Two recent tactical shorts

Earlier this week I won two interesting, and quite fun, games.

Oh! – before I go on, I’ve got to mention that I won both games on the same day. I found two resignations on my cell phone when I woke up. Nice way to start the day!

My opponent likes to keep the position closed. So a gambit is the way to go!

Escalante (2020)-“PaulKaspar” (1907)
USCF Internal Championship, Spring 2020 (Round 4), Oct.-Nov. 2021

1.e4 c6 (The Caro-Kann, usually a safe response to 1.e4.) 2.d4 d5 3.f3 (The gambit is known as the Fantasy variation. Not only is it tactical, but there are many unexplored paths.) 3…e6 4.Nc3 dxe4 5.fxe4 Bb4 6.Bd3 Ne7?! (Black also has 6…Qxd4 7.Bd2 Nd7 8.Nf3 Qd6!? But I was willing to try this line as White has some open lines to play with.) 7.a3 Ba5 8.Nf3 Nd7 9.O-O O-O (Better is 9…O-O. The text move closes all attacking chances by Black. And White’s attack is still brewing.) 10.e5! c5?

11.Bxh7+! (Black loses quickly after 11…Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kg6 13.Qg4 f5 14.Qg3. His best, which only loses, is 11…Kh8 12.Ng5 Nxe5 13.Be3.) 1-0

Earlier this year I self-published 2000 Sozin Miniatures (3rd Edition) and 2000 Dragon Miniatures. I concluded, and stated in both books, that Black wastes time and can easily run into problems if he combines these two (separate) openings.

Escalante (2008)-“Tacktickle” (2111)
USCF Internal Championship, Spring 2020 (Round 4), Oct.-Nov. 2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 (OK – this is the Najdorf) 6.Bc4 (And this move makes this game into a Sozin Najdorf. Which doesn’t last long as Black attempts to make it into a main line Dragon.) 6…g6?! (This Najdorf Sozin-Dragon hybrid can cause Black to be on the defensive very quickly.) 7.Bb3 Bg7 8.Be3 O-O 9.f3 Nbd7 10.Qd2 (White continues to develop as if this game was a pure Dragon setup, a perfectly good response to the hybrid.) 10…Qc7 11.O-O-O Ne5 12.Bh6 Nc4? (Black has better with the counter-intuitive 12…Nc6, which at least keeps his center flexible.) 13.Bxc4 Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Qxc4 15.h4! (Opening up Black’s position by creating a pawn storm; a well-known thematic idea in the Dragon.) 15…Bd7 (> 15…Rc8) 16.h5! (The pawn now enters Black’s territory.) 15…Bc6 17.g4! Rfc8 18.g5 Nxh5 (This might be Black’s best move, but it runs into another thematic idea in the Dragon.)

19.Rxh5! gxh5 20.Nf5 1-0