Adventures in Reno

by admin on April 20, 2014

So far, after five rounds in Reno, I have an even score of 2½-2½. So far, all of my five games have been quite interesting and tactical. Michael Aigner remarked that he has trouble even telling who is ahead in material in my positions, let alone who stands better! Well, he was joking of course, but every one of my games has featured a material imbalance within the first 21 moves.

Round one: Sergey Kudrin pseudo-sac of a bishop against me, I counter-sacrificed a rook for insufficient compensation, he won easily. (See last post.)

Round two:  Exchange sacrifice against Theodore Biyiasis, I won. (See last post.)

Round three: I played a completely stupid, unsound two-pawn sac against Ed Formanek. He eventually gave a pawn back to go into a dead-simple winning endgame. This game is not fit to show in public.

Round four: Anthony Blessing (a student of Jesse Kraai) played an excellent and very deep pawn sacrifice against me on move 12. I counter-sacrificed a piece, won the exchange, and we got to a position by move 20 where I had a rook and two pawns against his two pieces. This was the one where Michael was scratching his head trying to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, Blessing found a very powerful move on move 21 that put me in a critical position and ultimately won a pawn. I very much doubt that he saw 9 moves deep when he played the initial sac on move 12, but sometimes “fortune favors the brave.” I eventually drew this game by a miracle.

Round five: This morning I won a miniature against John Jaffray, an expert, that featured a pawn sac on move 10 and a piece sac on move 13. It all came back with interest, as his king was stuck in the center of the board with my whole army against it.

So there you have it. I never seem to have a “normal” game where material is even and both players push their pieces around looking for microscopic advantages.

Interestingly, the game against Jaffray was the first time I can remember in my tournament career where I had to invoke the rule that says you can’t castle if you’ve already moved your king. Jaffray had moved his king to f7 and back to e8 and then tried to castle queenside, and like Dikembe Mutombo rejecting a shot, I said “Oh, no, no, no. Not in my house!” (Actually I didn’t say it that way, but it makes a better story.)

Time doesn’t permit me to show the games now, but I’m sure that in a later post or ChessLecture I will show some of them.

Jesse started out 3-0 but then lost to Onischuk in round four. He played Manvelyan in round five, and the last time I saw his position it looked to me as if he had a big positional edge. Manvelyan (White) had the classic c4-d5-e4 pawn structure, blockaded by Jesse’s pawns on c5 and e5 and knight on d6. Meanwhile, Jesse (Black) had a knight on an unassailable outpost on b3, ready to jump into d4 any time he wants.

After it’s over, I might ask Jesse if he can show me this game. I remember back when I was a class B or A player, I used to think in this sort of position, “Oh, White must be better because he has a protected passed pawn on d5.” Yeah, a pawn that can’t go anywhere, blockaded by Black’s knight that keeps a constant watch on the weak e4 and c4 pawns.

One young player having a good tournament is Colin Chow, who beat Walter Browne last night to reach a 3-1 score. I asked him if he had ever beaten a GM before, and he said, “Yeah, I’ve beaten Browne before!” It was another wild game of the type that would have confused Michael Aigner. Browne sacrificed a piece for three pawns and an unclear position, but then he evidently got confused too and blundered a rook. Why don’t GM’s ever blunder their rooks against me?

Okay, one more round to go! Look for my recap later tonight or tomorrow.

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