A great short game of chess. 


This was a game that we (at the chess club) analyzed one week. We had a lot of fun with it, and I was very impressed with the tactics. 

Since it is a VERY brilliant (!!) miniature, I decided to go ahead and analyze it ... and make a web page out of it. 

 Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I use when annotating a chess game.   

  Click  HERE  to replay this game ... on another website.    


GM John DM Nunn (2701) - GM Andrei Sokolov (2743) 
[B54]
  (FIDE) Men's Olympiad, (Round # 06)
  Dubai, UAE; (Saudi Arabia) / 11,1986.  

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 

  gcg_nun-sok_medal.gif, 02 KB


Often times in chess, knowledge and the whole approach to the opening can be a true paradox. 

If White plays simple, straight-forward moves, and he wins: his play is seen as economical, forceful, brilliant, etc. But if White should lose, his play is often interpreted as shallow, mechanical, simple-minded, or even brutish. 

Very often when Black wins in the extremely complex Sicilian, his play is praised as a masterpiece of strategy. 
------>  Often ... Black wins ... because all of his piece are on their very best squares, even though it may have taken Black more moves than White to achieve the ... "perfect set-up." On the other hand, anyone who has ever played the Sicilian can tell you, if you are not careful, you can be wiped off the board in 20 moves {or less} by an "open-game style" type of attack. 

In the end, you have to decide which you prefer more as Black, safety - or a position that is flexible, unbalanced, but yields good chances for victory. ("You pays your money - and then you takes your choices.") 


The ratings (here) come from the  "Chess - Metrics"  website
[ GM Neil McDonald relates that Sokolov was the "Number Three" (# 03) player in the world at the time    
  that this game was played. Almost needless to say, it is rare when a player in the 'Top Five' is defeated    
  in 25 moves or less! ]   

 1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 e6;  3.d4 cxd4;  4.Nxd4 Nc6!?;  {See the diagram ... just below.}    
A slightly unusual position has arisen, most top players seem to think that the {actual} move order in the Sicilian means very little.  

 

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 Black plays the Sicilian. (gcg_nunn-soko-1986_pos01.jpg, 28 KB)

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IF I were Black, I would be {maybe a little} nervous about the weakness of my dark squares ... 
especially d6. (White to move - from this position ... given just above.)   

 

 5.Nc3   
Nunn goes for rapid development. 
(Fritz likes Nb5 here; in the past, I have always preferred to play c4.)   

     [ The move of:  5.c4!?{Diagram?}  leads to a Pawn structure where White tries to prevent   
       Black from playing the freeing advance,  ...Pawn/d7-d5; at all costs. ("The Maroczy Bind.") ]   

 

 5...a6;    
A useful move in the Sicilian, Black tries to forever prevent White from any thought of playing the Nb5 idea.   

     [ The most common move here is for Black to play  ...d7-d6;  in this position, for example:   
        5...d66.Be2 Be7 7.0-0 Nf68.Be3 0-09.f4,  "+/="   9...a6{Diagram?}   
        and White keeps a solid edge, but Black's position is also good.   

        See the interesting contest:  GM Viswanathan Anand - GM Veselin Topalov;   
        ICT / Super-Masters {Inv?} / Dortmund, GER; 1996.   (1-0, 38 moves.)   
        {White won a fierce battle ... in thirty-eight overall moves.}   

        [ See also: MCO-14, page # 289; columns one through six, (# 1-6);   
          and all appropriate notes as well. ] ]   

 

  6.Be2,   
Once again, Nunn chooses simple and economic developing moves.  

     [ Another idea would be:  6.g3!?,  followed by a K-side fianchetto. ]   

 

 6...d6;   
We have now transposed to a Scheveningen Sicilian, albeit it ... with a rather unusual move order. 

     [ After the moves:   
       (</=)  6...Bb4!?7.Nxc6!?{Diagram?}    
       This gives Black a lot of Pawns in the center, maybe castling was a thought here. 

            ( Or 7.0-0 Nf6;  8.Qd3 Ne5;  9.Qe3 d6;  10.Rd1,  "+/="  {Diagram?}     
               with a solid edge for White. )   

        7...Bxc3+!?(hmmm)   {Diagram?}   
        If Black immediately recaptures with his d-Pawn, he loses the right to castle. 
        (After an exchange of Queens on the d8-square.) 

             ( If Black plays:  </= 7...bxc6!?;  then simply  8.Qd4,  "+/="  {Diag?}   
                is very awkward for Black. )   

        8.bxc3 bxc69.Qd6,  "+/="  {Diag?}  White has a bind on the position. ]   

 

 7.Be3 Qc7;  8.f4 Na5?;   {See the diagram ... just below.}     
An extravagant idea ... that Black simply does not have time for.   

 

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A. Sokolov was known for his very provocative play ... especially in his younger years. 
 --->  Here, however, he simply goes too far. 

     [ By playing the moves:   
        >/=  8...Nf69.0-0 Be710.Qe1, "+/="  (space)  {Dm?}   
        we have transposed back into the safety of 'book' lines. ]   

 

 9.0-0! Nc4!?;  10.Bxc4!,    
The Black Knight cannot be tolerated or allowed to stay on this square for long.   
(The reason that I award this move an exclam is that I tested this game on around 10 local players, without exception, 
 they all wanted to play Bc1 here - to maintain the advantage of the two Bishops for White. And in all fairness - my   
 love of the two long-range pieces is fairly well known.)    

     [ The move of:  10.Bc1!?, "+/="  {Diagram?}     
        leaves White with an edge ... 
        but is not as convincing as the method chosen by GM J. Nunn. ]   

 

 10...Qxc4;  (forced)   {See the diagram given, just below.}    
White has an advantage of a huge lead in development here. He has two Knights and a Bishop in the field of play, 
 in particular, the unit on d4 is wonderfully deployed. The first player has also castled, Nunn's Queen and Rook sit   
 on useful lines, files that could be easily opened.   

 

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 gcg_nunn-soko-1986_pos03.jpg, 27 KB

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  r1b1kbnr/1p3ppp/p2pp3/8/2qNPP2/2N1B3/PPP3PP/R2Q1RK1  

 

The only question for White should be ... how to proceed from here?   

 

 11.f5!,  (nice)   
Probably the most expedient solution, it also adheres to one of the axioms of play shown  ............ 
(by example)  ...  in the games of Paul Morphy. 
(When ahead in development - open lines at all costs!)  

     [ White could also play:    
        (</=)  11.a4!?,  "+/="  (space)  {Diagram?}   
        which prevents Black from trying to expand on the Queen-side.  
        (This continuation is the first choice of Fritz 8.0 after over 10 minutes.) ]   

 

 11...Be7;  (hmmm)    
Apparently Black cannot play the natural move of  " ...Knight-to-the-f6-square." (A bad sign.)   

     [ It was probably (already!) too dangerous for Black to play:   
        </= 11...Nf6!?; ('?!')  12.fxe6! fxe613.Rxf6!! gxf614.Qh5+,  ('')  
        with a crushing attack.  ("--->")  ]    

 

 12.Qg4!,  (Yes!)    
Nunn brings the Queen into the attack ... and with a gain of time, thanks to the unprotected state of Black's KNP.    

     [ Or  12.fxe6!?,  "+/="  {Diag?}  which is similar to the game. ]    

 

 12...h5!?;  (hmmm)    
This move is a sneaky try ... to turn the game into a pure tactical brawl. 
(However,  12...Bf6;  was probably a little better.)   

 

     [  Black also loses after:  
        (>/=)  12...Bf6!?; ('!')  13.Rad1 Be514.Nf3 h5 ; 15.Qg5 Bf616.Qg3 Qb4{D?}   
         Black can no longer defend all of his weak points, a counter-attack is the only option here. 

        17.fxe6 Bxe618.Rxd6 Qxb2?{Diagram?}   
        A mistake ... but a very plausible one at that.   

              ( After the moves of:  >/=  18...Qc4;  19.Nd4 h4;  20.Qf4, ''  (Or "+/-")       
                White has won a Pawn for nothing, and Black's King is still stuck in    
                 the center ... with no relief in sight. )     

        19.Rxe6+!! fxe620.Qg6+ Ke7{Diagram?}   
         Ugly - but probably forced.  
         (After 20...Kd7?; White plays Rd1+, with a quick and decisive attack.) 

              ( Not </=  20...Kf8?;  21.Bc5+ Ne7;  22.Ng5,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}    
                and Black cannot prevent White from delivering a mate next move. )     

        21.Bc5+ Kd722.Ne5+! Kc7{Diagram?}   
        This appears to be {also} forced.    

              ( </= 22...Bxe5?; ('??')  23.Rd1+ Kc6;  24.Qxe6+ Kxc5;  
                 25.Qxe5+ Kb4;  26.Rd4+ Kxc3;  27.Qc5#. )   

        23.Qf7+ Ne724.Bxe7 Bxe7{Diagram?}   
        Black has to play something in this position.   

                             ************    

              ( Of course, it is bad for Black to play:    
                </=  24...Bxe5?;  25.Ba3+,  ("+/-")     
                as the second player will now lose his Queen.     

           ** ** ** **     ** ** ** ** ** **     ** ** ** **    

                Black also loses after:   
                24...Qxc3;  25.Bxf6+ Kc8;  26.Qxe6+ Kc7;    
                27.Nc4! gxf6!?;  28.Qd6+ Kc8; 29.Nb6#. )     

                             ************    

        25.Qxe7+ Kc826.Qxe6+ Kb8 27.Qd6+ Ka728.Qc5+ Qb6;   
       
Absolutely forced.   

              ( </= 28...Kb8?!; ('?')  29.Nd7#. )    

        29.Nc6+! bxc630.Rf7+,  ("+/-")   {Diagram?}   
        winning easily for White. (In fact, it is mate in two.)  ]   

 

Now White calmly retreats the Queen, all the while maintaining the pressure on the f-file.    
 13.Qf3 Bf6!?;   
Black blocks off the dangerous battery on the f-file, probably thinking the attack on the Knight on d4 would   
give him a brief respite from White's offensive. (It might have been better to play 13...Nf6 here, however Sokolov    
was probably afraid that he would be unable to complete the {eventual} development of his pieces.)    

     [ (>/=) 13...Nf614.Rad1, "+/="  {D?} with a lasting edge. ]   

 

 14.fxe6! fxe6;   {See the diagram - just below}   
Sokolov considered this forced, the capture with the Bishop left him with a lifeless position  ... with no play.   

 

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 gcg_nunn-soko-1986_pos04.jpg, 27 KB

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  r1b1k1nr/1p4p1/p2ppb2/7p/2qNP3/2N1BQ2/PPP3PP/R4RK1  

 

Another apex has been reached ... how does White increase the pressure, but not allow Black any easy escape from here? 

 

     [ Or  14...Bxe6!?15.Nxe6 Qxe616.Nd5 Rc817.c3,  ''  {Diagram?}   
        with a very strong position for White ... one that is nearly a winning advantage. ]  

 

 15.e5!!,  (vacating sacrifice)    
White makes the most energetic play in this position, this idea had to be carefully thought out ...  
at the highest level, an incorrect sacrifice will easily cost the first player the game, as surely as a blunder. 

"A brilliant attacking move ... " says GM Neil McDonald.  (And I agree.)   

     [ White could also play:  </= 15.Rad1, ('!')  "+/="   (Maybe - '')  {Diag?}   
        (with a very solid advantage for White); although this is not as effective   
         as the continuation that was chosen in the game here. ]   

 

 15...dxe5[];  {box}   {See the diagram given ... just below, here.}   
Naturally ... this is the only move for Black in this position. 

 

"Of course, if 15...Bxe5; 16.Qf7+, would soon be fatal for the Black King."   
  - GM Neil McDonald.   

The above is probably true, but after  15...Bxe5??;  wouldn't it be better to play  16.Qf8+!,   
 followed by a very speedy mate?  ( - LM A.J. Goldsby I )    

 

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  r1b1k1nr/1p4p1/p3pb2/4p2p/2qN4/2N1BQ2/PPP3PP/R4RK1  

 

Structurally speaking - White is not risking much ...   
I cannot envision Black winning any kind of endgame given the current pawn skeleton.   

 

     [ Of course not:  
        </= 15...Bxe5??;  as White would simply play  
        16.Qf8+! Kd717.Rf7+ Ne7;  {Diagram?}  
        (The only legal move for Black.)  

        18.Qxe7#.  (Or 18.Rxe7#.)  ]   

 

Now {logically} White follows up the idea - expressed within his last move.  
 16.Ne4!,   (Of course!)     
"The Knight enters the fray, with an immediate threat of  17.Nd6+,  winning the Black Queen."   
  - GM Neil McDonald     

 

     [ After the moves:   
        </=  16.Nb3!? Qg4!17.Qxg4 hxg418.Rad1,  "+/="  
        White only has a very minimal advantage. ]   

 

 16...Qc7;  (forced?)    
Black has to guard the d6-square.   

     [ The moves of:   
       16...Kd8!?17.Rad1! Kc7[]18.Nxf6 Nxf6[] 
       19.Qg3! Bd720.Rd3!,  ''  (Maybe "+/-")  {Diag?}   
       represents no real improvement for Black. ]   

 

 17.Qg3!,   (PIN!!!)    {See the diagram ... just below here.}    
First White pins the Black e-pawn, to prevent Black from playing PxN.  

Secondly White threatens e5 and g7 ... and also has Qg6+ in the air as well.   
(Thanks to the White Knight on e4, Black can never play block this check with his Queen.) 
And finally, this move gains one crucial tempo, allowing White to marshal the last of his forces to the attack.   

 

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 gcg_nunn-soko-1986_pos06.jpg, 27 KB

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  r1b1k1nr/1pq3p1/p3pb2/4p2p/3NN3/4B1Q1/PPP3PP/R4RK1  

 

The current position is worthy of close inspection ... and also a diagram as well.   

 

     [ Or  17.Nb3 Bd718.Rad1, ''  with a great position for White. ]  

 

 17...Ne7;  {Box?}    
Black makes a belated attempt to finish his development, the box says that this move is forced.   
(Black is in virtual zugzwang here.) 

     [ </=  17...b6!?; ('?!')  18.Rad1, "+/-" ]   

 

 18.Rad1!!,  (center-line)    
White calmly brings all of his pieces into the game.   
This move is also laudable ... White has now prepared a virtual cascade of sacrifices!   

The computer prefers the immediate sacrifice on f6. And while this wins a lot of material, the move actually    
chosen by Nunn is deeper, more logical, and probably finishes the game much more quickly than does the   
play of 18.Rxf6!   

     [ Right after this game was played, I deeply analyzed the move of:   
       18.Rxf6!?(Probably - '!')  {Diagram?}   
        to a forced win for White. (My work was carried in several chess 
        columns and regional chess magazines.)  

             (18...gxf6; 19.Nxf6+ Kf7;  20.Nf3 Kxf6;  21.Nxe5 Qxe5;    
               22.Rf1+ Nf5;  23.Bg5+ Kg6;  24.Qxe5, "+/-") ]   

 

 18...h4;  (counter-attack)   
Black was counting on this move to save his bacon, unfortunately it is "too little, too late."    

     [ </=  18...Bd7?19.Rxf6!, "+/-" ]   

 

The next couple of moves are pretty much forced.   
 19.Nxf6+ gxf6;  20.Qg7 Rf8;    
Sokolov felt that this was forced. 
(Of course  20...PxN/d4;  was out of the question - because of the BR that is hanging on h8.)   

     [ The computer says it was a trifle better to play 20...Rg8 here. 
        But after the moves:  20...Rg8!?21.Qxf6 Nd5[];  {Diag?}   
        This is completely forced here.    

             ( </=  21...exd4?;  22.Qf7+ Kd8;  23.Rxd4+ Bd7!?;    
                24.Qf8+! Rxf8; 25.Rxf8#. )     

        22.Nxe6!,  ('' or "+/-")   {Diagram?}   
        Black's position now looks nearly hopeless. (resignable) ]   

 

 21.Rxf6! Rxf6T;  {Box!}   
Due to the threat of RxR/f8+, Black has no time to capture on d4 here.   

 

 22.Qxf6 Qd6[];  (ugh)    
Although this is not pretty - and one writer {falsely} condemned it as "the losing move" - poor Andrei really   
had no choice here. (The move of: 22...Qd6; is completely forced here, and his the first choice of Fritz 8.0    
after over 5 minutes. The second choice of  22...Nd5?;  is even worse ... Fritz values this move as being    
worse than ...Qd6 by over two full points.)    

     [ According to the computer, it is much worse for Black to play:    
        22...exd4?23.Qh8+ Kd7 24.Rxd4+ Nd525.Qg7+ Ke8  
        26.Qg8+ Kd727.Qf7+ Kc6 28.Rc4+ Kd629.Qf8+! Qe7  
        Unfortunately for Black, this is completely forced.    
        (Not 29...Kd7?; 30.Qg7+!)      

             ( Even worse would be:    
               </= 29...Ne7?;  30.Bf4+ e5;  31.Rxc7 Kxc7;  32.Qxe7+,    
               as it leads directly to mate. )      

        30.Bc5+ Kd731.Bxe7 Nxe7 32.Rd4+ Nd533.c4,  ("+/-")  {D?}   
        with a completely won position for White, and one that does not require    
        a lot of expertise to appreciate.   

  *****************************************************************************      

        {also} Bad for Black would be:   
         </=  22...Nd5?23.Qh8+ Kd7;   24.Nf3 Qxc225.Nxe5+ Kd6 {Diagram?}   
         This is pretty much forced.   

              ( Or if 25...Kc7 ; then 26.Rc1, "+/-"  (Black loses the Queen to a pin in the file here.). )    

        26.Nf7+ Ke727.Qd8+ Kxf728.Rf1+ Qf5[]{Diagram?}  
        This is forced, if Black does not give back the Queen, he will be mated very rapidly.    

              ( </= 28...Kg6?;  29.Qg8+ Kh5;  30.Qg5#. )   

        29.Rxf5+ exf530.Qxd5+,  "+/-"  (and) White has an easily won game. ]   

 

 23.Bg5!,  (Maybe - '!!')     
White "piles on" the pressure. 

     [ Also possible was:  23.Qh8+!? which will also win for White. ]  

 

 23...exd4;  {box}    
Once more, this is forced. (The alternatives are at least twice as bad, says the computer.)   

  "There was no longer any hope." - GM Neil McDonald.    

 

     [ According to Fritz, it is even worse for Black to play:   
        </=  23...Kd7?!; ('?')   24.Qg7 exd4 25.Rxd4 Qxd4+26.Qxd4+ Nd5[]   
        This is pretty much forced. 

             ( Or 26...Ke8;  27.Qh8+ Kd7;  28.Qh7,  "+/-"  {Diagram?}   
               and the Knight is also lost. )    

       27.c4,  "+/-"  {Diagram?}  with a won game for White. ]   

 

 24.Rxd4 Nd5;  (hmmm)   {See the diagram - just below here.}    
This is nearly forced here, Black correctly reasons that if he gives up the Queen, he may as well resign anyway.  

 

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  It is basically now  ...  "WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN."  What's the killer move?  (gcg_nunn-soko-1986_pos07.jpg)

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  r1b1k3/1p6/p2qpQ2/3n2B1/3R3p/8/PPP3PP/6K1  

 

It is almost time for White to administer  ...  "the coup de grace."   

 

     [ Black can avoid mate by:   
       </=  24...Qxd4+25.Qxd4 Nf5 26.Qh8+ Kf727.Qh7+ Kf8;    
        28.g4 hxg329.hxg3 a5{Diagram?}    
        Black must play something.   

             ( </=  29...Nxg3?;  30.Qh8+! Kf7;  31.Qf6+ Kg8;      
                32.Bh6 Nf5;  33.Qg6+ Kh8;  34.Bf4, "+/-"  {D?}    
                And it is mate in two. )     

        (But after)  30.g4,  "+/-"  {Diagram?}   he has to shed even more material.   

    *******************************************************************    

        Black also loses after:    
        (</=)  24...Qc525.Qh8+! {Diagram?}   
        This is definitely the most accurate move in this position.    

             ( GM N. McDonald only gives:    
               </=  25.b4!? Qc7??; {Diagram?}    
               Black had to capture on d4 ... it was the only move to avoid mate!     

               26.Qh8+ Kf7;  27.Rf4+? Nf5;  28.Qh7+,  "+/-"  {Diagram?}     
               and Black wins the Queen. )      

         Now according to the computer, all of the remaining moves are completely forced.   
         25...Kf726.Qh7+ Ke8 27.Qh5+ Ng6{Diagram?}   
         Its a mate in five, regardless.   

              ( Or  27...Kf8;  28.Bh6+ Kg8;  29.Qg4+,  and a mate in 3. )     

        28.Qxg6+ Kf829.Bh6+ Ke7 30.Qg7+ Ke831.Qg8+ Qf832.Qxf8#. ]    

 

 25.Rxd5!,  ("+/-")   
Black resigns ... meaningful resistance is no longer possible. 

     [ White wins ... the proof? 

        25.Rxd5! Qxd5{Diagram?} 
        Seemingly the only move that Black can play in this position.  

             ( Or if: 25...exd5;  then  26.Qxd6,  ("+/-")   

          ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **       

               The box points out that Black can struggle on   
               for a few more moves here with:   
               (>/=)  25...Qb6+;  26.Kh1 Qc7;  27.Qg6+ Kf8;  
               28.Bh6+ Ke7;  29.Qg7+ Ke8;  30.Qf8#. )   

        26.Qe7#. ]   

 

A truly brilliant destruction of the Black position by  GM John Nunn.  
(It is also a vivid lesson about the dangers of ignoring your development.) 

This game (Game # 05, page # 45); can be found annotated in the  FANTASTIC  book:   
"CHESS: The Art of Logical Thinking, (from the first move to the last),"  by  GM Neil McDonald.   
Copyright () 2004, published by Batsford books. ISBN: # 0-7134-8894-8  
{A comment and sometimes a variation ... after every single move!!!}  

 

Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2005. All rights reserved. 

 

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This game was analyzed and prepared with the program,  ChessBase 8.0.  (I also used several programs to check spelling of the text.)   
(As of June, 2005 ... I now have ChessBase 9.0 as well.)  

The diagrams were specifically prepared with the very useful program,  Chess Captor 2.25. 

The original HTML document was created with "Liquid Metal," and finished and refined with  Microsoft  "Front Page."   
 (I also used a program to verify the HTML code ... and check it for any possible errors.) 


This is a game that I worked on for a very long time. 

I first saw this game ... in a magazine, shortly after it was played. However, I truly did not (fully) appreciate this game until I had studied it with GM Neil McDonald's excellent notes. After going over this game at chess club, I just knew that I had to put it on my website.  

I spent about 2-3 weeks annotating this game on my computer, however, I obviously did not work on it full time. (Usually an hour a day, a few days - it was a whole lot more than this.) Then, after meticulously checking my work with several different analysis engines, it was time to get started on building the web page. After putting together the basic HTML lay-out of the page, I transferred the analysis to this page, and began the process of formatting it. (As you may know, especially if you are a fan of my web pages, I require that a web-page be both neat AND attractive.) This formatting phase took over a month, but I will freely confess that I did not work on it very day, but only worked on it about half- an-hour at a time, during this part of the project. (This part of building a web page is somewhat tedious.)  
(So I only do it a little at a time, and spread it out over a fairly long period ... unless it is an extremely important project.)  

Then - I had to finish it, polish it, check the spelling and make the diagrams. Then I had to update the links, post it ... and I am done. 


   Return  to my  Directions Page, or  return  to my page for the  "Games List."   [Home Page, for this site.]  

   Go (or return)  to the main (home) page of my big  Geo-Cities  web-site(Was here.) 

   Go (or return)  to my  GC page  on the  best chess players  of all time.  

   Go (or return)  to my  GC page  on some of the  best chess games  that were ever played.  

   Check out  some more annotated games. (Page 1 of my  "Annotated Games"  on my GC website.)   

   Take a look at  some of the annotated games ... on the main page of my "Down-Loads"  website 

   Visit  my big  "Angel-Fire"  website, and take a look at a few of the  annotated games  that are there.  

  *************************************************************************  

     Final  posting on: Saturday; July 02, 2005.   (Contact me ... about this analysis.)   

   This (web) page was actually created in (mid)  May, 2005.     This page was last updated on 05/30/13 


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I 

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, and A.J.'s Enterprises.  

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2013.  All rights reserved.  


  (This game was previewed by about 10 people.)

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