Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Knights Tango Checkmates

Developing your knights quickly in a chess game is a good thing, but if you ONLY move your knights, that is risky, especially as Black. Over 20 years ago Georgi Orlov wrote a book entitled "Black Knights Tango" on 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6. Orlov revised it for a 2nd edition in 1998. This is often called the Two Knights Tango. Since I often play 1...Nc6 as Black, this provocative opening set-up is very familiar to me. In fact, I rather like it.

In a game vs BigDaddyThumos, I played only my Black knights for the first 4 moves, but I castled by move 8. My opponent's king got caught in the center when he made pawn moves for 6 or his first 8 moves. This left him very vulnerable to tactics which cost him a pawn and soon his king. White resigned on move 19 in the face of checkmate in one.

BigDaddyThumos (1770) - Sawyer (1955), 3 0 u Internet Chess Club, 31.03.2013 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6 3.d5!? [This is an attempt to punish Black for not playing a pawn. More common positions are reached after 3.Nf3 e6 4.Nc3 and 4...Bb4 or 4...d5] 3...Ne5 4.f4 Ng6 [Black can just grab the pawn, although White gets a big pawn center in a blitz game. 4...Nxc4 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 e6=/+] 5.Nc3 e6 6.e4 Bb4 7.Bd3 exd5 8.cxd5 0-0 [8...Qe7] 9.Qb3?! [This drops a pawn because White's king is still in the center. 9.Nf3 Re8 10.0-0 d6=] 9...Bxc3+ 10.Qxc3 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 Re8 12.Ne2 [12.Qd3 Qe7 13.Ne2 Qxe4-/+] 12...Rxe4 13.Qf3 Qe8 14.Kf2 d6 15.Bd2 [Though down a pawn, White can play on with 15.Nc3 Re7-/+] 15...Nh4 16.Qh5 [If 16.Qd3 Bf5-+] 16...g6 17.Qxh4 Rxe2+ 18.Kf3 Qe4+ 19.Kg3 Qd3+ White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Chess Failures & Fears: Bird-Larsen Opening

When I go through a period of poor play, I sometimes resort to offbeat openings such as the Bird-Larsen Attack or the London System. Celebrate Recovery is a program that helps people deal with past failures and future fears. I have had a lot of both. And I am not alone. A friend recently gave me a paper outlined the following famous failures:
Albert Einstein: teacher said he would not amount to much.
Michael Jordan: cut from his high school basketball team.
Walt Disney: fired from a newspaper because he lacked imagination.
Steve Jobs: removed from the computer company he started.
Oprah Winfrey: demoted because she wasn't fit for television.
The Beatles: rejected because they had no future in show business.

Against Joe D. Tom in the 1989 USCF Golden Knights Postal Chess Tournament, my Bird's Opening 4.b3 game gradually drifted from equal to inferior. It proved the old Tal adage that if the position is equal, Black is better. About this time in my career, I was facing many reverses. So I dodged my favored BDG and 1.e4 openings for the quiet Bird. Alas, it was too quiet. I fell asleep and was rudely awoken by Mr. Tom's good play.

Sawyer (1981) - Tom (2108), corr USCF 89NS48, 01.04.1992 begins 1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 g6 4.b3 Bg7 5.Bb2 0-0 6.Be2 c5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Ne5 Bd7 [8...Qc7=] 9.Bf3 Qc8 10.Nc3 Be6 11.Ne2 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Bg4 13.Ng3 Qd7 14.Bxg4 Nxg4 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.f5 Nf6 17.d3 e6 18.fxg6 fxg6 19.Qe2 e5 20.e4 [20.h3=] 20...dxe4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Qxe4 Qd4+ 23.Qxd4 Rxf1+ 24.Rxf1 cxd4 25.Rf2 Rc8 26.Kf1 [26.g4=] 26...b5 27.Ke1 Rc6 28.Kd2 Ra6 29.Re2 [Black might struggle to make progress after 29.g4! Rxa2 30.g5 Ra6 31.h4=] 29...Kf6 30.Rf2+ Ke7 31.Re2 Ke6 32.Kc1 Rxa2 33.Kb1 Ra6 34.Kb2 Rc6 35.Ka3 [35.Rf2=/+ would have presented Black with more technical problems to convert the advantage of an extra backward pawn.] 35...a5 36.Kb2 Rc7-/+ 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Sicilian Yugoslav Dragon Troy Daly

I love books by Cyrus Lakdawala. In his "A Ferocious Opening Repertoire" book on the Veresov, Lakdawala writes of himself on page 125: "Unlike my opponent, I just don't have the open game gene. I tend to over-finesse and try to control some weak square when I should be going after the opponent with a meat axe! I remember one exasperated ICC kibitzer offering me this piece of constructive criticism after I had blotched a similar game: "It's called the initiative. You ought to try it sometime! Idiot!!""

I can relate to Cyrus Lakdawala. I began my chess career playing the Caro-Kann Defence, going over strategical games of J.R. Capablanca and working my way through Fine's "Basic Chess Endings".  Sometimes at the most inopportune moments, I head for an endgame.

This Sicilian Defence is a good example of me being bad vs Troy Daly. He was soon to become a master and head off to college. Now Troy Daly is a Life Master. We ran right into the middle of a very sharp main line position. IM Javad Maharramzade was watching our game. After we finished late at night or early in the morning, the IM reminded us that in this variation, White has to focus on attack, to push pawns and throw everything at the kingside. I may win or I may not, but it is only good way to play this line.

Sawyer (1964) - Daly (2161), Space Coast Open (1), 08.05.2009 begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Qa5 11.0-0-0 Rfc8 12.h4 h5 13.Kb1 Ne5 14.Nd5?! [At this point I thought I might do better in an endgame vs a young opponent who is rated 200 points above me. More promising is 14.Bg5+/= ] 14...Qxd2 15.Rxd2 Nxd5 16.Bxd5 Nc4 17.Bxc4 Rxc4 18.Rhd1 Rac8 19.c3 Bf6 20.g3 Be5 21.Ne2 [21.Bf4= Houdini 3] 21...a6 22.Bd4 Bxd4 23.Nxd4 b5 24.a3 Kg7 25.Re1 f6 26.f4 e5 27.fxe5?! [Probably better is 27.Nb3 Rxe4 28.Rxe4 Bf5 29.Kc1 Bxe4 30.Rxd6=] 27...dxe5 28.Nf3 Bc6 29.Rde2 Bb7 30.Kc2 Kf7 31.Nd2 R4c7 32.Re3 Rd8 33.Rd3 Rxd3 34.Kxd3 Ke6 35.Re3 f5 36.exf5+ gxf5 37.c4 e4+ 38.Kd4 bxc4 39.Nxc4 Bd5 40.Rc3? [This counting error allows Black to use tactics to exchange into a winning pawn ending. 40.Nb6 Rc2 41.b3 Rb2 42.Nxd5 Rd2+ 43.Kc3 Rxd5=/+] 40...Rxc4+ 41.Rxc4 Bxc4 42.Kxc4 Ke5 43.Kc3 f4 44.gxf4+ Kxf4 45.Kd2 Kf3 46.Ke1 Ke3 47.b4 Kd3 48.a4 Kc4 49.b5 axb5 50.axb5 [Or 50.a5 Kc5-+] 50...Kxb5 51.Kf2 Kc4 52.Ke2 Kd4 53.Kd2 Ke5 54.Ke2 Kf4 55.Kf2 Kg4 56.Ke3 Kxh4 57.Kxe4 Kg3 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

20 Favorite Chess Posts of 2013

Happy New Year 2014! This is a revised post for 1/1/2014 with updated numbers as of May 2017. Here is my top 20 Favorite Chess Blog list for the year 2013. I wrote a total of 366 posts on this blog during the year 2013. Many of those posts have been deleted. Only the most popular posts remain on my blog. Enjoy!

Editor's note: Click here for the link to my latest Top 70.


1876. Famous Trap: Hastings h-file Mate in Ruy Lopez

1401. Roman Dzindzichashvili and the Scotch Gambit

788. Battle of Petroff Defence Repertoire Book Ideas

706. Book Review: Dark Knight System James Schuyler

469. Carlos Avalos Teaches Me Lesson

468. You Take a Shot at King, Make Sure You Kill Him

453. Luis Ledesma French Defence Sawyer

429. Jeremy Katz Best French Alapin Gambit

383. Larsen's Opening 1.b3 with Hastings h-file Mate

382. Alternative Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Von Popiel


367. Leisebein vs Quinones Blackmar-Diemer

329. Emil Josef Diemer Wins His Last Gambit Game

325. David Hutchings in BDG Bogoljubow

273. Petroff Fighting Cochrane Gambit

243. John Niven Scandinavian Defence

230. My 150 Attack Stephen Ashby Pirc

229. Geoffrey Coleman in BDG Vienna Hara-Kiri 5.g4

228. BDGer Quinones + Thoughts on Scheerer

219. BDGer Jorge Quinones vs Litos Polbete

217. Experiment in Schliemann Gambit

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