Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pawn Structures 101 - Part I

by Dr. Jason Morris


I want to share with you all some tips that boosted my rating from USCF1800 to 2000. First, let me ask you about your chess games:
  • Do you get bad positions from the opening? (I did!)
  • Do you have trouble finding a plan in the middlegame? (Yep!)
  • Does it seem that your pieces don't work together as well as your opponent's? (This drove me crazy!)
  • Do you lose many of your endgames? (Very frustrating!)
Like I did, it could be that you are having trouble with your pawn play. By studying some basic pawn theory, I extracted much more value from my opening study. What to do in the middlegames became more clear in terms of which pawns to push and which to leave alone, and I became more vigilant about how my pawn moves affected possible endgames. I continue to refine and polish this aspect of my game. You can too!

Let's dive in!

A pawn structure, or just "structure", is the arrangement of pawns in a given position. There are many great books written about this topic, as well as many good articles. I will give some references at the end of this article. One of the best that I found was "Pawn Structure Chess" by GM Andy Soltis. IMHO the newest edition is not as good as the original; many of the examples have typos. If you can get past the atrocious terminology, "Pawn Power in Chess" by Hans Kmoch is a classic. I believe there is a jargon-free translation somewhere.

In this article, we will start by talking about pawn structures as they result from the opening. In fact, what I am going to advocate here is that you approach the study of any opening from the point of view of its pawn structure first. Once you have mastered all the basic themes and ideas of the structure, you will be able to understand and appreciate the opening's different variations.

Moving Pawns is a Trade-Off
The late great Bobby Fischer noted that you "have to give some squares to get some squares."
  • When you move pawns, more squares in your territory will be left unprotected. 
  • The squares that you "get" should be worth more than the ones you "give" potentially to your opponent. 
  • Your pieces should be positioned to defend the squares not covered by your pawns. 
  • Each opening can be categorized by the squares that it forsakes versus the ones it tries to acquire.
  • The relative value of any given piece is largely a function of how it coordinates with the given pawn structure. This is particularly true of bishops and knights.
If you learn these trade-offs for squares and how they affect the quality of your pieces, your playing strength will greatly improve -- guaranteed!

Don't Memorize Openings
I learned (the hard way!) that memorizing opening variations without first understanding an opening's pawn structure is a complete waste of time. When studying a new opening, the first thing I look at is the resulting pawn structure. This will tell you where the best squares for each piece should be. The opening structure forms a skeleton or framework for the middlegame. By understanding what features and actions a given structure provides, we can understand how to play the resulting middlegames (from both sides!). In fact, different openings can result in the same pawn structure. Masters use knowledge of pawn structures to determine what the best plans are for any given position.

Move Order Matters
The term transposition is used to describe the situation where one structure changes into another, particularly in the opening. Let's see how this works in the diagram below.

This position started from a French Defense (1. e4 e6), but after the moves 2. d4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6, we have a Kan Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Had white opted for 3. d5, the structure would have been more favorable to white, so the order of the pawn moves matters. If black really wanted to play the Kan, he should use the order 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6, which avoids losing space in the center to white's d5 thrust.

Don't Fight the Structure
One of the most important lessons that I learned when I was USCF 1800 or so was not to fight the structure. By this I mean don't play pawn moves that are not strategically in accord with the structure. Doing so is a sure way to come to grief against a stronger player who will seize immediately on your errors. Unlike inferior piece moves which are often recoverable, bad pawn moves are irrevocable. Once made, they can permanently damage your game, often irreparably. Therefore, you should make only the minimum number of pawn moves to achieve your opening objectives of control of an equal portion of the center and to complete your piece development -- nothing more.

Opening Types vs. Pawn Structures

Chess openings fall into one of three main categories according to pawn structure:
  • Open games
  • Semi-open games
  • Closed games
In open game pawn structures, the four center squares (e4, d4, e5, d5) have a high probability of being completely cleared of pawns. This results in many open diagonals and files. Open games are characterized by the pawn structures that arise after 1. e4 e5, or more commonly "double king pawn" openings. These games tend to be very fast paced and tactical because pieces can come into contact with each other very quickly. Kings especially can fall under quick attack along open lines (diagonals, ranks, and files).

In closed game pawn structures, there is at least one pair of pawns facing each other in the center, usually but not always pawns at d4 and d5. Hence, games that begin 1. d4 d5 usually lead to closed positions where the center is blocked with pawns and there are few if any completely open files and diagonals. These games tend to be much slower paced, with more maneuvering.

Semi-open games result from asymmetrical replies to 1.e4, where the distribution of central pawns and half-open files becomes unbalanced. Examples of such openings are the ever popular Sicilian Defense (1. e4 c5), the Caro-Kan (1. e4 c6), and the Center Counter (Scandinavian) Defense (1 e4 d5). Such openings can result in opposite-side castling and pawn storms.

Pawn Structure Terminology

Here are some basic concepts about pawn structures. Mastering these will help you (a) evaluate positions to know who stands better and (b) to help you analyze and understand all chess openings.

Backward Pawn (weakness)
A pawn that cannot be protected by any other pawns.

In Diagram 1, the pawn on d6 is a backward pawn since it cannot be protected by any other black pawns. It is especially vulnerable to attack along the half-open d-file by white's rooks and queen.

Despite the weakness of d6, black is not without recourse here. For example, he has the moves b7-b5 to attack c4 and the moves g7-g6, f7-f5 to attack e4 and build a pawn center. Also, if black can maneuver a knight to d4, it will mask the d6 weakness. 
  • In general, avoid creating backward pawns in your position.  
  • Attack backward pawns in your opponent's position. 
Diagram 1. The classic backward d-pawn from the Sicilian Defense.
Isolated Pawn (weakness)
A pawn that has no pawns on either side.

In Diagram 2, white's d-pawn is isolated. This type of pawn needs constant protection. Whether or not this position is good or bad for white depends on whether or not the d-pawn can advance to d5 at some point. Also, the protected e5 square can be used as an outpost for white's pieces - usually a knight.
  • Avoid creating isolated pawns in your position.  
  • Attack isolated pawns in your opponent's position. 
Diagram 2. An isolated queen pawn (isolani) position.
Doubled Pawn (weakness)
Two pawns on the same file.

In Diagram 3, white has traded his white squared bishop for a knight on c6. Black followed the general principle of capturing towards the center with pawns, but this creates two weaknesses: the isolated a-pawn and the doubled c-pawns. Despite being so close, doubled pawns cannot protect each other.  In Diagram 3, white would like to play 1. dxe5 dxe5 because then black's two c-pawns would be isolated as well as doubled, making them easier to attack.

Recapturing on c6 with the d-pawn is black's preferred option in master play, but this too has pitfalls. See Diagram 8a.
  • Avoid getting doubled pawns if you can. 
  • If you cannot, then try to get some compensation for them (e.g. the pair of bishops, an open file, etc.)
Diagram 3. Doubled pawns from the RuyLopez - Exchange Variation.
Hole (weakness)
A square that cannot be protected by pawns.

In Diagram 4. black has captured a white knight at f3. White had to recapture with his g-pawn so that he did not lose his d-pawn. The result is that white has a serious hole on the f4 square. This is a perfect place for a black knight, from where it can attack e2, d3, g2, and h3 near white's king. Note that though white's f-pawns are doubled and his h-pawn is isolated, he often has the bishop pair and the half-open g-file for counterplay.
  • Avoid making holes in your pawn structure.  
  • Try to move your pieces into the holes in your opponent's pawn structure. 
Diagram 4. White has multiple pawn weaknesses.
Levers (strategic move)
Pawns that can move to attack stationary pawns on adjacent files.

In Diagram 5, arising from the King's Indian Defense, white's important lever is the move c4-c5 attacking d6. Black's lever is f7-f5 attacking e4. Note that the d6 pawn and the e4 pawn cannot avoid the lever actions because they are blocked by the d5 and e5 pawns, respectively.
  • Use lever moves to open lines and to disrupt your opponent's pawn structure, particularly around his king. 
  • Attack pawn chains at their base and head with lever moves.
Diagram 5. Levers in the KID.
Pawn Chain (strategic element)
A diagonal line of pawns that mutually protect each other.

In Diagram 6, the white pawns from b2 to e5 form a self-protecting chain.

Play on the side of the board in which your pawn chain "points" (i.e., where you have more space).  
Diagram 6. The classic French Defense pawn chain.
Base (strategic element)
The first pawn in a pawn chain.

Head (strategic element)
The last pawn in a pawn chain.

In Diagram 7, the pawn at e5 is the head of white's chain. 
In Diagram 7, the pawn at b2 is the base of white's chain.

This position arises from the French Defense. White has built a pawn chain driving into black's kingside. Black's counterplay depends on his levers c7-c5 and sometimes f7-f6. Black would like to play 1. .. cxd4 2. cxd4 and create a backward pawn on d4. Then he could attack it with a knight on c6 or a queen on b6.
  • Use levers to attack the base and head of pawn chains.
  • Be careful about creating holes when attacking head pawns.
Diagram 7. Action against pawn chains.
Passed Pawn (strategic advantage)
A pawn that cannot be stopped by enemy pawns.

Pawn structures should always be evaluated as to their potential to produce passed pawns. Diagram 8a comes from the Exchange Ruy Lopez. If play continues 1. .. exd4 2. Qxd4 Qxd4 3. Nxd4, then white's majority on the kingside will produce a passed pawn where as black's cannot due to the doubled c-pawn. This gives white a long-term strategic advantage. This advantage is counter-balanced in practice by black having the bishop pair.

In Diagram 8b, both white and black have passed pawns. Evaluate the position and give the result.

Diagram 8a. Pawn majorities.

Diagram 8b. White to play. What is the result?

Hanging Pawns (strategic element)
Connected pawns unopposed on adjacent open files.
  • Can be used for attack and to control central space.
  • Can (potentially) create a passed pawn.
  • Can come under attack along half-open files.
  • Lose strength when one pawn must move forward.
Diagram 8. Hanging pawns.


Chess openings should be studied from the point of view of the resulting pawn structure. If you understand the resulting structure in terms of its strengths and weaknesses, then you will understand how to play the resulting position, both as white and as black. The pawn structure dictates where the most effective squares are for your pieces and your opponents'.
  • Holes in your opponents pawn structure should be exploited by posting a piece on that square. The best piece to post is often a knight. 
  • Backward pawns on open files should be attacked by doubling and even tripling major pieces (rooks and queens) against them. 
  • Make pawn exchanges that isolate, double, or otherwise expose your opponents pawns to attack. 
  • Make piece exchanges that create pawn weaknesses in your opponent's camp. 
  • Whenever you make pawn moves, ask yourself "How does this impact my endgame? What squares am I getting and what squares am I weakening?" 
  • When you make pawn moves (particularly near your king), always consider how you will cover the resulting weakness(es) and anticipate how your opponent will respond. (e.g., what lines and diagonals am I opening? Am I creating invasion points for my opponent's pieces or targets for my opponent's pawn advances?)
Of course, there is much more to say about this topic :-) We'll save that for later articles. All comments and feedback welcome!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Quick Tournament 10/24/16 - Free Entry! - Come Join the Fun!

GM Van Wely vs GM Van der Sterren - Black to move and win!

Two puzzles to really test your chess skills .....and an announcement about our Quick Tournament.

First off we had 12 players this week, and we welcomed a new member - Marcus W.

Good to see you here!

Lots of casual chess was played.

This was all in preparation for our Quick Tournament (15 min per player, with 5 second delay allowed), that starts Oct. 24.

Due to scheduling issues we had to change the date a couple times, but this time all systems are go!

We will play two rounds on Monday October 24 and the final two rounds November 7. We always try and skip a week to give players a break if they want it, but with Halloween being the Monday in between, it is even a better reason to separate the tournament by a week.

Look, you cannot beat two games of tournament chess fun in one night! Come join us. We open at 6pm and will try to get the tournament started by 6:45pm at the latest.

GM Van der Sterren vs GM Karpov - Black to move and win!

And now another puzzle.

GM Van der Sterren was the winner in one puzzle and the victim in the other.

Enjoy and we will see you next Monday at LCCC!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Quick Tournament in Two Weeks! - Nine Players on 101016

LCCC's John R. in some tournament action.
We had nine players for casual chess tonight - with the help of the free oatmeal cookies!

Open chess next week also.

Now about LCCC's next free  tournament action!

We will have a tournament starting that will feature 15 minute games with an optional 5 second delay.
We will play two rounds per night.

 So the tournament will run on October 24 and November 7 for four total rounds.
If by chance we have enough entries, we may have another round on November 14 to settle ties (i.e., multiple players 4 - 0).

This will be a fun event and plenty of chess action to make it worth your while to be here.

The Club opens at 6pm and we will try to get the tournament going no later than 6:45 pm.

That way the last round of the night can start by 7:30. Stop on by next Monday for practice and the following week to experience some friendly chess tournament action!

Now for a club game:

Scandinavian Defense
1. e4          c6
2. d4         d5
3. exd5      Qxd5
4. Nc3       Qa5
5. Bd2       Qc7
6. Qf3       Nf6
7. h3         e6
8. Bf4        Bd6
9. Bxd6      Qxd6
10. O-O-O        Nbd7
11. Bc4        Nb6
12. Bb3        a6
After Black's move  12. ......    a6

This last move by Black secures b5. Igor3000 has White's advantage margin grow from the (+.3) of a pawn.had before the game started, to (+.4) now.

13. Nge2       Nbd5
14.  Bxd5      cxd5
15. Qg3        Qxg3
White chooses the wrong plan. 15. g4 or Nf4 kept a slight advantage for White. Instead (EVEN).

16. Nxg3       b5
17. b3          Bd7
18. Rhe1       O-O
19. Kd2?        Rfc8
White heads in the wrong direction and out into the open. 19. Kb2 or a3 were better. Black takes a small lead (-.3 of a pawn).

20. Re3         Rc7
21. Rc1         Rac8
22. Nce2       h5!
23. f3!          a5?!
White stops any intrusion on e4. Black is indecisive as to if he is attacking on the King-side or the Queen-side. 23. .....h4 was consistent. Now the game is back to (EVEN).

24. c3?           h4!
Whites' move was much too passive. 24. h4 or Rc3 was required for equality. Now (-.5). Black threatens to win material, while gaining space.

25. Nf1         b4
26. Nh2?       Bb5
White is playing too passively. 26. Re5 is an interesting possibility. Now Black is up a full pawn (-1).

27. Nf4?         g5
Black is allowed to improve his position without having to use any moves of his own. Black keeps being allowed to hassle Whites' pieces to get them on better squares for free. (-2.2)

28. Nxe6?       fxe6
29. Ng4?          Nxg4
'If losing on the wing, attack in the center' is the old adage. White ignores that advice and insists on trading into a losing endgame.

30. fxg4         Rxc3
31. Rcxc3        Rxc3
32. Rxc3        bxc3
33. Kxc3         Bf1
White Resigns

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Open Chess on Monday 100316 - Open Chess Next Week - Then Quick Tourney

Barbara Stanwick playing her director - Gary Cooper watches.
We had six players tonight and some casual and speed chess was played. Also some group reviews of a couple of chess positions.....all in the name of learning.

We will have a Quick tournament start on October 17, two rounds a night! Be sure to join this fun event.

Now a game from our Luigi Milani in his last tournament.

A.R. (774) vs Luigi Milani (889)

1. d4       d5
2. c4       e6
3. cxd5    exd5
4. Nc3      Nf6
5. Bf4       Bd6
6. Bxd6      Qxd6
7. Nf3       O-O
8. c3        Bg4
9. h3       Bh5
10. g4!?      Bg6
11. Bd3!?   ........
This g-pawn lunge is not completely wrong, as top level chess sees this move all the time. But it must be followed up correctly or else it is very weakening. The pros know what rules to break and when to break them. And 11. Ne5 may have been stronger. One typical idea is 11. Ne5, Nbd7 12. Nxg6, hxg6 13. Bg2 and White can still consider castling on the king-side as the bishop on g2 lends some cover to the King. [Igor3000 says 11. Qb3 was good for White also.]

11. .......        Bxd3
12. Qxd3      Re8
13. O-O-O      Ne4!

Castling on the king-side was no longer an option for White after the exchange of the light-squared bishops.
Black now has a very annoying knight posted, threatening a fork on f2, and White cannot take the intruder because a pawn fork would result instead. [Igor3000 has Black winning (-.4) of a pawn.]

14. Qc2      Nc6
15. Nb5?!    Qd7
In chess, you really want to avoid making one move threats that do not improve your position. Black is going to move his queen back and then what is the knight on b5 doing? Not much.
Already White has to worry about a discovered attack on that knight.
Except, he doesn't - Oops!

16. Ne5??      Nxe5
17. Nxc7       Rac8!
The White Queen and King are lined up on an open file. That always makes opposing rooks very happy! [(-5.7)]

18. Kb1       Rxc7
19. Qd3       Nxf2
Black was so happy to get the chance to fork all the major pieces that he missed the free Queen on d3!

20. Qf1        Nxh1
21. Qxf1      Nc4
22. Qe1       Rxe3
23. Qf2       Qb5
One of the main advantages of being up material (especially extra pieces) is that you can use the advantage to launch an attack on the enemy king. Black does just that.

24. Rc1       Na3+
25. Ka1      Rxc1++

A nice game by Luigi!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Casual Chess on 092616 - Quick Tournament Oct 10 - A Spassky Classic

Chess is a game for everyone.....casual or formal.
We had seven players this Monday night. And we will have open chess again next week, so stop on by.

For those looking for some tournament action, the LCCC Quick Tournament will begin on Oct 10!

The time limit will be 10 minutes per player with a 5 second delay. Two rounds will be played!

The final two rounds will be played two weeks later on October 24. If we need a final tie break round, that will be on November 7.

So if you always thought that chess was a slow game, here is your chance to experience it .....well....quick!

Its a fun tournament so be sure to sign up!

Now another classic game by Boris Spassky!

Boris Spassky – Lev Polugaevsky
USSR Championship, Baku 1961
       1.      d4                    Nf6
       2.      c4                    e6
       3.      Nf3                  b6
       4.      Nc3                 Bb7
       5.      Bg5                 Bb4
Spassky prefers the complications of this line to the early trades of the counter-fianchetto in the Queen’s Indian. [Igor3000 has the position at (+.3) of a pawn for White.]

       6.      e3                    h6
       7.      Bh4                 g5
       8.      Bg3                 Ne4
       9.      Qc2                Bxc3
      10.  bxc3                d6
      11.  Bd3                 Nxg3
A double edged position is reached after a series of normal moves. (+.2)
      12.  fxg3                 g4
      13.  Nh4                 Qg5
      14.  O-O!                Qxe3+
This sacrifice suggests itself. Anything else allows Black time for castling long. (EVEN)

      15.  Kh1                 Nd7!
The beginning of a very deep defense. Now if 16. Rae1, Qg5 and the White rook is misplaced on e1. (+.2)

      16.  Rf4                  Rg8
      17.  Raf1                O-O-O!
The real threat was 18. Qd1 and Re1 with a snare of the Queen. Now this idea fails to 18. ……Ne5! 19. dxe5, de     and the Bishop on d3 falls. White tries to keep the trap “on” with his next move. (+.2)

       18.  R1f2                Qe1+!
Again ….a witty defense! White would have met 18. …..Ne5 with 19. Bf1! But now, Bf1 is weak as 19. …..e5 20. Re2 and the Black Queen can hide on a1! (EVEN)

       19.  Rf1                  Qe3
       20.  Rxf7                Rdf8
       21.  Qe2                 Qxe2
Spassky visualizes that in the ending he will have a King-side majority, targets to work on and the more active pieces. In contrast, Black’s active Queen makes the middle game barren. (+.2)

       22.  Bxe2                h5
       23.  Kg1                 Be4
       24.  Rxf8+              Nxf8
Actually forced because the minor piece ending is very bad after 24. ….Rxf8 25. Rxf8, Nxf8 26. h3     and Black’s King is too far away. (EVEN)

       25.  Kf2!                Ng6
       26.  Ke3                 Bc6
Exchanging the White Knight on h5 for Black is not as good as it looks. (+.4 instead of EVEN)

       27.  Rf6                  Nxh4
The sixth rank for White is more important than the seventh. If the Knight were on d7, White would not have much. [(EVEN) White doesn’t have much now. But Igor3000 is not Spassky. Actually,  Polugaevsky stops defending like Igor3000.]

       28.  gxh4                g3!
But Polugaevsky is still defending well at this point. (EVEN)

       29.  hxg3                Rxg3+
       30.  Kf4                  Rxg2
       31.  Bxh5               Rxa2
       32.  Rxe6                a5
       33.  Bg4                 Kd8
       34.  h5                    Rh2?

Position after Black played  34. ..........Rh2?

This move was the error. 

[Igor3000 sees 34. …..Rf2+ 35. Kg5, Rg2 36. Re2, Rg1 37. Kh4, Rh1+ (EVEN). Instead White leads (+1.2)].

       35.  h6                    Bd7
After the pawn race begins with 35. …..a5 36. Kg3, Rh1 37. Bh3, Rg1+ 38. Kf4, Rb1 39. h7, Rh1 40. Bf5 wins easily. (+1.2) Now it is all simply a matter of Spassky technique.]

       36.  Kg3!!               Rh1
Taking the rook with 36. …. Bxe6 loses in all lines.

       37.  Bf3!                 Rg1+
       38.  Bg2!                Rc1
Now all the right squares are covered and the h-pawn must reach the eighth rank.

       39.  h7                    Rxc3+
       40.  Kh2                 Bxe6
       41.  h8 = (Q)+        Ke7
       42.  d5                    Resigns

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Nine Players on 091916 Monday - Quick Tournament Starts Oct 3, 2016

Chess is fun for everyone!
We had eight regular players and one new one show up this Monday.

LCCC welcomes Eric S to the club! He got in quite a few casual games this evening.

The next event on the agenda at LCCC will be a Quick Tournament. This means the rounds will have a time limit for each player of 10 to 15 minutes, with a 5 second delay for the clocks that can do that.

We will probably play two rounds a night, so this tournament will go quickly. We will play the tournament on every other Monday - starting October 3rd, 2016. First round will start as close to 6:30pm as possible.

Please join the tournament by preregistering next Monday at the club or by email. Or, get to the club at 6pm and let our tournament director you want into this fun event. As usual, the event is free!

Now another win by the Michigan Class C Champion and LCCC member - Gene McClure. Notes by Gene!

Kung (1700) - McClure (1578)
1. e4      c5
2. Nf3      Nc6
3. d4      cxd4
4. Nxd4      Nf6
5. Nc3       d6
6. Bc4     e6
7. Be3     a6
8. Qd2    Be7
9. Bb3     ........
Rybka prefer this Bishop on e2.

9. .......       O-O
10. O-O     Na5!   Game even
11. f4       Ng4
I seized the chance to gain the bishop pair.

12. f5      Nxe3
13. Qxe3      Nxb3
14. axb3       Qb6?!
This move is not as strong as it seemed here. Rybka prefers Bd7 first.

15. Qf2        Bf6
16. Nde2      Qxf2+
17. Rxf2       b5
18. Rd1?!      .........
Rybka gives 18. Nxb5! which White said after the game he considered. (-.6)

18. .......        Rd8
19. Nf4        exf5
20. Rfd2?!      ........
Rybka wanted either one of White's knights on d5 (-1.1).

20. .......        Bb7?
Rybka says fxe4, then if 21. Rxd6, then ....Bb7 (-1.8) - a pawn and position.
Position after Black played 20. ......Bb7?

21. Nfd5       Bg5
22. Re2        f4
23. Rf1        b4?!
Trying to set up a skewer of White's rooks.

24. Nxb4       a5
25. Nbd5?     ........
To prevent the skewer, Nd3 was required (-.8).

25. ........        Ba6
26. Nxf4        Bxe2
27. Nfxe2       Be3+
28. Kh1        Rac8
29. g3         Bc5
30. Nd5       Re8
31. Nec3       Re5
32. Kg2       Rf8
33. Ra1       Bb4
34. g4       Rg5?
Rybka gives 34.....Bxc3 or h5 (-.9). It was probably better to leave my Rook pressuring White's e-pawn. [Now (+.2) says Igor3000]

35. Kf3      h5
36. h3       hxg4+
37. hxg4     Re8?
Rybka said I needed the rook back on e5 (even). Instead (+.8).

38. Rd1?    ........
(-.3) Back and forth. If 38. Nb5, f6 39. Nbc7, Rb8 40. c3, Bc5 41. Rxa5, Rxb3 42. Rb5, Rxb5 43. Nxb5 (+1.5) - White passed b-pawn.

38. .......        Rg6
39. Nf4?       Rh6!
White was now in time pressure and it appears mental fatigue set in. [-.5 according to Igor3000].

40. Kg3?       ........
This loses the e-pawn. 40. Ncd5 holding on. Instead (-1.8)

40. ......          Bxc3
41. bxc3        Rxe4
42. Rd5?       Rxe3+

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gene McClure Wins at the Michigan Open 2016

Gene McClure (left) playing James Karakos
LCCC had seven players play in the Labor Day Michigan Open this year. We also had three former club members in attendance also - Emily and Pat K and Eric Wright - president of the Ann Arbor Chess Club.

Our contingent was:
James K - 3-0-4
Tom H - 2-2-3
Mike N - 2-2-3
Nick D - 2-4-1
John R - 1-2-4
Paul M - 0-2-5
and also the winner of the Class C Division for the State of Michigan - Gene McClure!

Gene finished with a score of 5-1-1 - for SECOND in the overall Reserve Section Tournament and FIRST in the C Division. Congratulations Gene!

LCCC seems to have a lock on this division - in both the Michigan Open and the Michigan Class Championships. Just take a look at our Hall of Fame!

Here is one of Gene's games from the Open. Gene's comments - no brackets. Igor3000 in [  ].

McClure vs Evans
1. e4      c5
2. c3      d6
3. d4      cxd4
4. cxd4     e6
5. Nf3     Bd7
6. Nc3      Be7
7. Bd3      h6?!
8. O-O      Nf6
9. h3      O-O
10. Be3      Nc6
11. a3      Rc8

Position after move 11. White to move.

12. Bc2     Na5
13. Qd3      Nc4!
The correct move order for White was 13. e5 and 14. Qd3. Black took 25 minutes before making this last move.

14. e5 ?!    ........
The move 14. Bc1 prevents 14. Nxb2, but neither player saw this move at the time.

14.  .......    Nxc3?
[Black forgets about the h7 mate threat once his knight is threatened or taken.(-3.5)]

15. fxe3?!     dxe5
[+2.9 - but the better line for White was 15. exf6, Nxc2 (to prevent mate) 16. fxe7, Qxe7 17. Qxc2 (+3.5)]

16. dxe5      Rxc3??
and Black resigns ten moves later.
[ (+5) 16. ....  g6 would at least gives some hope.]