Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Ruth Opening

It is probably not known today that the American junior chess champion in the 1950s, Saul Philip Wachs, (thanks for the middle name, Mr. Gaige!) visited Israel in 1955. The details of the trip were given by him in an interview to Davar, published Jan. 20th, 1956.

Saul Wachs. Photo Credit: Davar, Jan. 20th, 1956.
Wachs, the interview tells us, visited Israel as part of an intensive four-month learning tour as part of his training as a teacher. He is quite positive about Israel in general and chess in Israel in particular. He notes that he played in one serious tournament (the Jerusalem club's Hannukah tournament), three blitz tournaments, and... gave ten simultaneous exhibitions. In particular he notes -- correctly -- that Israel was developing a new generation of younger players who are challenging the "old guard" of players who were born and raised in Europe. He is especially impressed by the large number of female players, noting that in the USA one hardly ever 'sees a skirt in a chess club.' He adds, no doubt to his interviewer's delight, that the chess columns in the Israeli press are 'on a high level' and that if only 'the Israeli ministry of education and culture would pay attention to chess', Israel will have great chess success.

These niceties concluded (Wachs doesn't forget to mention some of his co-students are thinking of making aliya and emigrating to Israel, a statement that at the time was more or less expected as a formality from any Jewish visitor to the country) the interview concludes with a game between Wachs and Rosenberg in the Jerusalem tournament. Unsurprisingly, the game isn't found in "standard" databases. It is interesting that what later became known as the Trompowsky opening is named by Wachs as an opening system 'associated with William Ruth'.

Wachs,Saul - Rosenberg [D01]
Hannukah Tournament, Dec. 1955
(Annotations: Saul Wachs)

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 this opening system is associated with William Ruth, a veteran master in the USA.  Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bf5 6.Bg5 Nc6 Prevents White's e4, but White can exploit the knight's awkward place and gain the advantage. 7.Bxf6 exf6 8.e3 Bb4 9.Bd3 Bg6 10.Nge2 Qe7 11.Qd2 0–0–0 12.a3 Ba5 13.b4 Bb6 14.Kf2 Bxd3 15.cxd3 g5 16.Rhb1 Nb8 17.a4 c6 18.a5 Bc7 19.b5 h5 20.a6 b6 21.bxc6 Nxc6 22.Nb5 Bb8 23.Rc1 Kd7 24.Nec3 Qe6 25.Re1 Bxh2 26.e4 Ne7 27.exd5 Qf5 28.Qa2 Threatens 29. d6 or 29. Qa4.

It's not often one sees an isolated triple pawn...

28...g4 Better was 28. ... Ke8. 29.d6 Bxd6 30.Nxd6 Kxd6 31.Qa3+ Kc7 32.Rxe7+ Rd7 33.Rc1 gxf3 34.gxf3 Due to time pressure White missed 34.Nb5+ Kb8 (34...Kd8 35.Nd6! winning instantly) 35.Qd6+! Rxd6 36.Rb7+ Ka8 37.Nc7# 34...Kd8 35.Rxd7+ Qxd7 36.Nb5! Re8 37.Qd6 1–0

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