A Learner’s Brilliancy

A Learner’s brilliancy. Not just any old learner, though. Very specifically, Dr Abraham Learner, a strong amateur who lived and played in Birmingham, Melbourne and Eastbourne over a 40 year chess career.

I’ve just been writing about him elsewhere, and thought this 1934 game from a county match was worth annotating. He had the white pieces against PG Perry.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. O-O Nf6
5. d4!?

An interesting gambit, which is well worth trying if you think your opponent doesn’t know it. Now 5.. Nxd4 6. Nxe5 favours White, and 5.. exd4 6. e5 is the Max Lange Attack, which is both sound and dangerous for Black (perhaps worth another article some time). So, if Black’s looking for a refutation he should try…

5.. Bxd4
6. Nxd4 Nxd4
7. f4 Qe7?

7.. d6 is the main line, and indeed Black’s best move. Play usually continues 8. fxe5 dxe5 9. Bg5, when 9.. Be6 10. Na3 provides compensation, but 9.. Qe7 leaves White struggling to justify the missing pawn.

8. Be3?

Instead, 8. fxe5 Qxe5 9. Bf4 Qc5 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7 11. Be3 leaves White with a winning advantage.

8.. Nc6
9. Nc3 O-O?

It was time to play 9.. exf4 10. Rxf4 d6 when Black is better.

10. f5!

Now White has exactly what he wants.

10.. b6
11. Bg5?!

Sacrificing a piece, perhaps accidentally, perhaps deliberately. 11. Nd5 would have given White a winning attack.

11.. Qc5+?

A tough decision, but 11.. Bb7 was correct, and, according to the engines, equal.

12. Kh1 Qxc4
13. Bxf6 gxf6
14. Nd5

14. Qh5 and Rf3 were also winning. Black can’t defend f6 and h7. A stock attack.

14.. Kh8
15. Nxf6 Rg8
16. Qh5 Rg7
17. Rae1??

Mistakenly rejecting the obvious 17. Rf3 because of 17.. Qe2, but then 18. Rg1, followed by Qh6 (or Qh4) and Rh3 is game over.

17.. Ba6

Black could have turned the tables with 17.. Qxc2! 18. Rg1 Qd2!.

18. Rf3 Qb4
19. c3 Qxb2
20. Rg3 Qf2?

The losing move. 20.. Qd2! 21. Rd1 Be2! 22. Rxd2 Bxh5 23. Rxg7 Kxg7 24. Nxh5+ Kf8 25. Rxd7 Rd8 26. Rxd8+ Nxd8 would have resulted in an equal ending.

21. Rg1 Bf1
22. Qh6 Rag8
23. Qxh7+

White sacrifices his queen for a familiar Arabian Mate. If your name’s Abraham it’s better to sacrifice your queen than your son.

23.. Rxh7
24. Rxg8#

On reflection, an instructive but inaccurate game, perhaps suitable for a lesson at your chess club. Perhaps it’s A Learner’s Lesson rather than A Learner’s Brilliancy. What do you think?

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

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