Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jeremy Katz Best French Alapin Gambit

Jeremy Katz of Brooklyn, New York, was rated 2256 in USCF postal at the time of this game. I was often listed among the top APCT players 20-30 years ago, played Board 4 for the Xth World Correspondence Chess Olympiade 1982-84 US team, was a USCF Postal Master off and on in 1990, and won an ICCF Master Class section 1995-97. I tend to play chess more by instinct and pattern recognition than by analysis. Of course, often in my correspondence play, like in the game below, I had to make very specific calculations.

Against the French Defence, White can choose from several good third moves. Below is a beautiful little game played in BDG style. Some come to the BDG after years of playing against the French after 1.e4 and feel comfortable with whatever they have been playing. I played all four common responses, 3.Nc3, 3.Nd2, 3.e5 and 3.exd5, as well as the offbeat and risky 3.Be3!? Alapin French. My performance with 3.Be3 has been slightly higher.

The Alapin-Diemer may not be sound, but it can be very dangerous for Black. Bill Wall's 500 French Miniatures gives 16 games (and others that would transpose); White scored 16-0. In 1995 my book on the variation called the "Alapin French, Tactics for White" was published. In the introduction to that book I wrote: "Welcome to the King's Gambit of the French Defense! White gets quick slashing attacks that often win in 20 moves.

John Watson cites my book in his 1996 edition of "Play the French". Watson gave about one half of a page to the Alapin with variations that go beyond move eight in only a few cases. Eric Schiller recommended the Alapin as the gambit to play vs the French Defense in his book "Gambit Opening Repertoire For White".

My new French 3.Be3 Playbook is a step by step guide to the Alapin Diemer Gambit.

Sawyer (1993) - Katz (2256), corr USCF 89NS61, 28.07.1991 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 [We have reached a very normal and popular French Defence.] 3.Be3 dxe4 [Consider the psychology is at work here. Most French Defense players do not 3...dxe4 in other lines. They provoke the e4 pawn to advance to e5; but the e-pawn is just hanging there. If Black wants to refute this gambit, he must make the capture now. Anything else gives White at least equality, and usually the better position with equal material.] 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.f3 exf3 6.Ngxf3 Be7 7.Bd3 b6 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Bg5 [No longer needed on e3, the Bishop redeploys to g5 where it threatens to capture on f6 leaving h7 less defended.] 9...0-0 10.Qe1 [This prepares Qh4 with combinations on h7 and f6.] 10...c5 11.Qh4 [White has compensation for the pawn and practical chances.] 11...h6 [Black challenges White to attack or slink away.] 12.Bxh6 [When Black combines kingside castling with a pawn on h6, I capture that pawn and rip open the protection in front of Black's king.] 12...gxh6 13.Qxh6 Qd5 14.g4! [Black missed this winning pawn advance which takes h5 away from the Black Queen and threatens to dislodge the Knight on f6.] 14...cxd4 15.g5 Nbd7 16.gxf6 Nxf6 17.Kh1 Qh5 18.Rg1+ 1-0 [Revised November 5, 2013]

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Battle of Petroff Repertoire Books

Chess opening repertoire books present a plan for you to follow a set of similar ideas at the beginning of a game. I played a game where the line in a book for White intersected the line given in a book for Black. The two authors had differing views of how to handle the Petroff Defence Kaufmann Attack developed over 100 years ago by Dr. Arthur Kaufmann.

Larry Kaufman in his classic book "The Chess Advantage in Black and White" calls the Petroff by its other common name the Russian Defense. Larry Kaufman follows 5.c4 idea of the Kaufmann with the extra "n" by giving 10 pages of games and analysis for White including this quote: "Some of the lines are a bit drawish, but I'm afraid that is unavoidable when dealing with the Petroff. All we can ask for is a position where most of the winning chances are on the White side, and I believe the Kaufmann Attack fits that description."

For Black, I chose the 2011 book "The Petroff: an Expert Repertoire for Black" by Konstantin Sakaev, whose comment on 5.c4 is: "This is an original move, but that's about the most positive thing that can be said about it." After 5...Nc6 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.dxc3 both writers mention the typical 7...Be7, but the line reminds me of the popular 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 line and the Alekhine Defence Exchange Variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 exd6 6.Nc3 Be7. These lines tend to be solid but potentially passive.

Our authors mention the development of the Black's light squared bishop with 7...Bf5 (Sakaev) or 7...Bg4 (Kaufman). In general after 5.c4 Nc6, Larry Kaufman considers the dynamic approach of castling opposite sides as a good idea to play for a win: 0-0-0 vs 0-0.

Konstantin Sakaev's improvement is 7...g6, where he considers only 8.Be2 and 8.Bd3. My opponent below played something logical but new to me: 8.0-0. We reached a bishop vs knight endgame where the White king had no entries points to invade the Black defenses.

blik (2374) - Sawyer (2109), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 17.09.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 Nc6 [The more popular and passive continuation 5...Be7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3+/= seems to favor White a little bit.] 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 g6 [7...Qf6!?] 8.d4 Bg7 9.Bd3 Qe7+ [9...0-0 10.0-0 Qd7 11.Re1 b6 12.Bg5 Bb7=] 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 Bg4 12.Rb1 [12.h3+/=] 12...b6 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Qxf3 Na5 15.Rfe1 Qf6 16.Qxf6 Bxf6 17.Bh6 Rfe8 18.Bf4 Bg7 19.a3 Kf8 20.Kf1 Rxe1+ 21.Rxe1 Re8 22.Rxe8+ Kxe8 23.a4 Ke7 24.Bg5+ Bf6 25.h4 Bxg5 26.hxg5 c5 27.Ke2 Nc6 28.Be4 Nd8 29.Ke3 Ne6 30.f4 Ng7 31.g4 Ne6 32.Bd5 Nc7 33.dxc5 bxc5 [33...Nxd5+ 34.cxd5 bxc5 should also draw.] 34.Bc6 Ne6 [34...a5 eliminates all possible White king invasions.] 35.a5 Nc7 36.f5 Na6 37.Bf3 Nb8 38.Bd5 Nd7 39.f6+ Kf8 40.Kf4 Ne5 41.Kg3 Ke8 42.Kh4 Kf8 43.Kg3 Ke8 44.Kh4 Kf8 Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Emil Josef Diemer Wins His Last Game

Eventually we will all play our last chess game. Emil Josef Diemer died over 20 years ago. Tom Purser met Diemer and corresponded with him. Here is Tom Purser's announcement in his BDG WORLD, October 1990 and two quotes from BDG WORLD, January 1991:

                                             Emil Josef Diemer 1908-1990
            "We deeply regret to report the death of Emil Josef Diemer on October 10, 1990. A remarkable and unique personality is gone, and chess is much the poorer for it. We received the news just before sending this issue to the printer, much too late to include more than this brief notice. Our December issue will be dedicated to the life and chess of E.J. Diemer." [the next BDG WORLD issue ended up being January 1991]

                                                    From Schach Echo
            "on 10 October the well-known Baden chess theoretician and tournament player, Emil Josef Diemer, died n south Baden Fussbach at the age of 82. ...born on 15 May 1908 in Bad Radolfzell ... work best known to many gambit friends... contributed authoritatively through his exploration of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit."
                                                From Schach Magazin 64
            "In Emil Josef Diemer one of the last 'chess originals' left us. In chess generally and in gambit play especially, to which he dedicated his entire life, his ardent, shining life was fulfilled."        

Here is the last known game Emil Josef Diemer played the BDG Ryder Gambit. Most greedy computers back then did not analyze deep enough to consistently defeat masters.

Diemer - Mephisto, Fussbach, Germany 1990 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Qxf3 Qxd4 6.Be3 Qh4+ 7.g3 Qg4 8.Qg2 [Keeping the queen, aiming at b7 and avoiding a future ...Ng4 fork on Be3 and Qf2.] 8...e5 9.Nf3 Bd6 10.h3 Qf5 11.0-0-0 Nc6 12.Bd3 [12.g4 Qd7 13.Bc4 0-0 14.Ng5= is an alternative.] 12...Qe6 13.Ng5 Qe7 14.Bc4 0-0 15.g4 h6 [A complicated position. 15...Bc5 16.Bd2 Nd4 17.Nce4 Ne6 18.Bxe6 Bxe6 19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.Nxc5 Qxc5 White has some compensation for the double sacrificed e-pawns. 21.Qxb7 Rab8=/+] 16.h4 [16.Nge4 Nxe4 17.Qxe4 Be6 18.Bd3 f5! 19.gxf5 Bxf5 20.Qg2 Bxd3 21.Rxd3 Qe6-/+] 16...hxg5? [Taking this knight is fatal. The modern day Houdini 3 points out that Black has 16...Nxg4! 17.Qe4 Nf6 18.Qg6 Be6 19.Bxe6 fxe6-+ and White does not have enough compensation for three pawns.] 17.hxg5 Nxg4 [Sharp to the end, Diemer has a forced mate in seven and finds his way correctly.] 18.Qe4 Nh6 19.Rxh6 Bf5 20.Qxf5 gxh6 21.Qg6+ Kh8 22.Qxh6+ Kg8 23.Qg6+ Kh8 24.Rh1# 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Petroff Fighting Cochrane Gambit

I did not realize it until later, but this was exactly my 3000th recorded game in which I played 1.e4 e5 with the Black pieces and exactly my 500th recorded game with the Petroff Defence. However, it is only the 6th time I have faced the Cochrane Gambit 4.Nxf7. With this game I am 4 wins vs 2 losses as Black with a plus performance rating.

Funny thing about this game was that I kept refusing to play ...Re8-Rf8 (to the open f-file) until it was too late. I had the advantage until move 19. I think my opponent "foxsden" got into time trouble, because on move 28 he returned the favor. After that I was winning.

foxsden (1645) - Sawyer (2015), ICC 3 1 u Internet Chess Club, 07.06.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7 Kxf7 5.Nc3 [The most common continuation is 5.d4 c5 6.dxc5 Nc6 7.Bc4+ Be6 8.Bxe6+ Kxe6=] 5...Be7 6.d4 Re8 7.Bc4+ Be6 8.Bxe6+ Kxe6 [It seems risky to bring the king out this far, but there is plenty of time to retreat. Why? Because White has only one developed piece, while Black has a knight, bishop and rook already in play.] 9.0-0 Kf7 10.f4 Kg8 11.e5 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nd5 13.Ne4 Nc6 14.c3 Qd7 15.Qh5 Kh8!? [15...Rf8!=/+] 16.Bg5 Qe6 [Again, 16...Rf8!=/+ ] 17.Rf3 [17.Bxe7 Ncxe7 18.Qxh7+ Kxh7 19.Ng5+ Kg6 20.Nxe6 Nf5=] 17...Qg6 18.Qh4 Bxg5 19.Nxg5 h6? [The only move to keep the advantage was 19...Rf8=/+ ] 20.Nf7+! Kg8 21.Raf1 Rf8 22.Rg3 Qxf7 23.Rxf7 Rxf7 24.Qxh6 [24.e6!+-] 24...Raf8 [24...Nf4 25.Rxg7+ Rxg7 26.Qxf4+/-] 25.h3 Nde7 26.e6 [26.Rg4!+-] 26...Rf1+ 27.Kh2 Nf5 28.e7? [28.Qg5 Nxg3 29.Qxg3=] 28...Nxh6 29.exf8Q+ Kxf8 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

John Niven Scandinavian Defence

The Scandinavian Defence (also called the Center Counter Defence) 1.e4 d5 used to be considered a weak opening that few masters would play. However, over the past 40 years it has gradually become more and more popular at the grandmaster level. If White wants a theoretical advantage 2.exd5 is preferred. But 50% of the time as White I transpose to my other passions with 2.Nc3 (Queen's Knight Attack) or 2.e4!? (Blackmar-Diemer Gambit).

After 2.exd5, Black has two ways to recapture. The most popular variations are:
(A) 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5; (B) 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6; or (C) 2...Nf6 3.d4 Bg4.

Once in a while (about 6% of the time), I play this opening as Black. In the 1989 USCF Golden Squires Finals, I chose the Scandinavian Defence vs John Niven. We avoided the critical lines, even though in postal chess we could use books. Play was inaccurate before the game was simplified with all queens and center pawns exchanged. It turned out to be a final round short draw. Our ratings were only 2 points apart - so, no rating change.

Niven (1959) - Sawyer (1961), corr USCF 89SF10, 28.07.1992 begins 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 [3.Nc3] 3...Bg4 4.Nc3 Qa5 5.Be2 [5.h3+/=] 5...Nc6 6.d4 e5 [6...0-0-0!=] 7.Bd2 0-0-0 [Black should try the wild line 7...Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Nxd4 9.Bxb7 Rb8=] 8.dxe5 [Now the tension fizzles out. White should win a pawn with 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.Bxg4+ Nxg4 10.Qxg4+ with little compensation for Black.] 8...Nxe5 9.Nxe5 Qxe5 10.h3 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Qxe2+ 12.Nxe2 Bc5 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Ken Wieder Teichmann Unusual Retreat

Some theory today. If in the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Teichmann 5.Nxf3 Bg4 we see the unusual retreat 6.h3 Bf5, it becomes in effect a Gunderam 5.Nxf3 Bf5 with an extra h2-h3 move for White. All this is moot after 7.Ne5 e6 8.g4 if Black plays the solid 8...Bg6. Then 9.Bg2 c6 10.h4 reaches an important position that can come from either a Teichmann or a Gunderam (in one less move). Here White has full compensation for the pawn.

Ken Wieder in the Finals of the USCF 1989 Golden Squires Postal Chess Tournament decided to play much sharper with 8...Ne4!? In this BDG Teichmann, fireworks ensued. The line in the notes with 9.gxf5 demonstrates a key difference between the 8...Ne4 Teichmann and the 7...Ne4 Gunderam. The White h-pawn being on h3 instead of h2 allows two queen checks that prepare two knight forks, leading to a very difficult endgame. I chose another complicated line and won quickly when Black missed a tactic.

Sawyer (2004) - Wieder (1862), corr USCF 89SF10, 17.08.1992 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bf5 7.Ne5 e6 8.g4 Ne4 9.Bb5+ [The other choice is also playable but very unbalanced: 9.gxf5 Qh4+ 10.Ke2 Ng3+ 11.Kf2 Nxh1+ 12.Kg2 f6 13.Nf3 Qxh3+! 14.Kxh3 Nf2+ 15.Kg2 Nxd1 16.Nxd1 exf5 17.Ne3 Nc6 18.Nxf5=] 9...c6 10.0-0 cxb5 [The correct way to equalize for Black is 10...Nxc3! 11.bxc3 Bg6 12.Bd3 Nd7 13.Nxg6 hxg6 14.Qf3 Qf6=] 11.gxf5 Nxc3 [11...Nf6 12.Bg5+/-] 12.bxc3 f6? [12...Nc6 13.fxe6 Nxe5 14.Qh5!+/-] 13.Qh5+ g6 14.fxg6 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Alternative Blackmar-Diemer Von Popiel

There are two gambits in the BDG family that are older than the Diemer's idea of 4.f3. One is the Blackmar Gambit 3.f3 and the other is Von Popiel with 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5. When put side by side they look like this:
     1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3 - The Blackmar Gambit from the 1880s.
     1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 - Von Popiel from early 1900s.
     1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 - Blackmar-Diemer from 1930s.

The BDG thematic postal tournament that ran from 1968 to 1975 with 21 players was won by Georg Danner. In a quick glance at his games was White from that era, I count 9 times he played 4.Bg5 and 6 times he played 4.f3. Probably the starting position for that event required just 3.Nc3 Nf6, since 4.f3 was not played in every game. Below is a recent well played game from Poland between Szadkowski and Aglave in the Von Popiel 4.Bg5.

Szadkowski (2184) - Aglave (2113), 28th Gniot Mem 2013 Police POL (7.12), 16.07.2013 begins 1.e4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.d4 dxe4 4.Bg5 Bf5 5.Qe2 [5.f3!? and 5.Bxf6 are alternatives.] 5...c6 6.0-0-0 [6.Bxf6 exf6 7.0-0-0=] 6...e6 [Black could try 6...Nbd7 7.f3 exf3 8.Nxf3 e6 9.d5 Qa5=/+] 7.f3 exf3 8.Nxf3 Be7 9.Ne5 Nd5 [9...Qc7!?] 10.Bd2 [10.Bxe7 Qxe7=] 10...Nxc3 11.Bxc3 0-0?! [11...Qd5 12.Kb1 Nd7=] 12.g4 Bg6 13.Kb1 Nd7? [Now White has a great attack. 13...Bh4!? is a creative way to slow the h4-h5 advance. 14.Be1=] 14.h4 Nf6 15.Bg2 h5 [If 15...Nd5 16.h5 Bxc2+ 17.Kxc2 Nf4 18.Qe4+-] 16.Nxg6! fxg6 17.Qxe6+ Kh7 18.gxh5 gxh5 19.d5 cxd5 20.Rxd5 [Or 20.Rhe1!+- ] 20...Nxd5 21.Be4+ 1-0

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