Final Results on the Schenectady and Saratoga Chess Championships

Greetings,

Here are the results and final standings from the Schenectady and Saratoga Chess Club Championships for 2014-15 based on email correspondence from the club presidents.

For the Schenectady Club, they played a single round robin with 8 players (7 rounds), and finished on February 12, 2015. The tournament was run by Carl Ademac.

This year’s winner for the club was Zachary Calderon, a high school senior, who also played in the annual Albany-Schenectady Club Match in October 2014. Congrats to Zachary.

Here are the final standings for the Schenectady Club:

Standings:

1. Zachary T. Calderon 6.5
2. Philip Sells 6
3. John Phillips 5
4. Carlos A. Varela 4
5. Richard C Chu 3
6. Joel R. Miranti 2
7. Matthew Clough 1.5
8. Balaji Mahadecan 0

As for the Saratoga Club, they ran a double-round robin with 6 participants (originally 7 but Alan Lecours had to dropout after 3 games). After the 10 rounds (not including Alan’s three games), this year’s winner is Peter Michelman. Congrats to Peter.

Here are the final standings for the Saratoga Club:

Standings:

1. Peter Michelman 7.5
2. Gary Farrell 7.0
3. Glen Gausewitz 5.0
4. Jonathan Feinberg 4.5
5. Joshua Kuperman 3.5
6. David Connors 2.5

Thus for the three major clubs in the area (Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga), by mid-February of 2015 we have had the club championships finished, and the champions crowned (Albany: Jeremy Berman, Schenectady: Zachary Calderon, Saratoga: Peter Michelman).

One goal I have is to create a tournament for the champions of the three major clubs, to determine “the best in the capital district.” Hopefully that can happen sometime during late Spring, or after the CDCL. We shall see how that goes.

Soon the Capital District Chess League will begin again. Hopefully we will see the return of last year’s teams, as well as any new participants that are interested in joining. If teams haven’t done so already, they should get their teams together and contact the tournament director so we can get the league started.

Till next time,
Jeremy

News of the Capital District Chess League and a Game

Last week the board of Directors of the Eastern New York Chess Association met in Clifton Park to make official a change in leadership. Michael Mockler is the new President replacing Phillip Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson, after many years of carrying the burden of managing the ENYCA, has moved on to new employment requiring much travel making the change necessary. The sincere thanks of our local chess community has to given to Mr. Ferguson. His efforts kept a central clearing house for local chess news available after the demise of the chess column written by Bill Townsend. Mr. Ferguson also worked with Father John McManus and the Make the Right Move organization to bring in scholastic players. Ferguson and McManus are responsible for much or all of the growth in the number of chess players in the area. It was a job well done by Phil!

Mr. Ferguson will not be completely out of loop with ENYCA. He is on the board of Directors as Past President along with Michael Mocker, President, Bill Little, Vice President, and Alan Le Cours, Secretary. Phil’s parting gift to the ENYCA can be seen on the website, a new set of photographs at the head of each web page. They make the site pretty spiffy I think.

On Wednesday May 7th , the Albany B team hosted the Capital Region team. The Capital Region team was put together a few years ago by its captain and first board David Finnerman. When David came on the chess scene, four years ago I think, the teams in the CDCL were pretty well set in their lineups. Mr. Finnerman wanted to play in the League. Someone, Bill Townsend I believe, suggested David recruit a team of his own from the ranks of other players who did quite have the ratings to make the established teams. So was born the Capital Region Area Players team, or as they laughingly call themselves, the CRAP team.

While the Cap Region team has yet to win the League title, there is no reason to suppose such is beyond their reach. With three Class A players, Finnerman, Jones and Lack, along with the rapidly improving Jason Denham, the Cap Region guys have won matches in years passed and probably well do so this year. Unfortunately, Wednesday night was not a win for the Cap Region guys.

The Albany B team has been the hard luck entrant in the CDCL for a number of years. This season looks to be a different story. They have added Peter Michelman and David Sterner to their roster. Michelman is a long time OTB Expert and a strong correspondence Master. Last year he play for the Geezers. Right after the last Geezers match of the season Peter was in a terrible automobile accident. An uninsured motorist hit him head-on I was told. After many months of recuperation Mr. Michelman is able to play once more. All of us attending the Wednesday night match were most happy to see him among us again. Sterner is a solid Class A player recently relocated to the Capital District from Washington, DC. With these additions the Albany B team will be able to give any team in the league problems.

The results of the Albany B – Capital Region match were:

Albany B – Capital Region
1 Michelman 1-0 Finnerman
2 Sterner 1-0 Jones
3 Alowitz ½-½ Lack
4 Axel-Lute 0-1 Denham

It was a narrow win for Albany B. The last game to finish, Michelman-Finnerman could have gone to any result as it ended up in a time scramble. Here is a board by board rundown of the games:

Board 1: Michelman 1-0 Finnerman. In my mind I predicted this would be the last game to finish. The participants like to use all of the time allotted in their games. The opening was a KID, Samisch Variation, very positional and pretty much even until time began to shorten. A detailed analysis is done later in this post. Down to the final moves almost any outcome was possible. Mr. Finnerman had the bigger problem with time remaining. In a difficult Knight and pawns ending Mr. Michelman saw just a bit farther and more clearly to take the full point.

Board 2: Jones 0-1 Sterner. This was an English/KID opening. A positional debut if there ever was one. Just as the opening was coming to an end both sides threw their center pawns forward making an end to positional maneuvering and begin the tactical ballgame. A slip on move 22 gave Mr. Jones opportunity for a combination that should have resulted in a solid advantage. Joe’s follow-up was wrong and David equalized. An oversight on move 34 cost Mr. Jones the Exchange. The resulting Bishop versus Rook ending with all pawns on one side of the board might have been defended for a great many moves, but with rapidly dwindling minutes on the clock, Mr. Jones did the gentlemanly thing and resigned.

Board 3: Alowitz ½-½ Lack. The opening was the French defense. I thought Jonathan Lack had the better of it out of the opening; White’s pawns were a mess. Mr. Alowitz proved to be made of stern stuff defending dynamically down to a minor piece ending where a draw was agreed.

Board 4: Denham 1-0 Axel-Lute. This was the difficult Benoni Defense. After a dozen year layoff, Paul Axel-Lute recently returned to serious chess. Up against Jason Denham, a most rapidly improving player, the complications of the Benoni were too much for Paul to solve. By move 21 Mr. Axel-Lute was down a piece and a pawn, and the game was over by move 24.

The Albany B team won the match 2½-1½. It will be no surprise if they win a couple of more matches this season. The Capital Region team made a fight of it. Had Finnerman found the correct moves at the end of his game with Michelman the match would been drawn.

Earlier in May, on the 4th , RPI defeated the Schenectady A team. Like the other Schenectady team, the Geezers, the A team is not quite as strong as it has been in recent years. Expert Philip Sells is playing first board for Schenectady A and came through with a win against La Comb. After that result things went badly for Schenectady: Adamec lost to Tran Gao, Calderon could only draw with Furtado and Andrew Feist defeated Bill Townsend. I could not be present for this match and do not have any games from it.

In conversation with Brian Furtado after our game finished he told me RPI had played Albany A also. There the RPI team did not do so well. They lost ½-3½, with Jeff La Comb getting the draw. I do not have the lineups for either side in that match.

On Thursday May 8th the Geezers played RPI. RPI was the home team even though the match was played at Schenectady. The Geezers won to make thier record so far for the year: two matches won and one match drawn. The results by board were:

RPI – Geezers
1 La Comb ½ – ½ Mockler
2 Furtado 0-1 Little
3 Feist 1-0 Phillips
4 Forfeit 0-1 Chu

Board 1: La Comb ½-½ Mockler. This was a positional battle I did not expect to see in a game by Mockler. Michael usually likes a hairy, messy game with lots of tactics. Mr. La Comb began with 1 Nc3, and got into the Torre Attack. A quick clearing in the center after 11 e4, gave Black some control of the open d-file. White moved quickly to prevent this from becoming an asset for Black, and all the major pieces were traded on the d-file. The resulting Bishop versus Knight ending with pawns on both sides of the board, White had the Bishop, did not offer much for either side. The Black Knight had strong points from which he could make threats and cover possible entry squares of the White King on the Q-side. The draw was agreed on move 35. Black may have had some chances to keep trying for victory at the end of the game, but they were slight. At this point in the match I had won my game with Furtado. That win and the forfeit win from the 4th board made a draw in the 1st board game the clincher for a match victory. Mr. Mockler put aside personnel ambition and agreed the draw secure the match point for the Geezers.

Board 2: Little 1-0 Furtado. One more 3 Bb5, Sicilian for me. I have been working on this anti-Open Sicilian line for many years. Sometimes it works well for me, and on other occasions not so good. Recently a couple of opening books came to hand: Bologan’s, The Rossolimo Sicilian, and Neil McDonald’s, The Sicilian Bb5. They inspired another run at 3 Bb5, for me. In this game the opening worked out well. Once again my transition from the opening to the middle game was not quite the best. I chose a risky line to get a passed d-pawn. The play was just tricky enough that Brian missed the shot that would have exposed my gamble. From that point forward I was feeling, without justification, pretty confident. My d-pawn advanced, and Mr. Furtado did not find the best way to resist. I got to wrap the game up with a pleasing sequence that cost Black the Exchange at the least, and left the charging d-pawn still advancing to Queen. We were the first game to finish. That was useful to Michael Mockler in his game. He knew a draw sealed the win for the Geezers.

Board 3: Feist 1-0 Phillips. Mr. Phillips played his usual Philidor/Modern Defense. It did not turn out well for him. I had to leave the club rooms before the game was over. When I departed I thought John’s position was busted. As always Mr. Phillips fought long and hard at a cost to him on the clock. In the final moments of the game Phillips had some drawing chances, but without time to think the several passed pawns Mr. Feist had proved to be too much. The surprising Mr. Feist, a 1400 player, now has taken wins from two Class A players, Phillips this week and Bill Townsend last week. It will be interesting to see how well Andrew Feist does in his remaining games. A successful 3rd or 4th board can be a huge help for a team. Richard Chu , the Schenectady President, kindly provided the info on the Feist-Phillips game.

The strengthening of Albany B, Uncle Sam of Troy and Capital Region teams by their recent recruits may see the final standings shaken up compared to the last few years. Albany A has to be considered the favorite for the trophy this year. The best information I have at hand is the Albany A team has not lost or drawn a match so far this year. The Schenectady A team and the Geezers are weaker than they have been in recent years. The lost match to RPI may well have put the title out of reach for the A team this year. Given the traditionally weaker teams have upped their strength, it is not yet certain the drawn result against Uncle Sam has harmed the Geezers chances for a shot at the title.

Here is the critical first board game from the Albany B – Capital Region match:

Michelman, Peter – Finnerman, David [E81]
CDCL Match Albany B – Capital Region, Guilderland, NY, 07.05.2014

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 Bg7 4.e4 0–0 5.Nc3 d6

Mich Finn 1

A very popular position in Grandmaster practice. Here is how a couple of strong British GM’s handled the position:
(Editorial Note: click on any move in the following Illustrative game to see a chess board and to play through the moves.)

Here is how other strong GM’s played the line:
(Editorial Note: click on any move in the following Illustrative game to see a chess board and to play through the moves.)

Take note of the similarities of the pawn formations in both illustrative games, and the role of the d-pawn in the Jussupow – Hort contest. Making comparisons to our game offers insights about typical tactics and maneuvers in this opening.

6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 Nbd7 8.Nh3 Qa5 9.Nf2 Ne5

Deep Rybka says the game is equal here. While watching I had my doubts about the Knight on e5. Black has to keep d7 free lest f2-f4 discomforts the Ne5, and that will require Black to be very careful in how he develops his pieces.

10.Bd2 a6 11.Be2 Qc7 12.0–0,..

Mich Finn 2

Several months away from serious chess may be the reason Mr. Michelman does not go for 12 f4!? The idea is: drive the Knight to d7 and advance the g-pawn. This notion is to push both Black Knights to the back rank and angle for opening the f-file. With accurate play Black can hold, and there is certainly danger for both sides.

12…, h5

Controlling g4 so if f3-f4 the Knight can step in there.

13.a4 b6 14.h3,..

Preparing f3-f4.

14…, Rb8

I don’t see what this move does for Black. There is no real threat of .., b6-b5; and d7 still has to be kept clear for the Ne5. Maybe 14…, Ned7; to take the sting out of f3-f4 is an idea.

15.f4 Ned7 16.Nd3 Bb7

If there was some idea of making use of a push of the b-pawn, putting the Bishop here seems to say Black has given up on it.

17.f5 Ne5?

Mich Finn 3

Volunteering to block the long diagonal. This can’t be right. Possibly 17…, Nh7; hoping to trade off some Rooks if the f-file is opened is better.

18.Nxe5 dxe5 19.fxg6 fxg6 20.Qc1?!,..

Mich Finn 4

The best positional idea is: 20 a5!, intending to wreck the Black pawns some more. If 20…, bxa5 21 Qa4 Ba8 22 Bc1 Rfc8 23 Qxa5, and Black has four isolated pawns to care for. After: 23…, Bb7 24 Be3 Nd7 25 Qxc7 Rxc7; White has two weaknesses to play against: the shattered Q-side pawns and the f-file. The great Masters all extol this kind of situation for putting maximum pressure on the opponent. White instead bets on K-side play.

20…, Kh7 21.Bg5 Rf7 22.Qe3 Rbf8 23.Qg3 Qd6 24.Qh4?,..

Mich Finn 5

Clearly better is 24 a5, devaluing the Black Q-side now that he has rushed his pieces to the other side of the board.

24…, Bc8 25.Rf3,..

This is less promising than is: 25 g4 Rh8 26 Be3 Kg8 27 g5, and White has made progress. It is not yet a winning position, but after: 27…, Nd7 28 a5 bxa5 29 Rxf7 Kxf7 30 Rf1+ Ke8 31 Na4, holding onto the pawn on c5 is difficult because White can use pressure against c5 to help breakthrough on the K-side: 31…, Rf8 32 Qe1 Qc7 33 Rxf8 Bxf8 34 Qf2, and c5 remains a sore spot for Black. If 34…, e6? 35 dxe6 Nb8 36 Qf6 Qg7 37 e7, and White is winning.

25…, Bh6 26.Bxh6 Kxh6 27.Raf1 g5

Mich Finn 6

Boldly played by Black. The game is very near even now. The time needed for Black to navigate the difficult waters just passed through brought Mr. Finnerman to the edge of time trouble. He had less than 10 minutes for the rest of the game. In a reversal of expectations, Mr. Michelman had about 30 minutes remaining. It isn’t often we see Peter ahead on the clock at the halfway point of a game. He is notorious for falling into desperate time trouble, but not today.

28.Qe1 g4!?

This move is not so reckless as a first glance may suggest. All of the Black pieces are near at hand. Maybe the Black Queen’s activity could be better, but otherwise his pieces are working on the K-side. For White, his Knight is somewhat removed from the scene of action and the Bishop has a Rook in its way. The slight disorganization of the White army and looming time trouble makes vigorous action necessary. Dawdling will only allow White to solve his coordination problems. Trying to stand pat against someone as strong and creative as Mr. Michelman, while short of time, is a receipt for disaster.

29.hxg4 Bxg4 30.R3f2 Qd7 31.Bxg4 Qxg4

Very nicely played by Black. His Queen is very actively posted, and all he used was about two minutes off the clock. The game is even.

32.Qe2 Rg8?

Mich Finn 7

After playing very accurately and achieving an even game, this hasty moves throws the game away. Much better is: 32…, Qxe2; and shifting the Rooks to the g-file to free the pinned Knight on f6.

33.Qxg4 Rxg4 34.Re2?,..

Mich Finn 8

Uncharacteristically, Mr. Michelman misses the tactical killer: 34 d6!

Analysis Position

Mich Finn 9

Now if: a) 34…, Kg6 35 Nd5 exd6 36 Rxf6+ Rxf6 37 Rxf6+ Kg5 38 Rxd6 Rxe4 39 Nxb6, the extra piece and the slaughter of the Black Q-side pawns will win for White, or b) 34…, Rf4 35 Rxf4 exf4 36 e5, is likewise winning after: 36…, e6 37 Rxf4 Kg6 38 Rxf6+ Rxf6 39 exf6 Kxf6 40 Ne4+, securing the dangerous passed e-pawn forever, or finally c) 34…,Rgg7 35 Nd5 Kg5 36 Rf5+ Kh4 37 dxe7, with an overwhelming position for White.

The text move hands back to Black some advantage.

I suppose rust is to be expected when a player is forced away from serious chess for the better part of a year. The uninitiated likely think long bed rest should not have an effect on chess skills, can’t the player practice while he is lying there? Not true. My own experience is when you are unwell trying to work seriously on chess is far from your mind. Maintaining your focus in calculation requires a surprising amount of energy considering from the outside you are not doing anything much except sitting and thinking. Illness or injury, recovery uses up a body’s reserves leaving little to expend on chess.

34…, Kg6 35.a5,..

Peter goes about trying to win the game again. For the aspiring players, it is worth noting re-winning a previously won game is a not so rare occurrence. It happens often in local level chess. The less successful among us miss a win and seem to often go into a “death-spiral” completely losing the thread. Our more successful colleagues reorient themselves quickly, survey the opportunities across the whole board and go on to try again. That is the case here. Earlier Mr. Michelman elected not to break up Black’s Q-side (move 20). The possibility of doing so was hanging around in the background ever since. Now seems to be the moment use this resource.

35…, Nd7 36.Rxf7 Kxf7 37.axb6 Nxb6 38.b3,..

Unfortunately, the late attempt on the Q-side objectively is not enough to win the game for White. Finnerman’s extreme time trouble, at this point he had only 88 seconds left on his clock. David used 51 of those precious seconds to find:

38…, Rf4?

Mich Finn 10

Logical. Black does not want the White King to come closer to the center. The problem is Black would be better served by attacking along the 3rd rank with 38…, Rg3. Then, 39 Rf2+ Kg5 40 Rf3 Rxf3 41 gxf3 a5; gets Black to a reasonably decent position; his passed h-pawn is a worry for White, and the weaknesses at f3, c4 and a5 make it unlikely the White Knight can be drafted away from the Q-side to help out on the other side of the board. This possible position is even.

39.Rf2 Nd7 40.g3 Rf6 41.Na4 Kg6 42.Kg2 Kg5 43.Rxf6 exf6 44.Kf3 f5?

Mich Finn 11

Over the last half-dozen moves White has been somewhat better than Black but nowhere near a clear win. Now down to well under 30 seconds on the clock Mr. Finnerman continues to strive for a win. It has to be a decision fired by intuition. Mr. Michelman was himself down to only a few minutes on his clock. It was enough time for Peter to count out this following forcing sequence. Black could have stood pat with 44…, a5; and asked White to demonstrate how he plans to breakthrough.

45.exf5 Kxf5 46.Nb2 e4+ 47.Ke3 Nf6 48.Na4 Kg4 49.Nxc5 Kxg3 50.d6 h4 51.d7,..

Another more complex path is: 51 Ne4+! Nxe4 52 d7! h3 53 d8(Q) Nf2 54 Qd6+ Kg2 55 Qg6+ Kg1 56 Qf5, with a winning position for White. This line somewhat harder to visualize than the way Mr. Michelman finished the game.

51…, Nxd7 52.Nxd7 h3 53.Nf6 h2 54.Nxe4+ Kg2 55.Nf2 1-0

And the Knight arrives in the nick of time. Even with just a minute left on his clock, there is no doubt Michelman will Queen the c-pawn and execute a mate against the bare Black King, and so, Mr. Finnerman resigned here.

This was a good fight well worthy of a first board battle. I’d be proud to have had either side in this contest.

More soon.

Albany Wins Over Schenectady 6-5

The (almost) annual big match between Albany and Schenectady is over for this year. Thursday evening, October 3rd Albany won by a single point. The final score was 6 to 5 in Albany’s favor. It was tight contest and could have easily been a two point win for Albany or a drawn result. Schenectady was the home team this year and had White on the odd numbered boards. The score by boards was: Continue reading “Albany Wins Over Schenectady 6-5”

More From the RPI – Geezers Match

The pace of the CDCL matches has slowed a bit. We had several played in the last two weeks. The best information I have is there are few matches planned this coming week, then several scheduled in the following week. From this blogger’s perspective this no bad thing. I have a pile of games to write about, and it will be nice to catch up with the backlog. Continue reading “More From the RPI – Geezers Match”