Today is Andy Soltis’ birthday!
Born on May 28, 1947 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, his contributions to chess has been enormous.
For those of you might have been hiding under a rock since 1980, he’s a prolific author, frequent contributor to Chess Life, and even made into the world’s elite of chess, earning his IM title in 1974 followed by a GM title in 1980.
Let’s go over some of his games first.
IM Andrew Soltis-GM Miguel A Quinteros
Cleveland, May 5 1975
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a4 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.f4 Qc7 9.O-O Nc6 10.Be3 (Both White and Black have solid positions. But White has more space which translates into greater coordination, mobility and freedom for his pieces. That is more than enough for White to have the advantage.) 10…Bd7 11.Qe1 O-O 12.Qg3 Rab8 13.Kh1 Kh8 14.Bf3 g6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.e5 Ne8 17.Ne4 d5 18.Ng5 Rxb2 19.Qh4 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 Ng7 21.Bc5 Re8 22.Be7 Kg8 23.Bf6 Reb8 24.Bg4 Ne8 25.Be7 Qc8 26.Ra3 Rb1 27.Bd1 a5 28.Qh6 Ng7 29.Rh3! 1-0
Edward Westing-GM Andrew Soltis
Bermuda, Feb. 1 2002
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 c5 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.e5 Nc6 7.h3
[White has also tried :
7.Be2 Nh6 8.O-O O-O 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 e6 12.Bg4 Qb6 13.Be3 Qxb2 14.Na4 Qa3 15.Nc5 b6 16.Nd7 Rfd8 17.Nf6+ Bxf6 18.exf6 Nf5 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.g4 Qd6 21.Qd2 fxg4 22.hxg4 Qxf6 23.Bg5 Qf3 24.Bxd8 Qxg4+ 25.Kh2 Rxd8 0-1 [Svoboda-Dobrovolsky (2387), Monravia Team Ch., 2000]
7.Nbd2 Nc6 8.h3 Bf5 9.Bb5 Qb6 10.Qa4 Bd7 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.Qa3 Bb5 13.Nb3 Qc6 14.Qc5 Qd7 15.Bd2 b6 16.Qc2 Rc8 17.Qd1 f6 18.Rc1 Kf7 19.Rxc8 Qxc8 20.Qc1 Qf5 21.Kd1 Nh6 22.Re1 Rc8 23.Bc3 Kg8 24.Qe3 Nf7 25.e6 Nd8 26.Kd2 Rc6 27.g4 Qxe6 28.Qf4 Qd7 29.h4 Re6 30.Re3 Rxe3 31.fxe3 Ne6 32.Qg3 Qc7 33.Qg2 Qc4 34.Nc1 Nd8 35.b3 Qc6 36.a4 Ba6 37.Na2 Bc8 38.Nb4 Qd6 39.Nd3 a5 40.g5 Bf5 41.Nfe1 Nf7 42.Nf4 fxg5 43.hxg5 e6 0-1 [Sequera (2378)-Macieja (2615), Ann Open, Curacao, Nov. 2 2002]
7…Nh6 8.Bb5 O-O 9.O-O Nf5 10.Nc3 Bd7 11.Nxd5 Nxe5! 12.dxe5 [Or 12.Bxd7 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Qxd7 14.Be3 Rfd8 15.Nc3 Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bxd4 17.Rad1 Qc6 18.Qxc6 bxc6 19.Rfe1 e5 20.Rc1 (-1.39 Stockfish)] 12…dxe5 Bxb5 13.Re1 Bc6 14.Nb4 Qxd1 15.Rxd1 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Bxe5 -+ 17.Rd5 Bd6 18.Bd2 Rfd8 19.Bc3 a5 20.Rxd6 Rxd6 21.Nc2 b6 22.Kg2 Rad8 23.Ne3 Nxe3+ 24.fxe3 Rd1 25.Rxd1 Rxd1 26.Kf2 f6 27.f4 Kf7 28.Kf3 Ke6 29.Bd4 b5 30.a3 Rf1+ 31.Kg2 Rb1 32.Kf3 Kd5 33.Bc3 a4! 0-1 (White can’t stop the Black king from entering on the queenside.)
Soltis didn’t confine himself to merely playing the game. An important variation in the Sicilian Dragon was named after him.
Let’s review the opening moves.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 (The main line in the Dragon. White usually castles queenside and attempts to storm Black’s castled kingside with his pawns and follow up with pieces. Sacrifices are common threats for both sides.) 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 (White has played this move to maintain and continue his threats of opening Black’s kingside. Experience has shown that Black usually ends up on the losing side if he allows White’s h-pawn to continue his advancement. So…) 12…h5!?
(Now White’s h-pawn is stopped. Does this mean Black is going to win? Not necessarily. Does it mean White is going to win? Not necessarily either. But it does mean White has to look for other way to infiltrate the kingside.)
Here is the inauguration of this variation.
Italy, Jan. 1 1971
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Rc8 11.h4 h5 12.O-O-O Ne5 13.Bg5 Nh7 14.Bh6 Bxh6 15.Qxh6 Rxc3 16.bxc3 Qa5 17.Kb1 Qxc3 18.Qd2 Qc5 19.Ne2 a5 20.Qd4 Qc7 21.Nc3 Nf6 22.a4 Rc8 23.Kb2 Be6 24.Rhe1 Kg7 25.f4 Nc6 26.Qd2 Nb4 27.Re3 Qb6 28.Qd4 Rc5 29.e5 dxe5 30.fxe5 Ng4 0-1
A good way to start off the New Year!
Here are two other games worthy of study.
S. Hwemp (2280)-K.D. Mueller (2445)
ICCF, 6/7 Cup, ½ Finals, 1990/1
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.O-O-O Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5 13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nde2 b5 16.Bh6 b4 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Nd5 Nxd5 19.exd5 Qa5 20.b3 Rc5 21.Qd4+ Kh7 22.g4
22…Rxc2! 23.Nc1? (23.Kxc2 Qxa2+ 24.Kd3 Bb5+ 25.Ke4 Qc2+ 26.Kf4 e5+ 27.dxe6 fxe6+) 23…Rfc8 24.Rhe1? Qa3 0-1
IM Alexander Khalifman (2530)-Stanislav Savchenko (2480)
Simferopol, Ukraine, 1988
[Don’t fret about the titles. Both players earned their GM titles a few years later; Khalifman in 1990 and Savchenko in 1993.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.h4 Ne5 11.Bb3 h5 12.O-O-O Rc8 13.Bh6 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Rxc3 15.bxc3 Qc7 16.Kb1 Rc8 17.g4 a5 18.gxh5 a4 19.Bd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Qxc3 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.Rhg1 Bf5 23.Nxf5 Qxc2+
(A situation in which neither Black nor White can win. But they both can lose. A draw is best for both players.) 1/2-1/2
GM Soltis also promoted another, lesser-known, variation, in the Sicilian. Entitled the “Chameleon Sicilian” it runs as:
1.e4 c5 2.Ne2!?
The point being it is impossible for Black to know what White is attempting to do. White can play the Closed Sicilian with 3.d3, 4.g3 and 5.Bg2. Or he can open the game up with: .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4 at any time. It’s especially troublesome for Dragon addicts.
Andy Soltis has written a weekly chess column for the New York Post since 1972 and a monthly column (“Chess to Enjoy”) for Chess Life since 1979.
In addition to his weekly and monthly columns, he has written several books including; The Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky (1973), Pawn Structure Chess (1976), Chess to Enjoy (1978), Karl Marx Plays Chess : And Other Reports on the World’s Oldest Game (1991), Soviet Chess 1917–1991 (1999), Bobby Fischer Rediscovered (2003), and many others.
His books are a mixture of games, analysis, and fresh observations on the opening and other aspects of play. His column, “Chess to Enjoy”, covers historical viewpoints, human interest stories, computer analysis (and sometimes their failings), and literary perspectives. He is known to use humor to illustrate important points.
For his chess writings, he was named “Chess Journalist of the Year” in 1988 and 2002 by the Chess Journalists of America.
Happy Birthday Andy Soltis!!