Luck In Chess: Combo That Should Have Netted More
Bodek-Katz after 14. ..Ne5
Bodek played the nice 15. Re5! Re5 16. Nh6! , but only emerged with an extra pawn after 16. ..gh 17. Bf6 Qd6 18. Qg4 Rg5 (h6 pawn guards g5!) 19. Bg5 hg 20. Qg5 Bg7 and Katz's resourceful counterplay eventually secured the half point.
Manuelian-Checa after 17. ..Nc6
Shirov wasn't satisfied with a repetition draw that black offered with 17. ..Na5-c6 (18. Rb1) and played 18. Rc4! against Ganguly in 2009. The players followed 18. ..Be8 19. g4 Nh4 20. Rg3 f6 21. ef Bg6 22. Rc6! Qc6
Manuelian-Checa after 22. ..Qc6
Shirov continued 23. Nd4! Qh1 24. f5! and Ganguly resigned a few moves later. Manuelian's memory failed him, though, and he inverted the moves with 23. f5?? allowing Nico back in the game. After 23. ..ef 24. Nd4, Nico had no need to play Qh1 and instead followed with 24. ..Rge8 25. Kf2 and probably could have secured an advantage with 25. ..Qb6!?.
Chekhov's (Checa's) Gun Misfires?
"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun]
Manuelian-Checa after 31. Rb3Even the engines are in disbelief...
Nico could have continued 31. ..Qd4! 32. Be3 g3!! 33. hg! (33. Qg3 Rf8 34. Kg1 Qf6 35. Bf2 Bc2 and black wins) Rf8 34. Kg1 Nf3 35. Kg2 Qe4
Manuelian-Checa variation after 35. ..Qe4Manuelian would have needed to find the fantastic 36. Bf2!! and black has no useful discovery.
Quality Not Quantity
Gelashvili-Stripunsky after 19. Bf4
Stripunsky played 19. ..gf! 20. Bh6?! (bold, but 20. gf de 21. Bb1 ef 22. Bh6 was safer) fg 21. Rg1
Gelashvili-Stripunsky after 21. Rg1
but faltered with 21. ..de? (21. ..Ne4! 22. Be4 Bh4 23. Ke2 Be4 24. Na5 Rc7 25. Ne4 de 26. Nc4 f5 27. Bf4 Rcg7 and black's pawns should tell). Gelashvili was precise with 22. Bc2 and now the last chance was 22. ..Ng4 23. Bg5 f6 24. Bf4 f5 25. Rg2 Bh4 26. Kf1, though white's extra piece should eventually tell. Instead, 22. ..Nd5? (seemingly correcting black's pawns) 23. Rg2 Bh4 24. Ke2 f5 25. Nd5! ed 26. Na5 Rc7 27. Rag1 Kf7 28. Ke3 Bf6 29. Bd1 and Stripunsky had no moves and resigned.
Gelashvili-Stripunsky final position
Struggling For Space
Benjamin-Herman after 17. ..Bd6
By move 18, black's position looked resignable (look at all those weak pawns and bad pieces against all the available outposts for white's knights!). Benjamin continued 18. Qb3 (18. Nc5!?) Ba8 19. Qd3 and I took my shot with 19. ..c5!. The key for this break was to not allow white a passed c-pawn that would likely end the game upon reaching c6. If 20. dc Be5 21. Re5 Bc6 22. Nc3 black has the fantastic
Benjamin-Herman variation after 22. Nc3
22. ..Nb4!! and due to the fork on d3, white has no better than the repetition after 23. Qd8 Rfd8 24. ab Rd2 25. Re2 Rd4 26. Na2 Bd5 27. Nc3 Bc6.
Which Side Was Easier To Play?
We began to exchange inaccuracies (on either move 20 or 21, Nd5-e7 with the idea of going to f5 for black) and Benjamin missed a few chances to consolidate, most notably 24. Qd3-g3! (threatening Bh6) Kh8 25. b2-b3!Witness the transformation.
Benjamin-Herman after 26. ..Qb3
Not the easiest position to play with both sides having under 2 minutes!
Benjamin-Herman after 32. f3
Unwilling to play 32. ..g7-g5 (preventing Benjamin's excellent h3-h4-h5 plan, but exposing my king) and unable to further activate my pieces, I started to drift and Benjamin methodically improved his position. After 33. Ne4 Nf4 34. Nf6 Kg7. White has 35. Bb4!? (idea Bb4-f8), but 35. ..Bf3! 36. Bf8! Kg6! 37. Qc2 Nd3 38. gf Qf3 is, unbelievably, equal.
With Checa's unfortunate mouse slip (though even with Qh8 he stood worse) leaving the match tied 1.5-1.5, the stakes were quite high.
Benjamin-Herman after 40. ..Qc1
In severe time trouble, we both missed that 41. Bg3! Ne3 42. Nf7! Nf1 43. Kh3! Bf5 44. Kh4! Qc4 45. f4! is just mate, so Benjamin continued 41. Qe8 Qg5 42. Qf7
Benjamin-Herman after 42. Qf7
An immediate draw could have been had by 42. ..Ne3 43. Be3 Qh4 (perpetual), but I went for 42. ..Nf4 retaining the tension. After 43. g3 Nh5 (my intention had been 43. ..Bf1 but I saw at the last moment 44. Qf4 Qh5 45. Qh4 Qf3 46. Qe4! winning), Benjamin had to find 44. f4, though the position remains razor-sharp after 44. ..Qg4 45. Qb7
He finally faltered with 44. Qe6 and after 44. ..Qd2, for the first time, black was not only better but winning. Unable to find a defense after 45. Kg2 Qe2 (the fourth and final "creeping" queen move of the game), Benjamin flagged and we won the match.
Benjamin - Herman final position
A huge thank you to our sponsors, ChessNYC!!