American Postal Chess Tournaments

by NM Jim Marfia
(Nov-Dec 1999)


The Hyper(Ventilated) Marshall Gambit

THEORY IS QUITE FAMILIAR with what we call the Leningrad Variation of the Ruy Lopez, which arises after the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5 5. Bb3 Na5 6. 0-0 (and which the rest of the world knows as the "Norwegian Variation'' - Marf). The usual continuation is 6... d6. Over ten years ago, GM Viktor Kupreichik made a valiant effort to rehabilitate this line; but in games such as Tseshkovsky - Kupreichik (Minsk 1986) and Smagin -Kupreichik (Minsk 1985), White generally achieved a considerable advantage after 7. d4 ed 8. Nxd4 Bb7 9. c4 or 9. Bd2.

I would therefore like to propose a new gambit idea - Black bravely gives away a center pawn, by 6. ... Bb7

Diagram a
Position after 6. ... Bb7

with one possible continuation being 7. Nxe5 Nxb3 8. ab Nf6 (too bad Black can't play 8. ... d5 at once, but that gives White the advantage after 9. Qh5! Qe7 ( 9... g6? 10 Nxg6! ) 10. ed! g6 11. Qd1! (Rudensky-Beryozin, Kharkov 1969) Less convincing is 9. ed Qxd5 10. Qf3 Qxf3 11. Nxf3 0-0-0 12. d3? ( 12. Nxe5!? Nh6 13. d3 f6 14. Bxh6 fe 15. Bg5 Rd6 16. Be3 Rc6 17. c4 Rd6 18. Rd1 Be4, with counterplay) 12... Bxf3 13.gf Kb7 14.Be3 Ne7 15.d4 Nf5 16.c3 c5 17.Rd1 cd 18.cd Bc5 19.Nc3 Bxd4, and Black has the better chances (Zlotnik-Beryozin, Moscow 1967).

In Masich - Beryozin (Moscow Environs, 1995), White decided to test my gambit idea for solidity: 9. d3 d5! 10. ed Qxd5 11. Qf3

Diagram b
Position after 11. Qf3

11... Bd6 12. Re1 0-0 13. Qxd5 Nxd5 14. Bd2 (14. Nc3 Nb4) 14... Rfe8 15. Nf3 Rxe1+ 16. Nxe1 Re8 17. c4?! ( better 17. Nc3 Nb4, with equality) 17... Nf4 18. Nc3 Ne2+ 19. Kf1?! (a preferable course is 19. Nxe2 Rxe2 20. Bc3 b4 21. Kf1 Re6 22. Bd2 Be5) 19... Nd4 20. cb ab 21. Be3 Nxb3 22. Ra7 Bc6 23. Ra6 Bd7 24. Ra7 f5 25. Nd5 Bc6 26. Nf4 (not 26. Nxc7? Re7) 26... Kf7 (and here, not 26...g5? 27 Nh5!) 27. Ra6 g5 28. Rxc6 gf 29. Bc1 Ra8 30. g3 Nd4, and Black quickly won.

The first practical test of my new gambit idea, however, was in a quickplay (30-minute) tournament. This was in the Polish cultural center in Moscow, five years ago, in a meeting of two generations: seniors vs. schoolboys. Black was my student, a 12-year-old 1st-category player, Sasha Pirozhkov; White was the author of a monograph on the Ruy Lopez, grandmaster Alexei Suetin.

Here's how it went: 8... Nf6 9. d3 d5 10. ed Qxd5 11. Qf3 Bd6 12. Qxd5 Nxd5 13. Re1 0-0 14. Bd2 Rfe8 15. Nf3 Rxe1+ 16. Nxe1 Re8 17. Nc3 Nb4 (up to this point, Black has played our home analysis) 18. Kf1?! (And here, I think White already must have recourse to 18. Ne4 Bxe4 19. de Rxe4 20. Bxb4 Bxb4 21. Nd3 Bd6 22. Rxa6 h5 23. Kf1 b4!? 24. c3 Kh7 25. cb Bxb4 26. f3 Rd4 27. Ke2 Bd6, with an even endgame.) 18... h5? Black is clearly getting sidetracked here, abandoning the strategic line for this na´ve threat against the h-pawn. After 18...f5!, White is almost stalemated.

19. Ne4! (the grandmaster exploits his young opponent's serious error at once) 19... Bxe4 20. de Rxe4 21. c3!

White can play this, as e2 is already protected. Weaker would be 21. Bxb4 Bxb4 22. c3 Bd6 23. Rxa6 Bxh2 24. g3 h4 25. Nf3 hg 26. Kg2 Re2!, or 25. Nd3 hg 26. Kg2 gf 27. Nxf2 Re2!

21... Nd5 22. Nf3

22. Rxa6 would have been premature: 22... Bxh2 23. g3 h4 24. Kg2 hg 25, fg? Re2+.

22... Nf4 23. Rxa6 f6 (24. Ra8+ Kh7 25. Ng5+ was the threat) 24. Nd4 Nd3 25. Be3 (avoiding a transparent trap - 25. Nxb5? Bf4) 25... b4?!

The last inaccuracy in time-pressure. Apparently, Black could still have put up some resistance after 25...Bf4!? 26. Nxb5 (not 26. Ke2? Nxf2!) 26...Bxe3 27. fe Rxe3.

26. Ke2 Nxb2 27. c4, and Black soon lost.

Perhaps White should not be in such a hurry to exchange queens. In that case, we reach the second, and no less important variation:

11. Nf3!? (see diagram below). This line received its baptism of fire in another quickplay tournament, with fifteen minutes per side this time:

Moscow 1992

Diagram c
Position after 11. Nf3!?

11... 0-0-0 12. Nc3 Qh5 13. Bf4 Bd6 14. Bg3

Later games saw White continue 14. Bxd6 Rxd6 15. Re1 b4 16. Nb1 Nd7?! This was the continuation of a game by another of my students, 15-year-old candidate-master Ilya Gorodetsky, played against Alexander Filatov, another boy his age, in the VII Petrosian Memorial, 1993. I think that this position is a critical one for this line of my gambit system, where Black must test the following forcing line: 16...Bxf3!? 17. Qxf3 Qxf3 18. gf Rc6! 19. c3 (19. Re7 Rf8, or 19. Re2 Re8) 19...bc 20. bc Nd5 21. c4 (21. Rc1 Re8) 21...Nb4 22. Re7 Rf8 23. d4 Nc2 24. d5 Nxa1 25. dc Nxb3.

14... Bxg3 15. fg (15. hg? Ng4) 15... Ng4 16. Qd2 Rhe8 17. Rae1 Qc5+ 18. d4 (18. Kh1 Rxe1 19. Qxe1 b4 20. Ne4 Qxc2, with better chances for Black) 18... Rxe1 19. Rxe1 (19. Qxe1 Qh5! 20. Qf2 c5!?) 19... Bxf3 20. dc Rxd2 21. gf Nxh2 22. Re3 Rxc2?! (there was no hurry for this, of course - 22...Kb7 was stronger) 23. c6! Kb8 24. Nd5 g5 25. Nb4! Rxb2 26. Nxa6+ Ka7 27. Nxc7 Kb6 28. Nxb5! Kxc6 29. Nd4+ Kd5 30. Rd3 g4 31. fg Nxg4 32. b4 Ke4 33. Rb3! Rxb3 34. Nxb3, and with both flags hanging, the game was soon drawn.

I have presented this quick game only because it shows, in my opinion, the characteristic strategy. In another quickplay (15-minute) event, I decided to test still another interesting plan: after 11. Nf3 0-0-0 12. Nc3 Qh5 13. Bf4 Bd6 14. Bxd6 Rxd6 15. Re1 b4 16. Nb1 (as in the Filatov - Gorodetsky game) 16... Nd5!? ( with the idea of 17...Nf4!) 17. Re5 f5 18. Raa5 Nf4 19. Rxf5?! Qg4 20. Rg5?? Nh3+. Of course, White just lost it - but I think the plan of transferring the knight to the kingside is also quite logical.

Undoubtedly, White sets the greatest problems before Black with 9. Re1! (instead of 9. d3). This most dangerous plan was employed against me by Zhukovitsky in the 3rd Russian Seniors' Championship (Moscow Env. 1994). Only after 9...Be7 did White continue 10. d3 d5 11. ed Qxd5? 12. Qf3?! The simple 12. Nf3!, as yet another of my students, Andrei Kravchenko, pointed out, leads to a decisive advantage for White, as the Black king is unable to get out of the center. Of course, Zhukovitsky did manage to convert his extra pawn, after all.

But the rehabilitation of this author's gambit system continues to this day, in collegial analysis with my students (These days, I work with a group of 1st-category players in the Petrosian club.). Nowadays, we spend most of our time analyzing the position after 11... Nxd5!?

Diagram d
Position after 11... Nxd5!?

Unfortunately, there has been as yet no opportunity of testing this, our main line analysis, in tournament games (training games don't count!):

I. 12. Qf3 0-0 13. c4 f6! 14. Ng4 (14. cd?! fe) 14... Nb4!? 15. Qxb7 Nc2 16. Qe4!? (16. Rxa6?! Nxe1 17. Rxa8 Qxa8) 16... d5 (16..Re8!? is also possible) 17. Qxe7 fg 18. Ra5 (18. Qxd8 Raxd8 19. Bg5 Rxd3 20. Nc3 b4 21. Nd5 Nxe1 22. Rxe1 Rxb3 23. Re2 a5 24. Nxc7 a4 25. c5 a3, or 25. g3 a3 26. ba ba, with good play for Black) 18... Nxe1 19. Qxe1 Qxd3 20. Nd2 Rae8 21. Qd1 Re2, with advantage (if 22. Qf1, Rfe8!).

II. 12. Qg4 This was the continuation in a game between two young players at the most recent Petrosian Memorial Tournament (Moscow 1998):


It's easy to guess that it was my student who played Black. The continuation was: 12... 0-0 13. Bh6 Bf6 14. Nc3 (14. Nd7 Bc8! 15. Nxf6+ Qxf6 16. Qg5 Qxg5 17. Bxg5 Bb7, with enough compensation) 14... Nxc3?!

Of course Black should have played 14...b4! 15. Nxd5 Bxd5 (15..Qxd5? 16 Nd7!), and if White still plays 16. Nd7, then 16...Be6!? 17. Nxf6+ Qxf6, and Black's chances are probably no worse. After 15. bc Kh8 16. Bf4 Bxe5 17. Rxe5 f6 18. Rh5!, White got the advantage, but was unable to realize it.

It's certainly too early to give a final verdict on this new Spanish Gambit. I myself am not one hundred percent convinced of its correctness. But if the strategic ideas therein find supporters, then I will consider that the years that I and my students have spent together analyzing it will not have been in vain. I look forward to hearing from the readership -thank you in advance.

Josif BERYOZIN, Honored Russian Trainer

(Translated from 64 magazine by The Marf)

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