Best DDG Games of 1997

Trends in the DDG (1997)? Hardly. Just six nice games played in 1997 -- DDGer's Digest perhaps. I use the word "best" only because the games represent many fresh ideas and wild attacks.

The games are short -- four 15-22 movers, two 30-34 movers -- but still equal fights where both sides have their chances. Only one game can be considered a one-sided quick kill: de Vathaire's knockout over my Keres Variation. And that was supposed to be one of the most critical variations for White!

Four of the games were played in the Internet: two in e-mail tournaments (time control 3 days for a move), one blitz at ICS, and one was a friendly e-mail game. The rest two games are from standard OTB tournaments (time control 90 + 90 minutes or so). Is the DDG becoming more serious?

All the games are "pure DDG", offering the sacrifice of the f-pawn: 3... dxe4 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. f3. This could be called the Orthodox DDG! I have to admit that I respect the f3-move more than the strategical alternative Nge2. The following variations were played:

The games are analysed in depth, either by the player of White pieces, or by me, added with his comments. Only the crazy game by Brause is without comments: I did not even try to understand it.

Ortwin Pätzold - Mark Smits
IECG, May 1997, draw in 19

The most tense DDG game ever, reminding of films of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir DDGs): two men point guns at each other's head. Who will shoot first? Unfortunately, White chose the perpetual check just when the fireworks should have started.

Who said that correspondence games have to be dull?

Thomas Erben - Jyrki Heikkinen
corr., October 1996 - April 1997, 1-0 in 30

White's king is in a bit dangerous territory on d2, but the half-open f- and g-files decide the game for White. Tactics are quite extraordinary: Black has 3-5 pawns for his bishop.

This was my longest game in the DDGA'96, and the only one I lost. The reason I like to present this game is not (only) to convince everyone how brilliantly White had to play to beat me, but because I really enjoyed the game, despite the result. Moreover, I still do not know how Black should have defended.

Ramon Etxeberria - Rikardo Amondarain
Spain, April 1997, 1-0 in 21

First Black "wins" the exchange on a1, then White sacrifices another one on f6, and creates a powerful mating attack with queen and two bishops. Black missed one chance to close the deadly diagonals.

Jeroen Cromsigt - Evert Jan Straat
Netherlands, January 1997, draw in 15

Very much like a BDG: White plays queen to h4 via e1, threatening to eliminate the knight on f6, and to mate on h7. There is a bold and beautiful exchange sacrifice. Finally, White was happy to draw in a promising position.

Michel de Vathaire - Jyrki Heikkinen
corr., March-July 1997, 1-0 in 22

Black is happy to exchange four minor pieces in the Keres Variation, which proves a poor plan. Look at that mighty White knight on f5 crushing the castled Black king!

Yet another disclaimer: I did not lose this game on purpose, and I do not try to prove that the Keres Variation is good for White. The lessons of this game were:

  1. Black can too easily underestimate White's attack. After all, the half-open f-file is dangerous.
  2. Stick to a plan that has worked before; do not try to find new refutations.
  3. Something is seriously wrong when you have castled kingside, and can only watch aside your opponent moving all his pieces there.

Brause - MeWithMyself
ICS blitz, July 1997, 1-0 in 34

Brause is still the world's number one DDG player, both in the number of games, and considering the playing strength. Here Black creates a fascinating attack, including several sacrifices, but White defends bravely like a machine. MeWithMyself is not me, but the nickname of someone (rating over 2000), namely anonymous, at ICS.