When facing the city champ who I knew favored the Sicilian Defence and particularly the variation 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 that was shown in an earlier column, I decided to play it again in an exhibition game at school where my opponent gleamed with confidence.
White: Don Reithel vs. Student Anon Opening: Sicilian Defence
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Be2
This idea I got from the games of the 1924 New York Tournament which were annotated by Alexander Alekhine. Like what often happens with youngsters who see moves not seen before, he jumped to the chance to hurry and shot out ….Nc6 and then went to the hall and joyfully exclaimed a good position to his buddies. They all came back to look at the board.
3. … Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Nc3
I was greatly tempted to play what I had earlier 6. Bf3 allowing my c-pawn to remain a potential threat. But I was interested in seeing how he would play this known position.
6. …d6 7. O-O Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. f4 a6 10. Kh1 Qc7 11. Qe1 Bd7 12. Qg3 b5 13. a3
Purely defensive in line with square count to keep an eye on b4 and discourage any thought of a future b4 by Black. Note that White enjoys a sqct. of 15/5 which suggests planning action to open lines.
13. … Rfd8 14. Rad1 Nxd4 15. Bxd4 Ne8
This kid knows what he is doing. I had to give weight to this repositioning to strengthen the K-side. I spent a few minutes calculating and decided to expand on the K-side with hope of opening some lines using pawn exchanges. The advance of the e-pawn did not appear as promising.
16. f5 Bf8 17. f6 e5 18. fxg7 Bxg7 19. Rxf7! Kxf7 20. Rf1+ Resigns.
In the final assault, it all fell into place. Black cannot save it. 20. … Kg8 21. Nd5 Qxc2 22. Ne7+ Kh8 23. Rf8+ Bxf8 24. Qg8 checkmate. If he tries to use his Knight to block the f-file, extending the final curtain, then 21. Rxf6+ still wins because the mating net still exists.
For the student, to learn the nuts and bolts of chessplay, I have always advocated meeting 1. e4 with e5. By applying my strategem of plans laid out from move 1, with outcomes whether in victory or defeat, it is about as good a way to build skill. Just a word about this battle; my youthful opponent had the idea that because I varied from what he was used to meeting in the Sicilian Defence, namely 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 there was false hope of a quick initiative and win for himself perhaps. Also, the whole line of defence strategy was seemingly bookish as a pattern. His ideas seemed good on the surface and I will not dispute that but he entered the middlegame lacking a clear plan of action which gave me that advantage of knowing my previous moves and their purpose. Chessmasters rarely just stumble into a winning combination.
Somewhere in my chess adventures I may have got a similar position opportunity as happens so playing and studying chess games whenever you come across them is a proven way to learn patterns for various types of attack as well as defence. Some good literature for this is Winning Chess by Fred Reinfeld and the book on tactical and combinative play by Polgar.