By IM Mark Ginsburg
Arizona Draws and Advances
Arizona, receiving draw odds in the match (they only needed a 2-2 tie to advance to the semi-finals) played a very strong Seattle team on Monday.
Here is Leo Martinez’s pre-match preview in blue – then I provide the game score and some post-game in red.
Altounian – Akobian is an interesting matchup of two Armenians that immigrated to the US and are now both working at chess full time in their lives. GM Akobian needs no introduction as he just helped assist in the Olympiad for the US and is amongst the best players in the country year after year. He figures to be up at the top of US players for many years to come as he is fairly young still. IM Levon Altounian is perhaps not as high rated and as strong but he has great amount of experience on his side. He is also having a good season with a GM scalp against GM Amanov during week 8 to help Arizona beat the now #2 seed Chicago Blaze. He is also especially strong with White so this should make for an interesting matchup.
What actually happened?
Altounian – Akobian
1.e4 c5 2.c3
Not a guaranteed draw! But a decent way to sidestep most of the grandmaster preparation. Actually 1…c5 is already a surprise from Akobian. He handles the opening phase in this game very well.
2…Nf6! 2. c3 expert GM Sergey Tiviakov considers 2…d5? a grave mistake, and Akobian agrees!
3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 e6 8.0-0 Be7 9.exd6 Qxd6 10.Nc3 0-0 11.Re1 Rd8 12.Bb3 a6 13.Nxd5 exd5 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.dxe5 Qb6 16.Qd3 Be6 17.Qg3 d4 18.Bh6 Bf8 19.Bg5 Rd7 20.Rad1 Bxb3 21.axb3 Re8 22.Rd3 f6 23.Bd2 Rde7 24.f4 fxe5 25.fxe5 Re6 26.h3 Qc5 27.Bf4 Qd5 28.Rf3 Bd6 29.Qg4 Bxe5 30.Bxe5 Rxe5 31.Rxe5 Qxe5 32.Qd7 Qe1+ 33.Kh2 Qe5+ 34.Kg1 Qe1+ 35.Kh2 Qe5+ 36.Kg1 Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2
My comments: a huge blow to Seattle’s chances. Altounian neutralized Akobian (black looked like he had a very pleasant game the whole time with excellent control of the center and an annoying pawn on d4 (after 17…d4). In fact, black was looking really good after the transformation 14. Ne5 Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qb6 already. The much higher rated Grandmaster certainly did not want to see a dead-drawn Q & R position (as actually occurred after move 32). It turns out black must give a pawn back with absolutely no winning chances in the final position.
Cozianu – Barcenilla is another interesting matchup of two players that have played mostly on board 1 for their teams this season. Both players are also fairly sharp and have had up and down seasons with good wins and not so good losses. Cozianu has impressive wins against GM Benjamin and IM Martinez but has equally unimpressive losses this season against IM Bercys and especially against IM Pruess. However, Rogelio has had an up and down season as well beating FM Mikhailuk, GM Khachiyan, and drawing top 15 player in the world GM Nakamura while losing to Becerra, Gurevich, and Kraai. This should be the game to watch for the match as the winner could easily decide the team that wins the match.
What actually happened?
Cozianu – Barcenilla
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 Nc6 7.d5 Na5 8.Nfd2 c5 9.Nc3 a6 10.Rb1 Bd7 11.Qc2 Qc7 12.b3 b5 13.Bb2 Rab8 14.Nd1 bxc4 15.bxc4 Rb4 16.Bc3 Rxb1 17.Qxb1 Ng4 18.Qa1 Bxc3 19.Qxc3 Rb8 20.h3 Nf6 21.Ne3 Rb4 22.a3 Rb8 23.g4 h6 24.f4 Nh7 25.Be4 Ba4 26.Bc2 Bxc2 27.Qxc2 Rb7 28.Rb1 Rxb1+ 29.Qxb1 Qb7 30.Qc2 Qb6 31.Kf2 Nb7 32.Ne4 Na5 33.Nd2 Nb7 34.Ke1 Nf8 35.Kd1 Na5 36.Qc3 Nd7 37.Kc2 Nb7 38.Nd1 Qa5 39.Qb3 Nd8 40.h4 Nb6 41.Nc3 Kh7 42.Kb2 Kg8 43.Ka2 Nd7 44.g5 h5 45.Qc2 Nf8 46.Nf3 Nd7 47.Nd1 Nb6 48.Nb2 Nd7 49.e4 Nf8 50.Qd3 Qc7 51.f5 Kh7 52.Nd1 Nd7 53.Qc3 Nb7 54.Nf2 Qa5 55.Qb3 Nd8 56.Nd3 Kg8 57.Qc2 Nf8 58.Nf4 Kg7 59.fxg6 fxg6 60.Qb2+ Kg8 61.e5 dxe5 62.Nxe5 Nf7 63.Nexg6 Nxg6 64.Nxg6 Qe1 65.Qb8+ Kg7 66.Qf8+ Kxg6 67.Qg8+ Kf5 68.Qxf7+ Kg4 69.Qe6+ Qxe6 70.dxe6 Kf5 71.Kb3 Kxe6 72.Kc3 Kf5 73.Kd3 a5 74.a4 e6 75.Ke3 Ke5 76.g6 Kf6 77.Kf4 Kxg6 78.Ke5 Kf7 79.Kd6 Kf6 80.Kxc5 Ke7 81.Kc6 Kf6 82.c5 Black resigns 1-0
My comments: this must have been a really aggravating loss for Rogelio. White had a space advantage and the typical “offside black knight on a5″ yet just started shuffling (playing on time or was he himself in time trouble?). Black was completely OK after move 31. Everytime this “bad” knight went back to b7 it seemed like a bad choice for black even though white was just king wandering. Then it went back to d8 and that was even worse! Finally, black’s unfortunate knight maneuvers just resulted in a weakened king position (I imagine both sides might have been on increment in this marathon) and white cashed in during the wee hours.
Adamson – Mikhailuk is another game to watch and challenges a strong board 3 player all season against a player (Mikhailuk) who normally plays on board 2 for Seattle. Robby has been very strong for the Scorpions having a solid +2 season at 3.5/5. He has not lost a game all season and beat FM’s Kiewra and Naroditsky to lead Arizona to wins in both matches by a 2.5-1.5 score. However, Mikhailuk is a dangerous opponent that is usually well prepared in the opening and is not afraid to mix it up with evidence from his recent victory against IM David Pruess.
What actually happened? Just one of the most, if not THE most, titantic battle ever witnessed in the USCL!
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Bxc6 Bxc6 8.Bg5 Qa5 9.0-0-0 e6 10.Rhe1 Be7 11.Kb1 0-0-0 12.Qd2 Kb8 13.Nd4 Bd7 14.Bf4 Qb6 15.Nb3 Bc6 16.Be3 Qa6 17.f3 d5 18.e5 Nd7 19.Bg5 Rhe8 20.Bxe7 Rxe7 21.Nd4 h6 22.Qf4 Nb6 23.Qg3 g5 24.h4 Nc4 25.hxg5 Rg8 26.f4 Rc7 27.Nce2 hxg5 28.f5 Qb6 29.b3 exf5 30.Nxf5 Bd7 31.Nfd4 Be6 32.Ka1 Na3 33.Qd3 Rgc8 34.Rc1 Bg4 35.c3 Bh5 36.Qd2 Qg6 37.Ng3 Bg4 38.Kb2 Qa6 39.Qxg5 Be6 40.Qd2 Nb5 41.Nxb5 Qxb5 42.Ne2 a5 43.Nd4 Qb6 44.Qe3 Rg8 45.Rc2 Qa6 46.Qe2 Qb6 47.Qb5 Qa7 48.Rf1 Rc5 49.Qd3 a4 50.b4 a3+ 51.Kc1 Rc4 52.Rf6 Qa6 53.Qf3 Rgc8 54.Qe3 Qa4 55.Kd2 Qe8 56.Rf2 Qh8 57.Nb5 d4 58.Nxd4 Qh1 59.Rc1 Qh7 60.Qd3 Qh6+ 61.Kd1 Bg4+ 62.Nf3 Ka8 63.Rcc2 Qb6 64.Ke1 Bh5 65.Qd2 Re4+ 66.Kf1 Rd8 67.Nd4 Rxe5 68.Qf4 Rde8 69.Rc1 Bg6 70.Kg1 Rh5 71.Rff1 Reh8 72.Rfe1 Rh4 73.Qe5 R4h5 74.Qf4 Rh1+ 75.Kf2 R1h4 76.Qe5 R4h5 77.Qe3 Qf6+ 78.Nf3 Rd8 79.Kg1 Qh8 80.Kf2 Rhd5 81.c4 Rd3 82.Qe5 f6 83.Qa5+ Kb8 84.Re3 Rxe3 85.Kxe3 Bh5 86.Qxa3 Qh6+ 87.Kf2 Bxf3 88.Kxf3 Qd2 89.Rc3 Rg8 90.g3 Qe1 91.Re3 Rxg3+ 92.Kf4 Rxe3 93.Qxe3 Qxb4 94.Qd4 Qe7 95.Kf5 Qh7+ 96.Ke6 Qg8+ 97.Kf5 Qh7+ 98.Ke6 Qg8+ 99.Kf5 Qc8+ 100.Kg6 Qe8+ 101.Kf5 Kc7 102.Qxf6 Qh5+ 103.Ke4 Qe2+ 104.Kd5 Qd2+ 105.Qd4 Qxa2 106.Qc5+ Kb8 107.Qd6+ Ka8 108.Qf8+ Ka7 109.Qc5+ Game drawn by mutual agreement 1/2-1/2
My comments: what an incredible game!. Slava Mihaliuk battled long and hard for his team (he was in a must-win during this arduous wee-hours game) and found chances when it appeared none existed, time and time again. Adamson stood solidly better in the opening. His 14. Bf4 was not a move that would occur to me, but it worked out (both sides lost time and it moved again). In the early middle game, he “did all the right things” trading off dark squared bishops after getting the e5 pawn wedge. This edge persisted, Mihaliuk kept confusing the issue, pressing on both wings, and white never had a clear win nor did he have a clear path to simplify and get out of complications. What stress on both players’ nerves! Finally after what seemed like the 20th transformation of position white *finally* simplified and black had to abandon winning tries giving Arizona the desired drawn match. Wow!
Wang – Thompson is a rematch of board 4 for Week 2 where both teams played each other with the same players. Wang had White in that game as well so it should be interesting to look at the opening in this game and see what improvements or ideas both players have compared to the former game. No doubt everyone will be prepping for such an important match and this game is almost certainly no exception. NM Thompson got the better of Wang in that game and Arizona needs to hope he can repeat the performance in order to advance to the Semifinals.
What actually happened?
1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Be7 7.d4 e4 8.Ne5 f5 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Nc3 0-0 11.f3 exf3 12.Bxf3 Be6 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Be3 Bd6 15.Qc1 Rb8 16.a3 Rb3 17.Bd2 Qf6 18.e3 Rfb8 19.Bc3 Qg6 20.Rf2 h5 21.Rg2 Qh7 22.Bd1 R3b7 23.b4 h4 24.Be1 h3 25.Rc2 Qh6 26.Bf3 Qf6 27.Qd2 a5 28.bxa5 c5 29.Rd1 c4 30.Ra2 Qd8 31.a6 Ra7 32.Qc2 Rxa6 33.Rda1 Rb3 34.Bd2 Rbxa3 35.Rxa3 Rxa3 36.Rxa3 Bxa3 37.Qa4 Bf8 38.Qc6 Qd6 39.Qxd6 Bxd6 40.Bd1 Kf7 41.Kf2 Ke7 42.Be2 g5 43.e4 fxe4 44.Bxg5+ Kd7 45.Bd2 Kc6 46.Ke3 Bxg3 47.Bb4 Bxh2 48.Kf2 Bf4 49.Kg1 Be3+ 50.Kh2 Bxd4 51.Kg3 Be5+ 52.Kf2 h2 53.Kg2 d4 54.Kh1 d3 55.Bd1 Bd5 White resigns 0-1
Isn’t it funny how matches always seem to go the way of the 4th board? In this game, white played 7. d4 which should be equal but followed it up very timidly. Seattle only needed a draw (as it turned out) here, but in chess we all know that playing for a draw as white often leads to a worse result. (strong Grandmaster Mikhail Gurevich once needed a draw playing white to advance to the Candidates in a last round Interzonal game against Nigel Short; opted for 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5, and lost horribly).
After 16. a3 Rb3, it was clear black was very happy. White held off the first wave and black locked it up with 24…h3 then went to the other wing with 27…a5 and 28…c5 to keep pressure on. Then the rook arrived on b3 yet again (33…Rb3) and things started to drop off for white. It never seemed like white’s bishops were working properly compared to their counterparts. Black reached a winning endgame and white’s transformation engineered by 43. e4 didn’t change matters.
White then blundered with 46. Ke3 allowing 46…Bxg3! but it didn’t matter by that point. Good game by our board 4 that set the stage for the titanic struggle on board 3! Also credit our board 1 for neutralizing a strong Grandmaster!