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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Featured Games - Kicking the Year Off in Style
 Alan Price
  April 2014

It was New Year’s Day and I was in the mood to play something new and different, so I decided to do so at the Boylston’s Herb Healy Open House. Many thanks to the Boylston Chess Club for another terrific January 1st tournament. It's always great to see old friends and support a great chess club. I congratulate Chris Williams for playing a great game against me. He unleashed a spectacular combination based partly on calculation but mostly on his intuition.

Alan Price 2110
Chris Williams 2255
BCC Herb Healy
Larsen’s Opening [A02]

1. b3!?

It was New Year's Day and I was in the mood to play something new and different. I don't really know any of the theory of the Nimzovich/Larsen, so please forgive me if my treatment of the opening is an abomination.

1... Nf6 2. Bb2 d6 3. f4 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e3 g6 6. Bb5 Bg7 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. e4?!

With this move we've transposed into a Sicilian, which is more familiar to me, but the pawn took two moves to arrive at e4. I should have stuck with the Larsen and simply castled.

8... 0–0 9. d3 a5 10. Nc3 c4 11. d4 Ba6 12. Qd2 Rb8 13. 0–0–0 Nd7 14. Rhe1

At this point, I was happy with my game. I had placed my pieces actively in classical positions. I had a good center with space to move. It's a playable position, which is all I ever ask of an opening anyway. My assessment of the position isn't far from accurate however my thoughts about what to do with this position were completely delusional. I overlooked the dynamic nature of Black's attacking chances.


15. d5?!

By opening up the diagonal for his dark squared bishop and giving his knight a home on c5, I effectively hit the self-destruct button.

15...cxb3 16. axb3 Nc5

Black is threatening 17...Rxb3!

17. Kb1 Bd3!

again, threatening to capture on b3

18. Ka2

at this point I was still in denial about the dangers to my king. Certainly no better is 18.cxd3 Rxb3 with gruesome threats like 19...Bxc3 or 19...Rxb2 followed by 20...Na4 or simply 19...Rfb8.

18... Rxb3!

18...Bc4!? Was also an interesting way to kill me.

19. cxb3 Qb6

After the quiet queen move, my king is helpless.

20. e5

Trying to at least block the g7 bishop's power. Giving up my queen doesn't seem to help because 20.Qxd3 Qxb3+ 21.Ka1 Nxd3 22.Rxd3 Rb8 is a world of pain. 20.Qc1!? May have had the best chance of survival, but it looked dismal and I was running out of time to calculate.

In the case of 20...Qxb3+ 21.Ka1 Rb8 22.Nd2 Qb6 23.e5 Ba6, Black seemed better and I couldn't figure out what to do here. Still, this was preferable to what happened. What I overlooked was Black's 21st move.]

20...Qxb3+ 21. Ka1

21… Qc4!!

This was the move that neither of us saw going into this combination. But once Chris found it, it was clear to us both that the game was over.

22. Qe3

My only alternative was to give away all my pieces and go into a hopeless endgame. It seemed better for both of us to allow the pretty finish. 22.Nd4 Qxd4 23.Re4 Qxe4 24.Nxe4 Nb3+ 25.Ka2 Nxd2 26.Nxd2 cxd5

22...Nb3+ 23. Ka2 Nc1+ 24. Ka1 Qa2+

I resigned here due to... 25.Nxa2 Nb3# Again, congratulations Chris.


Walter Driscoll III: Owner of the World’s Lowest Morphy-Bacon Number?

Walter Driscoll is a fixture in the Massachsetts chess community, known for his warmth, humor, and humility. But what some may not realize is that he has worked as an actor in some major Hollywood films, including 2010’s The Fighter and, most recently, in an uncredited role in last year’s R.I.P.D. The latter movie featured the inimitable Kevin Bacon, putting Walt in the elite group of actors with a Bacon Number of 1. Having also in chess played John Curdo, who played Harlow Daly, who played Frank Marshall, who played James Mortimer, who played Paul Morphy, he also wields a Morphy Number of 5.

As few can claim a combined Morphy-Bacon Number at all, it stands to reason that Mr. Driscoll's mark of 6 may well be the world record! Congratulations, Walt!


- Nathan Smolensky