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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