Irving Ellner Remembered

Irving Ellner passed away this week at the age of 90. He will be long remembered at the Kenilworth Chess Club as the man who single-handedly kept the club alive through the post-Fischer years, from 1975-1985, when attendance dropped off steeply. What some may not know is that Irving, an Expert player over the board, played some serious correspondence games for over 30 years, until his final days, achieving a master rating of 2224 in the last ICCF ratings list. The following two games show him at his best.

Irving Ellner - Duane Andruss [C56]

Correspondence 1977

I think the following game is likely Irving's "Immortal."

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 f5?

a) 6... d5! 7. Bxd5 Qxd5 8. Nc3 Qa5 (8... Qh5!?) 9. Nxe4 Be6 10. Neg5 O-O-O 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Rxe6=

b) 6... Be7 7. Rxe4 d5 8. Rxe7+ Nxe7 9. Bf1 c5 10. b4!

7. Bd5!?

This actually may be stronger than the book recommendation:

7. Nxd4 d5! (7... Bc5? 8. Rxe4+! fxe4 9. Qh5+ g6 10. Qxc5) (7... Qh4 8. g3!) 8. Bb5 (8. Nxc6?! bxc6 9. Rxe4+ fxe4 10. Qh5+ Kd7) 8... Bc5 9. f3! Qh4 10. Bxc6+ (10. Be3? f4) 10... bxc6 11. g3 Qf6 12. c3 O-O 13. fxe4 fxe4 and white will take some time to make his extra piece tell.

7... Bb4 8. Bg5! Ne7

8... Be7 9. Nh4! g6 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 (10... Nxe7 11. Nxf5!!) 11. Nd2 Qxh4 12. Nxe4

9. Rxe4!! fxe4 10. Ne5! Kf8

The only way to save the Queen without getting mated immediately.

10... c6 11. Qh5+ g6 12. Bf7+ Kf8 13. Qh6#

11. Bxe4! d6 12. Qf3+ Bf5 13. Bxf5 Nxf5? 14. Qxf5+!


[Michael Goeller]

William D. Jempty (2143) - Irving Ellner (2224) [E66]

USCF 59th Golden Knights /Correspondence 2006-2007

The following game was sent into The Newark Star Ledger by Irving's long time friend Mike Wojcio, who intended it as a surprise for Irving, who always read the Ledger's chess column. As fate would have it, Irving died only days before the game appeared.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 c5

In his book Play the King's Indian, Joe Gallagher recommends instead the Classical system 6... Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. e4 exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8 10. h3 a6!? with ideas like ...c5, ...Ne5, ...Rb8, ...b5 with excellentqueensidecounterpla y.

7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Na5 9. b3?

Careless play, especially in correspondence. This move may protect the c4 pawn, but it loosens the protection of the Knight on c3 and allows a standard long-diagonal tactic that wins a pawn for White.

9. Qd3 a6! intending ...Bd7 and ...b5.

9... Nxd5!

Less clear is 9... Ne4 10. Nxe4 Bxa1 11. Bh6 Bg7 12. Qd2 Re8 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Qc3+

10. cxd5 Bxc3 11. Bh6 Bg7 12. Bxg7 Kxg7 13. Qd3 Bd7 14. Qc3+ f6 15. e4 b5 16. Rfd1

The Rook should stay where it is to support a potential kingside advance -- so 16. Nd2 with ideas like f4 looks a better try.

16... Nb7 17. Ne1 Rc8 18. Nc2 a5 19. Ne3 h5 20. f3?!

20. f4! still looks like White's only good idea.

20... Qb6 21. Bf1 e5

Stronger 21... c4! exploiting the pin on the Knight at e3.

22. dxe6 Bxe6 23. Rac1 Rfd8 24. Kg2 c4!? 25. bxc4 b4!

Though Black has returned the pawn, he has complete dominance on the dark squares, which is more important long term.

26. Qd2 Nc5 27. Nd5 Qa7 28. Qf4 Bxd5 29. cxd5 Qb6 30. Qe3 Qb7 31. Rd2 Na4 32. Rdc2 Rc3 33. Bd3 Rdc8 34. Rxc3 Nxc3 35. Rc2 Rc5 36. Qf4 Qc7

Every one of Black's pieces is more powerful than White's, and his queenside pawn majority is much more threatening than White's stymied center majority.

37. Qd2 a4 38. Rb2 Qa5 39. Kf1 Qb6 40. Kg2 b3!

The breakthrough!

41. axb3 a3!

Much stronger than recapturing, since keeping the pawn on the a-file means it will not be blockaded.

42. Rc2 Qxb3 43. Rc1 a2 44. Ra1 Ra5

The quickest win might be 44... Nb1! 45. Qxa2 Qxd3 46. Qxb1 Rc2+ 47. Kh3 Qe2

45. Qc1 Ra7 46. Kh3 Rb7 47. Ba6

47... Qb2!?

As Pete Tamburro suggests in his Star Ledger column, this final combination "shows a sense of humor on the part of the winner."

48. Bxb7 Qxc1 49. Rxc1 Nb1 50. Ba6 a1=Q 51. Bd3 Qa3


[Michael Goeller]

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