Saturday, March 31, 2012

Game 20: Augusta, Round 3

B42: Sicilian: Kan Variation: 5 Bd3
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: Ethan Winter (1771)
Augusta, GA
G/45; Round 3, March 12, 2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qc7


Normally in the Kan Variation, Black plays …a6 before playing …Qc7 so that Nb5 by White does not force the Queen to move again.

5.Bd3

I considered 5.Nb5, but could not really see any advantage in the move. So, I decided to play the normal moves and keep Nb5 in reserve for when playing it might become advantageous.

5…Nf6 6.0–0 a6

With …a6, the position has transposed back into normal mainline Kan lines.

7.c4

7.Qe2 is the most popular move here. I understand and like playing the Maroczy bind whenever possible though. So I opted for that instead.

7…Nc6 8.Nc2

Computer programs and common practice (more than 75% of the time) is to play 8.Nxc6 here. This comes as quite a surprise to me. I never seriously considered the move. Black is angling for a Hedgehog type setup in which most of his pawns will not be going past the third rank. This is a cramped setup, albeit one reputedly without weaknesses. The side that is cramped, or about to become so, should welcome exchanges. Therefore, the side with more space should want to keep pieces on the board. At least, this is the logic I am playing by at this point. From c2, the Knight can redeploy to e3 to restrain Black’s most natural break against the Maroczy bind, …d5.

8…b6

I was much more concerned Black would play 8…Ne5 and swap a set of minor pieces.

9.f4

To prevent …Ne5.

9…d6

This is a TN. Black has had success with 9…Bc5+ here: 10.Be3 Nb4 11.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 12.Kh1 Nxd3 13.Qxd3 0-0 14.Nc3 Bb7 15.Ne3 b5 16.cxb5 axb5 17.b4 Qc6 18.Rac1 Nxe4 19.f5 Ra3 20.Qxe4 Qxe4 21.Nxe4 Bxe4 0-1 Driessen - Van Scheltinga, ACCOM Open, Haarlem, 1988. Notice how Black played a line that forced piece exchanges? Nevertheless, White lost this game mainly because he was vastly outrated. After 14.e5 (instead of the 14.Nc3 that was played), I prefer White’s position.

10.Nc3 Bb7 11.Be3 Rd8

I consider this Rook move premature. Black is playing to push through …d5, but that is not the only plan in this position. Before Black can open the position with …d5, he is going to have to be safely castled. Therefore 11…Be7 and …0-0, deferring the decision on where the a8-Rook will be going, or even if this Rook is to be preferred over the King Rook movement, is more logical to my mind. After 11...Be7, I was considering the space grabbing 12.b4 with a double-edged position for both of us.

12.Qe2

My software program prefers 12.f5. I didn’t go for this because I figured Black would play 12…e5 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.cxd5 Nb8 after which I can’t find a concrete follow up for White, and there are no pawn levers breaks left to try. Nevertheless, the software program rates White as up almost two pawns worth! Apparently, Black is so space constricted he can’t hold his Queenside pawns, for example 15.Rc1 Rc8 16.Nd4! Qd7 17.Rxc8+ Qxc8 18.Qa4+ Nd7 19.Rc1 Qd8 20.Ne6 fxe6 21.dxe6 Be7 22.Bxa6 Bxa6 23.exd7+ Qxd7 24.Qxa6 Bd8 25.Bxb6 O-O and White has a won position. In any event, even without 12.f5, White has a very active position. The text is no deeper than me wanting to have my Queen off the file that has the opponent’s Rook on it. I also want to link up my Rooks.

12...Be7 13.a3

Played after what was probably my longest think of the game. I have identified b6 as the weak square in Black’s position that I want to play for. So, I looked at 13.Na4, but then Black has a …Nd7 and …Nc5 defensive idea, which looked good to me. So then I looked at preventing …Nc5 by first playing 13.b4, but this is a bit loose. Black can get the …d5 in that he wants to play anyway, and two pieces would be attacking b4. I don’t think White’s advantage is going anywhere. Black will be cramped for a long time. So, I finally decided on the slow text in order to play b4, followed by Na4, and a hard to answer attack on b6 that can be enhanced with Qf2, after h3, if necessary.

13...0–0 14.b4 d5?

Black loses patience. If Black sits back and plays a move like 14…Nd7, it looks like he will be smothered, for example 15.Na4 Ba8 16.Qf2 Rb8 just looks grim, but in actuality White as so often happens in Hedgehogs, breaks through and finds he has nothing. For example, 17.b5 axb5 18.cxb5 Na5 19.Nb4 certainly looks favorable for White, but after 19…Qb7 software programs claim perfect equality for Black. Hedgehog players are a fearless breed. They have complete faith in their cramped position, will let White feel like he is making headway, then rebound the attack against him. What experienced Hedgehog players don’t do is panic and drop material for the sake of activity, as my opponent now does. White’s position is too positionally superior for attacks against it to work. Had Black played the patient 14...Nd7!?, I would be best off playing the equally patient 15.Rac1 with a slight advantage to White, but plenty of probing, positional chess yet to be played.

15.cxd5 exd5 16.exd5?

Better was 16.e5 Ng4 (16…Nd7? 17.Nxd5 winning) 17.Qxg4 d4 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Rc1 Nf3+ 20.gxf3 Rxd3 21.Nd5 Qd8 22.Nxe7+ Qxe7 23.Bxb6 with advantage to White.

16...Nxd5?!

16...Nxb4 17.axb4 Qxc3 leads to near equality for Black.

17.Nxd5 Rxd5 18.Bxa6 Ba8

This move took me by surprise. I was expecting 18...Bxa6 19.Qxa6 b5 20.Bb6 with advantage to White

19.Rac1 Qd7 20.Bxb6?

Better would be simplification now with 20.Rfd1. Black’s b-pawn can be picked up at my leisure.

20...Nxb4??

Ugly as it may be, 20...Nb8 was absolutely necessary. Amazingly, because the move contains a double threat, it is good enough to equalize for Black: 21.Be3 (21.Bc4? Rd2 wins for Black) 21…Nxa6 22.Qxa6 Rd3 equal because Black’s piece activity wins him back both of White’s Queenside pawns.

21.Nxb4 Rd2 22.Rfd1 Rxe2 23.Rxd7 Rxg2+ 24.Kf1 Bh4 25.Rc2 Re8 26.Rd1

I am starting to feel time pressure and miss that after 26.Bb7 White can already relax.

26...Rg6 27.Bc7?

I invested considerable time in finding this lemon of a move, which let’s Black’s back rank Rook come alive since I block my Rook from c8. 27.Bb5!? is the shortest path: 27...Rb8 28.Ba7 Bg2+ 29.Rxg2 Rxb5 30.Rd5 winning.

27...Bf3?

Fortunately, Black is in acuter time pressure than me. Otherwise, he might have found 27...Re3 28.Rf2 Bf3 when Black is fighting back from the material deficit.

28.Rdc1 Rge6

28...Bg4 threatens …Bh3#. The antidote is 29.Bb7 winning.

29.Be5 f6 30.Bc4 fxe5 31.Bxe6+?

After 31.f5 instead, the game is over because White will call all the shots, e.g. 31...Bg5 32.Re1 winning.

31...Rxe6 32.fxe5 g6??

I had expected 32...Rxe5 33.Rc8+ Kf7 34.R8c5 with advantage to White.

33.Rc8++- Kg7 34.R1c7+ Kh6 35.Nd3

35.Rh8!? seems even better 35...Kg5 36.Rcxh7 Bh5 37.Rd8 Rxe5 39.Rd5 winning

35...Rb6 36.Nb4 Bg4 37.Rc6?

37.Rh8 and White wins 37...Kg5 38.Rcxh7

37...Rb5 38.Rc5 Rb6 39.R8c6 Rb8 40.e6??

I gave my opponent new chances. With 40.Kg2 instead, I can look forward to a comfortable game, e.g. 40...Rf8 41.Rc4 Bf3+ 42.Kh3 winning

40...Rf8+ 41.Kg1?

41.Kg2!? Rf2+ 42.Kg1 and White still has a slight advantage.

41...Bf2+ 42.Kg2 Bf3+??

Black loses the upper hand. With 42...Bxc5 instead, Black would save the game 43.Rxc5 Bxe6=

43.Kxf2 Bxc6+ 44.Ke2 Ba4 45.e7 Re8 46.Re5 Kg7 47.Nd5 Kf7 48.Ke3 Bc6 49.Kd4 Bxd5??

The pressure is too much. Black crumbles. Best was 49...Ra8 50.Re3 Ra4+ 51.Kc5 Be8, but I don’t think Black will be able to hold out here either.

50.Kxd5 Rxe7 51.Rxe7+ Kxe7 52.Ke5 h5 53.h4 Kd7 54.Kf4 1-0

This game troubles me because I missed so many opportunities to simply put White away early on. I actually gave Black a way to draw with my mistakes on move 40 and 41. With better moves by me at move 26 and 27, this game would never have been in doubt.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Game 19: Augusta Round 2

B33 Sicilian
White: George Morton (1612)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Augusta, GA
G/45; Round 2, March 12, 2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3


5.Nc3 is the main line here because the text commits White’s f-pawn prematurely. Often in the Open Sicilian White prefers the f-pawn development to f4.

5…a6 6.c4

White wanted to play a Maroczy Bind.

6…e6 7.Nc3 Bb4 8.Nc2 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 d5?

The two times previously when this position was reached, Black preferred 9…Qa5 and 9…0-0, both of which are probably better. Opening the board up before castling was probably not best for Black.

10.cxd5 exd5 11.exd5 Qxd5 12.Qxd5 Nxd5 13.c4 Nb6 14.Ba3?

This prevents Black from castling Kingside for a while, but stronger was 14.Rb1, which prevents Black from developing his Queenside.

14...Be6

The isolani on c4 becomes a target.

15.Ne3?

Stronger was 15.0-0-0, which prevents Black from castling to either side. It also indirectly protects c4 because if 15…Nxc4 15.Bxc4 Bxc4 16.Rhe1+ White has more than enough compensation for the pawn. Black would instead play 15…Rd8 for a smaller advantage than he gets in the text continuation.

15…Ne5?!

The pressure on the isolated pawn grows. However, although Black threatens to win material with Ne5xc4, even stronger was 15...0–0–0 16.Be2 Nd4 =/+

16.Bc5??

White loses a pawn for no reason. After 16.Rc1, which brings up a third defender, the position is rather equal.

16...Nbxc4 17.Nxc4 Bxc4?

17…Nxc4 is better. Black needs his Bishop for blocking Rook attacks down the e-file.

18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Rd1?

Again, 19.0–0–0!? intending Rhe1+, is the only way for White to get play. By linking up the Rooks quickly, White gets compensation for the pawn: 19...f6 20.Rhe1+ Ne5 21.Bd4=

19...Rc8 20.Bb4 a5

Stronger was 20...Ne3 21.Rb1 Rc2 22.Bd2 winning.

21.Bd2 0–0?

Black failed to recognize that 21...Nb2 now wins outright, e.g.: 22.Ra1 Rc2 23.Bxa5 Nd3+ 24.Kf1 0–0 winning.

22.Kf2 Rfd8?

22...Nb2 and the rest is a matter of technique 23.Bxa5 Nxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Rc2+ 25.Kg3 Rxa2 winning

23.Bf4 b5 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.Re1 f5 26.Re7 b4 27.Bc7??

Rooks belong behind passed pawns, not Bishops. Best was 27.Rc7 instead, though White’s game remains difficult. This Bishop move proved to be the fatal mistake, as George himself stated immediately after the game ended.

27...Rd2+ 28.Re2 Rxe2+ 29.Kxe2 a4 30.Kd3 b3 31.axb3 axb3 32.f4

32.Kc3 is not really better. 32…c2 33.Kc2 Kf7 and the King marches up to help. White’s Bishop is completely dominated by Black’s Knight and can’t do anything useful. I have seen this theme in endgame studies. For example, 34.Bg3 Ke6 35.Be1 g5! 36.g3 (if 36.Bc3 Ne3+ and the g2-pawn falls) 37.fxg4 fxg4 38.Bc3 Kd5 and if White exchanges on the Queenside, Black’s Kingside penetration with the King proves decisive.

32...Kf7 33.Be5 Nxe5+ 34.fxe5 Ke6 35.Kc3 Kxe5 36.Kxb3 Ke4

36...Kd4 keeps an even firmer grip. 37.Kc2 Ke3 38.g3 winning easily.

37.Kc4 g5 38.Kc3 Ke3 0-1

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Game 18, Augusta, Round 1

B76: Sicilian Dragon: Yugoslav Attack, 9 g4 and 9 0–0–0
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: Steven Boshears (1673)
Augusta, GA
G/45; Round 1, March 5, 2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f3 Bg7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0–0 9.0–0–0 d5


This move has become the Dragon main line, and has replaced the older 9…Nxd4. After the game, Steven shared with me that in his opinion 9…d5 is Black’s best option here, an opinion I used to share. However, I recently had a correspondence (server based) game from this position in which Black played 9…Nxd4. Even with using chess engines after the game I can’t improve White’s play: 9…Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.h4 Rfc8 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.a3 a6 16.g4 Rab8 17.Bd3 b5 18.Qg5 Qc7 19.e5 dxe5 20.Bxe5 Qc5 21.Qf4 b4 22.Na4 Qa5 23.Bxb8 bxa3 24.Be5 Nd5 25.Qd2 Qxd2 26.Rxd2 Bxe5 27.Be4 Nf6 28.Re1 Bf4 29.Rg2 Nxe4 30.Rxe4 g5 31.Rf2 axb2 32.Nxb2 Rc6 33.Ra4 f6 34.c4 Bf7 35.Kc2 ½–½ Quigley - cobraxx7, www.chess-mail.com, 2012. My point is that 9…Nxd4 is a more viable defense than 9…d5, which gives up a tempo and allows White to create weaknesses in Black’s Queenside. My conclusion from the server based game is that if White wishes to play for a win, he must try something different before this point, a different choice somewhere between his 6th and 9th moves (inclusive).

10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxd5?

I began to have trouble remembering the main line at this point. I thought it involved taking a Knight, and it does, but not this one. The main line is 11.Nxc6, after which White is scoring 60%. Software programs say that White’s advantage is worth more than half a pawn as well, no doubt because Black’s Queenside pawn structure is nothing to aspire to.

11…Qxd5

White has no advantage whatsoever now.

12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Bh6

I thought it best to remove a dangerous Black attacker.

13…Bf5

So Black brings up another attacker to bear down on White’s King. I am not convinced f5 is the optimal square for the Bishop. Just as when White prefers to place a Bishop on c4 instead of d3 when attacking a castled King position, Black faces the same considerations. From c4 or f5, the Bishop is often opposed by and exchanged for its counterpart. A Bishop placed on e6 or d3, on the other hand, is less likely to run into this, and therefore the pressure exerted against the opposing King often proves longer lasting even if subtler.

14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Qd4+

On all three occasions in my database when this position has arisen before, White simply played 15.Bd3 in order to blunt the attack on c2. However, I noticed that Black could then pin the Bishop with a Rook. After White moves the Queen out from the pin, Black can play …Bxd3, followed by …Rxd3, and with the trade of two more pieces the position starts to look inescapably drawish. In fact, that is indeed what happened in this game: 15…Rfd8 16.Qe2 Rxd3 17.Rxd3 Bxd3 18.Qxd3 Qb6 19.Rd1 Rc8 20.Qd4+ Qxd4 21.Rxd4 Rc7 22.c3 f5 23.Kd2 e5 24.Rd6 Kf7 25.Ke3 Ke7 26.Rd2 Rd7 27.Rc2 Ke6 28.b4 b5 29.a4 a6 30.axb5 axb5 31.g3 Kd5 32.Rd2+ Ke6 33.Ra2 Rc7 34.Kd3 Kd5 35.Rd2 Ke6 36.Ra2 ½-½ Decoster (1663) – Schut (1456) Hengelo Under 12 Open, 2005.

I can’t avoid the exchange of two pieces, if Black really wants to play for a draw. So, I am trying just to maximize my options in this position. My idea here is that after Black answers the check, I can play 16.Bd3 to meet the mate threat. Then, when Black plays a Rook on to the d-file, my Queen can find a more useful square to go to from d4 (perhaps c4 to preserve the Bishop) than it could from d2. The position is nevertheless very equal and drawish looking.

15…Kg8 16.Bd3 Be6?!

My approach to this position if I were Black would be quite different. On general principle alone, I think it is better to play the more forcing move 16…Rfd8 to see where White’s Queen is going before deciding the disposition of the Bishop.

17.Be4

Improves the Bishop’s placement to the long diagonal and discourages …Rd8.

17...Qc7 18.Rd3

This is a multi-purpose move. I am not only preparing to double Rooks on the only open file, but I am also indirectly defending a3, since 18…Bxa3 19.b3 Bxb3 is no longer an option for Black.

18…Rfd8 19.Rc3

I am attempting to create complications in a very simple position in the hope that I can out calculate my opponent. A simple exchange of Queens now allows my Rook to come to the seventh, which wins me a pawn. So Black has to move his Queen instead.

19...Qa5

I had been expecting 19…Qf4+, after which I would make a Queen trade with 20.Qe3. The text is not much different. I am intending to thoroughly test Black’s endgame skills.

20.Qc5 Qxa2?!

20…Qxc5 is equal, with which Black should be happy in my opinion. If his endgame holds up, he comes out of this with a half point. What’s wrong with that? The text keeps Queens on the board for a little while, but is no win of a pawn since I get the b7 pawn in exchange. A Knight pawn is more valuable than a Rook pawn (unless it’s late in the endgame and the Rook pawn is passed or can become passed) because the Knight pawn has influence on two files instead of just one, one of which files is located closer to the center where the action usually is.

21.Ra3 Qc4 22.Qxc4 Bxc4 23.Bxb7

White has a new passed pawn on c2.

23...Rab8 24.Be4

I considered 24.Ba6, offering another exchange, but double Rook and pawn endgames are more drawish than games in which a minor piece is still on the board. So, I opted to preserve my Bishop instead.

24…a6?

Had Black played 24...f5!? instead, he could have caused me to regret not playing 24.Ba6. After 24…f5!? I would have to play 25.Bc6 since 25.Bd3 allows two exchanges and makes my c2 pawn no longer passed. Then, 25…Rd6 26.Ba4 looks completely equal. 24…a6? Has the further drawback of placing the a-pawn on a square that is even harder to defend than a7.

25.b3 Bb5 26.c4 Be8 27.Kc2 Rb6 28.Rd1

If 28.Rha1, Black can complicate matters with 28…Rdb8. Having won Black’s b-pawn for my a-pawn, I am not inclined to make the same trade with Black.

28...Rxd1 29.Kxd1 Bc6??

Forced for Black was 29…Bd7 30.Kc2 Bc8, which is still a very difficult position to defend.

30.Bxc6??

Thinking only in strategic terms I failed to notice that 30.c5 wins outright tactically, e.g. 30...Rb5 31.Bxc6 Rxc5 32.Rxa6 and game over.

30...Rxc6

Now we have a pure Rook endgame. White has a small advantage based on better King position and a more mobile majority, which means I will be able to make threats sooner than my opponent. This fact means Black will be on defense.

31.Kd2 e5?!

This move is dangerous since my Rook sort of owns the fifth rank right now. It allows my Rook to move to the fifth rank with tempo. Improving the King position is more important for Black than pawn moves. I prefer 31…Kf8 or 31…Kg7 just on general principle.

32.Ke3 f6?

Black must keep my King out of e4. After 32...f5!? I was planning 33.Ra5 Re6 (I never considered the complicating 33…Rb6!? but after 34.Rxe5 Rxb3 35.Kd4 Rb2 36.c5 and White’s c-pawn should decide the contest.) 34.Rd5 with a good position, but not as good as the one I now get.

33.Ke4 Kf7?

A better try is 33...Rd6!? 34.c5 Rd2 35.c6 Kf7 36.Rxa6 Ke6 37.c7+ Kd7 38.Rxf6 Kc7 39.Ke5 with a likely win, but Black can play on

34.Kd5

Game over. The Queenside pawns win.

34…Re6 35.c5 f5?

A blunder in a bad position, but Black has no answer to Ra4-b4-b7+ and advancing pawns.

36.c6 Ke7

36...Re7 does not solve anything. 37.b4 e4 38.fxe4 fxe4 39.Rc3 winning.

37.Rxa6 Rd6+ 38.Kc5

38.Kxe5 makes it even easier for White, e.g. 38...Re6+ 39.Kd5 Rd6+ 40.Kc5 Rd2 41.Ra7+ Ke6 42.Rxh7 Rc2+ 43.Kb5 Rxg2 44.c7 and the pawn Queens.

38...Rd1 39.Ra7+ Kd8 40.Rd7+!

The simplest win to calculate.

40...Rxd7 41.cxd7 e4 42.fxe4 fxe4 43.Kd4 e3 44.Kxe3 Kxd7 45.Kf4 h6 46.h4

46.Ke5 is most direct.

46.Ke6 47.g4 Kd5 48.h5 g5+ 49.Kf5 1-0

Except for missing the simple tactic on move 30, which is a serious oversight on my part, I am very satisfied with this win. It was the first one which I have played in what I have come to think of as "Donny style". Take no chances, just keep improving my position, and let my ability to calculate endgames better than my opponent sway the balance.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Game 17, Charleston, Round 5

A43: Schmid Benoni
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: Anthony Brown (1470)
Winter Snowstorm; Charleston, SC
40/90, SD/30; Feb. 13, 2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 a6 6.a4 Nf6 7.Bd3 0–0 8.0–0 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3


I like having the two bishops. My only problem is that the two Bishops work best on an open board, but I don’t see a way of forcing a lot of pawn exchanges to take place.

10...Nbd7 11.Bf4

I was thinking of trying to force through e5 after Re1 or Qe2 in order to open the board, but then I realized doing so meant exchanging off a Bishop, the reason for wanting an open board in the first place!

11...Rc8 12.Qe2 Nh5 13.Bh2 Qc7 14.Bc4 Ne5 15.Ba2

I think this is the first time I have played a position in which both my Bishops have gone to the Rook two square.

15…c4 16.Nd1

I don’t know where my Rooks belong yet. So I decided to try to improve the position of my worst placed minor piece.

16…b5 17.axb5 axb5 18.f4 Nd7 19.c3

To prevent Black from bringing the Bishop over to the queenside via d4 from where it could bear down on my King position. I also wanted to prevent …b4 and …c3.

19...Nhf6 20.b3

Instead of trying to play in an area of the board where I have less space, I should play 20.Bb1!? with an equal position.

20...cxb3 21.Bxb3 Nc5 22.Bc2 Qb6

Black had a devastating tactical shot in 22...b4! opening up the long diagonal for the Bishop. If 23.cxb4 Ncxe4 24.Bxe4 (better is 24.Ra2 which is still in Black’s favor) 24…Nxe4 25.Qxe4 Bxa1 winning for Black.

23.Kh1 Nfd7 24.Bg1

Black’s Knight on c5 isn’t moving anyway now, but after …b4 his Bishop on g7 might. Safest is 24.Rb1 with equality.

24...Qb7 25.Bd4 Nf6 26.g4 e6 27.Rb1

Attacking the isolated pawn on b5. A safer alternative was 27.Bxc5 Rxc5 28.dxe6 fxe6 with approximate equality.

27...Rb8

Black stops following his plan and decides to counter mine instead. Black can get an edge with the more consistent 27...exd5 28.Bxf6 Bxf6 29.exd5 Qxd5+ 30.Qg2 Qxg2+ 31.Kxg2

28.c4

28.Bxc5 dxc5 29.c4 exd5 30.cxd5 Rfd8=

28...b4

28...Nfxe4!? should be investigated more closely 29.Bxe4 Bxd4 and Black would be up a pawn. With the text, the position becomes dead equal.

29.Bxc5 dxc5 30.e5 Nd7 31.Be4 exd5 32.Bxd5 Qb6 33.e6

Before proceeding with my attack, I should bring up the reserves with 33.Nf2 Qc7 34.Ne4 with good prospects for my Knight. Even still, after 34…Nb6 my prospects for an advantage are minimal.

33...Nf6 34.exf7+ Kh8 35.Re1?

Much better was 35.Be6 with approximate equality.

35...Nxd5 36.cxd5 Rxf7 37.Qe4 Qd6 38.f5 Rd8 39.Ne3 Qg3 40.Qg2 ½-½

Drawn on my offer. I am about to go down a pawn without compensation. At no point in this game did I ever feel that I had any real attacking prospects. Only with failing to play 33.Nf2 do I feel I really missed any serous chances. I left the tournament feeling embarrassed about having drawn a “C” player, and counted myself lucky to have managed that! However, Black truly played an inspired game as I probed for 40 moves. I now think I played better than I felt I had at the time.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Game 16, Charleston, Round 4

D94: Grünfeld: 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 e3
White: Ken Fickling (1387)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Winter Snowstorm; Charleston, SC
40/90, SD/30; Feb. 13, 2012

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5


I have played the Gruenfeld Defense off and on for many years. It was the defense I primarily used when I was in my early 20s to go from “C” player to a rating of 1982 in one year. The defense is easy to understand, but often results in a wide open pawnless middlegame. I have switched to other defenses on many occasions because I often feel at a loss for what to do in pawnless middlegames, as though there is nothing for my mind to anchor itself on strategically.

4.Nf3 Bg7 5.e3 0–0 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 c5 8.0–0 cxd4 9.exd4 Bg4 10.Be3 Nc6 11.Be2

We are still well inside the Gruenfeld Defense theory playbook. My youthful, underrated opponent is doing just fine. And we have finished the opening to arrive at one of those pawnless (for Black) middlegames I can sometimes flounder in. Here, it is not so bad though because I understand White’s position well. White has an isolated d-pawn. White should be playing to push that pawn, to trade it off or even sacrifice it, and to try to cause some havoc in Black’s position while doing so. In order to push the pawn, White needs to control or fight for d5. That is why White’s last move is to my mind something of a strategic mistake, even if it is the most popular move chosen from this position. Nothing stops White from playing 11.d5 right now, which happens to be the second most popular move in this position. I also like 11.h3 because after 11…Bxf3 12.Qxf3 White’s Queen moves to a square that bears on d5.

11…h6

I made this move because if White plays 12.h3, I want to keep my Bishop now by placing it on e6 (where it fights for control of d5) and don’t want to be harassed by Ng5. My computer program does not think much of my move and prefers the more direct way of controlling d5, namely through occupation: 11...Nd5 12.Rc1= However, I still prefer the farther-reaching consequences of my move.

12.h3 Be6 13.Qd2 Kh7 14.Rfd1 Nd5

Stopping White’s expansion threat by occupying d5 myself. The knight likes it on d5. He told me so. Seriously though, Black is playing in good Nimzowitsch blockade style: first you stop the pawn from expanding by controlling the square in front of it. Then, while retaining that square, you start to aim for the isolani itself. I had no idea how to go about mounting an attack on d4 though!

15.a3?

Now, fortunately, I won’t have to figure it out. White just made all kinds of Queenside weaknesses for me to try to exploit. I am not sure what he thought he was accomplishing by playing this. …Nb4 did not seem like a threat he needed to be overly concerned with. Maybe he just has no idea what else to do. Chess programs give 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Rac1 Rc8=

15...Na5

Aiming for the newly created hole at b3.

16.Qc2

Queens are not good square defenders. My chess program prefers to concede b3 by playing 16.Rab1 Nb3 17.Qe1 Qb6 with an edge for Black.

16...Rc8

I missed the fact I could now win an exchange by playing 16...Nxe3 17.fxe3 Bb3 18.Qd3 Bxd1 19.Rxd1. I am instead continuing to apply positional pressure by playing the Rook to the file White’s Queen is on.

17.Rab1 Qc7

Missing 17...Nxe3!? 18.fxe3 Bb3 again.

18.Bd2 Rfd8 19.Nh4?

White bezerkly decides to attack at all costs now. This moves a piece away from controlling the center to a square from which it exerts less influence on anything. In my opinion, White might as well have made it look like he meant to play a3 to control b4 by playing the consistent 19.Bd3. I don’t think White can start an attack of his own like this, but just has to sit back and see what Black intends. So far, Black is not showing any signs of making concrete progress.

19...Bxd4 20.Bh5?

Better was the centralizing 20.Qe4 Nb3 21.Be1 Nxc3 22.bxc3, though Black is still winning. But White has something else in mind.

20...Qg3!

Bringing a reserve defender up for g6 protection. Believe it or not, the Queen has no intentions yet on White’s King. I imagine White had been banking on 20…Nf4 21.Bxf4 Qxf4 22.Bxg6+ in order to generate counterplay, which is really imaginative tactics, though I think Black can probably weather that okay too. I am glad I had a resource that didn’t require me to find out. Now, it is lights out for White. He has lost material and his attack has come to naught.

21.Bxh6

White goes out kamikaze style, but 21.Qe4 Bxf2+ 22.Kh1 Nf6 must not have looked appealing either. White is now down two pieces.

21...Qxh4 22.Bxg6+ fxg6 23.Bg5 Bxf2+ 24.Qxf2 Qxg5 25.Ne4 Qf5 26.Qh4+ Kg7 27.Ng5 Nf6 28.Rf1 Qc5+ 29.Kh1 Bg8 30.Rxf6 exf6 31.Ne4 Qf5 32.Ng3 Qxb1+ 0-1

Game 15, Charleston, Round 3

B23: Closed Sicilian: Lines without g3
White: Donny Gray (2073)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Winter Snowstorm; Charleston, SC
40/90, SD/30; Feb. 12, 2012


My next game was against Donny Gray, Augusta’s highest rated player and the most popular area chess teacher of kids and occasionally adults. I have played Donny from time to time since I first moved to Augusta in late 1995, not often, but every now and then. Out of perhaps 20 or so games our record is something like 18-1-1, and those ones for me were unrated blitz games from a very long time ago. Donny is a very solid expert who, it seems to my observation, seeks primarily to avoid mistakes when playing. I have the impression that he figures that just by doing this well, wins are the likeliest result. His style is that he doesn’t care much about the opening; he just wants to emerge with a solid position, find the right, mistake-free, principled middle game move, and then hunts for the win in the endgame, assuming the opponent makes it that far. A famous former World Champ named Petrosian went to the top with this style. Among modern players, Peter Svidler plays this way too. As a result of this game, and seeing what adjustments Kasparov had to make in the 1980s against Karpov, who had many elements of the same style, I have decided to shift some emphases in my own approach to chess. I don’t think I can ever emulate Donny's style due to my own personality – it would make chess as a whole less enjoyable for me, and I don’t think it’s necessary to play that way – but I hope to incorporate parts of Donny's style into my own play. I am no slouch at endgames either. Time will tell if it pays off. Anyway, now to anatomize yet another of my chess disasters vs. Donny.

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4

The two highest rated players in Augusta favor the Closed Sicilian as White. This is no surprise. The Closed Sicilian has always been popular among club “A” class and expert players. This group of people tend not to want to play the Open Sicilian as White because they then have to be prepared for more Black systems of defense than they care to study. It’s a form of chess laziness, to be perfectly blunt. They choose to play a system that they know won’t get them anywhere against masters and above. However, against “A” players and below, they get to play their one trick pony, the f5 pawn advance, usually early, and often as a pure sacrifice, and then take advantage of the open lines and their weaker opponents’ dubious defensive skills.

Since the two Augustan 2000 players favor this no-thinking-needed, autopilot system, I have of course devoted considerable study to it. I favor a setup for Black that Dvoretsky recommends in his Opening Preparation, a really wonderfully readable book by the way.

3…e6 4.Nf3 Nge7 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0–0 d6 8.b3?!

This is the first time I have ever seen White attempt a Queen-side fianchetto against Black’s setup. Normal is 8.d3, continuing to develop. Black’s plan in this defensive setup is to play …a5 and …b5 and swing the major pieces to the Queenside for attack, which the Bishop on g7 is aiding. The problem with 8.b3 for White is that it makes light squared weaknesses on the Queenside. In addition, Black’s attack comes that much faster since the a-pawn has one less square’s distance to travel before it can engage the enemy b-pawn.

8…0–0 9.Bb2 b5?

TN, and a bad one; the thrust is too aggressive. White has a Bishop on g2 every bit as pretty as Black’s g7-Bishop, and Black’s move only increases its scope and allows it to indirectly threaten the a8-Rook. The main lesson I have drawn from this game is that Black’s Queenside attack is not going to disappear. It should be built up slowly and methodically instead of at top speed, as the text attempts. White has no real answer to this. Black has stopped White’s f5 idea, and the e5 thrust, if watched for by Black, can always be parried to advantage for Black. In the meantime, a slow methodical Queenside buildup by Black beginning with 9…Qa5 would have a good chance of eventual success due to the space advantage Black enjoys in that sector.

10.Qe2

Best for White is 10.e5, to create room on e4 for White’s Knight to come to. Then 10…dxe5 11.fxe5 Qb6=

10...Nd4 11.Nxd4 cxd4 12.Nd1 Qb6 13.d3?

White has a new backward pawn on c2. Instead, 13.e5 Rb8 is best for White. The game would be completely equal.

13...Bb7

Black’s position is once again better. The minority attack on the Queenside, where Black’s space advantage lies, if correctly carried out, has a good chance of producing a substantial advantage for Black.

14.a4!

White tries to claim some Queenside space for himself to relieve the cramping.

14…Rfc8?

Best is clearly 14...b4!? after which White will have difficulty defending c2 from an attack of doubled Rooks down the file. Black’s choice here allows White to once again secure comfortable equality and maybe a little more.

15.axb5 Rc7 16.Ba3 Rac8 17.Ra2 Rd7 18.Nb2 Qxb5 19.Nc4

White threatens to win material with Nxd6.

19...Rc6?

Better was 19...Rcd8, though White retains a small advantage after 20.Re1. Instead, I defend d6 from the side in order to have a more “active” Rook, except the Rook on c6 has no mission other than defense. I am making a number of the second best type positional moves that Donny is counting on me to make, and slowly drifting from a better to a worse position.

20.Rfa1

20.e5 d5 21.Nd6 Qa6 would create even more problems for me, but White is in no rush.

20...Nc8

Best was 20…Ra6 in order to trade off one of White’s Rooks, though White keeps an edge with 21.Qd2.

21.Bc1 Ra6 22.Rxa6 Bxa6 23.f5 d5??

Strolling merrily down the path to disaster. But even after 23...Bb7, Black’s position is very difficult.

24.exd5

Only now to my horror did I see my back rank problems.

24…e5 25.Ra5

After 25…Qb7, 26.d6 was curtains for Black. This game stands as another testament to Donny's cautiously solid approach to chess. He played well, even by not going in for advantageous opportunities to play e5 at various points, simply by allowing me to implode. It is this aspect of Donny's game, allowing the opponent to make a mistake, I most want to try to incorporate into my own from now on.

1-0

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Game 14, Charleston, Round 2

C12: French: Classical System: McCutcheon Variation
White: Dan Quigley (1800)
Black: Dennis Dawley (1950)
Winter Snowstorm; Charleston, SC
40/90, SD/30; Feb. 12, 2012

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.Be3


As Black, impressed by James Eades’ book on the defense, I used to play the McCutcheon myself in the 1990s. Eades is a really nice fellow whom I have had the pleasure of playing at a World Open once, if memory serves correctly. I do definitely remember that I found the 6.Be3 line the least pleasant to face and I have lost a few postal games on the Black side. Unfortunately, that was about 20 years ago. So I remembered little of the theory of this move. I realized I would be winging it from here.

6…Ne4 7.Nge2

When I have this position again, I will be playing 7.Qg4. White is achieving excellent results with this move, e.g. A) 7…g6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 c5 (9…Nxc3 10.Bd3 and White has more than enough play for the b-pawn.) 10.Bd3 h5 11.Qf3 and Black’s King will be feeling less and less comfortable. B) 7…Kf8 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 Nxc3 10.Bd3 and Black’s Kingside is under pressure. The text move, 7.Nge2, is playing into Black’s scheme.

7…c5 8.f3 cxd4

This is a theoretical novelty according to my database, and it's a good one. The two times previously this position was reached, Black preferred the move I was expecting: 8…Nxc3, after which White obtains full equality with 9.bxc3 cxd4 10.Qxd4 (10.Bxd4? Ba5 11.Nf4 Nc6 12.Bb5 0-0 13.Bxc6 bxc6 14.Qd2 Ba6 15.Bc5 Qb8 16.Qd4 f6 17.Bxf8 fxe5 18.Qc5 exf4 19.Qxa5 Qe5+ 20.Kd1 Qe2+ 21.Kc1 Rxf8 22.Rb1 Qxg2 23.Re1 Qf2 24.Rxe6 Qxf3 25.c4 Qf1+ 26.Re1 Qxc4 27.Rb4 Qc3 28.Re7 Bd3 29.Qa4 Bxc2 30.Rxg7+ Kxg7 31.Rb7+ Rf7 0-1 Breyer - Reti, Bratislava 1920) 10...Nc6 11.Qg4 Bf8 12.f4 Qa5 13.Qf3 g6 14.g3 Qa4 15.Bg2 Qxc2 16.0-0 Qa4 17.Rfb1 Qa5 18.Qf2 Qc7 19.c4 dxc4 20.Nc3 Be7 21.Nb5 Qa5 22.Nd6+ Bxd6 23.exd6 Qa6 24.Qb2 Rg8 25.Qf6 Kf8 26.d7 Bxd7 27.Bc5+ Ke8 28.Bxc6 1-0 Kresovic - Schaedler, Verbandsliga S9495, Baden, Germany, 1995

9.Bxd4 Nxc3 10.Bxc3

10.bxc3 transposes into the Breyer – Reti game mentioned last note. After 10.Nxc3, Black will play 10…Nc6. Then, White will find it difficult not to concede Black the two Bishops. Therefore, 10.Bxc3 seems the best plan to me.

10…Nc6 11.Bxb4?

This is a mistake. Embarrassingly, I failed to calculate the consequences of Black’s next move. This is not looking even one move ahead in the position! Terrible. 11.Qd2! seems the obvious choice to me now, when I believe the game would be completely equal. White could castle long and push the kingside pawns.

11...Qh4+ 12.g3 Qxb4+ 13.Kf2 Qxb2 14.f4 Qb6+ 15.Kg2 0–0 16.Nc3 a6 17.Bd3 Bd7 18.Qg4?

A pawn down, I am becoming desperate to find counterplay, but there is no justification for an attack on Black’s King. White’s Queen is instead now simply decentralized. Unpleasant as the duty may be, I need to put up resistance and try to play active defense. After 18.Rb1 Qc7 19.Ne2 b5 Black is better, but he has to find a good plan in order to cash in.

18...Qc5 19.Ne2 Rac8

I was surprised Black did not avail himself of the opportunity to rid me of my attacking Bishop by playing 19...Nb4, but he has judged the Bishop to be no threat.

20.Rhb1?

White should instead play the prophylactic 20.c3, which does a surprisingly good job of slowing down Black’s attack, though after 20…Na5 White’s game is still difficult. White’s game now teeters on lost.

20...Na5

Even stronger was 20...Nb4 21.Rc1 Ba4. Black’s pieces would be taking the Queenside over before White can do anything on the Kingside.

21.h4?

I would like to play 21.Kh3 to get my King to relative safety, but I felt I was going to need to advance Kingside pawns to try to force some play on the Kingside. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the luxury of time for a move like the text.

21...b5 22.a4?

Best was 22.Rd1!? in order to threaten the Bishop on d7 in some lines involving …Nc4, Bxc4 although Black’s attack is still going to prove difficult to defend against.

22...Nc4 23.Kh3

23.Bxc4 Qxc4 24.Qf3 bxa4 does not stop Black from winning.

23...b4

Also good is 23...Ne3!? 24.Qh5 bxa4 25.c3 which wins for Black.

24.Qf3?

My last error in a mistake riddled game. White can struggle on with 24.Bxc4.

24...Nd2

There is no point in continuing an exchange and pawn down with a lost position.

0-1

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Game 13: Charleston, Round 1

In February I decided to visit a good friend and his wife who live in Charleston while playing some chess besides. This turned out to be an odd combination of activities and I felt torn in two directions. There was one side of me that wanted to be on vacation going out at night to have fun with my friends, and the other that wanted to try to play serious chess. I think I failed to resolve this schism. I did not play the chess I feel I am capable of, nor was I able to spend the level of quality time I would have liked to with my nonplaying friends, since chess to some extent was on my mind and I could not fully relax socially. I enjoy both seeing my friends and playing chess, but don't think I will try to mix the two like this again.

B21: Sicilian Defense
White: Eugene Utley (Unr)
Black: Dan Quigley (1800)
Winter Snowstorm; Charleston, SC
40/90, SD/30; Feb. 11, 2012

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.Qxd4


The Smith-Morra gambit, which I thought I would be facing and which I have a lot of respect for, continues 3.c3. The text is less of a problem for White because Black can make a developing move that forces the Queen to move again.

3…Nc6 4.Qa4 g6 5.c3

In the times when this position has been reached previously White chose to develop one of his Knights, or played 5.Bb5. Blunting the power of Black’s Bishop down the long diagonal, however, is not an unreasonable move.

5...Bg7 6.Bg5 Nf6 7.Bxf6?

This move came as a surprise. White is giving Black the two Bishops and losing time doing so, which can’t be right. I expected 7.Nd2 h6 8.Bf4 d6= My high school aged opponent told me just before the game that this was his second tournament ever and that he was nervous. I must have looked suspiciously at him, because I wondered if he were attempting a psychological trick when stating this and if he were going to be one of these 2000 strength kids who had spent the last year playing on the net who was now playing tournaments as an unrated for easy money. I now realize for certain this is not the case. I wished I had said something kind now when he shared his feelings instead of ignoring him. Something reassuring.

7...Bxf6 8.Nh3

There is no reason I could see for preferring the Knight development to h3 instead of the standard square f3, e.g. 8.Nf3 0–0 with a small advantage to Black because of the two Bishops.

8...0–0 9.Nd2 d6 10.Nf3

I was expecting 10.Nf4 followed by Nd5, when I planned to just retreat my Bishop to g7.

10...Bd7 11.Nhg5 a6 12.e5?

White begins to part with his material for no reason I could see. After this move, computers say White’s position is lost. Best for White is to try to get an attack going on the flank with 12.h4!? In this case, I planned 12…h6 13.Nh3 and if White later played h5, I can play past this pawn with …g5.

12...Nxe5 13.Qh4?

White begins a pawnless attack, but actually just pins his most advanced piece. This has no chance of succeeding.

13…Nxf3+ 14.gxf3 h5 15.0–0–0??

An oversight, but White was lost anyway. A little better was to get out of the pin with 15.Qg3.

15...Qa5 16.a3

If 16.Qg3, I was looking at 16...Bxc3! 17.bxc3 Qxc3+ with …Rac8 and mate to soon follow on b2 or a2.

16...Bxg5+ 17.Kb1 Bxh4 18.Bg2 Bf5+ 19.Ka1 Rac8 20.Ka2 Bf6

Quicker is 20...Rxc3 21.bxc3 Qxc3 22.Rc1 Be6+ 23.Kb1 Qb3+ 24.Ka1 Qa2# However, these moves are not forced, and I thought it was possible I may be overlooking a hidden White resource. Black’s goal is not to win brilliantly, but rather to win surely. Unless I calculate a forced win, sacrifices should be of White’s material, not Black’s.

21.b4

21.Rc1 doesn't change anything anymore 21...Qd5+ 22.Ka1 Be6 23.b3 Rxc3 24.Rb1 Rc1+ 25.Ka2 Qd2+ 26.Rb2 Qxb2#

21...Qa4 22.f4

22.Rc1 is not the saving move. 22...Be6+ 23.c4 Bxc4+ 24.Rxc4 Rxc4 25.Rc1 Rxc1 26.b5 Qc2#

22...Rxc3 23.Bxb7 Qxa3#

23…Rxa3 also mates. 0-1