The Fabulous 00s: Scorpions Continue Winning Ways

Week 9 USCL Action: Arizona 3 Seattle 1

Going into the match, I was not hopeful at all about our chances.   HA81 said we would lose by the distance between two raindrops.  We were not sure what a “raindrop” is, but weather-wise we had woes: Tucson had encountered a cold snap and temperatures had dropped from the 80s to the 60s.  Our team was besides itself looking in closets for emergency general-use hoodies.  And, one of our team assistants came into the room having previously suffered from a combination of Swine Flu, Mono, and Regular Flu.  It was a potent and potentially lethal combination of virii.  Did you enjoy that plural of the word ‘virus’?  I know I did.  Virii!  In college, I took Virology (a Graduate-level course) from Dr. Jane Flint at Princeton.  I was a junior and full of hubris.  Having failed the first midterm with a 47 out of 200, (I was told this was more like a “K” or an “L” than an “F”),  I learned fortuitously I still had a day left to “Drop Class” option.  And Drop Class I did.  I’m going to have to blame the Student Union here.  They served beer to anyone (NJ was an “18” drinking age state at that time). But I remember that word, virii!  In summary, if elected, I pledge to bring back “18” drinking age states!

Here is a photo of our fourth board, Amanda Mateer, going over some opening possibilities with our first board, Alejandro Ramirez at the playing site (Agricultural Resource Economics Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ).  You know what they say about prep, the substantial majority of the time is spent on stuff that did not occur.


Prep Time

Soon it was time to start and the games got into full swing.  I went to our commentary room down the hall and monitored the progress from there.

The first board, Nakamura-Ramirez, turned into a very interesting strategical affair in an Alekhine’s.

Board 1. GM Nakamura – GM Ramirez  Alekhine’s Defense

1.e4 Insta-moved (after Naka was 20 minutes late to the board)

1…Nf6 Insta-moved.

2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 4. Nf3 is a whole different story.

3…Nb6 5.exd6! 5. f4 had its heyday in the 1970s and never came back. Ljubo defended some wild games on the black side.

5…exd6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.Ne2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nbc3 Re8 10.Be3 Nb4 11.b3 Nxd3 12.Qxd3 Bf6 13.Rad1


Tough Road Ahead

A nice setup for white. Although black nominally has won the bishop pair, he must still work hard to equalize from this start position.


Interesting.  Yermo was kibitzing and liked 13…Bg4 but it appears 14. Rde1! with the idea of Ne2-f4, defusing black’s plan of Bg4-h5-g6, leaves white with a plus.

14.a4 A good idea for white here would be 14. Ng3! controlling f5 and preventing black’s equalizing plan.

14…d5 15.c5 Bf5 16.Qd2 Nc8 17.Bh6 Ne7 18.h3 Be6 19.g4 Bh8 This bishop has to get out of the way to prepare …f7-f5 later, which will be a necessary space-gaining defensive mechanism.

20.Qf4 Nc6 21.Qg3 Qd7 22.Bf4 Rac8 23.Rd2 a6 24.Rb1 b6 25.b4 bxc5 26.bxc5 Na5

Typical of the Alekhine’s, the horse finds a nice spot on c4.  Black is fine.

27.Kh2 f5 28.g5 Bf7(?!)

28…Nc4!? 29. Rdd1 c6 is a very solid way to play.

29.Rdd1 Qc6

The queen looks a little strange here.

30.Ng1! Nc4 31.Nf3 Bg7 32.Re1 Suddenly black has problems!  White can choose when to occupy e5 especially with a bishop.  If black is not careful, the wrong pieces will come off the board and white will have a crushing grip on the dark squares.


Problems Surface!

32…Re4!? A radical Petrosian-style attempt to upset things, and it surprisingly works!  It’s often the case that “disorienting” moves work well.  However, in this particular position, white could have found his way clear to a plus.

33.Nxe4 dxe4 34.Ne5 Bxe5


Key Moment

35.Bxe5? After 35. dxe5 white is better.  For example,  35…Qxc5 36. Rec1! (an important move) 36… Qe7 37. Qb3! Nxe5 38. Qb7!.   Also, enjoy the geometric 36…Rd8 37. Qe3!! – imagine that occurring in a USCL game, the spectators would go nuts! This sort of tactical play is normally Nakamura’s forte.  He may have overlooked black’s response in the game.


A nice fully equalizing shot! Most ICC kibitzers were simply calling for black’s demise here, focusing on the ratings of the players, not the board.  I reminded them to look at the board and general confusion started to take over.  Then the kibitzers switched to the “black is mated on the dark squares” theory but that just isn’t happening here.

36.Qc3 Nf3+ 37.Kg3 Nxe1 38.Qxe1 Qxa4 39.Qc3 39. Rb7 is equal.  The text actually gives black something to work with.

39…Bd5 40.c6 Qxc6 41.Qxc6 Bxc6 42.Rc1 Bd5 43.Ra1


Quiz Time

43…Bc4 44.Rc1 Bd5 45.Ra1    1/2-1/2

A draw was a good result for us, but actually now, in the calm of the next day, the position is good for black.  As a test for yourself, can you identify a 43rd move for black that keeps very good winning chances?   Nobody noticed it while the game was in progress; it’s a hard quiz.

Stay tuned: I will post the other games in this spot.

Board 2.  Altounian-Mihaliuk

Good prep by Levon.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qh4 Nxc3 7.dxc3 Nc6 8.Bf4 f6 9.Bh6 This two-step with the bishop is all Greek to me, but apparently it was Levon’s comfort zone as he was playing rapidly.

9…e5 10.Bxf8 Kxf8 11.Qh6+ Kf7 12.e4 Be6 13.Bb5 g5?

Black should play 13…Qe7.

14.h4 g4 15.Nh2 Qe8 16.Be2 To show how positions can be approached differently, I would play here castles short, and (with perhaps Qe3 thrown in), then play f2-f4 with numerous very nasty threats to pry open black’s king like a sardine can.  Levon plays a completely different plan.

16…Qg8 17.0-0-0 Qg6 18.Nxg4 Qxh6+ 19.Nxh6+ Kg6 20.Ng4 And so white is just a pawn up with a big time edge.  Levon converts easily.

20…Rad8 21.b3 a5 22.Ne3 Ne7 23.g3 a4 24.Kb2 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Ra8 26.Bc4 Bxc4 27.Nxc4 b5 28.Ne3 axb3 29.axb3 Re8 30.Rd7 c6 31.g4 h5 32.f3 Black resigns 1-0

Board 3   Milat – Adamson Benko Gambit

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.g3 d6 8.Bg2 Bg7 9.Nf3 Nbd7 10.Rb1 Nb6 11.b3 Bc8 12.Nh4 h6 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Bb2 g5 I guess this is all topical theory, but black’s position is very precarious.

15.Nf3 Bb7 16.Rd1 0-0 17.0-0 Ra7 18.e4 Rc8 19.Rfe1 Ng4 20.h4 Ne5 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.Qe2 g4 It looks like black has to do this, but it’s very sharp and black had little time left.

24.Qe3 Kh7 25.f4 gxf3 26.Qxf3 Rg8 27.Qh5+ Kg7 28.Bh3 Qe8 But now white spends most of his time and accepts a draw offer!   Kg7 to f8 is not THAT scary.

Given the match situation, white must play on.  Boo. Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2

Board 4.  Mateer-Sinanan  Nimzo-Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 d5 6.e5 Ne4 7.Bd3 c5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Nge2 Nc6 I don’t know theory, but black does not seem to be doing well here.  In addition, he was spending a lot of time.

10.0-0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 cxd4 12.Ba3 Interesting.  I expected 12. cxd Nb4 13. Qb1 Nxd3 14. Qxd3 with a definite plus.

12…Re8 13.cxd4 Qa5 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Bd6 Bg4 16.Ng3 Qd5 17.h3 Nxd4 18.Qb2 Bf3! A clever way to confuse.

19.gxf3 Nxf3+ 20.Kg2? It worked!  20. Kh1! is correct. Then black can play 20…Qe6 to set up the game drawing mechanism.

20…Nh4+? 20…e3! 21. fxe3 Nxe5+ and the bishop on d6 falls.

21.Kh1 Qe6 22.Kh2 Nf3+ 23.Kg2 White offered a draw and indeed this is just a draw.  Black should take it because first of all he’s a piece down; secondly every half point matters in USCL play and his game move was patently hopeless.  The real problem in this match was Milat not fighting on in the board 3 struggle enjoying a substantial time advantage and a plus pawn.

23…Ng5 24.Rh1 Qg6 25.Qe2 f5 26.Qh5 f4 27.Qxg6 hxg6 28.Nf1? Note here 28. h4! just ends the game in white’s favor.

28…Nf3 29.h4 Rac8 30.Rb1 b6 31.e6! Rxe6 32.Bxf4 Once again white is just winning.

32…Rc2 33.a3 Ra2 34.Rb3 Rc6 35.Ng3 Nd4 36.Rb4 Ne6 37.Be3 Rxa3 38.Nxe4 Rc2 39.Kf3 Rd3 40.Ra1 Rd7 41.Rba4 Rcc7 42.Ng5 Nd8 43.Bf4 Rb7 44.Re1 Re7 45.Rae4 Nc6 46.Bd6! A nice way to finish up.

46…Nd4+ 47.Kg2 Black resigns 1-0

When all was said and done, we had won the match 3-1!  Quite an upset!  And nobody was happier than Amanda Mateer, who found a nice Bd6! move to finish her game!  To his credit, her opponent NM Sinanan refused a draw in a drawn position (forced repetition) to battle on for his team a piece down. Some would just call it foolhardy, but it did give Amanda the much-coveted t-shirt.

Here’s a photo of the happy team.


The Happy Squad

From left to right:  Levon Altounian, Robby Adamson, Amanda Mateer, and Alejandro Ramirez.

We attracted quite a few fans in the commentary room.  There was even a dork wearing a strange T-Shirt (much inferior to the one Amanada Mateer won from Endgame Clothing!).


Dorky Spectator

Yale Wing Chun Kung-Fu at a Scorpions-Seattle match?!

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