Last night we beat the powerhouse San Francisco Mechanics by a comfortable 3-1 margin on the strength of a very classical +2 with the white pieces and =2 with black.
On board 1, as alluded to by Irina, Giorgi unfurled a devastating piece of preparation against Josh Friedel's Nimzo-Indian. In a rare piece-sacrifice line played before by both Aronian and Kharlov, Giorgi was soon up two pawns, with a massive edge on the clock and converted with precise endgame technique.
On board 2, Irina played the super-solid QGA and played a very strong game against new American GM Jesse Kraii. Kraii was unsatisfied with equality and blundered a queenside pawn which gave Irina winning chances in a rook and pawn endgame. With the match in hand, Irina played for a win without risk, unfortunately missing a very good try and had to settle for a draw.
On board 4, Yaacov again trotted out his trademark Nf6 Caro-Kann and reached a balanced double rook endgame against phenom Yian Liou. Sidestepping any tricks, Yaacov steered the game to a peaceful conclusion.
On board 3, I faced former World Under 12 champion FM Daniel Naroditsky, one of America's brightest stars. He chose to repeat a line that had arisen during my disappointing loss last year to Eric Rodriguez.
Herman - Naroditsky
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. f3 Nbd7 9. Be3 Nc5 10. Qd2 Bb7 11. 0-0-0 Be7 12. g4 Nfd7 13. g5 Ne5 14. h4 0-0
Against Rodriguez, I played 15. f4 and could only muster equality, before blundering a pawn and losing. White has better!
15. h5! b4 16. Nce2 a5
Pawn rushes against opposite-castled kings. This is definitely a Sicilian!
17. g6 a4 18. h6!
Now at least one kingside file will be opened.
A very interesting choice, as black removes a knight from the center, while maintaining queenside threats.
Computers seem to love 19. hg, but black has the very simple 19. ..ab! and after 20. gfQ Bf8, full compensation for the exchange.
Black's a/b pawn duo mimics the advance of white's h/g tandem.
20. Nc3! a3?! 21. cb
The potential counterplay against the white king has dissipated.
21. ..ed 22. hg Re8 23. Qh2 Bh4
If 23. ..Nh4 24. Nf5 Bg5 25. Bg5 Qg5 26. f4 Qg2 27. Qg2 Ng2 28. Rh7!! and wins
Kasparov has often said that a strong Nf5 is worth a pawn -- here it is worth a king!
24. ..de 25. Rd6 Nd7 26. f4!
The prosaic Qd2 also wins, but it is impossible to avoid a simple pawn move that deadens every black piece save the a8 rook!
26. ..Re6 27. Bd4! h5 28. Re6 fe 29. Nh6 Kh7 30. g8Q Qg8 31. Ng8 Rg8 32. Rg1 Ndf8 33. f5!
Black loses another piece and thus resigned.