Monday, January 21, 2019

Chess Club Busy - at Home and on the Road in 2019

LCCC friend James Karakos (L) and LCCC member Don Mason in Class A action
By the way - we are open tonight for chess on MLK day.

Our Club is averaging 12 players every Monday night, so you always have a full field of willing participants for a friendly game.And of course for beginners or people looking for a lesson, someone will be glad to help you with that.

On the road, our Club members played in the 2019 Michigan Class Championships. This tournament held every year in Lansing, Michigan at the Marriott Hotel is one many players look forward to. It is well run by TD Jeff Aldrich - VP of the Michigan Chess Association.
And this tournament has the players broken into sections according to their ratings (ability). So every game is evenly matched - and therefore always tense and exciting.

The Sections are:
Master/Expert - (no one from LCCC was in this section, although there could have been)
A - Matt Trujillo 2-0-3 (tied for 2nd) and Don Mason 1-0-4
B - (no one from LCCC was in this section, although there could have been)
C - Mike Nikitin 3-0-2 (2nd) and Sam Thompson 2-2-1
D - Paul Mills 2-2-1
E - Nathan Holland 2-2-1

As you can see, LCCC held their own in this tournament as none of our players had a negative result!
Well done team - with a combined record of 12 wins, 6 losses and 12 draws. You can also see our members come in all current skill levels and working to get better!

Now for a game from two Grandmasters - GM Joel Lautier vs GM Anatoly Karpov. Your scribe picked this game because it looked interesting and Mr. Karpov had annotated it heavily playing Black. So let us learn together what a World Champion chess player and a computer is data crunching at 2 million moves a second are both thinking during the game.

Opening: Open Catalan
1.  d4            Nf6
2.  c4            e6
3. g3             d5
4. Bg2          Be7
5. Nf3           O-O
6. O-O          dxc4
7. Nc3          Nc6
8. e3             Bd6
9. Nd2          e5
10. Nxc4      exd4
11. exd4       Bg4
12. Qb3        Nxd4
13. Qxb7      Bf3
14. Qa6        .........
Finally out of book. Yes, grandmasters know openings this deep and deeper. 14. Bxf3 is normal here for White and is good enough to draw or win. Lautier decides to change it up but this move is slightly worse than even at (-.2) of a pawn. Not death by any means. But Karpov notes that White should play for a draw here. Igor3000 had that very game Khusnutdinov - Akhmedeev - 2006 in his data base. Karpov knew about this game before Igor3000 was assembled and soldered.

14. ......            Bb4
15. Be3           Bxg2
16. Rfd1 !         ........

Igor ignores this move as standard, but Karpov gives this move an 'excellent' "!" designation, stating that the obvious 16. Kxg2, Bxc3 17. bxc3, Qd5+ 18. f3, Nc2 19. Rfd1, Qxc4 20. Qxc4, Nxe3+ and Black forks the entire White family.

But Igor saw that White is not entirely dead with that move as White could have played it like this; 19. Bd4, Nxa1 20. Ne3, Qd7 21. Qa3, Rab8 22. Qc1 and there is no family fork.

Igor agrees that the move played was better by a pawn and a half (-.5 versus -2).
Your writer agrees with Karpov. That move deserves an "!", as Kxg2 looks too natural to us mere mortals.

16. ......          c5
Reinforcing the centralized knight.

17. Bxd4       cxd4
If Black had played the natural looking 17. ....Bf3? 18. Bxf6! and now White is winning (.8 vs -.5).

18. Kxg2       Rc8!
This is a very important move that Igor ignores as best and what else can be played.
Karpov explains his plan as Black is lining up against the loose knights on the c-file.
Isn't peering into the mind of a grandmaster fun!

19. Kg1         Re8
The White pieces - the knights in particular - lack the coordination to form a blockade in front of the passed d-pawn. In addition, the White Queen is out of play on a6 and has trouble coming back home.

20. Rac1       Qd7
21. Nb5??     ........
Both Igor and Karpov state that 21. Ne3 was required. Black is now up (-2.7).

21. ........        d3!
22. Ne3 ??     ........
Lautier crumbles. 22. Nc3 was needed to stay in a bad game (-6.5). No hope now for White.

22. ......          Rxc1
23. Rxc1        d2
24. Rd1         Nd5!
25. Qa4          a6!
This gains a critical tempo (extra move) while the b4 bishop is still protected. Igor also says that 25. Nc2 for White is better, but not that it solves White's problems.

26. Qxa6        Nxe3
27. fxe3          Qd3!
Pinning the b5 knight and attacking the pawn on e3.

28. Qc6          Qxe3+
29. Kg2          Qe2+
30. Kh3          Qh5+
Lautier resigned here.

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