Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Didn't Realize This Was a Blitz Tournament!

I haven't made any blog posts for more than six weeks. I was already way behind, posting games from December when it was already March, and now my "time pressure" has intensified and I find myself with 21 games to post. Not good!

I will try to post two or three per week until I am caught up, although already this weekend is out because I will be playing in the Western Pacific Open in Irvine. Anyway, here goes nothing...

On December 15 I played the third round of the Richard Morris Open in Arcadia. My opponent was Tony Grauso (rated 1511), a very nice man who used to have the curious habit of referring to me by both my first and last names. He did it so often that I started doing the same to him, e.g. "Hello, Matthew Hayes!" followed by "Hello, Tony Grauso!" Tony also has some of the worst clock management I have ever seen. I get into time pressure all the time so, believe me, I know when someone else is really bad with it too. Sure enough, this was yet another game where Tony flagged and we had only reached move 24! I had the black pieces in this game.

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. e3 d5!? 

I knew Tony would play the English but I hadn't played this line against him before. It's very interesting and is not a true pawn sac because white can get into all sorts of trouble if he tries to hang on to it. I first saw this line in an excellent video on ChessLecture.com. Unfortunately, I can't remember which lecturer posted it but I think it was IM Bill Paschall. Had white played 5. d3, then black should play 5. ... Bb4  intending to double white's pawns.

6. cxd5 Nb4 7. d3 c6 

This is a slight inaccuracy. I remembered some c6 line from the video but it's better to just recapture the pawn right away. After 7. ... c6 8. e4 cxd5, black is still doing okay but the computer gives white about a 0.7 pawn advantage. Fortunately, Tony did not find the right move.

8. a3 Nbxd5 

I was tempted by 8. ... Qa5, again because I recalled a line like this from the ChessLecture.com video, but it felt artificial here. Indeed, Fritz doesn't like it one bit and thinks the text move is by far the best and leads to an equal position.

9. Nge2 Bd6 10. O-O O-O 11. b4 Be6 12. Bb2 f4 

12. ... a5  was also possible.

13. e4 Nxc3 14. Bxc3 Ng4 

Threatening to push to f3. Tony deals with the threat but not in a convincing way.

15. Bf3? 

Fritz doesn't like this at all and I didn't like it during the game for white either. The problem is that, after black plays 15. ... fxg3, there is no good way to recapture. 16. fxg3 Ne3  drops the exchange, 16. hxg3  loses the bishop on f3, which leaves the text move of 16. Nxg3  but this creates horrible weaknesses around white's king.

15. ... fxg3 16. Nxg3 Qh4 17. Bxg4 Bxg4 18. f3 Bh3 19. Rf2 Bc7! 

Threatening to skewer the rook and king. The rook lift to f6 was also quite interesting.

20. Nf5?

Tony now only had two minutes left on his clock and he has a meltdown. I already knew I was going to win. Even if he somehow made the 20 moves to reach the time control, there is no way he would play accurately. Besides, the position on the board was already crushing (Fritz has it as +3.4 in black's favor). It's a cliche I dislike, but the remaining few moves really were a matter of technique.

20. ... Bxf5 21. exf5 Bb6 22. Raa2 Rxf5 23. Qb3+ Kh8 24. Be1 Rxf3 0-1

I believe this was the third time I have played Tony and he has lost on time in every game. That's something he really should try to rectify. He once told me he would prefer to lose on time and not spoil a nice game by having to blitz out moves. I suppose I can understand what he was saying but the competitive part of me finds that unacceptable. There is no point in playing well and then losing on time. Managing the clock is as important as managing one's pieces. I admit, it's still something I struggle with but I very rarely get into the kind of time pressure that Tony did in this game.

Here is the full PGN:

[Event "Richard Morris Open"]
[Site "Arcadia"]
[Date "2014.12.15"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Grauso, Tony"]
[Black "Hayes, Matthew"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A25"]
[WhiteElo "1511"]
[BlackElo "2133"]
[PlyCount "48"]
[EventDate "2014.12.15"]
[EventRounds "5"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. e3 d5 6. cxd5 Nb4 7. d3 c6 8. a3
Nbxd5 9. Nge2 Bd6 10. O-O O-O 11. b4 Be6 12. Bb2 f4 13. e4 Nxc3 14. Bxc3 Ng4
15. Bf3 fxg3 16. Nxg3 Qh4 17. Bxg4 Bxg4 18. f3 Bh3 19. Rf2 Bc7 20. Nf5 Bxf5 21.
exf5 Bb6 22. Raa2 Rxf5 23. Qb3+ Kh8 24. Be1 Rxf3 0-1

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Move Order Matters!

In round 2 of the Richard Morris Open in Arcadia, I faced Jeffrey Chou, a talented youngster who was rated 1852. Unfortunately, after building up a promising position, I played the wrong move order and went from having a serious advantage to being basically lost in the space of just a couple of moves.

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d5 6. c4 c6 7. Nc3 Nbd7?!

I had decided before the game to play 1. Nf3  instead of my usual 1. e4. I felt that Chou would be less prepared for a positional battle vs what could be a more tactical fight with 1. e4. Sure enough, my opponent makes an inferior move with 7. ... Nbd7. It looks natural enough but 7. ... dxc4  is the only way for black to test white's mettle here. The text move, though hardly an outright blunder, signaled to me that Chou was in unfamiliar territory.

8. b3 Nb6 9. c5 Nbd7 10. b4?!

This is a poor move. Like Chou's 7. ... Nbd7, it's hardly a blunder but it was not a necessary move for me to play. I ignored two of Jesse Kraai's rules here, namely not making unnecessary pawn moves and forgetting to first play the moves that have to be played. Therefore, I should have played 10. Qc2  or 10. Bb2  which are both moves white wants to play anyway, whereas it's not clear yet if white will need to play b4. Perhaps I was afraid of black playing e5 at some point and, if I capture on e5, my c5 pawn would be undefended. However, that's a lot of "ifs and buts" and, if that does happen, white would always have the option of playing b4 after exchanging on e5 anyway.

10. ... Re8 11. Bf4 Nh5 12. Qd2?

I have to put this down as an outright blunder but I didn't realize how serious it was at the time. My opponent correctly takes on f4 and then plays several decent moves in a row, leading to a position where black has a definite edge. Correct and necessary was 12. Bg5.

12. ... Nxf4 13. gxf4 Nf6 14. Ne5 Bf5 15. a4 Ng4 16. f3 Nxe5 17. fxe5 Qd7 18. b5 Bh3?

Up to now, my opponent has played well and taken full advantage of my sloppy play but he now makes a serious slip that swings the computer's evaluation from -0.7 to about equal. The problem black will have is that white is going to neutralize black's kingside play and will then start to make serious threats on the queenside, which black will be ill equipped to deal with.

19. Bxh3 Qxh3 20. e3 Bh6 21. a5 Kh8? 22. a6!

Black needed to play 21. ... Qd7  to help shore up the queenside pawns and reduce white's threats. The text move is a blunder that should have led to a virtually lost position for black.

22. ... cxb5 23. Nxb5 Qd7 24. Rfb1?!

This is the start of me playing the wrong move order. Of course, I had looked at 24. axb7  (which Fritz says is correct) and then figured the game would go something like 24. ... Qxb7 25. Rfb1  with a clear edge to white. Unfortunately, I played 24. Rfb1  first by moving too automatically and, while the text move is actually not a blunder (Fritz still gives white a very slight advantage), I realized at once that I had played the wrong move and became frazzled.

24. ... bxa6 25. Rxa6 Reb8 26. Nc3??

There it is! Having played the wrong move order starting on move 24, I now become completely unglued and play a horrible move that, even if it didn't allow black his tactical shot on move 27, would have still put me on the back foot.

26. ...  Rxb1+ 27. Nxb1 Qf5!

I simply missed this. 27. ... Qf5  is the best move and now my position falls apart. Black is threatening both the knight on b1 and the pawn on f3. I can defend both with 28. Qd1  but that hangs my e3 pawn (and with check too).

28. e4 dxe4 29. Qxh6 exf3 30. Kf2 Qxb1 31. Qe3??

The final blunder. The only saving try is 31. Qd2  followed by 32 Ra2  but black still has a winning position. However, at least white shouldn't be mated any time soon. The text move allows black to swoop in with the rook and crush me.

31. ... Rb8 32. Ra3 Rb2+ 33. Kxf3 Qh1+ 34. Kf4 Qf1+ 35. Kg3 Rg2+ 36. Kh4 Qf5 0-1

This was obviously a disappointing defeat, especially as I had recovered from my suspicious 12th move and had reached a position that was close to winning for me. I then played the wrong move order and, even though my position was still more than tenable, I had a total meltdown and played two or three horrific blunders. Credit must go to Jeffrey who took full advantage of my carelessness and his 27. ... Qf5!  shot was very nice and a move I had completely overlooked.

Here is the game PGN:

(596) Hayes,Matthew (2133) - Chou,Jeffrey (1852) [D78]
Richard Morris Open Arcadia (2), 08.12.2014

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0–0 5.0–0 d5 6.c4 c6 7.Nc3 Nbd7 8.b3 Nb6 9.c5 Nbd7 10.b4 Re8 11.Bf4 Nh5 12.Qd2 Nxf4 13.gxf4 Nf6 14.Ne5 Bf5 15.a4 Ng4 16.f3 Nxe5 17.fxe5 Qd7 18.b5 Bh3 19.Bxh3 Qxh3 20.e3 Bh6 21.a5 Kh8 22.a6 cxb5 23.Nxb5 Qd7 24.Rfb1 bxa6 25.Rxa6 Reb8 26.Nc3 Rxb1+ 27.Nxb1 Qf5 28.e4 dxe4 29.Qxh6 exf3 30.Kf2 Qxb1 31.Qe3 Rb8 32.Ra3 Rb2+ 33.Kxf3 Qh1+ 34.Kf4 Qf1+ 35.Kg3 Rg2+ 36.Kh4 Qf5 0–1


Yu Can't Always Get What You Want

After my success in the American Open, I gained enough rating points to go up to 2133, a new high for me (by one point!). On December 1st, the Richard Morris Open tournament started at the Arcadia Chess Club and I was paired against Gabriela Yu, rated 1536. This was the first time Gabriela and I had played so I wasn't sure of her style or opening repertoire. Typically, one would expect the rating difference to be the decisive factor sooner or later and that proved to be the case when it became clear that Gabriela was uncertain how to play the opening.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb3 Nf6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. f3?

This is already an inaccuracy because now white's light squared bishop doesn't have a good square to go to. If it ever goes to c4, it can be hit by a knight jump to e5. White's 5. Nb3  was also slightly unusual but still playable.

7. ... O-O 8. Be3 d6 9. Qd2 Re8 10. O-O-O a6

10. ... a5  was more incisive, forcing white to make a concession with either 11. a4  or 11. Na4. The former weakens the pawn structure around the white king and, sooner or later, black will get the b5 break in. The latter would put the knight on an awkward square and it would be doing nothing except preventing black from getting in a4.

11. g4 b5 12. h4 Ne5 13. Be2 Nc4 14. Bxc4 bxc4 15. Nc5?

Trying to be too clever. The simple 15. Nd4  was correct, not allowing the following tactical sequence.

15. ... Qa5 16. N5a4 Rb8 17. Kb1??

This is a blunder that just loses. 17. Qf2  was forced, allowing the knight on a4 to escape to b6 if necessary. The text move allows black to win two minor pieces for the rook and still with a nasty attack, or to "lose" the exchange but gain two pawns for it (and still with a virtually winning position).

17. ... Bd7 18. Bb6?

White had to try 18. e5! Nxg4 19. Bb6 Rxb6 20. Nxb6 Qxb6 21. fxg4 Bxg4. White can then force the queens off the board with 22. Qd4  and will be up the exchange but black has more than enough compensation. Indeed, the combination of the dangerous bishop pair and two pawn advantage should be winning for black (Fritz has it was more than +2 in black's favor).

18. ... Rxb6 19. Nxb6 Qxb6 20. h5 Rb8 21. b3 a5 22. a4??

This loses by force to a simple but pretty combination.

22. ... cxb3 23. cxb3 Qxb3+ 24. Ka1 Nxe4 0-1

Here is the game PGN:

(595) Yu,Gabriela (1536) - Hayes,Matthew (2133) [B76]
Richard Morris Open Arcadia (1), 01.12.2014

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb3 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.f3 0–0 8.Be3 d6 9.Qd2 Re8 10.0–0–0 a6 11.g4 b5 12.h4 Ne5 13.Be2 Nc4 14.Bxc4 bxc4 15.Nc5 Qa5 16.N5a4 Rb8 17.Kb1 Bd7 18.Bb6 Rxb6 19.Nxb6 Qxb6 20.h5 Rb8 21.b3 a5 22.a4 cxb3 23.cxb3 Qxb3+ 24.Ka1 Nxe4 0–1


Saturday, February 28, 2015

American Open Round 6: Austin Powers Past the Moscow

In round 6 of the American Open in November, I played Austin Hughes, rated 2195. Although I had the white pieces he was the clear favorite in my mind going into the game (actually, that's probably not a good state of mind to be in!). He has been rated over 2200 before and I had lost a game to him a number of years ago, albeit when we were both rated quite a bit lower.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7

This is the Moscow Variation of the Sicilian, which I started playing years ago when Larry Kaufman recommended it in his interesting book The Chess Advantage in Black and White. I use it primarily as a way to avoid playing against the Najdorf but, like all of my openings, I don't necessarily play it against all opponents. It just depends on their rating and/or if I have a good idea of their opening repertoire.

Black's third move is not forced. Both 3. ... Nc6  and, even better, 3. ... Nd7  are possible. Either way, it has to be said that white voluntarily giving up his light squared bishop in the Sicilian is a bit controversial. However, he does gain some time and note that none of black's kingside pieces have moved yet.

5. O-O Nf6 6. Re1

Kaufman prefers to play 6. Qe2  followed by bringing the rook from f1 to d1, which I have also played many times. Both 6. Re1  and 6. Qe2  are the main lines here.

6. ... Nc6 7. c3 g6 8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 Bg7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. h3 Rad8 12. Bg5 h6 13. Be3

This look fairly natural but Fritz thinks that 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Nd5! Bg7 15. Rc1  is best, with a half pawn advantage to white. However, giving up the dark squared bishop is hard for a human player to do and I think 13. Be3  is a reasonable practical choice.

13. ... d5 14. e5 Ne4 15. Nxe4?

So far, white has been ticking along nicely and had his usual slight advantage out of the opening. White's 15th move is a serious positional mistake, which will end up giving black a juicy square on f5 for his knight, control over the d file, and a central pawn majority. The simple 15. Rc1  was both natural and good, preserving a very minor edge for white. I am not sure why I didn't play this. True, it looks annoying to allow black's knight to sit on e4 but it's not the end of the world. White would still have plenty of reasonable ideas after 15. Rc1, e.g. bringing the queen to b3 or d3 (after playing a3), or to c1 to target the h6 pawn.

15. ... dxe4 16. Nd2 Nxd4 17. Nxe4 Bxe5 18. Bxh6 Rfe8 19. Rc1 Nf5 20. Qxd7?

Very careless. The position is unpleasant but still tenable for white after 20. Qe2!, with the point that 20. ... Nxh6  doesn't win a piece because of 21. Nc5!  when white will pick up to loose bishop on e5. After the text move, white will simply end up down a pawn with a much worse position. The rest of the game is simple for Austin.

20. ... Rxd7 21. Bd2 Bxb2 22. Rc2 Bg7 23. Bg5 Red8 24. Kf1 b6 25. g4 Nd4 26. Rd2 Nf3 27. Rxd7 Rxd7 28. Re3 Nxg5 29. Nxg5 Bh6 0-1

White can save the exchange with 30. f4  but, after black plays Rd4 and e5, everything is falling apart (and black is still up a healthy pawn anyway).

Although this was a disappointing game, the truth is it all stemmed from one bad decision (15. Nxe4) which gave me an uncomfortable, but still playable, position. As is common in chess, one poor move then led to another (20. Qxd7), after which black was just winning.

I decided to withdraw from the tournament after this loss. Having taken byes in the first two rounds, I would have been out of contention for any prizes and the venue was quite a commute from home. I have withdrawn from tournaments before the last round, or the last couple of rounds, quite often but it's a policy I may rethink. Perhaps it is better to play as many games as possible, particularly in a section like this one was (under 2200), when I get still get some good opponents in the last round or two.

Here is the full PGN of the game vs Austin Hughes:

(594) Hayes,Matthew (2133) - Hughes,Austin (2195) [B52]
American Open Orange (6), 29.11.2014

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.0–0 Nf6 6.Re1 Nc6 7.c3 g6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Bg7 10.Nc3 0–0 11.h3 Rad8 12.Bg5 h6 13.Be3 d5 14.e5 Ne4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Nd2 Nxd4 17.Nxe4 Bxe5 18.Bxh6 Rfe8 19.Rc1 Nf5 20.Qxd7 Rxd7 21.Bd2 Bxb2 22.Rc2 Bg7 23.Bg5 Red8 24.Kf1 b6 25.g4 Nd4 26.Rd2 Nf3 27.Rxd7 Rxd7 28.Re3 Nxg5 29.Nxg5 Bh6 0–1


Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Interesting New Chess Clock

I recently stumbled upon a terrific looking new chess clock that is in its final development stages. Developed by Shelby Lohrman, he recently trialed the clock at the Amateur Team East tournament. There is a thread on the USCF website about the clock which seems to have generated a slightly negative reaction, which surprised me. Some people said the clock didn't have enough presets, others said it was going to be too expensive. Well, for one the clock is still in the beta stages and it's possible more presets will be added. Secondly, you can always customize the time controls and save them as favorites. Finally, the suggested prices being thrown around were roughly comparable with the Chronos, which would be this clock's main competitor. As a Chronos owner myself, I know how hard it can be to set properly. I am now used to it but, every now and then, I have to consult the manual if I need to set it to an unusual time control.

Lohrman has three videos up on YouTube about the as yet unnamed clock. From what I can see, it offers several advantages over the Chronos:

1) Easier to set
2) Larger display that includes a second line of text that shows information about the time control, can show a move counter, etc.
3) The ability to copy settings and presets from one clock to another
4) An external battery cover (us Chronos owners know what a hassle it is to have to carry a screwdriver in our chess bags!)

So far, I can see a few disadvantages to the Chronos as well:

1) It seems to have far fewer presets, as forum posters have noted, but my hope is that will change as the clock gets closer to its launch date
2) The price is likely to be comparable to the Chronos but, as the Chronos price seems to have decreased in recent months, the new clock might end up being more expensive
3) It uses the older Chronos style plunger buttons which are great for tactile feedback but wear out more easily

I should also note that I have no idea what the build quality will be like. Those who saw the clock at the Amateur Team East can perhaps attest to that. From the videos, however, it looks sturdy and it very much resembles the Chronos, just with a larger display.

I will be keeping an eye on developments with the clock with keen interest.

Here is a link to a YouTube video introducing the clock:


American Open Round 5 - Dual (or Duel?) Analysis

In round 5 of the American Open in November, I faced off against Abhishek Handigol, an expert rated 2067. He'd had a terrific tournament so far, winning his first three games before coming unstuck against Agata Bykovtsev. Unfortunately for Abhishek, he made some risky, unsound moves against me, particularly leading up to the time control, which left him in a lost position.

Interestingly, Abhishek posted this game on a round-by-round analysis he did of his American Open tournament in his blog on chess.com. I have added some of his comments to mine below.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3 Bg7 4. d4 cxd4 5. cxd4 d5 6. exd5 Nf6

Obviously, I attempted to go into the Accelerated Dragon but white had other ideas. The position has transposed into some sort of Grunfeld. Abhishek said that next time he will play 6. e5  in this position, a move that is certainly more aggressive but Fritz rates it about the same as 6. exd5. A pawn being on e5 isn't as disruptive for black as one might think because the knight on g8 will come into the game via h6 or e7 to f5.

7. Nc3 Nxd5

Abhishek commented that this position now resembles a Caro-Kann, which I can see. The Panov-Botvninik Attack would have a similar structure.

8. Bc4 Nb6 9. Bb3 O-O 10. O-O Bg4 11. d5 N8d7 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Nc5

The computer prefers 13. ... Ne5, with an equal position. After the text move, Fritz thinks white is at about +0.3 but there's not much in it. To my mind, Ne5 was a more natural human move because it attacks the queen, but actually putting the knight on c5 makes a lot of sense because it pressurizes a key defender of the d5 pawn. White would have to acquiesce to a trade of knight for bishop or put the bishop on the inferior c2 square where it's not clear what it is doing.

14. Bc2 Rc8 15. Rd1 Nc4 16. Qe2 Nd6

Blockading a pawn with a knight like this is a key motif, "in the style of Nimzovich" as Abhishek noted. The pawn on d5 isn't truly passed because of black's e7 pawn but the knight is useful on d6 because we don't want white to have any encouragement to push the pawn to d6 himself at some point. The knight may also have the option to come to f5 after a late Qd7 to support it.

17. Bg5 Re8 18. Rac1 a6 19. Na4 Nd7 20. Bb3 b5 21. Rxc8 Nxc8 22. Nc3 Nf6 23. Bxf6?

For me, this is the first real questionable move of the game. I can see no justification for white exchanging off his dark squared bishop like this, at least not for a knight. Abhishek said, "I think it was more wise to avoid trades here. Even if the knight gets to d6 it's just a blockader." I agree it was wise to not trade bishop for knight but don't understand his comment about the knight getting to d6. Surely it's the knight on c8 that will just go to d6 in one move?

23. ... Bxf6 24. Ne4 Bg7 25. a4 Nd6 26. axb5 Nxe4 27. Qxe4 axb5 28. Qb4 Qb8

It looks like black is tied up but, at the time, I thought the position was equal. Fritz agrees, giving a slight advantage to black (about -0.2) but nothing too special. True, black's queen has to defend the pawn on b5 but it's hard for white to attack it with a second piece. White also has to contend with defending the b2 pawn.

29. Re1 Be5 30. f4??

A blunder that essentially costs white the game. I think Abhishek just missed my next, simple move. White needs a plan and I think that was his problem; he wasn't sure what to do and so tried to make things tactical but it backfired. Abhishek said of this move, "Lesson learned: If I DON'T know what to do, just do nothing." Well, I'm not sure it's as easy as that because passing isn't an option in chess (if it was, stalemate and zugzwang wouldn't exist!) but white didn't need to lash out like this. Fritz thinks that both 30. h4  and 30. g3  are reasonable, rating the position as a bit better for black but nothing that white shouldn't be able to handle.

30. ... Bd6! 31. Qe4 Bxf4 32. d6 Qxd6

White was already down a pawn but this just compounds the error. White gets some tactical shots in but still ends up in a lost position.

33. Bxf7+ Kxf7 34. Rf1 e5 35. g3 Re6 36. gxf4 exf4

Abhishek said, "Now I'm down a pawn. whoops. I should have just sat around in time pressure. He was also in pressure so it could have affected him also." True, I get into time trouble so often that, although I should be used to it, it does affect my play.

37. Qxf4+?

Taking with the rook was better. Exchanging queens leads to an endgame that is likely just losing for white.

37. ... Qxf4 38. Rxf4+ Ke7 39. Rb4 Re5 40. Kf2 Kd6 41. Kf3 Kc5 42. Rg4 b4 43. b3 Re1 44. Rc4+ Kb5 45. Rd4?

Now the position really is just winning for black.

45. ... Rc1 46. Rd7 Rc3+ 47. Kg4 h5+ 48. Kh4 Rxb3 49. Rb7+ Kc4 50. Rg7 Rd3 51. Rxg6 Rd5 52. Rc6+ Rc5 53. Rf6 b3 54. Rf4+ Kc3 55. Rf3+ Kb4 56. Rf1 b2 57. Rb1 Kb3 58. Rf1 Rc1 59. Rf3+ Rc3 60. Rf1 Ka2 61. Rf2 Ka1 62. Rf1+ b1=Q

White should resign but he plays on until the bitter end, trying for a couple of stalemate tricks. Ordinarily, I would say this was rather cheap but he had nothing to lose. The game was up anyway.

63. Rf5 Rxh3+ 64. Kg5 Qxf5+ 65. Kh6 Qf6+ 66. Kh7 Rc3 67. Kg8 Rc8+ 68. Kh7 Rh8# 0-1

Here is PGN:

(593) Handigol,Abhishek (2067) - Hayes,Matthew (2133) [D94]
American Open Orange (5), 29.11.2014

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.exd5 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nxd5 8.Bc4 Nb6 9.Bb3 0–0 10.0–0 Bg4 11.d5 N8d7 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 Nc5 14.Bc2 Rc8 15.Rd1 Nc4 16.Qe2 Nd6 17.Bg5 Re8 18.Rac1 a6 19.Na4 Nd7 20.Bb3 b5 21.Rxc8 Nxc8 22.Nc3 Nf6 23.Bxf6 Bxf6 24.Ne4 Bg7 25.a4 Nd6 26.axb5 Nxe4 27.Qxe4 axb5 28.Qb4 Qb8 29.Re1 Be5 30.f4 Bd6 31.Qe4 Bxf4 32.d6 Qxd6 33.Bxf7+ Kxf7 34.Rf1 e5 35.g3 Re6 36.gxf4 exf4 37.Qxf4+ Qxf4 38.Rxf4+ Ke7 39.Rb4 Re5 40.Kf2 Kd6 41.Kf3 Kc5 42.Rg4 b4 43.b3 Re1 44.Rc4+ Kb5 45.Rd4 Rc1 46.Rd7 Rc3+ 47.Kg4 h5+ 48.Kh4 Rxb3 49.Rb7+ Kc4 50.Rg7 Rd3 51.Rxg6 Rd5 52.Rc6+ Rc5 53.Rf6 b3 54.Rf4+ Kc3 55.Rf3+ Kb4 56.Rf1 b2 57.Rb1 Kb3 58.Rf1 Rc1 59.Rf3+ Rc3 60.Rf1 Ka2 61.Rf2 Ka1 62.Rf1+ b1Q 63.Rf5 Rxh3+ 64.Kg5 Qxf5+ 65.Kh6 Qf6+ 66.Kh7 Rc3 67.Kg8 Rc8+ 68.Kh7 Rh8# 0–1


Friday, February 20, 2015

American Open Round 4

I haven't posted in a while, again having been busy with work and life in general. Continuing from where I left off in my last blog post, I played in the American Open in November 2014. After beating Randy Hough in round 3 (following byes in the first two rounds), I had white against Joseph Warhula, rated 1926. I had seen Joseph on the tournament scene for years but we had never played before. The game was a Scandinavian and one where I was always at least slightly better and in control for the entire game. It's always nice when that happens!

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nf3 Bg4

This is probably the move I see most often in this line. I think it's a natural move but harmless enough. 3. ... Bf5  can also be played but is possibly less accurate.

4. Be2 Nf6 5. d4 c6 6. O-O e6 7. Bf4 Be7 8. Nc3

Slightly unusual for me. I typically play c4, if not here than earlier. However, I was reminded of something Jesse Kraai said, namely that you don't want to make unnecessary pawn moves. That means that Nc3 is better on general principles because it develops a piece with tempo, although the c4 push is also good it has to be said. I wanted to do something a bit different here, hence 8. Nc3.

8. ... Qa5 9. Re1 Nbd7 10. a3 Nd5 11. Nxd5 cxd5 12. Ne5 Bxe2 13. Qxe2 Nxe5 14. Bxe5 Bf6 15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. Qf3 Qd8 17. Re3 Rc8 18. Qh5

Black is already in serious trouble. There are mounting threats against the weak points on f7 and e6. White already threatens to play Rxe6+ which would be crushing.

18. Qh5 Qb6 19. Rae1 Ke7 20. Qh4?!

Fritz isn't crazy about this move. The point is that, yes white is threatening to play Rf3 next move and hit the f6 pawn. Unfortunately, black can easily prevent this via 20. ... h5  and 21. ... Rh6. It looks ugly but I can't see an immediate way for white to exploit the strange placement of black's kingside pieces. Luckily for me, my opponent panicked and blundered a pawn.

20. ... Rhg8? 21. Qxh7 Rh8??

Black is probably lost anyway but this move seals the deal. Black will have two rooks vs the queen but his pawns are vulnerable and scattered; just the kind of position a hungry queen enjoys.

22. Rxe6+ Qxe6 23. Rxe6+ Kxe6 24. Qd3 Rh4 25. c3 Rc6 26. f3 a6 27. g4 1-0

Here is the complete PGN:

(592) Hayes,Matthew (2133) - Warhula,Joseph (1926) [B01]
American Open Orange (4), 28.11.2014

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Be2 Nf6 5.d4 c6 6.0–0 e6 7.Bf4 Be7 8.Nc3 Qa5 9.Re1 Nbd7 10.a3 Nd5 11.Nxd5 cxd5 12.Ne5 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Bf6 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Qf3 Qd8 17.Re3 Rc8 18.Qh5 Qb6 19.Rae1 Ke7 20.Qh4 Rhg8 21.Qxh7 Rh8 22.Rxe6+ Qxe6 23.Rxe6+ Kxe6 24.Qd3 Rh4 25.c3 Rc6 26.f3 a6 27.g4 1–0