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Anthony G Laster vs Ralph Gahtan
"And the First Shall Be Laster" (game of the day Oct-25-2010)
76th US Open (1975), Lincoln, NE USA, rd 8, Aug-18
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B96)  ·  1-0



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Oct-25-10  nuwanda:

love this game, one of that magic moments in life when just everything fits together perfectly...

i especially like the guy on g5, the silent hero, the unknown soldier, standing aside from the action in the center and at the queenside, no word, no move, but in the end giving the all-deciding shelter to the terminator from d1

would love to be him...

Oct-25-10  ROO.BOOKAROO: I agree with Once that it is not clear why W wants to sacrifice so many pieces so early. It turned out to be successful in this particular case, which is why the game becomes selected after the fact. But OTB, it is not clear why 11. Rhe1 is called for, leaving Nd4 exposed at this stage. Many top players could resign after losing a key minor piece. And then why 13...Qa7? when 13...e6xd5 would take the Kd5 and recover the exchange while making the Rd1-d8 move much more problematic later down the line, etc...All the sacrifices happened to work out in this unique case thanks to the cooperation of this Black, but OTB it would be difficult to justify all the preparatory moves aiming at clearing the dfile in order to allow for the final estocade of Rd1-d8. It worked here, but the odds at the level of 11. Rhe1 look pretty remote. Wonder what the engines would say. Once guessed right: "old fashioned attacking devil-may-care brio and elan", which happened to work here, but would fail in many diverging lines.
Oct-25-10  johnlspouge: < <ROO.BOOKAROO> wrote: [snip] But OTB, it is not clear why 11. Rhe1 is called for, leaving Nd4 exposed at this stage. Many top players could resign after losing a key minor piece. [snip] >

Toga gives White a jump from about +0.3P to about +1.2 P after the capture 11...Qxd4, and it evaluates the move 11.Rhe1 as within +0.1 P of its choice. The sacrifice of Nd4 appears sound.

My chessforum has instructions on how to download Toga.

Oct-25-10  whiteshark: The devil finds work for idle hands.
Oct-25-10  mrmietus: 13...Qa7? when 13...e6xd5 would take the Kd5 and recover the exchange

O lol, what about
13. .. exd5

"why the game becomes selected after the fact"
I guess that it is not imperessive to sack so many pieces and succeed.

Oct-25-10  nevski: This guy, Gahtan, must study openings theory!He played like a beginner!!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Gahtan on my nerves ...
Oct-25-10  Nullifidian: <nevski: This guy, Gahtan, must study openings theory!He played like a beginner!!!>

I am annoyed when people say things like this and then don't analyze what it is the player allegedly did wrong. It was book opening all the way up to 11. ♖he1 and I don't think we can blame Gahtan for the surprise his opponent chose to spring on him. Remember this is the earliest game in the database with this continuation.

The response, ♕xd4 is the best continuation. The only move which seems to be a genuinely game-ending mistake is 12... ♘d5, but even there I think some charity is necessary. Gahtan had no idea that his opponent's sacrifice was sound, so giving the knight back didn't seem like such a big deal at the time.

14... ♘xe5 was another inaccuracy, but here again the logic is understandable. I bet that he never thought that his opponent would sacrifice both the pawn *and* the exchange, so the logic is that he gets to pick up a free pawn and attack the opponent's queen, winning a tempo. Instead, 14. ♙f5!! turned out to be a subtle trap.

I doubt you could do better if you were in Gahtan's place, lacking both a chess engine and the benefit of hindsight.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A twist:the GOTD has a queen sac and the problem doesn't...

Queen is decoyed,the rook mates.

Oct-25-10  twin phoenix: An Awesome game!! I think 11. Rh-e1 must have been home analysis. I think it's good and can't wait to try it OTB!! Whites attack here seems very forcing for the piece.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I think Black's downfall started after <10.Bd3>:

click for larger view

This is a common enough position, occurring more than 150 times in the database, and the clear choice is 10...Bb7. This develops a piece, but more importantly disputes the h1/a8 diagonal. In the Najdorf, if Black plays ...b5 with the White queen on f3, he must always be ready for the e4-e5 push attacking his rook on a8, and it's considered best to eliminate that foolishness immediately.

<10...Qb6?!> wastes time by moving a perfectly well developed piece. Black's idea is probably the exploit the Nd4 left unprotected by 10.Bd3, but we've all seen what can happen when Black plays ...Qxd4 in such situations.

Now, I'm sure Laster's opening preparation ended here. <10...Qb6?!> is not the sort of you expect or prepare for. However, <11.Rhe1!> is certainly an easy enough move to find, bringing the rook to an effective square. It's also not difficult to see that White will recover the piece after <11...Qxd4?!>. (Again, Black should probably have played 11...Bb7, and just confessed that he lost a move.)

Now, after <12.e5>:

click for larger view

White is attacking both knight and the rook, and Black doesn't have ...Bb7 available. It's time for a shamefaced retreat with 12...Qa7 13.exf6 gxf6, when Black is a pawn ahead but faces a gruelling defensive test.

<12...Nd5?> does seems the real mistake, as has been pointed out. Black has to give back material anyway, but there's no need to do so by bringing an attacking piece to a powerful position.

13.exd6 and 13.Be4 are also interesting for White, but after <13.Nd5 Qa7> (protecting the rook) <14.f5!> is probably White's best move of the game.

click for larger view

White is simply going to tear open the position when Black has his king stuck in the center and his pieces underdeveloped. I'll be surprised if Silicon Valley can find a defense. <14...Nxe5> is probably best in that it gives us a chance to see a rare Smorgasbord, White offering pawn, rook, bishop, knight and queen in successive moves.

Oct-25-10  Chessmensch: A worthwhile question is how does dig out such an obscurity from a data base of 569,000 games?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <chessmensch> I may somewhat responsible for that, as I submitted this game to Pun Submission Page with a slightly different pun. I think the form used is better.

As to how I found the game, well, I have an interest in the US Open, and who can resist looking at an 18-move game?

Oct-25-10  RandomVisitor: Master Laster clears the d-file faster, then unloads a blaster (that was a disaster).
Oct-25-10  dzechiel: Sensational winning combination!
Oct-25-10  ROO.BOOKAROO: So, forgetting 11...Qxd4, since the Nd4 sacrifice looks justified, and I was certainly wrong and far too hasty about it (shallow calculation, it can happen), then why not 11...Bb7 to protect against 12. e5? which is another one of the critical moves to clear the d-file?
Premium Chessgames Member
  fm avari viraf: Chess is all about beauty & when it reveals, it's a delight to watch. Worthy to be the GOTD! Well, why not "And Laster shall be the First."
Oct-25-10  David2009: Excellent comments by <Phony Benoni>. I have fed the positions from move 11 onwards into Crafty End Game Trainer to see what defences it suggests for Black:

(A) After 11 Re1 the EGT replies 11...b4! which seems an excellent alternative to 11...Bb7. Now 12.Nd5 exd5 13.exd5+ Kd8 leads nowhere, which leaves 12.Nce2 Bb7 and Black seems fine.

(B) After 12 e5 the EGT suggests <Phony Benoni>'s 12...Qa7 when play might continue 13.exf6 gxf6 14.Bh4 Bb7 15.Be4 Bxe4 16.Nxe4 Rc8 17.Nxf6+ Nxf6 18.Bxf6 Rg8

click for larger view

and Black seems fine. One continuation is 19.Qh5 Rg6 20.Bd4 Qc7 21.c3 Rh6 and Black is suddenly doing very well. Of course, there may have been much better moves for White.

(C) After 13 Nd5 the EGT confidently sacrifices the exchange with Qxd5! and, playing White, I could get no more than a draw starting 14 Be4 Qxa2 15 Bxa8 d5 16 Qb3 (16 Bxd5 exd5 17 Qxd5 Qxd5 18 Rxd5 h6 leaves Black at least equal) Qa1+ 17 Kd2 Qa5+ 18 Kc1 Qa1+ 19 Kd2 Qa5+ 20 Ke2 Qc7 21 Qc3 (my Bishop is embarrassed so I decide on prudence) Qxc3 22 Qxc3 and the game was eventually drawn.

(D) after 14 f5! (and NOT 14 Nc7+? Qxc7 15 Qxa8 d5! and White has voluntarily entombed his Q) Crafty replies Nc5! Now 15 Nc7+? is still not possible and I am not clear how White should play for a win. <I'll be surprised if Silicon Valley can find a defense.> Life is full of surprises.

(E) after 15 Rxe5! even Crafty EGT cannot save the day: 15...Rb8 limps on a piece down with no compensation after 16 fxe6 Bxe6 17 Re2. After the actual move 15 dxe6!? (F) Crafty EGT loses as in the game but playing on until checkmate.

Crafty links to variations (A), through (F)) for those interested in testing these variations:







Oct-25-10  Marmot PFL: <(A) After 11 Re1 the EGT replies 11...b4! which seems an excellent alternative to 11...Bb7. Now 12.Nd5 exd5 13.exd5+ Kd8 leads nowhere, which leaves 12.Nce2 Bb7 and Black seems fine.>

11 Re1 b4 12 Nd5 ed5 13 Nc6 Nc5 14 ed5+ Kd7 15 Qh5 Kc7 16 Qxf7+ Bd7 17 Bf5 and with white having 2 pawns for the piece plus attack black looks helpless, in view of threats like Rd4-c4 or Re7 if the bishop moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I would be so happy to play a game like this! (With White, that is -- I've played the Black role many times.)
Oct-25-10  Marmot PFL: <keypusher> Anybody can play games like this with a little preparation. Read a book on opening traps, then Levy's Sacrifices in the Sicilian, maybe Vukovic's Art of Attack, play through a few games and you're ready to go. Soon you will be playing Nd5, or Bxe6, or Nf5, or Rxf6, or h4-h5, N(or B) x b5, Bxh7+ etc. without even thinking about it. At least 10% of the time you will have wins like this, plus some perpetual checks, and if you lose the rest in the ending at least you had fun. Nobody can ever say you were a coward or point grubber - you are an artist of the chess board.
Nov-30-14  franklovesguinness: I actually knew Anthony Laster before he died. He lived in the same apartment complex that I did and was a customer of my father's gas station. Interesting was definitely a good word to describe him.
May-02-15  offramp: A Laster Blast.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: Hey, Ralph! Clarkson graduate, right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: If 18...QxQc6 19.Rd8 is an Opera Mate!

Here are my recent comments w/diagrams regarding the use of the term Opera Mate to distinguish it from Morphy's Mate. L McLaren vs A Ismail, 2017

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