Now that the USCL season has concluded, I thought I would share with you the highlight of my season. With it being Christmas and all, and the New Year approaching, it seems like a good time to reflect on some of my recent chess and some of my more "fun" moments.
I don't think I've shared this game before. It was played against IM Jonathan Schroer in week 10 of the USCL regular season. I was playing the White side against a tough opponent who frequently played the Caro-Kann. When he started the game off, meeting my 1. e4 with 1...e5, it felt like he might have something prepared against my normal opening, The Evans Gambit, but I still played it anyway!
The opening was an interesting line that is one of the more positional lines/tests to White's whole opening. In this line, Black is willing to more or less give back his extra material in order to achieve a comfortable position with harmonious development. It's not easy to create problems for Black in this line, and eventually I chose to play a continuation based off of a line invented by GM Nigel Short. Let's see if you can find it too:
10. a5! is a nice idea that keeps the spirit of the gambit alive. It's very uncommon to see the b and a pawns along with the exchange sacrificed like this in any opening but here it's the only realistic option White has in order to keep the initiative. By move 19 it is clear that White's more actively placed pieces fully compensate for the lost material. At this point though I missed a strong and logical continuation. What would you play here?
19. Ne4! was a strong move that would have maximized White's activity. If Black captures on a3, Black will be left with additional pressure on the a3-f8 diagonal. White's Knight coming into d6 would assure him the better game. The next part of the game was played under the oncoming influence of time pressure with random disconnections and internet problems that only seemed to make the game more exciting. In the end I was fortunate to prevail. There is one variation that didn't happen in the game that I want to share with you. Can you find how White wins here?
If you found Qxg6 followed by Nh4 then you're doing well. It's not the most difficult continuation to find but the Knight windmill checks that happen afterwards are pretty cool. It's rare to see the minor pieces coordinating so dangerously around the King.
Here's the whole game.
I hope everyone has a great holiday season and I also hope to see you in the upcoming tournament in Vegas!