The first-ever New York International 2008, a nine round masters’ Swiss, was held at the venerable Marshall CC, on 23 W 10 St in Manhattan from June 21 to 25, 2008 and drew quite a strong field. Dr. Frank Brady was in attendance and Nick Conticello and Steve Immitt directed. Monroi coverage was intermittent. GM Alejandro Ramirez (Costa Rica) and GM Jaan Ehlvest GM Mark Paragua wound up tying for first. The last round was very exciting. Ramirez ground down GM Sergey Erenburg in a superior rook and bishops of opposite colors ending with separated passed pawns. GM Mark Paragua could only draw Elliot Liu in a sharp Schveningen where Liu did an early bum’s rush with g2-g4 but still wound up tying for first and then defeated Ramirez in a tiebreak Armageddon blitz game. Ehlvest beat Mackenzie Molner (who himself needed a win for a GM norm) — an interesting win on the black side of a Keres Attack that I will post later. Yuri Lapshun and I were puzzling over Ehlvest’s Estonian scoresheet, but fortunately Steve Immitt had it on Monroi. The strength of the event is evidenced by the fact that a mere 5 out of 9 was good enough for Molner’s norm.
And when I left, GM Becerra was still slogging for a top prize, torturing IM Sarkar in an objectively drawn ending (R and rook pawn against Bishop and rook pawn) but in sudden death anything can happen, and in fact did, since I see Becerra won it (rather improbably).
Here was a position from Becerra-Sarkar from when I was watching.
Excerpt from Becerra-Sarkar (black to move)
The first move that occurred to me was …h6. This pawn, if immune, destroys any white winning hopes! And it does appear immune. But Sarkar didn’t do it. I did not understand why Sarkar did not build an impregnable defensive line with ….h7-h6!. After this move, white can certainly attack the pawn on h6 but he can never take it with either king or rook and hope to win, because the e-pawn will move to e2, opening up a discovered attack. The e-pawn will cost white’s rook and it will be a draw. I see absolutely no winning attempt for white after …h6!.
In the game, Sarkar *never* played h6. Furthermore, when his king was boxed in, he felt it necessary to give up his passed pawn entirely by playing e3-e2 to give the bishop room. The position then became problem-like with white able to set up various zugzwang motifs. White did win eventually in a game important for the final standings. The moral in sudden-death: locate one iron-clad draw and go for it! Waffling around just leads to trouble This advice also applied to an early round. Blogster Jon Jacobs was playing GM Mark Paragua and had a great game throughout. After some Paragua trickery, black won an ending narrowly. the game became dead drawn, but Jacobs was low on time. Paragua tried one last attempt and Jacobs could not orient himself to go for the iron-clad drawing formation. I will post that excerpt shortly; it is instructive.
In the game, white tried to retain an extra pawn when in fact by letting it go he would reach the draw. Note that the opportunistic Paragua needed this little bit of luck here and in other games (every tournament winner does!) to wind up in the top spots. Here is the game; it is instructive.
Jon Jacobs – Mark Paragua, Round 1. Reti Opening.
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 Bg4 4.O-O Nd7 5.d4 e6 6.Bf4 Ngf6 7.Nbd2 Qb6 8.c4 Bxf3 9.Nxf3 dxc4 10.Qc2 Nd5 11.Bd2 Qa6 12.Rfc1 b5? Of course this is terrible. Tournament winners need luck in the first round! 12…Bb4 would keep the game in reasonable boundaries.
13.b3?! Black has a horrible game after 13. a4! Qb7 14. axb5 axb5 15. Ng5!. In fact, white also has 15. b3! Rc8 16. e4 Nb4 17. Qb1 with enormous pressure. A pleasant choice! The problem for black is that his light square bishop, so sorely needed for the light square defense in the face of white’s mobile center, is not on the board anymore. The text keeps an edge but less than 13. a4!. Here’s another instructive line. 13. a4! Qb6 14. axb5 cxb5 15. b3! cxb3 16. Qb3 and black not long for this world. A possible defense 16…Be7 is crushed by 17. e4 N5f6 18. Ba5! Qa6 (18…Qb8 19. Nh4 wins; 18…Qb7 19. Rc7 wins) 19. e5 (19. Ne5 also wins) 19…Nd5 20. Nd2! and white wins. Black can’t get out of the bind.
13…Ba3 14.bxc4! Of course. White has a big edge. Just not as big as the previous note.
14…Bxc1 15.cxd5 Bxd2 16.dxc6 Nb6 17.Nxd2 O-O 18.Rb1? Strong is 18. Ne4! Nd5 19. Nd6. For example, 19…Rad8 20. Qc5! Nc7 21. Nb7 with a huge bind.
18…Rac8 19.Qb3 Nd5?? Very weak. Correct is 19…Rfd8! 20. e3 Nd5 and black is better and the same verdict is true for 20. Qd3 Nd5.
20.e4 Oops! Black allows the P/c6 to live and he will be suffering.
20…Nc7 21.d5 Rfd8 22.Nf1 White has a big edge again.
22…Qb6 23.Ne3 Qc5 24.h4?! The most efficient is 24. Qb2! with the idea of Rc1.
24…a5 25.h5 This pawn demonstration was uncalled for. Once again, 25. Qb2!
26.Qd1 26. Qb2!
27.Rc1 Qa3 28.Rc2 Ne8? Black carelessly allows a surprising shot. I suspect he was playing on his opponent’s time shortage. He had to hunker down with 28…Qe7! with a defensible game.
White had 29. e5! exd5 30. Bh3! d4 31. Bxc8 d3 32. Rd2 with a huge edge. Or, 30…Rc7? 31. Nxd5 and white will win in short order.
29…Qb4 30.Qd3 Nc7 31.Rd2 Qd6?! An unforced retreat. Better was 31…a3! leaving the queen in the nice b4 spot .
32.Qd4! f6 33.Rd3?! Too hesitant. This is probably time trouble. The aggressive 33. f4! is extremely strong. Black has a terrible game after 33…exd5 34. exd5 or 34. Bh3! Qxc6 35. Rc2! Qe8 36. exd5.
33…Na6?! 33…Re8 is a tougher defense.
34.Qa7 The careful 34. Rd1 also leaves white better with the idea of the strong Bf1-h3!
34…Nb4 34…Nc5 35. dxe6 Nxd3 36. Qf7+ transposes to the game.
35.dxe6! 35. Rd1! also gives white a big edge. For example, 35…Ra8 36. Qb6 Rdb8 37. Qd4 Nxa2? 38. Bh3! and white wins. This Bh3! idea is always very annoying for black. The text is fine too but a little tricky.
35…Nxd3 36.Qf7+ Kh8 37.Nf5 Qf8 38.Qxf8 Rxf8 39.Bxd3?? Must be time trouble. 39. e7! first is winning for white with accurate play. The reason is 39…Rfe8 (39…Rg8 40. Bxd3 is great for white too) 40. Bxd3! and black cannot take on c6. The following variation is nice: 40…b4! 41. Nd6! Rxe7 42. Nxc8 Rc7 (optically black has play, but white controls the board) 43. Nb6! b3 44. axb3 cxb3 45. Na4! Rxc6 46. Kf1! Rc1+ 47. Ke2 Ra1 48. Nc3 and white coordinates fantastically and should win.
39…Rxc6 40.e7 Rb8! The opportunistic Paragua has chances to get an edge again in this crazy game. Did I mention tournament winner’s luck?
41.Bxb5 Re6 42.Bxa4 Rxe4 43.Bc6 Re5 44.g4?? One has to feel sorry for white missing so many nice things in the game. The beautiful 44. Nh4!! is a great move. After 44…Re1+, for example, 45. Kg2 black is completely stymied and if the best he can do is 45…g6 46. Nxg6+ Kg8 it’s clear only white has chances. Note also that after 45…Kh7? 46. Ng6! and black is totally tied up! If Paragua was playing white and had the luxury of all his extra time in the sudden death, he would bring the point home with something like 46…f5 47. f4! Re3 48. Kh3 Re2 49. g4! and white is making progress.
44…Rb1+ 45.Kg2 Rbe1! Paragua is not going to let white wriggle around anymore. His plan is inexorable.
46.Kg3 Kg8 47.Kf4 Rxf5 48.Kxf5 Re5 49.Kf4 Rxe7 50.Bd5 Kf8 51.Bc4 Re5 52.Bb3 Ke7 53.Bc4 Kd6 54.Bb3 Kc5 55.Bf7 Kd4 56.Bb3 f5! I didn’t comment on the previous chaotic adventures, which looked incredibly suspicious for black. At the time I thought this was holdable for white, but he cannot organize a king run to the queenside in time without dropping the weak kingside pawns. Of course this position is fine for white, but the text for black unexpectedly works. Let’s see this position.
Position after 56…f5! – “Winning Try” ??? Black does indeed win
57.gxf5 I am surprised to say there is no defense even with this limited material. . White must have been totally disoriented and makes the worst response to black’s attempt. Black had the idea if 57. g5, black has 57…Re4+ 58. Kxf5 Re5+ 59. Kg6 Rxg5+ and continues to fight. But after Even 57. f3! does not save it. , keeping the pawn chain, here is the idea: white will play gxf5 now if black lets him. There is no more Re4+. Suppose 57. f3! fxg4 58. fxg4. Well, there is no win. White can simply play his bishop from b3 to g8 and back again just waiting. If black gets too cute, g4-g5 will be possible in some lines and that will draw immediately as too many pawns leave the board. I don’t see any winning attempt for black. Note the similarities between this exchange-down should-be-drawn game and the last round Sarkar exchange-down should-be-drawn bungle above – if iron-clad draws are passed up, letting the other side continue to fight, time pressure will decide the outcome!
Here is a sample line. 57. f3 fxg4 58. fxg4 Rb5! 59. Be6 Rb1! and black prevents g4-g5. White will have to give ground with 60. Bb3 Rf1+ 61. Kg3 Ke4 62. Be6 Rf3+ 63. Kh4 Kf4 and black is on the road to winning since g5 is ruled out and the a-pawn is going nowhere. Continuing, 64. Bb3 Rg3 65. Be6 Rg1! 66. Kh3 Rh1+ 67. Kg2 Re1! illustrates the zugzwang theme where white cannot hang on to both a2 and g4.
MG Note 6/29/08: Jacobs offers a winning plan for black after 57. f3 in his comments. The ending is very instructive and it appears white cannot hold it! Black can get to the key dark squares using his king and rook and white’s a-pawn is immobile – if it advances, it will be lost. A drawing formation is white’s king guarding a-pawn and white bishop parked on f5 but that requires too many moves and he can’t achieve it.
57…Re4+ 58.Kg3 Ke5 Black’s main point. White’s king is cut off and black can angle to make a passed pawn.
59.Be6 Rb4 60.Bd7 Rd4 61.Be6 Rd1 62.Kg2 Kf4 63.Bb3 Rc1 64.Be6 Kg5 65.Bf7 Kxf5 66.Kg3 Rc3 67.f3 Kg5 68.Be8 Ra3 69.Bf7 Ra4 70.Kf2 Ra7 0-1 As referenced above, tournament winner’s luck!
Sergey Erenburg, a solid GM, simply made too many draws and then had the last round disappoinment against the focused, well-playing, Ramirez.
Mackenzie Molner and Elliot Liu made IM norms. Elliot in particular made an improbable comeback after losing early to Vovsha and (in an absurd mutual blunder-fest) to Ehlvest, beating among others IM Almeida, GM Palermo, and GM R. Gonzales in a surprising run. In the R. Gonzales game, Reinier was unrecognizable, losing quickly as white in a King’s Indian Attack (too much talking on the stairwell with buddies?).
I won a game in Round 1 vs NM Roy Greenberg then went luke-warm, drawing Reinier Gonzales, Dean Ippolito, Sergey Erenburg, Michael Rohde, and Alfonse Almeida. I sustained one loss to Justin Sarkar.
Here’s a tough Round 4 battle.
GM S. Erenburg – IM M. Ginsburg, Round 4. Sicilian Pelikan
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 e5 8.Bg5 a6 9.Na3 Be6 10.Nc4 Rc8!? I was successful with a TN in this unusual system defeating future GM Joel Benajmin in 1981! That game made its way into Batsford Chess Openings, in a section ghost-authored by Jon Tisdall and me.
11.Ne3 If this game is evidence, 11. Nd5!? is more critical. However, I did succeed against Richard Costigan in the 1981 Pan-Am Intercollegiate after 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 (12. Qxd5!?) Ne7.
11…Qb6! This is the real TN in the 11. Ne3 system, introduced before Sergey was born! (Sergey is 26).
Position after 11…Qb6! (TN in 1981)
12.Rb1 If 12. Bxf6, Qxb2! first is fine for black. For example, 13. Ned5 Bxd5 14. Nxd5 Nb4! (a very strong in-between move) 15. Bd3 (forced) 15…Nxd5 16. exd5 Qc3+! and black, by inconveniencing white’s king, is fireproof. The most likely result is a draw but black is not in danger.
12…Nxe4! The point and an easy move to miss!
13.Nxe4 h6 14.Bc4 If 14. Bh4 Qb4+! regains the piece through this unusual piece line-up on the fourth rank. A very strange tactic! In the 1981 game, Joel played 14. c3 and gained some compensation for the pawn after 14…hxg5 15. Bc4 Nd8! 16. Bb3 Be7 although black is fine there.
14…Bxc4 15.Nxc4 Qb4+ 16.Ncd2 hxg5 17.c3 Qb5 18.Qg4 Rd8 19.c4 Qb6 20.Qxg5 d5! Completely equalizing by removing any “holes” the white knights might jump to; now I just have to be a little careful in the ending, but black’s position is very solid.
21.cxd5 Rxd5 22.O-O Qd8 23.Qxd8 Kxd8 24.Rfd1 f6 25.Nc3 Rd7 26.Nb3 Rh4! Using the open h-file.
27.a3 Rc4 28.Nd5 Bc5 29.Rd2 Ba7 30.Rbd1 Nd4 31.Ne3 Rcc7 32.Nxd4 Bxd4 33.Kf1 Bxe3 34.fxe3 White thought about the pawn ending here, but there’s nothing in it since there is no distant pawn majority.
34…Rxd2 35.Rxd2 Ke7 36.Kf2 f5 37.e4 g6 38.Kf3 Ke6 39.g3 Rc4 40.exf5 gxf5 41.h4 Rg4 42.Rh2 Kf6 43.h5 e4+ 44.Kf2 Rg7 45.h6 Rh7 At this point, white needs to play the “bail out” drawing continuation of the game or lose ignominously.
46.g4 f4 47.Rh5 Kg6 48.Rf5! Not 48. Re5?? Kxh6 49. Rxe4 Kg5! and black wins.
48…Rxh6 49.Rxf4 Rh2 50.Ke3 Rxb2 51.Rxe4 Kg5 1/2-1/2
I recouped a little bit with a second victory:
Here it is, an amusing game vs NM Pavel Treger (2247).
IM M. Ginsburg – NM P. Treger English Opening Round 8
I had just come off a bad loss to IM Sarkar in round 7 and was looking to recover.
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 e4? 4. Ng5 b5 A dubious gambit popularized by Juan Bellon in the 1970s.
Position after 4….b5 – An unsound gambit. But he’s already committed by his bad third move 3….e4?
Early experiences for white saw some games with 5. cxb5? d5 and black’s play is fully justified. Unfortunately there is a hidden total refutation.
5. d3! This is it. Both 5….bxc4 6. Ngxe4 and 5…exd3 6. cxb5 are bad for black.
5….exd3 6. cxb5 h6 7. Nf3 dxe2 8. Bxe2 White is hugely better.
8…Bb7 9. O-O Bd6? Now it gets worse. Black blocks his own d-pawn and puts himself in virtual zugzwang.
10. Nd4 g6 A horrible weakening but Nd4-f5 cannot be tolerated. Black is lost.
11. Bf3 Qc8 12. Re1+ Kf8 13. b3! The b2-h8 diagonal beckons.
13…Bb4 14. Bb2 d5 A panic reaction to try to seal things up and develop. White does not give black a chance.
15. Nc6! Bxc6 16. Qd4! In the style of FJ Marshall. This lethal zwischenzug is immediately decisive. Black’s king will find no refuges.
Position after 16…Be7. Crunch time.
17. Rxe7! Of course. Black could resign. But Treger likes to play until mate.
17…Kxe7 18. Nxd5+ Of course white also has 18. Re1+ winning. However, it is always necessary to choose one win in a game. Amusingly, 18. Qxf6+ Kxf6 19. Nxd5 double check is ALMOST forced mate in the ancient style of FJ Marshall. It comes close, but no cigar.
18…Nxd5 19. Ba3+! Keeping black’s king in the deadly central zone.
19…Kd8 Other moves such as 19…Kd7? 20. bxc6+ lose even faster. Now black hopes to toddle on with 20. Qxh8+ Kd7 (where white wins of course) – but white has better.
20. Bxd5! Black’s king is toast. Treger, since he plays until mate, now plays a move to maximize the game’s length.
Position after 20. Bxd5 – Black to play and maximize the game assuming he plays until mate
20…..Qg4 This doesn’t ruin the game because more humorous motifs occur. The problem was that 20…Bxd5 21. Qf6+ is mate next move.
21. Qxg4 Bxd5 22. Rd1 c6 23. bxc6 Kc7 Did I mention Treger never resigns?
24. Qf4+ Kc8 25. Rxd5 Re8 Black threatens mate! His first threat!
26. Kf1 f5 27. Qd6 a6 28. c7 Kb7
29. cxb8=R+! There was no queen handy. Underpromotion! A total game!
29…Raxb8 30. Qd7+ Ka8 31. Qc6+ Rb7 32. Qxe8+ Rb8 33. Qc6+ Rb7 34. Rd8+ Ka7 35. Bc5+ Rb6
At this point I stopped to take inventory of all the mates in one.
How many mates?
I played the most obtuse one. The readers should not get the idea this tournament was a kindergarten, in fact there were many hard fought games among GMs Erenburg, Palermo, Ramirez, Kudrin, Gonzales, etc.
36. Qd7 mate. 1-0
Here’s round 1 vs NM Roy Greenberg. Factoid: Jay Bonin revealed he went to college with Roy.
Roy Greenberg (2245 FIDE) – M. Ginsburg. Round 1, Nimzo Indian.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 c5 5. e3? Yuck! To get anywhere, white must play 5. d5.
Position after 5. e3?
5….cxd4 Of course black is also better after 5…d5.
6. exd4 d5 7. a3 Bxc3+ Very playable is the more aggressive 7…Bd6.
8. bxc3 Qa5 9. Bd2 O-O 10. cxd5 Qxd5!? 11. Bd3 e5 12. Ne2 exd4 13. c4! The best chance to make some confusion. White gains some compensation with a small king-side initiative.
13…Qd8 14. O-O Nc6 15. Rc1 Re8 16. Bg5 Qa5!? The most radical way to break the pin. Black accepts the deformation of the pawn structure to gain some key dark squares, in particular e3 for his rook.
17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Ng3 Re3! 19. Be4 Qc5 20. Kh1 Ne7 21. Qd2? Too passive. Black now gains a huge initiative by cementing the rook on e3.
21…f5 22. Bb1 Be6 23. Rfd1 Re8 24. a4 Nc6 25. Nf1 f4! 26. Qc2 For the time being, white leaves the rook alone but he can’t ignore it for long.
26…f5 27. Qf2 Qe5! Centralization.
28. Qh4 Re7 29. Nxe3 fxe3 30. f4 Qg7 31. Rf1 Qg4 Getting the queens off gives black a great ending with monster passed pawns.
32. Qf6 Qg6 33. Qh4 Rg7 34. g4? A hallucination which speeds white’s demise. But it’s black for choice anyway with the center passers.
34…Qxg4 35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. h3 Rg7 37. Rfd1 Kf7 White can’t move anything and could have resigned.
38. Bd3 Kf6 39. Be2 Rd7 40. Kg2 Nb4! The knight coordinates ideally with the black bishop from here.
41. Bd3 Bf7! With nasty threats.
42. Kf1 a5! Cementing the knight. Games are not usually this pleasant.
43. c5 Nominally an error but it didn’t matter.
Watch this spot. I will post games vs GM Rohde, GM Erenburg, IM Sarkar, IM Almeida, IM Ippolito, and more.
Postscript: Marshall’s Head and What’s the Most Peculiar Thing?
From this E. Vicary report at US Chess Online, we have quiz problem #9:
9. What’s peculiar about the bust of Frank Marshall on display at his namesake chess club?
Someone stuck rhinestones in Frank’s eyes many years ago, reportedly to “make him look prettier.” They have never been removed.
Well, I wouldn’t say that’s the most peculiar thing. More peculiar (perhaps!) is that a crew of maniacs stole the head in the 1980s, causing a general freak-out amongst the Board of Directors. Then the maniacs crept back in a few weeks later (again using an open window) with the heavy head in tow – perhaps having deemed it was not of general interest. However, in attempting to put it back where it belonged, they stepped on a glass coffee table and broke it. More general freak-out occurred. It was grand nevertheless to see FJ’s head back on its pedestal.