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11/30/03 - Novikov-Gurevich, 2003 Kings Island Open

One of the final round games that decided first place in this year's King's Island Open was the board 2 match-up of Igor Novikov and Dimitry Gurevich. Gurevich was tied with Shabalov and Goldin (who played to a draw on Board 1), which Novikov was a half-point behind. I was hoping this game might show up in The Week In Chess, but I haven't seen it there or elsewhere, so I'll just comment on what I saw and was later told about the game. The reason it is of interest is because they reached the R+h+f vs. R ending that I had been discussing after Novikov took Black's last pawn with 1. Rxh6

Since there were other games of interest to me, I missed some moves and what follows is my reconstruction of how they got to various positions that I did see. It doesn't seem that any of it is too crucial except the final move of this analysis, which occurred after I had left. Black started by getting his king and rook to their best defensive positions. 1...Kg7 Re6 2. Re6 Ra1 3. h6+ This decision surprised me since, as we have seen, the pawn on h5 can sometimes cause problems for the defender. 3...Kh7 4. f5 Rg1+ I missed the next several moves, when I looked again the White king was on f6. The likely sequence is 5. Kf4 Rf1+ 6. Kg5 Rg1+! 7. Kf6 This was the last position I saw. Dimitry went into a deep think. This is a critical position. One way for Black to go wrong is 7...Kxh6? when the f-pawn rolls home after 8. Ke7+! Kh7 9. f6! Rf1 10. Re2 Kg8 11. Rg2+ Kh7 12. f7 Re1+ 13. Kf8 Rf1 14. Re2 Kg6 15. Re6+ Kh7 16. Ke8 Kg7 17. Re7 Another way to go wrong is with the move I was later told that Dimitry played 7...Ra1? The only way to hold the draw is to immediately latch on to the f-pawn with 7...Rf1! After 7...Ra1 White wins with, for example 8. Kf7 Ra8 9. Re8 Ra6 10. Re1 Ra7+ 11. Kf8 Kxh6 12. Re6+ Kg5 (12...Kh7 13. Re7+ +-) 13. f6! Kg6 14. f7+! Kh7 15. Re2 Ra8+ 16. Ke7 Ra7+ 17. Kf6 Ra6+ 18. Re6 Ra8 19. Re8 and Black soon runs out of checks.

11/22/03 - Kings Island Open

Last weekend was the Continental Chess Association's annual Kings Island Open. This event seems to get stronger each year. This year the open section cracked double digits for GMs with 10, up one from last year despite the absence of defending champion Maurice Ashley, who was busy commenting on the Kasparov-Fritz X3D match.

I haven't had much time this week to look at my games, so I'll just show a few interesting positions for now. I got through the G/75 portion with a win and a loss to GM Ehlvest. I thought I might have had some attacking chances in the latter game, but spent way too much time for a sudden death game and ended up giving away a bunch of material when my clock got too low. I bounced back in round 3 with Black against Keith Kingsley. After 22. Bxe5

It looks like Black might be in trouble since recapturing on e5 leaves either Rb8 or Ba6 hanging, but I had prepared the somewhat shocking 22... Ne4 It looks like 22... Qxe5 was better. There are similar ideas to those in the game after 23. Qxa6 Qe3+ 24. Kh1 Ne4 threatening mate and hitting Ra1. White can end up with two pieces for a rook, but Black will get a powerful passed pawn on c3. 23. Rd5 This seems to lead to an advantage to Black. Black also seems to come out fine after the queen sacrifice 23. Qxb8 Rxb8 24. Bxb8 Nc5!?, but it looks like White could have claimed the advantage with 23. Bxe4 Bxe5 24. Qc5 Qxc5+ 25. Nxc5 Bxa1 26. Nxa6 Rbd8 and now the move I had overlooked during the game is 27. Bd5 hitting both c4 and a1, so Black doesn't get his desired passed pawn on c3 as happened in the game after 23... Nxd6 24. Rxa5 Bxe5 25. Rxa6 Bxa1 26. Rxd6 Be5 27. Rd2 c3 and Black won.

In Round 4, I had a marathon encounter with Black against IM Calvin Blocker. He sacrificed an exchange for a couple of pawns and a bind, but played some inaccuracies in time pressure and the worst was over for me after 40. Rxe6

I think only White has winning chances here since he can gang up and Black's last pawn and also try to weave mating nets. The most accurate move is probably 40...Kf7 keeping pressure on the b-pawn to tie White's knight to d5. Instead, I tried to activate my rook and had to walk a fine line to a draw. 40...Ra7 41. Nf4 Bg1+ 42. Kg3 Rc3+ 43. Kg4 Rc4 44. Rxg6+ Kf8 45. Rf6+ Ke8 46. Bc6+ Kd8 47. Kf5 Rxb4! This looked impossible because of 48. Nd5 threatening Rf8# and Nxb4 (Another try 48. Rf8+ Ke7 (48... Kc7 49. Nd5+ Kxc6 50. Nxb4+ is more difficult for Black since the White knight can block Black's bishop off the long diagonal) 49. Re8+ Kd6 50. Re6+ Kc5 51. Nd3+ Kc4 52. Nxb4 Kxb4 is similar to the game) but 48... Bc5! holds everything together since 49. Nxb4 Bxb4 leads to opposite colored bishops which lets Black stop the White pawn from queening. That didn't stop him from trying for another 20 moves, using up all but 1 second on his clock before agreeing to the draw.

In the final round I had White against Emory Tate. I didn't play the opening very well and had to sacrifice a pawn. I was a little surprised when he offered me a draw after 17...Rxe7

After a little bit of thought, I accepted. The following sequence seemed forced to me 18. Rb6 Nxa4 19. Rxd6 Nd7 20. f5 With two bishops, active pieces, and the offside Na4, White has some compensation, but I wasn't sure if it was quite enough, and was still unhappy with my play in the opening. The position after 20. f5 is very complex and I think requires considerable analysis to come to a conclusion.

3-2 was good enough for a large tie for 2nd for the U2400 prize after GM Blatny was unable to convert a pawn-up ending against Adu in the final round. There was a very large group of Knoxville area players at the tournament. Mirko Remec won the U1800 section with a perfect 5-0. This is the 3rd time in the last 4 years that Mirko has made a perfect score at Kings Island, winning the U1400 in 2000 and the U1600 last year. Stephen Heathcock also scored 5-0 in his first tournament to win the U1000 section.

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