Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ralph Nichter Alekhine Bishop Sacrifice

Would you sacrifice a bishop to keep your opponent's king from castling? Generally a bishop is not worth just a couple checks unless there is much more. The temptation to sacrifice is stronger if you get some material, some checks and some mate threats in return. In my game vs Ralph Nichter below, I am on the receiving side of such a sacrifice.

The opening was an Alekhine Defence where White refrains from an early d2-d4. After Nf3 and Bc4, there was the possibility of Bxf7+ followed by Ng5+ and bringing out the queen to Qh5, Qg4 or Qf3, depending on what Black does. In this case White is able to nab a rook for a second piece, but in that process Black castles by hand. White has a lot of fun for the first 10 moves, and then the enjoyment gradually switches sides.

Nichter (1753) - Sawyer (2003), corr USCF 89SS90, 27.12.1991 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bxf7+?! [The standard continuation when White wants to hold back an early d4 is 5.Bb3 Nc6=] 5...Kxf7 6.Ng5+ Kg8 7.Qf3 Qe8 8.e6 g6 9.Nf7 Bxe6 10.Nxh8 Kxh8 11.Nc3 [11.Qxb7? Bd5!-+ and White's queen is lost.] 11...Bg7 12.d3 Nc6 13.Be3 Qd7 14.Qe2 Rf8 15.0-0 Ne5 [15...Nd5!-+ swaps another piece.] 16.f3 c5 17.Kh1 Nc6 18.Nd1 Nd5 19.Bg1 [19.c4 Nxe3 20.Nxe3 Nd4-+] 19...Nf4 20.Qe1 Nb4 21.Rf2 Nbxd3 [Black heads for an ending up two pawns, but he still has a good middlegame with 21...Bd5!-+ ] 22.cxd3 Nxd3 23.Qe2 Nxf2+ 24.Nxf2 Bd5 25.a3 b5 26.Rd1 Qb7 27.Ne4 Bxe4 28.fxe4 Be5 29.Qc2 Rf4 30.Re1 Bd4 31.Qc1 [This drops a third pawn. 31.Qe2 e5-+] 31...Rxe4 32.Bxd4+ cxd4 33.Rf1 Kg7 [Or 33...Re2!-+ ] 34.Rf3 Qc6 35.Qf1 Qc4 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stehpen Wharry Alekhine Alburt Variation

Correspondence chess allows players to test out critical opening lines that the big boys play without having to remember moves. The use of chess books was allowed. Nowadays we have chess engines and databases, but there was not much of that over 20 years ago. Postal chess masters tended collect a lot of written theoretical analysis in notebooks. That is why many of them, myself included, wrote books on chess openings.

Stephen Wharry and I contested an Alekhine Defence in what was known as the Lev Alburt variation (4.Nf3 g6). GM Alburt had won the US championship playing this opening. White chooses between 5.c4 and 5.Bc4. The 5.c4 line below with 6.exd6 cxd6 is a cousin to the Exchange Variation 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 cxd6, but in the Alburt line White has already committed to Nf3. We followed the main line for 15 moves and then were on our own. Both of us missed winning chances and agreed to a draw when I stood better.

Wharry (2014) - Sawyer (1978), corr USCF 89SS90, 09.10.1991 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.c4 Nb6 6.exd6 cxd6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0 9.h3 Nc6 10.Nc3 Bf5 11.Be3 d5 12.c5 Nc4 13.Bxc4 dxc4 14.Qa4 e5 15.d5 Nd4 16.Nd2 [16.Qxc4 Nxf3+ 17.gxf3 Bxh3 18.Rfd1=] 16...Bd3 17.Rfc1 b5!? 18.Nxb5 Ne2+ [18...Nxb5=/+] 19.Kh1 a6? 20.Nd6 [20.Nc3 Nxc1 21.Rxc1+/=] 20...Nxc1 21.Rxc1 f5 22.N2xc4 f4 23.Bd2 Qh4 24.f3 e4 [24...Qf2! 25.Be1 Qxc5 26.Qd7+/=] 25.Qd7 [25.Qd1+/-] 25...exf3 [Black should first play 25...Bxc4 26.Nxc4 exf3=] 26.Qe6+ Kh8 27.Ne5 fxg2+ 28.Kg1 h6 29.Nxd3?? [White is winning after 29.Be1!+- ] 29...Bd4+ 30.Kxg2 Qg3+ 31.Kh1 Qf3+ [31...Rf5!-+ threatens ...Qxh3 mate!] 32.Kh2 Qg3+ 33.Kh1 Qf3+ [33...Rf5!-+] 34.Kh2 Qg3+ 35.Kh1-+ 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Stuart Glickman in Caro-Kann

What started out as a Caro-Kann 4.f3 transposed into a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Declined O'Kelly Defence 4.f3 c6 5.Bc4 Bf5 6.g4. In my 1989 USCF Golden Squires Postal Chess Tournament game vs Stuart Glickman, Black played the retreat 7...Ng8 in response to the advancing g-pawn. This is not covered by Scheerer in his BDG book.

White stands better in this line, but not after I missed the key 10.Bd3 allowing me to keep the advantage. I missed another chance to equalize on move 16, and things went downhill for me. Stuart Glickman played well and kept coming after me until I could not survive.

Sawyer (2002) - Glickman (1971), corr USCF 89SS90, 09.10.1991 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 c6 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.f3 Bf5 6.g4 Bg6 7.g5 Ng8 [7...Nd5 8.Nxe4 (8.fxe4 Scheerer) 8...e6 9.Ne2 Be7=] 8.fxe4 e6 9.h4 Bb4 10.e5?! [10.Bd3!+/- and the threat of 11.h5 gives White time to develop the kingside knight and protect d4 with a big space advantage.] 10...Be4 11.Rh3 [White's in trouble, but better is 11.Rh2 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Ne7=/+] 11...Nd7 [11...Bxc2! 12.Qxc2 Qxd4-/+] 12.Bd2 Bf5 13.Rg3 Qc7 [13...Nb6-/+] 14.Nf3 0-0-0 15.Bb3 Ne7 16.Kf2? [16.Qe2!=] 16...Bxc3 17.bxc3 Rhg8 18.c4 f6 19.Bf4 [19.exf6 gxf6-/+] 19...Ng6 20.Be3 fxe5 21.h5 Nf4 22.Bxf4 exf4 23.Rg1 Rge8 24.Nh4 [24.Re1 Nc5-+] 24...Ne5 25.Qd2 Ng4+ 26.Ke1 f3 27.Nxf3 e5 28.d5 e4 29.Nd4 e3 30.Qe2 Qa5+ 31.Kf1 Rf8 32.Kg2 Bd7 [32...Qc7!-+ is crushing.] 33.Rgf1 Qc7 34.Kg1 Rf2 0-1

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

Edward La Bonte Jr. Torre Attack

The Torre Attack is a simple system of chess development for White in the opening that is very popular at the club level because there is not much to learn. Usually the following moves are played 1.d4, 2.Nf3, 3.Bg5, 4.e3, 5.Nbd2, 6.c3, 7.Bd3 vs ...e6 or 7.Be2 vs ...g6, and 8.0-0, almost without regard to what Black is playing. If Black plays an early ...h6 or ...Ne4, then Bg5-Bh4 is common, though there are other options. Those who play the Torre tend to be careful not to blunder and able to capitalize on Black mistakes.

My game vs Edward La Bonte Jr. from the 1989 USCF Golden Squires Postal Chess Tournament shows the White strategy of pushing queenside pawns with b4 and a4. Here in the game below, I choose a Gruenfeld set-up to play actively and make threats. White plays to the kingside, pushes pawns on the queenside and then initiates some tactics on the center files where (fortunately for me), White makes a rare (for him) miscalculation.

La Bonte (2070) - Sawyer (2025), corr USCF 89SS90, 03.02.1992 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.Nbd2 d5 5.e3 Nbd7 [Or 5...0-0 6.c3 Nbd7 7.Be2 Re8 8.0-0 e5=] 6.b4 0-0 7.c3 c6 [7...Re8 is more aggressive, intending to push ...e5.] 8.a4 h6 9.Bf4 g5 10.Bg3 Ne4 [10...Nh5=] 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Nd2 f5 13.Bc4+ Kh8 14.0-0 [14.h4+/=] 14...e5 15.Bxe5 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Bxe5 17.Qc2 [17.Rc1=] 17...Qf6 18.Rac1 g4 19.g3 h5 20.Nb3 h4 21.Nd4 Kg7 22.Qb3 Rh8 23.Be6? [White miscalculates the combination he initiates. Better is 23.Rc2=] 23...Bxd4 24.Bxc8 [If 24.cxd4 Bxe6-+ and Black is up a piece.] 24...hxg3 25.Qe6 gxh2+ [This leaves Black up two pawns, but even better is 25...gxf2+! 26.Rxf2 Qxe6 27.Bxe6 Bxe3-+ and Black wins the Exchange plus having two extra pawns.] 26.Kg2 Raxc8 27.Qd7+ Kg6 28.Qxd4 Rcd8 29.Qxf6+ Kxf6 30.Rc2 f4 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

MacAngus English vs Gruenfeld

Playing White in the English or Reti Openings, White has flexibility but he must make quick strategical choices to avoid tactical losses. Here are three key questions that White has to answer: (1) What will I do with my d-pawn? (2) What do I do if Black plays ...d5 attacking my c4 pawn? and (3) Where will I develop my light squared bishop from f1?

Here are some important considerations to help you answer these questions:
(1) Playing d4 will transpose into other openings from the 1.d4 and 2.c4 complex.
(2) You might exchange pawns with c4xd5 or protect c4 with a move like b3.
(3) Pushing e3 allows the bishop to protect c4 but g3/Bg2 adds pressure on d5.

Experience has shown what opening set-ups tend to produce good middlegames and which ones do not. Mixing plans can be creative or fatal in chess. Usually it is a waste of time and/or weakening to play both e3 and g3, unless White is playing Nge2/Bg2, which leaves c4 potentially undefended. The c4 square was a problem for White in my English Opening in my Donald MacAngus game from the 1989 USCF Golden Squires Postal Tournament.

MacAngus (1381) - Sawyer (2030), corr USCF 89SS90, 18.02.1992 begins 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.e3 Bg7 5.g3 0-0 6.Bg2 c6 7.0-0?! [White could sacrifice the c4-pawn after 7.d4 dxc4 with a long of compensation after 8.Qe2 b5 9.Ne5] 7...dxc4 8.Rb1? [8.b3!? is worth a shot here, preparing Bb2.] 8...Bf5 9.e4 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Bxe4 11.Re1? [A tactical oversight, but Black is still up two c-pawns after 11.Ra1 Nd7-+] 11...Bxb1 12.a3 Bd3 13.Ne5 Bxe5 14.Rxe5 Nd7 15.Re3 Nc5 16.Bf3 Nb3 17.Be4 Nxc1 18.Qxc1 Bxe4 19.Qxc4 [Taking the bishop with 19.Rxe4 is better, but White is still down a rook after 19...b5-+] 19...Bf5 20.g4 Be6 21.Rxe6 fxe6 22.Qxe6+ Rf7 23.Qb3 Qxd2 24.Qxb7 Qxf2+ 25.Kh1 Qf1# 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Rocky Tops Gambit Lover Scandinavian

After showing two "RockyTop" losses in the past two days, it seems only fair to show an interesting endgame win he had yesterday vs "Gambit-Lover" in an Internet Chess Club blitz game which I was watching live. A key factor in this pawn ending was that White started the ending a pawn down, but managed to win through a better king position.

The opening was a Scandinavian Defence Portuguese Variation with 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Bg4. White can choose 4.f3, 4.Nf3 or even 4.Bb5+!?, but here "RockyTop" played the natural 4.Be2. Eventually "Gambit-Lover" gets the better position, but "RockyTop" fights to the end. I enjoyed the battle of ideas in this endgame.

RockyTop (1400) - Gambit-Lover (1541), ICC 0 8 u Internet Chess Club, 25.07.2013 begins 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Bg4 4.Be2 [A trap can be set with 4.Bb5+ c6 5.dxc6 Bxd1? (5...Nxc6 6.Nf3+/=) 6.c7+ Nc6 7.cxd8Q+ Rxd8 8.Kxd1+- and White has won a piece.] 4...Bxe2 5.Qxe2 Qxd5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.c4 Qe4 8.Nc3 Qxe2+ 9.Kxe2 e6 10.h3 0-0-0 11.Be3 Bb4 12.Rac1 Bxc3 13.Rxc3 h6 14.Ra3 a6 15.Rc1 g5 16.Rcc3 [White could try 16.b4!? Nxb4 17.Ne5 Rhf8 18.Ra4 Nc6 19.Nxc6 bxc6 20.Rxa6=] 16...g4 17.hxg4 Nxg4 18.Rcb3 Nxe3 19.fxe3 Rhg8 20.Kf2 f6 21.Rd3 Rg4 22.Nh2 Re4 23.d5 [23.g4=] 23...Ne5 24.Rdc3 Rxc4 [24...Nxc4 25.Ra4 exd5-+] 25.dxe6 Rxc3 26.Rxc3 Re8 27.Nf3 Rxe6 28.Nxe5 Rxe5 29.Rc4 Kd7 30.Rh4 h5 31.Kf3 c6 32.Rb4 Rb5 33.Rxb5 axb5 34.Kg3 Ke6 [Black gets sidetracked by White's kingside activity and drifts that way. Black has five chances in a row to play the winning 34...b4-+ ] 35.Kh4 Kf5 36.Kxh5 c5 37.g4+ Ke5 38.Kg6? [38.a3!= draws] 38...c4 [This is Black's last chance to win with 38...b4 39.b3 b5 40.Kf7 c4-+ queening the c-pawn.] 39.a3 b6? [The losing move. There is a draw with 39...Ke6 40.Kg7 Ke7 when Black holds the opposition.] 40.Kf7 b4 41.axb4 b5 42.Kg6 [White has more than one way to win: 42.Ke7 f5 43.gxf5 Kxf5 44.Kd6 Ke4 45.Kc5 Kxe3 46.Kxb5+-] 42...Ke6 43.Kg7 Ke5 44.Kf7 f5 45.g5 Ke4 46.g6 Kxe3 47.g7 f4 48.g8Q f3 49.Qg3 Ke2 50.Qe5+ [Another winning idea is 50.Qg4 Ke3 51.Ke6 f2 52.Qd1+-] 50...Kf1 51.Qe3 [Since White's win requires the pushing of the b-pawn, more efficient is 51.Qxb5!-+ quickly winning all three pawns with the queen.] 51...f2 52.Ke6 c3 53.bxc3 Kg1 54.Kd5 Kh1 55.Qf3+ Kg1 56.Qxf2+ Kxf2 57.c4 bxc4 58.Kxc4 Ke3 59.b5 Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blackmar-Diemer Leads to Mating Attack

Recently some family members visited the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida and had a lovely time. They knew the difference between glass and Tiffany. My warped mind wondered if a "Morse" was a cross between a Moose and a Horse. Then I remembered that we have family members named "Morse". All of those family members have only two legs and I know nothing about their tails.

Speaking of tales, my opponent in yesterday's game requested a rematch. I accepted and immediately played a second game vs "RockyTop", here in a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. We reached a BDG Declined. Admittedly, I played a little too boldly with an unsound piece sacrifice on move 11. And now for those famous BDG words, "If Black had played" (this time 12...Re8!), then he would have had the advantage. After my 16.Bh7+, if Black had played 16...Kh8, then I would mate him with my Morse on f7, I mean Horse.

Sawyer (2021) - RockyTop (1400), ICC 3 2 u Internet Chess Club, 18.07.2013 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 e3 5.Bxe3 e6 6.Bd3 Bb4 7.Nge2 0-0 8.Bg5 [White usually castles here 8.0-0 Nc6 9.a3 Ba5 10.Ne4] 8...c6 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.0-0 h6 11.Bxh6?! [11.Be3= is good, but I figured opening the kingside might lead to mate eventually.] 11...gxh6 12.Qxh6 Qa5 [After 12...Re8!-/+ it looks like Black has a good defence against any attack.] 13.Ng3 [Or 13.g4!+/- ] 13...Rd8 14.Nce4 Be7? [14...Bf8 15.Nxf6+ Nxf6 16.Qxf6 Rxd4 17.f4+/-] 15.Ng5 Bf8 16.Bh7+ Black resigns 1-0

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