Kindred’s Special: I meet a famous chess coach and chessmaster par excellence–Weeramantry

After I had turned over TD duties to my prodigy of sorts, Ed Frumkin, my time was limited for chess as my dad had passed away in 1973 and my efforts were bent on furthering my education and caring for my mom whose health had slowly worsened.  So it was a real surprise when in 1979 Eddy sent me an invitation to a tournament of the top area and Rochester Club players with invite and acceptance by Weetramantry, a well-known chess coach and father of a future US Champion, Hikaru Nakamura, who may well be the strongest on the North American continent.  He is one of the great gentleman of chess and it was my privilege to have played him and our talks afterwards even today is one of memorable kindness.

(Article amended from the original introduction.)

White:  Weeramantry   vs.  Black:  Donald P. Reithel    Opening:  Alekhin Defence    September 30th 1979   Rochester, NY  Initiating The Marchand Open held over September 29-30, 1979.

1. P-K4  N-KB3  /  2.  P-K5   N-Q4  /  3.  P-QB4  N-N3  /  4. P-B5   N-Q4  /  5. B-B4  P-K3  /

Being rusty for up-to-date opening systems, I decided as a whim to try a defense which I had years ago termed, “the desperado defense,”  and had employed successfully in two of the World Cup II ICCF series. It is a defense with many sidelines especially for White and he chooses one that gives him control of space and relatively easy development.  He embarks on a tactical line that I had not met but one I had analyzed some years before and felt like trying should it present itself.

6.  N-QB3  N x N  /  7.  QP x N   N-B3   8.  B-B4  P-KN4!!

This is the move I had studied and felt the gods had given me the opportunity to test it in actual play.  Some of his brilliant tactical games had appeared in Chess Life and I had entered the seat across from him with the knowledge that my winning chances were nil and draws unlikely, too.  In fact, I remember that I won three and lost two games played in this tournament.  This tournament was the worst effort on my part ever, not that I played badly but simply couldn’t get co-operation from my two master opponents, Alex Dunne and Weeramantry!  Afterwards, I found my timing of plans to be suspect and had tried to press too hard to build some advantage only to see it wind up in the hands my opponents who dutifully punished me.

9. B-KN3   B-N2 /  10. Q-K2   Q-K2  /  11. Q-K3   P-KR3  /   12. P-KR4  P-N3  /  13. P x QNP  RP x P  /  14. P x P    P x P  /   15. R x R check  B x R  /  16.  N-B3   R-R4  /

Here my thoughts ran awry.  I was thinking square count these last few moves that artificially appears beneficial to me; but as I see it now, what actually was taking place on the board was losing tempi.

17.  P-QN4   R-R6  18.  B-N3   P-B3  /  19.  O-O-O   K-B1  /  20.  R-R1   K-N1   /

21.  P x P    Q x P  /  22.  K-N2   R-R2  /  23. Q x P check   Q  x  Q   /  24.  N x Q  B-B3   /

White cleverly has gone from middle game to a favorable ending.  This is a mark of the master and grandmaster in chess.  I find no improvements on my part possible to alter such an appraisal.

25.  N-K4!   B-N2   /   26.  P-QR3   N-K2   27.  B-R4   N-B4   /  28. B-B6   B-N2   /   29.  B x B   K  x B  /  30. B-B2   R-R1  /   31.  R-Q1   P-Q4  /  32.  N-N5   K-B3   /  33.  B x N!!  K x B /

The right decision!  The Knight is more valuable than the Bishop which is considered an even exchange.  But the exchange of these pieces has increased the scope of the White forces.

34.  N-B3   P-K4   /   35.  R-K1   R-K1  /  36.  R-R1   R-K2  /   37. R-R5 check  K-K5  /  38.  N x P!!  R-N2  / ( 38. … R x N  runs into 39. P-B3 check leaves the Rook hanging.)

A nice breaking point.  I had seen it coming but hoped he would not.  Of such things are dreams made of.  But honestly, I was much impressed with his conduct of this endgame. In a manner, I thought I was being given a free lesson from the coach.  I was reminded of the often literary notes by the great players–“You learn much from your losses!”

39.  N-N4  P-Q5  /  40.  P-B3 check   K-Q6  /  41.  P x P   K x P  /

White now demonstrates great skill in exacting a full point.  In my chess career, I had few times to experience total shut down of my own plans or a saving grace.  It was not to be here.  The final seventeen moves provide you, my readers, with some excellent instruction of how to win a won game!

42.  R-R1   K-Q6  /  43.  R-QB1   R-K2  /  44.  R-B2   P-QN4 /  45. R-B3 check   K-Q5   /  46.  R-B2   K-Q6 /  (HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL; BUT ALAS! Zugswang is lurking).

47.  N-B2 check  K-K6   / 48.  N-Q1 check  K-Q6  /   49.  N-B3  R-K4  /  50.  N-R2   B-Q4   /  51.  N-B1 check  K-K6  /  52.  R-K2 check  K-Q5  / 53.  R x R   K x R  /  54.  K-B3  K-B5 /

55. N-K2 check  K-K6  /  56. N-Q4  P-B3  57. P-N4  K-B5  58. K-Q2   Resigns.  (1-0).

All I can add here is that I was simply following my belief in not giving up the ship!  In such cases, a player might fall asleep and just make a horrific blunder to save the day.

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