Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baffo Alekhine Two Pawns Attack

I am ready for my monthly Baffo Bashing, but this time as Black I managed to hold him back. Jeffrey Baffo began with 1.e4 and I defended with the Alekhine Defence, one of my most successful defences. In our 12 match games, Jeff Baffo and I chose a wide variety of openings. Here Baffo chooses the Two Pawns Attack with 2.e5 and 4.c5 favored by many attacking players who prefer White in the Sicilian Defence Alapin variation that begins 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5. Some of those lines can transpose to some of the Alekhine Two Pawns, although either side can avoid the transpositions.

Two Pawns is also called the Alekhine Chase Variation. Transpositions to Sicilians come from challenging advanced White pawns with 6...d6, while 6...b6 stays strictly in the Alekhine. The tricky part following the maze of Sicilians is that they reach the same position as Alekhines one move quicker, so the numbers are off. For example, after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Nf3 e6 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Qc7 we reach the 9...Qc7 position in our game below. GM Evgeny Sveshnikov (famous for a Black Sicilian line) plays this position as White against both opening move orders.

Sveshnikov prefers the move 9.Bd2 (via Sicilian) or 10.Bd2 (via Alekhine). However in 2012, the grandmaster did play Baffo's move 10.Qb3!? where he followed the line 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bd6 14.Bb5+ and 1-0 in 37 moves (Sveshnikov-Degraeve, 28th Cappelle Open, 2012). In our USCF correspondence game below, we exchanged into a roughly equal bishop ending where Baffo and I agreed to a draw.

Baffo (2273) - Sawyer (1960), corr USCF 95P135, 18.03.1996 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Nc3 [5.Bc4 e6=] 5...e6 6.d4 d6 7.cxd6 cxd6 8.Nf3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qc7 10.Qb3!? [10.Bd2= is the normal book move.] 10...Nd7 11.Bf4 dxe5 12.Nxe5 [12.Bxe5 Sveshnikov] 12...Bd6 13.Bg3 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Be7 15.Bb5+ Bd7 16.Bxd7+ Qxd7 17.0-0 0-0 18.Rab1 b6 19.Rfd1 Qc7 20.Rd3 Rfd8 21.Rbd1 Rxd3 22.Rxd3 Rd8 23.Qd1 Kf8 [If I wanted to try for more, Houdini suggests 23...Rxd3 24.Qxd3 g5=/+ but I had no energy for that in 1996.] 24.Rd4 Rxd4 25.Qxd4 Qd8 26.Qxd8+ Bxd8 27.Kf1= 1/2-1/2

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

Schmoldt vs Muhr Lemberger 4.dxe5

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit was avoided with a BDG Lemberger 3...e5 in a game played last month between Ruediger Schmoldt of Germany and Andreas Muhr of Austria that began as a Scandinavian Defence 1.e4 d5 2.d4. White chose the same 4.dxe5 drawish line that I had tried vs Tim Harding. In that game I continued 5.Nxd1 and was outplayed by my Irish opponent. In the game below Schmoldt chose 5.Kxd1.

Being unable to castle is not such a problem when the queens are off the board and no pieces are developed. The main thing is to coordinate your own pieces and to make sure all the key squares are protected. With that taken care of, you have to look for ways to unbalance the position in hopes of victory. Schmoldt tries the risky 11.e6!? and Muhr manages to obtain a small advantage.

Schmoldt (2147) - Muhr (1962), 30th Faaker See Open 2014 Latschach AUT (6.11), 13.08.2014 begins 1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.dxe5 Qxd1+ 5.Kxd1 [Another popular continuation is 5.Nxd1 Nc6 6.Bf4 (6.Nc3!? Nb4 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Bxd7+ Kxd7 9.Kd1=) 6...Nge7 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.Nc3=] 5...Bg4+ 6.Be2 Bxe2+ 7.Ngxe2 Nc6 8.Bf4 0-0-0+ 9.Kc1 Nge7 10.Nxe4 Ng6 11.e6!? [11.Rd1=] 11...Nd4 12.N4g3 Nxe6 13.Be3 Nh4 14.Rg1 Bd6 15.c3 f5 16.Nd4 [16.Nh5 g5=/+] 16...Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Rhe8 18.Kc2 f4 19.Nh5 Nf5 [19...Re2+! 20.Kb3 Nf5-/+] 20.Bxg7 [20.Rae1=] 20...Nxg7 [20...Re2+!-/+] 21.Nxg7 Re2+ 22.Kb3 Bf8 [22...Be5 23.Nf5 Rdd2=/+] 23.Nh5 Rdd2 24.Rab1 b5 25.Nxf4 a5 26.a3 Rxf2 27.Rgf1 Rxb2+ 28.Rxb2 Rxf1 29.Ne6 Bd6 30.Nd4 b4 31.axb4 axb4 32.cxb4 Bxh2 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stephen O'Shea Hot Queens Gambit

We were hot. Burning hot in Hatboro. The air conditioning was not working this day at the tournament site. I was sweating like a pig while trying to play serious chess. How do you handle poor playing conditions? As a young man in 1981, I handled it very foolishly. The temperature reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit on this Sunday in Philadelphia. The front doors to the building were left wide open so that at least we would get some moving air from outside as we crowded around the chess tables inside. The air was still.

Our opening an Orthodox Queens Gambit Declined which leads to longer games. My opponent for the fourth round was Stephen O'Shea. He had to be as uncomfortable as I and everyone else in the room was. I lived in the South 1977-1980, but by the summer of 1981, my body reacclimated itself to Northern weather. Our bodies naturally thicken our blood in cold climates to conserve heat and thin our blood to release heat in hot climates. Now in Florida my body is used to 95 degree temperatures, but not in 1981 Philly.

So what did I do? I decided to play my tournament game as if it was blitz chess. My opponent was rated 300 points below me. All things being equal the odds of me winning were excellent. But my choice to play without much thought was stupid. O'Shea wisely played at a normal pace. For the first dozen moves we played a well-known solid book line. Three months earlier I had won a club game vs John Mack with the move 13.Qb1, a favorite of Najdorf. In later years I preferred 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.f4 and tried to outplay my opponents from an equal but unbalanced position.

In the game below I am winning through move 27. Then I throw it all away in the heat of the moment with blunders on moves 28 and 29. Now fired up I stubbornly suffer on until move 65. Stephen O'Shea holds his advantage and earns a well deserved victory. USCF lists shows one Stephen O'Shea who obtained a rating in the 1700s and plays in tournaments down South in the Huntsville, Alabama. I wish him well.

Sawyer (1887) - O'Shea (1583), Hatboro,PA (4), 19.07.1981 begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 c6 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nd5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.0-0 Nxc3 12.Rxc3 e5 13.Qb1 [This is a rare line meant to support b4 and cover the b1-h7 diagonal. More common are either 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.f4 Qe4=; or 13.Qc2 exd4 14.exd4 Nb6 15.Re1 Qd8 16.Bb3 Nd5 17.Bxd5 Qxd5=] 13...e4 14.Nd2 Nf6 15.Rfc1 [15.b4+/=] 15...Bf5 16.b4 Qd7 17.a4 Rac8 18.Be2 Rfe8 19.b5 Nd5 20.Rc5 Rc7 21.Bc4 Nb6 22.Bb3 Rcc8 23.a5 Nd5 24.Ba4 [24.a6!+-] 24...Re6 25.Bb3 [White is winning after 25.bxc6 bxc6 26.Rxd5 Qxd5 27.Rc5 Qd6 28.Rxf5+-] 25...Ree8 26.bxc6 [White wins material with 26.a6 Ne7 27.Nc4 Bg6 28.Ne5 Qc7 29.axb7 Qxb7 30.bxc6+-] 26...bxc6 27.Ba4 Re6 [27...Ne7 28.Nxe4+/-] 28.f3?! [Again 28.Rxd5! Qxd5 29.Rc5 Qd6 30.Rxf5+-] 28...Nxe3 29.Nxe4? [Throwing everything away in the heat of the moment. Chances are roughly equal after 29.Qb2=] 29...Bxe4 30.fxe4 Qxd4 31.Qa1 Qd2 32.Rg5 Rg6 33.Rcc5 h6 34.Qc3 Qxc3 [Fastest is to threaten checkmate with 34...Rf6! 35.h3 Qf2+ 36.Kh2 hxg5-+ leaves Black up a rook with a mating attack.] 35.Rxc3 Rxg5 36.Rxe3 Rxa5 37.Bb3 Re5 38.Kf2 c5 39.Bd5 Re7 40.Ke2 a5 41.Ra3 Ra7 42.Kd3 Kf8 43.Kc4 Ke7 44.e5 Rb8 45.Kxc5 Rc7+ 46.Kd4 Rb4+ 47.Ke3 Rc5 48.Bf3 Rxe5+ 49.Kd3 Rc5 50.Ke3 Rb6 51.Kd4 Kd6 52.h3 Rb4+ 53.Kd3 Kc7 54.Kd2 Kb6 55.Kd3 a4 56.Kd2 [If 56.Bd1 Kb5 57.Ra1 Rd5+ 58.Ke3 f5-+ Black is still winning easily.] 56...Ka5 57.Rd3 Rcb5 58.Rd6 a3 59.Be2 Rb2+ 60.Ke1 Re5 61.Ra6+ Kb4 62.Rb6+ Kc3 63.Rc6+ Kb3 64.Kf1 Rexe2 65.h4 Rec2 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Haines Bold French Defence Bishop Sacrifice

Ray Haines pressures Lance Beloungie with a classic Bxh7+ sacrifice in a thematic French Defence position that was difficult for Black to defend. Ray writes:

"I won as White He left his king undefended. I looked at the kingside and wanted to sac. The king bishop for the attack. I could not see mate in every line, but I could see a lot of attacking chances. The best move for him would have been to play his king to king knight three on move 14 (14...Kg6). I thought that it might even win for him at first, but the computer seems to show I had a lot of play in this line also. I think that the attack was worth the piece. I COULD HAVE TAKEN the bishop on move 15 with my queen and the game could have ended in a draw as a result, but I saw the attacking chances and did not wish it to just end in a draw."

In the final round of the Potato Blossom Festival, Ray Haines seals his first place victory by defeating the French Defence. He played the 3.Bd3 which allows Black to equalize with 3...dxe4 4.Bxe4. However, after 3...Nf6 4.Nd2 c5 avoids a transposition into a Tarrasch Variation (3.Nd2) by playing 5.c3 instead of 5.e5.

Haines (1803) - Beloungie (1787), Potato Blossom Festival (3), 12.07.2014 begins 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.Nd2 c5 5.c3 [5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 is standard.] 5...Nc6 6.Ngf3 dxe4 7.Nxe4 Nxe4 8.Bxe4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Bd6 10.0-0 0-0 11.Be3 Qc7 12.Rc1 Rd8 13.Bxh7+!? [13.Bb1+/=] 13...Kxh7 14.Ng5+ Kg8 [Correct defence is the bold 14...Kg6! 15.Qg4 f5! 16.Qh4 Bd7 17.Qh7+ Kf6=] 15.Qh5 Bxh2+ 16.Kh1 Bf4 [Black should last longer after 16...Rd5! 17.Qh7+ Kf8 18.Qh8+ Ke7 19.Qxg7+-] 17.Qh7+ Kf8 18.Qh8+ Ke7 19.Qxg7 Rf8 20.Nh7 Rd8 21.Qf6+ Ke8 22.Bxf4 Qe7 23.Qh8+ Kd7 24.Nf6+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Joseph Veach Wins Benoni Defence

FM Joseph Veach played the Benoni Defence with a 3...e5 Czech Benoni which was the second time that I had faced it in tournament play in 1981. This time I vary from my 6.Be2 0-0 7.Bg4 line against David Kistler to play the solid 6.Bd3. I determined that swapping off my bad bishop was not as important as tactics. Joe Veach was a master with a wide variety in chess opening repertoire which implies strong analytical ability at the board. Here Veach employs both positional and tactical ideas to crush me quickly.

Vs Kistler my idea was to play 7.Bg4 and swap my light squared bishop for his knight. Veach had a similar idea vs me and played 8...Bg5 to swap off his bad bishop for my good bishop. As a young man back then, I was not going to just sit there and play a positional game with a bad bishop. So I decided to "attack" with 9.g4!?, but after his 9...Bh4+, my own king was on the run. Black's king was never in the slightest danger.

Not that my concept was unsound; more like my ability was inept. I missed good moves at key points. I created clear targets for Black's army. I was completely outplayed by a FIDE chess master. This game from my early days was in a weekend tournament held each summer in Hatboro, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have no record of my first round game, which probably I won to get paired up vs Veach for the second round.

Sawyer (1887) - Veach (2231), Hatboro,PA (2), 18.07.1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e5 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 Be7 6.Bd3 0-0 7.f3 [7.h3+/=] 7...Nh5 8.Nge2 Bg5 9.g4!? [9.0-0] 9...Bh4+ 10.Kd2 Nf4 11.Nxf4 exf4 12.Kc2 Qf6 13.Ne2 [13.e5!?=] 13...b5 14.Nxf4? [14.cxb5=] 14...Nd7 15.Nh5 Qe7 16.cxb5 a6 17.bxa6 Ne5 18.Bb5 Bxa6 19.Bxa6 Rxa6 20.Bd2 Rfa8 21.a3 Rb6 22.Qe2 Qe8 23.Rhb1 [23.a4 c4 24.Bc3 Rxa4 25.Qe3 Rba6=/+] 23...c4 24.Qe3 [24.Bc3 g6=/+] 24...Qa4+ 25.b3 cxb3+ 26.Rxb3 Rc8+ 27.Kb2 Nc4+ 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sawyer Gambit 7.g4!? in Benko

Paul Norton played the Benko Gambit vs me in 1981 at Allentown, Pennsylvania. Inspiration of the moment led me to a wild sacrifice that was a picture of my future gambit self. The Sawyer Gambit vs the Benko Gambit is the enterprising idea 7.g4!? that I invented on the spot. The idea is to gain time by quickly attacking the center and Black's kingside before he could attack my queenside.

The concept of deflecting Black's Nf6 away from e4 makes sense on some level. There is the Shirov-Shabalov Gambit in the Semi-Slav after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4!? which is a hot topic nowadays. In our Benko, my 7.g4!? gambit worked in the sense that I took my opponent out of opening theory that he probably knew better than me. I got enough play to survive over the board in the final round while his clock was ticking. And yes, clocks actually did tick tock back then.

At some point in the year 1981 my rating was 1887. I use that rating for all my USCF games in 1981, though I was rapidly moving into the 1900s. All my opponents in this tournament were rated above me and I scored 2-3.

Loss vs David Kistler in Benoni Defence
Draw vs David Kushner in Gruenfeld Defence
Win vs Bruce Davis in Caro-Kann Defence
Loss vs William Dempler in Nimzo-Indian Defence
Draw vs Paul Norton in Benko Gambit (below)

Sawyer (1887) - Norton (1915), Allentown,PA (5), 14.06.1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.g4!? [7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1+/=] 7...Nxg4 8.e4 Ne5 [8...Bxf1 9.Kxf1 Nf6=/+] 9.f4 Bxf1 [Or 9...Ned7=] 10.Kxf1 Ned7 11.Nf3 g6 12.h4 Bg7 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.Rxh8+ Bxh8 16.Bd2 Qa6+ 17.Qe2 Qxe2+ 18.Kxe2 Na6 19.a3 c4 20.Be3 Rb8 21.Bd4 Bxd4 22.Nxd4 Rxb2+ 23.Ke3 Rg2 24.Nde2 g5 25.Kf3 Rh2 26.fxg5 Ne5+ 27.Ke3 Nc5 28.a4 Ned3 29.Kf3 Ne5+ 30.Kg3 Rh5 31.a5 Rxg5+ [Probably Black offered a draw here. He has an extra pawn and seems to stand slightly better. However, White has a passed pawn and his knights are in a solid position. Black cannot easily make progress and our ratings were close enough so that a draw will hardly move them. We were both out of the running for any prizes.] 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bruce Davis in Caro-Kann Allentown

Bruce Davis was already an active member of the Allentown, Pennsylvania chess scene when we met in round 3 of a tournament. By 1981 I was an expert in postal chess, but I had played in few live tournaments since 1972. I did play weekly in the Lansdale chess club near Philadelphia. Bruce Davis and I were about the same age, but my opponent was a more experienced tournament player. Playing with the White pieces and being rated a higher than me, Davis had every reason to fight for a win. Somehow I hung around long enough to win the ending. Back then I studied lots of endgame books.

I chose to play the Caro-Kann Defence which I had played since 1974. Usually I played either the 4...Bf5 Classical or the solid 4...Nd7 variation. Around 1978, I got a chess tape cassette by Raymond Keene on the more aggressive 4...Nf6 and 5...gxf6 Bronstein-Larsen variation. In 1978 I lost a postal game in this line as White. By 1979, I had taken it up as Black and scored a win and two draws. In 1981 I won all six games I played with 5...gxf6, five postal games and the Bruce Davis game below. By 1982, I played it vs stronger postal competition and started losing with it. That was no fun. By 1983, I had quit playing it until a lost to John Blood Sr. as Black in 1992. Then I lost with it again as White in 1994, see my Jeffrey Baffo game scheduled for October 2014. This variation still appears in my games from time to time.

Davis (1970) - Sawyer (1887), Allentown,PA (3), 13.06.1981 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 6.Bc4 [The main line is 6.c3 Bf5 7.Nf3+/=] 6...Bf5 7.Bf4 [More often White plays 7.Nf3 or 7.Ne2] 7...e6 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.Nf3 Nb6 10.Bb3 Bd6 11.0-0-0 Be4 12.Qe3 Bd5 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.g3 Bxb3 15.Qxb3 Qd5 16.Qxd5 cxd5 17.Rhe1 [17.Ne1 Nc4 18.Nd3 Nd6=] 17...Rc8 18.Nh4 Kf8 19.f4 f5 20.Nf3 Nd7 21.Kb1 Ke7 22.Rc1 Rc6 23.c3 b5 24.Re2 Rhc8 25.Rec2 h6 26.Ne1 R8c7 27.Nd3 Rc8 28.b3 R6c7 29.b4 Nb6 30.Nc5 Rc6 31.Re2 Rg8 32.Kc2 Rgc8 33.Kb3 R8c7 34.Rg1 h5 35.h3 Rc8 36.g4 hxg4 37.hxg4 fxg4 38.Rxg4 Kf6 39.Rg5 Rh8 40.Reg2 [40.Rge5=. I do not remember if either of us offered a draw in this game. Clearly White wanted to win. This led him to take risks that led to his loss.] 40...Rcc8 41.R2g3 Rh4 42.Nd3 Na4 43.Nc5 Rxf4 44.Nxa4 bxa4+ 45.Kxa4 Rxc3 46.Rxc3 Kxg5 47.Rd3 [White is lost after this. He might have better defensive chances after 47.Rc7 f5 48.Rxa7 Rxd4 49.Kb3 f4=/+] 47...f5 48.Kb5 Rh4 49.Kc5 f4 50.Kd6 Kf5 51.Rd1 f3 52.a4 Ke4 53.a5 f2 54.b5 Kf3 55.Rf1 Rxd4 56.Kxe6 Rb4 0-1

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