Friday, June 5, 2015

A New Start in Chess: Portland Chess Club's March 2015 Quad/45

Up until thirty years ago or so, I regularly played in chess tournaments; however, around the mid-1980's my duties as a father took precedence and I have played little since then.

This all changed this past March 21st when I journeyed to the Portland Chess club for a one-day Quad. I prepared well by taking a Melatonin the night before and getting a good night's sleep, plus eating a good breakfast, taking good stuff for lunch, and taking my Prozac and multi-vitamin before leaving my apartment. Still, I was apprehensive, since playing in a Quad meant three tough games, unlike the more usual Swiss System, when the first couple of games are usually pretty easy for someone rated in the upper echelon.

I was put into the highest Quad, with one Expert and two fellow A players. Here are the games.

Michael Goffe (1944) - chessart(1930), Rd. 1
Closed Sicilian, B23

1 e4 c5 2 Nc3

An early surprise. The Closed Sicilian is a notoriously unenterprising opening for white against the Sicilian. I should know, for I played it for years before abandoning it.

2...e6 3 f4

I never could understand the appeal of this move for white. If he trades off his pawn on e4 (after black's ...d5), then the pawn on f4 becomes more of a liability than an asset; i.e., white has weakened his king-side defenses for no good attacking reason. On the other hand, if white pushes to e5, then he has the "big center", but this has been shown to be easy for black to play against.

3...d5 4 ed

A database I consulted shows this to be the worst of the white choices here. The other choices -- 4 Nf3, 4 Bb5+, 4 d3, and 4 e5--all score better: .

4...ed 5 d4 Nf6 6 Bb5+ Nc6 7 Nf3 Be7 8 Ne5 Bd7 9 dc Bxc5 10 Nxd5?

Falling right into my trap. The thematic idea here is indeed for white to try to win black's isolated pawn on d5. However, taking the d-pawn now does nothing to meet my threat of 10...Nxe5. White, playing capriciously and somewhat obliviously, makes his move without thinking through the ramifications. As a result, he pays a heavy price.

10...Nxe5! 11 Nxf6 Qxf6 12 Qe2

12 fxe5 is out due to 12...Qf7#, which is perhaps what white overlooked when he went into this line.

BxB 13 PxN?

Better is 12 QxB+, hoping for 12...Qc6 13 Qe2!, and black recovers his piece. However, I can thwart this with 12...Nd7, but white then at least still has his queen, which gives him some chances compared to going into a hopeless endgame.


White was no doubt banking on 13...BxQ 14 PxQ B moves, 15 fg, with some cheapo counterchances due to his pawn on g7. With 13...Qh4ch, I give white hopelessly messed-up king-side pawns, ensuring an easy endgame for me, with my extra piece.

14 g3 BxQ 15 PxQ Bh5 16 Bg5 Be7 17 Rg1 BxB 18 RxB g6 19 Kd2 0-0-0+ 20 Kc3 Rhe8 21 Rf1 Re7 22 Rg3 Rd5 23 Re3 Rc7+ 24 Kb3 Bg4

This well-timed maneuver gets my Bishop into the game, and from e6 the bishop will guard my pawn on f7, which is my only weak point, as well as participate in the attack on white's exposed king.

25 Re4 Be6 26 c4 Rd3+ 27 Kb4 Rd2 28 Kc3 Rxh2 29 a3 b6 30 Rg1 a5 31 b3 Rh3+ 32 Kb2 Rd7 White resigns 0-1

Either mate or serious win of material follows soon.

Jason Cigan (2139) - chessart(1930), Rd. 2
Grunfeld Defence, D07

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4

There are many possible moves here, 4 Bf4 being the third-most popular after 4 cd and 4 Nf3. For many years I played the Stockholm Variation, 4 Bg5 Ne4 5 Bh4, popularized by GM Mark Taimanov in the 1970's, but I recently decided that it was passe. At some point one must let go of the past.

 4...Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6Nf3 c5 7 dc Ne4 8 Rc1 Nd7 9 cd Qa5 10 Qc2 Ndxc5 11 Nd2 Nxc3 12 bc Na4 13 Nb1 Bd7 14 Bd3 Rac8 15 0-0 Nxc3 16 NxN RxN 17 Qd2 Rfc8 18 e4 Qa3 19 RxR RxR 20 Rd1??

A horrible blunder. I realized my mistake as soon as I let go of the piece. Simply 20 Bb1 and an even game ensues.

20...Ba4 and 0-1 in a few more moves

chessart - Moshe Shai Rachmuth, Rd. 3
Chigorin Defense, D07

1 d4 d5 2 c4 Nc6 3 e3 e5 4 de

4 cd scores better.

 dc 5 QxQ KxQ 6 BxP NxP 7 Be2 Bf5 8 Nf3 NxN+

8...Nd3+ gives white some temporary discomfort, but he remains in decent shape. White can castle queenside if need be.

 9 BxN c6 10 0-0 Nf6 11 Nc3 Bd6 12 e4 Bg4 13 BxB NxB 14 h3 Ne5 15 f4 Bc5+ 16 Kh1 Ng6 17 f5 Ne5 18 Bf4 f6 19 Rad1+ Ke7 20 BxN PxB 21 Rd3 Rad8 22 Rfd1 RxR 23 RxR Rd8 24 RxR KxR 25 g4 Bc4 26 Nd1 Ke7 27 Kg2 Kf6 28 h4 h6 29 Kf3 K 7 30 g5 h5 31 b3 b5 32 Ne3 BxN 33 KxB c5 34 Kd3 a6 35 a4 Ke7 36 ab ab 37 Kc3 Kf7 38 Kd3 Ke7 drawn

Going over the game afterwards, Moshe kept saying during the latter part of it that he thought he had the draw. My response was always the same: "Yes, black has a draw but only if he finds all the right moves!" Moshe did indeed find the right moves, limiting my king in his quest to infiltrate black's position. 

So, I break even in the tournament and gain five rating points. Not a bad (re)start. 

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