Thursday, July 07, 2005

Kupchik-Sournin, Lake Hopatcong 1923

Kupchik-Sournin, Lake Hopatcong 1923
White to play and win after 28... Rh8.

I am slowly working my way through the game scores from the two Lake Hopatcong tournaments in 1923 and 1926. The games I have recovered from Herman Helms's Brooklyn Eagle chess columns are especially difficult at times, since I am not only dealing with bad printing (a bad xerox of a sometimes bad microfilm) but incorrect copy using sometimes faulty English descriptive notation. I am not sure I want to tell you how many times I have to retrace my steps while working through one of the game scores offered by Helms. The Kupchik-Sournin game that follows is no exception, featuring such faulty moves as "B-3" (for "B-K2" or "Be7" I discovered) or "R-Q4" when it should be "K-Q4" (meaning "Kd5" in algebraic). And in one sequence, I could not distinguish from the microfilm copy whether the score read P-R3 followed by B-R2 or P-B3 followed by B-B2 and ended up down the wrong path quite a distance before discovering the mistake.

But when I saw Abraham Kupchik's nice winning combination in this game, I thought it was well worth it. After all, it is a shame that not more of Kupchik's games have made it into the record or into the databases. And it would be a pity not to have this pretty win against the Russian emigre Sournin from the 1923 tournament. The critical moment is given at the top of this post for you to puzzle over. And here is the game score with my notes (which you will have to play through if you can't find the solution):

[Event "9th American Chess Congress"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA"]
[Date "1923.08.11"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Kupchik, Abraham"]
[Black "Sournin, Vladimir"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C48"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[TimeControl "40/150"]

{Kupchik organizes a deadly kingside attack in this game after slow maneuvers. And, as Helms writes in his Brooklyn Eagle column, "the combination by means of which Kupchik gained his end was especially spectacular."} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Nd4 5. Ba4 {This is not the most challenging line against the Rubinstein system.} Nxf3+ 6. Qxf3 Bb4 { This appears later to be a waste of time, since the Bishop soon retreats. Better perhaps} ( 6... c6 7. O-O Be7 8. d3 O-O 9. Bb3 d6 {with a tempo on the game line.}) 7. O-O O-O 8. d3 c6 9. Bg5 ({Better} 9. Qg3 d6 ({Not} 9... Qa5 10. Bb3 Bxc3 11. bxc3 Qxc3 12. Bh6 Ne8 13. Bg5 Qc5 14. Qh4 Nd6 15. Rae1 {with the idea of Re3-Rh3 with a strong attack.}) 10. Bg5 {with a sharpened version of the game line due to the possibility of Qh4, Bb3, Kh1 and f4.}) 9... Be7 ({Better} 9... h6 10. Bh4 (10. Bxf6 Qxf6 11. Qxf6 gxf6 $15 { and the two Bishops are more significant than the doubled pawns.}) (10. Bd2 d5 $15) 10... g5 $5 11. Bg3 d6 12. h3 a5 $1 13. a3 Bc5 $15 { and Black controls whole board.}) 10. Bb3 d6 11. Nd1 a5 12. c3 (12. a4 $11 { keeps the Bishop on the a2-g8 diagonal and limits Black's ambitions in the center. But Kupchik is content to play a slower maneuvering game with Sournin.}) 12... h6 13. Bc1 d5 14. Ne3 a4 15. Bc2 g6 {To keep the Knight out of f5.} 16. h3 {To prevent Bg4 once the Knight moves, but possibly contemplating Ng4!?} ({Not} 16. Nf5 $2 gxf5 17. Bxh6 f4 18. g3 Bg4 $19) 16... Kg7 17. Re1 Be6 18. Nf1 Qc7 19. Ng3 Ng8 20. Qe2 Bd6 21. Be3 f6 22. Rf1 Ne7 23. d4 b5 { This allows White to liquidate favorably in the center. Better} (23... exd4 24. cxd4 dxe4 25. Nxe4 Nd5 {followed by Bf7 and Rfe8 seems a reasonable plan, to play against the isolani long-term. But White would then have a more open position with chances of developing a kingside initiative.}) 24. dxe5 fxe5 25. Rad1 Rf6 26. exd5 Bxd5 $2 {Black seems to have a mistaken notion that his best plan is to try for a kingside attack by doubling Rooks on the f-file and pointing his Bishops in that direction.} ({Better to build a strong center with } 26... cxd5 {and if} 27. Qxb5 $2 d4 $1 $40) 27. Qg4 $1 Be6 (27... Raf8 $4 28. Nh5+ $18) (27... Rff8 28. f4 $5 (28. Qh4) 28... exf4 29. Nh5+ Kh7 30. Nxf4 Bxf4 31. Bxf4 $14) 28. Qh4 $1 { Now it is clear that White has the better kingside attacking prospects.} Rh8 $2 29. Rxd6 $3 Qxd6 30. Qxf6+ Kxf6 31. Ne4+ Kg7 32. Nxd6 $18 {The rest of the game is not of great interest since White is now up a piece. Likely Black played on at first due to a time advantage and then due to his hopes for his advanced pawn at b3. But, after a few slips near the time control, Kupchik slowly strangles all resistance.} Bxa2 33. Re1 Nd5 34. Bc5 Kf6 35. c4 $1 bxc4 36. Bxa4 Nf4 37. Ra1 Bb3 { White now makes some weaker moves before the time control at move 40.} 38. Bxb3 $6 (38. Bxc6 $1 $18 {would make White's task easiest.}) 38... cxb3 39. Ra6 $6 ( {White should pick up the b-pawn before Black tries to make something of it.} 39. Ra3 $5) (39. Ne4+ Ke6 40. Be3 Rb8 41. Nc5+ Kd6 42. Ra3) 39... Ke6 40. Ra3 $6 (40. Ne4 Kd5 41. f3) 40... Ne2+ $6 (40... Kd5 41. Ra5 Nd3 42. Ba3+ c5 43. Nb5 $18 {would disorganize White somewhat.}) 41. Kh2 Nd4 42. Ne4 Rb8 43. f3 Kd5 44. Ra7 Nb5 45. Rd7+ Ke6 46. Re7+ Kd5 47. Bd6 $1 Nxd6 48. Rd7 Kc4 49. Rxd6 Rb6 50. Nd2+ Kc5 51. Rd3 { winning the b-pawn, after which Black has no hope whatsoever.} 1-0

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