Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pat Murray in Dutch Coffee House 4.a3

In the Dutch Defence after 1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6, must White fianchetto his light squared bishop with g3/Bg2? No, of course not. White can play classically in the center with e3 and Be2/Bd3. After standard moves like 3.Nc3 e6, White may develop his dark squared bishop to Bf4/Bg5 before playing e3. Below my friend Pat Murray plays 4.a3 preventing 4...Bb4. This reminds me of the Queen's Indian Defence variation made popular by Tigran Petrosian that runs 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3.

This skittles game was played at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania where about half a dozen of us met each Tuesday night for chess. There was a big screen TV where we played and music blasting and college kids talking. Often it was a festive atmosphere. This was not the relatively quiet focused tournament conditions. It was chess in public where we were freely allowed to used the tables in a real coffee house setting. During the years I lived there, I loved it and rarely missed a week.

This game features my 7...Qe8 intending possibly ...Qg6 or ...Qh5 which is similar to a Bird's Opening or some lines of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. White attacks c7 with 8.Nb5 and then sacrifices a piece for two pawns. A couple careless moves gave White chances, but the ship was soon righted. My move 22...Bb7 appears to be protecting my queen. White missed that my move also supported a checkmate on g2.

Murray - Sawyer, Williamsport PA 1996 begins 1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.a3 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Bf4 d6 7.e3 Qe8 8.Nb5 Bd8 9.Nxd6 cxd6 10.Bxd6 Be7 11.Be5 Nc6 12.Be2 b6 13.Bf4 Kh8 [13...Bb7-+] 14.0-0 Ne4 15.Ne5 g5? [Black should protect Nc6 with 15...Bb7-/+ ] 16.Nxc6? [16.Bh5! Qd8 17.Nxc6+- wins for White.] 16...Qxc6 17.Be5+ Bf6 18.d5 [18.f3 Bxe5 19.dxe5 Nc5 20.b4 Nb7=/+ and Black is up a knight for two pawns.] 18...exd5 19.cxd5 Qd7 20.Bxf6+ Nxf6 21.Qd4 Qxd5 22.Rfd1 Bb7 23.Qc3? Qxg2# 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Black Dragon Gunderam 7.g4 Bg6

Facing the fire breathing BlackDragon in two minute bullet games proved too much for me most of the time, but here with a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit I played a good game and got a winning position. Alas I my clock ran low before I could checkmate him. To avoid a loss, I repeated moves for a draw, which also gained me some rating points.

Recently I posted 4 other BlackDragon games where I played White:
Budapest Gambit - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4
BDG O'Kelly - 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 c6
BDG Gunderam - 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5 6.Ne5 h5
BDG Gunderam - 5.Nxf3 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.g4 Be4

Today's game is a solid BDG Gunderam 7.g4 Bg6 where BlackDragon answers 8.Qf3 with the unusual 8...Bb4. The idea is that pinning the Nc3 allows Black to deal with my 9.Qxb7 threat by the clever response 9....Be4! However, White can just chop off the bishop by 9.Nxg6 hxg6 and then grab the b7-pawn with 10.Qxb7 with a good game.

This non-Sicilian Dragon opponent played 1.d4 Nf6 as Black. Francesco Cavicchi made this comment recently: "i've examined both 1d4 nf6 2g4 (Gibbins-Weidenhagen gambit) and 1d4 nf6 2e4 (Omega gambit) but i'm not particularly happy with these ones. So i still believe your suggestion 2f3 is preferable."
BDGers back into their gambit with either 2.f3 or 2.Nc3. I played both vs BlackDragon.

Sawyer - BlackDragon, Internet Chess Club, 08.01.1998 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.g4 Bg6 8.Qf3 Bb4 9.Nxg6 [Taking on g6 avoids 9.Qxb7 Be4!=] 9...hxg6 10.Qxb7 Nd5? [10...Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Nbd7=] 11.Qxa8 Nxc3 12.Kf2 0-0 13.bxc3 Bxc3 14.Rb1 Bxd4+ 15.Ke2 g5 16.Bg2 Bb6 [16...c6 17.c3+-] 17.Ba3 [17.Qe4+-] 17...Re8 18.Rhd1 Qf6 19.Qf3 Qh6 20.h3 Qg6 21.Qe4 Qf6 22.Qf3 Qg6 23.Qe4 Qf6 24.Rf1 Qh6 25.Rbd1 c5 26.Bb2 f6 27.Qb7 Qh7 28.Qe4 [28.Be4+-] 28...Qh6 29.Qb7 [29.Rd6+-] 29...Qh7 30.Qe4 Qh6 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, April 28, 2014

BDG Vienna 5.g4 Bg6 6.h4 20 Years Later

In my Blackmar-Diemer Gambit game vs Robert Beardsley, I wrote about a line in the very unbalanced and wild BDG Vienna Hara-Kiri after 5.g4 Bg6 6.h4 exf3 line. At that time and for many years after I felt that this line was too risky for White to play. Then along came the book by IM Christoph Scheerer and things changed.

When facing the BDG Declined Vienna Variation after 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5, White has two major ideas. One is Diemer's 5.fxe4 line and the other is the Hara-Kiri 5.g4 line. After the normal 5...Bg6, Tartakower pushed the g-pawn to 6.g5. This drives away one of the defenders of e4, allowing White to regain the pawn. Scheerer influenced me to give 6.h4 another try in a blitz game vs the computer engine "blik", despite my misgivings of 20 years ago. I got a good position, so I modified my views of 6.h4 somewhat. White is okay after 6...exf3, but 6...h6! seems to lean in Black's favor.

Once again I quote from "The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit" by Christoph Scheerer and published by Everyman. Scheerer wrote: "Despite being labelled 'dubious' by Wahls, 6.h4!? is quite ambitious and would probably my first choice in a must-win situation." Clearly Scheerer was influenced by the tremendous and creative work of David Flude, a long time notable BDGer whom I played years ago. More on that next month.

Sawyer (1982) - blik (2338), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 07.09.2013 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 Bf5 5.g4 Bg6 6.h4 exf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.h5 Bxc2 9.g5 Nd5 10.Rh2 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Ba4 12.Bc4 ["is an interesting suggestion by David Flude. White may be two pawns down at the moment, but his initiative cannot be denied.] 12...f6 [12...e6 13.g6 Qf6 14.gxf7+ Qxf7 15.Qxf7+ Kxf7 16.Re2 Bd6 17.Bxe6+ Kf6! 18.Nf3 h6 19.Bh3+/-] 13.Rf2 [White has a better line in 13.h6! g6 14.Rb2! b6 15.Bf4!+-] 13...Nd7 14.Be6 Qa5 15.Ne2 Nb6 16.g6? [Wrong pawn push. Correct is 16.h6! Bc2 17.Ng3 Bg6 18.Bd2+/=] 16...hxg6 17.hxg6 Kd8 18.Bf4 Bc2 19.Bf7 e5 20.dxe5 fxe5 21.Bg5+ Kc7 22.Kd2? [22.Ng3 Ba4-/+] 22...Qa4 23.Be6 Bxg6 24.Bb3 Qb5 25.Rd1 Bc5 26.Be3 Qd3+ 27.Kc1 Ba3# White is checkmated 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Avoid Sicilian in Queen's Knight

Sometimes I take a break from my favorite first moves 1.e4 and 1.d4 to play 1.Nc3 as White. When I play the Queens Knight Attack, I often face 1...c5. There is nothing wrong with playing 2.e4 and transposing to a Sicilian Defence, or even 2.d4!? However, my main purpose in playing 1.Nc3 is to intentionally avoid well-known and well-worn paths.

Can White avoid the Sicilian Defence if he so desires? Yes, but things are not so simple. In many positions after 1.Nc3 c5, an early e2-e4 is the best move. Therefore avoiding a transpositions may avoid a good game for a bad one. Still in many lines where there is no need to play e4. I usually play 2.Nf3 and 3.d4 and await further developments. The light squared bishop can be developed after g3 or e3, if White avoids an early e4.

In blitz chess, original openings force players think instead of playing from memory. That cuts both ways. Below I play a 3-minute game vs a higher rated player. We castled opposite sides. Both of us got attacks directed at the opponent's king by pushing rooks pawns and knight pawns. At our fast paced speed, I was able to play the move 30.Qb2 which did two things at the same time. Obviously I was defending my king. He retreated hoping for a better attacking angle and missing that I had a far away mate in one.

Sawyer (1942) - nours (2017), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 13.03.2014 begins 1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Bg5 e6 6.Qd2 [6.e4 Sicilian Defence] 6...Be7 7.Ndb5?! [7.e3=] 7...d5 8.0-0-0 a6 9.Nd4 h6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.e3 0-0 12.g3 Qa5 13.Nb3 Qc7 14.Kb1 b5 15.f4 b4 16.Ne2 a5 17.Nbd4 Ba6 18.Nxc6 Qxc6 19.Nd4 Qc7 20.Bxa6 Rxa6 21.g4 a4 22.h4 b3 23.cxb3 axb3 24.a3 Rfa8 25.g5 [25.Rc1=] 25...Be7 26.gxh6 Bxa3 27.Nb5?! Qe7? [Black wins with 27...Bb4!-+ but instead White is up a piece, then a rook and eventually a king.] 28.Nxa3 [Or 28.bxa3+-] 28...Rxa3 29.bxa3 Qxa3 30.Qb2 Qb4? 31.Qxg7# Black checkmated 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

GambitBandit Wins Bogoljubow Studier

In the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit there are many defences that resemble well-known openings in Black pawn structure and piece play. One of the best is the Bogoljubow Variation after 5.Nxf3 g6, which has many characteristics of the Gruenfeld Defence. Black's kingside development includes Nf6, g6, Bg7 and 0-0. His d-pawn goes to ...d5 and gets exchanged off. Black's tactics revolve around attacking d4 with either ...c5, or ...Nc6 and ...e5, and attacking d4's Nf3 protector. These are good and effective plans.

This is the third of at least 11 Saturdays in a row that I plan to examine White attempts to threaten Black's critical lines in the BDG Bogoljubow. An idea played by "GambitBandit" below is the popular 6.Bc4 with the idea of 7.0-0 and Studier's 8.Qe1 followed by 9.Qh4. This set-up has the potential threat of Bh6, Ng5, Bxg7, Rxf6, and Qxh7 with a possible mate. The position after 11...e5 can be reached by several move orders. I present the game below with some detailed notes because 12.d5 Nd4 is a critical line. Black resigns when he realizes that his 25th move will cost him his queen for a rook after 26.Rd8+!

GambitBandit (2037) - Phosphorus (2042), ICC 15 5 Internet Chess Club, 03.02.2005 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1 Bg4 9.Qh4 Bxf3 10.Rxf3 Nc6 11.Be3 e5 12.d5 Nd4 13.Bxd4 exd4 14.Qxd4 c6 15.Rd1 [This is probably best. Other tries include:15.Qh4 Nxd5-/+; 15.Qd3 Ng4-+; 15.Qc5 Nd7-/+] 15...Nxd5 [The critical line is 15...b5! 16.Bf1 Nxd5 17.Qf2 a6=+] 16.Qf2! Bxc3 [If 16...Qb6 17.Nxd5 Qxf2+ 18.Kxf2 cxd5 19.Bxd5=] 17.Rxc3 [17.Bxd5 cxd5 18.Rxc3 Re8=] 17... Qg5 [17...Nxc3! 18.Rxd8 Raxd8 19.Qxa7 Rd1+ 20.Kf2 Ne4+ 21.Kf3 Re8 and ½-½ in 31. Neumeyer-Leisebein, corr 1999] 18.Bxd5 cxd5 19.Rc7 b6 20.Rd7 Rad8 [20...Qg4 21.R1xd5 and ½-½ in 42. Birchbeer-kudrin/Internet Chess Club 1995] 21.Rxa7 d4 22.Ra4 Qc5 23.Raxd4 Rxd4 24.Rxd4 Ra8 25.a4 b5 Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, April 25, 2014

Play Fast Blitz Opponents

I fell in love with blitz chess playing Graham Cooper 40 years ago. Two rules of thumb: (1) Play faster than your opponent, and (2) Do not get mated quickly. You will win a LOT of blitz games if you follow these two suggestions. Many players run out of time. Three minute or five minute games do not allow for much analysis or planning. Blitz is speed chess. It is reaction chess. You react in blitz chess in three phases of the game: (1) Theory, (2) Tactics, and (3) Technique.

In opening lines that you know, you react to what your opponent is playing. In the game below I played a Queens Knight Attack transposing to a Scandinavian Defence. It began 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4, after which I am poised to move my knight in reaction to Black's next move. If 2...dxe4 then 3.Nxe4; or as in the game, if 2...d4 then 3.Nce2. Once you reach a position that you do not have memorized, you react tactically to the patterns you recognize. In the game below, I knew that for move eight, I could play 8.c3 to challenge the center and open useful lines on the queenside. In the endgame, I used technique to envision the final checkmate I was aiming for. My opponent "jl1020" was very fast. Normally in a 3-minute game, players run out of time by move 60. Here my opponent made me play 83 moves when I mated him with less than a second left.

Sawyer (1937) - jl1020 (1674), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 18.04.2014 begins 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 d4 3.Nce2 e5 4.Ng3 g6 5.Nf3 f6 6.Bc4 c5 7.0-0 Bd7 8.c3 Ne7 9.cxd4 cxd4 10.d3 Bg7 11.Qb3 Qc7 12.Bf7+ Kf8 13.Be6 Nbc6 14.Bxd7 Qxd7 15.Bd2 Na5? [15...h5=] 16.Qd1? [Played after 5 seconds. As soon as I played my queen back near my bishop, I saw I could have just taken the knight. 16.Bxa5+-] 16...Nac6 17.Qb3 Rb8 18.Rac1 Nd8 19.Bb4 Ndc6 20.Ba3 Na5? 21.Qb4 [I missed 21.Qd5!+-] 21...Nac6 22.Qd6 [Clocks 1:51-1:51 with 61 more moves each to play.] 22...Qxd6 23.Bxd6 Kf7 24.Bxb8 Rxb8 25.a3 Na5 26.Rc7 Ke6 27.Nd2 Kd6 28.Rc2 Bh6 29.Rb1 Bxd2 30.Rxd2 Nb3 31.Rc2 h5 32.Nf1 a5 33.Nd2 Nc5 34.Nc4+ Ke6 35.Nxa5 Nxd3 36.Rc7 Nf4 37.g3 Nh3+ 38.Kg2 Ng5 39.Rbc1 Nxe4 40.Nb3 Nd6 41.Nc5+ Kf5? [41...Kf7] 42.f3? [Missing 42.Rxe7+-] 42...Nd5 43.Rg7 Ne3+ 44.Kf2 b6 45.Nd7 Ke6 [45...Rd8 46.Nxb6+-] 46.Nxb8 Nb5 47.Rb7 Nd5 48.Na6 Nd6 49.Rb8 Ke7 50.Rc6 Ke6 51.Rbxb6 Nxb6 52.Rxb6 [Clocks: 0:27-0:30 Up a rook with 30 moves to play in less than 30 seconds.] 52...Kd7 53.Nc5+ Kc7 54.Rb4 Nf5 55.Ne4 Ne3 56.Nxf6 Nd1+ 57.Ke1 Ne3 58.Rb5 Nc2+ 59.Kd2 Ne3 60.Nd5+ Kc6 61.Nxe3 dxe3+ 62.Kxe3 Kxb5 63.Ke4 [Clocks 0:11-0:15. Panic time. Twenty more moves to play and mate or I lose. I decided to first grab his pawns so I at least get a draw.] 63...Ka4 64.Kxe5 Kb3 65.Kf6 Kxb2 66.a4 Ka3 67.a5 Kb4 68.a6 Kc3 69.a7 Kd4 70.a8Q Kd3 71.Qe4+ Kc3 72.Kxg6 Kd2 73.Kxh5 [Clocks 0:06-0:11. Six seconds to checkmate him with ten more moves left to play. Very quickly I decided to queen a pawn rather that move over my king which could more easily stalemate.] 73...Kc3 74.Qe3+ Kc2 75.Qe4+ Kc1 76.Qe2 Kb1 77.f4 Ka1 78.Qd2 Kb1 79.f5 Ka1 80.f6 Kb1 81.f7 Ka1 82.f8Q Kb1 83.Qf1# [Black is checkmated. Final clocks: 0:00.7-0:06.8] 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cavicchi: Lemberger Theory and Muir

When I posted a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, my friend Francesco Cavicchi chatted comments about various issues with the Lemberger Counter Gambit after 3...e5:

Francesco Cavicchi: "The practical problem with the Lange gambit nxe4 is that it brings to very difficult, chaotic lines, hard to remember for a variation not so often played. I do not recommend this for amateurs like me (elo 1750). I love Sneider's qh5, sadly it doesn't work at all. I still think the only way to fight Lemberger is to study chess endings and play dxe5. After all, maybe my opponent is only bluffing and doesn't know endings better than me (i hope so). 4dxe5 is ugly and unspectacular but more forcing."

How do I see current theory on these BDG Lemberger lines?
4.Nxe4 - scores 56.9%. Both 4...Qxd4 and 4...exd4 are complicated.
4.Qh5 - scores 49.1%. Black is one half pawn better after 4...Qxd4!
4.dxe5 - scores 39.4%. In theory close to equal, but it leans Black.
4.Bb5 - scores 64.7% (only 34 games). Chess engines like it okay.
4.Nge2 - scores 55.0%. Easier to play; sound and equal in all lines.

I agree that 4.Nxe4 is "hard to remember", largely because Black really chooses a wide variety of responses during the next four moves. Instead of theory being a like a pole with one main line, or a Charlie Brown tree with just a few branches, it quickly becomes a dense bush where the right path is harder to find or remember. That said, chess engines do give White good play after 4.Nxe4 and the positions are no picnic for Black either.

In theory 4.Nge2 works pretty well. It is easier because almost everyone plays 4...exd4 5.Qxd4 Qxd4 6.Nxd4 Nf6 7.Bg5 and White is at least equal. But as my chess club friend Bob Muir demonstrated below, there are other 4th moves.

Sawyer (2010) - Muir (1800), Williamsport,PA, 05.1998 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nge2 Nd7 [A novelty which allows White to keep Black from castling. A better move allows Black to try to keep White from castling. 4...Nc6 5.dxe5 (5.Be3!= is best.) 5...Qxd1+ 6.Nxd1 Nxe5=/+] 5.dxe5 Nxe5 6.Qxd8+ Kxd8 7.Nxe4 Bf5 8.N2g3 Bg6 9.Bf4 Bd6 10.Nxd6 cxd6 11.0-0-0 Ke7 12.Bb5 [12.Bd2! Rc8 13.Bc3 Ng4? 14.Bb5 Nxf2 15.Rhe1+ Kf8 16.Rd2 Ng4 loses to 17.Bd7+-] 12...Rc8 13.Ba4 b5 14.Bb3 a5 15.c3 f6 16.Rhe1 b4 17.Bxe5 dxe5 18.Bc2?! [18.f4+/=] 18...bxc3 19.b3 Nh6 20.h3 Nf7 21.Bxg6 hxg6 22.Kc2 Rhd8 23.Ne4 Nd6 24.Nxd6 Rxd6 25.Rxd6 Kxd6 26.Re3 Kd5 27.Rd3+ Ke4 28.Rxc3 Rxc3+ [Black might wish to find a draw in a rook ending. 28...Rd8+/=] 29.Kxc3 Kd5 30.a3 [30.b4!+- wins.] 30...f5? [Now the win is easy. 30...g5! makes White's task much more difficult. 31.b4 a4 32.f3+/=] 31.h4 Kd6 32.Kc4 Kc6 33.b4 axb4 34.axb4 Kb6 35.b5 e4 36.g3 Kb7 37.Kc5 Kc7 38.b6+ Kb7 39.Kb5 1-0

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