SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Quebec candidate-master Louis Morin is well known to my Quebec readers. Born in 1955, Louis took up the game of chess in 1976 and has become a passionate student of the game ever since. Louis and I crossed swords numerous times over the board when I was a regular at Montreal’s weekend tournaments.
Louis has also translated numerous chess books into the French language, and was editor in chief of ECHECS+ from 85 to 94 and from 99 to 2003. Amongst other activities, he currently works for the FQE.
Louis has a sharp and dynamic style of play. In his games Louis often plays early on for the initiative, trying to force his opponent on to the defensive. While not always successful, Louis has inflicted some very painful defeats on his opponents. Witness the following miniature played in the recent Transcontinental tournament.
POSITION AFTER MOVE 14 (14…b4!?):
The opening was a Mora Gambit , where White sacrificed a pawn for a lead in development. In the position above , not quite certain about to handle White’s threat to play f5 and smash open the centre, Morissette decided to create a diversion on the Queenside.
True to style, rather than win back the pawn with the pedestrian 15.Nxc6 Bxc6 16.Qc4!?, Louis decided to continue in the spirit of the opening with another sacrifice!
15.Na4!? Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bb5
Louis has created a crisis in the game, offering an exchange to his opponent. The consequences of this gambit are by no means clear and considerable risk is involved should Black beat back White’s coming attack. However, this is typical Louis: chess is not just science and mathematics!
The White Queen moves closer to the Black monarch. The threat of f5 is always in the air and Black must now decide whether it is better for him to first capture the exchange on f1 or to wait a move or two. Such decisions are never easy, especially when the clock is ticking and it is difficult to calculate concrete forcing variations.
Here 17…Bxf1 18.Rxf1 Bf6!? (18…0-0 19. f5! is annoying) 19.Be3!? (stronger than 19.Bb6) 19…0-0 20.f5 would give White plenty of practical chances, so Black decided to castle first, in the hope that White would lose a tempo by moving his Rook –thus slowing his attack.
17…0-0 18.f5! Bxf1?!
Louis’ risky play pays off! Black had no choice but to play 18…Bf6! with a tough struggle ahead for both sides. Now White crashes thru on the Kingside.
19.fxg6! Bb5 20.gxf7-ch Kh7 21.Bxe6 Bd7!? 22.Qf5-ch g6
Louis is a fish in water in such positions! Black must have overlooked White’s Queen sacrifice:
Very elegant! Capturing the Queen allows mate in 1-move! Louis wrote:
”Here my opponent speedily grabbed his “g” pawn with the obvious intention of capturing my queen, but his arm suddenly stopped in mid-air, as if a mysterious force was preventing him to deliver this mighty blow. With complete disbelief he had to reconcile with the fact that somehow something had really gone wrong with his position. Rather than completing his move, he decided to put back the pawn on g6, thought for a few more seconds, shook his head, and resigned!”