Week 5 saw the Scorpions return to good form with a 3.5 to 0.5 decisive victory over the SF Mechanics.
It could have been 4-0 clean sweep as GM Jesse Kraai allowed Mac Molner a cute win just before the end.
Let’s see the games.
Arizona vs San Francisco
- IM Mackenzie Molner (ARZ) vs GM Jesse Kraai (SF) 1/2-1/2
- IM Dmitry Zilberstein (SF) vs IM Levon Altounian (ARZ) 0-1
- IM Mark Ginsburg (ARZ) vs FM Yian Liou (SF) 1-0
- NM Kesav Viswanadha (SF) vs WFM Amanda Mateer (ARZ) 0-1
Board 1 Molner – Kraai.
I have a weird typing (or brain?) problem – I always type Kraii and then have to correct it.
Molner did not feel like facing a French today.
Moves like this in the opening are usually not a good sign.
Altounian liked black at this stage. I thought white might have some counter-chances but objectively Levon is right.
24.Kxf2 Nd3+ 25.Ke2 Nxe5 26.Bc3 Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Nxc4 28.Bxc6 Rd8 29.Bd7 Kf7 30.Rf1+ Bf6 31.Ba4 Kg6 32.Bc2+ Kg5 33.Be1 Rb8 34.Kf3 Bb2 35.h4+ Kh6 36.Kg3 Be5+ 37.Kh3 Rb2 38.g5+ Kh5 39.Rf2 Ne3 40.Bxh7 Rxf2 41.Bxf2 Bd4 42.Bg8 Kg6
Rather humorously, 43. Bxe3 Bxe3 44. Kg4! wins here for white – a very geometric king trap. When the match is going so well, psychologically white is not so focused on finding some miracle win. Instead, the game took a more peaceful direction.
Board 2 Zilberstein – Altounian
Levon commented that his opponent’s style makes him look like Tal. Whoah!
Very strange Dutch / Queen’s Indian hybrid. Playable, I guess.
Around here, it is clear black is comfortable.
33.Ra3 Rxb2 34.Kg1 a6 35.Ra5 Kf7 36.Rxe5 Rxa2 37.Bh3 Bb3 38.Rc5 Rc2 39.Rf5+ Kg7 40.Rg5+ Kh6 41.Rf5 Rc6 42.Kf2 Kg6 43.Re5 b5 44.Ke3 Kf6 45.Rh5 Kg6 46.Re5 Bf7 47.Kf4 b4 48.Re7 Rb6 49.e5 Bg8 50.Bf5+ Kh6 51.e6 b3 52.Re8 Kg7 53.e7 Bf7 54.Rd8 Rb4+ 55.Ke3 Kf6 56.Bxh7 Kxe7 57.Ra8 Rb6 58.Kd2 b2 59.Bb1 Kf6 60.Kc3 Kg7 61.Rd8 a5 62.Rd2 Rb3+ 63.Kc2 a4
Like little beetles the pawns inch forward.
As Levon said, “The Dutch Lives.”
Board 3. Ginsburg – Liou
Black obviously had prepared this. So I just avoid most of the main things.
This move actually works out very well, the idea is to get on the b1 to h7 diagonal after clearing the N on b4.
14… a5! is called for with a solid game. The text is superficial.
GM Ilya Gurevich, curiously enough in San Francisco in the year 2000, told me about this maneuver in a similar position – the transformation of pawn structure if the d3 pawn becomes an e4 pawn is very strong here.
Bent Larsen was famous for using a- and h-pawns like this. Get them advanced, then good things will happen. In the USA, Eugene Meyer played in a very similar way in many games. In this game, it only takes 6 more moves to show how strong this pawn is.
Now black is in big trouble.
22… cxd4 23. cxd5 Qxe5 24. Bf4 works out very badly for black since d5-d6 is coming up.
Now black is in a total bind and white should easily win. But look how I mess it up!
Any good player knows not to release zugzwang. Black cannot move anything. First of all, 27. Ba5 wins easily. If 27. Ba5 Qd7 28. Qxd7 Nxd7 29. Red1! Bxd1 30. Rxd1 and wins. I saw this, but was “concerned” about 27. Ba5 Qc8. In that position, black still cannot move anything!
A little bit more thought reveals the immediate win 27. Ba5 Qc8 28. Red1!! Bxd1 29. Rxd1 and wins. Maybe this would put the game into the “good” category.
Another very, very easy win was the simple 27. b4!. If 27… cxb4 28. c5! wins. So black needs to play 27. b4 Rfc8 but after the sadistic 28. b5! and Ba5 coming, black is totally paralyzed and white concludes immediately. A sick computer line is 27. b4 Nd7 28. Ra5! and black collapses.
The text is a terrible, terrible move. I win the exchange but black “wins” the ability to move his remaining pieces. And this can cost dearly in a fast USCL time control! OK white is technically winning but this move is a travesty!
Moving the king to the a8-g2 diagonal is kind of ridiculous. The computer notices Re3 with a lift to the b-file as an easy win.
I saw 32. Bf4! easily winning but was “concerned” about 32… Bxf4 33. gxf4 Nb6. Why? 34. b3 wins easily. Very bad play by white.
If I am really interested in winning easily, I should now take that knight. 33. Bxb6 Bxb6 34. Ne5 and wins easily.
Why the heck am I moving the rook off the a-file? I am getting rattled.
Now I have to resort to tactics to keep a small edge. Boo!
38… Bb5 39. Rxa6 Bxa6 is a losing ending for black.
Now white plays on the trapped bishop on c7. Isn’t it ridiculous that I am playing on these small niceties rather than have black in full board zugzwang such as the game after 26 moves?
40… Rb1! 41. Rd7 Rb2+! 42. Kf3 Rxb3+ 43. Ke4 f5 checkmate (!) would be a “logical” end to my chaos. If I go 42. Kf1, then 42… Bxf4 and my winning chances are small. What a debacle!
43… Kg6! 44. Nxe6 Kf5! 45. Nxg7+ Kg4 and black retains chances to hold.
Leaving the king in the box is suicide.
The mating net takes shape.
Viswanadha-SF – Mateer-ARZ
As white, I wouldn’t want to commit to this so soon.
Without doing anything special, black has a good game.
16.Nd2 Rc8 17.Ne4 Ba3 18.Rc2 Qc6 19.Qg4 Bf8 20.Nd2 h5 21.Qg3 b5 22.Bxc4 Bxc4 23.Nxc4 Qxc4 24.Bd2 h4 25.Qe3 Be7 26.f4 g6 27.Rf3 Rh5 28.Qf2 Rd5 29.Rb2 a5 30.Kh2 a4 31.Be1 Qc7 32.Kh1 Qc4 33.Qe3 Ba3 34.Re2 Be7 35.Qe4 b4 36.cxb4 Rxd4 37.Qe3 Rd1 38.Kh2 Bxb4 39.Bxh4 Bc5 40.Qe4 Bg1+ 41.Kg3 Rd4 42.Qe5 Kd7 43.Qf6 Qxe2 44.Qxf7+ Kc6 45.Bf6 Rd3 46.Rxd3 Qxd3+ 47.Kg4 Qe2+ 48.Kg3 Qd3+ 49.Kg4 Qf5+ 50.Kg3 Be3 51.Kh2 Qxf4+ 52.Kh1 Qf1+ 53.Kh2 Bf4+ 54.g3 Qf2+ 55.Kh1 Qf3+ 56.Kg1 Qxg3+ 57.Kf1 Qxh3+ 58.Ke1 Qe3+ 59.Kf1 Rb8 60.Qxg6 Qf3+ 61.Ke1 Qg3+
The queens finally come off.
That was a satisfying match, although I nearly blew my game. Wow. The missed mate by Molner was a humorous footnote in USCL annals. I think we came a long way (but not all the way) towards erasing the ludicrous match loss last week to the Mott Applesauce.