The US Championship is underway in St. Louis!
Rex Sinquefield’s gala event has started at the new USA Chess Mecca, St. Louis!
Let’s first take a look at the Ben Finegold of yesteryear (Belgium, 1989).
Let’s kick things off with two cagey veterans battling:
[Event “US Champ 2010”]
[Site “St Louis”]
[White “Christiansen, Larry”]
[Black “Gurevich, Dmitry”]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 Dmitry remains true to his Classical Sicilian.
6. Bg5 Larry also has lots of experience with the Sozin 6. Bc4.
6…Qb6 7. Nb3 e6 8. Qe2!? Unusual. I think GM Lanka used to teach people like Shirov to put queens on e2 in Sicilians.
Black misses a very cute potential tactic. Stronger is 8…Be7! hoping for 9. O-O-O O-O 10. g4 – plausible, right?
This would seem to be the idea of 8. Qe2, since it occurred in the game too. Take a look at this for a second.
Now black has the amazing shot 10…Nd5!! and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that move in this type of position. It at least equalizes in all lines! Rybka points out here the ingenious 10…Nd5!! 11. Nxd5 Bxg5+ 12. f4 exd5 13. fxg5 and now guess the right move that leads to a small edge for black! Hint: it’s not obvious. Also note the nice positional line 10…Nd5!! 11. Bd2 Nxc3 12. Bxc3 e5! with …Bc8-e6 coming and black is very happy. Finally, 10…Nd5!! 11. Bxe7? Nxc3 is terrible for white.
9. O-O-O Be7 10. g4 Qc7 11. Be3 b5 12. f4 b4 13. Na4 Rb8 14. Bg2 Na5 15. g5 Nd7 16. Nxa5 Qxa5 17. b3 Bb7 18. Kb1 Bc6?! A little dubious. 18…Qb5 is better.
19. Nb2 Bb5 20. Qf2 Qc7 21. h4 Rc8 22. Rd2 a5 23. h5 a4 24. bxa4 Ba6 25. Bf1 Bxf1 26. Qxf1 Qb7 27. Qg2 Nc5 28. Bxc5 Rxc5 29. Rf1 O-O 30. f5 Re8 31. Qg4?
It was very unLarry-like to miss 31. f6!! Bf8 (31… Bd8 32. Rxd6 wins prosaically) 32. g6!! (Very aesthetic!) and wins. This position deserves a diagram.
That would have been a real cruncher! The bone crushing conclusion would likely have won white the round’s brilliancy prize (I am saying this not knowing if there is one): 32. g6!! hxg6 33. hxg6 gxf6 (what else) 34. gxf7++ Kxf7 35. Rxf6+! (Of course!) 35…Kxf6 (35…Ke7 36. Rdf2 wins) 36. e5+! and wins the black queen – clearance motif! I will leave it as an exercise to the readers to work out the win after 32. g6!! Rc7.
31… exf5 32. exf5 Bf8 33. g6 Re4? Now black is lost again. The centralizing 33… Qe4! puts up a good fight and the issue is not yet resolved. If white trades queens or avoids it he’s only working with a small edge.
34. Qg2 hxg6 35. hxg6 fxg6 36. fxg6 Rf5 37. Qh3 Rxf1+ 38. Rd1 1-0
In Other Round 1 Action
GM Stripunsky uncorked a howler on move 2 vs Nakamura:
1. e4 e6 2. f4?? White crumbles on move 2, losing a tempo. Memo to Nakamura’s future opponents; see what winning chances he can generate after 2. d4! d5 3. Nd2!. If the goal in the Championship is to maximize points, the 3. Nd2! variation fits the bill. Play it for white, it’s not scary! The goal is not to make an ugly pawn move right out of the gate! Naturally, Nakamura went on to win this game. I’ve noticed quite often that players deviate vs. high rated opposition. But as Yermo teaches us, the main lines are the best lines! This lesson was also learned the hard way by Joel Benjamin who avoided Closed Ruy main lines for no reason against Onischuk, choosing a deferred exchange sideline which might be good in blitz but is not good to maximize result expectation in a serious game. Joel got nothing and went on to lose later. Play into the main Closed Ruys! They are not scary!
And for Something Different
I got this photo from ChessBase covering the Corus “C” group in 2010. It’s Nils Grandelius from Sweden; wouldn’t he fit into the Twilight series?
Room for some Comedy Here?
Click several times to enlarge until the riotous comedy emerges. Source article.
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