Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sharp Slav Opens the Gates

You have to choose. Do you take the "free" gambit pawn? Do you develop first? In the Queen Pawn 1.d4 d5 opening White meets Slav Defence with the sharp 3.Nc3!? Black grabs the c4 pawn and pushes ...b5. Now White must deal with a ...b4 threat.

Ray Haines sent a recent game vs Nathan Gates. Ray Haines wrote:

"I got a good position in the opening, but made a mistake. I wanted to support my pawns on the queenside with my queen and push the queen side pawns. I did not wish to move the queen and leave the bishop pinned. I did not study the whole board the way I should have. I missed the fact that after he threatened my knight he could take my queen knight pawn with his knight. The game was still even, but it hindered my plans."

"He got some strong pawns on the queenside which he pushed forward and the computer gives him the better game. I do not know if I agree with this though, because I could get my king over to the queenside and stop the pawns."

Gates - Haines, Houlton, ME (1), 19.09.2015 begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.e4 b5 [4...e5!?] 5.a3 [5.a4 b4 6.Na2 Nf6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Bxc4 e6 9.Nf3=] 5...Nf6 6.g3 e6 [6...e5-/+] 7.Bg2 Bb7 8.Bg5 Be7 [8...h6=/+] 9.Nge2 [9.e5=] 9...0-0 [9...Nxe4! 10.Bxe7 Nxc3 11.Bxd8 Nxd1 12.Rxd1 Kxd8-/+] 10.Qc2 [10.e5 Nd5 11.Bxe7 Qxe7=/+] 10...h6 [10...c5!-/+] 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.e5 Be7 13.Nxb5 Qb6 [13...Nd7=/+] 14.Nbc3 Na6 15.0-0 Rad8 16.Qa4 c5 17.Bxb7 Qxb7 18.Qxc4 cxd4 19.Nxd4 Rc8 20.Qb5 Nc5 21.Qxb7 Nxb7 22.Rac1 Nc5 23.Rfd1 Rfd8 24.Rc2? [24.Ncb5!+/-] 24...Nd7 [24...Nb3-+] 25.Nf3 Nb6 26.Rdc1 g5 27.Kg2 [27.h3+/-] 27...g4 28.Ne1 Bg5 29.Rd1 Rxd1 30.Nxd1 Rxc2 31.Nxc2 Nc4 32.b4 Nxe5 33.b5 Kf8 34.Nce3 h5 35.a4 Ke8 36.Nc3 Bxe3 37.fxe3 Kd7 38.e4? [38.h4=] 38...Kc7 39.Na2 [39.h4 Kb6=/+] 39...Kb6 40.Nb4 Nc4 41.Nc6 Nd6 42.Nd8 Nxe4 43.Nxf7 Ka5 44.Kf1 Kxa4 45.b6 axb6 46.Ke2 b5 47.Ne5 b4 48.Kd3 Nd6 49.Kc2 b3+ [49...Ka3-+] 50.Kb2 Ne4 51.Nd3 Nd2 52.Nc5+ Kb4 53.Nxe6 Nc4+ 54.Kb1 Kc3 55.Nf4 Nd2+ 56.Kc1 b2+ 57.Kd1 b1Q+ 58.Ke2 Qf1+ 59.Ke3 Qf3#  0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Monday, September 28, 2015

Can You Keep the e4 Pawn?

Can you take it? Can you keep it? Black's pawn sits on e4 in the middle of the board. What can you do in the Blackmar-Diemer when Black declines the gambit?

The answer is first take on e4. Then protect it if necessary. Protecting e4 with the queen may be the best move. Most popular (50%) is 6.Bd3. In theory Black is slightly better but in practice White has scored very well.

The BDG Weinspach (4.f3 e6) game between E. Danieli and A. Karason saw White play 6.Qd3!? Analysis shows White got a good position. However Black was higher rated and won.

Blackmar-Diemer 1 covers the gambit accepted after 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 (pictured below).
Blackmar-Diemer 2 covers major declined and avoided lines where either player varies earlier (pictured below).
These are pictured after the game below the board.

Danieli (2041) - Karason (2324), 7th Capo d Orso Open 2015 Porto Mannu Palau ITA (6.10), 10.06.2015 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 e6 5.fxe4 Bb4 6.Qd3 c5 7.Nf3!? [Komodo, Stockfish and Houdini all evaluate this position as equal after 7.a3! Qa5 8.Bd2 cxd4 9.Qxd4 Nc6 10.Qe3 (10.Qc4!?=) 10...0-0 11.0-0-0 Bxa3 12.bxa3 Qxa3+ 13.Kb1 Qb4+ 14.Ka2 Qa5+ with a perpetual check draw.] 7...Nc6 [7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 0-0 9.Bd2 e5 10.Nf3 Nc6 11.Qxd8 Rxd8 12.Bd3=] 8.dxc5 [8.a3!?] 8...0-0 9.Qxd8 [9.Be3!?; 9.Bd2!?] 9...Rxd8 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Bd3 Bxc5 13.0-0-0 b6 14.Ne2 Bb7 15.Ng3 Kf8 16.c3 Rac8 17.Be2 Ke7 18.Rxd8 Rxd8 19.Rd1 Rg8 20.Nd4 Rg5 21.Bf3 Ne5 22.Bh5 [22.Be2!?] 22...Bd6 [22...Bxe4 23.Nxe4 Rxh5-/+] 23.Be2 Bb8 [23...Ng4-+] 24.Rf1 [Better is 24.Nf3 Rg8=/+] 24...Ng4 25.Nf3 Nxh2 26.Nxg5 [From this point on, Black has path to victory and White has no good choices. If 26.Nxh2 Bxg3-+] 26...Nxf1 27.Nxf1 hxg5 28.Bd3 Kd6 29.Kd2 Ke5 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Catalan Opening Good Moves

Let's say you play a good opening. Your opponent equalizes. Now what? Keep making good moves. My Catalan morphed into a Queen's Indian Defence vs Moryak. White's prized piece in the Catalan Opening is the light squared Bg2. Good moves kept my White light squared bishop more active with better open lines than Black's light squared bishop. This I learned from books by Boris Avrukh.

Black defended well. After 31 moves we had a long bishop ending with time scramble mistakes. After 51 moves Black had two connected passed pawns but was losing. White won the race to queen a pawn. In the end Black forfeited on time in a lost pawn ending.

Sawyer (2199) - Moryak (2073), ICC 5 0 u Internet Chess Club, 22.05.2010 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 b6 [6...dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bg5 Bd5 11.Qd3=] 7.Nc3 [7.cxd5 exd5 8.Nc3 Bb7 9.Bf4+/=] 7...Bb7 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.b3 c5 10.Bb2 cxd4 11.Qxd4 Nxe5 12.Qxe5 Nd7 13.Qh5 Bf6?! [13...Nf6=] 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Na4? [15.Rfd1+/-] 15...Bxb2 16.Nxb2 Nf6 17.Qf5 Rc8 18.Rac1 Qe7 19.e3 Qe6 20.Qxe6 fxe6 21.Rfd1 Rfd8 22.Nd3 Nd7 23.Nf4 Kf7 24.Bh3 Nf8 25.Nd3 Kf6 26.f4 Nd7 27.Kf2 Nc5 28.Nxc5 Rxc5 29.b4 Rxc1 30.Rxc1 Rc8 31.Rxc8 Bxc8 32.Ke2 Ba6+ 33.Kd2 Bc4 34.a3 e5 35.Bc8 d4 36.exd4 exd4 37.a4 h6 38.h4 Ke7 39.Bf5 Kf6 40.Bd3 Bb3 41.a5 Ke6 42.axb6 axb6 43.Bc2? [43.Bh7 Kf6 44.Kd3 g6 45.h5 gxh5 46.Kxd4 Be6 47.Be4+/=] 43...Bc4? [43...Bxc2 44.Kxc2 h5-+] 44.g4 Kd5 45.g5 hxg5 46.hxg5 [46.fxg5!+/-] 46...Ke6 47.Be4 Bb5 48.Bg6 Bc4 49.Bh7 b5? [49...Kd6=] 50.Bd3? [50.Bg8+!+- reaches the game continuation by force.] 50...Kf7? [50...Bxd3 51.Kxd3 Kf5 52.Kxd4 Kxf4 53.Kc5 Kxg5 54.Kxb5=] 51.Bxc4+ bxc4 52.f5! Ke7 53.b5 Kd6 54.f6 [time] 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bauer Wins with Queen's Knight

Discover how to win with the Queen's Knight Attack from a grandmaster. Christian Bauer of France played 1.Nc3 to win a nice game vs FM Antoine Favarel.

Queen's Knight 1.Nc3 allows White to focus on playing skills rather than memory. You do better by training in tactics, strategy and endgames than by memorizing opening theory. Why? Because Black will deviate from your preparation and can equalize anyway.

Favarel answered 1.Nc3 with 1...d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nxe4 Nd7. This arrangement of knights reminds us of the French Defence Rubinstein 4...Nd7 and the Caro-Kann Karpov 4...Nd7 lines. Bauer played 5.Qe2 which worked well. The obvious alternative is 5.d4=.

White played 1.Nc3 with the intention to avoid main lines. Bauer redeploys his pieces with an eye toward d7. White attacks in the center and on the queenside.

Bauer (2624) - Favarel (2374), TCh-FRA Top 12 2015 Montpellier FRA (10.3), 08.06.2015 begins 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nxe4 Nd7 4.Bc4 e6 5.Qe2 [5.d4=] 5...Ngf6 6.Ng5 Nb6 7.Bb3 h6 8.N5f3 a5 9.a3 a4 10.Ba2 g6 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Ngf3 0-0 13.d4 Nbd7 14.0-0 Qe8 15.Rd1 b6 16.Bc4 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Nd5 18.Bb5 c6 19.Bd3 Ra7 20.h4 Ne7 21.Be3 c5 22.Bb5 Bd7 23.Rxd7 Rxd7 24.Bxa4 Rd2 25.Qc4 [Also good is 25.Qxd2 Qxa4 26.b3+- when White is up an a-pawn and threatening the h6-pawn.] 25...Rd7 26.Qb5 Rd8 27.Qb3 [27.Qc4+-] 27...Nc6 [The best shot is 27...c4! 28.Qxc4 Rc8 29.Qb3 Qd8 30.Bxb6+/- when White has three pawns for the Exchange.] 28.Qxb6 Rc8 29.Rd1 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Big MacCutcheon Brummer

How do you evaluate the Big Mac in chess? The French Defence MacCutcheon comes right back at you. If White can pin a knight with a bishop (4.Bg5), so can Black (4...Bb4)!

In 1962 Bobby Fischer took on Tigran Petrosian. It started as a flashy Fischer against a passive Petrosian. But Black was a tiger after 5.e5 h6. With cat like moves he dodged Bobby's bishop and clawed his way back. Fischer's five bishop moves in a row 6.Bd2, 7.Bxc3, 8.Ba5, 9.Bd3 and 10.Bc3 ended when Tigran chopped off one with 10...Nxc3. This game is in How To Beat Bobby Fischer by Edmar Mednis.

This candidate's tournament determined the challenger to Botvinnik. Spoiler alert: Petrosian became the next world champion! Fischer's time was not 1962 but 1972 vs man who eventually beat Petrosian: Boris Spassky.

Big MacCutcheon is more easily handled by David Brummer vs Viktors Pupols. In 1975 Brummer chose the French Defence MacCutcheon Exchange with 5.exd5. In recent years this theoretical idea has been recommended in books by Dzindzichashvili and Lakdawala. Below a natural knight move (16...Nd5) fails to a bold rook sacrifice (17.Rxb7+)!

Brummer - Pupols, Arizona 1975 begins 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.exd5 [5.e5 h6=] 5...Qxd5 6.Bxf6 [6.Nf3 Houdini] 6...gxf6 [6...Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 gxf6 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Qf4= Stockfish] 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.Qd2 Qa5 [8...Bxc3!? 9.Nxc3 Qxd4 10.Qxd4 Nxd4 11.0-0-0 c5 12.Ne4=] 9.g3 Bd7 10.Bg2 0-0-0 11.0-0 Qg5 [11...h5=] 12.Qd3 Qg6 13.Qc4 Be7 14.b4 Kb8 15.Ne4 Nxb4 16.Rfb1 Nd5? [16...Bc6 17.N2c3 Bd5=] 17.Rxb7+ Kxb7 18.Rb1+?! [18.Nf4! Nxf4 19.Nd6+ and mate in two.] 18...Ka8 19.Nf4 Nxf4? 20.Qxc7 Rb8 21.Nd6+ Nxg2 22.Rb7 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, September 18, 2015

Have You Tried Lemberger 5.Nxd4!?

When you develop a new skill, success is fun! If you fail, you search for a new approach. You improve! I played a lot of Blackmar-Diemer Gambit games from 1989-1999. They were some of my best. As a tournament rated expert I expanded my expertise.

I entered thematic BDG events. I wrote articles and books. I entered discussion groups. I won. I lost. I was praised and criticized. Computer chess engines were not so strong in those days. I found better lines by scientific trial and error. At times I won the opening in theory but not the game in practice.

Jay Morin tested the BDG Lemberger line 4.Nge2 exd4 5.Nxd4. The main line is 5.Qxd4 Qxd4 6.Nxd4. There Black struggles to keep the gambit pawn without queens on the board. In our game Black stood a little better at first. But I went pawn grabbing on move 20 instead of defending my king. Big mistake. Jay Morin made me pay.

Morin - Sawyer, corr BDG thematic (1) 1997 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nge2 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 [5...Nf6=/+] 6.Bc4 [6.Bf4=] 6...Nf6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bf4 Bxc3 9.bxc3 Qe7 10.Nb5 Rd8 11.Qe2 Na6 12.f3 Be6 13.Bxe6 Qxe6 14.Rae1 Qb6+ 15.Be3 exf3 16.Rxf3 c5 17.c4 Re8 18.Qf2 [18.Ref1 Rad8=/+] 18...Ne4 [18...Nb4-/+] 19.Qh4 Qe6 20.Bc1 Qxc4? [20...Qg6=/+] 21.Rh3 Kf8 22.Qxh7 Nf6 23.Qh8+ Ng8 24.Rf1 Qxb5 25.Rh7 Ke7 26.Qxg7 Kd8 27.Rd1+ Kc8 28.Qxf7 c4 29.Rd4 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Queen's Indian Defence Style

Is your chess style consistent? How similar is your style as White compared to Black? My friend David Parsons loved to attack. He played White in Italian Game Evans Gambit 4.b4!? and Petroff Defence Cochrane Gambit 4.Nxf7!?

Parsons played Black main lines such as Nimzo-Indian and Queen's Indian Defence as well as the French Defence. Of course he surprised me on occasion with something different like a Ruy Lopez Schliemann Gambit. In every game he attacked!

Here White wins a piece and then the Exchange leaving him up a rook. But an attacker is never completely out of the game. Dave Parsons kept his attention on my king. He broke open the kingside and made serious threats. I stopped the mate but I gave him a chance for a perpetual check. Alas Black missed the key moment. Then my attack took over.

Sawyer (2011) - Parsons (1721), Williamsport, PA 1995 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 d5 [5...Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Nc3=] 6.Qc2 [6.cxd5 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 exd5 9.Nc3 0-0 10.0-0 Re8=] 6...dxc4 7.Qxc4 Bd5 8.Qc2 Ne4 [8...Nc6!=] 9.Nc3 Bb4 10.0-0 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bd6 12.c4 Bb7 13.Rd1 Nd7 14.a4 0-0? [Black missed White's threatened double attack on h7 and b7. 14...Nf6 15.Bg5+/=] 15.Ng5! g6 16.Bxb7 Rb8 17.Bc6 Be7 18.Nf3 Nf6 19.Bh6 Qd6 20.Bxf8 Rxf8 21.Be4 Ng4 22.h3 Nh6 [If 22...Ne3 23.fxe3 Qxg3+ 24.Kf1 f5 25.Bc6 f4 26.exf4 Rxf4 27.e3 Rxf3+ 28.Bxf3 Qxf3+ 29.Qf2+-] 23.c5 Qd8 24.cxb6 axb6 25.d5 f5 26.dxe6 Bd6 27.Bc6 g5 28.Nd4 g4 29.h4 f4 30.Nb5 fxg3 31.Nxd6? [31.fxg3!+- and Black is busted.] 31...gxf2+ [Black can draw after 31...Qxh4! 32.fxg3 Qxg3+ 33.Bg2 Qf2+ 34.Kh1 Qh4+ 35.Kg1=] 32.Kg2 Qxh4 33.Rh1 Qg5 34.Nf7 1-0

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