Report out from USATE

Report out from USATE

NM RobKing
Feb 19, 2013, 11:12 AM |

This was my first year attending the US Amateur Team East tournament and it was awesome, despite a poor personal performance. The tournament is extremely well organized and the energy level is unparalled. The Parsippany Hilton was a great venue with a nice lobby for skittles and bughouse. The main playing hall was enormous and I liked that the top boards were roped off to help distractions. There was a convenient place to buy tea and drinks and there was even a pizza vendor in the lobby to make getting a quick late night snack very easy. On Sunday night, I participated in the bughouse tournament that my teammate, Denys Shmelov, and I finished in the top 5 with a 4/5 score.

My team, "We'll Mate You Til You Love Us", played behind the ropes for all rounds except 1 and finished with an unbeaten 4.5/6. The team consisted of SM Denys Shmelov on board 1, NM Greg Kaden on board 2, myself on board 3, and Todd Chase on board 4. Todd had an excellent tournament, finishing unbeaten and proving to be the team anchor. Denys and Greg also had strong tournaments and had I not had such a dismal rounds 2-4 we surely would have been in contention for top prizes.

By far my most interesting game came in the last round where a win with the black pieces gave us a match draw with losses on boards 1 and 2 and wins on 3 and 4.

 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Bg7 6.O-O a6 7.a4 e6 8.d3 Nge7 9.Qe1 O-O 10.f5!?

I was visibly shaken from this move. I knew that objectively it was not supposed to be sound, but I could not remember why. Therefore, I spent almost 1 hour figuring out how to respond. Most important lesson I can stress to anybody is that when you are faced with a difficult decision is to spend the time to figure it out. I understood that I would be in time pressure later in the game but it's better that than losing out of the opening.  


After going in the tank for an hour, I respond correctly. Note that the natural 10. ... exf5?? is a blunder as now it is practically impossible to defend against the impending Qh4,Bg5, and Nd5 as well as mating threats revolving around Ng5. 10 . ... gxf5 is technically sound says the computer, but I am human, so d5 the most logical. By striking back in the center I am attempting to undermine white's pawn structure so that I can safely place a piece on f5. There are clearly variations and details to check but the basis is realize that my problem is my inability to place my knight on f5. By playing d5 and taking on e4, I am able to accomplish this goal and stop the immediate danger.

11.Bb3 dxe4 12.f6!?

A very interesting intermezzo and the best practical decision. White decides to eliminate the defender of the dark squares.

12...exf3! 13.fxg7 Qd4+

This was another key resource that led me to play 10. ...d5 because now I am able to switch my queen to attempt to guard the dark squares. Expensive defense, but better than the alternative.

14.Be3 Qxg7 15.Rxf3 Nd4 16.Rf2 Nef5 17.Ne4 b6 18.g4!  


Not entirely unexpected still very strong. I had expected 18. a5 first but I intended 18. ... Bb7 ( 18.a5 Bb7 19.axb6 Nxb3 20.cxb3 Bxe4 21.dxe4 Nxe3 22.Qxe3 Qd4 23.Qxd4 cxd4 24.Rc2 Rfb8 25.Rc6 { with a complicated and most likely equal rook endgame.)

18...Nxe3 19.Nf6+ Kh8 20.Qxe3 Bb7 21.a5 b5 22.Nd7?  

The computer may agree with this idea, but I do not.

The knight on f6 is a beast and is worth far more than a little rook with no open files.


22...Rfc8 23.Nb6?

White continues with the wrong idea.

23...Rf8 24.Nxa8 Bxa8 25.Raf1 Kg8??

This was a result of not being able to find a single useful move. In the game, my opponent missed the opportunity to play Ba2 followed by c3. The computer recommends either ...f5 or ...f6 but this seemed loosening and undesirable to me.


26. Ba2 was the correct idea followed by c3. 26. Rf6 was also very strong although I can understand wanting to shy away from having to calculating ...Nf5 , trapping the rook on f6, on each move. Now, the initiative switches to black!

26...Nxb3 27.cxb3 Qd4!

The centralization of the Queen proves to be extremely strong. White's pawn structure is in tatters and now the weak light squares around the White King gives black the opportunity to pose massive problems. At this point, my opponent returned all the time advantage he had and started to get into big time trouble at the worst time.

28.Qf4 Qd5 29.Qe4 Qxb3 30.Qe5 Qxd3 31.Qxc5??

Now the game is decided. Here White had a perpetual check tactic that would save the game. I considered it briefly during the game but it was unavoidable and both of us had only minutes left to make time control. ( 31.Rxf7!! Rxf7 32.Qb8+ Kg7 33.Qe5+  is a draw! 


31...Qe4 32.Rf3 Qxg4+

Now it's a mop up.

33.Rg3 Qe4 34.Rgf3 Qc4 35.Qxc4 bxc4 36.Rc3?!

An inaccuracy with less than 1 minute on the clock. 36. Rf4 was more active or Rf6 to entrap the king.

36...Bd5 37.Kf2 Rb8 38.Rc2 Rb5 39.Ra1

Now both Rooks are tied up and are inactive.

39...f5 40.Ke3 Kf7

Now we've made time control and the result was never in doubt. There's little sense in continuing the game as it was just execution. I'm sure if it weren't a team tournament, my opponent would have resigned much earlier.  0-1