Michael Mockler’s preceding post to this blog was most interesting. It is a concise presentation of what goes on in the mind of a top local player as he practices this avocation of ours, and it offers insights that can improve your play. A long term goal of mine with all the writing I have done on the ENYCA Blog is to encourage other voices on the site. I’d like to see a half-dozen or more regular contributors to the conversations. For those readers seeking to improve your chess skill, remember Botvinnik’s recommendation: “Analyze, annotate and publish your games, it is the best way to improve.” We, the chess players of Eastern NY and surrounding areas, have this wonderful facility, the blog, where getting your annotations out to the chess public is relatively easy. Make use of it!
The Schenectady Geezers played an away match versus the Albany A team Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The “Old Guys” paid the price for not having Michelman and Liesner on the squad this year. Albany A won 3-1. The results by board were:
Board 1: Howard 1-0 Mockler. Michael played his usual French and Dean answered with the Advanced Variation. The opening was generally equal as is often the case in the Advanced, then just as it appeared Black would secure an advantage, Mr. Mockler sought to force matters by tossing an Exchange into the pot. A bit of very clear calculation, including retuning the Exchange, let White emerge a piece up for a pawn. Minus a Knight, and with only a Queen and a Rook, Black was not able to obtain any significant counter-play even though White’s King was a trifle exposed. The game ended on move 45. Material told in the end.
Board 2: Little 1-0 Magat. This was a complicated version of the Kan Variation in the Sicilian Defense. If anyone had an advantage it was Black through the first thirty moves of the game. Black made a pawn sacrifice that should have brought about a draw fairly quickly. An unfortunate follow-up gave White an extra pawn and that proved to be too much.
Board 3: Wright 1-0 Phillips. Mr. Phillips tried the Budapest Gambit against Mr. Wright’s 1 d4 debut. The first seven moves by each side were all normal book lines. Black had even gotten in .., a7-a5; and I had hopes of seeing Drimer’s Rook Attack (.., Ra8-a6; ..,Ra6-g6/h6; etc.). This innovative line leads to positions of great tension where Black may well win in spectacular style. Alas, it was not to be. Somewhere around move eight both sides began to improvise, and the game became very concrete as the Grandmaster commentators are fond of saying, meaning exact calculation of tactics is required. In a promising position John made a wrong choice or two and White ended up the Exchange. Making things more difficult for Black, besides the immediate material deficit, was the very active employment of White’s Rooks on the center files. The game was over on move 29 with mate or ruinous loss of material coming.
Board 4: Chu 0-1 Henner. This was an odd-ball Reti Opening where a couple of errors by White brought about a position where he had a chance to actually take the advantage. The sequence leading to this point was not logical, but that is the way things sometimes happen in chess. Black had played loosely. Mr. Chu did not grab the chance that was only fleetingly presented. From there his game went downhill in just a few moves. A piece was lost, and then Black broke-in near the White King and the game ended soon thereafter.
While on board 4 there was only a very brief moment when the Geezers’ side had a chance, elsewhere the “Old Guys” could have done better. On both boards 1 and 3 the outcomes could well have been different, and the Geezers might have drawn the match, or even won it.
Wright, Tim – Phillips, John [A52]
CDCL Match Albany A – Schenectady Geezers, Guilderland, NY, 28.05.2014
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4
As GM Viktor Moskalenko likes to call it: The Fabulous Budapest Gambit. Black takes the game out of the well-worn paths of the QGD/KID/QID/Gruenfeld/Dutch/Benoni lines and tries to create a very different kind of game. The Budapest is just about 100 years old and came on the elite chess playing scene in the 1918 Berlin tournament where Vidmar defeated Rubinstein in 24 moves. That was a sensation: The good, but not great, Vidmar crushed one of the top three players in the World at that moment. Had it been a stand-alone success the Budapest might have been forgotten, but in that four-player tournament Mieses (well-passed his prime) and Schechter (nearing the end of his stint as a world class player) garnered another 1½ points with the Budapest! It was clearly an invention with bite.
Defending the pawn on e5 with 4 Bf4, is labeled the Rubinstein Variation, and is the most popular response for White. Defending it with the Knight is the Maroczy Attack, also popular but in second place to Rubinstein’s move.
4…, Bc5 5.e3 Nc6 6.a3 a5
Setting the stage for a most surprising idea: Romanian IM Dolfi Drimer’s invention of the .., Ra8-a6-h6; maneuver that has won many games. Either Mr. Phillips didn’t know the idea, or if he had it in mind, there was no point in the game where he felt confident enough to use it. Here is an example of Drimer’s idea executed in the 85th British Championship in 1998:
This time Black did not crash through. The illustrative game does showcase the current state of theory in this line. The game that gave the Drimer plan great popularity was this one from the EU Junior Championship, Groningen, 1984:
If the Budapest proper wrenches the game away from the common patterns of 1 d4, openings, Drimer’s idea shakes up the normal Budapest positions nearly as much. It is most unusual to see a Rook from the far corner of the board suddenly make its weight felt on the h-file early in the game.
Not quite accurate, or perhaps Black has other ideas in mind.
The usual place for this Bishop is e2. When it is so placed Black has to decide which Knight captures the pawn on e5. On d3 the Bishop prevents Qd1-d5, a move that often fits into White’s scheme. On the plus side, the Bishop at d3 creates a tactical possibility.
Here we begin to see one of the nuances of the Maroczy line: Timing the recapture of the pawn on e5 has to be exact. After Black castles he needs more protection on e5 before it can safely recaptured there. Here 8…, Re8; is normal.
This move lets Black equalize. The tactical approach is: 9 Bxh7+ Kxh7 10 Nxe5 Nxe5 11 Qh5+, recovering the piece and netting a pawn. Black certainly has some compensation; two Bishops pointing at the likely future home of the White King. However, it seems unlikely the half-open h-file will be of any use to Black in the short run. After the game move Black could have had a very satisfactory game with 9…, d6; and the position is taking on a configuration common to the Budapest.
Black neglects his development with this move. He must believe his Queen roaming the White K-side will force some concession that will be useful. If general principles are correct, the lone Queen sortie should fall short of that goal.
10.Nxe5 Qxe5 11.f4,..
This is an important resource for White in this Knight variation. It is useful when Black makes a serious effort to bring out the Ra8 via a6. Vasily Smyslov used the f2-f4 attack several times with success back in the days of my youth. A few years later Boris Spassky improved on Smyslov’s attacking idea behind f2-f4.
11…, Qe7 12.Nd5 Qh4+!?
Fully committing to the idea the Queen will make the difference. Safer is 12…, Qd6 13 Qd3 f5; and while Black still has to get his Q-side pieces into action, the position is playable for him.
13.g3 Qh3 14.Qd3 d6 15.Bd2 Bg4 16.Bc3?!,..
Simple, safe and sane is 16 Kf2, because, with the Bishop guarding d3, sacrificing the Exchange there to allow the remaining Black Rook to occupy the e-file does not work very well at all. Black then must take a move to guard c7, and White can chase off the intruding Queen with Qd3-f1 when he wants to do so. If Black made clear his intention to go all out for a win with his questionable Queen sortie, putting the Bishop on c3 at this point says White is just as serious about trying for a win.
An example of an interesting phenomenon: At the critical moment in a sequence where concrete tactical play is ongoing, a player makes an ordinary move when cold logic tells us it is time for chess fantasy. It has happened to me more than once, and I can attest that I have found this kind of slip fairly often in our local games. Here blocking out the White Q+B battery freeing the Black Queen from guarding h7 is not as important as is putting more pressure on e3 with 16…, Rae1! A logical line of play then is: 17 Kf2 Ne7! 18 Nxc7 Nf5 19 Bd4 Rxe3 20 Bxe3 Bxe3+ 21 Ke1 Qg2 22 Rf1 Qxh2; and Black is winning by a bunch in the resulting position:
I am pretty sure few if any of us of only local talents could or would calculate all of the above and the potential sidelines. But if you are familiar with the Budapest and the Maroczy Varaition, the ideas and these tactics in this particular line are not that unusual. Intuition could very well guide one of our sharper attacking players through this combination.
17.Nxc7 Bf3 18.Rf1 Be4 19.Qd2 Bxc2 20.Nxa8?,..
Once more Mr. Wright foregoes a safe and simple move, 20 Qxc2, then if, 20…, Rac8 21 Nd5 Rfe8 22 0-0-0, and if Black tries to snatch back the pawn with: 22…, Bxe3+ 23 Nxe3 Rxe3 24 Qb3!, and White a strong attack, maybe even a winning one.
Another ordinary move when fantasy is called for. Better 20…, Re8 21 Rf3 Be4 Nc7; Black is no worse than equal in a very unbalanced sort of position. Now White takes control.
21.Qxc2 Bxe3 22.Qe2 Nd4 23.Bxd4 Bxd4 24.0–0–0,..
Black may have forgotten White still has the right to castle. White’s domination of the center files is too great of a positional plus when added to the extra material for Black to last long.
24…, Bc5 25.Rfe1 Rb8 26.Qe6+ Kf8 27.Rxd6 Qh5 28.Rd5 Bf2 29.Rxf5+ 1–0
As Tim Wright said after the game was over: “That was fun!” It was fun also to watch what little of the game I got to see. It was a cut and thrust battle with no quarter given or asked. And, the game is not a bad example of some of the finesses of the Maroczy Attack in the Budapest Defense, albeit the illustrations were in the misses.
The general lesson to be found in this game is about recognizing when ordinary moves will not do and only fantastic moves will fill the bill. It is easy to search for chess fantasy in the calm of ones study with a 2900+ engine purring away at your elbow. In the midst of battle with the clock marking the passing minutes, driving yourself to seek out unordinary moves that ignore relative piece values is difficult. If you take up dramatic openings like the Budapest, then the adventurous mind set has to be part of your preparation. There is an old Middle Eastern curse: “May you live in interesting times.” It can be re-worked here: If you play the Budapest, you will have interesting chess games.
This game finished up just before my game ended. By the time I saw John tip over his King signaling resignation, I was finding the final maneuvers to bring my game to a close. I knew by that point the match was beyond reach. Scoring the point against Gordon only salvaged a little pride; the Geezers avoided a whitewash.