Check Is In The Mail: December 2021

Greetings and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Hopefully this selection of games, all 20 moves or less, brings each of you a little extra holiday cheer. Thanks to all of the participants for playing your part!

In our first game White resurrects an age-old sacrifice to set up a mate-in-one where Black, on the move, has no defense...

[pgn] [Event "2021 Electronic Knights (21EN06)"] [White "Ward, Christopher"] [Black "Montrose, Eric"] [Result "1-0"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bf4 Nf6 4. e3 Be7 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg3 O-O 8. Ne5 Ne4 9. Nd2 Nxg3 10. Bxh7+ Kxh7 11. hxg3+ Kg8 12. Qh5 Nxe5 13. Qh7# 1-0 [/pgn]
White finds a combo in the early middlegame to steal a bishop and strand Black’s king in the center of the board.
[pgn][Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP05)"] [White "Neumann, Elijah (1801)"] [Black "Ramirez, Jose E"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Bxc4 b5 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.a4 c6 8.O-O Nbd7 9.Nbd2 c5 10.axb5 axb5 11.Rxa8 Qxa8 12.Bxb5 cxd4 13.Ne5 Bxg2 14.Nxd7 Nxd7 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Qg4+ e6 17.Qxg2 Qa7 18.Nc4 f6 19.Rd1 1-0 [/pgn]
White sacs a pawn, and quickly regains it, but then falls prey to a bishop sac in return. While White’s last move may have been a blunder, Black’s treachery to reach that position was worthy of recognition.
[pgn][Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP10)"] [White "Caligiuri, Paul"] [Black "Jha, Shiven"] [Result "0-1"] 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Qc2 d6 6.a3 Bc5 7.d4 exd4 8.exd4 Bxd4 9.Qe2+ Be6 10.Ng5 O-O 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Qxe6+ Kh8 13.Qh3 Bxf2+ 14.Kxf2 Ng4+ 15.Kg1 Qf6 16.Bd2 Qf2# 0-1 [/pgn]
Black neglects his king safety early and pays the appropriate price – a pawn advantage for White, with two connected passed pawns and an overwhelming position.
[pgn][Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP11)"] [White "Jablonski, Chase"] [Black "Mahajan, Veer"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Bg6 8.O-O Nd7 9.c4 Nxe5 10.cxd5 Qxd5 11.Bb5+ Nd7 12.Nc3 Qd6 13.Qf3 Ngf6 14.Qxb7 Rb8 15.Qxa7 Be7 16.Rfd1 Qb6 17.Qxb6 Rxb6 18.Nc6 Rb7 19.a4 1-0 [/pgn]
Black brings his queen out too early and castles queenside. Then White invades. Game over.
[pgn][Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP12)"] [White "Harper, Kenneth"] [Black "Kappel, Ray D (1763)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 Nf6 6.Be3 e6 7.O-O O-O-O 8.c4 Qd7 9.Nbd2 Bf5 10.c5 Kb8 11.Bb5 a6 12.Ne5 Qe8 13.Nxc6+ bxc6 14.Bxa6 1-0 [/pgn]
A Budapest Defense. Don’t get to see those very often. (Would love to learn this opening!) In setting it up, Black overlooks a lethal attack by White.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Walter Muir (21W33)"] [White "Heisler, Robert (1978)"] [Black "Will, David (1550)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.e4 Nxe5 5.f4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Ng6 8.Nc3 d6 9.O-O-O Nc6 10.Be2 f5 11.h4 Nxh4 12.Nh3 Ng6 13.Bh5 fxe4 14.Ng5 Nce7 15.Qd4 O-O 16.Bxg6 Rf6 17.Bxh7+ Kf8 18.Bxe4 Ke8 19.Rh8+ 1-0 [/pgn]
David Will returns the favor in this game (albeit to another opponent) singing a familiar song, “How to Punish Black for Not Castling...”
[pgn] [Event "2021 Walter Muir (21W34)"] [White "Will, David (1563)"] [Black "Nunez, Luis (1563)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 Nf6 4.Bb5+ Nbd7 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bxd7+ Qxd7 7.Nf3 b5 8.d3 Bb7 9.O-O Nxd5 10.Ne4 e6 11.Ne5 Qc7 12.Ng5 f6 13.Qh5+ g6 14.Nxg6 Rg8 15.Nxf8+ 1-0 [/pgn]
Black’s conjuring of a kingside attack here is definitely worth a look.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Walter Muir (21W32)"] [White "Segreto, Thomas (1234)"] [Black "May, Gene"] [Result "0-1"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.Qc2 Nf6 7.e3 Nh5 8.Be5 Nd7 9.Be2 Nxe5 10.Bxh5 Ng6 11.Be2 O-O 12.Nf3 Re8 13.O-O Bd6 14.Rfe1 Bg4 15.h3 Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Nh4 17.Bd1 Qg5 18.f4 Bxf4 19.Bg4 Rxe3 20.Rf1 Rg3 0-1 [/pgn]
White scores a quick win by using Black’s slow development to generate a ruthless kingside attack.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP15)"] [White "Grinsteinner, Raymond (1612)"] [Black "Wade, Don (1471)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bxf6 Qxf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.e3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 O-O 9.Bd3 c6 10.O-O b6 11.Ne5 Ba6 12.f4 Qd8 13.f5 exf5 14.Rxf5 Qe7 15.Qf3 dxc4 16.Be4 Bb7 17.Ng4 Qe6 18.Rf6 1-0 [/pgn]
Black outplays White in the opening to win two pieces and secure the W.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP11)"] [White "Yetter, John"] [Black "Jablonski, Chase"] [Result "0-1"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.O-O e6 7.Qe2 Nf6 8.Ng5 O-O 9.b3 Nd4 10.Qd3 a6 11.Ne2 d5 12.exd5 exd5 13.Nxd4 dxc4 14.Qxc4 Qxd4+ 15.Kh1 Qxa1 16.c3 Qxa2 17.Re1 Bd7 8.Qxc5 Qxb3 0-1 [/pgn]
White unleashes a fierce attack, in a Caro-Kan no less, to blast open Black’s position and go on a rampage.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Walter Muir (21W38)"] [White "Vila, Brandon (900)"] [Black "McCaffery, Michael (1170)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Bc4 Ngf6 6.Neg5 e6 7.Qe2 Nb6 8.Ne5 Nxc4 9.Qxc4 Qa5 10.Ngxf7 Rg8 11.O-O Bd7 12.d4 c5 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.Qxe6+ Be7 15.Bg5 Nf6 16.Nd6+ Kd8 17.Nxb7+ 1-0 [/pgn]
White outplays Black early on to dominate the center. Then he uses his c and d pawns as a steamroller to overrun Black’s position.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP15)"] [White "Moskowitz, Bruce (1492)"] [Black "Van Tuyl, Mark (1392)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e4 e5 5.d5 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 Nd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.Qa4+ Bd7 10.Qxc4 Nf6 11.Qxd4 O-O 12.e5 Nh5 13.Bd3 Qe7 14.O-O b6 15.Rfe1 f6 16.d6 cxd6 17.exd6 Qd8 18.Qd5+ Kh8 19.Qxh5 g6 20.Bxg6 1-0 [/pgn]
Black uses a variety of tactics to counterattack and blast open White’s position.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Victor Palciauskas RR (21VP14)"] [White "Picotte, Gordon (1609)"] [Black "Ward, Christopher (1680)"] [Result "0-1"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.Bf4 d5 4.Nb5 Na6 5.e3 c6 6.Nc3 b6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Ne5 c5 10.Nc6 Qe8 11.Bb5 Bd7 12.Nxe7+ Qxe7 13.Bxa6 cxd4 14.Bb7 dxc3 15.bxc3 Rad8 16.Bc7 Ne4 17.Bxd8 Rxd8 18.Qd3 Bxc3+ 19.Ke2 Bxa1 20.Rxa1 Bb5 21.Qxb5 Nc3+ 0-1 [/pgn]
Robert Irons turns a game of chess into a game of Mousetrap by turning White king bishop misplay into a cleverly trapped bishop.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Walter Muir (21W39)"] [White "Pitcher, Clive (1825)"] [Black "Irons, Bob (2007)"] [Result "0-1"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6 3.f4 Nc6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.O-O a6 7.Bc4 b5 8.Bd5 Ra7 9.d3 e6 10.Bb3 d5 11.exd5 exd5 12.Nxd4 Bxd4+ 0-1 [/pgn]
Check out this finish. Entombed by his own pieces, White has one move to fend off mate but no move that will do it.
[pgn] [Event "2021 Walter Muir (21W41)"] [White "Pitcher, Clive (1812)"] [Black "Drombosky, Kenny (1950)"] [Result "0-1"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Bd6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Nbd2 Qe7+ 8.Be2 Nf6 9.h3 Bh5 10.O-O O-O 11.Re1 Rfe8 12.b3 Bxf3 13.Nxf3 Ne4 14.Bb2 Nxf2 15.Kxf2 Qe3+ 0-1 [/pgn]
To close for the month, I have two efforts from the venerable Tom Connelly, both from Golden Knights semifinals sections. As hard as it is to win in less than 20 moves in the first place, winning like that at the competitive level of a Golden Knights semifinal round is a significant feat.

How do you beat a master in less than 20 moves? Here’s one way...

[pgn] [Event "2019 Golden Knights Semi-Final (19Ns01)"] [White "Connelly, Thomas (2379)"] [Black "Porter, David (2247)"] [Result "1-0"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Na5 6.O-O d6 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Ne7 9.Re1 c5 10.Nf5 Bxf5 11.exf5 c4 12.Nc3 cxb3 13.axb3 f6 14.Qh5+ Kd7 15.Bf4 Nb7 16.Re6 Kc7 17.Qf3 b4 18.Ra4 1-0 [/pgn]
In our last game, White plays an ill-timed 8.f3 and is quickly punished with a flurry of punches. Before you know it, Black is up at least two pieces and a pawn.
[pgn] [Event "2018 Golden Knights Semi-Final (18Ns03)"] [White "Williams, Richard (1833)"] [Black "Connelly, Thomas (2367)"] [Result "0-1"] 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.e3 d5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.d4 e4 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.f3 Bb4 9.Bd2 O-O 10.Nh3 exf3 11.Qxf3 Bg4 12.Qf1 Re8 13.Qd3 Qc8 14.Nf2 Bf5 15.e4 dxe4 16.Nfxe4 Bxc3 17.O-O Bxd4+ 0-1 [/pgn]
In closing, thanks for reading, playing, and submitting the games, both for this month’s miniatures and throughout the year. I hope got as much enjoyment out of it as I did. Suggestions or comments, please feel free to email me at And, to anyone on the receiving end of one of these short games, please consider submitting one of your wins in the coming year. It would be great to publish a game of yours dishing out some punishment!

Until next month...

Happy Holidays!


Recent Event Winners

19C16, Richard Morgan, 4.5-1.5
20C03, Craig Faber, 4.5-1.5
21C07, Steven Salerno, 6-0

19Q10, Vernon Young, 4.5-1.5

20W22, Sahithya Saravanan, 6-0
20W32, Ria Dawar, 5-1
21W03, Sophie Velea, 6-0
21W05, Ambica Yellamraju, 6-0
21W06, Joy Chu and Aria Hoesley, 3.5-2.5
21W09, Mahitha Saravanan, 6-0
21W17, Edward Murphy, 6-0
21W31, Kenny Drombosky, 5.5-0.5
21W35, Errol Acosta, 6-0