The Autumn of the Patriarch

Over the weekend the vultures got into the palace by pecking through the screens on the balcony windows and the flapping of their wings stirred up the stagnant time inside, and at dawn on Monday the city awoke out of its lethargy of centuries with the warm, soft breeze of a great man dead and rotting grandeur –  Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Autumn of the Patriarch focuses on a leader’s last days; his life, once a blend of grand gestures and sensuality, comes to nothing but disorder. A cow holds court from the presidential balcony. The battlefield squalor inside the palace seems to embody the spontaneity of a coup, but even the dead dictator knows that gross misjudgments foreshadowed his difficulty. So regarding this incarnation of your king, what will be the true anatomy of his disaster as you will tell it later? Here’s mine. I’m playing against Justin Armstrong, 1670 USCF, in a Game 60. I am white and the text is below.

The Autumn of my Patriarch


1. e4 e6 2. c4 {An intriguing system that often leaves white no worse than ina normal French. Some choose not to play d5 at all and white keeps good chances. I also play the Maroczy Bind against the Sicilian. I like to play similar pawn structures.} c6 3. d4 d5 {E5 is good here. White gets a slightly better French Advance. The c5 break will take two moves for black. Black may have to take on the isolani as well.} 4. cxd5 exd5 5. exd5 Nf6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Nc3 Nxd5 8. Bc4 {The wrong place for the bishop. Bd3 is thematic in such structures because e4 and c4 lack pawn cover. I’m hoping that black changes the pawn structure and would like to induce him to do so.} Bg4 9. Nxd5 (9. Qb3Bxf3 10. gxf3 O-O 11. Qxb7 {I failed to asses this as good for white. I am usually too paranoid to scoop up a b-pawn.}) 9… cxd5 10. Qa4+ Nc6 11. Bb5 Bd7 12. Ne5 Bb4+ 13. Kf1 Nxe5 14. Qxb4 Nc6 15. Qe1+ {It’s better to stay put. White will soon lag in development.} Be6 16. Qc3 {Yet another queen move. The lady is fickle.} O-O 17. Bxc6 Rc8 18. Qb3 bxc6 19. Be3 {The rest is immaterial. Bad governance has rotted the position from within. Multiple queen sorties and the arrogant king move leaves white struggling. Do not cause yourself problems you have no inkling of how to fix!}

There is some good news though. Like the composite rulers in the novel, the king seems to embody eternity, so does he rise from the box without wound or memory.

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