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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Leo Shedlovsky Spits the Hook

     The following game was played in one of the Dimock theme tournaments that were organized at the Marshall CC in New York City between 1921-1926. These events were sponsored by Edwin Dimock of New London, Connecticut, who donated prizes.
     Not much is known of the winner, Leo Shedlovsky (May 6,1901 – August, 1980) except that he born in Russia and died in New York City and he was the author of a number od scientific articles. He was probably the brother of Dr. Theodore Shedlovsky (1898-1976) a Russian-born American chemist noted for his work of applying electro-chemistry to life processes and living cells. 
     In 1922, Leo was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology chess club. The November 10, 1938 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle mentioned that he announced the moves in Koltanowski’s blindfold exhibition at the Men’s Faculty Club of Columbia University in New York City. 
     Fred Reinfeld (January 27, 1910 – May 29, 1964) needs no introduction. He was a prolific author, having written or co-written well over 100 books on a wide variety of subjects. His chess books are mostly remembered as “pot boilers” or books that were badly written and aimed at rank beginners. However, his early chess books were excellent, but he wasn’t make any money writing good chess books so started cranking out the bad ones. 
     What’s not well known is that in his day Reinfeld was a pretty decent player…he was one of the strongest players in the country from the early 1930s to the early 1940s; he withdrew from most tournament play after 1942.
     The first USCF rating list was published in November of 1950 and Reuber Fine held the top spot at 2817. Samuel Reshevsky was next at 2770, but he was listed as inactive, meaning he had not played in any tournament since January, 1947.
     The players listed as Semior Masters were; Alex Kevitz (Active-2610), Arthur Dake (Active-2598), Albert Simonson (Inactive-2596), FredReinfeld (Inactive-2593), Armold Denker (Active-2575), Isaac Kashdan (Active-2574), I.A. Horowitz (Active-2558), Abraham Kupchik (Inactive-2538), David Polland (Inactive-2521), and George Treysman (Inactive-2521.
     As a player Reinfeld won the New York State Championship, in 1931 and in 1933.he was undefeated in all 11 games finishing ahead of Reuben Fine, Anthony Santasiere and Arnold Denker. 
     In 1932, he played in the Pasadena International tournament and placed 7-10th; the winner was world champion Alexander Alekhine. Reinfeld qualified twice for the finals of the U.S. Championship. In 1938 and 1940 he finished in the middle oif the table.

  A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Dimock Theme Tournament, New York"] [Site ""] [Date "1926.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Leo Shedlovsky"] [Black "Fred Reinfeld"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C51"] [Annotator "ShashChess 32"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "1926.??.??"] {Evans Gambit Accepted} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 {The P offer is designed to divert the black B and so allow white to follow up with c3 and d4 gaining control of the center.} Bxb4 {Black can decline with 4...Bb6, but many experts consider it to be weaker. This does not seem to be the case according to the statistics in my database. Accepted: white scores +53 -35 =12. Declined white scores: +29 -33 =28 (scores are in percentages)} 5. O-O Nf6 6. c3 { Where should the B retreat? 6...Ba5 (most popular and statistically the best), 6...B37, 6...Bd6 (the Stone -Ware Defense which reinforces the e5-Pawn and has been played by several GMs such as Andrei Volokitin, Alexander Grischuk and Loek van Wely) or 6...Bc5} Be7 {This is Lasker's Defence and it is considered one of the safer retreats. It has been played by Viswanathan Anand.} 7. d4 d6 { [%mdl 32]} (7... Na5 {I could find no examples from actual play from this position, but supposedly Kasparov once played 8.Be2 here. The text ia recommended by the engines.} 8. Bxf7+ Kxf7 9. dxe5 d5 (9... Ng4 10. Qd5+ { is good for white.}) 10. exf6 Bxf6 11. exd5 Re8 {with about equal chances.}) ( 7... Nxe4 {This is likely black's best reply. After} 8. dxe5 d6 9. Re1 Nc5 { the chances are equal.}) 8. Ng5 {This attack on f7 turns out to be fruitless. Continuing his development with 8.Bbd2 was better.} (8. Ba3 {lead to a wild game in Allajov,R (2130)-Javakhadze,Z (2455) Poti GEO 2013} exd4 9. cxd4 O-O 10. e5 dxe5 11. dxe5 Bxa3 12. Nxa3 Ng4 13. Qxd8 Rxd8 14. Nb5 Ngxe5 15. Nxe5 Nxe5 16. Nxc7 {black is better and he went on to win.}) 8... O-O 9. f4 (9. Nxf7 Rxf7 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7 {white has a R vs B+N. The two minor pieces can cover more squares than Rook and so the position favors black. Arthur Bisguier once wrote that (other things being equal) against a lesser opponent he thought he could win with either side. No surprise there.}) 9... h6 10. Nxf7 {White might as well play this because passive play does not yield any advantage.} (10. Nf3 { is really not any better!} Nxe4 11. fxe5 dxe5 12. Qe1 Nd6 13. Bb3 exd4 14. cxd4 {Black has a decisive advantage. Polster,C (2236)-Dwilewicz,K (2079) chess.com INT 2022}) (10. fxe5 {also favors black.} dxe5 11. Nf3 exd4 12. e5 Ne4 13. cxd4 Bg4 14. Bb2 Ng5 {Black is better. Andersen,G (1788)-Almer,J (1916) Oslo 2009}) 10... Rxf7 11. Bxf7+ Kxf7 12. fxe5 dxe5 13. Qh5+ {Technically black has what should amount ti a decisive advantage, but as we will soon see, his position is not so easy to play! At the time of this game the 25-year old Shedlovsky was an established Master while the 16-yera old Reinfeld had not reached his full potential.} Kg8 14. Qg6 Kh8 {the obvious threat was 14.Bxh6} 15. d5 Na5 { While black maintains the advantage after this move it is not nearly as great as before. 15...Bc5+ was deadly.} (15... Bc5+ $19 16. Kh1 Ne7 {From here the N can defend against wgite's K-side attack rendering it harmless..}) 16. Na3 { White misses a great opportunity.} (16. Bxh6 {Black can fend off the attack, but at least white has picked up a P.} Qf8 17. Bg5 {Black is better.}) 16... b6 17. Rb1 Bd7 18. Bxh6 {Unfortunately for white, while this is his best move, it's ot quite as good as it would have been on move 16.} gxh6 {This is a major error in tht it allows white to completely equalize.} (18... Qg8 19. Bg5 Qh7 20. Qxh7+ Kxh7 {White has a R+P vs. B+N. Technically black is much better, but practically it probably should be considered unclear.}) 19. Qxh6+ Nh7 {This self-imposed pin is a serious mistake. Not only is the N pinned, but worse yet, it allows the invasion of white's R. After 18...Qg8 white would be advised to take the draw by repetition.} 20. Rf7 {[%mdl 128] Effectively ending the game.. .at least you would think, but as someone once said, "It's not over 'til it's over."} Bc5+ 21. Kh1 Qg8 {White to play and win.} 22. Rxd7 {Obvious...and wrong. There's only one winning move.} (22. Qh5 {This clever move, threatening Qxe5+, was the only winner.} Re8 {The e-Pawn must be defended and now} 23. Rxd7 {wins.}) 22... Rf8 (22... Bxa3 23. Rxc7 Rf8 24. d6 Rf2 25. Rg1 {Black has only a slight advantage.}) 23. Qh5 Bxa3 24. Qxe5+ Nf6 25. Rf1 {[%mdl 1056] Planning a R-lift and Rh3} Qg6 {aiming for ...Nc4.} 26. Rf3 {Black has completely fallen apart over the last several moves, but the game is not over yet if he finds the correct defense.} Nc4 {[%mdl 8192] Which he does not.} (26... Qxe4 { leads to mate.} 27. Rh3+ Qh7 28. Rhxh7+ Kg8 29. Rdg7#) (26... Bc1 {Far from obvious, this allows black to interpose the B after a R check on h3.} 27. Rh3+ Bh6 28. Rxc7 {and black has two moves to keep the chances equal: 28...Kg8 and 22...b5}) 27. Rh3+ Kg8 28. Qe6+ Rf7 29. Rg3 Qxg3 30. Qxf7+ Kh8 31. hxg3 { Black resigned.} (31. Qxf6+ {mates} Kg8 32. Qf7+ Kh8 33. Qh7#) 1-0

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

The Double Muzio Gambit

     In the Muzio Gambit white sacrifices a Knight for a large lead in development and attacking chances. 
     The opening was originally analyzed in the late 1600s, but the first recorded game was by a Neapolitan player named Geronimo Cascio that was published in 1634. The name Muzio Gambit originated in the early 1800s when it was incorrectly named by the English chess writer Jacob Sarratt in his translation of an Italian work. In the gambit as played by the then in effect Italian rules castling was accomplished by placing the King on h1 and Rook on f1. This resulted in an even stronger attack because checks by the Queen or Bishop on the a7-g1 diagonal are no longer available as a defense. 
     The opening reached its peak popularity in the mid-1800s in what was known as the Romantic Era. Those were the days when sacrifices and early attacks were considered the only correct way to play. 
     When players like Louis Paulsen and Wilhelm Steinitz came along with their newfangled defensive play the Muzio’s popularity declined. 
     Today we are going to take a look at the Double Muzio which, according to GM Raymond Keener, is the best version of the Muzio. It is very dangerous against an unprepared opponent, but its soundness has been called into question. 
A game that I liked (Fritz 17)
[Event "Monte Carlo"] [Site "?"] [Date "1902.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Frank Marshall"] [Black "Charles Moreau"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C37"] [Annotator "ShashChess 32"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2023.??.??"] [SourceVersionDate "2023.05.26"] {Double Muzio Gambit} 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. Bc4 g4 5. O-O {White offers a N in the hopes of exploiting black's weakness on the f-file and launching an attack on black’s King. The Muzio continues} gxf3 6. Qxf3 Qf6 { This is thematic starting position in the Muzio. Black's move is definitely best because it not only blocks the f-file but also impedes the formation of white P-center with d4.} 7. e5 {This is the most logical. White sacrifices another P to open up new lines for attack. A more reserved continuation is the wimpy 7.d3} (7. d3 Nc6 8. Bxf4 d6 9. Nc3 Qg7 10. Rae1 Bg4 11. Qf2 O-O-O { Black stands well. Wojdyla,A (1782)-Panjer,S (2140) Ceske Budejovice 2022}) (7. c3 {A seemingly reasonable attempt to force d4, but it also offers white little.} d6 8. d4 Bh6 9. Na3 Ne7 10. e5 dxe5 11. dxe5 Qg6 {Here, too, black stands very well. Arribas Lopez,A (2559)-Aguera Naredo,J (2358) Linares 2015}) 7... Qxe5 {Now white has a choice. He can play the still wimpy 8.d3 or he can do what the he-men of old did and sacrifice another piece by playing the Double Muzio Gambit.} 8. Bxf7+ {This is the Double Muzio Gambit which, according to GM Raymond Keene, is the best version of the Muzio. It is very dangerous against an unprepared opponent, but its soundness has been called into question. The SashChess 32 engine evaluates it as being only very slightly inferior to the more usual 8.d3, but in either case black’s position is evaluated to be better by about a P and a half.} (8. d3 {The modern way.} Bh6 9. Nc3 Ne7 10. Bd2 Nbc6 11. Rae1 Qf5 12. Nd5 Kd8 {An interesting position. White almost always plays 13.Bc3 and it has brought great success. However, engine highly disapprove of that move evaluating it as leaving black with a winning position. Instead, the recommended move is 13.Qe2, but the position remains in black's favor by about 3/4 of a P.}) (8. Nc3 Qd4+ 9. Kh1 Qxc4 10. d3 Qe6 11. Bxf4 {Black's position remains quite solid. De Boer, A (1710)-Lebon,J (2070) Bethune 2001}) (8. b3 {This old move is not very effective either.} d5 9. Bxd5 Ne7 10. Bc4 Nbc6 11. c3 Bf5 12. d4 Qe4 {Black has an excellent position. Tartakower,S-Leonhardt,P Vienna 1908} 13. Qf2 Be6 14. Bxf4 O-O-O 15. Nd2 Qg6 16. Nf3 Rg8 17. Rad1 Nd5 18. Nh4 Qg4 19. Bxd5 Rxd5 20. c4 Rh5 21. Bg3 Bd6 22. d5 Rxh4 {Tartakower,S-Leonhardt,P Vienna 1908 ½-½ (33)}) 8... Kd8 (8... Kxf7 9. d4 Qxd4+ {Scottish GM John Shaw sharply criticizes this because it grabs a meaningless Pawn, opens another line for ehite's attack and makes the black Q vulnerable on the dark squares,. Engines recommend 9...Qf4 and GM Neil McDonald suggests that 9...Qf5 may be the only playable move.} 10. Be3 Qf6 11. Bxf4 {British correspondence GM Peter Millican asserts that the position is objectively equal. Engines agree.} Ke8 12. Nc3 $1 $14 Nc6 13. Nd5 $16 Qg6 14. Rae1+ Be7 $2 {[%mdl 8192]} 15. Bd6 Kd8 16. Qf8+ Bxf8 17. Bxc7# {Black resigned. Shirov,A (2500)-Lapinski,J (2200) Daugavpils 1990}) 9. d4 Qxd4+ 10. Kh1 Bh6 11. Bd2 {Slightly better would have been 11.Nc3} Qg7 {Excellent...the Q is well placed here.} (11... Qxb2 {is much too greedy and white would be winning after} 12. Bc3 Qxc2 13. Bxh8) 12. Bb3 Nc6 (12... Qxb2 {This was wrong last move and it's still wrong.} 13. Bc3 {Traps the Q and after} Qxa1 14. Bxa1 {the R falls, too.}) 13. Bc3 Ne5 14. Qd5 d6 15. Rd1 { White threat to take advantage of the pin cand capture on e5 can be easilt dealt with.} Bd7 16. Ba4 {Hoping to eliminated the B and again threaten to tak on e5.} Bc6 {[%mdl 8192] This is worth a couple of question marks because the advantage swings to white.} (16... f3 {Threatens mate, so...} 17. g3 Ne7 { White has no satisfactory relpy to this.} 18. Qxe5 (18. Qb3 b5 19. Bxb5 Rb8 20. Na3 f2 21. Kg2 Rf8 22. Bxe5 Qxe5 23. Qc4 Rxb5) 18... dxe5 19. Rxd7+ Kc8 { and wins.}) 17. Bxc6 bxc6 {Marginally better was 17...Ke7, but white would still have a decisive advantage.} 18. Qxe5 Qg4 (18... Qxe5 19. Bxe5 {and the R goes off to the side of the board.}) 19. Na3 Kd7 {Marshall disdains the gain of more material and goes for the attack.} 20. Nc4 (20. Qxh8 f3 21. Rg1 Rf8 22. Qxh7+ Kc8 23. gxf3 Qxf3+ 24. Rg2 Be3 25. Qd3 {White is winning.}) 20... f3 { This allows a mate in 13(!), but he was lost in any case.} (20... Bg7 {meets with a pretty refutation.} 21. Rxd6+ cxd6 22. Qxd6+ Ke8 23. Qxc6+ Kf7 24. Nd6+ Kg6 25. Qe4+ Kh5 26. h3 Qg5 27. g4+ fxg3 28. Qf3+ Kh6 29. Nf7+ Kg6 30. Nxg5) 21. Rxd6+ {[%mdl 512] White mates.} cxd6 22. Qxd6+ Kc8 23. Qxc6+ Kd8 24. Rd1+ Ke7 25. Qd6+ Ke8 26. Re1+ Kf7 27. Ne5+ {[%mdl 32]} Ke8 28. Ng6+ Kf7 29. Nxh8# 1-0

Friday, May 26, 2023

Flogging Fischer

     The 1st Canadian Open was held in Montreal from August 25th through September 2nd, 1956, and William Lombardy and Larry Evans shared first place. The top Canadians were Povilas Vaitonis and Lionel Jotner who shared third place with James T. Sherwin, Edmar Mednis and Atillio DiCamillo. 
     A young Brooklyn player by the name of Bobby Fischer, a promising junior facing one of his first real tests against master opposition, was also playing. 
     He won from G. Lepine, Jr., J.C. Boyer, V. Judzentavicius, W.A. Walz, C. Sharp and Sidney Bernstein. He drew with H. Matthai and Frank Anderson. He suffered losses against 27th placed Robert Sobel (the featured game) and Maurice Fox. 

     A short time after this event, the 13-year old Fischer played in the 1956 Rosenwald tournament (which later became the official U.S. Championship event) where he tied for 8th (out of 12) with Herbert Seidman with a score of 4.5-6.5. This was the tournament where Fischer played the Game of the Century when he defeated Donald Byrnem who tied for places 5-7 with a 5.5-5.5 score. Samuel Reshevsjy won the tournament two full points ahead of Arthur Bisguier. 
     Fischer’s opponent in the following game was Robert Sobel who was Pennsylvania State Champion in 1953. He born in Philadelphia in 1934. He retired from a job doing inventory management for the Navy. As far as I could determine Sobol is still living and makes his home in Virginia.

  A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Canadian Open, Montreal"] [Site ""] [Date "1956.08.26"] [Round "2"] [White "Robert Sobel"] [Black "Robert Fischer"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A49"] [Annotator "ShashChess 32"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "1956.??.??"] {Sicilian Dragon} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d6 6. Nc3 c5 7. e4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc6 9. Nde2 Bd7 10. b3 {A never before seen move, but not a bad idea...white opposes black's Dragon Bishop. Other moves are 10.h3, 10.Nd5 and 10.Bg5} Qc8 11. Bb2 Bh3 12. f3 Bxg2 13. Kxg2 d5 14. exd5 Rd8 15. Qc1 Nb4 { Black has a slightly more active position, but it's doubtful tht he will be able to make much out of it.} 16. a3 Nbxd5 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. c4 Qe6 20. Qb2+ (20. cxd5 {is less favorable.} Qxe2+ 21. Rf2 Qe5 22. Qe1 (22. Rd2 Rxd5 23. Rxd5 Qxd5 {and black is a P uo.}) 22... Rxd5 23. Qxe5+ Rxe5 24. Rd1 { Here, too, black is a P up, but making progress will be very difficult, if not impossible.}) 20... Nf6 21. Nf4 {So far the game has been rather colorless and it seems to be heading for a draw after 21...Qd6 or 21.Qd7, but Fischer's next move results in him making a chink in his position which Sobol manages to exploit.} Qf5 22. Nd5 (22. Rae1 {is a stronger continuation. After} Kf8 23. Rf2 (23. Nd5 Nxd5 24. Qh8#) 23... Qg5 24. Re5 Qh6 25. Rfe2 Rd7 26. Qc1 {Black is under considerable pressure, but he can probably hold on.}) 22... e6 {[%mdl 8192] This loses!} (22... e5 {was absolutely essential.} 23. g4 Qg5 24. h4 Qxh4 {is identical to the position in the game but now 25.Rh1 is met by} 25. Rh1 ( 25. Qxe5 {This is the correct move and it results in fully equal chances after 25...Re8}) 25... Qg5 {and because the P is on e5 and not e6 the R sac on h7 loses and so in this position it is black who stands better.} 26. Rxh7+ { This loses. His best try was 26.Rad1} Kxh7 27. Rh1+ Kg7 {and there is no followup so black wins.}) 23. g4 {Sobol finishes the game with several hammer blows.} Qg5 24. h4 {The opening of the h-file will prove fatal to black, but he has little choice.} Qxh4 (24... Qh6 25. g5 Qh5 26. Qxf6+ Kg8 27. Ne7+ Kf8 28. Rad1 Qxh4 29. Rxd8+ Rxd8 30. Nxg6+ hxg6 31. Qxd8+ {mates in 7.} Kg7 32. Qf6+ Kh7 33. Rd1 Qxg5+ 34. Qxg5 Kg7 35. Qe5+ f6 36. Rd7+ Kh6 37. Qxf6 e5 38. Qh4#) 25. Rh1 Qg5 26. Rxh7+ {[%mdl 512]} Kf8 (26... Kxh7 27. Nxf6+ Kg7 28. Ne4+ Rd4 29. Nxg5 {wins}) 27. Qxf6 {Fischer resigned. Impressive and very precise play by Sobol.} (27. Qxf6 Qxf6 28. Nxf6 Ke7 (28... Rd3 29. Rh8+ Kg7 30. Rxa8 Kxf6) 29. g5 {Black simply does not have enough compensation for the piece. Some examples...} Rd3 (29... Rd2+ 30. Kg3 Rad8 31. Re1 R8d4 32. Ng8+ Kf8 33. Rh8 R2d3 34. Nf6+ Ke7 35. Re8+ Kd6 36. Rc8 Rxb3 37. c5+ Ke7 38. Re8#) 30. Ng4 Rxb3 31. Ne5 Kd6 (31... Rc8 32. Rd1 Rxc4 33. Nxg6+ Ke8 34. Rh8#) 32. Nxf7+ Kc5 33. Rh8 Rxh8 34. Nxh8 Kxc4 35. Nxg6 b5 36. Nf8 Re3 37. g6 {wins}) 1-0

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Battle Between Unknowns

     Looking out my front window this morning I saw a plastic water bottle sitting at the end of my driveway that someone had thoughtlessly left. After picking it up and walking back up the driveway I almost stepped on a small bird, but it hopped 5-6 feet away. 
     Walking up to it elicited no response other than it looking up at me. I thought it was injured, but then I heard loud squawking behind me and sitting on the porch railing was momma robin. Daddy robin was nearby also, sitting in the grass.
     After I backed off momma swooped down and chased her baby up the driveway...it only flew a few inches off the ground and maybe 30 feet before landing in the grass. 
     I had witnessed a baby robin that was just learning to fly! Robins are one of the earliest birds to nest and their breeding season usually begins in March. They start laying their eggs between mid-April and mid-August. Juvenile robins leave the nest between 14 and 16 days after hatching. AT that time they “fledge.” At that time it’s wings and tail may be short and it may not be a great flyer, but it can walk, hop, or flutter. 
     It has left the nest, though its parents may be nearby, taking good care of it. After leaving the nest, they will stay nearby with their parents for up to three weeks. 
     I can’t remember 1950 because I was only five, but it was the year the Korean War began when North Korean Communist forces invade South Korea. The war lasted three years and I have vague recollections of my sister’s boyfriend sitting in our living room after having been discharged from the Army due to wounds he received in Korea. 
     In the chess world two chessplayers were lost in 1950. Former Manhattan Chess Club president and chess patro Maurice Wertheim died at the age of 64. He was former president of n.And, former USSR Champion Boris Velinsky died in Moscow at the age of 62. 
     It was the year that the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) was formed. In July, FIDE awarded its first Grandmaster title to 27 players: Bernstein, Boleslavsky, Bondarevsky, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Duras, Euwe, Fine, Flohr, Gruenfeld, Keres, Kostic, Kotov, Levenfish, Lilienthal, Maroczy, Mieses, Najdorf, Ragozin, Reshevsky, Saemisch, Smyslov, Stahlberg, Szabo, Tartakower, and Vidmar. 
     They also awarded theInternational Master title to 94 players and International Women Master to 17 players. 
     In January, Liudmila Rudenko won the 2nd Women's World Championship, held in Moscow. 
     On the international tournament scene Laszlo Szabo of Hungary won the annula Hastings 1949/50 Christmas tournament. The U.S. etry, 17-year old Larry Evans finished 4th with a +3 -2 =4. Not bad! Second place was taken by Nicolas Rossolimo and third by Max Euwe. Evans to losses were to Szabo and Rossolimo and he drew with Euwe. 
     Samuel Reshevsky was invited to the Candidates’ tournament in Budapest, but the State Department wouldn’t let Americans travel to Hungary. David Bronstein and Isaac Boleslavsky tied for first and Bronstein won playoff.
     The following year Bronstein tied Botvinnik in the World Championship match and so Botvinnik retained his title. Bronstein needed only one point from the last two games to become world champion. Bronstein lost both of those games. 
     Was he forced to lose? In 1950, he told Bobby Fischer that he was. In the book of his best games he wrote that he “was subjected to strong psychological pressure from various origins and it was entirely up to me to yield to that pressure or not.” For his sake it was probably a good idea that he did. 
     In 1950, the Yugoslav team (Gligoric, Pirc, Trifunovic, Rabar, Vidmar junior, Puc) won the Dubrovnik Olympiad. The U.S. team (Samuel Reshevsky, Herman Steiner, I.A, Horowitz, George Shainswit, George Kramer and Larry Evans) finished fourth. 
     In December Miguel Najdorf won the Amsterdam international. Ahead of Samuel Reshevsky. 
     On the home front, Arthur Bisguier won the U.S. Open, held in Detroit. The U.S. Champions was Herman Steiner who won the title in 1948 and held it until 1951 when Larry Evans beat out Samuel Reshevsky. There were no tournaments in ‘49 and ‘50. 
     James B. Cross won the 1950 US Junior championship. It was also the year the first USCF rating list appeared. There were 2306 rated players, Fine was #1 at 2817 and Reshevsky was #2 at 2770. 
     St. Louis, Missouri stands out in my memory because my mother and her sister grew up in an orphanage there in the 19-teens and she often spoke of those days. 
     The city has a rich chess history. Did you know the first ever World Championship match between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort was hosted in three cities: New York City, St. Louis and New Orleans? 
     One of the most prominent names in St. Louis chess was Robert Steinmeyer (1922-1988) who dominated St. Louis Chess from the 1940s through the 1970s. He competed in the U.S. Championship from 1962-1964. He eventually abandoned chess for bridge in the late ‘70s. 
     The following game was played in one of those long forgotten tournaments by unknowns. Well, not entirely unknown because I remember the name of William H. C. Newberry from my early days of playing postal chess with the Correspondence Chess League of America. 
     Both Newberry and his opponent, St. Louis veteran, Harry A. Lew, were Class A rated players. In those days Class A players were rated between 1900 and 2099. Newberry was rated 1903 and Lew was rated 1999.
     The game was played in the 1950 St. Louis District Championship which was won for the seventh time by Steinmeyer who wen undefeated with five wins and four draws. 
     Tied for second, a half point behind, were veterans C. M. Burton and Lewis W. Haller. A half point behind them were B. J. Roesch and Newberry while Lew finished sixth with 5.5-3.5.
     Missouri Champion John Ragan and James Cook were both entered, but they were forced to withdraw when the U.S. Army snagged them in the draft. There’s an interesting history of the draft HERE.
     In 1964 my father forwadred a letter to me from the local draft board informing me that I had beem drafted. I wrote them back telling them I was not going to report...I was with the 2nd Battalin, 2nd Marines and taking part in Operation Steel Pike

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "St. Louis District Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "1950.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "William H. C. Newberry"] [Black "Harry A. Lew"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E21"] [Annotator "ShashChess 32"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "1950.??.??"] {Nimzo-Indian} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 {This was a favorite of Lew because he believed it was really "an offense" and it gives black attacking chances.} 4. a3 {At the time this the Saemisch Variation, was thought to be one of the best ways to get rid of the pin because it was believed that it might become troublesome to white. Nowadays the preference is for 4.Qc2 or 4.e3 } Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 Ne4 {Far more popular is 5...c5, but statistically the results are almost the same as for the move played.} 6. Qc2 f5 7. Nf3 c5 {Usual is 7... b6, but the text seems to be prefectly satisfactory.} 8. d5 (8. e3 Qa5 9. Bb2 b6 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. O-O {is equal. Korolev,A-Fedorov,N Gagarin 2009}) 8... O-O ( 8... Qf6 9. Bb2 e5 10. Nd2 Nxd2 11. Qxd2 d6 12. a4 Nd7 {Black is better. Abramov,V (2337)-Bogdanov,A (2079) St Petersburg 2007}) 9. g3 Qa5 10. Bd2 d6 { Black has emerged from the opening quite well as he has stymied white's ambitions in the center and on the Q-side while maintaining the possibility of attacking on the K-side for himself.} 11. Bg2 (11. dxe6 {is not advisable because after} Bxe6 12. Ng5 (12. e3 Nc6 13. Bd3 Qa6 {white must avoid} 14. Bxe4 fxe4 15. Qxe4 Qxc4 16. Qxc4 Bxc4 17. Ng1 Ne5 {and white is in serious trouble.} ) 12... Bxc4 13. Nxe4 fxe4 14. Qxe4 d5 {with the better position.}) 11... Bd7 ( 11... e5 {was better because white would remained tied up. Now white can play 12.dxe6 with the possibility of getting some play in the center.}) 12. a4 (12. dxe6 {Now that the B is on b2 this is now playable.} Bxe6 13. Ng5 Bxc4 14. Bxe4 Nd7 (14... h6 15. Bxb7) 15. Bxf5 {White is actually winning.} h6 16. Be6+ Rf7 ( 16... Bxe6 17. Qh7#) 17. Qh7+ Kf8 18. Bxc4 hxg5 19. Qh8+ Ke7 20. Qxa8) 12... e5 {Back on track.} 13. O-O Nxd2 14. Nxd2 Be8 15. Rfb1 Qc7 {The Q has done its job on a5 and now seeks opportunities elsewhere.} 16. Rb2 Nd7 {[%mdl 32] The beginning of a very profitable trip!} 17. Qb1 Rb8 18. a5 Bg6 {Better was 18... e4 which would have split white's position.} 19. f4 (19. e4 {was the correct counter in the center because than after} f4 (19... fxe4 {akso results in equality after} 20. Bxe4 Bxe4 21. Nxe4 h6 {Prevents Ng5-e6. This position is also equal.}) 20. Bh3 {the position is equal.}) 19... e4 {Equally good was 19.. .exf4} 20. Nf1 {[%mdl 32]} Nf6 21. Ne3 Rf7 {[%mdl 32]} 22. Bh3 Nh5 {Usually Ns on the a- or h-file are not well placed, but we will see that the N has some possibilities from here.} 23. Nc2 Qe7 24. e3 Qf6 25. Qe1 Re7 26. Na3 a6 { This preventing Nb5, but at the same time it allows white to create some Q-side play. The immediate 26...Be8 was more precise.} 27. Rab1 Be8 {Black has a plan...he is going to open up the g-file and so moves the B out of the way.} 28. Rb6 {With the obvious threat of Rxa6. Lew was well aware of the possibility.} g5 {By offering the b-Pawn Lew initiates a K-side attack. The idea isn't quite sound IF white replies correctly.} 29. Rxa6 {White has a slight advantage after this, but that's noit to say that black's attack is without venom.} gxf4 30. exf4 Rg7 31. Kh1 {[%mdl 8192] Suspecting lurking danger with the R opposite his K, Newberry decided to play it safe and so makes the losing move!} (31. Bg2 {Shields the K and there is no longer a way for black to make a successful K-side attack.} Qg6 {defends against every possibility and leaves white with a solid position.} 32. Qe3) 31... Qh6 { Powerful!} 32. Qf1 Rxg3 (32... Nxg3+ {would also win.} 33. hxg3 Rxg3 34. Kh2 Rf3 35. Qg2+ Kh8 36. Ra7 Qxf4+ {leaves white beaten.}) 33. Bxf5 (33. Rab6 { is better, but not ny much!} Kh8 34. a6 Rf3 35. Qg1 Rxh3 36. Rxb7 Ng3+ 37. Kg2 Qxf4 38. Rxb8 Qf3+ 39. Kxh3 Ne2+ 40. Qg3 Nf4+ 41. Kh4 Qh5#) 33... Rf3 {Black wraps up the game with an energetic finish.} 34. Be6+ Kh8 35. Qg2 Ng3+ 36. Kg1 Qxf4 37. Nc2 {Preventing Qe3+.} bxa6 38. Rxb8 Rf1+ 39. Qxf1 Qxf1# {A fine performance by a couple of class players!} 0-1

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Crushed By Reshevsky

     While we are in the year 1965 (see last post), let’s take a look at some of the high points of that year. 
     On television people were watching Bonanza (a sappy western), Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. (an idiotic show that did not remotely resemble the real Marine Corps in which I was serving) and The Lucy Show (silly slapstick). 
     In 1965, Apple Jacks cereal, Bar One candy bars, Bounty paper towels, Gatorade drink, Honeycomb cereal, ladies’ hair care product Nice ‘n Easy and SpaghettiOs all appeared in the marketplace for the first time. 
     The economy was good. It continued into its fifth consecutive year in what was the longest boom since the end of World War II. 
     A crass, vulgar man named Lyndon B. Johnson was president and he signed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965. The bill required cigarette makers to print health warnings on cigarette packages about the harmful effects of smoking. Those of us who smoked in those days ignored the warnings. 
     The first U.S. combat troops, two battalions of 3,500 Marines, arrived in South Vietnam to defend the American airbase at Da Nang from Viet Cong attacks. By the end of the year, U.S. troop levels in Vietnam reached 184,300. 
     Thanks in a large part to a bungling President Johnson it turned out to be a quagmire that cost us more that 58,000 casualties, over 150,000 wounded and almost 2,000 missing. 
     To his credit, in what was probably the high point of his time in office, President Johnson did sign the Voting Rights Act into law which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote. 
     On February 13, 1965, Samuel Reshevsky won the first National Open in Las Vegas which boasted of a then record-breaking prize fund of $4500 (over $43,000 in today’s dollars). 
     Both Reshevsky and Robert Byrne yielded two draws each and were tied for with 7-1 each. They split the prize money and each got $700 (over $6.700 today), but the title was awarded to Reshevsky on tiebreaks. 

     Nobody knows if if Pal Benko won or lost at the gambling tables, but at the chess tables his luck was definitely bad when he made horrendous blunders in two consecutive games. Against Dr. Ariel Mengarini he overlooked a mate in a winning position and then against Paul Quillen he declined several draws by repetition and guess what? He stumbled into a mate. Rumor had that his problem was lack of sleep as the result of having spent long hours gambling. 
     In the following game Rershevsky dismantles a Class A (1800-1999) rated David C. Korts who finished with an even 4-4 score. 

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "National Open, Las Vegas"] [Site "Las Vegas, NV USA"] [Date "1965.02.08"] [Round "1"] [White "Samuel Reshevsky"] [Black "David Korts"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C74"] [Annotator "ShashChess 32"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "1965.??.??"] {Ruy Lopez: Deferred Steinitz} 1. e4 {Reshevsky rarely played 1.e4 except when he was anticipating a quick kill. Against an 1800 player that was a reasonable expectation.} e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. c3 f5 {What should this opening be called? A Deferred Steinitz or a Deferred Schliemann? I am not really sure, but this move is very sharp. Statistically, in my database it gives black better results than the musch more usual 5...Bd7} 6. exf5 Bxf5 7. d4 e4 {Black is booked up...this is his best move.} (7... b5 {allows white to get the advantage after} 8. Bc2 Bxc2 (8... e4 9. Ng5 d5 10. f3 Be7 11. fxe4 Bxg5 12. Qh5+ Bg6 13. Qxg5 {White is better.}) 9. Qxc2 Nf6 10. a4 {White is slightly better.}) 8. Ng5 d5 (8... Be7 {is another possibility.} 9. d5 b5 10. Bc2 Bxg5 11. Qh5+ Bg6 12. Qxg5 Nce7 {Mista,A (2561)-Krasenkow,M (2608) Germany 2011 Black has a position similar to the one in the note to move 7.}) 9. f3 (9. c4 dxc4 10. Bxc6+ bxc6 11. Qa4 Qd7 12. Nc3 {Chances are equal. Shamkovich, L-Shianovsky,V Baku 1961}) (9. Nh3 Nf6 10. Nf4 Bg4 11. Qc2 Qd6 12. Be3 { Black stands well. Koepke,E (2271)-Osmanodja,F (2348) Germany GER 2018}) (9. Bxc6+ bxc6 10. f3 exf3 11. Qxf3 Nh6 12. Qe3+ {The chances are equal. Malofeev, A (2233)-Silivanov,S (2325) St Petersburg 2009}) 9... Be7 ({Black should play} 9... h6 10. fxe4 hxg5 11. exf5 Bd6 {with about equal chances.}) (9... exf3 { turns out badly after} 10. O-O Bg4 11. Nxf3 Nf6 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 {and the position of black's K is rather precarious.}) 10. fxe4 {White is better.} dxe4 {After this black;s position rapidly deteriorates.} (10... Bxg5 {is a better defense.} 11. Qh5+ Bg6 12. Qxg5 dxe4 13. O-O {with a position similar to those previously mentioned, but here white is clearly better.} Nf6 14. Qe5+ Qe7 15. Qxe7+ Kxe7) 11. O-O {[%mdl 32] It's clear that black is facing some serious difficulties. His K is stuck in the center and danger is lurking on the f- and e-files.} Nh6 (11... Bxg5 12. Rxf5 Bxc1 13. Qxc1 b5 14. Bc2 {is also very precarious for black.}) 12. d5 {A surprising lapse by Reshevsky!} (12. Qh5+ Bg6 13. Qh3 Qd6 14. Ne6 Nf5 15. d5 {and white has an overwhelming positional advantage.}) 12... Bxg5 (12... b5 {This is much more tenacious.} 13. Qh5+ Bg6 14. Qh3 Bxg5 (14... bxa4 {leads to a slaughter.} 15. Ne6 Bc5+ 16. Kh1 Qd7 17. dxc6 Qxc6 18. Nxg7+ Kd8 19. Bg5+ Be7 20. Rd1+) 15. Qe6+ Ne7 16. Bxg5 bxa4 17. Bxe7 Qd7 (17... Qxe7 18. Qc6+ {wins}) 18. Bc5+ Qxe6 19. dxe6 Nf5 {and black has nery nearly equalized.}) 13. dxc6 {Once again 13.Qh5+ was better, but even after the text white has a significant advantage.} b5 {Threatens to win with .. .Bxc1.} 14. Qxd8+ (14. Qh5+ {is still playable, but it is now less effective than had it been played earlier. For example...} Bg6 15. Qxg5 Qxg5 16. Bxg5 bxa4 {and with the reduced material black can be considered to have equalized.} ) 14... Bxd8 15. Bxh6 gxh6 {Only lightly better would have been 15...Bg6} 16. Rxf5 $18 bxa4 17. Nd2 {Reshevsky has avoided any serious calculating of variations and has played for what amounts to an easily won ending.} e3 18. Re5+ Be7 19. Nc4 {Maintaining the pin on the B and repositioning the N is the easiest way to victory.} ({Much less strong is} 19. Rxe3 O-O-O $16 20. Rxe7 { White is better, but double R endings can be difficult to play.} Rxd2) 19... Rf8 20. Nxe3 Rf7 21. Nd5 Kd8 (21... Kf8 22. Nxc7 Bc5+ 23. Rxc5 Rxc7 24. Rf1+ Ke7 25. Re5+ Kd6 26. Ra5 Kxc6 27. Rxa4 {Black is down too many Ps to have any hope of saving the game.}) 22. Rae1 Bc5+ {Black is out of the pin, but white's position is just crushing.} 23. Kh1 Rf8 {This allows a mate in 4, but the alternative only prolonged the mate.} (23... Re7 24. Nxe7 Ke8 25. Rxc5 Rd8 26. Nd5+ Kf7 27. Nxc7 a3 28. bxa3 Rc8 29. Nd5 h5 30. c7 h4 31. Re7+ Kg8 32. Nf6+ Kf8 33. Rxh7 h3 34. Rg5 hxg2+ 35. Rxg2 a5 36. Rg8#) 24. Nf6 {[%mdl 512] Black resigned. All in all, black put up a decent fight against his famous opponent.} (24. Nf6 Be3 25. R5xe3 a5 26. Re8+ Rxe8 27. Rxe8#) 1-0

Monday, May 22, 2023

1965 Noteboom Memorial

     Daniel Noteboom (February 26, 1910 - January 12, 1932) was a Dutch player gained notice at the 1930 Olympiad at Hamburg where he scored 11.5-3.5. His score included a win over a win over Salo Flohr, who at the time was rapidly gaining recognition as one of the world’s best players. 
     Noteboom was born in Noordwijk and learned to play chess at the age of 12, at 14 won a local tournament in Noordwijk and at the age of 15 he was admitted to the Leiden Chess Society as an exception because at the time chess clubs were generally reserved for adult men with social standing. 
     In the next few years he won the championship of the club three times. Shortly after playing at Hastings 1931/2, he soon died of pneumonia in London. A variation of the Queen’s Gambit is named after him. 

     The 25th Daniel Noteboom Memorial, played in Noordwijk in February saw the return to tournament play of former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik who, at the “advanced” age of 54 years old, romped through the field. 
     Larsen’s poor performance plus another poor performance at Zagreb was viewed as an indication that he had poor chances in his upcoming Candidates Match against Borislav Ivkov. It wasn’t. He crushed Ivkov by a score of 5.5-2.5.
     In the semi-finals of the Candidates Larsen was edged out by Tahl. The score was tied 4.5-4.5 and Tahl won the final game. 
     The tournament was held from February 21 to 28, 1965, and the notable participants were former world Mikhail Botvinnik, Danish sensation Bent Larsen and Salo Flohr. 
     Jan Hein Donner. Jacob Kort and Carl Van den Berg were the Dutch players. The others were Bulgarian GM Milko Bobotsov and Yugoslav GM Dr. Petar Trifunovic. 
     Today’s game features Flohr’s win over Larsen. The latter is well remembered. The “Great Dane” Bent Larsen (1935 - 2010) was known for his imaginative and unorthodox style of play and for being the second strongest non-Soviet player, behind Bobby Fischer, for much of the 1960s and 1970s. 
     Few will remember the Czech and later Soviet player and writer Salo Flohr (1908-1983) November 21, 1908 – July 18, 1983) who dominated many tournaments of the pre-World War II years and by the late 1930s was considered a contender for the World Championship. However, his style became more quiet and positional (i.e. boring) and he became content to draw almost all of his games. 

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Noteboom Memorial, Noordwijk"] [Site ""] [Date "1965.02.23"] [Round "?"] [White "Salo Flohr"] [Black "Bent Larsen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B39"] [Annotator "ShashChess 32"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "1965.02.21"] {Sicilian: Maroczy Bind} 1. Nf3 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 c5 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Nc6 7. Be3 Ng4 8. Qxg4 Nxd4 9. Qd1 Ne6 10. Qd2 O-O 11. Be2 d6 12. O-O Bd7 {Worth considering was 13.b4} 13. f4 (13. Rfd1 Bc6 14. f3 a6 15. Nd5 {is equal. Cmilyte,V (2524)-Danielian,E (2476) Beijing 2012}) 13... Bc6 14. Bf3 (14. f5 Nc5 15. Bf3 a5 16. Bh6 Qb6 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 {is equal. Spassky,B (2655)-Savon,V (2575) Moscow 1973}) 14... b6 (14... Qa5 {is much more promising.} 15. Nd5 Qxd2 16. Bxd2 Bxd5 17. cxd5 Bd4+ 18. Kh1 Nc5 {is good for black.}) 15. b4 {White is better here and he also had a promising continuation in 15.f5} (15. f5 Nc5 16. Bh6 Be5 {This offer of the exchange is black's best chance.} 17. Bxf8 Qxf8 18. b4 Nd7 {White can only claim a small advantage owing to the sctivity of black's pieces and his better P-structure.}) 15... Rc8 16. Rac1 f5 {This is risky because it loosens black's position, but Larsen was never afraid of taking a risk.} (16... Re8 17. Rfd1 Nf8 18. a4 Bb7 {position is the more promising. Birnboim,N (2200)-Vilela,J (2260) Graz 1972}) 17. Nd5 Qd7 (17... Bxd5 {eliminating the well placed N is not at all good.} 18. Qxd5 {This move inflicts a fatal pin on the N.} Qd7 19. c5 Rc7 (19... Kh8 20. c6) 20. cxd6 { is decisive.}) 18. exf5 gxf5 19. Rfe1 Nd8 {Now comes a huge surprise. White switches his attack to the Q-side.} 20. Bxb6 {[%mdl 512] Surprise!} e6 (20... axb6 21. Rxe7 {Decisive. The Q is trapped.} (21. Nxb6 {is obvious, but black stands well after} Qa7 22. c5 Rc7 23. Nd5 Rb7) 21... Rc7 22. Rce1 Ra7 (22... Qc8 23. Rxc7 Qxc7 24. Nxc7) 23. Rxd7 Bxd7 24. Nxb6 {White is winning.}) 21. Bxd8 Rfxd8 22. b5 {Making room for the N to reposition itself.} Bb7 (22... Bxd5 {is slightly better. After} 23. cxd5 Rxc1 24. Rxc1 e5 25. fxe5 Bxe5 26. a4 { with a favorable endgame.}) 23. Nb4 Bxf3 24. gxf3 {In a few moves white will use the open g-file to his advantage.} Kh8 (24... d5 {counterattacking is a better practical choise, but white still has a much better position. For example...} 25. Red1 (25. cxd5 Qxb5 26. Rxc8 Rxc8 27. dxe6 Qc5+ 28. Kh1 Bc3 29. Qg2+ Kh8 30. Nd3 Qc4 31. Rd1 Qxe6 {Black has nearly equalized.}) 25... d4 26. Nd3 Qb7 27. Qe2 {and white is clearly better.}) 25. Nc6 Rg8 26. Kh1 a6 27. a4 { [%mdl 32]} axb5 28. axb5 d5 {White has a dominating position and as before, this move offers black little in the way of compensation.} 29. Rg1 (29. cxd5 { Unlike in the previous variation this move is bad here because of} exd5 30. Ne5 Qb7 31. Rxc8 Rxc8 32. Qd3 {with a winning ending.}) 29... Bf6 30. cxd5 { White has a number of playable moves here including 30.Ne5 and 30.Rxg8+} (30. Ne5 {This is probably the best though.} Qb7 31. Rxg8+ Rxg8 32. cxd5 h6 33. Qd4 Kh7 (33... Qxb5 {is tactically faulty.} 34. Nf7+ Kg7 35. Qa7 Qb8 36. Rg1+ Kh7 37. Ng5+ {mate next move}) 34. Qc5 {with a won ending.}) 30... exd5 {[%mdl 32]} 31. Rxg8+ Rxg8 32. Rg1 {This turns out to be a mistake that allows Larsen to equalize. A rather surprising error from a player of Flohr's level... Chessmetrics estimates his rating in 1966 to have been about 2600 placing him in the world's top 60. Larsen's estimated rating was 2699 placing him at #16.} (32. Rd1 {is more precise.} Re8 33. Nd4 (33. Qxd5 {loses} Re1+) 33... Qc7 34. Nxf5 {and white is much better.}) 32... Rxg1+ 33. Kxg1 d4 {The d-Pawn makes itself felt!} 34. Qd3 Qd5 35. Kf1 {[%cal Oc6e5]} Kg7 36. Ne5 Qc5 {[%mdl 8192] Even with the reduced material Larsen makes an instructive tactical blunder that loses the game because his K is subjected to a winning attack!} (36... Bxe5 {completely equalizes after} 37. fxe5 (37. Qxf5 {is alosing blunder.} Qxf3+ 38. Kg1 Qxf4 39. Qh3 {Black has a won ending.}) 37... Qxe5 {is a likely draw.}) 37. Qc4 {A nasty surprise.} (37. Qxf5 Qxb5+ {and it's doubtful white could make any progress.}) 37... Qd6 (37... Qxc4+ 38. Nxc4 Kf7 39. b6 Bd8 40. Ne5+ Ke6 41. b7 Bc7 42. Nc6 Kd7 43. b8=Q Bxb8 44. Nxb8+ {wins}) (37... Qa7 { keeps the Qs on and gusrds the 7th rank, but white's position is still vastly superior after} 38. Qd5 Bxe5 (38... Qa1+ 39. Kg2 Qb2+ 40. Kg3 Bxe5 (40... Qxb5 41. Qf7+ {mates in 2}) 41. Qxe5+ Kg8 42. Qe6+ {and wins}) 39. Qxe5+ Kf7 40. Qxf5+) 38. Qf7+ Kh6 39. Qg8 {Black resigned. The threat of 39.Nf7+ forking the Q and K cannot be met.} (39. Qg8 Bxe5 (39... Kh5 40. Qxh7#) 40. Qg5#) 1-0

Friday, May 19, 2023

1958 North Island Championship

     I have never posted much about chess in New Zealand, but then according to the statistics on this blog nobody from there reads it anyway. To be honest, I know of only 2 or 3 of the country’s champions
     The capital of New Zealand is Wellington and as the crow flies it’s 8,590 miles away from where I live. Of course, a crow couldn’t fly from here to there, but if they could, they commonly fly only 6 to 12 miles a day as they stop to feed and roost and at that rate, for a crow, a trip to Wellington would take 2-4 years. You can make the trip in an airplane in about 23 hours which is still a long time. 
     Back in 1958 the North Island’s championship was held in New Plymouth, a city on the west coast of North Island. It’s known for its coastal walkway, a park that has botanical gardens and bird life while sub-alpine forests and waterfalls characterize the Egmont National Park to the south. 
     It sounds like a nice place to live. The average temperature for the year is 56.0°F (13.3°C). The warmest month, on average, is February with an average temperature of 63.0°F (17.2°C). The coolest month on average is July, with an average temperature of 49.0°F (9.4°C). The highest recorded temperature in New Plymouth is 86.0°F (30°C), The lowest recorded temperature is 29.0°F (-1.7°C), which was recorded in June. 
     The 1958 North Island Championship was a tie between J.R. Phillips and Ortvin Sarapu with Phillips getting the title on tiebreaks. The two players in this game both met tragic ends. 

     James Rodney Phillips (1942 - September 19, 1969) became the youngest player ever to win New Zealand’s national championship when he captured the title in January 1957 at age 14, a record that stands to this day. 
     He was coached by the Estonian born master Ortvin Sarapu, who spotted his talent at the age of 10. 
     Phillips played in the World Junior Championship in The Hague in 1961 and finished fourth in his preliminary group, thereby missing out on a place in the final group of 12. However he won the reserve group to finish 13th overall. Phillips competed in the 1967 British championship which was won by Jonathan Penrose; Phillips finished in a tie for 10th place out of the 36 competitors with a score of 6-6. 
     He was found drowned in Wellington Harbor on September 19, 1969...suicide was suspected. 
     Roger A. Court was the North Island co-champion in 1956 and 1963. He was New Zealand champion in 1963/64. He won or tied for the NZ Correspondence Championship four times (1958, 1959, 1962 and 1966). Court tragically died of an asthma attack in 1962 at the age of 32. 

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "N. Island Champ, New Plymouth, NZ"] [Site "?"] [Date "1958.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Rodney Philips"] [Black "Roger A. Court"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C41"] [Annotator "Stockfish 15.1"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "1958.??.??"] {C41: Philidor Defense} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 {Today this old defense is known as a solid defense, but it's seldom seen at the top level because not only is it heavily analyzed, but it is too passive.} 3. d4 Nf6 {Statistically speaking the much more popular 3...exd4 tends to strongly favor white.} 4. Nc3 (4. dxe5 {is best met by} Nxe4 (4... dxe5 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Nxe5 {and the threat to f7 means white has won a P and has a clear advantage}) 5. Qd5 Nc5 {with full equality for black.}) 4... Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Qe2 c6 8. a4 Qc7 9. h3 h6 10. dxe5 (10. Ba2 a5 11. Be3 Re8 12. Qc4 Rf8 13. Rfd1 {with equal chances. Smejkal,J (2570)-Rukavina,J (2460) Leningrad 1973}) 10... dxe5 (10... Nxe5 { is equally playable.} 11. Bb3 Re8 12. Nd4 Bf8 13. f4 Ng6 14. Qf3 Bd7 15. Be3 Rad8 {with equal chances. Ginzburg,Y (2356)-Kodinets,K (2409) Internet 2004}) 11. Nh4 Nc5 {Ignoring the pin on the f-Pawn is going to cause problems for black as white now concentrates his attention on it.} (11... Kh7 12. Nf5 Nc5 13. Nxe7 Qxe7 14. f4 Be6 15. f5 Bxc4 16. Qxc4 a5 17. b4 Na6 18. bxa5 Qb4 19. Qxb4 Nxb4 20. Ba3 {Draw agreed. Kurajica,B-Penrose,J Hastings 1966}) 12. Ng6 Rd8 13. f4 {White is better.} Bd6 14. f5 {Preventing ...Be6 but offering black a chance to get back into the game.} (14. Be3 {is preferred by engines, but threading through a messy tactical situation at the board could prove quite difficult!} exf4 15. Nxf4 Be6 16. Nxe6 Nxe6 17. Rxf6 (17. Bxe6 fxe6 18. Bxh6 Bh2+ 19. Kh1 Qe5 20. g4 Bg3 (20... gxh6 21. Qxh2) 21. Bd2 {is equal.}) 17... gxf6 18. Rf1 Be5 19. Qg4+ Kf8 20. Bxe6 fxe6 21. Ne2 {with unclear complications. In Shootouts using Stockfish white scored +2 -0 =3, but the endings were long and tricky.} (21. Qxe6 Kg7 {is equal.})) 14... Kh7 15. Nh4 { Black has succeeded in forcing back the N and defend his f-Pawn and so he has managed to equalize} Qe7 {But this passive defense is unsatisfactory.} (15... b5 {This strong counterattacking move keeps him in the game.} 16. axb5 Bb7 17. bxc6 Bxc6 18. Bd5 Rab8 {with an equal opportunityy position.}) 16. Nf3 b6 { Again, too passive. 16...b5 is less good than last move, but it would still give white something to think about.} 17. g4 {[%mdl 32] This signals the beginning of a decisive attack.} Ng8 18. h4 Nd7 {Better was 18...Kg8} (18... Kh8 19. g5 Nb7) 19. Qg2 {Not bad, but better and more spectacular was 19.Ng5+! To be fair making all the necessary calculations OTB would not be easy nor practical!} (19. Ng5+ hxg5 20. hxg5 Bc5+ 21. Kh1 Nh6 22. Qh2 {Better than the immediate capture of the N} Rh8 23. gxh6 Bb7 (23... g6 24. fxg6+ fxg6 25. Bg5 { wins...the B is untouchable,,,} Qxg5 26. Rf7+ Kg8 27. h7+ Rxh7 28. Qxh7#) 24. g5 Raf8 25. g6+ fxg6 26. Rf3 Qe8 27. Rg3 Rf6 28. Bg5 Rff8 29. Bd2 Rf6 30. Rf1 Nf8 31. Rh3 Bc8 32. hxg7+ Kxg7 33. Rxh8 {wins} Qe6 34. Qh6+ Kf7 35. fxe6+ Ke8 36. Rxf6 Bxe6 37. Qg7 Be7 38. Rhxf8+ Kd7 39. Rxe6 Kc7 40. Qxe7#) 19... Nf8 20. g5 Kh8 21. Nh2 {Black puts up a chivalrous defense, but in the end white's attack is just too strong.} h5 22. Ne2 g6 23. Ng3 Bc5+ 24. Kh1 Rd4 25. Qe2 a5 26. b3 b5 27. axb5 cxb5 28. Bd5 Bb7 (28... Rxd5 {makes things a bit more difficult for white.} 29. exd5 Bd4 30. fxg6 fxg6 (30... Bxa1 31. Rxf7) 31. Ra2 b4 32. Nf3 Bc3 {and white still has some work to do.}) 29. fxg6 Rxd5 {Of course 29...gxg6 first was better...still hopeless, but better.} 30. Qxh5+ Kg7 31. Nf5# {Philips conducted a nearly flawless attack.} 1-0

Thursday, May 18, 2023

A Fun Miniature By Fauber

     The winner of today’s game was Richard E. Fauber (March 22, 1936 – March 2, 2013, 76 years old). Originally from Wisconsin, he was a longtime Sacramento, California master-strength player, director, chess journalist and author who was active primarily during the 1970s and 1980s. 
     He possessed a masters degree in Economic History from the University of California, Berkeley. Although he briefly served as a part-time instructor in the History Dept. at Sacramento State College, he was primarily an investor in the stock market. His area of expertise was puts and calls. If anybody is interested, Motley Fool explains what they are HERE
     From 1971 to 1989 he was the chess editor for the Sacramento Bee. He was the author of a book that was published in 1992, Impact of Genius: 500 years of Grandmaster Chess. It’s a biography of the game’s greatest players and how they shaped the of culture in Europe and America. 
     Fauber also enjoyed classical music, the opera literature and he was a wine connoisseur and dog lover. He drove a Porsche. He died of a heart attack on Saturday morning, March 2, 2013.

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Capitol City Open, Sacramento"] [Site "Sacramento, CA USA"] [Date "1991.12.29"] [Round "?"] [White "Richard Fauber"] [Black "David Oppedal"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A65"] [Annotator "Komodo 14"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "1991.??.??"] {Modern Benoni} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 {The Modern Benoni is less of a defense and more mof a counterattacking system.} 4. Nc3 exd5 {By capturing on d5 black creating a Q-side P-majority.} 5. cxd5 d6 6. e4 g6 7. Bd3 Bg7 8. Nge2 O-O 9. O-O Na6 {The idea of this move is to reposition the N on c7 from where it supports the advance of the b-Pawn.} 10. h3 Nc7 11. Ng3 Re8 12. f4 Nd7 { This is inconsistent.} (12... b5 {is best. The P should not be taken because it would leave white's e-Pawn unguarded.} 13. Nxb5 (13. Bxb5 {is much worse because after} Nxb5 14. Nxb5 Nxe4 15. Nxe4 Rxe4 16. Nc3 Rb4 {black has a lot of play.}) 13... Nxe4 14. Nxc7 Bd4+ 15. Kh2 Nxg3 16. Nxe8 Nxf1+ 17. Qxf1 Qxe8 { with a slight advantage.}) (12... b5 13. Qf3 {is the correct reply. After} c4 14. Bc2 b4 15. Nce2 a5 {Black has the initiative, but white should be able to hold his own.}) 13. Qf3 a6 {Over-preparing, but noiw the advance of the b-Pawn is not quite as strong as it would have been last move.} (13... b5 14. e5 c4 ( 14... dxe5 15. d6 {snags a R}) 15. Bc2 Bb7 16. Nge4 {with the initiative because black is clearly on the defensive.}) (13... b5 14. Nxb5 {is also now playable.} c4 15. Nxc7 Qxc7 16. Bc2 Rb8 {but here, too, white is quite well off.}) 14. a4 {He could also have played 14.e5 immediately.} Rb8 15. e5 dxe5 16. f5 {White has the makings of a strong attack mostly because black's has been dawdling on the Q-side.} e4 {technically the best defense would have been 16...Rf8. Practically black's move is a good choice because rather than hunkering down and trying to defend, he seeks counterplay in the center.} 17. Bxe4 {A partial success for black because although white still remains better he misses the best line.} (17. Ngxe4 Ne5 18. Qg3 Nxd5 19. fxg6 hxg6 20. Bg5 { Black has to surrender his Q.} Qd7 (20... Qc7 21. Nxd5 Qd7 22. Nef6+) (20... Nxc3) 21. Rad1 Nxc3 22. bxc3 b5 23. Nf6+ Bxf6 24. Bxf6 Rb6 25. Bxe5 Qe7 26. Bc7 {White has won a piece.}) 17... Bd4+ {Oddly, up to here this line was repeated many years later.} (17... Ne5 18. Qf2 (18. Qd1 Bf8 19. Bf4 Bd6 20. Bc2 Nc4 21. fxg6 fxg6 22. Bxd6 Nxd6 23. Qf3 {and white went on to win in Barrios,H (2075) -Sanz Alonso,F (2350) Bogota 2014}) 18... Nd3 19. Qc2 Nxc1 20. Raxc1 Qd6 21. Ra1 Qd8 22. Rac1 Qd6 {Black resigned. Denderski,P (2246)-Cajbel,M (2196) Jastrzebia Gora POL 2022}) 18. Kh1 Ne5 {It mat not look like it, but white's position is crushing.} 19. Qf4 b5 {This thematic move has come way too late to be of any benefit!} 20. Qh6 {[%mdl 128] The game is over!} Qd6 21. Nh5 { [%mdl 512] A nice finishing touch.} Nc4 {Inviting white to get careless and play 22.f6} (21... gxh5 22. f6 {Giving up the Q with 22...Qxf6 results in black getting mated in at most 12 moves.}) 22. fxg6 (22. f6 {But this merits a string of question marks!} Qf8 {and black has equalized!} 23. Ng7 b4 24. Nxe8 Qxh6 25. Bxh6 Nxe8 26. Nd1 Nxf6 {and black is even a little better!}) 22... hxg6 {White now has flashy finish that results in a mate in 7!} 23. Rxf7 { [%mdl 512]} Kxf7 (23... Qh2+ {prolongs the agony.} 24. Kxh2 Be5+ 25. Kh1 Kxf7 26. Qh7+ Kf8 27. Bh6+ Bg7 28. Qxg7#) 24. Qh7+ {Facing mate in 2 black resigned. A powerful game by Fauber.} 1-0

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Milner-Barry Wallops Ritson-Morry

     Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. On December 9th Corporal Thomas Priday became the first soldier of the British Expeditionary Force killed when he triggered a French land mine. 
     Three days later, on December 12th, an escorting destroyer HMS Duchess, sunk after a collision with battleship HMS Barham in heavy fog with the loss of 124 men. 
     On December 13th the Battle of the River Plate took place between HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles and the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, forcing the latter to be scuttled a few days later. 
     On December 18th, the Battle of the Heligoland Bight took place when the Royal Air Force made a daylight mission to attack German ships in the Heligoland Bight, but they were repulsed by Luftwaffe fighters. 
     Despite the effects of war with its blackouts and rationing there was still considerable chess activity in England. The National Chess Centre was opened in London in December of 1939, albeit on a smaller scale than had originally been hoped for, but it had 360 members. The National Chess Centre's advertisement stated the club had a “Large and well-appointed Air Raid Shelter on the premises." 
     The Centre got off to a good start by staging an invitational tournament in Hampstead that had a good entry. Hampstead is an affluent residential community to the north of London that has meadows and woodlands and has long favored by academics, artists and media figures. 

     Not many games from this long forgotten tournament are available, but below is one of them. William Ritson-Morry (September 5, 1910 – January 8, 1994, 83 years old) was British Correspondence Champion in 1942 and was responsible for conceiving the idea of a World Junior Championship. The first such event was held in Birmingham, England in 1951. It was won by Borislav Ivkov of Yugoslavia. 
     Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry (September 20, 1906 – March 25, 1995, 88 years old) worked in the British Civil Service and was never able to devote all his time to chess. He was part of the team that worked at Bletchley Park, alongside famed cryptanalyst and mathematician Alan Turing and British players C.H.O’D. Alexander and Harry Golombek cracking the German Enigma codes. After the war he worked for the Treasury and in 1954 he was promoted to Assistant Secretary and then to an under-secretary. 
     The other player who tied for first, Imre Konig (1901-1992, 91 years old) was born in Gyula, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. After the First World War he became a Yugoslav citizen. In 1938 he emigrated to England and became a naturalized citizen in 1949. However, in 1953 he moved to the San Francisco area in California. 
     What I like about the following game is the way Milner-Barry ruthlessly mopped up after Ritson-Morry mistakenly opened up the K-side and allowed black’s pieces to invade down the h-file and use the e5 square to penetrate into the guts of white’s position. 

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Hampstead Invitational"] [Site "?"] [Date "1939.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "W. Ritson-Morry"] [Black "P.S. Milner-Barry"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [Annotator "Stockfish 15.1"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "1939.??.??"] {Nimzo-Indian} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 O-O 6. Qc2 d6 7. e4 e5 (7... Nc6 8. Bd3 e5 9. Ne2 b6 10. O-O Nd7 11. f4 f6 {favors white. Hirneise,J (2277)-Escalona Landi,S (2218) chess.com INT 2023}) 8. Bd3 c5 9. d5 (9. Ne2 Nc6 10. d5 Ne7 11. f3 Nd7 12. h4 Nb6 13. g4 {with good arracking chances. Capablanca,J-Ragozin,V Moscow 1935}) 9... Re8 {This serves no real purpose and limits black's prospects.} (9... Nh5 {is more active.} 10. Ne2 Qf6 11. f3 Nf4 12. Bxf4 exf4 13. Qd2 Qh4+ {White is only slightly better.}) 10. Ne2 Nbd7 11. f3 Nh5 12. Be3 Qf6 13. Qd2 {This prevents ...Nf4} h6 14. Ng3 {After previously preventing it, white now wrongly allows black to play ...Nf4} (14. O-O g5 15. g3 {with equal chances.}) 14... Nf4 15. Bxf4 {This is wrong because the N gets a good outpost on e5 and black's K-side attacking chances gain momentum. Keep an eye on this e5 square! It's occupation will prove of great importance. White keeps the balance with 15.h4} exf4 16. Ne2 Ne5 17. O-O-O { The K heads for the safety of the Q-side...but is it really safe there?} (17. Nxf4 {is met by} Qxf4 18. Qxf4 Nxd3+) 17... g5 18. h4 Kg7 19. Rh2 Bd7 20. Rf1 ( 20. Rdh1 Rh8 21. Kb1 {Oddly, white cannot afford multiple exchanges by opening the h-file.} (21. hxg5 hxg5 22. Rxh8 Rxh8 23. Rxh8 Kxh8 24. Kc2 Qh6 25. Qe1 Ba4+ 26. Kb2 Nxd3+ {wins}) 21... Rag8 {After some cat and mouse maneuvering black will find making progress difficult. FOr example...} 22. Ka2 Kf8 23. Rb1 b6 24. Rbh1 Ng6 25. h5 Ne5) 20... Rh8 21. g3 {This opens up the position and leaves white lost. Shuffling his K with 21.Kb1 and awaiting developments was a reasonable alternative as it would force black to try and figure out a way to break through.} fxg3 22. hxg5 (22. Nxg3 {wasn't any better.} Nxd3+ 23. Qxd3 Qf4+ 24. Qd2 Qxg3 25. hxg5 Bh3 26. gxh6+ Rxh6 27. Rff2 Rg6 28. Kb2 Rh8 29. Kb3 Qg1 {Black is making inroads into white's position and the result will prove fatal.} 30. a4 Qb1+ 31. Qb2 (31. Ka3 Bf1) 31... Rg1 32. Qxb1 Rxb1+ 33. Kc2 Re1 34. Kd2 (34. a5 Ra1) 34... Ra1 {etc.}) 22... hxg5 23. Rxh8 Rxh8 {White is now totally lost. All that's left is for Milner-Barry to mop up which he does with great efficiency} 24. f4 g2 25. Rd1 Nf3 26. fxg5 Qe5 27. Qe3 g1=Q 28. Nxg1 Qxc3+ {The arrival of the Q will cause havoc to white's position.} 29. Kb1 Qb3+ 30. Kc1 Qxa3+ 31. Kb1 Qb3+ 32. Kc1 Rh2 33. Ne2 Ba4 34. Rf1 Ne5 {Black mates. Notice the role e5 has played for the N and the Q.} 35. Kd2 Qb2+ 36. Ke1 Qb4+ { White resigned.} (36... Qb4+ 37. Nc3 Qxc3+ 38. Qd2 Qxd2#) 0-1

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Charles H. Stanley, a Player of Renown

     Charles H. Stanley (September 1819 - 1901) was born in Brighton, England and emigrated from London to New York in 1843. He worked in the British Consulate. 
     Stanley can be considered the first US Champion because in 1845 he defeated Eugene Rousseau (1805-1870), a French player living in New Orleans in a match. Rousseau's second was Ernest Morphy, Paul Morphy's uncle. Six year old Paul was present at the match also. Stanley won the match easily and decisively with a +15-8 score. 
     Though the match was considered unofficial, it was no secret it was to determine the best player in America. Stanley was considered the best player in the country until 1857 when he was defeated by Paul Morphy. 
     Stanley had considerable influence on US chess by starting a chess column in the newspaper The Spirit of the Times. He also started the short lived American Chess Magazine in 1846 but it soon folded. In 1846 he published the first US book on a chess match, 31 Games of Chess and in 1855 he organized the first World Problem Tournament. He was also the secretary of the New York Chess Club.
     Against Staunton, Stanley was able to hold his own at "Pawn and 2" odds, beating him in such a match in +3-1 =3 in 1841. In 1850 Stanley drew a match on even terms with Lowenthal (+3 -3) and in 1852 he drew a match, also on even terms, with Saint-Amant (+4 -4). Stanley might have fared much better in those matches, but for one problem: he was an alcoholic. 
     Through this chess column, Stanley met a penniless Hungarian refugee from Hungary named Johann J. Lowenthal (1810-1876) who was known to be a strong player. Lowenthal came to the United States hoping to become a western pioneer, but the elegant and cultured, Lowenthal was hardly the pioneer type. Stanley and others set him up as chess professional in a cigar divan in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later Lowenthal moved to England and became a British citizen. Before he left, he also managed to lose to 12 year old Morphy in New Orleans. 
     By 1857, the year of the First American Chess Congress, Stanley was considered the U . Champion, but by that time he was also quite destitute as a result of his drinking problem. Paul Morphy won the tournament and after the tournament beat Stanley +4-1 in a casual match while giving Stanley the odds of Pawn and move. 
     Morphy, knowing the Stanley family's dire straits, gave his winnings to Mrs. Stanley, claiming he couldn't give it to Charles because "he would have drunk it all up." Mrs. Stanley named her next child Pauline after Paul Morphy. By way of saying thank you, Stanley wrote and published Morphy's Match Games in 1859. 
     In 1859, he also wrote The Chess Player's Instructor which was popular enough to go into a second printing the same year. Then, it was published again in 1880 but under a different title, De Witt's American Chess Manual. 
     In 1860 Stanley returned to England where he edited a chess column in the Manchester Weekly Express and Guardian for two years. He tried to establish a reputation as a player in England, but failed to make any impression in either match or tournament play. Consequently, he returned to America in 1862 and after losing a match to George Mackenzie (+1-2), he retired from chess. 
     From 1880 until he died in 1901, Stanley lived in institutions in the Bronx and on Ward's Island State Emigrant Refuge and Hospital. 
     Ward's Island is located in the East River in New York City. During the Revolutionary War the island served as a military post for the British. In the 1840’s the island had turned into a dumping ground for everything unwanted in New York City. 
     Between 1840 and 1930 the island was used for the burial of hundreds of thousands of bodies relocated from a couple of large city graveyards. It was also used as a hospital for sick and destitute immigrants and was the location of the largest psychiatric institution in the world when it housed 4,400 patients. Today the island serves as home to, among other facilities, a maximum-security facility for the mentally ill. 

     The following game from the match against Rousseau, the second game, is amusing. The players engage in a series of captures where each side seems to ignore what the other side is doing. One writer of the times described the game by saying, "Both these gentlemen placed pieces thus gratuitously en prise several times during the match.” 

A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Match, New Orleans"] [Site "New Orleans, LA USA"] [Date "1845.12.01"] [Round "2"] [White "Charles H. Stanley"] [Black "Eugene Rousseau"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C26"] [Annotator "Stockfish 15.1"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "1845.??.??"] {Giuoco Piano} 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bc5 4. Nf3 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. d3 Be6 7. Bb3 Nc6 8. Ne2 {White has two other moves that have been played here: 8.Nd5 and 8.Bg5 neither of which offer him any advantage, The text move, the idea of which is to relocate the N in hopes of establishing a K-side attack also seems pretty benign.} Qe7 9. Ng3 {[%mdl 32]} Nd4 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. c3 Bb6 12. O-O d5 {This turns out to loosen up black's position. 12...c6 was solid.} (12... c6 13. Bg5 h6 {is completely equal.}) 13. Bg5 c6 {It's way too late for this.} ( 13... h6 {is less effective now that his P is on d5 because after} 14. exd5 Bd7 (14... hxg5 15. dxe6 fxe6 16. Qe2 {and black's position is not looking so good. }) 15. Be3 Bxe3 16. fxe3 {White has a favorable position.}) (13... dxe4 { This is the best move because it keeps white's advantage to a minimum.} 14. Nxe4 Bxb3 15. axb3 Qe6 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Qg4+ Qxg4 18. Nxf6+ Kg7 19. Nxg4 f6 { has has a favorable position.}) 14. Nh5 {This is the key move. It was not possible in other variations previously mentioned, but here it is the move that gives white a decisive advantage.} dxe4 15. dxe4 Bxb3 16. Qf3 {[%cal Rg5f6] Capturing the B also leaves white with a winning position, but the text is a much more handsome move.} (16. axb3 Qe6 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Qg4+ {as mentioned above.}) 16... Bc4 {Losing outright.} (16... Kh8 {allows black to hold out longer.} 17. axb3 Qe6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Qxf6+ Qxf6 20. Nxf6) 17. Bxf6 {Of course the B can't be taken.} Qe6 (17... gxf6 18. Qg4+ Kh8 19. Qg7#) (17... Qxf6 18. Nxf6+ gxf6 19. Rfd1 {is hopless for black.}) 18. Nxg7 {White is clearly winning.} Be2 19. Nxe6 {This is a much harder punch than taking the B.} (19. Qxe2 Qxf6 20. Nf5 {also wins.}) 19... Bxf3 20. Nxf8 {Rousseau resigned. Stanley's execution in the maze of captures was flawless.} 1-0

Monday, May 15, 2023

Grob’s Defense

     Everybody has heard of the Grob Attack, 1.g4!! It’s is widely condemned by the experts, but I have long played it with a modicum of success since way back in the days of chess played by post card. But then I wasn’t playing the “experts” so perhaps that’s why it frequently brought success. 
     On the other side of the board there is the Grob Defense which begins 1.e4 g5, but if the Grob Attack is really bad then it stands to reason that the Grob Defense must be even worse. 
     Sometimes it’s also called the Borg Defense because that’s Grob spelled backwards. It’s also known as the Basman Defense, after British IM Michael Basman. 
     The move weakens the K-side severely, but according to Modern Chess Openings (MCO), black is only somewhat worse. 
     These days whenever I feel like a a couple of quick games Chess Hotel is my site of choice. You can create a free account or you can sign in anonymously as a Guest or you can sign in with a screen name, They have a wide variety of time limits and ratings are meaningless because it gets reset when you sign out, Most of your opponents will not be particularly strong and engine users are pretty rare. On the downside, it’s not unusual for players who get a bad game to simply abandon the game; after they do, you are awarded the win. Also, occasionally there will be a childish opponent who likes to bombard you with profanity and name calling. The funny thing is that when you ignore them it seems to infuriate them even more! 
     The Grob Defense is fun to play and can lead to some unusual positions. If you are interested in playing over some games with the this defense to see some of the possibilities you can refer to Chess Tempo HERE

. A game that I liked (Fritz 17)

[Event "Chess Hotel"] [Site "?"] [Date "2023.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Guest"] [Black "Tartajubow"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [Annotator "Stockfish 15.1"] [PlyCount "30"] [EventDate "2023.??.??"] {Grob's Defense} 1. e4 g5 2. h4 {Odd, but not really bad according to the engines!} (2. d3 {This is not an attempt to refute 1...g5} h6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 c5 6. Nge2 Nf6 7. O-O Nc6 {and the players agreed to a draw in Zelcic,R (2540)-Palac,M (2545) Pula 1998}) (2. d4 {This is the almost universal response because it attacks the g-Pawn.} h6 3. h4 g4 4. Nc3 d6 5. Be3 Bg7 6. Qd2 c6 7. O-O-O b5 8. f3 h5 {White is better, but eventually lety his advantage slip away and lost. Sadhwani,R (2611)-Nakamura,H (2768) chess.com INT 2022}) 2... gxh4 (2... g4 3. Qxg4 d5 4. Qd1 dxe4 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. d3 exd3 7. Bxd3 Nc6 8. Bg5 Bg7 {with equl chances. Narayanan,S (2669)-Vovk,O (2315) chess. com INT 2023}) 3. f4 {This looks to be a P move on the wrong side of the e-Pawn...it slightly weakens the K's position. Better was 3.d4} (3. d4 d5 4. exd5 Bg7 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bc4 {is the engine's way and white is clearly better.}) 3... Nc6 4. Nf3 (4. Nc3 {Hinders black's nerxt move and so it is just a bit better.} h5 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. e5 Ng4 7. d4 d5 {is quite interesting and the chances are about equal.}) 4... d5 {Sooner or later black must make a jab at the center.} 5. exd5 (5. e5 {does not work out so well after} Bg4 6. d4 e6 { and black can claim a slight advantage.}) (5. Nc3 {and black can polay either 5...d4 or...} dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nf6 {A move only an engine could love because after} 7. Nxf6+ exf6 8. Bb5 Qd6 9. Qe2+ Be7 {Stockfish evalautes the position as just slightly in black's favor. On the other hand, Komodo 14 thinks the position is equal.}) 5... Qxd5 6. Nc3 Qe6+ {Questionable as it badly hinders black's development. Better was 6...Qa5 with equal chances.} 7. Be2 {After this black gets the advantage.} (7. Qe2 {remains equal.} Qg6 (7... Qxe2+ 8. Bxe2 Bd7 9. Rxh4 O-O-O {is also equal.}) 8. Rxh4 Nf6 9. d4 Qg3+ 10. Qf2 {is just one example line. There are many other reasonable possibilities.}) 7... Qg4 { Attacking g2, but 7...Qg6 does the same thing plus it also puts pressure on c2. } 8. O-O {Placing his K opposite the black Q is a mistake. Best was 8.Kf1} (8. Kf1 Nf6 9. Rxh4 Qg6 10. Ne5 (10. Nb5 Rg8 11. Rh2 Kd8 {black is slightly better. }) 10... Nxe5 11. fxe5 Qf5+ 12. Bf3 Qxe5 {An unusuak position to be sure, but thelchances are about equal.}) 8... h3 (8... Qxf4 {allows white to gain the upper hand after} 9. d4 Qg3 10. Ne4 $14) 9. Rf2 Qxf4 {[%mdl 8192] This was wrong last move and it's wrong this move!} (9... Nf6 {and all is fine.} 10. d4 Qg3 {Black has good chances against white's weakened King 's position.}) 10. d4 {With this move white gains time to complete his development.} Qg3 11. d5 (11. Ne4 {was even better because after} Qg6 12. Nfg5 {the attack on f7 gives white the advantage.}) 11... e5 {[%mdl 8192] A serious tactical error!} (11... Nf6 12. Bb5 {nearly equalizes.} (12. dxc6 Ng4 13. Ne4 h2+ 14. Kh1 Nxf2+ 15. Nxf2 Qxf2 {and black has the advantage.}) 12... a6 13. dxc6 axb5 14. Qd4 Bg7 15. Bf4 Qg6 16. Ne5 Qh5 {A complicated position, but with correct play black should prove to have the better of things.}) 12. dxc6 {[%mdl 8192] Obvious and wrong!} (12. Ne4 {is the narrow road to win.} Qg7 13. dxc6 {Black does not have sufficient compensation for the piece. Just a sample line...} bxc6 14. Nfg5 Nh6 15. Nf6+ Ke7 16. Nge4 Nf5 17. Bg5 {and white is winning.}) 12... Bc5 {[%mdl 128] Thanks to having this move available black is able to maintain the advantage. This move was the idea behind 11...e5} 13. Qf1 {Now, if white could just get in Nd5 he might have something.} hxg2 {This lets white off the hook!} (13... Nf6 {Keeps the pressure on white and brings up the reserves.} 14. Bb5 b6 15. Ne2 Qg4 16. Nxe5 hxg2 17. Nxg4 gxf1=Q+ 18. Kxf1 Nxg4 {with the advantage.}) 14. Qxg2 {[%mdl 8192] This loses quickly.} (14. Qe1 Nf6 {This move adding the N to the attack is probably black's best option.} (14... Bxf2+ 15. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 16. Kxf2 f6 17. cxb7 Bxb7 18. Bb5+ {A highly unbalanced material situation has resulted (B+N vs. R+3Ps), but the outcome sould be far from clear. In Shootouts white scored +1 -0 =4}) 15. Bb5 Ng4 16. Be3 Bxe3 17. Qxe3 b6 18. Qe2 {Materially white has a N vs. 3Ps and the chances are about equal. In Shootouts 5 games were drawn.}) 14... Bxf2+ 15. Kf1 {White was almost out of time.} (15. Kh1 {was only marginally better.} bxc6 16. Ne4 Qxg2+ 17. Kxg2 Bb6 18. Nxe5 Be6 19. c4 (19. Nxc6 Bd5) 19... O-O-O {Black's material advantage is sufficient to score the point.}) 15... Bh3 {White resigned.} 0-1