Stamford open: Age and Resilience 2, Youth and Talent 1

I faced three of America’s best young players in the last three rounds of the Stamford Open earlier this month. None of them started very well for me, but in two cases I was able to settle down and turn my game around.

The game against Jason Lu was another story.

Round 3

Jason was ranked 7th in the USA for age 11. He came out of the opening with a slight space advantage, and I never managed any kind of counterplay:

His play wasn’t flawless, but it was a lot better than mine. I probably should have castled short and tried to weather the storm

Round 4

Ellen Wang was the #1 nine-year-old girl by more than 200 points (seventh overall) and the bronze medal winner at the World Cadet Championship for girls under 10.

We were in an unusual but balanced middlegame position, until this happened:

Round 5

Ethan Gu was “only” 32nd in the US for his age, but a 2093 rating is more than excellent for a 13-year-old.

I quickly got into another cramped position. After my round 3 debacle, I didn’t have the patience to defend passively, so I took a chance:

This win gave me 2.5 out of 5, a good result considering I was paired up 4 rounds out of 5.

Coincidentally, all three of my opponents seem to have had birthdays in the last two weeks.  So I wish Jason, Ellen, and Ethan a belated happy birthday. Good luck, and thank you for games I’ll remember when I read about the titles you’ll be winning.

On the Road to Master

It is well known that I am a big fan of the play of local expert Phil Thomas, with a sharp edged tactical skill to complement his evolving positional sense. I have refrained from openly stating that he is a credit to the local chess community for fear of impairing his social life, but it is true, and he is strong enough to carry the weight of that baggage. His assistance in promoting chess at local gatherings has been exemplary, paying forward hours of his time to inspire local youth participation at all levels of chess activity. It is easy to root for his success.

Our local players often find rating improvement to be a challenge, as play amongst ourselves has a limited pool of rating points to draw upon, and our specialized knowledge in the specific strengths and weaknesses of our opponents prevents a breakout from the average rating of the club players, which is dominated by high A and low expert status. To move above the statistical mean of our “around 2000” world requires either an extraordinary local performance, or a road trip. This is the tale of Phil Thomas’s journey to the 2015 Boardwalk Open, held in Galloway, NJ.

Phil’s work schedule forced a first round bye, and the swiss gambit worked well for him, with 2 wins and a draw leaving him on the heels of the leaders. His final round game was against the NY expert Bisiriyu-Salam, an aggressive player who showed an admirable fighting spirit in the last round, playing for the prize.

Phil is now 2/3rds of the way through Expert, still seeking the title of Master. I hope to type in the moves of the game that puts him into that select class of chess players.

Big Winners at New York State Open

I won the New York State Open in Lake George, and that was just the beginning of the good news for the local players.

  • Dave Finnerman took clear second with an undefeated 4-1 score
  • Martha Samadashvili tied for third with 3 others
  • Sandeep Alampalli tied for the under-1810 prize
  • Joshua Kuperman tied for first in the Senior section

80 players in all sections was just slightly below last year’s turnout, but there were very few masters and experts. At 2013, Martha was rated second behind Dale Sharp (2008) and ahead of a dozen players from 1900 to the low 200s.

I took a half-point bye in round one, so I could play four slow games instead of starting with  two at Game/60. I expected to be paired down in round two, but was very surprised to be paired against Martha, who drew her first game.

I got a slight advantage in the opening, but overestimated it. I advanced on the king-side, and ignored her attack on a queen-side pawn while I sacrificed a Knight. Later analysis showed her position was better by then, and I should have continued by sacrificing a Rook to force a draw. Instead, I went for an attack that should have failed, and was fortunate when she blundered into a forced mate.

Saturday evening I accepted a pawn in a Catalan Queen’s Gambit against Jonathan Kuehne (1964). He went for King-side threats that weren’t as dangerous as they looked. When the position simplified, I won another pawn with a small combination, and the endgame was easy.

I had a strange game Sunday morning against Zachary Saine. He is a scholastic player from Quebec who had a winning position against Finnerman, but made a subtle blunder and Dave escaped with a draw. In our game, I pushed a lot of king-side pawns chasing a Knight from e5 and a Bishop from f4. I then “castled” by putting my King on f7 and advancing more pawns. Somehow I developed a powerful bind, and won with a Rook sacrifice on h1 followed by mate in two.

Meanwhile, Dale Sharp was playing a non-masterful game against Dave. He left a piece hanging position that was already lost. This meant Dave and I had 3.5 out of 4, along with Dan Cooper (1980) from Connecticut, who won his first three and took a half-point bye Sunday morning.

In the last round Dave was paired down against the Canadian Benito Surya. Neither seemed to get much of an advantage, and the game was drawn. That meant first place was on the line in this game:

Black resigned, giving me first place in the New York State Open.
I never thought I’d be able to say that.

What Happened to Gata?

If you have not done so yet, I highly recommend reading the post preceding this one. W. Michael Mockler has crafted a most enlightening review of a couple of books about the Morra Gambit. My own preference has always been the more positional 3 Bb5, against the Sicilian. There is however enough tantalizing trickery touched on in Mr. Mockler’s review to tempt even this old “routiner” to think about the Morra as a surprise weapon.

Going into the Olympiad I thought the USA team had reasonable chances for a high place. That hope fell by the wayside when our team could only split the match point with Canada in round 5. The US did not field its strongest side because the US Champion and our board 2, Gata Kamsky took a rest day after suffering a remarkable upset at the hands of a 2400 player, Henry Steel of South Africa in round 4.

In round 3 Gata lost to Erwin L’Ami of the Netherlands. That was something of a surprise, but L’Ami is very strong and experienced GM with ten years under his belt in the +2600 club. I guess 2700 elite GM’s don’t expect to lose often to players 100 points below them on the rating list, but statistically it can happen. The loss was news, but nothing like GM Kamsky’s result in the next round against IM Steel of South Africa.

Steel, an IM and in his mid-20s, has made some progress since becoming a FIDE Master in 2009. He got his IM title this year. A player who, in the high pressure world of the Olympiad, would be thought not too difficult opponent for one of the top fifty players in the World. But, ratings, experience and reputation do not decide chess games, good moves, good ideas and composure do.

As a rule I do not comment on the games of Grandmasters and that ilk. My skills are not good enough to do justice to contests at that level. This game however caught my attention while it was being played, and the game is so interesting an exception has to be made. I dipped into it repeatedly while trying to watch everything going on that day. Afterwards, I sought out the score from the Tromso web sight, loaded it on my engine, Deep Rybka, and examined it trying to discover what happened and how such a result came about. Here are the notes made during the examination:

White moved and then resigned because: 88…, Kd4 89 Bh6 Rg2 90 Kc1 Kc3 91 Be3 Re2; and it is mate or the Bishop is lost. This was quite a performance by IM Steel.

Watching this game, playing it over and analyzing it left me with the feeling it was equivalent to two games. In the first half the GM did as expected and created an attack on the opponent’s King almost by magic. The second half was an example of the newly minted IM taking advantage of every opportunity. Steel maintained his composure through the long exploitation phase demonstrating a command of both his own nerves and technique.

Sunday August 8th the US team drew a tight contest with Hungary. This was made possible by a late victory by the remarkable US board four, Sam Shankland. He has played seven games and won them all. In the match Sunday he defeated Judit Polgar, a one time top ten player and the woman with the best results of all time. GM Shankland’s performance thus far is rated just under 3200 according the Olympiad server!

Tomorrow the US team faces Germany. It promises to be a tough make or break match for both sides.

A late note: GM Kamsky continued to have problems with his form in today’s US – Germany match, he lost to GM Georg Meier in 28 moves. On the other boards: Akopian had an extra pawn versus Fridman and won in 48 moves. Naka was level with Naiditsch on board 1, and they drew in 51 moves. GM Nisipeanu held Shankland to a draw in 31 moves. The match was drawn, 2-2.

“Playing in the ‘Millionaire Chess Open’?” or “Who’s Going ‘All in’?”

The “2014 Millionaire Chess Open” will be held in Las Vegas, NV from October 9-13.  It has a $1 million total prize fund – GUARANTEED!  Heard of it?  Considered playing it?  I definitely have, and I recommend you take a serious look at it for yourself as well.  An opportunity like this may never come again in your lifetime.  But first, allow me to digress…

Without a doubt, Grandmaster Maurice Ashley stands out from the crowd of American chess players.  No one else has taken as big or bold a stand for chess as a popular sport in North America.

In May 2005, he secured sponsorship and created the HB Global Chess Challenge held in Minneapolis, MN.  It was a wild idea of a “world class” event with a guaranteed prize fund of, I believe, $500,000.  What I know for sure is the top prize in my section: $20,000 to the top player rated Under 1800.  That was crazy money for an average player!!!  I signed up, along with a handful of other players from this area.

It was truly an “event” more than a tournament.  The playing hall was wonderful, the top boards were shown on flat screen TVs, you could sit in the room where the GM commentaries were being done and transmitted to the internet, and many other side events.  It was very cool!

But that’s not all GM Ashley was up to.  At that time, based on the popularity of the poker tournament shows on cable TV, he was marketing ideas for a comparable chess show complete with color commentary and editing to heighten the entertainment value for the viewer.   While I vaguely recall watching one chess show on cable like what Ashley had in mind some years ago, that considerable effort by Ashley did not seem to bear lasting results.  But clearly GM Ashley is undaunted.  He is doubling down!

The “Millionaire Chess Open” has a $1 million prize fund and $40,000 prize for the winner of most rated sections.  “Wow!” huh?  Well that is the whole point of the event – to provide you with an experience that makes you say “wow” and leave you with the satisfaction of being part of something extraordinary. To convey this well, you really should go the website  and at least check out the videos, especially on the “WHY MC” page.  Also learn of Amy Lee on the “ABOUT” page.

Understandably, the US Chess Federation is supporting the event and getting the word out.  I actually first tracked down the tournament info on the website.  What I found curious was there was no mention of the entrance fee.  When I clicked on the link to register, I arrived at the MC site and was greeted with an entrance fee of $1,000 – going up to $1,500 after 7/31.  WOW!!!!

Okay breath.  Relax.  Keep reading…

I would think the immediate reaction for most people would be “no way, that’s just too much!”  When you add in the travel, hotel and food costs, you are in the $2,500+ range for total costs.  Clearly not your ordinary investment in playing in a chess tournament.  Keep breathing…

As with anything you buy, it still comes down to “Is it worth it?”

I played in the HB Global Chess Challenge and I’ve twice traveled to the Netherlands to be part of the Corus (now Tata) Chess Tournaments.  Each time I decided it WAS worth it.  From that, I want to offer these points for your own consideration:

**  TREAT YOURSELF:  If chess is a passion of yours, will you have your entire life pass without experiencing something truly special, indulgent, and fulfilling your dreams of how chess “could be”?

**  MAKE A DIFFERENCE:  Have you considered yourself to be a stand for chess in the US?  Please consider this statement from the MC website:  “…chess players have the power to make and be a part of history by signing up to play in the Millionaire Chess Open.”  For this event to impact the culture here and grab public attention, every person registering to play counts.

**  YOUR ‘ONCE IN A LIFETIME’ EVENT:  What if you took this on like you are out to win your section, REALLY, like no kidding around?  Between now and October, would you be in training like never before in your life?  Would you hire a coach?  Would you let go of “your way” of preparing or playing so that you let yourself be coached?  The $1,000 entrance fee and huge prize money certainly provide incentives!

Once I paid the registration fee for the HBGCC, I set my sights on winning that $20,000 first prize.  I hired a coach for the four months I had before the event.  He had me adjust my opening repertoire, and change how I prepped.

The biggest surprise for me was what I learned about the prominent psychological aspect of the sport.  I realized early on that to actually win my section I would have to win virtually every game.  So I locked on to a mantra of “I HAVE TO beat everyone I play!”  I did this in warm up tournaments and had great results.  At the HBGCC, I went undefeated!  5 wins, 3 draws and a bye.  There were 2-3 games where I should have lost, but, as a HAD TO WIN, I somehow found a way to swindle or psych out my opponent. I ended up tied for 7th and in the prize money.  My best results ever.

This experience taught me a very crucial lesson.  As I sat down for each round and focused myself on I HAVE TO WIN, I came to recognize that my normal approach to playing a game was “to do my best.”  And when I faced an opponent much higher in rating, I quietly assumed I should lose but maybe “my best” could salvage a draw or sneak out a win.  I didn’t realize how much I had been “giving away the game” before it even started until I experienced the empowerment and mindset of I HAVE TO WIN.  That made a real and lasting difference in how I played chess from then on.

So as you can tell, I applaud GM Maurice Ashley for creating something so bold and daring and I encourage one and all to support him and participate in the MC.  Have it be your big and bold, once in a lifetime event for yourself.  Be unreasonable and see what you get out of that.

To be honest, I will not be playing in the event as I have a commitment through October 11 and I have not played chess for three years.  Yet I have seriously looked at what it would take to rearrange things to be there from the start.  What it comes down to is having a full schedule the next few months that will prevent me from being prepared to play in the fall.  I am still looking at flying out there for maybe the last 2 days as an observer.  I am also undauntable!

So I hope this was in some way worth your reading.  And I may see you in Vegas.

Phil Ferguson

A Wrap Up From the WYCC, Girls Under 10

The World Youth Championships ended in Al Ain, U.E.A. as the year drew to a close. Here is one more game from that event and some observations.

Carissa Yip had the best finish of the US players in the Girls Under 10 section. She was in a three way tie for 2nd place at 8½ /11. By the smallest of margins her tie breaks placed her 4th , just out of the medals. Martha Samadashvili, with 7/11, placed 22nd overall. Sania Salonika of India won the section with 9/11.

The overall standings show the US did not have an outstanding result with just three medals in all sections; one each Gold, Silver and Bronze. In the Open Under 10 section the US players dominated. Awonder Liang took first with 10/11. He had first place before the last round was played. In second was David Peng at 9/11 along with Teclaf Pawel of Poland and Yu Kaifeng of China. David won the Silver medal on tie breaks.

The US Under 10 cohort, Girls and Open, seems to be a very talented group. That is very promising for the future. One more example of this group’s strength is every US participant in the Girls Under 10 category scored at least 50%. If not too many of this bunch do not lose interest and drift away from chess, we should see improved results over the next few years as they move up the age ladder.

Here is another game by Martha Samadashvili from the event. This is from the second round when Martha faced Carissa Yip. Ms. Yip is a USCF rated Expert (2017) and she is from Boston. She plays regularly at the strong Boylston Chess Club there. Keeping in mind these are two nine year olds, this game is quite interesting and good.

Yip, Carissa – Samadashvili, Martha [A26]
2013 World Youth Championship Al Ain, U.A.E, 20.12.2013

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Nf3 Nge7 7.0–0 0–0 8.a3,..

Yip Sama 1

The first interesting point: The position is a reversed Sicilian Defense. When culling the database a number of GM games were found in the lines B25/B26, the Closed Sicilian – the same position but with the colors reversed. Expanding the search to include lesser titled players found quite a large number of games with the colors assigned as in today’s game. In other words, the game is right in the heart of theory. The Grandmasters, as Black, seem to prefer putting the Knight on f6 rather than e7.

A more common approach for White at this point is 8 Rb1, heeding Berliner’s advice: in Closed Games, if there nothing else pressing, prepare b2-b4 to seize some extra space The text has the same purpose, however it uses up a pawn move that may be useful in the endgame.

8…, f5!?

Neither the mighty Deep Rybka, nor the GM’s really like this move. Preferred are; 8…, h6; covering g5, and 8…, Bf4; planning .., Qd7; aiming to trade off White’s light squared Bishop.


Allowing Black a chance to force some simplification with 9…, Nd4. Martha isn’t interested in heading for a draw so early in the game.

9…, a5 10.Bd2 Bd7 11.c5!?,..

Electing to begin a tactical struggle before completing development with 11 Rac1.

11…, Kh8?!

Yip Sama 2

Passing a chance to take the game into complications with 11…, d5!? After 11…, d5 12 Nxd5 Nxd5 13 Qc4 Nce7 14 e4 Bc6! 15 Bc3 Kh8 16 exd5 Bxe5 17 Qa4 Nc6; the game is about equal according to the computer, but I like Black. Her King maybe a bit exposed, however d3 is a long term worry for White, and Black has some superiority in the middle of the board.

The game move hands White the initiative. Martha may have been worried about a check by the Queen on b3 and the loss of the b-pawn. This is specious not so much because the line: 11…, dxc5 12 Qb3+ Kh8 13 Qxb7 Rb8 14 Qa6 Rxb2 15 Rab1, which is approximately equal. Of greater concern may be that the game spins off into a tactical morass. Take for example this line: 11…, dxc5 12 Qb3+ Kh8 13 Qxb7 c4!? 14 dxc4? Rb8 15 Qa6 Bc8; and Black wins the Queen for a minor piece and a pawn or two. It very well maybe the out-of-control nature of the positions after allowing the check from b3 just did not appeal to Martha. This occasion, early in the tournament, facing one of the leading US players in the Under 10 Girls category, maybe Martha was being prudent. The game was a chance to move up a step or two in the pecking order. Going into complications that would challenge even experienced players does look risky.

12.cxd6 cxd6 13.Qb3 Qc8?

This move persuades me Black is not seeing the situation on the Q-side as clearly as might be hoped. The text guards b7, but the b-pawn is very dangerous for White to take. For example, similar to the previous note: 13…, d5 14 Qxb7? Rb8 15 Qa6 Bc8; wins the Queen for a Rook this time.

This tactical defense of b7 should have permitted Black to take over the center with: 13…, d5 14 Bg5 e4; and the fight is warming up with decent chances for Black. The positions that come about will favor the better tactician.


Making the obvious threat of a fork on b6. Yip could have maintained the usual advantage White expects to have with something more subtle such as 14 Nb5 Be6 15 Qa4 Qd7 16 Rac1. The small edge White enjoys is not very threatening to Black, but it is there.

14…, Be6 15.Qd1 Qd8 16.Ng5 Bg8

Black is equal or just a bit better now.

17.Rc1 Nd4 18.Nc3,..

Yip Sama 3

Not 18 Bxb2? Rb8 19 Bg2 Bb3 20 Qe1 Bxa4 21 Bxa5 Qe8; and the two pawns White has picked up for the piece are not yet advanced enough to constitute full compensation for the piece. I doubt these two pawns will push forward if Black is on her toes. With the extra piece being a Bishop it is unlikely White can overcome a blockade somewhere on the a and b-files.

18…, Bb3!?

This is a tempting bit of activity, but somewhat better is 18…, Nb3 19 Rc2 h6 20 Nf3 Qd7; and Black has increased her edge to where it is becoming significant.

19.Qe1 h6 20.Nf3 Nc2?!

At a guess, Martha perhaps thought Carissa might agree to a draw with 21 Qd1 Nd4 22 Qe1, etc.


The newly minted USCF Expert was not in the mood to grant her more lowly rated opponent a half-point, thus the sacrifice. The Exchange sacrifice is the only way to avoid a draw by repetition.

21…, Bxc2 22.Qc1 Bb3 23.Bxh6 Rc8

White has picked a pawn for the Exchange and weakened the Black King’s shelter. It is not quite enough compensation, although there is a lot of play left in the position.

24.Qd2 f4?

Yip sama 4

The young Expert’s judgment is rewarded. Strangely, even with Black’s Bishop on b3 watching the light squares on the a2-g8 diagonal, White can make threats on these squares. Black would be better served by 24…, Qd7; beginning to get major pieces off squares where a royal family forks can happen, and the move would add a guard to e6.

Both players are somewhat inaccurate over the next segment of the game. They are focused on tricks the White Knights can get up to. With the text Black wants to persuade White to exchange the dark squared Bishops. This is the second point of interest; this period of not quite correct play by both participants has its root causes in inexperience and tension. They are seeing the resolution of the contest in terms of tactics when more certainty is to be found in positional methods. It is common wisdom that youth revels in tactics. Give these two a few more games against tough opponents and they will begin to expand their choice of methods.


The wrong choice I think. Better seems to be 25 Bg5 Bf6 26 Bxf6 Rxf6 27 d4, taking the positional path of playing against the weakened Black pawns.

25…, Kxg7 26.Ng5?,..

Carissa is betting on the Knights dancing and forking tricks. Better here is 26 d4, attacking the chain of pawns and angling to open lines on the Black King.

26…, Rf5?

Yip Sama 5

Maybe time was getting short now. Black misses a chance at an upset here. Best is 26…, Nc6. Martha may have been concerned about White obstructing the a2-g8 diagonal with 27 Nd5, or 27 Bd5. Neither work because the Ng5 is loose. If 26…, Nc6 27 Bd5 Bxd5 28 Nxd5 Qxg5; leaves Black up a Rook for a single pawn, a winning advantage.


Ms. Yip must have been convinced she could dazzle her opponent with the dancing Knights. Much better is 27 Nf3, although after 27…, Rh5; Black still has some small edge.

27…, Rc2?

Yip sama 6

Slipping out of danger with 27…, Qb6; or 26…, Kh6; would have kept a comfortable plus for Black. The move played smacks of a time-trouble reaction shot.


The theme of a fork on e6 is realized. If 28…, Bxc2 29 Ne6+, recovers the Queen. That is not so bad, the pieces are equal and Black is down only single pawn. The problem is the weakness of the Black b, d and e-pawns. A couple of them will fall leading to a fairly easy win for White.

28…, Qb6 29.Qc3 a4 30.Bh3 Rf8 31.Be6,..

Yip Sama 7

Suddenly the insoluble problem of the light squares is crystal clear. The threat of capturing on b3 followed by a Knight fork on e6 is very strong.

31…, d5 32.Qxe5+ Kh6 33.Nf7+ 1–0

Yip Sama 8

The Black King is in mortal danger. If 33…, Kh7 34 Neg5+ Kg8; and it is mate by 35 Qh8#, or 36 Nh6#. If 33…, Rxf7 34 Bxf7 Qd8 35 Qxf4+ Kg7 36 Nc5 Qc8 37 Ne6+, when Black must give up his Queen for the Knight to stave off mate.

The game was a mixture of good and bad parts. That is expected in the games of very young players. What is evident is they are bold players willing to take risks. With Ms. Yip and Ms. Samadashvili both living in the Northeastern quarter of the US, there are good chances they will bump into each other again in one of the big open tournaments or some scholastic event. I will keep an eye peeled for that to see their progress.

More soon.

A Holiday Tidbit from the World Youth

A holiday tidbit. Things are quiet this week and next on the Capital District chess scene. With the Christmas and New Years holidays falling midweek there is and will be no local action other than this coming Sunday at Saratoga. To fill in the gap, here is a game by Martha Samadashvili from the 2013 World Youth Championship. At this writing Martha has done well there; she has scored 5-3 after eight rounds and has been playing on the top 15 boards to this point in the event. Not at all bad for someone ranked 72nd at the beginning.

Right now the contingent from India is dominating the standings in the Girls Under 10 category with three out of the four players on the top two boards from the sub-continent.

The girls from the US have not done badly: Carissa Yip with 6 points is on board 6, Sanjana Vittal also with 6 points is on board 7, Shreya Manglam with 5 points is on board 20, Aasa Dommalapati with 4½ is on board 22, Alix Shondra also with 4½ is on board 28, and Chang Xu with 3½ is on board 50. With all of the players at boards in the top half of the pairings and all but one having plus scores, I’d say the US girls have done very well in this Championship.

In such events there is a big range of skill. It can not be forgotten these are very young players with limited experience. From round 7 here is a game where a young lady from Bolivia is over-matched against our local girl:

Condori, Ana Paula (Bolivia) – Samadashvili, Martha (USA) [B33]
World Youth Championship (Girls U10) Al Ain, UAE, 23.12.2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Nf3?,..

Not the best move, or even the second best here. Both 6 Ndb5, and 6 Nxc6, are better. This is the Pelikan/Sveshnikov Variation, a very technical line with specific move orders that are not very intuitive. White probably id not booked up on it.

6…, Bb4 7.Bd3 d5!?

Condori Sama 1

A move suggested by general principles; if Black can get in d7-d5 when she has a safe pawn on e5 in the Sicilian, then Black is doing fine, right? More accurate is 7…, Bxc3; inflicting pawn structure damage immediately. The wrecking the White Q-side pawns is the fundamental reason why the retreat of the Knight from d4 to f3 is a poor idea.

8.exd5 Nxd5 9.Bd2 Bxc3 10.Bxc3,..

Recapturing with the b-pawn is slightly better so as to retain the Bishop to defend c3, and to at least have the two Bishops as compensation for the broken pawns.

10…, Nxc3 11.bxc3 0–0

Black now has a permanent advantage; the better pawn structure and the weak c-pawns to target.

12.0–0 Qe7?!

Condori Sama 2

Getting the Queen off the back rank is a good thing, but e7 is not exactly the right square for the Lady, better c7. As good as she is, we have to remember Martha has limited experience as yet. Putting the Queen on e7 builds some potential tactical tricks into the position. With a straight forward technical exploitation of a positional advantage – weak and double c-pawns – as the most certain way to win, good technique says avoid tactics if you can.

13.Re1 Re8 14.Be4 f6?

Black is not seeing what is going on yet. Getting the Queen out of the way with 14…, Qc7; would go a long way towards defusing the landmine White is apparently building.


Condori Sama 3

White either did not realize what was available, or she thought to raise the stakes by going for more complications. Here the stroke 15 Nd4!, would have done much to justify the White play to this point. If 15…,exd4?? 16 Bd5+!, picks up winning material. If 15…, Nxd4 16 cxd4, repairs the doubled c-pawns leaving White with some advantage. Finally, if 15…, Bd7 16 Rb1 Rab8 17 Qd3 g6 18 Nxc6 bxc6 19 h3, and 19…, f5; is met with 20 Rxb8 Rxb8 21 Bxc6 Bxc6 22 Qc4+, when White has an extra pawn although it is not very robust. In this last line White can’t be said to have much of an edge, but she seems to be in no danger of losing.

15…, g6 16.Re3?,..

Even given a second bite at the apple, White does not recognize what is available. Here 16 Nd4, would not be quite so good as it was earlier, but the draw could be forced: 16 Nd4 Nd8 17 f4! exd4 18 Bxg6 Qxe1+ 19 Rxe1 Rxe1+ 20 Kf2 Re7 21 Bxh7+, and if Black captures the Bishop there is a perpetual check for White. If Black allows the Bishop to get away, White ends up with a Queen and three pawns versus two Rooks and a minor piece with plenty of fight left in the materially unbalanced position.

Evidently Black did not see the possibility either. Tactical alertness is an area where Martha will have to improve. Very likely she will do so quickly as she reviews her performance game by game.

16…, Be6 17.Ne1,..

The only alternative I could come up with was 17 Qb5, and it offers almost nothing for White. Black now goes forward with simple moves that take aim at the positional flaws in the White position.

17…, Red8 18.Qe2 Bd5 19.Bxd5+ Rxd5 20.Qc4 Rad8 21.Rd1 Qc5

Condori Sama 4

Nicely done. Either the Queens are traded or a pair of Rooks will come off the board. As long as Black has one Rook and her Knight, White will be hard put to hold all the pawns on the Q-side.

22.Qxc5 Rxc5 23.Rb1,..

In a bad situation White keeps material on. Rybka says 23 Rxd8+, is better. Either way Black has a big advantage.

23…, b6 24.Nf3 Ra5 25.Ra1 Ra3 26.Kf1 Rd5 27.c4 Rda5 28.Rxa3 Rxa3

White has been unable to do much to modify the fundamentals of the position. Black will pick off a pawn somewhere on the Q-side. The issue will then become trading off the rest of the pieces and winning the King and pawns endgame.

29.Ke2 Rc3 30.Nd2 Nd4+ 31.Kd1,..

Somewhat more resistance could be made with 31 Kf1. The text sets the White King and Rook in relation to each other that permit’s a forcing simplification.

31…, Rxc2 32.a4,..

Now the finish is simple to find.

32…, Rxd2+ 33.Kxd2 Nb3+ 34.Kc3 Nxa1 35.Kb2 Kf7 36.Kxa1 Ke6

The winning plan is now quite clear to a player of Martha’s strength: march the King to c5 to tie up the White King, make a passed e-pawn, and use the passed e-pawn to draw away the White King from the defense of c4, and finally, wrap things up with the collection of the c and a-pawns.

37.Kb2 Kd6 38.Kb3 Kc5 39.g3 f5 1-0

Condori Sama 5

It is now clear there is no stopping the creation of a passed e-pawn. The game went on for twenty more moves as White played almost to checkmate down a Queen. Other than mutual overlooking of the tricky shot around move 15/16, this was a well played game by two nine year olds. Given a couple of more year’s of experience and it will be no easy task to meet either Martha or Ana over the board, that is when they are all of eleven years old!

More soon.

A High Finish for Patrick Chi

There were several young players who had good results at the 135th NYS Championship tournament. My last post featured Martha Samadashvili whose good effort “playing up” did not yield good result but gave promise of much for the future of local chess. The youth movement was headed by Nicolas De T Checa. He ended up tied for 2nd through 6th places overall along with GM’s Stripunsky and Benjamin and Masters Nikoleyev and Busygin at 4 ½ – 1 ½. Nicolas took the title of State Champion as the highest scoring NYS resident on tie-breaks over Nikolayev. Just four years ago Continue reading “A High Finish for Patrick Chi”