Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Mike and the Danish Gambit

Yesterday's game showed Mike's resourcefulness under pressure. Yet it was not a typical game for him. Mike was the one who normally held the initiative and more often than not he was able to drive home his advantage to pick up the full point.

He excelled when he was White and able to unleash one of his pet gambits. He was fascinated by the Danish Gambit for a couple of decades and was rewarded by numerous notable victories after gaining a very early advantage. Mike would often phone just to update me on his analysis of this opening, safe in the knowledge that I would never allow him to play it against me, as I was not going to reply to his 1 e4 with 1 ...e5!

Today's game was played in one of Mike's rare appearances in the 4NCL. The game was published in a couple of places, most notably in the 2003 book Danish Dynamite by Mueller and Voigt.

Mike Closs vs. Nicholas Jakubovics

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2

Here it is. White sacrifices pawns to load up two torpedo bishops. Black has to be very careful. Amazingly, most of Mike's opponents avoided the safest line for Black, which starts with 5 ...d5, returning some of the material to speed up the second player's own development.

5 ...d6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Qb3 Qd7 


Black has defended against the threat on f7 and now has hopes of trading knight for bishop after 8 ...Na5, so Mike takes steps to prevent this. Black then finds an artificial-looking way to mobilize his kingside pieces. 8. Bc3 Nh6 9. h3 f6 10. O-O Nf7 11. Na3 Nce5 12. Nxe5 Nxe5

Here one might expect Mike to play to preserve the bishops with 13 Be2, to be followed by 14 f4, hitting the centralized knight. Instead he must have been tempted to force his initiative in a more direct fashion. Perhaps he was concerned by giving Black a defensive tempo to play 13 ...Qf7. He was not always the most patient of players!

13. Bxe5 dxe5?

13 ...fxe5 is the better of the two recaptures. The game move justifies Mike's 13 Bxe5 and allows him whip up a very strong attack. Indeed, his play from this point on appears to be faultless.

14. Rfd1 Bd6 15. Bb5 c6

16. Nc4! Brilliant - and absolutely typical of Mike. 16 ... cxb5 17. Nxd6+ Kf8 18. Rac1 Qe6

Go on then, Mike...

19. Rxc8+!!  Black resigned, 1-0

Stay tuned for more of Mike's games this week as we build up towards the 7th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament.

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