Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lucky You! French 6.h4 Alekhine Gambit

Recently I had do a computer analysis of one of my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit wins. In a certain position the computer spit out the following comment:
"BLUNDER - Lucky you! Your opponent blundered! The best move was..."

Below is a game where I decided I would try to learn the French Defence Classical 6.h4 Alekhine Gambit. I screwed up the opening, but the game itself gives me a point to analyze. That is the blessing of blitz chess. After the game you analyze the opening and give yourself at least one new move. If I ever get here again, I plan to play this, etc.

The French Defence variation after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 usually has its main line continue 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bxe7 which I have played 67 recorded times as White. Now I am trying to learn 6.h4!? I figured that I would just play it in blitz games whenever it came up and see what happens.

So what did I learn? In the 3 minute game Sawyer (2034) - gdesportes (1855), play went 6.h4 c5 and I opted for 7.dxc5?! Clearly that was not right. Looking it up after the game I see that the best continuation for White is 7.Bxe7! Kxe7 (or 7...Qxe7 8.Nb5 0-0 9.Nc7+/=) 8.Qg4 Kf8 9.Nf3+/=. So, now I know. In the actual game, as we were playing quite fast, I decided to try to find a perpetual or maybe more if I got lucky. Man, would I get lucky at the end! I am sure the computer would say "Lucky you!"

Sawyer-gdesportes, Live Chess, 26.08.2012 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 c5 7.dxc5?! [I see now that the best continuation for White is 7.Bxe7! Kxe7 (or 7...Qxe7 8.Nb5 0-0 9.Nc7+/=) 8.Qg4 Kf8 9.Nf3+/=] 7...Nc6 8.Qg4 Ndxe5 9.Qg3? [White still has 9.Bxe7!= ] 9...Bxg5 [9...f6!=/+] 10.hxg5 Ng6 [10...Qa5] 11.Nf3 [11.Nb5!+/=] 11...Bd7 12.0-0-0 [The move 12.Nb5!+/- was not registering with me.] 12...Qa5 13.Kb1 0-0-0 14.Bd3 [14.Nb5!+- threatens to check on d6 and fork on f7 with discovered check.] 14...Qxc5 15.Bxg6 hxg6 16.Rxh8 Rxh8 17.a3 Rh5 18.Ne5 Nxe5 19.Qxe5 Qxf2 20.Qxg7 Rxg5 21.Qf8+ Kc7 22.Qc5+? [We were playing quickly and I just looked for check. I had a draw here with 22.Ne4! Qe2 23.Qd6+ Kc8 24.Qf8+ Kc7=] 22...Bc6? [Black naturally blocks the check. Stronger would have been to grab the free queen with 22...Qxc5-+ Now I was contemplating the power of 23.Nb5! when all of a sudden I saw the simple...] 23.Qxf2 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Eric Rodriguez Cub Roars Black Lion

My opponent Eric Rodriguez was 16 years old at the time of this game and yet another super-kid master. With this, I had played eight USCF tournament games since moving to Florida. Four of those games were vs masters who were too young to vote. Add up the ages of my opponents in those games and you equal MY age. I never played competitive chess until I was an adult. I am amazed and impressive to watch these kids perform.

FIDE master Eric Oscar Rodriguez has been very successful in his early chess career. In recent events his USCF rating is sometimes over 2400 and other times just under, currently 2383. Rodriguez has a peak FIDE rating of 2352 and 95 FIDE losses. This means Eric has spent a lot of time playing in events vs higher rated opponents.

Most of the time, Eric Rodriguez wins! Against me Rodriguez played the Lion System which has been very popular since this game. Black basically plays d6, Nf6, Nbd7, e5, c6, Be7, 0-0 and often Qc7 and or h6, depending on what White does. I took an aggressive approach. Alas I made a serious mistake with 9.Nxd5? for which I was well punished. Instead of winning any material, Eric Rodriguez played for checkmate.

I was so disgusted with my play in this game that I quit the tournament and did not play again for eight months. My opening knowledge, tactical skill, analytical ability and strategical approach were all in shambles. I realized that my game needed a major rebuilding at this point. One thing I started doing was a lot more tactical exercises.

Sawyer - Rodriguez, Florida Class Championship (3), 07.01.2006 begins 1.Nc3 Nf6 2.d4 [I was kind of hoping for a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Many times I play the Alekhine Defence here as White with 2.e4.] 2...d6 3.e4 Nbd7 [3...g6 is the main line Pirc Defence. Black is playing the position like a Philidor Defence, but White never played Nf3 to transpose completely.] 4.Be3 e5 5.d5 c6 6.f3!? Be7 7.Qd2 0-0 8.g4!? [What a bold move! This might work vs a lower rated class player, but it is risky vs a master. Castling 8.0-0-0 first seems like a wiser choice.] 8...cxd5 9.Nxd5? [This is a mistake, bringing the Be7 to life. Much better is 9.exd5 a6 10.g5 Nh5 11.Nge2 b5= Equal. Although I am reminded of Tal's comment: If the position is equal, Black is better!] 9...Nxd5 10.Qxd5 Bh4+ 11.Kd2[At this point I decided to make it to move 20 or just play on until I lost a pawn. My original idea was 11.Bf2 Bxf2+ 12.Kxf2 missing until now that Black has 12...Qb6+ 13.Kg2 Qxb2-+ winning.] 11...Nf6 12.Qb3 d5 13.exd5 Nxd5 At this point I expect to be mated fairly soon, though I am not down material. 14.Bd3 Nxe3 15.Kxe3 Qd4+ 16.Kd2 Qf2+ 17.Ne2 Rd8 18.Raf1 Bg5+ 19.Kd1 Qe3 20.Ke1 Be6 21.Qa3 e4 22.fxe4 Bxg4 23.h4 Bxe2 24.Bxe2 Rd1+ Alas, I never had lost any material, but my king will mated next move. 0-1

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

Vienna Game: Exciting or Boring?

The Vienna Game is hard to figure. The opening has attracted both aggressive attacking masters and very strategical minded masters. The Vienna can be sharp or dull, tactical or positional. White can play for an early advantage or for a long term endgame edge. As Black it can be easy to obtain equality and difficult to play to win.

When I have played the Vienna Game as White, I usually opt for either 3.f4 or 3.Bc4. Sometimes I get the Vienna after 1.Nc3 Nf6 2.e4 e5. (I also play 2.d4 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 Blackmar-Diemer Gambit). The other move order of the Queens Knight Attack allows the Napoleon Attack 1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3! which I have played over 400 times, mostly vs weaker competition. Stronger players rarely play 1.Nc3 e5 as Black.

For Round 2 of the 2006 Florida Class Championships, I faced Mike Piehl. He was rated 1827 at the time and had chosen to play up. This was the first time that I met Mike. He was very friendly and I enjoyed our conversations. Piehl was about to jump his rating 100 points to be near mine. I helped a little. At another tournament some time later, we were playing next to each other. I lost to a master while he drew an expert. Mike told me that my chess is as exciting as his is boring with his basic 1.e4/2.Nc3.

Here we begin 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nc3, which presents Black with a dilemma. Usually the 1...Nc6 player intends to play 2...d5 or 2...e5, whichever avoids main lines the best. I chose 2...Nf6, but after 3.g3 I decided that this time I felt more like playing 3...e5 than 3...d5. Chistoph Wisnewski in his "Play 1...Nc6!" recommends Black head into a sort of French Defence with 2...e6 3.g3 d5. At least I played this game sharply trying to win.

Piehl-Sawyer, Florida Class Championship (2), 07.01.2006 begins 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Now Black can choose between pushing either center pawn two squares. The choices are both playable and about equal in strength. 3...e5 Okay, I go into a Vienna. [3...d5!? transposing into a sort of Alekhine 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nxc3 6.bxc3 e5=] 4.Bg2 [4.Nf3 Bc5 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 a6 7.0-0=] 4...Bc5 5.d3 d6 6.Na4 0-0 [6...Bb6=] 7.Nxc5 dxc5 8.f4 c4! I like this idea because I sacrifice a pawn for activity. 9.Nf3 White does not accept the pawn. [9.fxe5 Ng4 10.Nf3 cxd3 11.Qxd3=] 9...cxd3 10.cxd3 Bg4 11.0-0 Qd6 12.Qb3 b6? [12...Bxf3! 13.Bxf3 Rad8 14.Qxb7 Qc5+ 15.Kh1 Rxd3-/+] 13.Qc3 [13.fxe5! Qc5+ 14.Kh1 Nd7 15.Bf4+/=] 13...Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Nd4 15.fxe5 Qxe5 16.Bf4 Nxf3+ 17.Rxf3 Qxc3 [17...Qh5!? I never considered this move. 18.Kg2+/=] 18.bxc3 c5 19.a4 [I was concerned that White might continue: 19.Bd6! Rfe8 20.e5 when I planned to play 20...Re6 21.exf6 (21.d4!?) 21...Rxd6 22.fxg7 Rad8 23.Raf1 Rxd3 24.Rxf7 This was as deep as I looked, figuring that maybe Black could survive.] 19...Rfe8 20.c4!? White makes his d-pawn even weaker to make b6 weaker. 20...Nd7 21.a5 f6?! A dubious move, after which I could easily lose. 22.Rf2 Ne5 23.Bxe5 fxe5 24.Rb2 Rab8 25.axb6 axb6 26.Ra7 Re6 27.Rf2 Rf8 28.Rxf8+ Kxf8 29.Kf2 Re7 30.Rxe7 Kxe7 31.Ke3 Kd6 [Another idea is 31...Kf6 32.Kf3 (There is no time to run to the queenside. 32.Kd2? Kg5 33.h3 h5 34.Kc2 h4-+) 32...Kg5=] 32.Kd2 Kc6 33.Kc3 [Fritz evaluates the position as even: 0.00. 33.Kc3 h5 34.h3 g5 35.g4 h4 36.Kd2 b5 37.cxb5+ Kxb5 0.00/20 ] 1/2-1/2

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

Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen

My final game from the ICCF World Cup V postal chess tournament that started in 1981 took a long time to play. According to my records, my opponent was someone named Peter Heine Nielsen. We played the game below and I never thought any more about it. I played 1000+ correspondence games years ago. This one stood out in my mind because of the blockade at the end. International postal chess was very slow back then. We probably played at a pace of about one move every 10-12 days.

I remember reading a while back on a web site that Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen played a lot of chess as a child. I do not know if the famous Danish grandmaster was an 8 year old opponent of mine. Recently I sent him a message in English but have not yet received a reply. I have never seen another player named Peter Heine Nielsen, so I will take this opportunity to pay tribute to one of the best players in the world.

Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen is currently ranked #89 in the world rated 2662. His peak FIDE rating was 2700. Nielsen became an International Master in 1991 and Grandmaster in 1994. He has won the Danish Championship five times. Peter has written two books on the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon (with Carsten Hansen) and is one of the players used by Aagaard in his book "Inside the Chess Mind". Nielsen wrote Chapter 25 in "Experts On The Sicilian". He also writes for New In Chess.

In the Polish Opening game below, I followed an idea from the famous Lalic-Uhlmann, Sarajevo 1980, 0-1 in 29, which I had seen in Chess Informant. This was to meet 1.b4 with 1...d5 2.Bb2 Qd6!? intending 3...e5 building a big center. The game was basically even throughout, but I let things slip. I lost my queen in the middlegame, however I got a rook and bishop for it. I was in trouble but somehow managed to build a blockade to keep White's king from approaching my king - avoiding mating possibilities.

Nielsen-Sawyer, corr ICCF 1981 begins 1.b4 d5 2.Bb2 Qd6 3.a3 e5 4.Nf3 [Or 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nf3] 4...Nd7 [4...e4 5.Nd4 Nf6; 4...f6 5.e3 Be6] 5.e3 Ngf6 6.c4 c6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nc3 Nxc3 9.Bxc3 Be7 10.Qc2 0-0 11.d4 Bf6 12.Bd3 g6 13.0-0-0 Qc7 [13...exd4!? 14.Nxd4 a5=/+ might favor Black.] 14.h4 exd4 15.Nxd4 Ne5 16.f3 Nxd3+ 17.Rxd3 Qe7 18.h5 Rd8? [The position is equal after 18...a5 19.hxg6 fxg6 20.Qb3+ Rf7=] 19.hxg6 hxg6+- [Better was 19...fxg6 20.Nxc6 bxc6 21.Rxd8+ Qxd8 22.Qb3+ Qd5 23.Qxd5+ cxd5 24.Bxf6 with drawing chances due to bishops of opposite color.] 20.Qb2 Kg7 21.Ne6+!? [After 21.g4!+- White is winning due to the weakness on the long diagonal.] 21...Bxe6 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Bxf6+ Qxf6 24.Rh7+ Kxh7 25.Qxf6 Rd3 26.Qh4+ Kg8 27.Qf4 Rxa3 28.Qb8+ Kh7 29.Qxb7 a5 30.bxa5 Rxa5 31.Qxc6 Ra1+ 32.Kd2 Ra2+ 33.Kd3 Rxg2 34.Qd6 Rg5 35.e4 Rh5 36.Kd4 Kg7 37.f4 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Andrew Martin Plays Blackmar-Diemer

Christoph Scheerer has two quotes early in his book "The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit: a modern guide to a fascinating chess opening". One is by me and the other by our chess friend International Master Andrew Martin.

"The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is not a boxing jab; it is a knockout punch - and White gets to throw the first punch! Stop playing for the endgame; play to end the game! Be a winner. Play the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit!" (Rev. Tim Sawyer)

"[...] the infamous and rather generous Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. I must say that I am delighted to see these moves as Black because I understand that my opening choice has been successful." (IM Andrew Martin)

We know our chess friend Andrew Martin is not a regular BDG player. However years ago Martin did a 100 minute FOXY Openings DVD on the this gambit. He recommended it for fun or a surprise weapon. Below in a five minute blitz game Andrew Martin trots out a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Euwe. Tomorrow see Andrew Martin on the Black side.

AndrewMartinIM (2301) - Sponz (2124), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 27.01.2011 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bd3 Nbd7 7.0-0 c5 8.Bg5 cxd4 9.Ne4 Be7 10.Qe1 Qb6 11.Qh4 h6 12.Rae1 Black is behind in development and his king seems stuck in the center. 12...Rf8 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Ne5 Nd5 15.Qg3 Note how all Martin's pieces are aimed at the center or the kingside. 15...Ne3 16.Qxg7 Nxf1 17.Rxf1 Bd7 18.Rxf7 [Given more time, White might choose 18.Nxf7!+- ] 18...Rxf7 19.Qxf7+ Kd8 20.Nf6 Qxb2 [If 20...Bb5 21.Ng6+/-] 21.Nfxd7 Qc1+ 22.Bf1 Qe3+ 23.Kh1 d3 24.Bxd3 [White should grab the rook which threatens mate after 24.Qg8+! Kc7 25.Qxa8 dxc2 26.Qb8#] 24...Qe1+ 25.Bf1 Kc7 26.h3 Bd6 27.Nc5+ Kb6 28.Qxb7+ Kxc5 29.Qc6+ Kd4 30.Nf3+ Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wall Studying With Chessbases

I have been using chessbases almost every day for more than 20 years. Most of these are used for data, specifically game collections and opening positions. In the early days, the games were collected in text files. After that came more famous database programs that continue until this day. I tried four well known brands. In 1990 I started using Bookup which continues today as Chess Openings Wizard (COW). The problem with Bookup programs is that they eat up a huge amount of disk space, but they are good for training.

A few years later I switched to Chess Assistant which collects games but also was good at studying positions. I dabbled in NICbase. Information can be easily moved from one brand of database to another through the use of PGN (Portable Game Notation) files. Finally I switched to ChessBase about 1995 which has become the standard. I use ChessBase everyday. It collects games, creates opening books (.ctg files), searches positions, condenses databases (.cbv) and analyzes games with chess engines.

In the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Teichmann game Bill Wall vs "Chessbases", we can learn a few things by checking the database. First we see that after 5.Nxf3 Bg4, 6.Bg5 is rare. My database shows 16 different 6th moves and 5 of them are more common. The best by test is 6.h3 where White performs on average 100 ratings points above his rating over about 6000 games. 6.Bg5 performs 29 points above his rating but the selection of only 39 games makes those stats quite unreliable. In the game below Black starts well, but then misses chances, blunders, and loses.

Wall-Chessbases, Internet .30), 1996 begins 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.Bg5 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 [Usually Black plays 8...c6=/+ with a solid position.] 9.Ne5 Bxe2 10.Nxe2 c5 11.c3 Qb6 12.Qb3 cxd4 13.Qxb6 axb6 14.Nxd4 Rd8 15.a3 Nbd7 16.Bf4 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Rd5 18.Rae1 Rad8 19.Bc7 R8d7= [This allows White to pick off a pawn with an equal game. Black could have set a trap with 19...Rc8-/+ 20.Bxb6? Nd7!-+] 20.Bxb6 e5 21.Nf5 Rb5 22.Nxe7+ Rxe7 23.Bd8 Re6 24.Bxf6 gxf6 25.Re2 Rb3 26.Rf3 Reb6 27.Rff2 Kg7 28.Rd2 Kg6 29.Rfe2 Kg7 30.Kf2 h6 31.Kf3 R6b5 32.Ke4 Kg6 33.g4 Rc5 34.h3 Rc4+ 35.Ke3 f5 36.Rd6+ Kg5 37.Kd3 Rf4 38.a4 fxg4+- [Black could make use of the pin and exchange a set of rooks with some chances to draw. 38...Rd4+ 39.Rxd4 exd4+/=] 39.Kc2 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Von Hennig-Schara Semi-Tarrasch

One of my games was very short in the ICCF Cup V from 1981. My opponent L. Hartung played the Von Hennig Schara Gambit from the Queens Gambit Declined. Just as we were coming to the good stuff, while still in the book, Black stopped playing. Probably we had been playing 2-3 months. I will use this post to show the main ideas of this gambit.

Lars Schandorff in "Playing the Queen's Gambit - a Grandmaster Guide" writes:
"The Von Hennig-Schara Gambit uses a similar move order to the Tarrasch, but these two lines have little else in common. In this case Black gives up a central pawn for quick development, but it is hard to believe it can be good."

The Von Hennig Schara is a tricky and trappy gambit that scores well in practice. According to my database, Black's performance with 4...cxd4 is equal to his rating. The Hennig Schara scores 3% higher than the Tarrasch, but Tarrasch opponents are rated 44 points higher. If you like this gambit, and play it regularly, you will score as well with 4...cxd4 as with anything else. Using my game as the tree, here are the key lines.

Sawyer-Hartung, corr ICCF, 1981 begins 1.d4 e6 2.c4 [2.e4 French Defence] 2...d5 [2...f5 Dutch Defence] 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4!? [This is the Von Hennig-Schara Gambit. Otherwise 4...exd5 Tarrasch Defence] 5.Qxd4 [5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Qxd5 Nc6 transposes] 5...Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 [7...Be6 8.Qxd8+ Rxd8 9.e3 Nb4 10.Bb5+ Ke7 11.Kf1] 8.Nf3 [8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 (9.Qb3 Bc5 10.e3 0-0 11.Be2 Be6=) 9...Bc5 10.e3 Qe7 11.Be2 (11.a3 0-0-0 12.Qc2 Kb8 13.Be2 g5 14.b4 g4 15.Nd2+/-) 11...0-0-0 (11...0-0 12.0-0 Rfd8 13.a3 Bg4; 11...g5 12.0-0 g4 13.Nd4+/=) 12.0-0 g5 13.b4 Bxb4 14.Bb2 g4 15.Nd4 Kb8 16.Ncb5 Rhg8 (16...a6!?; 16...h5 17.Qa4+/=) 17.Qb3+/=] 1-0

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