Check Is In The Mail: December 2022

Welcome to the annual miniatures column! In the past, this column has recognized any games that lasted no more than 20 moves to be miniatures. I am taking advantage of editorial privilege to set the level of miniatures at 25 moves or less, which is what I learned in my youth. This new policy allows me to include more games, including our first one. (Editor's note: Ratings are current ratings NOT the tournament start ratings.)

"The blunders are all there on the board, waiting to be made.” — Savielly Tartakower

I promised you another look at the Nonny Nonny Boo Boo Attack in this column, and here it is. In Perkins – Glover, Kele Perkins leads the charge with his king, but rather than jump into the fray, Justin Glover occupies the center, gets his pieces developed and his king into safety before opening a line for his rook. Within 10 moves White’s kingside is torn asunder and his king exposed. Despite an exchange of queens, Black keeps the pressure on. The game ends abruptly when White overlooks a tactic.



The game O’Neal – Walker is a Scandinavian Opening (an old favorite of mine!) that is fairly level until White castles into a tactic on move 12. Black chooses to resign rather than play on while down a piece.



Walsh – Hilburn follows the famous Morphy opera box game until Black overlooks the mate threat included in White’s 7th move. Well played Konchog! Short but sweet.



The game Walker-Hart started with a Petroff Defense in which Black tried too hard to copy White’s moves. After castling White has an advantage, but not yet a win. The next few moves go smoothly until move 11, when Black overlooks an in-between move (11…Bb4) which would have kept him in the game. The move played dropped a piece, which was enough to convince Black to resign.



Acosta – Cooke, Mike Cooke lives my nightmare (or more appropriately, my knightmare!) of playing against the King’s Gambit without knowing the lines inside and out. The only good news is that it’s over by move 11.



Eric Brink gives a lesson in the potential for Black in the Spanish Game in Bolme – Brink. White allows a pin and then fails to break it before Black can increase the pressure (8. c3 would do). Brink only requires six more moves to force checkmate.



In the game Pitcher – Irons, I cannot take credit for the win. The position after 11…exd5 is analyzed in the book Anti-Sicilians Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala. The author gives three other continuations for White that end in either the loss of material or significant positional concessions. For Clive’s response I only had to find 12…Bxd4+.



I am a fan of the Queen’s Gambit Declined, from both sides of the board, and so I was glad to see the game Jacobs – Clawson. Black had a playable game until 12…f6?, which opened the flood gates; he resigned in six more moves.



Segreto – Buswell is a King’s Indian Defense that White misplays early. White misses an in-between capture that wins a piece on move 14, and by move 19 White decides he has better things to do.



The game Goellner – Johnson starts slowly with both players fianchettoing kingside, but then White decides to mix it up in the center. While maneuvering his knights into attacking position, White permits his fianchettoed bishop to be captured, after which his kingside is vulnerable. Black ends it with a tactical shot on the 18th move that starts a king hunt. Black decides not to stick around for the ending.



Jacobsen – Gordon-Davis is a Sicilian Defense in which Black is able to equalize quickly. While White went pawn hunting on the kingside, Black played to prevent White from castling kingside while scooting his own king over to the queenside. After allowing a couple more pawns to be consumed, Gordon-Davis plays a nice combination that starts with an exchange sacrifice, includes a stop to pick off a piece, and then finishes with checkmate.



The game Wade – Braider is a Sicilian Rossolimo variation in which White brings his queen out too early (move 6), only to return her home later (move 10). Black has an opportunity to create problems for White in developing (11…d3!), but let’s White off the hook. White decides to bring his queen out one more time, upon which Black permits a wicked discovered attack with a mate threat that finishes things off.



In Huffstatler – Bush, an English Opening with a closed center quickly heats up on the queenside. Just as quickly, the fight turns toward the kingside. Just when it appeared that White was ready to solidify his advantage (20. g4 or 20. Qf3), instead he opens the door to a knight fork that drops a whole rook.



The Chebanenko Slav is the topic of discussion in Schroeder – Taylor, and both sides hold their own until move 14. White tries to increase his advantage in development but overlooks a pawn fork that drops a piece. Bummer man.



The game Johnson – Segreto morphs from a queen’s pawn game to a Pirc Defense, but then ends up with a French Defense-like pawn chain in the center. First White misses a tactic (9. g4!), then Black misses a kill shot (15…Nh5 is still a fight).



Taylor – Schroeder is a Two Knights’ Defense in which White chooses a line known to be inferior (6. c3!), and then compounds it by failing to consolidate once Black equalizes (8. Bb3). Black, however, overplays his hand and misses a tactic (12…Re8!), giving White the last laugh.



The game Tarrant – DeGroff starts off as an attempt at the London System, or perhaps the Jobava system. White develops solidly while Black creates a hole on the d6 square. The moment White chooses to occupy the square with his bishop, Black decides to give away his dark-squared bishop, handing the dark squares over to White. After consolidating, White grabs the center, prevents the counterthrust …c5, and then shifts his attention to the kingside. Black sees the positional threat in White’s queen move (18. Be5) but misses the material threat.



Taylor – McCaffery was a Maroczy Bind from the English Opening. Both players held their own until move 13, when White started to gain space on the queenside. The end came when Black missed a follow-up move after a capture on move 18. Black resigns rather than play on while down the exchange.



We get to see the Modern Benoni get smacked around in Shannon – Nadolny. White plays an aggressive system that takes over the center with pawns backed up by knights. Then White sacrifices a pawn to prevent Black from castling and starts to tighten his grip on Black’s king. The game ends quickly when Black picks off a poisoned piece.



The game Renfroe – Acosta is an Advance French Defense which both sides misplay early on, but White wins because, as Savielly Tartakower would say, he plays the next-to-last mistake (8. Na3 is better). Black’s 9…f6? starts a fire storm that White makes the most of.



We see the English Opening again in the game Schroeder – Hall, in which the center ends up in sort of a reversed French Defense pawn chain, with Black having the space advantage. Both players maneuver for position until White makes a tactical mistake allowing a skewer.



The game Irons – Angres has a few more annotations that the others because I have torn this game apart, looking for where both of us could have done better. While there is room for improvement, I’m rather proud of the combination that starts with my 14th move.



In the game Souza – Jacobsen, Black makes the cardinal sin of developing his queen too early, making it a target. The resulting onslaught is fun to watch.



Thank you all for your interest and support in 2022. I wish you all health, wealth, and happiness in 2023. May your pawns be strong, may your bishops be unblocked, and may your mates be plentiful!
Robert Irons

News From the Front Office

US Chess Membership
You must be a US Chess member for the duration of your play in any tournament or risk forfeiture of all games.
Reporting Game Results
The winner must report the result to the TD immediately upon conclusion of the game. In case of draws, White must report the result. It is a good idea for the other player to also submit the result, labeling it "duplicate report." Reports must include section and game numbers as well as the names and ID numbers of both players.

2021 US Chess Absolute
The 2021 US Chess Absolute Champion has finished. As reported in the April Check Is In The Mail, CCE Daniel Horwitz (TX) was the event champion with a score of 8 points, with four wins and 8 draws!
The tournament cross table can be found @ Play began March 1, 2021.

Recent Event Winners

John W. Collins Memorial Quad
20C10, Dr. Barry Walker, 5.5-0.5

Trophy Quads
20T02, Clifton Franklund, 6-0

Walter Muir E-Quad
22W04, Eric Rose & Kevin Buswell, 4-2
22W13, Charles Renfroe, 4.5-1.5
22W14, Kele Perkins, 5-1

Victor Palciauskas
22VP06, Christopher Schroeder, 5-1
22VP09, Alexander King, 6-0