Posts Tagged ‘Shabalov’

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

Advertisements

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: The North American Open 2008

December 31, 2008

This amusing annual Bill Goichberg event (always at the Bally’s hotel, Las Vegas) was, well… amusing again.   In one droll episode, NM Zimbeck arrived late for a game with SM Bryant.  Zimbeck bashes out 1. d4 without filling in the player names or the move on his scoresheet and Bryant plays 1… Nf6.  Zimbeck continues to not keep score and emphatically blitzes out one of the worst moves possible, 2. f3.  I found it quite droll that this move merited not keeping score.  To continue with the drollity, in his middlegame Zimbeck was visited by a lady friend who seemed to be tubercular, emitting continuous coughs that were not alleviated by a cough drop.  Since I was right next to all this, it was good theater – except I #$%*#* drew Rubshamen.  I will present the Rubshamen game so you see the irritation.

The chess for me was hard slogging.  Many of the lower rated masters, such as the Champion of Hawaii (!) Rubshamen (2260), defended doggedly coming up with many defensive resources (in both the G/75 and the 40/2 games).  Lower rated players must be getting stronger?

I played in four such tiring G/75 games (2.5 out of 4), drew the aforementioned agonizing superior middlegame vs. Rubshamen by transposing into the wrong ending, then recouped somewhat in the last two rounds with a win over ICC personality “f-pawn” (Aigner) and a rather fortunate draw with black against tough GM Cicak (2664) in the last round, so finishing with 4.5 out of 7.    Let’s see a sharp Round 2 struggle versus GM Alex Shabalov.

Ginsburg – GM Shabalov NAO 08, Round 2.  G/75.   1…b6.

The last time and only time I played Alex, Reno 1992 (one of my three blacks in a row courtesy of the bizarre Weikel “policy” of occasionally awarding three blacks in a row for no reason in critical last rounds – Weikel defended the policy by bellowing incoherently at the top of his lungs), he misplayed as white and I took a draw in a winning position, not realizing it was winning.  I was chided by Bruce Leverett in the chess newsgroups (remember those, they were big in 1992). Time for the second game.

1. c4 b6 2. d4 e6 3. a3 f5 I had pleasant memories of this offbeat variation from my Hammer game. Of course, remembering prior games precisely is not always easy. And not everyone would sacrifice early like Jon Ludwig.

4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d5 Ba6 A strange move, but in the wise words of GM Hellers, “you have to do something.”  It was indicative of my state of mind that I considered 6. e4!? seriously here – I mut have been in crazy attack mode. In the end, I settled for a good, solid, move.  But in fact 6. e4!? is fine, since 6…fxe4! (note that black is worse in the nice forcing sequence after 6…Nxe4? 7. Nxe4 fxe4 8. Qh5+ g6 9. Qe5 Rg8 10. dxe6 Nc6 11. exd7++ Kxd7 12. Qd5+ Bd6 13. Be2!) 7. dxe6 dxe6 8. Qxd8+ is just equal.

shab0

Position after 5…Ba6

6. Qa4 exd5 The subtleties of this variation are beyond me.  As black, I would not do this (yet) and play 6…Bd6 instead.  The risky 6…Bc5 is also available. 

7. cxd5 Bd6 8. Bf4! An unusual set-up (Qa4 protecting f4) allows this trade which is to white’s advantage.

8…Qe7 Not absurd is 9…O-O!? 10. Bxd6 cxd6 10. Nf3 Qc8!?.

9. Bxd6 Qxd6 10. Rd1! No reason to put the king on the open queenside.  10…O-O 11. Nf3 Re8 12. e3! Bxf1 13. Kxf1 Ne4! The best way to keep activity but white has an edge. 14. Nb5 Qc5 15. Qb3! White is getting alarming attacking chances.

15…Kh8

shab1

Position after 15…Kh8.  Go for the throat?

16. d6? I am too excited to make a direct attack in this action game.  As Shabalov mentioned after the game, the simple g2-g3 and Kf1-g2 keeps a very solid edge for white. For example, 16. g3 Na6 17. Kg2 c6 18. dxc6 dxc6 19. Nbd4 and black’s position is very bad.

16…cxd6 17. h4 a6 Another good move here is 17… f4! with a sample variation 18. Rd5 Qc6 19. exf4 Qc1+ 20. Rd1 Qc5 21. Nfd4 Nc6 22. Qd3 Rac8 23. Rh3 d5 and it’s balanced.

18. Nbd4? Another mistake.  18. Rd5! is clearly right.  18… Qc1+
19. Rd1 Qc5 repeats, and 18….Qc6 19. Nc3! (I did not see this move) is a white edge as the dangerous N/e4 is eliminated, freeing the WN on f3 to do damage.  Black should therefore give the check to repeat.   If black does not repeat with 18…Qc1+ 19. Rd1 Qc6?, then 20. Nbd4 Qc5 21. Ng5! is crushing.  For example, 21…Nxg5 22. hxg5 Nc6 23. g6 h6 24. Rxh6+! (a typical attacking idea) 24…gxh6 25. Qf7 and wins.

18… Nc6 19. Ng5 Re7! Excellent play.  I didn’t see this which explains the prior mistake. If white gives a check on f7, black takes, takes on d4, and invades with the queen, winning.

20. Ne2 Rf8 21. Nf4? Again, I am too focused on attack against the BK when it’s high time to figure out the best ending to hold.  A better try is 21. Rd5 but black has the nice and aesthetic shot 21…Re5!! keeping a small edge.  On the other hand, the move I saw, 21… Na5 22. Rxc5 Nxb3 23. Rc7 Nf6 24. g3 Re5 25. Nc3 Rc5 26. Ra7 a5 is about equal.

21… Na5 22. Qd5 Nc4 Of course.  Black’s once dormant knight is now a powerhouse on c4.

23. h5?? Completing the ‘attack suicide’.   White can only stay in the game with 23. Nxe4 fxe4 24. Qxc5 dxc5 25. b3 Nxa3 26. Ra1 Nb5 27. Rxa6 Rb8 and although black is better, much work remains.  It’s important in action games to resist like this.

23… Nxe3+! Did I really expect 23… Nxg5 24. Ng6+ hxg6 25. hxg6+ mating?  Absurd. since 23…Ng3+ also won easily for black.

24. fxe3 Ng3+ and white resigned  0-1 in view of ruinous material loss.  Since each G/75 game followed the prior one by a short span you can see how much nervous energy is lost in the course of a single day.  Still, many players such as Shavadorj, Ehlvest, etc., tried their luck in this format.

Here is one of the tough slog G/75 games versus Show Kitagami (2075).

Ginsburg – Kitagami Round 4 (G/75) King’s Indian Averbakh

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Bg5 c5 7. d5 h6 8. Be3 e6 9. Qd2 exd5 10. exd5 Kh7 11. h3 b5?! A good way to make counter-play in an action game, although it is not objectively good.

12. cxb5 a6 13. Nf3 axb5 14. Bxb5 Na6 15. O-O Nc7 16.Bc4? (It was criminal for white to miss 16. Bc6! Rb8 17. Rfe1 Bb7 18. Rab1 Nfxd5 19. Bxd5 Bxc3 20. bxc3 Bxd5 21. Bxh6 and white should win.)

16… Rb8 17. Rfe1 Nd7 18. a3 (18. Rac1 Nb6 19. Bb3 Re8 20. Bf4!) 18… Nb6 19. Ba2 Ba6 20. Rab1 (Again good for white was 20. Bf4! Nc4 21. Bxc4 Bxc4 22. Re4 Bxc3 23. Qxc3 Bxd5 24. Bxh6) 20… Nc4 21. Bxc4 Bxc4 22. b4! cxb4 23. Rxb4 Rxb4 24. axb4 Even so, this is good for white.

24…Qa8 25. Bd4! Bxd4 26. Qxd4 Bxd5 27. Re7 (The strong move 27. Nh4!  never occurred to me)

27… Bxf3 28. gxf3 Ne6 29. Qf6 Ng5 30. Ne4 Kg8 31. Kg2 By far the simplest was 31. Nxg5 hxg5 32. b5! and this is clearly good for white.
31… Nxe4 32. fxe4 Qb8 A truly amazing variation was behind the scenes.  32… d5! is a good move. If  the tempting 33. e5 (33. b5! dxe4 34. b6! is stronger)  33….d4+  34. Kh2 Qd8? (34… Qb8! is correct but the text has the merit of a fantastic combination coming up) 35. e6 d3  and now study this position.  White to play and win.  The solution is really incredible.

The solution:

36. f4! (36. exf7+?? Kh7 37. f4 Qc8 38. Qd4 Qc2+ 39. Kg3 d2 40. Rd7 Qb3+ 41. Kg2 d1=Q 42. Qxd1 Qxb4 and it’s drawn) 36… d2 37. exf7+
Kh7 38. f5 gxf5 (38… Qb8+ loses more slowly and less elegantly)

39. Qxf5+ Kg7 40. Qg4+ Kh7 and now let’s pause again.  White to play and mate.  The stunning conclusion:

41. Qg8+!! Rxg8 42. f8=N double check!! Kh8 43. Rh7 mate!  Wow!  That mating pattern is not often seen!

Returning to the prosaic game, with both sides low on time,

33. Qd4 Qd8 34. Qa7 Re8!! (Escaping the bind elegantly) 35. Rxf7 (35. Rxe8+ Qxe8 36. Qb7 Qd8 37. Qd5 Qb6 38. b5 Kf8 and black is fighting)

35… Qg5+ 36. Kf3 Qh5+ 37. Ke3 Qe5 (Black misses a great blow, 37…Qxh3+ 38. f3 Rxe4+!! 39. Kxe4 Qe6+ 40. Kd4 Qxf7 41. Qxf7+ Kxf7 42. b5 Ke6) 38.  Rf4 Qe6! I had actually forgotten about this simple defense. 39. Qd4 Qxh3+ 40. Rf3 Qf1 41. Rf6 Qe1+ 42. Kf4 Qc1+ 43. Qe3 g5+ 44. Kf5 Re5+ 45. Kg6 and this crazy position the players descended into blitz chess chaos and I eventually won somehow.

Here’s the round 6 Aigner game in which I find myself once more permanently fighting against the Leningrad Dutch (I’ve previously discussed games with Fishbein, Guillermo Rey, Jack Young on this site).

Ginsburg – NM Aigner   NAO Round 6 40/2

1. d4 f5 Tigran Petrosian exclaimed “What a delight!  I love playing against the Dutch” when he faced Bent Larsen in San Antonio 1972.  I concur.

2. g3 No crazy gambit with 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4!? dxe4 4. Bf4! for me today, although white does get good play.  See my strange Fishbein game. Also well motivated is 2. Nc3 d5 3. Bg5.

2…Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nf3 There is a strong argument for the well-motivated and solid 4. Nh3! Bg7 5. c3! here, blunting the black bishop and preparing e2-e4.  For example, 5…O-O 6. Qb3+! d5 7. Nf4 e6
8. h4 c5 9. h5 gxh5 and white was better and went on to win, Hebden,M (2530)-Motwani,P (2470)/London 1990}  See also former Women’s Champ Antonia Stefanova’s crushing defeat over veteran GM Mikhail Gurevich in this line at Gibraltar 2008.  I played over this amazingly one-sided game in NIC magazine with great interest – an off-day for Gurevich who has scored many wins in this system.   Antonia did without c3 and just went right for the caveman h2-h4-h5.  Gurevich at one point had a fully acceptable game but succumbed quickly to the onslaught.

4… Bg7 5. O-O d6 6. c4 O-O 7. Nc3 Qe8 8. Qb3 More than twenty years ago I greatly surprised IM (!) Evgeny Bareev in Naestved, Denmark with 8. Nd5 Nxd5 9. cxd5 Qb5 10. e4! TN (my TN; other moves are totally harmless) and after 10…fxe4 11. Ng5! wild complications ensued.  For example, 11…Qxd5?! (he did not play this) 12. Bxe4 Qb5 13. a4 Qb4 14. a5 and white has dangerous threats. Students should look at this line some more as it has many resources for both sides.  Of course, it’s an amazing blitz weapon!  There’s no way black can navigate this position easily.  One of white’s ideas is the crude Bg2xe4, followed by Ng5xh7 and Qh5+ tearing black’s king apart.

This was the first and only time I played a 2560 FIDE-rated IM.  The game with Bareev is presented in detail here.

By the way, I picked up Bareev and Levitov’s book “From London to Elista” at the NAO Bookstore and it’s amazingly good.

8…Na6! White is hoping for black to execute his plan and … get a lost game with 8… e5?? 9. c5+ Kh8 10. cxd6 cxd6 11. Nb5! Qe7 12. Nxd6! and wins.

aig0

Position after 8…Na6 – an important moment.

9. Qa3?! The try 9. Ng5!? is very dangerous.   The tricky 9…e5  10. dxe5 Nc5?? backfires horribly – 11. exf6!! Nxb3 12. Bd5+! and white is better.

Another very serious move is 9. Rd1! and white is somewhat better.  Objectively 9. Rd1! may be the best. The moves Qb3 and Rd1 taken together are very logical to anticipate black’s telegraphed e7-e5 break.  The text prepares b2-b4 but leaving the c-pawn alone gives black fairly easy to find counter-chances.

9… c6 9… Qf7 is well met by 10. d5 h6 11. Be3 Ng4 12. Bd2 Nc5 13. h3 Nf6 14.  Ne5!! TN  (in a tournament game white missed this tactic) 14…Qe8 15. Nb5 Na6 16. Nd3 c6 17. dxc6 bxc6 18. Nc3 and white is much better.

10. b4 Nc7 10… e5 looks to best met by  11. dxe5 dxe5 12. b5! with white initiative.  Black is better off with the text move to activate the offside knight.

11. Bb2 Be6 Surprisingly here 11… e5!? is tactically feasible. If 12. dxe5 (12. e3  is not ridiculous) 12… dxe5 13. Qa5 and here the double-attack on c7 and e5 looks dangerous….but, 13…Qe7! is an effective answer.  If  14. Qxe5 (14. Nxe5 Ne4 15. Nxe4 fxe4 16. Rab1 Rf5! 17. Bxe4 Rxe5 18. Bxe5 Bxe5 and black is doing well) 14… Qxb4 and again black is fine.  In a similar Dutch position Viktor Korchnoi indeed did use the c7 and e5 double attack to quickly defeat Sergey Dolmatov as Viktor explains in his “Best Games” series.

12. d5?! A little crazy.  My eyes were burning from the lengthy games I had conducted previously in this tournament and I could not bear another slog.   If 12. Nd2 d5 13. c5 Ne4 14. Nf3 Qd8 15. e3 a5 black is fine and the game is locked up and turgid.

12… cxd5 13. Ng5 13. Nd4?? is just a blunder due to 13…Bf7!.

13… dxc4 14. Nxe6 Nxe6 15. Bxb7 Rb8 16. Bg2 I don’t eat with the queen on a7 because nasty pins can occur with the queen and bishop lined up.  The plan was long-term compensation with the bishops but it’s not correct.

16…Nd4! 17. Rac1 Ne4! 18. Nxe4? An unsound adventure.  Correct is 18. Kh1 and white can fight on although it’s uphill.

18… Nxe2+ Black also had 18… Nb5!?, which I had not forseen in my moribund state.   Fortunately white can hold with 19. Qe3 Bxb2
20. Ng5 c3!? (20… Bxc1? 21. Rxc1 e5 22. Bd5+ Kh8 23. Rxc4 Qe7 24. Rh4 h5 25. Ne6  and this variation is nice because white builds up an attack out of nowhere with the funny Rc4-h4 motif) 21. a4 Nc7 22. Qxa7 and the game toddles on.

19. Kh1

aig1

Position after 19. Kh1.  Black has a winning path.

19…Bxb2? A clear and serious misstep.  Correct is 19… Nxc1! 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Ng5 and my anemic calculations only went this far anticipating an attack on black’s king, a clear case of hope-chess.  The computer quickly shows 21…Nd3! cutting off white’s queen for the moment. If 22. Ne6+ (22. Qc3+ Rf6 23. Qxc4 Nxb4 and black wins) 22… Kh6! and this is the ultimate cold shower; black is winning.  Now white is on the b2-h8 diagonal and black’s king is in big trouble.

20. Qxb2 Nxc1 21. Ng5! Nd3 22. Qd4! This position I considered to be completely hopeless for black due to the numerous threats but
the computer still finds moves.

22… h6? Collapse.  Another lemon is 22… e5 (black was reaching for this move then retracted his hand) as 23. Qxc4+ Kh8 24. Qc7! kills.

The toughest is the natural 22…Nxb4 23. a3! (23. Ne6?? Rf6) 23… h6 24. Ne6 Rf6 25. axb4 Rxb4 and the machine shows black can fight on although of course white is better.  The game ended prosaically.

23. Bd5+ Qf7 24. Bxf7+ 1-0

Study Material – The Gibraltar Upset

[Event "Gibraltar"]
[EventDate "2008.01.22"]
[Round "2"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Antoaneta Stefanova"]
[Black "Mikhail Gurevich"]
[ECO "A81"]
[WhiteElo "2464"]
[BlackElo "2607"]

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Nh3 g6 4. Nf4 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. h4 Nc6 7. h5 g5 8. h6 Bh8 9. Nd3 Nxd4 10. Bxg5 Ne6 11. Bh4 d5 12. Nd2 c6 Black is actually OK here and only tosses the game away later. 13. c4 Ne4 14. cxd5 cxd5 15. Nf3 Qd6 16. Qb3 Bd7 17. Nf4 Bc6 18. Nxe6 Qxe6 19. Rd1 a5 20. Nd4 Qf7 21. g4 Bxd4?! 22. Rxd4 e5? 23. gxf5 exd4 24. Bxe4 Rae8 25. Qg3+ Kh8 Now it’s very obvious black’s king is too exposed.  He probably underestimated his opponent.

26. Bd3 b5 27. Qf4 Qa7 28. Qd6 Qf7 29. Rg1 b4 30. Rg7 Qh5 31. Rg8+! 1-0 A brutal finale.

Elsewhere on the Internet – No Comeback for Bad Bird’s

I noted with horror from Michael Goeller that attempts were being made in some quarters to rehabilitate some pretty bad variations of the Bird Defense to the Ruy Lopez.

Fortunately (for chess logic) it’s easy to see they are no good.

For example, 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4?! (a move that doesn’t make much sense) 4. Nxd4 exd4 5. O-O g6? was one such bad line presented as perhaps OK. But it’s not.  White has the simple move 6. c3! (not considered in the article, where 6 d3 is called the “main line”).  Yet the extremely simple and logical  6. c3! is clearly strong.  After 6…dxc3 7. Nxc3 Bg7 8. d4 black has a horrible game.    Openings genius Kenny Regan in the 1970s was actually the paragon of Bird enthusiasts but he kept to the straight and narrow with …Bc5 and …c6  lines.

After 6. c3! Bg7 white can swing for the fences with 7. e5 but then with 7…Nh6! black holds on.    After 6…Bg7 with the straightforward 7. cxd4! Bxd4 it’s not hard to see the floating black bishop is not going to bode well.    The best there is 8. d3! (deferring Nc3 because it’s not certain the N belongs there) and white is well on top, scoring 100% in the database examples I have. Even more amusingly, there is a second way for white.  The TN 7. Qa4! c6 8. Bd3 is also very good for white.  For example, 8….b5 9. Qb3 Ne7 10. a4! and white is having a lot of fun.

Conclusion:  5….g6? is terrible.

The Fabulous 00s: The 2008 Chicago Open in Wheeling!

May 26, 2008

A Top-Rate Hotel

The Westin North Shore in Wheeling, IL was a really fantastic venue for the Chicago Open, with excellent restaurants and a 2nd floor sushi-martini lounge called “R/T Lounge” open into the wee hours (not so easy to find, but tour-guide Kurt Stein let me on to the secret and there we (me, Kurt, and Simone Sobel) had some funky sushi rolls and exotic ‘tini’ variants in the wee hours following my annoying Round 3 Shulman loss.

The tournament was strong with many tough battles. And an inadvertently funny sign announcing John Donaldson lectures!

Metaphysical Announcement

I am guessing the hotel didn’t know the term”IM” so wrote “I am”. Very metaphysical – the sign as a person!

Some Games

Here are two tough games vs Yuri Shulman and Irina Zenyuk. In the first game, I lost an agonizing rook ending to new US Champion Yuri Shulman in Round 3, wasting a great novelty in a Slav. When I can face the game score, I will post it here. Let’s go through the grim task of seeing it.

M. Ginsburg – GM Y. Shulman Chicago Open 2008, Round 3. Slav Defense

1. c4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxc4 5. Qa4+ Nbd7 6. e4!? A very interesting start point for opening research. It’s no simple matter to lead a prepared GM off the beaten track and retain decent chances. But that is what this line actually does.

6…c6 White was triumphant in Hebden-Bryson Glasgow 1995 after the somewhat passive 6…Be7 7. Nbd2!? O-O 8. Bxc4. Black can also try 6…a6 7. Bxc4 Rb8?!, but this looks odd. White should be better after the simple 8. Qc2. However, after 8. Bd3?! b5 black came on top in Akesson-Agrest, Gothenburg 2006. Black also has 6…c5!? and this might be his best option. Hebden could only draw Wells in Catalan Bay 2004 with 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Bxc4 Rb8 9. Qc2 b5. The immediate 7. Bxc4 cxd4 doesn’t give much either. The text contains the audacious idea of an early queen raid but it looks very suspicious.

7. Qxc4 Qb6!? Very Dlugy-esque. Hitting e4 and b2; a very materialistic approach reminiscent of young Max Dlugy in his heyday. The problem, though, is that the gambit of the b2 pawn gives white with his accelerated development very good chances and black’s queen is going to a very strange, offside, place.

8. Nbd2! White can also gambit with 8. Nc3 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. Bd3 Nb6 11. Qb3 Qxb3 12. Rxb3 Be7 13. O-O O-O 14. h3 with decent compensation. I had ideas of a later Nd2xc4 eyeing d6. I like the N/d2 placement better.

8… Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. Bd3 h6 11. Bf4 Be7 12. Bc7! This sortie is a good disruptive idea to keep the black queen in a holding pen.

12…O-O 13. O-O Nb6 14. Qc2 Qa4 Black’s lonely and isolated queen makes a very bad impression.

Position after 14…Qa4. How to Proceed?

15. Qc3?

A very unfortunate choice, wasting my novelty and condemning white to an uphill fight in a bad ending. To create a sensational upset, the position demands 15. Rb3! to keep the queens on. White overlooked in the game that black can now trade queens. After, for example, 15…Bd7 16. e5! Nfd5 17. Bd6 Bxd6 (If black does not take, Nd2-e4 gives a huge bind) 18. exd6 and now black has defensive problems with the cutoff queen. The ugly 18…f5 at least avoids 19. Ne5? Qxd4, but donates squares permanently to white.

Or, for example, 18….Rfd8 19. Ne4 Nb4 20. Qe2 Nxd3 21. Rxd3 and white has a huge attack. Black’s remaining pieces are onlookers. If 21… f6? (this deserves a diagram):

Position after 21…f6? (Analysis)

White has the nice double knight sacrifice 22. Nxf6+!! gxf6 23. Ne5 and wins! (23…f5 24. Qh5 Be8 25. Rg3+ Kh7 26. Nf7! and mate.) It’s not often that a double knight sacrifice occurs in practical play.

Another plausible try, 21… Be8 is swept away by an exciting tactical line: 22. Ne5 Nd7 23. Nxd7 Bxd7 24. Nf6+!! Kf8 25. Qe4 Be8 26. Nh7+ Kg8 27. Rg3 Rxd6 28. Qe5 Qxd4

Position after 28…Qxd4 (analysis). White concludes nicely.

29. Rxg7+ Kh8 30. Nf6!! Kxg7 31. Nxe8 double + Kf8 32. Qxd6+ Qxd6 33. Nxd6 and by virtuoso tactics, white is up a piece and should convert.

Finally, a passive move such as 15…Re8 does not solve the problem of the errant queen. White can play 16. Qb2 Bd7 17. Ne5! for example, with a big initiative.

15… Nfd5! The usual phenomenon of white noticing this key resource the moment after executing his lemon 15th occurred in this game. White now acquires the familiar sick feeling of knowing the game has drifted into an unpleasant course and there won’t be an attack any more.

16. exd5 Nxd5 17. Qa5 Qxa5 18. Bxa5 b6 19. Ne5 At least I win the c6 pawn back but I have a bad ending. Not the fearsome attack I had imagined and should have maintained with my 8. Nbd2 gambit.

19...bxa5 20. Nxc6 Bd8 21. Rfc1 Bd7 22. Nxd8 Rfxd8 23. Be4 Rac8 24. Bxd5 exd5 25. Rc5 Rxc5 26. dxc5 Rc8 27. Rc1 Bb5! A tactical motif to round up white’s c-pawn. White battles on.

28. f3 Bc4 29. Kf2 Rxc5 30. Ke3 Rb5 31. Nxc4 dxc4 32. Rc2 g5 33. Kd4 In the game, I thought I now had enough activity with the centralized king. It isn’t so; I don’t have quite enough due to a latent kingside offensive with pawns, king, and rook that black can undertake while I am kept busy with black’s extra and scattered queenside pawns. By the way, the bid for activity with 33. Rxc4 is inadequate after 33…Rb2 34. Ra4 Rxg2 35. Rxa5 Rxh2 36. Rxa7 h5 37. a4 h4 and black is too fast.

33… Rb4 34. Kc3 Again, 34. Rxc4? Rb2 will not save the game for white.

34… Kg7 Black has the simple aim of king side attack and white cannot stop it. The black rook can always enter quickly with Rb4-b1-h1.

35. Re2 Kf6

36. Re8? It was necessary to wait with e.g. 36. Rd2 Ke7 37. Re2+ Kd6 38. Rd2+ Ke6 39. Re2+ Kf5 40. Rd2 Ra4 41. Re2 f6 42. Kb2 Rb4+ 43. Kc3 h5 44. Rd2 but it’s no fun at all.

36… Rb1 Decisive.

37. Re2 Rc1+ 38. Kb2 Rh1 39. h3 Kf5 40. Rc2 Rg1 41. g4+ Kf4 42. Rxc4+ Kxf3 43. Rc7 Kg3 44. Rxf7 Kxh3 Sick and tired, white resigned.

0-1

Also in Round 3, this barn-burner where black wasted tons of chances:

GM Alex Shabalov – GM Dashzeveg Shavadorj King’s Indian

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 a5 10.a3 Nd7 11.Rb1 f5 12.b4 Kh8 13.Qc2 Ng8 14.exf5 gxf5 15.f4 axb4 15…Ne7 is the most common. Also seen is 15…exf4. The text is less popular.

16.axb4 c6 TN I could not find this in BigBase. Most popular is 16…exf4 followed by 16…e4 and then 16…Ne7 and 16…Ngf6.

17.Kh1?! Rybka says 17. Nf3! e4 18. Ng5! with an edge.

17…Ndf6?! 17…Ne7! is tougher.

18.dxc6 bxc6 19.c5! exf4 20.Nc4 d5 21.Nb6 Ra7 22.Bd3? Black has a terrible game after either 22. Nxc8 or the direct 22. b5.

22…Ne4 23.Ne2 Ngf6 24.Bxf4?! 24. Nd4 offers a small edge.

24…Ng4 Now it’s about equal.

25.Ng1? Very bad. Necessary is 25. Nxc8 Qxc8 26. b5 Ngf2+ 27. Kg1 Nxd3 28. Qxd3 Nxc5 29. Qc2 and it is about even.

25...Ra3 I was watching at this point and Shavadorj was blitzing out his obvious and strong moves. Shabalov seemed distinctly uncomfortable with defending and was well behind on the clock. I was most surprised later to see ‘1-0’ on the wallchart. Let’s see the ‘accident’.

26.Nh3 Be6 The temporary weirdness with 26…Bb7!? gives black a small edge.

27.Rf3 Ra7 Black was no doubt reluctant to retreat this rook although he retains better chances. Interesting is 27…d4!? and if 28. Bxe4? Ra2! Zwischenzug! 29. Qd3 fxe4 30. Qxe4 Bf5! and black will win.

28.Rbf1 Bf6? Much stronger is 28…Bd4! and if 29. Rd1 Qf6! retains the edge.

29.Bc1 Rg7?! 29…Re8! =+.

30.Nf4 It is about even again.

Bf7 31.Bb2 Rfg8 32.Bxe4? The pendulum swings back to black. 32. b5 or the static 32. g3 were both better.

32…dxe4 33.Rg3 h6? Black waffles again. Strong was 33…e3! and for example, 34. Kg1 Qd2 with an edge. In all lines black is better.

34.Nh3 Be6? Again, 34…Bxb2 35. Qxb2 e3! 36. Qc3 Kh7! and black is better.

35.Nf4 Bf7 36.Nh3 Be6 37.Rd1 Qe7 38.Nf4 Bxb2 39.Qxb2 Kh7 39…Bf7 is more accurate.

40.Kg1 e3 41.Rf1 Rd8?? A really bad blunder. The simple 41…Bf7 keeps level chances.

42.h3! Black must have missed something simple because now he is just losing.

42…Rd2 43.Qc3 From here on out, white plays only Rybka’s top recommendations to finish at more than 4 computer points ahead!

43…e2 44.Re1 Rd1 45.hxg4 Qh4 46.Nxe2 Rxe1 47.Qxe1 Rxg4 48.Qc3 Rxg3 49.Nxg3 f4 50.Ne2 Bf5 51.Qd2 1-0

Poor Dashzeveg Shavadorj. He played too quickly when I was watching.  The Kasparovian ‘monster with a thousand eyes’ imitation didn’t pan out.

Fortified by some midnight eel rolls in the R/T Lounge, I battled on the next morning:

Irina Zenyuk – M. Ginsburg Round 4. Benoni.

1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. c4 d6 4. e4 Bg4 5. d5!? An interesting response.

5…c5 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O a6 9. a4 Nbd7 10. Be3 Bxf3 11. gxf3!? Very aggressive. It’s a structural concession but white hopes to repair it with f3-f4 later, then f4-f5, then the other f-pawn, and so on. But is there time for all this?

11…Qc7 12. f4 e6 13. Bd3 exd5 14. cxd5 Rfe8 15. Qf3

Position after 15. Qf3.

15…Rac8?! I show superficial familiarity with the structure. It makes the most sense in standard Modern Benoni style to get on with queenside counterplay: 15… c4! 16. Bc2 Nc5 17. Bd4 (17. a5 Nfd7) 17… Nh5! (I did not consider this move during the game) 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Kh1 (19. f5 Qe7! and black is better) 19… Qb6! 20. Rfb1 (or 20. Rab1!? Nf6!? 21. Qe3 Qa7!? with counterplay) 20…Nb3 21. Bxb3 Qxb3 and black has good counterplay. It just wasn’t on my radar to offer the exchange of the g7 bishop and I didn’t want to hand over the d4 square so easily (with 15…c4). In this exact position, with doubled white f-pawns, the bishop trade is a good idea to hold up the rear f-pawn’s advance (establish a dark square blockade between them, an advanced positional concept! So deep as to be a David Bronstein concept, or a Broncept!) On the other hand, the premature tactical adventure 17…Nfxe4? 18. Bxg7 Nd2 19. Qd1 Nxf1 20. Bd4 just doesn’t work.

16. Kh1 Qb6 17. Rfb1 Nh5 18. a5 Qd8 19. Rg1 Kh8!? 19… c4 20. Bc2 Qe7 is again possible but the rather arcane-looking text move is fine.

20. Qh3 Rc7?! I want to use this rook on my 2nd rank to defend, but surprisingly strong is the immediate 20…Bd4! with good chances. White would have to find 21. Ra4! (a hard move to find in time pressure) 21…Bxe3 22. fxe3 to keep equality. Weaker moves such as 21. Rae1? or 22. Raf1? are met by 21…Ndf6! with a large edge to black. Unfortunately, the idea of Bg7-d4 only occurred to me a little later and by then white had greatly improved her position.

21. f5 Qe7 Now, 21…Bd4 22. Bg5! gives black problems.

22. fxg6 fxg6 23. f4 Bd4 24. Raf1 Qg7? 24…Rf8!? 25. Rg5!? Bf6!? with murky play — all tough moves in time pressure.

25. e5! I am a little slow in getting my best defensive structure and White is doing all the right things to make black’s position loose.

25…Bxe3 26. Qxe3 dxe5 27. f5 e4 Black might as well try this clearance but it’s not looking good.

28. fxg6 hxg6 29. Nxe4?! I think simpler is 29. Bxe4 Ndf6 30. Qf3 and white is much better.

29…c4 30. Bc2 Ndf6 31. Qf3 Rf8 32. Nd6?! White should just play 32. d6 and that should be winning. For example, 32…Rc6 33. Qc3! and black is paralyzed. Here’s an exceptionally beautiful variation that can arise: 33…Nh7 (trying to free, but it loses spectactularly!) 34. Rxf8+ Nxf8 35. Rxg6!! Study-like!

Position after 35. Rxg6!! (analysis) – a beautiful winning line.

35…Qxc3 36. bxc3 Nxg6 37. d7!, queening the pawn, and wins! Wasn’t that nice? The text move actually is not bad either, since white could have won anyway as we shall see – but it’s more complicated and in time trouble, that is not good.

32…Qe7 33. Rxg6!? This is tactically correct but not the best. Both sides go a little crazy now in mutual time pressure. White also had 33. Bxg6 with an edge or the snazzier and stronger 33. Nxb7!! Rxb7 34. d6! Qh7 (nothing else) 35. Bxg6 and white wins.

33…Qxd6 34. Rh6+

Position after 34. Rh6+ — An important decision point.

34…Kg7? Neither side has much time to make it to move 40. This is a tactical blunder. Correct is 34… Kg8! and now not 35. Qg2+? Rg7 36. Bh7+ with a perpetual check draw on both king moves to h8 or f7, but instead the very strong 35. Bf5! Re8 36. Be6+ Rxe6 37. dxe6 Qd3 38. Rxf6 Nxf6 39. Qxf6 Qe4+ 40. Qf3 Qxe6 41. Rg1+ and white is well on top, a clear pawn up in a queen ending. For some reason, I was focused on attacking the white rook on h6 with my king and never considered moving to g8. The conclusion is that 33. Rxg6! is fully sound.

35. Rg6+? In time trouble, white misses the knockout 35. Rxh5!! Nxh5 36. Qg4+ Kh8 37. Qxh5+ with Mate in 13! — 37…Kg8 38. Rg1+ Rg7 39. Qh7+ Kf7 40. Rxg7+ and you get the picture. So this game can be safely classified as a ‘lucky escape’ for me. I didn’t make use of some rather large chances offered on move 15 and 20 and drifted into this really bad situation.

35… Kh8 36. Rh6+ Kg7? Once again the blunder but both players were just playing the repetition moves now.

37. Rg6+? It was too much to ask white to re-orient with almost no time and find 37. Rxh5! winning.

1/2-1/2

A very exciting battle.

And Something Else Artistic

Some art painted by a chess player, Iva Davis.

The chess part of the brain is linked, in some people, to artistic talent! I cannot draw at all, personally.