Scorpions Problems Persist
The Scorpions lost in Week 8 (again!, sigh) to Seattle 1.5-2.5.
M. Ginsburg – S. Mikhailuk (2437), Gruenfeld Exchange
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8. Rb1
The key move popularized by Gelfand and Khailfman to reduce g7-a1 pressure. In many lines later on Bc1-b2 trading bishops and weakening black’s dark squares occurs.
8…O-O 9. Be2 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qa5+ At present, the main line.
11. Bd2 Qxa2 12. O-O a5 12… b6 and 12…Bg4 are big alternatives.
13. Qc1!? White has other moves here too but the text is very interesting.
13…Qe6 Black has to evacuate his queen.
14. Bc4!? 14. Re1 is possible too. An amusing variation is 14…Qxe4 15. Bc4 Qg4 (15…Qc6 is weaker) 16. Bh6 Qd7 17. Ne5 Qd8 (Black’s queen wanders and makes a strange impression, but nothing for white can be seen here except:) 18. Bg5 Bf6 19. Bh6 with a repetition draw! In retrospect, there is another interesting move I did not see here – it is 14. e5!? Nc6 15. Qc5! establishing a bind! If 15…Rd8 16. Rb5! keeps pressure! Black’s …a7-a5 has a drawback of increasing white’s pressure on the b-file and this line needs further investigation.
Position after 14. Bc4
14…Qxe4 Black might as well do this. 14…Qd7 15. Bf4 Nc6 16. Bb5 Qd8 17. d5 Nd4 18. Bc7! is a funny queen trap variation showing the dangers of not taking on e4. Now the game is very sharp.
15. Bxf7+ Rxf7! The best defense. 16. Qxc8+ Rf8 17. Qc4+ Nothing is offered by 17. Qxb7 Qxb7 18. Rxb7 a4 with an equal game after the thematic 19. Rxe7 a3.
17…e6 18. Ng5!? Possible is 18. Ne5 but black holds after 18…Qd5 or 18…Ra6.
Position after 18…Qd5
19. Qd3?! Not very impressive. Just because an opening starts out attacking doesn’t mean white is committed to always attack! The right team-choice at this point is safety with 19. Rfc1! and white will regain the pawn with an equal game. An example is 19. Rfc1! Ra6 (19…Bxd4?? 20. Nxe6 Qxc4 21. Rxc4 Bxf2+ 22. Kf1! (but not 22. Kh1?? Re8! 23. Rxb7 Ra7! and black is doing more than simply escaping) and white wins) 20. Qxd5 exd5 21. Rxb7 Bxd4 22. Be3! Bxe3 23. fxe3 Rc6 24. Ra1 and white is too active for black to try anything. Not very good, on the other hand, is the immediate 19. Qxd5?! exd5 20. Rxb7 Nc6 21. Rc1 Nxd4 22. Rcc7. At first glance this looks scary but after the simple 22…Be5 23. Rxh7 a4! black is asserting himself.
Insane in Space? No thanks, I’ll do it at the chessboard.
20. Rfc1?? This is the last straw. White had the simple 20. Qe2 hitting e6 with an OK game. In black’s time trouble, white becomes totally irrational.
20…Nd7 To show the ineptitude of white’s play, 20…Nc6 was also very strong: 21. Rc5 Qxd4!.
21. Rc7 Bxd4 The rest is a massacre.
22. Qh3 Bxf2+ 23. Kh1 h5 24. Qc3 Bd4 25. Qc4 Raf8 26. h4 Qxc4 27. Rxc4 Rf1+ 0-1
And when IM Altounian emerged out of his secret alcove to announce that he, too, lost, I knew the Scorpions unpleasant losing streak was likely to continue (although good game by the resurgent Warren Harper on board 4).
Nakamura flames on his blog, “Another note which I’d like to comment on is that I recently noticed GM Wolff annotated the game Esserman-Lian and said the Smith-Morra is a bad opening. I do not believe someone like Wolff who has been retired from chess for so many years and would rather make money at a hedge fund than play chess has any right to comment on the current state of chess theory. I would also straight up say that in a 10 game match in the Smith-Morra, Wolff would lose to Esserman if he played black.”
Why the hating on Wolff? Wolff helped Anand in the World Championship cycle. It wasn’t in the 1800’s. That work, I would hazard to guess, involved some openings. The Smith-Morra isn’t very good, as Hikaru knows, (soon Chess.FM audiences will know too), so why this bluster? And why would he posit that Esserman can beat Wolff in a match? I would hazard to guess that Wolff can improve on Esserman’s (not very highly rated) opponents quite sub-standard defenses. A very bizarre hate-burst on Naka’s part. Is it because he hates Wolff’s hedge fund? Or some other behind the scenes reason? Is it the bad memory of the unnecessary Bhat defeat spraying poop mist on his soul and causing an unprovoked torrent of bluster? He should apologize (not that this ever happens).
This is one of the strangest chess blogs I’ve seen in a long time, leaping from unsubstantiated to hostile and winding up in ludicrous (the laughable “match prediction”). It’s hardly worth the time for Wolff or Esserman to comment, it’s so silly and spiteful.