Saturday, March 6, 2010

Games of the Week

An ignominious week for me, as my tired play allowed not one but two club members to leapfrog me on the ladder; also, Vincent Do came back to join us, and I got to experience my own defeat at his hands, an opportunity I'd been denied while directing Saturday's tournament.

I was doing all right in this game against Bill Koester until I overlooked an obvious tactic:

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Illinois, March 2, 2010

1.d4 c5?! 2.d5 d6 3.e4 Nf6 4.Nc3
This oddball sequence has a name: Schmid Benoni.

4...Qa5 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.a4 a6 8.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 9.b3 Ne5

It won't win any prizes for elegance, but I'm holding my own so far. However, I've let Bill gain an edge in development. I should do something about that.

10.Nf3 h6 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.Be3
Castling is the safer bet.

12...Qb4!? 13.Bd2 Nxe4 would have turned the tables on me.

13.0-0 exd5 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.Qxd5 Rd8
15...Qc7 was better.


With some of the clutter cleared away, it's looking nice for white.

Bill's best bet is to trade queens with 16...Qe6 17.Qxe6+ fxe6 18.Rad1. It's the sort of thing Bill usually does; I'm not sure why he doesn't do it here.

Fritz maintains that 17.Rad1 is better, offering as justification the pretty 17...Kf8 18.Bxc5 Bxc5 19.Rxd8+ Qxd8 20.Qxc5+ Kg8 21.c4. This sequence doesn't work with 17.Rfd1, because after 18...Bxc5, black threatens to plug white's king through the underdefended f-pawn.

A blunder that I could have exploited with 18.Qxe7 Rde8 19.Qxc5. Alas, I miss two crucial tactical points: not only the hanging bishop, but also what that bishop can do if I don't kill it immediately . . .

18.Rd5? Bf6!

No further good can come of this. I resign two careless moves later, with checkmate imminent.

So that's one game. Now watch how 7-year-old Vincent, already a strong club player by adult standards, takes me apart.

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Illinois, March 2, 2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 Bd6 6.Nc3 c6 7.a4 0-0 8.0-0 Qc7 9.Re1 Ng4

Ten moves into a Queen's Gambit, and he's already got an attack going. Look at all the firepower aimed at h2. Could I have prevented it? Yes: 8.e4 sets up a pawn fork threat that forces black's bishop off the diagonal. Even after 8.0-0 Qc7, it's still not too late for 9.e4.

Better is 10.h3 Nf6 11.e4. "Back, foul fiend!"

10...Nxe5 11.dxe5 Bxe5 12.f4 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Nd7 14.Ba3 Re8
A minor slip, allowing 15.Bd6!?. But I don't see it; instead, I try to get a kingside attack going, an ill-advised idea that allows Vincent to smack me around.

15.Qh5 Nf6 16.Qh3 e5! 17.Qh4 Be6 18.fxe5?
Better to trade bishops and regain the initiative with 18.Bxe6 Rxe6 19.f5.


I'm now a pawn down in a shambles of a position. Vincent's side, meanwhile, is fortified like Frosted Flakes, and he's threatening 19...Qxc3. During the game itself, I didn't appreciate how full of potential this position is, but Fritz practically explodes with variations at this point.

Here's what Fritz has to say:
19.Rab1 Qxc3 20.Bxe6 Qxa3 (20...Rxe6!? 21.Bb2 Qd2 22.Bxf6 Rxf6 23.Rxb7; 20...fxe6?! 21.Bb2 Qc5 22.Bxf6 gxf6 Qxf6=) 21.Bxf7+ Kxf7 22.Qc4+ Kf8 23.Rxb7 Re7 24.Qxc6 Rae8 (24...Rxe3?! is no comparison 25.Rf1 Kg8 26.Rxg7+ Kxg7 27.Qxf6+ Kg8 28.Qf7+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kg8 30.Qf7+ Kh8 31.Kg8=) 25.Rxe7 Qxe7−+

19...Qxc3 20.Bb2?? (20.Bf1) Qxb2 21.e4 Qd4+ 22.Qf2 Qxd3 23.Rad1 Qa6 24.e5 Ng4 25.Qf4 Qb6+ 26.Rd4 Rad8 27.Red1 Rxd4 28.Rxd4 Rd8 0-1
It's mate in 4. Nicely done, kid.


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