Inglorious Blunders ( at the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial)

Dec 5, 2009, 3:38 PM |

Tourney report:

 I like the Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial held every Fall in Massachusetts as it’s a recognized Heritage event and has been held annually for over 25 years! It’s a Grand Prix event as well but since I am not a master, that has little importance for me ( this year). The format has changed over the years. This year, it was kept to a 1 day event with four rounds of a G60’s. This meant some serious yet fast action was about to happen on this Sunday following our American Thanksgiving.

We were blessed with team members from the famous Boston Blitz featuring, GM Eugene Perelshteyn and IM’s David Vigorito who tied for first place in the open section. FM Dennis Shmelov and Ilya Krasik, also Boston Blitz players, tied for 3rd and 4th place.

There were four sections for a modest turn out of 53 players in all three sections. I played in the Under 1900 section below is my round for round account of my games.

Round one loss to a Class A player:

I played the back side to an English opening that was more like a Reti when I responded 1…c6. I should have known better as I studied Reti in the New York 1924 series. I might have faired better had I played a line with Bf5 which Lasker used regularly to avoid the cramped complications I fell into. I really need to work on the transpositions. Two major issues came up in this came. The first, looking at the position below on Black’s move 10.

I wanted to advance c5 and keep the bishop as it was my only one “out of the gate”. But I ended up with a dumb position hemming in that bishop altogether. The chess engine suggests moving the knight to f8 as this will be handy later. I think even better is to exchange on d2. Where Black’s game is cramped and I want to lock the pawns on dark squares, having a pair of knights will be better. Plus White’s dark squared Bishop gets hemmed in now.

The second issue was a bad plan to remove White’s light squared bishop. A couple moves later, I created a battery with a queen and Bishop on the c8-h3 diagonal and went after White’s Bg2. Somewhere I had a notion that getting rid of the bishop would weaken White’s king position. True, in some cases with finachetto’s this is a good plan. The exception I overlooked was that it traded Black’s Active Bishop for White’s more passive one.

Round 2 win against a Class A player:

I played the White side against a Nimzo-Indian defense. I had been studying the Rubinstein variation since my New York 1924 studies and liked the games in Zurich 1953 with Taimanov playing some interesting ideas against Averbahk. Now my problem is that I play 6Nge2 in the more traditional sense of the Rubenstein meant to keep the q-side pawns from being messed up. The idea is to follow-up with f3 and e3-e4 especially once Black exchanges the bishop. By Zurich 1953, that line was replaced with a more aggressive 6Nf3 made popular after New york 1924 and became the main line. The idea is to allow the double c-pawn and get the bishops on both diagonals ( a1-h8 and b2-h7) in preparation for opening the center. I didn’t do that… was happy to settle with remember to play the bishop to D3 first and then said Nge2 must come next.

Regardless of this, I did manage a playable middle game as I had the opportunity to test Black’s ability to play an IQP. I sort of know how to attack and/or defend such a position. I recall my lessons’ Jorge Sammour-Hasbun in telling me the fundamental is that the endgame is more favorable for the player who doesn’t own the IQP. Exchanges then become favorable and the owner should avoid it. Black didn’t do much to prevent this in the game.

Blocking the square in front of the IQP also keeps it from advancing and getting traded to equalize or worse… become a decoy as a king side attack forms. The defender will place the rooks on both adjacent files ( as did my opponent in the game and I got my knight in front of the pawn. He missed a knight forking tactic on the other weakness on d6.

Round 3 win ( I should have lost) against a Class C player

You know, I was feeling pretty damn cocky. Round one wasn’t a total loss and I just beat a class A player. When this opponent played an Advanced variation, I decided on the spot to try something I had never tried before and played 3..c5. I read through this variation back in a day ( never played it)…but felt I could “think through this” OTB. By move 11 I was humbled with a Greek gift on h7:

Sucker punched, I hobbled my king in the corner for a few moves, desperately pulling in reinforcements in when I could. Then I had a chance 11 moves later and played this:

I got damn lucky. Note to self, don’t pick a tournament to “explore” a new line I was meaning to look into when I got a round to it.

Round 4 victory against a Class A player ( cinching the Class prize):

My opponent’s third round game was the last to finish and he ended up losing in a time scramble when he thought he had set his clock to correctly allow the 5 second delay. He was rattled as he challenged my 1d4 witrh 1..c5. “Crap, a Benoni”, I thought. This time, because of my training positions, I made sure I had some from previous “lessons” and managed to survive the opening without any traps. It did give Black a slight advantage in piece mobility. I decided to handle the game as a hypermodern positioning my bishops as Black expanded in the center with pawns. Black’s d-pawn became backward and I was given a chance to exchange pieces and win the pawn.

In turn Black had the bishop pair in an open position giving me a pawn advantage if I made it to the end game. To my surprise, Black exchanges one of his bishops for my knight on b5. This gave me more mobility and then he totally hung a piece. He clearly was still rattled from the previous match.

I finished with 3 points to clear the under 1750 class prize and did a happy dance with my BIG money winnings of $75.

Lessons I learned:
1) Learn your openings enough to get to a middle game you can play.
2) Recognizing and being comfortable with certain middle game themes like IQP and minority attacks can be beneficial if I come out of the opening a little less than equal.
3) Don’t try anything new.