Monday, March 18, 2013

Game 36: Columbia Club Championship Rd. 4

Columbia Chess Club Championship
B20: Sicilian: Unusual White 2nd moves
White: Birney Blind (1226)
Black: Dan Quigley (1807)
Columbia, SC, Round 4, G/75, 30 sec. bonus, Mar. 14, 2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bc4

As anyone who has played much chess on the Internet knows, this early Bishop deployment is very common for people who do not like to study chess theory. There is nothing wrong with it, but Black now has a very good plan to adopt against White’s setup, namely …e6, and …d5. Once these moves are in White will have to lose time moving the Bishop again. Black has the option to throw in …a6 to prevent the Bishop from coming to b5 if he wishes to. Also, if needed, Black can play …Nf6 and …Bb4 in order to bolster the impact of …d5 when it comes.

3…e6 4.Nge2?!

Unless there is a specific reason to prefer a Knight deployment to d2 or e2, Knights are always better developed on c3 and f3. I see no reason to prefer e2 in this case.

4...Na5?


At the time, this move made a good deal of sense to me. White’s Bishop is almost in a Noah’s Ark type trap. If 5.Bd3, c4 will prove embarassing, for example. In fact, there is only one saving move. Unfortunately, that saving move places White in a very strong position, much stronger than I realized at the time. Rather than become diverted by what I thought was a White mistake last move, I should have likewise continued with my most logical development plan, 4...Nf6, in order to be able to play …d5 soon.

5.Bb3?

5.d3! is not only forced, it is much stronger than it first appears. If 5…Nxc4 6.dxc4 White has an excellent Maroczy Bind position. Black will have great difficulty getting …d5 in, if it’s even possible. Without the …d5 break, Black’s position will be cramped and very difficult to play. The two Bishops will also be markedly inferior to White’s Knights and the space advantage he will enjoy. After the text, White will lose material, but he gets some compensation for it. White’s position is not lost yet, but it does become very difficult to play.

5...c4 6.Ba4 a6 7.d4 b5 8.Nxb5 axb5 9.Bxb5 Qb6 10.Nc3 Bb4 11.Ba4?

This move surprised me. I expected 11.a4!?, after which I planned 11…Nf6 with pressure on White’s center.


11...Nf6?

I failed to do a reassessment of the position to realize that I could now win a piece with 11...Nb7. White can’t save the Bishop, which has nowhere to move. White’s best bet would be to seek counterplay with 12.Qg4, but even then Black’s threat to win a piece is not disappearing. I could play 12…Kf8 or 12…Ne7 13.Qxg7 Rg8, and then win the Bishop at my leisure. After 11…Nb7, White’s position would be lost.

12.f3

Better was 12.e5, but even so Black emerges with a winning game, e.g. 12…Nd5 13.Bd2 Qxd4 14.Nxd5 Bxd2+ 15.Qxd2 Qxd5 16.Qxd5 exd5–+

12...0–0

I still fail to realize I can win White’s Bishop with 12...Nb7.

13.Bd2?

I don’t think White realized this move drops a pawn. Best was 13.Qd2 Nc6 14.Bxc6 dxc6, but Black is winning here too.

13...Qxd4

It is still probably preferable to win a piece with 13...Nb7 than to win just a pawn, but I never saw this possibility during the game.

14.Nb5??

White’s position was bad. The best plan, 14.a3 Be7 15.Qe2, will not bring White joy in the long run either. This mistake simply hastens the end.


14...Qe3+ 15.Qe2 Bxd2+

Black wins a piece. In view of 16.Kd1 Qxe2+ 17.Kxe2 Bh6, Black resigned.

0–1

My play this game was not the sharpest. I failed to fully evaluate the positional consequences of 4…Na5 5.d3 Nxc4 6.dxc4 to see how bad my position would then become as a result. I think I am putting too much weight on the advantage of having the two Bishops in many of my games. Going forward, I will strive for this only when I am sure I can have an open board afterwards. I also never saw the possibility of winning a White piece on move 11, 12, or 13 by simply backing up my Knight. This means I need to widen my search horizon a bit every move.

I was informed after the game that my opponent does not like to play up. I have never really understood this attitude among some low rated players. I personally relish the chance to play stronger or higher rated players. It is less damaging to my rating to lose these games, and those are usually the games I learn the most from, win or lose. Not wanting to play up is a really self-destructive preference, it seems to me.

A question was asked me via this blog site regarding whether it bothers me more to lose to someone lower rated. The answer is definitely “Yes!” All losses bother me to some extent, of course, though I try not to show it, and to accept the fact as graciously as possible that defeats are inevitable. Even Magnus Carlsen gets beat fairly often. However, for me to lose (or draw) someone who is lower rated, usually I have beat myself by making mistakes that I should know better than to make. Beating myself this way is always frustrating, sometimes even deeply embarrassing, like my recent loss to Andrew Manion (Game 35) was.

Even still, such losses are a natural part of the game. If you can’t stand the pain, and many can’t, then tournament chess is simply not for you, which is a shame because you then also miss out on the joy the flip side of the coin (winning) brings. People who can’t take the competitive aspect, I have noticed, still find other ways to involve themselves. They may play informal chess games only, for example, or become kibitzers, spectators, chess gossips, chess teachers, chess politicians, or tournament directors. I am not saying anything negative about these categories. I am very grateful directors exist, and South Carolina's are tops, one reason I choose to live in this state. Our state president and USCF delegate David Grimaud is my ideal of what a chess politician should be, if only more were like him. There is more than one way to enjoy chess than competing directly. Those ways just aren’t for me.

Anyone can have an off day due to a low grade headache, personal distraction, or become impatient at the board due to chess over-saturation, but still decide to try his luck nevertheless. The last condition (chess over-saturation) is easily avoidable, except maybe when playing in a multi-round per day tournament, and I have made a rule for myself to have little to do with chess for at least 24 hours before I am due to play a tournament game, and to try to avoid playing at extremely long time controls when possible. The break from chess makes me fresher and less impatient when I do sit down at the board, and I will think longer about my moves. The first two are a matter of experience in not doing the things that cause a health issue to arise, when at all possible, or in successfully compartmentalizing away personal distractions. Being ready for a game in the ways I have described will help make losses to lower rated players a more infrequent occurrence, I am convinced.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Game 35: Columbia Club Championship Rd. 3

Columbia Chess Club Championship
B28: Sicilian: 2 Nf3 a6 (O'Kelly Variation)
White: Andrew Manion (1340)
Black: Dan Quigley (1802)
Columbia, SC, Round 3, G/75, 30 sec. bonus, Mar. 7, 2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.d4?! cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3?

Not good. Why make a move that affects only e4 when you have a move available that fights for both e4 and d5? 5.Nc3 is the normal move, though I consider Black’s position already slightly advantageous even so.

5…e5 6.Nb3 d5

Black threatens to win material: dxe4.

7.Bg5 dxe4

This position with Black to make his seventh move has been reached five times in my database. Black has played three options, all of which I considered: 1) maintain the tension with 7…Be6. I didn't care for 8.exd5 Bxd5 9.c4 Bc6 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 and decided not to go for this line. 2) Black can push the d-pawn on down the field, but then White can lay claim to the beautiful c4-f7 diagonal for his Bishop. White’s opening play surely doesn’t justify such a reward for White. 3) Finally, there is 7…dxe4 to consider. If the first option had to include acquiescence to a Queen trade, perhaps it’s best just to get it over with. I normally hate to allow this kind of simplification in my chess games, but I am consciously trying to expand the types of positions I am willing to play. Simplified chess causes me discomfort and I am bad at it in great part because I get bored and then impatient with the resulting positions. However, they are a part of chess and I have to learn how to play them. That is why I have been studying Capablanca. Unfortunately, my timing to play it here is off. I should not be making an exercise of trying to learn how to play simple chess when playing down nearly 500 points. I can tend to lose the advantage of that 500 points of experience. Objectively speaking, 7…d4 is the best move, and Black is ahead by about a quarter of a pawn. After …Be7 and …0-0, White’s c4-f7 diagonal does not amount to that much because g5 is occupied by a Bishop rather than a Knight.

8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.fxe4 Be6 10.N1d2

Or 10.Bxf6+ gxf6 11.Nc3 Nd7 12.0-0-0=

10...Nbd7

Around here I gave a lot of consideration to playing 10…Kc7. The King seems like it will be safest on this square and Black’s Knight can develop normally to the c6-square. But surely moving the King in the center of the board voluntarily like this can’t be right, I figured. After the text move though I start to feel a bit cramped.

11.0–0–0 h6 12.Bxf6+ gxf6

Black has the pair of Bishops, but I could never make them work for me.

13.Bc4 Rc8 14.Bd5 Bxd5 15.exd5 Nb6?

White is taking forever to decide on his moves and I am starting to feel really bored and miserable. I should not have spent time studying chess earlier today and writing that Capablanca article. I am burned out. I made this move quickly with no thought, and it is a horrible error. Not only am I decentralizing my Knight, I am self-discoordinating my entire Queenside for ephemeral pressure on White’s d5-pawn. The position before this move is equal if Black continues to play with care. The right plan is 15...Rg8, activating the Rook. After 16.g3 Rg4 Black is comfortable.

16.Ne4?

Better is 16.Rhf1 first so that after Ne4, Black does not have …f5 as a response. I would then have to eat crow and play 16…Nd7, grovel for ten or twenty moves, and hope for the best.


16...Bg7?

I considered 16...f5!?, but then saw that White could play 17.Ng3 attacking f5. I have no idea now why this concerned me so much at the time. I could then play 17…f4 with a fine game. My 16th move is a serious mistake that gives White real winning chances for the first time.

17.Nd6

Besides this one, White has a number of good plans he can consider. Another is 17.Rd3 Nc4 18.Rf1 h5 19.Nbc5 with a strong bind.

17...Rc7 18.Nf5 Bf8 19.d6 Rc4

My alternative was to play 19...Rc8 so that after 20.Na5 I can play 20…Rb8. That was just too sad. I opted for piece activity instead.

20.Na5 Rf4 21.Ne7?

This lets White slip out. Best was 21.Rhf1!? to maintain the pressure. Black would be positionally lost at that point with only some squirming left as a possible resource.

21...Bxe7 22.Nxb7+ Kc8??

I made this move impatiently and with no consideration whatsoever. I thoroughly deserve this loss. 22...Ke8 was necessary 23.dxe7 Kxe7=

23.dxe7

To my horror I now realized I can’t take the Knight on b7. The game is over and Black is lost. Normally, I would resign here. The only reason I played it out is because of the possibility that a D player could allow a Knight fork. The rest of the moves are without interest.

23…Rd4 24.Rxd4 exd4 25.e8Q+ Rxe8 26.Nd6+ Kd7 27.Nxe8 Kxe8 28.Rd1 Ke7 29.Rxd4 Ke6 30.Rh4 Nd5 31.c4 Nb4 32.a3 Nd3+ 33.Kc2 Ne1+ 34.Kc3 Nxg2 35.Rxh6 Ne3 36.Rh3 Nf5 37.b4 Kd7 38.a4 Kc7 39.c5 a5 40.b5 Ne7 41.Kc4 Ng6 42.Rh7 Ne5+ 43.Kd4 Kb7 44.c6+ Kb6 45.h4 Kc7 46.h5 Kd6 47.h6 f5 48.c7 Nf3+ 49.Ke3 1-0

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Chess Mastery and My Issue with Capablanca

I think rather than have this blog be devoted solely to my analysis of my chess attempts that I am going to expand the topics to include chess tidbits that interest me and that I think are worth sharing with the public at large.

I have been looking at Capablanca’s games recently. Capablanca is a World Champion whose chess style troubles me because it is furthest from my own, one I understand the least, and find least emulatable. How does he win from such simple positions? Capablanca’s win over Euwe from London, 1922 is a great example. Capablanca plays the Black side of a Ruy Lopez in as insipid a style as can be imagined. He literally sits back and does what appears to my eyes nothing for 20 moves, emerges by winning a pawn somehow, gets handed the two Bishops, and then future World Champion Euwe resigns fourteen moves later. How can this type of play win games? I am still working on that question and have no answer I can share yet. Here is the score of that troubling game for those interested:

Euwe – Capablanca
C66: Ruy Lopez
London (Round 1), 1922

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 d6 5.d4 Bd7 6.Nc3 exd4 7.Nxd4 Be7 8.Re1 0-0 9.Bf1 Re8 10.f3 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Be6 12.Qf2 c6 13.Bd2 Qb6 14.Na4 Qxf2+ 15.Kxf2 d5 16.e5 Nd7 17.g3 Bf5 18.Rac1 b5 19.Nc3 Bc5+ 20.Kg2 Nxe5 21.g4 Bg6 22.Kg3 h5 23.Bf4 f6 24.Bxe5 fxe5 25.Bd3 Bf7 26.g5 g6 27.Re2 Bd6 28.Kg2 Kg7 29.Rce1 Re7 30.Nd1 Rf8 31.Nf2 Be8 32.b3 Ref7 33.c4 Rxf3 34.cxd5 cxd5 35.Bb1 Bc6 36.Rd1 R3f4 37.Be4 Bc5 38.Nd3 dxe4 0-1

But that is not what I am really writing about. The interesting tidbit I wanted to share came from the fourteenth round of the London, 1922 tournament. Capablanca had first place all but sewn up, being a point ahead, but has Black against a dangerous rival who is tied with Alekhine for second place: Akiba Rubinstein. After playing his thirteenth move as White in a not very interesting opening, Rubinstein proposed a draw and Capablanca accepted. Here is that game:

Rubinstein – Capablanca
D02: Queen’s Pawn game
London (Round 14), 1922

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 e6 4.e3 Bd6 5.Nbd2 Bxf4 6.exf4 c5 7.dxc5 Qc7 8.g3 Qxc5 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.c3 0-0 11.0-0 b5 12.Ne5 Bb7 13.Qe2 ½-½


Apparently, some London (or maybe Dutch) spectators must have been disappointed not to have seen what would have resulted from this opening had the two titans instead decided to fight on. I searched my database and found only six games played from this position. The surprise was that they were all from 1922! From this, I surmise that some wealthy chess patron must have soon after the tournament commissioned several strong players, one of whom was Euwe, another was Tarrasch, to take up this position and play on from it. I append those six games below for those who are interested in seeing them.

What I want to focus on in this article is the position after Rubinstein’s thirteenth move. What do you make of it? If you had Black, what would you play as your thirteenth move response? Please take some time now to really look at the position.

White has just played his Queen to e2. He could have instead played 13.Nb3 to kick Black’s Queen back. He might have played 13.Nf3 to ensure that in the event of an exchange on e5, he would be able to maintain a Knight there. Perhaps Rubinstein pondered both options for a while and decided to postpone the decision by making the Queen move to threaten Black’s b5-pawn, a threat that had to be responded to. And if he threw in the draw offer, maybe Rubinstein figured he could get off the hook for having to decide which way to go with the Knight at all.

Okay, so let’s you and I take Black. Our b-pawn is threatened. What are our realistic options? We can protect the b-pawn with 13…a6, right? We can advance the b-pawn by playing 13…b4 as well, right? Each of these alternatives has its plusses and minuses, and we can sit there and ponder them for quite some time. In the six games played from this position, the masters chose 13…a6 four times, 13…b4 twice. Computer programs tell us that each option is about as good as the other and that White’s advantage is only around a quarter of a pawn either way. Here is the important question: is there another alternative we should be looking at?

The surprising answer is “Yes!” We need to fully consider and appreciate the strength of 13…Nxe5!?, a move found by a computer program. This move is just as good as the other two, although very independent strategically. Yet few if any humans would give it the consideration it deserves. I suspect not even players up through IM level would fully consider this move. That’s because on the surface it looks absurd. It appears to do nothing to address the pressure White is placing on b5. Even worse, it invites a pawn recapture, which would force Black to move the Knight on f6 in a way that can’t help the b5-pawn one iota. What gives?

Well, the thing is we have to take our consideration of the possibilities out one move further. We have to see that after 13…Nxe5 14.fxe5 Nd7 15.Bxb5, Black has a very playable countermove. Black should then play 15…Nxe5. White can take the Knight on e5, but then he has to give up the Bishop on b5 for it. The position after 15…Nxe5 is quite comfortable for Black, probably even slightly more comfortable than the positions reached after playing the other thirteenth move alternatives.

In my opinion, this position and example are worth a great deal of study and are very important to fully understand and appreciate. The heart of chess mastery is truly in this example. One can not look at only two of the three viable alternatives and hope to beat the person who has the ability to see and consider all three. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight! The way to chess mastery is accurately looking moves ahead to find the real consequences of best move alternatives. I hope this discussion helps you as much as it helped me.

Game 1
13…a6 14.Rfd1 Rfd8 15.h3 Rac8 16.Nb3 Qb6 17.Nxc6 Bxc6 18.Qe3 Qxe3 19.fxe3 Nd7 20.Rd2 Kf8 21.Rad1 Ke7 22.Kf2 h6 23.h4 f5 24.Nd4 Nf6 25.Ke2 Be8 26.Re1 Bh5+ 27.Kf1 Be8 28.Kg2 Bd7 29.Kh2 Rh8 30.Kg1 Rcg8 31.Nf3 Ng4 32.Bf1 Nf6 33.Bd3 Ng4 ½-½ G. Oskam – L. Fick, Gravenhage theme-A (3), 1922

Game 2
13…b4 14.Rac1 Rac8 15.Nb3 Qb6 16.Nxc6 Bxc6 17.cxb4 Qxb4 18.Qe3 Ba4 19.Qd4 Qxd4 20.Nxd4 Bd7 21.b4 Rb8 22.a3 Rfc8 23.Ba6 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Ne8 25.Rc5 Kf8 26.Ra5 Nc7 27.Bd3 Rb7 28.Nb3 Ne8 29.f5 h6 30.Nc5 Rc7 31.Nxd7+ Rxd7 32.fxe6 fxe6 33.Bb5 Re7 34.Bxe8 Kxe8 35.f4 Rd7 36.Kf2 Ke7 37.Ra6 Kf6 38.g4 g6 39.Ke3 Rc7 40.Kd3 h5 41.h3 hxg4 42.hxg4 Rc4 43.Ke3 Rc3+ 1-0 S. Tarrasch – W. Fick, Gravenhage theme-A (3), 1922

Game 3
13…a6 14.Rac1 Rfd8 15.Rfd1 Rac8 16.Nb3 Qb6 17.Bb1 d4 18.Nxc6 Qxc6 19.f3 dxc3 20.Rxc3 Rxd1+ 21.Qxd1 Qb6+ 22.Kg2 Rxc3 23.bxc3 Nd5 24.Qd3 g6 25.Nd4 Qc5 26.Nc2 Ne3+ 27.Kf2 Ng4+ 28.Ke1 Nxh2 29.Nd4 b4 30.Bc2 bxc3 31.Bd1 c2 32.Nxc2 Qg1+ 33.Kd2 Qxg3 34.Qd8+ Kg7 35.Qd4+ Kh6 36.Qb4 Bxf3 37.Qf8+ Kh5 38.Qxf7 h6 39.Bxf3+ Nxf3+ 40.Kc1 Qg1+ 41.Kb2 Qb6+ 42.Kc1 Qc5 43.Qxe6 Qxc2+ 0-1 G. Zittersteyn – M. Euwe, Gravenhage theme-A (3), 1922

Game 4
13…b4 14.Rac1 Rac8 15.Nb3 Qb6 16.Nxc6 Rxc6 17.Nd4 Rcc8 18.f5 bxc3 19.bxc3 Rfe8 20.fxe6 fxe6 21.Rb1 Qc7 22.Nb5 Qc5 23.Qe5 Ba6 24.Rfc1 Qxf2+ 25.Kxf2 Ng4+ 26.Kf3 Nxe5+ 27.Ke3 Nxd3 28.Kxd3 Rc5 29.a4 Rb8 30.Kd4 Rc4+ 31.Ke5 Re4+ 32.Kd6 Rb6+ 33.Kd7 Rxa4 34.Nxa7 Rxb1 35.Rxb1 Bd3 36.Rb8+ Kf7 37.Nc6 Bf5 38.Rb6 h5 39.Kd6 Kf6 40.h4 Rg4 41.Ne5 Rxg3 42.Rb7 Bg6 43.Re7 Kf5 44.Rxg7 Rg4 45.Rxg6 Rxh4 46.Rxe6 Rh3 ½-½ G. Brakkee - Goedhart, Gravenhage theme-B (3), 1922

Game 5
13…a6 14.Ndf3 Rad8 15.g4 Ne7 16.Nd4 Ng6 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.Nxg6 fxg6 19.Rfe1 Rfe8 20.Nxe6 Qe7 21.Nxd8 Qxe2 22.Rxe2 Rxe2 23.Nxb7 Nxg4 24.Nc5 Rxb2 25.Nxa6 Nxf2 26.a4 Nh3+ 27.Kh1 Nf2+ 28.Kg1 bxa4 29.Rxa4 Ne4 30.Ra3 Rc2 31.Nb4 Rc1+ 32.Kg2 Nxc3 33.Nc6 Nb5 34.Ra8+ Kf7 35.Ne5+ Ke6 36.Ra6+ Kf5 37.Nxg6 d4 38.Ra5 Rb1 39.Nf8 d3 40.Ra2 Nd4 41.Rd2 Ke4 0-1 G. Key – B. Van Trotsenburg, Gravenhage theme-B (3), 1922

Game 6
13…a6 14.g4 d4 15.Nb3 Qd5 16.c4 bxc4 17.Bxc4 Qd6 18.f3 Rfd8 19.Rad1 Rac8 20.Rfe1 Qc7 21.Nxf7 Kxf7 22.Bxe6+ Kf8 23.Bxc8 Qxc8 24.Nc5 Re8 25.Qc4 Re3 26.Ne6+ Ke7 27.Nxd4 Rxe1+ 28.Rxe1+ Kd7 29.Qf7+ Kd6 30.Nf5+ Kc5 31.Qb3 1-0 H. Van der Veen – G. Bosscha, Gravenhage theme-B (3), 1922

Monday, March 4, 2013

Game 34: Lowry Grand Prix Series, Columbia Rd. 3

Lowry Grand Prix Series
A04: King’s Indian Attack

White: Keith Eubanks (2079)
Black: Dan Quigley (1802)
Columbia, SC, Round 3, G/65, 5 sec. inc., Feb. 23, 2013

1.e4 c5 2.d3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.Nf3 b5

I have learned to appreciate the effect of playing along the b-file when my opponent Kingside fianchettoes. It was an earlier memorable game against Keith that I lost where he did so to me that taught me some of the principles.

6.0–0 Rb8 7.Nbd2 TN

This move is typical of the King’s Indian Attack, but surprisingly my database does not show other King’s Indian Attackers choosing it when they reach this position. Instead, 7.Re1 was chosen three times (a win, loss, and draw resulting), 7.c3 twice (White losing one and drawing the other), and 7.Nh4?! once (a draw). To me, 7.Re1 threatening a cramping e5 makes a good deal of sense, but Keith has other ideas.


7…b4?

Black invests some time to try to get a space advantage. Doing so is double-edged at best and should probably backfire. That’s a serious hole on c4 I just gave White for his Knight. Black stays comfortably equal with the normal looking 7...Nf6, though I wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to 8.a4.

8.Rb1

Keith said he made this move as a result of some form of illusion about the piece position. I had expected 8.Nc4, after which I intended 8…Ba6, but I don’t really believe in Black’s position. I won’t repeat this line.

8...Qa5?

Tempted, Black goes further behind in development in order to threaten to “win” White’s a-pawn. 8...Nf6 9.Nc4 0-0 and Black is almost equal.

9.Ra1??

White’s a-pawn was poisoned! White should play 9.Nc4 in the hope Black is dumb enough to play 9…Qxa2. After 10.Bf4, Black will be unable to extract his Queen. I hope after 9.Nc4 that I would have played 9...Qc7, and then looked for another way to equalize the game soon.

9...d6 10.Nc4 Qb5?

I needed to reassess the position and realize I was getting nowhere. Rather than doubling down on an increasingly dubious hand by keeping my Queen on the queenside, I am best off playing 10...Qc7 though White has an edge after 11.Re1.

11.h3

White covers g4, after which I think Black equalizes. If White wants to go on the offensive, he could try 11.Bf4 Be6 12.Qe2 Rd8 13.e5!? and White is generating a strong attack.

11...Be6 12.Ne3

As White I would make a bid to win the two Bishops by playing 12.Qe2 instead, though after 12…Nf6 Black is equal.

12...a5 13.Ng5 a4 14.Nd5 Bxd5 15.exd5

White has the pair of bishops now.

15...Nd4 16.Re1 c4?


16...Nf6!?= should be preferred. I have no justification for this attack and it ought to backfire since I am behind in development.

17.c3! bxc3 18.bxc3 Nf5 19.d4?

Better was 19.dxc4! Qxc4 20.Bf1 Qxc3 21.Qxa4+ Kf8 22.Rb1!! Tell me this isn’t an amazing position! White hangs everything, but gets a virtually winning position anyway due to the back rank threats. The pair of Bishops advantage needs open lines in order for it to come into effect.

19...Nf6 20.Ne4 0–0 21.Nxf6+ Bxf6 22.Ba3

Blocks the pawn on a4.

22...Rfc8

Or 22...Qa5 23.Qc2 and White retains an edge.

23.Qd2 Qe8 24.Bh1 Rb6

24...Qd7 intending …Re8 and …e6 is the other plan in the position. White keeps an edge in either case.

25.Re2

White decided to leave Black a completely open b-file in exchange for taking a half-open e-file. I think 25.Rab1 Rxb1 26.Rxb1 Rb8 27.Qc2 gives White an advantage because then White’s two Bishops advantage can come into play.

25...Rcb8 26.Be4 Qf8?

After making this move, I realized to my horror that I could lose a pawn. Best was 26...Qc8 27.Rae1 Ng7 28.g4 and White keeps a small edge, but Black should be able to weather the storm.

27.Rd1?

White considered trying to win the pawn with 27.g4 Nh4 28.g5 Bg7 29.Qf4 Nf5 30.Nxf5 gxf5 31.Qxf5, but felt that Black would be able to win the pawn on d5 back somehow, maybe with 31…Rb5 and 32…e6. It still seems the line worth trying to me. After the text move by White, I found some accurate liquidating moves, and managed to bring the game level.

27...Qh6 28.Qxh6 Nxh6 29.g4 Bh4 30.Bc1 Kg7 31.Kg2 Ng8 32.g5 h6 33.gxh6+ Nxh6 ½-½

A fair result for the last round in a mistake-filled game which was no doubt a result of a grueling day for both players. Nevertheless, I need to reassess my approach to defending against the King’s Indian Attack. I also need restrain myself in order to make less extravagant looking moves in middlegames (like 16…c4?) in favor of more standard plans.

Personal note. To my chagrin, I missed the second round of the Columbia Chess Club Championship last Thursday. I spent last week down hard for five days with bronchitis or a flu. I finally went to visit a doctor Saturday when I began to think I might have pnemonia. I didn't. The meds she gave me cleared up the problem right away. I am so grateful to have my health back! Why did I wait so long? Anyway, I am looking forward to a very competetive game this Thursday as I get back into action.

Follow-Up: On what to do about the King's Indian Attack. I made a database of KIA games starting from 1909 through the present day. I quickly played through a random selection of about 50 games, starting with the 1909 game, the Nimzowitsch game, and saw how modern GMs like Ivanchuk and Gelfand handle the system. My observation/conclusion: chances are 50/50 for either side - the statistics back that up - and there is no real approach that works most of the time that Black should consider. Uhlmann's Queenside expansion approach from the 1960s has no real reason to work because White's chances are just as good on the Kingside. There was one approach I saw that I sort of liked by Black and that was the Bishop to h3 backed by a Queen on d7 idea, trading off that g2-Bishop. Still, the games all seem like hand to hand fighting in any board sector, and few if any generalizations truly apply. I recommend just making logical moves as Black and keeping an open mind move by move for when the fighting begins.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Game 33: Lowry Grand Prix Series, Columbia Rd. 2

Lowry Grand Prix Series
C04: French Tarrasch: 3...Nc6
White: Dan Quigley (1802)
Black: Tim Rankin (2000)
Columbia, SC, Round 2, G/65, 5 sec. inc., Feb. 23, 2013

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.e5? Nxd4

How could I blunder a pawn this way? Most of my chess playing days I have played 3.Nc3 verus the French. Recently, I decided that move leaves White too open to having to play Black’s pet system, be it the Winawer, Classical, McCutcheon, or Rubinstein, and that I have more control over where the game is headed if I opt for 3.Nd2 lines. One major difference between the two lines that I had not learned an appreciation for until this game was that 3.Nd2 reduces White’s protection of d4. The other reason for the blunder is that I have not begun thinking tactically yet. All my thought was on strategy. 3…Nc6 slows down Black’s being able to play …c5. In order to play it, Black will have to move the Knight to a square not much better than the b8 square it started out on. What formation is …c5 most desired for? The pawn chain formation of the Advanced French. So, without checking tactics, I simply played 4.e5. After making this sort of mistake against an expert, little of my heart is left in this game, but I decided to see what I could do.

5.c3 Nc6 6.Ngf3 f6 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.exf6?

Not very enterprising of White. I should keep the central tension instead because it is in complications my best future prospects might lay for material recovery. Perhaps best was 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.0–0 Nh6 10.Qe2 though Black clearly has the preferable game.

8...Nxf6 9.0–0 Bd6 10.Re1 0–0 11.c4?!

Instead of looking for pawn levers, I should play to restrain Black from getting in …e5 and taking over the center. 11.Nb3 was best, though Black has plenty of good moves, starting with 11…Ne4 and a strong attack.

11...Nb4 12.Nd4

Desperately trying to complicate matters, but White has no better than accepting the simplification with 12.Bxd7 Qxd7 13.Qb3 a5 and Black is in command still. White’s game in the next few moves went from very disadvantageous to lost.

12...c6 13.Ba4 e5 14.N4f3 e4 15.Nxe4

My sacrifice here is unsound, but 15.cxd5 exf3 16.Nxf3 Nbxd5 17.Bb3 loses as well.

15...dxe4?

The less accurate move from Black I had been hoping for. A surer path to victory was 15...Nxe4 16.Be3 Bg4 17.cxd5 Rxf3 18.dxc6 Qh4 19.Qxd6 Nxd6 20.cxb7 Nxb7–+

16.Qxd6 Qa5!?

I had been expecting for 16…exf3 when after 17.Qxb4 I had hopes of finding good play in the complications. This better move threw me off.

17.Bb3?

Pure capitulation. Best was 17.Bd1!? exf3 18.Bd2 c5 19.Bxf3 and even though a piece down for a pawn, White having the two Bishops would be justified in playing on. The rest of the game needs no comment.

17...exf3 18.Bd2 c5 19.a3 Qa6 20.Qxc5 Nd3 21.Qe7 Rae8 22.c5+ Kh8 23.Qd6 Qxd6 0-1