Posts Tagged ‘Robson’

The Fabulous 10s: Copper State International

June 10, 2010

Copper State, Version 2!

The second installment of Danny Rensch’s Copper State International was a big success, especially for norm hunters.  The event was made possible by the generous support of John Lalonde and his Abstrax, Inc. playing site in Mesa, AZ.

Mackenzie Molner made a 2nd GM norm with a superb score of 6/9 in the “A” group round-robin and what a bunch of games he played!  In the “B” Swiss, numerous norms were made too.  All the games posted here are from the Monroi website.

GM Timur Gareev (left) watches as Mackenzie Molner shows him the last round Bartholomew-Molner game that gave Mackenzie a GM norm

Here’s Molner’s last round game, a romantic 19th century Evans Gambit!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Black “Bartholomew, John”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2439”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2451”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4

GM Nigel Short did much to bring this opening back at top-level.  Kasparov has also toyed with it.

4…Bxb4 As is well known, this gambit must be accepted.  Declining gives white an edge.

5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.O-O Bb6 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.Nc3 Nf6 12.Bg5 c6 13.Rad1 Qe5 14.Bxf7 Kd8 15.Ne2 Bc5 16.Bf4 Qxe4 17.Qg3 Rf8 18.Nc3 Qf5 19.Rde1 d6 20.Qxg7 Nd7 21.Bg5 Kc7 22.Re7 Bd4 23.Qxf8 Qxg5 24.Ne4 Qf4 25.Qe8 Be5 26.Ng3 Kb6 27.Rxd7 Bxd7 28.Qxd7 Rf8 29.Bh5 d5 30.Qxh7 Qd2 31.Bf3 Bxg3 32.hxg3 Ka6 33.Qe7 1-0

Weirdly, earlier in the tournament Bartholomew playing black lost to Stopa in… a similar Evans.  But in that game Stopa was dead lost and only Bartholomew’s time trouble made him go wrong.

And from Round 3, a game that won Molner the brilliancy prize (this prize covered both A and B sections):

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.05”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Shankland, Samuel”]
[Black “Molner, Mackenzie”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2507”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2439”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5?!

The Blumenfeld “enjoys” a terrible reputation theoretically.

5.dxe6 This is one of those gambits that White does not need to take. In fact, the text move gives Molner what he wants; activity.

Strong, for example, is the straightforward 5. Bg5! (long known to be a dangerous weapon) 5…Qa5+  (the turgid 5…b4 is tougher, but leads to ugly formations where white has a2-a3 at his convenience) 6. Nc3! – surprisingly strong and not the focal point of most Blumenfeld theory.

Quick Development to Challenge the Blumenfeld

Now, it’s not fun for black.  For example, the impulsive 6…Ne4? (6…b4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4 is an uphill struggle for black with white enjoying a nagging plus) and now 7. cxb5! as white SHOULD have played in Kaidanov versus Robson, US Ch 2010, and other games.  White is better in all lines after 7. cxb5!.  This rather little known line is quite powerful versus the Blumenfeld.  One example line: 7. cxb5 a6 8. Bd2! (always, this) 8…Nxd2 9. Nxd2 axb5 10. e3! (not 10. e4? c4=, as occurred in a prior game) 10..c4 11. Qh5! – a devastating blow.  White wins after all moves, including the tricky try 11…Ba3!? 12. dxe6 dxe6 13. Nxc4! and the smoke clears with white a clean pawn ahead.

5…fxe6 6.cxb5 a6 7.bxa6 Bxa6 8.g3 Nc6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.e4? (10. Bh3!?) 10…Qb6 11.Be2 White’s 8. g3 now does not make sense at all.

11…Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Nd4 13.Nxd4?! (13. Qd1 Nb3! 14. Rb1 and white holds) 13…cxd4 14.Nd1 Qa5?! (14…d5! 15. exd5 Bb4+! is very strong)

15.Bd2 Bb4 16.f3 O-O 17.a3 Bxd2 18.Qxd2 Qa6 19.Qxd4 d5 20.e5 Nd7 21.Kf2? White misses a great chance for an edge with 21. f4! – for example, 21. f4! Rac8 22. Ne3! Nc5 23. Rd1 and now 23…Ne4? is met by 24. Nxd5!, winning for white.

21…Rac8 22.Ne3 Nc5 23.Rae1 Nb3? A serious blunder in an otherwise snappy game.  23…Qd3! is crushing. 24. Rd1 Ne4+ 25. Kg2 Rc2+!! forces mate!

24.Qd1 Qb7 Now white is right back in the game!

25.f4? The right move, not easy to find, is 25. Rhf1!

25…d4 26.Nc2 g5! Black’s attack flares up again!

27.Nb4 gxf4 28.g4? The final miscue. 28. Rhf1 was relatively best with a small black edge.

28…d3! Now Molner is in total control.

29.Qf3 Qb6+ 30.Kg2 Nd2 31.Qxd3 Qb7+ 32.Kh3 Nf3! Winning.

33.g5 Rcd8 34.Qa6 Nxg5+ 35.Kg4 Qf3+ Forces mate after 36. Kxg5 Rf5+.  A very imperfect game but exciting and unusual.


A very creative treatment in the Blumenfeld and an impressive relentless hunt of white’s king!

More Chess

A rout by IM Pruess playing black over a strong GM!

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Panchanathan, Magesh”]
[Black “Pruess, David”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2549”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2361”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Qc7 8.g3 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.Bf4 Nfd7 11.Bg2 g5 12.Bxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.O-O Be6 15.a5 a6 16.e4 h5 17.Nd5 O-O-O 18.f4 gxf4 19.gxf4 Qg7 20.Nb6 Kc7 21.Qe2 Bb4 22.f5 Rd2 23.Qf3 Rg8 24.Qf4 Rd6 25.Qf3 Rd3 0-1

A last round rout by Pruess over the tournament leader GM Fridman!  Fridman had been leading by a full point but this shocking defeat sent him back to a three-way tie for first.  Fridman recovered and won the blitz playoff (over GMs Kacheishvili and Kekelidze).

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.09”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Fridman, Daniel”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2654”]
[BlackTitle “GM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4

As Pruess tells it, he wanted to see black play 3….e6 as he was in the mood to just play that closed game.  In the game, Fridman goes a much riskier route (Fridman has even written about this in magazines) but gets annihilated!    3….Qb6!? is all the rage and favored by Georgian grandmasters.  For example,  the recent game annotated in New In Chess, Nepomniatchi – Jobava saw 3…Qb6!? 4. a4!? with insanity.

4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.O-O Ngf6 8.Bg5 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Qb6 10.Nd2 Qxd4 11.Kh1 b5 12.Bb3 Be7 13.Rad1 Qb6 14.Qf5 Rd8 15.Nf3 g6 16.Nxe5!

It’s so pleasing to land an elementary and decisive tactical blow like this versus a tough professional who competes in the top German Bundesliga!  How often does it happen?  Not often!

Rf8 17.Qf4 Nxe5 18.Qxe5 Rxd1 19.Rxd1 Ng8 20.Bxe7 Nxe7 21.Qd6 Rg8 22.Qd7 Kf8 23.Bxf7 Kxf7 24.Rf1 Kg7 25.Qxe7 Kh6 26.Rf3 1-0

Here’s a smooth effort by GM Amanov, a contender for best game prize.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “5”]
[White “Amanov, Mesgen”]
[Black “Bercys, Salvijus”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2479”]
[WhiteTitle “GM”]
[BlackELO “2427”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Qc2 h5 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.Rad1 e5 15.dxe5 Qe7 16.e6 Qxe6 17.Rd6 Qe7 18.Rfd1 Nc5 19.R6d2 Be5 20.b4 cxb3 21.axb3 Bxg3 22.hxg3 a5 23.e5 Qxe5 24.Bxb5 O-O 25.Bc4 Kg7 26.Re2 Qf6 27.Re3 Ba6 28.Bxa6 Rxa6 29.Rf3 Qg6 30.Qe2!

Incredibly strong.  The rook on a6 is tied to the knight on c5; the knight cannot move, but the queen by force picks up the knight!  Black cannot defend it!

Kg8 31.Qc4 1-0

And the actual winner of the Best Game prize was this nice game by veteran IM Nikolai Andrianov, coming off a three year period of no chess!   His victim, talented young player IM Jacek Stopa, was one of the pre-event favorites by rating, but had a horrible start.  He recovered somewhat in the 2nd half.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Andrianov, Nikolai”]
[Black “Stopa, Jacek”]
[Result “1-0”]
[WhiteELO “2409”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2474”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.Nf3 e6 2.b3 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 f5 5.Bb2 Nf6 6.O-O Be7 7.d4 O-O 8.c4 Qe8 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.d5 Na6 11.Nd4 Qg6 12.Nxe4 fxe4 13.dxe6 c5 14.Nf5 Qxe6 15.Nxg7 Qc6 16.Nh5 Bg5 17.h4 Be7 18.e3 Rf7 19.Qd2 h6 20.Rad1 Rd8 21.Qc3 Kh7 22.Rd5 Qe6 23.Nf4 1-0

My own play was unconvincing.  I made  solid draws as black vs GM Yermolinsky and IM Altounian but early on I had an incredible miss, one that I definitely thought about after it was over.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.04”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Troff, Kayden”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteELO “2393”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2201”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d6 7.d5 Ne5 8.Nxe5 Bxe5 9.Be2 Bd7?! 10.O-O Rc8?! 11.Be3 Qa5? This queenside demonstration greatly worsens black’s position, losing multiple tempi, and these are important tempi helping white with the break that he wants, c4-c5.

12.a3 Nf6? Leaving the bishop out to dry.

13.b4 Qc7 14.Rc1 a5 15.f4 White also had Nb5-d4 with a huge advantage.

Bxc3 16.Rxc3 axb4 17.axb4 h5 18.Bd4 With this forever bishop, white is winning easily.

Rg8 19.Re1 Kf8 20.Bf1 Bf5 21.Rce3 h4 Black is making rather aimless moves all over the board.  Well, he has to, he’s almost in total zugzwang already. But an important principle comes to mind:  if black has played very weakly so far (far below his published rating) he has to be good at something!  And that something in this game is resourcefulness in lost games.  Still, the position has put black well over the edge into losing territory.  White’s next elementary tactical blow requires only a small amount of accuracy.

22.Rxe7 One way to win. Another elementary win is 22. Qe2 and e7 collapses.    I am not sure why I did not look at the obvious 22. Qe2.  After 22. Qe2 black has to resign.

22…Qxe7 23.Rxe7 Kxe7 24.Qe1+ Ne4 25.Bd3

25. c5! wins.    25. c5! Rge8 26. Qxh4+ Kf8 27. cxd6 and black collapses. The text also wins.

25…Rge8 26.Qxh4+? What a bad move! The first simple miss.  26. Bxe4 Kf8 (forced) 27. Qxh4 Rxe4 28. Bf6! Ke8 and now do you see it?  I thought black’s king was running so I didn’t go for this line, but here white wins easily. The answer is the nice quiet move 27. Qh7! (I overlooked this) and the threat of Qg8+ and Qxf7 is unstoppable and wins immediately.

26…Kd7 Black takes his chance to run in another direction but this should have been hopeless.  For some reason, I started playing quickly for no reason and let him totally escape. Quite an upsetting turn of events.  From this point forward, my calculation ability was non-existent!

27.c5! Of course.  White is still winning.  So far, so good.

27…dxc5 28.Bb5+? White doesn’t understand that better is 28. bxc5! Nxc5 29. Bb5+ Kd6 30. g4! and wins. For example, 30…Bd7 31. Qf6+! (this is why white needs to get the black knight away from e4!) 31…Kc7 32. Bxc5! and wins.

28…Kd6 29.Be5+?? A terrible blunder.  If white had paused a little, there are two wins remaining.  Win 1.  29. Bxc5+ Nxc5 30. Qf6+ (this resource was never on my radar) 30…Kxd5 31. Bxe8 Rxe8 32. Qxf7+ and wins.  Win 2.   29. bxc5+ Nxc5 30. g4! and wins decisive material.

29…Rxe5 What am I doing? 30.fxe5 Kxd5 31.g4? Yet another terrible move blitzed out.  31. Qe7 keeps good winning chances.  For example, 31. Qe7 cxb4 32. Qxf7+ and white will also pick up b4 and should convert the win.

31…Be6 Now all the wins have disappeared.  What an amazing number of bad blunders to not win!

32.Qe7 cxb4 33.Bd3 Kxe5 34.Qxb4 Nd6 35.Kf2 Bc4 36.Qe1 Kd5 37.Qe3 Bxd3 38.Qxd3 Ke6 39.h4 Rc4 40.Kf3 b5 41.h5 gxh5 42.gxh5 Nf5 43.Qd8 Rh4 44.Qe8 1/2-1/2

In a later round I played another little talented kid and  played better, but only won one rating point.  That’s the problem playing little kids.

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.07”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Gurevich, Daniel”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2007”]
[WhiteTitle “”]
[BlackELO “2393”]
[BlackTitle “IM”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 a6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 d5 6.d3 Nf6 7.e5 Nd7 8.Bg2 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.g4 b5 11.Qe1 b4 12.Ne2 f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.g5 Nh5 15.Qh4 g6 16.Ng3 Ng7 17.Bd2 Bd6

White never took his chance to play c2-c3 or c2-c4 in the early stages of the game, moves he needed to get chances.

18.h3 Ra7 19.Nh2 h5! Stopping the obvious threat of Nh2-g4. Now white’s king side pawns are fixed awkwardly. 20.Nf3 Raf7 21.Ne2 Nf5 22.Qf2 Qc7 23.Nh4 Nxh4 24.Qxh4 Nd4! Simple chess.  The f4 point collapses and the game.

25.Nxd4 cxd4 26.Rf2 Bxf4 27.Bxf4 Rxf4 28.Qg3 h4 29.Qh2 Qe5 30.Rxf4 Rxf4 31.Kh1 Qxg5 32.Rg1 Qf6 33.Re1 Kg7 34.Qg1 Rf2 35.Qh2 Qf4 36.Qxf4 Rxf4 37.Rc1 e5 38.c4 dxc3 39.bxc3 Bf5 40.cxb4 Rxb4 41.Bxd5 Bxd3 42.Re1 Rb1 0-1

In the fourth round, I was astounded to see this discredited opening appear:

[Site “Mesa, Arizona”]
[Date “2010.06.06”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Pruess, David”]
[Black “Ravichandran, Siddharth”]
[Result “0-1”]
[WhiteELO “2361”]
[WhiteTitle “IM”]
[BlackELO “2454”]
[BlackTitle “”]
[Source “MonRoi”]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Qb6? Amazing brinkmanship and a move I thought was unplayable!  Joel Benjamin annotated the game Hess-Lapshun in US Chess Online but both players were not familiar with that.   In the online notes, the variation is just kaput for black. Ravichandran had apparently consulted some other theory source.  Ravichandran said after the game he wanted to catch white by surprise with this.  Well, it’s a shock for sure.

White starts out responding in the best way.

6.e5! Correct and natural enough.

6…Bc5 Black blitzed this out; he has no choice.

7.Be3!? This move is not bad.   Hess found the more forcing 7. Nd4-b5! and now Lapshun lost miserably with 7…Ng8.  In fact other players have lost this miniature too.  The f2 pawn is untakeable.  Why?  The variations are nice.

For fun, look at 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 (8. Kd2?? Qe3 mate would be embarrassing!) 8…Nd5 9. Nd6+ Ke7 10. Nxd5+ exd5 11. Qd5 Rf8 12. Bg5+f6 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Qe5+!! and forced mate!

For completeness, 7. Ndb5! Bxf2+ 8. Ke2 Ng4 9. h3! Ng4 and now white goes on a king walk to win: 10. Nd6+! Ke7 11. hxg4 Qf2+ 12. Kd3 Nc6 and now white can win a brilliancy prize: 13. Nf5+!! exf5 14. Nd5+ Kf8 15. Be3! and wins!  If black put his king on f8 in this line, white can vary with 13. Nce4! and wins a piece.

I asked Ravichandran after the game and he said he intended 7….a6.  Apparently his theoretical source points to that.  Well, it’s the best move!

Pruess said after the game (separately) he was concerned about the 7…a6 resource since 8. Nd6+ is not clear.

Some junior at the tournament ran 7….a6 through an engine and told me later on that 7…a6 8. Qf3! (a resource not seen by Pruess but known to his opponent) is strong.  Computer power! Nevertheless, 8. Qf3 Nd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. Nc3 Bb4! and black can fight on with a worse, but defensible, position.  What did we learn?  Not much, except that black in this game was successful with the early brinkmanship!

7…Nd5 8.Nxd5 exd5 9.Nf5? A big lemon.  White must have miscalculated something.

After the strong 9. Nb5! white can still fight for an edge.  9…Bxe3 10. fxe3 Qxe3+? 11. Qe2 is terrible for black. He loses after, e.g., 11…Qxe2+ 12. Bxe2 Na6 13. Nd6+ Ke7 14. O-O Rf8 15. Nf5+ and wins.  Needless to say, taking on e3 is not forced. 10..O-O 11. Qd4! leaves white with an edge but again black can defend.   Another example line:  9. Nb5! O-O 10. Bxc5 Qxc5 11. Qd2 a6 12. Nd6 Nc6 13. O-O-O with a white plus.

Qxb2 10.Nxg7 At this stage, it was impossible to realize the computer recommendation of 10. Bd4 is stronger with equal chances.

Kd8 11.Bg5+? The real losing move.  White must have been totally disoriented and thinking about earlier missed chances. After this white is just dead.  11. Be2 Bxe3 12. fxe3 and white can play that position and have good prospects to draw.  11. Be2 Bb4+? is bad: 12. Kf1 and black can’t take on e5 due to Bd4.

Kc7 12.Bf4  Qc3+ A lethal intermediate check well known to Sveshnikov lovers, this occurs in many early Be6 lines of the Sveshnikov forcing white to do acrobatics.

13.Bd2 The problem is that 13. Ke2 Qc4+ 14. Kf3 Qe4+ 15. Kg3 Bxf2+!  wins.

13…Qxe5 14.Be2 Qxg7 15.O-O d6 16.Bf3 Be6 17.c4 dxc4 18.Qa4 Nd7 19.Qb5 Rab8 20.Ba5 b6 21.Qc6 Kd8 22.Rad1 bxa5 0-1

So this dubious variation is marginally playable and in the game above, even netted black a quick victory!  It seems a little unjust.

Something Different: Endgame Quiz

Consider this position from Berczes-Horvath  Zalakarosi 2010:

Black to play.

Can black draw?   If so, how many drawing moves are there?

GM Alejandro Ramirez (center) recycles girls

The Fabulous 10s: Trying the Ugly at the US Championship

May 21, 2010

News Flash May 22, 2010

Listen to my Chess.FM Video of Game of the Day, Round 8, US Chess Championship, St. Louis.

I’ll be doing Round 9 tomorrow (Sunday) also.

It’s free for everyone, including non-ICC members.

When Ugly Goes Unpunished

Young GM Ray Robson let fly with a very ugly opening (a Bad Blumenfeld) against veteran GM Gregory Kaidanov, quickly reached a lost game as a result of his choice, and then Gregory uncharacteristically let him escape.   I have noticed a theme:  when Slav players try to learn a second opening, they often choose berserker openings that, let’s just say, give them a handicap.  Chairman Mao would have labeled Ray a “reckless adventurer” in this game giving Kaidanov numerous white to play and win puzzles. Let’s see it!

[Event “2010 U.S. Championship”]
[Site “Saint Louis”]
[Date “2010.05.20”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Kaidanov, Gregory”]
[Black “Robson, Ray”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “E10”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5 This opening is actually not so bad, it is really black’s 6th move that is a culprit.

5. Bg5 Qa5+ 6. Nc3 Ne4? A terrible line moving the knight twice for no gain.  Marginally better, but still ugly, is 6… b4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Ne4 Be7 9. Qd2 f5 10. Ng3 Bb7 11. e3 d6 12. Be2 and white enjoys a small but definite plus.6… bxc4 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Nd2 is also a pleasant white plus.

7. Bd2?

Not the right reaction. 7. cxb5!  refutes black’s 6th move.  7… Nxg5 (very instructive is the bust to 7… Bb7? which is 8. dxe6 fxe6 9. Bd2 Nxd2 10. Nxd2 d5 11. e4! and it’s totally lost for black as in Borovikov,V (2472)-Sharapov,E (2387)/Sevastopol 2000) 8. Nxg5 Be7 9. Qd2 and white has a big plus.   7…Nxc3 8. bxc3 Qxc3+ 9. Bd2 Qf6 10. e4 and white, again, has a big plus.

7… Nxd2 8. Nxd2 b4 9. Nce4?! 9. Nb3 is better.  The text gives black free tempi.

9…f5 10. Ng5 Be7 11. Ngf3 Bf6 12. Qb3 O-O 13. e4 Re8? Better is 13… d6.

14. e5 Bxe5 15. Nxe5 exd5 16. O-O-O Rxe5 17. cxd5 Ba6 18. Bxa6 Qxa6 19. Rhe1 Qf6 20. Nc4 Re4 21. f3 Rxe1 22. Rxe1 Na6 23. d6 Rc8? Over-sharp craziness.  This should lose in multiple ways.  Necessary was 23…Qd4.  Uncharacteristically, white gets very confused now, perhaps precisely due to the surfeit of wins?

24. Re7 Nb8 Black was hosed no matter what.  For example, 24…Kh8 25. Qe3 and wins.  Now it should all be over very soon.

Can white not win?

25. f4? The first perplexing miscue.  The elementary 25. Ne5+ c4  (black’s “point”) 26. Qxb4 wins in short order.

25… h6 26. Ne5+ c4 27. Qg3? White has a strange allergy to 27. Qxb4! winning.

For example, 27…c3 28. Qb3+ Kh7 29. Rf7! Qxd6 30. Rxg7+! Kxg7 31. Qf7+ Kh8 32. Ng6+ Qxg6 33. Qxg6 and white wins.

27… Nc6? A blunder in return. 28. Rf7? And a blunder in return! 28. Rxd7! wins immediately.

28… Qxe5 Forced, but this should lose.

29. fxe5 Kxf7 30. Qf4? Oh, no!  30. e6+! is a nice clearance motif that wins. 30… Kxe6 (30… dxe6 31. d7 Rd8 32. Qc7 loses trivially as a piece hangs) 31. Qxg7 Kxd6 32. Qxh6+ and white wins easily with the passed h-pawn.  Now black survives!   White, like Vince Carter, missed some free throws to clinch the game (at several moments!).

30… Ke6 31. Qxc4+ Kxe5 32. Kd2 Rf8 33. Qd3 g5 34. h4 gxh4 35. Qe3+ Kd5 36. Qf4 Rg8 37. Qxf5+ Kxd6 38. Qf4+ Kc5 39. Qe3+ Kb5 40. Qf3 Rg3 41. Qf2 d5 42. Ke1 d4 43. Qf5+ Kb6 44. Kf2 Re3 45. Qh5 1/2-1/2

And for Something Different

King’s Gambit Action from the online blitz qualifier for Dos Hermanas, earlier this year!

White is former World Junior Champion Ilya Gurevich.  Black is strong German GM Jan Gustafsson. The game was “just” a 3/0 blitz game, but interesting nonetheless!

[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2010.02.26”]
[Round “8”]
[White “junior”]
[Black “GodGusti”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ICCResult “Black resigns”]
[WhiteElo “2931”]
[BlackElo “2923”]
[Opening “KGA: Kieseritsky, Berlin defense”]
[ECO “C39”]
[NIC “KG.01”]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ne5 Nf6 6. d4 d6 7. Nd3 Nc6 8. c3 Nxe4 9. Bxf4 d5 10. Nd2 Bf5 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. Bxe5 f6 14. Bb5+ c6 15. O-O fxe5 16. Rxf5 cxb5 17. Rxe5+ Be7 18. Qxg4 Qd6 19. Re1 Kd8 20. Qxe4 {Black resigns} 1-0

The Fabulous 10s: Computer-Assisted Dragons

January 27, 2010

Or, Maybe, Computers NOT Assisting on Dragons in Holland

Random, bizarre move sequences appear on the board!  Or, maybe computers were NOT working – check the horrific blunder pair on moves 17 and 18!

[Event “Corus C”]

[Site “Wijk aan Zee NED”]

[Date “2010.01.26”]

[Round “9”]

[White “Li Chao”]

[Black “Robson,R”]

[Result “1-0”]

[WhiteElo “2604”]

[BlackElo “2570”]

[EventDate “2010.01.16”]

[ECO “B77”]

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. Bc4 Bd7 10. h4 Ne5

Since Robson was leading the tournament, this opening choice was a terrible idea! Why don’t American players have safety openings?  Now, OTOH (on the other hand), young Ray gets bravery points.  But if the Dragon is not his regular opening (and it is not), it is a monumental and perverse task to “get used to” its idiosyncratic patterns.  It’s a one-of-a-kind death-defying choice.

11. Bb3 h5

Personally I’ve always regarded this move (I believe popularized by Soltis first, maybe others?) with suspicion.  It increases the force of Nd4-f5 sacrifices in many lines.

12. O-O-O Rc8 13. Bg5 Rc5 14. Kb1 b5 15. g4 hxg4

Dangerous Deviation Alert!

16. h5

Deviation alert!  16. Bxf6! is a very dangerous try here, eliminating black’s most important defensive piece!  16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. h5 gxh5 18. Nf5! Nxf3 19. Qh6 Rxf5!! (only this way!) 20. Qg6+ with a perpetual check!  Wow!  If black avoids a perpetual with 20…Bg7?, after 21. exf5 white is much better.  The text is an old try and “discredited” in the sense white gets no advantage.  But maybe it caught black by surprise.  Note that 16. Bxf6 exf6? 17. h5 gxh5 18. Qh2! Nc4 19. Bxc4 bxc4 20. Qxd6! gives white a big advantage.

16…Nxh5 17. Nd5

Old Theory Quiz: Black's best defense is.... ?

17…Nf6? (??)

Maybe my theory is out of date, but 17…Re8! 18. Rxh5 gxh5 19. Qh2 (as in an old Short game, Short-Mandl Germany 1986 where black botched the defense and went down in flames) is met by 19…gxf3! 20. Qxh5 Bg4! and black holds.  This happened in a game Lagumina – Magalotti, Forli 1991 and black indeed drew.

Note that also in the precomputer era, 19. Qh2 Rc4? 20. Bxc4 bxc4 21. Qxh5 with a big white edge happened in Karpov-Sznapik, Dubai 1986 Olympiad.

The computer shows no advantage for white after 17…Re8! – readers?

The game move looks really bad; i.e. immediately losing.  Is it possible Robson was making stuff up in this, the sharpest of all opening choices?

18. Bh6??

A monumental blunder in return. It’s impossible to say what Chao was thinking.   The guy is rated 2604 and he misses a win that any schoolboy would play – capture, capture, and mate!  Isn’t that the entire point of the Yugoslav Attack?

The elementary 18. Nxf6+ wins easily. If 18…Bxf6 19. Qh2! simply checkmates black. If 18…exf6 19. Bh6! forces 19…Bh8, since 19…f5 is crushed by 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Qh6+ Kf6 22. f4 and wins. After 19…Bh8, white wins with the easy 20. Bxf8 Qxf8 21. Qh2 Qg7 22. fxg4 Bxg4 23. Rdg1 and wins.

What was in the water in this game? (or the Dutch pea soup?)

18…Nxd5 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Qh6+ Kf6

Did Chao miss the king could run? Embarrassing! But look what happens!

21. exd5 Nxf3 22. Ne2?

22. Nxf3 keeps the balance.  Now Chao has overstepped even the bounds of an even game!


22…Bf5 consolidates and wins for black without too much trouble!

23. dxe6 Bxe6 24. Qf4+ Rf5 25. Qxg4 Kg7 26. Bxe6 fxe6 27. Nd4 Nxd4 28. Qxd4+ e5 29. Qxa7+ R8f7 30. Qe3 Qg5 31. Qd3 Qf6
32. a3 Rf2 33. Qh3 Qf5?

Apparently black was down to increments.  33…Kg8! was bad  (but not losing) for him after 34. Rxd6 Rf1+ 35. Rd1! but it was forced.  But doesn’t white’s play over the last few moves look pretty random?  Maybe he was in time trouble too.

34. Qh8+ Mate 1-0

For the gawking observers, what the HELL was going on this opening? Will we ever know?

The Fabulous 00s: Sadness and Despair at the 2010 World Team

January 8, 2010

Tough Times in Turkey: USA Gaffes vs Russia

The 2010 World Teams are in full swing in Bursa, Turkey.

The USA came out of the gate very lame versus Russia and was severely trounced as two of our players uncharacteristically didn’t know the opening phase.

[White “Malakhov, V.”]
[Black “Shulman, Y.”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C05”]
[WhiteElo “2716”]
[BlackElo “2624”]
[EventDate “2010.01.05”]
[EventType “team ()”]
[EventRounds “9”]
[EventCountry “TUR”]
[Source “Chess Today”]
[SourceDate “2010.01.08”]

Vladimir Malakhov is a rather conventional player and is best at opponents who commit senseless hara-kiri in well-known structures.  He is not very good in original strategic situations, as Mamedyarov has proved in the past.  Unfortunately, this important USA-Russia game belongs to the former category.
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Ngf3 Nc6 7. Nb3

A bizarre move, wasting several tempi to close off the queenside.

7. Nb3 - This?!

7…c4 A livelier game results from 7…f6 with equal chances.

8. Nbd2 b5 9. Be2 Nb6 10. Nf1 Bd7 Nothing is wrong with the simple 10..Be7 and 11…O-O.  What is black attacking?

11. Ne3 Be7 12. O-O Qc7 12…O-O is fine for black.

13. Bd2 a5 13…O-O is fine for black. 14. g4? f6! and black has a small edge.

14. Be1 O-O-O?

A huge lemon and very surprising from veteran GM Shulman.

After any move not committing black’s king to the queenside, black is fine.  For example,
14… b4 15. c3 O-O 16. g4 f6 and black is all right.

No... not king to the queenside!

15. b3 a4 16. Rb1 Qa7 17. bxc4 bxc4 18. Bf2 Even the simple 18. c3 already gives white a huge and fairly automatic plus.

18… Na5 19. f5 g6 20. f6 Ba3 21. Ng5 Be8 22. Bg4 Nc6 23. Nxe6! Child’s play for any grandmaster.  Black could already resign. A total debacle, doubly so in a team event.

fxe6 24. Bxe6+ Rd7 25. Nxd5 Nxd5 26. Qf3 Nd8 27. Bxd5 Qa6 28. e6?! To show best this situation, 28. Bxc4! Qxc4 29. Qa8+ Kc7 30. Rb8 instantly won.

28… Rxd5 29. Qxd5 Nxe6 30. Bg3 Nc7 31. Bxc7 Former WC Mikhail Tal would not have missed 31. Rb8+!! Kxb8 32. Qd8+ Ka7 33. Qxc7+ Qb7 34. Qa5+ Qa6 35. Bb8+ and wins very elegantly.

31… Kxc7 32. f7 Bd7 33. Qe5+ 1-0 Depressing.  Even more depressing was the next game where an American player gets a hopeless ending right away…. with the white pieces!

[Event “7th World Team Championship”]
[Site “Bursa TUR”]
[Date “2010.01.07”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Akobian, V.”]
[Black “Vitiugov, N.”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D10”]

[WhiteElo “2628”]
[BlackElo “2692”]
[PlyCount “146”]
[EventDate “2010.01.05”]
[EventRounds “9”]

[EventCountry “TUR”]
[Source “Chess Today”]

Young grandmaster Akobian is a young player’s favorite ever since he did an MTV video where he proclaimed washing socks and cooking food is a waste of time (his mother was in the background picking up socks).  Classic.  How many players will emulate these words?  I remember one famous junior who was described as, “if he can make toast or boil an egg, it’s a miracle.” However, in this game, something goes horribly wrong right away for the anti-laundry kid.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 4. e4?! The safe choice is 4. e3! b5 5. a4 b4 6. Na2 Nf6 7. Nxb4  equal, or 7. Bxc4 e6 8. Nf3 Nbd7 equal.  Former WC Karpov had no equal playing safe when surprised.  Akobian should pick up some clues from Karpov.

4…. b5 5. a4 b4 6. Nb1 Black is happy after 6. Na2 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Bxc4 a5 9. Nf3
g6 10. O-O Bg7.

6… Ba6 7. Qc2 White could have tried 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. e5 Nd5 to try to get out of the opening.

7… Nf6

Setting white a rather elementary tactical problem.

White to play and lose dismally

8. Bxc4? An incredible lemon.  Was white “faking” knowing this stuff? 8. Nd2! is a good try to save it.  For example, if 8…Qxd4 9. Ngf3 Qc5 10. Nxc4 e6 11. Be3 b3 12. Qxb3 Qb4+ 13. Qxb4 Bxb4+ and white will reach a half point.   Maybe if he picked up some socks in a pre-game warm-up or cooked the team a meal he would have been sharper in this encounter.

8…Bxc4 9. Qxc4 Nxe4 10. Qxb4? Ugh!  He had to try 10. f3 Nd6 11. Qxb4 a5 12. Qb3 Nf5 13. Ne2!  hoping for 13…Nxd4; black has 13…g6! =+.

10… e5 So simple.

11. Qb7 Did this absurd queen raid really appear on the board in this important team event?  It appears so, sadly.


Oopsie.  Black can just take this. Vitiugov must not have been able to believe his eyes.  This childish trap…. winning for black… is on the board!

12. Qc8+ 12. Qxa8 Bb4+ wins easily for black.

Qd8 13. Qxd8+ Kxd8 14. Nd2 Bb4 15. Ngf3 Nd7 16. Ke2 Nd6 17. Nb3 Ke7 18. Bd2 Rab8 19. Rhc1 Rhc8 20. Rc2 c5 21. Be3 c4 22. Nbd2 Bc5 23. Rac1 Bxe3 24. fxe3 f6 25. Nxc4 Nxc4 26. Rxc4 Rxb2+ 27. Nd2 Rxc4 28. Rxc4 Ra2 29. Kd3 This blunder doesn’t matter; white was lost anyway.

29..Rxa4 30. Rc7 Kd8 31. Rc3 e4+ 32. Ke2 Nb6 33. g4 Kd7 34. h4 Kd6 35. Rb3 g6 36. Rb5 Kc6 37. Rb1 Nd5 38. Rc1+ Kd6 39. Rc8 f5 40. gxf5 gxf5 41. Nc4+ Kd7 42. Rc5 Ra2+ 43. Ke1 Ne7 44. h5 Ke6 45. Rc7 Rc2 46. Kd1 Rc3 47. Kd2 Kf6 48. h6 Nd5 49. Rc5 Rd3+ 50. Ke2 f4 51. exf4 Nxf4+ 52. Kf2 Rf3+ 53. Kg1 e3 54. Rc6+ Kg5 55. Nxe3 Why did white not resign here?  This was the biggest mystery of the game.  Incredibly depressing game from a team standpoint.  Kibitizers were calling for Hess to come in off the bench (Hess, in fact, did come in the next round and convincingly win).

55…Rxe3 56. Rc7 Kxh6 57. Rxa7 Re2 58. Rf7 Nh5 59. Kh1 Kg6 60. Rf3 Ra2 61. Kg1 Nf6 62. Rg3+ Kf5 63. Rf3+ Kg5 64. Rg3+ Ng4 65. Rb3 Kf4 66. Rb5 Kf3 67. Rb3+ Ne3 68. Kh1 h5 69. Kg1 Re2 70. Kh1 Kg3 71. Rb1 Nc2 72. Rg1+ Kh3 73. Rg2 Apparently white did not resign in order to set up this deep stalemate trick.

73…Re1+ Vitiugov is too crafty to take the rook on g2.


And This Game Just in…

From today’s action, America’s young hopeful Robson luckily avoids a very aesthetic defeat!

[White “IM_Abdelnabbi”]
[Black “IM_Robson”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[WhiteElo “2448”]
[BlackElo “2570”]
[Opening “Sicilian: modern Scheveningen”]
[ECO “B45”]
[NIC “SI.22”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 d6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. Be3 a6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Kh1 O-O 10. f4 Qc7 11. Qe1 Nxd4 12. Bxd4 b5 13. e5 Nd7?

A terrible lapse from a 2570-rated player.  13…dxe5 = is necessary.

14. exd6! The problem is e4 is now cleared for white’s pieces with gain of tempo.

Bxd6 15. Bd3? Why not the obvious 15. Qg3 with an edge.

15…g6? Another lemon.   I think the kid may have been nervous in this team tournament. 15…Bb7! =

16. Qh4?! 16. Ne4! is indicated with an edge.

16…Bc5 17. f5 exf5 18. Nd5 Qd6? A really bad blunder.  18…Qd8 was equal.

19. Rxf5 Bxd4 20. Qxd4 gxf5 21. Re1 Now white is winning!  Oh no!

21…Ne5 What else?

22. Rxe5 Rd8 23. Qh4?? An incredible final blunder in this blunder-filled game.  23. Bxf5! wins.  Do you think white was happy drawing his higher rated opponent and went for this perpetual?

23. Bxf5!!  Bxf5 24. Rxf5 Qh6 (threatening mate) 25. h3!! wins.  For example, 25…Rd6 26. Rf3!  Or, 23. Bxf5!!  h6 and I will let the readers find the win, it’s very nice indeed.

White to play and win (analysis)

The game concluded dismally for white:

23…Qxe5 24. Qxd8+ Kg7 25. Qg5+ {Game drawn} 1/2-1/2

Props to Chess Today

Thanks to GM Baburin’s Chess Today newsletter for providing timely reports!

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: Different Ways to Engage Tactically

May 14, 2009

This just in from Round 6 US Championship action.   A crazy struggle where it would appear pre-game computer cycles played a major role.
GM L. Christiansen – IM R. Robson  Slav Crazy (Computer-Oriented) Gambit Line

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 Different Way to Play #1: It’s quite possible now to play a tactical, attacking game (!) after 3. cxd5 as Kasparov showed many times.  The computer would play less of a role.

3. d4 c6 Different Way to Play #2: And here, Khalifman used to have good results with the soft, slow-motion gambit of 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. g3!? dxc4 6. Bg2.  Shabalov tried this line vs. Sevillano and lost in an earlier round of the ’09 Championship, but the opening was not to blame.  That line offers a rich mother-lode for human creativity.

4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4 7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Ne2 Na6 Both players are following a fairly narrow mainline in this insanely tactical, inhuman (thus computer-oriented) melee.

9. Bf8 Ne7 10. Bxg7 Nb4 11. Qd6 Nc2+ 12. Kd2 Nxa1 13. Bxh8 Qc2+ 14. Ke1 Qxc4 15. Nc3 Qb4 Cute, but computer ho-hum, black exploits the fork on c2 to move the queen to this active square.

16. Qd2 e5 Does anyone doubt that at least one of the players had this in the computer before the game? 

17. Qc1 Bg4! The best.  I doubt black has had to think on his own yet. Rybka 3.1 says this is equal.

Addendum May 16, 2009:  IM Fluffy reminded me to say this is good prep by Robson, the article is not a knock on Robson.

Computer Chess

Computer Chess

18. f3? In a not very illumating computer “finding”, Rybka 3.1 likes 18. h3 but at the same time believes black is OK after 18. h3. The mainline is a humorous, absurd, repetition draw: 18…Bh5 19. g4 Bg6 20. Qxa1 Qf4! 21. Ne2 Qb4+ 22. Nc3 Qf4! 23. Ne2 and drawn!   Note that 21…Qe4?! is met by 22. f3! Qxf3 23. Rg1 and white has an edge.

18…Bxf3! Not very difficult but pleasing.  White’s king loses protection.  

19. Bf6 19. gxf3 Qh4+ 20. Ke2 Ng6! 21. Qxa1 O-O-O gives black a big attack.  Queen and knight is a very dangerous attacking duo.

19…Nd5 20. Bxe5? A fatal second miscue.  20. gxf3 Nxf6 21. Qxa1 O-O-O with a black edge but not yet decisive was necessary.

20…Qe7! Now white’s king cannot get out of the danger zone and no more resistance is possible.  A depressing result of the battle of computers. Perhaps black’s computer had been going a lot longer on this variation.   Psychologically, the two deviations given at the start of the game would yield better chances versus a tactical junior than engaging in a full-on irrational position computer war.

21. gxf3 Qxe5+ 22. Kf2 Qd4+ 23. Kg3 Ne3 24. Bh3 Nac2 25. Nd1 f5 26. Nxe3 f4+ 27. Kf2 fxe3+ 28. Kg3 Qd6+ 29. f4 Qd3 30. Rd1 Qg6+ 31. Kf3 Qh5+
32. Bg4 Qxh2 33. Rd6 Qf2+ 34. Ke4 e2 35. Bxe2 Qxe2+ 36. Kf5 Ke7

Kind of a depressing game in general where the “gee, look at that moves” were prepared already.   To put it another way, not much work at the board for black to achieve a winning game versus a strong player. I’d rather have both players on their own devices in an original, not analyzed setting, to create something nice in this important tournament.

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