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Scholastic Chess Bulletin #6 is out!
In this issue:
- Monthly Scholastic In-Person Tournament - 2021 October Report with Player Highlight: Justyn Klot
- Chess Enrichment Highlight: Alta Vista School
- Chess Camps on October 11 - Report
- ChessKid Style by Andrew Ballantyne
- Special Event: Halloween Tournament @ Mechanics' Institute on Oct 30
- Understanding Tournaments - Tiebreaks
- Upcoming Tournament Schedule
- Tournament Results & Featured Games analyzed by GM Nick de Firmian
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IM Sal Matera and the Art of Defense
FM Paul Whitehead
I teach a few classes for the Mechanics’ Institute using Zoom, and just finished going over Damsky and Polugaevsky’s classic treatise, The Art of Defence (1988) with a handful of students varying widely in age and strength.
Much to my surprise IM Sal Matera signed on, a trustee and vice-president of the fabled Marshall Chess Club and frequent visitor on another MI Zoom offering, the Monday Chess Café. Sal was the U.S. Junior Champion in 1967, and became an International Master in 1976. He was one of John Collins ‘Seven Chess Prodigies’ along with Fischer, the Byrne brothers, Lombardy, Weinstein and Cohen.
The Marshall has a reciprocal relationship with the MI: their members and ours can take advantage of discounted classes and tournaments that are offered by both clubs.
I still can’t believe I’ve never been to the Marshall.
And I’ve never met Sal in person – or have I? We both played at the fabled Lone Pine tournament in 1979, and perhaps we spoke or sat adjacent to each other – it would have been on the lower boards, as neither of us did very well that year!
Yet I feel like I’ve known Sal for a long time. We have mutual friends and acquaintances, and old chess tales in common, stories that link the East and West Coasts.
Having Sal in my class was simply wonderful: he provided expert analysis, deep wisdom and warm humor. And, at times, he adroitly corrected and clarified sloppy thinking by the teacher, who had a tendency to rush through the material without hitting the pause button…
On to some chess, and in particular the 18th and penultimate chapter of The Art of Defence, titled 180 Degree Turn. In this section Damsky and Polugaevsky introduce a high-level concept that ‘may be comparable in strength with the detonation of a bomb.’
Duckstein – Petrosian, Varna Olympiad 1962.
This is a classic example of the ‘detonating bomb’ idea: active defense by moving a pawn (or pawns) that stand directly in front of one’s own king – in fact, right where you are being attacked!
Black breaks the old rules of defense by playing 1…a5!! which undermines the pawn at c5 and seeks to activate the bishop at f8. 2.Rad1 Rxd1 3.Rxd1 Rh4! Another shot, hitting the pawn at b4. 4.bxa5 Bxc5 5.a6 b6! Introducing another defensive idea, that of hiding one’s king behind the enemies advanced pawns. 6.Re1 Ka7 7.Be5 Qd7 8.Ne4 Bd4 9.g3 Bxe5! Yet another counter attacking/ defensive ploy: the Exchange Sacrifice. 10.gxh4 Nd5 11.Qd1 Qd5! A powerful centralization. Polugaevsky concludes that white is lost: he lacks counter-play. 12.Re3 Nf5 13.Re1 Nd4 14.Qd3 f5 15.Ng5 c5 16.Re3 c4 17.Qd1 Kxa6 18.Ra3 Bf6 19.h3 f4 20.Qg4 Ka5! Now the king joins the fight. Vintage Petrosian. 21.Nf3 Kb4 22.Nxd4 Kxa3 23.Nc2+ Kxa4 0-1
Soon after the class ended Sal sent me a note and clipping from an article he penned for Chess Life in April 2020. Titled My Best Move, it featured a nice pic of Sal and his wife plus an annotated victory over a young Hungarian Grandmaster in the 1974 World Student Olympiad:
Here is Sal’s e-mail accompanying the clipping:
‘Hi Paul -
At the final Art of Defense class, you were talking about surprising moves in front of one’s King. I flashed back to my game against Gyula Sax where I floored him in an open Sicilian with g5! Followed by h5! The article I wrote in 1974 about the game is attached as is the below article In April 2020 about g5! Being My Best Move. Hope to see you later in the Café!’
What a perfect illustration this game is of the ‘detonating bomb’ defence – in fact, it struck me as the best example yet, and a worthy inclusion into both a future edition of The Art of Defence, not to mention my next class!
Sax – Matera, World Student Olympiad 1974.
Black seems to be in trouble with his queen under attack and f7 soon to fall, but 1…g5!! was a vicious counter-punch. After 2.Qg4 h5!! was ‘bomb’ number two. White regained the exchange but landed into an inferior ending after 3.Bxd5 hxg4 4.Bxf7+ Kg7 5.Bxe8 Rxe8 6.Bg3 Bf6 7.Bxd6 Bxb2 8.Rb1? Pointless. 8…b5! 9.Bg3 Bc3! 10.Rd1 Re2 11.Rd7+ Kg8! 12.h3 Rxc2 13.Rc7 b4 14.Rc5 gxh3 15.Rxg5+ Kf7 16.Rf5+ Ke6 17.Rf2 Rxf2 18.Bxf2 hxg2+ 19.Kxg2 a5 20.Bc5 Kd5 21.Be7 Ke4 0-1.
This made me think of asking Sal to sit in on ALL of my classes. I’ll be the old trickster, and try to convince him that if he’s the one that does the work, then I’ll be the one who get tired…
But seriously: this was/is one of our most talented players, and his mind is as sharp as a tack. I am privileged to have gotten to know him a little.
Join us for the Chess Café, Monday's at 4pm: https://www.milibrary.org/chess/chess-cafe
If you’re lucky, Sal Matera will be there too.
Nick de Firmian’s Column
GM Nick de Firmian returns with his column next week
Solution to Tony's Teaser
1.Ne6+! Qxe6 (1...fxe6 2.Qf8# or 1...Kg8/h8 2.Qb8+ Qd8 3.Qxd8#) 2.Qh6+!! Kxh6 (2...Kg8/h8 3.Qf8#) 3.Bf8#.
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