Saturday, February 17, 2018

Reverse Angle 81

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

Forty-three players from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas entered Reverse Angle 81 on Saturday, February 17.  All were competing for a share of the $850 cash prizes in three sections.


TOP Section
The Top section of Reverse Angle is always strong. 18 players competed, including National Masters Daniel Cremisi (2382), Klaus "I beat Bisguier twice" Pohl (2206), Mark "state champ" Biernacki (2187), Dominique "FM" Myers (2148), and Patrick Sciacca (2130).

In the final round, Daniel Cremisi defeated Dominique Myers for the ninth time in a row, and Patrick Sciacca won against Mark Biernacki.  Cremisi and Sciacca each earned $125 by tying for first place.  Adharsh Rajagopal (1957) and Ali Shirzad (1779) both scored 2.0 and split the U2000 prize, good for $25 each.



Under 1800 Section
15 players entered the U1800 section, including top seeds Connor Liu (1711), Danny "two dollar bill" Cropper (1695), and Andrew "pool shark" Chen (1674).

Andrew Chen, fresh off his tie for first at the February Rapid, continued his winning ways with a 3-0 sweep of the section, collecting $150.  Spencer Singleton (1562) earned second place ($75) with 2.5/3.

Grisham Paimagam (1574), Rithvik Prakki (1509), and Sampath Kumar (1485) won $17 by tying for first under 1600 with 2/3.



Under 1400 Section
The U1400 section was the smallest of the day, with ten players.  The top seeds were Nishanth "got' em" Gaddam (1361), Pranav "too tall" Swarna (1326), and Alex Corpening-Zenz (1299).

Alex Corpening-Zenz scored a perfect 3-0 score to earn $150.   Nishanth Gaddam, Pranav Swarna, and Dan "PhD" Boisvert (1218) tied for second place with 2/3, earning $25 each.  Sahith Tanuboddi (1100) also scored two points, but received $50 for the U1200 prize.




UPSETS - 150 points or more
Under 1400, Round 1 - Smayan Ammasani (1090) def. Pranav Swarna (1326) - 236 points
Under 1800, Round 1 - Gautam Kapur (1405) def. Daniel Naylor (1633) - 228 points
Under 1800, Round 2 - Sampath Kumar (1485) def. Danny Cropper (1695) - 210 points
Top Section, Round 2 - Advaith Karthik (1643) def. Chacha Nugroho (1824) - 181 points


USCF Rating Report



Until next time,
G Money

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Simple Chess: Sacrifice to Attack!


It has been a while since I've posted a blog. For those that don't know I am a Chess.com partnered streamer. What does that mean? I play chess online and broadcast my games to viewers around the world. If you want to catch a show check me out at twitch.tv/chessnerdbird. At least once a week you can also catch me on chess.com/tv

Well, I was able to venture out into the real world this week and play round 2 of the 40th Tuesday Night Action. This game came after I was defeated 24.0 to 6.0 in a death match against another chess streamer. Since that crushing defeat I vowed to never allow something like that again and I had been putting in a lot of time with tactics and attacking play.

When I checked the pairings I saw that I was paired against Michael Kliber. He is currently rated 1984 and has earned the Candidate Master title. I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me but I wanted to play aggressive and keep pressure on my opponent at all costs. I knew from a previous blitz game against Michael that I could keep up tactically if I kept the position complicated and kept him under pressure. That was the game plan. Here is the game:





Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Game Analysis: A Lesson on Strategy (Part 2)

A week ago, I posted an article on two very important aspects of chess strategy. The piece out of play, and the local piece superiority. We saw a model game that showed what needs to be done to conduct a successful attack. That game you saw was the first round of the tournament. In the same tournament, Round 5, which happened to be the final round, I had a very similar opportunity, and what was even more crucial was that a win would put me in a tie for first and a draw might as well have been as good as a loss as I would be completely out of the money.

Well, what you are about to see is what happens the moment you drift away from proper strategy.


Land of the Sky, Round 5
W: Patrick McCartney (2080)
B: Jeremy Chen (1910)
Pirc Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4

Due to Black's refusal to play 3...d5, which would prevent 4.e4, this game has directly transposed to the Pirc Defense, a king pawn opening.

4...O-O 5.Be3 d6 6.Qd2 Ng4 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 Nd7 9.h3 Ngf6 10.e5

This aggressive move, looking to take advantage of the bishop being stuck on c8 and blocking the a8-rook from guarding the queen, pushes Black's pieces away from the center of the board. White takes over the initiative.

10...Nh7 11.O-O-O Nb6 12.Bd3 d5 13.Rde1 Be6



So we see that the Black knight on b6 and Black rook on a8 are out of play and White starts out by focusing on the Kingside.

14.g4 Qd7 15.Nh2 Rfc8 16.f4 c5 17.Nf3 c4 18.f5 cxd3 19.fxe6 fxe6

The lesser evil was to take with the Queen.

20.Qxd3



So now a major shift in focus occurs. If you look at the locked nature of the pawns on the e-file combined with White's control of g5, should Black ever decide to play ...h5, you will see that Black's Bishop on g7 should be permanently locked on the Kingside. If White can eliminate enough pieces to where his king cannot be attacked, he can use a local piece superiority on the Queenside to win the game.

20...Nf8 21.Bf2 Na4 22.Nxa4 Qxa4 23.Qb3 Qc6 24.Re3 a5 25.Rc3 a4?

Black probably miscalculated, thinking that if he gets the pawn to a2, White can't stop it. Problem is, White gets behind the pawn just in time, and so instead, Black is forced to surrender a pawn.

26.Rxc6 axb3 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.axb3 h5



29.Be3

White should play 29.g5 here, keeping the Bishop out of play, and then shifting the focus to the Queenside, where White will eventually have a 3-on-2 piece advantage.

29...Nd7 30.Nd2 Nb8 31.Rg1

White still had the chance to lock up the Kingside and permanently hem in the bishop. Now, however, Black is about to trade on g4 and open the h-file for his Rook. This is where White's downfall begins.

31...hxg4 32.Rxg4 Kf7 33.Nf3 Rh8 34.Ng5+ Ke8 35.Nxe6 Rxh3 36.Nxg7+

Stronger is 36.Nc7+.

36...Kf7 37.Kd2 Kxg7 38.c4 e6 39.cxd5 exd5 40.Rf4 Nc6 41.e6 Rh2+ 42.Bf2 g5 43.Rf7+ Kg6 44.Ke1 Rh7 45.Rd7 Rxd7 46.exd7



The shattered White pawns combined with the fact that Black has the outside passer makes the extra pawn totally useless and the position is completely drawn. Given the tournament situation, neither player wanted to admit it was drawn, and the game went on another 12 moves before admitting that the position was drawn. The rest of the game requires no commentary.

46...Kf5 47.Be3 Ke6 48.Bxg5 Kxd7 49.Be3 Na5 50.Kd2 b5 51.Kc3 Nc6 52.Bh6 Ke6 53.Bf8 Kf5 54.Kd3 Kf4 55.Bc5 Kf3 56.Bb6 Kf2 57.Bc5 Ke1 58.Bf8 Kf2 1/2-1/2


So while the previous article showed an excellent example of how to conduct an attack when the opponent has one or more pieces out of play, this example goes to show what happens the moment that you dismiss proper strategy and instead try to get cute and blow your opponent off the board way too quickly. Patience and consistent following of proper strategy is often necessary to win.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Game Analysis: A Lesson on Strategy

Hello again everyone. This article and the next one will be on a topic not often covered on blogs like this. Most articles that you see on a blog are either some impressive game with exciting tactics or a brilliant checkmate. For example, take the following position:



This position occurred in Round 4 of Land of the Sky in 2018. I was Black in this game, and what was otherwise a very poorly played game by me, I proceeded to attack the White King in execution style with 35...Qxh3+!! 36.Kxh3 Rh6+ 37.Kg4 Ne5+ 38.Kg5 Rh2! and White resigned as he has no way to avoid mate via 39...h6 except prolonging it by one move with 39.Qh5 or 39.Rc6, in both cases then 39...h6+ is mate in 2.

How typical! Another position where fireworks erupted! Well, we are going to talk about a far more critical topic that occurs pretty much every game, not just the occasional instance of fireworks-type tactics. That topic is strategy, and in these two articles, we will be discussing specifically the handling of the pieces. We are going to be looking at two specific ideas in chess strategy that in some ways go hand-in-hand. A piece out of play, and the concept of a local piece superiority. At the same Land of the Sky tournament in 2018 in which the Queen Sacrifice lead to mate in my favor in the fourth round, two other games, round 1 and round 5, featured games where strategy was a major factor in the result of each of those games. In the current article, we will look at round 1 where the proper use of strategy throughout the game lead to a fairly simple win for White. In the next article, which will be published sometime later this month, will show my round 5 game where once again White has a major advantage, but one small slip from the basic strategy we are about to talk about here lead to the game going from a winning position for White to a draw. It is very important to see the negative side of what can happen when basic ideas are not followed. But for now, let's look at the positive case.


Land of the Sky XXXI, Round 1
W: Patrick McCartney (2080)
B: Graydon Eggers (1869)
Polish Defense

1.d4 b5 2.Nf3 Bb7

So here we have the Polish Defense, an opening I literally have never faced in my almost 2700 over the board tournament games. I've faced openings similar in nature, like the St. George Defense, which is 1...a6 with the move ...b5 coming shortly later on, or the English Defense, which is 1...b6 in lines where White plays an eventual c4, or Owen's Defense, which is 1...b6 in lines where White avoids advancing the c-pawn. So with that said, I am basically on my own already. Now many of you that know me well will know that I have played somewhere around 200 to 300 games as White in which I played 1.b4 along with the 3 times that I have faced 1.b4 while playing Black, and are probably thinking that I ought to know the reverse easily. That said, reverse openings are often nothing alike to the normal. For example, Black's ideas in the King's Indian Defense are not the same as White's ideas in the King's Indian Attack. Also, in the Reversed Dragon (1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg2 d5), Black has to take on a strategy similar to what is known as the Classical Dragon because the single extra move for White is enough to make a Yugoslav Attack approach by Black completely ineffective.

So I proceed to think to myself about the coordination of pieces. Let's think about other defenses that feature a fianchettoed Bishop. It usually is three pawns over from the fianchetto that gets advanced in order to open up the other Bishop. For example, in openings where Black fianchettos the Kingside Bishop, such as the Sicilian Dragon, Pirc, Modern, Grunfeld, or King's Indian Defense, he advances the d-pawn in all cases to either d6 or d5 to open up the Light-Squared Bishop as double-fianchetto positions often surrenders too much of the center to the opponent. For Queenside Fianchetto defenses, like the Queen's Indian, Nimzo-Indian lines with ...b6, and English Defense, Black advances the e-pawn. Therefore, I decide to blunt the advancement of the Black e-pawn.

3.Bg5

This move prevents smooth development by Black. He has a number of choices, but none of them are very appealing. Black can:
  • Capture the White Knight on f3, doubling White's pawns, but then the light squares become very weak for Black.
  • Develop the Knight to f6, but then Black will have to deal with doubled pawns, and the difference here is that with b5 already advanced, Black has no quick attack on weak squares like b2 in White's camp because of the early advancement of b5. If the pawn were still on b7, then moves like ...Qb6 could be annoying with the Bishop missing. But here it's a non-issue.
  • Advance 3...h6 and 4...g5 to unpin the pawn, but with the b-pawn already advanced, advancing the Kingside pawns like this leaves the Black King with no real safe haven.
  • Advance the d-pawn, play ...Nbd7 (to avoid the doubling of pawns when Black does play ...Nf6), follow that up with ...Nf6, and only then play ...e6. The downside of this is that it is extremely slow, and Black lags behind in development.

Black decided to go with the last of the four options.

3...a6 4.Nbd2 d5



So in a matter of four moves, we already see Black with a really bad Bishop. One could argue that the Bishop could return to c8, but then it needs to be moved again before Black plays ...Nbd7 to get in ...Nf6 and ...e6 as otherwise, the Bishop will continue to be bad, only in this case it would be blocked by the e6-pawn instead of the d5-pawn, and so Black suffers with the Bishop being out of play or else he ends up falling way behind in development and still has dark square weaknesses like c5 and e5.

So given the catastrophic levels of falling behind in development if Black relocates the Bishop, we will figure that Black will simply deal with the bad Bishop and hope to use the e4-square as then Black has an extra piece guarding the square.

5.e3 Nd7 6.Bd3 Ngf6 7.O-O e6



So with the e6-push, it is official that the Black Light-Squared Bishop will be out of play, and it will be stuck on the Queenside. With the White Bishop on d3 being one of his major trumps, combined with the Black one suffering on b7, White will virtually be a piece up if he groups his pieces to be aimed at the Kingside. If White can gain a space advantage on that side, he might be able to add more pieces to the Kingside while Black wouldn't have the room to maneuver his own pieces to the Kingside, and White will then have what is known as a Local Piece Superiority. A Local Piece Superiority is where one side is able to bring more pieces, or forces, to one area of the board than the other side. This idea will often go hand-in-hand with the Piece out of Play. The side that you want the Local Piece Superiority on is the side opposite that of where the Piece out of Play is located. So in this case, with the Piece out of Play being the Bishop on b7, White wants to gain space and build a local piece superiority on the Kingside.

8.Ne5 Be7 9.f4

So White has a glorified Stonewall setup in that his bad Bishop is outside the pawn chain on g5 rather than behind the pawn chain. With three Black pieces lined up on the diagonal, White can always trade the Bishop for one of those pieces if it becomes necessary. That said, Black's next move is a strategical mistake.

9...h6?

This move looks extremely innocent, but it actually causes Black major problems. White's extra piece on the Kingside is the Light-Squared Bishop, and so Black has to really worry about the light squares more than the dark squares. This advancement of the h-pawn weakens the g6-square, which in turn leads to tactical ideas on f7. Instead, Black needs to push for counterplay on the Queenside with a move like 9...c5.

10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Qh5!

White continues to build the pressure on the Kingside, in this case by threatening mate on f7. That said, already the downside of 9...h6 is rearing its ugly head!

11...Bxe5

Given White's Local Piece Superiority on the Kingside, White would love to force Black to castle Kingside, right into his attack. Black, on the other hand, would rather run to the Queenside. The problem for Black is, the latter is impossible because of his 9...h6 push. In the case of 11...Qe7, White has the tactical shot 12.Nxf7! where Black then can't castle Queenside because the Knight control d8, and trying to grab the Knight via 12...Qxf7 fails because the pawn advance on move 9 weakened the g6-square, and 13.Bg6 would then win the Black Queen. Therefore, Black tries to eliminate the scary Knight on e5, but it doesn't help the cause.

12.fxe5 O-O

Note that this time 12...Qe7 fails to 13.Rxf7! while 12...Rf8 fails to 13.Rxf7! Rxf7 14.Rf1 Nf6 15.exf6 gxf6 16.Bg6 Qe7 17.Nf3 O-O-O 18.Bxf7 is also winning for White, and so White succeeded in forcing the Black King to castle to the side he is attacking.



So let's look at the situation now that White has forced the Black King to castle Kingside. The White Queen, Bishop, Knight, and Rook on f1 all are taking part in a Kingside attack, and it is easy for White to add the 5th piece by executing a Rook lift and bringing the a1-Rook to f1, resulting in five White pieces taking part in the Kingside attack. Black, on the other hand, has two pieces out of play. The Bishop on b7 and the Rook on a8, and so he is really only defending his King with the Rook on f8, Queen on d8, and Knight on d7, and the space advantage that White has doesn't allow for Black to do things like double up the Rooks on the f-file like White has the capability of doing. So the Local Piece Superiority is intact, and now we need to make sure that Black is not able to get out of this. The first thing that Black would like to do is be able to trade off the Queens to alleviate some of the cramp and remove the strongest piece from White's attack. If it were Black's move, he would like to play the move ...Qg5, offering the Queen trade. Therefore, White's next move is specifically to prevent that.

13.h4! f5

The lesser evil for Black was probably 13...c5 14.c3 Qe8 15.g4 f6 16.Qxe8 Raxe8 17.exf6 Nxf6 18.Bg6 with a positional advantage for White. After the game move, White wins material by force.

14.g4!

Taking en passant shouldn't even be remotely considered as it does nothing but help Black untangle himself. Plus, Black has no way to add to the protection of f5 and 14...fxg4 fails to 15.Qg6 Rxf1+ 16.Rxf1 Nf8 17.Qf7+ Kh8 18.Rf4 Qe8 (18...Qxh4?? 19.Qxf8+ with mate the following move) 19.Qxc7 Bc8 20.Rxg4 Bd7 21.Qd6 and White is a pawn up and Black's pieces are disco-ordinated.

So no matter what, White will be winning material.

14...Qe8

So this move does force the trade of Queens, and so now White transitions from one advantage to another. He goes from a local piece superiority to a material advantage and heads into a winning endgame after a long series of trades.

15.Qxe8 Raxe8 16.gxf5 exf5 17.Rxf5 Rxf5 18.Bxf5



We now see that Black still hasn't solved his problems even after surrendering the pawn. The Knight is under attack and there is no real good move to save it here. A move like 18...Re7 is very passive for Black and White has time to get his Knight into the attack starting with 19.Nb3, taking advantage of the weak dark squares in Black's camp. Moving the Knight with a move like 18...Nb6 simply leads to a second piece out of play after 19.b3. Therefore, Black uses a tactic to get three pawns for the Knight, but it is insufficient.

18...Nxe5 19.dxe5 Rxe5 20.Bg6

This move is possible because of the White pawn on h4 stopping the fork of the King and Bishop, and at the first opportunity, White will play h5, locking the weak Black pawns in place.

20...Rxe3 21.Kf2 Re6 22.h5 Rf6+ 23.Kg3 Bc8



24.Rf1

Getting the last piece into the game and putting Black in a tough spot. Given that 24...Re6 fails tactically to 25.Bf7+, Black has to place his Rook extremely passively with a move like 24...Rd6, noting that 24...Rc6 does Black no favors as he has no entry point with the c4-, c3-, and c2-squares all covered by White, or else trade the Rooks off, which is what he does in the game, but this just helps out White as the player up material in an endgame wants to trade the piece and ideally create a winning scenario of one-on-nothing in terms of pieces and then use the piece to scoop up the pawns.

24...Rxf1 25.Nxf1

And now Black has no way to prevent the White King from taking on a dominating position on e5.

25...Be6 26.Kf4 Kf8 27.Ke5 Ke7 28.Ne3

And now White poses threats to all the weak Black pawns on the board including d5, g7, etc, to the point that Black has no way to avoid losing material without trading away his last piece, and then White has the simple one-on-zero scenario of pieces. Black plays one more move to protect the d5-pawn, but it's not enough.

28...c6 29.Nf5+ 1-0

Seeing that the only way to avoid the immediate loss of more material was by trading away the Bishop, Black resigned.

So what we saw here was a strong performance by White using the concept of a Local Piece Superiority that was made possible by the fact that Black had two pieces out of play, emphasized by the Bishop on b7, but also the Rook on a8 was unable to come to Black's rescue until it was too late, all of this made possible because of one innocent looking move that turned out to be a huge positional mistake in 9...h6.

Next time, we will be looking at another game from the same tournament where White will have a very similar opportunity based on a piece out of play and a local piece superiority, and we shall see that by diverting from basic strategic principles, a huge advantage for White amounts to only a draw. The main thing to get out of this is that while fireworks look pretty, most successful games result from successful execution of basic strategy and not from flashy tactics!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

February G/60 Action!

58 players from North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia entered the Charlotte Chess Center's February G/60 Action tournament.  The large turnout meant that the prize fund was increased to over $1000.

As always, the tournament was divided into 3 sections - Top, Under 1700, and Under 1200.  Each section was playing for a first place prize of $220, second place prize of $70, and a class prize of $50, for a total prize fund of $1020.


Top Section
The Top section was the strongest and largest of the day, with 25 players.  National Masters Daniel "9:59am" Cremisi (2382), Klaus "the veteran" Pohl (2206), and Mark "re-entry" Biernacki (2187) were the top seeds, closely followed by several Experts and Class A players.

Daniel Cremisi struck gold again, receiving $220 for his 4-0 score.  In second place were Mark Biernacki, Alex Chen (2115), Neil Deshpande (1974), and Pradhyumna Kothapalli (1957), who received $18 each.  Ali Shirzad (1779) won $50 for the U1900 prize.



Under 1700 Section
The U1700 section featured 18 players, including top seeds Danny "the crop man" Cropper (1695), Jaiden Chuang (1644), and David "dawuud" Richards (1613).

Tony Sanders (1574) scored 4-0 and won $220.  Jaiden Chuang, David Richards, and Donald "check!" Johnson (1551) tied for second place with 3-1, earning $24.  Aarush Chugh (1328) also scored 3/4, but earned $50 for the top U1500 prize.



Under 1200 Section
Fifteen players competed in the U1200 section, including some of the region's next top junior players.  The top seeds were Akshay "!!!" Rajagopal (1171), William "Bill" Merritt (1091), and Smayan "lil Smay" Ammasani (1090).

Eight-year-old Smayan Ammasani scored a perfect 4-0 score to earn $220.  Tying for second place and earning $30 each were: William Merritt, Murari Raghavan (611), Nathan Butler (598), and Joshua Soutiere (unrated).




UPSETS - 150 points or more
Under 1200, Round 4 - Murari Raghavan (611) def. Akshay Rajagopal (1171) - 560 points
Under 1200, Round 1 - Nathan Butler (598) def. Shreeshiva Raja (1038) - 440 points
Under 1700, Round 4 - Aarush Chugh (1328) def. Danny Cropper (1695) - 367 points
Under 1200, Round 3 - Murari Raghavan (611) def. Charles Apy (874) - 263 points
Top Section, Round 2 - Adharsh Rajagopal (1957) def. Klaus Pohl (2206) - 249 points
Top Section, Round 1 - Ali Shirzad (1779) def. Sulia Mason (2004) - 225 points
Under 1700, Round 1 - Paige Cook (1326) def. Donald Johnson (1551) - 225 points
Under 1700, Round 2 - Colin Roop (1492) def. Danny Cropper (1695) - 203 points
Under 1700, Round 1 - Henry Chen (1236) def. Antara Durbha (1402) - 166 points
Under 1700, Round 4 - Brian Miller (1173) def. Nikhil Kamisetty (1339) - 166 points
Top Section, Round 3 - Lendel Robinson (1734) def. Ernest Nix (1896) - 162 points
Under 1700, Round 1 - Chase Siuta (1208) def. Nishanth Gaddam (1361) - 153 points

Joshua Soutiere (unrated) def. Charles Apy (874), Shreeshiva Raja (1083), and Ethan Liu (1064).

USCF Rating Report



Until next time,
G Money

Monday, January 22, 2018

Game Analysis: You Can't Win Them All

Hello again. For those of you that have been following my posts since the summer will know what my take is on the French Tarrasch. White gets zero advantage! I have shown extensive analysis on it in two articles. The games from the New Hampshire Open back in July, specifically round 2, and in the third of the seven articles on the French Defense in September. You have also seen a number of games where I have blasted the Tarrasch, and particularly the 4.exd5 with 5...Nf6 line, which I started playing in October 2016. Since October 2016, I've had 15 encounters as Black in the French Tarrasch, and the game you are about to see is only the second time that Black has lost. The first time came in the other line with 4.Ngf3, which is analyzed extensively in the September article, and actually came about from the 3...Be7 line, but it directly transposed to the line recommended in that article after 7 moves. The game you are about to see is the first time I have ever lost after 4.exd5 since taking up the 5...Nf6 line rather than the older 5...Nc6 line that I played previously, which I've lost to many times (we won't talk about that!).

The game we are going to look at is actually very instructive for French devotees as it illustrates some of the pitfalls that Black can fall into. White actually played the game fairly well, and while there were times where Black may have been able to claim a very very slight advantage, there was never a time in the game that Black could ever lay claim that he was winning. That said, the game remained totally balanced with the exception of one point in the middle game where Black makes a very educational blunder, and gave White the opportunity to lay claim to a significant advantage, and after White fails to do so and counters with a mistake of his own, we reach a very instructional endgame where Black first realizes that there are two results in the game, draw or loss, and plays for the draw, and does so brilliantly until one move very late in the game with both sides in time trouble that does him in, and White goes on to victory.

For those of you that haven't seen the previous articles surveying the French Tarrasch and games I've posted where Black won in the Tarrasch, I have included the links at the bottom of the article. Also, for those of you that feel depressed after looking at this game, going back to the wins I've posted will cheer you right back up! :-)

But until then, let's see what happened here that put Black in his misery.


Reverse Angle 80, Round 2
W: Henry Hopson (1891)
B: Patrick McCartney (2080)
French Tarrasch

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8.O-O Be7 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Nb3 Nce4



For further explanation of the opening moves, see the first two articles from the links at the bottom.

11.c3

A slightly unusual move but could sometimes transpose into the second most popular line, which is 11.Nbd4. The most common is 11.Nfd4, leaving the other knight on b3 to cover c5 and threaten to corral the bishop with Nf5. Black will usually counter this with 11...Qd7, to prevent Nf5 at least temporarily, and also to give the bishop the d8-square if it doesn't want to trade itself off for a White knight.

Now, after the move played in the game, we enter a stage where both sides are making decent moves. There may be a few cases where there are other options that are equally good, but neither side makes any spectacular moves or commits any blunders, and the position remains level for quite a while.

11...O-O 12.Nbd4 Bc5 13.h3 Rc8 14.Be3 Nd6 15.Nc2 Nc4 16.Bxc5 Rxc5 17.Qd4 Qc7 18.Rab1 Re8 19.Rfe1 Re4 20.Qd3 h6

This move is better than 20...g6 as it weakens fewer squares, but temporarily, it doesn't not solve the back rank issue because of the specific location of the White queen.

21.Ne3



We reach a critical position in which White has a very concealed threat. Do you see it?

21...Ra5?

Black must eliminate the Knight with 21...Nxe3, after which the position remains equal. The move played in the game doesn't resolve the threat.

22.b4

This move is fairly easy to see. The concealed threat comes if Black takes the pawn on a2.

22...Rxe3

This exchange sacrifice is necessary. 22...Rxa2?? loses to 23.Nxd5 Rxe1+ (or 23...Nxd5 24.Rxe4 +-) 24.Rxe1 Nb2 (24...Nxd5?? allows 25.Re8 Mate!) 25.Qb1 Qc4 26.Re4 and Black's position would be in ruins.

23.fxe3?

White's advantage is gone after this move. Instead, 23.Rxe3 Rxa2 24.Re2 and White has a big advantage.

23...Rxa2 24.Re2 Rxe2 25.Qxe2 Ne4 26.Qd3 Qb6?!

Stronger is 26...Qg3 where it could even be argued that Black has a very slight advantage. After a move like 27.Qe2 (other moves aren't any better), the position after 27...Nxc3 28.Qe1 Qxe1+ 28.Rxe1 Kf8, the position is still technically equal, but things have gotten really ugly for White compared to seven moves prior.

27.Re1 Qe6 28.Nd4 Qe5 29.Ne2 g5 30.Qd4 Qxd4



31.exd4

Instead, 31.cxd4 is stronger. After 31...Nxe3 32.b5 a6 33.bxa6 bxa6 34.Ra1 h5 35.Rxa6 Kg7 36.Rb6 f5 37.Nc1 h4 38.Nd3 g4 39.Ne5 gxh3 40.gxh3 f4 41.Rg6+ Kh7, White has the advantage.

After the move played, Black must realize a number of factors in the position:
  • First and foremost, Black does not having winning chances barring a total collapse by White. Even a series of inferior moves by White won't be enough for Black to win. His goal must be to draw.
  • When you are the one with the minor piece in a minor piece vs rook imbalance, you must play actively, especially when down in material. A fortress approach is not going to work here.
  • Don't be afraid to lose another pawn if you can eliminate all the pawns. King and rook versus king and knight is a theoretical draw.

The next series of moves we see Black predominantly responding to White's threats, and when there is no threat, Black makes an active move.

31...f5 32.Kh2 f4 33.Rf1 Ne3 34.Ra1 a6 35.Ra5 Kf7 36.b5 axb5 37.Rxb5 Nd6 38.Rb6 Ke6 39.Nc1 Nec4 40.Rb4 Kf5 41.Nd3 b6 42.Nf2 h5 43.g4+ fxg3+ 44.Kxg3 Ne4+ 45.Nxe4 Kxe4 46.Rb5



We reach another critical position for Black. It first appears as though Black is in zugzwang where any move drops a pawn. However, there is one right move, one other move that might arguably survive for Black, and a bunch of wrong moves.

46...g4!

Perhaps 46...Nd2 would also work for tactical reasons. For example, 47.Kg2 g4 48.h4 Nf3 49.Kg3 Ng1 50.Rxb6 Ne2+ 51.Kf2 Nxc3 52.Rh6 Kxd4 53.Rxh5 Ke4 54.Rg5 Kf4 55.Ke1 and 47.Rxb6 Kd3 48.Rh6 Kxc3 49.Rxh5 Kxd4 both appear to be survivable for Black, but the game move is easier, especially compared to the 47.Kg2 line given that the Black king is cut off from the White pawn.

That said, other moves lose. For example, 46...Kd3 47.Rxd5 h4+ 48.Kf2 Kxc3 49.Rxg5 Kxd4 50.Rh5 and White is winning.

47.hxg4 hxg4 48.Kxg4 Kd3 49.Kf4 Kxc3 50.Rxd5 b5 51.Ke4



51...b4??

This move loses on the spot! The way to draw is via 51...Nd2+ and after 52.Ke3 or 52.Ke5, Black will return the Knight to c4 via 52...Nc4+. If White continues to toggle between the e5, e4, and e3 squares, a perpetual check will occur. The moment that White leaves these three squares, Black will push the b-pawn to b4 and the game would be a draw. Instead, the upcoming pin by the Rook combined with the location of the White King does Black in.

52.Rc5! Kb3

This is one of the problems with doing this while the White King is on e4. Black doesn't have the d3-square to put the King on, and going to b3 blocks the Black pawn and fatally slows down the advancement of the Black pawn on b4.

53.d5 Nb6 54.Kd3 Ka2 55.Rb5 Nxd5 56.Rxd5 b3 57.Rb5 b2 58.Kc2 1-0


This was a painful game for fans of the French Defense, but it also shows some critical pitfalls that Black must look out for. For those of you that have not previously seen my other articles on the French Tarrasch, the links below will take you there. Black does win all four games across the three articles.

The New Hampshire Open (Specifically Round 2)
Opening Preparation: The French Defense, Tarrasch Variation
Game Analysis: NC Closed Championship - Round 3

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Reverse Angle 80

 Author: Grant Oen


The 80th Reverse Angle Tournament hosted 62 players.  They were playing for $850 in guaranteed prizes in three sections: Top, Under 1800, and Under 1400.


Top Section
In the Top section, the top seeds were Daniel "just woke up" Cremisi (2379), Klaus "the legend" Pohl (2200), and Mark "NM" Biernacki (2187), who were joined by 7 other experts in a 21 player field.  Cremisi won the section with 3-0, receiving $175 for his efforts.  Neo Zhu (2170) and Alain Morais (2117) tied for second with 2.5/3, earning $37.50 each.  Jeremy Chen (1910) won the U2000 prize, good for $50.


Under 1800
The Under 1800 section featured 27 players, with top seeds Ali Shirzad (1779), Lendel Robinson (1734), and Danny Cropper (1695).  Andrew "medium rare" Chen (1673) and Jaiden Chuang (1644) each scored a perfect 3-0, receiving $112.50 each.  Kiru Mendez (1540), Nikhil "can I call my dad" Kamisetty (1342), and Arjun Rawal (1328) split the Under 1600 prize, receiving $17 each.


Under 1400
The Under 1400 section was the smallest of the day, with 14 players.  Bhavani Dhulipalla (1343) performed a clean sweep of the section, earning $150.  Pranav Swarna (1367), Saanchi "always texting" Sampath (1326), Adam Lipshay (1271), Rolando Dorbecker (1263), and Matthew Mecia (1127) each scored 2/3.  Mecia earned $50 for the U1200 prize, while the other four players received $19 each.



Upsets - 150 points or more
Under 1800, Round 3 - Nikhil Kamisetty (1342) def. Michael Tedder (1673) - 331 points
Top Section, Round 1 - Jeremy Chen (1910) def. Klaus Pohl (2200) - 290 points
Under 1800, Round 3 - Paige Cook (1340) def. Bradley Juoperri (1476) - 279 points
Top Section, Round 3 - Jeremy Chen (1910) def. George Hechtel (2158) - 248 points
Under 1800, Round 1 - Andrew Lord (1436) def. Michael Tedder (1673) - 237 points
Under 1400, Round 2 - Matthew Mecia (1127) def. Mahesh Padhi (1336) - 209 points
Under 1800, Round 1 - Donald Johnson (1505) def. Danny Cropper (1695) - 190 points
Top Section, Round 2 - Henry Hopson (1891) def. Patrick McCartney (2080) - 189 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Sarvajith Nalaneelan (1037) def. Dan Boisvert (1218) - 181 points
Under 1800, Round 2 - Nikhil Kamisetty (1342) def. Rithvik Prakki (1523) - 181 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Noah Sari (1200) def. Pranav Swarna (1367) - 167 points


USCF RATING REPORT


Until next time,
Grant