Friday, September 10, 2010



First win! though obviously not without some major tussles along the way. Aside from Akobian's smooth and impressive win over Becerra, the bottom boards faced major issues. Oh wait, that includes me. Well, yah, I guess I was losing? lol, ok, I was dead lost. For most of the game I actually thought I was dead lost, but after Perez failed to find the few killer moves, my position proved to be surprisingly resilient.

But first, the shocker

Board 3: WGM Rohonyan - FM Charles Galofre, 0 - 1
Katerina loses, and very early in the match.

(after 9.Rxg7???)

Really, an unfortunate blunder, and I was told that Rxg7 was played quickly, but Rohonyan should've been more than a little suspicious since this is early in the opening and Galofre, a respectable 2300, probably doesn't make opening blunders much. After 10...Qf6, fatally forking Nf3 and Rg7, FM Galofre cleaned up board 3. As usual, an early loss placed pressure on the other three boards to perform up to par, in order to equalize the match.
Next up, Akobian's debut.

Board 1: GM Akobian - GM Becerra, 1 - 0
Akobian's debut against one of the most successful GMs in the USCL started out in a Grunfeld sideline. The line that Akobian chose doesn't give White much: just a miniscule advantage that Akobian would have to nurse patiently in an endgame.

(after 16.Ra3)

After the exchange of Queens, Akobian had a Queenside pawn majority, greater space, and pressure along the a-file. Akobian is planning to double up rooks along the a-file and prepare b4-b5, with strong Q-side pressure. Becerra lashed out with 16...e5?, which must certainly be dubious because 17.d5 gets White a center passed pawn with tempi. In fact, Black might even already be on the brink of losing. 17...Nb8 18.Nd2! Nice maneuver, swinging the White Knight over to d6, and later backing up the knight with c3-c4-c5. Black can't stop it with 18...b5, because of 19.Bxb5. The strong knight and eventually, strong center passed pawn was enough for Akobian to pull off win. For Becerra, the following position was the beginning of the end:

(after 30.Rd5)

White's crushing, and Black has hardly any counterplay. Akobian equalizes the match, bringing up the match score to 1 - 1.

Although the match between Seattle and Miami was now equal, many Seattle players (and probably Miamians as well) had good reasons to feel pessimistic about Seattle's chances.

Board 4: Guo - NM Perez
"I thought we were going to be 0-3!" said FM Costin Cozianu after the match, "because of him!"

Haha, well, thanks for the comment, though I'm glad we're not 0-3 either! Though Costin might've felt hopeless about the way things were going in the match (remember, Rohonyan's also in a bad situation), he certainly wasn't the only one. I, for one, felt awfulllll

(after 20...g5-g4)

In the opening stage, Perez deviated from mainstream Winawer into a Winawer exchange (exd5 after Black's Bb4), and then he reeled off a dozen moves off his prep. If it wasn't all prep, then it certainly seemed like it, since he ended up with 65 minutes (the game started with 60), while I started with 25 minutes down the toilet. After making several inaccuracies in the transition between opening and middlegame, Perez set up a battery down the e-file and obtained the better position. Then...

AHMG adjfaoarg;aiehgko;jjl;kfjgakfao;wrhingbl.znkfb;ouhao;wrg, a blunder, and g4 actually 'forces' the White Queen where it wants to go! In the above position, Perez plays the no-brainer 21.Qxf5, and I left down two pawns in a freaking endgame (of all the kinds of middlegame positions I could've had), to try to fight back. Morever, I was down on time, with my clock now below 5 minutes, and Perez's sitting at a comfortable 20+ minutes.

Really, playing a game on two hours of sleep just doesn't work out. Hit by a combination of procrastination and IB's bludgeon Extended Essay, I almost had to drag out an all-nighter. OK, not the best thing to have before a critical match, I guess...

White probably had plenty of ways to win. For those readers who really want to know, just use Rybka or Fritz, and it'll probably pop out a few precise moves before Black's ready to resign. The right idea was probably to just DITCH the Q-side pawns and to get the K-side passers moving. Later, after White's King got to d3, just h3, to stop all of Black's ideas with saccing the h-pawn, and then White could try to slowly grind out the endgame.

(after 37...Rxf4)

Then came what was probably White's first critical mistake. Simply 38. h3, preventing Black's h3, and Black will have to hope that his queenside bind and active rook will be enough. 38.Rh7?! Rg5 seizing control of the semi-open file, and eventually obtaining the second-rank, thus allowing Black to hold the balance. 39.Bc1?! White has an interesting idea in mind, but too bad it doesn't work...By the way, Perez is under a minute around here, I think. 39...Rxg2 40.a4 Nd6 41.Bf4 Nc4! Black now has perpetual check with the knight via the squares b2 and d1. By now, it's a draw fosho.

(after 41...Nc4!)

42.Rxc7 Ka6 43.Rd7 followed by perpetual would be best, but now Perez tries to grasp again the win he almost had... 43.Rxc4??, not only did it cost the game, but also the match. Afterwards, I was able to slowly grind Perez down in an endgame.

In a clearly winning position, the first mistake often quickly leads to a series of mistake, and thus turning a won position into a losing position very fast. Perez, you have my full respect for coming so. dang. close.; best of luck in your future games and chess career.

With that, Seattle pulls back from the jaws of defeat. It's 2-1.

Last, but not least, Costin Cozianu.

Board 4: FM Martinez - FM Cozianu

Marcel started out with a tame line of the Ruy Lopez, opting for the quiet d3 over the sharper c3. Cozianu begins a mad rush to push the b-pawn to b3.

(after 19...Nd7)

White returns the favor with a center break: 20.d4 exd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxd4 Bf6! Cozianu should get rid of the bad bishop. 23.Qd2 Be5 with a tough middlegame battle ahead for both players.

Skipping down to the endgame, Marcel was now pushing for the win against Cozianu, as my game managed to get turned around.

(after 59...gxf4)

White's better pawn structure, preferable minor piece, and more active king ensured him the better chances for a win. However, not all was to be, as he blundered with 60.Bd5? Nb4 61.Rxd4 Rc5 62.Ke4 f5! 63.Kxf4 Nxd5, and Cozianu's extra piece assured the team of at least a draw, and with that the match.



OK, the match definitely didn't go smoothly. To be sure, we were faced with markedly lower chances right out of the gate with Katerina's loss. luckily, mistakes on the part of Marcel and Perez enabled Seattle to turn around the match. To celebrate, the team headed down to Applebee's for food. Nothing's perfect without food!

Good luck to Miami next week, facing St. Louis, who is brandishing their GMs once again, and probably a proud fourth board as well. Next week, Seattle is facing longtime arch rivals San Francisco, a chess power house for sure.

Seattle all the way!

-Alex Guo


Anonymous said...

Nice article

CRR said...

Great article!