Week 3 Recap: vs. Miami
After last week’s miraculous win, luck just wasn’t on our side this time around. I have no other excuse except that Miami is just a really strong team (Yuniesky even managed to beat me in North Carolina) with many strong lineups at their disposal. Even so, we had a very good chance to draw the match. Things were really up and down on several boards, and it was certainly not a total domination by the Sharks. Board 4 once again proved to be the most crucial game of the round, but unfortunately this time it wasn’t such a happy ending. We are still doing well in our division, so there is a good chance to qualify if we start winning some important matches. Tomorrow’s match will be an exciting one against the New Jersey Knockouts, as we are apparently +1 against them and all the boards are pretty evenly matched on the whole. All eyes will be on board 4, of course.
Melik played his pet line (the Schliemann Defence) and sacrificed the e5 pawn out of the opening in exchange for the pair of bishops and quicker development. White accepted the sacrifice but things quickly simmered down after Black took the Knight on e5, transitioning into an opposite color bishop position. I thought White's best chance to win was to exchange the queens and aim for Black's weak h4 pawn, but Melik was able to build a nice fortress not allowing his opponent make any progress. Nice solid draw with black against a strong GM!
This was a strange game as somehow normal Ruy Lopez became very King's Indianesque. I think Andranik would have been much more comfortable playing this position as Black, since he's a good KID player himself. For a while, it looked like nothing was going on, up until White allowed the e3 breakthrough, which could have been stopped with the simple 42. Qe3 and Bd4 is impossible due to Qh6. Apparently this game won GOTW, but the judges didn't seem too enthusiastic about it.
I have played Nc6 against Nd2 French couple of times myself, but can't say I have much faith in the variation. The game seemed pretty uneventful for a while since White wasn't able to take advantage of the Black's king in the center right away. Black's inaccurate 44...Rc7 allowed White's g4 pawn push, followed by f5, weakening the whole King side. Something like 44...Rh8 would have been more accurate, keeping more pieces on the king side and discouraging White from opening up his king. White's 51. f6 was also a dubious decision, as after 51. fxe6, the e6 pawn is much harder to defend than the f7 pawn. After the exchange of the rooks and some more adventures, the game ended in a draw.
This had to be the most heartbreaking game of the match. After playing a really nice game and punishing his opponent for getting very adventurous with his king for no apparent reason, White reached a pawn endgame with an extra pawn. Either pawn endgames are tricky, or Mike had to pay his karmic duties after last week's swindle, but things turned sour when he decided to go after the queen side pawns and forgot about his opponent's king side breakthrough. Lesson learned: never forget to ask yourself what your opponent can do, even when you think you are completely winning.
This actually reminds me of a recent game I had where I was too down a pawn in a pawn endgame and my opponent found the most accurate way to play, except for one move. See if you can find the win yourself.
The solution can be found here: