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Weekly chess column

Walter Browne, who has won six US Chess championships has just authored a 460-page “Odyssey” containing 101 of his finest games and quite a bit of history of chess. Patrick Wolff gives it very high praise. It is titled “The Stress of Chess . . . and its Infinite Finesse” (New in Chess). Browne is one of the most intense players imaginable. Constantly in time trouble, he showed it with wild contortions that often created vicarious anxiety and a loss for his opponents.

The game today is brilliant: Yasser Seirawan (White) against Browne (Black), played in 1979, an English Opening in which Seirawan performed with abandonment and was punished in an evergreen game. Seirawan chose to attack with his king’s knight on move 5 and Browne got equality by forcing it back. The star play of this game was on move 10, in which Seirawan elected to move his king toward the center in order to attack on the king’s file, a dubious choice for the four-time US champ. Browne showed he is an untimid attacking player and that Seirawan should have championed a more conventional opening. 

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a) More than 30 years ago, the theory of this opening was still being developed. It was games like this one that demonstrated the strength of this setup for Black, and White generally does not allow this setup any more in top grandmaster games. Black has already equalized.

b) Typical Seirawan: He thinks he has the advantage and wants to punish Black along the e-file! Still, even after 10.Be2 or 10.Ne2 Black is at least equal, and the text is not necessarily bad for White.

c) Black’s king is perfectly safe here, and this is why the plan with Re1 lacks punch.

d) Rerouting the knight to e2 may be the best plan here, as 12.Re1 Qd6! is good for Black.

e) Browne believes that 13.cxb5 was best, and gives the following as his main line: 13…Qc5 14.Nge2 Ne7 15.Nxd5 Bxd4 16.Qb3 Bb7 17.Qc4 Nxd5 18.Qxc5 Bxc5 19.Nxd5 (19.Bxf5 Nf4 20.Ne4 Bxe4 is satisfactory for Black after 21.fxe4 Nxg2 or 21.Bxe4 d5 followed by 22…Nxg2) 19…Bxd5 20.Bxf5 a6 21.bxa6 Rxa6 and Black’s activity coupled with White’s disorganized pieces at least compensates for White’s extra pawn.

f) Necessary was 14.Nxd4 cxd3 15.Nxf5 Bxc3+ 16.bxc3 (16.Kxc3?? Qc5+ will end badly for White) 16…Qe5 17.Ne3 Nf6 with a wildly unclear position.

g) Seirawan’s optimism leads to game suicide. Necessary was either 15.b3 Ba6!? or 15.Qa4 Rb8, and in both cases Black has the initiative but both sides have their chances.

h) This allows a brilliant finish. White could still fight to survive with either 16.b3 or 16.Na4, although in both cases Black is certainly for choice. (After 16.Na4 Browne gives 16…Qxc4+! 17. Kxc4 Ba6+ 18.Kc3 Bxe2 and White’s best is to allow a losing endgame with 19.Qxd4 Bxd4+ 20.Kxd4 Rb4+ 21.Ke3 Bxf3.

i) Forced, since 18.Kc5 d6# is checkmate.

j) White’s king will soon be eviscerated. (Have fun working it out for yourself or feeding it into a computer!)

Seirawan – Browne

Masters Open (Berkeley, CA) 1979

English Opening

 (Annotations based on those by Browne in “The Stress of Chess”)

 

Seirawan Browne

Seirawan Browne

White Black

White Black

1. c4 e5

10. Kd2!? (b) Nd4

2. Nc3 Nc6

11. Bd3 Kd8! (c)

3. Nf3 f5

12. Ng1! (d) b5!

4. d4 e4

13. Nge2?! (e) bxc4

5. Ng5 h6!

14. Bxc4? (f) Qc5

6. Nh3 g5! (a)

15. Kd3?? (g) Rb8

7. f3 exf3

16. Be3? (h) Qxc4+!!

8. exf3 Bg7

17. Kxc4 Ba6+

9. d5 Qe7+!

18. Nb5 (i) Nxb5 (j) 0-1

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