Happy Birthday Patrick Wolff!

Patrick Gideon Wolff is an American Grandmaster born this day in 1968.

He earned his IM title 1988 and his GM title in 1990.

But even before receiving his IM title he was already making news by winning the 1983 US National High School Championship and the 1987 U.S. Junior Championship.

He also participated in the World Junior Championships 1987. But Anand, who eventually gained the World Championship, won this event.

IM Wolff (2370)-IM Sokolov (2525)
World Jr. Ch.
Baguio, July 1987
[Notes by IM Wolff, in “Anand Wins World Junior Championship”, Chess Horizons, Oct.-Nov., 1987, pg. 18]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9.O-O-O Qc7 10.Bb3 O-O? (Now Black is clearly worse. Best is 10…Na5 with unclear complications.) 11.Rhg1 b5 12.g4 Na5 13.g5 Nxb3+ 14.axb3 Nd7 15.f4 b4 16.Nf5 exf5 17.Nd5 Qd8 18.exf5 Re8 19.Bd4! (A suggestion of Andy Soltis. ECO gives 19.g6 with complications.) 19…Bf8 (If 19…Bf6, Sokolov pointed out 20.Qxe8+ Qxe8 21.gxf6, which wins.) 20.Qh5 Re4 21.Bf6 Qe8 22.Nc7 Nxf6 23.gxf6 Qd8 24.Nd5!? (Or 24.fxg7 Be7 25.Nxa8 Bb7 26.Nb6 Qxb6? 27.Qxh7+ +-) 24…Bb7 25.fxg7 Be7 26.Rg3 Bf6 27.Rh3 Bxg7 28.Qxh7+ Kf8 29.f6? (29.Qxg7+ mates in four.) 29…Bxf6 30.Qxe4 Qa5 31.Qf5 Bg7 32.Qd7 1-0

Here is another event from 1988, noted for the tactical attack.

IM Patrick Wolff-WIM Alisa Mikhailovna Galliamova
Adelaide 1988
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9.O-O-O Qc7 10.Bb3 O-O 11.Rhg1 b5 12.g4 Rb8

13.g5! Nd7 14.Qh5 Nxd4 15.Bxd4 b4 16.g6 hxg6 17.Rxg6 Nf6 18.Rxg7+ 1-0

And here Wolff is facing the World Champion as Black. It’s a miniature against one of the game’s best.

GM Kasparov-IM Wolff- X25
New York City, 1988

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.d4 exd4 5.Qxd4 d5 6.cxd5 cxd5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.Qa4 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.Be3 Ng4 11.Bd4 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Qb6 13.Nc3 Qh6 14.h4 g5 15.Nxd5 Bd8

[White definitely has some problems with his castled position and coordination with his pieces. Incredibly, he might be lost already.

GM Mihai Şubă-GM Gilberto Milos
Spanish Open
Ponferrada, 1992
16.Rfc1 gxh4 17.Rxc8 Rxc8 18.Nf5 Rc1+ 19.Bf1 Qh5 20.Nfe7+ Bxe7 21.Nxe7+ Kh8 22.Qd4+ f6 23.Rxc1 hxg3 24.Kg2 Qh2+ 25.Kf3 Ne5+ 26.Ke3 Qxf2+ 27.Ke4 Qh2 28.Qc5 g2 29.Nf5 Nd7 30.Qe7 g1=Q 31.Qxd7 Qe5+ 32.Kd3 Qg8 0-1.]

16.Rac1 gxh4 17.Rxc8 hxg3 18.Nf3 Nh2 19.Rfc1 Rxc8 20.Rxc8 Nxf3+ 21.exf3 gxf2+ 22.Kf1 Qd2 23.Nf6+ Kg7 24.Ne8+ Kh8 25.Qe4 Bh4 0–1

GM Patrick Wolff somehow found the time to win the two US Championships (1992 and 1995).

We’ll end here with perhaps his most well-known game. But it’s for a different reason than winning a championship or a brilliancy.

GM Vassily Ivanchuk-GM Patrick Wolff
Biel Interzonal
Switzerland, July 16 1993
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 Nc6!?

[A relative rare, but otherwise good, response to 3.e4.

GM Karpov (2745)-Vadim Milov (2635), Biel, 1997, conitinued with 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.d5 Ne5 6.Bf4 Ng6 7.Be3 Nf6 8.Nc3 e5 9.Bxc4 a6 10.O-O Bd6 11.Be2 O-O 12.Nd2 Bd7 13.Rc1 Qe7 14.a3 b5 15.Nb3 Nf4 16.Bf3 Kh8 17.Na2 g5 18.Nc5 Rg8 19.Nb4 Rg6 20.Qc2 g4 21.Be2 Rag8 22.Rfd1 N6h5 23.g3 Bc8 24.Nc6 Qg5 25.Bf1 Rh6 26.Qc3 Nf6 27.Nd3 Qh5 28.h4 gxh3 29.Ndxe5! Rg7 30.Bxf4 Nxe4 31.Qe3 Qf5 32.Bxh6 h2+ 33.Kxh2 Nxf2 34.Bxg7+ Kxg7 35.Rd4 1-0.]

4.Be3 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.d5 Ne7 7.Bxc4 Ng6 8.f3 Bd6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.Nge2 a6 11.Bb3 b5 12.a4 O-O 13.O-O Qe7 14.Rac1 Nh5 15.g3 h6 16.Bc2 Rab8 17.axb5 axb5 18.Ra1 Ra8 19.Bd3 Bb4 20.Rxa8 Rxa8 21.Qc2 Bc5 22.Nd1 Bd6 23.Nf2 Nhf4!

[If this position looks familiar it’s because Kasparov (remember him?) chose this this game as a starting point for the climax in the 2020 Netflix limited series, “The Queen’s Gambit”.] 24.Rc1 Qg5 25.Kh1 Qh5 26.Ng1 Nxd3 27.Nxd3 f5 28.Nc5 Bc8 29.Rf1 Ne7 30.Qd3 fxe4 31.fxe4 Qg6 32.Kg2 Kh7 33.Nf3 Ng8 34.Nh4 Qg4 35.Nf5 Nf6 36.h3 Qg6 37.g4 Bxc5 38.Bxc5 Ra4 39.Rf3 Rc4 40.Be7 Bxf5 41.Rxf5 Rd4 42.Qe3 Rxe4 43.Qf3 Rf4 44.Rxf4 exf4 45.Bxf6 Qxf6 46.Qd3+ Qg6 47.Qe2 c6 48.Kf3 cxd5 49.Kxf4 Qf6+ 50.Kg3 Qd6+ 51.Kf3 b4 52.h4 Qf6+ 53.Kg3 Qd6+ 54.Kf3 Qf6+ 55.Kg3 g6 56.Qe8 Qd6+ 57.Kf3 Kg7 58.g5 hxg5 59.hxg5 d4 60.Qe4 d3 61.Qb7+ Kf8 62.Qc8+ Ke7 63.Qb7+ Ke6 64.Qe4+ Kd7 65.Qb7+ Kd8 66.Qa8+ Kc7 67.Qa7+ Kc8 68.Qa8+ Kc7 69.Qa7+ Kc6 70.Qa6+ Kc5 71.Qxd6+ Kxd6 72.Ke3 Ke5 1/2-1/2