Friday, June 15, 2012

Tricky Cambridge Springs Defence

The Queens Gambit Declined variation known as the Cambridge Springs Defence was one of the first tricky openings that I played. I learned it from studying Capablanca and Alekhine. Emmanuel Lasker played it in 1892. The variation got its name from the site of the 1904 chess tournament where it was played mostly by the one-eyed Teichmann.

Along Lake Erie, about halfway between Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York is the city of Erie. That corner of Pennsylvania was famous 100-160 years ago for the discovery of oil in Titusville. It contributed to the success of John D. Rockefeller. South of Erie and north of Titusville is the community of Cambridge Springs.

One day I drove through Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania to see if any place looked like where might have played the tournament. It is a small rural town of a couple thousand people. Later I found out that they played at the Rider Hotel which burned down in 1931.

Ed Sawyer and I grew up in eastern Maine, near the Canadian border to the east. We met at some chess tournaments and became friends. Ed would go on to become a master in regular tournament play and I became a master in correspondence chess. Curiously I won both our tournament contests and Ed won more of our correspondence games. Here is an early Cambridge Springs Defence postal game where I won.

Sawyer,Edward - Sawyer,Timothy corr, 21.06.1974 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.Nf3 [The first trick is on the way to the Cambridge Springs: 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Nxd5? Nxd5 7.Bxd8 Bb4+! 8.Qd2 Bxd2+ 9.Kxd2 Kxd8-+ and Black is up a knight for a pawn.] 5...c6 6.e3 Qa5 7.Nd2 [There are many tricks in the Cambridge Springs where Black can win material. For example: 7.Bd3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 (8.Bxf6 Qb4=/+) 8...Ne4=/+; 7.Bxf6 Nxf6 8.a3 Ne4 9.Rc1 Nxc3 10.Rxc3? (10.Qd2!=) 10...Bxa3-+; 7.Qc2 Ne4 8.Bd3 Nxg5 9.Nxg5 dxc4-+; 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.e4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qxc3+ 10.Bd2 Qa3=/+] 7...Bb4 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Bd3? [White loses a piece. He should have played 9.Be2= ] 9...dxc4 10.Bxh7+!? Nxh7 11.h4 Nxg5 12.hxg5 g6 13.Qe4 Qxg5 14.g3 Nf6 15.Qg2 Rd8 16.Nf3 Qa5 17.Qh3 Bxc3+ 18.bxc3 Qxc3+ 19.Kf1 Qxa1+ Black will be up a bishop, two pawns and two rooks for his queen. 20.Kg2 Qxh1+ 21.Qxh1 b5 22.Ne5 Kg7 23.f3 Bb7 24.Qe1 a5 25.a3 Rdc8 There is no way to stop the Black queenside pawn expansion. 26.e4 c5 27.dxc5 Rxc5 28.Qc3 b4 29.Qd4 Rxe5 30.Qxe5 Rc8 31.Qb5 bxa3 0-1

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