Monday, August 18, 2008

SCCA Database

I surfed on over to the South Carolina Chess Association website ( to obtain information on the recent SC Open and noticed the “database” link. Clicking on it was like entering a portal to a time machine! I saw games played by names from the distant past, but which seem like “just yesterday” to me now. I would like to share a little of what I found with you, and hope it makes you want to surf on over yourself in the future. I also cannot help wondering why the GCA does not have a similar database…

Upon entering the ACC, one of the first things one will see, looking straight ahead, is a wood framed picture of four of the Atlanta Kings, the telephone league team from the middle 70’s. The one player looking at the camera is Michael Decker. He graduated from Emory University and moved back to his native Louisville, Kentucky. Not only was he an extremely strong player of chess, he is also one of the finest human beings one will ever know. He had one of the most esoteric jobs in America; he wrote questions for the COLLEGE BOWL, and did for decades! Since the College Bowl and High School Bowl companies unexpectedly closed last May, Mike is now the major question setter (such is the term) for "Zain Africa Challenge", ( a quiz programme for university teams in much of Anglophone Africa. Zain is one of the two major cell phone companies operating in Africa, is Dutch-based, but is largely owned by the Royal Family of Kuwait. They sponsor televised national championships for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Ghana; with a continental championship broadcast in all eight countries.
The first game features the annotations of Mr Decker. For you younger readers, please keep in mind, as you put this game into your machine, that “back in the day” there were no machines! This was a time when a chess player had to “think for himself.” His opponent, Klaus Pohl, is one of the most tenacious fighter’s I’ve ever seen. When you sit down across from the “Viktor Korchnoi of Southern Chess” as I like to call him, you get EVERYTHING the man has that day.

Mike Decker (2106)-Klaus Pohl (2110)
ICI Classic 1978
French Defense C18

Klaus and I had played once before back in the 1972 Atlanta Open which I mnaged to draw an extremely tactical French Poisoned Pawn variation as Black. Knowing that the regularly plays the French, I was looking to “outbooking” him!
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 (Analysis of this critical line is bound to be renewed following the recent Spassky-Korchnoi match in which White lost game 2 and then won game 12 brilliantly. Gligoric’s “Game of the Month” {November 1976 and April 1978 in CHESS LIFE and REVIEW} neatly summarises the current state of theory on this complex variation.) Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Kd1 (The more common alternative here is 10 Ne2. I have been playing the Kd1 in postal games for a number of years and have several improvements on published theory to spring on Black) Nbc6 11.Nf3 dxc3 12.Ng5 Nxe5 13.f4 Rxg5 (Uhlmann has called attention to the obscure 13…f6 14 Bb5+ Bd7 15 Nxe6 Qb6 but has found no takers as of yet. The older exchange sac line has been tested in a number of GM games—the analysis of which up to 1974 is reviewed in Moles’ THE FRENCH DEFENSE: Main Line Winawer, pp 50-52) 14.fxg5 N5g6 15.h4 Bd7 (Up to here we hae been amusing Don Schultz and a few others by rattling off these apparently strange {but actually book} moves at almost blitz pace. However, 15…Bd7 is new. [ Moles continues 15…e5 16 h5 Nf8 17 Bb5+ Nc6 18 Qg7 {18 Qd3! Bg4+ 19 Ke1 d4 which Moles says looks good for Black, looks very good for White after 20 Qg3 Be6 (20…Bf5 21 Bf5) 21 g6 fg6 22 hg6 0-0-0 23 g7 Nd7 24 Rg8 Bg8 25 Bg5 Rg8 26 Bc4 Ne7 27 Bf7 Nc5 28 Bxe8) 18…Bg4+ 19 Ke1 0-0-0 20 Bxc6 Qxc6 21 h6 d4 22 Kf2 Bf5 23 h7 Nxh7 24 Rxh7 Bxc2!? 25 Rh8 Qd5 26 g6!? Bxg6 27 Bg5 Rxh8 28 Qxh8+ Kd7 with a big edge for Black] 16.h5 (16 Be2 was a [probably transpositional] alternative which might have tempted Black into 0-0-0 17 h5 Rh8? and wins) Nf8 17.Qd3 (After the game Klaus mentioned 17 Qg7 Nf5 18 Qf6 Ne7 etc.) e5 18.Rb1 (Setting up a pretty shot which I had played in several skittles games in analogous French Poisoned Pawn positions. See note to move 20 if you don’t believe me.) 0–0–0 19.Be2 e4? (19…Ne6; 19…b6; or 19…d4 were necessary because now) 20.Qa6!! (Surprise! There is no other decent square for the Queen. Here it cannot be taken.) Ne6 (20…ba6 21 Bxa6+ Qb7 22 Rxb7 and Black can resign. Nor can Black simply pass and protect his a-pawn with; 20…Kb8? Because of the devastating 21 Bf4 with immediate mate; Only six days later this position arose in a friendly game with a strong Atlanta player who had not seen Decker-Pohl. This later game ended quickly with 20…Nc6 21 Bf4 bxa6 22 Bxa6+ Qb7 23 Bxb7# Pohl, however, came up with the tenable 20…Ne6.) 21.Qxa7 Nc6 22.Qa8+ (22 Qe3 or 22Qf2 led to quieter variations in which material edge and passed h-pawn guarenteed him an advantage. The text move keeps the pressure on Black and threatens various mates if Black should make a careless move.) Nb8 (Black certainly wants to avoid the exchange of Queens after 22…Qb8 after which White’s material edge would prove marketedly stronger. White now tries to post a bishop on the h2-a8 diagonal.) 23.Rf1 Bc6 24.g6! (24 Bg4?? b6 winning the cornered Queen; 24 Qa7 saves the Queen but allows Black to seize the initiative with d4. The sacrificial text move is the only way to maintain Whit’s pressure.) b5 (24…fxg6?? 25 Bg4 b6 26 Bxe6+ Rd7 27 Rf8+; 24…b6 allows the winning counter 25 Ba6+ and the Kingside pawns will win after the necessary exchange on b7.) 25.Rxf7 Bxa8 (25..Qxf7 26 Qxc6+ Nxc6 27 gxf7 and White has a fairly simple endgame win with his four passed pawns [after Bxb5] and the two bishops.) 26.Rxc7+ Kxc7 27.h6 (I had thought Black’s position was now so bad [despite his extra piece] that he might resign. Objectively, White’s position is, indeed, won because of the advanced passed pawns and the very poor position of Black’s minor pieces, but Black finds a way to make it to a difficult ending, which, with mounting time-pressure and plain bad play on White’s part he even goes on to win!) Nc6 28.Bg4 Ncd4 (With the serious threat of Rf8, Rf1 mate!) 29.g7 Nxg7 (In effect forced because of the threat 30 Be3 and 31 Bxd4 Nxd4 32 h7) 30.Bf4+! (A very useful Zwischenzug which forces the Black King further away from the Kingside and either own to his own Bishop’s diagonal or into a potential pin on the diagonal of his remaining knight.) Kb6 31.hxg7 Nc6 (31…Rg8 32 Be3 and the knight falls Kc5 33 Rb4 after which the pawn is protected.) 32.Be6 Ne7 33.Bg5 Rg8 34.Bxg8 (After this forced sequence, White now has a real choice. With only a few minutes left until the time control at move 45, I decided against winning a piece with [34 Bxe7 Rxg7 35 Bd8+ Kc5 36 Bh3 d4] which promised unwanted complications. The text move is simpler, although not as simple as I thought.) Nxg8 35.Ke2? (Black’s knight is Zugzwanged by my bishop; I had a passed pawn on the seventh rank and a clear advantage. I was so entranced with keeping his knight trapped that I now began a silly plan of keeping it there by means of my doubled g pawns [one on g7 the other on g5 with my bishop on the a3-f8 diagonal] and then massing my pieces against all his center pawns. Obvious was, however, [35 Be3+ 36 Bd4 and 37 Bxc3]) d4 36.g4 Bd5 37.Bd8+ Kc5 38.g5? (Consistent, but bad.) Bc4+ 39.Kf2 e3+ 40.Kf3 Bf7 41.Bf6? (Inconsistent and bad 41 Re1; Rg1; Kf4; or Ba5 were much better) Bg6 42.Rb4 Bh5+ 43.Kg2? (Better is 43 Kf4 keeping the e-pawn under veiled attack) Nxf6 (Heretofore, the bishop had interfered with Black’s intended d3 because of winning counter Bd4+ and cd and then if c2 Bxe3 wins, or if e2 then Kf2.) 44.gxf6 Bf7 45.Kf1?? (The last move of the time control, made in time pressure and losing. Despite of all those other questionable moves, White still had the edge with the obvious [45 Kf3 which stops d3 and leaves Black with the problem with finding an adequate defense. {I haven’t found one yet} Bh5+ 46 Kf4 Bf7 47 Rb1 and Black has no moves. After Black’s next shot, it is White who can find no draw.) d3! 46.Rb1 (46 Rb3 Bb3 47 cxb3 c2 48 g8=Q c1=Q+ is an untenable {but lingering} endgame for White.) dxc2 47.Rc1 Kd4 48.Ke2 (48 Rxc2 Kd3 gives White a choice of how to lose: 49 Rc1 {49 Rc2 c2 50 Rxc2 Kxc2 51 Ke2 Kb3 52 Kxe3 Kxa3 and Black Queens his pawn.} 49…Kd2 50 Re1 c2 51 Re2+ Kd3 52 Re1 e2+ 53 Ke2 Bd5 Zugzwang!) Bc4+ 49.Ke1 Kd3 50.Ra1 Bd5 (50…c1=Q also wins: 51 Rxc1 c2 and the Black King walks around to b2.) 51.Rc1 Ba2 52.a4 (52 Ra1 Bb1 53 g8=Q c1=Q#) b4 53.a5 Bd5 54 a6 [54 Rxc2 b3 and b2 etc.) 54…b3 55 a7 b2 and Black queens with a winning check or) 0-1

The next game features a wonderful young lady, Alison Bert, with whom I spent one day giving a lesson. I probably learned more from her that day than she learned from me, proving the old zen saying that “It is possible for the teacher to learn from the student.” Alison was one of the very few female players, if not the only one, back then. She had to be a particularly strong minded young woman to enter the male dominated world of chess. I remember two women coming into the Atlanta chess club at the downtown YMCA on Luckie street and being greeted with derision, driving them away, never to return. Although I tried to talk with the ladies, the damage had been done. Just how strong was Ms Bert? No male wanted to lose to her. As way of illustration I will mention a “doubles” tournament put on by Thad Rogers. There were two “man” teams, so a win and a draw would win the mini-match. My teammate was none other than the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear, although he was only working on the Legend and the metal had yet to become Iron. We agreed that if one of us lost, the other would fight until there were only Kings left on the board before agreeing to a draw, as agreeing to a draw was tantamount to agreeing to a loss! Jared Radin, Alison’s teammate, beat me to exact a measure of revenge for my last round victory over him in the 1974 Atlanta Championship, so Tim had to win in order for us to tie the match. A short time later he came out of the tournament hall and I asked him what happened. “It was a draw, Bacon.” How could it be, I recall thinking. “Was it a perpetual?” I asked. “Naw” he said, sheepishly hanging his head. “I was afraid I would lose…to a girl!” We looked at the game and seeing a board full of pieces when the draw was agreed, I exclaimed, “My god man! There’s plenty of play left in this position!” I was NOT a happy camper. “Don’t you realize that by agreeing to a draw, you have, in fact, agreed to LOSE!!!” I promised myself that I would never play in any kind of “team” chess event again, ever.
As for her opponent, the less said, the better.

Stan Vaughn 2089-Alison Bert 1905
SCCA Invitational Feb 1979
French C15
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.Qg4 Nf6 7.Qxg7 Rg8 8.Qh6 Rg6 9.Qe3 Nc6 10.Bb2 Ne7 11.0-0-0 Nf5 12.Qe1 Bd7 13.f3 Bc6 14.fxe4 Bxe4 15.Nf3 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Qd5 17.Bd3 0-0-0 18.c4 Qxf3 19.Rf1 Qh3 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.Qa5 Ne4 22.Qxa7 Ra6 0-1

The next game features our own Lester Bedell versus a very strong player and many time SC state champ.

Augusta City Championship 1983

Lester Bedell 1822-Dr Lee Hyder 2078
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 Nxc3 10.Rxc3 b6 11.Qc1 c6 12.Ne5 Bb7 13.Bd3 Rc8 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Bf5 Re8 16.Qc2 Na6 17.Bh7+ Kh8 18.Bg6 Rf8 1-0

Klaus Pohl versus Boris Kogan was always an interesting struggle. Klaus told me that Boris, “Made me a 2400 player.” Before Boris arrived, Klaus was having his way in the Southeast. When a “faster gun” arrives one had better work on improving his “speed.” The following game won the brilliancy prize for the combination, but Klaus said that he would always be proud of the fact that Boris said the best part of the game was how Klaus handled the rook and pawn endgame. This was not his first victory over Boris, and it must have been satisfying, yet all these many years later Klaus downplays the win, explaining that “Boris was on the decline by this point.” The respect and admiration Klaus shows toward Boris is the kind of respect that can only come after two warriors have had many battles.
Klaus Pohl 2371-Boris Kogan 2564
LOTS 1989
French C15
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 6.Bd3 c5 7.Nf3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Ne4 Ne5 11.Nxf6+ Qxf6 12.Be4 Ng6 13.Be3 Qe7 14.c3 Bd6 15.Qh5 Bd7 16.Rae1 f5 17.Bc2 Rae8 18.f4 a6 19.g3 Bc8 20.Bf2 Qf6 21.Bb3 Nh8 22.Re2 Nf7 23.Rfe1 Nd8 24.Qg5 Qf7 25.Qxd8 Rxd8 26.Nxe6 Bxe6 27.Bxe6 Rc8 28.Bd4 Rfd8 29.Kg2 b5 30.a3 Rd7 31.Bxf7+ Kxf7 32.Kf3 a5 33.h3 b4 34.axb4 axb4 35.Ra1 Bc5 36.Ra5 Bxd4 37.cxd4 g6 38.d5 Rc4 39.Rd2 h5 40.d6 Rc6 41.Rad5 Ke6 42.Ke3 Rc1 43.Re5+ Kf7 44.Rb5 Re1+ 45.Kf3 Re4 46.g4 hxg4+ 47.hxg4 Ke6 48.gxf5+ gxf5 49.Rxf5 Rc4 50.Re5+ Kf7 51.Re4 1-0

Boris once told me that I would have a much better chance of beating him in a faster time limit game than a standard game. “Yeah, Boris. The way I figure it, I would have two chances to win,” I said. Not that familiar with American expressions and taking the bait, Boris asked, “What do you mean, two?” You know what came next… “Slim and none!” Boris nearly busted his gut laughing so hard!
Randall Ferguson is a long-time master level chess player from the great neighboring state of SC, always first in the South! The notes to the game are his. I would like to say, though, concerning his first comment, “agression” lies in the eye of the beholder! Klaus said Boris was “Like Petrosian.” I learned a great deal about chess by how Boris handled “dangerous” openings, like the Leningrad Dutch, by playing these “non-aggressive” moves. Boris used to say, “Why be afraid to play an even game?” He knew that chess was a long game, with three different phases. The Hulk would put the hammer lock on his opponent and squeeze… In the New in Chess Yearbook #22, GM Mikhail Tseitlin writes on page 131, in the preface to the Leningrad Variation Survey: “Theoretically speaking White’s chances are to be preferred, but just like the main line 6 b3 leads to a difficult struggle which is hard to access, with a lot of room for improvisation and practical chances for both sides.” To Boris, that was the epitome of chess.

Boris Kogan 2577-Randal Ferguson 2201
Georgia Action Championship 1992
1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.b3 (Not an aggressive variation, but one that could change back into the main lines if White chooses.) Bg7 5.Bb2 0-0 6.Nf3 d6 7.0-0 Qe8 8.Nbd2 Nc6 (In most variations where Black can play this with impunity, he usually equalizes playing e5.) 9.Nc4 Ne4 10.d5 Bxb2 11.Nxb2 Nd8 12.Nd4 (White’s strategic goal is control of the e6 square. Notice, however, how temporary this is.) e5 (c5 was probably somewhat better.)13.dxe6 Nxe6 14.Nxe6 (Black was threatening 14…Nc3 and 14…Nd4, winning a piece.) Qxe6 (Not Be6, because the bishop has no future on that diagonal.) 15.Qd4 Qf6 16.Qxf6 Rxf6 17.c4 Bd7 18.Rfd1 Re8 19.Rac1 (Threatening the d5 square.) Bc6 20.Nd3 g5 21.Nb4 f4 22.Nxc6 (I was expecting 22 Nd5 Rf7 with complications.) bxc6 23.Rd4 Rfe6 (Best) 24.Rc2 R8e7 25.gxf4 gxf4 26.Rxe4 Rxe4 27.Bxe4 Rxe4 28.Kg2 Rd4 29.b4 a6 30.Kf3 Kf7 31.a4 Ke6 32.a5 Kd7 (Stopping all of White’s threats, starting with b5. Black is now slightly better, because of his active rook and the overextended White pawns.) 33.Rc1 d5 34.cxd5 cxd5 35.Rg1 Rxb4 36.Rg7+ Kc6 37.Rxh7 Ra4 38.h4 Rxa5 39.h5 Ra3+ 40.Kxf4 Rh3 41.h6 a5 42.Rh8 Kb7 (A strong move to find in severe time pressure. Both players had about two minutes remaining. Black’s rook is much stronger than White’s because it is behind the White passed pawn.) 43.Ke5 a4 44.Rg8 Rxh6 45.Kxd5 a3 46.f4 (46 Rg1 draws, though after 46…Rh2 Black’s game is easier.) Rd6+? (46…Rh1 would have won immediately.) 47.Kc4 Rb6 48.Rg3? (48 Rg1 would have drawn. Both sides were in severe time pressure.) a2 49.Ra3 Ra6 50.Rxa2 Rxa2 (After noticing White still had one minute left, White gracefully resigned.) 0-1

How about this nugget from many time state champion Guillermo Ruiz.

G. Ruiz 2329-Kyle Oody 1856 SC Open 1992
1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 d4 6.Bc4 e6 7.Ne2 Bc5 8.Bxe6 and white won in 26 moves.

The last game will feature is an upset of sorts. I got to know Kevin Hyde while living in the mountains and found him to be a gentleman in every way. He has now been elevated to the rank of Colonel in the Army reserve and is currently serving in the hottest theater of battle, Afganistan. This is his second tour of duty. Kevin directed both US Masters while I was in Hendersonville. With his ramrod straight bearing and calm demeanor, he commands respect. He has a lovely wife and children, devoting time to the Boy Scouts, too. With all the time he gives to the community, he does not have much time for the royal game. For that reason his rating is low, but not the caliber of his play!

Damir Studen (2031)-Kevin Hyde (1229)
D02 SC Open 2006

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Bf5 3.c4 Bxb1 4.Rxb1 e6 5.a3 Nf6 6.e3 Be7 7.Be2 0–0 8.0–0 c6 9.b4 dxc4 10.Bxc4 b5 11.Be2 a5 12.Ne5 Nd5 13.Bd2 axb4 14.axb4 f6 15.Nd3 Bd6 16.Nc5 Qe7 17.Qb3 f5 18.g3 Nd7 19.f3 Nxc5 20.dxc5 Bc7 21.e4 fxe4 22.fxe4 Nf6 23.Bf3 Kh8 24.Bg5 e5 25.Bg2 h6 26.Bxf6 Rxf6 27.Rxf6 Qxf6 28.Rf1 Qd8 29.Kh1 Qd4 30.Qf7 Ra1 31.Qf8+ Kh7 32.Qf5+ Kg8 33.Qf7+ Kh7 34.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 35.Qf1 Qxf1+ 36.Bxf1 Bd8 37.h4 g5 38.h5 g4 39.Be2 Bg5 40.Bxg4 Bd2 41.Bd7 Bxb4 42.Bxc6 Bxc5 43.Bxb5 Kg7 44.Kg2 Kf6 45.Kf3 Kg5 46.g4 Bd4 47.Bd7 Bc5 48.Ke2 Kf4 49.Kd3 Bd4 50.Bf5 Kg5 51.Kc4 Ba1 52.Kd5 Bb2 53.Ke6 Ba1 54.Kf7 Bb2 55.Kg7 Ba1 56.Be6 Bb2 57.Bf5 Ba1 58.Be6 Bb2 59.Bf5 Ba1 60.Be6 ½–½

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