Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mechanics' edge Chicago

Chicago 1.5 - San Francisco 2.5

1. IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) vs GM Josh Friedel (SF) 1/2-1/2
2. GM Jesse Kraai (SF) vs FM Florin Felecan (CHC) 1-0
3. IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs IM Sam Shankland (SF) 1-0
4. NM Yian Liou (SF) vs IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) 1-0

This was not a pretty match to watch. Having convincingly defeated two of our main divisional rivals 3-1 the past two weeks some pundits had the Mechanics' running up a big score against Chicago. We were under no such illusion. Last year they drew with us using a "balanced" lineup where the rating differential from first to fourth board was less than one hundred points and they opted for something similar this year fielding a team with four IMs ( Felecan has the norms and a rating of 2429 and is waiting for his the title).

Such a strategy of using an evenly balanced lineup is not likely to lead to blowout victories but it does promise to always be competitive. I would expect to see Chicago fielding this lineup quite a bit in the second half of the season - especially as Young and Pasalic both entered this season with USCL ratings around 2500.

Prognosticators had the two teams splitting the bottom boards but few if any would have guessed it would be by the Mechanics' winning on board four and not three. IM Sam Shankland entered the match with the phenomenal score of 17 from 20 in USCL matches but one of his rare losses was last season to Pasalic in a game similar to the one against Young on Monday night. Both games developed along similar lines with White getting an equal and somewhat boring position out of the opening and Sam pressing and overextending. The game with Young reinforced the lesson and we don't expect to see Sam losing this way again.

Josh looked like he might be getting something against Van der Mortel ( by the way the Chicago team might be the United Nations favorite in the USCL with Van der Mortel hailing from the Netherlands, Felecan being born in Romania, Young the Philippines and Pasalic the former Yugoslavia) but a draw was a fair result for the game. When the players split the point the Mechanics' were pressing on boards two and four. Yian improved his season performance to 3.5 from 4 in his toughest test to date. The 12-year-old from Walnut Creek was in trouble after the strategic error Bb5xc6+ and had to hang on to survive for most of the game but grabbed his chances brought on by better clock management.

Last to finish was Kraai-Felecan. Jesse, nursing a serious cold, essayed the unconventional plan of dxe5 against Felecan's pet Kings Indian. The game was an up and down struggle. Jesse, who was ahead on the clock most of the game, sacrificed a pawn for positional pressure. A logical continuation was a draw had Felecan accepted the Knight at move 32 but his electing to continue could have had serious consequences had White played the intermezzo 34.Rg3+.

Eventually the players found themselves in an interesting ending that both played quite well for a long time. A rare rook ending was reached with White having two extra, but blockaded pawns ( g5 and h6) . These positions, first analysed by Kling and Horwitz in the 19th century and later quite extensively by Kasparian right after WW2, can be tricky. The game should have been drawn but Felecan, down to the increment ( 30 seconds a move) missed one last trick for White. So San Francisco defeated Chicago by the minimum score bringing our record against the Windy City to 2.5-.5 - the Mechanics' defeated Chicago 6.5-5.5 in a match played by telegraph in 1922.

van de Mortel,Jan (2456) - Friedel,Josh (2612) [E15]USCL Chicago vs San Francisco Internet Chess Club (4), 21.09.2009

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.d4 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.Qa4 Bb7 6.Bg2 c5 7.dxc5 bxc5 8.0-0 Be7 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Bf4 d6 11.Rfd1 Qb6 12.Qb5 Qc7 13.Rd2 Rd8 14.Rad1 h6 15.Qa4 a6 16.b4 e5 17.Be3 Bc6 18.Qb3 cxb4 19.Qxb4 Nbd7 20.Nd5 Bxd5 21.cxd5 Rdb8 22.Qa4 Rb5 23.Rc2 Qb7 24.Nh4 Bf8 25.Nf5 e4 26.Rcd2 Re8 27.h3 Re5 28.g4 h5 29.Bf4 Rexd5 30.Rxd5 Rxd5 31.Rxd5 Qxd5 32.Ne3 Qd2 33.g5 Nc5 34.Qc6 Nfd7 35.Qd5 Qc1+ 36.Kh2 Nb6 37.Qc6 Nd3 38.Qxe4 Nxf4 39.Qxf4 Qc5 40.Qf5 g6 41.Qxc5 dxc5 42.Bb7 a5 43.Nd5 Nxd5 44.Bxd5 1/2-1/2

Kraai,Jesse (2552) - Felecan,Florin (2430) [E94]USCL Chicago vs San Francisco Internet Chess Club (4), 21.09.2009

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Qc2 c6 10.b4 Re8 11.Rd1 a5 12.b5 Qc7 13.Rb1 Bf8 14.Bg5 Nh5 15.Na4 Nf4 16.b6 Qb8 17.Bf1 Ne6 18.c5 Nexc5 19.Nxc5 Nxc5 20.Rd8 Rxd8 21.Bxd8 Bf5 22.exf5 Qxd8 23.fxg6 hxg6 24.Nxe5 Qd4 25.Re1 Bg7 26.Nf3 Qc3 27.Qd1 Bf6 28.Re3 Qb4 29.Qd6 Kg7 30.Ne5 Qxb6 31.Nxf7 Rf8

32...Kxf7 33.Bc4+ Kg7 34.Re7+ is a draw.

32.Nh6 Qd8 33.Nf5+ gxf5 34.Qxc5

34.Rg3+ Kh7 35.Qxc5 is an improvement as Black's King doesn't have the option of f6.

34...Bd4 35.Rg3+ Kf6 36.Qc1 Rg8 37.Rf3 Qd5 38.Qh6+ Ke7 39.Qh7+ Rg7 40.Qxf5 Qxf5 41.Rxf5 b5 42.h4 Ke6 43.Rf3 a4 44.Kh2 Kd5 45.Kh3 b4 46.g4 Rb7 47.Bg2 Kd6 48.Rd3 Kc5 49.Bxc6 Kxc6 50.Rxd4 b3 51.axb3 axb3 52.Rd1 b2 53.Rb1 Rb3+ 54.Kg2 Kd5 55.h5 Ke5 56.h6 Kf6 57.f4 Kg6 58.g5 Kh7 59.Kf2 Kg6 60.Ke2 Kf5 61.Kd1 Kg6 62.Kc2 Rb4 63.Rh1 b1Q+ 64.Rxb1 Rxf4 65.Rg1 Ra4 66.Kd3 Rh4 67.Ke3 Rh3+ 68.Kf4 Rh4+ 69.Kf3 Ra4 70.Rh1 Ra8 71.Kf4 Ra4+ 72.Ke5 Ra8 73.h7 Re8+ 74.Kd6 Rh8??

Black could draw with 74...Kh8 or improving the position of his Rook so it has sufficient checking distance with 74...Ra8 or 74...Rb8. What he can't do is allow White's King the e7 square when his Rook is passive.

75.Ke7 Kg7 76.Rh6! Ra8 77.h8Q+ Rxh8 78.Rxh8 Kxh8 79.Kf7 1-0

Young,Angelo (2325) - Shankland,Sam (2564) [D31]USCL Chicago vs San Francisco Internet Chess Club (4), 21.09.2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd2 Bd6 6.c5 Bc7 7.f4 b6 8.b4 a5 9.a3 Ba6 10.Bxa6 Nxa6 11.cxb6 Bxb6 12.Qa4 0-0 13.b5 cxb5 14.Qxb5 Ne8 15.Nf3 Nd6 16.Qd3 Nc4 17.0-0 Qe7 18.Ne5 Rfc8 19.Na4 Bd8 20.Rfc1 Nxd2 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Qxa6 Qc7 23.Nc5 Rb8?

23...Be7 was better not fearing 24. Nxf7 on account of 24...Bxc5 25.Qxe6 Qxf7 28.Qc8+ Bf8. On 24.Rc1 Ne4 Black should be equal.

24.Rd1 Ne4 25.Nxe4 dxe4 26.Qc6 g6??

This loses on the spot. Black had to trade Queens and endure the worst side of the ending.

27.Qe8+ Kg7 28.Nd7 Qd6 29.Nxb8 Qxb8 30.Qa4 Qb2 31.d5 Bb6 32.Qxe4 Qxa3 33.dxe6 Qxe3+ 34.Qxe3 Bxe3+ 35.Kf1 fxe6 36.g3 Kf6 37.Rd6 Bc5 38.Ra6 Bb4 39.Ke2 h5 40.Kf3 Kf5 41.h3 Kf6 42.Ke4 Be1 43.g4 hxg4 44.hxg4 Kf7 45.Ra7+ Kg8 46.Re7 1-0

Liou,Yian (2149) - Pasalic,Mehmed (2346) [B60]USCL Chicago vs San Francisco Internet Chess Club (4), 21.09.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nc6 7.Bg5 Qa5 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Nb3 Qg5 10.g3 f5 11.f4 Qg7

This is not commonly seen here. Usual are 11...Qg6 or 11...Qh6. The objection to the text might be that Black can't post his Bishop on g7.

12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Bb5?

13. Qd2 followed by castling queenside looks better. The text cedes Black two strong Bishops and a big pawn center.

13...a6 14.Bxc6+ bxc6 15.Qe2 Qg4 16.Qg2 Bd7 17.Nd4 Bg7 18.Qe4 0-0 19.Kf2 f5 20.Qd3 e5 21.Nde2 d5 22.h3 Qg6 23.fxe5 Bxe5 24.Nf4 Qd6 25.Nce2 d4 26.b4 a5 27.Qc4+ Kh8 28.a3 Bc8 29.Rad1 axb4 30.axb4 Ba6 31.Qe6 Qc7

31...Qxe6 32.Nxe6 Bxe2 33.Kxe2 Rfe8 34.Nc5 Bxg3+ leaves Black on top but with good chances for White to draw. As is often the case in the USCL towards the end of matches it was not clear for Pasalic what his team needed. The score at this point was 1.5 -.5 Chicago but Jesse Kraai was pressing against Felecan on board two.

32.Rhe1 Rae8

32... Bxe2 33.Nxe2 f4 looks easier to play in time pressure ( Pasalic had less than three minutes at this point). After the text the worst is over for White and he exploits his chances.

33.Qh6 Rf6 34.Qh5 Rg8 35.Qf3 Bb7 36.Qb3 Qb6 37.Nd3 Bd6 38.Nef4 Ba6 39.Re6 Rxe6 40.Qxe6 Bxf4??

Down to less than a minute Black blunders. He had to play 40...Qc7.

41.Qf6+ Rg7 42.gxf4 Bxd3 43.Rg1 1-0

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