Saturday, August 16, 2014

Peter Webster on Kampars, Fischer and Diemer

Peter Webster portrays the life of Nikolajs Kampars, editor of BDG Magazine, and chess players Nick Kampars met along his journey from Latvia to Wisconsin in a story that is well worth reading. He drew Bobby Fischer in a Caro-Kann Defence below.

   "This information comes from two visits to Nikolajs Kampars at his home and one with his family after his death.
   "When I met Mr. Kampars, he was living with his wife and sister in the lower portion of a Victorian-era home in Milwaukee. A brother lived nearby; I do not know if there were other living relatives. He had heart trouble and had retired from his work in a bakery.
   "In Latvia he had been a member of the judicial system. I was not able to work out which position in the United States would have been most comparable to the one he held. His father had been a police chief in Russia during the Czarist regime. One of the few things which the family had brought with them when they escaped from Latvia was an oil painting of their father in dress uniform; this was hanging on the dining room wall. He told me that once he and his brother entered the police station and found the entire staff asleep. It was the custom in those days to have waxed mustaches with the ends curling upwards, and the two boys were unable to resist the temptation to clip the ends off those mustaches!
   "When Soviet troops entered the Baltic states. thousands of people fled. For the Kampars family this was a life-or-death decision; the Soviets were under orders to eliminate anyone who might be antagonistic to the Communist regime (I have read an estimate that eleven thousand Latvians were murdered and thousands more deported to Siberia), and as the family of a Czarist police official they would have been on this list even though their father had died between the World Wars. Some Estonians were able to enter Finland, with which there was then a common border, but Lithuanians and Latvians had nowhere to go but German-controlled territory. The family was fortunate to reach a camp in Austria, which was not overrun by the Soviet armies.
   "All I learned of his chess life in Latvia is that he and his brother were given lessons by Aaron Nimzovich and that at one point he was the librarian for the national organization. The book Alekhine in Europe and Asia (Donaldson, Minev, and Seirawan) includes a simul loss by Alekhine in Riga, Latvia, against "Kampar" (see p. 98); no initial, and the final "s" is missing, but this may well have been Nick Games from a tournament held in the Austrian DP camp indicate that he was a conservative player with a classical style and opening repertoire; the gambit ideas for which he became known when he published Opening Adventures were not typical of his crossboard play. He became one of the best in Wisconsin using this classical style; before I began to play tournament chess he drew against a very young Bobby Fischer as Black in a Caro-Kann, (he also lost one to Fischer) and my records show that in the 1958 North Central Open in Milwaukee (Pal Benko headed a field of 88) he was the top Wisconsin player (4-1,2) and repeated this in the 1959 Western Open (4-1,3) (Benko again, 112 players) and 1959 North Central Open (4-0,3) (master Curt Brasket of Minnesota won ahead of future world correspondence champion Hans Berliner, 90 players, Kampars 5th). I don't know whether he ever competed outside Milwaukee. His USCF rating was Expert.
   "I do not know how Mr. Kampars became aware of the German master Emil J. Diemer. The family participated in European chess life to some extent. His sister told me that GM Savielly Tartakower wrote a poem for her! He would occasionally send the aging Diemer a little money when he could spare it; he showed me a strange letter which seemed to indicate that Mr. Diemer had some sort of mental glitch, although he noted that other letters gave no indication of problems.
   "Although I did not see a pet in the home, copies of the bulletin of the Milwaukee Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were on the sideboard. Appropriate reading material for a gentle man and gentleman.
   "Peter Webster"

Thank you for that wonderful piece! The USCF Master Peter Webster is a long time Blackmar-Diemer Gambit player whom I mentioned in the Introduction to my BDG books. Here is a Caro-Kann Defence that Nick Kampars drew Bobby Fischer.

Robert J Fischer - Nikolajs Kampars, Milwaukee WI 1957 begins 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 [4...Bh5!?] 5.Qxf3 e6 6.d4 [6.d3 d4=] 6...Nd7 7.Bd3 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Ngf6 9.0-0 Nxe4 10.Qxe4 Nf6 11.Qe3 Nd5 [11...Bd6!?] 12.Qf3 Qf6 13.Qxf6 Nxf6 14.Rd1 0-0-0 15.Be3 Nd5 16.Bg5 Be7 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.Be4 Nd5 19.g3 Nf6 20.Bf3 Kc7 21.Kf1 Rhe8 22.Be2 e5 23.dxe5 Rxe5 24.Bc4 Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 Re7 26.Bb3 Ne4 27.Rd4 Nd6 28.c3 f6 29.Bc2 h6 30.Bd3 Nf7 31.f4 Rd7 32.Rxd7+ Kxd7 33.Kf2 Nd6! 34.Kf3 f5 35.Ke3 c5 [White's king is denied entry points.] 36.Be2 Ke6 37.Bd3 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Blackmar-Diemer Vienna Famous Trap

In slow grandmaster tournaments, opening traps are rare. But in blitz, club, and online games we see traps all the time. The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit can be declined with 4.f3 Bf5 known as the BDG Vienna. The most common continuations are 5.g4 Bg6 or 5.fxe4 Nxe4. If Black takes with the bishop by 5...Bxe4, a trap winning the queen is playable. All Black has to do is to see a hanging d4-pawn in the middle of the board and grab it. Blitz players fall for it, as my opponent did in our two-minute bullet game below. This same simple trap can also be found in the BDG Euwe variation. It works!

Sawyer (1900) - kekendevi (1300), Yahoo! 2 0, 26.07.2000 begins 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Bf5 4.f3 Nf6 5.fxe4 [5.g4] 5...Bxe4 [5...Nxe4] 6.Nxe4 Nxe4 7.Bd3 [7.Nf3 is equally good, but the bishop move sets a trap.] 7...Qxd4? [The queen goes too far. Better is 7...Qd5 8.Nf3+/=]
8.Bb5+ Qd7 9.Bxd7+ Nxd7 10.Nf3 [Or 10.Qe2+- Black has lost his queen but plays on. White's task is to complete his development and then go after the Black king with his much stronger army.] 10...0-0-0 11.Qe2 Ndf6 12.0-0 h5 13.Bf4 g6 14.Rad1 Rxd1 15.Rxd1 a6 16.Qc4 Bh6 17.Qxc7# 1-0

Sets: Chess Games 1.e4 Series and Chess Games 1.d4 Series
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fries Nielsen Irregular Veresov Opening

Veresov Opening involves playing 1.d4, 2.Nc3, 3.Bg5 to begin a chess game, but note how the subtle difference of 3.Bf4 allows White to expand the kingside with pawn pushes that resemble the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit: 4.f3, 5.g4, 6.h4, 7.g5 and 8.e4. This is similar to the BDG Vienna Hara Kiri with 6.h4. White has the joy of attack without the danger of the gambit. Such a major pawn advance makes it difficult for Black to take aim at White's open king because of all White's space behind the advanced pawns.

Stefanova, Jobava and Fries Nielsen all have played 3.Bf4 several times. Back in 2005, I played it myself in blitz. In the game below players have mutual assaults as they castle opposite sides. Fries Nielsen obtains the best of it as his bishops take aim at the Black monarch. I like the move 21.Qa5! The attack culminates in checkmate.

Fries Nielsen (2384) - De Blecourt (2121), Copenhagen CC 2014 Ballerup DEN (2.12), 15.05.2014 begins 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Bf5 4.f3 e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.h4 h5 7.g5 Nh7 8.e4 Bb4 9.exd5 Qxd5 10.Qd2 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nc6 12.Be3 0-0-0 13.c4 Qd6 14.Ne2 Rhe8 15.Rb1 Nf8 [15...Qa3 16.Kf2 Qxa2 17.Rc1 Nf8 18.Nc3 Qa3=] 16.Bg2 [16.Kf2 Qa3 17.Nc3=] 16...e5 [16...Qa3 17.Kf2 Qxa2 18.Ra1 Qxc4=/+] 17.d5 Nd4 18.0-0 [18.Nxd4 exd4 19.Qxd4+/=] 18...Nxc2 [18...Nxe2+ 19.Qxe2=] 19.Bxa7 [19.Bf2+/=] 19...b6 20.Bh3+ Kb7 [20...Ne6=/+] 21.Qa5! Nd4 22.Bxb6 cxb6 23.c5 Bxb1 24.Rxb1 Nxe2+ 25.Kf2 Nc3 26.c6+ Kb8 27.Rxb6+ Kc7 28.Rb7# 1-0

Sets: Chess Games 1.e4 Series and Chess Games 1.d4 Series
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Karpov French Defence Tarrasch vs Jeff Baffo

At times during my career, I have followed Anatoly Karpov. He chose variations where his pieces dominated the most important squares on the board. Karpov became champion mostly through piece control rather than pawn advances or rapid attacks. In his early 1.e4 days, Karpov played the Tarrasch Variation 3.Nd2 vs the French Defence to win the title. I won some nice games with 3.Nd2, but then I switched to gambits. When I lose an Alapin-Diemer 3.Be3 or a Winawer Variation 3.Nc3 Bb4, I think about returning to the simple open piece development of the Tarrasch 3.Nd2.

Jeffrey Baffo and I played two six-game correspondence matches 18 years ago. Jeff won most of the games and this one is no exception. I have a foggy memory of that year. It seems the games were played maybe during February, March, and April. I know I was in Atlanta, Georgia for a conference during Valentine's Day 1996. Later that summer the Olympics came to Atlanta. For some reason, I resigned in an equal position! Maybe I was seeing ghosts. I cannot blame the opening, a good active and logical variation.

One key point of the 3.Nd2 Nf6 line is that White's kingside knight plays to 7.Ne2 (after 5.Bd3) to protect d4 and c3, leaving f3 open for the queenside knight 10.Nf3. As Karpov demonstrated, it can be good for White to trade bad dark squared bishops. I did everything well - except keep playing!

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

Sawyer (1950) - Baffo (2273), corr USCF 95P135, 11.03.1996 begins 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.0-0 Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Bh4 Bd7 14.Bg3 a6 15.Rc1 Bxg3 16.Nxg3 Qf4 17.Ne2 Qd6 18.Nc3 Be8 19.Re1 Bh5 20.Be2 Qb4= [White resigned in an equal position. Maybe I thought White would lose a pawn due to the threats on b2 and d4, however 21.Ne5! Nxe5 22.dxe5 Bxe2 23.Nxe2 (or 23.Rxe2) 23...Nd7 24.Qd4= holds everything.] 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Zoltan Sarosy draw Modern Caro-Kann

So close I came to beating Zoltan Sarosy, one of the strongest masters I ever played in my life. He dodged. He weaved. He wiggled. He jiggled. He made me work hard. In the end I missed the best move 48. Zoltan the magnificent pulled off a draw. Darn. At the time International Correspondence Chess Master Zoltan Sarosy of Canada was near his peak rating of 2435 (in 1992) when more than 80 years old! How old is too old for chess?

In 1987, under Hans-Werner von Massow the ICCF added the Elo rating system. Before that they used only class titles. By then Sarosy was already in his 80s; he might have had a much higher rating in his younger days. He won a Master Class tournament in Hungary in 1943. According to his biography in the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame, Zoltan Sarosy "Reached age 100 in 2006 while still playing chess by e-mail; in 2007, became longest lived Canadian chess player ever".

The opening was a crossover between the Caro-Kann Defence (1.e4 c6 with d5) and the Modern Defence (1.e4 g6 with Bg7) which can be reached via either move order. White usually plays 1.e4, 2.d4, 3.Nc3 and then either 4.h3 and 5.Nf3 as I did, or 4.e5 and 5.f4. Black plans a slow build up in an unbalanced position. Sarosy liked to play original little known positions that made his opponents think on their own. It is dangerous for weaker players to try a slow build up, because they have not developed the tactical, strategical and analytical skills to make it work effectively. They get crushed without improving.

Weaker players need to play openings that lead to quick development so they can learn quickly. They do not have to play main lines, just anything that brings all pieces out for action. When the armies clash, they will learn what works and what to avoid in the future. Saraosy already knew what works. He was a proven dangerous player waiting to pounce and crush experts and masters due to his deep analysis. Because I developed rapidly with control of the center, I was able to prevent disaster and even obtain a winning position. Picking off his pawn with 48.Nxg6 seemed like a good idea, but it failed to his brilliant defence. This draw gave me 2.5 out of 4 points so far in the tournament.

Sawyer (2157) - Sarosy (2401), corr ICCF 1995 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.h3 Bg7 5.Nf3 Nh6 6.Bf4 0-0 7.Qd2 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Nf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bc4 Nb6 11.Bb3 Nd6 12.Nc5 Nd5 13.Be5 b6 14.Nd3 f6 15.Bh2 Be6 16.0-0 Qd7 17.Qe2 Bf7 18.Rfe1 Rfe8 19.Nde5 fxe5 20.dxe5 Nc7 21.e6 Nxe6 22.Bxe6 Qxe6 23.Qxe6 Bxe6 24.Rxe6 Rad8 25.Rae1 Kf8 26.Bf4 c5 27.Ne5 Nf7 28.Nc6 Rd7 29.a4 Bf6 30.a5 Ng5 [30...Rc8 31.Kh2 b5 32.a6=] 31.Bxg5 Bxg5 32.Ne5 Rd6 33.Rxd6 exd6 34.Nd7+ Kf7 35.Rxe8 Kxe8 36.axb6 axb6 37.Nxb6 Kf7 38.Nd5 Bc1 39.b3 Ke6 40.c4 Ke5 41.g3 Kd4 [Maybe better is 41...Ke4 42.Kg2 Kd3 43.Kf1 g5 44.Nf6 h6 45.Nd5 Bb2 46.f4 Ke4 47.Kf2 Bd4+ 48.Kg2 Ba1 49.fxg5 hxg5 50.h4 gxh4 51.gxh4+=] 42.f4 Kd3 [Or 42...Bb2 43.Kf2 Ke4 44.Ke2 Bg7 45.Nc7 Bf8 46.Nb5+/-] 43.Kf2 Kc2 [If 43...Bd2 44.Kf3 Ba5 45.g4+-] 44.Ke2 Kxb3 45.Kd3 h5 46.Ne7 [Winning is 46.g4! hxg4 47.hxg4 Ka3 48.f5 gxf5 49.gxf5 Bh6 50.f6+-] 46...h4 47.gxh4 Bxf4 48.Nxg6? [White is winning after 48.Ke4 g5 49.h5 Kxc4 50.h6 Bc1 51.Nd5 Bb2 52.Ne3+ Kb4 53.Kd5+-] 48...Bg3 49.Ke2 [49.Ke4 Kxc4 50.h5 d5+ 51.Kf3 Be1 52.h6 Bc3 53.Kg4 Kb5 54.h7 c4 with a likely draw] 49...d5 50.cxd5 c4 51.Ne7 Bxh4 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Trap of Queen in Pirc Defence

We have known the Pirc Defence is a good opening since Bobby Fischer played it as Black vs Boris Spassky in the World Championship. Below my opponent played the first eight moves accurately, but then he decided to attack and capture my undefended pawn. It seemed like a good idea, but he was falling into my trap. The b2 pawn was poisoned. Black's queen bit off more than she could chew. Then with one move 11.Nb5! Black realizes it is over. The knight threatens 12.Nc7+ and 13.Nxa8 picking off the rook. This must be dealt with by something like 11...Kd8, but then 12.Rfb1 and the Black lady is without an escape route since the Nb5 covers both c3 and a3.

White has many Pirc choices. I like the 150 Attack 4.f3, 5.Be3 and 6.Qd2 set-up after 1d4 Nf6 2.f3 in my games when I am headed toward a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Here I choose the Yugoslav 4.f4. Take note: I completed my development by move 10: both knights, both bishops, the queen, and castled, connecting the rooks for six developing moves. Black made only four in the first 10 moves; he never made it to move 11. We see a nice trap that could occur in many openings. My opponent "iAttack" was polite enough to resign at the right moment making this game a good illustration.

Sawyer (1909) - iAttack (1488), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 19.06.2014 begins 1.Nc3 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.d4 g6 [The Pirc Defence] 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Bd3 Qxc5 8.Qe2 Nc6 [Or 8...0-0 9.Be3 Qa5 10.0-0] 9.Be3 Qb4?! [This is a waste of time since b2 is poisoned. Better is 9...Qa5 10.0-0=] 10.0-0 Qxb2 [Black should play 10...0-0 11.a3 but not 11...Qxb2? which loses to 12.Na4+-] 11.Nb5! [Black resigns as he sees his queen is trapped.] 1-0

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review Alekhine by Lakdawala

The Alekhine Defence: move by move book by Cyrus Lakdawala is an excellent and unique presentation on this opening. I have read 40 books on the Alekhine Defence over the past 40 years. I even wrote one myself that sold out. No book covers this aggressive counter attacking defence the same way International Master Cyrus Lakdawala does. Lakdawala is informative, humorous and articulate, which makes him fun to read.

This book published by Everyman Chess in 2014 has the standard "move by move" series approach. There are 57 deeply annotated games in 464 pages with questions posed that typical chess students ask their teachers. Also, there are exercises where students can make a critical decision or search for a combination. Lakdawala presents a repertoire for Black with a couple of basic options. You can choose either chapter one or two, and either chapter three or four. You need everything in chapters five through nine.

Here is a brief summary of the nine chapter contents after 1.e4 Nf6:
1. Main Line Classical 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6
2. Westerinen's Anti-Main Line 3.d4 Nb6 intending 4.Nf3 d5
3. Symmetrical Exchange 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.exd6 exd6
4. Asymmetrical Exchange 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.exd6 cxd6
5. Four Pawns Attack 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.f4 g6 (not 5...dxe5)
6. Chase Variation 3.c4 Nb6 4.c5 Nd5 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nc3 Nxc3
7. 3.Nc3 Lines and Minor Variations 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.dxc3 d6
8. 2.Nc3 Default Line 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 Nfd7 4.d4 c5
9. Odds and Ends 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 e5

Cyrus Lakdawala has two pet lines that are out of the ordinary for this opening. First is 3.d4 Nb6 though he also covers the Main Line 3...d6 4.Nf3 dxe5. Second is 5.f4 g6 in the Four Pawns Attack (rather than 5...dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 which he does not cover). Against the Exchange Variation he plays both the solid 5...exd6 and the sharp 5...cxd6, depending on how badly he needs a win in that game.

I enjoy Lakdawala as an author. A few reviewers complain about Lakdawla's occasional reference to issues in religion or politics when comparing a chess concept, strategy or position. I like religion, politics and chess openings. If your preferences or passions in any of those three differ from mine, that is fine with me. I know why I am passionate about what I believe; I am happy. Sometimes I agree with Lakdawala, but always I like him.

Lakdawala has played this opening for decades. ICC has over 1000 of his Alekhine's in their database; ICC has just over 200 of mine but my opponents are not usually rated over 2300. I have played almost 3000 games with the Alekhine Defence: club games, correspondence games, tournament games, simultaneous games and blitz games. Below is a recent game Sawyer vs Dunadan. I add two Lakdawala quotes from his Game 51 vs Barquin to my game. My score as Black vs 4.Nxd5 is 78% in 145 games.

Dunadan (1800) - Sawyer (2003), ICC 3 0 Internet Chess Club, 24.05.2014 begins 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.exd5 Nxd5 4.Nxd5?! [Lakdawala: "I have had this passive move played against me by lower rated players who hope to swap their way to a draw."] 4...Qxd5 [Lakdawala: "Black gets a dream Scandinavian and I already prefer my position."] 5.d4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 e5 [7...0-0-0 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 Qxd4 11.Bg5=] 8.0-0 [8.dxe5 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Qxe5+ 10.Qe2 Qxe2+ 11.Bxe2 Bc5=] 8...0-0-0 [Cautious when 8...e4!=/+ is better for Black.] 9.c3 [Cautious when 9.c4!+/= is better for White.] 9...exd4 10.Nxd4 [10.cxd4=] 10...Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Nxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd4 [12...Bd6=/+] 13.Be3 [13.Bg5!+/-] 13...Qe4 14.Rac1 Bd6 15.Rc4 Qd5 16.Rd1? [Black falls for my trap. 16.Bxa7=] 16...Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 Qxd1 [White resigns] 0-1

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