This is a rather long post today. There is much to report:
The Albany Area Chess Club will hold a Quad on July 3, 10 and 17 at their site, the Union Presbyterian Church on Route 20, Guilderland, NY. That is one round played each night. The doors open at approximately 7:00 p.m. and play is slated to begin about 7:30 p.m.
The format is four-player round robins by USCF rating with a Swiss for the lowest section if needed. The entry fee is zero for AACC members and $5.00 for non-members. The event will NOT be USCF unrated.
The time control is somewhat unusual; Game in 45 minutes with a 30 second increment for those with clocks that can accommodate this control. All other games with clocks that can not be set for such increments will be played at Game in 75 minutes.
No prizes are offered. Winners will be named in the President’s Report at the annual meeting in October.
It is a chance to play some semi-serious chess under tournament conditions without risking rating points. Come out to sharpen up your game before next season if you are already serious about chess. If you have not played rated events, it is a chance to find out if tournament chess is for you at a very low cost.
League Play Ends
Although the title was decided a week or so ago with Schenectady’s win over the Geezers, one match remained to be played; the traditional center piece of the season: Albany A versus Schenectady A. This year’s version took place Thursday 6/28/13 at Schenectady. The boys from “The City that Lights and Hauls the World”, or it used to be, won 2 ½ – 1 ½. It was strength on the lower boards that came through for Schenectady this time. The results by board were:
1 Sells 0-1 Howard. This was a tense battle with opposite side castling and piece attacks on both Kings resolving itself into a won pawn endgame for Mr. Howard. It was the last game to finish on the evening and was well worthy of the long tradition of this inter-city rivalry. It was a pleasure to watch these two very good players “go for the gold” even though the League and this match were decided already.
2 Magat ½-½ Adamec. The fight on the second board was not as dramatic in the beginning. Mr. Magat obtained a somewhat better game out of the opening. A longish duel followed ending with Mr. Adamec dropping a piece for insufficient compensation. Garnering the piece used up a lot of time on Gordon’s clock. It became a question if he’d be able to work out the win with little time to do so. While Mr. Magat kept his extra piece right to the end, with just seconds remaining and no clear win apparent, he had to offer a draw to avoid a loss on time.
3 Rotter 1-0 Wright. An opening error cost Tim Wright a pawn. That is not at all unusual in his games. Mr. Wright does not put great effort into deep study of the openings. And as usual, such misfortunes just seem to bring out the best in Wright’s play. Down a pawn, he made the Bishop pair obtained as compensation as threatening as possible. This inspired work carried Tim into an endgame where he was down two pawns with Rooks and Bishops of opposite color. A couple of bad choices when he might tried to force drawn positions, and the game ended as a win for Rotter.
4 Perry 0-1 Townsend. The Schenectady A team captain had to step in on board 4 when Zack Calderon was a last moment no-show. An early error by Mr. Perry cost him a piece and the game in what was shaping up as a stern struggle.
The final league standings are:
Match Points Game Points
1 Schenectady A 5½-½ 15½
2 Geezers 4-2 16½
2 Uncle Sam 4-2 15
4 Albany A 3-3 12
5 RPI 2½-3½ 11
6 Capital Region 1-5 8
7 Albany B 1-5 4½
All-in-all a most interesting season. The Geezers were unable to retain the title won last year, although they made a serious effort to do so. Schenectady A returned to the top of the heap narrowly, even though they had a full point and one-half match point bulge at the end. While the Geezers were able to win a number of their matches by big margins, 4-0, 3 ½ – ½, the Champions had to be satisfied with much closer 2 ½ – 1 ½ scores often. They recorded no 4-0 sweeps.
This not to take away anything from Schenectady’s A team; when they needed to win, they did! The Uncle Sam team jumped into contention and led the League for some time in the early going. RPI and the Capital Region teams threatened in nearly all their matches. Maybe the biggest surprise was the fall-off in the results for Albany A; just scoring 50% in six matches, 3-3.
This outcome was surprising for two reasons: First, Albany has traditionally been a strong League contender and there has been little turnover in their lineup. Second, since relocating to the new club rooms in Guilderland, the club has seen a steady and solid turnout each week of interested players. Usually good weekly headcounts and the practice they indicate lead to better team results. I credit it to the practice. That theory did not hold up this time.
Continuing and finishing my comments on the decisive match of the 2012/13 CDCL season with two games today. Both ere drawn but for different reasons. The game from the first board was influenced by what was happening in the match overall at some critical points. The other game, Adamec – Leisner, proceeded to a drawn conclusion before any clear trend developed on the other boards. That is not to say Adamec and Leisner did not make serious efforts to win, rather it was an effect of styles; Ademec and Leisner tend to play with some speed and time trouble is not so usual for them. The first board contestants on the other hand do not shy away from using up time in search of an advantage.
Now onto the games:
Michelman, Peter – Sells, Philip [D61]
CDCL Match, Geezers versus Schenectady A, Schenectady, NY, 13.06.2013
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 0–0 7.Qc2 c6 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bh4 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nd5 11.Bg3 Nxc3 12.Qxc3!?,..
It has been all book up to here, and the text is also known. It has not found great favor among the elite. They prefer 12 bxc3. Not so long ago two World Champions explored the line in a fast-play event:
(319628) Kasparov, Garry (2790) – Anand, Viswanathan (2690) [D61]
Immopar Rapid, Paris (4), 1992
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 c6 3.d4 e6 4.Qc2 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Nbd7 7.e3 Be7 8.Nc3 0–0 9.Bd3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nd5 11.Bg3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 c5 13.0–0 Nb6 14.Bd3 Bd7 15.Bh7+ Kh8 16.Be4 Qc8 17.Ne5 Ba4 18.Qe2 Nd7 19.Rab1 Bc6 20.Nxc6 bxc6 21.Qf3 Nb8 22.Be5 f5 23.Qg3 Bf6 24.Bd3 Bxe5 25.Qxe5 cxd4 26.cxd4 Rf6 27.Rfc1 Nd7 28.Qa5 f4 29.Be4 fxe3 30.fxe3 Rb8 31.Qxa7 Rxb1 32.Rxb1 Rf8 33.Qb7 Qd8 34.Bxc6 Nf6 35.Bf3 Nd5 36.Bxd5 exd5 37.Rf1 Re8 38.Qb3 Qa5 39.h3 Ra8 40.Rf5 Rd8 41.Kh2 Qc7+ 42.Re5 Qf7 43.a4 Kh7 44.Qc2+ Kh8 45.a5 Qa7 46.Qc5 Qa8 47.Qc7 Rc8 48.Qd7 Rd8 49.Qb5 Kh7 50.a6 Rd6 51.Qb7 Qxa6 52.Qxa6 Rxa6 53.Rxd5 Kg6 54.Kg3 Kf6 55.Kf3 Ra3 56.h4 Rb3 57.g4 Ke6 58.Ra5 Kf6 59.Kf4 Rb6 60.e4 Rb1 61.Ra6+ Kf7 62.g5 h5 63.g6+ Ke7 64.Ke5 Rb7 65.d5 1–0
Earlier a couple of “famous names” gave it a try at the Moscow Central Chess Club team event in 1960:
(50760) Kortschnoj, Viktor – Hort, Vlastimil [D61]
Moscow CCCT, (7), 1960
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Nf3 c6 7.Qc2 0–0 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bh4 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nd5 11.Bg3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 b5 13.Be2 Bb7 14.0–0 a6 15.a4 Nb6 16.Rfb1 Bc8 17.Ne5 Bd7 18.axb5 cxb5 19.Qb3 Nd5 20.h3 Nc7 21.Bf3 Ra7 22.c4 Qe8 23.Nxd7 Qxd7 24.cxb5 Nxb5 25.Qa4 Nc3 26.Qxd7 Rxd7 27.Rb3 Nd5 28.Rxa6 Rfd8 29.Rb8 Rxb8 30.Bxb8 Rb7 31.Be5 Rd7 32.Ra8+ Bf8 33.Rb8 Ne7 34.Kf1 h5 35.Ra8 h4 36.Bd1 Ng6 37.Bh2 Kh7 38.Bc2 Bb4 39.Bf4 Bd6 40.Ba4 1–0
According to the books and the mighty Rybka, taking with the c-pawn allows White to hang on to something of his expected opening advantage. Taking with the Queen permits equality for Black almost immediately. In my judgment the participants were keeping an eye cocked on the situations on the other boards. They both wanted to keep the game in front of them by avoiding anything too committal. Depending on how the match situation developed Michelman and Sells wanted the option to play for a win if needed while keeping drawing chances in hand. This a typical mind set of a top board player in a vital match.
12…, Nb6 13.0–0 Nxc4 14.Qxc4 Qb6
Black’s deployment of force is just a bit awkward, but he has the Bishop pair. White has, for the moment, more control in the center. Black has the break .., c5; with which to challenge that. Who has the better long term possibilities is down to who finds the better plan. It is a position with lots of scope for inventive play.
Mr. Michelman is the first to offer his opponent a temptation; b2 is hanging.
Mr. Sells declines the chance to enter the tactical complications of; 15…, Qxb2 16 Rab1 Qa3 17 Bc7 Bd8 18 Rc3 Qe7 19 Bxd8 Rxd8; when Rybka says he is slightly better. Two reasons come to mind for the decision: First, the shift to tactics from a positional plan of development before all the pieces are deployed is risky. Have all the possibilities been reckoned? Even if some kind of advantage is found at the end of the complications, is it sufficient to win, or is a draw likely? Here Black might well see the better of his Bishops traded off, and White may have open files on which to apply pressure to the Q-side. Second, as mentioned above, match tactics come into play. At this moment the Adamec – Leisner game was moving along rapidly. Leisner had some initiative, but Adames’s position was reasonably sound, and the tactical theater was narrow; the e-file primarily. Barring a gross error, the game promised to long and close. The other boards were likewise fairly balanced. In light of all the above, it is sensible to put off tactics until the position ripens more.
White could have tried 16 a3, because 16…, Qxb2? 17 Rcb1 Qxb1+ 18 Rxb1 Bxa3; gets only a minor piece and two pawns for the Queen. The problem is does getting a pawn on a3 earlier help the White position much? If the follow-on plan for White is then b2-b4 to try to prevent an eventual .., c6-c5; Black can shift focus to using the ..,a7-a5 lever. Then the almost certain exchange of at least one pair of Rooks edges the game towards a draw.
16…, Bd7 17.Ne5 Be8 18.a3 a5
Played in this order we see Black making b2-b4 impossible.
Evidently Black decided the endgame affords him better chances.
White declines. Both sides are jockeying for some small plus in a possible ending. The White Queen on the a2-g8 diagonal makes the freeing of the Be8 by .., f6; not doable. I don’t know if avoiding the Queen trade in this way is all that positive of a choice. Black gets to add a small positional plus; the advanced a-pawn blocks two White pawns. Such is not always enough to win a game, but it makes some endings dicey for White.
20…, a4 21.Qc4,..
White more or less agrees to the Queen trade now. I suppose the decision was taken because in the line; 21 Qa2 c5 22 dxc5 Rac8 23 c6 Bxc6; the less than useful Black light squared Bishop is either traded for Knight, or it takes up active duty on the long diagonal. White would then be left with the potential of a Bishops of the same color ending where many of his pawns are on the color of the enemy Bishop, in particular b2. Should all, or most, of the heavy pieces come off, the Black King will make a beeline for b3. If the Black King gets there, White would be on a permanent defensive. It is not so much that accomplishing a King’s march as described leads to some certain winning sequence. It is that when Black begins the trip White’s options will be limited; he has to ready both his King and Bishop to defend b2 and try to deny access to b3 for the Black King. Black will be looking for any opportunity to deviate from a direct march to b3 to get in amongst the White K-side pawns. The challenge to the defender is to find the precise moves to counter a two-pronged threat.
These long term positional considerations are every bit as difficult to decide as are long complicated tactical problems. Tactics can be troublesome. The “Did I look far enough?” worry is always there with tactics. And everyone has the same concern: was everything foreseen? Tactics are at least concrete, positional play less so and more subjective. The player has to rely on his intuition and character. Intuition is another word for experience used consciously and unconsciously to find the correct plan, and character in having the courage of your convictions to execute what your intuition suggests.
And now Black declines! So goes positional battles. They are shifting and murky struggles with each side trying to find just the right place for a decisive change to the tactical.
This move is more coherent than the alternative; 22 f3 c5 23 dxc5 Rd5 24 Qb4 Rc8; suggested by Rybka. The pawn that can be won on c5 is temporary, and the Black Bishops are beginning to come life.
An interesting choice. Black offers to trade a piece that seemingly has a role in supporting role to play supporting the ..,c6-c5; break. While this choice does not throw the balance strongly towards White’s favor, it does seem to shift things somewhat that way. The move certainly signals a certain lack of aggressive intent.
So why would a player like Sells who is willing to run great risks on the clock to wring the most out of a position do this? Perhaps he did not like the look of; 22…, b6 23 Be5 Rac8 24 h3 f6 25 Qxe6+ Bf7 26 Qf5 fxe5 27 Nxe5 Be8 28 Nxc6 Rxc6 29 Rxc6 Bxc6 30 Rxc6, when White has three pawns for the piece.
In this case, as long as the White pawns stay in place Black’s Bishop is constrained by the “pawn fence”. All things being equal, with the amount and kind of pieces remaining I like Black’s chances. The but is both sides had used up a good deal of the time allotted for the game. Mr. Michelman was under five minutes left, and Mr. Sells had around ten minutes. I suspect if there were more time left to him, Philip might have asked the question of Peter; can the pawn chain maintain itself against all the possible piece maneuvers? If the pawns start forward, the more numerous Black pieces will find targets, b2 for example, to attack. At that point careful calculation becomes decisively important.
At this point Mockler on board three had not quite yet set fire to his position. That game was played along side the Michelman – Sells game, but across the aisle the Adamec – Leisner game had drawn, and the 4th board game, Aaron – Phillips had shifted from a winning one for Phillips to a likely draw. Mr. Sells is a canny student of match tactics, and he knew a drawn match kept the Schenectady A team’s chance for the title alive – they still had the Albany A match to play. So here he may have decided to make a draw.
23.Bxd6 Rxd6 24.Qc5 Qb8
Is this a second thought about the draw? It is not so much about the position on this board, rather Mr. Mockler on the board next door had by now launched is flawed combination, and Sells could see Michelman was aware of what was happening there. My guess is Philip thought to keep the Queens on to make Peter’s task of deciding what to do just bit harder.
At this point it was clear Mr. Mockler’s scheme had gone astray. Mr. Michelman now is trying to conjure up some threats. Safe and sane is 25 Qb6, with some heavy piece trades coming. A draw is no longer enough after Mockler’s loss, a win has to be sought after.
25…, b6 26.Nb4?!,..
An oops. It is not quite the end of the world for White, but the move does allow the c-pawn to advance granting some freedom to the long useless Be8. That is a positional plus for Black. Equally important is the c-pawn’s advance undermines the White Queen’s aggressive post, tactics now may take center stage. At this stage Mr. Michelman’s time trouble had become critical. He had less than two minutes on the clock. Michelman plays fast chess very well, but catching every trick in blitz mode is an iffy thing. Better here 26 Rc3, adding a guard to the Nd3, and soon to follow with h2-h3, eliminating back rank problems will give White some slight advantage.
26…, c5 27.Nd3?,..
His time shortage really bites now. Here White could have plunged into the tactical melee with: 27 h4!?, and then 27…, cxb4? 28 Rc8! Qxc8 29 Rxc8 Rxc8 30 Qxd6 b3 31 e4 Rc2 32 Qd8 Kf8 33 d5 exd5 34 exd5 Rxb2 35 d6, and a) 35…, Rd2 36 Qe7+ Kg8 37 Qxe8+ Kh7 38 Qxa4! B2 39 Qb3, and the pawn is stopped, White is winning. Or, b) 35…, Re2 36 d7 Re7 37 dxe8(Q)+ Rxe8 38 Qxb6 Rc8 39 Kh2, is also winning for White. Make note that as long as the Black King stands on f8 and no nearby pawns are moved there is checkmate at d8 by the Queen if the Black Rook leaves the back rank. All this is there, but very little time remains to calculate even one or two moves deep, much less ten with numerous possible alternatives. Maybe a GM could do it, or a computer. For an Expert it would have to be an intuitive choice and a gamble.
Now Black is suddenly on top.
In chess our ills seldom come singly. Here White’s best try is; 28 Qg3 cxd4 29 e4 Bb5 30 f4, surrendering a pawn but hoping to make some kind of counter-demonstration with an advance of the f-pawn and the possible Rook going to the 7th . Black is better but not yet clearly winning.
28…, cxd4 29.exd4 Rxd4 30.h3,..
Made necessary by the back rank weakness. Black is now solidly ahead according to the engine’s evaluation. The game on board three was over now after Mockler resigned. With draws in the two other games, a draw here gave Schenectady A the match victory and an unassailable claim to the League title. Mr. Sells traded down ruthlessly in his opponent’s time trouble; Michelman had less than a minute remaining, and the game agreed a draw on move 34.
30…, Rd1+ 31.Kh2 Rxc1 32.Rxc1 Qb8 33.Re1 Qxe5 34.Rxe5 ½–½
A tough fight showing how in team events what is happening on the other boards influence a player’s choice of moves.
The first game to finish was the board two game; Adamec – Leisner. Truly I was confused more than once in this contest; who was winning at certain points was not clear to me as a spectator.
Adamec, Carl – Leisner, Jon [B40]
CDCL Match, Geezers versus Schenectady A, Schenectady, NY, 13.06.2013
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 e6!?
Not what the book recommends. It says 3…, Nf6; is by far the most popular answer, with 3…, g6; a seldom tried alternative. Rybka recommends; 3…, Nf6. It says 3…, Qa5; might be an alternative, but isn’t really enthusiastic about it. I can find no games in the databases featuring the text.
White goes his own way. Mr. Adamec has played this eccentric Knight move before this season. It fits with his preference for getting away from book type positions to where pure chess talent and not remembered variations carry the day. Keeping the expected edge for White with 4 d4, is probably best here.
The game is equal now.
5.Bb5 Bd7 6.0–0 Nf6 7.Re1 Be7 8.d4!?,..
With 8 d3, the balance is held. The text offers Black a small opportunity; 8…, cxd4 9 cxd4 a6 10 Bd3, etc. looks level, but White still has to demonstrate there is some useful task for the Na3. I don’t see it.
Black passes on 8…, cxd4; which according to the mighty Rybka gives him some edge. Why? After the logical continuation; 8…, cxd4 9 cxd4 a6 10 Bf1 0-0 11 d5? exd5 12 exd5 Nb4 13 Qb3 Nfxd5 14 Bd2 a5; Black has won a pawn. True enough it is exposed on d6 to some pressure, but to quote the Fischer axiom: “A pawn is worth some trouble.” The problem with foregoing this gift is White’s next move.
White now gets a cramping advanced center, and Black has to undo some development.
Somewhat better is 9…, Nb8; as unpleasant as that sort of thing can be.
10.exd5 Nb8 11.Bxd7?,..
Giving back much of what had been gained with the slightly risky central push. Better 11 Bd3, with c3-c4 to follow making the game some kind of Benoni formation where the Black minor pieces are not quite where they belong. Mr. Adamec’s style is to strive for unique positions early avoiding the book as much as can be safely done. It works to put the contest into a realm where both participants are tested on their understanding chess fundamentals and not the recollection of analysis. There are times when this works out very well for him, on other occasions not so well.
11…, Nbxd7 12.Nc2,..
The downside to the unusual placement of the Knight on a3 is a need to spend a tempo. White believes he has to take time to bring the piece back towards the scene of the coming action. He might be better served by trying to make the fight about action on the Q-side with; 12 Bf4, eyeing d6 and provoking 12…, Nh5 13 Be3 Re8 14 Qb3 Rb8 15 c4 a6; when White’s development appears to be a little more harmonious than is Black’s.
12…, Re8 13.a4 Bf8 14.Rxe8 Qxe8 15.c4 Qe4
Black had a choice here: the text, making the fight on the narrow front of the e-file, or 15…, g6; thinking about getting more activity for his dark squared Bishop languishing on f8 hemmed in by his own pawns. Trying to counter that idea with 16 Bf4?, runs into 16…, Qe4; picking off the c-pawn.
Mr. Leisner’s preference is for direct action when the opportunity presents itself, thus the text.
16.b3 Re8 17.Ne3!?,..
I don’t think this move is quite as good as 17 Bb2. White may have been concerned about 17…, Qe2; but White has decent resources to hold in that case. He probably benefits from the likely Queen trade following 17…, Qe2; reducing the importance of the e-file in future operations.
17…, Ne5 18.Nxe5 Qxe5 19.Ba3?!,..
This is definitely an awkward choice. More to the point is 19 Rb1, when White threatens Bc1-b2. If Black tries tactics on the e-file, he is repulsed in the sequence; 19 Rb1 Ne4 20 Qe1 Nc3? 21 Bb2, winning for White, or 20…, Qc3 21 Qxc3 Nxc3 22 Rb2 f5!? 23 Rc2 Nd1 24 Kf1 Nxe3+ 25 Bxe3, with a balanced game heading for a draw probably.
19…, Ne4 20.Ng4 Qf4 21.Bc1 Qf5 22.Qf3 Ng5?!
Time wasted by the move 19 Ba3, leaves White with a back rank problem. Black is trying to find a way to exploited it. The tactics here are interesting but apparently not decisive. A positional continuation offer better chances; 22…, Qxf3 23 gxf3 Nc3 24 Bb2 Ne2+ 25 Kf1 Nf4 26 Ne3, and Black has the edge. Then the patient plan for Black: .., g6; and .., Bg7; to trade off the Bishops, followed by; ..Re5/.., Rh5; has potential. If White counters with the offer of a Rook trade on the e-file, the ensuing Knight and pawn endgame offers Black real chances for a win; his King has an invasion route via f6, e5, and d4 putting the “fox among the chickens” on the Q-side. I can’t find a reliable way for White to meet this idea
23.Bxg5 Qxg5 24.g3 h5 25.Ne3 g6 26.Rb1 a5
Black puts his faith in a different positional approach after the simplification by White. He is counting on his dark squared Bishop and the effective use of the e-file to carry the day. The good and bad of the situation for White is there not many targets on the dark squares for the Bishop to attack. The cleric has free rein on the dark squares with nothing available to oppose him, but what will the Bishop be able to do?
This move seems to be where Black tacitly settled for a draw. While not objectively better, 27…, h4!?; introduces some uncertainty to the position and keeps the pot boiling. After the text the outlines of the point split are becoming clear.
And this move confirms the conclusion that Mr. Leisner was ready to draw.. Keeping material on with 28…, Qd8; would cause White to worry about the Black heavy pieces on the e-file.
29.Qxf6 Bxf6 30.Re1 Bc3 31.Rd1 Bf6 32.Kf3 Kf8 33.Nc2 Re5 34.Rd3 Rf5+ 35.Ke2 Re5+ 36.Re3 Ke7 37.Ne1 Rxe3+ 38.Kxe3 Bd4+ 39.Ke2 f5 40.Nd3 Be5 41.Nxe5,..
Even introducing the imbalanced pawn structure does not really matter in the outcome of the game. If neither side goes mad and does something foolish, a draw it will be.
41…, dxe5 42.f3 Kd7 43.Kf2 Ke7 44.Kg2 Kd7 45.g4 Ke7 ½–½
There is no progress to be made without risking a loss for the side taking the risk.
And thusly the Schenectady A team, with the title already in hand, increased their winning margin. The closeness of SCC’s winning match scores, and the signs of some of the less accomplished teams improvement hint that next year an upset winner of the League is not out of the question. That notion is further reinforced by the powerhouse Albany A team’s record falling to just 50% in match point score. I will not be surprised to see RPI, Capital Region, or Uncle Sam again seriously challenging for the title next year. This is a great thing for the local chess community; fierce competition brings out more participants.