Exploring a Gambit

Recently I was going over an old collection of some 1990s games.

I found this little-known gambit in the French. The opening moves were 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4, and now instead of 4.Nxe4 (the Rubinstein), White plays 4.f3. This tempts Black to play 4…exf3 5.Nxf3, and White has an extra developing move for the pawn.

I could not find a name for this gambit. So, I made one up. And in keeping with convention of naming openings that feature an early f3 and allowing Black to take the pawn apparently for free, I decided to name it, “The French Fantasy Variation”. Or FFV for short.

The first two games presented are the first two I found with these opening moves.

Beesley-Lynn
Auckland Open, 1999

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.Be3 Nf6 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 e6 9.Bd3 Bb4 10.O-O Bxc3 11.bxc3 Qd5 12.Qg3 Nbd7 13.c4 Qa5 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qh6 Ke7 16.c5 Qc3 17.Rab1 b5 18.Rb3 Qa5 19.Bg5 Rxg5 20.Qxg5 Rg8 21.Qf4 Kd8 22.Qh4 Qd2 23.Qf2 Qg5 24.Ra3 Nd5 25.Rxa7 Rg7 26.Be4 N7f6 27.Bxd5 Nxd5 28.Rxf7 Rg6 29.Rf3 b4 30.Kh2 h5 31.Rg3 Qxg3+ 32.Qxg3 Rxg3 33.Kxg3 Ne3 34.Re1 h4+ 35.Kf2 Nxc2 36.Rxe6 Kc7 37.Re4 Na3 38.Rxh4 Nb5 39.d5 cxd5 40.Rxb4 Nc3 41.Ke3 Nxa2 42.Rb6 Nc3 43.Rd6 1-0

Stracy-Gibson
Auckland Open, 1999
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.Be3 Nf6 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 e6 9.Bd3 Bb4 10.O-O Bxc3 11.bxc3 Qd5 12.Qg3 Nbd7 13.c4 Qa5 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qh6 Ke7 16.c5 Qc3 17.Rab1 b5 18.Rb3 Qa5 19.Bg5 Rxg5 20.Qxg5 Rg8 21.Qf4 Kd8 22.Qh4 Qd2 23.Qf2 Qg5 24.Ra3 Nd5 25.Rxa7 Rg7 26.Be4 N7f6 27.Bxd5 Nxd5 28.Rxf7 Rg6 29.Rf3 b4 30.Kh2 h5 31.Rg3 Qxg3+ 32.Qxg3 Rxg3 33.Kxg3 Ne3 34.Re1 h4+ 35.Kf2 Nxc2 36.Rxe6 Kc7 37.Re4 Na3 38.Rxh4 Nb5 39.d5 cxd5 40.Rxb4 Nc3 41.Ke3 Nxa2 42.Rb6 Nc3 43.Rd6 1-0

These games show some promise for the FFV! I am excited so far! Do these New Zealanders know something about chess opening that most other players don’t? I had to look up some more games, just to make sure that this opening, while definitely exciting, is also somewhat sound. I don’t want any negative surprises hitting me while playing this in an OTB or online tournament.

During my quest I found that Black can also do well. More troubling is that I didn’t find too many Master level games with this opening. Now it could be that 4.f3 was hardly played as there was very little theory on it, or the Master lever players didn’t think it was a great, or even a good, gambit to play. Of course, one way of deciding is to analyze it for oneself, namely me!

Let’s look at several games in which Black did well.

Sebastian Gramlich (2080)-Holger Rasch (2259)
Rhein Main Open
Bad Homburg, Germany, June 10 2004

1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Nf6 6.Bd3 c5 7.O-O cxd4 8.Ne4 Nc6 9.Nfg5 Be7 10.Bd2 h6 11.Nxf7 Kxf7 12.Qh5+ Kg8 13.Nxf6+ Bxf6 14.Rxf6 gxf6 15.Qg6+ Kf8 16.Rf1 f5 17.Bxf5 Ke7 18.Re1 Qg8 19.Qh5 Bd7 20.Qh4+ Kd6 21.Bf4+ Kc5 22.Bd3 a6 23.Bc7 Qg5 24.b4+ Kxb4 25.c3+ Kxc3 26.Qh3 Kb4 27.Bb6 Qd2 28.Rb1+ Ka3 29.Bc4+ Qe3+ 30.Qxe3+ dxe3 31.Bc5+ Ka4 32.Rb3 Nb4 33.Rxb4+ Ka5 34.a3 b5 35.Bxe3 Rac8 36.Be2 Bc6 37.g3 Bd5 38.Bd2 Kb6 39.a4 Rc2 40.Rd4 Kc5 0-1

Frits Bakkes-P. Borman (2214)
Nova Open
Haarlem, Netherlands, July 2 2004

1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Nf6 6.Bc4 Be7 7.Bf4 O-O 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.Qf3 Nb6 10.Bd3 Nbd5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.Qg3 b6 13.O-O-O Qxa2 14.Nc6 Bd6 15.Bxd6 cxd6 16.Qxd6 Bb7 17.Nb4 Qa1+ 18.Kd2 Qa5 19.c3 Qg5+ 20.Kc2 Qxg2+ 21.Kb3 Rfd8 22.Qf4 Qg4 23.Qxg4 Nxg4 24.Rhg1 Nxh2 25.d5 Nf3 26.Rg3 Ne5 27.dxe6 fxe6 28.Rdg1 g6 29.Be2 a5 30.Nc2 a4+ 31.Ka3 Bd5 32.Re3 Nc4+ 33.Bxc4 Bxc4 34.Nd4 Rd6 35.Rge1 Kg7 36.Kb4 b5 37.Re5 h5 38.Rg1 Kh7 39.Reg5 Bd3 40.Nxb5 Bxb5 41.Kxb5 Rd5+ 42.Rxd5 exd5 43.Rd1 Rb8+ 44.Ka5 Rxb2 45.Rxd5 Kh6 46.c4 h4 47.c5 g5 48.c6 Rc2 49.Kb5 Rb2+ 50.Kc5 Kh5 51.Kd6 Rb6 52.Rc5 h3 53.Kc7 Rxc6+ 54.Kxc6 Kh4 55.Kd5 h2 56.Ke5 h1=Q 0-1

In the first two games Black played 5…Bg4 and lost both. In the second set of two, Black played 5…Nf6, and won both.

Does this mean Black’s 5th move determine the outcome of the game? Probably not. But such a decision is rendered academic as Black has a much better 4th move, namely 4.Bb4.

This move develops a piece, pins a knight, bring Black one move closer to castling, and still leaves White with a weakened kingside pawn structure.

And White must be careful. 5.fxe4? can lead to an immediate disaster.

Irfan Redzepovic (2115)-Hartmut Riedel (2230)
Landesliga N Bayern 95/96
Germany, 1996

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 Bb4 5.fxe4? Qh4+ 6.g3 Qxe4+ 7.Kf2 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Qxh1 9.Nf3 Bd7 10.Ba3 Nf6 11.Qd3 Ng4+ 12.Ke2 Nxh2 0-1

And even with best moves, White should still lose.

Jan Hennig-Gerhard Zach
Stuttgart Ch. B
Germany, 2004
1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 dxe4 5.fxe4 Qh4+ 6.g3 Qxe4+ 7.Qe2 Qxh1 8.Nf3 Bxc3+?!
(Black can increase his pressure on White’s exposed King and unorganized pieces with 8…b6! If 9.Qb5+, then 9…c6 10.Qxb4 Qxf3.) 9.bxc3 Nf6 10.Ba3 (White wants to castle queenside and then play Bg2, trapping the black queen.) 10…b6 11.O-O-O Bb7 (Ba6!) 12.Bg2 Bxf3? (Ba6! would still do the trick!) 13.Bxf3 Qxd1+ 14.Qxd1 +- c6 15.Qh1 Kd7 16.c4 Rc8 17.g4 h6 18.h4 g5 19.hxg5 hxg5 20.Qh6 Ne8 21.Qf8 Kc7 22.Qxf7+ Nd7 23.Qxe6 Ng7 24.Qxc6+ Kd8 25.Qd6 Ne8 26.Qe7+ Kc7 27.d5 1-0

White of course, does not have to play 5…fxe4. But other moves result in other problems for White.

Hagen Oettinger (2151)-Filip Daniel Goldstern (2391)
Seefeld Open
Austria, Sept. 12 1999
1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 Bb4 5.Be3 Nf6 6.a3 Nd5 7.Qd2 Bxc3 8.bxc3 exf3 9.Nxf3 c6 10.c4 Nxe3 11.Qxe3 Qa5+ 12.Nd2 Nd7 13.Bd3 c5 14.d5 Qc3 15.Rd1 Qe5 16.Qxe5 Nxe5 17.Ne4 b6 18.O-O Ke7 19.Ng5 f6 20.Be4 Rb8 21.Nf3 Nxc4 22.Rfe1 e5 23.Nh4 Nd6 24.a4 Bd7 25.Ra1 c4 26.g3 Rbc8 27.c3 Rc5 28.Ng2 f5 29.Bf3 Kf6 0-1

Tim McGrew (1221)-Ron Gore (1598)
Michigan Amateur Open
Kalamazoo, Oct. 23 2004

1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 Bb4 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Nf6 7.Bg5?! h6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.fxe4 Qh4+ 10.Kd2 Qxe4 11.Nf3 O-O 12.Bd3 Qf4+ 13.Ke2 Nc6 14.Rf1 Qd6 15.Kf2 b6 16.Kg1 Bb7 17.Qe1 Ne7 18.Qe3 Bxf3 19.Rxf3 Nd5 20.Qd2 Rad8 21.Rg3 Qf4 22.Qe1 c5 23.Rf3 Qc7 24.Qe4 g6 25.Qe1 cxd4 26.cxd4 Ne7 27.Qh4 Qc3 28.Raf1 Qxd4+ 29.Qf2 Qxf2+ 30.R3xf2 Kg7 31.Rf4 Nf5 32.R1f3 Rd4 33.Rxd4 Nxd4 34.Rf4 e5 35.Re4 f6 36.Kf2 Rc8 37.Rg4 f5 38.Rg3 e4 39.Be2 Nxe2 40.Kxe2 Rxc2+ 41.Kd1 Rc5 42.Re3 Kf6 43.Kd2 Ke5 44.Rh3 h5 45.Rg3 Rc6 46.Rb3 f4 47.Rb5+ Rc5 48.Rb3 Kd4 49.Rb4+ Rc4 50.Rb1 e3+ 51.Ke2 Rc2+ 52.Kf1 e2+ 53.Ke1 Kd3 54.Rb3+ Rc3 55.Rb1 Rxa3 56.Kf2 Kc2 57.Re1 Re3 58.g3 g5


0-1

Dominic Klingher (1829)-George Stoleriu (2227)
European Youth Ch., Boys U14
Porec, Croatia, Sept. 21 2015

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 Bb4 5.Be3 Nf6 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nd5 8.Qd2 b6 9.Bg5 f6 10.fxe4 fxg5 11.exd5 exd5 12.Nf3 g4 13.Ne5 O-O 14.c4 Ba6 15.cxd5 Qxd5 16.Nxg4 Qe4+ 17.Ne3 Re8 18.Bxa6 Nxa6 19.Kf2 Rad8 20.c3 Nc5 21.Rad1 Qf4+ 22.Ke2 Qg4+ 23.Kf1 Rxe3 0-1

Now I probably would not play this gambit in an OTB or online tournament. But speed chess, well, that’s another story!

Game Collecting

Most players create a collection of full and partial games for their own pleasure or study.

Themes include favorite games of a famous player, beloved openings, offbeat or unusual mating patterns, miniatures, tactical sacrifices, positional considerations, pawn endings, rook endings, and even games they have played.

Players have been collecting games at least since Greco, who published his games sometime after 1500. He covered openings and spectacular wins in the opening, and claimed to have played all the games in his collection (but the modern opinion is that he simply copied at least some of the games from other collections and made an anthology of them).

Players have made their collections from index cards. This works well if you are deciding whether a new move in an opening is worth analyzing. You write down a game with the new move on an index card. Repeat. And keep going.

When you have collected enough index cards with the new move, you can place them on a table, organize them, and then play over the games on the cards. This is a flexible method as you can easily discard a game and substitute another card that you think will be a better study.

When done, organize the cards by any criteria you want, and then attach a rubber band around them and they are ready to use again.

Index cards are also good if you want to collect all the games of a players. When a new game is played, all you have to do is copy the newest game on a card and you are ready to add it to your collection. It also easy find out what he is most likely to do when he has to face your pet Najdorf variation.

Chess players have also created scrapbooks full of interesting and helpful games, problems, analyses, and the like from newspapers, magazines, and even old books.

This makes such collections much easier to travel and can hold more information than index cards.

For those players who can write also small, small note pads have been used to write down games and the occasional study or problem. Usually, you would meet them at tournaments, and they would be collecting games for publication. But this method was (and is) not meant to be long-lasting. Instead, the reporter, editor, or fellow chess player would transfer the game and notes to a more permanent medium.

But with the almighty laptop (and the Internet), it is now far easier to create a collection, make it a more-or-less a continuing collection and update it at one’s leisure.

The most common method of game collection in the Internet age is to use a PGN generator. PGN is short for Portable Game Notation, it is what the computer uses to display the moves of a game, and it looks like this:

[Event “?”]
[Site “Kiev”]
[Date “1954.??.??”]
[White “Kutsenok”]
[Black “Akimov”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “C35”]
[PlyCount “30”]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Nf6 $1 5.e5 Ng4 6.O-O d5 7.Bb3 $2 Nc6 8.d4 g5 9.h3 $2 h5 $1 10.hxg4 hxg4 11.Nh2 g3 12.Ng4 Rh4 13.Nf6+ Bxf6 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Re1+ Kf8 0-1 {Black kingside pawns threaten to advance.}

A few notes here. The computer will translate a “$1” as an “!” and a “$2”as a “?”. Any notes in a { } will allow you to read the note when you play over the game on a computer, and a ply is exactly ½ of a move. Hence, this game is 15 moves, and the ply is 30. The game is from Clarke’s 100 Soviet Miniatures.

The big drawback of this method is that you need a computer to play, study, or simply enjoy the game. And in the case of electrical power going down, you can be out of luck.

With the rise of on-line publishing, players can also upload and print books of their favorite games, players, openings, and ideas on the game. This can be expensive (on-line printers need to make their profit), but it is rather easy to add new games and ideas, and even change one’s own annotations as fast as you can type.

Which is an important skill when writing anything on the Internet, social sites, and even a blog.

And now a game from Tal’s Tactical Treatment of an opponent. Maybe this is something you can add to your collection.

GM Tal-Kennedy
World Student Ch.
Varna, 1958

[Minev, “Digging into the Most Notorious Bulletin”, Inside Chess, Sept. 5, 1994]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Bd3 (Tal’s favorite continuation throughout his career and one that theory still gives as “unclear”.) 8…Nbc6?! (The immediate 8…Qa5 9.Ne2 is critical … After the text, White has no problems with his e5-pawn.) 9.Nf3 Bd7 (If now 9…Qa5, then 10.O-O.) 10.cxd4 Qc7 11.O-O O-O-O 12.a4 f5 13.Qxg7 h5 14.Qg5 Rdg8 15.Qd2 Na5 16.Ba3 Nec6 17.Bd6 Qd8 18.Qc3 Be8 19.Rab1 Rg7 20.Bb4 h4 21.Bxa5 Qxa5 22.Qxa5 Nxa5 23.Rfe1 h3 24.g3 Nc4 25.Bxc4 dxc4 26.d5! f4 27.Re4! exd5 28.Rxf4 Bxa4 29.Nd4 Re7 30.Rf5 Kc7 31.f4 Rd8 32.Rf6 Bd7 33.Rd6! b5 34.Rxd5 a6 35.f5 Rf8 36.Rf1 Bc8 37.f6 Rd7? 38.Ne6+ 1-0

When Two is Not Enough

Every player values his queen. And there is little wonder why. It is the most powerful piece of the game and with it, sometimes by itself, quickly mate the opposition. Take a look at Scholar’s Mate (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4 4.Qxf7#), Fool’s Mate (1.f4 e5 2.g4 Qh4#), even a trap in the Petrov (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.Nc6+).

It stands to reason that a player would welcome another queen joining his ranks. Even more so if the opponent fails to do the same. Imagine the possibilities!

But chess is not so simple. A second queen does not automatically confer or guarantee victory.

Let’s look at some opening examples.

Littlewood-Andrews
England 1981
[D22]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.h3 Bh5 7.Nc3 a6 8.O-O Nbd7 9.e4 e5 10.g4 exd4 11.gxh5 dxc3 12.e5 cxb2 13.exf6 bxa1=Q 14.Bxf7+! Kxf7 15.Qd5+ Ke8 16.f7+ Ke7 17.Re1+ Ne5 18.Bg5mate 1-0

Sprenger (2199)-Danner (2369)
Austrian Ch., 2002
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nc6 8.e5 h6 9.Bh4 Nxd4 10.exf6 Nf5 11.fxg7 Qxh4+ 12.g3 Nxg3


13.gxh8=Q Ne4+ 14.Ke2 Qf2+ 15.Kd3 Nc5+ 16.Kc4 b5+ 17.Nxb5 axb5+ 18.Kc3 b4+ 19.Kc4 d5+ 20.Kb5 Bd7+ 0-1

So, what happened? Well, in both cases, the promoted queen finds herself in a corner on the board. A corner, as you probably know, is a square in which the queen has less moves, less mobility, and less power than existing on the side or in the center of the board.

And since the promotion occurred in the opening, there are many pieces on the board that block or hinders the movement of the newly born queen.

The side with the extra queen usually has to spend an extra tempo or two to get the brand-new queen into play.

All of which subtracts from usually positive aspect of an additional queen.

Let’s take a look at two other games.

The first shows a White king under tremendous pressure from Black’s knight, passed pawn, and sole queen. It also shows how fond some players have for their multiple queens, and an unwillingness to give one of them up.

Chigorin-Blackburne
Vienna, 1898
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2!?
(Chigorin is credited with coming up with this move. Its main goal is to harass Black’s development as the queen on e2 can easily be put into play on either side of the board.) 2…b6 (2…c5 is an alternate move.) 3.Nc3 Bb7 4.Nh3 Nc6 5.d3 g6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Qd2 Bxg5 8.Nxg5 Qe7 9.f4 O-O-O 10.O-O-O f6 11.Nf3 Nh6 12.d4 d5 13.e5 f5 14.Bb5 a6 15.Be2 Nf7 16.h3 h5 17.Rhg1 Rdg8 18.g3 Kb8 19.Kb1 Ka7 20.Ka1 Nb8 21.Rb1 Nd7 22.b4 b5 23.a4 c6 24.Qc1 Ra8 25.a5 Rag8 26.Na2 g5 27.Qe3 Nf8 28.Nc1 h4 29.gxh4 gxf4 30.Qf2 Rxg1 31.Qxg1 Rh6 32.Nd3 Ng6 33.h5 Nh4 34.Nxh4 Qxh4 35.Qg7 f3 36.Bxf3 Qxd4+ 37.Rb2 Nd6 38.Qxh6 Nc4 39.Qf4 Qc3 40.h6 c5 41.h7 cxb4 42.h8=Q b3! (Counterplay!) 43.Qf8 bxc2 44.Qc5+ Ka8

45.Qfd4?? [Chigorin himself analyzed his blunder. White wins after 45.Qfxc4! bxc4 (45…dxc4 46.Qc8+) 46.Qb4 Qxb4 47.Rxb4 cxd3 48.Kb2. 45.Qc1 +-.] 45…Qxa5+ 0-1

The second one demonstrates how a queen in the corner can still be more of a spectator on the corner than a contributing member, even in an endgame. And how an Initiative can trump the extra material.

WFM Natalya Tsodikova (2196)-FM Jon Jacobs (2200)
Mechanics Institute vs. Marshall match
chess.com, Oct. 15 2019
[GM Nick de Firmian. “Mechanics’ Versus Marshall”, CL, Jan. 2020]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.Bg2 d5 6.0-0 c5 7.c4 d4 8.b4 Nc6 9.bxc5 e5 10.d3 Nd7 11.Nfd2 Nxc5 12.Ba3 Qa5 13.Ne4 Nxe4!? (An interesting Exchange sacrifice for the initiative. Black has active pieces for the material and dark square play.) 14.Bxf8 Bxf8?! (Even stronger was 14….Nxf2! 15.Rxf2 Bxf8. The weakness of e3 would add to Black’s compensation for the Exchange.) 15.Bxe4 Qc7 16.Nd2 a5 17.Bg2 f5 18.a3 a4 19.Qc2 Bc5 20.Rfb1 Qe7 21.Qb2 Ra6 22.Qc1 Kg7 23.Rb5 Na7 24.Rb2 Nc6 25.Raa2 g5 26.Rb1 Kg6 27.Rb5 Na7 28.Rbb2 Nc6 29.g4?! (White goes for the win! This was a hard-fought match and the players go all out, yet the position now becomes very sharp.) 29….Bxa3 30.gxf5+ (Bad is 30.Rxa3 Qxa3 since 31.Rb6 is not check.) 30….Bxf5 31.Ne4? Bxb2 32.Qxb2 Qb4 33.Qc1 h6 34.Ng3 a3 35.Nxf5 Kxf5 36.Be4+ Kf6 (Black is winning on the queenside, but his king is unsafe on the opposite wing. Natalya quickly switches fronts.) 37.Qf1! Kg7 38.Qh3 Ne7 39.Qd7 Kf6 40.Qxb7 Rb6?! (Here Jon misses his best chance. He should play for the endgame where his king is safe. 40….Qxb7! 41.Bxb7 Rb6 42.Be4 Rb3 is difficult for White, e.g. 43.Kf1 Ke6 44.Ke1 Kd6 45.Kd2 Kc5 46.Kc2 Kb4 with full control of the board.) 41.Qa8!? Qb1+ 42.Kg2 Qxa2 43.Qf8+ Ke6 44.Qxh6+ Kd7 45.Qxb6 Qb2 46.Qa7+ Ke8 47.Qa4+ Kf8 48.Qd7?! (Best was 48.Qa8+ Kf7 49.Qa7 a2 50.Bd5+ Kf6 51.Qa6+ Kg7 52.Qa7 Kf8 53.Qa8+ Kg7 54.Qa7 forcing the draw.) 48….a2 49.Bd5 Nxd5 (Black still has winning chances after 49….Qb6.) 50.cxd5 a1=Q

51.Qd8+ Kf7 52.Qd7+ Kf6 53.Qe6+ Kg7 54.Qe7+ Kg6 55.Qe6+ Kg7 56.Qe7+ Kg6 57.Qe6+ Kh5 58.Qh3+ Kg6 (Black is a whole queen up, but his king cannot escape the checks.) 59.Qe6+ 1/2-1/2

Left-Handed Players

Recently I read a short article on lefthanders in the August 1988 issue of the British Chess Magazine (BCM). The first paragraph was very interesting for us lefties. Here is the noteworthy first paragraph;

“Some research has shown that there is a higher-than-normal proportion of left-handed amongst chess players”.

This is something I have observed when I was playing Over The Board (OTB) tournaments. But among strong players, say Expert and above, the percentage of left-handed players actually drops below the norm.

And if we look at World Champions, we find no left-handed players. Not just the Men’s World Champion, but the Women’s as well. And correspondence World Champions have all been right-handed players as well. I have not researched the handiness of all the Junior World Champions, but I suspect you won’t find any lefties there.

Why is this so? There are many factors for this occurrence. And all have to do with brain physiology.

Right-handed people tend to use the left part of the brain. That side is where logic, calculations, and focusing (among other things) are located.

Left-handed people access the other side of the brain, the right part. (yes, left-handers are fond of saying, “I’m one of those few people who regularly use the right side of my brain. I don’t know about those right-handed people”. Usually, they say this only to their left-handed friends.

OK – back to the topic.

The right side of the brain is concerned with intuition, ability to see more across the spectrum of things (at the cost of narrow focusing), and ability to actually see chess positions that have not occurred yet.

Briefly, a lefty can actually see what positions may occur during a game. But it takes a right-hander to figure out how to get there.

OK, so you probably want some examples of left-handed players and their games. Just for research, right? ; )

~~~~

GM MARK HEBDEN

Christopher Briscoe-GM Mark Hebden
British Ch.
Torquay, England, July 27 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Qe2 (Known as the Worrall Attack.) 6…b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Bg4 10.dxc6 e4 11.d4 exf3 12.gxf3 Bh5 13.Bg5 Re8 14.Nd2 Nd5 15.Bxe7 Rxe7 16.Qd3 Bg6 17.Ne4



17…Nf4! 18.Qd2 Rxe4! 19.Kh1 Qg5 20.Rg1 Qf6 21.Rg4 h5 22.fxe4 Bxe4+ 0-1

PETER OAKLEY

Peter J. Oakley-
Yury Nikolaevich Shaposhnikov
corres.
World Championship V, ½ Final
ICCF, 1962

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 c5 4.e5 Ng8 5.d4 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Nc6 7.Qe4 d6 8.Nf3 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 Nf6 10.Qe2 dxe5 11.Qxe5 Bd6 12.Qb5+ Bd7 13.Qxb7 Rb8 14.Qf3 Qc7 15.Bd3 Bc6 16.Qh3 Bf4 17.O-O Bxc1 18.Raxc1 Rxb2 19.Nb5 Qf4 20.Nxa7 Be4 21.Bxe4 Nxe4 22.Qa3 Rd2 23.Nc6 Kd7 24.Rb1 1-0

GM DANIIL DUBOV

GM Daniil Dubov-
Renato R. Quintiliano Pinto
Blitz Game
Titled Tuesday
chess.com, May 11 2021

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.Be2 e6 7.O-O Bb7 8.Rb1 b4 9.e5 Nd5 10.Ne4 Nd7 11.Bxc4 c5 12.Bg5 Qb6 13.Re1 h6 14.Bh4 cxd4 15.Nxd4 Bc5 16.Nf5 O-O 17.Nxh6+ gxh6 18.Qg4+ Kh8 19.Qh5 f5 20.Qxh6+ Kg8 21.Qg6+ Kh8 22.Ng5 1-0

A TD story

I believe it was 1987 when this instance occurred. My assignment was to help out in any was I can at a local scholastic chess tournament. In reality, and more truthfully, I was the guy whose job it was to solve any disputes.

Now a player who wins a game earns a grand total of 1 point. A player who loses a game gets 0 points. And if a game ends in a tie (usually called a “draw” in chess lexicon), then each player receives ½ of a point. This background information comes into play a bit later.

The winner of the tournament is the one who earns the most points at the end of the tournament. This sounds simple, and it usually is.

If the there is a tie (draw) between players at the end of the tournament then we had two tiebreak systems at our disposal.

The first is to look at all the players who are tied and then check if the players had played each other. If so, then we look at who won. If Player A beat Player B in their individual game, then we would conclude that Player A won the tournament. Simple, and again, usually not a problem.

If a second tiebreak is needed, then we would see would check which player faced the strongest opposition. And how does one figure out who the strongest opposition?

Well, we add up all the points of every opponent each player faced. This takes time. And there is pressure not to make a mistake, sometimes from the players, but mostly from concerned parents who naturally want their child to win or have a later appointment in the day. And this was years before computers were commonplace. In other words, we did it by hand.

We now introduce our two scholastic players who made played in this tournament, ‘J’ and ‘R’. ‘J’ was a fairly good player and one could not entirely dismiss him from winning this tournament outright. However, ‘R’ was in a league of his own. He was definitely the favorite but when it came to King safety, well, that was a weakness. It should be pointed out that this condition is almost universal among scholastic players. But it was more noticeable in ‘R’ ’s case.

Anyway, there was almost no problems with the tournament. The only problem I had to face was answering a child’s question on where the restroom was located.

The tournament ended a little sooner than expected. And as expected, ‘R’ won. Or did he?

We were getting ready to announce the winner, hand out the trophies, and thank everyone for coming.

But ‘J’ came to the TD table and said that he won the tournament and not ‘R’. I asked him for more information. Was it possible that the Tournament Director team made a mistake? As far as I knew we never made a mistake before. But I knew we, being human and all that, could have made one.

So, the team and I went to a back room to hear him out.

He claimed, “My tie-breaks were better than ‘R’. So, I won the tournament!” I told someone to bring the out the pairing cards. Our first check was to see if ‘J’ played ‘R’ and what was the result. It turned out that these two didn’t play each other in the tournament. I remember remarking, “Well, that was easy.” I got a few amused smiles. We had to do the hard work after all. This was the first time we had to work this out. However, things progressed rapidly once we figured out how to do it. I also had hunch or maybe had a sudden recollection, and as the tabulations were being completed, I checked out my hunch.

Once we crunched all the numbers, I put away my smile and told the young student, “You are correct. You did face the stronger opposition.” He smiled. Then I continued, “But ‘R’ has more game points that you. You lost on the first tie-beak, he beat you 6 points to 5 1/2 points.”

My smile came back to comfort him. But he wasn’t upset or even embarrassed. He just took it as a matter of course. I don’t know if he was playing a game with me or the staff. I do not know if he had ever won with this tactic before. My guess is that he had attempted this act in a previous tournament, and this was best reply he ever had.

Excel to help!

While I like to write about chess I sometimes run into problems. The biggest is that there are so few reference books on chess.

For example, there are times when I want to know a famous player’s birthday. Maybe wish them a happy birthday. Or when did GM Mike Matthew Michael Mateson earn his GM title? Just what is ratio of men to women with a Master title?

So, I created my own reference material. Better yet, since they are computer files stored on my laptop (and other places) I can simply cut and paste what I want into whatever I write. This is simple and and even necessary should the Internet goes down in my area.

Attached here is an PDF copy of an Excel file that I use and update often. Feel free to use for your own personal use.

Rob

Do Lefties Have Advantages in Chess?

First, I have to admit that I am a left-hander. This is partly a personal account.

Lefthanders often have an advantage in sports. In Baseball, Tennis, Soccer, this advantage is obvious.

But do left-handed chess players have an advantage in chess?

Let’s take a general, and perhaps an overgeneralized view, of left-handers.

Lefties tend to think spatial setups rather than individual items. They see multiple colors in everything rather than in White and Black and iron clad differences. They tend to do better in geometry rather than algebra. They see forests rather than the trees.

And they tend to see the whole board patterns than rather than the calculations.

Does this constitute an advantage? Well, yes and no. It more or less balances out. You have to see more than a corner of the board and you have to calculate.

Are there other things that may constitute an advantage for a lefty?

Let’s use this image of two players in a tournament with a clock. The tournament is from 1944.

As you can see both players can access the clock, but there is a difference. One player punches the clock with his right hand and the other player must use his left hand.

Most players naturally want to have the clock on the side of their dominant hand. So, who gets to choose which side of the board the clock sits during the game?

Since White gets to move first, Black has a small compensation awarded to him. He has the choice which side to place the clock. So, if I am playing Black, I will choose the clock on my left-side and tell my opponent I am doing a him a favor, “just to be nice”. In reality, the position of the clock now favors both players.

And when I am White, I freely and liberally let Black to place the clock to whatever side he wants. First of all, it is a chess rule. The second reason is that the clock almost always ends up on the side I want.

Except when my opponent is another lefty.

Game Submission

Earlier this week I announced that International Chess Day was July 20th and I was requesting if any readers wanted a game to be published on this blog. The following is a submission that I am happy to post.

“Lucio Campiani”-MACBOOK PRO, Level 7
Italy, 2021
[Escalante]
1.Nc3 d5 2.e3

[Seemingly heading towards a Colle. White can also try 2.e4, which is a gambit that deserves to be played more often. Here are two games:

Dunst-Osher
New York, 1956
1.Nc3 (Dunst did much to popularize this opening. In fact, some references actually label 1.Nc3 the Dunst Opening.) d5 2.e4 d4 3.Nce2 c5 4.Ng3 g6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.d3 Bg7 7.f4 Nf6 8.Nf3 a6 9.a4 Na5 10.Ba2 O-O 11.O-O Nc6 12.h3 b6 13.Bd2 Bb7 14.Bc4 Na7 15.f5 b5 16.Ba2 Nd7 17.fxg6 hxg6 18.Ng5 Bf6 19.Qg4 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 e6 21.Qh6 Qc7 22.Bf4 Qd8 23.Bg5 Qc7 24.Rf6 Qe5 25.Bxe6 1-0

T.D. Harding-N.N.
Simul, n.d.
1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 d4 3.Nd5 f5 4.Bc4 fxe4 5.Qh5+ g6 6.Qe5 c6 7.Nc7+ Kd7 8.Be6mate 1-0.]

3…Nf6 3.Bb5+ c6 4.e4 (An interesting and original gambit. White should not be able to get away with it, but trying out new ideas and themes ultimately enriches the game and makes the adventurous player a better one.) 4…cxb5 5.Nxb5 Nxe4 6.Qe2 a6 7.Nd4 e5 8.Ndf3 Bc5 9.Nh4 Nxf2?

[Black doesn’t have to take the pawn at this time. The attack on f2 is not going away and Black can get better play after 9…Qxh4 or even 9…O-O.

It has been claimed that chess computers can attack but can never defend. And that a computer’s greed is often its downfall. These two allegations were more true back in the 1980s, but we still have examples of these memes. Like this game.]

10.d4 Bxd4 11.Be3 Nxh1 12.O-O-O (White can’t play 12.Bxd4? due to 12…Qxh4+ and 13…Qxd4. Black’s overwhelming material advantage then become obvious and unanswerable.) 12…Bxe3+ 13.Qxe3 Qxh4 14.Rxd5 (14.Qxe5+ is probably better and is definitely better after 14….Qe7? 15.Qxg7! Rf8? 16.Nf3! with the idea of 17.Re1! +-.) 14…O-O 15.Qxe5 Qf2 16.b3 Qxg1+? (Despite winning the knight with a check, this move is an error. Black’s queen finds herself out of play and White’s rook and queen instantly become more active and Black falls behind in development. He should consolidate with 16…Be6 and 17…Nc6.) 17.Kb2 Qxg2 18.Rd8 Rxd8? (Again, greed negatively affects Black’s position. Better is 18…Be6! and his position actually improves.) 19.Qe7 Nc6 20.h4 Rd4?? 21.Qe8mate 1-0

And don’t worry if you could not submit your game due to natural disasters, political upheavals, viruses, or alien abductions. You can still submit things to this blog.

If you have a game you want to be seen here, or have a question, or a request, just email them to Rob@TheNewChessPlayer.com

Rob

This is Black.

International Chess Day

International Chess Day is July 20th. You did know that, didn’t you!?

I know some of you may have some chess games you want to share.

So, I am making an offer to you.

If you have a game, played by you, or someone else, that you want to share with the rest of the world, please send them here or to my chess email address. I will post games that I think other players may find interesting, inspiring, or maybe just plain awesome.

Send your games in text, in pgn, in Word, in AN or DN.

Include the names of the opponents, the location, and the event (such as Neighborhood Championship, correspondence game, etc.) and any other notes you want to share.

Thank you!

Rob

Rob@TheNewChessPlayer.com

A Well-Annotated Game

Due to lack of time, and that mainly due to lack of non-essential items like food and sleep, I can only supply a well-annotated game and the endgame is a challenging and fun one.

The opening is an English and here it is:

GM Jonathan Speelman-GM Yasser Seirawan
Candidates Match, Game #3
St. John, Canada, 1988
[John Nunn, “Candidates’ Matches”, BCM March 1988]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.a3 Bxc3 6.Qxc3 b6 7.g3 (An innocuous choice. The most dangerous line is 7.b3, with e3 and Be2 to follow.) 7…Bb7 8.Bg2 d5 9.cxd5 exd5 (This could be an important novelty, since White cannot gain the advantage and could easily drift into an inferior position.) 10.O-O (10.d3 d4 11.Qc2 a5 12.Bg5 c5 reaches a position in which White’s backward e-pawn is the most important feature.) 10…Re8 11.Re1? [This is weak because f2 becomes a tactical weakness. 11.e3 is much better when 11…c5 12.d4 (12.b4 d4 is fine for Black) Nc6 13.dxe5 Ne4 14.Qc2 bxc5 is similar to the game, except White need not to worry about f2.] 11…c5 12.d4 (12.d3 d4 with a backward pawn and 12.b4 d4 followed by by 13…d3 are good for Black.) 12…Ne4 13.Qc2 Nc6 14.dxc5 bxc5 15.b3 Qb6?! [Black attempts to exploit 11.Re1? by preventing 16.Bb2 on account of 16…c4 , but a more direct method would have been 15…Nd4! 16.Nxd4 (16.Qd3 Qf6 is no better.) 16…cxd4 17.Bb2 Qf6 followed by …Rac8 and …Nc3 with a clear advantage for Black.] 16.e3 Rab8 17.Rb1

[Not a serious error, but the start of a dubious plan. The simplest line was 17.Nd2!

(1) 17…Ne5 18.Bb2 Nxd2 19.Qxd2 d4 (19…Qxb3 20.Bxe5 Rxe5 21.Rab1 followed by Bxd5 with an edge for White) 20.exd4 Bxg2 21.dxe5 Ba8 22.Re3 with an unclear position.

(2) 17…Ba8 18.Bxe4! (The point that Spleeman had missed; it looks wrong to give up the white-square bishop, but Black has no way of exploiting the weakened kingside.)]

17…Ba8 18.Bd2? [But now White goes really wrong. This was the last chance to play 18.Nd2! and after 18…Ne5 (18…Qa5 19.Bxe4! dxe4 20.Bb2 is similar to line 1 above) 19.Bb2 Nxd2 20.Qxd2 Qxb3 21.Bxe5 Qxb1 22.Bxb8 Qxb8 23.Bxd5 with just an edge for Black.] 18…a5! (This leaves White with few constructive moves, while Black can still improve his position.) 19.Red1 d4 20.Re1 [Mission accomplished! 20.exd4 Nxd4 21.Nxd4 cxd4 (threat …d3) 22.Re1 Ng5! is very good for Black.] 20…Nxd2 21.Qxd2 a4?! (Tempting, but not the best. 21…c4 22.exd4 Rxe1+ 23.Qxe1 cxb3 24.d5 Na7 25.Ne5 is also far from clear, but Black should have prepared the simple line 21…dxe3 22.Rxe3 Rxe3 23.Qxe3 Nd4 when White’s tactics fail, for example 24.Ne5 Bxg2 25.Nd7 Qd8 26.Nxb8 Ba8 or 24.Re1 h6 25.Ne5 Bxg2 26.Nd7 Qd6 27.Nxb8 Bb7 and Black wins in both cases. Therefore, White would have to swap on d4, but this gives Black a slight advantage in the queen and rook ending.) 22.exd4 Rxe1+ 23.Qxe1? (This move justifies Black play. 23.Rxe1 axb3 24.Qe3 attacks e8 and c5, with a completely unclear position.) 23…axb3 (White is in a desperate situation and seizes the only available chance.) 24.d5 Nd4 25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Qe7? [26.Qb4! is the only move to stay in the game. 26…Qxb4 27.axb4 Rxb4 28.d6 Bxg2 29.d7 Rb8 30.Rxb3 Rd8 31.Kxg2 f5 (31…Kf8 32.Kf3 Rxd7 33.Ke4 regains the pawn) 32.Rb7 Kf7 33.Kf3 Ke6 34.Ke2 leads to a draw, so Black’s best line is 26…Qa7! 27.Qc4 Qxa3 28.Qxd4 b2 29.Be4 Qa2, although this only gives him a slightly better position.] 26…h6 (26…g6 is also reasonable, but there is no reason to criticise Black’s play yet.) 27.d6 Bxg2 28.Kxg2 Qc6+ 29.Kh3 [29.Kg1 looks bad, but after 29…b2 30.d7 the obvious methods do not work, for example 30…Qc1+ 31.Qe1 Qxe1+ 32.Rxe1 Kf8 (32…b1=Q 33.d8=Q+) 33.Kg2 d3 34.Kf3 d2 35.Rb1 Ke7 36.Ke2 and White defends. However, 30…Kh7! is very strong, with the deadly threat of 31…Qc1+ 32.Qe1 Qxe1+ 33.Rxe1 b1=Q 34.b1=Q and White’s promotion is not check.]

29…Rb7! (The best move since 29…Re8 achieves nothing after 30.Qc7!) 30.Rc1 Qf3 [The only way to stay in the game. 30…Qxc1 31.Qxb7! (not 31.Qe8+ Kh7 32.Qe4+ f5 33.Qxb7 b2 34.d7 b1=Q 35.Qxb1 Qxb1 36.d8=Q Qf1+ and Black wins) 31…Qf1+ 32.Kg4 Qe2+ 33.Kh3 Qe6+ 34.Kg2 Qxd6 35.Qxb3 is better for Black, but not a clear win, so Seirawan tries for more.] 31.Rc7 Rb8 32.d7 Kh7! (Seirawan plays very accurately, but these moves took a toll on his clock.) 33.Rc1 [Not 33.Qe8 Rxe8 34.dxe8=Q Qf5+ (34…b2? 35.Qb5) 35.Kg2 b2 36.Rxf7 Qd5+ and Black wins. The rook retreat looks like capitulation, but it sets Black the maximum problems.] 33…b2 34.Re1? [This should have lost instantly, but even the superior 34.Rf1 doesn’t last long after 34…Qf5+ 35.Kg2 Qd5+ 36.f3 (36.Kh3 d3 37.Qe8 Qe6+) 36…b1=Q 37.Rxb1 Rxb1 38.d8=Q Rb2+ 39.Kg1 Qxf3, mating.] 34…Qd5? (A poor move which makes the win much harder. 34…Qxf2! was the killer.) 35.Qe8 Qd6? (Black could have still won by 35…Qb5!, but by now the decision was going to be made by the clock.) 36.Rb1 Qb6?? (Seirawan plays for a win by inertia and as a result he loses. The best move was 36…Qe6+, heading for a draw.) 37.Qxf7 (Suddenly Black is in big trouble. His only chance is 37…Qg6, but the sudden reversal is too much for Black and he collapses.) 37…Qd8? 38.Qf5+ Kh8 39.Qe6 d3 40.Rxb2 1-0