A Cascade of Tactics

A Cascade of Tactics

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Collopy: “This game was played in a serious manner (about an hour each spent on it) - although without clocks.”

David S (2066) – R. Collopy (1722), Friendly match 2012 ECO: E10

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6















A few alternatives:

* 3.d5 Ne5 4.f4!? (4.b3? e6 5.Bb2 Bb4+ 6.Nd2?? [6.Bc3 is better, though Black still stands very well] 6…Ne4 7.Bc1 Qf6, 0-1, Marshall – Torre, offhand game on the SS Antonia in 1925!; 4.Nc3 e6 5.e4 Bb4 6.Qc2 exd5 7.cxd5 0-0 8.Bd2 Re8 9.Be2 c6! 10.dxc6 d5 [there’s nothing wrong with 10…Nxc6] 11.Nf3 d4 and Black has the initiative, Shemeakin – Shilin, Mariupol 2003) 4…Nxc4 5.e4 led to a brilliant game that I highly recommend everyone look at and enjoy: 5…Nb6 6.a4 a5 7.Nc3 c6? 8.Be3 d6 9.Qb3 Nbd7 10.Nf3 cxd5 11.Bb5 dxe4 12.Ng5 d5 13.f5 e6 (13...h6 14.Nxd5 hxg5 [14…Nxd5 15.Nxf7 Kxf7 16.Qxd5+ Ke8 17.Qe6 is, if such a thing is possible, beyond crushing] 15.Bb6 Nxd5 16.Bxd8 and White wins.) 14.fxe6 Bb4 15.Nxf7 Qe7 16.Ng5!? (Getting a bit artsy. There is certainly nothing wrong with 16.exd7+ or 16.Nxh8) 16…Ng4 (16...0-0 17.exd7 Bxd7 18.0-0 Bc6 19.Rxf6 Rxf6 20.Nxd5) 17.Bf4 h6 18.0-0-0 hxg5 19.Rxd5!? (Quite an imagination! However, 19.Nxd5 was stronger) 19…Ngf6? (Probably missing White’s reply. Instead, 19…Qxe6 20.Re5 Qxe5 21.Bxe5 Ngxe5 was necessary) 20.Re5! gxf4 21.exd7+ Bxd7 22.Bxd7+ Nxd7 23.Rxe7+ Bxe7 24.Qxb7 Rb8 25.Qxe4 Nc5 26.Qg6+ Kf8 27.Rf1 Rh6 28.Rxf4+ Kg8 29.Qf7+ Kh8 30.Rf5 (30.Qxe7 Nd3+ 31.Kc2 Nxf4 32.Qe5 Rxb2+) 30...Rf8 31.Qxf8+ Bxf8 32.Rxf8+ Kh7 33.Rf5 Nb3+ 34.Kb1 Rxh2 35.Ka2 Nc1+ 36.Ka3 Rxg2 37.Rh5+ Kg6 38.Rxa5 Nd3 39.Rb5 Rc2 40.Nd5 Rc1 41.a5 Ra1+ 42.Kb3 Kf7 43.Nb4 Nxb4 44.Kxb4 Kf6 45.Rb6+ Kf5 46.a6 Kf4 47.Rg6 Kf5 48.Rxg7 Rxa6 49.Kb5 Ra2 50.b4 Ke6 51.Kb6 Kd6 52.b5 Rb2 53.Rg5 Kd7 54.Kb7 Ra2 55.b6 Kd6 56.Rg1, 1-0, Emory Tate (2464) – Georgi Orlov (2600), Mid America Class Ch. 1995.

Of course, 7…c6? weakens the b6-square. Instead 7…e6! is Orlov’s improvement: 8.dxe6 (8.d6 cxd6 9.Be3 d5! 10.Qd4 Nc4 11.Bxc4 dxc4 12.Qxc4 d5! – Palliser; 8.Nf3 Bb4 9.Bd2?! exd5 10.e5 Ne4) 8…dxe6! (8…fxe6 9.Bd3) 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.Be3 Bb4 (Orlov) when White doesn’t have sufficient compensation for the pawn.

* 3.d5 Ne5 4.e4 e6 5.f4 Ng6 6.Bd3 exd5 7.e5 Ne4 8.cxd5 Qh4+ 9.g3 Bb4+! 10.Bd2















* 3.Nc3 e5 4.d5 Ne7 5.e4 Ng6 6.Be3 Bb4 7.f3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 d6 9.Bd3 0-0 10.Ne2 Nd7 11.Qd2 b6 12.Bg5 f6 13.Be3 Nc5 14.Bxc5 bxc5 15.h4 f5 16.h5 Nf4! 17.Nxf4 exf4 18.Qc2 Qg5 19.0-0-0 fxe4 20.Bxe4 Bf5 21.Rde1 Bxe4 22.Rxe4 Rae8 23.Rhe1 Rxe4 24.Qxe4 Qxh5 25.a4 a5 26.Qe7 Qf7 27.Re4 h6 28.Qxf7+ Rxf7 29.Re8+ Kh7 30.Kd2 Rf5! 31.Kd3 Rg5 32.Re2 Kg6 33.Rb2 Kf5 34.Rb7 Rxg2 35.Rxc7 Rg6 36.Rf7+ Ke5 37.Re7+ Kf6 38.Ra7 h5 39.Rxa5 h4 40.Rb5 Rg2 41.Rb8 Rf2 42.a5 Rxf3+ 43.Kc2 Rf1 44.Kb2 Re1 45.Rd8 Kg5 46.a6 Re7 47.Rxd6 f3 48.Re6 Rf7 49.Re1 f2 50.Rf1 Kg4 51.a7 Rxa7 52.Rxf2 h3 53.Rd2 g5 54.d6 Rd7 55.Kc2 Kg3 56.Rd5 g4, 0-1, Dao Thien Hai (2495) - Silman (2405), Budapest 1994.

3…e6 4.d5!?















A tricky line, though nothing to worry about if you know the theory.

White’s most respected tries after 3…e6 are 4.Nc3 Bb4 (transposing to a Nimzo-Indian), 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4, and 4.g3 when 4…Bb4+ 5.Nc3 is a Nimzo-Indian, and 5.Bd2 is a Bogo-Indian. Also critical after 4.g3 is 4…d5, entering a Catalan. Finally, 4.a3!? (stopping …Bb4) is a serious try. Bologan meets this with 4…g6 5.Nc3 d6. The idea is that the position is a normal KID except that White has a2-a3 in for free and Black has …e7-e6 in for free and he’s played an early …Nc6.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 e6 4.a3 g6 5.Nc3 d6 6.e4 (6.d5 Nb8 7.e4 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Qc2 Nbd7 11.Rb1 exd5 12.cxd5 Nc5 13.Nd2 a5 14.b4 axb4 15.axb4 Ncxe4 16.Ndxe4 Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Rxe4 18.Qxe4 Bf5 19.Qc4 Bxb1 20.Bg5 Qxg5 21.Rxb1 Qd2 22.Rd1 Qb2 23.b5 Ra2 24.Kf1 Bc3 25.Qd3 Ba5 26.g3 Bb6 27.h4 Qf6 28.f4 Qb2 29.Rb1 Qf6 30.Rd1 Bc5 31.Qe4 Ra3 32.Rd3 Qa1+ 33.Kg2 Ra2 34.Kh3 Qb2, 0-1, An. Donchenko (2378) – L. Kritz (2618) [A15], Biel 2010; 6.g3 Bg7 7.Bg2 0-0 8.0-0 Re8 9.h3 a6 10.Be3 Rb8 11.Rc1 Bd7 12.b4 b5 13.cxb5 axb5 14.Nd2 Ne7 15.Nb3 h6 16.Bd2 Nfd5 17.e4 Nb6 18.Na5 Nc6 19.Nxb5 Nxa5 20.bxa5 Bxb5 21.axb6 Rxb6 22.Ba5 Ra6 23.Bxc7 Qd7 24.Re1 Rc8 25.Qb3 Bxd4 26.a4 Rxa4 27.Bxd6 Rxc1 28.Rxc1 Qxd6 29.Qxb5 Bxf2+ 30.Kh1 Ra2 31.e5 Qa3 32.Rf1 Qxg3 33.Qc4 Rd2 34.Qc1 Re2 35.Qd1 Qxe5, 0-1, J. Bonin (2405) – J. Benjamin (2575) [E10], Saratoga 2000.) 6…Bg7 7.h3 (7.Be2 0-0 8.Be3 Ng4 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bc1 e5 11.d5 Nd4 12.Nxd4 exd4 13.Nb5 f5 14.0-0 d3 15.Bxg4 fxg4 16.Qxd3 Bd7 17.Be3 Bxb2 18.Rab1 Be5 19.Nxa7 Rxa7 20.Bxa7 b6 21.Rfd1 Qa8? [21...Bxh2+! 22.Kxh2 Qh4+ 23.Kg1 Qxf2+ 24.Kh1 Qh4+ 25.Kg1 g3 wins] 22.Bxb6 cxb6 23.Rxb6 Qd8 24.Qe3 Bf4 25.Qd4 Be5 26.Qe3 Bf4 27.Qd4 Be5, 1/2-1/2, M. Neubauer (2446) – F. Caruana (2620) [E10], Mitropa Cup 2008.) 7…0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Be3 e5 10.d5 Nd4 11.Nxd4 exd4 12.Bxd4 Nxe4 13.Bxg7 Re8 14.Be2 Kxg7 15.Qd4+ Qf6 16.Qxf6+ Kxf6 17.Nxe4+ Rxe4 18.f3 Re7 19.Kf2 Bf5 20.Rhd1 Rae8 21.Bf1 Re3 22.Rd2 R8e7 23.Rad1 g5 24.Re2 Rb3 25.Rxe7 Kxe7 26.Rd2 h5 27.g4 hxg4 28.hxg4 Bg6 29.Be2 Kf6 30.Bd1 Rd3 31.Ke2 Rxd2+ 32.Kxd2 Ke5 33.Ke3 Bb1 34.b4 Ba2 35.Be2 b5 36.c5 Bc4 37.cxd6 cxd6 38.Bd1 Bxd5, 0-1, M. Ragger (2544) – F. Caruana (2649) [E10], Rogaska Slatina 2009.

4…exd5 5.cxd5 Ne7?

Black didn’t know the line. He should play 5…Bb4+! 6.Nc3 (6.Bd2 Nxd5) 6…Ne7 7.e4! Nxe4! 8.Qd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Nf6 10.d6 (other moves have also been tried, but White failed to get enough compensation) 10…cxd6 11.Bd3 d5 12.Bg5 Nc6 13.Qh4 Qe7+ 14.Kf1 d6 15.Re1 Be6 and White doesn’t have enough compensation for the two sacrificed pawns, Fedorowicz – Yermolinsky, Marshall Rapid 1995.

6.Nc3 Ng6 7.e4

Collopy: “A strong space-gaining move.”

7…Bc5 8.e5!















Going for broke, which is good for the audience (us!). A more restrained way to play was 8.Bd3 (just defending his center and intending to castle) but black’s still in the hunt after 8…0-0 9.0-0 d6.

8…Ng4 9.Ne4















Collopy: “Keeping pressure on f2, although giving the check on b4 may be stronger.”

The game is chaotic and development (and King safety) means a lot in such situations. With that in mind, 9…Bb4+ 10.Bd2 Bxd2+ 11.Qxd2 0-0 (the pawn isn’t going away, so Black gets his King to a safe place before taking it) 12.Be2 N4xe5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 and now 14.d6 c6 or 14.f4 Ng6 are possible, when White probably has enough compensation for the lost pawn (space and more active pieces), but not more than that.

Black’s 9…Bb6 is more combative, but it also gives White a large choice of replies, including one particularly scary one. Perhaps Black can survive after 9…Bb6, but his defensive task is extremely arduous. 


White has a lot of choices, but his 10.Bg5 continues in the classic, “I’m going to kill you now or die trying” mindset that he started with 4.d5 and 8.e5. Of course, such a philosophy leaves you open to being hoisted by your own petard.

10…f6 11.exf6 gxf6 12.h3















A VERY interesting, razor sharp position! Black’s balancing on the edge of a precipice: 

1) 12…Bxf2+ 13.Nxf2 (13.Kd2! is probably even stronger) 13…Nxf2 14.Kxf2 fxg5 15.d6 0-0 16.Qd4 Rf4 17.Bc4+ Kf8 18.Qd5 Kg7 19.Rae1 cxd6 20.Kg3! looks really scary for Black, but he has lots of moves here and might be able to find a way to hang on.

2) 12…Qe7 13.Qe2 Bxf2+ 14.Nxf2 (14.Kd2! fxg5 15.hxg4 Bb6 has some potential for White. For example, 16.d6 cxd6 17.Qb5 and black’s defense isn’t easy.) 14…Nxf2 15.Qxe7+ Kxe7 16.Bxf6+ Kxf6 17.Kxf2 c5 and black’s alive and kicking.

3) At first, 12…Nxf2 13.Nxf6+ Kf7 seemed okay for Black, but a deeper look unearthed 14.Bc4 (14.Ne5+ Nxe5 15.Qh5+ Ng6 16.Qf3 Ne5! 17.Qf5 [17.Qh5+ Ng6, =] 17…d6 18.Nd7+ Kg8 and now 19.Bxd8 Bxd7 is good for Black if it’s good for anyone, while 19.Nf6+ is just a draw) and now Black has two defenses:

3.a) 14…Qe7+ seems like a simple solution, but it turns out that there’s lots of fascinating stuff going on: 15.Qe2 Qxe2+ 16.Kxe2 h6 (16…d6 17.Rhf1 Bf5 18.Rxf2 Bxf2 19.Kxf2 h6 20.g4 Bc8 21.Bd2 Kxf6 22.Bc3+ Ne5 23.Rf1 Re8 24.Ke3 Kg7 25.Nxe5 dxe5 26.Ke4 and white’s Bishops are going to rain down pain on black’s position.) 17.d6+ Kf8 18.Bd2 Nxh1 19.Rxh1 cxd6 20.Bc3 Nf4+ 21.Kd2 and though white’s down an Exchange and a pawn, his pieces are terrifying to behold.

After 14…Qe7+ 15.Qe2 Qxe2+ 16.Kxe2 Nxh1?? loses. Can you see why?















3.b) 14…d6 15.Ne5+!! Nxe5 (15…dxe5 16.d6+ Be6 17.Bxe6+ Kxe6 18.Qb3+ wins) 16.Qh5+ Ng6 17.0-0 and I thought Black was getting killed (17…Nxh3+ 18.Kh2 gives White a winning attack), but then 17…h6! caught my eye and, once again, black’s okay: 18.Bh4 Kg7 19.Bxf2 Rf8 20.Bxb6 axb6 21.Ne4 Nf4 22.Qd1 Qe8 23.Qd4+ Qe5 24.Qe5+ dxe5 25.Rae1 Bd7, =.

So it turns out that black’s (probably) okay with 12…Nxf2. One can spend many days looking at the possibilities after 12.h3, and I’m sure I’ve missed all sorts of things in my hasty analysis.

13.hxg4 O-O

Collopy: “I felt this was a bold attacking move, but on reflection feel it could be somewhat unsound, perhaps better was …d6, followed by …Bxg4 and …0-0-0.”

One would expect you to get butchered after 13…0-0, but other moves also don’t lead you to happy pastures. Personally I would have played 13…Ba5+ so as to force the f3-Knight to move away from the action by 14.Nfd2 (though that’s still grim for Black!). Your real mistake was 12...fxg5.


An attractive but slightly sub-par move. 14.d6! (trapping black’s light-squared Bishop on c8) appeals to me more: 14…Ba5+ 15.Nfd2 and it’s hard to imagine Black surviving. I’m also high on 14.Qd2 hitting g5, stopping …Ba5+, getting ready to leap on the a1-h8 diagonal (Qc3) and preparing 0-0-0.

14…d6 15.Nfxg5!?

Interesting. Other moves:

15.Nexg5 Bxf2+ 16.Kd2 looks great, but 16…Bxg4 17.Nxh7 Ne5 18.Nxf8 Qxf8 suddenly leaves Black with an initiative (White should be better, but it’s scary). I don’t like being under the gun (especially since White was surely killing Black earlier), so perhaps there’s another way for White to play the position.

15.Qc2 Bxg4 16.Nexg5 when White will castle long if allowed, or meet 16…Re8+ with 17.Kf1. Though the position isn’t as good as it was a couple moves ago, it’s still clearly better for White.


15…Rxf2 when White has several possible replies. I kind of like 16.Qb3 Nf4 17.0-0-0 when, with another Rook into play and the King safe, white’s ready to rumble. 


Collopy: “16.Ke2 Bxg4+, and black appears to have a powerful initiative.”

Yes, after 16.Ke2? Bxg4+ 17.Nf3 Bb6 White appears to be lost.


This goes down hard, but I couldn’t find a good defense: 16…Bh4 17.Rxh4 Nxh4 18.Qh1 Bxg4 19.Qxh4 and white’s winning.

17.Qb3 Qa5+ 18.Kc2 cxd5

Collopy: “18...c5 removes the dangers on this line, but also closes lines to my opponent’s king.” 

19.Nxh7 Qc7+

Collopy: “I felt at the time that this was the best way to defend, however I am not so sure now.” 

20.Kb1 Qxh7















Collopy: “I had calculated Rxh7, but not this. 21.Rxh7 Kxh7 and here I think black is probably okay.”

After 21.Rxh7 Kxh7 22.Qxd5 White has a Queen and a pawn vs. a Rook and Bishop, plus White also has a powerful attack and threats all over the place. Black is anything but okay.

21...Qf7 22.Nf6+ Kg7 23.Rh7+ Kxf6 24.g5+ Ke7 25.Rxf7+ Rxf7 26.Bxg6 

Collopy: “As well as being slightly down in material whites pieces are now overwhelming, especially as my rook is tricky to activate.”

26…Rf8 27.Kc2 Bd7 28.Rf1 Bc6 29.Qd2 Bc5 30.Qe2+ Kd7 31.Rf7+ Rxf7 32.Bxf7 Rf8 33.g6 Bd5 34.Bxd5 Rf2 35.Qxf2, 1-0.

~ Lessons From This Game ~

* You live by the sword, you die by the sword. If you can’t swim in a sea of tactics, don’t play tactical openings. 

* Black played a sharp opening and didn’t know the theory. On the other hand, his opponent responded with a sharp, tricky line. Black's 5th move was a mistake and he never recovered.

[ If you would like to have a game analyzed by IM Silman, please send the pgn, along with your comments and questions, to askjeremy@chess.com ]

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