How to checkmate a senior master

This is my highest-rated victim ever. Objectively, I imagine Black’s early piece sac is hogwash, and that if I’d been carrying a 2300+ rating my opponent would have been more engaged and avoided a mistake or two. (Of course then I probably wouldn’t be playing hogwash in the first place.) Nevertheless…

Schulien (2465) – Slater (2050)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Bd3 Bg7 8.Nge2 0-0 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 Re8 11.h3 Nh5 12.Be3 Nd7 13.g4 Ne5

A Benoni sacrifice

 

So Black sacs a piece. White exposes his king a bit to take it. 14.gxh5 Bxh3 15.Ng3 Bg4 My thinking (and presumably his too) was that after 15…Bxf1, Black’s got a little material back but the attack is over. As the game progresses, it appears that the natural looking 15.Ng3 was a mistake; while it seems to shelter the White king a bit, the knight attacks no useful squares and becomes a target itself, also taking away the option of moving the White f-pawn because the knight would then hang. 16.Be2 Qh4 17.Re1 f5

White errs

 

Not sure how exactly Black’s attack might proceed from here against best defense, but White overlooks something and then folds up. 18.Ra3? Nc4 Oops – the Be2 is pinned and White’s f-pawn is overloaded, guarding both e3 and g3. 19.Bxg4 fxg4 20.Nb1 Be5 There’s no rush to take on a3. This is one of those positions in fact where material is delightfully irrelevant. It’s all about spending your moves maximizing threats and the initiative. 21.Nf1 Rf8 22.Qc1 Nxa3 23.Nxa3 Rf3 Threatening to come to h3 and then h1. 24.Nd2 Qh3 Obviously Black wants to keep the king from walking out via f1; White can’t play 25.Nxf3 gxf3 because he’ll be mated on g2. Now Nf1 was forced (to cover h2),  though Black can then load up as he pleases and push …g3. 25.Qd1.

The Knights Errant have probably seen this position 1,000 times

 

 25… Bh2+ 26.Kh1 Bg3+ 27.Kg1 Qh2+ 28.Kf1 Rxf2+ 0-1

 

This is my fourth and final post from the summer of 1987; others this pawn roller, this attack and this exchange sac. I could probably dig out an ugly loss or two from that time frame, but where’s the fun in that? :) 

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4 thoughts on “How to checkmate a senior master

  1. It may have been hogwash, but it was beautiful hogwash.

    R-R3 was rather bizarre, maybe B-KB4 is best? Trying to improve on a senior master’s move hastily during work maybe isn’t the best thing. Although maybe it’s easier because he didn’t have a whole lot of good choices.

    How did you feel and react after the game? Granted, it was 20 years ago, so it’s not like you’d necessarily remember in detail.

  2. Beautiful hogwash, that’s going straight in my tagline!

    I remember it quite distinctly. (Hey, you callin’ me an old geezer?) I got more nervous toward the end when it started to appear that I was actually going to win – got the shakes a bit. This was the first round (accelerated pairings) and my opponent, while clearly aggravated with himself, was very nice and went over the game with me afterwards. I think his biorhythms were off; he played below his standard all weekend and lost his last-round game to an A player.

    Meanwhile, my reward for beating the top seed with black in round one was to play the second seed with black in round two. (He won.)

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