Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 1: The USCL is back!

No shortage of excitement in week 1. Pascal kicked things off with a short, sharp draw against FM Denis Shmelov.  Pascal's preparation was excellent:

11. ..Qh5 deviated from GM Conrad Holt's brilliancy against IM Jonathan Schroer. Shmeliov played the comparatively rare 12. Be2 and after 12. ..Qg6 13. a3, Pascal chose to secure comfortable equality with 13. ..Nc3!?.  After the forcing sequence 14. Bd3 Nb5 15. ab Nd4 16. Bg6 Nc2 17. Bc2 dc, Pascal's extra pawn was compensated by white's lead in development, bishop pair and a-file pressure.  They drew six moves later.

The match looked grim on boards 3 and 4, but on board 2 FM Michael Bodek played a powerful game against NM Vadim Martirosov to keep our chances alive.  Small nuances often matter in chess and evaluating Bodek's transformation of the position with

 10. ed Nd5 11. Nc4 Nb6 12. Nce5 Ne5 13. Ne5 Re5 14. d4 Bd4 15. cd depended on the placement of black's h-pawn.  Off its home square, black had to resort to desperate measures to close the b1-h7 diagonal after 15. ..Re7 16. Qd3 Nd5 17. Bc2. Bodek pounced on black's dark squared weaknesses  after 17. ..f5 and later finished the game with a nice tactic

 39. h4 Kh4 40. Bf6#!.

Veteran Boston NM Chris Williams won a nice Grunfeld game against SM Nicolas Checa after Nico failed to generate timely counterplay against white's pawn center.  The top three boards all reduced to bishops of opposite colors and Williams showed their attacking potential with the sequence 

 28. Rc7 Qd5 29. Bc2 Qh5 30. Rb5! Qh6 31. Rg5! and after 31. ..Rg8 32. Qf5 d3 33. Bd3 Rdf8, the nice shot 34. Rcg7! ended matters.  Williams netted a GOTW nomination for his victory.

NM Gary Huang made his debut for the Knights against NM Ilya Krasik and what a start! Gary started to go astray in the opening and Krasik steadily increased his positional advantage, initiating play on both wings, backed by his dominant dark squared bishop.  In the finest tradition of Boston-NY matches, Gary dug in and awaited his swindle chance.  The door cracked open on move 38

when Krasik's natural 38. ..Rb1 allowed white's oddly placed Nb7(!?) to rejoin the fray and empower white's last trump, the seemingly blockaded c6 pawn: 39. Nd6 Be6 40. Ne8! Qh6 41. Nc7! Raa1 42. Ne6 Qe6 43. c7Krasik, not wanting to abandon the double-pin on the f1 Bishop, did not play it safe with 43. ..Ra8 and instead blockaded with his queen.  After 43. ..Qc8, white continued to fight with 44. Qg4!. Krasik defended with 44. ..Ra8 and after 45. Qh4 b4

Gary had a ridiculous chance pointed out in the kibitzes.  White would have secured a place in the tactics books with the geometric 46. Rf4!! (opening the 5th rank!) 46. ..ef 47 .Ra2!! (deflecting the Ra8 from d8)

 47. ..f6 48. Qh5! Ra2 49. Qd5! and now white's point is apparent: the black K cannot cross the f-file due to Qd8, so he must acquiesce to perpetual with Kh7/8.  

Krasik was again on the verge of victory following 46. Rg2 Qc7 47. Qf6 g6 48. h4 Qd8 49. Rf4 ef 50. Qf4 Raa1 51. Rf2 Qd7 52. Qg3 b3 as it seemed nothing could stop black's plan of b3-b2/Rb1xf1/Ra1xf1/b2-b1Q.  After Gary's 53. h5, all required of Krasik was 53. ..Qe6 controlling the e5 square.  Instead this game entered USCL lore after 53 ..b2??

 and Gary pounced with 54. Qb8!, not only equalizing (black cannot avoid perpetual) but requiring black's position to contain study-like resources not to lose after 54. ..Kg7 55. Qe5 Kg8 56. Qb8 Kh7?! 57. hg Kg7! 58. Qe5 Kg8! 59. gf Qf7!

Krasik impressively found only move after only move, despite being down to the 30 second increment and contemplating the myriad lost wins.  Even if Gary won the d4 pawn with check and then the Q for the R, the Q+2p vs RR ending would likely have been drawn.  As it was, Krasik could have set one last trap for Gary on move 78 (with an echo on move 81).Black's most dangerous try is 78. ..Kc6!?.  If white plays the natural 79. Rc2, black's K escapes the checks after 79. ..Kb5!.  White (at that point up to over 10 minutes by accumulating increment) would have had to find 79. Kg2!!, the only move to maintain a draw, with the primary point being 79. ..Rf1 80. Rb2! and perpetual. The game ended on move 88, securing the match draw.


The Knights face New England on Wednesday, September 3rd at 710pm. Four time US Champion GM Gata Kamsky will make his USCL debut for the Knights, playing black against GM Alexander Ivanov. Also making his debut for the Knights, Qibiao Wang plays white on board four against the talented child Carissa Yip.

Thanks to our sponsor, ChessNYC!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Photos from the Friar's Club vs. the Boston Blitz

Joining the Knights this year, Gary Huang prepares for his first match against Ilya Krasik.

 Returning Knight Michael Bodek plays Vadim Martirosov. Ed Sullivan looks over his shoulder.

senior master and NY State Champion Nico Checa

and veteran Knight Pascal Charbonneau looks to another epic encounter with Shmelov.

This year we are playing at the NYC landmark Friar's Club. Many thanks to our sponsors, ChessNYC.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 9: Until It's Over

What a heart-stopping match. 

Luck In Chess: Combo That Should Have Netted More

Bodek-Katz after 14. ..Ne5

Bodek played the nice 15. Re5! Re5 16. Nh6! , but only emerged with an extra pawn after 16. ..gh 17. Bf6 Qd6 18. Qg4 Rg5 (h6 pawn guards g5!) 19. Bg5 hg 20. Qg5 Bg7 and Katz's resourceful counterplay eventually secured the half point.

Shirov's Labyrinth

Manuelian-Checa after 17. ..Nc6

Shirov wasn't satisfied with a repetition draw that black offered with 17. ..Na5-c6 (18. Rb1) and played 18. Rc4! against Ganguly in 2009. The players followed 18. ..Be8 19. g4 Nh4 20. Rg3 f6 21. ef Bg6 22. Rc6! Qc6

 Manuelian-Checa after 22. ..Qc6

Shirov continued 23. Nd4! Qh1 24. f5! and Ganguly resigned a few moves later.  Manuelian's memory failed him, though, and he inverted the moves with 23. f5?? allowing Nico back in the game. After 23. ..ef 24. Nd4, Nico had no need to play Qh1 and instead followed with 24. ..Rge8 25. Kf2 and probably could have secured an advantage with 25. ..Qb6!?.

Chekhov's (Checa's) Gun Misfires?

"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun]

 Manuelian-Checa after 31. Rb3
Even the engines are in disbelief...

Nico could have continued 31. ..Qd4! 32. Be3 g3!! 33. hg! (33. Qg3 Rf8 34. Kg1 Qf6 35. Bf2 Bc2 and black wins) Rf8 34. Kg1 Nf3 35. Kg2 Qe4

Manuelian-Checa variation after 35. ..Qe4
Manuelian would have needed to find the fantastic 36. Bf2!! and black has no useful discovery.

Quality Not Quantity

Gelashvili-Stripunsky after 19. Bf4

Stripunsky played 19. ..gf! 20. Bh6?! (bold, but 20. gf de 21. Bb1 ef 22. Bh6 was safer) fg 21. Rg1

Gelashvili-Stripunsky after 21. Rg1

but faltered with 21. ..de? (21. ..Ne4! 22. Be4 Bh4 23. Ke2 Be4 24. Na5 Rc7 25. Ne4 de 26. Nc4 f5 27. Bf4 Rcg7 and black's pawns should tell).  Gelashvili was precise with 22. Bc2 and now the last chance was 22. ..Ng4 23. Bg5 f6 24. Bf4 f5 25. Rg2 Bh4 26. Kf1, though white's extra piece should eventually tell.  Instead, 22. ..Nd5? (seemingly correcting black's pawns) 23. Rg2 Bh4 24. Ke2 f5 25. Nd5! ed 26. Na5 Rc7 27. Rag1 Kf7 28. Ke3 Bf6 29. Bd1 and Stripunsky had no moves and resigned.

Gelashvili-Stripunsky final position

Struggling For Space
Joel Benjamin picked a great opening (pseudo-Panov) and I mishandled the resulting IQP position, beginning on move 10. He followed an idea from Karpov-Dreev Cap d'Agde 2000 after 11. ..a6? and established a very powerful dark squared bind, to go with a tremendous advantage on the clock.

Benjamin-Herman after 17. ..Bd6

By move 18, black's position looked resignable (look at all those weak pawns and bad pieces against all the available outposts for white's knights!). Benjamin continued 18. Qb3 (18. Nc5!?) Ba8 19. Qd3 and I took my shot with 19. ..c5!.  The key for this break was to not allow white a passed c-pawn that would likely end the game upon reaching c6.  If 20. dc Be5 21. Re5 Bc6 22. Nc3 black has the fantastic

Benjamin-Herman variation after 22. Nc3

22. ..Nb4!! and due to the fork on d3, white has no better than the repetition after 23. Qd8 Rfd8 24. ab Rd2 25. Re2 Rd4 26. Na2 Bd5 27. Nc3 Bc6.

Which Side Was Easier To Play?

We began to exchange inaccuracies (on either move 20 or 21, Nd5-e7 with the idea of going to f5 for black) and Benjamin missed a few chances to consolidate, most notably 24. Qd3-g3! (threatening Bh6) Kh8 25. b2-b3!
Witness the transformation.

 Benjamin-Herman after 26. ..Qb3

Not the easiest position to play with both sides having under 2 minutes!

Benjamin-Herman after 32. f3

Unwilling to play 32. ..g7-g5 (preventing Benjamin's excellent h3-h4-h5 plan, but exposing my king) and unable to further activate my pieces, I started to drift and Benjamin methodically improved his position.  After 33. Ne4 Nf4 34. Nf6 Kg7.  White has 35. Bb4!? (idea Bb4-f8), but 35. ..Bf3! 36. Bf8! Kg6! 37. Qc2 Nd3 38. gf Qf3 is, unbelievably, equal.

The End

With Checa's unfortunate mouse slip (though even with Qh8 he stood worse) leaving the match tied 1.5-1.5, the stakes were quite high.

 Benjamin-Herman after 40. ..Qc1

In severe time trouble, we both missed that 41. Bg3! Ne3 42. Nf7! Nf1 43. Kh3! Bf5 44. Kh4! Qc4 45. f4! is just mate, so Benjamin continued 41. Qe8 Qg5 42. Qf7

Benjamin-Herman after 42. Qf7

An immediate draw could have been had by 42. ..Ne3 43. Be3 Qh4 (perpetual), but I went for 42. ..Nf4 retaining the tension. After 43. g3 Nh5 (my intention had been 43. ..Bf1 but I saw at the last moment 44. Qf4 Qh5 45. Qh4 Qf3 46. Qe4! winning), Benjamin had to find 44. f4, though the position remains razor-sharp after 44. ..Qg4 45. Qb7

He finally faltered with 44. Qe6 and after 44. ..Qd2, for the first time, black was not only better but winning. Unable to find a defense after 45. Kg2 Qe2 (the fourth and final "creeping" queen move of the game), Benjamin flagged and we won the match.
Benjamin - Herman final position
--Matt Herman

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pascal Blogs Again!

Bhat-SF - Charbonneau-NY [D37]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Qc2 c5 8.dxc5 Nxc5 9.Be2 dxc4 10.Bxc4 a6 11.a4 b6 12.0-0 Bb7 13.Ne5

White's opening has not been the most dangerous, and black should be able to equalize without any problems. However, I made this move too quickly, and realized that I was forcing myself to get out of trouble by tactical means after 13...Rc8 14.Rfd1 [14.Qe2 Nd5 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.Rfd1 Bf6] 14...Qe8 15.Qe2! thankfully, and somewhat luckily, the clumsy move I now make allows black to parry ideas of b2-b4 (and of general paralysis otherwise) adequately. 15...Rd8! 16.b4 Rxd1+ 17.Nxd1 Ncd7 18.Bxa6 Bxa6 19.Qxa6 Bxb4 20.Nc6 Bc5 21.Nc3 

 The game has been well played by both sides so far, and now I saw the most obvious move would lead to a drawn position: 21...e5 [21...Qa8 was natural and better, but I thought our situation was dicey on board 3 - so I decided to keep chances for both sides ... only to land in a position that is much more difficult for black to play than white. 22.Qxa8 (22.Qb5 Rc8 and only black can be better) 22...Rxa8 23.Rd1 Ba3 24.Bg5 Bb2 and white can draw by finding 25.Bxf6 Nxf6 26.Nb5 followed by Rd8+] 22.Bg3 Qe6 23.Qb7 A strong queen move that I underestimated. I somehow thought my queen would get too active, but in fact white's position is too solid here, and I have to find a way to draw. With little time, we both played the final part reasonably well. 23...Qb3 24.Nb5 Qb2 25.Rf1 Qc2 26.Nxe5 Nxe5 27.Bxe5 Qxa4 28.Nc3 Qd7 29.Qf3 Be7 30.Bxf6 Bxf6 31.Nd5 Be5 32.g3 b5 33.Rb1 Rd8 34.e4 h6 35.Qb3 Rb8 36.Kg2 Kh8 37.Qb4 Qe6 38.Qb3 Bd6 39.Qd3 b4 40.Rb3 Qe5 41.Ne3 Be7 42.Nd5 Bf8 43.Qf3 Qe6 44.Qd3 Re8 45.Nxb4 Rb8 46.Nd5 Rxb3 47.Qxb3 Qxe4+ 48.Qf3 Qxf3+ 49.Kxf3 Bc5 1/2-1/2

Herman-NY - Naroditsky-SF [B86]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Nbd7 8.Bg5 Nc5 9.0-0 Be7 10.Re1 0-0 11.f4 h6 12.Bh4 Qd7 13.Bf2 Matt's preparation in this game was good - although it was also clear Naroditsky expected to see the position before ...Qd7 on the board. 13...Nxb3 14.axb3 b6 15.e5 dxe5 16.fxe5 Nd5

A very interesting situation has arisen, and it seems that white should be much better with the intended 17.Nxd5 [17.Nf5 however, black can uncork the cool and collected 17...Bb4! 18.Nxd5 (18.Nxh6+ may be best 18...gxh6 19.Qg4+ Kh7 20.Qe4+ is a computer line that actually seems to be white's best play. 20...f5 (20...Kh8 is more human 21.Qh4 Kh7 22.Be3 Nxe3 23.Qxb4 with a crazy mess) 21.exf6+ Kh8 22.Nxd5 Qxd5 23.Qxb4 Bb7 24.Qg4 Rg8 25.c4 Qc6 26.Qh3 Rxg2+ 27.Kf1 Rg6 28.Bd4 with a complex position the computer thinks is drawn!) 18...Qxd5 19.Nxh6+ gxh6 20.Qg4+ Kh7 21.Qxb4 and unleash a deathly counter attack 21...Bb7; 17.Ne4 also deserved attention] 17...Qxd5 18.c4 Qd7 19.Qg4 Bb7 white may not be much worse but positionally he has to be very careful. Short of time, Matt overplayed his hand. 20.Rad1 Qc7 21.Rd3 Rfd8 22.Rg3 Bf8 23.Qh5 Kh7 24.Be3 Be4

25.Rf1 [25.Nf3! was a great opportunity to complicate things 25...Kg8 26.Kh1 Bg6 27.Rxg6 fxg6 28.Qxg6 with a messy position still] 25...Rd7 26.Qg4 Qxe5 27.Bxh6 a blunder in a difficult position 27...Qxd4+ 28.Be3 Qe5 29.Qh4+ Kg8 30.Rh3 f6 31.Qh8+ Kf7 32.Rg3 Rad8 33.Rg5 Qxg5 0-1

(7) Lee-SF - Chandra-NY [B22]

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 e6 6.cxd4 d6 7.exd6 Bxd6 Playable but I may prefer to take with the queen and put the bishop on e7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 b6 10.Nc3 Nf6 11.Bg5 Bb7 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.Rad1 Qb8 [13...Be7 appears safer to me intending ...Nd5 at some point] 14.Rfe1 Nd5 15.Ne5 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Be7 leads to a difficult position for black, but it was not easy to suggest something better. 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.Qh5 g6 19.Qh4 Nd5 20.Nb5 Ba6 21.Nd6 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 f5! 

 23.Rxd5!? very interesting sacrifice. White has more than ample compensation for the exchange. However, I'd have been tempted to be more prosaic and control the c-file [23.Rc1 and who knows, the opportunity to sacrifice may arise again after all - while white can move his queen to c4 and play h4-h5 to nudge black a bit] 23...exd5 24.Qd4 [24.Qe7!?] 24...Qc7 25.Qxd5+ Kg7 26.e6 This natural move really lets black off the hook, as the knight on d6 loses his stability [26.h4 would have asked black whether they want to play ...h5 - and kept the pressure] 26...Qe7 27.Qe5+ Kg8 Without stability for the knight, white searches for another outpost, but the worst is over 28.Nb5 [28.Nf7 would have been the practical decision, forcing a drawn but very slightly better endgame after 28...Rxf7 29.exf7+ Qxf7 30.b3 And white's king is a bit safer] 28...Rac8 29.Nc3 Rfe8 30.h4 now Akshat starts playing like a strong grandmaster. 30...Qg7 31.Qb5 Qd4! 32.h5 Qd6!

33.Qb3 Kg7 34.Nb5 Qd2 35.h6+ Kxh6 36.Re3 Rc1+ 37.Kh2 Qxf2 38.Rh3+ Kg7 39.Qa4 Rxe6 40.Qxa7+ Kf6 41.Rf3 Qh4+ 42.Rh3 Qf4+ 43.Rg3 Rh1+ 44.Kxh1 Qxg3 0-1

AKing-NY - Panchanatham-SF [E69]

Nico and Alex prepare before the game

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nc3 d6 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.e4 Re8 9.h3 c6 10.d5 Nc5 11.Re1 a5 12.b3 Nh5 [12...cxd5 13.cxd5 b5! I think poses the question about whether d4-d5 (which is not a common move in that position) is the correct approach.] 13.Be3 now white has a stable edge 13...Na6 14.dxc6 bxc6 15.Qd2 f5 16.Bg5 Qc7 17.Rad1 very well played by Alex. Black is poorly positioned to meet the opening of the lines 17...Bf8 18.exf5 gxf5 

 19.Nh2 [19.Nd4 not easy to spot but very strong 19...Bd7 (19...exd4 20.Rxe8 dxc3 21.Rxf8+ Kxf8 22.Bh6+ Kg8 23.Qg5+ Ng7 24.Re1 (D)

winning, very nice variation) 20.Ndb5 winning] 19...Be6 20.g4! Ng7 21.gxf5 Nxf5 22.Ne4 All of white's pieces are coming to life 22...Bg7 23.Ng4 Nd4 24.Nef6+ Bxf6 25.Nxf6+ Kf7 26.Nxe8 Rxe8 27.Qc3 Nf5 28.Qf3 Rg8 29.Qh5+ Kf8 30.Kh1 Qg7 31.h4 h6 32.Bxc6 Nc7 33.Bd8 Bf7 34.Qxf5 Ne6 35.Rg1 very solid win by Alex King 1-0

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pascal Blogs!

Hello everyone!  This is my first blog post in a long time - and before posting, I had to make sure I remembered how to play - the first three games of the season have been the first three in almost a year for me, and I'm somewhat happy with my play so far.  In the first game, I fell victim to Joel Benjamin's GOTW effort, but I thought the game was quite reasonable.  When we both got low on time, I purposely provoked him to go for an attack, in the hope I could show off my blitz skills in a complicated position.  This backfired completely, as I got into big trouble quickly, and he wrapped things up nicely.  In the second week I took my GOTW revenge as I was able to play a nice combo to win against Hungaski, in a game that was altogether more unclear than clear.  The game vs Sam this week, which I annotate below, was fairly well played, with a couple of inaccuracies from both sides.  It also illustrates a difficult thing in team play, balancing what the team needs with what the position needs. Ultimately, I feel my decision to repeat was wrong, as the position was without risk and it would not have been long for me to realize Bodek's win had evaporated. So I should have tried, for better or worse.

Charbonneau-NY - Shankland-NE [A34]
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 d5 5.0-0 e5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Nc3 Nc7 8.a3 Rb8 This move has been played by strong players, and while it looks weird, it stops for the time being white's idea of playing b4 9.Rb1 [9.b4 would not work out too well since the intended 9...cxb4 10.axb4 Bxb4 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.Qa4+ Nc6 13.Bxc6+ bxc6 14.Qxb4 and white's queen is hanging!]
9...f6 10.Ne1 More habitual would be d3 followed by Be3. The move in the game is probably too slow - by the time white gets in b4, black is well enough developed to more or less equalized. 10...Be7 11.b4 Bf5 [11...cxb4 12.axb4 Bxb4 is too dangerous, white has many moves here that should give him at least a slight edge 13.Nd3 a5 (13...Bxc3 14.Bxc6+) 14.Ba3 being one possibility] 12.Nc2 0-0 13.d3 Qd7 Black has played logical but good moves, and here, I overestimated my chances a bit, mostly by spending too much time. I should have admitted the position was just about equal and made moves. 14.bxc5 [14.Be3 was natural and probably better 14...b6 (14...Ne6 15.Ne4) 15.bxc5 bxc5 and while white's pawn structure looks better, I think black is too active for white to show anything] 14...Bxc5 15.Ne4 [15.Nb4 Nd4 16.e3 Nde6 17.Nbd5 would have been a cleaner way to steer the game towards equality] 15...Be7 16.Be3 Nd5 17.Bd2 b6 white's last few moves have been indecisive, and showed that I was already low on time. Now I realized it was time to make sure I did not fall worse 18.Nb4 Ncxb4 19.axb4 Rbc8 20.b5

 I played this sound positional move quickly, but neither of us noticed the tactical flaw in it 20...Rc7 [20...Be6 this idea came about later in the game, but here it's especially annoying, ...f5 Ng5 Bxg5 Bxg5 Nc3 is threatened with a fork, and it's not easy for white to prevent it without weakening his position, black is better.] 21.Qb3 now white can breathe again and if anything, his position is a bit better because of black's fixed pawns 21...Be6 22.Qb2 Rfc8 23.Rfc1 h6 24.Rxc7 Rxc7 25.Nc3 Bc5 26.Nxd5 Bxd5 27.Bxd5+ Qxd5 28.Rc1 all played with little time, but I managed to play this part well. Now black's move helps white's cause. I think Sam thought my time pressure could show, but the move only helps white turn his slightly better pawn structure into an even slightly better pawn structure. It's not much, but :) 28...e4 29.dxe4 Qxe4 30.Be3 Solidly played 30...Qd5 31.Qb1 ideas of Rd1 31...Qf7 32.Rd1 Rd7 33.Rc1 Rc7 34.Rd1 Rd7 35.Rc1 Rc7

and I agreed to a draw, mostly because I saw our board 3 had a winning position, and board four was worse but it was random enough I thought there were chances. Turns out my evaluation was less than optimal. In reality there is little risk for white here, and if not for the team I would have played on. White's goal will be to push pawns on the kingside, one fine day :) 1/2-1/2

The Knights have a lot to look forward to this season. Nico lost a game this week - but his play has been full of poise. 

Times-NE - Checa-NY [D05]

Nico is a great young player - but in this game, his lack of experience hurts him in the opening.
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 An invitation to play a "noteboom" or a "slav" down a tempo. While this may not be so bad, it needs to be handled very carefully. 5.dxc5 a5 6.Bb5 e6 7.b4

7...axb4 This move helps white a lot - and was based on a miscalculation. [7...Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qb3 Bd7 And while I'd rather be white, black does have compensation here.] 8.cxb4 Bd7 9.Bxc6 Bxc6 10.Nc3 now white's position is easy to play. Nico tried his best to complicate the position, but white's advantage was too stable. We know he's going to bounce back! 10...Be7 11.Bb2 0-0 12.0-0 Qb8 13.Qc2 e5 14.Ne2 A very strong plan 14...e4 15.Nfd4 Ng4 16.Ng3

16.. Bd7 [16...g6 taking the f5 square away from the knight and intending h5-h4, may have been black's best chance] 17.Qe2 f5 18.f4 exf3 19.Qxf3 Rf7 20.h3 Nh6 21.Nge2 Qe5 22.Nf4 The knights are too strong 22...g5 23.Nd3 Qc7 24.Qxd5 Bf6 25.Rf2 Re8 26.Re1 g4 27.Nxf5 Nxf5 28.Bxf6 Be6 29.Qe5 Qd7 30.Nf4 Bxa2 31.Qc3 Be6 32.Nh5 Bd5 33.Be5 gxh3 34.e4 Bxe4 35.gxh3 Qc6 36.Nf6+ Rxf6 37.Bxf6 Re6 38.Be5 Rg6+ 39.Kh2 Nh4 40.Ref1 Rg2+ 41.Rxg2+ Bxg2 42.Qg3+ Qg6 43.Rf6 Nf3+ 44.Rxf3 Bxf3 45.Qxf3 Qe6 46.Qg4+ Qxg4 47.hxg4 Kf7 48.b5 Ke6 49.c6 bxc6 50.b6 Kd7 51.b7 1-0

Matt - whose work schedule looks a lot like mine, has not managed to stay out of time pressure, but he's managed to stay out of trouble for the most part.

Winer-NE - Herman-NY [D30]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 4.e3 Nd7 5.Bd3 Bd6 6.0-0 f5 7.b3 Nh6 8.Ba3 Bxa3 9.Nxa3 Qf6 10.b4 0-0 11.b5 dxc4 12.Bxc4 cxb5 13.Nxb5 Nb6 14.Be2 Nf7 15.Qb3 Nd5 16.Na3 b6 17.Rfc1 Bb7 18.Nc4 Rfd8 19.Na5 bxa5 20.Qxb7 Nd6 21.Qa6 

Black is on the verge of being in trouble but Matt plays the resourceful 21...f4! 22.exf4 Nxf4 23.Bf1 Nh3+ [23...Rab8 24.Qxa5 (24.g3 Nd5 25.Bg2 Rb2 26.Qxa5 Ne4 with close to enough counterplay) 24...Nh3+ seemed to be a better move order for black] 24.gxh3 Qxf3 25.Bg2 Qf4 26.Qe2 [26.Bxa8 Rxa8 27.Qe2 in hindsight this capture looks like it is safe enough for white, who must have had knightmares landing on f3.] 26...Rab8 the worst is over for black, and matt manages to handle the rest of the game precisely despite low time 27.Qxe6+ Kh8 28.Qe5 Rf8 29.Qxf4 Rxf4 30.Rab1 Rbf8 31.Rc5 Rxf2 32.Rxa5 Nc4 33.Rg5 h6 34.Rg3 Rxa2 35.Bd5 Ra4 36.Bxc4 Rxc4 37.Rb7 Rc1+ 38.Kg2 Rc2+ 39.Kg1 Re8 40.Kf1 Rxh2 41.Rgxg7 at this point I was not sure who was trying to win, but it ended as it should anyway 41...Rxh3 42.Rh7+ Kg8 43.Rbg7+ Kf8 44.Rxa7 Kg8 45.Rag7+ Kf8 1/2-1/2

Bodek looks like he should win every game!

Bodek-NY - Brattain-NE [B72]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 g6 7.Bc4 Bg7 8.Bb3 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Be3 Bd7 11.Re1 Na5 12.f4 Nxb3 13.axb3 Rc8 14.e5 Ne8 15.Bf2 dxe5 16.fxe5 Nc7 17.Qf3 Nb5 18.Ncxb5 axb5 19.Qxb7 Rc7 20.Qb6 Qb8 21.Qxb8 Rxb8 22.b4 e6 23.c3 Rcc8 24.Nb3 Bc6 25.Bc5 Bd5 26.Nd4 Ra8 27.Bd6 Bc4 28.Ra5 f6 29.b3 Bd5 30.Nxb5 Rxa5 31.bxa5 Bxb3 32.a6 fxe5 33.a7 Bd5

Bodek has played very well to obtain a winning advantage. His play has been so steady I assumed he would not let this one slip, but it turned out to be more slippery than it looked: 34.Bxe5 [34.Ra1 Ba8 (34...e4 35.Nc7) 35.Nc7 Bf8 36.Nxa8 Bxd6 37.Nb6 was the most "human" way to win] 34...Bxe5 35.Rxe5 Ra8 36.Nc7? [36.Rxd5! exd5 37.Kf2 Kf7 38.Ke3 Ke7 39.Kd4 Kd7 40.Kxd5 Rf8 41.Kc5 is completely winning - but it's easier for a computer to be willing to give up an exchange than the human; 36.Re1 Bc4 37.Nd6 Ba2! is not so simple; 36.g4 Kg7 37.g5 is very human and should be close to winning too] 36...Rxa7 37.Nxd5 exd5 38.Rxd5 Rook endings are never easy! 38...Rc7 39.Rd3 Kf7 40.Kf2 Ke6 41.Ke2 Ke5 42.Re3+ Kf5 43.Kd3 Rd7+ 44.Kc4 Kf4 45.Rf3+ Ke4 46.Rg3 Rd2 47.Kb3 Kf4 48.Rg4+ Kf5 49.c4 Rd3+ 50.Kc2 Ra3 51.c5 Ke5 52.Kd2 Kd5 black has played well and the draw is near 53.Rg5+ Kd4 54.h4 Ra2+ 55.Kd1 Ra6 56.h5 Rc6 57.hxg6 hxg6 58.Ke2 Rxc5 59.Rxg6 Ke4 60.Kf2 [60.Rf6 had to be played - and while it's a draw, black would still need to be careful with his king cut off] 60...Kf4 61.Rg8 Rc2+ 62.Kg1 Rb2 63.Kh2 Rb6 64.Rh8 Rg6 65.g3+ Kg5 66.Kh3 Kf6 67.Rh7 Kg5 68.Rh4 Rc6 69.Rg4+ Kh5 70.Rg8 Rc3 71.Ra8 Kg5 72.Ra5+ Kg6 73.Kh4 Rc4+ 74.g4 Rc6 75.Ra8 Kg7 76.Rd8 Rc5 77.Rd7+ Kg6 78.Rd6+ Kg7 79.Re6 Rb5 80.Kg3 Rb4 81.Kf3 Kf7 82.Re4 Rxe4 83.Kxe4 Kg6 84.Kf4 Kf6 85.g5+ Kg6 86.Kg4 Kg7 87.Kf5 Kf7 88.g6+ Kg7 89.Kg5 Kg8 90.Kh5 Kg7 91.Kg5 Kg8 92.Kf6 Kf8 93.Ke6 Kg7 94.Kf5 Kg8 1/2-1/2

  And some of our players have yet to make their debut.

Having to play for the Knights brings back something in me - and so I've also been dabbling on chess.com and ICC - blitzing a fair bit to get back into tactical shape.  2013 has been a year for me to get back into shape - but chess-wise, I clearly still have work to do!  It's still difficult to come play at the Marshall after having been at work for nearly 12 hours - but somehow, I can't stay away from it. 

Until next time...

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