09 November 2011

Learning from Greco

Gioacchino Greco was a chess teacher four centuries ago. The small selection of his games, likely created as lessons rather than a record of actual games, serve as a useful primer in chess tactics. The ChessBase online database contains eighty-three such games, including quite possibly the first smother mate.

These games can be accessed via the ChessBase iPad app, and of course through any of several ChessBase programs. While ChessBase 11 offers the quickest access, and the easiest structure for saving, analyzing, and recording comments, the iPad app offers quick access from anywhere the user has a connection.

NN - Greco,Gioacchino [C30]
Europe, 1620

1.e4 e5 2.f4 f5 3.exf5 Qh4+ 4.g3 Qe7 5.Qh5+ Kd8 6.fxe5 Qxe5+ 7.Be2 Nf6 8.Qf3 d5

This position appears to me to be the first of several critical positions. I do not like 9.g4, Greco's move, and would favor moving the d-pawn forward. No analysis engine is available within the Chessbase app, forcing me to rely upon my own resources. I like 9.d3 to bring the dark-squared bishop into play, and perhaps find security for the king by castling that direction.

By calling up Greco's games in ChessBase 11, I was able in less than five minutes to create a PGN database of his games in my Dropbox folder, and then open this database in tChessPro, another iPad app. That app has a built in chess engine.

The tChess Pro engine likes Greco's move better than I do, but agrees with my assessment that after 9.g4 h5, White should thrust the g-pawn another square forward. For the record, Rybka 4 prefers 9.d4.

9.g4 h5 10.h3 hxg4 11.hxg4 Rxh1 12.Qxh1 Qg3+ 13.Kd1 Nxg4 14.Qxd5+ Bd7 15.Nf3

White's play offers a series of instructive inaccuracies. After this final error, checkmate is forced.

15...Nf2+ 16.Ke1 Nd3+ 17.Kd1 Qe1+ 18.Nxe1 Nf2# 0–1

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