Instructive Moments From The 2012 Sudbury Championship

NM ih8sens
Nov 8, 2012, 6:13 PM |

A few selected instructive positions from the 2012 Sudbury Chess Championship.

Position 1 - Nicholson - Kiviaho, Move 1







Why So Instructive?

Not so long ago, the only opening move I was able to play without sacrificing my own abilities was 1. e4.  By learning how to play the English, Queen's Pawn openings, and variants/transpositions for both, I'm able to play not only to my own strengths, but to my opponents weaknesses.  I'm also able to 'play to mood'.  If I feel like tactics, I can always play e4.  If I want something slower, or maybe I just want to avoid super sharp theoretical lines against some well-booked opponent, I can always open Nf3 and transpose my way around any preparation.  Although I cannot recommend studying theory in a million different openings below the master level, I do believe that playing multiple different first moves will enable a player to experience a wider array of middle game positions, and ultimately improve understanding in all three phases of the game.

Position 2 - Fleming - Nicholson, Move 7







Why So Instructive? 

It's easier to attack than defend.  7. ... Be7 Showed an improvement in my understanding since last year.  It was possible for black to win a pawn with 7. ... dxc4 8. Bxc4 Nxd4.  And in fact, the computer slightly prefers this to my move.  Declining the pawn was instructive because of the insight it showed.  Black understood that the game was headed towards a position where the d4 pawn would be an isolated queen's pawn.  Black also knew that the bishop would be even more stupidly placed in an IQP position, where tempo means everything, than it is now.  And so black had to decide between two roughly equal positions: one where he is up a pawn but being attacked, or another where material is even, but black has an initiative against an IQP.  In declining the hanging pawn, black gave himself a very straightforward game, while white was stuck in a position where it was easy to make a handful of dubious moves.  Black made the most practical choice for tournament play.

Position 3 - Nicholson - Kiviaho, Move 12







Why So Instructive? 

You are looking at a roughly equal position.  White has probably kept a very small opening advantage due to an over-optimistic 'tempo move' by black.  The reason black managed to lose so quickly, though, is because white has a very clear plan.  White is building his game around controlling the d5 square.  This central strategy restrics black's pieces, gives white a space advantage, and may eventually cause problems down the semi-open file.  Rc1 solidifies control of the d5 square, and puts black under massive positional pressure.  How?  Well, the key to controlling d5, is my c4 pawn.  With a rook behind the C pawn, and especially with black's queen sitting on the same file, any move designed to displace the C pawn, namely b5 and d5, is greatly discouraged.  As the game went on to show, a rook on c1 also opens up the possibility of opening the C file by placing a knight on d5.  Ultimately, this mysterious rook move secures me a clear plan, and forces black into a more passive plan of rerouting the c6 knight.  A plan black failed to find in the game.

Instructive Position 4 - Fleming - Nicholson, Endgame Blunder







Why So Instructive?

This particular 4 on 3 rook endgame was theoretically drawn.  White failed to find the correct defensive set up.  The key is knowing two things: One, defending a 3 on 2 is way easier than a 4 on 3.  Two, the defending side cannot allow the attacking side to gain too much space.  With these two things in mind then, the drawing move in this position was not f4.  f4 Allowed me to gain space with my rook, cut off the white king, and avoid any pawn trades.  A strong endgame player would have played h4! aiming for an f2-g3-h4 pawn structure, and making it impossible for black to gain space without allowing pawn trades.  Once this structure is achieved, the draw would virtually play itself.  Aiming for the same structure by first playing g3 would also be instructive, as black would then play g5! and prevent (discourage) white from playing his pawn to h4.  After the blunder pawn to f4, I was able to win quickly.


Instructive Position 5 - Nicholson - Kiviaho, Move 15







Why So Instructive?

Really, the culmination of a strong positional plan.  White has achieved good piece placement, and complete domination of the d5 square.  Although I will not claim that chess always works this way, in this case domination of the center and especially d5, resulted in a win on the d5 square.  This temporary piece sacrifice dislodged the e6 pawn, and white was able to turn to the f5 square to win the game.  The game continued 15. ... exd5 16. cxd5 Qb8 17. Nf5! Re8? 18. dxc6 Bxc6 19. e5! and white won.  A great example of how prophylaxis in the center often results in explosive attacks on the kingside.


A very exciting tournament from my standpoint.  My other two games were not particularly instructive, mostly because they were quite short/routine/filled with blunders.  I feel I played fairly well, and I'm quite happy with my new 2142 rating.  

I hope these five instructive positions really did prove instructive to you.