Thursday 31 May 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament Openings (3)

Here are the final four openings which could be seen in action during the 9th Mike Closs Memorial tournament.

Modern Defence: 1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 d6

Mike's latter-day favourite as Black. He sometimes liked to continue with a system based on the moves ...c6, ...Nd7, ...f6, ...Nh6 and ...Nf7.

French Defence Wing Gambit: 1 e4 e6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e5 c5 4 b4

He occasionally liked this gambit, which is similar to the Sicilian Wing Gambit in some respects. If Black accepts the gift with 4 ...cxb4 then White's centre will be strong and stable after 5 d4.

French Defence Milner-Barry Gambit: 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Qb6 6 Bd3

Mike had many ways of playing against the French (partly because I kept playing it against him and he wanted to keep me guessing). We had battles in many variations of the Tarrasch (3 Nd2), Rubinstein, Winawer and Classical (all reached after 3 Nc3) and regular Advance (3 e5 without the gambit) over the course of three decades. He saved the Milner-Barry Gambit for special occasions, perhaps thinking it wouldn't work too well against a well-booked opponent. Black can win a pawn (but not immediately, as 6 ...cxd4 7 cxd4 Nxd4 8 Nxd4 Qxd4 9 Bb5+ would win the queen) but does White enjoy enough space and attacking chances to make it a worthwhile sacrifice? Perhaps we will find out on Sunday.

Spanish Game: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5

This was Mike's main 1 e4 opening (when he wasn't in the mood for a Danish Gambit). Both sides can play gambits from this moment on - or keep things very solid. I suspect the players at the memorial tournament will prefer the former approach in honour of the Mighty Mish.

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament Openings (2)

Today we reveal four more of the openings which will be in the draw for the 9th Mike Closs memorial tournament.

I have selected 12 in all but only some will be used in the tournament, as determined by a random draw.

The Danish Gambit: 1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4

This was Mike's big favourite as White. Black can keep on capturing pawns but at the risk of granting White such superior development that a quick attack could finish the game.

King's Indian Defence: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7

Mike usually - and typically - aimed for dynamic play against d-pawn openings and the King's Indian Defence certainly suited his style.

Modern Benoni: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 d5 exd5 5 cxd5 g6

Mike enjoyed the Modern Benoni too. It was never easy keeping the lid on his tactical tricks.

Nimzo-Indian Defence: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4

One of the more positional parts of his repertoire. Mike tried this a few times early on his chess battles (mid to late 1980s) before it was replaced by the King's Indian and Benoni.

The invited players should have plenty of fun on both sides of the board if these openings are utilised in the tournament.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament Openings (1)

The 9th Mike Closs Memorial tournament will feature set openings in all of the rounds, for the first time since the inaugural event back in 2010.

We did utilise the themed openings aspect once more, in the 7th tournament, but that was just for half of the event and for the rest of it the players were free to choose their own favourites.

I have selected 12 opening lines that formed part of Mike's sharp repertoire and we will take a quick look at each one over the course of this week.

Not every opening will be used in the tournament. One of the 12 will be randomly selected before the start of each round, just to keep the participants guessing.

The Sicilian Defence (1 e4 c5) featured heavily on both sides of Mike's repertoire with the following variations being particular favourites.

Sicilian Defence Dragon: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6

Sicilian Defence Accelerated Fianchetto: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 g6

Sicilian Defence Najdorf: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6

Sicilian Defence Wing Gambit: 1 e4 c5 2 b4

Once the diagrammed positions have been reached the players are free to branch off into any lines the choose.

Monday 28 May 2018

Project 30: 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament

Project 30 continues with another important event scheduled for the weekend.

The 9th Mike Closs Memorial Tournament will continue the successful series of events created in memory of my great friend and chess colleague who tragically passed away in 2010.

We will be posting several blogs this week as we head towards this year's tournament.

Happier times; on our way to a meal out in Saltburn, 2009.
The first tournament, back in 2010, was played at the now-defunct La Fez in Marske, where we were very well looked after by Sebastian.

Sebastian in La Fez, 2010
In a remarkable coincidence, Sebastian was also behind the wheel of the taxi I had to take because of a cancelled train (due to 'lack of staff'!?) last Friday (I couldn't risk being late for my date with Evita).

Sebastian, in the taxi, 2018
This curious piece of synchronicity is a good place to start our coverage of the 9th Memorial Tournament.

More tomorrow...