Posts Tagged ‘Richard Costigan’

The Fabulous 10s: Wildcats 3.5 – Sun Devils 2.5

May 21, 2011

I just received a news communique about the first-ever U of Arizona – ASU chess match!   This was a face-to-face match at ASU (not online). And as you can see, it was a close one.  The U of Arizona Wildcats prevailed, much like their basketball team got further in the NCAA’s. Nevertheless the Sun Devils pulled off some victories in the 6-board G/60 match.

The Sun Devil Heartbreak

Dear Chess Fans,

Arizona State University invited University of Arizona to a chess match that coincided with the Master Trek tournament on April 23, 2011.  As far as I know, this is the first time ASU and U of A have ever played each other in a team match.

The time control was set at G/60.  U of A beat ASU 3.5 – 2.5, but given the players were closely matched and given the topsy-turvy nature of the games, no one could foresee the result until the final seconds (when I blew a won position against Ben Marmont).

Attached are all 6 games along with my annotations and variations.  I invited everyone from both teams to comment as well, but received no responses.  Please feel free to post and comment on the games and annotations how you see fit.


Expert Jeff Green

President, Chess Club @ ASU”

From the ASU President Emeritus

This school year has been the first in a decade that ASU has organized a competitive chess team. Since the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship is held over winter break, I needed something to spark the interest of the team in the “off-season.” The University of Arizona is not only our school’s rival, but also fields a formidable chess team, headed by FM Warren Harper and Experts Amanda Mateer and Ben Marmont. The gauntlet was thrown down and we agreed to meet on April 23rd at IM Danny Rensch’s Master Trek tournament on the ASU campus. Despite having the home board advantage, we lost a very close match to the Wildcats (3.5-2.5).

The time control was 55 minutes with a 5 second delay, and the match was a six board, single game match. On board one FM Saeed Mohammad played FM Warren Harper. Both of these guys have taken a bit of a break from chess to focus on school, so it was interesting to see how prepared they were. I believe that Saeed did a bit of pre-game preparation, which appeared to pay off, this match went in our favor 1-0. On board two Expert Amanda Mateer played Expert Andrew Widener. This game was the second to last to finish and ended in a drawn endgame, 1/2-1/2. On board three Expert Jeff Green played Expert Ben Marmont. This was the last game to finish, and was a heartbreak for the Sun Devils. Jeff, in time trouble, blew a won game against his former high school teammate, 0-1. The fourth board saw the match up of Ray Tan and Dean Cullen. Ray has improved very much in the last year, and will probably be an Expert soon. Dean is also a member of the Hayden Library staff and the club advisor. Ray won this match, 1-0. On board five the match up was myself, Jeff Semmens, and Matthew Noble. At the time of this game, I was the President of the Chess Club @ ASU, and I wasn’t expecting to play, but we had two no-shows, and I had to jump in at the last minute. Despite being a 140 point underdog, I pulled off the upset and earned the point for my team, 1-0. On the last board Rex Tan, brother of Ray Tan faced off against Aaron Beavor, another last minute replacement. I played on the same high school team as Rex, and I can attest that he is a better chess player than his rating suggests. Despite being slightly lower rated, Rex won the game, 1-0.
All the games were closely contested, and despite losing, all of us felt good about getting to play the match. We look forward to a rematch with the Wildcats next year, especially since we will be adding NM Nick Thompson to our team. We intend on bringing the “Territorial Cup of Chess” to Tempe in 2012.
Jeff Semmens
President Emeritus — Chess Club @ ASU

Ivy League Digression

Here’s an article in “Chess Life Online” on an online Ivy League chess championship that occurred recently.

The Games

[Event “5th Board”]
[Site “Tempe, AZ”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Semmens, Jeff”]
[Black “Noble, Matt”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “E12”]
[WhiteElo “1785”]
[BlackElo “1886”]
[Annotator “Green,Jeff”]
[PlyCount “83”]
[EventDate “2011.04.23”]
[WhiteTeam “ASU”]
[BlackTeam “U of A”]

1. d4 e6 {Tempting white to enter a French game with 2. e4. Matt seems to
prefer that opening. -JG} 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Bg5 {White should keep his
bishop on c1 and later free it with e4. In similar structures, black gives up
the dark bishop and puts his pawns on the dark squares. Because of Bg5, black
is able to play for the same plan but without giving up the bishop pair. -JG}

{MG: 4. Bg5 is OK (well, usually Nb1-c3 and then Bc1-g5) and has been seen lots of times. There is a certain appeal to getting out first and then establishing a pawn chain behind it
with e2-e3. }

Bb7 5. e3 Be7 6. Nc3 h6 7. Bh4 Ne4

Decision Time

8. Bxe7
{ MG:  Not testing. Here, strangely enough, 8. Bg3!? is very interesting. If black wants to take on g3, white can operate on the h-file. The text move leaves black near-equality.}
Qxe7 9. Nxe4 Bxe4 10. a3 d6 11. Bd3
Bb7  {MG: just taking on d3 is OK }

12. O-O Nd7 13. Re1?! {If the point of this move was to prepare e4, he
should have played it right away. -JG} g5!? {Initiating the attack
immediately. Black should probably castle kingside and worry about getting a
presence in the center first. -JG} 14. e4 e5?!  {?} {Allowing white to barracade
black’s bishop.} (14… g4 $142 15. Nd2 Qf6 {Going for piece activity. -JG})

{MG: just 14…g4 15. Nd2 h5 to gain space.   The text leaves a horrible hole on f5 and white can get there with the knight going from Nd2 to f1 to e3.}

15. d5 $16 g4 16. Nd2 h5 17. Nf1?! {White was better off going for b4 and c5.
It is not clear that the knight belongs here. -JG}  {MG : this move is OK.  White has both the pawn advances and the knight regrouping, he can do them in any order. }

Bc8?! {A bit premature.
The bishop will probably go there anyway, but at this point all of black’s
pieces are inactive and discoordinated. -JG}  {MG : black has to cover f5 but it’s a bad position. }

18. Qa4 {I feel that this queen
is misplaced here. The idea is to invade c6, but even here it has less scope
than it did on d1, and it will have difficulty influencing the kingside later.}

{ MG:  18. b4! will pry open lines quickly. }
Kd8 $5 {Curious and strangely logical. I doubt if it is best though. -JG} 19.
b4 h4 20. Ne3 Nf6 21. Nf5 $6 {Black immediately gets rid of his inactive
bishop for the hyperactive knight, and he loosens white’s grip on the center
at the same time. c5 will be a little harder to play now that d5 is less
secure. -JG}

{MG:  Leave the knight on e3.  It’s good there. 21. c5! opening lines quickly to the black king. }

Bxf5 22. exf5 g3 23. fxg3 hxg3 24. h3 Ng4 25. Qd1 (25. Qb3 {Does
the same thing white does in the game, but in 1 less move. -JG} Nf2 26. Bf1 Qh4
{-JG}) (25. c5 bxc5 26. bxc5 {/\Qxg4} Nf2 27. Qc6 Rc8 (27… Rb8 28. Rab1) 28.
Bb5 {/\f6} f6 29. Ba6 {-Fritz})

25… Nf2 26. Qf3 Qh4 27. Re3?  Qd4 -+ (27…Nxd3 28. Rxd3 e4 -+ {-Fritz} MG – indeed, that just ends the game.)

28. Ra2 Nxd3 29. Rd2 Qa1+?  ‘unclear’ (29… e4 {-JS})

{MG: 29…e4! is a nice move to completely clarify the situation and give black an easy win.  It liberates the forever square e5 for the black knight. }
30. Rd1 Qxa3 31. Rexd3 Qxb4 32. Qxg3 Qxc4 (32… Kd7 33. Qg7 Raf8  {‘black is better’  – White
has trouble breaking through on either side. -JG})

{MG: in fast time controls, playing for the attack even at the cost of a pawn is always good. 32..Kc8! 33. Qg7 Kb7 34. Qxf7 and now black has his choice of juicy continuations to use his connected rooks and the c5-g1 diagonal with a safe king.}

33. Qg7 (33. Rc3 Qa4 34.
Rdc1 {-JG}) 33… Qh4 34. Qxf7 $16 Qh7 35. Qf6+ Kc8 36. Qe6+ Qd7?  {Kb7 is
necessary to get the other rook into action and to get the king safe. -JG} 37.
f6 Rh6 38. Rf1 c6 39. Rg3 (39. f7 $18 Rxe6 40. dxe6 {-JG}) 39… Kc7 40. Rg7
Rxf6 41. Rxd7+ Kc8 42. Qe8# 1-0

[Event “3rd Board”]
[Site “Tempe, AZ”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Green, Jeff”]
[Black “Marmont, Ben”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “A37”]
[WhiteElo “2013”]
[BlackElo “2146”]
[Annotator “Green,Jeff”]
[PlyCount “70”]
[EventDate “2011.04.23”]
[WhiteTeam “ASU”]
[BlackTeam “U of A”]

1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. c4 e5 6. Nc3 Nge7 7. d3 O-O 8. a3
d6 9. Rb1 a5 10. Ne1 Be6 11. Nd5 {Played to prevent black’s d5. -JG} h6 12.
Nc2 a4 13. b4 axb3 14. Rxb3 Rb8 15. Bd2 Nd4 {Black took an awful lot of time
on this move, and I don’t think it’s a good one. Times are now approximately
40 minutes (white) to 20 minutes. -JG} 16. Nxd4 exd4 17. Qc1 {A tempo move to
allow the queen to go to b2 instead of b1. -JG} Kh7 18. Nf4 Bc8 19. Qb2 g5 20.
Nh5 {Heading into complexity with my time advantage.} (20. Nd5 Nc6 21. Nb6 Be6
22. Na4 Qc7 23. Rb1 Bc8 {Each move has the idea of taking the B-pawn, but I
saw no clear way to break through here. -JG}) 20… Bh8 21. Bxb7 Rxb7 $1 {-JG}
22. Rxb7 Bg4 23. Qb5 (23. Nf4 gxf4 24. Bxf4 Ng6 {Hitting the E-pawn and the
bishop. -JG}) 23… Bxh5 24. Rd7 Qe8 25. e3 Be2 $2 {For the idea–the point
was to win a slew of pawns, but it just loses material. -JG} 26. Re1 Bxd3 27.
exd4 Bxc4 28. Qb1+ Kg8 29. Rexe7 Qa8 30. Rxd6 Qxa3 {Now both of us are in
serious time pressure–a minute or so per side. -JG} 31. Qg6+ $2 {I
triumphantly placed the queen there thinking it was forced checkmate for some
reason. Then my opponent casually plays… -JG} (31. dxc5 Qxc5 32. Bb4 $18 {
-JG}) 31… Bg7 (31… fxg6 32. Rxg6+ Bg7 33. Rgxg7+ Kh8 34. Rh7+ Kg8 35. Reg7#
{-JG}) 32. Qc2 cxd4 33. Rdd7 Bd5 $1 {-JG} 34. Ra7 $4 {-JG} Qf3 35. Kf1 d3 {
White resigns.} 0-1

[Event “1st Board”]
[Site “Tempe, AZ”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Mohammed, FM Saeed”]
[Black “Harper, FM Warren”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D91”]
[WhiteElo “2343”]
[BlackElo “2422”]
[Annotator “Green,Jeff”]
[PlyCount “60”]
[EventDate “2011.04.23”]
[WhiteTeam “ASU”]
[BlackTeam “U of A”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bg5
{ MG: this is the line that anti-Gruenfeld specialists such as Wang Yue use as surprise weapons, for example
Wang Yue-Svidler Baku 2008. Except Wang Yue did Bg5 one move earlier:
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 dxc4 7. Qa4+ Qd7 8. Qxc4 b6 9. Bg3 Nc6 10. Nf3 Bg7 11. e3 O-O 12. Be2 Bb7 13. O-O Na5 14. Qb4 Rac8 15. Ne5 Qd6 16. Rfd1 Rfd8 17. Qa4 c5 18. e4 Bxe5 19. Bxe5 Qc6 20. Qxc6 Nxc6 21. Bg4 Ra8 22. Bc7 cxd4 23. Bxd8 Rxd8 24. Be2 e5 25. Rac1 Kf8 26. f3 a6 27. Kf2 Ke7 28. Bc4 Rd7 29. Bd5 dxc3 30. Bxc6 Rxd1 31. Rxd1 Bxc6 32. Rc1 Bd7 33. Rxc3 Kd6 34. Rd3+ Kc6 35. g4 Be6 36. a3 g5 37. Ke3 Kc7 38. Rd1 b5 39. h4 h6 40. Rh1 Kd6 41. hxg5 hxg5 42. Rh5 f6 43. Rh6 Ke7 44. Rh7+ Bf7 45. Rh8 a5 46. Ra8 a4 47. Ra7+ Ke8 48. Rc7 1-0
A very convincing victory over Svidler; black’s dynamic play never materialized. }
Ne4 6. Bh4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 c5 8. e3
Nc6 9. Be2 dxc4 10. Bxc4 O-O (10… cxd4 11. cxd4 Qa5+ 12. Qd2 O-O 13. Qxa5
Nxa5 14. Bd3 e6 15. Bg3 Bd7 16. Bc7 Nc4 17. Bxc4 Rfc8 18. Be5 {Theoretical
line.}) 11. O-O Bf5 12. Re1 Rc8 13. Rc1 Be4 14. Ng5 Bd5 15. Bxd5 Qxd5 16. c4
Qd7 17. d5 Nb4 18. a3 Na2 19. Rc2 Nc3 20. Qd3 Na4 21. e4 e5 22. f4 h6 23. Nf3
exf4 24. e5 Rfe8 25. Rce2 g5 26. Bxg5 $5 (26. Bf2 a6 27. e6 fxe6 28. Ne5 Qd8
29. Qh3 Nb6 30. dxe6 $16 {-JG}) 26… hxg5 27. Nxg5 Qg4 28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. h4 Nc3
30. Rf2 Nd1 {Time pressure must have set in, as the notation is incomplete
here. White won this game.} 1-0

[Event “6th Board”]
[Site “Tempe, AZ”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Tan, Rex”]
[Black “Beavor, Aaron”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B78”]
[WhiteElo “1546”]
[BlackElo “1638”]
[Annotator “Green,Jeff”]
[PlyCount “81”]
[EventDate “2011.04.23”]
[WhiteTeam “U of A”]
[BlackTeam “ASU”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Bc4
{ MG To get to a Yugoslav attack, White almost always plays 6. Be3 here; maybe there is something wrong with this move order. }

Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Be3
Nc6 9. Bb3 Bd7 10. Qd2 a6
{ MG: This is too slow. Black usually clears the knight from c6 then sacks a pawn with b7-b5 to clear lines quickly.}

(10… Qa5 {While white cannot chase it with Nb3. -JG
} 11. O-O-O Rfc8 12. Kb1 Ne5 13. g4 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. h4 Rac8 {A book line.
Shows improvement for black over what actually occurred in the game. -JG}) 11.
O-O-O Rc8 12. g4 Ne5 (12… Na5 $142 13. h4 h5 14. gxh5 Nxh5 15. Bh6 Nxb3+ 16.
Nxb3 (16. cxb3 e5 17. Nde2 Qf6 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Qxd6 (19. Kb1 Rc6 20. Rdf1
Rfc8 21. f4 Bg4 22. fxe5 Qxe5 $11 {-JG}) 19… Rfd8 20. Qxf6+ Kxf6 $11 {Black
is holding due to white’s inability to create a passer on the queenside and
the fact that black has activity on both sides of the board. -JG}) (16. axb3
Qa5 17. Kb1 Rfd8 18. Rhg1 (18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. f4 (19. Rhg1 Rh8 20. Rg5 Rc5 21.
Rxc5 Qxc5 $13 {-JG}) 19… e5 20. Nf3 (20. f5 exd4 21. Qxd4+ Qe5 $19 {-JG})
20… Nxf4 $11 {-JG}) 18… Bh8 $11 {-JG}) 16… Bxc3 17. bxc3 Re8 {Black is
holding with some winning chances. -JG}) 13. h4 Nc4 (13… h5 14. gxh5 Nxh5 15.
Bh6 Qa5 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. f4 Nc4 18. Bxc4 Rxc4 19. f5 Qe5) 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. h5
Qc7 16. hxg6 fxg6 17. Bh6 $6 (17. g5 Nh5 (17… Ne8 18. Nd5 Qd8 19. Qh2 $18 {
-JG}) 18. Nd5 Qd8 19. Nf5 $16 {-JG}) 17… Nxe4 $1 18. Nxe4 Rxd4 19. Qh2 Rxd1+
20. Kxd1 Rf7 (20… Bxh6 21. Qxh6 Rf7 22. Ng5 Rg7 23. Nxh7 Qc4 24. Ng5 Kf8 $11
{The queen on c4 protects Rg8 while the king escapes. -JG and AB}) 21. Ng5 Qc5
$2 {-JG} (21… Qc4 22. Nxf7 Qxf7 23. Bxg7 Qxg7 {Reaching the same position,
but with the king more exposed. Still white has an advantage. -JG}) (21…
Be5 {Playing off the fact that white’s pieces interfere with each other. f4
is unplayable due to Bxg4. -JG} 22. Qh3 Qc4 23. Nxf7 Qxf7 $11 {-JG}) 22. Nxf7
Qd5+ 23. Kc1 Qxf7 24. Bxg7 Qxg7 25. Qe2 Qf7 26. Re1 Qf4+ $6 27. Qe3 Qxe3+ $2
$18 {Black’s one hope to hold a draw is piece activity. He cannot afford
exchanges. White wraps up the game cleanly after this move. -JG} 28. Rxe3 Kf7
29. g5 $1 {Excellent technique. This pawn becomes the keystone of white’s
victory. -JG} e5 30. f4 Ke6 31. fxe5 dxe5 32. Rf3 e4 33. Rf6+ Ke5 34. Kd2 Bc6
35. Ke3 Bd5 36. b3 Be6 37. c4 h6 38. Rxg6 hxg5 39. Rxg5+ Kf6 40. Rh5 Bf5 41.
Rh8 {Black resigns.} 1-0

[Event “2nd Board”]
[Site “Tempe, AZ”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Mateer, Amanda”]
[Black “Widener, Andrew”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “E99”]
[WhiteElo “2133”]
[BlackElo “2098”]
[Annotator “Green,Jeff”]
[PlyCount “68”]
[EventDate “2011.04.23”]
[WhiteTeam “U of A”]
[BlackTeam “ASU”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5
Ne7 9. Ne1
{ MG: there’s something to be said for 9. Nd2 coming to c4 later (after c4-c5).  
White’s play develops quite naturally. Play over Beliavsky-Nakamura, a tour de force for white until he
blundered in the middle game and lost! I analyzed that game elsewhere on this site. Granted, 
9. Ne1 is a main line but the 9. Nd2 positions have white going faster on the queenside. }

Ne8 10. Nd3 f5 11. Bd2 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Rc1 g5 14. c5 Ng6 15. Nb5
$5 Rf7 (15… a6 {Kicking the knight is more correct. It defeats the threat
and makes white use up a tempo. -JG}
{ MG: in these lines, on …a6 the knight often reroutes b5-a3-c4 and then pops into b6.
If it can eliminate black’s queen bishop, black has no attack. }

16. cxd6 (16. Na3 g4 17. cxd6 cxd6 18. Nc4
g3 19. Ba5 gxh2+ 20. Kxh2 Qe7 21. Rh1 Nh5 22. Nb6 Ng3 $13) 16… axb5 17. dxc7
Qd7 18. Bb4 Ne8 19. Bxf8 Bxf8 $44 {Black’s pieces are a bit muddled, but he
doesn’t have much difficulty repositioning them.}) 16. Ba5 b6 17. cxb6 (17.
cxd6 $142 cxd6 18. Bb4 Bf8 $13 {-JG}) 17… axb6 18. Be1 g4 19. Qc2 Ba6 (19…
gxf3 20. Bxf3 Ng4 21. Nxc7 Ne3 22. Qc3 Rxa2 $13 {-JG}) 20. Nb4 (20. Nxc7 Bxd3
21. Bxd3 Rc8 22. Ne6 Rxc2 23. Nxd8 Rxc1 24. Nxf7 Kxf7 $19 {-JG}) 20… Bxb5 21.
Bxb5 Bf8 22. Ba6 gxf3 23. gxf3 Nh5 24. Kh1 Qd7 25. Qc6 Qxc6 26. Rxc6 Nf6 27.
Bf2 Ne8 28. Rfc1 Be7 29. a3 Bh4 30. Bg1 Kf8 31. Bf1 Rg7 32. Na2 Bd8 33. Bf2 Nh4
34. Be2 Ng2 {Notation missing due to time pressure.} 1/2-1/2

[Event “4th Board”]
[Site “Tempe, AZ”]
[Date “2011.04.23”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Tan, Ray”]
[Black “Cullen, Dean”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A85”]
[WhiteElo “1929”]
[BlackElo “1748”]
[Annotator “Green,Jeff”]
[PlyCount “77”]
[EventDate “2011.04.23”]
[WhiteTeam “U of A”]
[BlackTeam “ASU”]

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3
{ MG: in a recent SOS article (Secrets of Opening Surprises), an author recommends
2. Qd3!? d5 3. g4!? fxg4 4. h3! and white develops strong compensation on the light squares.
I used this to good effect versus a Bay Area junior a few years ago. }
Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. e3 b6 6. Bd3 Bb7 7. Bd2 O-O 8. a3
Bxc3 (8… Be7 $6 {Not as good–the bishop will find little activity for the
rest of the game, and it will likely get in the way of its own pieces. For
example, d6 is a little harder to play because of Ng5, when Qe8 would be the
normal response, both defending e6 and preparing to move the queen to the
kingside, but e6 would not be defended because of the bishop on e7. -JG}) 9.
Bxc3 Ne4 10. O-O d6 11. Rc1 Nd7 12. Bb1 $6 {This is a bit of a mystery move.
Normally a retreat of this kind is done in preparation for Qd3 or Qc2 in order
to invite black to weaken his kingside pawns to avoid checkmate. However,
this plan would make little sense here since black has a strong presence in
the center. It seems like a wasted tempo. -JG} Kh8 $6 {Black wastes a tempo
in kind. Better moves include Ndf6, Rf6, or Qe8. Even a5 is playable here.}
13. b4 Rf6 (13… Nxc3 {Best to eliminate the bishop before it becomes strong.}
) 14. Bxe4 $1 {Getting rid of his good bishop for the sake of initiative.
This is a correct decision, and not an easy one to make. -JG} Bxe4 15. Ng5 Qe7
(15… Qe8 {Slightly better. This not only gets rid of the ensuing tactic,
but it also transfers the black queen to the light squares where it is better
suited for repositioning on either side of the board. -JG} 16. d5 Rg6 17. Nxe4
fxe4 18. f3 (18. Qc2 exd5 19. cxd5 Rg5 20. Bb2 Rc8 21. Rfd1 Qg6 $11 {-JG})
18… Nf6 19. Bxf6 gxf6 20. fxe4 exd5 21. cxd5 Qxe4 22. Qf3 Qe7 $16 {-JG}) (
15… Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Rg6 17. f4 h6 18. h4 $18 {-JG}) (15… Rg6 16. Nf7+ Kg8 17.
f3 $1 (17. Nxd8 $2 Rxg2+ 18. Kh1 Rxf2+ 19. Kg1 Rg2+ 20. Kh1 Rg3+ $1 21. Rf3
Bxf3+ 22. Qxf3 Rxf3 $19) 17… Qe7 18. fxe4 Qxf7 19. exf5 exf5 20. e4 $16 {-JG}
) 16. Qh5 $16 {-JG} (16. d5 Rg6 (16… exd5 17. f3 Rh6 18. Nh3 d4 19. exd4 Bb7
20. d5 $16 {-JG}) (16… e5 17. f3 $18 {-JG}) 17. Nxe4 fxe4 18. f3 Re8 19. fxe4
exd5 20. cxd5 Qxe4 21. Qf3) 16… g6 (16… Nf8 $142 {Preparing to deploy the
rook. -JG}) 17. Qh3 Rg8 {A strange, wasted move. Black has trouble placing
his rooks the whole game. -JG} (17… Bd3 $1 $11 {-JG}) 18. Rfd1 Rff8 19. Qh6
(19. Nxe6 $1 $18 {/\d5 -Fritz}) 19… Nf6 20. f3 (20. d5 $1 {This would have
been playable many times during the game to expose the bishop. The game
equalizes because white misses this move.} e5 21. f3) 20… Bb7 21. Be1 Re8 22.
c5 Rgf8 23. Bh4 $5 {An interesting way to deal with black’s threat. This is a
very neat idea. -JG} Ng8 (23… bxc5 24. bxc5 Rb8 $13 {-JG}) 24. cxd6 cxd6 25.
Qxh7+ Qxh7 26. Nxh7 Bxf3 $6 {Black’s game is lost, but this should make it
worse. -JG} 27. gxf3 $6 (27. Nxf8 $142 Bxd1 28. Nxg6+ Kg7 29. Nf4 e5 (29… Bb3
30. Rc7+ $18 {-JG}) 30. dxe5 dxe5 31. Rxd1 exf4 32. exf4 $18 {-JG}) 27… Kxh7
28. Rc7+ Kh6 29. Rxa7 g5 30. Bf2 Ra8 31. Rb7 Rfb8 32. Rxb8 Rxb8 33. Rc1 {From
this point on, black gives up the game completely. He absolutely must get his
pieces active, but he does not. -JG} Ra8 34. Rc6 Rxa3 35. Rxd6 b5 36. Rxe6+
Kg7 37. Rb6 Ra4 38. Rxb5 Ra1+ 39. Kg2 {Notation is incomplete, but black
resigned soon hereafter.} 1-0

And For Something Completely Different: *NOT* Online Princeton-Yale-Penn 3-Way College Challenge Match

Who’s ready for some 1979 nostalgia?  Way back before online.

On the weekend of April 14 and April 15, 1979, Princeton University hosted a triangular match between Princeton, Penn, and Yale.  I think I helped organize it!  In an ancient scorepad of mine (specifically #12) I found two treasures that until now had not seen the light of day.  They were unrated games with a time control of 40/100.  There were no increments back then.

In Round 1 here is my game vs. Richard Costigan of Penn.   Round 1 results:  Princeton lost to Penn 3-5 (8 board match!).  Round 2:  Yale beat Penn 5-3.  In the decisive third round, Princeton crushed Yale by a score of 5.5 to 2.5.

Princeton wound up winning the event by half a point!

Historical rating note:  my rating going into this game was 2355 . I think Richard Costigan was in the 2300s too.

[Event “Princeton vs Penn”]
[Site “Princeton Univ”]
[Date “2011.05.22”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Ginsburg , Mark (Princeton)”]
[Black “Costigan, Richard (Penn)”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B30”]
[PlyCount “57”]
[EventType “3-Way College Match)”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Nd4 5. e5 Nxb5 6. Nxb5 Nd5 7. O-O g6 8. d4 Nc7 9. Nxc7+ Qxc7 10. d5 b6 11. Bf4 Bb7 12. Qd2 e6 13. c4 h6 14. a4 O-O-O 15. a5 d6 16. axb6 axb6 17. Qc3 f6 18. exf6 e5 19. Bg3 Qf7 20. Ra7 Kc7 21. Rfa1 Rb8 22. R1a6 Qxf6 23. Rxb6

After this simple blow it’s resignable (23… Kxb6 24. Qa5 mate).

23…Rh7 24. Nxe5 Kc8 25. Nc6 Qf5 26. Qe1 Bxc6 27. Rxc6+ Kd8 28. Rxh7 Rxb2 29. Qa5+ 1-0

That wasn’t pretty from black’s point of view.  I had useful experience going into that game with the 4. Bb5 system.

Here is my third round game with future Grandmaster Jonathan Tisdall of Yale.   Going into this game, his rating was in the 2300’s as well.

[Event “Princeton vs Yale”]
[Site “Princeton U”]
[Date “1979.04.14”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Tisdall, Jonathan”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B72”]
[Annotator “Mark Ginsburg”]
[PlyCount “118”]
[EventType “3 way college match”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nc6 6. Bc4 Bd7 7. O-O g6 8. Be3 Bg7 9. h3 O-O 10. Re1 a6 11. f4 b5 12. Bb3 Rc8 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. Bd4 e6!

Black’s already equal.

Black is all right

15. a3 Qd7!  A nice idea in the Sozin, preparing the next move with good counterplay.

16. Qe2 Qb7 17. Rad1 a5 18. e5   Of course not a move white wants to play. The absence of the light square bishop on the kingside will prove to be a serious problem for white.

18…Nh5 19. Qf2 dxe5 20. Bxe5 Rfd8 21. Qh4?

A blunder.

21…Qb6+?  (The computer points out 21… Rxd1 22. Rxd1 Bxe5 23. fxe5 a4 24. Ba2 Bxg2 and black wins)

22. Kh2 Bxe5 23. Rxe5 Rxd1 24. Nxd1 Qd4 (24… Rd8 25. Ne3 Rd2 26. Qg5 Qd4) 25. Ne3 Qxf4+ (25… Nxf4

26. Ng4 Qd2 wins also)

26. Qxf4 Nxf4 27. g3 Nd5 (Stronger is 27… Ne2! 28. Rc5 a4 29. Ba2 Kg7!)

28.Nxd5 Bxd5 29. Bxd5 exd5 30. c3 Rd8 31. Kg2 Kg7 32. Kf3 Kf6 33. Re2 h5 34. Rd2
Ke5 35. Rd4 Rc8 36. h4 Rc4 37. Rd2 Re4 38. Rd3 a4 39. Rd2 f6 40. Rd3 g5 41.
hxg5 fxg5 42. Rd2 g4+!

Now black grinds out a long endgame where his vast superiority in space finally results in a win.

43. Kf2 Kd6 44. Rd1 Kc5 45. Rh1 Re5 46. Rd1 Rf5+ 47. Kg2 Rf3 48. Rd2 Re3 49. Kf2 Re4 50. Rd1 Kc4 51. Rd2 d4 52. cxd4 Rxd4 53. Re2 Kb3 54. Ke3 Rd1 55. Rh2 Rb1 56. Rxh5 Rxb2 57. Rxb5+ Kxa3 58. Rg5 Rb3+ 59. Kd2 Kb2

Tisdall took revenge a year later, beating me as black in short order in a RATED game in the 1980 GHI International in New York City.

Well, in this event, Princeton wins by half a point, whew!   This game was almost certainly the last one to conclude in the 8 game match.  I must admit it was strange to have only 3 teams (one team having a bye each round); I can only guess that perhaps there was a fourth invited team that could not attend.  Maybe Kenny Regan remembers??

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New York International 2008

June 25, 2008

The Basics

The first-ever New York International 2008, a nine round masters’ Swiss, was held at the venerable Marshall CC, on 23 W 10 St in Manhattan from June 21 to 25, 2008 and drew quite a strong field.   Dr. Frank Brady was in attendance and Nick Conticello and Steve Immitt directed.  Monroi coverage was intermittent.   GM Alejandro Ramirez (Costa Rica) and GM Jaan Ehlvest GM Mark Paragua wound up tying for first.   The last round was very exciting.  Ramirez ground down GM Sergey Erenburg in a superior rook and bishops of opposite colors ending with separated passed pawns. GM Mark Paragua could only draw Elliot Liu in a sharp Schveningen where Liu did an early bum’s rush with g2-g4 but still wound up tying for first and then defeated Ramirez in a tiebreak Armageddon blitz game.  Ehlvest beat Mackenzie Molner (who himself needed a win for a GM norm) — an interesting win on the black side of a Keres Attack that I will post later.  Yuri Lapshun and I were puzzling over Ehlvest’s Estonian scoresheet, but fortunately Steve Immitt had it on Monroi.   The strength of the event is evidenced by the fact that a mere 5 out of 9 was good enough for Molner’s norm.

And when I left, GM Becerra was still slogging for a top prize, torturing IM Sarkar in an objectively drawn ending (R  and rook pawn against Bishop and rook pawn) but in sudden death anything can happen, and in fact did, since I see Becerra won it (rather improbably).

Here was a position from Becerra-Sarkar from when I was watching.

Excerpt from Becerra-Sarkar (black to move)

The first move that occurred to me was …h6.  This pawn, if immune, destroys any white winning hopes!  And it does appear immune.   But Sarkar didn’t do it.  I did not understand why Sarkar did not build an impregnable defensive line with ….h7-h6!.  After this move, white can certainly attack the pawn on h6 but he can never take it with either king or rook and hope to win, because the e-pawn will move to e2, opening up a discovered attack.  The e-pawn will cost white’s rook and it will be a draw. I see absolutely no winning attempt for white after …h6!.

In the game, Sarkar *never* played h6.  Furthermore, when his king was boxed in, he felt it necessary to give up his passed pawn entirely by playing e3-e2 to give the bishop room.  The position then became problem-like with white able to set up various zugzwang motifs.  White did win eventually in a game important for the final standings.  The moral in sudden-death:  locate one iron-clad draw and go for it!  Waffling around just leads to trouble  This advice also applied to an early round.  Blogster Jon Jacobs was playing GM Mark Paragua and had a great game throughout.  After some Paragua trickery, black won an ending narrowly. the game became dead drawn, but Jacobs was low on time.  Paragua tried one last attempt and Jacobs could not orient himself to go for the iron-clad drawing formation. I will post that excerpt shortly; it is instructive.

In the game, white tried to retain an extra pawn when in fact by letting it go he would reach the draw.  Note that the opportunistic Paragua needed this little bit of luck here and in other games (every tournament winner does!) to wind up in the top spots.  Here is the game; it is instructive.

Jon Jacobs – Mark Paragua, Round 1.  Reti Opening.

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 Bg4 4.O-O Nd7 5.d4 e6 6.Bf4 Ngf6 7.Nbd2 Qb6 8.c4 Bxf3 9.Nxf3 dxc4 10.Qc2 Nd5 11.Bd2 Qa6 12.Rfc1 b5? Of course this is terrible. Tournament winners need luck in the first round!  12…Bb4 would keep the game in reasonable boundaries.

13.b3?! Black has a horrible game after 13. a4! Qb7 14. axb5 axb5 15. Ng5!.   In fact, white also has 15. b3! Rc8 16. e4 Nb4 17. Qb1 with enormous pressure.  A pleasant choice!  The problem for black is that his light square bishop, so sorely needed for the light square defense in the face of white’s mobile center, is not on the board anymore. The text keeps an edge but less than 13. a4!.  Here’s another instructive line.  13. a4! Qb6 14. axb5 cxb5 15. b3! cxb3 16. Qb3 and black not long for this world.  A possible defense 16…Be7 is crushed by 17. e4 N5f6 18. Ba5! Qa6 (18…Qb8 19. Nh4 wins; 18…Qb7 19. Rc7 wins) 19. e5 (19. Ne5 also wins) 19…Nd5 20. Nd2! and white wins.  Black can’t get out of the bind.

13…Ba3 14.bxc4! Of course.  White has a big edge.  Just not as big as the previous note.

14…Bxc1 15.cxd5 Bxd2 16.dxc6 Nb6 17.Nxd2 O-O 18.Rb1? Strong is 18. Ne4! Nd5 19. Nd6. For example, 19…Rad8 20. Qc5! Nc7 21. Nb7 with a huge bind.

18…Rac8 19.Qb3 Nd5?? Very weak.  Correct is 19…Rfd8! 20. e3 Nd5 and black is better and the same verdict is true for 20. Qd3 Nd5.

20.e4 Oops!  Black allows the P/c6 to live and he will be suffering.

20…Nc7 21.d5 Rfd8 22.Nf1 White has a big edge again.

22…Qb6 23.Ne3 Qc5 24.h4?! The most efficient is 24. Qb2! with the idea of Rc1.

24…a5 25.h5 This pawn demonstration was uncalled for.  Once again, 25. Qb2!

25…h6?! 25….b4!

26.Qd1 26. Qb2!

26…a4 26…b4!

27.Rc1 Qa3 28.Rc2 Ne8? Black carelessly allows a surprising shot.  I suspect he was playing on his opponent’s time shortage.   He had to hunker down with 28…Qe7! with a defensible game.


White had 29. e5! exd5 30. Bh3! d4 31. Bxc8 d3 32. Rd2 with a huge edge. Or, 30…Rc7? 31. Nxd5 and white will win in short order.

29…Qb4 30.Qd3 Nc7 31.Rd2 Qd6?! An unforced retreat.  Better was 31…a3! leaving the queen in the nice b4 spot .

32.Qd4! f6 33.Rd3?! Too hesitant. This is probably time trouble.  The aggressive 33. f4! is extremely strong.  Black has a terrible game after 33…exd5 34. exd5 or 34. Bh3! Qxc6 35. Rc2! Qe8 36. exd5.

33…Na6?! 33…Re8 is a tougher defense.

34.Qa7 The careful 34. Rd1 also leaves white better with the idea of the strong Bf1-h3!

34…Nb4 34…Nc5  35. dxe6 Nxd3 36. Qf7+ transposes to the game.

35.dxe6! 35. Rd1! also gives white a big edge.  For example, 35…Ra8 36. Qb6 Rdb8 37. Qd4 Nxa2? 38. Bh3! and white wins.  This Bh3! idea is always very annoying for black.  The text is fine too but a little tricky.

35…Nxd3 36.Qf7+  Kh8 37.Nf5 Qf8 38.Qxf8 Rxf8 39.Bxd3?? Must be time trouble.  39. e7! first is winning for white with accurate play.  The reason is 39…Rfe8 (39…Rg8 40. Bxd3 is great for white too) 40. Bxd3! and black cannot take on c6. The following variation is nice: 40…b4! 41. Nd6! Rxe7 42. Nxc8 Rc7 (optically black has play, but white controls the board) 43. Nb6! b3 44. axb3 cxb3 45. Na4! Rxc6 46. Kf1! Rc1+ 47. Ke2 Ra1 48. Nc3 and white coordinates fantastically and should win.

39…Rxc6 40.e7 Rb8! The opportunistic Paragua has chances to get an edge again in this crazy game.  Did I mention tournament winner’s luck?

41.Bxb5 Re6 42.Bxa4 Rxe4 43.Bc6 Re5 44.g4?? One has to feel sorry for white missing so many nice things in the game.   The beautiful 44. Nh4!! is a great move.  After 44…Re1+, for example, 45. Kg2 black is completely stymied and if the best he can do is 45…g6 46. Nxg6+ Kg8 it’s clear only white has chances. Note also that after 45…Kh7? 46. Ng6! and black is totally tied up!  If Paragua was playing white and had the luxury of all his extra time in the sudden death, he would bring the point home with something like 46…f5 47. f4! Re3 48. Kh3 Re2 49. g4! and white is making progress.

44…Rb1+ 45.Kg2 Rbe1! Paragua is not going to let white wriggle around anymore.  His plan is inexorable.

46.Kg3 Kg8 47.Kf4 Rxf5 48.Kxf5 Re5 49.Kf4 Rxe7 50.Bd5 Kf8 51.Bc4 Re5 52.Bb3 Ke7 53.Bc4 Kd6 54.Bb3 Kc5 55.Bf7 Kd4 56.Bb3 f5! I didn’t comment on the previous chaotic adventures, which looked incredibly suspicious for black. At the time I thought this was holdable for white, but he cannot organize a king run to the queenside in time without dropping the weak kingside pawns. Of course this position is fine for white, but the text for black unexpectedly works. Let’s see this position.

Position after 56…f5! – “Winning Try” ??? Black does indeed win

57.gxf5 I am surprised to say there is no defense even with this limited material. . White must have been totally disoriented and makes the worst response to black’s  attempt. Black had the idea if 57. g5, black has 57…Re4+ 58. Kxf5 Re5+ 59. Kg6 Rxg5+ and continues to fight.  But after Even 57. f3! does not save it. , keeping the pawn chain, here is the idea:   white will play gxf5 now if black lets him.  There is no more Re4+.  Suppose 57. f3! fxg4 58. fxg4.  Well, there is no win.  White can simply play his bishop from b3 to g8 and back again just waiting.  If black gets too cute, g4-g5 will be possible in some lines and that will draw immediately as too many pawns leave the board.   I don’t see any winning attempt for black. Note the similarities between this  exchange-down should-be-drawn game and the last round Sarkar exchange-down should-be-drawn bungle above – if iron-clad draws are passed up, letting the other side continue to fight, time pressure will decide the outcome!

Here is a sample line.  57. f3 fxg4 58. fxg4 Rb5! 59. Be6 Rb1! and black prevents g4-g5.  White will have to give ground with 60. Bb3 Rf1+ 61. Kg3 Ke4 62. Be6 Rf3+ 63. Kh4 Kf4 and black is on the road to winning since g5 is ruled out and the a-pawn is going nowhere.   Continuing, 64. Bb3 Rg3 65. Be6 Rg1! 66. Kh3 Rh1+ 67. Kg2 Re1! illustrates the zugzwang theme where white cannot hang on to both a2 and g4.

MG Note 6/29/08:  Jacobs offers a winning plan for black after 57. f3 in his comments.  The ending is very instructive and it appears white cannot hold it!  Black can get to the key dark squares using his king and rook and white’s a-pawn is immobile – if it advances, it will be lost.   A drawing formation is white’s king guarding a-pawn and white bishop parked on f5 but that requires too many moves and he can’t achieve it.

57…Re4+ 58.Kg3 Ke5 Black’s main point.  White’s king is cut off and black can angle to make a passed pawn.

59.Be6 Rb4 60.Bd7 Rd4 61.Be6 Rd1 62.Kg2 Kf4 63.Bb3 Rc1 64.Be6 Kg5 65.Bf7 Kxf5 66.Kg3 Rc3 67.f3 Kg5 68.Be8 Ra3 69.Bf7 Ra4 70.Kf2 Ra7 0-1 As referenced above, tournament winner’s luck!

Sergey Erenburg, a solid GM, simply made too many draws and then had the last round disappoinment against the focused, well-playing, Ramirez.

Mackenzie Molner and Elliot Liu made IM norms.  Elliot in particular made an improbable comeback after losing early to Vovsha and (in an absurd mutual blunder-fest) to Ehlvest, beating among others IM Almeida, GM Palermo, and GM R. Gonzales in a surprising run.   In the R. Gonzales game, Reinier was unrecognizable, losing quickly as white in a King’s Indian Attack (too much talking on the stairwell with buddies?).

I won a game in Round 1 vs NM Roy Greenberg then went luke-warm, drawing Reinier Gonzales, Dean Ippolito, Sergey Erenburg, Michael Rohde, and Alfonse Almeida.  I sustained one loss to Justin Sarkar.

Here’s a tough Round 4 battle.

GM S. Erenburg – IM M. Ginsburg, Round 4.  Sicilian Pelikan

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 e5 8.Bg5 a6 9.Na3 Be6 10.Nc4 Rc8!? I was successful with a TN in this unusual system defeating future GM Joel Benajmin in 1981! That game made its way into Batsford Chess Openings, in a section ghost-authored by Jon Tisdall and me.

11.Ne3 If this game is evidence, 11. Nd5!? is more critical.  However, I did succeed against Richard Costigan in the 1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate after 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 (12. Qxd5!?) Ne7.

11…Qb6! This is the real TN in the 11. Ne3 system, introduced before Sergey was born!  (Sergey is 26).

Position after 11…Qb6!  (TN in 1981)

12.Rb1 If 12. Bxf6, Qxb2! first is fine for black.   For example, 13. Ned5 Bxd5 14. Nxd5 Nb4! (a very strong in-between move) 15. Bd3 (forced) 15…Nxd5 16. exd5 Qc3+! and black, by inconveniencing white’s king, is fireproof.  The most likely result is a draw but black is not in danger.

12…Nxe4! The point and an easy move to miss!

13.Nxe4 h6 14.Bc4 If 14. Bh4 Qb4+! regains the piece through this unusual piece line-up on the fourth rank.  A very strange tactic!  In the 1981 game, Joel played 14. c3 and gained some compensation for the pawn after 14…hxg5 15. Bc4 Nd8! 16. Bb3  Be7 although black is fine there.

14…Bxc4 15.Nxc4 Qb4+ 16.Ncd2 hxg5 17.c3 Qb5 18.Qg4 Rd8 19.c4 Qb6 20.Qxg5 d5! Completely equalizing by removing any “holes” the white knights might jump to; now I just have to be a little careful in the ending, but black’s position is very solid.

21.cxd5 Rxd5 22.O-O Qd8 23.Qxd8 Kxd8 24.Rfd1 f6 25.Nc3 Rd7 26.Nb3 Rh4! Using the open h-file.

27.a3 Rc4 28.Nd5 Bc5 29.Rd2 Ba7 30.Rbd1 Nd4 31.Ne3 Rcc7 32.Nxd4 Bxd4 33.Kf1 Bxe3 34.fxe3 White thought about the pawn ending here, but there’s nothing in it since there is no distant pawn majority.

34…Rxd2 35.Rxd2 Ke7 36.Kf2 f5 37.e4 g6 38.Kf3 Ke6 39.g3 Rc4 40.exf5 gxf5 41.h4 Rg4 42.Rh2 Kf6 43.h5 e4+ 44.Kf2 Rg7 45.h6 Rh7 At this point, white needs to play the “bail out” drawing continuation of the game or lose ignominously.

46.g4 f4 47.Rh5 Kg6 48.Rf5! Not 48. Re5?? Kxh6 49. Rxe4 Kg5! and black wins.

48…Rxh6 49.Rxf4 Rh2 50.Ke3 Rxb2 51.Rxe4 Kg5 1/2-1/2

I recouped a little bit with a second victory:

Here it is, an amusing game vs NM Pavel Treger (2247).

IM M. Ginsburg – NM P. Treger   English Opening  Round 8

I had just come off a bad loss to IM Sarkar in round 7 and was looking to recover.

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 e4? 4. Ng5 b5 A dubious gambit popularized by Juan Bellon in the 1970s.

Position after 4….b5 – An unsound gambit.  But he’s already committed by his bad third move 3….e4?

Early experiences for white saw some games with 5. cxb5? d5 and black’s play is fully justified.  Unfortunately there is a hidden total refutation.

5. d3! This is it.  Both 5….bxc4 6. Ngxe4 and 5…exd3 6. cxb5 are bad for black.

5….exd3 6. cxb5 h6 7. Nf3 dxe2 8. Bxe2 White is hugely better.

8…Bb7 9. O-O Bd6? Now it gets worse.  Black blocks his own d-pawn and puts himself in virtual zugzwang.

10. Nd4 g6 A horrible weakening but Nd4-f5 cannot be tolerated.  Black is lost.

11. Bf3 Qc8 12. Re1+ Kf8  13. b3! The b2-h8 diagonal beckons.

13…Bb4  14. Bb2 d5 A panic reaction to try to seal things up and develop.  White does not give black a chance.

15. Nc6!  Bxc6 16. Qd4! In the style of FJ Marshall. This lethal zwischenzug is immediately decisive.  Black’s king will find no refuges.


Position after 16…Be7.  Crunch time.

17. Rxe7! Of course.  Black could resign.  But Treger likes to play until mate.

17…Kxe7 18. Nxd5+ Of course white also has 18. Re1+ winning.  However, it is always necessary to choose one win in a game.  Amusingly, 18. Qxf6+ Kxf6 19. Nxd5 double check is ALMOST forced mate in the ancient style of FJ Marshall. It comes close, but no cigar.

18…Nxd5 19. Ba3+! Keeping black’s king in the deadly central zone.

19…Kd8 Other moves such as 19…Kd7? 20. bxc6+ lose even faster.  Now black hopes to toddle on with 20. Qxh8+ Kd7 (where white wins of course) – but white has better.

20. Bxd5! Black’s king is toast.  Treger, since he plays until mate, now plays a move to maximize the game’s length.

Position after 20. Bxd5 – Black to play and maximize the game assuming he plays until mate

20…..Qg4 This doesn’t ruin the game because more humorous motifs occur.  The problem was that 20…Bxd5 21. Qf6+ is mate next move.

21. Qxg4 Bxd5 22. Rd1 c6 23. bxc6 Kc7 Did I mention Treger never resigns?

24. Qf4+ Kc8 25. Rxd5 Re8 Black threatens mate!  His first threat!

26. Kf1 f5 27. Qd6 a6 28. c7 Kb7

29. cxb8=R+! There was no queen handy.  Underpromotion!  A total game!

29…Raxb8 30. Qd7+ Ka8 31. Qc6+ Rb7 32. Qxe8+ Rb8 33. Qc6+ Rb7 34. Rd8+ Ka7 35. Bc5+ Rb6

At this point I stopped to take inventory of all the mates in one.

How many mates?

I played the most obtuse one.  The readers should not get the idea this tournament was a kindergarten, in fact there were many hard fought games among GMs Erenburg, Palermo, Ramirez, Kudrin, Gonzales, etc.

36. Qd7 mate.  1-0

Here’s round 1 vs NM Roy Greenberg.  Factoid:  Jay Bonin revealed he went to college with Roy.

Roy Greenberg (2245 FIDE) – M. Ginsburg.  Round 1, Nimzo Indian.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 c5 5. e3? Yuck!   To get anywhere, white must play 5. d5.

Position after 5. e3?

5….cxd4 Of course black is also better after 5…d5.

6. exd4 d5 7. a3 Bxc3+ Very playable is the more aggressive 7…Bd6.

8. bxc3 Qa5 9. Bd2 O-O 10. cxd5 Qxd5!? 11. Bd3 e5  12. Ne2 exd4 13. c4! The best chance to make some confusion.  White gains some compensation with a small king-side initiative.

13…Qd8 14. O-O Nc6 15. Rc1 Re8 16. Bg5 Qa5!? The most radical way to break the pin.  Black accepts the deformation of the pawn structure to gain some key dark squares, in particular e3 for his rook.

17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Ng3 Re3! 19. Be4 Qc5 20. Kh1 Ne7 21. Qd2? Too passive.  Black now gains a huge initiative by cementing the rook on e3.

21…f5 22. Bb1 Be6 23. Rfd1 Re8 24. a4 Nc6 25. Nf1 f4! 26. Qc2 For the time being, white leaves the rook alone but he can’t ignore it for long.

26…f5 27. Qf2 Qe5! Centralization.

28. Qh4 Re7 29. Nxe3 fxe3 30. f4 Qg7 31. Rf1 Qg4 Getting the queens off gives black a great ending with monster passed pawns.

32. Qf6 Qg6 33. Qh4 Rg7 34. g4? A hallucination which speeds white’s demise.  But it’s black for choice anyway with the center passers.

34…Qxg4  35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. h3 Rg7 37. Rfd1 Kf7 White can’t move anything and could have resigned.

38. Bd3 Kf6 39. Be2 Rd7 40. Kg2 Nb4! The knight coordinates ideally with the black bishop from here.

41. Bd3 Bf7! With nasty threats.

42. Kf1 a5! Cementing the knight.  Games are not usually this pleasant.

43. c5 Nominally an error but it didn’t matter.

43…Bb3  0-1

Watch this spot.  I will post games vs GM Rohde, GM Erenburg, IM Sarkar, IM Almeida, IM Ippolito, and more.

Postscript:  Marshall’s Head and What’s the Most Peculiar Thing?

From this E. Vicary report at US Chess Online, we have quiz problem #9:

9. What’s peculiar about the bust of Frank Marshall on display at his namesake chess club?

Vicary’s Solution

Someone stuck rhinestones in Frank’s eyes many years ago, reportedly to “make him look prettier.” They have never been removed.

Well, I wouldn’t say that’s the most peculiar thingMore peculiar (perhaps!) is that a crew of maniacs stole the head in the 1980s, causing a general freak-out amongst the Board of Directors.  Then the maniacs crept back in a few weeks later (again using an open window) with the heavy head in tow – perhaps having deemed it was not of general interest.   However, in attempting to put it back where it belonged, they stepped on a glass coffee table and broke it.  More general freak-out occurred.   It was grand nevertheless to see FJ’s head back on its pedestal. 

The Fabulous 80s: The Pan-Am Intercollegiates 1981

February 17, 2008

The 1981 Pan Am Intercollegiates were in New York City, I think at the Statler Hotel. This was my first year in graduate studies at Columbia University. The University of Toronto featuring Ian Findlay won this year (the middle year of a 3-year run by UT). If I am not mistaken, both Steve Odendahl (with a Nimzovich Defense, 1….Nc6) and Gregory Markzon upset Joel Benjamin at this event.

2/29/08 note from Dave Gertler“I don’t know about Markzon, but Odendahl did beat Benjy (w/Nimzovich) at ’81 Pan-Am.  In fact, in the Yale-Swarthmore match, black won on all 4 games! Tragically, I was white on bd. 2.  “

Photo Time


From left (standing): Jon Schroer, the author, Steve Odendahl, and Eric Tall.

We were not on the same team – this was a staged photo around the trophy that Ian Findlay took home to Canada (U. Toronto). Seated: Michael Wilder, I think he was a high school student/observer.

New York City, December 1981


Steve Odendahl (left), Michael Wilder (center), and the author. Pan-Ams December 1981, NYC.

Three Games from the Event

Here are three amusing games. There is also some good theoretical content.

Richard Costigan (2353, U. Pittsburgh) – M. Ginsburg (2478, Columbia “A”), Pan-Am 12/1981. Round 6. Time control: 40/2

Sicilian Pelikan.

My opponent is still going strong, he is an IM now and I played him in the World Open 2007.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bf4 e5 8. Bg5 a6 9. Na3 Be6!? This is an interesting move that I used to beat Joel Benjamin also in 1981. It has good surprise value versus the regular “Sveshnikov” move 9…b5.

10. Nc4 Rc8


Position after 10…Rc8. New-Age Pelikan.

11. Nd5 Joel played 11. Ne3 inviting a strange gambit sequence. That game went 11.Ne3 Qb6! 12.Rb1 Nxe4! A crazy gambit line that Jon Tisdall showed me. 13.Nxe4 h6! Regaining the piece due to 14. Bh4 Qb4+! – a strange lineup along the 4th rank. 14.c3 hxg5 15.Bc4! White gets good compensation on the light squares. 15…Nd8 16.Bb3 Be7 17.O-O Qc6 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.Bxd5 Qd7 20.Qb3 O-O 21.Rfd1 g6 22.c4 Ne6 23.Qh3 Kg7 24.Bxe6 fxe6 25.b3 Rf4 26.Qe3 Qc6 27.Ng3 Qc5 28.Qe2 Rcf8 29.Rd2 R8f7 30.Rbd1 Qc6 31.h3 g4! 32.hxg4 Rxf2! Very strong. White cannot withstand the long ranging queen, center pawns, and strong dark squared bishop and eventually goes under. 33.Qxf2 Rxf2 34.Rxf2 d5 35.Rfd2 Bg5 36.Re2 Bf4 37.Nf1 e4 38.Kh1 Be5 39.g5 d4 40.Nd2 e3 41.Nf3 Qe4 42.Ree1 d3 43.Rxd3 Qxd3 44.Nxe5 Qc3 45.Nf3+ e5 46.Re2 e4 47.Ng1 Qd4 48.Nh3 Qd1+ 49.Ng1 Qd2! The beginning of the end. 50.Kh2 Kf7 51.Kg3 Ke6 52.Kh2 Kf5 53.g3 Kxg5 54.Kg2 Kg4 55.c5 Qd4 56.b4 Qxb4 57.Rxe3 Qd2+ 58.Re2 Qd3 59.Kf2 Qxg3+ 0-1, Benjamin-Ginsburg, NYC 1981. This game wound up in an early Kasparov / Keene “BCO” oeuvre.

White can also play 11. Bd3 Be7 12. O-O O-O (or 12… b5 13. Nd2 Nb4 14. Be2 O-O 15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. a3 Nc6 17. Nd5 Nd4 18. c3 Nxe2+ 19. Qxe2 Rc5 with an OK game) 13. Qe1 Nb4 14. Ne3 Ng4 15. Bxe7 Qxe7 16. a3 Nxd3 17. cxd3 Nxe3 18. Qxe3 and white went on to win, 1-0 [37], Nijboer,F (2375)-Ligterink,G (2455)/Wijk aan Zee 1988/EXT 1997.

11… Bxd5 12. exd5 Possible is 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. exd5 (or 13. Qxd5!?; according to my scorepad, this occurred in Kudrin-MG, NYC Futurity Swiss 1981. I rated the position as unclear. There might follow 13…Nb4 14. Qd2 d5 15. exd5 Qxd5 and white can claim a small edge.) In this game, white tries a dubious gambit but I am able to refute it.

12… Ne7 13. Qd3 Nexd5! 14. O-O-O (1:04) Rc5! (1:16) A strong TN. Black is better after accepting the center pawn gambit.


Position after 14…Rc5! – black won the opening discussion.

15. f4 Qc7 16. fxe5 dxe5 17. Qf5? 17. Qb3 Be7 18. Ne3 h6 19. Nxd5 Nxd5 20. Bxe7 Nxe7 and white is worse, but not yet lost.

17… Be7 18. Nd2 (1:41) g6! 19. Qf3 Rxc2+ 20. Kb1 O-O (1:39) Now black is just winning.

21. Bd3 Rc6 22. h4 Nb4 23. h5 Nxd3 24. Qxd3 Nxh5 25. Ne4 f5 26. Qd5+ Kg7 27. Bxe7 (1:58) Qxe7 28. Nd6 Nf6? A more tactically alert player would find the much stronger is 28… Nf4 29. Qd2 Rf6 and white’s knight is trapped! The text unnecessarily prolongs the game but the final result is not affected since white had no time left to think.

29. Qd2 Ng4 30. Qb4 Rc7 (1:56) 31. Qb6 Nf6 32. Qe3 Rd7 33. Qh6+ Kg8 34. Nc4 Rxd1+ 35. Rxd1 And white lost on time. Columbia won the match 3-1.


In the next game I faced sharpshooter Dmitri London, a very dangerous and active opponent. I attach the USCF ratings at the time as a historical curiosity. I believe we lost Dmitri to the workforce at some point in the late 80’s or early 90s.

M. Ginsburg (2478, Columbia “A”) – Dmitri London (2383, Brooklyn College) Gruenfeld Defense.

Round 7.


1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 d5 5. Qa4+ Bd7 6. Qb3 dxc4 7. Qxc4 O-O 8. e4 Bg4 9. Ne5 Nc6! Excellent. Black gains full equality.

10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. f3 Be6 12. Qa4 Nd7 13. Be3 Nb6 14. Qb4 Qd6 15. Qxd6 cxd6 16. O-O-O Rab8 17. Bg5 Rfe8 18. h4 h6 19. Bf4 a5 20. g3 a4 21. Rh2 Rb7 22. Rc2 White’s maneuvers are slow and ponderous, but enough to hold the balance.

22…Reb8 23. Kb1 Nc4 24. Bxc4 Bxc4 25. e5 g5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. Bxg5 dxe5 28. Nxa4 Rb4 29. Nc5 exd4 30. a3 d3 31. Nxd3 Ra4 32. Bf4 Rd8? A mistake. 32… e5! is right – this surprising move gives equality: 33. Nxe5 Bb3 34. Rd3 Bxc2+ 35. Kxc2 Rb5 36. Re3 Rc5+ 37. Kb1 Rb5 38. Ka2 Ra8 39. Nc4 Rd5 40. Kb1 Bd4 41. Re7 Rh5 – about equal.

33. Rcd2 Be6 34. Ne5 Rxd2 35. Rxd2 c5 36. Rd8+ Kh7 37. Kc2 Ra7 38. Nc6 Rb7 39. Be5 f6 40. Bf4 Bd7 41. Na5 Ra7 42. b4 In this pleasant position and obviously superior position, I offered a draw here to clinch a win for our team.

42… Ba4+ Black refuses! He is battling for his team – but he has a bad game!

43. Kd2 Ra6 44. Be3 cxb4 45. axb4 Nothing much has changed – I offer a draw again.

45…f5 And black declines again! Good fighting spirit, but what can be accomplished on the board?

46. g4 fxg4 47. fxg4 Re6 48. Rd5 Re4 Now black offers a draw. But it’s now painfully clear white can play on with no risk. And so I advance my passed pawn.

49. b5 Rxg4?! Black immediately goes wrong. He should sacrifice to get rid of the potential threat with 49… Bxb5 50. Rxb5 Rxg4 51. Nc6 Kg6 52. Nxe7+ Kf7 53. Nf5 Rg2+ 54. Kd3 Rb2 55. Ra5 Rb3+ 56. Ke4 Rb4+ 57. Kd5 Bf6 and it should be drawn.

50. b6 Rg2+ 51. Kd3 e6? A decisive mistake. Correct is 51… Bc2+! 52. Kc4 Be4! 53. Rd1 Kg6 54. Kb5 Bf3 55. Rg1 Rxg1 56. Bxg1 Ba8 57. Ka6 Bd5 and black will be able to hold this.

52. Rh5+ Kg6 53. Rc5 It’s now winning for white.

53…Bd1 54. b7 Be2+ 55. Ke4 Rg4+ 56. Bf4 Black resigned. We won the match 3-1.



And finally here’s a battle from the last round.

James Thibault (2318, Rhode Island College “A”) – M. Ginsburg (2478, Columbia “A”) Round 8. Sicilian, 2. c3.

My opponent won the 1977 National High School on tiebreaks – see the amusing National High School history page written by Steve Immitt. I was present at that tournament but lost chances at top honors when I claimed a win on time in the penultimate round but my opponent, Mark Stein, stunned me by ignoring my valid claim (I neglected to stop the clocks, or even more radically seize the clock as I have seen many excited players do) and simply making a move. I then made a move in reply and got up to get the TD, nullifying my claim. Bravo! It pays to know the rules in these common situations.

1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O cxd4 8. cxd4 Be7 9. Nc3 Qd6 10. Be3 O-O 11. Rc1 a6 12. a3 Rd8 Very solid but a little passive.

13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Bxe4


Position after 14. Bxe4

14…Bf6 Playable is 14… Bd7 15. d5 exd5 16. Qxd5 Qxd5 17. Bxd5 Be8 18. Be4 Bf6 19. b4 Bd7 20. h3 and drawn shortly, 1/2-1/2 Short,N (2485)-Sosonko,G (2575)/Amsterdam 1982.

15. Qc2 g6 Bad is 15…h6? 16. Rfd1 Ne7 17. Ne5 Nd5 18. Nc4 Qc7 19. Qb3 b5 20. Ne5 Bxe5 21. Rxc7 Bxc7 22. Rc1 Bb7 23. Rxc7 Nxc7 24. Bxb7 and white won, 1-0 Iordachescu,V (2601)-Dutreeuw,M (2389)/Turin 2006.

16. Rfd1 Ne7 17. Ne5 Nd5 18. Ng4 Bg7 19. Bg5 Rf8 Stronger is 19… f6! 20. Bxd5 exd5 21. Nh6+ Bxh6 22. Bxh6 Bf5 and it is equal.

20. Bxd5?! 20. Nh6+ Kh8 21. Qc5 Qxc5 22. Rxc5 b6 23. Rc6 Rb8 is only a tiny bit worse for black.

20… exd5 21. Nh6+ Kh8 22. Qc7 Qxc7 23. Rxc7 Be6! Black is all right.


Position after 23…Be6! Black stands well.

24. Be3 If 24. Rxb7 there is a tactical trick: 24…f6 25. Bd2 g5! black has a good game: 26. Bb4 Bxh6 27. Bxf8 Bxf8 28. Rb6 Bf7 29. Rxf6 Kg7 30. Rc6 Be7.

24… b5 25. Rc6 a5 26. b3?? A bad mistake fatally weakening the queenside pawns.

26…Rfc8 27. Rdc1 Rxc6 28. Rxc6 Bf8 29. Bf4 Maybe black will overlook the mate threat?

29…Kg7 30. Bc1 Re8? Easily winning is the simple tactical sequence 30… a4! 31. b4 (31. bxa4 Rxa4 32. h3 – sadly white has to waste time to extricate the h6 knight – 32…Bxa3 33. Bxa3 Rxa3 34. Ng4 b4 35. Rb6 b3 and wins) 31…Bxb4! and wins rapidly and efficiently.

31. g4 In this terrible position, white offers a draw! Black of course declines.

31…Bd7 32. Rc7 Re1+ 33. Kg2 Rxc1! White could resign after this simple blow. However, black shows shaky technique at several points and we reach a weird ending: R, B and wrong rook pawn versus Rook!

34. Rxd7 Kxh6 35. Rxf7 Bxa3 36. h4 g5? Very easy was 36… Rc3 37. f3 g5 38. hxg5+ Kxg5 39. Rxh7 Rc2+ 40. Kf1 Kf4 and wins in a few moves.

37. Rf6+ Kg7 38. hxg5 Be7 39. Rb6 b4 40. Rb7 Kf7 41. Ra7 Ra1?! Simple was 41… Rd1 42. f4 Rxd4 43. Kf3 Rd3+ 44. Kf2 Rxb3 and wins.

42. f4 Ra2+ 43. Kg3 a4? 43… Ra3 is yet another simple win. Now the game enters the tortuous ending phase.

44. bxa4 Ra3+ 45. Kf2 b3 46. Rb7 Rxa4 47. Rxb3 Rxd4 48. Kf3 Bd6 49. Rb7+ Kg8 50. f5 Rf4+ 51. Ke2 d4 52. f6 Bf8 53. Rd7 Rxg4 54. Kf3 Rxg5 55. Rxd4 Rg6 56. Rf4 Kf7 57. Rh4 Bh6 58. Ra4 Rxf6+ 59. Kg4 Kg6 60. Rb4 Bg5 61. Rb7 h5+ 62. Kg3 h4+ 63. Kg2 Kh5 64. Rb4 Rc6 65. Kh3 Rc3+ 66. Kh2 Be7 67. Rd4 Bf6 68. Re4 Bd8 69. Rb4 Bc7+ 70. Kh1 Kg5 71. Ra4 Bf4 72. Ra1 Kg4 73. Rg1+ Bg3 74. Rg2 Kh3 75. Rh2+ Kg4 76. Rg2


Position after 76. Rg2. Care is required.

Naturally black has to be alert to stalemate tricks and not trade rooks with the wrong rook pawn, if white’s king is near the h1 corner!

76…Rc1+ 77. Rg1 Rc6 78. Rg2 Kf3 79. Rg1 Rc2 80. Rg2 Bf2 81. Kh2 Rc1 82. Kh3 Bg3 83. Rg1 Rc2 84. Rg2? A mistake. Tougher is 84. Rh1 (not 84. Rf1+ Rf2 85. Rh1 Kf4! with zugzwang) 84…Rf2 85. Rf1! Ke3! This is the right move, to triangulate to f4. 86. Rh1 Kf4! with the same zugzwang as in the prior note. Or, 86. Re1+ Kf4 87. Rh1 Kf5! with a similar zugzwang. White’s rook is tied to h2, defending the mate, and he has no moves.

84…Rf2! And in light of 85. Rxf2 Kxf2! giving the white king an escape hatch at g4 to release the stalemate but not letting him back to the h1 corner, White resigned.


The match was drawn 2-2. (RIC “A” vs Columbia).