Posts Tagged ‘Abstrax’

The Fabulous 10s: Copper State International

June 10, 2010

Copper State, Version 2!

The second installment of Danny Rensch’s Copper State International was a big success, especially for norm hunters.  The event was made possible by the generous support of John Lalonde and his Abstrax, Inc. playing site in Mesa, AZ.

Mackenzie Molner made a 2nd GM norm with a superb score of 6/9 in the “A” group round-robin and what a bunch of games he played!  In the “B” Swiss, numerous norms were made too.  All the games posted here are from the Monroi website.

GM Timur Gareev (left) watches as Mackenzie Molner shows him the last round Bartholomew-Molner game that gave Mackenzie a GM norm

Here’s Molner’s last round game, a romantic 19th century Evans Gambit!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Black “Bartholomew, John”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2439”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2451”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4

GM Nigel Short did much to bring this opening back at top-level.  Kasparov has also toyed with it.

4…Bxb4 As is well known, this gambit must be accepted.  Declining gives white an edge.

5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.O-O Bb6 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.Bg5 c6 13.Rad1 Qe5 14.Bxf7 Kd8 15.Ne2 Bc5 16.Bf4 Qxe4 17.Qg3 Rf8 18.Nc3 Qf5 19.Rde1 d6 20.Qxg7 Nd7 21.Bg5 Kc7 22.Re7 Bd4 23.Qxf8 Qxg5 24.Ne4 Qf4 25.Qe8 Be5 26.Ng3 Kb6 27.Rxd7 Bxd7 28.Qxd7 Rf8 29.Bh5 d5 30.Qxh7 Qd2 31.Bf3 Bxg3 32.hxg3 Ka6 33.Qe7 1-0

Weirdly, earlier in the tournament Bartholomew playing black lost to Stopa in… a similar Evans.  But in that game Stopa was dead lost and only Bartholomew’s time trouble made him go wrong.

And from Round 3, a game that won Molner the brilliancy prize (this prize covered both A and B sections):

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.05”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Shankland, Samuel”]
[Black “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2507”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2439”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5?!

The Blumenfeld “enjoys” a terrible reputation theoretically.

5.dxe6 This is one of those gambits that White does not need to take. In fact, the text move gives Molner what he wants; activity.

Strong, for example, is the straightforward 5. Bg5! (long known to be a dangerous weapon) 5…Qa5+  (the turgid 5…b4 is tougher, but leads to ugly formations where white has a2-a3 at his convenience) 6. Nc3! – surprisingly strong and not the focal point of most Blumenfeld theory.

Quick Development to Challenge the Blumenfeld

Now, it’s not fun for black.  For example, the impulsive 6…Ne4? (6…b4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4 is an uphill struggle for black with white enjoying a nagging plus) and now 7. cxb5! as white SHOULD have played in Kaidanov versus Robson, US Ch 2010, and other games.  White is better in all lines after 7. cxb5!.  This rather little known line is quite powerful versus the Blumenfeld.  One example line: 7. cxb5 a6 8. Bd2! (always, this) 8…Nxd2 9. Nxd2 axb5 10. e3! (not 10. e4? c4=, as occurred in a prior game) 10..c4 11. Qh5! – a devastating blow.  White wins after all moves, including the tricky try 11…Ba3!? 12. dxe6 dxe6 13. Nxc4! and the smoke clears with white a clean pawn ahead.

5…fxe6 6.cxb5 a6 7.bxa6 Bxa6 8.g3 Nc6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.e4? (10. Bh3!?) 10…Qb6 11.Be2 White’s 8. g3 now does not make sense at all.

11…Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Nd4 13.Nxd4?! (13. Qd1 Nb3! 14. Rb1 and white holds) 13…cxd4 14.Nd1 Qa5?! (14…d5! 15. exd5 Bb4+! is very strong)

15.Bd2 Bb4 16.f3 O-O 17.a3 Bxd2 18.Qxd2 Qa6 19.Qxd4 d5 20.e5 Nd7 21.Kf2? White misses a great chance for an edge with 21. f4! – for example, 21. f4! Rac8 22. Ne3! Nc5 23. Rd1 and now 23…Ne4? is met by 24. Nxd5!, winning for white.

21…Rac8 22.Ne3 Nc5 23.Rae1 Nb3? A serious blunder in an otherwise snappy game.  23…Qd3! is crushing. 24. Rd1 Ne4+ 25. Kg2 Rc2+!! forces mate!

24.Qd1 Qb7 Now white is right back in the game!

25.f4? The right move, not easy to find, is 25. Rhf1!

25…d4 26.Nc2 g5! Black’s attack flares up again!

27.Nb4 gxf4 28.g4? The final miscue. 28. Rhf1 was relatively best with a small black edge.

28…d3! Now Molner is in total control.

29.Qf3 Qb6+ 30.Kg2 Nd2 31.Qxd3 Qb7+ 32.Kh3 Nf3! Winning.

33.g5 Rcd8 34.Qa6 Nxg5+ 35.Kg4 Qf3+ Forces mate after 36. Kxg5 Rf5+.  A very imperfect game but exciting and unusual.


A very creative treatment in the Blumenfeld and an impressive relentless hunt of white’s king!

More Chess

A rout by IM Pruess playing black over a strong GM!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Panchanathan, Magesh”]
[Black “Pruess, David”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2549”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2361”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Qc7 8.g3 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Bf4 Nfd7 11.Bg2 g5 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.O-O Be6 15.a5 a6 16.e4 h5 17.Nd5 O-O-O 18.f4 gxf4 19.gxf4 Qg7 20.Nb6 Kc7 21.Qe2 Bb4 22.f5 Rd2 23.Qf3 Rg8 24.Qf4 Rd6 25.Qf3 Rd3 0-1

A last round rout by Pruess over the tournament leader GM Fridman!  Fridman had been leading by a full point but this shocking defeat sent him back to a three-way tie for first.  Fridman recovered and won the blitz playoff (over GMs Kacheishvili and Kekelidze).

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Fridman, Daniel”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2654”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4

As Pruess tells it, he wanted to see black play 3….e6 as he was in the mood to just play that closed game.  In the game, Fridman goes a much riskier route (Fridman has even written about this in magazines) but gets annihilated!    3….Qb6!? is all the rage and favored by Georgian grandmasters.  For example,  the recent game annotated in New In Chess, Nepomniatchi – Jobava saw 3…Qb6!? 4. a4!? with insanity.

4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.O-O Ngf6 8.Bg5 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Qb6 10.Nd2 Qxd4 11.Kh1 b5 12.Bb3 Be7 13.Rad1 Qb6 14.Qf5 Rd8 15.Nf3 g6 16.Nxe5!

It’s so pleasing to land an elementary and decisive tactical blow like this versus a tough professional who competes in the top German Bundesliga!  How often does it happen?  Not often!

Rf8 17.Qf4 Nxe5 18.Qxe5 Rxd1 19.Rxd1 Ng8 20.Bxe7 Nxe7 21.Qd6 Rg8 22.Qd7 Kf8 23.Bxf7 Kxf7 24.Rf1 Kg7 25.Qxe7 Kh6 26.Rf3 1-0

Here’s a smooth effort by GM Amanov, a contender for best game prize.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Amanov, Mesgen”]
[Black “Bercys, Salvijus”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2479”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2427”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Qc2 h5 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.Rad1 e5 15.dxe5 Qe7 16.e6 Qxe6 17.Rd6 Qe7 18.Rfd1 Nc5 19.R6d2 Be5 20.b4 cxb3 21.axb3 Bxg3 22.hxg3 a5 23.e5 Qxe5 24.Bxb5 O-O 25.Bc4 Kg7 26.Re2 Qf6 27.Re3 Ba6 28.Bxa6 Rxa6 29.Rf3 Qg6 30.Qe2!

Incredibly strong.  The rook on a6 is tied to the knight on c5; the knight cannot move, but the queen by force picks up the knight!  Black cannot defend it!

Kg8 31.Qc4 1-0

And the actual winner of the Best Game prize was this nice game by veteran IM Nikolai Andrianov, coming off a three year period of no chess!   His victim, talented young player IM Jacek Stopa, was one of the pre-event favorites by rating, but had a horrible start.  He recovered somewhat in the 2nd half.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Andrianov, Nikolai”]
[Black “Stopa, Jacek”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2409”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2474”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.Nf3 e6 2.b3 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 f5 5.Bb2 Nf6 6.O-O Be7 7.d4 O-O 8.c4 Qe8 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.d5 Na6 11.Nd4 Qg6 12.Nxe4 fxe4 13.dxe6 c5 14.Nf5 Qxe6 15.Nxg7 Qc6 16.Nh5 Bg5 17.h4 Be7 18.e3 Rf7 19.Qd2 h6 20.Rad1 Rd8 21.Qc3 Kh7 22.Rd5 Qe6 23.Nf4 1-0

My own play was unconvincing.  I made  solid draws as black vs GM Yermolinsky and IM Altounian but early on I had an incredible miss, one that I definitely thought about after it was over.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Troff, Kayden”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteELO “2393”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2201”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d6 7.d5 Ne5 8.Nxe5 Bxe5 9.Be2 Bd7?! 10.O-O Rc8?! 11.Be3 Qa5? This queenside demonstration greatly worsens black’s position, losing multiple tempi, and these are important tempi helping white with the break that he wants, c4-c5.

12.a3 Nf6? Leaving the bishop out to dry.

13.b4 Qc7 14.Rc1 a5 15.f4 White also had Nb5-d4 with a huge advantage.

Bxc3 16.Rxc3 axb4 17.axb4 h5 18.Bd4 With this forever bishop, white is winning easily.

Rg8 19.Re1 Kf8 20.Bf1 Bf5 21.Rce3 h4 Black is making rather aimless moves all over the board.  Well, he has to, he’s almost in total zugzwang already. But an important principle comes to mind:  if black has played very weakly so far (far below his published rating) he has to be good at something!  And that something in this game is resourcefulness in lost games.  Still, the position has put black well over the edge into losing territory.  White’s next elementary tactical blow requires only a small amount of accuracy.

22.Rxe7 One way to win. Another elementary win is 22. Qe2 and e7 collapses.    I am not sure why I did not look at the obvious 22. Qe2.  After 22. Qe2 black has to resign.

22…Qxe7 23.Rxe7 Kxe7 24.Qe1+ Ne4 25.Bd3

25. c5! wins.    25. c5! Rge8 26. Qxh4+ Kf8 27. cxd6 and black collapses. The text also wins.

25…Rge8 26.Qxh4+? What a bad move! The first simple miss.  26. Bxe4 Kf8 (forced) 27. Qxh4 Rxe4 28. Bf6! Ke8 and now do you see it?  I thought black’s king was running so I didn’t go for this line, but here white wins easily. The answer is the nice quiet move 27. Qh7! (I overlooked this) and the threat of Qg8+ and Qxf7 is unstoppable and wins immediately.

26…Kd7 Black takes his chance to run in another direction but this should have been hopeless.  For some reason, I started playing quickly for no reason and let him totally escape. Quite an upsetting turn of events.  From this point forward, my calculation ability was non-existent!

27.c5! Of course.  White is still winning.  So far, so good.

27…dxc5 28.Bb5+? White doesn’t understand that better is 28. bxc5! Nxc5 29. Bb5+ Kd6 30. g4! and wins. For example, 30…Bd7 31. Qf6+! (this is why white needs to get the black knight away from e4!) 31…Kc7 32. Bxc5! and wins.

28…Kd6 29.Be5+?? A terrible blunder.  If white had paused a little, there are two wins remaining.  Win 1.  29. Bxc5+ Nxc5 30. Qf6+ (this resource was never on my radar) 30…Kxd5 31. Bxe8 Rxe8 32. Qxf7+ and wins.  Win 2.   29. bxc5+ Nxc5 30. g4! and wins decisive material.

29…Rxe5 What am I doing? 30.fxe5 Kxd5 31.g4? Yet another terrible move blitzed out.  31. Qe7 keeps good winning chances.  For example, 31. Qe7 cxb4 32. Qxf7+ and white will also pick up b4 and should convert the win.

31…Be6 Now all the wins have disappeared.  What an amazing number of bad blunders to not win!

32.Qe7 cxb4 33.Bd3 Kxe5 34.Qxb4 Nd6 35.Kf2 Bc4 36.Qe1 Kd5 37.Qe3 Bxd3 38.Qxd3 Ke6 39.h4 Rc4 40.Kf3 b5 41.h5 gxh5 42.gxh5 Nf5 43.Qd8 Rh4 44.Qe8 1/2-1/2

In a later round I played another little talented kid and  played better, but only won one rating point.  That’s the problem playing little kids.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.07”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Gurevich, Daniel”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2007”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2393”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 a6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 d5 6.d3 Nf6 7.e5 Nd7 8.Bg2 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.g4 b5 11.Qe1 b4 12.Ne2 f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.g5 Nh5 15.Qh4 g6 16.Ng3 Ng7 17.Bd2 Bd6

White never took his chance to play c2-c3 or c2-c4 in the early stages of the game, moves he needed to get chances.

18.h3 Ra7 19.Nh2 h5! Stopping the obvious threat of Nh2-g4. Now white’s king side pawns are fixed awkwardly. 20.Nf3 Raf7 21.Ne2 Nf5 22.Qf2 Qc7 23.Nh4 Nxh4 24.Qxh4 Nd4! Simple chess.  The f4 point collapses and the game.

25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Rf2 Bxf4 27.Bxf4 Rxf4 28.Qg3 h4 29.Qh2 Qe5 30.Rxf4 Rxf4 31.Kh1 Qxg5 32.Rg1 Qf6 33.Re1 Kg7 34.Qg1 Rf2 35.Qh2 Qf4 36.Qxf4 Rxf4 37.Rc1 e5 38.c4 dxc3 39.bxc3 Bf5 40.cxb4 Rxb4 41.Bxd5 Bxd3 42.Re1 Rb1 0-1

In the fourth round, I was astounded to see this discredited opening appear:

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Ravichandran, Siddharth”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2454”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6? Amazing brinkmanship and a move I thought was unplayable!  Joel Benjamin annotated the game Hess-Lapshun in US Chess Online but both players were not familiar with that.   In the online notes, the variation is just kaput for black. Ravichandran had apparently consulted some other theory source.  Ravichandran said after the game he wanted to catch white by surprise with this.  Well, it’s a shock for sure.

White starts out responding in the best way.

6.e5! Correct and natural enough.

6…Bc5 Black blitzed this out; he has no choice.

7.Be3!? This move is not bad.   Hess found the more forcing 7. Nd4-b5! and now Lapshun lost miserably with 7…Ng8.  In fact other players have lost this miniature too.  The f2 pawn is untakeable.  Why?  The variations are nice.

For fun, look at 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 (8. Kd2?? Qe3 mate would be embarrassing!) 8…Nd5 9. Nd6+ Ke7 10. Nxd5+ exd5 11. Qd5 Rf8 12. Bg5+f6 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Qe5+!! and forced mate!

For completeness, 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 Ng4 9. h3! Ng4 and now white goes on a king walk to win: 10. Nd6+! Ke7 11. hxg4 Qf2+ 12. Kd3 Nc6 and now white can win a brilliancy prize: 13. Nf5+!! exf5 14. Nd5+ Kf8 15. Be3! and wins!  If black put his king on f8 in this line, white can vary with 13. Nce4! and wins a piece.

I asked Ravichandran after the game and he said he intended 7….a6.  Apparently his theoretical source points to that.  Well, it’s the best move!

Pruess said after the game (separately) he was concerned about the 7…a6 resource since 8. Nd6+ is not clear.

Some junior at the tournament ran 7….a6 through an engine and told me later on that 7…a6 8. Qf3! (a resource not seen by Pruess but known to his opponent) is strong.  Computer power! Nevertheless, 8. Qf3 Nd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 Bb4! and black can fight on with a worse, but defensible, position.  What did we learn?  Not much, except that black in this game was successful with the early brinkmanship!

7…Nd5 8.Nxd5 exd5 9.Nf5? A big lemon.  White must have miscalculated something.

After the strong 9. Nb5! white can still fight for an edge.  9…Bxe3 10. fxe3 Qxe3+? 11. Qe2 is terrible for black. He loses after, e.g., 11…Qxe2+ 12. Bxe2 Na6 13. Nd6+ Ke7 14. O-O Rf8 15. Nf5+ and wins.  Needless to say, taking on e3 is not forced. 10..O-O 11. Qd4! leaves white with an edge but again black can defend.   Another example line:  9. Nb5! O-O 10. Bxc5 Qxc5 11. Qd2 a6 12. Nd6 Nc6 13. O-O-O with a white plus.

Qxb2 10.Nxg7 At this stage, it was impossible to realize the computer recommendation of 10. Bd4 is stronger with equal chances.

Kd8 11.Bg5+? The real losing move.  White must have been totally disoriented and thinking about earlier missed chances. After this white is just dead.  11. Be2 Bxe3 12. fxe3 and white can play that position and have good prospects to draw.  11. Be2 Bb4+? is bad: 12. Kf1 and black can’t take on e5 due to Bd4.

Kc7 12.Bf4  Qc3+ A lethal intermediate check well known to Sveshnikov lovers, this occurs in many early Be6 lines of the Sveshnikov forcing white to do acrobatics.

13.Bd2 The problem is that 13. Ke2 Qc4+ 14. Kf3 Qe4+ 15. Kg3 Bxf2+!  wins.

13…Qxe5 14.Be2 Qxg7 15.O-O d6 16.Bf3 Be6 17.c4 dxc4 18.Qa4 Nd7 19.Qb5 Rab8 20.Ba5 b6 21.Qc6 Kd8 22.Rad1 bxa5 0-1

So this dubious variation is marginally playable and in the game above, even netted black a quick victory!  It seems a little unjust.

Something Different: Endgame Quiz

Consider this position from Berczes-Horvath  Zalakarosi 2010:

Black to play.

Can black draw?   If so, how many drawing moves are there?

GM Alejandro Ramirez (center) recycles girls


The Fabulous 00s: Copper State International

May 30, 2009

The First Copper State International!

FM Danny Rensch has organized a new event, the Copper State International, and it started May 29 and ran through June 3rd – 10 rounds.  Good sponsorship and fairly strong with GMs Kacheishvili, Izoria, Yermolinsky, Gareev, Becerra, Ramirez.  IMs seeking GM norms in no particular order:  Altounian,  Barcenilla, Ippolito, Sarkar, Lenderman, Milman, Fernandez.  And FMs seeking glory:  the organizer Danny Rensch and Marc Esserman!   Altounian and I were roommates and didn’t know about the nearby casino that Daniel Fernandez and the Georgian GMs had discovered.

In the very first round there were a number of upsets. Kacheishvili lost to Fernandez; Becerra was held to a draw by a lower rated opponent, Yermo also drew; and I drew GM Zviad Izoria:

Round 1

IM M Ginsburg – GM Z Izoria  Pirc Defense

1. Nf3 g6 2. e4 Bg7 4. d4 d6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O e6!? I had never faced this before.  I think GM Benjamin had some success with it.  It seems to be preparing ….d5, so….

8. e5!? dxe5 9. Nxe5 Nbd7

This is an important moment.  I have Bf4 and Bg5.  Which is better?  Hard to say.  After long thought (not good in G/90 + 30 second increment), I chose the longer move.

10. Bg5 h6 11. Bh4 c6!? Black plans to trade on e5, trade on d1, and play Nd5 with a very solid game.

12. Qc1! Sidestepping black’s idea.

12…Qb6?! This does not work out well at all.  In subsequent play, white gains tempo after tempo to reorganize.  On the other hand, what to suggest?  It looks like white’s treatment is solid and good.

13. Nxd7 Bxd7 13…Nxd7 14. Rd1 is no improvement (14…Bxd4? 15. Na4).

14. Rd1  Kh7 15. Na4 Qc7 16. Bg3 Qd8 17. Nc5 Bc8

So far white as done all the right things and black has a terrible game.

What’s the right move?

18. Be5? No!  This safety first move releases most of white’s advantage.  Izoria pointed out 18. Bf3! and black can’t free himself!  If 18. Bf3! b6? 19. Bxc6! wins.  This important detail means the N/c5 stays for the time being and white has a huge plus.  Also by now I had little time so I called it a day in this first (morning!) round.  After the text, black can eject the knight with b6 and it’s only a tiny edge for me.

1/2 – 1/2

Little did I know in Round 2 I’d be facing GM Julio Becerra with black. Some heavy weather awaited me at 4 pm!

Round 2

GM Becerra – IM Ginsburg

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 Sometimes I play Taimonov vs Julio, sometimes Kan.  And once even a Scheveningen.  I usually get fairly good positions.  He likes to wait for the middlegame to tack around and respond to events.

5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bd3 a6 8.O-O d6 9.a4 Be7 10.f4 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 e5 12.Be3 exf4 This simplifying procedure frees black’s game quite a bit.

13.Rxf4 Be6 14.Qf3 Nd7 15.Qg3 Bf6 I was contemplating long castle to sack a pawn for attack but it seems to fail to a Nd5 response.

16.Rff1 Be5 17.Qh4 Nf6 This lineup looks solid but white just continues tucking his pieces away and gaining some queenside space.

18.Kh1 h6 19.a5 Qe7 20.Qe1 O-O 21.Na4 Rac8 22.Nb6 Rc6?! I start to get in trouble.

23.c3 Re8?! 24.Bg1 Qc7?! All my prior moves were mistaken due to white’s excellent next.

25.Bc2! Oops!  This bishop can go to a4!  I don’t see a way out.

25…d5 26.exd5 Nxd5 27.Ba4 Nf4 28.Qe4 g5 29.Rae1 Bg7 30.Bxc6 bxc6 31.Be3 Nd5 32.Bd4 1-0

An excellent example of Julio’s pragmatic style.

In other Round 2 action, IM Lenderman miraculously saved a draw vs GM Timur Gareev, Yermo absolutely crushed IM Fernandez, and Rensch and Milman battled to an exciting draw in an English Attack.  Altounian won a rather technical game vs Pruess. IM Rogelio Barcenilla took down IM Sarkar.

This game illustrates Rogelio’s style:  take the opponent out of book and look for chances in the middlegame.  Using these tactics, he secured his final GM norm and is now a Grandmaster!

GM-elect Rogelio Barcenilla Jr. – IM Sarkar  Sicilian 2. c4

1.e4 c5 2.c4 White simply aims to take the heavily booked Sarkar out of book.   Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 e6 7.Nge2 Nge7 8.h4 A nothing-type probe move, typical of GM Reshevsky’s style.

8…h5 It was quite safe, and my preference, to avoid …h7-h5.  Black could simply play, e.g., Ne5.

9.Bg5 Rb8 10.Rb1 b6 11.a3 Bb7 12.b4 Qd7 13.Qd2 Nd4 14.O-O Nec6 15.b5 Nxe2 16.Nxe2 Nd4 17.a4 O-O 18.Nxd4 Bxd4 19.Bh6 Rfe8 20.a5 d5 21.a6 Ba8 22.exd5 exd5 23.Rfe1 dxc4 24.dxc4 Bxg2 25.Kxg2 Rxe1 26.Rxe1 Re8 27.Bf4 Re6 28.Rxe6 Qxe6 29.Qd3 White has simplified with the optical advantage of Bb8 winning in some endings.  But he can’t get that after, e.g., 29…Kg7.  If 30. Bb8 Qc8! 31. Bxa7?? Qa8+ is CHECK winning the bishop.  If 30. Kg1 Qe1+ 31. Qf1 Qe4! is equal (31…Bxf2?+ is a lemon).  If 30. Kf1 Qh3+ 32. Ke2 Qg2+ keeps white occupied and it’s equal again.   Black’s 29th is risky.

29…Be5?! Why give white the d-file?  30.Qd8 Kg7 31.Be3 Qxc4 32.Qa8 Bd4 33.Qxa7 Bxe3 34.Qb7 Black barely has a defense to meet this dangerous sac. 34… Qa2 35.a7 Qxf2 36.Kh3 Qf5 37.Kh2 Bg1+! 1-0

Black must have lost on time.  Unless I am missing something, 38. Kxg1 Qb1+ is only a draw.

Round 3

Round 3 sees a tactical matchup IM Pruess – IM Fernandez.

Update: Fernandez wound up winning that one.

I scored my first win.

IM M. Ginsburg – WFM Y. Cardona (2212) Catalan

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 6.g3 e6 7.Bg2 Nbd7 8.O-O Be7 9.Nc3 O-O 10.Bf4!? I saw FM Bartell play this vs. FM Monokroussos, Chicago FIDE Int’l 2008, and it looked like a sensible idea.  When Maxim Dlugy was just starting out in the early 1980s, he fell for 10. Rd1? Bc2! vs. Scrabble pro NM Alan Williams and due to the threat of Nb6 trapping the white queen, the exchange is lost.

10…Rc8 11.Rac1 h6 12.Rfd1 Ne4 13.Ne5 Nxc3 14.Qxc3 Nf6 15.Qb3 The point of B on f4 is that  …Qb6 Nc4! eyes d6 and a5.

15…g5?! An obvious weakening. But what should black do?  After 15…Qb6 16. Qxb6 axb6 17. Nc4 Ra8 18. a3! white has an edge.

16.Qxb7?! Too flashy. Smarter is 16. Bd2! with the idea of 16…Qxd4? 17. Nc4!! with a big edge.

16…gxf4? 16…Rc7 is correct. What both players missed was 17. Nxc6 Rxb7 18. Nxd8 Rd7! keeping both minors under attack with equal chances. After 19. Bc6 Rdxd8 20. Bc7 Rc8 21. Bb7 Rce8 it even might wind up being a repetition.

17.Nxc6 Rxc6 18.Rxc6 fxg3 19.hxg3 Be4 20.Bxe4 Nxe4 21.Rc7 Nd6 22.Qc6 Total domination.  Not 22. Qxa7 Nb5 winning for black.

22…Re8 23.d5! e5 24.Rd3 Methodical.  Black has no chance.

24…Nf5 25.e3 Kg7 26.Rb3 Bd6 27.Rxa7 Rf8 28.Qd7 Qg5 29.e4 Nd4 30.Qxd6 Qc1 31.Kg2 Qg5 32.f4 exf4 33.Qxf4 Qh5 34.g4 Qg6 35.Qe5 Kh7 36.Qxd4 Qxg4 37.Rg3 Qe2 38.Qf2 Qxe4 39.Qf3 Qc2 40.Kh3 1-0

Round 4

I had a disappointing loss to GM Ramirez.

GM A. Ramirez – IM. M Ginsburg  Budapest Declined (!)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 Moskalenko’s fabulous Budapest.

3.e3?! Too passive.

3…Bb4 4.Nc3 exd4 5.exd4 O-O?! Any French player would spot 5…Qe7+!.  I’m not a French player.  After some piece to e2, or Be3, d7-d5 is at least equal for black.  The text is OK but not as strong.

6.Bd3 d5 7.Nge2 c5 8.a3 cxd4 Black can play 8…Bxc3 of course.  The text is OK too.

9.axb4 dxc3 I’m embarrassed to admit the cute 9….dxc4! completely escaped my attention.  After 9…dxc4! 10. Bxc4 dxc3 11. Qxd8 Rxd8 12. bxc3 Nc6 black is equal.  Or, 11. Qb3 c2!.  In all lines black has equal chances.

10.c5! The only way to fight.  White sacks a pawn for initiative.  I go wrong soon after.

10…cxb2 11.Bxb2 Re8 12.O-O Nc6 13.b5 Ne5?! Weirdly, 13…Nb4! is stronger.  14. Bb1 is well met by 14…Bd7! hitting b5.   If then 15. Nd4, then 15…a5 is a small edge to black . So white should play 13…Nb4 14. Ng3 (for example) and after 14…a5 black is fine.

14.Nf4 Bg4 15.f3 Nxd3 15…Bd7 is a  try but after 16. Bd4! white has an edge.

16.Qxd3 Be6 Now black is just passive.

17.Qd4 Qd7 18.Ra5 Rac8 19.Rc1 Rxc5?! This breakout attempt, which white did not forsee, actually works IN SOME LINES.  But I did not have enough faith in it. .  Black can wait with e.g. 19….h6 but it’s unpleasant. 

20.Qxc5? Not correct!  20. Rxc5! b6 21. Ra6 bxc5 22. Qxc5 with a big plus to white.   The confusion has succeeded….but look what happens…

20…b6 21.Qf2 I got too scared now by the prospect of my kingside being broken up and my king attacked.

21…bxa5 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Nh5 Qxb5? This is the lemon.  The point was 23…Rc8! exploiting white’s back rank.  I was concerned about 24. Qg3+ attacking with the queen and knight, but it turns out 24…Kf8 25. Qg7+ Ke7 26. Qxf6+ Kd6! and the king has safely run away (the game is equal).

24.Nxf6 Kg7 25.Nxe8 Qxe8 26.Qxa7 Now it’s technical win for white. Very disappointing.

26…a4 27.Ra1 Bd7 28.Qd4 Kg6 29.Qxd5 Qe3 30.Kh1 Be6 31.Qa5 Bb3 32.h3 h6 33.Re1 Qd4 34.Qa6 Qf6 35.Qd3 Kg7 36.Re4 Kf8 37.Kh2 Qb6 38.Qc3 Qd6 39.f4 Kg8 40.Re8 Kh7 41.Rh8 Kg6 42.Qg3 Kf5 43.Qg4 Ke4 44.Re8 Kd4 45.Qf3 Kc5 46.Qc3 Kb6 47.Re5 f6 48.Rf5 1-0

Also in this round, a very nice effort by Gareev vs. strong IM Altounian.

Gareev – Altounian, King’s Indian, …Bg4 Nfd7 line

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 O-O 5.d4 d6 6.Be2 Bg4 7.Be3 Nfd7 Swiss IM Hug is a specialist in this rather dubious line.

8.O-O c5 8…Nc6 9. d5 is not a lot of fun either.  White just gets the bishop pair and a traditional edge.

9.d5 Na6 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 Nc7 12.Be2 a6 13.a4 Fairly depressing.  White has the bishop pair and a safe edge.

13…e6 14.Qd2 exd5 15.exd5 Re8 16.g3 Strange, and I’m not sure if it’s good.  16. a5! += is simple enough.

16…f5 How about 16…a5 here and await events?

17.Kg2 17. a5!  — a player like Boris Gulko wouldn’t take long on that move.

17…Rb8 18.Ra3 a5 19.Re1 Qf6 19…Ne5! 20. f4 Nf7! is very hard to break!

20.Bf1 Ne5 21.Nd1 Na6 22.Bg5 Qf8 23.Bf4 Nb4 24.Rae3 h6 25.h4 Bf6 26.Nc3 g5?? Black cracks.  The fast time control often caused that.  26…Rbd8! offers black the prospect of a long game and quite possibly a successful defense.

27.hxg5 Bxg5 The evident 27…hxg5 28. Bxe5 Bxe5 29. Rxe5 wins.  The text leads essentially to the same thing.  It’s a massacre now.

28.Bxg5 hxg5 29.Rxe5 Rxe5 30.Rxe5 dxe5 31.Qxg5 Kh8 32.Be2 Nc2 33.Bh5 Nd4 34.Bg6 Rd8 35.Qh5 Kg7 36.Qh7 Kf6 37.Bxf5 e4 38.Nxe4 1-0

Round 5

In Round 5, I needed to win to get back to 50%.   I had just lost a disappointing game in Round 4 to GM Ramirez when he shocked me with 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. e3?!  declining the Budapest!  Of course this is nothing but I didn’t know the most precise way 3…exd4 (or 3…Bb4+ first) 4. cxd4 Bb4+ 5. Nc3 Qe7! forcing an inconvenient interposition.  In the game I went for 3…Bb4+ 4. Nc3 exd4 5. exd4 O-O?! and while this is still fine, he played well to get an attack for a pawn.  Under pressure, I went under in the complications.

IM M. Ginsburg – CM Keith MacKinnon (Canada)  Round 5    Catalan

1.c4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2 e6 5.g3 Nbd7 6.Bg2 Bd6 7.O-O O-O 8.Nbd2 Qe7 9.b3 e5 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Bb2 Rd8? 11…dxc4 offers decent chances.

12.Rad1 Bg4 13.Nd4! dxc4 14.bxc4 Ba3? A big lemon. 15.Ba1 Re8 The tactical problem is his planned followup 15…Rxd4?? fails to 16. Bxd4 Bxe2 17. Rde1 Bxf1 18. Kxf1! and by eliminating checks white wins.  So he changes course but the B/a3 is just hanging out there.

16.h3 Bd7 17.e4 c5 18.Nb5!  Bxb5 19.cxb5 With the white knight gaining c4 and the center e- and f-pawns mobile,  it’s hopeless.

19…Bb4 20.f4 Ng6 21.e5 Rad8 22.Nc4 Nh5 23.Qf2 Rxd1 24.Rxd1 Rd8 25.Bd5 Rd7 26.Qf3 Qd8 27.e6 1-0

I want to call your attention to a beautiful game played in Round 5.

GM Yermolinsky – IM Sarkar  Dutch Defense

OK, Sarkar handicapped himself by playing a Dutch but the game is still really aesthetic.

1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.e3 Be6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nf3 Qd7 8.O-O Ne7 9.b3 Nc8 10.Na4 b6 11.c4 Nd6 12.cxd5 Bxd5 13.Nc3 Bb7 14.d5 c5 15.dxc6 Qxc6 16.Rc1 Rc8 17.Nb5 I haven’t mentioned black’s ugly opening treatment and skipped to this position. On the surface, black can take on c1 and face no difficulties.  It’s not the case!  As Bologan said in his autobiography, sometimes chess is a hockey power play.  5 on 4 is a hard goal, 4 on 3 is easier, and 3 on 2 is even easier.  The rest of the game is a “power play” with black being just a little short of getting his pieces out.  In the end, not only did he not free his game, his king got mated!  A really good effort by GM Yermo.

17…Qxc1 18.Qxc1 Rxc1 19.Rxc1 Nxb5 20.Bxb5 Kd8 21.Nd4! Fantastic coordination.

21…Bd5 22.Nxf5 Be6 23.Nd4 Bd5 24.Bc6 Bf7 25.Nb5 Bc5 26.Rd1 Kc8 27.Rd7 1-0

And also in Round 5, this unexpected massacre between two tournament leaders.

GM Kacheishvili – GM Gareev Chebanenko Slav

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Bf5 6.Nh4 Be6 7.Bf4 Nbd7 8.h3 g6 9.e3 Bg7 10.Bd3 O-O 11.Bh2 The problem is that white tried to do too much here.  He plays to nestle his bishop on h2 and he also plays to advance on the queenside, but his king is not yet safe.  In effect, he tried to do two plans and didn’t have the time to do that. Watch what happens.

11…b6 12.b4 bxc5 13.bxc5 Ne4! 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.Bxe4 Nxc5!! Ouch!  A brutal tactic. 16.dxc5 Qa5 17.Ke2 Rad8 18.Qc2 Qb5 19.Kf3 f5 20.Kg3 fxe4 21.Qxe4 Bd5 22.Qc2 Qb4 23.f4 g5 0-1 A sadistic finale. Yermo observed white would have liked to trade the places of the K/g3 and B/h2 with a playable game.

Round 6

Jumping ahead to Round 6, a gap in my endgame knowledge surfaced:

IM Ginsburg – IM Pruess

After a long game in which I failed to capitalize on an attack, black made some errors and wound up with R vs Q. Here is a key moment.  Of course humans keep their rook near their king while computers know to make it harder by flinging the rook off somewhere.  Still, other humans must know how to break the “proximity defense”!  Here is where I failed.

Getting Too Close

Getting Too Close

In this position (mutual time trouble near the hundred move milestone) I’ve placed my queen too close to black’s king. Thus, 1. Kc3?? is rudely met by 1…Rb3+! with the usual stalemate tricks.  The kamikaze rook keeps giving check and forces the draw.  The winning position, which curiously none of the assembled spectators knew, is this (black to play):

The magical e4 square

The magical e4 square

Naturally white can force this from the start position.  The really nice winning line is (black to play):

1…Ka2 (forced) 2. Kc2 Rb2+ (forced) 3. Kc1 and the b1 square is covered.  Black then loses the rook since the geometric point of all this is the aesthetic 3….Rb3 4. Qa4+ (oh, that nimble queen!) 4….Ra3 5. Qc2+ and mate next on b2.  Note how the king and queen coordinate from long distance.  Note also white can always waste a move to make sure it’s black to play.  Easy, once you know it!

Round 6 also saw a beautiful effort from eventual tournament winner GM Timur Gareev to take down a tournament leader.

Gareev – Barcenilla, King’s Indian Averbakh

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 O-O 6.Bg5 It’s very handy to have several anti-KID weapons in the arsenal.  Gareev showed his artistry in another setup vs. Altounian in this tournament.

6…h6 I like Nbd7 and e5 without h6.

7.Be3 e5 8.d5 c5?! Ugly.  Black usually develops counterplay with c6, taking on d5, and Qa5.

9.g4 Ne8 10.Qd2 Kh7 11.h4 a6 12.a4 b6 13.Nh3 Ra7 14.f3 Rh8 15.Nf2 a5 16.O-O-O Re7 17.Nd3 Ba6 18.b3 Nd7 19.Rdf1 Kg8 20.Nb5 Qb8 21.Kb1 Rh7 22.Rf2 Qb7 23.Bf1 Qb8 24.Bh3 Nf8 25.Rhf1 Qd8 26.Rh2 Rh8 27.g5 h5

Black’s problem is that the kingside is not fully blocked.  White carefully assembles forces for a crushing breakthrough.

28.Rhf2 Rh7 29.Nc3 Bh8 30.Qd1 Bc8 31.Bxc8 Qxc8 32.Bc1 f5 33.gxf6 Bxf6 34.Rh1 Ref7 35.Rg2 Qd8 36.Qe1 Qe7 37.Qg3 Nc7 38.Qh3 Rh8 39.Nd1 Kh7 40.Rg3 Rg8 41.Ne3 Rgg7 42.Nd1 Rg8 43.N3f2 Qd7 44.Qg2 b5 45.Nc3 b4 46.Ncd1 Qe7 47.Nh3 Kh8 48.Ng5 Bxg5 49.Bxg5 Qe8 50.Rg1 Na8 51.Ne3 Kh7 52.Nf5 Qd7 53.Nh6 Rfg7 54.Qd2 Nb6 55.Bf6 Nxc4 56.bxc4 Qxa4 57.Nf5 Qb3 58.Kc1 1-0 Very convincing play by Gareev.

Round 7

Barcenilla again plays his “nothing” opening and confuses strong IM Lev Milman.

Barcenilla-IM Lev Milman   Sicilian 2. c4

1.e4 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 d6 6.d3 Nf6 7.Nge2 a6 8.a4 Rb8 9.O-O O-O 10.h3 Ne8 11.Be3 Nc7 12.d4 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Ne6 14.Nde2 Nc5 White has zero.

15.Rb1 f5 15…a5 is completely fine for black.   The text is good too.

16.exf5 Bxf5 17.b4 Wow!  A creative semi-bluff.

17…Nd7? Milman should take:  17…Bxb1.  In all lines he’s a little better. For example, 18. Qxb1 Nd7 19. Qb3 Kh8 20. Nf4 Qc8.  He must have been afraid of the white square weaknesses but material is material.  It’s good psychology by Barcenilla because Milman is aggressive and wouldn’t like this defensive posture.  Still, the text leads to a cramped unpleasant game.

18.Rb3 Nf6 18….a5 19. bxa5! Nxa5 20. Rb5  is a white edge.

19.g4 Bd7 20.a5 Kh8 21.f4 Qe8 22.Bb6?! 22. Nd5! is stronger.

22…Be6?! Here, 22…Rc8! is stronger.

23.Nd5 Back on the right path.  It’s complete torture for black.

23…Bg8 24.b5 Nd8 25.bxa6 bxa6 26.Re3 Nxd5 27.cxd5 Nb7 28.Nd4 Rc8 29.Rfe1 Rc4 30.Rxe7 Qa4 31.Qxa4 Rxa4 32.Nc6 Nc5 33.Bxc5 dxc5 34.d6 Ra2 35.R7e2 Rxe2 36.Rxe2 Bc4 37.Rc2 Bb5 38.Rxc5 Bxc6 39.Rxc6 Rxf4 40.Rc8 1-0

Barcenilla’s important win propels him closer to the GM title and causes a disappointed Milman to withdraw.

Also in this round Gareev landed an astounding hit on IM-elect Esserman.

Esserman-Gareev, Strange Tarrasch Gambit

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4?! 5.Qxd4?! Unless current theory is totally wrong, 5. Qa4+ first is the strongest.  The line is discredited.

Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.Qg5 Bizarre.

9…Be7 Also bizarre.   9…h6 10. Qg3 Be6, for example, is OK for black.

10.Qxg7 Rg8 11.Qh6 Qb6 12.O-O-O What would black do on 12. Qe3?  If 12…Qxb2 13. Rb1 Qc2 14. Rc1 Nb4 15. Qf4 is a humorous line in which white is fine.  Or, it could wind up a repetition draw.

14.  O-O-O 13.f3 Looks and is too slow.  The passive 14. Qe3 was necessary.

13…Be6 14.e4?? A big lemon that black does not exploit.

14…Ne5?? A reciprocal blunder.   The simple 14…Rg6! wins instantly. If 15. Qf4?? Nh5! 16. Qe3 Rxd2! ouch!  winning a piece.  If 15. Qe3, 15…Bc5! wins the hapless piece on g1! 

15.Nh3?? After 15. Kb1!, what does black do?  15…Nd3  16. Bxd3 Rxd3 17. Rc1 is an edge to white.

15…Rxg2! Obvious.  16. Bxg2 Nd3+ mates.

16.Kb1 Nxe4! Strong, but not THAT strong.  White collapses needlessly.

17.Bxg2?? The simple 17. fxe4 Rgxd2 18. Qxd2! Rxd2 19. Rxd2 made a game of it.  For example, 19…Qe3? 20. Re2 Qh6 21. Nd5! with counter-chances.  After black’s best, 19…Kb8! intending …f5!, black is better but a full fight lies ahead.

17…Nxc3  0-1

In Round 7, I managed to defeat FM Carl Boor with the black pieces; it was a good long-range planning example.

FM Carl Boor – IM M. Ginsburg  King’s Indian

1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. c4 d6 (3…Nc6 is possible) 4. Nc3 Pd7 5. Nf3 e5 6. Be2 Ngf6 7. Be3 O-O 8. d5 Ng4 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bd2 a5 11. h3 Ph6 12. g4 Nc5 13. Rg1 Nf7 14. Qc2 Bh6 15. Be3?! Bxe3 16. fxe3 Ng5 17. Nxg5?! This move coupled with white’s 15th place him in a totally passive situation.

17…fxg5 18. O-O-O Bd7 Since the position on the kingside is not totally blocked, black can develop an initiative.

19. Rgf1 Qe7 20. b3 Qg7 21. Bf3 Qh6 22. Qg2 Qh4 23. Kd2 Kg7 24. Be2 h5 25. Kc2 Na6 26. a3 Nc5 27. Rb1 Rxf1 28. Rxf1 Rf8 29. Rxf8 Kxf8 30. b4 Probably better not to do this and simply await events.

30…axb4 31. axb4 Na4 32. Nd1? White has good chances to hold after 32. Nxa4.

32…Kg7 33. Nd1 Nb6 The knight is on a long tour to its ideal f6 square! 34. Kd2 Nc8 35. Qf3 Ne7 36. Ke1 hxg4! It’s the right time for this.  The black queen can later go to h8 and a8 to bother white’s overextended queenside.

37. hxg4 Ng8 38. Kd2 Nf6 Finally!  White’s position is at the breaking point.

39. Qg2 Qh8! White may have been hoping for 39…Qxf2? 40. Qxf2 Nxe4+ 41. Ke1 Nxf2 42. Kxf2 which appears to be a blockade draw.  For example, 42…e4 43. b5! sealing things off enough.  White can’t just wait there; the black king would go to e5 and black would play the winning …b5.  So white should anticipate all that with 43. b5! and I see no win.

40. Nh3 Qa8! The loss of the g-pawn is not serious; once black infiltrates in white’s rear-guard it turns out white’s fractured pawns are too weak.

41. Nxg5 Qa2+ 42. Ke1 Qb1+ 43. Kf2 Qxb4 44. Ne6+ Bxe6 45. dxe6 Qb1! Winning.

46. Qf3 Qxe4 47. e7 Qxf3+ 48. Bxf3 c6 49. g5 Ne8 50. Be4 Kf7 51. Kg3 Nc7 52. Bc2 d5 53. c5 e4 Blocking off the bishop. 54. Kf4 Ke7 55. Ke5 Ne6 0-1

Round 8

In this round I was unfortunately paired with my roommate, IM Levon Altounian, and it’s very hard to fight a morning game in those circumstances.  So, draw.  

Here was the confusing game Pruess-Sarkar:

IM Pruess – IM Sarkar, Modern Defense

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 a6? This line is terrible for black.  4…c6! is better as in several USCL games last season.

5.Nf3 b5 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.a4? Every schoolboy should know, after IM (now GM!) Larry Kaufman’s Chess Life article on winning the World Senior ’08 (and his article on the prior win, the US Senior ’08) that 7. e5! is great for white here.  See the crushing win Kaufman-IM Igor Foygel US Senior 2008.   GM Kachiyan has proven this independently many times as well.

7…b4 8.Ne2 e6 9.c4 c5 10.d5 exd5 11.exd5 Ne7 12.g4 h5 13.gxh5 Rxh5 14.Ng3 Rh8 15.Qe2 Nf6? 15…Kf8 is correct.

16.f5 gxf5 17.Bf4? 17. Bxf5 and Bc2 is just a clear large edge to white.

Kf8 18.O-O-O? 18. O-O is much stronger, white still has an edge just less than before.

18…b3? 18..Ng6 is stronger with good chances.

19.h4 Ne4?? A terrible hallucination.  Anything except this to fight on.  Sarkar was in atrocious form for much of the event; so was his opponent.

20.Bxe4! fxe4 21.Nxe4 Bf5 22.Nxd6 Black is completely, totally, busted.

22…Bc2 23.Rde1?? If Pruess wasn’t in such bad form, he would have easily spotted 23. Nxf7! and black must resign.  For example, 23…Kxf7 24. Ng5+ Ke8 25. Ne6 Bxd1 26. Rxd1 and you can turn off your TV set now.

Ng6 24.Qe3 Qd7 25.Rhf1 A really sick perpetual results from 25. Rhg1 Qxa4 26. Qxc5 Qa1+ 27. Kd2 Qxb2 28. Nf5+ Kg8 29. Ne7+ Kh7 (not 29…Nxe7?? 30. Be5! winning) 30. Ng5+ Kh6 31. Nxf7+ Kh7 and draw!

25…Qxa4 26.Be5 Nxe5 27.Nxe5 Qa1 28.Kd2 Qxb2 29.Rxf7 Kg8 30.Qc3 Qxc3 31.Kxc3 Rxh4 32.Rg1 Rh7 33.Rc7 Rf8 34.Kd2 a5 35.Rxc5? The last straw.  Some beautiful variations remained behind the scenes here.

Feast your eyes on 35. Re7!!.   35. Re7!! a4 36. Nd7 Rh2+ 37. Ke1 Bg6!!  (37…Rh7 is crushed by 38. Nxf8 b2 39. Nxh7 b1=Q+ 40. Kf2 and wins)  and make sure to set this position up at home.  It’s amazing.   38. Rxg6! (38. Nxf8?? Kxf8 wins for black).   Now, 38…b2 is a fantastic draw.  38…b2 39. Rexg7+ Kh8 and now watch the horses give themselves away!  40.  Nf7+ Rxf7 41. Rg8+ Kh7 42. Nf6+ (or the dual 42. Nf8+!!) 42…Rxf6 43.  R8g7+ and draw.

But it gets even better.  White can start with 38. Rxg6 b2 39. Nf6+!!.   For example, 39…Rxf6 40. Rexg7+ and let’s pause here.    Can the black king run to f8?  No!!  40…Kf8 41. Rg8+ Ke7 42. Nc8+!! mates!   A really nice mate after 42…Kd7 43. R6g7+.    And after the prosaic 40…Kh8 we have our familiar perpetual with 41 Rg8+.  These double knight sac variations are all very beautiful.

After the text black sadly wins.  There is luck in chess.

35…Rh2+ 36.Kc3 Rf3 37.Kb2 Bg6 0-1 Very, very sad.

Round 9

This game was fairly clean – which was good, I was almost out of energy.

FM Danny Rensch – IM M. Ginsburg

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.c4 Personally I think 3. c3 is the strongest here.

3…e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bd3 Here, I think 6. Nc3 is stronger.   Theory shows advantage for white after 6…Bb4 but black can hang tough in the style of Gregory Serper with …Qc7, …b6, and a Hedgehog.

6…Nc6 7.Nxc6 dxc6 8.O-O e5 9.Na3?! I don’t like this.  The knight is going to c2 to support Bc1-e3, but in fact black wants to trade those bishops!  Therefore 9. Nc3! with later Nc3-a4 ideas looks much better.  As GM Kacheishvili mentioned, even N to d2 to b3 is possible.

9…Be6 10.Qe2 Bc5 11.Be3 Nd7 12.Nc2 a5 13.Kh1 Bxe3 14.Nxe3 Nc5 15.Bc2 O-O 16.b3 Qe7 17.g3 Rad8 18.Rae1? White must challenge on the d-file although he is not fully equal there.

18…Rd4 19.f4?! Bh3 20.Qh5?! White is just executing one giant miscalculation.  In this tournament, every player (except for the winner Gareev) showed weak spots with low energy.  I showed mine in Round 10 vs IM-elect Esserman.

20…Bxf1 21.Nf5

Black to play and win

Black to play and win

21…Bg2+! This zwicshenzug wins.

22.Kg1 Qd8 23.Nxd4 Qxd4 24.Kxg2 White offered a draw but it’s plain sailing now for black.

24…exf4 Since 25. gxf4 Ne6! wins, white is lost.


Weirdly the motif of dark square control and then gang up on weak white f4-pawn with queen and knight re-occurred not too long later in Mihaliuk-Ginsburg, USCL Seattle vs Arizona, 9/16/09. The rest poses no problems as white cannot get counterplay.

25.e5 g6 26.Qg4 Qc3 27.Re2 Ne6 28.Be4 fxg3 29.hxg3 Rd8 30.Qf3 Qxf3 31.Bxf3 h5 32.Rb2 Kf8 33.a3 Nc5 34.Be2 Nd3 35.Bxd3 Rxd3 36.c5 Rc3 37.b4 Rxa3 38.bxa5 Rxa5 39.Rxb7 Rxc5 40.Rc7 Rxe5 41.Rxc6 Kg7 42.Rc7 g5 43.Ra7 Kg6 44.Ra8 Re4 45.Rg8 Kf5 46.Ra8 h4 47.gxh4 Rxh4 0-1

This is the first time I defeated Danny, he defeated me several times prior in sharp Sicilians.  This one wasn’t so sharp which helped explain my success.

Round 10

GM Georgi Kacheishvili came up strong with flawless technique vs young GM Ramirez.


1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Bg4 3.Bg2 Nd7 4.d4 e6 5.O-O Ngf6 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.c3 h6 8.Qb3 Rb8 9.Re1 Bf5 10.Nf1 O-O 11.c4 dxc4 12.Qxc4 b5 13.Qb3 c5 14.Bf4 c4 15.Qd1 Rc8 16.N3d2 Nd5 17.e4 Nxf4 18.gxf4 Bh7 19.Ng3 Bb4 20.a3 Ba5 21.Re3 Nf6 22.Ne2 Bb6 23.Nb1 Rc7 24.Nbc3 Rd7 25.Nxb5 a6 26.Nbc3 Bxd4 27.Nxd4 Rxd4 28.Qe2 Qc7 29.e5 Nd7 30.Ne4 Nc5 31.Nxc5 Qxc5 32.Be4 Rfd8 33.Rc1 Rd2 34.Bxh7 Kxh7 35.Qf3 Rxb2 From this point forward, it’s absolute torture for white with his structural weaknesses.  Black plays perfectly, tacking to and fro until something gives.

36.Qe4 g6 37.Rxc4 Qe7 38.Rc2 Rxc2 39.Qxc2 Rd4 40.Rf3 Qh4 41.Qe2 Qg4 42.Kf1 a5 43.h3 Qf5 44.Qe3 Rd1 45.Kg2 Qb1 46.Rg3 Rg1 47.Kf3 Re1 48.Qd4 Qb7 49.Kg4 Re4 50.Qd8 Rxe5 Very nice.  Black won the game in minimum time.

51.Rf3 Rd5 52.Qf8 Rf5 53.Kg3 Qb1 0-1 White’s seen enough. Something like 53. Kg2 Qe4 54. Kg3 g5 wins.

I fared no better in the last round.  It appears my energy reserves were depleted as I saw nothing at the board in a sharp opening. It’s better to be quietly when tired!

IM-elect Esserman – M. Ginsburg
1.e4 d6 1…c5! hoping for a Smith-Morra.  It’s not easy to explain why I selected an opening I did not know.

2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 b5 To demonstrate my ignorance, I did not know 4…Qa5 5. Bd3 e5 was correct here.

5.e5 b4 6.exf6 bxc3 7.fxg7 Bxg7 8.bxc3 Black has inadequate compensation.

Nd7 9.Bd3 Qa5 10.Bd2 Nb6 11.Nf3 Be6 12.O-O? Much stronger is 12. Qe2!

12…Nc4 13.Re1 Nxd2 14.Qxd2 Now black in fact has compensation.  Somewhere around here Esserman’s cell phone started ringing.  That’s how FM Bartell was forfeited not just once, but twice at a North American FIDE Invitational?  Unfortunately for me, in this event we weren’t playing by the FIDE “cell phone forfeit rule” although it was FIDE rated.  White just lost 10 minutes on his clock.  That’s not enough compensation for my next move which is a game-ending blunder.

14…Rb8?? Should we say “last round game” or “morning game” or a combination of the two.  The text loses and the simple 14…O-O retained compensation.  The white knight can’t jump just yet due to the Bxd4+ trick.

15.f5 This just wins.  If the bishop moves, Qg5 wins.  The black king is not looking happy in the middle. Not a good day.

15…Bxf5 16.Qg5 Kf8 17.Bxf5 e6 18.Qf4 Ke7 19.Bxe6 fxe6 20.Ng5 1-0

Photo Section

Everybody got a T-Shirt!

The Official Tournament T-Shirt

The Official Tournament T-Shirt

And here are the second place winners.

They tied for second

They tied for second

Pictured from left to right are hard-working TD Jon Haskel, organizer FM Danny Rensch, Alex Lenderman (who made a GM norm), GM Georgi Kacheishvili, and friend of chess and main patron, Abstrax Inc. president John Lalonde.  Alex wound up with a monster score courtesy of a last-round win that was most chaotic – Alex was black in Levon Altounian’s favorite Panov Attack, played in a rather crazy and risky manner, and survived white’s monster initiative when white got low on time.  In the end he even won a knight and pawn ending.  He had already made a 9-round norm though (you’re allowed to drop one game and have nine sequential games count in a ten-round tournament).

And finally the winner!

Uzbek GM Timur Gareev - Tournament Winner!

Uzbek GM Timur Gareev - Tournament Winner!

From left to right:  Haskel, Rensch, Gareev and Lalonde.

In the foreground you see GM Zviad Izoria with his trademark red cap and to his left, Alex Lenderman.  Just stopping in for the prizegiving was WGM Angelina Belapovskaya!

The funniest thing was Lenderman doing a sort of disco dance at this ceremony (if you YouTube, you can see he’s done it before) and also appreciated was a super-babe Round girl to start Round 1 (I think it was Danny’s sister).