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
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
You might not find it in a magazine. And you might not find it in a book. But there is a gambit that seems appropriate for Halloween. It is known as the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation (or FDV for short).
In this gambit (perhaps attack would be more descriptive), Black gives up a rook and a few pawns and then proceeds to gain control over a large portion of the board and threatens White’s queen in numerous ways.
Is it any good? Let’s check it (sorry, bad pun) out.
L. Janse-GM J. Hector Paskturneringen Open Sweden, Apr 20 2019 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.Nxb6 axb6 12.d3 (White wants to develop his Bc1. As events will show White will not have the time to develop this bishop. 12.Ne2 is the better choice.) 12…f4 13.Qf3 Nd4 14.Qd1 Bb7 15.Nf3 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Nf5 17.h4 Nxh4 18.Rh3 Qg5 19.Qe2 Bc5 20.Kd2 Qh5 21.Rxh4 Qxh4 22.Qxe5 Re8 23.Qb8+ Bc8 24.Bc4 Bb4+ 0-1
Ray Bott-Roger D de Coverly Match, Game 7 London, 1988 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.Qf3 Bb7 12.Qh3 Nd4 13.c3 Bg7?!
14.Bd1? (White has to play 14.cxd4 and while Black runs wild over the board with his pieces, he is doing so with one less piece. White’s sole developed piece, his queen, is stuck in the open and becomes a target. The end is swift.) 14…Ne6! 15.d3 Bxa8 16.Ne2 f4 17.Kf1 Ng5 18.Qh4 Nf5 0-1
He was born on this day, Sept. 10 1892. And for those of you who might not know, Balogh is on of those rare players who excelled at both Over The Board (OTB) chess and Correspondence Chess (CC).
He won the Romanian Championship in 1930 and played in numerous Hungarian Championships. In addition, he played in the Olympiads for both of these countries.
His playing strength is hard to determine precisely as World War 2 interrupted much of his play. But he was likely of as least of IM strength and probably never received the IM title for two reasons. One that The International Federation of Chess (Fédération Internationale des Échecs, or FIDE for short) didn’t start awarding International titles until 1950 and around that time, Balogh started correspondence chess.
He was awarded the International Master of Correspondence title in 1953 by the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF).
János Balogh was an expert in the openings as the following games show. He even had an opening named after him, although it is now considered unsound.
Which would make a king pawn opening. The position, however, may also arise by transposition from the Staunton Gambit against the Dutch Defense, 1.d4 f5 2.e4!? (which would make it a queen pawn opening).
The main drawback to this opening, however it may be labeled is weak e6-square, with or without a black pawn on it.
There are at least two good reasons why cell phones are not allowed in tournaments.
One is that, with the readily available chess programs/engines and texting availability on almost all cell phones, text messages can be sent with computer engineered moves either from the computer or from a co-conspirator (such as “play 10.Rae1, idiot!).
Back around 1990 I was participating in an OTB tournament and had a cassette player with earphones and listening to some inspiring music. I easily won the game.
But immediately after the game my opponent strolled over to the tournament director (TD) and told him that he suspected I was cheating. He complained that I could be listening to pre-recoded moves coming from my cassette player. I looked at my former opponent, and gave him a look that very much suggested, “you’ve got to be kidding”.
In the presence of both the ex-opponent and the TD, I took out the cassette and showed it to the TD. The TD was satisfied about the label on the cassette and was about to rule in favor. But my ever suspicious opponent claimed I could have erased the content of the tape and replaced with my voice saying, “1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 ..”.
I put back the cassette in the player and showed the TD how to play it. He did so and briefly listened to The Grand Illusion album by Styx. The TD smiled and then handed back the player back to me. And while I walked away, cleared of any wrongdoing, I noticed the TD slowly shaking his head.
Now let’s go to the second reason why cell phones are not allowed in tournament halls. The game was played on-line as there is a nasty virus going around.
(This is Moller Attack. The main line goes 9…Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6, reaching a well-known position. And too drawish in my opinion. I therefore played an offbeat and interesting move and found out after the game there is theory on it.) 9…Na5!? 10.bxc3 Nxc4 11.Re1
11…Nd6![A more-or-less thematic move in this variation. It (temporarily) puts a stop to White’s plans and Black doesn’t mind giving back some material, as long as he stays ahead. Side note: It’s nice while checking the game against a database to find out that a move that you found OTB is identical to one that a GM played. But let’s get back the game – I have yet to win the game.] 12.Qc2 O-O 13.Rxe4 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 Re8(White has a lead in development for some material. But he wastes tempi in his next few moves by trying for a quick mate.)15.Qg4?! d6 16.Qg3 Qf6 17.Bb2 Bd7 18.Rb1(Attempting to gain the momentum after 19.c4. But Black is ahead of him.)18…Qg6 19.Qxg6 hxg6 20.c4 Re2 21.Kf1 Rc2 22.c5 Rxc5 23.Rc1 Rxc1+ 24.Bxc1 Re8 25.Be3 Bb5+ 26.Ke1 (I’m contemplating about White’s possibility of taking the a6-pawn. Oh wait! Is the bishop pinned? I don’t think I need to worry about my a-pawn just yet. Is there a good move for Black here?)
(Ring!! The cell phone goes off!! Do I need to check the phone? And I know I must make a move as this is a speed game. I quickly figure that any move that doesn’t immediately lose should be OK.) 26…a6?(And I fell back into thinking my a-pawn is under attack. Black has the much better 26…Bc4! 27.Kd2 Bxd5 28.Bxa7? b6, which might let me finish the game and answer the call at the same time. But I missed this golden opportunity. So I decided to say, “hello”, keep my eye on the game, and tell the caller I will call her back in a few minutes – but not tell her I’m playing blitz chess.)27.Kd2 Bf1 28.g3 Bg2 29.Nd4(Back on track and everything going good so far. Then my caller asks me a question.)
29…Bh3? (Eek! Loss of concentration and loss of a free pawn and a tempo. Black has the better and obvious 29.Bxd5! I tell myself that at least I took some squares away from the knight, but I know that’s not the reason or issue. I had let my concentration drift again.)30.Nc2 Bg2 31.Nb4 a5 32.Nc2 Bxd5(Finally! Now White is lost. And I realize I have more time. Maybe Black also has a phone call??)33.a4 Bc6 0-1
Sometimes I get the questions, “How do you plan your moves or know what moves to play?” Or “How do you determine candidate moves and figure out which one is best?” This is good start.
Well, there are times in which the moves are obvious and can be played very quickly.
Under this category are:
1) Book Moves – Opening moves that are considered standard, so you don’t have to think about them. For example, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 represents the Nimzo-Indian Defence and is probably known by at least 90% of all players. The moves can be played quite quickly if both players want to get to that position.
2) Personal Preferences – Moves that a player has decided before the start of game he would like to play when facing a certain position. For example, in the King’s Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4), a player may have already decided he may go for the Bishop’s Gambit (3.Bc4), and can play that move instantly. A more experienced player might decide to come up with a new move in a certain position (also called Theoretical Novelty, or TN for short), and then play it to surprise his opponent.
3) Thematic Moves – It is well known that a rook belongs behind a pawn to assist in its promotion. Such thematic moves lessen the time in searching for the right move. Mostly used in speed games where time is limited.
If the moves are not obvious, then it is of great benefit to have a mental hierarchy of what constitutes a good, or even the best move in a certain position.
Here is my list:
1) Does my move, or a series of moves, produce or force a checkmate? If the answer is a yes, then there is no reason to consider anything else as a checkmate ends the game.
2) Does my move, or a series of a move, produce or force a material advantage?
I read somewhere that winning a queen gives a player at least a 98% of winning the game. Winning a rook is at least 96%. Don’t ask me where I got this information, it was something I read a long time ago, but it does seem to be accurate. Maybe someone should do a more complete study here.
3) Does advancing a piece create problems for my opponent? For example, in the Fried Liver attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5?! 6.Nxf7!) White’s sixth move causes confusion in Black’s position and he has to focus on staying alive. It is also a Book Move.
4) Does pushing a pawn cause a similar effect?
Rhee-Hinrichsen El Segundo, CA, 1969 [White’s eighth move causes chaos in Black’s position which climaxes in spectacular mating sequence.] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 (This sequence of opening moves is known as the Magnus Smith. The pawn advance is key here.) 8…Nd7 9.exd6 exd6 10.O-O Be7 11.Re1 O-O 12.Bh6 Re8 13.Qf3 d5 14.Nxd5 Bb7
5) How about on a board with less pieces? Does pushing a pawn increase the potential for queening? Best if a pawn move creates problems for my opponent and threaten to queen at the same time.
It is best to keep in mind that such moves are not played in isolation. The opponent has to make every other move. As such, one has to take into account that short of a forced mate, the opponent can, and usually will, be attacking as well. And one should also use the above list to check if his move, or series of moves, does not allow his opponent to counterattack with a more forceful move.
For example, if I make my move, does this allow my opponent to checkmate me? Can he win material if I was to make this certain move? Etc.
Suddenly, the planning gets complicated. One must now plan, studying, think, and sweat. And you are lucky, the best move, or at least a serious candidate move, will spring out from your labors.
Caruana was born this day in 1992 (July 30) in Miami, Florida. He moved to Italy in 2005 but returned to the United States when he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 2014.
He claims dual citizenship of Italy and the United States.
He played his first tournament at the young age of five at the Polgar Chess Center in the appropriately named in Queens borough in New York.
Caruana earned his grandmaster in 2007, at the age of 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days—the youngest grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States at the time.
He won the Italian National Championship in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 and the US Championship in 2016.
He is the third American to play in the (OTB) World Championship (after Marshall and Fischer), losing the playoff to Magnus Carlsen after drawing the match 6–6 (2018).
Here are some games from the amazing GM.
GM Fabiano Caruana-GM Emanuel Berg Dresden Ol. Germany, Nov. 20 2008 [Escalante] [The first sacrifice is easy to find, the immediate second one is not so easy. Both require a belief that one’s attack must be successful.] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.Qe2 O-O 10.O-O b6 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Rad1
[12.Bxf6 leads only to a draw. Kleeschaetzky-M. Mueller, Bundesliga, Oberliga Nord, Germany, 2001 continued with 12…gxf6 13.Bxh7+ Kxh7 14.Qe4+ f5 15.Qh4+ Kg7 16.Qg5+ Kh7 17.Qh5+ Kg7 18.Qg5+ Kh7 1/2-1/2.]
12…Qc7 13.Ne5 Rfd8 14.Kh1! (More common is 14.Rfe1. The text move allows the rook to use the f-file.) 14…Be7 15.Rde1 h6 16.Bh4 Nd5 17.Bg3 Bd6 18.Qe4 Nf6 19.Qh4 Nd7?!
20.Nxf7! Kxf7 21.Rxe6!! Nc5 22.Rxd6 Rxd6 23.Qf4+ Ke7 24.Re1+ Kd7 (Stronger is 24…Ne6. Now White wins by a series of pins.) 25.Bb5+ Bc6 26.Qf5+ Ne6 27.Bxd6 Qxd6 28.Rxe6 (And now if 28…Qd1+, 29.Re1+ wins.) 1-0
GM Fabiano Caruna (2652)-GM Konstantin Landa (2664) Torneo di Capodanno Reggio Emilia, Italy, June 1 2010 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Be6 9.O-O-O Qd7 (9…O-O is an alternative but Black doesn’t have to commit just yet.) 10.Kb1 (Caruna likes to tuck his king in for safety before doing anything aggressive.) 10…Bf6 11.h4 (Just in case Black decides castles on that side.) 11…h6?! (The h6-pawn is now a potential weakness and target.) 12.Nd4! Nxd4 (If Black castles on the queenside, then White has the annoying 13.Bb5. Black has problems castling on either side!) 13.Bxd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 O-O (Finally, Black castles. But he still has the same weaknesses.) 15.Rg1! (Obvious and good!) 15…Rae8 16.g4 (The purpose of 15.Rg1.) 16…Qc6 17.Bg2 Qa6 18.b3 Bd7 19.g5 h5 (A good defensive move. But does Black want to keep defending?) 20.g6! Re7 21.Bd5 Be6 22.Rde1 c5 (Black doesn’t have resources to defend adequately.) 23.Qd1 Rfe8 24.Qxh5 fxg6
GM F. Caruana-GM B. Gelfand Zurich Chess Challenge Switzerland, Mar. 1 2013 [Notes based on: Zura Javakhadze, en.chessbase.com/post/zurich-r6-caruana-wins-by-a-full-point-040313] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 (Again Catalan. It was the most played opening in this tournament.) 4…Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Bf4 b6 10.Rd1 Bb7 11.Ne5 (11.Nc3 is the main line.) 11…Nh5 12.Bd2 Nhf6 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Nc6 Bxc6 15.Qxc6
15…Qb8 [An interesting novelty! 15…Rc8 is the most played line. 16.Qb5 Nb8 17.e3 Ne8 18.Be1 Nd6 19.Qe2 Nc6 20.Nc3 Bf6 21.Rac1 Qd7 (1/2-1/2 Mchedlishvili,M (2651)-Alekseev,E (2683)/ Germany 2012/CBM 151 (35).
Since this game was played, Gelfand’s novelty has proven to be more ineffective.
16.Qc2 b5 17.Qd3 b4 18.Be1 Qb6 19.Nd2 (Fabiano’s reaction on Gelfand’s novelty was probably the most natural.) 19..a5 20.Rac1 Rac8 21.e3 e5 (It looks like Boris missed his opponent’s next move. 21…Rfd8 looks more solid. But after 22.Bf1 White is better, due to the bishop pair.) 22.Bh3 Rc7 (22…e4 23.Qb3 +/=. In the late endgame Black’s central pawns might become a target of attack, this gives White very pleasant prospects.) 23.Bxd7 Nxd7 24.dxe5 Nxe5 (Gelfand activated his pieces but in my opinion, it hardly compensates a pawn.) 25.Qxd5 Rfc8 26.Nb3 Nc4 27.Rd4 Qa6 28.Rf4 Bf6 29.Qd3 Qe6 30.Re4 Qd6 31.Re8+! (Caruana simplifies the position in a nice tactical way and remains with an extra pawn.) 31…Rxe8 32.Qxd6 Nxd6 33.Rxc7 a4 34.Nc5 b3 35.axb3 axb3 36.Rc6 Bxb2 37.Nxb3 (37.Rxd6?! Ba3 38.Rb6 Bxc5 39.Rxb3. Knights on the board are obviously favorable for White.) 37…Ne4 38.Kg2 h5 39.f3 Ng5 40.Bf2 (The second time control has arrived and the Italian shows very high endgame technique.) 40…g6 41.Nc5 Ne6 42.Ne4 Bg7 43.Rb6 Ra8 44.h3 Ra2 45.f4 Ra5 46.Kf3 g5 47.Rb8+ Kh7 48.Nd6 f5 49.Rb6 g4+ 50.hxg4 fxg4+ (50…hxg4+ was the best try for survival.) 51.Kg2 Nc5 52.Nb7 (White has two connected pawns, so knights are no longer necessary on the board.) 52…Nxb7 53.Rxb7 Ra4 54.Rb6 Re4 55.Kf1 h4? (White is very close to victory but this move makes his task much easier.) 56.gxh4 g3 57.Bg1! Bh6 58.Kg2 (A very convincing victory by the Italian prodigy!) 1-0
Martin Severin From (Apr. 8 1828-May 6 1895), an English player, came up with an intriguing gambit to deal with Bird’s opening (1.f4). It has proven to be so popular that it now the most common response to 1.f4 and is played in blitz chess, OTB games, and correspondence games.
But why this gambit so popular after 150 years? For one, it can lead to a quick mate for Black. Second, even if the game does not end in a quick mate, the initiative can quickly pass to Black. And all for the price of a pawn.
Many players have studied From’s Gambit and contributed to the it’s theory. It’s a labor of love, and because it’s chess, it is a complicated and forever friendship. Some players actually do fall in love with this opening.
Here is one of the earliest games played by it’s creator.
Mollastrom-From Copenhagen, 1862 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e4 Ng4 6.g3? (White falls into a thematic trap of the From’s.)
6…Nxh2! 7.Rxh2 Bxg3+ 8.Ke2 Bxh2 9.Nxh2 f5 10.Bg2 fxe4 11.Bxe4 Qh4 12.Qh1 O-O 13.Bd5+ Kh8 14.Qg1 Qh5+ 15.Bf3 Rxf3 16.Nxf3 Bg4 17.d3 Nc6 18.Bf4 Rf8 19.Bg3 Rxf3 20.Ke1 Qh6 21.Nc3 Nb4 0-1 Let’s look at some problems and early traps that can trouble and entrap White.
[White does not need to accept the offered pawn. He can play 2.f4 and the game is now a King’s Gambit. Which is another opening White having to learn. In any case, he is no longer playing a Bird’s. Or he can attempt other moves. But declining the gambit, unless it’s 2.f4, usually backfires.
Klaus Bernhard-F. Felgentreu Bundeswehr Ch. Stetten, 1988 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.g3 f5 6.e3 Qf6 7.Nc3 Ne7 8.Bc4 h5 9.Rf1 h4 10.g4 fxg4 11.Ne4 Qg7 12.Nfxg5 Bxh2 13.Nf6+ 1-0 [But 5…h5, applying more pressure on White’s kingside, seems to work to keep the balance, with Black still having a slight advantage in the Initiative department and White still keeping his extra pawn.]
Guischard-Gedult Paris, 1972 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Ng4 6.Nc3 Bxh2 7.Bg5 Bg3+ 8.Kd2 f6 9.Bh4 Nf2 10.Qc1 Nxh1 0-1 [He can play 5.g3, which is more complicated, but still equal in chances.]
When I was in High School, and just beginning to understand the theories of chess, an old man came to visit us at the table. This episode probably then happened a park.
He watched with some intensity, as I and my opponent were engrossed in our game. After the game ended (I think I won), he asked, almost with a sneer, “so what is the difference between checkers and chess?”
I didn’t exactly why he was asking this question. But I gave him my best answer and replied, “Chess is more complicated”.
With that, the old turned around and departed. Maybe he thought I was rude and me being a male teenager, that may be true. Or is because he didn’t expect the conversation to go that way. Or he may have thought he has interacting with younger teens (after all, when I was 14 I could still pass for a 12 year-old).
So, I got to thinking, what are differences between chess and checkers. And I drew up a list. Which I promptly lost. But I remember most of it. And now with the magic of the Internet, and blogging in particular, here is my list (corrected for spelling and grammar).
WHAT IS THE SAME
The boards are identical in size (8 x 8).
Each board has 64 squares.
A man moving to the 8th rank is promoted.
It is a game usually played by only two competitors.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT
Checkers is played on a red and black board. Chess is typically played on a white and black board.
In checkers, each player starts with only 12 men. In chess, each player starts with 16 men.
In checkers, all the men look the same, move the same way, and are of equal value. In chess, the pieces look different, move differently, and are worth different values.
In checkers, Black moves first. In chess, White moves first.
In checkers, a man reaching the 8th rank can only be promoted to a King. In chess, a man reaching the 8th rank can be promoted to a Queen, a Rook, a Bishop, or a Knight. But never to a King.
In checkers, players use only 32 squares of the board. In chess, both players use all 64 squares.
In checkers, players may only move their men diagonally. In chess, players may move their pieces diagonally, forward, backwards, and horizontally.
In checkers, a player captures a man by jumping over them. In chess, a player can capture a man by occupying their place on the board.
In checkers, only a king can move backwards. In chess, Knights, Bishops, Rooks, Queens, and Kings can move backwards. Pawns are the only units that may only move forward.
In chess, there are rules for en passant and castling. No such rules exist for checkers.
In checkers, captures are mandatory. In chess, players may decline a capture.
In checkers, openings are decided by lot. In chess, opening play is determined by the players.
And for us chess enthusiasts:
Chess has a high cultural value. People equate us chess players as possessing great intelligence, a fantastic memory, and in its purest form; grace.
It is possible to be a prodigy in math, music, or chess.
Frank Brady wrote “Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy”.
Wikipedia has an article titled, “Chess Prodigy”.
No checkers player has ever been known or labeled as a prodigy.