Saturday, September 22, 2007

3-1! (In more ways than one!)

Eddie has already mentioned a lot about the games (more than what I could input). But it was fun to stop by and watch the games. I'd only been there for the opening week heartbreaking loss to Boston, but it was evident that outside of the Boston match, Seattle hadn't really been tested. Eddie was telling me about being there for this match, and being the next real test for the Sluggers, I obliged.

Upon reaching the center a little into the match, my general (and I do mean general) thoughts were the following:

1) Wow. Serper's game has simplified REAL quickly.
2) Orlov's game seems standard and he looks to be holding his own.
3) Readey's game is a bit of a mess. He's got the pawn but almost crammed in there like a sardine,
4) Josh position looks good. I can't place my finger on it, but it seems like Naroditsky isn't able to generate any kind of momentum.

After a bit of looking at the boards, Eddie and I talk about other things for a bit. The next time we look at the position, the most notable thing was that on Orlov's game, he was ahead 58-1 on time and pretty much had Pruess. While it was a little amusing that after the comment was made that Pruess doesn't really resign and 30 seconds later he did, finding out that he had returned from the hospital recently I hope all is well with Pruess.

Back in another room analysis turned to Serper's and Readey's game. Serper played his game well and we could see the ending on the horizon. Meanwhile, we were shocked to see Readey give back his hard fought pawn and after seeing his break on e4, we still weren't sure he was getting enough counterplay. Regardless, things were looking good after Serper concluded his game and Josh (whose game we really didn't analyze at all) we suddenly found was up the exchange and winning his game.

With the victory already in hand, the question was whether or not we could achieve the sweep. But we realized the counterplay he received wasn't enough to gain an advantage. And after Bxf5, the game was pretty much over. While we could see drawing variations for him, it was Donaldson's suggestion right afterwards of 20. Nxa4 that might have been the best play.

So a 3-1 victory gives us a 3-1 record going into next week's match against Carolina. Certainly Carolina's record is well earned given it's early schedule. But we'll see if we can extend ourselves to a 4-1 next week.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sleeping with the Enemy

In a battle between GMs, especially when they have time to prep, a lot is decided by who gets in the first surprise/novelty. It surprises the opponent and avoids the other's preparation. Serper definitely did that with his 1. e4. Technically speaking, its a surprise, but because it was from Serper, it is a novelty. According to my database, Serper has played 1. e4 twice in 2002, once in 2000 against Yermo, and hasn't played 1.e4 fulltime since 1988. It was a beautiful stroke, and I wished that the judges had taken that more into consideration in the Game of the Week voting. I don't know if it would compete with the dramatics of the Eugene-Pascal game, but it was a key game against a team thats been unbeaten since 2005. It was a beautifully played game.

On Board 2, Orlov played a great game against David Pruess. I liked Orlov's position. It seemed that the bishop was going to have to retreat to e3 where it would get exchanged. After that, Orlov has a nice outpost for his knight on e5 and a weak e-pawn to play against. Bxc5 was bad due to the Re5. Though I think Orlov was the only person in the world to see Re5. I missed it, obviously David missed it, and so did all the internet kibitzers, including Pascal who was commenting on it as well.

On 3, Donaldson played a masterful Botvinnik System against Readey, getting the pivotal d5 break in and slowly squeezed Readey. Readey did miss quite a few lines that seems to lead to a draw.

On the final board, Josh did a great job with the closed Sicilian, managing to reach a position with better bishops and a slightly better pawn formation. Then Naroditsky just sac'ed the exchange and proceeded to get grounded down.

Next week, we play against Carolina. They are definitely not to be taken lightly. One of the stronger teams in the tough Western Division. Luckily we only have to play against them once this year. I will do my due diligence as usual, but will not be attending the match, since I will be playing in the U2000 section in Miami. Josh Sinanan will handle the match. And so I'll be sleeping with the enemy. I'm rooming with Josh Friedel and David Pruess for the tournament, so this will prove to be interesting.

Eddie Chang
Seattle Sluggers Manager

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Slugging it out in the Pirc

Going into tonight's match, I suspected Gerald would have something prepared against the Pirc which I played a couple of times last season. But I figured if he plays into a sharp line Black will have his chances as well...

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be3

6. Bd3 is more common, but the text has the point of stopping c5 for the moment.

6... b6 7.Qd2 Bb7 8. e5 Ng4 9. O-O-O c5

(Marcel suggested 9... Bxf3 10. gxf3 Nxe3 11. Qxe3 d5 after the match, but after 12. h4 h513. f5 Kh7 14. Bd3 Bh6 15. f4 e6 16. fxg6+ fxg6 17. Qh3 Black is busted. Book is to trade on e5 now, but I think White ends up a bit better, so I sack a pawn thinking it will be worth it to destroy the White center.)

10. dxc5 bxc5 11.Bxc5 Qa5

I originally intended 11... Nd7 but now I got a bad feeling about the move. Indeed Fritz points out after: 12. Bg1 Ndxe5 13. fxe5 Bh614. Ng5 f6 15. exf6 exf6 16. Bc4+ Kh8 17. Bd4 White is winning.

12. Ba3 dxe5 (12... Rc8 is interesting as well.) 13. h3 Bh6

Playing for complications. If 13... e4 14. Nxe4 Qxd2+ 15. Rxd2 Nf6 16. Nxf6+ Bxf617. Bc4 there's not much comp for the pawn.

14. Ng5 exf4 15. hxg4

I expected 15. Nxf7 But now I don't think it's better than the text. After ...Rxf7 16. hxg4 Bg5 17. Ne4 Qxd2+18. Nxd2 f3 19. Bc4 fxg2 20. Bxf7+ Kxf7 21. Rxh7+ Kg8 the strong g2 pawn compensates for the exchange.)

15... Bxg5 16. Kb1 Rc8

I had been planning to play 16... f3 but reconsidered as I thought it left my K-side to open as well as weakening the long diagonal e.g. 17. Qf2 fxg2 18. Bxg2 Bxg2 19. Qxg2 and black is lost.

17. Ne4 Qxd2 18. Nxd2 Rd8

At this point I thought I was just winning, but now Gerald played and inspired move...

19. Be2!

Now 19... Bxg2 look good, right? But after 20. Nf3! Nc6 21. Nxg5 Bxh1 Rxd1 the two bishops are stronger than the rook.

19... Nc6 20. Ne4 h6 21. Nc5

I was expecting 21. Bf3 but Black looks ok after something like Rab8 22. Nxg5 Rxd1+ 23. Rxd1 hxg5 24. Bxc6 Bxc6 25. Bxe7 Bxg2 26. Bxg5 f3 27. Bh4 Rb4 28. Bf2 Rxg4 29. Bxa7

21... Rab8 22. Bf3Ba8 23. Nd7 Rbc8 24. Rd3 Rxd7

I sack the exchange, which is not bad, but e5 was probably stronger.

25. Rxd7 Ne5 26. Rxa7 (White has the to sack the exchange back, otherwise the black pawns will be too strong.) Nxf3 27. Rxa8 Nd2+ 28. Kc1 Rxa8 29. Kxd2 f3+ 30. Ke1 fxg2 31. Rg1 f5 32. gxf5 gxf5 33. Rxg2 e5

Finally things have settled down to an obscure 3 passer vs. 3 passer endgame. I judged I was a bit better as my pawns a bit further advanced. Now I think White should just get going with c4. Trading Bishops just helps me activate my king.

34. Be7 Kf7 35. Bxg5 hxg5 36. Rxg5 Kf6 37. Rg3 Rxa2 38. Rb3Ra4

In the Tempo blog Peter Bereolos suggested this was an easy draw for White, but I suspect it's already winning for Black. Certainly it's hard to hold w in 30 sec increment play.

39. Ke2 f4 40. Rb8 Kf5 41. b3 Ra2 42. Rf8+ Ke4 43. Rc8 Ra7 44. Rc4+ Kd545. Rc8 Rh7 46. b4 e4 47. Rc5+ Ke6 48. Rc4 $2 Rh2+ 49. Kf1 Kd5 50. Rc8 e3 51.Re8 Rxc2 52. b5 Rb2 53. Rf8 Ke4 0-1

Whew! What a tough game! Maybe I should play the Petroff next time?


Tolilet Reading

I don't get a chance to play many tournament games these days. Weekend tournament games always seem to interfere with summer BBQs and weekend football games. So its always fun to play for the Seattle sluggers and play some fresh up and coming plays via the internet.

Tonight I played Jerry Wheeler in an a fairly 'tame' sicilian. Going into the round, I had asked a friend of mine to tell me what Jerry played against e4 and d4. The results were sort of disturbing in that against e4 he seems to be play either hyper-accelerated dragons (1..c5 and 2..g6) or 1..g6 moderns. While neither is terrifying, they both leave a lot of room for creativity and are hard to prepare concrete lines for.

Based on this I decided to do my usual crappy preparation by picking 3 opening books from my shelf and leaving them in my bathroom. My wife always seems to complain about how long it takes me to go the can and it is usually attributed to me finding some interesting line and me scribbling some notes in the margin.

Last nights 'bathroom' notes were as follows:
1e4 c5 2Nf3 g6 (Jerry) 3c3 Bg7 4d4 cd4 5Bc4!? Without fritz or chess base this seemed like a fun line to try for the chess league since it stoped 5..d5 (which is the usual move after 5 cd4 d5). It also seemed that 5..dc3 6Nc3 transposed into a super sharp and risky fiancheto line for black in the Smith Mora. I had good dreams last night...

John Ready ruined my prep by saying 5 minutes before the round that if he had black he would either play 5..d3 or 5..d5!? (anyway!).

Jerry plays 2..d6 in the Sicilian. While I did see Jerry had a few dragon games back in the late 90's this made me thing that their team had prepared some lines in either the Najdorf or the Rauzer (both of these I have had some published games against GM's the last few years...).

1e4 c5 2Nf3 d6 3Bb5+ I should also mention I picked up Richard Palliser "The Bb5 Sicilian" in 2006 while at the National Open. This made it to my bathroom shelf as well....3..Bd7 4Bd7 Qd7 5 c4 (The old main line and quite safe of preparation. Now days 'the Rub' prefers 5 c3.)
5..g6 (I was sort of hoping for 5...Qg4 6 0-0 Qe4 7d4 with compensation) 6 0-0 Bg7 7 d4 cd4 8Nd4 Nf6 9f3!? (Around here I was remembering the recent Kamsky game and a Rub. game where black easily equalized with 9Nc3 0-0 10f3 Rc8! 11b3 d5! I did not want this happening and had not really prepared anything....)
9...0-0 10Be3!? (10Nc3 see above) Rc8 (I wonder was my opponent thinking this was the Kamsky game?!) 11 b3 a6!? (It seems this is interesting and fine, but also playable is 11..Nc6 with +=/= game.) 12Nc3 (Rightly or wrongly not worrying about ..b5) 12...b5 (..Nc6) 13Nd5 Qb7 (13..Nd5 seemed slightly better for white with little risk). 14a4!? (Perhaps 14 Rc1 is more acurate since the ..bc4 is bad currently because of the positio of the black queen on the b-file after 15bc4 and Rb1.
14..e5!? This was a supprise but both fritz and crafty rank this move high.) I was thinking more along the lines of either 14..bc4 15bc4 Nd5 16 cd5 += or 14..b4 15Qd2 Nd5 16cd5 Nd7 +=
14Ne2 Nd5 15 Qd5 += Qd5 16cd5 ba4 17Ra4 Nd7 18Rfa1 (Perhaps black should have tried 18..f5 first?) 19..Rc2 (This looks agressive but there are may lines where the black back rank is weak or it alows Rc1 ideas and favorable trades.)
20 Kf2 Nb8 (20..Rb8 21 Ra6! Rb3 22Rc6 a key idea when I was thinking about these lines.+/- This will win the d-pawn at the minimum.)
21b4 ( I like this move. It seems cleaner than 21 Rc1 which is also good.) 21..Rb2 22Rc1 Nd7(box) 23Rc7 Nf6 +/- 24Rb7 This seems stronger to me than the fritzy 24Bc1 Rb3 25Rc6
24..Rc8? The move I was hoping for. Still the position is difficult for black. 24..h6(fritz) 25b5 a5 26b6 Rc8 27Rc7 Rc7 28 bc7 Rc3 29Bb6 Ne8 30Ke3! Nc7 31 Kd3 Na8 32Kc2 Nb6 33Ra6 +-
25Ra6+-Rc2 26 Ra8+ Bf8 27Bh6 Re2 28 Kf1 1-0

I think I'll add a few more books to the bathroom collection before next week.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Week 3 - Part 2

Well, looks like Bereolos's prep against Schmidt is interesting. I wonder if he found improvements, since this game is identical to one Loren played in a postal game. John seems to be down a pawn on board 4. I'm don't really play the Pirc, or all that good at chess, but it seems John has some compensation for it, just how much is the question. Eric's game just looks like all of his other games. I predict this will be a long one.

Week 3 vs Tenn

Well, week 3 has started, and its time for me to get nervous. Every week, I spend a lot of time working on the lineups and when the week starts, my heart starts to pound. I hate not being able to affect the outcome of the match. All I can do is watch from the sidelines. No pinch hitters, no calling to the bullpen for help, no running of gadget plays, or calling for a corner blitz. Just sitting and watching intently.

There were no real opening surprises except that Todd Andrews played e4 instead of the d4 that we've seen. He must have a prep for Loren's Alekhine. We'll see how that plays out later.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Sluggers Rebound in Week 2

The Seattle Sluggers captured there first match victory of the 2007 season with a dominating performance against Miami. A last-minute substitution on Miami's board 4 seemed to give the Sluggers a clear edge on the bottom boards going into the match. Loyal Sluggers fan Drayton Harrison, who was on site at the Chess4Life Center, recorded his observations and posted them on the NW Chess Forum:

Board 1: Becerra played g3/Bg2 against Serper's Kan Sicilian and quickly lost or sacrificed his e4-pawn. Serper took the pawn and spent a lot of time on the clock, eventually reaching a possibly-winning rook endgame before accidentally repeating the position 3 times. 62...Rh5 63. b3 Rg5 would have put white in zugzwang, according to Serper. At least this game secured a team victory, while the board 2 game was still in doubt.

Board 2:
This game started late, although Tangborn was ready to play. Martinez did not have a penalty on the clock. Consequently this game was the last to finish. In the symmetrical English, the advantage shifted back and forth several times (both sides missed opportunities, for example check out white's 41st and 45th moves, and black's 50th, 52nd, 55th and 56th moves) until the end, Tangborn saving the game with 57.Bf1!!, followed by Martinez losing a piece with 57...Be5??. The players commented that Martinez must have been under a lot of pressure to salvage a point for honor after the Miami team had been defeated.

Board 3:
In contrast to the prediction from this forum, Espino played 1.d4, giving Mikhailuk a perfect opportunity to show off his mastery of the isolated queen's pawn in the Tarrasch Defense. White never managed to stop black's initiative and resigned on move 49. There was plenty of time left on the clocks, but no time left on the chessboard, as it was checkmate in 2 more moves. (So much for holding out longer in a team match.)

Board 4:
Sinanan, playing white against Mederos, also found himself in the Symmetrical English. Instead of fiddling around on the flank with a3/Rb1/b4, he seized the center with 7.d4 and established the Maroczy bind with 9.e4. His superior central position allowed him to prepare a kingside attack, but when his opponent floundered about for lack of space, he changed plans, won the exchange, traded queens and won another piece. (Looks like Mederos, not Sinanan, needs that lesson from Schill...)

This was an important get-back-on-track match for the Sluggers after a disappointing loss to Boston in week 1. Perhaps most relieved was team manager Eddie Chang, who sweated the games from L.A., where he was out of town on family business. Next week the Sluggers take on Tennessee, where they hope to build on this week's victory.