USCL Week 4 Opening of the Week
Molner (NJ) – Herman (NY) Sicilian Najdorf Bg5 AND Bc4 Combo Platter
It’s always entertaining when an ersatz pioneer “wings it” in a sharp opening, essentially making things up to confuse. It didn’t work out in Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs Ludwig (DAL) in a prior week’s Najdorf, but this time around white has better luck.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Bc4 A strange two bishop combo platter to see if white can confuse. It is a worthwhile try in this crazy USCL time limit!
Not the cleanest solution but perfectly OK. First of all, 8…b5? 9. Bxe6 is bad. How do we know? Because Polugaevsky himself lost to Tseitlin once in 1971 starting from here; the sacrifice is strong. 8…b5? is too much provocation. Black’s game move is fine. However, in Najdorfs, do as Gelfand does! 8….Qb6! and after 9. Bb3 Be7 white has zero, as has been proven in a bunch of games. After 10. f5, lurching forward, both 10…Nc5 (Ljubojevic-Gheorghiu, Palma 1972) and 10…e5 are fine for black. Going back, after 8…Qb6! 9. Bxf6 Nxf6 10. Bb3 black is fine, Beliavsky-Gelfand Linares 1994. He played 10…e5 eventually drawing but had 10..Be7 (more normal) as well. Finally, 8…Qb6! 9. Qd2? Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qxa3 is just a really bad Poisoned Pawn line for white. It wasn’t poisoned.
9.e5 h6 10.Bh4 g5? This is the culprit. Too much junior energy. The simple 10…dxe5! 11. dxe5 g5 leaves white with zero after 12. Bf2 Nfe4 or 12. exf6 gxh4 13. O-O h3!.
11.fxg5 Nfe4? A sharp position cannot stand two blunders in a row. The positional problem is 11…dxe5 12. Nf3! with a significant white edge. BUT black had to play this as his move just goes down the drain.
12.Qh5 And white is winning. But one more cool moment coming up.
12…hxg5 13.Qxh8 gxh4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.exd6? Here the shot 15. Bxe6!! demolishes black in short order and may have won Molner GOTW.
15…Nxd6? 15…Qxd6 and white is only somewhat better, nothing decisive.
16.Be2 Qg5 17.Nf3 Qa5+ 18.c3 Bd7 19.Qxh4 Nf5 20.Qg5 Qb6 21.Ne5 Qxb2 22.0-0 Qxe2 23.Rae1 Qb5 24.Qf6 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 Nd6 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qf6+ Ke8 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Qxa8 Be8 30.Qb8 Qa5 31.Rd1 Ba3 32.Rxd6 Bxd6 33.Qxd6+ Black resigns 1-0
In Other Matters: A Nonsensical Sveshnikov Makes an Appearance
Arizona lost narrowly AGAIN 1.5 – 2.5, this time versus the Baltimore Kingfishers. The match was very tightly contested.
I was very surprised to read a passage on the Baltimore blog, “Now, as the match began, the players clearly made adjustments for the shorter (60/30) time control as they moved quickly through their openings, especially FM Shinsaku Uesugi, who had specifically prepared much of the Sveshnikov line he played on Board 4. He appeared quite calm and strolled about observing the other three games until about 24. Nb6. He had the worse position until NM Leo Martinez played 37. h4? instead of h3!”
This might make sense if we didn’t have access to the game score. But what actually happened is that Uesugi played a well-known completely losing move on move 16.
In the opening, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.c3 Bg7 12.exf5 Bxf5 13.Nc2 0-0 14.Nce3 Be6 15.Bd3 f5 16.0-0 f4? Yes, this really happened.
The game continued with white finding the correct response 17.Qh5! and now
17…Rf7 (forced) 18.Bxh7+ (sadly, 18. Qxh7+ and Bg6 next is also completely winning with similar lines) 18…Kf8 19.Bf5 and yes, White played fine and this is winning (although 19. Bg6 ALSO winning is more to my taste than the game 19. Bf5, as it allows less – I refer you to a computer to point out some really crunching lines where white just leaves the N/e3 hanging, since fxe3 fxe3 is always suicide for black) until the possible 3-fold repetition came up on moves 22 and 23. It’s hard in a team event to know what to do – white is lower rated going in, and a draw in the abstract seems really good and IS good, for our team. But white’s position is so good! Our fourth board spaced out at this juncture for many minutes, not really looking at the board, just well…spacing out. Robby, our third board, and I noticed this and we each started praying indepedently he would repeat. The tough thing was none of boards 1, 2, or 3 were clear at all at this specific juncture. -it was still the early going In the USCL time limit nothing is “winning” unless a player is likely to have a firm handle on all the tactics (see Benjamin-Kacheishvili, NJ vs NY Week 4, for an example of time pressure ruining a well played effort by white). But our 4th board in the end did not repeat, and it was pretty much a given considering his mental state he wouldn’t sense all the tactics and tricks coming up. He wasn’t focused at all on his board. That’s exactly what happened; he missed a pretty simple tactic a few moves later and lost (by this time having very little time, since he spent a lot of time during the big space-out). So in a twisted sense the Uesugi high-level bluff (’prepping’ a losing move?!?) paid off big-time for Baltimore since it put our fourth board into deep orbit when the possible repetition came up. I looked up this 16…f4? unsound line and found an instructive game – see Postscript.
Postscript: The Jansa Solution
The solution to the “Uesugi Problem” aka “Uesugi Bluff” was shown to us in 1996 by veteran GM Vlastimil Jansa. I found this game lurking in some old ChessBase database. In this game, Jansa shows fantastic tactical foresight. Here is what happened in Jansa-Salai Hungarian League 1996. I would assume this is in Sveshnikov handbooks, but readers, can you confirm that Jansa-Salai made it into the textbooks…?
18. Bxh7+ Kf8 19. Bg6! Raa7 (nothing better) 20. Bf5!! A fantastic switch. Why lure the rook to a7 you ask? You’ll see! 20…Rxf5 21. Nxf5 Bxd5 22. Rfd1! Bf7 23. Qh7 Bg8 24. Qg6 and white win in short order as black collapses on the d6 point (that was the game continuation). A very creative attack by Jansa. But if black follows the “Uesugi plan” and plays 18. Bxh7+ Kf8 19. Bg6! Raa7 20. Bf5!! Qe8, then white shows the brilliance of his 19th and 20th move conception. He plays 21. Bxe6 Qxe6 22. Qg4 and look! Black can’t follow Martinez-Uesugi with 22…Qh6 due to 23. Qc8+ and mate! Wow! So it helped white to have the rook move up to a7! A fantastic conception to play 19. Bg6 and then 20. Bf5! If 22…Qe8, for example, 23. Nc2 and white is winning. So white just has a pawn up and all the light squares in an ending.
In case you are wondering, for completeness we have to look at one other defense, one that Salai avoided for good reason in the 1996 Jansa game. 18. Bxh7+ Kf8 19. Bg6 fxe3 20. fxe3 Raa7 loses to the nice domination 21. Bxf7 Rxf7 22. Rxf7+ Bxf7 23. Rf1 Qd7 24. Qg6 Nd8 25. b4 Ne6 26. Qg4 Qe8 (26…Ke8 27. Qxg7!! wins) 27. h4 and black is in total zugzwang!