Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chess Swindle vs Mario Marshall in Caro-Kann

To pull off a swindle in a slow tournament game is rare, but that is what I did in 2007 at the Southern Open. Mario Marshall had moved to South Florida from Jamaica. I wish I could describe the look on my opponent's face, but I did not dare look at him for fear that I would burst out laughing. That would be rude and very bad form. In a previous tournament, I myself was swindled in a winning position by an Expert. Not very funny.

The opening was a Caro-Kann Defence which I played since 1974, but this was only my third tournament game with it in 15 years, always getting a bad game and then always getting lucky with two wins and a draw! Mario Marshall told me after the game that he does not know the theory here. He said he just wanted to attack. That was obvious!

I got into deep trouble in this opening and was lost in the middlegame. A few days after this game, I asked Dan Heisman for tips on swindling when you are losing. He said the basic idea was to complicate. This is exactly what I did! Despite poor opening theory and middlegame strategy, once again a tactical idea decided the game. I did not play any FIDE rated games until I was well past my prime and over 50 years old, so this was a memorable win for me. Marshall was very kind to me after the game. We had a good time going over it and probably joked about the Jamaican Olympic Bobsled team.

Marshall (2038) - Sawyer (1946), Southern Open (2), 28.07.2007 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 [In the 1970s I played 5...g6 in Gruenfeld style.] 6.cxd5 [The main line is 6.Nf3 Bg4=] 6...Nxd5 7.Bc4 Nb6 [Attacking the isolated pawn on d4 and the bishop on c4, but 7...Be6 is better.] 8.Bb5 a6 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.Nf3 Bg4 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nd5 [The knight feels good on d5, but my opponent told me after the game that every move I did not develop my kingside, he was happy.] 13.Bg5 Qd6 [intending to answer Ne4 with ...Qb4 attacking b2 and d4.] 14.0-0 e6 [Consolidates d5.] 15.Rac1 Be7 16.Ne4 Qb4 17.Bxe7 Kxe7 [17...Qxe7!? 18.Rxc6 0-0+/-] 18.Ng5 Nf6 [Plan B. My original intention was 18...f6 but here I saw that White was easily winning after 19.Nxe6!+- Ugh!] 19.Rxc6 Rhc8 20.Rfc1 Rxc6 21.Qxc6 [Even more powerful was 21.Rxc6!+-] 21...Ra7 22.Qc5+ Qxc5 23.dxc5 Nd5 24.Kf1 [24.Nxh7?! f6=] 24...Rc7 [We both had about an hour left. Clocks were: White 0:56; Black 1:22.] 25.a3 [Several people were now watching our game figuring that it would be over soon.] 25...a5 [Indeed, the game would end in less than one minute. Current times on the clock were: White 0:49; Black 1:19.] 26.Rc4 [Played after about a half minute's thought. Since he had not thought much, it felt like a good time to spring a cheapo. I had seen this combination earlier, but now with the rook on c4, it had a better chance.] 26...Nb6?! [Almost immediately I played for a swindle.] 27.cxb6?? [White lets the win slip away. He took about 15 seconds thought choosing to sacrifice his rook to get a queen, "thinking" I had blundered. White should try 27.Rf4+-] 27...Rxc4=/+ [I captured his rook while slightly faking disgust. My heart was beating very rapidly all of a sudden!] 28.b7?? [Instantly he advanced the pawn to glory, expecting that this move would be the coup de grace. But just as quickly I make my own crushing move.] 28...Rc1+!-+ [Everyone was shocked! What a rush!! Now he saw he was lost and resigned. Final clock times: White 0:48; Black 1:18. If 29.Ke2 Rc2+ 30.Ke3 Rxb2-+ and as soon as his new queen appears, she disappears.] 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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  1. The main line may be 6.Nf3 Bg4, but according to the Chessbase Database, 6 Bg5 scores much better and against higher rated opposition.
    The best chess playing thing on the planet, the computer program known as "Stockfish," plays 7...Nb6.

    Michael Bacon

    1. Thanks Michael! Yes, 6.Bg5 has always proven to be quite tricky with a debate for how Black should play.


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