The Fabulous 00s: 2009 USCL Round 1 Openings Roundup

Week 1 Noteworthy USCL Openings

In Week 1 2009 USCL opening theory action, I will defer Scorpions Games analysis to Levon Altounian and Alejandro Ramirez. I’ll just look at other games around the league.

By the way we got some “film” from the Scorpions playing site in Round 1.

Zaremba (QNS)-Esserman (BOS)  Dutch Defense Anti-Curdo

1.d4  f5  2.Nc3 A recent SOS article talked about the humorous gambit 2. Qd3!? d6 (or 2…d5) 3. g4!? fxg4 4. h3 with light square compensation.  I don’t know what the 2. Qd3 variation is called, but it’s funny.

2… Nf6  3.Bg5  d5  4.Bxf6  exf6  5.e3  Be6  6.Bd3 An old Anti-Curdo weapon from the 1980s aimed to take the fun out of it for black; I managed to beat John in a lengthy game in some New England Swiss.  Across the ocean, Winants and Jadoul in Belgium enjoyed this system too.  In fact, Winants even beat Z. Polgar once on the black side of it at Amsterdam 1990. Objectively, it is good for a safe if tiny edge.  White has to watch out for black’s “shattered” pawns becoming mobile in the middlegame and advancing.

6… Qd7  7.Nge2  Nc6  8.a3

Time for a black plan

Time for a black plan

8…Ne7 This self-blocking move is probably not the strongest, although it has been played by GM Arteshes Minasian.    GM Spraggett played more strongly vs Huss (2380) in Zaragoza 1996 with 8…O-O-O! 9.  Na4?! (white is probably advised not to do this and play instead 9. Nf4) 9…Kb8!  (note how black doesn’t give white any easy attacking toe-holds on the queenside) 10. b4 Qe8! and with careful play Spraggett has equalized and went on to win.

9.b3?! Stronger is 9. Nf4 Bf7 10. h4.  White is preparing Na4 to attack the black king once it goes queenside, but the crux of the matter is that it shouldn’t go there in these changed circumstances.

9…Bf7 Black could play the interesting 9…a6!?and then 10…Ng6 covering c5 versus knight leaps and preparing kingside play.

10.Na4  0-0-0? This is the major strategical miscue.  After 10…b6! keeping the knight out black is all right.  There might follow 11. c4 g6! preparing Bg7 and castles short with good counter-chances. In the game, white built up a decisive attack against the very lonely black king.

11.c4  Kb8  12.Qc2  g6  13.0-0  h5  14.c5 and white scored a crushing attacking victory.

Perelshteyn (BOS) – Vovsha (QNS)  Modern Defense

1.d4  d6  2.Nf3  Bg4  3.c4  Bxf3  4.exf3 Taking toward the center with 4. gxf3 merits serious consideration.

4…Nd7  5.Nc3  g6 Not a bad setup.

6.Be3  c6  7.Qd2  Bg7  8.Be2 It is more aggressive and possibly more promising to put this bishop on d3 since in the game black achieves equal chances soon.

8…Nb6  9.d5  Nf6  10.dxc6  bxc6  11.0-0  0-0  12.Rac1  d5! Black is fine.



13.b3  e5? Asking too much.  Black had the equalizing 13…dxc4!.  If 14. bxc4 Qxd2 15. Bxd2 Rfd8 16. Be3 Ne8! holds up Rfd1 and prepares Rab8 and Nc7 with equality.  If 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 it simply transposes. The game is equal.

14.cxd5  cxd5  15.Bc5! and white went on to win.

Ludwig (DAL) – Lopez (MIA)  King’s Indian Saemisch

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  g6  3.Nc3  Bg7  4.e4  d6  5.f3  0-0  6.Nge2  Nbd7  7.Be3  c5  8.Qd2  Qa5  9.d5  a6  10.Nc1 A common knight regrouping in Benonis but it’s not clear how much it offers.

Decision Time

Decision Time

10…Rb8 (?!) This move may not be necessary.  Black has the surprising 10…Ne5!? with the idea 11. Be2 Bd7 12. f4 Neg4 13. Nb3 Qc7 14. Bg1 (not keeping this bishop automatically gives black a good game) 14…b5! (just in time!) 15. h3 b4! and by hitting the e-pawn black has a good game.

11.Nb3  Qb4  12.Qc2  Ne5  13.a3  Qb6  14.Be2  e6  15.0-0  exd5  16.cxd5  Qc7  17.a4  Bd7 If 17…Nh5 then 18. g4! Nhf6 19. h3!  is a good answer.

18.h3?! 18. a5 looks natural and good.

18….b5  19.Nd2  Rfe8 19…b4 20. Nd1 is similar to the game.

20.Rfe1  b4  21.Nd1  Bc8  22.Rc1  Ned7? The typical Benoni device 22…b3! gives black good counterplay here.  Look at this nice shot: 22…b3! 23. Nxb3? Nxd5!! 24. exd5 Bf5! and white must play 25. Qd2 Rxb3 and black is better.  And after 23. Qb1 Rb4! black is obviously not complaining either.  Black is all right after the game move, but 22…b3! was stronger.

Here is the rest of the chaotic game in which Lopez “slimed” his opponent out of a winning position.

Friedel (SF) – Serper (SEA)  French Defense

1.e4 e6 A surprising departure from Serper’s favorite Kan. Although he lost to Friedel last year in the USCL with this, he also defeated GM Becerra in a nice game.

2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Be7 Shades of Bareev. I’ve been encountering this a lot on the ICC so it must be the new rage.

5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bd3 Nxe4 7.Bxe4 c5 8.0-0 Nd7 9.c3 0-0 10.Bc2 Qc7 11.Re1 Rd8 12.Qd3 Nf8  13.Qe4

Bertholee Power!

Bertholee Power!

13…cxd4? After the correct move 13…Bd7!  2360-rated R. Bertholee  playing black had equality and held a draw vs highly ranked GM Lev Psakhis, Amsterdam 1990.

14.Nxd4 White has a plus now.

Bd7 15.a4 a6 16.a5 Be8 17.h4 Rd5 18.Bb3 Rxa5?? Black can’t do that!  A very bad blunder from Serper. He has to go back to d7 or d8 with a bad game.

19.Rxa5? Not Friedel’s day. 19. Bf4 won for white. 19. Bf4 Qc5 20. Rxa5 Qxa5 21. Qxb7 Qd8 22. Rd1! wins as black’s queen is aesthetically caught in a crossfire.  White still has a big plus after the game move.

19…Qxa5 20.Qxb7 Qd8 21.h5 Bf6 22.Bf4 h6 23.Bc2 The paralyzing 23. Bd6! was strong.

23…a5 24.Qe4 24. Nc6! Qc8 25. Ne7+! is terrible for black.  Here is the rest of the game where Serper refuted an unsound sacrifice. The noteworthy thing about the opening is the improvement mentioned for black on move 13.

Bryan Smith (PHI) – Peter Bereolos (TEN)  Ruy Lopez

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7 12.Nbd2 exd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.d5 Nce5 15.a4 Rb8 16.axb5 axb5 17.Nh2

So far, so good from black’s point of view.


This move should have been total suicide. From an equal game this horrible weakening?    There was no danger here.  For example, 17…Re8 18. f4 Ng6 with equality.   17…Bb7 is also fine with similar play.  Black was acting as if f2-f4 had to prevented at all costs but this certainly is not the case.

18.Ndf1 18. Qh5! is very strong.  When black makes the ugly move f6, white can go back later to e2 or d1 with his queen and carry on.   After 18…Qe8 19. Ndf1 he’ll have to play f6 and suffer.  The game move is fine too.

18…Kh8 19.Ng3 Rg8 20.Ng4? Black’s position is revolting after the obvious 20. Nf5.  After, e.g. 20…c4 21. Be3 or 20..Bf8 21. Bd2 white should win in short order.

20…Nxg4 21.hxg4 Bf6 22.Nf5 Ne5 23.Ra3 Bxf5  and black held a draw in a game Philly really needed.

Kudrin (PHI) – Shabalov (TEN)  Sicilian Dragon

1.e4  c5  2.Nf3  d6  3.d4  cxd4  4.Nxd4  Nf6  5.Nc3  g6  6.Be3  Bg7  7.f3  0-0  8.Qd2  Nc6  9.Bc4  Bd7  10.0-0-0  Rb8 When I first saw the “Chinese Dragon” in the pages of New in Ches, GM Gallagher heaped scorn on it.  Yet he only drew GM Chris Ward.   Since Kudrin plays the Dragon a lot, this is a funny opening choice.

11.Bb3  Na5  12.Bh6  Bxh6  13.Qxh6  b5  14.Nd5! GM Emmanuel Berg got nowhere with 14. h4 e5! with equality, Berg-P. Carlsson Halstahammar 2003.

14…e6  15.Nxf6+  Qxf6  16.h4  Qg7  17.Qg5!

One big exclam to cover all of white’s prior moves; he has a safe edge now.  Black is not helped now by 17…Nxb3+ 18. Nxb3! Rb6 19. h5! with a plus.

17… Qe5  18.Ne2! Give yourself tactical skill points if you noticed white could have played the unusual 18. Qxe5 dxe5 19. Nf5!? here and give yourself positional skill points if you notice black is OK in the resulting position.

18…Bc6  19.Rd2?! The bizarre 19. Nf4! is very strong, threatening to trade queens and play Nd3!

19…Rfd8  20.Rhd1  Nb7  21.Nf4! Still a good idea.  21…a5  22.a3  Re8? 22…a4! is stronger with only a small white edge.

23.Nd3? White would have a huge plus after 23. Qxe5! dxe5 24. Nd3! f6 (forced) 25. g4! and he controls the board.  With the game move he only has a small edge, and unfortunately for Philadelphia   Black went on to score a lengthy, dramatic victory in a tough ending.

And Did You Know?

In NIC magazine, GM Rustam Kasimzhdanov indicates his favorite movie is David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. This is a bizarre choice for favorite movie, as I wouldn’t even rate it highly among Lynch’s own oeuvres.

A Final Shot

Enjoy the image.



5 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: 2009 USCL Round 1 Openings Roundup”

  1. Round 1 USCL Openings Round-up :Arizona Scorpions Says:

    […] September 3, 2009 at 12:48 pm I went over some opening highlights from Round 1 games around the league (not Arizona games, I’m leaving that up to Levon and Alejandro). VN:F [1.6.3_896]please […]

  2. Scourge Says:

    I know this isn’t USCL or even ICC blitz, but hoo-boy. Look at this:

    Tkachiev is a hilarious dude. Read his interview.
    From the 2003 interview description, “he is from Kazakhstan and lives in Cannes. He is 29, flamboyant and eloquent. Vladislav Tkachiev is the star of the ChessBase Magazine 93 multimedia report. In almost 25 minutes of videos the 2634 Super-GM talks about chess in general and his mind in particular, what it is like to face Kasparov and who are the most beautiful women in chess. Interested?”

  3. Scourge Says:

    To put in as few words as possible, I’d have to say that Tkachiev is the reincarnation of Leonid Stein. I’m sure he would deny it, which would only reinforce my belief.

    Stein, the author of this bone-crunching win over ex-WC Smyslov.? But where did Leonid stand on Tkachiev’s cavalier hedonism? I cannot see Leonid organizing a Ladies Chess Beauty Contest.

  4. Granny O'Doul Says:

    That’s why he’s one of the Blitzed Brothers.

  5. casemoney Says:

    Mulholland Drive is great. One of my favorites. I’m with Rustam!

    It’s not bad but come onnnnnn. Well, OTOH, “de gustibus non est disputandum.”

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