TNM Round 4 Report
by Abel Talamantez
Kayven Riese drew with IM Elliott Winslow on board 1, creating a tie for 1st in the top section as now both Winslow and Adam Stafford are at 3.5/4. Riese is just a half point back at 3/4 with some other tough players which include Christophe Bambou and Daniel Wang.
In the bottom section, there are no perfect scores as Stephen Parsons won a nail-biting game against Romeo Barreyro. It was Parson's queen against Barreyro's rook and 2 pawns with one pawn on the 6th rank. Time pressure got the best of Barreyro, as he blundered what looked like a complicated position. 4 players now sit at the top with 3.5 including Parsons, Adam Mercado, Dean Guo and Samuel Agdamag.
We are half way through the marathon with still pleny of chess to play. Will the leaders hold on to their spots at the top? Or will we have an underdog make their push in the final rounds. We shall see!
FM Paul Whitehead was on fire with the commentary, in control at the office with GM Nick de Firmian remotely going through all the lines. Paul had his setup complete at the table to get him through the three and a half hour broadcast.
Earlier in the day, Paul, Judit, and I took a walk to North Beach with what I referred to as a "staff meeting." We cut through Chinatown and ended up at Cafe Greco, where we enjoyed lattes, cappuccino's and in my case, a ham and cheese croissant. Definitely stop there if you are ever in the area.
Here are some games from round 4, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.
(4) Riese,Kayven (1900) - Winslow,Elliott (2252) [B99]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (4.1), 23.11.2021
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.Bd3 h6 11.h4 [11.Bh4; 11.Qh3] 11...Nb6 Forgetting. This is the move against 11.Qh3, but less so here. Still, it's not horrible. [11...hxg5 12.hxg5 Rf8 13.gxf6 Bxf6 14.Nde2 Nc5 15.Kb1 Rb8 16.g4 b5 17.g5 Be7 18.Rdg1 Bb7 19.Rh7 g6 20.a3 Bc6 21.b4 Nxd3 22.Qxd3 d5 23.exd5 Rd8 24.Qe3 Bxd5 25.f5 exf5 26.Nf4 Bc4 27.Re1 Rd7 28.Qf3 Qb7 29.Qxb7 Rxb7 30.Ncd5 Bxd5 31.Nxd5 Kd8 32.Nf4 Rd7 33.Nd3 Rc7 34.Ne5 Bxg5 35.Rd1+ Kc8 36.Rd6 Rd8 37.Rxa6 Rd1+ 38.Ka2 Kb7 39.Ra5 Kb6 40.a4 0-1 (40) Silman,J (2370)-Tarjan, J (2525) Lone Pine 1979 MCL [ChessBase]; Authors, especially David Vigorito in his fairly recent Najdorf book, give 11...Nc5! as best; 12.f5 hxg5 13.hxg5 Rxh1 14.Rxh1 Ng8!=] 12.f5
[12...hxg5 13.hxg5 Rf8= acc. to SF14.1.] 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nde2 Bd7 15.Ng3!N
[15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 e4 17.Qxe4+ Kd8 18.g4 Re8 19.Qg2 Qb6 20.c3 Qe3+ 21.Rd2 Bb5 22.Rh3 Qe7 23.Bxb5 axb5 24.a3 Bxh4 25.Kb1 Bg5 26.Rc2 Qc7 27.Rh1 Qc4 28.Rd1 Rxa3 29.Nc1 Ra4 30.Rd4 Qc5 31.Nd3 Qa7 32.Rxa4 Qxa4 33.Qg1 Qc4 34.Nb4 Kc7 35.Rg2 Bh4 36.Kc2 Qe4+ 37.Kb3 Qc4+ 38.Kc2 Qe4+ 39.Kb3 Ra8 40.Qh2 Bg5 41.Rg1 Re8 0-1 (41) Paehtz,T (2475)-Ftacnik,L (2610) Vienna 1996; 15.g4] 15...0-0-0 16.Nh5 Bc6?!
[16...Qc5! 17.Nxf6 gxf6 18.Be2 Bc6+/=] 17.Be2 Kb8
[17...d5!? 18.Nxf6 gxf6 19.exd5 e4 20.Qxe4 Rhe8 21.Qg4 Nxd5 22.Nxd5 Bxd5 23.Bf3+/-] 18.Nd5?
[18.Nxf6 gxf6 19.Rd2+- says Stockfish 14.1!; Also 18.Rd2+-] 18...Bxd5 19.exd5
In the commentary Paul Whitehead noted at some point the players were moving quickly, and while Black was long out of his opening knowledge, this pawn sacrifice is right out of the Sicilian bag o' tricks. That bishop comes alive and wreaks havoc. 20.Qb3! Be5! 21.a4?
[21.Ng3 Rhe8! is still into the "win zone," but the move played is much worse.] 21...Rhe8
[21...Rc8! 22.Rh3 Qc5!-+] 22.a5?!
[22.Rhf1 Qc5 23.f6 g6 24.Nf4 with thoughts of a knight sac on e6!? (but still -+ over -4)] 22...Nd7 23.Qa3
[23.Bxa6?? Nc5] 23...Rc8 24.c4 g6
[24...Nc5 is certainly better,; but surprisingly 24...b5! gets the highest marks.] 25.fxg6 fxg6 26.Ng3
Black cheapens his game. [26...Nc5! 27.Kb1 (27.b4? Nd3+ 28.Bxd3 exd3 29.Qxd3 Qxc4+ 30.Qxc4 Rxc4+ 31.Kd2 Bxg3
27...Nd3! (anyway) 28.Bxd3 exd3 29.Qxd3 Qxc4 30.Qxc4 Rxc4 31.Rhe1 Rf8 32.Ne4 Rf4 White drops a lot of pawns while his own are comfy.] 27.Qxg3 Ne5?!
From big win to "just" clear advantage. [27...e3! 28.Kb1 Nc5 29.Bg4 Rcd8 30.Rhe1 Re4! 31.Rxe3 Rxc4-+ takes White's king position apart little by little.] 28.Kb1?
[28.Rd4! Qxa5 29.Kb1 Black is still clearly better (good knight vs. bad bishop!), but White is putting up a fight.] 28...Qxa5?
Clearly the wrong pawn! [28...Nxc4! 29.Bxc4 Qxc4 30.Qxd6+ Ka8 when White has evened the material balance but is quite lost. 31.Rc1 (31.Qxg6?! Qc2+ 32.Ka2 Qa4+ 33.Kb1 Rc5 34.Rc1 Rxa5 35.Rc3 Qa2+ 36.Kc2 Rd8-+
White's king is more and more an object of attack.)
31...Qd3+ 32.Ka1 Rcd8 The d-pawn falls, when the center passed pawns march victorious.] 29.Rc1?
[29.Rd4! is still advantage Black, but removing the e-pawn goes a long way to keeping White alive. 29...e3!? 30.Rc1! (30.Qxe3?? Nxc4 31.Qd3 Nxb2! 32.Kxb2 Rxe2+! 33.Qxe2 Qb6+ 34.Ka2 Qxd4
and the "relative king safety" issue has been decided.)
30...Qc5 31.Re4! b5! keeps a clear advantage, although the price of winning that pawn on c4 is a weakened king position this time for Black, too.] 29...Qc5 30.Rhf1 Rf8 31.Rf4!
The f-file is the new "hot property." 31...b5??
In other positions this was the retort that woke up the neighbors; here it's a hard blunder. [31...Rxf4 32.Qxf4 h5 33.Qxe4 and **now** 33...b5! takes over. 34.b3 a5!? In any case, Black is way better, probably will win.] 32.Rxe4??
The players have trouble getting their bearings in a turbulent position. [32.Rxf8 Rxf8 33.cxb5 and it is White who is winning! 33...Qb6 34.bxa6 and whose king is more exposed now?] 32...b4?!
Black forgot that nothing is secure any more. [32...Ka7! would sidestep the worst: 33.Rxe5 dxe5 34.Qxg6 Rf2 35.Rc2-/+] 33.Rxe5!
"The Jackal Bites!" (Early computer game reference.) 33...dxe5 34.Qxg6?!
[34.Qxe5+! Ka7 35.Bf3 when Black is still better! But it's no longer going to be easy, not at all.] 34...Rf2 35.Bf3
[35...b3!=/+ was Black's last chance to make something of his extra Exchange. 36.Qd3 (36.Qxa6? Rc2!! 37.Rxc2 bxc2+ 38.Kxc2 Qxc4+ 39.Qxc4 Rxc4+ 40.Kd3 Rxh4-+)
36...Qd4! 37.Qxb3+ Ka7 38.Rd1 Rb8! 39.Qxb8+ Kxb8 40.Rxd4 exd4=/+ and still White must tread more carefully.] 36.Qd6+
Both players see the unavoidable repetition coming. 36...Rc7 37.Qd8+ Rc8 38.Qd6+ Rc7 39.Qd8+ Rc8
Plenty of missed opportunities by both sides, this was an instructive battle. 1/2-1/2
(5) Argo,Guy (1884) - Stafford,Adam (1745) [C33]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (4.2), 23.11.2021
1.e4 e5 2.f4 The King's Gambit is unexpectedly popular in Mechanics' tournament, some players even to be counted on to play it. To say it has stood the test of time would be fair; considering it an unclear mess wouldn't be so far off, either. 2...exf4 3.Bc4 The older move, heralding the romantic times from the early 1800s. [3.Nf3 is five times as popular as the text, but scores about the same (5-4).] 3...Qh4+ The principled move, in that White's king loses the castling privilege, but it might not be worth it. [3...Nf6 is a different sort of correct,; as is 3...d5] 4.Kf1 d6 5.Nc3 c6 [5...Be6 (most common); 5...Nf6!? 6.Nf3 Qh6=/+] 6.Nf3 [6.d4=] 6...Qh6!=/+ 7.d4
The players were moving quickly, suggesting Stafford knew what to expect from King's Gambit addict Guy. [Previously played was 7...Nf6 8.Qe2 (8.Ne2!? Nh5 9.Rg1 g5 10.g3 Be6=)
10.Bxe3 fxe3 11.Nd1+/= Be7 12.Nxe3 0-0 13.Rf1 (13.h4; 13.c3)
13...Na6 White is better but 0-1 (67) Burovic,I (2321)-Strinic,H (2113) Sarajevo 2018 (13...c5)
[8.Qd3+/=] 8...Nd7=/+ 9.Qd3
[9.h3 Bh5 10.g4 fxg3+ 11.Kg2 g5!? is the 21st Century move (i.e. Stockfish 14.1); Black relies on the pin.] 9...0-0-0!-/+ 10.Bxf7 Ngf6
[>=10...Be7] 11.h3 Be7 12.Rf1
[White may prefer >=12.Kg1 Bxf3 13.Qxf3] 12...Bh5
[Now good is >=12...Rhf8! ...Bxf3 is the strong threat. 13.Bc4 Bh5] 13.Be6 Kb8
More urgent was [13...Bxf3-/+ 14.Qxf3 g5] 14.Kg1 g5
[14...Bxf3= 15.Rxf3 (15.Qxf3 g5=)
This fine move clarifies the kingside pawn structure. 15...gxh4
[15...g4? 16.Bxf4! Qxf4? (16...Qg7)
17.Ng5 trapping the queen!] 16.Nh2
[16.Nxh4+/= keeps the upper hand. 16...Nxe4 17.Nf5 (17.Qxe4 Bxh4 18.Bxf4 Bg5=)
17...Qxe6 18.Qxe4 Qxe4 19.Nxe4 is typical King's Gambit play in the modern world: White finally develops, recovers the pawn, and assumes a central strength.] 16...Qg7
Perhaps one of [16...Ne8!?=/+ 17.Qh3 Nf8; or even 16...Ne5!? 17.Bxf4 (17.dxe5?! dxe5 18.Qh3 Rhe8-/+
does quite well for a piece.)
17...Qxf4 18.Rxf4 Nxd3 19.cxd3 Bg6=/+] 17.Bxf4
It all remains typically confusing. The good news for Stafford came from a different direction: Argo had been taking significantly more time. 17...Nf8=
[Worse is 17...Rhg8 18.Bxg8 Rxg8 19.Qh3+/-; Black should try 17...Be8=/+] 18.Bh3 Ng6 19.Be3 Rhg8 20.Rf5
[20...Nf8 is more natural, but might run into 21.d5 (21.Raf1)
21...c5 22.e5] 21.Bg5?
This move loses the game for White. [21.Raf1= and White is okay.; Here also 21.d5 c5 and now 22.b4! takes aim at Black's king. 22...Ng4! (22...cxb4 23.Bxa7+!+-)
23.bxc5 (23.Rxh5 Nxe3 24.Qxe3 cxb4)
23...Nxe3 24.Qxe3 Bg5=] 21...Bg6!-+
22.Rxf6? This leaves White simply down the exchange and makes it easy for Black. [22.Rff1 was worth a try.] 22...Bxf6 23.Bxf6 Qxf6 24.Ng4 Qe7 Black is clearly winning. Argo tries to trip Stafford up, unsuccessfully. 25.Qd2 Rgf8 26.Re1 Nf7 27.Nf2 Qg5 28.Qe2 Rde8 29.Qc4 d5 30.Qb4 Qe7 31.Qb3 dxe4 32.d5 cxd5 33.Nxd5 Qc5 34.Ne3 Nd6 35.Nfd1 Bf7 36.c4 Bxc4 37.Qc2 Qb6 38.b3 Bd3 39.Qb2 Nb5 40.Qe5+? Rxe5 Just your usual King's Gambit: irrational, difficult to make plans, the objective nature of advantage slipped back and forth. Well done by Stafford, another developing youth at the Mechanics'. 0-1
(1) Mahooti,James - Askin,David [D23]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qb3 A fair move to be ready to recapture the c-pawn, but Black can equalize against this. 4...dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bf5 6.e3 [6.g3 a la Catalan is to be considered] 6...e6 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.0-0 h6 9.Nc3 Be7 10.Bd2 0-0 Both sides have the minor pieces developed and are castled. The game is even. 11.Rfd1? oops! There is a tactical problem here. 11...a5? [11...Bc2! wins the exchange since 12.Rdc1? Nb6 traps the queen] 12.a3 Nb6 13.Qa2 Back to even 13...Re8 14.Ne5 Bd6 15.Bd3? The wrong way to trade off pieces. 15...Bxe5 16.Bxf5
Black wins a pawn and weakens the white king's protection. 17.Kxh2 exf5 18.Rh1
James brings a defended to the kingside. A good practical choice. 18...Ne4 19.Be1 Qc7+ 20.Kg1 f4 21.Rh3?!
[21.exf4 Qxf4 22.Rd1 keeps the disadvantage to one pawn] 21...Ng5 22.Rh5 fxe3 23.fxe3 Rxe3 24.Bf2 Re6 25.Qb1 Rae8
The game has been very well played by David. In the broadcast we were watching this game and Mike Walder commented that David is a strong attacked when given the chance. 26.Qd3 Qd7 27.Rf1 Rf6 28.Rd1 Nd5
Excellent, bringing every piece into play. The attack is building. 29.Rh4 Nf4 30.Qd2
David hits directly with both knights, both rooks and the queen. This is an instructive finish. 31.gxh3 Nxh3+ 32.Rxh3 Qxh3 33.Ne2
Using the other rook to remove a last defender of the king. White resigned as 34. Qxe2 Rg6+ is mate in 4. James commented he had a bad day at the office, but David had an inspired day. 0-1
(2) Barreyro,Romeo - Parsons,Stephen [B30]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bd3 Romeo goes his own way in the opening. 4...d5 5.Nxd4 cxd4 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Qxd7 8.e5?! This is a pawn sacrifice. 8. exd5 or 8. d3 keeps material even. 8...Qf5 9.0-0 Qxe5 10.Re1 [10.c3! Opens up the d1-a4 diagonal and should be more play for the pawn.] 10...Qd6 11.d3 Nf6 12.Qf3 e6 13.Bf4 Qb4 14.Nd2! Getting all the pieces developed. 14...Be7 15.Nb3 Nd7 [15...Rc8!] 16.Qg4! Bf6 17.Bg5
White is using the lead in development to cause trouble before Black has a safe spot for the king. 17...h5
[17...Bxg5 18.Qxg5 0-0 is safer] 18.Qh4 e5?!
this is risky with the black king still in the center 19.c3
[19.Bxf6! gxf6 20.c3 Gives White a clear advantage.] 19...Bxg5 20.Qxg5 dxc3 21.bxc3
[21...Qg4!] 22.Qxg7 0-0-0 23.Qg3 f5 24.Qe3 Kb8 25.Nd4
[Decent alternatives are 25.Rab1 or; 25.Qf3 Qd6 26.Qxf5 h4 which wins a pawn but loses some time from the attack] 25...Qf6 26.Nb5 b6 27.a4?!
[27.d4 f4 28.dxe5 fxe3 29.exf6 exf2+ 30.Kxf2 Nxf6 is an even endgame] 27...f4! 28.Qf3 Nc5 29.Qe2 e4
The black pawns take kingside space and offer many attacking possibilities. 30.dxe4 dxe4 31.Nd4 Rhg8 32.Qxh5?!
This is active, yet safer was [32.f3 h4 33.h3 Rg3] 32...Rg5! 33.Qd1?
[33.Qh7 is needed. It doesn't lose the queen since 33...Rh8 34.Nc6+ Kc8 35.Nxa7+ Kb8 36.Nc6+ is a draw] 33...Rd7?!
[Black could breakthrough with 33...Rdg8! 34.g3 fxg3 35.fxg3 Rxg3+!] 34.a5 f3 35.g3 Qh6 36.axb6 Qh3?
looks winning, but there is a flaw 37.bxa7+ Ka8
[White must get rid of the terrible black pawn on f3. There is a great way to do it though - 38.Qxf3! wins, since 38...exf3 39.Re8+ lets the a-pawn queen with check and a quick mate] 38...Rxd1 39.Nxg5 Rxe1+ 40.Rxe1 Qf5 41.h4
Black will have a queen for a rook and three pawns. The question is if White can make some kind of fortress to draw the game. 41...Kxa7?!
[41...Nd3 42.Re2 e3! breaks up the white pawns] 42.Re3 Kb6 43.Kg2 Kc6 44.f3?!
Better to just sit and wait. If the black knight moves to d3 the white knight takes on e4 to guard f2. 44...exf3+ 45.Nxf3 Qc2+ 46.Kh3 Qc1 47.Nd4+ Kd5 48.Rf3 Nd7 49.Rf2 Ne5 50.Nf3 Nc4 51.Nh2 Qxc3 52.Ng4 Qe1 53.h5
Romeo correctly decides not to wait any longer and get the h-pawn closer to the queening square. 53...Nd6 54.h6 Ne4?!
[54...Qh1+ 55.Nh2 Qe4 has good winning chances] 55.Nf6+!
exchanging the black knight helps the defense 55...Nxf6 56.Rxf6 Ke5 57.Rb6! Qh1+ 58.Kg4 Qd1+ 59.Kh3 Qd7+ 60.Kg2 Kf5?!
[Here White could have gotten a fortress with 61.h7! Qxh7 62.Rb4 Qd7 63.Rf4+
and the black king cannot cross the 4rth rank to help the queen. With the white pawn on g3 this is a known draw as there is not enough room on the first two ranks for the queen to cause trouble by itself. (The position is winning for Black if the white pawn were on g4 instead.)] 61...Qc6+ 62.Kg1?
62. Kh2 would hold out a lot longer but it would be theorectically lost anyway 62...Qc1+ 63.Kg2 Qxb2+ 64.Kh3 Kg6
An epic and highly interesting battle. 0-1
(3) Bambou,Christophe - Makhanov,Gaziz [C48]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Safe and solid. This heads for the Four Knights' Game or a variant/ 3...Nf6 4.Bb5 Bc5!? 5.0-0 [5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 Is a slight edge for White in this opening.] 5...d6 6.d4 exd4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Nf5!?
A nice aggressive move that can confuse the opponent. 8...0-0 9.Bg5 a6 10.Ba4 Be6
[10...h6 11.Bh4 Kh7 is to be considered] 11.Kh1 Rb8?!
This doesn't deal with the central issues and gives White the opening edge. 12.f4! Bxf5 13.exf5 d5!
This gives up a pawn but deals with the defensive problems. White is better in any case. 14.Bxf6 Qxf6 15.Qxd5 Ba7 16.Ne4 Qxb2?!
This is greedy when you are in trouble. 16...Qh6 keeps the queen in a defensive position. 17.f6
17...Rbd8? Black needed to go 17...h6. He forgot about White's powerful threat. 18.Qg5 Black resigned. 18...g6 19. Qh6 1-0
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: 1800+
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Under1800
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Extra Games
Tony is back and ready to challenge you to solve this mate in 3
Mechanics' Institute Events Schedule
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Guthrie McClain Memorial Championship. December 4, 10AM. 4SS G/45;d5: https://mechanics-institute.jumbula.com/Tournaments2021/McClainMemorialChampionshipG45InPerson
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Scholastic Chess Bulletin
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Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Chess Bulletin
Scholastic Chess Bulletin #7 is out!
In this issue:
Monthly Scholastic In-Person Tournament - 2021 November Report
Mechanics' Institute Thanksgiving Gobbler Kids - Friday, November 26 @ 9:30AM
Chess Enrichment Highlight: Alice Fong Alternative School
Upcoming Chess Camps
Why I like Quads by Andrew Ballantyne
Understanding Tournaments: Moves, moves, moves
Upcoming Tournament Schedule
Tournament Results & Featured Games analyzed by GM Nick de Firmian
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FM Paul Whitehead
Problems in the Opening, Part Two
Putting together an opening repertoire is not easy under any circumstances, and even more difficult when you try to avoid the problem altogether. We must steer our way through the opening, and avoiding the “question” of the opening is impossible. Last week’s article should have made that terribly clear.
In my chess-playing years I tried to simplify the problem of the opening by making myself a few guidelines, and maybe this can be helpful for others trying to navigate the openings:
1. Know yourself. Play openings you feel lead to positions you like, feel comfortable with, and want to play. Just because your friends or the books say the Gruenfeld Defense is great doesn’t mean you have to like it. Try to develop a style, question authority and play your own game.
2. Steal ideas and openings from other players. Did you like the way Tal blew his opponent away with the Benoni? You too can play the Benoni! Emulating the repertoire of great players is a time-honored way of getting ahead. A whole generation of American chess masters used the Najdorf and opened with 1.e4 after Fischer won the World Championship in 1972. Now they follow Carlsen and trot out the London System.
3. Specialize, and use cunning move orders to get your kind of game. There’s a whole bag of tricks out there to sidestep your opponent’s favorite lines. Playing someone that knows the Dragon Variation like the back of their hand? Trip them up with 3.Bb5+ or prepare an obscure line like the Levenfish Attack. The possibilities are truly endless for the creative player trying to steer the opening their way.
In the 1970’s I frequently used the Advance Variation against the Caro-Kann, brought into a brief popularity by Tal in the return match against Botvinnik in 1961. Now it’s used just as often as 3.Nc3, but back then it was used hardly at all. The appeal to me was threefold: it was complicated, it was sure to be a surprise, and it might lead to fascinating positions. Like the one after the eight move.
Whitehead – Erlingsson, Lone Pine 1978.
My opponent was a master from Iceland, and this game was played a few rounds after my fiasco against Balinas, detailed in the last Newsletter. 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h6. Nowadays 4…h5 is preferred, not giving ground. 4…e6? is natural and bad, losing a piece after 5.g4! etc. 5.g4 Bc8!? (5…Bh7?! is met by the pawn sacrifice 6.e6! but 5…Bd7 instead looks natural.) 6.h5 e6 7.c3 b6 8.f4.
Now I visualized the continuation 8…c5 9.a3 Nc6 10.b4! and white has made 10 pawn moves in a row, without a single piece developed. And he has the advantage! 8…Ba6 9.Bxa6 Nxa6 10.Qd3 Nc7 11.Nf3 Qd7 12.Be3 c5 13.a4 a6 14.Nbd2.
White has emerged from the opening with a nice space advantage. A build up to break with pawn f5 ensues. 14…c4 15.Qc2 Ne7 16.Nh4 Nc6 17.Ndf3 Na5 18.f5 0-0-0 19.Ke2 Nb3 20.Ra2. A temporary inconvenience. 20…Be7 21.Ng2 Kb7 22.Nf4. A complex middle-game position which black doesn’t quite get the hang of. 22…Qc8 23.Rf1 Rhf8 24.Nd2 Nxd2 25.Bxd2 Bg5 26.Raa1 Bxf4 27.Bxf4 exf5. These exchanges do little to alleviate the pressure. 28.gxf5 Rde8 29.Kd2 g5?! 30.Bg3. Taking on g6 was also good. 30…Na8? Senseless. 31.Rae1 Qd7 32.e6!
The decisive breakthrough. 32…fxe6 33.fxe6 Qe7 34.Qg6 Rxf1 35.Rxf1 Qxe6 36.Rf7+ Kc8 37.Qxe6+ Rxe6 38.Ra7 1-0.
I can’t say I was always successful with my approach – it clearly has its limitations, and the obvious one is that, in a sense, I was dancing around and trying to avoid direct confrontation.
But for me playing your own game is what chess is all about.
Nick de Firmian’s Column
Nepo’s Greatest Hits
The World Championship match is about to begin in Dubai. Everyone in the world knows about Magnus, perhaps the greatest champion to play the game. The previous challenger, Fabiano Caruana, has also become quite famous here in America. Yet the current challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi (more fondly known as Nepo) is not yet so famous here as he is in his native Russia.
We take this opportunity to introduce readers to the fantastic, active play of Nepo. He well deserves the challenger’s spot due to his victory in the Candidates Tournament and his close battles with Magnus. What is special for the spectators is that Nepo loves the dynamic, creative moves which take the game to the edge. We can only hope he remains true to his style in the World Championship match and then we will have a thriller instead of the close to the vest strategy of the last two championship matches. Below is a sample of Nepo’s games, where the key moves are surprising puzzle like creations the readers should thoroughly enjoy.
(1) Ian Nepomniachtchi (2749) - Li Chao (2720) [C42]
Sharjah UAE Sharjah UAE (6.6), 24.02.2017
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Bf5 12.Bg5 Qc7 13.Re1 h6
This amazing aggressive play gets White some edge. 14...Bh7 15.Bxh6! Bxh2+
[15...gxh6 16.Qg4+ Kh8 17.Nf5 Rg8 (17...Bg6 18.Qh4 Bxf5 19.Qf6+ Kg8 20.Qxf5)
18.Re8!] 16.Kh1 Bf4?
[16...gxh6 17.Qg4+ Kh8 18.Nf5 Bxf5 19.Qxf5 Qf4 20.Qh3 was needed even though White is better] 17.Bxg7!
17...Kxg7 18.Qg4+ Kh8 19.Nf5 Bxf5
[19...Rg8? 20.Re8] 20.Qxf5 Qd6 21.g3
White is a piece down but has a winning attack. 21...Bh6 22.Kg2 b5 23.Bb3 Qg6 24.Qxg6 fxg6 25.Re7!
The attack is decisive even in the endgame. 25...g5 26.Re6 Kg7 27.Rh1 Rh8 28.Re7+ Kg6 29.Bc2+ 1-0
(2) Ian Nepomniachtchi (2624) - Aleksandr Alekseevich Kharito (2524) [B14]
Dagomys Dagomys (1), 04.04.2009
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Bd3 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.a3 Bf6 12.Qc2 g6 13.Bh6 Re8 14.Rad1 Nce7 15.Ne4 Bg7 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Rfe1
White has a slight edge from the opening with a well developed game. 17...Nf5 18.Nc3 Nfe7 19.Ne5 b6 20.Qd2 Bb7 21.Ne4 Rf8 22.Ng5 Nc7?
retreating gives White extra time for the attack 23.Rc1 Ned5 24.Be4 Qd6
White to move and win 25.Ngxf7! Rxf7
the blow that destroys the black positon 26...Kg8
[26...Kxh6 27.Nxf7+ Kg7 28.Nxd6 is finished] 27.Nxf7 Kxf7
simplifying to an easily winning ending 28...Qxc7
[28...Nxc7 29.Qxh7+ Ke8 30.Bxb7] 29.Bxd5 Kg8
[29...Bxd5 30.Qxh7+ Kf6 31.Qxc7] 30.Bxe6+ Kh8
Black could resign here. 31.d5 Qc2 32.Qc1 Qxc1 33.Rxc1 Rd8 34.f4 Rd6 35.Rd1 Kg7 36.Kf2 Kf6 37.Ke3 Rd8 38.Kd4 Bc8 39.Re1 h5 40.g3 Re8 41.h3 Rh8 42.g4 hxg4 43.hxg4 Bxe6 44.Rxe6+ Kf7 45.Re2 Rh1 46.d6 Rd1+ 47.Ke5 a5 48.Rc2 1-0
(3) Nepomniachtchi,Ian - Sjugirov,Sanan [C42]
Russian Team Chp. Sharjah UAE (6), 24.02.2016
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 Be7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3 Ng5 Black would probably do better with 7....d5 8.Nc3 Bg4? 8...Nsf3+ was needed. This meets a shocking response 9.Bxg5 Bxg5
What's this? It's the classic bishop sacrifice on h7, but it doesn't work does it? 10...Kxh7
Now 11. Nxg5+ Qxg5 is simply winning for Black. Did White blunder? 11.h4!!
An amazing move that wins back the piece with the extra pawn. 11...Bd2+
[11...Bxf3 12.hxg5+ Kg8 13.Qxf3; 11...Bf6 12.Ng5+ Bxg5 13.hxg5+ Kg8 14.Qxg4] 12.Qxd2 Re8+ 13.Kf1 Bxf3 14.Qd3+!
Avoiding the doubled pawns. 14...Kg8 15.Qxf3 Nd7 16.Rd1 Qf6 17.Qxf6 Nxf6 18.f3
Nepo is a pawn up and efficiently converts the advantage to a win. 18...d5 19.c5 b6 20.cxb6 axb6 21.Kf2 b5 22.a3 b4 23.axb4 Rab8 24.b5 c6 25.Rhe1 cxb5 26.Rxe8+ Rxe8 27.Rc1 Ra8 28.Nxb5 Ra4 29.Rc8+ Kh7 30.g4 Rb4 31.Nd6! Rxd4 32.Kg3
Black resigns as f7 goes (32...Kg6 33. h5+ 1-0
(4) Ian Nepomniachtchi (2792) - Levon Aronian (2781) [A13]
Paris FRA Paris FRA (5.5), 19.06.2021
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxc4 c5 7.Ne5 Qc8 8.b3 Nc6 9.Nxd7 Qxd7 10.Bb2 Be7 11.0-0 Rc8 12.Rd1 0-0 13.Nc3 a6 14.Rac1 b5 15.Qf4 h6 16.d3 Rfd8 17.Qd2 Qa7 18.e3 Qb6 19.Qe2 Nb4 20.a3 Nbd5 21.Nxd5 Nxd5 22.d4 White has just a small edge from the opening with the bishop pair. 22...Nf6?! [22...cxd4] 23.dxc5 Rxd1+ 24.Rxd1 Bxc5 25.Bxf6! gxf6 26.Qh5 Bxa3?! 27.Rd7 Rf8
28.Be4 f5 29.Qxh6! fxe4?
30.Rd5! Black is toast. 30...Qxe3 Aronian must lose the queen in any cast to stop mate. The endgame is easily winning for White. 31.Qxe3 exd5 32.Qg5+ Kh8 33.Qxd5 f5 34.Qd4+ Kg8 35.b4 Bc1 36.Qb6 Rf7 37.Qxa6 e3 38.Qc8+ 1-0
Solution to Tony's Teaser
1. Qb7 Qxe5 2. Rxa2+ Bxa2 3. Nc2#
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