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Monday, October 11, 2021

A White Man Wins the 1948 U.S. Open

     Arnold Denker described Weaver W. Adams as a “white man clear through.” He lived in a white house on White Street and had inherited a chicken farm on which he raised white chickens that laid white eggs. He also wrote, among other titles, White To Play And Win which he published in 1939. 
     Adams explained his theory starting with the idea that in the writings of nearly all leading players there is implied belief that a perfectly played game would be a draw. This, he said, was because the symmetry of the positions before the first move is made would make the draw seem a logical outcome. He added that it was also widely presumed that the many of the drawn games between top players was accounted for by the fact that they played nearly to perfection. 
     Adams pointed out that such reasoning was inconsistent with the well-recognized fact among masters that the slightest mistake could change the outcome. 
     In White to Play and Win he claimed a forced win with the Bishop's Opening (1. e4 e5 2. Bc4), but when his theory failed to work out in practice he switched to the Vienna Game in which he claimed a win for white after 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Be4 Nxe4, a variation known today as the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation. That didn't work either work either so not being a man that was easily discourage, he switched to other lines. 
     In both of his controversial books, White to Play and Win and Simple Chess, Adams stoutly maintained that white's initiative is sufficient to turn the game in his favor. While he believed that black has theoretically no chance of winning, Adams pinned his hopes on unconventional defenses like the Albin Counter Gambit and he imbued any opening with his own pertinacious fighting spirit. 
     He had little success in international play, but in national events he succeeded in beating, with the exception of Reshevsky and Fine, all the top American players of the day. Adams was hard to discourage. In the 1940 US Championship he played a slashing attack against Albert Simonson only to miss a sensational mate and lose. Undaunted, he met Kashdan a few rounds later and won the brilliancy prize with an even more brilliant attack. 
     His most famous result was probably winning the 1948 US Open in Baltimore. He got off to a slow start, losing to Carl Pilnick and drawing with Norman Whitaker, but a staunch apostle of aggression, he then went on to win seven and draw two of his last nine games. In the last round he fought off a determined challenge by Olaf Ulvestad and secured the draw which was all he needed to clinch first place.

     Defending titleholder Isaac Kashdan, George Kramer and Olaf Ulvestad finished in a triple tie. The tie-breaking rules failed to separate Ulvestad and Kashdan but Kramer was relegated to fourth place. Max Pavey's result was discouraging because of his hard luck; he missed good winning chances against Adams and Ulvestad. 
     In the following game Adams whips Anthony Santasiere, himself a somewhat controversial player. He, too, was an original thinker who, like Adams, was often dogmatic and he exaggerated the value of novelties and sometimes insisted that it took bizarre moves in the opening in order to play “Romantic” chess. 
     In the 1970s I believe it was, he got into a written feud with Larry Evans after Evans showed disdain for Santasiere's hypocrisy for “talking like a tiger and playing like a Tigran (Petrosian).” Evans did admit Santasiere had the heart of a Romantic even if he didn't have the games to back it up. 
     In the Game of the Month column in the January 1942 issue of Chess Review, a querulous Reuben Fine presented a game Santasiere lost with his Santasiere’s Folly (1.Nf3 and 2.b4) all the while poking fun at the opening. It no doubt was sour grapes on Fine’s part because in the 1938 US Championship Samuel Reshevsky finished first with an undefeated 13.0 while Fine was second with 12.5 (their individual game was drawn). Fine lost one game and that was to Santasier, who finished tied with George Treysman down in tenth place out of 17.

Weaver Adams - Anthony Santasiere

Result: 1-0

Site: US Open, Baltimore

Date: 1948

Caro-Kann: Advance Variation

[...] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 This variation was generally considered inferior owing to the strategic victory that Nimzovich (playing white) suffered at the hands Capablanca at the New York 1927. It made a comeback by Tal in his world championship match against Botvinnik in 1960.. 3...♗f5 4.♗d3 Today the less ambitious 4.Nf3 is usual, but the Bayonet Attack (4. Nc3 e6 5.g4) gained popularity in the 1980s and later was favored by Alexei Shirov. Less popular but aggressive is the Tal's favorite 4.h4. At the time this game was played 4.Bd3 was considered the best move, but its disadvantage is that it exchanges the B which is inconsistent with the P-formation and it results in a a weakness of the white squares. At the time other popular moves were 4.g4 and 4.c4 and 4.Nf3. 4...♗xd3
4...♗g6 is not to be recommended because of 5.♗xg6 hxg6 6.e6 with a significant advantage as black dare not play 6...fxe6 7.♕g4 which is practically winning.
5.♕xd3 e6 6.♘e2 ♕b6 This is usually played regardless white's 6th move. In this particular case 6...c5 looks a little more logical. (6...c5 7.c3 ♘c6 8.O-O and now 8...♕b6 with equal chances.) 7.f4 This is one of many moves that have been played in this position. 7...g6 This is the wrong strategy. Santasiere wants to establish a hegemony on the white squares by stopping the advance f4-f5, but in reality, it does not prevent the advance of white's f-Pawn art all. Consequently, all he has done is loses a tempo. Better was 7...c5
7...c5 8.c3 cxd4 9.cxd4 ♘e7 10.♘bc3 ♘bc6 11.O-O ♖c8 with a solid position.
8.g4 c5 If 8...h5 then 9.f5 is strong. 9.f5 This vigorous move is very aggressive, but premature. (9.♘bc3 ♘c6 10.♗e3 was more solid.) 9...cxd4 All this does is centralize white's N. 9...Nc6 is better.
9...♘c6 and now if 10.f6 Correct is either 10.fxe6 or 10.c3. The text move looks inviting because it hems in the N and T, but it has a serious flaw. 10...cxd4 and there is no satisfactory way to meet this move. 11.♕g3 ♖c8 12.h4 d3 13.cxd3 ♘d4 and wins
10.fxe6 ♕xe6 10...fxe6 is more consist. 11.♘xd4 The only good move. White has played in a way that he now must sacrifice a a P in order to maintain chances for attack. 11...♕d7 Not the best
11...♕xg4 is not good because after 12.♘b5 ♘a6 13.♘1c3 the chances are about even.
11...♕xe5+ This leaves black better after 12.♔d1 ♘f6 13.♘f3 ♕e6 14.h3 ♘e4 15.♗e3 ♗g7
12.♕e2 In annotating this game Hans Kmoch called this an extraordinarily fine and strong move because there is no defense 13.e6 with a winning attack. In 1948 few would have questioned this, but nowadays any armchair GM armed with Stockfish can readily see that this note is completely erroneous. After 12.Qe2 the position is no more that equal. After either 12.Nc3 or 12.h3 white has a very slight advantage, but not more. 12...♗e7 Better was 12...Nc6
12...♘c6 This takes the sting out of the advance of the e-Pawn. 13.e6 fxe6 14.♘xe6 ♘f6 15.♘c7+ ♔f7 16.♘xa8 ♗c5 with unclear complications. In a Shootout white scored +0 -3 =2
13.e6 Now after this move white has a slight, but not winning, advantage. 13...fxe6 14.♘xe6 ♘c6
14...♗h4+ is interesting,. After 15.♔d1 ♘f6 16.♘c7+ ♔f7 17.♘xa8 ♖e8 18.♕g2 ♘c6 In this complicated and unclear position white has what appears to be only a modest advantage, but in Shootouts scored +3 -1 =1
15.O-O ♘f6 16.♗h6 Neither sides makes the most accurate moves here. White should have played 16.Nc3 to prevent ...Ne4 16...♘e4 17.♘g7+ ♔d8 18.♘c3 ♘d4 Black is at a loss to find a way to equalize.
18...♘xc3 looks good, but white still gets the advantage after 19.bxc3 ♗d6 20.♖ad1 ♗e5 21.♕f3 ♔c8 22.♖xd5 ♕e7 23.♕f7
19.♕g2 ♖c8 (19...♘xc3 20.bxc3 ♘b5 21.c4 is hard for black to meet.) 20.♖ad1 (20.♘xe4 is OK, but not as clear. 20...♖xc2 21.♘d2 ♘c6) 20...♖xc3 Technically neither better nor worse than taking with the N, but this capture contains a little trap.
20...♘xc3 21.♖xd4 ♗c5 22.bxc3 ♗xd4+ 23.cxd4 and white is better, winning 4 and drawing 1 in Shootouts.
21.bxc3 Winning the exchange.
21.♖xd4 is bad because after 21...♖c6 it's black who is better.
21...♘b5 22.c4 There is no satisfactory answer to this move. 22...♘bc3 23.cxd5 Adams has accurately calculated the finish. A double sacrifice of the exchange allows him to bring his N back to its dominating position and get a mating attack. 23...♗c5+ 24.♔h1 ♘xd1 After this black is in a hopeless position.
24...♘f2+ Is somewhat better. It is met by 25.♖xf2 ♘xd1 26.♘e6+ ♔c8 27.♖e2
27.♘xc5 is impossible 27...♘xf2+ 28.♕xf2 ♕xd5+ 29.♔g1 ♕d1+ 30.♔g2 ♕xg4+
27...♘f2+ 28.♔g1 ♘e4+ 29.♗e3 ♘c3 30.♘xc5 ♘xe2+ 31.♔f1 (31.♕xe2 ♕xd5 with roughly equal chances.) 31...♘g3+ 32.hxg3 ♕xg4 33.♕e4 ♕xe4 34.♘xe4 White has the better endgame.
25.♕xe4 ♘f2+
25...♘c3 there is nothing else anyway 26.♘e6+ ♔c8 27.♕c4 wins
26.♖xf2 This takes home the point. 26...♗xf2 27.♕e5 ♕xg4 28.♘e6+ ♔d7 29.♕c7+ ♔e8 30.♘g7+ ♔f8 31.♘f5+ Black resigned as it's mate next move.
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1 comment:

  1. I remember the Evans-Santasiere flame wars in Chess Life vividly. I think the reason it got so ugly is that Evans thought he detected a whiff of anti-Semitism in one of Santasiere's posts, while Santasiere thought some of Evan's comments were homophobic. I read all their exchanges, and I think they were both overreacting. But feelings sure ran hot!