Narrow Miss for the Scorpions
Arizona defeated Seattle 2.5 – 1.5 in Week 10 but if we had scored 3-1 we would have made the playoffs on tiebreak, edging out both Seattle and Chicago, because Chicago (despite IM Pasalic defeating IM Bartholomew) lost to Dallas 1.5 – 2.5.
The Arizona match started well with IM Altounian holding += (and eventually drawing) vs GM Serper, and NM Harper winning a nice attacking game a while later on board 4 vs NM Lee. That left Robby Adamson on board 3 playing WGM K. Rohonyan and me on board 2 as black against FM Slava Mikhailuk.
S. Mikhailuk (SEA) – M. Ginsburg (ARZ) Catalan Accepted
1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Nbd7 6.Bg2 a6 7.Qxc4 b5 8.Qc2 Bb7 9.Bg5 c5 I had prepared something different but in the game white avoids the most critical paths.
10.0-0 Rc8 11.Qd2?! Trying to draw? 11…h6 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 Black has no problems and, as happened in the game, can put his dark-squared bishop to very good use.
13.dxc5 Bxc5 14.Qxd8+ Kxd8 15.Nbd2 15. Ne5? Bxg2 16. Nxf7+ Ke7 17. Nxh8 Be4! and white loses.
15…Ke7 16.Rac1 Bd5?! After a long think, a rather irrelevant move. The simple and natural 16…Rhd8! 17. Nb3 Bb6 18. Ne5 Ne4! leaves black with a significant advantage. For example, 19. Nd3 a5! with pressure. I missed 18…Ne4! totally. In addition, 16…Rhd8! might cause a miniature: the plausible 17. Rfd1?? Ng4 18. e3 Nxe3! and wins immediately.
17.Ne5 Bd4!? 17…Bb4 18. Nb3 Bd6 is equal but I was anxious to “keep winning chances alive” – too bad the match situation eventually did not require that!
The computer spots 18…Bxa2!? 19. Nb4 Bxb2 20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Nxa2 a5! with interesting complications.
19.Bxd5 Nxd5 20.Nb3 Bb6 21.Ne5 a4 22.Nd2 a3! 22…Nb4 23. a3 Nc2 is also about equal, but with black more active. The text frees up c3 as a post for black’s knight.
23.bxa3 Nc3 24.Kg2 Rhd8 25.Nb3 Nxe2?! Too hasty. Correct, and a move I had seen but inexplicably did not select, was the “ejecting” f7-f6 and black has an edge.
26.Rc6?! Better is 26. Nc6+ Kf6 27. Nxd8 Nxc1 28. Rxc1 Rxd8 29. Rc6 Rb8 30. Nc1 Ke7 31. Nd3 with only a very small black edge.
26…Bc7 27.Nf3 Bd6 28.Rb6 Nc3 29.Nfd4 Kf6 30.Nxb5 Nxb5 31.Rxb5 Bxa3 32.Ra5 Ra8! 33.Rxa8 Rxa8 The smoke has cleared somewhat and black has a solid edge. He has a better minor piece and pressure against the weak pawn. This is actually a textbook example of the bishop’s superiority over the knight in an open board.
Position after 34. Rd1. Black to play and torture white for a long, long time.
34…Bb4?? Totally wrong. 34…e5! keeps the a-pawn locked up, prevents Rd4, and black continues to improve his game with kingside pawn advances. He can press for a long time for the full point. At this point I had a psychological problem – I had glanced at Robby’s game and Rohonyan had a strong knight on d4 but some weak pawns. It looked unclear to me. Since we were about to go up 1.5 – 0.5 (Harper was winning) I wasn’t sure if I needed to win or draw. This uncertainty persisted, because as I got low on time I didn’t recheck (a blunder) Robby’ game – he shortly won a pawn and was on his way to winning, but I never knew that. If I knew he was winning, I would have saved a lot of energy and time just drawing and not pressing crazily for a win.
35.Rd4! Now white’s a2-pawn escapes its tomb and gets to a4 and it’s equal.
35…Bc3 36.Rc4 Be5 37.a4 g5 38.Kf3 Ke7 39.Ke4 Bd6 40.Nd4 f5+ 41.Kd3 g4 42.Kc2 h5 43.Kb3 f4 43…Rb8+ 44. Nb5 Rb6! 45. Rc8 Kd7 46. Rh8 Bc5! is equal and easy to play. In addition, 43…Kd7 (doing nothing) for example 44. Nb5 e5! preventing Rd4.
44.Nb5 fxg3 44…f3 is not bad either. For example, 45. Rc6 Be5 46. Kb4 Rd8! 47. Rc2 Rd1 48. a5 Ra1! is dead equal.
45.hxg3 Rf8 46.Rc2 h4?! Too frisky. 46…Rb8! just waiting is correct.
Position after 47. Nxd6: Problem-like continuation possible
The aesthetic 47…hxg3!! is a great move in sudden death. On the very plausible 48. Ne4 black has the problem-like 48… g2! 49. Rc1 g3!! and only white can worry now. In time-trouble white would probably choose the safe 48. fxg3 Kxd6 49. a5 and then 49…Rb8+! sidelines the white king — 50. Ka4 e5 51. a6 e4 and black will make a draw.
48.gxh4 Rf3+ 49.Kb4 Rh3 50.Kb5 Rxh4 51.a5 Rh1 52.Rc4 Rf1 53.a6 Rxf2 54.a7 Rf8 55.Rxg4 Kd5 56.Rg7 e5 57.Rd7+ Ke4 58.Kb6 Even after black’s inaccurate play (considering the dream risk-free edge after the 33rd move), this position is still fairly easily drawn.
58…Ra8?? Why this passive move? If 58..Kf3? white has the elementray tactic 59. Rf7+!, but with a little more time I spot the simple 58…Ke3! to assist the e-pawn and draw. 58…Ke3! 59. Rb7 threatens Rb8, but then 59…Ra8 60. Rb8 Rxa7 61. Kxa7 e4 and it’s a simple draw. The text makes black’s drawing path narrower. I had very little time left and was tortured by thoughts of “not winning” (not realizing Robby was winning) and didn’t know I only had to draw! Bad team play.
59.Kb7 Rxa7+ 60.Kxa7 Kf3 61.Rf7+ Ke3 62.Kb6
Position after 62. Kb6
The entire playoff comes down to this diagram. Only one way to qualify…
62…Kd4?? At this late stage, it was still drawn. The blunder in the game is the final straw. A student of endings knows, without needing time to think, 62…e4! 63. Kc5 Kd3 64. Rd7+ Kc3 65. Re7 (65. Ra7 comes down to the same thing) 65…Kd3 66. Ra7 e3 67. Ra3+ Kd2 68. Kd4 e2 69. Ra2+ Kd1 70. Kd3 hoping for 70…d1=Q?? 71. Ra1 mate. But black underpromotes, 70…d1=N+! and after 71. Kc3 Nf3! black draws and we make the playoffs. Of course it would be tragicomic here if black had set ‘always queen’ on in Blitzin and that caused 70…d1=Q. Very disappointing.
63.Kb5 e4 64.Kb4 Kd3 65.Rd7+ Kc2 66.Re7 Kd3 67.Kb3 e3 68.Rd7+ Ke2 69.Kc2 Black resigns 1-0
Robby won a few minutes later against WGM Rohonyan to give the Scorpions a 2.5 – 1.5 match victory 😦
An agonizing playoff miss by the narrowest of margins.
Unrelated: Remind me why the ban on assault weapons was lifted?
The availability of weapons that spray out lots of bullets really fast is not exactly the best thing for society. Let’s see two recently examples (every day there are more). Conversely but not surprisingly, it’s hard to find a story where “Joe Six Pack” owning an AK-47 or an Uzi is a “good thing” for society. In any case, thanks, NRA for this Halloween merriment!
SUMTER, South Carolina (AP) 11/01/08 — An ex-convict who said he thought he was being robbed gunned down a 12-year-old trick-or-treater, spraying nearly 30 rounds with an assault rifle from inside his home after hearing a knock on the door, police said Saturday.
And thanks NRA for good-timey machine-gun shoot-offs!
Westfield, MA 10/26/08
An event at a Westfield gun club turned tragic today when an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head and later died at a Springfield hospital, Westfield Police said.
The child’s death — caused by a fully automatic Uzi machine gun — appears to have been an accident; but it remains under investigation, police said.
The Westfield Police Department released a statement about what they described as a self-inflicted, accidental shooting, which occurred at 2 p.m. at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club on Furrowtown Road.
In a telephone interview tonight, Westfield Police Officer Carl Girard confirmed the boy died of his injuries — a wound to the right side of the head — at Baystate Medical Center. Police did not release the child’s name, nor did they say where he lived. The Springfield Republican reported that the child was not from Westfield.
“Witnesses state that he was shooting the weapon down range when the force of the weapon made it travel up and back toward his head, where he suffered the injury,” the police statement read.
The boy’s father was at the event and accompanied him to the hospital, police said.
The sportsman’s club was hosting its annual “Great New England Pumpkin Shoot” during the weekend, police said. Officials from the club could not be reached.
The event was organized by C.O.P. Firearms & Training, an Amherst company which, according to its website, organizes machine gun shoots throughout New England. Officials from that group also could not be reached. (if they started to talk about the fundamental right to own assault weapons, that might generate further bad press).