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Larry Christiansen vs Lawrence Gilden
"Onward Christiansen Soldiers" (game of the day Dec-23-2009)
USA (1976)
Sicilian Defense: Kan Variation. Wing Attack (B43)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-23-09  xenophon: I think we're gilden the larry a little here
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: When you see a well-played attack like this one, it can make you wonder why anyone would want to play the black side of the sicilian. I mean, white gets to attack on the kingside with mate in mind. Black usually attacks on the queenside which may or may not be where the white king is sitting.

But when you see the stats for the sicilian it starts to make more sense. According to the Opening Explorer, black wins in over 30% of the sicilians in the CG database - a better score than e5, e6 or c6.

I have a hunch that those stats hide a little secret about the sicilian. I reckon that the sicilian does relatively poorly for lower graded players, because the plans for white are generally straight-forward (mash the kingside) and the plans for black are more subtle.

The other problem with the sicilian for beginners is that white can wheel out all manner of anti-sicilian weapons and you rarely get to play the main line. The closed, smith-morra, c3, grand prix attack, etc are more usually played lower down the chess food chain in preference to the open sicilians with Nf3 and d4.

I have seen seasoned players groan when I meet their 1...c5 with 2. Nc3 and the closed sicilian. It may not be the cutting edge of theory, but it's been a faithful workhorse for me over many years.

Dec-23-09  moi: What's wrong with 9... b4, pls?
Dec-23-09  RandomVisitor: After 11.Rc4 black would have big problems to resolve:


click for larger view

Rybka 3:

<[+1.44] d=17 11...Qd7> 12.f4 Be7 13.e5 dxe5 14.fxe5 Nd5 15.Qg4 Nb6 16.Be3 Nxc4 17.Bxc4 Bc5 18.Qxg7 Rf8 19.Rd1 Qe7 20.Kh1 Bxd4 21.Rxd4 Nc6

[+1.50] d=17 11...Qa5 12.Bd2 Qb6 13.Be3

Dec-23-09  RandomVisitor: <moi: What's wrong with 9... b4, pls?>Not much if Nb1 or Nd1 is played, but white has Na2 and critical threats:

click for larger view

Rybka 3:

<[+0.85] d=14 10...Nd7> 11.Nxb4 Ngf6 12.Bd2 a5 13.Na2 Be7 14.Nc3 0-0 15.Ncb5 Qb6 16.Nb3

[+0.91] d=14 10...a5 11.Nb5 Qb6 12.Be3 Qd8 13.c3 bxc3 14.Naxc3 Nc6 15.Bf4 Rc8 16.Rad1

[+0.92] d=14 10...Nf6 11.Nxb4 Nbd7 12.Bd2 a5 13.Na2 Be7 14.Nc3 0-0 15.Ncb5 Qb6

Dec-23-09  zanshin: Instead of <19...Bb7>, Rybka 3 suggests <19...Nd7>:

Move 19, Black to play:

click for larger view

[+0.33] d=15 19...Nd7 20.fxg6 fxg6 21.Bxg6 Nxf6 22.Bxh7 Kh8 23.Rxf6 Rxf6 24.Bd3 Qa5 25.Qh5 Kg7 26.Qg5 Kf7 27.Qxd5 Qxd5 28.Rxd5 a5 29.Rb5 a4 30.Be4 Ra7 31.Rh5 Re7 32.Rh7 Kf8 (0:08.23) 87824kN

[+8.65] d=15 19...Bb7 20.fxg6 (0:10.37) 110633kN

Dec-23-09  WhiteRook48: the game was great, but the pun wasn't
Dec-23-09  zanshin: <moi: What's wrong with 9... b4, pls?>

Maybe nothing ...

click for larger view

[+0.90] d=17 9...b4 10.Na2 a5 11.Nb5 Qd8 12.Bf4 e5 13.Be3 Nf6 14.Rad1 Be7 15.f3 O–O 16.Bc4 Ne8 (0:17.55) 120597kN

[+1.30] d=16 9...bxa4 10.Rxa4 Nf6 11.Rc4 Qb6 12.f4 Nbd7 13.Na4 Qa7 14.Be3 Qb8 15.f5 exf5 16.Nxf5 g6 17.Nh6 (0:13.40) 92245kN

Dec-23-09  Jim Bartle: One of the leading British climbers of the 60s was Christian Bonington. A great guy, by all accounts, but kind of pompous in his books and on film. He was also won of the first professional climbers, when most did it just for fun.

So another climber wrote a song called "Onward Christian Bonington." It began:

"Onward Christian Bonington of the A.C.G.
If you name the mountain, he will name the fee"

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Rf7 is a brutal threat and black cannot do thing one to stop it.
Dec-23-09  patzer2: The background and history of the pun (Hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers") at may be of interest.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: As other have pointed out, there are plenty of missed opportunities in this one.

19 Qg5 would have been nice. (seeing Qh6, then Qg7#).

click for larger view

Now, after 19...Nd7 20 fxg6 fxg6 21 Qxd5+, white should pick up a couple of pawns.

click for larger view

Dec-23-09  patzer2: At is an enteresting biography of the writer of the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers."

As a cleric, prolific writer, scholar and the father of 15 children, the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould apparently sometimes had lapses of memory. < It is also told how, at a children's party he asked a small girl, "And whose little girl are you?" whereon she burst into tears, and said: "I'm yours, Daddy." This story was verified by his daughter, Joan, who said that the little girl had been herself.>

Dec-23-09  Samagonka: <gchristofer> In these daily puzzles, what does it mean if I keep getting the right ideas, but the wrong tactics?

It simply means you sre not a GM. ;)

Dec-23-09  patzer2: This is a game worthy of study for an opening set up against the Sicilian. After 3. Nf3, Christiansen maintains a clear advantage against strong defense. What I like about his opening setup is that it is easy to find strong moves for White, but very difficult for Black.

In the tactical phase, Christainsen's 16. f5! begins a near decisive assault on the weakened castled position. Even though it's a best move, 16. f5! is not likely to show up as a Sunday puzzle choice because Black may be able to survive with precise defense and a little luck after 16...dxe5.

However, the sham piece sacrifice 18. Qg4! appears to win and might be worthy of selection as a future weekend puzzle choice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <patzer2> He sounds like a fascinating man. With modern ears I winced at the apparent political incorrectness of this bit from your Wikipedia article:

"It was while acting as a curate that he met and fell in love with Grace Taylor, the 16-year-old daughter of a mill hand. He sent Grace to live for two years with a vicar's family in York to learn proper manners, then brought her back and married her in 1868"

... but then I was warmed by the rest of the story ...

"When he buried his wife in 1916 he had carved on her tombstone the Latin motto Dimidium Animae Meae ("Half my Soul")."

Dec-23-09  Julian713: <Once><I have seen seasoned players groan when I meet their 1...c5 with 2. Nc3 and the closed sicilian. It may not be the cutting edge of theory, but it's been a faithful workhorse for me over many years.>

Well the immediate point of playing 1...c5 is to challenge white's dominance of the center in a way that 1...e5 cannot achieve. The goal is to say "you may have the tempo, but I'm going to force you into a center-pawn deficiency." White playing 2.Nc3 says "so what? I'm not going to push my center pawns at first anyway." It's a very strong mindgame because 1...c5 is only effective when the white player has played d5. By developing pieces instead of playing Nf3....d5, white gains the advantage unless Black is somehow able to keep up in development (which i suspect is why the most popular response to 2.Nc3 is 2...Nc6)

That's my two cents, anyway. I have a soft spot for playing c5-d6-e5-Nc6 Sicilians, obviously not necessarily in that order but in the first few moves. Behind on development, yes, but it's surprising how few White players are able to attack the triangle of pawns being used to clog the middle.

Dec-23-09  chillowack: <Jimfromprovidence: As other have pointed out, there are plenty of missed opportunities in this one. 19 Qg5 would have been nice. (seeing Qh6, then Qg7#).

Now, after 19...Nd7 20 fxg6 fxg6 21 Qxd5+, white should pick up a couple of pawns.>

Thank you, Jim! It's refreshing to see someone contributing their own analysis, rather than computer variations.

Human analysis has begun to wane on this site, with more and more players opting to paste Rybka's thoughts instead. But to my mind, the fun and benefit of analyzing chess games really lies in coming up with your own ideas, exercising your own mind and imagination--not letting the computer do your homework for you!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Julian713> Agreed - the c5-d6-e5 formation for black does slow white down in the closed.

What white is really hoping for is for black to adopt a dragon-style kingside fianchetto with d6, g6, Bg7 and 0-0. Then we get to play Fischer's patented anti-dragon attack with Be3/ Qd2/ Bh6 / h4/ h5. Great fun ... for white at least.

More clued-up sicilian players have got wise to the quick white wins with this approach. Now they tend to play for d6 and e5, and often hold off castling to make white's rather telegraphed kingside attack seem a little silly.

In my 30 odd years of playing chess, I have seen a strange arms race develop between black and white in the sicilian. First of all, I used to play the Grand Prix attack (1. e5 c5 2.f4). Some nice quick wins followed, but then the black players got wise.

So then I switched to a delayed Grand Prix with 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5 intending a later f4. Some nice quick wins, until .. you guessed it ... black players found the antidote.

Then I discovered the "old" closed sicillian with 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 and f4. And the pattern repeated itself again ... a few quick wins followed by black fighting back.

A few years ago, I graduated to the "new" closed sicilian, with 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 followed by Be3, Qd2. And again, I had my fun for a while but the quick wins have tried up since.

If the pattern repeats itself again, I ought to look for my fifth line against 1...c5. But I think I'll stick with the closed for a while yet.

Dec-23-09  patzer2: <Once> Glad you enjoyed the article about the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould. Sending a 16-year-old girl off to serve in a minister's home to learn manners and then be married is certainly not politically correct.

However, it makes me wonder whether our modern tradition of sending 18-year-olds off to Universities where they often unlearn their parents' values, morals and manners is always an improvement. For example, I can remember a classmate and friend of mine from the sixties who crashed a motorcycle and was paralyzed for life after learning how to expand his conciousness with illegal drugs during his freshman year of College.

In the context of his times, it would appear the Reverend's plan was humane and that he and his wife enjoyed a happy, meaningful and productive life.

Dec-23-09  RandomVisitor: After <19...Nd7> 20.fxg6 fxg6 it appears that black has a playable game, but not without complications:

click for larger view

Rybka 3:

<[+0.33] d=21 21.Bxg6> Nxf6 22.Bxh7+ Kh8 23.Rxf6 Rxf6 24.Bd3 Qa5 25.Qh4+ Kg7 26.Qg5+ Kf7 27.Qxd5+ Qxd5 28.Rxd5 a5 29.b3 a4 30.bxa4 Rxa4 31.g3 Ra1+ 32.Kg2 Re1 33.Rd4 Ke6 34.Rb4 Rh6 35.Rb8 Kf7 36.h4

[+0.26] d=21 21.Qg5 Nxf6 22.Rxf6 Rxf6 23.Qxf6 Rf8 24.Qg5 Bf7 25.Qf4 Qb6 26.b3 Bd5 27.Qe3 Kg7 28.Re4 Qxe3+

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <patzer2> Agreed. Mind you, not all parents are good role models!

Have a good Christmas.

Dec-25-09  patzer2: <RV> It would appear White can avoid giving Black chances with 19...Nd7 by playing 19. fxg6! (instead of 19. Rxd4).
Jun-27-11  nolanryan: what means christiansen soldiers?
Jun-27-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @nolanryan

<Onward Christian soldiers> is an old hymn.

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