Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy New Year from CCCSA!

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

The Charlotte Chess Center would like to wish everyone a happy new year.  In this blog, I'd like to recap the highlights of 2018 and preview our major events in 2019.

In the summer, US Chess awarded Charlotte, North Carolina the 2018 "Chess City of the Year" designation.

Grant Oen accepting Charlotte's Chess City of the Year award at the 2018 US Open

In November, the Charlotte Chess Center moved to its new, beautiful location.

Congratulations to CCCSA members who achieved the following milestones in 2018:

Daniel Cremisi – Achieved peak USCF rating of 2449, improved to the #10 eighteen year old in the country and tied for first at the North Carolina K-12 Championship

CCCSA regulars Daniel Cremisi and Ali Shirzad

Tianqi Wang – Achieved peak USCF rating of 2446 and earned his final IM Norm at the CCCSA Norm Invitational in August

IM-elect Tianqi Wang after earning his final IM norm

Mark Biernacki – Finished in clear second place (and top under 2200) at the 2018 North Carolina Closed Championship

Under 2200 State Champion Mark Biernacki

Vishnu Vanapalli – Tied for first at the North Carolina K-12 Championship

Vishnu "Vishy" Vanapalli

Klaus Pohl - Maintained #1 rating spot (2200) as top CCCSA Senior in 2018

81-year old Life Master Klaus Pohl (2200)

Ojas Panda – 2018 North Carolina Under 1800 Champion

Jeff Prainito – 2018 North Carolina Under 1600 Champion

State Champions Jeff Prainito and Ojas Panda

PJ Liotino – 2018 North Carolina Under 1400 Champion

PG and PJ

Paige Cook – Tied for first at the North Carolina K-12 U1500 Championship

Paige Cook and Mark Biernacki

Grisham Paimagam - Tied for first at the North Carolina K-3 Championship

Rohan Chugh - Tied for first at the North Carolina K-1 Championship

K-1 Champ Rohan Chugh!

Debs Pedigo - Elected as North Carolina Chess Association's President

Walter High - Elected as North Carolina Chess Association's Vice President

Karen and Walter High, co-organizers of the Charlotte Open and Carolinas Classic

Grant Oen - Earned National Tournament Director, International Arbiter, and International Organizer titles, elected as North Carolina Chess Association's Scholastic Vice President

Pradhymna Kothapalli - won the North Carolina K-8 Blitz Championship

Pradhyumna Kothapalli

Akshay !!! Rajagopal - won the North Carolina K-5 Blitz Championship

Congratulations to CCCSA regulars and special guests who achieved the following milestones in 2018:

GM Julio Sadorra – won the Carolinas Classic in June

GM Julio Sadorra against Patrick McCartney, 2018 Carolinas Classic

GM Elshan Moradiabadi - won the 2018 North Carolina Closed State Championship and the 2018 Charlotte Open

GM Elshan Moradiabadi, 2018 Carolinas Classic & Charlotte Open Champion

GM Illya Nyzhnyk – won the U.S. G/30 and G/60 National Championships in Charlotte

GM Illya Nyzhnyk, U.S. G/30 and G/60 Champion

GM Alexander Ipatov – won the U.S. G/10 National Championship in Charlotte

GM Alexander Ipatov, U.S. G/10 Champion

GM Steven Zierk - earned final GM norm at CCCSA's GM norm invitational in June

GM Steven Zierk

GM John Michael Burke - earned final GM norm at CCCSA's GM norm invitational in January

GM John Burke (middle)

GM-elect Nicolas Checa - earned final GM norm at CCCSA's GM norm invitational in November

GM-elect Nicolas Checa

FM Yoon-Young Kim – earned first IM norm at CCCSA's IM norm invitational in June

FM Yoon-Young Kim earned his first IM norm

IM Brandon Jacobson – earned first IM norm at CCCSA's IM norm invitational in June, then earned the IM title

IM Brandon Jacobson earned his first IM norm

IM Kevin Wang - earned the IM title at CCCSA's GM norm invitational in January

IM Kevin Wang

IM Kassa Korley - earned first GM Norm at CCCSA's GM norm invitational in June

IM Kassa Korley earned his first GM norm

FM Carissa Yip - earned her first IM norm, first WGM norm, and final WIM norm at CCCSA's IM norm invitational in June

"Triple Norm" winner FM Carissa Yip

IM-elect Jennifer Yu - earned her second IM norm at CCCSA's IM norm invitational in January

Jennifer Yu earned her second IM norm

IM-elect Andrew Hong - won CCCSA Elite Camp Blitz tournament held during Elite Chess Camp with GM Jacob Aagaard and GM Boris Avrukh

Adharsh Rajagopal - earned Expert title in May

Expert Adharsh Rajagopal

Aditya Shivapooja - earned Expert title in May

Luke Harris - earned Expert title in September

Over 1200 unique people played at least one rated CCCSA event in 2018!

A special thank you to the following players who played at least 20 CCCSA rated events in 2018:

Luke Harris – 53
Donald Johnson - 44
William Merritt - 40
Akshay Rajagopal - 39
Vishnu Vanapalli, Adharsh Rajagopal - 37
Arjun Rawal - 36
Mark Biernacki, Pradhyumna Kothapalli, Advaith Karthik - 35
Aarush Chugh - 34
Pranava Kumar - 33
Andrew Chen - 32
Aditya Shivapooja, Ali Shirzad, Raamcharan Puttagunta - 31
Daniel Cremisi - 28
Tianqi Wang, Senthil Muthusamy - 26
Dominique Myers, Sulia Mason - 25
Austin Chuang, Dan Boisvert, Smayan Ammasani - 23
Patrick McCartney, Danny Cropper - 22
Saanchi Sampath, Hassan Hashemloo, Otto Resteeli - 21
Jeff Prainito, Ethan Liu, Sarvajith Nalaneelan - 20

Donald "check!" Johnson was CCCSA's second most active player in 2018

In March 2017, our good friend and longtime CCCSA member Marnzell Hand passed away.  We hold a Marnzell Hand Blitz Tournament each spring to remember Marnzell – the 2017 edition was won by Peter Giannatos and Elias Oussedik.  The 2018 edition was won by Daniel Cremisi.

Marnzell Hand (1955-2017) at CCCSA with John Bartholomew

In 2018, CCCSA hosted players from 31 states and 28 countries

IM John Bartholomew, Mega Camp Instructor and GM Norm Invitational participant

CCCSA organized over 75 tournaments in 2018, including Reverse Angle, Tuesday Night Action Tournaments, Unrated Scholastics, Rated Scholastics, Blitz Tournaments, G/60 Actions, GM/IM Norm Invitationals, Junior Invitationals, and many championship events - Southeast Regional All-Girls Championship, NC K-12 Scholastics, Carolinas Classic, U.S. G/10, G/30, G/60 National Championships, NC Closed Championship, and the Charlotte Open.

Our GM/IM Norm Invitationals produced 13 FIDE norms in 2018 alone, and we will be holding more of these in 2019.

GM Praggnanandhaa competed at CCCSA's January 2018 GM Invitational!

24 Grandmasters, 31 International Masters, and 25 FIDE Masters competed in CCCSA tournaments this year!

GM Jianchao Zhao (2716) vs GM Alonso Zapata (2508), 2018 Charlotte Open

IM Roberto Martin del Campo vs IM Brandon Jacobson, June GM/IM Invitational

The Charlotte Chess Center also hosted many GMs and IMs not just for rated tournaments, but also lectures, camps, and activities at the club.  In 2018, CCCSA members were welcome to lectures by GM Daniel Naroditsky, GM Jacob Aagaard, GM Boris Avrukh, GM Aman Hambleton, GM Alex Lenderman, GM Elshan Moradiabadi, and IM John Bartholomew.

In 2019, on top of our Saturday tournaments, we will be continuing our regular Thursday Blitz, Rapid, and Pub Chess events, in addition to Friday Night Action Quads.

June's Pub Chess Outing, featuring GM Jacob Aagaard and GM Boris Avrukh

We will against host the NC K-12 State Championship, and continue with our large championship events such as the Carolinas Classic, Charlotte Open, GM/IM Norm Invitationals, and NC Closed Championship.

Our Tuesday Night Action tournament has been very strong recently, with TNA 48 hosting 61 players and many masters.  Tuesday Night Action is free to CCCSA members and includes a lecture and a slow USCF-rated game at 7:30.  TNA is the best attended weekly meeting in the Southeast, with over 50 players competing in each five week cycle.  With our new membership fees at only $40 annually, there is no reason to not swing by on Tuesday nights!

Here is our weekly schedule:
Monday - closed
Tuesday - tournament tips master lecture 6:45pm, Tuesday Night Action 7:30pm
Wednesdays - closed
Thursday - Blitz tourney, Rapid tourney, or Pub Chess - check calendar!
Fridays - Friday Night Action Quads and casual play 6pm-close
Saturday - check tournament schedule
Sunday - Kids Classes - open 12:00-6:00pm

Friday Night Quad winner Saanvita with CCCSA's Anna Wyzywany

Tuesday night and Friday night activities are free for members, who also receive discounts on all of our tournaments, classes, camps, and merchandise.  CCCSA membership is a great deal even if you only do some activities, and is an affordable way to support local chess.

Our next GM/IM Norm Invitational, January 17-21 will feature a twenty player field with many GMs and IMs.  Many of these players will seek their FIDE title norms.  This will be the first of many GM/IM Invitational events in 2019.

We will also host four US Chess national championship tournaments in 2019.  In July, we will again organize the U.S. G/10, G/30, and G/60 Championships.  In December, we will host the 2019 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship, the national team championship tournament for collegiate chess players.

Our second CCCSA Elite Camp will take place in June, and will offer open lectures by GM Jacob Aagaard, GM Boris Avrukh, and one other instructor.  Finally, we will host the 2019 North American Junior (U20) Championship which is a FIDE Continental Championship and offers IM, FM, WIM, WFM titles and GM, IM, WIM, WFM norms for medalists.

The Charlotte Chess Center wishes everyone a great 2019!

Dom and Peter after some Tuesday Night Action

Happy New Year from the Charlotte Chess Center!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Third Deadly Sin

Hello everyone and welcome to what is likely my final article of 2018. Don't worry though as there will be plenty to cover in 2019, likely starting with games from the upcoming Charlotte Open.

Since we are in the holiday season for all Christian religions, what better than to talk about something that they all have in common, and one thing that all of them believe in are the Seven Deadly Sins, and we are going to be looking at two recent games featuring the same opening between the same two players, and quite frankly, Black should have won them both. That's where today's topic comes into play.

For those of you unfamiliar with the seven deadly sins, or doesn't know them by number, the third deadly sin is that of Greed! The first game we will look at will see Black trying for too much. You know, that thing called Greed! He goes from a theoretically winning position to a position that should be lost for him. The second game will see Black winning a pawn, but then does not exercise Greed with expectations of a quick win. The most interesting thing about this is that the two games were only played three days apart.

ALTO Quads, Round 2
W: Sulia Mason (1987)
B: Patrick McCartney (2061)
Nimzo-Indian Defense

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Ne2

This is one of two major options that White has, the other being 6.Nf3. The former avoids the doubling of White's pawns and often leads to an IQP position. The latter, which we will see in the second game, allows the Huebner Variation where the center is closed and Black gives up the Bishop in return for structural weaknesses. Both are viable and the results of these two games have no bearing on one being better than the other.

6...cxd4 7.exd4 d5 8.O-O dxc4 9.Bxc4 O-O 10.a3 Be7

The other possibilities for Black are 10...Bxc3 and 10...Bd6.

The former fails to equalize after 11.Nxc3 e5 12.Bg5 Qd6 13.Re1 Bg4 14.f3 Be6 15.Bxe6 fxe6 and now in Korchnoi - Salov, New York 1996, White played 16.Bxf6 Rxf6 17.Ng3 Qc7 18.Ne4 Rh6 19.d5 exd5 20.Qxd5+ Qf7 21.Rad1 and White is better due to the weak e5-pawn. White proceeded to win this game after 21...Rf8 22.c4 Rg6 23.Nc5 b6 24.Nd7 Rd8 25.h4 Re6 26.h5 Re7 27.Qxc6 Rexd7 28.Rxd7 Qxd7 29.Qxd7 Rxd7 30.Rxe5 Rd3 31.Re7 Rxa3 32.Kf2 Rc3 33.Rxa7 Rxc4 34.Rb7 Rc6 35.g4 h6 36.Kg3 Kh7 37.Rb8 g5 38.hxg6+ Rxg6 39.Kh4 Rd6 40.f4 1-0

The latter possibility, 10...Bd6, should be ok for Black if he follows up correctly. After 11.Qd3 b6 12.Rd1, Black should not fall for 12...h6?!, trying to prevent the pin, because White is better after 13.Ne4!. However, Black is fine after 12...Bb7.

After the game move, we see a typical IQP game.


This move is too slow, moving the Bishop for the third time in the opening. Better is 11.Qd3 a6 12.Ba2 b5 13.Bg5 b4 14.Bb1 g6 15.ax4 Nxb4 16.Qd2 Bb7 with play for both sides.

11...b6 12.Be3 Bb7 13.Qd2?!

This is very poor development of the Queen, allowing Black to relocate his Knight to a better square with tempo.


Threatening 14...Nb3

14.Qc2 Rc8 15.b4? Nc4

So we have the position that pertains to the article's topic. In a normal IQP position, the person with the isolated pawn usually claims a space advantage and piece activity as the offset to the inferior pawn structure. While White does have the typical battery along the b1-h7 diagonal, the rest of his position has much to be desired. He has a huge hole on c4 which Black has occupied with the Knight, his Bishop on e3 is passive, his Knight on e2 is passive, and neither of his Rooks are developed. Black already has a technically won position.


Basically admitting that it was poorly developed on e3.


Black thinks "I am so far ahead in development and White's pieces are so poorly placed that I can just go intruding into White's position. I don't need no stinkin' h-pawn! Come take it White and waste more time!" This mentality of cockiness and greed cost Black half the point, and should really have cost him the full point, as White has one way to actually grab the pawn and achieve the slightly better position. Instead, after the simple 16...h6 (now is the right time to play this move) 17.Bh4, Black has a wide range of options, including 17...a6, 17...Qd7, 17...Ng4, or even 17...b5 as 18.Nxb5 loses to 18...Qd5!

When you have the advantage, you do not want to get complacent, like we see White do at the end of this game, but at the same time, don't get greedy and think that just because you have the better position that it's automatically time lash out at the opposing King. In the second game, we will see Black achieve a significant advantage, and he carries the advantage all the way to the endgame rather than over-extending his attack at the White King.

The original thought behind 16...Ng4 was that, after a trade of Bishops, that Black would have tactical tricks with the Knights on both e3 and d2, but as we will see in the game, they just never work.

17.Bxe7 Qxe7 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 19.Be4!

The only move for White that takes the advantage right out of Black's hands. After 19.Bd3? Qh4 20.h3 Bxg2!, Black is winning, while if 19.Nf4 (to avoid any tricks on g2 with the Bishop), then 19...Qh4 20.h3 Nf6 and White can't save both the hanging Bishop on h7 and the hanging Knight on f4.

19...Bxe4 20.Qxe4 Qg5

Because the Knight on g4 was hanging, the fork on d2 was not an issue for White as he'd get two Knights for a Rook.

21.h3 Nf6 22.Qd3 Rfd8 23.a4 e5 24.f4 exf4 25.Rxf4

So this position is Black's final chance to realize that his attack is nothing, and that the move 25...Re8 leads to Black being ever so slightly worse, but nothing that he should have to worry about, and should be able to hold the position.


But no! Black still has that mentality that he has the attack on White, and walks right into a blunder where White can force Black in a lost endgame. Do you see how?


The pin on the Knight forces Black to use tactical means of trading down to an endgame in order to avoid further damage.

26...Rxc3 27.Qxe5 Qxe5 28.dxe5 Re3 29.exf6 Rxe2 30.fxg7+ Kxg7

Now a simple move like 31.Raf1 forces Black's Rooks into a passive position and the win with the extra pawn and the passed h-pawn should be fairly easy. At this point, White had 21 minutes left to Black's 35 minutes, and so time was not an issue. Instead, White plays many inferior moves and executes extremely poor clock management here and walks right into an eternal Rook draw.

31.a5 Rdd2 32.Rg4+ Kf8 33.axb6 axb6 34.Ra8+ Re8 35.Rxe8+ Kxe8 36.h4 Ke7 37.h5 Re5 38.Rh4 Kf8 39.h6 Kg8 40.h7+ Kh8 41.Kf2 Rg5 42.Kf3 Rh5 43.g3 Rg5 44.Rf4 b5 45.Rf4 b5 46.Rxf7 Rd3+ 47.Kg2 Rxg3+ Kxg3 1/2-1/2

A total disgrace that White didn't win this game. After Black's signs of Greed on moves 16 and 25, he didn't deserve to score anything out of this game.

In the second game, played three days later between the same two players with the same colors, we will see White once again execute inferior play in the opening and early middle game, but this time we will see Black taking what is given to him. That means taking advantage of White's errors, not getting complacent, but at the same time, not over doing it to the point where Black puts his own position in jeopardy like he did in the first game. In fact, Black wins a pawn and then consolidates to the point where he doesn't force anything at all, and White has nothing better to do than trade the pieces off himself, even a pawn down, but Black proves that there is no fortress available to White and ultimately prevails.

Tuesday Night Action 48, Round 6
W: Sulia Mason (1987)
B: Patrick McCartney (2061)
Nimzo-Indian Defense

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3

White decides to deviate from the previous game at this point. Had White continued in the same fashion as the previous game via 6.Ne2, my plan was to deviate at move 10, playing the 10...Bd6 line mentioned in the notes to Black's 10th move of the previous game.


Ordinarily, it is a bad idea for Black to take the Knight on c3 without first being induced to do so by an a3 push by White. However, this line is the one exception to that rule. Black takes the Knight on c3, forcing the b-pawn to double up on the c-file, eliminating any pawn breaks for White on the Queenside, and then Black will build a blockade by placing his own pawns on the dark squares, specifically c5, d6, and e5. With White's pawns on the Queenside crippled with no real way to break through on the Queenside, White's attack should be on the Kingside, whether that be with pieces via something like Nh4 and Qf3, or more common, White breaks the center with an f4 push to try to break up Black's blockade. Black, on the other hand, wants an endgame, and most specifically, a Black Knight versus a White dark-squared Bishop where c4 becomes impossible to defend.

7.bxc3 d6 8.O-O e5 9.e4 O-O 10.d5 Ne7

All normal stuff thus far


There is absolutely no explanation for this move. It does nothing for White. Instead, White should play 11.Nh4. This serves multiple purposes. First off, a soft spot for Black is the f5-square. If White can force Black to surrender his other Bishop as well for a Knight in favorable circumstances, the unopposed pair of Bishops can be overwhelming to Black. The other main thing this does is get the Knight out of the way of the f-pawn in order for White to play f4. White should answer 11...Ne8 or 11...Ng6 with 12.Nf5 while 11...Kh8 should be answered by the pawn break 12.f4. The other option for Black is 11...h6, intending to answer 12.f4 with 12...Ng6 13.Nxg6 fxg6 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.Be3 b6 and the static nature of the position makes Black's Knight better than the White Bishop pair. Therefore, White should answer 11...h6 with 12.Qf3 Ng6 13.Nf5 Bxf5 14.Qxf5 Nh7 15.Rb1 Qe7 16.g3 Rac8 17.h4 with advantage to White as Black is forced into a passive position.

11...Ng6 12.h3

And this move is not good either. This move severely weakens the f4-square as the moment a Black Knight gets to f4, White can't play g3 because the h-pawn will hang.


And now you are probably wondering why I say 12.h3 is bad for White but 12...h6 is not bad for Black. The answer is two fold. The first is that Black gains a tempo on the Bishop. White's push of the h-pawn didn't gain White any kind of tempo, and Black was free to do what he wants. The second thing to consider is not just the weakness of f4 for White or f5 for Black, but also how easy or hard it will be for the opponent to take advantage of the weakness. With a Knight on g6, cover h4, how is White getting a Knight to f5? It is going to take a lot of moves in a very roundabout way, going through g3 to get to f5. Black, on the other hand, just has to unpin the Knight and then get the Knight to f4 via the h5-square. Black, therefore, can afford to play this move, unlike White.


So again we see Black with a better than normal position after the opening. He needs to take advantage of the things given to him, but at the same time, don't push things so far at the cost of his own position as we saw in the first game. Tactics allow Black's next move.


Played on the basis that there is no good discovery for White as after 14.Nxe5 Nxe5, the Bishop on d3 would be loose if White takes the Knight on h5.

14.Re1 Nhf4

The correct Knight! This is another case where Greed could get the best of Black. Very tempting is to figure that with the Knights both on the Kingside, the Bishop pointing to the Kingside, and the Queen possibly coming in, along with maybe a move of the King to h8 and the Rook going to g8, that Black can play the other Knight and advance the g-pawn for an attack, but after 14...Ngf4? 15.Bc2 g5 16.Nh2 Nf6 17.Qd2, Black has nothing, and in fact, White is even slightly better in this position. Instead, Black takes a more tempered approach and maintains the positional advantage.


15.Bc2 is still the lesser evil here. Black has no sacrifice on h3, and from c2, he keeps a second piece eyeing the f5-square. Now, Black's next move is easy.


Once again, taking what is given to him and not refusing the offers, but at the same time, Black is not pushing for more than what was given to him.


I guess in theory they do say that a bad plan is better than no plan, but here there's little difference. White wants to be able to play g3 and kick the Knight out of f4, but Black is going to gain a pawn in the process.

16...fxe4 17.Nd2 Nd3

Also good, and possibly even better, is 17...Bf5, but there is no need for perfection in a position like this. As long as Black remains aggressive but doesn't over-extend himself, he should be happy with his position.


Virtually forced as after 18.Re2 Bf5, White is literally suffocating.

18...exd3 19.Qb1 Nf4

Black has three decent moves here. The move played in the game holds on to the pawn advantage. Two other moves are possibly even stronger, and I spent a long time looking at the second one, but mis-evaluated the resulting position, thinking that White was ok, but it turns out he isn't.

After 19...Bf5 20.Qxb7 e4!, Black has a significant advantage. He opens up e5 for the Knight potentially, and 21.g4 fails to 21...Bxg4! and White's busted.

I had spent 16 minutes on this move, and the reason was my long look at 19...Qh4! where it turns out White has no time to regain the pawn. After 21.Qxd3 Bxh3! 22.gxh3 (22.Qxg6?? Bf5+ -+) Rxf2+ 23.Bxf2 Qxf2+ 24.Kh1 Nf4. I mentally saw this position, but sometimes trying to visualize can be tricky as you need to recall which pieces are off the board, and in this case, I thought that White was ok after 25.Qf3, failing to realize at that point that the Knight would hang and Black would be winning after 25...Qxd2!

While it would have been nice to pull off this combination that I saw but didn't pull the trigger on, the move played is still advantageous for Black.

20.Bxf4 Rxf4 21.Qxd3 Rxf2

So now let's take a practical look at what Black has. He is still a pawn up, and it's a protected passed pawn on e5. With Black still possessing the Light-Squared Bishop, White cannot completely dominate the e4-square. The one thing that Black currently lacks is piece coordination between his remaining pieces. His one Rook is hanging out there at f2 while the rest of his pieces are on their starting squares. Black realizes he has no attack on the Black King, and takes what he has, which is the opportunity to regroup and likely end up in a winning endgame position.

22.Qe3 Rf7

Retreating the Rook and looking to regroup rather than a move like 22...Qf6 where 23.Nf3 might cut off communication between the Black pieces. The Rook wouldn't be trapped, but it would be in the middle of nowhere compared to the other Black pieces. Bring the Rook back, get the Queen moved to e7 and the other Rook to f8.

23.Rf1 Bf5

Black's idea is simple. He is doing something very similar to what Karpov did in a famous game of his. Karpov played the move Ba7 (as White) simple to block the file and allow himself to regroup and battery behind the Bishop before removing the block. Black is doing the same here on the f-file.


White could force Black to allow him to trade on f7 immediately, but that would entail playing 24.g4 Bg6 25.Rxf7 where Black would have to take back with either the Bishop, Queen, or King, allowing White to play 26.Rf1 with gain of time, but this would also severely weaken the White King with the Queens still on the board.

24...Qe7 25.Raf1 Raf8 26.g4 Bg6 27.Rxf7 Rxf7 28.Rxf7 Qxf7 29.Kg3 Bc2!

White gets the Bishop out of the way of the g-pawn in case Black ever needs to block the position with g7-g5. While it is a bit unusual for Black to be in a Bishop vs Knight situation where Black is the one with the Bishop in the Huebner Variation, in this case, it's an ideal situation for Black. Black basically dominates the only open file and the only open long diagonal with his Queen and Bishop. The Queen situation is obvious. Black's is on the only open file and White's is passive, which probably explains White's next move, but then the Knight is in a virtual cage as there is nowhere for it to go without getting traded off, and if it just sits passive toggling in the back area of the Kingside, Black might actually just walk his King in all the way to b2. If White using the King to counter this idea, then the King will have abandoned the Kingside and Black will be able to win either the c4-pawn or on the Kingside. White is busted. In the game, he actually tries to enter a Pawn endgame, thinking he can build a fortress, but as we will soon see, there is no fortress.

30.Qf3 Qxf3+ 31.Kxf3 Kf7 32.Ke3 Ke7 33.Ne4 Bxe4

Once again, Black takes what is given to him. Instead of trying to be fancy and keeping either the minor pieces or the Queens on the board, Black gladly trades the pieces off as there is a clear cut road to victory for Black. An important thing to note is the tempo game. Black will always win the tempo game. White has two free moves, namely a2-a3 and a3-a4. Black always has three free move, namely a7-a6, a6-a5, and b7-b6. This is why you should not make waiting moves earlier in the game. You may need these moves to win the endgame. If it comes down to the tempo game, and Black has to move first, he will definitely be glad to have that b7-b6 move in his pocket.

34.Kxe4 Kf6 35.h4 h5!

While other moves may also win, Black takes the no-nonsense approach of putting White into Zugzwang no matter what he does.


Taking or advancing the pawn don't work either. After 36.gxh5, Black wins with 36...a5 37.a4 (or 37.a3 a4 -+) b6 and the White King must move and allow the Black King in on f5, after which he will advance the King and Pawn until he is in far enough to scoop up multiple White pawns and win on either the Kingside or Queenside. The same happens after 36.g5 Kg6 37.a3 a6 38.a4 a5 and White is once again in Zugzwang.

36...hxg4+ 37.Kxg4 g6

And here once again we have White about to be forced into a Zugzwang position.

38.a3 a6 39.a4 a5 0-1

White lost on time here, but there is nothing he can do as the King must move away from f5, at which point, Black's intrusion begins.

So we saw two games where Black had the advantage from the get go, and we have seen the major difference between what happens when you get too greedy with your advantage versus what happens when you methodically use all of your trump cards as they are handed to you instead of trying to force what isn't there. If you are able to do what Black did in the second game, you will constantly win games against players that lack a theoretical understanding in the opening. It is clear from both games that White's understanding of the Rubinstein Variation of the Nimzo-Indian is severely limited, but when your opponent lacks opening knowledge, it is not enough to just assume you can either sit back and wait for him to self-capitulate, and at the same time, as this article shows, you also can't just assume that a couple of errors in the opening means you can simply blow your opponent off the board. This is especially true when your opponent has White, where the extra move allows for slightly more leeway for errors before they become fatal. Take what is given to you and work from there.

This concludes the article. Hope everyone enjoys the Holidays, and see you in 2019!