Saturday, December 28, 2013

John Blood Sr. in Caro-Kann 5...gxf6

After missing a chance to defeat John Blood Sr with my Latvian Gambit, now a year later I chose to defend against his 1.e4 with the Caro-Kann Defence. Normally after 4.Nxe4, I play the classical 4...Bf5. Thirty years ago I preferred the sharper and riskier 4...Nf6 line, intending 5.Nxf6+ gxf6. Jeremy Silman wrote a book on this line called "The Dynamic Caro-Kann: The Bronstein Larsen and the Original Caro Systems" a couple years before this game was played. To be aggressive, I tried a throwback to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Black's plan in this line is to castle queenside and to attack in the center or to use the g-file as a base of operations. This was my original plan, but this time the execution failed badly. White found more effective play on the b-file than Black did on the g-file. John Blood wins, again reversing my earlier success vs him.

Blood - Sawyer, corr USCF 1992 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 6.Nf3 Bf5 7.Be2 e6 8.0-0 Qc7 9.c4 Nd7 10.d5 Rg8 [10...0-0-0! 11.Nd4 Be4=] 11.Nh4 Bg6 [11...Be4=] 12.Nxg6 hxg6 13.dxc6 Qxc6 14.Bf4 Ne5 15.Qc2 0-0-0 16.Rad1 Be7 17.Qc3 [17.a3+/-] 17...Nd7!? [17...Rxd1 18.Rxd1 Qe4=] 18.Bf3 Qc5? 19.b4 Qf5 20.Bxb7+ Kxb7 21.Qf3+ Kb6 22.c5+ Nxc5 23.bxc5+ Bxc5 24.Rb1+ 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, November 22, 2013

New Idea in Blackmar-Diemer Teichmann

I voted for John F. Kennedy. What was not to like? Kennedy was pro-life, pro-America, pro-military, pro-low taxes, pro-high business profits. When I was in school in 1960, my teacher held up two pictures: one of JFK and one of Richard Nixon (whom I voted against in 1972 for real). I voted for the good looking one. I remember my teacher crying 50 years ago today when she heard JFK had been killed. The communist Lee Harvey Oswald shot him. Who knows if anyone else was involved. Does it matter today? Probably not.

My childhood did not involve much chess, but this post has some real meat and potatoes. I keep for myself two basic Blackmar-Diemer Gambit repertoires for White. That is, I have two different reasonable sets of variations that I happily play vs each of Black's popular defensive schemes. Sometimes White has many choices, but I pick the two best for me.

The BDG Teichmann Exchange is one of the most common variations we face as White following: 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6. White has five options. The last two are my current favorites.
     A. 8.Bd3 - Ziegler Variation (transposes to 5.Nxf3 c6 6.Bd3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3)
     B. 8.Bf4 - Velimirovic Variation (the famous master won with it, but 8...Qxd4!)
     C. 8.Qf2 - Ciesielski Variation (favorite of Tim McGrew and my BDGK2)
     D. 8.g4 - Seidel-Hall Variation (promising gambit that strong BDGers prefer)
     E. 8.Be3 - Classical Variation (most popular and main line of my BDGK1)

The BDG Teichmann Seidel-Hall line often continues 8.g4 e6, about which I have written many times in this blog. Consider anew the gambit line 8.g4 Qxd4 9.Be3 Qb4 10.0-0-0 e6. There are many 11th move possibilities. I have been in this position about 30 times, choosing three different moves about 10 times each: 11.Kb1 (my line), 11.Nb5!? or 11.Rd4?! Gary Lane also discusses 11.Bd3, while Christoph Scheerer suggests 11.g5 with the David Zimbeck idea of 11...Nd5 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.c4!? What's the best move?

Recently I decided to have Houdini 3 ponder the options while I was sleeping. After I got up, I found the top choice of 11.g5 Nd5 with a new idea of 12.Bd4!? =. Had anyone ever played that 12th move before? I searched my database. Voila! One game. But not only that, years ago I had selected and annotated this game as an important one to include in the next book I wrote on the BDG. Then I promptly forgot it. My database remembered. Here is a hard fought ICCF game between Arild Haugen and Jerry Weisskohl.

Haugen (2556) - Weisskohl (2522), North Atlantic Team Tournament VI 2008 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.g4 Qxd4 9.Be3 Qb4 10.O-O-O e6 [Two correspondence GM's duke it out in a rare BDG line.] 11.g5 Nd5 12.Bd4 Nd7 [12...Be7 13.Bxg7 Bxg5+ 14.Kb1 Rg8 15.Bd4 Nd7 16.Nxd5 cxd5 17.Rg1 with some obvious compensation for the two pawns.] 13.h4 [Houdini 3 analyzed through move 29 beginning with 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Kb1 h6 15.g6 f6 16.Qe2 Qd6 17.h4 Be7 18.Bh3 e5 19.Bf2 O-O 20.Bg2 d4 21.c3 f5 22.Bxd4=] 13...Qd6 14.Kb1 O-O-O 15.Bg2 Qf4 16.Qh3 N7b6 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.b3 Qc7 19.Rhf1 Kb8 20.Rf3 Nc8 21.Rc3 Qd6 22.Qe3 Qd7 23.Be5+ Nd6 24.Bh3 Qb5 25.a4 Qe8 26.Rcd3 h6 27.gxh6 Rxh6 28.c4 Rxh4 29.cxd5 f5 30.dxe6 Qxe6 31.Qg5 Be7 32.Qxf5 Qxf5 33.Bxf5 Rh5 34.Rxd6 1/2-1/2.

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jeremy Katz Best French Alapin Gambit

Jeremy Katz of Brooklyn, New York, was rated 2256 in USCF postal at the time of this game. I was often listed among the top APCT players 20-30 years ago, played Board 4 for the Xth World Correspondence Chess Olympiade 1982-84 US team, was a USCF Postal Master off and on in 1990, and won an ICCF Master Class section 1995-97. I tend to play chess more by instinct and pattern recognition than by analysis. Of course, often in my correspondence play, like in the game below, I had to make very specific calculations.

Against the French Defence, White can choose from several good third moves. Below is a beautiful little game played in BDG style. Some come to the BDG after years of playing against the French after 1.e4 and feel comfortable with whatever they have been playing. I played all four common responses, 3.Nc3, 3.Nd2, 3.e5 and 3.exd5, as well as the offbeat and risky 3.Be3!? Alapin French. My performance with 3.Be3 has been slightly higher.

The Alapin-Diemer may not be sound, but it can be very dangerous for Black. Bill Wall's 500 French Miniatures gives 16 games (and others that would transpose); White scored 16-0. In 1995 my book on the variation called the "Alapin French, Tactics for White" was published. In the introduction to that book I wrote: "Welcome to the King's Gambit of the French Defense! White gets quick slashing attacks that often win in 20 moves.

John Watson cites my book in his 1996 edition of "Play the French". Watson gave about one half of a page to the Alapin with variations that go beyond move eight in only a few cases. Eric Schiller recommended the Alapin as the gambit to play vs the French Defense in his book "Gambit Opening Repertoire For White".

My new French 3.Be3 Playbook is a step by step guide to the Alapin Diemer Gambit.

Sawyer (1993) - Katz (2256), corr USCF 89NS61, 28.07.1991 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 [We have reached a very normal and popular French Defence.] 3.Be3 dxe4 [Consider the psychology is at work here. Most French Defense players do not 3...dxe4 in other lines. They provoke the e4 pawn to advance to e5; but the e-pawn is just hanging there. If Black wants to refute this gambit, he must make the capture now. Anything else gives White at least equality, and usually the better position with equal material.] 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.f3 exf3 6.Ngxf3 Be7 7.Bd3 b6 8.0-0 Bb7 9.Bg5 [No longer needed on e3, the Bishop redeploys to g5 where it threatens to capture on f6 leaving h7 less defended.] 9...0-0 10.Qe1 [This prepares Qh4 with combinations on h7 and f6.] 10...c5 11.Qh4 [White has compensation for the pawn and practical chances.] 11...h6 [Black challenges White to attack or slink away.] 12.Bxh6 [When Black combines kingside castling with a pawn on h6, I capture that pawn and rip open the protection in front of Black's king.] 12...gxh6 13.Qxh6 Qd5 14.g4! [Black missed this winning pawn advance which takes h5 away from the Black Queen and threatens to dislodge the Knight on f6.] 14...cxd4 15.g5 Nbd7 16.gxf6 Nxf6 17.Kh1 Qh5 18.Rg1+ 1-0 [Revised November 5, 2013]

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Michael Foust Alekhine 3.Bxf7+ Attack

In the 1989 USCF Golden Knights Postal Tournament Semi-Final round another opponent is Michael Foust. This time it's an Alekhine Defence 2.Bc4 Nxe4 3.Bxf7+ variation. We played two previous APCT games with both of us winning one. One of those games was in the Bird's Opening and the other was an awesome Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

This year I am presenting my USCF postal games. Lord willing, I plan to post my ICCF and APCT games next year. I have had a lifetime of chess. At my pace of one post per day, I cannot do thousands of games in a year. Hopefully there remains plenty of life in me to write for years to come!

Foust (1900) - Sawyer (2041), corr USCF 89NS48, 24.05.1991 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.Bc4 Nxe4 3.Bxf7+ Kxf7 4.Qh5+ Kg8 5.Qd5+ e6 6.Qxe4 d5 7.Qe2 Nc6 8.Nf3 Qf6!? [White forfeited the game at this point. Jeff Caveney posted the following comment on April 7, 2005: "Back in the mid-1990s on one of the Usenet chess groups Max Burkett shared an amazing line for Black discovered by Fritz in this variation: 8...e5 and if 9.Nxe5 Nd4! 10.Qd3 (10.Qd1 Qg5-+; 10.Qh5 g6 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qxg6+ Bg7 and the piece should crush the three pawns here.) 10...Bc5 11.0-0 (11.Qc3 Qg5!-+; 11.Na3 Qg5-+) 11...Bf5-+." All very interesting. Looks good. A possible continuation after my 8...Qf6!? is 9.0-0 e5 10.Nc3 e4 11.Nxd5 Qf7 12.Qxe4 Bf5 13.Qc4 Be6-+] 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Battle of Petroff Repertoire Books

Chess opening repertoire books present a plan for you to follow a set of similar ideas at the beginning of a game. I played a game where the line in a book for White intersected the line given in a book for Black. The two authors had differing views of how to handle the Petroff Defence Kaufmann Attack developed over 100 years ago by Dr. Arthur Kaufmann.

Larry Kaufman in his classic book "The Chess Advantage in Black and White" calls the Petroff by its other common name the Russian Defense. Larry Kaufman follows 5.c4 idea of the Kaufmann with the extra "n" by giving 10 pages of games and analysis for White including this quote: "Some of the lines are a bit drawish, but I'm afraid that is unavoidable when dealing with the Petroff. All we can ask for is a position where most of the winning chances are on the White side, and I believe the Kaufmann Attack fits that description."

For Black, I chose the 2011 book "The Petroff: an Expert Repertoire for Black" by Konstantin Sakaev, whose comment on 5.c4 is: "This is an original move, but that's about the most positive thing that can be said about it." After 5...Nc6 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.dxc3 both writers mention the typical 7...Be7, but the line reminds me of the popular 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 line and the Alekhine Defence Exchange Variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 exd6 6.Nc3 Be7. These lines tend to be solid but potentially passive.

Our authors mention the development of the Black's light squared bishop with 7...Bf5 (Sakaev) or 7...Bg4 (Kaufman). In general after 5.c4 Nc6, Larry Kaufman considers the dynamic approach of castling opposite sides as a good idea to play for a win: 0-0-0 vs 0-0.

Konstantin Sakaev's improvement is 7...g6, where he considers only 8.Be2 and 8.Bd3. My opponent below played something logical but new to me: 8.0-0. We reached a bishop vs knight endgame where the White king had no entries points to invade the Black defenses.

blik (2374) - Sawyer (2109), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 17.09.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 Nc6 [The more popular and passive continuation 5...Be7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3+/= seems to favor White a little bit.] 6.Nc3 Nxc3 7.bxc3 g6 [7...Qf6!?] 8.d4 Bg7 9.Bd3 Qe7+ [9...0-0 10.0-0 Qd7 11.Re1 b6 12.Bg5 Bb7=] 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0 Bg4 12.Rb1 [12.h3+/=] 12...b6 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Qxf3 Na5 15.Rfe1 Qf6 16.Qxf6 Bxf6 17.Bh6 Rfe8 18.Bf4 Bg7 19.a3 Kf8 20.Kf1 Rxe1+ 21.Rxe1 Re8 22.Rxe8+ Kxe8 23.a4 Ke7 24.Bg5+ Bf6 25.h4 Bxg5 26.hxg5 c5 27.Ke2 Nc6 28.Be4 Nd8 29.Ke3 Ne6 30.f4 Ng7 31.g4 Ne6 32.Bd5 Nc7 33.dxc5 bxc5 [33...Nxd5+ 34.cxd5 bxc5 should also draw.] 34.Bc6 Ne6 [34...a5 eliminates all possible White king invasions.] 35.a5 Nc7 36.f5 Na6 37.Bf3 Nb8 38.Bd5 Nd7 39.f6+ Kf8 40.Kf4 Ne5 41.Kg3 Ke8 42.Kh4 Kf8 43.Kg3 Ke8 44.Kh4 Kf8 Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Craig Jones French Alapin Gambit Accepted

Craig Jones is one of the few players that I played in postal chess and over-the-board in USCF. At the time he was one of Pennsylvania's best masters. Master Craig Jones is not to be confused with contemporary Master Curt Jones of Tennessee, whom I also played.

Here Craig Jones handles my French Defence Alapin Gambit 5.f3 exf3 by defending better than I attack. Most of the time Black develops a bishop on move six. Craig Jones instead played for a quick central counter attack with 6...Nbd7 and 7...c5. This variation has to be considered a critical line for the 3.Be3 Alapin-Diemer French.

My new French 3.Be3 Playbook is a step by step guide to the Alapin Diemer Gambit.

Sawyer (2070) - Jones (2061), corr USCF 89NS20, 02.11.1990 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Be3 dxe4 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.f3 exf3 6.Ngxf3 Nbd7 [ More common is a bishop move, such as 6...Be7.] 7.Bd3 c5 8.c3 [In light of what follows, this seems to close. Maybe 8.0-0 or 8.Qe2.] 8...Be7 9.Qe2 0-0 10.0-0 b6 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Qe1?! [This is too slow. 12.Rad1 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Nc5 14.Bc2 Nd5 15.Bxe7 Qxe7=/+] 12...cxd4 13.cxd4 h6 14.Qh4 Re8 15.Rae1? [15.Bf4 Nd5 16.Qg3 Nxf4 17.Qxf4 Rc8-/+] 15...hxg5 16.Nxg5 Nf8 17.Rxf6? [Or 17.Ndf3 Bxf3 18.Rxf3 Ne4 19.Rh3 Qxd4+ 20.Ree3 Qxe3+ 21.Rxe3 Nxg5-+ and for the sacrificed queen Black has two knights, a rook and a pawn.] 17...Bxf6 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Richard Wade Brooks Sacs Rooks

In the 2010 action movie "Three Kingdoms" about fighting factions in China in 228 A.D. (based on "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" by Luo Guangzhong), one wise man advises his troops with these words: "A battle is like chess. Instead of standing pat, playing defensively... you must sacrifice a rook to take a king."

While I am not sure how a chess rook in China compares to medieval castles of Europe 1000 years later, the quote works for me. My postal chess game vs Richard Wade Brooks in the 1989 USCF Golden Knights Semi-Finals saw the Latvian Gambit. After I sacrifice one rook, my opponent sacrifices two rooks. One can give up too much material.

[My Philidor 2.Nf3 Playbook includes the Latvian Gambit]

Brooks (1909) - Sawyer (2030), corr USCF 89NS20, 04.03.1991 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4 b5 4.Bb3 fxe4 5.Nxe5 Qg5 6.Nf7 [A better line is 6.d4! Qxg2 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Bf7+ Kd8 9.Qg5+ Qxg5 10.Bxg5+ Be7 when White could try 11.h4+/=] 6...Qxg2 7.Rf1 d5 8.Nxh8 Nf6? [8...Bg4!-+ wins] 9.Bxd5? [Giving Black another option. 9.d4 Bg4 10.Qd2=] 9...Bh3! 10.Bf7+ Ke7 11.Qe2 Nc6 12.Qxb5 Rb8 13.Qc4 Rb4 14.Qe2 Nd4 15.Qa6 [White is running out of ways to defend f1 and e2. 15.Bc4 Nxe2 16.Bxe2 Qxh2 17.Nc3 Bxf1 18.Bxf1 Ng4-+] 15...Nxc2+ [15...Qf3!-+ with mate threats.] 16.Kd1 Nxa1 17.b3 Qxf1+ [17...Bg4+!-+] 18.Qxf1 Bxf1 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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