Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tribute to Jim Warren: Elo Expert

Chess expert Jim Warren outplayed Bobby Fischer twice in the Sicilian Defence.
This same James E. Warren developed the computer program for Elo chess ratings.

On Friday, December 12, 2014, Tim Just posted the following:
"Helen Warren informed me this AM that her husband Jim Warren died. His heart gave out. I have few details. The death notice and funeral details will be in the Chicago Tribune a week from Saturday, according to Helen.
"Jim worked with Elo in developing the ratings formula. Along with Helen he ran APCT for years. They sponsored many Master chess events over the years, including the U.S. Masters."

When professor Arpad Elo produced the FIDE Rating List in 1969 he wrote:
"Grateful acknowledgement is made to Mr. James Warren of Western Springs, Illinois, who wrote the computer program for the method of successive approximations and performed the computation for the 200 selected players."
Arpad E. Elo, Member, FIDE Qualification Committee, USCF Ratings Chairman

Jim Brotsos, Co-founder of the Chicago Industrial Chess League wrote in part:
"Jim Warren has already received mention as one of the pillars of the League. In addition, he has had leadership roles in the Illinois Chess Association and the APCT. In 1997 he received the U.S.C.F. Meritorious Service Award for helping to establish the FIDE rating system. He and his wife have sponsored major regional tournaments and the U.S. Masters, often acting as financial patrons... They are, no doubt, the most influential couple in the history of Midwestern American chess. Jim has a significant collection of chessmen and one of the largest collections of chess books/magazines in the Midwest."

Robert James Fischer was born March 9, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, but Fischer grew up in New York. He returned to Chicago on March 23, 1964 for his simultaneous exhibition tour and scored +49 =4 -1. Just two months later in another simul Bobby Fischer scored +44 =5 -1 in Cicero, Illinois on May 20, 1964. In both, Bobby Fischer played the same first 18 moves vs Jim Warren in the sharp 6.Bc4 Sozin line of the Sicilian Defence. Jim Warren won a pawn in each game. Fischer had to fight hard to draw. In early 2015, I hope to post my own games vs Jim Warren.

Fischer - Warren, Cicero simul 20.05.1964 begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.Be3 0-0 9.0-0 Bd7 [9...a6=] 10.f4 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bc6 12.Qe2 b5 13.Nxb5 Bxb5 14.Qxb5 Nxe4 15.f5!? Bf6 [15...e5 16.Be3 Bg5 17.Bxg5 Qxg5=] 16.Qd3 Bxd4+ [16...d5!=] 17.Qxd4 d5 18.c4 [White should play 18.fxe6! fxe6 19.c4+/=] 18...dxc4 19.Qxe4! [An improvement over their earlier meeting in the Chicago simul where Fischer played the weaker 19.Qxd8?! Rfxd8 20.Bxc4 Nd2 21.Rfc1 Nxc4 22.Rxc4 exf5=/+. Warren was up two f-pawns in a rook ending. But late in a simul when other games are done, the grandmaster returns faster and play speeds up. Mistakes on moves 56 and 64 allowed White to escape with a draw on move 67.] 19...cxb3 20.fxe6 Qb6+ 21.Kh1 fxe6 22.axb3 Qxb3 23.h3 Qxb2 24.Qxe6+ Kh8 25.Qe7 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 h6 27.Rf8+ Rxf8 28.Qxf8+ Kh7 29.Qf5+ Kg8 30.Qc8+ Kh7 31.Qf5+ g6 32.Qa5 Qb6 33.Qa2 Qb7 34.Qa1 Qc7 1/2-1/2 [Black cannot make progress with his extra a-pawn.]

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Milner-Barry Gambit vs French by Mastin

Before I took up the BDG chess opening, I played the BDF. That is, before I played the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, I played the Bird, the Dutch and the French. E. Olin Mastin Jr. choose a gambit vs my French Defence invented by a famous and notable player. We reached an Advance Variation where White boldly played the Milner-Barry Gambit 6.Bd3!? in round one of a Lansdale, Pennsylvania tournament.

Philip Stuart Milner-Barry (1906-1995) was an original contributor to many significant chess openings. As White, Milner-Barry beat Pal Benko with the 2.c3 Sicilian. He drew Jose Capablanca in a Sicilian Dragon, and he defeated Jacques Mieses in a famous Queens Knight Defence with 5.f3 BDG style. As Black, he drew Samuel Reshevsky in 4.Qc2 Nc6 Nimzo-Indian Defence and Vera Menchik in the Bogo-Indian. Milner-Barry played hundreds of games vs masters for over 50 years. It is no shame that he also lost to the likes of Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe and Botvinnik, all world champions. He is also famous for the Caro-Kann Milner-Barry variation which I wrote about in games by Andrew Martin, Roald Berthelsen and Warren Curtis.

At I found this En Passant article that mentions Olin Mastin, Gary Stevens, Donald Funk, Glenn Snyder, and Roger Morin. All are players that I have played or written about in my blog. Below, following my inaccurate play on move 11 and my blunder on move 21, Olin Mastin stood well until move 23.

Mastin (1767) - Sawyer (1981), Lansdale PA (1), 1985 begins 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 [This is a gambit. More popular are 6.a3= or 6.Be2=] 6...cxd4 7.cxd4 Bd7 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 a6! [I considered taking the second pawn with 10...Qxe5 but White has a promising attack for the two pawns after 11.Re1 Qd6 (or 11...Qb8 12.Nxd5 Bd6 13.Qg4=) 12.Nb5 Qb6 13.Be3=] 11.Qe2 Bb4!? [The traditional main line is 11...Ne7 12.Kh1 Nc6 13.f4 Nb4 14.Rd1 Nxd3 15.Rxd3 Qb6 16.Be3 Bc5 17.Bxc5 Qxc5=/+; Maybe even better is 11...Rc8! 12.Rd1 Bc5 13.Bc2 Qh4-/+] 12.Bd2 [12.Rd1=] 12...Ne7 13.a3 Ba5 14.Kh1 Bc7 15.f4 Qa7 16.Qg4 g6 17.Rf3 0-0-0 18.Rc1 Nc6 19.Ne2 Kb8 20.Qg3 Rc8 21.b4 Nd4? [21...h5 22.a4 h4=/+] 22.Nxd4 Qxd4 23.Bc3? [23.Be3! Qb2 24.Qe1+/=] 23...Qa7 24.Be1 Bb6 25.Rxc8+ Rxc8 26.h4 h5 27.Kh2 [If 27.Bd2 Bb5 28.Bxb5 axb5-/+] 27...Bd4 [Houdini likes 27...Rc1!-+] 28.Qg5 [28.f5!? gxf5 29.Rxf5 Be8-/+] 28...Qb6 29.Qe7 Be8 30.a4 Qc7 31.Qxc7+ Rxc7 32.b5 axb5 33.axb5 Bc3 34.Bxc3 Rxc3 35.Be2 Rxf3 36.Bxf3 Bxb5 37.Kg1 Kc7 38.Kf2 Kc6 39.Ke3 Kc5 40.Kd2 [Or 40.g4 hxg4 41.Bxg4 Be8 42.Kd3 b5 43.Bd1 b4 44.h5 gxh5 45.Bxh5 d4-+] 40...Kd4 41.g3 Bd3 42.Bd1 b5 43.Bb3 b4 44.Ba4 Kc4 45.Bd1 b3 46.Bxb3+ Kxb3 47.Kxd3 Kb4 48.Kd4 Kb5 49.Kd3 Kc5 50.Kc3 d4+ 51.Kd3 Kd5 52.Kd2 Ke4 53.Ke2 d3+ 54.Kd2 Kd4 55.Kd1 Ke3 56.Ke1 d2+ 57.Kd1 Kd3 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chess Coach Chris Merli vs Dutch Defence

I had the privilege of playing Chris Merli with my Dutch Defence in postal chess 23 years ago. Christopher Merli is a biology teacher who became a notable chess coach with many successes. As a player Chris is a tournament Expert sometimes rated in the 2100s. Here are interesting quotes taken from one University of Illinois article.

     “Chess is a game of pure strategy,” Merli explains. “There is no luck and no bad bounces. In chess, it comes down to if you or your opponent plays better.”
     “I played sports when I was younger,” he says, “but I was always told I was not big enough for the team. No one ever said that when I sat in front of the board in a chess game.”
     “Chess trains you to realize the importance of thinking, planning, and patience,” he says. “It also teaches the value of persistence. The best players are not necessarily the greatest minds or have the deepest knowledge. The truly great players are those that treat every move as critical, and battle with themselves as much as their opponent to find the best move in every position.

Good stuff. His comment on size reminds me of World Champion Anatoly Karpov and Olympic ice skater Scott Hamilton. In the trendy Leningrad Dutch 7...Qe8 Malaniuk variation below, we both had chances but in the end agreed to a draw. I do not know what our ratings were at the time, nor which section this 1989 USCF Golden Knights Postal Chess tournament game came from. By this 1991 round game we were probably out of the running for any prize money. I was rated over 2200 in 1990, and his current postal rating is 1927. I am guessing our ratings were close to each other at that time.

Merli - Sawyer, corr USCF 1991 begins 1.c4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.d4 d6 7.Nc3 Qe8 8.Re1 Qf7 9.b3 Ne4 10.Bb2 Nc6 [10...Nd7 11.e3 Ndf6 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.Qe2 c6=] 11.Rf1 Nxc3 12.Bxc3 h6 13.Qc2 Bd7 14.Rad1 Rae8 15.d5 Nd8 16.Nd4 [Sharper play would follow after 16.Bxg7 Qxg7 17.c5 f4 18.Nd4+/-] 16...a6 17.e4 f4 18.e5 Bxe5 19.Be4 Kg7 20.b4 g5 [20...Qf6=/+] 21.c5 Qh5 22.Nf5+ Kg8 [Black could have won material with 22...Rxf5! 23.Bxf5 Bxf5 24.Bxe5+ (24.Qxf5 Bxc3-+) 24...Kg6-+] 23.Bxe5 dxe5 24.d6 exd6+/- 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Purser Mad Dog Attack Blackmar-Diemer

Yesterday my wife gave me a clipping from a local paper with the following joke:
     A man went to visit a friend and was amazed to find him playing chess with his dog. He watched the game in astonishment for a while. "I can hardly believe my eyes!" he exclaimed. "That's the smartest dog I've ever seen." "Nah, he's not so smart," the friend replied. "I've beaten him three games out of five."

Tom Purser provided us with a creative idea in the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit which he called the "Mad Dog Attack". It follows 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 with 7.h4!?, worked on with his dog present. In his BDG World magazine Tom Purser describes it this way:

"When I first showed this move to our English Bulldog Polly, she let out a yelp and ran under the bed. At first I was offended, but then it occurred to me that she has the same reaction to a strong bolt of lightning. She came out when I started to play through some of the games. Intellectual curiosity, I think, although my wife says it was the Alpo."

Tom Purser had quick success after 7.h4!? in the BDG Bogoljubow. I quote his game below vs T. Giles (including Purser's own notes). You can teach an old dog new tricks. Tom's approach to the game was a great encouragement when I needed it in the 1980s. Discovering ideas in the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is still fun today. Enjoy!

Purser - Giles, Stuttgart, Germany 1980 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h4 [I began some postal games with this line in 1979, but the first completed game was this one played over the board.] 7...0-0 8.h5 Nxh5 9.Rxh5 gxh5 10.Qd3 [The basic, if somewhat crude, idea of all this is a direct mating attack with 11.Ng5.] 10...e5? 11.Ng5 e4 12.Qxe4 Bf5? [White need not fear a pin on his Queen since on 12...Re8 or 12...Qe8 he has 13.Bxf7+] 13.Qxf5 Qe7+ 14.Ne2 Rd8 15.Bxf7+ Kf8 16.Nxh7# [It's better not to test a new idea against the strongest opposition the first time out.] 1-0 [Notes by Purser]

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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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. More games with 3.f3 will follow on Caro-Kann Sundays over the next month.

Links to my dozen favorite "blik" posts by opening include:
BDG Teichmann 5.Nxf3 Bg4
BDG Bogoljubow 5.Nxf3 g6
BDG Declined Vienna 4.f3 Bf5
Petroff Defence 5.Qe2
Petroff Defence 5.c4
Petroff Defence 3.Bc4
Ruy Lopez Schliemann 3.Bb5 f5
Elephant Gambit (Reversed)
Slav Defence 4.cxd5
Albin Counter Gambit 5.g3
Queens Knight Defence 1.e4 Nc6
London System 3.Bf4 g6

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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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Baffo Alekhine Two Pawns Attack

I am ready for my monthly Baffo Bashing, but this time as Black I managed to hold him back. Jeffrey Baffo began with 1.e4 and I defended with the Alekhine Defence, one of my most successful defences. In our 12 match games, Jeff Baffo and I chose a wide variety of openings. Here Baffo chooses the Two Pawns Attack with 2.e5 and 4.c5 favored by many attacking players who prefer White in the Sicilian Defence Alapin variation that begins 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5. Some of those lines can transpose to some of the Alekhine Two Pawns, although either side can avoid the transpositions.

Two Pawns is also called the Alekhine Chase Variation. Transpositions to Sicilians come from challenging advanced White pawns with 6...d6, while 6...b6 stays strictly in the Alekhine. The tricky part following the maze of Sicilians is that they reach the same position as Alekhines one move quicker, so the numbers are off. For example, after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d6 6.Nf3 e6 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Qc7 we reach the 9...Qc7 position in our game below. GM Evgeny Sveshnikov (famous for a Black Sicilian line) plays this position as White against both opening move orders.

Sveshnikov prefers the move 9.Bd2 (via Sicilian) or 10.Bd2 (via Alekhine). However in 2012, the grandmaster did play Baffo's move 10.Qb3!? where he followed the line 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bd6 14.Bb5+ and 1-0 in 37 moves (Sveshnikov-Degraeve, 28th Cappelle Open, 2012). In our USCF correspondence game below, we exchanged into a roughly equal bishop ending where Baffo and I agreed to a draw.

Baffo (2273) - Sawyer (1960), corr USCF 95P135, 18.03.1996 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Nc3 [5.Bc4 e6=] 5...e6 6.d4 d6 7.cxd6 cxd6 8.Nf3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qc7 10.Qb3!? [10.Bd2= is the normal book move.] 10...Nd7 11.Bf4 dxe5 12.Nxe5 [12.Bxe5 Sveshnikov] 12...Bd6 13.Bg3 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Be7 15.Bb5+ Bd7 16.Bxd7+ Qxd7 17.0-0 0-0 18.Rab1 b6 19.Rfd1 Qc7 20.Rd3 Rfd8 21.Rbd1 Rxd3 22.Rxd3 Rd8 23.Qd1 Kf8 [If I wanted to try for more, Houdini suggests 23...Rxd3 24.Qxd3 g5=/+ but I had no energy for that in 1996.] 24.Rd4 Rxd4 25.Qxd4 Qd8 26.Qxd8+ Bxd8 27.Kf1= 1/2-1/2

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