Sunday, January 14, 2007

Philidor Counter Gambit 2005

This is a welcome opportunity for me to correct some irresponsible mistakes on the Internet that involve me, at least indirectly.

First, I would like to disavow the Class A player from New Jersey who has been using the handle "Master Jim West" on the Internet Chess Club. I have heard several players at tournaments say that they played "me" on the ICC. I know the impostor's true identity but will not "name names" here because it might be considered an invasion of his privacy!

Second, the ChessBase website includes games that were allegedly played by me on March 19, 2005. Whoever this person is, he scored well, with a win and a draw! But the fact remains that I never participated in those games, since I was playing at Ed Sytnik's quad in Hamilton on that date.

Third, someone calling himself "Myway316" in a chess forum at the GameKnot website has called the second edition of my book on the Philidor Counter Gambit "awful", adding his opinion that it is "one of the absolute worst chess books ever penned." Apparently "Myway316" subscribes to the philosophy of "my way or the highway" when it comes to the Philidor, which he mistakenly spells "Philador". Perhaps this is a disingenuous attempt on his part to create the false impression of a casual player voicing an honest opinion when in fact "Myway316" is surprisingly familiar with GM Paul Motwani's so-called refutation of the PCG in his book C.O.O.L. Chess which occurs after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 dxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Neg5. Now Motwani mentions 6...h6 and 6...e4 but does not consider Black's best response 6...exd4 7.Nxd4 Qe7+, as already played by me over the board. The computer software program Fritz8 gives exclams to both 6...exd4 and 7...Qe7+. A likely follow-up is 8.Qe2 h6 9.Nge6 Bxe6 10.Nxe6 Kf7 11.Nxf8 Qxe2+ 12.Bxe2 Kxf8 13.Bf4 c6 14.O-O Nf6 15.Bd3 Kf7 16.Rfe1 Nbd7 17.Bd6 Rhe8 transposing into a position similar to one that occurred after move 18 from a game in February 1990 where White was NM Jerry McDonnell and I was Black, ending in a draw on move 52. For the concluding moves, see Supplemental Game 4 in my book The Dynamic Philidor Counter-Gambit.

Now that I have set the record straight, I would like to share with the readers two recent PCG's of mine, both played at the relatively new Viking quads in Mount Arlington on the last Saturday of each month with time limit game/90. My opponents were master Sandi Hutama and expert David Grasso who is master-strength having been above USCF 2200 in the past.

Game #1
Sandi Hutama (USCF 2230) - Jim West (USCF 2215)
Mount Arlington, N. J.
June 25, 2005

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 f5 4.d4 Nc6 5.dxe5

The unusual move 5.exf5 made an appearance in a game where David Koenig (FIDE 2280) was White against me at the Marshall Chess Club in June 2002 with time limits 30/90 followed by game/60, continuing:
5...Bxf5 6.Nc3 (In his Newark Star-Ledger column, Pete Tamburro suggested 6.Bb5, transposing into Spielmann-Lasker, St. Petersburg 1909 with colors reversed. Now 6...exd4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.O-O Nf6 10.Re1+ Be7 11.Qe2 c5 12.Nf3 Bg4 13.Bg5 is given as clearly advantageous for White in many opening books, keeping in mind that here the colors are switched. But it seems that after 13...Bxf3 14.Qxf3 O-O 15.Qh3 Rf7 16.Nc3, transposing into a continuation recommended by Lasker, the move 16...Nd5 solves Black’s difficulties. For example, 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.Qe6 Qc8 equalizes. And the same holds true after 17.Nxd5 Bxg5 with 18...c6 to follow. If all this is correct, it changes the evaluation of an important variation in the Vienna Game.) Nf6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Qe2 e4 10.Bxf6 exf3 11.Qxf3 Bxf6 12.Qxf5 Qe7+ 13.Kf1 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Rf8 15.Qb5 (better 15.Qh3) O-O-O 16.Re1 Qf6 17.f3 Rd6 18.Qc5 Rfd8 19.Kf2 Kb8 20.Bd3 Rd5 21.Qa3 Ne5 22.Re4 Nxd3+ 23.cxd3 Rxd3 24.Rb1 Qxc3 25.Qxc3 Rxc3 26.Re7 Rc2+ 27.Kg3 Rg8 28.Rbe1 b6 29.Re8+ Rxe8 30.Rxe8+ Kb7 31.Re7 g5 32.Rxh7 Rxa2 33.h4 gxh4+ 34.Rxh4 a5 35.f4 Kc6 36.Rh7 Kd6 37.Kf3 a4 38.g4 a3 39.g5 Rb2 40.Rh8 Ke6 41.Re8+ Kf7 42.Ra8 a2 43.Ke4 b5 44.Ra7 Rb4+ 45.Kf5 Ra4 46.Rxc7+ Ke8 47.Ke6 Ra6+, White resigns.

5...dxe5 6.Qxd8+ Nxd8 7.Nc3 fxe4 8.Nxe4 Nf6 9.Ng3

A different continuation was favored by GM Maurice Ashley in a game against me at the Marshall Chess Club in June 2002 at game/30 time limit, which is my only victory to date against a grandmaster, as follows: 9.Nc3 Bd6 10.O-O Be6 11.Bb5+ c6 12.Bd3 Nf7 13.Ng5 Nxg5 14.Bxg5 O-O 15.Bh4 (better 15.Rae1, intending to meet 15...Bb4 with 16.Bd2) Bb4 16.Ne4?? Nxe4 17.c3 Bc5 18.Rae1 Nxf2 19.Bxf2 Rxf2 20.Rxf2 Rf8 21.Ree2 Rxf2 22.Rxf2 Bxa2 23.Kf1 Bxf2 24.Kxf2 g6 25.Ke3 Kf7 26.h4 h5 27.g3 Be6 28.Be2 Kf6 29.Bd1 a5 30.Bf3 Bd5 31.Be2 b5 32.Bd3 a4 33.Be2 Kf5 34.Bd3+ e4 35.Be2 Bc4 36.Bd1 Bd3 37.Kd4 c5+ 38.Ke3 Bb1 39.c4 bxc4 40.Bxa4 Kg4 41.Be8 Kxg3 42.Bxg6 Kxh4 43.Kf4 e3, White resigns.

9...Bd6 10.Ng5 h6 11.N5e4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bf5 13.Nxd6+ cxd6 14.c3 Rc8 15.Bb3 Ke7 16.O-O Ne6 17.Be3 Nc5 18.Bd5 b6 19.Rad1 Be6 20.Rd2 Bxd5 21.Rxd5 Ne6 22.Rfd1 Rc6 23.a4 Rf8

24.a5 Nf4 25.Rb5 bxa5 26.Rxa5 a6 27.Rda1 Rb8 28.g3?

This loses a pawn. White should have played 28.Bxf4 exf4, but Black already stands well.

28...Ne2+ 29.Kf1 Rxb2 30.Rxa6 Rxa6 31.Rxa6 Nxc3 32.Ra7+ Kf6 33.Rd7 Rb1+ 34.Kg2 Rd1 35.Bb6 Ne4 36.h4 h5 37.Kf3 Nc3 38.Be8+ Kg6 39.Be7 e4+ 40.Kg2 d5 41.Bf8 Rd2 42.Rxg7+ Kf6 43.Kf1 d4 44.Rd7 d3 45.Bg7+ Ke6 46.Rd8 Rd1+ 47.Kg2 Nd5 48.Bh6 d2 49.Bxd2 Rxd2 50.Kf1, White resigns.

Game #2
David Grasso (USCF 2145) - Jim West (USCF 2206)
Mount Arlington, N. J.
August 27, 2005

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Nxe5 dxe4 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Nxg6 hxg6

Two months later in Mount Arlington against Sandi Hutama, I varied with 8...Nf6 9.Qe5+ Kf7 10.Nxh8+ Kg7 11.Bh6+ Kxh8 12.Bxf8 Nc6 13.Qc5 Nd7 14.Qd5 Qxf8 15.c3 Nf6 16.Qg5 Be6 17.Be2 Qf7 18.Qd2 Rg8

19.Rg1 Ng4 20.Bxg4 Bxg4 21.Qe3 Bf3 22.g3 Ne7 23.b3 Nd5 24.Qd2 Nf4 25.Kf1 Ne2 (better 25...Be2+ 26.Ke1 Nd3+ 27.Kxe2 Qxf2+ 28.Kd1 Qxg1+ followed by 29...Qxa1 winning immediately) 26.Qh6 Rg6 27.Qh4 Nxg1 28.Kxg1 Qf6 29.Qxf6 Rxf6 30.Re1 b5 31.h3 Ra6 32.Ra1 b4 33.cxb4 Rd6 34.Rc1 Rxd4 35.g4 Rd1+ 36.Rxd1 Bxd1 37.Kg2 Kg7 38.Kg3 Kf6 39.Kf4 Bc2 40.h4 Bb1 41.a3 h6 42.f3 exf3 43.Kxf3 Bc2 44.Kf4 Bxb3 45.Ke4 Ke6 46.Kd4 Kd6 47.g5 hxg5 48.hxg5 Bc2 49.b5 Bg6 50.Kc4 Be8 51.Kb4 Kd7 (better 51...Kd5 with winning chances) 52.Kc5 Kc8 53.a4 Kb7 54.a5 Bg6 55.Kd5 Kc8 56.Kc6 Be8+ 57.Kc5 Kb7 58.Kb4 Bf7 59.Kc5 Bg6 60.Kd5 Bd3 61.Kc5 Be4 62.Kc4 Bg6 63.Kc5 Bf7 64.Kd4 Bh5 65.Kc5 Be8 66.Kc4 Bg6 67.Kc5 Bd3 68.Kb4 Be4 69.Kc5 Kc8 70.Kd4 Bg6 71.Kd5 Kd7 72.Kc5 Be8 73.Kd5 Kc8 74.Kc5 Kb7 75.Kc4 a6 76.b6 cxb6 77.axb6 Kxb6 78.Kb3 Bg6 79.Kb2 Kb5 80.Ka1 a5 81.Kb2 Kb4 82.Ka1 a4 83.Kb2 a3+ 84.Ka1 Bf7 85.g6 Bg8 86.g7 Kb6 87.Kb1 Bh7+ 88.Ka1 a2 89.g8=Q+ Bxg8, stalemate.

9.Qxg6+ Kd7 10.Qf5+ Ke8 11.Qg6+ Kd7 12.Qf5+ Ke8 13.Qe5+ Be6 14.Qxh8 Nd7 15.Be2 Ndf6 16.Be3 Qd5 17.O-O Rd8 18.c4 Qf5 19.d5 Rd7 20.Qh4 Rh7

It would have been more ambitious to keep queens on the board by 20...Bd6 21.f4 Rh7 22.Qg3 Bf7 with attacking chances in the middlegame.

21.Qg5 Bd6 22.h4 Qxg5

There was no need to hurry with this move. Instead 22...Bd7 looks like an improvement.

23.Bxg5 Bf5 24.b4 Be5 25.Rad1 Kf7

26.f3 Kg6

It was safer to play 26...exf3, but I wanted to retain my advanced e-pawn if possible. Now White's kingside pawns become dangerous.

27.g4 Bd7 28.f4 Bc3 29.f5+ Kf7 30.b5 Bb4 31.Bxf6 Kxf6

I should have developed my king knight with 31...Nxf6 since 32.g5 can be met by 32...Rg7.

32.g5+ Ke5

Centralizing the king seemed like the right idea, but it loses material to White's next move which I overlooked. Correct was 32...Ke7.


This move threatens mate in one.

33...c6 34.f6 Bc5+ 35.Kg2 Nxf6 36.gxf6 Rf7 37.Bh5 Rf8 38.f7 Bxd6 39.Rxd6?!

Why sacrifice back the exchange? White had only 5 minutes on his clock and wanted to simplify. Actually the exchange sac did not surprise me because the dark-squared bishop was my most active piece, guarding the queening square.

39...Kxd6 40.bxc6 Bxc6 41.Kf2 Bd7 42.Ke3 Be6 43.Kxe4 Bxc4 44.Rf2 Ke7 45.Kd4 b5 46.a4

46...Bxf7! 47.Bxf7

Also insufficient to win was 47.Rxf7+ Rxf7 48.Bxf7 bxa4.

47...bxa4 48.Kc3 Rxf7 49.Rxf7+ Kxf7 50.Kb4 Kg6 51.Kxa4 Kh5 52.Ka5 Kxh4 53.Ka6 Kg5 54.Kxa7, draw.

In the final minutes of game/90 with your opponent behind on the clock, you play down to the last pawn!

{This article originally appeared in the October-December 2005 issue of Atlantic Chess News}