Friday, April 24, 2009

Game From the Closed

At least it was easy to pick a game to annotate for you guys, since I only won one game. After this game, Matt admitted to me that he had no idea how to play against this variation, so it was fortunate for me that I have played a few games with it and understand some of the basic ideas.

Madison - Anzis
2009 Iowa Closed Championship, Round 3

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Bd6 6. Qc2 Nbd7 7. g4!?

We have now reached my favorite variation in all of chess. Utter chaos usually develops.

7. ...b6?

The usual moves for black include 7. ...h6 and 7. ...Nxg4 8. Rg1 Qf6! 9. Rxg4 Qxf3 10. Rxg7=

8. g5! +/-

White already gets a large advantage due to the early g5.

8. ...Ng8 9. Bd2 Ne7 10. e4!?

About time for a diagram. We are more or less into the middlegame, and it is clear that this will be an uphill battle for black. White has a large space advantage on the kingside, more active pieces, and a small lead in development. What black has going for him right now is a lack of targets for white to attack. The unfortunate thing for black, however, is that in order to develop their pieces, he will have to create weaknesses.

10. ...Bb7 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. e5! Bb8 13. Bd3 a6 14. b4

Black is getting pushed around at white's whim. b4 threatens to play 15. b5!, which will permanently lock out the black bishops.

14. ...b5! 15. a4 bxa4 16. Nxa4 Ba7 17. Nc5 Bxc5 18. bxc5

We have a rare instance here of white being in control of all three parts of the board. Despite the closed center, the white bishops have enough space to be dangerous. It is already very difficult to come up with a way for black to wriggle out of this bind.

18. ...Nc6 19. Bxh7

May as well take it while it is there for the taking.

19. ...a5

It seems that 19. ...Qe7!? was a better alternative, as it forces the white bishop to retreat (else ...g6 will be much stronger), which in turn gives black some counterplay via ...Rh3.

20. h4!+-

Prevents the ...Rh3 idea, starts a pawn storm, and ensures that the black king will not be safe anywhere.

20. ...Qe7 21. Bd3 0-0 22. h5 Nxd4!?

Mixing it up. This is a move a computer will say is terrible, but it forces white to play more accurately or the tables could turn at any moment.

23. Bh7+

Fixing the black king on h8 for the coming attack.

23. ...Kh8 24. Nxd4 Nxe5 25. g6!?

The threats that are coming should be fairly obvious. A nice, blunt h6, hxg7+, Bh6+, and g7# if black did nothing. Black does have a ray of hope if the f-file could get opened quickly.

25. ...Ba6 26. Rh3 Qf6! 27. h6! Ng4 28. hxg7+ Kxg7

And now since Bh6+ is not available, the black counterattack is getting organized, and the white king is looking a little drafty on e1...

29. 0-0-0!

Easily the most useful case of castling I have had. Suddenly, the black pieces that looked dangerous are swinging at air. Of course, ...Qxd4 loses to Bc3 or Bh6+, the knight is stuck on g4 to stop Bh6+, and white can gradually build up pressure near the black king until the breaking point of the king's guard.

29. ...Nxf2?

Just brings about the end faster, but the position is lost in any case.

30. Bh6+ Kh8 31. g7+

And black resigned due to the loss of the queen and inevitable loss of king.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Closed Results

Every once in a while you play in a tournament and never really get off of the ground. Unfortunately, this was one of those tournaments for me. I scored 1.0/5.0, which wasn't so bad in itself, but I was playing atrociously. In 3 of my 5 games, I simply dropped material for no reason. On move 11 of round 1, I got so far ahead of myself that I missed a simple knight fork that instantly gave me a losing position. Needless to say, I just never mentally got into the tournament, and it cost me dearly. I did manage to win one game, in quite possibly the best use of castling I have ever had.

I will have an annotated game for you by the end of the week. I would have had it done today, except I am exhausted from both the tournament and having to stay up until 4:30 this morning doing homework.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Iowa Closed Championship Preview

Hello fellow woodpushers. A few points of interest coming up:

-I just got a new laptop, and am in the process of moving my chess files over, so I will likely not have an update on here until next week.

-The Iowa Closed, which I qualified for will be held this coming weekend in Marshalltown. More specific details can be found at the IASCA site. Here is a preview of what I think the tournament situation will be:

Round 1: White vs. Bob Keating
This is an important game to get on the scoreboard with to set the tempo for the tournament. I have won my last 2 games with white against Keating, but he is a tough player to beat. As long as I don't get too anxious from this being the first round, this should be a good game.

Round 2: Black vs. Pete Karagianis
I have yet to score with black against Pete, but the last time we played I did manage to win a piece with white while Pete was in time pressure although I did lose the game in the ending. The main focus of this game will be to see if all of my recent training will make me competitive against master level players.

Round 3: White vs. Matt Anzis
This will probably be the defining game of the tournament for me. I am currently +1 against Matt overall, but he has recently shown incredible skill development and could be out of reach soon for almost any of us.

Round 4: Black against ???
I still don't know who the 6th player is, so I can't say much about this game.

Round 5: White vs. Tim Mc Entee
This game will either be very long and interesting or very short and boring varying on the course that the tournament has taken. In previous years, if a draw would clinch at least a share of 1st for Tim, he has offered draws, which would not be unexpected here if he were in such a position. However, depending on my own results, there may even be room for me to play the game out for a shot at 1st myself.

Of the 5 currently known players, I am the lowest rated, but I believe given the correct mindset I could win any game in this tournament. My goal is to emerge with 3.0/5.0 or better, but I would gladly take a higher amount. Following the tournament I will provide some sort of tournament report on either Monday or Tuesday.

So everybody, wish me luck!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recent Tactics

Hello again chess enthusiasts. Today I will provide you with some tactics from some of my recent online games. Don't worry, these ones are not too difficult. Enjoy, and remember to not look at the solutions (below the last problem) until you think you have the position done.

#1: Difficulty: Medium

#2: Difficulty: Idea: Easy, Continuation: Medium

#3: Difficulty: Easy


#1: 1. ...Qxg3!! is crushing. 2. Nxd4 (taking the queen loses a piece to 2. ...Nxb3) Qxf2+ 3. Kh1 Qxd4 4. Rad1 Nc5! 5. Qc2 (taking the queen still loses a piece) Bf5! 6. Qxf5 (finally white cracks) Rxf5 and white resigned.

#2: 1. Re8+! wins a queen for a rook and bishop. This is all you really had to see, but the conclusion is instructive as well. 1. ...Rxe8 2. Qxd3 gxf6 3. Qf5! Bg6 4. Qxf6 Re6 5. Qg5 with the eternal threat of f5, and in some lines f5-f6 with mates, black played 4 more moves before resigning with 5. ...h6 6. Qxh6 Be4 7. Qh3 Rd8 8. f5! Red6 9. Qg4+ picking up the bishop.

#3: 1. Rxd6+! Pretty straightforward from here. 1. ...Kxd6 2. Bf4+ Kc5 3. Qe3+ Qd4 4. Rc1+ Kb6 5. Qxd4+ Ka5 and black resigned before 6. Bc7# showed up on the board.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interesting Correspondence Game

Here is a recently completed game I played on in an exhibition team match U.S. North-Central vs. SE Asia. I hope you enjoy the annotations. Please comment on this game, particularly the exchange sacrifice, as it was quite speculative.

MrMash(2046) - bobadillamitchelle(2045)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d5

Slightly unusual, but perfectly playable.

3. cxd5 Nxd5 4. e4 Nf6 5. Nc3

Much better than the obvious 5. e5?! when the white pawns will be hard to justify once black gets in ...c5.

5. ...e6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Bd3 h6 8. 0-0 b6!?

An interesting plan. ...b6 prepares the ...c5 break, enables smooth development, and makes white play a little more cautiously. Another alternative was an immediate ...c5 break, but it seems white gets the better of that. Castling is a safer alternative, although ...b6 would likely be played in this system anyway.

9. e5?!

Does not accomplish what I wanted it to. Ideally, there would be an immediate attack on the king after e5, but since it it not castled, there is no such attack. This just leaves both the d4 pawn and d5 square weak.

9. ...Nd5 10. Ne4 Bb7 11. Be3!?

Since it doesn't look like this bishop will get much use in this game, I invite it to be traded for the good knight on d5.

11. ...Nd7 12. a4!?

An interesting plan. I wanted to initiate a queenside attack since my pieces are better developed and centralized.

12. ...Nxe3

A bit hasty, but it is hard to come up with other ideas that are not simply waiting around. Castling seems like a better alternative. On 12. ...f5 I simply go back with Nc3 and the black kingside could prove weak.

13. fxe3 Bb4 14. Qe2

Continuing the queenside plans. Now that d4 has healed itself by the exchange, there are no big weaknesses in the white camp. White has several open files to work with, and should be slightly better here despite the two black bishops.

14. ...Qe7 15. Nc3

Clearing the way for an eventual e4 and d5. An additional, hidden threat is to eliminate the black two bishops.

15. ...a6 16. Na2!

The black bishop will be traded off.

16. ...0-0

...Ba5 Rf(or a)b1 threatens b4 to win the bishop, so it is better to avoid this line and just allow white to capture on b4 with the knight.

17. Rac1

There is no hurry to take the bishop.

17. ...Rfc8 18. Bb1!

Preparing Qd3/c2, which will force a weakness around the black king.

18. ...c5!?

Desperately trying to generate counterplay by opening a file.

19. Qd3

An in-between move, since the threat of mate overrides everything else.

19. ...g6 20. Nxb4 cxb4 21. Nd2

The knight has its sights set on d6 and/or f6.

21. ...Bc6 22. Rxc6!?(!!)

Completely speculative. It was just one of those sacrifices that "felt right", so I decided to go for it. The main point is that by giving up this exchange, I eliminate black's best piece, substantially increase the potential of my knight, and that is not to mention the so-called "sacrificial shock" that comes when there is some sort of unexpected sacrifice made. This move is given (!!) because it ended up working, but it is hard to say if this is the correct idea to play in the position. Other alternatives included Qb3, Bc2, and maybe white can even get away with b3 or Nc4.

23. ...Rxc6 24. Ne4 Rac8 25. Nd6

Allows ...Rxd6 26. exd6 Qxd6 27. Qxa6 which is probably a bit better for white, but should be solid enough to draw.

25. ...R8c7 26. Nxf7!

Now the exchange sacrifice has been completely justified.

26. ...Nf8

Really, what else is there for black? g6 must be protected or the game will end swiftly.

27. Nxh6+ Kh8

Forced, since 27. ...Kg7 28. Rf7+ Qxf7 29. Nxf7 Rxf7 is not convincing for black.

28. Nf7+ Kg7 29. Nd6

Certainly by this point, the exchange sacrifice seems like it was the right idea, as black seemingly has been making reasonable moves, but is getting gradually demolished.

28 ...Rc1

Else we go into the Rf7+ line previously mentioned.

29. Qxa6 Rxf1+ 30. Qxf1

Taking with the king is just asking for trouble.

30. ...b3 31. Bd3 Kg8 32. Bc4

It is all coming crashing down for black. The pawns are getting picked off, one by one.

32. ...Qg5 33. Qf4 Qh5 34. Qf3

Trading queens leads to a very poor ending for black.

34. ...Qh4 35. g3 Qh6 36. h4! g5

This is a challenge problem for white. What is the best way to continue? Look at the diagram but don't move on until you think you have it.

37. h5!!

Now black, besides being down material and having little piece scope, can never trade down to an endgame without being completely tied down to this pawn, leading to an easy win for white.

37. ...Qh7 38. e4 Qe7 39. g4

White is in no hurry to do anything, black is completely helpless.

39. ...Qd7 40. Qxb3 Rc6 41. Qe3

This move puts another nail in the coffin, as g5 is hard to hold, and at the same time, d5 is threatened, as is Bb5 to win the exchange back.

41. ...Qe7 42. d5 Rc5 43. b3

Again, no hurry. The rash 43. b4 gives black a little hope after ...Rxc4 44. Nxc4 Qxb4.

43. ...Nd7

Just running out of things to do.

44. Nf5!

This ices the game. All black moves lose. ...Rxc4 Nxe7+, Q(e8)f8 Qxg5+. For Qd8, see the text:

44. ...Qd8 45. dxe6 Rxc4

Prevents 45. ...Nxe5 e7+ or Q(anywhere not en prise) Qxg5+ but allows...

46. e7!!

White threatens two pieces with pawns, and actually advances one of the attacking pawns! g5 is going to be captured, there is no useful check, the white pawns are rolling. Mate is looming, or at least a loss of too much material to play on. And so, black called it a game and resigned. Here is the final position:

I hope you enjoyed looking over this interesting game!

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