In August of 1976 I ventured up to rural Storrs, Connectictut to the U Conn campus for the US Junior Open along with fellow IM-to-be Steve Odendahl. This event had New England juniors Jim Rizzitano, Charlie Hertan, and NY hopeful Eric Moskow. A hurricane swept through Storrs during the event with high winds and blackouts. We also had the joy of random acts of participant “playfulness” damaged the Dean’s car, resulting in the event getting banned from Storrs in the future for life. Readers who participated are welcome to comment further! C’est la vie.
James Rizzitano (1868) - Mark Ginsburg (2095)
US Junior Open Storrs, CT 1976. Round 6. 40/90.
Sicilian Smith-Morra Declined, transposing to 2. c3.
Of course Jim Rizzitano, a famous New England IM, is well known to the chess world. He entered the work-force after making IM (as did I) and recently he made a Caissic comeback and authored some books, Understanding Your Chess and How to Beat 1. d4, as well. Watch this space for another game I played against a New England IM-to-be, Charlie Hertan, in this event.
1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 Nf6?! One should be brave and accept this gambit.
4. e5 Nd5 5. cxd4 d6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Bc4 e6 It doesn’t make too much sense to shut in the bishop on c8. 7…Nb6 is stronger theoretically. Then, 8. Bb5 Bd7 (or 8…dxe5 9. Nxe5 Bd7) leads to positions where black should be able to equalize with careful play. One recent example is 8…dxe5 9. Nxe5 Bd7 10. Qb3 e6 11. Be3 Bb4+ 12. Nc3 Bxc3+ 13. bxc3 Nxe5 14. dxe5 Bxb5 15. Qxb5+ Qd7 16. Rb1 Qxb5 17. Rxb5 Kd7! 18. O-O (18. Ke2!?) 18…Kc8! (A very creative defensive resource, this sudden king run!) 19. Rfb1 Rd8 20. Bxb6 axb6 21. Rxb6 Rd7 22. R6b2 1/2-1/2, E. Sevillano - N. DeFirmian, World Open Philadelphia 2004. Black alertly uses his rook on the original square of a8 to gain play. A sample continuation would be 22…Rc7 23. Rc2 Ra5! 24. f4 g5! 25. g3 gxf4 26. gxf4 Rac5 27. Rb3 Rc4 with a level game.
8. Qe2 Be7 9. Nc3 dxe5 10. dxe5 Nxc3 11. bxc3 At the time, I thought splitting white’s queenside pawns means I have a good game. Of course, theory tells us white’s activity gives him a plus here. The only thing working in black’s favor is that a white misstep and inappropriate trades land him in a bad and possibly losing ending.
11…O-O 12. O-O b6 13. Qe4 Bb7 14. Bd3 g6 15. Bh6 Re8
16. Rfe1 Theoretical Novelty! White is better. 16. Rad1 Qc7 17. Qf4 is also good although 17…Rad8 18. Rfe1 Rd5 19. Be4 Rxd1 20. Rxd1 Rd8 21. Rxd8+ Nxd8 22. Nxb7 Nxb7 23. Qa4! Bf8 Barle-Jansa, Sombor 1976, and black salvaged a draw.
In a strange coincidence, fellow New Englander Patrick Wolff had this position as black in a very important game in the US Championship 1992. Boris Men was white. Patrick played into this risky line with 16.Rad1 Qc7 17. Qf4 Rad8 and Men continued witih 18.Be4! (this will transpose, with fewer moves, to the Barle-Jansa game) 18…Rxd1 19. Rxd1 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ Nxd8 21. Bxb7 Nxb7 22. Qa4! (the critical move as in the Barle game). Now black is in a very bad way after Wolff's weak 22…Qd8? indirectly protecting the a-pawn for the moment by eyeing white’s back rank. 22...Bf8! was correct, with good chances to hold, as in the Barle game. Let’s look at this position after Wolff's miscue:
Position after 22…Qd8, Men-Wolff US Champ. 1992 (Analysis)
Men immediately went quite wrong with the inexplicable and very weak 23. Nd4? Na5!, Wolff equalized, and went on to win the game and the event! In any successful tournament, the winner can always look back and point to some combination of good moves and good fortune making up for not-so-good moves. The natural move 23. h4!, leaving the knight on f3, gives white a big plus. Black has a problem with his a-pawn, and, for example, 23…Na5 (23…a5 24. Be3 Nc5 25. Qb5 with an obvious edge) 24. Ng5! (24. Bg5! is also good, for example 24…Bxg5 25. Nxg5 and white has a large advantage) 24…Qb8 25. g3!? preparing Ng5-e4. 25. Qf4!? f6 26. Nf3 is also very good. White is clearly better in all lines. This is important theory for 2. c3 fans.
In addition the mysterious 16. Qe3!? was successful for white in two outings, 16…Bc5 17. Qe2 Qc7 18. Rfe1, Nunn-Pritchett, Decin 1975, and 16…Qd5 17. Rad1 Qc5 18. Qf4, Markun-Sale, Bled 1995.
16… Na5 17. Qe2 Possible is 17. Qe3 Qc7 18.Bg5 Qxc3 19. Bxe7 Rxe7 20. Qg5 Rd7 21. Bb5 Rdd8 holding (not 21…Rd5 ?? 22. Qh6 mating). But there is room to explore in this gambit line: white has compensation after, e.g., 20. Rac1!? Qb2 21. Qf4 where black should hurry with 21…Bxf3!
17… Rc8 18. Bb5! Bc6 18…Nc6 19. a4 is not fun for black.
19. c4? Much stronger is 19. Nd4! Bxb5 20. Nxb5 Rc5 21. Rad1 Qb8 22. Nd6! Bxd6 23. exd6 Nc4 24. d7 Rd8 25. Rd4 with a clear edge to white.
19… Qc7 20. Rad1 Qb7 21. Nd4 Red8 22. Nxc6 Nxc6 23. Rxd8+ Black survives the tactical blow 23. c5 Nd4 24. Rxd4 Rxd4 25. Ba6 Qc6 26. Bxc8 Qxc8 27. cxb6 axb6. He is also OK after 23. Qf3 Na5 24. Qxb7 Nxb7 25. Ba6 Rxd1 26. Rxd1 Rc7.
23…Rxd8 24. Qe4 Na5 25. Qg4 No better is 25. Qf4 a6 26. Ba4 Qc7 27. Rc1 Qc5 and black is slightly better.
25… a6 26. Ba4 Qc7 27. Re4 Rc8 28. Bb3 b5! Now black is starting to assert himself and gains a powerful passed pawn thanks to white’s back rank problems. White rapidly goes downhill.
29. Bd2 29. Qe2 bxc4 30. Bc2 Qc5 is also good for black.
29… bxc4 30. Ba4 c3 31. Bc1 Qb6 32. Bc2 Qb5 33. Qf3 Qd5 34. a4 Nb3 35. Bxb3 Qxb3 36. Qd3 Rd8 37. Rd4 Rxd4 38. Qxd4 Qc2 39. Qe3 Qd1+
Emulating “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, I would lose in the next round to Sweeney (2186), ruining my tournament.
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