American Postal Chess Tournaments
Click to download all 1999 Games
Jonathan Voth, Games Editor
507 N. Arthur St., Apt I-106
Kennewick, WA 99336
Richard Fontinha has played correspondence chess for many years. Though many players
have dreamed of writing a book, Richard has actually followed through, and has been
kind enouigh to share some of his games through this column.
94 M/E-2; 1994-95
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+
I agree with Larsen - 3 d4 exchanges a valuable center pawn for a less valuable winger and provides Black the basis for his counterplay in the regular variations of the Sicilian Defense.
3 ... Bd7 4 Bxd7+ Qxd7 5 O-O Nc6 6 c3 Nf6 7 Re1 e6 8 d4 cxd4 9 cxd4 d5 10 e5 Ne4 11 Nbd2 Nxd2 12 Bxd2 Be7 13 Rc1
ECO (1984) gives only 13 Bg5 O-O 14 Bxe7 Nxe7!? 15 Re3 Rfc8 = Lieb-Andersson, Munich 1979.
13 ... O-O 14 h4
This Larsenesque thrust is an invention of mine. The idea itself is not so novel, but employing it so early in this variation is, or at least was. Razuvayev & Matsukevitch mention only the alternatives 14 Qb3 and 14 Qe2, both leading to dreary equality. My idea is that since White has a pawn on e5 and Black has castled kingside, White's only reasonable strategy is kingside attack. I play to march my h-pawn as far as Black will let it go, and if he should stop it exploit whatever weakness he creates thereby. Of course, things are not quite that simple and means to surpress Black's natural counterplay - the c-file, pressure on d4 - must be found. I would have played 13 h4, but Black had not yet revealed which corner his king was going to.
14 ... Rac8
With classical aplomb, Black calmly positions his rook on the only open file.
Not so much to prevent ... Nb4 as to simply make it difficult for Black to reposition the knight and unmask the file, thereby providing himself a tube with which to bleed off the heavy pieces before I can provoke fatal weaknesses on his other flank.
15 ... a6?
I do not understand this move, which to me seems a waste of time.
I believe that at this point Black's best hope is to play for ... f6 and the demolition of White's center in a less usual way.
According to plan.
16 ... b5?
Now I see: Black plans to put his queen on a7 and apply diagonal pressure to d4. It's an idea, but it's simply too slow and does nothing to deter White from his lethal intent against the black monarch.
17 h6 g6
The black squares now belong to White.
The queen needs to be redeployed to the kingside to assist in the exploitation of the dark-squared weakness created for her there by her lowly subject.
18 ... Qa7 19 Qe3
Protecting the d-pawn along the way.
19 ... Rfe8 20 Qf4 Bf8
To reposition the knight and keep watch over the latent mate threat on g7.
Position after 20 ... Bf8
When to give up the c-file here is a matter of timing, and now it's time
Basically the trick is to do it when only one rook will be exchanged and when Black is so awkwardly placed as to make penetration by his remaining rook either problematic or meaningless.
21 ... Ne7 22 Rxc8 Rxc8 23 g4
The enemy knight must not be allowed access to f5.
23 ... Rc4?
Planning to hit the d-pawn three times after ... Nc6, but this is easily prevented.
24 Bb4 Rxb4
Black commits suicide rather than face the slow death which awaits him 24 ... Nc6 25 Bxf8 Kxf8 26 Qf6 and the d-pawn no longer matters - e.g. 26 ... Nxd4 27 Qg7+ Ke7 28 Ng5 and Black's house is coming down.
25 axb4 Nc6 26 Rc3
Now that he has no rooks, the c-file is mine.
26 ... Nxb4 27 Rc8 Qe7 28 Qf6 Qxf6
Forced, else mate on g7.
There is no defense against 30 Ne5, 31 Nd7 or 30 Ne5, 31 Nc6, 32 Ne7+
1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 e6 5 cxd5 exd5
5 ... cxd5 is safer since it precludes White's minority attack. It is, however, more likely to lead to a draw through safe dullness.
6 Bg5 Be7 7 e3 Bf5 8 Bd3 Bxd3 9 Qxd3 Nbd7 10 O-O O-O 11 a3
ECO (1987) gives only 11 Rab1 leading to equality
I suppose the point of 11 a3 is to effect b4 without the support of the rook, if possible.
11 ... Ne8
11 ... a5 was also possible, with probable transposition back into the ECO line, but I wanted to try out a different plan.
12 Bxe7 Qxe7 13 b4 a6 14 a4
Position after 14 a4
14 ... Nd6
I am going to allow b5 and use my knights as a shield to my weakened c-pawn by controlling c4. The idea is to slow down White's queenside play and cause him to move reserves there and thus increase my chances on the opposite side of the board.
15 b5 axb5 16 axb5 Nb6
The square c4 belongs to Black, at least for a while.
17 bxc6 bxc6
The minority attack has succeeded in creating an autistic weakling on c6.
Forcing defense of c6 and contesting c4 at least once.
18 ... Qc7 19 Qc2 Nbc4 20 Nxc4 Nxc4 21 e4?!
Interesting, but perhaps not best. Of course 21 ... dxe4?! 22 Nxe4 is good for White; but Black need not take, and in fact now he has a lever square - f4 - with which to begin prying at the kingside.
21 ... Rxa1 22 Rxa1 Qf4 23 Rd1
To defend against the queen's lateral pressure against d4 and prevent the dissolution of all the engaged pawns, and along with them Black's one targetable weakness.
23 ... Rb8
Looking towards b2 and f2 and the white king.
24 g3 Qf3
Things are starting to get muddled for White, so he opts for the endgame.
25 Qd3 Qxd3 26 Rxd3 Rb3
The threat of 27 ... dxe4 forces White to liquidate Black's weakness at c6.
27 exd5 cxd5 28 Kg2 f6 29 Rf3
So the knight can move.
29 ... Nd2 1/2 - 1/2
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Qc7 7 Qg4 f6 8 Bb5+ Kf8!
Both ECO (1981) and Suetin give only 8 ... Nc6, leading to an advantage for White.
My opponent later told me that the game move could be found in BCO, which I did not have.
I think 8 ... Kf8! busts 8 Bb5+ and that White needs to find something new after 7 ... f6.
Perhaps this is not best, but the fact is that should Black play ... c4, White's bishop will not be able to get out alive; and if White should simply retreat the bishop, then Black plays 9 ... cxd4 and White must take with the queen and then lose the pawn on e5 after 10 ... Nc6, else Black swoops down on c3 - e.g. 9 Be2 cxd4 10 cxd4 Qc3+.
9 ... Qxe5+ 10 Ne2 Qc7 11 Ba4 e5 12 Qh5
Threatening mate on e8 so as to provoke another kingside pawn move in the hopes that some future lever might be able to pry open the ramparts and gain access to the enemy king.
12 ... g6 13 Qf3 Be6
Since the g8 knight will not be able to move for a while, he provides support to d5 in this way.
14 h4 h5
White tries everything, but the resilience of Black's position will not be overcome.
Playing for 16 c4. The move 15 Bg5 looks pretty, but the simple 15 ... Kg7 dispels all illusions.
15 ... Na6 16 Be3 Rh7
And with this double protection of b7 White's idea of c4 is rendered obsolete.
17 Bb3 Rd7 18 Qg3 Kg7 19 f4
If White does not get at the enemy king his structural weaknesses are likely to lead to loss.
19 ... Bg4
But this shield is unpiercable, so ...
20 fxe5 Qxe5 21 Qxe5
Before Black backs his queen with a rook.
21 ... fxe5 22 Nc1 Rc8 23 Nd3 d4
Black cashes in and takes his pawn, which seems almost inevitable after 8 ... Kf8!
24 cxd4 exd4 25 Bg5 Nxc5 26 Nxc5 Rxc5 27 Kd2 d3
Black spots a combination which brings about even more simplification while still leaving him a pawn up, but unwittingly he is playing into one of my strengths: I have played so many pawn-down endings that I have gotten rather good at defending them.
Had Rick known me better he would of played for mate or the win of even more material.
28 cxd3 Bf5 29 Bc2
I knew what was coming, but like a good concubine decided to roll over.
Position after 29 Bc2
29 ... Rxc2+ 30 Kxc2 Bxd3+ 31 Kc3 Bxb1 32 Rxb1 Ne7 33 Rb2 Nf5 34 Rb4
To effect the exchange of a pawn: as the proverb goes, the weaker side should exchange pawns not pieces.
34 ... Kf7 35 g4 hxg4 36 Rxg4 Ke6 37 Re4+ Kd5 38 Re8 Nd6 39 Rd8
Forcing the exchange of rooks, which goes against the before-quoted proverb.
There are, however, exceptions to every rule; and in this case, with pawns on both sides of the board and no significant outposts for the knight, a pure bishop vs. knight endgame is easier to draw than one polluted with rooks.
39 ... Rxd8 40 Bxd8 Ke6
Black decides to win the h-pawn.
White decides to let him.
41 ... Nf7 42 Bc7 Ne5 43 Kc5
White's idea is to make progress on the queenside while Black's monarch takes a predatory stroll on the kingside.
43 ... Nf3 44 Bd8 Kd7 45 Bf6
If needs be, the cleric will shuffle back and forth between d8 and f6 forever. White cannot allow the exchange of minor pieces as the resulting king and pawn ending is lost for him.
45 ... Ke6 46 Bd8 Kf5
He makes his move.
And I make mine.
47 ... Nd4
Now he switches targets and goes after the a-pawn, but the problem is that it takes the knight a couple of moves to make the threat and the bishop only one to thwart it.
Forcing the knight to make his move and freeing the a3-f8 diagonal for defense.
48 ... Nb5 49 Be7 Kg4 50 Kc4 Nxa3+
Black takes his best winning chance.
51 Bxa3 Kxh4 52 Bc5 b6 53 Be7+ Kg4 54 Kb5 Kf5 55 Bd6
The white bishop takes three moves to gobble the queenside pawns and when he's done
he'll be observing the g-pawn's queening square.
1/2 - 1/2
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Nc6 4 O-O e5 5 c3 Qb6
Out of the books already: Razuvayev & Matsukevitch discuss only 5 .... Ne7.
The choices are the text, 6 Ba4, 6 Bxc6, 6 Qe2 etc..
6 ... Bg4?! 7 Ba4
Why did I play 6 Na3 if I intended this? I must find the me I was then and ask him.
7 ... O-O-O 8 Nc4
Ok, I found him: it was to execute this two-move maneuver with the knight, kicking black pieces while redeploying.
8 ... Qc7 9 Ne3 Bh5 10 g4
I bet this surprised him.
I figured I could get away with this as long as I was careful either to keep the position from opening up too fast or to strike his queenside before he strikes my kingside. Besides, the pin had to be broken.
10 ... Bg6 11 d3 Nge7?!
I think full-steam ahead with 11 ... h5 is the way to go, in which case I probably would have replied 12 g5.
12 Bb3 Na5 13 c4
Keeping the center fixed: 13 ... Nxb3 14 axb3 with the a-file and b-pawn lever is fine with me.
13 ... Nac6
The square d4 has become more attractive than the bishop on b3.
The stonewall is complete.
14 ... f6 15 Ba4
To make way for b4. Admittedly, it all looks a bit odd, but it seems to make sense.
15 ... Bf7 16 a3 g5
I was wrong - the wall has grown.
I wanted to close the center before initiating my attack upon his king, but perhaps the immediate 17 b4 was more relevant.
17 ... Nxd5 18 cxd5 Nd4 19 Nxd4 exd4
The knights are gone even though the position on the board favors them.
20 Qf3 Qe7 21 b4
White has a slight advantage because his queenside is more mobile than Black's kingside.
21 ... Be8?! 22 Bxe8
Exchanging my bad bishop for his good one seemed a favorable trade to me.
22 ... Rxe8 23 Rfc1 Kb8 24 Rc2 Qe5 25 Rb1 Rd8 26 Rcb2 Rd7 27 Qf5
Black must either exchange queens or vacate the center; since White's bishop is superior to Black's he opts for vacation.
27 ... Qe7 28 f4?!
Playing on this side of the board is unwise, but I wanted room to redeploy.
28 ... h6 29 Be1
The bishop needs to be realigned so as to target the queenside.
29 ... Ka8 30 Rc1
Threatening 31 bxc5 dxc5 32 Rxc5 Qxc5 33 Qxd7, so Black unmasks his other defender of c5.
30 ... Qd8 31 Rbc2 b6
The Great Wall of China is complete, but will it keep the Mongols out?
Threatening 33 Bxd4 cxd4 34 Rc8+, so the black queen moves off the back rank.
32 ... Qe7 33 a4
The move 33 ... cxb4 is obviously bad, so this move is safe enough and it extends the attack.
33 ... Bg7 34 bxc5 bxc5 35 Rb1 Rb7 36 Rcb2 Rxb2 37 Rxb2
Position after 37 Rxb2
37 ... Qe8
Aiming at the a-pawn.
If 38 ... a6, then 39 Rb6 and it's a free for all, with White having the better chances because his king has more protection.
38 ... Qc8
White must now gag on a residue of his 28th move: he does not really want to exchange, but his queen has nowhere to go.
39 Qxc8+ Rxc8 40 Rb1
So as to defend against 41 ... c4 with 42 Rc1; 40 ... gxf4 does not matter because a black pawn on that square must inevitably fall to the white king.
40 ... Bf8
The bishop must get into the game somehow, and the only outlet is on the other side of the board.
Not to prevent 41 ... gxf4, which as explained earlier is no danger, but to lock as many of black's pawns as possible on squares the color of his bishop.
41 ... Be7 42 Kf1?!
The white king needs to observe Black's c5/d4 couple, but ...
42 ... Bd8 43 Bg3
... maybe it would have been better to play this on move 42, ending the bishop's pilgrimage then.
43 ... Bc7 44 Ke2 Rh8
Last winning try by Black.
Answered by White's last winning try:
e.g. 45 ... h5 46 hxg5 etc..
45 ... Rb8 46 Rxb8+
After 46 ... Kxb8 both kings end up in the vicinity of White's a-pawn, and though White has the better
bishop, there is no way to force the point home.
1/2 - 1/2
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 Qd7 5 Bd2 b6 6 Nce2 Bxd2+
Here we leave ECO (1981), which gives only 6 ... Bf8.
7 Qxd2 Ba6 8 Nf3 Nc6 9 g3 Nge7
Watson assesses this position as equal and mentions the plan ... Nf5, ... h5, ... O-O-O, ... f6 for Black.
10 Bh3 Bxe2
My reasoning was that since White had managed to get rid of his bad bishop Black should get rid of his. White's good bishop will bite on granite until the position is opened and if it remains closed knights are better than bishops etc., etc..
11 Qxe2 O-O 12 c3 Na5 13 O-O c5 14 Nh4
I thought White intended f4, f5 here, but I ended up being mistaken. At any rate, I think this plan would have been difficult to meet.
14 ... Nac6 15 Rad1?!
Sadly necessary if he hopes to remain poised for kingside assault.
It's sad because now Black will open the c-file and White will have little hope of contesting it because his rook is tied down guarding d4. The move 15 Rfd4 would have allowed the other rook to take a bead on the c-file from c1, but that would have taken one of the f-pawn's supports away. But still, all in all, I think this a case of the wrong rook.
15 ... cxd4 16 cxd4 Rac8 17 Ng2?!
I don't think this change of plans is a very good idea - f4 is still the best bet in the casino.
17 ... Nb4
Well, as it turns out, if White did want to play Ng2, the preparatory 17 a3 would have been prudent. It is wise to slow down your opponent's play on one side of the board if you have designs on the other.
18 a3 Nc2
This raiding knight is going to end up causing White a considerable snarl.
19 Nf4 Ng6
I wanted to reduce the number of White's kingside pieces before sending my queen off in support of the raider on c2.
20 Nxg6 hxg6 21 Rd2 Qa4
In addition to supporting the knight, the queen adds a second stress upon d4, which is going to pull more white pieces out of their kingside dreams.
22 Rfd1 Rc4
Third stress and preparation for doubling rooks.
23 Qg4 Qb3
Shifting the attack to b2.
Ejection of the Rook.
24 ... Rc7 25 Bd3
Position after 25 Bd3
25 ... b5!
Probably the trickiest move of the game. I simply did not want White to be able to play Ba6 in certain variations.
26 Kg2 Qxb2 27 Qe2 Rfc8
Since White does not have the immediate option of Ba6, Black can extricate the raider or its support in various ways should that become necessary, so White returns to his love of the f-pawn.
28 f4 Qb3 29 Qf2
With the pin on the black queen released, d4 had to be protected from the troublesome knight.
29 ... a6 30 g4 Nxa3 31 f5
At last White's dream comes true, but it is too late because he slept for far too may years.
31 ... Nc4 32 fxg6
Tactics are his only hope.
32 ... Nxd2 33 Rxd2 Rf8 34 Qh4 fxg6 35 Qg5
35 Bxg6 doesn't work because of 35 ... Qf3+.
35 ... Qc3 36 Rd1 Qxd4 0-1
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f5
It's hard to believe that this move will ultimately prove to be viable, but all the efforts at outright refutation have thus far failed. Nimzovitch thought the defense good, and perhaps that is enough reason to try it.
I think 3 exf5 is much harder for Black to meet.
3 ... Qf6 4 d4 d6 5 Nc4 fxe4 6 Ne3
The blockading treatment preferred by Nimzovitch.
6 ... Nc6 7 d5 Ne5 8 Be2 Qf7 9 O-O
In Grivaninis' tome 8 Be2 Qf7 is mentioned as a mere possibility in a side note to Grey-Zemitis, USA 1974. The 1977 Chess Digest pamphlet on the Latvian suggests that 8 Be2 is a less active continuation, with White's plan involving O-O and f3 to liquidate Black's advanced central outpost. Kosten (1995) mentions 8 Be2 but discusses only the follow-up 9 c4. So more or less Mr. Riggs and I are falling off the beaten track here.
9 ... Nf6 10 Nc3 Be7 11 Qd4
Pressuring the e-pawn and forcing Black's reply.
11 ... Qg6 12 f4
Almost forcing Black to capture en passant since none of his possible knight retreats are particularly attractive.
12 ... exf3 13 Bxf3 Bd7
I had been afraid of Nb5 for several moves and was more concerned to prevent it or render it harmless than to immediately 'win' the two bishops.
Rather than embark upon queenside forays, White decides to throw his weight in the other direction. I decided to take the advantage of the two bishops and to prevent Nf4.
14 ... Nxf3+ 15 Rxf3 Nh5 16 Ng3 Bf6
Driving the queen from the center and putting pressure on b2, presenting White with a problem concerning the completion of his development
White decides to force the exchange of queens rather than retreat.
17 Qe4+ Qxe4 18 Nxe4 Be5 19 Nc4!
White solves all his problems with this move and leaves Black faced with a difficult endgame.
19 ... Bg4 20 Nxe5 dxe5
20 ... Bxf3 21 Nxf3 and two pieces for the rook is no bargain.
A bit of a surprise.
Position after 21 Rb3
21 ... O-O-O
Black's only compensation for his inferior pawn structure is his slight lead in development. He must transform this into something else or the bishops of opposite color might not even save him.
22 c4 Nf4 23 Bxf4?
Black's knight is irritating but this move repairs the enemy's structural damage.
23 ... exf4 24 Ng5 Rd7 25 Re1 h6 26 Nf3 Bxf3 27 Rxf3 g5
Perhaps this is the position White intended to bring about, feeling that Black's extended wing could be undermined and destroyed. But this plan is double-edged, as the game will show. Besides, rook endings are notoriously hard to win.
28 h4 c6
Two can undermine as well as one.
29 dxc6 bxc6
Pawn structure is less relevant now that the contestants are beginning to take broad, tactical whacks at one another.
30 Re6 Kc7 31 hxg5 hxg5 32 Rg6
White has ostensibly won a pawn, but Black has a few bullets in his gun too.
32 ... Rd1+ 33 Rf1 Rh1+!
This move allows a Black Rook to penetrate White's defenses.
34 Kxh1 Rxf1+ 35 Kh2 Rf2
The pawn-gobble begins.
36 Rxg5 Rxb2 37 c5
White decides to make it difficult for Black to mobilize his king.
37 ... Rxa2
38 Rg7+ Kd8 39 Rf7 Rc2? 40 Rxa7
Black was wrong to give up his outside passed pawn so soon, I think.
40 ... Rxc5 41 Kh3 Rc3+ 42 Kg4 Rg3+ 43 Kxf4 Rxg2 44 Ke3
The game was given up as a draw here: I could see no way to force the usual rook & pawn winning positions
But still, I probably should have tried.
1/2 - 1/2
1 e4 Nc6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3
One of the better gambits around.
If any line of play is destined to make the Nimzovitch obsolete, it's this one. Even the great master himself used to play 3 ... e6 here from time to time and enter an unesteemed variation of the French rather than face the defensive anxieties incurred by 3 ... dxe4.
3 ... dxe4 4 d5 Ne5
ECO (1984) gives 4 Nb8 as the main line. Since Larsen edited B00 in this edition, and since he has a strong Nimzovitchian bent, perhaps we lesser lights should take heed.
To my mind 5 Bf4 is even more difficult to meet.
5 ... Ng6 6 Qxe4 a6 7 Nf3
Harding (1981) discusses only 7 Bc4, 7 a4, 7 Be3, and 7 Qa4+.
7 ... Nf6 8 Qa4+ Bd7 9 Qb3 Qc8 10 Bd3
Here ECO (1984) ends, assigning a significant advantage to White.
10 ... e6
Perhaps the immediate 10 ... e5 is better.
11 O-O Bd6 12 Ng5 e5
Trying to keep the a2-g8 diagonal from erupting.
13 Bd2 O-O 14 Rae1 Bf5 15 Nge4 Nxe4 16 Nxe4 Rb8
Black needs to free his queen from guard duty.
17 Nxd6 cxd6
Position after 17 ... cxd6
This seems loosening enough to provide Black sufficient counterplay to draw.
18 ... Bxd3 19 Qxd3 Nxf4 20 Bxf4 exf4 21 Rxf4
White was probably banking on his superior pawn structure for a long-term advantage.
21 ... Qc5+
But there are enough dynamics in the position to make static consideration secondary.
22 Kh1 Qa5 23 Re7 Rbe8 24 Rxe8 Rxe8 25 h3
25 ... Qe1+ 26 Rf1 Qe2 27 Qf5 f6 28 b3 Re5
Whoever tries to win is likely to lose, so ...
1/2 - 1/2