Sunday, September 16, 2007

Back in the Game

We were at the same table when the chips were checked
A gambling rebel who respect the Deck
Just when you thought I would fold my hand
Against all odds I raised the bet like I changed the plans
It was live on air but in-between station breaks
I was holding a pair and just made the table stakes
Split the demos, put insurance on tapes
A safeguard against the crusaders in capes
I drew hit after hit from a royal flush menu
While the dealer promoted the full house venue
A spade in the club with the heart to wear diamonds
The high roller who got credit upon signing
They look puzzled when I shuffled, most of them stunned by the hustle
Recourse of bluff game's your muscle

And now for some more brief notes on my week 3 game …

IM Vinay Bhat – GM Hikaru Nakamura [A43]

USCL (3), 10.09.2007

1.d4 Mixing it up a little from the previous week. I used to play 1.e4 exclusively; now I play both 1.e4 and 1.d4, with the occasional 1.c4 or 1.Nf3 thrown in for good measure. 1...Nf6 Hikaru generally plays anything and everything, so I had no real idea of what to expect. In the past year or two, 1...d5 and 1...f5 have also featured pretty heavily in his games. 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 b5!? A slightly unpleasant surprise - I didn't know he would play this position, nor did I have anything prepared for this. 4.Bg5 Qa5+ [4...Ne4 appears to be the more common move according to the database, but Hikaru's choice does keep White from interposing on d2 because of the weakness of the d5-pawn.] 5.c3 Ne4 6.Bh4 [I've played the Trompowsky a number of times with the white pieces (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5), and in that opening, the retreat 6.Bc1 is paradoxically quite common. I thought about it for a moment here, before playing a more normal move.; 6.h4 is another idea here (with analogies again to the Tromp line of 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.h4).] 6...b4 7.c4? This solidifies the standing of the d5-pawn, but doesn't really do much to "punish" Black for his lack of central presence. [7.Qc2 was more logical, hitting the knight on e4 and guarding the c3-pawn. 7...bxc3 8.bxc3 f5 9.Nfd2 and White is clearly better. After the knights are exchanged (or Black retreats), White will have more pieces developed, better control of the center, and the ability to play e2-e4. ] 7...b3+ 8.Nbd2 bxa2 9.Qb3 Na6 10.Rxa2 Qb4 11.Qc2 [11.Qd1!? White threatens Ra2-a4, kicking the queen away and breaking the pin, and so Black must capture on d2: 11...Nxd2 12.Nxd2 Qb6 13.e4 - this looks great for White, except that Black can play 13...g6 and now will get good chances by fighting on the dark squares.] 11...Nxd2 12.Nxd2 d6 (Diagram)


13.Ra4 This was a big think moment for me. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to kick the queen right away, play e2-e3, or play e2-e4. [13.e3 g6 14.Be2 Bg7 15.0–0 Rb8 16.Rfa1 was probably more accurate. What I played in the game looks appealing, as White gets a big center, but at the same time, it isn't all that easy to maintain it with Black's pieces hitting it from all angles.] 13...Qb6 14.Qc3 f6 Black tries to prepare the development of his bishop on g7, but this wasn't the way I expected it to be done. [14...Rg8 was what I expected the grand majority of my time on.] 15.e4 g6 16.f4 Bg7 17.Be2 [17.Bd3!? Rb8 18.b3 0–0 19.f5 plugs the diagonal, but now White is left with a lot of dark-square holes. Black can start exploiting those with 19...Bh6 . It's not clear to me that White is doing all that great here.] 17...0–0 18.0–0 f5 [18...g5 19.Bg3 (19.fxg5 fxg5 20.Rxf8+ Kxf8 21.Qf3+ Kg8 22.Bxg5 Qxb2 23.Qg3 with some initiative for White, although the position is still rather complicated.) 19...f5 20.e5 dxe5 21.fxe5 f4 22.Bf2 Rb8 (22...Qc7 23.Ne4 Bxe5 24.Qa3 and White is clearly better.) 23.b4! Nxb4 24.Ne4 and Black is in some trouble.] 19.e5 Re8 20.Bf3 [20.Rfa1 Nb4 21.Bf3 is probably more correct, as White pushes the knight to b4, plugging the b-file and thereby alleviating some of the pressure against b2. White would like to avoid playing b2-b3, as it leaves the Nd2 with a poor job and also creates potential problems on the long diagonal with a1 exposed.] 20...Rb8 21.b3 [21.Ra2!? - based on the explanation above, maybe White should continue to try and avoid playing b2-b3.] 21...Nb4 22.Re1 e6 (Diagram)


23.Raa1? [23.Bf6! was better - I had seen this move, but during the game, I was spooked by 23...exd5 24.cxd5 Bxf6 , as it's clear that White isn't going to take back on f6 immediately. However, I missed the nice little zwischenzug 25.Nc4! , hitting the queen on b6 and opening up a defensive line for the rook on e1. White is pretty much winning here.] 23...Bb7 24.dxe6 dxe5 25.fxe5 Rxe6 26.Bxb7 [26.Bf6? Rxf6! 27.exf6 Bxf6 is curtains.] 26...Qxb7 27.Nf3 Nc6 28.Bf2 Qe7 [28...Qxb3 29.Qxb3 Rxb3 30.Bxc5 Rc3 31.Bxa7 Rxc4 32.Bf2 - Black is slightly better in an objective sense because of the weak e5-pawn, but such an advantage shouldn't be enough to win the game at this point.] 29.Rad1 [29.Ra6 looks nice, but then simply 29...Rb6 and it's not clear what White has accomplished. I guess he could continue with 30.Rxb6 axb6 31.Bh4 Qe8 32.Bg3 and just sit tight, but it looks a bit too passive to me.] 29...Nxe5 30.Nxe5 Rxe5 [30...Bxe5 31.Qa5 Rc8 32.Rd5 and Black isn't likely to hang onto his pawn for too long.] 31.Rxe5 Bxe5 32.Qe3? [32.Qf3 was much simpler and maintains equality - the d5-square is a great square for the White queen, and Black can't cover it properly without giving up the c5-pawn.] 32...Bd6 Now things aren't so easy - Black keeps his extra pawn, although there are definite conversion problems. With a slightly exposed king, weak queenside pawns, and problems exchanging those pawns into a winning endgame, Black is only slightly better. 33.Qd3 Rd8 34.Qd5+ Kg7 35.Qf3 a6 36.Rd5 Qc7 37.Qc3+ Kf7 38.g3 Re8 39.Qa1 [39.Qd2 Re6 40.Qh6 Kg8 41.Rxf5 appears to get the pawn back nicely, but then 41...Qb7! is problematic.] 39...Qc6 40.Qa5 Rc8 41.Qd2 Be7 42.Rd7 Ke8 43.Rd5 [43.Ra7? Rd8] 43...Kf7 44.Rd7 Rb8 45.Qd3 Rb7 46.Rd5 a5 After a lot of shuffling on both sides' parts, Black starts to take a few too many liberties. Admittedly, it is still not easy to convert here for Black, but at least this doesn't appear to be the right way. [46...Qb6?! 47.Rxc5! Bxc5 48.Qd5+ Kg7 49.Bxc5 Qc7 50.Bd4+ Kf8 51.Bc5+ Kg7 52.Bd4+ is just a draw.] 47.Qf3 Qb6 (Diagram)


48.g4? [I could have kept up the defensive front with 48.Rd3 after which I'm not sure how Black really hopes to win, but I decided to roll the dice and take my chances in some complications. By this point, I had seen the position on move 52 (although I didn't see clearly through a number of the alternatives for each side along the way), and assessed that position as likely favoring me. Objectively, as it turns out, those alternatives along the way don't justify the pawn push, so 48.Rd3 was the best move. But I can't complain about the result now ...] 48...Qxb3 49.Rd3 Qxc4 [49...Qb1+ 50.Kg2 and the f5-pawn is lost.] 50.gxf5 Rb1+ 51.Kg2 g5 [51...Kg8! A cold and calculating move, but Hikaru was probably moving too quickly in general to notice such things. 52.Qe2!? Bf8 and it's not clear what White is doing.] 52.f6! [52.Qh5+ Kf8! 53.Qh6+ Kg8 gets White nowhere.; 52.Rd7 g4! pushes White's queen away before the fun has started, leaving Black with a winning position.] 52...Bxf6 [52...Bf8 53.Qh5+] 53.Qf5! Continuing to keep the pressure up. [Fritz9 appears to like 53.Rd6 at first glance, but then 53...Qf4 and White can't win (although there are some draws). 54.Qh5+ (54.Qd5+ Kg7 55.Rd7+ Kh8!) 54...Kf8! 55.Qh6+ Ke7 56.Rxf6! Qg4+! (56...Qxf6 57.Qxh7+ Qf7 58.Qxb1 with a potentially winning advantage.) 57.Bg3 Rb2+ 58.Kg1 Qd4+ 59.Rf2 Rxf2 60.Bxf2 Qd1+ 61.Kg2 Qg4+ secures a draw with checks along the light squares.] 53...Rb2? [53...Rb4 54.Qxh7+ Kf8 55.Qh6+ Bg7 56.Rd8+ (56.Qg6 Qe4+ 57.Rf3+ looks nicer than it is: 57...Kg8 58.Qf7+ Kh7 59.Qh5+ Bh6 60.Qf7+ Kh8! and the checks won't be around for much longer.) 56...Kf7 57.Qh5+ Kf6 58.Qf3+ Ke7 59.Rd5 Qg4+ 60.Qxg4 Rxg4+ 61.Kh3 and a draw is the natural result at this point.] 54.Rd7+ [54.Qxh7+ Ke8 55.Qf5 is similar to the game continuation.] 54...Kg8 [Of course not 54...Kf8 55.Qxf6+; But 54...Ke8 was quite reasonable: 55.Rxh7 Rxf2+! 56.Kxf2 Qd4+ leads to a number of interesting positions that aren't so easy to figure out. My gut feeling is that with accurate play, Black can make a draw, but White is generally pushing.] 55.Qxh7+ Kf8 56.Qf5 Rxf2+ This probably shouldn't lose, but it might not yet be necessary. [56...Qc3 57.Qg6 looks like curtains for Black, except that he can turn the tables nicely with: 57...Rxf2+! 58.Kxf2 Bd4+ and it's Black who's winning! If White doesn't take on d4 immediately, then he'll drop the rook on d7 after some checks. And if he does take on d4, well, the resulting position is not too heartening.] 57.Kxf2 Qf4+? Accompanied by a draw offer, but this is a losing move. [57...Qa2+? 58.Kg3 Qb3+ 59.Kg4 and White's king escapes.; 57...Ke8! still leaves the waters a bit murky.] 58.Qxf4 gxf4 59.Kf3 Bc3 The bishop needs to go to b4 to allow the pawns to advance, but this is time consuming and leaves the bishop poorly placed. The endgame is lost regardless of what Black does at this point, largely because of the poor placement of Black's bishop and the horrible placement of Black's king on the 8th rank. 60.Kxf4 Bb4 61.Ke4 (Diagram)


61...c4 [61...a4 62.Ra7 a3 63.Kd5 Kg8 64.h4 Kh8 65.h5 Kg8 66.Ke6 c4 67.Kf6 c3 68.h6 c2 69.h7+ (69.Kg6? aims to trick Black into playing 69...c1Q (But 69...Kf8! 70.h7 Bc3 leaves Black doing just fine!) 70.Ra8+ Bf8 71.h7+ Kh8 72.Rxf8#) 69...Kh8 70.Kg6 c1Q 71.Ra8+ and mate follows. This is the common theme in this endgame - the pawns are stopped momentarily while Black can do nothing more productive; the white h-pawn runs up the board; and then finally, the white king slides over to start making mate threats a reality.] 62.Rc7 c3 63.Kd3 Kg8 64.h4 Kh8 65.h5 Bd6 [If Black continued to shuffle back and forth with 65...Kg8 , then 66.Ke4 a4 67.Kf5 a3 68.h6 and like in the note to Black's 61st move, White is going to checkmate one way or another.] 66.Ra7 a4 67.Rxa4 Kh7 68.Ra7+ Kg8 [68...Kh6 69.Ra6 picks up the bishop.] 69.Kxc3 Bf8 70.Kd3 Bg7 71.Ke4 Kh7 72.Kf5 Kh6 73.Rb7 Bc3 74.Rb6+ Kh7 75.Rd6 Bb2 76.Rc6 Bd4 77.Ke4 Bg7 78.Kf5 Bd4 79.Kf4 and Black resigned. With the Black bishop cut off from the c1–h6 diagonal, White pushes h6 himself, slides the king over to h5, and then uses the rook from the side to help escort the h-pawn up the board. 1–0

From dark matter to the big crunch
The vocals came in a bunch without one punch
Rare glimpse from the, strictly advanced, proved unstoppable
Reputation enhanced, since the cause was probable
So you compare contrast but don't blast
through extreme depths, with the pen I hold fast
The rhyme came from the pressure of heat
Then it was laid out, on the ground to pave streets


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