A Positional Queen Sac That Never Happened
Sup chess fans,
On Saturday I went to one of the monthly quads that the Seattle Chess Club holds. I don't normally go to these because the tournament is so small, G/2 is too long, and Saturdays I'm usually busy. However, it had been 3 weeks since the Kings vs. Princes tournament had ended, I had done extensive analysis of all my games and I wanted to start practicing some of my proposed solutions for fixing my mistakes. Also, this was the weekend before my girlfriend comes back from Asia, so I knew I wouldn't be able to play chess for at least another 3 weeks till the October G/60 Tornado, so I wanted to get some chess in before she arrived.
I ended up scoring 2/2 in the quads winning 1st place. I was supposed to play Aryan Deshpande in the 3rd round, but he withdrew (I think he may have gotten sick or something?). This was disappointing because I spent an hour in the bookstore preparing against his Dragon. Maybe I'll get another chance to spring my prep on him in the future.
Anyways round 1 I played the high-spirited junior Joseph Truelson, where I played 1. Nf3 for the first time in a tournament game. I normally stick to my usual 1. e4, but I had recently played a game against NM Daniel He in the Kings vs. Princes on the black side of the Reti, and I was so impressed by his opening that I decided that I had to start playing this myself. It is the perfect anti-kid weapon: booked up kids expect me to play d4 to transpose, but if I hold back my d/e pawns they get confused and spontaneously combust I also like the tricky transpositional nature of it, as I am comfortable in many d4 systems, and can try tricking booked up youngsters into an opening they have no familiarity with.
Without further ado here is the game with light annotations:
Next up was my game against Addison Lee, a 1900 junior who I had played 3 times before. This was the game where I saw a positional queen sac and had gotten so excited to play it, but he didn't let me play it. Not because he thought it was good for black (trust me, these greedy juniors can never resist free material), but because of his misevaluation of a sideline.
After the game, I talked to Addison about why he didn't play 11. Qxa5, and he thought 11...Nxa5 is better for black, (which I strongly disagree with as I show after 11...cd 12. Nc4 Bc1, black has no followup). When I told him I was actually planning to play 11...Nxe3!! to sac my queen, he didn't believe in black's compensation, and said something like "now I know what to play against you."
I swear this is a problem I see a lot in the way juniors play, where all they do is count material, and fail to understand the value of the initiative or the intricate interplay between material and positional compensation. A piece is only good (even the queen!) if it can make threats. In this case, I have two pieces and a pawn for his queen. So since this is the imbalance, we evaluate the position by following this guideline:
Find the individual differences between the white and black armies (here, Q vs BNP) and compare them to see which imbalance is better.
With this in mind, let's start comparing pieces. My knight alone is a monster on e3, ruining his piece coordination and impossible to evict without his dark squared bishop. My dark squared bishop is a monster, raking all his dark square weaknesses from putting all the pawns on light squares, and it will forever go unopposed because of white's missing bishop. The pawn on d4 also will never be undermined, securing the knight on e3 and once I play e5, that pawn on d4 is there to stay. What are white's threats with the queen? Nothing! It can't penetrate black's position at all and is stuck in his own camp defending the whole time! In light of such beautiful coordination, it is pretty clear that black is the one with the initiative.
It is similar to why exchange sacrifices in the sicilian are so strong; white's rooks are often very unimpressive as they have no open files to play against, while black's minor pieces are buzzing with activity as they descend on white's queenside weaknesses. This understanding of the more common exchange sacrifices motivated my discovery of Nxe3!! in my own game.
One final note about this, it would be a major positional mistake for black to sac his queen and then try to cash back his positional advantage immediately for material by playing 12...Nxd1? Again, if we use the guideline above we see another imbalance here, black has given up his e3 knight for the d1 rook. Which piece was better? I hope it is obvious this e3 knight trumps the d1 rook, so Nxd1 is definitely not the way forward.
Anyways, I was a little sad that I had found a positional queen sac in one of my games, and couldn't actually play it because of a misevaluation on his part. Had I been able to execute this queen sac and win the game with it, I would have walked out of this tournament feeling like the next Magnus Carlsen
Until next time,