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.
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.
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
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.
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
Back in the 1970s GM Soltis popularized the opening moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2. He called it the Chameleon Sicilian as White has option of going into the Closed Sicilian with d3 and g3, or of transposing into the main line of the open Sicilian after .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4.
The opening can quickly transpose into one of the many lines of the Open Sicilian.
IM Soltis-Williams Marshall Futurity New York, Dec. 1979 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2!? (The game soon transposes into a version of the Dragon.) 3…e6 4.g3 g6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 a6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Qc7 9.f4 f6 10.Ne4 fxe5 11.fxe5 Qxe5 12.Bg2 Bh6 13.O-O d5 14.Qf3 Qd4+ 15.Kh1 dxe4 16.Qf7+ Kd8 17.c3 Qd7 18.Bg5+ Bxg5 19.Rad1 Bd2 20.Qf8+ Qe8 21.Qd6+ Bd7 22.Rf8 e3 23.Bxc6 Qxf8 24.Qxd7+ 1-0
Gi Su I-Valentin Lyaskovsky Russian Cup Vladivostok, Sept. 18 2012 1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 Nc6 3.Nbc3 Nd4 4.f4 g6 5.g3!? Nf3+ 6.Kf2 (White’s move is forced and his king is safe for the moment. But he gets in the way of his kingside pieces; the ones that are supposed to protect him.) 6…Nd4 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.d3 h5 9.Be3 h4 10.e5 Nh6 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.Bxd4 d6 13.Nd5 dxe5 14.Bc3 Be6 15.Ne3 Qb6 16.Qf3? (This loses in a hurry. Better is 16.Ke2.) 16…h3! 17.Bf1 Bd5 18.Qxd5 Ng4+ 19.Kf3 Qxe3+ 20.Kxg4 Rh5 21.fxe5 f5+ 22.exf6 Rxd5 23.fxg7 O-O-O 24.Re1 Rg5+ 25.Kxh3 Qf3 26.Re4 Rh5+ 0-1
One independent line, which may look weak at first, is 3.Nge2 e5!? White certainly can occupy the center with Nd5, but Black isn’t going away – his position is solid.
One of my main interests of study of chess is underpromotion, the reasons why such an underpromotion is not only possible, but of necessity.
The most common underpromotion is that to a knight, which makes up over 90% of all such underpromotions (the other two are rook and bishop, in that order of popularity).
If player has to underpromote to a knight the most probable explanation is that he is trying to prevent a fork, check, skewer, or pin by his opponent.
This has happened in Master chess. But only rarely. And even rarer is when it happens more than once during a game.
Here is a delightful example.
Zurakhov-Koblenc USSR Ch., 1/2 Final Tbilisi, 1956 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.Nf3 b6 8.Bc4 Bb7 9.Qe2 c6 10.O-O (10.O-O-O is ECO’s suggestion.) 10…Nd7 11.a4 f5?! 12.Ng3 Kf8 (Obviously Black doesn’t want to castle kingside. But the text is not any better.)
13.Bxe6! fxe6 14.Qxe6 Nf6 15.Nxf5 Bc8 16.Qe5 Bxf5 17.Qxf5 Qd5 18.Qf4 (>18.Ne5!) 18…Rg8 19.Rae1 Rg4 20.Qh6+ Kg8 21.Rxe7 Qxf3 22.g3 Rg6 23.Qh3 Qg4 24.Qxg4 Rxg4 25.c3 Re4 26.Rxe4 Nxe4 27.Re1 Re8 28.f3 Nd6 29.Rxe8+ Nxe8 30.Kf2 Nd6 31.b3 b5 32.Ke3 bxa4 33.bxa4 Nc4+ 34.Ke4 Kf7 35.d5 c5 36.f4 a5 37.f5 Nb6 38.d6 Ke8 39.f6 Kf7?! (Black missing 39…Nxa4!) 40.Ke5 Nd7+ 41.Kd5 Kxf6 42.g4 c4 43.Kc6 Ke6 44.g5 Nf8 45.h4 Nd7 46.h5 Ne5+ 47.Kc7 Kf5 48.Kb6 Ke6! (48…Kxg5? 49.Kxa5 and Black’s king and knight separated and White’s pawns will rapidly advance.) 49.Kxa5 Kxd6 50.Kb6 Nd7+ 51.Kb5 Kc7 52.Kxc4 Ne5+ 53.Kd5 Nf3 54.g6 hxg6 55.hxg6?! (After 55.h6! Ng5, the kingside is locked up and White can concentrate on the queenside with moves like 56.c4.) 55…Nh4 56.g7 Nf5
57.g8=N (This knight underpromotion is to prevent a fork that follows after 57.g8=Q? Ne7+, winning the queen and White is also down a pawn.) 57…Kb6 58.Kc4 Ne3+ 59.Kb3 Nd5 60.c4 Nc7 61.Nf6 Ne6 62.Ne4 Nc7 63.Nf2 Ne6 64.Nd3 Nd4+ 65.Kc3 Ne2+ 66.Kb4 Nd4 67.c5+ Ka6 68.Kc4 Nf5 69.Kd5 Kb7 70.Nb4 (70.c6+? Kc7 with the idea of Ne7+, equalizing.) 70…Ne3+ 71.Kd4 Nf5+ 72.Kc4 Ne3+ 73.Kb5 Kc7 74.a5 Nf5 75.Nd5+ Kb7 76.c6+ Ka7 77.c7 Kb7 (The White knight is keeping the Black’s knight out of play.) 78.a6+ Ka7
79.c8=N+ (Another knight promotion for the same reason. 79.c8=Q? Nd6+, and White is going to find winning the game an extremely hard thing to do. It should also be mentioned that 79.Kc5!! also wins. But the second knight promotion is so beautiful!) 79…Kb8 80.Kb6 (White now threatens 81.a7! , winning the game with his last pawn.) 1-0
Computers are usually thought of being logical, unemotional, not given to either having or displaying emotions. This is the pervading opinion of the general public. That is, unless you’ve watched 2001, A Space Odyssey.
But do computers have emotions? Do they feel joy when they win? Do they fear an opponent? How about a simple move?
Lets’ take a look at the following game:
DEEP FRITZ 8 (2462)-SQUASH 1 v. 1.35 (1962) Computer game, 2005 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Bc4 d5?!
[In this variation of the Scheveningen, Black has a number of responses, some good, and some that should be avoided. The text is considered borderline and is rarely seen. Here is another response, equally borderline.
21…Qxc2+!? (You might reasonably conclude that SQUASH either panicked or made an incredibly insane blunder. But computers, by definition, cannot be insane, nor can they panic. Here is what SQUASH probably saw: 21…Ne6 22.Qg4+ Ng5 23.Qxc8#. And 21…Qe6 loses to 22.Qe6+! Qxe6 23.Re8#. With the queen sacrifice, Black lives a move longer. See, the computer is not so insane after all!) 22.Kxc2 Ne6 23.Qg4+ Ng5 24.Qc8mate 1-0
(1) Team A and Team B are playing in a team tournament. All teams have four players on their team. This is so that all teams involved a match have an equal number of white and black on the boards.
Team A is considered a favorite to win the event while Team B will probably finish in the middle of the tournament.
A few moves into the match, it is becoming obvious that Team B is simply copying moves from Team A. Team A player would play 1.e4 on board 1 and then the player on Team B would copy the move on board 2. After a few moves identical position would appear on boards on and two. And a different, but identical position would appear on boards 3 and 4.
You are the captain of Team A. What do you do?
And now you are the Tournament Director (TD). The incident has come to your attention. What do you do?
(2) At another tournament Player 1 refuses to play another player because he is Black. Of you want, the second player is gay, a woman, a person in a wheelchair, a Christian (he is wearing a crucifix), an atheist, a Communist (he is wearing a red shirt), or he can speak Spanish).
You are the second player. What you do?
You are the TD. You are convinced that above is true because player 1 has exclaimed, “I refuse to play my opponent because he is Black (or gay, a woman, etc.)” Again, what do you do?
(3) You are a TD in a big money tournament in the United States. One of the players brings out his cell phone and places it on the table. He tells you it is for music, he likes listening to music when playing. And then puts on his earphones.
Most of us have played the King’s Gambit, and some of us still do. It’s a good opening to learn tactics and, occasionally, strategies. The majority of the games start with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3. Black can continue with 3…g5 and try to hold on his extra pawn, or play for his own attacking possibilities.
A rarer response is 3.Bc4, known as the Bishop Gambit. This variation allows White to explore relatively unknown territory.
Black usually counters with 3…Qh4+ moving the king, preventing White from castling, and isolating the h1-rook for at least the time being. But a queen check rarely ends the game. Black needs more active pieces to start any attack. He can try, after 3.Bc4 Qh4 4.Kf1, with 4…d5 and 4…Nf6, both leading to strong tactical play.
But perhaps the stronger reply is also the rarest. Black can play 4…b5!? The idea is since Black is up a pawn, he can give one up and still be of material equality and can even gain a tempo if White plays 5.Bxb5 (which is the most common move). And the extra tempo comes when Black plays 5…Bb7. This puts the bishop on the long diagonal to the white king, unable to castle.
Does this mean the Black wins? Not by a long shot! White has a lot of momentum built up, just waiting for Black to slip.
Here is the Immortal Game!
Anderssen-Kieseritzky London, 1851 [The “Immortal Game”] [Chernev, 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, #945 ; Tartkower, 500 Master Games of Chess, #227 ; Seirawan+Minev, Take My Rooks, pg. ix-xi] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6
[It is a toss-up whether the immediate 5…Bb7 or 5…Nf6, delaying the Bb7 until the knight is better positioned.
Here are two games with 5…Bb7.
Harrwitz-Kieseritzky London, 1847 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Bb7 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.d3 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Nf6 9.Nf3 Qh5 10.Rb1!? g5!? (Black attacks on the side which the White king resides.) 11.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 12.Rxb7 O-O 13.Rb5 c5 14.d4 Nxe4 15.dxc5 Nxc3 16.Qxd7 Rad8 17.Qf5 Rd1+ 18.Kf2 Rxh1 19.Bb2 Nd1+ 20.Ke2 Nxb2 21.Rxb2 Rxh2 22.Kf2 g4 23.Qxh5 Rxh5 24.Nd4 Rxc5 25.Rb4 Rd8! (White cannot set up an adequate defence.) 26.Ne2 Rxc2 27.Kf1 Rd1+ 28.Kf2 Rdd2 29.Re4 f5 30.Re5 h5 -+
7…Nh5 (Here again 7…g5 is a more natural way of defending the gambit pawn. – Tartakower ; Glazkov and Estrin recommend 7…Bc5!? 8.d4 Bb6, we suggest 7…Be7!? followed by 8…Nh5 or 8…O-O. – Seirawan+Minev) 8.Nh4 [A subtle guard against 8…Ng3+, but 8.Kg1 (or 8.Kf2) would be a blunder on account of 8…Qb6+, followed by …Qxb5. – Tartakower] 8…Qg5 [This simultaneous assault on two pieces proves illusory. Better would be 8…g5 9.Nf5 Qg6. – Tartakower ; According to Kieseritzky, the decisive mistake. He recommends 8…g6! and if 9.g4 (9.g3 Be7) Nf6 10.Ng2 Qh3 11.Bxf4 Nxg4 with advantage for Black. – Seirawan+Minev] 9.Nf5 c6?! [In our opinion, this is the decisive error. Better was 9…g6 10.h4 Qf6!? (Not 10…Ng3+ 11.Ke1! Qf6 12.Nxg3 fxg3 13.Qe2, obviously to White’s advantage – Kieseritzky), when Black is still kicking. – Seirawan+Minev] 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6 13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 (Threatening to win the Queen by 15.Bxf4, as well as 15.e5 attacking the Rook with his Queen while his King Pawn bites at the Knight. – Chernev) 14…Ng8 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 (Black seeks salvation in a counter-attack. Steadier, however, would be 16…Bb7 – Tartakower) 17.Nd5! Qxb2
18.Bd6! (“Ganz grossartig gespielt” says Gottschall. – Chernev) 18…Bxg1 [If 18…Qxa1+ 19.Ke2 Qxg1 20.Nxg7+ Kd8 21.Bc7# If 18…Bxd6 19.Nxd6+ Kd8 20.Nxf7+ Ke8 21.Nd6+ Kd8 22.Qf8# – Chernev ; Some confusion exists here. Several authors (e.g. Chernev in “1000 Best Short Games of Chess” and Glazkov, Estrin in Korolevsky Gambit, 1988) give the move order as 18…Bxg1 19.e5 Qxa1. We used the text from “Encyclopedia of Chess Games” and other sources that we felt more authentic. – Seirawan+Minev] 19.e5! (Have another Rook! – Chernev) 19…Qxa1+ (A slight chance of a draw is afforded by 19…Qb2, etc. – Tartakower) 20.Ke2 (With a renewed threat of 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Bc7# – Tartakower) 20…Na6 (Defending against 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Bc7#, but the final blow comes from the other side. – Seirawan+Minev] 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+! Nxf6 23.Be7mate 1-0 [White has given up a Queen, two Rooks, and a Bishop for one single, miserable Pawn (and mate, the cynic might point out.). – Chernev ; A forced mate by three minor pieces against the full array of the black pieces. – Tartakower]
My copy of Clarke’s 100 Soviet Miniatures came last week. And I had this long weekend to play over many of the games. Here is what I found.
First, the book is in Descriptive Notation (DN), not Algebraic Notation (AN). I knew this before as I have old copies of the British Chess Magazine (BGM), where the games first appeared in a series of articles titled, “Soviet Miniatures”. But I am mentioning this as many younger players are not familiar with DN and will find the games hard to follow. I translated the following games into AN, but obviously not the entire book.
Secondly, Clarke separated his collection into several thematic chapters such as “Queen Sacrifices”, “The Object is Mate”, and “King in the Centre”. That makes it easy to find games that fit your favorite style of attacking.
And finally, there are an incredible number of Sicilians. Of course, the Sicilian is well known to be a sharp opening. Still, there thirty-five (35) Sicilians in the book. Which comes out to 35%, a rather large percentage. The situation is not helped by the fact that one of chapters is titled, “Sicilicide”.
But it is an enjoyable book.
And now, onto the games!
Rubenchik-Kanayan Russian Ch., ½ Finals, 1957 [Clarke, 100 Soviet Miniatures, #6] 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.Bc4 Na5 (A natural move but not a very good one. Better is 9… Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6, as Black need not fear the doubling of his e-pawn.) 10.Bb3 Bd7 (Too passive. … Probably he should have tried 10…a6 and if 11.Bh6, then 11…e5 12.Nde2 Be6.) 11.Bh6 Rc8 12.h4 Nc4 13.Bxc4 Rxc4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.h5! e5 16.Nde2 Nxh5 (This is suicide. The only way to continue was 16… Be6 17.g4 Qe7 18.hxg6 fxg6.) 17.g4 Nf6 18.Qh6+ Kg8 19.g5 Nh5 20.Rxh5 gxh5 21.Nd5 f5 22.g6 hxg6 (All Black’s moves ae forced.) 23.Qxg6+ Kh8 24.O-O-O 1-0
Raush-Muratov Kazakhstan Ch. Karaganda, May 30 1958 [Clarke, 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures, #42] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng8 9.Bd4 f6 (A better defence is 9…c5 10.Bxc5 Qc7 11.Bd4 Bxe5. The text move results in a weakening of Black’s pawn formation.) 10.f4 Qa5 (If 10…d5 11.exd6 Qxd6 White can play 12.Qf3! with advantage. Posting the Queen on f3, where it continually hits at c6 is an ever-recurring motif in this variation, as it will be seen.) 11.e6! d6 [If 11…dxe6, White intends 12.Qf3! Bd7 (or 12…Bb7 13.Bc4) 13.O-O-O followed by Bc4 and Rhe1, when Black would find it hard to defend all his weak spots. 11…d5 could be met by 12.f5! consolidating the advanced pawn (12…gxf5? 13.Qh5+, etc.).] 12.Qf3 Bb7 13.Bd3 Rb8
14.b4! Qxb4? [This leads to summary defeat. He had to play 14…Qc7 (the Queen is dubiously placed after 14…Qa3 15.Qe3!), upon White could maintain his advantage (consisting of easier development and greater command of space by 15.Qe3.] 15.Rb1 Qxd4 (A good as forced, for 15…Qxd4 permits Rxb7, etc. The susceptibility to attack of the point c6 has already been illustrated several times; but never so forcibly as in the following play.) 16.Qxc6+!! Kf8 17.Rxb7 Rd8 (A terrible blunder would be 17…Re8? 18.Qxe8!) 18.Qc7 Re8 19.Rb8 Qe3+ 20.Kd1 Qxe6 21.Rxe8+ Kxe8 22.Bb5+ Kf8 23.Qb8+ 1-0
Vasiukov-Giterman USSR Ch., 12 Finals Odessa, 1960 [Clarke, 100 Soviet Miniatures, #76] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.c3 f5 (The Cordel Variation of the Classical Defence. Like the Schliemann, it is suspected of being too loosening.) 5.d4 (Of the several alternatives here 5.Bxc6 is perhaps the simplest and best.) 5…fxe4 (Also playable is 5…exd4.) 6.Ng5 (At this stage 6.Bxc6 is usual; after 6…dxc6 7.Nxe5 Bd6 8.O-O! the position is considered to favour White. The text move poses certain new problems, and they are not solved by Black’s play here!) 6…Be7 7.dxe5! (A surprise. Black discovers that 7…Bxg5 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxg5 Qxg5 10.Bxg5 Nxe5 is answered by 11.Bf4 and 12.Bxc7 with a better ending for White. So he decides to take the e-pawn straightaway – while he can!) 7…Nxe5?? 8.Ne6! 1-0
GM Alexander Tolush-Lev Aronson USSR Ch. Moscow, 1957 [Clarke, 100 Soviet Miniatures, #28] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.cxd5 (This is not thought to be the best, since it helps Black to bring out his pieces rapidly. Both 3.Nc3 and 3.Nf3 are preferred and in both cases White can count on some positional advantage.) 3…Qxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4? (A typical maneuver in this defence, but quite wrong here. Correct is 4…e5! 5.Nc3 Bb4 and Black has achieved his goal: active play for his pieces – and more, equality in the centre.) 5.Nc3 Qa5 (Nor is 5…Qd7 very good, e.g. 6.d5 Bxf3 7.exf3 Ne5 8.Bf4 and the threat of 9.Bb5 is decisive.) 6.d5 O-O-O 7.Bd2 Bxf3 [Helping White still further by developing his f1-bishop for him. However, the position was already hopeless; for example, 7…Nb4 8.e4 Qb6 (or 8…e6 9.a3 Na6 10.Na4, etc.) 9.Rc1 with a winning attack.] 8.exf3 Nb4 [Or 8…Ne5 9.Rc1 Qb6 10.Be3 Qxb2 (10…c5 11.Na4 Qa5+ 12.Bd2! or 10…Qa5 11.a3!) 11.Nb5 again with a winning position.] 9.a3 Nxd5 (Aronson resigns himself to loss of material at once; but as we have seen, the threats were not to be denied for long, e.g. 9…Na6 10.b4 Qb6 11.Be3, etc.) 10.Na4! 1-0 [At best he can reach a lost ending by 10…Nb6 11.Bxa5 Rxd1+ 12.Rxd1 Nxa4 13.Bb5 Nb6 (not 13…Nxb2 14.Rd2) 14.Bxb6 axb6 (or 14…cxb6 15.Rc1+ Kd8 16.Ke2!) 15.Bd7+ Kb8 16.Be6!]
Clarke may not have known that this game is an exact duplicate of Alekhine-Nenarokov, Moscow, 1907. Then again, there was no Soviet Union at that time, only Russia.