Sunday, April 17, 2011

Northwest Illinois $5 Open

With 26 entrants in two sections, the Northwest Illinois $5 Open was our most successful rated tournament to date. For the first time, I'm pleased to say, we drew players from Iowa, a milestone we've been hoping to pass for some time. In addition, many of our participants were new to rated chess: 11 out of the 18 players in the U1000 section were unrated, including Juan Meraz of Rockford, who won the section. Congratulations, Juan! (His daughter Yesenia, a veteran of the Rockford Chess Challenge, finished eighth.)

Our eight-player open section was won by Luis Peralta of Moline. Both Luis and Juan finished the day with perfect 4.0 scores. (Complete standings may be found on our tournament results page; click here for official crosstables and post-event ratings.)

Also, there were doughnuts. Lots and lots of doughnuts. And snow. What was up with that?

W.Engel (1684)–L.Peralta (1922)
Northwest Illinois $5 Open (3)
Freeport, Ill., April 16, 2011

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 h6 4.f4 d6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.fxe5 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 dxe5 8.Qg3 Qd6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.0-0 0-0-0 11.Be3 a6

12.Bxf7 Qb4 13.Bb3 Kb8 14.Rf3
Will is clearly trying to double his rooks on the f-file, but 14.Rf2 is the better move for this. 14.Rf3 cuts the bishop off from the queen, leaving it defenseless. Even better than 14.Rf2 is 14.a3, chasing away Luis's bold queen before centralizing Will's queen's rook.

Passing up the opportunity to challenge Will's momentarily defenseless dark-square bishop, thereby forcing him to trade that good piece away.

15.Qg6 Nhf6
15...Nf4!? 16.Bxf4 exf4 17.Rxf4 Ne5 blunts Will's advantage by forcing him to trade away some kingside cover, leaving open the diagonal his king is sitting on.

16.Raf1 Nc5 17.Nd5
It's not too late to chase that queen away with 17.a3.

17...Nxd5 18.exd5
Why weaken an active bishop by dropping a pawn in its path? Better to retake with the bishop, even though it means giving up the pawn on b2.

18...Nxb3 19.axb3 Qb5 20.Qe6 Bd6 21.Rf7 g5
21...Rhe8 drives Will's impertinent queen back to the kingside: 22.Qg4 Bc5 23.Bf2 Rxd5 Qxg7.

As an alternative, 22.c4!? gains queenside space while patching the gap in Will's pawn structure.

22...Rde8 23.Qh3 Qxd5 24.c4 Qa5

Not the piece-losing 25.Rxh6?? Rxh6 26.Qxh6 Qe1+ 27.Rf1 Qxe3+ 28.Kh1 Qe2.

25...Bc5 26.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 27.Qe3 Qb4 28.h4?
Will gained a significant advantage early on, but it's been dwindling away. This miscue allows Luis to turn the tables on him. 28.Qe1 Qxb3 29.Qc3 is Will's best chance to keep the game close.

28...Qxb3 29.hxg5 hxg5 30.Qd2 e4 31.dxe4 Qxc4

Oof. Will isn't normally one to miss something like the two attackers trained on his e-pawn. He can defend it directly with 32.Qe3 Qc2+ 33.Qe2, or take a subtler damage-control approach with 32.Qc3 Rxe4 33.Qxc4 Rxc4 34.Kg3.

With Will's queen out of the way, 32...Qxe4! is the superior capture. The continuation 33.Qd2 Qh4+ 34.Kf3 Rhg8 reminds me of Spider-Man whipping around, wrapping up a bad guy in webbing. Ain't no getting out of that.

33.Rf8+ Rxf8 34.Rxf8+ Ka7 35.Qh5
Another dangerous misstep: 35...Qd4+ 36.Kg3 Qd6+ 37.Kh3 Qxf8 wins Will's rook.

35...Qc2+ 36.Kg1 Qxb2 37.Rd8
37.Qc5+ Qb6 38.Qxb6+ Kxb6 39.Rf6+ c6 40.Kf2 is the best of a lot of bad choices.

37...Qc1+ 38.Rd1 Qe3+ 39.Kh1 Re5
The slick 39...Qf2 40.Qg5 Rh4+ 41.Qxh4 Qxh4+ 42.Kg1 wins Will's queen for a rook.

40.Qf7 Qe2 41.Rf1 c5 0-1
There's still some fight left in the position, but none in Will -- he resigns.

K.Conter (589)–J.Meraz (unr.)
Northwest Illinois $5 Open (4)
Freeport, Ill., April 16, 2011

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.h3 Bxf3 4.exf3 a6 5.g4 Nc6 6.c3 e6 7.Bd3 h6 8.Bf4 g5 9.Be3 Bd6

Ken's kingside pawn structure is too badly damaged for castling to seem like a good idea, especially with that bishop on d6 staring right down an open diagonal into the king's corner. Qb3, Nd2 and castling queenside seem like a better plan, perhaps accompanied by a pawn push on the h-file.

10...h5 11.Bd2?
Missing the danger. Ken has the option of gumming up Juan's pawn attack with 11.h4 gxh4 12.g5.

Better to precede this with 11...hxg4 12.hxg4, bringing the king's rook into the attack.

Moving the pawn from relative safety to a thrice-attacked square. Eep.

12...gxf4 13.gxh5 Qg5+

Ken has only three possible replies. The worst is 14.Kh2?? f3+ 15.Kh1 Qg2#. The best is to block with his queen, daring Juan to trade. Juan will take the dare, but not without exacting a price first: 14.Qg4 Qxh5 15.Qxh5 Rxh5 16.Be2.

14.Kh1 (That's the third.) Rxh5 15.Kh2
A bitter error, placing the king directly in the sights of a discovered attack. Better to blockade the f-pawn with 15.Qf3.

15...f3+ 16.Bf4 Bxf4+ 17.Kh1 Qg2# 0-1
...Qg2# is also possible on move 16.

Thanks to all our players and other guests, and special thanks to Carl Woll, who generously agreed to take notation for a player with a motor disability.

See you in May at the Pecatonic Octads!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Game of the Week

In honor of our newly elected president (Will Engel) and treasurer (Steve McWhirter) . . .

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., April 12, 2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 e6 4.Bxc4 a6 5.a4
Steve might play ...b5, but that's nothing to worry about; it's easy enough for Will to step away with Bd3. 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nc3 takes a commanding lead in development.

5...Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.f3
7.e5 deals with the threat of ...Nxe4 just as well, and gives Will a slight advantage.

7...0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 g5
That bishop is not going to get trapped. If Steve picks a fight with 9...c5!? 10.dxc5 Nbd7, then even though he's a pawn down, e5 is no longer a threat, while ...Qa5 is.

10.Bg3 Nc6 11.Nge2 Na5 12.Bd3
Deactivates Will's light-square bishop by tucking it back behind the pawn chain. 12.Ba2 keeps it powered up.

12...c5 now possesses added menace, as after 13.dxc5, Will's light-square bishop is pinned.


Except for that bishop on d3, it's looking good for Will so far. Not so much for Steve: his pawn structure and piece placement are haphazard, and he's behind in development.

13...b5 14.Bb1 Nc4?
It should be a good move, but it treads perilously close to a hidden bomb: 15.e5 Bxc3 16.exf6 Bxd4+ 17.Qxd4 Qxd4 18.Nxd4 Bd7, and Steve's surviving bishop is looking forlorn, consigned to pawn protection duty.

15.b3 Na5??
Tragically missing 15...Ne3, forking rook and queen -- Steve's last chance to keep a lid on Will's game.

Good, but 16.e5 is still better.

16...Nd7 17.e5 (at last!) f5 18.exf6

It's got to be 18...Rxf6, because of what happens next.

19.Qg6+! Kh8 20.Qxh6+ Kg8 21.Qxg5+
21.Qg6+ Kh8 22.Ne4 Ra7 23.Nxf6 Qxf6 24.Be5!! Qxe5 25.dxe5 is even better.

21...Kf7 22.axb5
22.Bg6+ is even more powerful.

22...Rg8, driving back the queen, gives Steve a little more room to breathe.

Even better is 23.Qg6+ Ke7 24.Bh4.

23...Nxe4 24.Qh5+ Ke7 25.Bxe4
25.Bh4+! demolishes what's left of Steve's defenses: 25...Nf6 26.Qh7+ Rf7 27.Bxf6+! Kxf6 28.Qh4+ Kg7 29.Qxd8.

25...Kd7 26.Bh4 Be7 27.Qh7 Bb7 28.b4 Nb3 29.Rxa8 Rxa8 30.Nc3 Nd2 31.Re1 Nc4

A crafty tactic, but in fact, Will has a quiet move that's downright devastating. Can you find it? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

After 32.Ra1!! Bb7 33.Ra7 (threatening 34.Bxe7!) Kc8 34.Qxe7 Qxe7 35.Bxe7 Rf7 36.Bc5 Rg8 37.Bxc6 Rxg2+ 38.Kxg2 Bxc6, white is up a rook and two pawns, and black is bereft of options.

32...cxb5 33.Bxa8 Nd6
If 33...Re8 then 34.Bc6+! Kxc6 35.Rxe6+ Kc7 36.Bg3+ Nd6 37.Bxd6+ Qxd6+ 38.Rxd6 Kxd6 39.Qg6+ Kd7 40.Qf5+ Kd8 41.Qd5+ Kc8 42.Qa8+ Kd7 43.Qb7+ Kd8 44.Qb8+ Kd7 45.Qxb5+. Where did all black's cover go?

Will has one more unpleasant surprise for Steve. Think you know what it is? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

34.Bd5! Rf7 (34...exd5 35.Rxe7+) 35.Bxe6+ 1-0
Checkmate is just over the horizon after 35...Kc6 36.Bd5+ Kxd5 37.Qc2.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Three Spring Events! THREE!

Northwest Illinois $5 Open

Saturday, April 16, Community Services Center (Building R), Highland Community College, 2998 W. Pearl City Road, Freeport, Ill. (park in Lot B -- map). 4/SS, G/45. Entry fee: $5. Prizes: Every entrant will receive a free doughnut. Registration: 9–9:45 AM or online (select "$5 Open" and click "Register" button at right). Rounds: 10 AM, 12:15, 2, 3:45 PM. U.S. Chess Federation membership required; one-day tournament memberships available. In two sections if 24 or more entrants. Nonsmoking, wheelchair-accessible, sets provided, bring clocks.

Whether you’re interested in a low-cost, low-risk introduction to chess or just a wallet-friendly way to get your game on, you won’t find a better bargain in the region than this four-round fracas. Bring a friend!

Pecatonic Octads

Saturday, May 21, Room H201D, Student/Conference Center, Highland Community College, 2998 W. Pearl City Road, Freeport, Ill. (park in Lot A East -- map). 3/SS, G/65 (bottom section 4/SS, G/45). Eight players per section; bottom section may include 6 to 13 players, depending on entries. Entry fee: $10 ($6 for club members). Prizes: $40 first place, $20 second place in each octad; $20 first place in bottom section. Registration: 9–9:45 AM or online (select "Octads (nonmember)" or "Octads (member)" and click "Register" button at right). Rounds: 10 AM, 12:45, 3 PM (bottom section 10 AM, 12:15, 2, 3:45 PM). USCF membership required; one-day tournament memberships available. Nonsmoking, wheelchair-accessible, sets provided, bring clocks.

Octads combine the leisurely time control and close competition of quads with the variety of a Swiss. Come on out and try it!

PWNED! III Youth Chess Tournament

Saturday, May 28, Freeport Public Library, 100 E. Douglas St., Freeport, Ill. (map). 4/SS, G/30, FREE! In three sections: K–3 (USCF-rated), 4–6 (unrated), 7–12 (unrated). Prizes: first-, second- and third-place trophies in each section. Registration: 9–9:45 AM or in advance at library Youth Services desk. Rounds: first round at 10 AM, later rounds ASAP. USCF membership not required in upper sections; one-day tournament memberships are free in K–3 section. Lunch break between rounds 2 and 3. Sets provided, bring clocks.

Our third totally free, all-scholastic tournament, presented in cooperation with the Freeport Public Library. If you're a young player who's been wondering how your skills measure up, this is your chance to find out.