Last Sunday evening the Saratoga Championship got underway. Six players showed up: Feinberg, Farrell, Gausewitz, Connors, Kuperman and Little. Yes, I decided to try and make a come-back. I am not too optimistic about winning the event, but was curious to see if I could do reasonably well. The results for the first round were:
Kuperman 0-1 Farrell
Gausewitz 0-1 Feinberg
Little 1-0 Connors
Alan Le Cours was unable to participate due to other obligations. With just six participants the tournament will be a double round-robin with a time control of Game-in-105 and a five second delay per move.
Kuperman – Farrell was a 2 f4, Sicilian Grand Prix Attack. White rather quickly came under pressure, his d4-pawn was dangerously exposed and lost. Worse than the material deficit was that eating the d-pawn did not slow down the convergence of the Black pieces on White’s King. Even the surrender of more material was no help, and White had to resign on move 23 when faced with mate or the loss of his Queen.
Gausewitz – Feinberg was a Taimanov Sicilian that reached a Maroczy Bind. A complicated middle game led to tactics where Black had two Bishops and a Rook for a Queen. White had a passed Rook pawn, but it was insufficient, the pieces were too well placed and Black’s King was too secure for the Queen to make anything happen.
Little – Connors was a Pirc Defense. Mr. Connors decided to test me with my own favorite answer to 1 e4. He handled the opening very well and I had to take some chances to obtain active play. The opening ended with a trade of Queens leaving Black almost entirely equal. All I had for my opening efforts was a rather useless control of the d-file. After some lengthy maneuvering I was able to get a edge, a single pawn plus. David missed a shot and resigned when he dropped a second pawn.
On Wednesday October 9th the Albany Area Chess Club held their annual organizational meeting. The Club continues its tradition of turning over the President’s office every two years with Charles Eson replacing Arthur Alowitz. Peter Henner was elected Vice President. Glen Perry was reelected Treasure and will direct the Club Championship tournament. Jason Denham was elected Secretary. It was decided this year’s Championship would be a single section Round-Robin event. The annual dues are to remain the same as last year, $20, prorated for late joiners.
Among other items discussed was Charles Eson’s ongoing series of tournaments at the Hudson River Coffee House in Albany the 1st and 3rd Tuesday evenings every month. It was noted that the very youthful Martha Samadashvili plays often in these events. If you want to play someone who may well be a future star, this is a chance to do so. Looking back over many years I participated in some tourneys with young players who went far: IM Mike Valvo, the redoubtable Bobby Fischer, GM Jon Tisdal, GM Ken Rogoff and GM Nakamura. Regretfully I did not get to play Fischer, Rogoff or Naka, and drubbings handed out to me by Valvo and Tis were far from my best efforts, but even just watching a “famous name” before they become famous play give some insight into great players and their development. Eson’s Tuesday affairs may be your chance to have that experience.
The Schenectady Chess Club’s annual Championship began Thursday evening. There are 14 participants, six or whom were unable to play Thursday. They were paired within that group with games to be played later. The tournament is a single section round-robin. Four games were played:
Mockler – Phillips, 1-0, saw two possible contenders for the title matched in the first round. The opening was a side line of Pirc Defense with an early .., c6. When looking at the game with Rybka, the engine saw it as an up and down battle. I watched the game closely while it was being played and thought Mr. Mockler’s central control and space advantage on the K-side more than offset Black’s Q-side extra space. I was more impressed with White’s attack on the Black King than was my electronic friend. In the final few moves a shortage of time on the clock did more damage to Mr. Phillips chances than did Mr. Mockler’s moves.
Clough-Henner, ½ – ½, was an upset. Clough at 1660 held Henner 1883 to a draw. Through much of the game I thought Peter had a measurable advantage. Once again Rybka said I was wrong until rather late in the game. Somewhere around move 30 Black was much better and winning. Over the next ten moves this advantage faded and by move 40 White had counter-play sufficient to force the draw.
Chu-Calderon, 0-1, ended quickly – it was the first game to finish although plenty of moves were played and an endgame came about. Mr. Calderon raised the standard of his play by a full ratings class since last year, and he is now over 1800, a Class A player! He is in the top 1000 of about 37000 junior players in the US. This is a remarkable accomplishment.
A full round of play is anticipated next Thursday. The list of participants is rather tilted towards the strong side. The leading lights are: Adamec, Leisner, Finnerman, Mockler, Phillips and Henner with two newly minted Class A players; Calderon and Varela snapping at their heels. At the moment it is unclear if Dilip Aaron is to play this year. If he does come in, the established A Players and Experts will have three dangerous middle of the pack opponents to watch out for. With or without Dilip, it will take some good play to take this year’s Schenectady title in this strong field.
Next week the Albany Area Chess Club’s annual Championship will begin. Preliminary head counting suggests it may have a dozen participants. With this event beginning on October 16th , all of the larger clubs in the area will have started the season’s activities. I am able to keep up with what is going on at these three clubs mostly because I am a member of each. There are three other clubs in the area; East Greenbush, the Guilderland Library and Greenwich. On my wish-list for this year is to get more news for these three for the blog.
Returning the recent Schenectady – Albany match: While things did not go well for Schenectady in the top half of the match, on the lower boards the Electric City’s depth nearly drew the match. Here is a neat win by Bill Townsend, the former Schenectady Gazette’s long time chess columnist over Glen Perry.
Townsend, William – Perry, Glen [B93]
The Big SCC v. Albany Match, Schenectady, NY, 03.10.2013
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 e5 7.Nf3 Nc6
It has been all “book” up to this move. The reason why 7…, Nc6; is not recommended is made clear by the next sequence. Normal tries here for Black are: 7…, Nbd7; and 7…, Qc7.
8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8
Black has to give up the castling privilege to maintain parity. He might have tried 8…, Ng4; but seems to lose a pawn after; 9 Bg5 Qb6 10 Qd2 Qxb2 11 Rb1 Qa3 12 Rb3 Qa5 13 exd6, and White has the advantage.
Not as good as 10…, Be7.
11.0–0–0+ Kc8 12.h3 Bb4
Both sides have gone about their business in workman like fashion. Black has for the time being the better pawn formation, and White has the Black King somewhat awkwardly placed. There seem to be no large scale and dramatic tactics afoot. It is one of those positions with several smaller scattered clashes: Who will have the better pawn formation? Which side comes away with the Bishop pair? Can a loose pawn be picked off? Many lines in the Ruy Lopez and the English share this characteristic of seemingly scattered fights, but those openings generally have some unifying strategic idea running through them helping guide the choice of moves. I can’t put my finger on a central theme in this case. Here the players have to be very alert and watch the whole board. There is danger everywhere. It is possible 12…, Bc5; is a better choice for Black because it covers b6 right away and eyes e3 with a possible check on the White King.
13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Nd5,..
Immediately Black has a critical choice to make; guard against the fork at b6, let a pawn go, or surrender the pair of Bishops.
Black decides to give up the Exchange. Even with the help of Deep Rybka determining which option is best is not easy. It seems 14…, Bxd5; is the best try to avoid immediate problems. Play might go: 15 Rxd5 Be7 16 Bc4 Kc7 17 c3 Rhg8 18 Na4 Rad8 19 Rf1, and while nothing has dropped yet, the Black position looks very shaky. It is possible Black was concerned about 15 dxe5, and a rush forward of the e-pawn. That is not a real threat. If the pawn goes too far it may well be surrounded and lost.
My guess is Mr. Perry thought the Bishop pair might give him reasonable counter-play after White collects the Exchange. In general it is a rational notion. The fly in the ointment turns out to be the speed with which White can get all his pieces into play. Black’s weakened f-pawns provide targets helping along White’s mobilization.
15.Nb6+ Kc7 16.Nxa8+ Rxa8 17.a3,..
Here 17 exf5, leads to a more complex game, but White retains the better chances in any case.
17…, Be7 18.exf5 Bxf5 19.Bc4 Bg6 20.Rhe1 e4 21.Nd4 Ne5!?
This is another critical choice. The game move tries to keep material on the board. This may be the moment when Black could seek salvation by trading with 21…, Nxd4!? 22 Rxd4 f5 23 Red1 Rd8 24 Rxd8 Bxd8; and while White certainly retains the advantage, Black’s Bishops have chances. Black has to be careful of how far he advances his e and f-pawns. As long as they exist White will have to be concerned about their charging forward with the Black Bishops in close support. In the event of these pawns going forward, White would not be adverse to trading his Rook for the dark squared Bishop and the e-pawn. This would leave a Bishop of the same color endgame with White having the extra pawn, and Black’s weak f-pawn would be a source of trouble over the long haul.
This suggested simplifying line conforms to some, but not all, of the principles GM Soltis put forth in his 2004 work Re-thinking the Chess Pieces, Batsford Chess, London: Trade off a pair of Rooks to minimize the power of the two Rooks operating together, conserve the Bishop pair to maximize activity, keep the e-pawn alive to make White calculate against its advance.
In Soltis’ book most of his discussion focused on a closer material balance where the side down the Exchange has one or two pawns in addition to the minor piece. In this game Black does not have even one more pawn, so his material inferiority will likely cost him the game eventually. That reality argues for a plan keeping the game going for as long as is possible.
The same argument can be used to support the game move, 21…, Nd5; avoiding immediate trades. Such is the quandary a chess player faces often; what to do in a compromised situation? Keep material on and try to complicate matters, or find a simplifying sequence leading to a position that is hard for the opponent with the advantage to crack. Grandmasters and writers sitting in the quiet of their studies can fairly easily point out alternatives. In the actual game the choice of how to proceed is far from easy.
This is not so good as 22…, Bg5+; positioning the Bishop to support the e-pawn and pushing the White King back temporarily. On f7 the pawn gives added security to the Bg6, on f5 it is in the way of the Bg6 and can become a target.
Black has in mind trading the e-pawn for pressure on c2. A creative idea that falls short of working.
24.Ne6+ Kb6 25.Rde1 Rc8 26.Rxe3 f4
Black must have pretty much given up on the game to undertake this sequence. Avoiding giving up more material with 26…, Nc3; is somewhat better is some ways. Black, however, has no desire to draw out the game with no possibility of counter-play. The text gambles on creating tactical chances.
27.Rxe5 Rxc2+ 28.Kd1 Rxb2 29.Nxf4,..
The flaw in the scheme; the Knight guards d3 so that the trick 29…, Rb1+ 30 Ke2 Bd3+; does not clip the Rook on c1.
29…, Bc2+ 30.Ke2 Bc5 31.Nd3 Bxd3+ 32.Kxd3 Bxa3 33.Rf7 Ka7 34.Rxh7, 1–0.
The game rolled on for a few more moves, but the threats to b7 will force further simplification. Then, a full Rook minus offers no hope for Black. Mr. Townsend does not play often now. His activity for the last several years has been mainly team events such as this match, the League and Eastern Teams in New Jersey. This game shows he still has the knack of winning games from strong opponents.