Monday, January 28, 2008

Liberty Bell Open: Chicken/ Not Chicken

I got back from Philly last weekend, where I played in the Liberty Bell. I finished with 3/7, but 3/7 can mean a lot of things. Especially from me. I started out very peacefully...

Round 1: Elizabeth Vicary (2126) vs. Daniel Yaeger (2315)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.Be3 Nc6 11.Nde2 Rfc8 12.0–0 Qd8 13.Qd2 Qa5 14.Rfd1 a6 15.a4 Qb4

So, yeah, looks like I've f**ked it up again, right? But somehow this opening likes me and there's always some weird tactical way out of my positional indiscretions.

16.a5! Qxc4 17.Ra4 Qe6 and the point is that I have 18.Nd5 where he can't take it; I'm threatening 19. Nb6, and his queen is short of places to go.

18....Nd7 19.Nef4 Qe5 20.Nd3 Qe6 21. Nef4 Qe5 ½–½

Now we are temporarily skipping round two, in which I drew IM Zlotnikov, because I accidentally left the scoresheet at work.

Round Three: Vicary,Elizabeth (2126) - Shen,Victor (2270) [B40]
1.e4 c5
2.Nf3 e6
3.b3 b6
4.Bd3 Bb7
5.0–0 d6
6.Bb5+ Nd7

What can I say? It's a weird drawing line I had analyzed two years ago in preparation for the US Championship, when drawing a game against anyone seemed like a huge accomplishment. I didn't especially want another draw at this point, but there are ways to play most lines for more than that, plus I couldn't think of anything else to do.

7...a6 God I hated Victor Shen at this moment. Aren't teenagers supposed to feel invunerable?? Why will no one take my pawns, ever?

The mainline is of course 7...Bxe4. My file has tons of semi-random computer lines in it, but for you guys I'll just hit the high notes. Originally I got the idea from Rogozenko's book Anti-Sicilians: A Guide For Black. He specifically says 8. d4 is not playable, but, well, I guess that's because he doesn't see a forced draw as white as a huge triumph. 8.Re1 Ngf6

(A few other tries:
8...Bb7 9.d5 e5 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Rxe5+ Be7 12.d6 a6 13.dxe7 Nxe7 14.Bg5 f6 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Qh5+ Kf8 17.Qh6+;
8...d5 9.Ne5 Ngf6 10.Bg5+-)

9.Bg5 Bb7 (9...Bxf3 10.Qxf3 cxd4) 10.d5 Bxd5 (10...e5 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.Rxe5+ Be7 13.d6) 11.Bxf6 Bxf3 12.Bxd7+ Kxd7 13.Qxf3 gxf6 14.Qb7+ Ke8 15.Qc6+]

8.Bxd7+ Qxd7

I remembered a game from this position that I played in Curacao the summer before last in which I put my knight on d2 and played a quick c4 and d5. Afterwards, Alex had told me this was stupid, but I couldn't remember if playing Nd2 was the problem or closing the position was. I knew my opponent had had all sorts of useful things to do after I closed things up, like organizing ...b5 and ....f5 and putting a knight on f4, while I was sitting there like an idiot, entirely planless.

But still, while playing this game I really just couldn't decide which square my knight should go to. First instinct said d2, but then I started thinking he would put the e pawn on e5 to blunt my b2 bishop and so then I would want to trade pawns and put my knight on d5?! I'm not even going to turn on Fritz to see, because I know that one move will be -.42 and the other will be -.22 and I get angry and convince myself the stupid computer has no idea. I will not do this, instead I will wait for my next lesson when Dave will explain all it all. It will all seem crystal clear and eminently logical while he is talking, at the end of the lesson I will be pleasurably sated by a sense of my own deep understanding. Later I will try to recreate the chain of thought in my own head, and it will seem alien, murky and hostile.

9.Nc3 Be7
10.Bb2 Qc7
11.Re1 cxd4
12.Nxd4 Nf6

I considered 13.Qe2 first, but I thought I was pretty much worse here because my knight on c3 is ridiculous, and so I opted for Qd3, which seemed more aggressive. I was hoping to confuse him with a kingside attack. He looked like he might scare easily.

14.Qg3 b5

15.Nd5 Qd8

15...exd5 Victor and I both just figured this won for me. Fritz finds only a draw: 16.Nf5 g6 only move (16...Nh5? 17.Qg4 g6 18.Nh6#) 17.Qg5 (17.exd5 Bd8 18.Nh6+ (18.Qg5 Qxc2! 19.Bxf6? Qxf5–+) 18...Kg7 19.Nf5+=) 17...dxe4 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Qxf6 gxf5=

16.Nxe7+ Qxe7

Do I need to defend this pawn? Actually, yes. If I try 17.Rad1?!, he can't take with the knight, since 17...Nxe4 18.Rxe4 Bxe4 loses to 19.Nf5! However, he can take with the bishop: 17...Bxe4 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Bxf6 Qxf6 20.Rxe4=. During the game I saw the line 17... Bxe4 18. Rxe4 Nxe4 19. Qxg7 Kxg7 20. Nf5++ Kg6 21. Nxe7 Kh6 22. f3, but this clever combination loses the exchange. Hence 17. f3.

18.Qg4 Nf6
19.Qg3 Nh5
20.Qg4 Nf6
21.Qg3 ½–½
OK, I'm a chicken to take the draw here, I am a little better and should play Qf4 or something. I just somehow didn't feel like playing anymore. Partly I was tired from a super long round two game (next post, I promise. I accidentally brought the scoresheet to work and left it there.) Partly I had been depressed about feeling like I was worse and frustrated that he kept declining my sacrifices. In future, I resolve to get more exercise and improve my physcial condition. And also to be less of a spoiled, whiny baby.

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