Sunday, October 19, 2014

Alexey Bezgodov in Extreme Caro-Kann 3.f3

The book by GM Alexey Bezgodov is entitled "The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking Black with 3.f3". It provides White an approach against the Caro-Kann Defence using the Fantasy Variation move 3.f3 in a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit style. This system is really an aggressive attempt to hinder the development of Black's light squared bishop, which is so key in this opening. The book by the Russian grandmaster is published by New In Chess in 2014 with 272 pages. The back covers reads:

"This strange looking move was already played by former greats Gena Maroczy and World Champion Vassily Smyslov, but the idea has come to fruition in the hands of modern world-class players like Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Morozevich and Judit Polgar."

I was surprised by the move 3.f3 from "blik" in one of our games Internet Chess Club blitz games. Below I got into trouble combining the natural logical moves 5...Bg4 with 6...Nf6. Our game demonstrates one idea that can lead White to a quick tactical victory.

blik (2441) - Sawyer (2155), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 23.03.2012 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 [If 6.c3 Nd7 White has 7.Bd3 by Hou Yifan or 7.Be2 by Houdini] 6...Nf6? [6...Nd7=] 7.Bxf7+! Kxf7 8.Nxe5+ Kg8 9.Nxg4 Nxg4 10.Qxg4 Qd7 11.Qxd7 Nxd7 12.e5 Be7 13.0-0 Rf8 14.Rxf8+ Nxf8 15.Be3 Ne6 16.Nc3 a6 17.Ne4 Kf7 18.Rf1+ Ke8 19.c4 Rf8 20.Rxf8+ Kxf8 21.d5 Black resigns 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Invent New Opening 1.Nh3!?

How can you invent a chess opening? Look for rarely played early moves around which you can develop a reasonable plan for all your pieces. Focus on the center of the board for a good chess opening. I am impressed at how my Internet Chess Club opponent "stemli" developed 1.Nh3 into a sensible system. His plan is: 2.g3 with 3.f4. Moves like 4.d4 and 6.Nf2 and 8.Bg2 are common. His pawns fight for dark squares and his pieces for light squares, like a reversed Modern Defence 1...g6 with Nh6-Nf7.

Nothing is completely original. Charles Amar and Dr. Tartakower played this in Paris, France in the 1930s. But "stemli" makes it his own, having played many of his 26,000 blitz games in this line. Experience allows him to play his moves rapidly. Our hero "stemli" is rated in the 1800s, but ICC blitz ratings fluctuate. Three weeks after this game, "stemli" reached a rating of 2034. Most players would love to perform at the Expert level, even if only occasionally. He executes a reasonable plan quickly. After he completes his development, White aggressively attacks his opponent's king.

His ICC finger notes quote Capablanca: "A good player is always lucky". 1.Nh3 is risky but great for blitz! We all miss stuff and his opening is threatening. The notes below include some lines from other games we played. This time I won, but not always.

stemli (1820) - Sawyer (1921), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 24.07.2014 begins 1.Nh3 d5 [1...Nc6 2.g3 d5 3.f4 e5 4.fxe5 Nxe5 5.d4 Nc6 6.Nf2 Nf6 7.Bg2 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0=] 2.g3 e5 3.f4 e4 [3...Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.0-0 fxg3 6.hxg3 Nf6 7.d4 Bd6=/+] 4.d4 exd3 5.cxd3 Nf6 [5...c6 6.Nf2 Nf6=] 6.Nf2 Bc5 7.e3 0-0 8.Bg2 Re8 9.d4 Bd6 10.0-0 c6 11.Qf3 h5 12.Nc3 Bg4 13.Nxg4 hxg4 14.Qf2 Ne4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.f5 Nd7 17.Bd2 Nf6 18.Bc3 Nd5 19.Qe2 Qg5 20.Rf2 Qxe3 21.Qxe3 Nxe3 22.Rf4 [White had to play 22.Bh1 Nd5 23.Re2 Bb4=/+] 22...Nxg2 [Obviously I should have grabbed the rook instead of the bishop. 22...Bxf4 23.gxf4 Rad8-+] 23.Rxg4 Ne3 24.Rg5 Nd5 25.Re1 f6 26.Rg6 Kf7 27.g4 Nf4 [White resigns] 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Schmoldt vs Muhr Lemberger 4.dxe5

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit was avoided with a BDG Lemberger 3...e5 in a game played last month between Ruediger Schmoldt of Germany and Andreas Muhr of Austria that began as a Scandinavian Defence 1.e4 d5 2.d4. White chose the same 4.dxe5 drawish line that I had tried vs Tim Harding. In that game I continued 5.Nxd1 and was outplayed by my Irish opponent. In the game below Schmoldt chose 5.Kxd1.

Being unable to castle is not such a problem when the queens are off the board and no pieces are developed. The main thing is to coordinate your own pieces and to make sure all the key squares are protected. With that taken care of, you have to look for ways to unbalance the position in hopes of victory. Schmoldt tries the risky 11.e6!? and Muhr manages to obtain a small advantage.

Schmoldt (2147) - Muhr (1962), 30th Faaker See Open 2014 Latschach AUT (6.11), 13.08.2014 begins 1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.dxe5 Qxd1+ 5.Kxd1 [Another popular continuation is 5.Nxd1 Nc6 6.Bf4 (6.Nc3!? Nb4 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Bxd7+ Kxd7 9.Kd1=) 6...Nge7 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.Nc3=] 5...Bg4+ 6.Be2 Bxe2+ 7.Ngxe2 Nc6 8.Bf4 0-0-0+ 9.Kc1 Nge7 10.Nxe4 Ng6 11.e6!? [11.Rd1=] 11...Nd4 12.N4g3 Nxe6 13.Be3 Nh4 14.Rg1 Bd6 15.c3 f5 16.Nd4 [16.Nh5 g5=/+] 16...Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Rhe8 18.Kc2 f4 19.Nh5 Nf5 [19...Re2+! 20.Kb3 Nf5-/+] 20.Bxg7 [20.Rae1=] 20...Nxg7 [20...Re2+!-/+] 21.Nxg7 Re2+ 22.Kb3 Bf8 [22...Be5 23.Nf5 Rdd2=/+] 23.Nh5 Rdd2 24.Rab1 b5 25.Nxf4 a5 26.a3 Rxf2 27.Rgf1 Rxb2+ 28.Rxb2 Rxf1 29.Ne6 Bd6 30.Nd4 b4 31.axb4 axb4 32.cxb4 Bxh2 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stephen O'Shea Hot Queens Gambit

We were hot. Burning hot in Hatboro. The air conditioning was not working this day at the tournament site. I was sweating like a pig while trying to play serious chess. How do you handle poor playing conditions? As a young man in 1981, I handled it very foolishly. The temperature reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit on this Sunday in Philadelphia. The front doors to the building were left wide open so that at least we would get some moving air from outside as we crowded around the chess tables inside. The air was still.

Our opening an Orthodox Queens Gambit Declined which leads to longer games. My opponent for the fourth round was Stephen O'Shea. He had to be as uncomfortable as I and everyone else in the room was. I lived in the South 1977-1980, but by the summer of 1981, my body reacclimated itself to Northern weather. Our bodies naturally thicken our blood in cold climates to conserve heat and thin our blood to release heat in hot climates. Now in Florida my body is used to 95 degree temperatures, but not in 1981 Philly.

So what did I do? I decided to play my tournament game as if it was blitz chess. My opponent was rated 300 points below me. All things being equal the odds of me winning were excellent. But my choice to play without much thought was stupid. O'Shea wisely played at a normal pace. For the first dozen moves we played a well-known solid book line. Three months earlier I had won a club game vs John Mack with the move 13.Qb1, a favorite of Najdorf. In later years I preferred 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.f4 and tried to outplay my opponents from an equal but unbalanced position.

In the game below I am winning through move 27. Then I throw it all away in the heat of the moment with blunders on moves 28 and 29. Now fired up I stubbornly suffer on until move 65. Stephen O'Shea holds his advantage and earns a well deserved victory. USCF lists shows one Stephen O'Shea who obtained a rating in the 1700s and plays in tournaments down South in the Huntsville, Alabama. I wish him well.

Sawyer (1887) - O'Shea (1583), Hatboro,PA (4), 19.07.1981 begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 c6 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nd5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.0-0 Nxc3 12.Rxc3 e5 13.Qb1 [This is a rare line meant to support b4 and cover the b1-h7 diagonal. More common are either 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.f4 Qe4=; or 13.Qc2 exd4 14.exd4 Nb6 15.Re1 Qd8 16.Bb3 Nd5 17.Bxd5 Qxd5=] 13...e4 14.Nd2 Nf6 15.Rfc1 [15.b4+/=] 15...Bf5 16.b4 Qd7 17.a4 Rac8 18.Be2 Rfe8 19.b5 Nd5 20.Rc5 Rc7 21.Bc4 Nb6 22.Bb3 Rcc8 23.a5 Nd5 24.Ba4 [24.a6!+-] 24...Re6 25.Bb3 [White is winning after 25.bxc6 bxc6 26.Rxd5 Qxd5 27.Rc5 Qd6 28.Rxf5+-] 25...Ree8 26.bxc6 [White wins material with 26.a6 Ne7 27.Nc4 Bg6 28.Ne5 Qc7 29.axb7 Qxb7 30.bxc6+-] 26...bxc6 27.Ba4 Re6 [27...Ne7 28.Nxe4+/-] 28.f3?! [Again 28.Rxd5! Qxd5 29.Rc5 Qd6 30.Rxf5+-] 28...Nxe3 29.Nxe4? [Throwing everything away in the heat of the moment. Chances are roughly equal after 29.Qb2=] 29...Bxe4 30.fxe4 Qxd4 31.Qa1 Qd2 32.Rg5 Rg6 33.Rcc5 h6 34.Qc3 Qxc3 [Fastest is to threaten checkmate with 34...Rf6! 35.h3 Qf2+ 36.Kh2 hxg5-+ leaves Black up a rook with a mating attack.] 35.Rxc3 Rxg5 36.Rxe3 Rxa5 37.Bb3 Re5 38.Kf2 c5 39.Bd5 Re7 40.Ke2 a5 41.Ra3 Ra7 42.Kd3 Kf8 43.Kc4 Ke7 44.e5 Rb8 45.Kxc5 Rc7+ 46.Kd4 Rb4+ 47.Ke3 Rc5 48.Bf3 Rxe5+ 49.Kd3 Rc5 50.Ke3 Rb6 51.Kd4 Kd6 52.h3 Rb4+ 53.Kd3 Kc7 54.Kd2 Kb6 55.Kd3 a4 56.Kd2 [If 56.Bd1 Kb5 57.Ra1 Rd5+ 58.Ke3 f5-+ Black is still winning easily.] 56...Ka5 57.Rd3 Rcb5 58.Rd6 a3 59.Be2 Rb2+ 60.Ke1 Re5 61.Ra6+ Kb4 62.Rb6+ Kc3 63.Rc6+ Kb3 64.Kf1 Rexe2 65.h4 Rec2 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sawyer Gambit 7.g4!? in Benko

Paul Norton played the Benko Gambit vs me in 1981 at Allentown, Pennsylvania. Inspiration of the moment led me to a wild sacrifice that was a picture of my future gambit self. The Sawyer Gambit vs the Benko Gambit is the enterprising idea 7.g4!? that I invented on the spot. The idea is to gain time by quickly attacking the center and Black's kingside before he could attack my queenside.

The concept of deflecting Black's Nf6 away from e4 makes sense on some level. There is the Shirov-Shabalov Gambit in the Semi-Slav after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4!? which is a hot topic nowadays. In our Benko, my 7.g4!? gambit worked in the sense that I took my opponent out of opening theory that he probably knew better than me. I got enough play to survive over the board in the final round while his clock was ticking. And yes, clocks actually did tick tock back then.

At some point in the year 1981 my rating was 1887. I use that rating for all my USCF games in 1981, though I was rapidly moving into the 1900s. All my opponents in this tournament were rated above me and I scored 2-3.

Loss vs David Kistler in Benoni Defence
Draw vs David Kushner in Gruenfeld Defence
Win vs Bruce Davis in Caro-Kann Defence
Loss vs William Dempler in Nimzo-Indian Defence
Draw vs Paul Norton in Benko Gambit (below)

Sawyer (1887) - Norton (1915), Allentown,PA (5), 14.06.1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.g4!? [7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1+/=] 7...Nxg4 8.e4 Ne5 [8...Bxf1 9.Kxf1 Nf6=/+] 9.f4 Bxf1 [Or 9...Ned7=] 10.Kxf1 Ned7 11.Nf3 g6 12.h4 Bg7 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.Rxh8+ Bxh8 16.Bd2 Qa6+ 17.Qe2 Qxe2+ 18.Kxe2 Na6 19.a3 c4 20.Be3 Rb8 21.Bd4 Bxd4 22.Nxd4 Rxb2+ 23.Ke3 Rg2 24.Nde2 g5 25.Kf3 Rh2 26.fxg5 Ne5+ 27.Ke3 Nc5 28.a4 Ned3 29.Kf3 Ne5+ 30.Kg3 Rh5 31.a5 Rxg5+ [Probably Black offered a draw here. He has an extra pawn and seems to stand slightly better. However, White has a passed pawn and his knights are in a solid position. Black cannot easily make progress and our ratings were close enough so that a draw will hardly move them. We were both out of the running for any prizes.] 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Jeffrey Baffo Bold Benko Gambit

Jeff Baffo we played many openings in our 1996 matches. In one game Baffo, boldly played the Benko Gambit. I chose the popular 5.e3 line, which was all the rage at the time. Everything was going well until I blundered on move 23.

Americans owe the inventor of this gambit, Grandmaster Pal Benko, a lot of respect. Benko was born in France, raised in Hungary and emigrated to the United States. He qualified for the world championship cycle 1970-72. Grandmaster Pal Benko stepped aside to let Bobby Fischer take his place in the Interzonal. Without Benko's sacrifice, there is probably no Fischer-Spassky match in Reykjavik.

There is a chess saying: Patzer sees check. Patzer gives check. Patzer loses. In this game I creatively sacrificed a knight for pawns. By move 15, I had two passed b-pawns; and 15 moves later, my b-pawns were gone and I was down a knight for a pawn. Once again, Jeffrey Baffo played with energy and accuracy.

Sawyer (1980) - Baffo (2252), corr USCF 95P139, 08.04.1996 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.e3 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.a4 Bb7 9.Rb1 e6 10.dxe6 fxe6 11.Be2 d5 12.0-0 axb5 13.axb5 Nbd7 14.b4 c4 15.Nd4 Qe8 16.e4 Nb6 17.Nc6 Bxc6 18.bxc6 Qxc6 19.exd5 exd5 20.Be3 Nfd7 21.Bd4 Ra3 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Qd4+? [23.Qd2=] 23...Qf6 24.Qxf6+ Rxf6 25.Nxd5? [25.Nb5 Ra2=/+] 25...Nxd5 26.Bxc4 N7b6 27.Bxd5 Nxd5 28.b5 Nc3 29.Rb2 Rb6 30.h3 Rxb5 31.Rc2 Kf6 32.Rfc1 Nd5 33.Rd2 Rab3 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Helin vs Skovgaard in Huebsch Gambit

Many players from Sweden play the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Recently Mikael Helin defeated his higher rated opponent Ib Skovgaard of Denmark in the 5.Bf4 variation of a BDG Huebsch Gambit. The 5.Bf4 line Helin chose tries to prevent 5...e5 and prepare White to castle queenside. It has been seen more since Christoph Scheerer wrote his book on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Slightly more popular than 5.Bf4 are 5.Be3 and the traditional 5.Bc4, while less common is 5.f3. All four moves score about the same.

In the game below, Black counter attacks d4 with 6...c5, giving White three choices: (a) prepare to castle with 7.Qd2; (b) snatch the pawn with 7.dxc5; or (c) walk on by with 7.d5, which was White's actual selection. The battle took place all over the board, until the Black king was checkmated on the b-file.

Helin (1885) - Skovgaard (2019), Politiken Cup 2014 Helsingor DEN (8.102), 27.07.2014 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Bf4 Nd7 6.f3 c5 7.d5!? [Logical, although not the only alternative: 7.Qd2 Qb6 8.0-0-0 cxd4 9.Qxd4 Qxd4 10.Rxd4 exf3 11.Nxf3=; 7.dxc5 e5 8.Be3 Bxc5 9.Bxc5 Nxc5 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.0-0-0+ Ke7 12.Rd5 b6 13.Rxe5+ Kf6 14.Rd5=] 7...Nf6 [Black could play 7...Qb6!=/+ when White does not have time to castle.] 8.fxe4 Nxe4 9.Qd3 Nd6 10.0-0-0 a6 11.Qf3 g6 12.g4 Bg7 13.h4 Qb6 14.c3 h5 15.gxh5 Rxh5 16.Bg5 Bf5 17.Re1 [If 17.Bd3 Bxd3 18.Qxd3 Qb5-/+] 17...0-0-0 [17...Qa5!-+] 18.Rxe7 c4 19.Bh3 Rxh4 [19...Bh6 20.Bxh6 Rxh6=] 20.Bxf5+ Nxf5 21.Bxh4 Nxh4 22.Qxf7 [White wins with 22.Rxh4! Qxg1+ 23.Kc2 Qc5 24.d6+-] 22...Nf5 23.Re8 Bh6+ 24.Kb1 Bg5 25.Nf3 Rxe8 26.Qxe8+ Bd8 27.Rh7 Nd6 28.Qd7+ Kb8 29.Rh8 Ka7 30.Nd4 [30.Qxd8!+-] 30...Bc7 31.Rh7 Nb5 32.d6 Nxc3+ 33.Kc2 Qxd4 34.dxc7 Nd5 35.c8N+ Kb8 36.Qxb7# 1-0

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