Monday, April 28, 2008


Although I promised to return back to the mid 19th century with the continuation of some nuggets of the London 1851 event, I had to continue my divergence and brag ... er blog about my recent win at the one day event I played in on Sunday.

The Massachusetts G60 event featured 4 sections, Open, U2000, U1700 and U1400. I decided not to play up and played in the U1700 since my rating has been barely staying above water for class B (1628).

I won three games and drew one in a 4 round Swiss to earn a tie for first place with some kid. We split the first and second place bounty and walked out with 150 bucks. Nice, this will go to my Philly World open Crash and burn tour this summer.

In any case, the last round game can be found here. Oddly enough, between rounds Ken and I had played against each other at an earlier event ( Sturbridge) where I won, and we were discussing the game and how I played the caro-kann. He asked what I would play in the advanced variation if white were to play h4. I told him, h6 is typically a way I handle it. He proceeded to caution me about playing h6 instead of h5 which prevents g4 ( bayonet).

2 rounds later, the game began and I was playing black to an advanced variation of the C-K. He deliberately chose NOT to play the h4 bayonet line since he told me in his mind how to refute it.

At one point, tired after 6 hours of chess I decided to go into a premature queen side attack because I was full of myself. I ended up in a tight spot:

After 15 ... b5 Yeah I had a headache too!

Long story short, I sac my queen in exchange for the two rooks. Then I recover with a knight fork against his queen and bishop. He then decides to sac his queen for a rook and knight! Down to a 2 Bishops versus Rook and and Bishop endgame. I had 30 minutes on my clock and my opponent was down to under 4 minutes! A point is a point... regardless of how ugly this ducking was.

My next post will wrap up the first round of the London 1851 series before getting into the second round eliminations. Stay tuned to learn about the person who earned the nickname " the britsh sloth" and why time controls became important in the following year's event!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Meeting Wetzell and ANOTHER PAWN MATE!

I will take a slight break from my London 1851 temporal sojourn and come to the present for this post.

First, I met THE MAN, Rolf Wetzell and had him sign my dog-eared copy of his LANDMARK, BDK- D-graded-but-that's-because-he-doesn't-know-better, book titled "Chess Any Age"

He's a decent guy. I joked about not wanting to tear up dollar bills to condition myself for better adherence to time control as suggested in his book. He said that the idea actually stemmed from a golf improvement thing where if you miss the par you are to tear up a dollar.

It warmed my heart to watch this advanced aged man beat the pants off of a 1900 rated kid! He is my idol and inspiration...knowing he earned his master title after reaching 50... and sustaining that level of play, unlike others ( including myself) who sometimes feel their rating is impervious to any kind of chess improvement plan.

In any case, the game I played against a player 100+ higher in rating than I was a Caro-Kan than had me in a slightly bad position with a pawn down entering the middle-game. The only compensation was that I was able to activate my rooks and double them up while attack the center as I learned from my chess ancestors. The game ( posted here with my annotations) ended in a brilliant romantic style, complete with the tension grabbing advanced h7 pawn for white not being able to queen due to my persistent mate threat.

Here is the final position to placate the lazy:

position after 41...b5#

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The first Blunderprone: Kieseritzky

I decided to shift gears slightly and created an account on to post my games as this post will reference four games. I am continuing my series of blunderprone analysis of the games of the first international chess tournament in London 1851. Today, I will focus on French chess master, Lionel Kieseritzky.

Lionel Kieseritzky has to be related to me from a chess genealogical sense because of his famous choking under tournament pressure ( I'll get into that shortly). Prior to the London 1851 event, he became a chess professional in Paris, giving lessons or playing games for five francs an hour at the Cafe de la Regence, and editing a chess magazine ( La Régence) which was the 19th century equivalent of a blog. He became one of the four leading French masters of the time, alongside Louis de la Bourdonnais, Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant and Boncourt, and for the few years before his death was among the top two players in the world along with Howard Staunton. His knowledge of the game was significant enough to make contributions to chess theory, but his career was somewhat blighted by misfortune and a passion for the unsound. His popularity was jaded by his narcissistic nature as he self-proclaimed being the "Chess-Messiah".

The first game ( with blunder's annotations here) finished in 20 minutes with a gross blunder:

20 Rg3???

Lionel Kieseritzky was so focused on delivering a king side attack on his own opponent that he neglected the mate threat on his own f2 square. Howard Staunton even went on to comment about this first game as having been "never equalled even among beginners of the game"!

Being a best of three elimination, the second game ended in a surprising draw. I think Kieseritzky should have won the endgame given the final position after Anderssen offers his rook:

Game 2 Position after 55. Rxc3

Why was a draw accepted or offered by Lionel? Clearly, the rook can stop either rook pawn. Was he that rattled after game one?

With only a 1/2 point going into the third match against Anderssen, a similar scenario to the first game presented itself in the next game that lasted only 17 moves before he dropped a bishop and resigned.

To add insult to injury to this self proclaimed "Chess-messiah", to warm up for the tournament, he decided to play a game at the Simpson's-in-the-Strand Divan, a local pub and eatery in London known to host casual games of chess. The game later became know as the Immortal Game for the stellar sacrifices that Anderssen played to deliver the final blow on move 24. The game start by making Anderssen look like a patzer having him move his king so he can't castle and obliterating his king side pawns. Later and calmly, Anderssen develops and abandons a Bishop, both rooks and a queen.... yes all his heavy hitting pieces... in a clever way to deliver a 3 piece suit of a mate. Incidentaly, in true blunderprone form, Kieseritzky posted his game on his "blog" otherwise known as the French chess magazine La Régence published in July 1851.

That is why, from this day forward, Lionel Kieseritzky, in my mind will be forever dubbed " Blunderprone the first"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

London 1851

First, since my games lately really lack any imagination and the fact that I've been sucking wind, I decided to continue posting about games I am studying from the London 1851 event. This post details the GM-RAM game 3 but I will diverge from that book from here ( with the exception of Game 4 )
Howard Staunton faught controversary from a rival London club as he went out of his way to organize the first international chess event to take place around the same time of the 1851 world exhibition. Despite the boycott from the London Club, he was still able to raise 500 british pounds to fund the event and invite the region's top players. Local representation aside from Staunton included Henry Buckle, Marmaduke Wyvill, Elijah Williams, Captain Hugh Alexander Kennedy, Samuel Newham, and Henry Bird.

The only American was Lowenthal, who was actually a Hungarian chess master who fled to America following the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Paul Morphy was only 14 at the time and wasn't traveling out of New Orleans for another 7 years.

Adolf Anderssen was the clear winner of the sixteen player event. He was hesitant to play at first because as a proffessor, he didn't feel he could afford the travel expenses. Howard Staunton assured him that he would pay for his expenses out of his own pocket if he didn't win any prize. Anderssen had not played in any tournament of this kind prior to the event. He was considered the unofficial first world chess champion as a result of this event.

The game below is my feeble attempt at annotating the second game against Howard Staunton in the elimination style event ( no round robins or swiss systems like today). Despite all the work, disputes, negotiations, and organization of such a monumental event, Howard made it to round 3 only to be elimnated by Anderssen. Howard's dissapointing fourth place finish was thought to be a result of the fact that he had to perform a double duty as a participant as well as a promoter.

In the game below, there was not a major material imbalance like the Game in my last post. Rather, move 28, Anderssen found a very subtle yet powerful move that took advantage of Howard's disconnected pieces.

(64) Adolf Anderssen - Howard Staunton [C00]04, London 04, London, 1851

1.e4 e6 2.d4 The "French defence" is named after a match played by correspondence between the cities of London and Paris in 1834 (although earlier examples of games with the opening do exist). 2...g6 Staunton attempts a flank approach to controlling the center.

3.Bd3 Bg7 4.Be3 Anderssen's games tend to favor positioning the Bishops on e3 and d3 when he can. 4...c5 5.c3 cxd4 6.cxd4 Oddly enough, 7 years later, In 1858, Paul Morphy defeats Adolf Anderssen with this same move order as white. Anderssen tried an improvement with Nc6 instead of Howard's Qb6. : Morphy,P - Anderssen,A [C00] Paris m2 , 20.12.1858 1.e4 e6 2.d4 g6 3.Bd3 Bg7 4.Be3 c5 5.c3 cxd4 6.cxd4 Nc6 7.Ne2 Nge7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nbc3 d5 10.e5 f6 11.f4 fxe5 12.fxe5 a6 13.Qd2 Nb4 14.Bg5 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 Bd7 16.Qh3 Qe8 17.Ng3 Rc8 18.Rxf8+ Qxf8 19.Rf1 Qe8 20.Qh4 Nf5 21.Nxf5 gxf5 22.Rf3 Bb5 23.Rg3 Rc7 24.Bf6 f4 25.Qxf4 Qf8 26.Nxb5 axb5 27.Qh6 Kh8 28.Rxg7 Rxg7 29.Kf2 Kg8 30.Qxg7+ Qxg7 31.Bxg7 Kxg7 32.g4 b4 33.h4 b5 34.Ke3 b3 35.a3 1-0

6...Qb6 Staunton attempts to exploit 2 weaknesses with this move : d4 and b2 7.Ne2 Anderssen PLaces the knight on e2 to defend the d4 pawn but also for flexibility to support the queen side or to go to g3. 7...Qxb2 8.Nbc3 Qb6 9.Rc1 Anderssen's lead in development seems to compensate the loss in material.

9...Na6 Staunton sees the Nb5 to c7 threat and compensates. [9...Nc6 10.d5!] 10.Nb5 Bf8 I fail to see the importance of this move by Staunton for other than setting up d6. This takes the pressure off of d4. It is a defensive maneuver. Staunton was a strong positional player in his heyday. Often making subtle moves. Problem with this position is that Anderssen is a sharp tactician known for sacrificing pieces to blow open the position. [10...d5 11.e5 with Nd6 to follow] 11.0-0 d6 Why not 11... d5? [11...d5 12.e5] 12.d5 Qa5 What are some alternatives for Staunton's queen? [12...Qd8 Looks even worse]

13.Bd4 Nice forcing move. Causes black to lock up the center adn imprison that bishop. 13...e5 [13...f6 This just weakens the position even more. 14.dxe6 Bxe6] 14.Bc3 Qd8 Anderssen leaves Staunton very little options. 15.f4 f6 16.fxe5 fxe5 17.Qa4 Anderssen focuses on the weakness of the d6 square to over-extend the defenders. 17...Bd7 18.Bb4 Nh6 Staunton has to lose maneuver his knight to f7 to support the weak d6. 19.Kh1 prevents any inbetween move like Qb6+

19...Nf7 20.Qa3 Can you feel the pressure? I feel the pressure on d6! 20...Nc5 21.Nxd6+ Bxd6 22.Bxc5 Bxc5 23.Qxc5 not only did this exchange gain a pawn, but Anderssen now OWNS the c-file and Staunton cannot castle.

23...Qe7 24.Qc7 Nd6 Staunton tries to regain control of the c-file 25.Qa5 h5 This is just not strong enough to thwart off Anderssen's attack. Rc8 looked more promising or even Qd8. 26.Rc7 Rf8 Sure, there is the potential of a back rank mate on f1 against Anderssen and this sets up some threats but the set up is too time consuming allowing White to follow through with the plan. 27.Rfc1 a6 prepares to move the rook

28.Nd4! This is just brilliant. Black can't take it becuase his game would just crumble. 28...Rc8 [28...exd4 29.e5 Nf5 30.e6 with two strong passed pawns ] 29.Ne6 Rxc7 30.Rxc7 Rf7 31.Qb6 Rf6 32.h3 Alleviates any back rank threats 32...g5 33.Qb2 e5 is just sitting there.

33...Nb5 34.Bxb5 axb5 35.Qxe5 h4 Black needs something a little stronger. Perhaps Rf1+ 36.Rxb7 Rf1+ 37.Kh2 Qf6 mate in 7 forced 38.Rb8+ Ke7 [38...Kf7 39.Rf8+ Ke7 (39...Kg6 40.Rxf6+ Rxf6 41.Qxg5+ Kf7 42.Qg7+ Ke8 43.Qg8+ Ke7 44.Qd8+ Kf7 45.Qxd7+ Kg6 46.Qg7+ Kh5 47.Qg5#) 40.d6#] 39.d6+ Kf7 40.Rf8+ Kg6 41.Rxf6+ Rxf6 42.Qxg5+ Kf7 43.Qg7+ Kxe6 44.Qe7# 1-0

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Anderssen versus Staunton ( GM-RAM game 2)

Since I too am a believer of the GM-RAM as well as thankful to DK
for sending me the PGNs of the games as well as inspiring me to go beyond the endgame exercises, I have been looking over these golden nuggets. I espeically was inspired by takchess's and Likesforest's comments here about the first game of Mayet vs Anderssen.

The major lesson I get from this is that Staunton's inattention to developement allowed Anderssen to steam roll a king side attack. Staunton's attenpt at counter-attacking was little too late.

I decided to post my feeble attempt at annotating this wonderful game from the GM-RAM collection:

(60) Adolf Anderssen - Howard Staunton
[B40]1, London 1851

1.e4 c5
In 1813, the English master Jacob Henry Sarratt christened the opening "the Sicilian Defence," referring to an old Italian manuscript that used the phrase, "il giocho siciliano." The reason I mention Sarrat is because there is one game in Chess Base that is a queen's pawn game that starts out 1.d4 d5 2. Bf4 just like teh London. He sets up an attack on that got his name called the Sarrat Attack. But I digress, back to the game. Anderssen and Staunton both were early proponents of the sicilian which helped promote the popularity of this defence.
2.d4 cxd4 3.Nf3 The Smith-Morra wouldn't come to popularity for another 100 years. For now Anderssen went for an early developmental tempo.

3...e6 Staunton realized that development was crucial over holding on to the pawn. Nc6 doesn't hold on to the pawn. White can't play 4. Bb5, black has Qa5+. White is better off exchanging in the center: [3...Nc6 4.Nxd4 Nxd4 5.Qxd4 Despite the Queen in the center, with Black's queen knight gone, White has a comfortable lead in development. Black has to move pawns to activate both bishops. White is ready to roll.]

4.Nxd4 Bc5 (f2 is a common target in these classic games. 5.Nc3 a6 This addresses the momentum White has on b5. However is it too passive? [5...Ne7 6.Bf4 Nbc6 7.Ndb5 e5 I think this line equalizes] 6.Be3 Ba7 Staunton sees that the bishop hangs on c5 and could potentially drop a central pawn. [6...Nf6 7.Nxe6 dxe6 (7...fxe6 8.Bxc5 with e5 to follow.) 8.Bxc5] 7.Bd3 Black is falling further behind in development. 7...Ne7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qh5 With his development complete, Anderssen begins a king side attack. Modern advice suggests that being ahead in development warrents initiating an attack.

9...Ng6 Staunton continues to waste tempo moving pieces more than once. But Anderssen is not giving him too many options. [9...d6 10.e5 g6 11.Qg5 dxe5 (11...Nbc6 12.Nxc6 Nxc6 13.exd6) 12.Qxe5 Nbc6 13.Nxc6 Nxc6 In either line, the exchanges still reveals a lack in development and defences on the king side and the double bishops pointed at h7 and h6 give white the advantage.]

10.e5 Qc7 This may not be exact, d5 might actually be better as it allows the bishop to develop. 11.Rae1 b5 12.f4 This setup for white is the precursor to Lasker's attack which shows up about 50 years after this. The bishops on b1-h7 and c1-h6 diagonals along with the potential of a rook luft increase the potential for a bishop sacrifice to open up the pawns on the kingside. Lasker moved the dark sqared bishop's to teh a1-h8 diagonal with lethal results. Staunton was playing for a flank attack to counter the King side but he doesn't have enough momentum. 12...Bb7 13.Ne4 Heading to g5 would be lethal for Staunton.

13...Bxe4 14.Bxe4 Nc6 15.Nxc6 dxc6 the queen is rather useless on c7 now. 16.g4 Rad8 17.Kh1 breaking the potential for any inbetween checks and allowing more freedom for the bishop on e3 17...c5 Staunton really needed to reinforce the king side and plug some holes on the b1-h7 diagonal 18.Rf3 Qa5 Wasting more time on the wrong side of teh board. 19.Ref1 Qa4 20.Bd3 Qxa2 21.Rh3 h6 22.g5 Bowling with pawns. 22...Rxd3 Anderssen's light squared bishop was a stalwart in this position. Staunton is left for desparate action. 23.cxd3 Qd5+ Staunton's only hope is to neutralize the kingside attack with counter play on the queen side. IF only he could exchange down to minor pieces against a pawn majority on that side of the board. 24.Rff3 This limits Staunton's initiative. 24...Ne7 25.gxh6 g6 [25...gxh6 26.Rhg3+ Ng6 27.Qxh6] 26.h7+ Kh8 27.Qg5 Nf5 28.Qf6+ Ng7 29.f5 Opens the diagonal for the bishop 29...Qb3 Staunton, in a moment of desparation, attempts to look for a perpetual check. 30.Bh6 Qd1+ 31.Kg2 Qe2+ 32.Rf2 1-0

To placate the lazy:

I welcome all feedback and corrections. I hope you all enjoy this game.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bowling with Pawns

Last night's venture at the fight club was pretty spectacular. First, I must digress. I call the chess club " fight club" to my unlearned friends and coworkers who ask where I am going on a Tuesday night with a mysterious looking sack. This description also fits well when I come in looking all beat on Wednesday mornings. But when I have to tell them a 10 year girl beat me at the fight club like last week, that tends to blow the tough guy cover.

Using my gray hair ratio calculator and dividing out any coefficients of Grecian formula, MY assessment was that last night's opponent exceeded my age. I was relieved to know I was going to have a more evenly matched melee. However, He proceeded to set up on the adjacent board ( really showing his age) , began a game and only when HIS opponent's REAL opponent showed up, did he realize he was supposed to be on board 17 not 18. Of course I had no idea who he was until he showed up to play on my board. It cost him 5 minutes off the clock. I offered to reset the clock to be fair.

I played my lame-ass London game to all you nay-sayers out there. But I have flair! He really didn't know what to expect and played "normal" developing moves... which of course... allowed me to quickly deploy my pieces in a general King side direction quicker than mercury escaping a broken thermometer.

After locking up the center, I decided to go bowling. 13 g4! in the game below is just beautiful. He loses a knight or loses the game. But then I give back material ( to be fair... yeah right) while I set up a 3 piece battery on the open g-file. I send another strike down the alley with the h-pawn. I chase his king out towards the center ( after making a mistake 27 Rxg6 was more decisive than Bxg6+). The slam dunk is a king mated on f4.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Point goes to Who-ville

My nemesis and I were paired again last night at the club. In the end I lost to a nice tactical rook sac and queen offering because I NEGLECTED MY BACK RANK.

On the bright side, Rolf Wetzell was at the club. I will take the book that I own in next week to have him sign it! Take that BDK!