Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Falkbeer Counter Gambit

Ever since 1850, when Ernst Falkbeer published his analysis of 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4, the Falkbeer Counter Gambit has been a theoretically important system against the King's Gambit. For the last six years*, I have been answering 1.e4 with 1...e5 and playing the Philidor Counter Gambit after 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5. Not surprisingly, on the infrequent occasions when my opponent plays 2.f4, I have been countering with the Falkbeer, a gambit not unlike the Philidor in that Black gets active piece play in return for his sacrificed material.

Theory gives 4.d3 as White's best response. The problem with 4.Nc3 is that after 4...Nf6 5.d3 Bb4 6.Bd2 Black can gambit another pawn by 6...e3 7.Bxe3 O-O, as in Schulten-Morphy, New York 1857. That game continued: 8.Bd2 Bxc3 9.bxc3 Re8+ 10.Be2 Bg4 11.c4 c6 12.dxc6 Nxc6 13.Kf1

Rxe2! 14.Nxe2 Nd4 15.Qb1 Bxe2+ 16.Kf2 Ng4+ 17.Kg1 Nf3+! 18.gxf3 Qd4+ 19.Kg2 Qf2+ 20.Kh3 Qxf3+ 21.Kh4 and 0-1, since Black mates in three. ECO gives 11.Kf2 as an improvement on 11.c4, continuing with 11...Bxe2 12.Nxe2 Qxd5 13.Re1 Nc6 14.Kg1 Qc5+! 15.d4 Qd5 with compensation. White's weak squares on e4 and c4 compensate Black for his pawn.

Candidate master Eric Smith once tried 4.d4 unsuccessfully against me in 1990 at a quad in Livingston NJ. That game continued: 4...Qxd5 5.c4 Qa5+ 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Bd2 Nf6 8.a3

e3! 9.Qe2 O-O 10.Nf3 exd2+ 11.Qxd2 Ne4 12.Qc1 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Re8 14.Bd3 Nc5+, 0-1.

In all my games except one, I have answered 4.d3 with 4...Qxd5, which according to theory is slightly better for White. The one exception was a game against candidate master Fritz Gaspard at the Marshall Chess Club in 1990 when I tried the alternative 4...Nf6. Play proceeded: 5.dxe4 Nxe4 6.Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2 Qxd5.

Now, instead of 8.Nfd2 f5 9.Nc3 Qd4 10.Ncxe4 fxe4 11.Nb3 +/- as in Napier-Blackburne, 1895, my opponent played 8.Nc3 which let me off the hook after 8...Bb4 9.Bd2 Bxc3 10.Bxc3 O-O 11.Rd1 Nxc3 12.Rxd5 Nxe2 13.Bxe2 Nc6 14.Rd2 Bf5 15.Kf2 Rfd8 16.Rhd1 Kf8 and drawn in 61 moves.

A year later, against the same opponent at the Marshall, I tried 4...Qxd5 for the first time and was soon rewarded after 5.Qe2 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Bd2 Bxc3 8.Bxc3.

Here the theoretically correct move for Black is 8...Nbd7 which ECO gives as only slightly advantageous for White after 9.dxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxg7 Rg8 11.Be5 Nxe5 12.fxe5 Qxe5 13.O-O-O Be6. After my 8...Bg4, I was fortunate that my opponent missed 9.dxe4 Bxe2 10.exd5 Bxf1 11.Kxf1 Nxd5 12.Bxg7 Rg8 13.Re1+ Kd7 14.Rd1 Kc6 15.Bd4 Nxf4 16.Nf3 Nd7 17.Be3 Ne6 18.Kf2 +/-, Reti-Spielmann, Geteborg 1920. His inferior 9.Nf3 led to 9...O-O 10.dxe4 Nxe4 11.Be5 Nc6 12.Qc4 Qa5+ 13.c3 Nd6 14.Bxd6 cxd6 15.Qb5 Rae8+ 16.Kf2 Qc7 17.g3 a6 18.Qb3 Na5 and 0-1 because Black's threats of 19...Bxf3 followed by 20...Qc6+ and 19...Qb6+ followed by 20...Qxb2 are too much for White's queen to handle.

In the Marshall Chess Club Championship of 1992, my game as Black against candidate master Mitch Fitzko developed in the following manner: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.d3 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Ne7 8.Bxg7 Rg8 9.Be5 Nbc6 with a position that ECO rates as "with compensation".

The game continued: 10.dxe4 Qxe4+ 11.Kf2 Nxe5 12.fxe5 Qxe5 13.Nf3 Qc5+ 14.Qd4 Qxc2+ 15.Be2 Qg6 16.g3 Qb6 17.Rhe1 Be6 18.Rac1 Nc6 19.Qxb6 axb6 20.Bc4 Ke7 21.Bd5 Nb4 22.Be4 Rxa2 23.Rxc7+ Kf6 24.Re2 Rb8 25.Bxh7 Bd5 26.h4 Bc6 27.Ne5 Rf8 28.Nd7+ Bxd7 29.Rxd7 Kg7 30.Be4 Nc6 31.Rxb7 Nd4 32.Bd5 Ra5 33.Re5 Rb5 34.Rg5+ Kf6 35.b3 Nxb3 36.Bc4 Rb4 37.Rg4 Ke5 38.Rg5+ f5 39.Bxb3, draw.

Eric Smith improved upon his earlier 4.d4 by playing 4.d3 against me in Bayonne NJ later that year. After 4...Qxd5 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Ne7, he varied from Fitzko's 8.Bxg7 with 8.Qe2 Bf5 9.dxe4 Bxe4 10.Rd1 Qf5 11.Nf3 Nbc6 12.Bxg7 Rg8 13.Be5 Nxe5 14.fxe5 Nc6 15.c3 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Qxf3 17.gxf3 Nxe5.

The game was eventually drawn but not without winning chances for both sides in the endgame. Here are the concluding moves: 18.Kf2 Ke7 19.Bh3 Rad8 20.Rhe1 Kf6 21.Bf1 c5 22.b3 a6 23.a4 h5 24.Be2 Kf5 25.Bc4 h4 26.Bf1 a5 27.Bh3+ Kf6 28.Bf1 b6 29.Bb5 Kf5 30.Bf1 Rxd1 31.Rxd1 Kf4 32.Rd6 Rg6 33.Rxg6 fxg6 34.Be2 h3 35.Bd1 Nd3+ 36.Ke2 Ne5 37.Kf2 Nd3+ 38.Ke2 Nc1+ 39.Kd2 Nxb3+ 40.Bxb3 Kxf3 41.Be6 Kg2 42.Ke2 g5 43.Bg4 Kg1 44.Bxh3 Kxh2 45.Be6 Kg3 46.Kd3 Kf4 47.Kc4 Ke3 48.Kb5 Kd3 49.c4 Kc3 50.Kxb6 Kb4 51.Bd7 Kxc4 52.Kxa5 Kd4 53.Kb5 c4 54.Kb4 c3 55.Kb3 Kd3 56.a5 Kd2 57.Bf5 g4 58.a6 g3 59.a7 g2 60.a8=Q g1=Q 61.Qa2+ Ke1 62.Qb1+ Kf2 63.Qc2+ Kg3 64.Qxc3+ Kf4 65.Qf6 Qg5, draw.

My game as Black against candidate master George Krauss at a Hamilton NJ quad in 1993 followed the last two games through 7...Ne7 but varied with 8.dxe4 Qxe4+ 9.Ne2 Nbc6 10.Qd3 Qxd3 11.cxd3 O-O 12.O-O-O Nd5 13.Rd2 Bg4.

Already Black is slightly better due to White's weak d-pawn. After 14.g3 Rfe8 15.Kb1 Rad8 16.Nc1 b5 17.Rf2 b4 18.Bd2 Nd4 19.Bg2 c5 20.h3 Bc8 21.Re1 Rxe1 22.Bxe1 h5 23.Bd2 Bf5 24.Rf1 a5 25.Re1 f6 26.b3 a4 27.bxa4 Nc3+ 28.Bxc3 bxc3 29.Be4 Bxh3 30.Nb3 f5 31.Bh1 Nxb3 32.axb3 Rxd3 33.Kc2 Rxg3, Black had a material advantage and 0-1 in 54 moves.

At a Somerset NJ quad in 1993, candidate master Steve Anderson as White steered clear of the main line in his game against me as follows: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.d3 Qxd5 5.dxe4 Qxe4+ 6.Qe2 Qxe2+ 7.Bxe2 Bf5 8.c3 Nf6 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.Bb5 Bd7 11.O-O Bc5+ 12.Kh1 O-O 13.Nbd2 a6 14.Ba4 Rae8 15.Nb3 Ba7 16.Nbd4 Nxd4 17.Bxd7 Nxd7 18.Nxd4 Bxd4 19.cxd4 Re2.

Black is clearly better here because of his control of the e-file, not to mention White's weak d-pawn, and went on to win in 44 moves.

Recently, at a Hamilton NJ quad in 1995, candidate master John Mather as White avoided 4.d3 in favor of 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 Bb4 6.dxe4 Nxe4 7.Qd4 Qe7.

Here ECO gives 8.Be2 O-O 9.Bd2 Nxd2 10.Qxd2 c6 11.Nf3 cxd5 12.O-O Nc6 unclear, Bardeleben-Blackburne, London 1895. Instead Mather tried 8.Nge2 O-O 9.Bd2 Nxd2 10.Qxd2 when 10...c6 was worthy of consideration. After my 10...Bg4 11.O-O-O Nd7 12.Re1 Rfe8 13.h3 Bxc3 14.Qxc3 Bxe2 15.Bxe2 Qe4 16.Qf3 Nb6 17.Qxe4 Rxe4 18.Bf3 Rxf4, Black had recovered his gambited pawn but stood worse in the endgame after 19.Re7 Rc8 20.Rhe1 g6 21.d6 cxd6 22.Rxb7 Rfc4 23.c3 R8c7 24.Re7 Rxe7 25.Rxe7 Ra4 although the game ended in a hard-fought draw on move 73.

*{This article originally appeared in the January-February 1996 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dutch Defense with ...b6 and ...Bb7

The Dutch Defense has been a favorite of such strong players as Morphy, Alekhine, and Botvinnik. Around 1990, I added it to my opening repertoire, although I still play the King's Indian Defense occasionally. In the past year*, I have defeated and drawn against many high-rated opponents with the classical Dutch. This system features the move ...e6, instead of ...g6 as in the Leningrad variation. When White plays an early Nf3, Black has the option of fianchettoing his QB by ...b6, ...Bb7, and sometimes plays ...a5 as well. If White deploys his QN to c3 before castling, Black can employ a Nimzo-Indian type set-up with ...Bb4. The moves ...e6, ...b6, and ...Bb7 can also be used in declining the Staunton Gambit.

Usually White counters Black's plan of ...Bb7 by playing g3 followed by Bg2. In 1995, I played two games as Black against candidate master Carvas John in which White developed his KB on the f1-a6 diagonal instead. The first encounter, played at the Somerset NJ quads in July, opened 1.Nf3 f5 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bg5 e6 4.e3 Be7 5.Bd3 b6 6.Ne5. Here 6...Bb7 was called for, since 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Qxg6+ Ke7 leaves White with insufficient compensation for the piece. After the game continuation 6...O-O 7.Qf3 c6 8.Nd2 Ne4 9.Nxe4 Bxg5 10.Nxg5 Qxg5 11.h4 Qf6 12.h5 d6 13.Nxc6 Bb7 14.d5 exd5 15.Nd4 f4 16.O-O-O Nd7 White was clearly better due to Black's doubled d-pawns.

In spite of this, I managed to draw after 17.Qh3 Nc5 18.exf4 Qxf4+ 19.Kb1 Bc8 20.Qf3 Qxf3 21.Nxf3 Bg4 22.Rh4 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Rxf3 24.Bb5 Rxf2 25.Rxd5 Raf8 26.b4 R8f4 27.Bc4 Rxh4 28.Rd4+ Kf8 29.Rxh4 Nd7 30.Bd3 Nf6 31.Kb2 d5 32.Ka3 b5 33.Kb3 a6 34.a4 bxa4+ 35.Kxa4 Ne4 36.Ka5 Rf6 37.Bxe4 dxe4 38.Rxe4 g6 39.hxg6 hxg6 40.c4 Kf7 41.c5 g5 42.Rc4 Rc6 43.b5 axb5 44.Kxb5 Rc8 45.c6 Kg6 46.Kb6 Kh5 47.Kb7 Rf8 48.c7 g4 49.c8=Q Rxc8 50.Kxc8 g3 51.Kd7 g2 52.Rc1 Kg4 53.Ke6 Kf3, draw.

In the second game, played at the Hamilton NJ quads later that month, White tried a London System formation with 1.Nf3 f5 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bf4 e6 4.e3 b6 5.Nbd2 Bb7 6.Bc4 Be7 7.Qe2 O-O 8.h3 a5 9.a3 Ba6 10.Ne5 Bxc4 11.Qxc4 Nd5 (Here 11...Na6 was worth considering.) 12.O-O-O Bd6 13.Ndf3 Nxf4 14.exf4 c6 15.Rhg1 b5 16.Qb3 a4 17.Qe3 Na6

18.g4 b4 19.gxf5 bxa3 20.bxa3 Qe7 21.Nc4 Rxf5 22.Nfe5 Bxe5 23.fxe5 Raf8 24.Rg2 Nc7 25.Nd6 Rf3 26.Qe4 Rxa3 27.Kb2 Nb5 28.Rdg1 Ra2+! 29.Kxa2 Nc3+ 30.Kb2 Nxe4 31.Nxe4 Qb4+ 32.Kc1 g6 33.c3 Qa3+ 34.Kd1 Qb3+ 35.Ke2 a3 36.Re1 a2 37.Rgg1 Rf4 38.Ke3 Rh4 39.Rh1 Qc2 40.f3 Rxe4+ 41.fxe4 Qxc3+ 42.Kf4 Qxd4 43.Rhf1 Qd2+ 44.Kf3 Qh2 45.Rh1 Qxe5 46.Ra1 d5 47.exd5 exd5 48.Rhe1 Qc3+ 49.Kg2 d4 50.Rf1 Qb2+ 51.Kg3 c5 52.Rae1 Qb8+ 53.Kh4 Qd8+ 54.Kg3 d3 55.Ra1 d2 56.Rfd1 Qd3+ 57.Kf2 c4 58.Rxa2 c3, 0-1. White's queenside castling backfired in this game.

Sandwiched between these two games were a pair of Staunton Gambits that I defended successfully against national master Leslie Braun at the Marshall Chess Club. Both games opened by transposition with the moves 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 e6 4.e4 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 b6 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.c3 Bb7 10.Qe2 Qe7 11.O-O-O O-O-O 12.Kb1 Rdf8 13.Rhe1 Qd8 14.g3 Be7 15.Ne5 Nxe5 16.dxe5.

In the first game, I played 16...Rf7 17.f4 g5 18.fxg5 Bxg5 19.Qh5 Rg7 20.Rf1 Be7 21.Rf2 Bxe4 (better 21...Qe8) 22.Bxe4 Rg5 23.Qe2 Kb8 24.Bc6 d6 25.Rf7 Bf8 26.exd6 Bxd6 27.Rd7 Qc8 28.R1xd6 cxd6 29.Rb7+ Qxb7 30.Bxb7 Kxb7 31.Qxe6 Rg6.

I was lucky to win this game in 64 moves. It was played at a Thursday night game/30 tournament, and my opponent missed a win before blundering in time pressure.

A few days later, at a game/60 event, I improved with 16...g5 17.Bb5 c6 18.Bc4 Qe8 19.a4 Rf5 20.Nd6+ Bxd6 21.Rxd6 Rhf8 22.Red1 Rxf2 23.Qe3 Qg6+ 24.Qd3 Qxd3+ 25.R1xd3 R2f7 26.Rd2 Kc7 27.b4 Bc8 28.Bd3 h6 29.Kb2 Rf2 30.Bc2 Rxd2 31.Rxd2 Ba6 32.Kb3 Rf3 33.Rd4 Re3 34.Re4 Rxe4 35.Bxe4 Be2 36.Kc2 d6 37.Kd2 Bc4 38.Bc2 dxe5 39.Ke3 Kd6 40.Bd1 a5 41.bxa5 bxa5 42.Bc2 Bd5 43.Bd1 Kc5 44.Bc2 e4 45.Kd2 Kc4 46.Bd1 e3+, 0-1.

In the remaining games except one, White played d4 and c4 in conjunction with fianchettoing his KB. At the 1995 Dumont Chess Club Championship in October, candidate master Jules Platt allowed a Nimzo-Indian formation by 1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Bb4 5.Qc2 b6 6.g3 Bb7 7.Bg2 O-O 8.O-O Bxc3 9.Qxc3 Ne4 10.Qc2 Qc8 11.Nd2 Nxd2 12.Bxd2 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 Qb7+ 14.f3 Nc6 15.Bc3 d6 16.Rae1 Rae8 17.b3 e5

18.dxe5 Nxe5 19.Qd2 a5 20.a4 h6 21.h3 Rf7 22.Qd4 Nd7 23.Bb2 Nc5 24.Qc3 d5 25.Kf2 d4 26.Qc2 Ne6 27.Qd3 c5 28.e3 dxe3+ 29.Rxe3 Rd8 30.Qc3 Nd4 31.Rfe1 Rdf8 32.Re8 Qd7 33.Rxf8+ Rxf8 34.Qd3 Rd8 35.Re5 Nc6 36.Rd5? Nb4 37.Qc3 Nxd5 38.cxd5 Qf7 39.Qe5 Rxd5 40.Qe2 Qd7 41.Bc3 Kf7 42.f4 g6 43.g4 fxg4 44.hxg4 Qe6 45.Qa6 Qxg4 46.Qb7+ Rd7 47.Qe4 Qe6 48.Qa8 Qxb3 49.Qh8 Qc2+, 0-1. If not for White's blunder on move 36, the game should have been drawn.

Shortly thereafter, at the Somerset NJ quads in December, national master Todd Lunna avoided the usual c4 and Nc3 in favor of the solid though less ambitious plan of Bg5 and Nbd2. Here are the moves of that game. 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.O-O Nf6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Nbd2 O-O 8.Re1 Ne4 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Ne5 d6 11.Nxe4 Bxe4 12.Bxe4 fxe4 13.Ng4 Nd7 14.Qd2 Nf6 15.Nxf6+ Qxf6 16.Qe3 Rae8 17.Kg2 d5

18.f4 c5 19.c3 Rc8 20.Rad1 c4 21.Rf1 b5 22.a3 a5 23.Rf2 b4 24.axb4 axb4 25.Ra1 Ra8 26.Rff1 b3 27.Rab1 Ra2 28.Qd2 h5 29.e3 Rfa8 30.Qe2 g6 31.h3 Kf7 32.Qf2 Ke7 33.h4 Qf5 34.Qe2 Kf6 35.Kh2 Qg4 36.Qxg4 hxg4 37.Kg2 Rh8, draw.

Two weekends later, my game as Black against national master Dean Ippolito at the Manhattan Chess Club opened as follows: 1.Nf3 e6 2.c4 f5 3.d4 Nf6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.O-O a5. I have found 6...a5 to be a useful waiting move. The problem with the mechanical development 6...Be7 and 7...O-O is that Black's KB is not very active on e7. Besides there is no need for Black to hurry with kingside castling since his king is in no danger. 7.Nc3 Bb4 8.Bd2 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 Ne4 10.Qc2 Nxc3 11.Qxc3 O-O 12.Rad1 d6 13.Ne1 Bxg2 14.Nxg2 Qe7 15.f4 Nd7 16.Qf3 Nf6 17.Ne1 Ne4 18.Nd3 Rad8 19.Nf2 Nxf2 20.Rxf2 d5

21.Qc3 Qb4 22.Rc1 Qxc3 23.Rxc3 Rf7 24.e3 Re7 25.Rfc2 Rdd7 26.a4 dxc4 27.Rxc4 Kf7 28.Kf2 Ke8 29.Kf3 h5 30.h3 g6 31.e4 Kd8 32.b4 axb4 33.Rxb4 Rd6 34.g4 hxg4+ 35.hxg4 Rh7 36.Rbc4 Rh3+ 37.Kg2 Rh7 38.Kf3 Rh3+ 39.Kg2 Rh7 40.Kf3, draw.

National master Sean Colure fianchettoed both his bishops against my Dutch Defense at the Somerset NJ quads in February 1996, as follows: 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.O-O Nf6 6.b3 Be7 7.Bb2 O-O 8.Nbd2 Qc8 9.c4 d6 10.Qc2 Ne4 11.Ne1 Nxd2 12.Qxd2 Bxg2 13.Nxg2 Nd7 14.f3 e5 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.Qd5+ Kh8 17.Rad1 Bd6

18.Kh1 Nf6 19.Qc6 Qe8 20.Qxe8 Raxe8 21.Ne3 g6 22.Kg2 Kg8 23.Nd5 Nxd5 24.Rxd5 e4 25.f4 Kf7 26.Rfd1 a5 27.h3 Ke6 28.Be5 Bxe5 29.Rxe5+ Kf6 30.Rd7 Rxe5 31.fxe5+ Kxe5 32.Rxc7 Kd4 33.Kf2 Kc3 34.c5 bxc5 35.Rxc5+ Kb4 36.Rc4+ Kb5 37.Rc7 h5 38.Ke3 Rd8 39.Rb7+ Kc5 40.a4 Kc6 41.Ra7 Kb6 42.Rg7, draw.

At the USATE 1996, my game as Black against senior master Angelo Young varied from the Ippolito game by transposition with 7.d5 Na6 8.Nd4 Bc5 9.Nc3 O-O 10.Nb3 e5 11.a3 Qc8 12.Nxc5 Nxc5 13.Be3 d6 14.b4 axb4 15.axb4 Rxa1 16.Qxa1 Nce4 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Qb1 Nf6 19.Qb3 Qa8 20.Qb2 Qa6

21.b5 Qa4 22.Rc1 Ra8 23.f3 Qa2 24.Qc2 Qxc2 25.Rxc2 Bc8 26.Kf2 Nh5 27.Bc1 f4 28.Rc3 Ra4 29.Bf1 g5 30.Ra3 Rxc4 31.Bxf4 gxf4 32.Ra8 Kg7 33.Rxc8 Nf6 34.gxf4 exf4 35.Bh3 Rc5 36.Be6 Kg6 37.h3 h6 38.h4 h5 39.Ke1 Nxd5 40.Bxd5 Rxd5 41.Rxc7 Rxb5 42.Rc6 Kf5 43.Rxd6 Ke5 44.Rd8 Rb1+ 45.Kd2 Rh1 46.Rb8 Rxh4 47.Rxb6 Rh2 48.Rh6 Kf5 49.Rh8 Kg5 50.Kd3 h4 51.Rg8+ Kf5 52.Rf8+ Kg5 53.Rg8+ Kf5 54.Rg4 h3 55.Rh4 Kg5 56.Rh8 Kf5 57.e3 fxe3 58.Kxe3 Rh1 59.Kf2 Kf4 60.Rf8+ Kg5 61.Kg3 Kg6 62.Ra8 Kf5 63.Ra5+ Kg6 64.Ra4 Kf5 65.Ra5+ Kg6 66.Rb5 Rf1 67.Rb2 Kf5 68.Rb5+ Kg6 69.Rb3 Rh1 70.Kf4 Rg1 71.Rb6+ Kg7 72.Rb7+ Kg6 73.Rb6+ Kg7 74.Rb7+ Kg6 75.Rb6+, draw.

Finally, at the Somerset NJ quads in March 1996, my game as Black against national master Neil Basescu reached by a different move order the position from the Platt game after move 15 but continued instead with 16.e4 fxe4 17.fxe4 e5 18.d5 Ne7

19.b4 Rxf1 20.Rxf1 Rf8 21.Rxf8+ Kxf8 22.c5 Qa6 23.cxd6 cxd6 24.Be1 Qa3 25.b5 Ke8 26.Bd2 h6 27.Bc1 Qb4 28.Qd3 Kd7 29.a3 Qa4 30.Kf3 Ng8 31.Bd2?! Qd1+ 32.Qe2 Qb3+ 33.Kg2 Nf6 34.Qf3 Qc2 35.Qf5+ Kc7 36.Qf2 Qxe4+ 37.Kg1 Qxd5 38.Bxh6 Ng4 39.Qc2+ Kb8 40.Bxg7? Qd4+ 41.Kh1 Qa1+, 0-1.

*{This article originally appeared in the March-April 1996 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Monday, February 26, 2007

Philidor Counter Gambit 1996

In the past year*, I have played many exciting games in the Philidor Counter Gambit, my favorite defense.

After the opening moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.dxe5 fxe4 5.Ng5 d5, candidate master John MacArthur tried Steinitz's 6.Nc3, at the Somerset NJ quads in August 1995. The game proceeded 6...Bb4 7.Qd4 c5 8.Bb5+ Nc6 9.Qd1 Nge7 10.O-O Bxc3 11.bxc3 O-O 12.c4 Nd4 13.cxd Qxd5 14.Ba4

b5! 15.Bxb5 h6 16.Ba4 Ba6 17.Nh3 Bxf1 18.Qxf1 Qxe5 19.c3 Ne6 20.Bb3 Kh8 21.Qc4 Rf6 22.Be3 Rd8 23.Re1 Rd3 24.Bd4 cxd4 25.Qxd3 exd3 26.Rxe5 dxc3 27.Re4 Nc5 28.Rc4 Nxb3 29.Rxc3 d2 30.Rd3 Re6 31.Rd8+ Kh7, 0-1.

National master Sunil Weeramantry played the more usual 6.e6 at the Somerset NJ quads in October 1995 but with no more success after 6...Bc5 7.Nxe4 Be7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qe5 Nf6 10.Ng5 O-O 11.Nf7 Nc6 12.Qe2 Qe8 13.c3 Nd8 14.Bh6 Nxe6 15.Bxf8 Bxf8 16.Ne5 Nf4 17.Qe3 Bh6 18.Kd1

Nh3! 19.Qxh6 Nxf2+ 20.Kc2 Qxe5 21.Rg1 N2g4 22.Qd2 Qxh2 23.Qd4 Bf5+ 24.Kb3 b6 25.Nd2 c5 26.Nf3 Qd6 27.Qe5?? (27.Qd2 c4+ 28.Bxc4 dxc4+ 29.Kxc4 Be6+ 30.Kb5 Qc5+ 31.Ka6 Bc8#) Nxe5, 0-1.

Class A player Asuka Nakamura lost in a similar fashion at the Somerset NJ quads in April 1996 varying with 13.Bh6 Nd4 14.Qd2 Bb4 15.c3 Qxe6+ 16.Kd1 Rxf7 17.Qxd4 Ng4

18.Be3 c5 19.Qd2 d4 20.Bf4 dxc3 21.bxc3 Rd7 22.Bd3 Rxd3, 0-1.

Instead of 8.Qh5+,candidate master Richard Lunenfeld attempted Kosten's recommendation of 8.Ng5, at the Hamilton NJ quads in January 1996. The outcome of the game was the same following 8...Bxg5 9.Qh5+ g6 10.Qxg5 Qxg5 11.Bxg5 c6 12.Bd3 Bxe6 13.h4 Nd7 14.h5 gxh5 15.Rxh5 Ngf6 16.Rh6 Kf7 17.Nd2 Rag8 18.f4 Rg7 19.O-O-O Ng4

20.f5 Bxf5 21.Bxf5 Rxg5 22.Bxg4 Rxg4 23.Rf1+ Ke7 24.Re1+ Kd8 25.Re2 Rg6 26.Rh3 Nf6 27.c4 Re8 28.Rxe8+ Kxe8 29.cxd5 cxd5 30.Rb3 b6 31.Ra3 Rxg2 32.Rxa7 h5 33.Nf3 Rf2 34.Nh4 Rf4 35.Ng6 Rc4+ 36.Kd2 h4 37.Re7+ Kd8 38.Re6 Ne4+ 39.Ke3 h3 40.Ne5 Rc2 41.Rh6 h2 42.Kf3 Rxb2 43.Ng4 Rxa2 44.Nxh2 Kc7 45.Kf4 Nd6 46.Ng4 Ra4+ 47.Kf3 b5 48.Ne5 b4 49.Rh7+ Kb6 50.Rh6 Kc7 51.Rh7+ Kc8 52.Rh8+ Kb7 53.Rh7+ Ka8 54.Rh8+ Ka7 55.Rh7+ Nb7 56.Rd7 Ka6 57.Nd3 Ra3 58.Rxd5 Nc5 59.Ke2 Nxd3 60.Rxd3 Kb5 61.Rd8 Rc3 62.Kd2 Ka4 63.Rb8 Kb3 64.Rb7 Rc4 65.Rb8 Kb2 66.Rb7 b3 67.Rb8 Rd4+ 68.Ke3 Rd7 69.Ke2 Kc2 70.Rc8+ Kb1 71.Rb8 b2 72.Ra8 Rd5 73.Ra7 Kc2 74.Rc7+ Kb3, 0-1.

At the USATE 1996, candidate master Jonathan Wolff avoided 7.Nxe4, but his 7.Nf7 led to quick defeat after 7...Qf6 8.Qe2 Bxe6 9.Nxh8 Nc6 10.c3 O-O-O 11.Nd2 Ne5 12.Nb3 Nd3+ 13.Kd2 Bxf2 14.Kc2 Nh6 15.Be3 Rxh8 16.Qd2

Ng4 17.Bxf2 Ndxf2 18.Rg1 e3 19.Qd4 Bf5+ 20.Kc1 Qxd4 21.Nxd4 Be4 22.h3 Ne5 23.b3 Rf8 24.Kb2 Nfd3+ 25.Bxd3 Nxd3+ 26.Ka3 c5 27.Nc2 Rf6 28.b4 Ra6+ 29.Kb3, 0-1.

The Zukertort attack 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Nxe5 dxe4 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Nxg6 Nf6 9.Qe5+ Kf7 was featured in several games. At the Somerset NJ quads in September 1995, candidate master John Mather continued with 10.Bc4+ Kg7 11.Bh6+ Kxh6 12.Nxh8 Bb4+ 13.c3 Qxh8 14.cxb4 Qf8 15.Rc1 Qxb4+ 16.Kf1 (16.Rc3!?) Qd6 17.f4 Kg7 18.Bb5 Nc6 19.Qxd6 cxd6 20.Bxc6 bxc6 21.Rxc6 d5 22.Ke2 Bd7 23.Rc7 Kg6 24.Rhc1 Bb5+ 25.Kd2 a6

26.Re7 Re8 27.Re5 Rxe5 28.fxe5 Ng4 29.Rc5 e3+ 30.Ke1 Nf2 31.a4 Bc4 32.Rc6+ Kf5 33.Rf6+ Ke4 34.e6 Nd3+ 35.Kd1 Bb3+ 36.Ke2 Nf4+ 37.Ke1 Nxg2+ 38.Kf1 Nf4 39.e7 Bxa4 40.Rf8 Bb5+ 41.Kg1 Kf3 42.e8=Q Bxe8 43.Rxe8 e2 44.h4 Nd3 45.Rf8+ Kg3, 0-1.

At the Manhattan Chess Club in December 1995, candidate master Victor Ying preferred 15.a3 but was defeated after 15...Qd6 16.O-O-O Nbd7 17.Qxd6 cxd6 18.f3 Nb6 19.Bb3 exf3 20.gxf3

Bf5 21.Kd2 Bd7 22.Rde1 Nbd5 23.Rhg1 Rc8 24.Bxd5 Nxd5 25.Re4 Kh5 26.h4 h6 27.Rc1 Rg8 28.Rf1 Rg2+ 29.Kc1 Bf5 30.Re8 Rc2+ 31.Kd1 Rxb2 32.Rg1?? Rb1+, 0-1.

Rather than 10.Bc4+, national master Stanislav Ritvin essayed 10.Nxh8+, at the Somerset NJ quads in March 1996. This led to a hard-fought victory for Black following 10...Kg7 11.Bh6+ Kxh8 12.Bxf8 Nc6 13.Qc5 Nd7 14.Qd5 Qxf8 15.Qxe4?! Qb4+ 16.Kd1 Qxb2 17.Rc1 Nf6 18.Qf4 Qxd4+ 19.Qxd4 Nxd4

20.Bd3 Bg4+ 21.Kd2 Rd8 22.Rhe1 Bf5 23.Bxf5 Nxf5+ 24.Ke2 Kg7 25.Kf1 Kf7 26.Rcd1 Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Nd6 28.Ke2 Ke6 29.Kd3 Nd5 30.Re1+ Kf6 31.g3 Nb4+ 32.Kc3 a5 33.a3? Nb5+ 34.Kb3 Nd4+ 35.Kc3 Ndxc2 36.Rd1 Nxa3 37.Rd7 h6 38.Kb3 Nb5 39.h4 (39.Ka4 Nc3+ 40.Kxa5?? Nc6#) Na6 40.Rd5 a4+ 41.Kb2 c6 42.Rh5 Kg6 43.Re5 Nac7 44.g4 Nd5 45.Re6+ Kg7 46.f4 Nxf4 47.Re7+ Kg6 48.Rxb7 Nd3+ 49.Ka1 Ne5 50.Rb6 Nd4 51.Ra6 Nxg4 52.Rxa4 c5 53.Kb2 Ne5 54.Kc3 Ndf3 55.Re4 Kf5 56.Ra4 h5 57.Ra5 c4 58.Ra1 Kg4 59.Rh1 Nxh4 60.Rg1+ Kf4 61.Rh1 Kg5 62.Rg1+ Kh6 63.Rg8 Nhf3 64.Kc2 h4 65.Kd1 Kh5 66.Ke2 h3 67.Rh8+ Kg4 68.Rg8+ Kf4 69.Rf8+ Ke4 70.Kf2 h2 71.Kg2 Ng4 72.Re8+ Nge5 73.Rf8 c3 74.Rc8 Kd3 75.Rd8+ Ke2 76.Rc8 Kd2 77.Rd8+ Nd3 78.Kh1 c2 79.Rc8 Nf2+, 0-1.

There were also some games in the lines featuring Bc4. At the Manhattan Chess Club in October 1995, candidate master Nagib Gebran played 4.Bc4 but went down to defeat after 4...exd4 5.Ng5 Nh6 6.O-O Nc6 7.Re1 f4 8.Bxf4 Qf6 9.Qf3 Be7 10.Bd5 Ne5 11.Qg3 c6 12.Bb3 Bd7 13.Bd2 O-O-O 14.f4 Ng6 15.e5 Qf5 16.e6 Be8 17.Bc4 Qc5 18.Bd3 Nf5 19.Qh3 Ne3 20.Ne4

Nxf4 21.Qf3 Qe5 22.c3? Nxd3 23.cxd4 Nxe1 24.Qxe3 Nc2 25.dxe5 Nxe3 26.Bxe3 d5 27.Ng5 d4 28.Bf4 Rf8 29.g3 h6 30.Ne4 g5 31.Bd2 Bg6 32.Nf2 Bf5 33.Na3 Bxe6 34.Nc2 Bc5 35.Nd3 Bb6 36.b3 Bf5 37.Nce1 Rde8 38.Kg2 Be4+ 39.Kg1 Rf5 40.Bb4 Rexe5 41.Nxe5 d3+, 0-1.

Finally, here are the moves of my game as Black against candidate master George Krauss from the Hamilton NJ quads in February 1996: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 f5 4.Bxg8 Rxg8 5.d3 c6 6.c4 Nd7 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.O-O f4 9.d4 Qc7 10.b3 Bg4 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Bb2 g5 13.Qe2 O-O-O 14.Rad1 Rxd1 15.Rxd1

Bxf3 16.Qxf3 g4 17.Qd3 g3 18.hxg3 fxg3 19.f3?! (19.Qe3!?) Qb6+ 20.Kh1?? (20.c5 ) Rg5, 0-1.

In April 1996, I purchased an electronic book featuring over 2,000 games in the Philidor Defense. Of these, approximately 65 were the 3...f5 variation. I would like to conclude this article with a sampling of these PCG's.

Showalter - Blackburne, London 1899

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.dxe5 fxe4 5.Nd4 d5 6.Nc3 c6 7.Be2 Bb4 8.O-O Ne7 9.Bh5+ Ng6 10.f4 O-O 11.Bxg6 hxg6 12.Nce2 Qh4 13.Be3 Na6 14.c3 Bc5 15.b4 Bb6 16.Qb3 Qe7 17.a4 Be6 18.a5 Bxd4 19.Nxd4 Rac8 20.Nxe6 Qxe6 21.Bxa7 g5 22.Rae1 Nc7 23.Bb6 gxf4 24.Bxc7 Rxc7 25.Rxe4 Rcf7 26.Re2 f3 27.gxf3 Rxf3 28.Rfe1 Qh3 29.Qb1 Qh4 30.e6 Rf2, 0-1.

Stepanov - Maliutin, Moscow 1992

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Neg5 h6 7.Nf7 Kxf7 8.Nxe5+ Ke7 9.Ng6+ Kf6 10.Qf3+ Bf5 11.Nxh8 Qe7+ 12.Be2 Qe4 13.g4 Qxf3 14.Bxf3 Bxc2 15.h4 Nc6 16.g5+ Kf5 17.Be3 Bb4+ 18.Kf1 Nge7 19.Nf7 Rf8 20.Bh5 Ke6 21.a3 Ba5 22.Ne5 Nxe5 23.dxe Nf5 24.Bc5 Rh8 25.b4 Bb6 26.Bxb6 axb6 27.Rc1 Nd4 28.Re1 Be4 29.Bg4+ Kxe5 30.f3 Rf8 31.Rh3 Kd6 32.Kg2 Bc2 33.Kg3 c5 34.Rh2 Bd3 35.bxc5+ bxc5 36.Rb2 b5 37.gxh6 gxh6 38.Kf2 c4 39.Rd2 Ra8 40.f4 Rxa3 41.Re8 Nb3 42.Rxd3 cxd3 43.f5 Nc5 44.f6 Ne4+ 45.Kg2 Ra2+ 46.Kg1 Ra7 47.Re6+ Kc5, 0-1.

Martin - Schlenker, Germany 1990

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Bc4 exd4 5.Nxd4 fxe4 6.Bxg8 Rxg8 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qd5 Rg7 9.Bg5 Be7 10.Qxe4 Bf5 11.Qxb7 Bxg5 12.Nxf5 gxf5 13.Qxa8 Re7+ 14.Kd1 c6 15.Re1 Qb6 16.Nd2 Bxd2 17.Rxe7+ Kxe7 18.Kxd2 Qxf2+ 19.Kd3 Nd7 20.Qb7 Ke6 21.Qc8 Ke7 22.Qb7 Ke6, draw.

Airapetian - Arhipkin, Erevan 1981

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.exf5 e4 5.Ng5 Nf6 6.Ne6 Bxe6 7.fxe6 d5 8.Be2 Qd6 9.O-O Qxe6 10.f3 Bd6 11.fxe4 dxe4 12.b3 Nbd7 13.Na3 c6 14.Nc4 Bc7 15.Ne3 O-O-O 16.b4 Qd6 17.g3 Qxb4 18.a3 Qc3 19.Rb1 Ne5 20.Nf5 Nf3+ 21.Bxf3 exf3 22.Rxf3 Qc4 23.Rb4 Qf7 24.Qf1 Rhe8 25.Rfb3 Bb6 26.Bf4 Ne4 27.Qh3 Qd7 28.Qxh7 g5 29.Qxd7+ Rxd7 30.Be3 g4 31.Rd3 Rd5 32.Nh6 Nf6 33.Kg2 Rh5 34.Nf7 Bc7 35.Rb1 Nd5 36.Bf2 Re2 37.c4 Nb6 38.c5 Rf5 39.Rf1 Rxf7 40.cxb6 Bxb6 41.Kg1 Kd7 42.Be3 Rxf1+ 43.Kxf1 Rxh2 44.d5 c5 45.Bf4 c4 46.Rd1 Rh1+ 47.Ke2 Rxd1 48.Kxd1 Bc7 49.Be3 a6 50.Kc2 Be5 51.Bc5 b5 52.a4 Bd6 53.Bf2 b4 54.Kd2 Be5 55.Bc5 b3 56.Bb4 Bxg3, 0-1.

*{This article originally appeared in the May-June 1996 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Sunday, February 25, 2007

King's Indian Defense

At the New York Open 1996*, my best game was played in round four as Black against WGM Anjelina Belakovskaya.

Game One

Anjelina Belakovskaya (FIDE 2315) - Jim West (FIDE 2210), New York Open 4/5/1996

1. d4 Nf6

Lately I have been playing 1...e6 2.c4 f5, transposing into the classical Dutch Defense without having to worry about the Staunton Gambit, the Korchnoi Gambit, or even offbeat continuations like 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5. Since this was a FIDE-rated game, I decided to fall back on my old standby, the King's Indian Defense.

2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Bf4

But I wind up playing against an offbeat continuation anyway! I guess my opponent avoided the usual 4.e4 because she has defended against it herself when playing Black, as I observed in a later round.

4...O-O 5.e3 c5

This seemed to me the correct way to proceed against White's unambitious system.


I was pleasantly surprised by this move, having expected either 6.d5 or 6.Nf3.

6...Qa5 7.Nf3?!

Perhaps my opponent was having a bad day. I had expected 7.Qd2, preventing Black's next move.


Only now did she look worried. Apparently she had overlooked this rather obvious move, exploiting the pin against the knight on c3.

8.Be5 Bxe5

The immediate 8...Nxc3 also came into consideration. But after 9.Qd2, Black probably has nothing better than 9...Bxe5 anyway.

9.Nxe5 Nxc3 10.Qd2

Here I went into a long think and came up with the risky plan of sacrificing a pawn. Simply 10...Qxc5 would have given Black a good game. Also worthy of consideration was 10...Nc6 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Qxc3 Qxc5.

10...d6!? 11.Nd3 Nc6 12.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 13.bxc3 dxc5 14.Nxc5

So White is up a pawn, but Black has compensation in White's doubled c-pawns. The only question is whether it is enough.

14...b6 15.Nb3 Ne5!

The idea behind this move is to start attacking the weak c-pawns by ...Ba6 and ...Rac8, while inviting White to play the weakening move 16.f4 after which 16...Ng4 would be awkward for White.

16.c5 Be6

Now 17.cxb6 axb6 would create the threat of 18...Bxb3.

17.Ba6 Rab8

I spent a long time on this move which prevents Bb7 and also allows Black to recapture on b6 with the rook after an eventual cxb6.

18.f4 Bc4!

Once White's bishop has been exchanged, the c8 square will become available for one of Black's rooks.

19.Bxc4 Nxc4 20.cxb6 Rxb6

At this point, I was extremely satisfied with my position. Black's knight on c4 is a monster, and Black's rooks have good play on the queenside. In addition, White has weak pawns on c3 and e3. It now became apparent that my pawn sacrifice had been successful.

21.Kf2 Nd6!

The threat of a knight fork on e4 is now in the air.

22.Rac1 Rc8 23.Rhd1 Ra6!

Now I felt that I had a slight advantage, despite my temporary pawn deficit.

24.c4 Rxa2+ 25.Kf3 Nxc4!

That this move was playable appeared to surprise my opponent.

26.Rd4 Ra3

Of course, Black must avoid 26...Nb6? 27.Rxc8+ Nxc8 28.Rd8+ Kg7 29.Rxc8.

27.Rdxc4 Rxc4 28.Rxc4 Rxb3 29.Rc7 e6

Having gotten this far, I decided not to press my luck with 29...a5 30.Rxe7 a4 31.Ra7 Ra3 since White's active rook offsets Black's outside passed pawn. Upon playing 29...e6, I offered my opponent a draw which she accepted at once in view of 30.Rxa7 h5 with a dead-drawn position.

As part of my opening preparation for this tournament, I had taken the King's Indian Defense out of mothballs and played it the previous weekend at the Manhattan Chess Club.

Game Two

Ilijas Terzic ( USCF 2295) - Jim West (USCF 2230), Manhattan Chess Club 3/31/1996

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 O-O 5.e4 d6 6.h3

White's plan here is not to go into the Makagonov system but rather to steal a tempo on the line 6.Be2 e5 7.dxe5. It is not clear that having the white h-pawn on h3 instead of h2 amounts to anything tangible.

6...e5 7.dxe5

The usual continuation is 7.d5.

7...dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Nd5 Nxd5 10.cxd5 c6 11.Bc4 cxd5 12.Bxd5 Nd7 13.Bg5 Re8

Except for the white h-pawn being advanced an extra square, the position reached is identical with Teschner-Fischer, Stockholm 1962 which ended in a draw after 41 moves.


This is Mednis's recommendation. Instead Teschner played 14.Rc1, but after 14...h6 15.Be3 Nf6 16.Bb3 Nxe4 17.Rc7 Be6 18.Bxe6 Rxe6 19.Rxb7 Ra6 Fischer had slightly the better of it.

14...Nc5 15.Ke2 Ne6 16.Be3 Nf4+ 17.Bxf4 exf4

I have had great success with this type of position in the past against masters. Black's dark-squared bishop exerts powerful pressure on the long diagonal.


White would like to play 18.Nc4, but then 18...Be6 disallows 19.Nd6? on account of 19...Bxd5 20.Nxe8 Rxe8.

18...Bxb2 19.Rc7 Be6 20.Bxe6

No better is 20.Bxb7 Rab8 21.Bc6 Rec8 22.Rxc8+ Rxc8 23.Bd5 Rc2.

20...Rxe6 21.Rb1 Be5 22.Rcxb7 Ra6!

Once again, this rook move yields Black a slight advantage.

23.Nc4 Rxa2+ 24.Kf3 Bd4!

This move gains time by counterattacking the f2 pawn.


White did not want to play passively with 25.Rf1 a5 26.Nd6 Rf8.

25...Rxf2+ 26.Ke4 Bb6 27.Rd1 Rc2 28.Nd6

Better drawing chances may have been offered by 28.Nxb6 axb6 29.Rdd7.

28...Rc7 29.Rxc7 Bxc7 30.Nxf7

White had counted on this tactical trick to regain a pawn, but the rook-and-pawn ending is lost due to the ideal placement of the black rook on a8 in back of the passed pawn.

30...Kxf7 31.Rd7+ Ke6 32.Rxc7 a5

In order to stop the a-pawn, White will be reduced to total passivity.

33.Rc6+ Kd7 34.Kd5 a4 35.e6+ Kd8!

It is important to keep White's rook off the seventh rank.

36.Rc4 g5 37.Rd4 a3 38.Ke5+ Ke8 39.Rd1 a2 40.Ra1 Ke7

The remainder of the game requires no commentary.

41.Kf5 Ra5+ 42.Kg4 Kxe6 43.h4 h6 44.hxg5 hxg5 45.g3 fxg3 46.Kxg3 Kf5 47.Kf3 g4+ 48.Ke3 g3 49.Kf3 Ra3+ 50.Kg2 Ke4 51.Kg1 Kd3, White resigns.

In both these games, Black's rooks had good play on the a-file.

*{This article originally appeared in the July-August 1996 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Two Knights Defense, Morphy Variation

In a previous article, I analyzed several games in which I played the Evans Gambit after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4. Here I will give a pair of games against masters featuring the Two Knights Defense 3...Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.d3, called Morphy's variation by Yakov Estrin in his book on this opening. Actually 6.d3 was originally analyzed by Max Lange in 1849. Both games took place at the Marshall Chess Club, in June and July of this year respectively*.

Game One

Jim West (USCF 2226) - Arkady Rabinovich (USCF 2291), Marshall Chess Club 6/22/1996

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5

Other fifth moves for Black, such as 5...Nxd5 or 5...Nd4 or 5...b5, will not be considered in this article.

6.d3 h6 7.Nf3 e4

A few months later, at the Hamilton NJ quads in August, candidate master George Krauss played the inferior 7...Bg4 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Bd6 and lost in 30 moves.


On Bronstein's bishop sacrifice 8.dxe4 Nxc4 9.Qd4, Euwe gave the following refutation: 9...Nd6 10.e5 Nf5 11.Qa4+ Qd7! or 10.Nc3 Nfxe4 11.Nxe4 Qe7 12.O-O Nxe4 13.Re1 f5 14.Nd2 Qc5.

8...Nxc4 9.dxc4 Bc5 10.h3 O-O 11.Nh2 e3

When Morphy faced this variation as Black, he played 11...Nh7 and 12...f5. Alternatively Black can try 11...b5 or 11...c6, and in both cases 12.O-O may be White's best response.

12.Bxe3 Bxe3 13.fxe3 Ne4 14.O-O Ng3 15.Qd3 Nxf1 16.Nxf1 Qg5 17.Kh1 Bd7

Instead Estrin gave 17...Bf5 18.Qe2 Rfe8 19.Nc3, concluding that "White has sufficient compensation for the exchange" although Keres rated the position after 17...Bf5 as slightly better for Black.

18.Nc3 Rae8 19.Re1 f5 20.Nh2 Re7 21.Nf3 Qh5 22.c5 Rfe8 23.d6

Already White stands better. The passed d-pawn is powerful.

23...cxd6 24.cxd6 Re6 25.Nd5 Re4

Naturally Black avoids 25...Rxd6 26.Ne7+ Rxe7 27.Qxd6.

26.Nc7 Rb8 27.Qd5+ Qf7 28.Nd4 Qxd5 29.Nxd5 Kf7 30.c4 Rc8 31.b3 g6

With two healthy pawns for the exchange, White has good winning chances.

32.Kg1 Bc6?! 33.Ne7 Rd8 34.Ndxc6 bxc6

I think my opponent intended to play 34...Rxd6 but suddenly realized that 35.Nxa7 Rxe7 36.Nc8 drops the exchange.

35.c5! Ke6 36.Nxc6

With three pawns for the exchange, White has a won endgame. But the win is still difficult.

36...Rc8 37.Nd4+ Kd7 38.b4 f4 39.Nc2 Rc4 40.Re2 fxe3 41.a3 Rc3 42.Nxe3 Re8 43.Kf2 Rxa3 44.Nc4! Rxe2+ 45.Kxe2

Black has won back a pawn, but White's passed pawns can not be stopped.

45...Rb3 46.Ne5+ Ke6 47.d7 Ke7 48.c6 Rc3 49.Kd2! Rxc6 50.Nxc6+ Kxd7 51.Nxa7

Ordinarily Black would resign here, but with a time limit of game/60 he plays on.

51...Kc7 52.Kc3 Kb6 53.Nc8+ Kc7 54.Ne7 g5 55.g4 Kb6 56.Nf5

And here Black finally resigned.

Game Two

Jim West (USCF 2225) - Vladimir Grechikhin (USCF 2200), Marshall Chess Club 7/21/1996

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.d3 Bc5 7.O-O Nxc4 8.dxc4 h6 9.Nf3 e4 10.Nd4

Since Black has played ...Nxc4 prematurely, this centralizing knight move is now possible, as the d-pawn is protected.

10...O-O 11.h3 c6 12.Nb3! Be7 13.Nc3

Black has little to show for his pawn deficit.

13...Qc7 14.Be3 Rd8 15.Qd2 b5 16.Bf4 Qd7 17.cxb5 cxd5 18.Rad1

White has successfully completed his development and is prepared to exploit the d4 square.

18...Bb4 19.Nd4 Bb7 20.a3 Ba5 21.b4 Bb6 22.a4 a5 23.bxa6 Bxa6 24.b5 Bb7 25.Be3 Ba5 26.Nb3 Bxc3 27.Qxc3 Rxa4??

This move should have lost immediately.

28.Nc5 Qxb5 29.Nxa4?!

I played too quickly here, even though the first time control of 30/90 was looming. It would only have taken a few seconds to realize that 29.Rb1! wins outright.

29...Qxa4 30.Bxh6 d4

Although White is an exchange ahead, Black's advanced center pawns are nettlesome.

31.Qg3 Ne8 32.Bg5 Rd6 33.Rb1 Qc6 34.Qb3 Ba6 35.Rfe1 Re6 36.Bf4 Rg6 37.g4 Re6 38.Qb4 e3 39.Qxd4 e2

Black hopes to create mating threats on the long diagonal.

40.Be3 Qf3 41.Kh2 Nd6

On 41...Bb7, White reaches a two-pawns-up ending by 42.Rxb7 Qxb7 43.Rxe2.

42.Qf4 Qd5 43.Qg3 Ne4? 44.Rb8+ Kh7 45.Qh4+ Kg6 46.f4! Qd6 47.Rb6 Qc7 48.Qh5+ Kf6 49.Qf5+ Ke7 50.Rxe6+ fxe6 51.Qxe4

The rest is easy.

51...Bb7 52.Qd4 Kf7 53.Qc5 Qd7 54.f5 Qd1 55.fxe6+ Kxe6 56.Qf5+ Ke7 57.Bc5+ Ke8 58.Qe6+ Kd8 59.Bb6#.

*{This article originally appeared in the September-October 1996 issue of Atlantic Chess News}