Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ferguson Attacks BDG 4...Nc6

I have not written much on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Lamb 4…Nc6 in recent years. Those of us that have played the BDG many times know that Black often chose this. When White plays the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit move 4.f3 may take Black by surprise. He notices that if he takes on f3, White simply recaptures. The move 4…Nc6 is rarely the result of pregame preparation. It is more the inspiration of the moment. Black looks around for something. He sees that White’s d4 pawn is only protected and attacked by the opposing queens. So, Black threatens to win the pawn by the move 4…Nc6.

From time to time I played Brad Ferguson at the chess club that met at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I admire a player who keeps trying to learn the game by playing stronger opponents. I was the only player in that club rated over 2000. Even though I won all our 29 games, Brad kept learning.

In this game we both developed all our minor pieces by move nine. Ferguson attacked me with two of those by Nc6 and Bg4. The only thing he did not due was to castle. This left his king vulnerable. Black lost big material due to my checks on moves 16 and 18. Suddenly down a queen and a rook, Black resigned.

Sawyer - Ferguson, Williamsport, PA 1997 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Nc6 5.d5 Ne5 6.fxe4 Bg4 7.Nf3 e6 [7...Nxf3+ 8.gxf3+/= 1-0 (33) Sawyer,T-McElhenney,P/Williamsport, PA 1997] 8.Bb5+ Ned7 [8...c6 9.dxc6 Qxd1+ 10.Nxd1 bxc6 11.Be2=] 9.Bg5 Bb4 [9...Be7 10.Qd4 Bxf3 11.gxf3 e5 12.Qg1+/=] 10.e5 h6 11.exf6 hxg5 12.fxg7 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Rg8 14.0-0 [14.h3!+-] 14...Rxg7? [14...c6 15.dxc6 bxc6 16.Bxc6 Qb6+ 17.Qd4 Qxc6 18.Qxg4+/-] 15.Qd4 Qf6 16.Bxd7+ Kxd7 17.Qxf6 Rg6 18.Qxf7+ Kd6 19.Qxg6 1-0


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chess Opening Birds of a Feather

When I commit to an opening, I play it constantly. What if I meet a repeat opponent? Do I copy the moves from our previous chess game? Well, yes and no.

Yes, I copy my moves if I played a tactically sound win in our previous game. In fact, I have won some repeat games with the exact same moves against the same opponent.

No, I do not copy my moves if I made an opening mistake. No, I do not copy my moves if it is a strategical variation with equal chances and multiple choices. No, I do not copy my moves if I want to try out multiple variations of the same opening.

Here is a second Bird's Opening played against Art Keiser. The first time after the moves 1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.e3 Nf6, I continued 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3. I did not want twin Birds, so here I chose 4.b3 e6 5.Bb2. The position was equal. Black blundered on move 19. White won a piece and quickly mounted a successful attack.

Sawyer (2100) - Keiser (1856), corr APCT 1982 begins 1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.e3 Nf6 4.b3 e6 5.Bb2 Be7 6.d3 [6.Nc3=] 6...c5 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nbd2 [9.h3=] 9...b5 10.Ne5 [10.Qe1=] 10...Bxe2 11.Qxe2 a5 [11...Nxe5=] 12.Nc6 Qe8 13.Nxe7+ [13.a4+/=] 13...Qxe7 14.g4 Ne8 15.Nf3 f6 16.Rae1 Rb8 [16...b4=] 17.e4 d4 18.Bc1 Qf7 19.Qg2 f5? [19...Nc7 20.f5=] 20.Ng5! Qg6 21.exf5 exf5 22.Qd5+ Kh8 23.Qxd7 fxg4 24.f5 Qh5 25.Ne4 Nf6 26.Nxf6 Rxf6 27.Re7 g6 28.Re8+ Rxe8 29.Qxe8+ Kg7 30.Qe7+ Rf7 31.f6+ 1-0


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation

I drew vs the 2401 rated Protej after I won a pawn. Ruy Lopez Exchange lines are all roughly equal in theory. The players are not. When Magnus Carlsen played 5…Bd6 it did not mean the other lines he played were bad. It meant the champion found another way to pose problems for his opponents. Their problem was not Black’s fifth move choice but that Black was played by Carlsen!

When I sent my Chess Training Repertoire to my email list on the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation, I recommended 5.0-0 f6 6.d4 Bg4. Then I gave 7.c3 exd4. This seventh move was probably better than what I played. My choice in this three minute blitz game was to quickly develop the Black kingside with 7.c3 Bd6 8.Nbd2 Nh6!? 9.Nc4 Nf7. The fact that it worked in this game is no guarantee of future success.

The big advantage for me was that White blundered a pawn in this game. I was around to accept it, but I cannot take credit for causing this White mistake. Its pawn on e6 was too vulnerable. In a slow game vs a human, I would have played to win with a move like 24…g6! In time pressure vs a chess engine I headed toward a drawn position. I only had a few seconds left at the end.

Protej (2401) - Sawyer, ICC 3 0 u Internet Chess Club, 09.06.2016 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 f6 6.d4 Bg4 7.c3 Bd6 8.Nbd2 Nh6!? [8...Qe7=] 9.Nc4 Nf7 10.Ne3 [10.h3 Bh5!?=] 10...Be6 11.Qe2 Qd7 12.d5 cxd5 13.exd5 Bf5 [13...Bg4 14.Nxg4 Qxg4=] 14.Nxf5 Qxf5 15.Nd4 Qd7 16.Ne6 [16.c4 0-0 17.Ne6 Rfe8=] 16...Nd8 17.Qg4 [17.Nxd8 Rxd8 18.c4 0-0=] 17...Nxe6 18.dxe6 Qe7 19.Qc4 [19.f4 exf4 20.Bxf4 0-0-0=] 19...0-0 [19...0-0-0 20.f4 Rhe8 21.f5 Bc5+ 22.Kh1 g6=/+] 20.Rd1? [20.f4=] 20...Rfe8 21.Qe4 b6 22.g4 Qxe6 23.a4 a5 24.Be3 Qe7 [24...g6!-/+] 25.Rd5 Kh8 26.Rad1 Rad8 27.c4 Bb4 28.b3 h6 29.f3 Rxd5 30.Rxd5 Rd8 31.Kg2 Rxd5 32.Qxd5 Qd6 33.Qxd6 Bxd6 34.Kf1 g5 35.Ke2 Kg7 [35...Bc5=/+] 36.Kd3 Kf7 37.Ke4 [37.c5! Bxc5 38.Bxc5 bxc5 39.Kc4 Ke6 40.Kxc5 f5 41.gxf5+ Kxf5 42.b4 axb4 43.Kxb4 Ke6=] 37...Ke6 38.Bc1 Bc5 39.Bb2 c6 40.Ba1 Bf2 41.h3 Bc5 42.Bc3 Bd6 43.Bb2 Bc5 44.Bc3 Bd6 45.Bb2 Bc5 46.Bc3 Bd6 Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2


You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Monday, June 27, 2016

Semi-Slav Meran vs Feranandez

The popularity of the Semi-Slav Meran Variation goes back to the 1920s and 1930s. Rabinovich, Euwe, Pirc, Thomas, and Kashdan played it often as Black. I tried it against an APCT opponent whom I assume is the same Eduardo B. Fernandez. He is listed in USCF with a tournament rating of 2079 from Florida. Apparently Eduardo Fernandez has not been active for 30 years.

In 2004 Larry Kaufman promoted the Semi-Slav and the Meran in his book “The Chess Advantage in Black and White”. The line he recommended was 8…Bd6. Probably I chose 8…b4 based on a game I found in Chess Informant. I know Sveshnikov played it.

The Caro-Kann Defence was my favorite opening in the 1970s. Many times I played 1.d4 c6, but rarely did White take the bait and play 2.e4. If White wanted a Caro-Kann, he would play 1.e4. I am sure we both thought about castling early. But that just did not happen. This is the only time in my 50,000 games that both players castled on move 23.

White agreed to a draw when he had an extra pawn. But it would be difficult to win this rook and pawn ending. Since each players had to pay for each move they played, most of us tended not to drag out the game. By now we probably knew that we were out of the running for the APCT championship.

Fernandez (2016) - Sawyer (1900), corr APCT 77RF-6, 1978 begins 1.d4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 b4!? [8...Bd6 9.0-0 0-0=] 9.Ne4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Bb7 11.Qa4!? [11.0-0 Bd6 12.a3 bxa3=] 11...Qb6 12.Nd2 Rc8 [12...a5 13.Nc4 Qc7 14.0-0 Be7=] 13.a3 bxa3 14.Nc4 Qa6 15.Qb3 Qb5 16.Qxb5 cxb5 17.Bxb7 Rxc4 18.bxa3 b4 [18...Ra4=] 19.axb4 Bxb4+ 20.Bd2 a5 21.Bxb4 Rxb4 22.Bf3 a4 23.0-0 0-0 24.Bc6 Nb6 25.Rfb1 Rb3 26.Rxb3 axb3 27.Rb1 Rc8 28.Bb5 g6 [28...Rc3 29.Kf1+/=] 29.Kf1 Nc4 30.Ke2 Na3 31.Rxb3 Nxb5 32.Rxb5 Rc2+ 33.Kf3 h5 34.h3 Rd2 35.g4 hxg4+ 36.hxg4 f6 37.Rb7 Kf8 38.g5 fxg5 39.Kg4 Rxf2 40.Kxg5 Rf5+ 41.Kxg6 Rf3 1/2-1/2


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Herrstrom Gambit by Zilbermints

Lev Zilbermints sent me a 1.Nf3 g5 game against Stephen Hrop. All comments, opinions and analysis are those of Lev Zilbermints.

"CHESS NEWS: On Tuesday, 21 June 2016, I won with the Herrstrom Gambit against Stephen Hrop at West Orange Chess Club. FYI, Hrop is known to avoid gambits, playing 1 c4, and then 2 g3, Bg2. Thus, the Herrstrom is an excellent choice against a 2117 player who chickens out of gambits...."

"Hrop told WOCC President John Hagerty that he was forfeiting the second game, to be played on 28 June, to me. Well, his problem. I would have preferred to play it out, but since Hrop wants to forfeit instead of playing, I will take the forfeit win."

Hrop (2117) - Zilbermints, West Orange, NJ G/100, 21.06.2016 begins 1.Nf3 g5 2.Nxg5 e5 3.d3 h6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Bd2 Be6 9.g3 Qd7 10.Bg2 0-0-0 11.a3 Be7 [Better is 11...Rg8 followed by 12...f6, controlling the g5-square.] 12.Qe2 Bf6 13.Nxd5 Bxd5 14.0-0 [14.h4 Be6 15.Bg5 Bg4 16.Qd2 Nd4 17.Nxd4 Bf5 18.Be4 Bxe4 19.f4 Qa4 20.dxe4 c6 21.Qa5 Kb8] 14...h5 15.h4 [At the point my opponent has 48 minutes left on the clock.] 15...Be6 16.Bg5 [42 minutes left] 16...Qe7 [72 minutes left for Black] 17.Bxf6 [38 minutes] 17...Qxf6 18.Ng5 [This is why 12...f6 would have been good.] 18...Bg4 19.Qd2 [33 minutes] 19...Nd4 20.Rae1 Rhe8 [So what have we here? An unfamiliar position for a player who loves solid, positional garbage and avoids gambits. Moreover, it is an open position, something Hrop is not good at. He tends to use up a lot of time thinking, and there is still some play left for Black. Psychologically, White is at a disadvantage!] 21.Re3 Nf5 22.Re4 Nd4 23.Ree1 Qg6 [Despite being a pawn down, I maintain some pressure in the center and on the Kingside. Is it enough? You decide. Me, I think so, given the other advantages.] 24.c3?? [Hrop is trying to chase my well-placed Knight away. In so doing, he fatally weakens the d3-pawn, which now becomes a juicy target for my heavy and light pieces.] 24...Nb3!! [I had to check out some lines in order to ensure Hrop did not have the much-despised cheap shots.] 25.Qc2 Nc5 26.Re3 Bf5 27.Ne4 Bxe4 28.Bxe4? [Taking with the pawn 28.dxe4 was better, but psychologically undesirable. The Bg2 would have been shut in, hence the text move.] 28...f5! [Infantry now moves in against Hrop's defenses.] 29.Bg2 f4 30.Rf3?? [A blunder which allows me to trap the Exchange and win the game.] 30...Nxd3! 31.Qa4 e4!! [Now it is over.] 32.Rxd3 Rxd3 33.Qxa7 [Last attempt at cheap shots. No, you don't!!] 33...c6 34.Bh3+ Kc7 35.Qa5+ [10 minutes left for Hrop] 35...Kb8 36.Qg5 Qxg5 37.hxg5 fxg3 [Black infantry pierces White defenses.] 38.fxg3 [7 minutes 53 seconds left] 38...Rxg3+ 39.Kh2 Rxg5 [The g5-square is under my control. Hrop's surrender is inevitable.] 40.Re1 e3 Resigns 0-1 [Notes by Lev Zilbermints]


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Jones Wins Easy King's Indian

Craig W. Jones is one of the few players that I have faced live over the board and in postal chess. In 1981 we met in the third round of a tournament in Levittown, PA just north of Philadelphia. Jones became a master with a USCF rating as high as 2412 at one point. It might have been higher than that, but the online listing only goes back to 1991.

This was a Saturday night game. I was about to change jobs. On Monday morning I would go from retail to the corporate business world. They were good preparation for my later careers in church ministry and in prison.

This game features in the King's Indian Defence. My opponent chose baited me with 4.e4 0-0. I am sure he hoped I would play 5.e5 Ne8 when he could counter attack as Bobby Fischer had. I continued 5.Be2. After 5…d6 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5, we were in a normal main line after 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nbd7. Note that Jones did not play 7…Nc6. He specialized in 7…Nbd7.

His play in this game illustrates just how good that can be. This line is a very logical, systematic and thematic approach. It is one reason why attackers love the King’s Indian. After the game, Craig spent time to encourage me and explain how it happened.

Sawyer - Jones (2100), Levittown, PA (3), 16.05.1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.d5 [8.Be3] 8...Nc5 9.Qc2 a5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Be3 Nfd7 [11...b6 12.Nd2 Ng4 13.Bxg4 Bxg4 14.a3=] 12.Nd2 f5 13.f3 [13.exf5 gxf5 14.f3+/=] 13...f4 14.Bf2 g5 15.b3 Nf6 16.a3 g4 17.b4 g3 18.hxg3 fxg3 19.Bxg3 Nh5 20.Bf2 Qg5? [20...Na6 21.b5+/=] 21.bxc5 Nf4 [If 21...Bh3 22.g4+-] 22.g4?! [Here I missed my chance. 22.g3!+- appears to be winning as White keeps his extra knight.] 22...h5 23.Bg3 hxg4 24.Bxf4? [White returns the favor. Better is 24.Kf2 Nh3+ 25.Kg2= and Black could repeat moves.] 24...exf4 25.fxg4 Bd4+ 26.Rf2 Qh4 27.Raf1? [27.Nd1 Qg3+ 28.Kf1 Qh3+ (28...Bxa1 29.cxd6 cxd6 30.Rg2 actually gives White some hope of survival.) 29.Ke1 Bxa1 30.cxd6 cxd6 31.e5 Bxe5 32.Nf3 Qh7-/+] 27...Qg3+ 28.Kh1 Bxf2 29.Qd3 Be3 30.Nf3 Rf7 31.e5 Rh7+ 0-1


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Caro-Kann Defence Early 2.Nf3

If you play the Caro-Kann Defence at the club level, there are natural lines that you will see very often. One is 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3. This can easily transpose to the Exchange Variation after 2...d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4. What is the difference between this move order and the normal move order 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Nf3?

True, they reach the same position, but White had better options instead of 4.Nf3 in the second line. White could attack the d5 pawn with 4.c4. White could also hinder the development of the Black bishop with 4.Bd3. Via the move order 2.Nf3, the move 4.Nf3 does neither. Black is left to attack d4 with 4...Nc6 and pin the Nf3 with 5...Bg4.

At the Williamsport chess club at Lycoming College Mike Dest and I played an unrated offhand game. I do not remember if we used a clock or not. It probably was not a blitz game. Most of our games were slow enough so that I could write down the moves. That would be Game 30 or without a clock at all.

Black was allowed to freely attack in this variation. He picked off one White pawn after another as pieces were exchanged. The players entered a double rook and pawn endgame. The White king was flushed out of the pocket like a quarterback. Within a few moves the king was sacked in the center of the board and checkmated on e5 by a pawn.

Dest - Sawyer, Williamsport, PA 1997 begins 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Bg4 6.Be2 e6 7.Bg5 [7.h3=] 7...Qb6 [7...Be7=] 8.b3 [8.0-0=] 8...Bxf3 [8...Bb4!-+] 9.Bxf3 Qxd4 10.Qxd4 Nxd4 11.0-0 Nxf3+ 12.gxf3 a6 [12...Rc8!-+] 13.Rfe1 Be7 14.Bf4 [14.Bxe7 Nxe7-/+] 14...Rc8 15.Na4 Rxc2 [15...b5!-+] 16.Be5? Bf6 17.Bxf6 Nxf6 18.Nb6 Nd7 [18...Rc6!-+] 19.Nxd7 Kxd7 20.Re5 Rhc8 21.Ree1 Rb2 22.Kg2 Rcc2 23.a4 Rxf2+ 24.Kg3 Rg2+ 25.Kf4 Rxb3 26.Rg1 g5+ 27.Ke5 Ke7 28.Rab1 Re2+ 29.Kd4 Rd2+ 30.Ke5 f6# 0-1


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