Thursday, August 13, 2015

Co-Champions in the 2015 LCCC Fischer Random Chess Tournament!

Paul Mills defeated Vince Valente to tie Vince with 3 points in this very close competition.
Finishing tied for 3rd was Gene McClure and Mike Nikitin.

Congratulations to Paul and Vince!

Here is a 960 game from the Final Round of the 2015 LCCC Fischer Random Tournament. The game was between your humble scribe Mike N with White and Gene M with Black. The winner would finish tied for 1st or 2nd, depending on the outcome of the Board 1 game between Paul M and Vince V.
With that as the situation, neither Gene nor I had any reason to play for a draw. So both players would be looking for knockout tactics.
Readers, you are in for a treat. Not only do you have my thoughts and Fritz13’s opinion, you will also get [Gene’s notes and Rybka4’s opinion].
Enjoy playing thru this game and think about what you might have played.
The pieces were placed like this (from left to right): NRBKQBRN- almost a normal set up!

[The first thing I noticed was that only the (1)Knights and Rooks and (2)King and Queen had switched squares, so I thought there wouldn't be as much difference from "normal chess" as in most other 960 positions. - Gene]

Mike N                        Gene M
1. e4                                d6
2. Bc4                              Nb6
[This tempo allowed me to equalize quickly.]
Playing White is suppose to be a bigger advantage than usual in a 960 chess game. Playing this standard opening move in a 960 without thinking it thru, throws away my advantage and gave it to Gene by him gaining the tempo. (-.4).
Gene was last year's 960 Champion, so I knew I would have my hands full the rest of the way.

3. Bb3                             e5
4. c3                                Be6
5. Nc2                             Bxb3
6. ab                                Qe6 ?!
[Rybka gives 6...Qb5 or Ng6]

7. c4                                Ng6
8. d3                                Be7
9. Ng3                             O-O
10. Ne3                             Nf4
Position after 10. .....Nf4
I was OK with my position here. But do I make what looks like the ‘grandmaster move’ of Kc2 because the center is closed and I can keep my pieces active – or – do I take the ‘usual’ option and keep my castling option? I choose incorrectly (-1).

11. Qf1                              c6
[Rybka gave 11. Kc2 (-.2)]

12, Nf5                              g6
13. Nxe7                           Qxe7
14. Be3?                            Qh4?
[Black had a (-0.9) advantage, but embarked on an unwise Queen adventure.]
Taking the knight was better for me. So was 14. Bd2 or the never popular Kc2 (-.6). Instead, the text move hurts me after either 14…..a5 or Nd7-Nc5 as my queenside is now in trouble (-1.2). But Gene tries the king-side (-.3).

15. h3?                              Nh5?
[The game is now even according to Rybka. 15. …..Nd7 or d5 would've maintained a (-0.6) advantage.]
I was happy to remove that pesky knight. Now I liked my position because I think Gene’s queen is in trouble. But it isn’t really (+.2). Igor3000 says I now enjoy a tiny lead in position.

16. Nxh5                           Qxh5
17. g4                                Qh4
18. g5                                f6
19. gf                                 Qxf6
20. O-O-O                         d5
21. ed                                cd
I was not worried, but Igor3000 says I opened the center before supporting my center pawns with 21. Qg2 (-.3).

22. Rd2                             d4
23. Bg5                             Qd6
24. Qe2                             a5
25. h4                                Rfe8
Position after 25. .....Rfe8
I saw this as a race of side pawns – and I liked my chances better. Not only can I knock a hole in Gene’s King’s defense before he can hurt my queen-side, but I will be able to get my queen and rooks into the attack quicker than Gene can attack my queen-side or return to defend the king-side. My analysis of the position is right (+.8), but my execution is slow. I add my queen to the mix instead of hitting with my h-pawn right away (-1). Igor says I lost almost 2 pawns with that error. I lose one for real, and lost my advantage positionally.
That’s why we love chess! One little thing changes a lot.

26. Qe4                             a4?
The move 26….h5 is needed to help with the king side defense (+.3). Another switch in momentum.

27. ba?                               Nxa4
Another switch (-.5)!  Instead 27. b4! The b-pawn is kind of untouchable as it will move the Black Queen out of play from the king-side defense (+1.1). But I missed it.
28. Rc2?                            Nc5
I had visions of using my queen-side pawns to cramp my opponent’s space. But I missed Gene’s reply, which forces me to trade queens, lose a pawn and give myself four pawn islands. Not good.
 I am surprised Igor3000 only has me down (-1.2). But as you will see, I did have all the play.

29. Qd5+                           Qxd5
30. cd                                Nxd3
31. Kb1                             Nb4
32. Rc5                              Rfc8
33. Rgc1                            Rxc5
Playing ‘hope chess’, I was hoping for 38. …Nd5+??, 39. Rxc8+, Rxc8 40. Rxc8.

34. Rxc5                            Nd3?
[Rybka shows this as a turning point. 34. ……Nd3? gives White a (+0.6) advantage, while keeping the Knight closer to White's d-pawn with Na6! would've clung to a (-0.4) advantage. Now both sides make "all the right moves" through 40.]

35. Rc7                              Nf4
36. d6                                Ne6
Position after 36. .....Ne6
Passed pawns must be pushed. Although being a pawn down, with a shattered pawn structure of my own and being low on time, I still felt I had all the play.
Igor3000 says it is EVEN here. But what does he know? He’s only rated 3000, so who cares?

37. Re7                              Nxg5
38. hg                                Rd8
39. d7                                Kf8
40. Rxh7                           b5?
This gives White the advantage by bringing his isolated pawn closer to my King where it can be attacked quicker. Black’s rook won’t be much help as it is a little busy stopping my advanced pawn (+1).

41. Kc2                             b4
42. Kd2?!                          e5
43. Ke2?!                          Kg8
44. Re7                              Kf8.
[Draw agreed. Both Mike and I had a little over a minute on our clocks.
Rybka indicates White had a +2.4 advantage, and could have gone up a pawn if he'd taken the e-pawn, abandoning the d-pawn:]
45. Rxe4, Rxd7
46. Re5, Rf7
47. Rxb5, Rxf2+
48. Kxd3, Rf4
Yes, but you need time on the clock and confidence to squeeze out a win. I didn’t feel I had enough of either one. Igor3000 gives White only a (+1) advantage.
A very close game all the way thru.

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