Matzah MIA over Boston (0.5 - 3.5)
(Beat Reporter: Mark LaRocca)
Oy vey! I should have known that Matzah balls and Shark tooth soup would give the team indigestion… What was I thinking? I will take the blame for this one… as Miami laid claim to the “League’s strongest fish” title… turning a close match into a Blitz (0.5 – 3.5) devastating loss. But, enough with the food analogies… I think I’ve gained 5 pounds over the last few articles.
“Close” you say!... yes, it seemed to be close indeed as Sam drew a short but complex Ruy with GM Bacerra… and fourth board, Michael Mahoney, was cruising as White… up an exchange and a pawn… in an ending!... against Dennis Mederos. We all figured this for a win… easy right?... wrong! Suddenly, the Fates stepped in… Marc seemed to have his wild game back under control on board one against GM Quesada.. a draw seemed a proper result… Not!... as he got disconnected from the network… when he finally got reconnected, he was in even more severe time pressure… but, it didn’t seem an issue, that is, until... Michael got disconnected… in moderate time pressure. But, Michael never played well after this mildly upsetting moment… and Boston was now down (0.5 – 1.5)… talk about indigestion… This could make you throw up in your mouth… as a famous New England coach once said.
Ok, so I am making excuses… and it is our fault. Disconnections should not happen… But, I, for one, felt things slipping away from this point on. First, Michael lost… putting pressure on Denys and Marc (in time pressure) to try to win… then Denys lost as Black against FM Rodriguez… and with this, went the match. Marc’s game was the last to end badly… If I have to eat one more Matzah ball… I think I’ll be sick. The nightmare meal begins with a truly remarkable variation of the Ruy Lopez… come to think of it, Sam is the only one who passed on the soup! Let’s take a look…
(right click above, open in another window, to play through game)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0…
Sam's Dad told me during this game that Sam does not usually allow the open Ruy... but, that he had looked at some lines this morning and so...
5...Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 d4 11.Ng5!?...
This is interesting... but, leads to a crazy equality,, as we shall see. Better for White is...
[11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.cxd4 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Nf3 Qd5 15.Bg5 +/= with a somewhat simplified but reasonable advantage for White.]
The only move to win back the piece. To have looked at lines only this morning and know this variation is impressive.
12...0–0–0 13.Bxe6+ fxe6 14.Qxc6 Qxe5 15.b4 Qd5! a book piece sacrifice that keeps the game equal.
[15...dxc3 16.bxc5 cxd2 17.Qxa6+± is much better for White.]
16.Qxd5 exd5 17.bxc5 dxc3 18.Nb3 d4
Sam told me after the game that he was out of his book here... and this is confirmed by the fact that he started burning up quite a bit of time from here on out.
20.Bb4 Bf6 21.a4 d3
But, GM Becerra is obviously familiar with this line. However, this move is not the most common. Most often played is...
[21...Kd7 22.axb5 axb5 with easy equality. He probably wanted to make things hard on Sam, who seemed visibly frustrated at the board.. . not so much because he was struggling to find moves... but, because he could not find a win.]
This is the first move out of book... interesting, as it assures equality. Previously played, and keeping an advantage is...
[23.bxa6 c2 24.a7 Kb7 25.a8Q+ Rxa8 26.Rxa8 c1Q 27.Nxc1 dxc1Q
This is the position around which much of the analysis centered after the game. White can, and did grab the Queen and draw... 28.Ra7+ (However, if White wants to keep the game going, he can try the dangerous (for both sides)... 28.Rxh8 Qb2 29.Be1 h6 30.f3=) 28...Kxa7 29.Rxc1 Rd8 30.Kf1=]
23...Kb8 24.Bc5 c2 This leads to an obvious draw... trickier was....
[24...Rhe8 When White must find g3!... making luft. Losing is... 25.g3 (25.Rxa6 Re1 as there i snow no perpetual.; or, 25.Rad1 axb5 26.Be3 Re6 27.Nxd2 cxd2 28.Rxd2 Rxd2 29.Bxd2 Ka7 Black should win the c-pawn and the game.) 25...Re5 26.Kg2 c2 27.Ba7+ Kc8 28.Nxd2 Rxb5 29.Rac1 Rxd2 30.Be3 Rdd5 31.Rxc2 with an equal but long struggle ahead, Given GM Bacerra's time advantage at this time Somewhere around 25min to Sam's 6) I am not sure Sam, or anyone, could have found all these moves. But, then again, Black's task was only a little easier here.... so...]
Position after 25... d1=Q
What a fantastic position!... and a fitting final tribute to the game.
26.Ba7+ Kc8 27.Bd4 Kb8 28.Ba7+ [draw by perpetual.] ½–½
Boston (0.5 - 0.5)
You see what a good night’s sleep and proper diet can do for you… and against last week’s GOTW winner… and one of the League’s most decorated GMs. Not bad, Sam… not bad at all.
With this draw in our pocket, I was pretty content. My thinking was to get at least a draw out of the top two boards… and with Michael winning, and I expected no less than a draw by Denys… I was already counting my chips… but, then acid reflux set in… and, I was regretting adding the shark teeth to the pre-match feast…
Michael seemed to be lost… how could this be?... follow me…
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0–0 8.Bb3 a5 9.0–0 Ng4?! This is known to be better for White.
[9...a4 10.Nxa4 Nxe4 11.Nb5 Ra6 12.c4 d6 13.Qe2 Nf6+/= With a slight edge to White.]
I can find no game where the Black player did not play the obvious... 10...Nxd4. Giving up the dark squares cannot be good. White should now just trade...
11.Bh6?!... This is not bad... White still has a +/= advantage, but, I don't much like giving Black the chance to keep the Bishop.
[11.Bxd4 Nxd4 when either... 12.e5 (or, 12.Qd1 e5 13.Nd5+/=) 12...Nxb3 13.axb3 d6 14.Qe2+/= keeps a nice advantage.]
11...Bg7?! Why trade your Bishop? Black's best friend in the Dragon.
[11...Re8 12.Qg3 d6]
12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.Rad1… goading Black to push the d-pawn.
13...d5?!... too far...d6 was much safer.
14.Qh4?!... goading the e-pawn to advance is a bit too much.
[14.Qg3 d4± White is much better he is up a tempo from the game in his attack against the d-pawn. +/-. 15.Ne2 e5 16.c3 Re8 17.f4 with an attack as Black's center crumbles.]
14...d4 15.a4 e5 16.Qg3 Be6 17.Bxe6 fxe6 Things are about equal.
18.Nb5 Qf6 19.Qb3 Qe7 20.Rd3 Rad8 21.Rh3 Rf4 22.Re1 Qc5??
a bad move in a pretty equal position.
23.Nc7… an undefendable threat to fork the world on e6.
23...Rd6 24.Ne8+ Kg8 25.Nxd6 Qxd6 26.Qxb7 Rf7 27.Qb6…
White has pawn and exchange for less than nothing. Fritz 13 give it +– (3.64). A win here would put the Blitz up (1.5 - 0.5) with Denys struggling and looking to be lost... and Marc with what looked like a draw on board one.
27...Qb4 28.Qxb4 Nxb4 29.c3 Nc6 30.Rd3 Rb7 31.Rd2 Rb3 32.Rc1 Rb6 33.Kf1 Kf7 34.Ke2… Reasonable and still winning... but, White had better...
[34.b4 axb4 35.cxb4 Nxb4 36.Rb1 Nd5 37.Rxb6 Nxb6 38.a5 +– (7.80) the knight cannot compete.]
34...Rb3 35.Kd1 Rb6 36.Kc2 Kf6 37.Ra1 Kg5 38.Ra3 Kf4 39.f3 Rb7 40.Rd3 Rc7 41.g3+ Kg5 42.Rd2 h5 43.Rb3 Kf6 44.Kd3 g5 45.Rb5 Ke7
White has built his advantage slowly and is now overwhelmingly winning.... +– (4.85)
46.f4… White can hardly make a bad move... and he is still winning after this... but, his play goes horribly wrong.
[46.h4 gxh4 47.gxh4 opens a file and the game will soon be over.]
46...gxf4 47.gxf4 dxc3 48.bxc3 exf4 49.Rxh5… a very slight inaccuracy.
[49.e5 the f-pawn is lost 49...Rd7+ 50.Ke2 and Black's King is out of play.]
49...Kf6 50.Rf2 Ne5+ 51.Kc2 f3 52.Rh6+ Kg5 53.Rxe6 Kf4 +– (3.80)
Now that Black's King is in the game, White must play accurately... the best is...
54.Rf1… [54.Rxe5 Kxe5 55.Rxf3 Kxe4 +– with a two pawn up Rook ending. Black would have done well to even get this close... unfortunately for the Blitz, he does even better.]
54...Rc5 55.h4… [55.Rf6+ Kxe4 56.h4 Ng4 57.R6xf3 Ne3+ 58.Rxe3+ returns to the two pawn up endgame.]
55...Kg3 56.Rg1+ Kf4!
I had to give Black an "!" just for hanging in there. White is given +–(3.50) in this position. Much worse was...
[56...Kf2 57.Rg5; or, 56...Kh2 57.Rg5]
57.h5!... excellent and still winning. +–(3.70)
57...f2 58.Rf6+ [58.Rh1 Nf3 59.Rf6+ Ke3 60.h6 wins in a less complex manner. But, Michael's move is very good... if you understand why.
58...Ke3 59.Rg3+ Ke2 60.Rg2??... now Black has drawing chances.
[60.Rxf2+ Kxf2 61.Rg5!! Ties Black up in knots... as the pawns against Knight ending is winning for White. 61...Ke3 62.h6 Rc6 (62...Kf4 63.h7) 63.Rxe5 Rxh6 64.Rxa5 is easily winning, as Black's King cannot get in front of the pawns.]
61.h6??... Loses... The draw was there with...
[61.Rxf2+ Kxf2 62.Rf5 Rxf5 63.exf5 Ke3 is a draw... as the Black Knight must hold the past pawns. 64.h6 Ng5 65.Kb3 Kd3 66.f6 Nf7 67.h7 Nh8 68.Kb2=]
61...Ne1+ 62.Kb3 Nxg2 63.h7 Rh5 64.Kc4 Rxh7 65.Kb5 Rh5+ 66.Kc6 Ne3 0–1
Boston (0.5 - 1.5)
I can’t say that I understand Michael’s collapse in the second half… perhaps, too many reps in the weight room? Nice opening pressure though. Oh well,.. with proper diet and training, I’m sure he can build his stamina.
Now, we were waiting on Denys… and I was confidently telling everyone… no matter how bad things look… Denys will draw… of that, I was sure. After all, he had only saved us that way in about a dozen matches. But, it just wasn’t in the soup… or was it?
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.Bg5 Qb6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.Nd2 Qa6 9.c4 Bb4 10.b3 Ne7 11.Bxe7…We are out of book here... Previous theory is...
[11.Ngf3 Nf5 12.0–0; 11.Ne2 Nd7 12.0–0]
12.Ngf3 Nd7 13.Qc2 Nb6 14.0–0 dxc4?! I think this is a bit premature. Castles either way maintains equality... now White's mobil center gives him the edge.
15.bxc4 c5 Watching this game, we all thought this was a mistake because of White's response...
16.d5… We were all very wrong. Although this is a bit scary, Black is at least equal. Better for White was...
[16.dxc5 Bxc5 17.Ne4² This looks bad for White... doesn't he just lose a pawn? 17...Rc8 18.Rfc1 Be7 19.c5 0–0 20.Neg5 no... White's attack is too strong. 20...Bxg5 (20...g6 21.Nxe6 is too much. White has a nice attack and always has the draw if he wants it.) 21.Nxg5 g6 22.Ne4 Nd7 White is better +/=]
16...exd5 17.e6 Rf8?
This move is almost losing... and it just makes no sense. What was wrong with...
[17...0–0 18.exf7+ Rxf7 19.Ne5 (19.Ng5 Bxg5 20.hxg5 Nxc4 is winning for Black.) 19...Rf6 White has some compensation for the pawn... but Black is fine... the game is equal.]
18.Ne5… Better was...
[18.exf7+ Rxf7 19.Rae1 0–0–0 20.Qg6 Black is close to losing +/- 20...Rdf8 21.Qe6+ Nd7 22.cxd5 White should win.]
18...f5 [18...0–0–0 19.exf7 is bad... but best.]
19.cxd5… the right idea... but, the correct move order is...
[19.Ng6 Rf6 20.Nxe7 Kxe7 21.cxd5 c4 (21...Rc8 22.Rad1 Nxd5 23.Nf3 is crushing.) 22.Nf3 Rd8 23.Rfe1 Nxd5 24.Qd2 f4 (24...c3 25.Qg5 g6 26.Ne5 wins) 25.Rad1 Rd6 26.Qd4 Ne3 (26...Nc7 27.Qc5 Qb6 28.Qg5 wins.) 27.Qxd6+ Qxd6 28.Rxd6 Kxd6 29.fxe3 Rxe6 30.Rd1+ Kc5 31.exf4 +/- one pawn should not be enugh for the piece. But, Black is still in the game.]
This should lose quickly... Black had to play...
[19...Nxd5 20.Rfe1 Nb4 (20...Qxe6 21.Qa4+) 21.Qc3± White has a big advantage... but there is work to do.]
20.Ng6 Rfe8? not good... but Black was losing a piece.
21.Nxe7+ Rxe7 22.d6 Rxe6 23.Qxc5+ Kd7
Fritz calls it +–(9.40) Denys does extremely well to survive the next few moves.
24.Qc7+ Ke8 25.Rfe1 Re2 26.Nc4… a slight mistake that cuts the advantage down to _-(2.50)
[26.Nf3 Rd7 27.Qc5 Kd8 28.Nd4 is finite, or is it finito.]
26...Qxc4 27.Qxc4 Nxc4 28.Rxe2+ Kf8 29.Re7 Nxd6
With the King on the back rank and Black's poor piece position... the rest is easy.
30.Rc7 a5 31.a4 b5 32.axb5 Nxb5 33.Rc5 Nd6 34.Raxa5 Rd7 35.Rd5 Ke7 36.f3 Ke6 37.Kh2 g6 38.Kg3 Rb7 39.Rd1 Rb6 40.Ra7 Kf6 41.Rd2 Rc6 42.Rda2 Rc3 43.R7a6 Rd3 44.Kf2 Ke5 45.Ke2 Rb3 46.f4+ 1–0
Boston (0.5 - 2.5)
Ok… the match was over with this result. Miami had a (0.5 – 2.5) advantage… and Boston had a severe case of indigestion. Again, I didn’t hang around for Marc’s game to end… but, looking at it… I thought it was a draw. Seems like I didn’t get anything right this match.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6
As I predicted... a fighting Najdorf.
6.Be3 e6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.g4 b4 10.Nce2 h6 11.0–0–0 Qc7 12.Bg2…
A bit of a sideline. 12.h4... is most common. At this point Marc started to think a bit. I don't think he was out of his book... but,.. in the Najdorf, exact order is important.
12...Ne5 13.b3 d5
When I saw this move, I hoped that it was theory... and it is... about the only move played here. Marc told me at this point... things are going to get wild... and they did.
14.exd5 Nxd5 15.f4… A pawn sacrifice based in theory.
15...Nxg4 16.Bxd5 exd5 17.f5…
We are still in theory here... it always amazes me how much these guys know.
17...Nf6 This is favored by Fritz and given +/=(–030). So, I decided to check here and search for any other games where this might have been played... I found none.
[The following leads to equality and is what has been played before... 17...Bb7 18.Bf4 Qa5 19.Kb1 Nf2 20.Qe3+ Ne4 21.Ng3 Be7=]
Strangely, the weakness in Black's position is not the e-file... but the g-file. Is this version of equality better or worse than...
[18...Qc5= 19.Rhg1 a5 with plenty of counterplay]
19.Rhg1 Bxf4 White now gains a very slight edge... Never voluntarily give up the two Bishops (Yogi Eugene)... Fritz suggests...
[19...Ne4= 20.Qe3 (20.Bxd6 Qxd6 21.Qf4 0–0=) 20...Kf8]
20.Nxf4 0–0 21.Nfe2… This retreat... just to grab a pawn... gives back the edge to Black.
21...Kh7 [21...Kh8 22.Qxb4 Bd7 The open files guarantee Black counterplay for the pawn.. =/+]
22.Qxb4 Re8 not bad... But the Rooks may want to go to b and c files. I still like moving the Bishop... but 22...Bd7 gets hit with 23.Qe7... so, maybe just 22...Bb7
23.Rg2 Qe5 24.Rdg1 Rg8 25.Rf1 a5 26.Qd2 Ba6 27.Qf4...
This is equal... Marc misses a very strong move here...
[27...Qe7 keeping pressure on the e-file and White's King. For example... 28.a4 Ne4 29.Kb2 Qf6 30.Rd1 =/+
Analysis Position after 30.Rd1...=+
Black's King is safe and White is quite tied up.]
28.Qxe5 Rxe5 The game is fairly equal here.
29.Rf3 Re4 30.c3 Rge8 31.Kd2 a4 32.Rfg3 Nh5 33.Rg4 axb3 34.axb3 Re3=
[34...Rxg4 35.Rxg4 Nf6 Should be a draw... however, Black's King is quite inferior to White's.]
35.Nf4 Nxf4 36.Rxf4 Rd3+ 37.Kc2 Rc8 [37...Rde3 38.Rfg4 g5 39.fxg6+ fxg6 is safe enough because of... 40.Rxg6 Bd3+]
38.Rfg4 Rdxc3+ Now, White has an edge. And to top it off... Marc, in a bit of time trouble... gets disconnected somewhere in the next few moves. The chess Gods were turning against us at this point. As Board 4 was also struggling.
39.Kb2 Rd3 40.Rxg7+ Kh8 41.R7g4 Rh3 42.f6 Bf1 43.Rf2 Bd3
Things are again equal... But, I think White's moves are a little easier, especially, considering that Marc must keep winning chances. We are down (0.5 - 1.5) about now.
44.Rg7 Rf8+/= [44...Rh4 45.Rg3 Rxd4 46.Rd2 Rf4 47.Rgxd3 Rxf6 48.Rxd5 seems a simple draw.]
White has a slight edge...
45.Nc6 Re3 46.Rg4 Be4 47.Ne5 Bh7 48.Nc6 Rc8 49.Nd4 Rd3 50.Rh4 Rd1 51.Nf5 Bxf5 52.Rxf5 Kh7 53.Rf2 Rg1 54.Rd4 Rg5 55.b4 Rc6 56.Kb3 Kg6 57.h4 Rg1 [57...Rg3+ 58.Ka4 Rxf6 is heading toward a draw... but, I think both players were in time trouble at this point.]
58.Rxd5 Rxf6 59.h5+ Kg7 60.Rxf6 Kxf6 61.b5 Rb1+ 62.Ka4 Ke6 63.Rc5 Ra1+ 64.Kb4 f5 65.Rc6+ Ke5 66.Rxh6 f4 67.Rh8 f3 68.Rf8 Ke4 69.b6 Ke3 70.h6 Believe it or not... at this point, it is still a draw... But, you do need time to think...
70...f2?? Oops! It's mate in 30. How about...
[70...Rh1 71.Re8+ (71.b7 Rb1+; 71.Rf6 f2 72.Kc5 f1Q 73.Rxf1 Rxf1 74.b7 Rf8 75.Kb6 Kf4 76.h7 Kf5 77.Ka7 Kg6 78.b8Q Rxb8 79.Kxb8 Kxh7 draw) 71...Kd4 White can make no progress. 72.Kb5 Rh5+ 73.Ka6 Rxh6=]
71.h7 Rb1+ 72.Kc5 Rc1+ 73.Kd6 Rd1+ 74.Ke6 Rh1 75.b7 Rh6+ 76.Kd5 Rh5+ 77.Kc4 1–0
Boston (0.5 - 3.5)
This one was a heartbreaker…. As in heart-burn saver. I can only imagine that Marc didn’t sleep well this night. He is pretty critical of his own play… and move 70 was probably in his dreams.
What can I say… I was Wrrr… Wrrr… Wrrr… No, I was right all along. The team should have drawn… dang it… it was a conspiracy I tell you… someone disconnected that network. And what about the soup… did someone spike the soup… Matzah Mia!… that’s a’one spicy shark soup.