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The Challenger, First Quarter, 2024

The Challenger

Magazine of the United States Blind Chess Association December 2023

The mission of the USBCA is to promote the game of chess among the blind community. Website: http://usblindchess.org/


The views expressed in the Challenger do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the USBCA or those of the editor.

President’s Message

Well, another term has come and gone, and a new one is upon us. My thanks to those of you who exercised your right as USBCA members and cast your ballot. It’s easy to think that it doesn’t really matter, but it truly does to those of us who are volunteering our time and effort to keep this organization, founded by Jim Slagle and others, in existence and growing. We saw some fantastic progress during the last two years. We encountered, and weathered, some fairly serious turbulence. We’re taking steps to ensure that no one’s contact information is ever again used in any way not in keeping with the owner’s wishes. And, rest assured, we don’t forget that the owner of contact information is the person who shares it with us.

 Our plans for this year include acquiring 501C (3) status, and expanding chess-playing opportunities, as well as preserving those opportunities which have been around and enjoyed for these many years. As always, your inputs are eagerly sought and welcomed. Don’t be shy with them. Without you, our membership, the USBCA would be largely irrelevant.

 Stay tuned in! And, let us hear from you!

 Jim Thoune, President, US Blind Chess Association

Editor’s Note

By Rita Crawford


The action or state of taking part in something; an association with others in a relationship as a partnership…

Club: ****To unite or combine for a common cause

As a member of the USBCA, you belong to a club. “A club: to unite or combine for a common cause.” This is important for you to remember because belonging to this club helps you on a myriad of levels. This club allows you to have friends around the world through the act of interacting with them. Make no mistake about it, when you meet someone over a chessboard, every single time you meet someone over a chessboard a door to a potential friendship opens up. You choose how much or how little you want to venture through that door. Either way, that opportunity has presented itself because you are a member of the United States Blind Chess Association (USBCA). All of us benefit when we allow ourselves to open up and be receptive to new opportunities to meet and interact with people. If it was not for the USBCA, would you have had a chance to meet someone in the Philippines and play a game of chess with them? Some people have made friendships over chessboards that have lasted for years Even though they both lived thousands of miles apart. What can you do to make sure the opportunity to meet new chess players, make new friends and all of the benefits of the USBCA remain available to you? Participate. Watch the emails on Freelists; join in and listen to a Hands On Chess interview; join in on a Chess Queens meeting. Join in voting for members of the USBCA board when the time arises. Join in. You are the captain of your own ship–fill it with chess, and friendships and participation in the USBCA events. I promise you will be glad you did. You will realize you are lucky, because you belong to something that opens doors for you to new cultures, new friends, new chess games and all you have to do is participate. You are lucky because you belong to a club that helps you grow intellectually, and helps your friendship circle grow exponentially. You belong to the United States Blind Chess Association.

Getting to Know USBCA member: Richard Turner (Check out his website

link listed at the end of the article!

My name is Richard Turner. I prefer being called Richard, rather than the various nicknames associated with that all too common first name.

I am not the card shark from Texas, I am a retired Vocational Rehabilitation Instructor in Oregon. I’ve been happily married for almost 32 years.

I love reading a wide variety of genres; listening to an equally wide variety of music styles, playing chess, (though I’m not that good) and gardening when my body allows it. I like quirky humor, live theater, TV/movies, etc.

Around 2000, I taught myself HTML code and created a web page that was initially mostly for Window-Eyes users. It has morphed into a page for Apple devices, Windows related items, and a wide smattering of other things. That continues to be an enjoyable hobby, as well as participating in many email lists around technology.

My web site is: https://www.turner42.com

Attention: Special Training Offer

The new USBCA Board is looking for trainers for LiChess and for those who would like to learn LiChess or become more proficient at it.

Those who are interested in either training or learning please send an email to usblindchess@outlook.com

Election results

The USBCA recently held elections to choose new Board members. Here are your new Board members for the next two years as voted on by you, the membership:

Upcoming Events

Hands On Chess Chat

The Hands on Chess Chat will be meeting March 2, 2024 at 11:00 Eastern / 16:00 UTC. Your USBCA President Jim Thoune will be the featured guest speaker. If you have any questions regarding the USBCA or any specific question as it relates to chess, this will be a great opportunity to ask them. If you would prefer to email them to me, I will ask them on your behalf. Send your question(s) to usblindchess@outlook.com. The Zoom link to join the meeting was distributed Thursday, 2/29/24.

“Saturday Golden Moves” Arena Tournament on LiChess


Event Details:

See the email dated 2/28/24 the USBCA Tournament Director Mario Montalvo posted on Freelist for even more details. Be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity!

The Chess Queens

The Chess Queens gathering, hosted by Marilyn Bland, meets the third Saturday of every month. The next Chess Queens gathering will be March 16, 2024. Watch your email for the start time and meeting link. This is a women’s group and the discussions are lively and informative.

The 2024 US Blind Open Tournament and Chess Camp

The tournament and chess camp are being held in Northbrook, IL at the Hilton Chicago Northbrook. The Tournament will be held July 12-14, 2024 and the chess camp will be July 14-19, 2024. As soon as there is more details available it will be posted in the Sunday Smiles.

Feature Article: Purple Fest - Goa India

By Marilyn Bland

What a way to start the new year - a chess tournament at a festival in the state of Goa on the south west coast of India. The capital city, Panaji, was where all the action happened.

Hosted and funded by the government, the aim of Purple Fest was to promote awareness of sports and activities for people with disabilities across the board. The chess tournament was part of this festival, and was officially opened by the Minister of Social Affairs of the Federation of Goa.

The All-India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB) organized this international tournament from 8-13 January. It was a Swiss 7-round event with a time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds' increment. There were 31 participants representing Austria, Kyrgyz, Sweden, Turkmenistan, USA, and Uzbekistan. I was disappointed that there were only 4 female participants, myself and 3 young ladies from India.

Though the tournament was a small one, it was competitive and there was good spirit among the players. First and second places went to Subendhu Kumar Patra and Gangolli Kishan, both from India, Followed by Jörgen Magnusson from Sweden in third place. I struggled along, but finally managed to draw my last game.

My hotel room was spacious and comfortable, though the internet was not always up and running. In the mornings we would have breakfast and then the vehicles would take us to the playing venue. The game hall was well set up and I was thankful for air conditioning. I had left Dallas with temperatures in the high 30s F, and arrived in India where the temperatures were in the high 80s and low 90s F for the entire time. Tables were positioned along the perimeter of the room, leaving the center clear, so moving around was easy. Boards and clocks were set up on each of the tables, but I preferred using my own smaller 10" board. Some volunteers were available to take down game moves and give time checks, others brought around refreshments from time to time, or accompanied players to the restroom. Play would resume after lunch, and we would return to the hotel after the last game of the day.

One afternoon the organizers had arranged a boat ride. On another early evening a few of us went to have dinner on the famous Baga beach. It was delightful to enjoy my meal with my bare feet resting in the soft sand and waves breaking just a few yards away. And what about the food? Well, I never imagined there were so many ways of serving rice: rice flakes, rice crackers, rice salad, plain rice, seasoned rice, spiced rice, vegetable rice, and all with names I absolutely cannot pronounce. My taste buds certainly had a workout!   All too soon the tournament was over, but I could not leave India without a hurried little shopping spree mere hours before I had to rush to the airport.

The long flight home afforded me much time to reflect. Each time I participate in an over-the board tournament, I realize just how much there is to learn and gain from interacting face to face with other chess players, and how much enjoyment there is in meeting in person the people one plays either on-line or by email. I am motivated to improve my game, to study more, and to encourage others to participate as much as possible in whatever way they can in order to enrich their chess journey and strengthen our chess community. I can’t wait for the next tournament!

Spotlight-USBCA Consultant FM Kevin Bachler

By Glenn Crawford

Kevin Bachler is a FIDE master whose rating reached 2350 before he stopped playing competitive chess. He is a coach certified as a FIDE trainer and a professional chess coach for US Chess. He is also a FIDE arbiter and trainer. Arbiters ensure games adhere to FIDE rules of chess.

Born in northern Illinois in 1957, Kevin has always called “the land of Lincoln” home. He is married and has a 37-year-old son who, like his father, and with Kevin’s guidance, became interested in chess at an early age but stopped playing as a young adult after attaining a rating of over 2100. Kevin taught his son chess when the boy was 5 years old and entered into competition at that age.

Kevin organized a chess club for his son’s school and attracted about 100 children to it. He has organized and run clubs and tournaments since he was fourteen years old with his first being at his high school.

Kevin first became interested in chess at age ten or eleven. He said, At that time, “Star Trek was out and Spock and Kirk played chess sometimes.”. So, I got interested in chess from that." He got his first USCF rating of 1368 in 1971 when he entered a high school tournament and finished with three wins and two losses. He steadily improved his game over the next several years and attained his master’s rating in December, 1982.

Kevin is the founder of Caveman Chess. “I have for the past 25 years run a summer chess camp. And, it’s one of the two premier overnight camps in the country.” The name of Caveman Chess had it beginning in 1981 as Kevin was at expert level, working to become a national master. He was participating in a tournament. FIDE master Albert Chow, after watching Kevin play, shook his head and said to him, “‘You play stone age chess. You play like a caveman.'” Kevin’s friends took the name and ran with it. Thus, Kevin’s nickname of caveman was born.

He has not finalized all details for the camp but said this year he annual Caveman Chess Camp takes place in Chicago. Chess classes are offered and based on a person’s age and strength of play. He said, “Campers are divided mainly by age and rating. Age goes away once they are over eighteen. And, then, we use just rating.” If someone has no rating, “We go through some steps to try to figure out roughly how strong they are so that they get in the right group.” Kevin continued, “We have three classes a day for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; two classes on Thursday. We have an opening simul [simultaneous chess game exhibition] and a closing simul. Instructors for classes are all FIDE masters except for some of the classes for very young children. Those instructors are typically at the expert level.

There will be chess tournaments that precede the actual Caveman Chess Camp. The cost for the camp is not finalized but should start at $400 for the lower-level classes and increase to $1000 for the most advanced classes. This includes two meals a day. There will be hotel accommodations which cost extra. The cost for tournament participants prior to the Caveman camp is $145 per night which is higher than the hotel cost for the camp since it is weekend rates. Each room can be occupied by up to four persons. This cost includes breakfast for up to four people. When the camp starts on Sunday night, the hotel room cost drops to $125, accommodating up to four people per room.

This year will be the second year Kevin has sponsored and incorporated the US Blind Chess Championship into the Caveman camp. The US Blind chess championship will take place just prior to the camp. Kevin said he is working with US Chess to change the name to the US Blind Open Chess Championship, which would indicate it is not an invitational tournament but all players are welcome. The US Blind Open Chess Championship will take place from July 12 through July 14 and the camp from July 14 through July 19, 2024 in Chicago at Northbrook, IL Hilton.


Note: The starting positions for each of these puzzles is written in long-hand, showing where on the board each piece is. The solutions for all three appear after the final puzzle. Submitted by David Rosenkoetter

1. Easy: White mates in 2

Starting Position:

White: King-f4; Rooks-b3 and d3.

Blak: K-h5; Queen-a6; Bishop-g6; Pawn-g4.

2. Harder

Starting position:

White: King-h4; Queen-e5; Knights-d7 and g5; Pawns-a4, b2, f2, g4, h3;

Black; King-h8; Queen-g7; Rook-g1; Bishop-a6; Pawns-b4, c5, f3, h7

3. Difficult: Find the Clearance Sacrifice

Dmitry Nadezhdin vs Isaac Boleslavsky, Tashkent, 1965

Starting Position:

White: King-c1; Queen-d3; Rooks-d2 and h1; Bishops: e2 and f2; Knight-d5; Pawns-a3, b2, c2, e4, g2, h4;

Black: King-g8; Queen-a5; Rooks-a8 and c8; Bishops-c6 and e7; Knight-f6; Pawns-a6, b4, d6, e5, f7, g7, h6.


1. Rh3+ gxh3 2. Rxh3#
1. Nf7+ Kg8 2.Qe8+ Qf8 3.Qxf8#
1 ...Bxd5 2. exd5 Rc3 3. bxc3 Qxa3+ 4. Kb1 bxc3

Ex-Champing at The Bit

This article was initially published in the February 2022 UK BCA Gazette.

A. Botez (2005) - V. Pechenkin (2408), Canadian Open Toronto 2011.

Yes, another “David Versus Goliath” battle that Round 1 of a large national Open must throw up. Perhaps some information on our “Mismatched Gladiators” might assist? Alexandra: Approaching her 16th birthday, joint winner of the Womens Canadian Youth Championship in 2009, destined to regularly represent Canada in the Womens Olympiad. Vladimir: Mid-30s established FIDE Master more than capable of punching above his weight, evidenced by him winning a strong event at Edmonton some 7 months after this tournament. These 400 Elo point disparities impose different problems to each opponent. Chess For Tigers, an excellent practical handbook from Simon Webb, offers good advice to both opponents when paired in this way. To the lower-rated: Play a gambit, choose activity whenever possible, seek opportunities to complicate, the hope is something unexpected neither player could have anticipated will appear when the complexities escalate. In essence, cross your fingers and make it murky, hoping your opponent will get stranded in the swamp. The alternative is to let the stronger player slowly but surely accumulate small advantages until the position of the weaker player falls apart, you go down never having thrown a punch. To the higher-rated: Be patient, do not try to blast the opponent off the board. Instead pose tricky strategic questions on how to continue, keep it under control. No need to fear an equal-looking late middlegame, it is in the endgame where a higher-rated should outplay the lesser-rated. Well, this is what Simon Webb recommends. Fine for the higher-rated here, but what if the lower-rated does not play gambits, instead preferring a calm positional approach?

1. d4 f5

Immediately signaling aggressive middlegame intentions with the Dutch Defence. In simple terms, black will focus on kingside activity with ideas of launching a mating attack. White usually blocks the centre then starts pushing queenside pawns while trying to keep the black kingside activity under control. Hand-tohand fighting should be on the agenda but not quite yet. We shall have an unspoken temporary agreement of “Non-Hostility”, both players sensibly choose well-known development plans.

2. c4 Nf6
3. g3 e6
4. Bg2 Be7
5. Nc3 O-O
6. Nf3 d6
7. O-O a5

White usually plans pawn c5 to start the queenside fighting. This almost always requires a support from a pawn on the b4 square. By advancing pawn a5 black plans trading pawns on b4 either gaining the fully-open a-file or trading rooks on a1 reducing the number of active white units for the queenside battle.

8. Qc2 Nc6

Supporting a central pawn e5 break.

9. a3 e5
10. d5 Nb8

Having achieved supporting the advance of the e-pawn the black knight is not bothered about being pushed backward, it has a perfectly satisfactory alternate posting available. The apparent loss of a couple of tempi is of little consequence, the centre is closed and the black king is sufficiently protected. White to play produces a concept of such depth it leaves Grand Rabbit wondering how to explain it. Perhaps the easier road to take is to comment as the game proceeds and summarise once it has been executed?

11. Ng5

Surely breaking the rule of voluntarily moving a piece twice in the opening when other units could make good use of the tempo? Not really. White has a manoeuvre in mind which gives stability to the kingside, a case of getting a retaliatory defence in place before it is needed. Black to play chooses to start some trickery. This strategy is not automatically bad, white is being asked to answer questions correctly.

11. ... Ng4

A doubler. Firstly, a double-attack is unleased onto the singly-defended white g5 knight. Secondly, the black g4 knight is probing at the white h2 pawn, a queen manoeuvre of Qe8 - Qh5 will set a mate threat, not a forcing attack but will require white to be aware of it. Instead 11. … h6 12. Nh3 g5 sets up a potential kingside pawn-roller, which supported with harmonious black piece-placement, might be very difficult to restrain.

12. Nh3

All part of the “Master-Plan” for this knight, any ideas just where it will eventually influence the middlegame?

12. ... Na6

Black now has complete control of important dark squares, namely b4 and c5, which white must control if the usual queenside activity is to appear.

13. Rb1

A doubler. Firstly, the necessary advance of pawn b4 is now doubly-supported and therefore safe. Secondly, the queen’s rook escapes the x-ray attack from the black a8 rook. Instead 13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 Nxb4 with a tempo attack on the white c2 queen, black would be safely snatching a pawn.

13. ... Qe8

Heading kingside where the action must occur for black in the Classical Dutch.

14. b4 axb4
15. axb4 Qh5

Important move for white to find here, and might have been in mind when 11. Ng5 appeared on the board.

16. f3

A move of mixed consequences. The Gains: Pushing back the black knight will make it more difficult for black to weave a mating net. When a unit moves it vacates a square for someone else, f2 is now available to white for future piece-shuffling. The Loss: Fianchetto bishops enjoy having their long diagonal open, the g2 bishop might be inactive for quite a while, or possibly worse?

16. ... Nh6

A common means of trying to break up the white defences can begin with black pushing pawn f4, retreating with Nf6 would block the vital support of the f8 rook.

17. Nf2

On h3 this knight might become a target for tactics, a potential black line-opening pawn f4 would unleash the lurking c8 bishop, the threat is cancelled before it can arise.

17. ... Bd7
18. Nd3

More shuffling. This knight has now consumed 5 tempi to arrive at the final destination planned for it when 11. Ng5 hit the board. Yes, white is flouting the good advice on developing pieces quickly. However since the position is closed and there are no weaknesses on which black can focus then it is safe for the moment.

18. ... g5

Thematic. Black should not fear advancing kingside pawns. Opening up lines for the pieces with pawn trades is the standard means of attacking in the Classical Dutch.

19. Be3

Development for both sides finally completed. Perhaps some thoughts on how our “Mismatched Gladiators” have been coping with the rating disparity might assist? White: Lower-rated: No signs of panic, no sense of fear, reproduced the strategic ideas of the opening system to achieve a solid position. Black: Higher-rated: The temptation to blast white off the board has been resisted. Serious testing will take place in the middlegame, and if need be, later in the endgame. But how does the position stand? White: A sensible balance between queenside attack and kingside defence has been struck. The curious path of the king’s knight to d3 allows it to play on either side of the board according to demands. Black: Trying to hold the queenside while being ready to launch a kingside assault. It is black to play with several options in need of sifting, serious commitment is in the air.

19. ... e4

Is this the best move available to black? Fritz and friends could spend hours and most likely disagree on how black should continue. Decisions must be made as the clock remorselessly ticks on. A different approach is a plan involving Kh8 - Rg8 and maybe Raf8 before deciding which kingside pawn should advance. Also dropping the black queen back to g6 which combined with Nf7 allows the h-pawn to advance to maximise line-opening options. Or perhaps even better a hybrid of both plans could be considered. The game move is setting a tactical trap, the testing of the lower-rated player has just escalated.

20. Nf2

White passes the test. Instead 20. fxe4 Ng4 threatens mate on h2, but after 21. h3 Nxe3 white drops a piece while receiving an exchange fork, the c2 queen and f1 rook being hit, disaster.

20. ... f4

Black definitely has the initiative, pawn advances claim space as they hit white pieces. Of course the white units can dance around in reply, but as they do so no progress is made on the queenside.

21. g4

Closing the kingside with a tempo-attack on the black queen avoids losing the e3 bishop. Instead the immediate 21. Bd4 would be met with the same idea from black as in game.

21. ... Qe8
22. Bd4

This bishop is more active on the a1 - h8 diagonal. Though careful consideration was needed before playing here, at the moment it has no safe flight squares. Instead retreating with 22. Bc1 would only leave it pointing at a black pawn chain.

22. ... e3

Black demonstrates flexibility of thinking. Usually the Classical Dutch involves good piece activity in front of the white king, prodding and probing to force fatal weaknesses. Clearly such general plans would involve opening files somewhere with pawn trades, then perhaps throw in an appropriate piece sacrifice somewhere to further open up the white king. However here black tries to lock up the white kingside, it is the fianchetto g2 bishop who is being imprisoned inside a white pawn chain. Well, this is of course true providing black manages to maintain the constricting g5 - f4 - e3 pawn wall.

23. Nd3 c5

Black chooses to force matters on the queenside. There is some sense in this approach, white is essentially a piece down for the ending if the g2 bishop remains entombed. Instead trying to trap the white d4 bishop with 23. … b6 fails, a couple of ideas run: (A). 23. … b6 24. Ne4 c5 25. bxc5 bxc5 26. Ba1, when the trapped g2 bishop is still a worry. (B). 23. … b6 24. Ne4 c5 25. dxc6 Bxc6 26. Bxb6white has snatched a pawn but that g2 bishop still suffers. However with the advantage of “Annotator Hindsight” perhaps 23. … Bf6 which will force the exchange of dark square bishops might have been simpler.

24. bxc5 dxc5

An important couple of changes have occurred to the pawn structure. White now has a protected passed d-pawn, it cannot get far at the moment but it must be kept under control by black. Whith the trade of the white b4 pawn the b1 rook attacks the unprotected black b7 pawn which must be protected.

25. Be5 Nb4

Closing the semi-open b-file with a tempo-attack on the white c2 queen. Instead either 25. … Ra7 or 25. … Bc8 would be placing pieces on worse squares than they presently occupy.

26. Nxb4

White could move the queen, but where could she go and maintain ideas of influencing the centre and kingside as she does on the c2 square?

26. ... cxb4

Black gets a passed pawn, protected by the e7 bishop, but it cannot advance, it is simply waiting to be surrounded and then captured.

27. Ne4

A doubler. Firstly, this fights for control of the f6 square, black cannot challenge with Bf6 to force a trade of bishops; white is beginning to get some play. Secondly, the e4 knight is pressuring the black g5 pawn. This means the e7 bishop is now tied down to keeping a defence on the important base of the strangling g5 - e3 pawn chain as well as guarding the b4 pawn. Overloaded pieces such as the e7 bishop are prime candidates for exploitation.

27. ... Qg6

A doubler. Firstly, the important clamping g5 pawn is given an extra defence. Secondly, the white e4 knight is pinned to the unprotected c2 queen, this surely immobilises it? It is white to play, the centralised white e4 knight and e5 bishop are battling hard on the dark squares, this strongly hints how white should proceed.

28. d6

A brave move to play against an opponent with a 400+ Elo rating points advantage. This pawn advance comes with mixed consequences. The Gains: The black e7 bishop is forced to retreat to the black back rank which disconnects the a8 and f8 rooks. Pushing the bishop off the f8 - a3 diagonal means the b4 pawn is now undefended. The Loss: Albeit temporary, the white d6 pawn is not supported by another white pawn, black might be able to gang up on it with pieces.

28. ... Bd8
29. Rxb4

Time to think again how our “Mismatched Gladiators” have fought so far. White: Calmly bounces back non-committal moves, demanding to be outplayed, out-thought, out-consused, depending on how the opponent chooses to fight. Essentially forcing the higher-rated to show their greater skills, no self-destruction here. Black: Started with aggressive intent, the Dutch Defence is not a weapon of neutralisation, hand-to-hand fighting is on the agenda. Flexibility of thinking has however taken over, the opportunity to trap the white g2 bishop replaced the usual desire to rip into the white kingside. Annotator Opinion: Both players have chosen a sensible approach. As expected the higher-rated has gained a significant positional advantage, the trapped white g2 bishop, which should be the decisive factor in the endgame. But we are still in the middlegame, tricks and traps into which the unwary can fall are just sitting there.

29. ... Nf7

Surely giving white a difficult choice of choosing between: (A). 30. Ba1 Nxd6 white keeps the bishop on the board but loses the important d6 pawn. (B). 30. Qb2 Nxe5 31. Qxe5 Bc6 black is beginning to unravel with the advantage of having the bishop pair and white still has a trapped g2 bishop to sort out. However we must remember that every move made in a game is a test of all chess skills. Tactical event horizons, positional comprehension, time-management, emotional control and much more. Databases are full of examples where the higher-rated outplays and beats the lower-rated. Fine, but the statistics also report that the underdog sometimes comes out on top. White to play has a “Window Of Opportunity” to open. It just needs the thought to occur that a higher-rated player can actually misjudge the position and make a mistake.

30. Nf6+

Surely this is the lower-rated player making a simple tactical mistake? Black has 2 units guarding the f6 square, d8 bishop and g6 queen, but as the white knight arrives there is only defended once by the e5 bishop. Looks like the pressure has got to white, all the previous hard work is now of no value, right?

30. ... Bxf6

Walking into an x-ray attack by moving the g8 king onto the h8 - a1 diagonal should not be contemplated; some ideas run: (A). 30. … Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Kh6 32. Qxg6+ hxg6 33. Nxf8 Nxe5 34. Rxb7 Nxc4 35. d7 white has won a rook in the trading plus the white passed d-pawn is very strong. (B). 30. … Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Kg8 32. Qxg6+ hxg6 33. Nxf8 Nxe5 34. Ne6 and white has won a rook in the trading. (C). 30. … Kh8 Nxd7+ Kg8 transposes into line (B) just given. (D). 30. … Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Nxe5 32. Qxg6+ hxg6 33. Nxe5 white has won a piece in the trading. (E). 30. … Kg7 31. Nxd7+ Nxe5 32. Qxg6+ Nxg6 33. Nxf8 Nxf8 34. Rxb7+ white has won an exchange plus b-pawn which creates a pair of connected central passed pawns.

31. Qxg6+

All part of the white “Master-Plan”, a guardian of f6 is eliminated, the apparent black control of this square was illusory.

31. ... hxg6
32. Bxf6 Bc6

Consolidating. White is not permitted the luxury of connected passed pawn by capturing the black b7 pawn. There is still the white passed d6 pawn to be restrained, but with 3 units controlling the d8 promotion square it seems black should be winning. It is the trapped white non-contributing bishop which is going to be the deciding factor, right? Perhaps matters are not so simple. When black was forced to trade Bxf6 the white dark square bishop became a very powerful piece. Only sensibly challengeable by the black knight, unless black is prepared to give up an exchange to eliminate this potentially powerful prelate. But surely the black c6 bishop has an even stronger grip on the light squares? This is so, but where in the white defences can it produce pressure while it is tied to defending the b7 pawn? Also the apparent extra black piece, the f7 knight, is tied to defending the important g5 pawn. If that pawn falls the entire constricting black pawn chain might disappear.

33. Rd1 Ra2

Black takes the chance to play actively. Fine, but perhaps initially placing the king on h6 to protect the g5 pawn and so releasing the f7 knight for action elsewhere might have been simpler before trying to force matters? Maybe time on the clocks is becoming a critical factor? Perhaps black is guessing the rating disparity will automatically favour the higher-rated player when decisions need to be made quickly? This is a good generalization, but sometimes positions can spin out of control as the complications escalate.

34. Bf1 Rd2

A doubler. Firstly, an interference, the white d1 support to the advanced passed d6 pawn is broken. Secondly, black reinstates a third defence on the d8 square, albeit by x-ray.

35. Rbb1

Probably the simplest, leaving black to work out the consequences of making captures. A couple of choices doubtlessly considered run: (A). 35. Rxd2 exd2 36. Rb1 Ba4 and the passed black d2 pawn is about to cost white a whole rook. (B). 35. Ra1 Rxd6 36. Be7 Rd2 37. Bxf8 Kxf8 and while white has snatched an exchange the combination of the black minor pieces against the white rook is not easy to asses. Black to play “Punches The Random Button”, setting the lower-rated player a tricky test.

35. ... Nxd6

A move of mixed consequences. The Gains: A dangerous opposing advanced passed pawn is eliminated plus the black knight is finally getting active. The Loss: Defence of the vital g5 pawn is relinquished, the compressing black pawn chain is at risk of being dismantled. But maybe white has something better than snatching a pawn? This is the tricky test handed to white, and sifting through the trickery will consume clock-time.

36. Be7

With the advantage of “Annotator Hindsight” white seems to be failing the test, the time-trouble trickery might be paying off. Skewering the black d6 knight and f8 rook in an attempt to win material is the confusion-trap black set. Much more relevant is 36. Bxg5 when the black dark square pawn chain might fall and a timely white pawn h4 begins the process of freeing the trapped white light square bishop. Black to play must have prepared an answer to the obvious bishop skewer, but what?

36. ... Nxc4

Black reveals the method in the apparent madness. An exchange loss is offered on f8 for the gain of the white central pawns plus the creation of a passed b-pawn. Teamwork of black bishop, knight, pawn, will seriously test a white rook, much pressure on white to hold the position. White to play is still sitting that tricky test.

37. Rdc1

Well played! Meeting complication with counter-complication, excellent strategy as the time-control approaches. Though the position is not particularly complex, playing a “Non-Obvious” move can sometimes throw an opponent off balance as vital seconds on the clock tick down.

37. ... Rf7

Similarly well played! Black forces white to choose between capturing the loose black c4 knight or save the e7 bishop, more time consumption on the white clock.

38. Bxg5

Definitely the simplest way to handle the position, the tricky-test is over, white has passed. Black has been hoping white will play a line where this dark square bishop trades itself for the f8 rook. White has finally correctly assessed it is of greater value than a black rook, the dismantling of the black pawn chain is under way, which will eventually permit the release of the light square bishop. Tactics were however available with 38. Bb4, black would have an exchange on d2 to worry about while the c4 knight still hangs, but how much time does white have too find and then judge them? And what if the searches revealed nothing acceptable, time would have been expended for no return. A couple of sample lines run: (A). 38. Bb4 Rd4 39. Bc5 Rfd7 40. Rb4 b5 leaving white to decide to give up the dominance of the dark squares for an exchange gain with 41. Bxd4, not easy to assess. But black can set another tricky test for white by standing firm. (B). 38. Bb4 Rfd7 39. Bxd2 exd2 and now the tree of complexity begins to expand considerably. Instead of offering line after line perhaps a discussion of ideas for both players might be better? White has the c1 rook en prise, it must make a decision. If it captures with Rxc4 then black promotes the d2 pawn costing white a rook leading to material equality but the resulting pawn structure imbalance is not easy to assess. If it instead defends with Rd1 black simply wins an exchange back with Ne3, and this will be followed by Ba4, white must give up the remaining rook on the d2 pawn, black wins. White can now free the f1 bishop with pawn e4, but black captures fxe3 to create advanced connected passed pawns, dangerous. When black captures exd2 the e3 square is vacated for the c4 knight, further fighting for the important d1 promotion square. These ideas lead Grand Rabbit to conclude the lower-rated player correctly chose the simpler capture of the black g5 pawn. Instead entering into complications by snatching an exchange might just give the higher-rated player the opportunity to demonstrate their superiour skills of calculation.

38. ... Ne5

Setting up some dangerous tactics, white is in danger of being blown away.

39. Rc5

Why is black resigning in a position which is very unclear? Perhaps it was not resignation but a loss on time? There are a few tricks available to black, maybe it was trying to sift out the most favourable idea which resulted in flag-fall? Fritz and friends would enjoy crunching out many lines to show who, if anyone, could play for a decisive advantage. Instead here are some aging bio-organic computations to indicate the complexity in the position: (A). 39. … Nd7 40. Rc4 and black is losing the f4 pawn with the e3 pawn also soon likely to fall. (B). 39. … Rd5 40. Rxd5 Bxd5 41. Rb5 Rd7 42. Bxf4 Nc4 it is white, now a good pawn up, thinking in terms of trying to win by advancing the kingside pawns to release the f1 bishop. Retreat moves gain black nothing, so search for something dynamic. (C). 39. … Bxf3 40. exf3 Nxf3+ 41. Kh1 Rxh2+ mate, but white has much better available than this sad blunder. (D). 39. … Bxf3 40. Rxe5 Bxe2 41. Bxe2 Rxe2 42. Rf1 f3 43. Rxe3 Rg2+ 44. Kh1 Rxg4 45. h4 f2 46. Re2 and the black f2 pawn falls, white with the extra bishop has a win with careful technique. Note the tricky black continuation of 46. … Rh7 fails as 47. Rexf2 Rxg5 48. Rf8+ Kg7 49. R1f7+ Kh6 50. Rxh7+ Kxh7 51. hxg5 and white has won a rook in the trading. (E). 39. … Bxf3 40. Rxe5 Bxg4 41. Re4 Bxe2 42. Bxe2 Rxe2 43. Bxf4 Rh7 44. Rxe3 and white again has a technical win. (F). 39. … Bxf3 40. Rxe5 Bxg4 41. Re4 f3 42. exf3 Bxf3 43. Rxe3 white again should win with good technique. Perhaps varying the black method of attack will offer better chances? (G). 39. … Nxf3+ 40. Kh1 Nxg5+ black wins a piece with a discovered check, white can resign here. (H). 39. … Nxf3+ 40. exf3 Bxf3 41. Bc4 e2 42. Re1 Rd1 43. Kf2 Bc6 44. Bxf4 white can pick off the black e2 pawn at leisure and there is still an exchange on f7 to be taken, white wins. (I). 39. … Nxf3+ 40. exf3 Bxf3 41. Bc4 e2 42. Re1 Rd1 43. Kf2 Bxg4 44. Rc7 and black will lose a whole rook on the f7 square. Is it that 39. … Nf3+ is not right, or could it just require a different black follow-up? (J). 39. … Nxf3+ 40. exf3 e2 41. Bg2 Rd1+ 42. Kf2 e1=Q+ mate but white can avoid this disaster. (K). 39. … Nxf3+ 40. exf3 e2 41. Bxe2 Rxe2 42. Rf1 Re8 43. Rc4 Ref8 saving the f4 pawn, the presence of opposite bishops strongly hints a draw is on the horizon Grand Rabbit concludes that if line K is the best available to both players then a draw would be the eventual result. So why did black not play it? It is most likely that black found it but kept searching the other variations in the hope of finding a forcing favorable line, a “Win At All Costs” approach, but failed to find a clincher. Such is the pressure on higher-rated players in early rounds of large Open events. And oh yes, congratulations to the victorious “Out-Gunned Gladiator” for evading the flying flack, assuming they had guns in those days.

**If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please send them to the USBCA Secretary, Marilyn Bland, at tinkerbelltx@hotmail.com