Here’s a barnburner I played in Round 3 vs. GM Michael Rohde.
IM M. Ginsburg – GM M. Rohde Round 3, Hedgehog
1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.O-O a6 7.Re1 Be7 8.e4 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 Of course the c4 pawn is not really hanging yet. Black is just setting up a regular hedgehog piece placement.
11.Be3 Nbd7 12.f4 h5!? It’s a little unusual to do this at this exact juncture. Some players like to go ….Rc8 and …Qb8 to attack the c-pawn “for real”.
13.Rc1!? 13. h3 is the most positionally careful but on this day I felt like throwing a knight into the middle (see move 14).
13…Ng4 14.Nd5! Maybe a TN! It leads to what I think is a significant white edge.
Position after 14. Nd5!? – Maybe a TN!
14…exd5 15.cxd5 Qd8 16.Nc6 This is the point. The pawn appearing on c6 will cause coordination problems for black.
16…Bxc6 17.dxc6 Nc5 18.c7?! Rather weak. Correct is 18. Bd4! with excellent positional compensation. This position merits careful examination to determine the ultimate worth of 14. Nd5.
18…Qxc7 19.b4 O-O 20.h3 Nxe3 21.Rxe3 h4!? If I were black, I would be more inclined to 21…g6!? but the text is positionally well motivated to gain more dark squares.
Position after 21…h4!? – the most aggressive choice.
22.bxc5 dxc5 23.Qg4 c4! Strong.
24.Kh1 b5 25.e5 Qb6 26.Re4! This is the only move to give black any problems. Objectively black is better but it’s not easy with limited time to reach move 40.
26…Rad8 27.f5 Qh6 28.Rf1
Position after 28. Rf1. Decision time.
28…Rfe8? In severe time trouble, black selects a nearly losing move. Correct is 28…f6! and black is much better. The queenside majority is mobile.
29.f6 Bf8 30.e6! Naturally.
30…Rxe6 31.Rxe6 fxe6 32.Qxe6+ Kh8 33.Bd5! Rxd5 Pretty much necessary but now white has chances to win.
34.Qxd5 The position is now dangerous for black.
Position after 34. Qxd5.
34…hxg3?! 34…gxf6 looks better. 35. Rf5 could be met by 35…Qc1+.
35.Kg2? White gives away a pawn for no reason. Why on earth not first the natural 35. fxg7+ completely baring black’s king? The queen and rook can then ‘bother” much more effectively and white has good chances to score the full point.
35…gxf6 Black’s king is now safe enough to draw. Now both sides have very little time left and a set of fairly random moves appear on the board to get to move 40.
36.Rf5 Qg6 37.Rf4 Bh6 38.Qa8+ Kh7 39.Rg4 Qc2+ 40.Kxg3 Qd3+ 41.Kg2 Bg5 42.h4 Qe2+ 43.Kh3 A perpetual check is inevitable.
1/2-1/2 A tough struggle!
Last Round Thriller
IM Alfonse Almeida (2502, MEX) – IM M. Ginsburg Round 9. Modern/Pirc
1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bc4 In Round 1 IM Ron Burnett was successful with 4. Be3 c6!? 5. Qd2 b5!? playing black against IM Eli Vovsha. The text move, the “Holmov Attack”, has been well studied by theory and is fairly harmless.
4…Nf6 5.Nge2 On the main move 5. Qe2, black has been doing well with the sharp 5…O-O!? 6. e5 Ne8, and the older 5…Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 is not refuted either. The text should yield zero.
5…O-O The simplest way is 5…Nxe4!, but I was somehow probably unjustifiably worried about 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Nxe4 with some nebulous ideas of Ng5+ and Nf4 targeting e6. After the game, my opponent gave his intention as 6. Nxe4 but then 6…d5 7. Bd3 dxe4 8. Bxe4 and black is completely fine with white’s odd knight placement on e2. After the text move, the game becomes very sharp.
6.f3 c6 7.a4 d5 8.Bb3 dxe4 9.fxe4 e5! The usual reaction in the center, reminiscent of the Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3!? dxe4 4. fxe4 e5!?) meets with a very nice response from white. When I played 9…e5, I had no idea what white was up to and I thought he was just worse. This isn’t the case.
Position after 9. Bg5! – I did not expect this move.
10…exd4 11.Qxd4 Necessary and interesting.
11…Qxd4 12.Nxd4 Nbd7 13.Rf1! The only move to keep pressure.
Now I had a bit of a think. If I accept the pawn gambit I come under heavy pressure. I opted for something else…
14…Ng4? This move, anticipating 15. O-O-O?? Ne3! winning, would be great if it were not for white’s next!
Position after 14…Ng4? – White has a shot.
15.Ne6! The opportunistic Almeida would not miss this. As a testament to “how good” my opening was, I can play on with some pressure even after this brutal shot.
15…fxe6 16.Bxe6 Kh7 17.Bxg4 Rxf1 18.Kxf1 Nc5 19.Bf3 Be6 20.Bf2 b6 Black is doing the best he can, but his compensation is insufficient.
21.a5 Re8 22.axb6 axb6 23.Ra7? A huge misstep! White had the simple 23. Rd1 with the idea of Rd6; white should convert that position to victory. It is OK if he loses the a-pawn at some juncture if that means black’s dark-squared bishop leaves the board. After the text, white’s rook proves to be out of play as black generates unexpected counterplay against white’s king!
23…Kg8 24.Rc7 Bc4+ 25.Kg1 Ra8! Suddenly Bxc3 and Ra1+ are threatened! White has to self-tangle.
26.Nd1 From this point on, the monroi.com gamescore makes no sense. Here are the right moves.
26…Bb5! A nice defensive motif. White’s rook is in serious danger of being trapped with Bg7-e5! He has to resort to extreme measures and black is now off the hook.
Position after 26…Bb5! Black wriggles out.
27. Bg4 What else? 27…Be5 28. Rc8+ Rxc8 29. Bxc8 Be2! 30. Nc3 This position is drawn. Black just has to be a little careful. The two bishops never become a factor.
30…Bxc3 31. bxc3 Nxe4 32. Bxb6 Nxc3 33. Bd4 Ne4 34. Bd7 Bb5 Black’s bishop and knight coordinate well. White’s king cannot approach to do damage.
35. Be6+ Kf8 36. Bg4 Kf7 37. h4 h5 38. Bf3 Nd2! 39. Kf3 White offers a draw in light of 39…Nxf3. For some reason on the Monroi.com site, the game continues to move 60 and rooks reappear on the board rather magically. Even worse for me, white is recorded as winning.. In fact, the game ended here peacefully.
Round 3 Sickness
Just for the sick blunderfest fans among us (I know you’re one), here is Ehlvest-Liu from the 3rd round.
GM Jaan Ehlvest – NM Elliot Liu King’s Indian Defense, Round 3.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.e3 O-O 5.Be2 d6 6.c4 c5 7.Nc3 Soviet-style safety (SSS). The chances are very high an American junior won’t know what to do.
7…h6 8.Bh4 g5 Here, the non-obvious 8…Qb6!? 9. Qd2 g5 10. Bg3 Bf5 is interesting on the grounds white would rather have his queen on c2, not d2.
9.Bg3 Nh5 The unusual 9…Qb6!? is interesting here too. 10. Qc2 Nc6 11. O-O-O Bd7 12. a3 Rfc8 with counterplay.
10.d5 f5 And here 10…Qa5 11. Nd2 Nxg3 12. hxg3 Bf5! offers an interesting game; black does not mind white weakening the dark squares considering his unopposed king bishop in the event of e3-e4.
11.Nd2 Nxg3 12.hxg3 Nd7 Offbeat but not ridiculous is 12…Na6!? 13. a3 Bd7!?
13.Qc2 Nf6 14.f4 e6 15.fxg5 hxg5 16.dxe6 Bxe6 17.O-O-O Now, as if by magic, white has a strong initiative. We have to credit white’s unusual system because the non-obvious variations above are all difficult to spot. After making some hackneyed KID moves (hunting down white’s QB and playing f5 to expose his own king) Black is in a very difficult situation. GM Lein used to torture US Juniors in this line. It must be a Soviet specialty. I did something like this as black against Lein Lone Pine ’80 (play rote moves and get a bad game) and also in my game I missed a win later when white overpressed. Weird!
17…a6 18.g4! Qd7?! Since 18…fxg4 19. Bd3 is so bad for black, it’s hard to call it an improvement. Nevertheless, the text puts the BQ on a very unfortunate square.
19.Rdf1 Now white is well on the road to victory with a huge edge. I left the playing hall at this point having observed this dismal tableau for black. But look what happens! In fact, this phase might be characterized as a “hustle” – Jaan starts missing win after win in the moves that follow; perhaps in the ‘anything wins’ mode?
19…fxg4 20.Bd3 The simple 20. Nd5! gets rid of black’s light square bishop and then the black king is fairly well toasted. For example, 20…Bxd5 21. cxd5 b5 22. Bd3 is horrific for black. For those who like tactics, here is a pleasing one: 21. cxd5 c4 22. Nxc4! Rac8 23. Kb1 b5 24. Bd3!! Rf7 25. Bh7+ Kf8 26. Nb6! splat! The text move also gives white a big edge.
Position after 20. Bd3 — Something has gone very wrong from black’s point of view.
One of the things that makes Grandmasters strong is their vast experience with all kinds of opening systems. Take for example the one Ehlvest played in this game (an old favorite of safety-first ex-World Champ Vassily Smyslov). Liu played what so far seem to be quasi-normal moves and the diagram above looks like a simul crush. I won’t embarrass either participant further with more diagrams, since the game degenerates now into an insane blunderfest.
20…Kf7 21. Run away! But this shouldn’t have helped.
21.Nde4?! Ehlvest’s first (of many) failures to end the game in his favor quickly. 21. Bf5! is completely crushing. Here’s a disgusting variation: 21. Bf5! Ke7 22. Bxe6 Qxe6 23. Qg6 Rf7 24. Rh7! and black must resign in view of 24…Nxh7 25. Nd5+. For sadists, examine the punching bag nature of 21. Bf5! Bxf5 22. Rxf5 Ke7 (what else?) 23. Rhf1 Qe6 24. Qd3 with total paralysis. 24…Rae8 25. Rxg5 Bh8 26. Rg6 Kd7 27. Nd5 Rf7 28. Rf4! Ref8 29. Re4! Nxe4 30. Nb6+! (That devilish knight!) 30…Ke7 31. Rxe6+ and wins.
21…Ke7 22.Nxg5 Kd8 Necessary.
23.Bf5! Better late than never.
23…Bxf5 24.Rxf5 Kc7 25.Rd1? Extremely careless. 25. Rhf1 is overski: 25…Qe8 26. Qd3 Kc6 27. Nd5 and wins. Black is paralyzed.
25…b6 26.Kb1 Rae8 White has bungled and almost his entire edge is gone.
27.e4 Qc6? Quite weak. 27…Kb8 is correct.
28.Rdf1?! Not the right timing. 28. Qf2! is right with a big edge after 28…Kb7 29. Qf4 or 28…Kb8 29. Qf4.
28…Kb7 29.a4?! 29. Nd5! is correct.
29…Nd7 30.Nd5 Rxf5? 30…Bd4 is much tougher. The text allows a nice white win.
31.exf5 Nf6 32.Ne6?? White finishes it with 32. Nxf6 Bxf6 33. Nh7! – an elegant conclusion. Black can limp on with 33…d5 (forced, any bishop move is crushed by f5-f6) 34. cxd5 Qd6 35. Nxf6 Qxf6 36. Qd3 and white should convert easily. Was Ehlvest simply underestimating his young opponent after encountering very little resistance in the opening?
Bh8 33.Qd1? White is still winning after 33. Nec7 Rc8 (33…Re5 34. Nxf6 Bxf6 35. Nd5! also loses) 34. Rh1 Qd7 35. Nxf6 Bxf6 36. Nd5 Be5 37. e6! and wins.
33… b5 34.axb5? 34. Qb3! keeps a serious edge.
34…axb5 35.Qb3 35. Ndc7! is also strong here. The weird thing is white is still better after the prior missed opportunities, but watch!
35…b4 36.Rh1?? A real lu-lu. 36. Qd3! Nxd5 37. cxd5 Qa4 38. f6 b3 39. Qh7+! Kb6 40. Qc7+ Ka6 41. Qxd6+ wins for white. 36…Kc8 is relatively best but white is still well on top. Clearly Ehlvest visualized something like this in his mind but his timing in the game is all vershimmelt. 36. Qd3 Kb8 is relatively best for black, but once again after 37. Ndc7! white is much better.
36..Nxd5 37.cxd5 Qd7 For the first time, black is back in it. And here, 37…Qa6! was quite good with the idea of Ra8 and black is on the offense.
38.Qc4 Rc8? Time trouble? 38…Ra8! 39. Qxg4 Qb5!! 40. Qe4 Kb6!! and black has a huge attack! But wait: 38….Ra8! 39. Rh7!! Qxh7 40. Qb5+ and a sudden perpetual check draw! It would, of course, be difficult for white to reconcile himself to a draw after black’s opening butcheries.
39.Rh6 Ra8?! 39…Qa4! and white has to press the panic button with 40. Rh1 Ra8 41. Nxc5+! with a perpetual check, or 40…Kb6! (again this nice move) with a continued attack and no immediate draw.
40.Qe4?? White must have been in time trouble too. 40. f6! is met by the nice bail-out sacrifice 40…Bxf6! 41. Rxf6 Qh7+ 42. Kc1 Qh1+ 43. Kc2 Qh1+ 44. Kb3 Qh3+ and this is a very pleasing perpetual check draw.
40…Qa4?? I am convinced, both sides were in serious time trouble. Here, black had 40…Ra1+ 41. Kxa1 Qa4+ 42. Kb1 Qd1+ 43. Ka2 b3+ mating, or 41. Kc2 Qa4+ 42. Kd2 Bc3+! and now we’re in junior tactic land and black wins white’s queen for starters.
41.Nxc5+ Some good fortune for Ehlvest. 41…dxc5 42. Qe7+ is curtains. Lucky! 1-0
The moral of the story is, it’s not good to miss win after win. One of them must be played!
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