Bulletins December 2021

© New Zealand Chess Federation Inc 2022

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The Big Rivalry

from the April 2021 issue of CHESS monthly (UK), by Bill Forster

(Back issues can be ordered here)

In the February issue of this magazine I presented some games from an annual FIDE rated classical tournament played in Wellington, New Zealand. The Wellington Chess Club Championship is a decent little tournament, but hardly noteworthy internationally. Except in these strange times a classical over the board tournament proceeding routinely with no special provisions is at least a little bit newsworthy all by itself, when most chess fans in the world are confined to online only play.

This year, as in most years, I got to play both IM Anthony Ker and IM Russell Dive in the tournament (and like most years sadly I lost both games). When I told your editor Richard Palliser about the rather special rivalry these players enjoy he encouraged me to write it up in this article.

If I check the New Zealand and Wellington Club databases I find 78 classical rated games between the two players since 1984 when both players were teenagers (many of these games are NZ rated but not FIDE rated). Unfortunately this is by no means a complete list. The two have been active members of the same club, competing in the same club tournaments for about 30 years and only in the last 10 or so have all the games been transcribed. The 20 missing years of club games likely account for another 60+ games that I haven't given up hope of digging out of Anthony's cupboards sometime.

Anthony and Russell are very closely matched in ability. Crunching the numbers on the 78 games echoes that; I have Anthony 27 wins, Russell 26 wins and 25 draws. That's a rather low drawing percentage, and it reflects one of the things that makes this rivalrly special - Anthony and Russell are best friends, they travel to tournaments together and room together, but there is never any quarter asked or given when they play chess. A soft draw is vanishingly rare.

Brazilian IM Herman van Riemsdijk (a great friend of New Zealand chess) describes the Dive vs Ker games as New Zealand's "El Clasicos". Just as Real Madrid and Barcelona approach the game differently, Ker and Dive have very contrasting styles. It's something like Korchnoi-Karpov in miniature. It's Korchnoi the tactical dynamic pawn grabber (Anthony) v Karpov the strategic squeezing python (Russell).

For this article I thought I'd annotate a win for each player. Before I get to that here's a mini chess biography of each player.

Anthony Ker (born 1967) FIDE 2305 (peak rating 2410 January 1989), FM 1994, IM 2000. New Zealand champion or joint champion a remarkable 14 times. He has competed at eight Olympiads (1988,90,94,2000,04,06,14,18). A career highlight came early with a draw against Boris Spassky at the Plaza International tournament in Wellington in 1988. I just played over that game and it ended with Anthony a pawn up. He didn't make Spassky prove his knowledge of a rook and pawn v rook book draw. That almost surprises me, Anthony never lets people off lightly and of course he would definitely make me play that one out (and would no doubt trick me as well).

Russell Dive (born 1966) FIDE 2260 (peak rating 2448 July 1999), FM 1992, IM 1995. New Zealand champion or joint champion 7 times. He has competed at twelve Olympiads (1988,90,94,2000,02,04,06,08,12,14,16,18). A career highlight was a classy win as Black versus Armenian Grandmaster Armenian Grandmaster Anastasian at the Moscow Olympiad 1994.

Dive, Russell - Ker, Anthony

Julian Mazur Memorial 2011

1.Nf3 d6 For a long time this was Anthony's inevitable response to any first move, his Pirc addiction was total. Russell was one opponent who would never be tempted though. Russell's aversion to 1.e4 openings is legendary in New Zealand. He has only been known to play 1. e4 in one chess game of any type on any occasion. And that was in an Olympiad when the opponent had indicated ahead of time that they weren't showing up for the game so there was no danger! He does roll out 1.f4 occasionally when he feels like something a little different to 1.d4, 1.c4 or 1.Nf3. It doesn't make sense to me, but I wish I could play chess like him, so I can't argue my case from a position of strength!  2.d4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 Nd7 5.c4 e5 6.Nc3 Ngf6 7.O-O O-O 8.e4 Re8 9.d5 Nc5

Moves are clickable

This very normal looking Kings Indian position doesn't show up often in practice. My best attempt at understanding why is as follows; The main line of the fianchetto Kings Indian is 1. d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 O-O 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Nbd7 7.Nc3 e5 8.e4 Then the main moves either prevent or discourage 9.d5 (8...exd4, 8...c6) However, even when the rarer 8...a6 or 8...Re8 are played instead (the latter transposes into our game), White usually doesn't go 9.d5. The Kings Indian books I have consulted don't mention d5 for White in any of these lines. Perhaps loading the long diagonal in front of the finachettoed bishop with blocked pawns is a little bit anti-positional.  10.Ne1 a5 11.b3 Nfd7 12.Rb1 f5 13.f3 Rf8 We leave the world of known practice (just three games, one for each result in my 2200+ TWIC based database) in an approximately level position  ( Casafus (2337) - Diaz (2319), Santiago 2007 was an attractive crush for White after 13...Nf6 14.a3 fxe4 15.fxe4 Ng4 16.b4 Na6 17.Nd3 Bh6 18.Bxh6 Nxh6 19.Qd2 Nf7 20.c5 Bd7 21.c6 bxc6 22.dxc6 Be6 23.Nd5 Bxd5 24.exd5 axb4 25.axb4 Rb8 26.Nf2 Kg7 27.Ne4 Rf8 28.Bh3 Qe7 29.Be6 Nh6 30.Rxf8 Rxf8 31.Ra1 Nb8 32.b5 Rf3 33.Ra7 Rb3 34.Qf2 Rb1+ 35.Kg2 Rxb5


36.Rxc7! 1-0  ) ( Farago (2292) - Bognar (2320), Budapest 2000 on the other hand would please any Kings Indian player 13...f4 14.a3 a4 15.b4 Nb3 16.Nxa4 Nxc1 17.Rxc1 fxg3 18.hxg3 Qg5 19.Rc3 Qxg3 20.f4 Qh4 21.Rh3 Qe7 22.f5 gxf5 23.exf5 e4 24.Re3 Qg5 25.Rff3 Nf6 26.Rg3 Qh5 27.Qd4 Ng4 28.Rxg4 Qxg4 29.f6 Bh6 30.Rh3 Qg6 31.f7+ Kxf7 32.Qf2+ Kg8 33.Rg3 Bg5 34.Nc3 h6 35.Nc2 e3 36.Qe2 Bf5 37.Nd4 Rxa3 38.Qb2 Raa8 39.Ncb5 Bd3 40.Ne2 Bxe2 41.Qxe2 Ra1+ 42.Bf1 Rf8 43.Rf3 Bh4+ 44.Kh2 Rxf3 45.Qxf3 Ra2+ 46.Be2 Bg3+ 47.Kh3 Be5 48.Qxe3 Rxe2 0-1 ) 14.a3 fxe4 15.fxe4 Rxf1+ 16.Kxf1 Qf8+ 17.Kg1 Nf6 ( Stockfish really likes the 17...a4! 18.b4 Nb3 strategy from Farago-Bognar ) 18.b4 axb4 19.axb4 Bg4? Exacerbating the effect of b4 because now d7 is off-limits for the c5 knight because the g4 Bishop lacks squares  20.Qc2 Na6 21.h3 Bd7 22.g4 h6 23.Be3 g5 24.Nd3 Qe7 ( Black had the opportunity to invite some serious mayhem with 24...h5!? It would be risky, but the alternative of being slowly crushed isn't exactly inviting ) 25.Qe2! Nh7 (  Now 25...h5 can be met by  26.Bf3! keeping the Kingside firmly closed ) 26.c5


To me this looks like a classical Kings Indian where White's queenside play is well advanced but Black's mating kingside attack was stillborn due in part to the unusual presence of a staunch defender on g2. Maybe the fianchetto variation is worth a look as a way of solving my chronic Kings Indian problem? I think I've tried everything else.  26...Nf8 27.c6! The crushing process accelerates from here  27...Bc8 28.Qa2 bxc6 29.dxc6+ Be6 30.Nd5 Qe8 31.Qc2 Bxd5 32.exd5 e4 33.Nf2 Rb8 34.Qc4 Nc5 The hopelessly stranded knight was a real liability and a tactical opportunity to get it off the board is a small measure of strategic relief for Black. The trouble is there are tactical problems, but in truth the position is already hopeless for Black  35.Bxc5 dxc5 36.d6+ Qe6 37.dxc7 Re8 38.Qxe6+ Nxe6 39.Nxe4 Bd4+ Black's problem is that White's small numerical material advantage is going to include a pair of very advanced connected passers. ( eg 39...cxb4 and the prosaic  40.Nd6 leaves White up an exchange and a pawn ( Although prettier is 40.Nf6+!! anticipating the game continuation by sacrificing a piece to insist on a new queen  40...Bxf6 41.Bd5 Kf7 42.Re1 ) ) 40.Kh1 Nxc7 41.b5 Rb8 42.b6 c4


Black has organised a second attacker on b6, apparently forcing the concession b6-b7 after which the Bg2 is sad and the Nc7 is transformed from a partially en-prise liability into an ideal blockader, so that the pawns are securely blockaded at least for a while. The computer calculates a win with the sad 43. b7 and considers it just as good as the lovely 43. Nf6+. This tells you everything you need to know about whether machines are really playing chess!  43.Nf6+!! Is there a prettier move in this issue?  43...Bxf6 Else the Knight comes to d7 and ends resistance  44.bxc7!! White has to be consistent and sacrifice all three pieces  44...Rxb1+ 45.Bf1 ( Of course not 45.Kh2?? Be5# ) 45...Rxf1+ 46.Kg2


White has no pieces and Black has two but they are in a tangle. If Black could make his Bishop on f6 disappear he'd win easily (which is why the knight was sacrificed to put the Bishop on that square), but as it is there's no way to stop White promoting the first pawn and winning a rook for the second  46...Re1 47.c8=Q+ Kf7 48.c7 1-0

Ker, Anthony F - Dive, Russell J

Oceania Open Zonal 2017

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Anthony invariably plays the Panov-Botvinnik against the Caro-Kann. Russell didn't take up the opening until comparitively recently, but they have now discussed this position 5 times  5...Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Bxf3 9.gxf3 Nb6 (9...e6 Is played more often here, but it does commit Black to a wandering King. An entertaining high level encounter was Grischuk (2737) - Vidit (2689), Doha 2016  10.Qxb7 Nxd4 11.Bb5+ Nxb5 12.Qc6+ Ke7 13.Qc5+ Ke8 14.Qxb5+ Qd7 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.Qd3 Bb4+ 17.Kf1 f6 18.Kg2 Kf7 19.Bf4 Ba5 20.Rhd1 Rad8 21.Rac1 Bb6 22.Rc2 d4 23.Rdc1 Rc8 24.Qb3+ Kg6 25.Qd3+ f5 26.b4 Rxc2 27.Rxc2 Rc8 28.Rxc8 Qxc8 29.a4 Qd7 30.Qa6 Kh5 31.a5 Bd8 32.b5 d3 33.Bd2

Moves are clickable

This position may well be 0.00, but it is also much easier to play as White  33...Bg5? Is a mistake after which Grischuk solved the White to play and win puzzle and won in style  34.Qc6!! Qd4 35.f4! Bd8 36.Be3 Qb2 37.Qe8+ g6 38.Qxd8 (mate in 5)  38...Qxb5 39.Qg5# ) 10.Be3 e6 11.O-O-O Be7 12.d5 exd5 13.Nxd5 Nxd5 14.Rxd5 Qc7 15.Kb1 O-O 16.f4 Rad8 17.Bg2 Rxd5 18.Bxd5 Bf6 19.Rc1


With a wide open centre, this is not the kind of opposite sides castling position which will see mutual attacks on the king. Instead White hopes the bishop pair and c file will create queenside pressure while Black takes comfort from his better pawn structure.  19...Qd7 20.Be4 h6 ( Sadhwani (2451) - Dreev (2670), Villorba 2019, saw a super grandmaster neutralising the White pressure 20...Rd8 21.Qa4 h5 22.Qb5 Qe6 23.Qf5 Qxf5 24.Bxf5 Bd4 25.Be4 Bxe3 26.fxe3 Rd6 An almost identical position is reached at the same point in Ker-Dive, and amusingly although both games saw solidity with ...Rd6 the engine is unhappy and sees immediate equality instead through activity with ... Rd2 in both cases  27.Rc5 Re6 28.Bxc6 bxc6 29.Rxh5 Rxe3 30.Ra5 Re7 31.Ra6 Rc7 32.Kc2 Kh7 33.Kd3 Kg6 34.Ke4 Re7+ 35.Kf3 Rc7 36.b4 Kf5 37.h4 Rd7 38.Ra5+ Ke6 39.Ke4 g6 40.a3 f5+ 41.Kf3 Rd3+ 42.Kg2 Rd4 43.Kg3 Rd3+ 44.Kg2 1/2-1/2 ) 21.Qd5 Qh3 22.Qf5 Qxf5 23.Bxf5 Bd4 24.Rc4 Rd8 25.Be4 Bxe3 26.fxe3 Rd6 (26...Rd7 defending the 7th rank is better and if  27.Bxc6 bxc6 28.Rxc6 Rd2 29.Rc7 Rxh2 30.Rxa7 g5 31.fxg5 hxg5 and Black is holding his own in the race ) (26...Rd2 immediately is also okay but difficult since if  27.b4 the non-obvious  27...g5! is necessary, simultaneously creating luft and looking to advance and promote on the king side (27...Rxh2? loses  28.b5 Ne7 29.Rc7 and White is a long way ahead ) ) 27.Kc2 Through this next phase the engine wants to go ...g5 to get some counter play going on almost every move  27...Kf8 But Russell prefers to keeps a compact position and challenges his opponent to break it down.  28.b4 a6? 29.a4? (29.Bxc6 bxc6 is apparently a winning Rook ending for White ) 29...Ke7 30.b5 axb5 31.axb5 Nd8 32.Rc7+ Rd7 33.b6 This looks good, but Black is actually holding everything together here  33...Kd6 34.Rxd7+ Kxd7 35.Kc3 Kd6 36.Kc4 g5! Finally making Stockfish 13 proud, and yes still the number one engine move  37.h3 f6 38.Bg2 gxf4 39.exf4 Ne6


This is a very subtle ending, trying to understand it involved a lot of time trying to get the engine to explain its reasoning to me. Black has a powerful drawing idea, basically if the knight can sacrifice itself for the f and b pawns, Black can draw due the bishop being "the wrong colour" for the h-pawn. Providing the Black King can get to the corner of course. Sometimes this idea works, sometimes it fails because the Black King gets offside and can't get back to g8 in time and the h pawn promotes unhindered.  40.f5 (40.Bxb7? Demonstrates Black's drawing plan  40...Nxf4 41.h4 f5 42.Kb5 Ne6 43.Bc8 Nd4+ 44.Ka6 f4 45.Bg4 Nb3 46.Kb7 Nc5+ 47.Kc8 Kc6 48.b7 Nxb7 49.Bf3+ Kd6 50.Bxb7 Ke7 ) 40...Nd8 41.Kb5 Ke5? The losing move, Black's king has to stay close to home, as in the previous variation  42.Kc5! Kxf5 43.Kd6 Nf7+ 44.Kc7 Ne5 45.Bf1 ( Simpler is 45.Bxb7! as White gains a move with a check  45...Nc4 46.Bc8+ Kf4 47.b7 ) 45...Ke6 46.Bb5! Dominating the knight  46...Kd5 (46...Ke7 Is resilient. Black can try the drawing plan we've already seen, and it only fails because of a specific detail - maintaining the knight in a position to sacrifice on b7 now leaves the Black king offside and prevents it getting back to stop the h pawn despite the wrong coloured bishop. For example  47.Kxb7 Nf7 48.Kc7 Nd6 49.Bc4 f5 50.Bd5 f4 51.Bc6 Ke6 52.Kd8 Nf7+ 53.Kc7 Nd6 54.h4 Ke7 55.Bf3 Ke6 56.Kc6 Ke7 57.Kd5 Kd7 58.Be2 Ke7 59.Bg4 Nb7 60.Ke4 Nd6+ 61.Kxf4 Kf6 62.Bf3 Ke6 63.Be4 Ke7 64.Bd5 Kd7 65.Ke5 Ke7 66.h5 Kd7 67.b7 Nxb7 68.Bxb7 Ke8 69.Kf6 Kf8 70.Bd5 keeping the king out of the corner ) 47.Kxb7


47...Nf7 The only way to try to cover b7  48.Bc4+! An attractive winning tactic seals the deal  48...Kxc4 49.Kc7 Ng5 50.b7 Ne6+ 51.Kd6 1-0

Just to wrap things up nicely, the day before I wrote this article I witnessed in person an epic swindle. This time Russell was on the right side of same idea we've just seen, a desperado bishop check prevailing in that other eternal rivalry - Bishop v Knight.

Rossiter, Philip - Dive, Russell

Summer Cup 2021

Russell has been up against it but now a draw is inevitable. His opponent having spoiled a winning ending, makes what he thinks is a final winning attempt  62.Kb6??

Moves are clickable

only to fall victim to a truly vicious swindle  62...Bc7+! and the 'g' pawn queens 0-1