Is this the new Scorpion Logo?
Well, after this match you might think so!
This weeks match-up for Week Two of the 2013 US Chess Leage was against the San Francisco Mechanics. Now, on any given day San Francisco is a tough match for any team, but in my pre-match predicitions I was proven incredibly wrong. The only game I got correct was the game between Naroditsky vs Mohandesi - I predicted Daniel to win that. From there everything else went down hill. Our first game to look at will be between Mackenzie Molner vs Jessie Kraai.
To me, the first surprise came when Mac opened with a QP opening. I guess being a GM-Elect he thinks he has to play this move, but to be honest, I think he should lead with what brought him to the dance in the first place. Was he worried about playing against a French Defense? Really?
Okay, the players got into a Queens Indian Defense, fianchetto variation with ...Ba6 by Black. To me this is one of the sharpest lines Black can play, but Mac handled it well.
We pickup our coverage of the game here at move 38 for White (Mackenzie Molner).
38.Ra1 Nb5? After a long hard fought opening battle this gives White a solid advantage. 38...Nd5 looks like a better defense. 39.Nf4 And here I think that Jesse probably felt the pressure of the position. Black really has no good answer to White's invading knights. 39...Bd6 [39...Rc7 40.Ra6 Nc3 41.Nxa7 and it turns out that taking on b4 is very bad 41...Bxb4 42.Nc6 and now the idea of gaining luft with tempo 42...g5 is met by 43.Nh5 and things fall apart for Black in this position.; 39...Nc3 40.Rc1 g5 41.Rxc3 gxf4 42.gxf4 Bxb4 43.Rd3! Be7 44.Rd7 this looks winning for White.] Both players have been playing with little time on thier clocks by this point. 40.Nd5 Nc7
This was a critical position in the late middle-game. The transition from opening to middle-game and from middle-game to endgame is where mistakes are bound to happen, even at the highest levels (provided you require the players to move quickly, as in this case). 41.Rd1?! Mac misses the right moment to trade off the knights. Allowing the capture on e6 gives Black good drawing chances. [41.Nxc7 Rxc7 42.b5 Bc5 (42...Rb7 43.Rd1 Be7 44.Rd7 is clearly winning for White.) 43.Rd1 Rc8 (43...g6 44.Rd8+ Kg7 45.Rd7+ wins; 43...Be7 44.Rd7 we already know is bad for Black.) 44.Rd5 Bb6 45.Rd7 Re8 (45...Bc5 46.e7+ is of no help to Black.) 46.Rf7+ Kg8 47.Ne7+ Kh8 48.Nf5 g6 49.Ng7 Rc8 50.Rd7 and the path for the White e-pawn to advance has been cleared. White should win.] 41...Nxe6 42.Nxf6 This was Mac's plan, maybe he thought he could later capture on h7, but as we will see, this is not the case. 42...Bxb4
43.Nd5 With this I feel Black has completely equalized the position. If anything Black may stand slightly better. But I think at this point Mac realized that he cannot take on h7. [During the broadcast they were wondering about 43.Nxh7+ and I am sure this was Mac's original plan, but this turns out good for Black after 43...Kg8 and now the knight on h7 is in deep doodoo. 44.Rb1 (44.Nf6+ gxf6 45.Rb1 Rb6 46.Nxa7=/+) 44...Rb6=/+ in either case Black is better with the opportunity to play for two results being a piece up for two pawns.] 43...Bc5 From here on the players continued on through inertia to the end. The results were fortold on all the other boards and it didn't look good for the Scorpions. 44.Rd2 Rd7 45.Ne5 Rd8 46.Rd3 Bd4 47.Nf4 Nxf4 48.gxf4 Bb6 49.Rh3 h6 50.Nc4 Rd4 51.Nxb6 axb6 52.Rb3 Rxf4 Game Drawn by mutual frustration. 1/2-1/2
On Board Two we have the match-up of Daniel Narodisky playing White for San Francisco against Shahin Mohandesi of Arizona. Daniel is a Grandmaster and a serious talent that makes the future of chess in the United States look promising. Here he is paired against the veteran player from Arizona, who will come out on top? Youth or experience?
Black has just taken on d5.
This position arose out of a Kan Sicilian. It never quite morphed into a Hedgehog, at least Shahin's patience ran out before it could. Daniel played f4 early on and I believe Mohandesi paniced. 21.cxd5 The Hedgehog is for the strong willed and patient players in this world. Black wants to invite White into acting prematurely and then punish his eager opponent. But it seems that at the first sight of White advancing in the center Black paniced and started opening things up prematurely. That leads us to the position here. Black could now stay in the game with ...Rg4, but he instead plays21...Ng4?? This is the skater's version of getting 'Nutted' or, "Gnad Flossing". [The only shot (and it's already bad when at move 21 you are looking for the "only move") is 21...Rg4 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Rc6 In the long run I don't see how Black will survive, especially against a tremendous talent like Daniel Naroditsky, but at least it keeps you from grabbing your privates in shame and screaming out in a very high pitched voice!] 22.Qf3 Of course, this simple move is winning easily. 22...Qe8 23.Ng3 f5
24.Nxe4 [Why not take the pawn on f5? The rook has nowhere good to go and the possible fork on e3 plays into White's hands, for example; 24.Qxf5 Rb4 25.Bc3 Ne3 26.Qxf8+ Qxf8 27.Rxf8+ Rxf8 28.Bxb4 White is up a piece. Black has a bit of play but nothing worth a piece!] 24...Qxe4 25.Qxe4 fxe4 26.Rce1 e3 27.Bd4 Re8 28.h3 Nf6 29.Bxf6 gxf6 30.Rf3 White went on to win with ease. 30...Bh6 31.Rxf6 Bg7 32.Rxd6 Bd4 33.Re6 Rd8 34.Rd1 Bc5 35.b4! Bxb4 36.Rxe3 Bc5 37.Re6 Kf7 38.Rf1+ Kg7 39.Rf5 a5 40.a4 Rb8 41.g4 Rd8 42.Rg5+ Kf7 43.Rf5+ Kg7 44.Kg2 Black Resigned. 1-0
On Board Three we have Mark Ginsburg for Arizona with the White pieces vs Yian Liou of San Francisco. It was an interesting line in the Sicilian Defense, the Maroczy Bind.
I like to play the Maroczy with White whenever I get the chance and I believe Mark played it well up to when he played the move 17.a5. I would refer Marck to Stuart Conquest Vs. Julian Hodgson, Douglas 2005 where 17. Rc1 was played. 29.Qg4 I have to give credit to Yian, he played the opening well. White overextended on the queenside and he sought one of the less typical breakthroughs with ...f5. Now he has two powerful central pawns that are crashing up the board into White's position. Mark decides to go for a positional Exchange Sacrifice, an idea that has my backing otherwise White risks the chance to be overrun. 29...e4 30.Rxe4 Bxe4 31.Qxe4 Mark gets a Bishop and pawn for the rook, a weak d-pawn to target, but in return he has only a slight chance of making his own c-pawn become a viable threat, unless of course Yian gets distracted. 31...Qf6 32.f3?! I was a bit doubtful of this move and thought that Bf4 was a better idea. Why? Well, the pawn on c5 might need protection at some point and in some lines the bishop may be able to do this in an active manner from d6. Also, if the bishop gets to d6 (and avoids the pin of the rook on c1) then this would cut communication off between the Black d-pawn and any rook on the back rank. Small things, yes, but in such positions the 'small things' can turn out big. The move that Mark played seemed to me to needlessly weaken the dark squares around the king. Not critically so, but a little may prove to be a lot. 32...Rfe8 33.Qg4 d3 34.Bc3 Qe7 35.Bxg7+ Kxg7 36.Qd4+ Qe5 37.Qxe5+ [I thought for sure Mark would try to set up a drawing position with 37.Qxd3!? Rxc5 38.f4 Qd5 39.Qxd5 Rxd5 40.Rc7+ Kh6 41.Kf2 Black is a bit better, that much is for sure, but White does have some drawing chances.] 37...Rxe5 38.Bxd3 Rexc5 39.Rxc5 Rxc5 I was hopeful that White would be able to build a fortress, but credit Yian for playing this ending with a high degree of skill. 40.Kf2 Kf6 41.g4 Rc3 42.Be4 h6 43.f4 g5 44.fxg5+ Kxg5 45.Bf3 Kf4
46.Ke2 I can understand Mark's thought process here; if he can ever get his king to g3 he will have built a fortress, but this is one thing that Yian will not let happen! [I do think that White can build the fortress with g3 right away. Let's take a look: 46.g3+ Kg5 47.Be2 Kf6 48.Bd1 Ke6 49.Ba4 Ke5 50.Bd1 Kf6 51.Kg2 Kg5 52.Bf3 and if Black ever checks on the 2nd rank with 52...Rc2+ then 53.Kh3 and the bishop moves along the h1-a8 diagonal forever. Now, when a 7-man endgame tablebase is created it may prove this to be a win for Black in some way, I just don't see how. I think White can draw this position.] 46...Rc2+ 47.Kf1 Rb2 48.Kg1 Kg3 The dog in me want's to bark out "The g3 square is mine! Mine!" 49.Kf1 Rb8 50.Ke1 Re8+ 51.Kf1 Re7 52.Be2 Rc7 53.Bf3 Rc2 54.Ke1 Rf2
Things look bad for White, the rook cuts the White king off from the queenside but all is not lost. White should simply move the bishop along the g2-a8 diagonal and he should be okay. As long as the king is on e1 or e2 Black cannot sac on g2 to win because White will get to the critical f1 drawing square to stop the Black h-pawn from advancing. 55.Kd1?? [55.Be4 Rxg2 Of course, Black should instead press on with ...Ra2 or ...Rb2 and play on hoping for an inaccuracy by White, but let's look at this to illustrate the drawing technique. 56.Bxg2 Kxg2 57.Ke2 Kg3 58.Kf1 Kxg4 59.Kg2 White draws with ease.] 55...Kf4! 56.Ke1 Ke3 57.Kd1 Ra2 58.Kc1 Kd3 59.Kb1 Ra6 60.Kb2 Rb6+ 61.Kc1 Rb4 62.Bd1 Rc4+ 63.Kb2 Kd2 64.Bf3 Rb4+ Of course there are areas where play could have been improved on a couple of moves but that doesn't matter. What matters is to construct the correct winning plan. What that will consist of is forcing the White king to the a-file, cut him off there with the rook and then get the king to either g3 or g5 and then sac the rook for the pawn on g4 when the White king is too far away to stop the advance of the Black h-pawn. 65.Ka3 Kc3 66.Ka2 Rb6 67.Bd5 Rb5 68.Bf3 Ra5+ 69.Kb1 Ra4 70.Bd1 Ra6 71.Be2 Re6 72.Bf3 Re3 73.Bd5 Re1+ 74.Ka2 Re5 75.Bf3 Rb5 76.Bc6 Rb6 77.Bf3 Kd4 after a lot of moving about the players had built up a reserve in time on the clock and Yian goes in for the final blow. 78.Bd1 Ke3 79.Ka3 Kf4 80.Ka2 Kg3 81.Bf3 Rb4
nothing can stop him now! 82.Ka3 Rxg4 White Resigned. There is no way to stop the eventual promotion of the h-pawn. [82...Rxg4 83.Kb3 h5 84.Kc3 Kf2 85.Kd3 (85.Kd2 Rg5 86.Kd3 h4 87.Bc6 Rxg2) 85...Rg3 86.Ke4 Rxf3 87.gxf3 h4 88.f4 h3 89.f5 h2 90.f6 h1Q+ Bazinga! Check! Winning for Black.] 0-1
Our final game, on Board 4, pitts Siddharth Banik of San Francisco with White take on Bryan Hu of Arizona. Last week Siddharth played a tremendous game with a wonderful conclusion. Would he be able to pull off two in a row?
This position arose out of a French defense. It seemed that Bryan squandered away too much time in the opnening and I only recently was informed that this was due to a glitch in the software. Bryan's use of time in this opening was that he was looking for some off-beat line to give his opponent a hard time. 18...Rhg8 But, it seems that now, when we join the action to this game, that Bryan's plan pays off and his opponent makes a mistake. He now has to play the immediate 19.d6 to stay in the game, even then there is some risk if Bryan plays it correctly. 19.Bg6?? [Best is 19.d6 Nxd4 20.Ne1=/+ (20.dxc7?? Nxf3+ 21.Kh1 Rh4#) 20...Rxg2+ 21.Nxg2 Bc6!! a hard move to find, and to play, and it is the only move to stay alive! (21...Qc6?? 22.Qxb7+ Qxb7 23.Rxb7 Nf3+ 24.Kh1 Kxb7 25.dxe7 Nxd2 26.Rd1 and surprisingly Black is totally busted! 26...c4(26...Nf3 27.Bh7 Re8 28.Rxd7+) 27.Bh7 Re8 28.Rxd2) 22.dxc7 (22.f3? Qxd6 23.Rf2 (23.Be4 Ne2+ 24.Kf2 Rxg2+ 25.Ke1 Ng3 We have reached material equality but White has no chance of surviving the strong coordination of the Black pieces.) 23...Nxf3+ 24.Kf1 Nxd2+ 25.Rxd2 Qg3! 26.Bg6 (26.c4 Bxg2+ 27.Rxg2 Qxd3+ 28.Kf2 Rxg2+ 29.Kxg2 Qe4+ 30.Kf2 Nf5 The b7 square is guarded, Black has three pawns and the knight for the rook. I would prefer Black here for sure, the Queen and Knight make a wonderful combination in attacking the enemy king, especially in a busted open position like this. Is the win guaranteed here? No, but it is as close as you can get without any guarantees!))] 19...Nxg6 20.d6 Qxd6 21.Qxb7+ Kd8 22.Qa8+ [There is no time for White to take on g6 22.hxg6 R8xg6 23.Ne1 Nxd4 24.f3 making luft (24.Be3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rh4# is the immediate threat) 24...Ne2+ 25.Kf2 Qxd2 26.fxg4 Nc3+ 27.Kg1 Qe3+ 28.Rf2 Nxb1 29.Qxb1 Kc7 White is a pawn down and every one of his remaining pawns are weak, Black should win this with relative ease.] 22...Bc8 23.dxc5 [23.hxg6?? is still not possible: 23...R8xg6 24.Kh1 (24.Ne1 Nxd4 is crushing)24...Qd5 25.Ba5+ Nxa5 26.Qxd5+ exd5 27.dxc5 Nc4 Black has snagged a piece for a pawn.]
23...Nge5? Brought on by bad time pressure. Had Bryan had more time I am sure he would have found the crushing 23...Qd5! Sadly, using this interface on chess.com won't let me give all the variations, but 23...Qd5 wins the game. 24.Ba5+ White is hanging in there making it a fight. [24.cxd6?? Nxf3+ 25.Kh1 Rh4#] 24...Nxa5?? Face Splat! [We, the commentators and viewers were expecting 24...Kd7 when it's not so clear how White can survive the pressure on the kingside. 25.Nxe5+ Qxe5 26.Rfd1+ Ke7 27.Qxc6 Rxg2+ 28.Qxg2 Rxg2+ 29.Kxg2 Bd7 Black has a Queen and Bishop, not an ideal pair vs two rooks and bishop, but ALL of White's pawns are weak and the queen is very mobile and will surely pick off one or five of them in short order. Of course Black cannot grab the pawn on c5 right now as Bb4 would pin and win the queen. Black, in my opinion, should have every reason to believe that a win is within grasp.] 25.cxd6 One bad move and Black is completely lost. 25...Rxg2+ 26.Kh1 Grasping defeat from the jaws of victory, Black resigned at this point. 1-0