Thursday, August 28, 2008

Season Opener

Suddenly it's that time of year again -- and the Sluggers are playing their first match of the season. The pre-match buzz had us as slight favorites over Miami (esp. as Beccarra wasn't playing), but we knew it'd be a tough match.

Lugo,Blas (2393) - Readey,John (2296) [B07]USCL, 27.08.2008

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 Nf6

This was my first time playing Blas, but from my brief review of his games, I could see he had
a straight forward attacking style. I'm not surprised he goes into one of the sharpest lines against the Pirc.

5.f3 c6 6.Qd2 Qa5

I swing my Queen out to discourage q-side castling, but...

7.0-0-0 b5 8.Kb1 b4 9.Nce2 Nbd7 10.Nc1 Rb8 11.h4 h5 12.Nh3 Ba6?

I was having a tough time getting focused in this game. There was a lot of commotion due to problems with the computers and such. My last move doesn't look best.

13.Nb3 Qa4

Here I thought White had a simple line to a clear edge: 14.e5 dxe5 15.dxe5 Nd5 16.e6 fxe6 17.Bxa6 Qxa6 18.Nf4+/-. I was relieved when he played:

14.Bd3 Bxd3 15.cxd3?! Qb5 16.Nf2 a5 17.g4 0-0

I thought Black was doing fine here.

18.Bh6 Kh7?!

This was actually my last chance for a4. I didn't play it because I was hopping to gang up on the d4 pawn without White have time to play Nb3-c1-e2. But the N on e2 actually lets me get an effective central break in: 18...a4 19.Nc1 Kh7 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.Rdg1 Rh8 22.gxh5 Nxh5 23.Rg5 Qb6 24.Ne2 e5-/+.

19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.gxh5 Nxh5 21.Rdg1 Qb6

a4 is now too late, White breaks through on the k-side: 21...a4?? 22.Rg5 Qb6 23.Rxh5 gxh5 24.Qg5+ Kh7 25.Qxh5+ Kg7 26.Rg1+ Kf6 27.Qh6 mate. So I have to drop the a5 pawn. Well at least I have the open a-file.

22.Rg5 Rh8 23.Rxa5 Ra8 24.Rxa8 Rxa8 25.Ng4 Nf8 26.Qh6+ Kg8 27.Rg1 Qa7

I'm trying to attack a2 and at the same time keep d4 under observation, but just as I played this I realized White had 28. Qxh5 gxh5 29. Nf6+! Kg8 30. Rg8 mate! After the game I showed this line to Serper whose non-plused reaction was: "Why take the Queen? There's no threat". Indeed after: 28.Qxh5 Qxa2+ 29.Kc2 Ra3! 30.Nc1 Rc3+ 31.Kd1 Qxb2 Black's attack crashes through.

28. Kc2 Ne6 29.Ne3 Nxd4+ 30.Nxd4 Qxd4 31.Nf5 b3+??

I quickly threw the b3 move in. My thinking was that it couldn't hurt to cut off the b3 square for the White King. But I missed the cunning: 31...Qc5+ 32.Kb3 (otherwise I take the rook with check) Ra3+! 33.bxa3 Qc3+ 34.Ka4 Qxa3 mate.

32.axb3 Qc5+ 33.Kd2 Qf2+ 34.Kc3 Qc5+ 35.Kd2 Qf2+ 36.Kc3 Qc5+ 37.Kd2 Qf2+

At this point I took a quick look at the other games, and the match seemed pretty level, so I took the safe course of securing a draw. Black could play on with 37... Ra7 when the situation is...unclear.


After this game finished I was shocked to see the games on the other 3 boards quickly deteriorate. In the next 10 minutes Serper, Tangborn, and Sinannan had to resign. Not the best day for the sluggers!

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