I had Black in the final round against Matthew Marsh. I had figured that he would be my main competition this year, but his upset loss in the first round against Bejnood gave me draw odds for this game. Still, I knew it would be a tough battle as he was in good form, having taken clear first in the U2100 section at Kings Island the weekend before this game was played. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 He's played the Saemisch the past few years, so we haven't continued our debate in the 4 Pawns Attack 5... O-O 6. Be3 c5 7. Nge2 Qa5 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. d5 Ne5 10. Ng3 10. Nc1 is more common, but the text scores about the same in the database 10... a6 11. Be2 Bd7 12. a4 b5!? An ambitious move. The Benko formation should be fine for Black with the knight a bit offside on g3, but White does get to plug the b-file with a piece on b5. A more solid move was 12... Qb4, which is the typical move versus 10. Nc1. Here, it is probably even stronger since White doesn't have b3 available, it looks like he has to play 13. Nd1, which shouldn't trouble Black.
13. cxb5 axb5 14. Nxb5 Rfb8 15. O-O Ne8 16. Ra3 I thought 16. Qxa5 Rxa5 17. Bd2 Raa8 18. Bc3 was a better formation for the White pieces as was played in Gordon-Hebden, England 2004 16... Qxd2 17. Bxd2 c4 18. Rb1 Bxb5 I was wary of giving White 2 passed pawns after 18... Nd3 19. Bxd3 cxd3 but the engine thinks Black is fine after 20. Nc3 (20. Kf2) 20... Bd4+ 21. Kf1 Bc5 19. axb5 Nc7 20. Rxa8 Nxa8 21. b3 Afterwards he preferred the immediate 21. b4; White doesn't get anywhere with 21. Ra1 Nc7 22. Ra7 Nxb5 23. Rxe7 Kf8 ( or 23... Nd3) 21... Rxb5 22. b4 e6 Thematic, but 22... Nb6 23. Rc1 Nd3 24. Bxd3 (24. Rxc4 Nxc4 25. Bxd3 Nxd2 26. Bxb5 Bd4+ 27. Kh1 Bc3=) 24... cxd3 25. Kf2 f5 was a reasonable alternative 23. dxe6 fxe6 24. f4 Nd3 25. Bxd3 cxd3 26. Rb3 Nc7 27. Rxd3 d5 28. exd5
28... Nxd5 This causes me to have to take a bit of care. Instead, I should have kept Ng3 restrained by 28... exd5 I didn't play this because I was concerned about 29. Ne2 Na6 30. Nd4 missing that I could answer this with 30...Nxb4 29. Ne4 Bf8 29... Nxb4 30. Rd8+ Bf8 31. Ng5 is unnecessarily dangerous 30. Ng5 Bxb4 31. Nxe6 Bxd2 32. Rxd2 Rb6 33. Rxd5 There really isn't much for White in the rook ending. He should have tried to also keep knights on, although Black is still holding after 33. Re2 Kf7 34. Ng5+ Kf6 35. Nxh7+ Kg7 36. Ng5 Nxf4 or 35. g3 h6 36. Ne4+ Kf5 37. Kg2 In the latter line, Black must still take some care, for example 37...g5?! 38. fxg5 hxg5 39. Nxg5 33... Rxe6 34.Kf2 I expected 34.Rd8+ Kg7 35.Rd7+ Kg8 as a better try gaining a tempo on the game 34... h5 35.Rd7 Re4 36.Kf3 Ra4 37.Kg3 Rb4 38.Kf3 1/2-1/2
I had White in Round 4 against Alborz Bejnood. He was the big surprise in this year's Championship. He was the first player to qualify this year, by winning the January tournament, and started the Championship with 3 wins including an upset of Matthew Marsh. He achieved difficult positions in all of his games, but as the present game demonstrates, he showed a considerable amount of resilience under fire. 1. d4 e6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 exd5 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bd6 6. g3 Qe7 A very unusual move, I decided to grab the 2 bishops and gain a lot of time developing 7. Nb5 Na6 8. Bg2 Nc7 9. Nxd6+ Qxd6 10. Bf4 Qb6 11. d6 Ne6 12. Be5 Ng4 13. Bc3 f6 14. Nf3 Nh6 15. Qd2 Nf7 16. Rd1 a5 17. Bh3 Ned8 18. Qe3+ Ne6 19. Qd3 Nf8 20. Nh4 Ra6 21. Nf5 Ne6 22. Ne7?!
I thought this was a clincher , but there is a tactical hole. Better was either 22. Qf3 or 22. O-O leaving Black struggling to unwind 22... Qxd6 guarding the bishop loses 22... Qd8 23. Nxc8 Qxc8 24. Bxe6; 22... Ra8 23. Nxc8 Rxc8 24. Bxe6; or 22... Kd8 23. Bxe6 dxe6 24. d7 Kxe7 25. dxc8=N+ Rxc8 26. Qd7+ 23. Nxc8 Qc6 Even if White was castled here, the knight still can't get out from c8 24. Bg2 Qxc8 25. Qb5?! A silly move that drops a couple of tempi 25. O-O and the 2 bishops give compensation for the pawn. 25... Nd6 26. Qd3 O-O I thought 26... b5 mobilizing the queenside was better. 27. a4 Re8 28. O-O Ng5 29. Bd5+ Kh8 30. f3 c4 31. Qc2 Qc5+ 32. Kg2 Ne6 33. e4 b5 34. axb5 Nxb5 35. Be1
35...Nbd4? The knight on d6 had been holding Black's position together, and it should have returned there. 36. Qxc4 Qxc4 37. Bxc4 Rc6 38. Bxe6 Rc2+ 39. Rf2 Rxf2+ 40. Bxf2 Nxe6 41. Rxd7 Ra8 42. Re7 Nf8 43. Ra7 Rxa7 44. Bxa7 Nd7 45. f4 Kg8 46. Kf3 Kf7 47. Ke3 Ke6 48. Kd4 Kd6 49. Kc4 Kc6 50. Bd4 Nb6+ 51. Bxb6 Kxb6 52. Kd5 Kc7 53. Ke6 Kc6 54. e5 Kc5 55. Kf7 fxe5 56. fxe5 [1:0]
I had Black again in Round 3, against the other alternate player, Robert Hydzik. He did better in the Championship this year, but his attempt to 3-peat as Knoxville Amateur Champion fell short. 1. c4 g6 2. g3 Bg7 3. Bg2 Nf6 Deviating from 3... e5, which I played against him in last year's Championship. 4. Nc3 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. d4 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. e4 c6 13. Ne3 Qb6 14. Qc2 Nc5
15. b3 A game between noted players had gotten this far. 15. Rad1 was played by future FIDE president Florencio Campomanes against the famous grandmaster Miguel Najdorf in the 1960 Olympiad 15... Ne6 16. Rad1 a5 More consistent was 16... Nd4 17. Rd2 a4 18. Rb1 axb3 19. axb3 Qb4 20. Qb2 Nc5 21. Nc2 Qb6 22. Nfe1 f5 23. b4 23. exf5 opens the position for Black's bishops, so he decided to give up a pawn and set up a blockade on e3. 23... Nxe4 24. Bxe4 fxe4 25. Ne3 Bh3 introducing tactics based on Qxe3 26. N1c2 I thought his best chance for counterplay was to get a knight to d6, so he should probably play c5 at some point 26... Rad8 27. Rbd1 Rd3 My original intention was 27....Rxd2 28. Rxd2 Rd8 trading all the rooks, but I thought the text was stronger, occupying the d-file. However, I missed a small tactical idea.
28. Qa2 He also missed 28. Rxd3 exd3 29. Qb3 regaining the pawn, but with 2 bishops against 2 knights, this should still be very good for Black 28... Qd8 29. Ne1 Rd4 30. Qb3? a bad blunder in a difficult position 30... Rxd2 [0:1]
In round 2, I had Black against Kipp Bynum. Last year, he was a big surprise in the Championship and came out as the rating winner. He got in as an alternate this year when Leonard Dickerson and Boris Fine were unable to play, but had a rough time of it in this year's stronger edition, failing to score. 1. e4 e5 2. c4 Nc6 3. g3 g6 Putting the bishop on the a7-g1 diagonal with 3... Bc5 is also fine, but I decided to play a familiar formation 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Ne2 d6 6. O-O Be6 7. d3 Qd7 8. Nbc3 Bh3 9. Bd2 9. Be3 is a more normal square for the bishop 9... h5 10. Kh1 h4 11. Ng1 Bg4 12. Qc1 Nd4 with the idea of h3 13. Re1 13. h3 or 13. f3 both lose to 13...hxg3 13... Ne7 14. Bg5 hxg3 15. fxg3 f6 16. Bd2 again 16. Be3 is a better square 16... O-O-O 17. Nd1 Rxh2+
18. Kxh2 Rh8+ 19. Nh3 Bxh3 20. Nf2 Bg4+ 21. Kg1 Ne2+ 22. Kf1?? A horrible blunder, which I thought would mean a quick end to the game 22. Rxe2 Bxe2 is also winning for Black, but it would then be reasonable to play on. After the text, he could comfortably resign at any point, but drags it all the way out to mate. I guess he wanted to get his money's worth after our short game last year. 22... Nxc1 23. Raxc1 Nc6 24. b4 Nd4 25. Re3 Bh6 26. a3 Bxe3 27. Bxe3 Be2+ 28. Ke1 Rh2 29. Bf1
29... Bg4 I spent a little time on the spectacular looking 29... Qg4 but missed that 30. Kd2 (30. Bxd4 Qxg3) could be met by 30... Bxf1 and White is pinned along the 7th rank. 30. b5 Nf3+ 31. Kd1 Ng1+ 32. Kd2 Bh3 33. Be2 Nxe2 34. Kxe2 Qg4+ 35. Kd2 Qxg3 36. Rc2 Rxf2+ 37. Bxf2 Qxf2+ 38. Kc3 Qxc2+ 39. Kxc2 f5 40. exf5 Bxf5 41. Kd2 g5 42. Ke2 g4 43. Kf2 Bxd3 44. c5 dxc5 45. Kg3 c4 46. Kxg4 c3 47. Kf3 c2 48. Ke3 c1=Q+ 49. Kxd3 Qf4 50. Ke2 e4 51. Ke1 Qh2 52. Kf1 e3 53. Ke1 Qf2+ 54. Kd1 Qd2# [0:1]
In the first round, I had White against Corry Marsh, the younger brother of Matthew Marsh, who has played in the Championship several times. Corry's plan for this year was to try to qualify for the Championship by getting the wild card spot for the most points scored in the qualifying events without qualifying from won. He was on the way to this when he upset Boris Fine in the final round of the July qualifier to gain his spot in the Championship.
Unfortunately, he got off to a rough start in the tournament as I got a full point without having to do any work when he repeated a bad line I had previously beaten a couple of times. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Be3 I played 7. Nf3 c5 8. Rb1 in the May qualifier, but he seemed pretty well prepared there, so I decided to throw a different variation at him this time 7... c5 8. Qd2 Qa5 9. Rb1 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qxd2+ 11. Kxd2 b6 About 10 days later he played the normal 11... O-O against me in our game at Webb School. 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. Nf3 O-O 14. Rhc1 Nc6 15. d5 Ne5 Black has played sensible looking moves so far, but after the text he loses material. However, the alternative 15... Na5 16. Rc7 is nice for White too. 16. Rc7 Nxd3 17. Rxb7
Instead of recapturing the knight, White takes the bishop hitting e7 and leaving Nd3 without a good place to go. Remarkably, this was the 3rd time I had reached this position. 17...Ne5 17... Nc5 18. Bxc5 bxc5 19. Rxe7 Rfe8 20. Rbb7 Rxe7 21. Rxe7 a5 22. Rc7 Bf8 23. Kc2 Re8 24. e5 h6 25. d6 Kg7 26. Rxc5 a4 27. d7 Rd8 28. Rc7 Be7 29. Nd4 Kf8 30. Nc6 1-0 was Bereolos-Murray in the 2000 Knoxville Championship Qualifier 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 19. Rxe7 Rfe8 20. Rxe8+ Rxe8 21. f4 Bg7
The first new move. 21... Bb8 22. Rc1 Kf8 23. Kd3 Ke7 24. e5 Kd7 25. Ke4 f6 26. Bd4 fxe5 27. fxe5 Re7 28. e6+ 1-0 was Bereolos -Sherwood 2000 US Open 22. Kd3 Rc8 23. Rc1 Rxc1 24. Bxc1 Kf8 25. Kc4 a6 26. Be3 Bh6 27. g3 Ke7 28. Bxb6 g5 29. Be3 gxf4 30. Bxf4 Kd7? 31. Bxh6 [1:0]
The annual Kings Island Open was held in the middle of last month. Attendance still seemed down, but the open section was pretty strong with GMs Kaidanov, Sadvakasov, and Goldin at the top of the wall chart. I drove up Friday and played the evening round even though I didn't arrive as early as I should have. In the first round I had Black in a very complex game versus Garrett Smith. My king had floated in the center for most of the game and even a queen exchange didn't give me full relief after 27...Ne6
28. Bd7 Black wriggles out after 28. Nd7 Bxf2+ 29. Kxf2 Rb2+ 30. Kf1 Rxc6 28... Rxc3 29. Nc6+ Kxd7 30. Nxb8+ Kc8 31. Na6 Nf4 I didn't want to allow a rook exchange, but 31... Rc2 32. Rec1 Rxc1+ 33. Rxc1+ Kb7 may be an improvement 32. Ra2 This was accompanied by a draw offer. I had less than 5 minutes to reach move 40, and accepted it. It was probably better to activate the rook and not be concerned with the attack on f2 32. Re7 Rc2 33. Rxf7 Rxf2 (33... Nd3 34. Rxg7 Nxf2 35. Kf1) 34. Kh1 looks better for White. After the text, things are more complicated. We spent a long time in postmortem trying to figure out what was going on, but didn't reach any definite conclusions. After the obvious 32... Nd3 we mainly focused on 33. Rf1 Kb7 34. g3 Nc1 (34... Nxf2!? is interesting 35. Rfxf2 Rf3 36. Nb4 a5 37. Nd5 Rxf2 38. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 39. Kxf2 Kc6 40. Nc3 Kc5 and despite his piece deficit, Black appears to be doing fine as the a-pawn will tie down the White king and knight while Black can create another passer on the kingside, so White probably has to go 35. Kg2 instead) when the game could end in repetition after 35. Ra1 Nd3. Instead, the engine likes 33. Rb1 Kb7 34. h4 with small advantage to White.
I was on the other side of an exchange up position in Round 2 with White versus Kasun Waidyaratne. In this case it was probably better to play more defensively, but I went for active play for my rooks and he had full compensation after 25...Rxb2
26. Re1? 26. Nxf7 Nh3 27. Nh6+ Kf8 28. Rf7+ Ke8 29. Re1+ Kd8 is about equal 26... Nh3! I only expected 26...Nd3 27.Re8+ Kg7 28.Rxf7+ Kh6 29.Ne4 and all the key squares are covered. It took me awhile to appreciate the difference 27. Re8+ Kg7 28. Rxf7+ Kh6 29. Rb7 The vicious point is 29. Ne4 Bg1 and White is helpless to defend against mate on h2 29...Rxa2 30. Nf7+ Kh5 31. Rb1 Nf2+ 32. Kg2 Ne4+ 33. Kh3 Nd2 34. Rd1 Nxf3 35. Kg3 Ng5 36. Nd6 h6 37. Rd3? Ra6? Black could have finished things off with the same 37... Bg1 move that was the key earlier. After the text, I managed to grovel my way to an eventual draw.
After two complex draws, I reached a more dry position in Round 3 as White against Fred Allsbrook after 20. Re2
With the symmetrical pawn structure without queens, one might think that not much is going on. However, White has some annoying pressure. White is planning to double on the e-file, Black would like to neutralize this with a rook exchange, but 20... Bd7 21. Rxe8+ either a7 or f5 drops or 20... Bf8 21. Rde1 Red8 22. Rxe6 Rxd4 23. Bxf5 when 23...Rxc4 24. Re8 is very strong for White. He decided to block the attack on a7 then guard f5, but this left a weakness on b5. 20...c5 21. Bf2 g6 21... Bd7 22. Rxe8+ Rxe8 23. Nb5 Bxb5 24. cxb5 g6 25. Bc4 is comfortable for White. 22. Nb5 Bd7 23. Nxd6 Nxd6 24. Bxc5 and I converted the extra pawn.
The next morning I forgot my opening preparation as Black against Christopher Nienhart and fell into a very passive ending. After 25...Re8 he went in for a forcing continuation to try to finish the game
26. Nc5 Instead, I was much more afraid of 26. c5 Be6 27. Nd6 Re7 while in the postmortem he suggested just continuing the king march he had started a few moves earlier with 26. Kc3 Re7 27. Kb4 Bf5 28. Rxe7 Nxe7 29. Kc5 Kc7 30. b4 26... Re7 27. Rxd7+ Rxd7 28. Nxd7 Kxd7 29. Bf5+ Black should also be able to hold the bishop versus knight ending after 29. b4 Ne7 29... Kc7 30. Bxc8 Kxc8 31. Kd3 I thought 31. g4 g6 32. h4 might be a try, but Black can still continue with 32...f5 since the attempt at breakthrough doesn't work 33. h5 gxh5 34. gxf5 h4 35. Ke3 c5 and Black wins 31... f5 32. b4 Kb7 33. h4 h5 34. Kc3 Kb6 35. Kb3 c5 36. b5 White has a protected passed pawn, but no entry into the Black fortress [½:½]
It is very unusual for me to go a whole tournament and not play someone I had played before. In the final round, I was finally paired with a familiar opponent, my Tempo teammate Jerry Wheeler. There was an unusual situation right at the start of our game. After I had played my first move, the TD (for the first time in my experience, Bill Goichberg was not on had to run a CCA tournament) came rushing into the playing area to stop the games on Boards 5-10 since Dimitry Berkovich who had taken a half-point bye in the previous round had been paired as if he had gotten a zero-point bye. Most of the games stopped after only a few moves had been played, but boards 7 and 8 were in a different row from the others and continued on for quite a few moves while things were being sorted out. I thought this might cause some problems if they got too far along (indeed the game just below the affected boards agreed to a draw before everything got fixed), but finally everything got worked out. I still ended up with White against Jerry, but on one board further down. We reached a position known to theory after 11...e5 but it was apparent that he wasn't familiar with it, since he had taken 55 minutes to get here.
For a player who doesn't know the position, my next move probably was a bit of a shock 12. Rxb7 and this sent him into the tank for a further 40 minutes, but in the end he produced an interesting move 12... Bh3!? The main line is thought to be a bit better for White after 12... exd4 13. Rb3 Be6 14. Bxa8 Na6 15. Bf3 Bxb3 16. Qxb3 as in Kasparov-Anand 1999 Wijk aan Zee blitz tournament. Now it was my turn for a long think as White has quite a few candidate moves such as 13. Nc6 and 13. Bf3, but I eventually found a convincing refutation 13. Bxh3! Qd5 14. O-O I think this is the first time in my practice that I have castled with my rook under attack 14... Qxb7 15. Bg2 e4 16. Qc2 f5 17. Nxf5 Nc6 I had spent a lot of time at move 13 trying to calculate 17... Rxf5 18. Bxe4 which should be good for White, but I eventually found the simpler 18. Qxe4 which wins easily for White. After the text, he keeps his extra exchange for the moment, but I have 3 pawns and he still has problems with the pin on the long diagonal to go with a lack of time. 18. Qxe4 Rac8 19. Nd4 Bc5 20. Qd5+ [1:0]
I was reasonably happy with this performance, which was good enough for a 4th place tie. I held draws in the difficulty positions, but just reached too many of them!
The week after the Space City Open, I played in a one-day, G/60 event in Knoxville at Webb School. I haven't played a G/60 event in a while, but I wanted to support what was the first weekend tournament in Knoxville since the 2002 Tennessee Open. I was pretty happy with my play, except for one horrendous move, which relegated me to second place.
After winning round 1, I had a nice finish as White against David Presley in Round 2 after 14...Qe7
15. Qb7 hitting a6, a7, and d7 15...Nc7 16. dxc5 bxc5 17. Rad1 Rfd8 18. Rxd7 even stronger than 18. Nxd7 18... Rxd7 19. Qxc8+ and he resigned rather than facing 19... Rd8 20. Nc6! and White will emerge with a full extra rook [1:0]
I was cruising along in Round 3 with Black against Peter Suich, the younger brother of Joshua Suich, who I've played several times. After 27. Qd4 in addition to being a pawn up, I can launch a direct attack on his king
27...f4 clearing a path for the bishop to enter the game 28. Rd8 28. gxf4 Bh3+ leads to mate 28... f3+ 29. Kf2 Rxc3 30. Rxe8+ Qxe8 31. Rd2 Re3?? A complete blackout, of course Black is winning easily with his extra piece after 31...Rc1. I guess because the rook was safe on e3 previously I didn't even consider 32. Qxe3 and White won without difficulty.
In the final round, I had White against Corry Marsh, while trying to convert my extra pawn in the ending after 30...Ra2+ I had to sidestep a geometrical motif
31. Kg1 While I wasn't really seriously considering playing 31. Rb2? because the double bishop ending would likely be drawn, White wouldn't even get half a point if Black then spots 31... Bb6! winning a piece. After this, he went wrong with 31... Bd2?! 31...Bc7 covering b8 was more tenacious 32. Bd5 Because of the weak back rank, Black must accept another weakness on e6 32...Rc2 33. Bxe6 fxe6 and now the extra pawn, the weakness on e6 and the ability to cut off the Black king along the back rank were quite sufficient for me to win.