Posts Tagged ‘Foxwoods Chess’

The Fabulous 00s: The Magic and Delight of Foxxxwoods, Connecticut

March 20, 2008

Nostalgia First

Here’s a photo from Lone Pine 80. Note the fancy name tags.

I have the black pieces and I’m playing Lev Alburt (who had recently defected from the USSR) and in the background is future IM Steve Odendahl from Maryland. It looks like we’re playing in a brick penitentiary but that was in fact the Lone Pine, CA, playing hall. See this post for more Lone Pine games and photos. The actual Alburt game was very exciting and featured the bizarre 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 e4 5. Ng5 Bf5 6. g4!? Old Indian sub-variation. It’s called the “Ukrainian Variation” in some books. My lifetime record with this: unclear then lost (Alburt), clearly better then lost (Benjamin), slightly better then lost (Dlugy), and somewhat worse then won (Ashley).


Lev Alburt playing a hippie, Lone Pine 1980. The Ukrainian Variation is about to unfold.

Fun At Foxwoods!

Now that we have Lone Pine out of our system (it is sadly defunct), we have to find a “new” Lone Pine. Bill Goichberg’s Foxwoods tournament is quite the spectacular event, at the massive Pequot Indian tribal casino complex.

The Open section just got underway Wednesday, March 19, 2008. I noticed in the hallway stalwart Manhattanites Jay Bonin and Nick Conticello. I also spotted in Round 1 blast from the past British Grandmaster Keith Arkell! And a Grandmaster I played when he was a little kid, Mark Paragua from the Philippines.

Some Games

My first game was rather humorous:

IM M. Ginsburg – O. Iwu (2190) Slav, 5…Na6

1. c4 c6 My opponent was 47 minutes tardy. A note for norm hunters: a forfeit in a 9 round Swiss destroys all norm hopes. 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Na6!? An old favorite of Hort and Smyslov.


5…Na6. It’s been tried by the greats.

6. e4 Bg4 Strangely, 6…Be6!? is interesting here. 7. Ng5 Qd7 is playable.

7. Bxc4 e6 8. Be3 Nb4 9. a5! Black should not be allowed to play the cementing …a7-a5.

9… Be7?!

Black should have taken this chance for 9…Bxf3 doubling the white pawns and leading to only a small edge for white. Still, after 10. gxf3 Be7 11. Ra4! white is better.

10. Be2! O-O 11. O-O Qc7 12. Qb3 b5 13. a6 Rac8 14. Rfc1 Qb8 15. h3 Bh5 16. g4! Bg6 17. Ne5! Now white’s edge is increasing.


Position after 17. Ne5!

17… Rfd8 18. g5 Nd7 19. Nxg6 White had the strong alternative 19. Nxd7! Rxd7 20. h4! with an obvious edge after 20…h6 or 20…h5 21. gxh6, as my opponent pointed out after the game, but I was focused on exploiting the white squares as occurred in the game.

19…hxg6 20. Rd1? 20. Kg2 is the most accurate here. The text allows a bizarre equalizing shot for black on move 21.

20…Nb6 21. h4 Na8? Fiddling while Rome burns. This idea of rounding up the a6 pawn is way too slow and white proceeds to destroy black’s king position. Surprisingly, black has the shot 21…Nc4! here with equality. If white is not careful he can even be worse after 22. Bxc4? bxc4 23. Qxc4 Nc2 24. Rab1 Nxe3 and ooops! The black queen is coming to g3 with check and utter ruination. If white had played the suggested 20th move, 20. Kg2!, the g3 square is covered and none of this works. The moral is, when advancing pawns in front of one’s own king, watch out for these types of surprise tactics!

22. h5 Nc7? 22….gxh5 23. g6! is the point! GM Bologan butchered me once with this motif and the painful memory is not easily forgotten. Still, 22…gxh5 was forced and the text loses quickly.

23. hxg6 Nbxa6 24. gxf7+ Kxf7 25. g6+! White had another nice win: 25. Rxa6! Nxa6 26. g6+ transposing, or even 26. Bh5+ g6 27. Bxg6+ and wins.

25…Kxg6 Everything is hopeless already. 25…Ke8 26. Rxa6 crushes black.

26. Rxa6 Nxa6 27. Qxe6+ Bf6 28. Bh5+! A nice finishing shot. 28…Kxh5 29. Qf7+ (29. Qf5+ wins similarly) 29… Kg4 (or Kh4) 30. Kg2 mates. Or, 28….Kh7 leads to a famous chimney mating pattern after 29. Bf7!. Of course, 28. e5 won too but the mating attack text is way more aesthetic.


Position after 28. Bh5+! – mate is forced.

Black resigned.


In other first round weirdness, Chris Williams beat Shabalov as black when Alex hung his key center pawn.

The second round also saw strangeness:

FM N. Rogers – IM M. Ginsburg Sicilian Paulsen

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 4. g3!? is a very dangerous try that I like. I used it against GM Emil Anka in Las Vegas and only drew, but white has good chances. Dmitry Schneider beat me in a tough game, Miami Chess International 2007, with the line 4. g3 b5 5. d3!? – I like the more crazy aggressive 4. g3 b5 5. Bg2 Bb7 6. d4 to try to sac with an early Nc3-d5 in many positions. I had one positive experience defending, defeating Omar Cartagena as black in San Francisco Dake Memorial 1999, but overall it’s a good try.

4…cxd4 5. Nxd4 Qc7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O b5 Black has to play very actively or else white will just aim for the rote buildup with Qe2, f4, Bd2, Rae1, and break with e4-e5.

8. Qe2 Bb7!? I saw Charbonneau do this against De Firmian in a similar position; black does not fear 9. e5 Nd5. Pascal won that game which is a good advertisement. Weaker would be 8…d6?! which gives white a free hand.

9. Bg5 b4 10. Nd1 Be7 11. c3 h6! 12. Bh4 Nc6! I have fully equalized.

13. Rc1? I had seen the possibility of this happening but was surprised to see it appear on the board.

13…Nxd4 White resigns — the rook on c1 became unguarded when the bishop moves to h4 on move 12. Note the clumsy knight on d1.


In other second round news of note, Lenderman once again tried his lousy Smith-Morra gambit; NM Dougherty from Canada was doing well for a while but when I left the playing hall after my exertions Dougherty seemed to be losing the handle of things. Gulko should give a world-wide web lecture on the black side of this gambit.

Round 3.

I was white against GM Eugene Perelshteyn and he surprised me with a variation of the King’s Indian I had never seen before.

IM M. Ginsburg – GM E. Perelshteyn King’s Indian Defense, 6…Na6 line

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 Na6 7. O-O e5 8. Re1 Bg4 9. Be3

Statistically, 9. d5 is the most popular move but the text move is also very common. White can also try for a small ending edge with 9. dxe5!? dxe5 10. Be3 Re8 11. a3 or 10…Qxd1 11. Rexd1, in both cases a little bit better for white. A fairly recent example with 9. d5 Nc5 10. Qc2 a5 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bh4 Qc8!? and drawn in 30 moves, Alekseev-Nakamura, Santo Domingo 2003.

9…Bxf3 White can claim a small but nagging and pleasant edge after 9…exd4 10. Nxd4 Bxe2 11. Qxe2 Nc5 12. f3 a5 13. Ndb5!. Black was also unsuccessful in this line with 12…Nh5?! 13. Rad1 Ne6 14. Nxe6 fxe6 15, c5! (obvious but nice), and white was much better and won in 35 moves, V. Popov – I. Saric, Saint Vincent 2005.

10. Bxf3 exd4 11. Bxd4 Nb4!? This line came as a complete surprise. What am I supposed to do? I have all sorts of candidate moves: 12. c5, 12. e5, 12. Nd5. All interesting with pros and cons to each. For example, 12. e5 Nd7!? with strangeness. I have noticed Perelshteyn likes openings, such as the Bogo-Indian, where black can try to seize the dark squares. And that’s what’s happening here. I have to be careful. It is not often that I am surprised by something new to me so early.


Position after 11…Nb4!? – relatively uncharted waters

12. Nd5?! I don’t love this move. I will have to check the alternatives here. Postscript after the tournament: in fact, it appears 12. e5! is right. If 12…Nd7? 13. Bxb7 Rb8 14. Be4! is rather strong. Therefore my thinking during the game was very flawed; black can’t do that. And if the passive 12…dxe5 13. Bxe5 Nd3, 14. Bxc7! guarantees an edge – for example 14…Qxc7 15. Qxd3 Rad8 16. Bd5!. The feeble alternative 13…Qc8? 14. Qb3! would be even worse. In the database, for some reason Hecht played the weak 12. Be3? Nd7 and the game was drawn, Hecht-Bjelobrk, Queenstown 2006. And Arlandi played the same weak move 12. Be3? and won vs. Bjelobrk, in Mount Buller 2005, but it’s clearly in my opinion not the right choice. My other consideration in the game, 12. c5!?, is pretty good after 12…Nc6 13. cxd6! cxd6 14. Be3 and white has the easier game but not 13. Be3?! dxc5 14. Bxc5 Re8 and white has nothing. Or, 13…Qxd6!? 14. Be3 Qb4 15. Qb3 a5 16. Rad1 also with a small edge.

Conclusion: The move 12. e5!? offers good chances for an edge; the move I played in the game is not good and black is fine. 12. c5 looks less after 12…Nc6 13. cxd6 but it’s also nice for white. I only see two games in the database and they both have the non-informative move 12. Be3?.

12…Nc6 13. Bc3 Re8 and black had more or less equalized. The game continued and black actually wound up a pawn up but it was 3 on 2 on the same side of the board and I held a draw in sudden death.

Actually it got very sharp briefly:

14. Rc1 Ne5 15. Nxf6+ Bxf6 16. Bg4!? This strange move puts an odd spin on things. It’s a total bluff; black can play 16…Nxg4 17. Qxg4 and white has nothing after 17…Be5.

16… c5!? This move is fine too.

17. f4 Nc6?! 17…Nxg4 18. Qxg4 Bxc3 is fine for black. For example, 19. Rxc3 Qf6! is very awkward for white to meet; his pawns are loose. Counter-intuitively, this simplification represents black’s best winning chance.

18. e5! White is fine again.


Position after 18. e5! – white has enough control again

18…dxe5 19. Bd7 The ‘point’, but how good is it? It turns out to be good enough for equality. I offered a ‘probe draw’ which of course black turned down. He is not risking anything.

19…Re7 20. Bxc6 bxc6 At least I have gotten rid of the knight that was eyeing all the dark squares.

21. Qxd8 I have other moves here. I wanted to stay “simple”. For example, 21. fxe5 Bg7 22. Qxd8+ Rxd8 23. Rc2 with boring equality.

21…Rxd8 22. Rcd1! Rde8!? The last chance to let white do something wrong. 22…Rxd1 23. Rxd1 Re6 24. Re1 e4 25. Bxf6 Rxf6 26. Rxe4 is dead equal. But white has a strong reply (which he misses).

23. fxe5? 23. Rd6? exf4! is horrible, black can try to win after 24. Rxe7 Bxe7 25. Rxc6 Bf8. But obviously best is 23. Kf2! guarding against black rook invasions. Why am I rushing to make a capture I can make later? As a matter of fact, it is black who has to be careful after 23. Kf2! – for example, 23… Kg7? 24. Rd6 Re6 25. Rxe6 Rxe6 26. fxe5 Bg5 27. Kf3 and white can try to win! Black can achieve a draw with 23…Bg7 24. fxe5 Bxe5 25. Bxe5 Rxe5 26. Rxe5 Rxe5 27. Rd7 Rh5 28. h3 Rf5+ 29. Ke3 Re5+ 30. Kd3 Rg5 31. g4 h5! and draw.

23…Bxe5 24. Bxe5 Rxe5 25. Rxe5 Rxe5 26. Rd7 This is drawn; white just needs to be a little careful. But there was no reason to be a pawn down – it was very poor play to miss the easy 22. Kf2! guarding against rook entry points.

26… Re1+ 27. Kf2 Rb1 28. Rxa7 Rxb2+ 29. Kf3 Rc2 30. Ra6 Rxc3+ 31. Kf2 Rxc4 32. Rxa6 h5 33. a4 Rxa4 34. Rxc5 Kg7 35. Rb5 h4 36. h3! and white held on. Easier said than done in a SD/1 finishing time control.

1/2-1/2, 77 moves.

On the board next to me, GM Darmen Sadvastakov convincingly beat GM Mark Paragua on the white side of a Be3 e5 Najdorf.

Round 4.

GM Becerra  – IM Ginsburg  Keres Attack, Sicilian Scheveningen

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4!? Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1! A flexible choice.  White prepares Rg1-g3!? to meet black’s principal idea of Nd7-e5.   These lines are discussed in more detail in a separate theoretical post on my site. Black, it seems, can actually go ahead and try 8…Ne5!? 9. Rg3 – the rook lift is not the end of the discussion.


Position after 8. Rg1!

8…Nb6 This is Plan “B” to gain a foothold in the center with …d6-d5.

9. h4 d5 10. Bb5 Bd7 11. exd5 exd5 12. Be3 Bb4   13. Nxc6! Well-timed.  White gains d4 for operations.

13…Bxc6 The alternative, 13…Bxc3+?!, looks very passive.

14. Bxc6+ bxc6 15. Qd4!


Position after 15. Qd4! – Don’t panic yet.

15…Qe7!  Not time to panic yet.  Sacrificing a pawn gives black a compact game with chances for counterplay.  Alternatives are much weaker.

16. Qxg7 O-O-O 17. O-O-O Rhg8 18. Qd4 Nc4 19. Kb1 Rge8 20. Bc1 Qb7 21. Ka1 A remarkable defensive construction.  Personally I would not go for this plan (19. Kb1, 21. Ka1). Black retains some counterplay with his next move.

21…Qb6 22. Qf6! Black’s pieces are somewhat uncoordinated.


Position after 22. Qf6! – I am getting stretched thin.

22…Rd7 23. Rge1 Rde7 24. Rxe7 Rxe7 25. a3 Bxc3 At this stage, I have nothing better than the craven recovery of the pawn minus.

26. Qxc3 Qxf2 27. b3 Ne5 28. Be3 Qf3! Black always plays for activity. 29. Re1 Re6 30. Qd2 Kd7! Setting up a crafty trick.  Do you see it?

31. Bxa7 Nc4!! There it is.   A lateral “pin” of the b3 pawn (Qf3 eyes a3 pawn makes this work) means the knight is untouchable. All at once, black is fine.  This was a particularly nice move to execute with only 3 minutes left to move 40.  Not only is black safe, it’s not a big chore anymore to make all 40 moves.  The last time I played Julio, I had no such luck in as black in a balanced but complicated Sicilian game and went wrong in time pressure, losing in the Miami International 2007.


Position after the “miracle” 31…Nc4!!

The real exclamation marks belong to the moves just before this (setting it up).   After a brief cogitation, white steers the game into equality.

32. Qb4 Rxe1 33. Qxe1 Nxa3 34. Kb2 Nb5 The knight always finds nice places to hop.

35. Bc5 Qe4 Preventing white’s queen from getting in. The ending is equal.

36. Qxe4 dxe4 37. c4 Nc7 38. Kc3 Ne6 39. Ba3 c5! The simplest. 40. b4 cxb4 41. Bxb4 Kc6 42. Kd2 Nd4 43. Ke3


Position after 43. Ke3.  A little care needed.


Black should, of course, avoid the horrific blunder 43…Nc2+?? 44. Kxe4 Nxb4 45. Kf5  where only white can win with 2 distant passed pawns versus a knight.

44. Kf4 White avoids taking on e4 for a move, but since there is no zugzwang such niceties don’t matter.

44…Nxh4 45. Kxe4 Ng6 46. Kf5 Nh4+ 47. Ke5 Nf3+ Latching on to the g5 pawn and assuring the draw.

48. Kf6 Kb6 Forced but quite sufficient. There is no zugzwang (black king can shuttle between b6 and c6) so white cannot undertake anything.  All the pawns will leave the board soon.

49. Be7 Kc6 50. Kxf7 And, in view of 50…Nxg5 51. Bxg5 Kc5 eliminating the last pawn, the players agreed to a draw.  A well played and tough struggle.

1/2 – 1/2

More Games Shortly

I’m traveling now but look at that space shortly for some more interesting games I played:

A loss to GM A. Ivanov, Round 5. I was white in a Nf3, Bc4 “attack” versus the Pirc.  I started the opening badly, then confused him enough to reach a defensible but bad ending, then overlooked mate in 2!   Well, players are allowed one bad game per event (my rule).Here’s a picture of GM Ivanov who fell asleep at the closing party, St. Maarten (French side, town of Marigot) May 1992.


My vanquisher in Round 5, GM Alexander Ivanov – St. Maarten, May 1992

A win vs FM Ilya Figler, Round 6, as black in a King’s Indian.

A loss to GM K. Arkell (ENG), Round 7, in a very similar King’s Indian! (I was black again). He reminded me that he beat me in Lloyds Bank 1981 (more than a quarter century ago, tempus fugit), where he was a lowly rated junior and I was a newly minted IM. Horrors! Apparently, I said at the time (probably to Odendahl) after the game, “I just lost to some Ark-kole.” I don’t remember that, but it sounds plausibly witty. The rematch was very interesting and I will post it soon here.

A smooth win vs FM M. Dougherty (CAN) in Round 8, I was white in a Semi-Slav and whipped out a Lajos Portisch specialty TN. So now I had 5 out of 8. Out of contention for a GM norm, I flew back to Chicago in lieu of the glory of round 9 to prepare for the drudgery of a new work day on Monday. If I had won Round 9. 6-3 might have won some sort of small prize but this event was tiring enough! 4 GM opponents were really a tough slog. I had a performance rating of 2483 FIDE which is pretty good and got my USCF rating part of the way toward my peak of 2578 (now it’s at 2433). How the mighty have fallen.

I note in passing I ran into David Parker at the tournament. He reminded me that he was my roommate in Storrs, CT, US Junior Open 1976! I had no memory of this. These little “memory aides” (people telling me things) really help a lot!


The Fabulous 00s: More Defending vs. The Keres Attack

December 14, 2007

I will be discussing this variation in my upcoming DVD series, “Thinking Your Way to Chess Mastery in the Opening.” My first disc will cover the Keres Attack, playing White versus the Hedgehog, and playing White in the Bayonet Attack, King’s Indian Defense.

IM D. Pruess – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute Blitz Dec. 2007

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6!?


Position after 6…Nc6!? – An Unusual Defense to the Keres Attack

There’s something very logical looking about this move. 6…h6 gives white a lever for a later g4-g5. And the older 6…a6, once the most popular, has been convincingly shown to be too slow. So that leaves 6…Be7 (similar to the text) and the very risky 6…e5?! which we will cover in another installment. For more on 6…Nc6, see my first article (the GM Vogt game).

7. g5 Nd7 8. f4?!

This looks a little premature. 8. Be3 or 8. h4 are normal.

8. Rg1 is also possible. This was tested in another interesting ICC blitz game. It is possible to learn from these games, as I especially find out after analyzing blown opportunities such as the following:

NM Jefferson – IM Aries2 ICC 5-minute, December 2007.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1 Nde5! Our thematic regrouping. 9. Be3 Na5 10. b3 Nac6! Returning now that the b2-b3 weakness was induced. 11. f4 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 Nc6 13. Bb5 Bd7 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Qd3 c5 16. Be3 Qa5 17. Bd2 Rc8 18. f5 c4! Black is fine. 19. Qf3 cxb3 20. cxb3 When white recaptures this way, you know black is doing well. 20…Qe5 21. O-O-O Be7 22. Kb1?! First of all, 22. f6?! gxf6 23. h4 fxg5 24. hxg5 a5 25. Kb2 a4 26. Rc1 axb3 27. axb3 Rb8 is very bad for white. The difficult 22 Kb2! is correct; 22…exf5 23. Rgf1 d5 24. exf5 d4 25. Ne4 Bc6 26. Rfe1 d3+ 27. Kb1 O-O 28. Qg4 Bxe4 29. Rxe4 Qc7 is about equal) 22… O-O 23. Rc1 d5?! (23… exf5! 24. Nd5 Bd8 is just good for black, e.g. 25. Rxc8 Bxc8 26. exf5 Bxf5+ 27. Kc1 Qa1 mate) 24. f6 Ba3! 25. fxg7 Qxg7 26. exd5 Bxc1? An instructive lapse. Black should keep attacking with 26…exd5 27. Qxd5 Rfd8 28. Qe4 Rc5 29. Ka1 Bf5 30. Qe2 Rcd5 31. Bf4 Rc8 32. Rg3 Rdc5! and this nice switch-back costs white decisive material. In the game, after 27. Rxc1 exd5 28. Nxd5 Rxc1+ 29. Bxc1 Be6?? 30. Ne7+ Kh8 31. Bb2 f6 32. Bxf6 Rxf6 33. Qxf6 white even won. Yuck! 1-0.

Now back to the main game after 8. f4?!

8…h6! Is this a TN?


8…h6!? – TN or not?

I could not find this logical reply in ChessBase. Black exploits the trick that 9. gxh6? Qh4+ is just bad for white (10. Bf2? Qxf4). Playable is the similar 8… Nxd4 9. Qxd4 h6! 10. Be3 hxg5 11. fxg5 Ne5 and black is comfortable. For example, 12. O-O-O a6 13. Bf4 b5 (not 13… Qc7?? 14. Bxe5 dxe5 15. Nb5!! and wins) 14. h4 Nc6 15. Qd3 b4 16. Ne2 e5 17. Be3 Bg4 18. g6 Qd7 19. Qd5 fxg6 20. Bh3 Bxh3 21. Rxh3 b3 22. Rf3 bxc2 23. Rdf1 Rb8 24. Rf7 Nb4 25. Qb3 Qh3 and things are really murky.

9. Nf3 The sacrifice 9. Nxe6!? fxe6 10. Qh5+ comes to mind. Black is going to be forced to switch his king and queen’s start positions in a weird sequence. After 10…Ke7 11. Be3
Qe8 12. Qh3 Kd8 13. O-O-O Kc7 14. Nb5+ Kb8 15. Nxd6 is refuted by 15… Bxd6 16. Rxd6 hxg5 and black wins. On other white 15th moves, black is better but not completely winning. So the sacrifice 9. Nxe6 is really deserving a “?!” instead.

9… hxg5 Sensible is 9… Be7 10. g6 (10. Be3 hxg5 11. Nxg5 a6 with a decent game) 10… Bh4+ 11. Ke2 O-O 12. Qxd6 Qb6! – a peculiar, imaginative, and nice gambit idea. Black has good attacking chances. For example, 13. gxf7+ Rxf7 14. Kd1 Nc5 15. Qd2 Rd7 16. Bd3 Bf6.

10. Nxg5 a6 Very interesting is 10… Qb6 11. Nb5 Nb4 12. a3 Na6 13. Qe2 Nc7
14. Be3 Qa5+ 15. c3 Nxb5 16. Qxb5 Qxb5 17. Bxb5 a6 and black is fine.

11. Be3 b5 12. Bg2 Bb7 13. Qe2 Qa5 14. O-O b4 15. Nb1 Be7 16. Nd2 Qc7 Very playable is 16… Bxg5 17. Nc4 Qc7 18. fxg5 Nce5 – this is nice and solid and nice for black.

17. f5 The sharpest try but black has an adequate response.

17…d5! A thematic line-opener to try to get at white’s king. Black attacks the h2 pawn.


Position after 17…d5!? – Very Sharp.

18. Bf4 Bd6?? The text should have been a losing blunder. An amazing resource is 18… Nd4!! – showing that unusual and very strong moves are possible even in the opening.


Position after 18…Nd4!! (analysis)

First we dismiss 19. Qf2?? Qxf4! 20. Qxf4 Ne2+ (the point!) and black wins; the WN on g5 is dangling. And if 19. Bxc7 (19. Qe3 is bad – 19…Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qxh2+ 21. Kf2 Nxc2 22. Qg3 dxe4 and black wins; if 19. Qd3 e5 20. Be3 Nc5 and again black wins) 19…Nxe2+ 20. Kf2 Nd4 21. fxe6 fxe6 22. Ngf3 Nxc2 or 22…Nxf3 and black wins. So as strange as it seems, 18….Nd4!! wins in all lines!

19. Nxf7? The wrong sacrifice. The game goes from a white win to a draw in terms of evaluation. The right move, 19. fxe6 is crushing: 19…Bxf4 20. exf7+ Ke7 21. exd5+ Be5 22. dxc6 and black has to give up.

19… Kxf7 20. fxe6+ Kg8 Now it is about equal.

21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. exd5? A losing mistake. Correct is 22. exd7 Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Qh4+ (23… Nd4 24. Qd3) 24. Kg1 Qh2+ with a perpetual.

22… Qxh2+ 23. Kf2 Nd4 (23… Qh4+ 24. Kg1 Nd4 25. Qd3 Ne5! When the knights dance like this, the party is over for white. For example, 26. Qe4 Qh2+ 27. Kf2 Rh4 28. Nf3 Nexf3.

24. Qe4 Rf8+ 25. Ke1 Nf6 Correct is 25… Rh4 to involve everything in the attack. This move wins easily.

26. Qxd4 Qxg2 27. e7 Re8 28. d6 Rh2 29. Nc4 29. Qe3 was”relatively best” but with a little care black can destroy white’s passed pawns: 29… Bc8 30. Rf2 Qg1+ 31. Nf1 Rxf2 32. Qxf2 Qxf2+ 33. Kxf2 Ne4+ does the trick.

29… Qe2# 0-1

Here’s another one, played February 11, 2008 (also on ICC).

GM Dejan Pikula (“Kipi”) – aries2 ICC 5-minute, February 2008

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. g4 Nc6 7. g5 Nd7 8. Rg1

I direct readers to my Foxwoods 2008 post for a discussion of a game I had as black vs GM Becerra starting from this point.

8…Nde5 For some reason, in the Foxwoods 2008 game, I played 8…Nb6?! (more passive) against Becerra.  I gained a draw only with difficulty.

9. Rg3!? A very rare sideline. We have an example here with 9. Nb3. Black can respond 9… h6!? 10. gxh6 g6 11. Bg5 and now a very funny line here is 11… f6! 12. Bd2 Bxh6 13. f4 f5!! 14. fxe5 Qh4+ 15. Ke2 Qh5+ 16. Kf2 Qh4+ forcing a draw, since 17. Rg3?? f4 wins for black. In the game, black played 11…Qb6? and lost in 34 moves, Kedziora,C-Merz,H/Goch 1991.


Position after 9. Rg3!? – A Rare Sideline

9… Nxd4 It might be stronger to wait with 9… Be7 10. h4 O-O 11. Be3 Na5!? 12. b3 d5 13. Qd2 Nac6 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. O-O-O Qa5 16. Kb1 Bb4 and black is all right.

10. Qxd4 Nc6 11. Qd1 Putting the queen offside with 11. Qa4 Bd7 12. Be3 a6 13. a3 b5 14. Qb3 Be7 15. O-O-O Na5 16. Qa2 , although a computer line, looks very strange.

11… a6 12. Be3 Be7? Correct is 12… b5 13. a3 Qa5 14. Qd2 b4 15. Ne2 Bd7 16. Nd4 Rb8 17. Be2 Be7 18. h4 O-O 19. Kf1 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 e5 21. Ba7 Rb7 and black is OK.

13. Qh5! g6 14. Qh6 Qa5 15. Qg7 Not the best. White should wait for this and play 15. O-O-O Bf8 16. Qh4 b5 17. Kb1 b4 18. Ne2 Be7 19. f4 Bb7 20. Nd4 and he has an edge.

15… Qe5 16. Qxe5 dxe5


Position after 16…dxe5. White should eliminate black’s two bishops.

17. O-O-O?! Another inaccuracy. White should play 17. Na4! b5 18. Nb6 Rb8 19. Nxc8 Rxc8 20. c3 Na5 21. a4 Nc4 22. axb5 axb5 23. Bxc4 bxc4 24. Kd2! and nurse a small edge in the ending – the queenside pawn majority will prove troublesome.

17… b5! Ruling out Na4 to b6.

18. h4 h6 19. f4 Black can handle 19. gxh6 Bf8 20. h5 gxh5 21. h7 Rxh7 22. Rg8 f6 23. Bc5 Ne7.

19… hxg5 20. hxg5 exf4 21. Bxf4 Bb7 22. Re1?! Safer is 22. Bg2.

22… O-O-O! Of course! Now black has a big initiative.

23. Bd3 Rh4 24. Rf1 Rxf4 It’s more practical to wait and play 24… Bc5 25. a3 Bd4.

25. Rxf4 Bd6 26. Rgf3 Stronger is 26. Ne2 Bxf4+ 27. Nxf4 Ne5 28. Rh3 and white is holding.

26… Bxf4+ 27. Rxf4 Ne5 A beautiful horse!

28. Kd2 Rh8 29. Ke3 Rh5 30. Be2 Rxg5 31. Kf2 f5 32. a4 b4 33. Na2 a5 34. c3 Bxe4 The rest is not hard.

35. cxb4 Rg2+ 36. Ke1 g5 37. Rf2 Rg1+ 38. Kd2 If 38. Rf1 Rxf1+ 39. Kxf1 Bd5 and black wins.

38… g4 39. bxa5 g3 40. Rf1 Rxf1 41. Bxf1 g2 41… f4 42. Nc3 f3! wins too.

42. Bxg2 Bxg2 43. b4 f4 44. a6 Nc4+ 45. Ke2 e5 46. b5 e4 47. Nb4 e3 48. a5 f3+ 49. Kd3 f2 50. Kxc4 f1=Q+ 51. Kc5 e2 52. b6 e1=Q 53. b7+ Bxb7 54. axb7+ Kxb7 0-1