David Marshall vs. Tom Green

bishop on a green and buff board

This game from the 1981 Golden Knights Semifinals section 5 was published in Chess Life (July 1983) with notes by National Master Alex Dunne:

This month's column demonstrates that postalites can play excellent chess regardless of their ratings. Given enough time, lesser-rated players can find master-related moves. Fifth World Correspondence Champion Hans Berliner once commented on postal chess: "It is just as if we are playing a tournament game that is adjourned after each move." By using the adjournment to analyse, calculate, and plan the best riposte, works of beauty can be created.

Rob Salgado, the 1975 Golden Knights champion, has this suggestion for postalites about how to use that "adjournment" time:

Don't just wait until you get a postcard to sit down and work out a move. Set aside a sheet of paper with your opponent's name on it, and whenever you're in the mood, record your thoughts about the position in pencil.

This method has several advantages, one of which is that you don't have to wait for a postcard if postal chess is on your mind! Besides reducing the amount of analysis you will hae to perform in the relatively short time after you receive your opponent's move, it really adds a dimension to your thinking when your ideas are allowed to ripen awhile in your subconscious.

Also, your approach will be more relaxed without the immediate pressure of having to make a reply. You can amend your lines as your understanding deepens.

Our Game of the Month features David Marshall of Kansas City, Missouri, taking on Thomas Green of Austin, Minnesota, in a melee that finds Black overwhelmed by too many surprise "sealed moves."

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5
Part of the mystique of postal chess is the treatment of the opening. Book lines, the distilled wisdom of the masters, are almost certainly the strongest moves available; thus, the player with the better library has an advantage. Scholars, researchers, and those who put their trust in other players' ideas search for the previously played moves instead of striking out on their own. The adventuresome might try the lesser known 6 a4, 6 h3, or 6 Qf3 in an attempt to exhaust his opponent's books, but the true believer will have information on even those lines.
6 ... e6 7 f4 Be7 8 Qf3 Qc7 9 0-0-0 Nbd7
So far the game has followed standard book lines. From this position the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings lists 140 master games and much analysis. How can the postalite choose among the many lines? One way is to select the most analysed line (usually the last column), but the more ambitious postalite looks for old lines not tested for many years, lines dismissed with little or no analysis. Or, the postalite chooses a move that he thinks may rehabilitate a variation previously thought inferior because he has an improvement in mind.
10 Kb1?!
ECO gives Black the advantage after this move. To play such a move, the White player must have planned an improvement, run out of book, or have had a great deal of confidence in his chess skill.
10 ... b5
Black faithfully -- and who can fault him? -- follows established lines.
11 Bd3 b4 12 Nce2 Bb7 13 g4
Here is White's "improvement." The only listing in ECO is 13 Rhe1, when 13 ... h6! 14 Bxf6 Bxf6 15 Qe3 Qc5 16 Qg1 g5 17 Nb3 Qxg1 18 Rxg1 Bd8 led to advantage for Black in Troianescu-Fischer (Netanya 1968). The player who slavishly follows the book is now faced with a position unlike published analysis. Thus are innovations, for better or worse, born, and both players are thrown on their own resources.
13 ... h6 14 Bxf6 gxf6
Black should play 14 ... Bxf6 15 h4 0-0-0, with a difficult struggle. But Black's two Bishops should offer him equality at the very least, rendering White's innovation harmless. After 14 ... gxf6, White has play against Black's weakened pawn structure.
15 Ng3 Nc5 16 Rhe1 Rc8
Black, naturally, would like to attack using the c-file as a base of operations, but safer would be 16 0-0-0!?, followed by ... Kb8 and Rc8, safeguarding the King. With the Black King stuck in the center, White will plan to engineer a central explosion; Black should try to steer toward a favorable endgame.
17 Qe2 Rg8 18 h4 Kd7?!
Black seeks safety for his King, but his King is more exposed on d7 and e8 -- there is no easy escape to the Queenside. Black's game is already difficult because he can undertake no active plan: 18 ... Nxd3 19 Rxd3 d5?! 20 exd5 Bxd5 21 Ndf5! is too strong for White.
19 Nf3 Na4?!
Black misses his last opportunity to get into the game by 19 ... Nxd3, simplifying and forcing 20 cxd3 because 20 Rxd3 allows 20 ... Rxg4! 21 Ne5+ fxe5, when White cannot take the Rook. Now the game of maneuvering becomes a tempest with White's open invitation to battle, 20 e5.
20 e5 Bxf3
Black strives to keep the game closed (20 ... dxe5?? 21 Bb5 mate!) and to simplify by killing a White piece.
21 Qxf3 d5 22 Nf5! Nc3+
Suddenly an explosion occurs on the Queenside. Over the board, such a surprise might be devasting, but with enough time to work through the complications, White finds the way to put away his higher-rated opponent.
23.bxc3 bxc3 24 Bb5+!
This sacrifice is especially pretty, being both line-closing (the b-file) and line-opening (unmasking the d-file) at the same time. Black cannot refuse the sacrifice because 24 ... Kd8 25 Rxd5+! exd5 26 Qxd5+ Bd6 27 Nxd6 axb5 28 exf6! leaves him defenseless.
24 ... axb5 25 Rxd5+! Ke8
The Rook is immune: 25 ... exd5 26 Qxd5+, and now either 26 ... Ke8 27 exf6 or 26 ... Bd6 27 exd6 exposed Black to an unstoppable onslaught.
26 Nd6+ Bxd6?!
Discouraged by the whirlwind, Black fails to find the best defense. After 26 ... Kf8 27 Nxc8 exd5 28 Nxe7 Qxe7 29 Qxc3, White has much the better ending, but Black can fight on.
27 exd6 Qd7 28 g5!
White continues the attack, loosening the pawn formation that defends Black's King. After an eventual f4-f5, Black will be unable to defend by ... e6-e5 if his base on f6 is destroyed. The end is near.
28 ... Kd8 29 Rd3 fxg5 30 fxg5 hxg5 31 Qf6+ Ke8 32 Rxe6+
Elegant to the last -- White winds up with a final sacrifice.
32 ... fxe6 33 Re3 1-0

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1996 Thomas A. Green

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Updated
15 July 2009