Archive for the ‘John Donaldson’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: The 2008 Chicago Open in Wheeling!

May 26, 2008

A Top-Rate Hotel

The Westin North Shore in Wheeling, IL was a really fantastic venue for the Chicago Open, with excellent restaurants and a 2nd floor sushi-martini lounge called “R/T Lounge” open into the wee hours (not so easy to find, but tour-guide Kurt Stein let me on to the secret and there we (me, Kurt, and Simone Sobel) had some funky sushi rolls and exotic ‘tini’ variants in the wee hours following my annoying Round 3 Shulman loss.

The tournament was strong with many tough battles. And an inadvertently funny sign announcing John Donaldson lectures!

Metaphysical Announcement

I am guessing the hotel didn’t know the term”IM” so wrote “I am”. Very metaphysical – the sign as a person!

Some Games

Here are two tough games vs Yuri Shulman and Irina Zenyuk. In the first game, I lost an agonizing rook ending to new US Champion Yuri Shulman in Round 3, wasting a great novelty in a Slav. When I can face the game score, I will post it here. Let’s go through the grim task of seeing it.

M. Ginsburg – GM Y. Shulman Chicago Open 2008, Round 3. Slav Defense

1. c4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxc4 5. Qa4+ Nbd7 6. e4!? A very interesting start point for opening research. It’s no simple matter to lead a prepared GM off the beaten track and retain decent chances. But that is what this line actually does.

6…c6 White was triumphant in Hebden-Bryson Glasgow 1995 after the somewhat passive 6…Be7 7. Nbd2!? O-O 8. Bxc4. Black can also try 6…a6 7. Bxc4 Rb8?!, but this looks odd. White should be better after the simple 8. Qc2. However, after 8. Bd3?! b5 black came on top in Akesson-Agrest, Gothenburg 2006. Black also has 6…c5!? and this might be his best option. Hebden could only draw Wells in Catalan Bay 2004 with 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Bxc4 Rb8 9. Qc2 b5. The immediate 7. Bxc4 cxd4 doesn’t give much either. The text contains the audacious idea of an early queen raid but it looks very suspicious.

7. Qxc4 Qb6!? Very Dlugy-esque. Hitting e4 and b2; a very materialistic approach reminiscent of young Max Dlugy in his heyday. The problem, though, is that the gambit of the b2 pawn gives white with his accelerated development very good chances and black’s queen is going to a very strange, offside, place.

8. Nbd2! White can also gambit with 8. Nc3 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. Bd3 Nb6 11. Qb3 Qxb3 12. Rxb3 Be7 13. O-O O-O 14. h3 with decent compensation. I had ideas of a later Nd2xc4 eyeing d6. I like the N/d2 placement better.

8… Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. Bd3 h6 11. Bf4 Be7 12. Bc7! This sortie is a good disruptive idea to keep the black queen in a holding pen.

12…O-O 13. O-O Nb6 14. Qc2 Qa4 Black’s lonely and isolated queen makes a very bad impression.

Position after 14…Qa4. How to Proceed?

15. Qc3?

A very unfortunate choice, wasting my novelty and condemning white to an uphill fight in a bad ending. To create a sensational upset, the position demands 15. Rb3! to keep the queens on. White overlooked in the game that black can now trade queens. After, for example, 15…Bd7 16. e5! Nfd5 17. Bd6 Bxd6 (If black does not take, Nd2-e4 gives a huge bind) 18. exd6 and now black has defensive problems with the cutoff queen. The ugly 18…f5 at least avoids 19. Ne5? Qxd4, but donates squares permanently to white.

Or, for example, 18….Rfd8 19. Ne4 Nb4 20. Qe2 Nxd3 21. Rxd3 and white has a huge attack. Black’s remaining pieces are onlookers. If 21… f6? (this deserves a diagram):

Position after 21…f6? (Analysis)

White has the nice double knight sacrifice 22. Nxf6+!! gxf6 23. Ne5 and wins! (23…f5 24. Qh5 Be8 25. Rg3+ Kh7 26. Nf7! and mate.) It’s not often that a double knight sacrifice occurs in practical play.

Another plausible try, 21… Be8 is swept away by an exciting tactical line: 22. Ne5 Nd7 23. Nxd7 Bxd7 24. Nf6+!! Kf8 25. Qe4 Be8 26. Nh7+ Kg8 27. Rg3 Rxd6 28. Qe5 Qxd4

Position after 28…Qxd4 (analysis). White concludes nicely.

29. Rxg7+ Kh8 30. Nf6!! Kxg7 31. Nxe8 double + Kf8 32. Qxd6+ Qxd6 33. Nxd6 and by virtuoso tactics, white is up a piece and should convert.

Finally, a passive move such as 15…Re8 does not solve the problem of the errant queen. White can play 16. Qb2 Bd7 17. Ne5! for example, with a big initiative.

15… Nfd5! The usual phenomenon of white noticing this key resource the moment after executing his lemon 15th occurred in this game. White now acquires the familiar sick feeling of knowing the game has drifted into an unpleasant course and there won’t be an attack any more.

16. exd5 Nxd5 17. Qa5 Qxa5 18. Bxa5 b6 19. Ne5 At least I win the c6 pawn back but I have a bad ending. Not the fearsome attack I had imagined and should have maintained with my 8. Nbd2 gambit.

19...bxa5 20. Nxc6 Bd8 21. Rfc1 Bd7 22. Nxd8 Rfxd8 23. Be4 Rac8 24. Bxd5 exd5 25. Rc5 Rxc5 26. dxc5 Rc8 27. Rc1 Bb5! A tactical motif to round up white’s c-pawn. White battles on.

28. f3 Bc4 29. Kf2 Rxc5 30. Ke3 Rb5 31. Nxc4 dxc4 32. Rc2 g5 33. Kd4 In the game, I thought I now had enough activity with the centralized king. It isn’t so; I don’t have quite enough due to a latent kingside offensive with pawns, king, and rook that black can undertake while I am kept busy with black’s extra and scattered queenside pawns. By the way, the bid for activity with 33. Rxc4 is inadequate after 33…Rb2 34. Ra4 Rxg2 35. Rxa5 Rxh2 36. Rxa7 h5 37. a4 h4 and black is too fast.

33… Rb4 34. Kc3 Again, 34. Rxc4? Rb2 will not save the game for white.

34… Kg7 Black has the simple aim of king side attack and white cannot stop it. The black rook can always enter quickly with Rb4-b1-h1.

35. Re2 Kf6

36. Re8? It was necessary to wait with e.g. 36. Rd2 Ke7 37. Re2+ Kd6 38. Rd2+ Ke6 39. Re2+ Kf5 40. Rd2 Ra4 41. Re2 f6 42. Kb2 Rb4+ 43. Kc3 h5 44. Rd2 but it’s no fun at all.

36… Rb1 Decisive.

37. Re2 Rc1+ 38. Kb2 Rh1 39. h3 Kf5 40. Rc2 Rg1 41. g4+ Kf4 42. Rxc4+ Kxf3 43. Rc7 Kg3 44. Rxf7 Kxh3 Sick and tired, white resigned.


Also in Round 3, this barn-burner where black wasted tons of chances:

GM Alex Shabalov – GM Dashzeveg Shavadorj King’s Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 a5 10.a3 Nd7 11.Rb1 f5 12.b4 Kh8 13.Qc2 Ng8 14.exf5 gxf5 15.f4 axb4 15…Ne7 is the most common. Also seen is 15…exf4. The text is less popular.

16.axb4 c6 TN I could not find this in BigBase. Most popular is 16…exf4 followed by 16…e4 and then 16…Ne7 and 16…Ngf6.

17.Kh1?! Rybka says 17. Nf3! e4 18. Ng5! with an edge.

17…Ndf6?! 17…Ne7! is tougher.

18.dxc6 bxc6 19.c5! exf4 20.Nc4 d5 21.Nb6 Ra7 22.Bd3? Black has a terrible game after either 22. Nxc8 or the direct 22. b5.

22…Ne4 23.Ne2 Ngf6 24.Bxf4?! 24. Nd4 offers a small edge.

24…Ng4 Now it’s about equal.

25.Ng1? Very bad. Necessary is 25. Nxc8 Qxc8 26. b5 Ngf2+ 27. Kg1 Nxd3 28. Qxd3 Nxc5 29. Qc2 and it is about even.

25...Ra3 I was watching at this point and Shavadorj was blitzing out his obvious and strong moves. Shabalov seemed distinctly uncomfortable with defending and was well behind on the clock. I was most surprised later to see ‘1-0’ on the wallchart. Let’s see the ‘accident’.

26.Nh3 Be6 The temporary weirdness with 26…Bb7!? gives black a small edge.

27.Rf3 Ra7 Black was no doubt reluctant to retreat this rook although he retains better chances. Interesting is 27…d4!? and if 28. Bxe4? Ra2! Zwischenzug! 29. Qd3 fxe4 30. Qxe4 Bf5! and black will win.

28.Rbf1 Bf6? Much stronger is 28…Bd4! and if 29. Rd1 Qf6! retains the edge.

29.Bc1 Rg7?! 29…Re8! =+.

30.Nf4 It is about even again.

Bf7 31.Bb2 Rfg8 32.Bxe4? The pendulum swings back to black. 32. b5 or the static 32. g3 were both better.

32…dxe4 33.Rg3 h6? Black waffles again. Strong was 33…e3! and for example, 34. Kg1 Qd2 with an edge. In all lines black is better.

34.Nh3 Be6? Again, 34…Bxb2 35. Qxb2 e3! 36. Qc3 Kh7! and black is better.

35.Nf4 Bf7 36.Nh3 Be6 37.Rd1 Qe7 38.Nf4 Bxb2 39.Qxb2 Kh7 39…Bf7 is more accurate.

40.Kg1 e3 41.Rf1 Rd8?? A really bad blunder. The simple 41…Bf7 keeps level chances.

42.h3! Black must have missed something simple because now he is just losing.

42…Rd2 43.Qc3 From here on out, white plays only Rybka’s top recommendations to finish at more than 4 computer points ahead!

43…e2 44.Re1 Rd1 45.hxg4 Qh4 46.Nxe2 Rxe1 47.Qxe1 Rxg4 48.Qc3 Rxg3 49.Nxg3 f4 50.Ne2 Bf5 51.Qd2 1-0

Poor Dashzeveg Shavadorj. He played too quickly when I was watching.  The Kasparovian ‘monster with a thousand eyes’ imitation didn’t pan out.

Fortified by some midnight eel rolls in the R/T Lounge, I battled on the next morning:

Irina Zenyuk – M. Ginsburg Round 4. Benoni.

1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. e4 Bg4 5. d5!? An interesting response.

5…c5 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O a6 9. a4 Nbd7 10. Be3 Bxf3 11. gxf3!? Very aggressive. It’s a structural concession but white hopes to repair it with f3-f4 later, then f4-f5, then the other f-pawn, and so on. But is there time for all this?

11…Qc7 12. f4 e6 13. Bd3 exd5 14. cxd5 Rfe8 15. Qf3

Position after 15. Qf3.

15…Rac8?! I show superficial familiarity with the structure. It makes the most sense in standard Modern Benoni style to get on with queenside counterplay: 15… c4! 16. Bc2 Nc5 17. Bd4 (17. a5 Nfd7) 17… Nh5! (I did not consider this move during the game) 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Kh1 (19. f5 Qe7! and black is better) 19… Qb6! 20. Rfb1 (or 20. Rab1!? Nf6!? 21. Qe3 Qa7!? with counterplay) 20…Nb3 21. Bxb3 Qxb3 and black has good counterplay. It just wasn’t on my radar to offer the exchange of the g7 bishop and I didn’t want to hand over the d4 square so easily (with 15…c4). In this exact position, with doubled white f-pawns, the bishop trade is a good idea to hold up the rear f-pawn’s advance (establish a dark square blockade between them, an advanced positional concept! So deep as to be a David Bronstein concept, or a Broncept!) On the other hand, the premature tactical adventure 17…Nfxe4? 18. Bxg7 Nd2 19. Qd1 Nxf1 20. Bd4 just doesn’t work.

16. Kh1 Qb6 17. Rfb1 Nh5 18. a5 Qd8 19. Rg1 Kh8!? 19… c4 20. Bc2 Qe7 is again possible but the rather arcane-looking text move is fine.

20. Qh3 Rc7?! I want to use this rook on my 2nd rank to defend, but surprisingly strong is the immediate 20…Bd4! with good chances. White would have to find 21. Ra4! (a hard move to find in time pressure) 21…Bxe3 22. fxe3 to keep equality. Weaker moves such as 21. Rae1? or 22. Raf1? are met by 21…Ndf6! with a large edge to black. Unfortunately, the idea of Bg7-d4 only occurred to me a little later and by then white had greatly improved her position.

21. f5 Qe7 Now, 21…Bd4 22. Bg5! gives black problems.

22. fxg6 fxg6 23. f4 Bd4 24. Raf1 Qg7? 24…Rf8!? 25. Rg5!? Bf6!? with murky play — all tough moves in time pressure.

25. e5! I am a little slow in getting my best defensive structure and White is doing all the right things to make black’s position loose.

25…Bxe3 26. Qxe3 dxe5 27. f5 e4 Black might as well try this clearance but it’s not looking good.

28. fxg6 hxg6 29. Nxe4?! I think simpler is 29. Bxe4 Ndf6 30. Qf3 and white is much better.

29…c4 30. Bc2 Ndf6 31. Qf3 Rf8 32. Nd6?! White should just play 32. d6 and that should be winning. For example, 32…Rc6 33. Qc3! and black is paralyzed. Here’s an exceptionally beautiful variation that can arise: 33…Nh7 (trying to free, but it loses spectactularly!) 34. Rxf8+ Nxf8 35. Rxg6!! Study-like!

Position after 35. Rxg6!! (analysis) – a beautiful winning line.

35…Qxc3 36. bxc3 Nxg6 37. d7!, queening the pawn, and wins! Wasn’t that nice? The text move actually is not bad either, since white could have won anyway as we shall see – but it’s more complicated and in time trouble, that is not good.

32…Qe7 33. Rxg6!? This is tactically correct but not the best. Both sides go a little crazy now in mutual time pressure. White also had 33. Bxg6 with an edge or the snazzier and stronger 33. Nxb7!! Rxb7 34. d6! Qh7 (nothing else) 35. Bxg6 and white wins.

33…Qxd6 34. Rh6+

Position after 34. Rh6+ — An important decision point.

34…Kg7? Neither side has much time to make it to move 40. This is a tactical blunder. Correct is 34… Kg8! and now not 35. Qg2+? Rg7 36. Bh7+ with a perpetual check draw on both king moves to h8 or f7, but instead the very strong 35. Bf5! Re8 36. Be6+ Rxe6 37. dxe6 Qd3 38. Rxf6 Nxf6 39. Qxf6 Qe4+ 40. Qf3 Qxe6 41. Rg1+ and white is well on top, a clear pawn up in a queen ending. For some reason, I was focused on attacking the white rook on h6 with my king and never considered moving to g8. The conclusion is that 33. Rxg6! is fully sound.

35. Rg6+? In time trouble, white misses the knockout 35. Rxh5!! Nxh5 36. Qg4+ Kh8 37. Qxh5+ with Mate in 13! — 37…Kg8 38. Rg1+ Rg7 39. Qh7+ Kf7 40. Rxg7+ and you get the picture. So this game can be safely classified as a ‘lucky escape’ for me. I didn’t make use of some rather large chances offered on move 15 and 20 and drifted into this really bad situation.

35… Kh8 36. Rh6+ Kg7? Once again the blunder but both players were just playing the repetition moves now.

37. Rg6+? It was too much to ask white to re-orient with almost no time and find 37. Rxh5! winning.


A very exciting battle.

And Something Else Artistic

Some art painted by a chess player, Iva Davis.

The chess part of the brain is linked, in some people, to artistic talent! I cannot draw at all, personally.