Monday, April 30, 2012

Back In The Chess Tournament Saddle Again

After several days away from my chess blog to actually work on PLAYING chess, I am back to daily posting. Over the weekend I played in the Space Coast Open in beautiful Cocoa Beach, Florida. I played in the Master/Expert section and scored 2-3. All my opponents were younger than me, and they all played well.

One of my "bucket-list" goals is to get a FIDE rating, hopefully before I turn 60 years old in 2013. Probably my rating would have been much higher if I had done this 20-30 years ago, but I did not live near many FIDE events most of the time. Life happened. Here I am.

I have only played in 14 tournaments in the past 20 years. Most of those games were not FIDE rated. Now I should have 21 FIDE rated games (I think I need 30.). Almost all of my opponents have been rated 2000-2300 USCF. This weekend the average rating of my opponents was over 2100.

The games from this weekend will be annotated and posted next week. I resume posting games on this blog tomorrow with some recent tournament games just sent to me from a reader. I do appreciate your encouragement and comments.

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Haines Attack Queen Pawn Opening

Ray Haines wins a nice kingside attack 10 days ago at a tournament in Houlton, Maine. The game begins with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6. Roger Hardison as Black transposes into a Queen's Gambit Declined after White played the anti-Nimzo-Indian move 3.a3.

My database shows that of the six most popular third moves for White, the first three have winning records for White: 3.Nc3, 3.Nf3 and 3.g3. The next three have winning records for Black: 3.Bg5, 3.a3 and 3.e3.

The curious aspect of this game is that White loses (or sacrifices) a rook on move 11, and Black refuses to take it given two opportunities. After this, the position slowly drifts toward White's favor. Later Black leaves his king insufficiently defended. Ray Haines rips open the kingside with a classic Bxh7+ sacrifice.

Haines - Hardison, Houlton, ME, 14.04.2012 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.a3!? d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Nc3 0-0 Now we have reached a Queen's Gambit Declined type position where White's move a3 amounts to a wasted tempo. 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e4 Nxc3 8.bxc3 c5 This has the feel of a Semi-Tarrasch Variation where again White's a3 serves little purpose. 9.Bc4 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qc7 11.Qe2? [Correct is 11.Bb3!= ] 11...b5 12.Bd3 Qc3+ 13.Nd2 b4!? [It appears that Black could just grab the rook and run away: 13...Qxa1 14.0-0 Qxd4-+ At this point Black is trending up. Moves that improve his position from here are easy and obvious. White on the other hand, being a rook down, pretty much would have to pull off a checkmate.] 14.0-0 bxa3? [Black misses his last chance to pick off the rook. 14...Qxa1 15.Nf3 Qc3-+] 15.Bxa3 Bxa3 16.Nc4-+ [16.e5!?] 16...Qxd4? [16...Bb4! 17.Nb6 axb6 18.Rxa8 Nc6-+] 17.Rxa3 Nc6? [17...e5!=] 18.e5! Bd7? [Black should survive with 18...g6 19.Be4+/=] 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 20.Qh5+ Kg8 21.Rh3 Black is fried. 21...f5 22.Nd6 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Monday, April 23, 2012

109 - 1.e4 Chess Repertoire: Ruy Lopez Closed

On this Main Line Monday we get to the most popular and most critical lines. Here we have the Closed Ruy Lopez which includes the Marshall Attack. In this section, White makes use of his space advantage to focuse on possible Black targets all over the board.

[Event "Repertoire 1.e4"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2012.04.23"]
[Round "?"]
[White "1.e4 White 109"]
[Black "Ruy Lopez Closed"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "C99"]
[Annotator "Sawyer,Timothy E"]
[PlyCount "37"]
[EventDate "2012.04.23"]
[SourceDate "2012.04.23"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 (6... d6 7. c3
Bg4 8. d3) (6... O-O 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Nxe5) 7. Bb3 d6 (7... O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5
Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 (11... Nf6 12. d4) 12. d4 Bd6 13. Re1 Qh4 14. g3
Qh3 15. Be3 Bg4 16. Qd3 Rae8 17. Nd2 Re6 18. a4 f5 (18... Qh5 19. axb5 axb5 20.
Nf1) (18... bxa4 19. Rxa4 f5 20. Qf1) 19. Qf1 Qh5 20. f4 bxa4 21. Rxa4) (7...
Bb7 8. c3) 8. c3 O-O (8... Na5 9. Bc2 c5 10. d4 Qc7 11. Nbd2 O-O 12. h3) 9. h3
Na5 (9... Bb7 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a4 h6 13. Bc2 exd4 14. cxd4 Nb4 15.
Bb1 c5 16. d5 Nd7 17. Ra3 f5 (17... c4 18. axb5 axb5 19. Nd4) 18. Nh2) (9...
Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. a4 c5 16.
d5 c4 17. Bg5 h6 18. Be3 Nc5 19. Qd2 h5 20. Bg5) (9... Nd7 10. d4 Bf6 11. a4
Bb7 12. Na3) (9... h6 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. Nf1 Bb7 (12... Bd7 13. Ng3
Na5 14. Bc2) 13. Ng3 Na5 14. Bc2 Nc4 15. b3) (9... Re8 10. d4 Bb7 11. Nbd2) (
9... Be6 10. d4 Bxb3 11. axb3) 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 (11... Nd7 12. Nbd2 cxd4 (
12... exd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. d5) 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nb3) (11... cxd4 12. cxd4 Bb7
13. Nbd2 Qc7 14. d5) (11... Bb7 12. Nbd2 cxd4 (12... Qc7 13. d5) 13. cxd4) (
11... Nc6 12. d5) 12. Nbd2 cxd4 (12... Nc6 13. d5 Nd8 14. a4) (12... Bd7 13.
Nf1 Rfe8 14. Ne3) 13. cxd4 Nc6 (13... Bb7 14. d5 Rac8 15. Bd3 Nd7 16. Nf1) (
13... Bd7 14. Nf1 Rac8 15. Ne3 Nc6 16. d5) 14. Nb3 a5 15. Be3 a4 16. Nbd2 Bd7 (
16... Nb4 17. Bb1 Bd7 18. a3 Nc6 19. Bd3) 17. Rc1 Qb7 18. Qe2 Rfe8 19. Bd3 *

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Robert Grattan Vienna Game 5.Qxe5+

My record was 3-2 in the APCT 84 Rook-20 section. All the games were being played at the same time, but the earlier five finished quickly. Today's game last a long time at the postal chess speed of about one move per week.

I was playing Robert Grattan who was rated 1851 at one point. A draw would cost me a bunch of rating points. Grattan chose the Vienna Game reaching a position that could also be a Bishop's Opening. Trying to mix it up, I went for 3...Nxe4, the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation as Eric Schiller has dubbed it in his excellent book on that line.

Instead of grabbing my offered Exchange sacrifice, White chose the drawish 5.Qxe5. I went to great lengths to avoid the draw, only to find myself losing. We both played some inaccurate moves in a long fight that lasted from late 1984 to late 1985.

Grattan-Sawyer, corr APCT 84R-20 1984 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 White's 2nd & 3rd moves can be played in either order. 3...Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Qxe5+ [White choses a drawish continuation. The main line of the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation goes 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 when Black has some compensation for the Exchange. This used to be a favorite line of mine as White.] 5...Qe7 6.Qxe7+ Bxe7 7.Bb3 Nf5 8.Nf3 c6 9.0-0 d5 10.Re1 [Or 10.d4 0-0 11.Re1 Bf6=] 10...Na6!? 11.d4 Nc7 12.Ne2 Ne6 13.c3 Bd7 [13...f6! prevents Ne5 and allows Kf7.] 14.Ne5 Nd6 15.Nxd7 [15.Bc2] 15...Kxd7 16.Bc2 g6 17.b3 Rae8 18.Nf4 Ng7 [Good is 18...Bf6= but I wanted to avoid exchanges that would make the game even more drawish.] 19.Bb2 f5?! [19...Ngf5!?] 20.Nd3 Nf7 21.c4! White stands better, but I am still fighting to unbalance the game so I can win. 21...Bf6? 22.Ne5+? [22.cxd5! cxd5 23.Nf4 Ne6 24.Nxd5 and Black cannot regain the pawn due to 24...Bxd4? 25.Bxd4 Nxd4 26.Nf6+] 22...Bxe5 23.dxe5 Ne6 [23...Ke6 24.cxd5+ cxd5 25.b4+/=] 24.cxd5 cxd5 25.Rad1 Kc6 26.b4 Re7 27.a4 Rd8 28.Bb3 Red7 My attempts to avoid a draw are working. Now I am losing. 29.Ra1 [29.f4! h5 30.g3+- and White is winning.] 29...Kc7 30.Rad1 [Better is 30.Rac1++/- ] 30...b6 31.b5 Nfg5 32.f3? [After months of play, suddenly I am able to reshuffle my knights and regain equality. 32.Rc1++/- ] 32...Nc5 33.Bc2 Nge6 34.Bd4 Kb7 35.g3 Rc7 36.Re2 Nxd4 37.Rxd4 Ne6 38.Rd1 Rc3 39.f4 d4 40.Rd3 Rdc8 41.Rdd2 R8c4 42.Kf1 Nc5? [Releasing the blockaded pawn is very wrong. Black should move his king toward the e-pawn. 42...Kc7-/+ ] 43.e6! Nxe6 44.Rxe6? [White returns the favor. 44.Bd3! Rxd3 45.Rxd3 Nc5 46.Re7+ Kb8 47.Rd1 d3 48.Rxh7 Rxa4 49.h4+/=] 44...Rxc2 45.Rxc2? [With this White remains a pawn down. Correct is 45.Re7+ Rc7 46.Rxc7+ Rxc7 47.Rxd4 and a draw is very likely.] 45...Rxc2 46.Re7+ Rc7 47.Re2 d3 48.Rd2 Rc3 49.Kf2 Kc7 50.Ke3 Kd6 [Now Black returns to the pawn. 50...Ra3 51.Rxd3 Rxa4-/+] 51.Rxd3+ Rxd3+ 52.Kxd3 Kd5 53.Kc3? [The only move to draw is 53.h3!= ] 53...Ke4 54.Kc4 h5 55.h4 Kf3 56.Kd5 Kxg3 57.Kc6 Kxh4 58.Kb7 g5!? [The Queen and Pawn ending is a tough one to win. 58...Kg4 59.Kxa7 h4-/+] 59.fxg5 Kxg5 60.Kxa7 h4 61.a5 bxa5 62.b6 h3 63.b7 h2 64.b8Q h1Q 65.Qg3+ Kh5 66.Qf2? [66.Qe5 Qe4 67.Qxa5 at least eliminates all but one of Black's pawns.] 66...Qe4 67.Qh2+ Kg6 68.Qg3+ Kf7 69.Qb3+ Qe6 70.Qa4 Qe7+ 71.Ka6 Qd6+ 72.Kxa5? This allows Black to swap queens and the f-pawn wins easily. 72...Qd8+! 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Paul Shannon Polish vs Dutch

I loved playing in American Postal Chess Tournaments (APCT) run by Helen Warren. Usually they had about 1000 active players. My peak was 30 years ago in 1982 when I was ranked 13th. Often I was in the top 30.

An interesting aspect of most correspondence chess ratings is they changed with each game finished. Postal chess was played at a pace of about one move per week. Players typically had 20-30 games in progress at a time. Thus during the months you played an opponent, his rating might easily go up or down 100 points. The tournaments tended to be class events where most opponents were rated close to each other at the beginning, but maybe they were far apart by the end.

Paul Shannon and I played in APCT during pretty much the same years. Our ratings were usually very close, whether they were going up or down. In APCT we played four times, each winning one. I posted another Shannon game in September 2011.

By 1984 our ratings had dropped off some. Around this time Shannon was rated 2020 and I 2028. Here Paul plays the Polish Opening vs my Dutch Defence. In the end it looks a lot like a Closed English Opening. Chances were pretty much even throughout. At one point I won a pawn, but then I got careless in the ending.

Shannon-Sawyer, corr APCT 84R-20 corr APCT, 1984 begins 1.Nf3 f5 2.b4 d6 3.Bb2 e5 4.e3 Nf6 5.c4 c6 [The most popular continuation is the line: 5...Be7 6.d4 e4 7.Nfd2 d5 8.b5 c6 9.a4 0-0 10.Qb3 Be6 11.Nc3 Nbd7 12.Be2=] 6.Be2 g6 7.d3 Bg7 8.Qb3 Qe7 9.Nbd2 Be6 10.0-0 h6 11.Nh4 Kf7 12.f4 Ng4 13.Bxg4 Qxh4 14.Be2 [White can make use of the loose Black king with 14.Bh3! Nd7 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.e4+/-] 14...Nd7 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.d4 exd4 17.Rf4?! [Better is 17.Nf3 Qe7 18.exd4+/=] 17...Qe7 18.Bxd4 Rhe8 19.Qc3 Kg8 20.Rf2 Rad8 21.Rd1 c5 22.Bxg7 [22.bxc5 Nxc5 23.Bf3 b6=/+] 22...Qxg7 23.Qxg7+ Kxg7 24.a3 cxb4 25.axb4 Nb6 [The knight should be centralized to maximize threats. 25...Ne5!-/+ ] 26.Rff1-/+ [26.c5=] 26...Rd7 [26...Re7!-/+] 27.c5 Nd5 28.Bb5 Nxe3 29.Bxd7 Bxd7 30.Nc4 Nxd1 31.Rxd1 Re7 The combination has net me an extra pawn, but White's advanced queenside pawns are a threat. Eventually I mishandled them. 32.Nd6 Bc6 [32...b6! 33.Ra1 bxc5 34.bxc5 Bc6=/+] 33.b5 Be4 34.Ra1 Re5? [Black has good chances after 34...Kf6 35.Rxa7 Bd5 36.Kf2 Rd7 37.Ra4 Ke5 38.Nc4+ Bxc4 39.Rxc4 Kd5 40.c6 Rc7 41.Ra4 bxc6 42.b6 Rb7-/+] 35.c6+/- 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, April 20, 2012

John Martin French Tarrasch

My next game in this APCT 84 Rook-20 event was a French Defence Tarrasch with 3...Nc6. One thing that makes this game different is I began with 1.e4 instead of the 1.d4 BDG Declined games played in the past couple days.

A typical fact of American Postal Chess Tournaments (APCT) events was that a section was opened and begun before it was filled. This was reasonable done by faith that more players would pay to play in that event, which would fill out another section. The first round of the Rook events had seven players each, three games with each color. When a new player was added, they already new what colors they had vs each opponent. The newly arriving player would notify the opponents that they and entered and begin play.

It is highly possible that when I first got the assignments, I was gung ho on the BDG. Then by the time I was assigned to John Martin (rated 1809), my worry of the two BDGs in progress might have led me to play 1.e4. It is also possible that Martin was assigned earlier and I got excited about the BDG later. As White in the Tarrasch French, I simply tried to improve my position from move to move. Black does not make major blunders; he just drifts toward a weaker and weaker position until he loses significant material.

Sawyer-Martin, corr APCT 84R-20 corr APCT, 1984 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nh6 [Far more popular is 4...Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Nb3 (or 6.Be2 ) ] 5.c3 f6 [Black fights for e5 instead of the more normal fight for e4 with 5...f5] 6.Bd3 Nf7 7.0-0 Be7 8.Re1 0-0 9.Nf1 Bd6 10.Ng3 dxe4 11.Nxe4 White has a comfortable space advantage. 11...Be7 12.Bf4 [12.b4+/- attempts to set up a positional bind.] 12...Re8 13.Qc2 f5 14.Ng3 Bd6 15.Bxd6 Nxd6 16.Rad1 Qf6 17.Ne5 Ne7 18.f4 Nd5 19.Qf2 Qh6 20.Ne2 Nf6 21.h3 g5 22.Qg3 g4 23.hxg4 fxg4 24.Nxg4 Nxg4 25.Qxg4+ Kh8 26.Ng3 Rf8 27.Qh5 Qg7 [White does well with the queen exchange also: 27...Qxh5 28.Nxh5 Bd7 29.Kh2 Be8 30.Re5+-] 28.Qe5 Bd7 29.Nh5 Qxe5 30.dxe5 and White wins more material. 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

John Ashcraft BDG Declined

Most of the time when White faces the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Declined, Black has selected to play 4.f3 Bf5, the Vienna Variation. That leaves White with a choice of 5.fxe4 (gambit play) or 5.g4 (unbalanced play). Both are very playable.

I have preferred 5.fxe4 (about 250 times vs 150 for 5.g4), because in that line White's pieces are better co-ordinated. After the normal 5.fxe4 Nxe4 6.Qf3, Black must choose between 6...Nd6 7.Bf4 or 6...Nxc3 7.bxc3. I chose the unusual 7.Qxf5 line which I have only played four times. I got a better position than I should have.

In my early BDG days, there were no strong computers, no databases, and few books on the gambit in English. Eric Schiller early work did not appear until 1986. My opponent in this game was John Ashcraft, rated 1837. I believe he was John R. Ashcraft, but I could not swear to it. I am pretty sure that he was not John David Ashcroft, former United State Attorney General (2001-2005).

Sawyer-Ashcraft, corr APCT 84R-20, 1984 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Blackmar-Diemer Gambit 4...Bf5 Vienna Variation 5.fxe4 [The alternative is 5.g4 Bg6 6.g5 Nd5 7.Nxe4 with an unbalanced but equal position.] 5...Nxe4 Hitting f5 and b7. 6.Qf3 Nxc3 [The main line is 6...Nd6 7.Bf4 with good compensation for White.] 7.Qxf5!? [Play usually continues 7.bxc3 Qc8 8.Bc4] 7...Nd5 [7...e6!=/+ looks promising.; A mistake would be 7...Qxd4? 8.Qc8+ Qd8 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.bxc3 and White is up a bishop for two pawns.] 8.a3 [8.c4 e6 9.Qe4=] 8...Qd7 9.Qd3 g6 10.Nf3 Bg7 11.Be2 0-0 12.Bd2 [12.0-0=] 12...Nc6 13.c4 [13.0-0-0=] 13...Nb6 14.Bc3 Na4 [14...e5!-/+ tries open the center while the White king is still in the middle.] 15.0-0 Rfd8 16.Rad1 Qd6 17.Qe4 Nxc3 18.bxc3 Qxa3 19.Ng5 It appears that Black can just play 19...Bf6. According to my records, Black resigned here, but he may have just forfeited. At any rate, another very fortunate beginning to my BDG career. 1-0

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