Archive for the ‘Leo Martinez’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: The 2007 Arizona State Championship

January 29, 2008

In prior years, the Arizona State Championship was named the “Colonel Webb Memorial” and was a round-robin. In 2003 I tied for first with WGM Belapovskaya and in 2005 I tied for first with IM Nikolai Andrianov. I didn’t play in 2006.

The 2007 edition actually took place in January 2008 and was “housed” as the Tucson Open Swiss.

Here’s an interesting rook ending from the last round between two young Tucson Masters. Leo will be the manager of the new USCL team, the Arizona Scorpions. The situation was that white had 3 out of 4 going in (he had previously lost to IM Levon Altounian) and black had 3 1/2 out of 4 (he had drawn me and won the rest). I was playing Altounian on board 1 (actually, my game was already drawn and Levon and I finished with 4 out of 5) and this was taking place on board 2. So white needed to win for a share of first and black needed to hold a draw.

NM Leo Martinez – NM Vaishnav Aradhyula


White to move – What Result? Test your knowledge.

Well, it certainly looks good for white with his king closer to black’s passed a-pawn. Optically the a-pawn seems corralable. But are appearances deceiving? For example, 1. Kb3? Ke5 2. Ra1 Kd4! obviously won’t do the trick. Can white win it?

Time for the Quiz

Here are a series of questions to test your knowledge of rook endings.

Question 1. With best play for both sides, what is the correct result?

Question 2. In the game, white (a little short of time with 7 minutes in the sudden death; black had 26) played 1. f4. Is this the right move?

Question 3. After 1. f4, black played the natural 1…g5. What now is the correct result?

After 1. f4 g5 white continued with 2. hxg5+ hxg5 3. fxg5+

Question 4. Is the line played in (4) better, worse, or the same as 2. g3?

Question 5. Is the line played in (4) better, worse, or the same as 2. fxg5+ hxg5 3. h5?

Question 6. Is the line played in (4) better, worse, or the same as 2. hxg5+ hxg5 3. g3?

Question 7. Black played in the game, of course, 3….Kxg5. What is the correct result after 3….Kxg5? Give a sample line to back it up. The game saw a logical conclusion that I will post.

Answers and the game continuation will be posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008.


1. draw. Black will always have a weak pawn on the kingside to counterattack when white rounds up his far-flung a-pawn.

2. Yes. Any other move allows the black king to approach the c-pawn with a very easy draw.

3. It’s still a draw.

4. The same. Black can, for example, play …a2 and Ra3+.

5. Better. Only black can hope to win after that ridiculous continuation.

6. The same. It’s still totally drawn. Black can also draw by sacrificing his a-pawn to cut off the white king on the a-file, and simply bringing his King to c5, blockading white’s passed pawn. Then white can make no progress.

7. The game proceeded with the crystal clear 3…Kxg5 4. Kb3 a2 5. Ra1 Kg4 6. Rxa2 Rxa2 7. Kxa2 Kg3 8. c5 Kxg2 9. c6 f4 10. c7 f3 11. c8=Q f2 and agreed drawn, since an f-pawn and a King draw a queen if the superior side’s king is far away. At some moment, when white plays Qg3+ with the black king on g1 and the black pawn on f2, black simply plays ….Kh1! with the idea Qxf2 stalemate. This stalemate trick saves black when he has an f-pawn or an h-pawn.

Thus 1/2-1/2 and Aradhyula joins the author and Altounian as co-winners of the 2007 Arizona State Championship. Altounian narrowly won the “Modified Median” tiebreaks to take home the plaque.

Here are two of my games from the event.

M. Ginsburg – Zhu, Round 1   English Opening, Closed Sicilian Reversed

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 Bc5 4. Bg2 d6 5. e3! f5 6. Nge2 Bb6?  Black needed to move his a-pawn here.

7. d4 Nf6 8. b4!  This is the problem with black’s 6th move.

8…a5 9. b5 Ne7 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Qxd8+ Kxd8 12. Ba3  It’s almost lost now for black; all the dynamism is gone from his game.

12…a4 13. O-O e4 14. c5 Ba7 15. f3  exf3 16. Bxf3 c6 17. Nd4  The game is notable for white’s refusal to give an obvious rook check on d1.

17…Bd7 18. bxc6 bxc6 19. Rab1 Kc7 20. Nxa4 Ned5 21. Bxd5!  White should have no preconceptions about keeping the light-squared “English” bishop.

21…Nxd5 22. Nxf5 Bxc5  Black’s break-out attempt leads to disaster.

23. Bxc5 Rxa4 24. Bd6+ Kd8 25. Nd4!  The attack is too strong.  More crude moves, such as 25. Nxg7, win too but the text is the nicest.

25…Rc4 26. Rf7 Rg8 27. Rb8+ Bc8 28. Ne6+ Ke8 29. Ra7  Or the flashier 29. Rfb7.  Either move forces mate.  Black resigns.


J. Cox – M. Ginsburg, Round 4    Sicilian Kan

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Qb6 6. Nb3 Qc7 7. O-O Nf6 8. Qe2 d6 9. c4 Nbd7 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Bd2 Ne5  Playable is 11… b6 12. Rae1 Bb7 13. f4; black won a complex struggle in Gaertner,G (2305)-Zivanic,M (2451)/ INT 2005.

12. f4 Nxd3 13. Qxd3 b6 14. Rae1 Bb7 15. Nd4 O-O Black is all right.  He could also play 15…Nd7 first.

16. Kh1 Nd7 17. b3 Qc5  More normal is 17… Nc5 18. Qe2 Rac8 19. f5 Bf6 and chances are balanced.

18. Nf3 Rad8 19. Be3 Qh5  This extravagant queen maneuver is actually OK; it’s hard for white to do anything.

20. Qe2 b5!?  Sharp.  There is also 20… h6 waiting.

21. cxb5 axb5 22. g4?  White has to go for the ending after 22. Qxb5 Qxb5 23. Nxb5 Bxe4 24. Bb6 Rb8 25. Rxe4 Rxb6 26. a4 d5 27. Re2 Nc5 28. Rb1 and white is hanging on.

22… Qxg4  The a8-h1 diagonal is now an insoluble problem for white.

23. Qxb5 Ba8 24. Nd4 Nf6?!  Crushing is 24… Nc5 with the nice variation 25. Rg1 Qh5 26. Bf2 Rb8 27. Qe2 Qxe2 28. Rxe2 Rfc8! 29. Rg3 Bh4! 30. Rge3 Bf6 31. Rf3 Rb4! winning; all the black pieces are working to maximum effect.

25. Bd2 Rc8 26. Rg1 Qh5 27. Rg5?  Correct was 27. Qg5 Qg6 28. Qxg6 hxg6 29. h3 d5 30. e5 Ne4 31. Nxe4 dxe4 32. Be3 Rc3 and black has an edge but it’s not lost.

27… Nxe4 28. Nxe4  The amusing try 28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Qxh5 is met by 29…Ng3 double check 30. Kg1 Nxh5.

28… Bxg5 29. Qxg5 Bxe4+ 30. Rxe4 Qd1+ 31. Be1 d5 32. f5 dxe4 I had a game once with IM Kamran Shirazi featuring a nice queen sac by me where white went for a mate and I took all his pieces in time.  The current game is similar.

33. f6 Qxe1+ 34. Kg2 g6 35. Qh6 Rc2+!  Deflection theme.  White gives up in view of 36. Nxc2 Qe2+ 37. Kg1 (37. Kg3 Qf3+ 38. Kh4 Qxf6+ 39. Kg3 Qf3+ 40. Kh4 f6! winning) 37… Qd1+ 38. Kg2 Qxc2+ 39. Kg1 Qd1+ 40. Kf2 Qf3+ 41. Ke1 Qxf6  destroying the mate threat.



The Classic 00s 2005: Battles in the Sonoran Desert

August 20, 2007

Note to reader: if you’re looking for the E. Vicary analysis insanity it is here.  Also, the most recently edited historical article:  The Manhattan Chess Club Memoirs.

The Ye Olde Pueblo in Tucson Arizona always attracts its share of feisty desert battlers. And warm it is in July in Tucson.

Mark Ginsburg – Leo Martinez Alekhine’s Defense, 5…c6

This game features a little-known sideline in the Alekhine’s Defense that has a definite right to exist.

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Be2 c6!? Worth close study.


6. O-O A very popular try here is 6. Ng5!? Bf5 (Black might want to prefer 6… Bxe2 7. Qxe2 dxe5 8. dxe5 e6 9. O-O Nd7 10. c4 Ne7 11. Nc3 h6 12. Nf3 Qc7 13. Re1 O-O-O! 14. b4 g5 15. Bb2 Ng6 16. Ne4 g4! and black won the opening discussion in Markzon,G (2267)-Szmetan,J (2408)/Buenos Aires 2003/CBM 097) 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 h6 9. Nf3 e6 10. O-O dxe5 11. dxe5 Nd7 12. Rd1 Qc7 13. c4 N5b6 14. Qe2 g5 15. h3 Bg7 16. Re1 Nc8 17. b3 Ne7 18. Ba3 c5 19. Nc3 a6 20. Ne4 O-O 21. Bb2 Ng6 22. Nf6+! Bxf6 23. exf6 Qf4 24. Rad1 Rad8 25. Nh2! Kh7 26. Ng4 e5 27. Rd5! and white was on his famous opponent like a pitbull on a poodle, and went on to win in Book – Reshevsky, Kemeri 1937. Finally, there are advocates of the more sedate plan 6. c4!? Nc7 (or 6…Nb6) 7. exd6 to steer play in a different direction.

6… Bxf3! The point. Black saddles white with a weak e5-pawn and hopes to prove the bishop pair are not very worthy.

7. Bxf3 dxe5 8. dxe5 e6 9. Qe2 Nd7 10. b3 The more active 10. c4 Ne7 11. Bg4 Qc7 12. f4 O-O-O 13. Be3 does not give anything at all in view of 13…g5!! TN and black is slightly better! In an old game, black actually preferred 13…Nf5? 14. Bxf5 exf5 and was worse in Gligoric-Vidmar, Novi Sad, 1945. Vidmar actually won that game after a grotesque Gliga blunder at a moment where white was winning but that’s moot in this article. Also possible is 10. Re1 Qc7 (10…Bc5!? is interesting here) 11. g3 Bc5 12. Nd2 O-O (The riskier 12…O-O-O is also playable) 13. Bg2 a5 14. Nf3 (14. c4 Ne7 and black is fine) 14…b5 15. Qe4 (15. a4 b4 looks OK for black) 15… Rfb8 16. Bd2 a4 17. h4 b4 18. Rad1 Qb6 19. Re2 Nf8 20. Bh3 Rd8 21. Rc1 and the players agreed to a draw, Leko,P -Onischuk,A Wijk aan Zee 1995. Note that black is better in the final position after, for example, 21…a3 2. b3 Ra7 with the idea of doubling on the d-file. White has no compensating attack.

10… Qc7 The more active 10…Bc5!? 11. Bb2 Nf4 12. Qe4 Qg5 13. Kh1 Ng6 gives black a fine game.

11. Bb2 Nf4 12. Qe4 Ng6 13. Re1 a5 Here black can play 13… Rd8 14. a3 Bc5 15. Bh5 O-O 16. b4 Qb6 17. Rf1 Be7 with an acceptable position.

14. a3 Rd8 15. b4 Qb6?! Unnatural. Better is 15… Be7.

16. Bc3 axb4 16…Be7 17. bxa5 Qc7 is only a little better for white.

17. axb4


17…c5?? A losing blunder. Black overlooked white’s reply. He had to play 17… Be7.

18. b5! Qxb5 19. Na3! The knight gains ideal squares with gain of tempo.

19…Qc6 Everything is hopeless. For example, 19…Qb6 20. Reb1 Qc6 21. Qe1 Qa4 22. Nb5 Qxc2 23. Be4 winning the queen.

20. Qxc6 bxc6 21. Bxc6 Nf4 22. Nb5 White’s pieces flood in and black is forced to lose heavy material.

22…Rc8 23. Bb7 Rb8 24. Ra7 Nd5 25. Bc6 Rd8 26. Ba5


Conclusion: despite the result, this variation is worth more careful study, as it represents a very solid way of playing for black!