Racing to victory

by Jonathan Speelman
6/16/2019 – In the 100th edition of his Agony column, grandmaster JON SPEELMAN takes a look at three games from Ph.D. in Computer Science and race car driver Guy Argo, a player who "is happiest at the chess board when hacking". | Send in your own games! Jon can always use more material from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

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Speelman's Agony #100

This column receives a telegram from the queen – or maybe Magnus Carlsen – today as it reaches its 100th edition. Many thanks to everybody who has sent games in and please do keep them coming as we move. If not to challenge Methuselah, at least onwards and upwards.

This week's games are by Guy Argo, a Glaswegian who now lives in the United States. I met Guy (through Skype) at the beginning of the year when a friend arranged for him to have some lessons with me as a Christmas present. We've continued since and I very much enjoy his fierce attacking style: a no-nonsense approach which syncs with one of his other hobbies, driving racing cars.

Guy, who is generally rated around the 1900 mark — though much stronger when he gets going — was weaning himself off the Latvian Gambit when I met him, and I've attempted to find some openings which are just as challenging for his opponents but not quite as suspect. He writes:

An undergraduate at St Andrews, I did a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Glasgow University and moved to the States in '92 after my post doc. I've now been in San Francisco for sixteen years and work as a software engineer/entrepreneur for multiple startups.

I'm Infamous for declining a draw in a simul against GM Tony Miles in an opposite-coloured bishops ending. He promptly thrashed me for my insolence. I had only been playing a year at the time.

I captained and drove both cars of The Flying Scotsmen racing team to a 1-2 finish in a 166-car 15-hour endurance race at Sears Point in '15. My other passions are pool, poker and playing board games with Gavin, my 15-year-old son.

Guy sent me a stand-out Agony game and four Ecstatic ones to choose from. 

We begin with the Agony, in which Guy had IM Elliot Winslow on the ropes but then sadly succumbed to a sucker punch. It was annotated by his opponent for the Mechanics Institute Newsletter — I've taken one beautiful variation from those notes, which I've marked as EW, and rejigged the rest myself. 

 

Guy is happiest at the chess board when hacking (to be fair, so am I). And of the three games he selected as a short list, three are hacks and one more positional. Here are one of the three and the calmer effort.

 

Click or tap the second game in the list below the board to switch games


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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.
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