Posts Tagged ‘Keith Arkell’

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!