More on Taylor – Sells

With the recent reports of CDCL matches between SCC A and the Geezers, as well as Cap Region and the Troy Club, it is certain that Albany B will take the League title this year. Their score 4½-1½ can not be equaled by any other team, all of whom have dropped at least two match points. So it is congratulations to Albany B!

The captain and organizer of the B team for Albany is Chuck Eson. By dint of his efforts Chuck put together a rather strong lineup particularly as the season rolled on. In the early going the Geezers were able to defeat the B team. Towards the end of the schedule with the additions of Steve Taylor, Peter Michelman and Dave Sterner on the top three boards for Albany B, they presented a difficult problem for their opponents.

One usually thinks of the B team for any club to be less tough than the A team. Oddly enough the Albany B team has been, at times in the past, the strongest side for the AACC. In 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008 the Albany B team won the League trophy. In each case there were a variety of reasons why the B team was able to recruit strong players; late joins, individual preferences about team make-up and so forth. This year it was a case of sharp thinking by Eson and the late availability of Taylor, Michelman and Sterner coming together. Mr. Eson took advantage of the opportunities as they came up and steered the team to success. Good job, Chuck.

For Steve Taylor chess has been a long term passion. But like many of us, passion has to be tempered by obligations. The demands of career and family conspire to make Mr. Taylor’s participation locally intermittent. He has regularly played in the annual NYS Championship held in Albany, but other events have had to be fitted in to available time.

Recently, a post or two ago, we looked at game from a CDCL match between Taylor and Sells. It was one of the very interesting and well-played contests from this season’s League matches. Since beginning to write these articles for the ENYCA in 2009, one of my interests has been how various of our local talents think about the game. Going over his game with Sells highlighted a characteristic of strong players: their games most often exhibit a theme or plan followed to its logical conclusion. Strong players and the weaker among us frequently hit on good logical plans. The strong ones follow the idea rigorously and efficiently to its conclusion, the rest of us too often are less efficient in execution, or change focus unnecessarily along the way.

Steve Taylor dropped in the Albany Club once again on Wednesday July 2nd. Besides playing some skittles Mr. Taylor had looked closely at my recent post about his game with Philip Sells and he had some further insights to share.

Here is the game:

The rest of the actual game can be found in an earlier post on the blog. Here is the critical position:

My recommendation was 16…, Bxc4 17 bxc4 Rxc4 18 Rf3 Rac8 19 Rc1 Qc5+ 20 Kf1?(Too casual and a move without guile.) 20…, b5; and Black is better, not quite winning but better. The line leads to:

Mr. Taylor’s improvement is: 20 Re3 b5 21 Kf2, and then if 21…, b4? 22 Na4, hits the Black Queen and breaks the pin on the Rc1. After this White has the piece for two pawns in the following position:

Blocking the Queen’s check with 20 Re3 which makes possible the follow-up clearance of the back rank with 21 Kf2, are two tough moves to find, and together they make the Knight’s jump to a4 workable. The Rook block allows the King to get off the dangerous back rank, and clearing the back rank defuses what looked like a wonderful “bomb” for Black.

There is a “however” however: Taking a leaf from Mark Dvoretsky’s play-book, I am not quite willing to agree this one improvement completely wrecks the idea. Black can improve with 21…, Qc6.

White now has to reckon with Black executing the b-pawn push. Then, after a direct sort of defense; 22 a3 a5 23 Qb2 f6 24 g3 b4 25 axb4 axb4 26 Na2 Rxc1 27 Nxc1 Qxc1 28 Qxc1 Rxc1 29 Rb3 Rc4;

White is left with an inferior ending that is not easy to hold. For example: if the White King goes to the 3rd rank, Black will check on c3 surrendering a pawn to get the Rooks off and convert to a pawn up pure pawn ending that appears to be won for Black. The most obvious alternative is then: 30 e5, trying to use the e-pawn to do damage to the Black pawns, is met with 30…, fxe5 31 fxe5 dxe5 32 Kg2 e4;

and Black’s King can not be held out. This looks won for Black also.

If this is all true, White has to look elsewhere for a workable plan. The attempt 22 Qb2, hoping for tactical relief does not seem to work after: 22…, f6 23 e5 Rxf4+ 24 Ke1 dxe5 25 Ne2 Rc4; and Black has four pawns for the piece. Even though 26 Rxc4 bxc4 27 Kf1 Qd5;

leaves Black plenty of problems of how he can advance the pawns, White has difficulties finding a way through the pawn screen. The material plus Black enjoys give him some winning chances for sure.

All this is pretty deep stuff. Of the players now on the local scene, Taylor and Sells are two of the few with the attitude and calculating ability to work through these complications. As I said in my original comments on the game, Mr. Sells may not have trusted the move 16…, Bxc5; enough to plunge into great complications quite so early in the game. Adding to any doubts had to be sporting considerations. Schenectady A began the match down a point by forfeit of the 4th board. Starting out at -1 the need to make the most of every chance and the avoidance of any further losses certainly influenced decisions across all the boards for Schenectady.

I am grateful to Steve Taylor for his suggested improvement. It open my eyes to some pretty play that might have been. Once more a creative notion leads to uncovering some of the hidden truth in a chess position. I don’t believe the last word has been said about the possibilities after 16…, Bxc4. If anyone out there has something to add, contact Mr. Mockler, get access to posting on this blog and let’s hear from you. This conversation is what the World Champion Botvinnik meant when he recommended publishing your own analysis. Getting the ideas out to the broader chess community provokes, hopefully, many minds to put their creativity to work. That effort, first improves the understanding of a specific position, and second, leads to all involved to looking deeper in general.

Again, the end.


Author: Bill Little

I began playing chess at the Schenectady Chess Club in 1950. I was just a little guy, and the warm welcome there and then won my devotion to the game and to the Club. Over the many years with the Club I have won the Championship four or five times. My rating peak was just under 2100. Today I am lucky to hang in in middle 1900s.