With baseball season in full swing, I thought I’d adopt a hardball theme for this month’s article.

Leading the way was this 2020 Absolute Championship effort between IM Robert Rizzo and CCM Ferdinand Burmeister. In what appears to be an ordinary Queen’s Gambit Declined, White appears to have a decent advantage early in the middle game. White attempts a sack with 18.b4 to slip a bishop or rip Black’s kingside. Black is slow to accept to gain a tempo but it is not enough. White uses the cut in Black’s castling position to launch a kingside attack. What follows from Rizzo (from the start with that little edge) is an example of biting in and never letting go. After 23.Qxf7, White recovers the pawn and places a serious mate threat, then tightens the trap with the exchange bag 24.Rxc5. Black’s numerous attempts to counter, including a trick sack from him, narrowly fail.

[pgn] [Event "2020 Absolute Championship (20A01)"] [White "Rizzo, Robert (2346)"] [Black "Burmeister, Ferdinand (2123)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bf4 O-O 6.e3 b6 7.Bd3 c5 8.dxc5 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Bxc5 10.Qe2 a6 11.O-O Bb7 12.Rfd1 Nbd7 13.Ne5 Qc8 14.Nxd7 Nxd7 15.Bd3 Nf6 16.Rac1 Rd8 17.b4 Qc6 18.e4 Bxb4 19.Nd5 Bc5 20.Nxf6+ gxf6 21.Bh6 Kh8 22.Qh5 Rg8 23.Qxf7 e5 24.Rxc5 bxc5 25.Bc4 f5 26.Be6 Rxg2+ 27.Kxg2 Qxe4+ 28.Kf1 Qh1+ 29.Ke2 Qf3+ 30.Ke1 Qe4+ 31.Be3 Qh1+ 32.Kd2 Qg2 33.Qxf5 Qg7 34.Bxc5 h6 35.h4 Re8 36.Rb1 Bg2 37.Rb6 1-0[/pgn]

2015 Golden Knights Final

The 2015 Golden Knights tournament is over. Congratulations to the winner – Gary Adams from Mesa, Arizona. This is Adams’ second Golden Knights championship, having also won the title in 2013. One hundred and twenty-one players competed in a competition consisting of 17 preliminary sections, followed by six semi-final sections, culminating in two final sections. The final notes:

Name Weighted Score Place Price Gary Adams 39.70 $1,484.00 Michael D Buss 37.90 $2,302.50 John Millet 36.15 $3,181.50 John Millett 35.65 4 $60.50 Michael D Buss 35 .15 5 $60.50 Gregory Cross 31.75 6 $60.50 Patrick J Connelly $28.90 7-8 -8 $60.50 Abe L Wilson 27.75 9 $60.50 James R Ellis 27.15 10 $60.50

Sliding to second place is Game 2 of the Electronic Knights 2019 Finals between Tim Corkum and Johnny Owens. In a tense game of maneuvering, Black repeatedly finds creative ways to lose pieces and win what seems like even play. However, white takes advantage of some positional imbalance to isolate black’s c-pawn and win a pawn with 23.Rd6. The endgame is a bit beyond my skill level, but with the moves around 31. …Reb8, I think black is aiming for some sort of minority attacks to break up white’s queen pawns and create weaknesses. This tactic proves successful as the fighters reach a point where neither side can force a decisive advantage.

Besides being an entertaining battle, I include two slightly selfish (and random) notes to this game. First, one of my most loyal readers, and an old friend, asked me several times if I could post a game with an en passant capture, as we have shown several games with opportunities for it in these pages, but never an occasion where the pawn was taken. So Roger here you are! Second, Mr. Owens was my opponent in the first completed game of my postal chess career (back in the 1986 Golden Knights!). If my memory serves me right, I was still an Army ROTC cadet when he was a captain stationed in South Korea during his army career. I was lucky enough to win this thrilling game (which got me addicted to postal chess!) although Mr. Owens’ rating and achievements have far exceeded mine since. Thanks to you two !

[pgn] [Event "2019 Electronic Knights Final (19ENf01)"] [White "Corkum, Tim (2373)"] [Black "Owens, Johnny (2287)"] [Result "1/2-1/2"]1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Be2 c5 8.O-O Qe7 9.Bf4 Qd8 10.Qd3 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Be7 12.Rfd1 O-O 13.Be5 Nd5 14.c4 Bf6 15.Nf3 Bxe5 16.Nxe5 Qc7 17.Qg3 Nb6 18.Rac1 f6 19.Ng4 Qxg3 20.hxg3 Bd7 21.Bf3 Bc6 22.Bxc6 bxc6 23.Rd6 Rfc8 24.Rxe6 Na4 25.b3 Nc5 26.Rd6 Ne4 27.Rd3 Nc5 28.Rd4 a5 29.Ne3 h5 30.Rcd1 Re8 31.Kf1 Reb8 32.Nc2 Na6 33.Rd6 Nb4 34.Nxb4 axb4 35.R1d2 Rc8 36.Ke2 Ra5 37.Kd3 Rg5 38.Kc2 Kf7 39.Kb2 Ra5 40.Rd7+ Kg6 41.Re2 c5 42.Ree7 Rg8 43.f3 Kh6 44.Rd5 Rga8 45.a4 bxa3+ {e.p.} 46.Ka2 Rb8 47.Re2 Rb7 48.Re3 g5 49.Rf5 Kg7 50.Rd5 1/2-1/2[/pgn]

By the way

This month I have been informed of the deaths of several members of our correspondence chess family.

NM D. LaPierre Ballard of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma died on February 12, 2022. Mr. Ballard had a CC rating of 1655 and was an OTB National Chess Master. As noted in his obituary, NM Ballard was the Oklahoma Chess Champion in 1964, 1966 and 1971, as well as the Texas Open Chess Champion in 1968. Mr. Ballard also won a victory over no other as Bobby Fischer during his simultaneous exhibition in Wichita, Kansas.

Mr. James Clancey of Citrus Heights, California recently passed away. He carried a CC rating of 2117 and recently started playing in the 22N08 section of the Golden Knights.

Mr. Delbert Tal Area died in January 2022. He had a CC rating of 1661.

Rounding Third is another play in the Electronic Knights 2019 Finals where John Walton knocks down Gerald Weiner. White designs a sort of Maroczy Bind against Black’s Dragon Sicilian. When White advances on the queenside, he seems to be buying time when Black withdraws his queen to c7 and then sends it back to a5 on the next move. This gives White the “high ground” with space and development advantages. White allows the loss of an exchange with 32.a6 to win a deep passed pawn. While Black’s heavy artillery controls White’s queen wing, White invades the king’s wing. Although this does not lead to checkmate, the resulting exchanges force a clearly won endgame.

[pgn] [Event "2019 Electronic Knights Final (19ENf01)"] [White "Walton, John C. (2340)"] [Black "Weiner, Gerald (2240)"] [Result "1-0"]1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.c4 Nc6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 Rc8 10.Qd2 Nf6 11.f3 a6 12.0-0 0-0 13.Rfd1 Qa5 14.b3 Bd7 15.a4 Rfe8 16.Rab1 Qc7 17.h3 Qa5 18.Nde2 Be6 19.Bd4 Nh5 20.Qe3 Bxd4 21.Rxd4 Qc5 22.Kh2 Bd7 23.Qd2 Bc6 24.b4 Qe5+ 25.Kh1 b6 26.b5 axb5 27.cxb5 Bb7 28.Nd5 Bxd5 29.Rxd5 Qe6 30.a5 Nf6 31.Nf4 Qd7 32.a6 Nxd5 33.Nxd5 Qa7 34.f4 Rc5 35.f5 Kg7 36.Qf4 f6 37.Qg4 g5 38.Nf4 Kh8 39.Ne6 Re5 40.Qh5 Rg8 41.Qf7 g4 42.hxg4 Rxe6 43.fxe6 Qc7 44.Ra1 Ra8 45.Rf1 Rc8 46.Rf5 Qc1+ 47.Kh2 Qh6+ 48.Qh5 Kg7 49.Qxh6+ Kxh6 50.Rf3 Kg5 51.Kg3 h5 52.gxh5 Kh6 53.Kh4 1-0[/pgn]

The homecoming in Game 4 is a hard-fought draw between Patrick Walsh and Lawrence Crittenton. A slugfest ensues early in the midgame, where Black pockets a knight for a fierce attack on White’s king. White could barely fend off the attack to survive and pocket his extra gear but couldn’t escape a draw by triple rep. (I haven’t found the exact path yet, but I’m sure it exists. Can you find it?)

[pgn] [Event "2020 Electronic Knights Section (20EN08)"] [White "Walsh, Patrick (1789)"] [Black "Crittenton, Lawrence (2039)"] [Result "1/2-1/2"]1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 Bb4 8.Nxc4 O-O 9.Kf2 c5 10.e4 Bg6 11.Na2 Nc6 12.Nxb4 Nxb4 13.Qb3 a5 14.dxc5 Nd7 15.Be3 Qe7 16.Qc3 f5 17.Nxa5 fxe4 18.Qxb4 exf3 19.Nxb7 Rab8 20.Ba6 Nxc5 21.Qxc5 fxg2+ 22.Kxg2 Be4+ 23.Kg1 Qf6 24.Rf1 Qxb2 25.Bf2 Rf6 26.h4 Rbf8 27.h5 Bxh1 28.Kxh1 Rxf2 29.Rxf2 Rxf2 30.Qc8 Rf8 31.Qxe6+ Kh8 32.Qe4 Qc1+ 33.Kh2 Qd2+ 34.Kh3 1/2-1/2[/pgn]

Next month, more games!



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