Category Archives: Games

2017 Missouri Open Results

by Randy Merrell

Eighty chess players attended the 2017 Missouri Open Chess Championship held at Unity Village Missouri. Amazingly exactly forty in each section.Thanks to a $500 donated guaranteed first place prize the tournament qualified for the Grand Prix circuit with 6 Grand Prix points. All rounds started within just a few minutes of the advertised time. The Unity Village Hotel was praised as a wonderful venue. The only problem I’m aware of was the proximity of the tables to the air conditioning vents. We eventually found a way to correct the issue.



Boards one and two in the open section held everyone’s attention. In the fourth round a draw with Abhishek Mallela put IM Michael Brooks within reach. Master Ken Jones win over Ron Luther setup the final board one match. However a win by Brooks over Jones, and Ron Luther’s draw with Abhishek Mallela on board two put Brooks over the top for the championship.



Ryan Duan dominated the Reserve section. Finishing a half point out front with a perfect 5.0. Because he elected to enter ineligible for prizes 1st place money went to Xueyi Chen. The first Missouri player was Wesley Willis who won the championship plaque and a share of second place with 4.0 score. Losing only to Cael Province who also took part of the 2nd place prize, along with Charles Carlson.


Pairing Number Name Cash Non-Cash Prize Prize Credited to Pool
1 MICHAEL A BROOKS (4.5/2390) 500 Plaque Place: 1 – $500
20 JONATHA GOLLAPUDI (4.0/1810) 125 U2000/1 – $125
2 ABHISHEK MALLELA (4.0/2228) 125 Place: 2 – $250
6 SAMUEL ISA FOWLER (4.0/2091) 125
30 BRYCEN M PARKER (3.0/1693) 100 U1800/1 – $100
Pairing Number Name Cash Non-Cash Prize Prize Credited to Pool
13 XUEYI CHEN (4.5/1450) 200 Place: 1 – $200
8 CAEL DOU PROVINCE (4.0/1491) 34 Place: 2 – $100
7 WESLEY DAL WILLIS (4.0/1506) 34 Plaque
10 CHARLES W CARLSON (4.0/1472) 34
18 KEN WEST (3.0/1200) 100 Class D/1 – $100
20 ACHILLES B MILLER (3.0/1158) 34 Class E/1 – $100
19 CELINA ZHOU (3.0/1183) 34
29 THOMAS WEI (3.0/1036) 34
38 CRAIG A GUSTAFSON (2.5/0) 100 U1000-Unr/1 – $100

USCF Tournament Crosstable (link)

Here are some games from the event:

Round 4: NM Kenneth Jones (annotator) vs NM Ron Luther

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”2017_MO_Open_JonesVsLuther”][Event “2017 Missouri Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2017.08.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Jones, Kenneth E”]
[Black “Luther, Ronald”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteElo “2193”]
[BlackElo “2225”]
[ECO “B07”]
[EventDate “2017.??.??”]
[PlyCount “71”]{(As my record against strong competition had not been good lately, before
the game I decided to concentrate on making good decisions and let that
take me where it would.)}
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 {(White decides to fortify his center
and just develop behind it. This solid approach puts no immediate pressure
on Black, so he is free to choose any number of set-ups.)} 4. … Nf6 5.
Bd3 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. h3 {(The immediate 7. Re1 or 7. Na3 give Black the
option of …Bg4, while 7. Bg5 leads to positions similar to the Torre
Attack versus the King\’s Indian–but with the important difference that
White has not yet had to commit himself to Nbd2 to achieve them.)} 7. …
e5 8. Na3 {(8. Re1 is often seen, as sometimes White wants to gain space
on the Q-side with a4 before playing Na3.)} 8. … h6 {(Ron correctly
pointed out that 8…a6 is another common idea in this position.)} 9. Nc2
Nh5 10. Re1 Qf6 {(With the idea of …Nf4, the point of Black\’s last few
moves.)} 11. Ne3 exd4? {(A major strategic concession based on a tactical
oversight–Black is not winning a pawn. Ron later suggested 11…Qd8
immediately.)} 12. Nd5 Qd8 13. cxd4 Ne7?
( {(It\’s better to go ahead with} 13. … Nxd4 14. Nxd4 Bxd4 {when my
intention was} 15. Be2!?
( {Probably better is the obvious} 15. Bxh6 Bg7
( 15. … Bxb2? 16. Bxf8 Bxa1?? 17. Be7 {wins} )
16. Bxg7 Nxg7 17. Qf3 {when White has the advantage, but it\’s
still a fight.)} )
15. … Bg7 16. Bxh5 gxh5 17. Qxh5 {when Black\’s K-side is seriously
weakened, though} 17. … Re8! {holds it together for now, for if} 18.
Bxh6?? Re5! {and Black wins!} )
14. Nxe7+ Qxe7 15. e5! {+/- (Now the Nh5 is in serious danger of being
lost to g2-g4.)} 15. … dxe5 16. dxe5 Rd8 17. Qe2
( {(If White wants to be assured of winning the Nh5, he has to do it
now:} 17. g4! {–but after only a few minutes of thought I decided
against it. While objectively it is the best move (winning a piece for
2 pawns) it totally changes the nature of the position. Black\’s pieces
come immediately to life and my K-side is wide open. Ultimately, this
should not be enough compensation for Black; my engine suggests}
17. … g5 18. gxh5 Bxh3 19. Re3! {as an efficient way to defend. But
weighing this against the strength of my position after 17. Qe2 [when
Black still has to find a way to solve the problem of his wayward N] I
opted for practicality over objective superiority. Was it a good
decision? It worked, but outcome bias is hard to ignore….if you had
set up the position after 17. g4! and told me to pick a side, there\’s
no question of the answer!)} )
17. … g5?!
( {(Black should use the opportunity to save the N with} 17. … f5 {,
when} 18. Bc4+ Kh7 19. Be3 {keeps White\’s edge, but it\’s still a
fight.)} )
18. Bc4!?
( 18. Bc2 {is strong too, e.g.} 18. … Nf4 19. Bxf4 gxf4 20. Qe4 {
winning a pawn} )
18. … g4?! {(Black loses a pawn after either}
( 18. … Be6 19. Bxe6 Qxe6 20. Nxg5 )
( {or} 18. … Nf4 19. Bxf4 gxf4 20. Qe4 {, but the text is worse.)} )
19. hxg4 Bxg4 20. Qe4 {+-} Bxf3
( 20. … Qd7 21. Nh2 Bf5 22. Qf3 Bg6 23. g4 )
21. Qxf3 Rd4
( 21. … Nf6 22. Bxh6! )
22. b3! {(Now the Nh5 cannot be saved.)} 22. … Rad8
( 22. … Rh4 23. g3 )
( 22. … Qh4 23. Bxf7+ Kh8 24. Qxh5 )
23. Qxh5 b5 24. Bxb5 Rh4
( {After} 24. … Qb4 25. Bxh6!
( 25. Qe2 {is also good} )
25. … Bxh6 26. Qxh6 {Black won’t survive.} )
25. Ba3! {(The B\’s first move forces a Queen exchange.)}
( 25. Qe2!? Rd5 26. Bb2 {also wins} )
25. … Rxh5 26. Bxe7 Rd5 27. Bc4 Rdxe5 28. Rad1 {(Black\’s counterplay is
over.)} 28. … Rxe1+ 29. Rxe1 Re5 30. Rxe5 Bxe5 31. Kf1
( 31. Bc5 a5 32. Be3 Kg7 33. Bd2 {would have been more efficient, but
I eventually get around to it.} )
31. … Kg7 32. Ke2 f5 33. Kd3 Kg6 34. Bc5 a5 35. Bd4 Bd6 36. Bc3 1-0[/ctpgn]

Round 5: IM Michael Brooks vs NM Kenneth Jones (annotator)

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”2017_MO_Open_BrooksvJones”][Event “2017 Missouri Open”][Site “?”][Date “2017.08.06”][Round “5”][White “Brooks, IM Michael”][Black “Jones, Kenneth E”][Result “1-0”][WhiteElo “2390”][BlackElo “2193”][ECO “B25”][EventDate “2017.??.??”][PlyCount “135”]1. e4 c5 2. d3 {(The dance begins. White keeps the option of placing a
pawn instead of a N on c3, and can react to Black\’s set-up accordingly.)}
2. … Nc6 3. g3
( 3. f4 {, followed by Nf3 & Be2 [sometimes known as “The Big Clamp”]
is another possibility from this move order.)} )
3. … g6 {(In turn, Black goes for the most standard Closed Sicilian
structure.)} 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. f4 d6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Nc3 Nge7 8. Be3 O-O {(After
the game, Mike thought it better to wait on castling until White shows
where his King is going. That idea is worth further investigation, and as
a practical matter it\’s a pretty useful concept to keep in mind, but even
if Black is able to keep finding useful moves while waiting for this
situation to be resolved, I\’d be surprised if 8..0-0 is found to be an
actual mistake.)} 9. h4!? {(A new one on me, and I guess pretty much
everybody–I could find only one master game where it was used.)} 9. …
d5?! {(Now was the time to focus on decision-making, and I failed
miserably–and not just for the relative merits of this move. Clearly,
there are many candidates here: playing on the Q-side with Qa5, Qb6, b6 or
b5; playing in the center with this move, e5 or Nd4; and the critical idea
of holding up White\’s play on the K-side with h5. Instead of focusing on
concrete analysis, I was influenced by generalities [“an attack on the
flank is best countered by an advance in the center”] and made an
oversight immediately.)} 10. Bxc5 d4?
( {(The only way to save material was by} 10. … Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 Qa5 {
, but despite the computer\’s evaluation I have a feeling Black is
really going to miss his dark squared Bishop.)} )
11. Ne2 Qa5+ 12. b4 Nxb4 13. Bxe7 Nc6+ 14. Qd2 Qxd2+ 15. Kxd2 Nxe7 {(In my
earlier calculations I still had the N on c6 here.)} 16. Nexd4 {(Black
doesn\’t have compensation for the pawn. The Bg7 will soon be smothered by
the massive pawn center.)} 16. … Rd8 17. c3 b6 18. a4! Ba6 19. Nb5
( 19. a5! {would save White a lot of trouble.} )
19. … Rac8 20. Rhc1 Nc6 21. e5 {(Since Black has no targets, White has
all the time in the world to try and find better squares for his pieces.)}
21. … Na5 22. Kc2 Rd7 23. Ng5 Rcd8 24. Rd1 Bf8 25. Ne4 Be7 26. Ned6?! {
(a waste of time)} 26. … Kf8 27. Ne4? Bb7 28. Bf3 h5! 29. Nd4?? {(This
allows Black an amazing resource.)} 29. … Bxe4??
( {(I never considered} 29. … Rxd4!! 30. cxd4 Nc6! {when suddenly
most of White\’s pieces are on bad squares. For example} 31. Bh1 Nxd4+
32. Kb2 Ne2! {going after the K-side pawn structure. Black has good
chances to hold here–if he can get in Bxe4 his dark square dominance
gives ample compensation for the exchange.)} )
30. Bxe4 Bc5 31. Ne2 {(Back to the status quo. No commentary is necessary;
while there may be improvements for both sides, White can feint and jab
until he finds the right squares for his pieces.)} 31. … Be7 32. Rf1 Kg7
33. Rf3 Rc7 34. d4 Nc4 35. Bd3 Na5 36. Rff1 Nc6 37. Kd2 Na5 38. Rfb1 Rdc8
39. Ba6 Rd8 40. Kd3 Bf8 41. Ra2 Be7 42. Ke4 Nc6 43. Rab2 Bf8 44. Rd2 Na5
45. Bb5 Nb7 46. Ke3 Na5 47. Kd3 Be7 48. Kc2 Bf8 49. Rbd1 Rd5 50. Kb2 Be7
51. Rd3 Bf8 52. Ng1 Rd8 53. Nf3 Be7 54. Ne1 Nc4+ {(If Black waits, Nc2-e3
lets White break through in the center.)} 55. Bxc4 Rxc4 56. Kb3 Rdc8 57.
Nc2 a6 58. Ne3 b5 {(another concession–White gets the open file.)} 59.
axb5 axb5 60. Ra1 R4c7 61. Ra6 Rb7 62. Rd2 Rbc7 63. Rc2 Rb7 64. Nf1 Kf8
( {(Immediately after the game Mike told me I missed a chance with}
64. … b4 65. c4 Rd8 66. Rd2 Rbd7 {winning back a pawn. True, but the
computer shows an elegant refutation:} 67. c5! Rxd4 68. Rd6!! Rxd2 69.
Nxd2 Bxd6 70. exd6 {and the passers will triumph.)} )
65. Nd2 Kg7 66. Ne4 Kf8? 67. Rca2 Rbc7 68. Ra8 {(Exchanging a pair of
Rooks will break all resistance. Congratulations to state champ Mike
Brooks!)} 1-0[/ctpgn]

2017 Mid-America Open — Hunter Hunted

Below is a game and a couple of game snippets presented by NM Ron Luther from the 2017 Mid-America Open in Saint Louis


Round 1: NM Ron Luther vs GM Elshan Moradiabadi

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”LutherMoradiabadi032417″]
[Event “Mid America Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2017.03.24”]
[Round “1”]
[White “LM Ron Luther”]
[Black “GM Elshan Moradiabadi”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteElo “2205”]
[BlackElo “2633”]
[ECO “B26”]
[Annotator “Ron Luther”]
[PlyCount “79”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 g6 5. d3 Bg7 6. Be3 d6 7. Qd2 Nd4 8. Nge2 Ne7 9. O-O Rb8 10. Nd1 Nxe2+ 11. Qxe2 O-O 12. Qd2 Re8?! {This plan to save the dark-squared Bishop, wastes several moves, and as will be seen later, he has to exchange it anyway later.} ( 12. … Nc6 ) 13. Bh6 Bh8 14. c3 b6 ( 14. … b5 ) 15. Ne3 Bb7 16. f4 d5 17. f5?! { [#]Fortune favors the Bold!} ( 17. Rad1 ) 17. … dxe4? ( 17. … exf5 18. Bf4 dxe4 19. Bxb8 Qxb8 20. dxe4 fxe4 {=+} ) 18. fxe6 {With mate threatened on f7, Black has no time to do other things.} 18. … fxe6 19. g4! ( 19. Ng4 {is the computers move, I like mine better.} ) 19. … Bg7 {Back again?} 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Qf2 Rf8 22. Qg3 { +/-[#] Dark Squares!} 22. … Qd7 23. dxe4 ( 23. g5! {Looks even stronger} ) 23. … Nc6 24. g5! {This further controls the dark squares and sets up some mating nets in the future.} 24. … Rbd8 25. Qh4?! ( 25. Ng4! ) 25. … Ne5 26. Qg3 Nd3? {[#] Was shocked by this move, feeling it was bad.} 27. Rxf8 Rxf8?! ( 27. … Kxf8 {Was the best try.} ) 28. Rd1 {Now Black is in serious trouble.} 28. … Ba6 29. c4 Kg8 {The threat was Rxd3 and Nf5+} 30. Bf1 Bxc4 31. Nxc4 Qd4+ 32. Qe3 Qxc4 33. Qxd3 Qxa2 34. Qc3? {A mistake I correct in 2 moves. I am down to about 20 mins at this point to get to move 40} 34. … Qa4! 35. Qd3 Qa2 36. Qc2! Qa5 37. Bc4 {Having had several GMs in the past on the ropes I was determined not to let this one slip away!} 37. … Re8 38. Qb3 Kf8 39. Bxe6 {While this wins….Qf3+ is faster.} 39. … c4 40. Qf3+ 1-0


Round 2: FM Tansel Turgut vs NM Ron Luther

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”TurgutVsLuther032517″ fen=”1r3nk1/5pb1/p6p/p1BP2p1/2b5/2N2N1P/1P1R1PP1/6K1 b – – 0 25″]

[Event “Mid America Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2017.03.25”]
[Round “2”]
[White “FM Tansel Turgut”]
[Black “LM Ron Luther”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteElo “2344”]
[BlackElo “2204”]
[Annotator “Ron Luther”]
[SetUp “1”]
[PlyCount “25”]
[FEN “1r3nk1/5pb1/p6p/p1BP2p1/2b5/2N2N1P/1P1R1PP1/6K1 b – – 0 25”]

{[#] In my 2nd rd game vs FM Turgut after some rather poor opening play we
reached this position and I played…}
25. … Nd7?! {Missing the following…}
( 25. … Bxc3! 26. bxc3 Rb5 {Giving Black good winning chances. But
after…} )
26. Bd4 f6 27. Nh2 h5 28. Nf1 Bxf1 29. Kxf1 f5 30. Ne2 Rb5 31. Bxg7 Kxg7
32. h4 Kf6 33. hxg5+ Kxg5 34. Nd4 Rb6 35. g3 Kf6 36. f4 Rd6 37. Nc2 Nc5 {A
draw was agreed.} 1/2-1/2


Round 4: NM Ron Luther vs Gopal Menon

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”LutherVsMenon032617″ fen=”8/2rk4/p7/1pR4p/8/1PPN3P/4K3/1n6 w – – 0 36″]

[Event “Mid America Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2017.03.26”]
[Round “4”]
[White “LM Ron Luther”]
[Black “Gopal Menon”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteElo “2204”]
[BlackElo “2346”]
[Annotator “Ron Luther”]
[SetUp “1”]
[PlyCount “5”]
[FEN “8/2rk4/p7/1pR4p/8/1PPN3P/4K3/1n6 w – – 0 36”]

{[#] Here in the 4th rd with White vs G Menon, we reached this position.
He had only seconds to find 5 more moves before the 1st time control. My
plan was to play…}
36. Ne5+! Kd6 37. Rxc7 Kxc7 38. Kd3 {However I allowed myself to be
“enertia-ed”, and swapped rooks instead, only to draw after a few more
moves.} 1/2-1/2

Ray Gatten vs Ken Jones, 10th USCCC Prelim

Game and annotations courtesy of NM Ken Jones

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=GattenVsJones1990]

[Event “10th USCCC Prelim”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “1990.??.??”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Gatten, Ray G”]
[Black “Jones, Kenneth E”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E87”]
[Annotator “Ken Jones”]
[PlyCount “56”]
[EventDate “1990.??.??”]
[EventType “corr”]
[Source “ChessBase”]
[SourceDate “1999.07.01”]

{(Although this game is over 25 years old, the opening remains topical. It
also brings back fond memories; by winning it, I finished a half a point ahead
of my opponent and advanced to my first US Correspondence Chess Championship
final.)} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 $5 {(This was originally billed as an
“Anti-Grunfeld” variation, and is still seen at the highest levels today)} Bg7
({(Black can also go down unusual paths with} 3… Nc6) ({or} 3… Nh5 {)}) 4.
e4 O-O $5 5. Nc3 d6 {(after some side-stepping we’re back to the Saemisch)} 6.
Be3 Nbd7 7. Nh3 {(First played by Nimzovitch in 1929(!!), this move intends to
support the e4 pawn with Nf2, rather than by Nge2-g3)} e5 8. d5 Nb6 $5 {(This
is an idea of Missouri IM Mike Brooks, who showed me a few of his games with
it. [Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down!] His plan was to continue with ..
.c6, …cxd5, …Bd7, and then play for …Nc4 with either …Rc8 or …Qc7.)}
9. c5 {(There is no reason to avoid the natural 9. Nf2)} dxc5 ({(Funnily
enough, Black can still achieve his aim after} 9… Nbd7 10. cxd6 cxd6 11. Nf2
Nb6 {etc., but now there is an attract option)}) 10. Bxc5 Bxh3 $1 {(Finding
this Bishop a satisfactory assignment is often problematic in the King’s
Indian but here he gets to go out a hero)} 11. Bxf8 Bxf8 12. gxh3 Nh5 {(With
White’s K-side shattered and having better development and total domination
over the dark squares, there is little doubt that Black has full compensation
for the exchange)} 13. Kd2 $2 {(Too extravagant–White is running before he is
chased.)} c6 14. Kc2 cxd5 15. Nxd5 Rc8+ 16. Kb3 $2 ({(Occasionally one sees a
game where a bold King march is good, but here White should really slink back
with} 16. Nc3 {)}) 16… Nxd5 17. Qxd5 Qb6+ 18. Qb5 Qf6 {(Eyeing f3, of course,
but really intending the powerful Rook lift)} 19. Ka4 {(“Consistency may be
overrated as a virtue.” –Joseph Heller)} Rc6 20. b4 $6 {(This only makes it
worse–not that an acceptable alternative was available)} Rb6 21. Qc4 Rxb4+ 22.
Qxb4 Bxb4 23. Kxb4 Qb6+ {(This simple check wins material)} 24. Bb5 {(Both 24.
Ka4 & 24. Qc3 are met by Qd4+, and 24. Ka3 a5 is no help either)} a6 25. a4
axb5 26. a5 Qd6+ 27. Kxb5 Nf4 28. Rhf1 Nd3 {(Black mates in 4 moves or less,
so White resigned)} 0-1[/ctpgn]

Marty Phillips vs Ken Jones, 2016 Springfield Open

Game and annotations courtesy of NM Ken Jones. Round 4 of the 2016 Springfield Open held at Missouri State University.

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”PhillipsVsJones2016″]
[Event “Springfield Open”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2016.10.23”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Phillips, Martin”]
[Black “Jones, Kenneth”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E81”]
[WhiteElo “1837”]
[BlackElo “2199”]
[Annotator “Ken Jones”]
[PlyCount “46”]
[EventDate “2016.??.??”]
[Source “ChessBase”]
[SourceDate “1999.07.01”]

{(One of the best things about returning to tournament play has been
reacquainting with chess friends from many years ago. Before the start of the
tournament, I got to catch up a little with Marty Phillips; as the only two
perfect scores, we met at the board in round 4.)} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7
4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 Nbd7 {(This system surged in popularity after GM
Nunn won some nice games with it in the 1980’s)} 7. Qd2 c5 8. d5 Ne5 9. h3 {
(Intending to force the Ne5 back, but it’s not so simple. Meanwhile White
spends another tempo on a pawn move and creates another hole on the K-side.)}
Nh5 10. Qf2 ({The alternative} 10. Bf2 {led to a Black brilliancy in
Belyavsky-Nunn, Wijk aan Zee 1985 after} f5 11. exf5 Rxf5!! 12. g4 Rxf3! 13.
gxh5 Qf8) 10… f5 11. O-O-O?? ({(After the better} 11. exf5 gxf5 12. f4 Ng6 {
Black has adequate counterplay)}) 11… f4 12. Bd2 Ng3 {(Now White has no play
on the K-side and can only await Black’s assault on the Q-side)} 13. Rh2 a6 14.
Kb1 ({One problem is that after the obvious} 14. Nge2?? Nd3+ {wins the Queen})
14… Bd7 ({A good alternative is to play it like a Benko Gambit with} 14… b5
15. cxb5 Nxf1 16. Qxf1 axb5 17. Nxb5 Qb6 {with powerful threats}) 15. Bc1 Rb8
16. Bd3 Nh5 {(Not allowing White to bail out with 17. Bxf4 Rxf4 18. Qxg3)} 17.
Rd2 b5 18. Nge2 Qa5 19. Rh1? Rb7?? ({(I was so focused on a methodical
buildup that I overlooked that} 19… Nxd3 20. Rxd3 bxc4 {wins a piece
immediately:} 21. Rd2 Bxc3 22. Nxc3 Qxc3) 20. Qe1 bxc4 ({(And even here, much
more thematic would be} 20… Nxd3 21. Rxd3 bxc4 22. Rd1 Ng3! {since} 23. Rg1
(23. Nxg3 Bxc3) 23… Nxe2 24. Nxe2 Qa3 25. Qd2 Rfb8 {is crushing}) 21. Bc2 Bb5
(21… Rfb8 {also wins}) 22. Ka1 Nd3 23. Bxd3 cxd3 {(And White, seeing that
his intended 24. Nxb5 Qxb5 25. Nc3 is met by Bxc3 26. bxc3 Qb1 mate, resigned.)
} 0-1[/ctpgn]

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.




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.




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…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…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.




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.


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.


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.


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).

[ctpgn layout=”left” id=”FinegoldvsJiminez2013″]
[Event “St. Louis Open”]
[Site “Chess Club in St. Louis”]
[Date “2013.04.13”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Ben Finegold”]
[Black “Fidel Corrales Jiminez”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteElo “2569”]
[BlackElo “2669”]
[ECO “E38”]
[EventDate “2013.??.??”]
[Annotator “ST–Selden Trimble; KJ–Ken Jones”]

1.d4 {This is one of most exciting games I ever witnessed. I was playing in the same tournament and in the same room as GM Finegold and GM Corrales Jiminez.–ST} 1…Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bg5 O-O 8.e3 h6 9.Bh4 Be7 10.Be2 b6 11.O-O Bb7 12.Rad1 {Black has developed solidly but must now find a way to counter White’s pressure on the d-file–KJ.} 12…d6 {After this natural move, White is able to force new concessions. Perhaps 12… Rc8 13. Rd2 Na5 (Yermolinsky-Rensch 2011) is a better way to get counterplay–KJ.} 13.Rd2 Rc8 {Passive, but maybe necessary is 13…Qb8 14. Rfd1 Rd8–KJ.} 14.Rfd1 a6 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Ne4 {Also good is 16. Qe4 to get at the weakened K-side, but White’s move forces the play–KJ.} 16…Nb4 17.Qb1 Bxe4 18.Qxe4 Nxa2 19.Nd4 Nb4? {Black has to try 19…f5–KJ.} 20.Nxe6! {From Finegold’s blog–ST.} 20…fxe6 21.Qg6+ Kh8 22.Qxh6+ Kg8 {At this point, I looked at the game and assumed it was a draw–ST, but I have no doubt GM Finegold saw the fine Bishop manuever that follows when he played 20. Nxe6!–KJ.} 23.Qg6+ Kh8 24.Bg4! Qd7 25.Bf5! {This threatens mate. If 25. … B8, then 26. Rd4 (renewing the mate threat) Rf7 27 Rh4+ forces mate — KJ} 25…exf5 26.Rd4 f4 27.Rxf4 f5 {At last the bishop gets in the play, but too late!–ST} 28.Rdd4 Qd8 29.Rf3 f4 30.Rxd6!! {From Finegold’s blog–ST; A splendid culmination of White’s imaginative play–KJ.} 30…Bh4 31.Qh5+ Kg8 32.Rg6+ Kf7 33.Rxf4+ Ke7 34.Qe5+ {Black resigned. After the game, six grandmasters sat around a board and analysed it: Finegold, Seirawan, Robson, So, Corrales, and Hoyos. That was something to watch–ST.} 1-0