Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Game 12: Augusta, Round 2

B42: Sicilian Defense: Kan Variation 5 Bd3
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: George Morton (1594)
Augusta, Georgia
G/45, Round 2, Jan. 23, 2012

I consider the following to be one of my best games. It is my first indication that the effort I am putting into study and playing myself back into form is paying off. I had White against George last month and George achieved a winning position with Black against me. That game is annotated earlier on this blog. Tonight I was prepared and determined to do better.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3

I have done some serious study of this particular variation of the Kan recently, and I like the positions White gets from it. It is astonishing how often that Bishop on d3 proves useful in a middlegame Kingside attack. I view 4...a6 as something of a strategically questionable move despite the fact that many GMs have been playing it for years. I don't really see what it does to aid the fight for the central light squares that 2...e6 announces Black wants to contest.

5...Nf6 6.0–0 Qc7 7.Kh1

This move is often played by White in this opening, but usually not so early. 7.Qe2, 7.c4, and 7.Nc3, three of my next four moves, are seen more often here, but Kasparov himself often plays an early Kh1 in his games on the White side of Open Sicilians. My idea is that I not only want the King off the a7-g1 diagonal so that I can push f4 at will, but 7.Kh1 is also a waiting move to see what Black's intentions might be.

7...Be7 8.c4

I was a bit doubtful I was playing an objectively good move when I played this, and I still think this might not be best, but it fits in well with my style, which is to first stifle the opponent positionally, and once that is accomplished, look for a breakthrough. I decided to go into a Maroczy Bind in order to discourage Black from playing ...d5. An alternative was to simply proceed with my own plan to try to get in e5 by now playing 8.f4.

8...d6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.f4 b6 11.Qe2

So that if I had to retreat the d3-Bishop after say ...Nc5, my c4-pawn would still be protected. Qe2 also promotes e5.

11...Bb7 12.b4!

TN. This is move I am most proud of in this game, and I found it over the board. Clearly White needs to develop his last minor piece, but how? Of the 55 games in my database from this position, White has answered the question 46 times by simply playing 12.Bd2, with which he scores a respectable 61%. 12.b3 was chosen 5 times, and White scored 70%. 12.f5 was chosen four times (50%), but I dismissed this move out of hand because after 12...e5, the Knight has to retreat uselessly to the queenside. I agree with the 12.b3 players; the Bishop serves best on the long diagonal and time is not of the essence; but then it occurred to me, why protect c4 again? I just did this last move. Also, aren't there some variations where ...Nc5 could conceivably pressure the e4 pawn? It was then that I conceived the idea of the text, which I realized had all the virtues of 12.b3 and more. The aesthetic of placing pawns and pieces on the fourth rank against all of Black's on his third also pleased me.

12...0–0 13.Bb2 Rfe8

A continuation George and I looked at after the game was 13...d5!? However, after 14.cxd5 Bxb4 15.dxe6 Nc5 16.e5 with advantage.


Threatening 15.e5.


Probably best was 14...g6 first so that after ...e5 White's Knight can not come to f5.

15.Nf5 g6

I was surprised Black had not played 15...Bf8.

16.Nxe7+ Rxe7 17.f5

White gains space

17...Nh5 18.Nd5

18.Qd2 Ree8 with advantage to White was an alternative.

18...Bxd5 19.exd5 Ndf6?

19...Ree8!? yields a position that is better for White, but would keep Black in the game. The text costs White a piece.

20.g4 Ng7?

20...Nxg4 21.Qxg4 a5 22.bxa5 bxa5 23.Bc1 and White is still winning.


21.fxg6!? might be the shorter path 21...hxg6 22.Rxf6 a5+-

21...Nfh5 22.f6 Ree8 23.fxg7 Nf4??

Black falls apart. I had expected 23...Nxg7 24.Bc1 Rab8 when White still wins as well.

24.Rxf4 exf4

Black had to play 24...Kxg7, otherwise it's curtains at once. White would still win after 25.Ref1.

25.Qxe8+ Rxe8 26.Rxe8#

It's checkmate!


Game 11: Augusta, Round 1

B02: Alekhine's Defence
White: Julie Shiel (1118)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Augusta, Georgia
G/45, Round 1, Jan. 16, 2012

1.e4 Nf6

Julie handled my first string 1.e4 defense really well last time (see Game 1). So, I decided to change things up this game. Besides the Sicilian, I am also comfortable with the French Defense and Alekhine's Defense. Even 1...e5, 1...d5, and 1...d6 are not out of the question for me. The only defense that absolutely does not work with my style is the Caro Kann.

2.Nc3 d5 3.exd5

This is not the most challenging move. As White I think I would play the mainline 3.e5, when as Black I play 3...Ne4, Tim Sawyer's recommendation.

3...Nxd5 4.Nxd5 Qxd5

White's exchanges have given Black a 1-0 development lead. Essentially then, Black is now White. This is one way to tell when an opening strategy has gone badly.

5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Be2

I expected 6.d4 here in order to stop ...e5, but then ...Bg4 and ...0-0-0 gives Black a quick lead in development and pressure on White's center.


White now has a cramped position, and the Bishop on c1 is more hemmed in than either of its two counterparts.

7.c4 Qd6

I was tempted to play 7...Qa5, but I want my Queen to be able to go to either side of the board quickly. So I eventually decided on d6 as the square.

8.d3 Bg4

TN. According to my database, this is the first original move in this game. In 1968 Basman played 8...Be6 with the same idea of castling long, winning handily. I considered 8...Be6, but did not want to encourage White to play Ng5. It bothered Basman less, I suppose. Mohammad Al Modiahki played 8...Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Be3 Bg4 in 1988 and won his game 31 moves later as well. Probably 8...Bf5, intending ...0-0-0 with immense pressure directly on d3 was best.

9.0–0 0–0–0 10.Ng5!?

Not a bad idea. When you are cramped, it is natural to want to exchange pieces. Then the remaining pieces are less likely to get in each other's way in the cramped quarters.


I learned long ago that even if you are the higher rated person and would rather keep pieces on the board, avoiding exchanges is not the way to avoid draws. 10...Be6 therefore never entered my mind. My winning chances will come later. I have faith.

11.Qxe2 Qxd3?!

Here, again not avoiding exchanges, I determined White's d-pawn was worth more than my f-pawn. The d-pawn is a center pawn after all. However, now I think otherwise. Losing my f-pawn makes my remaining e-pawn an isloani. I believe 11...Qg6 would have been the better move with the idea of pushing the h- and f-pawns and commencing a Kingside attack.

12.Qxd3 Rxd3 13.Nxf7 Rg8 14.Be3?

I had been afraid White would find 14.Ng5 to extract her Knight, after which Black's advantage is minimal.


This is what I played for when I played 11...Qxd3. I am going to win the Knight now. White is in trouble.

15.Rad1 Rd7 16.Rxd7 Kxd7 17.Bxa7?

Here, I had been expecting 17.f4 exf4 18.Rxf4 Ke6 and Black intends ...Be7 and ...Rf8 with advantage.


Simply 17...Ke6, winning the Knight for two pawns was also possible.

18.Bxb6 cxb6 19.Re1

The problem with White's strategy was that even though it was designed to give up the Bishop for two pawns to extract the Knight, White still can't get the Knight out without paying a high price positionally. For example, if 19.Rd1 Kc7 20.Rd5 e4 21.Ne5 Bc5 and all of Black's pieces and pawns are working harmoniously together.


Even stronger is 19...Ke6!? 20.Nxe5 Nxe5 21.f4 because 21...Bc5+ 22.Kh1 Bd4 or 22...Kf5 is simply winning.

20.Rd1 Nd4 21.Nxd6

21.f4 Ke6 22.Nxe5 Bxe5–+

21...Kxd6 22.f4

22.b3 Ra8 23.Rd2 Kc5–+

22...Rd8 23.fxe5+ Kxe5 24.Re1+ Kf4 25.g3+ Kf3 26.Rf1+ Ke2 27.Rf2+

27.Rf7 Rc8–+

27...Ke3 28.Kg2 g5 29.b4 g4 30.Rf4

30.c5 bxc5 31.bxc5 Rd5–+


I wish I had wrapped the game up here in high style with 30...Nf3! The threat is ...Rd2+ and mate next move. Forced then would have been the line 31.Rxf3+ gxf3+ 32.Kh3 f2 33.Kg2 Rd1 and Black Queens the pawn.

31.h3 Ne2 32.Rf5 Rd2 33.Re5+ Kd3 34.Rd5+ Nd4+ 35.Kf1 Kxc4 36.Rxh5 gxh3 37.Rxh3 Kxb4 38.g4 Rxa2 39.g5 Ra3 40.Rxa3 Kxa3 41.g6 Ne6 42.Ke2 b5 43.Kd3 b4 44.Kc2 Ka2


Monday, January 23, 2012

Game 10: Columbia, Round 4

D85: Grunfeld Defense, Exchange Variation
White: Shaun McCoy (1285)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Columbia, South Carolina
G/30, Round 4, Dec. 29, 2011

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 0–0 8.Bc4 c5 9.Bb2 cxd4

9...Nc6 and 9...Bg4 are also viable options for Black. After White plays Nf3, the Grunfeld Defense guarantees Black a comfortable easy game in my opinion. Lines in the Exchange Variation where White's Knight can come to e2 present Black a bit more of a challenge because Black then has fewer options.

10.cxd4 Nc6 11.Qd2 Bg4 12.d5!

TN, and a good one. This pawn push gains space in contrast to the 12.Rd1 Qb6 13.Bc3 of Lippert – Schubert, Bulgaria 1996 when Black could have obtained an advantage by 13...Rac8 14.0-0 Bxf3 15.gxf3 Rfd8 -/+


As you can see from earlier games in my blog, I have been struggling to correctly evaluate the strength of voluntarily playing ...BxN in my games. I am glad to see I found the right time and place for this move here.


The text is a reasonable line of play for White, but slightly more accurate I think is 13.gxf3 Bxb2 14.Qxb2 Na5 15.Be2= with a reasonable game.


Black can play for complications with 13...Bxg2 14.Qc3 Ne5 15.Qxe5 f6 and a slight advantage for Black probably. However, having White's pieces hovering around my King made me worried in case I miscalculated something.


White is being a little too prissy about avoiding doubled pawns here. Fine for him is14.gxf3 Ne5 15.Be2 Rc8=


14...e5 is more accurate, intending if 15.dxc6 Bxg2 16.cxb7 Rb8 with advantage to Black, but all the forced lines that could ensue after 14...e5 were not something I was able to accurately calculate. White could play 15.gxf3 or 15.Qxf3 as well, for example, neither of which is particularly good for White. However, I calculated a clear positional edge out for Black after the text. So I went with it.


I expected 15.gxf3, which yields Black an edge after 15...Ne5 16.Be2. Black's edge is positional in this line, not material as now happens.


Black has a winning game now.

16.cxb7 Rb8 17.Bd5?

17.Rg1 Bxe4 18.Rg3–+ puts up a little more resistance, but Black is still winning.

17...Bxh1 18.Qc6

Or 18.0–0–0 Bg2 19.Qg3 Qa5 20.Qxg2 Rfd8 is winning for Black. The rest is a matter of technique. Black makes forcing moves to trade down into an easily winning endgame.

18...Qd6 19.Ke2 Qxc6 20.Bxc6 Bg2 21.Rd1 Rfd8 22.Bd5 e6! 23.Bc6 Rxd1 24.Kxd1 f5 25.Kd2 Bxe4 0–1

Game 9: Columbia, Round 3

A00: Grob Opening
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: Andrew Hater (1386)
Columbia, South Carolina
(G/30) Round 3, Dec. 29, 2011

1.g4 e5 2.Bg2 d5 3.c4 c6?!

Simply 3...dxc4 here is okay for Black. Trying to maintain the center places Black in difficulties.

4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Qb3 Ne7 6.Nc3

White's idea is to give up the unimportant flank pawn g4 in exchange for the central pawn d5.


Black plans to blunt the pressure down the h1-a8 diagonal by occupying it with pawns is often tried. This plan is made difficult by the fact that Black's pieces can't freely move to supporting roles. Best is probably 6...Nbc6, although Black's position would remain difficult after 7.h3 because defending d5 is a problem.

7.d3 Nbc6?

7...exd3!? is the book (Bloodgood's; maybe Grob's too) move, when best for Black is the continuation 8.Bf4 Na6 9.0-0-0 Qb6= After the text, Black's center disintegrates in an unfavorable way.

8.dxe4 d4 9.Nd5 Nxd5

TN. Another player with this position drew after the following moves: 9...Ng6 10.h4 Bd6 (if 11...Nxh4 12.Rxh4 Qxh4 13.Nc7+ is good for White) 11.g5 Bd7 12.Nf3 b6 13.Bd2 Rc8 14.Qd3 Be6 15.Nxd4 Nge5 16.Qb5 0-0 17.Bc3 Bxd5 18.exd5 Nxd4 19.Bxd4 Qe7 20.0-0 f5 21.f4 Ng6 22.e3 Nxh4 ½-½ Herrnkind - Reinecker, Germany 1992 However, in the above game 12.h5 Nge5 13.h6 is much better for White. The text move and 9...Bxg4 are Black's best chances.

10.exd5 Nb4

10...Ne5 11.Nf3 Bd6 12.Bf4 Nxg4 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.h3 is also good for White.

11.a3 Na6 12.Bf4 Qa5+ 13.Kf1 Nc5

Developing the Bishop with 13...Bc5 in order to get castled is a little better for Black, though White's still better with 14.Rc1.


The retreat move 14.Qd1 is even stronger for White, e.g. 14...Qa4 15.b4 d3 16.exd3 Qxd1+ 17.Rxd1 Na4 18.Re1+ Kd8 19.Nf3 and White's material superiority should eventually tell.

14...Qa4 15.b4 Bxg4?

Black should try to mix things up with 15...Nb3 16.Rd1 a5 although White can then play 17.d6 with advantage. After the text move, Black is lost by force.

16.Qxd4 Qc2

16...Nb3 loses the Knight after 17.Qe3+ followed by 18.Rb1. Best was 17...f6 in order to keep White's Queen out of e5.

17.Qe5+ Kd8

17...Ne6 doesn't change anything: 18.dxe6 Bxe6 19.Bxb7+-

18.Rc1 Qa2

If 18...Qf5, there is nothing Black can do about 19.Qxf5 Bxf5 20.bxc5 a5 21.d6 crushing.

19.bxc5 f6

19...Rc8 20.Qg5+ f6 21.Qxg4 Rxc5 22.Rxc5 Bxc5 23.Bh3 Qb1+ 24.Kg2+-


White plans d6

20...Ke8 21.Qxb7 Rc8

21...Rd8 does not save the day 22.d6 Rc8 23.Rd1+-


22.c6 and White can already relax 22...Be7 23.d6 Bxd6 24.Bxd6 Qe6+-

22...Qxa3 23.Bc6+ Kd8

23...Rxc6 is not the saving move 24.Qxc6+ Kf7 25.Rb1+-


The only way for Black to hold on is to give up material with 24...Rxc6 25.Qxc6 Qxc1+ 26.Bxc1 Bxd7 27.Qa8+ Ke7 28.c6+- So, Black resigned.


Game 8: Columbia, Round 2

B40: Sicilian Defense
White: David Hater (2016)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Columbia, South Carolina
(G/30) Round 2, Dec. 29, 2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 Nc6

I have played three server-based games with 3...d5 instead, all of which I won as Black, but I failed to remember that this is my preferred move here.

4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Bd3 d5 8.e5 Ne4 9.Bd2

There are five games in my database that reached this position with 9.Bd2, and in all of these Black played what is clearly the best move 9...Nxd2. Black emerges with the two Bishops, but it may be a long time before this advantage can ever tell given the locked pawn nature of the position. I think the position after 9...Nxd2 to be completely equal and rather uninteresting.


I made this French Defense type move thinking that if I were giving up the d5-pawn, I would be able to capture on d4.

10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Bxe4 Nxd4?? 12.Qa4+

I did not overlook this check, I just misevaluated the result.

12...Bd7 13.Qxb4

I had illusions heading into this line with 9...Qb6 that 13...Nxf3+ kept material parity. This was my first game against David. Hopefully, next time I can provide more of a challenge for him.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Game 7: Columbia Round 1

A01: Grob Opening
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: Josh Lewer (1349)
Augusta, Georgia
(G/30) Round 1, Dec. 29, 2011


I play the Grob occasionally at fast time controls. Unless Black already has a plan of action for the Grob, it is difficult to develop one on the fly in a fast time control.

1...e6 2.Bg2 d5 3.c4 Nf6

This move seems to be walking into White's next move, but it is actually playable for Black.

4.g5 Ng8

My choice would have been 4...Nfd7, and if White takes twice on d5, Black can take on g5, keeping the material even.

5.d4 c5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Nc3 Be6 8.Qb3

It is getting harder and harder for Black to defend d5.


This is the first move that I consider to be a true error. Taking pawns at this stage is not advisable. White is ahead in development 3-1. Black should play 8...Nc6 in order to reduce White's development lead. Then 9.Qxb7 Nxd4 10.Nxd5 is still in White's favor, but less so than the game continuation.


The greedier 9.Qxb7 dxc3 10.Qxa8 should also be good for White, but I have had bad practical experiences with removing the Queen from the field of play early this way. The text is more safely to White's advantage and gives Black fewer opportunities to stir up counterplay.


9...Ne7 is the best way to fight back though White still has an advantage after 10.Qb5+ Nd7. The reason 9...Ne7 is better is not hard to understand. White's development advantage would then be 3-2. After the text, it is 2 developed pieces to 0.


Already, it's lights out for Black.


Protecting the b-pawn temporarily with 10...Bb4+ is of no help: 11.Kf1 Nc6 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Qxb4 Qb6+-]

11.Bxf7+ 1-0

Black calculated only 11...Ke7 12.Qe6# However, even after 11...Kd7 12.Qxb7+ Kd6 (12...Qc7 drops the a8-Rook) 13.Bf4+ Ne5 (13...Kc5 14.Rc1#) 14.Qd5+ Kc7 15.Bxe5+ Kb6 16.Bxd4+ White will deliver check mate on move 21 against best Black play.