Posts Tagged ‘Adamson’

The Fabulous 10’s: Berkeley Chess International 2011

January 13, 2011

Return to Forever

It was a treat to go back to UC Berkeley for the January International organized by David Pruess and Arun Sharma.  I taught at the UC Berkeley SIMS School (now called the i-school) in the spring of 1999 and in the fall of 1998 I was a post-doctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley Haas School.

Le Roy and Cedar, an intersection near the chess site (a Harry Potteresque abandoned schoolhouse)

Super Happy Lucky Cat

The chess was a bit of a tough slog.

In Round 1 I failed to spot a nice win in an ending.  Actually I was simply worse (losing, really) in the early middlegame then white went wrong.

Manvelyan,Hayk (2158) – Ginsburg,Mark (2393) [B25]
Berkeley op Berkeley (1), 02.01.2011   Sicilian Closed

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.f4 e6 7.Nf3 Nge7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Rb1 Rb8 10.Bd2 b5 11.a3 Nd4 12.Ne2 Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 d5 14.c3 dxe4 15.dxe4 Qd3 16.Be1 Rd8 17.Bf2 c4

A rather crazy “gambit” but what can I do?  I played aggressively on move 15 then had no real followup.

18.Bxa7 Bb7 19.Qxd3 cxd3 20.Nd4 Rbc8 21.Nxb5??

Inexperience.  An experienced player would spot 21. e5! crushing black who suddenly has no play at all and is down material.

e5! Now black has irritating counterplay.  White’s bad reaction leads him into a lost game!

22.fxe5? Nc6 23.Bb6? Nxe5! An obvious exchange sacrifice.

24.Bxd8 Rxd8 25.Bg2 Nc4 26.Rfd1 Ne3 27.Rd2 f5!

Suddenly black is just winning!

28.Re1 Nxg2 29.Rxg2 fxe4 30.Nd4 Rxd4 31.cxd4 Bxd4+ 32.Kf1 e3 33.Rge2 dxe2+? Here for some reason I never saw 33…Ba6! winning, a very nice geometrical motif.

34.Kxe2 Ba6+ 35.Kf3 e2 36.b3 Kf7 37.Rxe2 Bxe2+ 38.Kxe2 Ke6 39.Kf3 Kf5 40.b4 h5 41.h3

Black made it harder on himself but the next move is a real lemon handing a square over that his own king needs.  Correct and rather elementary is 41…Bb2 42. a4 Bc3 43. b5 Ba5 and black will win in fairly short order.

g5?? 42.g4+ hxg4+ 43.hxg4+ Ke5 44.a4 Bc3 45.b5 Ba5 46.Ke3 Now black cannot establish a zugzwang.

Bd8 47.Kd3 Kf4 48.Kc4 Kxg4 49.Kc5 Kf3 50.b6 g4 51.a5 g3 52.Kc6 g2 53.b7 1/2-1/2

Round 2 was a bye to recuperate from this ordeal.  Round 3 was not much more inspiring:

Ginsburg,Mark (2393) – Kavutskiy,Konstantin (2170) [D34]
Berkeley op Berkeley (3), 03.01.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.b3 Be7 5.Bg2 c5 6.0-0 Nc6 7.cxd5 exd5 8.d4 0-0 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bb2 Bg4 11.Nc3 a6 12.Rc1 Re8 13.e3 Ba7 14.Ne2 Qe7 15.h3 Bf5 16.Ned4 Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Bxd4 18.Qxd4 Be4 19.Qb6

White has a pleasant game but black should not lose if he stays solid.

Rac8 20.Nd4 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 h5 22.Rfd1 Qd7 23.Ne2 h4?

A terrible move but white is not in good enough form to score the full point after this gift.

24.gxh4! Did black underestimate this?


White should seek improvements now because he is better.

25.Qa5 Rec6 26.Rxc6 Qxc6 27.Rc1 Qd7 28.Rxc8+ Qxc8 29.Qc3 Qf5 30.Ng3 Qe6 31.Qd4 Ne4 32.Nxe4 dxe4

After this trade white has very little as he soon realized.

33.Qd8+ Kh7 34.Qg5 Kg8 35.h5 Kh7 36.Kg3 Qd6+ 37.Qf4 Qe6! The drawing motif is simply to keep the white king at bay.

38.h4 b5 39.Qg5 Qd6+ 40.Kg2 Qe6 41.Qf4 Qd5 42.Kg3 Qe6 43.b4 Kh8 44.a3 Kh7 45.Qg5 Qd6+ 46.Kg2 Qe6 1/2-1/2

A 7th round where I messed up the opening badly but struggled back to draw with plenty of help from white.

Collins,Sam (2436) – Ginsburg,Mark (2393) [B07]
Berkeley op Berkeley (7), 05.01.2011   Sicilian 2. c3

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6

2…Nf6! as in a precise game Sevillano-De Firmian (drawn) must be more accurate.

3.d4 Nf6 4.Bd3 cxd4 5.cxd4 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.h3 0-0 8.Nf3 Nc6 9.0-0 Nh5 10.Be2 e5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Qxd8 Rxd8 13.Bg5!

This is just unpleasant for black!

f6 14.Bc4+ Kh8 15.Be3 Nf4 16.Rfd1 Be6 17.Bd5 Bxd5 18.exd5 Na5 19.g3 Nh5 20.b3 Rd7 21.Rac1 Bf8

Black’s position is horrible.


22. Nb5! looks completely crushing.

Ba3 23.Rb1 Kg7 24.b4 Nc4 25.Nc5 Rf7 26.Ne6+ Kg8 27.Bh6 a5

Black shows some signs of life.

28.bxa5 Rxa5 29.g4 Nf4 30.Nxf4 exf4 31.Bxf4 Bd6 32.Rbc1 Bxf4 33.Rxc4 Bd6 34.Rd2 Rf8 35.Re4 Kf7 36.Rb2 Rb8 37.Rd2 Rd8 38.Kg2 Rda8 39.Ree2 Bf4 40.Rd4 Bd6 41.Re6 Rd8 42.g5 f5 43.a4 Kg8 44.Ne5 Bxe5 45.Rxe5 b5 46.axb5 Rxb5 47.Re7 Rbxd5 48.Rh4 R5d7 49.Rhxh7 Rxe7 50.Rxe7 Rd4

Fortunately at this fast time control this is a simple draw.  White cannot construct any trick.

51.Kg3 Kf8 52.Rc7 Kg8 53.Ra7 Kf8 54.Rc7 Kg8 55.Rb7 Kf8 56.h4 Kg8 57.Ra7 Kf8 58.Rb7 Kg8 59.Rb5 Kg7 60.Ra5 Rc4 61.Ra7+ Kg8 62.Ra3 Kg7 63.Rd3 Rb4 64.Rd7+ Kg8 65.Re7 Rd4 66.Re5 Kg7 67.Re7+ Kg8 68.h5 gxh5 69.f4 h4+ 70.Kf3 h3 71.Kg3 Rd3+ 72.Kh2 Rf3 1/2-1/2

Some 8th round play vs. a rather passive French:

Ginsburg,Mark (2393) – Kuljasevic,Davorin (2545) [C13]
Berkeley op Berkeley (8), 06.01.2011   French Defense

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4?!

Black would be better off with the McCutcheon, an opening Kuljasevic has played in the past (4…Bb4!? 5. e5 h6).

5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.Qe2!

An idea from GM Bologan’s autobiography.  I believe Bologan beat GM Bareev in this line.  My opponent after the game pointed out that Morozevich has tried another dangerous move here, 8. Qd3!? with a later idea of Neg5 and h2-h4.

0-0 9.0-0-0 Be7 10.Ne5 Nf6 11.Nxf6+ Bxf6

11….gxf6!? leads to an interesting position.  My intention was Ne5-c4!? with an idea of Nc4-e3 and a complex struggle in sight.

12.f4 Bd7 13.Qf3 Bc6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Qxc6 Bxd4 16.c3

Here, 16. Qe4? Bxb2+ 17. Kxb2 Qxd1 18. Bd3 Rfb8+!  releases white’s mate threat and black wins.

Be3+ 17.Kc2 Qf6 18.g3 1/2-1/2

Actually white can and should play on.  He can play his B to d3 and launch a general kingside pawn storm, whereas black probably has to go for the passive retreat Be3-b6. White is somewhat better with no risk.

In the next to last round, a disaster!

Ginsburg,Mark (2393) – Evans,Bela (2262) [A13]
Berkeley op Berkeley (9), 07.01.2011    Catalan / Hedgehog Reversed

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.g3 dxc4 4.Qa4+ Nd7 5.Bg2 a6 6.Qxc4 c5 7.0-0 Ngf6 8.b3 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bb2 Rc8 11.d3 Be7 12.Nbd2 0-0 13.Rac1 Qb6 14.Qb1 Rfd8 15.Rc2 Qa7 16.Rfc1 Qa8 17.a3 h6 18.Qa1 Bd5 19.Bc3!

White hits upon a strong idea.  Transfer the bishop to a5 and later play b3-b4 to chip away, in true Hedgehog style (colors reversed, of course).

Rb8 20.Ba5 Rdc8 21.e4 Bb7 22.h3 Qa7 23.b4 Re8 24.bxc5 Bxc5 25.Nb3 Be7 26.Nfd4 Qa8

At this point black’s position is in ruins.  The lights went out though and we had to relocate to the skittles room.  This change of venue somehow bewitched white who went completely wrong in mild time trouble.


27. Bc7 followed by Nba5 is crushing.

Bxc6 28.Rxc6

Of course this is great for white with the two bishops but black has some breathing space.

Rbc8 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Bb4 Bd8 31.d4?

Why?  The d3/e4 pawn duo kept black’s minor pieces at bay.  White should simply have played slowly to make the time control.

Nb6 32.d5?

And this is just irrational. White, with less time, launches an “attack” without supporting forces.

exd5 33.e5 Ne4 34.Nd4 Nc4 35.Nf5 Qa7

Black hits f2.  White’s knight on f5 is optically nice but he has no support.

36.Bxe4 dxe4 37.Qb1 Qb7 38.Rxc4 Rxc4 39.Nd6 Qd5 40.Nxc4 Qxc4 41.Qd1 Bb6

Now black is just winning.   A very sad state of affairs considering the nice opening.

42.Qd6 Qe6 43.Qb8+ Kh7 44.Bd6 Bd4 45.Qb7 Qf5 0-1

Finally I scored a win in the last round.  I was fairly irritated from the previous round and wanted at least to get to 50%.

Shivaji,Shivkuma (2303) – Ginsburg,Mark (2393) [B07]
Berkeley op Berkeley (10), 08.01.2011  Modern Defense

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5

I would prefer 4. Be3 guarding the sensitive d4 point.

c6 5.Qd2 b5 6.f4 Nf6 7.Bd3 b4 8.Nd1

This shouldn’t be a “scare” system for black but white is solid.

Qb6 9.c3 e5!?

Maybe too sharp.

10.fxe5 dxe5 11.Nf3 exd4 12.cxd4 Ba6

Not very impressive but black does have to develop.

13.0-0 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 0-0 15.Nf2 Nbd7 16.Kh1 Rac8 17.Nd2?!

There was no real reason for this passive regrouping.

Nh5 18.Nb3

And now although it looks rather schizophrenic white should have seriously considered 18. g4!?.

c5 19.Qh3 Qe6

I had not considered a strong alternative here, 19…Qb5.

20.Qxe6 fxe6 21.dxc5 Bxb2 22.Rad1 Ne5 23.Be7 Rf7 24.Bd6 Nc6 25.Ng4 Rxf1+ 26.Rxf1 a5 27.Nd2 Bg7 28.e5!

This position is very sharp and double-edged.   In time trouble white goes astray.

a4 29.Nf6+ Nxf6 30.exf6 Bf8 31.Ne4 h6 32.g4 Ra8 33.g5 h5 34.Rb1 e5 35.Nd2 Kf7 36.Nc4 Bxd6 37.cxd6 Rd8 38.Kg2 Ke6 39.Kf3 Kd5 40.Nb6+ Kxd6 41.Ke4

White notices that 41. Nxa4 Ra8 is hopeless and tries something else, but black has a winning ending in any event.

a3 42.Rd1+ Ke6 43.Nd5 b3!

Not a difficult tactic but nice.

44.axb3 a2 45.Nc7+ Kf7 46.Nd5 Nb4 47.Nxb4 Rxd1 48.Nxa2 Ke6

Now it’s just mop-up.

49.Nc3 Rd4+ 50.Ke3 Rh4 51.Ne4 Rh3+ 52.Kd2 Rxh2+ 53.Kd3 h4 54.Nc5+ Kd5 55.Ke3 Rh3+ 56.Ke2 e4 57.Nd7 Rf3 0-1

Questions of Modern and not so Modern Opening Theory

The following game was presented in GM Baburin’s daily online chess newsletter, Chess Today.  It caught my attention.

Conrad Holt – Lev Milman Nimzo Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 (?!)

Too soon, junior

I don’t see the motivation for this. Black has castled, white has not.  Black has a ready-made counterstrike in the center.  Even so, Irina Krush and others have played it; so it’s a good thing for black to know. I recently enjoyed GM Ivan Sokolov’s “Best Games” oeuvre.  He is a 4. Qc2 fanatic, and 5. e4 does not appear in his games!  I deduce that he believes 5. a3 is stronger!


For some bizarre reason, also (earlier, Round 2)  in this tournament, GM Magesh Panchanathan reacted here with the bad move 5…d6? conceding white a huge center.  Black, in some weird Caissic injustice, won that game with a combinational finish – of course white misplayed because he must have overjoyed to see the lemon 5….d6.

That game:

Holt,Conrad (2388) – Panchanathan,Magesh (2537) [E32]
Berkeley op Berkeley (2), 02.01.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 d6?  Why?

6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nf3 e5 8.d5 Ne7 9.a3 Bxc3+ 10.Qxc3 a5  Black looks significantly worse here but white for some reason hurries to give away the bishop pair.

11.Bg5 Ne8 12.0-0 h6 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.b4 f5 15.Nd2 Qg5 16.c5 Nf6 17.exf5 Bxf5 18.Bxf5 Qxf5 19.bxa5 Kh8 20.cxd6 cxd6 21.Qb3 e4 22.Rae1 Rxa5 23.Nc4 Rc5 24.Nxd6 Qf4 25.Qg3 Qxg3 26.hxg3 Rxd5 27.Nxb7 Ra8 28.Re3 Ra7 29.Rb1 Rxb7!  Ut-oh 30.Rxb7 Rd1+ 31.Kh2 Ng4+ 32.Kh3 Nxf2+ 33.Kh4 Rh1# 0-1  Why did white play on to mate?

6.e5 Ne4 7.Bd3 c5 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Nd7 10.Bf4 Qh4 (?) 11.g3 Qh3 12.0-0-0 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Ba3+ 14.Kb1 Nb6 15.Bf1 Qh5 16.Be2 Qh3 17.Nf3 Qf5 18.Bd3 Qh5 19.Ng5 h6 20.h4 Bd7 21.Bh7+ Kh8 22.Bg8! g6 23.Nxf7+ Kg7 24.g4 Qxg4 25.Rdg1 Qf5 26.Qxf5 exf5 27.Rxg6+!

A very nice mating combination.

27…Kxg6 28.h5+ Kg7 29.Rg1# 1-0

All very nice, but black’s 10th move looks insanely risky and totally impractical.  Why put the queen far afield when there is no need?  I had analyzed this variation some time ago, and white’s 5th move looks very loosening (that’s why GM Sokolov always prefers 5. a3).   All is well from black’s point of view after white’s 10th; his bishop is passively guarding a pawn on e5. The correct move is 10…Ndc5! and this looks dead equal.  I wrote in to Chess Today and got a response from GM Golubev that while 10…Qh4 may be viable due to some improvement, 10…Ndc5 is probably safer.  All of this was confirmed in this same tournament, (later game), as I found after writing in!  Here is the second game.  White didn’t need to lose the game, but still this indicates the correct treatment.

Conrad Holt – Daniel Rensch  Nimzo Indian
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.e4 (?!) d5! 6.e5 Ne4 7.Bd3 c5 8.Nf3 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Nd7 10.Bf4 Ndc5! 11.0-0 Nxd3 12.Qxd3 Bxc3 13.bxc3 b6

This looks completely equal!  White’s dangerous light square bishop (the one that killed Milman) has been removed.

14.cxd5 Qxd5

Note in passing that Black can afford to accept an isolated d-pawn here as white has weak pawns of his own.

15.Rfd1 Rd8 16.c4 Qb7 17.Qe3 Bd7 18.f3 Nc5 19.Bg5 Rdc8 20.Ne2 Ba4 21.Rd4 Nd7 22.Nc3 Bc6 23.h4 Qc7 24.Re1 h5 25.Rd6 Nf8 26.Red1 Bb7 27.R1d4 Qc5 28.Be7 Re8 29.Bxf8 Rxf8 30.Ne2 Qb4 31.Nf4 Qb1+ 32.Kh2 Qf5 33.Nd3 Rac8 34.Rf4 Qg6 35.c5 bxc5 36.Nxc5 Bd5 37.Ra4 Bxf3 38.Rd2 Bd5 39.Rxa7 Rc6 40.Nd7 Rc4 41.Qf2 Rd8 42.Nb6 Re4 43.Nxd5 exd5 44.Rd3 Qe6 45.Rf3 Qxe5+ 46.Kh3 Qe6+ 47.Kh2 Rf8 48.Ra5 Qe5+ 49.Kh3 Re1 50.Rf4 Qc3+ 0-1

GM Golubev was impressed by this coincidental find.

In another totally puzzling turn of events, black plays a bad Dragon line in the next game and the higher-rated white player strangely reacts badly and loses.  But it’s all well known to be good for white.  Go figure.

(233) Hess,Robert L (2572) – Kiewra,Keaton F (2337) [B76]
Berkeley op Berkeley (9), 07.01.2011   Sicilian Dragon

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxd4?!

9…d5 is the only testing move.

10.Bxd4 Be6

This is not a good line for black.


Quite simple and good for white is 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 Qc7 13. Kb1 with the idea of Rd1-c1, c2-c4, and a later h2-h4.  Black doesn’t have much play.  It cuts out all the play that actually happened in this game.  I totally tortured GM Kudrin (noted Dragon expert) with this in the early 1980s and it won some kind of stamp of approval as Kudrin adopted my treatment in his next tournament.

Qa5 12.Qg5

There is no need for this “fancy” reaction.  It’s quite impractical too since the line given above is a safe significant plus for white.

b5 13.h5 Rab8 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Bd3 Bxa2

Now it’s just a Dragon mess and black winds up on top.

16.e5 dxe5 17.Bxe5 Bf7 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.fxe4 b4 20.Qh4 h5 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.e5 Qa1+ 23.Kd2 Qxb2 24.Qg5 Rbd8 25.Rxh5 Rxd3+ 26.Kxd3 Qc3+ 27.Ke4 Qxc2+ 28.Ke3 Qc5+ 29.Ke4 Qc2+ 30.Ke3 Bc4 31.Qh6+ Kf7 32.Qf4+ Ke8 33.Rd8+ Kxd8 34.Qxf8+ Kd7 35.e6+ Bxe6 36.Ra5 Qc3+ 37.Kf2 Qd4+ 38.Kg3 b3 39.Qf3 Qd6+ 40.Qf4 Qxf4+ 41.Kxf4 Bf5 42.Rb5 Bc2 43.Ke3 Kc6 44.Rb8 Kc7 45.Rb4 a5 46.Rc4+ Kb6 47.Kd2 Kb5 48.Rc7 Kb4 49.Rb7+ Ka3 50.Kc3 a4 51.Rxe7 Ka2 52.Re2 b2 53.Rxc2 a3 54.Kd2 Kb1 55.Kc3 Ka1 0-1

To give some perspective on why Kiewra plays this bad line, he was probably emboldened by the successful result in this game.

[Event “USCL Arizona vs Dallas”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2009.09.30”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Adamson, Robby”]
[Black “Kiewra, Keaton”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “B76”]
[WhiteElo “2354”]
[BlackElo “2365”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O Nxd4?! 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1 Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5

Pleasant for White!

Rfc8 14. Rc1! Correct, as in my Kudrin game.

Nd7? A rather serious miscue.  Black cannot stand this opening to the king at this moment.

15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. h4 h5 17. g4 Nf6

Critical Moment

18. gxh5?  Nxh5 19. Bh3 Rh8 20. Bg4 Qc4 21. Rce1 Qf4 22. Qc3+ Qf6 23. Qc7 Nf4 24. Qxe7 Rae8 25. Qc7 Qxh4 26. Qc3+ Qf6 27. Rxh8 Rxe1+ 28. Qxe1 Kxh8 29. Bc8 b6 30. Qe4 Kg7 31. a3 Ng2 32. c4 Qf4 33. Qxf4 Nxf4 34. Kc2 Kf6 35. Kc3 Ke5 36. b4 f5 37. Bd7 g5 38. Bc8 Ng2 39. Kd3 Nh4 40. Ke2 f4 41. Ba6 Kd4 42. c5 bxc5 43. b5 c4 44. a4 Kxd5 45. Bc8 Kc5 46. Bd7 Kb4 47. Bc6 Nf5 48. Kd2 Ne3 49. a5 Kxa5 50. Kc3 Kb6 {White resigns} 0-1

As an exercise to the reader, identify the key improvement early on in the above US Chess League game where white could have reached a huge plus.  As a hint, it occurred at the “critical moment”. This improvement completely refutes black’s treatment.  White probably missed it due to the very fast USCL time control.

As a final piece of evidence, consider this 2008 USCL game.

Event “USCL Chicago vs Arizona”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2008.10.22”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “VandeMortel, Jan”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B76”]
[WhiteElo “2410”]
[BlackElo “2460”]
[PlyCount “93”]
[EventDate “2008.??.??”]
[TimeControl “3600+30”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Nxd4?! 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1

White can do Nd5 next.  11…Qa5?? 12. Nd5!

Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5

Starting Point

The familiar starting point.  I think this is just bad for black.

Rfc8 14. Rc1!

The key idea that bothered GM Kudrin so much he adopted it.

14…Qd7 Trying for some counterplay via …b7-b5.

15. g4 b5 16. c4

White needs to get his own queenside space and he remains much superior on the kingside.

Qb7 17. h4 bxc4 18. Bxc4 Rc7 19. b3!

This is the key idea to prepare Qb2 and continue an attack.

Rac8 20. Qb2 h5? Black makes a mistake under pressure.

21. gxh5 Nxh5 22. Bxg7 Nxg7 23. h5 Rxc4 24. Rxc4?

White misses the h5-h6 interpolation concluding the game right away.

Rxc4 25. bxc4 Qxb2+ 26. Kxb2 gxh5 27. Kb3 Kh7 28. Kb4 Kg6 29. Kb5 Nf5 30. Ka6 Ne3 31. Kxa7 Nxc4 32. a4 e6 33. Ka6 Kg5 34. Kb5 exd5 35. a5 Nxa5 36. Kxa5 h4 37. Kb4 Kf4 38. Rxh4+ Kxf3 39. Kc3 f5 40. Kd2 f4 41. Rh6 Kg2 42. Rg6+ Kf3 43. Rxd6 Ke4 44. Ke2 f3+ 45. Kf2 d4 46. Rd8 d3 47. Rd7 {Black resigns} 1-0


The Fabulous 00s: The 2009 North American Open

December 30, 2009

Vegas and Chess, Makes Sense

A true American classic – this year’s edition of the Bill Goichberg North American Open (at Bally’s Hotel, Las Vegas) was very hard fought in all seven rounds.

The abridged standings (click here for the complete standings as reported by the CCA):

1 GM Varuzhan Akobian 2690 CA W48 W27 W41 D5 W12 D3 D4
2 GM Alexander Shabalov 2669 PA W69 W29 D18 L12 W62 W19 W15
3 GM Victor Mikhalevski 2666 ISR W92 D42 W31 W18 D15 D1 W16
4 GM Joshua Ed Friedel 2609 NH L23 W25 W76 W32 W21 W11 D1
5 GM Alex Yermolinsky 2583 SD W37 W45 W49 D1 D11 D12 W14
6 GM Sundarajan Kidambi 2616 IND W59 W43 L12 W29 D13 D18 W27 5
7 GM Dmitry Gurevich 2526 IL W79 W35 D13 D19 D41 W42 D12 5
8 IM Lev Milman 2510 NY W78 D31 D32 D34 W53 W22 D9 5
9 IM Mark Ginsburg 2427 AZ W38 D33 H— W47 D44 W28 D8 5
10 FM Kazim Gulamali 2418 GA W80 W36 D44 L13 W31 D34 W30 5
11 FM Steven C Zierk 2387 CA W25 D23 W33 W17 D5 L4 W34 5
12 FM Daniel Naroditsky 2375 CA W62 W94 W6 W2 L1 D5 D7 5
13 David Alan Zimbeck 2293 CA W53 W90 D7 W10 D6 D15 D18 5
14 Siddharth Ravichandran 2489 NY L49 W93 W78 W43 D22 W40 L5
15 GM Mesgen Amanov 2448 IL W24 D32 W58 W28 D3 D13 L2
16 FM Alexander Kretchetov 2444 CA D60 W51 D47 W45 D42 W41 L3
17 FM Charles R Riordan 2411 MA W50 D47 X23 L11 L34 W55 W46
18 FM Michael Lee 2399 WA W61 W34 D2 L3 W36 D6 D13
19 IM Emory A Tate 2375 CA D70 W64 W56 D7 D40 L2 W39
20 FM Darwin Yang 2370 TX L63 L62 W99 W94 W49 W44 D23
21 GM Anatoly Y Lein 2355 OH W71 D66 H— W49 L4 D24 W48
22 Alex Cherniack 2280 MA H— W65 D52 W60 D14 L8 W45
23 FM William J Schill 2203 WA W4 D11 F17 D77 W66 W68 D20
24 Ryan J Moon 2188 GA L15 W84 W26 L41 W57 D21 W42
25 Christopher Heung 2168 FL L11 L4 W84 W87 W43 D45 W44

Here are my games.  I took a bye in the 3rd round to drink and gamble, making my effort a 6-rounder.

Round 1.

M. Ginsburg – S. Higgins (attended some Robby Adamson camps)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 Nc6 3. d4 e6 4. a3 d6?! 5. Nc3 g6 6. d5! This move gives an edge in all lines. As black, I like to try the Tango a little differently:  in ICC blitz 4…g6!? 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. e4 d5!? is recommended with crazy Gruenfeld-like complications.  I haven’t looked up if that particular try has been seen OTB.

6…Ne7 7. e4 e5 8. c5! Bg7 9. Bb5+ Nd7 9..Bd7 is quite playable.

10. b4 The computer is quick to point out the logical 10. cxd6 cxd6 11. O-O O-O 12. Be3 f5 13. Ng5 but the text move is all right.

10… O-O 11. O-O h6 12. Bb2 f5 13. Bc4 Kh8 14. Rc1 Nf6 15. exf5?! Cleaner is 15. Nd2! with the possible line 15…f4 16. Be2 g5 17. cxd6 cxd6 18. Nb5 Ne8 19. Bh5!! (a fantastic move to gain c7) 19…Nf6 20. h3 a6 21. Nc7 Rb8 22. Be2 and white is dominating; he can choose when to play Ne6 with crushing effect.  This is exactly what white wants – a route to e6.

15… g5?!

Puzzle. White to play...

16. Re1? Very weak.  The computer points out the elementary tactic 16. h4! g4
17. Ng5! hxg5 18. hxg5 Bxf5 19. gxf6 Bxf6 with a big edge to white.  For whatever reason, I played my move fast, never bothering to look for anything.  A sign of first-round laziness?  At least I was well ahead on time at this point.  I had some vague notions of Bishop back to f1 and clearing the c-file.

16… Bxf5 17. Bf1 17. h3!? Ng6 18. Qb3 Qd7 19. c6!? bxc6 20. dxc6 Qxc6! 21. Bd5 Qe8 22. Bxa8 Qxa8 and black has good compensation.

17… Bg4 18. Be2 Bf5 19. Qb3 Ne8? No reason for this retreat. 19… g4 20. Nd2 h5 is all right.

20. Nd2 Ng6 21. Bf1?! A continuation of a second-best idea.  The obvious reflex denying the f4 square, 21. g3! gives white a pleasant edge.

21… Nf4 22. Nde4 Qe7 23. Nd1 Nothing wrong with the solid 23. f3! — the game move somehow works out after a pair of knights comes off the board.

23… Nf6 24. Nxf6 Rxf6 25. Ne3 Bd7? Now white breaks through and should be winning.  But since both players are in time trouble, black more than white, crazy adventures await.

26. cxd6 cxd6 27. Rc7 Qd8 28. Rec1 b6 29. Qc2 Rf8 30. g3! After the game, I thought this move was terrible giving black all kinds of chances, but it’s actually correct and the fastest win.

A more practical move is 30. Qe4 with domination.  Black can barely move.

30… Nh3+ 31. Bxh3 Bxh3 32. Qg6? A huge lemon.  Consistent is 32. g4! locking out the bishop on h3.   32. g4! Qf6 (note that 32… Rf4 is met by an unusually nice combination: 33. Qg6 Qf6 34. Rc8+ Rxc8 35. Rxc8+ Bf8 36. Qxf6+ Rxf6

Position after 36...Rxf6 (analysis)

37. Bxe5!! {Wow!} dxe5 38. d6 Rxd6 39. Rxf8+ Kh7 40. Rf3 and wins the errant bishop!

Returning to 32. g4 Qf6, 33. Nf5 Rg8 34. f3 h5 35. Qe4 and white has things under control and wins.

32… Qf6 My preliminary calculation had 32…Rg8 33. Qh5 “with the dual threat of Qxh3 and Rxh6 mating” — but the rook on c7 really cannot jump to h6 like that.  Also I hadn’t even noticed the game defense.

33. Qxf6 Rxf6 34. g4 Late, but still good.  Not as good, though.

34…Raf8 35. Nf5 Rg6?! A better try is 35… h5! 36. Rxg7 (The optically “nice” 36. R1c2 is insufficient due to a fantastic resource:  36… Bxg4 37. f4 (37. Nxd6 Kxg7 38. Bxe5 Kg6 39. Bxf6 Kxf6 40. Ne4+ Kf5 41. Nd2 Ke5 42. Rc7 Rc8! is equal) 37…Rxf5 38. Rcc7 Rc8!! {Wow!} 39. Rh7+ Kg8 40. Rcg7+ Kf8 41. Rd7 Kg8 and draw!

36. f3?! Another miscue.  The players have no time. Correct is the difficult 36. R1c6!! Bxg4 37. Nxd6 Bf3 (37… Kg8 38. Rxa7 Rf4 39. Rcc7 Bf8 40. Nc4 Bh3 41. Ne3 Re4 42. Rc6 and wins) 38. Nf7+ Kh7 39. Nxe5 Rxc6 40. Nxc6 Rg8 41. Bxg7 Rxg7 42. Ne7 and wins.  This is the kind of line that needs a little time to see.

36… h5! Very confusing.

37. Nxd6? White has become totally confused.  He should play 37. gxh5! Rgf6 38. Rxg7! forced — (38. Nxg7??  Rxf3  wins for black: 39. Nf5 R3xf5 40. Rc8 Rxc8 41. Rxc8+ Kh7 42. Rc1 Kh6 and wins) 38…Rxf5  (if 38…Bxf5 39. Rxa7 and white should win) 39. Rcc7! R8f6 {Forced.  But now comes an amazing combination:

40. Rh7+ Kg8 41. Rcg7+ Kf8 42. h6 Rf7 A good tactics puzzle now.  White to play and win.

Note in passing 42… Rxh6 43. Rxh6 Rxf3 44. Rxh3 Rxh3 45. Rxa7 and white wins.

White to play and win. Position after 42...Rf7 (analysis)

43. Bxe5!! {A great shot.} dxe5 (43… Rxf3 44. Rxf7+ Rxf7 45. Rxf7+ Kxf7 46. h7 wins) 44. d6 Rxf3 (44… Rxg7 45. hxg7+ Kg8 (45… Kf7 46. d7) 46. d7 A quite unusual combination hanging the rook and having black’s pieces blocked from the promotion by interference! 46…Kxh7 47. d8=Q Kxg7 48. Qd7+ Kg6 49. Qxa7 Rxf3 50. Qxb6+ Kf5 51. Qa6 and wins) 45. Rh8 mate!)

37… hxg4? Black only had seconds left. 37… Rxd6 38. Rxg7 Kxg7 39. Bxe5+ Rdf6 (or 39… Rff6 40. gxh5 Kf7 41. Bxd6 Rxd6 42. Rc7+ and white might draw) 40. gxh5 Kf7 41. Rc7+ Ke8 42. Bxf6 Rxf6 43. Kf2 with chances to draw.  That would be embarrassing indeed but at least white is not totally lost.

38. Nf7+ Kg8 39. Nxe5 Rgf6

Position after 39...Rgf6

40. Rxg7+! Nasty.  At least I saw this one on the last move of the time control. White wins now.

40…Kxg7 41. Nd7 The black bishop “sight” to d7 was blocked by the pawn on g4.

41…gxf3 42. Nxf6 Kg6 43. Kf2 1-0

It was very strange how the two behind the scenes combinations that occurred in the analysis both involved the star move Bxe5!!.

Stay tuned, I will post Rounds 2, 4, 5, and 7.

Round 2

FM E. Yanayt – M. Ginsburg

To prepare for my half-point bye in round 3, I had this virtually unplayed game in Round 2.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Bb4+ The best winning attempt here is 3…c5.

4. Bd2 Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 d5 6. Nf3 Qe7 7. Bg2 O-O Somehow 7…Ne4 and then the Qe7-b4+  follow-up didn’t look very impressive.

8. O-O Rd8!

I have seen this line a lot (I was always white) in ICC blitz versus eastern-bloc GM’s.  It’s a very solid system.

9. Qc2 c5 10. cxd5 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Na6!? Seems good, with the idea to pop into b4.  The game is about even.

1/2 – 1/2

Round 3

During my bye-round, the following reversal of fortune occurred.

D. Naroditsky – GM S. Kidambi (2616)

Black may have been hexed in this game due to the fact I have never heard of him although he has a high rating.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6 Nxf6 7.Bc4 Bf5 8.O-O e6 9.c3 Bd6 10.Qe2 Qc7 11.h3 O-O 12.Nh4 c5 13.Nxf5 exf5 14.Bd3 g6 15.Bg5 Rfe8 16.Qd2 Ne4 17.Bxe4 fxe4 18.dxc5 Bxc5 19.Rad1 Re6 20.Be3 Rd6 21.Qe2 Bxe3 22.fxe3 Rad8 23.Rd4 Rxd4 24.cxd4 f5 25.Qd2 Rc8 26.Qb4 b6 27.Qb3 Kg7 28.Qe6 Rf8 29.Kh1 Rf6 30.Qe8 Rc6 31.d5 Rc2 32.Rd1 Qg3

This obvious move places white into an unbreakable zugzwang and it is hard to fathom that black did not win, much less lost.

33.Qe7 Kh6 34.Qf8 Kh5 35.Rg1 Rd2 36.Qf7 h6 37.b4

Black to play and avoid winning

Black is completely winning.  But, I am guessing he had not much time left.  Even so, what follows is a complete botchery.

37…Rxa2? Why? 37…a5 preserves the zugzwang situation.   The even simpler solution 37…Qxe3 was also completely winning.  White cannot make any threats.

38.d6 Rd2 39.d7 Qd6? Time-trouble? It was safe to play 39…Qxe3 and black should win.

40.Rf1? Maybe mutual time-trouble. 40. Qg7 was equal.  The text aims for a cheapo but should lose.

40…Qxd7?? OK probably time-trouble.  I was drinking and gambling at the Bellaggio and didn’t witness this debacle. 40…Kg5! eliminates all cheapoes and wins easily.

41.Rxf5+ Oops.  White wins.  Black must have felt sick, given he had iron-clad zugzwang a few moves ago.

41…Qxf5 42.g4+ How embarrassing.  Black totters on a few moves.

42…Kh4 43.gxf5 Kxh3 44.Qxg6 Rd1 45.Qg1 Rxg1 46.Kxg1 a5 47.bxa5 bxa5 48.f6 1-0

Round 4

M. Ginsburg – H. Liou  Dutch NIC SOS Special

1. d4 f5 2. Qd3 I saw this in a New in Chess “SOS” supplement; the game in question occurred in the “B” section of the German Bundesliga.

2…d6 As the NIC states, Leningrad players are reluctant to play the strongest move in the position, 2….d5.   Now, white gains enormous white square pressure with the game sequence.

3. g4 fxg4 4. h3 Nf6 5. hxg4 Bxg4 6. Bg5! Be6 This unhealthy retreat signals black already has problems.  White was threatening the crude Bxf6 and Qe4.

7. Nc3 c6 8. Bxf6 gxf6 I would prefer 8…exf6 to try to keep white’s plus to manageable proportions.

9. Rxh7 Rxh7 10. Qxh7 Qa5 11. Bh3 Bf7 12. O-O-O Na6 13. d5! This move cutoffs black’s queen from the kingside for the time being.

13…cxd5 14. Nf3 d4  15. Nxd4 Qh5 16. Qd3 Nb4 17. Qb5+ The smoke clears and white is left with a huge advantage due to light square control.  How many Dutch games have been lost due to black not being able to observe the squares he weakened on move 1?  I recommend readers get the tournament book San Antonio 1972 and read Petrosian’s comments to Petrosian-Larsen.

17…Qxb5 18. Ncxb5 Kd8 19. Ne6+ Bxe6 20. Bxe6 Black is now totally paralyzed.

20…a6 21. Nc3 Bh6+? Making matters worse, but it was very bad anyway.  The ill-fated bishop gets trapped shortly.

22. e3 Kc7 23. a3 Nc6 24. Nd5+ Kb8 25. Nb6 A complete rout. I would resign as black now.

25…Ra7 26. Rh1 Nd8 27. Bb3 Bg5 28. f4 Kc7 29. fxg5 fxg5 30. Rh8 e6 31. Nc4 d5 32. Rh7+ Kc6 33. Ne5+ Kd6 34. Nf7+ Nxf7 35. Rxf7 Ke5 36. Kd2 Ra8 37. Rg7 Kf6 38. Rxb7 g4 39. Ke2 Kg5 40. e4 Rd8 41. exd5 exd5 42. Ke3 Re8+ 43. Kd4 g3 44. Bxd5 Kf6 45. Rb3 1-0

Round 5

I could not overcome the solid Hungarian I. Somogyi!

I. Somogyi – M. Ginsburg  King’s Indian g3 line

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. Nf3 c6
7. O-O Bf5
As successfully played in Schroer-Benjamin, USCL 2009.  White in my game plays more strongly.

8. Nh4! Be6 9. d5! Bd7 10. e4 Na6 11. h3 cxd5 12. cxd5 Nc5 13. Be3 Qa5
14. Rb1 Na4!
Keeping the balance.

15. Nxa4 Bxa4 16. b3 Bb5 17. Re1 Qa3 18. Qd2 Rac8 19. Bd4 Nd7 20.
Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Nf3 Ne5!
Still equal.

22. Nxe5

Black survives the dangerous attempt 22. Nd4!? Ba6 23. Qg5!? Rce8! (23…Rc7 is all right is black is careful: 24. Nf5+ Kh8 25. Nxe7 f6 26. Qh6 Rf7? 27. Rbc1! wins nicely – I saw that during the game; but 26…Re8 holds) 26…24. Nf5+ Kh8 25. Nxe7 f6 26. Qh6 Rf7 27. f4 Rfxe7 28. fxe5 fxe5)

22… dxe5 23. Rbc1 f6 24. h4 Bd7 25. Kh2 Qd6 26. Rxc8 Rxc8 27. Rc1 e6? Careless.  Correct is 27… Rxc1! 28. Qxc1 e6 =

28. Rxc8 Bxc8 29. Qc3? 29. Bh3! sets a great trap.  If 29…Bd7? (correct is 29… b6! 30. Qd3 Qc5 31. Kg2 exd5 32. Bxc8 Qxc8 33. exd5 Kf7 34. h5 =) 30. Qa5! and black has big problems.  If 30… exd5? (30… Qb6 31. Qxb6 axb6 32. dxe6 Bc6 33. f3 Kf8 34. Kg1 Ke7 35. Kf2 is very good for white as black cannot round up the e6 pawn) 31. Qd8 suddenly wins!

29… Bd7 30. dxe6 Bxe6 31. Bh3 Bf7 32. Bf1 Be6 33. Bh3 1/2-1/2

Round 6

Interestingly, in othe Round 6 action, Friedel played what appeared to many to be a ludicrous variation of the 2 Knights – but it worked and his opponent, NM Zierk, blundered and lost.  I have posted elsewhere on this opening (2 Knights “Ulvestad”); it looks very bad for black and I think its days are numbered.

M. Ginsburg – FM J. Dean          Main line Tarrasch Defense

1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O c5 6. cxd5 exd5 7. d4 Nc6 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Bg5 cxd4 10. Nxd4 h6 11. Be3 Re8 12. Qb3!

GM Portisch Special

GM Lajos Portisch’s excellent treatment, I believe covered in one of Kasparov’s My Great Predecessors volumes.  When the Queen is chased by the knight, the knight winds up not having a happy home.  Similarly, if the black knight on f6 chases the B/e3, it also does not have a happy home after the bishop moves away.

12…Na5 13. Qc2 Nc4 14. Bf4 White looks better here.  The Black knight on c4 is very unstable and that is one of the my points of 12. Qb3.

14…Be6 15. Rad1 Qc8 Black has problems.  The most normal move, 15… Rc8 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Qg6 Kh8 18. b3! Nd6 19. Be5 leaves white with a simple plus.

16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. e4? A big lemon! It’s always right to kick the advanced knight with 17. b3! (obvious) 17… Nd6 18. Rc1 Rf8 19. Qd3 Qe8 20. Rfd1 Rc8 21. e4 Ndxe4 22. Nxe4 dxe4 23. Bxe4 and white is much better.

17… e5! This move completely escaped my attention.  White is still better, but not as much.
18. Bc1 d4 19. Nd5 Nd6 20. Qd3? Another significant inaccuracy.  20. Qb3!   Nc4 and only NOW 21. Qd3 leaves white with a plus.

20… Nxd5 21. exd5 Bf6! I totally bothced it. Black is fine.  The center pawns are mobile.  Black’s only problem is a severe lack of time.

22. Qg6? Practically speaking with black having less time, white should play 22. Rfe1 Qd7 23. Bd2 Rac8  but of course Black is all right.

22… Qf5! 23. Qxf5 Nxf5 24. Be4 Nd6 25. Bg6 Re7 26. Rfe1 e4?? Any reasonable queen rook move is equal.  Unfortunately, black was in severe time trouble already. This move loses a pawn and the game.

27. Bf4 Be5 27…Rd8 28. Bxd6 loses for black in the long run.  Although there are bishops of opposite colors, too much material remains.  It’s similar to Yermolinsky-Naroditsky North American Open 2009 except there white fell into a last-ditch stalemate trick and Naroditsky saved it!

28. Bxe5 Rxe5 29. Rxd4 Rd8 30. Bxe4 Nxe4 31. Rexe4 Black has no chances in the single rook ending.

31…Rxe4 32. Rxe4 Rxd5 33. Re7 Rb5 34. b3 a5 35. Kg2 a4 36. bxa4 Rb4 37. a5 Rb5 38. Re8+ Kh7 39. Ra8 Rb2 40. a6 Black resigned.


The move 40. a4! also wins: 40…Ra2 41. a6 b6 42. Rb8 Rxa4 43. Rxb6 and wins.

In the game, black can try a last-gasp 40… b5! move.  Suggested by Siddharth Ravichandran (rating=2489) after the game as drawing – and indeed this is a great try!

40...b5! - Suggested by kibitzer Ravichandran

There is only a study-like refutation: 41. a4!! – only after he suggested 40…b5 (which I did not see in the game) did I notice this move which is a nice interference theme, and white wins.

Position after 41. a4!! - nice interference theme. (analysis)

Also in Round 6, this amusing error-fest:

Zierk – Friedel   2 Knights, Refuted Silly Ulvestad Line

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 I would pay more attention to Karpov’s legendary logic here and try 3…Bc5.

4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 b5(?) Very illogical!  Good in the 1800s, maybe.

6.Bf1 h6 (might as well, 6…Nd4 leads to a bad game too)  7.Nf3?

I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but the fairly obvious 7. Nxf7! results in a big edge for white. This was shown in other examples recently.  At least black is not playing the refuted mainline with 6…Nd4.

7…Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qe6 9.Bxb5 Bb7 10.O-O O-O-O 11.Re1 Bc5 12.Qe2 Nd4 13.Nxd4 Bxd4 14.Nd1 Nd5 15.Bc4 Qg6 16.Bxd5 Bxd5 17.Ne3 Bxe3 18.fxe3 Qxc2 19.d4 Qe4 20.b3 Rhe8 21.Bb2 Re6 22.Qd2 Bb7 23.Rac1 Rdd6 24.Rf1 Rf6 25.Rfe1 Rc6 26.dxe5 Rxc1 27.Bxc1 Rg6 28.Re2 Rc6 29.e6 Rxe6 30.Qc2 Rc6 31.Qb2 Qd3 32.Rf2 Ba6 33.Bd2 Rc2 34.Qd4 Rxd2 0-1

Round 7

Lev Milman – M. Ginsburg  Sicilian Scheveningen

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Be2 Be7 7. Be3 O-O 8.
O-O Nc6 9. f4 Bd7
A rare sideline.

10. Qe1 Conventional thinking has 10. Nb3, avoiding exchanges, as white’s best bet.

10…Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bc6 12. Qg3 g6 13. Qe3 Qa5 Black is threatening  is all right.

14. e5 dxe5 15. fxe5 Nd5 16. Nxd5 Qxd5 17. Bf3 Qc4? 17… Qb5 is more accurate. 18. a4 Qb4 19. Bxc6 bxc6 20. b3 c5 21. Bc3 Qb7 and black has equal chances.

18. b3 Qa6 19. c4 Qa3 20. Kh1 Kg7 21. Rf2 21. Bxc6 bxc6 22. Qe4! places black in a passive situation.

21… h6 Here, best was 21… a5! with equal chances.

22. Bxc6 bxc6 23. Raf1 Rad8? With a draw offer.  But this move is a blunder.

24. g3? A blunder in return.   Surprisingly, white can take.  24. Bxa7! c5 25. Bb6 Rd7 and now the amazing resource 26. Rf3 Rb7 27. Qf2!! and wins.  The f7-point collapses.

24… Bg5 25. Qe4 h5 26. Bc3?! White can preserve something with 26. Rf3 Rd7 (26… Qxa2?? 27. Bc5! winning) 27. Bg1)

26… Qc5 27. b4 Qe3! Judging from white’s reaction, he might have missed this.

28. Qxe3 Bxe3 29. Rf3 Bd4 30. b5! With a draw offer.

When I made my 29th move, I thought black was much better because of the white weak pawns.  However, white’s 30th generates plenty of activity and it’s in fact equal!

For example, 30…Bxc3 (30… cxb5 31. cxb5 Rd5 32. Bb4!) 31. Rxc3 cxb5 (31… Rc8 32. a4) 32. cxb5 Rd5 33. a4 Rd4 34. Rf4! =.

1/2 – 1/2

Tournament Postscript – The Cheater’s Clock Gambit

For completeness, here is amusing cheating I heard about in the skittles room.  In a lower section, someone had 28 minutes left versus 28 seconds left in sudden death in a complicated position.  The person with 28 seconds left simply pressed the clock without making a move.  Rattled, the person with 28 minutes left upon returning to the board assumed the guy with 28 seconds left had made some kind of move and made a move in return.  The guy with 28 seconds left then called the TD and said “I get 2 more minutes on my clock because he made 2 moves in a row.”  In the absence of witnesses, the TD upheld this ludicrous “gambit”.  The guy with 28 seconds left got 2 more minutes on his clock and that was enough for him to win the game.  This kind of stuff can only happen in American Swisses.  Why is that?   Well, that’s not strictly true.  After all,  a many time US Champion did exactly the same thing in a US Championship round-robin invitational. But we won’t get into that.

The Fabulous 00s: The end of the 2009 USCL Season for the Arizona Scorpions

November 13, 2009

Scorpions Squished

San Francisco defeated the Scorpions comprehensively last Wednesday 3.5 – 0.5.

Some observations about the 2009 USCL season:

A) The Scorpions are a much improved squad with the addition of GM Alejandro Ramirez. In addition, we had more communication pre-match although sometimes players would switch away from openings they had discussed with other team members at the last minute, with highly variable results.

B) We still suffer from logistical problems since our Tucson site and our Mesa (greater Phoenix) site are quite far apart.  This leads to roster problems, scheduling problems, etc.   Even so, the Abstrax site in Mesa is phenomenal.   The Tucson site is much improved too since we added a separate commentary room to herd the noisy onlookers.  Although there still is texting and giggling sometimes in the playing room.  Levon could not hear Wolff’s draw offer, although his sound was on, due to that sort of “ambient noise” !

C) I hated being an Alternate and sitting by passively watching the playoff.  Both Aldama and I had played two games, but he somehow was not an alternate although the playoff was in Tucson and he could not travel.  Ugh!!!  So there I am in the commentary room and it was Veterans Day and we had only 1 or 2 spectators.  All I could do was read HA81 (a better name is PA for Passive Aggressive) trashing Krasik on various blog sites  and vice versa (Karmic that their teams lost as well as our battlin’ Scorps – but I do feel sorry for LarryC, he played really creatively vs. Kach).

D) One of our highest scoring members, David Adleberg, was away at the World Youth and missed the playoff!  Unlucky!

E) Many of our players suffered from playoff nerves, understandably so, and it showed in shaky playoff openings.

F) Switching away from nerves into the simply bizarre, although Naroditsky’s bizarre ….Ng4?!?! foray in the Poisoned Pawn opening actually “worked” in some sense, I am at a loss of words to describe it!

The game (Adamson-Naroditsky Board 3) went:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6!?

8. Nb3 Qe3+ 9. Qe2 Ng4 ?!?! (or alternatively !?!? it’s truly shocking – an OTB inspiration?  It’s illogical in its face, but has value in the USCL time control!)


Wow! So much for "don't move same piece twice"!

Now Robby found 10. Nd1!. The game went on 10…Qxe2 11. Bxe2 Nf6 and here probably best for white is 12. Bxf6 gxf6 13. Ne3! +=. That horse always is thinking about hopping to c4. The computer reveals 13…Nc6 14. Kf2! to meet 14…b5 with 15. a4! +=.   The position is difficult for play, for example 14. O-O-O?! would take away this resource for white and forfeit much, if not all, of his edge.

Further note 11/16/09: based on feedback from IM John Donaldson, 12. Bxf6 gxf 13. Ne3 Nd7 idea b6, Bb7 might be all right for black.  John and I both studied Bg5 Najdorfs in the early to mid 70s. At least I was able to surprise Jakovenko recently in an ICC blitz game in a different Bg5 Najdorf.  John says the most “name” player to previously try 9…Ng4 was Litinskaya (2375), former Women’s Candidate.

Another way to play for white is 12. Nf2!? and castles short, keeping the bishop pair.  As always, white wants to avoid castling long in order to always meet b7-b5 with a2-a4. After 12. Nf2 white has a small edge.

In the game white elected to keep the bishop pair and appeared to be a bit better as well, but black developed surprising counter-chances later.

G) I have some funny pre-match video of the team yipping and yapping which I will post within 2 days.  (along with team amanuensis Ben Marmont and the ever-stylish Amanda Mateer).

H) Our squad, along with Amanda and Ben, did make it for one last Applebees at 11:30 pm. They closed at midnight. The waitress addressed Amanda by saying “Whaddya want, Lady?”  to great merriment.  I called Ben a “Frosty Haired Choad” stunning the waitress because I had just rented “I Love You, Man”.   Danny Rensch queried the waitress “ISN’T IT TRUE EVERYTHING IN APPLEBEES IS MICROWAVED I KNOW IT IS MY COUSIN WORKED THERE AND IT IS”?    The waitress was assured she was getting a big tip.

Rules Reform Needed in USCL Playoffs

I think teams getting draw odds in the USCL playoffs are too great an odds.  So do others, judging from blog posts I’ve seen around the league.  I understand the desire to give higher seeds an edge, but this edge is too high.  It’s an easy rule to reform and still bestow the desired small edge to the higher seed.

Here are some proposals.

A) A single Armageddon game between Board 1 (or Board 2 at the higher seed’s choosing) with the proviso the opponents must be within 150 points of one another.  It will last only 12 minutes maximum and add thrills, and yes, more chess to the playoff!  An Armageddon game, let me remind the readers is:   Black gives white  7 min. to 5 min. time odds in a blitz game, but white gives black draw odds.  A very tense situation.

The higher seed can choose colors in the game – I put in that rating differential proviso to avoid the absurd scenario of the higher seed fielding a 2900 vs a 2400 or some such.

B) Some other proposal (I’ll leave it open to readers’ imagination).

USCL Finals Coverage – Ben ‘n Me

This just in – ICC Chess.FM will cover the USCL finals.  GM Ben Finegold and I  will do the honors.  So visit or logon to ICC in December (but not too late, figure out when the finals actually are :)) and watch the final matchup!

Dan Scoones Enlightens the Canadians

Re: Best Chess Blog/Site

I would add the blogs conducted by Michael Goeller and Mark Ginsburg: interesting, and there are substantial archives.

For Happy News Click Me

Hot Danish chess chick Carina Jorgensen.