Recent Results and a Game

The Thursday meeting at the Schenectady Club produced some unfortunate news; Carlos Varela has had to withdraw from the event. The cause seems to be the demands of family. Withdrawals distort the standings. Mr. Varela’s is particularly vexing. Carlos has been playing well this year, and I had hopes we’d see another new face fighting for a high place. But life is what it is, and in the final analysis family has to take precedence over chess. Because Mr. Varela played less than one-half of his schedule his score will not be counted in the final standings. Of course the games will be rated by USCF.

The games played Thursday January 16th were:

Calderon 0-1 Henner. Peter once more visited the Dutch with 1…, f5. This time, although the game became very tactical very quickly, Mr. Henner won with nice mating attack. Mr. Calderon did not try the Marshall Gambit. Quite probably he reasoned Mr. Henner would have improved his understanding of that tricky line after two successive losses. The conservative 2 g3, approach did not work well for Zack primarily because he pushed his e-pawn too early (5 e4). I have said previously Mr. Calderon revels in difficult tactics. This time I think he focused too much on his own attack on the Black King and missed the dangers Mr. Henner was creating for the White King.

Northrup 0-1 Adamec. Mr. Adamec rolled out the venerable Hungarian Defense versus Mr. Northrup’s Giuoco Piano. Cory did a creditable job in the opening and won a pawn as a result. Black’s compensation was a lead in development, a very fleeting compensation if White had been accurate subsequently. Unfortunately Mr. Northrup began speculating allowing Mr. Adamec to maintain the activity of his pieces. It was clear to me Mr. Adamec recognized his opening scheme had not been a success, and he was aiming for an endgame where he’d have the more active piece placement. His bet was Cory might not have the endgame skills to hold off an Expert with his back against the wall. Such was the case. By move 32, though down a pawn, Black had by far the most aggressive Rook. This led to recovering the pawn in a pure Rook and pawn endgame. Mr. Northrup was just short on endgame expertise allowing a conversion to a pawn endgame favoring Black. Carl carried out a textbook exploitation of his advantage to win on move 57. Prior to this game Cory had performed in this event at a 1900+ level, a quite impressive result. A loss to the only Expert in the contest should not damage that performance much.

Mockler 1-0 Chu. Michael notched another win. Mr. Chu played much too quickly I thought while watching the game. He did not show his best against his strong opponent and the game ended quickly.

Phillips 1-0 Miranti. This was not a game finished quickly. Mr. Miranti tried the Albin Counter-Gambit. The opening was one of which I am not all that familiar. While it was going on I did not realize both sides were playing the theoretically recommended moves up to move 9. There Mr. Miranti inadvertently put his hand on the wrong piece, the Knight at g6 and had to move it. Mr. Phillips then failed to take full advantage of his chance here, and the game became a bit strange with the advantage shifting move by move. When the Queens came off, Black had arguably some advantage. The major pieces were traded off, and Black erred by agreeing to the exchange of the last Rook pair allowing White to equalize. Had he kept the Rooks on White was in significant trouble. After this final piece trade White had decent chances in the pure pawn ending. The game rumbled on with the clocks, Mr. Phillips’ in particular, winding down. Mr. Miranti may have had chances to claim a draw if the position repeated three times. The score I have in hand is unclear on this point, and Joel is new to serious chess and didn’t completely understand the rules for claiming the draw and failed to make the claim before actually making the move. In the end John won.

The standings based on points lost are now:

1 Leisner 5½-½
2 Mockler 5-1
3-4 Northrup 4-2
3-4 Henner 4-2
5 Canty 2-3
6 Adamec 4½-3½
7-8 Phillips 4½-3½
7-8 Clough 2½-3½
9 Calderon 4-4
10 Hill 1-4
11 Miranti 1-6
12 Chu 2-7
Withdrew – Varela 3-3

As I expected Leisner and Mockler have gone to the front. Henner has climbed up to a tie with Cory Northrup with his win from Calderone in the Dutch. Most of the rest of the participants are in the pack following the first four guys. Adamec and Phillips made it to +1 for the tournament with their wins Thursday. Hill, Miranti and Chu trail the field. Lots of questions remain: Will Henner stick with his Dutch now that he scored a win with it? And, can he mount a charge to challenge the leaders? Will Adamec, Phillips and Calderon recover their form and reach the higher places their ratings predict? Can one or more of the tail enders reach into their “upset mode” and surprise a leader or two? We have seen all three of them take the scalps of Experts and Class A players in previous tournaments. Stay tuned for the answers, the pace will pick up these next few weeks.

Sunday January 19th was the last regularly scheduled round of the Saratoga Championship. Some games were played ahead of schedule while several were postponed. There were only two games on Sunday evening. The results were:

Little 0-1 Finnerman. The Pirc of course. I tried out something different for me; 4 Bg5. Alburt says this is perhaps the most dangerous line against the Pirc. In the past I have preferred the self-directed line for White: fianchetto the KB and play d3, h3, Be3 and Qd2 with g3-g4, and/or f2-f4 coming. The self-directed line served me well for years collecting a number of scalps; Michelman, Troyan, and other Experts. It is not supposed to be that good, so I gave some thought to expanding my choices. Some study convinced me 4 Bg5, was worth a try. Bringing it out against Finnerman without any practice trials may be was over-reaching. I came out of the opening in good shape although both David and I made a couple of simple mistakes in the early going. The middle game went fine for me and I thought I had some advantage. Mr. Finnerman was just a bit more inspired than I was. I missed some chances to make a better fight and David won. The game ended on move 42.

Kuperman 0-1 Feinberg. This was a Sicilian Defense where White went off-track early on. First an Exchange was lost and then more material. Resignation came soon after. Joshua Kuperman is a bit of a puzzle to me. For example in one game versus David Finnerman, Mr. Kuperman grabbed the bit in his teeth and nearly blew his strong opponent off the board with very pretty combination ending in a King hunt. Another night and there is a very different result versus Mr. Feinberg. When Kuperman is inspired and on ground with which he is familiar the man is dangerous. Other times he is just a middling Class B player. Curious.

The standings at Saratoga, ranked by points lost, now are:

1 Farrell 9½-2½
2 Feinberg 7½-2½
3&4 Little 5-5
3&4 Gausewitz 4½-3½
5 Finnerman 4-5
6 Kuperman 2-8
7 Connors 2½-9½

Farrell and Connors have completed their schedules. Feinberg has two to play; Gausewitz and Finnerman. If he wins both Jonathan ties Farrell for first. It is unknown weather the title will be decided by tie-breaks or a playoff. I have Guasewitz and Kuperman to play. Glen and I are on for next week with no date scheduled yet with Joshua – it is the Super Bowl the week following. Gausewitz and Finnerman have the most games to make-up including their own battle. How well one of these two do will have a good deal to say about where I finish in the standings.

On Wednesday January 22 I was unable to attend the Albany Club’s next round of play. Results and standings will be updated next week.

On Thursday evening January 23rd the next round of the Schenectady Championship was played. The games contested were:

Adamec 1-0 Canty. White took the closed approach to this opening. It was not long before Mr. Canty was in trouble. “Junior” Canty has grown as a chess player over the years I’ve known him. Recognizing he was beaten in a positional sense, rather than giving up Canty found a piece sacrifice that offered hope. Adamec had a winning advantage, but he had to navigate some tricky moments to bring home the point. In sum, the Expert Adamec logically carried out the technical winning procedure, and his Class B opponent made a lively try for counter-play that fell just short.

Mockler 1-0 Northrup. The opening of this game was where the Scotch Game and the Ponziani intersect. Through 12 moves Northrup hewed to lines of play found in the books. On his 13th turn Cory put his Queen on the e-file where Michael’s Rook had taken up residence. That decision loaded the game with tactical potential for White. Mr. Northrup did not quite sense the danger. It took only six more moves for White to garner a full piece as well as retaining a dangerous initiative. The game was over by move 21.

Clough 0-1 Calderon. A short, sharp encounter where Zachary won material and the game in short order.

Henner 1-0 Hill. Mr. Hill tried out a sort of Modern defense in this game. He held the game pretty much equal through the middle game. M It was not until around move 24 when Elihue began to play somewhat conservatively did Peter emerge with some advantage. In the long run, the game was by far the last to finish, Mr. Henner found just enough to win the point.

After this round the standings based on points lost are:

1 Leisner 4½-½
2 Mockler 6-1
3 Henner 4-2
4 Phillips 4½-2½
5 Northrup 4-3
6 Adamec 4½-3½
7 Canty 2-4
8 Calderon 5-4
9 Clough 2½-4½
10 Hill 1-4
11 Miranti 1-5
12 Chu 2-7

Withdrew – Varela 3-3. These scores will not be counted in the standings of the event. The games will be submitted for rating. The above table of results has been adjusted by the deletion of Mr. Varela’s results.

Leisner and Mockler continue to lead. Henner and Phillips are clawing their way back to the top. Adamec and Calderon remain further back than anticipated at the beginning of the event.

Here is recent game from the Schenectady tournament. Zack Calderon has been on a campaign to break the 2000 barrier. He began this quest two years ago with the hope it would take a year or eighteen months. After two years he has established a solid Class A rating. What I found to be true in my day on the same quest is that is it is twice as hard to get over 2000 as it is to break 1800. Required is the defeat of many of the mob of sometime Experts hanging around between 1950 to 1990. In this game Zack tries his luck against Jon Leisner:

Leisner, Jon – Calderon, Zachary [B50]
SCC Championship 2013–14 Schenectady, NY, 09.01.2014

1.e4 e6 2.d3 c5 3.Nf3 d6 4.g3 Nf6 [5.Bg2 Be7 6.0–0 Nc6 7.Re1 0–0 8.Nbd2 Bd7 9.c3 b5?!

Up to here it is one of the miscellaneous lines in the Closed Sicilian. This sort of treatment by White saw a burst of popularity in the 1960s, but it has become far less fashionable in recent decades. The text move is not unknown in theory, but it is not recommended. More common is 9…, Qc7. Also, possibly Black’s best is 9…, e5; giving up on dreams of an eventual .., d6-d5; and making the game into a kind of KID with .., Re8; .., Be7-f8; .., g7-g6; and .., Bf8-g7. White can certainly cross-up that plan in a variety of ways, but the possibility is a way to fight for the initiative The text, 9…, b5; was played by the soon-to-be 2700+ GM Bologan in Germany in 1995. Bolgan was then a rising star on his way to the heights. The move gave him a draw but no more against Hracek, Z.

(393170) Hracek, Zbynek (2595) – Bologan, Viktor (2540) [B50]
Bundesliga 9495 Germany, 1995
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 Nf6 6.0–0 Be7 7.Re1 0–0 8.c3 Bd7 9.Nbd2 b5 10.a4 bxa4 11.e5 dxe5 12.Nc4 e4 13.dxe4 Na5 14.Nxa5 Qxa5 15.e5 Nd5 16.Bg5 Rae8 17.Bxe7 Rxe7 18.Ng5 h6 19.Ne4 Qb6 20.c4 f5 21.cxd5 fxe4 22.Bxe4 Qxb2 23.Re2 Qb6 24.Rb1 Bb5 25.Reb2 a6 26.d6 Ref7 27.Qg4 Rf5 28.Bxf5 Rxf5 29.Qh4 Rxe5 30.Rd2 Bc6 31.Rdd1 Rd5 32.Re1 Bb5 [32…Rxd6] 33.Rxe6 Rxd6 34.Ree1 Qc6 35.Qh5 Rf6 36.Rbc1 c4 37.Re3 Kh7 38.h4 Qd7 39.Rd1 Qc8 40.Qe2 Bc6 [40…c3] 41.Qc2+ Qf5 42.Qxf5+ Rxf5 43.Rc3 Rc5 44.f3 Rb5 45.Rxc4 Bxf3 46.Rd2 Rb3 47.Rxa4 Bc6 48.Rg4 a5 49.Rd6 Be8 50.Kf2 Rb2+ 51.Ke3 a4 52.Rd8 Rb3+ 53.Kf2 Rb2+ 54.Ke3 Rb3+ 55.Rd3 Rxd3+ 56.Kxd3 a3 57.Kc3 a2 58.Kb2 Bf7 59.Ra4 Kg6 60.g4 Be6 61.Ra6 Kf6 62.g5+ ½–½

One of the things this illustrative game and our game today shows is in these debuts where hand-to-hand fighting is delayed for awhile, when joined the battle can become very tough indeed.

10.e5?!,..

While this move seems very natural, it should yield White no real good.

10…, dxe5 11.Nxe5 Qc7?

Leisner Calderon 2

But not this way. Correct is 11…, Nxe5 12 Rxe5 Qc7 13 Nf3 Bd6 14 Re1 Bc6; when the possibility of: 15 Bg5 Ng4 16 h3? Nxf7! 17 Kxf2 Bxg3+ 18 Kg1 Bxe1 19 Qxe1 e5!?; offers excitement and unbalances the material in Black’s favor. White now increases the tension in the position.

12.Ndf3 Rfd8 13.Bf4 Nd5?

This is an error for specific tactical reasons. The move is tempting because White harbors wishes to make something happen on the h1-a8 diagonal, and the text seems to clutter up that line and hits the annoying Bf4. Safer is 13…, Bd6; or 13…, Qc8; stepping out of the line of fire.

14.Nxf7!,..

Leisner Calderon 3

This is what Zack did not see, or he undervalued it.

14…, Nxf4 15.Nxd8 Nxg2 16.Nxc6 Bxc6 17.Rxe6 Qb7

I suspect Mr. Calderon saw this position in his calculations and judged the pressure he has on the long diagonal was going to give him an initiative at least.

18.Rxc6!,..

Leisner Calderon 4

Ruthlessly cold blooded breaking up the mechanism Black wanted; a B+Q battery on the diagonal and a Rook operating on the f-file. White is now winning.

18…, Qxc6 19.Kxg2 Rf8 20.Qe2 g5 21.Qe4,..

Leisner Calderon 5

Mr. Leisner was quite precise in calculating that the pin could be broken before the g-pawn can add its weight to the attack. The White pieces now take up very active posts making the two pawns a lost investment for Black. Soon a third pawn goes and the game ends shortly thereafter.

21…, Qf6 22.Re1 Rf7 23.Re2 Bf8 24.Qd5 Kh8 25.Nxg5 Rg7 26.f4 h6 27.Ne6 Re7 28.Qe5 Bg7 29.Qxf6 Bxf6 30.Kf3 b4 31.d4 1–0

There is little to be suggested over the last ten moves to help Black defend or to speed White’s eventual victory. The game shows us Zachary is not quite able to take on the better local players yet. The operative word is yet. Mr. Calderon’s progress has been exceptional over two years. If he keeps working diligently for the next year or two, there is no reason he can not break through to the Expert title. How much he may go beyond that is to be determined by talent and dedication. With college looming in the not far distant future and the rest of life coming fast after that, his dedication to chess goals will be tested. It is the perennial question about developing players; how much effort can they, or will they be able to put in?

More soon.

Wrapping Up the Schenectady A – Albany CDCL Match

The games in today’s post were surprising. In the first one, the board four clash between Leisner and Rotter, two of the sharper players active locally made a careful draw that struck me as slightly out of character for these guys.
CDCL Match Schenectady A v Albany, Board 4
White: Jon Leisner
Black: Bobby Rotter
Date: 17 June, 2010
1.f4..
Over the past two or three years, Leisner and Rotter have made good progress in the ratings list because they court tension in sharp lines. Both have pet lines of play about which they are very knowledgeable. The Bird’s Opening is one of Jon’s favorites.
1…, d5 2.Nf3 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Be2 c5 5.0–0 Nf6 6.d3 0–0
It is not easy to find games between masters in this opening. I have yet to obtain one of Chessbase’s big databases. With four or five million games there may be more examples found. In the one million or so games in my databases, there are only a double handful of games in the Bird’s. Of those, three or four feature master players on both sides of the game. Absent a goodly number of games from the better players, I had to fall back on my electronic mentor. At this point Rybka sees Black as having a slight edge.
7.Nc3 d4!?
Bobby tries to sharpens the contest. The move lets go of some of his edge because it lacks preparation. More controlled is 7…, Nc6.
8.Ne4 Nxe4 9.dxe4 dxe3
Opening the d-file allows the trade of Queens taking much of the fight out of the game. With 9…, Qb6; tension could be maintained. Both players may have recognized they were facing mirror images and decided to stay away from tactical melees.
10.Qxd8..,
White had choices here. He could have tried 10 Bxe3, 10 e5, or 10 c3. None of these seem particularly better than the game move.
10…,Rxd8 11.c3 Nc6 12.Bxe3 b6 13.Rfd1 Bb7 14.e5 e6
This move sets up a rather inflexible pawn formation for Black, however it has the virtue of limiting possibilities for White. The game is entirely level now.
15.Rxd8+ Rxd8 16.Rd1 Rxd1+ 17.Bxd1 Bh6 18.Kf2 Ne7 19.g3 Bc6 20.Nd2 Bf8 21.Nc4 Nd5 22.Bd2 Bb5 23.Ne3..
Creating some tension with 23 Be2 Bd7 24 Na3 is met by 24… Nc7 leaving White with some initiative but it is hard to see just how significant progress is to be made. The text agrees to a trade of Knights. The resulting position with both sides having a pair of Bishops and no pawn weaknesses offers little incentive to keep the battle going.
23…, Nxe3 24.Bxe3 Be7 25.Bf3 Kf8
Black avoids advancing his f-pawn. That is the only resource available to introduce any kind of imbalance into the position.
26.b3 Ke8 27.c4 Bd7 28.Bd2 Kd8 Draw agreed.
The careful play by these two fighters indicated the importance of the match, the result was certainly going to be a major factor in deciding who was to be in first place at the finish. By the time the draw was agreed, Katrein had resigned his game against Aaron and Leisner, the Albany team captain, was measuring his team’s chances of holding a drawn match. Halving the match point would have kept alive Albany hopes for another League title.
The surprise in our second game was Katrein made an error in sharp position he deliberately brought about. The following week he and I had opportunity to talk about the game. Matt said he had noted the superior move, 22…, Nf3+, and just forgot to play it. Matt is a very strong player and has been so for many years. If my memory is accurate, he acquired the Life Master title before 1980. He, like almost all chess players, has lost games through mistakes, but Matt’s mistakes are not often made when he instigates the tension. This game was the first to finish. The result heartened the Schenectady team by the unexpected early win.
CDCL Match Schenectady A v Albany, Board 1
White: Deepak Aaron
Black: Matt Katrein
Date: 17 June, 2010
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.exd6 cxd6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Be3 Bg7
Katrein has used Alekhine’s Defense for decades. It, and the Pirc are his main weapons against 1 e4.
8.Rc1 0–0 9.Be2 Nc6 10.b3 e5!?
This is risky as this game demonstrates. The move sets White a decision; open a central file with 11 dxe5, or grab a superior Q-side pawn structure while facing aggressive play by Black on the K-side. Mr. Aaron goes for the long term positional plus of a superior Q-side pawn formation. Black could have tried 10…, d5, then a possible line is; 11 c5 Nd7 12 Nxd5 Ndb8 13 Bc4 b5 14 cxb6 axb6 15 a4 e6 16 Nc3 Nxd4 17 Nge2 e4, and so on. Not too many humans would think this way. The computer likes it and calls the game equal. White can continue with 18 f4, and the position is full of tactics.
11.d5..
If the Black King is tied down on the K-side in some fashion in an bare King endgame, the White Q-side pawn mass has excellent chances of forcing a passed pawn. Mentioning this characteristic of this particular game does not imply the position is lost for Black. It does indicate Black will have to be accurate from here forward.
11…, Nd4 12.Nf3 Nxe2 13.Qxe2 Bg4 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 f5
The logical continuation of the idea behind 10…, e5. Black wagers there is compensation to be found in a direct attack by pieces and pawns on the White King.
16.0–0 Nd7
Aiming at bringing the Knight around to f6 if allowed to do so, reinforcing the planned attack, or so I thought at the time. It seems Mr. Katrein had in mind a different plan.
17.Nb5..
Threatening a7 and d6 and thinking probably that Black will have to use some time to calculate 17…, Nf6 18 Bxa7 Qa5 19 Qe3 Nd7 20 Bd4 and the alternatives all of which are quite complicated
17…, e4
Mr. Katrein is not to be distracted. The a-pawn is bait to buy a tempo to be used to speed the K-side assault. Matt did not use a huge amount of time to decide on the e-pawn push. I expect he had been considering his options in this position for a couple of moves
18.Qe2 Ne5
So this where the Knight was heading.
19.Nd4..
Deepak gave some moments of thought perhaps considering 19 Bxa7 Nd3 20 Rcd1 Nf4 21 Qd2 Qg5 which looks near won for Black, and 19 Rcd1 Nd3 20 f3, with things becoming more complicated. Rybka liked the text move.
19…, f4!?
The computer prefers 19…, Nd3. After the game move it gives White an advantage, not a winning one, but a distinct edge. Matt’s move is the logical continuation of the intention of attacking the White King. With 19…, Nd3 20 Ne6 Nxc1 21 Rxc1 Qa5 22 Bf4 Qa3 23 Nxf8 Rxf8 24 Qd2 b6 25 c5 dxc5 26 d6 Bd4 27 Bg5 Rf7 28 Be7 Rxe7 29 dxe7 Kf7 30 Qh6 Kxe7 etc. the computer claims the game is equal. I think it would take the mechanical accuracy of a computer, or the skillful vision and confidence of a GM to go down the computer’s recommended path.
20.Ne6?!..
Not to be outdone Aaron goes boldly into great complications. Safe an sound is 20 Bd2 when White obtains good compensation after giving up the Exchange in the form of extra pawns and a powerful Ne6. The line goes; 20…, Nd3 21 Ne6 Nxc1 22 Rxc1 f3 23 Qe4 Qe7 24 g3 Rf5 25 Bf4. The pawn on f3 is likely doomed, although White must approach taking it off gingerly via ..Rd1/d3/xf3 to avoid problems . Even if Black returns the Exchange on e6 he will only get back one of the two pawns leaving White with a very favorable ending. After the text the tactics come quick and sharply.
20…, Qh4 21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.g3 Qxh3?
Matt told me he had seen the correct move, 22…, Nf3+ and then forgot about it when it was time to play the move. As dangerous as the situation appears to be for White, really the game is even after 22…, Nf3+ 23 Qxf3 Rxf3 24 gxh4 Rxh3 25 Kg2 Rxh4 26 Rh1 Rxh1 27 Rxh1 Bf6 28 Re1 Rc8 29 Rxe4 h5 and the passed h-pawn balances the White pawn plus on the Q-side. Another path to equality is 22…Nf3+ 23.Kg2 Rg4 24.Rh1 Rg5 25.Nxg5 Qxg5 26.Qxe4 Rf8 and the two minor pieces are very well placed to fight against the two extra pawns White has in hand.
The forced sequence that follows gives White a solid advantage.
23.Nxf4 Nf3+ 24.Qxf3 Qxf1+ 25.Kxf1 exf3 26.Re1 Rf8?
Often it takes a couple of errors to lose a game. White has the clear edge before this move. After it is made the game is lost. Notwithstanding the theoretical plus Black has; a Bishop versus a Knight with pawns on both sides of the board, White is much better here. The Bishop lacks targets, the White pieces have an unassailable outpost at e6 and the White Rook threatens to go to the 7th rank wrecking havoc with the Black pawns. Black had to try the risky 26…, b5!?; to get his Rook into action and make fight of it. White will still be better, but Black has chances. The next moves are virtually forced and make the White win clear.
27.Ne6 Rf5 28.g4 Re5 29.Nxg7 Rxe1+ 30.Kxe1 Kxg7 31.g5 and Black Resigns.
If 31…, h5 32 gxh6+ Kxh6 33 c5! And the d-pawn rolls home to make a Queen. Other tries fail also on the rock of White making a passed pawn on the Q-side. Deepak Aaron got some edge early, defended calmly against a furious direct attack on his King and took advantage of his opponent’s errors to simplify into a won pawn ending. A masterly performance. A very nice win for the newest local master.