The Argentinian Connection

by admin on January 3, 2015

This weekend I am playing in my first tournament of 2015, appropriately called the New Year Championship (as always, expertly organized by Bay Area Chess). For a local tournament it’s got a super-strong top section, with something like four 2500 players. The lower sections seem somewhat sparsely populated, however. I guess only serious players devote the last weekend of the holiday season to chess.

After three rounds I am doing all right. Loss in round one against IM Andrey Gorovets, the top seed — not the end of the world, although I’d like to do better. A nice, hard-fought win in round two against a class A player, Balaji Daguppati. And in today’s morning round, I drew against Emilio Fiora, a master who is visiting from Argentina for a couple weeks. It was really a pleasure to play someone from a different part of the world. On the occasions when I’ve traveled abroad, to Russia and to Norway, the local chess club was a great place to feel back home again. I was glad to “pay forward” the hospitality that others have shown me.

Unfortunately, my hospitality went a little bit too far, when I blundered a pawn on move 23! Nevertheless, I managed to save a draw. From my quick and admittedly superficial home analysis, this looks like a game where I played really well except for one horrible move. See what you think.

fiora1Position after 22. … Qa5. White to move.

FEN: F6k1/pp3ppp/2p2n2/q7/2P5/P3PB2/5PPP/3Q2K1 w – – 0 23

I’ve often said that the worst moves I play are either the ones I take the longest amount of time on or the ones I take the shortest amount of time on. This was the second variety. Black has just moved his queen to a5, and I thought I didn’t have to worry about his threat to take on a3 because of my back-rank mate threats. So I played 23. g3??, only to realize to my horror that there was no mate after 23. … Qxa3 24. Qd8+ Qf8!

Ironically, I had the right idea — creating luft for my king — only I didn’t move the pawn far enough! I think that White keeps a distinct advantage after 23. g4! The point is that after 23. … Qxa3?! 24. g5 the knight has only one square to go to, 24. … Ne8, and then 25. Qd7 recovers the pawn and perhaps more. I’m not saying it’s a win for White, but definitely a position where he can make Black suffer. I think that 23. … h6, creating luft for Black’s king and preventing g5, might be better.

In spite of my blunder I managed to draw the game, thanks perhaps to a little bit of generosity by my opponent. We got to the following position:

fiora2Position after 38. Ba2. Black to move.

FEN: 8/1p4nk/2p3pp/8/4q3/Q5P1/B4P1P/6K1 b – – 0 38

Here, to my surprise, my opponent played 38. … Qe1+ and offered a draw. I was glad to accept! This position is a great example of the power of the bishop as a long-range piece being greater than the power of a knight. Even though the White queen and bishop are way over on the a-file, it takes only two moves, Qf8 and Qg8, for them to deliver checkmate.

However, I think Black could have fought on with 38. … Qe8. Maybe this looked too passive to Fiora. After 39. Qb3 b5 I don’t see a concrete way for White to improve his position. With time, maybe Black will make his knight more useful and the pawns will start to roll. Perhaps better for White is 39. g4!?, hoping to keep Black’s knight buried on g7 forever.

I took a half-point bye in round four (requested before the tournament), so I will have a 2-2 score going into the last two rounds of the tournament.

To me this game was a great example of the two mottos that have been in the upper right-hand corner of this blog (under “Chess Wit & Wisdom”) for several years. Mess-ups happen, but this time I managed to survive to fight again another day.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

admin January 3, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Usually I don’t make the first comment on my own posts, but I just had a thought… In the first position, after 23. g4!? maybe Black can reply 23. … g5!? This kind of reminds me of a series of training games I once played against Jeff Mallett, after which we concluded that the first player to play P-KN4 wins. (Unless it’s on move one, of course.)

Anyway, my initial evaluation of an advantage for White may be too optimistic. After all, I do have more pawn weaknesses than Black.


Michael Aigner January 3, 2015 at 9:34 pm

I played the other Argentinian, Alexis Roberto Ferrara, 2113 fide. I thought I played well and had a slight pull, but he held on well and was even up a pawn at the end. Alas it was a dead draw opposite colored bishops position. I now have 2.5 including a loss to IM Yian Liou.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: