Kindred Special: The Canadian Knights Dance the Tango

Years come and go and so do thoughts about what this board game called chess contributes to my spirit.  I came across some games from Canada that gives life to those wooden pieces; it reminds me of a club player at home who just loved his Knights. He swore that they were what made chess the romantic game it is.  He distained the Bishop-pair that lectures, books and positional chess writers cranked out in numerous illustrations that Bishops disclosed positional advantages.  He would tell me furiously that the ‘bad Bishop’ was a point where you never heard anyone ever claim a ‘bad Knight’ because it’s movement made allowance for it to be of future use.  That comes with FAITH he told me.

Here is a game from Lone Pine, 1978, where Canadian Duncan Suttles gives the teacher of chess lessons a real life lesson. This is an example of the power of the Bishops while the Knights do the Tango!

White:   Jeremy Silman    vs.   Black:   Duncan Suttles

Opening:   The Rat – (1…g6)

1.  e4   g6  2.  d4   d6  3.  Nc3   a6   4.  a4   Bg7   5.  Nf3   Bg4   6.  Be3   Nc6  7.  Be2  e5  8.  d5   Nce7  9.  Nd2   Bc8  10. O-O  f5

One might call Duncan Suttles  a sidewinder when it came to classical chess positions.  His attacking skill is honed to a fine edge so I guess I could justly call his play as unique.  He liked to fianchetto his King’s Bishop.

11.  f4  e:f4   12.  B:f4  Nf6  13.  Bc4  O-O  14.  e5  Ng4   15.  Nf3  d:e5  16.  Bg5.

Black has,  if White had chosen 16.  d6+  Kh8  17.  d:e7  Q:e7  18.  Bg5  Qc5+ winning the Bishop.  Getting rid of the d and e pawns opens lines where square count will play a role.

16. …  Kh8  17.  h3  Nf6   18.  N:e5   Qd6   19.  Bf4   Qb6+  20. Kh1  Nh5  21.  Bh2  f4  22.  d6  c:d6  23.  Nf7+  R:f7  24.  B:f7  Nf5

25. Re1  Bd7  26.  Nd5  Qf2  27.  Ra3   Rf8  28. Be6  B:e6   29. R:e6  Nhg3+ 30. B:g3  N:g3+ 31. Kg2  Nf1+  32. Kh1 Bd4 33. Ne3 B:e3  34. Re:e3  N:e3 White Resigns (0-1).

The next game is an example of Knights cooperating in a nice checkmate.

White:   Kevin Spraggett  vs.  Black:  Desautels

Opening:  Queen’s Indian Defense

1. c4  Nf6  2.  Nc3  e6   3. Nf3  b6   4.  e4   c5   5.  e5  Ng8  6.  d4  Ne7

The black Knight makes three moves and helps to smother the King’s mobility.

7.  Bg5   h6

Now the Knights dance a foxtrot around the dance floor.

8.  Nb5  d5   9.  e:d6   h:g5  10.  Nc7+  Kd7   11.  Ne5+  K:d6  12.  Nb5 checkmate.  (1-0).

White:   Lawrence Day  vs.  Peter Nurmi

Hypermodern Classic Defense

1.  e3   g6  2.  Ne2   Bg7   3.  g3   d5   4.  Bg2  Nf6  5.  f4   Nc6  6.  a3   e5   7. O-O  h5  8.  b4  h4  9.  b5   Na5  10.  Bb2  Nc4  11. B:e5  N:e5  12.  f:e5   Ng4   13. Nbc3  N:h2   14.  B:d5  N:f1  15. Q:f1  O-O   16. d4  Bh6  17. Ne4  B:e3+  18. Kh2  h:g3+  19. K:g3  Be6  20.  Qf3  B:d5  21. Nf6+  Kg7  22. Q:e3  Rh8  23. Qd3  Qc6  24. Nf4!

Day has kept his Knights and now makes excellent use of them.

24.  …  c6   25.  c4  Be6  26.  d5  c:d5  27.  c:d5   Bf5  28.  Qd4

Centralizing the Queen where it sweeps the rank and files.

28. ….  Qc2   29.  e6

The question is: Whose King is in the greater danger?

29. …  Qb3+  30.  Kg2  Qc2+  31.  Kg3   Qb3+  32.  Kg2  Bh3+  33.  Kf2  Qc2+ 34.  Ke3   Qb3+  35.  Kd2  Kh6  36. Rh1  Kg5  37. Qe5+  Bf5  38.  Ne4+  Kg4  39.  Rg1+  Kh4   40.  Qf6+  (1-0).

Well, I would say that it takes the whole team to play chess.  Favoring pieces may be your thing.  Still, the chessmen are given roles to play.  Their individual movements are designed to exhibit a bond where the geometric patterns form a flow of beauty in strategy and tactics.  If you get the chess bug and desire to understand the elements of the opening, middlegame and endgame, perhaps–just perhaps–the mysteries the minor pieces posed over time will be more understood.

I have attempted to show through selected games that these wood pieces we call minor pieces deserve their reputations as key units in the hands of players everywhere and add artistry to the joy of gamesmanship.

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