Future Chess Champions
The last month was rich for chess tournaments, so I cannot blame you if you missed the U.S. Junior Girls Championship. Meanwhile, I suspect that you'll hear a lot in the future about some of the girls who played there.
If you ask me why I think that some of the participants of this tournament will dominate the U.S. and probably world chess in five to 10 years, I can give you many reasons. But if you read this past article, then you'll know the answer.
Just look at the crosstable: the winner Ashritha Eswaran and the runner-up Annie Wang both had just one draw out of nine games! Two participants, Carissa Yip and Jennifer Yu, didn't have any draws at all!
Of course all the participants are very young ( I think the average age of the girls was around 13 years old), and they still make mistakes, but nevertheless they have the chess style of future champions!
Today I would like to offer for your consideration a game played by two of the youngest participants. I am sure you can learn a lot from their great moves (the girls are masters!) as well as from their mistakes.
The first very interesting moment of the game is shown on the diagram below. It is Black to move: what would you play?
This is a truly amazing decision by Carissa Yip!
She could've played a simple move 22...Qb7, which would lead to an approximately even position, and instead, completely out of blue, she sacrificed an exchange! As a reward, just four moves later she already had a winning position!
For some reason, Carissa's bold sacrifice reminds me of the following crazy game by Mikhail Tal.
The magician from Riga never annotated the game himself, so don't turn on your chess engine because it will only confuse you. Just play through the game and enjoy the insane creativity of Mikhail Tal!
Let's get back to the girls' game. We left when Black got a completely winning position. How would you wrap up the game?
Even though the variation that leads to a clear win is very simple, Black missed it. Of course she could be in time trouble, but more probably, it is the case of a mistake typical for many young players.
When their attack brings the dividends (the decisive material advantage) and you just need to make a couple of accurate moves that consolidate the position, the youngsters keep playing for an attack, further complicating the position -- which increases the probability of a mistake.
This is exactly what happened in this game. After numerous mutual mistakes (now I really believe that both opponents were in time trouble!), it was White who had a forced win in the next position:
Instead, according to the official score, the game ended like this:
Either the official score is incorrect or (more probable) White simply lost on time, since her position is still pretty much winning.
I hope this very interesting and instructive game of two young and very strong ladies will help you in your chess improvement.
The main two lessons:
- When you sacrifice some material out of the blue, just to grab the initiative, in most of the cases the effect of such a sacrifice will be magnified by your opponent's confusion due to such a sudden change in the path of the game! By the way, this is how Mikhail Tal became the world champion!
- If you have won a lot of material already and have a winning position, in most cases you don't need to complicate the position anymore. You should just consolidate the situation and safely convert the decisive material advantage into a win!