2014 LA State Championship

2014 LA State Championship

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NOTE:  I have already gotten about 10 e-mails ... they all say the same thing ... that games are missing. The correct way to read this blog, after you have read this intro, is go to the LAST page of the comments and start reading there ... and go forward by date/first comment posted. 


The 2014 Louisiana State Championship was held at the Mariott Hotel in Baton Rouge, LA.  (7 rounds, swiss system. The time control - for all games - was "Game/SD in two hours," {120 minutes} plus the USCF standard of 05 seconds <delay> per move.)  

I (A.J. Goldsby I) won clear first, (6-1; five wins, two draws) / click HERE to see the crosstable ... which lists all of my opponents and their ratings. (Later, I will add the games.)  

Probably the nicest thing about winning this tournament ... was silencing the critics. You see, occasionally (after a game of blitz) I hear the comment that goes something like this: "Well, you are just an old guy, maybe you don't have it anymore." (Or something along those lines.) At age 56, A.J. can still play! (I am also on something of a roll ... I won clear first at Lafayette, tied for second at the Paul Morphy, and took clear second <3.5 out of 4> in Montgomery. Currently, my rating stands at 2222.) 

In fact, I have done OK at this tournament. In 2011, I tied for first place ... and I probably had the best tie-breaks. Last year, (2013); I finished in second place, just a half point behind Jim Rouselle. So overall, I would say I have done well at this event.


By the way, congrats to Patrick Ballard ... I saw him receive the trophy for being the new State Champ ... I do believe that this was his first title. [In the last round, Pat was involved in a ferocious - "back-and-forth" - battle (on Board Two) with perennial contender, Adam Caveney ... who was 1/2 point ahead of him in the tournament standings. In the end, Adam lost on time just a few moves before mate, while Pat only had about five seconds left on his clock!!! (story)] 


Please note that games one through four are in the comments ... and below are games five and six. (When I am finished.) You may have to scroll down a bit ... or go to a second or third page (or further) of comments to find all of the games. 
(I think I ran into a length limitation factor, I had to move my round seven game to the comments.  A couple of people have actually e-mailed me telling me that my first 2-3 games were deleted. Not true! It's an easy oversight, when you get near the bottm of the page, look for the "next page" arrows.)  


Round One - Drew with Mark Grunberg. (Near 1700) 
Round Two - Won against Leila Ann D-Aquin. (1150?) 
Round Three - Won against Ryan Gaudet. (1300+) 
Round Four - Won against Stephen Curry. (1900+) 
Round Five - Won against Nick Matta. (1950+) 
Round Six - Won against Dex Webster. (2000+) 
Round Seven - Draw, vs. Jeffrey de Jesus. (2300+)  


Nick Matta (1966) - A.J. Goldsby I (2215) 
LA State Championships
Baton RougeLA (R#5) / 31,08,2014.  

White avoids the nearly <standard?> English Attack and plays the "old" main line of the Najdorf Sicilian. (I briefly considered 7...Qb6!?; The so-called "Poisoned Pawn" system that was a favorite of Bobby Fischer.)  

I grew up playing these lines and also studying the theory for a lot of years, although I mostly played these systems from the White side, back then. (Nowadays, I might play either side of these very sharp lines.)

1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 d6;  3.d4 cxd4;  4.Nxd4 Nf6;  5.Nc3 a6;  6.Bg5 e6;  7.f4 Be7;  8.Qf3 Qc7;  9.0-0-0 Nbd7;  10.g4
The move/line/system  ... 
that (for a lot of years) almost put the Najdorf out of commission.  

[ One of the better games, IMO, to illustrate this would have to be:  
GM Lembit Oll (2645) - GM Matthew Sadler (2665)  [B99] 
Koge Open; (R#5) / 1997. (1-0 in around 60+ moves. Click here]  

r1b1k2r/1pqnbppp/p2ppn2/6B1/3NPPP1/2N2Q2/PPP4P/2KR1B1R b kq g3 0 10

This is the current position.  

[ The other move here ... (the one that Boris Spassky played against Bobby Fischer in Reykjavik in 1972); was Bd3.  

That can also lead to an exciting game, viz:  10.Bd3 h6;   11.Bh4 g5;  12.fxg5 Ne5;  13.Qe2 Nfg4;  14.Nf3,  (Maybe - '!')  
This is good, as are many other moves.  

(I used to play  RR 14.Kb1,  in my youth, I once defeated J. Scott Pfeiffer at a "tornado" (tournament) in MS with this line. Back then (the 1970's) Scott was one of the strongest players on the whole Gulf coast.) 

14...Nxf3;  15.gxf3 hxg5;  16.Bg3 Ne5;  '~'  

The position is unclear. White's lead in development is offset by Black's better Pawn structure, and restraint against the key square, h4.  
(The engines indicate that White should now try Kb1 and/or f4 here.) ]  

10...Nc5!?;  (Plan?)  
I played this because I wanted to  AVOID the book lines! (The main lines, anyway. After the game, Nick and I went over the colums in the book, and we both agreed that White had the upper hand.)  

[ See MCO-15, page # 255;  columns # 19 through #21. ]  

I also know that I remembered seeing GM Walter Browne use this move a few times, although many of his games from the many (various) weekend swisses are NOT in any of the highly touted databases!!! 

[ Using DF14, I analyzed the old main line when I first got the new version of Deep Fritz:  10...b5;   11.Bxf6 Nxf6;  12.g5 Nd7;   13.f5!?,  (hmm)  
It is not even clear that this is the best line for White ... many of my students (in other states - with newer computers) tell me that Fritz and Houdini generally prefer P-QR3 here for White!!!!!  

(RR 13.a3 Rb8 ;   14.h4 b4; '~')

13...Bxg5+;  14.Kb1 Ne5!?;  
Again ... this is the (old) main line here ... ... ... 
but it might 
not even be the best move anymore!  

( RR 14...0-0!;  15.fxe6 Nb6!; '~' - Deep Fritz 14. )

15.Qh5 Qd8;  
(15...h7-h6; might {also} be playable here as well.) 

16.Nxe6 Bxe6;  17.fxe6 0-0; 18.Bh3, "+/=" (White / small plus.) 
According to Houdini and Fritz, the first player may have a very small advantage in this position. ]  

11.Bxf6!?,  (hmmm)  
I was actually hoping that he would play this because it looks like {is very similar to} the main lines in the book.  

[ Probably better would be:  (>/=)  11.e5! dxe5;  12.fxe5 Nfd7!?;  
Also possible was 12...Nd5.)  

13.Bxe7 Kxe7; 14.Qg3!, "+/=" with a solid edge for White. 
(Possibly '+/' here.) ]  

11...Bxf6;  12.g5!,  (time)  
Now this has to be one of the leading candidate moves ...  
White gains serious space, gains a possible K-side attack and also gains a free tempo as well.  

[ An alternative would be:  
RR 12.Bb5+!? axb5;  13.Ndxb5 Qb6;  14.Nxd6+ Kf8;  15.e5 Be7;  16.f5 Qc6; "=/+" (w/an edge.  (Black is solidly better.) ] 

12...Be7;  13.f5?!,  ('?')  
White follows the "standard" formula ... but it simply misses the mark. (It is very close to the way that White plays in the main line ... but here, it is just a bad variation ... White loses a Pawn, and - according to the chess engines - the first player does not get enough "comp" for the button.)  

But before you judge White too quickly, the open g-file is VERY dangerous to Black, one mistake and the second player could easily succumb to a vicious King-side attack!!  

[ Probably better would be:  (>/=)  13.h4! b5!;   14.a3! Bb7; "="  
when the position is close to being dead equal here.  (DF14 & H3.) 

13...Bxg5+;  14.Kb1 Bf6!;  15.Bh3,  (tame?)  
This might be too routine (here) for White to get the job properly done.

[ Interesting was:  15.Bb5+!?, and if Black takes the piece, White could get a strong  attack ... ... ... ]  

Now I briefly considered a plan that involved ...Bd7 and ...0-0-0. However, I then decided that it simply took too long. (I also wanted to start an attack against the WK, to do that, I needed to castle K-side.)  

15...0-0!;  (Correct!)  
I was worried that the engines would not like this move and would even find a forced win for White. However, I was pleased that all of the programs (DF, Houdini, etc.) that I use to analyze chess games also approve of this move.  


I do NOT have a lot of experience (as Black) in these lines. I usually would leave my QR on a1, play a plan like ...b5; ....Bb7; etc. However, here, I decided that speed was needed and to finish my development as quickly as possible. (When you castle on opposite sides the game often becomes a race to go get the other player's King. White has a good attacking plan and already has the half-open g-file so time is not a luxury that Black enjoys here.) 

16.Rhg1 Bd7!;  17.Nde2 Rac8!;  
I was amazed to see that both Houdini and Fritz consider this practically a won position for Black, despite all the open lines and the space advantage that the first player also has. 

2r2rk1/1pqb1ppp/p2ppb2/2n2P2/4P3/2N2Q1B/PPP1N2P/1K1R2R1 w - - 0 18 

The tide has turned ... Black has completed his development and now even holds the upper hand.  

 ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***  ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***  ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***    

Now I have pressure against c2 and the option of ...b4-b5; so White has to quickly guard that square.  
18.Rd2! b5!;  19.Nf4! Kh8!;  
I found this move on general principle more than calculation ... 

I need to have my King off the g-file to avoid tactics and I also need a Rook on g8 to defend g7.  

At this point, I am pretty sure that White had already used over 90 minutes of clock time. (After Nh5, I had to save my DSB ... it is useful for both defense on the K-side and it also hit key squares on the Queen-side, as well.) 

20.Nh5 Be5[];  21.Qe3! Rg8!;  
This is a good, wise and smart practical decision. (I don't care what the engines say here.) 

My Rook on f8 is doing nothing and White can play Qg5 and/or treble on the half-open g-file. (The only danger is trapping the Black King in the corner, but to exploit this, White would have to be able to sack on h7 and then check {with a heavy piece} on the h-file, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.) 

Now Black's moves are easy to find ... I have to get something going on the Q-side, having mustered all the defense that I was capable of on the K-side.  

22.Rdg2 b4!;  23.Nd1 Bc6!;  
I like this move, Black will knowingly abandon e6 and begin an all-out assault on White's position, especially the e4-square. (The engines want to look-at/play all kinds of moves like ...g6; ...a5; and even 23...Ba4.)  

Now the engines indicate that White should exchange on e6.  

24.Nf2 Qb7!;  (battery - hits e4.)  
his is good, simple and logical. (DF14 wants to play all kinds of weird moves like  ...Ba8;  ...Bb7!?;  and even ...g6. Sometimes engine chess is super logical, and other times  ...  it is simply incomprehensible!)  

2r3rk/1q3ppp/p1bpp3/2n1bP1N/1p2P3/4Q2B/PPP2NRP/1K4R1 w - - 0 25 

White now has to decide how (and if) he will defend e4.  

[ Interesting is:  RR 24...g6!?;   25.fxg6 Rxg6;  26.Rxg6!? fxg6;  27.Nf4 Qg7!;  '-+' - Deep Fritz 14.  ]  

25.Rg4!?,  (artificial)  
The Rook is only in the way on this square and shuts off the LSB on h3 from attacking Black's e6-square. 

[ Probably better was my simple choice of:  
RR 25.Re1,  - DF14. (Overnight analysis.) ]  

White plays Nd3!? and now finds he has around five minutes left on his clock to play the rest of the game. (White's only chance was the box's move of 26.Rh4.)  

25...Rb8!?;  (Idea?)  
The main plan for this move is to be found in the lines with ...Na4   and then  ...Nc3+. (I think that the engine move was  25...Ba4.)  

Now maybe White should take on e6 and then unclog his pieces on the K-side. 

26.Nd3!? Nxd3;  27.cxd3 b3!
In time pressure, White has to find the threat of 28.fxe6?, and now 28...b3xc2+! (Which is winning for Black.) 

28.a3[] exf5;  29.exf5 Rbe8!;  
Now this unemployed piece finds work on the e-file. 
(I was pleased to see it was the top choice of DF 14.)  

30.Qf2 Bf3;  (hits g4 and h5)  
DF does not totally agree with this play, opting for  ...Qb5;  or even  ...g7-g6.  

31.Rb4?, (losing)  
In extreme time pressure, White tries to find a good tactical shot ... but I had more than enough time to find all the good plays and figure out the tactics.  

4r1rk/1q3ppp/p2p4/4bP1N/1R6/Pp1P1b1B/1P3Q1P/1K4R1 b - - 0 31  

This is the current position.  

[ According to the engines, White had to play a line something like this:  (>/=) 31.Bg2[] Bxg2;  32.Qxg2 Qxg2;  33.R4xg2 g6;  34.fxg6 hxg6;  35.Ng3 Re6; '/+' A won endgame!?

(In my opponent's defense, we analyzed our game when it was done. He made a comment that it was suicide to exchange Queens after a certain point, anyway.) ]  

Now the position is basically a "Black to move and win."  
(After  ...Qd5; DF shows that White had to play Nf4[].)  

31...Qd5!;  32.d4?! a5!;  
The engines also like ...BxP/h2, I leave it to the reader to analyze why this move works! 

33.Ra4!? Qe4+;  34.Ka1 Bxh5!?;  
 (Even better was ...BxP/h2! with the idea of a mate on the last rank.)  

35.Bg2 Qf4!?;  "-/+"  White Resigns.  

The boxes eval this position as winning for Black by a fair amount, 7-10 points. (Additionally, White was about to run out of time, {less than two minutes} while I had more than 52 minutes remaining on my Chronos chess clock.)  

4r1rk/5ppp/3p4/p3bP1b/R2P1q2/Pp6/1P3QBP/K5R1 w - - 0 36  

This was easily one of my better Najdorf games (as Black), it was icing on the cake that it occurred at a State Championship tournament - on Board Two - in the fifth round. (After this game, there were only two players with 4.5 points ... myself and Dex Webster, whom I was slated to play on Board One in Round Six.)   

[ The best winning line is amazing and a mini-lesson in advanced tactics:  >/=  RR 35...Qc2!!;  36.Qxc2[] bxc2;  37.dxe5 Bd1!;  38.Rc4[] Rxe5;  39.Bf3,  Probably forced.  

(RR 39.b4!? axb4 ;   40.axb4 Rb8;  41.Ka2 d5!; -+)  

39...Bxf3;  40.Rxc2 Rxf5; '-+' ]  



This was my critical sixth-round showdown ... on center-stage.  

A.J. Goldsby I  (2215) - Dex Webster (2004) 
LA State Championships  
Baton Rouge, LA (R#6) / 01,09,2014.  

Thus far, Dex and I had gone in completely different directions. I had drawn in the first round, playing the "Swiss Gambit," went downstairs ... and for at least two rounds, and had to play much weaker opponents. 

Meanwhile, Dex had been on a high board and defeated just about everyone he played. In R5, he played the tournament's highest-rated player, (de Jesus); who was rated nearly 2350 ...  and nearly won - but wound up with a solid draw. 

Now after five tumultuous games, we both had 4.5 out of 5, and a showdown on Board One was simply inevitable.  


The game begins as an English.  

1.c4 e5;  2.Nc3 Bb4!?;  
A kind of "nimzo" type of move, my opponent (if he is allowed) will double my QBP's and then play against them.  

3.Qb3,  '!?'  (unusual)  
A non-book kind of response, it was important (for me) to get my opponent out of his prepared lines as soon as I possibly could.  

[ The "book" play here is 3.Nd5, see MCO-15, pg. # 693; beginning with col. # 39. ]  

[ A number of years ago, I had deeply explored a wild system that began:  3.Nd5 Nc6!;   4.Nf3!? e4;  '~'  with unclear play.  

(Nowadays, I would just take the Bishop on b4, and be happy with the Bishop Pair.) ]  

3...Ba5!?;  (time?)  
Black saves his Bishop but also limits his options. (The DSB now has difficulty returning to the K-side.)  

[ A reasonable alternative would have been:  
RR 3...Nc6; 4.Nf3 d6;  5.g3 Nf6;  6.Bg2 ,  "="  
 with a fully playable game for both sides.  ( - DF 14.) ]  

For now, both sides simply continue with their development.  
4.Nf3 Nc6;  5.e3 Nf6;   
Thus far, all is 'normal' and both sides have equal chances from this position.  

Now a conventional move would have been Be2, but the last thing I wanted was a dull and boring draw.  
6.a3!?,  (vague)  
I play a slow move, but one with deep implications. (I am aiming to win the Bishop and also play b2-b4 and put my new Bishop on the long diagonal and then attack Black's King.)  

[ Both of the following lines represent a probably (clear) 
improvement over the course of the actual game:  
RR 6.Be2 0-0;   7.0-0, "="  


RR  6.d3 d6;  7.Bd2 Rb8;  8.a3 0-0;  
9.Be2 Re8;  
10.0-0 Bf5;  "=" ]  

Black now crosses the dreaded "frontier line."
(The imaginary 
line between the 4th and 5th ranks.)
Crossing this dividing 
line is both dangerous and very committal - it is a decision that should not be undertaken lightly. Here, Black's justification lies in the fact that White's overall position is disrupted and the Knight on f3 must move and lose time.  

6...e4!?;  7.Ng5!? Bxc3!;  8.Qxc3 d5!?;  (Too early?)  
Black immediately breaks in the center, I would have simply castled first. (With more options.)  

[ The metal monster agrees with me,
after:  >/=  8...0-0; "=/+" 
Black is slightly better. ]  

9.cxd5 Qxd5;  10.h4!?,  
I continue to make unexpected moves, mix it up and invite my opponent to attack. 
(Psychology in chess?)  

[ Probably better was:  RR 10.f4 0-0; "=/+" - DF 14 ]  

(Probably best was 11.d3, atlthough this means playing an immediate exchange of Queens ... which is what I was trying to avoid in this particular game.)  
10...0-0;  11.b4!? h6;  12.Nh3 Bxh3;  13.Rxh3 Rac8;  
A very rare position ... Black has completed the development of all of his pieces, while his opponent lags severely behind. (Normally, White would be simply lost.) In this game, the complete lack of open lines renders time less important than what the long-range possibilities for both players will be.  

2r2rk1/ppp2pp1/2n2n1p/3q4/1P2p2P/P1Q1P2R/3P1PP1/R1B1KB2 w Q - 0 14  

Now White completes his development, while his opponent tries to force a few open lines and win the game. (The box likes 14...Rfd8; for Black.)  
14.Bb2 Rfe8!?;  15.0-0-0?!,  
I castle Q-side ... which shows I want an all-out fight ... the metal monster considers this risky and highly doubtful. (And after having a chance to analyze the game in depth, I am forced to agree.)  

[ Definitely better was:  (>/=)  
RR 15.Qc5! Qxc5;  16.bxc5 Nd5;  17.Rb1 b6;  18.cxb6 axb6;  19.Rg3, "+/="  (with/an edge)  
when White's two Bishops might amount to something in a long endgame. (I saw this and rejected it for many reasons, mostly the isolated QRP and the exchange of Queens.) 


I also looked at a very long continuation that began with:  
15.Bc4!? Qf5!?;  16.g4!?,  '~'  
with unclear and extremely complex play. ]  

I continue with my original idea, although it is severely flawed   ... best was 16.Qc5, with nearly a playable game for White.  
15...Ne5;  16.d3? c5!?;   
Black did not have to play this, but it was not bad.  

17.b5 Nxd3+?;  (bad)  
This was - quite simply - a mistake.
(Black missed 
a HUGE opportunity here!)  

[ Much better was: >/=  17...Rcd8!; '-+'  (winning?)  
when the first player may not even have a decent reply.  
(White loses at least a Pawn,  and maybe even more.)  
(17...exd3; was probably also good for Black.) ]  

18.Bxd3 exd3;  19.Rg3! Re6;  20.Rxd3 Qf5?!;  (inferior)  
Black now misses his last chance at a solid edge.  

[ A solid improvement was: 
>/=  20...Qe4!;  21.Rd4 cxd4;  22.Qxc8+ Re8;  23.Qc4 Qf5; "=/+"  
when Black has the upper hand here. ]  

21.Qc2! Kh7?;  (losing)  
Now White's Q+R and Black's Q+K are all on the same diagonal ... bad news for my young opponent.  

2r5/pp3ppk/4rn1p/1Pp2q2/7P/P2RP1R1/1BQ2PP1/2K5 w - - 0 22 

[ Better was: >/=   21...Qh5!; '~' 
when Black may still be just a little better here. ]  

My next move is easy to play and also somewhat obvious.  After Black plays  22 ... Qg6;  I kept analyzing all kinds of ideas (and their branches) with various pawn advances. (Trying to kick the BQ off the b1-h7 diagonal.) Then it suddenly dawned on me that if the Black Knight on the f6-square were no longer on the board, all my ideas would fall into place ... ... ...   
22.Rf3! Qg6[];  23.Rxf6!,  
This wins (easily) for White, although it is very complicated and White has to withstand a long barrage of checks.  

[ The machine finds a line that few humans would even seriously consider:  >/=   23.Bxf6!! Rxf6;  24.h5 Qe4;  25.Rxf6! gxf6;  26.f3 Qf5;  27.Rd7! Qxc2+;  28.Kxc2, '+-'  (decisive)  
when White will win TWO pawns in the coming ending and should win easily. ]  

23...gxf6;  24.h5! Qf5;  25.g4 Qe4;  26.f3 Qxf3;  27.Rd8+ Re4?;  
The final bad move by Black. (In my opponent's defense, he was already running short of thinking time here.)  

2rR4/pp3p1k/5p1p/1Pp4P/4r1P1/P3Pq2/1BQ5/2K5 w - - 0 28  

Now White wins a whole Rook, and the Rook on e4 is in a bad pin, this spells doom for Black. 

 [ After the following variation:  >/=  27...Kg7;  28.Rxc8 Rxe3;  29.Rd8 Qxg4;  30.Rd1 Re4;  31.Kb1, '±' (Maybe "+/-")  
when White has an extra piece, 
but it is a long way from being an easy win. ]  

Now White has to figure out a way to avoid problems and his exposed King getting popped ... Black's only real chance lays in going for a perpetual check. 

28.Rxc8 Qf1+;  29.Kd2 Qf2+;  30.Kc3 Qxe3+;  31.Qd3 Qe1+;  32.Kb3 Kg7;  33.Qd8! Rb4+!;  34.axb4 Qxb4+;  35.Kc2 Qa4+;  36.Kc1 Qc4+;  37.Kd2 Qf4+;  38.Kd3 Qf3+;  39.Kc4 Qe4+;  40.Kxc5 b6+;  41.Kd6 Qd3+;  42.Kc7 Qc4+;  43.Kb7 Qe4+;  44.Rc6,  "+-"  Black Resigns.  

3Q4/pK3pk1/1pR2p1p/1P5P/4q1P1/8/1B6/8 b - - 0 44  

At the end of the game, I had almost 45 minutes left on my clock, while my opponent only had about a minute-and-a-half left.  


Click HERE to see a YT video on this game.