Week 6 Recap: vs. North Carolina
Things really turned around for us after last week’s match: we are now tied for 2nd-3rd, a big upgrade (unlike iOS7) from being in last place the week before. The match was rocky as usual, and at some point things were looking questionable on several of the boards, but with some resilience and fighting spirit, we were able to come through and win the match. Tomorrow we have an important match against New England Nor’Easters and hopefully we can keep the winning streak going (or what I hope will turn into a winning streak). It’s going to be more or less an even match on every board, so I’m really excited about it as things are starting to heat up. OK, moving on to recapping each game individually.
Board 1: Harmon-Vellotti – Schroer 1-0
I thought this game would end in a draw, but maybe Black felt the pressure to mix things up as this was one of the last games going, and North Carolina was down 0-2. White played the less popular 6.d4, followed by even less popular 9. Bxc6, resulting in a Berlinesque/Exchange Lopezesque position. I actually really liked how Black was playing and thought that it’s not really the type of position White wants to get, but then all of a sudden White had a protected passed pawn. a nice outpost for the knight on f4 and a bunch of pawns to attack on the queen side. White played very patiently and was able to squeeze the full point.
Board 2: Mo – Remlinger 0:1
I loved, loved, loved this game and yes, mainly because it was a French. And apparently I wasn’t the only one, as the game was chosen for GOTW competition. Before the game Larry complimented my chess.com videos, so I was a little heartbroken to see 3…Nc6 instead of a Winawer, but the way Black played is a classic way to play the French. I’m really not sure about the opening and this Nc6 move, but I really like 11..a6, with the idea of stopping Nb5 after Bd6 and during the game was really hoping Larry would play it (maybe I should pay more attention to my own game?). Of course, 15…Rf3! is a classic sacrifice in the French, and I love how Black played it even before playing Bd7. Black was able to build up a nice attack and won the game pretty effortlessly.
Board 3: Abrahamyan – Cunningham ½
I played uncomfortable right out of the opening, as I looked up the line before the game without really understanding the basic ideas. I feel as though my opponent made all the right positional decisions and exchanged all the right pieces, leaving me with an awkward dark square bishop. Luckily, I’m no stranger to having bad pieces out of the opening, so I just tried to play solidly and not let my position collapse. Instead of 35…Bf4, Black could have won a pawn with the immediate 35…Bc1!, and now 36. Na5 is impossible due to 36…Bb2! 37. Nb7 Bc3 winning back the rook and capturing all my pawns. There was another interesting moment after I played 25. Ne5, where Black could have taken on e5 following by Rd5, going for a good knight v. bad bishop type of endgame. For a lot of playing, exchanging bishops for knights, especially the fianchettoed ones, is not an easy decision, but it is definitely a good positional example of what pieces to exchange.
Board 4: Jones – Amerkeshev 0:1
After seeing how Black’s knight were prancing around all over the board, while his king was still in the center, I really thought we were going to lose on this board. I think Black played the opening to carelessly with moves like 6…h6 and 8…Qc7, which allowed White to blow up the center and take advantage of Black’s king in the center. Black start doing some damage by sacrificing a pawn to quickly castle, but I think he should have taken the d3 pawn after throwing in 16…a5 17.a4 (so the knight doesn’t get trapped after a3). If you’re going to take so many risks in the opening, might as well go all the way. I really thought Black didn’t have much for the game, but he managed to slowly put his pieces on good squares, and after White’s 29.g4??, his king became too vulnerable and Black’s bishops became monstrous. Definitely an up and down a game, but certainly an entertaining one!