Saturday, September 20, 2008

SF smashes Philly

Ok, a bit of an overstatement. The match was much closer than the score (3.5-0.5) indicated.

On board 1, Kudrin seemed to have a slight edge against Wolff, but before I knew it the game was over, draw. Wolff seemed to hold himself together very well, and it turns out Kudrin never had more than a slight edge. The game can be replayed here.

For a very long time we were in a very tense match situation, with all three boards being very unclear. On board 4, Danya sifted through the complications after playing a nice pawn sac, 18.g5!. After he played 22.e5, I thought he had quite a serious advantage and that Wilson would be under a lot of pressure. After 22...fxe5 23.Bxe5, I think white should be winning (I have not analyzed it at all, I could just be wrong) based on the weak black king and whites well placed pieces and attacking potential. The game can be replayed here.

I was the next to finish, with a win over Richard Costigan on board 3 (The game can be replayed here.). My game was interesting, the plan of c4 closing the queenside and then putting my king there was very risky, but white never got in a4 and b5. I think the key moment of the game was when Costigan played 24.Bf4?. If he had played 24.Nf4 Rxg1+ 25.Bxg1 Nxe5 doesn't work, so I was planning to play 25...Nf8, although I think white must have an advantage there as I am still playing without my light squared bishop.

After 24.Bf4, slowly I made progress and shut his pieces out of the game. The killer was when I managed to swing my pawn on b7 into the game (and promote it to a bishop). If Costigan had tried a3-a4! at some point, planning to meet ...Bc6 with b4-b5, he may have been able to generate some counterplay. The immediate b4-b5 was also an idea, as ...a6-a5 shuts down all play but my bishop is still entombed, and ...axb5 could run into Rb1 or a4 (or both).

30.Bg4 would have been a mistake if not for the beauty it created on the completely occupied g-file after 30...Bg6. You could say that all our pieces had no trouble at all finding their respective g-spots. After 31...Bd3 it was pretty much over.

Now, on to Josh's game on board 2 against Bryan Smith (the game can be replayed here). He played nicely for the first half or so of the game, including 32.Re1! with the point being 32...Rxa5 33.Bxf7+ Kxf7 34.Re5! and black will not be able to stop Rxg5 and Rg7+. However, then he lost part of his mind and succeeded in finding some of the worst moves on the board. In all seriousness, he did misplay it, most notably missing the ...Nh8-g6 maneuver, but always had counterplay with his f-pawn.

40...Kf6? was a serious error, when 40...Kh6 should have kept some advantage, though probably not enough to win. Josh made the strong reply 41.Bc7!, where he is back in control. At this point, an esteemed member of the Mechanics suggested 41...Ne7 for black, which would be good if not for 42.Be5#. Josh played very well from then on, including 45.Bf6+!, forcing 45...Kh6 and following up with 46.Bxg6! Unfortunately, however, he then proceeded to play 47.Kh2, which is pretty stupid. Even without calculating any variations, it seems more natural to play 47.Kg2.

However, while many morons such as Greg Shahade have said that black is winning after 47.Kh2, they are wrong. After 47.Kh2 hxg6 48.Be5!, both 49.f6 and 49.Bf4+ are serious threats. Black's best is 49...exf5 50.Bf4+ Kg7 51.Bxc1 fxg4, and of course white is better but will he win? Maybe, maybe not, I'm too lazy to look at the endgame. On 47.Kg2! though, 48.Bg5+ (as played in the game) is decisive. In the game, 48.Bg5+ should have been met by 48...Kxg5 49.f6 Rc2! with a winning position for black. Instead, black probably missed that his rook was hanging and played 48...Kg7, after which it was all over.

Boston next, should be fun.

Cheers,
Sam Shankland

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