Berkeley International, round six

by admin on December 20, 2008

I’m going to give the ol’ blog a little bit of a rest today, and not do any detailed analysis of the games from round six of the Berkeley International 2008 tournament. That’s not because there weren’t any deserving games. Au contraire! Both of the all-GM battles, Kacheishvili vs. Sharavdorj and Bhat vs. Friedel, were very intense battles that need careful study. Both of them were also very important for the tournament standings, as Kacheishvili’s win put him into first place and Friedel’s win lifted him into a tie for second.

Kacheishvili weathered Sharavdorj’s assault in the Mar del Plata variation of the King’s Indian. I liked the way that the Georgian GM handled the white pieces. If you believe, as I do, that active pieces (not pawns!) are the soul of chess, this game was very much worth studying. The trouble in the King’s Indian is that White’s pieces are active on the queenside, and it’s hard to bring them to the aid of the kingside. “Kach” did it by putting both of his rooks on the third rank and his knights on d2 and f2. After the inevitable … g4 break, followed by f3xg4 h5xg4 h3xg4, all of these pieces were able to come to the king’s defense.  Eventually White set up an ironclad fortress on the kingside, and then the advance of his passed b-pawn was decisive. This was a game played at a very high conceptual level.

In Bhat-Friedel, Josh played a speculative exchange sacrifice, and he eventually turned his compensation into a passed pawn on the seventh rank (e2). A passed pawn on the seventh rank in the middlegame always poses unique challenges. The question is whether it is too far advanced to survive — or whether the constant threat to promote to a queen will cripple the enemy forces. I call this a “bone-in-the-throat” pawn. Note that the game is usually won not by promoting the pawn, but by disabling the defender’s pieces to the point where you can create and cash in on a weakness somewhere else.

In this case, Josh played the “bone-in-the-throat” strategy to perfection. But it will take careful analysis to figure out whether or not Vinay had a better defense.

So, to correct my previous entry, we now have a three-way tie for second between Friedel, Izoria, and Krush at 4/6.

One of the interesting things about a 10-round tournament is that there is plenty of time for people to come back from a bad start and get into contention. Two people who have managed to do that are Daniel Naroditsky and Lev Milman, who each have 3.5 points out of 6. So today we are going to see them take on Izoria and Krush, respectively, while on board one Friedel does battle against Kacheishvili.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

chesstiger December 21, 2008 at 4:31 am

Does it make me a sexist if i am routing for the only female player in the pack? 🙂

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admin December 21, 2008 at 10:04 am

Not at all! I think it makes you an underdog-ist, a youth-ist, and a chess-ist.

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