Arizona Scorpions Sting the Blaze to take a Commanding Lead in the West!

Arizona Scorpions Sting the Blaze to take a Commanding Lead in the West!

Oct 14, 2010, 5:03 PM |


By NM Leo Martinez

Another exciting win by the Arizona Scorpions in Week 8!  The Scorpions beat the Chicago Blaze 2.5 – 1.5 on Monday to extend their lead in the West to a full point and a half. This also extends our record against the Blaze to 5-1 after Chicago beat us earlier in the year.  The game by game matchups can be seen below:

Arizona Scorpions     Chicago Blaze
IM Levon Altounian: 2496 1.0 0.0 GM Mesgen Amanov: 2508
IM Dionisio Aldama: 2399 1.0 0.0 IM Angelo Young: 2415
FM Robby Adamson: 2363 0.5 0.5 IM Arjun Visnuvardhan: 2318
John Gurczak: 2139 0.0 1.0 FM Gauri Shankar: 2304
Avg Rating: 2349     Avg Rating: 2386
Arizona Total ——- 2.5 1.5 ——- Chicago Total


Due to the fact that our top play, Rogelio Barcenilla, was sick we had to go with a slightly lower rated lineup for this important matchup. Both John Gurczak and Dionisio Aldama travelled down to Tucson to play for the team. Levon Altounian took the top board after having not played too much this year so far. With this win hopefully he can play some more games the rest of the year. Levon is now a very solid 2 out of 3 for the season with two draws and a win.

Dionisio has been very good in the USCL since he joined the team last year. He was 1.5 out of 2 last year and is now 3 out of 4 this year with strong wins against IM’s Angelo Young and Blas Lugo of Miami.  He usually plays fast and complicated and this game was no exception as we will see soon enough. Robby Adamson was playing on 3rd board and has been exceptional this season with 2.5 out of 3. With White there was a lot of pressure to win this game for Robby as high expectations follow success.  Finally John Gurczak played his 2nd match after drawing his first game to Miami’s FM Charles Galofre. John has played the two best board 4’s that Arizona has played all season and although he struggled both games he came through big in the first game against Galofre, making a draw and clinching the match for Arizona.

A couple interesting facts about this season for the Scorpions are that out of the first 8 weeks Arizona has used 8 different lineups!  Will they keep up this streak in Week 9?  Another interesting fact is that every player on the Scorpion team has won at least one game (except John Gurczak who played the top 2 board 4’s).

The Standings for the season so far are below:

WESTERN DIVISION W L Game Points  Opps Avg Rating      Opps Record
@ – Arizona 6.0 2.0 19.5/32 (61%)            2402    28.0 – 26.0 (52%)
Chicago 4.5 3.5 16.0/32 (50%)            2411    26.5 – 25.5 (51%)
St. Louis 4.5 3.5 15.5/32 (48%)            2411    30.0 – 22.0 (58%)
San Francisco 4.0 4.0 17.5/32 (55%)            2425    30.0 – 26.0 (54%)
Miami 4.0 4.0 16.0/32 (50%)            2415    26.0 – 28.0 (48%)
Dallas 3.5 4.5 15.5/32 (48%)            2403    25.0 – 29.0 (46%)
Seattle 3.0 5.0 15.5/32 (48%)            2394    26.0 – 28.0 (48%)
Los Angeles 3.0 5.0 13.5/32 (42%)            2410    28.0 – 28.0 (50%)


Well the schedule doesn’t get any easier as we face the red hot St. Louis Archbishops next week with the two best players in the league! However things are looking bright for the Scorpions as they have clinched a spot in the playoffs and are looking good to clinch the division title with a win in either of the next two weeks!

Okay on to the games!

(10) Altounian,Lev (2496) – Amanov,Mesgen (2508) [E57]

US Chess League AZ vs. Chicago, 11.10.2010

1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 dxc4 7.Bxc4 [Another line is 7.d5 Na5 8.Nf3 e6]

 7…e6 [If Black takes the pawn with 7...Nxd4 then White plays 8.Nf3! Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Qc7 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.0–0 is a very strong line for White who is way ahead in development only for one pawn.; 7...Qxd4 8.Qxd4 Nxd4 9.0–0–0 e5 (9...Ne6 10.Bxf6 exf6 11.Bb5+ Ke7 12.Nd5+ looks losing for Black10.f4 Bg4 11.Nf3 with a very complicated game where Black could get mated quickly -- but Black has an extra pawn so if he can survive maybe he'll be better.] 8.Nf3 Be7 9.0–0 0–0 10.a3 So now we reach an isolated Queen pawn position. White plays a3 because he wants to put his Queen on d3 and doesn’t want to deal with a …Nb4 move by Black. Eventually White also wants the option of playing a d5 push so …Nb4-Nd5 would take this away. [For example:  10.Re1 Nb4 11.Rc1 Nbd5 and now d5 by White is obviously impossible]10…b6 11.Qd3 Bb7 12.Rad1 Now White is threatening to either take on f6 and play d5 or to just play d5 immediately opening up the position for his pieces. 12…Nd5 13.Bxd5 Bxg5 14.Be4 f5 15.Nxg5 Qxg5 16.Bf3 Rac8 17.Rfe1 Rfd8

18.d5! this is the breakthrough that the isolated pawn always goes for. Now the position opens up for White’s rooks and White is slightly better placed than Black. 18…exd5 19.Bxd5+ Kh8 20.Qf3 There’s no real obvious threat here but the pressure against the c6 knight is obvious and White is hoping eventually that will pay off. 20…Qf6 21.h3 [21.Re6 Nd4 22.Rxf6 Nxf3+ 23.Bxf3 Rxd1+ 24.Nxd1 Bxf3 25.Rd6 Bxd1 26.Rxd1] 21…Ba8 22.Qf4 Re8 23.Nb5! After this move White is breaking through. White is threatening to play Nd6 forking the rooks but is also threatening Nf7+ followed by a discovery. 23…Rxe1+ 24.Rxe1 Ne7 25.Bxa8 Rxa8 26.Qd6 This wins a pawn but White had another option [26.Qc7 Ng6 27.b4 also looks good]26…Qxd6 27.Nxd6 Nc6 28.Nxf5 White has won a pawn and looks on the way to victory but there’s still a lot of action left. 28…g6 29.Re6 Na5 30.Nd6 Kg8 31.b4 Nb3 32.Re7 Nd4 33.Ne4 a5 34.Nf6+ Kf8 35.Rxh7 Now White’s up two pawns. Hard to believe Black could still have drawn this later in the game. 35…Ra6 36.Nd7+ Kg8 37.Nf6+ Kf8 38.Rd7 axb4 39.axb4 [Also winning was 39.Rxd4 but was completely unnecessary as it just complicates matters. It is better to just keep it simple when you are up in material like this. 39...bxa3 40.Rd1 b5 41.Nd7+ Kf7 42.Nc5 and White will win in the end.] 39…Ne2+ 40.Kh2 b5 41.Nd5 Ra2 42.Nc7 Nc3

43.h4? White hangs a pawn for no reason. [43.Rd3 Rc2 44.Rf3+ Kg8 45.h4+-; Even 43.f3 just saving the pawn was a pretty simple win. 43...Rb2 44.Rd4+-] 43…Rxf2 44.Rd3 Rc2 45.Nd5 Ne4 [Also possible was 45...Nxd5 46.Rxd5 Rc4 47.Rxb5 Rxh4+ 48.Kg3 Rc4 and this looks like a draw to me.] 46.Rf3+ Kg7 47.Re3 Rc4 48.Ra3 Rd4 49.Ra7+ Kh6 50.Ne7 Nf6 51.Ra6 Kg7[Much easier was 51...Rxh4+ 52.Kg3 Re4 53.Rxf6 Rxe7= and there is no more play in the position.] 52.Kh3

 Rxb4?? Hanging a piece. After this it is over. As they say “the last one not to blunder wins the game.” Couldn’t have been more true in this case. [52...Rd3+ 53.g3 Ne4 54.Kg4 (54.Rxg6+?? Kf7 is fine for Black.54...Nf6+ is a typical computer line that seems to draw.(54...Rxg3+ 55.Kf4wins for White.53.Rxf6 Rxh4+ 54.Kxh4 Kxf6 55.Nc6 Kg7 56.Kg5 Kh7 57.Kf6 Kh6 58.g4Black will have to give up the g-pawn and White will eventually queen his g-pawn. 1–0

(11) Young,Angelo (2415) – Aldama,Dionisio (2399) [D02]

US Chess League AZ vs. Chicago, 11.10.2010

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Qb3 c4 6.Qc2 Six moves into the game and the sides are both out of book. This probably made both players happy as they are both creative thinkers. 6…Nf6 7.Nbd2 Nh5! The idea of this move is to get the dark squared bishop so that Black will have the two bishops afterward. 8.Be5 Nc6 9.e4 Be7 10.Be2 Nxe5 11.Nxe5 Nf4!Forcing White to retreat the bishop as d3 is a sore spot for White as well.  12.Bf1 Ng6 13.Nxg6 hxg6 Although Black’s bishop on c8 is not great Black has traded off some pieces and seems to be doing fine here. 14.g3 Bd7 15.Bg2 Bc6 16.0–0 0–0 17.Rae1 Bf6 18.f4

dxe4!? This move is interesting. It gets rid of Black’s solid pawn formation but opens up the position for Black’s bishop. This is a move I would probably never play but this is why Dionisio is such an original player as he consistently plays moves that his opponents don’t think about. [Solid and boring is 18...Rfe8 ] 19.Nxc4 Qa6 20.Ne3 [Another option is 20.Nd2 e3 21.Rxe3 Bxg2 22.Kxg2 Qxa2 with still a lot of play left in the game.] 20…Rac8 21.Ra1 Bb5! Coming to d3. 22.Rfd1 Bd3 23.Qf2 b5 24.a3 Qa4 25.Ng4 Qb3 26.Qd2

a5! keeping control of the position [During the game people were talking about 26...Bxd4+!? 27.cxd4 Rc2 and here the game gets crazy after 28.Qe1 Qxb2 29.Bxe4 Re2 30.Bxd3 Rxe1+ 31.Rxe1 Qxd4+ 32.Nf2 and I kind of like White here but to be honest this position is very unclear.] 27.Nf2

e3! This is the star move of the game and is just Dionisio’s style. Black takes advantage of the fact that the Queen on d2 is overworked and ruins White’s pawn structure from b2 onward. After b2 falls all the other pawns on the queenside will be weak. 28.Qxe3 Bc2 The point. Black tempos the rook and afterward wins the b2 pawn. 29.Rdc1 Qxb2 30.Ng4 [30.Qd2? doesn't work after 30...Qxc3 and d4 falls next.] 30…Be7? This was unnecessary as Black could just win the rest of the pawns on the queenside without worrying about losing the bishop. [30...Rxc3 31.Nxf6+ gxf6 32.Qd2 Rfc8–+] 31.Qf2 Rxc3 32.Ne3 Rfc8 33.Be4? After this the game is over and Black wins tactically. [33.Nd1! Qb3 34.Nxc3 Rxc3 35.Qd2 Bxa3 36.Rxa3 Qxa3 37.Rxc2 Rxc2 38.Qxc2 Qa1+ 39.Kf2 Qxd4+ 40.Ke2 and I think Black should be winning here but again this is not completely clear.] 33…Bf6!–+ 34.Nd1 [34.Nxc2 Rxc2 35.Rxc2 Rxc2 36.Qxc2 Qxa1+ 37.Kg2 Qxd4–+] 34…Bxd4! 35.Nxb2 Bxf2+ 36.Kxf2 Bxe4 37.Rxc3 Rxc3 38.Nd1 Rf3+ 39.Ke2 Rb3 40.Kd2 f5 41.Nc3 Kf7 42.Nxe4 fxe4 43.Kc2 a4 44.Re1 e3 45.g4 Rxa3 46.Rd1 Ke7 47.Rd4 Ra2+ 48.Kc3 Rxh2 49.Re4 e2 50.f5 gxf5 51.gxf5 e5 52.Rxe5+ Kf6 53.Re8 Kxf5 54.Kd2 b4 55.Rf8+ Ke5 56.Ke1 a3 57.Re8+ Kd5 58.Rd8+ Kc6 59.Ra8 a2 60.Ra6+ Kb5 61.Rxa2 Rh1+ 62.Kxe2 Rh2+ 0–1

(12) Adamson,Robby (2363) – Vishnuvardhan,Arjun (2318) [B70]

US Chess League AZ vs. Chicago, 11.10.2010

This game ended up being the last game to finish and the decider for the whole match. It was an exciting game that went up and down from better for white to close to winning to slightly better for black to winning for black and finally drawn. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 g6 transposing to a sort of Najdorf-Dragon Hybrid.  7.0–0 Bg7 8.a4 Nc6 9.Nb3 Be6 [The most played move here is 9...0–0 ] 10.Bg5 0–0 11.f4

Bxb3!? Not the most common move but it has been played before. The idea is to target the b3 pawn immediately due to the …Qb6 move being a check. [More common is 11...Na5 12.Nxa5 Qxa5 13.Kh1 Rac8 14.Bd3 was and Anand-Topalov game from Linares 1994 that Topalov ended up winning.; and 11...Rc8 can transpose to 11...Na5 after 12.Kh1 Na5 13.Nxa5 Qxa5 14.Bd3]12.cxb3 Qb6+ This was the idea. Black gets a check in and now can play …Na5 and White needs time to react to defend his b3-pawn. 13.Kh1 Na5 14.Ra3 The only way to defend the pawn. The rook looks very awkward here but eventually he comes back into play. 14…Rfd8 15.Bf3 [A move that looks really natural to me is 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nd5 Qd4 and now White can play 17.Nxe7+! Kg7 18.Qxd4 Bxd4 19.b4 Bxb2 20.Ra2 Bf6 21.Nd5 looks atleast slightly better for White.] 15…Nc6 16.a5! Gaining some space as the pawn is taboo 16…Qc5 [If 16...Nxa5?? then White can win with 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Nd5 Qc5 19.b4 winning a piece] 17.Ra4

 d5?! I don’t think this move is completely necessary but it makes the game much more double edged and complicated. All of a sudden the game opens up and there are many more options of counterplay for both sides. [A calmer option is 17...Rac8 and Black is fine here.] 18.exd5 Nb4 19.Bxf6 exf6 The only move but good enough for Black to stay in the game [Losing is 19...Bxf6?? 20.Ne4 Qb5 21.Be2! Qxd5 and now White can win with 22.Nxf6+ exf6 23.Rxb4 winning a piece] 20.f5 This looks really natural as it stops the Black bishop on g7 from getting in the game. However, now I’m not sure if it is best. [I thought while I was watching the game that 20.Ne4! wasn't right but in actuality I think it's the best move now 20...Qf8 (Losing is20...Qb5 21.Be2 Qxd5 22.Rxb4 and White's up a piece.21.d6 Robby said he was afraid he wouldn't be able to win the opposite colored bishop endgame after 21...f5! (21...Nc6 22.f5 gxf5 23.Ng3 Rxd6 (23...Qxd6? 24.Qxd6 Rxd6 25.Nxf5) 24.Qb1 and with Nxf5 coming White is much better.) 22.Rxb4 fxe4 23.Bxe4 Bxb2 24.Qf3 but I think White should be winning this with threats of Rb7, Bd5 and f5 coming.] 20…gxf5 21.Qb1 Re8 22.Qxf5 Re5 23.Qf4 During the game I thought Qg4 was best as it uses the whole board — the pin on the bishop on g7 and attacks the b4 knight at the same time. It also leaves option the option of maybe playing Qd7 at some stage. [Best is 23.Qg4! Nd3 24.Ne4!; 23.Qd7 Nd3 is not completely clear.] 23…Nd3

24.Qd2? This is not the best and gives Black some options to stay in the game. [Best is 24.Qd4! this was originally Robby's idea he said. 24...Qxd4 25.Rxd4 Nxb2 26.d6 looks close to winning for White with the knight jumping to d5, the strong passed d-pawn, and the strong bishop on f3.] 24…Qe3? Both players missed Black’s best move here. [Black missed the strong move 24...Nf2+! which Rybka of course finds immediately. After this Black draws comfortably. 25.Kg1 (25.Rxf2 Bh6! 26.Qd1 Qxf2 27.Ne4 Qxb2) 25...Nd3+ 26.Kh1 Nf2+ 27.Kg1 Nd3+=]25.Qxe3 Rxe3 26.Nd1? Trying to take time to defend the b-pawn but this is definetly not best. [Best is 26.Re4! the idea of this move is that it saves the b2 pawn and leaves White a pawn up with a passed d-pawn and Black has doubled f-pawns. With all those pluses White has to be winning. 26...Rxe4 27.Bxe4 Nc5 (27...Nxb2 28.Bf5! followed by Rb1 winning the knight.)28.Bc2+- followed by b4 and Rd1 and Black has no counterplay. Even ...f5 opening the bishop is stopped by the bishop on c2 and the rook on f1.] 26…Re7 27.Rd4 Nc5 28.b4 f5! The bishop on g7 becomes a monster. Here’s where the tables turn for White and Black starts pushing back. 29.Rf4 [During the game I was thinking of 29.bxc5!? Bxd4 30.d6 Rd7 31.b4 with definite compensation for the one pawn deficit. I'm not sure if it is enough to win in this position but I rather like White's position. However, with one minute left on both sides it makes sense not to take huge risks in a team competition so Robby's decision is understandable.] 29…Nd3 30.Rxf5 Nxb4 31.Bh5 Rf8 32.b3 Nc2 33.h3 Nd4 34.Rg5 Nxb3 35.d6 Re5 36.Rgf5 Rxf5 37.Rxf5 Bh6 38.d7! Nd4 39.Rxf7 Nc6 And now here in this posotion White is up a pawn but the position is deceptive. The a5 pawn is going to fall while Black can gang up on the d7 pawn as it seems that it will nto queen after all. After Black wins both of these pawns he will be up a pawn and have two connected passers on the queenside giving him very good winning chances. 40.Rf3 Bd2 41.Rd3 [41.Rg3+ Kh8 42.Rd3 is slightly more accurate] 41…Bxa5 42.Bf3 Ne5 43.Ra3?! [43.Rb3! b5 44.Ra3 Bb6 45.Rxa6 Nxd7 looks about equal and would've been easier than the game] 43…Nxf3 44.Rxa5 Nd4 45.Ne3 Kf7 and here comes the black king to munch on the d7 pawn. 46.Rh5 Kg6 47.Rd5 Nc6 48.Rd6+ Kf7 49.Nf5 Rd8 50.Nh6+ Kf8 51.g4 Ne5 52.Rd5 Nxd7 53.Rd6 a5 54.Rd5 b6 55.Nf5 Ke8 56.Nd6+ Ke7 57.Nf5+ Ke6 58.Rd4 b5 59.Rd3 b4 Black is winning here. Here the match was 2–1 in favor of Arizona so Robby needed to draw to win the match. 60.Rd6+ Ke5 61.Ra6 Rb8 62.Rxa5+ Ke4 63.Ra7 Nc5 [Worse would've been the obvious 63...b3 64.Rxd7 b2 65.Rd1 b1Q 66.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 67.Kg2 Kf4 and although Black can push for the win White will draw here.] 64.Re7+ Kd3 [Another option was 64...Kf4 ] 65.Re3+ Kd2 66.Re5 Nd3 67.Re7 b3 68.Ne3 Rb4 [Easier was 68...Rc8! 69.Nf1+ (69.Rb7 b2 70.Nf1+ Ke1) 69...Kc1 and there are no more checks so Black will simply play ...b2-b1Q winning.] 69.Nf1+ Kd1 [69...Kc1 70.Rc7+ Kd1 71.Ne3+ Kd2 72.Nf1+ Ke2 was also winning.] 70.Ne3+ Kc1 71.Rd7 Kd2 72.Nf1+ Ke2 73.Ng3+ Kd2 [73...Kf2 is the winner here.] 74.Nf1+ Ke2 75.Ng3+ Kd2 76.Nf1+

and the game was a draw by perpetual check in a winning position for Black![76.Nf1+ Ke2 77.Ng3+ Kf2! the move that Black didn't play. 78.Rxd3 b2 79.Ne4+ (79.Rd1 Kxg3 wins easily80.Rb1 Rc4) 79...Rxe4 80.Rd2+ Re2 and Black wins easily.]  ½–½

(13) Shankar,Gauri (2304) – Gurczak,John (2139) [B30]

US Chess League AZ vs. Chicago, 11.10.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 e5 4.Bc4 d6 [The most common move here is 4...Be7 to stop Ng5 which occurs if Black plays ...Nf6 too early. This also keeps the option open of later trading off this bishop (this is Black's bad bishop) with ...Bg5 if the knight on f3 ever moves.  5.d3 d6 6.Nd2 with the idea of re-routing the knight with Nd2-f1–e3-d5. 6...Bg5! 7.h4 Bxd2+ 8.Bxd2 Nf6 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.Ne3 is Kasparov - Leko, Linares 2004 which ended in a draw.]5.d3 Nd4? This is definetly not best and leaves White ahead in development. Black was already behind in development and needs to catch up quickly. [5...Be7 transposing to the previous Kasparov-Leko game was best here.] 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Nd5 The problem here is that now Black has trouble developing his Kingside as moves like …Ne7, …Nf6 and ..Be7 now all get hit by the knight and as happened in the game the move Bg5 is always in the air for White. 7…Be6 8.0–0 Ne7 9.Bg5

9…Bxd5 10.Bxe7 Bxe7 11.Bxd5 and here White is atleast slightly better as his bishop is much better than Blacks and he has all the options to break open the position with f4 and c3.11…Qc7? This is a big mistake as it begs White to play c3 here. White’s next move anyway would’ve been this move but it allows White to play Rc1 and taking control of the c-file. [Better was 11...Qd7 12.c3 and now White can't take control of the c-file (or get that nasty check on a4) anymore. 12...dxc3 13.bxc3 0–0 14.Rb1 Rab8 and Black is passive but there is still a lot of play left in the position.] 12.c3! dxc3 13.Qa4+! Kf8 [If 13...Qd7 then White gets 14.Bxf7+]14.Rac1! taking control of the c-file. Unfortunately Black’s pieces are not the best so it is hard for him to reorganize his pieces to work well together.  14…Bd8 15.Rxc3 Qe7

16.f4 This is good enough but White was just winning here. [16.Rb3! followed by taking on b7 would've have been lights out immediately. Because if 16...Bb6 simply 17.Rxb6 ] 16…Bb6+ 17.Kh1 exf4 18.Rxf4 f6 19.d4 g5 20.Rf1 This is good enough. White has so much pressure in this position there was no need to change the dynamic in the position. [The other option was 20.Rxf6+ Qxf6 21.Rf3 Qxf3 22.gxf3 Ke7 and White should be winning here but the game continuation was better and easier.] 20…Kg7 21.Qb4 Rhf8 22.a4 Rac8 23.a5 Rxc3 24.bxc3 Bd8 25.Rf5! The b7 pawn isn’t going anywhere so White take the time to stop all Black’s counterplay. 25…b6 26.a6 Qd7 27.Qc4 Be7 28.Be6 Qe8 29.Qc7 Kh8 30.Qxa7 Qa4 31.Rf1 Bd8 32.Qb7 b5 33.a7 1–0