Saturday, December 31, 2011

20 Favorite Chess Posts of 2011

Happy New Year 2012! This is a complete revision of this post on 12/31/2011 with updated numbers as of May 2017. Here is my top 20 Favorite Chess Blog list for the year 2011. I wrote a total of 174 posts on this blog during the year 2011. Many have been deleted. Only the most popular posts remain on my blog. Enjoy!

1 - 10

4016. Checkmate: Five Quick Fool's Mates for Black

3535. Checkmate: Five Quick Fool's Mates for White

3396. How to Win With 150 Attack vs Pirc Defence

1543. Trying to Avoid English Opening with 1.c4 d5!?

1015. Attacking the Old Benoni Defence

737. Passive Pawn Moves Permit A Killer King Hunt

670. Hickman Dutch Defence Leningrad Variation


665. Slav Defence: From Opening to Endgame

651. Tactics in Alekhine Four Pawns Attack

636. Van Geet Variation in Scandinavian Defence

633. Diemer-Duhm Gambit attack: Caro-Kann Defence

572. Review Eric J├ęgo book Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

551. 100 Chess Years of Russian Petroff Defence

533. Copy Cat Chess Moves Playing Against Yourself

446. Master Baishanski attacks Queen Knight Defence

428. Polish Problem: 1.d4 b5 Not Good

422. Bill Campion and the Englund Gambit 1.d4 e5!?

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Master Baishanski Attacks Queen's Knight Defence

About eight years ago I was playing chess games at Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. Most of the players that showed up to the cafe to play were mid-level to weaker level in skill. Some players were more experienced rated tournament players. The fact that I scored +35 =4 -1 shows that the players were not superstars.

During the times I personally visited this loosely unorganized club in 2003-2005, there was one opponent who stood out as better than all the rest. Milos Baishanski was USCF expert rated 2050. Usually Baishanski was rated in the 2100s, but he has been rated as a master over 2200. I was an expert rated 2010 at the time. Milos Baishanski is a notable chess coach of successful players. We only played this one skittles game.

We had watched each other play other players at Borders from time to time. It is likely that he knew I was playing 1...Nc6, the Queens Knight Defence. But there was no reason for either of us to prepare anything special for an unrated skittles game. As I recall Milos is roughly my age, i.e. not a young rising star. Our better playing days are behind us, but we can still play a great game against anyone from time to time.

Baishanski-Sawyer, Orlando,FL, 15.01.2004 begins 1.d4 Nc6!? Black plays provocatively, daring the d-pawn to advance. 2.d5! Most players are hesitant to play this move. This advance causes Black the most concern IF White follows it up accurately. 2...Ne5 3.f4 Ng6 4.e4 e6 5.dxe6 dxe6 [5...fxe6!? is more unbalanced. In that line Black sometimes plays Ng8-h6.] 6.Qxd8+ Kxd8 Black cannot castle, but the queens are off the board. 7.Nc3 [Boris Avrukh recommends 7.Nf3 Bc5 and tries to prove that White has more than a tiny edge.] 7...Bb4 [7...Bc5!?] 8.Nge2 Nf6 9.a3 Bc5 10.h3 Ke7 [10...Bd7!=] 11.g3 Rd8 Even though Black could not castle, one could argue that Black is ahead in development. 12.Bg2 c6? [Ouch. A serious mistake. White can force that exchange of Black's active dark squared bishop with advantage. [12...a5 13.Bd2 e5=] 13.Bd2 [13.Na4! Bb6 14.Nxb6 axb6 15.Be3 c5 16.e5 Nd5 17.Bd2+/-] 13...Kf8 [A waste of time. 13...e5!=] 14.0-0-0 Bd7 15.e5 Nd5 16.Ne4 Now White stands better. 16...Be3 17.c4 Bxd2+ 18.Kxd2 Nde7 19.Ke3 Be8 20.h4 Nf5+ 21.Kf2 Ke7?! Occupying a square a knight could use. 22.h5 Nf8 23.Bf3 Rxd1 24.Rxd1 Rd8 25.Rxd8 Kxd8 26.c5 Nd7 27.b4 b6 28.Bg4?! We stopped playing here. [White should have played 28.g4 Ne7 29.Nd4+- with a large positional edge to White in view of the weak queenside targets and the trapped bishop on e8.] 28...f6+/= [At this point, the Borders store closed. Therefore play ceased. My intention was to play 28...f6, but did not get a chance to play it. White has a slightly better game with due to a better bishop. Material is even. There has not been a breakthrough. The game is still very much alive.] 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Passive Pawn Moves Permit A Killer King Hunt

In 2003 Jim Loy published a nice collection of ten King Hunt games. You may want to check out his chess website pages. Here is Jim Loy's definition of a King Hunt:

"The process of chasing your opponent's King from a square where he is protected to a square where he is vulnerable is called a "king hunt." The King can be chased perhaps two or three squares or to the other side of the board. He may even be chased out to the center of the board, then back to his original 'safe' square, where he is no longer safe. The easiest king hunt to calculate is where you keep checking the King until he is checkmated."

The same year Jim Loy published this (although he notes that he wrote it originally in 1970), I played a game with a King Hunt at Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. My opponent was Steve Thompson. I think I met Steve again at another place and time, but in case it was not the same guy, I will not use that story at this time.

Steve is a mid-level club player who usually plays better than this game might imply. Here he makes four passive pawn moves in his first 10 moves. Why do chess players push a pawn just one square in the opening when it can go two squares? Sometimes advancing a pawn only one square is necessary, especially as Black.

Usually pushing a pawn just one square in the first 10 moves as White is a sign of passive play. It invites Black to take over the initiative. An exception might be 4.f3 in the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit or 3.c3 in the Smith Morra Sicilian Defence, but in both those instances, the pawn is immediately attacking a center pawn. Grandmasters do play an occasional pawn one square early as White, but it is preparation for later aggression, such as 9.h3 in the Closed Ruy Lopez or 5.e3 in the Semi-Slav Defence.

In a chess opening White has by virtue of the first move an obvious advantage in speed of development and in space on the board. When he wastes times pushing a pawn just one square, it gains minimal space and fails to develop a piece. Today's game begins as a Nimzowitsch Defence which is a Queens Knight Defence against 1.e4. Note that Black gains an advantage by quickly developing his pieces. The winner of a chess game is almost always the first player to develop all four minor pieces.

Thompson-Sawyer,Orlando,FL, 10.07.2003 begins 1.e4 Nc6 2.a3?! The first passive pawn move. Why? This move is not a blunder per se, but it has to be dubious. In the race to develop pieces, this move does nothing. 2...Nf6 3.d3 [The second passive pawn move. 3.Nc3 d5=] 3...d5 [I wanted to directly attack and threaten the e4 pawn. 3...e5 is very fine.] 4.d4? [White changes his mind from his original plan, but this just drops a pawn. This would have been great on move 1 or 2. Better is 4.exd5 Nxd5=] 4...dxe4 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.c3? The third passive pawn move. Development with Ne2 or Be3 seems more natural. 7...e5 Directly attack White's center again. 8.Be3 exd4!? [8...Nd5!-+ might be the strongest move.] 9.cxd4 Be7 10.h3 The fourth passive pawn move. A knight should be developed. 10...0-0 11.Ne2 Nd5 12.Bd2? [12.Nbc3 or 12.0-0] 12...Bg5 [12...e3 13.Bxe3 Nxe3 14.fxe3 Bh4+ is also great for Black.] 13.Be3? Bxe3 14.fxe3 Nxe3 Attacking the queen. 15.Qb3 Nxg2+ It is hard to believe that the White king, who has not moved, will capture the Black bishop on c6 in six moves. 16.Kd2? [Hoping to connect the rooks. 16.Kd1 Qf6 17.Nbc3 Qf3-+] 16...Qg5+ 17.Kc3 Qe3+ Black will pick up the knight on e2. White decides he does not want that to be check, so... 18.Kb4 a5+ 19.Kc5 [19.Kc4 drags the game out only one more move. 19...Bd5+ 20.Kxd5 Qxb3+ 21.Kc5 Ne3 22.Nbc3 Qb6#] 19...Qxb3 20.Nec3 b6+ [I missed the fastest mate. 20...Qb6+ 21.Kc4 Ne3#] 21.Kxc6 Qc4+ The Black rooks will mate the White king very quickly. 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Roman Accelerated Dragon Sicilian

GM Roman Dzindzichasvili has long recommended the Sicilian Defence. During the past decade his videos and dvds have been all the rage among tournament players of all ages. Roman is passionate about the lines he plays and explains them thoroughly. From 2005-2009 there have been various editions of his book "Chess Openings for Black, Explained: A Complete Repertoire" written by Roman Dzindzichasvili and co-authored by his friend former US champ GM Lev Alburt, Roman's student GM Eugene Perelshteyen and Al Lawrence who has written a lot on chess.

Dzindzi's favorite line for Black against 1.e4 is the Accelerated Dragon Sicilian Defence. The book has this to say about the Sicilian Defence:
"...the Sicilian Defence is a fighting choice that yields Black the most victories. A search of more than 100,000 games from international play shows that the Sicilian yields Black a 30.5% chance of winning a full point and, in addition, a 34.2 % of drawing. Impressive results for the second-to-move -especially against high level competitors who know how to make the most of their opening initiative."

Today's opponent was Juan Magarinos in a game that was played at Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. Juan was a tournament player would had hit his peak USCF rating at 1798 (just shy of 1800) four years before this game. During that time period, I was frequently playing 1.Nc3. The game starts as a Queens Knight Defence but after 1...c5, White chose to head for an Open Sicilian Defence with an eventual e2-e4. I missed several chances to get an advantage. We finish in an even endgame when the store closes and we have to quit.

Sawyer-Magarinos, Orlando,FL, 04.12.2003 begins 1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 [2.e4 is the Closed Sicilian] 2...g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bg7 5.e4 [Transposing to the Open Sicilian Defence.] 5...Nc6 6.Be3 a6?[This leaves weaknesses on the dark squares and does not help in the center. Correct is 6...Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 a5 reaching the main line of book Dzindzichashvili book.] 7.Bc4 [Good but not the best.  Very powerful is 7.Nd5!+/= e6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 (8...dxc6 9.Bb6 Qd7 10.Nc7+ Kf8 11.Bc5+ Ne7 12.Qxd7 Bxd7 13.Nxa8+-) 9.Bb6 Qh4 10.Nc7+ Kf8 11.Qd6+ Ne7 12.Nxa8+-] 7...e6 8.0-0 [8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Qd6+/=] 8...Nge7 9.Qd2 b5 10.Bb3 Bb7 11.f3 Rc8 12.Rad1 0-0 13.Nde2 [13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.Qd6+/=] 13...Ne5 14.h3 [14.f4!? Ng4 15.Bd4 Bxd4+ 16.Nxd4 b4 17.Nce2 Bxe4 18.h3 Nf6 19.Qxb4+/=] 14...b4 15.Na4 d5 16.exd5 [16.Qxb4!+-] 16...Nxd5 17.Bxd5 Bxd5 18.Nb6 Nc4 19.Nxc4 Rxc4 [19...Bxc4 20.Qxb4 Qc7=] 20.b3 Rc8 21.Qxb4 Rxc2 22.Rd2 Qc8 23.Rxc2 [23.Nf4 Ba8 24.Rxc2 Qxc2=/+] 23...Qxc2 24.Qd2 Qxd2 25.Bxd2 Rc8 26.Rc1 Rxc1+ 27.Bxc1 Kf8 28.Kf2 Ke7 29.Ba3+ Kd7 30.Nf4 Bb7 31.Nd3 Bd4+ 32.Ke2 Kc7 33.Nc5 [The position is equal. The game was discontinued at this point (most likely because the store was closing), thus I list it as a draw for database purposes.] 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Copy Cat Chess Moves: Play Against Yourself

How do you handle it when your chess opponent copies your moves? Imitation may be a form or flattery, but you cannot both win the same game! If moves are copied to checkmate, White will win first. One idea is to make it risky for your opponent to keep copying your moves. Usually threats, captures and checks will create a needed imbalance.

Before he won the World Championship, Jose Raul Capablanca played a humorous game in 1918 where his opponent started copying his moves once they reached the Four Knights Game. I'm guessing the game was played in a simultaneous exhibition. At any rate, the great "chess machine", as Capa was called, had no trouble finding a quick a suitable finish.

I continue my games played at a Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. My opponent this time was one Marty Martinez. Not only does he copy my moves. Marty was playing my own favorite Black defence against me when I had White. He copies me for the first couple moves, but then goes his own way. I take this opportunity to comment a little on the opening theory of this line in the Queens Knight Defence and French Defence.

Sawyer-Martinez, Orlando,FL, 08.01.2004 begins 1.Nc3 [1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.0-0 0-0 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5 Bg4 8.Nd5 Nd4 9.Nxb4 Nxb5 10.Nd5 Nd4 11.Qd2 Qd7 12.Bxf6 Bxf3 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Bxg7+ Kxg7 15.Qg5+ Kh8 16.Qf6# 1-0 Capablanca,J-NN/New York 1918] 1...Nc6 Being a copy cat has some value. You have to watch out for tactics. Any winning combination or checkmate will favor White. 2.d4 d5 3.e4 e6 [The French Defence and the Nimzowitsch Defence both meet here. Black has three reasonable alternatives. It is risky but possible to continue copying for one more move with 3...e5!? 4.dxe5 d4! (4...dxe4 5.Qxd8++/- and the copy cat moves end here.) 5.Nd5 f5 6.exf6 Nxf6 7.Bg5 Be6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Bc4 Ne5 10.Qxd4 c6 11.Nc7+ Qxc7 12.Bxe6 Rd8 White seems to be okay, but his king is still in the center, and Black has open lines and active pieces.; 3...dxe4 4.d5 when Black must choose between 4...Ne5 (or 4...Nb8 ) ; 3...Nf6 4.e5 Nd7 5.Nxd5 Ndb8 6.Ne3 Qxd4 and both sides have to decide what to do about the pawn on e5.] 4.Nf3 [4.e5+/= is the alternative move.] 4...dxe4 [4...Nf6 5.e5 Ne4 6.Bd3 f5 is recommended in the 2007 repertoire book "Play 1...Nc6! Christoph Wisnewski (now Scheerer). ] 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.c3 Ba5 7.a4 Here comes a little deception. A strong player would immediately see the danger to his Ba5. My opponent is a more mid-level player. When I was at that level, I missed more things than I do now. 7...Nge7 8.b4 Bb6 9.a5 Bxd4 10.Nxd4 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Qxd4 12.cxd4 Black has only one extra pawn for his lost bishop. It is just a matter of time. 12...0-0 13.Be3 Nf5 14.Ng3 Nxe3 15.fxe3 e5 16.Bc4 exd4 17.exd4 Bg4 18.0-0 Rad8 19.d5 Rde8 20.Rae1 Rxe1 21.Rxe1 Bd7 22.Ne4 [22.Re7!+-] 22...c6 23.dxc6 Bxc6 24.Nd6 h6 25.Nxf7 Black is on the ropes and does not block the final flurry of punches. 25...a6 26.Ne5+ Kh7 27.Nxc6 Rc8 28.Bd3+ g6 29.Ne7 Re8 30.Bxg6+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Van Geet Variation in the Scandinavian Defence

The Queen's Knight Attack with 1.Nc3 is a complete opening system where White can choose to transpose into variations of well-known openings or just completely avoid them. Many players have tried 1.Nc3 and contributed ideas to the opening. My personal choices of White first moves has been approximately: 1.d4 50% of the time, 1.e4 25%, 1.Nc3 15%, and all other moves 10%. This means I have played 1.Nc3 over 3200 times.

One hundred years ago the chief known proponent of 1.Nc3 was the British player John Herbert White, one of the co-founders (along with R.C. Griffith, who died 1955) in 1911 of Modern Chess Openings (MCO). In the early editions, 1.Nc3 had a whole page or section to itself. After White died in 1920, later editions reduced coverage to one or two columns.

Before J.H. White, there were games by Arved Heinrichsen from the Baltic area. As I recall from my years studying 1.Nc3 (I sold off all those books), MCO cited a game or two by Heinrichsen, whose idea was to play 2.e3 and make the opening a type of reversed French Defence. Sixty years ago Ted Dunst played 1.Nc3 in some notable American events and MCO named the opening the Dunst Opening.

In my lifetime, IM Dirk Daniel Van Geet (Netherlands), correspondence grandmaster Ove Ekebjaerg (Denmark), correspondence expert Anker Aasum (Norway) and FM Harald Keilhack (Germany) have all done a lot to promote 1.Nc3. IM Zvonimir Mestrovic (Slovenia) has played a wide variety of openings; he played 1.Nc3 hundreds of times.

These same players have played the Queens Knight Defence (1...Nc6) as well. What it proves is that specialization in an opening can bring great success. Even if the computer evaluations of the lines are only equal, the experience of playing it over and over will help a player deal with plans and tactics faster as they build on prior understanding.

Below is a third game I played vs Doug Haddaway at a coffee shop in Borders bookstore in Orlando, Florida. Tomorrow I will move on to other opponents.

Sawyer-Haddaway, Orlando,FL, 20.11.2003 begins 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 [We get a position in the Scandinavian Defence that could be reached via 1.e4 d5 2.Nc3. Aasum liked to play 2.f4 heading for a Bird's Opening hybrid. When I am in a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit mode, I play 2.d4 intending 2...Nf6 3.e4!?] 2...d4 [Van Geet Advance Variation. 2...dxe4 is the major alternative, the Van Geet Exchange Variation. 2...Nf6 is a variation of the Alekhine Defence.] 3.Nce2 [3.Nd5?! is very risky.] 3...e5 4.Ng3 Van Geet prefers to play this knight to g3 immediately. 4...Nc6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.d3 [With this solid set-up White intends to eventually expand on the kingside. 8.c3 playing to expand on the queenside is an active and common plan.] 8...h6 9.a3 Creating a retreat square for the Bc4 in case of ...Na5. 9...Be6 10.Nd2!? [White is going after the bishop. 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.c3=] 10...a6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Nc4 b5 13.Nxd6 cxd6 14.f4 d5 [14...exf4 15.Bxf4=] 15.fxe5? Nh7? [15...Nxe5=/+] 16.Rxf8+ [16.Qg4! threatening either Qxe6+ or Bxh6.] 16...Qxf8 [16...Nxf8 17.Bf4+/-] 17.exd5 [17.Qg4!+-] 17...exd5 18.Qg4 Nxe5 19.Qxd4 Qf6?? hangs the rook. 20.Qxd5+ Kh8 21.Qxa8+ Nf8 22.Be3 Ng4 23.Bc5 [23.Rf1! nails the knight on f8.] 23...Kh7 24.Qxf8 Qxb2 25.Qf5+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Bill Campion and the Englund Gambit 1.d4 e5!?

William Campion was one of those people who had a profound impact on my chess life. Bill was a typical club player who showed up regularly at the Chaturanga Chess Club, a few miles north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dan Heisman also played there. Bill and his friends played anyone they could. Bill beat the lower rateds and lost to the higher rateds. I played him myself in unrated or blitz games from time to time.

Don't confuse my friend William Campion with the much stronger American international correspondence player named William R. Champion. I plan to show my ICCF game vs Champion in this blog, which was played in a different tournament at a later date.

One day I showed Campion my hand written analysis and games on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Bill took them and entered them into his computer. Then he ran nice printouts and gave them to me. That whole process was much more difficult back in the 1980s. He was a great encouragement to me. Campion was a champion in my book. Thanks again!

From that point on, I started what would become the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Keybook. At first I set up the 700 games format for my own use and enjoyment. In 1989 I contacted Bob Long of Thinkers' Press; he agreed to publish my first book. I spent three years writing it. It first appeared in print in February 1992. The USCF listed it as its 4th best selling chess book for 1992.

I got paired against Campion in my USCF Golden Knights postal event 88N12. Since I played postal chess against people from all 50 states and 30 countries, it was rare to play someone from my own little chess club. Kinda cool though. I continued my boldness with an Englund Gambit that ended up being sort of a reversed BDG Teichmann.

Campion-Sawyer, corr USCF 88N12 1988 begins 1.d4 e5 Englund Gambit 2.dxe5 f6 Soller Variation 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.exf6 Nxf6 This becomes a sort of reversed BDG, but a move behind in development. Black has compensation for about half a pawn, but he is down a full pawn. 5.c4 White fights for control of the d5 square. 5...Bc5 6.Nc3 d6 7.Bg5!? White has two other excellent choices which give him an advantage. [7.Bf4; 7.e3] 7...0-0 8.e3 h6! This is the thematic approach in the BDG Teichmann after 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3! 9.Bf4 [9.Bxf6 Qxf6 with compensation for the gambit pawn.] 9...g5 10.Bg3 Bg4 Black is ahead in development. 11.h4 Nh5! 12.hxg5 Nxg3 13.Qd5+ Kh8? [13...Kg7! 14.gxh6+ Kh8 15.fxg3 Nb4!=/+] 14.Rxh6+ [14.fxg3! Nb4 15.Qe4 Bf5 16.Qh4 Bxe3 17.Qxh6+ Kg8 18.g4!+- and White would be winning.] 14...Kg7 15.fxg3 [15.Bd3 Nf5 16.Bxf5 Bxf5=/+] 15...Nb4 16.Qd1? [16.Qe4! is a better idea. 16...Bf5 17.Qh4 Bxe3 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.cxd5 Qe7 20.Re6 Bxe6 21.Qh6+ with some possible perpetual checks.] 16...Bxf3? [16...Qe7!-/+] 17.gxf3? [17.Qb1!!+- threatening mate wins!] 17...Qxg5 18.Re6 Rae8 19.Rxe8 Rxe8 20.Ne4 [20.e4 doesn't help. 20...Qxg3+ 21.Kd2 Qf4+ 22.Ke1 Rh8-+] 20...Rxe4 Obvious and good. 21.Kf2 Here I announced mate in three: 21...Qxe3+ 22.Kg2 Qg1+ 23.Kh3 Qh1# 0-1

Copyright 2011 Tim Sawyer. Click here for my latest blog post.

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