A Fish by any other Name


(Beat Reporter: Mark LaRocca)

A wise man once said... “Life is a long lesson in humility”. Of course, this same wise man also said that “Crowded elevators smell differently to midgets.” Now, I don’t know which of these “wise” sayings apply more to Boston’s (4 – 0) Wednesday night massacre of the Miami Sharks, but I do know this… Nah! Nah!... Nah! Nah! Nah!... Blitz won… thhhaaa Blitz won!

You expected some gentlemanly consoling platitudes… really?

I was well on my way to (4 – 0) myself… in predictions, that is… Jorge won… then Ilya won… then Kazim won, damn it! I had predicted a draw. And then, to add insult to injury, NM Michael (Misha) Vilenchuk, Boston’s latest new player, decides to win (I had predicted a draw) and spoil my whole night. No respect… I tell ya!... No respect at all!

What a night! The team was on time, only to find that their room had been usurped by a bunch of Harvard college kids who wanted to meet… something about finding jobs… or life goals… or some such nonsense. You’d think they didn’t hand out any homework at this “prestigious” institute… God! So, the Blitz… one of the original USCL members… was relegated to the Basement auditorium? With no tables? And no chairs? And no “I’m sorry for the inconvenience Sir”?

Well, they did give us free coffee and all the cookies we could eat. So, it was easy for me to forgive them. But, by the time we got set up, each team member received a slight time penalty… Thank you to Miami and tournament director Chris Bird. They could have been much harsher on us.

Anyway, Jorge started the Blitz off on the right foot… with just a masterpiece of a game. I challenge the readers to play through the three games that USCL judges chose for Game of The Week (GOTW) consideration… and then play through our featured game… How they missed this beauty is beyond me… a classic exchange Ruy in fine style. Take a look at our game of the day (GOTD).

SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) - Board 1

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d4 exd4 6. Qxd4 Qxd4
7. Nxd4 Bd7 8. Nc3 O-O-O 9. Be3 Re8
Most common (Fritz Powerbook 2012) is 9... f6 10. O-O-O Ne7 11. f3 Ng6 10. O-O-O Ne7 11.Rhe1...

Why show this position? Well, if you appreciate positional struggles, and I do, this is classic. White has pawn structure and development on his side... Black has the long term advantage of the "two Bishops". You can call it equal... but it is a dynamic clash of ideas.
11...b6 We're out of Fritz book here.. 11... f6 to transpose to above, or, { Appel,R (2507) vs Graf,A (2643), Bundesliga, 2004-5, Germany} 11... Ng6 12. a3 h5 13. f4 c5 14. Nf3 f5 15. e5 Be7 16. Nd5 b6 17. Nxe7+ Rxe7 18. Ng5 Rhe8 19. Rf1 Bc6 20. Rf2 Nf8 21. Rfd2... a long, but unforced slight advantage for White.
12. f3 g6 13. Rd2 Bg7 14. Red1 c5

Black has equalized... but the point of White's play is not to maintain an advantage.
It is pawn structure with the real game to come much later. As we all know, if we remove all the pieces, White has winning chances.
Black must attack White's setup with f5 and maintain the two Bishops to hope for an advantage.
15. Nde2 Bc6 16. Bf4 f5 17. Nd5 Bxd5 Black gives up the two Bishops for
dead equality. He could have tried for more with 17... Nxd5 18. exd5 Bb5 19. d6 cxd6 20. Nc3 Bxc3 21. bxc3 Be2 22. Re1 Bc4 23. Rxe8+ Rxe8 24. Rxd6 Re1+ 25. Kb2 Re6 is better for Black, but very drawish.
18. exd5 Nxd5 19. Rxd5 Rxe2 20. Rd7 Be5 21. Bxe5 Rxe5 22. Rf7...
All these moves have been forced.

Things are very, very equal. Black has a choice of lines.
22...Rd8 also =, or, 22... Kb7 23. Rdd7 Rc8 24. Rxh7 Re2 25. g3 c4
Strangely, Black's Kingside weaknesses don't matter.
Analysis position after 25...c4 

If White ever grabs the g-pawn, Black will move his Rc8 to an open file with at least a draw. For example, 26. Rdg7 g5 27. a3 Rf2 28. g4 f4 29. Kb1 Rxf3 30. Rxg5 Rf1+ 31. Ka2 Rf2 and Black is slightly better. =-0.25.
If 22... Kb8 23. Rdd7 Re1+ 24. Kd2 Rhe8 25. Rxc7 R1e2+ 26. Kc1 (26. Kc3 R8e3+ 27. Kc4 Rxc2+ 28. Kd5 Rd2+ 29. Kc4 Rd4#)
Can White win this with best play... No! But, to me, that does not take away from the game's beauty. Perhaps, instead of a positional struggle, we should call this a psychological one... slight pressure... and more slight pressure, building with each move can confuse an opponent... even a very strong GM. Back to the game:
23. Rxd8+ Kxd8 24. Rxh7 Re2 25. g3 Rg2 This is pointless but not losing.
Black now begins sleepwalking with just slightly inferior moves. 25... c4 =
26. b3!

... Best.


The electronic beast likes... 26... f4
27. gxf4 Rf2 28. Rh3 (28. Rh6 Rxf3 29.Rxg6 Rxf4 30. Rh6 c4 is dead equality. 28... Ke7 29. Kb2 a5 30. a3 Kd7 31.Kc1 Ke6 =
27. Rh6 Kd7?! Another just slightly inferior move. +/-
27...c4 28. bxc4 bxc4 29. Kb2 g5 is better +/=0.60
28. Rxg6 Rxh2 29. Rxa6...

Black is struggling, but, I believe he can still hold on... Let's think... What would you do?
29...Rg2? (+/-) White is probably winning after this. Something that is hard for me to say in Rook endgames.
But, what about 29... f4 30. gxf4 Rf2 31. f5 Rxf3 Advantage White, but drawish. +/=0.45
30. Rf6 Rxg3 31. Rxf5 Kd6? This is definitely losing... Why? Because Black is further from the a-pawn than necessary. Better was 31....Kc6 although holding is still problematic.
32. a4 Rg1+ 33. Kb2 b4 34. Rf8!... very nice Rook play.
Rf1 35. a5 Kc6 36. Rb8... Da Point!

36...c4 37. a6...
White can suffer a few checks. 37. bxc4? is not the way. 37...Rxf3 and the Rook slides to a3.
37... c3+ 38. Ka2 Black resigns 1-0
A wonderful Rook endgame by White. As just a few Black inaccuracies were nicely exploited with computer like precision. But, you won't win GOTW with a wonderful early 19th century opening and great endgame play, Jorge. However, GOTD, is not too bad... no money of course.
Boston (1 - 0)

Next up... the inimitable Ilya Krasik. Now, I don't know what that means, but neither does he. Sounds like a compliment though.

Sam Silberman (MIA) vs NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) - Board 4

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3...
Ahhh! The Esserman gambit. Of course, In my day it was known as the Smith-Morra. No self-respecting Blitz player would ever accept this gambit. To understand why, you just must get a copy of "Mayhem in the Morra" by IM Esserman himself. (Just click Mayhem ) I bought my copy from the author yesterday... Marc, thank you for the kind comments and autograph. When you are rich and famous, I promise I won't sell it... unless, of course, we're talking big bucks. I must add... I am already impressed... watch for my review in this blog... when I am finished reading... give me a month, I want to absorb the mind of the author... God, help me!

3...Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Qxd4 e6 6. Bc4
Main line proper is.. . Nf3 Nc6 7. Qe4 and just seems more flexible to me.
6... Nc6 7. Qe4 Nde7 7... d6 8. exd6 Nf6 =/+(-0.30) 8. Bf4 Ng6 9. Bg3 d5
Just equality.
9... f6 10. Nf3 (10. f4 fxe5 11. fxe5 Ngxe5 12. Bxe5 d5 13. Bxd5 exd5 14. Qe2 Nxe5 15. Qxe5+ Be7 {-/+ advantage Black with the true Two Bishops.}) 10... fxe5 wins a pawn due to the threat of ...d5
9... f5 10. Qe3 Qa5 -/+ big advantage for Black.
10. exd6 Bxd6 11. Bxd6 Qxd6 12. Ne2 Nge5 13. Na3 Nxc4?!
Not so good, White's pieces are better placed. 13...O-O = is better.
14. Nxc4 Qc7 15. O-O-O O-O 16. Rd2 b5 17. Nd6 Ba6 18. Nf4 b4 19. cxb4 Nxb4+ 20. Kb1 Rab8
Nice move, back to equal. 21. a3?... Black is now clearly on top. -/+
21.Rhd1 Rb6 = 21... Nd3 22. Nxd3 Qxd6 23. Rhd1 Qxa3 24. Ne5 Rb4 25. Qc6??... Losing quickly.

Are you as smart as Ilya test? Black to move.

25... Bb7 26. Qc2 Bd5 27. Nc4 Qa6 28. Ne3 Qa2+ 29. Kc1 Be4 Black Resigns 0-1
Nice game, Ilya. Here a viewer of the game:

Boston (2 - 0)
Now, on to Kazim (Who I am now formally picking to win every game he plays) and his nice, slow, maneuvering victory over a very strong opponent. Jorge, where did you find this guy? and whatever you are paying him, it is not enough. Not that I am saying he should hold out...

SM Robert Perez (MIA) vs FM Kazim Gulamali (BOS) - Board 2

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 a6 4. Bg2 b5 5. b3... I was shocked to see that this
was the overwhelming choice in this position. Seems to me that 5.Ne5... is more principled.
5...Bb7 6. O-O c5 7. Nc3 Qb6 8. e3 Be7 9. Qe2 Ne4 10. Nxe4 Bxe4 11. Bb2 O-O All "people's choice" moves up to now when SM Perez tries a lesser known...
12. Rfd1...
12. d3 Bb7 13. d4 Seems to give White an edge.
12... bxc4 13. Qxc4 d5 14. Qe2 Nc6 15. d3...
= Take a look at the difference between this and White's 12.d3 line above. 15...Bg6 16. Nh4 Rac8 17. f4 Rfd8 18.Rac1 a5 19. Rf1 Bxh4 This move has been best for Black from the time White moved the Knight to h4. But Kazim waited and is rewarded, as now this is even stronger. 20. gxh4 Nb4 21. Rcd1 Qa6 computer like thinking recommends... 21... h5 22. a3 (22. Bf3 d4 23. Bxh5 Bxh5 24. Qxh5 Nxa2 and White's Kingside play is way too slow.) 22... Nc6 23. Rb1 Rb8 points out that White's a3 is not playable. 22. a3 Nc6 This move should be worse for Black. It shows out why 21...h5 was the best. Scary, but probably best, is... 22... Nxd3 23. f5 Bxf5 24. Rxf5 exf5 25. Rxd3 c4 26. bxc4 dxc4 27. Rxd8+ Rxd8 with Rook and two pawns against two Bishops. I can see why Kazim rejected this.

Position after 22...Nc6
23. Qg4?... Huh? White had a nice advantage with... 23. h5 Bf5 24. h6 g6 25.Qc2
23... h5 And Black is better.=/+ 24. Qg3... 24. Qg5... Would have held
Black's advantage to a minimum. 24... Ne7 25. e4??... this makes things worse, but the invasion of the Knight was not pleasant. 25...dxe4 26. dxe4 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Qe2 28. Rb1 Qc2 29. Qe1 Rd8 This natural move is not best. Now White can get counterplay as in the game. Best was... 29... c4 30. b4 (30. bxc4?? Rb8) 30... axb4 31. axb4 c3 32. Ba1 Qd2 33. Rd1 Qxe1+ 34. Rxe1 c2 35. Bb2 Nc6 36. b5 Nb4 Should win for Black. 30. Bc3 Nc6 30... Rd3 31. Bxa5 Nc6 is complex but equal 31. f5 Bh7 the pawn cannot be taken. 32. fxe6 fxe6 33. Rc1... -/+
Black is back on top. 33. Rb2... = 33... Qxb3 34. Qg3... (after 34. Bxa5... I think White thought he could play... Nxa5 35. Qxa5 Qe3+ however,is the end. 34... Rd1+ 35. Bf1 e5 36. Rxd1 Qxd1 37. Qf2??... Probably time trouble. White misses... 37. Bxe5 Nxe5 38. Qxe5... When there is no time to defend the c5 pawn. 38...Bg6 39. Qxc5 Bxe4 40. Qc4+ Bd5 41. Qc8+ Kh7 42. Qf5+ and things look drawish. 37...Nd4 Black is winning. 38. Qa2+ Kh8 39. Qb2 Qg4+ 40. Kf2 Qxh4+ 41. Kg1 Nf3+ 42. Kh1 Bxe4 43. Bd3 Nd2+ 44. Bxe4 Qxe4+ 45. Kg1 Qe1+ 46. Kg2 Qf1+ 47. Kg3 Qf3+ 48. Kh4 Qg4# 0-1
A real back and forth tussle. But, no problem for Kazim, who never seems to lose concentration... or his cool... as he plays solely on his computer and hardly blinks. Reminds you of Clint Eastwood in one of his western gunfights... as an opponent, if you flinch... you're pushin' up daisies.



Boston (3 - 0)

And now our last game to finish. In a slow developing closed sicilian, NM Vilenchuk shows that the threat is stronger than the execution as when FM Rodriguez seems to drop a pawn, Michael doesn't really care and continues with his Kingside plans.

NM Michael Vilenchuk (BOS) vs FM Eric Rodriguez (MIA) - Board 3

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e6 4. g3 d5 5. d3 Nf6 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. h3 a6
9. Kh2 d4 10. Ne2 e5 11. Ne1 Ne8 12. f4 f6 13. f5 Nd6 14. g4 b5 15. Ng3 c4 16.
h4 Nf7 17. Bh3 a5 18. Qe2 Ra7 19. Rg1...
The pawn is poison as... 19. dxc4 bxc4
20. Qxc4 Qc7 21. Rf2 Ba6 -/+ 19... Kh8 20. Nh5 Rg8?! Methinks he dost
defend too much. 20... Rc7 =/+ is slightly better for Black.
21. dxc4 bxc4 22. Qxc4 Qe8
Now the Knight must be defended and Black's threats are not quite quick enough. Still, it is about equal.
Black has play for the pawn.
23. Qe2 Ba6 24. Qf3 d3 Two pawns for some piece play? Possibly asking too much. White is better, +/-
25. cxd3 Nd4 26. Qd1 Qd8 27. Be3 Rd7 28. Rc1 Bb5
I was expecting 28...Rb7 29.b3 a4 and maybe 3 pawns for piece play would do the trick.
29. Rg2 a4 30. Kh1 Nc6 31. Qf3... Better was... 31. g5 fxg5 (31...Nd6 32. g6 h6 33. Bxh6 gxh6 34. Rxc6 Bxc6 35. Qc1 Bf8 36. Qxc6 is crushing) 32. hxg5 Nxg5 33. f6 hitting the Rook on d7 should be winning.
31... Nd4 32.Qf2 Rd6 33. Rc3 Qe8 34. a3 Bd8 35. Rc5 Bb6 36. Rc1 Nb3 37. Rd1 Bxe3 38. Qxe3 Nd8 39. Ng3 Nc6 40. g5 Qd7?... a mistake allowing White's next. 41. Nh5 Qe8 42. Qf3... Better to defend the Knight with Bg4. 42...Ncd4 43. Qg4 Bd7 44. gxf6?... Oh no, this is only equal. Better was 44. Nc2... forcing 44...
Nxc2 45. Rxc2... with the advantage. 44...gxf6 ? a return mistake. 44... g6! = 45. Nf3 Nxf3 46. Qxf3 Nd4 47. Qg3 gxh5 48. f7 Qxf7 49. Qxe5+ Qf6 50. Rxg8+ Kxg8 51. Qg3+ Kh8 52. Rg1 Qf8 53. Qe5+ Qf6 54. Qg3 Qf8 55. Qe5+ Qf6 draw...
certainly no human could have seen this.
45. Qxg8+ Qxg8 46. Rxg8+ Kxg8 47. Bg4 Rc6 48. Nf3 Nxf3 49. Bxf3 Be8 50. Rg1+ Kf8 51. Ng7 Bf7 52. Bd1 Nc5 53. h5...
53. Bh5 Ba2 54. Rg3 Bb1 = 53... Nxd3 54. Bxa4 Rc4 {=} 55. Bb5 Rxe4 56. Bxd3...
Final Position - 1-0

I assume Black lost on time here as... Rh4+ 57. Kg2 Kxg7 58. Be2 Bb3 Gives drawing chances. 1-0
Congrats to Michael... regardless. You need some luck to win these tough games.

Next match is on Wednesday against the #$^&* Knights. Sorry, I can't say that name. And, as bad as things were organizationally early Wednesday, they settled down just fine... So, Tony, if you read this... come on back. The audience screens will be ready for us next time.

Now, you know I was only kidding about the fish thing. I mean this was a tough match.. and any game could have gone the other way... sure... really... You see, I like to swim in the ocean, and I don't want to be worried about... Oh, some big fish... that might have been offended. They do have big teeth you know. I saw the pictures.