Reno Redux — Round 6

by admin on October 31, 2009

And now, back to chess. However, the blog stats make me wonder whether I should post off topic more often. My blog got more than 200 hits on the day that my post about Jorge Cham’s detention went up — even though I had no information to offer other than what was already in Cham’s cartoon. That was the most hits in any one day since I started keeping track. (Admittedly, I only started keeping track a couple of months ago).

But the purpose of a chess blog isn’t to get a lot of hits, right? The purpose is to talk about chess. Right? Hello? Anybody there?

Okay, I know that some of you were looking forward to seeing my last round game in Reno, against Jake Kleiman. I’m not going to write about the whole game here because I want to save some of the good parts for my ChessLecture, which I will record on Monday. However, if you want a sneak peek at the PGN, you can download it here.

So, somehow or other (see the PGN if you want to know how) we got to the position below:

Diagram 1.

I’m White and Kleiman is Black. Although I’m two pawns down, Black is in a world of trouble. He can’t castle, now or ever, because his king has already been to e7 and back. He has a huge hole on d6, and his f7 pawn is under attack. (I have just played 19. N3g5.) Just as a tactical warm-up, here’s a question for you: What happens if Black defends the pawn with 19. … Rf8?

Instead, Kleiman played 19. … f6 20. ef gf, probably hoping for 21. Nxf6+ Nxf6 22. Rxf6 Qxg5, when Black wins a piece — although I strongly suspect that White is still winning after 23. Rxe6+.

However, there was no need to work this all out, because White had a much better move. Remember the “move order trick” — if Move A followed by Move B has a flaw (in this case, the hanging knight on g5), try playing Move B followed by Move A. So I played 21. Rxf6!, when of course the rook can’t be taken because of 21. … Nxf6? 22. Nxf6+ forking the king and queen.

He played 21. … h6, still hoping to chase the knight back, but I cheerfully continued the attack with 22. Nxe6 Qe5, reaching the position in Diagram 2.

Diagram 2. White to play and win.

It almost looks as if White has messed up, because all of those knights and rooks are kind of floating in midair, and they can’t all be defended at once. But that doesn’t matter. If you solved Diagram 1 correctly, you probably had no trouble finding the key move here, as well:

23. Rf8+!

The point of this move is that if Black plays the seemingly harmless trade of rooks, 23. … Rxf8+ 24. Qxf8+ Kd7, then 25. N4c5 is checkmate! I could scarcely believe my eyes when I saw this possibility (when I was deciding what to do on my 22nd move). It’s a very non-standard checkmate pattern that just materialized out of the clear blue sky. So instead Kleiman played 23. … Kd7 24. N4c5+ Ke7 25. Nd3+ Qd6 and now I faced my last real decision of the game. (Diagram 3)

Diagram 3. Is Black merely dead, or really most sincerely dead?

The decision here is whether to simply go for the win of an exchange with 26. Qxd6+ Kxd6 27. Rxh8 cd 28. Rxh6, when of course White should be winning the endgame, or whether to go for something a little more drastic. I had plenty of time left, so I spent five or ten minutes checking and rechecking my analysis, and then I played:

26. Rf7+!

The exclamation point is for savagery and unadulterated barbarity, because of course the civilized 26. Qxd6+ would win as well.

26. … Kxe6 27. Rae1+ …

Jesse Kraai would be happy, because I have brought my last piece into the attack.

27. … Kxf7 28. Qxd6 cd

Technically, Black has won material (a rook and two knights for a queen), but what really matters is the material in the field of battle. There, White has a queen and a rook that are only opposed by Black’s knight on d5, which is rather like opposing a steamroller with a BB gun. Black cannot avoid mate for long.

29. Rf1+ Kg7

The alternative was 29. … Ke8 30. Qe5+, when White will win the h8 rook with check.

30. Qe5+ Kg8 31. Qe6+ resigns

It’s mate next move.

By the way, the answer to the quiz on Diagram 1 was: If Black plays 19. … Rf8, then White answers 20. Nxe6!, when 20. … fe would run into 21. Qxf8+. This was a sort of precursor of the invasion on f8 that actually happened in the game, and probably this first combination helped me visualize the later combination.

Although this game was a bit of a massacre, that’s actually one thing that I like about it. Specifically, White’s choice on move 26 was an important one, even though from an objective point of view either choice is completely acceptable. I see lots of games by novice to intermediate players where one player has an absolutely crushing attack, but instead of pushing the attack through to its conclusion, he or she will settle for winning a little bit of material and trading into the endgame. The trouble with this is that it lets the opponent get back on his feet, and sometimes the previously winning player will actually give up a draw or even lose the ensuing endgame.

Just remember, checkmating your opponent is always better than going into an exchange-up endgame!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Wall November 1, 2009 at 12:33 am

I was very impressed with the Dana Mackensie – Kleiman game because Jake had just crushed me convincingly in the 2009 World Open. Jake seemed invincible. How is an expert getting these results? Then someone told me Dana used to be a Chessmaster.

[Event “2009 World Open Under-2400 section”]
[Site “17th and Race, Sheraton Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”]
[Date “2009.07.03”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Jake Kleiman”]
[Black “Brian Wall”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ICCResult “Black resigns”]
[WhiteElo “2394”]
[BlackElo “2202”]
[Opening “Alekhine’s defense: modern, Flohr variation”]
[ECO “B04”]
[NIC “AL.05”]
[Time “01:47:11”]
[TimeControl “5 second delay, 40/1:55, Game/55”]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 c6 5. Be2 Bg4 6. O-O e6 7. c4 Ne7 8.
exd6 Qxd6 9. Nc3 Nd7 10. Re1 Bxf3 11. Bxf3 O-O-O 12. Ne4 Qc7 13. Ng5 Ne5 14.
Rxe5 Nf5 15. Rxf5 exf5 16. Qd3 Qd7 17. Be2 f6 18. Nf3 Bd6 19. Bd2 Kb8 20.
Rd1 g5 21. Bc3 Rhf8 22. d5 c5 23. a3 f4 24. Nd2 f5 25. Nf3 g4 26. Ng5 f3 27.
gxf3 gxf3 28. Nxf3 Rde8 29. Kh1 Qe7 30. Bf1 Qe4 31. Re1 Qg4 32. Re6 Kc7 33.
h3 Qh5 34. Be5 Bxe5 35. Nxe5 Rxe6 36. dxe6 Rd8 37. Qg3 Rd1 38. Ng4+ Kd8 39.
Ne3 Rd4 40. Qg8+ Ke7 41. Nd5+

1-0 Black resigns

I have analyzed all 6 of my 2009 Western States Open games at if anyone is interested.

I joined this group because I have 5 or 6 original positions that I practice with two minors against a Queen and I remember Dana beat David Pruess with that idea.

Brian Wall


Michael Goeller November 1, 2009 at 3:37 am

Sorry for the off-topic comment. But did you see the “Homo Erectus” game in the USCL: Charbonneau-Enkhbat. It might deserve a post — good game too. It would be interesting to know if he read your articles or if he just made a mistake… 🙂


Michael Goeller November 1, 2009 at 8:52 am
admin November 1, 2009 at 10:28 am

Welcome, Brian! Glad to see you’re reading, and I will definitely take a look at your Western States games.

I’d say that your first mistake against Kleiman was playing the Alekhine against an Alekhine player! 😎

Michael, thanks for the tip. Between the two of you, you’ve just given me a lot to do on this Sunday morning.


Theo Biyiasas November 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

“The exclamation point is for savagery and unadulterated barbarity, because of course the civilized 26. Qxd6+ would win as well.” =D
I really like the pawn sacrifice with Qe2-white gets very good compensation, I bet it isn’t sound for black to take on D4!


admin November 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Hi Theo,
It was good to see you at Reno! I think White definitely gets compensation after 8. Qe2 — I wouldn’t say he necessarily gets an advantage. This was my first time playing the pawn sac, and I have to say it was more successful than I ever dreamed it would be. It just shows that when you get people out of their comfort zone and force them to think, even if they are 2300 players they are going to make mistakes.


Andres D. Hortillosa November 2, 2009 at 8:45 am

Nice game indeed because Jake is a very strong player with lots of GM scalps. On move 25, instead of Nd3 did you consider Rxh8? The idea is to continue with Nd3 but now you would be able to check the king on h7 rather than on f7.


admin November 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hi Andy,
I did look at 25. Rxh8. But notice that Black can reply with 25. … Qxh8, so there is no check on h7 and also no immediate way to threaten the queen by a discovered check. White can still play any discovery he wants, and so the line is still probably winning, but it seemed to me this lacked the clarity of either of the other two variations.


Andres D. Hortillosa November 3, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Hi Dana,
After I posted my comment I realized that Black’s queen was on e5 and covered h8. Anyway, you had too many wins including Ncb7. Very nice game.


Brian Wall November 5, 2009 at 2:44 am

I tried Dana’s Queen sac line against Pruess all night Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009 at the Hornet, a Denver bar neat the Denver Chess Club meeting place. I didn’t even make it past the first trap because after 1 e4 c5 2 f4 d5 3 Nf3 de 4 Ng5 Nf6 5 Bc4 Bg4 6 Q:g4 N:g4 7 B:f7+ Kd7 8 Be6+ Kc6 9 B:g4 e5 I didn’t see
10 Nf7 Qh4+ 11 g3 Q:g4 12 Ne5+ so I kept winning agaimst Mark Hilyard all night with 11 0-0?


Chess November 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Nice game! This moves will be noted I’ll try this to my friends when we play chess.


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