Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Week 2: Bloodied

It was impossible to top the score and difficult to surpass the emanating expectations from our week 1 whitewash of the Boston Blitz. Our regular season nemesis, the New Jersey Knockouts, was just the team to bring us back to earth, defeating us 2.5-1.5.

Never lacking in drama, the match went deep into Monday night, as the drawn game on board 2, coupled with an exchange of wins on 1 and 4 left FM Alec Getz battling FM Victor Shen in a complicated and exciting game that frayed nerves (most notably Alex Katz's and mine, prompting League VP Arun Sharma to request that at least one of us play next week!) and was classic USCL.

In the end, Victor Shen continued his dominance of the Knights and scored the winning points for New Jersey.

On board 1, GM Boris Gulko won a smooth game against GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, but nearly let things slip at the end!

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 c5 6. Nf3 d5 7. O-O cd 8.
ed dc 9. Bc4 b6 10. Bg5 Bb7 11. Re1 Nc6 12. a3 Be7 13. Qd3 h6 14. Bf4
Bd6 15. Bd2 Rc8 16. Rad1 Rc7?!

16. ..Bb8 felt more circumspect, preparing to meet 17. d5 with 17. ..Na5 and the tactics are OK for black, with mass exchanges looming.

17. d5! ed 18. Nd5 Nd5 19. Bd5 Ne7 20. Be4!
Be4 21. Qe4

The symmetrical pawn structure should guarantee equality if black can untangle his slightly awkward pieces. Gulko makes that job near-impossible!

21. ..Rd7 22. Bc3 Ng6 23. Qg4 Kh7 24. g3!

Ending all pretense of Bh2 tactics and killing prospects for black's Ng6.

24. ..f5 25. Qa4

Also possible is 25. Qh5!, after which it's hard to find a single move for black!

25. ..f4 26. Re6 fg
27. Qe4 gf

The last dramatic moment of the game. 28. Kg2! ends matters cleanly. Instead...

28. Kf1??

Leaving the door open to a fantastic shot for black!

28. ..Bc5??

Giorgi misses his chance with this very logical move. Instead 28. ..Be5!! allows black to fight for a draw. If 29. Rd7 Qd7 30. Qg6 Kg8 then white is forced to play 31. Kf2 Qd5 32. Re5 Qf3 33. Ke1 Qf1 34. Kd2 Rf2 35. Ke3 Rf3 36. Kd4 Qd1 37. Kc4 Qa4 and now white has two choices. If 38. Bb4 Qb3 39. Kb5 a6! 40. Ka6 Qa4 41. Kb7 Qd7 is a perpetual as the b6 pawn is taboo. If 38. Kd5 Qd7, white must return to c4. If 38. b4 b5! 39. Rb5 Rc3 40. Kc3 Qb5, white is nominally better in the Q+P endgame, but it should be drawn. 29. Qg6 Kg8 30. Be5 Rd1 31. Kf2 Rf3! is also drawn.

29. Rd2?! Rff7?

29. ..Qc8! offered more resistance.

30. Qg6 Kg8 31. Bg7 Rg7 32. Re8 1:0

On board 2, GM Alex Lenderman was unable to generate a significant edge against IM Dean Ippolito and was arguably worse before accepting Dean's draw offer.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 dc 5. Bg2 c5 6. O-O Nc6 7. dc Qd1 8.
Rd1 Bc5 9. Nbd2 c3 10. bc O-O 11. Nb3 Be7 12. Nfd4 Bd7 13. Nc6 Bc6 14.
Bc6 bc 15. Na5 Rfc8 16. Bg5 Bd8 17. Nc4 Ne4 18. Bd8 Rd8 19. Rd8 Rd8
20. Rc1 Rd5 21. Rc2 Kf8 22. Nb2 Ra5 23. Nd3 Ra3 24. c4 f6 0.5:0.5

On board 4, NM Alex Ostrovskiy moved to 2-0 with a fine victory over FM Arthur Shen.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nde2 Be7 8.
Ng3 Be6 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O d5 11. ed Nd5 12. Nd5 Bd5 13. Nf5 Be6 14.
Qd8 Bd8 15. Nd6

Despite achieving the d6-d5 break, black has some problems in this endgame. The b7 and e5 pawns are weak, the queenside is a bit tricky to develop and white's majority is looming.

15. ..Bd5 16. Rfd1 Bc6 17. Nc4!?
Nd7 18. a4 Bc7 19. Bf3 Rad8?

It is a testament to the subtlety of this position and the depth of Alex's plan that this move is a blunder. A better try was 19. ..Nf6.

Bc6 bc 21. a5! f5 22. Bb6! Bb6 23. ab

White has a dangerous passed pawn on b6, juicy weaknesses to target on a6/c6, phenomenal squares for the c4 N and a winning edge.

23. ..e4 24. Kf1!?

24. Ra6 was met by 24. ..Nb6! but 24. g4! both creates luft (threatening Ra6) and further damages black's already tattered pawn structure.

24. ..Nb8 25. Nd6 Rf6 26. Nb7
Rd7 27. Nc5

Another fantastic maneuver! GM Alex Yermolinsky eventually remarked that white was playing like a 2700 FIDE!

27. ..Rd5 28. b4 Rfd6 29. Rd5 cd 30. b5 Rb6 31. ba Na6 32. Ra6

And the rest is a mop-up!

32. ..Rb2 33. Rd6 Rc2 34. Rd5 g6 35. Nb3 Rc3 36. Nd2 Rc7 37. Ke2 Kf7 38. Rd4 Kf6
39. Rc4 Ra7 40. Rc2 Ra6 41. Nc4 h6 42. Ke3 Ra1 43. Kd4 Rg1 44. Ne3 Ra1 45.
h4 Ra4 46. Rc4 Ra2 47. Rc6 Kf7 48. Rc2 Ra5 49. Nd5 Ra4 50. Ke5 e3 51.
Rc7 Ke8 52. Ne3 Rh4 53. Rc4 Rh5 54. Ke6 Kd8 55. Nd5 Rh1 56. Kf6 Rf1 57.
Nb6 Rf2 58. Rc8#! 1:0

Board 3 - not the cleanest, but certainly the most exciting - was a slugfest between FM Alec Getz and FM Victor Shen, with Shen landing the knockout.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cd 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nf3 h6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Re1 O-O 10. h3 Be6 11. Bf1 Rc8 12. Nd5 Bd5 13. ed Nb4 14. c4
a5 15. a3 Na6 16. Bd2 Nd7 17. b4 f5 18. Qb3 Bf6 19. Bc3 Qb6 20. Nd2 ab 21.
ab e4 22. Bf6 Rf6 23. Rab1 Ne5 24. Qc3 Qc7 25. Qe3 Qf7 26. Kh1 Qh5 27.
Rb3 Qh4 28. Kg1 Rg6 29. Rc1 Nc7 30. Qd4
Ne8 31. c5 Nf6 32. Rbc3 Ra8 33. c6

34. c7!?

Roundly criticized by the kibitzers, but 34. cb Rb8 35. Qa7 Nfd7 36. Rc8 e3!! gives black some life.

34. ..Rc8 35. b5 b6!?

Worth a shot in time pressure (Shen down to 2 minutes). White should "sacrifice" the exchange with 36. Qb6 Nd5 as the queenside pawns are soon irresistible. Instead, Getz's bluff works and he has a chance to gain the advantage.

36. Ra1? Nfd7! 37. Ra7 Nc5?!

Shen doesn't ignore a second opportunity and plays the intuitive exchange sacrifice. 37. ..Qf6! was called for and with Shen down to 70 seconds, black would be for choice.

38. Rc5! bc 39. Qe3 Nd7?

39. ..Qe7! 40. b6 Nd7 41. Qb3 Nb6!! 42. Qb6 e3! and black has at least a perpetual.

40. Nc4 Qe7 41. Qb3 f4 42. b6 e3 43. Bd3 e2 44. Bg6 Kh8!?

44. ..Kg6 45. Qb1! Kf7 46. Ra1! g6 47. Kh2! f3! 48. Qb3 also works for white

45. Ra1!?

Shen makes the pragmatic decision, but glory was to be had with 45. b7!! e1Q 46. Kh2 Rf8 47. Qf3! (diagram) when an extra queen cannot save black!

45. ..e1Q 46.
Re1 Qe1 47. Kh2 Nb6 48. Nd6 Qf2 49. Nc8 Nc8 50. Bf5 c4 51. Qc3?! f3!
52. Qf3 Qc5 53. Qf4

53. ..Nb6?

53. ..Nd6!? would have forced white to find the only move 54. Bg6! and created the 54. Qd6?? Qd6+! swindle possibility.

54. d6 Nd5 55. Qe5! 1:0

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