Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Petroff Fighting Cochrane Gambit

I did not realize it until later, but this was exactly my 3000th recorded game in which I played 1.e4 e5 with the Black pieces and exactly my 500th recorded game with the Petroff Defence. However, it is only the 6th time I have faced the Cochrane Gambit 4.Nxf7. With this game I am 4 wins vs 2 losses as Black with a plus performance rating.

Funny thing about this game was that I kept refusing to play ...Re8-Rf8 (to the open f-file) until it was too late. I had the advantage until move 19. I think my opponent "foxsden" got into time trouble, because on move 28 he returned the favor. After that I was winning.

foxsden (1645) - Sawyer (2015), ICC 3 1 u Internet Chess Club, 07.06.2013 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7 Kxf7 5.Nc3 [The most common continuation is 5.d4 c5 6.dxc5 Nc6 7.Bc4+ Be6 8.Bxe6+ Kxe6=] 5...Be7 6.d4 Re8 7.Bc4+ Be6 8.Bxe6+ Kxe6 [It seems risky to bring the king out this far, but there is plenty of time to retreat. Why? Because White has only one developed piece, while Black has a knight, bishop and rook already in play.] 9.0-0 Kf7 10.f4 Kg8 11.e5 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nd5 13.Ne4 Nc6 14.c3 Qd7 15.Qh5 Kh8!? [15...Rf8!=/+] 16.Bg5 Qe6 [Again, 16...Rf8!=/+ ] 17.Rf3 [17.Bxe7 Ncxe7 18.Qxh7+ Kxh7 19.Ng5+ Kg6 20.Nxe6 Nf5=] 17...Qg6 18.Qh4 Bxg5 19.Nxg5 h6? [The only move to keep the advantage was 19...Rf8=/+ ] 20.Nf7+! Kg8 21.Raf1 Rf8 22.Rg3 Qxf7 23.Rxf7 Rxf7 24.Qxh6 [24.e6!+-] 24...Raf8 [24...Nf4 25.Rxg7+ Rxg7 26.Qxf4+/-] 25.h3 Nde7 26.e6 [26.Rg4!+-] 26...Rf1+ 27.Kh2 Nf5 28.e7? [28.Qg5 Nxg3 29.Qxg3=] 28...Nxh6 29.exf8Q+ Kxf8 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

John Niven Scandinavian Defence

The Scandinavian Defence (also called the Center Counter Defence) 1.e4 d5 used to be considered a weak opening that few masters would play. However, over the past 40 years it has gradually become more and more popular at the grandmaster level. If White wants a theoretical advantage 2.exd5 is preferred. But 50% of the time as White I transpose to my other passions with 2.Nc3 (Queen's Knight Attack) or 2.e4!? (Blackmar-Diemer Gambit).

After 2.exd5, Black has two ways to recapture. The most popular variations are:
(A) 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5; (B) 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6; or (C) 2...Nf6 3.d4 Bg4.

Once in a while (about 6% of the time), I play this opening as Black. In the 1989 USCF Golden Squires Finals, I chose the Scandinavian Defence vs John Niven. We avoided the critical lines, even though in postal chess we could use books. Play was inaccurate before the game was simplified with all queens and center pawns exchanged. It turned out to be a final round short draw. Our ratings were only 2 points apart - so, no rating change.

Niven (1959) - Sawyer (1961), corr USCF 89SF10, 28.07.1992 begins 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 [3.Nc3] 3...Bg4 4.Nc3 Qa5 5.Be2 [5.h3+/=] 5...Nc6 6.d4 e5 [6...0-0-0!=] 7.Bd2 0-0-0 [Black should try the wild line 7...Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Nxd4 9.Bxb7 Rb8=] 8.dxe5 [Now the tension fizzles out. White should win a pawn with 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.Bxg4+ Nxg4 10.Qxg4+ with little compensation for Black.] 8...Nxe5 9.Nxe5 Qxe5 10.h3 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Qxe2+ 12.Nxe2 Bc5 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Ken Wieder Teichmann Unusual Retreat

Some theory today. If in the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Teichmann 5.Nxf3 Bg4 we see the unusual retreat 6.h3 Bf5, it becomes in effect a Gunderam 5.Nxf3 Bf5 with an extra h2-h3 move for White. All this is moot after 7.Ne5 e6 8.g4 if Black plays the solid 8...Bg6. Then 9.Bg2 c6 10.h4 reaches an important position that can come from either a Teichmann or a Gunderam (in one less move). Here White has full compensation for the pawn.

Ken Wieder in the Finals of the USCF 1989 Golden Squires Postal Chess Tournament decided to play much sharper with 8...Ne4!? In this BDG Teichmann, fireworks ensued. The line in the notes with 9.gxf5 demonstrates a key difference between the 8...Ne4 Teichmann and the 7...Ne4 Gunderam. The White h-pawn being on h3 instead of h2 allows two queen checks that prepare two knight forks, leading to a very difficult endgame. I chose another complicated line and won quickly when Black missed a tactic.

Sawyer (2004) - Wieder (1862), corr USCF 89SF10, 17.08.1992 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bf5 7.Ne5 e6 8.g4 Ne4 9.Bb5+ [The other choice is also playable but very unbalanced: 9.gxf5 Qh4+ 10.Ke2 Ng3+ 11.Kf2 Nxh1+ 12.Kg2 f6 13.Nf3 Qxh3+! 14.Kxh3 Nf2+ 15.Kg2 Nxd1 16.Nxd1 exf5 17.Ne3 Nc6 18.Nxf5=] 9...c6 10.0-0 cxb5 [The correct way to equalize for Black is 10...Nxc3! 11.bxc3 Bg6 12.Bd3 Nd7 13.Nxg6 hxg6 14.Qf3 Qf6=] 11.gxf5 Nxc3 [11...Nf6 12.Bg5+/-] 12.bxc3 f6? [12...Nc6 13.fxe6 Nxe5 14.Qh5!+/-] 13.Qh5+ g6 14.fxg6 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Alternative Blackmar-Diemer Von Popiel

There are two gambits in the BDG family that are older than the Diemer's idea of 4.f3. One is the Blackmar Gambit 3.f3 and the other is Von Popiel with 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5. When put side by side they look like this:
     1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3 - The Blackmar Gambit from the 1880s.
     1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 - Von Popiel from early 1900s.
     1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 - Blackmar-Diemer from 1930s.

The BDG thematic postal tournament that ran from 1968 to 1975 with 21 players was won by Georg Danner. In a quick glance at his games was White from that era, I count 9 times he played 4.Bg5 and 6 times he played 4.f3. Probably the starting position for that event required just 3.Nc3 Nf6, since 4.f3 was not played in every game. Below is a recent well played game from Poland between Szadkowski and Aglave in the Von Popiel 4.Bg5.

Szadkowski (2184) - Aglave (2113), 28th Gniot Mem 2013 Police POL (7.12), 16.07.2013 begins 1.e4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.d4 dxe4 4.Bg5 Bf5 5.Qe2 [5.f3!? and 5.Bxf6 are alternatives.] 5...c6 6.0-0-0 [6.Bxf6 exf6 7.0-0-0=] 6...e6 [Black could try 6...Nbd7 7.f3 exf3 8.Nxf3 e6 9.d5 Qa5=/+] 7.f3 exf3 8.Nxf3 Be7 9.Ne5 Nd5 [9...Qc7!?] 10.Bd2 [10.Bxe7 Qxe7=] 10...Nxc3 11.Bxc3 0-0?! [11...Qd5 12.Kb1 Nd7=] 12.g4 Bg6 13.Kb1 Nd7? [Now White has a great attack. 13...Bh4!? is a creative way to slow the h4-h5 advance. 14.Be1=] 14.h4 Nf6 15.Bg2 h5 [If 15...Nd5 16.h5 Bxc2+ 17.Kxc2 Nf4 18.Qe4+-] 16.Nxg6! fxg6 17.Qxe6+ Kh7 18.gxh5 gxh5 19.d5 cxd5 20.Rxd5 [Or 20.Rhe1!+- ] 20...Nxd5 21.Be4+ 1-0

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Geoffrey Coleman Vienna Hara-Kiri 5.g4

Playing the final round usually means that you know where you stand where it comes to winning any prizes. A few people who have won most of their games are in contention. The rest are not. In correspondence chess, the rounds have multiple games. In postal chess, rounds took years to play. By the time I got to the 1989 Golden Squires Postal Finals, I knew that my opponents and I: (1) had already complete a dozen games; (2) would play for years without quitting; (3) had knocked off a much of our competition; and (4) we were probably out of the running for the few prizes at the top.

My first game with Geoffrey Coleman was in the section USCF 89SF7. Here we contested a sharp Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Vienna Hara-Kiri 5.g4 Bg6 6.h4 variation, instead of Tartakower's 6.g5 Nd5 7.Nxe4. Probably we were worn out, and being rated close to each other, agreed to a last round draw after the middlegame. My second game with Coleman was played at the same time and is scheduled to be posted on my blog in 10 days.

Christoph Scheerer wrote of this line in his excellent book: "More ambitious but also more risky is the Hara-Kiri Gambit with 5.g4. Sometimes White may even be a pawn up for a change, but in the long run Black will have the superior structure. On the other hand, the position is at least unbalanced, which may allow White to outplay his opponent."

Sawyer (2003) - Coleman (1978), corr USCF 89SF7, 15.09.1992 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 Bf5 5.g4 Bg6 6.h4 exf3 [The critical line is 6...h6! 7.Bg2 Scheerer (7.Nh3 Lane 7...Nc6-/+) 7...Nc6 8.Be3 e5!-/+] 7.Qxf3 Nc6 8.Bb5 Qd6 9.d5?! [9.Bf4 Qe6+ 10.Nge2=] 9...a6 10.dxc6? [10.Bxc6+ bxc6 11.h5 Qe5+ 12.Nge2 Be4 13.Nxe4 Qxe4 14.Qxe4 Nxe4 15.dxc6=] 10...axb5 11.cxb7 Rb8 12.Bf4 Qe6+ [12...e5! 13.h5 Bxc2 14.Rh2 exf4 15.Rxc2=] 13.Nge2 Be4 14.Nxe4 Qxe4 15.Qxe4 Nxe4 16.Bxc7 [16.a4=] 16...Rxb7 17.Ba5 h5 18.g5 e5 19.Nc3 [19.0-0-0 Be7 20.Rhe1 0-0=] 19...Ra7 [19...Nxc3! 20.Bxc3 b4 21.Bd2 Bc5=/+] 20.Bb6 Ra6 21.Nxe4 Rxb6 22.0-0-0 f5 23.Nc3 b4 24.Nd5 Rb7 25.Rhe1 e4 26.Nf4 Kf7?! [26...Rg8=] 27.Rd5?! [Houdini 3 would keep playing with 27.g6+! Kf6 28.Rd8+/-] 1/2-1/2

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

Book Review: Dark Knight System James Schuyler

Recently I bought a new book by James Schuyler entitled "The Dark Knight System: a repertoire with 1...Nc6", published by Everyman Chess in 2013. That is a nice descriptive title for a major branch of the Queen's Knight Defence. This book interested me greatly since I have played 1...Nc6 as Black vs everything a total of about 3000 times (counting both blitz and tournament games). And, we all have to face 1...Nc6 when we play White.

Who is this chess author? Page 3 has this note About the Author:  "James Schuyler is a FIDE Master. He was Nevada State Champion in 2007 and won the Virginia State Championship in both 2011 and 2012. He has been teaching chess for over 25 years."

The Dark Knight System teaches how to play a well-coordinated method of development as Black that helps you to win future chess games. Why call it "Dark" Knight? We begin with the Black horse that starts on a dark square. From 1...Nc6, this knight hits important dark squares, often preparing ...e5. The knight works in conjunction with the dark squared bishop. Starting from Bf8, the author has this bishop going to Bb4, Bc5, Bd6, Be7, Bg7 or even Bh6 (all depending on what White does).

Everything in the book is helpful. Schuyler's concepts are understandable. After a lengthy introduction, there are 10 chapters with specific theory. There are just over 50 branches of analysis going about 10 moves deeper. 500 positions is manageable if you plan to master the main lines to an expert level. Or on an easier practical level, you can play games with 1...Nc6, and look up the recommendations afterwards. Starting on page 134 are 100 annotated games, illustrating how to go from the opening to the finish.

Here is a summary of the ten theory chapters:
          1. - 1.d4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 (King's Indian Defence ideas)
          2. - 1.d4 Nc6 2.c4 e5 (Kevitz System)
          3. - 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5 Ne5 (Bogoljubow Defence)
          4. - 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 e5 (Mikenas System)
          5. - 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d6 (Classical Pirc)
          6. - 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nc3 Nf6 (Mestrovic)
          7. - 1.c4 Nc6 2.Nc3 e5 (English Opening with 3...f5)
          8. - 1.Nf3 Nc6 2.g3 e5 (Pirc Reversed with 4...g6)
          9. - 1.g3 Nc6; 1.Nc3 Nc6 (vs all others 1...g6)
         10. - Miscellaneous Topics: cutting the workload and Light Knight System

I highly recommend the book. This system is less popular, but many grandmasters play it, so we know it is sound. The benefits are real. Houdini supports all the analysis. The only minor problem I found was a bold headline before Game 22 on page 152 that reads "No problems for Black after 3...Bb4+ 4.Bd2", with which I agree. But it is placed on a page where the games had 4.Nd2 instead. No big deal. A minor editorial glitch.
If you are looking for a new opening as Black, this book provides a good option.

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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