On Thursday last one of the match’s key to determining the eventual winner of this year's League took place. The Saratoga A team came to Schenectady to face SCC's top team. On the first board for Schenectady Deepak Aaron, a scholastic star who recently broke through to the ranks of USCF Masters, played Steve Taylor a long established local Master. On the second board veteran Expert Lee Battes for Saratoga faced newly established Expert Philip Sells. On the third board the fast rising scholastic player Patrick Chi, representing Schenectady met the well established Expert Gordon Magat. The fourth board had two long time Class A/Expert opponents; Bobby Rotter for Schenectady and Alan LeCours for Saratoga were paired.
To stay in the hunt for the League trophy Saratoga needed to win this match. Earlier in the season they had been held to a draw versus RPI, a team who finished well down in the standings. With both Albany and Schenectady A winning all matches so far the pressure was on Saratoga.
There were half dozen spectators in the Schenectady club room for the match. That is quite a crowd for a CDCL event. Play was interesting with opportunities for either side to break to the front. Aaron - Taylor ended drawn in 25 moves. Battes - Sells was a victory for Sells in 45 moves. Board four ended drawn in 48 moves, taking us to the last game to finish; Chi - Magat. It looked to me as if Schenectady just might win the match. All Patrick had to do was draw a Rook and pawn ending a pawn up. A misconception in the ending took a possible win to a likely draw, then an error in a Rook and pawns ending transitioned to a dead lost pawn ending. Chi's defeat tied the score. Both teams' chances for the trophy were hurt. Saratoga A now is a full point off the leader’s pace and Schenectady is a half-point behind Albany.
Today's game is the battle between Chi and Magat.
Chi,Patrick - Magat,Gordon [A85]
CDCL Match SCC, 12.10.2010
Plenty of games in the databases to this point.
5.e3 0–0 6.Be2 d6 7.0–0
Chekhov, V., A Soviet GM in the 80’s tried 7. b4, with good success here.
Onischuk has used this move as well as Matulovic with good results.
Hug versus S. Plogar preferred 8. b4, in this position, with Hug going on to win in 21 moves at Bad Homburg, 1996, and so did Gorbatow, A., against Dubinski in the Moscow City Ch., 1996 winning in 31 moves. Both games were similar to this game in that action on the a1-h8 and h2-g8 diagonals by the White Queen and Bishops was an important theme.
8..., e5 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Ba3 Rf7 11.Qc2
Up to now the game has followed Doombos, Y – Szabolcsi, J in the French Team Ch., 1999. In that game Doombos played 11. c5, first letting Black play 11..., Rd7 with a gain of tempo. The computer says the game is about even at that point. Szabolcsi got carried away in the ensuing middle game struggle, missed a couple of chances to make the fight tough and lost on move 42.
The notion of advancing the c-pawn to make a place for White’s light squared Bishop shows up in a number of games in this variation. It seems even if the c-pawn falls, White obtains compensation with the activity of the Bishop.
Gordon does not see the idea of the c-pawn charge, or he undervalues it.
Better 12..., Rd7; or 12..., h6. The text is an error that sets up a tactical shot for White.
13.Ng5 Rd7 14.Nb5?
Mr. Chi used twenty minutes to find this move. While watching the game I believed he was calculating 14 c6, Rd8 15 b4, Bxe2 16 Qb3+!, Kh8; 17 Nf7+ with a very large, winning advantage. Apparently he did not have the idea in mind and so settled on a move that let slip the chance to win early. Black does not quite get back to an even game. He trails a bit in development and his King is somewhat exposed, but since Patrick missed the sharp continuation there is hope for Black.
This move is too optimistic. Better 14..., Bxb5 15 Bxb5, c6; with a slightly inferior position and decent chances to hold. Gordon comes to the chess board with serious intentions of winning every game. His success recommends such an approach. That attitude underlies this bold try.
Once more a reasonable amount of time was used by Patrick here, about five minutes, and again he does not see the utility of pushing the pawn to c6. Correct is 15 c6, then 15... Rd8 16 Rad1 Qxc6 17 Bc4 Bxb5 18 Rxd5 Rxd5 19 Bxd5 Qxd5 20 Rd1 Qc6 21 Rd8+ Bf8 22 Qxc6 Bxc6 23 Rxf8+ Kg7 24 Ne6+ Kh6 25 Nxc7 and Black will be down a full piece. This is a harder line to find than the previous opportunity.
Bxb5 16.Bxb5 c6 17.Be2 e4
The net result of Chi's missing the tactical opportunities is Black has fully equalized and is maybe a fraction better mostly because the Ng5 is awkwardly placed and the c-pawn is weak.
18.Bb2 Bxb2 19.Qxb2 Qe720.Nh3 Qxc5
An interesting moment, it is natural to capture with the Queen, but a thought should be given to 20..., bxc5. By capturing with the pawn, Black could activate his pieces more quickly than in the game and not grant White the tempo gained by attacking the Queen with Rac1. The line of play I am considering is 20..., Bxc5 21 Rac1 Rd8 22 Qa3 Nd7 23 Rfd1 Kg7 24 Bc4 N7b6, with chances to hold the game. Magat's uncompromising approach, no doubt, gave only short consideration to a line that looks at only holding the balance. By taking with the Queen he sees an extra pawn in the bag without any problems in his pawn formation.
This move takes on a problem in the K-side pawn structure willingly. Better attempt to avoid that with 22 Bc4.
Nxf4 23.exf4 b5
Motivated by the need to find a way to get the Nb8 into the game. That will take more this one move, c6 needs a defender.
24.a4 a6 25.b4 Qg7
Patrick played the pawn moves correctly. Finding those moves speak to a good understanding of positional principles. Both players had used much of the clock time available. Patrick had 25 minutes and Gordon 30 minutes remaining. Here Black could have played 25..., Raa7.
26.Qa2+ Qf7 27.Qb2 Qg7 28.Qa2+ Qf7 29.Qb2 Raa7?
This move was OK when the Queen guarded d8 along with the Rd7. The just concluded sequence of Queen moves could have signaled a splitting of the point. I doubted it was going to be that easy. Gordon used the time gained by repeating moves to look for a way to continue the fight. Unfortunately, he found a flawed idea. Better 29..., Qe7; if he did not want the draw.
30.axb5 axb5 31.Bxb5 Qg7 32.Qb3+ Kf8 33.Bxc6 Nxc6 34.Rxc6 Qf7
With nice tactical insight Patrick spotted his chance and took it. The pawn is recovered with interest. Chi now has an extra distant passed pawn. As Steve Taylor said after the game finished; when you have that, you want win the game.
Somewhere around this point in the game all the other contests had finished and Bill Townsend, the captain of the Schenectady team, let Patrick know all that was needed for the match victory was a draw. That is the role of the team captain to let the team members know what score is needed for the team and is within the rules of chess.
Missing subtle shot that would have won almost instantly. Much better is 35 Qb2. What, the reader may ask, is the difference between the two moves? Both put the Queen on the long diagonal, both support the b-pawn. The difference is on b2 the White Queen avoids a counter-pin by ..., Rac7. That means 35 Qb2 threatens 36 Rf6 fatally pinning the Black Queen over the King as well as the White Rook going to c8 with check. Play might go; 35 Qb2 Qg7 36 Rc8+ Kf7 37 Qb3+ Ke7 38 b5 and even though Black has all his pieces working and White has a Rook not actively working at f1, the exposed position of the Black King, the charging b-pawn and the very active placement of the White Queen and Rook doom the Black cause. Rybka evaluates the position as favoring White by +5.00 points!
35..., Rac7 36.Qh8+?...
Possibly trying to follow Bill's advice, Patrick goes for a general liquidation thereby surrendering some, then all advantage. The natural 36 b5 holds on to the edge.
35.... Qg8 37.Rf6+ Rf7 38.Rxf7+ Kxf7 39.Qxg8+ Kxg8 40.Rb1 Kf7
White still has the better game and Black will have to be very accurate to find some drawing chances. All my endgame references; Fine's Basic Chess Endings (1941), Smyslov & Levenfish's Rook Endings (1971) and Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual (2006) make one important point in the first place about outside passed pawns in Rook endings: the pawn must be PUSHED!
White ignores that well established chess wisdom and it costs him. Correct is 41 b5 Ke6 42 b6 Rb7 43 h3 angling to get in g2-g4 with the potential for creating another outside passed pawn, or in some events the advance of the White King up the King's wing. Such an approach would have strained Gordon's defensive skill more than the method used did. Both players were down to about ten minutes on their clocks. That is precious little time to work out over the board the tricky ideas in a Rook and pawn ending. By not pushing the b-pawn and taking the slower path of centralizing his King, White made finding moves too easy for Black.
41...,Ke6 42.Ke2 Rc2+ 43.Ke3 Kd5!?
Safer is 43... Kd6; hurrying the King to blockade the b-pawn.
This move gives up almost all of the residual advantage White had. Again 44 b5, is correct.
Making life difficult for himself by obstructing the easiest path back for the Rook to block the pawn.
45.b5 Rc3+ 46.Kd2? ....
In the building time pressure Gordon handed Patrick another chance. White should focus on driving the b-pawn forward to gain space through which his King can take up a position over the midline of the board. From there his threat to run towards g6 is very strong. Play could go; 46 Ke2 Rc2+ 47 Ke1 Kd5 48 b6 Rc8 49 b7 Rb8 50 Kd2 Kc6 51 Kc3 Kc5 52 Rb3 Kd5 53 h5 (to weaken g6 and/or f5) 53... Kc5 54 hxg6 hxg6 55 Rb2 Kd5 56 Rb5+ Kc6 57 Kc4, and it can be seen that g6 will fall one way or another, with that the game is won for White.
The move played gives Black a tempo useful in defense.
46....,Rd3+ 47.Ke2 Rd7 48.b6 Rb7
The b-pawn is stopped one square sooner than it could have been. White still has an advantage but not the clearly winning one of a few moves ago. The time pressure had now become acute. The players were under five minutes each. It is not entirely fair to be critical of their moves under the double tension of little time to think and the knowledge that a great deal depended on the outcome of the game. If drawn, Schenectady wins the match keeping pace with Albany, if lost, Saratoga salvages a tied match and Schenectady will need to defeat the Albany team to take the title.
49.Rc1+ Kb5 50.Rc7?...
The rest of the moves were played quickly, time was fast running out for both sides. White must had a delusion here abouts thinking if the Rooks go off a draw is obvious. Not so. Better is 50 Ke3, and White just may win the game. With his King one square closer to the path d4/e5/f6 Black dare not take the b-pawn. White then forces a Rook trade and penetrates with his King winning. Calculating such a line with plenty of time on the clock is one thing, it is another entirely with just moments left. The crucial line is 50 Ke3 Kxb6? 51 Rb1+ Kc6 52. Rxb7 Kxb7 53.Kd4 Kc6 54.Ke5 Kc5 55.h5. The advance of the h-pawn at the correct moment brings the base of the pawn chain within easy reach of the
After the text move White has no advantage left at all. Only if he is very accurate can he avoid a misstep that could lose the game. With a few minutes left on the clocks, being that accurate is a challenge.
50 ..., Kxb6 51.Rc3 Rc7 52.Rb3+ Kc6 53.Rc3+ Kd6 [53...Kd7] 54.Rxc7 Kxc7 55.f3...
Some better is 55.Ke3.
55... exf3+ 56.Kxf3 Kd6 57.Ke3??...
This rather ordinary looking move is a fatal error. Necessary is 57.h5, and White would have to be familiar with the follow-up play; 57...gxh5 58.Kg3 Kd5 59. Kh4 Ke4 60.Kxh5 Kxe4 61.Kh4 Ke4 62.Kg5 f4 63.Kh6 Ke3 64.Kg5 Ke4 65.Kh6 Kf5 66.Kxh7 Kg4 67 Kg6 Kg3 68.Kg4. The pawn standing on f2 and the aggressive use of his King are key to White holding the draw. That is a very high order of endgame play. With virtually no time remaining, it is too much to expect anyone to work out such over the board. The game is now lost for White, and the winning technique is clear. Gordon did not have to find hard moves to finish the job.
57... Kc5 58.Kd3 Kd5 59.Ke3 Kc4 60.Ke2 Kd4 61.Kf3 Kd3 62.g4 h5 63.g5 Kd4 64.Resigns.
A tough battle having a good number if interesting errors by both sides in the middle and end game. The other games of the match will be posted next.
Waiting for Schenextady A, Albany and Saratoga A teams to schedule and play the last and critical matches of the season in the CDCL led me to scrounge around on the net. In doing so a very interesting site was found; Chess Archaeology. It is a virtual treasure trove of little remembered material from yesteryear well worth a look on a rainy morning ot a quiet evening.
In about three months the NYS Champioship will be held once more in Saratoga Springs. Most local chess players are aware the State Championship has been in Saratoga for several years. Less well known is how far back in time the State Association and Saratogo go, and how distinguished the players who participated were. Here's a sample of what can be found:
The New York State Chess Association’s
Mid-Summer Meeting at Saratoga Springs 1899
by John S. Hilbert
The New York State Chess Association (NYSCA) had, even before time took its sharp turn into the Twentieth Century, an established history of holding what it referred to as “mid-summer” association meetings. The term “mid-summer” is set off by quotation marks to emphasize that, by 1899 at least, the meetings were held at the end of August and beginning of September, and hence could hardly, even under the most charitable calendar reading, be considered near the middle of summer. Such events were frequently, if not invariably, held outside of New York City, and often were held at summer resorts such as the meetings at Thousand Islands 1897 and Lake Keuka 1898. In 1901, for another example, the association’s mid-summer meeting was held in Buffalo, New York, then the scene of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Seven years earlier, play had also been held in the Queen City, and in later years other upstate locations, including Rochester, would be the summer playgrounds of the NYSCA.
The events held in the late 1890s, however, are unusual for another reason. Rather than remaining purely the province of New York players, players from other state associations, notably Pennsylvania, but also Massachusetts, were actively lobbied to attend the NYSCA’s mid-summer sessions. Indeed, a lively interstate rivalry developed between the players of New York and those of Pennsylvania.
The article goes on at length providing background on the several contests, remember this was in the days before the Swiss System, the competition issues and historical insights. It also includes many games with annotations by the participates and others.
One event was a match for the Staats-Zeitung Cup Match. The Cup was named for a NYC German language newspaper that donated the trophy. The match in 1899 was between Frank Marshall and S. Lipschütz. Instead of what one might expect, this was no "whitewash" by Marshall. Of course the match took place fifteen years before Marshall was named one of the first five chess players to be called Grandmaster by Czar Nicolas II at the 1914 St Petersburgh tournament. Lasker, Capablance, Alekhine, Tarrasch along with Marshall, the top five prize winners were give title by the Czar in closing ceremonies.
The Staats-Zietung Cup Match was to be a five game contest. Lipschütz represented Manhattan and Marshall Brooklyn. Marshall had made a reputation for himself by winning the recent London Minor Tourney in England. Lipschütz was considered the more experienced player with many years of battles at the top of NYC and NYS chess.
The games were published in the American Chess Magazine for September 1899. Lipschütz took the early lead winning the first game, then finished going away winning the next two also.
Lipschütz,S (Manhattan) — Marshall,FJ (Brooklyn)
USA Saratoga Springs, NY (Staats-Zeitung Cup Tournament)
Annotations from the American Chess Magazine and additional material from Deep Rybka and Bill Little.
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2
So far a generally accepted version in those days. One hundred years later top players such as Adams, Hector, Shulman, Djuric and Lombardy preferred 6 Qe2, which has 8-2 with 7 draws record in the databases.
“To draw on the d-pawn and get it within reach of the c-pawn. White might otherwise play d3 and effectively dislodge the knight from e4.” quoting American Chess Magazine.
7.d4 Bb4 8.Bd2 c5
Deep Rybka does not see any great difference between this move and the alternative 8..., Nc6.
9.0-0 Nc6 10.a3 Ba5
More comments from the magazine; “The try 10...Bxc3, followed by ...c4, would not improve the Black position to any extent, although apparently causing a block. As will be seen, Black later on regains the pawn he now surrenders.”
11.dxc5 0-0 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Bxa5 Qxa5 14.b4 Qc7
Rybka now gives White the edge. It suggests 14..., exf3?!; and if 15 bxa5, fxe2; 16 Qd3, exf1+ (Q); 17 Rxf1, and Black has the advantagewith two minor pieces and a Rook for the Queen. That being the case, White would likely vary with 15 gxf3, Qc7; 16 fxg4, Qxe5; when the two extra pawns on the Q-side and net one pawn advantage overall make endgame prospects very good for White.
This looks doubtful. Better is 15 Nd2, and White obtaisn the advantage.
15..., Bxe2 16.Qxe2 Qxe5 17.Qe3?
The following comment was made in the original annotation "17.Nxe4 would cost him a piece, as Black then plays ...Rae8, ...Qd4+, and ...f5 in due order." It seemed there might be some flaw in the idea. My trusty electronic companion quikly pointed out: 17 Nxe4, Rae8; 18 Rae1, Qd4+; 19 Kh1, f5; 20 c3!, Qd5; 21 Qd2, breaking the pin and saving the piece remaining a pawn ahead.
Not 17..., f5; 18 Qb3+!, collects the Exchange.
Guarding against the check at b3 to make possible ...f5.
Tossing away another chance to cement the advantage with the principled 19 Qxe4. after which White gets to create three connected passed pawns on the far away Queen's wing at the cost of his Knight. The line goes; 19 Qxe4, Qxe4; 20 Rxe4. Nxc2; 21 Rxe8, Rxe8; 22 Rxf7, h6; 23 Rxb7, hxg5; 24 Rxa7, and Rybka gives White a +1.53 evaluation. After the text the game is even.
The Ameriacn Chess Magazine comments were: "Fearing the complications attending the capture of the e-pawn, White retreats circumspectly. In this he was wise, as the following interesting variations show: 20.Nxe4 f5 21.Rd2 (21.Rd1 Ne6 also leaves White’s knight open to capture.) 21...Nc6 22.Qb3+ Kh8 and the knight cannot be saved." Unconsider is; 20 Nf3, leading to equality. The game move hands the advantage to Black.
20...Nf5 21.Qf4 e3
“He is forced to advance the pawn or else lose it at once. Advanced thus far its chances for longevity are very slim, however.” So says the commentator.
“He could also play 22.Qxe5 exf2+ 23.Kxf2 Rxe5 24.Rxe5 the rook getting to the seventh a move or two later. But, instead of 22...exf2+, Black could retake the queen at once and gain time for the defense of the e-pawn. Moreover, the text move of White enables him more quickly to compass the downfall of the disputed pawn.” American Chess Magazine quoted.
Slipping towards a loss. With better move 22..., Qd5; Black has a near won game. If 23 c4, Qd3; 24 g4, Nd4; 25 Rxe3, Rxe3; 26 Rxe3, Ne2+, picks up the Exchange, or 23 g4, Nh4; strongly favors Black, or finally, 23 Qf1, e3; 24 c2, Re4; 25 g3, Rd8; 26 Qg2, Qc4; 27 Qf3, Rd5, and the Black pieces are very aggressively massing. In each case Black has superior chances. It is easy to see commenting on a chess game was riskier to one’s reputation back before chess computers came on the scene.
23.Nxf4 Re4 24.Nd5 Rfe8 25.Nc3 R4e6 26.Nb5 R8e7 27.c3 Nh4?
Either 27..., a5; or possibily 27..., Ra6; are better tries. The text move is a costly error.
28.Nd4 Re4 29.g3
Forcing his hand. Black must either move the knight or resort to the text move. It is doubtful whether the latter is the wiser course, inasmuch as White’s pawns are undoubled and strengthened in the process. Black retains his e-pawn, but he, nevertheless, finds himself a good way behind in the race.
29...Rxd4 30.cxd4 Nf3+ 31.Kf1 Nxe1 32.Rxe1 Re4 33.d5 Kf8 34.Ke2 Re5 35.Rd1
“Better than advancing the pawn, the Black king being held longer in check.” ACM comments.
A nice bit of technique from the olden times. If Black brings his King to d8, White captures on b7 and pushes the d-pawn. There then is no stopping one of the pawns from Queening. The game continuation leaves the Black King cut-off.
35..., bxc6 37.dxc6 Re7 38.b5 f5 39.a4 g5 40.a5 Rc7
With the King unable to aid the Rook and the far advanced White pawn mass on the Q-side threatening to move forward, Black’s attempt to get counter-paly by pushing his own pawns will fail.
41.Rd6 f4 42.Rxh6 Rf7 43.gxf4 gxf4 44.Kf3 Kd8 45.b6 axb6 46.axb6 Rf8 47.Rh7 Kc8 48.Ra7 Kd8 49.Ra8+ Ke7 50.Rxf8 1-0.
The ACM comments on this game closed with the observation that the standard of play was not up to that of internation masters. True enough, but the game is interesting illustrating some improtant points of technique and some missed opportunities by Marshall, who in later years was one of the most gifted tactical masters, fifth the the world for awhile and from many decades the US Champion.
Such was the action from 1899. One hundred and eleven years later chess masters, and the rest of us are getting ready for another gathering in Saratoga. I hope all our games are as interesting.