It seems like all the Class A guys in New Hampshire have faced GM Alexander Ivanov at one point or another, yet despite all the open sections I’ve played in, it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that it was my turn. What follows is my first game against a grandmaster, albeit in G/25 with 5 second delay.
Technically, I lost on time in the final position, but it was over anyway with that knight dropping. At least I kept moving during time trouble. (In my last round game, I let the final minute or so drain off my clock in search of the best plan.)
I’m fairly pleased with my effort — especially after blundering a pawn in the opening! 22…Kh8 looks like a definite improvement, not allowing the tempo gaining check on e6, and I like to think I could have drawn the ending somehow with more time, but all-in-all a good showing.
The following position occurred in one of my games during Queen City Open (QCO) Sunday Swiss at the end of February. Although I went on to win this game, it still served as another reminder to simplify into a clearly won endgame when possible. Apparently, the lesson bears repeating.
Black To Move
Here, rather than the easy …Qxg6+ trading into a same-color bishop ending two passed pawns up, I played 1…Qxd1+ 2.Kb2 Qe2+ 3.Ka3 Qf3
The point, protecting the f7 pawn against mate in 2 and threatening one of my own on the next move with …Qxc3 mate.
I’d calculated much of what transpired with White’s attempt at perpetual check via underpromotion, but there’s no doubt it was risky and the simple queen trade would have kept things smooth sailing. That said, the variations are beautiful, with both sides ensnared by mating nets. Enjoy the craziness:
4.Qh7+ Kf8 5.g7+ Ke7 6.Qh4+
Here, it is better to leave the queen on h7, covering critical square along the diagonal, namely, c2 and b1. Nevertheless, some fancy maneuvering brings home the point for Black with 6.Kb3 (sidestepping immediate mate) a4+ 7.Kb4 Qf2 (threatening mate on both c5 and a fatal incursion on b2) 8.Ka3 Qe1 (again attacking the c3 pawn) 9.Kb4 Qg1 (repeating the mate threat at c5, but this time from the back rank) 10.Ka3 Qc1+ (the difference) 11.Kb4 Qb2+ 12.Ka5 Qb6 mate.
There’s also a drawing try similar to the game with 9.g8/N+ (instead of 9.Kb4) Kf8 10.Qh6+ Kxg8 11.Qg5+ Kf8 12.Qh6+ Ke8! (forced, as 12…Ke7 allows the sought after perpetual 13.Qg5+ Ke8 14.Qg8+ Ke7 15.Qg5+ f6 16.Qg7+ Kd8 17.Qxf6+ etc.) 13.Qh8+ Ke7 and White has run out of checks, as the h4 square is guarded, and faces a mate on c3 or the …Qc1+ continuation we saw earlier.
6…f6 7.g8/N+ (accompanied by a draw offer)
7.Kb3 scared me during the game since I had yet to find the mating line and thought I’d be forced to give a perpetual of my own as 7…Qg4 meets with 8.Qh8 when 8…Kf7 loses to 9.Qf8+ etc., and the mating attack starting with 8…Ba4+ isn’t fast enough after 9.Ka3! (not 9.Kxa4?? Qxc4+ 10.Ka3 Qxc3+ 11.Ka4 Qb4 mate) Qxc4 10.Qf8+ Kd7 11.Qf7+ Kd8 12.g8/Q+ Be8 13.Q(either)xe8 mate. Lastly, 8…a4+ also fails to 9.Ka3 Qxc4 10.Qf8 mate.
Thankfully, it’s there. I like to think I would have found it. 8…Qd1+ 9.Kb2 Qd2+ 10.Kb3 (or 10.Kb1 Bf5+ 11.Qe4 Bxe4+ 12.Ka1 Qxc3 mate) a4+ 11.Kb4 Qb2 12.Ka5 Qxc3 mate. Pretty stuff!
The actual game continued 7…Kf7 8.Qh7+ Kf8 9.Qh6+ Kxg8 10.Qg6+ Kf8 11.Qh6+ Ke7 12.Qg7+ Kd8 13.Qg8+ Be8 and with the checks stopped, the rest was “a matter of technique.”
Yesterday (Sat, Sept 10) I competed in my second NH vs Maine Team Chess Challenge, also known as the “Border Battle,” now an annual event, at the Portsmouth library. The time control was G/60 with five-second increment.
My opponent was the slightly higher-rated, Joshua Quint, now back in his home state of Maine from Vegas where he was 2010 Vice-Champ of the Clark County Chess Club. We each took a full point.
In the first game, a couple inaccuracies with White in the opening landed me in an unpleasant defensive crouch from which I was only too happy to burst forth with reckless abandon. It almost paid off too. Unfortunately, when the time was right, I failed to play the winning shot I’d planned some moves earlier.
Why I got distracted, I’m still not sure, probably the clock had something to do with it as time trouble was fast approaching. Nevertheless, this game is now extremely painful to play over and to think what could have been (i.e., a stunning reversal).
After recently learning the chess club at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, had been resurrected, oh so many years after I’d started it during my days at school and later watched it evaporate for want of a successor, I was excited to compete in their first big tourney and shake hands with the new president, Jason Shuster.
By all measures, the event was a huge success. There were about 50 players total, half of whom faced off in the two rated sections. Also of note, beyond the unexpected turnout, was the age range, all the way from the youngest scholastic players on up to the true veterans of the tournament scene. This made for a fun, if sometimes a little louder than normal gathering, made all the more bustling by the Game in 45 time control.
While I’m not usually a fan of the faster time controls, and felt the pressure of the clock during at least two of the four games, I think it worked. Those experiencing their first structured competition didn’t have to wait long for the next round, the 11 AM start time was easy to make, and it served as something of an equalizer (there were a few minor upsets of which I’m aware). The only issue was there was no time to hunt down food, particular vegan eats, in the limited time between rounds. No biggie, next time I’ll just pack something.
OK, on to the games. I scored 3 points (2 draws, 2 wins), good enough for a tie for 2nd-4th, but unfortunately missed out on the 2nd and 3rd place trophies due to the sum-of-opponents’-scores tiebreaker. As everyone I played was rated below me, some quite a bit (500-700 points), my rating took a hit. Still, I was happy enough with my play, and even pulled off the following pretty combination.
White To Move
In this position, my opponent has just retreated the queen to her original square. Here I calculated a nice 7-9 mover.
13.Bb5! getting rid of a defender and clearing the way for White’s queen 13…Bd7 14.Bxc6 Bxc6 15.Bxh6! Nh5
15…gxh6 16.Nxf7 Kxf7 17.Ne5+ Kg8
17…Kf8 18.Qg6 Bd6 19.Qf7 mate
18.Qg6+ Kh8 19.Nf7 mate
Best is 15…Ne4 stopping the attack, though White has won a pawn and keeps the initiative after 16.Bf4.
On Thursday, I attended their weekly meeting in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) where about a dozen people played games and chatted it up in a friendly environment. After the short 6-8 PM official gig was up, Keith and I moved into the food court for another couple hours to look over our games from the tourney. It’s a long drive for me, but I hope to make it on a semi-regular basis. You should too.
A couple weekends ago, I had the opportunity to play my first rated chess games in almost two years! I had no idea whether the rust would show, but seeing as I was competing as a representative of the state of NH, in what I believe was only my second team event since high school, I put a little study in prior and sought to concentrate fully.
My first game was a blast, and it made me very happy to discover my tactical vision had survived the unplanned hiatus.
[Event "NH vs Maine Team"]
[White "Dame, Erin"]
[Black "Savov, Andrey"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Bd3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Qb6 8. O-O Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. Nc3 a6 11. Qe2 Ne7 12. Rd1 Qb6 13. Be3 d4? (The temptation to fork had to be resisted.) 14. Bxd4! (Better than 14. Ne4 when Black doesn’t have to play 14...dxe3 15. Nd6+ etc., but instead can just ignore the Bishop by 14...Nc6 with a pleasant position.) Qxd4 15. Bb5! Qxd1+ 16. Rxd1 axb5 17. Nxb5 Nd5? 18. Rxd5! exd5 19. Nc7+ Kd8 20. Nxa8 Bc6 21. Qd2 (I was proud of this quiet move, ensuring the knight gets out and simultaneously threatening both flanks.) Kd7 22. Qf4 Be7 23. e6+! Kxe6 (23... fxe6 fails to 24. Qc7+) 24. Nc7+ Kd7 25. Qxf7 Rf8 26. Qe6+ Kd8 27. Nxd5 (Junior 10.1 likes 27. Qe5 Rf6 28. Ne6+ Kd7 29. Nxg7 Rg6) Bxd5 28. Qxd5+ Kc8 29. g3 Rd8 30. Qe6+ Rd7 31. Qg8+ Bd8 32. Qxh7 Bb6 33. Qf5 Bd4 34. b3 b6 35. h4 Kd8 36. Qf8+ Kc7 37. h5 Bc5 38. Qf4+ Kd8 39. g4 Ke8 40. g5 Rd4 41. Qe5+ Kf8 42. g6 Rd6 43. b4! Rd1+ (43... Bxb4? 44. Qf4+) 44. Kg2 Be7 45. Qe6 1-0
After the dust cleared, we all took a lengthy lunch break with ample time to wander around Portsmouth, NH enjoying the nice weather and plentiful food options. I left the guys at the nearest sandwich shop and kept walking to one of my old regular dining spots when I used to work in town — a vegan smoothie and wrap place that’s changed hands many times, the menu remaining essentially the same throughout.
Game 2 with colors reversed had fewer fireworks as White blundered a pawn early. After rebuffing his attack, I was able to grind out the win with the extra material. The ironic thing is, during my pre-match preparations, I could only find a few games of my opponent, all with him as White. So, it was this game for which I was more prepared; I knew he would play the 6.Bg5 of the Samisch and was looking forward to the skirmish.
[Event "NH vs Maine Team"]
[White "Savov, Andrey"]
[Black "Dame, Erin"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Bg5 Nc6 7. Qd2 a6 8. Bd3? Nxd4 9. Nge2 c5 10. Nxd4 cxd4 11. Nd5 e6 12. Nxf6+ Bxf6 13. Bh6 Re8 14. O-O-O d5 15. Kb1 dxc4 16. Bxc4 b5 17. Bd3 e5 18. f4 exf4 19. Qxf4 Be5 20. Qf2 Be6 21. h4 Rc8 22. Bd2 Qf6 23. Qe2 h5 24. Bg5 Qg7 25. Rc1 f6 26. Bd2 Rxc1+ 27. Rxc1 Rc8 28. Rxc8+ Bxc8 29. Bc4+ Kh7 (Not 29... bxc4 30. Qxc4+ Kh7 31. Qxc8) 30. Bd5 Qc7 31. Qd3 Bb7 32. Be1 (32. Ba5 is interesting, but after 32...Qxa5 33. Bxb7 Qe1+ Black’s infiltration proves stronger than White’s) Bf4 33. Qc2 Bxd5 (33... Qe7 was suggested by the computer, keeping queens on board.) 34. Qxc7+ Bxc7 35. exd5 Kg7 36. Kc2 Kf7 37. Kd3 Be5 38. Bf2 (And this may be why, since 38. Bb4, recommended by my opponent in the postmortem, poses some problems and may just equalize.) Ke7 39. Bxd4 Kd6 40. Bxe5+ Kxe5! (Black can actually still lose the game with 40... fxe5?? 41. Ke4 a5 42. b3) 41. d6 Kxd6 (Now the rest is easy.) 42. Kd4 g5 43. hxg5 fxg5 44. b3 h4 45. a4 g4 46. Ke4 h3 47. gxh3 gxh3 48. Kf3 Kc5 49. Kg3 Kb4 50. Kxh3 bxa4 51. bxa4 Kxa4 52. Kg3 Kb3 53. Kf2 a5 54. Ke2 Kc2 0-1
For more pictures, check out this write-up from ChessMaine.net. There you’ll see a couple closer glimpses of me in mid-ponder and a really good one of Andrey deep in thought. Oh, and one of the library where we battled.