Monday, March 31, 2008

Playing Against the Benoni

This post will illustrate my system as White against the Benoni, which is to fianchetto my King Bishop. I will first give the book line (which I've never looked at till now) which most closely corresponds to how people usually play against me in this variation.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6

Black can sidestep the Catalan and transpose into the Benoni via 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3 c5 4 d5. Since I also play the Catalan, the fianchetto vaiation gives me a Benoni I feel at home with.

4 Nc3 ed 5 cd d6 6 Nf3 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 a6 10 a4 Nbd7 11 Bf4 Qc7 12 e4 Re8 13 Qc2 Rb8 14 a5 Nh5 15 Be3 with an edge to White.

Here is a game I just played this morning. I work long and hard to get in the thematic central Pawn pushes (f4, e5 & d6), and finally accomplish this on the 33rd move!

chessart(1535)-Goliat(1528), 3/31/08, 2,10

1. d4 c5 2. d5 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. g3 O-O 6. Bg2 d6 7. Nf3 a6 8. a4e6 9. O-O exd5 10. cxd5 Re8 11. Re1 b6 12. e4 Nbd7 13. Bf4 Qc7 14. Rc1 Bb715. b4 Rac8 16. bxc5 bxc5 17. Nd2 Ne5 18. Bxe5 Rxe5 19. Nc4 Ree8 20. a5 Nd721. Kh1 Ne5 22. Nxe5 Bxe5 23. f4 Bd4 24. Qa4 Re7 25. Ne2 Bg7 26. Rb1 Rce827. Kg1 Bc8 28. Rbd1 Bd7 29. Qa2 Bb5 30. e5 Qd7 31. Nc3 dxe5 32. Nxb5 axb533. d6 Re6 34. Bd5 Rxd6 35. Bxf7+ Qxf7 36. Qxf7+ Kxf7 37. Rxd6 exf4 38. Rxe8Kxe8 39. gxf4 Ke7 40. Rb6 b4 41. Rb7+ {Black resigns} 1-0

And here are 2 games from my ICC library.

chessart(1812)-sofus(1914), 9/6/96, 3,3
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O a6 10. a4 Re8 11. Nd2 Bg4 12. Nc4 Qc7 13. Bf4 Bf8 14. Qd2 Rd8 15. Bg5 Bg7 16. Qf4 Bxe2 17. Nxe2 Nh5 18. Qd2 Re8 19. Bf3 b5 20. axb5 Nd7 21. bxa6 Ne5 22. Nxe5 Rxe5 23. Bxh5 gxh5 24. Bf4 Re4 25. Nc3 Rd4 26. Qe2 h4 27. Nb5 Qb6 28. Nxd4 cxd4 29. Rfc1 hxg3 30. hxg3 d3 31. Qxd3 Bd4 32. Be3 Bxe3 33. Qxe3 Qxb2 34. Rcb1 Qf6 35. a7 Qg6 36. Rb8+ {Black resigns} 1-0

chessart(1810)-elihog(1949), 9/11/96, 2,10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nf3 g6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Nd2 Nbd7 11. Nc4 Ne5 12. Nxe5 Rxe5 13. Bf4 Re8 14. Nb5 Bf8 15. Bg5 Bg7 16. Qd2 a6 17. Nc3 b5 18. Qf4 Bf5 19. g4 Bc8 20. Ne4 Rxe4 21. Bxe4 Bb7 22. f3 Qe7 23. Rad1 Re8 24. Rd2 h6 25. Bxh6 Nxe4 26. fxe4 Be5 27. Qf3 Bc8 28. e3 g5 29. Rdf2 f6 30. h4 gxh4 31. g5 fxg5 32. Qf7+ Qxf7 33. Rxf7 g4 34. Rc7 g3 35. Rff7 h3 36. Rce7 Rxe7 37. Rxe7 Bg4 38. Re8+ Kh7 39. Bf4 h2+ 40. Kg2 Bf3+ 41. Kxf3 h1=Q+ 42. Kxg3 Qxe4 43. Bxe5 Qxe3+ 44. Kg4 dxe5 45. Kf5 Qf4+ 46. Ke6 e4 47. d6 Qg4+ 48. Kd5 Qf5+ 49. Kc6 e3 50. d7 Qf3+ 51. Kc7 Qf4+ 52. Kc8 Qf5 53. Kc7 Qf7 54. Kc8 Qf5 55. Kc7 c4 56. d8=Q Qc5+
57. Kb7 b4 58. Qe7+ Qxe7+ 59. Rxe7+ Kg6 60. Rxe3 {Black resigns} 1-0

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Panov-Botvinnik Attack Against the Caro-Kann Defense

I have been playing the Panov for many years. It is another one of those openings in which book knowledge is less important than the ideas. This is mainly because in my experience nobody plays the book lines to the end. However, there are two lines worth knowing. I will deal with the first one here.

1 e4 c6 2 d4

Since I switched to the Queen's Pawn opening, I still get this position via 1 d4 c6 2 e4.

2...d5 3 ed cd 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 c5

The characteristic move of this line. White has a Queen-side Pawn majority and will try to exploit that fact.

7...0-0 8 Bd3 b6 9 b4 a5 10 Na4 Nbd7

BCO2 also gives 10...Nfd7 11 h4 h6 12 Rh3 e5 13 Bxh6 Bf6 14 Be3 e4 15 Ng5 g6 16 Bb5. Black is worse if he tries 11...ab 12 Nxb6 Nxb6 13 Bxh7ch; or 11...f5 12 Ng5 Qe8 13 Bb5 Ba6 14 BxB NxB 15 b5.

11 Bf4

11 a3 seems too be a popular alternative these days.

11...ab 12 c6 Nc5 13 dc bc unclear according to BCO2.

A search of the database shows only 4 games since 1991 with this position, with white scoring 3 and a half. This suggests that White can have confidence playing this line, but perhaps Black should look for alternatives along the way.

Here are some games. The first is one of my favorites, because of the beautiful Queen sacrifice which ends it. I must confess, however, that the adage "necessity is the mother of invention" applies here. I had originally planned 23 Qh6, forcing mate next on g7, but because of Black's own mate threat I had to find something more forcing!

chessart(1905)-josi(1911), 3/17/96, 2,12
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 ed cd 4 c4 dc 5 Bcx4 Nf6 6 Nc3 e6 7 Nf3 Nc6 8 0-0 Be7 9 Re1 0-0 10 a3 a6 11 Qd3 b5 12 Ba2 Bc5 13 Be3 Bb7 14 Rad1 Ba7 15 Bb1 Na5 16 Bg5 g6 17 Ne5 Rc8 18 Ne4 Bxe4 19 Rxe4 Nc4 20 Rf4 Nxb2 21 Qh3 Nxd1 22 Bxf6 Rc1 23 Qxh7ch!! Kxh7 24 Rh4ch Black resigns 1-0

In the next game Black wins a Pawn in the opening, but neglects his development to do so. Predictable consequences ensue.

chessart(1597)-Black-Pawn(1642), 8/11/97, 2,1
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 ed cd 4 c4 Nc6 5 Nf3 Bf5 6 Nf3 Bf5 7 cd Nxd5 8 Bb5 Qb6 9 0-0 Nxc4 10 Bxc6ch Qxc6 11 bxc3 Qxc3 12 Bf4 e6 13 Rc1 Qa5 14 Ne5 Be7 15 Qb3 b6 16 Nc6 Qa6 17 Nxe7 Kxe7 18 Rc7ch Kf6 19 Be5ch Kg6 20 Qg3ch Kh5 21 Rxf7 Bg6 22 Qh3ch Kg5 23 Qh3ch Kg5 24 f4 mate 1-0

In the next game White gets passed b and c Pawns, and at the end, those Pawns have helped to trap the Black Queen!

chessart(1713)-DaxChess(1817), 10/4/97, 2,1
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 ed cd 4 c4 e6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Nf3 Nf6 7 c5 Be7 8 Bb5 Bd7 9 BxN BxB 10 Ne5 Nd7 11 Bf4 0-0 12 0-0 f6 13 NxN QxN 14 b4 Rae8 15 Re1 Bd8 16 Bd6 Rf7 17 a4 a6 18 Qb3 b6 19 b5! ab 20 ab Bb7 21 Qa3 bc 22 dc Bc8 23 c6 Black resigns 1-0

chessart(1678)-rook219uc(1711), 5/24/02, 2,10
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. c5 Be7 8. Bb5 O-O 9. O-O Bd7 10. Bxc6 Bxc6 11. Re1 Ne4 12. Qc2 Rc8 13. b4 a6 14. a4 Nxc3 15. Qxc3 Bf6 16. Be3 Qd7 17. Qb3 h6 18. Reb1 Qe8 19. b5 Bd7 20. Bf4 Be7 21. bxa6 bxa6 22. Qc2 g5 23. Bg3 f5 24. Be5 Bf6 25. Bxf6 Rxf6 26. Ne5 Qd8 27. Qb3 Rf8 28. Qb7 Rc7 29. Qxa6 Bc8 30. Qe2 Qe8 31. a5 Ra7 32. Rb8 Rb7 33. Rb1 Rxb8 34. Rxb8 Qa4 35. h3 Qxd4 36. Nc6 Qf4 37. Rxc8 Rxc8 38. Qxe6+ {Black resigns} 1-0

chessart(1666)-largo(1755), 9/6/97, 2,1
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nf3 Bb4 7. Bd2 Bxc3 8. Bxc3 O-O 9. c5 Nc6 10. Bb5 a6 11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. O-O Ne4 13. Ne5 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Bb7 15. Qa4 Qc7 16. Rab1 f6 17. Nd3 Rab8 18. Rb6 Rfc8 19. Rfb1 Ba8 20. Qxa6 Rxb6 21. cxb6 Qb7 22. Qxb7 Bxb7 23. Nc5 Rb8 24. a4 Kf7 25. a5 e5 26. a6 Bc8 27. b7 Bf5 28. Rb2 exd4 29. cxd4 {Black resigns} 1-0

chessart(1793)-mofu(1726), 5/26/97, 2,10
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qb3 Bxf3 9. gxf3 Nb6 10. d5 Nd4 11. Bb5+ Nxb5 12. Qxb5+ Qd7 13. Bf4 e6 14. d6 Qxb5 15. Nxb5 Nd5 16. Nc7+ Nxc7 17. dxc7 Bb4+ 18. Ke2 Rc8 19. Rac1 Ke7 20. Rhd1 f6 21. Rc4 Ba5 22. Bd6+ Kf7 23. Bg3 Rhe8 24. Rcd4 Bxc7 25. Rd7+ Re7 26. R7d3 e5 27. Rc3 Ke6 28. Rdc1 Rd7 29. f4 g6 30. fxe5 fxe5 31. Rc5 Rf7 32. Bxe5 Rd7 33. Bxc7 Re8 34. Re5+ Kf7 35. Rxe8 Kxe8 36. Bg3 {Black resigns} 1-0

The Saemisch Variarition of the King's Indian Defense

This is another opening in which the ideas are more important than learning actual moves. The following games are from my ICC library.

chessart(1789)-raizel(1769), 10/15/96, 2,10
1. d4 d6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e4 Bg7 5. f3 Nc6 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Ne7 8. Qd2 c6 9. Bd3 cxd5 10. cxd5 a6 11. Nge2 O-O 12. O-O Ne8 13. Rfc1 f5 14. Rc2 f4 15. Bf2 b5 16. Rac1 g5 17. b4 Rf7 18. a4 bxa4 19. Nxa4 Rb8 20. Ba7 Ra8 21. Bb6 Qd7 22. Nb2 Ng6 23. Bf2 Bf8 24. Nc4 Qd8 25. Nb6 Bb7 26. Nxa8 Bxa8 27. Rc8 Qe7 28. Rxa8 g4 29. Rcc8 gxf3 30. gxf3 Nh4 31. Bxh4 Qxh4 32. Rxe8 Rg7+ 33. Kh1 Qf2 34. Rxf8# {Black checkmated} 1-0

chesart(1561)-MISTERBABOON(1595), 3/1/97, 2,1
1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 Nbd7 7. Qd2 e5 8. d5 a6 9. Bd3 Nc5 10. Nge2 Bd7 11. h4 Rb8 12. h5 Nxd3+ 13. Qxd3 b5 14. hxg6 fxg6 15. Qd2 Rf7 16. Bh6 Bxh6 17. Qxh6 bxc4 18. O-O-O Qc8 19. g4 Qb7 20. Rd2 a5 21. Ng3 a4 22. Nf5 a3 23. bxa3 Qb6 24. Qg5 Qa5 25. Nh6+ Kg7 26. Rc2 Qxa3+ 27. Kd2 Nxe4+ 28. Nxe4 Qd3+ 29. Kc1 Ba4 30. Nf5+ Rxf5 31. Qe7+ Rf7 32. Rxh7+ Kxh7 33. Qxf7+ Kh8 34. Rh2# {Black checkmated} 1-0

chessart(1807)-Chessmen32(1791), 9/5/96, 2,10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Nh5 8. Qd2 Qh4+ 9. g3 Nxg3 10. Qf2 Nxf1 11. Qxh4 Nxe3 12. Ke2 Nxc4 13. Rc1 Nb6 14. Nh3 c6 15. Rhg1 cxd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. exd5 Bf5 18. Rc7 Nd7 19. Ng5 h6 20. Ne6 fxe6 21. Rxd7 Rf7 22. Rd8+ Rxd8 23. Qxd8+ Bf8 24. dxe6 Re7 25. Qxd6 Rxe6 26. Qb8 e4 27. f4 Rb6 28. b3 a6 29. h4 h5 30. Qe5 Rb5 31. Qe8 Rc5 32. Kd2 Rd5+ 33. Ke2 Kg7 34. Qb8 Rd7 35. Qe8 Rd3 36. Qb8 Rh3 37. Qe5+ Kh7 38. Qc7+ Kh6 39. Qxb7 Rh2+ 40. Kd1 Bb4 41. Qa8 Bc3 42. Qxa6 Rxh4 43. Qc6 Bg7 44. a4 Rxf4 45. a5 Rf2 46. a6 e3 47. Qc1 Rd2+ 48. Ke1 Bd3 49. a7 Be4 50. Qc8 Bf3 51. a8=Q Re2+ 52. Kf1 Rf2+ 53. Ke1 Re2+ 54. Kd1 Rg2+ 55. Qxf3 Rxg1+ 56. Ke2 Rb1
57. Qxe3+ Kh7 58. Qd7 Rb2+ 59. Kf3 Rb1 60. Qc3 {Black resigns} 1-0

chessart(1857)-doctor(1933), 8/28/96, 2,8
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Nh5 8. Qd2 f5 9. exf5 gxf5 10. Bg5 Qe8 11. Bd3 Qg6 12. O-O-O Bd7 13. g3 Na6 14. Nge2 Nc5 15. Bc2 a6 16. g4 Nf4 17. h4 b5 18. Nxf4 exf4 19. Bxf4 b4 20. Ne2 b3 21. axb3 Rab8 22. b4 Na4 23. Bxa4 Bxa4 24. Rdg1 a5 25. gxf5 Qxf5 26. Bh6 Rf7 27. Rxg7+? (27Qc3) Rxg7 28. Bxg7 Kxg7 29. Nd4 Qe5 30. Ne6+ Kh8 31. Rg1 Rxb4 32. Rg5 Rxc4+ 33. Kb1 Qf6 {White forfeits on time} 0-1

chessart(1871)-doctor(1859), 9/2/96, 2,10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Nh5 8. Qd2 f5 9. exf5 gxf5 10. Bg5 Qe8 11. Bd3 Nf4 12. O-O-O Nxd3+ 13. Qxd3 Na6 14. Nge2 Nc5 15. Qd2 Qg6 16. h4 h6 17. Be3 Bd7 18. h5 Qf6 19. Rdg1 Kh8 20. g4 f4 21. Bxc5 dxc5 22. Ne4 Qa6 23. Nxc5 Qxa2 24. Nxd7 Rfd8 25. Nc5 Qxc4+ 26. Qc2 Qb5 27. Ne4 Qxd5 28. N2c3 Qa5 29. Kb1 b5 30. g5 b4 31. gxh6 Bxh6 32. Nf6 Rd7 33. Qg6 {Black forfeits on time} 1-0

The Staunton Gambit

Some openings, like the Dragon. require one to learn opening moves, which most chess players just hate. Others require one only to learn the ideas involved. I class the Staunton Gambit (1 d4 f5 2 e4) in this latter category. Here are some illustrative games.

chessart(1528)-Feel-8(1460), 3/29/08, 5,0
1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 d5 5. Bxf6 exf6 6. Qh5+ g6 7. Qxd5 Qxd5 8. Nxd5 Bd6 9. Nxf6+ Kf7 10. Nxe4 Re8 11. Bd3 Bf5 12. f3 Nc6 13. Ne2 Bxe4 14. fxe4 Rad8 15. c3 Kg7 16. O-O-O Be7 17. e5 Bg5+ 18. Kc2 a6 19. Rdf1 Na5 20. h4 Bh6 21. h5 c5 22. hxg6 hxg6 23. Nf4 Bxf4 24. Rxf4 cxd4 25. cxd4 Nc6 26. Kc3 b5 27. b4 Ne7 28. Rfh4 Nd5+ 29. Kb3 Rc8 30. Rh7+ Kg8 31. Rh8+ Kf7 32. R1h7+ Ke6 33. Rxe8+ Rxe8 34. Bxg6 Rc8 35. Rh3 Rc4 36. a3 Rxd4 37. Rf3 Nf4 38. Bh7 Kxe5 39. Re3+ Kd6 40. Bg8 Nxg2 41. Rg3 Nf4 42. Rg4 Ke5 43. Rg5+ Kf6 44. Rc5 Rd3+ 45. Kb2 Rd2+ 46. Kc3 Rd3+ 47. Kb2 Rd2+ 48. Kb3 Rd3+ 49. Rc3 Rd4 50. Rc6+ Ke5 51. Rxa6 Rd3+ 52. Kb2 Rd2+ 53. Kc3 Rd3+ 54. Kc2 {Black forfeits on time} 1-0

In the next game my opponent attempts to sidestep the Staunton by first playing 1...e6. However, I play it anyway!

chessart(1530)-Atalo(1614),3/29/08, 5,0
1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5 3. e4 fxe4 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bg5 d5 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Qh5+ Ke7 9. Nxd5+ Ke6 10. Bc4 Bb4+ 11. Kf1 Kd6 12. Nxb4 f5 13. Qh6+ Ke7 14. Nd5+ Ke8 15. Nf6+ Ke7 16. Qg7+ Kd6 17. Ne2 Nc6 18. Rc1 Bd7 19. Nxd7 Qxd7 20. Qxd7+ Kxd7 21. Bb5 Rhf8 22. d5 a6 23. dxc6+ bxc6 {Black resigns} 1-0

chessart(1779)-guest, 5/25/97, 3,0
1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nc6 5. f3 d5 6. fxe4 dxe4 7. d5 Ne5 8. Bb5+ c6 9. dxc6 Qxd1+ 10. Rxd1 bxc6 11. Be2 Bd7 12. Bxf6 exf6 13. Nxe4 Bb4+ 14. c3 Ba5 15. Nd6+ Ke7 16. Nf3 Rhd8 17. O-O Bb6+ 18. Kh1 Rab8 19. Nxe5 fxe5 20. Rf7+ Ke6 21. Bg4# {Black checkmated} 1-0

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sicilian Dragon with 9 Bc4

We have already looked at the other main Dragon line, in which White plays 9 0-0-0 and Black responds with 9...d5! Now we l0ok at 9 Bc4.

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 0-0 8 Qd2 Nc6 9 Bc4

With this move White prevents 9...d5, and takes control of the best light-squared diagonal.


This forces White to castle, since Black threatens 10...Qb5, hitting the B/c4 and the P/b2. Usually it will just transpose to the normal line, but why not create a threat in the process?

10 0-0-0 Bd7 11 Bb3 Rfc8 12 h4

Considered the most energetic move. Slower build-ups allow Black time to do the same on th Queen-side.

12...Ne5 13 h5

The preparatory move 13 g4 is often played by White here. This allows 13 g4 Nc4 14 BxN RxB 15 h5 Rxc3 16 Qxc3 Qxa2 17 hxg6 hxg6 18 Qa3 Qc4 19 Kb1 with a slight edge to White. If White inserts 15 Nb3, Black puts his Queen on a6 in this line, planning an attack along the a2-g8 diagonal (his Bishop will go to e6).

13...Nxh5 14 g4

If 14 Bh6, White threatens to bring his Knight strongly to d5. However, Black can respond right now with either the standard exchange sac on c3, or the esoteric 14...Nd3ch 15 Kb1 Nxb2 16 KxN BxB 17 QxB Rxc3!

Nf6 15 Bh6 Rxc3! 16 bxc3

Black gets the better ending after 16 Qxc3.


16..BxB and 16...Nxf3!? are other possibilities here.

17 BxB KxB 18 Qh6ch Kg8 19 g5 Nh5 20 Nf5 BxN! 21 exf5 Qxc3 22 RxN Qa1ch drawn by perpetual check.

Here is a rather raggedy-looking game played years ago, before I had learned the line very well. I'm sure many improvements can be found for both sides, but it is still fun to play through.

zombie(1833)-chessart(1854), played 10/8/96, time control 2,10
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Bc4 Nc6 9. Bb3 Bd7 10. Qd2 a5 11. a4 Rc8 12. h4 Ne5 13. h5 Nxh5 14. O-O-O Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. Nde2 b5 17. Rxh5 gxh5 18. Bh6 e6 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. e5 d5 21. Rh1 h4 22. g3 b4 23. Nd1 Bxa4 24. Nd4 Bxc2 25. Nxc2 b3 26. Nc3 bxc2 27. f4 Qc7 28. Rxh4 Qc5 29. Qd3 Re4 30. Nxe4 dxe4 31. Qxe4 Qg1+ 32. Kxc2 Rc8+ 33. Kd3 Qb1+ 34. Ke3 Qe1+ 35. Kf3 Qxe4+ 36. Kxe4 Rc2 37. f5 Re2+ 38. Kd4 exf5 39. Rf4 Kg6 40. b3 Rb2 41. Kc3 Rb1 42. Ra4 Rg1 43. Rxa5 Rxg3+ 44. Kc4 h5 45. b4 h4 46. b5 h3 47. b6 h2 48. b7 h1=Q 49. b8=Q Qc1+ 50. Kd5 Rd3# {White checkmated} 0-1

This one features a pretty mating net.

el-poeta(1408)-chessart(1486), 12/30/07, 5,0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Bc4 Nc6 9. Bb3 Bd7 10. Qd2 Qa5 11. h4 Rfc8 12. O-O-O Ne5 13. g4 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. Kb1 Rac8 16. Nb3 Qc7 17. h5 a5 18. hxg6 fxg6 19. Bh6 Rxc3 20. bxc3 Qxc3 21. Qxc3 Rxc3 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Rh2 a4 24. Nd4 e5 25. Ne2 Rxf3 26. Rxd6 Bc6 27. Re6 a3 28. Rxe5 Nxe4 29. c4 Nd2+ 30. Kc2 Nxc4 31. Re7+ Kg8 32. Rhxh7 Ba4+ 33. Kb1 Rf1+ 34. Nc1 Nd2+ {White resigns} 0-1

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Englund Gambit

There are 3 minor gambits which Black sometimes plays against the Queen's Gambit Opening. I consider them related because all involve an early ...e5 by Black. I will deal with each, starting with the Englund Gambit.

1 d4 e5?!

This so obscure and unsound that I cannot even find it in BCO2. It is good only for surprise value, as entertainingly described in this blog:
The writer was in a critical last-round game for first place, knowing his opponent would have White, would be playing 1 d4, and was booked up. So, he surprised his opponent with the Englund and got the draw he sought to split first and second place money.

2 dxe5 Nc6 3 Nf3 Qe7 4 Nc3

There are many moves White can play here. A real clunker is 4 Bf4, which is actually what I played when faced with this position in my very first tournament game in Kansas, against Kansas City master Jack Winters. The problem with 4 Bf4 is Black's response 4...Qb5ch, hitting the Bishop on f4 and the Pawn on b2. Here is a collection of games, showing that even top players can fall into this little "trap".

Often played here is 4 Qd5, trying to hang onto the gambit Pawn. White must know what he's doing to play such moves! My personal preference against all 3 of these gambits is to play conservatively and develop, forcing Black to waste time recovering his gambit Pawn. If you try esoteric lines, you will get stung as White because surely Black knows them better than you do, since he chose the opening!

A check of the 38 games in the database with 4 Nc3 show Black scoring only 12.5, a success rate for White of more than two-thirds!

Play from here can continue in different ways, and there is no one established line. White often lets Black trade Knights on f3 and double his f-Pawns. He doesn't care because he plans to castle Queen-side.

Here is an entertaining game I just played this morning, vs. Bakela. Black plays the rare move 2...d6, a la the Fromm's Gambit. Only 7 database games with this, and White scores 5 and a half out of the 7. Black then follows up with the even stranger 3...Qxd6, allowing the trade of Queens. I sort of lose my way a bit during the game, but after 38 a4! mate is forced, and Black cannot avoid it even with sacrifices.
1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 d6 3. exd6 Qxd6 4. Qxd6 Bxd6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Nd4 Bg6 7. c3 Nf6 8. Bg5 Nbd7 9. Nd2 O-O-O 10. f3 h6 11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. O-O-O Rhe8 13. e4 Nd7 14. Nc4 Bf4+ 15. Nd2 h5 16. g3 Be3 17. Re1 Bh6 18. Bd3 Nc5 19. Bc2 Ne6 20. f4 Nxd4 21. cxd4 Rxd4 22. Nb3 Rc4 23. Re2 Bxe4 24. Rhe1 f5 25. h3 Rd8 26. Kb1 Bxc2+ 27. Rxc2 Rxc2 28. Kxc2 b6 29. Nd2 Rd6 30. Nf3 Kb7 31. Re7 Rc6+ 32. Kb3 a5 33. Nd4 Rc5 34. Ne6 Rd5 35. Nxc7 Rd3+ 36. Kc2 Rxg3 37. Nb5+ Ka6? 38. a4! Rg2+ 39. Kb1 {Black resigns} 1-0

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Final Jeopardy Wagering Strategy--Part 2

Here are some recent situations I have seen on Jeopardy. The analysis really flows pretty easily after internalizing the principles I wrote about in part 1.

game 1. player A: 13,400; player B: 8,000; player C: 8,000

B & C bet the max, and A bet 2,600. They all got it right, for the first three-way tie in the history of Jeopardy. The question here is why did player A not bet the extra dollar?? The only possible rational reason for this is if Player A felt that playing again against the same two opponents gave him a better chance than playing against the next 2 players in line to come on the show.

However, at the start of the next day's show Alex mentioned that during the break beforee the final question the prior day some kid in the audience had shouted out "Has ther ever been a three-way tie". Apparently the leader then decided to set it up for the tie to make history!

game 2: Player A--22,500, betting 8,301
Player B--15,400, betting 7,701
Player C--6,400, betting 6,400

Plasyer B blunders on 2 counts here. First, he does not create the necessary "separation" between his bet and A's bet. Although they are not close with their starting amounts, B is close enough to A to still be able to create separation. He does this with a bet of less than $1,201. This ensures that he wins whenever he and A both get the question wrong.

The other reason B blunders is he doesn't take C's score into account. Based on C's score, he needs to bet less than 2,600, so that he still beats C when C bets everything and gets it right, but he (B) misses. So, the small bet is correct for B for 2 reasons here.

game 3: Player A--16,800, betting 9,201
Player B--13,000, betting 13,000
Player C--13,000, betting 5,000

Very nice bet by C here, as he will win whenever they all miss the question. If you run through the 8 possible outcomes here, you will see that A wins in 4 of those, and B and C win 2 each. You might think, therefore, that B and C's chances are equal; however, B's chances are dependent on his getting the questions and A's missing it. It is much more likely that each will either get the question or each will miss it, than that one will get it and the other won't. Consequently, C's bet is much preferable to B's.

game 4: Player A--16,100, betting 10,800
Player B--13,400, betting 3,000
Player C--4,000, betting 4,000

Player A gets lazy here and doesn't want to do the math to make the correct bet of 10,701. The reason you don't bet that extra 99 is that it makes it easier for B to create the separation he needs.

B's range of correct bets here is 0-5,399, ensuring separation from A while also ensuring he cannot lose to C no matter what.

game 5: Player A--20,200, betting 13,000
Player B--16,200, betting 15,000
Player C--9,800, betting 9,800

Again, we have a lazy A here. There is no reason in the world to bet more than the 12,201 needed to ensure victory whenever he gets the question right. All the extra 799 does is create additional scenarios under which B or C could sneak in with a win when A misses the question.

B's big bet is certainly odd. She must have liked the category of classical composers. In fact she won the game when she got it with Beethoven, and A missed with Mozart!

Monday, March 24, 2008


I recently re-watched one of my favorite movies, "Patton", courtesy of the good folks at NetFlix. It again held my interest after all these years.

I abhor war movies, but this one is not really a war movie. Rather, it is a character study of one of the most interesting figures of the 20th century, wonderfully played by George C. Scott.

Since the movie purports to be a true story, I thought it useful to compare the events in the film with Patton's actual life, as recounted by Wikipedia's very detailed biography.

1. Near the start of the movie, it depicts Patton as orchestrating the re-assignment of General Bradley as his assistant in the North Africa campaign, so that he would no longer be "spying for Ike". Wikipedia agrees, saying "Patton had Bradley reassigned to his Corps Command as deputy commander. Thus began a long wartime association between the two diverse personalities." This complicated relationship is a major theme in the movie.

2. When Patton takes over the forces in North Africa in the movie, he instills discipline, which includes requiring everybody to wear steel helmets, even the doctors in the operating room. Wikipedia again agrees, saying "Patton required all personnel to wear steel helmets, even physicians in the operating wards, and required his troops to wear the unpopular lace-up leggings and neckties. A system of fines was introduced to ensure all personnel shaved daily and observed other uniform requirements. While these measures did not make Patton popular, they did tend to restore a sense of discipline and unit pride that may have been missing earlier."

3. Concerning the infamous "slapping incident", Wikipedia states that:

When General Eisenhower learned of the incident, he ordered Patton to make amends, after which, it was reported, "Patton's conduct then became as generous as it had been furious," and he apologized to the soldier "and to all those present at the time, "After the film Patton was released in 1970, Charles H. Kuhl recounted the story and said that Patton had slapped him across the face and then kicked him as he walked away. "After he left, they took me in and admitted me in the hospital, and found out I had malaria," Kuhl noted, adding that when Patton apologized personally (at Patton's headquarters) "He said he didn't know that I was as sick as I was." Kuhl, who later worked as a sweeper for Bendix Corporation in Mishawaka, Indiana, added that Patton was "a great general" and added that "I think at the time it happened, he was pretty well worn out himself." Kuhl died on January 24, 1971.

The film omits Patton's personal apology to the soldier, and presents him as half-heartedly apologizing to the entire army en masse, after being instructed to do so. Thus the film omits the fact that Patton on his own made some effort to make his amends.

4. After the slapping incident, the movie makes much of the Germans being mislead by Patton's deployment in non-combat areas. This seemed to me to be the most artificial of the movie's depictions. However, Wikipedia supports the movie depictions, saying that "During the 10 months Patton was relieved of duty, his prolonged stay in Sicily was interpreted by the Germans to be indicative of an upcoming invasion of southern France. Later, a stay in Cairo was interpreted as heralding an invasion through the Balkans. German intelligence misinterpreted what happened and made faulty plans as a result."

5. During the 1944 offensive into Europe the movie depicts Patton as ordering his chaplain to come up with a prayer for good weather. This seems pretty artificial; however, again the movie got it right. Wikipedia states that: Needing just one full day (24 hours) of good weather, Patton ordered the Third Army Chaplain, (COL) James O'Neill, to come up with a prayer beseeching God to grant this. The weather did clear soon after the prayer was recited, and Patton decorated O'Neill with the Bronze Star on the spot. Following this, he continued ahead with dealing with the German offensive and von Rundstedt.

The battle scenes and campaigns seem to be factual also, so overall I would say the film is much more factually accurate than many film biographies.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Benko Gambit

I was familiar with a line back in the early '80's popularized by Lev Alburt. I will attempt to assess the developments since then in this post.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5!?

The so-called Benko Gambit, originally called the Volga Gambit but Benko put his stamp on it in the early '70's. I will follow a particular line, but there are many opportunities for either side to vary along the way.

4 cxb5 a6 5 e3

Not played against me all that often, but since I prefer this move as White I will follow this line. A popular way to decline the gambit is 5 b6, which Sammy Reshevsky played when he was first faced with the gambit. In my internet play I have often faced 5 b3, which isn't even in the opening books! I guess the "book" feels 5 b3 is too passive, renouncing any hope by White of an opening advantage.

The system with 5 e3 was developed during the '70's and for a time was thought to be the refutation of the Benko. However, Lev Alburt developed an approach for Black which he unveiled against Benjamin at the 1984 United States championship, and which he wrote up in Chess Life under the headline "The Benko Still Lives". We will follow that line.


Alburt's original scheme had Black playing 5...Bb7, but I prefer the immediate capture.

6 Bxb5 Bb7

Threatening the White Pawn on d5.

7 Nc3 Qa5

Again the d5 Pawn is threatened.

8 Bd2

Indirectly protects the d5 Pawn.


The Queen has done her duty by luring the White Queen Bishop to a useless spot on d2, where it blocks the white Queen from guarding d5. Now the Queen retreats, and the P/d5 is again threatened!

9 Qb3

Not 9 Bc4 e6! 10 e4 Nxe4! 11 Nxe4 exd5 forking White's pieces.


The cornerstone of Alburt's system, which he called the "Barclay Gallery Variation after the friends who helped him develop it. White cannot take the Pawn because the Black Bishop takes on g2 and then takes the Rook on h1. Thus, the Pawn on d5 is again threatened.

10 e4

10 Bc4 QxQ 11 BxQ Na6 12 Nf3 is comfortable for Black.

10...Nxe4 11 Nxe4 12 Qd3 f5 13 Ng3

Benjamin played 13 Ng5, but later analysis settled on this move as best.

Bxg2 14 Nle2

The original analysis from the '80's went 14 a4 Qb7 15 f3 Be7 16 N1e2 Bxh1 17 Nxh1 0-0 18 0-0-0 Nc6! 19 f4! However, a search of a 1991-present database showed only one game with 14 a4. That game, Vleijri-Vandenbussche (1994 corr.), continued 14...Nc6 15 BxN QxB 16 f3 BxR 17 NxB Rxa4 18 RxR QxR and 0-1 in 35 moves.

The preferred move today seems to be 14 N1e2, played 4 times to twice for 14 Nf3 and the one time for 14 a4. Hence I am giving 14 N1e2 as the new main line here.

14...BxR 15 NxB Be7

Played twice, to twice also for 15...Nc6. However, Be7 seems preferable, as Black need not worry about the Pawn on d7, as it is poison for White to capture it.

16 N1g3

Getting the Knight out of the corner and back into the game seems best. White's plan in Groenewold-Wortel (1999) proved too ambitious. That game continued: 16. Bc3 O-O 17. Bxd7 Rd8 18. Qg3 Bf8 19. Bxe6+ Qxe6 20. Qg5 Qd5 21. Nhg3 Rxa2 22. Rc1 h6 23. Qxf5 Qxf5 24. Nxf5 Nc6 25. Rd1 Rxd1+ 26. Kxd1 Ra1+ 27. Nc1 Ra4 28. Nd3 g6 29. Ne3 Rh4 30. Ne5 Nxe5
31. Bxe5 Bg7 32. Bg3 Rb4 33. Nc2 Rxb2 34. Bd6 Bd4 35. f3 Kf7 36. Kd2 Ke6 37. Bf8 h5 38. Kd3 Kd5 39. Bh6 Rb3+ 40. Ke2 Kc4 41. Bd2 Rb2 42. Kd1 Kb3 43. Na1+ Kc4 44. Nc2 Ra2 0-1.

16...0-0 17 a4 Nc6 18 Bc3 d5

And now the game Sapi-Bliumberg (1994) continued 19. Qe3 Nd8 20. Nh5 d4 21. Nxd4 cxd4 22. Bxd4 Bb4+ 23. Ke2 Qc7 24. Bxg7 Qc2+ 25. Kf1 Qe4 26. Qxe4 fxe4 27. Bxf8 Kxf8 28. Nf6 Nf7 29. Nxe4 Ke7 30. Rc1 Ra7 31. Rc4 Ba5 32. b4 Bc7 33. Nc5 h6 34. h3 Nd6 35. Rg4 Kf6 36. Bd3 Nf5
37. Re4 e5 38. Rg4 Ne7 39. a5 Kf7 40. Re4 Bd6 41. a6 Kg7 42. Rc4 Kf7 43. b5 Nd5 44. Nb7 Be7
45. Rc6 Nf6 46. Bc4+ Kg7 47. Rc8 1-0

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Stockholm Variation of the Grunfeld Defense

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5

Black announces his intention to play a Grunfeld instead of a King's Indian.

4 Bg5 Ne4

A viable alternative to 4...Ne4 is 4...Bg7. 4...Ne4 is preferred by about 6-1, but both moves score about the same. With 4...Bg7 black offers a (temporary) gambit, but he will easily recover his gambit pawn; e.g., 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. Nxd5 Bg7 7. e3 c5 8. Nf3 Nc6 9. Be2 e6 10. Nc3 cxd4 11. exd4 Nxd4 12. Nxd4 Bxd4=.

5 Bh4!

This is the "miracle ingredient" popularized by Taimanov in the early '70's. The Bishop will exert uncomfortable pressure on Black's Pawn on e7, making his development difficult.


Batsford Chess Openings also gives 5...c5 leading to an unclear position. However, a survey of my most recent games with this opening shows that Black played 5...Nxc3 in 5 out of 6 games, the 6th playing 5...dxc4 (see game 1 below).

6 bxc3 Bg7

BCO gives 6...c5 as the main move, and also mentions 6...dxc4. But I am giving this as the main line since 3 of my 5 aforementioned opponents played this, with the other two trying 6...dxc4.

7 e3 c5

7...0-0 gives up the e-Pawn after 8 cd Qxd5 9 Bxe7, but it leads to difficult play for White (see game 2).

8 cd Qxd5 9 Qf3!

This is the new move Taimanov found that lead to such success for him. If Black trades Queens on f3, Taimanov showed that White gets the better endgame. (see game 3).

BC) gives 9...Qd7 10 Bc4 0-0 11 Ne2 cd 12 ed Nc6 13 0-0 e6 14 Bf6 Bxf6 15 Qxf6 Qe7=, or 9...Qd8 10 Bb5ch Nd7 11 Ne2 cd 12 ed 0-0 13 0-0 a6 14 Bd3 Qc7=.

Hartston, in his book on the Grunfeld (written in the days of descriptive notation), gives, in the last continuation, 13...N-B3 14 KR-K1 R-N1 15 P-KR3 P-N3 16 P-QB4 B-N2 17 P-Q5 and White is better. Hartston actually advocates Black delaying ...Bg7, and playing ...e6 and ...Be7 to equalize.

game 1: chessart(1559)-RATTKILLER(1447), 3/18/08, time control 5,0
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 dxc4 6. e3 Nxc3 7. bxc3 b5 8. a4 c6 9. axb5 cxb5 10. Qf3 Nc6 11. Qxc6+ Bd7 12. Qf3 f6 13. Bg3 e6 14. Ne2 a5 15. Nf4 b4 16. cxb4 g5 17. Nh5 Bxb4+ 18. Ke2 Bb5 19. Nxf6+ Ke7 20. Qb7+ Kxf6 21. Be5+ Kg6 22. Qg7+ Kh5 23. g4+ Kxg4 24. f3+ Kh4 25. Qh6# {Black checkmated} 1-0

game 2:  chessart(1456)-Loco-Mojo(1649), 2/20/08, time control 5,0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. e3 O-O 8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. Bxe7 Re8 10. Ba3 b6 11. Qf3 Qxf3 12. Nxf3 Bb7 13. Be2 c5 14. O-O cxd4 15. cxd4 Nc6 16. Rac1 Rad8 17. Bb5 Re6 18. Rc2 a6 19. Ba4 b5 20. Bb3 Ree8 21. Rfc1 Na5 22. Bc5 Nxb3 23. axb3 Be4 24. Rc3 a5 25. Bb6 Ra8 26. Rc5 Bd3 27. R1c3 Be2 28. Ne5 Bxe5 29. dxe5 a4 30. bxa4 bxa4 31. Ra3 Rab8 32. Rc6 Bb5 33. Rd6 Rxe5 34. Rd8+ Rxd8 35. Bxd8 Rd5 {White resigns} 0-1

game 3:  chessart(1455)-ArgoNavis(1456), 3/11/08, time control 5,0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Ne4 5. Bh4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. cxd5 Qxd5 8. e3 c5 9. Qf3 Qxf3 10. Nxf3 Nc6 11. Bb5 Bd7 12. O-O cxd4 13. exd4 a6 14. Ba4 e6 15. Rfe1 O-O 16. Rab1 b5 17. Bb3 Na5 18. Re2 Rac8 19. Be7 Rfe8 20. Bb4 Nc4 21. Bxc4 Rxc4 22. Rc2 Rec8 23. Rbc1 Bf8 24. Bxf8 Kxf8 25. Ne5 R4c7 26. Kf1 Ke7 27. Ke2 f6 28. Nxd7 Kxd7 29. a4 bxa4 30. Kd3 Rc4 31. Ra1 Kd6 32. Ra3 e5 33. dxe5+ fxe5 34. f3 Kc5 35. Rca2 Rd8+ 36. Ke3 Rd6 37. Rxa4 Rxc3+ 38. Ke4 Kb5 39. Ra5+ Kc4 40. Rxa6 Rd4+ 41. Kxe5 Re3+ 42. Kf6 Kd3 43. R2a3+ Ke2 44. Rxe3+ Kxe3 45. Ra3+ Kf2 46. Ra2+ Kg1 47. h3 Kh2 48. Kg7 Kg3 49. Kxh7 Rd6 50. Rb2 Kh4 51. Kh6 Kg3 52. Kg5 {Black forfeits on time} 1-0

Some Miniatures

reborn11(1698)-chessart(1640), 11/8/97, time control 2,1
1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Nc6 4. d3 e5 5. O-O f6 6. c3 Be6 7. Qc2 Qd7 8. Re1 Bd6 9. e4 dxe4 10. dxe4 O-O-O 11. Nbd2 Bh3 12. Bh1 Nge7 13. Nc4 h5 14. Rd1 Qc7 15. Nxd6+ Rxd6 16. Rxd6 Qxd6 17. Be3 b6 18. b4 Kb7 19. bxc5 bxc5 20. Rb1+ Kc7 21. Qa4 Rb8 22. Nd2 Rxb1+ 23. Nxb1 Qd3!! 24. Bg2 Qxb1+ {White resigns} 0-1

varelagm(1830)-chessart(1870), 8/27/96, time control 5,0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. a3 Bxc3 8. Bxc3 Nc6 9. g3 d5 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Qc2 Nxc3 13. Qxc3 Qd5 14. f3 Rd8 15. e4 Qg5 16. Bg2 Ba6 17. Kf2 Rd2+ 18. Kg1 Rad8 19. f4 Qg4 20. Bf3 Qh3 21. Rb1 R2d3 22. Bg2 Qg4 23. Qxc6 Rd1+ 24. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 25. Kf2 Qe2# {White checkmated} 0-1

chessart(1705)-Undertoad(1705), 11/6/99, time control 2,10

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 e6 5. Nf3 Bc5 6. Bc4 Nc6 7. O-O Nge7 8. Qe2 O-O 9. Be3 Bxe3 10. Qxe3 a6 11. Rad1 Qc7 12. Bb3 Na5 13. Nd4 Nxb3 14. Nxb3 d6 15. f4 b6 16. Nd4 Bb7 17. f5 exf5 18. exf5 Rae8 19. Qg3 Qc5 20. Kh1 Nd5 21. Nxd5 Bxd5 22. f6 g6 23. Qh4 Kh8 24. Qh6 Rg8 25. Rd3 {Black forfeits on time} 1-0

chessart(1700)-Crowless(1674), 9/26/97, time control 2,1

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Bc4 a6 6. Nf3 d6 7. O-O Nf6 8. e5 dxe5 9. Qb3 e6 10. Rd1 Qc7 11. Bg5 Na5 12. Qa4+ b5 13. Bxb5+ axb5 14. Nxb5 Qc4 15. Nc7+ Ke7 16. Bxf6+ gxf6 17. Qe8# {Black checkmated} 1-0

chessart(1175)-Nakia(1133), 3/23/03, time control 1,0

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Ne2 dxe4 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Nxc3 f5 7. f3 Nf6 8. fxe4 fxe4 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Nxe4 Nbd7 11. Bd3 Qe8 12. O-O Nxe4 13. Bxe4 Rxf1+ 14. Qxf1 Qf7 15. Qd3 g6 16. Rf1 Qg7 17. Qe3 c6 18. Bh6 Qh8 19. Qg5 Qxd4+ 20. Kh1 Qxe4 21. Qd8+ Nf8 22. Rxf8# {Black checkmated} 1-0

TREMENDOTO(1199)-chessart(1182), 3/27/03, time control 1,0

1. e3 c5 2. Ne2 d5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 e5 5. O-O Be6 6. b3 Qd7 7. Bb2 h5 8. a3 h4 9. f4 Bh3 10. Kf2 hxg3+ 11. Nxg3 Bxg2 12. Kxg2 exf4 13. Rxf4 Qh3+ 14. Kf3 Qxh2 15. Qe2 O-O-O 16. Qxh2 Rxh2 17. Nc3 Ne5# {White checkmated} 0-1

chessart(1508)-Darf-Vader(1508), 12/6/99, time control 0,4

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Be7 9. Bb5 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 a6 11. Bxd7+ Qxd7 12. O-O O-O 13. Qe2 b5 14. a3 Bb7 15. Rae1 Rac8 16. f5 Bc5 17. Bxc5 Rxc5 18. f6 g6 19. Qe3 Kh8 20. Qh6 Rg8 21. Re3 d4 22. Rh3 {Black resigns} 1-0

Itun(1158)-chessart(995), 3/27/04, time control 1,0

1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 c5 3. Bc4 cxd4 4. exd4 d6 5. Bg5 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Qd2 O-O 8. Nf3 Nbd7 9. O-O Re8 10. Rfe1 e5 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Nd5 e4 13. Nh4 a6 14. Nxf6+ Nxf6 15. Qe3 b5 16. Be2 Bb7 17. f3 exf3 18. Qxe8+ Qxe8 19. Bxf3 Qd7 20. Bxb7 Qxb7 21. Rad1 Ng4 22. Re7 Qb6+ 23. Kh1 Nf2+ 24. Kg1 Nh3+ 25. Kh1 Qg1+ 26. Rxg1 Nf2# {White checkmated} 0-1

My Best Games

Here are my best games played on ICC during the past 12 years or so, at least, these are the best that have survived.

In the first, I beat an Expert with the Dragon. Typical Dragon sacs leave me down a Rook, but with 4 Pawns to show for it. It is amazing how little scope his Rooks have in this position, and my 4 Pawns soon overwhelm his position. In the end, mate is forced with my King and Pawns, without any of my Pawns even having to Queen.

schacher(2016)-chessart(1959), 9/17/97, time control 2,10
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Bc4 Nc6 9. Qd2 Bd7 10. O-O-O Ne5 11. Bb3 Qa5 12. Kb1 Rfc8 13. h4 Nc4 14. Bxc4 Rxc4 15. Nb3 Qc7 16. h5 Rxc3 17. Qxc3 Qxc3 18. bxc3 Nxh5 19. g4 Nf6 20. e5 Nxg4 21. fxg4 Bxg4 22. Rde1 Bxe5 23. Bd4 Bxd4 24. cxd4 e6 25. Kb2 Kg7 26. Nd2 h5 27. c4 Rc8 28. Rb1 b6 29. a4 Rc7 30. Ra1 Be2 31. Kb3 g5 32. Rae1 Bg4 33. Ne4 Bf3 34. Rhg1 Bxe4 35. Rxe4 Kg6 36. Kb4 Kf5 37. Ree1 g4 38. d5 e5 39. Kc3 Kg5 40. Kd3 f5 41. a5 bxa5 42. Ra1 h4 43. Rxa5 h3 44. Ra6 Rd7 45. Ke3 f4+ 46. Ke4 h2 47. Rh1 g3 48. Kf3 e4+ 49. Kg2 Kg4 50. Re1 f3+ 51. Kh1 Kh3 {White resigns} 0-1

chessart(1731)-wtneveitt(1691), 10/3/30/99, time control 2,10
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 e6 5. Nf3 Bb4 6. Bc4 Qc7 7. Qe2 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 d6 9. O-O Ne7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rad1 a6 12. Bb3 Nbc6 13. Nd4 Na5 14. f4 b5 15. Kh1 Nec6 16. f5 Nxd4 17. cxd4 exf5 18. exf5 Nxb3 19. axb3 f6 20. Rd3 Bb7 21. Rh3 Qf7 22. Qg4 Rae8 23. Qh4 h6 24. Rg3 Kh7 25. h3 Re4 26. Rf4 Rfe8 27. Ba3 Qd5 28. Qg4 Re1+ 29. Kh2 R8e7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Rh4 Qf7 32. Rxh6+ Kg8 33. Qg4 Rd7 34. Qh4 Kf8 35. Rh8+ Ke7 36. Rxg7 Qxg7 37. Qxe1+ Kf7 38. Qe6# {Black checkmated} 1-0

The next game features one my best attacks ever. After losing the exchange on move 15, and then a Pawn on move 23, I fight hard to get a King-side attack rolling. The attack prevails nicely.

chessart(1806)-skewered(1963), 9/7/96, time control 2,10
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Nc6 6. e3 a6 7. a3 Bg4 8. Qb3 Na5 9. Qa4+ Bd7 10. Qc2 Rc8 11. Bd3 e6 12. Nf3 Be7 13. O-O b5 14. Rfc1 O-O 15. Qe2 Nb3 16. Ne5 Nxa1 17. Rxa1 Bc6 18. Rc1 Bb7 19. Bb1 Ne4 20. Qd3 f5 21. Qe2 Nxc3 22. Rxc3 Rxc3 23. bxc3 Bxa3 24. Qh5 Bb2 25. Nf3 g6 26. Qh6 Bxc3 27. Ng5 Qd7 28. Be5 Ba5 29. Nxe6! Re8 30. Bxf5!! Qf7 ( if 30...gxf5 31 Qg5ch Kf7 32 Qg7ch Kxe6 33 Qf6mate) 31. Ng5! Rxe5 32. Nxf7 Rxf5 33. Nd6 Rh5 34. Qf4 {Black resigns} 1-0

The next is one of my few games played at a standard (the slowest) time control. (I stopped playing standard years ago to preserve my Expert standard rating.) During the game I though a long time and came up with the creative maneuver Qe2-b5-d7, protecting my beleaguered Pawn on e6 while at the same time preparing to double Rooks on the 7th.

chessart(2004)-herbar(1900), 11/30/97, time control 7,12
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d6 4. cxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Be2 Nc6 9. h3 Bd7 10. O-O a6 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. Qd2 b5 13. a3 Na5 14. Qd1 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. Qd2 b4 17. axb4 Rxb4 18. e5 Ne8 19. Nd5 Rb5 20. Nc3 Rb8 21. Bh6 Bc6 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. d5 Bb5 24. Nxb5 Rxb5 25. e6 f6 26. Rc6 Nc7 27. Rfc1 Rxd5 28. Qe2 Nb5 29. Rxa6 Nd4 30. Nxd4 Rxd4 31. Qb5 Re4 32. Qd7 Re5 33. Ra7 Re8 34. Qxd8 Rxd8 35. Rxe7+ Kg8 36. Rcc7 d5 37. Rg7+ Kh8 38. Rxh7+ Kg8 39. Rcg7+ {Black resigns} 1-0

I like the next game because we follow the standard line in the Queen's Gambit Declined which I first learned many years ago. The standard position is reached after 16 Qe2. Most Black players now play 16...Bf5, although zoroastro's 16...Be6 does appear in the database as well. After 23...Qxe4 we are already in a major piece ending. I blunder a Pawn with 24 f5?, but I fight on and at the end my Pawn on f6 will Queen.

chessart(1548)-zoroastro(1555), 11/18/06, time control 2,10
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Rc1 c6 7. Nf3 Nbd7 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nd5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O Nxc3 12. Rxc3 e5 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nxe5 Qxe5 15. f4 Qe4 16. Qe2 Be6 17. Bd3 Qd5 18. e4 Qd4+ 19. Kh1 Rfe8 20. e5 Bd5 21. Qh5 g6 22. Qh6 Be4 23. Bxe4 Qxe4 24. f5? (24 Rh3) Qxe5 25. Rcf3 (Now I see not 25 f6? Qxf6! 26 Rxf6?? Re1ch and I get mated) Qg7 26. Qh4 Re5 27. f6 Qf8 28. Qd4 Rd5 29. Qc4 Rad8 30. Rb3 R8d7 31. h3 Qd6 32. Re3 h6 33. Qh4 Kh7 34. Re8 Rh5 35. Qe4 Qd5 36. Qxd5 Rhxd5 37. Re7 Rd1 38. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 39. Kh2 Rd2 40. Rxf7+ Kg8 41. Rxb7 a5 42. Kg3 g5 43. Kg4 Rxg2+? (43...Rf2) 44. Kh5 Re2 45. Kg6 Kf8 46. Rb8+ Re8 47. Rxe8+ Kxe8 48. Kg7 {Black resigns} 1-0

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When Is the Knight Better than the Bishop?

We are taught early on that the Bishop is better than the Knight, because it can cover both sides of the board at the same time. Given this, one would think that the Bishop would be especially useful vs. the Knight in an ending.

However, in many endings the Knight is better. This occurs when the board is congested with Pawns, and especially when the side with the Bishop has Pawns on the same colored squares as the Bishop, thereby limiting the Bishop's scope of operations.

Without further comment, following are 4 ICC games in which the Knight outplays the Bishop, followed by one in which the Bishop is better.

chessart(1482)-Shortcastle(1431), exchange Slav, 8/6/00, time control 0,4
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Bf4 Bd6 7. Bxd6 Qxd6 8. e3 O-O 9. Bd3 a6 10. O-O b5 11. a3 Bd7 12. b4 Nc6 13. Qd2 Rac8 14. Rfc1 Ne7 15. Rc2 Rc7 16. Rac1 Rfc8 17. Ne5 Ng6 18. Nxg6 fxg6 19. Qe2 Qf8 20. Qd2 Ne8 21. Ne2 Rxc2 22. Rxc2 Nd6 23. Rxc8 Qxc8 24. Qc2 Qxc2 25. Bxc2 Nc4 26. a4 bxa4 27. Nc3 a3 28. Bb3 Bb5 29. Nb1 Kf7 30. Bxc4 Bxc4 31. Nxa3 Ke7 32. f3 Kd6 33. Kf2 e5 34. Ke1 exd4 35. exd4 Ke6 36. Kd2 Bb5 37. Kc3 Kf5 38. Kd2 g5 39. Nc2 h5 40. Ne3+ Ke6 41. Kc3 g6 42. Kd2 Bc6 43. Kc3 Bb5 44. Kd2 Bc6 45. Nd1 Kf5 46. Ke3 g4 47. f4 h4 48. g3 h3 49. Nf2 g5 50. Nd3 gxf4+ 51. Nxf4 Bb7 52. Nh5 Kg6 53. Nf4+ Kf5 54. Nd3 Bc6 55. Nc5 Bb5 56. Nb7 Ke6 57. Kf4 Bc6 58. Nc5+ Kd6 59. Kxg4 Bd7+ 60. Nxd7 Kxd7 61. Kxh3 Kc6 62. g4 Kb5 63. g5 Kxb4 64. g6 a5 65. g7 a4 66. g8=Q a3 67. Qg2 Kc4 {Black resigns} 1-0

chancery(1735)-chessart(1750), Sicilian Dragon, 11/13/99, time control 2,10

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1 Qc7 12. g4 Rfc8 13. h4 Qa5 14. Qg5 Qxg5 15. hxg5 Nd7 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Be2 f6 18. gxf6+ Nxf6 19. Nb5 Rc5 20. Nd4 Bd7 21. c4 Rac8 22. Rc1 a6 23. b4 R5c7 24. Kb2 b6 25. a3 a5 26. Rc2 axb4 27. axb4 Ra7 28. Ra1 Rxa1 29. Kxa1 Ra8+ 30. Ra2 Rxa2+ 31. Kxa2 Kf7 32. Kb3 h5 33. gxh5 gxh5 34. Nf5 Bxf5 35. exf5 h4 36. Bf1 Nh5 37. Kc3 Nf4 38. Kd4 h3 39. Bxh3 Nxh3 40. c5 dxc5+ 41. bxc5 bxc5+ 42. Kxc5 Kf6 43. Kd4 Kxf5 44. Ke3 Ng5 45. Kf2 Kf4 46. Kg2 Nxf3 {White resigns} 0-1
tostos(1921)-chessart(1761), Benko Gambit, 2/22/01, time control 2,10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. Nc3 axb5 6. Nxb5 Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Bb7 8. Bd2 Qb6 9. e4 e6 10. Bc4 exd5 11. exd5 d6 12. Nge2 Be7 13. O-O O-O 14. Ng3 Nbd7 15. Nf5 Rfe8 16. Nxe7+ Rxe7 17. Qc2 Rae8 18. Rae1 Rxe1 19. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 20. Bxe1 Ne5 21. b3 Ba6 22. Bxa6 Qxa6 23. h3 Qd3 24. Qxd3 Nxd3 25. Bd2 Nb4 26. Bf4 Nfxd5 27. Nxd5 Nxd5 28. Bxd6 Nc3 29. a3 Ne4 30. Be7 f6 31. f3 Nd2 32. Bxc5 Nxb3 33. Be3 Kf7 34. Kf2 Ke6 35. Ke2 Kd5 36. Kd3 Na5 37. Bd2 Nc4 38. Bc1 f5 39. Kc3 Kc5 40. a4 g6 41. g4 fxg4 42. fxg4 h5 43. Bh6 hxg4 44. hxg4 Na5 45. Be3+ Kd5 46. Kb4 Nc6+ 47. Kb5 Ne5 48. g5 Nc4 49. Bc1 Nd6+ 50. Ka6 Kc6 51. Bf4 Ne4 52. Be3 Nc3 53. Ka5 Kb7 54. Bd2 Ne4 55. Bf4 Ka7 56. Kb4 Ka6 57. Be3 Kb7 58. Kc4 Ka6 59. Kb4 Kb7 60. Bf4 Ka6 61. a5 Kb7 62. Kb5 Ka7 63. Be3+ Kb7 64. a6+ Ka8 65. Kc6 Kb8 66. Kb6 Ka8 67. Bf4 Nxg5 68. Bxg5 Kb8 69. Be3 Ka8 {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2
chessart(1443)-johh(1742), exchange Slav, 1/24/07, time control 2,10
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bf4 e6 6. e3 Nf6 7. Bb5 Bd7 8. Bxc6 Bxc6 9. O-O Be7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. a3 Rc8 12. Qd2 b6 13. Rfc1 a6 14. b4 Bb7 15. Rc2 Rc4 16. Rac1 Nd7 17. Ne2 b5 18. a4 Nb6 19. axb5 axb5 20. Ne5 Bxb4 21. Qd3 Rxc2 22. Qxc2 Nc4 23. Ra1 f6 24. Nf3 Bd6 25. Qb3 Bxf4 26. Nxf4 Qb6 27. Nd3 Ra8 28. Rxa8+ Bxa8 29. Nc5 Kf7 30. Qc2 g6 31. Qa2 Qa5 32. Qxa5 Nxa5 33. Kf1 Nb7 34. Nxb7 Bxb7 35. Ke2 Ba6 36. Kd2 Ke7 37. Kc3 Kd6 38. Kb4 Kc6 39. Nd2 e5 40. Nb3 Bc8 41. Nc5 Bf5 42. h4 h6 43. g3 Bg4 44. f4 exd4 45. exd4 Be2 46. Ne6 Kd6 47. Nc5 Bf1 48. Nb7+ Ke6 49. Kc5 Bc4 50. Nd6 h5 51. Ne8 Kf5 52. Nd6+ Kg4 53. Nxb5 Kxg3 54. Nc7 Kxf4 55. Nxd5+ Bxd5 56. Kxd5 g5 57.
hxg5 fxg5 58. Ke6 h4 59. d5 h3 60. d6 h2 61. d7 h1=Q 62. d8=Q Qe4+ 63. Kf6 Qf5+ 64. Kg7 Qe5+ 65. Kh6 g4 66. Qf8+ Qf5 67. Qb4+ Kg3 68. Qc3+ Qf3 69. Qe1+ Kg2 70. Qd2+ Qf2 71. Qd5+ Kh2 72. Qe5+ g3 73. Qh5+ Kg1 74. Qd1+ Kh2 75. Qh5+ Kg2 76. Qd5+ Qf3 77. Qd2+ Kh3 78. Qd7+ Kh2 79. Qd2+ g2 80. Qd6+ Kh1 {White resigns} 0-1

pteros(1651)-chessart(1545), symmetrical English, 2/23/03, time control 5,0

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. c4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. e4 d5 7. exd5 exd5 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Bxd7+ Qxd7 14. O-O O-O 15. Qxd5 Qxd5 16. Nxd5 Bxb2 17. Rab1 Rab8 18. a4 a5 19. Nc7 Be5 20. Nb5 Rfd8 21. Rfd1 g6 22. g3 Kg7 23. Kg2 Bf6 24. f4 Rxd1 25. Rxd1 Rd8 26. Rxd8 Bxd8 27. Kf3 Kf6 28. Ke4 Ke6 29. h3 f5+ 30. Kd4 Bb6+ 31. Kc4 Bf2 32. g4 fxg4 33. hxg4 h5 34. gxh5 gxh5 35. Nc7+ Kf5 36. Nd5 h4 37. Ne7+ Kxf4 38. Ng6+ Kg3 39. Nxh4 Kxh4 40. Kb5 Be1 41. Kc4 Kg4 42. Kc5 Kf4 43. Kb5 Ke4 44. Kc4 Bd2 45. Kb3 Kd4 46. Kc2 Bb4 47. Kb3 Kd3 48. Ka2 Kc3 49. Ka1 Kb3 50. Kb1 Kxa4 51. Ka2 Kb5 52. Kb3 a4+ 53. Ka2 Kc4 54. Kb2 Kd3 55. Ka2 Kc3 56. Ka1 Kb3 57. Kb1 Bc3 58. Kc1 a3 59. Kb1 a2+ {White resigns} 0-1

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some Surprise Mates

In this first game, as White vs. Crailiene on 8/31/97, Black is up 4 Pawns and is about to Queen one of them, when I suddenly find a mate out of nowhere.
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 c4 8. b3 Qa5 9. d2 Bb4 10. Na4 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2 b5 12. Qxa5 Nxa5 13. Nb2 c3 14. Nd3 Ba6 15. Be2 Nc6 16. 0-O b4 17. a4 Bxd3 18. Bxd3 a5 19. Bb5 Rc8 20. Ne1 h6 21. f5 Nxd4 22. Bxd7+ Kxd7 23. fxe6+ Kxe6 24. Nd3 Nxc2 25. Rac1 Nd4 26. Nf4+ Kxe5 27. Rce1+ Kd6 28. Nd3 f6 29. Rf4 Nxb3 30. Rg4 Rc7 31. Nf4 c2 32. Re6+ Kc5?? 33. Nd3# {Black checkmated} 1-0

Back rank mates are of course common, but the same thing can happen on the *side* of the board also, as Black finds out here. I am White vs. stevyweevy on 7/16/00.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. cxd4 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Be2 O-O-O 8. Nc3 Qh5 9. Be3 e5 10. O-O exd4 11. Nxd4 Bxe2 12. Qxe2 Qxe2 13. Ncxe2 Nge7 14. Rac1 g6 15. Nxc6 Nxc6 16. Nd4 Bg7 17. Nxc6 bxc6 18. Rxc6+ Kb7 19. Rc4 Rd6 20. Rb4+ Ka8 21. Ra4 Rd7 22. Rc1 Rhd8 23. g3 Bxb2 24. Rc2 Bd4 25. Bxd4 Rxd4 26. Rxd4 Rxd4 27. Rc7 Rd2 28. Rxf7 Rxa2 29. Rxh7 Ra6 30. Rg7 Rd6 31. h4 a5 32. g4 a4 33. Kg2 a3 34. Re7 a2 35. Re1 Ra6 36. Ra1 Kb7 37. h5 gxh5 38. gxh5 Kc7 39. Kg3 Kd7 40. Kg4 Ke7 41. f4 Kf7 42. Kg5 Ra5+ 43. f5 Kg7 44. h6+ Kh7 45. Kf6 Kxh6?? 46. Rh1# {Black checkmated} 1-0

In the next game, as Black vs. Skip1 on 12/6/97, I lose my Queen on the 37th move, but later mate with Knight and Rook using the open g file.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. d5 d6 4. e4 a6 5. a4 b6 6. Be2 g6 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 Nbd7 10. h3 Bb7 11. Bf4 Ne8 12. Qd2 Nc7 13. Bh6 Nf6 14. Bf1 Re8 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. g4 Qc8 17. Bg2 Nd7 18. Nh4 b5 19. f4 b4 20. Ne2 a5 21. Ng3 Nf6 22. g5 Nd7 23. c4 Nb6 24. b3 Qd8 25. Rf1 Bc8 26. f5 gxf5 27. Nhxf5+ Bxf5 28. Nxf5+ Kh8 29. Qb2+ f6 30. Rf4 Rf8 31. Raf1 Nd7 32. R1f3 Ne5 33. Rg3 Rg8 34. Nh6 Rxg5 35. Rxg5 fxg5 36. Nf7+! Kg8 37. Nxd8 gxf4 38. Nc6 Kf7 39. Qf2 Nd3 40. Qh4 Rg8 41. Qxe7+ Kg6 42. Qxd6+ Kh5 43. Kh2 Ne1 44. Bf1? Nf3+ 45. Kh1 Rg1# {White checkmated} 0-1

The next mate is not exactly a surprise, but I really like the way I infiltrated his King position with my Queen and Knight, resulting in a neat mate on f7. I am White vs. vorpyl, on 11/14/97.

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. exd6 cxd6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Be3 Bg7 8. Rc1 O-O 9. b3 Nc6 10. Nge2 Bg4 11. h3 Bf5 12. g4 Bd7 13. Bg2 Nb4 14. O-O Nc6 15. Qd2 Qc8 16. Bh6 Re8 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Nf4 e5 19. dxe5 dxe5 20. Nfd5 Nxd5 21. Nxd5 Nd4 22. Rce1 Qc5 23. Qg5 Qd6 24. Ne3 Ne6 25. Nf5+ Kh8 26. Qf6+ Kg8 27. Nh6+ Kf8 28. Qxf7# {Black checkmated} 1-0

In the next game I have only Bishop, Knight, and 5 Pawns, to his 2 Bishops and 5 Pawns. He innocently moves his King to the center, which you're supposed to do in the ending, and I accidentally mate him there! I am White vs. fianchetto on 8/10/00.

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Be3 e5 6. d5 Nce7 7. Qd2 f5 8. exf5 gxf5 9. Bg5 Nf6 10. f4 exf4 11. Qxf4 Ng6 12. Qe3+ Qe7 13. Nf3 Kf7 14. Qxe7+ Kxe7 15. Bd3 Kf7 16. O-O-O a6 17. Rde1 Bd7 18. Re2 Rhe8 19. Rhe1 Rxe2 20. Rxe2 Re8 21. Rxe8 Bxe8 22. Nh4 Nxh4 23. Bxh4 Bd7 24. Kd2 Ng4 25. h3 Ne5 26. Ke3 Nxd3 27. Kxd3 Kg6 28. Bd8 c6 29. Be7 Be5 30. Ne2 cxd5 31. cxd5 f4 32. Ng1 Bf5+ 33. Kc4 Be4 34. Nf3 Kf5 35. Nh4# {Black checkmated} 1-0

Again a bit off-topic, but the next game is one of my best games and best attacks, and it does end in mate! I am White vs. wtneveitt on 10/30/99.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 e6 5. Nf3 Bb4 6. Bc4 Qc7 7. Qe2 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 d6 9. O-O Ne7 10. Bb2 O-O 11. Rad1 a6 12. Bb3 Nbc6 13. Nd4 Na5 14. f4 b5 15. Kh1 Nec6 16. f5 Nxd4 17. cxd4 exf5 18. exf5 Nxb3 19. axb3 f6 20. Rd3 Bb7 21. Rh3 Qf7 22. Qg4 Rae8 23. Qh4 h6 24. Rg3 Kh7 25. h3 Re4 26. Rf4 Rfe8 27. Ba3 Qd5 28. Qg4 Re1+ 29. Kh2 R8e7 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Rh4 Qf7 32. Rxh6+ Kg8 33. Qg4 Rd7 34. Qh4 Kf8 35. Rh8+ Ke7 36. Rxg7 Qxg7 37. Qxe1+ Kf7 38. Qe6# {Black checkmated} 1-0

In the next I mate using only a Knight and Pawns (and my King). Note that I could have done the mate a move earlier, and that the Knight could also mate from d6 as well as from the actual e3 square as played in the game. I am Black vs. Engenheiro on 8/19/00.

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nc7 6. d3 e5 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. O-O Be7 9. Be3 Bd7 10. Rc1 b6 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Bxa8 Qxa8 13. Bf4 Bh3 14. f3 Ng6 15. Rf2 Nxf4 16. gxf4 Bh4 17. Ne4 Bxf2+ 18. Kxf2 O-O 19. Qc2 Ne6 20. e3 Rd8 21. Kg3 Bf5 22. Rg1 Bxe4 23. dxe4 Kh8 24. Qg2 Qc6 25. h4 Nf8 26. Kh3 Qg6 27. Qxg6 Nxg6 28. h5 Ne7 29. Rg2 Rd6 30. a3 Rh6 31. Kh4 Ng6+ 32. Kg5 Nf8 33. Rd2 f6+ 34. Kg4 Kg8 35. Rd8 Kf7 36. Ra8 g6 37. Rxa7+ Kg8 38. hxg6 Rxg6+ 39. Kf5 b5 40. Rc7 c4 41. Rc5 Rg1 42. Rxb5 Rb1 43. Rc5 Rxb2 44. Rxc4 Rb3 45. a4 Rxe3 46. a5 Ra3 47. Rc5 Rxf3 48. a6 Ra3 49. Rc6 Nd7 50. Rc7 Nb6 51. a7 h5 52. Rb7 Nc4 53. Rb8+ Kf7 54. a8=Q Rxa8? 55. Rxa8? Ne3# {White checkmated} 0-1

The next one, played as White vs. kds3 on 10/1/00, is an elegant mate in a simplified setting.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 d6 5. Bc4 e6 6. Nf3 Qc7 7. Qe2 a6 8. O-O Nf6 9. Bf4 e5 10. Bg3 Be7 11. Rfd1 Be6 12. Bd3 O-O 13. Rac1 Nc6 14. Bb1 Qb6 15. a3 Rac8 16. b4 Nxb4 17. axb4 Qxb4 18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. exd5 Rxc1 20. Rxc1 Nxd5 21. Ba2 Nc3 22. Qc2 Nxa2 23. Qxa2 Kh8 24. Rb1 Rc8 25. h3 Qe4 26. Kh2 f5 27. Qb3 b5 28. Qa2 f4 29. Bh4 Bxh4 30. Nxh4 Rc2 31. Qxa6 h5 32. Ra1 Rxf2 33. Qc8+ Kh7 34. Qf5+ Qxf5 35. Nxf5 d5 36. Ra5 e4 37. Rxb5 e3 38. Rxd5 Rd2 39. Re5 e2 40. Ne7 f3 41. Rxh5# {Black checkmated} 1-0

In the next game, as Black vs. grandfunk on 2/17/01, I am down a Knight and 2 Pawns but stuble on an elegant mate, again in a very simple setting.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. f4 d5 4. Bb5+ Nc6 5. Bxc6+ bxc6 6. Nf3 d4 7. Ne2 Nf6 8. d3 Be7 9. b3 a5 10. a4 O-O 11. O-O Qc7 12. Ne5 Nd7 13. Nc4 Nb6 14. Nxb6 Qxb6 15. Bd2 Bd7 16. Ng3 Bh4 17. Qe2 f5 18. e5 Qd8 19. Qf3 Rf7 20. Ne2 Qe7 21. g3 g5 22. gxh4 gxf4 23. Qxf4 Be8 24. Qg5+ Rg7 25. Kh1 Rxg5 26. Bxg5 Qf7 27. Nf4 Bd7 28. Rg1 Kf8 29. Bh6+ Ke8 30. Rg7 Qf8 31. Rag1 Kd8 32. Rxd7+ Kxd7 33. Bxf8 Rxf8 34. Rg7+ Ke8 35. Rxh7 Rg8 36. h5 Rg4 37. Nxe6 f4 38. Nxc5 f3 39. Ne4 Rg2 40. Rc7 Rxc2 41. h6 Rc1# {White checkmated} 0-1

9...d5 in the Sicilian Dragon

The first moves are standard so here we go: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Be3 Bg7

Black must be careful and not play too fast here. If White plays 6 f4, then Bg7 is a blunder and Black must first play ...Nc6 to meet the threat of 7 e5.

7 f3 0-0 8 Qd2 Nc6 9 0-0-0

This is about as common these days as the old move 9 Bc4. White's idea is that now after the normal maneuver Nc6-e5-c4 by Black, he can take the Knight on c4 with the first move of his Bishop, instead of the 3rd, making that maneuver ineffectual.


For years I exchanged Knights on d4 and played ...Be6, the idea being that if White was not going to take this good diagonal, I would. However, all along I knew...d5 was the preferred move, but I resisted learning it because I knew it involved a Pawn sacrifice, and I felt I should know what I was doing before going into this line. Finally, about 3 years ago, I decided to learn this and have been playing it ever since. It leads to interesting play, to say the least.

10 exd5

An important alternative is 10 Kb1, the idea being that now 10...dxe5 loses to 11 Nxc6. I have faced it twice, vs. banshee and HDA, and was lucky to win both though it was frustrating to play against.

Nxd5 11 Nxc6 bxc6 12 Nxd5

An oft-played alternative here is 12 Bd4. I have faced this 7 times, more than any other single line. I have been playing 12...e5, but I see now from my Dragon book that 12...Nxc3 is an important alternative to be looked at.

12...cxd5 13 Qxd5

White accepts the Pawn sacrifice.


The point of Black's sacrifice now becomes clear. His Bishop will go to f5, and his Rooks to b8 and c8, after which all 5 of Black's pieces will be bearing down on White's vulnerable King position.

14 Qc5

The normal move here, threatening to trade Queens and thereby take the sting out of Black's attack. Player Corniel played 14 c3? against me, and I missed 14...Bxc3!, immediately recovering the gambit Pawn, and the game was eventually drawn.

Another blunder is 14 Qc4, which I have faced 3 times--vs. hwcpc, primate, and stevesoccer. I have responded 14...Qb7, the normal response to 14 Qc5, not appreciating that here Black has the super-strong move 14...Qe5! All 3 games in the online database I consulted have
Black winning from this position.

But we must also consider an important alternative here. You will notice that Black's Queen Rook is hanging, apparently free for the taking. However, after 14 Qxa8 Bf5! White must give up his Queen for the other Rook due to the mate threat on c2. After 15 Qxf8ch Kxf8 16 Rd2 (not 16 Bd3? Qe5!) my book says prevailing opinion is that Black is better, his Queen being better than White's Rooks, but it ends with "but who knows what the future holds?".

I have faced 14 Qxa8 4 times. Against Bivalve the game went 16 Bd3? Qe5! 17 Bxf5 Qxb2ch 18 Kd2 Bc3ch 19 Ke2 Bxf5 and the game was later drawn when I made a mistake in the ending and he took advantage with a nice zwischenzug move. geoid99 lost quickly after 16 c3? Bxc3! 17 Bc4 Qxc4 0-1. Same with pomski after 16 Bd3? Qe5 17 Rhe1 Qxb2ch 18 Kd2 Bc3ch 0-1. senecastar lasted a bit longer: 16 Bd3? Qe5! 17 Bxf5 Qxe3ch 18 Kb1 Qb6! (not 18...PxB 19 Rd8mate) 19 c3 Bxc3 20 b3 gxf5 21 Rc1 Bf6 22 Rhd1 Qb5 23 Rc4 Qe5 24 Rd2 Qa1ch 25 Kc2 Qxa2ch 26 Kd3 Qxb3ch 0-1.


The usual move here. I of course do not want to trade Queens.

15 Qa3

This is the main line, and my book gives the main continuation from here as 15...Bf5 16 Ba6 Qc7 17 Qc5! Qb6! 18Qxb6 axb6 19 Bd3 Bxd3 20 Rxd3 Rxa2 21 Rhd1 Rxb2 22 Rd8 f5!=

If White tries 16 Bd3, then 16...Rab8 17 b3 Rfc8 18 Bxf5 gxf5 19 Bd4 Qc7 20 Qb2 e5 advantage to Black. Same with 16 Bd4 Qc7 17 Bc3 Qf4ch! 18 Bd2 Qd4.

An inferior way of defending the Pawn on b2 is 15 c3. mrollamh played this against me, and the game went 15...Be6 (correct is Bf5) 16 Qa3 Rfc8 17 Bd3 Rab8 18 Rhe1 h5 19 Be4 Qb5 20 Bxa7 Bxc3 21 bxc3 and now I could have won immediately with 21...Rxc3ch!

Another inferior move for White is 15 Bd4, which I have actually faced 4 times, with 2 wins and a draw to show for the 4 games. Play continues 15...Bf5 16 Bxg7 Rfc8! 17 Qxc8 Rxc8 18 Bc3 unclear. Does White have enough for his Queen? Who knows!

And finally we must consider 15 Qb5 QxQ 16 BxQ Rb8 17 Bc4 Bxb2ch 18 Kd2 Bf5 19 Bxa7 Rbc8 20 Bb3 Rc7 21 Be3 Rfc8 with an edge to Black.

Rszteinbaum(1436)-chessart(1501), 4/2/08, 5,0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O d5 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. exd5 cxd5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 13. Qxd5 Qc7 14. Qc5 Qb7 15. Qa3 Bf5 16. Bd3 Bxd3 17. Rxd3 Rab8 18. Rb3 Qc6 19. Rd1 Rfc8 20. Rd2 a6 21. Qa5 h5 22. Rb6 Qc4 23. Qxa6 Qxa6 24. Rxa6 Bxb2+ 25. Kd1 Bc3 26. Rd3 Rb1+ 27. Bc1 Bb2 28. Rb6 Rxc1+ 29. Kd2 R8xc2+ 30. Ke3 Re1+ 31. Kf4 e5+ 32. Kg3 Ree2 33. Rb8+ Kg7 {White resigns} 0-1

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Ending of Rook and Pawn vs. Rook

The intricacies of this ending are fairly easy to master, and when learned will inform your play leading up to the capture of the second-last Pawn on the board.

There are 3 basic types of this ending. First, when the Black (weak side) King is blocking the advance of the White (strong side) Pawn. This is called Philidor's Position, and it is drawn if Black knows what he's doing. The technique for Black is to leave his Rook on his 3rd rank until the White King threatens to go to his 6th rank (i.e., when the White Pawn pushes to the 6th), at which time the Black Rook promptly goes to the 8th where it will check the White King indefinitely. This sounds simple, but, as will be seen, is easy to forget during the hustle and bustle of a bullet game.

The second type of this ending is where the White Rook cuts off the Black King from the file the Pawn is on. If the Pawn is advanced as far as the 5th rank, White can then force Lucena's position, a pretty winning maneuver known for many centuries. Again, the complexities come in during the play leading up to the capture of the second-last Pawn.

The third type is the special case of the Rook Pawn. In this ending, the White King will be on Rook 8 and trapped in there by the Black Rook which has taken up residence on the Knight file. To win this, the Black King must be cut off by many files, i.e., has to be clear over on the other side of the board from the White Pawn. To win White must move his Rook to the Knight 8 square to oppose Rooks, and then his King escapes in whichever direction is allowed, depending on the placement of the Black King. This maneuver takes 3 moves (if Black's King is correctly positioned on his first or second rank), and during this time the Black King can creep closer and closer to the scene of the action, which is why it must be cut off by so many files at the start of the maneuver, so that he cannot get to his Bishop 2 square near the Pawn.

I will present two games illustrating each of these three types. In the first, as Black against Wannabee on 11/15/06, White should have followed the above procedure by playing 77 Ra3 f3 78 Ra8 drawn. Note that after 77 Ra1? Kg3! (not 77...Kf3? 78 Ra3ch Kg4 79 Rc3 f3 80 Rc8 drawn) it is now too late to go to the 8th rank, as 78 Ra8 Rb1ch 79 Ke2 f3ch 80 Kd2 Kg2 and Black has converted the position to Lucena's Position. I note also that in a game with a 10-second increment, White spent only 2 seconds on his 77th move. These endings need to be thought through more carefully than that!
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O d5 10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Qb4 Bf5 14. Bd3 Bxd3 15. Rxd3 Rac8 16. Qb3 a5 17. c3 a4 18. Qa3 b5 19. Rhd1 Qc4 20. Qxe7 Qxa2 21. Qa3 Qxa3 22. bxa3 Bxc3 23. Kb1 Bg7 24. Rd5 Rc3 25. R1d3 Rxd3 26. Rxd3 Re8 27. Kc2 Rc8+ 28. Kd2 Be5 29. h3 Bb2 30. g4 Bc1+ 31. Ke2 Re8 32. Kf2 Bxe3+ 33. Rxe3 Rc8?

Here I miss an easy win with 33...RxR 34 KxR b4 35 Kd3 b3-+. But then I wouldn't have gotten to play the interesting Rook and Pawn endgame!

34. Re5 Rc3 35. Rxb5 Rxa3 36. Ra5 Kg7

We have arrived at the very common Rook-and-Pawn endgame of 3 Pawns each on the King-side, with one side having an extra Pawn on the a-file. My favorite resource for studying endings like this is "A Guide to Chess Endings", by Max Euwe and David Hopper. They analyze an amazing 7 endings like this, and give the rule-of-thumb that the ending is won if the strong side has his Rook *behind* his passed Pawn, but only drawn if, as here, the strong side's Rook is *in front of* his Pawn.

37. Kg3 Ra1 38. Kf4 a3 39. h4 a2 40. g5 Rh1

White has been careful not to blunder by allowing a Rook check followed by promotion of the a-Pawn. Consequently, I must try trading my passed Pawn for one of his King-side Pawns.

41. Rxa2 Rxh4+ 42. Kg3 Rb4 43. f4 Rb7 44. Kg4 Rb1 45. Ra6 Rg1+ 46. Kf3 h5 47. gxh6+ Kxh6 48. Ra7 Kg7 49. Ra5 Rf1+ 50. Kg3 Rb1 51. Ra7 Kf6 52. Ra6+ Kg7 53. Ra7 Rg1+ 54. Kf3 Rf1+ 55. Kg3 Rg1+ 56. Kf2 Rg4 57. Kf3 Rg1 58. Kf2 Rb1 59. Kg3 Rb6 60. Kg4 Kf6 61. Ra5 Rb1 62. Ra6+ Kg7 63. Ra5 f5+

After many meaningless Rook moves, I finally make some progress!

64. Kf3 Kh6 65. Ra3 Rh1 66. Kg2 Rb1 67. Rh3+ Kg7 68. Ra3 Rb2+ 69. Kf3 Kh6 70. Ra8 Rb3+ 71. Kg2 Kh5 72. Ra6 Kg4 73. Rxg6+ Kxf4

We finally arrive at R+P vs. R. His King is in front of the Pawn, so he should be able to use the rules for Philidor's Position to achieve the draw.

74. Ra6 Rb2+ 75. Kf1 Kg4 76. Ra4+ f4 77. Ra1??

He must play 77 Ra3, following Philidor's Rule. Then if 77...f3, he can play 78 Ra8 and his Rook will be able to check my King off of the 6th rank.

Kg3 78. Ra3+ f3 79. Ra1 Rh2 80. Kg1 f2+ 81. Kf1 Rh1+ {White resigns} 0-1


In the next game, played against katzparov on 7/13/00, it is my turn to mess up Philidor's Position. Instead of the careless 50...Rb5ch, I need to take my 3rd rank with 50...Rb6. If he then plays 51 f5, I need to immediately take my 8th with 51...Rb1. The nuance here is that after 51 f5 he is already threatening to get his King on the 6th, since the Pawn advances with check; e.g., if 51...Ra6? 52 f6ch! (Not 52 Rc7ch Kf8 53 f6 Ra1! and he has given me a chance to recover) Kf7 53 Rc7ch Kf8 54 Kg6 1-0.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nf3 c2 5. Qxc2 Nc6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O a6 8. a4 Be7 9. Nc3 Nf6 10. e5 Ng4 11. Re1 Qc7 12. Bf4 d6 13. Qe4 dxe5 14. Nxe5 Ngxe5 15. Rac1 Bd6 16. Nb5 axb5 17. axb5 O-O 18. bxc6 Nxc6 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. Red1 Qe5 21. Qxe5 Nxe5 22. Bb5 b6 23. f4 Ng6 24. g3 Ba6 25. Bxa6 Rxa6 26. Rc7 Rfa8 27. Rb7 h6 28. Rdd7 Ra1+ 29. Kg2 h5 30. Rxf7 Nf8 31. Rxg7+ Kh8 32. Rg5 h4 33. Rh5+ Kg8 34. Rxh4 Rc1 35. Rxb6 Rc2+ 36. Kh3 Ra2 37. Kg4 Raxb2 38. Rxb2 Rxb2 39. h3 Kg7 40. Rh5 Ng6 41. Ra5 Rb4 42. h4 Rb3 43. h5 Nf8 44. Ra8 Rb4 45. h6+ Kg8??

This loses my Knight for a Pawn, leaving me in a Pawn-down ending (though one in which I have good drawing chances). Correct is 45...Kf7, and I remain up a Knight for 2 Pawns. No big advantage to that in this position, but at least I do have *some* material advantage.

46. h7+ Kxh7 47. Rxf8 e5

By forcing this exchange of Pawns, I am confident that I can achieve Philidor's Position and thereby draw.

48. Kg5 exf4 49. gxf4 Kg7 50. Rc8 Rb5+? 51. f5 Kf7?

Passive defense with 51...Rb7 is now necessary.

52. Rc7+ Kf8 53. Kg6 Rb1 54. Rc8+ Ke7 55. f6+ Kd7 56. Ra8 Rg1+ 57. Kf7

Thanks to my poor play, White has now achieved Lucena's Position.

Rg2 58. Ra4 Rg1 59. Rd4+ Kc6 60. Ke8 Re1+ 61. Kf8 Kc5 62. Rd2 Kc6 63. f7 Kc7 64. Rd4 Kc6 65. Kg7 Rg1+ 66. Kf6 Rf1+ 67. Kg6 Rg1+ 68. Kf5 Rf1+ 69. Rf4 {Black resigns} 1-0

White has flawlessly executed the Lucena winning technique, as developed more fully in the next section.


And now we come to Lucena's Position. In the first game, played as White against pawnfish on 11/12/97, he is actually blocking my Pawn after 46...Kg7, but through a series of checks I artfully get his King to vacate the file, all the while avoiding his mate threats against me, and I think I am correct in saying that after 50 fxg5ch I have forced the Lucena Position on him. He nevertheless plays it out to the bitter end, the reason being that the increment is only one second.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. cxd4 d6 6. exd6 Qxd6 7. Nf3 e6 8. Nc3 a6 9. Bc4 Nb6 10. Bb3 Be7 11. O-O Nc6 12. Re1 O-O 13. d5 exd5 14. Nxd5 Nxd5 15. Qxd5 Be6 16. Qxd6 Bxd6 17. Bxe6 fxe6 18. Rxe6 Bc5 19. Be3 Bxe3 20. Rxe3 Rae8 21. Rae1 Rxe3 22. Rxe3 Nb4 23. a3 Nd5 24. Re1 Rc8 25. Kf1 Nf4 26. g3 Nd3 27. Re2 Nc5 28. Kg2 Rf8 29. Ng5 h6 30. Ne4 Ne6 31. Nd6 Nd4 32. Re4 Nf5 33. Nxf5 Rxf5

Reaching the Rook and Pawn ending. Each side has 2 Q-side Pawns, and I am up 3 to 2 on the King-side.

34. Re7 Rb5 35. b4 a5 36. bxa5 Rxa5 37. Rxb7 Rxa3

And now the Q-side Pawns have been liquidated, so it is down to just the K-side Pawns. I believe this should be a book draw, so kudos to Black for simplifying by eliminating the Q-side Pawns.

38. h4 Kh7 39. Kh3 Kg6 40. f4 Kf6 41. Rb5 Rd3 42. Kg4 Rd6 43. Kh3 g6 44. Kg4 Re6 45. h5 gxh5+ 46. Kxh5 Kg7 47. g4 Re2 (threatening 48...Rh2#) 48. Rb7+ Kf6 49. g5+ (Not 49 Kxh3?? Rh2#) hxg5 50. fxg5+ Kf5 51. Rf7+ Ke6 52. g6 Rh2+ 53. Kg5 Rg2+ 54. Kh6 Rh2+ 55. Kg7 Rg2 56. Kh7 Rh2+ 57. Kg8 Rg2 58. g7 Ra2 59. Rf4 Ra8+ 60. Kh7 Ke5 61. Rf2 (or 61 Rf8) Ke6 62. g8=Q+ Rxg8 63. Kxg8 Ke5 64. Kg7 Ke4 65. Kg6 Ke3 66. Rf7 Ke4 67. Kg5 Ke5 68. Re7+ Kd6 69. Re1 Kd5 70. Kf4 Kd4 71. Rd1+ Kc3 72. Ke3 Kc2 73. Rd8 Kc3 74. Rc8+ Kb4 75. Kd3 Kb5 76. Kd4 Kb6 77. Rc1 Kb5 78. Rc2 Kb4 79. Rb2+ Ka5 80. Rb8 Ka6 81. Kc5 Ka7 82. Rb1 Ka8 83. Kc6 Ka7 84. Rb2 Ka8 85. Kc7 Ka7 86. Ra2# {Black checkmated}


In the next game, played as White against Flashblack on 9/127/00, he blunders badly with 50...Kb7??, allowing my Pawn to advance to the 5th rank, with a winning Lucena Position. Instead, he can play 50...Rf8, preventing the immediate advance of the pawn.

There actually is a way for White to *force* the advance of the Pawn, using a technique which I obviously did not remember or find during the game. If you go back to White's 48th move, instead of 48 Kf5?, I can play 48 Kh6!, a maneuver available because the Pawn in a Bishop's Pawn and not a Knight's Pawn. Play could continue 48...Rf8 49 Rf1!! (the key idea) Kc6 50 f5 Kd6 51 Re1 and his King is still cut off so it is now Lucena with a Pawn on the 5th, therefore easily won with the standard maneuver, which I flawlessly execute once he allows the push to the 5th rank. After this maneuver is completed he resigns, since the increment here is 4 seconds and not one second as in the last game.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 d6 5. Nxd4 Nxd4 6. Qxd4 Nf6 7. Nc3 Be7 8. Bf4 O-O 9. O-O-O Bd7 10. Rhe1 a6 11. e5 dxe5 12. Bxe5 c5 13. Qd3 b5 14. Qd2? (14 Bxf6!) bxc4 15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. Qxd7 Qxd7 17. Rxd7 Bxc3 18. bxc3 h6 19. Rc7 Rfc8 20. Ree7 Rxc7 21. Rxc7 Kf8 22. Rxc5 Re8 23. Rxc4 Re2 24. Rf4 g5 25. Rf3 Kg7 26. Kd1 Re6 27. Kd2 Kg6 28. c4 f5 29. c5 Re5 30. Rc3 Rd5+ 31. Ke3 Kf6 32. c6 Rd8 33. c7 Rc8 34. Kd4 Ke6 35. Rc6+ Kd7 36. Rxh6 Kxc7 37. Rxa6 Kb7 38. Ra5 Rxc2 39. Rxf5 Rxa2 40. f3? (40 h3) Rxg2 41. Ke4 Rxh2 42. Rxg5

Kind of silly to let him go from three Pawns down to only one Pawn down, but I suppose I was relying on getting a winning Lucena Postiion at the end of the exchanges.

Rh4+ 43. f4 Rh8 44. Rc5

Cutting off his King by three files.

Kb6 45. Rc1 Re8+ 46. Kf5 Rf8+ 47. Kg5 Rg8+ 48. Kf5?

There is a special maneuver available here to force the advance of the Pawn to the 5th rank, a maneuver which I obviously did not remember during the game. I should play 48 Kh6! Rf8 49 Rf1! (the key idea) Kc6 50 f5 Kd6 51 Re1, so it is still the Lucena Position with my Pawn now on the 5th rank, so an easy win.

Rf8+ 49. Ke4 Re8+ 50. Kf3 Kb7??

This allows me to advance my Pawn unimpeded, giving me tyhe winning Lucena Position. He should play 50...Rf8 to hold my feet to the fire to find the winning maneuver. The win is straightforward now.

51. f5 Rf8 52. Kf4 Rg8 53. f6 Rg2 54. Kf5 Rf2+ 55. Kg6 Rg2+ 56. Kf7 Rf2 57. Kg7 Rg2+ 58. Kf8 Rf2 59. f7 Rf3 60. Rc4 Kb6 61. Ke7 Re3+ 62. Kf6 Rf3+ 63. Ke6 Re3+ 64. Kf5 Rf3+ 65. Rf4 {Black resigns} 1-0


And finally we come to the special case of the Rook Pawn. As White against kwiteaman, played on 3/15/97, the pertinent principles are well-illustrated. We reach the Rook and Pawn vs. Rook ending after 54...Kxb7. If I now play 55 Rc5, I cut his King off by 5(!) files, but I cannot win since my Pawn is still on the 2nd rank. His Rook simply checks my King which will be unable to support the Pawn's advance. So, I push the Pawn up 2, and after 55 h4 Kc7 56 Rd5, I have his King cut off by 4 files but the rule is that my Pawn needs to be on the 5th to be able to win this, not on the 4th as in the game. Black repeatedly opposes Rooks, allowing his King to inch closer as my Pawn advances, illustrating Black's drawing resources. Unfortunately for Black, before hitting on the drawing method he loses a vital tempo with 56...Kc6?. Later his 62...Kf6? loses immediately, but computer analysis shows that even the correct 62...Rh7 will lose against accurate play by White.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 b6 6. Nf3 Bb7 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. Nxd5 Bxd5 10. Bd3 Qb4+ 11. Qd2 Qxd2+ 12. Nxd2 O-O 13. O-O Nd7 14. Rfc1 c5 15. Bb5 Rfd8 16. Bxd7 Rxd7 17. dxc5 bxc5 18. Rxc5 Bxg2 19. Kxg2 Rxd2 20. Rac1 g6 21. R1c2 Rxc2 22. Rxc2 Rb8 23. b3 Rb7 24. Kf3 Kg7 25. Ke4 Kf6 26. Rc5 Rb4+ 27. Rc4 Rb6 28. Ra4 a6 29. Rc4 Rb5 30. Kf3 Ra5 31. Rc2 Rf5+ 32. Kg3 h5 33. b4 g5 34. a4 g4 35. Rb2 Kg5 36. b5 axb5 37. axb5 Rc5 38. b6 Rc8 39. b7 Rb8 40. Rb5+ f5 41. e4 h4+ 42. Kg2 Kf4 43. exf5 exf5 44. Rb4+ Kg5 45. f3 gxf3+ 46. Kxf3 f4? 47. Rb5+ Kf6 48. Kxf4 Ke7 49. Kg4 Kd7 50. Kxh4 Kc7 51. Kg5 Rg8+ 52. Kf4 Rf8+ 53. Rf5? (Kg5) Rh8 54. Kg3? (Rb5) Kxb7 55. h4 Kc7 56. Rd5 Kc6? (Rd8=) 57. Rd1 Rh7 58. Kg4 Rd7 59. Re1 Kd6 60. h5 Re7 61. Rh1 Ke6 62. h6 Kf6?

62...Rh7 63 Kg5 Kf7 64 Ra1! Rh8 (Black was in zugzwang) 65 Ra7ch Ke6 66 h7 followed by Kg6-g7 winning easily.

63. h7 {Black resigns} 1-0

In the next game, played as Black against VECTOR on 2/22/01, I get the classical position of Rook + Rook Pawn vs. Rook, where my King is on R8 and has to be extricated. I correctly play 65...Rd5ch!, cutting his King off by the required 4 files, but unfortunately I later go horribly astray with the atrocious 74...Rf2ch??, instead of the correct 74...Rf1 75 Ke2 Rg1 winning.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 a6 5. Be3 Nc6 6. Qd2 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. Bc4 Nf6 9. O-O-O Bg4 10. h3 Bxf3 11. gxf3 Rc8 12. Bb3 O-O 13. Kb1 Ne5 14. f4 Nc4 15. Bxc4 Rxc4 16. f3 Qc7 17. Bd4 Rc8 18. b3 Rxd4 19. Qxd4 Qxc3 20. Qxc3 Rxc3 21. e5 Nh5 22. exd6 exd6 23. Rxd6 Rxf3 24. Rd8+ Bf8 25. Rb8 Nxf4 26. Rd1 Kg7 27. Rxb7 Rxh3 28. Rdd7 Ba3 29. Rxf7+ Kg8 30. Rg7+ Kh8 31. c4 Ne6 32. Rgd7 Kg8 33. Kc2 g5 34. Rb6 Re3 35. Rxa6 Bf8 36. b4 g4 37. Kd2 Re5 38. c5 g3 39. Rd3 Rg5 40. Rxe6 g2 41. Re1 g1=Q 42. Rxg1 Rxg1 43. Rd8 Rg2+ 44. Kc3 Rxa2 45. b5 Kg7 46. Kb3 Ra1 47. Rd7+ Kg6 48. c6 Rb1+ 49. Kc4 Rb4+ 50. Kd3 Rxb5 51. c7 Rc5 52. Rd8 Rxc7 53. Rxf8

We have reached the interesting ending of Rook and h-Pawn vs. Rook. I proceed to cut off his King from my Pawn by three files with my next move.

Re7 54. Rg8+ Kf5 55. Rf8+ Kg4 56. Rg8+ Kh4 57. Rg1?

The Rook belongs behind the passed Pawn, not in front of it. Since the weak-side King belongs on the 2nd rank in this ending, his best is 57 Kd2, after which my rook will require 3 moves to get to the key g1 square, and his King will then have time to get close enough to secure the draw.

h5 58. Kd2 Kh3 59. Rh1+ Kg4 60. Rg1+ Kf3 61. Rh1

Here again, 61 Rg8 is more to the point.

Re5 62. Rh4 Kg3 63. Rh1 h4 64. Rg1+ Kf2!

Now that I have opposed Kings, I can check his King to where it is cut off by 4 files, giving me a winning position. Had he put his Rook on the 8th file as he should have, he could now check me and prevent me from effectively opposing Kings like this.

65. Rh1 Rd5+! 66. Kc3 Kg3 67. Rg1+ Kh2 68. Rg4?

Even though I have a won game, hs should still make it as challenging for me as he can. Correct is 68 Rg8.

h3 69. Kc4 Rd8 70. Kc3 Kh1 71. Kc2 h2 72. Kc1 Rd7 73. Kc2 Rf7 74. Kd2 Rf2+??

A complete brain freeze on my part. Simply 74...Rf1 followed by 75...Rg1, and my King then escapes.

75. Ke3 Rg2 76. Ra4 Rg1 77. Ra2 Rg3+ 78. Kf4 Rg2 79. Ra1+ Rg1 80. Ra2 Rf1+ 81. Kg3 Rg1+ 82. Kf3 Rb1 83. Rc2 Kg1 84. Rg2+ Kh1 85. Rc2 Rf1+ 86. Kg3 Rg1+ 87. Kf3 Rf1+ 88. Kg3 {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2

Monday, March 17, 2008

Some King and Pawn Endings

I have always had a fascination with King and Pawn endings. I think it's because they are so deceptively simple-looking, yet often contain such wonderful complexities. Following are some of these endings from my ICC library.

The first one was played on 2/19/97 vs. jk. Instead of 41...Kf5, winning easily, my 41...Kf7?? loses even though I am a Pawn up at the time.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. g3 Bc5 7. e3 Nxd4 8. exd4 Bb4 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Bg2 d5 11. c5 Bd7 12. O-O Bc6 13. a3 Bxc3 14. Bxc3 Rb8 15. b4 b6 16. Rb1 a5 17. Qc2 axb4 18. axb4 bxc5 19. bxc5 Bb5 20. Rfe1 Qd7 21. Bf1 Bxf1 22. Kxf1 Ne4 23. f3 Nxc3 24. Qxc3 Rfc8 25. f4 Qa4 26. Rec1 Qa6+ 27. Kf2 Rb7 28. Rxb7 Qxb7 29. c6?

This has to be wrong on principle. While the old adage is that "passed Pawns must be pushed", that does not apply here, since pushing the c-Pawn only makes it inevitable that it will be captured, becauss the Black King is closer to it than his White counterpart. On c5 it was protected, whereas it is weak on c6.

29...Qb6 30. Qc5 Qxc5 31. Rxc5 Kf8 32. Ke3 Ke7 33. f5 Kd6 34. fxe6 fxe6 35. Kf4 Rxc6 36. Rxc6+ Kxc6

The King and Pawn endgame has been reached.

37. Ke5 Kd7?

Too passive. The aggressive 37...Kb5 wins easily. After 38 Kxe5 Kc4 39 Ke5, a zugzwang position has arisen in which all Black needs to do is force White to move his King first. This can be easily done with 39...g6, creating an identical Pawn position on the g and h files, so that all Black has to do after that is mirror White's moves and he wins.

This game was played at a bullet time control (2,1), which does not lend itself to accurate endgame play. I hate bullet, but I used to play it some since it was often the only way to get a game on ICC. The same drawback exists with the 5,0 blitz time control, in that by the time the ending comes around there is likely not enough time to give it the thought it needs. I realized early on in my internet play that my favorite blitz time control is 2,10, which is 2 minutes initially, and 10 seconds for each additional move. This gives the player at least some time to think through crucial endgame positions like the one here.

38. h4 Ke7 39. g4 Kf7 40. Kd6 Kf6 41. g5+ Kf7?? (41...Kf5-+) 42. Ke5 Ke7 43. h5 g6 44. h6 Kf7 45. Kd6 e5 46. Kxe5 Ke7 47. Kxd5 Kd7 48. Ke5 Ke7 49. d5 Kd7 50. Kf6 Kd6 51. Kg7 Kxd5 52. Kxh7 Ke6 53. Kxg6 Ke7 54. Kg7 Ke6 55. h7 Kf5 56. h8=Q Kxg5 57. Qf8 Kg4 58. Qf6 Kg3 59. Qf5 Kg2 60. Kg6 Kg3 61. Kg5 Kg2 62. Qf4 Kg1 63. Qd2 Kf1
64. Kf4 Kg1 65. Kg3 Kf1 66. Qf2# {Black checkmated} 1-0
This next one was played on 5/1/98 vs. kq. Either 38 cxb5 or 40 Kg4 would have won easily. Incredibly, I find a way to lose as White.
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. Nc3 Nd7 5. f3 e5 6. d5 Ne7 7. Be3 b6 8. Qd2 Nc5 9. h4 Ba6 10. h5 Qd7 11. hxg6 hxg6 12. Rxh8+ Bxh8 13. O-O-O O-O-O 14. Nh3 Bg7 15. Ng5 Ng8 16. g3 Na4 17. Bh3 f5 18. exf5 gxf5 19. Nxa4 Qxa4 20. b3 Qa5 21. Ne6 Qxd2+ 22. Rxd2 Rd7 23. Nxg7 Rxg7 24. Bxf5+ Kd8 25. g4 Bc8 26. Rh2 Bxf5 27. gxf5 Ke8 28. Rh8 Kf7 29. Kc2 Rg2+ 30. Kd3 Nf6 31. Bh6 Rg8 32. Rxg8 Nxg8 33. Bg5 Nf6 34. Bxf6 Kxf6 35. Ke4 a6 36. f4 exf4 37. Kxf4 b5 38. a4 bxa4 39. bxa4 a5 40. Ke4 Kg5 41. f6 Kxf6 42. Kf4 Kg6 43. Kg4 Kf6 44. Kh5 Ke5 45. Kg5 Kd4 46. Kf5 Kxc4 47. Ke6 Kc5 48. Kd7 Kxd5 49. Kxc7 Kc5 50. Kb7 d5 {White resigns} 0-1

Vs. Cyberknight on 8/9/00, I throw away an easy draw with 42...c4??

1. d4 f5 2. e3 e6 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. Bd2 Be7 5. f4 O-O 6. Nf3 d6 7. O-O c6 8. Be1 Qe8 9. Nbd2 Qh5 10. c3 Nbd7 11. Ng5 Qxd1 12. Rxd1 Nb6 13. c4 h6 14. Ngf3 Ng4 15. Bf2 Bd7 16. h3 Nf6 17. b3 Rad8 18. e4 fxe4 19. Nxe4 Nxe4 20. Bxe4 Bf6 21. Nh2 e5 22. fxe5 dxe5 23. dxe5 Bxe5 24. Bd4 Rxf1+ 25. Nxf1 Bxd4+ 26. Rxd4 Kf7 27. Bf5 Ke7 28. Bxd7 Rxd7 29. Rxd7+ Kxd7 30. Ne3 Ke6 31. Kf2 Nd7 32. Kf3 Ne5+ 33. Ke4 Nd7 34. Kd4 c5+ 35. Ke4 b6 36. Nf5 Nf6+ 37. Kf4 Ne8 38. g4 Kf6 39. Ne3 Nc7 40. Nd5+ Nxd5+ 41. cxd5 b5 42. Ke4 c4??

Not only does this careless move throw away an easy draw, but Black may well win if White isn't careful. For example, the game could continue 42...g5 43 a3 a6 44 b4 c4 45 Kd4 Ke7 46 Kc3 Kd7 47 Kd4 Kd6 48 Ke4 c3 49 Kd3 Kxd5 50 Kxc3 Ke4 51 Kd2 Kf3 52 Kd3 Kg3 53 Ke4 Kxh3 54 Kf5 Kg3-+. To avoid giving Black the passed Pawn in this line, White must give up his own passed Pawn with 44 d6, after which the game is a dull draw.

43. bxc4 bxc4 44. Kd4 c3 45. Kxc3 Ke5 46. Kc4 Kd6 47. Kd4 g5 48. a3 a6 49. Kc4 Kd7 50. Kc5 Kc7 51. d6+ {Black resigns} 1-0

In the next, vs. sceptic on 3/1/03, Black wins the zugzwang battle but loses the war.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. g3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nge7 6. Bg2 Ng6 7. O-O Be6 8. b3 Qd7 9. Bb2 O-O-O 10. Nbd2 Ngxe5 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Nf3 Nxf3+ 13. Bxf3 h5 14. Qd2 Bg4 15. Bg2 c5 16. Qa5 Kb8 17. Ba3 b6 18. Qa6 Bh3 19. Rab1 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Qb7+ 21. Qxb7+ Kxb7 22. b4 Kc6 23. bxc5 Bxc5 24. Bxc5 bxc5 25. Rb5 Rb8 26. Rfb1 Rb6 27. a4 Rhb8 28. Kf3 a6 29. Rxb6+ Rxb6 30. Rxb6+ Kxb6 31. Ke4 Ka5 32. Kd5 Kb4 33. a5 g6 34. f4 f6 35. h3 g5 36. h4 gxh4 37. gxh4 f5 38. Ke5 Kxc4 39. Kxf5 d3 40. exd3+ Kxd3 41. Kg6 c4 42. f5 c3 43. f6 c2 44. f7 c1=Q 45. f8=Q Qg1+ 46. Kxh5 Qd1+ 47. Kg5 Qg1+ 48. Kh6 Qe3+ 49. Kh5 Qe2+ 50. Kh6 Qe3+ 51. Kg7 Qd4+ 52. Qf6 Qd7+ 53. Qf7 Qg4+ 54. Qg6+ Qxg6+ 55. Kxg6
{Black resigns} 1-0

This next position really takes the cake. The position looks ridiculously simple--all the remaining Pawns are on the g-file. I innocently play 62...Kh5, and after that can only draw, even though I have an extra Pawn. Black is JT, played on 3/15/97.

1. e4 c5 2. c3 e6 3. d4 d5 4. Nd2 cxd4 5. cxd4 Bb4 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. Bxd7+ Qxd7 8. e5 Ne7 9. Nf3 Nbc6 10. O-O O-O 11. a3 Ba5 12. b4 Bb6 13. Nb3 Nf5 14. Qd3 f6 15. exf6 Rxf6 16. Bg5 Rg6 17. b5 Ncxd4 18. Ne5 Qxb5 19. Qxb5 Nxb5 20. Nxg6 hxg6 21. Rfe1 Kf7 22. a4 Nc3 23. a5 Bxf2+ 24. Kxf2 Ne4+ 25. Kf1 Nxg5 26. Nc5 Rc8 27. Nxb7 Rc7 28. a6 Rc2 29. Rac1 Ra2 30. Rc7+ Kf6 31. Nc5 Nh4 32. g3 Nhf3 33. Re2 Nxh2+ 34. Ke1 Ngf3+ 35. Kd1 Ra1+ 36. Kc2 Nd4+ 37. Kd3 Nxe2 38. Kxe2 Ra2+ 39. Kd3 e5 40. Rxa7 e4+ 41. Kc3 e3 42. Ra8 Kf7 43. a7 e2 44. Nd3 Ra3+ 45. Kd2 Rxd3+ 46. Kxd3 e1=Q 47. Rf8+ Kxf8 48. a8=Q+ Kf7 49. Qb7+ Qe7 50. Qxd5+ Qe6 51. Qb7+ Kf6 52. Qb2+ Qe5 53. Qxh2 Qd5+ 54. Kc3 Qc5+ 55. Kd2 Qd4+ 56. Ke1 Qa1+ 57. Kf2 Qb2+ 58. Kg1 Qc1+ 59. Kg2 Qd2+ 60. Kh3 Qxh2+ 61. Kxh2 Kg5 62. Kh3 Kh5? 63. g4+ Kg5 64. Kg3 Kf6 65. Kf4 g5+ 66. Ke4 Ke6 67. Kd4 Kd6 68. Ke4 Ke6 69. Kd4 g6 70. Ke4 Kd6 71. Kd4 Ke6 72. Ke4 Kd6 73. Kd4 {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2

In the next, vs. Colstrip on 2/19/97, I can win with 33...Kd4.

. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 a6 4. Nf3 d6 5. d3 g6 6. Be2 Bg7 7. Bd2 Bg4 8. O-O Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Nd4 10. f5 Nxf3+ 11. Qxf3 Nf6 12. Nd5 O-O 13. Bg5 Nxd5 14. exd5 Qd7 15. f6 exf6 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. Qxf6 Rae8 18. Rae1 Rxe1 19. Rxe1 Re8 20. Qf2 Rxe1+ 21. Qxe1 Kf8 22. Qe4 Qe7 23. c4 f5 24. Qxe7+ Kxe7 25. Kf2 Kf6 26. Kf3 Ke5 27. Ke3 g5 28. g3 h5 29. h3 b6 30. a4 a5 31. b3 f4+ 32. gxf4+ gxf4+ 33. Kf3 Kf5? 34. Kf2 Ke5 35. Kf3 Kf5 36. Kf2 Kg5 37. Kf3 Kh4 38. Kg2 f3+ 39. Kf2 Kxh3 40. Kxf3 h4 41. Kf2 Kg4 42. Kg2 Kf4 43. Kh3 Ke3 44. Kxh4 Kxd3 45. Kg4 Kc3 46. Kf5 Kxb3 47. Ke6 Kxa4 48. Kxd6 Kb4 49. Kc6 a4 50. d6 a3 51. d7 a2 52. d8=Q a1=Q 53. Qxb6+ Kxc4 54. Qxc5+ Kd3 55. Qf5+ Ke2 56. Qh5+ Kf2 57. Qh2+ Kf3 58. Qh3+ Kf2 59. Qh2+ {Game drawn by mutual agreement} 1/2-1/2

In the next, as White vs. MCapelo on 11/25/97, I throw away the win on the 33rd move, and then the draw on the 41st move.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Ne2 dxe4 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Nxc3 Nf6 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Nxe4 Qg6 10. Qd3 Bd7 11. O-O-O Bc6 12. f3 Nd7 13. h4 O-O-O 14. h5 Qh7 15. g4 Nf6 16. Nxf6 Qxd3 17. Rxd3 gxf6 18. Be2 e5 19. Rhd1 Rxd4 20. Rxd4 exd4 21. Rxd4 Rd8 22. Rxd8+ Kxd8 23. Kd2 Ke7 24. Ke3 Kd6 25. Bc4 Bd5 26. Bxd5 Kxd5 27. Kf4 Ke6 28. Ke4 c6 29. c3 b6 30. b3 a6 31. f4 b5 32. Kd4 Kd6 33. c4 c5+ 34. Ke4 bxc4 35. bxc4 Ke6 36. a4 a5 37. Kd3 Kd6 38. Ke3 Kd7 39. Kd3 Ke7 40. Ke4 Ke6 41. g5 fxg5 42. fxg5 hxg5 43. h6 f5+ {White forfeits on time} 0-1

I am especially proud of the next game because it was a one-minute game, a time control I am notoriously poor at. I recognize the zugzwang position, run him out of moves till he has to move his King, and then Queen a Pawn and mate him with 5.1 second left on my clock!

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Bc4 d6 6. Nf3 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. Bf4 a6 9. Qe2 e5 10. Bg3 Bd7 11. Rfd1 Nf6 12. Rac1 Qc7 13. a3 b5 14. Ba2 Na5 15. Bh4 Rc8 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. Nd5 Qb8 18. Nxf6+ gxf6 19. Rxc8+ Qxc8 20. Rxd6 Ke7 21. Qd2 Rd8 22. Nh4 Be6 23. Rxd8 Qxd8 24. Qxd8+ Kxd8 25. Bxe6 fxe6 26. f4 Nc4 27. fxe5 Nxe5 28. b3 Ke7 29. Nf3 Nxf3+ 30. gxf3 Kd6 31. Kf2 Ke5 32. Ke3 f5 33. f4+ Kf6 34. e5+ Ke7 35. Kd4 Kd7 36. Kc5 Kc7 37. b4 h6 38. h3 h5 39. h4 Kb7 (Black was in zugzwang) 40. Kd6 Kb6 41. Kxe6 a5 42. Kf7 axb4 43. axb4 Kc6 44. e6 Kd5 45. e7 Kc4 46. e8=Q Kxb4 47. Qc6 Ka4 48. Ke6 Ka5 49. Kd5 b4 50. Kc5 b3 51. Qb7 Ka4 52. Qb4# {Black checkmated} 1-0

The next one, played as White against afr64 on 11/15/97, is not a very interesting game, but take a look at the position after 47 Kg5. White has his King on g5 and a Pawn on h4, while Black has his King on c5 and a Pawn on h5. Black's Pawn is about to fall, leaving him with King vs. King and Rook Pawn. But, in the words of the "Cool Hand Luke" warden, he doesn't have "his mind right". He should be thinking, "just get my King to f8 and I have the draw". Toward that end, 47...Kd6 is called for, reaching f8 in 2 more moves. Instead, he blunders horribly with 47...Kd5??, and now cannot recover.

1. e4 c5 2. d4 Nc6 3. dxc5 e6 4. Be3 Qa5+ 5. Nc3 Bxc5 6. Bxc5 Qxc5 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O d5 10. exd5 exd5 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. Qxd5 Qxf2 13. Bc4 Nb4 14. Qd2 Qxd2+ 15. Rxd2 Nc6 16. Rhd1 Bf5 17. Nd4 Nxd4 18. Rxd4 Rac8 19. Bd3 Bxd3 20. Rd1xd3 Rfe8 21. c3 Kf8 22. Kc2 f6 23. Rd7 Re7 24. h3 Rce8 25. Rd2 Rxd7 26. Rxd7 Re2+ 27. Kb3 Re7 28. Rxe7 Kxe7 29. Kc4 Kd6 30. Kd4 f5 31. c4 g5 32. b3 a5 33. g3 b6 34. h4 g4 35. Kd3 Ke5 36. Ke3 h5 37. a3 f4+ 38. gxf4+ Kf5 39. b4 axb4 40. axb4 g3 41. Kf3 g2 42. Kxg2 Kxf4 43. c5 bxc5 44. bxc5 Ke5 45. Kf3 Kd5 46. Kf4 Kxc5 47. Kg5 Kd5?? 48. Kxh5 Ke5 49. Kg6 Ke6 50. h5 Ke7 51. Kg7 Ke8 52. h6 Ke7 53. h7 Ke8 54. h8=Q+ Ke7 55. Qh6 Ke8 56. Kf6 Kd7 57. Ke5 Kc7 58. Qd6+ Kb7 59. Kd5 Ka7 60. Kc5 Kb7 61. Qb6+ Ka8 62. Qa6+ Kb8 63. Qh6 Kc7 64. Qh7+ Kb8 65. Kc6 Ka8 66. Qb7# {Black checkmated} 1-0

My Potato Soup

Having looked unsuccessfully for a long time for a potato soup recipe that appealed to me, I decided Saturday evening to make up my own soup.

I put together the following ingredients: water, potatoes, carrots, celery, asparagus, spinach, green onions, shrimp, butter, and cheese.

Results: It was pretty good. I used new potatoes and the skins were falling off the potatoes after cooking, so I think next time I will use regular potatoes peeled and thinly sliced. The shrimp was rubbery and hard and I will leave those out next time. Celery and cheese will also be left out.

What was really good was the spinach. This is the first time in my life I have bought fresh spinach (and also first time for green onions and fresh asparagus), and it was great! Next time I wil make it primarily a potato and spinach soup. I'm not sure about the asparagus; I had bought it 2 weeks before so it was somewhat old by the time I used it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Final Jeopardy Wagering Strategy--Part 1

I glanced at a couple of web sites on this topic, but the analysis seemed so lame that I decided to tackle it without studying what anybody else has said about it.

This is an important topic in the field of game theory, which deals with situations in which one must make decisions based on what one guesses others are going to do. The Prisoner's Dilemma is of course the major problem in the field of game theory, and has been the subject of much wonderful analysis over the years.

In order to arrive at a situation simple enough that we can get a handle on it, I will make the following assumptions for the purpose of this initial discussion.

1. Let's say the lowest player has a negative score, so that there are only two players playing Final Jeopardy.

2. Let's further assume that the outcome is purely random; i.e., each player will write down "heads" or "tails", and when the music stops Alex will flip a coin to determine the right answer.

3. Let's also assume that the goal is to win the game; i.c., the opportunity to come back the next day and play again trumps the opportunity to win a few more thousand dollars in a losing cause.

With these assumptions stated, let us give Player A $10,000, and look at different levels for Player B and discuss correct wagering strategies for each.

The lowest non-trivial amount for B would be $5,000. Since a tie is the same as a win, i.e., if you tie both players get to come back the next day, it is correct here for A to wager zero. If he wages a dollar, and B wagers everything, A's winning chances drop to 75% given the 4 equally possible results which flow from assumption #2. By risking nothing, A is guaranteed a return visit. Similarly, by risking $5,000, B is ensured a 25% chance of coming back, assuming A correctly wagers nothing.

Now give B $6,000. Normal wagering strategy here for A is to risk $2,001, guaranteeing him the win if he gets the answer, even if B risks everything. This is such a common bet here for A that I think it is safe to say B should bet based on this assumption about what A is doing. If B now bets everything, it can be easily seen that he wins only 25% of the time (when he is right and A is wrong). However, B can risk down to 2K and still ensure that same 25% chance of winning. Correct strategy then for B would be to risk between 2K & 6K, depending on how he feels about the category of the question, and it would be a gross blunder for B to risk anything less than $1,999, since this would give him a 0% chance of winning.

Now let's give B $7,000, and here things start to get more interesting. A's normal bet here would be $4,001. Assuming that bet on A's part, which is a pretty safe assumption, what should B's strategy be here? Well, B has a strategy that will jump his winning expectation clear up to 50%! By betting $1,000 or less, he wins whenever A is incorrect.

So is A wrong for making the standard $4,001 wager? Well, if he assumes B is sophisticated enough to go through this analysis and limit his wager to the 1K, then A can adjust his wager down to 2K or less and raise his winning expectation up to 75%! Given how innumerate most people are, it is hard to say if this assumption is valid. I would say, however, that it is pretty easy for B to see that if he risks everything, he can win only 25% of the time against the normal $4,001 wager. Surely most B's who have given it any thought (which if you're going on the show you surely would do) can then do the simple math and realize the proper bet would be the 1K or less.

Now let's give B 8K. The "normal" bet here for A now is $6,0001. This makes B's bet in response 4K or less, giving him a 50% shot. In response, if A anticipates the 4K bet, he can limit his bet to 2K (or less) and up his winning chances to 75%.

Finally, let's give B 9K. All B has to do now to assure himself a 50% chance against A's normal $8,001 bet is to risk 7K or less. Surely an A who gives it any thought must realize B is more likely to risk 7K or less compared to risking everything, and so A should adjust his strategy here to allow for this. A bet of 8K would give him 50% against B's 7K bet, and A would have to lower his bet dollar-for-dollar to keep it at 50% as B lowers his bets.

I invite responses on the following issues:

1) What would a general formula be for A and B's betting strategy?

2) How would the strategies change when the 3rd player is introduced?

3) How would the strategies change if you allow for variances in difficulty of the questions; i.e., assume it is not strictly 50% right and wrong, but assume that if I get the right answer, my opponent is 75% likely to get it, and similarly if I get the wrong answer, my opponent is 75% chance of getting it wrong also. This is more in conformance with real life experience.

4) What would a survey of actual bets of Jeopardy contestants reveal?

5) What would a computer simulation reveal?

The Smith-Morra Gambit Analyzed

1 e4 Usually leads to a more dynamic and tactical game than other first moves.

1...c5 Black opts for the Sicilian, the most dynamic and popular response to 1 e4.

2 d4 White avoids the normal continuation 2 Nf3, after which Black can steer the game into a variation which he knows and White probably does not know so well. Instead, White steers the game into his pet variation, which will likely make Black uncomfortable.

2...cxd4 The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it! There are many popular ways of declining the gambit also.

3 c3 Now it becomes a true gambit.

3...dxc3 Black accepts the challenge. In exchange for his gambited Pawn, White will have play on the d and c files.

4 Nxc3 Sometimes White will offer a 2nd Pawn by not taking immediately, but this is said to be "unnecessary and unsound" on White's part.

4...Nc6 Covers e5 and blocks the c file.

5 Nf3 This and Bc4 are likely interchangeable.

5...d6 Will be needed anyway, so why not play it now?

6 Bc4 While White will have an issue about where to develop his other Bishop, the King's Bishop always goes here.

6...e6 Black often blunders here with 6...Nf6?, and after 7 e5! Nxe5?? 8 Nxe5 dxe5 9 Bxf7ch! Black has lost his Queen, while after 7...dxe5 8 QxQ NxQ 9 Nb5 Rb8 10 Nxe5 e6 White stands better.

7 0-0 Normal and good.

7...a6 This prevents Nb5, and thus is an important part of Black's defensive scheme.

8 Qe2 This and White's last are likely interchangeable.

8...Bd7 This, along with Black's next, initiate a line which Joseph Sipman, in a series of articles in Chess Horizons 17 years ago, says is "clearly the best". An alternative for Black is 8...b5 9 Bb3 Ra7!?, initiating the so-called "Chicago Defense". I was introduced to this setup years ago when Steve Carter played it against me in club games. Based on Steve's success with it, I played it myself as Black in a number of ICC games, but found out that White has resources against it. Shipman gives 10 Rd1 Be7 11 Be3 Rd7 12 Nd4! (the refutation) Nxd4 13 Bxd4 Bf6! 14 e5 dxe5 15 Bxe5 Bxe5 16 Qxe5 Nf6 17 Rxd7 Bxd7 18 Qd6!; or 10 Be3! Rd7 11 Nd4!, with the idea that White has kept his King Rook home, where it supports the push f2-f4-f5 with a good attack.

9 Rd1 White proceeds in standard fashion.

9...Be7 Shipman says this defense "poses a real threat to the soundness of the Smith-Morra gambit". By delaying ...Nf6, Black gives White the problem of where to move his Queen Bishop.

10 Be3! Waiting moves here do not help, because Black also has the useful waiting move ...Rc8. 10 Bf4 is also playable, though Black comes out OK if he knows what he's doing. After 10 Bf4
Shipman gives 10...e5! 11 Be3 Nf6 and now: 1) 12 Bg5 Bg4!; 2) Rac1 Ng4!; 3) h3 Rc8!; or 4) Nd5! NxN 13 BxN 0-0 14 Rac1 Rac8

10...Nf6! Not 10...Rc8 11 Na4 b5 12 Bb6 Rc7 and either 13 Bb3 or 13 Bxb5ch are good for White.

11 Bg5! Shipman says this keeps the initiative.

11...Ng4! Gives back the Pawn, but White must trade Queens in the process. The continuation now given by Shipman is 12 Bxe7 Qxe7 13 Qd2! Nge5! 14 Be2! Nxf3 15 Bxf3 Ne5 16 Be2 Bc6! 17 Qxd6 Qxd6 18 Rxd6 Ke7 19 Rd2 g5! 20 Rad1=.

Friday, March 7, 2008

New Jogging Record

This morning I jogged for 40 minutes, setting a record by a full 10 minutes over my previous high!

While I understand day-to-day fluctuations are not to be taken seriously, I was gratified that my weight after the jog was down by 2 and a half pounds over 2 days ago.

Last summer my brother told me his cholesterol was very high, and suggested I get checked. I have finally done that, and the results are that overall cholesterol is 227.2, triglycerides are 151.3, HDL (good cholesterol) is 40, and LDL (bad cholesterol) is 156.9. Websites I looked at indicate this is borderline high, so diet modification and exercise is indicated as the first line of attack.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Classes of Grammarians

This is probably a hopelessly impossible task, but I will attempt to describe classes of grammarians, or types of attitudes toward grammar usage.

The first category is the SNOOT. This is a person who fervently believes that there is a right way to use language and a wrong way, and that the difference is important. The concept is discussed in great detail in a Harper's magazine article, which can be found at

This a very long and thoughtful article, and it is refreshing in this era of anything goes relativity that someone takes the effort to analyze this issue so thoroughly. Rather than attempting any analysis of it, I will simply refer the interested reader to the article itself.

I have an Internet friend who cheerfully admits he is a SNOOT, and writes that:
"I am not only a prescriptive grammarian but a lover of fine language and of languages generally.  English for me is not only a medium of ommunication but an art form, even in everyday use, so much so that I alienate almost everyone I come in contact with through written media."

Rather than belaboring the SNOOT category, I will move on to the second one. This is the person who acknowledges that language evolves, but will not accept the new usage until the evolution is complete.

Judge Judy probably falls in this category (if not the SNOOT one), as indicated by her recent immediate and sharp rebuke of a litigant who said "Me and my friend", to which she responded "My friend and I".

The third category is the person who wants to help the language evolve. Perhaps my older son falls in this category, based on his advocacy of using "they" as a singular pronoun.

The fourth and last category is the person who doesn't think language use matters at all. This is the sort of person who also doesn't think manners and rules of courtesy matter either, the sort of person who doesn't care that rules of courtesy require that a man wait for a woman to extend her hand in greeting, so that she has the option of ignoring him if she wants to.

Edwin Newman's 1974 book "Strictly Speaking" places him in the first category. Newman writes:

"Automatic recall should be visited on anyone on the public payroll who says viable. Something drastic is needed, for while language--the poor state of language in the U.S.--may not be at the heart of our problems, it isn't divorced from them either. It is at least conceivable that our politics would be improved if our English were, and so would other parts of our national life. If we were more careful about what we say, and how, we might be more critical and less gullible. Those for whom words have lost their value are likely to find that ideas have also lost their value. Maybe some people discipline themselves in one and not in the other, but they must be rare."

On the other hand, in Barbara Wallraff's book "Word Court", which I picked up over the holidays at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Portland, surely the best bookstore in the world, the author endorses a category 2 approach:

"Standard English is not something handed down from on high. It may seem disingenuous for someone who calls herself judge of Word Court to say that, and yet I do not just make up my answers, any more than a real judge rules according to whim. Whenever I can, I rely on precedent and consensus....

Everyone who chooses to use standard English must make an endless series of decisions about the language, and thereby has a say in how it develops. If people habitually use contact as a transitive verb--as in 'I hope you will contact me'--the usage becomes a part of standard English (and, in fact, it has done so). If people insist on calling the establishment where they go to wash their clothes a laundromat, then whether the creators of the Laundromat launderette franchise like it or not, the generic meaning becomes standard English (it, too, has done so). If everyone stops saying forsooth, the word is sure to be marked 'archaic' in dictionaries (this day has not yet come)."