Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Latvian Gambit Jim Marfia Story

The Latvian Gambit fills the heart of chess players with excitement and anticipation, or fear and dread. In November 1985 a book was released entitled The Latvian Gambit: Encyclopedic Games Collection by Kon Grivainis, a noted chess master.

I entered a postal chess section for that winter. There was snow on the ground when I ordered a copy of the book. Boldly I sent off my second move 2...f5!? to Jim Marfia. He was a long time 1.e4 player, but this time I was going to surprise him for sure!

The book arrived. Beautiful. I opened it up. Published by Thinkers' Press. Edited by Robert B. Long. Translated by Jim Marfia. What? Are you kidding me? I got surprised!

We played a sharp variation. Both threatened to win, but we missed our best shots. Then we repeated moves. Some time later James Marfia told me that all he translated were the words at the beginning of the book, like the Forward. All moves were in algebraic notation and needed no translation. Jim Marfia may be most famous for his translation of the David Bronstein classic on the Zurich 1953 tournament.

[My Philidor 2.Nf3 Playbook includes the Latvian Gambit]

Chess Training Repertoire this Thursday covers the Latvian Gambit 2...f5. Sign up to receive weekly repertoire updates by email.

Marfia - Sawyer, corr APCT 1986 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe5 Qf6 4.Nc4 fxe4 5.Nc3 Qf7 6.d4 Bb4 [6...Nf6 7.Be2+/=] 7.Ne5 Qe6 8.Bd2 [8.Qh5+! g6 9.Nxg6 Nf6 10.Qh4 Rg8 11.Nf4+/-] 8...Bxc3 [8...Nf6 9.Nb5 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 Na6=] 9.bxc3 Nf6 10.Bc4 d5 11.Bb3 Nc6 12.Bf4 0-0 13.0-0 Kh8 [13...Na5=] 14.c4 Ne7 [14...Nxe5 15.dxe5 dxc4 16.exf6 Qxf6 17.Bxc7 cxb3 18.axb3+/=] 15.cxd5 Nexd5 16.Bg5 [16.f3 exf3 17.Qxf3+/-] 16...Qf5 17.Bxf6 [17.Qd2+/-] 17...gxf6 18.Bxd5 fxe5 19.Qe2 exd4 20.Bxe4 Qf6 21.Bd3 [21.Qd3+/=] 21...h6 [21...Bf5=] 22.Rab1 Rb8 23.f4 b6 24.Rf3 [24.Rbe1+/=] 24...c5 [24...Bg4=] 25.f5 Bb7 26.Rbf1? [26.Rg3 Rg8=] 26...Bxf3 [Black is winning after 26...Rbe8! 27.Qd1 Bxf3 28.Rxf3 Re3-+. Kevin Sheldrick noted that originally I made a recording error here with 26...Be4? 27.Qxe4. This has now been corrected.] 27.Qxf3 Rbe8 28.Qf4 Qg5 29.Qd6 Qf6 30.Qf4 Qg5 31.Qd6 1/2-1/2

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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  1. I can't understand 26...Be4 at all - it loses a bishop straight away :)! Any idea why you would do it? Maybe that move was recorded incorrectly?...

    1. Yes, thank you! I think it is a recording error. I must have taken his rook. Then everything makes sense. I will change this game to reflect that. It was published in a book (not mine) on the Latvian. Everything was done with pen and paper back then. My score books from 30 years ago are long gone. I appreciate the help!

    2. Update completed. Thanks Kevin!


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