Tuesday, September 9, 2014

FM Seth Homa Annotates! - and a Nice Monday of Open Chess at LCCC

Seth Homa doing a simultaneous exibition at LCCC!
We had eleven players tonight playing chess and giving lessons. A nice evening. But what a treat we have for LCCC readers!

FIDE Master (FM) Seth Homa graciously annotated one of his wins in his title winning 2014 Michigan Open and sent it to LCCC!

For all the fans of chess, this is a wonderful look into how a chess master looks at a chess board. A lesson - actually several - for all of us mere mortals who enjoy the greatest game on earth. Enjoy!

 Michigan Open 2014, Dearborn, MI., 2014.08.30 – Round 3
[White "Homa, Seth", 2464]
[Black "Hubbard, Andrew", 2147]
[Result "1-0"], [ECO "A46"]
Seth: “This is one of two games I played while proudly wearing my Livingston County Chess Club shirt. I went 2/2 with it, including this victory over FIDE Master, Andrew Hubbard.
[Editor's note: Seth, we are honored you wore it! PS: My LCCC shirt worked for me too!!!]

1. d4    Nf6
2. Nf3    e6
3. Bg5 …..
The Torre Attack is none too popular at master level play, although it carries some bite against the Nimzo move order.}
3. …..     c5
4. e3    b6
This is a small slip. Black had to exchange on d4 first before fianchettoing his queen's bishop.
5.  d5  ……
After this move, Black went into a deep think of 25 minutes.
5. ……   exd5
6. Nc3    …..
He can't let the d5-pawn stay or else his development would have been cramped. White's idea here is to recapture on d5 with a piece, as that will be the best method of fighting against Black's backward d7-pawn. Needless to say - 6. Bxf6 , Qxf6 7. Qxd5, Qxb2 8. Qxa8, Qc1+ 9. Ke2, Ba6+ 10. c4 Bxc4# would be embarrassing for White.
6...... Be7
7. Nxd5 Bb7
8. Bxf6   ……
All enemy pieces that can possibly fight for the d5-square must be exchanged.
8. …..     Bxf6
 9. c3   ……
Closing the a1-h8 diagonal. Black's dark-squared bishop is just a spectator.
9. …..    Nc6
10. Bc4    O-O
11. O-O    Re8
12. Qd3    ……
White's development is free and easy. All of his attention is focused on the backward d-pawn and on the squares in front of it.
12.  …..     d6
13. Rad1  …..
White has a clear edge. Black has no real play here.
13. …..     Ne5
Seeking to ease the pressure on his position through exchanges.
14. Nxe5   ……
White shouldn't be too fixated on the idea of a clearly better pawn structure. In chess, you must always be flexible in your thinking.  Here, I decided to "straighten out" Black's pawns in order to grab the initiative against Black's kingside and also along the d-file. Statics for dynamics.
14. …..      dxe5
Both 14...Bxe5 and 14...Rxe5 would have been met by 15.f4! with a different kind of suffering.
15. Qf5     ……
White's activity is quite scary.
15. …..     Bc8
There was no real option of taking my strong knight. For example: 15... Bxd5  16. Bxd5, Qc8 (Intending to meet 17.Qxc8? with 17...Raxc8! avoiding material loss) 17. Qh5 g6 18. Qf3 is devastating.
16. Nxf6+    Qxf6
17. Qxf6     gxf6

After Black moved 17. ......gxf6
Yet another transformation of advantages has occurred. White exchanged queens which greatly diminished his attacking power. However, he still holds the initiative thanks to his control over the d-file. True, I've also regained the better pawn structure but it will be next-to-impossible to exploit Black's doubled pawns.
18. Rd6      Kg7
Black cannot solve his problems through exchanges. For example:  18...   Be6 19. Bxe6,  fxe6 ({Or} 19... Rxe6 20. Rd7) 20. Rd7 {and Rfd1.})
19. Rfd1    ……
It is clear that Black is suffering but it is not entirely clear that the game is lost. There is more work to be done.
19.  …..     Re7
Black's problems were compounded by having only 26 minutes left to make move 40.
20. f3      …….
I am very proud of this move. It seems anti-positional. In a battle between two light-squared bishops, one is not supposed to place pawns on the color of one's own bishop. So what gives? The only exception to the above rule is when you are building a wall to limit the scope of the other guy's bishop. Let us imagine for a moment that I had played 20.g3 instead, and that the black bishop was on b7. It is clear that this guy would be very active and would perhaps settle on the f3-square. Now let us imagine the black bishop on b7 but a wall of white pawns on e4, f3 and g2. It is clear that this would shut down the black bishop permanently. My own bishop does not care - it will remain active!
20.  …..    f5
This looks completely harmless now, but it will turn out to be the fatal weakening in Black's position. Somehow Black had to stay still and not create more weaknesses for himself. I am not sure what to suggest, however.
21. Kf2   ……
Following one of those golden rules in chess - King towards the center in an endgame.
21.  …..    Bb7
22. a4      …..
Grabbing space and laying the groundwork for a later a4-a5, creating some queenside pawn weaknesses. Yet another pawn on a light square!
22. ……       Rb8
A nice defensive move. If White plays a4-a5, he will have to reckon with pressure against his b2-pawn.
23. Bb5      ……
Finally it is revealed why ...f5 was a bad move. I am intending Bd7 next, hitting the f5-pawn. It is not easy to protect.
23.  …..      Rc7
Andrew had just 7 minutes left to reach move 40. This is important to understand White's next move.
24. b3      …….
This is a horrifying move to face when low on time. I am keeping all options open and Black must calculate all of them.24. Rd7 was strong as well, but in general you don't want to play forcing moves when your opponent is in time pressure because he'll be looking at those moves the most.
24. .....      a6
Now the b6-pawn has become loose. White's play has provoked enough weaknesses for him to change the character of the position yet again.
25. Bd7    ……
White is fine with a double rook endgame. In these kind of endgames, rook activity is everything. I will have two active castles and Black will have two very passive ones.
25.  …..     Bc8
26. Bxc8     Rcxc8
27. R1d5      ……..
Black's rooks are tied down to defending the e5-pawn.
27.  …..      Re8
28. Rc6      Re7
29. Rdd6    ……
And also the b6-pawn.
29.   ……     Reb7
Black is just barely holding on. I need a third weakness to attack.
30. Kg3     ……
Black is just about in zugzwang. My simple idea is to eat the f5-pawn with my king via h4 and g5. Note that the queenside pawn structure is perfect. If Black plays ...a5 I will close the queenside forever with c4!  If he instead tries ...b5, then I will play a5.
30.   …..     Kf8
31. Rd5      Re8
32. e4      …….
A small change of plans. I was a little afraid of possible counter-play against my g2-pawn should my king go wandering. This fear was not justified. Black has no time for ....Rg8.
32. …..     fxe4
33. fxe4     Kg7
34. Rdd6     Reb8
35. Kg4      …….
Back on the right track. Kf5 is the threat.
35.  ……      h5+
36. Kf5     ……
I don't want that pawn. I'll take this pawn!
36.  ……     b5
37. a5       c4
38. b4      Re8
39. Rxa6    ……
Black had just 5 seconds left and his position was beginning to collapse completely, so he decided to resign here.
[Editor's note: Thank you Seth!]

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