Friday, September 11, 2009

Week 2 Roundup

We got on the board this week against a tough Seattle team, headlined by super-GM Hikaru Nakamura and sporting the second highest rated lineup in USCL history.

On board 1, Hikaru played a non-opening and received a full point due to an unfortunate blunder from Giorgi, who had played a stellar game til that point.

On board 3, Jay defended well against FM Michael Lee, finding 17. ..a5! and 18. ..b4 to secure at least equality.

On board 4, in his debut match, Raven took queens off early against NM Howard Chen and built some queenside pressure. He avoided the critical 21. b5!?, which would have led to the following forced sequence 21. ..cb 22. Ba5 b6 23. Bb6! (23. cb Kb7! =/+) Nb6 24. cb Kb7! 25. Ra6 Ra8! 26. Ra8 Ra8 27. Ra8 Ka8 28. Bf1 Bd8 29. Bb5 (29. Kf2!? Bb6 30. Ke3 Kb7 31. Bb5 is drawn) Bb6 30. f4 Be5 31. Kg2 Bb2 32. Bd7 Kb7 33. Be6 Kc6 34. Bf5, when black likely has enough to hold a draw. After 21. b3 and the critical 24. g4!, preventing black from g5-g4, a mutual fortress arose and peace was agreed.

Pascal played a star game on board 2 to secure the match draw for the Knights.

Charbonneau - Serper

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4. Nd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. 0-0 d6 7. c4 Be7 8. Nc3 0-0 9. Qe2 Re8

A justifiably rare move. Far more popular are Qd8-c7 and b7-b6.

10. Kh1 b6 11. f4 Bb7 12. Bd2

A novelty, and a bad one. White's attack begins to play itself. 12. ..Nc6 might be an improvement.

13. e5! Nfd7

14. f5!?

White's pawns lurch forward. Also strong was 14. Ne6! fe 15. Qh5! Nf8 16. Qe8 Nc6 17. Qh5 de 18. Be4! +-

14. ..Ne5 15. fe Bf6 16. Nd5

White plays the simplest line and is comfortably winning, but brutal and direct was 16. Rf6! gf 17. Ne4! Re6 (only) 18. Ne6 fe 19. Nf6 Kh8 20. Nh7! Nd3 21. Ng5! Nc6 22. Qh5 Kg8 23. Qg6 Qg7 24. Qe6 Kh8 25. Qh3 Kg8 26. Qd3 +-

16. ..Bd5 17. cd Nd3 18. Qd3 fe 19. Ne6 Qf7 20. Qg3 Ra7 21. Bc3 Nd7 22. Qd6 Qe7 23. Qg3 Bc3 24. bc Nc5 25. Rae1 Ne6 26. Re6 Qd8 27. Qe3!

And the rest is easy.

27. ..Rae7 28. Qb6 Qb6 29. Rb6 Rc7 30. d6 Rf7 31. Kg1 a5 32. c4 Rf1 33. Kf1 Kf7 34. c5 Ke6 35. Rb7 Kd5 36. Rc7 1:0

With that spectacular victory, the Knights drew even and pushed their record to 0.5/2.

I would be remiss if, after covering such a spectacular game, I didn't mention another worthy contender for GOTW, played by board 3 for our fierce rivals, IM-elect Marc Esserman of the Boston Blitz. Esserman conducted the white pieces with immense precision and energy -- the 10 move sequence of captures and checks is the longest in USCL history to end a decisive game.

Esserman - Simpson

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 b5 6. Bb3 Ne4!?

A rare move, as black often follows 5. ..b5 with either 6. ..Bc5 or 6. ..Bb7.

7. Re1 d5?!

This may be too much. Also possible was 7. ..Nc5 8. Bd5! Bb7 9. d4 Ne6 10. Ne5 Be7 and black should be OK.

8. Nc3!

Black is slightly underdeveloped and Esserman wastes no time in facilitating the rapid deployment of his pieces. The forcing nature of the remaining moves is stunning.

8. ..Nc3

The machine-like 8. ..Be6 leads to the depressing 9. Ne4 de 10. Be6 fe 11. Re4 Bc5 12. b3! and white will pick up the weak e-pawns.

9. dc Be6 10. a4!

Esserman is not willing to settle for equality after 10. Ne5 Ne5 11. Re5 c6!

10. ..Rb8?!N

This is a novelty and it is a slight improvement on the awful 10. ..Ne7 played in 1939(!) in Buenos Aires. Given the speed at which the white pieces would flood into black's position following the opening of the a-file, 10. ..b4! was more circumspect. Play could continue 11. Ne5 Ne5 12. Re5 c6! 13. cb Bd6! (not 13. ..Bb4 14. Qg4! Bd6 15. Qg7 Be5 16. Qe5 with massive compensation for the exchange) and black should have equality.

11. ab ab 12. Ra6! Qd7

The most natural move, though in retrospect 12. ..Rb6 might have limited the damage. White emerges a pawn up after 13. Rb6 cb 14. Qe2! but black can survive. Esserman now unleashes a torrent.

13. Rc6! Qc6 14. Ne5 Qc5?

Black had to play 14. ..Qd6! with two potential outcomes

A) 15. Nf7! Kf7 16. Qh5! g6 17. Qf3 Kg7 18. Bf4 Qd7 19. Be5 Kg8 20. Bh8 Re8 21. Be5! (21. Re6 c6!!) c6! with compensation due to the limited activity of white's Bb3.

B) 15. Bf4 Be7! 16. Ng6 Qd7 17. Nh8 Kf8 with similar compensation

If Simpson tried 14. ..Qb6, two branches emerge

A) 15. Bd5 Bc5! 16. Be6 Bf2 17. Kh1 Qe6 18. Re2 0-0 19. Nd3 Qd5 20. Rf2 with two pieces for the rook. Better however, would be

B) 15. Nf7! Bc5!

and now, not 16. Re6? Qe6 17. Bd5 Qf6 18. Nh8 Qf2 19. Kh1 Kf8!! and black will soon bring his rook into the game with devastating effect, but

16. Kh1!

with a few choices

A) 16. ..0-0 17. Ng5!!
(17. Re6? Qe6 18. Bd5 Qb6! and the discovery brings white nothing) and wins or

B) 16. ..Kf7 17. Qf3 Kg6 (17. ..Ke8 18. Bd5 Kd7 19. Be6 Qe6 20. Re6 Ke6 21. Qg4 +-) 18. Re5! h6 19. Bd5! and wins

15. Nf7! Kf7 16. Qf3

White also wins after 16. Qh5. Instead of the game-like 16. ..Ke7, black has the option of 16. ..g6, which loses after 17. Qf3 Bf5 18. g4! Be7 19. gf Bf6 20. Bd5 Kg7 21. Re6!

16. ..Ke7 17. Bd5 Rb6 18. Bg5!

18. Re5 also wins but the text gives black the possibility of losing in quicker fashion than the depressing Q+2p vs RR endgame that would have arisen after 18. ..Qd6 19. Bg5 Kd7 20. Be6 Qe6 21. Re6 Re6 22.g3!

18. ..Kd7 19. Be6

Also possible is 19. Re5, but the text contains a tiny practical trap.

19. ..Re6 20. Qf7 Re7?

Black could carry on a grim defense after 20. ..Kc6, but clings to the illusion of hanging onto his extra material.

21. Be7 Be7 22. Qe6!

After 22. ..Kd8 white can play the direct 23. Ra1! or the picturesque 23. Re5!

Simpson resigned.


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