Sunday, May 31, 2015

Atari vs Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

I completed my 10 book series on Play BDG: Blackmar-Diemer Books 1-5 and Blackmar-Diemer Books 6-10

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Accepted game below sees Black move his knight a second and third time to exchange off his only developed piece. My database has 21 games with 5...Nd5 and the performance rating favors White by +20 rating points.

Personally I faced this variation only five times in the last 30 years. The first time I saw this was my own win vs the Atari chess program I played in 1988. My score as White is three wins and two losses (vs chess engines). My games in this line tend to be very short. This one is typical.

Sawyer - charger2153 (1422), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 20.10.2014 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Nd5 6.Bd3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c6 8.0-0 e6 9.Qe1 Bd6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bf4 0-0 12.Qg3 Bf6 [12...Nd7 13.Bh6+/-] 13.Rae1 Nd7 14.Qh3 h6? [14...g6 15.Bd6 Re8 16.Ne5+-] 15.Bxh6 Bxd4+ [If 15...g6 White has the happy choice between 16.Qg3+- or 16.Bxf8+-] 16.cxd4 [Also good is 16.Nxd4 f5 17.Nxe6 Qb6+ 18.Be3+-] 16...Qf6 [16...f5 17.Qg3+-] 17.Bg5 Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Slav Defence Mike Mason Attack

Mike Mason and I battle it out late into the night during the fourth round of the Florida State Championship at Daytona Beach. The event was won by Julio Becerra just ahead of Blas Lugo, Ray Robson, Andrew Boekhoff and Troy Daly (whom I drew). This was the first time I had met former USCF Expert Mike Mason.

In a Slav Defence Exchange Variation White's plan is obvious: saddle Black with a bad bishop or weakened pawn structure. The delay of White's Nf3 with a quick Nc3 and Bf4 allows him to threaten a sneaky Nb5. When I played 21...Rc8, I thought my king could get to d6 and he could not then win. Yes, he had the better bishop, but I had confidence because I had drawn such endings vs strong computers maybe a hundred times. At that time I practiced bishop endings several times per week.

Then I went off to the bathroom. When I came back, I did not pay close attention to his actual 22.Kg2! move. I should have adjusted my plans on move 23. Instead I walked into an inferior endgame forcing myself to work very hard for the draw.

Mason (1986) - Sawyer (1959), Florida State Championship (4), 02.09.2007 begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bf4 a6?! [5...Nc6! When I was concerned with 6.Nb5? but 6...e5! leaves Black with a very good game after 7.Bxe5 Qa5+ 8.Nc3 Ne4 9.Rc1 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Ba3-/+] 6.e3 Nc6 7.Bd3 g6!? 8.h3 Bg7 9.Nf3 0-0 10.0-0 e6 11.Rc1 Nh5 12.Bh2 f5 [With the threat of a potential f5-f4 push, I was able to exchange several of White's minor pieces and ease my defensive situation.] 13.g4 Nf6 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.Bxe5 Ne4 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Nxe4 fxe4 18.Be2 Bd7 19.f3 exf3 20.Rxf3 Rxf3 21.Bxf3 Rc8 22.Kg2! Rxc1 23.Qxc1 Qc8? [Correct was 23...Bc6!=] 24.Qxc8 Bxc8 25.g5! [White is now winning because Black's king cannot get to d6. However, I was determined to fight for a draw.] 25...Bd7 26.Kg3 Kf7 27.Kf4 Ke7 28.Ke5 b6 29.h4 Bc6 30.h5 a5 31.h6 Bb7 32.Be2 Bc6 33.Bd3 Be8 34.e4 dxe4 35.Bxe4 Bf7 36.d5 exd5 37.Bxd5 Be8 [37...Bxd5 38.Kxd5 Kd7 39.a4+- would lead to an easy White win.] 38.a3 Bb5 39.Be4 Be8 40.Kd5 Kd7 41.b4 axb4 42.axb4 Bf7+ 43.Ke5 Ke7 44.Bc6 Bc4 45.Bd5 Bb5 46.Be6 Bc6 47.Bg8 Ba4 48.Be6 [After the game, another player came up to me out in the hall and said that there was a point where White could take on h7 and win. I did not believe him, but sure enough here it is. 48.Bxh7! wins 48...Kf7 49.Kd6 Be8 50.Kc7 b5 51.Kd6+-] 48...Bc6 49.Bc8 Bf3 50.Be6?= [I finally wear him out, and just in time! Now 50...Bc6 would repeat the position a third time. I had expected 50.Bf5!+- 1-0, but my opponent was convinced that White had nothing anywhere.] 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Arden in Blackmar-Diemer Lemberger

How do you play against your own opening? James Arden and I faced each other in four Blackmar-Diemer Gambit correspondence games. The challenge of a thematic tournament is that everyone plays the same opening against each other. My normal approach as Black vs the BDG is to grab the gambit pawn and dare White to prove he can survive while down a pawn. I win some and lose some.

My other games vs James Arden began 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3. We both won one game when I had White and I won the other game when I had the Black pieces. In this game below I chose the BDG Lemberger with the Black pieces which is less risky and less rewarding than accepting the gambit outright.

James Arden responded with the logical 4.Be3 Soller variation. This opening examines a critical continuation up through 6...Nc6. At various points Black had good chances for an advantage, but in the end our fireworks fizzled into a draw.

Arden - Sawyer, corr BDG thematic (2) 1997 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.Be3 exd4 5.Qxd4 Qxd4 6.Bxd4 Nc6 7.0-0-0 Bf5 [7...Nxd4 8.Rxd4 f5 9.Nb5 c5=/+] 8.Bb5 Nge7 9.Be3 a6 10.Ba4 [10.Bxc6+ Nxc6 11.Nge2=] 10...b5 11.Bb3 Na5 12.Bd5 Nxd5 13.Rxd5 Be6 14.Re5 [14.Rd1 f5=/+] 14...Nc4 [14...0-0-0-/+] 15.Rxe4 Nxe3 16.Rxe3 Bc5 17.Re2 0-0 [17...0-0-0-/+] 18.f3 [18.Nf3 Rad8=/+] 18...Bd4 19.a3 Bc4 20.Re1 Bxc3 [20...a5-/+] 21.bxc3 Rfe8 22.Nh3 a5 23.Nf2 f6 24.Re4 f5 25.Rd4 Re2 26.Rd2 Rae8 27.Rhd1 Kf7 28.Rxe2 Rxe2 29.Rd2 Re7 30.Nd3 Bxd3 31.cxd3 Re1+ 32.Rd1 Rxd1+ 33.Kxd1 Ke6 34.a4 [Or 34.f4=] 34...bxa4 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Smashing Sicilian Defence Smith-Morra

Ray Haines and Ed Sawyer lived 150 miles apart along the New Brunswick, Canada border. I had the privilege of visiting each of their homes. In a sharp Sicilian Defence Smith-Morra Gambit Ray Haines notches an impressive quick win. I added new notes in 2015 using chess engines. In their 1975 Bangor Daily News weekly Chess column tournament directors George Cunningham and Gerry Dullea wrote this:

"In a postal game against inter-county rival Ed Sawyer, 1974 champion of Washington County, Ray makes victory look easy again as he employs one of his favorite attacks, the Smith-Morra line of the Sicilian. Tim Sawyer to whom we are indebted for these games and his comments on them, says Ray has demonstrated several beautiful forced wins from the key position after White's 11th move. He also notes Black's slow development. Ed sees that his queen is no protection for the knight after all because taking the rook leaves him on the painful end of a king-queen fork by the White knight. Our thanks go to Ray for creating these brief beauties and to Tim for being thoughtful enough to share them."

Haines - Ed Sawyer, corr Maine, 1974 begins 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6 7.0-0 Nf6 [7...e6 8.Qe2=] 8.Bg5!? [8.Bf4= Komodo, Stockfish] 8...e6 9.Qe2 h6! [40 years ago I thought this was a mistake, but since then it has become the top move. 9...Be7 10.Rfd1 Qc7 11.Rac1 0-0 12.Bb3=] 10.Bf4! e5 [10...g5!=/+ Stockfish] 11.Rfd1!? exf4 [11...Bd7 12.Be3=] 12.e5 Nxe5? [12...Qe7 13.exf6 Qxe2 14.Bxe2 gxf6= Black has an extra pawn among his ugly islands.] 13.Nxe5 Qe7 14.Bxf7+ Kd8 15.Rxd6+!? Kc7? 16.Rxf6! 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Play Dutch Defence and Bird's Opening

My first installment of the Dutch Defence is now available in the Play Dutch and Bird series. Before I took up the BDG, I played the BDF, the BLD or the BAD. Before I took up the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, I played the Bird, Dutch and French, the Bird, Latvian Gambit and Dutch, or the Bird's Opening, Alekhine and Dutch Defence.

Robert Cummins chose a Gruenfeld Defence set-up vs my Birds Opening Stonewall, which is in affect a main line Dutch Defence in reverse. The opening reaches positions that give equal chances, but that does not mean the games are going to be drawn. Any creative and energetic player will have good chances to win. In the 1970s and 1980s, I played the Bird's Opening just before I dropped out of playing rated chess games for a while. Here Black offered to repeat moves, I was all too happy to comply. By 1988 I returned to active chess through the exciting world of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

Sawyer (2000) - Cummins (1812), corr APCT 1985 begins 1.f4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.e3 c5 4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 d5 6.c3 b6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Ne5 Qc7 9.Nd2 [9.Bb5 Bb7 10.Qa4 Rc8 11.Qxa7=] 9...0-0 10.Qe1 Ne4 11.Qh4 [11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.b3=] 11...Bf6 [11...Nd6! 12.Re1 Nf5=/+] 12.Qh6 [12.Qe1=] 12...Bg7 [12...Nd6! 13.g4 Bg7 14.Qh4 f6-/+] 13.Qh4 Bf6 14.Qh6 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ray Haines Mates Queen's Gambit

In the 1970s George Cunningham and Gerry Dullea wrote on Chess in the Saturday edition of the Bangor Daily News. This week Ray Haines sent me a copy of a column from 1975. Ray wrote: "You sent two of my game to the newspaper back when I was in high school. Here is the story they printed." I quote a portion from them:

"Two recent correspondents have sounded the praises of Ray Haines, a young man from Fort Fairfield, in Aroostook County. Apparently Ray is getting over the tournament jitters that have plagued him and is now able to orchestrate his very considerable theoretical knowledge into victories over the board. Players in the County consider Ray the best attacker player there, and that's saying quite a bit in view of the many fine players in northern Maine. In a game from the Good-Bye 1974, Ray shows a little of his prowess on the attack and he quickly demolishes Kirk Rideout, taking advantage of a few inaccuracies springing a cute trap and finally applying the clincher."

Haines - Rideout, Good-Bye 1974 Maine, 1974 begins 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.c4 dxc4 4.d5!? [4.e3 leads to well-known lines.] 4...e6 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nc3 [6.Bxc4+/=] 6...exd5 7.e5 d4 8.Bxc4 Be6? [8...Ng4 9.h3 Nc6=] 9.Bxe6 fxe6 10.exf6 dxc3? 11.f7+ Ke7 12.Bg5+ Kxf7 13.Ne5+ Ke8 14.Qxd8# 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Marty McFly in Modern Benoni

The Back To The Future movie series starting Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly began thirty years ago and first released on July 3, 1985. The original three movies involved time travel. Recently there has been talk of a fourth movie in the works. We'll see.

In the first movie Marty McFly went back 30 years to 1955. In the second movie they go ahead thirty years to October 21, 2015 when Miami was playing the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. This was a far fetched idea in 1985 since there was no Florida team and the Cubs never go to the baseball fall classic. In reality this year, the Chicago Cubs are actually good and now there is a Miami baseball team. Alas, they are both in the National League. Therefore only one of those teams could play against the American League in the World Series. This year the Cubs could wind up playing the Tampa Bay Rays.

In 2014 I played an Internet Chess Club three minute blitz game against Martin McFly in the Modern Benoni Defence opening. I adopted the set-up as White with 7.f3, 8.Bd3 and 9.Nge2. Chances were fairly even early on. I used more time to get a better position, but then I repeated moves to avoid losing on the clock.

Sawyer (1962) - Martinmcfly (1991), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 16.05.2014 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f3 Bg7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.Nge2 h5 [9...a6 10.a4 Nbd7 11.0-0 Ne5 12.Be3 Re8 13.b3=] 10.Bg5 a6 11.0-0 [11.a4=] 11...b5 12.Qd2 c4?! [12...Nbd7=] 13.Bc2 Nbd7 14.Bh6 [14.b4!? Qc7 15.a4+/=] 14...Ne5 [14...Bxh6 15.Qxh6 b4 16.Nd1 Ne5=] 15.Nd4 Bd7 16.a3 Qb6 17.Be3 Qc7 18.Kh1 Rab8 19.Na2 a5 20.Rad1 Qb7 21.Qxa5 Ra8 [Another try is 21...h4 22.Qb4 Qa6 23.Nc6 Bxc6 24.dxc6 Nxc6 25.Qxd6+/=] 22.Qd2 Rfe8 23.Nb4 Rac8 24.Ne2 Qc7 25.Na6?! [At this point I go for a draw by repetition of moves, possibly influenced by the clock. White is under attack, but does have an extra pawn. I could have continued 25.Qe1!+-] 25...Qb7 26.Nb4 Qc7 27.Na6?! Qb7 28.Nb4 Qc7 29.Na6?! Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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