A Well-Known Game

Of all the millions of chess games ever played, this game is perhaps the well-known and popular of all. Why? I’m glad you asked!

It’s because it features fast development, pins, forks, castling with gain of a tempo, a sacrifice of the exchange, a sacrifice of the knight, a sacrifice of the queen, and winning a miniature. It’s a lot of fun to play and to even fun to annotate.

But I can’t do a better job in fully annotating this game than Chernev or Sergeant. So I’ll just add a few notes and games to further illustrate the game and let them both have most of the fun.

 

Morphy-Count Brunswick+Isouard
Paris, 1858
[Chernev, 1000 Best Short Games, #441 ; Sergeant, “Morphy’s Games of Chess”, #LXXIX]
[Long considered a Morphy game, this game has far more value than a mere brilliancy. In all the vast literature of chess there is no game which equals this one in clear, simple instruction in basic principles. In seventeen moves we see such tactical themes as double attack, the pin, sacrifice of a Knight, Castling with gain of a tempo, adding pressure to a pin, sacrifice of the exchange, and (fortissimo) sacrifice of the Queen to force checkmate. Sprinkled throughout are moves that smite – captures or checks which cut down the choice of reply. Strategical concepts, such as rapid development of the pieces, interference with the opponent’s development, centralization, occupation of the open files, and control of the long diagonals are all graphically demonstrated. No wonder Marshall called this “The most famous game of all time!” – Chernev]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 (This move deserves a “?” as it gives White the initiative. – RME.) 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6

[Black can go very wrong at this point. Here are two examples.

Atwood-Wilson
Casual Game
London, 1801
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Qd7 7.Qb3 c6 8.a4 Bd6 9.O-O Nf6 10.Nc3 O-O 11.Be3 Kh8 12.Rad1 Nh5 13.Rxd6 Qxd6 14.Qxb7 Nd7 15.Rd1 Qb8 16.Rxd7 Qxb7 17.Rxb7 f5 18.Rxa7 Rab8 19.h3 Rxb2 20.Bc5 Rg8 21.Bd3 g5 22.Bd6 1-0

Rotman-Bornarel
Bern, 1992
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 f6? 7.Qb3 Qd4?? 8.Bf7+ Ke7 [Stronger is 8…Kd8 9.Bxg8 (not 9.Qxb7 Qb4+ and Black cuts his losses to a single pawn..) 9…Qxe4+ 10.Be3  Bd5 +-. An interesting and fun line for White is 10…Rxg8? 11.Qxg8 Qxg2 12.Qxf8+ Kd7 13.Qf7+ Kc6 (not 13…Kc8 14.Qe8#) 14.Nc3!! +- and while Black can restore material equality after 14.Qxh1+ 15.Ke2! Qxa1, he is mated by 15.Qd5#.] 9.Qe6+ Kd8 10.Qe8mate 1-0 -RME]

 
7.Qb3 (Now threatening 8.Bxf7+ Kd7 9.Qe6# – Chernev) 7…Qe7 8.Nc3 (Morphy might have played 8.Bxf7+ Qxf7 9.Qxb7 – But, says Lasker, “that would have a butcher’s method, not an artist’s. – Sergeant) 8…c6 9.Bg5 b5?!

(Steinitz suggested Qc7. After the text-move all is over. – Sergeant. Koltanowksi faced 9…Qb4, and won after 10.Bxf7+! Kd8 11.O-O-O+ Kc7 12.f4 Qxb3 13.Bxb3 Bd6 14.Rhe1 Na6
2018_09_20_a
15.Rxd6! Kxd6 16.fxe5+ Kxe5 17.Bf4+ Kd4 18.Rd1+ Kc5 19.Be3+ Kb4 20.Rd4+ Kc5 21.Rd5+ Kb4 22.a3mate 1-0, Koltanowski-L. Smith, 10 sec/move, Fort Worth, 1962. This might have been a blindfold game. Now back to the original game. – RME]

 

2018_09_20_1
10.Nxb5! cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7 12.O-O-O (The right way to castle , as the Rook bears down on the pinned Knight without the loss of time. – Chernev) 12…Rd8 (Not 12…O-O-O as 13.Ba6+ Kc7 14.Qb7 is mate. – Chernev)
2018_09_20_2
13.Rxd7! (Again to gain time for the other Rook to strike. – Chernev) 13…Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 (Unpinning his Knight so that it may defend his Rook. – Chernev) 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Qb8+! Nxb8 17.Rd8mate! (No doubt the opposition was weak; but Morphy’s method of overcoming it was most beautifully logical – a Dasmascus blade cutting a silk cushion.- Sergeant) 1-0

Beating a Master in 10 Moves

If you want to beat a Master, you have to study chess. If you want to beat a Master in the opening, you have to study the openings.

Here’s what I mean:

 

Escalante-NM Adaar
Thematic Tournament – Winawer Variation, Round 2
Chess.com, Aug.-Sept. 2018
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 (The usual route to the Winawer. All games in the tournament began with this position.) 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O (Some years ago Van der Tak wrote an article in NIC 8 titled, “Castling Into It?” where he explored Black’s kingside castling possibilities in the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer, and if it was a viable option for Black. I don’t think the resulting positions favor Black.) 8.Bd3! (Thanks to GM Van der Tak, and his article, I am convinced this move is stronger, with many ideas not yet explored, than most other books might suggest.) 8…Nbc6 9.Nf3

[If Black does not know the main line, then he (or she) has a problem coming up with a good plan. Here’s an example:

E.H. Al Rufei (2068)-Nebal Al Jelda
Women’s Zonal
Tehran, 2001
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Nf3 Nbc6 9.Bd3 Nf5 10.Bg5 Qa5 11.O-O c4 12.Bxf5 exf5 13.Qg3 Kh8 14.Qh4 Qxc3 15.Bf6 gxf6 16.exf6 Rg8 17.Ng5 Rxg5 18.Qxg5 1-0

His (or her!) best move is 9…f5 10.exf6 Rxf6 11.Bg5 Rf7, with many books giving this position a “=”. But life, on or off the chessboard, is rarely simple as an equal sign. Back to the game. My opponent decided to try something different in this game.]

9…cxd4?? (This loses the game in a hurry.)

2018_09_13

10.Bxh7+! 1-0 [Black resigns due to 10…Kxh7 11.Qh5+ (stronger than the traditional Ng5+ as the potential escape square, g6, is denied to Black) 11…Kg8 12.Ng5 and White mates.]

Using a Chess Engine

A chess engine is a computer or a program that can analyze a position or game. Many players believe that a computer is incapable of making a mistake and whatever evaluation an engine makes should be taken with blind faith.

 

But as Bobby Fischer once said, “This is the start (of an analysis)”.

 

Below is such a discussion between an engine and myself.

 

Escalante-“xtibis”
Blitz Game
Chess.com, July 22 2018
[Escalante]
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 (I’ve been experimenting this move for a couple of years. It certainly takes Black out of book and Black has many chances to go wrong in the opening. Like in this game.) 3…Nf6 (This move is very reasonable. It is safe and fits into many Black plans. It is only later when Black forgets why he played this move and apparently forgets about development. By the way, two other common moves are 3…Qe6 and 3…Bg4 are not a good as the text move.) 4.d4 Qa5+ 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.c3 [The engine at chess.com said this was an error and gives the better 6.Na3 c5 (this is because 6…Na3 Qxb2?? loses to 7.Nc4 Qb5 8.Nd6+ – my analysis) 7.Be3 Qa5+ 8.Bd2 Qb6 9.dxc5 Qxc5 10.Be3 Qa5+] 6…Qxb2 7.Qb3 Qxa1 8.Bc4 b6?! (This is too slow. Black has some compensation for his lack of development – the extra rook. He must quickly catch up on his development to secure his advantage. Better is 8… e6. I didn’t need a computer to tell me this! This move would limit the movement of White’s pieces and allows his bishop to move out.)
2018_07_25

9.O-O (Again the chess.com computer suggests another move, giving 9.Bxf7+ Kd8 10.O-O Nc6 11.Na3 Na5 12.Qc2 Qxf1+ 13.Kxf1 e6. I saw at least part of this but I wanted to safeguard my own king and keep the Black’s queen isolated in the corner.) 9…Be6?? (Blunder says the computer and I agree. Black still has 9… e6.) 10.Bxe6! fxe6 11.Na3 1-0 (Black resigned. He could of course play 11…Qxf1+ 12.Kxf1 but his lack of development is still a major problem and White’s queen is now in charge.)

A “Tal”ented player

A great game by the Magician from Riga.

GM Tal (2625)-Mukhin (2420)
USSR Ch.
Baku, 1972
[There are some games worth playing over and over again. This is one of them.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Bb7 9.Re1! +/= Nbd7 10.Bg5 Nc5?? 11.Bd5! +/- b4 (ECO gives 11.Bd5 h6 12.Bxb7 Nxb7 13.Bh4 Rc8 14.a4 b4 15.Nd5 +/-, citing Honfi-Tatai, Monte Carlo, 1967. 11…exd5 also runs into problems after 11…exd5 12.exd5+ Kd7 13.b4 Na4 14.Nxa4 bxa4 15.c4 +-) 12.Bxb7 Nxb7 13.Nd5! (White is determined to open the “e” file!) 13…exd5 14.exd5+ Kd7 (If 14…Be7, then 15.Nf5 +-) 15.c3! +- b3 16.Qxb3 Nc5 17.Qc4 Qc8 (17…Rc8 18.b4 Nce4 19.Nc6 Nxg5 20.Nb8+ Rxb8 21.Qc6#) 18.Nc6 h6 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Re3 Kc7 21.b4 (With the idea of 22.Na7+ or 22.Ne7+, if the black knight should move.) 21…Rg8 1-0

 

 

tal_1960

 

A Mistake in the Sveshnikov

 

Escalante”-“julez195” (1564)

Blitz game

chess.com, Feb. 16 2017

[Escalante]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 {Both Black and White have used about 5 seconds to make their moves. But now Black slows down. It is obvious that he knew the first part of the opening, but not much more.} 6.N1c3 Nf6 7.Bg5

2017_03_02

7…Be7 {I knew this was a mistake. Now I have to figure it out how to prove it was a mistake. Here are some general ideas about the opening. The Sveshnikov is a risky variation in the Sicilian for Black and has to play very precisely not to be knocked out in the opening. In this position he must play 7…a6 so as to prevent the knights from attacking the vulnerable “c7” square. This game is one example of Black failing to do this. Here’s another: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e5 7.Ndb5 h6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Nd5 Rb8 10.Nbc7+ Kd7 11.Qg4+ 1-0 (C. Chester- S. Salvador, 11th Eastern Ch., New York, 1977).}  8.Bxf6 Bxf6 9.Nd5 O-O {Anything else loses even faster.  But Black’s pieces are a bit unorganized and he still has the weakness on “c7”.} 10.Be2 {White wants to castle before embarking on any attack.} Qa5+ {The “c7” square still needs protection.} 11.Nbc3 {There is no reason to hurry. The almost random sorties of the Black queen give White extra time and targets.} Bd8 {The “c7” square is now completely safe. But Black has used a number of tempi to accomplish this task.} 12.O-O f5 13.a3 Ne7 14.b4 1-0

 

 

 

Welcome!

Welcome here!

This is the beginning of a chess blog. It is my intention that his blog will feature chess games (esp. miniatures), endings,  thoughts, and other interesting items about the game.

This is a work in progress, with the idea of perpetual improvement.

Maybe you have thoughts about what chess blog might be or how to improve it. If so, let me know – love to know your thoughts.

Here is short game I think you will appreciate.

Alfred Freidl-Ganzer
corres., 1962
[Escalante]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.f3
(The Winckelmann Gambit, in which White gambits his “f” pawn to access a very open f” file. It’s a gambit that I am now experimenting and so far, the results have been positive. Winckelmann has his name attached to the gambit, not for creating it, but because he was successful in popularizing it by his many brilliant games in the early 1990’s.) 6…exf3 (Accepting the gambit is now considered not the best strategy. But if one cannot accept it, what then is the proper response?) 7.Nxf3 c6 8.Bd3 Nd7 9.O-O Qa5 10.Bd2 Ngf6 11.Qe1 O-O (Usually castling is a good idea as it puts one’s king in a safer space. In this game, and maybe even this gambit, castling may put this king in harm’s way.) 12.Ng5! (To provoke weaknesses in Black’s castled position.) 12…h6 13.c4 Qb6 14.c5 Qc7 15.Nf3 b6 16.Qh4 h5 17.Bf4 Qb7 18.Bd6 Re8 19.Ne5 bxc5 20.Rab1 Nb6 21.dxc5 Rd8 (Now we’ll see the power of the using the “f” file.)  22.Rxf6! gxf6 23.Qxf6 Rxd6 24.cxd6 1-0

 

 Here’s an early game by Winckelmann;

 

Winckelmann-Andre
corres., 1984
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.f3 exf3 7.Nxf3 Ne7 8.Bd3 Ng6 9.O-O O-O 10.Ng5 h6 11.Nxf7 Rxf7 12.Bxg6 Rxf1+ 13.Qxf1 Qe7 14.Qd3 Bd7 15.Bf4 c6 16.Be5 Be8 17.Bxe8 Qxe8 18.Qg3 g5 19.h4 Nd7 20.hxg5 Nxe5 21.Qxe5 Qg6 22.gxh6 Qxh6 23.Re1 Re8 24.Re3 1-0