Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Horace Ransom Bigelow at Lake Hopatcong 1923

Black to play after 8.f5? has two winning methods.

Horace Ransom Bigelow (March 6, 1898-April 18, 1980) was a star chess player at Oxford in England before returning to the United States, where he became a frequent participant in the Manhattan chess scene of the 20s and 30s. He became a minor chess journalist (writing for the American Chess Bulletin) and is best remembered today for his preface to Richard Reti's "Masters of the Chessboard." Bigelow was really no match, though, for the best masters and finished in last place at Lake Hopatcong 1923. His games provide numerous examples, though, of winning attacks and combinations by his opponents. After all, it is often difficult to get a clearly winning attack going against strong opposition, but against Bigelow things were often textbook-clear.

In the following game, which should have been a miniature (since it is over on move 13), Abraham Kupchik is presented with at least two ways to seize the initiative and begin a winning attack after Bigelow's blunderific 8.f5? (see diagram above). You can play over the PGN file below by copying it to the clipboard and then loading it into Fritz (or another PGN-viewer) with Edit>Paste>Paste Game.

[Event "9th American Chess Congress"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ, USA"]
[Date "1923.08.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Bigelow, Horace Ransom"]
[Black "Kupchik, Abraham"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C30"]
[PlyCount "82"]
[EventDate "1923.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 $5 (5. fxe5 dxe5 6. Nxe5 Qe7 7. d4 Bd6 8. Nd2 Bxe5 9. dxe5 Qxe5 10. Bd3 Nc6 $11) 5... exd4 6. cxd4 Bb6 (6... Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 O-O 9. Bd3 $14) 7. Nc3 O-O 8. f5 $2 {This advance, often appropriate when Black has a pawn at e5, is completely incorrect here since White's laggard e-pawn now becomes a target, and if e-pawn falls or steps forward then the f-pawn will hang.} ({Better} 8. e5 dxe5 (8... Ng4 $5 9. Bc4 $13) 9. fxe5 Nd5 10. Bc4 $14) 8... Re8 $17 {Forcing White's next.} ({ Equally strong or stronger was} 8... Nxe4 $1 9. Nxe4 Re8 10. Nfg5 Bxf5 11. Bc4 d5 12. O-O Bxe4 $19) 9. Kf2 d5 $1 10. e5 (10. exd5 Bxf5 $17) 10... Ne4+ 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Bg5 {White is already lost. Not much better was} (12. Ng5 Bxd4+ { and Black wins White's whole set of center pawns.}) 12... Qd5 $1 13. Be3 { Surrendering a piece to hang onto some pawns.} (13. Nh4 Bxd4+ 14. Be3 Bxe3+ 15. Kxe3 Qxe5 $19) 13... exf3 {White could now resign, but instead stubbornly resists through the time control before surrendering.} 14. Rc1 Bxf5 15. Bc4 Qd7 16. gxf3 Nc6 17. Rg1 Bxd4 18. Bxd4 Qxd4+ 19. Qxd4 Nxd4 20. Bxf7+ $5 Kxf7 21. Rxc7+ Re7 22. Rxg7+ Kxg7 23. Rxe7+ Kg6 24. Rxb7 Kg5 25. Rb4 Ne6 26. Kg3 Rd8 27. Rb7 Rd2 28. Rxa7 Rxb2 29. Rf7 Bg6 30. Rf6 Nd4 31. f4+ Kh5 32. Ra6 Be4 33. f5 Bxf5 34. Kf4 Bg6 35. e6 Re2 36. Ra5+ Kh6 37. Ra6 Nxe6+ 38. Kg3 Nd4 39. a4 Nf5+ 40. Kh3 Kg5 41. a5 Bh5 {mate is unavoidable.} 0-1

Here is another position from one of Bigelow's games:

White to play after 18...exf5? What's the strongest move?

Bigelow and Anthony Santasiere (who finished next to last) were entered into the Lake Hopatcong 1923 tournament after playing in a qualifier quad with J. L. McCudden and Alexander Kevitz (who is often remembered today for playing early versions of the Two Knights Tango and the Nimzovitch Defense with ...e5). Here is one of the qualifying games, where Bigelow gained an opening advantage only to lose it and allow White an important breakthrough. You can see the critical moment above, with White to play and seize the initiative.

[Event "9th American Chess Congress Qualifier"]
[Site "New York, NY USA"]
[Date "2005.08.01"]
[Round "0"]
[White "McCudden, J. L.."]
[Black "Bigelow, Horace Ransom"]
[Result "1-0"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[TimeControl "40/150"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Bd3 Bxd3 5. Qxd3 e6 6. Ne2 Nd7 7. O-O Qb6 8. Be3 Qxb2 9. Nd2 Qa3 10. c3 b5 11. f4 Nh6 12. h3 Nf5 13. g4 Nxe3 14. Qxe3 Be7 15. f5 c5 16. Rab1 a6 (16... Qxa2 $2 17. Ra1 Qc2 18. Rfc1 $11) 17. Nf3 cxd4 18. Nfxd4 exf5 $2 19. e6 $1 fxe6 20. Nxe6 Qd6 21. Rxf5 (21. Nxg7+ $142 $1 Kf7 22. Nxf5 $18) 21... g6 22. Rxd5 $1 Qb6 (22... Qxd5 23. Nc7+) 23. N2d4 $1 Nf6 24. Re5 Ra7 25. g5 Nh5 26. Re1 Qd6 27. Nc6 $1 Rb7 28. Nxe7 Rxe7 29. Nc7+ Kd8 30. Rxe7 Rf8 31. Re8+ Kxc7 32. Rxf8 Qxf8 33. Qa7+ Kd6 34. Qxa6+ Kc7 35. Qa7+ Kc6 36. Re6+ Kd5 37. Qd7+ Kc4 38. Qd4# 1-0

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