So close I came to beating Zoltan Sarosy, one of the strongest masters I ever played in my life. He dodged. He weaved. He wiggled. He jiggled. He made me work hard. In the end I missed the best move 48. Zoltan the magnificent pulled off a draw. Darn. At the time International Correspondence Chess Master Zoltan Sarosy of Canada was near his peak rating of 2435 (in 1992) when more than 80 years old! How old is too old for chess?
In 1987, under Hans-Werner von Massow the ICCF added the Elo rating system. Before that they used only class titles. By then Sarosy was already in his 80s; he might have had a much higher rating in his younger days. He won a Master Class tournament in Hungary in 1943. According to his biography in the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame, Zoltan Sarosy "Reached age 100 in 2006 while still playing chess by e-mail; in 2007, became longest lived Canadian chess player ever".
The opening was a crossover between the Caro-Kann Defence (1.e4 c6 with d5) and the Modern Defence (1.e4 g6 with Bg7) which can be reached via either move order. White usually plays 1.e4, 2.d4, 3.Nc3 and then either 4.h3 and 5.Nf3 as I did, or 4.e5 and 5.f4. Black plans a slow build up in an unbalanced position. Sarosy liked to play original little known positions that made his opponents think on their own. It is dangerous for weaker players to try a slow build up, because they have not developed the tactical, strategical and analytical skills to make it work effectively. They get crushed without improving.
Weaker players need to play openings that lead to quick development so they can learn quickly. They do not have to play main lines, just anything that brings all pieces out for action. When the armies clash, they will learn what works and what to avoid in the future. Saraosy already knew what works. He was a proven dangerous player waiting to pounce and crush experts and masters due to his deep analysis. Because I developed rapidly with control of the center, I was able to prevent disaster and even obtain a winning position. Picking off his pawn with 48.Nxg6 seemed like a good idea, but it failed to his brilliant defence. This draw gave me 2.5 out of 4 points so far in the tournament.
Sawyer (2157) - Sarosy (2401), corr ICCF 1995 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.h3 Bg7 5.Nf3 Nh6 6.Bf4 0-0 7.Qd2 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Nf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bc4 Nb6 11.Bb3 Nd6 12.Nc5 Nd5 13.Be5 b6 14.Nd3 f6 15.Bh2 Be6 16.0-0 Qd7 17.Qe2 Bf7 18.Rfe1 Rfe8 19.Nde5 fxe5 20.dxe5 Nc7 21.e6 Nxe6 22.Bxe6 Qxe6 23.Qxe6 Bxe6 24.Rxe6 Rad8 25.Rae1 Kf8 26.Bf4 c5 27.Ne5 Nf7 28.Nc6 Rd7 29.a4 Bf6 30.a5 Ng5 [30...Rc8 31.Kh2 b5 32.a6=] 31.Bxg5 Bxg5 32.Ne5 Rd6 33.Rxd6 exd6 34.Nd7+ Kf7 35.Rxe8 Kxe8 36.axb6 axb6 37.Nxb6 Kf7 38.Nd5 Bc1 39.b3 Ke6 40.c4 Ke5 41.g3 Kd4 [Maybe better is 41...Ke4 42.Kg2 Kd3 43.Kf1 g5 44.Nf6 h6 45.Nd5 Bb2 46.f4 Ke4 47.Kf2 Bd4+ 48.Kg2 Ba1 49.fxg5 hxg5 50.h4 gxh4 51.gxh4+=] 42.f4 Kd3 [Or 42...Bb2 43.Kf2 Ke4 44.Ke2 Bg7 45.Nc7 Bf8 46.Nb5+/-] 43.Kf2 Kc2 [If 43...Bd2 44.Kf3 Ba5 45.g4+-] 44.Ke2 Kxb3 45.Kd3 h5 46.Ne7 [Winning is 46.g4! hxg4 47.hxg4 Ka3 48.f5 gxf5 49.gxf5 Bh6 50.f6+-] 46...h4 47.gxh4 Bxf4 48.Nxg6? [White is winning after 48.Ke4 g5 49.h5 Kxc4 50.h6 Bc1 51.Nd5 Bb2 52.Ne3+ Kb4 53.Kd5+-] 48...Bg3 49.Ke2 [49.Ke4 Kxc4 50.h5 d5+ 51.Kf3 Be1 52.h6 Bc3 53.Kg4 Kb5 54.h7 c4 with a likely draw] 49...d5 50.cxd5 c4 51.Ne7 Bxh4 1/2-1/2
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