Shakmaty Bereolos - The Official Chess Site of Peter Bereolos

2/15/04 - Land of the Sky

Last weekend was the annual Land of the Sky tournament in Asheville, NC. The attendance seemed a bit down from previous years, but the open section still had strength at the top with 3 GMs (Novikov, Wojtkiewicz, and Kudrin). In a positive move, they rearranged the playing hall so that the open section was in the better lit half.

I had an uneventful route to 2-0. My first round opponent never showed up and Robert Cunningham dropped a pawn shortly out of the opening in the second round. That moved me up to the demo board for round 3 with the Black pieces against GM Sergey Kudrin. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. Nbd2 Nc5 10. c3 Nxb3!?

Although I achieved a reasonable position against Burnett, I wasn't keen to try 10... Nd3 11. Qe2 Nf4 12. Qe3 g5 again, but was still in the mood for an alternative to the usual moves. 11. Nxb3 Be7 12. Nfd4 Qd7 12... Nxd4 is also playable. 13. Nxc6 Qxc6 14. Be3 O-O 15. Nd4 Qd7 16. b4 f6 It might be a bit better to try 16... c5 17. bxc5 Qc7 17. exf6 Bxf6 18. Re1 Bf7 18... Rae8 is another way to go, but I was looking at the idea a6-a5-a4 19. Qd2 a5 20. a3 a4 To take away the maneuver Nd4-b3-c5. This is consistent with Black's previous move, but it would be better to first prevent the exchange of dark squared bishops with 20... h6 with an approximately equal game. 21. Bg5 Bxd4?! 21... Bxg5 22. Qxg5 Rae8 would still be about equal. I was worried that the bishop would be bad against the knight because of the pawn structure, but the opposite colored bishop position is worse since White's bishop has a great deal of scope. White now operates unobstructed on the dark squares and Black lacks play on the light squares. 22. cxd4 Rae8 23. Rec1 Re6 24. Bf4 c6 25. Rc3 Rg6 26. Rac1 Be8 27. Re1 Qf7 28. Bg3 Bd7 29. h3 Re8 30. Be5 Qf5 31. Kh2 Rf8 32. f3 I was quite impressed by the way Sergey used his kingside pawns on the light squares to further restrict my bishop. .. h5 33. g4 hxg4 34. hxg4 Kf7

I wanted to get my rooks to the h-file, but since the Rg6 is no longer well placed and Rf8 is already reasonably placed 34... Qf7 followed by 35...Rh6 deserved more consideration. 35. Kg2 Not 35. gxf5?? Rh8+ 36. Qh6 Rhxh6# or 35. Kg3? Rxg4+ 35... Rh8 36. Bg3 Qf6 37. Rce3 Re8 This abandoning of the h-file shows the flaw in the logic of Black's 35th move. 38. Rxe8 Bxe8 39. Qf2 Bd7 It may be slightly better to prevent Bh4 by 39... Rh6 40. Qe3 Qd8 40. Bh4 Qd6 41. Re7+ Kf8 42. Qg3 Qxg3+ 43. Kxg3 Be8?! Black's position has slowly drifted away. I thought the rook could become active via the h-file, but it is too slow. The last chance may have been to temporarily hold up f4 with 43... Be6 intending after 44. Rc7 Bf7 45. f4 to try to give the rook some prospects on the e-file with 45... Re6 44. f4 Rh6 45. f5 Rh8 45... Rxh4 46. Rxe8+ and White easily wins the pawn ending since his king can stop the d-pawn after the ...c5 break. 46. Rc7 Rh6 47. Be7+ Kg8 48. g5 Rh1 49. Rc8 Re1 50. Bd6 Kh7 51. Be5 Rg1+ 52. Kf4 Rf1+ 53. Kg4 Rg1+ 54. Bg3 Bf7 55. Rf8 55. g6+ Bxg6 56. fxg6+ Kxg6 57. Rxc6+ is also a straight forward win, but White doesn't even have to allow Black that much. 55... Bg8 56. g6+ Completing the domination of the black bishop by White's pawns 56...Kh8 57. Rc8 c5 Unfortunately, Black's c-pawn prevents a stalemate trick with 57... Rxg3+ 58. Rxc5 Ra1 59. Be5 Rg1+ 60. Kh4 Rh1+ 61. Kg3 Rf1 62. Rc7 [1:0]

The next morning I had White against Chris Mabe. We reached an approximately equal position after 15. b4

This position should be one where Black plays on the kingside and White on the queenside. Instead, he decided to play on the queenside as well and things went rapidly downhill for him. 15... b5?! 15...f5 or 15...Ndf6 is called for 16. Nb3 Black's idea might work if he was allowed to play ...a5 16...Ndf6 17. a4 Qd7 18. Ra2 18. Ra3 would allow formation of the battery of three major pieces with Qa2 and Rfa1, but I was still keeping my eye on the kingside and wanted to have the rook available to defend along the second rank. 18... Ra7 Another queenside move that doesn't accomplish much. Better is 18... Ng5 19. Rfa1 with a slight advantage to White. The sacrifice 19...Nxh3+ 20. gxh3 Qxh3 is defended with 21. Qf1 19. axb5 axb5 20. Rxa7 Qxa7 21. Ra1 Qb7 On 21... Qd7 I intended 22. Kf1 getting my king out of the danger zone followed by Qa2-a7. 22. Qa2 Ng5 A variation that illustrates the trouble Black faces is 22... Rc8 23. Qa7 Qxa7 24. Rxa7 Bd8 25. Na2 Kf8 26. Na5 Ke8 (26... Bxa5 27. bxa5 followed by Nb4) 27. Nb7 23. Qa7 Qxa7 24. Rxa7 Bd8 25. Ra6 [1:0]

In the final round I had Black against Craig Jones. I made a typical Kings Indian sacrifice of the d-pawn for active pieces and we reached an interesting position after 16. Rxd6

Here or on the next move ...f5!? deserves attention trying to open the position to take advantage of some of the awkwardly placed White pieces. Instead, I went for a variation to regain my pawn, but the game petered out to a draw after 16... Ng3 17. Re1 Nxe2+ 18. Rxe2 Be6 19. Na3 Bf8 20. Rd1 Sacrificing the exchange with 20. c5 Bxd6 21. cxd6 doesn't seem to give enough after 21...b5 20... Bxa3 21. bxa3 Bxc4 entering this line I thought the pawn structure might give me a slight edge, but White controls the d-file and has the idea of bringing his knight to f6, which I had to take measures against 22. Red2 b6 23. f4 Nc7 24. a4 Nd5 25. Nxd5 cxd5 [:]

The tournament ended with a bit of controversy. The final game to finish was played under protest. They were using a Chronos digital clock with seconds displayed and a 5-second delay. Apparently, at the end of the first time control, White was down to a few seconds, and after he made the final move of the time control and hit the clock it rolled over to the second time control with a reading of 1:00.00. Black claimed a win on time, and I think I agree with him although it is not entirely clear. It seems that since White has exactly one hour left, then he must have used his entire time in the first time control. But if that was the case, why didn't the clock lock at 0:00.00? (I tried some experiments and that is the case with my Saitek). Some players argued that White had somewhere between 0 and 1 seconds left, but I don't really buy that. The equivalent of a flag falling on a digital clock is when it reads zero, so it wouldn't matter if a player has a fraction of a second. I guess the TD's weren't sure either and told the players to continue with Black playing under protest while they researched the question further. Of course this game went down to the very end, with White finally winning on the board. After Black resigned, TD Neal Harris stepped in with the ruling on the protest. He said he had talked to a "special referee" and that the Chronos has 2 settings: one where it freezes at zeros and one where it rolls over. So the idea was to turn the clock off, then back on to see what setting it had. When they did this, it looked to me like it was neither of the modes he had said, but he ruled it was the rolled over setting. Someone in the crowd said that turning the Chronos on then off displayed the blitz mode, not the mode for which it was set for a tournament game. Further discussion ensued in the hallway. I didn't follow it all since I got involved in a discussion with some other players about other strange happenings we had seen take place at tournaments. Anyway, I know there was further dispute and I think what ended up happening is that both players got paid as if they had won. I think they took 4th/5th, the two U2300 prizes, and the two U2200 prizes and divided them equally, then gave Black this same amount too. This hurt some players and helped others (including myself). I think the TD's handled this situation pretty well, the only real shortcoming I saw was that White seemed totally oblivious to the fact that the game was being played under protest and that he could still lose after the fact. However, one might argue that someone who cuts it down to a fraction of a second on a digital clock with a 5-second delay is not especially aware of his surroundings.