The Campbell Report
Hard Chess
with USCF Senior Master Mark Morss
Baffo - Morss, USCF-93RT21 [C55]

The white pieces in this game were commanded by Jeff Baffo, a U. S. Air Force officer who was stationed, during the course of the game, first in Germany and then in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a notable gambiteer, as I discovered when I saw a nice postal win of his with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nxf7!? published in Chess Life.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.0-0 Bc5

Entirely satisfactory for Black is 5...Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qh5! which is analyzed in Hard Chess for March 1999. However, the move played, which acquiesces to the dangerous Max Lange Attack, is a better winning attempt.

6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ng5 Qd5 10.Nc3 Qf5 11.Nce4 Bf8!

Diagram a
Position after 11...Bf8

Rubinstein's move, and in principle, the most solid move in the position. Black will not permit his opponent to establish a pawn on g7.


The complications arising from this move are critical for the evaluation of 11...Bf8, and perhaps of the entire Max Lange. For alternatives see Soricelli-Morss.

12...Kxf7 13.Ng5+ Kg8

A once well-regarded line that has now been discredited is 13...Kg6

A) 14.fxg7! Bxg7 15.Rxe6+ Bf6 16.g4 Qd5 17.Nh3 Kf7 18.Nf4 Qc5 19.Qf3

A1) I analyzed the unbooked 19...Raf8 20.Rxf6+ Kxf6 21.Nd3+ Kg7 22.Bh6+ Kg8 23.Bxf8 Qxf8 24.Qd5+ Qf7 25.Nf4! (threatening Qg5+) 25...Qxd5 26.Nxd5

Diagram b
Analysis position after 26. Nxd5

Black has trouble because he has only one piece active.

A1a) 26...Kf7 27.Nxc7 Nb4 (27...Rg8 28.h3 h5 29.f3 does not help Black) 28.c3 Nc2 29.Rd1 d3 30.b3 and White's extra pawn should count for something;

A1b) 26...Ne5 27.Nxc7 (27.h3 c6=) 27...Nxg4 28.Rd1 Ne5 29.f4 Nc6 30.Nb5 and White will emerge a pawn to the good, and with the initiative besides;

A2) 19...Rhf8 20.Qe4 (20.b4?! Nxb4 21.Qe4 Kg8 22.Nh5 wins for White according to Lepeshkin, whose opinion is cited in ECO-3. But 22...Qd5! and Black holds the fort, with advantage) 20...Kg8 21.Nh5 Be5 22.f4 is unclear, according to Zagarovsky in Romantic Chess Openings. But Black's game is decidedly unenviable after 22...Bg7 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.f5;

B) Soltis in his Winning with the Guioco Piano and the Max Lange Attack, Chess Digest 1992, recommends 14.Nxe6 gxf6 (14...Re8 is also playable: 15.Nf4+ Kf7 16.Rxe8 Kxe8 17.fxg7 Bxg7 and it difficult to see any advantage for White) 15.g4 (15.Nxc7 Bb4 16.Bd2 Bxd2 17.Qxd2 Rad8 18.Ne6 Rd6 19.Nf4+ Kf7 favors Black, according to Keres.) 15...Qa5 16.Bf4 and here Soltis likes White, but 16...Bd6 17.Qf3 Rae8 18.Re2 Re7 19.Rae1 Rhe8 was excellent for Black in Holzhausen-Em. Lasker, 1908.


14.Nxe6 Re8 15.fxg7 Bxg7 16.Nxc7 Rxe1+ 17.Qxe1 Be5 18.Nd5 Kf7 is good for Black.


14...Qxg4+? 15.Qxg4 Bxg4 16.f7#;

14...Qxf6? 15.Rxe6 Qd8 16.Qf3 Qd7 17.Re7!! and White won in Saemisch-Reiman, Bremen 1927;

14...Qd5!? is universally considered to be a fatal mistake, but I think it deserves to be taken more seriously:

A) 15.Nxe6 Rc8. Simple chess. (15...Ne5? 16.f7+ Kxf7 17.Ng5+ Kg8 18.Rxe5! Qxe5 19.Qf3 and Black's queen was fatally overworked in Denker-Adams, New York 1940)

A1) 16.fxg7 Bxg7 17.Nf4! (17.Nxg7 Kxg7 18.Bf4 Rhf8 19.Qd2 Kh8 unclear chances in view the strange pawn situation, but Black's game does not look worse; 17.Bf4 Be5 18.Bxe5 Nxe5 19.Nf4 Qd6 20.g5 Rf8) 17...Qf7 (this position can also arise if White inverts the order of his 16th and 17th moves) 18.Re4! Re8 (relatively worse is 18...Rd8 19.Ne6 Qg6 20.f3! Re8 21.Qe2) 19.Qe2 Rxe4 20.Qxe4 Be5 Black works to unbottle his kingside, but he still has some problems to overcome. For example, 21.a4 intending Ra3. White has some advantage.;

A2) 16.Bf4 gxf6 17.Nxc7 Qd7 18.Qe2 Ne5 19.Bxe5 (19.g5 Qc6! with a big advantage for Black) 19...fxe5 20.Qxc4+ Qf7 21.Qxf7+ Kxf7 22.Nd5 Rg8 and Black is better because of his active rooks;

B) Keres advocated 15.Rxe6 gxf6 16.Rxf6

B1) My idea is 16...Ne5! 17.f4 (17.Ne6 Bg7! 18.Nxc7 Qd8 19.Nxa8 Bxf6 is excellent for Black) 17...Bc5 18.Be3 Nd3!! with a fantastic game for Black;

B2) Keres considered only 16...Bg7 17.Rf5 Qd7 18.Qe2 d3 19.Qe4! Nd4 20.Rf7 Ne2+ 21.Kf1 and White wins.


15.fxg7 Bd5! This exchange sacrifice is Rubinstein's concept. (15...Bxg7? 16.Rxe6 Bf6 17.Ne4 Rf8 18.Qf3 Kg7 19.Bg5) 16.gxh8Q+ Kxh8

A) 17.Bf4

Diagram c
Analysis position after 17. Bf4

Koltanowski's idea, recommended by some more recent authors also.

A1) Koltanowski analyzes 17...Bd6 18.Bxd6 cxd6 19.f4 Rf8 20.Rf1 h6 21.Nh3 Be6 22.f5 Bxf5 23.Nf4 Qg7 (23...Qxg4+? 24.Qxg4 Bxg4 25.Ng6+) 24.h3 d3 25.c3 Ne5 26.Kh2 Bxg4 27.hxg4 Nxg4+ 28.Kh3 Ne3 29.Ng6+ Qxg6 30.Rxf8+ Kg7 31.Qf3 with a win for White;

A2) 17...Bc5 18.Be5+ Kg8 19.Nh3 d3 20.cxd3 cxd3 21.Nf4 Qf7 22.Qxd3 Rd8 (22...Nxe5 23.Qxd5 Qxd5 24.Nxd5 Nf3+ 25.Kg2 Nxe1+ 26.Rxe1 and White has an extra pawn, and a protected passed one at that) 23.Qf5 Qxf5 (23...Qe7 24.Bf6 and Koltanowski won in a simul) 24.gxf5 and Black is without adequate compensation, for example 24...Bf3 25.Bc3 Rf8 26.Ne6 Rxf5 27.Nxc5 Rxc5 28.Re3 Smith and Hall.;

A3) Correct, in my view, is 17...Bg7! a move not considered by Koltanowski or by authors who have followed him. Black seeks queenside play, avoids exchanges, and secures his king. He also battens down the square e5.

A3a) 18.a3 Rf8 19.Nh3 (19.Qd2? h6) 19...Bh6! 20.Be5+ Nxe5 21.Rxe5 Bf3 22.Qxd4 Bg7 and Black certainly is no worse;

A3b) 18.c3 Rf8 19.Nh3 Be6 20.f3 dxc3 and Black stands very well indeed;

A3c) 18.h4 Rf8 19.Qd2 h6 20.h5 (20.Bxc7 hxg5 21.Qxg5 Qxg5 22.hxg5 d3 favors Black) 20...Qf6 21.Nh3 Qh4 is great for Black;

A3d) 18.f3 Nb4

A3d1) 19.Rc1 Rf8 20.Nh3 c3 21.b3 (21.bxc3 Nxa2 22.Ra1 Nxc3 also favors Black) 21...d3 and Black is much better;

A3d2) 19.Ne4 d3;

B) 17.Nh3 Bd6 18.Nf4 (18.Bf4 Rf8 19.Bxd6 cxd6! 20.f4 Qh6 21.Ng5 Rxf4 22.Re8+ Kg7 with advantage to Black, according to Ken Smith and John Hall in Max Lange Attack and the Anti-Max Lange)

B1) 18...Qh6 19.Nh5 Qg6 20.Bf4 (Keres considered 20.Nf4! Qh6 21.Nh5 Qg6 22.Nf4! with a draw, to be best) 20...Rf8 (20...Rg8 21.Bg3 with advantage to White) 21.Bg3 (21.Bxd6 cxd6 22.Ng3 Rf4 with more than enough for the exchange, according to Keres) 21...Bf3 and Black will continue with ...Qxg4 and a good game. Keres.;

B2) 18...Qf7! 19.Nxd5 Qxd5 20.f4 (20.Qe2 d3 21.Qe6 d2!; 20.c3 Rf8 and Black, threatening ...Bxh2+, has the advantage. Keres.) 20...Bc5;

B3) 18...Bxf4 19.Bxf4 Rf8 20.Bg3! (20.Be5+ Nxe5 21.Rxe5 Rf4 favored Black in a Keres postal game) 20...Bf3 21.Qd2 Bxg4 22.c3 d3 23.Re3 and according to Keres, Black has insufficient compensation for the exchange.

15...gxf6 16.Qf3

16.f4 Nd8 17.Qe2 d3 (17...Nxe6? 18.Qxe6+ Kg7 19.Qd7+ Kg8 20.Qd5+ Kg7 21.f5 Qe8 22.Ne6+ Kg8 23.Nxf8+ Kxf8 24.Bh6+ Ke7 25.Re1#) 18.cxd3 cxd3 19.Qe3 Bc5 20.Qxc5 Nxe6 21.Qd5 fxg5 22.f5 Qf6 favors Black, according to Smith and Hall.


Keres attributes this move to Tartakover.

16...Be7 17.h4 Ne5 18.Rxe5! fxe5 19.Qd5+ and White is winning;

16...Ne5 17.Rxe5 fxe5 18.Qd5+ Kg7 19.Ne6+ Kg8 20.Nd8+ Kg7 21.Qxe5+ Kg8 22.Qd5+ Kg7 23.Ne6+ Kg8 24.Nxc7+ and White again is winning.


Baffo regarded this as an innovation, though it is one that I had spent some time analyzing before our game ever began.

17.h4 h5 18.Bf4 hxg4 looks good for Black;

17.Ne4 Be7 18.Bg5 Raf8 19.h4 h5 (Keres' queen sacrifice 19...fxg5 20.Rxg6+ hxg6 look very promising for Black in view of White's debilitated kingside) 20.Ng3 hxg4 21.Nf5+ Boeze-Hemmerling, postal 1961. And now, 21...Kh7! favors Black.

17...Bd6 18.Bxd6 cxd6 19.Nh3 Rhf8 20.Nf4

Diagram d
Position after 20. Nf4

This should have been the critical position of the game.


I did not rise to the occasion, playing this move on general principles without much calculation.

Highly dubious is 20...Qxc2 21.Re2 Qa4 22.Ne6+ Kh8 23.Nxf8 Rxf8 24.Re6 f5 25.Qf4;

The correct idea is 20...Qf7! and now:

A) 21.Qe2 c3 (21...Rae8 22.Qxc4 Ne5 23.Qd5 is quite good for White) 22.Nh5+ Kh8 23.bxc3 Rg8! (23...dxc3 24.Rxf6 Qd5 25.Rd1 Qe5 26.Qxe5 Nxe5 27.h3) 24.Nxf6 (Too passive is 24.Ng3 dxc3 25.Rxd6 Rae8 26.Qd1 Ne5) 24...Rg6 25.Re8+ Rxe8 26.Qxe8+ Qxe8 27.Nxe8 Rxg4+ 28.Kf1 dxc3 29.Nxd6 b6 with a slight advantage to Black in the ending;

B) 21.Nh5+ Kh8

B1) 22.Rxf6! Qe7 23.g5 (23.Qf5 Rxf6 24.Qxf6+ Qxf6 25.Nxf6 Rf8 26.g5 Kg7 27.Rd1 h6 transposes)

B1a) 23...Ne5 24.Qe4 and White has much the better game;

B1b) 23...Rg8 24.h4 Raf8 25.Qd5 Qe2 26.Qf5 Qe7 27.b3 and White is better;

B1c) 23...Nb4?! 24.Qf5 d3 25.cxd3 Nxd3 26.b3 With Black's queenside pawns no longer a threat, White is much better.;

B1d) 23...Rxf6!

B1d1) 24.Qxf6+ Qxf6 25.Nxf6 Kg7 26.Rd1 h6

B1d11) Weak is 27.f4 hxg5 28.fxg5 Kg6 29.h4 (29.Ne4 d5 30.Nc5 Re8) 29...Rh8 and the h-pawn is lost;

B1d12) 27.h4 hxg5 28.hxg5 Kg6 29.f4 Kf5 30.Nd5 (30.Rf1 Nb4) 30...Ke4

Diagram e
Analysis position after 30...Ke4

Black's active king and d-pawn are sufficient to balance White's kingside pawns. For example 31.Nc7 Rg8 32.Rf1 d3 33.cxd3+ cxd3;

B1d2) 24.Nxf6 24...Rf8 25.Qd5 Qe5 26.h4 (26.Qxe5 dxe5 also favors Black, based on his better pawns) 26...Qxd5 27.Nxd5 Rf5 28.Nf6 Nb4 is good for Black;

B2) 22.Rxd6 f5 23.g5 Qe7 24.Qf4 Rg8 (24...Rae8? 25.Nf6 Qe5 26.Rd7; 24...Qe4 25.g6 Rg8 26.Qg5; 24...Rad8? 25.Rxd8 Qxd8 26.g6!) 25.Rf6 Rxg5+ 26.Qxg5 Rg8 27.Qxg8+ Kxg8 28.Rxf5 d3! 29.cxd3 (29.Nf6+ Kg7) 29...cxd3

Diagram f
Analysis position after 29...cxd3

Here Black's queen, in combination with her faithful knight and the ambitious d-pawn, are a match for White's rooks.

B2a) 30.Rd1 Nd4 31.Rd5 (31.Nf6+? Kh8) 31...Qe2;

B2b) 30.Kg2 Nd4;

B2c) 30.Nf6+ Kg7.


The knight, having established himself on a very advantageous post, inexplicably retreats.

Insufficient for any advantage is 21.Rxd6 Qe5 22.Ne6+ Kh8 23.Rxc6 bxc6 24.Nxf8 Rxf8 25.Qxc6 d3 26.cxd3 Qxb2 27.Re1 cxd3 28.Re8 (28.Qd7 Qc2 29.Qd6 Kg7 30.Re7+ Rf7) 28...Qb1+ 29.Kg2 Rxe8 30.Qxe8+ Kg7;

But White is significantly better after 21.Re4! Rae8 22.Ne6+ Rxe6 23.Rxe6 Ne5

Diagram g
Analysis position after 23...Ne5

For a long time I hoped that Black had compensation for the exchange here, but I don't think he does.

A) 24.Re7+! Kh8 25.Qh3 Rf7 26.Rxf7 Nxf7

A1) 27.Re1 Ne5 28.f3 (28.Qg3 Qd2; 28.Re4 f5 29.f4 Qg6) 28...Qd2;

A2) 27.Rd1 Qf4 28.Qh5 Ne5 29.Qf5 (29.Qe8+ Kg7 30.Qe7+ Kg6 31.h3 Nxg4 32.Qe8+ Kh6 33.Qf8+ Kh5 34.Qf7+ Kh6 35.Qf8+ Kh5 with a perpetual) 29...Qxf5 30.gxf5 d3 31.cxd3 Nxd3 32.Kf1

Diagram h
Analysis position after 32. Kf1

The ending is not entirely clear to me, but I doubt that Black's knight and pawns are a match for White's rook. Black's king is much too remote.

B) Much less clear is 24.Qxb7+ Kh8 25.Re7 (25.Qg2 f5; 25.h3 Nxg4; 25.f3 Nxg4) 25...Qh4! 26.Re1! (26.Qg2 Rg8!; 26.f3 f5) 26...f5.

21...Qh4 22.Rxd6

22.Nf4 Ne5 23.Qxb7+ Kh8 24.Qg2 f5! with a strong attack.

22...Rad8 23.Rxd8 Rxd8 24.Rd1

24.Nf4 Ne5 25.Qg2 Rd7 and Black preserves an advantage.


Worse is 24...Kg8 25.Nf4 Ne5 26.Qg2.


25.Nf4 Ne5 26.Qg2 f5! with a strong attack.

25...fxg5 26.Qf6+ Kg8 27.Qxg5+ Qxg5+ 28.Nxg5

Diagram i
Position after 28. Nxg5

I thought I had some advantage here based on my mobile queenside pawns. I would appreciate it if anyone can tell me how I should have conducted this ending.


More direct and possibly better is 28...d3 29.cxd3 Rxd3 30.Rxd3 (30.Rc1 b5 31.Ne4 Nd4) 30...cxd3 31.Ne4 Nd4 and White's king has a hard time approaching the d-pawn, while in the mean time, Black can bring up his own king to threaten White's knight.

29.Ne4 Kf7 30.Rd2 Kg6

30...Ke6 31.Kg2 b5 32.f4 Kf5 33.Kf3 and Black makes no progress.

31.Kg2 b5 32.f3 b4 33.f4 Ra5 34.Kf3

This move, revealing the ingenious point of White's defense, came as a bad surprise.


Played with the draw offer. White's rook and knight cooperate extremely well against Black's king.

34...Rxa2 35.Rg2+

A) 35...Kh6 36.Nf6 Rxb2 (36...Ra5 37.Ng8+ Kh5 38.Nf6+ draws, or White can try for more with 38. Rg7.) 37.Ng8+ Kh5 38.Rg5+ Kh4 39.Nf6 and White soon mates;

B) 35...Kf5 36.Nd6+ Ke6 37.Nxc4


Copyright © 1999 by Mark F. Morss

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