Wednesday night got off to a celebratory start, as GM Pascal Charbonneau and super Knights fan Beth Windsor had organized a surprise birthday party for GM Alex Lenderman (who turns 21 on Thursday!), FM Alec Getz (who unfortunately could not be there, but turned 17!) and Mrs. Ostrovskiy (Alex Ostrovskiy's mom). Sandwiches from Lenny's, birthday cake and champagne provided by Marshall Chess Club manager Marcus Fenner set the tone for a great night.
The Knights have followed a very simple formula en route to a 4-1 record, with 15/20 game points: win with white and draw with black. After tonight's match, the Knights are a staggering 9.5/10 with the white pieces and a very respectable 5.5/10 with black.
I took a short hiatus from blogging this week, as work and preparing for my first USCL match this year (with the black pieces against an IM, no less!) provided a full plate.
The match flowed well, with Pascal quickly achieving a winning position against GM Larry Kaufman on board 2, while Alex Lenderman, though overlooking a pin tactic, seemed to fully neutralize GM Sergey Erenburg's white pieces on board 1. On board 4, NM Alex Ostrovskiy (New York State Champion!) was establishing a considerable space advantage on the white side of an Alekhine against NM Ian Schoch who had scored two crazy victories in his first two outings this season. Meanwhile, on board 3, IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat and I were battling it out in a very strategically complex Slav/Grunfeld.
As the match wore on, Pascal demonstrated highly accurate technique against Kaufman and though his game was technically the last to finish, its result was never in doubt. Alex Lenderman traded down into a bishops-of-opposite-colors endgame and played precisely to establish an unbreakable blockade. On board 4, Schoch missed a few critical moments and put his queenside knight into a self-pin, immediately resigning with Ostrovskiy on the verge of an extra piece with no compensation. These positive results lifted some of the pressure from what I felt to be an enormously intense battle, with both Enkhbat and myself drifting into deep time pressure. With the tension reaching its apex, a more-or-less forced liquidation appeared on the board and, like Lenderman, I had reached a BOOC ending. When the smoke cleared, I had a nominal edge but with the match nearly in hand and the clock nearing midnight, I offered Enkhbat a draw which he graciously accepted.
On to the games!
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2 e6 5. Nb3 Nd7 6. Nf3 Qc7 7. Be2 f6 8. 0-0 fe
This natural move appears to be a novelty.
9. de 0-0-0 10. Nbd4 Ne5 11. Re1 Nf3!?
Also possible was 11. ..Bd6!? 12. Ng5 Re8 13. f4 Nf7 14. Nge6 Re6 15. Nf5 Nf6 16. Nd6 Qd6 17. Bg4 Ng4 18. Qg4 Rhe8 19. Bd2 h6 with near equality.
12. Bf3 Qd7
Not a bad move - in fact it may be black's best. Fortunately black's position is solid enough that the following pin tactic only regains white's lost pawn.
13. Ne6 Be6 14. Re6! Nf6 15. Qe2 Bd6 16. Bg5 Rde8 17. Re1 Re6 18. Qe6 Qe6 19. Re6 Kd7 20. Re1 Re8 21. Re8 Ke8 22. Be3 Be5
Erenburg begins to make some progress, but Alex comfortably holds the draw.
23. c3 a6 24. Be2 Kf7 25. h3 Ne4 26. Bd3 Nd6 27. f4 Bf6 28. Bc5 Be7 29. Bh7!? g6 30. Bd6 Bd6 31. f5 g5
Alex was banking on this blockade when he "sacrificed" the h7 pawn.
32. Kf2 Bf4 33. Ke2 Kf6 34. Bg6 Be5 35. Kf3 a5 36. Ke3 Bg3 37. b3 Bh2 38. Kd3 Bd6 39. c4 dc 40. Kc4 Ke5 41. a4 Bb4 42. g3 Be1 43. g4 Kf6 44. Kc5 Bf2 45. Kd6 b5!
White's 2nd extra pawn is as meaningless as the first.
46. Kc6 ba 47. ba Be1 48. Kd5 Bf2 49. Be8 Be1 50. Bb5 Bf2 51. Be8 Be1 52. Bb5 Bf2 53. Be8 0.5:0.5
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 c5 6. Be3 Qb6 7. c4!?
Rare. More popular is 7. Nc3 and either 7. ..Nc6 8. 0-0 or 7. ..Qb2 8. Qb1! with sharp play.
7. .. Qb2 8. Nbd2 Nc6 9. cd cd??
9. ..ed! was forced. 10. dc would follow with an interesting game ahead.
10. Nc4 Qc2 11. dc!?
White is winning in all of these lines, but Pascal's first chance to quickly end the game was 11. Qc2! Bc2 12. dc de 13. cb Rb8 14. Rc1 Bb4 15. Kf1 Ba4 16. Nb6!! (diagram) Rb7 17. Na4.
11. ..Qd1 12. Rd1!?
Again, Pascal had an opportunity to win in style with 12. Bd1 de 13. cb Bb4 14. Ke2 Rb8 15. Ba4 Kf8 16. Rhc1 Rb7 17. Na5!! (diagram).
12. ..de 13. Nd6 Bd6 14. ed bc 15. d7 Kd8 16. Ne5 Nh6 17. Nc6 Kc7 18. d8Q Rhd8 19. Nd8 Rd8 20. Rd8 ef 21. Kf2 Kd8 22. Rc1!
Cutting off the king. The rest is a matter of Pascal's precise technique.
22. ..Ng8 23. Rc4 Ne7 24. Bf3 Nc8 25. Rb4 Nb6 26. a4 Kc7 27. a5 Nd5 28. Bd5 ed 29. Ke3 Bc8 30. Kd4
30. ..Kc6 31. Rb8 Kc7 32. Rb3 Be6 33. Kc5 g6 34. Rb4 h5 35. g3! d4 36. Rd4 Bd7 37. Rf4 Be6 38. Rb4 Bc8 39. Kd5 Be6 40. Ke5 Kc6 41. a6 Kc5 42. Rb7 Bc4 43. Ra7 Kb6 44. Re7 Ka6 45. Rf7 Bf7 46. Kf7 g5 48. Kg6 h4 49. g4! 1:0
1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 3. c4 Nb6 5. ed cd 6. Nc3 g6 7. Be3 Bg7 8. Rc1 0-0 9. b3 N6d7?!
Not bad, but 9. ..e5 and 9. ..a5 are more popular.
10. Nf3 Nf6 11. h3 d5 12. Bd3 Nc6 13. 0-0 Bf5 14. Be2 Qa5 15. Qd2 Rfd8 16. g4!?
Ostrovskiy goes for it with this risky/aggressive move.
16. ..Bc8 17. Rfd1 dc 18. bc!?
18. Bc4! looked to put more pressure on black
Schoch is up to the task and challenges white's kingside pawn spike.
19. g5 Ne8 20. Bf1 Qf5?! 21. Qe2 Nd6?
Black had to go for the complications starting with 21. ..Bd4!? 22. Nd5 e5! 23. Bg2! Be3 24. Qe3 Bd7, though white has massive compensation for the pawn.
22. d5! Na5 23. Nh4 Qd7 24. c5 Nf5 25. c6! and black gets overrun or 22. ..Ne5 23. Nh4 Qd7 24. c5 Nf5 25. Nf5 Qf5 26. f4! Nd7 27. Nb5 Nf8 28. Bg2 and white controls the entire board.
22. ..Qa5 23. Nb5
Shoch cracks under the pressure. Better was 23. ..Bd7!, waiting for white to show his hand.
24. cb Nb4?
Immediately losing a piece, but 24. ..Nb8 was depressing.
25. Bd2 Bf5 26. Qc4 1:0
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 dc 5. Qc4 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. e4 0-0 8. Be2 b5 9. Qb3 Qa5 10. Bd2 b4 11. Na4 Ne4 12. Bb4 Qc7 13. 0-0
A novelty! This tabiya was quite popular in the 60s and 70s, with luminaries such as Petrosian, Portisch and Simagin taking the white pieces and Hort and Larsen playing black. Portisch-Hort went 13. ..Na6 14. Ba6 Ba6 15. Rfe1 Nd6 16. Rac1 (Epishin played 16. Qa3 against Romanishin in 2000) Rab8 17. Ne5 (Petrosian played 17. Qc3 and won against "not-David" Bronstein at the Rio de Janeiro Interzonal in 1979) Bb5 18. Nc5 Nf5 with an eventual draw after 34 moves in 1966. More recently, players such as Mamedyarov have chosen 13. ..Be6 for black, following Suetin's play in 1968 against Antoshin. The idea of Bg4 is simply to maximize black's activity, while keeping pressure on white's center and hoping to disrupt white's development with the pin on the e2 bishop. I wasn't thrilled with 13. ..Be6 14. Bc4 Bc4 15. Qc4 when 15. ..Rd8 is met by 16. d5!, though of course black has other choices. Probably best is 15. ..Nd6, but I wanted to keep the N on e4.
14. Rad1 Nd7!
Played after a 30-minute think. My original intention was 14. ..Qb7 15. Rfe1 a5 16. Ba3 Qb3 17. ab Nd6 18. Nb6 Ra7, but I saw an interesting possibility to keep queens on and solve some of black's problems (primarily what to do with the b8 knight and the e7 pawn) with one move.
A pragmatic choice from Enkhbat. If 15. Be7!? Rfe8 16. Bh4 g5!! 17. Ng5! Be2 18. Qf7 Kh8 19. Ne6 Re6 20. Qe6 Bd1 21. Rd1 Ndf6 (diagram) =/+ . Alternatively, 16. Ba3 Rab8 gives black tremendous activity for the pawn, with potential for the d7 N to hop f6-d5-f4 or to b6, forcing white to fix black's pawn structure, while harassing the queen.
15. ..Nd6 16. h3 Bf5 17. Qc1 Qb7!?
Also playable was 17. ..Nb6 18. Nc5 Nd5, but I wanted to keep the N stuck on a4 for a while and keep the white bishop out of a6.
18. Ba3 Rfd8 19. Rfe1 Rab8 20. b3! Be4!
Trying to regroup by putting the B on d5 and the Nd6 on f5.
21. Ne5! Bd5! 22. Bf1 Nf5 23. Nc5
Also possible was 23. Nd7 Qd7 24. Nc5 Qe8!
23. ..Nc5 24. Bc5 a5!
Preventing white from going Qc1-a3, Bf1-a6 and squeezing the life out of black and also preparing an eventual a5-a4, cracking open white's queenside.
25. Qc3 Ra8! 26. Nc4 Bc4!
It looks counterintuitive to trade the monster bishop on d5, but white's N was a great piece and this allows black to gang up on d4. The prior three exclaims refer to near-only moves for black. White did a fantastic job in building pressure on black's position.
Or 27. Bc4 e6!
Possible is the crazy-looking 28. g4! Nh4 29. Qg3 g5 30. Bd3 Ng6 31. a3! when tactical means justify white's seemingly antipositional play. One line runs 31. ..Rd7 32. Qe3 Rad8 33. Qg5 Bd4 34. Bd4 Rd4 35. Bg6 hg 36. Qd8 Rd8 37. Rd8 Kg7 with a double-edged endgame.
28. ..Rd7 29. Red1 a4 30. Qe1 Rad8 31. Qe4 Nd6 32. Bd6?!
Objectively best is 32. Qe1, when black can do no better than to repeat the position with 32. ..Nf5. If 32. ..Nc4 33. Rb1 Qa8 34. Rb4 Nd6 35. Ra3 and white can fight on, as dictated by the match situation.
32. ..Rd6 33. d5 cd
It was possible to keep the position unbalanced with 33. ..c5!?
34. cd Rd5 35. Rd5 Rd5 36. Qa4 Rd1 37. Qd1 Qb4
Black can still squeeze by pressuring the f2 point, but with the match in hand (Pascal was easily winning), I offered a draw and this was accepted by IM Enkhbat.