What is the Borg? For Star Trek aficionados, they are an evil group of aliens who kidnap indigenous and sentient life forms and enslave them by use of electronic and computer implants.
But for the chess player, it is a dangerous, reply by Black against 1.e4. And when we say dangerous, we mean dangerous for Black, not White.
What makes this opening so bad for Black?
First of all, White can open the game with 1.g4 and Black can’t stop that move. But Black can really only play this move after 1.e4 (Both 1.d4 g5? 2.Bxg5 and 1.Nf3 g5? 2.Nxg5 quickly loses the game for Black).
Secondly, no one have ever claimed that 1.g4 is a good move. And it’s even worse when it is played a move behind for the following reason:
Thirdly, the move 1.g4 severely weakens White and since Black is a move behind, his reply 1…g5 weakens him even more.
But how did Black’s opening 1.e4 g5 get the name, Borg? Well, the move 1.g4 is known as Grob’s Opening. And Borg is Grob spelled backwards.
But this name only took hold after Star Trek, The New Generation introduced the Borg in an episode titled, “Q Who?”, which aired on May 8, 1989.
18.Nxf7+ Kc8 19.Nd6+!! (Much better than taking the rook and losing the initiative. Keep the enemy king on the run!) 19… Kd8 20.Qg5+ Nf6 21.Qxf6+ Kd7 22.Qf7+ Kd8 23.Nc4 Qxb2+ 24.Kxb2 b5 25.Bd6 a3+ 26.Kb1 bxc4 27.Qc7+ Ke8 28.Qe7mate 1-0
Alan R. LeCours-Richard Pugh New York Ch. Kerhonkson, Aug. 31 2003 1.e4 g5 2.d4 e5?! 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g4 5.Be3 Nf6 6.Qd2 Nbd7 7.O-O-O Rg8 8.Bd3 a6 9.Nge2 Nc5 10.Ng3 Bd7 11.Kb1 b5 12.Nce2 a5 13.c3 b4 14.c4 a4 15.Nc1 c6 16.f3 Qa5 17.Rhe1 Nb3 18.axb3 a3 19.bxa3 (19…Qxa3 20.Qa2, and White keep his extra piece.) 1-0
Escalante-“Chsstrrrst” (1637) Blitz Game chess.com, Jan. 16 2021 1.e4 g5 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Bxg5 Qb6 5.Qc1= [The chess.com computer says this is an error and suggests the sharper 5.c4, and then the question becomes, can Black reasonably take the b2-pawn with his Queen?
5…Qxb2 6.Nd2, White’s best move, and now:
6…Qxd4?! 7.Ngf3 +/- Qg4 8.cxd5!, and the position between +/- and +- for White.
6…cxd4 7.Bxc4, and White has the advantage.
6…Nc6 7.Rb1 Qxa2 8.Ngf3, and there should be an infinity sign here (which means an unclear position, but I can’t upload that symbol here).]
6.cxd4 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Bg4 8.Nbd2 O-O-O 9.O-O f6 10.exf6 exf6 11.Bf4 h5 12.h3 Bd7 13.Nh4 Nh6? (Better is 13…Ne5 as the move not only stops Ng6, but White can’t open the c-file with c4.) 14.Ng6 +/- Bg7 15.Nxh8 Rxh8 16.Nf3 Nf5 17.Re1 Nb4 18.Qd2 Nxd3 19.cxd3! (Finally, opening the c-file and Black is ill equipped to defend his isolated king on that file.) 19…h4
If Black chooses to ignore the Bxg5 threat, he might also want to counter-attack. And he occasionally succeeds.
IM Craig W. Pritchett-IM Michael J. Basman Great Britain Ch. Southampton, England, 1986 1.e4 g5 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5!? (This is an interesting, and possibly even a good, move.) 4.d5 h6 5.h4?! (This is possibly where White starts to go wrong. The position is closed and he should not open it up so soon.) 5…gxh4 6.Nf3 d6 7.Nxh4 Nd7 8.Nf5 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Ne5 10.Bb5+ Kf8 11.Be2 Qa5 12.Kf1 Bxf5 13.exf5 Nf6 14.Rxh6 Kg7 15.Rxh8 Rxh8 16.Kg1 Qxc3 17.Rb1 Ne4 18.Bh5 Qd4 19.Be3 Qxd1+ 20.Bxd1 Nc3 21.Ra1 Nxd5 22.Bc1 b5 23.Bb2 f6 24.Rb1 b4 25.Be2 Nf4 26.Bf1 Rh5 27.Bxe5 fxe5 28.g4 Rg5 29.f3 Kf6 30.a3 a5 31.axb4 axb4 32.Bc4 d5 33.Bf1 Rg8 34.Ra1 Rb8 35.Ra6+ Kg5 36.Ra7 c4 37.Rxe7 b3 38.cxb3 cxb3 0-1
But if White remains flexible, he can often take the pawn and still have enough pieces and space to engineer an attack. There is also the issue of Black trying to win the b2-pawn with his queen.
Vladimir Petrienko-Jan Svatos Trimex Open Pardubice, Czech Republic, 1992 1.e4 g5 2.d4 Bg7 3.Bxg5 c5 4.Be3 Qb6 5.Nc3 (Again, we have the question about Black taking the b-pawn with his queen. The biggest counter-threat from White is of course, Nd5. So, again, is it worth for Black to take the b-pawn? According to result of this game, the answer is No.)
This week is Robert Rowley’s birthday! He was born Jan. 12 1950, earned his FM title and won the Arizona State Chess Championship a total of eleven times.
Many of his game are based on sound play and tactics making them enjoyable, and understandable, for beginning and intermediate players.
Let’s look a couple of his games.
Robert Rowley-IM Jeremy Silman World Open Philadelphia, 1990 [Escalante] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 b5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.O-O Be7
[Also interesting is 5…c5!? GM Ulf Andersson-Ivar Bern, corres., Norwegian 50-Year Postal Jubilee, 1995/6, continued with 6.Bg5 Na6 7.Na3 Nc7 8.c4 b4 9.Nc2 a5 10.e4!! Bxe4 11.Re1 Bxc2 12.Qxc2 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Ra6 (Here Ulf was ready to introduce another nasty tactical trick. 13…Rb8 14.Nc6 dxc6 15.Bxc6+ Ke7 16.Rad1 Qc8 17.Qd2 and the threat of 18.Qd6mate and 18.Qe3! are decisive.) 14.Rad1 h6 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.Qa4 Bc5 17.Nxe6! (White’s enormous pressure had to be released somehow.) 17…Bxf2+ 18.Kh1 Rxe6 (Or 18…Nxe6 19.Qxd7+ Kf8 20.Qc8+ with a mate in two.) 19.Qxd7+ Kf8 20.Rxe6 Qxe6 21.Qxc7 g6 22.Rf1 (Ivar Bern decided to save his stamps due to 22…Bb6 23.Qb7 f5 24.Rd1 and the treat 25.c5 puts a period to Andersson’s little masterpiece.) 1-0 – notes to this game by Inside Chess.]
6.Qd3 a6 7.c4 bxc4 8.Qxc4 O-O 9.Nc3 Qc8!? (This move does have other purposes other than protecting the b7-bishop. It takes the queen out of the possible pin after Bg5 and supports queenside play. Finally, Black is not committed to …d6, even though that is the right move for the d-pawn. He can still …d5 if the position warrants it.)10.Bg5 d6(Well, there goes the ..d5 plans.) 11.Rac1 Nbd7 12.Na4 Bd8 13.Nd2 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 Rb8 15.Qc6 Rb4 16.Rc4 Rxc4 17.Nxc4 Be7 18.Rc1 Nb8 19.Ncb6 Nxc6 20.Nxc8 Rxc8 21.Rxc6 h6 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 23.e3 a5 24.b3 Bd8 25.Kf3 Ra8 26.Nc3 Kf8 27.e4 Ke7 28.Ke3 Kd7 29.d5 f5 30.f3 fxe4 31.fxe4 Bg5+ 32.Kd3 Rf8 33.Nb5 Bd8 34.Nd4 exd5 35.exd5 Rf1 36.Rc2 Rd1+ 37.Kc4 Bf6 38.Nc6 Re1 39.a4 h5 40.b4 (40.Nxa5 works just as good, and perhaps a little better than the text, in creating an a-pawn passer.) 40…axb4 41.Nxb4 Ra1 42.Kb5 Bd4 43.a5 Bc5 44.Nc6 Rd1 45.Kc4 Re1 46.a6 Re8 47.Ra2 Kc8 48.Kb5 Bb6 49.Ra4 g5 50.h4 g4 51.Rf4 Rh8 52.Rf5 Bc5 53.Kc4 Bg1 54.Kd3 Bh2
55.Rf1 1-0 (As Rb1 and Rb8 cannot be stopped.)
Rowley-Hurdle Phoenix FIDE Futurity Arizona, 1980 [Hurdle, “Games from the Phoenix FIDE Futurity”, Chess Life, Aug. 1981] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f4 Nbd7 7.e5 dxe5 8.fxe5 Nxe5 9.Bf4! (A move that appears to refute this variation – Escalante.)
9…Nfd7 (Moving the knight on e5 is embarrassing after Nbd5.) 10.Bb5 Bg7 11.Qe2 O-O 12.O-O-O a6 13.Bxd7 (Any retreat by this Bishop allows Black to begin his attack with …b5. Very interesting is 13.Bxe5 Nxe5 14.Ne6 Bxe6 15.Rxd8 Rfxd8 where Black has Rook, Bishop, and pawn plus pressure for the Queen. The position would be fairly equal but Black can improve with 13.Bxe5 Bxe5 14.Bxd7 Bf4+, keep the pawn.) 13…Nxd7 14.Bg5 Qb6! 15.Qxe7! Bxd4 16.Rxd4 Qxd4 17.Bh6 Qf6 (Now White is down an entire Rook but he has all the play. This is the critical position of the game, and perhaps 17…b5 wins. If 18.Rd1 Qf6 19.Bxf8 Qf4+ 20.Kb1 Nxf8 21.Rd8 Bb7 22.Qxf8#. So perhaps 21…Qh6 22.Nd5 Bb7 23.Nf6+ Kh8 24.Qxf7 Qg7 and Black holds. Rowley suggested 21.Nd5! Qh6 22.Nf6+ Kh8 23.Qe4!, and then 23…Rb8 24.Qe5 Ra8 25.Qd4, in either case setting up a winning discovery. Of course, Black could abandon the Rook and counter attack the Knight. For example, 23…Ra7 24.Qd4 Qg7 25.Qxa7 Qxf6 and it’s still a hard fight. Back to the game.) 18.Bxf8 Qf4+ 19.Kb1 Nxf8 20.Nd5 Qf5 (Defending the Bishop. If Black tries 20…Qh6?, then 21.Nb6 Rb8 22.Qc7 leads to disaster on the Queenside.) 21.Nf6+ Kg7 22.Ne8+ Kg8 1/2-1/2
The game which has been described as a game of skill, where players rely on memory, tactics, long winded strategies, good moves, and healthy diet (it helps – believe me), leaving nothing to chance or clairvoyance, does allow, and sometimes even encourage, supernatural intervention. (I have seen players pray before a game.)
Before we start, let me introduce you to Caïssa, the goddess of chess, who showers her favors on prodigies and like Nike (the goddess of victory), occasionally smiles on lower rated.
No one has ever seen Caïssa, but she is around, esp. when chess is being played. Here is one interpretation, but she can also be found on the chessboard itself.
Now it is possible for both players to error in a game. And yet one player still emerges with a win. The goddess always wants to reward the player who willing to take a chance.
“createsure”-Escalante Thematic Tournament – Practice The French (U1900) – Round 2 chess.com, 2020/1 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.exd5 exd5 (A cross between the Tarrasch and the Exchange variations of the French. It gives White a small advantage and is usually played when one is content with a draw.) 5.Bd3 Bd6 6.Ne2 O-O 7.O-O Re8 8.c4 c6 9.Re1 Bxh2+?! (I was hoping for a quick win here with the classical bishop sac on the kingside. However, this move is an error as White has some very beneficial knights to keep his king safe.) 10.Kxh2 Ng4+ 11.Kg3!
[And Black is facing the prospect of a quick loss after a bad sacrifice and a pair of equally bad hallucinations. Obviously moving back to g1 leads to an early mate. But this is the illusion. White wins after 11.Kg1 Qh4 12.Nf3 Qxf2+ 13.Kg1, with the idea of Rf1. I had considered 11.Kg3 and knew it was usually a bad king move as it leads directly to a fun king hunt for the attacking player. I didn’t consider the move was worth studying. But I should have! 11…Qd6+ leads to either 12.f4 Re3+ 13.Kh4 Qh6#, or the better 12.Nf4! Rxe1 (else 13.Rxe8+) 13.Qxe1g5 14.Qe8+ Kg7 and it is White who wins after 15.Nb3.] 11…Qg5 (Now the values of 12.f4 and 12.Nf4 switch places. 12.Nf4 is not good because 12…Ne3+ 13.Kf3 Bg4+ 14.Kg3 Bxd1+ 15.Kh2 Qxf4+ 16.g3 Qxf2+. But 12.f4 Re3+ 13.Nf3 wins!) 12.Qb3?? (White, after facing the threats, both real and illusionary, unbelievably blunders, and allows Black to finish the game with ease.) 12…Ne3+ -+ 13.Kf3 Qg4mate 0-1
Gods and goddesses have always encouraged not just good behavior, but also good health.
In the following game, my inebriated opponent came to the board red-eyed and reeking of alcohol. It didn’t help him, but it helped in keeping me awake as I find alcohol disagreeable in smell, in taste and by ingestion. Did I mention this was a night game?
Gomez Baillo-Escalante US Open Los Angeles, CA 1991 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.cxd4 Be6 13.Nc3 c6 14.Qh5?! (Does White actually believe his premature queen sortie is going to lead to a quick mate? Maybe the alcohol is taking it’s toll as my opponent is playing about 200 pints below his rating. I have a reasonable excuse for my weaker moves; I am 200 points below my opponent’s rating. But I’m sober and that is an advantage in chess.) 14…Qd7!? (Black could play 14…Nf6, but I like my knight just where it is!) 15.Nxd5 (It stands to reason that if I like my knight just where it is, then my opponent does not like my knight where it is. Black has a slight disadvantage.) 15…cxd5 16.Bc2 g6 17.Qe5?! (17.Qe2 was better.) 17…Bd6 (With this simple move, Black now gains a slight advantage.) 18.Qg5 Be7 19.Qh6 (White is fixated on a kingside mating strategy. Tunnel vision helps see deep in a position. But this is not the only part of the board. Other ideas and strategies are emerging.) 19…Bf6 20.Bg5 Bg7 21.Qh4 Bf5 22.Rac1 Rac8 23.Bxf5 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Qxf5 25.g4 Qe4 26.Be3 Bxd4 27.Bh6 Re8 28.Bg5 Bxb2 29.Qh6 Bxc1 (Black misses 29.Qxg4+! -+. But he finds it the next move.) 30.Bxc1 Qxg4+ 31.Kf1 Qe2+ 0-1
Now that we are starting a new year, it’s time to start creating new.
I am assuming you have a laptop, phone or tablet. Let’s spice up the appearance of your device.
First of all, we have to decide what device we are going working on.
A laptop’s wallpaper is going to be layout pattern with basically a 3 x 2 ratio.
A phone’s wallpaper is going to be portrait layout pattern with basically a 2 x 3 ratio.
The following directions are set up for designing on a laptop. If you are creating a wallpaper for your phone, change Right to Top, and Left to Bottom.
Now create a totally white layer on PhotoShop (you can use other image editors, I’m not picky). This will serve a background. Label this as Layer 1.
Now the subject matter.
Since both you and I love chess (at least you are reading this blog), let’s start with a game.
Now, most players would readily advertise a game they won, and I suggest you do the same here.
First make sure your game has no errors in the score or in the notes (you did annotate it, didn’t you? If not, a few notes will make your game stand out even more.)
Copy Layer 1 (the background). Now crop it so that is approximately 45 percent of the width of Layer 1. Call this new Layer 2.
Increase your font size of your game and use the enter key as necessary so that the game score (plus your notes) fits neatly into your Layer 2. You could also use a text box to do the same. Check which option is best for your creation. This, believe it, or not, is probably, the hardest part.
Oh! One more thing – make the color of your game score something other than white – you do want to show off your game!
Now, create a diagram, of the winning position, or any other that shows a winning, or surprise move.
I use Linares chess fonts which I purchased back in the 1990s. But there are others on the Internet you can download, some even for free.
You are going to be repeating a step here.
Again, create a copy of Layer 1. Crop it so that is approximately 45 percent of the width of Layer 1. Call this new Layer 3.
Move Layer 2 to the left side of the Layer 1.
Move Layer 3 to the right side of the Layer 1.
Now adjust the size, placement, and colors of all three layers to get a wallpaper to your taste (yes, this sounds like something out of a cookbook).
Garnish with any else you might want to add. For example, an emoji, a smiling face, or tournament bulletin or ad, might just add something to your overall design.
Save your file as a PSD (so you can easily change it later) and then as a JPEG so you can show it off.
PS – I included mine to share. You can also do the same. Let’s create! =)
If you ask chess players what was Fischer’s defence against 1.d4, most would say the King’s Indian Defence (KID). A few would also say the Gruenfeld as well (remember the “Game of the Century” they might yell out).
But Fischer also had a third option, one which he used for surprise and special occasions. That defence is known as the Benoni and is characterized as 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5. Black intends to strike on the queenside and is willing to sacrifice a pawn to gain a powerful attacking position from that side of the board.
Some games from the Great One.
GM Pomar-GM Fischer Havana Ol. Cuba, 1966 [Note: Fischer had to play all his games in this event by telephone due to US restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba. Consequently, all his games took longer to finish than most of the others.] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.f4 O-O 9.Nf3 Re8 10.Nd2 c4 11.Bf3 Nbd7 12.O-O b5 13.Kh1 a6 14.a4 Rb8 15.axb5 axb5 16.e5 dxe5 17.Nde4 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 Nf6 19.d6 Be6 20.Nc5 e4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Bxe4 Qb6 23.f5 gxf5 24.Bc2 Qd4 25.Qh5 Qg4 26.Qxg4 fxg4 27.Bg5 Bxb2 28.Rad1 b4 29.d7 Red8 30.Ba4 b3 31.Rfe1 Kg7 32.Bxd8 Rxd8 33.Rd6 Bf6 34.Red1 Bg5 35.Rb6 h6 36.Rc6 Ra8 37.Bb5 Bxd7 38.h4 Bxc6 39.Bxc6 c3 40.hxg5 c2 41.gxh6+ Kh8 0-1
Miguel Cuellar-GM Fischer Sousse Izt. Tunisia, 1967 [Hans Kmoch, “Games from Recent Events”, Chess Review, Jan. 1968.] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bg5 (Recent experiences with this move are discouraging.) 8…h6 9.Bf4 g5 10.Bc1 (Understandably, White dislikes both trading the Bishop for Knight by 10.Bg3 Nh5 or 10.Be3 Ng4 and 10.Bd2 interfering with his intended Nd2. So the Bishop has, if one may put it so, achieved a but less than nothing.) 10…O-O 11.Nd2 Nbd7 12.Be2 Ne5 13.Nf1 (Apparently hoping to exploit the hole on f5, White again loses time. He ought to castle instead.) 13…b5 (An excellent pawn sacrifice. Here Fischer shows his extra sense for grasping any attacking possibility.) 14.Bxb5 (Declining the sacrifice by 14.Ng3 is no better because of 14…Qa5! 15.O-O and Black has either 15…b4 16.Nb1 c4 17.Nd2 c3 18.bxc3 bxc3 etc., or 15…Bd7 followed possibly by 16.a4 b4 17.Nb1 c4 18.Nd2 Rfc8 19.Qc2 Qc5 etc.) 14…Qa5 15.Ng3 (Black wins on 15.Bd3 Nxd3+ 16.Qxd3 Nxe4 17.Qxe4 Bxc3+ 18.Bd2 Bxd2+ 19.Nxd2 Ba6.) 15…c4 16.O-O Rb8 17.Qa4 Qxa4 18.Bxa4 Nd3 (The swap of Queens has changed the situation, but little. Black has a strong initiative for his Pawn.) 19.Bb5 (A better defense is 19.Rb1 Then 19…Ng4 threatens 20…Bxc3 but is met by 20.Bc2.) 19…Ng4 20.Nge2 Nxc1 21.Raxc1 Ne5 22.b3 cxb3 23.axb3 a6 24.Ba4 Nd3 25.Rc2 f5 26.Ng3 (White makes matters worse: 26.exf5 Bxf5 27.Rd2 is necessary.) 26…f4! 27.Nge2 f3 28.Ng3 fxg2 29.Kxg2 Bg4! (Now Black has positional advantages which must win one way or another.)
30.Nf5 (White loses a piece: but the plausible 30.f3 also loses quickly because of 30…Bxf3+! and 31.Kh3 31…Nf4# or 31.Rxf3 Ne1+ or 31.Kg1 Bd4+ etc. 30.Nd1 may hold out longer but not really for long.) 30…Nf4+ 31.Kg3 (There is no difference after 31.Kg1 but 31.Kh1 allows mate in two.) 31…Bxf5 32.exf5 Bxc3 33.Kf3 (Or 33.Rxc3 Ne2+, and the damage amounts to a full Rook.) 33…Be5 34.Ke4 Rb4+ 35.Rc4 Rfb8 36.f6 Kf7 37.Kf5 Rxc4 38.bxc4 Ne2 39.Re1 Nd4+ 40.Kg4 h5+ 41.Kh3 Kxf6 0-1
GM Spassky-GM Fischer World Ch. Reykjavík, Iceland, 1972 Game #3 [This was the first time ever that Fischer beat Spassky in a game. Immediately following this victory Fischer went on a rampage to win the title.] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Nd2 Nbd7 8.e4 Bg7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 Re8 11.Qc2 Nh5!? (A seemingly antipositional move allows White to shatter Black’s kingside pawn structure, but Fischer’s attack proves to be unstoppable as Spassky could not find all the right moves.)
[It is difficult to state what is the best move for White here. One try is 13.h3 h4 14.a4, placing some pressure on the wings.
GM Boris Spassky-GM Fischer World Ch.?* Sveti Stefan & Belgrade Yugoslavia, Oct. 10 1992 Game 16 [* – This event is not universally recognized as World Championship by FIDE, the USCF and most other international and national chess organizations. To be fair, this event would be best characterized as an exhibition match. For more information, consult the various Inside Chess issues that covered this event in greater detail. Now on to the game!] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Qa5 9.Bd3 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Kf1 f5 13.Rc1 Qf6 14.h4 g4 15.Bd3 f4 16.Ne2 fxg3 17.Nxg3 Rf8 18.Rc2 Nd7 19.Qxg4 Ne5 20.Qe4 Bd7 21.Kg1 O-O-O 22.Bf1 Rg8 23.f4 Nxc4 24.Nh5 Qf7 25.Qxc4 Qxh5 26.Rb2 Rg3 27.Be2 Qf7 28.Bf3 Rdg8 29.Qb3 b6 30.Qe3 Qf6 31.Re2 Bb5 32.Rd2 e5 33.dxe6 Bc6 34.Kf1 Bxf3 0-1
A couple of decades ago I was reading a short story titled, “The Three Pawns Gambit”. It featured mysticism and the usual crazy chess hero.
But what is the Three Pawns Gambit? Does is lead to insanity? Or, perhaps more important to the average chess player, can you win with it?
Let’s look into it.
To get to the starting point of the three pawn gambit (3PG), you have to begin with the Kings’ Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4). Then we move onto the Cunningham 3.Nf3 Be7). And then onto one of the many main lines of the Cunningham with 4.Bc4 Bh4+)
And now White usually continues with 5.Kf1.
If White continues instead with 5.g3, then we have reached with position that leads to the 3PG.
Now, wait, you might say, “White has only gambitted only one pawn, not three.
You are correct. But Black almost always takes the second pawn with 5…fxg3. And why not? He is ahead by two pawns and is ready to invade White’s kingside with his pieces.
And now White castles with 6.O-O, offering up a third pawn.
Let’s review all the moves so far as we’ll proceed rapidly from this point.
Newton-V. Jurgenson, 1994 [Escalante] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O d6 (6…gxh2+ is considered best. But no matter how good accepting a sacrifice, some players will still decline it.) 7.Bxf7+ (White says, “So if Black won’t take my pawn, he might not take my bishop”. Actually taking the bishop is dangerous due to 7…Kxf7 8.Nxh4+.) 7…Kd7 8.e5 gxh2+ 9.Kh1 Nc6 10.e6+ Ke7 11.Nxh4 Bxe6 12.Bxe6 Kxe6 13.Qg4+ Kd5 14.Nc3+ Kc5 15.d4+ [Interesting is 15.Rf5+!? Kb6 (better, but still leading to mate is 15…Ne5 16.d4+ Kc6 17.d5+ Kd7 18.Rxe5#) 16.Rb5+ Ka6 17.Qa4+ Na5 18.Qxa5#.] 15…Kb6 16.d5 Nf6 17.Be3+ Ka6 18.Qc4+ 1-0
“Ben_Dubuque”-“subhankars”) Blitz Game Chess.com, July 14 2017 [“Ben_Dubuque”] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 (The Three Pawns Gambit or the Bertin Gambit whichever you prefer.) 7…Be7 (Any move other than d5 is a mistake but d5 still allows White some compensation. Most engines will evaluate the position after d5 as maybe -1 which is surprisingly good considering White is down 3 pawns. 7…d5 8.exd5 Bg4 9.d4.) 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.Ne5+ Ke8 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Nxg6 Nf6 12.Rxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxh8+ Ke7 14.Qf7+ Kd6 15.d4 Bxd4 (15…Qxh8 16.Bf4+ Be5 17.Bxe5+ Qxe5 18.dxe5+ Kxe5 19.Nc3) 16.Bf4+ Be5 17.Qd5+ Ke7 18.Qxe5+ Kf8 19.Bh6+ Kg8 20.Qg7mate 1-0
Two popular responses after 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 are 7…Bf6 and 7…Nh6
Reshevsky-Doery Simul Berlin, 1920 [American Chess Bulletin, Nov. 1920, p.170] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Be7 4.Nf3 Bh4+ 5.g3 (A lively continuation that is classified as Capt. Bertin’s Gambit. Steinitz was wont to play 5.Kf1 against Bird, one of the few masters who ever resorted to the Cunningham.) 5…fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 Nh6 (Not to be recommended. The correct move is 7…d5) 8.d4 Qe7 9.Bxh6 gxh6 10.Ne5 Bf6 [The removal of Black’s King’s Knight has left the King’s Bishop’s pawn woefully weak and Rzeschewski (i.e. Reshevsky RME) knows full well how to take advantage.] 11.Qh5 Rf8 12.Nxf7 (In this fashion does the little fellow make the chess the “child’s play” which is beyond the comprehension of many who are highly accomplished along other lines, but cannot quite grasp the fundamentals of chess strategy.) 12…Qxe4+ (Rzeschewski had calculated upon the sacrifice of a piece and the gain of more than it’s equivalent a few moves later, viz.: 12….RxN; 13.BxR+ QxB, 14.QxQ+ KxQ 15.e5, etc.) 13.Kxh2 Qxc2+ 14.Kg3 (Fearlessly the White King marches out into the open. He does not dread Rg8+, for in that case the Knight is withdrawn with discovered check.) 14…Bh4+ (Black is in desperation, but if, to avoid the discovery, he were to play …Ke7, then Re1+ would force mate.) 15.Qxh4 Qxc4 16.Qd8mate (Short shift is meted out to the presumptuous one who takes a chance on anything escaping the keen eyes of the small “grand-master” as he was dubbed in Vienna two years ago.) 1-0
Dus Chotimirsky-Robine Hamburg, 1910 [Escalante] [White has a won game after his 12th move. But how he wins it is spectacular.] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 d5 8.exd5 Bf6 9.d4 Ne7 10.Ng5 h6? 11.Nxf7! Kxf7 12.d6+ +- Kf8 13.Qh5 Qe8
Epaulette mate involves a king, flanked and blocked by two pieces on both sides of him, and cannot move backwards, facing a queen that is mating him.
This is a long definition of the epaulette mate, but trust me, it is necessary.
Like many attacking motifs, the best person to start it all off is Morphy. He appears to be the first master to use it in a game.
Just one little twist before we start. Please remove that knight on b1 prior to that start of the game. Otherwise, White can’t play his twelfth move, which helps setting up the final combination.
Morphy-N.N. New York, 1857 [Nb1] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.d4 gxf3 (Morphy was known for his attacking abilities. He starts off with a piece down before the game even starts and then proceeds to give up another piece.) 6.O-O Bh6 7.Qxf3 Nc6 8.Bxf7+ (And now a third piece.) 8…Kxf7 9.Qh5+ Kg7 10.Bxf4 Bxf4 11.Rxf4 Nh6 12.Raf1 Qe8 13.Qh4 d6 14.Qf6+ Kg8 15.Qxh6 Bd7 16.R4f3! Ne7 17.h4 Ng6 18.h5 Bg4 19.hxg6 hxg6
20.Rf8+! Qxf8 21.Rxf8+ Rxf8 22.Qxg6mate
This mating pattern has been used, reused, and enhanced in the more than 150 years of chess since this first game. Two of the more well-known games (other than Morphy’s) are given below.
First, let’s talk about the name of the gambit. Many players are convinced that AMAR is an acronym for Absolutely Mad And Ridiculous. And they are at least half correct, it is an absolutely mad and ridiculous opening. But the opening is named after Charles Amar, a 1930s player from Paris.
What makes this opening so bad? Well, the opening starts with 1.Nh3. And with this move White gives up his claim for the center, loses a tempo with his knight, and retards his own development.
Black probably has the advantage after either 1…e5 or 1…d5.
After 1.Nh3 d5, the game can continue with 2.g3 e5 3.f4, and the position of the AMAR gambit has been reached. Let’s see what White has done. With 2.g3 and 3.f4, he not only has the same problems as before, but has also tacked on a few more problems. His kingside is considerably weakened, he has open lines to his king, namely the d8-h4 diagonal (the same one used in Fool’s Mate), and he has sacrificed (lost?) a kingside pawn.
What has White gotten for all this mess? If Black plays 3…exf4, then White can win back the f-pawn with 4.Nxf4. He then has an OK position for his knight. And White can try castling.
Black, however, doesn’t have to play 3…exf4, leaving White with an entirely lost position. White can still try to castle kingside and maybe have some play along the f-file. But he usually doesn’t have the time to castle or make any long-term plans.
Really, White does better with the King’s Gambit.
1) 3.f4 2) 3.f4 exf4 4.Nxf4 3) 3.f4 Bxh3
Black can decline the gambitted pawn. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, Black has stronger moves.
Certainly Black can take the pawn. Well, he ends up with a much better position than White, who finds himself on the defensive. It is not known if this is a forced win for Black, but it is close to one.
Snyder-Kohler corres., 197? 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 a6 5.Ba4 b5 6.Bb3 h6 7.c3 Nf6 8.Bc2 Bb7 9.O-O exd4 10.cxd4 Be7 11.Re1 O-O 12.Nbd2 (White keeps developing. The knight move is defending his king and can opens the way for the knight to play a part in a kingside attack.) 12…Na5 (This knight is not doing anything useful here. When Black brings it back he has lost two tempi.) 13.Nf1 (This knight is heading for more active duties on the kingside.) 13…Nc4 14.Ng3 Re8 15.Nf5 Nb6 16.Bxh6 gxh6 17.Nxh6+ Kf8 18.Ng5 Qd7 19.Ngxf7 Kg7 20.Qd3 Nxe4 21.Rxe4 (Black has floated into a lost position. White sacrifice is easy as he has his eyes on the king.) 21…Bxe4 22.Qg3+ (Because of 22…Kf6 23.Qg5+ Ke6 24.Qg4+ Kf6 25.Qxe4) 1-0