Monday, November 28, 2011

Offbeat Unorthodox Wild Gambits

From time to time life gets in the way of my chess play. Due to some family issues in the mid-1980s, I had quit playing chess while I worked on other things. Eventually I found the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. By 1987 I began to plan a return to correspondence play. During this time I entertained myself with wild unorthodox offbeat gambit openings.

In 1988 I entered one section of the USCF Golden Knights Postal Chess Tournament. For the next few days I will blog about those six games that I played. My first opponent was Sal Calvanico. My opponent was rated 2007 and I was rated 2124. Calvanico tried the English Opening and I threw out the Flank Opening relpy of the Macho Grob 1.c4 g5?! Of course back then there were no strong computers to show a human how White gets a big advantage in such a position by force. We were on our own.

Calvanico-Sawyer, corr USCF 88N12 1988 begins 1.c4 g5?! 2.d4 Bg7 3.Bxg5 c5 4.Nf3 Qb6 [4...cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qb6 6.Nb5 a6 7.Be3 Qa5+ 8.N5c3+/=] 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nd5 Qa5+ 7.Bd2 [7.Qd2!+-] 7...Qd8 8.Bf4 Kf8 9.Bc7 Qe8 10.Bg3 Qd8 11.e3 b6 12.Bc7 Qe8 13.Bxb6? [13.Bf4+-] 13...axb6 14.Nc7 Qd8 15.Nxa8 Bb7 16.Be2 cxd4 17.exd4 Qxa8 18.0-0 h5 19.a3? Nh6 [19...Rh6!=] 20.Rb1 Ng4 21.h3? [21.d5 Nce5=] 21...Qb8 22.g3 Ne3 23.Qd2 Nxf1 24.Bxf1 Qd6 25.d5 Ne5 26.Nxe5 Qxe5 27.Qb4 Qd4 28.Re1 Be5 29.Rxe5 Qxe5 30.Qxb6 Kg7? [30...Bc8!-+] 31.Qxb7 Rb8 32.Qxd7 Rxb2 33.Qa7 Ra2 34.a4 Ra1 35.Qa5??-+ ["I realized after I mailed the move how awful 35.Qa5 was; should have played 35.Qe3= with some chances to trade down and draw. Good luck in your next round. Regards, Sal"] 35...Rd1 0-1

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

My Felber Game from Jego's New BDG Book

In the past five days I have reviewed Eric Jego's latest book on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. My third and final game in the book is against Robert J Felber. There are two Felbers who played in the BDG thematic correspondence tournaments in the 1990s. I played them a total of 10 games.

From 1995-1997 I played Josef M. Felber three times. Black won every game. The first game I was White in an Alekhine Defence. Yes, since I have played 1.e4 thousands of times, there were games where I face my beloved Alekhine. The last two games were BDGs and we both won as Black.

Against Robert J. Felber, I played seven BDGs during the same time period, 1996-1997. I was White twice and Black five times. I won one as Black and all the other games were drawn. Today's game was the longest of the batch. Black kept his king in the center while my bishops were actively placed on Bc4 and Bg5. When Black pushed his queenside pawns, I broke up his kingside pawns. The notes below vs Robert are mine.

Sawyer-Felber, corr Internet 1996 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 c6 O'Kelly Variation is often reached via the Caro-Kann Defence. 5.Bc4 [This bishop development is standard and can easily transpose as noted. Other lines are also playable such as: 5.Nxe4; 5.fxe4; 5.Be3] 5...b5 6.Bb3 exf3 [If Black does not want to accept the f-pawn, he can play 6...e6] 7.Nxf3 [We have reached a line in the BDG Ziegler Variation (5.Nxf3 c6)] 7...Nbd7 8.0-0 e6 9.Bg5 a5 10.Qe2 Nb6 [10...Be7!=/+] 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.a3 f5 13.Qe3 Rg8 [White grabs the open g-file for attack.] 14.Ne5 Qg5?! 15.Qf3 Bb7 16.Nxb5 Rc8 17.Nc3 Nd5 18.Rf2 Bg7 19.Rd1 Bxe5 20.dxe5 Rc7 21.Bxd5 exd5 22.Qxf5 Qxf5 23.Rxf5 Bc8 24.Rf6 Be6 25.Rh6 Bf5 26.Rd2 Rg5 27.h4 Rg4 28.Ne2 Bg6 29.Nd4 [29.h5 Rh4 30.Nd4 Rxh5 31.Rxh5 Bxh5=] 29...Kf8 30.h5 Kg7 31.hxg6 Kxh6 32.gxf7 Rxf7 33.Nxc6 Rb7 34.b3 Rb5 35.e6 Re4 36.Nd4 Rb6 37.Kf2 Kg6 38.Re2 [38.Rd3+/=] 38...Rxe2+ 39.Kxe2 Kf6 40.Ke3 Rb7 41.Kf4 Rc7 42.g4 h6 43.Ke3 Rc3+ 44.Kf4 a4 45.e7 Kxe7 46.Ke5 Kf7 47.Kxd5 Rxc2 48.bxa4 Rc3 49.Nb5 Rg3 50.Nd6+ Kf8 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eric Jégo Blackmar-Diemer Gambit book

Our BDG friend Eric Jego has successfully completed his Blackmar-Diemer Gambit book, which is the 2011 English edition of his 2010 book Gambit Blackmar-Diemer (French edition). Below are some comments about this new edition. For my review of his original French edition, see my posting on Tom Purser's blog.

The things I do like are major and many. Here are 14 of them.
1. The book is 164 pages written in English, which I read much better than French.
2. Jégo did an excellent job selecting interesting examples recent BDG play.
3. Over 50 times the players have been noted with FIDE titles (GM, IM, FM, WFM).
4. The 287 games have just about the right amount of verbal annotations.
5. While English is not Jégo's first language, game notes are very understandable.
6. The games are divided into chapters by variation grouping lines together.
7. A rectangle box is drawn around the key move when games are in a different line.
8. Jégo has provided statistical analysis for each variation as to wins, draws, losses.
9. Jégo weaves throughout his 14 Elementary Principles in notes to every game.
10. The type of play is noted for each game: Classical, Correspondence or Blitz.
11. Most of the games come from actual live tournament play (“Classical”).
12. At the bottom of each page there is help to locate which lines are found above.
13. Actual ratings are given for each player when known.
14. There is an index to the players at the back of the book.

The things I don't like are very minor and very few.
1. The font is slightly smaller in the English edition, but that allows the book to save a dozen pages keeping costs down. It is still quite readable for me.
2. The philosophical waxing of Dany Sénéchaud regarding gambit play does not flow well in English, but I think I understand what he is saying. It only takes up three pages.
3. The first initials of the players have been omitted. Instead of “Purser T”, for example, it is just “Purser”.

Like the previous book, I highly recommend this book. I love it. Buy it!

This book has only three of MY games; these are not well known. Two were draws vs BDG experts. Today's game was an unrated club game vs Eugene Schrecongost played at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1998. The game starts out as a BDG Accepted Ritter Variation (5.Nxf3 b6) but transposes to a Bogoljubow Variation 5.Nxf3 g6. White's set-up is not the best for the Bogo. "Schreck" played this game very well, except for missing my mate at the end. The notes below are mine.

Sawyer-Schrecongost begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 b6 The Ritter Variation. 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bd3 g6 Giving the position a Bogoljubow flavor. This line is very unusual. [7...Bb7] 8.Qd2 Bg7 9.0-0-0 Bb7 10.h3 Bxf3 11.gxf3 0-0 12.Bh6 c5 13.d5 Ne5 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Qg5?! [15.Be2 with compensation] 15...Nxd3+ [15...Nxf3 16.Qf4 Nd4=/+] 16.Rxd3 h6 17.Qf4?! Qd6 18.Qe3 Nh5 19.Kb1 Rad8=/+ Black has a good position and the extra pawn. The game is not over, but his position is certainly better. 20.h4 Qf4? 21.Qe1? [21.Qxe7=] 21...Rd7 22.Rg1 Rfd8 23.Ne4? f6!? [23...Rxd5!-+] 24.Rg4 Qf5? [24...Qe5!-+] 25.f4?? Nxf4!? [25...Qxg4-+] 26.Ng5?? Rxd5?? 27.Qxe7+ with mate to follow. I got away with one here. 1-0 Black resigns. 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Tactics Alekhine Four Pawns Attack

The Alekhine Defence has interested me since the 1972 Spassky-Fischer match where Bobby played it a couple times. Overall my database has 15 games were Bobby Fischer played the Alekhine Defence: 8 as White and 7 as Black.

My oldest recorded game playing the Alekhine was as White against Mike Eldridge. I was reminded of that when he posted a comment to my King's Gambit blog on the Cooper Principle. Mike played the Alekhine Defence against me in a tournament game from 1974. Some week I will blog the games from that event.

I started playing the Alekhine Defence as Black in 1981. Against 1.e4 I have played 1...e5 or 1...Nf6 about half the time and all other moves the other half. Thus I have played both 1...e5 and 1...Nf6 thousands of times each in recorded games.

Today I play Black against the computer Rookie in a wild Four Pawns Attack blitz game. Black has four targets to aim at in the center, so in my 2000 book the Alekhine Defense Playbook I wrote: We could call this variation the Four Targets Attack.

Rookie chose the aggressive 10.d5 line where White sacrifices a rook on h1 to get a pawn to e7. Black can make threats against the White king and the advanced e-pawn while offering to exchange material leading to a winning endgame. In this game, I do manage to get to such an ending.

Rookie-Sawyer begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 [The Four Pawns Attack.] 5...dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 [Rapid development is essential for Black.] 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 Be7 [The traditional main line, but there are several alternatives. 9...Bg4; 9...Bb4; 9...Nb4; 9...Qd7] 10.d5 [10.Be2 0-0 11.0-0 f6 12.exf6 Bxf6 is the alternative line.] 10...exd5 11.cxd5 Nb4 12.Nd4 Bd7 13.e6 fxe6 14.dxe6 Bc6 15.Qg4 Bh4+ 16.g3 Bxh1 17.gxh4 0-0 18.Qg5? [The losing move. Black is not going to just sit there and let White carry out the threatened 19.e7. Undoubling the h-pawns is not a good enough reason to swap queens. On 18.0-0-0 Qf6 is the correct line.] 18...Qxg5 19.hxg5 c5 20.0-0-0 cxd4 21.Bxd4 N4d5 22.e7 Rfe8 23.Bxb6? Nxb6 24.g6 hxg6 25.Bh3 Bc6 26.Be6+ Kh7 27.Re1 Bd7 [27...Rxe7 28.Bg8+ Kxg8 29.Rxe7 Nd5 30.Nxd5 Bxd5-+ Black is up a piece in the endgame.] 28.Bxd7 Nxd7 29.Ne4 Rec8+ 30.Kb1 Nf6 31.Nd6 Rcb8 32.Re3 Ne8 33.Ne4 Nf6 34.Nd6 Ne8 35.Nf7 Kg8 36.Ne5 Nf6 37.Nxg6 Kf7 38.Ne5+ Kxe7 39.Nc6+ Kd6 40.Nxb8 Rxb8 41.Ra3 a6 42.Rg3 Rg8 43.a4 g5 44.Rb3 Kc7 45.Rg3 g4 46.Rc3+ Kb8 47.Rc4 g3 48.hxg3 Rxg3 49.Ka2 Nd5 50.Rd4 Ne7 51.Re4 Nc6 52.b4 Rd3 53.b5 axb5 54.axb5 Rd4 55.Re8+ Rd8 56.Re4 Nd4 57.b6 Kc8 58.Re3 Kd7 59.Rc3 Kd6 60.Kb1 Kd5 61.Rc7 Rb8 62.Rc1 Nc6 63.Rc2 Re8 64.Kb2 Re4 65.Ka3 Rb4 66.Rxc6? Desperation. 66...Kxc6 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Win Symmetrical Pawn Structure

Winning in a symmetrical position is much more difficult as a rule than winning from a more unbalanced position. However, as Jeremy Silman points out, there are many types of imbalances. Even if pawn structure and material are even, there are issues to consider.

My four strategical considerations in symmetrical positions:
1. Elements of space, time, king safety, better minor pieces and combinative skill.
2. Entry points to determine where either side can invade the territory of the other.
3. Exchanges of material, determine which pieces to swap and when to swap them.
4. Endgames are coming so if there is no middlegame mate, head to the best ending.

Recently I have been working on opening repertoires that I can play reasonably well vs higher rated opponents. I want ones that use my current skill set. Memorizing openings is an important skill. I know the value of memory, but I don't want to require myself to do too much memory work at my age just to survive a game.

Another thing I try to avoid is sharp openings that require me to be tactical genius to survive. Some times I do get creative combinative ideas during games, but I other times nothing comes to me. I prefer positions where the strategy is obvious to me, even if the position is mostly complicated and tactical. That way if I don't see a combination right off, I still know which direction to point my army.

The Petroff, or Russian, is an opening I've played off and on for decades with mixed success. I bought Konstantin Sakaev's new book: "The Petroff: an Expert Repertoire for Black." I used to be an Expert, so I like the title already. It covers everything after 1.e4 e5.

One of the Petroff Defence variations after the popular 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 is the symmetrical 5.Qe2. Things start out rather even, but it is still a chess game. Below is another ICC blitz game vs "blik". There is an interesting contrast in this game: White plays based on middlegame evaluations while Black plays based on endgame considerations. White was slightly better in the middlegame and lost in the endgame.

blik (2200) - Sawyer (1969) begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.d3 Nf6 7.Bg5 Nbd7 8.Nc3 Qxe2+ [I use a little phrase to remind myself in this line: "Take on eight."] 9.Bxe2 h6 10.Bd2 c6 11.0-0-0 Be7 [11...d5=] 12.d4 d5 13.Bd3 0-0 14.Rde1 Bd6 15.Kb1 Re8 [Black offered to swap rooks and also frees up the f8 square for a king or knight.] 16.Rxe8+ Nxe8 17.Re1 Kf8 18.Be3 Ndf6 19.Ne5 Ng4 20.Nxg4 Bxg4 21.h3 Bh5 22.Ne2 Bg6 23.Bxg6 fxg6 24.Bf4 g5 25.Be5 Rd8 26.f4 gxf4 27.Nxf4 Nc7 28.h4 [28.Nd3 Bxe5 29.Nxe5=] 28...Bxe5 29.dxe5 Re8 30.Rf1 Kg8 31.Ng6 Ne6 32.g4? Nf8 33.Nxf8 Rxf8 34.Rf5? [This allows a exchange which helps Black go from a winning rook ending into a more easily won pawn ending.] 34...g6 35.Rf6 Rxf6 36.exf6 g5 [Of course one cannot allow White to play g4-g5.] 37.h5 Kf7 38.Kc1 Kxf6 39.Kd2 Ke5 40.Ke3 c5 41.Kf3 Kd4 42.a3 a5 43.a4 b6 44.Kf2 Ke4 45.Ke2 Kf4 46.Kd2 Kxg4 47.c3 Kf3 48.Kc2 g4 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Checkmate: Five Quick Fool's Mates for Black

You cannot force a Fool's Mate. You just have to notice that your opponent allows it and you win. What you are looking for as Black is a weakness in the diagonal h4-e1 early in the game when the White king is still on its original square.

Usually White plays 1.e4 or 1.d4 and there is no Fool's Mate likely. However if one of White's early pawn moves are with the f-pawn, g-pawn, or h-pawn, possibilities open up. Here are five examples that occurred in my own games.

BabyBach-Sawyer begins 1.g4 d5 2.f4 e5 3.Nc3 Qh4# 0-1
What happens with premature kingside expansion?
Permanent king elimination.

Colquitt-Sawyer begins 1.c3 e5 2.f3 d5 3.g4 Qh4# 0-1
What happens when a beginner plays an expert?
Hopefully the beginner learns a lesson.

JackBach-Sawyer begins 1.h3 d5 2.f4 e5 3.fxe5 Qh4+ 4.g3 Qxg3# 0-1
Can a pawn on g3 stop a Fool's Mate?
Not when both the h-pawn and f-pawn have moved.

guest1586-Sawyer begins 1.h4 Nc6 2.h5 d5 3.f3 Qd6 4.g4 Qg3# 0-1
How does Black develop on the queenside and mate quickly?
Black notices a serious White weakness on the kingside.

ramani2kmd2004-Sawyer begins 1.f3 e5 2.Nh3 d5 3.a4 Bxh3 4.gxh3 Qh4# 0-1
Does developing a kingside knight early in the game help?
Yes, but... it helps a lot more if the knight is on f3.

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Checkmate: Five Quick Fool's Mates for White

Checkmate! We love them. Fool's Mate is a type of checkmate early in the game where the losing king is trapped on its original square. The mate comes on the diagonal from h1-e1 or h5-e8. Here are five quick wins I had over the years.

Sawyer-dragonmaster555552000 begins 1.Nc3 h6 2.e4 g5 3.d4 f6 4.Qh5#
My opponent told me that he had a plan, but he never got a chance to carry it out. It is obvious that he intended to put all his pawns on the dark squares. The next game he went for the light squares, but that game was not a Fool's Mate. 1-0

Sawyer-dede begins 1.d4 g5 2.Bxg5 f6 3.e4 fxg5 4.Qh5# 1-0
Black sacrifices a pawn. White sacrifices a bishop.

Sawyer-luisongo2345 begins 1.d4 Nc6 2.e4 g5 3.Bxg5 f5 4.Qh5# 1-0
In this line as Black I prefer 2...e5 or 2...d5.

Sawyer-dincogan begins 1.f4 f5 2.e4 g6 3.exf5 gxf5 4.Qh5# 1-0
A very fast win for a Symmetrical Bird's Opening.

Sawyer-northchess3 begins 1.d4 f5 2.e4 g6 3.exf5 gxf5 4.Qh5# 1-0
Black does best to accept the Staunton Gambit with 2...dxe4.

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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