Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Last weekend at the Marshall, I drew with two Masters and beat a young C-player (who gained a hundred rating points in the tournament). One of the draws (click here to replay) was almost one of the best games I've ever played...except that I didn't finish it off:

Gaillard, Ed (2124)    --    Maltese, Adam (2324)
Marshall CC April Open  (2)   New York
2006.04.22     1/2-1/2

1.c4 d6 2.g3 e5 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.e4 Ne7 6.Nge2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.d4 Bg4 9.f3 Be6 10.d5 cxd5 11.cxd5 Bd7 12.Be3 Na6

13 minutes here. I was thnking about things like Qb3 and Rfc1, and then I remembered: when the center is closed, you normally attack with Pawns on the wing. Thank you, Mr. Silman, I thought, and played a3.
13.a3 h6 14.b4 f5
The nice thing about the fianchetto variation of the King's Indian (which this basically is) is that ...f5-f4 can be met with Bf2, and White has a very strong defensive position on the Kingside.
15.Qb3 b6 16.a4 Kh7
This might be too slow. Black plans ...h5 and ...Bh6, after which Whitge can either exchange Black's bad Bishop, or play Bf2 and let c1 fall under Black's control. But meantime, White gets to continue his attack.
17.Nb5 Be8 18.Nec3 Nc7 19.Rfc1 Nxb5
Accompanied by a draw offer.
20.Nxb5 Bxb5 21.axb5 Qd7 22.Qd3
This cost me 10 minutes, mostly considering sacrificing the b5-Pawn.
22...f4 23.Bf2 h5 24.Rc2 Bh6 25.Rca2 Nc8 26.Qc4 fxg3 27.hxg3 Rb8 28.Qc6 Qf7 29.Bh3
I spent 10 of my last 12 minutes trying to work out the complications here. I would have liked to have prepared Bh3 with Ra3, but then Black gets in ...g5-g4.
I had expected 29...Qxf3, when after 30.Qc7+ Kh8 31.Qxb8 White should emerge from the complications with a win on material.
30.Bxc8 Qxf3
Having made the time-control with less than a minute to spare, I spent 48 minutes on my next move, mostly on a defence he didn't play. I don't regret it--when you think there's a forced win, you have to try to work it out.
31.Qc7+ Kh8
He spent about five minutes on this, leaving him more than an hour ahead on the clock, but 31...Bg7 was a much better defence. I thought 32.Qxb8 was much too dangerous then--Crafty seems to disagree--, and was going to play 32.Be6. In that case, though, Black seems to hold after 32...hxg3 33.Bxg3 Qxg3+ 34.Rg2 Qe3+ 35.Kh1 Rf2! --I had considered only 35...Qf3 36.Ra3!! winning.

As disgusted as I am at how I finished this game, I will never forget the expression on my opponent's face when I played my next move.
White to play
32.Bg4!! Qf6
32...Qxg4 33.Rxa7 ends the game on the spot. I expected 32...Qxe4 33.Rxa7 g5 (covering h7), when Black still has swindling chances due to my time-trouble, though 34.Qxd6 should just win.
Thought for three minutes, and somehow couldn't see that 33.Rxa7 still kills--33....Qxf2+ 34.Kh1 and there are no more checks.
33...Qg5 34.Qe2 Rxf2 35.Qxf2
I used two of my remaining 5 minutes on this. Of course, 35.Kxf2 is winning, but I felt that with so little time for the rest of the game, I was better off going for what looked like a winning endgame. I think that was actually a good practical decision.
35...Qxg4 36.Qf6+ Kg8 37.Qe6+ Qxe6 38.dxe6 Be3+ 39.Kg2 hxg3 40.Rxa7 Re8 41.Ra8
Objectively, 41.Rd7 Kf8 42.Ra3! is an easier win, but by trading Rooks I get rid of all the losing chances.
41...Kf8 42.Rxe8+ Kxe8 43.Ra7 Bf2 44.Rg7 g5 45.Rxg5 Ke7 46.Rg6 Be1 47. Kf3 Bf2 48.Kg2
First of all, after 48.Kg2 Black is in Zugzwang: 48...Bd4--what else?--49.Kd3 (intending Kc4-d5) 49...g2 50.Rxg2 Kxe6 51.Rg6+ Ke7 52.Kc4 and White wins easily. Even if Black somehow could pick up the b4-Pawn (as I hallucinated he could), The position Kg5, Rg6, Ps b5, e4 vs Kd7, Bc5, Ps b6, d6, e5 is also an obvious win--White can sac the exchange back on d6 and kill both the d6 and e5 pawns.

Instead, I repeated moves and offered a draw. Why? Yes, I only had a minute and a half left, but I should be able to play every move within the 5-seond delay! Sheer cowardice. I am so ashamed.

This was a sin against the goddess Caissa. I'm looking for a suitable penance.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Another Goniff Weekend

I did rather better at last weekend's slow open at the Marshall: beat a young A-player when he self-destructed in a drawn endgame, and had two draws and one loss against Masters. I spoiled great positions in the loss and in one of the draws; on the other hand, the other draw was a comedy of errors beyond even my usual good fortune. Here's the games without notes, and here are a few positions from the games. Enjoy!

White to play and draw. (If this works right, the solution is on the next line after this, but in white-on-white text. Select the area below to see it.)
41. Ke2! Kxf4 42. Kxf1 Ke3 43. c5 draws by a hair. White found the right start, but played 43.b5? and lost

Black to play: Find the wrong move. Solution, again, should be visible by selecting the text on the lines below this one.
11...Ne4? 12.Nxc4 wins a Pawn.

Black just played 19...Ng4xf2, and awaits the sockdolager.
20.Rc2! Qxc2 21.Bxf7+ ends all of Black's swindling attempts. White played 20.Bd6, which is also winning, but lets Black play on.
I had heard of the idea that if a player doesn't see the crusher immediately, he never will, but I had never seen it happen before. I sat very quietly until he played...well, a different strong move.

White has only two legal moves. Which one is wrong?
21.gxh3? Qxe3+ forces perpetual check. White was worried about 21.Kh1 Nf2+ 22.Rxf2 Qxc1+, but there's nothing there for Black. I was going to try 21.Kh1 Qxe3, hoping for a big mess after 22.Rxf7 Be6, but 23.Rxg7+ just forces mate.

White to play: don't get clever, part 1.
White has a substantial edge after either the straightforward 15.Rb1 b5 16.Qf4 or 15.Qb3 b5 16.a4. White chose 15.Ba3?! O-O 16.Rab1 b5 17.Qd4?, having hallucinated that after 17...Qxd4 18.cxd4, b4 was still impossible. No it isn't, and after that White may not have much advantage any more.

White to play: don't get clever, part 2.
Black is obviously better, but I--still hoping to win somehow and finish in the prize money--made things worse by going after the f-pawn with 31.Kg2?! which puts the King out of play after 31... Kf7 32.Kh3 h5 33.Kh4 Kg6. Then 34.Rc5 Re8 35.Rxd5 Rxe2 36.Rd6+ Kf5 37.Rd5+ Kf6 38.Rd6+ Re6 39.Rd8 Rb6 brings us to the next diagram.

White to play: don't get clever, part 3.
After 40.Ra8 b3 41.axb3 axb3 42. Ra1 b2 43.Rb1 Rb5 44.d5, White would still have good drawing chances. But I chose 40.Rh8? Hoping to gain a tempo by forcing the Black King to the second rank. Unfortunately, after 40...Rb5! 41.Ra8 b3 etc., White was a tempo behind the 40.Ra8 line...and lost the game by one tempo.

Questions and comments welcome, as always. Let me know if you like the hidden-text gimmick.

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