Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin’

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: USCL Week 3 OOTW

September 18, 2009

2009 USCL Opening of the Week – Round 3

IM Jonathan Schroer – GM Joel Benjamin King’s Indian Defense

Two stalwart denizens of the 1980’s Manhattan Chess Club (located at the world-famous Carnegie Hall) go at it in 2009-style online combat.

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  g6  3.Nf3  Bg7  4.g3  0-0  5.Bg2  d6  6.0-0  c6  7.Nc3  Bf5!?

Not Incredibly Strong but Not Stupid

Not Incredibly Strong but Not Stupid

There’s something positionally appealing about setting up a d6,c6 pawn chain, getting this bishop out, and preparing a later d5.  In a related setup, black can try Nc6 (instead of c6) and then B to g4.  Then his idea is hit in the center with e7-e5 after the N on f3 is diverted or traded.

For example, Ron Henley – MG Lone Pine 1980 went

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d6 6. c4 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bg4!? Unusual but interesting.  I can recommend this for further research to KID explorers out there.

8. Ne1 Qc8 9. b3 e5 10. d5 Ne7?

Here I go wrong and go ‘passive’.  The bubbly 10… Nd4! is correct with level chances. For example, 11. f3 Bh3 12. e3 Bxg2 13. Kxg2 Nf5 14. Nc2 c5! and black is fine.

11. f3 Bh3 12. e4 Bxg2 13. Kxg2. White has a definite pull now and I was lucky to draw.

Let’s return to the diagram position.  What should white do?  This is the key theoretical moment.

8.b3?! White is giving too much respect to black’s offbeat idea.  Our first guess based on prior evidence is that 8. Ne1! is correct. It accomplishes several aims.  Mostly, it aims to establish a white square pawn chain and induce black to trade B/f5 for B/g2. Secondly, it prevents Nf6-e4 which is strong in the game!

Let’s look at 8. Ne1! more closely.  We only give it an exclam here due to its success statistically in ChessBase prior games. As we shall see, this may be misguided.

After the possible followup 8…Qc8!? 9. e4 Bh3 10. f3 Bxg2 11. Kxg2 we reach another critical moment.  In practice, white has been scoring very highly here with his space advantage.  However, a single database game stands out for an interesting black response:

11. … c5! An amazing two-step with the black c-pawn.  It makes sense!  Rather than wait passively for a white build-up, black takes action to clarify the structure.  On the other hand, WEAK is 11…e5? 12. dxe5 dxe5 13. Be3! with a pleasant exchange-KID style safe edge for white, who has gotten rid of his problem child light squared bishop!  (Don’t remind Bruci Lopez about Exchange KIDs after he lost to Jesse Kraai in Weak 3 action, apparently an Altounian “special” delayed exchange variation because white cannot lose.  And who, after all, wouldn’t mind a KID where white cannot lose!).

Let’s see this ingenious 11…c5!.


Position after 11…c5!

12. dxc5 Qxc5 and black is OK; or

12. d5 Nbd7 (in Amann-Martinovic, Austria 1998, the weaker 12…Na6 was played but black still drew) 13. Nc2 a6 and black has an acceptable Benoni with level chances.  12…Nh5 is also playable.

Well, let’s see, we might have to re-think and go back.  Maybe 8. Ne1 is not so fearsome!  What else?  8. Nh4 has been tried by such luminaries as Karpov and Portisch but that’s not dangerous; the WN is offside there.  8. Qb3!? is another try which has some logic, after all black’s Bf5 unguarded b7.  After 8. Qb3!? Qb6 9. Re1!? (Wojo used to try this)

A Wojo Special

A Wojo Special

White emerges with a small edge after the optically scary 9…Qxb3(?!) 10. axb3 Bc2 11. b4 Na6 12. b5 Nb4 13. e4!.  Wojo was a big openings expert so it makes sense to focus further research on his idea.  Even so, black doesn’t have to take, and can play e.g. 9…Na6.  His position looks fine.

Conclusion:  there’s no clear path for a white advantage in this KID sideline!

Returning to the game, recall that Schroer has reacted cautiously and rather passively with 8. b3.  This permits…

8… Ne4! Black is completely OK already; an opening success. In subsequent play Schroer vacillated between “solid” and “aggressive” with predictable results.

9.Bb2  Nxc3  10.Bxc3  Be4  11.Qd2  e6  12.Qe3  d5  13.Bh3  Bxf3  14.Qxf3  f5  15.Qd3  Nd7  16.f3  a5  17.Kh1  Qg5  18.Bg2  Qh5  19.Qe3  Rfe8  20.Qd3  Nf6  21.e4  dxe4  22.fxe4  Rad8  23.Rad1  c5  24.Bf3  fxe4  25.Bxe4  Ng4  26.Qe2  Rf8  27.Bf3  Rxf3  28.Rxf3  Nxh2  29.Kg2?

This has nothing to do with the opening, but the inhuman machine finds a way for white to get a half point here. 29. Qxe6+! Kh8 30. Rf7!! Qxd1+ 31. Kxh2 cxd4 (31…Qc2+ 33. Kh3 Qxc3 34. Rxg7! and draws) 32. Bxa5 Qh5+ 33. Kg1 Qxa5 34. Qe7 Rg8 35. Rxg7! with a draw!  What a line!

29…Qxf3+  30.Qxf3  Nxf3  31.Kxf3  b6  32.Ke4  cxd4  33.Rd3  e5  34.c5  bxc5  35.Bxa5  Ra8  36.Bb6  Rxa2  37.Bxc5  Re2+  38.Kf3  Re1  39.Kf2  Rc1  40.b4  e4  41.Ra3  e3+  42.Ke2  Rc2+  43.Ke1  Be5  44.Ra8+  Kf7  45.Rf8+  Ke6  46.Re8+  Kd5  White resigns 0-1

The Fabulous 00s: Leningrad Dutch Players are Irrational

May 10, 2009

Leningrad Players: What’s with them?

Maybe they are just masochistic.  They get such bad positions in the opening!  Here is GM Onischuk (2736 USCF!) creating for himself a dreadful position right out of the gate then somehow winning a miniature.  Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Hughes, Tylor 2293 – Onischuk, Alexander 2736
US Championship, Round 2  Leningrad Dutch, Bad Subvariation [E81]

Young Tyler had just defeated Boris Gulko in a sharp struggle in Round 1.  Gulko did not pay attention to the axiom “trade queens against a junior” and fell prey to tactics. He is going for a second upset in a row.  With black’s assistance, he becomes well-positioned immediately to get it!

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d6 4. Nh3! g6 5. c3! An excellent sequence of moves from young Hughes. Qd1-b3 becomes intensely annoying.  Antoneta Stefanova crushed Mikhail Gurevich in an analogous setup, Gibraltar 2008.

5… e5?! This move admits a bad game  However, the more natural 5… Bg7 6. O-O c6  (to ward off Qb3) 7. Nd2 O-O 8. Qb3+ d5 (what else?) 9. Nf4 is a simple edge for white. Black outrates white by more than 400 points. But at this stage, if we had to guess blind, we would assign the higher-rated player the white pieces.

Position after 5....e5?! - A Sick Joke?

Position after 5....e5?! - A Sick Joke?

6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Qxd8+ White doesn’t even need this move (which 99.9% of scholastic players would play).  He can play the strong 7. Qb3!  (the primary idea of the setup) 7…e4 (7… c6 8. Ng5 Qe7 9. O-O h6 10. Nf3 Be6 11. c4 Bc8 12. Rd1 Nbd7 13. Nc3 Bg7 14. Nh4! is great for white; a motif well worth remembering to hit the weakened kingside pawns) 8. O-O Bg7 9. Rd1 Qe7 10. Na3 with a big edge.  It’s just an embarrassment of riches for young Hughes.   The text doesn’t ruin anything; see the note to white’s 9th.

7… Kxd8 8. Nd2 Bd6 9. e4?! Again, white doesn’t need this.  He maintains a big edge with the simple 9. Nc4! Ke7– see next diagram.

White could not ask for more

White could not ask for more

Position after 9…Ke7 (analysis)

10. Nxd6 (or the equivalent 10. Bh6 Rd8 11. O-O-O) 10… cxd6 11. Bh6 Rd8 12. O-O-O Nc6 13. Rd2 Be6 14. Kb1 Ng4 15. Bg5+ Nf6 16. Rhd1 and black is suffering.  White has the initiative and the bishop pair, what more could a player want from an opening?  Back to the drawing board for Leningrad players.

9… Nc6 10. exf5 gxf5 11. Nc4 Ke7 12. Bxc6?! White could have done without this.

12…bxc6 13. f4 e4 14. Be3 Indicated was 14. Ne5 c5 15. b3 Bb7 but now black has no problems.

14… c5 15. Nxd6? Positional butchery, fixing black’s pawns.   White’s moves didn’t fit together. The rest of the game is no fun at all for white.

15…cxd6 16. c4 h5 17. O-O-O? The last straw, castling into a winning attack for black.  White might as well put his knight somewhere more useful with 17. Ng5 and try to tough it out with a significant disadvantage. However, black would likely win with no problems given white’s planless shuffling.

17… Ng4 17… Be6 also wins quite easily.  Onischuk must have been totally shocked at this incredibly rapid reversal of fortunes.  Might he try this setup again?  I would like to see that.
18. Bd2 Be6 19. Bc3 Rhb8 20. b3 a5 21. Rd2 a4 22. Rb2 axb3  23. Rxb3 Bxc4 24. Rxb8 Rxb8 25. a4 d5 0-1

It seems unjust that white should lose so quickly from such a great move order in the opening. On the other hand, if we believe in chess underlying logic, we can just say that white’s play was completely disjointed after receiving such a great edge on move 6.

The Next Time

The next time this variation appears on the board, I want someone to repeat Hughes’ crafty setup and get things done!

In Other Round 2 News

In the what-the-hell-is-this category, we have Sevillano-Lawton.  Play this game over for some good ol-timey wincing including a “what?” result. And to what can we attribute Shabalov’s 2nd consecutive loss?  Perhaps someone is hexing him. Old Fox Joel Benjamin somehow benefited from a Krush Kollapse (TM) and Gulko also went down to an improbable second defeat. Hess’s win over Becerra was enjoyable but Christiansen seems off-form so far.  Someone from the Old Guard needs to step up.

In Unrelated News

It’s over 100 degrees in Tucson, AZ currently in the daytimes.  I found this package outside.

A Mysterious Box

A Mysterious Box

The Fabulous 00s: Kamsky Loses like he Wins

February 18, 2009

The Kamsky Win

Consider this game from the US Championship finals, 1991.

[Event “ch, USA Finals Match 1991”]
[Result “0-1”]
[White “Joel Benjamin”]
[Black “Gata Kamsky”]
[ECO “C69”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O Qd6?! Not a trustworthy line although it was popular in the dawn of modern theory in the 80’s. White meets it effortlessly.

6.d3 Ne7 7.Be3! Ng6 8.Nbd2 c5 9.Nc4 Black has a very poor game already.

9…Qe6 10.Ng5 The computer likes 10. h4 also.

10…Qf6 11.Qh5 Bd6? 11…h6 was required.

12.f4! Black is toast.

Les noirs sont perdus

Les noirs sont perdus

Black toddles on to what should have been an early grave…

12…exf4 13.e5 Nxe5 14.Bxf4 White is completely winning.  So simple!

14…Nxc4 15.Bxd6 Black is also not long for this world after 15. Rae1+ Be7 16. dxc4.  The text should also win trivially.

15…Qd4+ 16.Kh1 Nxd6 17.Rxf7?? Oh no! The brutal 17. Rae1+ Kd7 18. Nf3! with the idea of Ne5+ crushes black.  This backs up the psychological finding that the most common blunders overlook retreating moves.  In this case, reculez pour mieux avancez! (to e5).  But to make the blunder more perplexing, there are several reasons why it’s no good.

17… Qg4! Cold shower. The computer also shows that the cold-blooded and scary-looking  17…Nxf7! repels white after 18. Nxf7  O-O! or 18.  Re1+ Kd7! 19. Nxf7 Re8! and white has no good discovery after 20. Rxe8 Kxe8.  Or, 20. Qh3+ Kc6 finito.  Finally, 18. Qxf7+ Kd8 19. Re1 Bd7 and black consolidates and wins. 

18.Re1+ Kd8 19.Qxg4 Bxg4 20.Rxg7 h6 21.Nh7 Bd7 22.Nf6 Bc6 23.Kg1 Kc8 24.Ree7 Kb8 25.Rxc7 Ne8 26.Nxe8 Rxe8 27.Kf2 Re6 28.Rce7 Rf6+ 29.Kg3 Ka7 30.Ref7 Rxf7 0-1

Conclusion:  Gata played black, didn’t know the opening, staggered into a lost game immediately, and then somehow was forced to win by his opponent who was, it is true, suffering from a virulent case of Rustam-itis.

The Kamsky Loss

Now consider game 2 from the 2009 Topalov-Kamsky match. This time it is Gata with the ‘unlucky’ white pieces in a Ruy.  Once again black’s treatment does not impress.

[Event “Topalov-Kamsky Match”]
[Date “2009.02.18”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Gata Kamsky”]
[Black “Veselin Topalov”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “C65”]
[WhiteElo “2725”]
[BlackElo “2796”]
[EventDate “2009.02.18”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Bc5? 5. Nxe5! This line is just bad for black.  What kind of Bulgarian preparation is this?  We won’t be seeing this line again in the match, since Gata will have read my notes.

5…Nxe4 6. Qe2 Nxe5 7. d4 Black is not having a whole lot of fun after the simple 7. Qxe4 Qe7 8. Nc3.  For example, 8…c6 9. d4!.  There is also the nice pendulum variation 8. Nc3 Nc6 9. Re1 Qxe4 10. Nxe4 Be7 and now the paradoxical and hard to spot 11. Nc3!! which is very bothersome. I’m surprised white did not go for that, as Russians say “the game can only have two possible results” – white win or white draw.

7…Qe7 8. dxc5 Nxc5

19th Century Dismal

19th Century Dismal

Black’s pieces are poorly placed and he has lost the bishop pair.   He has sold his soul for one lousy pawn which white can win back. We’re in 19th Century Dismal.

9. Nc3? The obvious first tendency for a novice player is 9. Bf4! giving a nice edge.  Did white somehow out-think himself here?  Maybe he just has a case of the Bulgarian Willies (TM). For example, 9…f6 (ugly! – but other moves are even worse, hanging the c7 pawn) 10. Re1! c6 11. Bxe5 and white is better.  Or, 10. Re1 O-O 11. Bxe5 fxe5 12. Bc4+! (a nice zwischenzug) 12…Kh8 13. Qxe5 and white has an obvious edge powering through to the 7th rank.  Another crummy variation for black is 12. Bc4+! Ne6 13.  Qxe5 Qh4 14. Qe2.

Why didn’t he do this?  Since the Topalov team is also reading this as I see from my access logs, expect some “fine-tuning” in the openings as the match goes on.

9…Ng6? This is not good.  9…c6 is correct. The psychedelic follow-up 10. b4 a6!! with level chances is quite droll.  Topa didn’t eat his Wheaties on this day.

10. Qh5? Why lurch over there?  Suddenly in aggression mode? The exceedingly simple 10. Be3 gives a nice edge.  Next time order an espresso around move 5!

10…c6 11. Bg5 f6 12. Rae1 Ne6 13. Bd3 O-O It is totally unclear what white was thinking but his “tempo gains” have come to nought and black is fine.

14. Bd2 d5 15. f4 Qc5+ 16. Kh1? The elementary 16. Be3 kept the balance.

16…d4 17. Bf5?? What the heck?  A tactical blackout reminiscent of low-quality 19th century matches.  17. Qxc5 was necessary with only a small edge.

17…Rf7?? Oh no!  Black misses the simple 17…Nexf4! and wins!   Was there something in the air or water?

18. Ne4 Qd5 19. Bxg6? 19. Ng3!

19…hxg6 20. Qxd5 cxd5 21. Nd6 Rc7! Was this totally overlooked by white?  Maybe.

22. c4 It’s just horrible for white after 22. Nxc8 Raxc8 23. Rxe6 Rxc2 24. Bb4 Rxb2 25. a3 d3 26. Ree1 Rcc2! and white is paralyzed.  The text is also miserable.

22…dxc3 23. Bxc3 d4 And black is just winning.  A truly bad game.

24. Bb4 Bd7 25. Rf2 a5 26. Ba3 b5 27. b3 b4 28. Bb2 Ra6 29. Ne4 Rac6 30. Kg1 Rc2 31. g3 d3 32. Rd1 f5 0-1

Do you see the parallels?   We have two Ruys in which utter indifference was displayed to good moves in the opening.

In game 1 of our selection, Gata played the part of the Village Oaf in the opening and was forced to win.  In game 2, Veselin played a dismal variation (were his helpers the oafs?) that might draw and might lose and Gata, through a “tactical firestorm”, forced Veselin to win.

In Other Chess News

The grass-roots movement to ban Hanken from writing about chess games in Chess Life is gaining momentum.

And In Other News – ChessBase Misses the Most Key Guy

ChessBase published what it considers the biggest (monetary) winners and losers in chess in the past year. It’s hard to understand why they would overlook Steve Feinberg, a chess master who has lost billions by an ill-timed acquisition by his private equity firm, Cerberus LLP, of Chrysler.  Apparently knowing nothing of cars or recent history, he appointed Robert Nardelli (who had spectacularly failed at running Home Depot but awarded himself a gigantic “golden parachute” cash bonus for being fired) and also knows nothing of car companies.  Guess what, Chrylser is going down the toilet and so is billions of U.S. taxpayer money in the form of (insane) government loans.  And the story is never-ending – the government might flush billions more down this Caissic toilet.  Feinberg’s losses dwarf the paltry $1.8 Billion loss of Boaz Weinstein – one of many risk-taking chess trader cowboys who has gone off the rails. Bankers Trust didn’t do well with the New In Chess-advertized “Chess players must be good at trading” thesis in the early 90’s.

Search Engine Terms

Readers used these terms to find my site. Note the multiple “Anne V” entries.

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Facebook Suggestion Oddities

Sometimes Facebook recommends some pretty odd ‘friend’ possibilities. Recently I was amused to see a) a notorious tournament chess cheater and b) a psychotic (the best kind) female in my list.