Posts Tagged ‘Hess’

The Fabulous 10’s: Berkeley Chess International 2011

January 13, 2011

Return to Forever

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

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

Super Happy Lucky Cat

The chess was a bit of a tough slog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly black is just winning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24.gxh4! Did black underestimate this?

24…Re6

White should seek improvements now because he is better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6

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

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

This is just unpleasant for black!

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

Black’s position is horrible.

22.Ne4

22. Nb5! looks completely crushing.

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

Black shows some signs of life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the next to last round, a disaster!

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

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

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

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

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

27.Nc6?

27. Bc7 followed by Nba5 is crushing.

Bxc6 28.Rxc6

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

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

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

Nb6 32.d5?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qb6 9.c3 e5!?

Maybe too sharp.

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

Not very impressive but black does have to develop.

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

There was no real reason for this passive regrouping.

Nh5 18.Nb3

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

c5 19.Qh3 Qe6

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

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

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

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

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

a3 42.Rd1+ Ke6 43.Nd5 b3!

Not a difficult tactic but nice.

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

Now it’s just mop-up.

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

Questions of Modern and not so Modern Opening Theory

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

Conrad Holt – Lev Milman Nimzo Indian

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

Too soon, junior

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

5…d5!

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

That game:

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

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

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

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

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

A very nice mating combination.

27…Kxg6 28.h5+ Kg7 29.Rg1# 1-0

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

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

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

14.cxd5 Qxd5

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

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

GM Golubev was impressed by this coincidental find.

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

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

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

9…d5 is the only testing move.

10.Bxd4 Be6

This is not a good line for black.

11.h4?!

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

Qa5 12.Qg5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pleasant for White!

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

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

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

Critical Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qc7 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5

Starting Point

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

Rfc8 14. Rc1!

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

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

15. g4 b5 16. c4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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The Fabulous 10s: Weirdness in St Louis (US Championship Round 2)

May 15, 2010

Round 2 Jitters

The official St Louis chess club web page says (in a caption of a photo of Kraai wearing an old-timey hat),

“GM Jesse Kraai played the higher-rated GM Varuzhan Akobian to a draw in round two.”  As a good citizen, I wrote it so they could correct it.

Weirdly, Kraai missed a good chance to resist at the very end!

Check it out:

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Akobian, Varuzhan”]
[Black “Kraai, Jesse”]
[Result “1-0”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 Why on earth would Kraai play a Benoni, an opening antithetical to his style?  Just a rhetorical question.  Look at the problems Akobian had with solid Slav’s in the World Team! However, it worked out well for black up to a point given white’s bizarre moves… let’s see it….

4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Nd2 a6 11. a4 Nbd7 12. Nc4 Ne5 13. Na3 Bd7 14. Bf4 Nh5 15. Bxe5?! Chess is not so easy.  This should offer nothing.

15…Bxe5 16. Nc4 b5 16…Nf6 is fine for black.  Nothing wrong with the text move.

17. Nxe5 Rxe5 18. e4 Re8 19. Re1 Nf6 I think most routine Benoni players would immediately go for 19…b4! 20. Nb1 f5! 21. Nd2 Nf6! which is completely fine for black.   We should ask Vugar Gashimov what he’d do.

20. Qd2 Qb6?! 20…Ng4! is strong.  After 21. f4 Qb6! black is in no way worse.  However, both players keep playing second-rate moves and a strange roller-coaster ensues.

21. a5 Qd8 22. f4 b4 23. Nd1 Qb8 24. Nf2 Ra7 25. h3? Too slow.  25. Re3!

25…Bc8 26. Re3 26. Nd3!

26…Rae7 27. Rae1 Bb7 27…Nd7!

28. b3 Qd8 29. Kh2 29. e5! and take back on e5 with a rook is quite good for white.

29…Qa8 30. Qb2? 30. e5! is crushing.  It’s very unusual for Akobian to make so many second-rate moves in one game.

30….Nxd5! 31. Ng4 Nxe3???

31…Nc3! and quite amazingly white is held to a small plus after 32. Nf6+ Kf8 33. Nxe8 Qxe8.  For example, 34. Qd2 Qd8 35. e5 Bxg2 36. exd6 Rxe3 37. Qxe3 Qxd6! (37….Bc6?? 38. Qxc5!) and white will have to work hard.

To account for this blunder, Black said he was bothered by his premature draw in round 1.  It’s a long tournament!

32. Nh6+ 1-0

Deathly Hex Hat - must burn it

The hat looks like a Greg Shahade Porkpie special. It’s gotta go. 🙂   I suggest the Lucky Pen (Fedorowicz won the NY Open once with a Lucky Pen!) instead.  It will get Kraai on a lengthy winning streak.

One More Game from Round 2

Further chaos on a higher board…

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.1”]

[White “Nakamura, Hikaru”]
[Black “Hess, Robert L”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “A17”]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. a3 Bxc3 6. Qxc3 O-O 7. b4 d6 8. Bb2
b6 9. g3 Bb7 10. Bg2 Nbd7 11. O-O Rc8 12. d3 Rc7?!
Gearing up to a faulty idea.

Example better line: 12… h6 13. e4 Qe7 14. Rfe1 Rfe8 15. b5 Ra8 16. a4 a5! and it’s OK for black.

13. e4 Qa8 14. Qd2 Rfc8 15. Nh4 b5? This doesn’t work at all.   American juniors almost always have a very tough thing doing nothing in particular.   And, among modern GMs, active Walter Browne lost a lot of games lashing out like this.

16. cxb5 c4 17. dxc4 Bxe4 18. f3 Bb7 19. Rfc1(?!) Easily winning was 19. Qxd6 Rxc4 20. Rf2 Bd5 21. Rd1 and white dominates.
19… Rxc4 20. Rxc4 Rxc4 21. Bf1 Rc8 22. Qxd6 h6
22… Bxf3 looks like a better try.  Now white is totally winning again, but the game is not free of further adventures – see the weird reciprocal blunder on move 33.

23. Rc1 Rxc1 24. Bxc1 g5 25. Ng2 Bxf3 26. Be3 Nb6 27. Bd4 Qd5 28. Qxd5 Nfxd5 29. Ne1 Bd1 30. Nd3 f6 31. Nb2 Bb3 32. Bg2 Kf7 33. Kf2? A serious lapse that is answered by a blunder in return.  Crushing was 33. Bxd5! with the study-like point:  33… exd5 34. a4! Nxa4 35. Bxa7! and wins, very nice!

33… e5?? A really bad blunder.  33… Nc8!  and black can hope for a draw.  For example, 34. a4 Nxb4 35. Bb7 Nd6 36. Bf3 Nc8 37. Bh5+ Kg7 38. a5 Nd5 39. Be8 Nc7 40. Bd7 Nd6 41. Bxa7 Ndxb5 42. Bb8 Bd5 and white has a tiny edge.

34. Bxd5+ Bxd5 35. Bxb6 axb6 36. Na4 f5 37. Nxb6 Ke6 38. a4 If you are curious, yes, 38. Nxd5 wins too.

38…f4 39. a5 Bh1 40. Kg1 Bf3 41. a6 e4 42. Nc4 e3 43. b6 1-0

Let’s See One More

Moving back to a lower board, more jitters!

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.8”]

[White “Bhat, Vinay S”]
[Black “Kudrin, Sergey”]

[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D89”]

This game featured some incredible and very difficult to find missed opportunities for white behind the scenes.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8.
Ne2 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Be3 Bg4 11. f3 Na5 12. Bd3 cxd4 13. cxd4 Be6 14. d5 Bxa1
15. Qxa1 f6 16. Bh6 Re8 17. Qd4 Bd7 18. e5
Not a very impressive line, white is soon put in the position of having to find only moves to equalize.

Qb6 19. Qxb6 axb6 20. e6 Ba4 21. Nc3
b5 22. Nxb5?
The first miss.  The brilliant 22. d6!! exd6 23. Re1!  establishes enough domination to hold the balance.  For example, 22…Nc6 (23… Nc4 24. Nd5 f5 25. f4 Kh8 26. Nf6 Nb2 27. Bf1 Rec8 28. a3 b4 29. axb4 Nc4 30. Bd3 Bb5 31. e7 d5 32. Nxd5 Be8) 24. Nd5 f5 25. Bf4 Ne5 26. Bxe5 dxe5 27. Rxe5 Kg7 28. Nc7 and draws.  The maximum coordination established by 22. d6!! is truly remarkable.

22… Red8 23. Nc3 Bc6 24. Be4 Be8 25. Rb1 Rac8 26. Bd2 Nc4 27. Be1 f5? A serious blunder!

27…Nd6 leaves black better.   I can only guess black didn’t see white’s possible reaction.

A Missed Miracle

28. Bd3? Oh no!  White misses a truly incredible shot.   But it takes deep calculation and a keen sense of adventure to take the plunge on it…. do you see it?

It’s 28. Rxb7!! fxe4 29. fxe4 and feast your eyes on this domination!   White is a full rook down… well he has some pawns…. but here’s the kicker – he’s not worse!

First of all, the lame 29…Kf8? loses to  the nice “carom billiards shot” 30. Bh4.
Secondly, 29… g5 30. Rxe7 Bg6 31. Bf2 Re8 32. Rd7 Ne5 33. Bd4 Rxc3 34. Bxe5 is fine for white too. In no line is white worse.  But it was hard to see! The connected pawns set up a mighty force giving plenty of compensation for the oodles of lost material.  It’s really unusual to see how helpless black’s forces are.

28… Ne3! And white loses prosaically.  Too bad!

29. Rxb7 Nxd5 30. Nxd5 Rxd5 31. Be2 Re5 32. Kf1 Rxe6 33. Rb4 Bf7 34. a4 Rc2 35. Bd3 Rc1 36. Be2 Re5 37. Rd4 Be6 38. Kf2 Rc2 39. Rd2 Rxd2 40. Bxd2 Rd5 41. Be3 Kf8 42. Bb6 Rd2 43. Ke1 Rc2 44. f4 Bc4 45. Bf3 e6 46. g3 Rxh2 47. Bf2 Bd5 48. Bd1 Ke7 49. a5 Bb7 50. Kf1 Bg2+ 51. Ke2 Rh1 52. Kd2 Bb7 53. Bb6 h6 54. Be2 Ra1 55. Ke3 Ra3+ 56. Kd4 Rxg3 57. a6 Bxa6 58. Bxa6 h5 59. Ke5 h4 60. Bf2 Rh3 61. Bc4 Rh2 62. Bg1 Rg2 63. Bc5+ Kf7 64. Bxe6+ Kg7 65. Be7 Re2+ 66. Kd6 Rxe6+ 0-1

OK One More

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Round “2.7”]
[White “Shabalov, Alexander”]
[Black “Finegold, Benjamin”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D10”]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. b3 Bf5 6. Nf3 e6 7. Be2 Bb4 8. Bd2 Ba3
9. Nh4 Be4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Nf3 Nd7 12. O-O O-O 13. Be1 a5 14. Qc2 Qe7 15. Nd2
f5 16. Nb1 Bd6 17. f3 Nef6 18. Nc3 Kh8 19. Bf2 Rac8 20. Rad1 Qf7 21. Bd3 Qh5
22. Bg3 Bxg3 23. hxg3 Qg5 24. Qf2 Nh5(?!)

Very strong is the powerful and aesthetic central shot 24… Ne4!!.  White can only grovel to equalize after that move.  25. Nxe4 (I cannot resist showing a mating line after 25. Bxe4 fxe4 26. f4? Qf5 27. Ne2 Nf6 28. Qe1 Ng4 29. Qd2 Qh5 30. Rfe1 Qh2+ 31. Kf1 c5 32. Rc1 cxd4 33. exd4 e3 34. Qc3 g5! 35. Rc2 gxf4 36. gxf4 dxc4 37. bxc4 e5!! 38. dxe5 Qh1+ and already the computer sees a long forced mate, here it is for enjoyment:  39. Ng1 Rxf4+ 40. Ke2 Rd8 41. e6+ Kg8 42. Qd3 Qxg2+ 43. Kd1 Rxd3+ 44. Kc1 Qd2+ 45. Rxd2 exd2+ 46. Kd1 Nf2+ 47. Kc2 Rxc4+ 48. Kb2 Rb4+ 49. Kc2 dxe1=N+ 50. Kc1 Rd1mate!)   Returning to the better 25. Nxe4, 25… dxe4 26. Be2 Nf6 27. f4 Qg6 28. c5 equal.

The game move is actually not bad and white immediately blunders.

25. g4? What’s this? Shabba goes a little bonkers, losing a pawn for nothing.  25. Ne2 was necessary.

25…fxg4 26. f4 Qf6?
Any computer will tell you the “carom shot” 26… Qe7 27. g3 Qb4! is very strong with a distinct edge to black.

27. g3 c5? 28. cxd5 cxd4 29. Ne4! And black has self-destructed.  Too bad!
dxe3 30. Qxe3 Qh6 31. Nd6 exd5 32. Nxc8 Rxc8 33. Bf5 Qd6 34. Qe6 Qc5+ 35. Kh2
Nhf6 36. Rc1 Qf8 37. Rxc8 Qxc8 38. Qe7 h5 39. Re1 h4 40. Bxd7 hxg3+ 41. Kxg3
Qc3+ 42. Re3 Qc2 43. Bxg4 Qb1 44. Re1 Qd3+ 45. Qe3 Ne4+ 46. Kg2 1-0

The Fabulous 00s: The Opening Will Be the Modern Steinitz

May 15, 2009

Robert Hess’s self-declared weapon of choice is the Modern Steinitz as he stated in a recent Chess Life Online interview, “I’m not afraid to play that line (the Steinitz Deferred) against anyone..” It’s a curious preferred variation for a junior, but we have to remember that Kenny Regan used to like Bird’s Defense (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4).

Josh Friedel’s weapon of choice is 1. e4 although in recent times he’s tried a few other moves, following in Anand’s footsteps.  Let’s see what happened when they met at the US Championship.  The game in fact propelled Hess into a 4-way tie for the lead with 5/7.

GM Josh Friedel – IM (GM-elect) Robert Hess  US Championship Round 7, Modern Steinitz Varation, Ruy Lopez

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. O-O Bd7 6. d4!?

Decision Point

Decision Point

Already notable. 6. c3 is seen far more often by a factor of almost 3 to 1.  From Hess’s practice, we have  Krivenstov-Hess, Las Vegas 2006 with white simplifying and exchanging on e5 shortly:  6.c3 Nge7 7.d4 Ng6 8.Re1 Be7  9.Nbd2 h6 10.Nf1 Bg5 11.Ne3 Bxe3 12.Bxe3 0-0 13.dxe5  1/2.  Not very illuminating when white gives up trying after a few moves.  6. c3 does look to be the most principled and really shouldn’t lead to a quick draw.   However we have to assume that Friedel’s choice was based on significant human and computer prep time since Hess telegraphs this one, narrow, variation.

In a more recent Hess example with c2-c3, Yap chose the main alternate plan and closed the center quickly but came to a bad end, Yap-Hess World Open 2007:   6. c3 Nge7 7.d4 Ng6 8.d5 Nb8  9.Bxd7+ Nxd7 10.c4 Be7 11.Nc3 h6 12.Be3 Bg5 13.Qd2 Bxe3 14.Qxe3 Nf4 15.Ne2 Nxe2+ 16.Qxe2 0-0  17.b4 f5 18.exf5 Rxf5 19.Rac1 a5 20.a3 axb4 21.axb4 Ra3 22.Nd2 Qh4 23.g3 Qd4 24.Ne4 Nf6 25.Nxf6+ Rxf6 26.Rfd1 Qb6 27.Qb2 Qa6 28.Rd2 Rff3 29.Qb1 Rab3 30.Qg6 Qa3 31.Rdc2 Qxb4 32.c5 Rf7 33.cxd6 Qxd6 34.Qe6 Rb6 35.Qc8+ Kh7 36.Rxc7 Qxd5 37.Rxf7 Qxf7 38.Qg4 Qg6 39.Qe2 Rb1 40.Rxb1 Qxb1+ 41.Kg2 b5 42.Qxe5 b4 43.f4 Qc2+ 44.Kh3 Qc8+ 45.f5 b3 46.Qb5 Qc2 47.Qd5 b2 48.Qe6 Qc5 49.Qg6+ Kg8 50.Qe8+ Qf8 51.Qb5 Qf6 52.Kg2 Kh7 53.Kh3 Qd4 54.Qe8 Qb6 0-1.

Let’s return to the 6. c3 plan after we get through the Friedel game.

6…Nxd4!? Changing from Robson-Hess, SPICE Cup 2009, where black played 6…Nge7 7. d5 Nb8 8. Bxd7 Nxd7 9. c4 thus white not losing a tempo with c2-c3.  That game continued  9…Ng6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be3 h6 12. b4 Bg5 and now Robson came up lame with 13. Qd2?! Bxe3 14. fxe3?! Nh4 and white had nothing – the game was quickly drawn.   Instead, white should play the fairly evident 13. Nxg5! hxg5 and now decide between 14. c5!? and 14. g3!?.  In both cases, white has good chances for an opening edge. It is not suprising Hess seeks a different way in the current game. It is a natural assumption Friedel spent some time improving on Robson-Hess elaborating on 13. Nxg5!, so it’s very good that black deviated here.

7. Bxd7+ Qxd7 8. Nxd4 exd4 9. Qxd4 Ne7 Yes, white can claim a small edge here.

10. Nc3 Nc6 11. Qd3 Be7 12. Nd5 O-O 13. Bd2 Rae8 14. Bc3 Bd8

This is the first critical moment of the game.

Key Moment - What Rook goes where?

Key Moment - What Rook goes where?

15. Rfe1?! The question of which rook goes where is always difficult.  It’s likely white missed a chance here with the indicated 15. f4! f5 (what else?) 16. e5! (not 16.  Rae1? fxe4 = with the f4 pawn just sticking out) and this position offers white some initiative.  For example, 16…Re6 17. Rae1! Qf7 18. Qc4! Rfe8 19. Qb3! – an excellent sequence to keep a little something.  This line gives Friedel’s choice of 6. d4 support.

15…Ne5 16. Qg3 Ng6 17. Rad1 f6 18. h4?! Correct is just waiting and reshuffling with something like 18. Qd3 or 18. Bb4.

18…f5 19. exf5 Black is very happy after 19. h5 f4!

19…Qxf5 But now it’s just initiative for free for black, hitting white’s weak pawns.

20. Rxe8 Rxe8 21. Ne3 Qf7 21…Qh5 is also strong.

22. Rd4 h5 23. a4 Re6 24. a5 Bf6 24…c6! is good too.

25. Ra4?! 25. Rb4 c5! isn’t fun for white.  But he should have tried it as 26. Rc4! Rxe3 27. fxe3 Qxc4 28. Qxg6 holds.  The text leads to a very serious pawn structure weakening.

25…Bxc3 26. bxc3 Rf6 27. f3 A chance was 27. Rb4 c6 and try to confuse with 28. Qg5 (28…Rxf2 29. Rxb7) although 28…Nf4 keeps an edge.

27…Nf4 28. Kf2 Ne6?! 28…c6, idea ….d5, keeping N on f4, seems more accurate.

29. Rb4 Nc5 30. Qh3? The losing moment.  30. Qg5! held the position.

30…Qa2?! Strong, but computer likes 30…c6! even more since white is helpless to undertake anything at all after 31. Qc8+ Kh7.  For example, 32. Ke2 Qe7 with the idea of Qe5.

31. Kg3? It was no fun but white had to try the ending after 31. Qc8+ Kh7 32. Qxc7 Nd3+ 33. Ke2 Nxb4 34. cxb4 Qf7 35. Qxf7 Rxf7.  There are some faint hopes of survival.

31…Qa1 Too many threats.

32. Qc8+ Rf8 33. Qxc7 Qxc3 34. Rxb7 Qe1+ 35. Kh2 Nxb7 36. Qxb7 0-1

The Fabulous 00s: 1970s Theory in Keres Attack Still the Best

May 12, 2009

This just in from today’s US Championship:

IM (GM-elect) Robert Hess – GM Melikset Khachiyan   Keres Attack

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. g4 h6 7. Bg2 Nc6 8. g5 A very old lunge, a little bit schizophrenic. White starts slowly (7. Bg2) then switches gears and charges, splintering his own pawn structure. Khachiyan, an experienced GM, starts by playing the right moves.

8…hxg5 9. Bxg5 Bd7 10. Nb3 a6 11. Qe2 Be7 So far, so good.

12. h4

To Hide the Black King or Not?

To Hide the Black King or Not?

12…b5 This is fundamentally risky.  As solid Swedish GM Ulf Anderssen exquisitely showed in the 1970s, black should be hiding his king on the queenside then working on potential weaknesses caused by white’s early advances.  Very solid is 12…Qc7! 13. O-O-O O-O-O and now, for eample, 14. f4 is met by the effective 14…Nh5! aiming at g3.  15. Bxe7 Nxe7 16. Qf2 Kb8 is fully equal.  It’s a matter of personal preference, but I would enjoy playing that setup hoping to expose the negative side of white’s kingside pawn splintering. The text move hands black a permanent, difficult, task, with the king in the middle.  Maybe Khachiyan was too young (!) to properly recall Ulf’s grand efforts?   On the other hand, as the note to black’s 17th shows, he had a narrow path to stay balanced even with the risky king.  This move almost warrants a dubious ?! symbol but since it stays afloat with brave play, I will refrain.  It is indeed dubious if the player has less than peak energy levels that day.

13. a3 Nh5! The same motif as in the old Anderssen games.  Black is OK.

14. O-O-O White might as well try this pawn sacrifice which is totally riskless.

14…Bxg5+ 15. hxg5 Qxg5+ 16. Kb1 Ke7 Black’s king is secure for the time being, but one miscue will mean death (as occurred!). 16…g6 is a move here, but black still has that king placement problem.

17. Bf3

Horse should go back, not forward

Horse should go back, not forward

The key moment.  Black should stay compact.

17…Nf4?? Tempting but losing.  He had to play 17…Nf6. In that case, black is all right.  For example, 18. Rhg1 is met by the calm 18…Qf4 19. Rxg7 Ne5 and it’s balanced.  Black will play Rag8 next to get rid of the intruder.

18. Qd2 Qe5 19. Nd5+! Crushing. The rest is agony.  It’s impossible to say what black missed tactically but it must have been something simple.

19…exd5 20. exd5 Rxh1 21. Rxh1 Nd8 22. Re1 f6 23. Rxe5+ fxe5 24. Nd4 Rc8 25. c3 g5 26. Qe3 Kf6 27. Ne2 Bf5+ 28. Ka1 Nxe2 29. Bxe2 Rc5 30. Qf3 e4 31. Qh1 Nf7 32.  Qd1 Ne5 33. Qd4 g4 34. b4 Rc8 35. a4 bxa4 36. Bxa6 Rh8 37. b5 e3 38. b6 Rh1+ 39. Ka2 exf2 40. Qxf2 Rh8 41. b7 Rg8 42. Qb6 Nd7 43. Qxd6+ Kg5 44. Bd3 1-0

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: Y vs P

April 26, 2009

From Jennifer Shahade’s interview of Robert Hess, we learn:

“JS: Where do you want to go to college?
RH:I will apply early action to Yale.

JS: Why Yale?
RH:My sister goes there and my dad went there. I liked it when I visited.”

Hmm. This sounds like a blunder, or to be less strong, a “?!” move in chess terms.  I have great respect for Yale graduate programs, but Robert is going to be a freshman undergrad. Let’s step back and consider some items.

Why is Princeton rated higher than Yale undergraduate? Because we have smaller sections and we don’t allow graduate students to teach them! As a former graduate student, I can attest they can be a total nightmare (i.e. a ripoff considering the gigantic tuition at both places).  The last time I checked US News and World Report, Princeton had held onto its #1 ranking.  I think Stanford is usually right behind, Yale is somewhere…. else.  Update:  USN&WR ’09 now has Harvard (ewww!) #1, Princeton #2, Yale #3, MIT (What? They don’t read!) #4, Stanford #5.  I’m ewwwing Harvard because I think they are the biggest offender in the top 5 in terms of large, mediocre, sections.  It’s a whole different ballgame in graduate school, of course.

I know that often it’s the parents footing the bill, but still:  consider you’re a giant lecture hall in Section 13 of Econ 101 with 100 other gaping freshman and at the podium, you don’t have a professor, you have some grad-student-with-attitude.  These large and intensely mediocre sessions, to my mind, are just a ripoff.  In chess, it’s as if you paid $35,000 per year to hear Kasparov talk about the Gruenfeld and instead you got Pandolfini or Heisman.

Where do you freeze to death most easily?  Science Hill, Yale, winter months, with the whipping cross winds that blow through that ghastly construction.

Which institution features a moronic secret society “Skull and Bones” whose main achievement seems to be grave robbing?  Sssh, it’s a secret.

Where can you hear gunshoots routinely shattering the still of the night?  New Haven, CT.  Where can you hear the desperate cries of the bourgeois pierce the night when they didn’t get enough cinnamon on their cappucino?  Princeton, NJ.

Which one is closer to Foxwoods? OK, advantage Yale.  But Princeton is close to Atlantic City, there should be a competing chess tournament there!

Where did Einstein work?  Princeton.  OK in the Institute for Advanced Study, which is like a field trip to a featureless meadow.

Cheap liquor stores:  huge advantage to New Haven.

Pretentious “eating clubs” (not a Greek fraternity, in  most cases more snooty and absurd except for my hippie enclave “Terrace Club”) – monopoly, Princeton.

We should ask Ken Rogoff what he thinks.  He went to Yale undergrad but then taught at Princeton for a while.  Wait… he was the economic adviser of John McCain, he might need some psych evals after that experience!    Note to Rogoff, it is economically a bad idea – no, let me restate that- hara-kiri –  to “stay in Iraq a 100 years” unless we want to nationalize their oil, which we did try albeit too transparently, we got caught – with Bremer.  This is precisely the moment where the economic adviser could have “stepped up” (Sports Metaphor) and steered ol’ McCain in a more palatable direction.  But noooooo.

I’ll be the first to support the notion that alumni relatives, making the applicant a ‘legacy admit’, often make the decision a simple one.  Yet, in this case, I’m afraid the Princeton Tiger is mauling the Yale Bulldog in the undergraduate arena.  They have the right idea:  move the grad student to “Precepts”, an optional study section.   Smart!   Now, granted, some professors are duds.  One Princeton math professor threw down his chalk and sputtered in broken English  “I here to teach you… not to answer you question!”   Humorous in retrospect, but perhaps a miniature rip-off to the student.  Still, tuition at that time was $6,400 per year (!).  Now, we have the right to expect decent teaching in ALL our courses!  Or I would think.  Maybe every new crop of freshmen is so clueless that they think the big, mediocre, section is just a kind of ‘hazing’.

Enough of this bummer talk

Yale and Harvard undergrad is such an assembly line bummer topic.  Let’s move on to an “upper”, the 2009 Canadian Open!

93. vrekhson (03:28 26-Apr-09 EDT): Dear IM Ginzburg my name is Vlad Rekhson and I am one of the organizers of the 2009 Canadian Open Championship in Edmonton, Alberta between July 11-19.  This year the event will feature players like: GMs Shirov, Adams and more…  You may find more information  on http://www.edchess.ca and you may contact me at:
94. vrekhson (03:29 26-Apr-09 EDT): vrekhson@yahoo.ca

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