Category Archives: V.Strong/Master (1950 plus)

I Had a Tiger by the Tail, Conclusion

In a previous article located here, I mentioned my games at Stan’s NetChess where I have a record of 70-12-6. The last two of those wins are posted below.

I am in an event that is called “Greatest Philosophers of the Western World Tourney”. I no longer remember if a player needs to outscore his or her opponent by four wins or if the first player with four wins in the match, wins each match. Either way, I am still waiting for two other matches to finish before I can begin the final round of this event. That round will determine the overall winner of this event. So far, I have lost only one game in this event! If you see my analysis of Round 3 of this match below, you will see that I got away with some opening blunders in that turn-based chess game.

In the final game of this match, my opponent played out a clearly lost endgame. I have yet to figure out why some people will play out hopelessly lost endgames in anything that resembles a correspondence chess game! I am not likely to make a blunder under those playing conditions!

And this is Round 4, the final round of this match.

Mike Serovey

Recognise the Pattern # 30

In my last article we saw how to break down fianchetto castled position by opening up the h-file with the help of h4-h5 lever, but sometimes your opponent can physically block the h file with the piece (usually a knight on h5/h4). In such situations it is often a good idea to sacrifice an exchange in order to open lines against the opponent’s monarch. Before sacrificing like this there is one very crucial point one must consider; there are more chances that exchange sac won’t work if your opponent can protect h7 (h2) reasonably.

Here is an example that covers the theme.

Kasparov against Piket in 1989

Q: In this position Black played 31…Bd5. How would you evaluate this move?

A: This bishop move is a mistake as it allows exchange sacrifice on h5, otherwise it wasn’t possible even with a free move for White. For example 31…a6 (just a random move) 32. Rxh5 gxh5
33. Qh4 and now Bd7 threatening to take on f5 then to protect the h7.

Let’s get back to game.

31…Bd5? 32. Rxh5! gxh5 33. Qh4

33…Qc4

Now the …Bc6-d7 idea won’t work because of Qh3 followed by Re1>h2 threat.

34. Qxh5 Qf1+

Other moves like Rd8 or Rc8 won’t work because of Qh6! followed by Rh3.

35. Kb2 e5 36. Qh6!!

Threatening f6! & the knight is untouchable because of pin along the e file. The position is lost for Black.

36…Kh8

If 36…f6 then 37. gxf6 Qg2 38. Ne2 wins.

37. g6

and Black resigned after 3 more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Amateur Versus Master: Game Seventeen

Double Dutch Defense

My opponent in this correspondence chess game lives in the Netherlands (Holland) and I played the Dutch Defense against him. That is like playing the French Defense against someone who lives in France.

Although I dropped a pawn on move number 20, the game was fairly even. Both sides defended well and the endgame ended up being fairly closed. I considered opening up the position in the endgame so that my bishop pair could become more powerful, but I decided against this because I was still down a pawn and keeping the position closed made drawing much easier.

This draw kept me tied for first place in this section.

Mike Serovey

Recognise the Pattern # 29

Today we will see a typical way of breaking down a fianchetto formation. Here are some points to be considered while attacking fianchetto formation:
1) Try to exchange the fianchettoed bishop which will create a long term weakness around the opponent’s king.
2) Open up the h-file by advancing the h-pawn, sometimes you need to sacrifice to open it, I will discuss this pawn being blocked in my next article.
3) A pin on f7 (f2) can play a very crucial role
4) Try to stabilise the center, which is important as a wing attack can often be answered by a central counter attack.

These are the ideal conditions but it is not compulsory to carry out all of it before proceeding for an attack.

Steinitz against Mongredian in 1863. – White to move


Question: Is it the right time to attack with h4-h5 lever in order to attack the finachetto formation?

Solution: Most of the preconditions have been fulfilled except the exchange of fianchettoed bishop. Steintitz went for a kill as follows:

10. h4!

The idea is to open the h-file with the h4-h5 lever.

10…Nd7

If 10…h5, in order to prevent White from opening up h file, then 11. Ng5 is very unpleasant.

11. h5 c5 12. hxg6 Nxg6

If 12…hxg6 then 13.0-0-0 followed by Ng5, with the idea of Ne6, is very dangerous for Black.

13. 0-0-0

Bringing the rook into the game and protecting e4.

13…a6 14. Ng5 Nf6

It seems that Black is well protected but Black missed a blow. Can you see it?

15. Nxh7!!

Of course you often need to sacrifice something in order break the opponent’s defence when your pieces are placed optimally.

15…Nxh7 16. Rxh7 Kxh7

16. Qh5 was even stronger than the text move.

17. Qh5 Kg8 18. Rh1!

Threatening checkmate.

18…Re8 19. Qxg6

The point of whole combination.

19…Qf6 20. Bxf7+ Qxf7

Now 21. Rh8+ wins the queen and game. Black resigned after one more move.

Ashvin Chauhan

Another French Defense Bites the Dust

My opponent in this correspondence chess game was an unrated player who was given a provisional rating of 1800 for pairing purposes. At the time that I am writing this, Mike O’Mahoney has lost to me and one other opponent.

This win put me in temporary first place in this section and a subsequent draw with the other player who defeated Mike has kept me in a tie for first place in this section.

Some of you may remember a cartoon character called Huckleberry Hound. He used to sing My Darling Clementine quite often while walking around. The chorus is as follows:

Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry Clementine.

I changed the chorus to the following:

Oh ma honey, Oh ma honey,
Oh ma honey chess player Mike,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry chess player Mike.

You tried to beat me, You tried to beat me,
You tried to beat me in a game of chess,
But you are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry chess player Mike.

My opponent (Black) started making minor positional and developmental errors early in this correspondence chess game and was losing rather quickly. Thus, I cannot pick only one move as being the losing move.

Mike Serovey

How Modern is Alekhine’s Defense?

This correspondence chess game was over before this section officially began. ICCF will post the pairings for server-based correspondence chess games two or three weeks before the sections officially begin. This correspondence chess game is one of several that I have completed at ICCF before the sections that those correspondence chess games were in officially started.

This win put me in temporary first place in this section and a later draw has kept me there so far.

My lower-rated opponent decided to gamble with a chess opening that is risky in Over the Board (OTB) chess and ill advised against a higher rated player in a correspondence chess game. After some research online I determined that the best way for White to play against Alekhine’s Defense is to go into either the Modern variation or the Exchange variation. I believe that this correspondence chess game went into the Modern variation.

I considered a sacrifice line that is in my analysis and decided against playing that in a correspondence chess game. However, I may play that in an OTB game against a lower rated opponent.

Mike Serovey

Was the Third Time a Charm?

Martti Mujunen is an ICCF expert who lives in Finland. This correspondence chess game is my third consecutive draw with Martti and the second time that I have played the Sicilian Defense against him. The first time that I played the Sicilian Defense against Martti I played the Four Knights variation. This time I played the Taimanov variation.

I won another game in this section prior to this draw. That win put me in temporary first place in this section and this draw kept me there.

ICCF rules allow the use of chess engines as well as chess databases. White took me out of my database of chess games with his eighteenth move. After that, I was double checking my analysis with chess engines.

Like my previous draws with Martti, this correspondence chess game ended before this section officially started.

Mike Serovey

I Got Eaten Alive at Jarecki Park!

Fans of Steven Spielberg are familiar with the Jurassic Park movies in which some scientists recreated various species of dinosaurs. The  dinosaurs got lose and chased some people around and ate them. Jarecki sounds like Jurassic and once I started losing this correspondence chess game I felt like I was being chased by a pack of velociraptors. At the point where I resigned, I felt like I had one velociraptor on my left arm, a second velociraptor on my left leg, a third velociraptor on my right leg, and a fourth velociraptor was eating my guts. With only my right arm free and my only weapon being  a pocket knife, I could not fight off the velociraptors. So, I ended the pain of being eaten alive by cutting my own throat with the knife (resigning)!

This correspondence chess game is one of four losses that I have in this section. The winners of the other three games are now in the top three spots in his section and I am in fourth place at the time that I am writing this.

In this correspondence chess game I decided to play the Modern Defense and to try the Sniper move order. I ended up transposing into an Accelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defense.

I cannot pinpoint any one move as being the losing move, but things began to go badly for me around the 17th move of this correspondence chess game. In the course of three moves I went from doing OK to losing and the chess engines gave me no warning that I was heading into trouble!

On move number 21 I sacrificed a Rook for a Knight because I was losing anyway and I had hoped that I could get an attack going against the White King. A better course of action would have been to sacrifice that Rook for the White Bishop that was threatening my King. That might not have been enough to save this correspondence chess game for me, though.

In the future it is unlikely that I will try this move order again.

Mike Serovey

My Ode to Odette

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is a French woman who is named Odette. At the time that I am writing this, Odette is in dead last place with five losses, no wins and no draws. Although she is alive (as far as I know) her chances of getting more than a couple of wins or draws is dead. Thus, the ode.

In 1967 American Country singer Bobbie Gentry wrote and recorded a hit song entitled Ode to Billie Joe. In 1976 the song was made into a movie. What is still not clear to me is if the song and the movie are based upon a true story or if this all came from the imaginations of some talented writers.

The description from the  movie on  YouTube is as follows, “A seventeen-year-old boy is seduced into a homosexual act. His guilt over the incident drives him to commit suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, leaving his girlfriend behind.”

If you want to know more about this story then you can click on the following links:

Odette played some moves in this chess game that are about as bad as jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Fortunately, she is alive to play more chess games. Because this chess game is rather short, my analysis below is more about what was not played than what was.

Mike Serovey

Drawing This Correspondence Chess Game Was No Hassell

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is from England and his last name is Hassell. As some of my readers may have noticed, I like to play with words and the names of my opponents!

Originally, I wanted to trade down into a King and pawn endgame or to use my remaining Bishop to go after my opponent’s pawns that were on dark squares. However, when he offered a draw on move number 27 I accepted the offer because I realized that there just was not enough play left in the position to justify my spending my time and energy on trying to win that rather closed endgame.

This cc game is one of three draws that I have in this section.

Mike Serovey