Thursday, October 1, 2009

Knights off to a FANTASTIC start!!

Hi all, for a long time I have claimed I am about to post. I found the most lame way to do so, posting someone else's post! So without further ado, I hereby present Irina's post and make my first post on this blog. I continue to promise that I am about to post. Don't lose faith in the Knights!

Hey guys,

Did you SEE Matt’s game against Daniel Naroditsky!!?!? Oh my god!! I only saw it after getting home from the match. Thankfully, Matt was sitting on the opposite side of the room, and I never had an inkling of what was going on in his game…Well, actually, I did glance at his board once, the position was already totally crazy; I made a guess that he was doing alright, and stopped thinking about it, since there was no way I could evaluate it while playing my own game.
But back to his game. WOW!!! I had no idea we had such a killer on our team. I’ll let him tell you about it in more depth, but what stood out to me…first, Matt offered his light squared bishop twice in the game! (on b3 and then on d5). I also like the cold-blooded move 20.Nc3, dealing with Black’s threats on the queenside and simultaneously opening the second rank for operations by White’s queen. Then 26.f4 was another non-obvious move, taking a time-out in the attack to clamp down on any counterplay by Black.
I haven’t studied the competition closely, but to me…this game looks like GOTW winner. Go Matt!!
On to our other beautiful victory…right before the match, Giorgi told me he’d prepared the line that you saw in the game. He said he got so into the analysis that he stayed up till 3:30 in the morning working on it! And then it appeared on the board…I don’t know how far his preparation went, but I’m assuming it contributed a lot to the final result. Looking at the game from home, I’d describe it as: very good preparation, leading to a position ripe for finding knockout blows, which were found, and then precise endgame technique. This is Giorgi’s first win in the USCL, and now that he’s broken out of his mouse slips, move order mix ups, and one move blunders, I think we’ll get to see his real level of play. Because he is that strong.
Well, Matt won fairly quickly, and Giorgi was nursing two extra pawns in the endgame, so all that remained was for me and Yaacov to hold with Black.
My game with Jesse was a tense, strategic battle in the dxc5 line of the QGA. I’ll admit, I spent most of my day searching for equality for Black in the dxc5 QGA, and it was not the most inspiring day! I guessed this line was likely to come up, based on the fact that Jesse had played it before, and that Jesse enjoys playing endgames, and has a tendency to choose lines that transition from opening-endgame right away when given the opportunity (ie, his dxe5 against the King’s Indian, with which he won a very nice game against Bruci Lopez earlier this season). It’s the kind of line that is not much subject to concrete analysis, so even spending many hours on it with the computer doesn’t get you that far.
So why did I allow a line where Black has to fight for equality from the get-go, with very little prospective of playing for a win himself?
Well. If I can not defend Black’s position in the dxc5 QGA, an outwardly innocuous endgame line, how can I play the QGA at all? But the QGA…is my opening. I’ve played it since I was eleven years old. So I’ll defend it against the sharpest 7.Bb3 lines and against the dry, bore-you-to-tears 7.dxc5.
You know, 7.dxc5 has inflicted pain on me in the past. I didn’t appreciate its nuances, and I lost a number of games in it. But because I lost ,I was forced to learn how to play it. And I did learn. It’s actually a structure of position that I feel comfortable in now. And here’s the funny thing: I could have played into Jesse’s pet King’s Indian line, and tried to fight my way out of += there, but Jesse has so much more experience in it than I do. But in the 7. dxc5 Queen’s Gambit Accepted, I have more experience. So that’s why I chose to fight on this turf.
Actually, the game didn’t bore me to tears. We left ‘theory’ very early, when Jesse came up with the Nb3-Nfd4-Na5 setup, and I was left to my own devices. I think I reacted pretty well (Bd6-Nb6-e5), maybe optimally, because I got a very comfortable game. Somewhere along the way Jesse overpressed, maybe under the influence of how SF was doing on their Black boards, and his knight got stuck on c6. The game turned in Black’s favor. I didn’t do exhaustive analysis, but I think I should have won the rook endgame (56...Kd5 was just a blunder; 56...g5 seems to be a very good winning attempt).
Yaacov also reached some rook endgame, and his game ended in a quite logical draw.
So in the end we won 3-1. We could have gotten a little more out of that, but that’s okay. It was an important victory for our team, and as for me…I was glad to get in a match before leaving for Saint Louis! With all my traveling (three weeks in China and now two in Saint Louis), this is the only match I’ll have played until at least week Eight.
Yeah, for a ‘manager’ I’m not there that much. But I am always with the Knights in spirit! When I was in China, I followed their games live, because with the twelve hour time difference, the games were played during my mornings. That was convenient, except my own preparation didn’t advance that much during the Knights games 
Anyway, when I’m not there, Pascal takes care of the Knights for me. I leave them in the most competent hands you’ll ever find 
Good luck to San Francisco for the rest of their matches. I hope to face them one more time this season.

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