by GM Julio Sadorra
I always look forward to USCL matches every fall semester as a student at UTD. The past two seasons have given me so many competitive experience and crazy memories to make with the team, including one in which I had to leave my match halfway to take an evening Linear Algebra exam! I was fortunate to win that game and not let my team down. All's well that ends well :). Hopefully, I won't have to make such time concessions this season though.
On Monday, I started this season playing against Robert Perez of the Miami Sharks. According to my research, he is a gradually improving American junior and must have an aptitude for calculation and analysis. Due to this, I psychologically prepared myself for a tough match and used one of the weapons from my sharp opening lab.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O exd4 8. Nxd4
Re8 9. f3 c6 I've been studying this line since the beginning of this year,
and I'm glad to finally get the chance to play it. 10. Kh1 Nh5
I like this move for its provocative idea to weaken White's kingside, which later gives rise to volatile, dynamic middlegame situations. I was particularly inspired by how Ding Liren (Chinese Champ) beat Shimanov with this line in 2012 World Juniors.
11. g4 Nf6 12. Bf4 h5 13. g5 Nh7 14. Qd2 Nd7 15. Rad1 More common at the top level is 15. Rg1 Qe7 16. Rad1 Ne5 which gives Black good counterplay with ideas of bringing the other knight to the center Nh7-f8-e6, and creating queenside play a7-a6 and b7-b5.
Ne5 16. Be3 an interesting move that quickly introduces f3-f4-f5 idea. Bh3 17. Rfe1 White consistently leaves g1 for his bishop. I intended to meet 17. Rg1 with Qd7 anitcipating 18 Rg3 Rad8!? (I didn't like h4 because there's no way to support the pawn after Rg1 then Bf2) 19 f4 now h4! 20 Rg1 (the point is d8-rook makes the attack on my Ne5 illusory- 20 Rxh3 Qxh3 21 fe5 de5) Ng4 and Black has good play.
White must now be careful as move like 18. Nc2 allows Black to strike with Ng4! with the idea of 19 fg4 Bc3 20 Qc3 Qe4.
18. f4 Rad8 18... Nd7 19. Bf3 gives White what he wants and 18... Ng4 leads nowhere but trouble after 19. Bg1 followed by Qd3 trapping my bishop! Subsequently, this line clued me to an idea that improves my position and opens exciting possibilities. 19. Bg1 Bg4! this is it- exchanging off the problem piece and... 20. Bxg4 hxg4 21. Qe2 c5!? the only way to keep the pawn and the exciting ideas coming 22. Nd5 Qd7 23. Nb5 Nf3 24. Rf1 During the game, I planned to meet 24. Nxd6 with the queen sac Qxd6! 25. Nf6 Bxf6 26. Rxd6 Rxd6 27. gf Nxe1 28. Qxe1 Rxf6 and I thought Black should win due to my active rooks and his weak kingside. Qe6 25. e5! White comes up with his own exciting idea. 25. Nc7? Qxe4 26 Qxe4 Rxe4. dxe5 26. Nbc7 Qc8 sometimes one has to retreat to come back with more force later. However, one may ask "Isn't the queen better placed on c6 pinning the d5 knight?" 26...Qc6 27. Nxe8 Rxe8 seems fine for Black... Well lets take stock and make a simple tactical puzzle:)
27. f5?! seemed ambitious to me during the game but White also has a few minutes left on the clock. I think more prudent was 27. Nxe8 Rxe8 but Black has definite compensation for the exchange and the ensuing battle is already easier to play for Black, then maybe 28. Qe3 Bf8 threatening e4 or Qf5. 28 27... Nhxg5 (I didn't like 27... gxf5 because 28. Nxe8 Rxe8 29. Rxf3 gxf3 30. Qxf3 and it felt dangerous to play Nxg5 31 Qg2 Ne4 (at first I thought this was gonna justify my pawn grab) but 32 Be3 and Rg1 gives White an attack. But then again, maybe Houdini will find an escape for me! I just didn't find a good reason to give my opponent some counterplay. 28. f6 Bf8 29. Be3 Ne4 I like this centralizing move 30. Rxf3? trying to relieve the board pressure under time pressure; unfortunately, it's not enough to help him reach dynamic equilibrium. During the game I was inspecting 30. Bh6 Qf5 31 Qg2 (31. Bxf8? Ng3!+ 32. hxg3 Qh5+ is another exciting trick!) Nxf6 32 Nxf6 Qxf6 33 Bxf8 Kxf8 34 Qxg4 e4 leads to a clearly better game for Black.
30... gxf3 31. Qxf3 Qf5 32. Qg2 exchanging queens doesn't help 32. Qxf5 gxf5 33. Rg1 Kh7 with a winning endgame as White has no attack or anything special to show for his pawn deficit.
Rxd5 33. Nxd5 If 33. cxd5 Rc8 34. Rf1 Ng3+! 35. hxg3 Qd3 this zwischenshach secures the advantage for me; i thought 35...Qh5 36 Kg1 Rxc7 should also be possible to capitalize my advantage.
33... Nxf6! tactics in the service of technique 34. Rf1 Nxd5 here, I think my opponent realized that 35. Rxf5 doesn't work due to the Nxe3 fork. 35. cxd5 Qd7 36. Bg5 e4 37. h4 Qxd5 38. h5 Re5 39. Rg1 Be7 the last exciting move:) 40. hxg6 Rxg5 41. gxf7+ Kf8 42. Qh3 e3+ and Whte resigns.
Here's the "unplugged version" of the game: