July Sparklers

July in the USA is famous for pyrotechnics, to the delight of children and horror of canines throughout the land. Sometimes the fireworks explode in a cascade of sparkling colors, and sometimes they are duds, or partial duds.

Two of my recent games featured fireworks. One game was a partial dud, whereas the second was a real sparkler.

Amusingly, in both I played Black and in both, the star move was the same move.

The first game was a partial dud. In the opening, I achieved a difficult Grünfeld defensive position, but was fortunate to find the only move 20…Rf8-c8! defending against the threat to Black’s white-square bishop via threats to the White knight and white-square bishop, drawing easily. Actually, I should have put my White opponent, already in mild time pressure, through more pain with 26… Rb2 but, as noted, this was a partial dud.

The second game shone more brightly. White was the amiable Dean Clow, an Englishman from Lincolnshire who has lived in the USA for 7 years now working as a computer programmer. Dean, no doubt still fatigued from having single-handedly directed the Colorado Senior Championship over the weekend, played sort of a Jänisch Gambit reversed, and got nothing much for his pawn sacrifice. His 13. Be4? was a hallucination that he was going to win a piece by pushing the d-pawn, from which he refrained in time, but his position was still lost or close to it after 14. e3. Once again, Black’s 19… Rf8-c8! is the star move that prevents White from winning the e-pawn via 20. Nxe4 Qg4 (forking the rook and knight) 21. Nc3, after which White is almost in zugzwang.

Jacques Delaguerre