FM Elliott Liu Recaps the Scorpion-Destiny Match!

Oct 4, 2009, 1:07 PM |

Yo yo ELiu’s back in action, recapping Week 5’s ridiculous draw between Arizona and Dallas.

*The USCL should institute instant replay, just saying…you’ll see why in a bit.*

Normally the phrase “exciting draw” is an oxymoron (well, it probably is).  “Exciting draw” is like a book reviewer’s commentary summarizing the Narcolepsy-inducing Vladimir “Did I Just Take Nyquil?” Kramnik: My Greatest Games.  For example, [Kramnik writes on game 59]: “And here, on move 84, with 2 kings left on the board, I offered a draw!  This game was a brilliancy!”  Or, [Kramnik writes]: “In this game I employed the Petroff for the 5000th time and offered my opponent a draw after 2…Nf6.  He accepted after calculating 40 moves deep and saw no foreseeable progress.”  The same goes for Edmar Mednis…or Levon Altounian sans the “exciting” prefix.  Speaking of Levon—Arizona, you needed a draw this week on board 2.  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??  Even Bercys wouldn’t be able to…ok never mind.

Anyway, this battle was actually exciting this week, mainly because all four games were interesting and decisive—obviously because Levon wasn’t playing and because Bart clicked the resign button a move too early.  As a result, plenty of blood was shed and the tense match ended in a 2-2 tie (another contradiction?), with the result hanging in the balance up to the last second.  To change things up a little bit, I will recap each game in the order that they finished (interestingly, the games finished linearly from fourth board first to first board last hehe).

WFM Bayaraa Zorigt vs. David “I don’t have a nickname for you yet because you’re too young” Adelberg

David should be very proud of this game, enough said.  Very well played.  Systematically exploited Zorigt’s inaccuracies in a sharp (and weird) Najdorf with thematic play and sacrifices.  (And yes, for some reason I have decided to write in fragments because I am too lazy).  In these types of positions, moves that aren’t precise (like Zorigt’s in this game) are suicidal.  The opposing attack comes too fast.  This game was kind of like the Colts-Cardinals Sunday night game where some Quarterback picked apart the hapless Arizona defense.  Oh wait, here we go, David “Manning” Adelberg.  Even though I despise Peyton Manning (Eli’s even worse) as a diehard Charger’s fan, I still like the nickname (it actually could be a legitimate middle name) in this case.  From the typical rook exchange sacrifice on move 15 onwards, David’s play was impressive and straightforward, and he wrapped up the game nicely.  Zorigt certainly could have put up more resistance as moves 18, 21, and 23 were all critical mistakes, but even with finding the absolute best moves, David’s pressure would most likely have given him the full point in the end anyway.

FM Robby “Aaauuuhhh, BRRRENDAA!  It’s Not Printing Right!” Adamson vs. Keaton Kiewra

Things that could happen as I am writing this recap: 1.) Robby calls Elliott and commences a 15-minute, profanity-laced venting.  2.) The building where the Scorpions play either has a broken door, window, or both now.  3.) “!@#$” is screamed and yelled in the parking lot approximately 40 times.  4.) Robby gets a ticket for going 85 in a 30 mph zone.  Still cursing to Elliott, the cop busts him for talking on the phone while driving, too.  5.) Robby shows the cop his bleeding hand and says the reason why he was going so fast was because he was trying to get to the ER ASAP.  6.) Asked why his hand is so mangled, the honest attorney replies that he lost a game of chess—priceless.  7.) Robby quits chess…only to log on to ICC 4 hours later and play 1-minute for 7 hours straight.  8.) The sun continues to rise in the East and the Earth’s axis and overall orbit are realigned.

Trust me, when I saw Robby was going to lose, I was mentally preparing myself for the Apocalypse: kind of like how Vaden Health Center at Stanford is preparing itself for the inevitable massive outbreak of swine flu (I cannot wait for that freakin vaccine!); how Danny Rensch is preparing himself for Steve Nash to retire, only to pull a Brett Favre, unretire, and play for the Lakers; and/or how we Californians are preparing ourselves for the next big earthquake (any day now, just get it over with Mr. San Andreas when I’m on a plane please).

There’s really not much to say about this game.  The opening was the mainline Dragon…until Robby decided to employ the “I think I’m Levon Altounian” variation with 12.Nd5 (it’s actually a good line, which I’ve played once or twice before too).  The only problem with this choice is Robby Adamson does not = Levon Altounian.  It’s THE DRAGON Robby!  Go for his jugular!  Are you getting old or something?  I think Keaton’s 14…Nd7 is actually an inaccuracy in that position.  14…a6 and 14…Qd7 are much more common there.  I didn’t particularly care for Robby’s 18.gxh5 either.  The capture may be too premature.  Why not leave the tension with something like 18.Bh3!?  The game was more or less equal until Robby forgot what a “pin” was on move 23.  He understandably will hate me for pointing out the obvious, but that’s my job.  23.Rxe7 was much better than 23.Qc7.  It wins a pawn, and although White is certainly not “won” by any means, he has a comfortable advantage and has all the winning chances in the endgame after 23…Qxc3 24.bxc3, but I know it’s not easy or anything.  After 23.Qc7 however, the edge began to shift to Black and after Keaton’s 24…Rae8, Robby had to either play 25.Qxf6+ or 25.Qxe8 getting 2 rooks for the queen, but certainly not 25.Qc7 allowing what happened in the game or even 25…Nxd5.  After 27.Rxh8, 27…Qxc3 has to be considered as a potential alternative to 27…Rxe1+.  After the rooks came off, although Black has all the play and the position is indeed tough for White, he might be able to hold as long as the queens stay on the board!  That did not happen, and it was only a matter of time before Black’s superior king position, good knight vs. bad bishop, and outside pawn majority of 2 vs. 1 (instead of Black’s 3 pawns holding White’s 4 at bay) became decisive.  Not to mention the “Blitzmaster” was very low on time too.

IM Salvijus “Okay Fine, I’ll Admit I’m Russian” Bercys vs. IM Soon to be GM Rogelio “Oh Levon Where Art Thou?” Barcenilla

This game should have ended well before it did.  Sal was probably inspired by not having to face Levon as Bercys played a very nice game.  The game began with a relatively normal King’s Indian-Benoni hybrid up until move 11.  After 11.0-0, Barcenilla played 11…Bg7? directly following his 10…Bh6.  Ok…strange…free move please?  11…Bxe3 12.fxe3 and then either 12…Nbd7 or 12…Qe7 is of course the natural way of continuing, which has occurred many times in the database.  As a frequent King’s Indian Defense player myself, I can understand why Barcenilla was reluctant to trade dark-squared bishops (because a King’s Indian g7 bishop is worth like a queen), but at the cost of a full tempo?  Seems a bit questionable to me, and this loss of time hurt Black dearly as he could never really recover.  On move 14, instead of Ng5, one interesting idea I had was something like 14.Rae1 first followed by Qg5 and somehow checkmate (it’ll happen, I have faith).  This game was weird to watch as it seemed like one bad move (11…Bg7) cost Barcenilla the entire point.  Before move 20, Black was already in dire straits. 


On move 24, Sal could have ended the game a lot faster with the more accurate 24.Qg5! first before fxg6 (Berycs played 24.fxg6 first).  The point being that after a move like the game’s 24…Nhg7, White can now play 25.Qe7!  If 25…Bxf5, White wins with simply 26.Bxf5 gxf5 27.Bxg7, and if 27…Nxg7 then 28.Ng5 leads to a forced mate, and if 27…Kxg7 then 28.Qxe8 d3 29.Qe1 and White wins.  Or, if 25…Qc7 then 26.Bxg7! wins.  If 26…Nxg7 then 27.Ng5 once again or if 26…Kxg7 then 27.f6+! is possible.  Now if 27…Nxf6 then 28.Ng5 wins, and if 27…Kg8 then 28.b3!!! leads to an amazingly sexy zugzwang.  THAT’S HOT!  Now with no Ba4 defense, Black’s pieces literally cannot move anywhere, and 29.Ng5 is threatened.  If 28…h6 then 29.Bxg6 wins.  If this variation played out, the game would have definitely been considered for game of the week honors in my fair opinion.  At any rate, Sal’s 24.fxg6 was good enough too.  The d4 pawn fell, and after some maneuvering by White with Barcenilla’s flag hanging, Black finally blundered in a losing position allowing Bercys to win instantly.  Oh Levon, where art thou??


 GM Alejandro “Amanda, Will You Please Leave The Room (For Good)!” Ramirez vs. IM John “Trigger Happy” Bartholomew

SIGH…well, you all probably know what happened by now, but in case you missed it…

[red flag tossed on field]: “Upon further video review, the ruling on the field…”  If only J-Boy had instant replay.

The entire match result came down to this game.  Dallas was leading 2-1 at the time.  The game opened with a Slav that eventually transformed in to a Catalan-like position.  Alejandro played the rare 10.e4.  10. Ne5 (Alekseev) and 10. b3 have been played much more commonly.  John then played a novelty (whether he knew it or not) with 10…a5 (10…Rc8 was played by GM Stuart Conquest), and then nothing really happened for awhile as the position was pretty dry.  Black was happy with the result of the opening, and White had achieved a slight, nagging edge, if even that.  Bart found a nice move with 23…Nd5, which was pretty annoying, but then followed it up incorrectly with 24…Bb4?! allowing Handi to seize the initiative for the remainder of the game.  Instead, 24…Nb4 would have maintained relative equality.

For the most part, both players remained more or less even on the clock, but as the position became critical, John began to falter a little with some missteps.  The major one that gave Black serious problems was 28…Nf6? allowing the pesky Costa Rican to hop in to holes on the queenside, achieving a nasty bind on the overall position. 

To his credit, Bart came up with a very interesting and creative defensive resource when he played 30…Ncd5!?.   At first glance, as many ICC kibitzers obnoxiously yapped, this move looks like suicide, but losing the knight and bishop for the rook really wasn’t that bad at all.  For one, Black succeeded in relieving the immense pressure on his position by getting rid of some pieces (otherwise, he might have imploded).  This led to a weird ending, where time pressure (in my opinion) ultimately prevented John from finding the most precise defensive setup—one which would have been hard for Handi to crack and convincingly breakthrough (due to his own time constraints).  Before I continue, I would like to point out a sexy variation that could have taken place had Amanda not distracted Alejandro.

Instead of pre-move 32.Rb1 (which is automatic), 32.dxc6!! was possible.  The idea is that after a move like 32…Bg6, White then has 33.Nxe6!! threatening 34.c7!  So, 33.Nxe6 bxc6 34.Nxd8 Qxb6 35.Nxc6 Rxa4 leaves White a clear pawn up (and I guess one could say a technically winning position!?).  Is this a “clear” win?  Is this better for Ramirez than what transpired during the game?  Who knows, it’s up for debate, but it’s a sexy variation at least worth mentioning.

Nothing really happened for 20 moves or so.  Both players got low on time—Handi was trying to put the game away and Bart was trying to hold on for dear life as he was below 1 minute or so for many moves.  John’s main mistake that [should have] lost him the game was allowing Alejandro’s rook to sit pretty on the 7th rank.  With Black’s rook on a7 White still had plenty of work to do.

AND NOW, for the legendary stuff.  After 58…Kf8, here’s what both players were thinking:

Handi: “Man, hurry up and resign already, I want to go outside to be with Amanda.  59.Rf7+ Ke8 60.Bb5 curtains.”

John: “Man, hurry up and make me resign already, I’m so bummed we’re gonna draw the match now.”

*Amanda enters the room*

59.Rf7+?  [I should mention here that 59.d5! knocks Black out because the same variation as below can take place except that now White’s king has room.  Game over]


60.Bb5 1-0 right??  Right??

Handi: *rolls his eyes with boredom*

John: “Thank you, good game Handi.  I mean if Ginsburg AND Lenderman AND every stupid ICC kibitzer are all telling me to resign, I probably should.  *Click*”


NOOO!!!  Now now, don’t conform to peer pressure.

[*Elliott throws the red challenge flag on to the field*]

60…Ra3+ actually DRAWS BY PERPETUAL!!!  The king can’t get out, and if the bishop ever retreats to block, then the c-Rook comes down to party.