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Thursday, October 28, 2021

A Difference Of Opinion

     A while back while thumbing through Purdy's The Search for Chess Perfection I noticed an interesting diagrammed position in the section containing a selection of Purdy's games. 
     The Australian IM, Correspondence GM and writer Cecil John Seddon Purdy (March 27, 1906 - November 6, 1979) was the winner of the first world correspondence championship. An excellent analyst, he was an influential chess magazine writer, editor, and publisher. 
     Purdy began his chess career at the age of 16 and soon decided to become a full-time chess writer and player. Initially strictly an OTB player he also added postal play. He was a four-time winner of the Australian Championship (1935, 1937, 1949, and 1951) and he won the first two Australian Corresponence Championships (1938 and 1945). He also won the New Zealand Championship in 1924/25. In 1952 in Auckland Purdy drew a match with Ortvin Sarapu, at the time by far the best player in New Zealand and they were thus declared Australasian co-champions. 

   Purdy had two children, Diana, and John (1935–2011) who won the Australian Championship in 1955 and 1963. Diana was also a player and she was married to the leading New Zealand player Frank Hutchings in 1960. 
     Purdy founded and edited the magazine Australasian Chess Review (1929–1944) which became Check (1944–45) and finally Chessworld (1946–1967). He was described by Bobby Fischer as being a great chess instructor. 
     His opponent in the following game was National Master Frank A. Crowl, who was described as the Australian Nimzovich because he was a player who "cared absolutely nothing for orthodox theories" and even went so far as to claim the perfect game would be won by black! Crowl once stated, "I have nearly reached the conclusion that this is the only opening left now which offers white winning chances." The opening he was referring to was 1.b4! 
     Crowl was born in Melbourne in 1902, but spent his boyhood in Shanghai where he won the junior championship at the age of 10 and again at the age of 11. At the age of 14 he won the major championship of Shanghai. 
     Not long thereafter and through his late teens he lived in London and played top board for his team. His early twenties saw him seeing most of the world, sailing as a stowaway when his money ran out. 
     Finally, in 1927, at the age of 25, he settled in Brisbane and suddenly resumed his chess activities. His absence from the game had caused his play to deteriorate to the point that he was accepting Pawn and move odds from Brisbane's best player, 20-year old Gary Koshnitsky. In a few months he had regained his strength and in 1928 he was back in Melbourne where he won the city championship. He passed away in 1965. 
     As for the following game it shows how differently two masters can judge the same position. Purdy thought black had absolutely nothing after move 16 and that white stood much better. From Crowl's point of view, he had a good position and it was his optimism that caused him to play the rash 16...g5 that ultimately lead to his defeat.

CJS Purdy - Frank Crowl

Result: 1-0

Site: Private Match, Sydney

Date: 1938

Ruy Lopez: Berlin Defense

[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6 4.O-O d6 5.d4 ♗d7 6.♖e1 ♗e7 7.c4 This was a novelty the aim of which is to prevent black from playing the freeing move ... d5. It seems to be of no particular significance.
7.d5 ♘b8 8.♗xd7+ ♘bxd7 9.c4 O-O 10.♘c3 is only equal. Szabo,K (2492)-Grecescu,G (2396)/Hungary 2007
7.♘c3 This is by far the most common, the main line running 7...exd4 8.♘xd4 O-O 9.♗xc6 bxc6 10.♗g5 with equality.
7...exd4 would have been slightly better. 8.♗xc6
8.♘xd4 leads nowhere after 8...O-O 9.♘c3 ♘xd4 10.♗xd7 ♘xd7 11.♕xd4 with a completely equal position. Bezgodov,A (2543) -Basagic,Z (2345)/Ohrid 2001
8...bxc6 9.♕xd4 c5 10.♕d3 O-O 11.h3 ♗c6 12.♘c3 ♘d7 13.♗f4 with a fully even position. Kotronias,V (2590)-Campora,D (2555)/Buenos Aires 1997
8.♘c3 ♖e8 9.♗xc6 When annotating this game Australian Master Maurice Goldstein made the instructive comment that this exchange is justified by the fact that black's N is influencing the center whereas white's B is hindered because the center is clogged with white Ps. Hence, white's light-squared B is of lesser value than black's N. 9...♗xc6 10.h3
10.dxe5 does not win the e-Pawn. 10...dxe5 11.♘xe5 ♕xd1 12.♖xd1 ♗xe4
10...h6 In order to make room for the R on the e-file after ...exd4 black needs to play ...Bf8 and this move prevents the pin with Bg5. 11.♕c2 ♗f8 12.b3 ♗d7 One advantage of Purdy's 9.Bxc6 is that black has to lose time with this B in order to get any counterplay. Note that thanks to Purdy's 10.h3 this B has been reduced to having little scope. 13.♗b2 c6 14.♖ad1 ♕c7 Crowl has set up the Hanham formation and thought he had the better position. For example, he has the two Bs, but as th egame progresses it turns out that his missing N would have been more valuable than white's light-squared B had Purdy not made the exchange 9.Bxc6. Purdy, on the other hand, though black's position looks good on the surface, but, in fact, he has no good plan. 15.♖d2 ♖ad8 16.♖ed1 Who was correct in their evaluation of this position? Purdy or Crowl? Komodo evaluates the position as quite even. The light notes to the game noted that 16...Bc8 was unsatisfactory and Crowls' recommendation of 16... Nh7 was not entirely satisfactory either. 16...g5 This move was motivated by Crowl's optimism, but in playing it he only succeeds in weakening his Ks position. (16...♗c8 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.♖xd8 ♖xd8 19.♖xd8 ♕xd8 20.♘xe5 wins the e-Pawn.)
16...♘h7 This was suggested by Crowl and it seems a reasonable move. 17.♘e2
17.c5 was recommended, but it results in no more than equality after 17...dxc5 18.dxe5 ♘g5
17...♘g5 18.♘xg5 hxg5 19.♘g3 with about equal chances.
16...b5 This aggressive counterattacking move is likely to yield the best chances. For example... 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.♘e2 bxc4 19.bxc4 ♖b8 The position is dead equal.
17.c5 Meeting a K-side attack by a counter in the center. 17...g4 Closing his eyes to the lurking danger.
17...dxc5 keeps him in the game. 18.dxc5 ♗xc5 19.♘a4 ♗b4 20.♖d3 b5 with a fully playable position.
18.cxd6 ♗xd6 19.dxe5 gxf3 20.exd6 Equally good was 20.Rxd6 20...♕a5 21.♖d3 ♘xe4 22.♘xe4 ♖xe4 23.♖xf3 White's strong passed P will prove decisive and even Bs of opposite color won't save black. Komodo evaluates this position at 7.5 Ps in white's favor...more than enough to secure the win. 23...♗f5 24.b4 The P can't be taken without losing the B. 24...♕d5 25.♖xd5 This is good enough, but he missed a crusher!
25.♖g3+ ♔f8 26.♗f6 ♖xd6 27.♖xd5 ♖e1+ 28.♔h2 ♗xc2 29.♖xd6 and white is up a R.
25...♖e1+ 26.♔h2 ♗xc2 27.♖d2 ♗g6 28.♗f6 ♖d7 29.h4 ♖e6 30.♗e7 ♖e4 31.b5 Purdy is trying to maneuver into a promising position where his pieces will be active and while black is tied up, white can also utilize his K. As it turns, out Purdy's plan leaves black some wiggle room. 31...cxb5 32.♗f6 h5
32...♖e6 33.♗e7 leaves him some faint hope of utilizing his Q-side Ps. 33...b4 34.g4 a5 35.h5 ♗b1 In reality though, black is lost...in Shootouts white scored +4 -0 =1.
33.♖c3 ♖c4 34.♖e3 ♗e4 35.♖g3+
35.f3 was even better. 35...♗c6 36.♖e5 with a decisive bind.
35...♔h7 36.♖g5 a6 37.f3 (37.♖xh5+ ♔g6 wins) 37...♗b1
37...♗g6 was not much better . If 38.♖e5 ♖f4 39.♗g5 ♖c4 40.g4 and white is winning.
38.♔g3 It's quite likely that Purdy was in his usual time pressure hereabouts.
38.♖g7+ brings about a quick finish. 38...♔h6 39.g4 hxg4 40.fxg4 ♖c2 41.♖xc2 ♗xc2 42.♗e5 b4 (42...♖xd6 43.g5+ ♔h5 44.♗xd6 ♔xh4 45.♗e7) 43.♔g3 a5 44.h5 a4 45.♔h4 mates in two
38...♖c6 39.♗e7 f6 39...Bg6 would have held out a bit longer. 40.♖xh5+ ♔g6 41.♖h8 ♔g7 42.♖f8 ♗g6 43.♔f2 f5 44.g4
44.♖d8 and the rest is a matter of technique 44...♖xd8 45.♗xd8 ♗e8 46.d7
44...fxg4 45.fxg4 ♗f7 46.h5 ♖cxd6 47.♗xd6 ♖xd6 48.♖xf7+ Finishing him off. Black resigned.
48.♖xf7+ ♔xf7 49.♖xd6 ♔e7 50.h6 ♔xd6 51.h7 b6 52.g5 b4 53.g6 b3 54.axb3 b5 55.g7 ♔d5 56.g8=♕+ ♔c5 57.h8=♕ ♔b4 58.♕g3 ♔a3 59.♕a1+ ♔b4 60.♕gc3#
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