USCL Week 3

A Bad Scotch Turned Good

Sometimes the Scotch is “off” when you get it out of the barrel.

Shankland (SF) – Galofre (MIA)  Round 3 USCL

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 10.b3?! 10. Qe4, as in Rensch (AZ) -Bartholomew (DAL) Week 2, is another try.  Comments have been posted on that game. White lost that game but it wasn’t the fault of the opening.  The slow text promises zero.

10… a5! A very active and good move.  10…Bb4 11. Bb2 O-O is fine for black too.

11.g3? A bad reaction to black’s last.  White has gotten mixed up.  He cannot afford this glacier slow approach.  But if the recommended move here is the completely awkward 11. Qe3, obviously black’s last was very well motivated.

11… a4 12.Rb1 Bb4 Doing nothing special, black has a great game.  Amusingly, the game had a chance to become a miniature here.


White doesn’t fall for 13. Bb2? axb3 14. axb3 Qf5!! and black wins!   I was able to show the USCL Commissioner Staff  (‘USCL’ and ‘Lalu’) some variations at this point on ICC. This deserves a diagram.

Position after 14…Qf5!! – Analysis.

What a shot!  Feast your eyes on 15. Ra1? Rxa1 16. Bxa1 Qb1+ 17. Qd1 Qe4+ picking up the rook on h1, or 15. Rd1 or 15. Rc1 Ra2!! threatening the lethal Bxc3+ and Qb1+.  White is dead.  His best is the depressing 15. Qd3 Qxe5+ losing his center pawn and, of course, the game if black can convert.

But miracles do happen on ICC.  Black totally loses the thread and contrives to lose the game.  White’s off-brand Scotch turns into top-shelf.

13…Ba6? Throwing away the advantage by posting the bishop uselessly.  This was really the only way to let white justify 11 g3?.  The exceedingly simple and straightforward  13… O-O 14. Bg2 axb3 15. axb3 Re8 hitting e5 gives black an easy edge. For example, 16. f4 d5.  Black can also get fancy pants and play 15…Ra3! threatening Nxc4, also with an edge and nice early tactics exploiting white’s uncastled king.  That nice move deserves a picture.

Position after 15…Ra3!.  Fancy-Pants.

After the analysis variation 15…Ra3!, 16. Ne4 is rudely met by the powerful sequence 16…Ra2! 17. f4 d5! 18. Qe3 Qe7! and a quick Miami victory so white’s best is to try the hold the inferior rook ending after 16. O-O Nxc4 17. Qxc4 Qxc4 18. bxc4 Bxc3 19. Rfd1 Re8 20. Bxc3 Rxc3 21. Bh3 g5.  White can set a trap with 22. Rb8!? hoping for 22…Rxc4?? 23. Ra1 and double on the 8th rank, but black simply defends with 22…Ra3! stopping that idea.  It remains a small edge for black.

14. Bg2 0-0 15.0-0 Bxc3 Easiest is the simple 15… axb3 16. axb3 d5 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Bxb4 Rfb8 with equality.  Black must have been afraid of the 17. Nxd5 tactic, but it fizzles out.

16.Bxc3 d5 17.f4 f5? This dreadful weakening is really taking things too far.  Why was black so allergic to taking on b3?   17…axb3 18. axb3 dxc4 19. f5 Qh6 and black is fighting and fully in the game.

18.Qf3 Now white has an obvious edge.

18…Rad8 19.Rfd1 Rf7? 19…axb3 20. axb3 Bb7 is a white edge but less than the game line.

20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Bd4 axb3 Far too late.  The boat sailed long ago.

22.axb3 Bb7 23.Rdc1 Rc8 24.Ra1 Ra8 25.Qc3 Rd7 26.Qb4 Black played himself into abject passivity and the rest is just torture.

26…Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rd8 28.Ra7 Qc6 29.Qc5?! White has a fast win with 29. Bh3! and now if 29…Qc1+ 30. Bf1 Qc6 31. Bxb6 cxb6 32. Qe7 is lights out.  An even better line is 29. Bh3! g6 30. Rxb7!! Qxb7 31. Qe7 and with e5-e6 coming, black is dead lost.  White is still winning after the text.  Black was in so deep a hole that white can afford to pass up quick win after quick win in the next moves.

29,,,Rc8 30.h3?! Again, the efficient 30. Bh3! g6 31. Rxb7! is the end.

30…h6 31.g4?! Fastest is 31. Qxc6 Bxc6 32. e6 with complete paralysis.

31…g6 32.Kh2 32. Kf2 also wins. 32…h5 33.gxf5 gxf5 34.Qe7 Qh6 35.Kg3 35. Kh1 is a clean winner. The amusing point is 35. Kh1 Qxf4 36. Bg1!! Ba8 37. Rxc7 Rxc7 38. Qd8+! and wins.

35…Qg6+ 36.Qg5? 36. Kh4 Qxg2 37. Rxb7 wins quickly.

Qxg5+ 37.fxg5 Bc6 38.Kf4 Nd7 39.e6 Nf8 40.e7?? Time trouble?  40. Kxf5 and black can resign.

40…Ng6+ The dancing horse picks up the errant bishop on g2.  What a turnaround!

41.Kxf5 Nh4+ 42.Ke5 Nxg2 43.Ra6 Bb5 43…Be8 is equal. The text is also equal.

44.Ra5 Bd7?? Time trouble?  44…c6 45. Kd6 Bd3 is equal.

45.Rxd5 White is winning again.  Bxh3 46.Rd8+ Kf7 47.e8Q+ Black resigns 1-0

If you drink enough from the bad bottle, it distorts your senses and suddenly … well …. the metaphor is confusing because I can’t keep it going for both players.

And Now for Something Completely Different

There’s some sort of musical piano code embedded in Leo Martinez’s Arizona Scorpions blog posts.

Guest Commentator

Look for me to find all sorts of fresh talent in the upcoming weeks.

Fresh Talent

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2 Responses to “USCL Week 3”

  1. Robby Adamson Says:

    Nice analysis Mark. Now about that book on how to refute Smith Morra Gambit?

    Why buy a book when you can just watch the ICC Siciilan videos (coming out shortly). Prepare to be wowed as sacrificial attacking lines are introduced for … black. :O

  2. ejh Says:

    Sometimes the Scotch is “off” when you get it out of the barrel

    Beer, yes, but Scotch?

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