The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 6 Opening of the Week (OOTW)

The Inscrutable Chinese Dragon

I guess we could say it’s a gambit of structure (backward pawn on d6 after black moves e7-e5) for activity.  It’s not to my taste at all, but so far this USCL season Shabalov has tried it versus Kudrin and Kiewra just tried it versus Bick.  And black so far stands at 1-1.

Let’s see these games.

John Bick (TEN) – Keaton Kiewra (DAL)  Chinese Dragon

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. O-O-O Rb8 The characteristic move of the Chinese Dragon.  In 1974-5, Paul Whitehead (upholding black) and Jay Whitehead (upholding white) were debating the merits of the other mainlines in countless blitz games at the San Francisco Mechanics Chess Club with 10…Rc8 and 10….Qa5 and ….Rfc8.

Chinese, anyone?

Chinese, anyone?

In defense of the Chinese, I think it makes more sense than …a7-a6 which Magnus Carlsen tried a few times (notably getting crushed by Topalov).  In case you were wondering how it got its name, Gallagher writes about its dubious origins in the 2002 NIC magazine.  Some journalist just happened to be in China…

11. Bb3 Na5

When the Chinese Dragon first got on the radar in 2002, Chris Ward tried 11… Ne5.  An unimpressed Joe Gallagher wrote in NIC magazine “I do not predict a bright and glittering future for the Chinese Dragon.”  Nevertheless, that game Gallagher-Ward British Ch. 2002 ended in a draw after  12. f4 (12. Bh6 Bxh6 13.
Qxh6 b5 14. Nd5 Nxd5 15. exd5 a5 16. Nc6 Bxc6 17. dxc6 e6 18. h4 a4 is an unsound piece sac for white — 19. h5 Qf6 20. hxg6 Qxg6 21. Qxg6+ hxg6 22. Bxe6 fxe6 23. Rxd6 Kf7 and black is better.

Also possible is 12. h4 b5 13. h5 Nc4 14. Bxc4 bxc4 15. h6 Bh8 16. Nf5 Bxf5! (not 16…gxf5?? 17. Bb6! winning)  17. exf5 Qa5 18. fxg6 Ne4 19. fxe4 Qxa2! (the tempting at first glance 19…Rxb2? 20. g7! wins for white) 20. Nxa2 Bxb2+ 21. Kb1 Bc3+ with a humorous draw!

12… Neg4 13. Bg1 b5 14. h3 b4 15. hxg4 bxc3 16. Qxc3 Rc8 17. Qg3 Bxg4 18. Re1 Qa5 19. c3 e5 20.
fxe5 dxe5 21. Nf3 Rxc3+!  Not very hard to see but nevertheless a pleasing drawing combination from Chris Ward, Dragon aficionado.

22. bxc3 Qxc3+ 23. Kb1 Rc8 24. Bxa7 Qd3+ 25. Kb2 Qc3+ 26. Kb1 Qd3+ 27. Kb2 Qc3+ {And drawn, Gallagher-Ward British CH 2002.})

Conclusion:  11…Ne5 needs re-examination because the way this game goes isn’t very pleasant for black.

12. Bh6 Bxh6

It’s not risky per se to have the white queen drawn out to h6, but it can always go back and black has not gained time. 12… b5 13. Nd5 Nxb3+ 14. Nxb3 Bxh6 15. Qxh6 doesn’t look too different from the game and black has problems.

13. Qxh6 b5 The weird gambit 13… e5 14. Nde2 b5? (marginally better 14… Nxb3+ {Kurnosov-Pavlovic, Hastings 2009 but black faced the usual difficulties and white won} was played in Zambrana-Yuan, Sao Paulo 2008.  White then played the lemon 15. h4? and lost but he should have taken on d6 with an edge.

14. Nd5! Of course!   This is a key moment.

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

14…e6?! As Shabalov played against Kudrin earlier in the USCL year, but this position is just suffering for black.  Die-hard Chinese-ites will play 14….e5 here and claim near-equality.  And maybe they are right – it’s hard to break down black’s game.  Afterthought: the move 14…e5 15. Nf5!? is interesting here and worth careful examination; white might keep a small plus. I don’t know how much 15. Nf5!? has been analyzed elsewhere; better ask Golubev. 🙂

From black’s point of view, it’s worth also looking at 14…Nxb3+.  This is actually transposing, usually, to 14…e5.  Then, 15. Nxb3 e5 is best met with 16. Nxf6+ Qxf6 17. h4!? or the simple 17. Kb1 and white has a small edge.  Instead,  Robson played 16. h4?! against Papp in Spice(B) 2009, and Papp gained equality after 16…Nxd5 17. Rxd5 Rb6.  Papp lost later after weakening himself unnecessarily with …g6-g5? on the solid kingside and falling prey to a tactic.  Conclusion:  this is the last spot for black to avoid getting  a lasting disadvantage with either 14….e5 or 14…Nxb3 (these two often converge).  We’ll have to ask Golubev what he thinks.

15. Nxf6 Qxf6 16. h4 Qg7 17. Qg5! Excellent, as Kudrin played against Shabalov.  Black is under pressure.   This move pinpoints black’s positional deficiencies and is exactly why I don’t like the 14…e6?! line for black.


It’s hard to recommend anything.  What do the waiting 17…Rb7 or 17…Rfe8 accomplish?  Shabalov played 17…Qe5 18. Ne2 Bc6 19. Rd2 Rfd8 20. Rhd1 Nb7 (clearly black is suffering) 21. Nf4 a5 22. a3 Re8 and here Kudrin could have capped his fine play with the powerful 23 .Qxe5! dxe5 24. Nd3 f6 (forced) 25. g4! and white will break up black’s king side structure with a winning edge. This nice sequence is hard to see in the rapid USCL time control.  Unfortunately, Kudrin went wrong with 23. Nd3? Qxg5 24. hxg5 Kg7 25. e5 Red8 26. exd6 Rxd6 27. Ne5 (white is still better) 27…Rxd2 28. Rxd2 Be8 and now he missed another shot to keep the edge, 29. Ng4! stopping h6.

After Kudrin’s second lemon, 29. Ba2? h6! black was fine and went on to turn the tables in a key match victory, Kudrin (PHI) – Shabalov (TEN) USCL 2009.

18. Bxc4 bxc4 19. h5?! 19. Qe7! looks good.

19…c3?! Leaving the pawn on c4 is stronger, for example 19…Rb7 preparing to double on the b-file.

20. b3 Now the c3 pawn is a goner.

20…Rb4  21. h6 21. Qe3 also kept a big edge for white.

21…Qh8 22. Ne2 Rb6 23. Ng3? The easiest win is 23. e5! d5 24. Nxc3.

23… Rb5? 23…Bb5 was the toughest.  Anyway, we’re far afield from the opening now, so we will show the rest rapidly.

24. Qe7 Qe5 25. Qxd7 Ra5 26. a4 Easiest was 26. Kb1! Qxg3 27. Qxd6 since the game motif 27… Qxg2 is met by 28. Qd4! e5 29. Qxc3 and wins.

26…Qxg3 27. Qxd6 Qxg2 28. Qd4 Qg5+ 29. Kb1 Qe5 30. Ka2  Qxd4 31. Rxd4 f5 32. Rc4 fxe4 33. fxe4 Rh5 34. Rxh5 gxh5 35. Rxc3 h4 36. b4 Rf4 37. Re3 Kf7 38. Kb3 Kg6 39. b5 Kxh6 40. a5 Rf1 41. Kc4 Kg5 42. Rb3 Rf8 43. b6 axb6 44. axb6 Kg4 45. b7 Rb8 46. Kc5 h3 47. Kc6 h2 48. Rb1 Rg8 49. Kc7 Rg7+ 50. Kb6 Rg8 51. Ka7 Kf3 52. b8=Q Rxb8 53. Kxb8 h5 54. c4 Kxe4 55. Rd1! 1-0

Sveshnikov Postscript: Further Weirdness

I’m not understanding why Herman in Herman (NY) – Uesugi (BAL) USCL Week 6 diverged from Martinez-Uesugi USCL 2009 Week 4 in his Sveshnikov matchup in Week 6. After all, maybe Uesugi had not read yet the refutation!

And for Something Different

Clouds whipping around an Island, Mon

Clouds whipping around an Island, Mon

The Karman Votices, a cloud weather pattern as viewed by a satellite.

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