Thanks for your analysis. I'd like to insert this game into the
USBCA's revived Challenger magazine with your annotations. Along with
featuring Chris's book and a game analyzed by Tyson, this would give
our folks a look at your teaching and excellent writing style as well.
Perhaps, afterward I can include a link to your recorded lessons.
Since this does serve as a memorial in view of Mr. Thacker's passing,
it could stand in the place where I will normally include analysis
from New In Chess.
Again, thanks for analyzing this game. It's going right into my chess library.
All the best in chess,
On 5/16/22, eric.che.martin@xxxxxxxxx <eric.che.martin@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Thanks very much for this analysis Paul.
I never talked to Steve, but now I have experienced a bit of his mind.
I feel I learned some key lessons here, especially about getting the king
and his royal shield involved to take pressure off your attacking units.
I ran across some of your teaching materials last year when I jumped into
learning chess, but at the time I didn't have the experience needed to
properly pick up what you were laying down.
Is there a repository of some of your game analyses online anywhere? I
found several of the Skype recordings you guys did, but I find overall the
analysis of games to be a more efficient use of chess study time.
I particularly like your analysis, the thoughts are creative and well
written, and to the point.
Not bad for a aging, Bio-Organic Thinking Unit.
From: usbca_chess-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx <usbca_chess-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Behalf Of Paul Benson
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2022 2:58 AM
To: USBCA <usbca_chess@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [usbca_chess] Fighting To The Last
I went looking online for some games of Steve Thacker and found 3 events.
Tournoi Skype 21A, 22A, and 24A offer a total of 18 games.
One game just, "Jumped Off The Page", and the decision to add some
annotations and post was immediate.
Hopefully the game below will offer a flavour of how Steve competed, not
just on but also off the chess board.
* * *
White: S. Thacker, TS 1600.
Black: J. Sauvaget, TS 1662.
Event: Tournoi Skype 21A, Round 6, July 2017.
Opening: English Opening, A25.
| The Tournoi Skype time-control is all moves in 105 minutes.
That 1600 TS rating is an estimate, given to all newcomer to Tournoi Skype
Group A, those entering Group B are given an estimated 1000 TS rating.
You might have noted the result is not given in the game header, this is
This time the reader must assess the position on merit as the moves unfold.
1. c4 e5
2. g3 Nc6
3. Bg2 d6
4. Nc3 Bd7
5. d3 Nf6
6. e3 a6
7. Nge2 Rb8
8. b3 Be7
9. Bb2 O-O
10. Qd2 Qc8
11. O-O Bh3
| So far the choices by both players of pawn structure combined with piece
development has been both quiet and fairly sensible.
No advisory rules on handling the opening have been transgressed, but on
other hand, not much to inspire the paying public to cheer.
However this, "Unspoken Mutual Pact Of Non-Interaction", cannot go on
It is black who blinks first and judges it is time for some tension to
White inn reply also feels the fight should begin.
12. f4 Bxg2
13. Kxg2 exf4
| "Imbalance Is The Mother Of Midddlegame Invention."
A couple of semi-open files have been created for potential exploitation by
Also worth considering was the plan, 14. gxf3 with the idea of, Ng3,
followed by, Kh1, then doubling rooks on the g-file.
14. ... Ne5
15. Ncd5 Re8
16. e4 Bd8
17. Rae1 c6
18. Nxf6+ Bxf6
19. Nh5 Be7
| Whether the chosen moves so far by both sides are the best is not the
purpose of annotating this game.
It is sufficient to say, white has found a plan which removes an important
defender of the black king, namely the f6 knight.
Furthermore there are opportunities for white to increase the pressure
the fight is going to occur, the kingside.
Of course, black can shuffle in the defensive ranks waiting for white to
commit units to an attack.
Each player is about to pose questions to the other, someone somewhere is
about to be out-complicated, but who?
| Setting a trap.
Fine if it fits in with a good plan, but here it is just a 1-mover with no
sensible follow up to increase the pressure on black.
Instead re-locating the somewhat misplaced h5 knight with 20. Nf4, was
20. ... Qe6
| Avoiding the disastrous, 20. ... Nxd3, apparently winning an exchange,
there would then come, 21. Qxf7+ Kh8 22. Qxg7+ mate.
| Protecting the d3 pawn but aligning the heavy white pieces on a dark
Instead, 21. Rd1 was to be preferred.
21. ... Qg6
| Highlighting the precarious position of the white h5 knight.
White decides to resort to tactics, but be aware that testing, "Tactical
Event Horizons", is a 2-way street.
22. Bxe5 dxe5
| A doubler.
Firstly, white has snatched a centre pawn, always worth having providing
there are no detrimental consequences.
Secondly, the h5 knight is now defended.
Both of the above reasons to start the tactic are valid, but they do not
take into account another important feature in the position.
23. ... Bg5
| A tripler.
Firstly, an unleashing x-ray attack from the black e8 rook hits the white
Secondly, the black g5 bishop attacks the white e3 rook.
Thirdly, the lateral defence of the white e5 queen to the h5 knight is
White is in trouble, material must be conceded, the only question is which
unhappy variation to select.
| The alternative line was equally unpalatable, assuming black would have
Instead, 24. Nf4 Rxe5 25. Nxg6 hxg6, black emerges a piece up for a pawn,
24. ... Rxb8
25. Nf4 Bxf4
26. Rxf4 Re8
27. Ref3 Re6
28. Rf5 Rf6
29. d4 Rxf5
30. Rxf5 f6
| Time to take stock.
Grand Master versus Grand Master, this is a clear win for black, just
careful technique required.
But does a club player possess that careful technique?
If not, perhaps white has an outside chance of salvaging something from the
Maybe so, but this places the onus on white to find the best chances to
confuse black into missing out.
The initial consideration in earning a win for black is to centralise the
king, meaning the plan of, Kf8 - Ke7 - Kd6, makes the task simpler,
re-locating the queen for aggressive action can wait.
31. Kf3 Qe8
32. d5 cxd5
| White makes some progress.
The passed d-pawn must now be blocked by a member of the black royal
This task should be taken up by the king in order for the queen to get in
amongst the white pawns.
33. ... Qd7
34. Ke3 Qd6
35. Kd3 g6
36. Rf2 Kg7
37. Rd2 b5
| This pawn would do a much better job on the b7 square, now the white rook
can invade on the c6 square.
And again, centralising the black king to blockade the white passed d--pawn
is absolutely necessary, after which the black queen would have freedom to
invade the white position.
38. Rc2 Qd7
39. b4 f5
40. Rc5 fxe4+
41. Kxe4 Qf5+
| Opening up the position should favour the black queen, but only if the
black king was in position to blockade the white passed d-pawn.
42. Kd4 Qf6+
| Trying to snatch a couple of pawns with, 42. ... Qf2+, would permit the
white pawn to advance to d6, to be followed by Rd5, supporting the pawn
the rear, and black will be grovelling for a draw.
43. Ke4 Qe7+
| It seems black is still playing for the win, fine fighting spirit, but
without the black king assisting the defence this is virtually impossible.
Instead, 43. ... Qf5+, would question the white intentions.
If in reply, 44. Kd4, appears, there could be the mutual relief of 3-fold
repetition in the air.
44. Kd4 Kh6
45. a3 Qd7
| Puzzlement reigns.
The scoresheet is accurate, white definitely advances the d-pawn.
After trying to maximise from a technically lost position white is surely
throwing away all chances of grabbing something from the game, right?
46. ... Qg4+
| Further puzzlement.
Perhaps time is running short on both clocks?
Or perhaps the phenomenon of, "Trusting The Opponent", is drifting across
Either way, simply, 46. ... Qxd6+, and black is winning.
47. Kd5 Qf5+
48. Kc6 Qe6
| Fritz and friends could offer a strong opinion on who is better here.
Unfortunately this aging, "Bio-Organic Thinking Unit", cannot crunch out
lines like it used to in the past.
But suffice it to say white has improved his position massively since the
material imbalance arose.
With 3 active white units closely working in a concerted fashion it is
who has many problems to solve.
Instead, 48. ... Qc8 + 49. Kb6 Qd8+, sets white a tricky problem.
If white feels playing for a win is on, then, 50. Kxa6 Qxd6+ 51. Kxb5, can
black find a perpetual check or will the pawns be shuffled through?
Or after 48. ... Qc8+ 49. Kb6 Qd8+ 50. Kc6 Qc8+ is suggesting a 3-fold
repetition is on offer.
Similarly, 48. ... Qc8+ 49. Kd5 Qf5+ 50. Kc6 Qc8+ 51. Kd5, another means to
find 3-fold repetition.
49. Kc7 Kg7
| Leaving the black king stranded on h6 was wiser, meaning a queen-shuffle
move was needed such as, 49. ... Qf7+, when, 50. d7 Qe7, transposes to game
but with the black king out of the firing line.
50. d7 Qe7
| A nice touch.
This apparently time-wasting rook move is denying both the black king or
queen access to the e6 square.
51. ... Kf7
| Black continues to follow the wrong plan, hiding again with, 51. ... Kh6,
52. Kc8 Qe4
| Hitting the undefended white c6 rook.
If only clock times were available, this information would surely explain
the next few moves.
53. Kc7 Qe7
54. Kc8 Qe4
| With each player having previously side-stepped any thoughts of 3-fold
repetition, it seems both players might be agreeing this is now the best
both sides, right?
White to play apparently now, "Forgets", his c6 rook is hanging.
55. d8=Q Qxc6+
| So it reduces to queen and 4 pawns each, handshake imminent, Right?
| Had the black king been skulking on the h6 square then this would not be
check and so black could keep queens on the board.
Of course, white needed to calculate the subsequent king and pawn ending
when letting the c6 rook drop off.
56. ... Qxc7+
57. Kxc7 h5
| The white plan is now easy to find, wipe out the black queenside pawns
push a pawn to promotion.
If the black king runs queenside the white king heads kingside to wipe out
the remaining black pawns.
However a similar plan for black to achieve promotion requires the king to
invade the white kingside from a much more distant starting point.
Instead, 57. ... Ke6 58. Kb6 Kd6 59. Kxa6 Kc6 60. h3, white is playing for
zugzwang, black will soon lose the b5 pawn once the kingside becomes
blocked, a simple white win.
58. Kb6 Kf6
59. Kxa6 Kf5
60. Kxb5 h4
| Nice try, probably hoping white will spend important clock-time on
worrying about the kingside.
White is not going to be fooled so easily, queenside promotion is the
61. Kc6 hxg3
62. hxg3 Kg4
63. b5 Kxg3
64. b6 g5
65. b7 g4
66. b8=Q+ Kh3
| White now has so many ways to win, if the worst comes to the worst, just
give up the queen for the black g-pawn and promote the passed-a-pawn.
67. Qb1 Kh2
68. Qc2+ Kh3
69. Qf2 g3
70. Qg1 g2
71. Kd5 Kg3
Black resigns, 1-0.
| Question: How many of you spectating this game in real-time would have
phoned up your local Bookmaker to bet on white to win when the material
deficit was established?
Answer: Probably none?
So how did white manage to win a lost game?
It was: "Black To Play And Win", with, "Good Technique", assumed."
White simply struggled on, trying to make matters as awkward as possible
while waiting for black to take control.
You can only respond to the moves the opponent plays.
Here black failed to make good use of the king, white on the other hand,
sent him on a board-wide journey, therein the difference.
Resignation never won anything except a smile from the opponent.
* * *