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Swamp 1
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Also by Alex  Swamp2, Swamp3, Swamp4, Swamp5, Enter Swamp 6! Members Guide to France, Alex's French Chess Dictionary

Alex Bourke demonstrates how a propensity for chaos can sometimes net a big scalp ...

In Chess for Tigers, Simon Webb explains that when you are massively outgraded, your best chance is to complicate.  On swampy ground, a heffalump is as likely to get out of his depth as you are.

White: Alex Bourke, Kings Head (E150)
Black: Nevil Chan, Drunken Knights (180, has been 200)
November 1998

1. e4 Nc6

Much safer than 1…c5.  Mr Heffalump knows that in violent openings, a bunny can sometimes get lucky.

2. d4 e5

Now 3.de, Nxe5 and …Bc5 is risky.  Black probably plays that every week. Let's just go for a lock down and hope to draw.

3. d5 Ne7
4. Bd3 Ng6
5. Be3 …

Preventing …Bc5 and preparing to castle Q-side

5. … Bb4+
6. Nd2 Nf6

Probably the losing move, but would you have seen Ba5-b6?  Now I must take advantage of the exposed B and nail black's trunk to the deck before he finishes developing.

7. c3 Ba5
8. Qa4 …

A natural tiger move.  There's no clear win, but with O-O-O and d6 possible,
and Bb6 ruining Black's position, we're heading for the swamp.

8. … c6

9. Nc4 …

Into the swamp!  White threatens Nd6+ and Nxa5.  Black has to deeply analyse

9… b5 not knowing whether White would reply with 10.Qxa5 or the murky 10.Nd6+, Kf8 (10…Ke7 invites the outrageous queen sac 11.Bc5, bxa4; 12.Nf5+, Ke8;

13.Nxg7 mate)

11.Qa3, which is hairier than a fight between Speelman, Mestel and

a wookie with alopecia.  Mr Heffalump wants to K.I.S.S. (kiss it simple stoopid) and later slowly strangle de wabbit, so chooses the safer looking.

9. … Bc7
10. d6 …

No chance, Jumbo.  Now 10… Bb8; 11 Bb6 or Nb6 is awful, so Black must plunge deeper into the gator infested Everglades.

10. … b5
11. dxc7 Qe7

Not Qxc7; 12.Qxa5 winning a piece.  The drunken knight was knocking back pints, confident he faced a sheep in wolf's clothing.  To snag a cocky heffalump, leave a tempting trail of yummy buns all the way to the quicksand.

So, what is the most tigrine move now, Qa3 to simplify drawwards, or the innocent Qb3, apparently to guard c4 and keep a Q for the action?  Take a minute to see if you can find a sting in the tail for either move.

12. Qb3 bxc4
13. Qb8!! …

The wulluf pulls off his mask to reveal neither wool nor long ears but … a lucky stripey tigger!!  Here I'm giving up two passive pieces to a pawn to clear a line for a major piece to crash onto the back rank.  Remember this theme, it might happen again!

13. … cxd3
14. Qxa8 O-O
15. Qxa7 Nxe4

Jumbo has survived with a safe king and a dangerous centre.  White must develop, simplify and queen a pawn.

16. O-O-O Nf4
17. Bxf4 exf4
18. Nf3 c5
19. Rhe1 d5
20. Rxd3 Be6

Black threatens … Rc8 to win the pawn.  White could sac the exchange to kill the black attack and hope the a-pawn wins, but the nuclear option is so much more fun.  White now has a spectacular continuation that is too complex to analyse properly.  Here are some clues. White's rooks are locked out of the attack. Suppose the d-file were open. Suppose the pawn at c7 could queen at c8 or d8, opening the seventh rank with a discovered attack on black's queen. Consider the chances for a back rank mate.  Imagination is the key to combinations. See if you can work out what happens next. Don't eliminate anything, no matter how crazy.  This is your chance for glory with the entire pub watching. 

Position after 20. ... Be6

"What would Tarantino play now?"

PLEASE STOP! Don't scroll if you want to work out the above question first!!!

Position after 21. Rxe4!

21. Rxe4! dxe4
22. Rd8! exf3

The same theme as 13.Qb8, remember?  White sacs two more passive pieces to
clear a line.  22…Rxd8; 23.c8=Q looked winning in all lines.  Later I found
23…,Qf8 or Qe8; but then 24.Qxd8,Qxd8; 25.Ng5 is promising.  (a year later,
one of the club''s strongest players found the bust 23..., Qd6! ouch!)  The
point is, in a truly swamptastic position, you analyse what you can then go with your gut feel and work out the rest if you need it, which in this case I didn't. If it's winnable, you'll win, if not you would have lost anyway against a heffalump, but this way you get to have a lot of fun and you may get lucky. After 22… exf3, Black threatened …fg and …Bc8 and was confidently slurping his trunk in his fourth pint.

23. c8=Q!! …

Nya, what's up Jumbo?  A rootin' tootin' second queen offer which must also be declined.  Yeeha!

23. … Qxd8
24. Qxd8 Rxd8
25. gf Rc8

Nellie is mired up to the tusks and all we have to do is make the time control.

26. a4 g5
27. Qb7 c4
28. Qe7 h6
29. a5 Ra8
30. Qc7 Kh7
31. Qe5 Kg6


32. Qe4+ resigns

If you haven't read it, may I suggest you head for the nearest bookshop and get Chess for Tigers, the greatest chess book for club players ever written. And if you ever see Simon Webb - he's the one with the stripey tail and ferocious grin with legions of small tigers workshipping at his paws - buy him a pint for me.

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Position after 20. ... Be6

"What would Tarantino play now?"



Position after 2. ... e5

Position after 6. ... Nf6

Position after 8. Qa4

"A natural tiger move"




















Position after 9. ... Bc7












Position after 13. Qb8!!

Position after 15. ... Nxe4

"Jumbo has survived with a safe king and a dangerous centre.  White must develop, simplify and queen a pawn."
































Position after 22. Rd8!

Position after 23. c8=Q!!

Position after 25. ...Rc8

Position after 30. ... Kg6


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