Archive for February, 2009

Kindred’s Special: A Local Champ at the US Amateur Team

February 23, 2009

I get a lot of news visiting the Rochester Chess Center and my latest trek was no less a gem as Ron Lohrman proudly produced a copy of one of his youthful chess stars by the name of Matt Parry who it seems plays a colorful and sharp game of chess. I shall provide you, my reader, with the aesthetic beauty once again of amateur skills that never seem to find a home in the pages of our national magazine CHESS LIFE.  But first, let me provide an introduction of the opening and perhaps give you some insight into various ideas that might tempt a tactical player to explore and add to their repertoire of openings.

The opening is one of numerous systems of defense in meeting the white terror called The Ruy Lopez. The defense I examine is called the Moller variation 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5  a6  4.Ba4  Nf6 where Black plans to deploy his KB to c5 in answer to 5.O-O where the Bishop strikes the diagonal a7-g1 and points at the inherent weakness on the chessboard of f2. This idea can also occur in the Open Defense 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5  a6  4.Ba4  Nf6 5.O-O  Nxe4  6.d4  b5  7.Bb3  d5  8.dxe5  Be6  9.c3  Bc5!? the Dilworth variation, a dangerous attempt to throw White completely out  of his game plan. It leads to a sharp attack on f2 and kingside where any White miscue can lead to disaster very quickly. It can also emerge out of the Berlin Defense 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5  Nf6  4.O-O  Bc5, a favorite of one of the Chess Center’s top masters, I. Nikolayev.

           White:  James Critelli  (2348)    Black:  Matt Parry (2290)

                          Ruy Lopez                  Moller Defense

1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5  a6  4.Ba4  Nf6  5.Qe2

This move stops the Open Defense and I used it a few times mainly to get away from the normal opening lines. It gives Black less problems than does 5.O-O and either 6.Re1 or 6.Qe2, the latter called the Worrall Attack of unknown origin.

5… Bc5  6.c3  b5  7.Bb3

This, and 7.Bc2 are both played here but I prefer 7.Bc2 because it adds protection to the square e4 and on b3 it looks good and adds count in my square count theory but the theory also entails the guarding of key squares which is accomplished by Bc2 with jump moves like d3 and Nbd2 in the plan mix.

7… d6  8.O-O  O-O  9.Rd1

This Rook maneuver also occurs in the Worrall Attack line but I favor placing the Rook on e1 especially when planning on the limited pawn advance d3 instead of d4. Now, 9… Bg4  10.h3  Bh5 11.d3 is a possible try to defuse the value of the Bishop sortie.

9… Bb6  10.h3  Bb7  11.d3  Ne7

Too slow for the Ruy Lopez. More appropo is the natural looking 11…h6  12.Be3 Bxe3  13.Qxe3  Re8  14.Nbd2  d5  15.exd5  Nxd5  16.Bxd5 Qxd5  17.b4  f5=+. With the N now leaving the Queenside, I think it is time for 12.a4!

12.Nbd2  Ng6

True, this brings to the Kingside another piece for the attack, it seems to never really amount to much from this post.

13.Nf1  h6

Not bad but here Black misses a chance to use his Knights and get one of White’s Bishops traded, thus: 13…Nh5  14.Bg5  Ngf4  15.Qc2  Qe8  16.a4  h6  17.Bxf4  Nxf4. As the game goes, White having the Bishop pair makes things more difficult for Black.

14.g3?!

Personally this move looks dangerously weakening the King’s pawn wall defense. 14.Ng3  Re8  15.Be3  Bxe3  16.Qxe3 c5  might be a critical line for both players.  After 14.g3 Qd7 15.Kg2 a5  16.Be3 a4 17.Bc2  c5 looks plausible.

14… c5  15.Bc2  d5

Black has an 11/5 square count advantage which adds up to a spatial edge but the looseness of the position guarantees nothing more.

16.Ne3  Qc7  17.Nf5  c4

Oddly enough White might come out okay with 18.exd5 cxd3 19.Bxd3 e4 20.Bxe4 Rae8 21.d6  Qb8  22.Ne7+ Nxe7 23.dxe7 Rxe7 with unclear conditions.

18.Nd2  Rad8

A good tactical move bringing to bear more pieces on the central complex. After 18…cxd3  19.Bxd3  Qd7 20.g4  Qc7 21.Nb3  shows how complex the position is.

19.dxc4  dxe4 20.Re1  Qd7  21.c5!  Qxf5  22.cxb6  Qxh3  23.Nf1  e3! 24.f3  e4  25.f4  Nh5

There is no future here; besides Knights do not belong on the rim unless it is used as a springboard to a greater good. But it is hard to come up with a good plan here. Maybe 25…Ne7 26.Bxe3  Ned5 27.Bd4  Rfe8  28.a4  bxa4 29.Bxa4  Re6 30.Qh2  Qxh2 31.Kxh2 Nxb6

26.Qg2  Qe6  27.Bxe3  Nf6  28.Bc5

White again could play to clear up the Qwing with 28.a4

28…Rfe8  29.Ne3  Qc6  30.Bd4  Nd7  31.Nf5  Nf6  32.a4 b4  33.a5  Qc8  34.Ne3  Ng4  35.Ba4  Re7

Progress for either side is difficult to assess so I give the remaining moves to provide enjoyment of the actual moves played. Perhaps the time clock had a part as most games appear to experience toward the end. But some amazing positions occur and both players can be congratulated on producing such fighting spirited chess!

36.Rac1  Nxe3  37.Bxe3  Qc4  38.b3  Qe6  39.cxb4  Rd3  40.b5  axb5  41.Bxb5  Qxb3  42.Bc4  Qa3  43.Bxd3  exd3  44.Qd2  Qd6  45.Rc5  Nxf4  46.gxf4  Qg6+  47.Kh2  f5!  48.Rxf5  Qxf5  49.a6  Qh5+  50.Kg3  Qf3+ 51.Kh2  Re6!  52.axb7  Rg6!  53.b(Q)+ Kh7  54.Qc8!  Qg3+ 55.Kh1  Qh4+ 56.Qh2  Qxe1+  57.Qg1  Rxg1+ 58.Bxg1  Qe4+ 59.Kh2  d2  60.b7  d(Q)  61.b(Q)  Qe2+  62.Kg3  Qg2+  63.Kh4  Qe1+ 64.Kh5 g6#mate!!!

Interesting and bizzare feature in this game was the double b-file Queening of two pawns; four Queens on the board at the same time;a number of critical positions reached during play; both players showed cool although toward the end the bloodpressures must have risen for both the players and any onlookers.

Thanks guys for giving us such a stimulating and exciting match!

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KindredSpirit Kaleidoscope: Gufeld’s Immortal Game

February 17, 2009

Every chess player dreams of sitting down at the board that begins the battle that is long remembered for its fight and spirited play. The aesthetic beauty of chess might be compared to painting a picture where the artist is never certain but always hopeful of producing a gem, a personal Mona Lisa. So it is with chess where the board is the canvas and with each stroke of the brush begins the slow development of the imagination and creativity of the artist. In chess such artists often are Grandmasters.

Such a Grandmaster is the Ukrainian Eduard Gufeld (born 1936). Today, GM Gufeld lives in the United States and has been one of the top players who has contributed much to the development of the game on the American scene as has many former USSR stars who have immigrated to the United States.  He is known for his fighting chess and has produced many gems to be proud of, even if occasional such a result falls to his opponent. 

The 1973 USSR Championship held at Kirovabad, having the black pieces, the opening system builds on the famous Samisch Variation against the King’s Indian Defense. His opponent, Vladimir Bagirov, (born 1936), a Georgian, is one of many very strong players developed in the Soviet School of Chess methods that have produced a host of extremely strong players who have enriched the game.  Never quite the member of the elite who were given rights to travel and play abroad, he has since been very successful in European tournaments.

1.d4  g6  2.c4  Bg7  3.Nc3  d6  4.e4  Nf6  5.f3  O-O  6.Be3  Nc6

A popular method that exerts pressure on the d4 square and limits choices for White.

7.Nge2  Rb8  8.Qd2  a6  9.Bh6

At the time this game was played, this move was popular but 9.h4 has replaced it as one of the favorite methods at White’s disposal. This obvious plan to attack on the Kingside is now met with counter action on the Queenside or by 9…Bxh6  10.Qxh6 e5. Gelpke vs Lane 1986, Heidelberg went: 11.d5  Nd4  12.O-O-O  c5  13.dxc6e.p. bxc6 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.Rxd4 Rxb2 16.e5 Nh5 17.Kxb2 Qb6+ 18.Nb5 axb5 19.Rxd6 bxc4+ won by Black.

9…b5  10.h4  e5

Striking at the center to get clarification of its pawn structure. It makes sense since the fianchetto bishop will be exchanged.

11.Bxg7  Kxg7  12.h5  Kh8!

The idea behind this move is to free up the 7th rank for defense of the King by the Q by planning to recapture with the f-pawn clearing the line to h7.  On 13.Qh6 Ng8 > g5. Another idea 12…bxc4, John Watson gives 13.O-O-O Ng8 14.Kb1  a5  15.d5  Nb4  16.Nc1  Ba6 17.g3 Rb7 18.a3  c5 19.dxc6  Nxc6 20.h6+ Kh8 21.Qxd6 Qa8.

13.Nd5  bxc4  14.hxg6  fxg6 15.Qh6  Nh5  16.g4

White continues his attack plan but possible alternative ideas have been advanced by Petrosian and others for 16.Ng3 or 16.O-O-O. The unbalanced position after the 15th turn affords room to analyze.

16…Rxb2  17.gxh5  g5!

Using the pawn as here to block the file is a common tactic.

18. Rg1  g4!  19.O-O-O  Rxa2  20.Nef4?!

Best according to Gufeld was 20.Bh3!  Rxe2  21.Bxg4  Rf7 22.Bxc8 Qxc8 23.Nf6 and gives long analysis of various tries by Black that seem to all lead to drawing positions.

20…exf4  21.Nxf4?

Perhaps surrendering his last chance to try to draw by 21.Bxc4.

21…Rxf4!  22.Qxf4  c3!  23.Bc4

After 23.Qf7 Nb4  24.Bd3 Ra1+ 25.Bb1 Be6  26.Qxe6  Qg5+ forces mate.

23…Ra3!

“The most difficult move of the game and perhaps my whole life.”–Gufeld.  Now, if 24.Kb1  Be6! threatening …Qb8+ wins.

24.fxg4 Nb4  25.Kb1!

White is close to winning and the question is how does Black find a way to attack the White monarch?  The answer is a Gufeld brush stroke of the first order. Every move is a work of creative art. On the try 25..c2+ 26.Kb2  cxd1(Q) 27.Rxd1 with the threat of 28.Rf1.

25…Be6!!  26.Bxe6  Nd3!

After 26…Nd5 27.exd5 Qb8+ 28.Ke2 Qb2+ 29.Kd3  c2+ 30.Ke4 and it is Black who will be mated.

27.Qf7  Qb8+  28.Bb3  Rxb3+ 29.Kc2

A glance seems to suggest White surviving but Gufeld now puts the finishing touch on his masterpiece.

29…Nb4+!! 30.Kxb3  Nd5+

Discovered check eliminates the enemy Queen having access and control over the key squares c4, b3 and a2.

31.Kc2  Qb2+  32.Kd3  Qb5+(0-1) Pending 33.Kc2 Qe2+ 34.Kb3  Qb2+ 35.Kc4 Qb5# mate.

Kindred’s Special: Come! My Web Awaits You.

February 10, 2009

Zurich 1953 has long been recognized as one of the truly great events in chess history. The following battle coming out of the Nimzo-Indian Defense features Efim Geller (white) knocking at the door of the 1935-7 World Champion Dr. Max Euwe who cleverly weaves a web, drawing the young attacking Soviet player to attack and sets up a sharp counterattack.

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  e6  3.Nc3  Bb4  4.e3  c5  5.a3  Bxc3+ 6.bxc3  b6

Euwe avoids O-O wanting to exert Bishop pressure on the white squares and concentrates on developing his Q-side forces.

7.Bd3  Bb7  8.f3  Nc6  9.Ne2  O-O  10.O-O  Na5  11.e4  Ne8!

This move, introduced by Capablanca, avoids the very real strong threat of 12.Bg5, keeps a solid pawn defense on the K-side, and this backward move sets up a jump to d6 with added pressure on White’s c4; finally, it allows for a potential counterstrike at the center by a timely …f7-f5 which directly could meet 12.f4.

12.Ng3  cxd4  13.cxd4  Rc8

One might take this to be a square count selection using my theory.

14.f4  Nxc4  15.f5

The Rubinstein variation 5.e3 has evolved into the Samisch which is a delayed pawn gambit requiring of White to press for an all out attack on the King position using the central complex e/f files.

15…f6  16.Rf4

In the 1956 USSR Championship, the game Polgaevsky vs Averbakh decided upon a less direct approach playing 16.a4 e5, 17.Bxc4+ Rxc4 18.dxe5 fxe5 19.Qb3 giving White some initiative edge for the gambited pawn.

16…b5!

A cleverly disguised stroke on the Q-wing seemingly ignoring Geller’s Kingside action but the main point is to enable the Queen to sally to b6 where it will slow the deployment of White’s forces. This is a great example of proactive defense –frustrating the attack while furthering his own plan for an active counterattack. Now, either 17.Rh4 or 17.Qh5 is met by the same reply.

17.Rh4  Qb6  18.e5  Nxe5  19.fxe6  Nxd3  20.Qxd3  Qxe6

Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly!

21.Qxh7+ Kf7  22.Bh6  Rh8 

This zeal toward brilliance entices Euwe and who can blame him. David Bronstein suggests a more accurate play would have been 22…Rc4 giving Rh8 more potency.

23.Qxh8  Rc2  24.Rc1?

This blunder is probably the cause of timepressure. White can still put up resistence and try rescue some chances by 24.d5  Bxd5 25.Rd1 trying to find some resources by getting his forces into action in hope of salvaging dignity.

24…Rxg2+  25.Kf1  Qb3  26. Ke1  Qf3  (0-1).

This game is a good study for a number of reasons.

  1. 1. Opening systems frequently can be reached by different pathways. Black’s energetic play with pieces prior to castling enabled him to get his Q-side activity underway. White’s switch from the Rubinstein variation to the Samisch which initiates a delayed gambit for freedom of action and a strong pawn center requires alert attention by both sides.
  2. Perhaps a reason for weakness in the attack is the attempt to attack before bringing the QR into the action.
  3. A suggestion by Botvinnik at move 17.Bxc4 Rxc4 18.Rh4 Qc7 19.Be3  Rc2 he wagers as being unclear.  This idea seems contrary to White’s ambitions for a sharp attack. Three years later on 16.Rf4, 16.a4 was played.
  4. Interesting would be investigation for a possible Kh1 inorder to get the King more hidden from any check.  Possible? Not possible? This depends upon the exact moment and condition existing on the board.

Kindred’s Special: Physical & Mental Exercise Compliment Each Other

February 4, 2009

Chess is a great game that helps mental exercise. But it also tends to compliment itself with computers;  sitting or laying on the floor and developing poor posture simply because you do not think about it so much.  Here is a perfect time while you read this to understand that your parents love you very much.  They are intelligent and have gone through much of what you have experienced, have yet to experience and they are not merely a crutch to lean on until you grow up and attend college, get a job, join the military, or travel the world exploring to find what makes you tick and get the most from life.  Take it from me, the KindredSpirit, that together they produced you, protect you, love you, cherish you, and have by and large not asked very much from you other than to keep your room neat, do chores free of complaint, love and respect your brothers and sisters if lucky enough to have some.  What is missing from all this is far too common a mix of roles you assign to others outside the family. Not your fault.  The pros are good at advising you to confide in your teacher, minister, priest or rabbi and least of all the KindredSpirit says is to trust your peers. Not that your peers cannot be friends and enjoy togetherness–that is part of exploring outside the home and family.  But this very special mom, dad, son or daughter relationship is the most precious ingredient in building your character, finding yourself, building your interests, learning how to cope with everyday situations that often is pooped as being old fashion and unworldly by today’s standards of morality.  The dirty little secret is that morality has not changed an iota; change has been the socialized liberal and sometimes intentional debunking of the family unit as not important by those tinkerers of behavioral experimentation.

Parents are not friends. Sisters and brothers are not friends. The family unit is a cohesive blood connector where respect, love, the very fabric of protection–that feeling that no one has right to hurt those I love dearly.  That dad and mom would lay down their own life to protect you.  I say to call a dad or mom: “my best friend” is lacking the principle role they have.  That relates also to grandparents and great-grandparents etc. that have formulated what is commonly called the family tree.  You are a makeup of that tree, the end result of maybe a hundred years or more of family history. Yes, you may not know them, really care less about that tree or you may bless the fact that you are aware of them and show honor to them.

In every sense your body is the spiritual home for your soul.  It is important not to abuse it.  Going back to the first part of this column  and subsequent discussion of family may seem to possess no meaningful relationship.  But I hate to differ. You see, you are responsible for yourself.  We have brainpower to think, to analyze, to meditate about the things that benefit, scare, or which we find value and contentment.  Playing games, using the computer, reading a great deal, entering and playing in chess tournaments–all these cause the body time-wise to least exhibit a physical need to perform. It is important to get sufficient sleep and physical exercise to tone your muscles and keep healthy. Proper diet is one of the key roles of your mom or dad who prepares your meals. It is not my topic here to suggest meals that are good for you. Suffice it to say that moderation is good in almost everything you consume.

God bless you and remember to pray daily for family, those you know, our leaders and our troops who fight to keep us safe and give comfort and aid to those less fortunate, and the American Indian tribes who suffer most during these winter months.

Kindred’s Special: Akiba K. Rubinstein Revisited

February 3, 2009

Akiba K. Rubinstein (1882-1961) was one of the giants of chess during the period 1907-1922. Born in/about October 12, 1882 in the small Polish town of Stawiski, he was the 12th child born; his Jewish education was preparing him to perhaps be a Rabbi. He learned chess fairly late by today’s standards about the age of 16-17. He moved to Lodz where he met Salwe and others who destroyed his ego and he left for some months, later to return and challenge Salwe to a game. He won and a match was soon arranged with the Lodz champion. Rubinstein drew one match 7-7 and a later match 5.5-4.5.  By 1907 he was regarded as one of the top players along with Salwe and by 1912 had won five major international tournaments. Of the upstart, World Champion Emmanuel Lasker wrote in his chess magazine that while he considered Rubinstein an accomplished player, mastering the elements and position play, he did not have the qualities of the fighting spirit and drive to ever become World Champion.  However, perhaps he decided differently because he agreed to a match with Rubinstein in 1912 and it is unfortunate for the chessworld that World War I started before the match could be played.  He was injured in war and scarred to the point that emotionally he was not quite the same again.  Subsequently, Jose R. Capablanca had won the World Championship from Lasker and agreed to a match with Rubinstein in 1922 but Rubinstein was unable to raise the stakes Capablanca required.  He retired in 1932 after mixed results and lived out his later life in poverty and deprivation.

The Rubinstein Variation against the Nimzo-Indian Defensive set up was very popular and successful in the hands of Samuel Reshevsky, Mikhail Botvinnik and others that covered more than seven decades and remains one of the main weapons in meeting the defense.

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  e6  3.Nc3  Bb4  4.e3

This is the initial position of the Rubinstein variation. Black has a number of ways to continue: 4…O-O; 4…d5; 4…c5; 4…b6; 4…miscellaneous tries.  Detailed lines are shown in numerous book sources: Modern Chess Openings (MCO), Nunn’s Chess Openings (NCO), World’s Great Chess Games, Akiba Rubinstein–Uncrowned King, books I and II.

Time stands still for no man and this is just as true in the hallmark of opening theories. In fact, it is most factual that over modern chess history, style will likely alter thoughts and opinions about individual opening practice.  The Rubinstein set up using 5.Nge2, 5.Bd3, 5.Nf3 or variation on all three ideas held the attention of world class players as well as amateurs. In time, the classical 4.Qc2 returned to popularity made mostly through the games of GM Garry Kasparov. The older 4.Qb3 was shown to have teeth in the hands of GM Seirawan. 4.a3 or 4.f3 known as the Samisch lines likewise have their supporters. 4.Bg5 was oft times played by Boris Spassky.

In Lodz 1907-8 Rubinstein met Georg Rotlewi (1889-1920) who achieved considerable success during his short life.

          White:  G. Rotlewi          vs       Black:  A. Rubinstein

                                      Queen’s Gambit Declined

1.d4  d5  2.Nf3  e6  3.e3  c5  4.c4  Nc6  5.Nc3  Nf6  6.dxc5  Bxc5  7.a3  a6  8.b4  Bd6  9.Bb2  O-O  10.Qd2

White wants to play Rd1 so as to threaten d5 that is not immediately possible because 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.Qxd5 Bb4+ winning the Queen. Better is the current favorite 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Be2.

10…Qe7!

Interestingly offering up the d-pawn with hope that after the Queen comes to d5 after exchanges, he has …Be6 with a sharp play and good chances.

11.Bd3  dxc4  12.Bxc4  b5  13.Bd3  Rd8  14.Qe2

Acknowledging that the Queen was ill placed. After 14.O-O Bxh2+ 15.Nxh2  Ne5 16.Bxh7+ Nxh7 17.Qc2 Nc4 is strong for Black.

14…Bb7  15.O-O  Ne5  16.Nxe5  Bxe5  17.f4  Bc7  18.e4  Rac8  19.e5 Bb6+ 20.Kh1  Ng4  21.Be4  Qh4  22.g3  Rxc3!!  23.gxh4 Rd2  24.Qxd2 Bxe4+  25.Qg2  Rh3! 26.Rf2  Rxh2+ 27.Kg1  Bxf2+ 28.Kf1  Bd3 mate or 26.Rf3 Bxf3 27.Qxf3 Rxh2 mate.