Monday, April 30, 2007

Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack

In the year before his death in November 1944, Frank Marshall wrote these words regarding his famous gambit 8...d5 in the Ruy Lopez that he sprang on Capablanca a quarter of a century earlier: "I had been analyzing the variation for many years and came to the conclusion that the attack must be sound. I am still of the same opinion. By this I do not mean that Black necessarily wins; I merely claim that the attack gives Black many winning chances and should be good for at least a draw."

Today, some 45 years later*, this assessment is still a correct one. The Marshall Attack continues to be played at the grandmaster level, as can be seen in the games of Geller and Nunn to follow.

As I did in a previous article on the Sicilian Dragon, I have taken the liberty of using Robert Byrne's annotations from his column in The New York Times, for illustrative games one through three. In illustrative game four, I have made use of the winner's notes, to be found in New in Chess Yearbook #6.

The psychological frame of mind, needed by the players of the black pieces in these games, was best described by Marshall himself in My Fifty Years of Chess: "I have always liked a wide open game and tried to knock out my opponent with a checkmate as quickly as possible. I subscribe to the old belief that offense is the best defense."

Illustrative Game One

Braga-Geller, Amsterdam 1986

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.g3 Bf6 13.Re1 c5 14.d4 Bb7!?

This is an attempt to improve upon 14...cxd4? 15.cxd4 Bb7 16.Nc3 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Qd7 18.Bb2 +/=, Matanovic-Geller, Sousse Interzonal 1967.

15.dxc5 Re8 16.Nd2

But not 16.Rxe8+ Qxe8 17.Bxd5? Rd8 18.Be3 Qe4! 19.Nd2 (19.Bxe4 Rxd1+ 20.Kg2 Bxe4+ 21.f3 Rxb1) Qxd5 20.f3 Bg5! 21.Bxg5 Qxg5.

16...Nxc3! 17.bxc3 Bxc3 18.c6 Bxc6 19.Rxe8+ Qxe8 20.Rb1 Rd8 21.Qc2

If instead 21.Rb2 a5! 22.Rc2 Qe4! 23.Qf3 (23.f3 Qd4+ 24.Kg2 a4 25.Rxc3 Qxc3 26.Bc2 Bxf3+! 27.Qxf3 Qxc2) Qxf3 (23...Qe1+ 24.Kg2 Bxf3+ 25.Nxf3 Qe7 26.Rxc3 unclear; or 23...Qe1+ 24.Kg2 Rxd2! 25.Bxd2!) 24.Nxf3 Rd1+ 25.Kg2 Rd3! 26.Be3 a4 27.Rxc3 Rxc3 28.Bd1 Ra3 -+.

21...Bxd2 22.Bxd2 Be4 23.Bxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qb3+ Bd5 25.Qb4 Qe4 26.Qxe4 Bxe4 27.Rb2 Rd4 28.h3 Bd5 29.Rc2 Ra4 30.Rc7+ Ke6 31.g4

Bad is 31.Rxg7? Rxa2 31.Be1 Ra1 32.Kf1 Bc4+.

31...Rxa2 32.Be3 b4 33.Bd4 g5 34.Rxh7 Rd2 35.Bh8 Rd1+ 36.Kh2 Rh1+ 37.Kg3 Rg1+ 38.Kh2 Rg2+ 39.Kh1 Rxg4+ 40.Kh2 Rh4! 41.Rxh4 gxh4 42.f4 a5, White resigns.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Illustrative Game Two

Belyavsky-Malaniuk, USSR Championship 1987

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re2 Qh4 14.g3 Qh5 15.Nd2 Bh3

Or 15...Bg4 16.f3 Bxf3 17.Nxf3 Qxf3 18.Rf2 Qxd1+ 19.Bxd1 Rae8 20.Bf3 +/=.

16.f3 Bc7 17.Ne4 Rae8

If 17...Qxf3, then 18.Ng5 Qh5 19.Nxh3 Qxh3 20.Qf1 +/=.

18.Qd3!? Re6 19.Bd2 Rg6 20.g4!? Bxg4!?

Alternatives are:

a) 20...f5 21.Ng3! Bxg3 (21...Qh4 22.Nxf5) 22.hxg3! (22.gxh5?! Bf2+ 23.Kxf2 Rg2+ 24.Kf1 Rg3+ 25.Kf2 Rg2+ 26.Kf1 Rg3+ 27.Rg2?! Rxg2 28.Qe3!? f4 29.Qe7 Rxd2+ 30.Kg1 h6 unclear) fxg4 23.Re5! Rxf3 24.Qe4! Rxg3+ 25.Kh2 Qh4 26.Bxd5+ cxd5 27.Qxd5+ Kf8 28.Qa8+ Kf7 29.Qe8+ Kf6 30.Qe7#;

b) 20...Qh4 21.Be1 Qd8 22.Bxd5 cxd5 23.Ng3 Bxg3 24.Bxg3 f5 25.gxf5 Bxf5 +/=.

21.fxg4 Rxg4+ 22.Ng3 f5 23.Rg2 Qh3 24.Rf1! Rf6

White answers 24...f4 with 25.Qe4!.

25.Rf3 h5

Now 25...f4 is met by 26.Qe2! fxg3? 27.Qe8+.

26.Qe2 Rfg6 27.Bc2, Black resigns.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Illustrative Game Three

Ljubojevic-Nunn, Szirak Interzonal 1987

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re2 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3!? 15.Nd2

The alternative is 15.Qf1 Qh5 16.f3 Bh3 17.Qf2 Rae8 18.Nd2 f5.

15...Bf5 16.Bc2

White must avoid:

a) 16.Ne4? Bg4 17.Nxd6 Qh5 18.Kf1 Qxh2 19.f3 Bh3+ 20.Ke1 Qxg3+ -/+;

b) 16.Bxd5 cxd5 17.f3 Rae8 18.Nf1 h5 19.Be3 h4 20.Bf2 Bd7 21.gxh4 Rxe2 22.Qxe2 Re8 23.Qd3 Re6 24.Bg3 Rg6 25.Kf2 b4 -/+, Gruenfeld-Pinter, Zagreb Interzonal 1987.

16...Bxc2 17.Qxc2 f5 18.c4

If 18.f4, then 18...Qf4 19.Nf1 Bxf4.

18...Qg4! 19.Re6!

Worse is 19.Re1 f4! 20.f3 Qh3 21.cxd5 fxg3 =/+, Mokry-Panczyk, Zdroj 1984.

19...Nf4! 20.Rxd6?

Correct is 20.f3 Nh3+ 21.Kg2 Nf4+ 22.Kg1 Nh3+ =, Hubner-Timman, Tilburg 1987.

20...Rae8 21.cxb5

No better is 21.Nf3 Re2 22.Qb3 Nh3+ 23.Kh1 Rxf2 24.cxb5+ Kh8 25.Bf4 Rxf3 26.Qf7!? Rg8 27.Re1 Rxf4! -/+.


Wrong is 21...Re1+? 22.Nf1 Qh3 23.Qc4+ Kh8 24.Bxf4 +/-.


The move 22.Qxc6? fails to 22...Re1+ 23.Nf1 Rxf1+! 24.Kxf1 Qd1#. Also unavailing for White is 22.Qb3+ Kh8 23.Nf3? Qxf3!.

22...Kh8 23.Qxe2

On 23.d5, there is 23...Re1+ 24.Nf1 Ne2+.

23...Nxe2+ 24.Kg2 f4! 25.bxc6

A pretty finish would be 25.f3 fxg3! 26.fxg4 Rf2+ 27.Kh3 Rxh2#.

25...fxg3 26.hxg3 Nf4+, White resigns.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Illustrative Game Four

Ulmanis-Van der Heijden, Correspondence 1985

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2 f5 18.f4 Kh8 19.Bxd5 cxd5 20.Qf1 Qh5 21.a4 bxa4

Another sharp line is 21...g5 22.axb5 axb5 23.fxg5 Rxe3 24.Rxe3 f4 25.gxf4 Bxf4 26.Rg3 Qxg5 27.Kh1 Bd6 28.Qe1! (28.Qg2 Bxg3 29.Qxg3 h5 30.Ra7 h4 -/+) Bxg3 29.hxg3! Qh5+ 30.Kg1 Re8 31.Qf2 Re2?? 32.Qf8#.

22.Rxa4 g5 23.fxg5?!

White should play 23.Raa1!.

23...Rxe3 24.Rxe3 f4 25.gxf4 Bxf4 26.Rg3 Qe8!

Inferior is 26...Be3+ 27.Rxe3 Rxf1+ 28.Nxf1.

27.Rxg4 Be3+

Less convincing is 27...Bxd2 28.Qxa6 Qe1+ [28...Qh5 29.Qe2! Be3+ 30.Kh1 Rf2 31.Ra8+ Kg7 32.Ra7+ Kf8 (32...Kg6 33.Qd3+!) 33.Ra8+ =] 29.Kg2 Rf2+ (29...Qd1 30.Rg3 Be1 31.Ra1! Rf2+ 32.Kg1!) 30.Kh3 Rf3+ 31.Rg3 Rxg3+ 32.hxg3 Qh1+ 33.Kg4 Qe4+ 34.Kh5 Qh1+ =.


After 28.Kh1, Black plays 28...Rxf1+ 29.Nxf1 Qxa4 30.Nxe3 Qa1+ followed by 31...Qxb2 and the advance of the a-pawn.

28...Rxf1 29.Nxf1 Bc1!

White has better chances of defending after 29...Qxa4 30.Nxe3 Qb3 31.Kf3!? Qxb2 32.Nxd5 Qxh2!? 33.Re4 and 34.Re5.


White rejected 30.Rb4 on account of 30...Qe2+ 31.Kg3 Qxf1 32.Rb8+ Kg7 33.Rb7+ Kg8 34.Rb8+ Kf7 35.Rb6 Qd3+ 36.Kh4!? Bd2 37.Rf6+? Kg7 38.Kh5 Be1! 39.h4 Qg6+ 40.Rxg6+ hxg6#.

30...Qe2+ 31.Kg3 Qxf1 32.Rxd5 Bd2!?

Black might also have tried 32...Be3 33.Re4 Qf2+ (33...Qd3?? 34.Rd8+ Kg7 35.Re7+ Kg6 36.Rg8+Kf5 37.Re5#) 34.Kg4 Qg2+ 35.Kf5 Qxg5+ (35...Qf3+ 36.Ke5 Bxg5 37.Rd6) 36.Ke6 Qg6+ 37.Ke5 Bg1 38.Rd8+ Kg7 39.Rd7+ Kf8 40.Rf4+ (40.Rd8+ Ke7 41.Ra8 Qg5#) Ke8 41.Rff7 Bxh2+ followed by 42...Qxf7 -/+.


White could have put up more resistance by 33.h3 [33.Rd8+ Kg7 34.h4 (34.h3 Be3! 35.Re4 Qf2+ 36.Kg4 Qg2+ 37.Kf5 Qxg5+) Be1+ 35.Kh2 Qf3! 36.Rg2 Qf4+ 37.Kg1 (37.Kh1 Bg3) Bd2! 38.Re2 Be3+ 39.Kg2 Qg4+ 40.Kf1 Qg1#] Be1+ (33...Qg1+ 34.Kf3 Qh1+ 35.Ke2 Qxd5 36.Kxd2 Qf3!) 34.Kh2 Qf2+ 35.Rg2 Qf4+ 36.Kg1 Bd2 37.Re5 Be3+ 38.Rxe3 Qxe3+ 39.Kh2 Qf4+ 40.Kg1 Kg7 -/+.

33...Qg1+ 34.Kf3 Qh1+ 35.Rg2 Qh3+ 36.Rg3 Qf1+ 37.Kg4 Qf4+ 38.Kh3 Be1, White resigns.

*{This article originally appeared in Atlantic Chess News in 1988}

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Chess, Not Guns

Personally, I see chess as controlled violence. It allows two combatants at the board to settle their dispute in a civilized way. Unfortunately, in American society today, there is too much uncontrolled violence. We have too many schools with metal detectors, and not enough schools with chess programs.

Because I have on occasion written articles for Virginia Chess Newsletter, which is the official publication of the Virginia Chess Federation, the story of one chessplayer's heroism at the recent Virginia Tech tragedy hit home for me at more than one level. See what you think of it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Viking Quads 4/28/2007

Here are my games from today's Viking Quads in Mount Arlington, New Jersey. All three ended in draws. The time limit was game/90.

Game One: Budapest Gambit Declined

Sandi Hutama (USCF 2219) - Jim West (USCF 2200), Mount Arlington 4/28/2007

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.d5 Bc5 4.e3 O-O 5.Nc3 c6 6.g4 cxd5 7.cxd5 Qa5 8.Bg2 d6 9.g5 Ne8 10.Nge2 f6 11.h4 b5 12.Bd2 b4 13.Ne4 Na6 14.gxf6 Nxf6 15.Nxf6+ Rxf6 16.Ng3 Bd7 17.Ne4 Rg6 18.Bf3 Rf8 19.h5 Rh6 20.Rg1 Bb6 21.Ng5 Nc5 22.Be2 Bd8

23.a3 Bxg5 24.axb4 Qd8 25.bxc5 Bh4 26.Rg2 Rxf2 27.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 28.Kxf2 Qh4+ 29.Kg1 Qg3+ 30.Kh1 Bf5 31.Ra4 Qh3+ 32.Kg1 Qg3+ 33.Kh1, draw.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Game Two: Center Counter Defense

Jim West (USCF 2200) - Boris Privman (USCF 2238), Mount Arlington 4/28/2007

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bf5 6.Bc4 e6 7.Qe2 Be7 8.Bf4 O-O 9.O-O-O c6 10.Ne5 Nd5 11.Bxd5 exd5 12.g4 Be6 13.f3 Nd7 14.h4 Re8 15.h5 Nxe5 16.Bxe5 Bb4 17.Qd3 Qa5 18.h6 g6

19.f4 Bxg4 20.Rdg1 f5 21.Rh4 Bxc3 22.bxc3 Qxa2 23.Rhxg4 fxg4 24.Rxg4 Rxe5 25.fxe5 Qa3+ 26.Kd2 Qe7 27.Qe3 Rf8 28.Rf4 Rf7 29.Rxf7 Kxf7 30.Qf4+ Ke8 31.Kc1 Qf8 32.Qh2 Kd7 33.e6+ Kxe6 34.Qe5+ Kd7 35.Qg7+ Qe7 36.Kb2 a5 37.Qg8 a4 38.Qb8 b5 39.Qb7+ Kd6 40.Qb8+ Qc7 41.Qf8+ Qe7 42.Qb8+ Ke6 43.Qc8+ Kf7 44.Qxc6 g5 45.Qxd5+ Kg6 46.Qc6+ Qf6 47.d5 b4 48.Ka2 g4 49.cxb4 g3 50.d6 Kxh6 51.b5 Qe6+ 52.Kb2 Qf6+, draw.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Game Three: Reti Opening

Frank Romano (USCF 1931) - Jim West (USCF 2200), Mount Arlington 4/28/2007

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d4 Bb4 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 O-O 9.O-O Qe7 10.a4 Rd8 11.Ba3 Qe8 12.Qc2 b6 13.Rfe1 Na5 14.Bd3 Bb7 15.Ne5 h6

16.Rab1 Nc6 17.Bb5 a6 18.Bxc6 Bxc6 19.Nxc6 Qxc6 20.Be7 Rd7 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.f3 f5 23.Rbc1 b5 24.axb5 axb5 25.e4 fxe4 26.Rxe4 f5 27.Re5 Rd5 28.Rce1 Rxe5 29.Rxe5 Ra1+ 30.Kf2 Qc4 31.Kg3, draw.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bruns-Simonaitis, USATE 2005

As an author, you are always intellectually gratified when someone adopts successfully one of your theoretical ideas in over-the-board play, especially when the person is someone that you have already defeated with your favorite variation. Such is the case for me in the following contest.

Mike Bruns (USCF 2082) - Arunas Simonaitis (USCF 1991), USATE 2/21/2005

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Nxe5 dxe4 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Nxg6 Nf6 9.Qe5+ Kf7 10.Nxh8+ Kg7 11.Bg5 Nc6 12.Bxf6+ Qxf6 13.Qxc7+ Kxh8 14.O-O-O??

This trap can be found on page 22 of my book The Philidor Countergambit where I give 14.c3?? followed by the same winning move for Black as in the game continuation.

14...Bd6!! 15.Qxd6 Qxd6 16.Be2 Bf5 17.g4 Nxd4 18.gxf5 Nxe2+ 19.Kb1 Qb6 20.Rde1 Nc3+ 21.Ka1 Na4 22.Rb1 Qxf2 23.Rhf1 Qd4 24.c3 Nxc3 25.bxc3 Qxc3+ 26.Rb2 Rd8 27.f6 Rd2, White resigns.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Games in French Defense, Exchange Variation

Although the Exchange Variation of the French Defense has a drawish reputation, it can actually be a very tactical opening, as the following games will illustrate.

In the line where Black brings his king knight to f6, play is similar to the Petroff Defense, the only difference being that the black knight is less actively placed on f6 than on e4 and can be pinned by Bg5. Transpositions from the Petroff to the French Exchange often occur when White plays 5.d3 instead of 5.d4.

When Black develops with ...Ne7 instead of ...Nf6, the game becomes double-edged if Black castles queenside. Black's safest course is to castle kingside and play ...Bf5, as happened in my game versus Henley, rather than ...Bg4. It is more important to neutralize White's powerful king bishop than to pin the knight on f3, since Ne5 can always be repulsed by ...f6.

Many of the strongest attacking players of all time have experimented with the French Exchange. Among them are Morphy, Marshall, Alekhine, Tal, and most recently Kasparov.

Game One

NM Jim West - NM Yair Marcus, Somerset NJ Quad 1992

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.O-O O-O 7.Nc3 c6 8.Bg5 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Nbd7 11.Bf5 Qc7 12.Rae1 Rae8

13.Re3 Qb6 14.Bxd7 Nxd7 15.Qg4 f5 16.Qe2 Rxe3 17.Qxe3 Qc7 18.Re1 f4 19.Qe6+ Rf7 20.Qe8+ Nf8 21.Bd8 Qc8 22.f3 h6 23.Nd1 Qf5 24.Re2 Kh7 25.Nf2 Ng6 26.Qe6 Qxe6 27.Rxe6 Rd7 28.Ba5 Ne7 29.Bd2 Nf5 30.c3 Re7 31.Rxe7 Nxe7 32.Nd3 g5 33.h4 Kg6 34.hxg5 hxg5 35.a4 Nc8 36.Kf2 Nb6 37.b3 Nd7 38.Ke2 Kf5 39.Nf2 c5 40.Nd3, draw.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Game Two

NM Jim West - NM Dean Ippolito, Bayonne NJ Quad 1993

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d3 Nf6 6.d4 d5 7.Bd3 Bd6 8.O-O O-O 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.Bg5 c6 11.h3 Bh5

12.g4 Bg6 13.Ne5 Qb6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Nf3 Qxb2 16.Ne2 Nd7 17.Nh4 Qa3 18.f4 Bxd3 19.cxd3 c5 20.Nf5 cxd4 21.Neg3 Rfe8 22.Qf3 Nb6 23.Nh5 Re6 24.g5 Be7 25.gxf6 Bf8 26.Rae1 Nd7 27.Qg3+ Kh8 28.Rxe6 fxe6 29.Qg7+ Bxg7 30.fxg7+, Black resigns.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Game Three

NM Jim West - NM Steve Stoyko, Somerset NJ Quad 1991

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bd3 Ne7 6.O-O Nbc6 7.Re1 Bg4 8.c3 Qd7 9.Nbd2 O-O-O 10.b4 Rde8 11.Qa4 Ng6 12.Ba3 Nf4 13.Bf1 Kb8 14.b5 Ne7 15.Ne5 Bxe5 16.dxe5 Qf5 17.Nb3 Neg6

18.Bc5 Rxe5 19.Bxa7+ Kc8 20.Be3 Bf3 21.Nc5 Kb8 22.Nd7+ Kc8 23.Nxe5, Black resigns.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Game Four

NM Jim West - NM Peter Radomskyj, Somerset NJ Quad 1992

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bd3 Ne7 6.O-O Bg4 7.Re1 Nbc6 8.c3 Qd7 9.Nbd2 O-O-O 10.b4 Rde8 11.Qa4 Kb8 12.b5 Nd8 13.Ba3 Ng6 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Rxe8 Rxe8 16.b6 Nc6 17.bxa7+ Ka8 18.Rb1 Bxf3 19.Nxf3 Nf4 20.Ba6 bxa6 21.Qxa6 Na5

22.Qxa5 Qg6 23.Rb8+ Rxb8 24.axb8=Q+ Kxb8 25.Qb5+ Ka7 26.g3 Qe4 27.gxf4 Qxf3 28.Qa5+ Kb7 29.Qb4+ Kc6 30.Qa4+ Kd6 31.Qa3+ Kd7 32.Qc1 Qg4+ 33.Kf1 Qh3+ 34.Kg1 Qg4+, draw.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Game Five

NM Jim West - GM Ron Henley, USATE 1992

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Bd6 5.Bd3 Ne7 6.O-O O-O 7.Re1 Bf5 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bh4 Nbc6 10.a3 Qd7

11.Bg3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Bxg3 13.hxg3 Rae8 14.Nbd2 Nc8 15.Kf1 N6e7 16.Re2 c6 17.Rae1 Nd6 18.Ng1 Ng6 19.Rxe8 Rxe8 20.Rxe8+ Qxe8 21.f3 Qe6 22.Kf2 Ne7 23.a4 h5 24.b3 Qf5 25.Qxf5 Nexf5 26.Ne2 a5 27.Nf1 Kf7 28.Ne3 g5 29.Nxf5 Nxf5 30.c3 Ke6 31.Nc1 b6 32.Nd3 Kd6 33.Ne1 c5 34.Nc2 cxd4, draw.

{This article originally appeared in Atlantic Chess News in 1995}

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Estimated Rating

Dear Mr. West:

Enclosed is a copy of a game that I played with a friend. I would greatly appreciate it if you would critically evaluate our play. In particular, as Black, I played for the strategical aim of a good knight versus bad bishop ending.

Was this a good idea, given the middlegame position? In addition, was my knight sacrifice for two pawns in the endgame the most expedient way of winning?

My friend is currently unrated. I wonder if you could give some estimate as to our current playing strength, based on your extensive tournament experience.

Joseph Krasovsky
Union NJ

* * * * * * * * * * *

Rather than give the game in its entirety, since it is quite lengthy (121 moves!), I have set up the critical position after White's 60th move where Black could have won immediately.

You missed 60...b4!, winning the pinned bishop. White can try 61.Qxa6 bxc3 62.Qxc6, but after 62...c2 Black will soon have an extra queen.

Your plan of exchanging queens, winning the a5 pawn, and then sacrificing the knight for the c5 and d4 pawns was also good enough although much longer.

I would estimate that both you and your friend are Class D players. But it is difficult to say, based on only one game.

{This article originally appeared in the September-October 1990 issue of Atlantic Chess News. Searching today at the USCF website, I find that Joseph Krasovsky of New York stopped playing chess in 1997. His final rating was 1290, or Class D.}

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More Monokroussos vs. West Debate

It just so happens that I was on one-week's vacation when Dennis Monokroussos posted his first in a series of blog entries on the Philidor Counter Gambit, which explains how I was able to respond as quickly as I did.

But now the burden of working full-time at the law firm, tutoring a chess student in the evenings, playing in tournaments on weekends, and maintaining a daily blog has taken its toll, leaving precious little time for me to analyze deeply the many lines that Monokroussos has suggested. But I am studying his recommendations, one by one!

For instance, in the variation 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Neg5 exd4 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Bd3 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 Nf6 11.O-O-O O-O 12.Nxd4 Re8 13.Rhe1 h6 14.Rxe8+ Qxe8 15.Re1 Qh5, I must admit that Monokroussos's 16.Ngf3 is an improvement on my 16.Nge6.

On 16...c5 17.Ne2, Black's queen will soon be embarrassed after 18.Nf4.

Since Black's idea is to encourage 16.Nge6, the move 15...Qf8 (instead of 15...Qh5) comes to mind.

A likely continuation is 16.Nge6 Bxe6 17.Nxe6 Qd6 18.g4 Nbd7 19.g5 Re8 20.Bf5 hxg5 21.Qxg5 Re7 22.Rg1 Ne8 23.Nd4 Qf6 24.Qg4 Nf8 with an equal position.

It also occurs to me that, in the line 7.Nxd4 Qe7+ 8.Be2 h6 9.Ngf3 c6 10.O-O Qf6 11.Re1, the move order 11...Bb4 12.c3 Bd6 may be a refinement on the immediate 11...Bd6.

At least, after 13.Ba6+ Kf7 14.Bd3 Ne7, White no longer has the maneuver 15.Bd2 followed by 16.Bc3 at his disposal.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spassky-Fischer 1972, Game 15

At the Hamilton NJ Quads in March of this year, Dragan Milovanovic and I played a game that followed for 22 moves the famous game 15 of the 1972 Spassky-Fischer match in Reykjavik.

Dragan Milovanovic (USCF 2220) - Jim West (USCF 2200), Hamilton NJ Quad 3/24/2007

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6

This used to be my favorite defense against 1.e4. I still play it occasionally, especially against players who prefer 6.Bg5.

6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.O-O-O Nbd7 10.Bd3 b5 11.Rhe1 Bb7 12.Qg3 O-O-O 13.Bxf6

For 13.Bxb5!, see my blog post of 2/8/2007.

13...Nxf6 14.Qxg7 Rdf8 15.Qg3 b4 16.Na4 Rhg8 17.Qf2

One month earlier at the same location, Dragan played less precisely with 17.Qf3 but won anyway after I unwisely brought my king to d7 on move 23 rather than to the safer square b8.

17...Nd7 18.Kb1 Kb8 19.c3 Nc5 20.Bc2 bxc3 21.Nxc3 Bf6 22.g3 h5

As you can see, both players did their homework since the previous month's game, reaching this critical position from the famed Spassky-Fischer encounter which ended in a draw by perpetual check after 43 moves.


Spassky played the much weaker 23.e5? and was fortunate to survive Fischer's attack after 23...dxe5 24.fxe5 Bh8! 25.Nf3 Rd8 26.Rxd8+ Rxd8 27.Ng5? Bxe5 28.Qxf7 Rd7 29.Qxh5?! Bxc3! 30.bxc3 Qb6+.

In Both Sides of the Chessboard, Robert Byrne and Ivo Nei recommend 23.Re3! as White's best continuation. Dragan's move encourages Black to play 23...h4, but I did not like the looks of 24.g4 followed by 25.g5. Remembering how Spassky had gotten into trouble after playing Qxh5, I decided not to guard the h-pawn.

23...Qb6 24.e5 dxe5 25.fxe5 Bh8 26.Qxh5 f6!?

This is no time to count material! Black must open lines toward White's king as quickly as possible.

27.Nb3 Nxb3 28.Bxb3 fxe5 29.Ne4

Quite correctly, White blocks the advance of the e5 pawn which is intent upon sacrificing itself to open the diagonal for Black's bishop on h8.

29...Rd8 30.Rxd8+ Rxd8 31.Qh4 Qd4 32.Bc2 Rc8 33.Rd1 Qc4 34.Bd3 Qd4 35.Qh7?!

After the game, Dragan criticized this move. Probably White should repeat the position by 35.Bc2 Qc4 36.Bd3, etc.


Among other things, this shot threatens 36...Bxa2+!.


I had expected 36.b3 a5!?.


Now the dormant bishop on h8 springs to life, deciding the outcome of the game.

37.Bxe4 Qb4 38.Bxd5 exd5 39.a3 Qb3 40.Qc2 Rxc3!

Winning a piece and the game!

41.Qxb3+ Rxb3 42.Rxd5 Rxb2+ 43.Kc1 Rxh2

The endgame is an easy win for Black because the bishop controls the a-pawn's queening square.

44.Kd1 Kb7 45.Ke1 Ra2 46.Rd3 Bb2 47.Rb3+ Ka7 48.g4 Bxa3 49.g5 a5 50.g6 Bb4+ 51.Kf1 Rc2 52.Rg3 Rc8

My rook arrives at the back rank, just in the nick of time.

53.Ke2 Kb6 54.Kd1 Rg8 55.Kc2 Kc5 56.Kb3 Kd5 57.Ka4 Ke5 58.Rg1 Kf6 59.Rf1+ Kxg6

If my bishop did not control the queening square, White could now force a draw by 60.Rg1+ Kf7 61.Rxg8 Kxg8.

60.Ra1 Rb8 61.Rb1 Kf5 62.Rf1+ Ke6 63.Rb1 Kd5 64.Rh1 Kc6 65.Rh6+ Kc7 66.Rh7+ Kb6 67.Rh6+ Ka7 68.Re6 Rb6 69.Re8 Rh6 70.Rg8 Kb7 71.Kb5 Rh5+ 72.Ka4 Bd6

The bishop is needed to shield Black's king from checks.

73.Rg6 Bc7 74.Rg4 Ka6 75.Rg6+ Bb6 76.Rg4 Rd5 77.Rg3 Rd4+, White resigns.