Posts Tagged ‘Danny Rensch’

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 6 SF vs Arizona

September 30, 2008


The Alarm Causes the Scorpions to Scatter in Panic

D. Pruess – M. Ginsburg  USCL Week 6    Khachiyan Attack

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bg5 As played against me by GM Khachiyan in infinite ICC blitz games.

4…c6!? I like this unusual attempt to counterattack with Qa5 and a later Bb4 rather than the usual 3…Nbd7.   It often leads to crazy positions. 3…Bf5 is another main line.

4. Qd2 New England senior master Bill Kelleher once was quite unsuccessful versus me with 4. Bxf6 gxf6 5. e3?! e5 and black had the bishop pair and a huge center.

4…Qa5 5. f3 e6 6. e4 Bb4 7. Nge2 dxe4 7…Nbd7? 8. e5 Ng8 9. a3 is not good for black, e.g. 9…Nb6 10. Ra2! and white is clearly better.  The text is correct but black immediately goes wrong with his next move.

8. Bxf6

The first important juncture.

Position after 8. Bxf6

8…e3?! Black does not pass the first test.  A symptom of a fuzzy brain?  Correct and not incredibly difficult to find is the fearless 8… exf3! 9. Bxg7 Rg8 10. gxf3 Rxg7 11. O-O-O Nd7 12. Bh3 (12 .a3 Bd6) 12…Nb6 13. Qd3 Nd5 14. Nxd5 (or 14. Kb1 Bd7 15. Ne4 f5! and black is similarly fine) 14…cxd5 and black has a quite playable middlegame.   I was only considering 8…e3 and 8….gxf6 and 8…exf3 was not on my radar.  So at least 8…exf3! validates black’s unusual treatment of this variation.  Lastly, 8…exf3! 9. gxf3 gxf6 10. O-O-O Nd7 is fine for black.  If 11. a3 Bd6 12. Qd3 f5! (always this move to gain central control) black is even starting to get a small edge.

9. Qxe3 gxf6 10.O-O-O Nd7 11. d5! The right idea to gain perspective for the knights.  At this point a shrieking alarm went off in the Scorpions playing site (a computer center).  And we were all ‘on the move’!  A spectator who had gone off ostensibly to the bathroom had stumbled into a forbidden region!   Nobody could seem to be able to turn the noise off.  We frantically typed tells to the Commish but no response (in retrospect, it might have been an exclam move here to pull the network cable out of the computer and storm out of the room posthaste). After several (what seemed like eternity) minutes of ear-piercing security alarm, I decided to move, not knowing how long the noise would last.  Mistake!  At this critical juncture, I should have waited.  It’s obviously the key moment and things are not so simple.  The right move, for example, is one I wouldn’t even consider without serious time spent.

Position after 11. d5!

11…Bc5? Needless to say, after this dreadful lemon, the alarm stopped.  But black is on his way to ruining his structure; this is irreparable.

The other move I was analyzing in alarm-mode was the over-ambitious 11… Ne5? 12. d6! Nc4 13. Qf4! with a white edge.  The right move, a nice resource and also quite necessary, is 11… Qc5! 12. Rd4 (the trade of queens 12. Qxc5 Bxc5 13. dxc6 Be3+ 14. Kb1 bxc6 15. Ne4 Ke7 16. Rd3 Bb6 offers pretty much nothing) 12… e5 13. dxc6 bxc6 14. Na4 Qe7 15. Rh4 (15. Rd1 Nb6 is equal) 15…f5 16. g3 f4 and the game is double-edged. This move did not enter my ‘mental sphere’ at all.

12. Nd4 e5 13. Qe1! Qb6? Another terrible move.  Black has to get rid of the knight — 13…Bxd4 14. Rxd4 Nb6 15. dxc6 bxc6 16. Rd6 but it’s no fun either.  No position with the king open can stand so many bad moves.

14. Nf5 Black is totally lost.

14…Bf2 14… Qb4 15. Kb1 Nb6 16.a3 Qf4 17. Ng7+ Kf8 18. Nh5 Qh6 19. g4 and white should win.

15. Qe2 Now I notice Nd6+ and Nc4 is threatened.  Back I go.  Not one of my better games.  But did I mention the alarm had been turned off?  So I can resign in beautiful silence.

15…Bc5 16. f4 Rg8 17. Qh5 Nf8 18.Bc4 Qb4 19. Ne4 Bxf5 20. Qxf5 Rxg2 21. Nxf6+ Kd8 22. dxc6+ Bd4 23. c7+ 1-0

Board 3 Unpleasantness

Somehow our Scorpions guy misses a winning move only to play the same move a few turns later when it’s a blunder!

Rensch – Shankland Sicilian Rauzer

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 0-0 10.f4 Qa5 11.Kb1 (“!” for safety) The bizarre 11. Bb5 fizzled in Ivanchuk-Kramnik Linares 1997 after 11…Rd8 12. e5 dxe5 13. Qxe5 h6 14. Bh4 Ng4!.   Historically, 11. Bc4!? has scored the best as in the oldie but the goodie white win Kavalek-Benko, Netanya 1969 which saw the standard follow-up 11…Bd7 12. e5 dxe5 13. fxe5 Bc6. After 14. Bd2 Nd7 15. Nd5 Qd8 16. Nxe7+ Qxe7 we reach a highly debated tabiya and at present it’s thought black is OK.  The text is “safety first.”

11…Rd8 12.Qd2 h6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nd5 A completely unimpressive treatment — but in a team situation to make a draw isn’t so horrible.

14…Qxd2 15.Nxf6+ gxf6 16.Rxd2 b6??  ?  (Sam Shankland objected to the multiple question marks and he’s right, b6? is just weak not a hideous blunder).  16…Kf8 is necessary planning Ke7 with equality.  This has been played in at least 8 games previously.  White has zero.  16…b6 is a classic TL (theoretical lemon).  White’s opening choice should have been harmless… but now it’s not!

Position after 16…b6??  White’s golden moment.

17.Be2?? OH NO.  Another cringe-worthy entry in the 2008 Scorpions trials and tribulations. 17. e5! would have won very easily.  17…fxe5 18. fxe5 d5 is horrible (losing) for black. Black’s bishop is dead and white’s bishop and 2 rooks overrun the kingside occupying holes and using the holes and split pawns to win material. For example, the simple and methodical 19. Be2! Bb7 (19…d4 20. Bf3 and Rhd1 wins) 20. Rd4! (blockading) 20…Rd7 21. Rf1! with the crushing idea of Rf6 and black will not survive.  Notice how all white’s pieces work perfectly whereas black is ‘still in the felt box’ on the queenside. Another defense, 19. Be2! Kh8, is dealt with similarly: 20. Rf1 Rg8 21. Bd3 Rg7 22. Rf6! and white will be up a clear pawn.

The “gambit” 17…Bb7 18. exd6 won’t save it either; white rushes the c- and b-pawns   Finally, the panic break-out with 17…d5 18. Be2! f6? fails to 20. exf6 e5 21. Rf1 Kf8 22. Bf3 Be6 23. Rfd1! winning.

Parenthetical note:  Sam Shankland in Elizabeth Vicary’s blog indicated he would play this way 17…Bb7 18. exd6 Rac8 but after 19. Bb5 it’s bad for black.  Black can fight on but white is clearly better. 

Danny thought for 5 minutes on the lemon 17. Be2?? and never really looked at e5!

This position is really instructive.  Usually in an ending an isolated pawn on e5 is suicide for white.  Here, though, it generates a winning  bind and cuts the board in two.  Black doesn’t have any pieces (such as a knight) to attack the P/e5.  Black’s rook on d8 would much rather be on f8 and the other pieces aren’t participating, so white easily focuses on the kingside to win material.  The only defender is black’s lone king which is not enough.  This logical “exception” to normal Sicilian endings may explain why Danny didn’t really analyze 17. e5!

17…Bb7 18.Bf3 Kf8 19.Rhd1 Ke7 Now White goes for… you guessed it….

20.e5?? Anything else (20. c4).  White cannot lose on any non-commital move.

20…Bxf3 21.exd6+ Rxd6! White overlooked this!

22 Rxd6 Bxd1 23.Rxd1 e5 And white goes on to lose this inferior ending.

24.fxe5 fxe5 25.c4 Ke6 26.Kc2 f5 27.b4 Rc8 28.Kc3 f4 29.a4 h5 30.a5 h4 31.axb6 axb6 32.Ra1 h3 33.gxh3 Kf5 34.Ra7 Rh8 35.Rf7+ Ke4 36.b5 f3 37.Rf6 Rxh3 38.Kb4 Ke3 39.c5 bxc5+ 40.Kxc5 Rxh2 41.b6 Rb2 42.Re6 e4 43.Kd5 Rd2+ 44.Kc6 f2 45.Rf6 Rb2 46.b7 Ke2 47.Kc7 f1Q White resigns 0-1 Depressing.

In the interests of decency, I won’t even mention what happened in the draws on boards 1 and 4.

And For Something Different

I have made a new friend on the Internet, Simpson Cole, apparently a very wealthy man.  I’m trying to steer him into donating millions of dollars (or is it Pounds?) into chess.  I offer you this e-mail exchange which is still active and ongoing.  I encourage others to do the same, maybe we can “promulgate” a chess windfall. In the transcript, my responses to the clearly very wealthy man are in blue. Note the strategic “moves” and “counter-moves” of the two parties as they negotiate complex exchange rate issues and work toward the multi-million dollar cash transfer.  Viva Caissa!

Transcript with the Entrepreneur

From:  “Rudolph”  October 3, 2008

To: Simpson Cole


Hold the consignment in transit while the Caissic intermediaries calculate the difference.  The occupation data you requested is Official Interspector.

Inform the 3rd parties of the same.


From:  Simpson Cole       October 2, 2008

Attention: Mark Ginsburg,
Good day,I got your mail.
Before i can inform the director of the security frim to release the consignment of funds to you, i will have to fill up the release form, to enable them contact you and infrom you when you can receive the total sum for Investment in your country.
I will like you to send the belwo informations,
(1) Your full name
(2) Your address
(3) Tel / Cell Number
(4) Occupation
I will have to calculate how much is 7,500,000.00 pounds to dollars,
Get back to me with details,
Simpson Cole.

— On Thu, 10/2/08, Mark Ginsburg <> wrote:

From: Mark Ginsburg
Subject: Re: URGENT Attention: Mark Ginsburg

From: mark ginsburg Have the Dublin men forward the necessary to the States Chess Authority for procurement.  But we need to calculate in Pounds Sterling. Advise the exchequer of the same.

Simpson Cole wrote:

Attention: Mark Ginsburg

Good day to you, I got your mail.

I will like you to send to me the below infromations to enable me prepare all documents in your name and favour as the only receiver of the total sum 7,500,000.00 pounds with the Security firm in Dublin for onward investment in your country.

(1) Your full name
(2) Your address
(3) Tel / Cell Number
(4) Occupation

As soon as i receive the above infromations i will forward to the security Firm for onward arrangment to release the total sum to your for investment in your country.

Please my dear i hasve put all my trust in you for a life term investment in your country with your help, Please do not fail me for the sake of my family.

Await your urgent reply soon,


Simpson Cole.

— On *Mon, 9/29/08, mark ginsburg * wrote:

From: mark ginsburg
Subject: Re: Caissic Investment Fund
Date: Monday, September 29, 2008, 6:44 PM

Proceed with the trust  transfer forthwith to the Exchequery of the 64 Square battalion. The conversion to Pounds Sterling must be promulgated via the necessary and so forth.

…  Mark Ginsburg
…  From mobile

—–Original Message—–

From:  Simpson Cole <>
Subj:  Attention: Mark Ginsburg
Date:  Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:24 pm
Size:  2K
To:  mark ginsburg

Attention: Mark Ginsburg

Good day to you, Thanks for your mail.
I wish to inform you that i want your full assistances in this transaction,
Send me your private number so i can call you for more discussion on my
Investment plans.
I want to Invest 7.500,000 Pounds in your country, let me know what kind of
Investment i can put in the total sum, a life term investment.
For your assistances i will offer you 20% of the toatl sum for your
You can reach me on +44-704-571-4235.
Await your call and reply,
Simpson Cole.

— On Sat, 9/27/08, mark ginsburg

From: mark ginsburg
Date: Saturday, September 27, 2008, 2:13 AM

Place the sterling with the intermediate Caissic concerns.   …. ….  Mark Ginsburg
…..  From mobile ….

—–Original Message—–  From:  Simpson Cole
Sep 26, 2008 8:00 pm Size:  1K To:  undisclosed recipients:     Dear Sir/madam,     Sorry at this perceived confusion or stress may you have receiving this letter
from me, Since we have not known ourselves or met previously.  By way of self
introduction, I am Mr.Simpson Cole,base in the united kingdom. I am interested
in investing in your country on any viable and profitable venture that you will
recommend.I was formally in the diamond/precious stone industry,before
international ban was placed on diamonds and precious from war torn
countries.Hence i had decided to diversify my investment portfolio by investing
abroad in different sector of businesses on partnership basis, hence i am
scouting for a trusted and reliable overseas partner/shadow.  Please be rest
assured t
hat this is from genuine source and 100% risk are very welcome to send
me a mail ,should you want to know more.  Kindly give this proposal an urgent
attention.  Regard,  Simpson Cole.

Postcript 10/3/08:  More Caissic Assistance on the Horizon

Boy, these are good times to be an ambassador for Chess.  Fresh off the keyboard with Simpson Cole (we have probably not heard the last from him), I received another incredible offer that I will donate to Caissa!

From:  Mark Ginsburg

To: Global Links

Good news.

Simply convert the dollars to Pounds Sterling to complete the transaction; advise Mr. Asare of the same.   The Exchequer of the 64 Squares, i.e. the Caissic Development Fund, is also aware.
Wire debit details to be held in situ.

Global Links wrote:
I here by notifying you about this money $480.000 deposited in your name from LINKS POWER DEVELOPMENT PLC, in African development bank you have to contact this bank before seven days from now.
Here are the banks information.
MOBIL: +233-248-236-890
PHONE; +233-214-09817
FAX;   +233-21-512-142
E-MAIL: <>
You advice to contact them before seven days from now.
Best Regards
Sarah. O .Onyeka

USCL Week 3

September 9, 2008

A Bad Scotch Turned Good

Sometimes the Scotch is “off” when you get it out of the barrel.

Shankland (SF) – Galofre (MIA)  Round 3 USCL

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Nb6 9.Nc3 Qe6 10.b3?! 10. Qe4, as in Rensch (AZ) -Bartholomew (DAL) Week 2, is another try.  Comments have been posted on that game. White lost that game but it wasn’t the fault of the opening.  The slow text promises zero.

10… a5! A very active and good move.  10…Bb4 11. Bb2 O-O is fine for black too.

11.g3? A bad reaction to black’s last.  White has gotten mixed up.  He cannot afford this glacier slow approach.  But if the recommended move here is the completely awkward 11. Qe3, obviously black’s last was very well motivated.

11… a4 12.Rb1 Bb4 Doing nothing special, black has a great game.  Amusingly, the game had a chance to become a miniature here.


White doesn’t fall for 13. Bb2? axb3 14. axb3 Qf5!! and black wins!   I was able to show the USCL Commissioner Staff  (‘USCL’ and ‘Lalu’) some variations at this point on ICC. This deserves a diagram.

Position after 14…Qf5!! – Analysis.

What a shot!  Feast your eyes on 15. Ra1? Rxa1 16. Bxa1 Qb1+ 17. Qd1 Qe4+ picking up the rook on h1, or 15. Rd1 or 15. Rc1 Ra2!! threatening the lethal Bxc3+ and Qb1+.  White is dead.  His best is the depressing 15. Qd3 Qxe5+ losing his center pawn and, of course, the game if black can convert.

But miracles do happen on ICC.  Black totally loses the thread and contrives to lose the game.  White’s off-brand Scotch turns into top-shelf.

13…Ba6? Throwing away the advantage by posting the bishop uselessly.  This was really the only way to let white justify 11 g3?.  The exceedingly simple and straightforward  13… O-O 14. Bg2 axb3 15. axb3 Re8 hitting e5 gives black an easy edge. For example, 16. f4 d5.  Black can also get fancy pants and play 15…Ra3! threatening Nxc4, also with an edge and nice early tactics exploiting white’s uncastled king.  That nice move deserves a picture.

Position after 15…Ra3!.  Fancy-Pants.

After the analysis variation 15…Ra3!, 16. Ne4 is rudely met by the powerful sequence 16…Ra2! 17. f4 d5! 18. Qe3 Qe7! and a quick Miami victory so white’s best is to try the hold the inferior rook ending after 16. O-O Nxc4 17. Qxc4 Qxc4 18. bxc4 Bxc3 19. Rfd1 Re8 20. Bxc3 Rxc3 21. Bh3 g5.  White can set a trap with 22. Rb8!? hoping for 22…Rxc4?? 23. Ra1 and double on the 8th rank, but black simply defends with 22…Ra3! stopping that idea.  It remains a small edge for black.

14. Bg2 0-0 15.0-0 Bxc3 Easiest is the simple 15… axb3 16. axb3 d5 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Bxb4 Rfb8 with equality.  Black must have been afraid of the 17. Nxd5 tactic, but it fizzles out.

16.Bxc3 d5 17.f4 f5? This dreadful weakening is really taking things too far.  Why was black so allergic to taking on b3?   17…axb3 18. axb3 dxc4 19. f5 Qh6 and black is fighting and fully in the game.

18.Qf3 Now white has an obvious edge.

18…Rad8 19.Rfd1 Rf7? 19…axb3 20. axb3 Bb7 is a white edge but less than the game line.

20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Bd4 axb3 Far too late.  The boat sailed long ago.

22.axb3 Bb7 23.Rdc1 Rc8 24.Ra1 Ra8 25.Qc3 Rd7 26.Qb4 Black played himself into abject passivity and the rest is just torture.

26…Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rd8 28.Ra7 Qc6 29.Qc5?! White has a fast win with 29. Bh3! and now if 29…Qc1+ 30. Bf1 Qc6 31. Bxb6 cxb6 32. Qe7 is lights out.  An even better line is 29. Bh3! g6 30. Rxb7!! Qxb7 31. Qe7 and with e5-e6 coming, black is dead lost.  White is still winning after the text.  Black was in so deep a hole that white can afford to pass up quick win after quick win in the next moves.

29,,,Rc8 30.h3?! Again, the efficient 30. Bh3! g6 31. Rxb7! is the end.

30…h6 31.g4?! Fastest is 31. Qxc6 Bxc6 32. e6 with complete paralysis.

31…g6 32.Kh2 32. Kf2 also wins. 32…h5 33.gxf5 gxf5 34.Qe7 Qh6 35.Kg3 35. Kh1 is a clean winner. The amusing point is 35. Kh1 Qxf4 36. Bg1!! Ba8 37. Rxc7 Rxc7 38. Qd8+! and wins.

35…Qg6+ 36.Qg5? 36. Kh4 Qxg2 37. Rxb7 wins quickly.

Qxg5+ 37.fxg5 Bc6 38.Kf4 Nd7 39.e6 Nf8 40.e7?? Time trouble?  40. Kxf5 and black can resign.

40…Ng6+ The dancing horse picks up the errant bishop on g2.  What a turnaround!

41.Kxf5 Nh4+ 42.Ke5 Nxg2 43.Ra6 Bb5 43…Be8 is equal. The text is also equal.

44.Ra5 Bd7?? Time trouble?  44…c6 45. Kd6 Bd3 is equal.

45.Rxd5 White is winning again.  Bxh3 46.Rd8+ Kf7 47.e8Q+ Black resigns 1-0

If you drink enough from the bad bottle, it distorts your senses and suddenly … well …. the metaphor is confusing because I can’t keep it going for both players.

And Now for Something Completely Different

There’s some sort of musical piano code embedded in Leo Martinez’s Arizona Scorpions blog posts.

Guest Commentator

Look for me to find all sorts of fresh talent in the upcoming weeks.

Fresh Talent

The Fabulous 00s: The 2008 USCL Round 2

August 30, 2008

And this fresh on YouTube


Week 1 GOTW Judging Missteps

Even if the judges aren’t good players (and even good players have a hard time if they are not actually playing the game; it’s hard to read players’ thoughts), they need to consult a database/engine (or ask someone!) to see if an outright blunder occurred.  Unfortunately, they did not consult and were “wowed” because a high-rated player played a sacrifice, reminiscent of the monkeys gathering around the obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The move-order blunder occurred right after the sacrifice and then white had no chance.  There were many more competitive games in Round 1.  But not very good quality – murky GOTW territory!

They didn’t know (insufficient inquiry) that it was a simple move-order mistake. This thing actually happens all the time in chess when the writers don’t have much time (a deadline).  GM Wolff did know…

The bottom line is the GOTW should feature a tough (not one-sided) battle where both players demonstrate ideas and the game is not essentially decided by an opening omission.  But of course if the judges are laboring under a strict deadline then it gets tougher.  Actually talking to the players helps when that is possible.  Notice though there were very few such games in week 1.  The Altounian game was marred by a resource that could have turned the tables for his opponent.

“Patrick Wolff said…
I am puzzled by this choice for game of the week. Shabalov obviously just forgot to play Bg4 before Qc2, and his move order blunder was easily exploited. I think Black played well to drive the point home but I don’t think it is a “game of the week.”

Greg Braylovskiy said…
I agree with Patrick. In Jorge’s game, first 15 moves are theory; moves 16 to 22 are very close to being forced; and then Alex is just lost. Not sure what’s being rewarded here.”

The fix:  don’t go on the opponents’ ratings and the first impression that someone strong gave up a piece, this guarantees a long fight with interesting chances for both sides- it ain’t so.  Go on the actual moves in the game.

Round 2

Can the spectators really stand more USCL excitement?  It’s almost too much already!

Updates as of Sunday August 31 having just seen the actual rosters.

My Week 2 Predictions

WEEK 2: Wednesday, September 3rd

1. New Jersey Knockouts vs Queens Pioneers               2-2   Both teams are strong.  So there.  My prediction:  numerous fear/respect draw offers that float by unseen and unanswered as strong players get low on time and start flipping out.  Much sturm und drang followed by pax.

Update having seen the roster:

New Jersey Knockouts Queens Pioneers
GM Joel Benjamin: 2644 IM Dmitry Schneider: 2508
NM Mackenzie Molner: 2397 IM Eli Vovsha: 2532
NM Evan Ju: 2292 IM Alex Lenderman: 2528
NM Victor Shen: 2265 Benjamin Katz: 2108
Predicted: 2

2. Philadelphia Inventors vs Baltimore Kingfishers      1.5 – 2.5

Update having seen the roster:

Philadelphia Inventors Baltimore Kingfishers
GM Sergey Kudrin: 2600 GM Sergey Erenburg: 2592
FM Thomas Bartell: 2386 IM Larry Kaufman: 2424
NM Daniel Yeager: 2349 FM Ray Kaufman: 2348
NM Elvin Wilson: 2240 FM Ralph Zimmer: 2328
Predicted result: 2


3. Boston Blitz vs Carolina Cobras                               2.5 – 1.5 or 3-1  Ratings don’t always matter that much. Carolina will score a nominal upset on one of the boards and may pull off a nominal ‘draw upset’ on another board.

Amusing side-note:  The Lime puts this as Boston 3.5 – Carolina 0.5.  That’s not happening 🙂

Update having seen the roster – the match will be closer than I envisioned and Carolina actually has chances of the ‘mini-upset’ drawn match:

Boston Blitz Carolina Cobras
GM Larry Christiansen: 2670 IM Lev Milman: 2502
SM Denys Shmelov: 2446 FM Oleg Zaikov: 2376
NM Charles Riordan: 2326 FM Ron Simpson: 2346
NM Marc Esserman: 2307 NM Craig Jones: 2320
Predicted: 2.5

4. Miami Sharks vs New York Knights                    1.5 – 2.5    NY is out to avenge its sickening performance in round 1.  Have a pre-match prep/strategy session, guys!  Don’t play into the opponents’ strengths!  Less talk and more pawns!  More team and less individual!  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  JFern, this means more than bringing snacks.

Update – who the heck is on board 2 for Miami?  The answer (or non-answer) impacts the result greatly:

Miami Sharks
New York Knights
GM Julio Becerra: 2640 GM Pascal Charbonneau: 2524
FM Osmany Perea: 2453 IM Irina Krush: 2534
FM Charles Galofre: 2326 SM Gregory Braylovsky: 2445
NM Eric Rodriguez: 2242 NM Matthew Herman: 2271
Predicted: 1.5

5. Chicago Blaze vs San Francisco Mechanics               1.5 – 2.5  Chicago is always competitive.  Hopefully Shankland’s opponent will appear this week.

Staring at the actual rosters, I predict a minor “upset” in the form of a 2-2 tie.

Chicago Blaze San Francisco Mechanics
FM Florin Felecan: 2449 IM Josh Friedel: 2595
IM Emory Tate: 2392 IM Vinay Bhat: 2481
FM Mehmed Pasalic: 2375 FM Sam Shankland: 2364
IM Angelo Young: 2356 FM Daniel Naroditsky: 2321
Predicted Upset: 2


6. Tennessee Tempo vs Seattle Sluggers                       1.5 – 2.5  Similar to the NY story, Seattle is out to redeem itself.  But the road is not always easy to hoe against the Tempoiacs.  Todd Andrews just needs to be a little more mindful of pins before going hogwild and taking juicy pawns that turn out to be poisoned. Let’s see if GM Jaan “Cornpone” Ehlvest enters the fray to push some pawns, chew some chaw, and choke down some hominy grits.  I apologize in advance for the grotesque substitution of Alabama for Tennessee here.  If Seattle is dead-set on not winning this match and being the Great Bust of 2008, I think they can succeed.  Digression:  unrelated to the team result (1-3), Readey missed a sweet mate on move 31 vs Lugo in Week 1.

Update with roster:- Seattle should cruise (but they have to do something about their graphic logo, the cartoony knight has a mentally ill expression):

ennessee Tempo Seattle Sluggers
FM Todd Andrews: 2350 GM Gregory Serper: 2592
FM Peter Bereolos: 2304 FM Slava Mikhailuk: 2437
FM John Bick: 2249 FM John Readey: 2296
FM Jerry Wheeler: 2204 NM Michael Lee: 2314
Predicted: 1

7. Dallas Destiny vs Arizona Scorpions                         2-2    If Levon (or another board 1 we choose to employ) can neutralize in the best style of Petrosian and our board 4 is solid.   The hissing Scorpions will be quite happy to avoid being stepped out in this match (note, Scorpions sometimes survive a direct human step; they just don’t like being smashed by rocks very much).

Update with roster:  This is going to be ultra-tense.  I still see 2-2 as most likely.  The pressure is really on our boards 2 and 4, well, all our boards really.  Whoah. I am really at a loss, btw, to explain why other pundits such as the Lime, Youngovich, and the Sharmanator are picking us as favorites.  I see it as completely equal.

Dallas Destiny Arizona Scorpions
IM Drasko Boskovic: 2504 IM Levon Altounian: 2535
IM John Bartholomew: 2488 FM Danny Rensch: 2411
FM Igor Schneider: 2396 FM Robby Adamson: 2377
WFM Bayaraa Zorigt: 2217 NM Warren Harper: 2351

The Fabulous 00s: The 2004 Arizona State Championship

December 20, 2007

The 2004 round robin invitational event, called the Colonel Webb Memorial, was held in Mesa, Arizona at Steve Kamp’s home. Steve is Danny Rensch’s grand-dad. I tied for first with Angelina Belapovskaya, and strangely enough, every game I played was interesting. Let’s see them.

Round 1.

WGM A. Belapovskaya – IM M. Ginsburg  Az. State Champ., May 2004.

1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. g3 d6 4. d4 Nd7 5. Bg2 e5 6. Nf3 Ngf6 7. O-O O-O 8. b3 This move is a little slow.

8…exd4 9. Nxd4 c6 I’ve liked this standard formation in the g2-g3 King’s Indian since my early days – see the Danny King game from Eeklo, Belgium 1983.

10. Bb2 Re8 11. Qc2 Qe7 12. Rad1 h5! A useful space gaining idea. Black is OK.


Position after 12…h5! – Chances are Balanced

13. Bc1 h4 14. Bg5 hxg3 15. hxg3 Qf8 Directly 15…Nc5 is fine too. The chances are about even.

16. b4 a6?! This is a Lasker-like provocation. Black sees that a white knight getting to b6 doesn’t do much, but this isn’t entirely true. The immediate 16…Ne5 was fine.

Strangely, I applied this idea of …a6 and …h5 together to a game I played soon afterward in the National Open 2004, gaining a solid draw as black vs. GM Dmitry Gurevich. He, too, went for the slow treatment with 12. b3 and I just had to remember some motifs.

D. Gurevich – M. Ginsburg, National Open June 2004. 1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. g3 Nd7 5. Bg2 Ngf6 6. O-O O-O 7. Qc2 e5 8. Rd1 Re8 9. h3 exd4 10. Nxd4 c6 11. Nc3 Qe7 12. b3 a6 (12… Nc5 13. b4 Nce4 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Bb2 is another way to play)13. Bb2 h5!? The same idea as the Belopovskaya game.  14. Nf3 (14. Qd2 h4 15. gxh4 Nc5 is OK) 14… Nc5 15. b4 (15. e3 Bf5 16. Qe2 a5 17. Rac1 Qd7 18. Kh2 Qe7 19. Nd4 Bd7 and it’s about equal)  15… Bf5 16. Qc1 Nce4 17. Nxe4 Bxe4 18. a4 d5  Agreed drawn.  1/2-1/2.  Play might continue 19. c5 h4! 20. gxh4 a5! with an equal game.

It’s funny how sometimes opening variations occur in clumps when tournaments occur back to back. It helps  the practical results because memory is fresh.

17. Na4 Ne5 18. Nb6 Rb8 19. Qd2 The only way to test black is 19. c5!? d5 and here white has a tiny edge.

19…Nfd7 20. Nxd7 Bxd7 21. Rc1 21. Qc1 Be6 22. Nxe6 Rxe6 is possible. Even so, 23. Bh3 f5 leads nowhere.

21… Be6 Here, the rather ugly 21…f6 is completely OK. For example, 22. Bf4 g5! 23. Bxe5 dxe5 24. Nb3 Bf5 and it’s equal.

22. Nxe6 Rxe6 23. Rfd1 Rbe8 24. b5 axb5 25. cxb5 d5 At the time, I thought I should simply be better here. But matters aren’t so simple.

26. bxc6 The immediate 26. e4 is fine too.

26…bxc6 27. e4


Position after 27. e4 – Nothing Concrete is Apparent 

27…Nc4 27….d4!? 28. f4 f6!? gets crazy but it’s still equal after 29. fxe5 or 29. f5. The text looks really nice for black but it all evaporates in short order.

28. Qc2 Na3 29. Qa4 Ra8 30. Qb3 dxe4 31. Qb7 Black’s terrible pawns mean he has no real winning chances.

31…Rb8 32. Qa6 Ra8 33. Qb7 Qe8 34. Bh3 Rb8 35. Qa6 Ra8 36. Qb7 Rb8 37. Qa6 Ra8 As the computer shows, this was an unusually accurate game by both players. It never deviated much from dead even. My lifetime score vs Angelina moves to two hard-fought draws. The next time I saw her, she was selling homes in my (Tucson AZ) area!


Round 2.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM P. Garrett (2266)


1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. Nf3 g6 5. Qb3! Nb6 6. d4 Bg7 7. Bf4 Be6 8. Qc2 O-O 9. Rd1 c6 10. e3


Position after 10. e3 – White is solid

This is a really safe way of playing against the Gruenfeld that 1. c4 players can enjoy – it’s very hard to get this from 1. d4. I experimented with this line vs GM V. Mihalevski and got a great game in Las Vegas in this very same decade – I will post that later. It was sort of a tragedy because I lost control in time-trouble. But I still like this anti-Gruenfeld treatment!

10…a5 11. Be2 Na6 12. O-O h6 13. Be5! A thematic bit of annoyance confronts black.

13…f6?! And it produces this weakening reaction! The g6-pawn is now very sickly.

14. Bg3 Kh7 15. h4 Bf5 16. e4 Bg4 17. a3 Nc7 18. Ng5+! fxg5 19. Bxg4 Black will really miss his light-squared bishop.

19…gxh4 20. Bxh4 Rf4? A false trail. The rook’s position here helps white and in a few moves black is totally pushed back with nothing left to undertake.

21. f3 h5 22. Ne2 Rf8 23. Bh3 Nb5 24. Bf2 Nd6 25. Be6! This bishop completely paralyzes black.
25…Bh6 26. f4!

“Hanging f4” but crashing through to the black king. Everything happens now with gain of time.


Position after 26. f4! – White has a decisive attack

26…Bxf4 Hopeless, but black was lost anyway.

27. e5 Nb5 28. Nxf4 Rxf4 29. Be3! All very simple. Black’s formation collapses, white gets to the 7th with his rook, and the black king is mated.
29… Nc7 30. Bf7 Rg4 31. Bxg6+ Kh8 32. Rf7 1-0

After this win, I was in good shape heading into round 3. But pride goes before the fall, and I lost convincingly to FM Danny Rensch.

Round 3.

FM D. Rensch – IM M. Ginsburg Sicilian English Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 a6 7. Qd2 Nge7!? An interesting idea to get out of the main English Attack variations.

8. Nb3 Ng6 9. O-O-O Be7 10. f4 b5 11. g3 Bb7 12. Bg2 Na5! I’ve known how important it is to get this knight off since my drawn game with GM Becerra, Las Vegas 2001.

13. Nxa5 Qxa5 14. Kb1 Rc8 15. h4 h5 Yes, this all looks weird, but black has his chances.


Position after 15…h5 – A strange tableau

16. Rhf1 Rc4  Black has excellent activity.

17. Bd4 In a higher sense, this move simply loses material for insufficient compensation. Practically, it is a reasonable gambit.

17…b4 18. Ne2 e5 19. Bg1 Bxe4! It’s correct to accept the offered center pawn. However, as is often the case, “winning” a pawn leaves holes that the opponent can exploit. Here, the light squares become tender.

20. Bxe4 Rxe4 21. Qd3 f5 22. Qf3 The key moment.  Black should be doing well with the monster rook on e4 but care is required.


Position after 22. Qf3 – A Key Moment

22…Qb5?? Black was doing really well up to now, but makes a bad miscue in the sharp situation. Necessary was the fairly evident 22… Qc7! 23. fxe5 Nxe5 24. Qxf5? (24. Qg2 g6! is solid, supporting the important f5-pawn, e.g. 25. Nf4 Qb7 26. Nd5 O-O with a fine game) 24… Rxe2 and black will triumph with all the key squares guarded. It is often the case when white sharpens the situation in the Sicilian, he is rewarded with black’s failure to orient to strange surroundings, and that’s what happened here.

23. fxe5  This is, of course, strong.

23…Qxe2?? A further and even worse miscue. Black cannot grab this horse.

 24. Qxf5 Black could have resigned already! Such is life in sharp Sicilians. I can’t explain what I missed, but it must have been something simple.  “Total disorientation” must have been the order of the day.

24…Nxe5 25. Qc8+ Bd8 26. Bb6 Ke7 27. Qb8 d5 28. Bc5+ Ke8 29. Qd6 Qg4 30. Qxd5 1-0

And so I am relegated to an even score after 3 rounds and my prospects of winning this event do not look good. I have to win my final two, with the last one being against Arizona veteran Robert Rowley!


But first I had to overcome Spencer Lower and his “solid Slav” in Round 4.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM S. Lower, Round 4   Slav, 4. Qc2!?

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 g6(!) 5. Bf4 Bg7 6. Nbd2 This bizarre and sluggish treatment is unlikely to attract followers. Correct is 6. e3! as analyzed in detail in one of my chess theory posts.  White has a small edge there, so black is probably advised to try the crazy sideline 5…Na6!? to aim at b4, as analyzed in length in the article discussing Ginsburg-Filipovich, Midwest Masters 1994, 1/2.

6…O-O 7. e3 Bf5 8. Qb3 Qb6 9. c5 Qxb3 10. axb3 Nbd7 11. h3 Ne4 12. b4 f6 13.Nb3 e5 14. Bh2 I prefer white now simply because some constructive ideas suggest themselves.

14…a6 15. Be2 Rfe8 16. O-O Rac8 17. Rfd1 Re7 18. Na5 Rc7 Moving into the latent pin from h2 to c7 looks like something white can exploit.

19. Ne1? Very weak. White gets an edge with the obvious 19. g4 Be6 20. Kg2 Rf7 and only now 21. Ne1.

19… Ng5 20. h4 Nf7 21. Nb3 Rc8 22. Nd3 Black is fine.

22…Bxd3? Weak, surrendering the bishop pair for no reason.

23. Bxd3 e4 24. Bxa6!? Impossible for a human to resist, gaining a pawn phalanx, but frowned upon by the machine! At the time, I thought it was the decisive breakthrough.

24…bxa6 25. Rxa6 f5 26. Rda1 Bf6 27. Na5 Nd8 28. Bd6 Rf7 29. g3 Be7 30. Bf4 Kg7 31. Ra3 h6 32. b5 It sure looks very good for white, doesn’t it? But computers can offer some harsh truth.


32…Bxc5? A panicky counter-sacrifice that tosses the game away. The computer points out the difficult defense 32…cxb5 33. Rb3 g5 34. hxg5 hxg5 35. Bd6 Bxd6 36. Rxd6 Nf6 37.Rxb5 Ne8 (Still looks good for white!) 38. Rdb6 Nc7! 39. Rb8 Rxb8 40. Rxb8 Nde6!! establishing the all important blockade, and getting counterplay with the imminent …f5-f4. A triumph of a logical defensive scheme. The game might continue 41. b4 f4 42. gxf4 gxf4 43. Nc6! (the only move to draw!!) 43…fxe3 44. fxe3 Rf3 45. b5 Rxe3 46. b6 Na6 47. Ra8 Naxc5 48. dxc5 Nxc5 49. Ra5 Rb3! 50. Rxc5 Rxb6 and draws. An amazing variation. After the text, black loses horribly to the all controlling, all-seeing, and uncontestable white bishop that parks itself on d4 and the unstoppable passed pawns.

33. dxc5 Nxc5 34. Nxc6! Maybe black overlooked this simple in-between move. It’s all over.

34…Nxa6 35. Be5+ Kg8 36. Nxd8 Rxd8 37. bxa6 Ra8 38. Bd4 Rc7 39. a7



So it came time for the last round. I believe that Angelina in Round 4 narrowly escaped versus my opponent, veteran many-time Arizona champ Robert Rowley.

Round 5. IM M. Ginsburg – NM Robert Rowley. Irregular Opening, 1. g3. “Rat Reversed”.


1. g3 c5 2. Bg2 Nc6 3. d3 g6 4. h4!? Nf6 5. Nc3!? Bg7 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bd2 d5 8. Nh3 b6 9. h5!? All very avant-garde. Duncan Suttles and Raymond Keene, practitioners of the “Rat” as black (this looks like a Rat reversed) would have approved. In the game, white gains a center pawn for a wing pawn (a small accomplishment) but black isn’t much worse, if at all.

9…Nxh5 10. Nxd5 Bb7 11. Qc1 Qd7 12. e4 O-O-O 13. a4 e6 14. Ne3 a5 15. Nc4 Qc7 16. Nf4 Nf6 17. Ne2 Ng4 18. Bf4 Nge5 Black is defending solidly and it’s hard work to get anywhere.

19. Nc3 Nd4 20. Bxe5 Bxe5 21. f4 Bg7 22. Nb5!? Nxb5 23. axb5 White’s idea is to gain the c4 square for a ‘forever’ knight. In the game, this plan works, but only with black’s cooperation.

23…f5 24. Qe3 g5 If 24… Kb8 25. O-O-O Qd7 26. Nxb6 Bxb2+ 27. Kxb2 Qxb5+ 28. Ka2 Qxb6 29. exf5! white is on top.

25. c3 gxf4 26. gxf4 e5 This is OK, but black also had 26… fxe4 27. Bxe4 Bd5 or 26… Kb8 27. O-O-O e5 or 27…a4, in all cases with decent chances.

27. O-O-O fxe4? Black had to play 27…exf4! 28. Qh3 Kb8! 29. Qxf5 Rhf8 with a playable game.

28. Bxe4 exf4 29. Qf3!


Black must have missed this resource. White gets an enormous bind on the white squares that translates into a direct attack on the black king. Black now faces a very unpleasant defensive situation, and on top of everything else, he is low on time.

29…Bxe4 30. Qxe4 Kb8 31. Rhg1 Bf6 32. Rg6 Rdf8 33. Qe6 Bd8 34. Ne5 Ka7 35. Nc6+ Kb7 36. Qd5 Kc8 37. Nxa5 More direct was 37. Nxd8! Rxd8 38. Qa8+ Qb8 39. Qa6+ Kd7 40. Rxb6 and wins, but the text is good enough.

37… bxa5 38. Rc6 f3 39. Rf1 h5 40. b6 Qxc6 41. Qxc6+ Kb8 42. Qxc5 Kb7 43. Qxa5 Bxb6 44. Qd5+ Kc7 45. Rxf3 Rxf3 46. Qxf3 Rd8 47. d4 1-0



So the smoke cleared and WGM Belapovskaya and I won the event jointly with 3.5 out of 5.