Sunday, October 26, 2008

SF Goes Down to Dallas

I've never felt guilty in my life. Except that one time, but she woke up before it could happen. Wednesday night really came close though. I was off in China for a few weeks, the team is doing great, winning almost every match. Then, I come back, and we promptly lose. Though I somehow didn't lose myself, I certainly should have, and I'm sure losing the match was my fault in some way. Let's see how it played out.

The first game decided was David's loss to Igor Schneider. As usual, David decided the best strategy for the game was playing some opening he didn't know much about. Igor's 12. b3 sent David into the tank, and it seemed like he tried to react a bit too violently toward it. 14... Nxd4 looks like a definite improvement over exd4, as then Bb7 can hit the knight on d5 next, and black has good counterplay. With 17... Bxh3 David was already in desperation mode, but 18... Bh4 was too much. He needed to play Nc6, though his position is still unpleasant after Qc3 Bd7 Qd3. After 22. g3 white is clearly winning. Igor needs no help when he has the initiative on his side, and he finished quite easily.

The next to finish was young Nicholas Nip's game. To be honest I was a bit worried at first, as Nicholas is inexperienced in the league, and Zorigt has done quite well thus far. I was happy to see that as usual I was dead wrong. At first he was steadily outplaying her in a closed sicilian, and after 24. exd6 he looked just winning. However, he then went astray with moves like Rc4 and Ra4. In my opinion, he needed to get his knight into the fight, for example with 27. Rc2 followed by Nb2. As it occured, Zorigt managed to win the c5 pawn. Even after that Nicholas seemed better, but nothing materialized, and they drew in 52 moves. While not a perfect game, I thought it was an impressive debut by the youngster, and I have no doubt he'll make his mark in future seasons.

So at this point we were down 1.5-.5. Vinay's position on 2 again Davorin Kuljasevic was looking good, but unfortunately I was dead lost against Marko Zivanic. Vinay's game was one which I'm sure he laments not winning. I bet he'll complain about it on his blog shortly. I'll allow him to show you his analysis, which I'm sure will be superior to mine. To summarize, however, he had a very promising position out of the opening. Then he went astray, missing black's idea of c5. As is often the case in Vinay's games, even after a "ridiculous oversight," he was still better. He was unable to make anything of it, however, and after the queenside pawns traded a draw was the inevitable result. This left me with the task of winning down a queen, a task I just didn't feel up to.

My own game resembled what my dorm room at boarding school was like by the end of the year. It was just a complete mess, with my pieces thrown randomly all over the board. Plus I think there was food somewhere that I couldn't find, because it really stank. OK forget that analogy, it didn't work out at all. I got an awful position out of the opening. 6... Bd6 is sketchy in of itself, but 8... Bb7 really sealed my fate. I was playing too fast, and only after my opponent played 9. e4 did I realize I was practically lost. I sacrificed a queen for rook and piece out of desperation, but there is no way it should have held. 28. Qe7 instead of a3 would probably have finished me quicker, but even after that he was winning. The simple plan of tying me up with his queen, then advancing his kingside pawns seemed like the simplest way to win. He tried playing on the queenside instead, however. This probably should have worked also, but me messed it up, and after 47... Rd4 I'm already getting counterplay.

Some complications ensued, but after 57... Rf5+ I felt I was already close to the drawing zone. If I simply keep my king on the kingside supporting my pawn, it will be nearly impossible for him to win. However, like an idiot, I got impatient and went for 58... Rf3+ and Rxg3. I missed he could win my g-pawn by force then, and then I'm in danger again. My only drawing try then is sacrificing my knight for the pawn, and creating a fortress with my remaining pieces. I was hoping to keep my pawn on b6 and sac the knight for the h-pawn, but then he'll simply march his king up to f5. That meant I had to march my pawn up, which makes fortresses much harder. I still think his best try was meandering his king up to f5, trying to sac for my knight, perhaps forcing me to advance my b-pawn beyond where my king can hold it. He played h7 as soon as I advanced my pawn. It turns out, however, that as long as his king can't get behind my b-pawn it's still a draw! I didn't know this, and my suspicion is that my opponent didn't either. Even if his king managed to get in front of my pawn it's a draw, as long as my rook still has access to c3. He tried to win for awhile, but I managed to hold it together, and we drew after a grueling 107 moves. Unfortunately, this had no bearing on the match status, and we went down 2.5-1.5.

Next week we face the red hot Miami Sharks. If we win or draw, we clinch the division title, whereas if we lose we'll probably get 2nd. If we manage to get blown out, we might even get 3rd, but there I am being all negative again. My hope is that we'll just win and put all doubts to rest, and go into the post season with renewed confidence.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taking out the Tempo

Our Week 8 matchup was with the Tennessee Tempo - they haven't had much luck over the years in the league, but this year, they're much more dangerous with GM Jaan Ehlvest on board 1. Actually, Ehlvest might have the highest percentage of any board 1 in league history with his undefeated 7/8 over two seasons thus far. With Ehlvest on board 1, they can all slide down a board and get more competitive matchups.

Board 3: Shankland - Bick, 1-0

Sam was the first to finish with a win over John Bick. His opening was a bit weird (9.Nc3 is not something I normally see there, I thought 9.Kf2 is more normal), but he quickly achieved a huge position because Black got carried away on the queenside. After the game, he wondered if he'd get any GotW votes, and maybe he will, but he could've helped himself with 17.f5!

I had walked by after 16...Nb3 and thought 17.f5 was crushing but didn't calculate too much. Then Sam played 17.Bb5+, so I figured I had just missed something, but on a second glance, it looks devastating. One nice line is 17.f5 Nxa1 18.fxe6 g6 19.Bb5+ Kd8 20.Nxf7+ Qxf7 21.Rxf7 gxh5 22.Bg5#

After 17.Bb5+ though, White's advantage disappeared pretty quickly. 28...h4 was a bit too ambitious, and then John probably missed 32.Ne8+!, which sets up a nice mating attack.

Board 2: Andrews - Bhat, 0-1

I was a bit surprised by Todd's opening choice with the 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4 Anti-Meran. I was actually expecting 1.e4, but I knew he played 1.d4, and expected the regular 6.Bd3 Meran there. Earlier this year, I met this 7.g4 line (I think it's been called the Shirov-Shabalov Attack elsewhere?) with 7...h6. But in that game, against GM Eugene Perelshteyn, I struggled to get a draw, and figuring that Todd had prepared something special for me in this line, I decided to change things up at the line and play 7...Nxg4.

The game continued on relatively normal paths until 14.Be1. My thought during the game was that he wanted to stop 14...Nh4, which now runs into due to 15.Nxh4 Qxh4 16.f3, and maybe avoid an exchange of knight for bishop. Unfortunately, the bishop is misplaced a bit on e1 and clogs up some of the communication of his rooks. I also don't have to rush with ...Nh4 and can instead go about finishing my development and castling. I was more worried about 14.Bd3 or 14.Be2 at that point, as even if go after the h-pawn right away with 14...Nh4, after 15.Nxh4 Qxh4 16.Rdg1, I expected White to have adequate counterplay on the g-file and in the center.

In the game, though, I got to castle queenside without too much trouble and then White was left without any obvious targets to attack. With my powerful knight on e4 and the ability to challenge the g-file, the center and kingside are generally in Black's hands. Thus, Todd looked to attack on the queenside with 16.c5. The problem was that the attack was a bit slow to organize, and in the meantime, I was able to organize some serious threats myself.

After some exchanges on the kingside, I was threatening to crash through, but then Todd gave me a gift. 22.Rb3? walked right into 22...Nxc5 (thanks to the pin along the 4th rank), but I think White was already in trouble. I expected 22.Qb4, but then I planned 22...Rg1 23.Be2 (23.Rb3 still walks into 23...Nxc5! 24.Qxc5 Rxf1, when White is in huge trouble) Bc7 24.Rb3 Kd8!, simply sidestepping the attack. Black threatens 25...a5 to drive the queen from the defense of the bishop on e1, and meanwhile White's pieces are strangely tied up on the b-file and in the center.

Board 1: Wolff - Ehlvest, 1-0

Patrick ran into a buzzsaw this week, with Ehlvest continuing his strong play in the league. With this win, Jaan now leads BionicLime's USCL Rating List (available here). The opening didn't really go White's way, but I thought Patrick fought back to get a reasonable position. After the game, he suggested 21.a3 immediately (instead of 21.Rc1) was maybe a bit better.

Black cut across White's plan of Rc1-c2-f2 after 21.Rc1 with 21...Qd6 when the knight on d5 begins to feel a bit vulnerable. Patrick gave a pawn up on that square, but got it back before going into a slightly worse endgame with R + B + N + 3P for each side. A computer would probably draw such a position, but it's a tall order to play it in time pressure against a strong player. Ehlvest gradually wore him down until White blundered with 49.Rxb5, which allowed 49...Bxd4! winning.

Board 4: Al-Shamma - Young, 0-1

Like Board 3, this didn't seem to be going our way in the opening and early middlegame stages. As a side note, I think Jim lived in the Bay Area for some time, as I played him in the Berkeley Quads tournament back in 1994!

I'm not an expert on either side of the Dutch, but this line with Qc2 and Bg5 certainly paid dividends in the opening phase. White got his pieces out to good squares while saddling Black with the backwards e7-pawn. 13...Rxf3! was a good practical move, as although Black's position was still worse, the nature of the game had changed a bit and White had to play a little more precisely to maintain his advantage.

After some lengthy maneuvers, Greg still seemed to be hanging in there around move 25. White was tied up a bit on the kingside and Black was circling the g5-pawn. But it looks like 26...Nxg5 was rushed (Black's worse after 26...Bd7, but it's probably better), as White could play 27.Re2!, when 27...Nf7 loses to 28.Rxh3. Missing this, White had essentially just given his g-pawn away for free and was soon struggling to maintain equality. He continued to bleed pawns left and right, although as he was playing purely on the increment by that point it's hard to imagine putting up strong resistance. Greg wisely snatched a bunch of pawns before arranging a queen trade. He had 5 pawns and a bishop for the rook at that point, and even though one pawn was lost right away, it was a trivial win as the central pawns ran down the board.

With this win, we won the match 3-1 and clinched a playoff spot in the West. We now have 6.5/8, which keeps us tied for the best record in the league with Queens. Queens kept pace with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blaze, with standout IM Alex Lenderman running his score up to 7 for 7 (!) in league play thus far. I don't think anybody has been perfect through 7 games before, and so maybe this breaks Jorge Sammour-Hasbun's record of 6.5 through 7 games last year for a single season performance? Miami beat Dallas, so they're in 2nd place now with 5.0/8. We play Dallas next week and Miami in week 10, so it won't be a cakewalk to maintain the division lead.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Some photos from SF - Seattle (week 7)

Since we don't seem to have any photos posted, I took a few during yesterday's match. Here they are:

John on board 2. My board is in the background, with the (non-digital) clock ticking.

The kids seem to use a different approach without any old-fashioned board or clock.

I don't think I could see the board well if I were this close to the screen.

Sam prefers a slight tilt - monitor to the right, head to the left. But maybe that just explains his poor opening play.

Cutting down the Sluggers

It took a couple extra days, but we beat the Sluggers in the end by a score of 3-1. This match was originally scheduled for Monday night, but due to some strange events, it got moved to Wednesday.

I'll give my take on the lineup changes (EDIT: This is not an agreed upon version, mind you, just my thoughts on the emails I saw). After our last match against Arizona, John emailed Greg asking if Patrick could play from the Marshall Club along with the NY Knights this week. After Greg asked Eddie Chang (the Seattle manager), it was cleared and the lineups were set with Patrick on 1 (as white against Hikaru) and Serper on 2 (as white against me).

Then, on Monday morning, the match was abruptly moved to Wednesday. It seemed there was concern about a strong storm moving through Seattle and also the fact that Serper's wife had delivered late on Sunday night. However, this was not a good move for us as Patrick had since scheduled to fly back on Wednesday evening. Thus, John was again forced into relief duty and had to play on board 2.

It would've been patently unfair to let Seattle use the same lineup on Wednesday as they had penciled in for the Monday match when they had just arbitrarily knocked out our highest rated player. However, they let Mikhailuk play on board 2 without even offering a time penalty to John, which seems ridiculous to me.

The justification seemed to be that Seattle had done us a favor by letting Patrick play from NY. For starters, this seems a bit of a stretch, as the league rules state that some of the factors that increase the likelihood of this being allowed include if: (1) you're away due to a major obligation; (2) the place is a public area; (3) your team has not used this option previously; (4) a league approved TD on site; (5) it's a regular season match. This covers 5 of the 6 applicable factors here, the only one remaining is the other team's willingness (but the commisoner retains the final say based on all the factors present).

Even discounting this, in the alternative scenario where we might have been forced to play on Monday without Patrick's help, Serper likely would not have played because of his newborn child. Our lineup would have been finalized in advance, but they would have had to substitute Mikhailuk (or someone else) with a time penalty offered.

But, in the end, Seattle got to knock out our highest rated player, while making a substitution that might well have taken place anyways without a time penalty! Luckily, we managed to win the match anyways.

Board 1: Bhat - Nakamura, 1-0

On board 1, I again got the white pieces against Hikaru. Last year's game was a bit of a roller coaster that ended in victory for me (the game can be replayed with some of my notes at: Since then, Hikaru has since crossed 2700 FIDE and was a perfect 3 for 3 (all against GMs) so far this year.

The opening was a weird King's Indian Defense with 6...Nc6 7.d5 Nb8. This was one of the more interesting moments in the game, as I hadn't seen this move before, but it did bring back a memory of another weird opening line. It reminded me a bit of 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Ng8!?!?. I was alerted to the existence of this line when flipping through a copy of Khalifman's "Opening for White According to Anand, Volume 5", which at least according to the table of contents, spends close to 10 pages discussing how to get +/= against this line. I don't have the book, so I'm not sure it's a typo, but I've seen that table of contents online, so it's probably correct.

Anyways, I didn't expect to refute 7...Nb8 and when I looked this up in the database today, there were over 300 games with it!

I was a bit better after the opening, but the position wasn't anything amazing. After 16.cxd5, Black's queen is a bit funny on a5 (it can get hit by a3/b4 or Nb3 in various lines), and White is trying to push through e4-e5 when the knight on f6 is short on safe squares. Then, after 16...Nb6 17.a3 Na4, I could've played 18.Ncb5 which secures the advantage. I had seen the key line 18...a6 19.Nc7!! Rxc7 20.Nb3, when the Black queen can't stay in touch with the rook. However, I was unable to find anything special after 18...Qd8! 19.Rxc8 Qxc8 20.Nxa7 Qg4. 21.Qb5 runs into 21...Qd7, when White can't hang on to all his loose pawns (on b2, e4, f4, and sometimes d5). However, 21.Qc4 hits the knight and White comes out on top.

After 18.Nb1?!, then, Hikaru played correctly at first: 18...Rxc1 19.Rxc1 Qa6 before I made another misstep with 20.Qc2?!. Both 20.Qxa6 and 20.Nd2 were better, as even though White loses the b-pawn, the rook invades on the 7th rank and the position remains about equal.

Hikaru then returned the favor with 20.Qc2?! Nc5 21.Nd2 Nd3 22.Rf1 Nd7?. He explained after the game that he was a bit under the weather, which would explain this lackadaisical move. I'm pretty sure he'd normally see and play 23...Ng4! very quickly, when the threat of ...Ngf2+ is bothersome. I'd have to play 24.h3 Ngf2+ 25.Rxf2 (25.Bxf2 Nxf2+ 26.Rxf2 Bxd4 is clearly better for Black - he has the bishop over the knight, a more compact pawn structure, and the open c-file after ...b6 and ...Rc8) Bxd4 26.Rf1 when the position is now better for Black.

After 22...Nd7?, though, he's losing. 23.b4! threatens to cut the queen off from the knight and there's no safe way back from d3. After 23...Bxd4 24.Bxd4, he can try 24...g5, but the calm 25.g3 keeps the e5-square from Black and Qb3 and b5 follow, winning. The rest was pretty easy mop-up duty, as I wasn't planning on giving away gift away like I did against Barcenilla last week.

Board 4: May - Naroditsky, 0-1

The next game to finish was on board 4, with Danya pretty easily dispatching Andy May. This was a Closed Sicilian where Black chose the interesting plan of playing ...Nh6, ...f5, and ...Nf7. Actually, I think Hikaru used to play this way against the Closed Sicilian when he was younger. Anyways, White didn't find anything useful to do, and after 13...fxe4, dropped an exchange with 14.dxe4 Nb5 15.Nxb5 Bxb5. White could have put up some more resistance, but Danya neutralized any pressure quickly and marched on to victory. May struggled on for a long while, but the result was never in doubt.

Board 3: Shankland - Readey, 1-0

We definitely got a bit lucky on this board. I'm not sure which position Sam is talking about, but he claim after the game that at some point, if he had the black pieces, he'd "have a plus a score against Rybka." Danya quickly told him that was being a bit too bold, but the point remains that Black was clearly better.

The opening certainly didn't go Sam's way, as he sort of castled into it on the queenside. With the long diagonal being opened, and then having to play b2-b3, his position was pretty ugly. 20...Nc4! 21.bxc4 Nxe5 was one nice way to win the game (maybe this is what Sam was referring to?). 22...Nxe5! was also winning, as after 23.fxe5 Nxe3, White can't cover the back rank and the the weak dark squares.

Readey's move order of 22...Nxe3 23.Qxe3 Nxe5 was also good enough, but after 24.Rgd2, he should've brought the knight to c6 instead of g4 (after a preliminary exchange on d2). In the game, he was still better, but wasn't so easily winning. Sam defended well, and the game petered out to a simple equality. However, Readey had been down on time for a while now, and maybe either the time pressure or the fact Seattle needed him to win to salvage a draw in the match clouded his judgment and he let the draw slip away 60...Bf8?. Sam then played correctly, targeting the g6-pawn to finish Black off.

Board 2: Mikhailuk - Donaldson, 1-0

This was a smooth positional effort from Mikhailuk. The game started out as a standard Symmetrical English, with some subtle move order tricks from both players. Maybe an interesting juncture was after 14.Rb1, when John had a chance to play 14...Nd4. Then after 15.Bxb7 Rb8 16.Bg2 Bb3 17.Qe1, Black has compensation for the pawn, but it's not clear it's quite enough. However, this was very similar to John's game as black last year against Readey (!) when he made a similar pawn sacrifice on b7 to get a bind on White's position. Take a look at Readey-Donaldson, 0-1, 2007 - the position after 23.Qe1 is pretty similar. John considered this, but in that game, Readey had lost some time with his queen and knight, and so Black's counterplay (especially with ...f7-f5-f4) was coming much sooner.

Anyways, the next interesting moment seems to be after 17.axb4, when Black can consider 17...Qd6 instead of 17...cxb4. In the game, Black takes the bishop pair, but is saddled with a permanently weak b5-pawn. After 17...Qd6 18.bxc5 bxc5, though, White has trouble targeting the c5-pawn and the d4-square becomes an even stronger outpost for Black's knight. 19.Rb1 Bb3 and 19.Qc2 Nd4 do not inspire for White.

After 17...cxb4 18.Bxb4 Nxb4 19.Rxb4, though, it becomes a long struggle to try and draw the game. The isolated b-pawn became an isolated a-pawn, but it was no safer there. John managed to get to R + B + N, with 3 pawns to 2 for White, but the passed d-pawn is problematic. Pushing the h-pawn with 37...h5 may not have been the best call, but having done so, 38...h4 probably has to be played. Black's happy about pawn exchanges, so 39.gxh4 isn't too worrisome; after 39.g4, though, Black has to find 39...Ng7!, heading for e6 which targets the newly weak f4 and g5 squares.

In the game, White slowly activated his pieces and Black had too many weaknesses to defend. With 3 points in the bag, it didn't affect the match outcome, and we stayed in first place in the West with 5.5/7. Next week, we play on Wednesday against Tennessee.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sort of right

A few days overdue, but we won in one of the featured Monday night matchups against the Arizona Scorpions. It could easily have been 4-0, but we settled for a 3-1 victory (as a side note, it was some nice symmetry with the previous week against Boston, where we should have lost 0-4, but managed to save two games to bring the score to 1-3).

Board 3: Rensch-Shankland, 0-1

The first game to finish was on board 3, as Sam outplayed Danny in an endgame. Like Patrick a few weeks ago, Sam essayed the Classical Sicilian and quickly took the game into an endgame. However, 17...b6? was a mistake that allowed 18.e5!, when White can get a very favorable structure at no real cost. White missed that opportunity and should have then sat tight instead of 20.e5?. A draw would then have been the most likely result in my view.

I'm assuming that White missed 20...Bxf3 21.exd6+ Rxd6!. The resulting R+P endgame is also probably drawn with correct play, but it's psychologically tough to play tough defense after a couple missed lines. As it was, Sam played quite well and easily went from equality to a clearly won game.

Board 2: Pruess - Ginsburg, 1-0

David one-upped me here, as he managed to win with an offbeat Bg5 opening (as opposed to my disaster against Christiansen a couple weeks back). I personally don't think 3...c6 and 4...Qa5 is the most challenging way to meet the Veresov, but Mark said that he's had some success with this line in the past. As he said, 8...exf3! was a better move - in the game, Black's king gets stuck in the center for no real compensation.

White continued thematically with 11.d5!, opening up the position before Black could consolidate. The game turned into David's bread-and-butter: pursuit of the king. He never let Black get a real fighting chance later on, with 13.Qe1! and 19.Ne4!. The finish was rather picturesque - Black can't avoid losing a queen after 23.c7+, so he resigned.

Board 4: Naroditsky - Martinez, 1/2

This game was almost decided in the opening itself. Danya played a King's Indian Attack and black chose a solid, but not especially enterprising line against it with an early ...b6. After 9.Qe2, Black can play 9...a5 or 9...Be7 with a reasonable position, but instead, he chose the lemon 9...Nfxe4?. With 13.Qf3!, White hits b7 and f7, and threatens an annoying check on c6 to boot. Actually, I expected 14.Qc6+ Ke7 (14...Qd7? drops the rook on a8) 15.Nxe6!, when it's all over right away. If 15...Kxe6 (15...fxe6 drops the queen after 16.Bg5+) 16.Re1+ Kf6 17.h4! h6 18.h5!, and Black can't avoid mate. The threat is 19.Qc3+ Kf5 20.Qf3#.

However, Danya chose the more prosaic approach with 14.Rd1 Be7 15.Nxf7. White just emerges up a couple extra pawns in a relatively trivial endgame. I'll take a break in the action of describing this game with my own now.

Board 1: Barcenilla - Bhat, 1/2

I had expected Rogelio to play 1.c4 (since that's all I saw for the past dozen years or so), and then he played 1.e4 on me! I was debating what to play, but decided to go with the Ruy Lopez. He chose a sideline in the Exchange Ruy with 5.Nc3 that was unfamiliar to me, and I responded with 5...Qd6. It's ironic that Josh Friedel was surprised with 1.e4 by Serper in the league, and Serper chose this same line of the Exchange Ruy! Must be easy to learn ...

The endgame was pretty equal right away, as Black has no real trouble with his queenside pawns or in developing his pieces. 16...Be6 was a bit provocative, as 16...Bd8/16...Bc6 would be more normal in this kind of position. White played 17.f4, as expected. The mistake, as pointed by Levan Altounian on the Scorpions' blog, was to keep pushing the f-pawn. 18.f5?! and 19.e5?! left White a bit overextended, when 18.Nc3 was more prudent. White's not really much better, but the game continues.

By 25...Rhe8, I was already a bit better probably, as I had accomplished a lot more over the previous 5 moves or so than White had. White's pawns aren't going anywhere, Black has the bishop pair, and can now try to start pushing with some of his queenside pawns. Maybe in an effort to stir the pot, Rogelio played a bit starting with 26.b4, and was close to losing after 32...Nc7. After 36.Ke2?, allowing 36...Rxb3 37.Rxb3 Nd4+, winning a piece, he was definitely losing.

Of course, at this point, we were winning on the two remaining boards. On Sunday, I had given an interview to Elizbeth Vicary (you can read it on her blog, here) and predicted a win for Seattle by a score of 2.5-1.5, and a win for San Francisco by a score of 3-1. I realized now that I was in danger of being wrong on that prediction and that really couldn't be allowed.

So I started running back and forth between my board and Danya's board in an effort to distract him from his game.

Thus, in spite of having at least 3 winning plans after move 35 in his game (35.h3-h3), he was thoroughly distracted and managed to give away half a point. (The easiest way to win would have been h3/g4/f4-f5/g5-f6, and so on.)

I, too, had to make sure not to win my game and so after consolidating the extra piece, I was only one move away (with 47...Bd7 or 47...Bd5 of completely squashing any hope of counterplay). However, I had to make sure to give away the win as well, and so out came 47...Kb5?, 52...Bg7?, 54...Nf5?, and so on. Actually, even after these mistakes, 64...Nh5 might have provided winning chances, but in the mode of playing bad chess, I couldn't stop myself and so 64...Ne4 came along, allowing the obvious 65.Nxg4 with an immediate draw.

Anyways, the two draws were enough to win by a 3-1 score and reclaim sole first in the west (Dallas lost to Tennessee by a 2.5-1.5 margin). Next week, we get the rejuvenated Seattle Sluggers, who with GMs Nakamura and Serper on boards 1 and 2, present a tough test for everybody.