Ian Rogers is the best chess player that our nation has ever seen. He has succeeded in breaking the 2600 "Super Grandmaster" barrier in the World Rankings. Ian has played many Olympiads and I have had the pleasure of playing with him in his last two Olympiads in Moscow 1994 and Yerevan 1996. Aussies seem to raise their game at these big events and Ian is no exception. Seeing him hold his own against current World Top Tens (OK, Chucky was too tough...) is an inspiration to the rest of the team.
Ian tends to play solidly against the cream of the chess world, and boasts draws with Karpov, Anand, Spassky, Adams, Lautier, Gelfand, Timman and wins over Shirov, Short, Korchnoi, Portisch and Nunn. Unfortunately his opportunities against the chess elite are rare as they tend to play round-robin events against each other and perhaps if Ian knew he could meet these players more regularly it would be easier for him to really have a go at them.
While I don't consider Ian a theory hound, he certainly does keep abreast with all the latest games and has a broad repertoire including some relatively rare/unfashionable lines. Ian is well known in the chess world at choosing his opening specifically with the intention of exposing either a psychological (perhaps a previous painful loss) or a pure chess weakness (a misunderstanding of the position) of his opponent.
Ian is very much an opportunist and usually exudes confidence as can be seen in the following anecdote: During the Yerevan Olympiad Ian was suddenly playing 1.e4 against players who are known to play the Sicilian Najdorf and consistently bashed out the Sozin (6.Bc4). He was hoping to unleash a crushing novelty which had been played in a fairly unknown game and which he was sure worked brilliantly in all variations and would give him an easy win. Fellow team member IM Stephen Solomon was also shown the idea and was aiming to play it. Probably smelling a rat, each of their opponents avoiding the most critical line and Ian never got a chance to spring the big Novelty and draws resulted in both his Sozin games. Thank God!! Back in Sweden I enthusiastically told a friend of mine GM Ralf Akesson, who is a die hard Sicilian player, about the novelty and naturally he was very interested to see it. Well all I can say is that the wind went out of my sails pretty quick smart when Ralf immediately suggested the (obvious really)...Qf6 and I could not see how White could avoid resignation in a few more moves. After he left I analysed it further and shoved it into Fritz, but no, White was DEAD. Well, perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that when I mentioned the refutation to Ian his reply was something like "Oh yeah, well that is already published in Yearbook X" "How was that relevant?" I thought. "Isn't the relevant point that Ian (or Solo) would probably have to resign his Olympiad game a few moves after playing their stunning novelty, and that the refutation was found (albeit by a GM) quickly and easily?
While on the subject of the Rogers repertoire, his use of the Scandinavian can't possibly go unmentioned. If you have an old copy of ECO B look up BO1 where you will find Ian's games compromise the bulk of the theory on this opening! As mentioned in my first Wally's Wisdom article, Ian and his Scandinavian ran into a brick wall at the hands of Morozevich, but for some recent wins see his efforts against Wolff and Zhang, the former of which is given below. I also enjoy a good Scandinavian but prefer to make my moves off the chessboard...
Ian was a dangerous tactician as a junior but has matured into a professional Grandmaster with the necessary positional (strategical) ability and sound endgame technique. However, he has not lost touch with his tactical wizardry, as the following combination vindicates:
24.dxc6! bxc6 25.Bd7! Qc7 26.Bxc6!!+ Qxc6 27.Nd5 Bd8 28.Rc3 Qb7 29.Rb3 Qc6 30.Rdd3 Ba5
Now White just has to find 2 more wonderful moves to complete this combination which effectively began on move 24. I challenge the reader to work them out. Click here for the Solution.
Ian is also a great fighter and defends resourcefully in difficult positions. He is a fan of Bill Jordan's "Theory of Infinite Resistance" which basically states, that if you keep on fighting and finding the best moves (or perhaps sometimes the best practical moves - see my first article) you will hold many positions that other players would give up on. In some cases just "hanging in there" may be rewarded with the full point. In the following position Ian has been defending for a long time against Viktor the Terrible - one of the World's best players. Finally the great Korchnoi makes a shocking blunder and the game is over in just one move!
83...Qd4? [83...Ke7 84.Qc7+ Kf6 85.Qd8+ Ke5 Clear advantage Black. Dolmatov] 84.Qd8+ Kc5??
[84...Ke5 85.Qg5+ Kd6=] 85.Qc7# 1-0
Ian and his wife Cathy have made great contributions to chess in Australia, besides their chess prowess. Ian has given simuls and trained some young players (including myself). When in Europe they live in a flat in Amsterdam which many grateful Australian chess players have found themselves welcome in while playing the European Chess circuit. In fact, there were so many players staying there that at one point I made a Freudian slip and referred to there home as "the hotel"! Ian has enriched Australian chess playing the Doeberl cup many years in a row, even flying back from Europe just to play in the tournament, and continues to play in the Grade Matches (interclub tournament) when in Sydney despite the fact that for the same event in Germany or Holland he would be paid a reasonable wage. Australian IMs were given a few chances for a coveted GM norm result, (3 are necessary for the title Grandmaster) when Ian and Cathy arranged three Grandmaster tournaments in Sydney.
I will leave you now with a selection of Ian's games-enjoy!
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 Be6 [8...b5 is the modern approach, but I have memories of playing Be6 myself as a junior, against Ian in a few simultaneous games.] 9.Nc4 Rc8 10.Ne3 Be7 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Bc4 0-0 13.Bb3 Nd4 14.0-0 Bg5 15.Ncd5 Nxb3 16.axb3 g6 17.Kh1 Bh6 18.Qd3 f5 19.exf5 gxf5 20.f4 Kh8 21.Rad1 Qh4 22.Qe2 exf4 23.Nc4 Bf7 24.Qd3 Bh5 25.Nxd6 Bxd1 26.Nxc8 Bh5 27.Nce7 f3 28.gxf3 Qh3?! [28...Bg7 29.Nxf5 Qh3 Fritz, White is winning but Black is still kicking.] 29.Nf4!+-
29...Qh4 30.Qd4+ Qf6 31.Qxf6+ Rxf6 32.Nxh5 Rf7 33.Nd5 f4 34.Re1 1-0
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.cxd5 Nxg5 7.Nxg5 e6 8.Qd2 h6 9.Nh3 exd5 10.Nf4 c6 11.e3 Bf5 12.Be2 Nd7 13.g4 Be6 14.Qc2 Qf6 15.0-0-0 Nb6 16.h4 0-0-0 17.Na4 Kb8 18.Nc5 Bc8 19.b4 Rhe8 20.a4 Qd6 21.a5 Nd7 22.Nfd3 Nxc5 23.bxc5 Qc7 24.Qa4 Re4 25.Kd2 Rde8 26.Rhe1 Bf6 27.Rb1! Bd8 28.Rb6!
28...Bxg4 [28...axb6 29.axb6+-; 28...Bxh4] 29.Bxg4 Rxg4 30.Reb1 axb6 31.axb6 Qh2 32.Rh1!!
I love the geometry in this game! The White pawns cover all the queen's retreat squares along the diagonal, so Black takes the proferred rook only to have his king chased and pawns munched along the adjacent diagonal. [32.Qa7+? Kc8 33.Qa8+ Qb8] 32...Qxh1 [32...Bc7 Fritz. 33.Rxh2 Bxh2+-] 33.Qa7+ Kc8 34.Qa8+ Kd7 35.Qxb7+ Ke6 36.Qxc6+ Kf5 37.Qxe8 White is still a rook down, but has too many threats (including mate in one, to take the Black bishop, and to promote another pawn or two. 37...Rg1 38.Qd7+ Ke4 39.b7 Rd1+ 40.Kc2 Rxd3 Deciding to go down honourably. 41.Qg4#
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3 Qe7 11.Be2 0-0-0 12.Bd2 g5 13.0-0 Kb8 14.Rc1 g4 15.Nd4
15...Qe5 16.Ncb5 Ne4 17.Qc2 Nxd2 18.Qxd2 a6 19.Qc3 Nxd4 20.exd4 Qxe2 21.Qg3+ Ka8 22.Nc7+ Ka7 23.dxc5 Rc8 24.Nd5 Bb5 25.a4 Bc6
Ian, needing a draw for his second IM norm and equal first in the tournament, offered a draw here. 26.Rfe1 Qxb2 27.Ne7 Rce8 28.Nxc6+ bxc6 29.Qxg4
OK, I remembered going through this typical Rogers swindle in Ian's book Chess into the Eighties (actually I checked and it is not there but in CJS Purdy His Life, His Games and His Writings by Hammond and Jamieson!), but what I didn't remember was just how shocking his position was-and he didn't just draw this!
29...Qb7 30.h3 Qc7 31.Qf5 Rhg8 32.Qxh7 Qf4 33.Qd3 Qc7
34.Qd6? [34.Rxe8 Rxe8 35.Rb1 When White is still 2 pawns up and is going onto the offensive was much simpler. Incidentally Woodhams likes 34.Qf5. Really almost anything but the text.] 34...Qxd6! 35.cxd6 Rxe1+ 36.Rxe1 Kb6 Now White has to cope with an active Black king. The resulting ending is very complicated-especially to work out exactly where White let the win slip, and then the draw, so I have decided to make use of some of Woodhams' notes here. For his complete notes see the above book on Purdy's life. 37.d7 Rd8 38.Re7? [38.Rd1! Woodhams] 38...c5 39.Kf1? 41.h4! Woodhams. 39...Ka5 40.h4 c4 41.Ke2? Woodhams writes: "White could also have sealed (and thus won easily), but sportingly played on to allow Rogers to catch a plane." 41...Kxa4 42.Kd2? [42.h5 The last chance to win. 42...Kb3 43.h6 c3 44.Re8 Rxd7 45.h7 c2 46.Rc8 Rd8 47.Rxd8+- Woodhams] 42...Kb3 43.Kc1 a5 44.h5 a4 45.h6 a3
46.Kb1?? Now White can no longer draw. [46.Re5! a2 47.Ra5 Rxd7 48.h7 Rd8 49.Ra7 Rh8 50.Rb7+ Kc3 51.Ra7 Rxh7 52.Ra3+ Kd4 53.Rxa2 and the game should be drawn-Woodhams.] 46...c3 47.Ka1 0-1
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 7.e3 Nc6 8.Qb3 Be6 9.Qxb7 Rc8 10.Nf3 Bg7 11.Ng5 0-0 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.cxd5 cxd4
Now things start to heat up... [13...exd5 14.Bb5 When White manages to castle and, with a pawn to the good, would have been unacceptable to the young Rogers, however why not simply 13...Qxd5?; 13...Qxd5] 14.Bb5? [14.dxc6! I think White should just call Black's bluff. The following lines were very difficult to analyse and I welcome any feedback the reader has to offer. 14...dxc3 15.Qd7 (15.Rd1? c2!) A) 15...Qa5 16.Bd3 (16.Rc1) ; B) 15...c2 16.Rc1! This seems to lead to a big advantage for White in all variations. (16.Qxd8 Rcxd8! Threatening mate in two. 17.Bd3 The only chance! 17...Rxd3 18.Ke2 Rc3 and with the mighty pawn on c2 and a weak White a-pawn Black has a winning game.) 16...Qa5+ 17.Ke2 B1) 17...Qb5+ 18.Qd3 Qxd3+ (18...Qh5+ 19.f3) 19.Kxd3 Rxc6 20.Ke4 Bb2 21.Bd3; B2) 17...Qh5+ 18.f3 Qxh4 19.Qxe6+!? Kh8 20.Rxc2; C) 15...Rxc6 16.Qxd8 Rxd8 17.Bb5 (17.Rc1 c2 18.Bb5 see 17.Bb5) 17...c2 18.Rc1 (18.Bxc6 Bxa1 19.Ke2 Bb2) 18...Bc3+ (18...Bb2 19.Ke2±; 18...Rd1+ 19.Rxd1 c1Q 20.0-0 Qc5 21.Bxc6 Qxc6 22.Bxe7+- and White should be able to grind out the win.) 19.Ke2 Rd2+ 20.Kf3 Rc5 C1) 21.Ba4 Bb2 (21...Rf5+? 22.Kg4 h5+ 23.Kh3 g5 24.Bxg5 Rxg5 25.Rxc2) 22.Rxc2 Rcxc2 23.Bxc2 Rxc2 24.Bxe7±
This may be the best Black can get after cxd4. White still has chances to win, though I suspect Black can draw this.; C2) 21.a4? and here besides 21...g5 or 21...Bb2 Black has at least a draw with 21...Rf5+.] 14...Qxd5 15.cxd4 Qxg2 16.Rf1
16...Bxd4!! 17.Rc1 [17.exd4 Qe4+ gives Black a winning attack.] 17...Bb6! just brilliant! A mating net is woven around the White king. 18.Bxc6 [18.Rxc6 Ba5+ 19.Kd1 (19.Ke2 Rcd8-+) 19...Qd5+ 20.Kc1 and here the human 20...Rb8 would force resignation, but Fritz's mating continuation is even nicer: 20...Bd2+ 21.Kc2 Qxa2+ 22.Kd1 Bb4 Mating-Fritz.] 18...Qg4 Threatening mate in one. 19.Qa6 Qb4+ 20.Ke2 Qb2+ 21.Kd3 Rcd8+ 22.Ke4 Rd4+!
23.exd4 Qxd4# 0-1
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Bf4 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qe7 8.Qd5 f6
Another Rogers special. Geez he was a hacker. 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Qd1 d6 11.e3 0-0 12.Be2 Ne4 13.Rc1 Kh8 14.0-0 g5 15.Bg3 h5
This is not one of Ian's most subtle achievements... 16.Bd3 Nc5 17.h4 Rxf3!! 18.gxf3 gxh4 19.Bh2 Bh3 20.Kh1 Rg8 21.Rg1 Rxg1+
Here White left the crime scene before he would be exposed to more horrors. Indeed after 22.Bxg1 Nxd3 cleans up as 23.Qxd3 Qg7/Qg5 24.Qf1 Bxf1 25.Rxf1 h3 mates, while 22.Qxg1 Nxd3 is not much better. 0-1
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 f5 8.axb5 Nxc3 9.bxc3 cxb5 10.Ng5 e6 11.g4
Here we go again! 11...a6 12.Bg2 Ra7 13.gxf5 exf5 14.d5 Re7 15.f4 g6 16.d6 Rg7 17.Qd5 Qd7 18.Qa8 Qa7 19.Bc6+ Kd8 20.Qxa7 Rxa7 21.Bxb5 h6 22.Be3 Rb7 23.Bb6+!
After the previous bloodthirsty encounters the reader may get the wrong idea about our No1 man. Actually, even early in his career, Ian was a good grinder. He has won some nice Catalan endgames as White (The Catalan normally begins with something like 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3) and here he grinds down Toth very professionally. 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nc3 Going through Ian's games I was surprised to see that so many of his pet lines today were in fact used regularly by him many years ago. Ian has a preference for these Bc4 systems, and delaying the development of the N on g1 (it may go to e2, or White might get a chance for f4). These days, however, Ian normally plays 3.Nc3 not fearing the 3...Nxe4 lines as 3.d3 allows the solid 3...c6 and 4...d5. 4...Nc6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Na5 7.Bb3 Nxb3 8.axb3 Be7 9.d4!? d6 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Qxd8+ Bxd8 12.Nf3 Nd7 13.Bxd8 Kxd8 14.b4 f6
15.0-0 Australian IM Stephen Solomon would have a fit if he saw this move! He would prefer to play something like 15.Ke2. I often disagree with Solo on the subject of castling in an ending but judging from Ian's 20th Solo may be right here... 15...Nb6 16.Rfd1+ Bd7 17.Nd2 c6 18.Nb3 Kc7 19.Nc5 Rhd8 20.Kf1 Bc8 [20...a6 puts another queenside pawn on the wrong colour, but at least avoids the active continuation Ian now takes. On the other hand Black may not need to avoid the game continuation if he plays the obvious improvement on move 22.] 21.Rxd8 Kxd8 22.b5 Ke7 [22...cxb5 23.Nxb5 a6 24.Rd1+ and White is getting very active; 22...Kc7! This was clearly the strongest defence and I am not sure if White has a good follow up here.] 23.bxc6 bxc6 24.b3 Bd7 25.Ra5 Nc8 26.N3a4 Rb8 27.c4 Be8 28.Ke1 g5 29.Kd2 h5 30.Kc3 h4 31.b4 Bg6 32.h3 Be8 33.Ra6 Ra8 34.Nb7 Rb8 35.Na5
Black is completely tied up, and something has to give soon. 35...Kd6 36.b5 Kc7 37.Nxc6 Ra8 38.f3 Bf7 39.c5 Kd7 40.Kb4 Be6 41.Nb6+
A nice finishing touch. 1-0
The following game is a great dog-fight, the Aussie taking out one of the World's best players. However, the great thing about this game is the amazing pawn moves that give the game a special beauty. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5 No respect, even for Portisch. 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.Nc3 b4 8.Nb5 Kd8
9.e4 g5 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.e5 Qg7 12.Qa4 a5 13.0-0 g4 14.Nd2 Qxe5
15.Qc2 Ra6 16.Rfe1 Qg7 17.a3 h5 18.axb4 cxb4 19.dxe6 fxe6 20.Be4 Nc6 21.Rad1 h4 22.Nb3 a4
Ian loves to push his pawns, but this is ridiculous! The Black king is quite happy to sit in the centre of things, with only 2 pawns for cover, while the general sends out 2 battalions, on opposite flanks, to do some damage. 23.N3d4 Nxd4 24.Nxd4 Bxe4 25.Qxe4 Kc8 26.Kh1 Bc5 27.Re2 Rf8 28.Nb5 g3 29.fxg3 hxg3 30.h3 a3 31.bxa3 bxa3
The battalions have sustained some losses, but have now both reached the 6th rank and have decided the battle! 32.Qb1 Rf2 33.Ra2 Rxa2 34.Qxa2 Qb2!-+ With the exchange of queens the ending is hopeless for White. The pawn on g3 has imprisoned the White king while the pawn on a3 will soon be crowned queen. However, Portisch has seen enough and resigned. 0-1
The following game is a different side of Ian's style and one of which we are seeing more and more of, where he is not afraid of a theoretical confrontation. Indeed the following win is important to the theory of the Scheveningen and came against a well known Scheveningen expert. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f4 b5 8.Qf3 Bb7 9.Bd3 Nbd7 10.g4 Nc5 11.g5 Nfd7 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Kb1 g6
The idea of this move is to play ...e5 without allowing Nf5. 14.h4 b4 First this knight is kicked away, as the ...e5 break also weakens the d5 square. 15.Nce2 e5 16.Nb3 Nxb3 17.axb3 exf4 18.Bxf4 Nc5 19.h5 Rf8 20.hxg6 hxg6 21.Rh7 Qd7 22.Be3 Nxd3 23.Rxd3 a5 24.Nf4 a4 25.Nd5 axb3 26.Rxb3 Bxd5 27.exd5 Qa4 28.Kc1
It seems that Black is attacking, but the White king is safe enough. Black has problems because both Rf8 and Be7 are passive, and as we shall see, the Black monarch proves to be more vulnerable than its counterpart. 28...Qb5 29.Rh4 Ra1+ 30.Kd2 Rf1 31.Qe2 Qxd5+ 32.Rd4 Qf5 33.Rbxb4 f6 34.Rb7 fxg5 35.Bf4 Rf7 36.Rb8+ Kd7 37.Rxd6+ Bxd6 38.Qe8+ Kc7 39.Qd8+ 1-0
Finally the promised Scandinavian, where Ian makes a win against a 2575 GM look easy. I have used Ian's annotations from Australian Chess Forum September 1998 No8 Vol 7, of which I refer the reader for Ian's complete commentary.
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.Bc4 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.Bd2 e6 9.Qe2 Bb4 10.a3 Nbd7 11.0-0-0 Bxc3 12.Bxc3 Qc7 13.g4 Bg6 14.Ne5 Ne4 15.Qe3 Nxc3 16.Qxc3 0-0-0 17.Nxd7 Rxd7 18.Qe3 Rhd8 19.b4 a5 20.f4? [20.c3] 20...axb4 21.axb4 b5!
22.Bd3 Bxd3 [22...Rxd4? 23.f5!] 23.Rxd3 Qa7 24.Qf3 Kb7 25.c3 Qa2 26.Re1 Ra8 27.Re2 Qa1+ 28.Kd2 Ra3!
29.Qg3 Rb3 30.g5 g6 31.h4 Rd8 32.Qf2 Qb2+ 33.Kd1 Qa1+ 34.Kd2 Ra8 35.d5 cxd5 0-1
Please Note: All my analysis given on these pages or for download may be reproduced, but please credit the notes to John-Paul Wallace.
31.Rdc3!! Bxc3 32.Qa6 1-0