Throwback Thursday: Byrne on the IQP

Having read Alexander Baburin’s outstanding (and sadly out of print) Winning Pawn Structues, and believing that the IQP is fundamental for chess knowledge and improvement, I’m always on the hunt for interesting games that feature the Isolated Queen’s Pawn. This week’s Throwback Thursday game comes to us from the August 1997 issue of Chess Life, and it’s a worthy addition to any IQP collection.

The August 1997 issue of Chess Life featured a memorial to Miguel Najdorf on its cover, along with the contributions of no less than fifteen columnists. Features included coverage of the 1997 US Amateur Championships, the 18th Annual Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic, four national events (the Junior Open, US Junior, the G/10, and G/60 Championships) and former Chess Life editor Burt Hochberg’s account of the “Grand Chess” chess variant. It also featured this piece by Grandmaster Robert Byrne, one of the strongest American players of his era and an important chess writer and columnist. Perhaps best known for his 34 years (1972-2006) as the chess columnist for the New York Times – a position that, in a sign of the times, was eliminated in 2014 – Byrne was also a regular in the U.S. Championship and a stalwart member of nine Olympiad teams. An academic philosopher by profession, Byrne was a chess part-timer for many years until the Times column, coupled with the rising tide caused by the Fischer boom, allowed him to “go pro.” Perhaps his greatest achievement came in this era, when he finished third at the 1973 Leningrad Interzonal, qualifying him for the Candidates Matches. There he lost to Boris Spassky, 1.5-4.5. Here are two of Byrne’s finest games. The first, against Bronstein in 1952, was Byrne’s choice for presentation in his final column for the Times. The notes are based on his.

[pgn] [Event "Olympiad-10 Final A"] [Site "Helsinki"] [Date "1952.08.22"] [Round "2"] [White "Bronstein, David Ionovich"] [Black "Byrne, Robert Eugene"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D24"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "1952.08.21"] [EventType "team-tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "FIN"] [SourceTitle "MCD"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceQuality "1"] [WhiteTeam "Soviet Union"] [BlackTeam "US of America"] [WhiteTeamCountry "URS"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 (4... e6 5. e4 Be7 6. Bxc4 $16) 5. e4 b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. a4 Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bb7 9. e6 f6 10. g3 (10. Be2 $1) 10... Qd5 11. Bg2 Qxe6+ 12. Be3 c6 (12... Qc8 13. d5) 13. O-O Qc8 14. Re1 Kf7 15. axb5 $6 ( 15. h4 {with the idea 16.Kh2 and 17.Bh3}) 15... axb5 16. Rxa8 Bxa8 17. Qe2 Na6 18. Bf4 g6 19. Nd2 h5 20. h4 Bb7 21. Kh2 Kg7 22. Ra1 Kh7 23. Bh3 Qd8 24. Ne4 Bh6 25. Bxh6 Kxh6 26. Nc5 Nxc5 27. dxc5 Qc7 28. Qd2+ Kg7 29. Rd1 Bc8 30. Bg2 Be6 31. Qe3 Bf7 32. Ra1 Rd8 33. Ra6 Bd5 34. Bxd5 Rxd5 35. Qe6 Re5 (35... Rxc5 $2 36. Ra8 $18) 36. Qh3 (36. Qxc6 Qxc6 37. Rxc6 Kf7 38. Rc8 Ke6 39. c6 Kd6 40. Kg2 Rc5 $19) 36... Rxc5 37. Ra8 Rf5 38. Qf1 Qb7 39. Rd8 Rd5 40. Re8 Qd7 41. Ra8 Rd3 42. Qe1 Rd5 0-1 [/pgn]
The second is an example of Byrne’s ‘mature’ praxis, a lovely win against Smyslov from 1976.
[pgn] [Event "Interzonal-10a"] [Site "Biel"] [Date "1976.07.26"] [Round "12"] [White "Byrne, Robert Eugene"] [Black "Smyslov, Vassily V"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C19"] [WhiteElo "2540"] [BlackElo "2580"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "1976.07.11"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "19"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [EventCategory "12"] [SourceTitle "IZT"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. Nf3 Bd7 8. Bd3 c4 9. Bf1 Ba4 10. g3 Qa5 11. Bd2 Nd7 12. Bh3 Nb6 13. O-O Bd7 14. Nh4 Na4 15. f4 Nf5 16. Nxf5 exf5 17. g4 fxg4 18. Bxg4 f5 19. exf6 O-O-O 20. fxg7 Rhg8 21. Kh1 Rxg7 22. Bxd7+ Rdxd7 23. f5 Qd8 24. Qf3 Nb6 25. Bf4 Rdf7 26. Bg3 Qg5 27. Rae1 Qg4 28. Qe3 Re7 29. Qxe7 Rxe7 30. Rxe7 Kd8 31. f6 Nd7 32. Rxd7+ Kxd7 33. f7 Qe4+ 34. Kg1 Qe3+ 35. Kg2 Qe4+ 36. Rf3 Qxc2+ 37. Kh3 1-0 [/pgn]
Growing up in New York, and coming to chess in the early 90s, Byrne’s columns in the Times were of great value to me. His was the analysis that led me through the 1990 Kasparov-Karpov match, and for years my grandfather would clip his columns and mail them to me. So it is with no small bit of nostalgia that I present to you Byrne’s analysis of Acosta-Tempone (Mar del Plata, 1997) as it appeared in the August 1997 issue of Chess Life. The analysis is uncorrected, so interested readers may want to try to “find the holes” in Byrne’s notes as a training project.
[pgn] [Event "Mar del Plata op"] [Site "Mar del Plata"] [Date "1997.??.??"] [Round "2"] [White "Acosta, Mariano"] [Black "Tempone, Marcelo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D40"] [WhiteElo "2075"] [BlackElo "2450"] [Annotator "Byrne,R"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "1997.03.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ARG"] [SourceTitle "EXT 1998"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1997.11.17"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "1997.11.17"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. c4 c5 4. e3 {It is true that 4. e3 avoids the hectic struggle of the Benoni Defense that occurs after 4. d5, yet it does not just lapse into a sterile draw, if that's what Acosta was hoping.} d5 5. Nc3 Nc6 { This position was considered by Siegbert Tarrasch to be the "normal pattern of this defense," representing best play for both sides. White's next is a waiting move that encourages Black to play 6. ... cxd4 7. exd4 dxc4 8. Bxc4. In this case, however, it turns out that 6. a3 is not wasted but looks toward a later Ba2-b1 (or Bb3-Bc2) and Qd3, when the White queen and bishop battery, aimed at a black castled king position, cannot be disturbed by ... Nb4.} 6. a3 a6 {But Black can wait, too. In this line of the Tarrasch, either side can play to isolate the other's d-pawn. The choice depends on whether you want to play for mate or win an endgame.} 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. b4 Ba7 9. Bb2 O-O 10. cxd5 exd5 11. Be2 {So, Black is the lucky/unlucky one with the isolated d5 pawn. But it is plain that Tempone is not unhappy because he could obtain a flat equality with the bloodletting beginning with 11. ... d4, yet he has no interest in that.} Re8 (11... d4) 12. O-O Qd6 13. Qc2 ({Perhaps Acosta should now play} 13. Rc1 {, and if} Bg4 {then} 14. Nd4 Bxe2 15. Ncxe2 {.}) 13... Bg4 14. h3 {This "putting the question to the bishop," as Nimzovich called it, is not wise in this type of position. For one thing, 14. ... Bh5 leaves the bishop with a smile on its face. But, more important, White does not have the luxury of two weakening pawn moves on the kingside, and he is soon going to feel the need for a second.} Bh5 15. Rfd1 Rad8 16. Rd2 {Acosta seems to be aiming to punish his opponent for not defending his d5 pawn with 14. ... Be6, but he is ignoring Tempone's buildup to a powerful mating attack.} Bb8 17. g3 { This would not have been an error if he had not played 14. h3, because then the pawn at g3 would have been adequately defended.} ({He could not have availed himself of} 17. Kf1 {because} d4 $1 18. Nxd4 Qh2 19. Bxh5 Nxd4 20. Rxd4 Rxd4 21. Bf3 Rd7 {leaves Tempone with a rook for bishop and pawn.}) ({Moreover, } 17. Rad1 d4 $1 18. Na4 Bxf3 19. Bxf3 Qh2+ 20. Kf1 dxe3 $1 21. fxe3 (21. Rxd8 $2 {loses outright to} e2+ $1) 21... Rxd2 22. Qxd2 Ne5 23. Bxe5 (23. Bxb7 $2 Nc4) 23... Qxe5 {favors Black.}) 17... Rxe3 $1 {The bomb that smashes the White kingside.} 18. Kg2 ({If} 18. fxe3 {, then} Qxg3+ 19. Kh1 (19. Kf1 Qxh3+ 20. Kg1 (20. Ke1 Bg3+ {and ... Qh1+ mates}) (20. Kf2 Ng4+) 20... Qg3+ 21. Kf1 Ng4 22. Nd1 Qh3+ 23. Kg1 Bh2+ 24. Kh1 Bg3+ 25. Kg1 Bf2+ 26. Nxf2 Qg3+ {and mate next}) 19... Qxh3+ 20. Kg1 Qg3+ 21. Kh1 Bxf3+ 22. Bxf3 Qxf3+ 23. Rg2 Qh3+ 24. Kg1 Qxe3+ 25. Qf2 Qxf2+ 26. Kxf2 d4 {yields Black an easily winning knight-plus-four-pawns for a rook endgame.}) 18... d4 $1 {Tempone's attack is now a juggernaut.} 19. Rad1 Bxf3+ 20. Bxf3 d3 $1 21. Qb1 {Once again it is forbidden to take Tempone's rook.} ({Thus,} 21. fxe3 Qxg3+ 22. Kh1 Qxf3+ 23. Kg1 Qxe3+ 24. Kh1 Qxh3+ 25. Kg1 Ba7+ 26. Rf2 {and now} dxc2 {is annihilating.}) 21... Rxf3 22. Kxf3 Ne5+ 23. Kg2 Qc6+ 24. f3 Qxf3+ ({Acosta wanted to be spared such grisly details as} 24... Qxf3+ 25. Kh2 Neg4+ 26. hxg4 Nxg4+ 27. Kg1 Ba7+) 0-1 [/pgn]