Thursday, April 25, 2013

My 150 Attack Stephen Ashby Pirc

My most popular posting was How To Win With the 150 Attack vs the Pirc Defence published September 3, 2011. Today's game is in the same Pirc Defence 4.f3 variation. Back in 1990 it was rare. Sometimes White reverses the move order with 4.Be3 and 5.f3.

In theory it is more risky for Black to castle too early, so often plays 5...c6. This game is broken off early, but I am not sure if it was a resignation or forfeit. In any case, my chess engine program Junior 10 today evaluates the position as strongly favoring White.

This victory over Stephen Ashby (1848) brought me to my peak USCF correspondence rating of 2211. After this game I won about five more games in a row, but the USCF refused to give me any rating points for any of those wins.

Sawyer (2211) - Ashby (1848), corr USCF 89N280 corr USCF, 14.05.1990 begins 1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f3 Bg7 5.Be3 c6 6.Qd2 Nbd7 7.0-0-0 b5 8.Bh6 0-0 9.h4 Qc7 10.h5 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 b4 12.Nce2 Qa5 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.Kb1 [This game brought me to my peak USCF correspondence rating of 2211.] 1-0

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

Carlos Avalos Teaches Me Lesson

I played 1000 correspondence chess games over a 20 year period from 30 countries and all 50 states in the USA. Only rarely did I actually meet any of my opponents face to face. In the 1989 USCF Golden Knights Postal Tournament, section 89N280, I had the White pieces vs Carlos Avalos Sarravia (his 2576 USCF Postal Rating at the time). About 15 years later at a chess tournament in Florida, a nice man came up to me and introduced himself to me as the Carlos Avalos, whom I had played many years before.

Avalos taught me a valuable lesson. This game pretty much cured me from playing 4.f3 in the French Defence Alapin Gambit Declined. Sometimes the variation results from a transposition, after say 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 e6, but here this is a straight French Defence Alapin 3.Be3 Nf6. White gets a playable game after 4.e5 or 5.e5. Don't do what I did.

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

Sawyer (2176) - Avalos (2576), corr USCF 89N280, 18.01.1990 begins 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Be3 Nf6 4.f3?! c5! Enterprising. 5.dxc5?! [Best is 5.e5 Nfd7=] 5...Qc7! 6.c3 [Better seems to be 6.Nc3 ] 6...Bxc5 7.Bxc5 Qxc5 8.e5 Nfd7 9.f4? [The last try is 9.Qd4=/+ ] 9...Qe3+ 10.Ne2 Nc5 [10...Nc5 Embarrassing. 11.Qd4 Nd3+ 12.Kd1 Nf2+-+] 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Larsen's Opening Hastings h-file Mate

Yesterday I posted the Hastings h-file Mate from a Ruy Lopez. Today I show a recent example of how I pulled off this same mate as Black in a Larsen's Opening (1.b3). As I pointed out before, this mate arises in many different openings. All the same elements are in place in the game below, but they occurred in a slightly different order. For example, White moved Kh1 before Black played ...Ne2, so the knight move was not check here.

As for the opening, how do you meet Larsen Opening? I followed the recommendation of GM Roman Dzindzichashivili from his book with GM Lev Alburt, GM Eugene Perelshteyn and Al Lawrence: "Chess Openings for Black, Explained", 2nd Edition Revised and Updated from 2009. There they give 1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.h3 Bh5 4.Nf3 Bxf3 5.exf3 Nf6 6.f4 e6 7.g3 g6= Spraggett-Dorfman, 1991. My ICC blitz opponent "Arieju" played 3.Nf3 so I chopped off the knight doubling White's pawns. I played in the center and gradually moved my pieces toward White's king when the h-file mating pattern presented itself. Also you should note that I played 19...Qh6 rather slyly (instead of 19...Qh4 which would have encouraged 20.g3) because I did not want White to move a kingside pawn.

Arieju - Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 27.01.2013 begins 1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.Nf3 Bxf3 4.exf3 Nc6 5.c4 d4 6.Na3 e5 7.Bd3 Bd6 8.0-0 Nge7 9.Nb5 [9.f4!?] 9...0-0 [9...Bc5] 10.a3 [10.Nxd6=] 10...Ng6 11.Nxd6 Qxd6 12.a4 Rfe8 13.Ba3 Qf6 14.Be4 Nf4 15.Kh1 Rad8 16.b4 d3 17.Bb2 [Better is 17.b5 Nd4=/+] 17...Re6 [Or 17...Nxb4-/+ ] 18.Bc3 Ne2 19.b5 Qh6 20.bxc6? [To survive White had to push a pawn, as in 20.h3 Ncd4-/+] 20...Qxh2+ White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hastings h-file Mate in Ruy Lopez

Do you know the famous opening trap I call the "Hastings h-file Mate"? It is a pattern that can be reached from many different openings. See game below. Forty years ago I memorized many openings variations. Such memory work gives you a great practical edge when you can choose in advance how you wish to play vs the most popular early moves. I memorized all 14 moves of this game. I thought knowing many traps would lead to easy wins. It sometimes does. But recognizing tactical patterns is much more effective.

Probably I found this in Irving Chernev's book "300 Winning Chess Traps". At first I thought this game came from Dr. Emanuel Lasker's book "Common Sense in Chess", a series of lectures that Lasker gave in London in the spring of 1895. I cannot find this mate there.

The mate is illustrated here in the Ruy Lopez line played at Hastings in 1919. A generation earlier, the same opening line was played in Maroczy-Marco, but Black played more solidly, not allowing the mate. I call it the "Hastings h-file Mate".

Let me set up the board and explain how this mate works. This checkmate theme is a variation of the back rank rook mate. Here the mate is done on the h-file with the help of a knight and queen sacrifice, prior to the rook mate. Here's what to look for:

Black has castled kingside with a normal Rf8, Kg8 and pawns on f7, g7 and h7; however the typical Nf6 has moved away and does not cover h7. Ready for the combination?

White begins with 1.Ne7+, driving the Black king from g8 to h8. There follows 2.Qxh7+ forcing Black to capture Kxh7. Finally White slides over to the h-file for mate: 3.Rh5#. Black's king has no moves since he has a pawn on g7 and the Ne7 covers g8 and g6.

Berryman-Straat, Hastings 1919 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.Re1 [The Open Ruy Lopez is almost always played 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6] 6...Nc5 7.Nc3 [7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.Nxe5 leaves White with a better pawn structure while Black as two bishops.] 7...Nxa4 8.Nxe5 Nxe5? [8...Be7 9.Nd5 0-0 10.Nxc6 dxc6 11.Nxe7+ Kh8 12.Qh5 Be6 13.Rxe6 fxe6 14.Ng6+ Kg8 15.Nxf8 Qxf8 16.Qg4 Nb6 17.Qxe6+ Kh8 18.b3 Re8 19.Ba3 Qxf2+ 20.Kxf2 Rxe6 21.Re1 Rxe1 22.Kxe1 1/2-1/2. Maroczy-Marco, Budapest 1896] 9.Rxe5+ Be7 10.Nd5 0-0 11.Nxe7+ Kh8 12.Qh5 d6 [This allows the thematic mate, but there is no playable defense. 12...g6 13.Qh4 and White is going to win a lot of material. 12...h6 13.d3 and White threatens to rip open Black's kingside with 14.Bxh6 winning.] 13.Qxh7+ Kxh7 14.Rh5# 1-0

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Experiment in Schliemann Gambit

In forty years of chess, I have played the Open Game 1.e4 e5 about 3000 times. Only 7 times I have been Black in the Ruy Lopez Schliemann Gambit Accepted 3...f5 4.exf5 line, winning six and losing one. Below is one of my wins. I had a vague recollection that there is a line where the players might repeat moves (see note to my 5th move) and that Black can avoid it with 7...Nf6 or 7...Nh6 or something, but I did not really remember it.

The weakest point in White's position at the beginning of the game is f2. If White castles kingside then it becomes h2 or g2. However if Black attacks with overwhelming material, then any point anywhere near the White king is potentially vulnerable. Here my 3-minute blitz game attack is topped off with a queen sacrifice and checkmate.

hbandersen-Sawyer, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 27.01.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.exf5 e4 5.Qe2 d5? [Played on the spur of the moment, and NOT good. Black should play 5...Qe7! 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Nd4 Nh6 (7...Qe5 8.Nf3 Qe7= repeats moves) 8.0-0 Nxf5 9.Nb3 a5= is recommended by GM Sabino Brunello] 6.d3 [6.Ne5!+- with dual threats on c6 and h5.] 6...Bxf5 7.dxe4 dxe4 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.0-0 Bd6 10.Nd4?! [10.Nc3+/-] 10...Qd7?! [10...Bxh2+! 11.Kxh2 Qxd4=] 11.Nxf5 Qxf5 12.Nc3 Nf6 13.Re1?! [White should not allow Black to castle kingside. 13.Qc4+/- ] 13...0-0 14.Qc4+ Kh8 15.Qxc6 [Now White's king is in serious danger. Critical here is 15.h3 Ng4 16.Nxe4 Nxf2 17.Nxd6 Nxh3+ 18.Kh2 cxd6 19.Qe6 Nf2 20.Qxf5 Rxf5=/+] 15...Ng4 16.Nxe4 Bxh2+ 17.Kf1 Qxf2+ 18.Nxf2 Rxf2# White checkmated 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, April 8, 2013

Roman Dzindzichashvili Scotch Gambit

The word "Roman" has many meanings. In history, Roman is the Empire that conquered large portions of Europe, Asia and Africa just before the birth of Christ. In building, Roman refers to an architectural style. In math, Roman is a set of numerals. In language, Roman is an alphabet. In religion, Roman is the Catholic Church, whose new Pope Francis seems impressive to me. A frisky young man might be said to have Roman hands and Russian fingers. But in chess, Roman means Grandmaster Roman Dzindzichashvili.

Roman Dzindzichashvili is famous for his opening repertoire which he presents in many videos available on and in two books: Chess Openings for White Explained and Chess Openings for Black Explained. These books Roman prepared and wrote with GM Lev Alburt, GM Eugene Perelshteyn and Al Lawrence. All these guys obviously put in a lot of work on these books which cover Roman's basic repertoire.

One of Dzindzi's favorite openings is the Scotch Gambit. This opening is maybe not the strongest, but it is playable and tricky. In some ways this is like the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, but in the Scotch Gambit, White usually gets his pawn back fairly soon. Below is my game vs "sequitamorena" which ended in a quick mate when Black missed a tactic.

Sawyer - sequitamorena, ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 12.01.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.e5 Ne4 6.0-0 [Other ideas are 6.Qe2 Nc5 7.c3; or 6.Bd5 Nc5 7.0-0] 6...Be7 7.Re1 Nc5 [7...d5 8.exd6 Nxd6 9.Bd5=] 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 [8...0-0 9.Nc3+/=] 9.Qxd4 Ne6 10.Qg4 0-0 11.Bh6 f5? [Fortunately for me in this blitz game I realized in time that Black just pinned his Ne6. 11...d5! 12.exd6 Bf6 13.c3 Qxd6 14.Be3=] 12.Qxg7#! Black is checkmated 1-0

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Take a Shot at the King, Make Sure You Kill Him

In the series "Line of Duty" DCI Anthony Gates tells DS Steve Arnott of Anti-Corruption, "You take a shot at the king, make sure you kill him, son." Gates had been honored as the "Officer of the Year". In a moment of bravo, Chief Gates refers to himself as king of the cops. Arnott suspects Gates of corruption and tries to prove that Gates is dirty.

In real life, to shoot at the king is a terrible thing. Don't do it! However the game of chess has violent ideas. The ultimate goal in chess is the death of your opponent's king. Checkmate! To win in chess, you must go after the king. It is worth the risk of sacrifice, but how much should you risk? Think about it. If you can get the king, it is worth any sacrifice. But make sure you are likely to get the king before you plan to throw away too many valuable pieces. If you sacrifice too much and fail, you are doomed to lose.

When facing with my Latvian Gambit variation, my opponent Warren Curtis decided to go after my king. However, the timing of his aggressive action was unfortunate. White's Bc4 was under attack by my wing gambit pawn after 3...b5. White did not take my b-pawn, nor did he back off with the move 4.Bb3. Instead White boldly played 4.Nxe5 threatening my king along the h5-e8 diagonal. Sadly for Mr. Curtis, he could not win enough material to compensate for the loss of his bishop after me 4...bxc4. If White wants the Qh5+ threat, he should play 3.Nxe5, or retreat with 4.Bb3.

[My Philidor 2.Nf3 Playbook includes the Latvian Gambit]

Curtis (1632) - Sawyer (2016), corr USCF 89N278, 04.03.1991 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4 b5 4.Nxe5?! [The most popular response is 4.Bb3 but White chooses to sacrifice a bishop to attack the Black king.] 4...bxc4 5.Qh5+ g6 6.Nxg6 Nf6 7.Qh4 [Not 7.Qxf5? d6-+] 7...Rg8 8.Nxf8 Rxf8 9.d3 fxe4 [9...cxd3 10.cxd3 Nc6=/+] 10.dxe4 d6 11.Nc3 Bb7 [11...Be6!?] 12.Bg5 Nbd7 13.Qf4 Qe7 14.0-0 0-0-0 15.Rfe1 [15.Qd2 Rg8-/+] 15...Rde8 [Even stronger is 15...Rg8! 16.Bxf6 Nxf6-/+] 16.f3 Qe6 17.Qe3 Kb8 18.Bxf6 Rxf6 19.a4 Rg8 20.Re2 Rh6 21.f4 [Or 21.g3 a6-+] 21...Rh3 22.g3 Qg4 [22...Nf6!-+] 23.Rg2 h5?! [This leaves Black vulnerable to a Nf2 fork. 23...Nf6!-+ ] 24.Rf1 [Black can swap into an ending with an extra bishop. White could defend better with 24.Nd1 Qg7 25.Nf2 Rh4=/+] 24...h4 25.f5 hxg3 26.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 27.Qxg3 Qxg3+ 28.hxg3 Rxg3+ 29.Kf2 Rg4 30.Ke3 Ne5 31.f6 Rg3+ 32.Kd2 Rg2+ 33.Ke3 Rg3+ 34.Kd2 Rf3 35.Rxf3 Nxf3+ 36.Ke3 Ne5 37.Kd4 Kc8 38.f7 Nxf7 39.Kxc4 Kd7 40.b4 Ke6 41.Nb5 Ba6 42.Kd4 Bxb5 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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