Saturday, September 7, 2013

Games Department

by Jason Morris

Hi All LCCCers,

This time around, we'll feature some games from the 2013 Michigan Open. Let's get to the action.

2013 Michigan Open - Round 6
Alexander Deatrick (2054) - Matt Trujillo (1822)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 Nc6 

So we have a Symmetrical English, which can transpose to many different systems depending on what white plays next. 4. e4, 4. d4, 4. g3, 4. e3, and even 4. d3 are all possible here. In choosing 4. g3, white's plan is to aim the Bg2 on the center and queen side and to wait to see where black commits his center pawns and pieces. A more classical player might opt for 4. e4 to restrain d7-d5, then play 0-0 and d2-d4 aiming for a Maroczy Bind Sicilian position.

4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. d4 

White decides to open the center now before black can clamp down on d4 with e5. However, 6. 0-0 was an option here.

6. ... cxd4 7. Nxd4  O-O 

This is a position where it is easy to go astray as black. The problem is that black seems to have no good way to continue his development. Both 8. ... d6 and 8. ... b6 lose a pawn. I recall being flummoxed in this position against Fred Lindsay (white) many decades back, and I failed to resolve the problem and got tied in knots. If I recall correctly, I played something horrible like 8. ... a6 and 9. ... Qc7 to defend c6, but inaccurate moves against like this just create more weak squares and targets for white's pieces.

8. O-O 8. ... Nxd4?!

This leads to a definite pull for white. Generally, you should avoid moving the same piece twice in the opening, which includes making captures that only speed your opponent's development. Although black seems tied up (he can't move his b-pawn or d-pawn to let the Bc8 out), he can equalize here a few ways:

(a) 8. ... Ng4!?
(b) 8. ... Qb6!?
(c) 8. ... Qa5!?

(a) 8. ... Ng4 9. e3 Nge5 10. b3 d6 11. Bb2 Nxd4 12. exd4 Nc6 13. d5 Ne5 14. f4 Nd7 15. Qd2 0-0 black is OK.
(b) 8. ... Qb6, 9. e3 d6, 10. b3 Bd7 11. Bb2 Rfe8 12. Qd2 Rac8 and black has completed his development.
(c) 8. ... Qa5 with the obvious idea of Qc5 and the not-so-obvious idea of transferring the queen to h5 with Ng4 to follow. For how this might work, we step back to round 5 and the game Deatrick - Finegold from round 5. Ben got his queen active, switched flanks, and exploited the weak dark squares around white's king:

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Ng4 9. e3 d6 10. b3 Nge5 11. h3 Qa5 12. Bb2 Nxd4 13. exd4 Nc6 14. Ne2 Qh5 15. g4 Qh4 16. Bc3 f5 17. f3 f4 18. d5 Ne5 19. Bd4 h5 20. Nc3 hxg4 21. hxg4 Bxg4! 22. fxg4 Nxg4 23. Rf3 Bxd4+ 24. Qxd4 Qh2+ 25. Kf1 Ne3+ 26. Ke2 Qxg2+ 27. Rf2 Qg4+ 28. Kd2 Qf5 29. Ne4 Ng4 30. Rf3 Ne5 31. Rf2 Qh3 32. Raf1 Qe3+ 0-1  

 9. Qxd4 d6 10. Qd2

White plans b3-Bb2 to oppose the Bg7 and he wants the squares b2, c1, d1, and d4 all guarded. However, objectively in terms of dark square control, the lateral 10. Qh4 was better. White then has the annoyingly effective plan of Bg5 (aimed at e7, f6, h6, and d8), Rfe1, Rad1, and e2-e4-e5 initiating central lever action against the d6 pawn. The additional point is that the Qh4 guards the vulnerable c4 pawn. When you have gained a forward position (Qd4), be reluctant to trade it for a retreat that blocks your own development (Qd2). Note also that h4 is the square that Ben based his queen at in the above game.

10. ... Rb8?!

The idea is counter play with b7-b5 against the c4 pawn, but black misses his chance to take advantage of the passivity of white's Qd2. Black could have struck with 10. ... Be6! with the following main lines:

(a) 10. ... Be6 11. Bxb7 Rb8 12. Bf3 Bxc4 13. b3 Be6 14. Rd1 Re8 15. Bb2 Qa5 and black has good play.
(b) 10. ... Be6 11. b3 d5! and the pin on the Nc3 lets black liquidate the center and equalize. 
(c) 10. ... Be6 11. Rd1 Bxc4 12. Bxb7 Rb8 13. Bf3 Be6 14. b3 Re8 15. Bb2 Qa5 16. Ne4 Qxd2 17. Nxd2 Nd7 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Rac1 Rec8 and black is equal.

11. b3 Nd7

Black is trying to get a knight to c5, but it's questionable whether this is a useful square. The knight should stay on the king side to control d5 and intercept white's intended Nd5.

12. Bb2 a5

Aimed at preventing b4 dislodging the knight, but again black is spending time anchoring a knight that strikes into thin air. Meanwhile, white continues his build-up.

13. Rfd1 Nc5 14. Nd5

Both sides have accomplished their missions, but white's knight has targets and is closer to the black king and that gives white a slight advantage now.

14. ... Bxb2 15. Qxb2 Bf5 

Optically good, but black should be aiming to kill that monster knight on d5 with Be6-Bxd5. Note that black can't chase the knight with e6? which would fatally weaken f6 and d6.

16. Qd4 

White had perhaps a simpler positional plan in Rd4 with the idea of Rad1 followed by e2-e4-e5.

16. ... b5? 

Black is consistent, but this has a tactical flaw.

17. cxb5 Rxb5 18. e4

There will be pinning and uncovering threats on the d-file once white advances e4-e5, Whether black captures or not will determine how bad the damage is. That said, white misses the stronger 18. Qh4 threatening e7 and angling for Qh6 when the e4 idea gains strength.

18. ... Bd7?

For better or worse, black had to play the ugly 18. ... e5 to blunt white's initiative. Black would still be worse, but he'd avoid the coming debacle.

19. Qe3? 

White slips, trying to play e5 under perceived better circumstances, but he should have followed through with the natural and strong 19. e5! which shatters black's pawn structure. 19. e5! Ne6 20. Qa7 causes black all kinds of problems. Then if 20. ... dxe5? 21. Nf6+! would pulverize black.

19. ... Ne6?

Again black misses the danger to his dark squares, and e5 was the answer. Then one defensive idea could be to:
  1. Maneuver the Nc5 to e6, 
  2. Trade the bishop for the Nd5 via Bd7-Bc6, then 
  3. Play Nd4 with a protected, centralized knight.

20. Rac1 (e5 was still good here) f6

Black rightly seeks to stop e4-e5, but now white brings up the reinforcements.

21. f4 Rc5 22. f5

I suspect white lost patience with the position when he could have just turned the screws tighter with 22. a3 when black has no constructive moves.

22. ... Rxc1 23. Rxc1 Nc5 

Mine is not to question why... mine is just to do or die...

24. fxg6 hxg6 25. Qh6 g5?? 26. Qg6+ Kh8 

You only get so many miss-steps against someone who out-rates you by 200 points, then it's lights out. Now it's lights out. 

Position after 26. ... g5?

27. e5! 

A clearance sacrifice, taking advantage of the overloaded d-pawn and the weakness of the b1-h7 diagonal. The spectre of a sac on c5 and then Be4 setting up mating threats prevents any capture of the e-pawn. Meanwhile, the e-pawn spreads havoc in black's camp, setting fire to all it touches. If 27. ... fxe5 then 28. Rxc5 dxc5 29 Be4 will cost black both his bishop and rook to avoid mate.

27. ... Be8 28. Qh6+ Kg8 29. exf6 exf6 30. Rf1 Nd7 31. Be4 Rf7 32. Bf5 Nf8

With a knight on f8, there is no mate... unless your opponent has you in the Vulcan Death Grip.

33. Bd3 Nd7 34. Bc4 f5 35. Rxf5! 1-0

If 35. ... Rxf5 36. Nf6+ is a very pretty double-discovered mate. All in all, Matt had a great tournament, scoring 3.5/7 against 2190 average rated opponents!

Next up, we have an up and down affair from round 7. Like the warning sign says at the Silver Lake Dune Rides over on Lake Michigan, make sure you keep your hands and feet in the buggy as we go through this game!

2013 Michigan Open - Round 7
Jeff Futrell (1676) - Patrick Kinnicutt (1438)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 e6 4. Bxc4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Nf3 b6

After a pretty standard Queen's Gambit Accepted, black starts to lose the thread. In the QGA, black gives up control of the center when he plays dxc4. The only way to avoid being eventually pushed back by white's extra center pawn is to play c5 quickly and counter-attack d4. This and black's 7th and 8th moves aren't geared to that, and this should lead to early trouble in the center.

7. O-O

Here white had the much stronger 7. Qa4+ probing black's queenside and pretty much forcing 7. ... c6.

7. ... Bb7 8. Qe2 Nc6

Now white can react immediately with 9. d5! pushing black's pieces from the center.

9. Rd1 O-O 10. d5 exd5 11. Nxd5 

White had the sharper 11. e5 when black has to find 11. ... Re8! to avoid a debacle. For example: 11. ... Re8 12. Nxd5 Bd6 13. Nxf6+ gxf6 14. Bxf7+ Kxf7 15. Qc4+ Re6 16. exd6 cxd6 17. Bf4 with a great position. If 12. exf6 then 12. ... Bd6! just keeps the balance.

11. ... Nxd5 12. Bxd5 Qc8 13. Bg5 

White had the positionally superior 13. Bf4 with the idea of attacking c7 via Rac1.

13. ... Bxg5 14. Nxg5 Ne5

This is a mistake that costs a pawn. 14. ... h6 removing the target and driving the knight back was far better.

15. Nxh7 Bxd5

Holding on was 15. ... Re8

16. Rxd5

White is too hasty to regain his material. Simply 16. Nxf8 would have left him up material in a winning position. For example, 16. Nxf8 Bc4 17. Qh5 Nd3 18. Nh7 Nf4 19. Qg5 Ng6 20. Qc1 Be2 21. Re1 Qg4 22. Ng5 Nh4 23. g3 Bb5 24. a4 Be8 25. Ra3 defending f3 and removing all tricks based on Qxg5 and Nf3+.

16. ... Re8 17. Qh5 Ng6

This blunder should have cost black the game due to the attack on the h-file and black's weak king. 17. ... Qe6 was the last chance to throw a spanner in the works.

18. Ng5

White is now completely winning.  All he has to do is consolidate his position and re-group for a second wave attack with f4-f5.

Position after 18. Ng5

18. ... Re5 

Black plays for complications.

19. Qh7+ 

Still winning, but not nearly as clear-cut as 19. Rxe5 Nxe5 20. f4 when black loses more material.

19. ... Kf8 20. Rxe5 Nxe5 21. Qh8+

Again, white could have transposed to the line above here. In one move, white throws away a +6 advantage to only +1.

21. ... Ke7 22. Qxg7 Qh8 23. Qxh8 Rxh8 

Despite being two pawns down, black's pieces are more active than white's, and this will lead to him recovering some material.

24. Rd1 f6 25. Nh3 Rh4 

The more targets black has for his rook and king, the better his drawing chances. So, the aggressive 25. ... Nf3+! would have given white more problems.

26. f4 Ng6 

Pressing with 26. ... Ng4 was an option. With white's rook, knight and king somewhat clustered Black could also hurry his knight to c5 via f8-e6 to attack the e-pawn and to support his queen-side majority. Passive retreating will let white consolidate.

27. Rf1 a5

Objectively, I'm not sure this pawn move helps anything.

28. Rf3

White misses a chance to increase his advantage with the apparently anti-positional 28. f5! with the idea of 29. Nf4 and Nd5+ or Ng6+.  For example, 28. f5 Ne5 29. Nf4 c6 30. g3 Rh8 31. Rd1 and white has untangled.

28. ...  a4 29. Nf2

No need to jettison a pawn.  Just the simple Kf2-g3 would have worked.

29. ... Rxf4 30. Rxf4 Nxf4 31. g3 Ne2+ 32. Kf1 Nc1 33. a3 c5

Black pokes a hole in his pawn structure without a good reason. Simply 33. ... c6 was far less committal. White still has a thin edge, his ace in the hole being his outside passed h-pawn. But before sending it on it's way, white should secure the queen side with 34. Nd1.

34. h4 b5 35. h5

White should drive out the knight with Ke1-d2. The h-pawn dies for nothing.

35. ... b4 36. Nd1

And this throws away any advantage white might have had. While white has dithered, black has managed to creep his pawns closer. What becomes decisive is that white's king is too far away to help defend.

36. ... Nd3 37. Ke2 (37. Ne3 still held the draw.) Nxb2 38. h6 Kf7

Amazing. From being totally winning, white is now totally losing

39. Ne3 Kg6

Ugh!  And black misses the win with just 39. ... bxa3 and white is busted.

40. Kd2

and here 40. Nc2! holds the draw!

40. ... Kxh6 41. Kc2 

Oh dear!  And here, as scary as it seemed, 41. axb4 cxb4 42. Kc2 a3 43. Kb3 Nd3 44. Nc2 was the way.

41. ... bxa3 42. Kb1 c4 43. Ka2 c3 44. Kxa3 Nd3 45. Kxa4 Nc5+ 46. Kb4 Nxe4 47. Kc4 Kg5 48. Kd4 Nxg3 49. Kxc3 Kg6 50. Kd4 Kf7 51. Kd5 Ke7 52. Ng4 f5 53. Ke5 1/2-1/2

And your humble annotator needs some Advil and Dramamine.


  1. Great blog! The information you provide is quiet helpful. Tactical supply RealCat Arms – Guns, Ammunition, and Accessories.

  2. The first game was a good battle by both players. Matt played well, and had attacking chances. A few misses and Alexander was able to capitalize. All in all a good game, and great tournament for Matt...As for game 2, it was definitely a wild one. White was winning throughout, but black never gave up. So credit to you pat! After 24.RD1 white was in full control and still couldn't get the win. Heart breaking Draw for white. Composure and patience for black. Thanks for the games!

  3. In game #1, it's more correct to say that Matt had equalizing chances, but he was at no time attacking. After 8. ... Nxd4?! he handed the initiative to white. White did not prosecute this as aggressively as he could have, but once black had spent five tempos on the Nf6-Nd7-Nc5, a5, Rb8, b5 plan, white had built a winning advantage in the center.

    The simple lesson in Game #2 is that you never win by resigning. So, good for Pat!

  4. Great annotations Jason. I look forward to going through them in more detail this evening when I have a board in front of me. White choked the life out of me in that game...I kept struggling to find a plan and my idea to clamp down and try some minority attack on the queenside was clearly inferior.

  5. Thanks, Matt!
    You had a tough Swiss Gambit* there! Congrats on the final result!

    * taking 1/2 byes in the first rounds almost always means you will be paired up the rest of the tournament.