Sunday, October 31, 2010

English Opening: King's English, Four Knights Variation

Moscow 1988

1. c4, Nf6
2. Nc3, e5
3. Nf3, Nc6

Not 3....e4 because White replies 4. Ng4 Qe7, 5. Qc2... and White takes the pawn.

4. g3, Bb4
5. Bg2, 0-0
6. 0-0, e4
7. Ng5, Bxc3
8. bxc3, Re8
9. f3, exf3
10. Nxf3, d5
11. d4, Ne4
12. Qc2, dxc4
13. Rb1, f5
14. g4, Qe7

If 14....fxg4 White replies 15. Ne5 Nxe5, 16. Qxe4!....

15. gxf5, Nd6
16. Ng5, Qxe2
17. Bd5+, Kh8
18. Qxe2, Rxe2
19. Bf4, Nd8
20. Bxd6, cxd6
21. Rbe1, Rxe1
22. Rxe1, Bd7
23. Re7, Bc6
24. f6, Resigns

If 24....gxf6, then White mates next move by 25. Rxh7.

If 24....Bxd5, then 25. Re8+ Bg8, 26. f7 Nxf7, 27. Nxf7 mate.  Superb play!

Friday, October 29, 2010

French Defense: Alekhine-Chatard Attack, Albin-Chatard Gambit

Cista, 1940
French Defense: Alekhine-Chatard Attack, Albin-Chatard Gambit

1. e4, e6
2. d4, d5
3. Nc3, Nf6
4. Bg5, Be7
5. e5, Nfd7
6. h4 ....

The Albin-Chatard Gambit. White sacrifices the h-pawn in return for an attack on Black's King side, launching from the half-open h-file.

6. .... Bxg5
7. hxg5, Qxg5
8. Nh3, Qh6

If the Queen retreats e.g. 8....Qe7, then 9. Qg4 0-0, 10. Bd3 g6, 11. Ng5 and White would have an easy attack.

9. Bd3, g6
10. Qg4, c5
11. f4! ....

The safety of the e5-pawn is of paramount importance.

11. .... cxd4
12. Nb5, Kd8
13. Ng5! ....

Another sacrifice. But Black really has no choice. If 13....Qg7, then 14. Nd6 ... threatening 15. Ngxf7+.

13. .... Qxh1+
14. Kf2, Qxa1
15. Nxf7+, Ke7
16. Qg5+, Kxf7
17. Nd6+, Kg7

If 17....Kf8, then 18. Qd8+ Kg7, 19. Qe7+ ... bringing the position to the one in text. If 17....Kg8 then 18. Qe7 and mate next move.

18. Qe7+, Kh6
19. Nf7+, Kg7
20. Ng5+, Kh6
21. Nxe6, Nf6

Preventing 22. Qg5 mate. But White has another ace up his sleeve.

22. Qg7+, Kh5
23. Qxf6, h6

Again, preventing 24. Qg5 mate, but White's next mating move cannot be prevented...

24. Be2 mate.

Much quicker than 24. Qxg6+ Kh4, 25. g3+ Kh2, 26. Qh5 mate. White, thought two Rooks down, played magnificently. The relentless attack left Black's major pieces still standing in their original positions.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blindfold Chess

In chess, there is nothing more fascinating than a master playing blindfold. The following game exhibits the genius of Alexander Alekhine.

Tarnopol, 1916

(White plays blindfold.)

1. e4, e6
2. d4, d5
3. Nc3, Nf6
4. exd5, Nxd5

Much better is 4...exd5 in order to control the central squares.

5. Ne4, f5?

This move creates a weakness at the e5 square.  White would exploit this weakness to maximum advantage.

6. Ng5!, Be7
7. N5f3, c6
8. Ne5, 0-0
9. N1f3, b6
10. Bd3, Bb7
11. 0-0, Re8
12. c4, Nf6
13. Bf4, N8d7
14. Qe2, c5
15. Nf7!! ....

A surprising yet powerful move!  Black has no choice but to capture, as his Queen and e6 pawn are threatened.

15. .... Kxf7
16. Qxe6!! ....

Another surprise! The Queen cannot be captured because of Ng5 mate.

16. .... Kg6

If 16....Kf8 then 17. Ng5 threatening mate at f7.

Before making his next move, Alekhine announced a mate in two.

17. g4! ....

This move is better than 17. Nh4+ Kh5, 18. Qxf5+ Kxh4, 19. g3 mate.

17. .... Be4

Preventing 18. Bxf5 mate, but this does not prevent White's next and last move.

18. Nh4 mate

A delightful finish!

Win Some, Lose Some

It seems inconceivable for a grandmaster to lose a game in 15 moves.  But even grandmasters have mental lapses that would account for a game loss.  The following game shows how Rubinstein, an acclaimed chess master in his time, succumbed to the wiles of Frederick Yates using Ruy Lopez Opening.

Budapest, 1926

1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, Nc6
3. Bb5, a6
4. Ba4, Nf6
5. Qe2, b5
6. Bb3, Bc5

Black's last move may look attractive but it would be better placed at e7 to prevent a pin on the Knight.

7. c3, Qe7
8. 0-0, d6
9. Rd1, 0-0
10. d4, Bb6
11. Bg5, Nd8?

Reinfeld suggests 11....h6 to drive away the pinning Bishop.

12. Nh4! ....

Now, it is not possible to drive the Bishop away, for 12....h6 would be refuted by 13. Ng6.

12. .... Ne6?

In his haste to get rid of the pesky Bishop, Black loses control of the f5 square, which would become a stronghold for White's Knight.

13. Nf5!! ....

If Black plays 13....Qd8, White replies with 14. dxe5 and the double pin would be too much for Black to handle.

13. .... Qe8
14. Bxf6, gxf6
15. Bxe6, Resigns

White threatens Qg4+ and Qg7 mate.

If 15...fxe6, then 16. Qg4+! The only way Black could avoid mate is 16....Qg6 but would lose the Queen after 17. Ne7+.

A brilliant and very instructive little game.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Richard Reti

RICHARD RETI, the author of Reti's Opening, was an ethnic Jewish, Austrian-Hungarian, later Czechoslovakian chess player, chess author, and composer of endgame studies.  One of the top players in the world during the 1910s and 1920s, he began his career as a fiercely combinative classical player, favoring openings such as the King's Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4). However, after the end of the First World War, his playing style underwent a radical change, and he became one of the principal proponents of hypermodernism, and considered to be the movement's foremost literary contributor.  The following game, one of the shortest he ever played, is posted in his honor.

Vienna, 1914

1. e4, e5
2. Nc3, Nc6
3. Nf3, Bc5
4. Nxe5, Nxe5
5. d4, Bxd4

Reinfeld recommends 5....Bd6, 6. dxe5 Bxe5 etc.

6. Qxd4, Qf6?

Black desires to win White's Queen with ....Nf3+, but his last move proves fatal.

7. Nb5!! ....

A move difficult to meet.  The c7 square is unguarded and White has rightly chosen this location to attack.

7. .... Kd8
8. Qc5!, Resigns

Black has to contend with the threats of 9. Qf8 mate and 9. Qxc7.

If 8....d6 then 9. Qxc7 Ke8, 10. Nxd6+ Kf8, 11. Nxc8 ... and White comes ahead in material.

If 8....Ng6 then 9. Bg5 winning the Queen.  If 8....Nh6 then 9. Qxc7 Ke7, 10. Be3 with the deadly threats of Bc5 or Bd4.

An amazing finale.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Knight Forks and (K)nightmares

Neophyte chess players are sometimes haunted by memories of knight forks.  But even grandmasters find themselves immersed in similar situations.  The game below is a fine example.

New York, 1913
Queen's Gambit Declined

1. d4, d5
2. c4, e6
3. Nc3, Nf6
4. Nf3, Be7
5. Bg5, Nbd7
6. e3, 0-0
7. Rc1, b6

Black intends to follow-up with c5, but the resulting position created a weakness on white squares.

8. cxd5, exd5
9. Qa4, Bb7
10. Ba6, Bxa6
11. Qxa6, c6?

Reinfeld recommends 11....c5 as a more energetic move.

12. 0-0, Ne4
13. Bxe7, Qxe7
14. Qb7!!, Rfc8
15. Nxd5! ....

15. .... Qd6

The Knight could not be taken because of 16. Rxc8 winning a Rook.

16. Rxc6, Resigns

Black loses his Queen if 16....Qxd5, 17. Rxc8 ...  and also if the Queen takes the Rook by 16. .... Qxc6, then 17. Ne7+.

If 16....Rxc6 then 17. Qxa8+ Nf8, 18. Qxc6 Qxc6, 19. Ne7+ and this leaves White ahead in material.  However, in this variation, Black could have prolonged the game a little longer with 17....Nb8, 18. Ne7+ Qxe7, 19. Qxb8 Qf8, 20. Qb7 Re6 (not 20.....Qe8, 21. Ne5!), 21. Rc1 Re8, 22. Ne5 (with the idea of 23. Rc7) f6, 23. Qd5+ and White still wins after 23....Kh8, 24. Nf7+ Kg8, 25. Nd6+ Kh8, 26. Nxe8 Qxe8, 27. Qxe4!.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stampeding Horses

In chess, we often see two Bishops working in tandem to achieve victory.  But two Knights jumping tactically in harmony is a rare sight even in grandmaster play.  This post features such occurrence made even more beautiful by a two-Rook sacrifice and a Queen sacrifice.

Portsmouth, 1948
Italian Game: Classical Closed Variation

1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, Nc6
3. Bc4, Bc5
4. c3, Qe7
5. 0-0 ....

Making the e4 pawn invulnerable.  This is the Closed Variation.  In Greco Gambit White allows the e4 pawn to be taken by the immediate 5. d4 in return for an open file.

5. .... d6
6. d4, Bb6
7. b4, Bg4
8. a4, a5
9. b5, Nd8
10. Ba3, f6

The move supports the e5 pawn as the d6 pawn is pinned.

11. Ra2? ....

A useless move. Where thou goest, Mr. Rook?

11. .... Ne6

The Knight intends to post itself on f4.

12. dxe5, fxe5
13. Qd5, Bxf3
14. Qxb7 ....
A lesson in move prioritization.  If 14. Qxe6 then 14....Bxe4.  Definitely not 14. gxf3 because of 14....Qg4+,15. Kh1 Nf4.

14. .... Qg5!!

Black decides the keep the Bishop instead of the Rook, as the former is more important in sustaining the attack.

15. Qxa8+, Ke7
16. g3, Nf4!!!

Threatening mate at h3.

17. Re1 ....

Worthless, but White has nothing better. If 17. h4 then 17....Qg4, 18. Re1 Qh3 and mate next move at g2 or h1.

17. .... Qh5!!

Placing the Queen at a strategic location.  If 18. gxf4 then Black still wins with 18....Qh3.

18. Nd2, Nf6!!!

The winning move, but more surprises are still to come.

19. Qxh8, Qxh2!!

A beautiful Queen sacrifice.  Black clinched his victory.  The rest of the moves followed naturally.

20. Kxh2, Ng4+
21. Kg1, Nh3+
22. Kf1, Nh2 mate.
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