 Rxf2 35. c4 Kh4 36. Rg6 Rf5 37. Rxg7 Kxh3 38. Kb2 g4 39. b4 g3 40. c5 g2 41. c6 Rf2+ 42. Kb3 and black gave up. 1-0.

Postscript: on January 23, 2008, Larry Tamarkin sent me another game I had played in this event. My knights dance well in this game.

M. Ginsburg – NM L. Tamarkin MCC (Ch.) 1989, Queen’s Indian. Round 2.

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bf4 Bb4+ 5. Nbd2 Nf6 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd3 Re8 8. O-O Bf8?! 9. Qc2 d6 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh7+ Kh8 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Be4 c6 14. Qa4 Qe7 15. Rad1 f5 16. Bb1 g5 17. c5!

tam_1.png

17. c5! – the knights need squares.

17…dxc5 18. Ne5 Qf6 19. f4 g4 20. Kh1 cxd4 21. exd4 Rd8 22. Rfe1 Bd6 23. Qb3 Na6 24. Ndc4 Bf8 25. Na5 Bc8 26. Naxc6 Rd5 27. Bd3 Nc7 28. Rc1 Rd6 29. Nd8! Converging on f7 with both knights.

tam_2.png

Position after 29. Nd8! – Nimble knights.

29…Nd5 30. Nef7+ Kg7 31. Nxd6 Bxd6 32. Nxe6+! The knights really rampaged in this game. Now it’s just a material capturing bloodbath.

32…Bxe6 33. Bc4 Bxf4 34. Bxd5 Bxc1 35. Rxe6 Qf8 36. Bxa8 1-0

So I finished the event with 4.5/6. I must confess I have no memory of *any* of these games. And I don’t know who won the 1989 event, because I can’t find any club history pages!

Just for fun, I insert here a scanned image of a 1988 MCC bulletin, edited by stalwart Steve Immitt using what appears to be an old-fashioned typewriter. Maybe you can read it (click to enlarge) well enough to play over an entertaining game between NM Ernest Colding and Michael Rohde, with notes by peripatetic NM Larry Tamarkin.

mcc_bull_88.jpg

An MCC ’88 Bulletin: The Good Old Days of Carnegie Hall!

Help Needed – Fill in the History!

Over the years, the Manhattan CC saw many famous players. Bobby Fischer, Robert Byrne, Pal Benko, Bernard Zuckerman, Joel Benjamin, Kamran Shirazi, and many, many others. Does anyone have a list of the champions? I know the club opened in 1877 and closed in 2002 (there was no Championship in 2002; I don’t know if there was one in 2001 or 2000). Below I list the years, the champion’s name (if known), and the club location in that year. Can someone fill in the extensive gaps? Thanks in advance.

Year   Champion  Club Location   

1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
1900
1901
1902
1903
1904
1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
1912
1913
1914
1915
1916
1917
1918
1919
1920
1921
1922
1923
1924
1925
1926
1927
1928
1929
1930
1931
1932
1933
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939
1940
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946
1947
1948
1949	Arthur Bisguier	100 Central Park South
1950
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982                                 155 E 55th
1983                                 155 E 55th
1984                                  ** moved to 57th and 7th, 10th floor, from 155 E 55th **
1985
1986
1987
1988	Mark Ginsburg	57th and 7th Ave., Carnegie Hall, 10th floor
1989
1990	Mark Ginsburg	57th and 7th Ave., Carnegie Hall, 10th floor
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998  Joel Benjamin
1999  Joel Benjamin
2000  Eric Cooke
2001
"2001 is a bit unclear in my memory. I know Leonid Yudasin beat Benjamin in a
two-game blitz playoff for some kind of trophy, but I can't say for sure Yudasin
was a member. However, consider the following points: 1) Manhattan CC record-keeping                                          was so sloppy that Yudasin may indeed have been a member by the then
prevailing standard of filling out an application (for a GM.)
2) The event crosstable shows Yudasin in first place.
3) I addressed Joel as a "six-time Manhattan CC Champion" at the Bruce Bowyer memorial
yesterday and he did not correct me.
A possible countervailing point is my January 2003 Chess Life piece,
which i can't find, and in which I may (possibly) have called Joel a seven-time champion.
So at this moment I am not quite sure." - Nick Conticello.

Postscript – The MCC Before Carnegie Hall

Larry Tamarkin told me (1/29/08) that the MCC was located on 55th street, on the East Side, and moved to Carnegie Hall around 1986. [?] Update February 2008: Randy Gunolo sends this comment in: “The Manhattan moved to Carnegie Hall in early 1984. Before that, it was at 155 E 55th, where Xaviera Hollander had had her offices in her glory days. I’m not sure if their paths briefly crossed or they just missed each other.” Author’s note: Dutch import Xaviera Hollander is the author of a best-selling book, The Happy Hooker.

Postscript 2: Bridge and Games East, aka ‘Sleaze East’

Larry Tamarkin also reminded me about Sleaze East (not the club’s real name). The club’s real name was “Bridge and Games East” – see comments section. This East Side gambling establishment featured Dzindzi playing long backgammon matches. It shut in the mid-80s, possibly 1985 (or a little later), when a disgruntled gambler fired a gun in the club. The police had to dig the bullet out with a tool. Larry was there and “he grapped me by the scruff of my neck and said that I didn’t seem to understand him when he was ‘telling’ everyone else to get out…”.

(Larry didn’t “understand” he wanted everyone to clear out when he fired the gun).

“He was mad at me cause i didn’t move out like everyone else when his gun was being fired…I was so in my little world i didn’t even know what was happening….I think he calmed down when he realized i wasn’t intentionally trying to ‘diss him’…he let me go and Steve Immitt later said I was lucky he didn’t shoot me!”

After this bullet episode, the club shut. Larry thinks it was on 57th and 2nd or 3rd avenue. The commentor, Mr. Randy Gunolo, opines it was on E 56th street. I will need help from the readers as to this club’s real name and more exact location and year of closing.

‘Crazy Joe’ and the 38-special at Sleaze East

This just in from Steve Immitt on the famous gun incident at Sleaze East: ” “Crazy Joe” let loose a couple of rounds from his .38, while you [Larry Tamarkin – ed.] and Larry Sanchez were busy playing speed chess and everyone else hit the deck.” I had visited Sleaze East a couple of times, and saw Dzindzi in a very long backgammon tussle. Rebekah Greenwald asked Roman in Russian, “kak tebya nravitsia eto…. Sleaze East”? (translated to “How do you like this…. Sleaze East?”). Roman stared at her and did not reply.

For Further Reading

Visit this other blog entry [4/28/08] for Nick Conticello presenting an abridged MCC timeline.

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.