Friday, July 2, 2010

U.S. Junior Championship

Jon Burgess reminds us that Niles North junior Eric Rosen will be playing in the U.S. Junior Closed Championship, which begins July 9th in St. Louis.  It's a tough field, headed by GM Ray Robson and IM Sam Shankland.  Good luck to Eric!

MCA First Saturday event at Touch Move, tomorrow, July 3

Details, as always, on the ICA Tournament Calendar

Tomorrow's event is NOT FIDE-rated, but it is USCF-rated.  No prizes, but only $10 to play all day!  Preregistration is strongly recommended!

A nasty trap in the Dutch

The Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5) is one of the most uncompromising defenses to 1.d4. A lot of people are afraid to play it because White has a lot of sharp ways to try to destroy it, such as the Staunton Gambit (2.e4), 2.Bg5, and 2.Nc3. Illinois master Alan Watson wrote a book in 1995 about various anti-Dutch gambits with g4, including 2.g4, 2.Qd3 d5 3.g4, and 2.h3 followed by 3.g4. If Black knows the theory, or can manage to find the right moves over the board, he or she can successfully counter all of White's sharp lines. If not, Black may be in for a nasty shock, as in the game below.

Take a look at the diagram position. White has sacrificed a pawn to obtain semi-open g and h files - sort of like a kingside Benko Gambit. At first glance, Black's last move, 5...Ng4-f6, might seem like a reasonable move, holding onto the extra pawn. At second blush, you realize that it is a terrible blunder, which is simply annihilated by White's sixth move, which mates or wins a rook.

Korchnoi introduced 2.h3!? and 3.g4 to modern master play in 1979, winning a crushing victory against the Swiss master Kaenel. The point is to avoid allowing Black to return the gambit pawn with a timely ...g3, e.g. 1.d4 f5 2.Qd3 d5 3.g4 hxg4 4.h3 g3 ("!" - Watson) 5.fxg3 Nf6 6.Bf4 c5 7.c3 Qb6 and Black stood well in Quigley-DeFotis, Midwest Masters 1985. It wasn't long before analysts found the strongest defense to Korchnoi's 2.h3. Well, actually rediscovered it - well over a century earlier Howard Staunton (yes, he of Staunton Gambit and Morphy-avoiding fame) had recommended declining White's gambit with 2...Nf6 3.g4 d5! 4.g5 Ne4, leading to an even game (The Chess Player's Handbook (1857!), pp. 381-82). One hundred and thirty-two years later, GM Larry Christiansen and IM Jeremy Silman recommended the same line (Dutch Defense (1989), p. 144), referring to 3...d5! as "Christiansen's move." Nothing new under the sun and all that.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Enter the Dragon

 After 10...Rc8: a mainline of the Yugoslav Attack against the Sicilian Dragon

Jeff Caveney annotates Arjun Nandy's win against Rohan Mhaskar (Yugoslav Attack, Sicilian Dragon) from February's Greater Chicago Scholastic Championships.

And Jeff shares a nice story about another game....

North American Chess Center

Coming soon to Chicagoland!

A cheap trap

In the Italian Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4), the move 3...Nd4?! wastes time. White should get the advantage by playing 4.Nxd4 or 4.0-0. However, as the game below shows, the move also sets a diabolical trap that may lead to a quick win for Black. It is worth trying in speed chess, albeit not in regular tournament chess unless one is the gambling type. It is tempting for White to try to punish the "silly" 3...Nxd4 by taking the pawn that Black has left unguarded. However, the attractive-looking 4.Nxe5!? actually loses material to 4...Qg5!, forking White's knight and g-pawn. Then 5.Ng4, trying to hold on to the extra pawn, would run into 5...d5! with another double attack, this time on White's bishop and knight. The natural 5.Nxf7 is even worse, as Kostic demonstrates.

White's best after 4...Qg5 is 5.Bxf7+! Ke7 6.0-0!, sacrificing a piece, counting on his two pawns, rolling pawn center and Black's exposed king to provide compensation. Graham Burgess notes G. Chandler-NN, Stockbridge 1983, which concluded 6...Qxe5 7.Bxg8 (7.Bc4!?) Rxg8 8.c3 Nc6 (8...Ne6 9.d4! Qxe4 10.d5 Nf4?? 11.Re1 wins) 9.d4! Qa5? (9...Qf6 10.e5 Qf7 may be best) 10.d5 Ne5? 11.Qh5! Nf7? (11...d6 12.Bg5+ Kd7 13.Qxh7 also wins for White) 12.d6+! 1-0 (in light of 13.Qxa5).

Steinitz mentioned 3...Nd4?! in his Modern Chess Instructor (Part II, 1895, p. 63). The name "Blackburne Shilling Gambit" is sometimes given to the line, on the basis that the great English player Joseph Henry Blackburne, a/k/a "The Black Death" (1841-1924), supposedly used it to win shillings from amateurs. No games have been found to support this claim, but it makes a nice story.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Weird Mate

Here is an amusing blitz game I played many years ago. It ends with a very unusual checkmate effected by a bishop and pawn. I later learned from Jimmy Adams' book Richter Veresov System that the entire game was analysis by Yudovich, although I had no idea of that at the time. After my 4...exf6!? (4...gxf6 is more solid), 5.e3 is probably best, intending to give Black an isolated queen pawn with a later dxc5. After 5.dxc5?, my pieces became dangerously active.

At move 7, White should have played 7.Nd6+, when Sanchez-Larrea, Mexico 1953 continued 7...Bxd6 8.cxd6 Qxd6 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.c3 0-0-0 11.cxd4 (better is 11.Nxd4) Qb4+ 12.Qd2 Nxd4!! 13.Rc1+? (13.Qxb4? Nc2#; 13.Nxd4! Qxd2+ 14.Kxd2 Rxd4+ 15.Kc3 Rhd8 with large advantage to Black - Adams) Nc2+!! 14.Rxc2 Bxc2 15.Qxb4 Rc1#.

Czerniak-Pirc, Mar del Plata 1950 diverged from that game with 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.a3 O-O 11.Nf3 Rac8 12.c3? Rfd8 13.Rd1 dxc3!, when White got in terrible trouble but managed to scrounge a draw after 14.Qxd6 Rxd6 15.Rxd6 cxb2 16.Nd2 Nd4 17.f3 Nb3 18.e4 Rc1+ 19.Kf2 g6 20.Nxb3 b1(Q) 21.Nxc1 Qxc1 22.Rd3 Be6 23.Rg1 f5 24.exf5 Qb2+ 25.Be2 Bc4 26.Re3 gxf5 27.Re1 Kg7 28.f4 b5 29.Kg3 Be6 30.Bf3 a5 31.Rd1 a4 32.Bd5 Qc2 33.Rdd3 Kf6 34.h3 h5 35.h4 Qc1 36.Rc3 Qg1 37.Bf3 Kg6 38.Rcd3 Bc4 39.Rd6+ Kg7 40.Re5 Qc1 41.Rxf5 Qxa3 42.Rb6 Qc3 43.Rg5+ Kf8 44.Rb8+ Ke7 45.Re5+ Kf6 46.Rb6+ Be6 47.Rbxb5 a3 48.Ra5 Kg7 49.Rg5+ Kf8 50.Ra8+ Ke7 51.Re5 Kf6 52.Raa5 Bc4 53.Rec5 Qe1+ 54.Kh3 a2 55.Rf5+ Kg7 56.Rg5+ Kf8 57.Rgc5 Ke7 58.f5 Qc1 59.Ra4 Qh1+ 60.Kg3 Bb3 61.Ra7+ Kd6 62.Rca5 Qe1+ 63.Kh3 Qh1+ 64.Kg3 1/2-1/2. You can play over Czerniak-Pirc here.