Monday, October 31, 2011

Hershey Caro-Kann & Modern

Some days everything seems to go right. This was one of those days. After a game with White and another with Black, it's time to be White again. Since I keep winning, I keep facing stronger players.

Today's opponent John Ferranti was rated in the 1800s. He was very kind to me after the game. He greatly encouraged me in my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit efforts. I get carried away trying to force a BDG-type position from the well-known Caro-Kann Modern Defence hybrid sometimes credited as the Gurgenidze System.

In a faster tournament time limit, the psychological power of the threat is very real. Players do not have as much time to work out a good defence. Twenty years ago, hardly anything was published on the BDG in English. And if it was, very few people read it.

This became Game 33 in my original Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Keybook published by Thinkers' Press in 1992.

Sawyer-Ferranti begins 1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 [Modern Defence] 3.Be3 c6 4.Qd2 d5 [Caro-Kann Defence] 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.f3 dxe4 7.Bc4!? White tries to sacrifice a pawn for open lines and a couple of tempi. [Certainly 7.fxe4 is playable, too.] 7...Nd5! 8.Bxd5! [Not 8.Bh6 e3! 9.Bxe3 Nxe3 wins the d-pawn.] 8...cxd5 9.fxe4 dxe4 10.Nxe4 0-0 11.Nf3 Bg4 12.0-0 Bxf3 13.Rxf3 Nd7 [More logical is 13...Nc6 intending 14...e5!? 14.Rd1=] 14.Bh6! Nf6? This gives Black a lost ending. 15.Nxf6+ exf6 16.c3?! Good, but slow. [Better is 16.Rh3! f5 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Qh6+-] 16...g5? This gives Black a lost middlegame. 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Raf1 Qd6 [Black could try 18...Rc8 intending 19.Qf2 (White could of course play 19.Rxf6 Qxf6 20.Rxf6 Kxf6 21.h4+-) 19...Rc6 20.h4+/-] 19.Qf2 Rae8 20.Rxf6 Re6 21.Rxf7+ Rxf7 22.Qxf7+ Kh8 23.Rf5 [23.Qf8+ leads to a won ending, but I prefer to threaten mate. 23...Qxf8 24.Rxf8+ Kg7 25.Rd8+-] 23...Rh6? 24.Qe8+ Mate in 4. After the game Black asked, "Is there a book on this opening?" There is now John, and you are in it! 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hershey Polish Dutch Defence

Previously I have written about the dangers of Flank Openings where a player does not significantly occupy or attack the center early in the game. The key problems are lack of space, lack of mobility, lack of development, and/or lack of piece co-ordination. When pieces are separated, how do they carry out any meaningful plan? If a Flank Opening player faces an opponent who actually fights back, they could meet with a quick disaster.

After having the White pieces in the first game, I expectedly get Black in the second round. This was an Action Chess event where each side gets 30 minutes for the whole game. When my opponent Nate Carebello played 1.b4, I could naturally assume that he played it regularly. He was rated in the 1700s at the time. The Polish or Sokolsky Opening has the advantage that usually both players are on their own by move six or so. Those who are successful with this opening as White aim for a relatively quick e4, d4 or c4. I chose to fall back on the Dutch Defence which I was playing often during those days. The presence of my pawn on f5 makes an early e4 by White less likely.

Carebello-Sawyer begins 1.b4 f5 2.Bb2 e6 3.e3 Nf6 [Now that g7 is covered, Bxb4 is a real threat.] 4.b5 Be7 5.Be2 0-0 6.h4!? White is clearly dreaming of a kingside attack. 6...d6 7.h5 Nbd7 8.Nf3 Qe8 9.Nd4?! Going for e6 is tempting, but forcing Black to bring his light-squared bishop into the game. [9.h6] 9...Nb6 10.Bf3 e5 11.Bxb7? White sacrifices his bishop to help bring mine to a better diagonal. [11.Nb3 Qxb5-/+] 11...Bxb7 12.Ne6? [12.Nxf5 Bd8-+] 12...Qxb5 Threat: Qxb2 and the queenside rook. 13.Bc3 Rfc8 14.a4 Qd5 15.a5 Qxg2 The attack on the kingside rook indicates that White's whole game is falling apart. 16.Rf1 Bf3 17.Qc1 Nbd7 18.Na3 Ne4 19.Nb5? Allowing mate in three. 19...Ng3 20.d4 Qxf1+ 21.Kd2 Qe2# 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hershey Alapin Diemer French

Milton S. Hershey was a man who did great things for people. In the late 1800s Hershey worked in Pennsylvania making candy and ice cream. He got many good idea from other people to improve his craft. In 1900 he decided to build a factory town where he would make chocolate. At Halloween each year, millions of pieces of Hershey candy are purchased by Americans and given away. Not waiting for Halloween myself, I just ate some Hershey chocolate moments ago.

In addition to the chocolate factory in the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, there is also many things to make it a community in which his employees would enjoy living. There are attractive wide streets well decorated, a major teaching hospital and good schools. Wikipedia notes: It is popularly called "Chocolatetown, USA." Hershey is also referred to as "The Sweetest Place on Earth."

Mr. Hershey also built an amusement park for his employees to enjoy. It is now known as Hershey Park. At the park there is also a hockey arena and football stadium.

Twenty years ago a chess club in Hershey held an Action Chess tournament with 30-minute games. As I recall it was held on the south east side of town at or near a golf country club or a retirement center. I played some really good tournaments and really bad tournaments in those days. This was a good one, so it is easy to write about.

I seem to recall that my son Travis came with me to Hershey that day. I don't recall if Travis played in that tournament. He was the only one of my kids who actually played rated tournament chess. USCF notes his membership expired in 1992.

My own opponent in the first round was Philip Rowe. His name reminded me of the first tournament game I ever lost about 20 years before this. That was to a David Rowe when we were in high school. Anyway, my first round game in Hershey was an Alapin-Diemer Gambit of the French Defence on which I wrote a book published by Thinkers' Press in 1995. Like all my books it is sold out, but used copies are still floating around.

Sawyer-Rowe begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Be3 Nf6 4.e5! Nfd7 [4...Ne4? loses the knight to 5.f3 Qh4+ 6.g3 Nxg3 7.Bf2!+-] 5.f4!? [5.Nf3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Qb6 8.Qc1+/=] 5...c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Nf3 Qb6 8.Qd2 [White covers both the P/d4 and the P/b2. Unfortunately, the Queen sometimes gets in the way on d2. How should White develop his N/b1? 8...Be7 [8...a6 is practically a waste of time. 9.Bd3 cxd4 10.cxd4 Be7 11.Nc3 0-0 12.h4 f6 13.Qc2 g6 14.Bxg6 hxg6 15.Qxg6+ Kh8 16.Ng5! 1-0. Diemer - Klauser, Le Locle 1958; Attacking the front of the pawn chain can lead to 8...f6 9.h4 h5 10.Bd3 f5 11.Ng5 Ne7 12.Na3 c4 13.Bxc4! dxc4 14.Nxc4 Qc6 15.Nd6+ Kd8 16.Nxe6# 1-0. Diemer - NN, simul Waldsee 1953] 9.Be2 0-0 [Black can try 9...cxd4 10.cxd4+/=] 10.0-0 f6 11.a3? [Ugly. White leaves a huge hole at b3 under Black's control. 11.Na3!?] 11...a5 [Correct is 11...Na5!=/+] 12.a4 Qa7 13.Na3+/= b6 14.Nb5 Qb8 15.Kh1 Ba6 16.Rfe1 c4 17.Na3 Bxa3 18.bxa3 b5 19.axb5 Bxb5 20.Reb1 a4 21.Bd1 Ra5 22.Ra2 Qc7 23.Rab2 Rb8 24.Bc2 Rb7 25.Qd1 Qb8 26.h3 Ra6 27.Nd2 Rab6 [White suddenly shifts sides and attacks kingside.] 28.Qh5 f5 29.Nf3 Na5 30.g4 g6 31.Qh6 Nf8 32.gxf5 exf5 33.Rg1 Bd7 34.Rxb6 Rxb6 35.Bc1 Nb3 36.Be3 Na5 37.Bc1 Nb3 38.Be3 Na5 39.Nh4 Rb2 40.Bxf5 Bxf5 41.Nxf5 Qb7 42.Nd6 Qb3 43.Ne8 Ne6 44.Nf6+ Kf7 45.Qxh7+ Ng7 46.Qxg6+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Investigating 5.Bf4 vs BDG Huebsch Gambit

Yesterday I wrote about 5.Be3 in the Huebsch. Today I give three games with 5.Bf4.

As mentioned before, the obvious advantages to 5.Bf4 are:
1. White develops a piece.
2. The bishop covers the e5 square.
3. The R/a1 is connected to the Q/d1.

I tried some practice blitz games with it vs computers. Humans don't seem to play the Huebsch Gambit very often. Since it's more fun to show a win than a loss, I give my game vs Junior 10 where I set its blitz rating at 1930. The other two games were vs a computer that is usually rated about 3000 in ICC blitz.

Sawyer-Junior 10 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 Nxe4 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Bf4 Nc6 [5...c6 6.Qd2! (6.c3 Qd5 7.f3 exf3 8.Nxf3? Qe4+ White resigns 0-1 Sawyer,T-Squash/Internet Chess Club 2011; 6.Bc4 Bf5 7.Qd2 e6 8.0-0-0 Nd7 9.f3 Nb6 10.Bb3 Nd5 11.fxe4 Bxe4 12.Nf3 Bb4 13.c3? Nxc3! White resigns 0-1 Sawyer,T-Squash/Internet Chess Club 2011) 6...Bf5 7.f3! with good compensation.] 6.c3 Bf5 7.d5 Nb8 8.Ne2 Nd7 [8...c6=] 9.Ng3 [9.Nd4+/=] 9...Bg6 10.Qa4 f5? 11.0-0-0 a5? 12.h4 b6? 13.h5 b5 14.Bxb5 Bf7 15.Nxf5 e5 16.dxe6 Bxe6 17.Qxe4 Kf7 18.Bc4 Nc5 19.Bxe6+ Nxe6 20.Rxd8 Rxd8 21.Re1 Nxf4 22.Qxf4 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

How NOT to play the Huebsch Gambit vs the BDG

Well, well, an actual comment! and with substance!! It is worth a blog to reply for all to notice more easily. Derek Ward writes:

"Wow.. I just found this blog after ~10 years of playing the BDG! I will have to read all your posts from scratch - a very interesting resource indeed. Couple of questions for you Rev. 1) I was thinking about purchasing one of your keybooks, so which keybook should I buy? 2) Also, I wanted to ask if you recommend / play the Hubsch Gambit yourself - I have never had much success with it when trying to transpose into the BDG, I am perhaps playing it incorrectly. Which keybook might help me with this? Best regards and keep up the great work!"

Glad you found my blog! Thanks for the kind comments and for reading the blog. Tell you chess friends! Now to answer the questions.

1. The best keybook for early transpositions is my original BDG Keybook by Thinkers' Press (Bob Long). The best overall keybook is the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Keybook II by Pickard & Son ( Please note however that all four of my books have sold out. Any copies you find are likely to be used. I do NOT get any royalties on any of my actual books nowadays, however I do get some small royalties from my CDs and e-books through Chess Central.

2. The Huebsch Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 Nxe4) is a BDG Avoided. I find it to be a tough nut to crack. Traditionally I have preferred 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 reaching a BDG that way. However having a pawn on f3 is not to every ones liking in a French Defence (2...e6), Benoni Defence (2...c5) or Pirc Defence (2...d6) or Modern Defence (2...g6).

The main line vs the Huebsch Gambit is 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Bc4. In order of popularity the most common five defences here are 5...Bf5, 5...Nc6, 5...e6, 5...g6 and 5...Qd6. About 90% of the time these moves are chosen. Consult your favorite chess engine on where to go from here. The Huebsch is comparatively rare in my own games with humans.

Beyond the main line of 5.Bc4, 5.Be3 seems to be a good choice. It is what I am trying this year. The idea is to connect the R/a1 with the Q/d8, strengthen d4, and follow-up with f2-f3 exf3 Nxf3 in basic BDG style. Sometimes it works well. For other ideas, the immediate 5.f3 has generally done well. Also tried are 5.Bf4 covering e5 and 5.c3 protecting d4 and preparing Qb3 or Qa4.

Today's game is my most recent example of the Huebsch Gambit. I played vs a computer "paj" rated 2864. It didn't need all those points, though. One of the problems I have with the BDG is that precise knowledge is very helpful in getting a good game vs strong defence. I forget the exact lines sometimes.

Sawyer-paj begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 Nxe4 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Be3 Nc6 6.Bb5?! [I forgot the book move here which I have written about a few times before. Scheerer gives 6.d5 Nb4 7.c4. In my original 2011 note, I incorrectly gave 6.c3, which is Scheerer's recommendation after 5.Bc4 Nc6.] 6...e6 7.f3? [7.Nh3!?] 7...Bd7 8.Qd2 Bd6 9.0-0-0 exf3 10.Nxf3 Nb4 11.Bxd7+ Qxd7 12.c3 [12.a3 Nd5=/+] 12...Qc6 13.Kb1?? Instant loss. 13...Qe4+ 14.Ka1 Nc2+ White resigns 0-1
Revised January 11, 2014

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Happy Birthday Win

Happy Birthday Ray Robson! I had the privilege of playing him three times on his way to becoming a grandmaster. Ray was very friendly and polite to me. The first time I played him he was even wearing a Boston Red Sox hat. Ray was born on MY 41st birthday. I have a few years and a few pounds of weight on him.

The first two times we played, we were both experts. Nowadays Robson is rated MUCH higher than I. He is currently the highest rated chess player in the state of Florida; I am way down at number 118. Ray is very talented in every aspect of chess, but especially in openings, tactics and his ability to calculate deeply. I wish Ray Robson great success.

Robson plays complex main line openings. I also enjoy those openings, but I also have been known to frequently resort to the tricks and traps of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Since it is also my birthday, I will enclose a simple BDG that I just played.

Sawyer - mscp begins 1.Nc3 [After 1.d4 and 1.e4, this is my favorite first move. In fact I played it vs Ray Robson in the tournament where he became a master.] 1...d5 2.d4 [2.e4 is the most common move, but one has to pick just one choice each game. Today seemed a good day for a BDG!] 2...Nf6 3.e4 [I play the 3.Bg5 Veresov also, but my lifetime performance rating with 3.e4 is slightly higher.] 3...dxe4 [In the next blog I may focus on the BDG Avoided Huebsch Gambit.] 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 [BDG Euwe] 6.Bg5 Bb4 [The favorite move for "mscp" which sees ahead 4-ply. In addition to 7.Bd3, 7.a3 is also theoretically good.] 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Nxd4? [Losing a piece.] 9.Nxd4 0-0 [Now it sees 9...Qxd4 10.Bb5+ wins the Black queen.] 10.Nf3 h6? [This allows a straightforward mating attack.] 11.Bxh6 gxh6 12.Qxh6 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Bd7 14.Ng5 Qe7 15.0-0 Qc5+ 16.Kh1 Rfd8 17.Bh7+ Nxh7 18.Qxh7+ Kf8 19.Qxf7# Black checkmated 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Lost by One Tactical Mistake

Back when I was in high school, I played both ping pong (table tennis) and chess. I scored much better at ping pong because I had to make 21 mistakes to lose. You can win a lot of games by just safely returning the ball over the net consistently and letting your opponent try to make the perfect kill shot. In chess it only takes one mistake and you are toast, history, done for, kaput and often checkmated. Chess games are more lost than won. We can only win if our opponents make mistakes. Even if most of the moves are good, in chess it only takes one mistake. The obvious point is that we ALL make a LOT of mistakes, so we all win (and lose) chess games.

Today we have a club game vs my old friend Richard Zdun at Lycoming College in Williamsport PA (the home town of the Little League Baseball World Series). Dick was probably the oldest player in our club; he came to play almost every week. During the eight years I played there, Zdun was rated in the 1600s. I was rated in the 2000s. I ended up playing Dick Zdun 145 times.

We played many different openings. Below is a Nimzo-Indian Defence which was somewhat rare for me. Play started on the queenside and moved to the kingside. The outcome was decided by two tactical combinations where White dropped material. He lost a piece for a couple pawns on move 16 and then lost a rook on move 28.

Zdun-Sawyer began 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd2 0-0 5.Nf3 b6 6.Bg5 Bb7 7.e3 h6 8.Bh4 d6 9.Bd3 Nbd7 10.a3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 c5 [11...e5 gives Black a good game.] 12.0-0 Qc7 13.h3 Ne4 [13...Be4 It might be better to activate the bishop which is in danger of being cut off after d5.] 14.Qc2 f5 15.Bg3 e5 [15...Nxg3 16.fxg3 Nf6=] 16.d5? [16.Nh4 Nxg3 17.fxg3 e4 18.Be2+/=] 16...Nxg3 17.fxg3 e4 18.Bxe4 fxe4 19.Qxe4 Rae8 20.Qd3 Qd8 21.Nh4 Ne5 22.Qe2 Qg5 23.Kh2 Bc8 24.e4 Bd7 25.a4 Rxf1 26.Qxf1 Qe3 27.Nf3 Qxe4 28.Re1? Hanging a rook when down a piece. 28...Nxf3+ 29.gxf3 Qxe1 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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