Saturday, May 24, 2008

You know who is my big hero?

You know who we should all forget about Kamsky and Nakamura and Bhat and Krush and focus our sponsorship dollars on? (No offense to the above people, who are all excellent and otherwise deserving chessplayers.)

Ray Robson.

That kid is like a sweet-tempered winning machine. I'm watching him crush Varuzhan Akobian like a little child at the moment (
Ray Robson -- GM Var Akobian
Chicago rd 2
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.f4 e5 5.Nf3 exd4 6.Qxd4 c6 7.Be3 d5 8.0–0–0 Bc5 9.Qd3 Qb6 10.Bd2 dxe4 11.Nxe4 0–0 12.Nxc5 Nxc5 13.Qa3 a5? [13...Na6 14.Be3] 14.Be3! Nfe4 15.Rd4! Qc7.
Find white's winning move?

16.b4! axb4 17.Qxa8

He plays so incredibly well. Eugene Perelstheyn did a beautiful video of Robson beating him on, in case you want to see a Robson game.

He's also a very nice kid. I was fortunate to draw him a year ago in the New England Masters-- I can play a few good moves in a row sometimes, but I am nowhere near this kid's level. Shabalov joined us for the post-mortem and it was pretty much just Ray and him analysing, with me occasionally interrupting to ask a question or to see a line again. At no point did Ray act annoyed to draw me or incredulous at how slow I am at analysis.

Someone should step up and sponsor that kid, even just as a patriotic, here's-an-American-who-can-win-the-world-championship gesture.

Update: OK, he just lost, whatever, time pressure, but check out Friedel schooling Nakamura.


Anonymous said...

Isn't he a recipient of one of the Friedman/Schein fellowships? Not exactly a corporate sponsorship but a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

I too was surprised Robson hasn't gotten more press/hoopla/support, especially from the USCF and its media organs (such as they are).

You could mention that he made 3 IM norms in the space of something like 6 weeks last November and December. That means he's now an IM-elect, since his FIDE rating is above 2400.

Achieving norms in such quick succession is really awesome. Most players must literally work years to do that, no?

Well, maybe not in the case of youth players, who get to travel abroad for free and play for free in many overseas events that are limited to other youth, some of wom are over-rated; and some of the youth events provide not mere norm qualifications but automatic titles for winning a single tournament. (The African Under-16 Champpionship, which awarded an automatic IM title to a 2100 who finished first against 1600-1900-level opposition, is the most infamous example.)

While one Robson's norms did come in a World Youth event, his other two were earned in the good old USA. In the third event, he had already clinched an IM norm by the halfway mark! (He went 4/4 against 2 GMs and 2 IMs in the first four rounds. He even seemed to have a lock on a GM NORM - he was tied for first after 7 rounds - but then managed just 0.5 point from his final four rounds.)

All of that said, the position shown here is trivially easy. Anyone above 1800 should spot the winning move instantly, and not only when someone tells you (as here) that it's "White to move and win," but even in a tournament game when there's no external sign that there's a forced win to be had....unless of course one is so intimidated playing against a GM that one's brain blocks out the very thought that there could be an easy win in the position.

Anonymous said...

Very impressive play. After he played 16. b4!, Robson had more than half an hour left on his clock. Curiously, the game continued:

17. ... b6 18. Ne5? [18. Rxb4 wins] 18. ... Bf5? [18. ... Bb7 19. Qa7 Ra8] 19. Qxf8+? [19. Qxc6 wins]

Tom Panelas said...

Ray got a lot of attention here in Chicago last fall when he earned his first IM norm. Seems like an eternity ago now.

His Chicago triumph, I should point out, was also very good for Chicago chess; it got us a lot of attention, too.

He's the real thing.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

You're right; good work, Friedman and Schein!

I agree the tactic is not terribly deep, but that's part of what I meant by "crush like a little child". When have you ever outplayed a GM to such an extent that you had an easy win on move 16?

Anonymous said...

Liz wrote:
"When have you ever outplayed a GM to such an extent that you had an easy win on move 16?"

I'm the same guy that posted the second comment. Now that you ask, I can think of two instances against GMs - the first of which took place about 6 weeks ago - and one against an IM. Partial game scores appear below.

The moral: As I recall reading when I was a kid, "Even grandmasters put their pants on one leg at a time." (But Liz is more qualified than me to confirm that particular observation.)

A) Me - anonymous GM #1:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. h3 g6 5. Bd3 Bg7 6. 0-0 0-0 7. Re1 Nc6 8. Bc2 e5 9. d4 cxd4 10. cxc4 Qb6 11. d5 Nb4 12. Bb3 Qa6? 13. Na3 Bd7? 14. Bd2 Nd3 15. Bc4 Nxb2 16. Bxa6 +-. White will now end up ahead 2 minors for a rook and no pawns (with best play). I played second-best and was soon up "just" a pawn with the better position to boot, after 16...Nxd1 17. Bxb7 18. Rab8 18. Rb1 Ba4 19. Rb4 a5 20. Rxa4 Nb2 21. Rxa5? (instead 21. Bc6 would leave White ahead 2 minors for a rook, as noted above).

(Somehow I still managed to lose this game.)

B) Anonymous GM #2 (in simultaneous exhibition) - me: 1. e4 b6 2. d4 e6 3. Bd3 Bb7 4. Nf3 c5 5. c3 cxd4 6. cxd4 Nf6 7. Qe2 Nc6 8. Nc3 d5 9. e5 Nd7 10. Bg5?? Nxd4 -+. Black eventually won.

C) IM Jay Bonin - me (alright, this one was a mere IM...)

1. c4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6 4. a3 f5 5. d5 Nf6 6. Nf3(?) (the horse belongs on h3) Na6 7. g3 Nc5 8. Bg2 Nce4 (White will now have trouble maintaining his d5-pawn) 9. Nxe4? fxe4 10. Ng5 exd5 11.cxd5 Bxd5 12. Qc2 Qe7 13. Qxc7 h6 14. Nh3 Bc6 15. Bf4 g5 16. Rc1 -+. Now I had the pleasant choice between trapping White's queen on the kingside, or trapping it on the queenside. The latter, via the fearless 16...gxf4! 17. Rxc6 dxc6 18. Qxc6+ Kf7 19. Qa8 f3 20. Bf1 Qd7, would have compelled White's immediate resignation, as the forlorn queen on a8 would soon be lost for a minor piece. Instead I went for the first option, trapping the queen on the kingside, which proved less clear: 16...Nd5? 17. Qe5 gxf4?! 18. Qh8. The White queen stayed imprisoned on h8 for a long time, but I was unable to win her, and she emerged on move 31. White eventually won.

Anonymous said...

ray is a genius but he totally sucks as a bughouse partner.