Fireworks by the River

by admin on April 19, 2014

After I finished my evening game in the second round of the Larry Evans Memorial, I went outside and was surprised to see some fireworks going off in the distance. Apparently this is a somewhat regular event in Reno. Anyway, it was a good metaphor for the two games I played yesterday, because they both involved some “fireworks.”

In round one I had Black against Grandmaster Sergey Kudrin. I played my Bird Variation of the Ruy Lopez as usual, and he took a surprisingly long time — forty minutes on the first 8 moves. This made me overconfident, and my tenth move was a blunder (10. … Qh4?). Can you see how Kudrin took advantage?

kudrin1 White to move.

FEN: r1b1k1nr/pp3p1p/2pp2p1/8/B2bP2q/2NP4/PP3PPP/R1BQ1RK1 w kq – 0 11

(Answers at the end of the post.)

Well, that was disappointing. I still have never beaten a grandmaster in a tournament, and I thought yesterday might be the day.

The second round went much better for me. I had White against Theodore Biyiasis, an expert whom I have played several times before. This time I played the King’s Gambit, and we got to the following position.

White to move. White to move.

FEN:2rq1rk1/pp2bpp1/2n2nbp/1B1p2B1/3P4/2N3NP/PPPQ2P1/4RRK1 w – – 0 16

My opponent has just played 15. … h6, most likely expecting the bishop to retreat to e3. However, the King’s Gambit is not about retreat! What surprise did I spring on him?

As for Jesse, he took care of business yesterday to the tune of two wins and no losses. Interestingly, we just barely missed playing each other in the first round. I was paired up against Kudrin on board 4, and Jesse was on board 5. His opponent was rated one point below me (2157 to 2158). If my rating were just two points lower, our order would have been switched and I would have been on board 5 against Jesse.

Overall this seems like a pretty strong edition of the Larry Evans Memorial, with sixteen titled players and with GM Alexander Onischuk as the pre-tournament favorite (or at least the highest-rated player). The total number of players is up over last year, which is an encouraging development. However, there are still fewer than there were in pre-recession days.

Answers to quiz questions:

1) Kudrin played 11. Bxc6+!, a nice pseudo-sac of the bishop. The point is that after 11. … bc 12. Qa4 he will either win the bishop on d4 or he will check on c6 and win my rook. If I want to I can avoid material loss by playing 12. … Bxf2+ 13. Rxf2 Bd7, but only at the cost of opening the f-file and having a perilous-looking position. I opted to make it an exchange sacrifice with 12. … Be5 13. f4 Bxc3 14. Qxc6+, but of course my attempts at counterplay came up short.

2) However, in my second game I played a much better exchange sacrifice! In the diagram position I played 16. Rxe7! I’m not sure whether this is winning by force, but Black was in a lot of trouble after 16. … Nxe7 17. Bxf6 gf 18. Qxh6. The rook lift Rf1-f4-h4 looms. I won’t show you the rest of the game now because I might want to do a ChessLecture on it. Biyiasis managed to avoid getting mated right away, but White retained a great initiative and eventually won.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Splane April 20, 2014 at 8:12 am

Hi Dana,

If you are coming to my chess party next Sunday, please extend an invitation to Jesse.
Thanks – Mike


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