Author Archives: Martin Stahl

Paul Keres and the Sicilian Wing Gambit

by Ken Jones

 

After studying a number of his games, I found it interesting that a world-class player like Keres would occasionally play the Wing Gambit against the Sicilian.  True, he made no claim of its soundness, but used it as a surprise weapon with the knowledge that Black would have to work out its details while the clock was ticking.  It was also a psychological choice against opponents who had well-constructed opening repertoires.  Off the board, though, my review of these games reveal more promising lines for Black than for White.

 

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3

 

Keres used the immediate 2. b4 only one time (against V. Vulberg, 1935 Estonian Ch.)  After 2…cxb4 3. a3 e6 4. axb4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bf8 6. d4 d5 7. e5 we have reached a position that may also arise from a topical gambit line against the French (1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e5 c5 4. b4 cxb4 5. a3, etc.)  Keres eventually won on time in a completely lost position, and thereafter preferred to delay the gambit.

 

2…d6

 

The O’Kelly variation  2…a6  can also be “winged”:  3. b4 cxb4 4. a3 d5?!  (this central reaction is simply mistaken here, as Black does not even get a pawn for his troubles)  5. exd5 Qxd5? 6. axb4 Bg4 7. Nc3 Qh5? (misplacing the Q; Black should probably bail out with 7…Qe6+ as 7…Bxf3? loses material by 8. Nxd5 Bxd1 9. Nc7+ Kd8 10. Nxa8 and the N can escape via b6) 8. Be2 e6 9. 0-0  (The immediate 9. Ra5! also embarrasses the Q)  Nf6 10. Ra5 Nd5 11. h3  (11. Nxd5 exd5 12. Re1 Be7 13. c4 also looks logical and strong to me)  Bxf3 12. Bxf3 Nxc3 13. dxc3 Qg6 14. Qd4  (Black’s position is hopeless)  Qf6 15. Qc4 Nd7 16. Bg5 Qg6 17. Bxb7 Rb8 18. Bc6 Be7 19. Bxd7+ Kxd7 20. Rd1+ Ke8 21. Qc7 (1-0), Keres-T. Gauffin, Helsinki 1935.

 

3. b4 cxb4

 

Rather than accept the pawn, Black will often play 3…Nf6, but Keres himself wryly noted that the gambit would be seen much more in international tournaments if this were the best reply! Still, there is nothing wrong with Black’s game after  4. bxc5 Nxe4 5. cxd6 Nxd6 6. Na3 Nc6.  In actual practice vs Keres, though, Black reacted weakly:  6…Qa5?! 7. Nc4 Nxc4 8. Bxc4 e6 9.0-0 (Keres-J. Turn, Tallinn 1937) and 6…Qc7?! 7. Bb2 Bg4 8. Be2 Nd7 9. 0-0 Nf6 10. c4 (Keres-S. Herseth, Stockholm 1937).  In both cases White has an edge in development, central control and plenty of open lines.

 

4. d4 Nf6

 

4…g6  (Keres noted that the fianchetto is logical)  5. Bb5+?! Bd7 6. Bc4 Qc8?!  (White’s experimental approach provoked an awkward response; the obvious …Nc6 is better)  7. Nbd2 Bg7 8. 0-0 Nf6 9. e5 dxe5 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. Qe2 0-0  (again, 11…Nc6 12. Bb2 Qc7 gets pieces on better squares)  12. h3 Nh6 13. a3  (finally making it a real gambit)  Nc6 14. axb4 Nxb4 15. Rb1 Nc6 16. Ba3 Nf5 17. Qe4 Be6?!  (the anticipated misplay)  18. Bxe6 Qxe6? 19. g4 Nh6 20. Rxb7 Nxe5 21. Rxe7 Nxf3+ 22. Qxf3  (White regained the pawn with a slight edge due to the stranded Nh6)  Qf6 23. Qe2 Rfd8 24. Ne4 Qc6 25. Re1 Bf8?  (“winning” the exchange leaves his K-side fatally weak)  26. Qf3 Bxe7?? 27. Rxe7  (threatening the Queen by Nf6+)  Rdc8 28. Qf4 (1-0), Keres-I. Dyner, Ostend 1937.

 

5. Bd3

5. Nbd2 Nc6 6. Bb2 e6  (This is a common set-up against the gambit.  Black keeps the small center (pawns on d6 & e6) and develops behind it, hoping to get his King safe before trying to use the extra pawn.  White will also not rush forward, but try to put his pieces on good squares while playing around the pawn on b4)  7. Bd3 Be7 8. 0-0 0-0 9. Qe2 Ne8  (the immediate 9…d5 10. e5 Nd7 is possible, when Black can later play …Re8 & …Nf8 to guard the K)  10. Rfe1 d5 11. Qe3?!  (inching toward the K-side, but too slow)  a6 12. Qf4 Qc7 13. e5 f5!  (Using a tactic to close the position.  Black’s King is now safe enough)  14. h4 Nd8??  (14…Nf6! heading to e4 gives Black the better game)  15. Rac1 Nf7?  (now 15…Nf6!? could be met by 16. exf6 Qxf4 17. fxe7 Re8 18. exd8/Q Rxd8 which is unclear; materially, Black is doing fine but White’s total control of the dark squares should not be underestimated)  16. c4 bxc3 17. Rxc3  (as often happens with gambits, Black has kept the extra pawn but is behind in development and is passively placed, with plenty of weak squares to guard)  Qd8 18. Ba3!  (securing domination of the dark squares–which Black’s next move further weakens)  g6? 19. Bxe7 Qxe7 20. Rb1  (with Black’s King hard to get at, White turns his attention to the other side of the board)  Ng7 21. Nb3 Nd8 22. Nc5 b5 23. a4 Nh5?  (this only chases the Queen to where the action is)  24. Qc1! Rf7  (now 24…bxa4 25. Nxa4 is ruinous)  25. axb5 a5?  (25…axb5 is no fun, but to let White keep the pawn loses quickly)  26. Ng5 Rg7 27. b6 h6 28. Nf3 g5 29. hxg5 hxg5 30. Na4 Bd7 31. b7 Rb8 32. Rc8 Nf4 33. Rxb8 Nxd3 34. Qc7 (1-0), Keres-R. Bruno, Havana 1960.

 

5…d5!?

 

Perhaps this is why Keres waited until Black played 2…d6 to offer the gambit–striking in the center now costs Black a tempo.  In a rare appearance of the Wing Gambit in modern grandmaster play, 5…g6 was played was seen in Timur Gareev-Gata Kamsky, 2015 US Ch.  After 6. a3 bxa3 7. 0-0 Bg7 8. h3 0-0 9. Bg5 Nc6 10. Nc3 Nd7 11. Nd5 h6 12. Bh4 Nb6  (12…g5!?) 13. c3 Bd7  (13…Be6!?)  14. Rxa3, White had enough for the pawn.  The game was drawn in 46 moves after a hard-fought struggle.

 

6. Nbd2 dxe4

 

6…e6 7. e5 Nfd7 8. 0-0 Nc6  is another way to play it, when White should try to get control of the dark squares by 9. a3.

 

7. Nxe4

 

For the rest of this game, I will make liberal use of Keres’ comments mixed in with my own observations.

 

7…Nbd7

 

7…Nxe4 8. Bxe4 Nd7 9. c4! Nf6  (9…bxc3 10. Qb3, Keres)  10. Bc2  (with initiative, Keres)  e6 11. 0-0 Be7  (S. Buchal-H. Freise, Menden 1974) when both 12. a3!? or  12.Qd3!?  give active play.

 

8. Neg5

 

Here, too, 8. c4 bxc3 9. Qb3  would lead to lively and interesting play (Keres), while simply 9. Nxc3 also gives adequate compensation.

 

8…Qc7

 

8…h6 9. Ne6 Qb6 10. Nxf8  followed by 11. 0-0 (Keres).

 

9. c4

 

Since the game continuation eventually gives Black the advantage, I suggest the simple 9. 0-0 e6 10. Re1, with compensation for the pawn.

 

9…h6

 

Keres implied that  9…bxc3 10. Qb3 e6 11. Nxf7!  was good for White, but the computer now continues  11…Nc5! 12. dxc5 Kxf7 13. Qxc3 Qxc5 when Black is at least equal.

 

10. Nh3 g5

 

“No bad move” (Keres); my computer thinks more highly of it than that!  To the modern eye, it seems like typical active defense, ignoring positional weakness to gain an initiative.

 

11. Nhg1

 

Given an ! by Keres, who noted that the N that started out on b1 now resides on the other N’s home square!  He considers White’s position “more or less satisfactory”, which is somewhat generous.

 

11…Bg7 12. Ne2 e5 13. Ng3 0-0 14. 0-0 e4?

 

A mistake, although given an ! by Keres.  Better is  14…Re8! 15. Re1 exd4 16. Nxd4 Ne5  giving Black a large advantage (Fritz);  14…exd4 15. h4! g4 16. Nxd4  is suggested by Keres without evaluation, but again Fritz prefers Black.

 

15. Nxe4 Nxe4 16. Bxe4 Qxc4 17. Bd3 Qd5 18. Re1 g4 19. Nh4 Nb6!?

 

A practical choice.  Black faces a stiff attack after  19…Qxd4 20. Nf5 Qxa1 21. Qxg4, but he can survive with 21…Kh8!  (Black gets mated after 21…Nc5 22. Nxh6+ Kh8 23. Qh5 [Euwe], or 21…Qf6 22. Bxh6 Ne5 23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Bxg7+ Kxg7 25. Qh5+)  22. Nxh6 Qc3!  (22…Bxh6 23. Qh4 Kg8! 24. Qxh6 Qg7 25. Qh4! [Keres] with a winning attack a Rook down)  23. Nxf7+  (White also forces a draw after 23. Nf5 Qxe1+ 24. Bf1 Qe5 25. Bb2 Bf6 26. Qh5+)  Rxf7 24. Qh4+ Kg8 25. Bh7+ Kh8  (…Kf8?? 26 Qd8 mate).

 

20. Rb1 Bd7 21. Re4?

 

Better is 21. Rxb4  and White would not be worse (Keres).

 

21…Rfe8 22. Rf4 Qd6?

 

Keres gave 22…Na4! 23. Bd2! Nc3 24. Bxc3 bxc3 25. Bc2!, but the silicon solution  Qxa2!! 26. Bb3 Qd2 just wins for Black, as do the alternatives  22…Qxa2 & 22…a5.

 

23. Bd2 Nd5 24. Rxg4! Bxg4??

 

Once again, the strain of constant defense proves too great.  Black could hold the balance after  24…Nc3 25. Bxc3 bxc3 26. Nf5 Bxf5 27. Bxf5.

 

25. Qxg4 Qf6 26. Nf5 Kf8 27. Nxg7!

 

Once White has eliminated the strong defensive Bishop of his opponent, he soon obtains a decisive attack (Keres).  There is little add to that.

 

27…Qxg7 28. Qh5 Nf6 29. Qh4 h5 30. Rxb4 Rac8 31. h3! Rc7 32. Rb5 Re6 33. Rxh5 (1-0), Keres-E. Eliskases, Semmering 1937.

 

2016 CCSCSL Championship

Used by permission of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis; originally posted at http://saintlouischessclub.org/blog/2016-club-championship-five-survive

2016 CCSCSL Championship

2016 Club Championship: Five Survive

by Jonathan Schrantz

The 2016 Club Championship was the biggest Championship in Club history in every way imaginable with a record number of participants, a record number of Grandmasters, and a record number of Club Champions! Fifty-six players, including five Grandmasters (GM) and six other titled players, came out this year to compete for the title of Club Champion. All five Grandmasters that came had hopes of becoming the Champion, but nobody had expected that all five of them would be crowned this year in an unprecedented five-way tie. The five winners were Alex Shimanov, Illia Nyzhnyk, Yaroslav Zherebukh, Priyadharshan Kannappan, and Denes Boros.

The winner of the Club Championship is forever immortalized at the Club by having their name engraved on the prestigious Club Championship trophy. The trophy sits on the second floor of the Chess Club  on the trophy case and towers in size over the other trophies on display. The Club Championship also comes with a prize fund of $3,000 unconditionally guaranteed.

Heading into the final round the chief arbiter, FA Mike Kummer, joked about the possibility of a five-way tie but it required a series of improbable results that all came to fruition. There were draws on boards one and two between the Grandmasters entering the fourth and final round with three points. Kannappan and Shimanov drew as did Boros and Shimanov. Nyzhnyk, who was trailing the leaders by half a point coming into the last round, was able to beat IM Michael Brooks in the final round bringing the five tournament favorites to a score of 3.5/4 each.

While it may not come as a surprise to many that the Grandmasters had the best tournament result, more than one GM had to struggle in the early rounds against significantly lower-rated opponents. Of note, Ben Shoykhet (rated 1783) had a winning position against GM Priyadharshan Kannappan in the first round and, after the game, the Grandmaster admitted that he was spending a lot of time during the game deciding if he should offer a draw. Unfortunately for Shoykhet, the crafty and resourceful GM was able to pull off a major comeback and win the game.

Congratulations to all of the winners this year and thank you to everyone that came out and made the event so successful and entertaining. Our next tournament will take place on National Chess Day, which falls on October 8 this year.

A Small Tribute to Paul Keres

by Ken Jones

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Estonian grandmaster Paul Keres.  While circumstance and politics may have prevented him from becoming World Champion, he nevertheless defeated everyone who held that title from Capablanca to Fischer! He deeply investigated opening systems that are still popular today, from the Nimzoindian to the Ruy Lopez, and several variations carry his name. A superb tactician, Keres provided many examples for combination puzzles. And while solving “Black to play and win” problems are extremely useful, in this column I would like to show how a great player creates the opportunity for a tactical finale.

The diagrammed position is from Euwe-Keres, 1948 World Championship Match/Tournament.

 

Euwe VS Keres 1948

Euwe VS Keres 1948

 

Let’s begin by evaluating this position. White has two pawns controlling the center, all his pieces are active, and has an attack on the weak Q-side. Black, who is on move, is also fully developed. The move f2-f4 has weakened the white squares around White’s King, which Black’s N can attack but the Bishop cannot defend. Keres spots a tactic that immediately increases his control of the both the center and the white squares:

28…Rxe4! 29. Rxe4 d5 30. Qxa6

Of course, 30. Qd3? dxe4 wins a piece.

30…dxe4 31 Be3

Logically trying to keep control of the d2 square, yet the Bishop is vulnerable here. But after 31. Bc3 Qf5! (threatening …Qc5+) 32. Qc4 Nxf4! wins a pawn: 33. g3 Nh3+ 34. Kg2 Qg4 with …Ng5 to follow.

31…Qg4!

Probing the white square weaknesses on the K-side.

32. Qc4 Rd3 33. Bc1 Nh4!!

To me, this is the best move of the game. The obvious 33…f5 gives Black a solid plus, but Keres sees that he can give away a pawn with check while allowing White to guard g2 in the process!

34. Qxe4+ f5 35. Qb7 c6?!

A minor blemish. In time pressure Keres goes with a forcing line, but he could’ve delivered the
same combination without giving away this pawn with 35…Rc3! (threatening both …Rc2 & …c6) 36. Qd5 c6 37. Qd2 etc.

36. Qxc6

It is here that the “Black to play and win” exercise begins.

36…Rc3! 37. Qd5 Rc5! 38. Qd2

White is still guarding g2 and prevents …Rc2, but now comes an unexpected shot.

38…Rxc1!

Black wins a piece because 39 Rxf1? Nf3+ picks up the Queen. White struggled on but eventually lost in 56 moves.

Finegold vs Jiminez, St. Louis Open 2013

Here is a game between Ben Finegold, as white, against Fidel Corrales Jiminez, as black, from the 3rd round of the 2013 St. Louis Open. Annotations by Selden Trimble (ST) and NM Ken Jones (KJ).

2015 Missouri Class Championships

Used by permission of Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis; originally posted at http://saintlouischessclub.org/blog/state-championships-break-century-mark-1st-time

State Championships Break Century Mark for 1st Time

Attendance at the Missouri Novice and Class Championship broke the century mark for the first time this year as 124 players competed for the chance to become a state champion between the two events. The winner of each class was awarded a plaque and earned the right to call themselves a Missouri State Champion. The extra participants meant exciting chess, a blitz playoff, and a controversial last round ruling in the Class E section.

The Missouri Novice Championship, a four round tournament, took place on Saturday, June 7. Two players tied for first with a perfect 4/4 score and there was a remarkable nine way tie for third. Owen Hill (unrated) and Austin Roth (950) were the only two to win all of their games and a blitz tiebreaker was used to determine who would go home with a plaque and the title of Missouri Novice Champion.

Roth won the coin toss and selected the White pieces for the five minute blitz game. It was the first time either player had ever sat down to play an over-the-board blitz game and they were both anxious and excited. The game was an up and down affair that could have gone either way until White hung mate in one and Hill became the 2015 Missouri Novice Champion.

“That was pretty intense,” Hill said after the game.

Hill played a nice attacking game in the third round as seen below:

The Missouri Class Championship took place over the same weekend as the Novice Championship but was a five round two day affair with longer time control.

Only two players that qualified for the Master section attended the tournament – NM Iskandar Aripov (2326) and FM Doug Eckert (2294) – so the section was combined with ten players in the Expert section.

Master/Expert Class Winner, Tomislav Juricic // photo: Austin Fuller

Master/Expert Class Winner, Tomislav Juricic // photo: Austin Fuller

Ultimately, it was an expert that took first place in the Master / Expert section. Tomislav Juricic (2144) scored an impressive 4.5/5 points in his first standard rated game since 1999. Juricic had good results against the tournament’s top players, recording a draw against Aripov and a win against Eckert.

Juricic was losing for most his game against Eckert, but he accomplished the surprising idea of trapping the White queen in the center of the board with 44. … Rd5. Eckert assumed he was losing at that point but was stunned to learn after the game that White should still be playing for a win; Eckert’s coordination of his pieces and very strong passed pawn trumped his huge material deficiency.

In Class A, Steven Bange (1910) took first place with a 4/5 score. Bange took down the top two highest rated players in the section with his typical solid style of play. In second place was Kaleb Gosdin (1916), who drove up from Georgia to play at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for the first time. Gosdin enjoyed his stay and promises to return to the chess club in the future.

Class B Winner, Darian Turner // photo: Austin Fuller

Class B Winner, Darian Turner // photo: Austin Fuller

In Class B, Darian Turner (1719) had an exceptionally strong performance and won the section with 4.5/5 points. Turner didn’t seem to make any mistakes in any of his games and he made winning his section look easy. His was the first game to finish in the last round due to an unfortunate opening blunder by his opponent.

Eric Hoffner (1523) won the Class C section with 4/5 points followed by a three way tie for second. In round four, Hoffner played the very unorthodox rook maneuver Rh8-h5-h8-h5. The peculiar rook moves turned out to be a game winner after 24. … Nxe3 as the White queen was unable to take the knight in view of 25. Qxe3 Re5, making sense of the position of the rook on h5.

Class D was won by the section’s highest rated player, Sacchin Milli (1357). Milli scored 4.5/5 points with his only draw coming in the last round to the second place winner David Dong (853). Dong had a phenomenally strong performance as the section’s second lowest rated player by scoring 4/5 points and winning clear second. Dong received an impressive 246 rating point boost for his effort.

In Class E, a very controversial ruling in the final round may have determined the winner of the section. Aaradhya Diwan (1165) had the White pieces against Brandon Stanfield (1050) in round 5 and both players had a chance to compete for first place.

Early in the game, Diwan reported to the tournament directors that Stanfield had touched his queen. Stanfield claimed that he only brushed the piece and never intended to move it, but a witness confirmed that the Black queen was grasped with his fingers and Stanfield was forced to make an undesirable queen move.

Stanfield was on the back foot for the remainder of the game but managed to draw a king and pawn verses king endgame. The draw meant Diwan and Stanfield were guaranteed second place. Kevin Powell (1189) won the section with a score of 4/5.

Join us next month on July 18 as the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis celebrates their seventh anniversary with the Saint Louis Premiere and Amateur – a one day, four round tournament with a prize fund of $1,600 unconditionally guaranteed. Select items will be on sale throughout the Club and members will be treated to free cupcakes.

MCB Submissions

MCB Material Submissions

The MCB is Missouri’s official chess publication, for and by the members of the Missouri Chess Association.

Your help providing material for the MCB is appreciated.

All submissions become the property of the MCA and the MCA reserves the right to edit any and all material received for publication.

Please send material for the MCB, including but not limited to:

  • annotated games (PGN format is preferred, but others can be used)
  • articles written by members
  • articles from outside sources, with permission for republication
  • pictures (with captions please)
  • historical items
  • scoresheets
  • chess related quotes, sayings, and jokes
  • or just about anything else you would like to contribute that is appropriate

 

All contributions that are true, fair, build goodwill and better friendships among the membership are acceptable for publication. Thanks so much to all those who have contributed.

1 2