- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2007

With spring in the air and Easter around the corner, our topic for today is resurrection and rising from the dead.

Annotators have a clear bias toward what could be called the “one-act” game, in which the victor flawlessly builds up his advantage and puts away his opponent, preferably with a sound and spectacular concluding tactic.

However, over-the-board chess, even at the very highest levels, is rarely so schematic. In the heat of battle, players regularly throw away large advantages, lose won games, surge ahead and fall back before the final result is determined.

Speaking of resurrections, the South rose again at the U.S. Amateur Team Championships last weekend, an Internet playoff of the four U.S. regional team champions. Southern champ Four Found Fischers (Daniel Ludwig, Corey Acor, Jeffrey DeJesus and Anthony Felicione) took the title with a 21/2-11/2 win over the North’s Repeat Offenders.

Acor, a Florida master, scored the winning point against fellow master John Langreck, barely holding on after a disastrous opening and turning the tables just at the very end of the game.

Black’s miseries can be traced to 9. Bh6 Be5? (0-0 10. Bxg7 Kxg7 11. 0-0-0 Be6 12. f4 is only a slight edge for White) 10. 0-0-0, when Langreck already threatens shots like 11. f4 Bf6 12. e5! dxe5 13. Qe3 Bd7 14. fxe5 Bxe5 15. Bg7. By 14. Bh6 Re7 15. Nd5 Rf7, White is way ahead on all of the judges’ cards but never manages to deliver the knockout.

One missed opportunity: 17. Nc3 (instead of the game’s 17. Nxe7!?), when both 17…d5 18. exd5 Nf5 19. Rhe1+ Re7 20. Rxe7+ Kxe7 21. Qe1+ Kd6 (Kf7 22. d6+ Be6 23. Qxe6 mate) 22. Nb5+ Kc5 23. Qa5! b6 24. b4+ Kxc4 25. Na3+ Kc3 26. Rd3 mate; and 17…Ng8 18. Bxf7+ Kxf7 19. f5 g5 20. h4 Nxh6 21. hxg5 Ng8 22. Rxh7+ Bg7 23. Nd5 fxg5 24. f6 Nxf6 25. Qxg5 are decisive.

Again, 19. e5!, busting open the center, looks conclusive in lines like 19…fxe5 (Bc6 20. exd6 cxd6 21. Rxe7+ Kxe7 22. f5 gxf5 23. Qe2+ Be4 24. g4) 20. fxe5! Bxe5 21. Rf1 Bg7 22. Bxg7 Rxg7 23. Rde1+ Re7 24. Bf7+ Kf8 25. Qh6 mate and 19…dxe5 20. fxe5 Bf5 21. Qb4 Qc8 22. exf6 Bxf6 23. Rxe7+ Bxe7 24. Qc3.

With 20. Bb5 Kd7! 21. Bxc6+ bxc6 22. Qd3 Qg8, Acor has survived the first onslaught and even musters up his first threat of the game, a moral victory despite his still-dreary position.

White’s failure to put away his opponent finally costs him: 33. Qh3 (Black can’t defend on the h-file, but now he gets a sliver of real counterplay) Rxe4 34. Bc1 Re1 35. Rxh7?? (see diagram; 35. Qc3! Rbe5 36. Rxh7 Qg5 37. Rxh8+ Kb7 38. Qd2 holds White’s edge) Qg5! 36. Rxh8+ Kb7, and Langreck resigns because he can’t protect the pinned bishop on c1.

Jose Raoul Capablanca, world champion from 1921 to 1927, was famed for the lucid perfection of his play, but the Cuban immortal also could be a street brawler, memorably fighting his way back into games he should have lost.

In his first great international tournament at San Sebastian, Spain, in 1911, Capablanca quickly digs a deep hole against the experienced Polish-French master David Janowsky. In his “My Chess Career,” Capablanca fingers the insipid 13. Be2? as the source of his later woes (he knew 13. g3 was better but feared the pawn move looked too “amateurish” for such an august tournament) and admits he was completely outplayed by Black up through move 23.

Janowsky’s 24. Bxc4 Bxh2+! (a sacrifice White foresaw but felt he could do nothing to prevent) unleashes a vicious attack that sends the White king fleeing. Black spurns numerous chances to draw by perpetual check and winds up with four pawns for the piece after 46. Kc1 Nc3+ 47. Kb1 fxe6.

But as in the first game, White’s first glimmer of counterplay seems to throw Black off stride, as Capablanca’s b-pawn takes off down the board. In a wickedly complex position, Black finally surrenders the win on 52. b6 Qe4! 53. Bxe5!? (a desperado that confuses Black; if 53. Nc5, Black wins 53…h2! 54. Nxe4 [Qxh2 Nxc5+] h1=Q+ 55. Ka2 Qxe4 56. Qb1 Qb7 wins) Qe1+?? (the win was still to be had on 53…Qh1+! 54. Ka2 Nxe5, and the queen prevents the White b-pawn from advancing) 54. Ka2 Nxe5 55. b7 Nd7 56. Nc5! Nb8 57. Qxc4+ Kh8 58. Ne4!.

The White knight prevents any Black queen checks, and Capablanca sets up a killing battery of checks after a final Janowsky inaccuracy: 58…Kh7? (still holding was 58…Qe3! 59. Qc8+ Kh7 60. Qxh3+ Qxh3 61. Ng5+ Kh6 62. Nxh3 a4) 59. Qd3!, and the Black king suddenly has no shelter from the coming storm. A string of queen checks forces a decisive simplification on 64. Qf8+ Kh5 (Kh7 65. Nf5 mate) 65. Qh8+ Kg4 66. Qc8+, winning. Black resigned.

U.S. Amateur Team Playoffs, Internet match, March 2007


1. e4e519. Qd5Bc6

2. Nf3Nc620. Bb5Kd7

3. Nc3g621. Bxc6+bxc6

4. d4exd422. Qd3Qg8

5. Nxd4Bg723. Kb1Rae8

6. Be3Nge724. Re2a5

7. Qd2d625. g4Qf7

8. Nxc6Nxc626. Rde1Ra8

9. Bh6Be527. f5g5

10. 0-0-0Rg828. h4gxh4

11. f4Bh829. Bf4Kc8

12. Bg5f630. Rh1Rb8

13. Bc4Rg731. Rxh4Rb5

14. Bh6Re732. Reh2Qg8

15. Nd5Rf733. Qh3Rxe4

16. h3Ne734. Bc1Re1

17. Nxe7Rxe735. Rxh7Qg5

18. Rhe1Bd736. Rxh8+Kb7

White resigns

San Sebastian, Spain, 1911


1. d4d534. Kh2Nf6

2. e3Nf635. Nxe6Qh4+

3. Nf3c536. Kg1Qe1+

4. c4e637. Kh2Qh4+

5. Nc3Be738. Kg1Ng4

6. dxc50-039. Qd2Qh2+

7. a3Bxc540. Kf1Qh1+

8. b4Be741. Ke2Qxg2+

9. Bb2a542. Kd1Nf2+

10. b5b643. Kc2Qg6+

11. cxd5exd544. Kc1Qg1+

12. Nd4Bd645. Kc2Qg6+

13. Be2Be646. Kc1Nd3+

14. Bf3Ra747. Kb1fxe6

15. 0-0Rc748. Qc2h5

16. Qb3Nbd749. Bd4h4

17. Rfd1Ne550. Bxb6h3

18. Be2Qe751. Bc7e5

19. Rac1Rfc852. b6Qe4

20. Na4Rxc153. Bxe5Qe1+

21. Rxc1Rxc1+54. Ka2Nxe5

22. Bxc1Ne455. b7Nd7

23. Bb2Nc456. Nc5Nb8

24. Bxc4Bxh2+57. Qxc4+Kh8

25. Kxh2Qh4+58. Ne4Kh7

26. Kg1Qxf2+59. Qd3g6

27. Kh2Qg3+60. Qxh3+Kg7

28. Kg1dxc461. Qf3Qc1

29. Qc2Qxe3+62. Qf6+Kh7

30. Kh2Qg3+63. Qf7+Kh6

31. Kg1Qe1+64. Qf8+Kh5

32. Kh2Qg3+65. Qh8+Kg4

33. Kg1Qe1+66. Qc8+Black


David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at [email protected]washington times.com.

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